Enter the Snowflake's lair... Circulation: 179,088,154 Issue: 437 | 2nd day of Eating, Y12
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Number 400: Part Two


by fallingrain05

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To celebrate my spiral into madness, Rachel suggested we take a trip to Mystery Island. Well, she did not exactly say it that way. She just (quote) decided that poor Cyan had too much stress built up so a holiday was necessary (unquote).

     But when I piped up and told her that Paria always loved the beaches of Mystery Island, her face grew dark and then falsely cheerful.

     “Of course! We can’t forget dear Paria now, can we?!” she practically screamed in my ear. “In fact, let’s ask her to come too!”

     I contented myself thinking that Rachel wasn’t exactly the shiniest coin under the Money Tree, and proceeded to slouch off. I knew, I knew that Paria existed. If not now, but definitely she had existed. But the only proof I had were my memories of her, and memories faded away with time.

     I lay on the sandy shores on the beach, tossing and turning. The waves would break and splash cold droplets of sea water on me. I suddenly had a vision of Paria downing in those waters, and quickly shook that thought away.

     I heard the cries of two red Unis happily playing around in the water, the incessant crashing of the waves, but the sound that deafened me was the silent scrutiny of my owner.

     I knew she was afraid of me. Afraid that I would suddenly crack. I was tired and weary of her constant surveillance; I needed time to be alone.

     With this, I broke away from the beach in a run. I knew she tried following me, but I could run faster than her, and she knew that. I ran through the thick brambles of the forest, panting heavily. I knew that had long lost my owner, but I just kept running. If I ran, I was tired, and that distracted me from the real pain I held in my heart.

     I felt something more than I saw it. There was something in the forest besides me. My breath caught, as I increased my pace. But whatever it was could move faster than me, I could feel its cold breath over my fur. It seemed to move with a sort of fluidity, an inhuman movement.

     The Ghost Lupe.

     I had heard rumors about him, but I had never actually met him. I began to panic as my breath hitched against my throat. All this while I kept thinking to myself, I can’t die now! I have to find Paria! I have to know what’s happened to her!

     I tripped over a tree root, tumbling into the weeds and foliage of the forest floor. I closed my eyes for what I thought was going to be my imminent death, but nothing came. Instead, I felt him glide over me with a gentle whoosh. And then, in my ear, he softly whispered.

     One word. One word that ignited hope in my crumbling heart.

     “Paria.”

     ***

     It was cold and dark. And very lonely. I would reach forward with my shaking paw to touch those cruel steel bars. They burned me their icy touch and I would draw back, whimpering. I cried but no one would hear me, my voice muffled by the cold.

     But I did not always touch ice when I reached forward. Once I put my paw forward and touched warmth. That warmth was small and furry and had a nice smile.

     That warmth was Paria, grinning at me beyond my cage.

     ***

     Paria was still here. She was still in this world, this time I was fully convinced of it. Back at home, I knew I had to find some clue that could link to her mysterious disappearance. But my family’s watch on me was strict, as if they were afraid that I would suddenly do something irrational and crazy.

     Well, what I did was crazy, but not irrational.

     Salamadria saw me. I had creaked open the little blue door at the end of the hallway when she caught me.

     “Cyan, what are you doing?”

     Fighting to keep my voice normal I said indignantly, “What? Can’t I use the toilet now and then?”

     The suspicious light did not leave her eyes. “You can use the one upstairs.”

     “What’s wrong with this one?” I stood my ground. “Now, excuse me.”

     I pushed past her rather roughly and locked the door behind me. The toilet looked and smelled the same way it had the day Paria disappeared. It made me sick to be in here, but I fought it down. I combed every nook and cranny of the tiny room, but my efforts proved fruitless as they yielded nothing.

     Nothing, except the small twinkle of light on the floor.

     Gingerly, I bent down and examined it. It appeared to be a tiny piece of glass. I glanced at the mirror, it was completely intact, and so it could not have come from there. Picking it up to eye level, I realized that it was not transparent as I thought, but coloured a dull blue. It had only appeared transparent lying on the cold, blue-tiled floor.

     Being a Lupe, I sniffed it to examine it, and immediately caught a faint burnt smell. This piece of glass had obviously been exposed to some high intensity source of heat, I reasoned. The whole thing was getting stranger and stranger.

     I sniffed it again, this time, more intently. I smelt something metallic this time. It was faint, but certain. The metallic smell seemed to be from something out of this world... something far far away from here. Then it hit me.

     Of course, the Space Station.

     Why would a piece of glass from the Space Station be here? I mused as I absentmindedly twiddled it between my paws. But it didn’t matter so much to me, as it gave me this small, glorious hope that Paria could be found. That she hadn’t completely vanished.

     The only problem now was, obviously, getting to the station without anyone noticing me. I couldn’t leave the house alone because Rachel would insist on following me...

     I rushed out of the toilet and into Salamadria’s room. She, being a girl, would have lots of girly stuff, like clothes. I rummaged through the closet and found an old sundress, a pair of sunglasses and a fake mustache. Hmm, I thought, this’ll do.

