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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 3rd day of Celebrating, Yr 23
The Neopian Times Week 147 > Short Stories > Just Like You

Just Like You

by mrs_fluff

Excitement hovered in the air as the two Battledomers faced each other. The fire Wocky and the green Nimmo were each glaring at each other, each set on being victorious, like prehistoric beasts. A crowd was gathered around the arena, breathlessly watching the staring contest and waiting for the first move to be made.

     Then, slowly, the Wocky drew his Golden Wocky Blade and brought it out in front of him. The Nimmo brought out his Sturdy Blue Sword. And at exactly the same time, the two lunged at each other.

     The crowd exploded into shouts and noise as the two began to have an action packed sword fight, the metal clinking and flashing in the glowing lights of the arena. The agile pets leaped back and forth wildly, striking and blocking, but neither inflicting any damage on their opponent.

     Suddenly, there was a loud clash as the Wocky knocked the sword from the Nimmo's hands. The weapon went skidding across the floor, leaving a dent in the ground. The Nimmo was about to leap after it, but with a strong blow, the Wocky knocked him to the ground. The audience was hushed as the furry Neopet stood over the Nimmo, his flaming tail swishing. The Wocky raised his blade, and-

     "Okay! Okay! I give up, you win!" the Nimmo cried out, covering his face with his hands. "Please, let me go! You were too strong for me."

     There was a long moment of stillness and silence. Then, the Wocky lowered his weapon and stepped away from his cowering opponent. He turned to look at everyone in the crowd, then bowed. Thundering applause greeted him. He came out of his bow, smiled, and stepped out of the arena.

     Outside of the arena, the crowd rushed to meet him. He turned down all autograph requests and walked onwards, until he was out of the throng. As he was taking a deep breath, he saw two other Neopets approaching him: a Kyrii and a Kougra. They ran up to him and slapped him on the back.

     "Zuro!" the Kougra cried. "That was a good fight back there!"

     "Yeah, Zuro, you sure showed that guy who was boss," the Kyrii said with a grin.

     "Thanks, guys," said Zuro, sliding his Golden Wocky Blade back into its sheath. "Another day, another Battledome fight. But I was going easy on that guy, as you probably know. A Sturdy Blue Sword? C'mon, he was a joke! I'm hoping for a better fight tomorrow."

     "What, aren't you going to stay and fight some more today?" asked the Kyrii, surprised.

     "Nah," Zuro mumbled. "I have to go home. I'll see you two tomorrow, though!" Then, with his friends waving to him, he strode out of the Battledome and down the street.

*******************************

"He was really a weakling, I must tell you. I've seen much stronger Nimmos, so I was expecting more. I mean, the battle was over in about 10 seconds. Honestly."

     It was suppertime, and Zuro was seated around the dining table with his owner and little brother, recounting his battle of the morning while stuffing Omelette into his face.

     "Man, you shoulda seen the look on his face when I knocked him to the ground," he continued pridefully. "It was great."

     His little brother, Arzi, looked at him in adoration. The little blue Techo looked up to his big brother and all of his daring feats, and regarded Zuro as a hero. "That's really cool, Zuro," he said admiringly. "I wish I could have been there. You do so many great things."

     "Uh... sure," Zuro muttered.

     "I wish I could fight, just like you," his brother went on. "That would be great."

     Zuro rolled his eyes. Arzi was constantly complimenting him, and though he was sort of glad to be a role model for his little brother, it got quite annoying.

     Their owner, a girl named Lea, finished off a bite of Omelette and spoke up. "Hey Zuro, why don't you take your little brother to the Battledome tomorrow?"

     Both of the pets' eyes popped open.

     "Oh, that would be awesome!" squealed Arzi. "I could fight, just like my brother! And you would cheer me on, right Zuro?"

     Zuro sat there in shock. He was a semi-famous Battledomer, with quite a few friends and admirers he had met through battling. His reputation would plummet if he was seen babysitting his little brother at the Battledome! He was about to protest, but then he saw that Arzi's face was full of joy and happiness. "Fine," he grumbled. Then he added hopefully, "But, Arzi doesn't have any weapons. He can't go to the 'Dome without weapons!"

