The Kacheek Club: A Sabotage Story
Gwen the Island Kacheek adjusted the brim of her Jaunty Plaid Hat and tapped her foot impatiently. She and her friends were at the annual Pound benefit. The benefit was used to raise Neopoints to care for pets in the Pound.
"How long do you think we'll have to wait before it starts?" asked Bridgette the Faerie Kacheek, applying a fresh coat of Strawberry Lip Gloss onto her lips as she talked.
"It should start in a couple of minutes," muttered Xana the Disco Kacheek, looking down at her pale blue wristwatch.
Sarina the Cloud Kacheek appeared next to them with a Garlic Butter Hot Dog in her paws. "Is it just me, or is the food that they usually sell at the benefit better this year?" she asked, taking a generous bite out of the hot dog. Sarina didn't notice the random splotches of greasy butter that surrounded her mouth as she chewed.
Bridgette pinched her nose and waved away Sarina's undesirable garlic-scented breath. "It's just you," she replied as her eyes began to water from the stench.
"May I have your attention, please?" Rose the Pink Uni, who was in charge of the adoption booth in the Pound, adjusted the microphone on the small, wooden stage.
The pets in the crowd continued to chatter among themselves.
"Excuse me?" asked Rose politely. She waited, but the pets refused to stop conversing.
"Be quiet, already!" Rose screeched into the microphone.
The chattering turned into small murmurs, and the murmurs eventually quieted down to silence.
"Thank you," the Uni said graciously. "Now, as you guys probably all know, the yearly benefit is an effective way to raise money for the Pound. Instead of doing the usual walk-a-thon, I've decided to mix up the rules a bit. This year's benefit will center around doing various activities to earn Neopoints. Everyone will have exactly three days to raise as many Neopoints as you can. There will be four exclusive prizes for the person who raises the most Neopoints."
The crowd cheered, and a couple of empty hot dog trays were thrown into the air.
"The prizes that you guys will all be competing for are..." Rose cleared her throat, put on her bright purple reading glasses, and unfolded the piece of paper in her hooves.
"An ultra-stylish Pink Domed Petpet Bed for all of you petpet-lovers out there," began Rose.
Thinking of how much her Snowbunny would love a pink petpet bed, Gwen's eyes widened in excitement.
"A certificate for a shopping spree at Uni's Clothing Shop," Rose continued.
Bridgette's eyes sparkled at the thought of a shopping spree.
"A copy of Faerie Gardens, autographed by Queen Fyora herself..."
Xana gasped and covered her mouth with her paw.
"And last of all, a box of Patterned Chocolate Eggs," finished Rose.
Sarina's mouth watered at the word 'chocolate'.
"So, get to work, everyone! I can't wait to see how many Neopoints we can raise this year." Rose grinned, then turned off the microphone.
"I'm gonna go get some Fizzy Apple Juice," announced Sarina, heading off towards the refreshments table.
"That Pink Domed Petpet Bed is so mine," said Gwen once Sarina had left.
"Unless, of course, someone raises more Neopoints than you," pointed out Bridgette, who was obviously implying herself.
"Well, neither of you guys would get any prizes if someone else managed to raise the highest amount of Neopoints for the benefit." Xana smiled matter-of-factly.
"Of course." Gwen grinned nervously. "Listen, I'm going to start brainstorming for some ideas. See you guys later." The Island Kacheek practically flew down the street.
"Me, too." Bridgette waved good-bye to Xana, and she disappeared after Gwen.
"I might as well start thinking of ideas, too." Xana quickly dashed after Bridgette and Gwen.
Sarina walked back to the deserted area with a glass of Fizzy Apple Juice in her paw. "Uhhh... guys?"
Gwen pushed her Golden Sun Glasses up the bridge of her nose as she pedaled towards Mrs. Drenerm's Neohome. Mrs. Drenerm had agreed to pay Gwen if the Kacheek agreed to give her Doglefoxes a walk each day in the park.
