AAA and Abigails Astounding Race
AAA drummed his fingers on his desk. Bored! He was so bored. Impatiently, he looked at his calendar, counting the days left until Daily Dare started. Thankfully it would be coming relatively soon, and he knew he would again emerge victorious. AAA enjoyed Daily Dare, mostly because it gave him the chance to show off. He enjoyed when he was given hosting duties, but really, there was nothing he enjoyed more than showing off.
There must be something he could do while he waited for Daily Dare to begin… Some new challenge, some aspect of gaming he had not yet mastered. He got up from his desk and walked over to his trophy cabinet. So many gold trophies, proclaiming that he was the CHAMPION!!! He knew he had more trophies than any other Neopian, but still, even after all his wins, he felt that he needed to add a new notch to his belt.
Putting on a light jacket, he left the house for the short stroll to the Games Room. He went every day, naturally, and he knew every nook and corner of it. But maybe, just maybe, he would find something new today, if he looked hard enough. Walking briskly past the puzzles, action games, and card games, all being played by hordes of raucous Neopets, he made his way to the back of the Games Room, to a door marked, “Employees Only”. Now, AAA wasn’t an employee, but that didn’t matter to him. After all, he was an exception to all the rules.
He opened the door, and walked quickly down a shadowy corridor lined with closed office doors. There weren’t many people here this time of evening. At the end of the corridor was a large steel door, which AAA pushed open. This room was brightly lit. It appeared to be some sort of workshop. Off to one side of the room, his arms crossed, King Roo stood talking to a Neopet lying mostly hidden under what looked like some sort of vehicle. AAA approached in time to hear the hidden Neopet yell out in pain. From the back legs sticking out under the machine, he assumed the mechanic was a Bori. King Roo said, “Are you ok? I told you that you needed to be more careful with that wrench,” and then looked up at AAA.
“You’re not supposed to be in here, are you? Although I must admit I’m not really surprised to see you. I figured you’d wander back here sooner or later.” King Roo smiled.
AAA looked at the blue vehicle, which had a nearly identical pink one beside it. Knowing King Roo, these must be part of some sort of new game. “So what are you working on?” asked AAA.
King Roo laughed. “How did I know you’d ask that? As I’m sure you’ve guessed, they’re for a new racing game that I’ve designed. It will need testing, of course, before it’s released to the public…” He looked at AAA, his eyes twinkling.
Yes! AAA had found just what he was looking for – a chance to prove himself the Games Master yet again! A racing game would be the perfect way to do just that. The mechanic, looking quite grumpy, pushed himself out from under the racer and scowled at AAA. “You gotta be careful with these things, alright? They ain’t cheap. An’ I don’t wanna have t’do a lotta fixin’ on ‘em, ‘cause they ain’t simple to fix, neither. Got it?” AAA nodded, eyebrows raised. He was sure he didn’t want to get on this mechanic’s bad side, he thought, eyeing the large wrench the Bori still held.
King Roo smiled. “Don’t mind him,” he said. “He just doesn’t want his hard work ruined. I’m sure you can understand. So, what do you say? Will you be my tester?”
“Absolutely,” said AAA. “I’m completely confident that I’ll be able to handle one of these expertly. But… not the pink one, of course. Who will be driving that?”
King Roo spoke deliberately. “You’re not going to like what I have to say. But -- in exchange for the privilege of being the first to try the new vehicles, I want you to let your sister be your racing partner.”
AAA was furious. “WHAT?!? No way. No. She’ll ruin everything! She’s not even any good! She won’t be any competition. And talk about keeping the racers in good shape – she’ll probably crash hers!”
A half-smile flickered on King Roo’s face for an instant. He had expected this reaction. “I’m sure she’ll be careful,” he said. “And I know she may not be the stiffest competition, but I think it’s only fair. She’s often told me that she wished she could be a Faerie Racer. Honestly, that’s how I got this idea in the first place.”
AAA turned away. “No. I’m firm on that! If you want me, you can’t use her.”
“Look at it this way, AAA. If you don’t let her race, I don’t let you race. Let’s remember whose game this is.”
AAA scowled at the floor for a moment, then nodded. “All right,” he said grudgingly. “I’ll tell her.”
AAA was so preoccupied with his irritation that he did not even notice the rain that started to fall as he walked home. By the time he arrived, puddles were starting to form around his house. Stamping his feet on the doormat, he stepped inside. Immediately, his sister Abigail greeted him enthusiastically.
“AAA! You’re home! Look what I found today – flowers! Some pink ones, and some blue ones. What do you think? Aren’t they pretty?”
Pink and blue… the colors of the racers. Which he would have to share with his annoying little sister, who would ruin the competition, because, well, she wouldn’t really be any competition at all. “Yeah, whatever,” he said, waving her away.
“I knew you’d like them!” she exclaimed.
AAA moodily stumped off into his room, remaining there until dinner. Even then, he only came out because his mother insisted. He didn’t speak throughout the entire meal, and finally his mother asked him if something was wrong. Staring at his plate, he told his family what he had found out from King Roo.
“Honey, that’s wonderful!” said his mother. “You and your sister will have so much fun!”
His father agreed. “That’s great, son,” he said.
AAA scowled. At first he had thought it would be great, but now Abigail was going to ruin it for him, as usual.
Abigail was ecstatic. “Wow! I can’t believe it! Wow! I told King Roo I wished I could be a Faerie Racer! This is almost the same thing! I bet he got the idea from me.” She beamed.
Considering the good news, AAA’s mother thought AAA’s sour mood was very odd. “Is there something the matter, Aristotle?” she asked.
AAA knew that he would get in trouble if he told her, so he just shook his head and remained silent.
The next day, AAA went back to the Games Room to report to King Roo that his sister would be racing with him, and to ask when the racers would be ready. The king said it would be a few more days. AAA returned home to wait, and the days passed slowly for him. Abigail was quite excited, but AAA hardly noticed.
When the morning of their test drive finally came, they got up early and headed to the workshop in the back of the Games Room. But when they arrived, there was no one else in the room, and no racers. After a few minutes of waiting, AAA started to get nervous. Had they come on the wrong day?
As soon as the thought entered his mind, a large door started to open in the back of the room, sending a blinding shaft of sunlight into AAA’s eyes. He squinted, and as he shaded them, he could just make out the figures of King Roo and the mechanic driving the racers into the room. AAA would have expected the noise from their engines to be deafening, but the vehicles were remarkably quiet.
After parking the racers, the two pets stepped out. “Hello there!” King Roo greeted them. “Glad to see you made it. I was a little worried you’d decide you didn’t want to get up so early!”
AAA shook his head. “Of course not. I wouldn’t miss this chance.”
“Me, either!” chimed in Abigail.
“Good, good,” said the king, smiling. “Let’s get started. First of all, you may have noticed how quiet these vehicles are. That’s part of the design – makes it easier for you to sneak up on your opponent! Now for the rules of the game… First of all, you must not deliberately crash into your opponent's vehicle, or anything else, for that matter. Secondly, along the track you will find boxes that have blue question marks on them. If you hit one, that’s good! It will give you a power-up to use on your opponent. However, the boxes marked with red exclamation points are bad – they’ll harm you, so try not to hit them. Ok?”
AAA and Abigail nodded, and King Roo went over to a wall and pulled down a scrolled map of Neopia. Four of the lands were marked with an “X”: Mystery Island, Faerieland, Moltara, and Maraqua. “Now for the surprise!” he exclaimed. These are the four lands you’ll be racing through. Notice anything?”
To be continued…