The Not-so-Alien Aisha
Author’s Note: This story is linked with my DeSoni stories, but it shouldn’t be necessary to be familiar with them to understand this story. It takes place about five Neopian years ago, at the time Sloth was first coming to power. (According to my timeline, not literally.) Hope you enjoy!
“So, the worst is finally over?” asked Fyora to a holographic projection of the Space Faerie.
“Yes, your highness. Although Dr. Sloth escaped, of course. And we still have a sneaking suspicion he was getting help from off-planet.”
Queen Fyora groaned, digging her delicate hands deep into her purple locks to massage her aching head. Her crown had never felt heavier. “You suspect the Alien Aishas, dear?”
“I’m afraid so. They quickly evacuated after we took back control of the Space Station. And some of Sloth’s resources seem suspiciously advanced.”
“Thank you, dear. Get back to me later with a progress report, alright?”
“Of course.” The Space Faerie’s head bowed and the hologram disappeared.
Fyora stared at the piles of work on her desk, her mind still churning over the shock of Sloth’s takeover. They’d known he was potentially a danger -- but who would’ve thought he’d be so successful?!
There was a knock and a young light faerie peeked her head into Fyora’s office. She seemed a little flustered for some reason.
“Your majesty... um, you have a guest. A tiny little Aisha...”
“Not now, Glitter. I know we have an open-door policy, but... not now.”
“He... I’m not sure how to say this, my queen, but... I don’t think he’s Neopian.”
Fyora jerked to attention. “What?!” she demanded.
“Well, something’s obviously wrong with him. And his answers to the routine appointment arrangements are ridiculous.” Fumbling a little, she pulled out a clipboard.
“Says his name is Derek Sonix, even spelled it out for me. No lookup or registration of any kind. I asked his age, he replied something like ’14 solar years, 3 lunar months, and ¼ seasonal cycle.’ I asked his occupation or skill and he stared at me blankly before mumbling something about ‘bio-molecular recombinant mutation and manipulation.’ And all in between he kept repeating he had to see you urgently and kept acting all paranoid, looking around him and shivering. Actually looks quite ill.”
Fyora stared at Glitter for a minute before responding. “Alright, send him in. Derek Sonix, is it? Hmm.” She leaned back in her chair. Could it be? But why?
After a minute, Glitter led in an incredibly tiny Yellow Aisha. Hadn’t Glitter said he’d declared himself a teenager? Though in rather unusual terms, granted.
He climbed, literally and with difficulty, into the guest seat across from Fyora’s desk and stared at his rearpaws as the Faerie Queen dismissed her assistant.
Fyora took a minute to appraise him. Actually, although he really was as tiny as a kitten, he did seem like a pre-teen or young teenager closer up. He was dressed in a hugely oversized silver-ish gray outfit that may have been a uniform or suit.
Not able to look her in the face, he pulled a thick bound notebook from under the top of his outfit and, with shaky paws, slid it onto the corner of the desk. Embossed in the corner was a name in gold: Derek Sonix.
“C-c-could you b-burn this for me? I-I think it’s enchanted,” he whispered in a terrified, barely audible voice.
“Burn it?” asked Fyora in surprise, reaching across and taking the book in her hands. She flipped it open.
“NO!” shouted the tiny Aisha, leaping up, but far too late.
Without even having to wave her hand, she raised a barrier around the tiny Aisha, trapping him in the chair. She stared in horror at the detailed schematics, renderings, details, and explanations on how to mutate Neopets. She remembered what had happened to most of the Neopets on the Space Station during Sloth’s takeover and felt her cheeks flush as rage welled up inside her.
She slammed the book shut and glared at the name on the cover. “Are you really Derek Sonix? Did you write this?” she demanded, her voice cold.
He was tucked in a tiny ball, shielding his face and trembling, but she made out some sort of nod.
Seeing he wasn’t going anywhere, she undid the barrier and came around the desk. “Do you have ANY idea what you’ve done?! Hundreds of Grundos! At least a hundred other Neopets! Not counting civilians and visitors!!”
No answer. His trembling turned into shaking.
She grabbed his head and pulled it up to look at his face.
And found herself looking at a tear-soaked wreak. She realized the shaking had been sobs. And that he was absolutely terrified of her.
“P-please,” he begged her, though his eyes still streamed with tears. “I-I got rid of the rest. Just... just that book wouldn’t burn. It wouldn’t burn!!”
“B-burned. I-I set my l-lab on f-fire. G-gas and ch-chemicals... nothing left. J-just the book...”
“And you.” The accusation in her voice surprised even her, especially when he didn’t refute anything.
He wiped his tears desperately with the massively oversized sleeves of his outfit, not that it did much good. “D-do what y-you w-want with me. I-I don’t c-care. N-not like I can g-go anywhere. J-just...” He choked on his words and waved at the book.
