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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 1st day of Running, Yr 23
The Neopian Times Week 31 > Short Stories > The Perfect Gift

The Perfect Gift

by alkuna

Note from the author: All of this happened at the end of Year 2. We are still friends with the person mentioned and she did indeed give Alkuna back to us. Also, I didn't buy my Lupe back. The owner who gave her back never asked for money. I gave her the items and the NP because I was grateful.

Hi again, it's me, Mercolagos. Anyway, to refresh memories, I am a blue Gelert and I live with my owner Al'Kuna, and the Lupe named after her, Alkuna. Now there are two new members of the group. But you'll hear about them in a little while.

We had come a long way since I had joined the family. We had lots of NP in the bank thanks to all our hard work in the Games area of Neopia's mainland. Careful spending made sure that we had plenty by the time the holidays arrived. It was Christmas Eve when it all started. Everyone was really excited because our owner had hinted that she got us all something very special. Vhai, a red Poogle and the youngest of the group, LaCody, a red Gelert who is sort of an adopted younger sister, and Alkuna and I had trouble sleeping that night. We stayed up late, whispering to each other and wondering what our owner had gotten for us. But we eventually drifted off to sleep. The next morning, we jumped up bright and early and raced into the front room of our house. Our owner smiled and handed us each a chocolate treat and milk for breakfast. This excited us, because we rarely got to eat junk food so early in the day.

When we had finished, Al'Kuna began handing out presents. I eagerly tore open my first present and was astounded to see a faerie in a jar. The others gave excited squeals as they too opened their presents. We had each gotten a complete set of faeries to give us abilities. I opened all the jars and gave a little dance as I was blessed with all six abilities. LaCody and Alkuna were excitedly testing out their abilities. I turned to see how little Vhai was doing.

He was staring at a Dark Faerie and crying. The faerie shook her head at him and flew off. "It's not fair!" he cried, "One level short! Just one level…"

Poor little guy. He was the youngest of the group, and only at level one. He was really a smart little Poogle, just not experienced.

Al'Kuna walked over and hugged him, "Awww, don't cry Vhai. Look, I've just got a few underwater map pieces left to go. When I turn them in, everyone will go up two levels. Then you can open the rest of your faerie jars. I'll buy you another Dark Faerie."

On New Year's Eve, we took a trip in a submarine down to Maraqua to turn in the underwater map pieces. Al'Kuna put the last map piece in place and smiled at all of us, "Ready?"

"Ready!" we all shouted.

Al'Kuna pushed the button under the board. The map pieces glowed, and then vanished. Golden light filtered into the room and surrounded us. I grew in size just a little bit and felt myself becoming stronger. Growling playfully, I strutted over to Alkuna and shoved her with my shoulder. She of course, out weighed me and was a lot stronger, but she staggered, putting on a comical look and acting as if I had knocked her senseless. LaCody laughed and pounced on me, growling and acting tough. We rolled across the floor, wrestling and yapping and having a great time. Little Vhai, wanting in on the fun, charged in.

He tackled Alkuna, which was amusing to see: a little Poogle wrestling with a powerful Lupe Alkuna played along, rolling over on her back and letting him pin her.

Al'Kuna smiled and knelt down. "OK Vhai, let's have you open your jars."

We all watched, smiling, as each faerie blessed Vhai. As the last faerie vanished with a little *poof*, Vhai did a dance of joy and raced over to get a hug from Al'Kuna. As she put him down, she turned to us.

"OK guys, here's your New Years Eve treat." She pulled out a bag of Neopoints and handed them to Alkuna. "There's 800 NP in there, that's 200 for each of you, remember that. You can spend it however you like, but make sure it's EVEN. No one gets ignored, all right?" She turned to the rest of us, "Alkuna is the leader tonight boys and girls. Stay together and stay safe. If you don't think you can get home alone tonight, call me and I'll pick you up."

We nodded solemnly. Al'Kuna was trusting us, and we wanted to be able to walk around on our own more often. All four of us celebrated, eating delicious dinners, dancing and just having fun. When we started getting tired, we headed for home. Unfortunately, we had to travel through the Spooky Forest to get there. LaCody and I exchanged glances. Vhai's teeth were chattering and Alkuna was growling softly. Finally she said to us, "Come on, keep together, stay on the path… and we should be OK."

