I glanced upwards, as if I could actually see my Meerca
through the ceiling. If the Chia police were the ones knocking on my front door,
I was in deep trouble. There wasn't enough time for me to run up the stairs, grab
Reallyconfused and hide in the vault before they got tired of knocking and broke
the door down. I wished with all my heart that Stonewolf3x hadn't left. When you're
surrounded by disgruntled Chias, there's nothing more useful to have around than
an even more disgruntled Lupe. I walked out of the gym and cautiously approached
the front door.
After staring at the door for several moments,
I called out in a slightly cracking voice, "There's nobody here but a bunch
of lonely Puppyblews waiting for everyone to get back! Can I take a message?"
It was kind of dumb, but I was hoping whoever
was on the other side of the door would actually fall for it. I waited for a
reply like, "Yeah, riiiiight... and we're a bunch of door-to-door medicinal
toothbrush salesmen!" But there was no answer at all. Just silence. I hesitated
with my hand on the doorknob. The silence was more unnerving than the idea of
a mob of Chia police officers smashing through the door. I unbolted the lock
and opened up the door a crack. I just HAD to see what was making all of that
silence. Nothing. Nothing was making all of that silence. There was no one there.
I stepped out of the door and looked around.
"Hello? Is there really nobody here, or are
you testing me to see if I'm really not home?" I called out.
No answer. I sighed with relief. False alarm.
Probably just some neighborhood baby Grarrls playing a practical joke,
I thought. I gave my head a puzzled scratch and shrugged. Then I turned and
walked back inside. I headed for Wolf's training gym on the other side of the
kitchen. As soon as I located the battle duck and my fingers closed around it,
I heard a loud crash-splash from upstairs. The battle duck in my hand slid off
my fingers and bounce-squeaked across the floor.
"RC?!!" I screeched. "Are you okay?"
A series of thumping footsteps thundered along
the corridor from the second floor. I tore back through the kitchen and bolted
up the stairs, taking two steps at a time. When I reached the landing, I slipped
on a puddle of water. My legs shot out in opposing directions and I did the
splits before I slid nose-first into the wall. I toppled backwards and plopped
on my butt in wetness. Stunned, I sat there for a moment rubbing my sore nose.
A clattering noise arose from Wolf's bedroom and jolted me back to my senses.
The patch of water on the stone floor had the
same effect as walking on ice. I stumbled to my feet and slip-skid several feet
like someone on skis. When I finally hit dryness and could run properly, I took
off down the hall like a Cybunny with his tail on fire.
"RC?!! Are you okay? Please answer me!" I yelled
as I ran.
When I reached Wolf's room, the door was wide
open. Even before I entered the room, I could see that the window on the far
wall was wide open too. I could feel my stomach leap up into my throat, which
wasn't all that easy to do since it was tied up in knots at the time. I streaked
to the window and flung my head out. A figure darted across the lawn of the
back garden. It was hard to tell, because he was moving so quickly, but he appeared
to be a green Techo. He seemed oddly Christmasy because he was green and wearing
a red and white candy cane striped shirt. And the fact that he was carrying
a sack over his shoulder made him look like some sort of mutant Santa's helper.
But there was bulge in the bottom of the dripping wet bag. And when it wriggled,
I REALLY panicked.
"Hey you!" I shouted loudly with a nice squeak
of hysteria added. "What are you doing? Bring back my Meerca!"
The Techo not only ignored me, he kicked it
into high gear and disappeared into a clump of towering tree weeds. I was actually
tempted to follow him out the window, but two things occurred to me. Number
one: it was a long drop to the ground. Number two: I didn't have the suction-cup
fingers and toes of a wall-climbing Techo. I pulled my head back in from the
window. That's when I spotted it. A piece of parchment paper was pinned to the
wall by the window with a long, thin dagger. I had to twist the knife a little
to yank it from the wall. The paper floated lazily down and landed at my feet.
I picked it up and read the note with trembling hands.
If ye wanna see yer Meerca alive agin, don't follow me!
I mean it! I'm a desperate, bloodthirsty pirate!
