White Feathers and Newsprint
As long as can be remembered by the average Neopian, the Weewoo has been the icon of the journalism field in Neopia. On every Neopian Times recently published, the image of the proud White Weewoo is emblazoned on the cover, not a speck of dust marring a single snow white feather. But why? Why has the Weewoo become the icon of all stories and articles ever published in Neopia? Our story begins with a solitary White Weewoo in Faerieland, Zippret, desperately searching for a job.
"They don't want petpets," Zippret sighed, hanging his head. He flapped his wings, landing gently in his customary spot on Aelani’s back. The red Uni groaned, shaking her head and jarring her dusty white mane. The Weewoo jumped up into the air and fluttered to avoid being jolted from his perch.
"I can't work!" yelled Aelani. "The Hospital said my Neomonia wouldn't go away for a few days, and we can't afford the remedy, of course." She paused, letting out a sneeze and sniffling. "Sorry to yell, Zip," Aelani apologized, her voice as low as a whisper. "I'm just... you know the situation we're in, after all. We're down to our last 100 Neopoints, and that's barely enough to purchase a Neocola after the latest round of inflation."
Zip nodded his head, clacking his yellow beak together in consternation. He left his perch and flew in front of Aelani, meeting her deep azure eyes with his amber ones, chirping, "The Employment Agency won't give me anything; they say only Neopets can do their work."
"We'll have to think of something," the Uni said, folding her scarlet legs beneath her and lying on the grassy field below. She lowered her head and placed it between her hooves, closing her eyes as she spoke. "There must be something!"
"I'm going to try the Games Room next," Zip told her. "They could let me play Guess the Card, at least. Maybe we'll get lucky!"
"Or we could lose," responded the pessimistic Uni, despondent. "It's our best shot at this point, isn't it? We could invest anything we win into stocks or something, just to keep us going the next few days."
The Weewoo responded with an eager flap of his wings as he shook the dust off his tail feathers, fluttering away from the emerald field and crimson Neopet beneath him.
I'll get the Neopoints, Zip thought to himself. I'll do it somehow, for Aelani. I’ll find them.
Avoiding the heavy traffic of Faeries returning from their work in Neopia Central to their homes in the clouds in Faerieland, the Weewoo darted between winged Neopets constantly. Calls of "Watch where you're going!" and "Get back here!" followed the white Weewoo as he sped out of the clouds and into Neopia Central. Breathing heavily, the petpet landed gracefully in the front of the Games Room, nearly collapsing from exhaustion as he landed. After closing his eyes and taking a couple of deep breaths, the Weewoo entered the Games Room.
The building was chaotic and noisy. Neopets filled the building and were frantically running in every direction, with their Petpets following behind. Meanwhile, each gaming booth tried to attract a crowd. "Over here! Jackpot is millions of Neopoints and growing!” came the calls from the various booths, as the Kadoaties in the trees near the Warf Rescue Team booth whined insistently in the background
"There's a new Neopian Times issue out!" This scream resounded inside the building, overpowering the anxious calls of most of the other game booth supervisors. "Hilarious comics! Tips for every game imaginable and editorial questions answered from The Neopets Team themselves! Don’t delay. Purchase now!” The striped Acara advertising the Neopian Times paused, sighing and easing his throat pain with a can of Diet Neocola. He clutched his throat and took in another deep breath to advertise with when Zip suddenly fluttered in front of his face.
"Hey!" the Acara yelled in surprise. “Watch it!” He then realized the potential customer hovering in front of him and quickly changed his attitude. "Hey there, little buddy. Want to buy your Neopet an issue? It’s a great newspaper, and the finest reading you will find in Neopia.” He paused, gauging the interest of his customer. After a few moments of silence, the Acara got distracted from his potential sale, murmuring, “You can't get paid enough Neopoints for this job, I swear it! Screaming half the day, running around frantically the other half trying to get all the issues delivered." The striped Acara seemed to remember the customer in front of him, and smiled with a huge fake grin.
"Great issue, this one is!" the Acara said, in an artificial, sickeningly cheery fashion. "Best one yet, I'd say!" The Weewoo continued to soar, not responding as his mind rapidly churned.
"You still here?" the Acara asked with a laugh. "Lost in your own thoughts, eh? Hello?!"
"Sorry, I was thinking," Zip murmured under his breath, barely audible. "Hmmm." He paused, continuing, "What if I sold those newspapers for you? I've got wings, it's easier for me, and you could go right on back to your Neohome, relax, go to sleep early."
