The Meepit Show Strides Forth
(Setting: The Altador Stadium, more full than empty, although it is, to be honest, a fairly even split. The Yooyuball goals have been removed, and replaced with a large podium in the centre. Scattered around the stadium are scorch marks, and there are gaps in the stands, where seats have been destroyed. In a semi-circle around the podium are four stools. A Mutant Scorchio is standing on the podium, and the chairs are filled with the four contestants – from left to right, a Fire Koi, with a Green Yurble in a suit standing in front of him, a Red Techo wearing a white headband and carrying a stick, a Yellow Moehog carrying a harp, and a Yellow Skeith holding a doughnut. At the very top of the stadium, neon letters read ‘The Meepit Show’. Around the outside of the stadium, there are three entrances. One entrance is marked ‘Contestants’, another is marked ‘Roan’ and the third one is labelled ‘Producxzq’. A producer stands nervously just under the latterly-mentioned exit.)
ROAN: Good day, and welcome to the Meepit Show. Today, we promise to bring you an afternoon full of entertainment, intelligent banter and good quiz questions, courtesy of yours truly, somebody who never keeps promises. On the show this week, we have an array of intelligent pets, scoured from all four corners of the globe, which was a feat in itself given the rotund nature of most globes. But I can promise you that they are not the first people we could find. Let’s meet the contestants.
YURBLE: Good evening. I am...
ROAN: I wasn’t talking to you. I was talking to the person you’re standing in front of.
YURBLE: Yes, I know. His name is Orwell, and I’m sure you’ve all heard of him. (The Yurble beams around at the blank faces around him.) Orwell? You know? Of the world-famous band Orwell and the Flames?
(Roan lets out a snigger. The Yurble spins to face him.)
YURBLE: And what do you find funny about that?
ROAN: He’s called Orwell!
YURBLE: Yes. And?
ROAN: That’s hardly a lead-singer-of-a-rock-band name. Anyway, who are you?
YURBLE: Orwell has decided that he doesn’t talk to members of the public on Fridays. So I’m his official communicator with the outside world. My name is Mills. I am his organiser, his manager and his lawyer.
ROAN: That’s an awful lot of jobs. How much do you pay him?
MILLS: Well, he...
ROAN: I was addressing Orwell.
MILLS: But Orwell doesn’t talk...
ROAN: Exactly. It’ll keep you both out of trouble. Who’s next?
TECHO: (In a deep, wise voice) The Peophin does not swim in the deep.
ROAN: Good for him. Who are you?
TECHO: The Blumaroo passes like the falling of a leaf.
ROAN: No it doesn’t.
TECHO: (Sounding a little put off) Yes, it does! I’ve checked.
ROAN: I don’t believe you. Who are you?
TECHO: (Returning to wise voice) Some call me Master. Some call me Brother. Others refer to me as Wise One...
ROAN: Yes, but what should I refer to you as?
TECHO: (Normal voice) Wait, I haven’t finished yet. (Wise voice) To some, I am Bringer of Light. To others, I am The Light. Some unenlightened ones call me That Strange Pet With The Hairband Across His Face. But...
ROAN: No, stop there. I like that one. It has a ring to it.
TECHO: (In a louder, but equally mysterious voice) But you can call me Ryshu.
ROAN: No, thanks. I prefer That Strange Pet With The Hairband Across His Face.
RYSHU: That was a joke. To lighten the mood. After all, I am the Bringer of Light.
ROAN: Silence. I can’t take a lecture from somebody with a hairband across his face. Next contestant please.
MOEHOG: Greetinges and salutations, o great mastere of ye quizze...
ROAN: (Groaning) Great, not another madman. Producer, what’s wrong with these contestants?
PRODUCER: They were the only ones that wanted to come on this week.
ROAN: And you couldn’t convince anybody else to come on?
MOEHOG: Prithee, sire, if I may be allowed ye privilege of continuing...
ROAN: Fine. Whatever.
MOEHOG: Sire, I holde the position of Bard of the Courte in ye noble land of Meridelle. My name is Delbarios. Forsoothe, for ye shalt find...
ROAN: I’m sorry, are the ‘forsooth’s and the extra ‘e’s really necessary?
DELBARIOS: Indeed, sirrah. Allowe me to serenade you with ye ballade of ye olde times...
ROAN: Really, don’t. Let’s meet our last contestant.
SKEITH: (With a mouth full of doughnut) Sorry, what was that?
ROAN: Finally, somebody with an ounce of sanity. Who are you?
