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You Had One Job


by quanticdreams

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}{

      Jhudora? Jhudora, I am here. I am speaking directly into your left ear, and you do not notice. I should tell you these things in a perceivable form, but I imagine you would be very upset to find I have been living in your house. I remain in the shadows. That’s the name the flesh have given me. The Shadow Usul, they whisper. They are wrong, but I do not object. But this isn’t about me. This is about you.

      Listen, Jhudora, do you really want to live your life like this? Stumbling through a hazy stupor and over hoards and hoards of useless junk? Sometimes, as I lurk in the back of your closet, your tacky, fake fingernails almost brush my fur as you reach for one of those identical gowns on your way to return to a dead-end life.

      Do you know how many bugs live in your house, Jhudora? I do. I gave every one a name, and I tell them where to lay their eggs. So do not get on my bad side, because my fury is vast and dark and expressed in a smashed dresser in your pile of junk in the woods! You’ll never find it, though. You never go back there, not all the way.

      I can’t find a pattern to anything in that stupid pile. Overturned smoothies, moth-eaten plushies. It’s a mess back here. Some places I can’t even go in because of the stench. I don’t even have a nose. How did you do that? You had one job! You somehow managed to screw it up!

      This is me, as a part of someone’s life, trying to understand that life. Never thought I’d see the day. Much less you.

      You, casting spells on your friends, casting spells on yourself, casting spells before work on yourself; scowling at your friends and scowling at yourself, and staring, dead-eyed and silent for hours, out the window wearing the same gown as always, a book in your lap that you never really read, because what else can you do?

      But what’s with the herbs? You literally eat out every night; the most I’ve seen you cook is toast, and it’s never even very good toast, and yet now you’re buying exotic herbs and- are you chopping those herbs, Jhudora? You have multiple greasy Shenkuuvian takeout boxes from that place with the peeling pink paint and yet here you are cooking. That doesn’t seem like you, Jhudora.

      And the candles. The scented candles strewn around the hoard. Normally I wouldn’t object to this, but now that your operations have moved to the forest, I’m concerned. I know you want to move, but this is a little extreme.

      The book has always been there. The book haphazardly dangles over your nightstand, open, half of it dangling. I couldn’t pick it up, not even with my surprising strength. Why couldn’t I pick it up?

      And now you are taking the herbs, and you are scattering them in the grass around the candles, lighting them as you go in a pattern I do not recognize. You are taking the book, and you are speaking- no, screaming- no. This is not a language I know of. I know of every language. Those sounds shouldn’t be able to come from flesh.

      Oh. Oh no.

      Jhudora, you do not know what you are doing. What I am seeing right now, what is standing in the place of your hoard in the woods… what have you done?

      I imagine you would be very upset to find I have been living in your house, but do not worry, because I no longer do.

      Because something else does.

      Oh, Jhudora. Something else does.

      }{

      So the Sway’s selected all of you to be villains. You’re the best in your field blah blah, all that. I’m here to tell you none of that matters. You’re just one of us now. We’ve got twenty different guys in Jelly World alone doing the exact same job as you will, and we all know how big Jelly World is. Yes, I’m aware it doesn’t exist until further notice. I’m not sure how we got operatives outside of the universe, and you’re not cleared to know anyway.

      Why so many of us? Because we’re a necessary distraction. Yes, you’re cleared to know that. The Sway does a lot of horrible things, worse than what you will do, to keep all of us on this rock. Our job is to make sure that “Local Jerk,” I don’t know, “Drives Faerieland Into the Ground” is on the front page and that “Twin Sisters Mysteriously Disappear” isn’t even a footnote.

      My name? Operative 1295. You probably know me as Jhudora, but this high up in the food chain, we don’t talk about real names. You’ve all got your clearance levels and your badges and scorecards. You’re all honored agents and doctors et cetera and frankly, I don’t care, and neither do your superiors. You’ve got a new job, and it’s going to suck.

      The good news is: the forefront of Neopian development? It’s here. Right here. The villains, wrong as we are, are always remembered, and you’ll all be the revolutionaries and the mad scientists and the ragtag bands of misfits. If you don’t think you can handle that, you can get up and leave.

      Hey, hey! Sit back down, that was a rhetorical question.

      Let’s start with the basics. You’re here to go out and cause a ruckus in the general population, and the heroes are here to stop you. They’re the ones over in the next room, getting a similar orientation. They also have coffee and donuts, in case you still thought there is some modicum of justice in this cruel world.