The Acara said, "Huh!", seeming surprised at the sudden offer. He licked his lips, and after a few seconds, responded, "How much do I have to give you for that?"
I have no sense of how much people get paid! Zip thought frantically. Either I offer way too low and get cheated, or I ask for too high and he refuses to give me the job in disgust. "How much do you get paid for it?" he asked, hoping to reach a reasonable compromise.
"No way!" the Acara laughed. "I'm not telling you my salary! Just make a reasonable offer!"
"2,000 Neopoints?” Zip answered, with a tinge of doubt shadowing his request. The Acara’s eyes lit up when he heard the number, but seeing that Zip could be easily cheated, he coughed and didn’t answer for a moment, pretending to consider.
“Well,” the Acara said, drawing out his words slowly, “That’s not such a great deal for me, but I guess if you could just lower your price 300 Neopoints or so, I could let you do the job for me in exchange...”
“Sure!” the Weewoo exclaimed immediately. “I’d love to! Thank you so so much!”
With a small, devious smile, the Acara handed over half of the Weewoo’s allotted Neopoints and began to gather up his stuff.
“I don’t know whether or not you’ll actually do the job, you see,” the Acara explained. “This way, I’ll give you half in advance, and once you actually do your job, you’ll get the other half. Don’t forget to deliver all these papers,” the Acara gestured towards a towering pile of newsprint, “and please make sure to advertise and get as many subscriptions as possible. I’ll see you here later, then, to give you the rest of your Neopoints.”
Delighted, the Acara skipped away, leaving Zip alone with his newspapers.
Zip fluttered down to the ground as soon as the Acara left the room, fondling his newfound Neopoints with a smile. He quickly remembered his assigned job and returned to reality, tucking the Neopoints carefully under the feathers of his wing. Clutching a newspaper gently within his talons, Zip returned aloft and fluttered to the other side of the Games Room, where the wealthier Neopians were more likely to roam: near the Stock Market.
“I need 1,000 shares of CHIA! Now! The price is dropping; look at the tickers...”
Screams of delight and groans of agony intermingled as the new prices for the half hour came out, and Zip’s chirps of advertising for the Neopian Times were barely audible over the authoritative commands of Nigel, the Commodity Broker Chia overlooking the scene. No matter how loudly Zip chirped, he just couldn’t manage to attract attention for his newspapers.
This clearly isn’t working... I need an advertising gambit. I need a reason why these Neopets would want to purchase my newspaper. But I myself don’t know why they would want to! How can I sell these when I’ve never read the paper?
Zip, being the Petpet of a relatively poor Neopet, had never before had much leisure time in which to read, since he was too busy trying to earn extra Neopoints to feed himself and Aelani. Zip perched on top of a hurriedly flashing ticker and began to read the Neopian Times, getting engrossed in the storylines and comics that were featured. He read with interest a feature on how to make the most money out of stocks, how best to get an avatar in Attack of the Slorgs, and even articles about how to interpret the abstract prophecies of the Island Mystic. Armed with knowledge, the Weewoo returned to his chirps, but he soon spotted a potential customer, a bored looking Ixi examining her stock portfolio with confusion. He decided to swoop in for the potential sale.
“Hello! My name is Zip,” the Weewoo chirped with enthusiasm. “I saw that you looked a bit confused about what exactly to do here...”
“I could definitely use some help,” the Ixi answered, relieved. “I just couldn’t figure out how to get this stock sold quickly...” She looked at the small Weewoo questioningly. “Do you know anything about the stock market?”
“I personally don’t know that much to help you,” responded the Weewoo, “but luckily, thanks to the Neopian Times, you can have the expert advice of Neopets across Neopia right here in your pocket! In fact, in this issue, there is a specific article that addresses how to make the most Neopoints out of your stocks...” Clutching the page with his claw, Zip deftly flipped pages until he located the page with the gigantic picture of Nigel.
“It does cost a bit,” the Weewoo told her, “but it can certainly help you make back far more than you pay!”
The Ixi seemed to agree, nodding her head and searching her pockets for the requisite Neopoints.
See, one sale already!
