The Saga of a Soggy Biscuit
Things did not seem to be going very well for a young blue Peophin named Luxor one bright morning. For starters, he had rolled out of bed twice in the middle of the night and now was awakening to find himself sore and hungry. Wiping the back of one hoof across bleary green eyes, he stretched, rolled and muttered a good morning to the taciturn Liobits named Theie by his bedside table. Presently he dragged himself across the floor of the Neohome as usual, wincing every time his tail scraped a pebble.
"Ooooh," he groaned. Why wasn't the Neohome more Peophin-friendly? Waterways leading to every room would be nice, but his owner was on a tight budget that month after shelling out a good many Neopoints for a Faerie Quest, which meant Omelettes and Jelly at every meal.
Correction- for every meal. Luxor liked eggs as much as the next Neopet, but eggs three times a day for the last sixteen days would wear on anyone's nerves.
"Hello!" A female Green Peophin was already seated at the low and decidedly unsteady breakfast table, sky blue eyes shining. Well, anyone's nerves except Holly's. The youngest of the bunch, Holly was an eternal spring of joy and love. Some might call it optimism; some might call it obliviousness...
"What are you smiling about?" demanded a Xweetok with a bright red stripe running down her back. She yawned then scowled as she snatched the tall glass of Chili Prawn Juice she had from the Tombola from the fridge.
...Aaaand some might call it cloying.
Holly was busy conversing with her 'petpet', a pale, blank faced little Ditsy she had named, for some reason, Biscuit. Biscuit was her most prized possession; she carried it everywhere, and if it wasn't for the fact it wasn't even alive, it would be rather touching.
The Xweetok downed a bite of Sausage Omelette with her juice, giving Luxor a curious look. "Sleep well?" From behind heavy eyelids, sharp ruby eyes watched the actions of her sibling.
The blue Peophin sighed, poking disinterestedly at a Raspberry Jelly and observing it bounce back after every poke. "No. How 'bout you, Tera?"
Tera shrugged as she stuffed the remainder of the food into her mouth. Swallowing, she muttered "fine" as the last pet slipped in, a rather nondescript female blue Gelert, quiet and unobtrusive. The only distinguishing aspect about her was her flashing violet eyes that scanned the other pets in her usual frosty silence.
"Morning," she murmured, having chosen a glossy Mint Jelly from the table and a Cheops Plant from a concealed place in the fridge, she left the kitchen to eat alone.
"Morning to you, too, Solin," Luxor called to the vanishing figure, who flicked her tail in reply.
And so the day started fairly normally. Holly went off somewhere with Biscuit, Solin and Tera got in a fight over who would get the Ummagine for lunch, leaving Luxor alone to listen to his music and take a nap. Just as he was drifting off to sleep...
"LUUUXOOOOR!" A shrill wail cut through his blurring thoughts. Something heavy and smooth flopped down on him, crying fit to wake Balthazar.
"What in the- Tera," he growled automatically, pushing Holly off his bed, "what did you do this time?"
"I didn't do anything! Why do people always blame me whenever bad stuff happens?"
"Maybe because when bad stuff happens, you're behind it?" Sighing, he turned his attention to Holly. Sharing the bond of being the only Peophins and the only aquatic Neopets in the family, it wasn't uncommon for his little sister to turn to him in her 'hour of need'. "What happened, and what's in your hooves?"
A small, pitiful looking mass of wet tan something-or-other was clutched protectively in Holly's dainty golden hooves. Tears flowed down her face as she moved, shifting the pile to reveal two googly eyes.
"Oh, no..." Luxor picked up the mass gently in his hooves. A fresh torrent of tears flowed down the little Peophin's green cheeks. Tera poked her head inside, approaching the two with caution.
"What's wrong? Luxor?"
"It's Biscuit," he stated. What else was there to explain?
"C-c-c-c-c-can you f-f-f-fix him?" Holly's big shiny blue eyes peered into Luxor's emerald ones, begging with the intensity and trust that make siblings make promises they can't keep. She hiccuped pitifully.
"I'll try," the blue Peophin replied, gently scooping up the soggy remains of the paper petpet. "Now, Big Brother needs time to work, ok? So go and play."
Quick as a flash, Holly reared up on her tail and wrapped her forelegs tight around Luxor's neck. "Oh, t-t-t-thank you thank-k-k you thank you! I knew you c-c-c-could do it!"