"Gwen! Over here!"
Gwen recognized the voice as Sarina's, and she stomped down on the brakes of her Pink Racing Bike. "Sarina?"
"In the flesh!" Sarina grinned and waved from her Krawkade stand on the sidewalk.
"Is this your, um, idea for raising Neopoints?" asked Gwen as she walked over to Sarina's stand.
"Yep! My mom said that she used to run her own Krawkade stand. She was saving up for a Plushie Petpet Paint Brush."
"Did she eventually raise enough Neopoints to get it?" Gwen asked curiously.
"Nope, my mom got lucky and found one lying underneath the Money Tree." Sarina shrugged. "So, would you like a glass of Krawkade? It's only three hundred Neopoints per cup."
"Sure, why not?" Gwen nodded.
"Blueberry, Cherryberry, Grape, or Orangeberry?" Sarina listed the different Krawkade flavors.
"Uh, I'll take Orangeberry." Gwen watched as Sarina poured some Orangeberry Krawkade into a Pink Cybunny Cup.
"Here ya go." Sarina handed the cup to Gwen and wiped the sweat off of her forehead. "Have you heard about the book signing next week at the Book Shop? Illusen is signing and handing out free copies of Illusens Journey."
Gwen wiped her Krawkade mustache with her paw. "Are you going?"
"Nah." Sarina shook her head vigorously. "I've been waiting for Vira to do a book signing. I hope she'll sign my copy of Viras Revenge."
"Isn't Vira sort of, uh, evil?" asked Gwen.
"Only partially." Sarina shrugged indifferently. "Oh, and did you know that Bridgette's doing makeovers to raise Neopoints? She told me about how she was going to use her skills to beautify Neopia's inhabitants."
"Really?" That piece of news interested Gwen. Suddenly, a deliciously devious idea came to her mind. "I gotta go. Bye, Sarina!" She slammed the cup down on the table and hopped onto her Pink Racing Bike.
Sarina waved the empty cup in the air. "Wait, aren't you gonna pay for this?!"
"Just a little bit of this... and a splash of that..." Bridgette mumbled to herself as she switched between using Brown Eyeshadow and Tan Blush.
"Are you done yet?" Brista the Orange Poogle fidgeted as Bridgette closed the eyeshadow compact.
"Not yet! How do you expect me to finish if you keep on twitching like that?" Bridgette checked her own reflection in the wall-length mirror across her room. Just as she had planned, the pink artist smock she was wearing made her look like a professional makeup artist.
"Well, it's just that you wasted thirty minutes trying to find that pink smock," replied Brista as Bridgette turned up the volume on her favorite M*YNCI song on the Cloud Print Speaker.
"Oh, stop complaining. In case you don't remember, Altador wasn't built in a day." Bridgette rolled her eyes at Brista's impatience.
"What? This makeover is gonna take a day to finish?" Brista sounded horrified.
"Kidding, kidding!" assured Bridgette as she swiped a tube of Pink Lipstick over Brista's lips. The Faerie Kacheek paused and scanned the various kinds of makeup laid out on her Fyora Inspired Vanity Table. "Hmm, I think I'm out of Glittering Faerie Dusting Powder. No worries, I've got tons in the bathroom closet. Stay right there, Brista. This will only take a sec!"
Brista sighed hopelessly but remained seated in the Illusen Chair.
A few minutes after Bridgette disappeared, Gwen popped into the doorway.
"Oh, hey, Brista!" Gwen waved casually as she entered the room.
"So, what are you up to?" Gwen glanced at the makeup on Bridgette's vanity table.
"Bridgette's giving me a makeover," explained Brista. "She just went to get some more Glittering Faerie Dusting Powder."
"Ah." Gwen nodded understandingly. "Say, Brista, do you like Illusen?"
"Like her? She's my role model!" Brista's eyes twinkled in admiration.
"Re-ally?" Gwen pretended to look shocked. "What a coincidence! It just so happens that Illusen is hosting a book signing at the Book Shop today. She's signing books and everything."
