Mr. Fluffikens leaned against the glass tower, breathing
heavily. The sense of danger danced through the air around him so much that even
now, at a moment of rest, he could barely keep from feeling as tense as a piece
"You're mine now, Fluffikens!"
Mr. Fluffikens growled, his tail waving about
stiffly. The smart thing to do would be to run, but that had never been a suitable
option for him. Now the Lupe glanced over to the right, past the glass tower,
where a long, ominous shadow was approaching. He knew exactly who that shadow
"It's no good, Dr. Crumblebum," he called over
to the shadow. "You'll never take me alive!"
"Is that so," a high-pitched, whining voice
replied. "Well then, I'll just have to take you... milk-ified!"
"Milk-ified? You sure you're old enough for that
kind of stuff, sis?"
Neega looked up with a wide grin, letting the
two crackers she had been holding drop back onto the table. The kitchen she
was sitting in looked strange when compared with the battlefield she had previously
been describing, but the Neopet-shaped crackers had nothing on the sight of
her older Lupe brother, Connor.
"Of course I am, big bro!" Neega stood up on
her back legs so that she could see properly over the table, and watched Connor
as he opened their purple fridge and examined its contents. "I'm not a baby,
Connor didn't turn around, but she knew that
he was smiling. "That's funny- last time I checked, that's just what you were!"
Neega giggled, like she always did when they
shared their joke. He was right, of course. She was a baby Gnorbu, and probably
too young for the horrors of cracker-based battles. But playing with her crackers
had always been more fun than eating them, and the fun shapes they came in were
really too wonderful to resist.
"Connor," Neega said excitedly, "can we play
with your action figures once I'm done with lunch? You said we would yesterday!"
Now Connor turned around with a guilty expression
on his face, a look which always seemed somewhat odd on his heroic Tyrannian
face. He took a bite out of the meaty Chia treat he was holding, not meeting
Neega's eyes. "Aw, sis, I know I promised, but-"
Neega sighed and slumped back in her chair, examining
her crackers sadly. "I was gonna be Princess Fernypoo this time, though."
Connor chucked the rest of his Chia treat down
his throat and closed the refrigerator door behind him, scratching the back
of his head as he swallowed. "I really would like to, Neega, but I promised
the guys that I'd meet them all at the Battledome today. We could play tonight..."
Neega looked up at her brother and half-smiled,
shrugging her shoulders. "S'okay, Connor. Tonight would be fine." But as he
grinned back and ruffled her clump of hair, she muttered under her breath, "you
always go to the Battledome..."
Connor, oblivious as usual, grabbed his Gallion
while running out the door and started galloping out to the Stone Battledome.
Dr. Crumblebum jumped around the white glass
tower, a wide and slightly malicious smile on her face. To her surprise, however,
everything was not perfectly in place as she had previously planned it. Her
victim had disappeared.
"Up here, little girl!" taunted a voice from
above. Dr. Crumblebum looked up, of course, holding an arm before her face stiffly
in defense. Mr. Fluffikens was now perched on the edge of the tower, a triumphant
grin on his face.
Dr. Crumblebum wiggled her four ears impatiently
as she lowered her arm. "Running away again, I see," she whined up at the Lupe.
"Well, I couldn't expect anything less of you, brainless as you are."
"I'm not brainless!" Mr. Fluffikens roared
furiously, his tail lashing back and forth so hard that he almost lost his balance.
He gripped the tower's rim even harder in his paws, breathing quickly. "Wait...
I see what you're doing, Crumblebum! I won't let you make me fall!"
"Oh, really," Dr. Crumblebum drawled, smirking.
"So you're just going to wait up there all day? Who do you think will save you?"
"That might be me," a new voice rang out.
Both Mr. Fluffikens and Dr. Crumblebum stiffened. "Oh, now, don't look so taut-
I wouldn't want you to get crushed!"
A new, crisp voice emerged from the bottom of
the staircase that led into the kitchen. Neega spun around in her chair, her
crackers once again dismissed to fall, lonely, onto the table.
"Is it a good one?" she asked eagerly, her eyes
shining as she watched the Neopet who had just emerged from upstairs. Maybe
Connor had left relatively early, but this sibling was sure to stay and
"No morning is ever good, Neega. You know that."