As the green Peophin scooted out of her brother's room, Tera gave him a look. "Now what?"
The Peophin sighed. "What am I going to do? I can't fix him. He's wet paper, for crying out loud. What did she do to him?"
"Knowing Holly, she probably tried to take him swimming with her." Tera inspected the wet pulpy mass that sported shiny big eyes that seemed bright with tears. Sniffing it, she nodded. "Yep. Salty."
"All right. Any ideas?"
"Buy her a new one," Tera offered.
Luxor shook his head. "You can't buy a Ditsy, and even if I did, Holly would know the difference."
"The girl can't understand basic physics, and she'd know if we replaced this... thing?"
"It's Holly," he replied, as if this would answer all questions and solve all problems. "But... wait... Physics... I bet Solin can help us with this!" Luxor stretched, shook his head, and began dragging himself determinedly across the floor. "Let's go. We have a petpet to save."
"It's hard to look heroic when you're scooting, Luxor," Tera noted, eyes sparkling with amusement.
"Be quiet and carry Biscuit."
A few minutes of scooting on Luxor's part and slow walking on Tera's part found the two pets standing outside Solin's door. Tapping on the door with a golden hoof, Luxor waited. And waited. And waited. And probably would have kept on waiting if Tera had not taken action.
Gently setting the remains of Biscuit on the floor, the Xweetok lowered her head and charged the door, throwing herself at the unyielding surface.
A Plushie Airax opened the door moments before Tera rammed into it, and stared at the pile of red, black and brown fur with only mild interest. Sounding off with a sweet, three note whistle, the petpet flew off to land on a table a short distance away.
"Oh, hello, Tera. Glad you came prepared to beg if you're even hoping to get a favor from me." Solin looked down her muzzle at the Xweetok, who snarled with blatant hostility.
Luxor slapped her on the forepaw with his tail, having made it through the doorway without damaging the sopping petpet's remains. "Be nice. Yes, we have come to ask for something."
The Gelert gingerly took Biscuit from Luxor, holding it up to her face and staring at it for a moment. After a while, she blinked. "I take it this is Biscuit?"
"And Holly wants you to fix him?"
Tera answered for him. "Yes."
Solin gave Tera a freezing look. The look was returned with equal dislike.
Luxor rolled his eyes. "Solin," and this brought the Gelert's head whipping around to face him again, "what am I supposed to do?"
She smirked ever so slightly. "I want the Ummagine for lunch."
"Fine," Luxor stated. Tera intensified her glare and turned it on the Peophin. "I'll pay you back," he protested.
Standing up on her hind legs, Solin cleared space on the nearest table with a sweep of her paw that sent glass vials, books, and other experimental paraphernalia dangerously close to shattering on the floor. Carefully placing Biscuit on the table, Solin stepped back and scowled thoughtfully. Only one eye of Biscuit's was visible now, exceptionally pathetic all alone. Anainilos, the Plushie Airax from before, cooed to it, poking gently at the paper mass only to have its foot sink in. Jerking the foot out abruptly, it flew a short distance away, avoiding Solin's disapproving eye.
"I'm tempted to try flattening out it- Biscuit- then reshaping it from the paper pulp. Recycling, in a way," the Gelert stated at last.
"That sounds painful," Luxor murmured.
"It. Can't. Feel." Tera growled.
"Holly thinks it can," retorted the Peophin.
"Holly thinks a lot of things. Just because she thinks Biscuit can feel doesn't make it true."
Solin's tail cracked suddenly like a whip. "Both of you, shut up right now or I am setting Biscuit on fire. "
"...You wouldn't..." Tera said cautiously.
Luxor, seeing the dangerous path this conversation was going down, wisely decided to change the subject. "You can remake Biscuit?"
Still keeping her icy gaze on the Xweetok, Solin replied. "I could if I have a reference picture. Holly must have a picture of him in her room."
"Then, Tera, could you go into Holly's room and get a picture of Biscuit for us? Solin and I will stay here to get things ready."
"Why can't you go?" Tera protested, continuing to return Solin's glare.
"I'm a Peophin. Peophins cannot sneak on land. Remember? You said I was scooting?"
At last, Tera turned away from her Gelert sister. "Fine."
"Take Anainilos with you," offered Solin. "It's good at sneaking, too. Without it, I would NEVER have stolen those Flaming Mittens from your room for my last project..."
