The Great Race: Part Four
“Knock.” Kanuah crossed his arms and stood next to the door.
Sirenia winced as she stepped up to the door and knocked.
They waited, then the door was opened. A blue Acara with a tattered scarf around her neck and goggles on her forehead stood in the doorframe.
“Hi, Ylana.” Kanuah greeted his friend.
Ylana looked from one to the other with a frown. “Aren't you two supposed to be in a race?”
Kanuah walked in and took off his cloak. “Ask Sirenia. I've got to see Racon; I assume he's in the garage.” He walked out of the room.
Sirenia smiled nervously at Ylana, who turned her hooded eyes to her. Ylana scared her sometimes. She never smiled, rarely talked, and didn't care for any sort of entertainment. “This guy offered a short cut through a portal; it seemed good enough.”
Ylana turned away and began to get down cups and plates. “We already ate, but I can get something for the two of you.”
Sirenia set down her pack. “Thank you, Ylana.”
Ylana set coffee in front of the Peophin. “There are only five portals in Neopia. None of them lead to Neopia Central.” She turned her back and lit the stove. “I know what it's like to make mistakes.”
Sirenia looked up, surprised. That was the most that Ylana had ever talked to her, or told her. Racon had found Ylana in the pound. Ylana_Skyf1re, she had scared off all the owners that wanted her, but she had let Racon take her when she befriended Racon, Dayna's Aisha. She never told anyone why she had been in the pound in the first place.
“Kanuah!” A blue fuzz ball flew into Kanuah's arms.
Kanuah hugged Jubia, a JubJub. “Hey, little guy.”
“Kanuah?!” a voice called from under a partly dismantled hovercraft. A boy rolled himself out from under it. “What are you doing here? You're supposed to be in Neopia Central!”
Kanuah sat on the tool bench. “That's a story.”
Racon was Dayna's best friend. He was a handyman that could fix anything. He always had his tool box and work goggles shoved up on his forehead. Dayna had named her Aisha, Racon, after Racon her friend. He was for the most part easygoing, but now his forehead, which was covered in black smudges, was creased in a frown.
“And that's why we're here, we need a lift off this island.”
Racon pulled on his canvas vest over his shirt. “I outrigged a boat with a motor; I can take you as soon as it's light. There's too many rocks around Krawk Island to go in the dark.”
Kanuah sighed and ran a hand over his ear piercings. He was hoping to be off the island that night, but he would take what he could. “Thank you.”
Racon started up the stairs that led to the house. “It smells like Ylana's getting some food ready for you guys. Come on. You should get as much food and sleep as you can.”
Jubia climbed up Kanuah's shoulders. “So you can stay the night?”
Kanuah ruffled the top of Jubia's head. “Looks that way.”
Racon kicked open the door to the kitchen. “I've got a hungry traveler that wants feeding, Ylana!”
The Acara set a steaming bowl of stew in front of Kanuah. “Here.”
The Lupe picked up a spoon and dug in. “Thank you, Ylana.”
“You're welcome.” Ylana poured a cup of coffee and set it in front of Racon.
“Thank you, Ylana.”
Kanuah nudged Sirenia who had her head lying dejectedly on the table. “If you're done, you should get some sleep.”
Sirenia looked up at him. “Are you still mad?”
Kanuah took a sip of the coffee. “No, we all make mistakes; yours cost us a day of traveling, but it could have been worse.”
Sirenia hugged her brother. “Thank you!”
Kanuah tugged on her mane. “Just get some sleep.”
“It's a beautiful mornin' for a ride!” Racon put his goggles over his eyes as the boat motor coughed to life. “Let's go!”
Kanuah sat in the front of the boat and leaned against the side. Sirenia sat next to him. “How long will it take to get to Neopia Central?”
Racon gunned the engine and the boat speed out of the small dock. “All day!” he yelled over the roar of the engine.
Sirenia sighed and put her head on the side. “Great.”
“Uh huh.” Racon hurriedly jiggled various levers. “I think we have a problem.”
The engine coughed to a stop.
Kanuah sniffed the engine. “I would say we have one too.”
