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||You are on Week 651
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 Six Hundred Fifty One Ends Friday, April 11
|"Ugh, what a complete dump."
Geddy kicked at some rubbish that had been left haphazardly strewn across the ground while making a sour look. The room looked like it hadn't seen a cleaning in years. Dust was on everything, Spyder webs were connected to everything, and he was pretty sure there was a makeshift Habitarium forming on a discarded sandwich with blue meat that was plopped clearly on the only bed.
He knew the place was called the Cockroach Towers, but even then this was completely unsanitary.
The Krawk tiptoed through the mess as best as he could. Even with how cheap this place was, it still felt like a ripoff. Thankfully, he only needed to stay the one day before he headed back home to Altador.
Still, considering how poorly his business deal had gone, perhaps this was the best place for him. Normally he could secure deals like they were nothing, but he was way off his game on this last trip and his big contract had fallen through. If he didn't have something big to give back to his superiors, then he'd probably be out of a job and have to move back to his old place.
As nasty as this room was, it was the Presidential Palace compared to his old place.
"Ugh, what to do..." Geddy muttered to himself before falling back into an old dusty chair in the corner of the room. It might have been bad, but at least it didn't have a nasty sandwich on it.
The Krawk lazily leaned back in the chair, bringing it onto two legs... and then it snapped to pieces under him, causing Geddy to land with a hard thud on the ground.
"Oooowwwwww... goodness," he said, rubbing his sore backside from the landing. Hopefully they wouldn't ask him to pay for the chair damage, but then again, if it broke while he was sitting in it, then the chair couldn't have been that sturdy to begin with.
I wonder if I still have that robot lawyer's contact information... Geddy thought, when something caught his eye. A rolled up piece of paper was sticking out of one of the broken legs of the chair.
Curious, the Krawk pulled the paper out of the chair leg and unraveled it...
Date: Apr 7th
...MeEt Me OuTside tHe BANk at MiDnIgHt, 7th DaY, MONth oF EaTIng. DoN'T tElL anyOnE, DOn'T bE lATe!
Geddy shuddered at the contents of the note, but given that his only option was to sit on the bed, he chose to take a deep breath and keep standing.
The note couldn't have even been for him. It was stupid to get worked up over a note that was meant for some previous tenant. Geddy shuddered again at the thought of the Cockroach Towers' typical clientele. This sort of thing seemed right up their alley, something they would do. The Krawk certainly never engaged in behavior like this.
He wouldn't even be in a dump like the Cockroach Towers if his deal had not gone south.
And yet... it was dated for the 7th Day, month of Eating. Either it was, in fact, meant for him, or it was meant for a Neopet who had stayed the night last year on the 7th day of the month of Eating. Both options were equally unlikely and equally unsettling.
What were the odds that no one had sat in that chair in the past year, or that it had not broken? What were the odds that this Neopian knew before Geddy did that he would be in this room and had time to rig it?
In spite of his unease and his insistence that this was all a weird coincidence, the Krawk could not help but be curious. What did the one who left the note want with the intended recipient? It might not be a business deal, but if he could get something of value out of this meeting, then maybe it would be worth his while?
Geddy spun as he heard a violent, yet soft, scuffling and saw the back-end of a Petpet scurry into a hole in the wall. He forced back a gag. Between that and the sandwich on the bed, he knew very well that he could not stay in a place like this.
I guess that's my mind made up, then.
Just before midnight, Geddy walked out of his room, keeping his head up and his strides purposeful. The desk clerk didn't even spare him a glance; he imagined he wasn't the only denizen of Cockroach Towers to wander out late at night.
The Krawk hardly saw anyone at all on his way to the National Neopian. It was reassuring that he had not been confronted, but unsettling since he assumed that Neopia Central had a more active night life. Was he being watched or followed?
The National Neopian had its security lights on, and with them, Geddy could see the clock in the lobby. He stood in the small pool of light, rubbing his arm nervously, as the clock's hands ticked nearer and nearer to midnight...
