Part 30: Chapter 25I don't want to sound like I'm trying to dig for more posts for my LP or anything, but could we get some more discussion going on? I would just like for a new page to turn over so I don't cram this one with three jumbo-updates and make it a mile long and absolutely murder to load.
We're only seven posts away from a new page, so, to spur discussion, here's a small update. This section didn't really fit in the last one and it would have padded the next one, so it seems well-enough to post it by itself.
With the sixth of seven Needles pulled and the sound of smooth, upbeat jazz coming in from just outside, they showed themselves out of Chupichupyoi temple, and were immediately greeted by a remarkably long vehicle; longer than any of them had seen. It was easily two dozen feet long; maybe longer.
A smartly-dressed man with a spiffy hat and smelling of many artificial odours stepped out from one of its many doors, near its front. He had a curly moustache and shoes so shiny Lucas could see himself in them. The man looked over the four, gauging them each, and laid his eyes on Duster. "Master Lucas, I presume?" he asked, with a very regal accent and an educated trill off his tongue.
"Uh, no," Duster answered, pointing to Lucas with his left hand. "Him."
"You're Master Lucas?" the suited man asked, and Lucas shyly nodded. The man apparently wasn't expecting Lucas to be so young and colourful. "I beg your pardon for the confusion," he apologized, reaching into a pocket on the inside of his coat, and pulling out a small, pink envelope. It had many colourful and artsy designs on it, and was sealed with a stamped piece of wax, with an emblem he didn't recognize.
cordially invites you to the greatest city in the world: New Pork City." Lucas was listening as he carefully opened the letter, taking out a thick piece of paper. It had many ribbons and flashy designs on it, along with hand-written paragraphs in blue ink - in a style he couldn't decipher. Rather than actual letters, every word was composed of a single line that looped and squiggled all over the place with the occasional dot, and he couldn't understand any of it.
"Porky?" Duster asked. "You mean...'King P'?"
"That's correct, sir," he answered, tipping his hat. "I will be your chauffeur, and with your leave, I will take you and your party to the city in this stretch limousine," the man continued. "As you can see from the letter, your attendance is urgently important; Master Porky desires your audience post-haste."
Lucas looked up from the letter, totally lost on what it was saying, but the chauffeur was easy enough on his ears. He looked to Duster and Kumatora in confusion, unsure of what he should say. "I'zzat right?" Kumatora said for him. "An' what if we tell this guy where exactly he can park his limo?"
The chauffeur smiled politely at Kumatora.
His tone belied his expression. "I would suggest that you accept our great Master Porky's generous offer for his hospitality and step into the limousine."
"Hey, pal," she replied, getting indignant. She was hoping the suit would make more subtle threats, so she would have an excuse to give her new trick a try. "We beat yer armies and yer generals and yer machines. If you think you can-"
"Kumatora," Lucas finally said, gently holding her by the wrist, holding her back. "I think we should go."
"Seriously?" she asked, suddenly surprised.
Duster was on her side. "Yeah, Lucas, this looks kind of fishy to me. We beat everything he has to offer, and now he wants to throw us a party? I know a trap when I see one."
"I know." He looked to Duster. "But there aren't a lot of places left on the Nowhere Islands to look, right? And everyone's already gone ahead to New Pork City, so...I think that maybe the last Needle is there. Maybe that's the 'lively, filthy' place Ionia told us about."
Kumatora didn't buy that. "That makes no sense. If they had the last Needle, why wouldn't they pull that one first?"
"I don't know. Maybe because they wanted the safest for last. Or maybe they're just taunting us." They were silent for a moment. Porky wasn't really so confident that they would taunt them with the last Needle, was he? "I really think we should go."
Duster thought about it. He knew it was some kind of trap; whether the chauffeur was some kind of assassin, or they were waiting to try and pull something at New Pork City, he didn't know, but every one of his thief instincts were telling him that it wasn't safe. On the other hand, though, it would have been a good opportunity to finally nip the Pigmasks in the bud...
"Well, the fate of the world is on your shoulders," Kumatora shrugged, "so if you wanna go, then I guess we gotta follow. An' I guess we could blow up the Pigmasks while we're there or somethin'."
"Have you come to a decision?" the chauffeur asked. Lucas looked to his two companions for their answer: Kumatora was with him, and Duster, after another moment deliberating with himself, was in too. Boney, of course, was with Lucas to the very end, and happily wagged his tail. "Very good. Please follow me."
