Still thwarting Sloth's mind control... Circulation: 184,867,923 Issue: 483 | 25th day of Awakening, Y13
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Sophie versus The Next Generation


by a_greenparrot

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Samuel Peterson sat at his desk with his paws cupped and his eyes set on a piece of paper and a quill. He was a writer for the Neopian Times; the Red Lutari had had much success with many of his articles on all sorts of news. Although, one of his key strategies was to bend the truth to however he saw fit. It had worked for quite a while, but then Mr. Peterson had made the mistake of messing with Sophie the Swamp Witch. She had outsmarted him on several occasions, and had caused him many troubles with the law.

     “Alright, it’s time to turn over a new leaf,” he announced with false eagerness.

     Mr. Peterson began to tap his fingers along his navy suit, hunting for some inspiration. During his last run-in with Sophie, he had lost his right to submit to the Neopian Times. The Lutari had begged Droplet to let him continue writing; it was not until he had promised to always tell the truth that she had allowed him to have his job back. However, Mr. Peterson was beginning to regret that choice. He glanced at his notes.

     “Bah, these will hardly make front-page headlines,” he scoffed. “‘Money Tree may be accumulating useless junk,’ ‘Shop Wizard to be repainted,’ and ‘Blue Kacheek Group performing in Faerieland;’ nobody cares about stuff like that.”

      He returned to staring at his blank page and sighed. “If only I could change them up just a little. I’m sure if it was the Hidden Tower being repainted people would care. Alas, I’ll just have to make do with what I have.”

     He picked up his quill and began to write unenthusiastically. Another one of his losses was that his enchanted quill had been confiscated; now he was back to amateur equipment.

     Mr. Peterson’s writing was interrupted by a shadow cast over him. He raised his eyes and saw a similar looking red Lutari standing in his office. The younger Lutari wore a black headband. He had on a brown shirt that looked like it hadn’t been washed in a month, and a green vest around it. His legs were covered by baggy blue pants.

     “What do you want, Axel? Can’t you see that I’m busy,” sighed Mr. Peterson.

     Mr. Peterson’s son shrugged and observed, “It doesn’t look like you really care about what you’re writing.”

     “Well, when you grow-up, you’ll learn that you have to do the work you chose... whether you want to or not,” growled Mr. Peterson through clenched teeth. “I chose a profession in writing and it suited me; I will stick to it even at its lows. Now why aren’t you with your mother?”

     “Mom says that I spend too much time in the house and that I need spend more quality time with my father,” answered Axel with his constantly irritating tone.

     Mr. Peterson sighed. “Is that really the best reason she can come up with? If it were me I would have said, ‘Get a job.’”

     “Well, I’m kinda like writing, you gotta stick with me even in the lows,” mocked Axel.

     “Fine, fine, follow me. Maybe there’s something I can keep you busy with,” grumbled Peterson as he rose from his chair and left the room.

     He led his son to a storage room full of boxes and cans.

     “Here, why don’t you do something useful for your mother and make some posters advertising-” the Lutari glanced at his notebook, “-T-shirts with overcrowded Money Trees on them.”

     The Petersons worked together in their businesses. Mrs. Peterson sold merchandise on whatever was current at the time; while Mr. Peterson announced said current events to the public, thus making them popular. With Mr. Peterson’s “knack” for interesting stories, their system never failed.

     “I don’t think anyone will buy shirts on that topic,” scoffed Axel.

     “Sorry, I didn’t catch that,” lied Mr. Peterson, “and now I have to go. Bye.”

     Axel reluctantly began sorting through the boxes until he found a dusty banner. He then approached the cans of paint, but he got a new idea. Whenever Axel had time to kill, he did what he could to make Neopia and unpleasant place. His crime of choice was graffiti. His need for destruction was most likely explained by his childhood. With apathetic parents like the Petersons, it was easy to crave attention. Another explanation could be that his twin sister, Alex, had been abandoned at a young age, leaving Axel scarred. Throughout his teenage years he had been filled with an anger that he could only express through vandalism.

