Home > Art, Stories > TURBULENCE: Operation 1, Chapter 1

TURBULENCE: Operation 1, Chapter 1

(For the origin of TURBULENCE, see this topic on TDN Forums)

So Uyi and I have decided to gang up and drown you with two simultaneous detective serials. 😛 Nah, not really, but I was asked to post my story here to share with the rest of the guild, so here it is. Well, at least, here’s the first chapter. I haven’t written the rest yet. xD

Anyway, without further ado: *commence Mission Impossible theme tune*

Neopia: a world of adventure and mystery, of great civilisations and kingdoms, of games and fashion, and most of all, of vibrant, diverse Neopians. While peace and goodwill reigns over most of its inhabitants, not all is well among the denizens of this world. Lurking in everything from shadowy corners to fully fledged dark lairs, there are the villains of Neopia: insidious and deceptive, intelligent and cunning, rich and powerful, greedy and self-serving. When these bad boys come out to play, no citizen is safe from their pernicious schemes.

But there’s no need to panic. Ours is a world of balance. Each great crime wave was met with the determination and valour of the world’s greatest crime fighters. The Defenders of Neopia. The Petpet Protection League. The Resistance. The knights of Meridell. Across, above and below our lands, these (and many other) institutions of the law form the Neopian Alliance for the Greater Good, a formidable line of defence against any who would seek to exploit the weak or harm the innocent. Together they wage war, the age old battle of good versus evil – and as everyone knows, good always triumphs in the end. So we can all rest easy… or can we?

Even this mighty alliance has its loopholes.

Neopia is a free land, and that’s free as in free market economy. Every organisation needs its life-blood, and law enforcement is no exception. Money makes this world go round – and in a place like that, the corporations reign. ‘You can’t stop progress’ – as civilisation advanced into the information age, so did its criminals. The supervillains of today no longer attack with death rays and invasion fleets. Their weapons are far more effective: patents, communication, fear, and neopoints. Lots of neopoints. Mountains of neopoints. And an insatiable hunger for more.

ACFI, BOTT, NAKR, SKBD – the names you see on the stock market are the ruthless thieves of the modern world, locked in an unending quest to expand their fortunes. They have no ethics, no morals, no limits, no qualms about destroying the livelihoods of hundreds of honest citizens to further their own ends. And if anyone gets in their way? Well, the best money hires the best killers.

What does the law do about this? It turns a blind eye. After all, the crimes can’t technically be traced to the organisations, and established companies tend to be most generous in terms of sponsorship. The truth is, Neopia’s knights in shining armour simply can’t afford to tackle the big businesses. So they don’t. There’s plenty of easier fish to fry.

So the enterprises remain unstoppable, taking what they want, when they want; challenged only when they clash with each other. The corporations reign, and people suffer, helpless to fight back against this cruel new regime.

Enter TURBULENCE.

No, it’s not a well funded intelligence agency or some millionaire-supported vigilante group. It’s just a team of four detectives. Or should I say: the team of four detectives. ‘The best of the best’ – it’s a classic phrase, and one that often raises instant scepticism, but when you’re talking about this quartet, no description is more accurate.

An Aisha, a Shoyru, a Grarrl, and a Kacheek. They all served as officers of the law in the past, and they all saw the corruption and greed that had permeated their once harmonious world. Together, they made it their mission to do the impossible, to stop the unstoppable, to put an end to the merciless rule of the profit plants.

Still: four Neopets against the might of the corporations? Hardly an easy task…

Todd Osway was looking at an image of his daughter. The image was being relayed, real-time, from a high-definition camera through a dedicated high-speed satellite link to a wall-size bio-enhanced Field Emission Display monitor. It was a suite of luxury, next-generation technologies working in perfect tandem.

See? I made it sound like a good thing – that wasn’t too hard.

The not-so-minor factor that made this a very bad thing was the gun pointed at his daughter’s head.

Struggling to maintain his composure, Osway turned to an elegantly dressed White Mynci seated at the room’s solitary, sleek marble desk. He fought to form an intelligible sentence – after several seconds, the most substantial one forced its way through his lips.

“Please don’t hurt her.”

The Mynci (CEO of ChronoChem Pharmaceuticals and owner of the aforementioned luxury technologies) fixed Osway with a thoughtful stare. After a very brief eternity, he sighed and nonchalantly lit a large tobacco pipe.

“Mr. Osway, you’re getting ahead of yourself.” The executive spoke slowly and methodically, enunciating each word until there was no chance of misinterpretation. “I see you have missed a critical premise to these negotiations. Keep up with the times my dear friend. Under the present circumstances, you have no leverage, no influence, no capacity to dictate the occurrence or non-occurrence of events. I do. But I suppose words alone will not be sufficient to remind you of this.”

