Born Again - Dazzle
I sighed. "What, Kiara?"
It had been exactly one year and 12 days since
I had been adopted into the family, along with Lizziera and Finn. Allianne--
Aly -- was out earning Neopoints at the arcade, and Finn was at the Training
School. Kiara, the youngest sister, who had lived with Allianne since she was
born, was hyper. Again.
"Kiara," I said suspiciously, "did you eat my
"Liar," I muttered. She had chocolate all over
The red Kougra knew she couldn't win against
me, and changed the subject. "Tell me a story, Dazzle."
I sighed again and put the book on a shelf. "Fine."
A black nose and silver fur peeked through the open door, and Lizziera walked
in, plopping onto the rug and curling up.
"I'm listening," she said, eyes closed and ears
They waited as I picked a tale to tell. "Very
well. This is the story of Thaia."
* * *
A young Peophin looked out the window, at the
rain that was falling in sheets of wet despair. The normally cheery and bustling
Neopia Central was replaced by a web of desolate streets, with only an occasional
Neopet walking briskly to the nearest shelter, umbrella over their head.
Thaia put a hoof on the windowsill, a branched
fork of lightning illuminating her light green hair and orange mane. The golden
faceplate all Peophins have was dirt-streaked, the red jewel dull, matching
the Peophin's gloomy mood. With a sigh and a heavy heart, she turned away and
curled up on a washed-out red beanbag, picking up her only comfort: a Christmas
Peophin plushie, a dream that would never come true. Settling into the corner,
she waited for sleep to come and brush away her sadness.
* * *
Endless shelves of books stood before her,
their old leather bindings like a rainbow in the softly lit library. All kinds
of stories, more varied than the all Neopets in Neopia and the faeries combined,
were at the tips of her hooves. They patiently waited for a kind hand or eye
to open them and read the ideas that had been captured for eternity. Thaia reached
out for one as something pounded on the library door...
Thaia woke up with a start, hurriedly dragging
herself into a small cabinet and shutting it. Her heart pounding, she looked
out through the small hole in the wood, as the door splintered and finally gave
in. Three yellow figures moved in, rainbow guns drawn, as thunder boomed behind
them. "This is the Chia Police! Put your paws in the air, Black Hooves!"
The Peophin willed herself to stay silent as
they surveyed the small enclosure like professionals. "Looks like another false
A Chia put his weapon away. "We've got to trace
those neomails... stupid prankpets." He looked around, spying the beanbag and
plushie. "Don't touch anything; search the place and see if they left anything
behind." All three began to methodically check the small room, and the one named
Harlam came closer and closer to her hiding space...
Garret, the pudgiest Chia, picked up the plushie
and sealed it in a bag, taking out a pen and labeling it. Thaia resisted jumping
out and wrestling it back; she had no claws or hind legs, and would give up
her position. Hopefully, another one would pop up at the Plushie Palace.
The cabinet door opened, and a yellow face filled
the now open space. "What do we have here?" He chuckled. "Pardon me, but you
don't look like the sort that robs stores, do you?" Thaia's eyes filled with
"It was only one plushie, I didn't take anything
else, I swear... only that one plushie, and it had a torn ear and no one was
buying it and the shopkeeper didn't care and I've always wanted to-" she kept
babbling until the Chia held up a hand.
"It's ok," he soothed. "We're looking for some
thieves who have been stealing rare items and robbing the bank... a group of
Ixis. Have you seen them?" Thaia shook her head quickly, tangled orange mane
flopping from side to side. "Then you're fine. We'll take you to the Pound."
"Th-the Pound, s-sir?" she stammered. "Not the
Pound! I can't survive the Pound... just let me stay here, please..."
He shook his head. "No can do. If we find a pet
without an owner or organization, they have to go to the Pound. Sorry, kid."
He gently picked the skinny Peophin up, surprised by how light she was. I
would use more energy to pick up a pair of handcuffs! he thought. "Don't
worry; they'll feed you and give you better shelter than this. I promise."
Thaia looked at him with pleading eyes. "But
I'll stay there for the rest of my life!" And she wouldn't be allowed out, would
never see the library... this was worse than staying. In one minute, her life
had gone from bad to worse, and to downright hopeless in a split second. She
squirmed, but the police officer had firm hold on her. "Can I have my plushie?"
she asked, giving up.
"Garret, hand her the plushie."
"Sir, this may be potential evidence for the
crimes of the Black Hooves-"
"For Fyora's sakes, Garret, she's a starving
foal!" he said, exasperated. "Give her the plushie or I'll tell the Chief who
stole all his sugar doughnuts." Garret reluctantly handed Thaia the bag, and
she immediately tore it open and hugged the little toy as hard as she could.
With the whimpering Peophin riding behind Harlam,
they took off on their Unis to the Pound.
* * *
"Dr. Death?" Harlam called. "Another pet needs
He didn't look like Thaia had imagined. Her imagination
didn't create Neopets that scary. "Another? This place is almost full with pets...
no one wants to adopt any." He sighed and motioned for Thaia to follow.
"Do I have to go?" she whispered to the Chia.
He smiled gently and nodded. Giving him a last, pleading look, she dragged herself
across the tiled floor and followed the Techo into a room full of cages.
"Here," he grumbled. With the quickness of experience,
he wrote her name, age, likes and dislikes on the whiteboard above the cage
door. "Get in." Dr. Death slammed the door behind her and walked away, muttering
something about 'too many pets' and 'no respect whatsoever for me'.
Thaia didn't care. She held her plushie against
her chest, and stared dismally out the bars, still shocked she was actually
A minute later, the bell over the door chimed
to admit a rich owner, trailing a pampered faerie Xweetok after her. The small
Peophin propped her head up in hope. Maybe she would get out!
