The Card House Falls: Part Two
"Where is she?!" murmured Black Jack, more than a little
worried despite himself. "It's been nearly three hours!"
Then the lights in the Card House all abruptly
flared on and the suave brown Wocky had to focus on not stumbling backwards
as he gave his sensitive eyes a chance to adapt. He slunk further into the dark
alley, sincerely hoping his dark suit and brown fur helped him blend in.
"Where are you, ya stinkin' Wocky?! Come out,
come out, wherever you are!" shouted an irate female voice.
A tiny bead of sweat appeared on the club owner's
brow and he glanced at the now shabby piece of paper still in his paw. "Looks
like it's time to disappear for backup," he silently whispered to himself.
"Uhh…" groaned Detective Khargana, sitting up
and rubbing her head. "Man, I hate lightning guns…" It would have been pitch
black to most Neopets, but as a Wocky she could thus see in almost any shade
of dark. She was in a large, stone room with no windows. It had a narrow wooden
staircase that led up to a large metal door with a small glass pane in its center-undoubtedly
"Oh? That what it were?" asked a huge red Kougra
next to her. "Ya okay, Queenie? Ya had me worried when that yellow bum-head
dumped ya in here."
"I'll be fine, thanks big-boyo. How'd they get
you, 10C? Cards your size don't tend ta fold so easy."
"Not sure, same as you I s'pect. I don't remember
a fight or nothing, just a zap travelin' down me spine as I served a pretty
little Aisha an Oyster-ita."
"Was this Aisha Desert? And did she have a large,
really slow macho Yellow Scorchio with her?" asked the green Wocky, her eyes
slanting in irritation. She angrily straightened her black hat's brim and yanked
on her coat.
"Yah, an'-oh! They's who done us in, ehh?" The
10 of Clubs smiled inwardly at his friend. He'd had his suspicions about her
'real life' outside of the club, but with those questions he was pretty sure
he had the right answer-not that he dared reveal to her those ideas.
"You betcha, 10C. First order of business, got
anything good in here? As I'm guessin' we're in the cellars, check?"
"Yep, one of the cold cellars where we store
the hard drinks. But I think I could dig up one a your 'specials'."
The Queen of Spades, aka Khargana the Wocky Detective,
smiled. "Could ya? Meanwhile, I'm gonna try sort the facts and create a plan
of action for us." She closed her eyes and massaged her temples.
The huge red Kougra walked over to a corner and
started sorting through the crates and boxes. As he did, a tiny green Quiggle,
another of the prisoners, piped up. "Mr. Clubs? Is that really the Queen of
10C had dug out a tall champagne glass and was
carefully measuring a dark liquid into it. "Ya betcha little heart it is. An'
she'll get us outta here, don'cha worry." Then he splashed a thick, sweet smelling
liquid into the nearly brimming glass and stirred with a long chopstick. Professionally
balancing the drink in one paw, he rubbed the youngster's head as he moved past.
"What is that?" asked the little guy curiously.
"Cherry Neocola. Don't tell her I told ya." With
that, 10C took the drink back over to the green Wocky in black.
"I, uh, guess this is the place," whispered Black
Jack, staring up at the large, homely looking Neohome. It was all of brick with
Meridell-style white trimming and huge windows. He checked the address of the
house, then that on the paper once more, and walked over the grass up to the
The large, wooden door opened before he had even
knocked. "Mr. Black Jack." The brown Wocky's eyes widened in surprise before
he quickly regained control.
"Chief Kerowski?" he said, the question popping
into his voice on accident as he looked up at the huge starry Lupe police chief.
The mammoth policeman was easily as large as his head bartender/bouncer, the
10 of Clubs.
"Of course. What are you doing here?" Naturally,
the Lupe's voice was everything but warm and welcoming. It was late, and he
was being interrupted at home by a club owner he didn't particularly care for.
"I am so gonna get that Khargana for this…" groaned
Black Jack softly to himself.
"Heard that," barked Kerowski. "What does Private
Investigator Khargana have to do with our current situation?" Then he added,
mumbling, "and she better not have done anything illegal this time."
"I'm sure I can explain things to your satisfaction.