He reached for a small black speaker box, bulky and crude-looking compared to the rest of the office’s décor. “Kill her.”

The two words were transmitted by, as it were, state of the art technology, and reached the other end of the link instantaneously.

There was a bang. There was a splash. And Osway’s heart shattered. He stood, face contorted, muscles rigid, frozen by horror. There was nothing he could do.

The Mynci didn’t bat an eyelid. “I see my assertion has been appropriately registered.” he remarked. “Now, I will proceed to the root of our conversation. There is no need for you to speak until I conclude.

“You are a chemical engineer, a long-time employee of this company with an outstanding track record. Honest, dedicated, and adaptable. I would hate to lose such an employee.

“Two months ago you were transferred to our Safety Testing department. As this department deals with pre-market products into which significant investments have been made, the standard security protocols which you were subjected to were extremely strict. Despite these protocols, Mr. Osway, you were able to discover several discrepancies in our testing procedures. These discrepancies are of no consequence, and I will not mention them. You, however, seemed remarkably curious as to the nature and causality of these discrepancies.

“Overly curious employees cause problems Mr. Osway. This company cannot afford problems.”

The Mynci paused momentarily to adjust his hat.

“Mr. Osway, you are to cease your enquiries into this matter. You are to treat whatever information you believe to be significantly relevant to this matter as it should be treated: as dreams and whispers, the work of an active imagination and a monotonous job.

“You are a family man Mr. Osway, and I quite like that in a person. I believe you have two remaining children? I doubt I need to explain what will happen should you fail to meet the stated conditions.”

The Mynci glanced meaningfully at Osway, who nodded, still numb with shock.

“Very well Mr. Osway,” pronounced the Mynci, a sickeningly warm smile spreading across his face, “I assume you have very important things to do at this hour of the day. I would not presume to keep you further from your work. You may leave.”

Todd Osway left the room a broken Neopet. He wandered through the hallways in a daze, and paid no attention to his surroundings on the 73-storey elevator trip down to parking lot B. He proceeded mechanically to his car, unlocked it, and collapsed into the driver’s seat, exhausted.

It was a company vehicle, a luxury concept model, equipped with the very latest in entertainment and comfort. Personal effects belonging to his kids were stashed in every nook and cranny. Normally they would have brought him comfort. Now they just made him want to break down in tears.

He turned his head slowly to the left as he reached for the controls.

There was an Aisha in the passenger seat.

Osway almost jumped out of his skin, hands scrabbling for the stun blaster he always kept taped underneath the ignition.

“I’m unarmed.” said the Aisha calmly, raising her hands and flapping her coat vigorously to demonstrate her point. After a second, she frowned, and added, “Well, obviously not unarmed in the perfect literal sense of the word, but you know what I mean.”

Osway nervously trained the blaster on the Aisha, trying to hide the fact that he was shaking from head to tail.

“Who are you? What do you want?”

“My name’s Mia,” replied the Aisha, cautiously turning towards the panicky engineer, “and actually, I’m here for you.”

This did little to pacify Osway’s nerves. “Look, I don’t know what you want with me, but if you don’t get out of this car right now I swear I will shoot you! I’m not kidding!”

Mia examined the weapon pointed at her. “That’s gonna be a little difficult with a powered-off blaster.” she commented dryly.

Osway’s stomach did a double backflip as he realised the Aisha was right. He risked a glance downwards and fumbled with the safety toggles for a few seconds before they clicked into the ‘FIRE’ position. There was a high-pitched whine as the blaster charged itself – two and a half seconds from activation to firing state. All in all, it was a quarter of a minute before the blaster was powered on and pointed at Mia again. She made no move to attack or disarm Osway.

“Just relax, okay? I’ve been tagged by one of those stun blasts before – not fun. I wouldn’t be here trying to talk to you if it wasn’t important.” Mia kept her hands raised, just in case.

Osway didn’t lower the blaster. “What is there to talk about that’s so important?”

“Well, first things first: your daughter’s safe.”

Understandably, Osway did not exactly experience a surge of hope. “How?”

Mia shrugged. “Well, what can I say? The mercenary business is hardly well regulated, and deaths aren’t especially hard to fake. Ask any Neovision director.”

Osway glared suspiciously at the Aisha. An unpleasant thought had just crossed his mind.

“Who are you working for? Chia Steel? Look, if what you’re saying is true, then I’ll give you whatever you need. Just leave her out of this.”

An incredulous look crossed Mia’s face, but she quickly pushed it away. Of course the guy was suspicious. He’d just watched his daughter being shot. “I’d never do anything to hurt your daughter, and neither would any of my associates. Her safety is as much our concern as yours – well, maybe not quite as much, but still, we’ll do whatever we can to protect her, whether or not you decide to help us. That’s a promise.”

