Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 81,443,838 Issue: 150 | 23rd day of Swimming, Y6
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The Story of Stan: Part One

by waterboy711


Also by ridergirl333
Stan the red Kyrii was starving, he hadn't eaten for days. Either the Elephante guards of Sakhmet were getting smarter or Stan was losing his touch. He hoped it wasn't the latter; the last thing he needed was to spend some quality time in the Sakhmet dungeons. Quality time with the cellar rats- lovely.

      The shadows of night fell dark and ominous over the markets of the Lost Desert. Perfect time to get a little free meal, he thought. He surveyed the various stands, pottery, scrolls, jewelry... not helpful. Finally, his eyes spotted a stand selling Tchea fruits. The vendor was lying on a beach chair, fast asleep. Easy target. Silent as a shadow, Stan crept up to the stand. He pretended to look at the merchandise, but quickly stuffed several fruits into his satchel. The vendor stirred and snorted, causing Stan's muscles to tense. The Grarrl vendor turned over in his sleep. "Not right now, Mommy..." he muttered. "I'll clean my room tomorrow..."

      "GUARDS! GUARDS!" a frantic voice pierced the silence of the night. Panicking, Stan looked left, then right. From an alleyway came Stan's archenemy, Captain Scarab of the Elephante Guard of the Royal Kingdom of the Lost Desert. She immediately knew the reason she had been called. Perhaps it was Elephante intuition, or maybe it was because she had dealt with this Kyrii one too many times. In any case, she ran after him, followed by a score of guards. "Don't let him get away this time!" she shouted. "Move! Move! Move!"

      "Time to bring out my secret weapon," Stan muttered to no one in particular. He reached into the pocket of his tunic and felt around. His heart nearly stopped as he realized that it wasn't in there. His ring! His precious ring of invisibility. It was gone!

      No time to worry about that now. The guards were gaining on him. Drawing an "x" in the sand with his foot paw, he marked the ground so he would remember where he was when he lost his ring. Then, swift as the wind, he fled.

* * *

Dawn's first light approached as EmeraldFlame555 the green Scorchio stretched his arms and yawned, wiping the sleep from his eyes. He had taken an early start so he could beat the hot noon sun to all of the best tourist attractions. Last night, his owner, Ridergirl, had asked him to replenish their supply of Ummagines. But Emerald planned to do a lot more than that on his trip to Sakhmet. He had his owner's Neopoints burning a hole in his pocket and an entire desert to explore. But he was quickly distracted from these thoughts when he saw the Elephante Guard crowded around a stall not too far away. They were conversing in hushed voices. Something was wrong. Curiously, Emerald approached the stall.

      The stall was a normal vendor's stand, made of wood and painted in the sandy gold and maroon colors of the desert. With the exception of a few squashed Tchea fruits littering the ground around it, there appeared to be nothing out of the ordinary. "What happened here?" he asked one of guards.

      "Just finishing up a report, little hatchling," replied the guard in an official-sounding voice.

      Emerald took offense to this. "I am not a little hatchling. For your information I'm a full grown Scorchio...just with a minor height problem. You don't make fun of the disabled? Do ya? Do ya? Do ya?"

      The guard scoffed and turned towards the stall. Emerald walked away but kept within the general vicinity. A while later when the guards had left and the Scorchio was 300 Neopoints poorer, Emerald returned to the stand. Just my luck, he thought, one Tchea fruit left. He reached his hand out to take it when another paw batted it away. "Hey! What did you do that for?" he snapped.

      "Didn't your owner teach you any manners? You always let the lady have the last item!" Said the young red Usul. She reached and picked up the fruit.

      Something about this Usul turned Emerald off, so he decided that it would be fun to mess with her mind. He gasped. "Look! It's M*YNCI!" he squealed, pointing towards the other end of the bazaar.

      "Where?" the Usul asked, turning her head frantically. While her attention was diverted, Emerald snatched the fruit out of her paw and took a big bite. "You still want it?" He asked through a mouthful of Tchea.

