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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 5th day of Hiding, Yr 22
The Neopian Times Week 146 > New Series > The Techo Mountain Excavation: Part One

The Techo Mountain Excavation: Part One

by resurrectedwarrior

"Oh, great, just great!" an angry, red Techo threw a copy of a local archaeology journal to his desk. "I cannot believe this!" he fumed.

      "Believe what?" a young, green Nimmo looked up from his armchair sitting in front of a blazing fire.

      "They're going to excavate that old village near Techo Mountain!" the Techo exclaimed. "And guess who they're going to have lead it!"

      The Nimmo said nothing.

      At the young's silence, the elder proceeded to rant, "They've chosen that idealist Hamperdank! Do you understand what could happen if that team finds what is to be found up there? Hamperdank won't hesitate to publish the findings - the entire history of Mystery Island will have to be rewritten!"

      The Nimmo stared up at his red mentor, "How so?"

      The Techo glared at him, "You know how! For all we know, this could start another war."

      The Nimmo remained silent, pondering the old Techo's words.

      The Techo picked up the journal again, thumping it against his red claw. He had guarded this secret all his years as an archaeologist. It caused him anxiety at the mere thought being uncovered, not to mention many sleepless nights. The thought of a young newcomer becoming famous for revealing a truth he had guarded so doggedly made him sick to his stomach.

      Opening the pages of the journal once more, he finally turned to the Nimmo. "Angel, I want you to get on that dig team."

      The Nimmo started, "What? Me? But I'm doing the Tyrannian dig this season!"

      "I know," the Techo replied compassionately, "But this is something I need you to do. If they find anything that alludes to the truth, it must be taken care of. You're the only person I can trust, Angel."

      Angel stared up at the wizened Techo, seeing genuine worry in his eyes. He knew how strongly his mentor felt about this. After a few moments of tense silence, the Nimmo finally agreed, "Alright."

Three Months Later . . .

      A heavy fog rested like a warm winter blanket over much of the Neopian ocean. No sounds could be heard, save the beating of gentle waves on the bow of a long ship and the calls of the crew as they shimmied up the rigging, tending to the sails.

      On the stern of the ship, standing atop the poop deck were the ships only passengers; a long-haired human girl, a rather bored looking Darigan Moehog, and a small Sauropod petpet, perched on the human's shoulder. They leaned on the starboard rail, looking ahead to their destination as the ship sliced through the fog.

      "I don't see it," remarked the Moehog. He plopped down loudly on the poop deck, refusing to stand any longer. He had yet to comprehend his owner's love for early mornings.

      The human stood there for a moment, barely hearing her pet. Finally, she wrenched her light green eyes from the foggy sea and looked at the Moehog. "You will soon. The captain says we should have sight of the Island within the hour."

      "I'd rather have sight of breakfast," the Darigan Moehog grumbled. He moseyed up off the floor and rejoined the human at the rail. He stared at the dark waters, wishing he could be back in his hammock below deck. Returning his eyes to the owner, he noted that she was turning her head back and forth, glancing ahead north-west, but also looking over the rail due east. She deeply inhaled the thick, salty air and grinned at her Moehog, who promptly scowled back.

      The girl barely noticed his ill mood and glanced east one more. "Oh, look at that!" she exclaimed, pointing east.

      The Moehog turned lazily to see what the girl was excited about. The sun had just pierced the horizon, sending off shoots of vibrant oranges and purples across the otherwise dark sky. He snorted, "You could see it better if it wasn't for the fog."

      "Oh, yes, that's true," replied the human, "but it's beautiful nonetheless, isn't it?"

      The Moehog grumbled under his breath this time, turning back to the north-east. He really couldn't blame his owner for her enthusiasm. She had been looking forward to and preparing for this trip for months. The opportunity to write about and participate in an archaeological dig was a rare one, and she was relishing every moment of her little adventure.

      His owner had never bothered to tell him why she had decided to bring him along. She could have brought his overly-cheerful sister along, but for some reason she had decided upon him. He had never indicated he wanted to go with her, as the idea of spending all day digging in the dirt did not appeal to him.

      Suddenly, a loud, clear voice rang out from the crow's nest. "Land ahoy!" The human spun around from the sunrise and grinned at the sight of Mystery Island.

      At this moment, the Sauropod on her shoulder slipped down her arm and hopped nimbly to the Moehog's head. The petpet folded her claws around tufts of the Moehog's mane, gripping it tightly. The Neopet glanced up at his Sauropod with an annoyed look on his face and began trying to remove it, attempting to knock it off with his hooves.

