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A New Friend


by kyrinn

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Kaerhas was bored. The blue Bori sat on the living room floor, absentmindedly picking at the fraying threads of a Headless Von Roo Plushie. With a sigh, the young Neopet stood up, the jingly bell tied to his tail ringing musically, and headed into the kitchen with the vague idea of searching for something edible.

    Halfway through poking around in the empty cupboards, Kaerhas heard the doorbell ring. His boredom melted away faster than a Brucicle in the Lost Desert, and the Bori made a dash for the front door to greet his owner.

    “Kyrinn! You’re back!” Kaerhas called out happily as he rounded the corner and the door came into view. A teenage human girl stepped through the doorway, accompanied by a warm summer breeze. Kaerhas could see the black night sky behind her, twinkling with stars. Somewhat awkwardly closing the door with her foot (her arms were laden with grocery bags), Kyrinn shook back her short, dark hair and greeted her excited pet with equal enthusiasm.

    “Yup, I’m back!” Kyrinn handed Kaerhas one of the bags. “And I heard about a lost city on Mystery Island, Geraptiku, I think it was called. I’m going to go explore it tomorrow! Are you coming with me?”

    Kaerhas bounded into the kitchen after his owner, his bell ringing madly. “Actually, Kyrinn, I’ve been thinking,” Kaerhas called over the din of his owner tossing random foodstuffs into the cupboards and refrigerator. The Bori ducked as a can of Achyfi went flying haphazardly past his ears and continued speaking, unperturbed. “You know how you’re always gone a lot, when you’re exploring? I get really bored at home.”

    “Yeah?” Kyrinn answered, prompting Kaerhas to continue.

    “Well, I kind of want a Petpet. I mean, I like all the books and toys you got me, but they get a little boring after a while….” Kaerhas gave his owner a pleading look.

    “Of course we can get you a Petpet!” Kyrinn said cheerfully. She grabbed a pan and started making dinner.

    Kaerhas’ ears perked up as he bounced around his owner. “Really?”

    “Well, yeah. It must get pretty boring at home by yourself. I guess I should try to stay home a bit more….” Kyrinn paused in her cooking, then shrugged. “But in the meantime, what Petpet do you want?”

    Kaerhas picked up a Petpet catalogue from the table and leafed through it. “I’m not sure. I’ve been looking through this, and I saw several ones that I liked, but I just can’t decide!”

    “That’s okay,” Kyrinn replied, looking nearly as excited as her hyperactive pet. “It’ll be like a quest! We can travel to different lands, brave storms on Terror Mountain, explore Altador, take a ship to Mystery Island….” Kyrinn had a tendency to term even the smallest task a “quest,” and the eccentric owner lived for completing such quests.

    Kaerhas listened as Kyrinn rattled on about the adventures they’d have, the dangers they’d run into, the magnificent battles they’d fight, and so on with increasing excitement. “When do we go?” he demanded.

    Kyrinn grinned. “Tomorrow, we leave at dawn to begin our new quest: Find the Perfect Petpet!”

* * * *

    Kaerhas bounded out of bed the next morning, leapt into the bathroom, splashed cold water on his face, and jumped down the stairs. The Bori found Kyrinn curled up in a squishy armchair in the living room, sipping a cup of snowberry tea and reading the comics page of the Neopian Times. Not looking up from her newspaper (nothing could distract her while she was reading), Kyrinn gestured to the kitchen. Kaerhas took the hint and went to the table to find his breakfast of toast waiting for him.

    After he bolted down the food, Kaerhas went back into the living room, only pausing to tie his bell to its usual place on the tip of his tail. Kyrinn looked up and grinned cheekily at her pet. Setting down her newspaper, she gulped down the rest of her tea. “Ready to go?”

    “Yes!” Kaerhas followed his owner to the door, and the two of them stepped out of their Neohome and onto the streets of Neopia Central.

    It was still early, so Kaerhas and Kyrinn met few people. The sun was not even over the horizon, but it was bright and in the east, the sky was a light pink color. Kyrinn really wasn’t kidding about starting at dawn, Kaerhas thought. I hope the store’s open. Kyrinn had decided that they would start at the Petpet Shop in Neopia Central, since that was the closest. The two passed the Book Shop and the Kadoatery, where the noisy Petpets were already screaming and wailing. Kaerhas winced.

