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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 26th day of Gathering, Yr 22
The Neopian Times Week 144 > Continuing Series > Rainy Days: Part Five

Rainy Days: Part Five

by child_dragon

They blindfolded her and led her up some more stairs, then down some hallways. She knew nothing but the steady pressure of a hand on her shoulder, guiding her along, and the stifling blackness of the cloth tied over her eyes. She had tried to ask what was going on just once, but the hand on her shoulder dug into the bone, pinching the nerves, and she quickly silenced herself lest the pain get any worse. He had relaxed his grip then, and they had continued on in silence. When they stopped, she heard a door open, then she was shoved through, and the door was shut and locked behind her. She was shoved into a chair and her hands and ankles bound with rope. Whoever had done it was nervous, and made the bonds too tight. They bit into her wrists but she remained silent, enduring this. They had Mia.

      "What do you want?" she finally ventured, and this time no one stopped her, "Is it ransom? They'll catch you for this. They will."

      "It's not ransom," someone replied, a female voice, "it's for the League of Rain. We'll release you after our job is done."

      "No! Wait, please. Let Mia go. I… I haven't done anything to you."

      "Be quiet," the girl replied, her tone harsh, "In all honesty, this is for your own protection. Our original orders were to kill you. Don't try to get loose or we will have to carry them out."

      More footsteps, then the door being opened and shut again. Then silence. Payne sat there, utterly still, listening to her rapid breathing.

      "Hello?" she whispered. "Is anyone there? Am I alone?"

      There was no answer and Payne wept silently into the darkness. She was alone then, with Mia elsewhere, also a prisoner. She wept, in the depths of the building, and it was as if she could hear the rain even there.

      "Think he'll ask for proof?" someone whispered out in the hallway as Eric checked the locks.

      "Nah. He's too confident that we're all his willing pawns."

      "Think anyone will find them?" someone else asked.

      "No. You saw the dust up here -- these rooms haven't been used for years. Plus, I have the one and only key, thanks to Jessica."

      "You're welcome," she said demurely, "but it was all my friend. She works here, you know."

      "And she'll be keeping an eye on our two prisoners until after the campus floods," Eric finished, pocketing the key and heading down the hallway for the stairwell. "Then we can let them go. And we'll have the sword."

      "Yeah, about that," someone from the back of the group ventured. "How do we keep Grievm from getting his grubby little paws on it?"

      "We crack him on top the head when he comes to take it. That simple."

      "We're sure getting good at backstabbing," a Lupe muttered, waiting for them at the door to the stairs, "First Mia. Now Grievm."

      "Chin up VerdeVer," the girl named Jessica replied, holding the door for the group to pass through, "Just wait for the flood and this will all be over. And instead of those rich Grays holding the power of the Sword of Wind and Rain, we will."

      "It doesn't feel right," VerdeVer muttered.

      "They don't even know what it is!" someone else retorted. "They've forgotten or ignored the legend. Why shouldn't someone from the League hold it? We're the ones who have passed down the secrets of Jerome for all these years, we're the ones who have protected this campus. Not them. They just show up, take the thing, and save the day and reap the benefits of such a powerful weapon."

      "Anyways, we're not the ones who betrayed the Grays to begin with," Eric continued, "Grievm is. We're just backstabbing the backstabber."

      "Two wrongs don't make a right," the Lupe muttered.

      "Two lefts don't make a right, but three do," a girl near the front said brightly.

      "Okay, you're not allowed to talk anymore," Eric said with a roll of his eyes. "Now let's head over to Kriescher quadrangle. They've got Shadows, that late-night eating place. I want food."

      There was muttered agreement as the group of about eight students and assorted pets reached the ground floor and together, they went out to brave the rain once more.

      Back in the dorms, two pets waited in silence, listening to the steady tap tap of the rain on the window and the brief footsteps in the hallway. None of them stopped at their door though, and that was the reason for the heavy atmosphere of worry.

      "The library closed half an hour ago," the mutant Ixi finally said, hooves crossed before her on the bed.

      "I know."

      "Should we notify campus security?"

      "No. Students stay out very late all the time -- they won't care unless she goes missing for a longer length of time."

      "She's a Gray. They'll take that seriously."

      Maria lapsed back into tense silence, not wanting to say that her reluctance to call them was because of that, because she understood Payne's reluctance to draw attention to herself as a Gray. Instead, she watched the clock and listened for footsteps outside her door.

      "We'll wait until one am. Then we'll start searching for her ourselves," Maria declared.

      "Alright. But… wasn't Mia talking with that VerdeVer pet earlier? She mentioned him once. He might know where they're at."