      His owner, however, barely seemed to notice his struggle with the small reptile, "Oh, look, Gelrelt! We're finally here!" Though the shadowy outline of the island's mountains was only barely to be seen on the horizon, it was true enough. By the end of the day, Gelrelt would be a certified dirt-Mynci.

      "I told you," the Moehog said, twisting and contorting to reach the Sauropod. Unfortunately, reaching above one's own head was not an easy task for a Moehog. His shoulders simply wouldn't allow it. He shook his head and bobbed it up and down, trying to get the animal to fall off. The Sauropod barely seemed to notice all of her owner's efforts. She clung obliviously to his mane, never minding his flailing hooves. "Call me Gel! 'Gelrelt' sounds too much like 'Gelert'."

      The girl smiled at the sight of the Darigan pet trying to remove the reptile from his head. He looked like a contortionist as he tried to raise his hooves above his head. She shook her head and bent down, lifting the Sauropod off his head at the expense of a few hairs. Cradling the reptile in her arms she noted, "I think Gelrelt is a nice name."

      "Only if you're a Gelert!"

      "You used to be."

      Gelrelt looked up at her, irritation clearly etched into his face, "Two words: Lab Ray."

      At this, his owner merely sighed, turning once again to stare at the mist-laden surroundings. She hoped this trip would be a successful one, not just for her Neopian Times reporting and the excavation, but also for her relationship with Gelrelt. He had become extremely negative as of late; the perfect pessimist. Not even the mischievous Sauropod in her arms could lift his spirits. Gelrelt showed the small lizard so little affection, he hadn't even bothered to name the poor thing. For now, the girl had donned the nickname "Scout" on the creature until her irresponsible pet decided to take care of her.

      Turning back to her Moehog, the girl raised an eyebrow, "You look famished! Do you want to get some breakfast before we land?"

***

"Doctor Hamperdank, Doctor Hamperdank!" An alarmed, green Nimmo burst through the canvas flaps of the doctor's box tent, "Doctor Hamperdank!"

      Josephine Hamperdank sat up in her cot, still enveloped in heat from her sleeping bag. She immediately noted the amount of sunlight in her tent far exceeded the amount she normally woke up with. She glanced at the clock standing on a wooden crate, illuminated by the light from a glowing Beekadoodle sitting in a wire cage. The clock's face confirmed what she already knew; she had overslept.

      She turned her black eyes to the excited Nimmo who had awakened her. He had been chattering on about something for the past few moments, none of which the doctor understood. "Hold up," she said, raising her green claw. She threw off her covers and slung her feet over the edge of the cot, letting her Techo tail hang off the other side. "Start again, from the beginning."

      The Nimmo stopped in mid-word and looked down at the doctor, bewildered at the sudden interruption. He took a deep breath and started again, "You know how that Times reporter is coming today?"

      Hamperdank nodded, rubbing the sleep from her eyes.

      "Well," the Nimmo continued, "you're late. We thought you had forgotten and were up at the dig site waiting for the rest of us, but when we checked, you weren't there, so then we checked up at Techo Mountain, but you weren't there either, so we came back here and-"

      "Okay, okay," said the Techo. "Get out so I can at least get dressed. I'll be there in a moment."

      The same bewildered expression came over the young Nimmo's face once again. Apparently, he wasn't used to being interrupted. He nodded quietly and left, scratching his head as he passed through the tent flaps.

      Josephine Hamperdank sighed and hopped out of the cot. She dug around in her sizeable backpack, fishing out her last clean set of clothes; a pair of tan shorts and a blue shirt. As she pulled them over her reptilian frame, she chided herself for not joining the others when they had washed their laundry in the mountain streams nearby. Being obsessed with excavation did have its downsides; body odor. She would have to go on the next laundry trip unless she wanted to smell worse than was normal on these excavations.

      She stooped down and looked under her cot, searching for her favorite wide-brimmed hat amongst a wide array of clutter. Hamperdank wasn't sure what compelled her to throw everything from trowels to books to dirty socks under her bed. She had employed it as the chief means of cleaning her room when she was a young Techo, but was at a loss as to the reason she did it now. Perhaps it was because nothing ever seemed to get lost under the bed. Even if one can't find something, they still know where it is.

      "Ah -- there you are!" the doctor exclaimed, snatching her hat out from under a conservation manual. The Techo stood and straightened the hat on her head, frowning. How in Neopia had she overslept? The Techo Mountain village was the first serious dig she had supervised. Hamperdank had worked her way up through the ranks of the archaeological community slowly, starting as a simple amateur, then to college and grad school. She had slaved over all the boring tasks grad students were usually chunked and persevered until finally earning her doctorate five years ago.