And don't call the cops neither!
Bug Eye McGee
P.S. -- Sorry about the mess on the floor.
My knees started to buckle, so I made my way
over to the bed and sat down. I read and reread the note a dozen times because
I couldn't get my mind to absorb it. I just couldn't believe it. A vicious--
well, sort of vicious -- pirate had kidnapped Reallyconfused! I don't know how
long I wandered around in a daze, but when I came out of my fog, I was downstairs
in the livingroom with the shell phone in my hand. The receiver was on my ear
and I could hear the beepity boop beep of the buttons being punched by fingers
that obviously had the situation more in control than my brain did.
"You have reached the law office of Wessle,
Wrestle, Weasel and Palpus. How may I help you?" the nasally yet feminine and
now-becoming-very-familiar voice greeted me.
"I have to talk to Advisor Wessle right away,"
I said urgently. "This is an emergency!"
"Any time someone needs a lawyer, it's considered
an emergency," she replied crisply. "Advisor Wessle isn't in the office right
now. May I take a message?"
"Yeah," I said, trying to suppress my irritation
at being taken so lightly, "Tell him his little yellow gold mine is gone, so
he's out of a job."
"Out... of... a... job..." she repeated back.
"Is that goldmine with a capital G?"
"Isn't there ANY way I can get ahold of him?"
I whined. "This is Stoneman3x."
"Well, you could put a couple of basic golden
Nerkmids in the Mystery Island Trading Post and reserve them in his name. If
you really want to get his attention, that always seems to help."
I thanked her and hung up. Then I sunk down
into my stone armchair and placed my face in my cupped hands. I was totally
at a loss about what to do next. I even considered calling the Chia police.
But the words on the note warning me not to do that held me back. Plus the fact
that if the police found Reallyconfused, they would take him back to the Meerca
Chase arena. I felt completely numb and exhausted. I guess my entire body took
this as some sort of a hint, because it shut down. The next thing I knew I was
waking up in my chair. It was completely dark.
I sat bolt upright and squinted into the blackened
room around me. I was disoriented for a moment and had to really think hard
about where I was. I finally realized that I must have passed out for several
hours and it was now night time. Reaching over to the lamp on the side table
next to me, I flicked it on. That's when I got a real shock. Four Aishas in
hooded cloaks and with poison tipped daggers hanging off of their belts stood
in front of me. I froze. I could actually feel the retinas on my eyes shrink
to the size of pin pricks as my eyes popped out.
"W-w-w-ho ARE you? W-w-w-hat do you w-w-want?"
"You don't remember us?" the leader said with
a sly smirk, stepping forward out of the shadows.
He tossed a square flat brown object into my
lap. It was my wallet. Empty.
"You're the guys that robbed me last night!"
I exclaimed. "Are you here to rob my house, too?"
"Actually, we're here to bring something back,"
the leader replied, motioning to one of his comrades still in the shadows.
The Aisha stepped forward. He lifted a large
sack off of his shoulder and gingerly laid it on the floor. A fuzzy yellow ball
rolled out. The long tail wrapped around it unraveled as it rolled toward me.
When it was several inches away, it jumped up on its feet, looked up at me and
"RC!" I shouted with supreme joy.
This time it was me who swooped in first. I
snatched him up off of the ground and hugged him tightly to my chest. I had
never been so giddy with relief in my life. I must have overdone it because
my poor Meerca gurgled slightly from the squeeze-induced hold. I relaxed my
grip and held him out in front of me so I could look at him.
"I am soooo glad to see you, RC! Are you okay?
Are you hurt?"
He nodded and shook his head in rapid succession
from my two opposite questions.
"I'm glad to see you, too!" he chirped.
Then I was almost drowned in a wave of bewilderment.
"I don't understand..." I said, shooting a look
at the Aisha thieves' leader. "Why... how...?"
"There is an unwritten code of honor among thieves,"
he replied with a satisfied grin.
"Where are my manners?" I asked outloud. "Please...
sit down! Can I get you something to eat?"
