"AAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!" Lassie awoke screaming.
"Bad dream," the Grundo muttered, half-asleep himself.
"You're not the first one."
But it wasn't just Lassie who was afraid. Within five seconds almost everyone
was screaming, because five Lupes had broken into the Pound. Lassie caught a
glimpse of them, and could hear what they were saying.
"Which one is she in?" a big silver Lupe asked a red one.
"I'm not sure," it replied.
"She said she was red," answered another Lupe "We'll find her."
Red? Lassie thought for a minute. "I'm red," she whispered to Philosophy.
"No duh," he replied.
Lassie's heart stopped beating for a second when the giant silver Lupe peered
into her cage. "You," he said, "what is your name?"
"L-l-l-assie," she stuttered.
With a mighty paw, the Lupe broke the cage door open. Lassie didn't know what
to do, or who to follow. She saw the Pound guards approaching... she'd have
to make a decision fast.
"Don't worry about me!" Philosophy said. "I'll be all right here--I couldn't
keep up with you. Go--now!"
It was hysteria. All of the pets, most of them very young, were yelling and
crying. She saw herself in each of the pets, remembering...
"I'll take that red puppy," came a voice. Lassie saw hands reach for her in her
cage. She whimpered.
"She'll come for me!" Lassie exclaimed feebly. She barked, but it sounded
more like a squeak. "Go away! She never meant to leave me! She'll come back!"
But the girl was understanding. "It's all right, I'll take care of you--"
"NO! Lily will come back... she will..."
Lily never came back. But Lassie wouldn't be alone forever. Two days later,
someone else came.
"I want a pet that will be a good Battledome champion," said a boy to the
Uni in charge of adopting. "Fiesty... and strong."
"You want her," said the Uni, unlocking Lassie's cage and reaching in.
"Fiesty and strong--could start her own war one day," she said.
"I want to stay! She'll come back!" Lassie said feebly. She was still less
than two weeks old, and was still clinging to the fact that her owner still
loved her. She didn't want to believe otherwise.
"She's upset because she was disowned," the Uni said sympathetically. "Don't
worry, Lassie, you'll be fine... be happy you're leaving here. Not all pets
are as lucky as you..."
Be happy you're leaving here; that's what the Uni had said. Should she go?
The last time didn't work out. She had been sent back. But a few days-- a few
hours--it was nothing compared to Philosophy's stay. He could have been in there
for months, and might be in there forever... what could she do?
"Philosophy!" she yelled. "You have to come!" There was no reply, and the
giant Lupe hadn't lost sight of her. But she was more agile and swift. She dodged
out the Pound door and ran. Maybe Philosophy had escaped... but Lassie couldn't
think. She ran until she was at least a mile away, and she sat down to catch
her breath. She had no clue where she was, and she felt horrible for leaving
Philosophy behind. Until--
"Hi," said a voice behind her.
"Philosophy?" she asked quietly, not daring to believe it. Her voice was quivering,
and she didn't dare turn around. "Is that you?"
"My name is Lightfoot," came the response.
Lassie turned around and saw a red Lupe like her. "You're not Philosophy,"
she said, almost crying. She felt stupid to think he could have followed her.
She should have waited for him...
"Philosophy?" the Lupe asked suddenly. "Who's that?"
"A blue Grundo at the Pound. 'PhilosophyPhreak2_0' is what I think he said
his name was," Lassie replied. "Why do you want to know? Will he be all right?"
"Is he a friend of yours?" Lightfoot asked.
"He was at the Pound with me," she said quietly. "Said he missed his family...
I wanted to help him..."
"He'll be fine," said Lightfoot. Was he leading her into a trap? "Come with
"Listen, I don't know who you are, or where you're from," she said, "but I
just want to find some place safe to hide. I don't know what's going to happen
"You're in luck," said Lightfoot, "for I do. I'm the fastest of the wild Lupes
You, like us, have no family. Join us. We can help you."
"Who's 'us'?" she asked.
"The wild Lupes. We save Lupes like you from Chias--"
At the word "Chia," Lassie looked like she was going to cry again. "Everything
was fine before that Chia came along," she whimpered. "I hate Chias. Neopets
would be better off without them. I'd be better off without Neopets. What good
have they done to me? I can't ever go back now. The Chias are after me. What
do they want?"
Lightfoot said nothing, but soon a girl approached them. Lightfoot whispered
something to her, and the girl nodded and turned to Lassie.
"Hi," she said.
"Hey," Lassie said, confused, "you were that customer from my shop! How did
you find me? What do you want?"
"I--" she paused. "Lassie, I helped warn those Lupes so that you could escape."
The Lupe brightened. "You helped me? You--you cared about me?"
"Of course I do," the girl replied. "Hundreds of Lupes do, too, Lassie. We
had to get you out of Neopia before they got you. Silverclaw will explain it
all when you get to--well, read this." She handed Lassie a piece of paper.
"A note?" she asked. "'Dear Lassie,'" she read, "'we've heard about your problem.
Meet us in the Haunted Woods tonight.' What does it mean?" she looked up.
No one was there. Lightfoot and the girl were gone.
"Wait a minute," she murmured, "the Haunted Woods... oh no!" she gasped. "My
To be continued...