Racon kicked open the top of the engine. “Here's our problem, a missing valve.” He hit his forehead. “Jubia! He was messing around with this the other day. He always seems to have a piece left over when he finishes putting something together.” He muttered a few choice words on his JubJub. “It will take me about an hours to rearrange it so it will work again.”
“Great.” Sirenia sighed. She lifted her head. “Hey, Racon, what's that?” She pointed behind the boat.
Racon lifted his head from the work on the engine. “More trouble, that looks like a banger band.”
A dull thud sounded from the water.
“Yup, that's a banger band.”
Kanuah drew his katana. “What's a banger band?”
“Groups of water neopets that travel around, tip over small boats, take anything of value, and split. They bang their weapons together to intimate their victims.”
Sirenia pulled out her blaster. “Nothing we can't handle.”
A Jetsam fin broke the surface. Sirenia took aim and fired. A laser hit the top of the fin giving it a notch. The fin disappeared. Sirenia dove in after it. After her eyes had adjudged to the underwater light, she could see eight neopets, mostly Jetsams and Flotsams. They all were looking at her. She held out her blaster at arms length, letting them know she meant business. A Darigan Flotsam made a motion and the group spread out to surround her. The Flotsam was about to motion for the attack when he stopped. He sheathed his thief dagger and motioned to the rest. They all sheathed their weapons.
Sirenia looked down, it was the necklace that Plesio had given her. “It's a gift from Plesio.”
The Jetsam nodded. “We may be pirates, but we respect the rule of the sea; no one attacks anyone under Plesio's protection.”
Sirenia bowed. “Thank you.”
“Where are you headed?”
“Neopia Central. My brother and I need to get there in a hurry, we're suppose to be in a race, but we got off course.”
The Flotsam stroked his chin. “Plesio helped my band once. We were were attacked by a sea monster and his sea division saved us.”
He mused to himself then nodded. “We'll help you get there, I'll consider my debt paid then.”
“Really! Thank you!”
“Get in and throw us a tow rope.”
Sirenia jumped into the boat. “They're going to tow us to Neopia Central.”
Kanuah sheathed his katana. “How in the world did you get them to do that?”
Sirenia was busy getting a tow rope connected. “I'll explain after we're moving again.”
“I think I've got the motor online again.” Racon slammed the lid closed. He had been working on the engine as they had been towed. “I'll be able to get home at least.”
“And there's Neopia Central in the distance.” Kanuah leaned over the front of the boat.
“We should be there by nightfall.”
“Those are the Haunted Woods?” Ankhele looked apprehensively at the dark looking forest. “Our checkpoint is in there?”
Luke looked at the list of contacts. “He lives in Neovia; we have to go through the Haunted Woods to get to it.”
Ankhele tightened the straps on her pack. “Let's do it... quickly.”
“Thanks!” Kanuah, Sirenia and Racon waved goodbye to the banger band.
They had refused payment. “I want my debt paid, not lessened,” the leader had said.
Racon turned to the two travelers. “I'm going to stay with a friend for the night, and head home in the morning.” He hugged Sirenia and slapped Kanuah on the back. “Good luck.”
Kanuah strapped on his pack and pulled out a map. “Our contact lives next to the pound. I say we check in, and keep running. We can be halfway to the Haunted Woods before midnight. We've had a rest.”
Sirenia was already running. “Sounds good.”
“Oh, look at that shop!”
“Oh, there's a bakery!”
“Sirenia, don't make me blindfold you.”
Kanuah and Sirenia ran past the various shops of Neopia Central. Sirenia's head was constantly turning as she tried to see everything.
“There's the pound, and the house.” Kanuah ran up the front steps and knocked on the door. A girl opened it.
“There you are! What took you so long? We....”
Kanuah was already running down the path. “We're here, there's the circlet, we're gone, thanks!”
The girl blinked. “Oh.”
“Enough!” Sirenia collapsed on the grass.
They were in the middle of an a grassy plain that lay between Neopia Central and the Haunted Woods. They had been running all night.
Kanuah spread out his cloak and wrapped himself in it. “We'll start at dawn.”
“How about just before dawn?”
“Whenever you wake up.”
“Do you think they're ahead?”
To be continued...