      "You, you!" she growled at him. "You're evil! I'm going to..." she trailed off as Emerald began to choke on the fruit. "Are you alright?" she asked him -- slightly concerned and slightly amused.

      The green Scorchio put his hands around his neck. "Flipping Flotsams! He's choking! Wow, I saw this once! The guy fainted...oh that's probably not helping." The shop owner jumped over the top of the stall and yelled, "Everyone stay back! I'm a trained professional!" Unfortunately, the trained professional landed on a squashed Tchea and slipped, hitting his head against the side of his stall.

      "Men, you've got to do everything for them!" said the red Usul. She quickly positioned herself behind the choking male chauvinistic Scorchio and began to hit him on the back. Emerald coughed and spat out the fruit. He clenched his throat, gasping for lost breath.

      "You, you saved me!" he said.

      "Yeah, yeah, whatever. What I'm more interested in," she said, "is this." She picked out a golden ring from the upheaval. "It's awfully pretty. I think I'll keep it for myself as a token of your appreciation."

      "Hey!" Emerald yelled indignantly. "If it weren't for me, you'd have never found that ring! It's mine!" He dove for the ring, but she moved her paw to the side, causing Emerald to fall flat on his face. She put the ring on as a precaution. Emerald gasped. Looked up. Looked down. Looked around the marketplace. "Usul?" he called. "Oh, little Usul girl?"

      "What? What did you just call me? My name is Starling, Ms. Starling445 to you!" she said.

      "Where are you?" He asked, spinning around like a dizzy Screwtop.

      "Right here, you bumbling idiot!" the Usul snapped, smacking Emerald hard on the forehead. He whirled around again, losing his balance and falling for the third time in as many minutes.

      "I can't see you!" Emerald complained.

      "See this!" she shouted, picking up a squashed Tchea fruit and smashing it into his face, just like she saw at the Haunted Carnivàle. "And it's MY ring," she said.

      "No it's not, it's mine," he retorted.

      "And how, may I ask, do you plan on taking it from me if you can't see me?" She asked calmly.

      Emerald whirled around and gasped, "Look M*YNCI!"

      "Whatever," said Starling sarcastically. She turned and walked away, leaving Emerald shrugging and trying to explain to M*YNCI's bodyguards why a fan covered with Tchea fruits was trying to ask for the band's autograph.

* * *

That same evening, when the sun was just reaching the end of the world, Stan returned to where he reasoned he had lost his ring. The "X" he had imprinted in the sand was now gone but he remembered the spot like the back of his paw. Getting down on his paws and knees, he searched the sand around the stall for his ring. "Come on..." he muttered to the sands, as though willing them to uncover something. "I can't lose that invisibility ring, I just can't. It's my only weapon against Captain Scarab."

      "Ye're lookin' fer a ring o' invisibility?" Stan whirled around to see a Krawk, a street wanderer like himself, though much older and gruffer.

      "Yeah, how'd you know?" Stan asked, a bit wary of this shadowy stranger.

      "Ye were talkin' t' yerself. Gotta be careful when ye do that," said the Krawk, stepping into the light of the moon. "I saw yer ring earlier today. A young Usul had it, one by the name o' Starling. And a Scorchio by the name o' Emerald. Tourists from Neopia Central. A foolish pair, by the looks o' them, but one can ne'er really tell."

      "Thanks!" Stan called gratefully, already running towards the tourists' hotels of the city, the place where they would no doubt be staying.

      "No problem!" the Krawk called, but Stan was already out of sight.

* * *

Emerald, however, was far ahead of Stan. He had been searching for Starling's hotel for hours, unwilling to let the treasure of a lifetime slip through his scaled fingers. After many red herrings, he had finally found her room. He pounded loudly on the door. "Let me in, Usul!"

      Starling opened the door, looking miffed. "I told you, my name is Ms. Starling445. And you really ought to be more polite, Scorchio."

