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Storytelling Competition - (click for the map) | (printer friendly version)

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Week 930
You are on Week 931
Week 932

Every week we will be starting a new Story Telling competition - with great prizes! The current prize is 2000 NP, plus a rare item!!! This is how it works...

We start a story and you have to write the next few paragraphs. We will select the best submissions every day and put it on the site, and then you have to write the next one, all the way until the story finishes. Got it? Well, submit your paragraphs below!

Story Nine Hundred Thirty One Ends Friday, January 20

The year was 20XX. Civilization had been wiped out by the Space Fungus menace. The few survivors were mostly in space, and the Alien Aishas were the prominent survivors. One such Alien Aisha, Gargox V, travelled through the blackness of space as a bounty hunter, though some would call him a mercenary.

Gargox travelled with his trusty companion, Rocket the Shocket, and they travelled the galaxy looking for new bounties. Most of his jobs consisted of using his ship's ray gun to disintegrate Space Fungi which were terrorizing the remaining peoples.

"What do you have for me today?" Gargox turned to Rocket, who beeped at him in response.

Rocket's face turned into an LED screen which had a message on the front of it. "Twenty Space Fungi for 20 thousand Neopoints."

"This oughta be easy." Gargox grinned, his gritty demeanour masked by his beard.

He flew his ship to the designated location on the LED screen and looked around, though, no civilization could be seen. Instead, there were only the sign that Space Fungus had been there.

"Darn!" Gargox frowned, "Too late."

Just then, there was an emergency beacon not far from where he was.

"This oughta be them." Gargox nodded, holding out for hope that there were some survivors.

He started to fly his ship into the direction of the beacon, until, suddenly...

Author: triarthrus_eatoni
Date: Jan 9th
he was surrounded by foreign ships on all sides. The job-- it was a trap, wasn't it?

It was like they materialised right then and there, suddenly appearing out of nowhere. The tinted windows of the fleet prevented him from finding out exactly who these Neopets were, not that he'd recognise any of them after being on his own for so long. He wasn't left wondering for long though; his intercom rang with an incoming transmission.

"Gargox V, this is Captain Lilithium, Chancellor for the Dimensional Researcher's Association, and you are being taken in on suspicion of the theft of the Holo Crystal Shard. Come peacefully now or we will take you in by force."

Gargox didn't know what he was expecting to hear, but it definitely wasn't that. He flicked a switch and his own transceiver buzzed to life. "What are you talking about?! I've never even heard of any holo-crystal-thing!” He hollered, tacking on a, “and if I did steal something, I wouldn't be dumb enough to get caught."

"Exit your ship and our crew will come get you. A trial will be held to determine your guilt, and prove your crime beyond a reasonable doubt. There's nowhere to run, Gargox."

He did consider it. They'd got the wrong guy and they were cutting into his time to rake in the Neopoints, but... it was true. He was surrounded, and there was no way he'd be able to make it past them. He scratched his beard in thought, trying to come up with some way-- any way, to give them the slip. Alas, there wasn’t one.

He set his ship to automatic, putting in coordinates to keep it in the same general area that it was already in, and set it to low-fuel mode. There was no doubt it'd still be there by the time he got this little interrogation over with. There’s no way they had any proof. He was innocent, after all.

Besides, if anything did go wrong on his ship, he trained Rocket to fix most issues.

He stepped into the airlock alone, then out of the ship, and let himself be cuffed and taken in.

______

He learned immediately that all of the occupants were Dimensional Neopets, more of them altogether than he'd seen in his life. Once he boarded their main ship he was immediately brought to the interrogation room, where he was greeted by a glowing, translucent, Kougra.

“Agent Wix of Division 6,” she greeted, gesturing for him to sit down. There wasn’t anything on the table save for her case folder and a small remote. The chair was standard, empty, and beckoning him.

“I didn’t steal anything,” he said once he took a seat. Best to get that out of the way-- he was not admitting guilt.

She narrowed her eyes. “Is that so?” She challenged, pressing a button on the remote, turning on a screen, mounted on the north wall.