The other three Aishas smiled and cast eager,
hopeful glances at their leader. But he shook his head 'no" and pretty much
crushed their expectations into the dust.
"No, thanks anyway," he replied. "It's dark
now and time for us to get back to work."
"At least explain to me why you did this," I
said, taking a step backwards and sitting back down on my stone armchair. RC
nestled himself comfortably into my lap.
"It's quite simple," the Aisha leader replied
breezily. "Your pirate Krawk helped us out with your wallet, so we were in his
debt. Now the debt has been paid."
For some reason, that actually made a weird
sort of sense.
"But how did you find him? How did you even
know he had been Meerca-napped?" I asked.
The Aisha leader gave his companions a knowing
wink and replied, "We make it our business to know what's going on in the Neopian
underworld. If it's a criminal activity, we know about it."
I looked at the band of thieves in amazement.
But what really amazed me more than the fact that they brought back my Meerca,
was the fact I no longer saw them as dangerous robbers. They were welcome guests.
"But there could have only been a couple of
hundred Neopoints in this wallet," I said, waving the object in the air for
emphasis. "You have to let me pay you some sort of a reward. I'm sure you could
have sold him to the Meerca Chase officials for half a million Neopoints at
The three gang members suddenly got a startled
expression on their faces and glared at their boss. He simply shrugged.
"Okay," he said almost cheerfully. "What have
I looked around the livingroom. I sure didn't
have a lot of valuables lying around the house. Almost everything in it was
made out of cheap stone. Then I remembered Stonewolf3x's training gym. There
were some pretty expensive Battledome items in there.
"Hold on a sec!" I said, leaping up from my
my seat and dumping the Meerca that was on my lap onto the floor. "I'll be right
I felt bad for a moment for jumping up so quickly that I dumped my Meerca
off of my lap. But as usual, Reallyconfused bounced right back with a cheerful
expression on his face. I trotted quickly into the kitchen and headed for the
gymnasium on the far side of it. I scanned the room quickly. There, lying on
the floor where I had dropped it, was the battle duck. It was a rare weapon
worth a lot of Neopoints. It was a perfect reward to give to the Aisha thieves
for returning Reallyconfused to me. I scooped it up quickly and headed back
to the livingroom.
The mob of hooded Aishas had fanned out and
were wandering around the room. They seemed to be appraising my stuff, because
they all had some object of mine in their hands. They were rotating and flipping
around whatever objects they had for a complete examination. The moment I stepped
back into the room, every single one of them stuffed whatever they were holding
inside their cloaks or up their sleeves. I made a mental note to buy another
Wock Til You Drop mug, swirly sand sculpture, wobbly pen and stone tablet.
I walked up to the Aisha leader and shoved the battle duck towards him.
"Here!" I said. "This is worth about 400,000
Neopoints. Please take it."
He looked at me in surprise for a second, then
snatched the item from my outstretched hand. The others seemed pleased by this
and smiled broadly in approval.
"You're a decent human being," he said, and
then winked. "Which means you wouldn't last five minutes in our den of thieves!"
They all laughed at this and in the blink of
an eye, they vanished. It was a bizarre feeling to be standing there filled
with admiration and gratitude for a band of cut-throats who had just robbed
me at knife-point the night before. I looked down at the yellow Meerca at my
feet. It suddenly occurred to me that he probably hadn't eaten since breakfast.
"Are you hungry, RC?" I asked.
He nodded enthusiastically.
"Wait here and I'll go fetch us some dinner,
He nodded enthusiastically again.
By the time I got back from the kitchen with
the dandelion and burdock drinks and the blueberry jam sandwiches, he was curled
up on my stone armchair asleep. I smiled at him and tucked the Kau print throw
around him. The poor little guy had obviously had a busy day too. I heard the
sound of the back door opening and the familiar clicking of Lupe toenails on
the kitchen floor. I sighed with relief. I was happy Wolf and Krawk were home.
We would all be safe and protected now. The moment my other two pets and their
petpets came into the room, I started babbling at them.
"Oh, Wolf! You won't believe what happened today!
A green pirate Techo kidnapped RC!"
