Battle Quills... ready! Circulation: 193,614,788 Issue: 702 | 9th day of Collecting, Y17
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Meegla and Fargon's Not-So-Intergalactic Adventures


by hybatsu

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      Sweat ran down the side of Meegla's face as she stared at the card in her gloved paws. Yesterday, the Aisha had spent four hours playing Guess the Card with her humble sidekick, Fargon the Grundo. Fargon had been bored out of his mind, begging her to go play some Destructomatch III with him instead, but Meegla had insisted he let her guess the patterns on the cards until her guesses were nearly 90 percent correct. She did it all in preparation for this very moment. The longer Meegla stared, the greater she imagined her psychic powers were growing, honing in on what lay just behind the pretty, silvery foil.

      "Are you going to take all day?" the Scratchcard Kiosk Wocky asked with a sigh. He pointedly looked at his watch. "I'm taking my lunch break in five minutes whether you've scratched a single circle off of that thing or not."

      Meegla threw him a glare, but quickly resumed her staring contest with the scratchcard. Her helmet was getting humid, so she clicked a button to open it. The brisk Happy Valley air rushed in, cooling her green face. Free of their confines, all six of her ears began to twitch. With nerves? With psychic energy? Even Meegla didn't know! To her right, she could feel Fargon's wide eyes watching her with anticipation. He was probably very impressed by her powers of divination.

      Dramatically, Meegla raised her right paw high in the air, then brought it down to the card in a scratching frenzy. The pictures she unearthed were promising: the first circle revealed a jackpot symbol! Then a 5,000! Another 5,000! Another jackpot! A blank! Now, it was the final circle! The moment of truth! Would she? Would she...?

      "Well I'll be," chuckled the kiosk Wocky. "This is the first time since you two started hounding me on a regular basis that you actually won something. Congratulations!"

      He grabbed a corner of the scratchcard and tugged, but Meegla's grip was like iron.

      "Just one more," she said, frantic. "Just let me scratch one more."

      "No, now, you know the rules..." With impressive strength, the Wocky managed to yank the card free. Then he went off to grab her prize.

      Fargon clapped Meegla on the back. "Good job, Meegla! 5,000 Neopoints! That's sure to help our fund!"

      Meegla scowled, six green ears twitching irritably. "It's not the jackpot. I almost won the jackpot!"

      Fargon chuckled. "Oh, come on, Meegla. Nobody ever wins that. Just let it go."

      "But we could've," she said, miserably. She turned and started to walk off. Fargon had to stay the extra ten seconds to grab her prize from the Wocky, and then run to catch up with her. It wasn't very fair; her legs were longer than his. He was having a lot of trouble with the snowdrifts, which were too high for his stocky legs to step over.

      "I'm a psychic failure," Meegla sighed. Despite this, she managed to quite expertly dodge the snow nearby Chias were throwing at each other. Fargon, on the other hand, got hit in the face and stomach.

      After brushing the snow off his winter clothes, Fargon called out, "But now our fund has 7,238 Neopoints in it! You more than doubled what we had before!" He picked up his pace, high-stepping through the snow to the best of his ability until he reached her side. He looked into the disappointed face of his alien friend. The cold was turning her green cheeks as red as the triangle emblazoned on her forehead.

      Fargon yanked off his woolen scarf and and threw it around her shoulders. "Don't give up, Captain! This is just a minor setback! In fact, you can hardly call it a setback, since we managed to earn a few Neopoints! We'll have our millions in no time." He playfully nudged her side. “Maybe we could drop by the Ice Caves, huh? Pay the Snowager a visit?”

      “No, that won’t be necessary. I’m not interested in making my fortune through theft,” Meegla sighed dramatically, reached up to adjust the woolen scarf. Despite herself, a smile seemed to tug at the corner of her mouth. "Although I do suppose you’re right in one respect… we do still have other options. Let's return to home base, and prepare for our next mission."

      "Captain?"

      Meegla's face split into a determined grin. "First Mate. What do you know about Coltzan's Shrine?"

