Ahiruex, the Overworked Lab Rat
“No. I won’t do it.”
“Ruex – please!”
Ahiruex stormed out of the room.
I sighed. My Peophin had never been bad-tempered before. Perhaps it was something she was learning from her pet meepit.
I turned to my other pets.
“It’s your own fault, Fyora,” Coconut said. I sighed. I knew she was right. I was just hoping that one of my pets would support me.
“Fyora, I thought you wanted to fight Meuka?” Hannah said questioningly when I turned to her.
“I did, but this challenger seems so much easier!” I told her earnestly.
“Well, you should have looked in to Series Two before you set Ruex against Meuka three or four times in a row.” Lemon was unsympathetic, as usual. Maybe it was a lab-rat thing to be stubborn.
“I can’t believe you wasted 6k on those muffins,” Hannah said. I groaned. That was another thing on my mind; I had spent six thousand neopoints on two radioactive muffins only to have Ahiruex defeated by Meuka again. If he was always using them against me, it made sense to think that I might be able to do some damage against him. My brainy Usul, whose Battledoming days were long over, couldn’t be expected to understand my logic.
“I thought they would help,” I replied. At the time, I had thought that the muffins would help. But apparently only a sheer number of hit points would allow me to win against Meuka with Ruex’s current stats.
No. I didn’t think that. I’m proud of Ahiruex’s statistics. They’re even better than Lemon’s, who was my first lab rat. I just wish that they would even out. 75 hit points doesn’t really help when your strength is only thirty, or worse, your defense only ten. And those numbers changed every day. Unfortunately, they mostly changed for the negative.
“Maybe, Lemon, you could fight in the –” I began, trying to find an alternative. I had to beat Eyrieki.
“No, Fyora,” she said. “You know you want Ruex as your Battledome pet, as much as you want her as want her as your lab rat. You need to work this out with her.”
Lemon was right, as usual. I was just too chicken to face Ahiruex on my own. She may be a robot Buzz, but some of the sweet, yellow Kacheek she originally was is still inside of her. She shows wisdom beyond her years.
So does Hannah, now that I think about it. My beautiful snow Usul has read over one hundred books. She came from my first account, but I transferred her to this account a year or so ago. My decision to paint her snow was spur-of-the-moment, but I couldn’t resist the avatar paint brush made cheap by Key Quest.
Coconut, my other Usul, this one painted island, sympathized with Ruex. I had adopted her from the pound, too. She believed that I was pushing Ruex too hard in the Battledome, that I was expecting too much of her. When I had first adopted Coconut, I had attempted to trade her off at the pound chat. Now I am extremely glad that I didn’t.
Finally, there was Ruex. I had adopted her from the pound a few months ago, after Lemon had been zapped robot. I was looking for another lab rat. I had never been much of a Peophin fan before, but adopting Ahiruex changed my view on Neopia.
Okay, maybe not Neopia, but I looked at Peophins in a different light now.
I had never imagined that I was putting her through too much. I had never thought about what she might want out of life. I didn’t even consider that she might have been happy as ghost, or robot, or Christmas, or camouflage, or even mutant. I had only thought about my desire for a sponge or faerie Peophin.
But wait, it gets worse.
Getting mostly Battledome statistics from the laboratory ray is usual for anyone who uses it. I purchased the lab because I wanted cool, painted pets. I knew stats had been part of the deal, but I had hoped that I would be one of the lucky Neopians who got faerie or robot on their first zap.
When Lemon’s statistics started climbing, particularly the hit points, I began fighting in the Battledome more often. My first goal was to take down the Pant Devil, a Battledome challenger who had infuriated me from the days of before conversion. And I beat him. And I started winning more battles.
Ahiruex’s life was similar. She’d go to the lab every day, get zapped, usually earn Battledome stats, and then we’d go and fight. But I zapped her for longer than I zapped Lemon, and her stats climbed higher. I fought for the Defenders of Neopia. Beating the Pant Devil had made me hungry for another trophy.
When Ahiruex and I began facing off with Meuka, she had won almost all of her battles. But then Meuka would take us down time and time again. And I would make Ruex choke down the Dewberry Reviver time and time again. It had never occurred to me that she might get sick of it all.
Finally, I ran out of neopoints for Dewberry Reviver potions. The Healing Springs faerie wasn’t much help, because Ruex had such a large amount of hit points. So I took Lemon into the Battledome for a day, and took on someone easy: Mr. Chuckles. I had no idea that he was a challenger for Defenders of Neopia Series 2. With only ten hit points, we took him down easily. The Defenders of Neopia informed me of my next challenger, Eyrieki. I had wanted Ruex to fight him with me, but she refused. And that brought us to where we were today.
“I should go talk to her,” I said. My other neopets nodded emphatically. I walked out of the room, looking for my sketch Peophin.
“Ahiruex!” I called. “Ahiruex!”
My voice echoed back to me from the empty rooms of my classic neohome. Ahiruex was not in the house.
I turned to my other pets in the Sun Room. “I’m going out,” I told them. “I’ll be back later, with some food.”
I found Ahiruex sitting on the curb outside of our home. She was throwing pebbles into the yard.
“Ahiruex,” I began.
“No, don’t speak,” she said.
“But I’m sorry,” I told her.
“I’m sorry too,” Ruex admitted.
“Whatever for?” I asked, surprised. “I was the one who forced you to go to the lab ray every day against your will. I was the one who forced you to fight in the Battledome. I was the one who took you out of the pound and brought you into my home where you’re rarely fed and –”
Ruex cut me off. “Who says I didn’t want to go to the lab? Who says I had to be forced to fight in the Battledome? Who says I have a problem with not being fed? Most neopets don’t get fed this much!” She took a deep breath.
“I like going to the lab ray with you,” she said. “It makes me feel special. A precious few Neopians have access to the Secret Laboratory Ray, you know. I was proud to be one of the fewer neopets who can go there every day. And I like fighting in the Battledome. It’s fun to take down opponent after opponent. But I was sick of fighting today.”
“I’m sorry for forcing you against Meuka,” I said. “I just got caught up in the fact that beating him would get me an avatar and a trophy. I shouldn’t have pushed you so hard.”
“What you did was wrong, but that was no reason for me to lose my temper with you,” Ahiruex pointed out.
“You can’t help that,” I said, smiling. “You’re only Peophin.”
Ahiruex smiled back. I had a feeling that things were going to work out.
“Now what do you say we go kick some snotty Meerca tail?” Ruex asked.