The Trouble with Trillian
“Lianne doesn’t often take this long to check on her side accounts,” Isla observed worriedly over the Usuki tea party her youngest sister, the newly morphed-and-then-painted snow Uni Carol Elizabeth, had convinced her to play with her. The second oldest of the family, a biscuit Kougra, reached over to straighten the Magical Hair Usuki that was slumping in her chair.
“Will you relax, Isla?” Athena peeped down from her top bunk at the two pets playing on the floor in the middle of their shared bedroom. “She’s probably just gone to the boards to advertise the lending of her newly painted snow pet!”
Carol Elizabeth jumped, upsetting the teapot and pouring water all over the stool. “Isla!” she whined. “Lianne won’t!”
“’Course she won’t,” Mei said, uncharacteristically coming to the rescue of her indignant youngest sister. The oldest of the four pets had made a sort of temporary truce with her little sister ever since the Affair of the Faerie Paintbrush. She looked up at her sister on the top bunk, even putting aside Gelert Paw Reading for a second. The ghost Korbat flew up to join Athena. “Don’t be silly, Athena.”
“Oh, coming from you!” quipped the Christmas Koi playfully.
They both scrambled down from their double bunk bed and sat around the Usuki tea party table.
No sooner had they done that than the doorbell rang.
“Now who can that be!” Isla said, getting up. “If it were Lianne, she’d have let herself in.”
Isla wandered out of their bedroom, through the hall and squinted out of the keyhole. Lianne waved at her.
“Lianne!” Isla opened the door. “I was getting worried—what?” She gazed with amazement at the white Grundo trailing shyly behind Lianne, a feepit held tightly in her arms.
Lianne grinned at Isla and went into the pets’ bedroom. “I’ll explain. Sorry I couldn’t let myself in, I’m still on my side account. Girls!”
Four pets gaped at the white Grundo.
“Who is that?” Carol Elizabeth wrinkled her nose at the new pet.
“Girls, this is Trilliansofnp, but we’ll call her Trillian. And this is her feepit Trouble.”
Mei sat down on her bunk with a sigh that was infused with resignation. “It’s never boring in this family. Explain.”
“I was browsing the pound and I noticed Trillian sitting in a cage on her own. The Uni Rose told me that Dr Death liked to pick on her. And she was so sad, well, I decided to adopt her for a bit and make her... happier!”
“Nothing to do with the feepit attached?” Carol Elizabeth said rudely.
“Shut up, Carol-Liz,” Mei said, with an abrupt return to her natural relationship with her sister.
“No, nothing to do with that.” Lianne glared at Carol Elizabeth. Seeing the new pet start to shuffle off, she smiled at Trillian. “Trillian, meet the family! The ghost Korbat is our eldest, and the willing lab rat, Mei! Second oldest is the Christmas Koi, Athena. Then comes Isla, the biscuit Kougra, and then the youngest is Carol Elizabeth, the Snow Uni. No doubt Trouble will be very happy with their petpets, Peyton the black faellie, Shellin the snow Snowbunny—”
“She’ll get to know them later.” Carol Elizabeth said. “Or not. Lianne, why can’t she stay with the other side account pets?”
“Aw, don’t be like that, Carol Elizabeth,” Lianne said, seeing Trillian shoot a fearful glance at her. “She’s a new addition to the family! She’s got to be welcomed.”
Athena and Mei crowded around Trillian, fussing over their newest sister, bombarding her with questions about her life in the pound and offering their sympathetic exclamations to her answers. Isla, the family’s petpet sitter, stroked and petted the little feepit Trouble and called out to Trillian how cute she was. Lianne bustled around dragging out an old Orange Kreludan Bed, one of the millions she’d won from Key Quest.
Only Carol Elizabeth stood aloof, glaring stonily.
Trillian looked past Isla, Athena and Mei to glance questioningly at Carol Elizabeth. “Is... something wrong with Caroline Bethany?” she asked timidly.
“It’s Carol Elizabeth!” Carol Elizabeth retorted. “And yes, Trilliansofnp, something is wrong. It’s all wrong! We can’t just pick up random pets from the pound. We don’t know anything about her.”
“But we will.” Isla spoke up for once in her life. “It’s going to be great fun, Carol Elizabeth. I was so thrilled when Lianne brought you home. It was so great getting to know you, that was the best part.”
“Carol Elizabeth, stop that fussing, alright?” Mei said sharply. “Well said, Isla.”
Isla, notorious for being Carol Elizabeth’s favourite sister and constant supporter and confidant, shrank back against her bunk bed as though the Snow Uni was advancing menacingly on her with a Super Attack Pea in hand.
“Yeah, stop it, Carol Elizabeth,” Athena echoed.
Carol Elizabeth was never cowed, even with her two older sisters ganging up on her. She threw them all a contemptuous look and climbed into her bed.
Lianne stopped pushing against Trillian’s bed, having it in the desired location, and looked quizzically at Carol Elizabeth. “In bed already?”
