Where there's a Weewoo, there's a way Circulation: 125,893,067 Issue: 254 | 25th day of Hiding, Y8
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Needed Adventure: Part One


by tdyans

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This is a sequel to "Needed" and "Needed Too." You shouldn't need to read those series in order to understand this one, but you will probably appreciate it more if you do.

Dantam ambled up to the cauldron-shaped little cottage and scratched on the familiar wooden door. "Just a minute!" a warm voice called from inside. Dantam smiled and sniffed at the flowers that were blossoming all around the doorstep while he waited. Finally, the door swung open, releasing the smell of fresh, hot soup out into the sunny afternoon. The Soup Faerie looked down at the shadow-coloured Gelert who stood patiently before her. "Ah, Dantam," she said, reaching down to scratch her friend's head. "Please come in."

     Dantam followed her into the cozy home and curled up on a worn but comfortable yellow armchair. The faerie sat down across from him. "The pair of pets I sent on soup duty yesterday said that you wanted to see me about something," he began.

     "Yes, well, it's a bit hard to explain, but there's someone I'd like you to meet-- someone who I was hoping you could take in."

     "A homeless Neopet? Of course-- why would that be any problem?"

     "Well no, not exactly. He's not a Neopet. He's a petpet."

     "Oh." Dantam's brow wrinkled a little.

     "His owners dumped him off here about a week ago, and I've been trying to figure out just what to do with him ever since--"

     "They just 'dumped him off?' Well, that's unusual. I mean, petpets are worth quite a few Neopoints. Was it a behavioral problem, maybe? Chewing on things, or wetting the floor, or--"

     "Well--"

     "Most certainly not!" an indignant voice piped up from the back of the Soup Faerie's cottage, and a small whoot came flying out to land beside Dantam on the arm of the yellow chair.

     Dantam's long, curling ears twitched as he glanced curiously at the whoot and then turned his gaze to the back of the cottage. "Who said that?"

     "Ahem." Dantam's eyes flew back down to the whoot as the same voice spoke up from right beside him. The whoot did a little bow. "That would be me," he said, his small beak clacking as he opened and closed it with the words.

     Dantam started a little from his seat and his mouth fell open. He looked back and forth between the whoot and the Soup Faerie before he finally settled on the faerie and exclaimed, "He can talk?"

     Before the Soup Faerie could give any answer, the whoot fluttered up to the top of the armchair and spoke in his dignified voice. "And why not? Oh, I know it's not exactly 'normal' for my kind. But when a self-respecting petpet is left cooped up all day in a library full of books that his 'owner' will never bother to read because she's always off slobbering and mindlessly fighting and whatever else you Neopets do.... Well, what else is that petpet to do but to teach himself to read and to speak?"

     "Well... nothing else, I suppose," Dantam replied, feeling a bit flabbergasted still by the fact that a whoot was talking to him, let alone that it had just given him such a speech. "Still, you're quite amazing."

     "Hmph," the whoot huffed, crossing his claws and hopping back down to the arm of the chair so that he was face to face with the Gelert again. "Well, that's not the way my former 'owner' saw it. The night I decided to reveal my talent-- the result of all of my training and effort-- I was deemed a 'freak' and quickly dropped on the doorstep of this kind faerie." He waved a claw at the Soup Faerie, who smiled a little at the quirky petpet.

     "I guess that's where I come in," Dantam said. "Well, there are lots of Neopets at the junkyard who'd love to have a petpet, talking or no, I'm sure. And then when I find a home for your new owner, you'd--"

     "No owners!" the whoot interrupted him.

     "Er... no owners?"

     "That's right. I wish to procure a place in this junkyard of yours, but on one condition only: I belong to no one. I assure you that I can pull my own weight--"

     Dantam couldn't help but chuckle, holding a paw up beside the tiny whoot's head to show his small stature. "You sure about that?"

     The whoot ruffled his feathers and glared at the Gelert until Dantam pulled his paw back and smiled apologetically. Clearing his throat, the petpet began again. "All I ask is that I'm free to be my own fellow, to do my share and receive my share just like any of your tenants, and that you give me the respect you'd offer to anyone else." He paused and looked up at Dantam, a bit of a pleading look seeping through his insistent dignity. "Is it a deal?"

     "Hmmm," Dantam mused, putting a paw to his chin and pretending to be deep in thought. Finally, he grinned and engulfed the whoot's outstretched claw in his paw and shook. "It's a deal."