The disco Aisha who was speaking strode purposefully into the kitchen, the large
variety of scarves that she wore around her neck fluttering behind her. "Can
we keep the chit-chat to a minimum? I'm busy today."
"But Melanie," Neega whined, "you're always
busy! Can't we play today? Pleeease?"
Melanie sniffed as she examined the variety of
foods contained in the refrigerator. "No. I don't have time for your silly games,
not when my new 9-icon item is simply begging to be used. I spent a good
two months making it, so today I shall demonstrate its many glorious uses!"
Neega sank back down to a sitting position and
bit her lower lip. "Um. Does that mean you're going to the Battledome? 'Cause
Neega slammed the fridge door shut, squeezing
the berries she had just selected tightly in her paw. "I don't want to hear
anything from you about that 'wonderful' brother of yours," she growled, all
four ears twitching.
Neega slumped, letting her eyes drop to the table.
"Yes, Mel." After all, you'll just ignore me if I remind you that he's your
brother, too, she thought to herself.
Melanie sighed dramatically and plopped into
the seat across from Neega. "I keep telling you, sis, you have to give up on
that creature. He never 'remembers' to keep his promises. Trust me- I know from
experience." She scowled down at her handful of berries before popping them
all into her mouth at once.
"He doesn't mean it, Mel. He's just really busy,
Neega glanced up and found that Melanie had already
gotten up from the table, and was currently in the process of scooping up both
her Tapira and a strange, bulky bag that apparently contained her item. "Sorry,
sis, but I have to run," Melanie said primly. "Tell that owner of ours that
I'm at the Stone Battledome, will you?"
Melanie strode out of the house with her head
held high, an evil grin on her face.
A third figure entered the scene, her aura
of frigid indifference as wide as the spread of her Eyrie wings. This Neopet
observed the others stonily, her face neutral.
"Madam Munch," Dr. Crumblebum stammered, "this
doesn't involve you. Let me terrorize my victim in peace!"
"Really, Ma'am," Mr. Fluffikens said, his
voice as boastful as it always was, "I can handle this one on my own."
Madam Munch narrowed her eyes as she sauntered
over to where Dr. Crumblebum was standing. Her wings she held spread out, as
stiff as if they had been frozen in place. "Well, I didn't say that I'd
help you," she told Mr. Fluffikens in a teasing voice, "I said that I might.
It depends on what the foolish situation you've gotten yourself into is this
"It isn't foolish- why, I arranged it!" Dr.
Crumblebum hissed. The Aisha's ears were laid back, and her paws were trembling
"That makes it twice as ridiculous as I previously
thought it would be," Madam Munch told her frostily. "So my course of action
is clear, then. I'll have to thwart both of you."
"You're talking to yourself, again. You
should've quit that ridiculous behavior a while ago."
Neega let her forsaken crackers slide back onto
the table as she turned to smile widely at the Neopet who had just appeared
at the front door. "Grizzy! You're home for lunch today!"
The tall snow Eyrie walked into the kitchen and
glanced down at her youngest sister. "It's Griselda, Neega. Don't give me that
foolish nickname. And no, I'm not home for lunch, as I already ate. I simply
needed to pick up a few books." With that statement out of the way, she walked
over to the refrigerator, opened it, and commenced emptying it of half of its
"I'm glad you're home," Neega continued, nonplussed,
"'cause almost everyone else is gone. Connor and Mel are at the Battledome,
"What's this? The two of them are actually going
to occupy the same public vicinity?" Griselda smiled sarcastically, her eyes
reflecting no emotion. "That ought to be entertaining."
"Not entertaining, exactly," Neega said with
a frown. "They'll probably start yelling at each other."
Griselda nodded absently as she piled all of
the food she had selected onto her plate. "Yes, and that's the best part. Maybe
I'll pay them a visit, to see if I can speed the arguments up."
Neega shook her head sadly. "I wish you wouldn't
agitate them all the time, big sister. It confuses them."
"Good for them," Griselda growled, and then began
wolfing down all of her food. Neega watched her silently, but left her own milk
and crackers alone.
In record time the plate had been all but licked
clean, and Griselda was at the door again. She paused for a second before turning
around to eye Neega. "Tell Joseph that I might not come home tonight. Arguments
might be fun, but I'd rather not be around when Connor starts to throw things."
With that, she disappeared through the door.
