I arrived home and was greeted by a subdued Un-eairkagh.
"He's not home yet," was all he said.
That was all I needed to know. I headed to the
kitchen and called up Sakuko. She informed me that Netsuko had indeed found
Aldrai but that he had quarreled with her and left.
"What?!" I shrieked as soon as I hung up the
"I can't believe this! This… this is unreal!"
I staggered into the living room and collapsed
on a bean bag chair.
"Kiddo?" Un-eairkagh asked, following me, "What's
"Aldrai fought with Netsuko."
The striped Eyrie just stood there, stunned.
"But… that's…. that's almost against the laws
of Neopia. That doesn't happen. What's going on with my brother?"
I sat up. Might as well be honest with him.
"He's using too much magic. I think it's starting
to affect his actions. Light magic has a very low tolerance for anything not
associated with its nature. I think that intolerance is starting to bleed into
Aldrai's personality. And no one is perfect. That's why he's getting so uptight
"So what do we do?"
"Get him to realize what he's doing and make
him stop using magic. There's not much else I can do."
"But you're the Essence!"
I laughed hollowly.
"A lot of good that's going to do. The power
of Neopia behind me. The Elemental Spear as my weapon. I'm completely unstoppable
if I need be. But what good is all the power in this world at my beck and call
if I can only use it against Aldrai? Neopia is a primal and dangerous place,
Un-eairkagh. I can't force him to change his mind, the magic I can summon isn't
that subtle. Besides, I wouldn't do that, not against my own pet. The only power
I have at my disposal is brute force. Whether to help or hurt, it's still just
brute force. I can't use it against Aldrai. I'd either hurt him or drive him
even further away from us."
The Eyrie was quiet for a few moments.
"So we have no options," he said quietly.
"No options except to talk to him and hope."
We were both quiet for a long time until the
door bell rang. I hurried over and opened it. Sabreur stood there with my buggy
in the driveway.
"I didn't think I'd get it done for a couple
days but Drake_da_dragon helped some after you left," he explained, holding
up the keys, "So, you ready to take it for a drive? Maybe we'll find Aldrai."
I nodded and grabbed the keys. I let Sabreur
in and hastened to my room to gather up my purse and license.
"Anyone want to come with me?" I called as I
dug up my wallet from underneath a couple books on the floor of my room.
I met all my pets downstairs where they were
eagerly peering out the window at my buggy. I escorted everyone out the front
door and to the driveway where I stared at my vehicle in dismay.
"What on Neopia did you do?" I asked of my brother.
"Well, these here are the side guns," he explained,
gesturing to the boxy things on the sides, "and here are the generators for
the modified grand lightning beam on the front. The antennas on the top are
for the GPS. I linked it to the Virtupets computer systems so we've got the
full map of Neopia. The computer system is controlled on the dash and is all
"But what's with the armor plating?" I asked,
tapping on the reinforced sides and doors, "I thought I told you no."
"Ah, well, that's not armor plating."
"Sure looks like it to me," Terraile commented.
"Shielding for what?!"
"I had to install a fission reactor to power
all the computer systems and weaponry. It replaced the gas tank."
"I'VE GOT A MINIATURE NUCLEAR POWER PLANT IN
MY BUGGY!?" I screeched loud enough for everyone on the block to hear.
"Well, yes, but at least you won't have to fill
up for gas anymore," he said hopefully.
"I'm going to kill you," I muttered, "If the
radiation doesn't first."
"But that's why there's shielding! No radiation.
"Sabreur… if this thing gets into another accident
we're all dead."
"That's why we have all the weapons. They'll
disable any buggy stupid enough to try to get in an accident with us."
"Does disable mean destroy?"
"Depends on how close they get."
I groaned and reluctantly walked over to the
driver's side door. Un-eairkagh tried to take the passenger side seat but Sabreur
beat him to it. Instead he took the back with MoonFall and Terraile.
"Cool!" he exclaimed, "There's seats in the
"They fold down for when you need the space
to haul non-pets," my brother explained.
"That's a good idea," I replied absently, trying
to figure out the new set of consoles on my dash.
"Just don't worry about them," he said, "Everything
works like you remember. I'll explain as we drive."
I turned the buggy on. Instead of its normal
lugging engine noise I heard only a slight hum. The computer screens lit up,
displaying a map of the surrounding area and status reports on all parts of
the vehicle, including the weapons. I tried to ignore that and put the buggy
into reverse, backing out onto the street. The map changed into a view of all
four sides of my vehicle.
"It's cause you hate backing this thing," he
explained, "Figure it'll help you judge distance."
I grinned and pulled out onto the street.
The buggy drove exactly like I remembered it.
Nothing had really changed except its acceleration was better and everyone kept
the expected three buggy lengths distance from my vehicle. Some even went for
four. I can't imagine why, the side mounted guns would only swivel and lock
onto anyone that got too close. As we neared Neopia Central I noticed that the
weapons were stubbornly targeted on a nearby black buggy and were even taking
range findings of the buggy's weak spots.
"Um, bro? They're not going to fire, are they?"
"Not yet. They're just going through the preliminary
tests for attack. That buggy's license plate came up as a known traffic."
"I'm driving here, okay! I'm not looking!"
Un-eairkagh was cracking up behind me.
I absently took a right turn on a side street.
The radio finished its song and went into a quick news bulletin. Un-eairkagh
groaned and was about to change the station when I stopped him.
"…no one is really sure what happened at the
commercial district of Neopia Central but several people and pets have already
been rushed to the hospital. A bystander reports seeing a fight between a Lupe
and Gelert break out only to be stopped by what was apparently a spotted Zafara
with angel wings. However, after the explosion the only Zafara seen was a Darigan
one. The witness is not considered very credible at the moment as he was caught
in the blast that destroyed at least five shops and injured ten."
I pulled over to the nearest street parking
spot I could find. I was too shocked to even be nervous about parallel parking.
"A spotted Zafara! Not Aldrai!" MoonFall cried.
"Who else do you know has angel wings?" I replied.
"But they said a Darigan Zafara was leaving
the scene. And Aldrai would never hurt anyone, right?"
"So Aldrai tried to break up a fight and someone
else, the Darigan Zafara, intervened," my brother said, "Either way, we've got
to find them. Aldrai and the other Zafara. Before something else happens."
To be continued...