Date: Apr 7th
..."Mr. Gedediah Rockwell?" asked a gruff, yet sophisticated voice, less than a minute after the clock struck 12.
Geddy turned around suddenly. He could make out a tall figure hiding in the shadows of the alley beside the bank.
"Yes?" he answered tentatively.
The figure rustled and moved slowly toward him. As the yellow light of the security lamps hit it, Geddy saw that the figure was, in fact, a tall, old Lenny with an exceptionally dignified air. He stopped a few feet away from the Krawk and took a moment to dust his suit and adjust his monocle. A dark top hat sat straight on his head, and in his perfectly groomed wing, a gold-tipped cane was held.
"Ah, good. I am glad that you received my message," he said slowly, in the same sophisticated, gruff voice. "I do apologize for the secrecy and any confusion or anxiety it may have caused you. My assistant..." he paused, "...she reads a few too many mystery novels. At any rate," he continued, "please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Lord Regimand Pennyfeather, and I need your help."
Geddy's stomach churned slightly. What could Lord Pennyfeather want with him?...
Date: Apr 8th
..."What do you need?" Geddy asked, as he did his best to keep his voice despite the fact his insides were quivering.
Lord Pennyfeather held up his wing. "We mustn't talk out here in the open," he warned. "There are many ears that would love to hear what I have to say. Please, follow me and I will tell you everything as soon as it is safe."
This secrecy seemed odd to the Krawk, but he nodded solemnly as if this was all typical business for him. This seemed to please Lord Pennyfeather, who smiled softly as he walked over to the side of the National Neopian. After quickly glancing around to see if anyone was nearby, the sophisticated Lenny tapped on the wall three times. Geddy was confused by this action, but his confusion quickly morphed into surprise as he watched a secret door slowly open.
"You may enter, Brother Pennyfeather," a dusty voice stated.
"I bring the one," announced the Lenny, who turned slightly and motioned for Geddy to follow. Together, they entered the small room that Geddy had never dreamed even existed.
Although small, it was packed with other Neopians, all who were dressed as impeccably as Lord Pennyfeather himself. It was a royal Elephante who had opened the door, but he had moved across the room to sit in a broad chair where he could watch them as they entered. Geddy had no idea what he should say, so he simply stood there as Lord Pennyfeather shut the door behind them.
"Are you sure he is the one?" the Elephante asked.
"Quite sure," Pennyfeather answered. "He found the note that was left for him and he has come here, just as it was written."
"Uh, I'm not really anyone special," Geddy began. "I don't usually stay at the Cockroach Towers or anything, and I just happened to find the note when the chair broke. Honestly, I'm not sure why I even came here, but I don't think the letter was meant for me."
Lord Pennyfeather chuckled softly. "Of course it was meant for you, my boy," he said, "we have been watching you for some time now and, as I said before, my assistant left you that note."
"Why me, though?" Geddy asked.
The Lenny slowly sat in a chair that was nearly as elegant as himself. "Do you have any idea why your business deal fell through?" he questioned in return.
Geddy was surprised that Pennyfeather even knew about the failed deal, and at this point very little could have surprised him. "No," he admitted, "do you know?"
"Tell me one thing," Pennyfeather instructed. "What is it that you sell, exactly?"
"Nothing major," Geddy replied, "only insurance to cover any items that might be lost due to no actual fault of the insured."
Pennyfeather nodded. "And earlier today you were scheduled to sell one of these policies to a Mr. Kendell Biggles," he stated, "who just happens to own one of the largest malls in Neopia."
"Yes!" Geddy responded. "However, when I went to see Mr. Biggles he suddenly said that he wasn't interested. This was going to be a major account, but I'm not even sure how I lost it."
Lord Pennyfeather shook his head. "You didn't lose it," he explained. "Someone else got to Mr. Biggles first and made sure that he would turn down the deal."
