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Sand Daughter: Part One


by sara_mossflower

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Also by smurfafied1800

Dared Into Fate

Immi was jolted awake by the motion of the boat. Rubbing her eyes, the Cloud Kacheek glanced about, re-familiarizing herself with her surroundings. That's right, she was onboard the FaerieSprite, one of the most elegant cruise ships on Neopia. She muttered mild curses under her breath at the fact that she was stuck in a dark supply room instead of an exquisite first class seat. Maybe she'd try to sneak upstairs anyways. After all, they'd been at sea for hours now, probably. Even if they found out she didn't have a ticket, what would they do - throw her overboard? These were wealthy sailors, not a rabble of uncivilized corsairs.

      She groaned as she realized the numbness in her rear end from sitting in one position for too long. "I'm so getting even with Farl …" she mumbled. Farl was her friend, back in Neopia Central, a frivolous Wocky who didn't know the meaning of being serious. They'd been hanging around some shops with a group of other buddies when the topic of being able to afford luxuries came up. Everyone started mentioning all the expensive things they'd ever wanted but were unattainable, Immi herself had mentioned a classy cruise, and before she knew it, Farl had opened her fat mouth and dared the Kacheek to hitch a ride on a luxury liner.

      Immi was adventurous and slightly rowdy - anyone who knew her knew that. The fact was an explanation in itself. She'd snuck aboard the FaerieSprite without a second thought, tagging Farl's bet of one thousand Neopoints that she'd chicken out.

      Now she wandered through the dim light of the supply room, almost blindly striving to discover an exit leading to the world of light it seemed she'd left so long ago. She kept her paws out, hoping to avoid stumbling over boxes and alerting the pets on board of her existence. She groped around for a while before seeing a dim ray of light, then stumbled toward it.

      Immi finally reached the light, having shoved aside and tumbled over a few boxes. She would sneak around on deck, at least, and if caught pretend she was with a dumb old lady or something. Yup, she thought finally. That's the base plan, I guess... She pressed her paws against the door, shoving it open with crawled up the stairs.

      Immi breathed in, thankful for the fresh, salt-smelling air, and stumbled up on the deck. She tried to look casual, even though she was dirty from sitting on her numb bottom so long. A few passengers regarded Immi with snobby looks as she passed. She retorted by sticking her tongue out when they weren't looking.

      She sighed wistfully, looking out onto the open sea. If she was caught, she'd be taken back to the mainland after the cruise was over (far too many Neopoints had been put into this cruise for a kid to mess it up) then she'd be punished. Immi would've made a quick and easy getaway by then. She looked around the deck of the FaerieSprite and saw a comfortable beach chair that was vacant, and plunked herself down in it. "Waiter!"

      A prim Scorchio in a tuxedo strode over. "Yes, miss?" Immi ignored the fact that he was looking at her with utter distaste. She waved her paw in front of her face nonchalantly. "It's hot. Get me a milk shake. And charge it to-" she searched around quickly, spying an old lady. "My grandma. She's over there, see?" The waiter nodded and left, leaving Immi to bask in the sun while she waited for her beverage.

      She sipped at the creamy strawberry flavour, which cooled her taste buds like an edible breath of fresh air. Narrowing her eyes, she glanced over towards the elderly Gelert who was absent-mindedly paying the bill for a milkshake she hadn't ordered. Immi giggled softly, feeling slight pity, but a majority of simple amusement. After finishing her drink, she carelessly placed it on the tray of another passing waiter, who stared after her with bafflement and insult. She merely ignored him, leaning over the rail of the ship and peering down at the crystalline depths of the cerulean ocean. The sea breezes toyed with her hair and t-shirt, sending a pleasant tingling feeling flowing through her skin via the drops of sweat that had gathered on her fur as a result of the blazing sun's heat. There wasn't any land to be seen for miles around, something she made sure of by turning a full three hundred and sixty degrees before teetering with dizziness and collapsing back into her deck chair.

      Deciding that she had nothing better to do, Immi made herself comfortable and after taking one last look at the cloudless sky, she closed her eyes. Snooze time… she thought.

      "Excuse me."

      Someone was tapping her shoulder - too firmly to be polite. Immi's eyes snapped open. "What?" she demanded irritably.

      It was the same waiter who had brought her milkshake. "We've arrived in the Sakhmet Harbour, miss," he informed her. "I suggest you get your boarding and departure pass ready and prepare to depart."

      "Pass?" Darn it! She needed a ticket thing to get off?

      "Yes," replied the Scorchio, sounding slightly perturbed. "It's a slip of paper that should have been given to you when you paid for your cruise. We keep a tab from the slip to ensure that all of our passengers arrived safely."

      "Um, can I use your bathroom?"

      "There are facilities located conveniently at the harbour."

      "But it's URGENT!" She hoped he'd let her out of his sight for a moment - she had to get off the ship without being caught!

     "Urm," the Scorchio was obviously uncomfortable. "I will escort you to the nearest restroom... I can wait outside for you to see your pass..."

      "Yeah, whatever, just show me to the bathroom," Immi hissed urgently, putting on her most uncomfortable face. "Hurry." The Scorchio's eyes widened considerably and he led her quickly to the bathroom. Immi ran in, breathing out a fake sigh of relief, and closed the door behind her.