    “I know I don’t want one of those,” Kaerhas raised his voice to be heard over the racket.

    “They’re too expensive, anyway,” Kyrinn answered.

    Kaerhas and Kyrinn reached the Petpet Shop after a short walk. Kyrinn pushed open the door to be greeted by a cheerful “Hello! Can I help you?” said by an equally cheerful Usul.

    Despite the early hour, everything was up and running. The Usul shopkeeper was extremely helpful and happy to see potential customers, and while his owner explained their mission to the shopkeeper, Kaerhas wandered around the shelves examining the Petpets.

    The Bori picked up a Warf, giggling as another one snuck up behind him and batted playfully at his tail, amusing itself with the jingly bell. Kaerhas made a few rounds through the shop, carefully evaluating each Petpet.

    Eventually Kaerhas went back the counter at the front of the shop. He had a whole hoard of curious Petpets following along behind him, but the Bori was empty-handed.

    “You didn’t find one you wanted?” Kyrinn asked, pausing her conversation with the shopkeeper. Kaerhas shook his head.

    “They’re all nice, but I just didn’t find one that was…right for me,” Kaerhas explained.

    Kyrinn smiled, grabbing her pet by the paw. “Don’t worry, we’ve got plenty of time to search. Thanks for all your help,” she called back to the Usul as they exited the store.

    “Where to now?” Kaerhas asked eagerly, skipping down the street at the side of his owner. Kyrinn looked down at a small piece of paper on which she had written a list of places.

    “We could go to Ye Olde Petpets in Meridell,” Kyrinn suggested. “It’ll be a bit of a walk though.”

    “Cool, let’s go!” The Bori hopped around in excitement. “And let’s play a few rounds of Ultimate Bullseye while we’re there!”

    “Remember, it’ll be quite a while before we actually get to Meridell,” Kyrinn reminded.

    Kyrinn’s words proved true: it was long past noon by the time they finally got to Meridell. Kaerhas was so hungry by that time that even the potatoes and gruel they bought at the food shop tasted good.

    “This ‘adventuring’ stuff isn’t as easy as it sounds,” Kaerhas mumbled with a full mouth. Kyrinn scoffed.

    “Of course not,” she answered. “It would hardly be any fun if it was.”

    Kaerhas and his owner made their way to Ye Olde Petpets after lunch. The Ixi shopkeeper greeted them and led the two to the Petpets, chatting to Kyrinn and trying to persuade her to make a purchase while Kaerhas looked at all the Whinnys, Turtums, and Symols gathered around him.

    Kaerhas went back to his owner a few minutes later, looking slightly disheartened. Kyrinn wasn’t altogether too surprised when her Bori announced that he had found no Petpet that he wanted. Bidding the disappointed-looking shopkeeper goodbye, Kyrinn and Kaerhas left to find an inn where they could stay the night.

* * * *

    Over the next week, Kaerhas and Kyrinn traveled all over Neopia. The pair of them went to the Haunted Woods, the Rock Pool on Mystery Island, the Little Nippers Petpet shop on Krawk Island, even going as far as to visit Maraqua. The result was always the same: Kaerhas left the shop without finding any Petpet that he particularly liked.

    “Don’t worry about it,” Kyrinn reassured her Bori, who was getting more and more discouraged by the day. “We’ll find one soon.”

    Kaerhas smiled at the encouragement, but the truth was, they were fast running out of Petpet stores that they had yet to visit. The Bori really did want a Petpet, but he also wanted to make sure he had exactly the right one.

    “In any case, we’ll be going to the Virtupets Space Station tomorrow,” Kyrinn announced. “You can look around the RoboPet Shop there.”

    Kaerhas cheered up immensely at the prospect of exploring the Space Station and hopped off to bed, his good mood restored. Kyrinn smiled, watching the Bori go upstairs, then picked up a book and settled down in her armchair.

* * * *

    Kaerhas may have slept soundly, but hundreds of miles away on the Space Station, another Neopet was experiencing a very different night. Chaelian rolled over on his tiny metal cot, trying to find a comfortable position and get to sleep. The Xweetok knew that, tomorrow being Saturday, the RoboPet Shop would have a busy day, filled to the capacity with pets and their broken robot Petpets. And, as usual, he would be the one stuck fixing all of those broken Petpets while the Grundo shopkeeper was busy selling more of the little robots.

