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Smaller Shadows


by potatorewkiki

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"Get out of my way," a Gelert grunted as she pushed hastily through the swarm of students in her school hallway. A yellow Aisha ducked and held her geometry book on her head as Blue walked by, but the Gelert didn't notice. Even if she had noticed, she wouldn't have cared. She would have laughed, but not cared.

     "Well, well, well… Blue," hissed an approaching Darigan Moehog. Her red eyes glowed as she grinned at the girl in front of her. "Blue, welcome to seventh grade. Are you enjoying the school? Just think… Only three weeks until you and I have to sit together in much of our classes, and are only separated in math and science."

     "Did you hear what I said to the kids?" Blue inquired, ignoring Myra's own questions and treating the Moehog as if she didn't know her. Myra raised her eyebrows, which meant to Blue that she was clueless.

     "Well, I said get out of my way!" she exclaimed, running ahead of the enemy as she pushed her thin black bangs out of the way of her cerulean eyes. As she exited the building, she remembered last year. I'm going to have to deal with her… Again. I feel so special. Give me a 'Very Special' trophy of something to put in my cabinet for me, will you? My owner will probably then be proud of me for once, she thought, pacing along the sidewalk as she scanned the crowd for a particular red Shoyru. Squinting her eyes to get a better look, she walked further around until she was tapped on the shoulder by a Shoyru.

     "LILY!" she exclaimed, before spinning around to face a blue Shoyru who she had purposely tripped as she was trying to open her locker earlier. The girl gave her a 'what?' face and Blue widened her eyes.

     "Oh my gosh, I am so sorry! I was looking for a red Shoyru who looks maybe a year or two younger than me. Have you seen her?"

     "You mean the one that was annoying me earlier while asking about you? That's what I wanted to talk to you about… Angel, isn't it?" she asked, sighing as she fluttered her eyelashes to get something out of her eye. Blue groaned.

     "Oh no… I'm sorry about that. Um, her name's Lily now, by the way," she reluctantly replied.

     "Whatever."

     Blue put her paws around her mouth like a megaphone. "HAS ANYBODY HERE SEEN A RED SHOYRU WHO LOOKS ABOUT TEN OR ELEVEN YEARS OLD?" The entire crowd twisted around to face Blue, shocked by the Gelert's action. A girl fitting the description jumped up and down from the middle of the crowd, waving her arms in the air. Realizing that Blue hadn't noticed her, she groaned and hopped up into the air, this time putting her wings to work, and flew graciously over the mob which had by then finally stopped staring at Blue.

     "Can I see your school?" the girl whispered as she landed on the ground just a few feet in front of her sister. Blue raised her eyebrows.

     "No. Firstly, I don't ever plan on attending this… This place," she snapped. "Potato said that Mom signed me up for a special school for smart people. That's two years of no Myra. I am so going." Angel, not believing a word the Gelert had said, rolled her eyes and smiled.

     "Well, then you won't be in the same school as your best friend, Kottske, either. And you like to hate Myra. Give it up, Blue. You're going here, and you just don't want me to find out that the homeroom you're assigned to is the principal's office." Blue's face turned pale and her blue eyes widened to the size of Tyrannian Miniature Golf balls.

     Wow, she's… smart. Well, not that that's my homeroom, but it was such an adorable comment, she thought, revealing a toothy grin.

     "Let's just go home," Blue grumbled, jerking Lily's arm and pulling her away from the school.

     **

     "Hey, Blue? Could you do me a favor? Lily has friends at the door. Ask her if she could grab her net and walk down to the pond with them, will you?" called a girl with wavy brown, shoulder-length hair. Potato owned three pets, Ouristar, Myra, and Madavan. She was best friends with Blue's owner, Gymlia, but Gymlia was off on an important task on Mystery Island, so Blue's brother, Floryn, Lily, and herself had to stay with Potato until their mom returned.

     "Fine," Blue snapped, turning around in the hallway and walking into the room that her sister shared with her - Potato's guest room. Lily sat on her bed, reading a blue-covered book that's title included the word 'when'.