It was Osway’s turn to be incredulous. “Protect her? This is ChronoChem you’re talking about. Kevin Ranger’s the CEO. That’s the Kevin Ranger.”

The Kevin Ranger who currently thinks that your daughter is already dead.” Mia shot back, with a hint of smugness.

Osway shuddered, but held the blaster steady. “You still haven’t told me what you want.”

Mia hesitated, wondering what would be the best thing to say, and decided not to bother with a sugar coating. “Well in answer to that and your earlier question: I’m not really working for anybody. I’m a detective, I’m investigating ChronoChem. You found something your boss didn’t want anybody else to know about. I need to know what that is, because I’m pretty sure that if I don’t find out, a lot of people are going to die. Painfully.”

“Funny isn’t it.” answered Osway guardedly as he mulled over the Aisha’s words. “Just an hour ago, I’d have found that last part difficult to believe.”

“And I wouldn’t have blamed you for it.” interjected Mia, glad that some of the tension was finally starting to dissipate.

Without warning, Osway lunged forwards, pressing the blaster’s muzzle against Mia’s forehead. “But how do you know that I won’t just stun you and hand you over to my boss right now?”

Mia edged backwards, choosing her words carefully. That would be a problem. “Firstly,” she said, breathing slowly, “because you’re an honest man with a good heart.”

A movement in the shadows caught the Aisha’s eye, abruptly altering her second response. “And secondly, because that would probably have a very bad outcome. For both of us.”

“What makes you say that?” rasped Osway. His eyes held the glint of the desperate.

“On the right, the maintenance access across the parking lot.” Mia resisted the urge to stare cross-eyed at the blaster aimed at her head. “Good choice of car by the way – the blacked out windows let you look around without giving yourself away.”

Osway turned his head quickly, keeping a finger tight against the blaster’s trigger. When he saw what Mia had spotted, he didn’t turn his head back. A group of six heavily muscled Neopets was in the process of emerging from the maintenance hatch and moving purposefully towards Osway’s car. They were wearing distinctive black uniforms embroidered with the ChronoChem logo: an alarm clock with test tubes for hands. And they were all toting guns. Very big, very powerful guns.

Officially, the ChronoChem Special Executive Security division was responsible for the personal safety of the company’s top officials. Unofficially, they doubled as one of Neopia’s most elite hit teams.

Osway paled (not an easy task if you’re already Glowing). “Executive Guards! But if Ranger wants to kill me, why go through the whole-”

“He’s a sadist, enough said.” interrupted Mia. “If I were you, I would put down that blaster and focus on driving rather than worry about the mental health of one Kevin Ranger.”

Osway didn’t need to be told twice. The car’s engine roared to life, and it sped out of its socket and towards the street. The guards let it go. They would have other opportunities to make the hit.

* * *

Silence is the lack of sound. There’s not much more to it. You don’t generally expect to be able to label it with adjectives like ‘awkward’. But the silence that filled the atmosphere as the concept car raced down the motorway was most definitely awkward. And it remained so until Osway finally broke it with an ever-classic question.

“So how do I know I can trust you?”

Mia raised an eyebrow. “I’m not sure what you mean Mr. Osway. We’ve barely known each other for five minutes. It takes a bit longer than that for trust to form.”

Something in Osway finally exploded. The entirety of the day’s overwhelming events finally hit him full force, and he had to let it out.

“What I mean,” he shouted, swerving the car dangerously, “is how do I know this isn’t all a lie?! How do I know Emma isn’t dead?!”

Mia turned, arms folded, to examine the engineer thoroughly. Even for an overworked wage earner, he was far from prime condition.

“You know, for a hotshot scientist, you aren’t the brightest kid on the block when it comes to security.”

“What does that have to do with anything?!” demanded Osway.

“When entering an apparently empty vehicle,” recited Mia as she examined the car’s climate control system, “always check the back seat.”

Osway caught himself and peered into the rear-view mirror. There, sleeping peacefully and accompanied by her favourite Angel Chia plushie, was his daughter.

Mia made a frantic grab for the wheel as Osway fainted from relief.

License:
Creative Commons License
All TURBULENCE team members © their owners (Tivsy, Sapphy, Muffinman, and me)
All Neopets stuff © Neopets Inc.

Arc: Operation 1
Chapters: 1 | 2

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Categories: Art, Stories Tags: , ,
  1. August 3, 2009 at 3:39 am

    OMG that is a lot of text.
    Don’t think my printer has enough paper either for bed time reading!!

    xD Nice work though

  1. August 2, 2009 at 11:52 pm

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