     Arzi looked crestfallen, but Lea said, "Well, you have all those old weapons you don't use anymore, Zuro. Arzi can use a few of those."

     The younger brother perked back up, and the older one sighed. "Okay," Zuro said. "We'll go tomorrow." He shook his head, knowing he was going to regret this decision.

*******************************

The next morning, Zuro walked into the Battledome embarrassed, walking a few strides ahead of his brother and hoping no one would notice that they were together. However, his plan was not working since Arzi kept waving his borrowed Sword of Domar in the air and yelling, "Zuro! Wait up!"

     The Fire Wocky tried to ignore his brother as he headed towards an empty arena to look for a fight. But before he got there, Arzi caught up and began pulling on his tail, saying, "Zuro! Aren't you going to help me find someone to battle with?"

     Zuro sighed. He just wanted to have an exciting day in the Battledome, with no one tagging along. He was glad he had seen none of his friends or fans yet.

     "Um..." Zuro mumbled, but then a plan to ditch his brother formed in his head. "Sure."

     The two pets walked onwards through the Battledome crowd. Zuro kept an eye out for any pet who looked like they were ready for a battle. Finally, he saw a weak-looking yellow Poogle sitting against the wall bored, with his cheap weapons sprawled out in front of him.

     "C'mon, Arzi, here's a competitor for you," Zuro said, leading his brother towards the Poogle. When they reached him, the Poogle looked up.

     "Hey, would you mind fighting my little brother? He's a first-timer out looking for an opponent," Zuro asked him.

     The Poogle stared, then said in a squeaky voice, "Okay, but I'm warning you! I'm tougher than I look. I've got a few surprises up my sleeve, you know. Are you sure you want to fight me?"

     Arzi looked a little worried, but Zuro grinned and whispered to his brother, "It's okay. Look at him! I'm sure he's just bluffing. Go fight him, and you'll surely win!"

     "Okay, I'll fight you," Arzi told the Poogle.

     "Great!" the Poogle replied. "Now, come with me. I know an arena that no one's fighting in right now, and we can make use of it." The three pets walked over to the arena. Arzi and the Poogle entered the ring, and almost instantly a crowd began to develop around the arena. Zuro quickly slid out of this large group of Neopets and owners, and began to run away. He stopped and smiled when he had gone about 100 yards away. He had officially lost his little brother.

     As for Arzi, his battle was starting. As the Poogle glared at him menacingly, he looked out into the crowd and called, "Root for me, Zuro!" But Zuro did not answer back. Zuro was nowhere to be seen. Just hundreds of expectant, watching eyes staring at him....

*******************************

Zuro forgot all about his brother for the next few hours. He won battle after battle, with his Golden Wocky Blade at his side. He seemed to love that weapon more than Arzi.

     The Fire Wocky emerged out of the arena after his fifth battle of the day, in which he had completely wiped out a Koi. Like usual, the battle's audience greeted him and cheered for him. The Wocky spotted his two friends coming up to him. "Were have you two been all day?" he asked them, and they began to walk together away from the crowd.

     The Kyrii laughed, giving him a high five. "We were watching other pets get creamed. It's fun, you know."

     "Yeah," chuckled the Kougra. "Remember that Elephante and the Lupe?"

     "Oh yeah!" laughed the Kyrii. "Now, THAT battle had some surprises. And remember the Techo and the Poogle?" Zuro's friends exchanged glances, and then burst into hysteric laughter.

     Zuro was stunned as he remembered about his little brother, and who he had been fighting. "What Techo?"

     The Kougra calmed down in a few seconds and said, "Oh, some shrimpy, weak little kid. I don't know what he was doing in the Battledome. All he had was one weapon, some kind of thin little sword. Anyway, he got into a fight with this Poogle. In fact, I think I saw you in the crowd for this fight, but you ran off for some reason! Anyway, the Poogle was using all these weak weapons. And then, the Poogle whipped out a few really rare, powerful items, and just PUMMELED that Techo! It was awesome!"

     "Yeah, I actually talked to that Poogle after the battle," chuckled the Kyrii. "He said that's his strategy. He fools people by making them think he's weak at first, and then SURPRISE! Out comes the heavy arsenal!"