"I am looking for a painted or otherwise
expensive pet," she demanded in a pompous tone. "Are any available?" Dr. Death
grunted and pointed to a cage in Thaia's direction. The human squealed in delight,
and the little Peophin perked her ears even more. She would be out of this wretched
"Such a pretty Peophin! The mane, the faceplate..."
Thaia pounded her tail against the wall in excitement.
"...the gorgeous wings!"
Wings? But I don't have wings! The cage
door above her opened, and a faerie Peophin flew out. "I'll take her!" the woman
Thaia crumpled and cried, suffering in silence.
She always would.
* * *
Thaia quickly learned that a non-painted/non-limited-edition
pet had the same chance of getting adopted as getting Sloth to dance the Cha
Cha in a tutu. And that was if it was a good day.
She had no friends; everyone else was too depressed
to even think of the possibility. It was contagious too. No one bothered to
look up when a human came in, and they forgot to eat meals half the time.
If I'm lucky, she thought, I'll get
shoved back into the streets.
Actually... an idea formed in her mind.
If I'm going to get out of here, it will be through brains, not brawn. And
With a hint of what might have been a smile,
she set her plan into motion.
* * *
For a week, Thaia stored every nonperishable
food in the very back corner of her cage, hiding it under a blanket. After she
had a small pile that would feed her for long enough, she began acting as obnoxious
as possible. Taking her fork and spoon (they couldn't use knives, as they were
battledome items) she banged on the bars, yelling out her demands like a stark-raving
"Where's my food! I want my food! I want my bag
of one million Neopoints right now, not later! You there; adopt me! I rule over
all you Neopets! Bow down to me! MUAHAHAHA!"
As she knew she would be, she was sentenced without
any meals until she started behaving. She also knew that, under the official
regulations, they would have to feed her eventually so she wouldn't starve to
death, or turn her out. The key was to be consistent.
"Give me that bag of candy, loser!" she shouted,
scaring a young boy owner out of the Pound and making a few others move away
Eventually, Dr. Death couldn't take it anymore.
Twelve days after Thaia had begun her plan, he was pulling out his hair and
offering 200 Neopoints to anyone who would take her. A few hours later, he decided
to turn her out the next day. Music to her ears.
The bell jangled at 9:13PM, very late for the
Pound. A human walked in, holding onto a red Kougra's tail and blindly following.
"I'm going to run you into a pole if you don't get your nose out of that book,"
the Kougra threatened.
The girl snorted, still not looking up. "You
know you won't, Kini." She did put it down and let go of the Kougra's tail as
she walked up to the red Uni. "I'm looking for a pet to adopt."
"Well..." The Uni flipped her mane as she thought.
"There's a cute baby Lupe named Dameon... a fire Grarrl cal-"
"Nevermind," she hastily interrupted. "I'll go
look myself." Kini leapt up and grabbed the book, holding it in a paw as her
"Just making sure you don't read while you look
at the pets," she grinned. "Hurry up, Jona!"
This was an interesting pair. The girl's eyes
were kind, not hard and searching for that expensive Neopet... maybe she had
Thaia immediately squashed that idea. No, she
was getting out tomorrow... no sense in letting her heart break again.
"Kini," Jona asked, "which one would you like
for a sibling?"
The Kougra mulled it over, looking around with
sharp golden eyes. She walked over to Thaia's section; it made sense. There
was a Cybunny in the cage just above her, who was probably wiggling her nose
to look as cute as possible.
Kini turned to her owner. "What about a Peophin?"
Don't let it break again, Thaia thought,
that mistake still fresh in her mind. You've suffered enough in this wretched
place... and most owners don't even care for their pets.
"Peophin?" A pair of sneakers walked over, and
the girl bent down and looked into Thaia's face. With a sudden grin, she read
the whiteboard above the cage door. "Thaia," she whispered, trying the name
out. "Sounds perfect."
Quicker than Thaia could believe possible, Jona
signed the papers, received a bag of 200 Neopoints (the reward still standing)
and sprang Thaia from her cage. She held her plushie against her chest, looking
the same going out as coming in. Except this time, she was trying to get a look
at the book.
Kini noticed, and passed the red, leather-bound
thing back. "It's Gelert Diaries." Fascinated, she opened it up and scanned
the first paragraph... she had taught herself to read years ago, thankfully.
A paw flew in front of her face, and she jerked to a stop.
The Kougra laughed. "You're just like Jona,"
she giggled, "almost running into poles when she has her nose stuck in a book."
Thaia laughed with her... was that her? A horse's whinny, coming from her mouth?
She had never laughed before. It should have
been unnatural... but it wasn't.
The darkened streets filled with the ringing
bells of joy, as all three laughed together. Thaia had been born again.
* * *
I looked down at the two Kougras. Liz was sleeping,
stretched out on her back and snoring softly. It looked like Kiara was too,
until she opened one golden eye. "Good story," she yawned, raising a brow. "It
somehow seems familiar."
"That's the sugar wearing off," I chuckled. "Believe
what you like."
"I'm betting," Kiara said, "that Thaia wouldn't
mind if I typed up her story to read again?"
"For once, you're right." I looked out the window
at the sheets of rain pouring down, as the front door shut and Kiara ran to
see Aly and Finn. Somehow, the rain wasn't as gloomy as it once was. I settled
down and picked up the worn covers of Gelert Diaries, turning to the first page
and reading the lines I knew so well.
On a shelf above, a battered Christmas Peophin
plushie gazed at the room with a twinkle in its eyes.