SKEITH: Ah, right. Yes. I have been assured that I am Detective Laskar of the Neopian Investigators.
ROAN: And are you?
LASKAR: To be honest, I’m not sure. But, as long as I’m served food, I’m not too bothered who I am.
ROAN: Excellent. Always nice to see somebody with their priorities sorted. And that’s all the introductions. Time to start the main quiz, which this week will be a simple question and answer game, the same as virtually every other week, except with different questions, and answers that will hopefully correspond. Everybody understand?
ROAN: Good. We’ll start with Orwell. Orwell, which executive is the inspiration behind Plushie Tycoon?
(Orwell leans towards Mills, and starts to whisper in his ear.)
ROAN: Hey! No conferring!
(Orwell whispers to Mills.)
MILLS: My client would like to enquire as to how he is expected to transfer his answer from him to you, without him talking to me, since he is still refraining from discussing with the general public.
ROAN: Firstly, I refuse to be referred to as the general public. If anything, I am an extremely specific member of the public. And secondly, is that flowery, eloquent prose really what he said?
MILLS: Well, his exact words were “Tell that irritating moron that I’m not talking to him.” Although he used more colourful language.
ROAN: In that case, tell him that he’s going to lose a point for an incorrect challenge.
MILLS: He can hear you!
ROAN: Yes, but I’m not talking to him. I don’t discuss things with people who are incapable of holding a conversation without the assistance of somebody else. The answer I was looking for was Simon the Scorchio. Next, we come to Hairband Hero.
RYSHU: (Waving his stick threateningly) Careful, or I will destroy you with my Staff of Great Power.
ROAN: I meant to ask you about that. Isn’t that just a branch broken off a tree?
RYSHU: (Unconvincingly) It’s a Staff of Great Power!
ROAN: Of course it is. Is that a Hairband of Great Power?
RYSHU: It’s not even a hairband! I don’t even have hair!
ROAN: Then why wear a hairband? Anyway, your question is as follows: a Neopet of which species introduced Dice-a-Roo to King Roo?
RYSHU: (Wise voice) Surely that would be the one who passes like a leaf.
ROAN: Are you talking about a Blumaroo?
RYSHU: (Normal voice, slightly irritated) Yes. I thought I made that clear at the start.
ROAN: Anyway, it’s correct. Help yourself to a point. Delbarios, which famous Neopian painter created works including ‘The Moaning Lisha’ and ‘Whistler’s Meerca’?
DELBARIOS: Ah, surely, sirrah, that would be the great Michael Acaro!
DELBARIOS: Wouldst thou like to hearest a song about him?
DELBARIOS: Please? It’s very good... I mean, ye wouldst finde it rathere entertaining.
ROAN: Oh, go on then. On the understanding that this will forfeit you any points you may have got for answering that question correctly.
DELBARIOS: Fully understoode, sirrah. (Delbarios plucks a note on his harp.) Oh list, while I singe...
ROAN: List what?
DELBARIOS: Anything. Just liste something. (Roan produces a pen and starts to scribble on the back of a question card.) Where was I? (Plucks the same note)
List while I singe of ye olde artiste
A pet from whome all otheres existe
From whome ye...
ROAN: (Without looking up) That’s a lie. Not everybody exists as a direct consequence of Michael Acaro.
DELBARIOS: Look, it’s artistic licence, er, sirrah, forsooth. It means I’m allowed to make things up as longe as they rhyme. What are you listing?
ROAN: Things I’d rather be doing than hosting a game show whilst listening to the ramblings of a Meridellian bard.
DELBARIOS: Do you have a lot of ideas, sire?
ROAN: Like you wouldn’t believe. How do you spell ‘throwing self off cliff’?
DELBARIOS: Generalley quite badly, sirrah. And with lotes of ‘e’s.
ROAN: Excellent – against all the odds, you’ve been a great help. (Throws card and pen away) Incidentally, the sirrahs and the sires are starting to get annoying. Can you stop saying them?
DELBARIOS: Er... can I keep forsooth?
ROAN: I can live with low level forsoothing.
DELBARIOS: Prithee, sir, for...
ROAN: Prithee, however, I can live without.
DELBARIOS: Apologies, sir. Forsooth.
ROAN: Good. And keep it that way. Laskar, where is the Chocolate Ball held?
LASKAR: Surely it would be the Chocolate Factory?
ROAN: Is that a question or a statement?
LASKAR: Er... which one would be right?
ROAN: I ask the questions!
LASKAR: So that would make it a statement, then?
ROAN: Was that a question?
LASKAR: Is this an answer?