      Several hours of traveling and bickering later, the pair came to be sitting in the Lost Desert. Together, they sat up against a massive boulder, twisting around every so often to look out from behind it, to where Coltzan's Shrine stood in the distance. The stream of visitors had long since trickled down to a full stop; the shrine stood alone against the technicolor sunset which bathed the sands of the Lost Desert in a myriad of colors.

      "I just don't see the point," Fargon sighed. "Everybody knows that rumor isn't true."

      "It is so!" Meegla snapped. "I read about it in the Neopian Times, so it has to be true!"

      But Fargon wasn't convinced. "Klaxa says she tried it. She says Coltzan's ghost just gave her a level up and then disappeared into the night."

      "Trying it just once doesn’t prove anything," Meegla huffed. She crossed her white-suited arms. "You see, I think that if you go to the shrine at midnight, you will win a million Neopoints. But here's the catch: you have to get the timing perfect."

      Fargon looked at her wearily. "So you think that in the years and years and years since the shrine has been built, with the thousands of Neopians who visit it every day, that nobody has ever gotten the timing right?"

      "Not the kind of people who flaunt the news, at least," Meegla huffed. "Think about it: if we do this successfully, are you really going to go around telling people? If you do that then you inspire everybody to perfect their timing, so everybody gets a million Neopoints a night. And then what happens? The entire economy collapses!"

      "But the economy is already..."

      "I don't want to hear another word," Meegla interrupted, literally stuffing her paw over Fargon's mouth. "We're going to give this a try, and that's final!"

      Meegla pulled her paw away. "Okay..." Fargon muttered. To be fair, Meegla’s weird psychic plan for today really had paid off, even if they didn't win the amount of Neopoints she'd expected. Shouldn’t Fargon trust her on this plan, too?

      They began to wait. Fargon read some Booktastic Books to pass the time. Next to him, Meegla squirmed. She was constantly throwing glances around the side of the boulder, as if to make sure the shrine was still there. The sky grew a deep violet, and then grey, the jewel-like colors on the sands yielding to shadows, which grew longer, and longer, before swallowing anything and everything. Meegla turned on the lanterns they had brought. Very far away, the city of Sakhmet, and even farther away, the stars and the moon, added the littlest bit of guiding light to their late night adventure.

      Meegla chewed her nails. She needed something to distract her, but she wasn't a bookworm like Fargon. She'd brought her Elegant Ray Gun to tinker with - one of the extrapolators had gotten loose, and the pump could use some oil - but after fixing the thing three times over, she was left with nothing to do but wait. So she set the ray gun aside, and let herself ruminate.

      One million Neopoints. Imagine what you could do with all those Neopoints! She could buy so many smoothies. She could splurge on the most expensive neggs. She could make an igloo out of Brucicles! But that wasn't what she wanted the Neopoints for. She and Fargon were saving up. They were going to pool their funds and bid this dumb blue and green rock called Neopia goodbye.

      Meegla tilted her head back and stared up at her destination. Or, well. Wherever her destination might be. It could be anywhere! The stars sparkled as she gazed at them, seeming to urge her on.

      Forget Virtupets. Forget Kreludor! Meegla had higher ambitions. The one million Neopoints she was sure to win tonight were just one step on the ladder to the stars.

      Eventually, Meegla was pulled out of her reveries by a tap on the shoulder. Fargon pointed to his watch. "It's almost time," he told her.

      Meegla was immediately on her feet and rounding the side of the boulder. Fargon started to call out to her, their things - books, bags, ray gun, the rest of their Neopoints - strewn all about. But time was running out, and no one was around, so it wouldn't hurt to leave their things here and follow her, right?

      The pair inched closer to the shrine, careful not to get too close. They stared down Fargon's watch with bated breath. Meegla had to get her timing right. She couldn't start running at midnight, but she couldn't start too early, either.

      At 3 seconds to midnight, Meegla sprinted towards the shrine, screaming, "King Coltzan! I demand you give me your Neopoints!"