“That’s-” he cut himself off, stunned speechless by the footage of him. His face, his body, breaking into a vault of some kind and stealing what he presumed to be the ‘Holo Crystal Shard’. That was him, but he had never seen that thing in his entire life. He was positive he had nothing to do with it, yet that Aisha on screen looked just like him, down to the last hair on his beard. It was bizarre.

“Explain this,” she told him, smirking at his pale face.

“It wasn’t me!” He affirmed, suddenly feeling way more nervous about being declared innocent. If that was shown at a trial, they’d declare him guilty! “It has to be fake-- or-or doctored! I’m being framed!”

“Still won’t confess? Even after being confronted with the evidence of you being caught in the act?” He didn’t answer. She clicked her tongue, shaking her head as she ordered, “detain sir Gargox V for the time being. Put him in… the level 8 security clearance cells.”

And with that, the crew members that brought him onto the ship dragged him off toward wrongful imprisonment, and there was absolutely no escape. He couldn’t believe it. He needed to find out who framed him, and fast.

The trip to his cell was concerning as well; they had mutants, locked up in tiny little glass cylinders, like some science experiment gone wrong. The other prisoners didn’t fare much better, leering at him from their own cells, only thing separating them being rows of (probably highly dangerous) lasers instead of normal iron bars. He counted at least thirty cells before they arrived at his own. One of the guards swiped a card into the reader beside his cell and the lasers turned off. He was thrown unceremoniously into his cell, the guard swiping the card again and effectively locking him in.

He stood up and brushed himself off, turning to look at his place of confinement.

Gargox thought he’d faced all the surprises that could be thrown at him that day, but he was wrong. He couldn’t help but gasp at his cellmate, someone he recognised immediately. It was…

Author: syd_the_pegasus
Date: Jan 10th
...himself.

Or, rather, himself before he'd grown his (magnificently dignified) beard.

The Aisha in the cell was the spitting image of Gargox V perhaps a year ago, before Gargox V had splurged on a bottle of Neo-Speed-E-Beard-Gro after collecting a particularly nice bounty. He'd thought the beard would make him look tougher and more experienced, but now he was really wishing he hadn't bothered.

Gargox's less-hairy double looked at Gargox. "Huh. I guess there's a bearded me. Guess they got you too, eh?"

"Yes," said Gargox V, nonplussed. "Who are you?"

"I'm pretty sure I'm you," said the beardless Aisha. "Just from a different timeline. I'm Gargox V. That your name, too?"

Gargox V nodded mutely.

"All right," said the beardless Aisha, "I guess maybe it'd feel weird to call us both the same name, and since you're the new guy, I'll be nice and say you can be Gargox and I'll be... eh, let's go with Gary. Anyways, from what I've gathered, these Dimensional Research Neopets developed a device that lets them teleport, and not just in normal space—they can hop to other dimensions and parallel timelines. Which is why we're able to meet each other. What'd you do to tick them off, anyways?"

"I didn't do anything! I was framed!" Gargox exclaimed. He explained everything that had happened, and Gary frowned.

"I can see why they're so upset," said Gary. "That device I mentioned? The one that lets their ship travel between dimensions and timelines? It's powered by a Holo Crystal Shard. Without it, they're stuck in this timeline. They won't be able to get home, or even send a message to their fellow researchers, until they get it back."

"What, they don't have a spare?" said Gargox.

"Well, they did," said Gary, shrugging. "Until I stole it. And then accidentally dropped it... in space."

"You what!?" said Gargox, taking a step towards his double, who took a step back.

"Hey there, calm down," said Gary. "I'm not the one who threw you in here, remember? And I'm not the one who framed you, either. No beard, see? Anyways, I guessing I'm not a thief in your timeline. Or... you're not a thief. Wording gets a little tricky when you're talking to another of yourself."

Gargox's eyes narrowed. "No. I'm a bounty hunter."

"Okay, so instead of stealing things for Neopoints, you shoot things for Neopoints. Gotcha," said Gary. "It's a life of adventure, at least."

"A thief," Gargox muttered. "And a clumsy one."

"Hey!" said Gary. "I don't usually drop things in the vacuum of space! But one of them got the drop on me just as I was about to re-enter my spaceship, and before I knew it, there went the crystal, and then I ended up here."