The chauffeur walked around the front of the limousine, opening one of the doors at its rear for Lucas and his 'party' to enter.
When Boney hopped into the limousine behind them, the chauffeur closed the door, and slowly made his way back to the front, getting into the same door he came out of. He put a small, slender, toothy piece of metal into a slot just behind a large wheel, and with a few presses of some buttons and pulls and tweaks of a few levers, the car took off.
Though not in a direction Lucas had expected.
The outside of the limousine was fairly narrow - just a little bit longer than a closet, he had guessed, and only about as long as a few long strides. But on the inside, it was like he was in a completely different place: it was wider than his house and it was longer than most streets in Tazmily. It was as though he had stepped through a portal into a new place completely.
"What do you think?" the chauffeur asked as he continued to fiddle with the many knobs and levers of the vehicle, although he moved casually, almost autonomously about it. "It's much more spacious than it appears on the outside, don't you think?"
"Yeah," Lucas agreed, looking over the interior of the car again. "You read my mind."
The chauffeur laughed. "You're not the first person to get so surprised over it. Heck, I could hardly believe it myself, the first time." He reached for another lever to his side, and pulled it while his legs pushed on some other, unseen levers in tandem. "We'll arrive in New Pork City in just a moment, so by all means, use the niceties provided to entertain yourselves until then."
Lucas looked down the massive limousine, taking in everything it had to offer. There was a lot going on in that one vehicle. The chauffeur's pet frog happily took one of the seats for itself.
There was a large, flashy stage sitting there, but no microphone to sing into or speakers. Its alternating lights were unprotected, and underneath them was a flimsy piece of cardboard holding it all up.
There was an assortment of adult drinks lined up next to the stage. His father would have really liked some of them, he figured, but he was never even allowed to touch drinks like these at home.
They began to split up, looking at the material pleasures the limousine offered at their own pace. Among them was some kind of electronic tabletop game that looked interesting and fairly intuitive, but the inputs and commands shown on its sides were painted on and not real.
The billiard table there looked real enough, but the pool cue and the balls were glued to the felt. They were all made of plastic anyway.
There was a dartboard hanging over a large, comfortable sofa, seating four. They were soft to the touch and quite soothing to sit on. When they all gave it a try, they each got a little carried away in their comfort.
The limousine was fully equipped with its own plumbing and a water heater, making its own little hot spring out of a tub that Boney and Kumatora were more than happy to use. It had a Happy Box installed under a table holding more adult drinks, and it had a blackjack table, though the stack of the cards was a painted block of wood, and the chips were each a single notched steel pipe.
At the very tail end of the limousine was one of those famous wine-glass towers Lucas had heard of sometimes. By stacking the glasses in such a way and overflowing the one at the top with wine, the overflow would fill up all the empty glasses underneath.
It was all very flashy, but there was very little actual substance to the limousine's attractions. Aside from the hot tub, anything that wasn't fake was inoperable. There wasn't anything for Lucas to do, so, bored, he went to the front, taking the passenger's seat next to the chauffeur. "Is everything to your liking, Master Lucas?" the man asked, keeping his eyes on the windshield. They were many feet high in the air, cruising over the ocean. Lucas had no idea where they were going; he didn't even know there were places to go beyond the Nowhere Islands.
"No," he answered after a little bit. "There's...nothing to do. Nothing works."
The chauffeur didn't seem especially surprised, but he feigned it anyway. "Oh, dear," he said, putting some effort into sounding shocked, but clearly, not enough. "I will defer your criticism to my superiors once we reach New Pork City. Speaking of which, have you ever been there before?"
"No, but I've heard things," he replied.
He thought about it. He had some stigma against the city since it robbed him of his home and seduced everyone he loved into leaving Tazmily...but, honestly, nobody really spoke too poorly of it, besides maybe Mapson. "I suppose, a few good things."
"I bet," Lucas said sourly, looking over the hood of the limousine and down towards the ocean. "Do you know how much farther it is?"
The chauffeur looked to a small dial on the dashboard, looking at some of its readings. "According to this," he said slowly, occasionally glancing out the windshield, "it should be right over...
His cheers attracted the others, who quickly joined Lucas at the front, looking out of the front window of the limousine.
"Everyone," the chauffeur narrated, waving his hand in a showman-like manner to the extravagant city quickly rising over the horizon. It was all unlike anything Lucas had seen.
"Welcome to New Pork City!"