“Uh-huh.” Carol Elizabeth’s muffled voice floated out from under a mountain of quilts.
“You three get to sleep too, okay? Trillian, come with me. They’ve had dinner, but you must be hungry. How would you like—?” The door slammed shut and her voice faded away.
The room erupted into chatter.
“Isn’t she wonderful?” Athena breathed, sitting up in bed and blinking in the dim light. “What a pretty name—Trillian!”
“She’s pretty interesting, yeah.” Mei admitted. “Ever since The Affair of the Faerie Paintbrush got published I’ve been interested in writing. Do you think she’d let me interview her for an article about the Pound?”
“Won’t it be nice not to be the youngest in the family anymore?” Isla whispered to Carol Elizabeth, who gave no answer. There was a pause. “You’ll like her, I know it!” she murmured before she fell asleep.
Carol Elizabeth, huddled under her quilts, was already sleeping and dreaming fitfully that Lianne pounded her so that she could transfer Trillian to her main account.
“It’s just a nightmare,” Carol Elizabeth muttered to herself as she woke up, shivering.
Sunlight was streaming in at the partly opened window. Her three sisters were already awake and gone from their bedroom. No—four sisters. The extra bed served as a horrible reminder of yesterday’s events.
“It’s not just a nightmare.” Carol Elizabeth sighed dejectedly as she tumbled out of bed. She gave her sheets a tug, and decided to leave it be. Let Isla and her lovely new sister Trillian tidy it up.
Trouble’s large, bulbous eyes watched her as she tidied herself and dressed. The other petpets were still fast asleep. Carol Elizabeth scowled furiously.
“Lianne—I’m hungry!” she wailed as she flounced into the kitchen. She blinked. Breakfast was set out, but there was nobody there.
“Lianne! Hello?” she bawled as she ran from room to room.
Finally, she found Isla, Mei, Athena, Trillian and Lianne at their Safety Deposit Box, crowding around it worriedly.
“Carol Elizabeth, you seen that Glowing Paintbrush I won from Key Quest last week? I was going out early to put it in my trades, and it’s gone!”
Carol Elizabeth’s heart fell dramatically.
“Gone?” she gasped. “But, Lianne, you were going to buy us all new clothes with that money!”
“I know,” she said miserably. “But if we can’t find it, there won’t be any new clothes for any of you, I’m afraid.” At the groans and sighs that met her words, she added, “I’m sorry, I just can’t afford it right now!”
Trillian stayed oddly quiet. Or so Carol Elizabeth thought as she turned to the white Grundo with narrowed eyes. “Trillian, have you seen it?”
“No!” Trillian said, upset. “I haven’t.”
“Of course she hasn’t seen it,” Isla said in that gentle voice of hers. “She only just arrived yesterday evening, remember?”
“I remember!” snapped Carol Elizabeth. “Maybe, during the night...?”
“Carol Elizabeth!” Athena admonished. “You can’t be serious!”
“She’s kidding, Trillian,” Mei said, automatically moving to shield Carol Elizabeth from view and not really succeeding with her translucent ghost form. “You’re kidding, Carol Elizabeth,” she hissed at her mollified sister.
“That’s enough!” Lianne called out. “Of course I don’t believe any one of you took it. I may have misplaced it. It’s a mystery—hey, mystery! You five go to Mystery Island and have fun while I ransack the Neohome looking for it, right?” She dug up a fistful of Neopoints and thrust them at Mei. “Go on!”
She literally shooed them out of the house and disappeared back inside.
It didn’t take long for them to get to Mystery Island. Isla hadn’t been there in some time, and while Mei and Athena went there almost once a week, they were thrilled at the prospect of showing Trillian around. Carol Elizabeth, irritated that they hadn’t believed her theory that Trillian had stolen the paintbrush, lagged behind sulkily.
“...it’s beautiful, I can tell you,” Mei finished as the boat drew up to the yellow shores of the island. “Told you! It’s beautiful! Who’s up for a Tiki Tour?”
Trillian oohed and aahed appropriately. “I never even been out of Neopia Central. My old owner just left me in the Neohome all day,” she said tragically.
“It’ll be different now you’re with us,” Athena promised as Carol Elizabeth pretended to gag behind them, thankfully out of sight of Trillian. Isla saw, though, and sighed.
“Try to be nice, Carol Elizabeth,” she whispered.
The day passed very pleasantly. Trillian was so thrilled with the Tiki Tour they went on several more. Finally, as the sun went down, they finished up their game of Mynci Beach Volleyball and trooped back to the harbour.
It was a short journey back to Neopia Central, so they were back in no time. They weren’t surprised to find their Neohome in a huge mess, and were met at the door by a near desperate-looking Lianne.
“No sign of it—and now my complete Codestone collection is gone, too!” she wailed.
They calmed her down as Mei and Trillian went to the kitchen to prepare hot chocolate for the six of them before they all went to bed.