      "It's Emerald," the Scorchio said through gritted teeth. "And I want what's mine."

      "Okay," said the Usul, then slamming the door.

      Emerald grinned, hoping it would be like this. "Fine, we'll play your way."

* * *

Later that night, while Starling was sleeping, Emerald was attempting to convince the desk clerk that he was Ms. Starling's brother and that he needed to see her on a pressing matter. After some heavy duty lying, along with 200 Neopoints worth of bribe money, he was let in.

      He snuck into her room, pretending to be 00 HOG, but instead raided the pantry.

      Then, focusing on the matter at hand, he crept closer to her bed. Holding his wrist up to his mouth, he pretended he was wearing a walkie-talkie wristwatch from the Space Station, like the ones on the 00 Hog stories. "The Mortog is in the Whinny pen. I repeat, the Mortog is in the Whinny pen!"

      "What Mortog?" Starling asked, turning on the light. She was awake! Cursing his luck, Emerald bolted for the door. In his haste, he forgot to watch where he was going, and slipped on one of Starling's lace dresses.

      Starling marched up to Emerald, a thoroughly disgusted look on her face. "What are you doing in my room?"

      "Pretending to be 00 Hog," Emerald replied in his usual smart-aleck manner.

      "You won't let this go, will you?" she snapped. "The ring is mine. And the sooner you accept that, the sooner you can get back to living whatever pathetic life you live."

      Emerald gasped. She was really mad at him! "F-fine." He sniffled, trying his best to look dejected. Suddenly a smirk crossed his face, he said, "Either you give me the ring or I'll tell the Elephante guards that you stole it from me."

      "You wouldn't," Starling said, unable to decide whether he was bluffing or not.

      "What's it gonna be?" he asked, unable to contain his glee.

* * *

Captain Scarab of the Elephante Guard was furious! She stomped around her office in the palace, barking at everyone in her path. "You lazy little Slorgs!" she screeched, overturning a desk and scattering papers everywhere. "I ask twenty of you to find one measly little Kyrii, and you can't do it! Who hired you bunch of babbling Warfs!?!"

      " hired us, Ma'am," said one courageous fellow.

      "I don't care! It was a rhetorical question! Now go and scrub the toilets with a toothbrush!"

      "Fine Ma'am, but it'll be your toothbrush," he said with only a hint of a smile on his face.

      From the corner of her eye, Captain Scarab saw a tiny pink Meepit, staring at her with big, spooky eyes.

      "What do you want?" she snapped.

      The Meepit just stared.

      "You think you're a smart little Meepit! Well," she yelled, "so am I!!!"

      "Meep," the Meepit stared.

      "Fine, be that way!"


* * *

"I think there's only one thing to do," said Starling in an attempt to stop Emerald from calling the Elephante Guards. By the look on his face, she could tell that it wasn't working very well. "You see, they would probably just take the ring because...," she searched for a reason. "...because I would tell them that you stole it from me, and you would say that I stole it from you and both our pawprints are on it so...yeah."

      Emerald scratched his head in confusion. This girl is REALLY annoying me, he thought.

      "Listen, what we should do is..." He wasn't sure what they should do but, even if he couldn't have the ring, he did not want her to have it. "Let's give the ring back."

      Starling's mouth dropped. "To whom do you suggest giving it back to?"

      "Who, what one person can you think of that would be using a ring of invisibility in the Lost Desert?"

      "I don't know. Who?"

      The green Scorchio was enjoying this. After all, it wasn't every day that he had the upper hand in intelligence. Famous thieves, however, was his specialty. He let the suspense build inside his opposite and finally spoke, "Stan."

      Starling gasped. The thought of dealing with an infamous thief had never occurred to her. "Might he be... dangerous?"

      "Dangerous?" Emerald snorted. "EmeraldFlame555 doesn't know the meaning of the word."

      "Grab a dictionary, ignoramus," spoke Starling.