     The Lutari spotted a can of red paint and chose it. He reached into two of his deep pockets and pulled out a knife and an empty spray can. He pierced the full can of paint and let the red paint pour into his spray can. He glanced at the door, wondering if father would notice his absence; he doubted it. He climbed out of a window and began to spread destruction.

     A few minutes later the mischievous Lutari was spraying the stolen paint along a wall in a nearby alley. In a matter of seconds the wall was covered in red Xs. X had always been his symbol; he had wanted to be recognized in his dirty work, but his own name would have been too obvious. He could have used A, but he felt that it lacked appeal; X was the second letter in his name and much less mundane.

     Axel ducked behind a dumpster as a colourful blur soared overhead. The Lutari knew that it was wise to avoid the Defenders of Neopia; he had definitely ticked them off with his crimes and their powers looked quite dangerous. Axel had managed to evade the Defenders over the years of his criminal offenses. However, he still had a fear of coming face to face with Judge Hog.

     The hero landed across the street as Axel slunk around the corner of the alley. He decided that he had better head back to his father’s office before he got into trouble.

     “Sweet Fyora! Someone’s ruined this wall!” cried the booming voice of Judge Hog.

     Axel paused and grinned to himself in satisfaction.

     “It’s that mysterious X fellow again,” grumbled Judge Hog loudly. “I just know that I’ll catch him soon.”

     Axel chuckled under his breath, “Not likely.”

     The Lutari quickly hurried back to where he belonged. As he climbed back into the window he was surprised as his father burst in. Mr. Peterson seemed to be very worked up about something, and Axel feared that he had been caught.

     “Look, Dad, if you’re wondering why-” he started.

     “Not now, Axel, I’ve got great news,” interrupted Mr. Peterson.

     Axel breathed a sigh of relief.

     “I’ve just heard about a great, interesting story, and the best part is it’s true,” exclaimed the elder Peterson.

     “Why don’t you tell me all about that,” urged Axel as he tried to divert his father from noticing his unfinished banners.

     “Well, for several years there’s been these atrocities committed by a criminal only known as X,” Mr. Peterson declared, “and he just struck again right under Judge Hog’s nose. I can’t wait to start covering this. I hope whoever this X is stays active.”

     Axel smirked and replied, “I’ve got a feeling you’ll get your wish.”

      ***

     A couple days later in the thick Haunted Woods, Mr. Peterson’s archenemy was about to receive the news. Sophie the Swamp Witch sat in her rocking chair with her hat down and her tangled green hair flopped all over her head. Her Ixi hooves clopped each time she rocked back. She wore a patched together robe and held a cold drink in her hand. She might not have been doing anything particularly witchlike, but everyone needs a time to relax. Sadly, today, like many others for Sophie, was about to be spoiled.

     “Sophie, Sophie, have you read the Neopian Times?!” came the frantic cries of Gilly the Usul.

     The Swamp Witch sighed, knowing that it was impossible to avoid Gilly when she wanted something. The Usul wore a red hood that bounced as she ran on her tiny legs. Her normally joyful face was now worried and in her paw she was waving a copy of the Neopian Times.

     When she arrived at Sophie’s muddy porch, the Ixi said, “No, Gilly, I have not, because as of late the Neopian Times has offered nothing but stress. And today I would like to just have a day with no angry thoughts whatsoever. So I suggest you get off my property.”

     This last sentence was pronounced quite threateningly as she raised her staff.

     “But Sophie, that Peterball guy that you hate has an article in it,” whined Gilly as she shook the paper at Sophie.

     Sophie massaged her temples and sighed. “I really don’t care anymore; I’ve gotten that Lutari fired so many times that it just doesn’t matter. As far as I’m concerned, as long as he leaves me alone he can write whatever he wants.”

     “C’mon, Sophie, I think he’s lying again.” Gilly pouted. “And you have to stop him.”

     Sophie could not resist the rivalry that she had with the journalist and said, “What he’s lying about this time?”

     Gilly immediately perked up and chirped, “I don’t know, but after you read this article maybe you’ll see something.”

     Gilly tossed the paper to Sophie who groaned and sat back into her rocking chair. Part of her was saying that there was probably nothing wrong with the article and Gilly had just been looking for some excitement; yet another side of her was yearning to take Peterson down again. She read the article.

