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At the AstroVilla: Part Nine

by kemppotatoe


"The basements are completely empty, sir. We checked every room."

      Griptor sighed and clapped his hand to his forehead. He glanced at the large clock hanging on the wall of the lobby... it was almost midnight. Guests were peacefully sleeping, but he and his staff were trying to locate a mysterious suspect.

      Griptor massaged his temples and bit his tongue in anger. Cypher the Cybunny had frankly disappeared from the hotel.


      "This is insane. Whoever built this needs to get some lamps or something!"

      "Ssssshhh! Or they'll hear you."

      Luther and Cypher were in complete blackness, unaware of where they were or what was around them. Neither of them had any idea how big or small the room they were in was... or if there was a way out besides the bricks behind them.

      Luther sighed. "Let's take one brick out and get some light!"

      "No!" Cypher said sternly, "Pets will come back down into the basement and we can't risk it!"

      "Then how are we supposed to know where we're going?"

      "Okay," Cypher said calmly, "we just need to take small steps and see what's around us. Feel around on the walls, maybe there's a door or something!"

      Cypher picked up her foot and tried taking a tiny step forward. She could still feel concrete beneath her feet. She continued to take tiny steps, holding her arms out in front of her to feel for walls. But none came.

      "Ow!" Luther gasped. "Geez, what was that?"

      "What was what? What happened?"

      "My toe just hit something... like a raised piece of wood," Luther responded. "I'm going to feel around the floor, I bet there's something down here."

      "Me too." Cypher dropped to her paws and knees and felt around herself. Sure enough, about a foot in front of her, she could feel an elevation in the ground, but an inch or so farther and Cypher could only feel air. "I feel it too! But it's so strange!"

      "It's stairs! I can feel them!" Luther said whispered excitedly. Cypher could tell that he was a few feet away from her, and a bit lower. He was obviously going downwards.

      "But why isn't it lined up even with the floor?" Cypher asked, feeling her way down the stairs as well.

      "Maybe this place was built after the rest of the hotel." Luther's hushed voice came from farther below this time. Cypher followed slowly and steadily, always feeling around with her foot before taking a step. She was starting to get used to the pitch blackness; she could almost make out Luther a few feet in front of her.

      "Look!" Luther whispered. "Up ahead! There's light!"

      Cypher smiled as she saw that there was in fact something casting light ahead. It started to get closer... and closer...

      Cypher and Luther were now walking on flat concrete ground. They could hear murmured voices in the distance, and by the sounds of it, two pets were arguing. Luther glanced at Cypher, eyebrows raised, but all she could do was shrug.

     Finally it was bright enough for them to see their surroundings. They were currently standing at the end of a long hall, and looking back all they could see was a tunnel of black. In front of them, the hall became a small circle, and on the right there was a large open doorway. The voices were clear now; one was male and the other female.

     "You've been fine for years, why are you changing your mind now?"

     "I'm just saying that it's about time to face your fears!"

     "Oh no! This is an ingenious system I've got going. I'm not going to ruin years of work to be 'a good Neopian' or whatever you've been saying."

     "How about being a wise Neopian! You can't do this forever! Neither can I!"

     "Well, pick something then! Go off and do what you want to."

     "I'm staying until you realize that it's time!"

     "It wouldn't have to be 'time' if you hadn't intentionally dropped clues to Cypher!"

     Cypher gasped, and Luther thrust a paw to cover her mouth. Silently, he mouthed, "I'm going to take a look," and Cypher nodded. He slowly bent his head toward the doorway and peered in. After several seconds of having Juppie-sized eyeballs, he turned to Cypher and motioned for her to come over. Cypher did, and popped her head right below Luther's to see what was there.

     If she had been able to make a sound at that moment... she probably would have screamed.

     It was an enormous laboratory. Glass cases filled with paint brushes, transmogrification potions, and morphing potions lined the walls. At the far end of the cavernous lab were two pets whose backs were to Cypher and Luther.

     "That's Aewa!" Cypher mouthed to Luther. It had been Aewa's voice that was telling the mysterious spotted Korbat next to her to face his fears. But, strangely, she wasn't speaking with her usual accent...

     "You can repay them easily!" Aewa was saying, "You can sell all these paint brushes and potions! It'll be simple to rebuild your life as creator of this fabulous hotel, Marvo."

     Marvo LeMaer! The Korbat was Marvo LeMaer! Wait... the creator of the hotel was the kidnapper? No, no, no... something wasn't right.

     Luther pulled Cypher back to where they could not be seen. "This is the key to clearing your name!" he whispered. "Let's head back up and bring Griptor and the Chia Police down here!"

     "No!" Cypher whispered harshly in reply. "We need to hear what he has to say. After all... it's Aewa! I know I can trust her. Can you?"

     Luther sighed. "Yes, I can. But what are we going to do?"

     Cypher bit her lip and thought. "Just follow my lead."

     "I don't like the sounds of that..." Luther murmured. "Can't we just stay back here and listen?"

     But Cypher just shook her head. After taking a deep breath, she stepped out into the brightly-lit lab, a smile on her face.

     "Marvo LeMaer, you've been caught!"

      The Korbat whipped around, eyes wide. Aewa turned around as well, and Cypher was surprised to see a smile across her face. Marvo's mouth dropped open at the sight of Cypher, and then went a few inches lower at the sight of Luther stepping out.

      "Aewa?" Cypher asked across the lab.

      The Wocky grinned. "Actually... no. My name's not Aewa."

      Luther frowned. "It's not?"

      "No. People have known me as Hanna the Poogle Racer, Jiffy the Mynci volleyball player, Keela the Gelert scientist, Delma Harrence the defender of the Faerieland Yooyuball team, or more recently... Lorraine, the Altadorian Archives worker."