      Maria considered this, trying to dredge up memories.

      "VerdeVer. He's the roommate of that RA on the third floor, right?"

      "Yes. I'm assuming you want to go bother him?"

      She leapt off the bed and stood up straight in the middle of the floor.

      "Yes," BlazeFast declared, "Payne and Mia are our roommates. They're our friends. And I'm worried. The rain is getting dangerous now and everyone's on edge. There's no telling what could have happened."

      "Alright. Let's go see if he's up. It's late… but not too late for the dorms."

      She snagged her keys from the door and the two made their way out into the hallway for the stairs. They were halfway up them when someone came banging out of the third floor entrance, stumbling down the stairs, her breath fast like she was either hysterical or crying. Or both. Maria tried to get out of her way but she wasn't fast enough and the two collided, an elbow catching her in the stomach and sending her smashing against the wall. The other girl turned, started to mutter an apology, then froze, her eyes wide and her face pale.

      "You're… you're… her roommate," she whispered.

      Maria massaged a rib and grimaced at her, taking in the small yellow Aisha and the tears streaking her cheeks.

      "Who's roommate?" BlazeFast asked.

      "Payne's. The Gray's."

      The Ixi and Moehog exchanged glances. Maria then turned her attention back to the girl, shoving away from the wall to stand up straight, rustling her wings closer to her back.

      "Yes. I am. What do you know about her?"

      The girl glanced up the stair, biting her lip with worry. She seemed torn for a moment, then took a deep breath and wiped her face with the back of her sleeve.

      "I'm Jessica. Can we go to your room? This is going to take some explaining."

      The first thing Jessica had done upon reaching the room was scribble down a list of names and room numbers.

      "Ixi. Can you find all these people and tell them the game is up?" she said, "Tell them to meet me under the overhang of the library. They'll understand."

      "Game? What game? And how does this involve Payne?" BlazeFast interrupted.

      Jessica took a deep breath.

      "It's a long story and it's one I'm going to explain to Maria while you gather the members of the League. But I'll tell you this - we're all in grave danger. You, me, everyone. Now go."

      The Ixi shot her one last suspicious glance before making her way out the door. Jessica then turned to Maria who sat in silence at the other chair.

      "Okay. We don't have much time," she said, "So I'm going to make this fast. We kidnapped Payne, mostly for her own protection. There's someone who wants her dead, someone that controls a secret organization on campus. I'm part of it and Eric is our leader. Anyways, we didn't want to kill Payne, so we kidnapped her and hid her away in a place only a handful of us know about. Those are the ones I sent BlazeFast after, they're the ones who can be trusted."

      "Kidnappers can be trusted?" Maria said in disgust.

      "It's a long story! Just… please. Let me continue. Well, we were planning to betray our head. We don't like how he's running things and we don't want him to carry out his plan."

      She took a deep breath, gazing up at the empty air above Maria's head.

      "Well. Someone snitched."

      There was a long silence. Maria crossed and uncrossed her arms while Jessica fought to control her emotions.

      "I went up to Eric's room," she said, "Just to talk. We're good friends and all. When I rounded the corner, I saw two NeoPets, big burly ones, with Eric between them. I don't think he was going with them willingly. And I caught his eye and he pretended to ignore me… but he dropped a slip of paper that I grabbed as soon as they were out of sight."

      She silently pulled it from her pocket and handed it to Maria. It had two hastily scribbled words on it - 'Yvette betrayed.'

      "That's the name of one of our members," she said, "I'm guessing her and her friends within the League are in on it too. But they don't know where we're hiding Payne and so now they're taking Eric. We've got to get to Payne first and then go rescue Eric."

      "You still haven't told me the whole story."

      "No. But it's a long one, and I'd rather wait until we had Payne. Now please, help me. I don't know how long we've got. Eric is a strong person but… the sooner we save him the better."

      She stood and waited for Maria to stand also, a physical sign that the girl would trust her and would follow her to save Payne. The Darigan Moehog was still for a couple more moments before she stood, sighing heavily and removing the colorful accessories from her hair. The bandanna, the faux glasses, the beads in her mane, all went on the table.

      "Best to be inconspicuous. One question," she said as the two moved out into the hallway. "What is the ultimate goal in all this?"

      Jessica hesitated only a moment before speaking.

      "To chase away the rain. Rain Gray, for those rainy days."

To be continued...

Previous Episodes

Rainy Days: Part One

Rainy Days: Part Two

Rainy Days: Part Three

Rainy Days: Part Four

Rainy Days: Part Six

Rainy Days: Part Seven

Rainy Days: Part Eight

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