      Okay. At some point you’ll have to make a choice- do your job or come home on your own two feet. Who here is willing to die for the Sway? One, two… yeah, you three fail. If it comes to that, it’s always easier to run away. The Sway already has trouble recruiting.

      The civilians. You’re going to feel bad for the civilians. They’re going to get put through all sorts of things at your hands. Fire, flooding, taxes. Beakface needed a coverup for a leak of our meeting, so I turned some kid’s mucous membrane into rock candy. Neopedia made it look bad by cutting it off at the end, but that’s really all I did, I swear. He’s got the hospital bill to prove it.

      That’s it, pretty much. You have one job. Don’t screw it up. Questions?

      You, Krawk with the girl hair. Subtlety? Our entire shtick is to get people’s attention. Maybe you can wipe something off the map and not make it clear that you did it. You can be subtle, but the thing you’re doing needs to be flashy. Next.

      Scarface. How do you get in with the donut gang? You jump out this window, that’s how.

      Chef’s hat. How flashy? You can’t be too bloody with it, but I’d condone murder if it keeps the development on the sun catapult a secret. On second thought... Never mind. Just be careful about who. People can surprise you, particularly if you hurt someone they care about.

      Over to the left, glasses. Genocide? Sounds like you’d need some kind of magic, and if you don’t want to dabble in that stuff, I’m not helping you hide your orbital death ray. Just don’t point that thing at me.

      Vampire guy. I don’t know why we don’t just wipe everyone’s brains. This is probably cheaper, and besides, if we did that every time something screwed up happened, our heads would be too empty to get anything done.

      Ugly Eyrie in the back. For the last time, the plant thing in the palace wasn’t my fault! Well, sort of, but not directly. They were… circumstances beyond my control. No, I didn’t see it, I just heard about it from the guards.

      No, I’m not telling you what I was doing in prison. Shut up.

      Anything else? Alright. That concludes my briefing. Since you haven’t been too annoying, I’ve arranged for punch and cookies. They aren’t donuts, but hey. These aren’t full of laxatives.

      }{

      Good afternoon, Jhudora. Sit. Do not attempt to leave the room until you are told that this meeting is over. The door is already locked, but it is of utmost importance that you pay attention. Good.

      You are now a member of the Sway. This is not an expulsion.

      Sit.

      Yes, you’re horrified. You think you’re being punished for someone else’s lapse in judgement that you had no control over. You think that your magical career is over. You might even have thought that “a meeting with the Headmistress” was an unfortunate euphemism. This is not the case.

      You almost certainly hate the Sway as much as I do. That’s why they exist. To rein each other in.

      There are people in the world who are completely and profoundly selfish. Some of these people are in the position to do serious harm to society at large. A Sway operative is smart. The Sway is a dumb, panicky, dangerous animal. Such is a side effect of bureaucracy.

      You have likely been directly affected by the actions of the Sway. You likely have done research to oppose them. You almost certainly wish to abolish them from existence. But it is vital that it is not shattered apart. The key purpose of the Sway is keeping these people unified and stagnated. Further reductions into factions could result in a war that could destroy the world.

      You have one job. Don’t screw it up. Understood? Good.

      You will likely never meet your superior, the Duchess. Without going into details, you shouldn’t want to. You will likely receive letter from the Duchess. Without going into details, you should not open these. Burn them immediately upon receipt. Do not open them. If anyone asks, all of your actions are in accordance her dictates. Do not seek out the Duchess.

      That being said, what I’m about to bring up isn’t anything personal. Due to your… condition, we have to keep you away from the greater faerie population. Illusen cast a spell on you that may have unforeseen side effects, and we don’t want an explosion in a dorm room. How do you feel about getting your own cloud?

      }{}{

      THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

      PHILLIP PRINGLE, NNN ANCHOR: From NNN world headquarters in Neopia Central, this is MORNING START WEEKDAYS.

      (VIDEO CLIP)

      PRINGLE: A shocking altercation at Faerie University, leading to several injured and one missing. The reactions of the students, as well as our continuing coverage of this situation.

      And, in the Haunted Woods today, Mayor Abigail King and Prime Minister Mircalla Karnstein have officially requested the intervention of Fyora’s Court and Virtupets Industries in dealing with a spike in disappearances that threaten to destabilize the area. What all this has to do with an up-and-rising secret society.

      And, along with the return of the Darkest Faerie and death, it’s one of life’s unavoidables: money. But one strange, alien entrepreneur is looking to gamify earning it, for one small price. The public’s opinions on if this is worth our freedom.

