Shift and Trixie, and Also Kee
The faerie Wocky started as her doorbell sounded. She was brushing her tangled cream-colored hair, but she ran downstairs to answer it.
The Wocky opened the front door to reveal a slender blue Aisha probably a few years younger than she. The Aisha was holding a clipboard and had long bangs that nearly obscured her eyes, which were dark and sullen. Her straight black hair was tied in a short ponytail. She was wearing jeans and a black shirt.
“Yes?” asked the Wocky politely, smiling.
“I’m Kiki,” said the Aisha, not smiling back. “From the Day-With-Your-Idol organization. We’re having a contest consisting of a random draw.”
“I’m not interested in entering any contests, sorry,” apologized the Wocky, starting to close the door.
“No, wait! If you are selected,” Kiki explained rapidly, “then you’ll win a day with your favorite celebrity. They’ll come to your house in the morning, and you can go out and spend an entire day with them!”
The Wocky caught her breath. “You mean- can it be any neopet? My idol?”
Kiki nodded. “We have contracts made with most neopet celebrities out there.”
“I- I-” stammered the Wocky. “What about- Jeran? He’s my absolute hero!”
“Naturally,” replied the Aisha.
“How much does it cost to enter?” Please let it not be too much, she prayed.
“Only 5000 NP.”
The Wocky nearly danced in relief. “I accept!” she said hurriedly, and got out her wallet to pay.
“Thank you, ma’am,” said Kiki, still unsmiling. “I have your address, of course, but could I trouble you for your name?”
“Oh- yes. I’m Ellen Cremrie.” Ellen swallowed and then said, “It’s so great that your organization is doing such a generous thing!”
The blue Aisha’s blank expression became, if possible, even more blank. Then, without another word, she turned and walked back down the street the way she had come.
“I’m back!” called Kee as she kicked the front door open and stepped into the house. “Not that anyone cares,” the blue Aisha muttered darkly.
“Finally!” complained a girl’s voice from an adjoining room. “What took you so long, Kiki?”
The blue Aisha narrowed her eyes at the use of her full name, which she hated, and stomped into the room. A Blumaroo and an Usul were sitting at the table, and she flung her clipboard at them.
“There’s the poll results,” announced Kee bitterly. “Another week’s sheet of random people we’re going to swindle out of money.”
“Simmer down, sis,” said the Blumaroo lazily, reading the list. “We’re not taking all their money, only- ah- a small portion. They’re filthy rich; they won’t care.”
“Would you care, Shift?” spat Kee.
“Shut up, why don’t you,” said her brother harshly.
“Also, Trixie, your natural hair color is creeping in at the roots.”
The Usul looked up in alarm. “Are you serious? But I only played Hannah yesterday!” She examined her brown hair in the mirror, and sure enough, her roots were jet black. “OMG!”
“Jeran! That’s perfect!” cried Shift with his finger on Kee’s clipboard. “Thank Fyora. The rest of this list is practically just Altador Cup players. I’m sick of playing Lilo Blumario. He’s an idiot.”
“Idiot he may be,” said Trixie, twirling her hair, “but Shift darling, you got a fire yooyu out of that exchange, remember?”
“You mean, ‘KIKI darling, you STOLE a fire yooyu’,” corrected Kee. “I expect more credit when it involves smuggling out a flaming, struggling, live petpet.”
Predictably, the two pets ignored this.
“Kiki darling, here’s some money,” said Trixie, throwing a bag of clinking neopoints at the Aisha. “Catch a boat to Mystery Island and get a Lupe trans and a blue paint brush from the Trading Post, okay?”
The Aisha glared at her, then at Shift, but he simply said, “See you later. Make sure to be back before dinner.”
“Otherwise you won’t get any,” added Trixie.
“Off you go.”
Kee left the house, slamming the door shut behind her so that it shook the house. While Trixie and Shift rarely stayed as the same pet for over two weeks, Kee had remained a blue Aisha all her life. A few months ago, her brother was still the pet that he had been born as, too, but that had all changed.
Trixie had not been part of the family then, and Kee and Shift were eating at the Soup Kitchen. But one day Shift won a yellow Xweetok morphing potion from the Wishing Well, against all odds. Instead of selling it, he drank it, and the next day they ran away from home and met Trixie the Ixi.
