The Great Petpet Fair
The hazy, humid days of the month of Hunting slowly melted into the long, sun-drenched nights of the Month of Swimming, and that could only mean one thing... The great Petpet Fair was approaching!
There was always great anticipation around the Petpet Fair every year, which was sponsored by the Petpet Protection League, or PPL for short.
Every year, the PPL had informative stands at the Fair, which besides impressing good ownership, also warned about the various dangers to Petpets around Neopia, such as the Turmaculus who ate Petpets, the Petpet Laboratory which could turn Petpets into piles of sludge, and worst of all, documented proof that there were horrible Petpet sacrifices going on in a village near Terror Mountain!
Other stands included information on how to become a PPL officer, ongoing work into eradicating Petpetpet infestations, information on adopting and re-homing abandoned Petpets, and giving people chances to feed hungry Kadoaties!
The top mall owners of Neopia would book special stands in the fair and sell basic and painted Petpets, very rare Petpet paintbrushes, and Petpet supplies. You could buy anything your heart desired here, from wooden scratching posts, feeding bowls, litter trays, bathtubs, and rumour even had it – Petpetpet farms!
Every year, on the first week of Swimming, there would be a mad flurry of activity around Neopia. Owners would book their Petpets in to Uni’s for grooming and pampering, long lines would form at the Petpet Puddle, and Petpetpet-be-gone collars would sell like plantcakes in the desert sun, sure signs that the next week would herald the Petpet Fair!
Rare Petpet paint brushes would sell at auction for many times more their normal value. Some owners would save up their precious neopoints months, even years for the right Petpet paint brush to match their Petpet to their pet. Others traded their precious, expensive hidden-tower weapons for the chance to buy a rare or unique Petpet that might catch the judge’s attention and award them the ultimate accolade – best in show.
No one knew exactly what the judges looked for, or how they determined which Petpet would be best in show for that year. Each year was different from the last, and previous winners included a Maraquan hasee, a rainbow candychan, an island niptor, and controversially, an invisible warf!
The PPL offered many different categories for owners to enter their Petpets into to try to win a ribbon or trophy, including most unusual Petpet, matching pet and Petpet, most expensive Petpet, cutest Petpet, ugliest Petpet, most popular Petpet, and a special reward to the top winner of the Petpet battledome!
So it was on the day of the fair the Arcticpal clutched a small wooden crate tightly to his chest. Peering at a large flow-chart at the gates of the fair, he felt himself more confused by the moment.
Was his pet painted –yes or no?
Well, Arcticpal peered through the tiny slot of the crate at the two eyes that peered back at him, and sighed. Choosing the no option seemed the best, which only lead him to another chart.
Was his pet rare – yes or no?
Again, uncertain eyes looked at the crate, and back up at the flowchart. Arcticpal supposed that the tiny Petpet inside was rare, but he wasn’t really that certain. He’d had the Petpet for as long as he could remember. Blinking slightly he continued down the flow chart, until he reached the end, and gave him the area he needed to go register his Petpet at – area D, table 6.
Taking his time to wander through the different stalls, Arcticpal found himself watching other pets look after their own Petpets, and was startled to note their horrified looks at his crate. Whispers began to form. Surely, no responsible pet would keep their Petpet in a cage or crate these days? Unless perhaps it was something feral, wild, untrained, or perhaps a diseased and mutant Petpet? The rumours started and spread like wildfire and soon he found the path was cleared before him, with whispers that his Petpet was infested with every kind of Petpetpet known to Neopia – and several new ones besides!
Arcticpal tried to pay no mind to the pets around him, and eventually reached his table where a female Lenny from the PPL was in charge. He took and filled out the long form required to leave his Petpet behind. Putting down his Petpet’s name as “CaffieneFree” he noted there were snorts with other pets commenting that he didn’t even know how to spell Caffeine.
Arcticpal tentatively handed back the form, and paid the required entrance fee – 10,000 neopoints – a small fortune for some owners, and before Arcticpal could protest, the crate was whipped out of his paws. This caused him to take a step backwards from the ferocity of the action of the Lenny before him.
“Now –what- do we have here?” came a particularly nasal voice of the Lenny, reminding him of the old owner of a video shop, now sadly closed down in Neopia. “I notice you didn’t mark what Petpet species it was,” she added and looked down at the short and stubby Arcticpal.
It was at that point that Arcticpal peered up at her quizzically. “I... I don’t actually know what species it is,” he added sheepishly, and kicked at the dirt.
“Oh?” the Lenny replied. “Well, why don’t we just...” and opened up the door of the crate. Instantly her beak dropped.
“Oh my! I see what you mean!” Her feathers positively ruffled as she lifted the tiny Petpet out of the cage and looked at it. “It’s definitely a Petpet. I can see that...” She added puzzled, and looked over to Arcticpal. “A while back, it was possible for people to enter inanimate objects like dolls, food, stuff like that as a Petpet – a bit of a loophole. Call it a glitch if you want – but we quickly fixed that,” she added. “I’m afraid I will have to go get someone who is better qualified to place this Petpet...” and handed the tiny Petpet back to Arcticpal before rushing off, clearly excited by what was in Arcticpal’s paws.
“Well, CaffieneFree.” Arcticpal shook his head. “What are we going to do? If the PPL doesn’t even know what you are...” He trailed off as a small crowd gathered around him, gawking at his Petpet. It didn’t look like anything special – CaffieneFree resembled a rather plain can of raspberry Neocola with green eyes on the side.
It was then that the Lenny returned – along with a whole crowd of PPL officers.
“Is it really? Could it be?” The PPL officers were murmuring amongst themselves as the tiny Petpet was once more carefully taken away from Arcticpal. Passed around from one officer to the next, turned over and examined carefully. A rather portly Bruce approached Arcticpal.
“I am the head of the PPL,” he stated carefully and looked at Arcticpal with a broad smile on his face. “Did you know, until today, we thought your Petpet was extinct? That there were no more sugar rushes left in Neopia?” he queried rhetorically. “This is in fact, one of the first few Petpets that wandered out of the spooky forest! After a while, they stopped wandering out, and I understand that once pets stopped playing with them, the Petpets would morph, perhaps out of sadness into a completely different, and altogether common Petpet,” he breathed excitedly.
“The sugar rush, redtail, batboy, and fatcat are all listed as extinct.” Taking care to hold the tiny Petpet aloft so everyone in the now densely-gathered crowd could see, he pointed proudly.
“Today is a momentous day in the history of the Petpet Fair! For today, we have discovered a single Sugar rush exists!” There was a soft gasp from the crowd of older pets, and several new pets craned to see what the fuss was about.
Carefully the Bruce lowered the Petpet back into Arcticpal’s paws and turned back to his contemporaries, where fevered discussion ensued. All too soon there was a general nodding of heads and the Bruce turned around once more, holding up his fin to the crowd before him.
“Excuse me! Excuse me!” He addressed the crowd in an excited tone of voice. “I believe we have found our Best in Show!”
There was a collective gasp around the crowd as a rather large and elaborate trophy was presented to Arcticpal.
“I hereby declare that CaffeineFree, the sugar rush, wins this year’s Petpet Fair Best in Show!”
The Bruce coughed, clearing his throat before continuing. “Hopefully, this will encourage any other older pets with first-generation spooky Petpets to come forward! Maybe, just maybe they aren’t extinct after all!”