ROAN: What are you talking about?
LASKAR: Do I look like I know? (He sniffs.) Is that a doughnut I can smell?
ROAN: Yes. You’re holding one.
LASKAR: (Looking at his hand) Oh yes. (He takes a bite out of it.) I was wondering where that had gone.
ROAN: Anyway, your answer was correct, but the question was absurdly easy, so you don’t get any points.
LASKAR: Do points mean food?
ROAN: No, points mean no lack of points. The opposite of antipoints, if you like. They can also mean prizes on a good day, but today does not count as one of them.
LASKAR: I don’t like. Unless these antipoints are edible, I’m not interested.
ROAN: Sadly not. Now, we return to Orwell.
MILLS: My client would like to interrupt at this point, and tell you that he isn’t used to having people being rude at him, and asks that you would be a touch nicer for the forthcoming question, otherwise he may be forced to take corrective action to ensure that such a misunderstanding does not reoccur.
ROAN: What does that mean in real terms?
MILLS: Verbatim, he said “He’d better be nice to me or I’ll set my bodyguards on him.”
ROAN: Oh. And are you his bodyguard as well?
MILLS: (Bristling) I could be!
ROAN: In that case, I’ve never heard of Orwell and the Flames, and have no doubts that their music is as appalling as the dress sense of their lead singer.
(Orwell’s eyes begin to smoulder, putting them on a par with the rest of him)
MILLS: (Angrily) My client objects to that insult very strongly.
ROAN: Good. I was hoping he would. Which scientist discovered the Gruslen?
MILLS: I know that! That was Professor J Kougar!
ROAN: How do you know that?
MILLS: Before I was hired by Orwell, I used to be one of the guards for Princess Lunara.
ROAN: Ah yes, I remember that. If I recall correctly, you weren’t suspicious of anybody carrying a large, Princess Lunara-shaped sack, but you would instantly apprehend anybody who didn’t know the species of the owner of the Collectable Coins shop.
MILLS: That was us.
ROAN: Anyway, you gain a point. Orwell, meanwhile, loses a point for not answering the question correctly.
MILLS: But I represent Orwell!
ROAN: I wouldn’t do, if I were you. You’ve just moved into the lead – joint with our next contestant, the Fashionable Freak.
RYSHU: I prefer Ryshu. Or Master, if you want to be more official.
ROAN: Unfortunately, what you prefer is the exact opposite of what I prefer, Servant. Or... not Ryshu.
ROAN: Thank you. Which organisation does Kanrik the Gelert work for?
RYSHU: (Mysterious voice) Ah, for, as the leaves blow, so too do these mysterious beings wander Neopia, silent as night.
ROAN: What, Blumaroos?
RYSHU: (Normal voice, exasperated) No, a different blowing leaf this time. The Thieves Guild.
ROAN: Is correct. You’ve earned another point, putting you in the lead now.
RYSHU: It was foretold, for, just as a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, so too does the master become the student.
ROAN: If you say so. Delbarios – why?
DELBARIOS: Forsooth, sir, is that the questione which thou shalt pose to me?
ROAN: No, it’s just for my general understanding. Why would you choose to be a bard for a world notorious for its miserable leader?
DELBARIOS: Doth thou...
ROAN: And, before you start explaining, I ask that you only use words that would be recognisable by your average sane person, and only use the letter ‘e’ sparingly.
DELBARIOS: Er... it pays well. Lackaday.
ROAN: Does it? I wouldn’t have thought it would. And I happen to be in possession of every day I’ve ever needed. Anyway, you lose a point.
DELBARIOS: Sire, for whate reasone?
ROAN: Mainly because I’m allowed to.
DELBARIOS: But sire, methinks...
ROAN: Methinks thou dost protest too much! Now silence! Laskar, which clan is the Highland Chia from?
LASKAR: (Munching on the last remnant of his doughnut) If I get this question right, do I get food?
LASKAR: Then what’s the point of answering? I’m hungry!
ROAN: So you’re refusing to answer?
LASKAR: Yes. I’m going on hunger strike.
ROAN: That won’t last. Anyway, you lose a point for getting the question wrong, and another point for going on an ill-fated hunger strike.
LASKAR: It’s not ill fated. I’m striking because I’m hungry! When I’m less hungry, I’ll stop striking. Now, where’s my food?
ROAN: The kitchens are through there. (Roan points to the contestant’s entrance)
LASKAR: Good, good.