She and Shift had immediately hit it off, and before Kee realized what was happening they had moved in with this cruel, scheming girly-girl. She, too, was poor, but had been thinking up a plan for months. “You are just the right people to help me,” she told them enthusiastically.
The plan was this: Kee, who apparently “just doesn’t have that acting flair that you have, Shift darling” would go door to door at a few wealthy neohomes at a time. She would tell them the same thing she told Ellen Cremrie, and they would give her their name, their idol’s name, and the contest admission fee.
After that, the plan started to get illegal. Trixie and Shift would look over Kee’s poll results and pick out the easiest celebrity to do. Depending on the gender, one of them would be morphed and painted into the celebrity’s species and color, using the “contest fees” along with cash from earlier hauls. After a week of preparation, they would set out for the “winning” address.
Kee would accompany the “celebrity” to the house, and introduce him or her to the astonished “winner”. Then, once Trixie or Shift had gone inside with them, Kee would wait outside until they had left the house with their doting fan to spend the day somewhere. It was then up to the Aisha to steal the goods.
“Oh, hey, Kiki,” giggled Trixie when Kee returned home later that afternoon. Shift said, “Hey,” and grabbed the items from the Aisha without a word of thanks.
“Should we head to the Rainbow Pool?” he said, eyeing the transmogrification potion with distaste.
“Yeah, let’s,” agreed Trixie, and they left the house. Kee sat down and stared spitefully at nothing until they came back, Shift now a blue Lupe with a mop of yellow hair.
“Very dashing,” remarked the Aisha sarcastically. “Remember to cut your blond hair off. It clashes.”
Shift brandished an imaginary sword. “Lupes are almost as cool as Xweetoks.”
“You’ll get to be a Xweetok again very soon, darling,” said Trixie. “After this haul, we’ll have enough to retire.”
Kee stared at her. “You mean we’re finally going to stop cheating people? How much do we have?”
Trixie smirked and twirled her hair. “Enough to live in luxury for the rest of our lives. Not to mention getting morphed and painted into our dream pets.”
“Fantastic!” yelped Shift, punching the air.
“I’m going to be an Ixi again,” sang Trixie. “Back to the pet I was born as!”
“Yeah, me too,” said Shift excitedly. “Even after all this shape changing, I’m still a Xweetok deep down.”
Kee twisted around. “Don’t be stupid,” she said. “You know you weren’t a Xweetok FIRST.”
Trixie frowned. “What? Of course he was, right, Shift darling?”
The blue Lupe laughed casually and said smoothly, “Of course. What else would I be?” His suave voice contrasted sharply with the threatening glance that he gave his sister when Trixie wasn’t looking.
“Oh, gee, I don’t know, maybe a-”
Lupe claws dug warningly into Kee’s throat as Shift put a brotherly arm around her. “Come off it, sis,” chuckled Shift. “You’re just jealous that you weren’t born a Xweetok too!”
The Aisha took the hint and said nothing. The claws withdrew and Shift put his arm down.
“I’m gonna be painted faerie,” rang Trixie’s voice. “Faerie pets are SO pretty.”
Kee scowled and thought of Ellen Cremrie. Faerie pets were not just pretty, they were breathtakingly beautiful. It didn’t seem like they could have any worries whatsoever- there was nothing holding them down to the ground. One thing for sure: Trixie definitely did not deserve to be one.
“You’re already pretty, sweetie,” said Shift absentmindedly, making Trixie blush and simper nauseatingly. “Me, I’m gonna be painted pirate.”
There was a short silence after that. Kee had just had a ghastly thought which she knew was most likely true. Her dread overwhelmed her as she struggled inside, trying to get up the courage to speak.
“Um...” muttered Kee. “Do I... that is... will I be painted, too?”
Silence. The Aisha closed her eyes.
“Well,” started Trixie hesitantly. “I mean, well, Kiki darling, you haven’t really done that much-”
Kee’s head snapped up.
“I mean, Shift and I do most of the work,” continued Trixie, avoiding the Aisha’s accusing stare. “It’s really only fair that you should earn your own money, instead of just living off of us the whole time.”