As if waiting for this question, Lord Pennyfeather reached into his suit and produced a picture from an interior pocket...
Date: Apr 8th
...He paused, however, in the act of extending it. Gesturing to the sofa beside his chair, Pennyfeather patted the embroidered brocade. "Sit, dear boy," he bade Geddy. "You may well need it." Despite his attempt at a smile, a muscle twitched in his jaw. There was no overlooking, Geddy thought, the tension in the Lenny's features as he again proffered the picture.
The Krawk took it, automatically. His first glance told him little. The black-and-white image depicted a chamber as grandly furnished as the room in which they sat but nothing that might warrant especial note. The Krawk felt himself frown as he pored over it further, his claw moving, at last, to trace the outline of what could be a figure. The Neopet blended so perfectly with its dark backdrop that it was almost lost in the image. "Is it a Draik?" Geddy mused. If he peered closely he could distinguish wings and a long, serpentine tail.
Whispers rustled about the room before Lord Pennyfeather lifted a wing, silencing the general murmur. "You've a sharp eye, Gedediah." He nodded, with evident approval. "Yes," he went on, running a strict glance around, "she is, as you've guessed, a Draik." He took a breath before continuing. "Her name is Dianna Carmody and she was, once, our associate and," he hesitated, weighing his words, "our one-time leader."
"Your... associate? Leader?" With each word the other Neopet spoke the more confused Geddy felt. The countless, oft-monocled eyes boring into him worked only to add to the intrigue.
Lord Pennyfeather sighed as he exchanged a meaningful look with those closest to them. His gaze shifted to the Elephante across the space before he spoke. "We are," he began, "a private, members-only club."
"What kind of club?" Curiosity coloured Geddy's tone and made his voice loud.
"We're a club formed exclusively," Pennyfeather said, "of Neo-millionaires with shared business interests. We… well, gather to discuss business trends as well as ventures and strategies of ours." He steepled his feathers as he shifted to survey his fellow members. Throughout the room myriad heads were bobbing. "I am one of the current leaders, co-directing the group with Mr. Montmorency." The royal Neopet Geddy had noticed sniffed.
Geddy fidgeted with a tasselled cushion. His mind spun, rolling out tangled thought after tangled thought. After a lengthy silence, he returned to an earlier point of discussion. The Lenny had told him that someone, apparently this Dianna, had been responsible for the closure of his deal with Mr. Biggles. "Why would Dianna... err, Miss Carmody, want to shut down our deal?"
"That is," Lord Pennyfeather replied, "exactly my question. Our informants were able to determine only that Dianna had acted thus and I... we... do not know her reasons. "I had hoped to establish why she would want it closed through you. I... we... wish to procure your help."
Geddy's fidgeting became more pronounced. "What do you want me to do?"
The Lenny's mouth opened...
Date: Apr 9th
...when suddenly an alarm began to shrill.
"Intruder alert," a mechanical voice droned, between siren wails. "Intruder alert! Unauthorized Neopian detected in vault 46-A! Repeat, unauthor-"
Just like that, it cut off. Everyone in the room shared tense glances. Geddy's spines stood on end.
"This is not good," Lord Pennyfeather said, rather unnecessarily.
"What just happened? I don't – " Geddy began to say, but he was cut off by Mr. Montmorency.
"That's our vault," he said curtly. "Worse, whoever is in there knew how to disable the alarm. Too late to do them any good, but still."
"This isn't a coincidence," said a Hissi with a dapper suit and fedora. "Most Neopians don't even know that vault exists. Only Dianna -"
"Yes, I know, Mr. Fancetopp," Montmorency snapped. "Time spent arguing is time wasted. We need to get somebody over there before they can get away."
"I don't understand," Geddy repeated. "What's going on?"
The Lenny gave him a reassuring smile, but it came out altogether too tight and strained. "Somebody's attempted to access our group's vault here at the National Neopian. Few know of its existence. Fewer still know the passcodes. Of course, we rotate them on a regular basis, but it's only a matter of time-"
"Hurry up, Reginald," Montmorency growled.