The Lupe's eyebrow arched and he shot a glance
towards his pirate Krawk bodyguard.
"Oh? Sorry to hear that..." Wolf began.
I cut him off, gushing excitedly, "But everything's
okay now! You know those four Aisha thieves that stole my wallet last night?
They found out about the kidnapping and brought him back!"
Wolf's whole body went rigid and Krawk's mouth
"They brought him back?" Wolf said with astonishment.
"Why would they do that?"
"That's the funny part," I said, grinning triumphantly.
"They said it was because Krawk handed the wallet over to them. Something about
honor among thieves or something. Isn't that great? I hope you don't mind, but
I thought they deserved some kind of a reward, so I gave them your battle duck."
"YOU WHAT???" Wolf roared.
I guess he DID mind.
"Well... " I said, trying to think of something
fast to calm him down. "The important thing is that Reallyconfused is home again,
safe and sound."
"You gave a bunch of thieves my battle duck
after I paid three codestones to have him kidnapped in the first place?" my
Lupe snarled angrily.
It was now MY turn for my jaw to drop open.
"You did WHAT???" I said, half in outrage and
half in disbelief.
Wolf looked away from me and thumped his tail
on the hard stone floor in agitation. I turned towards his accomplice in crime.
"What is going on here, Krawk?" I demanded.
"You'd better tell me now or we'll be having Krawk pie for dinner!"
He shot a startled glance to his captain, but
only received a sullen look back. I guess he had never seen me totally ticked
off, because he caved in and confessed.
"Arrr, but it were me own idea, Man. Me Cap'n
here weren't too pleased about having this Meerca about the place, so I contacted
an old shipmate o' mine called Bug Eye McGee. He be that green pirate Techo
you saw. Ol' Bug Eye be the sort who'll slit yer throat fer a Tiki Tack keyring.
We paid him a few codestones to grab the Meerca and take him back to the Meerca
Chase arena. We meant no harm to the wee fella. We just wanted him back where
"He belongs HERE!" I growled between clenched
"No, he doesn't!" my Lupe countered, cutting
in. "Do you even know what's going on out there?" He waved his paw towards the
front door. "All of Neopia is up in arms about this stupid little Meerca. The
king himself even demanded to see me about this whole mess."
"King? What king?" I snarled back.
"THE king," Wolf hissed. "The LUPE king. King
Coltzan III. He summoned me personally. He said if I didn't take the Meerca
back he would never bless me again."
Wolf turned his face away from me. I had never
seen him hang his head in shame before. It was very unnerving. I suddenly realized
what was going on and I softened.
"Geez, Wolf. We're friends. Why didn't you tell
me? I didn't know you were getting hassled about this."
"Because I figured you would keep him no matter
what happened to me," Wolf replied in an almost whisper, still gazing at the
I suddenly felt terrible. Especially since I
knew in my heart he was probably right. I walked over to my fire Lupe and placed
my hand on his massive shoulder.
"I really want to keep the Meerca," I said gently.
"But not if it hurts you. I know how much these strength, speed and defense
boosts from Coltzan mean to you and your Battledome career. We don't always
have enough Neopoints to pay for your training, so these blessings are... ummm...
a... blessing... obviously... Anyway, if this means I have to choose between
you and the Meerca... well... I choose YOU, Wolf."
He looked up into my eyes with sincere surprise.
"You really mean that?" he asked earnestly.
"Yes, I really mean that, Wolf," I nodded. "I'll
take him back to the Meerca Chase pit tomorrow. I don't know how I'll break
it to him, but I will. I promise."
The walk down Main Street in Neopia Central seemed painfully long. I had tossed
and turned all night long in my bed trying to think how I would explain to Reallyconfused
that he was going back to the Meerca Chase game. It was better for my Lupe if
he went back. It was better for all of Neopia if he went back. But it wasn't
better for me. I had only known him a couple of days, yet I had grown very fond
of him. Taking him back was the hardest thing I had ever had to do. I had finally
decided not to tell him until we actually got there. I couldn't bear the tear-filled
eyes and a look of betrayal he was sure to give me, so I wanted to avoid it
as long as possible. I had simply told him we were going on a shopping trip
to Neopia Central. He was extremely happy about the idea and was bubbling over
with excitement. So there we were, walking down Main Street. He bounced along
on his tail, giddy with joy. I dragged my feet like my lucky green boots were
made out of solid rock.