      "What does that mean?" asked Emerald.

      Starling rolled her eyes and said, "Besides, only a fool is not afraid."

      Emerald laughed. "I guess that makes me a fool."

      "Well, I guess you're right about one thing."

      "That I'm a fool?"

      "Yeah, but another thing too," Starling said. "We ought to return the ring to Stan. After all, it is his ring. And if we don't return it... well, that'd make us criminals too."

      "So what?" Emerald said. The sad part was, he wasn't kidding.

      Starling ignored this comment. "I'm still a bit nervous about dealing with a criminal, but I can't let you go alone. You'd probably keep the ring all for yourself."

      "And I can't let you go alone! You need a strong Scorchio man to protect you."

      "I won't go alone! I will bring a big strong Scorchio man : my brother."

      "Well you need a big, strong, mature Scorchio man," Emerald said, sticking his tongue out at her.

      "Once again; my brother."

      "Whatever," Emerald said disgustedly. "Let's just return the darned ring and return to our separate lives."


      "Fine. Tonight, meet me at the market where we found the ring. At eleven o'clock sharp. Don't be late, unless you're chicken."

      "I'll be there, though I don't expect to see you." As Emerald left the hotel room, Starling called, "Have fun hiding under the covers!"

      When Emerald was outside, he reached into his coat pocket and felt the tiny ring inside. "Score, Pickpocket Scorchio: 1. Stupid Usul girl: 0."

      Meanwhile, Starling admired the tiny silver key in her paw; the key to Emerald's hotel room. "Pickpocket Usul: 1. Stupid Scorchio boy: 0."

* * *

Stan crept like a shadowy wraith in the total blackness of a Lost Desert night. Every step he took was muffled by the sands; an art he had perfected at a young age. Though he didn't realize it, he had passed the room of the young Usul girl whom he stalked about 5 minutes ago. He had been lost in thought :

      What would happen if he couldn't find the ring? Would he be able to go on? What would he do?

      The ring was what protected him, and at this point in his life he needed all of the protection he could get. Suddenly, a petpet made a horrible noise on the inside of one of the hotel rooms and he was startled out of his thoughts. He checked the door number. Crud! he thought as he saw the door number was 59 and he was supposed to be at 25.

      He made his way back to the room, staying in the shadows as before. This time, however, he paid more attention to the door number. When he arrived at number 25 he realized that he did not know how to approach the matter. It was possible that he could sneak in on her, or just burst in. The girl was measly, but he had a suspicion that she might have a good right paw if there were a reason to use it.

      Sneaking in, he decided, would be best. He picked the lock on the door and slowly opened it. He heard the sounds of labored breath and violent thrashing. At first he thought that she had awoken in a fright from the sound of the door creaking open, but then, when the panting and sounds of movement on the bed continued, he figured she was just having a nightmare.

      Carefully, ever so carefully, he opened the door all the way. Keeping his eyes on the floor, he noticed that she was quite messy. Her toys were strewn about the floor with no particular order and the laundry bin was overpoweringly stinky. Albeit all these, he walked onward.

      As he rounded the corner into the bedroom, he paused. Taking a deep breath in and exhaling, he recited quietly to himself an old chant his parents had taught him for relaxation. "Nunu Yanu. Nunu Yanu."

      He snuck next to the bed when the worst thing that could have happened to him did. BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! Off went a space-station alarm clock. Stan tried to run out of the room, but the stupid Usul was fast. She darted to the door before he even got a chance (though tripping over the Usuki dolls did slow him down) and flicked on the light.

      "I know who you are!" she gasped.

      "Then you know you'd better take care. Back away slowly, little girl, very, very slowly."

      "I will not!" she said in a commanding voice.

      "You underestimate me," he said. He ran at her and, pulling out his seasonal battle duck, aimed and attacked her.

      "You wretched..." she began, but before she could finish he had her tied up and was dragging her to the Lost Temple of Sakhmet...

 To be continued...

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