     "You should've seen that Techo groan. Oh man, he was beat up. He's going to be sore for weeks!" the Kougra howled.

     Zuro was silent. He dropped his Golden Wocky Blade, where it landed with a clank. "Did you see where that Techo went?" he asked.

     "Oh, he didn't GO anywhere," the Kougra said, and the Kyrii started to crack up. "He was in no shape to do that. He was carried out by a few pets. I think they took him to the NeoHospital."

     Zuro took off running as fast as his legs could take him towards the Battledome exit. His two friends stared after him, and his blade lay glimmering on the ground.

*******************************

Zuro burst in through the doors of the NeoHospital, panting wildly. He found himself in the carpeted waiting room. The waiting pets and the red Acara receptionist were staring at him. He limped over to the reception desk, clutching at the cramp in his side.

     "Do you need to see a doctor, sir?" asked the Acara in an alarmed tone.

     "No, I just ran all the way here from the Battledome!" growled the Wocky. "I came to see my brother. Was a blue Techo brought in here earlier?"

     "Yes," the Acara said. "He was pretty bruised and scraped up. If you'd like to see him, he's in the second room to the right down that hallway." She pointed to some double doors.

     "Thanks," Zuro said, and he walked painfully through the doors, down the hall, and into the room he was instructed to. When he entered the small white room, an awful site met him. His brother was sitting in a large, plastic chair, with his feet in a tub of warm water. He had bandages thickly wrapped around his arms, legs, and tail, and smaller bandages were taped onto assorted places on his body. He had a black eye and other bruises, and looked like the personification of devastation.

     Zuro's eyes opened wide, and he rushed to his brother's side. "Arzi! Arzi! Are you okay?" he cried.

     Arzi looked up at him. "Brother!" he said weakly. "You came! I just knew you would. We got separated before the fight, but I know you've been looking for me."

     Zuro looked into his brother's eyes, the impact of his choice to ditch his brother hitting him in the face. "Are you feeling okay?"

     The Techo shrugged weakly. "I hurt pretty bad, but I'm feeling a lot better. A nice Meerca and Blumaroo took me in here. The doctor fixed me right up and said he'd bill my owner. I've just been waiting for you here, since I don't think I can make it home by myself. But I knew you'd come!"

     "Hey, I'm sorry. I feel bad about what happened. Really bad," Zuro said.

     "Don't feel sorry!" exclaimed Arzi. "That Poogle was tough, and tricky as well. You probably could've beaten him with ease, though. You're such a wonderful fighter!"

     "But Arzi, you don't know what I do at the Battledome! It's not like I'm defeating evil or... or saving Meridell or anything! I'm beating people for no good reason except for my own pride, okay? I'm not the wonderful big brother you think I am! In fact, I'm a pretty bad one," Zuro shouted, then he turned away from his brother, hiding the ashamed look on his face. It took a while for his brother to reply.

     "Zuro," Arzi said at last, a tear rolling down his scaly cheek, "I can't pretend anymore. I didn't think you would come to find me, after all. I know you left me on purpose, and you were hoping you wouldn't see me again all day. Why, Zuro? You've always been my hero. If you didn't want me there, you could have just told me..."

     Zuro bit his lip, trying not to look at Arzi. But he heard the Techo's soft voice: "Zuro, I always wanted to be just like you, that's all. But now, I guess I really don't. I thought you cared. I seriously did. I... I really guess I shouldn't have tricked myself into thinking that."

     "I'm sorry," Zuro muttered to the wall, his voice quivery. "Arzi, please forgive me." He turned back to the poor, beaten Techo in the chair. Zuro's eyes were red, and at last he cried a single tear. "I'm truly sorry, Arzi. I promise I won't leave you ever again."

     The corners of Arzi's mouth curled up in the tiniest sliver of a smile. "It's okay. I forgive you. Just like in battle, Zuro," he said, "you always pull through in the end."

The End

Author's Note: I do not claim to hate or have anything against Wockies; in fact I like them a lot! They're my favorite pet and I obsess over them, but I just tried one out in the prideful-selfish-bad-guy-who-turns-good position here ^_^ As always, your comments on this story are appreciated. Thanks for reading! ~Fluff

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