Meegla and Fargon's Not-So-Intergalactic Adventures: Part Three
The Sakhmet scenery rushed past Fargon’s face, turning into a sand-colored blur as he chased the Ogrin thief. Fargon, not possessing half as much agility as Meegla, found himself stubbing his toe on the corners of food stalls, tripping over wandering Gebs, and generally unable to run for long without failing in some manner.
Luckily for him, the Ogrin he was pursuing was not much better. He wasn’t a terribly fast runner to begin with, and he, too, had his fair share of stumbles. In fact, Fargon was so close to catching him at one point that, with all the strength his twiggy limbs could muster, the Ogrin threw a wheelbarrow of Tchea fruit over into the street to block Fargon’s pursuit. He even pushed the wheelbarrow’s owner down! True to form, Fargon couldn’t help but shout an impassioned, “Sorry!” over his shoulder after helping the unfortunate neopet to her feet.
The first chance he had, the Ogrin thief leapt up onto a stack of boxes leaned against a residential building, and proceeded to climb up onto the roof. Fargon had to stop to catch his breath for a moment, groaning in horror before he resumed the chase. This was about all of the exercise the Grundo was ever going to need in his life!
The Ogrin spotted Fargon over his shoulder. Desperate, looking side to side, he took a chance, and leapt from one roof to another, narrowly making it. Fargon ran up to the edge of the roof he was standing on, and looked down. He’d definitely survive a fall from this height. He glanced at the space between the two roofs. Not too far apart. But his stocky legs…
A rude laugh drew his attention back to the Ogrin thief. The Ogrin stuck his tongue out at Fargon. And with reason: he was getting away! Taking a deep breath, Fargon took a running leap.
He landed on the opposite roof… only to fall straight through it. Screaming as the dilapidated roof collapsed, Fargon sank down into darkness.
“Are you sure you’re not pulling my leg, you thief?” Meegla growled. She poked the Xweetok with her Elegant Ray Gun for good measure.
“I told you my name isn’t ‘you thief,’ it’s Nadine.” The Xweetok tossed her hair, getting some in Meegla’s face in the process. Meegla coughed and spat out pink hairs.
“Well, whatever your name is, you’d better not be leading me into a trap.”
The Xweetok gave her a not-so-reassuring grin. “Why would I ever mislead you?”
Meegla groaned. This brat was definitely going to betray her… But did she have any other choice?
Shortly after apprehending the thief, Meegla had tied Nadine’s wrists behind her back with a strip of an old Lost Desert flag she’d found in the alleyway. Then, using the barrel of her ray gun as incentive, she guided Nadine out of the alley and back out into the bustle of Sakhmet. But no matter where she searched or how loudly she called out, she couldn’t find Fargon. That was when Nadine had suggested Fargon might be waiting for them with her own partner, the Ogrin Qival. “We have a special rendezvous point for situations like these,” Nadine claimed. “If your sidekick followed mine, chances are they’re at our usual meeting place.”
Meegla didn’t trust Nadine, but she had no other choice. She didn’t like the idea of Fargon being alone with that Qival guy; if they were together, she had to get there and protect her friend, quickly.
Poking her temporary prisoner with her ray gun, Meegla hissed, “I’ll untie you when I get my neopoints and my first mate back. So long as you don’t double cross me, I won’t call the Palace Guards on you.”
Nadine agreed to these terms… perhaps a little too easily. As they went, the streets grew quieter, emptier. Age and filth seemed to flock here more readily than in the rest of the city, the buildings crumbling in a way that stood in stark contrast to the majestic, ancient quality of the richer parts of town. Every so often, they passed a desert neopet in rags, doing their best to sweep the sand from their doorstep, or hurriedly running inside at the sight of a strange Alien Aisha passing by. Meegla would feel sorry for these pets, if she weren’t so increasingly sure that something bad was about to happen to her. Small crowds are never a good sign. You should never let the enemy get you alone.
But she couldn’t abandon Fargon. And so, even though she was more and more sure she was being led to her doom, Meegla followed Nadine.
Finally, they arrived to what was perhaps the ugliest dilapidated building in the slums of Sakhmet. Scarabs of all kinds crawled from the holes in the sandstone. The door had long been torn off, and was replaced with a grimy fabric of some sort, which hung over the doorway. Meegla was hardly surprised when Nadine stopped in front of it and said, “We’re here.”
Meegla pushed Nadine forward. “You go ahead of me.”
A strange expression seemed to flash across the Nadine’s face, but it was gone before Meegla could read it carefully. “Okay,” the thief huffed. “Fine!”
They went inside, Meegla shuddering in revulsion when she was forced to touch the fabric hanging over the doorway. Despite the many holes in the ceiling and lack of a real door, the place they entered was pretty dark. Only the faintest sunlight entered from an undetermined hole overhead. Meegla and Nadine proceeded with caution, stepping over fallen beams and scattered shards of pottery.
