Meegla and Fargon's Not-So-Intergalactic Adventures: Part Seven
It was cold. Not as terribly cold as the storm outside, but cold nonetheless. Someone had taken his parka, leaving him shivering within the cold metal bars of his cell. Lighted torches lined the wall, illuminating a dungeon clearly carved out of the depths of a mountain. Terror Mountain, most likely, but not the Terror Mountain the tourists knew. Fargon had no idea where this dungeon was relative to the rest of the world, though; he could be high up, on a mountain's peak, or he could be deep underground, like the land of Moltara.
He sniffled, both with cold and sadness. He was hopeless. This was the second time today that he'd been imprisoned somewhere, but this time felt more frightening, somehow. His captors were not just a gang of poor young neopets. In fact, Fargon hadn't seen anyone at all yet. All he remembered was a blow to the head, and then he had woken up here, scared and alone.
Scrubbing his eyes to push back the tears, Fargon lamented his fight with Meegla. Suppose she never found him. Suppose she never wanted to find him. She'd go the rest of her life without knowing how sorry he was. The Grundo wanted nothing more than to be hanging out with his captain, cooking up some plan to earn millions at the Poogle Races, or running from giant Chombies in Tyrannia, or even just mediating between her and Klaxa's bickering back at their neohome.
There was the sound of a heavy, metal door opening and closing, then footsteps coming down the long staircase at the entrance of the dungeon. Fargon hurriedly wiped his eyes with his scarf, and then scuttled back against the wall of his cell. Terrified, he clenched his fists and held them up: as much as he wanted her there, Meegla couldn't protect him right now, so he had to look out for himself as best as he could.
Two neopets approached. One was a tall, cloaked Gelert, judging by the long ears sprouting from holes atop his hood. The hood casted his discerning facial features in shadow. The other pet had light blue fur, a thick winter coat, and a silver braid thrown over one of her shoulders. It was the Bori from earlier, in Happy Valley! Fargon’s head throbbed with a sudden surge of memory: these two were the ones who had knocked him out and kidnapped him!
The Bori gave Fargon a nasty smile when she spotted his raised fists. "You're willing to fight back? Against us? How foolish," she cackled. The Gelert at her side said nothing.
"Wh-who even are you people?" Fargon asked, trying to sound his bravest.
The Bori puffed up with pride, claws on her hips. "We're members of the Thieves Guild, of course!"
Fargon couldn't keep up his tough act; his jaw dropped. "What?! What could you guys possibly want with somebody like me?!"
The Bori rolled her eyes at him. "Don't act like you don't know!" But after a moment or two studying his face, she realized he didn't. "You mean you don't have any allies who, by association, might make you an enemy of our guild...?"
Fargon looked defeated. "Oh, drat. This is about our friendship with the Desert Scarabs, isn't it?"
The Bori was about to point out that the Thieves Guild and the Desert Scarabs were not really enemies, but the Gelert beside her spoke before she could. "Yes. And if you tell us all you can about that organization and its allies, we will let you go free."
Fargon's ears drooped. "I couldn't ever betray my friends."
The Bori glared at him. "Really? And what about that display earlier? It doesn't seem like you hold your friends in very high regard."
Fargon blushed in shame at the memory of his fight with Meegla. "But that... That wasn't..."
"At least you won't have any trouble telling us about Meegla, right?" the Bori continued. "After all, your friendship just ended. She’ll never want you back; you were so hard on her..."
Fargon stared miserably at his feet. "I know I was. But she doesn't have anything to do with this. I won't betray Meegla or the Desert Scarabs!" He met his captors' eyes with a glare. "S-so, lock me up for life if you have to!"
The Bori turned to the Gelert for guidance, but he only turned and walked away. She scurried after him. "We'll be back," the Gelert called. They disappeared into the shadows, their exit soon emphasized by the thunderous sound of a closing door.