      Ever since she was a child, she had participated in every archaeological dig she could get herself to. She had even supervised a few minor digs after she had graduated college, but never something of this magnitude. She didn't want to mess this up!

      When an ancient village barely a kilometer west of Techo Mountain had been discovered by a survey team, the Mystery Island Government immediately began looking into an archaeological investigation into the site. Much to Hamperdank's surprise, the Mystery Island Cultural Resources Program had requested she supervise the dig.

      No one was quite sure who or what had inhabited the old village, or even why it existed. Since Hamperdank specialized in ancient Neopian cultures, the Mystery Island Government had granted her the leadership of the dig, hoping she would be able to tell them about the people who lived and died in this old village.

      Giving her outfit one last tweak, Hamperdank walked out from the box tent into the campsite. Numerous other canvas tents were scattered about, situated around the strong but temporary Dig House the excavation team had erected. It sat nestled between several trees, the focal point of the camp.

      Hamperdank casually strolled over to one of the grad students -- the same green Nimmo who had woken her and touched her claw to the top of her hat, resulting in a rather vain looking pose. "How do I look?" she asked merrily.

      The Nimmo gave a slight smile and nodded, "Fine, Doctor Hamperdank."

      "You look like the perfect archaeologist stereotype," sounded a deep, authoritative voice from behind the Nimmo. Emerging from his tent, dressed in similar garb, came an elderly blue Skeith. "Honestly, Jo, I don't understand why you are content to let that stereotype be perpetuated."

      Hamperdank smiled warmly at the old conservator's humor, surveying his outfit. He was dressed almost exactly like her, except his pants were a bit darker and he was wearing a red shirt. "Hello, Holmes. Are you ready to head for the docks?"

      "I've been ready quite awhile, young lady. I told the others to check on you in your tent first, but those younglings don't mind an old-timer like me." The Skeith walked over to Hamperdank and nudged her gently, "But all is well, Jo We should be off, as it's getting late."

      "Yes, I suppose we should." Hamperdank smiled. Holmes was the only person she allowed to address her by her first name.

      The old Skeith was like family to her. He was her mentor, the man who had helped her through grad school and assisted her in thinking of ideas for her thesis. He had been the field conservator on the very first dig Hamperdank had been on as a child. Indeed, if it hadn't been for his gracious encouragement, she may have never become an archaeologist.

      Turning her mind once again to the conversation at hand, Hamperdank nodded again, "Let's get Ryshu and head to the docks."

***

The human girl stared up at the sun, now high in the sky, with a look of worry on her face. Her Darigan Moehog and Sauropod sat beside her on a green bench. "Don't worry," she said, more to herself than to the others, "they probably have a decent excuse for why they're late. They're professionals, after all!"

      Gelrelt looked up at her, his Gruslen-like tusks glistening in the morning light. "Well, at least if they don't come we can go home sooner."

      The girl snorted and stared at the sky, having given up on arguing for the moment. They had only been sitting on this bench for about an hour, but it seemed like an eternity. The Neopet and human had been more than surprised to find no one was waiting for them when their boat had docked about two hours ago. Neither could explain the absence of their welcoming party, nor come up with a decent plan of action, though Gelrelt had 'helpfully' suggested they go on their ship's return voyage home.

      And so, the trio did the only thing they could do. They waited. At first they had stood, leaning on one of many palm trees and watched for the approach of their guides. When none came, they eventually found a green bench beside the road and sat down, waiting.

      The girl silently reached into her pocket and pulled out the slip of paper she had written the names of the guides who were supposed meet them. "Josephine Hamperdank . . . Holmes Sease . . . Ryshu" She drummed her fingers on her suitcase, musing over the names. She had never heard of Hamperdank before, but Sease seemed familiar. Perhaps she had read something about him in an archaeology journal. Still, she couldn't quite remember who or what he was. Ryshu, however, was the most familiar of them all. She had read numerous stories about him in the Neopedia, especially about his training at the Mystery Island Training School. She couldn't help wondering what a training master had to do with an excavation, though.

      Finally, the human looked up from the paper, spotting three figures walking down the road: A red Nimmo, blue Skeith, and green Techo. The Nimmo was dressed in traditional fighting garb, while the other two were each wearing tan pants and wide-brimmed hats, the trademark of adventurers and archaeologists throughout the world. Their guides had finally arrived.

To be continued...

Previous Episodes

The Techo Mountain Excavation: Part Two

The Techo Mountain Excavation: Part Three

The Techo Mountain Excavation: Part Four

The Techo Mountain Excavation: Part Five

The Techo Mountain Excavation: Part Six

The Techo Mountain Excavation: Part Seven

The Techo Mountain Excavation: Part Eight


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