Fyora stared at the little Aisha, a million questions running through her mind.
“You’re really an Alien Aisha?” she asked.
He nodded, wiping his eyes and swallowing sobs. Looking quite pathetic in the enormous outfit, with his drooping earstalks, red, swollen eyes, and choked-up tear-streaked face.
She leaned over to finger the top of his head. He flinched and shivered at her touch.
“Two earstalks?” she asked. It was common knowledge: Alien Aishas have four.
“I’m a freak,” he mumbled in a pained voice, not looking at her. He curled up again.
“Worked for the Military? Aren’t you too young?”
“R-research. Some espionage, ‘cause I l-look Neopian,” he said painfully. “She-she said ‘cause I was so intelligent... that I could be needed, useful,” he added, barely able to get the words out. “Probably ‘cause I was so stupid,” he whispered to himself, in a voice so quiet Fyora almost missed it.
Fyora couldn’t believe this young Alien Aisha. Looked Neopian? It wasn’t just looks. The casual way he phrased things, the very fact that he was emotionally overwrought, those last few words -- hoping to be useful? Needed?
Pure Neopian. She’d met dozens of Alien Aishas and knew they’d never act this way. Let alone burn what must have been months, if not years, of research.
Fyora pulled the book to herself and stared at the cover. Stupid? Certainly not. The Alien Aisha Military would never use a stupid child for the sort of work they’d clearly thrown this youth into. Anyway she looked at it, he was a genius. Who’d been used to do something abominable.
She laid a palm flat on the book and it disappeared into a ball of purple flame.
She saw him look up as the book burned and sigh with relief. All his energy suddenly seemed to evaporate and he drooped weakly forward. “Thank you,” he whispered gratefully, staring blankly at the small ash pile on her desk.
Maybe it was an accident, maybe he was a child, but he was still a dangerous alien. “As for you,” she began, reaching over and grabbing his forepaws to try get him to look at her.
He hissed and choked back a cry of pain.
Fyora frowned and yanked up the ridiculously long sleeves. And gazed in dismay. His paws were horribly burned from tip to elbow. The fur was gone in patches, the skin was red and peeling, and ugly blisters covered his paws.
“When...?” she asked, the anger dropping out of her voice.
“L-last week, f-first day...” he squeaked out painfully. “T-took a long t-time to get here.”
A week without treatment on these kinds of burns?! “How on Neopia?” she gasped, the remainder of her anger gone.
“The b-book wasn’t burning!” he said, torn between pain, confusion, and fear. “I-I had to!”
Fyora suddenly understood the hugely oversized clothes. “You ran straight into the fire to grab that book?” she asked softly.
“It wasn’t burning...” he mumbled again, his eyes staring at her, still frightened, apparently expecting some kind of abuse.
She reached over and he unconsciously flinched and squeezed his eyes shut. What he was expecting, she was afraid to know. Gently, she pulled off his top and had to check herself from crying out at the burns over the rest of his body. And... the scars.
Scars ran up and down his torso, though most looked like they were very old. They were perfectly straight and neat. Surgery? Why? He didn’t seem sickly at all. Just... small.
Two earstalks. Alien Aishas have four.
Abnormally short. Tiny, even. With no signs of growth to come.
She thought of the traditional Alien Aisha mindset and understood. They must have tried to find out what was ‘wrong’ with him and ‘fix’ it.
He had been shuddering at first, but under her gentle, warm touch he relaxed. His head nodded and he fell deeply asleep in a matter of seconds.
Unbeknownst to him, Fyora had healed the burns as best she could as well as soothed his mind. She’d meant to cast a sleep spell, but he’d fallen asleep from exhaustion before she’d gotten that far.
She smiled as she lowered the tiny body and he curled up on the seat. He fit easily. As if he was still a little kitten.
Then she frowned, remembering what he’d done. It was unforgivable.
She should either hold him for trial or ship him back to the Alien Aisha homeplanet.
Instead, she asked Glitter to call her a water faerie, then she paged the Space Faerie.
After all, the Space Faerie had been the one to enchant that book with protective spells. She’d never have become queen if she couldn’t even tell that much.
After a minute, the Space Faerie’s hologram appeared. “Yes, your majesty?”
“Very quickly, dear -- did you happen to enchant a book for an Alien Aisha?”
“What? No, not that I can recall.”
“About so big, two inches thick?” Fyora explained, shaping it with her hands. “Gold inscription in the corner with the name Derek Sonix?”
“Oh! Yes, I remember!” laughed the blue-haired faerie, suddenly smiling. “They were so cute! A group of young Grundo engineers. A present for a friend, they said.”
“Did they say anything about this friend?”
