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The Search for Snowflake: Part Two

by buddy33774


The sun was shining and clouds were but a distant thought for the residents living in Neopia Central. And down on the yellow streets and avenues of this metropolis, a certain green Kyrii by the name of Hawkins wandered down the sidewalk of one of the said streets, a heavy thought on his mind. He had been tasked to find Snowflake - the very elusive Editor-in-Chief of the Neopian Times - and get her permission to have issue two-hundred of the 'Times released.

      But first, he had to find someone else - a certain green Pteri.

      As he walked, Hawkins passed the long, straight driveway which led up to the Neopia Central Hospital and Medical Center. And it was at just that moment that this certain green Pteri came bursting through the revolving doors to the hospital, screaming at the top of his lungs.

      "Ahhhhh!" The Pteri dashed down the pathway, screeching his head off as he tore down the lane towards the sidewalk.

      Hawkins jumped in front of the Pteri, grabbing hold of the psycho Pteri and pulling him to a stop. "Calm down!" Hawkins shouted, trying to make himself heard over the pet's wailing. "What's wrong?!"

      The Pteri stopped and looked up at Hawkins, a cast of utter horror etched into his green-feathered face. "He-he-he," the Pteri stammered, shaking as he pointed a wing back up at the hospital at the head of the driveway. "He wants to cut off my head!"

      Hawkins looked up the pathway to see a green Gelert, dressed in the white robe of a doctor, standing in the entryway to the building. He held a large saw in one of his paws as he stared down at the two.

      Hawkins sighed. "Come on," he told the Pteri, turning to lead him off. "Don't worry - I won't let anyone decapitate you today."

      The Pteri gave a weak nod of his head as he allowed himself to be lead off down the sidewalk. "I don't like decapitations, no I don't…"

      Back up at the head of the driveway, the Gelert doctor remained puzzled. He shook his head, confused. "They always run away from the Head Treament…" he muttered. "I just wish pets would be more open-minded about new therapies - I mean, sure, I haven't had a patient yet who survived it. And maybe not everyone needed it - like that little boy who had a cut on his finger. But still! I just… don't understand…" He gave a defeated sigh. "You know, if I can't cut pets up and inject them with unknown and untested substances, well heck, I don't know why I even bothered to become a doctor in the first place!"

      With another sad shake of his head, the Gelert doctor turned and wandered back inside through the revolving doors.

      Oh, doctors these days - always wanting to chop and inject things. Silly doctors…

Café Vita

      It was an outdoor café with tables and chairs spread around the bricked patio and umbrellas shading each table-and-chair set from the sun. And it was at one of these shaded tables that Hawkins the green Kryii and a certain green Pteri sat.

      "So," Hawkins said, setting his glass of vanilla-flavored borovan down on the table, having finished explaining their current situation to his new partner. "That's pretty much all of it. Think you're up for it?"

      The Pteri, still appearing a bit shaken and just nervous overall, kept his gaze down at table-top as he shook his head. "I don't know… it all seems really weird. I mean, having to search for Snowflake because of some tiny, senseless, previously unheard of rule about releasing certain issues of the Neopian Times without permission? It all seems so…"


      The Pteri nodded. "Yeah, not to mention riddled with plot-holes…."

      "Yeah," Hawkins agreed. "It's like some really bad story, written by some really bad author…"

      "Almost as bad as those stories that Buddy guy writes," the Pteri pointed out.

      Hawkins sat up a little. "Ya know, I met him once - even burned down his house, I did! Or Lennert did… something like that…"

      The Pteri sighed. "I have no idea how we're going to find her… I mean, I wouldn't even have any idea of where to start looking!" He put his face in his wings, sighing what may have been the saddest of sighs ever sighed. "Oh, I'm such a failure! Not only am I not helping you, I'm hurting you! I should just drown myself with this glass of water right now!" He motioned to the glass of complimentary water sitting on the table next to him. "In fact, I think I will!" He reached over, grabbed the glass, and dumped the water over his head.

      Hawkins stared back at him, blinking. "…You're going to drown yourself by pouring it over your head?..."

      The Pteri looked at the empty glass in his wing for a few seconds, then, distraught and defeated, slammed it back down on the table and put his head back in his wings. "I'm such a failure that I can't even drown myself correctly!"

      Hawkins stared back at the manic depressive Pteri for a second, not sure what to say. "Ummm… Yeah.... Anyways, maybe we could try checking out the Catacombs, first…" he suggested. "After all, that is where all the weird writers and artists hang out. So it might make sense that Snowflake would be down there."