"Yes, yes, I know." He looked back to Geddy. "Your chance to act is coming sooner rather than later, it seems," Pennyfeather mused. "We need you to go down there..."
Date: Apr 9th
...and give this to Dianna," Lord Pennyfeather said, pulling a small package from a pocket inside his suit.
"What... what is it?" Geddy asked, looking it over.
"Something of Dianna's," he said, casting a quick glance to Montmorency. "We would return it to her ourselves, but she obviously doesn't trust us. Believe us, we tried... but then we heard about you, and that's when..."
The power suddenly flickered, cutting the Lenny off.
"Reginald, there is no time! Once she cuts off the power..."
The Lenny let out a shaky sigh. "It's true. You need to go now." He turned to Montmorency. "Activate the elevator. The situation is truly desperate."
"Yes, sir," Montmorency said regretfully. He walked up to a bookcase and pulled out a stack of books, reached in, and pressed something behind them. The room suddenly went completely dark. Then, a small beep was heard and a small section of wall slid away, revealing a lit elevator behind it that cast a small square of light into the room.
"Listen carefully, Geddy. This elevator leads directly to the vault that was breached by our fair Dianna. When you get there, you must get the packaged delivered to her at all costs. We've heard of your 'dealings' before and have the utmost faith in you. Under no circumstances may she be allowed to open the vault. What would happen next would not only be catastrophic for us, but perhaps for all of Neopia. Do you understand?"
"No," Geddy answered honestly.
Lord Pennyfeather laughed sharply. "Well, hopefully it'll make more sense when you get there. Now, go! We're all counting on you."
Geddy was shoved into the light-filled elevator. The last thing he saw before the elevator door closed was the group of 'pets all looking grimly at him.
The elevator shot downward at an alarming speed. Geddy tried to make sense of any of this, but he couldn't.
As the elevator door opened, Geddy stepped out to see...
Date: Apr 10th
a shadow Draik standing at the end of a short hallway. Her back was to him, long scales shimmering in the light of the torch she was using to pry open a security box next to a giant metal vault door. The scene was exactly as the Neo-Millionaires had described. Even as he watched, Dianna deactivated another part of the security system, for the vault door slowly creaked open with a groan.
"Halt!" Geddy cried, shouting the first thing that came to mind. He watched as the Draik whipped around in surprise, showing him a pair of yellowy eyes.
"Who are you?" she said in a sharp voice.
"I'm... Geddy," Geddy responded, mildly surprised. "Don't you recognize me?" She had, after all, ruined his business deal.
Dianna squinted at him through the dim yellow lighting of the hall. "How did you get down here?"
"I know about the club. They sent me, actually. To give you this." He held up the small parcel in his hands.
The Draik's face had remained stoic throughout their conversation, but her eyes suddenly widened when they fell upon the package. Quick as wind, she had slithered down the hallway and snatched the package from Geddy's hands.
"Hey!" Geddy cried, but it was too late. She was already ripping off the wrapping to reveal...
Date: Apr 10th
...a sterling silver framed picture of Dianna at a younger age, surrounded by Neopians. Most of the Neopians around her were in this private club and still were. They looked like a very close-knit group.
Geddy saw her set it back in the package and she just stared at it. At first the Krawk found this all terribly touching. He felt he should say something to her.
"You know, sometimes me and my friends have fights. It always ends up okay, though, because we are loyal and true to each other," Geddy said with a big smile on his face.
Dianna slowly looked up at him with a blank face. "I'm guessing you are not a member of the club, because you have no idea what this is really about," the Draik said coldly.
"I was only trying to help. I was brought here as a last resort. I still really have no idea what's going on. This is all just stressing me out to no end." Geddy said this with a tone of anger. This was, of course, the Draik that shut down his deal.