The Space Faerie’s smile grew. “Oh, they wouldn’t be quiet! Said it was for a genius Alien Aisha who wanted to be Neopian, though he didn’t know it. Hee hee!” She giggled. “They said he’d snuck out from his quarters, strangely right in the middle of the lab sections, to explore. They’d bumped into him and he’d helped them with some engine problems, then they went out to eat at Grundo’s Café and played some Gormball. After a while he confessed he was an agent with the AAM and ran off upset before they got a chance to tell him they didn’t care. They were laughing because they’d all assumed he was a Neopian Aisha on vacation who’d found the uniform somewhere.”
“Ever hear anything else about this Alien Aisha?”
“Not really. And, of course, the Alien Aishas were under no suspicion then, though we knew part of the AAM was trouble. And no idea it was the entire Alien Aisha Military.”
“Thank you, and, by the way, what happened to those Grundos?”
“Do you need to ask?” the Space Faerie’s smile dropped immediately. “They were mutated of course. Even if I managed to find them, their brains will be mush.” There was a shout behind her. “I have to go, Queen Fyora. I’ll report later.”
The hologram disappeared.
Fyora frowned and turned to look at the young Alien Aisha, curled up and sleeping in her guest’s chair.
There was a knock and the Healing Springs Faerie peeked her head in.
Fyora caught herself before she complained, though inside she hoped not to hear that her ‘magic was running low’ or that 3 HP was ‘the best that she could do.’ Amateur.
“Oh, dearie-me!” exclaimed the water faerie, rushing over to the sleeping Aisha. “How cute! But the poor thing...”
“Hush,” ordered Fyora. ”I want him to sleep.”
The water faerie closed her eyes for a second and set her hands on the little Aisha’s back. Her hands glowed slightly and the burns faded away. He also looked less pale and his breathing lightened.
The Healing Springs Faerie let out a breath of relief. “Managed a full heal. Physically, at least, he should be fine. But I’m sensing some severe emotional and mental trauma...”
“I know. Thank you, dear.”
“Of course, your highness.” She bowed happily and left.
Fyora sighed and leaned against her desk, staring at the peaceful looking Alien Aisha. “What am I going to do with you?” she asked softly.
Honestly, you could swear he was Neopian.
Derek Sonix woke to find himself sleeping on an enormous soft bed. He blinked open his eyes and looked around with confusion. Some sort of fancy suite, all decorated faerie style. Fluffy, pretty, and very soothing.
Why...? Oh, yeah. Yesterday he’d finally found his way to that Faerie Queen’s castle. She’d burned that horrible book, finally.
And she hadn’t killed him. She hadn’t even hit him. On the contrary...
He looked down and examined his paws, then pulled up the sleeves of the giant oversized suit he’d stolen as he ran away. All his burns were healed. And he wasn’t hungry. Or tired.
Magic? Sure, he’d heard about it, but... How weird. How... how kind. But why?
Must be a Neopian thing. Completely nonsensical, healing an enemy. Foolish. Stupid. Especially a monster like him, responsible for the destruction of some of the best friends he’d ever made.
Tears stung his eyes. He noticed a nightstand and dug around in the drawer, finding just what he was looking for. A pencil and several sheets of paper.
He jotted down a list of names. It was long and took quite a while. At the very bottom he added a note. ‘These are all black-market suppliers, dealers, and the heads of criminal organizations that the AAM has had contact with. Thank you.’
Then he went to the bathroom, splashed water on his face, rolled up the sleeves and legs of the uniform in an effort to look more tidy, then escaped through the vent system.
He couldn’t trouble these faeries anymore.
Derek Sonix was good with systems. He’d been playing with networks since before he could walk. His hobby had been inventing since he could pick up pieces of junk he found lying around his home. A vent network was easy to navigate. Plus he was so small maneuverability wasn’t even an issue.
Within a couple minutes he’d found his way out of the castle. Within five minutes he was in the heart of Faerieland.
It was then that he realized he had no idea where to go or what to do now.
“But he-she-it says he’s quitting!” exclaimed 00Hog, the top spy Neopia’s media has ever known, to an unresponsive Faerie Queen.
“Expea is always saying that, 00Hog. At least twice a day. And that’s not the reason I called you.”
“But he-she-it’s the only one worthy of being my assistant! And I think XP really means it this time! He didn’t just sweep out and polish his-her own desk this time, but mine as well!”
“I know Expea’s a lab pet, but couldn’t you find a better way to refer to him then he-she-it?” Second, I believe Expea is supposed to be your partner, not your ‘assistant.’ Third, the matter I called you for is fairly urgent in that I have to make a decision ASAP and yet you don’t seem the slightest bit interested.”
“But I NEED that paranoid, obsessive-compulsive lab pet!”
“You’ll get over it, providing Expea really has quit this time, which I wouldn’t blame him for if he has. You’re a horrible person to work with.”