      It was Cypher's turn to have eyes the size of Juppies. "Huh?"

      "But," Aewa continued, "my first ever name happened to be Ursula. Ursula the Gormball Champion."

      "Will someone please explain to us what's going on?" Luther asked.

      Marvo flew forward. "I will explain everything if you promise not to go and tell the Chia Police."

      "Of course," Cypher said, "just please tell us what this is all about."

      Marvo sighed. "I guess I need to start from the beginning. My hotel was being built when I got into trouble on Krawk Island. It was... pirates. I became indebted to them and I couldn't pay them back. They threatened me, so I sought refuge here. I built the lab before the hotel opened, and I made my plans. To get away from the pirates, who would eventually know I was here, I invented the LeMaer Legend. According to the legend, I disappeared because the pirates were haunting the AstroVilla. I knew to make it more believable... I had to take others too."

      "So you took random guests away from their lives just so you could disappear from some pirates?" Cypher asked.

      "No!" Marvo said, shaking his head fiercely. "That's where the genius in my plan came in. I found pets all across Neopia who weren't happy with their current life. Mostly, somewhat well-known pets. I contacted them, saying that I had a way for them to start over. All they had to do was help me out. Through a friend, I got my hands on quite a bit of Neopoints, but not enough to repay the pirates, and they wanted it all at once. I bought paint brushes and potions until I had practically three or four of each kind! All the unhappy pets had to do was pretend to get kidnapped in the night. Then they came down here."

      "But surely someone could have seen them on their way down here, right?" Luther asked.

      "Actually, my friend Kiko, who managed to help me get the paint brushes, is painted invisible. The pets would come down earlier, and then Kiko would be in their room to scream or break something or whatever. But no one could see him. The unhappy pets were now no longer on Neopia. In this lab, they would choose a new look... anything they wanted... and see if they could find something else to do that would make them happy. If they couldn't find anything, they could come back and do it again, or they could join me and get painted ghost."

      "Like that Poogle and Hissi!" Cypher said.

      "Exactly. So you see, I was never kidnapping anybody. It was all planned with them! They were happy to do it, because it gave them a chance to start over."

      "And you?" Luther said, nodding to Aewa. "What about you?"

      "Well," she said, "being a Gormball champ lost its energy. I couldn't stand it anymore! I got the letter from Marvo, and decided to take a shot. We staged the kidnapping, and I was free to be what I wanted. Personally, I've always wanted to be an actress. But I can't sing, so the Shoyru Company turned me down. That's when I decided to come back and work with Marvo, but not as a ghost."

      "That's why you've been so many things!" Cypher said. "It was giving you a chance to act! That's brilliant!"

      Aewa nodded. "I felt like myself. Plus, I got to change my appearance all the time. It was fun... different."

      "When you were Aewa, and you disappeared for days at a time, it was because you were being someone else, wasn't it?" Luther asked.

      "Right," she said, nodding. "Lorraine, more recently. I signed my real name with the AstroVilla pen in the Gormball book as a clue, because I've lately felt that Marvo needs to come out of hiding and face his fears. That's why, as Aewa, I've been giving you clues, Cypher. I wanted you to solve it."

      "So... is Lenny really one of those ghost pets? And was that Kiko I was talking to the night Lenny was kidnapped?"

      "Lenny's the ghost Poogle, Leroy is actually his name. And yes, that was Kiko," Aewa said.

      "Wow..." Luther muttered to himself. "All this time, it's just been a giant cover-up! There's no real kidnapper, or curse, or anything! It's just a cowardly Korbat!"

      "Excuse me?" Marvo raised one eyebrow.

      "Sorry, Mr. LeMaer," Luther said, "but Ursula's right. You need to face your foes and your fears. I'm sure you can do it! And you've got all your friends backing you up!"

      Marvo licked his lips uncomfortably. "Well..."

      "Mr. LeMaer," Cypher said softly, "I don't want to become anything new or stage a kidnapping, but if you don't come clean, I'll have to. I'm everyone's prime suspect. It's that or being locked away in a dungeon in Faerieland."

      LeMaer sighed. "The entire point of this was not only to save myself, but to give pets that were unhappy with their lives a second chance. If you aren't unhappy, I don't want to make you start over." He took a deep breath. "And I certainly don't want to cause you discomfort in staying in a dungeon."

      "And," Luther continued, "everyone who works here will lose their jobs if this place gets shut down. That's including me. I have nowhere else to go."

      Ursula smiled. "Marvo, it's time. After all, Kiko's brother is giving him everything in his safety deposit box, and Kauvara just recently sent that potion as a thank you present. With all that, it's more than enough to pay back the pirates."

      "You can come out of hiding, Mr. LeMaer!" Cypher said. "You can be free again! To do as you please. Just like what you're doing to help all the unhappy pets! We want to help you."

      Marvo took a deep breath, and then a long, uncomfortable silence filled the lab. "I guess it's time," he said softly.

      Cypher grinned. "Just like it should be... the AstroVilla is safe again."

      And so ends the story of Cypher the Cybunny and her stay at the AstroVilla... but the story of Cypher and her adventures in Neopia are just beginning.

The End

Author's Note: Sequel in the making! Hope you enjoyed it, feedback welcome!

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Other Episodes

» At the AstroVilla: Part One
» At the AstroVilla: Part Two
» At the AstroVilla: Part Three
» At the AstroVilla: Part Four
» At the AstroVilla: Part Five
» At the AstroVilla: Part Six
» At the AstroVilla: Part Seven
» At the AstroVilla: Part Eight

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