A Human Among Animal Thieves @jumbochamploon
The Horrors of the Mask of Dark Earth

Chapter 34

In all honesty, the mission to clear out Ayer's Rock with the giant truck? IT WAS AWESOME! Neyla laughed like a madwoman when she boosted the truck into the main area and she got all the scorpions in the truck with ease! And since it was nearing dusk, the sand wasn't nearly as hot as the game would've depicted... in fact, it was 8:50 pm and that meant the sun was setting in the distance. Neyla then, after getting 20 soldier scorpions, let them loose down the entrance to Ayer's Rock, a bunch of miners rushing out of the place and some actually getting stabbed by the stingers before they finally said the announcement.

"BOYS! Fuggedabout dis place! Save yerselves! Abandon the rig! ABANDON THE RIG!" the main dingo exclaimed, the dingos all packing up their stuff as well as blowing up the giant drill with some explosives before finally running into the sunset.

"Okay, THAT was BAD ASS!" I smiled widely.

"Hell yeah it was, hon!" Neyla smirked as I hopped back in the passenger seat and she gave me a hi-five, me smirking at her as we then drove back to the camp, parking the truck where it was before, but Neyla made sure to pocket the keys so the miners couldn't use it again. We then saw Murray and Ruby come down from the Guru's area above us and we met up at the base of the giant central cliff with the rotating crane.

"So? How'd it go?" I asked them with a smile.

"It went pretty well. The Guru said that my inner spirit was bursting with magical potential and offered to give me some training once we drive the miners out of this place! I can actually expand my magical prowess!" Ruby smiled happily, her voice breaking a couple times from her excitement.

"But we also came across the Mask of Dark Earth thing. And it was attached to some wallaby," Murray said with a frown.

"So what's the deal?" Neyla asked.

"The deal is that the mask is sentient, able to move and run all on its own, and when it was attached to the wallaby, it made him grow as large as 1.5 times the size as Murray and actually made his clothes rip off his body. That mask is insanely dangerous. I could sense nothing but malice and black magic all through its structure. We need to get rid of it before it does anything bad to us," Ruby said.

"Agreed on that much," I said as I could tell from her worry that she was telling the truth... well, that and the fact that I knew everything before she even said it, but, eh...

Sly and Henriette then emerged from their location with the Moon Stone and Staff, both of them having small detonators on them that powered down upon getting exposed to the fading sunlight of the sunset. Murray, Ruby, Neyla and I then proceeded back to the Safehouse while Sly and Henriette went to talk to the Guru next. After waiting for a few more minutes, they returned and Bentley and Meg then went out to meet the koala with the mystical powers. The minutes seemed to drag on when I wasn't exuding energy, so I tried to think of some way to stay entertained.

"Hey, Henriette?" I asked the pirate Cooper.

"Yeah? Wot is it, captain?" Henriette asked.

"We happened to read some of your stories in the Thievius Raccoonus, but I wanted to ask. Do you have anymore that you could share?" I asked her, Henriette smiling at that.

"That I can and more, captain!" Henriette smiled. "The year was 1616, the second year of me thieving career. I sailed across the seas to the Indian Ocean where I found a secret cave that led to an immense fortune. A gigantic goblet of gold, a treasure owned by the legendary rogue Sinbad! It was as large as me boat's smallest mast and weighed way too much for me men to pick it up normally. So I decided to do a daring stunt. I went over to the goblet and used Slaigh MacCooper's technique to pick up the giant goblet and throw it closer to the Cooper Mistress. Me men cheered when I did this as they then began to do the process of tying the legendary cup o' gold to the boat's mast with me assistance. We then set sail for the Cooper Vault on Kaine Island, where I stashed the legendary goblet in the innards of the Cooper's fortune spanning for generations upon generations. Back when I was in me youth, I added roughly 10 million gold pieces worth of loot into that vault. But Pappy Rioichi added way more, upwards of 25 million in gold pieces! And convertin' to yer new-fangled Euro system, that means that, altogether, just mine and Pappy Rioichi's share of the loot is upwards of... 35 billion Euros... give or take a few billion," Henriette said, Sly spitting out his coffee at the sound of that and him in awe at the words that came out of Henriette's mouth... same with pretty much all of us.

"Just your loot... and Rioichi's... 35 BILLION?! That's enough money to buy the entirety of Russia!" Meg gawked as she put in the numbers on her personal cell phone and it said that it was around the price to purchase a country as large as Russia, which was the largest country in the world!

"And there's way more loot in that vault from all the other Coopers in history. The fortune residing in that legendary island is unfathomable, unable to have any price. It's priceless... which is why I'm sure Doctor M is so determined to bust in there by any means necessary. He's mad for gold and loot and the Cooper Vault is his coveted prize. But as yer pal McSweeny said, only a Cooper can open them locks," Henriette smiled with a sigh of giddiness.