    Chaelian had been employed at the RoboPets shop for quite some time now. The owner had hired him after discovering the Xweetok’s skill at engineering and mechanics, so now it was Chaelian’s job to make repairs on any Petpets that needed repairing, as well as helping in keeping the shop tidy and occasionally taking over as shopkeeper if the Grundo was sick or had something else to attend to. In exchange, Chaelian got room and board at the Virtupets Space Station.

    Sighing, the Xweetok returned from his memories and stretched, then got out of bed. As he dropped onto the floor, he made a loud thunk on the floor. Chaelian paused, hoping he didn’t wake anyone. He heard no sound save for the snoring from the Grundo next door, so he relaxed and turned on a small lamp. The light gleamed on his left foreleg, which was made of metal. The Xweetok stretched out his prosthetic leg, then retrieved a book from his table, curled up on a hard, rickety chair, and started to read.

    Chaelian was woken abruptly by a loud banging on his door. A Grundo’s voice shouted at him from the other side.

    “Chaelian! You’re wanted at the RoboPet Shop!”

    Chaelian groaned, realizing he’d fallen asleep while reading. The Xweetok checked the clock by his bedside.

    “You jerk, you’ve woken me an hour too early!” Chaelian yelled back through the metal door. He heard giggling as the Grundo scampered away.

    Realizing he wouldn’t be able to fall asleep again, Chaelian decided to go to the shop early. Yawning, he went into the tiny bathroom in his room and quickly brushed his teeth and washed his face. Shaking the water from his green and brown fur, the Xweetok left his room.

    The loudspeaker was already booming messages across the Space Station, effectively waking up anyone who was still abed. Chaelian clapped his paws over his ears out of habit as the loudspeaker announced, “Looking for the best Virtupet weapons? Check out the Weapons store today!”

    The door to the RoboPet Shop opened just as Chaelian reached it and a green Grundo stepped out. He looked slightly surprised to see the Xweetok.

    “Oh, good, Chaelian. I was just about to go look for you,” the Grundo ushered Chaelian into the shop. “Glad you’re here early. We’ve got a busy day.”

    Sure enough, no sooner had Chaelian settled down into his workroom than a distraught Aisha showed up, carrying a flashing, slightly squashed-looking Cuttlebot. Chaelian took the Petpet to the workroom and called over a Screwtop. Taking a screwdriver from the Screwtop’s toolkit, the Xweetok began making repairs.

    By the time the Petpet was fixed, there was already a queue at the door of the Robopet Shop and a pile of broken Petpets awaiting Chaelian’s attention. Returning the Cuttlebot to its grateful owner, Chaelian took a Cybit from the pile and started reattaching its arm.

    The Petpets from the shop clustered around Chaelian. They knew and liked him, and, in turn, the Xweetok loved the playful little robots. Once in a while, the shopkeeper would go into the workroom to check up on Chaelian, or to pick up a Petpet for a potential customer.

    “Just like every other day, isn’t it, Neji?” Chaelian murmured softly to a Griefer as he petted it. Neji chirped happily and bumped into Chaelian’s paw. The little Griefer was Chaelian’s favorite of all the Petpets in the shop, and the Xweetok was slowly saving up his Neopoints, hoping that he’d be able to buy Neji for himself someday. The Grundo shopkeeper had obligingly reserved the Petpet for Chaelian.

    The Xweetok returned to his work. However, the words he had spoken to the Griefer came back to him, and he couldn’t help but feel a certain restlessness, a desire for something other than seeing metal walls all around him and harried Grundos rushing by. Chaelian loved the Space Station, but he wanted something new, a change of some sort. “I’ve been here for too long,” he realized.

    “Hey! Chaelian! Stop daydreaming and get back to work!”

    Realizing that he’d been sitting motionless for quite some time now, lost in his thoughts, Chaelian shook his head and returned to sorting out the wires in the Millipod he was holding.

* * * *

    “Hey! Check out that weird machine! Isn’t it cool? I wonder what it does!”

    Kyrinn smiled to herself as Kaerhas ran around the Space Station in excitement. She was glad that her pet was back to normal; she hated seeing anyone depressed, especially Kaerhas. Kyrinn put a gentle but firm hand on the Bori’s shoulder to keep him from running off.