     "Lil', your annoying friends want you to grab your net and head down to the pond," she hastily explained, before hopping back down the hall and stairway.

     She dashed through the foyer and living room into the kitchen where Potato sat at the table, reading a book about ponds. Oh great, she muttered, Neopian "This Day is Worse Than The Rest So The Only Possible Thing We Can Do Is Read" Day has come, and I guess they didn't mention it on my calendar. Oops, I guess I can't join the 'fun'.

     "Blue, come here a moment. There's something I'd like you to see," she called, a solemn expression on her face as she stared at the page. The Gelert walked behind her and glanced over her shoulder at a diagram about… Quiggles. She read the caption below it to herself.

     Most Quiggles that are kept as pets weigh between 15 and 30 pounds, and are between 20 and 40 centimeters tall (see diagram 1). When you are at a pond, however, you are most likely to find much smaller Quiggles, between 4 and 10 centimeters tall and none weighing over 6 pounds (see diagram 2). These are wild Quiggles, and the reason that they differ so much in size from the pet Quiggles is because they rely on a completely different diet.

     "Remember how you, Lily and I were debating about those creatures they catch actually being Quiggles instead of an unknown type of petpet? You were right. Now that I think about it, I don't really think that she should be out catching those poor things in those Catamara nets. Do you think that you can do anything to, you know, help her understand?" Her eyes were somewhat watery, but so were Blue's after trying to read that tiny, bright blue font in the book. She glanced up at Blue with a desperate look on her face.

     "How about I start a group for 'Defenders of Wild Quiggle Rights' as well?" Blue retorted, grinning. "Sure, I'll do it. It can't be that hard to convince her." Potato smiled and nodded with gratitude.

     "Many thanks," she whispered.

     "No need," the Gelert mumbled as she turned around and headed out the door.

     It was a breezy day in late summer. The trees' leaves began to change in color, and the yards had a small amount of fallen leaves in them. Blue plucked a rather large maple one out of the grass and examined it carefully. Then she shrugged and threw it back over her shoulder, continuing to take long strides down the sidewalk to Lily's friend, Tintuna's, pond. Her owner was extremely wealthy, and rumor has it that he owns the Poogle racing track, too.

     "Hey, Blue!" called a small green Ixi who sat next to Lily at the edge of the pond. It was about thirty feet across and, for the most part, circular; its reflection of its surroundings painted with watercolors on its surface. A tiny blue Quiggle was staring fearfully at the three girls, obviously wanting so much to hop back into the water, but it seemed too deep for it to swim. It was stuck. It shut its beady eyes and prepared for the net to fall down over her head when Blue shouted a suggestion.

     "Can I try?" she asked, her voice, all of a sudden, a bit hoarse.

     "Sure!" They handed her the net and moved out of the way. But, to their surprise, Blue set the net to the side, and whispered quietly to the Quiggle.

     "Hi." It was a simple word, but one that meant quite a lot to a shy little Quiggle who lived in a pond owned by a young girl who, along with her friend, used their power to manipulate the creature due to its size. Like what we learned in school last year about… bullying.

     She froze like the account of a rule-breaking owner. A bully was what half of her school had called her for the past few years. A bully… Suddenly, a smile bloomed on Blue's face. She didn't have to be a bully when she didn't want to be, did she?

     "My name is Blue. I live in the white house two doors down from here. I'm very sorry that my sister and her friend were catching you and your fellow… Quiggles, and I understand that it is not--" She glanced back at her sister, who, as did her friend, wore the same look on her face. But Blue looked up, away from all three of them, into the cloudless sky. Something was wrong there…

     Her mind felt as if someone had grabbed it, spun it around, and placed it back in a different position. For a moment, she couldn't think. If she could, she wouldn't know what she was thinking. She knew that she had felt it before-- the strangest feeling -when she was debating with Potato about pond Quiggles and pet Quiggles. Trying to prove something she didn't believe in.