"You forgot your books!" Neega called after her.
Both Mr. Fluffikens and Dr. Crumblebum stood
completely still at the Eyrie's statement, each eyeing her with surprise.
"You can't do that, Madam Munch," Mr. Fluffikens
argued. "It's one side or the other. You have to pick."
"No," Madam Munch responded, "I won't. It's
much more fun to leave the two of you in suspense."
"But that's ridiculous!" Dr. Crumblebum ground
her teeth in agitation. "Good or evil, light or dark, you must choose a side.
It's your identity, after all."
"And I refuse to be defined." Madam Munch
With that statement, there was nothing else
left to say. Mr. Fluffikens leapt down from the tower, Dr. Crumblebum drew out
her hidden weapon, and the Neopets began their three-sided war.
Neega thought as she made her crackers bash into
each other repeatedly, trying to decide what needed to be said next. In the
midst of a battle, dialogue wasn't important, but the description of the fighting
had to be done just right.
"Neega, I thought I told you to eat those crackers,
not to play with them."
Neega sighed, not even bothering to look over
her shoulder for the source of the voice. "Hi, Joseph. How was the trading post
"Terrible." A gangly teenage human sat down across
from her at the table and blew his bangs away from his eyes. "I had ridiculous
offers coming at me from all four sides, and yet not a single one of my items
got sold. Where are the others?"
"Out," Neega replied vaguely. The cracker Lupe
dove under her napkin to escape a shot from the Aisha's milk laser.
"Out?" Joseph questioned. "Come on, Neega, tell
me straight- have they all run off to the Battledome again?"
"Uh-huh," Neega muttered, gently setting the
crackers down on the table so that she could look at her owner. He appeared
to be as rushed, irritated, and exhausted as he always was.
"Figures," Joseph mumbled. With a groan, he got
to his feet again. "If I'm not home by seven, neomail the Pizzaroo. Order something
with fruits on it this time, will you? Maybe the Starberry pizza."
The human stalked off to the doorway and went
outside, slamming the door behind him. As reverberations from the slam hit the
table Neega was sitting at, it shook, causing her glass of milk to topple over.
Pieces of glass flew all over the tabletop as milk flowed over the crackers
which had been peacefully lying there. Neega watched in shock as the milk slowly
spread out, leaving behind three lumpy, unidentifiable messes.
Without a word, she stood up and walked away,
heading up the stairs, towards her bedroom, where she could think- and cry-
"It- it just exploded, just like that. Everyone
knew that the tower was dangerous, but no one expected... "
The voice echoed through the Gnorbu's head,
ringing relentlessly in her brain. It was not her voice, for she had not yet
spoken since she heard the news. An image came to her mind, that of the poor
little Shoyru who had witnessed the catastrophe. It was his voice she heard,
his voice, not that of the others.
"They didn't even see it at first, but when
they did, well, I never saw anyone look so terrified. It was the scariest thing
I ever saw... "
The Gnorbu stood on the lifeless ground, looking
over the battlefield. A dark strip of land showed where the catastrophe had
happened, and when she tried to see where it ended, she realized that it reached
out much further then her small eyes could see.
"The wave swept them up, all three. I flew
down to see if I could grab one of them, help them out, even though I knew it
was probably already too late. But the milk... it runs fast. They had been carried
away before I could get down low enough. I'm sorry."
The Gnorbu noticed something shiny lying at
her feet. Picking it up, she realized that it was made of the same clear material
that the tower had been made of. The milk tower, they had all called it. The
container of the most deadly fluid known to cracker-kind.
"So I got some of my friends to help me try
and find them later down on the milk's path, but we couldn't see them anywhere.
I don't think we'll ever be able to find them, even if we keep searching."
The Gnorbu looked down, letting the piece
of glass fall back onto the ground.
"You're their sister, aren't you? So this
must hit you the hardest... if there's anything we can do... "
The cracker Gnorbu shook her head, both to
clear it of the voice and to answer the question. Unbidden, a tear dropped down
from her face.
"It was supposed to be a game," she whispered.
Her voice echoed across the empty wasteland. "Just for fun. This was never supposed
As her voice failed her, the Gnorbu, known
by many crackers as Lady Neega- the storyteller- turned away and closed her
eyes in remorse.
Author's note: This story was inspired by the TCG card "Broken Crackers".