"That fortune is definitely going to be ours now! We can't let a madman like Doctor M steal that loot from Sly's family legacy," I said with seriousness in my voice.

"It's not just my legacy. All of you guys are going to get a cut of it too," Sly smiled.

"Thanks, Sly," Murray smiled at that.

"We'll help you out until the bitter end!" Henriette smirked at him.

But when we all had the sappy stuff done with, we heard tons of explosions not far from the Safehouse! We then looked out the window to see the Guru literally smashing the guards' heads into the drills by the lemonade bar! All of them got demolished in no time flat as the Guru then rushed off to the next area, Wave Rock. He demolished the saw truck that worked there with zero issue as well, hopping guards to the generator and smashing their skulls into the machine until it was dead and the explosion crippled and demolished the saw blade truck!

"Oh yeah! You're the Master!... Master!" Murray smirked widely.

"Yep, that was cool," I smiled widely as Bentley and Meg then returned with smiles on their faces.

"Okay, guys, now to the next phase. As we all know, the Mask of Dark Earth is still out there and the miners need to be completely kicked out of this area before the Guru will be able to join us without issues. So, here's the plan. In order to get rid of the miners, my plan is twofold. First, we'll enlist the help of the local fauna to help take out the miners. Murray and Ruby will start feeding the miners to a local giant crocodile. With some luck, he'll take a liking to the taste of miners and chow down on them left and right!" Bentley said, me smirking and shaking my head.

"Please don't say that ever again?" I asked, Bentley not getting it... but Meg did.

"BWWWAAAHHAAAHAAA!" Meg laughed insanely.

"What's so funny?" Sly asked.

"Miners can sound like another similar sounding word... minors with an o," I smirked, Sly smirking and Neyla laughing at that with a groan from Bentley and a smile from Murray, Ruby, and Henriette.

"Ooookay... Next, we'll take the fight to where these guys live... or, at least, relax. If we can take control of this lemonade bar, it'll be a huge blow to their pride. They'll be begging to go home! And finally, we'll need to go out to the local oil mains and get access to some of the glowing oil. We'll need it to put together a suit for the heist," Bentley said as we then went out to our different tasks. Ruby and Murray went for the crocodile, Sly and Henriette went to the oil manes, and Meg, myself, and Neyla went to the lemonade bar.

"Okay, guys. Time to buck up and get tough. We need to take this lemonade bar in the name of the Cooper Gang," I smiled.

"Okay, I'm ready and raring. What about you, Meg?" Neyla smiled.

"Hah! You're talking to a girl that could chug an entire bottle of root beer in only one sitting! I'm gonna smoke these losers!" Meg smirked widely.

"Then let's head inside and stir up the dingoes," I smirked as we then went in through the doors and saw the three dingoes, them looking to be having a fun time before I spoke up.

"Listen up, mutts! Time to clear outta this joint! From now on, this lemonade bar belongs to the Cooper Gang!" I said with a smile and very loudly, it getting the attention of the three dingoes immediately.

"Tough talk... uh... creature. But talk ain't worth spit if ya don't pay up in spades. We here are known round these parts fer our drinkin' skills. And this just happens to be a lemonade bar," the guard said with a growl.

"Lemonade drinking contest, eh? You dumb doggies are gonna be sorry you ever set foot in these rocky lands," Neyla smiled.

"Fair dinkum! Losers have to clear out!" the dingo said as we then went to the bar and we each were given a large mug filled with lemonade. I was at the last station, Neyla got the first, and Meg in the middle. Neyla proceeded to drink her lemonade first, actually managing to get it down quite easily! She did it in the amount of time it took the first dingo to reach half a cup. Then Meg proceeded to drink hers after Neyla slammed her cup into the table. And just like back home, Meg was an absolute beast when it came to chugging down liquids! She gulped down the entire lemonade cup in only ten seconds, which meant I was one guy ahead and I had plenty of time to take my cup and finish it. But I wanted to rub it in their faces and I proceeded to drink it all down in only twenty seconds, me slamming my cup down and burping insanely loudly afterwards, the dingoes shocked at how fast we did that.

"Oh yeah, that was a good batch of lemonade! I believe we'll be seein' you guys out right about now," I smiled at them.

"Dagummit... well, a deal's a deal... come on, boys... time to pack up our shit an' go," the dingo groaned as he gathered all the dingoes and wallabies from the bar and led them out the front door. And what happened after that?

"AAAAAGH! GET ME OUTTA HERE!" one of the wallabies yelled loudly as he ran directly back into the bar with his tail in between his legs, me hearing the crack of a whip and the sound of blood outside.

"Uh-oh... this does not sound good..." Meg gulped as, after saying that, the doors were busted down by a giant dingo donning the Mask of Dark Earth!

"Whoa! That's one beefy mutt!" Neyla gawked.