Brista took a deep breath but never seemed to release it. "Seriously?!"
Gwen nodded. "Seriously. But if you want to go, then you'd better hurry. I heard that Illusen is going back to her glade in Meridell in, like, twenty minutes."
"Oh no!" Brista gasped. "I guess I'd better get going then. Thanks so much, Gwen! I owe you one!" The Poogle jumped up from the chair and dashed out of the room.
"No problem." Gwen smiled in satisfaction and sat down in the Illusen Chair to wait for Bridgette.
"Okay, Brista, so it turns out that I didn't have any more Glittering Faerie Dusting Powder. Don't worry, though, I'm gonna substitute it with-" Bridgette stopped abruptly in the doorway at the sight of Gwen lounging in her Illusen Chair. "What are you doing here?" asked Bridgette, her eyes narrowing in suspicion. "Where's Brista?"
"I came to inform Brista about Illusen's book signing today," replied Gwen. "She left a couple of minutes ago to go to the signing."
"Oh, well, that makes sense... Hey, wait a minute! The book signing isn't today!" Bridgette glared at Gwen. "It's next week!"
"I know." Gwen grinned mischievously. "But unfortunately for you, Brista doesn't." With one last triumphant smile, Gwen walked out of Bridgette's room.
Bridgette gasped. "Sabotage!" she hissed.
"Hey, Sarina!" Xana waved at her friend as she approached the Krawkade stand. "How's it going?"
"Good. I just sold five cups of Krawkade this morning." Sarina grinned. "What's in the tote bag?"
"Flyers. I figured that I would tutor pets for Neopoints for the benefit," explained Xana. She pulled a handful of colorful flyers out of the Rainbow Kacheek Tote slung over her shoulder. "Do you think you could hand them out to your customers?"
"Sure!" Sarina placed the tutoring flyers next to her Faerieland Team Water Bottle. "Hmmm, I wonder what Gwen's idea for the benefit is. She forget to tell me this morning when she stopped by."
"Oh, I heard from a source that Gwen was going to walk Doglefoxes for Neopoints," replied Xana. Her eyes rested on the Valentines Kadoatie Plushie that was sitting on a stool next to Sarina.
Sarina caught Xana's gaze. "You see, it gets pretty lonely at my Krawkade stand, so I brought along my plushie for company. When I don't have any customers, then I play Kiko Match II with her." Sarina pointed to the deck of Kiko-themed cards resting in a corner of the table. "Surprisingly, she always manages to win."
"Actually, your plushie just gave me an idea." Xana smiled sweetly. "Sarina, can I borrow your plushie?"
"Erm, sure, I guess." Sarina handed the plushie over to Xana. "Just make sure to keep her away from Doglefoxes. My neighbor has a Doglefox, and it's always trying to tear the stuffing out of my plushie."
Xana instantly felt guilty as she accepted the plushie. She figured that she would buy Sarina a brand-new Valentines Kadoatie Plushie once she was done with her 'idea'.
Gwen strolled down the sidewalk in the park, humming the Hikalakas' latest hit single. Five Doglefoxes, all belonging to Mrs. Drenerm, pulled and tugged on their leashes, begging Gwen to walk faster. "Just two more days of this, and I'll have a new petpet bed for Snowy," muttered Gwen, smiling slightly. It would all be worth it in the end.
Suddenly, a flash of faded white and pink caught her eye. There, resting underneath a tree a few feet away from her, was a Valentines Kadoatie Plushie. Gwen would have thought it was the real thing if she hadn't seen the stitches in the fabric.
"That kinda looks like Sarina's plushie," mumbled Gwen. Before she could say anything else, she felt the force of five Doglefoxes jerk her forward. Suddenly, the Doglefoxes were all scampering over to the Kadoatie plushie, pulling a disgruntled Gwen after them.