“Wh- wha-” sputtered Kee. “You just have fun acting like celebrities! Well, you know what, who sneaks into all those FREAKING MANSIONS and steals ALL THAT FREAKING STUFF for you!? I’M the one doing all the dirty illegal work; I expect to at least get a decent paintbrush!”
Trixie squealed something about the time and bolted from the room. Shift laughed uneasily and Kee turned on him. “Some brother you are,” she hissed at him. “Denying your true species at birth, exploiting your younger sister... I don’t know why I put up with this, but for some reason I swallow my guilt and continue to con people. I can hardly sleep at night... How can you stand yourself!?” she demanded. She took a deep breath then plunged on. “I bet that if we ever get caught at this you’ll just blame it all on me. Then I’ll get thrown in jail and rot there while you and Trixie live in luxury. That’s what you want, isn’t it? You want me to be out of the way so you and ‘Trix sweetie’ can live happily ever after.”
She was practically spitting venom at him. Her eyes were burning with a black flame. Shift backed away. “Look, sis,” he said coolly, smiling at her. “Don’t get upset. We’re brother and sister... You’re still going to stay with me, aren’t you? You won’t leave your big brother, will you?”
“Shut up!” screamed Kee. “I hate you!”
There was a long silence. He’s my brother... my BROTHER. The Lupe smiled at her, holding out his hands, almost hypnotizing in his sickly sweetness.
The Aisha said dully, submissively, “I’ll do whatever you say, Shift.”
A week later, Kee was back at Ellen’s neohome- neomansion, more like- and was waiting outside under a window. The window scraped open, and Shift’s voice said, “Ah, that’s better. Fresh air. That air faerie, Psellia, who rescued me during the war with Kass, still drops in from time to time...” The Lupe walked away from the window.
If she had wanted to, Kee could have followed the conversation further by focusing her antennae-ears on the voices, but instead she tuned it out miserably. After a few minutes, she was jolted by the sound of the front door slamming shut.
“...and I just really admire how you always want to help others,” the faerie Wocky- Ellen Cremrie- was gushing breathlessly as she and “Jeran” walked out onto the street. “I just wish I had your selflessness!”
Kee slipped through the window fluidly. The Aisha didn’t bother looking around; all neohome layouts were relatively the same... the Safety Deposit Box was always in the basement. She went straight to a small door under the marble stairs and opened it onto a rickety wooden stairway leading into darkness. Kee switched on a small overhead light and made her way down.
At the bottom was the large metal door that Kee knew opened into all SDBs. Usually the Aisha would just pull it open, but to her dismay she saw a small golden dial near the handle. A PIN lock.
She whispered one of Shift’s favorite swear words and spun the dial hopelessly. Miss Ellen was smart enough to have a Personal Identification Number protecting her SDB. It was very effective: Kee could not get in.
This was ghastly. Kee knew that Shift and Trixie would not take very kindly to her not bringing home any goods, whatever her excuse. She stood blankly in front of the looming metal SDB door, then got down on her paws and knees. There was a small space between the bottom of the door and the floor. The Aisha pressed her eye to the crack and squinted through.
She could only see the bottom shelves of the wall-length cases that held whatever Ellen had chosen to put in there. The light was terrible, and she couldn’t make out a lot of things. But she could see quite clearly the two items closest to the door.
One was a codestone. The other was Kauvara’s potion.
Kee sat up and breathed deeply. She had a plan. For now, all she had to do was to wait for Shift to get back.
The Aisha smiled thinly to herself. She had a lot of time to kill...
Shift and Ellen Cremrie returned at four in the afternoon. Kee, who was upstairs in the Wocky’s bedroom standing in front of a huge wall-length mirror, froze as their voices reached her antennae-ears. The Aisha guiltily stripped off Ellen’s Dark Princess Superpack from the NC mall and dragged on her own cheap clothes. Then she snuck out into the hallway and peered down the marble stairs at the two neopets below.
They were sitting in the living room, “Jeran” lounging on a sofa while the Wocky sat across from him with her back to Kee. The Aisha leaned over the balcony and waved at her brother. Shift noticed this in surprise and gave her a death glare.
Kee hadn’t expected anything else. Now that she had gotten his attention, she retreated out of sight and leaned against a wall, her antennae-ears cocked to the side. “Hey, Ellen,” she heard Shift say. “Do you mind if I use the restroom quickly?”