May I come in? Frankly, I don't care to discuss important matters in the streets,
no matter what the neighborhood." Actually, he didn't really want to enter the
chief's home, he just wanted a minute to collect his thoughts before being cross-examined
by the one NCA officer all gangsters respected, and with good reason.
"Very well." But anyone could tell the Lupe was
not happy about any of this.
The Wocky dusted off his now not-so-immaculate
suit and entered. "I suppose my being here is our mutual friend's way of saying
we need each other for this mess. I'll describe someone to you and you tell
me if you know about her."
The starry Lupe nodded grudgingly, only half-willing
to share police information with a club owner.
"A very pretty and dainty desert Aisha, acts
like a queen and is undoubtedly a criminal bent on controlling all the gangs
in the world. She hangs out with a large, fairly stupid yellow Scorchio."
Kerowski's eyes immediately went from bored and
impatient to interested and very nearly eager. "Yes. That's 'Sahara Princess'.
The Scorchio is her main henchman, Yellow Flare."
"Now that we know who were dealing with, let's
make a plan," declared Black Jack, his eyes slanting in anger at the annoying
brat of an Aisha.
"You know I couldn't care less how this works
out for you, but I've been looking for Sahara Princess for years now. Let's
get to it."
There was no way out of the dark cellar. Khargana
had been down there before, and presently looking around, she could tell the
avenue of escape was hopeless and impossible. Black Jack was reliable, and Chief
Kerowski was undoubtedly the best officer in the NCA (Neopia Central Authorities,
renamed from "the Chia Police" since other Neopets besides Chias joined). They
were both good friends of hers, though undoubtedly opposite, and she had no
doubt they were the only end solution to the problem. But what were they to
do until then? Could they protect the remaining loyal Card House employees and
members also trapped in the cellar? When would that wannabe princess Aisha make
her move? And it didn't help that every plan she could think of had at least
three downsides. But Khargana's motto is that there is always a solution.
"Okay, I think I got it," whispered Khargana,
sipping her Cherry Neocola. "I trust that Aisha brat a lot less then how far
I could throw her. I know her type; she'll come back here to talk to us soon.
She'd be stupid not to, and to pull off a trick like this she sure ain't stupid."
The 10 of Clubs rubbed his huge Red Kougra paws
together. "We jump 'em, eh Queenie?"
"No, first we listen. She'll undoubtedly bring
backup, and likely even have a weapon herself. We can't afford any losses."
She glanced toward the tiny Green Quiggle, and 10C understood completely. She
meant they couldn't risk damage to the others, even though they themselves could
He nodded, but added, "But we will fight, eh?"
Khargana, otherwise known as the Queen of Spades,
put down her empty glass, and rubbed her neck above the ruffle. "I think so.
I really hope so."
"That don't sound to good, Queenie. Ya did say
ya had a plan."
"I'm fairly sure she'll fight me, 10C, and she'll
cheat. She will cheat. She may have you fight that giant yellow creep-ola. It
only makes sense; we're the best fighters the Card House has. The 'bargain'
will probably be that we win, we get set free, but if we lose, we have to work
for her. She knows we'll honor our vows."
"Got us in a corner. So…?"
"We bargain right back, dear friend. We bargain,
and our deal is that we fight together or not at all."
10C laughed heartily. "C'mon, they ain't that
stupid! Even cheatin' they cain't beat us t'gether! No one can!"
"But they may think they can. We can at least
hold down the fort 'til B.J. gets back-keep that wannabe majesty in check. And
we can't fight down here either." Her brown eyes glanced over towards the little
Quiggle and other assorted bartenders, waitresses, minor card housers, and busboys.
The Red Kougra nodded. "We cain't risk it, you're
right 'bout that."
"Black Jack should return with backup, but I
don't know how long he'll be. My associates will help us out, but Black Jack
needs to get them here without them being spotted…"
"B.J.'ll do it."
"But I don't think we have time. We have to act
now, not later. If we can keep that princess so busy it's as good as a show
for her minions…"
The cellar door swung open.
"Queen of Spades, get yourself over here! Or
are ya still napping?" shouted down Yellow Flare.
"You call an' I answer, yellow-belly!" the Green
Wocky shouted back.