Meegla’s long separation from the Thieves Guild meant that her plans for infiltrating their lair were imperfect; she told the Desert Scarabs so herself. She tried her best to show the Scarabs routes they could take to avoid being caught, but the primary reason she was bringing them along was to serve as back-up: to get out of there alive, they would all probably need to fight.
When Meegla was done explaining her plan, Heqet shook his head. “We’re not used to battle. The Desert Scarabs are not a violent organization.”
“But you can’t be completely useless,” Meegla insisted. “We can buy you whatever weapons you think will compensate for your lack of experience. I can guide you through the cheapest options, if you need.”
“You misunderstand,” the Ruki said. He and Meegla were sitting across from each other on the sandy floor, while the rest of the Scrabs hovered around them. “I’m not refusing to help you. I’m just letting you know that we’re inexperienced when it comes to fighting.”
“But we’ll definitely give it our all,” Qival declared, flexing his puny arm.
The group seemed excited at the prospect of adventure. Despite her misgivings about the risks, Meegla found herself smiling at them in gratitude. She barely knew these people, and yet they were willing to help her infiltrate the Thieves Guild and save Fargon. What drove them to such genuine loyalty? How could they have turned out so kind, so altruistic, when they were exiled to the poorest and roughest neighborhoods of Sakhmet?
“You won’t have to fight ruthlessly,” Meegla reassured them. “We’re not charging the place head-on. I’ve chosen these routes for infiltrating the headquarters because they utilize your abilities as thieves. Hence, we’ll be facing air vents, dark corners with one or two armed guards, long hallways criss-crossed with intruder-sensing lasers…”
One of the Scarabs, a brown Kougra girl, scowled. “But why would the Thieves Guild protect their headquarters with the same measures meant to deter thieves?”
Meegla grinned. “Because they’re intelligent thieves, of course, who want to protect their massive treasures from any rivals who might try to break in.”
Meegla watched as the eyes of the Desert Scarabs grew round with the thought of all those valuable items. Red codestones as far as the eyes could see… Super Attack Peas piled as high as mountains… The floors like giant Easter baskets filled with Draik eggs…
“Hey,” Meegla warned, smelling their greed, “don’t get ahead of yourselves! We’re going in to break Fargon out and nothing more. If any of you risk your life for some impossible fortune, I’m leaving you behind. It’s not possible for a bunch of amateurs like you guys to rob those as prestigious as the Thieves Guild. Understand?”
The Scarabs grumbled their assent. Her face illuminated by the fires of her torch, Nadine stepped forward to where the Alien Aisha leaned on the sands, careful not to disrupt her diagram of the Thieves Guild headquarters. “What about you, Meegla?” she asked. “Could you rob the most powerful group of thieves in Neopia blind?”
Meegla scoffed. “Of course not.” She gestured to her drawings in the sand. “I’d need a much more up-to-date knowledge of the building than this.”
While her colleagues ooed and awed at Meegla’s boast, Nadine rolled her eyes. “I’m so sure,” she scoffed. To her annoyance, Meegla only winked at her.
“Alright!” The Alien Aisha clapped her paws together. “Grab your daggers: we’re about to embark on an operation the likes of which you low level thieves have only dreamed.”
“You’re a liar and I’m not listening to anything else you have to say!”
The Bori thief called Taiy blushed with anger. “Now you-”
“SHOOP A BOP A BEE BOP DOO WOP!” Fargon grabbed his ears and held them down, raucously singing his favorite Jazzmosis tune to drown the Bori’s toxic words out of his head. “SHEE BABBEDY DOO WOP DO…”
Taiy screamed in frustration, turning her back on the Grundo’s cell while she cooled off. Argh! Why was she the one stuck on babysitting duty? She had no idea how to get a guy like this to talk! Fargon told her himself that he didn’t think Meegla was ever going to forgive him, and yet he still refused to relinquish any of Meegla’s incriminating secrets to the Thieves Guild!