“Oh, sure. It’s upstairs and to the left.”
Kee looked to her left and saw the door. She ducked inside and sat on the edge of the bath, marveling at how huge Ellen’s bathroom was. A moment later, Shift barged into the room and snarled at her, “What the heck are you still doing here? This better be-” He stopped short and looked at her weirdly. “Kee? Why the heck is your hair down?”
The Aisha’s paws flew up to her head. “Uh... yeah, I just was... never mind.” She put her long dark hair back into a ponytail. “The SDB has a PIN lock. I can’t get in. BUT,” she added hurriedly as she saw the Lupe’s face darken in anger, “I looked underneath the door and saw Kauvara’s Potion.”
“That’s great, but how the heck will we get it now?”
Kee outlined her plan quickly.
Shift nodded curtly. “Got that.”
He left the bathroom and went downstairs. Kee rushed to Ellen’s bedroom and opened a window. She climbed down the tree outside, then ran around to the front of the house to ring the doorbell for the second time in a week.
“Oh, hello again, Kiki!” said Ellen in surprise. “What is it? I thought Jeran could stay for another hour.”
“He can,” said Kee solemnly. “But I’m afraid I have bad news. May I come in?”
“Oh- of course,” said the Wocky, ushering her across the threshold.
Shift rushed up. “Oh no,” he said anxiously. “Is it Lisha?”
Kee bowed her head. “Yes. I’m very sorry, Sir Jeran, but Meridell Castle sent a messenger to our company saying that your sister’s condition has worsened.”
The blue Lupe collapsed on the sofa. “No!”
Ellen stared at him with concern. “Your sister- Lisha- she’s sick?”
“Yes,” choked Shift. “She fell ill a week ago. Nobody could figure out what she had, not even Kayla. We have no idea how to cure it, since we have no idea what it is!” He sighed and put his head in his paws. “I’ve stayed by her side ever since she fell ill, but yesterday my poor sister seemed to be getting better on her own. So I thought I could leave her for a little while to do this.”
“Oh no!” whispered the faerie Wocky, tears in her eyes. “I’m so sorry. You shouldn’t have come just for me!” She swallowed. “You should go right now so you can be with her.”
“I doubt that will help now,” said Kee. “She’s apparently unconscious, and her fever is so high they’re afraid for her life.”
“Have they found out what she has?” croaked “Jeran”.
“No. Nothing works. Apparently Illusen says that only a really powerful potion especially designed for curing any disease would work.”
“Like Kauvara’s potion!” said the Lupe excitedly. Ellen gave a small gasp. “I remember Kayla talking about it; I can go get one now from Kauvara’s shop. It’s here in Neopia Central!”
“Kayla already tried that. They’re completely sold out, and Kauvara says she can’t get the ingredients until a couple weeks from now.”
Shift’s face fell. “A couple of weeks from now, it may be too late,” he murmured sadly, and closed his eyes in grief. “My poor sister. I love her so much. I don’t want to lose her.”
Those words replayed over and over in Kee’s brain. She tried to convince herself that they referred to her.
“No- wait-” cried Ellen. “I happen to have Kauvara’s potion stashed away in my Safety Deposit Box! It would be such a small price to pay for this wonderful day you’ve given me.”
“Jeran” successfully assumed a look of both hope and horror. “No! We couldn’t possibly do that to you.”
“No, really!” said the Wocky, practically jumping up and down. “You must! I feel so guilty for keeping you away from your sister. I feel almost responsible for the fact that Lisha has gotten worse. You must take it. I’ll be right back!”
She dashed to the door underneath the stairs and disappeared into the basement. Shift smirked at her retreating back and winked at Kee, who did not smile. She was still telling herself that if she herself fell deathly ill, her brother would be just as concerned as he was acting now.
But she knew that she was just fooling herself.
“Here!” gasped Ellen Cremrie, flying up the basement steps into the room. She was clutching the starry potion happily. She thrust it eagerly into the blue Lupe’s hands.
“I... I can’t tell you how grateful I am, Ellen,” murmured “Jeran”, staring at the potion. Kee thought she saw his eyes flash with greed for a moment.
The faerie Wocky smiled. “I’m just glad I got to do something for my idol.”
Suddenly the Aisha had had enough. She left without another word.
It was time to act.