Gargox slumped against the wall of the cell. "None of this is helping me figure out how I'm going to get out of this mess. If there's another me running around out there that looks like me who actually stole these Dimensional Research-whatevers’ crystal shard, where did he come from? And why is he doing this?"

"Well, the obvious answer would be that he came from another timeline and stole the Holo Crystal Shard for a nice fat pouch of Neopoints,” said Gary. “Though that leaves the question of how he would have gotten to this timeline. He’d have had to stow away in this ship, I’d think, unless one of the parallel-timeline-Gargoxes is, like a spacetime travel researcher or something. Anyways, probably no sense worrying too much about it. We’re both stuck in here for now; security’s pretty tight, and I haven’t been able to figure out a way to crack it, but you know what? They didn’t take away my deck of playing cards!” Gary pulled out a little deck of cards. “Until now, I’ve been stuck playing solitaire, but now that I have a cellmate, maybe we can play—”

Just then, all the lights went out.

A startled cry rose from the guards and prisoners both, including, to his embarrassment, Gargox.

With a crackle, the intercom came on, and Gargox heard a familiar voice—his voice!—say “Hold tight. I’m here to break you out...”

Author: cookybananas324
Date: Jan 11th
***

...Gargox, Gary, and someone who introduced himself as Gerry were dashing through Level 8 in the dark.

"Can we trust you?" Gary asked.

"You don't have much choice, do you?" Gerry replied.

They were sure there were guards after them, but the total outage had decommissioned the lasers holding the prisoners, prompting a riot. Given some of the other creatures and mutants locked up there... why, those guards might have their hands full, if they still had hands to fill.

"Did you frame me?" Gargox growled amidst the chaos.

Gerry scoffed. "Why, I saved you!"

"That doesn't answer my question!" cried the original Gargox. And then he had a moment of self-reflection -- was he the original? What did that even mean, in a multi-dimensional universe where there were tending to the limit of infinite copies of him? He was original to this universe though, surely--

The lights went on, scattering his thoughts like a double slit experiment.

Gargox noted that Gerry had his marvellous beard, but he was argon in skin tone rather than green like himself and Gary. Argon and... almost translucent. Dimensional? Gerry narrowed his eyes. "I guess it wasn't you," he muttered under his breath.

"Darn straight it wasn't," declared Gerry. "But I know who did it. And we're going to go get him."

The prisoners realised they had been led by this third version of themselves to the hangar of the ship. "Come," commanded Gerry, "I'll explain everything soon." The three knew escaping was their chief priority.

They hopped in a pod and shortly launched off into the inky depths of space.

It wouldn't be long before enemy ships surrounded them, but Gerry seemed to have that covered; he showed them his version of Rocket, who was an Oscillabot that had the power to temporarily cloak the ship he was riding in.

"OK," the argon Alien Aisha spoke. "I've been following that thief -- the one who presumably framed you, Gargox -- through multiple dimensions now." He held up his own laser gun with his own version of the Shard built in. "This is my portal gun. I made it when I was doing research alongside the Dimensional Researcher's Association in my original timeline. And no, I didn't steal the crystal... I was given it. To covertly hunt down the version of me who is successfully stealing them and cutting off communications between the DRA ships in different dimensions." He turned to Gary. "No offence to your thieving skills, mind you."

"None taken," the failed thief replied cordially.

"But that thief... that version of us... He is specifically targeting multiverses where the Space Fungus ransacked the region of space-time in which Neopia is situated. I want to know why. And I know you want to clear your name." He nodded to Gargox.

Gargox nodded mutely in response, trying to process all this.

"So I would appreciate if you both followed me in this. I know I can't trust anyone, especially not myself, but... go with the devil you know, right?" He smirked. "The thief is probably gone to a different universe by now," continued Gerry. "And we're gonna have to follow him..."

Author: rielcz
Date: Jan 12th
"How exactly are we gonna do that?" Gargox asked. "No offense, I believe you know what you're doing, but doesn't a multiverse mean that there could be billions of worlds that have been ransacked by the space fungus? How are we supposed to find the one where this impostor has gone to?"