"Aaaah!" Gwen squeezed her eyes shut as the Doglefoxes pulled her across a giant puddle of mud. She would have let go of the leashes if it weren't for the fact that her paw seemed to be tangled in them. Thankfully, the Doglefoxes stopped pulling her when they reached the plushie. Gwen quickly untangled herself and tried to wipe the mud off of her face.
"Is that you, Gwen?" Xana, who had been walking along the sidewalk, rushed over to Gwen.
Gwen swiped mud off of her forehead, then glared at Xana. "It was you, wasn't it?"
"Guilty." Xana unsuccessfully tried to hide her smile.
"How could you ruin Sarina's plushie like that?" Gwen pointed at the Doglefoxes, who were happily chewing and tearing the plushie apart.
"I bought her a new one at the Toy Shop," replied Xana. She held up the shopping bag that was dangling on her wrist.
"I hope you know that this isn't over," said Gwen.
"Don't worry, I didn't expect it to be." Xana grinned and made her way back to the sidewalk.
"One Cherryberry Krawkade, please." Bridgette dropped three hundred Neopoints into Sarina's money jar.
"Coming right up!" Sarina ran over to the cooler and pulled out a new bottle of Cherryberry Krawkade. "How many Neopoints have you raised so far, Bridgette?"
Bridgette sighed hopelessly. "Not much. Gwen stopped by my house and got rid of my first makeover customer. I've been trying to find a new one."
"Really?" Sarina wrinkled her nose in frustration as she tried to twist the cap off of the Krawkade bottle.
"Yep. Actually, I think we're all sabotaging each other's chances." Bridgette shrugged.
"Ooh, am I part of it?" Sarina's eyes widened with hope.
"Uh, no offense, Sarina, but you haven't done anything to even ruin someone else's chances of winning," Bridgette replied.
"Oh yeah? Take this!" Sarina pulled out a cup and poured some Blueberry Krawkade into it. "Here!"
"Blueberry Krawkade?" Bridgette looked at her friend in confusion.
"Yup! You see, you ordered Cherryberry, not Blueberry." Sarina grinned proudly. "See? I can sabotage stuff, too."
"Um, yeah. Wow. You got me." Bridgette slowly took a sip of the Blueberry Krawkade. "What's this?" She pointed to the stack of Xana's flyers.
"Oh, those are Xana's tutoring flyers. I'm supposed to hand them out to my customers." Sarina took a flyer from the pile and handed one to Bridgette. "I'm thinking about signing up for Xana's math tutoring. She said that she would be teaching stuff about pie."
"Okay, Sarina, I may not be good at math, but even I know that Xana was talking about Pi, not pie," said Bridgette as she examined the flyer.
"Um, why did you say 'pie' twice in your sentence?" Sarina asked curiously.
"Oh, never mind." Bridgette directed her attention to the flyer in her paws. "No way! Xana's charging one thousand Neopoints for each tutoring class you sign up for! If she gets a lot of customers, she could win this thing." After a moment of brainstorming, Bridgette finally smiled. There was only one thing to do.
Xana sat across from her latest customer - Fiona the Shadow Blumaroo. For the past three hours, she had been busy trying to tutor Fiona in science. Since Xana had the distinct feeling that everything she was explaining to Fiona was simply going in one ear and coming out the other, she decided to skip over to grammar.
"I still don't get why you signed up for science and grammar classes, Fiona," Xana said in exasperation. "After all, you've got the second highest grammar grade in the class."
"Uhhh... yeah, well, I just decided that I needed some help with verbs and stuff," replied Fiona. For some reason, the Blumaroo was sweating.
"Well, alright, I guess." Xana stood up from her cushy Snowflake Bean Bag and headed over to her Cloud Bookcase. She pulled out The Big Book of Verb Conjugation, a book she had rarely ever read since she had mastered the art of verbs by the first grade.
"Okay. Repeat after me. Verbs show action and state-of-being," said Xana slowly.
"Um, verbs show fractions and state-of-hearing."