      The shrine glowed an ethereal blue. Meegla came jogging to a stop at its base, and gazed up at its shining glory. From its summit, a shimmering, nebulous form rose, its details becoming clearer and clearer as it grew in size.

      At last, Coltzan's smiling face was gazing down upon them. A cold breeze swept through the desert, and suddenly Meegla's pockets felt heavier than before. She plunged her paw into them, counting the coins. Meanwhile, Coltzan smiled radiantly down upon her as he waited for her gratitude.

      "What in Neopia is this!?" Meegla cried. She threw the Neopoints down, only for Fargon to pounce on them before the winds could hide them in the sand.

      "I beg your pardon?" asked Coltzan's ghost.

      "812 measly Neopoints!" Meegla yelled. "How am I supposed to build a spaceship with Chia change like this?!"

      Fargon was frantically stuffing said 812 Neopoints and the many handfuls of sand that came with them into his pockets. "Don't listen to her," he said, smiling nervously up at the ghostly king. "She doesn't mean it. We're very grateful, really."

      "Don't put words in my mouth," Meegla huffed. She pointed accusingly at Coltzan. "I want a million Neopoints!"

      "You already got your prize for the night," the ghost scoffed. "Come back some other time."

      Before Meegla could open her mouth and launch another argument, there was a brilliant flash of light. She and Fargon threw their arms over their eyes to prevent themselves from being blinded. When the darkness came rushing back, they uncovered their eyes and saw the shrine standing where it always had, dark and inert. Coltzan’s ghost was nowhere to be found.

      "I can't believe that guy," Meegla complained, storming over the sand. "Try again later! What is he, a magic eight ball?"

      Fargon was once again jogging to keep up with her, brushing the scenery off his clothes. Ugh. He'd be coated in sand for weeks... "I told you the million was just a rumor."

      "Maybe it was my timing," Meegla thought out loud, ignoring him. "We'll have to try again tomorrow like he said. Why do you suppose he said that, hm?"

      "Because you're not supposed to visit the shrine twice in a row?" Fargon guessed.

      "Because he was trying to tell us that the million is real," Meegla corrected him. "He's telling us to try again because we were close. Next time, we just have to figure his ghostly appearance into the calculations. I'd say it took six full seconds for his ghost to manifest. Adding that to the time it takes to..."

      She trailed off when they reached the boulder. There, they stopped. Stared.

      "Fargon."

      He swallowed. "Y-yes, Captain?"

      Meegla's expression was terrifyingly blank. "Did you by any chance shrink our things up very, very small, and stuff them into your pockets?"

      "Uh, no, Captain."

      "Then where is everything?!" Meegla stomped around the empty area, footsteps growing heavier, kicking up huge mounds of sand, as if doing so would cause their items to rematerialize.

      Fargon began to babble. "We were totally alone, and you said we had to get to the shrine exactly at midnight, so I figured we didn't have time to clean up and could just leave everything..."

      He yelped as Meegla grabbed him by the lapels of his shirt and shook. "You mean to tell me," she raged, "that you left our items alone, out in the open, mere miles outside of the thievery capital of Neopia?!"

      Fargon swallowed. "A-actually, I'm not sure Sakhmet is really the thievery capital, I mean, the Thieves Guild has a base in Terror Mountain, um, I think-"

      "And the Desert Scarabs operate out of Sakhmet!" Meegla sent him tumbling to the sands. As Fargon rubbed his aching back, Meegla twisted and turned where she stood, searching the flat landscape for signs of the thieves. "Great," she muttered. "All of our Neopoints are gone."

      Fargon couldn't help but remember how little she’d appreciated them before they’d been stolen. Still, it was important to stay positive. "We're not totally poor!” he insisted. “We still have the Neopoints from Coltzan!"

      Fargon showed Meegla a sand-covered Neopoint. She curled her lip. "I suppose it'll pay for the ship ride home."

      Ears drooping, Fargon put the Neopoints back into his pockets.

      To be continued…

 
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