Fyora stepped in front of a door. “Now, he should still be sleeping -- and do mind he’s barely a teenager. Still a kid, really.”
00Hog finally seemed to click into a professional mode. “Go on.”
Fyora sighed in relief. “He’s an Alien Aisha, an agent -- at least he was -- for the military. Apparently he developed the formula that was used for Sloth’s mutation experiments.”
00Hog grinned. “Ah, you must be speaking of that adorable genius freak, Derek Sonix.”
Fyora blinked. “You know him?”
“Please, your highness. Anyone remotely connected with Alien Aishas and the Neopian black-market has heard of him. Soft little brat, infamously naïve, hated espionage apparently. Only happy, if you can call it that, locked up in his lab with a supercomputer, a notebook and pen, and a full set of chemicals and equipment. They use him extensively because, from what I hear, he looks and acts completely Neopi -- wait. Fyora, ARE YOU SAYING HE’S IN THAT ROOM?!”
The Faerie Queen gestured him to hush and rubbed her forehead. “I should be furious. I should enchant him or lock him up forever or something... but I just can’t. Something is telling me he had no clue what he was getting himself into.”
00Hog nodded. “Rumors say the Alien Aishas despised him, so I’d say you’re on the button. That he was trying to be useful or thought it was ‘just for research’ or something. Rather pathetic little story.”
Fyora swung open the door and froze, staring at the empty bed. Her eyes scanned the room and fell on the open vent.
00Hog smirked and walked over to the nightstand, picking up the small stack of paper. He flipped through it, his smile growing.
“My queen? You’d best find that little brat. I don’t know if he knows it, but he’s absolutely crossed the line to traitor now.” He showed her the last page with the note saying who the names were.
Fyora’s mind quickly analyzed everything. He’d burnt every scrap of his valuable research and run away. Even worse, he’d run away to the Faerie Queen. And now, the list...
He really was dead if she didn’t find him immediately.
“I say, Fyora, can I keep this?” 00Hog looked up from the papers, but she was gone. He shrugged and slipped the pages into a secret pocket inside his tuxedo’s jacket.
Normally an Aisha in a ridiculously oversized uniform would draw a lot of stares, but Derek was beneath most Neopets’ line of vision and most kids were in Neoschool or too busy playing to notice.
And so he wandered aimlessly, head bowed, forepaws in pockets. He couldn’t return to the Alien Aishas, not after he took off like that after burning all his research.
Of course... he thought about all those nasty Neopets he was delighted to have handed over to Fyora. He really didn’t want to go back anyway. Having to deal with people like that again.
His research being used without his knowledge, let alone his permission. It wasn’t even complete!
He sighed and paused, looking up towards the castle in the distance.
Never again. He never wanted to be used again. He’d rather be dead. But, as he knew all too well, Alien Aishas don’t let traitors die or rot in prison. They always find a way to make them useful.
And he knew, deep down, if he were pushed, he would cave in rather than be used as a living lab experiment again. He still had the nightmares.
He heard laughter and turned to see a human owner passing out Faerie Cakes to her pets.
It wasn’t fair. His life was a wreak because he looked and acted Neopian, yet he could never become one.
Neopians were so different from Alien Aishas. Their whole way of life. Not the criminals, of course, but the normal Neopets. They were relaxed, peaceful, happy, optimistic, always looking out for the good of others. Alien Aishas tended to be intelligent, proud, suspicious, and fiercely competitive. Neopets delighted in exploring and adapting to new lands. Alien Aishas were convinced they were the elite beings of the universe and anyone else, especially Neopians, was beneath them. FAR beneath them.
His thoughts returned to that list. It’d really just been a thank you, but...
He wouldn’t know if he didn’t try.
Fyora ran through the halls of her castle, working her way to the communications room where she could recruit some people to help search for the young Alien Aisha, when she tripped over something.
Groaning, she sat up and looked over, to see Derek Sonix rubbing his head and looking a little dizzy.
His eyes suddenly cleared up and he exclaimed. “Faerie Queen! I--I have a deal to make!”
Fyora stared. He rushed on.
“If I give you information I learned in the AAM, can I become a Neopian?”
She just smiled and pulled him tightly into a hug.
“Thank goodness you’re alright,” she whispered, holding him tight. “Thank goodness.”
Author’s Note: Well, hope you liked the story! Let me know, would you? I love neomail! The longer and more detailed, the better! I wasn’t sure whether to submit this short story or not, since it doesn’t really follow a “DeSoni” pattern, so I figured I’d leave it up to the editors. That, and the fact I’ve gotten quite a bit of neomail encouraging me to submit something again, just when I’d decided to quit. *Blush* Thanks to everyone who wrote me! And, while I can’t promise that anything will get published, I do promise to return to writing stories for Khargana, DeSoni, Black Jack, and the rest of the gang.