(With remarkable speed, Laskar rises from his seat and moves towards the entrance. His movement is not running – in fact, it seems to be casual walking, only whilst covering the ground travelled by a... well, for lack of a better metaphor, like a Skeith provided with copious supplies of free food. Within seconds, he is out of sight)
PRODUCER: Roan, we don’t have any kitchens.
ROAN: No. But now, we don’t have anybody who needs a kitchen, so the problem’s solved itself. The best type of problem, really. Anyway, Orwell, what is the most popular way of travelling to Shenkuu?
MILLS: Flying ships.
ROAN: Correct, but I hadn’t come to you yet, Mills, so you lose a point. The question was addressed to Orwell.
MILLS: But we’re on the same team!
ROAN: Unfortunately, this isn’t a team game. If you’re acting in collaboration, then I’ll have to disqualify you both. Actually, I wouldn’t have to – but I would choose to, and that would make it all the more special.
MILLS: You can’t do that!
ROAN: Give me one good reason why!
MILLS: Subsection 6b of the Gaming Commission, which states that, if a game show specifies that individuals must participate, if, for whatever reason, the participating contestant is unable to convey by conventional methods their answer to the host, it is their right and obligation to appoint a necessary interpreter to relay the answers on their behalf.
ROAN: Oh. I didn’t know that.
ROAN: Was that a snide comment? You can lose points for that!
MILLS: That wasn’t me. That was Orwell.
ROAN: Wait, I forget. Are you now the same team or are you two separate contestants, or are you both disqualified?
MILLS: Er... yes.
ROAN: Good, that’s what I thought. You gain a point.
MILLS: Who does?
ROAN: Both of you.
MILLS: Brilliant. Can I have his point, as official guardian?
ROAN: Have you decided you want to win this now, then?
MILLS: That depends. Is there a cash prize?
ROAN: Yes... of course. (Aside, to the Producer) How much change have you got on you?
PRODUCER: (Rifling quickly through his pockets) Er... forty-seven neopoints.
ROAN: (Announcing) Yes. There are, in fact, multiple cash prizes!
ROAN: Yes. Forty-seven of them.
MILLS: In that case, I’m in. (To Orwell) I resign! I’m seeking better pastures elsewhere!
(Mills moves away from Orwell, and stands on the podium vacated by Laskar. Orwell looks annoyed)
ROAN: Fascinating scenes here, something that we’re unaccustomed to on the Meepit Show. Now, we move on to Ryshu.
RYSHU: Yes, for united we stand, divided we fall. Many winds blow.
ROAN: Yes, I knew I shouldn’t have had that can of beans. Which important book is looked after by Finneus the Lenny?
RYSHU: You ask that of me, the one who was originally involved in the production of the book? Patronise me not, grasshopper.
ROAN: That’s a long and incorrect title. You lose a point.
RYSHU: No, I was merely criticising the question. The answer is the Book of Ages.
ROAN: I’m sorry, I need to take your first answer.
RYSHU: That was my first answer!
ROAN: Well, in that case, I’ll need to take your second answer.
RYSHU: The Book of Ages!
ROAN: You’re not allowed to repeat yourself.
RYSHU: Insolent understudy! Do you not understand the movements of those beyond your understanding?
ROAN: No. Because they’re beyond my understanding. Honestly, for somebody who claims to be referred to as ‘The Wise One’, you’re not very wise. And I could even dispute the ‘One’ – there must be many who are wiser than you, even without the aid of Headgear of Power!
RYSHU: (Drawing himself up) I refuse to continue with this abomination! I have other people to attend to. People who appreciate the Staff!
(Ryshu turns and stalks out of the arena.)
ROAN: And four become three. I quite like this new method of eliminating contestants. Any others interested in leaving at this point?
ROAN: Really? I clearly haven’t been doing my job properly. So, bard, have you ever considered using something modern?
DELBARIOS: Like what?
ROAN: Real words, for a start. Nobody speaks like that any more.
DELBARIOS: I must proteste, sire, for I doth find that I dost speakest in the manner of youre description.
ROAN: No, you don’t. You keep forgetting.
DELBARIOS: No, I don’t... eth, sirrah, forsooth... oh, bother. You’re right. It’s a stupid language.
ROAN: And it’s a daft harp.
DELBARIOS: I only brought it for the look. I don’t even know how to play it. I just pluck a string and hope for the best.
ROAN: That’s what most of the Neopian Philharmonic Orchestra do.
DELBARIOS: Really? Sounds like an interesting proposition.
ROAN: Feel free to leave and investigate. I’ll send Skarl a letter of resignation.