"It's easier than you think." Gerry replied, installing his laser gun into the mainframe of their spacecraft. "Whenever you break a barrier, there is a resultant vibration equivalent to the force of the impact. Throw a stone in water, you get ripples. Break the sound barrier, there's a sonic boom. Our friend on the other side just broke the dimensional barrier. The signs of his jump, albeit faint, would be radiating throughout both the dimensions. We just have to harmonize with the vibrations and... There!"

Gargox noticed that the Oscillabot's screen had started to flash green. Gerry turned a few dials and pressed a couple buttons before calling out to his shipmates. "Fasten your seat belts. The ride won't be smooth."

The shard on his laser gun started to glow bright as the ship fired a pulse of energy into the void of space, which swirled into a glowing spiral. Both Gargox and Gary just watched awestruck as Gerry steered the ship into the portal.

———

After a duration of time that paradoxically felt like mere seconds as well as an eternity at the same time, there ship was thrown off into the other side, landing with a crash.

"I don't think we'd be able to fly again without repair." Gargox said, rubbing his head as his eyes ventured into the place they had landed into. As far as he could see, it was just barren grey rocks full of craters. "Looks like we landed on some moon."

"Not just any moon..." he heard Gary from his right, who was looking outside the window. "Look!"

Gargox matched his line of sight, his jaw dropping as he saw the large blue planet that was once the home of Neopians. He had forgotten how beautiful the planet looked before the space fungus apocalypse. "Neopia!" he whispered, unable to contain his surprise at the fact that the planet was completely fine and flourishing.

"It's seems this world hasn't faced the fungus attack, yet." Gerry said, rubbing his chin. "That's weird. Don't let that stray us from our goal though. We're here to find this thief and have a nice and stern chat with him about all the mishaps he's caused."

"I think that can be arranged!" the voice of Gargox, surprisingly, came from Rocket the Oscillabot. Before the three of them could react, a hologram popped in front of them with Gargox's exact face, right down to the beard.

"You!" Gargox clenched his fist. "You are the thief who framed me!"

"Can you even frame yourself?" The holographic Gargox said unironically. "Nonetheless, I'm sorry, it wasn't intentional. And I'm not a thief, or a bounty hunter or a researcher for that matter."

The scene around them melted away as images started to appear, showing a civilization of Alien Aisha thriving on a small establishment near the Virtupets Space Station. "I was just a normal little kid with loving parents and friends, living a normal life, until..."

The images shifted as a massive colony of Space Fungus started to appear over the empty sky, increasing in numbers with each second. "They destroyed everything! My home, my people... Once it was over, I was the only one left."

The image of the crying little Aisha faded as they were back into the ship. The hologram Gargox continued. "I joined the Rescue Operation, in hopes to maybe save others from my fate, but there was not much to save. Once the attack began, the Space Fungi just devoured civilisations after civilisations, rarely leaving survivors. I knew I had to do something bigger than just being reactive. That I had to eliminate the threat from the source before it got a chance to affect anyone."

"And that's why you stole the Holo Crystal Shard." Gerry said. "But even with that, you cannot change what has already happened."

"Oh, I was getting there." The holo Gargox smirked. "See, I found a way..."

Author: knightwolfalex
Date: Jan 13th
“A way to travel back in time?” Gary asked, his beardless mouth ajar.

“Yes. You see, if I use the Holo Crystal Shard to travel to one space time continuum, then use it again within the residual ripples of the dimensional barrier, it takes me to the same dimension, but just at a different time,” Gargox’s twin said.

“That’s incredible. Can you control where in the timeline you’re transported?” the original Gargox asked.

“That’s the unfortunate part… I can’t. At times, I’ve done this and it’s sent me back thousands of years. Other times, it’s sent me into the future. I have yet to perfect it.”

“Hmmmm…” Gerry said, stroking the nearly translucent skin of his chin.

“What?” Gargox prodded, interested in Gerry’s input.

“These ripples in the dimensional barrier… Can you see into them?” Gerry inquired.

“The rate of speed at which they pass would make it almost impossible, sadly,” Holo Gargox replied, still a bit perplexed.

“But if we could slow them down somehow… Would that give us a better view of where we would be transporting to?” Gerry continued.

All four Gargox duplicates looked between themselves, realisation lighting up the eyes of each Alien Aisha, one at a time.

