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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 19th day of Eating, Yr 23
The Neopian Times Week 71 > Short Stories > Black and White

Black and White

by cutiemew

Fourth Period. Neopian History. I sat at my desk, propping up my head with my paws. I imagine my cheeks were squished up, considering I could no longer see out of my right eye. Our teacher, a rather heavy-set Lenny (Have you ever seen a heavy Lenny? It's actually a pretty funny picture. They're usually paper-thin...) by the name of Mr. Deagle was droning on about something I should probably be taking notes on. Ah, I'd just borrow them from Andromoda after class.

     I suppose I should introduce myself before I go any further. My name is Brenen, I'm a silver Shoyru. One of the older pets in Neopia, as well. I think it's the human equivalent of a teenager, but I'm not sure. I've got three sisters, all three of which are in my history class. Astromic, now a red Kyrii and the family lab rat, was sitting in the back of class, so I couldn't see her, but knowing her she was probably checking to see her hair looks all right. Icering, a rainbow Acara, was also at the back and probably shooting spitballs at the pet unlucky enough to be sitting in front of her. Andromoda sat at her desk near the front, furiously scribbling notes on whatever it was Mr. Deagle was talking about.

     Andromoda was probably the only pet in the entire class paying attention; our minds were elsewhere, drifting to Meridell, Darigan and the war between them... the war that was supposed to start today. We were all anxious to get home and, as Icering had put it, "Kick some Darigan butt!"

     "Attention, teachers, students," the P.A. crackled over Mr. Deagle. Every pet in the class sat bolt upright, and even Felicity, a Cybunny and the most popular girl in our school, stopped applying lipstick to listen. I smirked. I don't think she realised it, but her lips were now half their usual pink colour, and half sparkly, cherry red. I turned my attention back to the loudspeaker as it continued.

     "Well, as you know, there's been quite a bit of tension in Neopia the past few weeks, and I--" the principal's voice was cut off by a 'thump' and someone in the background yelling "GET TO THE POINT, ALREADY!" There was some general grumbling, and giggles from the class, but the principal soon resumed. "The war has begun. Your owners have requested that you be dismissed early to go to recruit for the side your owner chooses and begin battle."

     Icering threw her paws in the air at this.

     "WHOO! Go Meridell! DARIGAN IS GOING DOWN!" she screamed. There was a general murmur of agreement among her classmates, but Mr. Deagle clicked his tongue and tapped the pointer on his desk.

     "Icering, don't speak out of turn." Before she could open her mouth to protest, the principal resumed.

     "We ask that all Students now be dismissed from class. There WILL be school tomorrow--" a unanimous moan and an "AWW, MAN!" from Icering and some of her friends "--But we will be having early dismissals until the war is over. That is all. Please leave the school in an orderly--"

     But that was about all we heard, as the students threw their paws in the air, giving a loud whoop before jumping over desks and pets alike to get to the door. I waited calmly at my desk, shoving my books in my bag and waiting until the classroom was more or less clear before leaving. Astromic waited with me--she also wanted to avoid the stampede, lest she break a nail or something equally ridiculous. Astromic was like that.

     When I got outside, Andromoda was waiting on the steps for Astromic and me. "Where's Ice?" I asked, after a casual wave of my paw. Andromoda tossed her head in Icering's general direction. She was with a couple of her friends, trying out Mic's skateboard. Mic was a shadowed Acara... one Ice had a crush on. But she'd graciously inform us that if any of us ever told him that, she'd personally bite our heads off. I ran down the steps of the school, over to Icering.

     "C'mon, Ice," I said, "We're gonna be late and have to wait FOREVER in the Meridell recruits line..." Icering tossed me a dirty look, but jumped off the board and handed it back to Mic.

     "Thanks," he said, "See you tomorrow?"

     "You bet," Ice responded with a nod, "Bring your shield, 'kay?" Mic nodded, and smiled at her, then put down the board and skated off down the street.

     "When you're done DROOLING..." I said, quietly. Icering grabbed my paw and was already dragging me off towards our house.

