Hannah's Forever Friend
For my faraway space friends Grace and Esther. Not even a galaxy could divide us.
I looked out the window of the old Kreludorian mining freighter where I really wasn’t supposed to be. Empty boxes, filled boxes, all were scattered about the cargo hold in which I was a stowaway. Funny that such a famous Neopian like myself would be found in this position but, here I was. I was an adventurer, and adventure called for daring and danger.
I checked where I’d put my rocket boots and oxygen mask in one of the empty boxes. They were fine. I wasn’t, though. A million emotions swelled within me. Sure, I was headed for the time of my life, the next chapter, if you will, but I was headed there alone. And my heart, though forever yearning for treasure, now yearned for something else: the friendship I’d just lost.
We were just returning to Happy Valley after a particularly dangerous quest into the Ice Caves. I was carrying a large crate of jewels. Armin was trudging through the snow at my side, lugging three crates on a sled and looked as though he was about to topple over.
“Armin,” I asked, “need a hand?”
“Hannah, I’m fine,” he growled at me through gritted teeth. “I’m small, but I’m not as weak as you think I am.”
“Hey, I’m sorry about what happened back there. I didn’t think you’d be able to take down that Snowbeast! Shoving you to the side was the only thing I could think of!”
“You nearly got us both trampled!”
“I thought I could take him myself!”
“Obviously not.” Armin huffed on ahead of me.
“Armin, wait!” I shifted the crate in my hands and galumphed after him.
He ignored me, plowing through the snow like someone was timing him.
“How many times am I going to have to say I’m sorry?!”
We were nearing a group of snowball throwing children, and, not wanting to be arguing in front of them, I stopped talking.
“Hey, look!” one of them cried. “Hannah’s back!”
The crowd ran up to me, and I set the crate down to wave at them with a gloved paw.
“What’d you find this time?”
“You’re so brave!”
“Was it scary in there?”
“My mom says I can’t look for treasure.”
“Show us the treasure!”
“Can we see it?”
“Will you tell us a story?”
I was bombarded with a thousand questions of the sweet Neopian children as they huddled in around me. I opened the crate to show them the glittering jewels inside.
“Wow!” the children squealed.
I was about to go into detail about my adventure with Armin, and was turning to ask the Bori what he’d though of our daring escape today, when I realized he was still walking on ahead of me, back bowed as he pulled the sled.
“Armin!” I yelled. “The kids want to hear about the Adventures of Hannah the Brave today!”
He turned slowly, looking back at where I crouched next to my crate among the group of young ones.
“It’s always about you, isn’t it?”
Then he turned, even as I called after him, leaving me alone to share the details of my adventure, but in no mood to do so.
A wave of stars washed by the window of the mining space ship. I huddled between a few metal boxes of supplies, trying to keep warm. Just then, a hatch opened in the ceiling somewhere nearby. I darted inside one of the boxes as quick as a wink. Then I heard a stiff metal voice.
“I thought I heard someone. Hello?”
I stayed as still as I could, trying not to move, or breathe too loudly
The hatch closed, and the footsteps of the mining robot faded away. I slowly climbed out of the empty box, my heart still beating. Old Po hadn’t been lying when he said I’d be in for danger.
I’d left the unhappy children story-less after my abandonment by Armin. I didn’t understand! I didn’t think I was being unnecessarily selfcentered! I was the hero, after all. The swashbuckling treasure hunter. Armin was just along for the ride, as far as I was concerned. And he was pretty small and weak, despite whatever he said. He wouldn’t have lasted a minute in the caves by himself!
Wishing to rid myself of my foul mood, I trudged into the Wintery Petpets store to see an old friend of mine.
The blue Bruce shopkeeper turned as I rang the little bell hung in the path of the opening door.
“Hannah!” he cried, straightening from behind the cashier’s desk. “What can I do for you today? Can I interest you in a Petpet?”
“Um... no; thanks, though.” I couldn’t own a Petpet. It was one of my personal rules, since I spent so much time treasure hunting. When would I ever have time to take care of one?
“Then what can I do for you?”
“Oh, I just felt like talking,” I said, not willing to outwardly admit my quarrel with Armin.
“Really? Good. Because there’s something I need to tell you.”
I walked over to the desk, taking off my hood, and pricking up my ears. Po heard a lot, owning a store and all. Often, he would tell me good places in the caves that he’d heard contained treasure. We’d formed a fast friendship.
“What?” All my worries about Armin vanished in a flash, gold and jewels filling my mind like water in the Pirate caves.
“Well, an old Kreludorian came through here not to long ago...”
“Kreludor? What’s that got to do with...”
“Are you going to let me finish?”