“I think I have an idea”…

Author: i_lovee_icecream
Date: Jan 18th
Gary pulled the original Gargax aside "We need to go back and find out who Gerry is, I have a feeling he's the key to all of this."

"We don't know the first thing about him, I'm not even sure that's his real name..." the original Gargox pondered.

Nonchalantly, they both turned around facing Gerry and the duplicate Gargaxes and did their best to conceal the growing suspicions.

"I once met a Shoyru in my journeys that ran an ice crystal shop. He sold me a freezing potion, I don't know if it will help slow the ripples, and it's fragile, but it may be our last hope." Gerry said, pulling a translucent blue fluid in a flask out from his magnificent beard.

The duplicate Gargoxes pulled their ears under their chins and stroked them in unison, pronouncing their enjoyment of such an endeavour.

Gary eyed the potion warily, "Even if it does slow the ripple and we can transport to a specific point in time, where would we go and what would we do?"

Gargox's eyes widened with perspicacious enlightenment, "When I was a kid I used to spend hours in the library reading every book I could get my hands on, some of the best were in the written by Jhudora, by the way... she had such a fondness for mycology, but I digress... In the book 'How to Avoid Poisonous Mushrooms' it details how to get rid of unwanted fungi, as well as how to avoid it in the first place."

Gerry eagerly awaited the explanation of how to rid the unwanted fungi when all of a sudden...

How will this story end?

Author: actiontal
Date: Jan 19th
...the ship came alive with flashing red lights and loud blaring alarms.

"They're attacking!" shouted Gerry as he dashed to the ship deck and started fiddling with controls. "The space fungus!" There was a loud metallic bang and the ship rocked, causing Gerry to fall over.

Gary turned toward Gargox, panic in his eyes. "How do you get rid of unwanted fungi? What do we do!?"

"Deep down," called Gerry as he painstakingly got to his feet. "I know you know! I know you, we are you..."

Time slowed, flowing and ebbing around them. Gargox turned to look through the giant window... He saw the space fungus coming in waves at the ship, coming from...

Yes. Coming from Neopia itself.

He remembered. The menace had been created there... Here, he realised as he found himself back on the planet he once called home, replaying his memories. Home. Home? Yes, home, before it had been utterly destroyed. He was an alien from a distant world but came to Neopia for biological studies, and he came to love the planet.

He had always been interested in... mycelia, especially its more "practical" uses -- poisons, but also anti-poisons. Fungus, potent and ubiquitous throughout the worlds, truly was... alien. He came to pursue a doctoral degree at Brightvale University. Not under supervision of Jhudora -- no, she had long since retired -- but under one of her best students. A dimensional... Ixi? He couldn't recall anymore. But he remembered, deep in the recesses of his mind, what he and the rest of the researchers called her: Professor Sik.

Yes, Gargox remembered. He had once been Gerry.

Professor Sik's research team had worked to develop a novel and especially aggressive fungus, one that could replicate and spread very quickly. Though involved with the project, Gargox had no oversight in its applications... He wondered how it might be used, envisaging some positive benefits like being a fast-spreading vector for treatment of certain diseases.

His curiosity made him dig into it, and dig he did... and he realised that the samples he had been given to look at were some of the more benevolent strains; there were massively poisonous and damaging fungal variants being studied by the lab that he had not been privy to. He also learned the project's major funder was heavily interested in its destructive tendencies, on paper for military and/or torture purposes, though Gargox knew only the worst would happen if the most aggressive strains were set into the wild. So, he stole the fungal strains... but before he left the lab, he was caught and apprehended, and in the ensuing struggle dropped them.

Yes, Gargox remembered. He had once been Gary.

And though he had been wearing the appropriate safety equipment and survived, his apprehender did not. Nevertheless, the Space Fungus -- truly an unfortunate misnomer, for they had originated locally -- escaped the research lab and spread quickly through Brightvale and Neopia Central at large. They adapted to their environment and grew larger and even more destructive.

