The Great Race: Part One
“We could so beat you in a race!”
Taylor and Dayna's heads popped up from their conversation at the sound of two familiar, arguing voices.
Dayna sighed. “Looks like they're at it again.” She leaned her head back. “Sirenia!”
The arguing stopped and there was a sound of pounding hooves through the house as two Peophins entered the room. Sirenia, Dayna's Tyrannian Peophin, tossed her red hair angrily. Ankhele, Taylor's island Peophin, crossed her hooves.
“What is it this time?” Taylor asked.
“She says she's faster,” the two Peophins said at once.
“She said that even Luke could beat me,” snorted Sirenia.
“Yeah, right,” Luke, Taylor's fire Lupe snorted.
Dayna stirred her tea. “Ah, the usual argument. Why don't you just settle it with a race?”
“We did,” Sirenia answered. “And tied.”
Ashalyia, Dayna's young blue Aisha who had been sitting in Dayna's lap, climbed up the back of the sofa. “You could have a longer race.”
Kanuah, Dayna's shadow Lupe, who had been lying in the sun, rolled over. “You could go around Shenkuu; that would be far enough.”
Luke laughed. “Yeah, right. They would need all of Neopia.”
“There's an idea,” Taylor said thoughtfully.
“It would get them out of the house for a while.” Dayna laughed.
“Can we?!” Ankhele and Sirenia rubbed their hooves together at the thought.
“No.” Dayna took a sip of tea.
“Why not?” Racon, Dayna's Moltaran Aisha asked. He had just walked in as the race was proposed.
“I'm not letting my pet go rampaging all over Neopia alone. I trust her, but not her enthusiasm.”
Taylor stirred his drink. “What if we sent another pet with them, make it a team?”
Dayna eyed her friend. “You're serious?”
Taylor smiled. “It would be awesome! And it would give our pets a chance to see Neopia.”
“I'll go!” all the pets in the room volunteered at once.
Dayna laughed. “Well...”
Everyone leaned in as she thought.
Dayna looked around. “If I send anyone, I would send Kanuah.”
Kanuah jumped up. “I have no problem with that.”
Taylor stroked Jetta, his Xweetok, thoughtfully. “I would send...”
“Me!” His red Zafara, Rafaran jumped into his lap. “I'll go!”
Taylor laughed and patted Rafaran. “I know, but I would send Luke. That would make it fair, one Peophin, one Lupe.”
Ankhele grinned. “It still wouldn't be fair, seeing how slow Sirenia is.”
Luke gave his sister a light shove. “Be nice.”
Dayna ran a finger around her metal circlet. “There would have to be check points.”
Taylor pulled a notebook out of his pocket. “Between the two of us, I'm sure that we have enough friends in enough lands to be checkpoints.”
Everyone held their breath and watched Dayna.
Dayna broke into a smile. “Let's do it!”
Everyone looked at Ashalyia.
“What's the prize going to be?”
Dayna looked at Taylor.
Dayna took out a electronic organizer. “I have a Disco paintbrush in my Safety Deposit Box; would that do?”
All four pets nodded.
Dayna shook hands with Taylor. “Game on then.”
“This should last you a long time, more than enough to get the the next checkpoint.”
Dayna handed Kanuah a sack full of food which he strapped onto his back.
“And this should help if you should run into trouble.” Dayna handed him a Night Katana. “I know you've been wanting a weapon for your own. This seemed as good a time as any to give you one.”
Kanuah snatched up the katana and caressed it. “Really?” He hugged his owner. “Thank you!”
“I'm ready!” Sirenia trotted up. “I have the maps, list of check points, some food, and my blaster.”
She had saved for months to buy a Ylana Blaster, her favorite and most valued weapon.
“I'll take the maps.” Kanuah took the rolls of paper from his sister.
“You'll need this.” Dayna took off her metal circlet and put it on Sirenia's head. “This is the symbol of the team. When you get to a checkpoint, show it to them and they'll know who you are.”
Sirenia looked wide-eyed at her owner. “Are you sure?! That's your trademark!”
Dayna hugged her pet. “You guys are my trademark.” She pulled Kanuah into the hug. “Be safe, remember I love you, and have fun.”
Racon and Ashalyia jumped in. Ash hugged Kanuah's neck. “And bring me back something pretty.”