“Good morning,” said Kee the next day as a Lupe and an Usul stumbled out of their bedrooms into the dining room. She was setting the table for breakfast. “I got up early to go to Mystery Island. I traded Kauvara’s Potion off and got you the transmogrification potions and brushes. I thought you’d like to become your dream pets as soon as possible.”
Shift and Trixie blinked at her sleepily. “Wow... thanks, Kee,” said Shift in surprise.
“I also got a special breakfast from Mystery Island to celebrate,” continued the Aisha. She gestured at two mugs overflowing with pink. “Thornberry Fruit Grog.”
“Looks delicious,” said Trixie. They sat down.
“To our future life!” announced Shift confidently, knocking his mug against Trixie’s. They both lifted their drinks to their lips.
Kee watched carefully.
For a second, it seemed like nothing had happened. And then-
Trixie choked and bent over the table, hacking out rasping coughs. Shift looked at her in concern as her fur turned a dark green and became diseased and damaged. She finished choking and started to shudder in convulsions, turning to look at Shift. Her eyes, quickly becoming red, widened as they went to the top of his head. Shift had cut off all his blond hair to play Jeran, but now it was shooting out of his skull at the speed of light. And now the rest of his blue fur was following its lead; it turned light green and then a bright yellow.
Kee stared at them in wonder, her eyes flicking from one to the other. Now Trixie’s fur was a disgusting dark green. Her paws were transforming into convoluted hooves; twisted black horns sprouted from her head. She developed a small muzzle with a large dark red nose and rotting fangs. Her Usul tail shrank into an Ixi tail. She was screaming hysterically as she writhed around, falling off her chair and knocking over the table.
But the transformation that Shift was undergoing was by far more entertaining. His yellow fur was puffing out. His body started to shrink abnormally; his limbs were now non-existent, his fluffy, bawling head was shooting down to meet his orange, knobbly feet; and now Kee’s brother was a bright yellow puffball rolling around on the floor and squealing.
The Aisha grinned, then laughed out loud. She realized she hadn’t laughed in months, and laughed again. Kee picked up her brother and cradled him in her arms, giggling hysterically. “Why so glum, Shift? Haven’t you just been yearning to return to your birth form? You KNOW that even after all this shape changing, you’re still just a cute widdle JubJub deep down, aren’t you?”
Shift stopped squealing and stared at Kee in horror. “KEE!” he screamed. “WHY- HOW COULD YOU-”
Trixie had finished transforming by now, and the new mutant Ixi pulled herself up to stare at the two siblings. She still had brown-dyed hair, now hanging in greasy strands. “Yuh... y... you were born a JUBJUB??!!!” she rasped at Shift, loathing and disgust written all over her loathing and disgusting face.
“Trix!” squeaked the JubJub. “Trix, sweetie, I can explain! Help me, Kee!”
Kee started crying through her laughs. She thrust the puffball away from her.
The Ixi ignored Shift’s plaintive cries. Instead she focused her bloodshot eyes on his sister and screeched, “K- KIKI!!! YOU BETTER HAVE A FREAK- K- KING FAERIE PAINT BRU... SH... SH!”
She was REVOLTING. Kee backed away impulsively. “I do,” the Aisha wept and laughed, and produced one from her shopping bag. Then she smiled, tears streaming down her face, thrust the brush back into the bag and whispered, “But it’s for me.”
Trixie opened her hideous maw and screamed bloody murder as the Aisha bolted from the room, and opened and slammed shut the front door one last time.
You used me, brother. I stayed by your side out of love. Now I leave forever.
Later that morning, Trixie’s and Shift’s entire savings were withdrawn out of the bank. Around noon, there were screams of joy at the Money Tree as many neopets came across very generous donations. And soon after that, Ellen Cremrie’s doorbell rang.
The faerie Wocky opened the door to find Kauvara’s potion sitting on the doorstep. Propped up against it was a note. Ellen picked up both items, read the note, and leaned back against the door frame with a sigh, and was surprised to hear a sigh echo hers from somewhere above. She looked up.
Soaring up into the sky was a familiar Aisha. She looked the same as she had the day before- jeans, dark shirt, and black ponytail- except for the sparkling pink wings on her back.
“Good luck, Kee,” murmured Ellen, and was answered by a rueful laugh.