Dianna said nothing and picked the picture frame back up. With a tear in her eye she threw the frame to the ground, breaking the glass.
Geddy jumped back, as this really startled him. He thought the picture was a peace offering to her from the club. He also thought that, at this moment, Dianna wanted no part of it or them.
Just as he was about to turn around and go back, he saw Dianna lean down to take something out of the back of the frame...
Date: Apr 11th
...It was a ring. Rusted with age, but still a ring.
"Some losses," Dianna said, "can never be compensated." She crushed the ring beneath her talons. "So much for my membership in the club," she chuckled softly. "So much for being a Neomillionaire."
Open-mouthed, Geddy could only stare for a moment. His only thought was that the ring could have been worth some Neopoints. As Dianna turned back to the vault, however, Geddy's mind leapt back into action and he shouted again, "Halt!"
"What is it, newbie?" Dianna said, visibly annoyed.
"You... you'll destroy Neopia," Geddy said, echoing Lord Pennyfeather's words.
The shadow Draik sat back and laughed. "Of course the club will say that. All they care about is Neopoints. This vault contains a large chunk of their investments, including Mr. Kendell Biggles'. Insurance won't save them now. If they lose all that wealth, why, their companies and all their employees will suffer, too. What do I care, though! It won't be the end of Neopia, that's for sure." She lifted out a bundle of banknotes and calmly began to burn them in the light of her torch.
"No!" Geddy shouted. It was too much for him. The memory of Cockroach Towers, and of his own pathetic abode, roared into his mind; he leapt forward and began to tussle with Dianna.
The Draik was stronger than him, however. Within moments she had pinned him against the wall.
"If you stop me, you good-for-nothing Krawk," Dianna hissed, "then you will go the same way as those bank-notes. Do you understand?"
"Why do you want to burn all that money, though?" Geddy asked in between gasps -- she was pinning him by the throat.
"So that they can stop using it to pretend they're better than others," Dianna said. "I admired them once. Like you, I was desperate once. I worked for them and I climbed in their ranks till I was one of their leaders, but did they value me? No. Did they come to my aid when I needed them? No. They said I was one of them; they gave me that ring to wear, and then in my time of need they left me. I was falsely accused of a crime I didn't commit. I spent years in prison, because not a single lawyer came to help me. The club figured that, if I was gone, then they could have more money to fight over among themselves. You ought to be thanking me," she added in a louder voice as Geddy struggled out of her grip and she pinned him once more. "I am saving you from my fate. You will remain poor, and free... you will never be one of the club."
Sounds came from beyond the passageway. Geddy watched Dianna's face; she seemed to be realizing the fact that, if she continued pinning him to the wall, then she wouldn't be able to finish her job. "I'll make a deal with you," Geddy offered. "You let me go, and I'll help you burn the money faster."
"Why should I trust you?" the Draik hissed.
"Because the other option is to continue fighting me, and that would take more time?" Geddy said, putting on the most practical-looking expression he could muster. "Whoever's footsteps we're hearing is 100% guaranteed to not be on your side," he added, helpfully.
Dianna snarled and let him go.
"Give me those bank-notes," Geddy said, maintaining his careful expression. She passed him a handful and he held them up to the flames of the torch, to show her that he could be trusted.
The Draik grinned. "Good boy," she whispered, passing him another stack of bank-notes.
That's when the approaching Neopet came into view... and Geddy ran.
Geddy leaned back in his new plush chair, lifted a glass of wine to his mouth, and sighed.
Between the new insurance deal he'd secured with Mr. Kendell Biggles, the commission he'd received from the club for helping them to delay Dianna till law enforcement came, and the stack of unburnt bank-notes he'd smuggled away from the vault, he was now quite well-off.
It had been quite an exciting few days, he mused. Sometimes you get a deal, and sometimes you don't... but when you succeed in getting a deal, then you're comfortable.
Until you start hungering after the next one.
Date: Apr 11th
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