      The Pteri, his head dripping wet, looked up with a shrug. "Okay, I guess that makes sense… But, Hawkins, I've heard horrible stories about the pets that live down in the Catacombs! All kinds of tales of crazy writers and mad artists! Hawkins, some of those pets haven't seen sunlight for years! It could be dangerous!"

      Hawkins thought about it for a second. "You're right, it could be. Which means that if anything happens, I'm gonna need to you to jump in front of me and sacrifice yourself, okay?"

      "Yeah, al-Wait, what?! Why me?!"

      The Kyrii shrugged. "What can I say? That's just the way that the world is." Hawkins held up his glass. "Want any borovan?"

      The certain green Pteri simply slumped down further in his seat. "Great…"

The Catacombs

      The air was permeated with a dank, dusty feel as the two characters descended down the narrow, winding, stone staircase. Light was minimal, with only a few sporadically-placed torches on the wall ever so often to light their way as they traveled down the cramped, twisting passageway.

      "Hawkins," the certain green Pteri squeaked out nervously from behind. "I don't like where this is going - I mean, look around! It's dark and scary and dark and damp and dark and… light-less! Light-less, Hawkins! It's never a good sign when there's no light! I've read this story before, Hawkins - it doesn't end well! Oh, I have a bad, bad feel--"

      "Shhh!" Hawkins shushed. "Be quiet! You're just making yourself nervous for no reason! Besides, I think we're almost there…"

      Suddenly, the curving, narrow corridor opened up to a large room - an underground cavern, in fact. Spread throughout the subterranean grotto were many small, brightly burning campfires, around which sat small groups of various species of pets. Some of them looked up at the two pets who had just entered, their eyes blank and hollow and gleaming an eerie white. Others didn't even bother to notice and remained where they were, hunched over the campfires, muttering quietly to themselves and each other.

      Hawkins took a deep breath, then approached an old Nimmo sitting beside one of the closest campfires. "Ummm, excuse me," Hawkins asked, tapping the old, bearded pet on the shoulder. "Uhhh, hi, I'm looking for Snowflake - you know, the Editor of the Neopian Times? Well, I thought that she might have an office down here or something.... So, would you happen to know where I might find her… ?"

      Hawkins' voice trailed off as he began to notice that this pet may not be so sane; the Nimmo's eyes were pale white and unfocused as he stared back up at the Kyrii.

      "Snowflake?" the old Nimmo muttered, gazing up at Hawkins as if he'd just noticed him standing there. "Snowflake… I remember snowflakes… So soft, so white… I used to love how the wind would blow them around, how they would ride on the wind like a child riding down a twisty slide… Tell me!" Suddenly, the old pet's eyes went wide as he reached out and grabbed tightly onto Hawkins' arm. "Tell me, are there still snowflakes? It's been so long since I've seen one… Oh, how I would love to see a snowflake again… So white, so pretty…"

      Hawkins nodded, trying to keep calm. "Umm, okay… You're crazy…" he muttered, slowly prying the Nimmo's paws off his arm and backing away from the crazy pet. He kept back up, his eyes face ahead, until he felt himself bump into something.

      The Kyrii spun around - to find himself face-to-face with another pet! A blue Draik with an equally zombie-like look; huge, dilated pupils set in a saggy, malnourished face. Hawkins backed up the way he came, away from the Draik, and looked around to see the rest of the pets from the cavern had encircled him. He was completely surrounded!

      He glanced at certain green Pteri who now stood next to the Kyrii, shivering with fear.

      "Hawkins," the Pteri muttered, his voice coming across squeaky and high-pitched, "I think they've surrounded us!"

      Hawkins rolled his eyes. "Really, you think so? Good work stating the obvious, there!"

      The blue Draik took a step forward into the circle, coughing to get the two's attention. "Ahem…"

      "Pleasedon'teatus!" the certain green Pteri cried out, falling to his knees, pleading.

      The Draik eyed the Pteri for a second, then looked back up at Hawkins. "Yes… Ummm, may I ask, what are you two doing here?" His voice came across refined, polite, and pleasant - certainly not that of a… well, zombie.

      Hawkins' eyes widened a bit. "You talk?" he asked, surprised.

      The Draik shrugged. "We're crazy - not mute." He glanced back down at the green Pteri, who had now assumed the fettle position on the floor and was rocking back and forth. The Draik shook his head sadly, looking back at Hawkins. "So, I ask again - what're you two doing here?"