     "Excellent! We'd best be on our way then," the whoot said crisply, his confidence making a full reappearance. He turned to the Soup Faerie and bowed. "My thanks to you, madam, for your kindness and service to me."

     "It was no problem at all," the Soup Faerie answered. "You'll have to come back to visit me from time to time. You too, of course, Dantam-- I expect you to be on the next soup duty!" she said as she opened the door to let the two of them out.

     "Of course, I wouldn't miss it," Dantam answered. "Things have just been so busy lately."

     "Oh, I understand," the Soup Faerie answered with a knowing smile, and with that she closed the door and the Gelert and whoot headed down the path away from her little home.

     "So," Dantam said, "if you're going to be living with us, I guess I need to know what to call you."

     "Well, my 'owner' blessed me with the ingenious appellation of... Whooter." Dantam tried to hide a grin and the whoot coughed. "But I've been thinking of changing it to something more dignified.... Archimedes, perhaps."

     Dantam opened his mouth to respond when, suddenly, a cry from above stopped him. "Dantam!" The Gelert and whoot looked up in unison just in time to see a plump green Pteri come falling down from the sky to land in a heap in front of them.

     "Dantam!" the Pteri spoke between pants as he pulled himself to his feet. "I-- came-- as fast-- as I could!"

     "Tago, what is it? What's going on?"

     "Allegra sent me... She told me-- to tell you--"

     "Tell me what, Tago?!" Dantam exclaimed, pacing back and forth with nervous energy as the whoot looked on between the two Neopets, confused. "What?!"

     "She said--" The Pteri drew in a deep breath and then let it whoosh out with the words: "It's time!"

     In the next second, a flash of black fur shot past the Pteri with a call of, "Thanks, Tago! Take a rest!" Tago gladly accepted the order and flopped back onto the ground with a sigh.

     The whoot looked first at the shadow Gelert who was already streaking toward the western edge of Neopia Central, then to the panting pile of green feathers, and finally back to Dantam again. "Hey there! Wait for me, remember?" he cried out as he flew as fast as his small wings would carry him after the excited Gelert, who showed no signs of slowing. "What in the world is going on anyway? Time for what?"

     ***

     By the time Dantam slid to a stop in front of the junkyard entrance, the whoot had given up on asking questions and was just concentrating on keeping up. "Allegra!" Dantam called out to a motherly-looking blue Lenny who waited at the gate for him. "What's happening? Is Tessa all right?"

     Allegra nodded, reaching out her wing to offer Dantam a comforting pat on the shoulder. "Yes, Tessa's all right, Dantam. They're all all right.... Congratulations-- Daddy."

     "Daddy!" Dantam and the whoot exclaimed at the same time as a smile curled across Allegra's beak. Without another word, Dantam was off again, charging into the junkyard, through the maze of discarded items and toward the center, where he and the other homeless pets that he took in lived.

     Once there, he turned toward a cave that had been formed in the side of a junk pile on the edge of the encampment-- the cave in which Cap, the old Skeith who had run the junkyard before Dantam, had lived. Dantam and Tessa had moved in once they'd realized they'd soon be needing the extra space, and it had quickly come to feel like home. But now Dantam found himself approaching the entrance with apprehension. He stuck his head in and called out quietly, "Tessa?"

     "Come on, Dantam. You're not going to hang around out there forever, are you?" Tessa's gently-laughing voice rang warmly through the cave. That was all it took for Dantam to overcome his misgivings. He slowly walked inside, his eyes widening in awe at the sight before him. Tessa smiled. "Meet your new family."

     Three tiny Gelert puppies-- barely more than small balls of fluff-- lay nestled against her side, snuffling and whimpering lightly as they slept. Two of the pups looked just like Tessa, with baby blue fur splattered with white cloud patches. Then there was the third. "He looks just like me!"

     "Well, almost just like you," Tessa said with a nod. Dantam bent his head down so that it was level with the puppies. He caught a glimpse of a small white birthmark on the pup's chest as he raised one front paw in his sleep to bat at his father's nose.

     Dantam pulled away with a quiet chuckle and the pup settled back into his dreams. "Wow," he whispered.

     "Yeah," Tessa agreed with a radiant smile.

     Dantam turned to her, his eyes shining, and nuzzled her lovingly before he looked back at the cave's entrance. There stood Allegra and the tiny whoot, peering in at them. Dantam smiled at his old friend. "Allegra, thank you for being here to help Tessa these past few weeks."

     "Oh, it was my pleasure, Dantam, you know that. Sometimes it's nice to see this old junkyard again... although I'll be looking forward to getting back home to Sullivan."