      It’s the 29th day of Gathering, year 83. Good morning, everyone, I’m Phillip Pringle. Cody Harrod is currently being a rosebush. We wish him a speedy recovery from that curse.

      We start today in Faerieland where the best magic academy in the kingdom, if not the world, has been uprooted by a student’s violent breakdown.

      On Tuesday morning, Illusen was almost completely unknown outside of a small group of friends.

      By Wednesday morning, she had practiced forbidden magic, caused severe structural damage to her alma mater, and had jumped off of the edge of Faerieland, apparently making no attempt to fly. Her whereabouts are unknown.

      Correspondent Theresa Fowler brings us more.

      (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

      FOWLER: Faerie University. The crown jewel of magical education. Despite heated fighting within the city itself, the school was relatively untouched by the ongoing forbidden magic disputes in the region. Until now. At approximately 5:15 PM, local time, Illusen, an almost-unknown student was reported to R.A. Illere for an abnormal amount of noise coming from her dorm. Illere forcibly entered and discovered Illusen casting forbidden spells, the specifics of which have been classified by Fyora’s Court. It was at this point that Illusen raised her wand and demanded that Illere not speak of this incident.

      Illere attempted to flee and was hit by a fire hex. Illusen then proceeded to hold her entire dorm hostage until 1:45 the next morning, whereupon she removed a hostage’s voice, cast a disguise spell on her that made her look exactly like her, and sent her down the lift to law enforcement.

      This was not discovered to be a ploy until Illusen herself dropped an invisibility cloak she had used to sneak out of the tower while cursing the royal castle. She was shot in the wing with an arrow, but after being downed, she still managed to make it to the edge of the cloud and jumped off. The royal castle remains in a compromised state, though details are still being withheld.

      Law enforcement is making it their top priority to find her, though they doubt she survived the fall.

      AETHIA, CAPTAIN OF ROYAL GUARD: While finding Illusen is of utmost importance, she did take an arrow to the wing before enduring a vertical 11,000 meter drop. To the aerodynamically challenged, that would be like running from the Haunted Woods to Meridell with an arrow in your leg. You wouldn’t make it very far without giving up.

      FOWLER: When asked for comment, the spokes-orb for Fyora said the following.

      ORB 62515181, FAERIE PRESS SECRETARY: All is well. The fair people continue to rule, as they will for the rest of time. There is nothing more to be said. You have one job: continue your fleeting, meaningless lives, and eventually dwindle to nothing. Don’t screw it up.

      FOWLER: When pressed on how these developments might impact the faerie community and school atmosphere of the university, the orb emitted a light of indeterminate color and vibrated at a frequency that shattered all glass in the vicinity.

      Theresa Fowler, NNN, Faerieland.

      (END VIDEOTAPE)

      }{}{

      Document #: FAERIE-315

      Acquisition Method: Mailed to Doctor Fairweather

      Additional Documentation: Mailed in unmarked manila envelope, sealed. Inside: nine (9) marked A5-size envelopes. Envelopes numbered sub-documents -1 to -9 as follows.

      Sub-Document: FAERIE-315-1

      Marked A5-size envelope, addressed to “Tower the third, room 802,” unsealed (torn).

      Inside: Folded A4-size white paper, front text in black ink, reverse blank.

      Front:

      In regards to Illusen,

      We would like to speak with you very frankly, if we may. There are two top competitors for the magical engineering opening this year. One of them is incredibly gifted, the other one is of uncomfortable proximity to you and her name is Jhudora.

      With that in mind, you are the best student our school has had in centuries. All of your teachers are amazed by your theories. Bottom line: you have promise.

      In light of Jhudora’s unfortunate excellence and her status as a dark faerie, you will have to prove yourself against her in the duels this month, or we will make that opportunity go away. We request that you purchase a hexed or otherwise upgraded wand. We will let you pass through the screening with the wand.

      Fyora’s Court

      Sub-Document: FAERIE-315-2

      Marked A5-size envelope, addressed to “Fyora’s Court,” unsealed.

      Inside: Folded A3-size lined paper, text on front in green pen, reverse blank.

      Front:

      In response to Fyora’s Court

      I understand your concern. However, the recommended action you have given me will not be taken into consideration. To give myself an unfair advantage over my opponent would be ill advised. Additionally, I assumed you have one job: to be of better moral standing than to let bias override talent. I am simply telling you to not screw it up.