     I don't understand… she thought, narrowing her eyes. Her face was stern, as if, without knowing it at all, she just HATED that Quiggle.

     "Actually, I don't care. You go ahead, girls, and do what you want. I don't want to be a part of this." And she hopped up and stomped away, back to her house.

     **

     "Welcome back, Blue!" Potato called, grinning. "How did it go?" Blue was still frowning.

     "I could care less about some stupid miniscule Quiggles, Potato," she snapped, her nostrils fuming. Completely shocked by the Gelert's answer, the brown haired girl presented yet another question on a subject that Blue clearly did not want to talk about.

     "You've had a sudden change of heart again, I see. Why say that?" she asked, benignly glancing down at the tiny picture of a blue Quiggle in her book. Blue threw her hands next to her shoulders and gave a 'DUH' face.

     "Listen: I'm no lawyer, and if I'm defending anyone, it's me." She looked away from Potato, her eyes dashing to the pond and its stunningly gorgeous colors as they changed emotions. Potato knew that whatever Blue was going to say then was serious, so she listened closely to what words she had to say.

     "I used to be treated like that. If those Quiggles are ever going have a life, they are gonna have to learn how to deal with kids like Lily and Tintuna," she explained, leaning against the sliding glass door and glaring at the chit-chatty Tintula, most likely bragging to Lily about counting her pairs of socks and finding out that she has a whole 286 pairs or another pointless subject like that. Potato sighed.

     "Feel some empathy, Blue."

     "I'll gladly feel it for you in exchange for its definition," she said, flatly. A smile crossed Potato's face, for she was happy to see Blue thinking humorously.

     "It means that you can relate to and understand the feelings of another because, in your case, you have had similar situations and difficulties. I know your personality well enough by now, Blue, to know that, despite your normal terrible attitude, you sometimes can be pulled in by deep thoughts and emotions, and you've felt sympathetic before. That is a really special trait, believe me." She stood up, pushed her chair in, and walked over to Blue, looking straight into the shadow Gelert's cerulean blue eyes.

     "That must be the fifth time someone has tried to make me feel 'special' today," she mumbled. "Potato, I know that you're trying to be cool and everything, but it's not really helping. Why don't you just take a Quiggle out of there and keep it as your fourth pet, paint it orange with the brush that Halloween guy gave to you, and get over with this?" she exclaimed, really getting impatient by then. Potato then flashed a grin at Blue and then glanced down at the pond.

     "Blue," she whispered, sliding the door open as the stepped out onto the deck, "might I offer a little deal between you and I?" Blue smirked, looking back up at the girl and following her outside.

     "Now you say something that interests me!" she said, eager to hear what she gets in the deal.

     "Seventh grade: a rather large step. You know it's gonna be tough, and Myra does, too. But, this year, you won't be able to express your anger by picking on the younger kids. You are the younger kids, and you and Myra don't seem to like each other too much."

     "We're going awfully far off topic, aren't we, Miss Potato Head?" Potato chuckled, and continued on.

     "I feel so sorry for those Quiggles that I actually want to take one in. If you pick one for me, a special one, and tolerate it for the next week until your mom finally comes home, I'll gladly request to the school for you and Myra to have your schedules changed so that you can be in all separate classes. Sound fair?" Blue gasped, her eyes widening to the size of Meriballs.

     "Ohmigosh, you really mean it? I'd LOVE to!"

     **

     Her net was already wet because of her attempts to snatch a couple of Quiggles in it. Her face was also splashed with a bit of water. The Gelert's pink boots made odd noises that sounded like she was slapping something as she prodded through the mud to see a white Quiggle. It stared with fear at Blue, and she wondered about the Quiggles. They made smaller shadows than she did. Much smaller shadows. But that isn't supposed to matter… right?

     "Hi," she whispered. This time she was sure that she wanted to do this.