"No, Fiona, it's 'action' and 'state-of-being'."
"That's it! I-I can't take this anymore!" Fiona jumped up from her Mazzew Bean Bag and began pacing in front of Xana. Words spilled out of her mouth. "You see, Bridgette kinda talked to me before I came over your house, and she said that she would give me a Candy Heart Necklace if I agreed to sign up for your tutoring classes. Bridgette told me that I had to act like I didn't understand any of it so that I would waste all of your time and you wouldn't have a chance of winning." She stopped pacing and turned to face Xana, taking deep breaths and cringing as if expecting Xana to morph into the Darkest Faerie.
"Sooo... let me get this straight. You don't need to be tutored?" Xana raised her eyebrows.
Fiona shook her head slowly. "It was all a trick." She took off her Candy Heart Necklace and began nibbling the giant pink heart-shaped candy in the center. "If you want, I can help you find some more pets who need tutoring. I guess it's the least I can do, since I just wasted the past three hours of your life."
Xana took a deep breath and finally smiled a little. "Sure, that'd be great."
Eventually, the last day of the benefit came. It seemed like everyone was fighting. Gwen was glaring at Xana, Bridgette was expertly ignoring Gwen, and Xana refused to talk to Bridgette. The only one who was at peace was Sarina, who was smiling serenely. The Cloud Kacheek was completely oblivious to the rising tensions swirling around her.
"Alright, everyone. I'm sure that you all have worked your hardest these last three days. But let's see who managed to defy the odds and raise the most Neopoints for the Pound." Rose adjusted her Pretty Pointy Hat and fixed her Delicate Wispy Cape as she waited for the results. After a couple of minutes, a red Zafara ran onto the stage holding a reflective silver envelope.
Gwen, Bridgette, and Xana all held their breath as Rose tore open the lid of the envelope.
"And the winner of this year's benefit is... Sarina!"
"Sarina?!" Gwen, Bridgette, and Xana said in unison as Sarina looked pleasantly shocked.
The crowd erupted into cheers as Sarina made her way up to the wooden stage where Rose was standing.
Gwen, Bridgette, and Xana turned to face each other. Each Kacheek had a look of guilt on their faces.
"I'm so sorry-"
"I shouldn't have-"
"It was mean of me to-"
"Group hug?" Gwen held her arms out.
"Hug!" Bridgette and Xana replied, and the three of them hugged each other.
From the stage, Sarina saw her friends hug and smiled to herself.
Rose took control of the microphone and began her speech about how everyone was a winner, but the Kacheek Club had tuned her out.
"I guess I really didn't need that Pink Domed Petpet Bed anyway," said Gwen.
"Yeah, and I suppose I can live without that shopping spree," put in Bridgette. "After all, I already pre-ordered the clothing I want from Uni's Clothing Shop for the next two seasons."
"I could always just buy Faerie Gardens myself." Xana smiled.
"Now, let's award Sarina her well-deserved prizes. Here is your book, the shopping certificate, and the petpet bed." Rose handed the prizes over to Sarina.
Sarina looked down in dismay at the prizes in her arms. "But wait - where's the chocolate?" she asked.
"Oh, we didn't get a chance to buy any from the Chocolate Factory. I'm sure you understand, right?" replied Rose.
"No, I don't understand." Sarina glared at the Uni. "I just spent the last three days of my life underneath the burning sun selling Krawkade! All I wanted was the box of Patterned Chocolate Eggs. I'm trying to cut down on reading, I don't like shopping, and I don't even have a petpet for the bed!"
"But, Sarina-" Rose began, but the Kacheek interrupted her.
"I'm outta here!" said Sarina. She handed the prizes back to Rose and headed down from the wooden stage. Sarina joined her friends in the crowd again.
"Well, then." Rose shook her head and cleared her throat. "Um, does anyone want these prizes?" she asked into the microphone.
"Me!" Gwen, Bridgette, and Xana raised their paws in unison.