      Illusen

      Sub-Document: FAERIE-315-3

      Marked A5-size envelope, addressed to “Tower the third, room 802,” unsealed (torn).

      Inside: Folded A4-size white paper, text on front in black ink, reverse blank.

      Front:

      Dear Illusen,

      We would like to remind you that this is not the first time this type of incident has occurred regarding competitors. The last time a dark faerie joined the magical engineering committee, a chain of events led to the creation of the Darkest Faerie. However, tragedies like this can be avoided if they continue to be terminated in this manner.

      Fyora’s Court

      Sub-Document: FAERIE-315-4

      Marked A5-size envelope, addressed to “Fyora’s Court,” unsealed.

      Inside: Folded A3-size lined paper, text on front in green pen, reverse in pencil.

      Front:

      To Fyora’s Court,

      I would also like to remind you that that was a single, isolated incident. It is not the fault of dark faeries that there was one radical among their ranks. As one of the highest authorities in the land, your duty is to terminate any potential threat that enters the kingdom. Jhudora is not a threat.

      Illusen

      Reverse:

      continue?

      Sub-Document: FAERIE-315-5

      Marked A5-size envelope, addressed to “Fyora (non i maiali),” unsealed.

      Inside: Folded A3-size lined paper, text on front in green pen, reverse blank.

      Front:

      To Fyora’s Court,

      I have noticed that several dark faeries have been detained. It is true that they were violating the code of conduct, but this was done without malicious intent, and the retribution for this is grossly disproportionate to their wrongdoings, which I must stress are few. I wish to remind you that most dark faeries are not harmful in any way.

      Please note that our queen would not be happy with your conduct.

      I request to speak with your superior.

      Illusen

      Sub-Document: FAERIE-315-6

      Marked A5-size envelope, addressed to “Fyora, URGENT, PLEASE READ,” unsealed.

      Inside: Folded A3-size lined paper, text on front in green pen, reverse blank.

      Front:

      To Fyora’s Court,

      I have waited patiently and have not received a response. I demand answers.

      I am worried about Jhudora. She feels like she’s being watched.

      I am worried about myself. I feel like I’m being watched.

      Illusen

      Sub-Document: FAERIE-315-7

      Marked A5-size envelope, addressed to “GIVE THIS TO QUEEN BEE,” unsealed.

      Inside: Crumpled A3-size lined paper, text on front in unidentified smeared liquid, reverse has a design resembling butterfly wings etched into it.

      Front:

      Fyora’s Court,

      That’s it. That. That was it. You people disgust me.

      I am personally sorry for abandoning my polite tone. I am also sorry for Jhudora, who [unintelligible] before she was taken by the guards.

      Are you happy? Terminate? Is that what you call it?

      Why did you have to start doing this?

      When did you do it?

      How long have you been doing it?

      Do you even know?

      Sub-Document: FAERIE-315-8

      Marked A5-size envelope, addressed to “Tower the third, room 802,” unsealed (torn).

      Inside: Folded A4-size white paper, text on front in black ink, reverse blank.

      Front:

      Dear Illusen,

      We apologize for the delayed response. To address your concerns, we would first like to point out that as one of the highest authorities in the land, our duty is to terminate any potential threat that enters the kingdom. Second, as you know, we reside in the castle. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to contact the castle. As a final note, it is strongly advised that you do not attempt to attack us directly. You will not succeed in doing so.

      Fyora’s Court

      Sub-Document: FAERIE-315-9

      Marked A5-size envelope, addressed to “YOU,” sealed.

      Inside: Crumpled A3-size lined paper, text on front in green pen, reverse in pencil, butterfly design again etched into the paper, twice.

      Front:

      ok

      Reverse:

      WONT SUCCEED IS AN ASSUMPTION. AN ASSUMPTION THAT IM DOING THIS ALONE

      }{}{

      hey jhudy

      what

      u know that dark arts book ms pico keeps on her desk

      illusen we’re not touching that. there’s a lot of things on ms pico’s desk that could get us killed or arrested

      i know but it looks so cool!!!!

      that is too many exclamation points to be legal. you are under arrest by the grammar police

      nooo :(

      why are you doing those sideways. this is a paper. you could do that right side up. besides, anything called “the child of apep” or “toppler of the throne of the sky” or “the betrayer” can’t possibly be a good thing

      what im saying is

      if one of us gets really hurt one day

      or if we get into trouble

      it might help

      u know?

      …ok. but you have to promise it’s for an emergency

      promise

      ok. you have one job. don’t screw it up

      The Beginning.

 
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