Taiy crossed her arms grumpily as the Grundo continued to sing behind her. She’d joined the guild a little over two years ago, and could only vaguely remember Meegla. Taiy had caught a glimpse of the famed Terror Mountain Heist Master only once, when she had first joined. They’d been going in completely opposite directions; Taiy with her mentor towards the North Wing, Meegla with Kanrik towards the South Wing. Meegla had had the serious expression, powerful air, and flamboyant onyx robes of all high-ranking members in the organization. Yet beneath her calm exterior, there must have been doubts brewing: she disappeared from the guild a few months after Taiy saw her for both the first and last time. Oddly enough, Meegla didn’t take a single piece of treasure with her when she left. She’d had access to all of the vaults, too.
Taiy hadn’t recognized Meegla on the day she’d seen her arguing with Fargon. Most of the Thieves Guild members had given up their search for her ages ago, having no idea what species or color she was now. But when Taiy heard Fargon scream Meegla’s name, and Taiy had seen the hardened expression on that Alien Aisha’s face, she had somehow just known. And while Taiy wasn’t brave enough to chase Meegla down herself, she knew she had to do something, and so she quickly contacted the Thieves Guild members nearest to her while Fargon sulked on a bench.
Now Taiy was standing in a dank dungeon deep inside an arctic mountain, a split Grundo loudly and badly singing jazz behind her, her colleagues out in Neopia completing real and important assignments. Taiy thought that bringing in a lead on Meegla would make her seem impressive to everyone else, but here she was, stuck on interrogation duty, while the others took care of the important details.
Frustrated, Taiy stormed up the stairs and out of the dungeon, Fargon’s horrible singing disappearing behind the soundproof door.
The Bori stalked through the headquarters, dodging guild members armed heavily with daggers, swords, and sticky hands. All anyone seemed to care about anymore was fighting! Fighting in the Obelisk War, fighting to find Meegla, fighting, fighting, and barely any thievery! Shooting glares wherever she stormed, Taiy wondered when the organization would get back to its roots. Who cared about the unobtainable treasures of the Obelisk? There were other treasures to be found in Neopia! What about a heist? A big heist was what this guild needed to get back into shape!
Taiy navigated the twisting hallways carved out of the stone of the mountain, headed for their leader’s office. She hoped she’d find him there; he was often out and about, especially at battle.
When she knocked, a low, disgruntled voice invited her inside. Behind a wooden table sat a dark blue Gelert with a hood pulled halfheartedly over his eyes. He was rubbing his face, obscuring his jagged scar from view.
“Is it an okay time?” Taiy asked, claws still gripping the door.
He gestured for her to enter, and so she did, shutting the door behind her. As she approached the table where he sat, he stopped rubbing his face, and sat up straight, alert, ready to hear what she had to report.
Given how busy he was, Taiy figured she should clarify what she was here for first. “Kanrik, sir… this is about our prisoner. Fargon the Grundo?”
Kanrik nodded. “Of course. That assignment is very important to me. Have you any news?”
“Fargon refuses to talk,” Taiy told him. “He won’t say where where Meegla might be or where she is currently living.”
Hands folded, Kanrik seemed to brood. “Do you suppose she’ll come to us, if we tell her we have him?”
“I’m not sure,” Taiy confessed. “They seemed pretty mad at each other. I mean, you never know, but…”
Taiy was interrupted when Kanrik swung his chair around so that its back was facing her. She couldn’t see his face, but she could tell from his voice that he was upset. “No,” he said, tone acidic, “nevermind my suggestion - she won’t come for him. I know how she is.”
He went a long time without speaking. Taiy clicked her claws together, shuffled her feet. “Um. Sir…?”
“Just keep interrogating him,” Kanrik ordered. He didn’t turn back around. “If he doesn’t break down for you, then I will handle him.”
Despite her lifetime spent in the Terror Mountain cold, Taiy felt a chill unlike any other run down her spine. “O-okay, sir.” She left without another word, his mysterious gaze still facing the wall.
To be continued…