"Hey, you're cool."
The blue Wocky whirled, wrench in hand, but
saw nothing except the usual--pipes, sewer lines, and the like. Muck everywhere,
of course. But that was part of being the repairman for Neopia Central's sewage
"Down here," the voice said helpfully.
Matt's gaze dropped down--and then down again.
A tiny blue Kacheek stood in the muck; the sludge that covered half of Matt's
boots came to the Kacheek's knees.
"What do you want, kid?" he asked, turning back
to the pipe he was fixing now that he'd ascertained there wasn't any danger
of being attacked. Then again, there hadn't been much danger before. There wasn't
much that lived in the sewers. Oh, there were rumors of huge Krawks that slid
through the muck like so many Cobralls, but those were just rubbish.
"I want to work with you!" the Kacheek said
happily, squelching through the mud to stare up at Matt.
The Wocky gave a sigh. "Look, kid, if I could,
I would. But I can't, so I won't." He tightened a connector.
"Why can't you?"
"Because you'd need permission from the head
honcho. The big cheese." A shrug lifted Matt's shoulders. "And you don't have
"Yes, I do!" The Kacheek climbed unsteadily
up onto the pipe Matt was working on, slipping in the slime that covered it.
He leaned over. "Look," he said, holding out a folded piece of paper.
Matt twisted the wrench one last time and reluctantly
took it. He unfolded it to read it. It'd gotten wet sometime, and muddy, and
the light in the sewers wasn't that great to begin with; but it seemed to have
all the proper signatures on it. "All right, then, kid."
"My name's not 'kid'," the Kacheek said.
"Okay. What's your name."
"My name's Stan," he said happily. "Like the
"Is it, now." Matt flipped his wrench into the
air, then caught it. "Well, then, Stan, let's go get you some boots."
Ten minutes later the two left the supply room;
Stan was newly outfitted in black boots that were at least a size too big for
the Kacheek and was toting a wrench half as tall as he was. The Kacheek had
also donned a pair of overalls similar to the ones Matt wore.
Despite Stan's overlarge boots and small size,
he managed to keep up with Matt as the Wocky ran lightly through the tunnels.
"Why are we running?" the Kacheek asked.
"One of the pipes is leaking, kid." The Wocky
skidded to a halt; another tunnel crossed the one they were in. "This one, dude!"
He dashed down the left-hand tunnel and quickly disappeared into darkness; lights
flickered into being after a moment, their dim light reflecting dully off the
surface of the muck.
The Kacheek stopped too, but not to see which
tunnel. He panted for breath, bent over; then he straightened and swung his
new wrench up onto his shoulder to run down the tunnel after Matt.
By the time Stan arrived, Matt had already fixed
the faulty pipeline. "Sorry, kid. Couldn't wait to give a demonstration," the
Wocky said. "Here. There's another leak not too far from here. I've been putting
it off, since it's a slow leak, but we can go fix that one if you'd like."
Stan's eyes shone. "Yes!"
"Okay. Now tighten it--slowly--slowly," Matt
instructed. He was leaning against a tunnel wall, watching Stan heave on the
wrench. "Good." The Wocky strode over and placed his own wrench on the connector
to tighten it the last little bit. "Okay, kid. Let's go."
"Where to?" the Kacheek asked, running after
"An emergency." The Wocky sped up, splashing
slime and muck everywhere. Stan panted for breath, but managed to keep running
after his hero, through tunnels of deep sludge and ones that were nearly dry.
The deep sludge became more common as the two approached the leak, and Stan
had to scramble up onto the walkways that lined the tunnels to keep relatively
dry and clean.
Matt reached the tunnel first; with a quick
look, he assessed the situation. It was bad. Very bad. The pipe was nearly bursting,
in fact. The Wocky turned and ran for the main tunnel, where Stan was. The two
met halfway; Matt's eyes flickered around the tunnel, searching for the boards
he put there for emergencies such as this. He remembered then that he'd only
put them in the main tunnels.
"C'mon," he gasped, and pelted down the walkway.
The metal clanged under his paws and echoed back at Stan, who stood still, perplexed.
A roaring filled the tunnel, and the Kacheek
turned. His eyes went wide, and he gaped at the huge wave of sewage that was
rolling towards him. Stan turned back. "Matt!" he yelled, and started to run.
The Wocky, by this point, had reached the main
tunnel and found the oval-shaped board he kept for such emergencies. He poked
his head into the side tunnel Stan was in, but the Kacheek was too close to
the wave for rescuing now. "Ride it out!" he shouted, and prepared for his own
"What?" Stan yelled, and then the wave took
him. He gasped for air, then went under; a moment later the Kacheek's head popped
Matt had jumped onto his surfboard; he was riding
the wave just a little ahead of Stan. "Matt!" the Kacheek gasped.
The Wocky glanced back. "Stan!" He took a quick
glance at the approaching tunnels, then twisted back, holding out a paw to the
Stan paddled forward and managed to grab it.
Matt pulled him in quickly, and the Kacheek scrambled up onto the surfboard.
"So this is why they call you the Sewage Surfer,"
Stan called above the roar of the wave. His weight unbalanced the board, but
the Wocky compensated for that and they sped forward once again.
"Yep!" Matt called back, laughing, and, by leaning
to the side, steered them down a side tunnel. Here the wave wasn't so fierce,
but they still slid down the tunnel at some speed. Slowly, they stopped; the
muck here was average. "Exciting, kid?" he asked.
"The name's Stan," Stan said fiercely, climbing
off the surfboard. He still clutched his wrench, Matt was amused to see. The
Wocky had tucked his own into his belt before the wave hit.
"Right." Matt paused, and flipped the board
up under his arm to carry back to the main tunnel. "I liked the way you handled
yourself, Stan. I think I may have to give you a full apprenticeship."
"Really?" The Kacheek's eyes shone. "You'd do
"If you don't mind more catastrophes like that,"
Matt said, laughing. He pointed back at the larger tunnel, where the wave was
beginning to settle.
"I don't mind!" Stan said.
"I didn't think you would." Matt paused. "Well,
there's a leak on pipe 4A," he said after a moment. "Let's go fix that, shall
"Okay," the Kacheek said with a happy grin.
"How do you know this stuff?"
"Trade secret." The Wocky grinned. "If you're
good enough at this business, I might tell you."
"Okay." Stan paused. "Do we get to surf there?"
Matt laughed. "No, I'm afraid we have to walk."
"Aww." But Stan smiled. "Okay."