MERIDELL - I walked slowly through the beautiful part of Meridell. Branches
waved lazily over my head, and a warm sun smiled down on us all. I could still
see the little town of Turnipville, which I had just left, over my shoulder.
I wasn’t here to enjoy the scenery, though. I was here to learn more about
the lives of the “ruthless sky-bandits” who were said to live around here. The
villagers in Turnipville had said that the bandits lived in a cave about a mile
away from their town, but they advised me not to go because, they said, the
bandits were armed and dangerous.
But here I was anyway, roughly half a mile from where I thought the ruffians
would be. I only knew a few names – Nealy Nose somebody, Someone Saul, Tillamook
– or was it Tillawill? - Sam. One of my pets, Zaki, plays the game all the time,
but he can’t get past certain levels and doesn’t know who else there is.
Eventually I came upon the cave. It looked pretty empty but I could tell it
was a camp, because there was a ring of stones set up for a campfire and some
logs pulled up like chairs. There was even some washing hung from a tree.
“Hello?” I called into the recesses of the cave. My voice echoed and carried,
and I thought, “If anybody’s in there, they definitely heard that.”
I sat on a log and waited patiently. After about five minutes, a red Mynci
came out of the cave and glared at me.
“Whaddya want?” he spat. “There ain’t no pet owners what ever comes ‘ere! Git
out before I get the popgun!” For a while he stood there glaring at me. I was
at a loss for what to say.
“B-but I wanted to inter-interview one of you,” I finally sputtered. He looked
confused, so I explained, “ You know, ask you some questions about your line
of work.” The Mynci nodded sagely.
“Aaah, an questionerater, that’s oo ye are. Say, are ye going ter ask me questions?
I jes love attention! ‘Cept when it’s attention from a popgun!” He chuckled.
I giggled nervously, and then shook out my hands.
“I’d be happy to,” I told him, much more businesslike. “Now if you’ll just
sit down here…” I indicated a nearby log and took out my writing materials.
MY INTERVIEW WITH SHOTGUN SAUL:
Azulian_empress: What is your name?
Shotgun Saul: Well me name’s Saul, but me friends call me Shotgun
so I guess that’d be Shotgun Saul.
AE: How did you become a sky bandit?
SS: Yer see, there was this Kiko in the airier, who liked ta cruise ‘round
in his liddle plane with a pop-gun and target them pleasure-fliers. This Kiko
was called Billy, or Bill, and ‘ee wasn’t that great with the rifle but ‘EE
shore annoyed the dung out ‘o some people.
Now I liked to take pleasure cruises meself, but I didn’t quite know ‘ow to
make a good plane, so I went to Billy an’ I says to ‘im, “Billy old lad, whaddya
say to makin’ a plane fer ol’ Saul?” An’ EE says to me, “Well Saul old pal,
why doncha show me ‘ow to aim this ‘ere popgun so it ‘its where I want it to?”
So I thought a bit an’ I said, “Now, Billy if I shows yer how ter aim it an’
teaches yer some tricks, will ye promise not ter shoot me when I’m out a-cruisin?”
An’ so Billy thinks a bit an’ he says, “Why shore, Saul, that’s a grand ould
So I showed him ‘ow ter aim the rifle proper and ‘EE ‘elped me on me plane,
an’ once ‘EE took me up wit ‘IM to see ‘ow ‘EE targeted pleasure-fliers. I took
a few shots at ’em, an’ let me tell yer tis the funniest thing ever!
AE: I’m sure it is. How did you hook up with the other bandits?
SS: Now shore nuff that’s an intres’ting story yore askin’ for. Me an’ ole
Bill were goin’ out ev’ry day to hit off them other fliers, an’ we was getting’
better. But ‘twas gettin’ to ther point where I were better than Billy was,
so I said ter him, “Why don’t you take ‘em first an’ if they get by you, I’ll
shoot ‘em down.” An’ Billy was a liddle offendered, but ‘EE saw the sense and
enny way ‘EE could take most everybody.
So ‘ventually it comes to ther point where the pleasure fliers are getting’
better at evadin’ us, an’ I says to Billy, “Who’s goin’ ter get ‘em when they’re
past me?” Billy thinks a bit an’ he says, “Why Saul there’s a cousin o’ mine
named Maxine, she’s a right old dragon make no mistake. She kin take care o’
yore troubles for ye.”
So shore nuff we went an’ called on ole’ Maxine and if she weren’t the craziest
divvil yer ever did see! She scattered ‘em right, left, an’ center! Them other
fliers were so ‘fraid ‘o her they started ter bring their own popguns!
AE: How odd! But where did the other bandits come from after Maxine?
SS: Well me an’ Billy know that ol’ Maxine recruited some hexperts, ‘cuz she
was startin’ ter think that ‘er part o’ the sky belonged ter her an’ her alone,
an’ she needed ‘elp deffendin’ it. Me an’ Billy an’ Maxine an’ Tillawill Sam
(‘EE’s the only other bandit I knows) lives ‘ere tergether and makes our way
‘ere, but there be some other of us what are said ter wake, eat, an’ sleep in
their planes, so we never see’s ‘em.
AE: How did “Skies over Meridell become a popular game?
SS: I dunno what yer mean by a game, miss, but…
AE: Oops! Go on…
SS: But all o’ a sudden, more an’ more people started showin’ up ter fly by
us. And they ad’ their own popguns, too! It was getting harder n’ harder TA
stop ‘em, but Billy an’ I try our bestest. Maxine (ev’rybody calls ‘er ‘Mad’
Maxine these days) has more success than us but I’ve ‘eard that some people
even get by ther last bandit!
I dunno why’t became so pop’lar ter get shot at by bandits, but it shore seems
that people like it…
AE: How do you bandits make money?
SS: Oh, er, that’s a strange question actually. Some people, they call’d themselves
ther “Neopets Staff” asked us wot our names were, an’ our nicknames, an’ how
many parachutes we kept with us (Billy has ther least, I got a few more, Maxine
has more n’ me) an’ then they gave us five thousan’ Neopoints! Then ev’ry week
after that, they gave us a thousan’ more. I dunno why, but tis shore ‘elpful.
AE: Okay, one last question… How did “Nealy Nose” Bill get his nickname?
SS: Hmm, I dunno. Why doncher ask ‘IM?
AE: Ask him?
At this point, a green Kiko and a yellow Kiko burst through the underbrush.
The green one had some white stuff on his face and the yellow one was squat
(for a Kiko) and looked fierce.
“Saul yer nincompoop, ‘oo’s this lout?” she yelled at Shotgun Saul.
“Why Maxine darlin’ tis a questionerater!” said Saul pacifyingly. “I’m jes
telling her a liddle bit about ‘ow we live our lives!”
“Pie-brain!” screamed Maxine. “Crumbhead! She’ll go right to The Neopian Times
and tell ‘em all about us! D’ye think I want ‘em ter know where we lives? Are
ye insane?” She bounced around the clearing shouting insults, saying how their
lives would be ruined and everything she had worked so hard for would be lost.
The green Kiko floated into the cave, not listening.
I decided this would be a good time to leave, so I quickly stuffed my notebook
into my pack and put it on. When both Maxine’s and Saul’s backs were turned,
I dove through the trees and ran as fast as I could for Turnipville.
I think I didn’t stop running until I reached my Neohome in Neopia Central.
I gulped down a diet Neocola, panting heavily. Zaki, my glowing Lupe, walked
into the room.
“Hi Azul,” he said. “How’s it going?”
“Fine,” I gulped, “but if you ever want to play ‘Skies over Meridell’ again,
don’t tell them who your owner is.”