"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
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
The Nimmo stared up at his red mentor, "How
The Techo glared at him, "You know how! For
all we know, this could start another war."
The Nimmo remained silent, pondering the old
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 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
"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 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
"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
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
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,
"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
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...