"What are we gonna buy first?" RC asked with
"Well..." I said, looking away from his innocent
eyes. "I was thinking we might go pay a visit to some of your old friends."
He stared up at me quizzically and scratched
"You know," I added, hoping to jog his memory
of life in the way distant past of three days ago, "Your friends... Meerca,
Meerca and Meerca... down at the Meerca Chase arena..."
RC clapped his paws together and squealed with
delight, "Oh, can we? That would be so much fun! I haven't seen them in ages!"
Ages, of course, being three days ago. I smiled
weakly back at him.
"Yeah, lots of fun..."
He was so hysterically happy now that he began
to do a dance-bounce on his tail and sing in a silly song-song voice.
"Fun fun fun fun! We're going to have funny
fun fun fun!"
I thought I was going to hurl big time.
"Ummm... RC?" I said, deciding to test the waters,
so to speak, "Do you miss the gang at the old Meerca Pit?"
"Oh, yes!" he gushed happily. "I miss them a
lot! But when that mean ol' pirate grabbed me and took me away, I missed you
even more." He stopped bouncing for a moment, held his paw to the side of his
mouth and whispered in a serious tone, "I even cried a little."
So much for testing the waters.
"They will be so jealous of me when they see
what a great human I have!" he gushed, quickly turning cheerful again.
I was actually grateful when we finally arrived
at the Games Pavilion. I was feeling so nervous and guilty that sweat poured
off my temples like a waterfall. We headed for the entrance to the Meerca Chase
arena. The scene there was exactly as it had been on the TV news the day before,
only amplified a hundred times more. A bunch of yellow Meercas marched up and
down in front of the entrance, blocking everyone from entering. But now they
seemed to be joined by every Meerca in Neopia. Their supporters stood off to
the sides, shouting encouragement to the picketing Meercas. I even spotted several
famous Meercas in the crowd like Chuffer Bob and Meuka. The moment the crowd
caught sight of Reallyconfused, a thunderous pandemonium of cheering broke out.
"RC! Look! It's RC!"
"Three cheers for Reallyconfused!"
"Way to go, RC!"
"Oh, Mr. Confused, can I have your autograph?"
The yellow Meerca standing next to me beamed
brightly and waved to the mob. The entire herd of Meercas grinned and waved
back. I don't know why it didn't occur to me before this moment that my Meerca
was now a Neopian celebrity. His rescue from the Meerca Chase game, and his
refusal to go back was a big deal to a lot of Neopets. He had struck a blow
for freedom for Meercas everywhere. The guilty sweat pouring off of me had apparently
sucked all of the spare fluids out of my body because my mouth suddenly went
An instant later we were surrounded by a sea
of Meercas in every color of the Rainbow Pool. They shoved every imaginable
object in Neopia at us and begged us to put our autographs on them. There is
a definite advantage to being a wiry little Meerca, because RC was able to squirm
through the crowd and make his way to the picket line. I was a tall human and
not so lucky. I was completely locked in. But at least I towered over everyone
so I could see what was happening.
Reallyconfused bounded up to his friends and
let loose a volley of "Hi, Meerca! Hi, Meerca! Hi, Meerca!" A volley of "Hi,
RC! Hi, RC! Hi, RC!" shot back at him. I suddenly felt a surge of hope. If he
realized how much he missed his friends, he might actually want to stay with
them. While he chatted to his sign-carrying buddies, I struggled to disentangle
myself from the annoying but well-wishing mob. By the time I managed to break
free and head towards him, he was already returning towards me. I was surprised
to see he was dragging his tail sadly instead of bouncing on it happily. He
walked slowly up to me and tugged on my pant leg.
"Can we go home now?" he asked in a pleading
To be continued...