"It's the Mask of Dark Earth! We need to get that Dingo defeated in order to have a shot at taking out that mask!" I said as the wallaby gulped and retreated for a different area of the bar, over by the fire pit. I then looked at the giant dingo as he cracked the fence apart with his whip and then howled so loudly, it demolished the entirety of the drinking bar!

"EEENOOOGGOONAAGADA! EEEERRRRAAAARRGGHH!" the mask forced the dingo to say against his will, me growling as I brandished my cane and Neyla donned her whip.

"Let's dance, boys," Neyla smiled as she cracked her whip directly at the face of the dingo, the mask blocking it with a couple of hands to block his face! I then rushed in and used slow time to smack the dingo right in the balls while also snapping his legs in half with some slow-mo Banana Slammah's! And when the dingo fell to the ground with both of his legs broken to bits, the mask then jumped off and tried to run out of the bar before Neyla cracked her whip at the mask, it responding by doing something it never did in the games. It sent a blast of powerful magic at Neyla and it forced her to fall to the ground with her eyes closed!

"NEYLA!" I exclaimed as I picked her up, seeing that she was tossing and turning a lot at my touch. And when I turned around, the mask was already long gone.

"Neyla... come on, wake up!" I said, producing tears as I felt her breathing. She was still alive, but she wouldn't stop fussing in her sleep.

"Something's wrong with her... what's going on?" Meg asked as the wallaby then gulped and came over to us.

"So... what's the deal here?" the wallaby asked with a shudder.

"The deal is that this bar is Cooper gang territory and that mask is a dangerous artifact that takes mental control of anyone who has it on their face. And it's sentient, so it can latch it onto your face in one go if it so chooses!" I said.

"Damn... that's some strange and wacky stuff..." the wallaby said as I saw the dingo nearby and that we was tossing and turning as well.

"You, tell all the other workers that this place is a danger zone and to clear out effective immediately! If anyone else gets that mask on their face, it'll be doom for all involved. And in the meantime, we need the Guru's help," I said as I looked at Meg and she got to work.

"Guru... we need some help... Neyla's unconscious and we saved a dingo from the Mask of Dark Earth, but both of them are tossing and turning like they're having nightmares," Meg said in her Binocucom. "Uh huh... yes, Neyla was blasted by some strange magic... huh? They'll be having nightmares until the sun comes out? Damn... that's gonna be rough on them... okay, we'll get to getting this guy and Neyla a spot at the Safehouse to sleep off their nightmares and then we'll just have to do the heist without her," Meg said. I still had tears in my eyes as I looked at Neyla, her tossing and turning and even kicking in her sleep.

"Neyla... I am not going to let that mask hurt anyone again," I said with a growl in my voice.

"Sis, remember. We have to have things play out as intended," Meg said, me sighing and nodding.

"I know... I want to be the one to destroy that mask, though. When the heist comes, I'll demolish that mask at the time it gets demolished. No way am I letting anyone else demolish that fucking thing after it did this to Neyla," I said, activating a Warp Hole for me, Meg, and our two sleeping friends to go through directly back to the Safehouse. Bentley was a bit stunned to see the dingo, but when I explained how he got the broken legs and him and Neyla's nightmares, he frowned grimly.

"That mask is sure to keep making trouble for us. We need to destroy it," Bentley said with a sigh as the others came back one by one, including Henriette who had a large bottle filled with the glowing oil.

"Okay, time to go over the heist. These miners are going to call it quits very soon and we need to get rid of this mask once and for all. It's time for Operation Moon Crash! First, we'll enlist the help of the Guru to demolish the Gyrocopter as it goes to refuel. Once it's destroyed, we move onto phase 2 of our plan. According to the Aboriginal Dreamtime, their deity is the Moon Spirit, which happens to be the ancient foe of the Mask of Dark Earth. So, given Murray's moon shape, we'll cover him in the glowing oil and have him hang off the crane. The mask is sure to spot its ancient foe and come running. That's when we strike! Murray will thunder flop off the crane to obliterate the mask! Once that's accomplished and with the miners run off, we can finally get the Guru on our team for the Cooper Vault job," Bentley said as I saw Ruby start to use her powers on both Neyla and the dingo.

"She's going to talk to them in their minds to let them know of what's happening. Once they wake up, we'll need to treat them carefully, especially the dingo," Bentley said, me nodding at that.

"Yeah, breaking his legs was sadly the only real idea I had when it came to trying to get that mask off of him," I sighed. "And honestly, it was probably a bad move on so many levels..."

"Well, I told them of what happened and the dingo... - his name is Boris, so you're aware - said he understands it had to be done. He just wants a ride to the nearest hospital when he wakes up," Ruby said.

"And Neyla?" I asked.

"She says that, when she wakes up, she wants to kiss you and have a date with you when this adventure's done with. A real date," Ruby smiled.

"I can live with that," I smirked.

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