I was grateful for our new abilities of night vision, because it was almost pitch black. LaCody kept twitching and looking around at the glowing red eyes that stared at us. Nothing bothered us at first, but trouble hit just as we were leaving the forest. There was a rushing sound, and suddenly a weighted net dropped from the trees and covered Alkuna. Alkuna struggled, but couldn't break free any more than we could pull it off of her. She stopped and looked at each of us, "Merc, I can't get out. Go get Al'Kuna, as fast as your legs can carry you. LaCody, Vhai, hide. Whoever built this trap will probably come and check on it soon. You guys have to stay with me, so if I'm taken, you can tell them where we are…" Al'Kuna's voice faded as I turned and raced home as fast as my slender legs could carry me.

I found out later that a short time after I left, someone came crashing out of the underbrush and found Alkuna. "Bah," the stranger snarled, "Another stupid pet. I try to catch faeries and all I get is a mangy looking mutt of a Lupe."

"Balthazar," LaCody whispered to Vhai as they crouched in a hiding place,

"He captures faeries. Maybe he'll let Alkuna go."

"Well hello there…" Balthazar bent down and found the sack with the remaining Neopoints in it. Balthazar grinned wickedly, "Well well, 120 Neopoints. Enough to dump you where you won't bother me, and enough to get a drink for me." He peered through the net and laughed even more unpleasantly, "YOU! The pathetic annoying Lupe that almost beat me! Oh the irony of this is just too pleasing! Now to pay you back for those bruises you gave me!"

Vhai jumped to his feet angrily, but LaCody stopped him. "Vhai, we can't fight Balthazar. He can put a magical faerie in a jar. What do you think he'll do to us?"

"But that's Merc's money! And Alkuna can't go to the pound! Someone'll take her! It's not fair!"

LaCody quickly hushed him and hugged him reassuringly. "We'll get Alkuna free, don't worry." To herself, LaCody thought, ~Hurry Merc, hurry…~

Alkuna in a net… That image burned in my mind as I charged through bushes and mud, then lunged though the pet door of our home and practically threw myself at a shocked Al'Kuna.

"Alkuna…" I panted, exhausted, "Spooky Forest…trap…hurry…" She was on her feet immediately and we raced back to the Spooky forest. We searched frantically for several minutes before hearing barking and howling far away.

My ears perked up, "That's LaCody! I know her voice anywhere. Come on!" I could feel my heart sink as we ran. We were heading in a bad direction. I knew where we were. We were heading for the Adoption Agency, better known as the Pound. The thought of Alkuna in one of those tiny cages made me want to howl.

LaCody was pacing outside the doors, whimpering and scratching at it. Vhai was shouting, "It's not fair! Give her back you big meanie!" at the top of his lungs.

We raced up to the doors just as they were shoved roughly open by the kidnapper himself. LaCody howled and raced into the building to locate Alkuna. Vhai, a little ball of puppy fury, jumped on Balthazar yelling and biting anything he could get his teeth into. We all heard LaCody's howl, "She's gone! Somebody took her!" I looked up and saw the scariest thing in my entire life. Al'Kuna's face went through grief and anger, wobbling between the two before settling of absolute fury. In two strides, she covered the distance between herself and the unfortunate Balthazar. Vhai glanced up, saw her, and bailed ship just as Al'Kuna reached him,

"HOW COULD YOU?!" she yelled at him.

*WHAM!!* *POW!*

Balthazar landed unconscious on the ground.

"Wow!" Little Vhai squeaked, "I didn't know you knew Karate!"

Al'Kuna dusted her hands off and walked through the doors of the Agency, "It comes in handy sometimes."

Mrs. Worley shook his head at Al'Kuna, "I'm sorry, but it's against our policy to hand out the names of people who adopt from us. If your display outside is anything to go on, that Lupe is better off elsewhere. Those other pets probably would be too."

All three of us turned as one and snarled at her. With great effort, Al'Kuna straightened and turned away from the stern lady,

"I see. Thank you for nothing."