      Hawkins cleared his throat, trying to stand as tall as possible in spite of his inner fear. "We're here to find Snowflake, the Editor of the Neopian Times. We thought that maybe she might have an office down here, since this used to be the headquarters of the Neopian Times and… all…" His voice, once again, trailed away.

      The Draik nodded. "Yes, I see. And what led you to believe this?"

      Hawkins shrugged. "A random, inexplicable thought derived from the need to keep the plot moving?"

      "Well, it's good to know you got that idea from a credible source," the Draik replied.

      The Kyrii nodded. "Yeah… Anyways, who're you?"

      The Draik smiled. "We," he answered, spreading his arms wide to show he encompassed the entire group which surrounded the two travelers, "are The Rejects! We were all at one time writers, artists, or reporters. We all had dreams of getting into the Neopian Times; of becoming great, famous writers, like Buddy." He sighed a dreamy sort of sigh. "Oh, Buddy…"

      "You know he plagiarizes stories?" the Kyrii interjected.

      The Draik ignored him, continuing. "Anyways, we never accomplished our dreams - we were all rejected. Some of us hundreds - thousands! - of times!"

      "Wow!" Hawkins exclaimed. "You all must really suck!"

      The Draik glared at him, then continued once more. "Eventually, we grew tired and weary of being rejected. It drove some of us mad! So we took refuge in the one place where we could stew in our insanity and, perhaps, someday get published - the Catacombs beneath Neopia Central!"

      The certain green Pteri looked up from where he lay on the floor, eyes wide. "Neopian Times? Hawkins, we work for the Neopian Times!" He scrambled to his feet. "Hawkins we work for the Neopian Times!" The Pteri turned to the Draik, bouncing excitedly. "Me and Hawkins, we work for the Neopian Times! That's why we're here! We're here on official Neopian Times business! That's why we're here!"

      Hawkins put his face in his paws, sighing. "Okay, now, why did you think that telling them that we work for the one place that ruined their lives would help us out?"

      The Pteri's face dropped. "…Oh…" he squeaked. "Umm, you're not going to eat us, are you?" he asked the Draik, his voice high and shrill.

      The Draik shook his head. "No, we're just going to hold you captive--"

      "Whew! That's good!"

      "Ahem!" The Draik cleared his throat, rather annoyed at having been interrupted for the third time already. "As I was saying - we're just going to hold you captive until the time comes for us to perform our ancient ceremony where you two shall be sacrificed."

      The Pteri's eyes widened in horror. "Well, that's not good!"

      "Okay," Hawkins said, turning to the Pteri beside him. "Remember our plan?"

      The Pteri looked up at his partner. "What? What plan?!"

      "The plan about you sacrificing yourself for me."

      "What?! Tha-That was our plan?!"

      "It is now!" Hawkins grabbed the Pteri and hurled him at the Draik. The distraction was enough to give Hawkins time to push past the circle of rejected writers and artists and dash towards the other end of the cavern.

      "Get back here!" the Draik shouted, taking flight after the escaping Kyrii.

      As he ran, Hawkins saw a larger opening on the other end of the hollow. He quickly ducked into it and continued down the tunnel, running as fast as his short, green, Kyrii legs could along the nearly pitch black corridor. All around him, Hawkins could see almost nothing but darkness, resorting to using his paws to guide him by running them along the damp, rough wall. Behind him he could hear the sounds of the Draik pursuing him; up ahead, he could hear the sound of running water.

      Soon, he came out to another cavern, and the source of the water sound was revealed -an underground river! Hawkins brought himself right up to the edge of the overhang and looked down - another step, and he'd plunge into the river a few feet below.

      "Stop!" Hawkins spun around to see the blue Draik standing a few steps away, arm reaching out for him. "Don't go in the river!"

      Hawkins glanced from the Draik down at the river, then back at the Draik. "Oh yeah? Why not?"

      The Draik shrugged. "It's against the rules!"

      Hawkins blinked. "What is it with everyone and following the rules lately?!" And with that, Hawkins turned and jumped from the scarp into the river below.

      "No!" The Draik shouted out as the current began to drag the Kyrii downstream. "You broke the rules! Rules were meant to not be broken!"

      "Haha!" Hawkins cheered out. "What are you precious rules going to do now? Kill me?!"

      "No!" The Draik shouted back. "That's what the deadly rapids downstream are for!"

      Hawkins' face suddenly fell blank. "Oh crap…"

      The lesson? Always follow the rules. That, or die a painful, rapid-related death.

To be continued...

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» The Search for Snowflake: Part One
» The Search for Snowflake: Part Three

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