     "C'MON! We gotta go kick some evil Darigan behind!"



We got home shortly after that, all four of us, and unceremoniously burst through the door and into the living room. Cutie, our owner, was stretched out on the white sofa with the news on. Upon seeing us, she flicked off the TV and stood.

     "To the recruitment tents!" Icering declared, a single paw in the air. Cutie grinned. "I went while you were at school."

     Way to go. Save US the trouble of waiting in line. Geez, I love her...

     "My Shield!" Icering screamed, "GIMMEGIMMEGIMME!" Cutie laughed, ruffling Ice's hair, before wandering upstairs and returning with something clasped in her hands. She deposited the shields on the table and walked away. I scampered over to the table, a large grin plastered all over my face. The grin soon disappeared, though, when I spotted the shields.

     "These... are Darigan Shields..." I said, face faulting. "We're...we're fighting for DARIGAN?!" screamed Icering, outraged.

     Astromic wrinkled her nose up. "They're ugly!" she said in a rather whiny tone.

     "Not to mention evil..." added Andromoda, rolling her eyes. Cutie frowned.

     "They're not evil."

     "No," said Icering, her voice dripping sarcasm, "It's just that their interior decorator is related to Dr. Sloth..." Cutie folded her arms across her chest. She didn't really look angry, though.

     "The orb IS theirs, you guys."

     "No, it's not!" screamed Icering, "Meridell is using it! They NEED it! Haven't you been watching the news?! Don't you see what it was like?!" Ding Ding Ding. Score one for the Acara.

     "I'm not fighting for Darigan," she said stubbornly. Cutie shrugged.

     "Then don't. I never said any of you had to fight. I just support them."

     "Well I don't!" Icering exclaimed, before turning on her heel and stomping up the stairs to her room. Astromic followed, and then slowly Andromoda turned away and walked upstairs as well. Cutie looked at me pleadingly for a moment or two, then flopped on the sofa and flicked the TV back on. I watched her for a moment, then turned and walked upstairs.

     Honestly, though. How could she have chosen to side with Darigan? They were the BAD GUYS! I mean, you only needed to take one look at Meridell, then at Darigan to know what side was good and evil. So what was she trying to prove? Was this just another of her oddball quirky things, like her affinity with Dark Faeries and that kind of thing? But she hadn't liked Sloth, not at all... Hmm. I still don't get it. Meridell was the OBVIOUS choice, and I wanted to fight with THEM!

     After throwing a rubber bouncy ball against my wall for about a half an hour and thinking, not to mention Icering listening to her "music" (It sounded like a lot of drums, guitars, and pets screaming into microphones to me. But hey, it was better than Astromic's M*YNCI CD....) I sighed, and got up off my bed. I walked downstairs. Cutie was still on the couch. I prodded her foot gently to get her attention.

     "Can we go to the Battledome?" She flicked off the TV again and looked at me. "Thought you wanted to fight for Meridell?" She asked. I nodded. "I do. But points for Darigan are better than no points at all." She sighed and got to her feet. Walking to the foot of the stairs, she paused to grab her long, black jacket from the closet and then cupped her hands to her mouth, calling upstairs.

     "M'takin' Brenen to the Battledome! Don't burn the house down!" There was a pause, then,

     "Whatever," came the shouted reply from Icering, who then proceeded to crank the volume on her stereo up. Cutie turned to me.

     "Got your stuff?" I nodded. She grabbed her keys and walked out the door, holding it open for me. I walked through, sighing softly as she shut the door behind me and locked it.


Nine Morrises down. I took one look at the line-up for another fight and shook my head.

     "Ready to go?" Cutie asked. I nodded. That had certainly helped to let off some steam, though I'd much rather have been fighting those Darigan PetPets...

     "We'll stop by Faerieland on the way home. Visit the springs and the wheel of excitement. How does that sound?" I nodded, silently. Knowing Cutie, we'd also be dropping in on Thalia, one of her eccentric Dark Faerie friends. But whatever. I jammed my hands in my pockets, continuing along my way while staring at the ground.