But through his studies, he'd become intimately familiar with poisons, anti-poisons, and mycelia. When the Space Fungus wreaked havoc on Neopia, he was one of the best equipped to stop it -- though he did so from underground, as his academic career was ruined. He refined his anti-fungal poisons, and with some help from other members of the lab who rebelled he developed his arsenal of weapons. But it was too little too late, for the fungus had already spread to the point where -- even with Neopia's technological advancements -- they could not defeat the threat.

But he still had his cultivated technology. He knew what he was doing. He became the bounty hunter he was today, today, now trying to defeat them all over again.

Yes, Gargox remembered. He was... himself?

Himself. Gargox. The true, original Gargox. And maybe the others were, too.

"We can defeat them by overloading them with Selenium!" he shouted. "A small amount and they grow stronger, but too much and they can't handle it and explode—!”

And then reality froze.

***

The next thing Gargox knew, he was coming to in a blindingly-white room, arms and legs cuffed to a cot surrounded by beeping machines. A small table sat before him, empty but for a white cloth draped over its metal face.

“Where am I?” he wanted to shout, but just the thought of speaking made his parched throat ache. How long have I been here? he wondered instead. Just a moment ago, I was on a spaceship orbiting Neopia…

“Well, you thought you were,” a familiar voice echoed off to Gargox’s left. He turned his head, and saw Wix staring at him through a slit in an otherwise white, puffy door. “That was all fake, my dear.” A metallic creak issued from the door, and the Kougra entered Gargox’s chambers, wielding a clipboard and a ray gun that glowed with other-dimensional light. “A ‘simulation’, as you Neoplings so like to call it.”

“I—“

“Don’t talk.” Wix tapped her forehead, where a small device buzzed. “I can hear your thoughts just fine. Do ask any lingering questions now — we have a few minutes before we close the curtain on this experiment once and for all.”

Experiment?

"Yes, dear. Our researchers seeded your mind with that doctored video, and then took you to our greatest achievement of modern... intelligence gathering," she continued, choosing her words carefully. "Level 8, our prized research lab." She gave a grin that could have sent even the sanest Neopians into an anechoic chamber. "The light and sound waves there, without proper protections, put you to sleep. And once you were soundly slumbering, running to and fro in a world of your own creation, we decoded, modified, and re-encoded your emitted brain waves to form a sort of… video-feed into your mind’s eye.”

So you created the alternate versions of myself?

"Oh no, dear, you did that yourself. We just used AI to create more… realistic manifestations of yourself, and assumed control of some of the moving pieces. It was especially fun to show you some of the technology we have in terms of time travel and dimensional projections." She took out the very much non-stolen crystal and set it on the small, wheeled table between them. "You have quite the interesting history, my dear Dr. Gargox... Oops, I guess we can't call you that, as you never finished your degree." She barked a laugh. "Surely you understand the slipup — it’s been a long day, manipulating your thoughts and whatnot.”

Gargox felt himself get angry, but knew it was pointless to fuss. So you wanted to know how to defeat them. Why? And why me?

"It's obvious, isn't it? You are among the last survivors of Neopia — the last of us with memories of a future before all this chaos — and we want the same thing that you do, deep down..." Wix gave a sardonic, self-satisfied smile. "To go back in time, across all realities, and end the fungus before it completely destroys Neopia. We just thought it was easiest to pick the brain of someone intimately involved in the project than to go about creating a solution from scratch.” She waved her clipboard about to punctuate her words, revealing flashes of scrawled notes and sketches of the ray gun now gripped in her paw. “And let’s be honest, dear, you’re a bounty hunter now — it’s not like you’d freely tell us what you know. We had to wrestle it from you, one way or the other. I mean, you clearly didn't share my mother's vision, beautiful as it was… and it’s not like her research is around anymore for us to reference." She shook her big head. "Though you may have paled as a researcher, you were a better survivalist. You escaped, and we thought we’d lost you… until you took that bogus bounty and fell right into our trap.”

The cogs in Gargox’s head whirred, and he looked at the crystal Wix had deposited on the table, an idea forming in his head. Before he could form a coherent plan, however, Wix’s voice scrambled his thoughts—

"—The DRA funded that project back on Neopia, you know, and my mother was chairwoman. Her plan was always to release the fungus. Release the fungus, let it destroy the planet... but before any of that, her lab was going to develop an antidote, and we were going to use it to destroy the fungus..." There was that insane grin again, and Gargox felt a surge of discomfort… but also bravery, rumbling deep within him. Assuring himself that Wix was engrossed in her rambling, he began to tug on his restraints, feeling them stretch wider under the pressure.

