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Neopedia : Usukicon Disaster!

Arriving early that morning, he paid the entrance fee, found his allotted space, and started setting up his table. The convention hall was filled with other collectors, sitting together and talking before the show. He kept to himself, diligently setting up his table.

He put down a tablecloth, making sure there'd been no stains added during the trip. He brought his own chair - the convention hall chairs were about as comfortable as a night in Eliv Thade's Mansion - and slipped his lunch box under the covered table... just out of sight.

Next, he put up his sign. Everyone brought a sign. He spent two weeks on it, making sure all the colours were right and all the words were spelled properly. He even had a little music box to play while people looked at his collection.

His collection...

He brought every one of them. He didn't collect the cheap ones - everyone in the convention would have one of those. No, he only collected the most rare, most expensive dolls. He spent hours bartering prices, but secretly knew he'd pay any cost to get what he wanted.

The cheerleader, Lost Desert, beautiful hair, the blushing bride, the prom queen, the mermaid... when he opened the little black box holding his peg-leg pirate captain, he carried it with the same care a mother carries a child. Delicately... softly... slowly... he placed the doll in its stand - he designed the stand himself - and put his little display sign in front of it. That was his prize... he was sure no one had seen it before. He spent weeks chasing down rumours of its existence. Finally, on a cold night, in the backroom of a shady shop, he made the trade. Now, it was his.

He just finished his booth when the doors opened and the fans rushed in. He ducked behind his table and beamed with pride. Little girls ran through the isles, looking at the tables, hoping to make a trade.

When they saw his table, they stopped. Their eyes and mouths were wide open. As they looked at his table, he felt pride growing in his chest. His smile was so wide it hurt his cheeks. Closing his eyes, he relished the moment. He was, indeed, the star of the show.

Then, they all started to laugh. He opened his eyes.

They'd started to point. He looked around, and then realized his mistake.

He pulled out the flier he'd tore down from the shop just yesterday and read it again.

"COME TO USUKICON!" the flier said. He gulped.

He looked down at his table, covered in Quigukis. Then, looking up at the little girls - he saw half of them laughing while the others had been completely grossed out by the slimy little things on his table. The gaggle of girls went away, still laughing.

He looked at the other conventioneers, snickering at his mistake. Slowly, he began packing up his Quigukis. This time, however, he wasn't nearly as careful. Plopping them down into his bag, he tore down his sign and began to pull the tablecloth.

He wasn't paying attention. At the edge of the table, his prized possession, the peg-leg pirate captain Quiguki began to slip. He jumped, but it was too late. It fell in slow motion, tumbling off the edge of the table toward the hard, stone floor.

Just then - at the very last minute - a little girl caught the Quiguki. He felt his heart start again. She put the Quiguki back on the table.

"It almost fell to the floor," she said.

He nodded, grabbing it from the table. "Yeah," he said. "So what?"

Putting the Quiguki back in its box, he was a little less careful than before.

"What's wrong?" she asked.

"I made a mistake," he said. "This isn't a Quiguki convention, it's an Usuki convention."

She shrugged. "What's wrong with that?"

He was finished packing. "Nobody here wants to see my dolls," he said. "They all think they're ugly."

Shrugging again, she said, "I don't think they're ugly."

He looked up, watching her. "You're trying to trick me," he said.

"No," she said, sitting on the table. "I think they're cute."

He stopped. "Really?"

She smiled and nodded. "Really."

Matching her smile, he said, "I know this shop,where they sell the best ones. Wanna go?"

She hopped off the table. "Okay!"

They shook hands. "Agreed," he said. They left together. The other kids were laughing at them, but they didn't hear it.