    “Come on, Kaerhas, we can explore this place later,” Kyrinn remonstrated. In fact, the teenager was itching to look around the Space Station herself. It had changed quite a bit since she had been here last. Still, better to complete their mission before they forgot it in the prospect of exploration. “We’re going to the RoboPet Shop, remember?”

    “Oh yeah! Let’s go!” Kaerhas bounded off again, startling a couple of orange Grundos walking by.

    Kaerhas and Kyrinn had taken a shuttle up to the Virtupets Space Station that morning. After grabbing a quick bite to eat at Grundo’s, the two were now heading toward the Petpet store. Kyrinn hoped that Kaerhas would finally find a suitable Petpet, although given the way things had been going the past week, the chances weren’t that good. She shrugged. Well, there wasn’t much use worrying about it; something was sure to turn up.

    “Look, there it is!” Kaerhas found the RoboPet Shop easily and pointed it out to his owner. It was lunch hour, so only a few pets were hanging around the small store. Judging by the conversations Kaerhas overheard, it seemed that they were waiting for the repairs to be finished on their Petpets.

    Upon entering the shop, Kyrinn was immediately accosted by the Grundo shopkeeper. Kaerhas went to explore the shop, leaving his owner to listen to the green Grundo’s explanations of the technology and advantages of robot Petpets. Stepping over the Rotawheels and Wains, the Bori noticed a slightly open door near the back of the shop. Curiosity overcame him, and he went over to investigate.

* * * *

    Kyrinn edged away from a large tank containing a Chomper that seemed intent on biting her through the glass. The Grundo next to her was still reciting the different parts that were used to build the RoboPets and didn’t seem liable to stop anytime soon.

    Looking up, the girl realized that her Bori had disappeared. Now where did he go? Kyrinn wondered, scanning the room. A slight flash of blue from behind a door at the back of the shop and the sound of a jingly bell announced Kaerhas’ presence. Kyrinn checked a sigh and turned to the Grundo.

    “Excuse me, Mr. Grundo, but I believe—”

    Kyrinn was interrupted by an indignant “Hey, what do you think you’re doing!?” and a loud crashing and clattering sound. Not a moment later, Kaerhas came bounding out of the room, dragging a green Xweetok with a metal arm behind him.

    “Now wait just a—” the shopkeeper began, but was cut off by Kaerhas.

    “Can we keep him?” the Bori asked eagerly. Kyrinn coughed.

    “Um, Kaerhas…that’s a Xweetok, not a Petpet.”

    “Oh.” Kaerhas looked disappointed, then brightened. “Then let’s adopt him!”

    The Grundo shopkeeper protested. “Hold it! You can’t just take off with my assistant like this….”

    Kyrinn spoke over the Grundo. “Kaerhas, we can’t take a random Neopet home with us just like that. I mean, if he wanted to come, I’d have no problem with it, but….”

    “I want to.”

    Chaelian’s quiet voice cut through the turmoil. Everyone turned and stared at him, but the Xweetok didn’t care. This was the chance he’d been waiting for; this was a chance for a new life! The hyperactive and cheerful Bori intrigued him; Kaerhas was both friendly and likable, and the girl seemed like a nice enough owner. Chaelian wasn’t about to miss this opportunity.

    “I’ll go with you,” Chaelian spoke more loudly this time. The Grundo spluttered in confusion.

    “B-but…what about….”

    “I’ll still come to work every day. I’ll work really hard, and I won’t be late….” Chaelian pleaded with his employer, but in his eyes was a strong determined look: the look of a Xweetok who would clearly not give up easily. The Grundo recognized that look and remembered the young Xweetok who had come to the shop years ago, begging for a job. He sighed.

    “Fine. You’d better be here tomorrow, 8:00 sharp!”

    Kaerhas cheered and pounced on his new friend. Kyrinn smiled, seeing the two, knowing that her Bori wouldn’t be lonely anymore, and went with the Grundo shopkeeper to settle the matter. Kaerhas had come to the Space Station in hopes of finding a Petpet, but now he left it with a new brother.

* * * *

    And so Kaerhas found a new friend to keep him company, and Chaelian found a new home and (for most of the time) got along fine with Kaerhas. Kyrinn went back to her adventuring, once in a while stopping by to check up on her two pets, and everyone lived happily and in relative peace, with the possible exception of the Peophin incident. But that, of course, is another story.

The End

 
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