“Great timing, wouldn’t you say?” Wix continued, ignorant of Gargox’s attempts to free himself. “Stepping in with a solution for Neopia at the precipice of its destruction — swooping in at the last moment with the answer for the last, desperate remnants of society.” A laugh escaped the Kougra, turning into a full-throated cackle. “Then, we Dimensional ‘pets -- the world's greatest researchers -- would be hailed as saviours, finally reaching our deserved place at the head of society. A society that previously only cared about actresses… athletes… influencers… but not academics. Never academics.” As she paused for dramatic effect, Gargox thought she might notice that he’d freed the arm closest to the table beside him, but she was too busy monologuing. “We were finally going to get the recognition we deserved. And we will. Better late than never.” She raised the ray gun, fixing it on Gargox. “And you, my dear, will be the first to join us. Once you’ve become a Dimensional ‘pet like us, we’ll assure you’re rewarded in line with your contributions to our cause…”

Gargox, horrified, finally realized who the true enemies were the whole time. (Technically, he had realized it halfway through Wix’s speech, but she had really hit it home with that last bit.) And, in his horror, Gargox did what could reasonably be seen as his only option: He screamed. Loudly, shrilly, and at a high enough pitch to make Wix’s ears ring. As the Kougra cried out and yanked the mind-reading device off her forehead, Gargox reached over, stretching as far as his remaining restraint would allow him, towards the Holo crystal laid out on the table before him.

As his paw brushed its humming crystalline exterior, there was only one thought on Gargox’s mind:

WARP!

***

Somewhere, thousands of alternate dimensions away…

“… so, what were you saying?”

Gerry regarded Gary from across the table of their favorite intergalactic diner/portal hub (conveniently situated at the end of the universe), sipping the dregs his Cocoa with Sloth-mallows as he recalled what he’d been meaning to say. Collecting his thoughts, he set the mug down and wiped a stray puff of whipped cream from his beard, splaying his hands on the table as he said:

“Well, I was just about to tell you the story of Gargox, the bounty hunter who almost saved Neopia from its Space Fungus woes.”

With a sigh, he produced a holoprojector from his pocket, along with a few Neopian Fun Stamps to clear their tab. With the click of a button, a holographic pickle appeared above the base of the holoprojector, the image of Gargox flickering with every tremble of Gerry’s wrist. From the ridged green of his skin to the scratchy beard growing approximately where a mouth should be, it was unmistakably the woebefallen hero of yore.

Gary covered a gasp with his paw. “They… they turned him into a pickle?”

“No,” Gerry said, lips turning in a grimace. “He did this to himself. In a final bid to give the Dimensional Researcher’s Association the slip, Gargox used a Holo Crystal to fling himself into a new dimension… our dimension. Of course, without the proper training or safety equipment, his travels had… unintended consequences.”

There was a long silence, during which Gargox’s projection seemed to regard his Aisha clones. And then he was gone, essence collapsing into the machinery of the holoprojector.

“Well, that’s all I got this time, kid,” Gerry said, rising from his seat with a grimace. “Make sure the waiter-bot gets his tip this time, yeah?”

Gary smiled up at the older Aisha, nodding his head in understanding. He felt a solid clap resound against his shoulder and fade away as Gerry made his way across the diner, waving his goodbyes to the other regulars and nodding at the robotic waitstaff. And then, Gerry was at the door, holding his glass helmet carefully in his paws as he decided where to go next.

But before he could leave, Gary’s voice stopped him. “Gerry? I mean, sir?”

“That story you told me…” He hesitated, looking at his feet. “… it’s the funniest thing I’ve ever heard.”

“I know, kid,” Gerry replied, flashing a grin. “Believe me, I know.”

With that, he secured his helmet into the fastenings of his spacesuit and pushed the door open, the welcome bells chiming merrily as he disappeared into the vast reaches of space.

THE END

Author: tttxyv & rielcz
Date: Jan 20th



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