DELBARIOS: That’s very kind, but he can’t read. I should probably go and tell him myself. (Thoughtfully, to himself) I could resign in song...
ROAN: (Encouraging) Good idea! Why don’t you go and practice your resignation song?
DELBARIOS: I’ll do that. (Softly) Ye land of Meridell, beautiful and sunny/ I’m leaving now, to earn more money...
(Delbarios leaves, dragging his harp behind him. The harp is quite big. It’s a slow departure.)
ROAN: And then there were two, one of which doesn’t speak. We find ourselves in a tie-break situation.
MILLS: (Indignantly) No, we don’t! I’ve got more points than him!
ROAN: Unfortunately, since you shared a team for the majority of the show, you also shared the points. So you’re level.
MILLS: But you told me I was in the lead! You gave me points.
ROAN: Yes. Roan can give, and Roan can take away, although he may need the help of a calculator with the latter.
MILLS: (Angrily) You’ll be in all sorts of legal difficulties after this!
(Mills turns and storms away, passing Delbarios, who is still struggling towards the contestant’s entrance.)
ROAN: So, with poor reviews, legal threats and the wrath of Dr Sloth, it’s safe to say that the Meepit Show is rapidly achieving all the goals that I set out for it at the start. And, as two become one, it is my extreme pleasure to be able to announce the winner of this edition as the person who is yet to speak! Even if it is by default. Orwell, any celebratory words?
(Orwell glares at Roan.)
ROAN: Is that a no? Never mind. I prefer Sticks N’ Stones anyway. They do proper music. And they have better names than Orwell!
(Orwell’s eyes begin to blaze.)
ROAN: I mean, Orwell? It sounds like the name of a Neopet farmer, not a Neopia-famous musician. I could possibly see it as the name of an older brother of a musician. The one that nobody really likes, who sits in the background.
ORWELL: That’s it! I can’t take this any more! You’ve destroyed my legal team, my management and my organisation, you’ve been continually rude about my name, and you’ve offered nothing in return.
ROAN: What a succinct and accurate description of the Meepit Show. Producer, make sure that you put that on the adverts – ‘The Meepit Show: Degrades you, and offers nothing in return’.
ORWELL: Now, where’s my money?
ROAN: Your forty-seven neopoints?
ORWELL: (Aggressively) Is that all? Your advert said that you would be offering money beyond your wildest dreams!
ROAN: And have you ever had a dream about winning forty-seven neopoints on a game show?
ORWELL: (Short pause) No.
ROAN: There. It’s beyond your dreams, then. Give him the money, Producer.
PRODUCER: But... it’s my money.
ROAN: No, now it’s the nice rich musician with the stupid name’s money.
(The Producer reluctantly passes a handful of coins to Orwell.)
ORWELL: (Looking at the money in his hand) This was really not worth it.
ROAN: Another good quote. Do you want to be our publicity manager?
ORWELL: No. I’m leaving.
ROAN: If you are, could you give that bard a hand with his harp? It’s a bit big for him, I’m afraid.
ORWELL: No. I’m busy stropping.
(Orwell strides stroppily out, with no consideration to either Delbarios panting, and heaving the harp across the arena, nor to the fact that stroppily is not a word.)
ROAN: And, as our second-to-last contestant leaves the show, that’s about it from us this week. Join us next time, where Ye Olde Poete will probably still be trying to leave.
DELBARIOS: You know what? This instrument’s only worth twenty neopoints. And, if I take much longer, I’ll forget my Ode to Resignation.
(Delbarios drops his harp, which lands on the floor with a musical ‘twang’, and strides purposefully out of the coliseum.)
ROAN: Producer, can you clear that up?
PRODUCER: No. The show’s over; I’m going home.
ROAN: We’ll just leave it there, then. It’s quite a nice harp. Besides, I’m the only person who’s free to move it now, and I’m allergic to manual labour.
(The Producer leaves through the exit marked ‘Producxzq’, Roan leaves through the door marked ‘Roan’, and the crowd, having no door marked ‘Crowd’, mill about, waiting for somebody to write them an exit. The harp lies abandoned in the middle of the stadium)
Six hours later...
(Night. The crowd have managed to escape, and the coliseum is deserted. Suddenly, a figure comes in from the contestant’s entrance.)
DELBARIOS: You know? It was a good twenty neopoints I spent on it, and I’ll be the son of a Kacheek if I’m going to leave it here.
(Delbarios picks up the instrument, and starts to drag it towards the exit)
DELBARIOS: It’s going to be a long night.
(He starts to hum ‘Ode to Resignation’ to himself.)