“It can’t be the Pant Devil, can it?” Trillian asked anxiously over her steaming chocolate.
“Of course not, Trillian, don’t you know the Pant Devil can’t steal from the Safety Deposit Box?” Carol Elizabeth said savagely. Trillian coloured. Her blush was painfully obvious on her white skin tone.
Lianne frowned at Carol Elizabeth. “Carol Elizabeth—”
The snow Uni jumped up. “Yeah, I know, ‘shut up, Carol Elizabeth’, ‘be nice, Carol Elizabeth’! I’m right, I know it. Trillian’s a thief.” With that unexpected outburst she abandoned her hot chocolate (!!!) and darted for the bedroom.
Trillian started to go after her, but Mei shook her head at her.
“Leave her be. She’s alright, she’s just upset. She needs some alone time,” Lianne said wisely. When Trillian continued to look upset, Lianne suggested that all four of them go to bed a bit early. There was a huge rush for their room, and Mei and Athena fell asleep almost instantly, worn out from the action-packed day. Isla glanced miserably at her youngest sister, sighed, and settled down on her pillows.
Trillian didn’t sleep. When she was sure they were all asleep, she walked over to Trouble.
As usual, Carol Elizabeth was the last to wake up. Even the petpets were gone, Trouble with them.
Carol Elizabeth sprang into action.
She ran over to Trouble’s padded basket and yanked the pillow off it. No sign of the glowing paintbrush or the codestones. She groaned aloud, then she caught sight of Trillian’s bed in her peripheral vision. There were slightly more pillows than yesterday... or were they pillows?
The young Uni grabbed the covers and pulled. Lo and behold, there were the missing items.
She let satisfaction well up in her for a few minutes, enjoying her victory, before she leaped into flight and literally flew out of the room to the kitchen. Her hooves skimmed the table, knocking over a plate of breadfish.
“Neat, we can fly in the house now?” Mei exclaimed, and darted into the air. Mei was a faster, more graceful flier than her sister, and flew almost every day.
“Mei, Carol Elizabeth, get down!” Lianne barked. “No, the rule has not changed. No flying in the house!”
They sank down to the floor.
“Lianne, guess what I found in someone’s bed?” Carol Elizabeth’s eyes gleamed as she revealed the missing items.
“Carol Elizabeth! Where did you find those?!” Lianne gasped.
“Trillian, you tell them.” Carol Elizabeth was indulging herself. She spun around, and noticed Trillian wasn’t there. “Where’s Trillian?”
“Walking the petpets,” Isla said helpfully.
The doorbell rang. Carol Elizabeth flew to the door, and opened it. Trillian stood there, the petpets clustered around her legs.
Carol Elizabeth grabbed her by the arm, not bothering with a greeting, and pulled her into the kitchen.
“Ladies, the thief!” she announced. “No, don’t try to get out of it, Trillian. I found these in your bed!”
If it was possible, Trillian seemed to grow even paler.
“But I checked! I checked everywhere!” Lianne cried. “It can’t have been Trillian.”
Before anyone could retaliate, Trillian burst out, “I’m sorry! I’m so, so sorry! But let me tell you my side of the story.”
There was a gasp. Then Lianne gave her a curt nod. Trillian took a deep, shuddering breath and began.
“I was a lab rat. I was zapped into a faerie Grundo. Then I turned white. As you know, white Grundos can easily be obtained at the Virtupets Space Station, so I was no longer of value. I was zapped and zapped but I couldn’t change back. So I was pounded.
“You must understand that Trouble was the petpet lab rat. He was zapped into a feepit, but she started out... as a... as a...” Trillian took another deep breath... “as a meepit.”
There was another collective gasp.
“I was like his slave. He stole the items. I found them yesterday night in his basket. I was so guilty, I just put them in my bed, where I knew they would be found. I was planning to run away, but first I wanted to do you all a simple favour, anything, to start to repay your kindness, so I walked the petpets. I didn’t think it would be found such a short time afterwards. I’m so sorry!”
Lianne let out a long breath. “Well, that settles it, then.”
“What’s going to happen to Trillian?” Carol Elizabeth asked.
They were sitting at the dinner table, and Trillian was conspicuous for her absence. Lianne wet her lips.
“She’s alright. I sent Trouble to the Home for Lost Meepits, where he’ll get his share of Juppie Juice every day.” They all shared a grin. “As for Trillian, I transferred her to a friend of mine who takes in pets with a traumatic past, paints them, and pounds them again so they have a good chance of being adopted. Trillian is now a Desert Grundo who has been adopted by a rich Neopian as a companion for her rare, beautiful, very well named, but lonely Royalgirl Draik.”
So ended another episode in their very eventful lives. Trillian got a new paint job and a new family, Trouble got his rehabilitation, and the four sisters got their new clothes with the money from the glowing paintbrush and a new family friend.
If you're reading this, I GOT INTO THE NT AGAIN! Yay!