The next four days were an agony. We searched desperately for Alkuna. No one had seen her. Several friends joined in the search attempt. Al'Kuna grew listless as time wore on. Several times I saw her crying. I knew how she felt. It wasn't too likely that anyone would be kind enough to give up a NeoPet they had spent so much money for. The odds were pretty bad.

SilverBlur and his owner walked into a drink shop to buy a treat. He doubted very much that this would cheer him up, considering that his girlfriend, Alkuna, was missing. Silver's tail hung low and he just sighed and looked around the shop, not paying much attention to the tempting looking slushies. He glanced at a sign posted on the wall and nearly crashed into a display in shock, "Alkuna!"

There, on the sign, was Alkuna's picture and the words, "Found: Blue, level five, female Lupe Goes by the name Alkuna. Contact manager for more details."

SilverBlur bounded over to his owner and half tackled her, "Alkuna! She's here! Look at the notice!" He half dragged her across the store to where the sign was posted. The storekeeper, an elf of some sort, looked up at them then at the sign, and then slipped into the back of the store. A few minutes later, a younger human walked out and smiled.

"Hi, I'm the manager of this store. Little Dude said that you know this Lupe?"

Silverblur's owner nodded, "She's my friend's first NeoPet." Silver growled softly and his owner amended, "My friend's first NeoPet, and SilverBlur's girlfriend."

"Better," Silver snorted, then headed toward the back of the store to see if Alkuna was there.

The store manager blocked his path, "Whoa there, tall and furry. I am not convinced that you know her."

Before SilverBlur could get in a really foul mood, she turned toward the back of the store and whistled, "Alkuna, come here please." Alkuna trotted into sight, froze, and then charged across the floor to Silver. Both were laughing and crying and hugging each other.

The manager smiled kindly, walked over to the store's till and withdrew a fistful of NP. "OK, you've convinced me. Come on, we'll both go to the Adoption Agency and trade off. Might as well make it official."

Silver's owner accessed Al'Kuna's bank account and withdrew enough money to adopt Alkuna. In just a few minutes, Alkuna belonged to her family once again.

"Come on," she smiled at them, "Let's get you home." All the while on the path to our home, Alkuna and Silver talked earnestly. SilverBlur wanted to go to the scene of Alkuna's kidnapping so he could get Balthazar's scent and add a little damage of his own.

Al'Kuna answered the door and stared at Alkuna for only a second before dropping to her knees and hugging her Lupe tightly. The rest of us were no less dramatic in our greeting her.

When she had composed herself a little, Al'Kuna asked her friend to show her the store where Alkuna had been. We talked to the store owner and found that she had cared for Alkuna very well, feeding and grooming her. The story came out that Alkuna had been taken by another person, but had dumped her back in the pound a few days later when Alkuna had first begged, then demanded to be let go. Then the store manager had found Alkuna, taken her in and cleaned her up. When she had heard Alkuna's story, she decided to put notices up everywhere.

Al'Kuna talked with the store manager, wanting to pay her back for the money she had spent taking care of Alkuna. As soon as they had settled on a price, Al'Kuna promptly bought the most expensive slushies to give to all of us, which totaled up to more than twice what the store owner had paid. Then she gave the store owner two codestones to help train her other pets.

"Oh my gosh, thank you!" She stared at them, knowing full well how expensive they were.

Al'Kuna smiled at her, "Hey, my chances of ever getting Alkuna back were very slim. She is worth much more to me than what you asked for. These codestones are nothing."

She smiled at me, "Oh no Merc, you all proved to be perfectly capable of working things out on your own. You all did a wonderful job that night. All you need is a little more training so you can fight when you need to. If you are willing to train hard, you can go out on your own again." She knelt in front of me and scratched me behind the ears, "Maybe if you guys get strong enough, you can go out individually on your own. What do you think?"

I grinned at her. Behind me, I heard LaCody bark, "Well then let's start training! I'm ready, how about you?"

"Yeah, I wanna be the one to beat up that Meanie the next time I see him!"

Vhai shadowboxed an all out brawl that he planned to do to Balthazar. "Let's show him he can't mess with the Al'Kuna pack!" Alkuna bared her teeth.

I couldn't agree more. We had a new, and very good friend, and we were all together again. It was the perfect gift.

The End

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