Tera huffed, scowling at her sister, then tossed her head and sauntered out of the room, the Plushie Airax dutifully following.
"Why must you be so antagonistic?" Luxor sighed, rubbing his forehead plate.
Tera cautiously opened the door to Holly's painfully girly room. Pink dominated every other color in the spectrum, blinding, nauseating Peppermint Stomach Medicine pink. Plushies of all shapes and colors littered the floor as if a toy factory had exploded in there, hiding the carpet from view.
The red Xweetok caught sight of a suspicious lump under the covers of the super-fluffy, Peophin accessible bed- a lump that indicated a sleepy little Peophin, all tuckered out after a good cry following the damaging of Biscuit. "Great," mouthed Tera. The petpet shrugged cheerfully, and began very quietly whistling a spy theme song in a surprisingly good impression of a saxophone as both began their stealthy walk across the floor.
Picking her way between masses of plushies that stared accusingly at her with embroidered eyes, Tera realized she could go no farther without detection. Motioning with her tail, she directed the Airax to a small, cushioned and very pink photo album on the table beside Holly's bed.
With a nod and a quiet swish of wings, Anainilos landed on the table, gently snagging the book in its turquoise talons. Beside her, Holly stirred.
Still clutching the book, Anainilos dropped to the floor, limp, and with a smile on its face. Tera ducked behind a particularly large pile of toys as Holly yawned, and murmured something about Jelly. She did not stir again as Anainilos and Tera left the room.
"Took you long enough," Solin stated as she flipped through the photo album, found a clear picture of Biscuit, and spread the petpet's soggy remains out on a tray. Tera huffed, and wrapped her tail around her legs.
Plucking the eyes off the paper mass and setting them aside, Solin picked up an identical tray and pressed it over the sloppy paper pieces, quickly stacking heavy books over it. "There," she said decisively.
"....There, what?" Tera queried, looking dubious. Solin huffed. "There as in, 'there, I'm halfway to solving your problem.' Once it dries, we fold it back up into its original shape, put back its eyes, and Holly will be happy."
Solin's gloved paw was thrust in front of Luxor's face. "Scalpel."
Obligingly he handed her a knife as the Gelert adjusted the position of the lamp illuminating the flat-ish paper sheet. If you could really call it that.
"Tape," she demanded again. Tera handed it to her this time, with one quick mutter about bossy little sisters. Solin did not reply, instead growling as a shape began to take form.
With one last dab of glue, Solin stepped back, and all three Neopets surveyed her handiwork.
Not even the best-intentioned ideas will turn out perfectly.
The three elder Neopets were left staring at a crumpled, folded, cut and generally abused figure of lumpy paper. It leaned away from them, as if trying to escape, and its eyes were still as pathetic and goggly as before. To top it all off, one eye was slightly off center.
"I wouldn't dare try anything else," Solin said quietly. Anainilos inched forward and cooed encouragingly to Biscuit. It fell over onto what was supposed to be its face, and the Plushie Airax set it back up again, dusting the paper figure off and quickly putting an eye back before anyone noticed.
Luxor, whose forelegs were resting on the table, promptly buried his face in them. "How can I face Holly? She trusted me with this."
Anainilos whistled in sympathy, not truly understanding the situation, but knowing discomfort when it saw it. Solin sighed. "I'm honestly sorry it didn't work."
"Luuuuxor? Where aaare you?"
The Peophin's head jerked up at the sound of his little sister's plaintive call. "I can't face her..."
Too late. Having awakened from her nap a minute or so ago, the little green Peophin was dying to know how Biscuit was doing. Holly popped her head through the door, and saw the pitiful body of her beloved Petpet.
"BISCUIT!!!" she squealed, sliding across the tile floor to reach up and snatch the Ditsy from the table. "Oh, Luxy! And Tera, and Solin... and even Anaini!" She stopped, and looked hard at the petpet. "...It's not Biscuit..." she murmured as realization dawned on her face.
"Holly..." Luxor began. But she interrupted with a hug.
"It's SOGGY BISCUIT!" With that settled, the little Peophin kissed the paper figure and scooted off once more.
Luxor looked at Tera, who looked at Solin, who looked at Anainilos, who peeped and shrugged its wings.
"I guess it just goes to show you that an Ummagine bribe and a little hard work can trick a Peophin little sister," Solin said.
Luxor sighed, accepted the oddness of his sisters, and made for the door. "I'm going to bed." With that, he scooted off.