     We got to the springs, and the Water Faerie there (Her name was Callisto) smiled at us and waved. Cutie and she were on good terms, what with Cutie being a Water Elemental. "Come for a bit of healing?" She said with a smile. Cutie nodded, and Callisto looked at me. Seeing the Darigan shield pinned to my lapel, she frowned.

     "Oh..." she said, sort of coldly, "You're supporting Darigan."

     "Yep," said Cutie promptly. Callisto frowned.

     "I don't usually heal Darigan warriors, but since you're a friend..."

     Hah, I thought as she begin to cast a spell, Even the Faeries are against us. And probably everybody at school would be too.


I walked into school the next morning, my shield in my back pocket. I couldn't help but notice the red and blue of the Meridell shields most of my peers wore. Boy, did I feel like the odd pet out. I survived the first two periods without being asked anything about the war. Astromic and Andromoda were acting as though nothing was happening, Icering sat in her desk and sulked, still completely enraged, and I was trying to play it cool. Probably failing miserably, but hey, that's beside the point.

     At lunch, I grabbed my lunch bag from my locker and scurried off to the cafeteria. Toltecoa wasn't there that day, so I decided to just sit with Icering and her friends. It wasn't long before Mic flopped down in a seat between Ice and me. "So where's your shield?" he asked Ice, proudly displaying his own Meridell one. Icering snarled at no one in particular and answered in a rather irate tone,

     "I didn't bring it." Mic blinked.

     "Why not?" she growled.

     "Because my OWNER decided to be her STUPID WEIRDO SELF and SIGN US UP WITH DARIGAN!" she literally screamed. The cafeteria fell silent. Everyone had heard her. I moaned and slammed my head down on the table. A few of the Grarrls and mutant pets applauded, but most pets turned to their neighbour and started whispering.

     "Eeeew!" I heard the familiar high-pitched squeal of Felicity. "You guys sided with those slimy grease balls?!" she asked. I heard Astromic stammer a reply, something about her have nothing to do with it. I moaned loudly and stood up, walking outside to go and be alone. It felt just like walking the scaffold, pets turning to look at me and whispering to each other behind their paws. Geez, why don't you all just say it to my face?!

     I stormed outside, and walked around to behind the school in the field. I flopped down on the grass and folded my arms across my chest. Why did she have to go and choose to side with THEM?! Now everyone would think I was weird or something... Or dark or evil or siding with Dr. Sloth... eugh... How could Cutie DO this to me?!

     "Brennie?" a voice curiously called. I jumped and looked around, to see Aphorio walking towards me. She was a silver Grundo, the pet of Cutie's friend Merc.

     "Hi Aph," I said dully. She flopped down next to me.

     "What's wrong?" she asked.

     "Cutie sided with Darigan," I said, staring at my feet and sulking.

     There was an awkward silence.

     "...Oh. Merc was gonna, but she chose Meridell."

     That was it. "EVERYONE chose Meridell, Aph!! But no, SHE had to go and be weird and pick Darigan, and Now I'M suffering because of it! It's not FAIR!" Aphorio awkwardly patted my back, but I shrugged her off. I didn't want any sympathy.

     "M'sorry, Bren." Or pity, come to think of it. I stood and jammed my hands in my pockets.

     "Where're you going?" she asked curiously.

     "Away," I said simply and walked off.

     "Suit yourself," said Aph with a shrug and continued munching on her sandwich.


A few weeks had passed since the battle started. We'd since stopped going to the Battledome. Heck, we didn't really go anywhere, but Cutie usually left to go help out at the Darigan infirmary while the rest of us stayed at home. Things weren't much better at school; We were the vast minority. Some really patriotic kid had even picked a fight with Icering. She'd promptly started clawing his eyes out, but he was far stronger than her. Mic had showed up and taken him down, earning himself a solid two months of detention, but he said he didn't mind. Only thing that was different was that more or less none of us were talking to Cutie, except for when we absolutely had to. She didn't really seem to care, though. Hmph.