     Dantam nodded and then turned his grin to the whoot, who seemed to have been struck speechless. "Well, it looks like you're not the only new arrival to the junkyard today, Whooter."

     Without even removing his mesmerized gaze from the sight of the puppies, the whoot cleared his throat. "That's Archimedes."

     Dantam rolled his eyes but couldn't help the smile that lit up his face.

    ***

     "Whooter, have you finished counting yet?" Tessa asked, staring at the chart that lay on the ground between her paws.

     "Yes," came the voice of the little whoot as he fluttered over to her, a pencil held in his claw. He jotted a few things down on the chart with a dramatic flourish. "There you are," he said. "Plenty of meats, vegetables, and breads to last us through the summer.... We could do with a few more fruits, though, I suppose."

     "Hmmm, well, we could send a team to the edge of the forest tomorrow to collect some wild berries. They should be just about ripe by now."

     "An excellent idea! Why, I-- Ooph!" Whooter was cut short as he found himself thrown to the ground. He looked up to see just what he expected: a tiny white patch of fur surrounded by black. "Enzo!" he wheezed.

     "Hey, Whooter!" the Gelert pup said, offering a sloppy lick to the whoot's feathery face. As Whooter sputtered and spat, Enzo leapt off his chest and trotted away, wagging his long, curling tail tauntingly as he disappeared over a mound of garbage. His sisters, with their twin cloud-patterned coats, giggled in unison and then scrambled after him.

     Whooter stood to his feet and brushed the dust from himself, his feathers standing on end as he scowled after the mischievous pups. He looked to Tessa, who was struggling to stifle her own laughter behind a cloud-colored paw. "Madam?" he said, with a courteous bow.

     "Go on-- teach him a lesson," Tessa answered with a wink. "We're done for now." As the whoot gave another bow and flew off after her pups, she finally gave way and let her laughter ring out through the junkyard.

     "Get back here, you scamp!" Whooter called out as he spotted Enzo running among the piles of junk, his sisters-- ever inseparable-- tagging after him.

     The truth was, the whoot adored the three Gelert pups whose first day in Neopia he had been a witness to-- even and especially the most mischievous one. "Come and get me, Whooter!" Enzo called out. The name "Archimedes" had fallen by the wayside because "Whooter" was easier for the pups to pronounce. The whoot still insisted vehemently to anyone who would listen that he was a free petpet, that he had no owner, and they all nodded in agreement. But everyone in the junkyard knew that his heart belonged to those pups.

     "I've got you!" the normally reserved whoot exclaimed with glee as he dove down at the shadow-colored pup, knocking him over lightly. Enzo flew head over heels through the dust, but jumped right back to his feet and sprang at the whoot. "Whoa there!" Whooter cried and fluttered away, just out of the pup's reach. "You're almost bigger than me now, Enzo!" he exclaimed, landing tiredly on the ground with the implicit understanding that their game was over. "You're either going to have to stop growing or start playing a bit gentler with me."

     "I can't stop growing, Whooter! I wanna be big and strong, just like my dad!"

     "Daddy's not that big and strong, Enzo," little Costa said.

     "Yeah," said Stella, who was always in agreement with her sister. "Uncle Feruli's way bigger and stronger than Daddy!" she pointed out, referring to the big Eyrie who, along with his constant companion, Silviana the Zafara, visited the junkyard often nowadays to see his adopted nieces and nephew.

     "Nuh-uh!" Enzo insisted as he hopped around, crouching and batting at imaginary enemies. "Dad could take 'im!"

     "No, he couldn't," Costa said in her matter-of-fact voice. "Uncle Feruli's so big he can carry Aunt Silviana on his back all the time!"

     "Yeah," Stella piped up, "and he's so strong he could stop a wagon, remember?"

     Enzo's brow furrowed, and he opened his mouth to reply, but Whooter hopped up between the brother and sisters. "I'm afraid your sisters are right, Enzo. But not to worry-- brawn isn't everything you know. Why, it's just as the great Neopian philosopher Acarastotle always said--"

     "Oh, Whooter." The three Gelert pups groaned and rolled their eyes in unison, recognizing the start of one of the whoot's infamous lectures.

     Whooter continued, unfazed, but he knew he had no hope of holding the pups' attentions when Stella looked toward the entrance to the junkyard and suddenly exclaimed, "Daddy!" All three pups went running toward the gate, and Whooter, with a sigh, cut his speech short and went flying after them.

To be continued...

 
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