It didn’t take long for Zarrelian to warm up to his new
friend. The Ixi delighted in observing Morton, scribbling down notes on his
behavior patterns, and playing with him.
Every day, he would come home from school and
immediately run up to his room to play with the little Mortad, who, on a diet
of all this love and attention, was growing quite rapidly. Killerflurry was
quite happy. Zarrelian was actually working hard at something that he cared
about. The Lupe was having a great time with the project, every day at school;
Zarrelian would download tons of information about the little Mortad. Important
bits of information like his favorite foods, how he reacted to different climates
and temperatures, and even things that had absolutely no relevance at all, such
as Morton’s favorite colors and music. Mr. Bronston was also quite pleased;
the Draik was finally beginning to see something in the Ixi other than a prison
uniform. The only person who wasn’t ecstatic about the way things were turning
out was Webbleflub, Zarrelian’s crimson-feathered Mallard.
Zarrelian was giving Morton all of the attention,
and completely ignoring the poor Mallard. Webbleflub hated Morton for it. Every
night, after Zarrelian had gone to sleep… (First he would read Morton a bedtime
story, give him a hug, and wrap him up in a blanket) ?Webbleflub would hop up
onto the desk and just sit there in front of the Mortad’s jar, just staring
at him all night long. It crept Morton out.
One evening, Webbleflub decided to put a stop
to Morton once and for all. He approached the Mortad’s jar with something clamped
in his beak, a full can of Neocola! The Mallard raised his head, ruffled his
blazing red feathers, and brought the can down onto the jar with a tremendous
Zarrelian awoke with a start, glancing around
the room. When the Ixi saw the smashed jar, he shrieked and dashed down, sobbing.
"No! Morton, I hardly knew you!" He stopped.
"Oh wait, you’re still fine. Well, I guess you were getting a tad big for the
jar anyway… Heehee, ‘Tad’! I made a pun!" Giggling insanely, Zarrelian grabbed
Webbleflub’s tank and dumped the contents out, filling it with water and pond
weed. The Mallard screeched indignantly as the Ixi gently placed Morton in the
tank, where he began to swim happily around the tank, exploring his new space.
Webbleflub growled and stalked off, resolving to spend the evening with his
best friend, C.C. (Mordegan’s Warf).
Zarrelian sighed happily as he watched Morton
paddle around his new pool. He wasn’t really a Mortad, anymore, either. He was
a full-fledged Mortog! The Ixi grinned. It was almost morning, anyway, so he
decided that he might as well just stay up for the remainder of the night and
take notes on the Mortog. He rummaged through his knapsack for a minute before
pulling out a pad of note paper and a pencil He dragged one of the swivel chairs
in front of Morton’s tank and grinned, his pencil poised over the paper, ready
to take notes on the Mortog.
"Let’s see… He’s sleeping, better write that
down." He quickly scribbled it down. "Still sleeping, I should write that too.
Still sleeping… Still sleeping… Still… Slee… Ping… Arghgahammmph." With a loud
yawn, Zarrelian kneeled over on his desk and fell asleep with his head on the
hard, finely polished wood.
Zarrelian awoke the next morning with a splitting headache. It could’ve been
from his lack of sleep, but it was more likely due to the fact that he had fallen
asleep using his pencil sharpener as a pillow. Even so, the Ixi leapt excitedly
up and aroused Morton, grinning.
"Rise and shine, Sleepy warts! We’ve got to
go to school now, remember? Tonight’s the Science fair, and I just know that
we’re going to win. I mean, me, you AND Killerflurry."
Zarrelian reached out to grab Morton’s tank by
the sides, and, staggering under its immense weight, stumbled out of the room.
The Ixi decided to skip breakfast so that he could get to school as fast as
possible. He practically ran down the dusty brown path towards the Neopian Neoschool,
the water in Morton’s tank splashing against the glass sides with every step.
Finally, Zarrelian reached the school and managed to totter up the stairs to
his classroom. Mr. Bronston glanced up and caught sight of Zarrelian, upon seeing
the huge Mortog, the Draik chuckled and ruffled Zarrelian’s hair.
"Well Zarrelian, looks like you do have some
purpose on this world other than turning my hair gray." He self-consciously
smoothed back the single plume of hair that poked boldly out of his head. Zarrelian,
panting due to the unbearable mass of Morton’s tank, managed to gasp out a quick,
Killerflurry grinned and galloped over to Zarrelian.
"Wow, Zarrel! The Mortog looks great. You have the notes?"
The Ixi nodded and carefully placed Morton’s
tank on the Lupe’s desk, reaching into his knapsack and drawing out his notes.
"Yeah, they’re all here," he replied.
"Thanks Zarrel, I’ll get to work right away."
Killerflurry pulled the poster board out of his desk and immediately began transferring
Zarrelian’s notes to the poster. The Ixi yawned and rested his aching head on
Killerflurry’s desk, wearily watching the Lupe’s pencil as it swirled all over
the page. He smiled. Soon the project would be finished, and he could relax.
Soon Morton would be at the Science Fair, impressing the judges with his adorable
nature and charming all the spectators. Soon, either he or Killerflurry would
be administering the final part of the project to the little Mortog, the final
stage of the Mortog life cycle. The…
KISS OF DEATH!
Zarrelian jumped up in horror and shouted, "No!
You can’t do it! I won’t let you!"
All heads in the classroom instantly turned to
the Ixi. Zarrelian whimpered.
"You can’t kiss Morton, Flurry! What if he explodes?"
The Lupe dismissed the Ixi’s comment with a flick
of his pencil. "All in the name of science, Zarrel. We have to get a good mark
on this project, remember?"
"But—But… I don’t want Morton to explode!"
Mr. Bronston rolled his eyes. He had seen this
kind of behavior before, and he knew the best way to deal with it. He threw
a claw around the Ixi’s quivering shoulders and adopted a very unnatural, kind
"Now Zarrel, the project outline sheet says
that part of the experiment is performing the kiss on the Mortog, right? Right.
And without a complete project, you fail. Correct? And, if you fail, then you
don’t win the science fair, which means that I won’t win the science fair, and
that isn’t a good thing. UNDERSTOOD?"
Zarrelian sniffled. "Yes, sir."
The Draik patted Zarrelian on the back. "Good!
Now, I’ll see you at the Science Fair later this evening, and be sure to bring
that lovely little Mortog."
Killerflurry sighed. Zarrelian whimpered. Morton
croaked. Zarrelian smiled through his tears.
"Aww, did you hear that? His first words!"
To be continued...