     My attitude on Darigan really hadn't changed. Or at least until that day. I was sitting on the couch, watching the Neopian news, when a report about Darigan came on. I watched, intrigued, as the news reporter went on. "And it seems, ladies and gentlemen, that King Skarl actually did STEAL the orb from Lord Darigan; Literally. Perhaps its our dear Meridellian king that has wronged Lord Darigan. The 'Staffers' advise you not to be so hasty when choosing sides." I flicked off the TV, and wondered where the term "staffers" came from. All I knew is that "staffers" were more or less in control of everything.

     Dismissing the thought, I jumped off the couch, a grin spreading across my face. We were on the right side after all! Haha! I ran off to go tell Icering, bounding up the stairs... And bumping smack into Cutie. She blinked and looked down at me. "Where're you going in such a hurry?" she asked. I looked up at her and blinked.

     She HAD picked the right side, I realised The orb had been Darigan's to begin with, not Meridell. They had stolen it. But then again, she hadn't known that to begin with. She stared at me, but I held my tongue. I don't think I had yet forgiven her for the torment the pets at school had put me through. She eventually shrugged and brushed past me, walking downstairs. I watched her leave, but said nothing and ran up the stairs to tell Ice.

     "I don't care," she said after I told her the news. I blinked.

     "What's that mean?"

     "Just what it sounds like," She said coldly, "Meridell is still the good side, anyone with half a brain knows that, Bren."

     "But," I started, then sighed. I shook my head and left. I knew how stubborn she was, there was really no point. ...Besides... Maybe she was right...


The next day, as I watched the morning news, I almost choked on my mouthful of super-sugary-chocolate-coated Neoflakes. They were giving you... A chance to change sides? That meant...

     "WEGOTTAJOINWITHMERIDELLCUTIE YOU GOTTA CHAAANGE!" Ice screamed as Cutie walked into the room, still half asleep.

     "...Nyeh?" Was all she said, save some incomprehensible noises that certainly weren't Neopian. Eventually, she managed to decipher what Icering was trying to say.

     "You really wanna switch sides?" said Cutie. Icering nodded vigorously. Cutie sighed.

     "Well, I guess..."

     "NO!" I yelled, cutting her off. Everyone turned to look at me. "Cutie was right! King Skarl stole the orb, it belongs to Lord Darigan!"

     "Brenen..." said Cutie softly. Icering opened her mouth to say something, but I caught her,

     "No! It's not their fault they look like that, they used to be just like Meridell! THEY'RE the ones that are right, and I'm siding with Lord Darigan!" I screamed. I grabbed my coat and schoolbag and ran out the door, leaving them standing there with mouths agape.


When I got to school, the first thing I noticed was the significant amount of people who had already jumped ship--from Meridell to Darigan. I also noticed a lot less people were tossing me dirty looks in the halls. But I didn't really care, from the people glaring or the people smiling. I just wanted to get to class.

     I waited outside for class to start, Icering and the others standing a few feet away from me and giving me the cold shoulder.

     "Ice!" I heard someone call. I turned to see Mic, running towards her and waving one paw in the air.

     "Look Ice," he said, "My owner changed sides to Darigan!" Her jaw dropped.

     "Tha-that's... GREAT!" she said. I tossed her a look that could kill and then turned, but not before I was certain she'd seen it. I just couldn't believe her, sometimes...


When the bell rang, I hurriedly stood, grabbed my bag and shuffled outside.

     I was eager to get home and grab a bite to eat, maybe see what Cutie had gotten from the advent calendar.

     "Bren!" came a voice. I turned around to see Icering running towards me.

     "What?" I snapped, still bitter from earlier.

     "Uh... I'm... Sorry. About earlier. You were right," she said, "I guess things aren't always black and white. Forgive?"

     I smiled.

     "Of course." Ice grinned.

     "Good. And guess what?! Mic thought that the Darigan guys were good this whole time! I could just DIE!"

     "Mm," I said, continuing on my way home, "You sound like Astromic."

     "Take that back!"

     "Nuh-uh! You gotta catch me first!" I responded, laughing and breaking into a run.

The End

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