Zip continued to flutter about the room. Since his chirps would clearly not help gain sales revenue, Zip decided to flip the paper within his claws to the page with Nigel’s photograph and advertise it across the room to help attract attention. When Zip landed, a crowd of Neopets began to began to gather around him and his newspaper, all scrambling to glimpse the article. Zip led the crowd back to the Neopian Times booth, and proceeded to sell hundreds of issues of the paper to eager Neopets. Within an hour, Zip had sold all of the newspapers in his booth. The crowd dispersed, and Zip had a huge grin on his face as he tucked the last Neopoints he had received into the cash register, closing it with a triumphant clang. As it happened, right as Zip finished locking up the booth, a shining gold Kyrii arrived, clutching a Neopian Times issue in his hands and running his claws possessively over the multitude of necklaces and amulets hanging around his neck.
“Where’s that Acara I hired?” grumbled the Gold Kyrii as he looked over the booth. “Why isn’t anyone here to sell anything?” The Kyrii looked down and spotted Zip fluttering near the keyhole.
“What are you doing, you Weewoo?” demanded the Kyrii. “That cash register can not be broken into. It’s impossible, so shoo!”
The Weewoo looked up at the Kyrii, dazzled by his ostentatious appearance and obvious wealth. He explained in a submissive murmur, “The Acara paid me to man the booth for the rest of today, but I finished selling all the newspapers, so...”
The Kyrii interrupted, shocked, “Wait, what? You sold all the newspapers? In the entire booth? That’s our whole stock! On an average day we sell only half a pile, and we usually never manage to get rid of them all before the next stock comes in. I don’t know how you did it, but I don’t care. You’re hired.”
Zip’s beak dropped in shock. He sat there completely still and stunned, and didn’t respond to the Kyrii’s offer.
“Well, if you want it, that is,” the Kyrii continued, as if stunned that anyone would ever refuse an offer from him. “The starting pay is 100,000 Neopoints a week. So if you’ll accept that, we can start it up. I’ll have to order another round of this issue, and we’ll have to deliver all our subscriptions tomorrow, since we seem to have run out...”
“Seriously?” the Weewoo interrupted incredulously. “I’d love to! Yes! Yes! Yes!”
The Kyrii scoffed at Zip’s enthusiasm, a little smirk on his face. “All right, it’s settled. Tomorrow at 8, then.” He walked away with a swagger.
Still in shock, Zip didn’t move a feather, but his thoughts were moving at a frantic, hyper pace.
Is it true? Can it be true? 100,000 Neopoints! It’s not possible! It’s a trick! Jumping Jubjubs! Oh my Faerie Queen! Is it possible? It happened, I think...
An image of Aelani suddenly jumped into his head, and Zip began to move. He flew to the Pharmacy to purchase the needed Medicinal Soap for her Neomonia, and then soared home to Faerieland, armed all the while with a huge smile. He reached Faerieland and spotted Aelani exactly where he left her, slumped on the ground in a meadow and immersed in a deep slumber.
“Hey,” Zip murmured, tapping her back gently with his beak. “Wake up, Ael. Come on.”
Aelani slowly roused, shaking her tail and letting her eyelids come open. She yawned, and then whispered, “Hello, Zip. How did you do?”
With a grin, Zip showered Aelani with his Neopoints and showed her the Medicinal Soap he purchased.
“Guess what, Ael! I got a job for 100,000 Neopoints a week selling the Neopian Times! We’re not poor anymore, and you’re not sick anymore – and everything is perfect!” Zip gave Aelani the Medicinal Soap, and Aelani eased herself into a nearby lake, carefully bathing herself with the soap until all of her symptoms disappeared. As she emerged from the lake, she hugged Zip tightly to her chest, saying, “All our problems are gone. Our lives in Neopia are finally secure, thanks to you.”
In the weeks following Zip’s first job selling the Neopian Times, nearly every day, Zip would succeed in selling out every single copy of the paper. He became renowned as one of the premier vendors of the Neopian Times in all of Neopia, and any Neopet who ever frequented the Games Room knew his name and identity – and usually, they would purchase a paper from him too. As the years passed, Zip began to be identified with the Neopian Times, and when the newspaper was mentioned, his name would be mentioned along with it.
After many years of hard work, Zip retired in comfort with Aelani to the high clouds of Faerieland. In honor of Zip’s contribution to the Neopian Times, the newspaper decided to emblazon the portrait of a White Weewoo upon the cover of every issue of the renowned newspaper. To this day, the Neopian Times proudly bears the image of Zip, and Zip’s legacy lives on.