     "Why are you talking to me?" it asked, hopping backwards, as far from Blue as possible. "You pets have done this stuff to me before… Talked to distract me. Then-POW -you throw that net down over my head and put me in a tiny airless container and only let me out when I'm just seconds from running out of breath. I hate it." Blue sighed, setting the net against a tree and kneeling down about a foot away from the Quiggle.

     "Do you have a name?" she asked, forcing a smile as she slowly reached out to hold it. It, once again, hopped farther backward, except a croak of displeasure came along with it.

     "Why should I tell you? You're gonna come up with another from me anyways. I've had it! I can't stand it!" he said in a low and grumpy voice.

     "Then you wouldn't want to come live with the people two doors down, would you?" And his response to that should have been expected: a small splash as he hopped underwater. Blue sighed. It wasn't as easy as she thought it would be.

     "Um, I heard what you said, and I apologize if I sound kind of rude or if you don't want a female or green Quiggle, or maybe my size is too big, but I see that I'm only a couple of inches and pounds smaller than the Quiggles you all keep as pets now anyways," a soft feminine voice spoke from a few feet to the Gelert's left. Blue glanced over to a larger green Quiggle, who stared up at her and gave a timid smile.

     "Oh, um, sure. I don't think that Potato will mind at all. Do you have a name?"

     "Khelo," she whispered. "Who are you?" Blue frowned. This Quiggle was too nice. She liked the other one better.

     "I'm Blue," she responded. "So, would you like to come live with the Rewkiki's, two doors down?" Khelo's little smile then turned into a big, toothy grin, minus the teeth because Quiggles don't have those. She looked absolutely delighted.

     "Of course I would! This is amazing! You've practically saved me, Blue! Are you my new sister?" Blue narrowed her eyes as the Quiggle ran up and hugged her tightly around the legs.

     "Um, no… I'll be your mom's friend's pet. Your cousin, I guess. How does that sound?"

     "Ooh, Blue the awesome, bestest cousin! You are so sweet!" Once again, Blue received a rather large Bearog hug that you wouldn't expect even from a two-story tall Grarrl, let alone a little pet such as this Quiggle.

     "Come on… Come home," Blue reluctantly said, grabbing the girl's disgustingly wet hand with bits of algae on its three webbed fingers.

     "You're really cool, Blue," she said, hugging Blue's arm. Almost losing her circulation and trying to keep from exploding with anger about how much Khelo was hurting her.

     "You're really… not," the shadowed pet muttered, heading to Potato's house as quickly as possible.

     **

     "…And they have smaller shadows," noted Blue, while she and Potato eyed Khelo as she skipped joyfully around the family room.

     "Of course they do. Did you notice anything about that, Blue? After dinner and lunch, have you noticed the change in size ALREADY in Khelo? All of the creatures in that pond are Quiggles, despite their size," she explained. "I can understand that Khelo isn't your type, but you can't hold anything against her because she spent every minute of her life that wasn't in this house in a murky, algae-filled pond."

     "Actually, I can. What YOU can't do is tell me how to think," Blue snapped, looking up to Potato and glaring. "And I left my net at the pond. I'll go get it tomorrow."

     Potato sighed. She knew that Blue was just being difficult. Blue had to have gotten something from it. Maybe she wouldn't take her owner's notification that she won't be home for two weeks that badly. On the other hand, that meant two more weeks with Khelo. And then the girl smiled.

     She's so sympathetic, that girl, she thought. I'd drop all of my pets off at the pound and swim in the freezing waters of Maraqua if she doesn't admit that she learned something from those Quiggles, and especially Khelo, in the next two weeks. In Neopia there are annoyances, doubts, and enemies. There's confusion, things that are hard to understand, and little problems that are just beyond our control. It's life. She needs to deal with it.

The End

Author's Note: Thank you SO much for reading 'Smaller Shadows'. I am so happy about this story because I finally got Blue's personality right! *throws confetti into the air* Anyways, I'd love it if anyone could please Neomail me regarding my story, or anything for that matter. Neofriend requests are okay, too. =D ~Potatorewkiki

 
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