There was a noise. Meegla turned her head towards the source, and swore she saw a figure sprinting behind a large, overturned stone slab. It was too dark to tell for sure, and Meegla wasn’t about to investigate. She wanted to get in and out as fast as possible.
Nadine suddenly spoke. “See that doorway? Go in there.”
Meegla looked at the dark, narrow doorway. It was highly suspicious. Undoubtedly, if she went inside, she’d be put through quite an exhausting ordeal to get back out again. With a great sigh, Meegla headed towards it anyway, sure to shove Nadine ahead of her first.
It was pitch black inside. Meegla jabbed Nadine with her ray gun and snarled, “Enough is enough! I’m not standing around in the dark all day! If we don’t see your partner soon, then I’m-”
There was the sound of a large cloth being torn down, and a sudden burst of light came from above. While Meegla was shielding her eyes, Nadine leapt away from her. Meegla started to pursue the escaping thief, but as soon as she did, a door shut behind her. She turned to see a brown Skeith holding it shut, grinning at her.
Furious, Meegla turned back to the center of the room, where the light was cascading down from a long broken ceiling. Nadine ran to join a conglomeration of neopets dressed in rags; when their upper arms were visible, one could clearly see a scarab tattooed there.
Meegla spotted five neopets other than herself and Nadine: one was the Ogrin thief from before, still clutching Meegla’s bag of riches, and there was also a Shoyru, a Korbat, the Skeith guarding the door, and a Kougra. But where…?
Out from the shadows stepped a tall, stony-faced shadow Ruki, dragging a split Grundo bound in ropes. Meegla groaned at the sight. But when Fargon saw her, his face brightened. “You’re here!” he cried. But his expression soured immediately. “You fell for their trap!”
“I didn’t,” Meegla insisted. “I knew it was a-”
“HA HA HA!” Nadine cried out, her wrists cut free by a comrade. “You fell for my trap!”
“I didn’t,” Meegla repeated. “I figured you’d ambush me.” She felt someone reaching for her ray gun, and swatted their paw away. The Skeith who’d barred the door grinned at her sheepishly, before skittering nervously out of her range of attack.
Nadine tossed her pink hair over her shoulder. She looked angry. “You did not see through my plan! You’re totally surprised!”
“Enough,” the imposing-looking Ruki cut in. He threw Fargon to the ground before him, causing Meegla to tense up, ray gun at the ready.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” the Ruki told her. Sleeves flowing with his movements, he swept his arm out to gesture at the number of the neopets in the room, reminding her. “If you attack me, they attack you.”
“Go ahead. I’m not afraid of a bunch of scraggly street urchins,” Meegla growled.
Fargon winced where he lay on the floor. “Don’t get ahead of yourself, Captain…”
The Ruki’s eyes narrowed. “We are not just street urchins. We are some of the finest thieves in Sakhmet.”
“The finest thieves in Sakhmet left you guys for the Thieves Guild,” Meegla quipped.
“What are you doing?!” Fargon hissed. Meegla was too preoccupied staring the Ruki down to answer.
The Ruki clenched his fists. His gaze didn’t waver from Meegla’s for a second. “Despite how lowly you may think of us,” he said, “we’re not without honor. I challenge you to a contest.”
“Can I trust a thief not to cheat?” Meegla sneered. She glanced away for an instant, and noticed the hostility coming off of the other neopets in the room. They seemed to hold the Ruki in high regard; given the way he addressed her, he was probably their leader. His little lackeys didn’t seem too thrilled with how thoroughly Meegla was doubting his integrity, and fixed her with an assortment of glares.
The Ruki smirked. “I don’t know. Can you?” From his pocket, he pulled a pack of playing cards. “I propose a game: if you can beat me, you get your sidekick and your neopoints back.”
”Fine,” Meegla spat, arms crossed like a petulant child. “Saves me the effort of fighting you.”
From the floor, Fargon couldn’t help but grin hugely. Yes! Meegla was going to rescue him the easy way, after all! Everyone was so focused on the conflict between Meegla and the Ruki that only Nadine happened to glance down and see the expression on the Grundo’s face. It puzzled her. Was that purely relief that Meegla came to get him? Or was there something else to his expression that none of them understood? A complete and utter certainty, perhaps…?
The Ruki held out a hand to Meegla. “I’m Heqet.”
Meegla looked warily at his thieving hand, only agreeing to clasp it after she had secured her precious ray gun to her belt. “I’m Meegla.”
“I know,” Heqet replied. She frowned, confused. Had Fargon told him her name already? Before she could ask what he meant, Heqet retrieved the pack of cards from his pocket, holding them up so Meegla could see.
“First game: Cheat.”
To be continued…