The Yellow Scorchio blushed red-it was obviously
an insult he'd heard a lot. Before he could charge ahead, Sahara Princess shoved
him aside. The beautiful Desert Aisha sashayed down the short staircase, stopping
short of 10C and Queenie.
"Don't try anything. I've got Yellow Flare up
there with at least 50 loyal to my side."
"Point well taken, madam," said Khargana sarcastically,
and bowed in a fake show of respect. More seriously, she continued, "We won't
try anything you wouldn't." She put on a phony smile, being sure to show plenty
of pointy feline teeth. She nodded to the huge Red Kougra at her side, who nodded
"I've got a bargain for you, Queen of Spades."
"And I, one for you. But, out of courtesy to
the upper-hand, you may go first."
The Aisha blinked in surprise. The Wocky was
not only talking much smoother and slicker, she seemed to have several options
up her jacket sleeves. Never mind, Sahara Princess was not one to be easily
outsmarted-and however clever this Queen of Spades was, she'd crumble. They
"Very well, my dear. I came to challenge you
to a game of forfeit."
"I believe I've heard of it before, but continue
anyways. You're on a roll." The Wocky rolled her eyes sarcastically and the
huge Kougra chuckled.
"You win, I forfeit my claim the Card House and
will release all you card-housers or whatever you call yourselves."
Better than I would've guessed, Khargana
thought to herself. "And, assuming I don't win?"
"You forfeit your freedom and join my ranks.
I'd enjoy a female commander, Malkus Vile himself must know how fed up I am
with this loser." She gestured at Yellow Flare, who pretended he hadn't heard,
but obviously wasn't pleased with this idea.
Khargana pretended to think about it, then gestured
at all the card-housers cooped up in the cellar. "And for everyone else, assuming
"For the most part," her eyes glanced over the
huge Red Kougra in the bartender apron, "I have no use for these others. I'm
assuming slavery would be worthy of them. Every gangster needs her lackeys."
The Green Wocky pulled off her black kau-boy
hat and slipped off the twisted silver band. "See this?" she said, her voice
barely more than a menacing whisper. "Black Jack gave it to me, long ago. I'd
only just been introduced to the Card House. We go way back, 10C here too. And
all these others." She gestured to everyone else in the cellar.
She slipped the band back on the hat, then tossed
it to the Quiggle, who caught it with a measure of awe in his eyes. She flipped
her mirror sunglasses off and met the Aisha's eyes dangerously. The princess
couldn't help but feel slightly quailed at the dangerous, slanted glare practically
shooting fire into her face. She seemed close to unstable, though a certain
10 of Clubs knew better.
"I'm granting you one option, or complete refusal
of your so-called compromise," she growled, fur bristling underneath the jacket,
up to her ruffle. "I fight you and your henchman there, with 10C at my side."
The Red Kougra took off his apron and flung it on top of a box. Somehow he seemed
much tougher, and a lot larger, without it. I guess aprons have a way of detracting
one's perceived toughness level.
"A two-on-two battle, it sounds fair up front.
But you must have something up your sleeves."
The green Wocky slipped the shades back on. "Me?
Oh, I'd say you do. But I agree, granted one simple request that we fight upstairs
in the main lobby." The Wocky gestured to the little Quiggle, who tossed her
hat back. She caught it in one hand and slipped it on her head where it fit
snuggly around her pointed ears.
Yellow Flare looked around and smirked. He was
a little brighter then he looked, and the waitresses and such looked so helpless
and terrified he knew the Wocky must just be protecting them. Why else wouldn't
she fight surrounded by her own?
He walked up behind his leader and whispered,
"She's just protecting these other losers. We've checked every inch of that
room, and there ain't so much as a hair of a trapdoor or secret stash. It's
"Then let us be off," said the Desert Aisha haughtily,
lifting her skirts to daintily saunter up the staircase.
Khargana slid down her shades to meet 10C's eyes.
"We gotta do this," she whispered.
"Yeah, I know. But ferget B.J. and the others,
I just hope it works out alright fer us."
Khargana slid her shades back up before walking
up the stairs.
To be continued...
Author's Note: PLEASE tell me what you think! I really want to know what
you guys think of the Card House! Thank you!