      "Thank Fyora," she mumbled, spying a window. Immi ran across the marble floor and pryed open the window, feeling a small gust of wind blow in. She waited for a while for the boat to reach the dock, and the Scorchio outside prodded, "Miss?"

      "Don't rush me!" Immi snapped, throwing a glare back at the closed door. She grabbed a few towels and tied them together, making one of the ropes she had used to escape her family's house way back when. Finally, the boat came to a slow halt and people began unboarding.

      "Miss," the Scorchio said urgently, "the boat is coming to a halt. I really need to see your pass before you depart--" Immi interrupted irritably, "Shut up!" The silence that met her snap, she figured, was his astonishment. Immi was only half listening, but she heard other prim, prissy voices asking the Scorchio for directions, and made her move. Immi flung the towel-rope out the window, which only reached a little way down, and tied it to the toilet.

      Tugging the knot to make sure it wouldn't come undone while she was rappelling down from the window, and once she was satisfied, made her way to the open portal, climbing into it and then backing out slowly, keeping her grip on her makeshift rope firm.

      Feeling nothing but air meeting her body caused the soles of Immi's feet to sweat with apprehension, as well as her fingers, which remained clenched around the length she was now almost suspended by. She lowered herself further down until she was completely dangling from the window and reached out for the side of the ship with her toes. Looking downwards slightly, Immi realized that because of the boat's sloping shape, she was unable to reach the side, and therefore she would have next to no stability as she escaped from the vessel.

      Inhaling sharply, Immi realized that she would have to just wrap her legs around the towels as well and shuffle downwards until she could drop down safely. As she had noticed earlier, the rope was not very long, and the portion hanging below her was probably no more than two metres long. Summoning a bit of courage, the Kacheek slowly began to make her way down.

     In a shorter time than she was comfortable with, Immi was soon at the bottom of the dangling strand. Glancing downwards, she noticed that she was directly above the rail of the deck. Mentally gauging the distance between herself and the deck's surface, Immi decided that to drop down to it could be quite harmful. Plus, she would still be on the ship. Swivelling her head around, she beheld her only alternative: to let go and plummet into the dark water that was smashing against the docks nearby.

     Immi sighed; making a complete belly flop into the water wasn't very tempting, but neither was getting caught. From up above she heard a familiar voice: the Scorchio. She gritted her teeth in fury, beginning to madly swing herself. If she could just get in the water, she'd be home free! The Scorchio's faint voice became panicked as he unlocked the door with one of the specialized authorization keys (despite his knowledge of punishment) and discovered that his charge was no longer there. Immi heard a faint, "What...?" as he prodded the rope's hold.

      "Stop it, stop it, stop it...!" she hissed quietly as he prodded it more, then finally got it into his head that something was attached to the other end of the rope. He poked his head out the window and looked down, seeing Immi.

      "Miss!" he called urgently. "What on Neopia are you doing?!" Immi was about to let go of the rope and plunge into the water, but instead she looked up, steeling herself, and sneered. "Bye-eeeee...."

      Immi swung extra hard and let go of the rope, plunging into the salty water. She stayed under and swam near the docks, to avoid being seen. She surfaced a few times, going under as fast as she could, until she finally reached the shore. Immi hauled herself up on the sand, the hot sun already drying her off, and stood with shaky knees. "Whew," she muttered, wiping a paw across her brow. Immi looked back to the harbour to see pets unboarding, and no great commotions, so only the Scorchio could've seen her unboard without a pass. However, she wasn't sure whether she'd be caught again.

      "I'd better not camp with them," she muttered, turning around. She'd go to the nearest village - only a little ways away - and stay there. Then, she'd take the boat back to Neopia Central and collect her winnings from Farl. She set off, seeing the village in the distance.

      It didn't take Immi very long to get tired, and worse, hot. Her once wet fur was now plastered with sweat to her face as she walked along. Peering into the distance, shielding her eyes from the blinding sunlight with one hand, she trudged onwards, even though she was unable to see any sign of civilization yet. She'd left all traces of the Sakhmet Harbour behind her, but now she regretted not hanging around there a little longer - maybe she could have bought a bottle of water or something.

      The sand was gritty and hot under her feet, and it felt as though her soles were turning to cracked leather because of it. Trying not to let the blazing humidity affect her too severely, Immi continued on.

      A few minutes later, she noticed a darkened shape on the horizon - it had to be a village. Although she hadn't really been walking for a long period of time, the minutes felt like hours to the young Kacheek, merely because of the sheer monotony of her surroundings. She managed to bring forward a small reserve of strength and jogged towards her destination. Urging herself to keep moving, Immi soon arrived at the outskirts of the community.

      She felt out of place here, and noticed several pets spending their time with traditional desert activities; some were painting ornate pottery, others were preparing some exotic herbs to eat, and a group of children were playing some kind of game with a large medicine ball. Immi walked slowly through the village, passing sandstone houses and small tents. Some of the residents were glancing at her curiously, and she wondered who she could ask for some food and water. That milkshake a few hours ago hadn't sated her for too long.

      Just as she was about to approach a group of middle-aged Kyrii, Immi felt a firm paw descend and grasp her shoulder tightly. Taken by surprise, the Kacheek whirled around to behold the stranger, and found herself face to face with an ancient Desert Usul, who observed her with fearful eyes and foreboding smile.

To be continued...

 
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