He ruffled her antennae. “I'll try.”
“Ready, Dayna?” Taylor was standing with his two pets at the starting line.
Dayna stood up. “Ready.”
Kanuah and Sirenia joined Ankhele and Luke at the starting line. Sirenia noticed that Ankhele was wearing the bone necklace that Taylor always wore. That must be their trademark.
Dayna held a small pocket blaster over her head. “The first checkpoint is Terror Mountain. Remember to keep in contact with neomails. Good luck to all.”
She pulled the trigger.
“Easy, Sirenia. We have all of Neopia to get through; we're not even out of Shenkuu yet,” Kanuah reminded his sister as they ran. He was actually loping. Being a water type, Sirenia wasn't the fastest on land.
“We have the home field advantage here, though. This is our backyard,” Sirenia panted. She veered left. “If we get to the river, we can go faster.”
Kanuah looked to his right; he could see flashes of fire of the other team charging through the woods.
“There!” Sirenia took a flying leap and dove neatly into the river. “Now we can move!”
Kanuah increased his pace as his sister's speed increased in water. “Not too fast.”
“I know, I know,” Sirenia answered irritably.
Kanuah kept up his run as he scanned the map of Shenkuu. “We should hit the north shore in three or so hours if we can keep up the pace. From there we need to find a boat of some type to cross over to Terror Mountain.”
He stowed the map in his bag and returned to all fours, the fastest way to run. “Following the river will take some extra time, but it might be okay seeing as it increases our speed and there's a dock where the river meets the ocean.”
“Less talk, more running.” Sirenia dove underwater to increase her speed.
“Made it!” Kanuah skidded to a stop as he ran out of the forest onto the rocky shore of the Northern Coast.
Sirenia burst out of the river. “That water is cold!” She shivered as she shook herself dry.
Kanuah watched as his breath puffed out in a cloud of vapor. He tapped a paw on the cold, hard earth. “The north sea winds make this part of Shenkuu colder.” He pulled out a warm cloak and wrapped it around himself as he looked around for the dock. “There!” He pointed up the shore a little ways. “We'll go there for a boat.”
Sirenia walked alongside of Kanuah as she pulled out her cloak. “Where do you think the other team is?”
“It all depends on whether they went up the mountain to the flying ships or if they went through the forest to a small port that's down the coast about ten miles.”
“So you have no idea?”
“No.” Kanuah walked up the wooden dock to an Ogrin wearing a sea coat. “Excuse me, sir. Do you know where we could find a boat to get to Terror Mountain?”
The Ogrin stroked his gray beard thoughtfully. “Ye could go hunt fer the dock master; he's out ta lunch and he'll rent you a boat fer a thousand. If yer not too impatient, me and my crew are leaving in ten minuets, ye can hitch a ride with us fer free.”
Kanuah thought of the 10,000 neopoints that each team was given. “We can wait, thank you.”
The Ogrin stuck out a paw. “Welcome aboard!”
“A free meal too, we hit luck.” Sirenia sipped a mug of hot coffee carefully; the sailors made theirs much stronger than she was use to. “When will we get to Terror Mountain?”
Kanuah munched on a biscuit as he looked over a map of Shenkuu and a map of Terror Mountain. “It's midday now, and it takes two hours to get to the mountain.” He looked at the list of checkpoints. “Our checkpoint lives on the top of the mountain. If we're lucky and fast, we could be there by nightfall to sleep.” He rolled up the maps and stuck them back in his pack. “I think the fastest route up will by going through Happy Valley, through the Ice Caves, then to the top.”
Sirenia stuck out her tongue as snow flakes began to fall. “I've actually never been to Terror Mountain. Have you ever been there?”
Kanuah rubbed his paws together. “Once. I had to do a quest for the Snow Faerie to get her as a Battledome challenger.”
The Ogrin Captain walked up. “Stayn' warm?”
Sirenia held her hooves out to a small fire. “Yes, sir.”
The Captain laughed. “Good, good. We'll be in dock in half 'n hour. You kin see it through the snow a little.”
Sirenia ran up the bow of the ship and leaned out. “Is it that gray shape?”
Kanuah joined her. “Yep. That's the mountain. Ready?”
Sirenia pulled her cloak closer around her. “For anything.”
To be continued...