     I waltzed proudly out of the door and right into Rachel’s line of vision wearing that ridiculous get-up. Her mouth opened when she saw me.

     “Who are you?!” she demanded.

     “Um... I’m, like, a robber,” I told her, “and I’m here to, like, rob you and stuff.”

     She stared at me and I prayed that she would act in character.

     “EEEKK! A robber!” She screamed, “Get out of my house, you villain!”

     “Um... k.” I ran out of the house gratefully.

     Sometimes it helps to have an owner who um... wasn’t as smart as Eliv Thade.

     ***

     The trip up to the Station was uneventful. A white Grundo ushered us all into the ship, which drove us up to the main lobby of the Space Station. If I hadn’t been so preoccupied thinking of Paria, I probably would have realized that this was my first time traveling out of Neopia.

     The lobby was rather crowded, and the mix of smells left me confused and threw me off my scent. I heard lost babies wailing for their parents, some important looking commander tell something important to his not-so-important lieutenant and then, inexplicably, the tiny tinkle of glass.

     At my feet, a small, colorful marble had rolled. I stared at it in shock, before glancing upwards, and noticed a blue Grundo clad in black hurrying to the lift. It took me some time to react; I scooped the marble from the floor and ran after him, only to have the lift doors slam shut in my face.

     Howling furiously, I banged on the door with my paws, demanding entry.

     “Hey, kid.” I felt a heavy hand on my shoulder. I glanced up and saw a big Grundo security guard glaring down at me. “That’s for authorized personnel only.”

     “No one mentioned that,” I mumbled sourly.

     He pointed to the lift doors which read: Authorized Personnel only.

     “Oh” was the last thing I said as he hurled me roughly to the floor and went back to doing whatever big orange Grundo security guards were supposed to be doing.

     I had to find another way in. Carefully, I sidled up to and equally big but green Grundo security guard.

     “Hey,” I said nonchalantly. “Where’s that lift go to?”

     “What business is that to you?” he replied in a monotone.

     “Um... I like, work here,” I lied, “and I’m like, new. So I want to know.”

     “Oh.” He seemed satisfied. Someone obviously wasn’t hired for his intelligence. “That leads to the upper decks. It’s where the staff sleeping quarters are and where the more technologically advanced weapons are ke- hey, shouldn’t all this staff be in the staff handbook?”

     “Err... my Meepit ate it.”

     He shuddered at that thought, patted my back sympathetically and slouched off.

     So those lead to the sleeping quarters and weapon storage, I thought to myself again. What business would Paria have in there...?

     Then a horrible thought hit me. I saw Paria being dragged away by one of those huge security guards, and then bound and gagged somewhere in the bunks, while a dark figure held one of the ‘technologically advanced’ weapons to her head.

     Fighting to quell the nausea that had suddenly erupted in my stomach, I desperately tried to think of a way to get up that lift. That blue Grundo definitely had something to do with Paria. Why else would he be carrying her marble?

     It was then I noticed a yellow Ogrin running around with these giant suitcases. They were marked ‘Authorized Use’. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that ‘Authorized Use’ and ‘Authorized Personnel’ usually went together.

     “Hey, look, everyone!” I shouted, “It’s the Giant Omelette!”

     The reaction I got was epic. Everyone’s heads turned and the Ogrin dropped his suitcases. After all, who doesn’t like free omelette? I took this opportunity to sneak into one of the suitcases, but had to throw out this weird looking orange gun to fit in. Oh well, I thought, hopefully it wasn’t worth a million Neopoints or something.

     Presently, I felt the suitcases being picked up. My heart was beating in excitement as I heard the lift doors open. But my excitement cut short when two metal balls hit me on the head.

     After what seemed to be ten minutes and ten bruises later, I heard voices. Straining myself to listen to what they were saying, I could faintly pick up the conversation.

     “This is all the stuff ordered?”

     “Yeah, I’ll just leave em’ to you then.”

     I was dumped harshly on the floor. I heard whoever it was unzipping the suitcases carefully. I can only imagine the poor guy’s shock when, instead of an orange gun, he found a blue Lupe at his throat.

     “Wh-wha-?” was all he managed as I held him by the collar.

     “Where is she?” I demanded harshly, pressing my face to his, so my heated breath exploded on him.

     “I-don’t-know-what-you’re-talking-about,” he choked out.

     “Where is she?! Paria!” I shook him roughly.

     “Who-is-that?” He was struggling against my grasp.

     “Paria! A little baby Xweetok!” I shouted in his ear, “I know you have her, don’t lie to me! Who has her?!”

     His eyes grew wide. “Baby Xweetok?” I nodded, seeing realization flash in his eyes, “Let me down.”

     I did so warily as he rubbed his sore neck.

     “Well?!” I demanded

     “Number 400.”

     “Pardon?”

     He glared at me with his little beady eyes. “Number 400. He’s the one you want.”

To be continued...

 
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» Number 400: Part One
» Number 400: Part Three



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