“Sorry. Go ahead.” I was kind of snippy sometimes. And rude. All part of being a pirate, I guess.
“Well, I heard there’s a mining freighter landing for supplies up on the mountain top not to long from now. And he said that they’ve discovered something special in one of the mines.”
“Treasure. Loads of treasure, beyond even your wildest dreams!”
“That’d have to be a lot of treasure,” I said, skeptical.
“From what I’ve heard!”
“Well, I’m kind of still searching the Ice Caves...”
“But you find less in there every day!” Po interjected. Then he softened, a smile playing on his beak. “Listen, is this really the life for you? Trudging out of the Ice Caves into quaint little Happy Valley every day?”
I could tell the question was rhetorical. I looked at the floor, knowing, in my wild pirate heart, that I’d know the answer already for quite some time.
“Kreludor. The place is barren, wild, dangerous,” he continued. “Hannah, you’ve conquered the Ice Caves! As a friend, I think it’s time you stepped up your game.”
“Yeah,” I said, the fire that had started my adventures rekindled in my heart. “You’ve never been more right.”
I though I heard a rustling from amongst the crates. I sat, frozen, not knowing whether I should move to hide, or just stay where I was. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Kreludor coming into view in the tiny porthole of the storage hold.
I’d returned to Armin’s house, bursting with energy, ready to tell him all about how I was preparing to sneak aboard the Kreludorian freighter. And he could come too, of course. Unfortunately, Armin hadn’t forgotten about our earlier tiff.
“Hey, Hannah,” he said, opening the door, but not moving aside so that I could come in.
“Armin!” I cried, oblivious to his stance. “I have so much to tell you!”
I gushed to him for several minutes about how we would soon be moving to Kreludor. I finished with, “Now, can you please move aside so that I can come in? I can help you start packing your bags!”
Armin didn’t budge.
“Armin, come on! We have to start now! The ship leaves today!”
“Hannah... I don’t want to do this anymore.”
“I don’t want to look for treasure. I just... I did it for a while, but now... Hannah, I just want to stay here and make a life for myself. Alone. I think I’ve been overshadowed by ‘Hannah the Brave’ for long enough.”
“I’m sorry, Hannah.” He closed the door, and I was left standing outside in the snow.
For a while, I didn’t know what to do. It was only the rockets of the ship landing on the peak that got my attention. If I was going to act, it would have to be now. With one final look back, I raced toward the ship, ready to climb aboard for another adventure. Without Armin.
There it was again. A distinct rustle within the crates. Then I saw movement.
“Steady, Hannah,” I thought to myself. “They don’t call you Hannah the Brave for nothing.”
“Who’s there!?” I called, vanquishing my fear. “Whoever it is, show yourself!”
Tensely, I watched as one of the crates moved aside to reveal none other than...
“ARMIN!!” I cried, launching myself at the furry Bori, knocking him off his feet in what was no doubt the biggest bear hug I’d ever given.
“Can’t... breathe!” he gasped, laughing.
“What are you doing here?” I asked, letting him go as he adjusted his space suit. He looked good in titanium.
“Well, I’m not here to get suffocated if that’s what you had in mind!” he said laughing.
“No,” he said, breaking my hopes of a reformation of our partnership. “I’ve just come to see you off.”
“Thank you,” I said quietly.
“What are friends for?”
We embraced again.
“Look!” I gasped, letting go of him and turning again toward the porthole. “Kreludor!”
“It looks... barren,” Armin muttered. “Are you sure you’ll be alright?”
I cast my eyes over the rocky terrain that looked as wild and wrought with meteor paths and craggy rocks as any series of caves I’d ever set my eyes on. I picked up the rocket boots that I’d brought out of one of the boxes and strapped them on my suit, also putting on my oxygen mask.
“Oh, yeah,” I said, “I’ll be better than alright. You?”
“I’ll get to a store, find someone, and get them to find me passage back to Neopia.”
We sat in silence for a while, enjoying each other’s company and watching the moon’s surface shoot by the window until a jarring landing signaled that we were there. Armin and I looked up as we heard robot feet clanking on the metal over our heads.
As the hatch opened, I revved up my boots, grabbed Armin, and then both of us blasted past the unsuspecting robot, out of the ship, and across the Kreludorian landscape.
My boots soon ran out of fuel, and I had to drop Armin near a large crater. Luckily there were buildings in view. The mining company lay back in the direction from which we’d flown.
“I guess this is goodbye then,” I said.
“I’ll see you again, right?” Armin asked, catching my wrist as I started to walk back toward the waiting caves.
I turned to him. “You can count on it.”
Then we separated, my friend walking back toward civilization, I walking toward yet another adventure, my wild heart at once filled with joy and sadness.