     When she was finished she pondered aloud, “This definitely sounds suspicious. Could someone really avoid the Defenders of Neopia so consistently? And it seems rather convenient for Mr. Peterson?”

     Once she started getting suspicious, the Peterson-hating side took over and she had started a roll of accusations.

     “I’m sure that it would have easy for Mr. Peterson to buy some paint and then create a few Xs here and there. I bet he commits these felonies whenever he has nothing to write about. Maybe he bribes Judge Hog to look the other way, or maybe he’s hired goons to do his dirty work. What if he’s got an army of vandalizing robots? That’s it; I bet that he’s in collaboration with Dr. Sloth. Well, I’ll put a stop to this and prove once and for all that Mr. Peterson is a dangerous partner to Dr. Sloth.”

     “Or you could just prove that he lied,” suggested Gilly.

     “Or that,” agreed Sophie. “Gilly, I need you to watch my shack. I’ve got to pay one of my exceedingly frequent visits to Neopia Central.”

      ***

     When Sophie arrived at the sunny and cheerful town, she decided that she would not go to Mr. Peterson directly. Unlike past events, this time she could not be sure that Mr. Peterson was guilty.

     Instead she went to a citizen and asked, “What can you tell me about these X crimes?”

     “Ugh, it’s horrible,” moaned the Royalgirl Bruce. “Some inconsiderate person has painted unsightly Xs all along a wall. It’s just down there if you want to see it.”

     “Thanks, ma’am,” Sophie said unusually politely for her.

     As she left she heard the Bruce sniff, “I never thought that it would come to tourists visiting Neopia just to learn about crimes.”

     The Ixi arrived at the mentioned wall and found the Xs. They were a bright red and looked freshly painted. She decided that this would be where she would start her investigation. She examined the ground for footprints or fur. She found nothing too telling. Sophie sighed; even if Peterson was behind these crimes, it would be hard to prove it.

      ***

     Meanwhile, Axel decided that it was time for X to strike again. Normally he would wait for a month, but he decided that he was helping his family’s career and therefore making him wealthier. Axel snickered at the thought of being paid to vandalize.

     “I’m going to put up some advertisements for the X affairs,” he explained to his parents; and it was not a complete lie.

     Of course, the Petersons were eager to give Axel as much paint as he liked to promote the news.

     “I told you all that boy needed was a little time with you at work,” declared Mrs. Peterson, a plump orange Skeith, “and these X shirts are incredibly easy to make. We’ll be sure to wrack up some Neopoints.”

     As soon as Axel was out of view from his home he dashed to a new wall to wreck. He vigorously spread paint in Xs and other blob shapes along a white brick wall. He was enjoying himself so much that he didn’t realize that someone was behind him.

     “So, we meet at last, X,” declared Judge Hog both angrily and smugly.

     Axel panicked and turned around. Just as he had always feared, he was looking into Judge Hog’s menacing eyes.

     He backed away and stuttered, “I c-can ex-explain.”

     “Oh really?” scoffed Judge Hog. “I’d love to hear your explanation.”

     In desperation Axel grabbed a trash can lid and struck it across the Moehog’s face. To his surprise, the Defender tumbled to the ground, unconscious.

     “Hey, he wasn’t so tough,” gasped Axel in realization. “If the Defenders can’t stop me, then no one can. I can do whatever I want.”

     He was giggling almost manically now. He would no longer have to hide from the Defenders of Neopia; he could do as much damage to the town and no one could stop him.

     “Where to start?” he questioned out loud. “Trash that stupid Chia statue? Break everything in Kauvara’s Shop?”

     Then something caught his attention: The Money Tree. It was already full of filthy junk, and it was right in the center of the town where he could be the center of attention.

     He scooped up his spray can and rushed over to the tree. He shoved aside Neopians searching for treasures until he was right at the base of the tree.

     He climbed up to the top and announced, “Attention, Neopia Central, this tree is now mine!”

     “Bah, who do you think you are, kid?” scoffed a Kyrii.

     “Oh, you don’t recognize me?” giggled Axel.

     The Lutari used his tail to grab his spray can and paint a large X over the now frowning Money Tree.

     The crowd gasped and one person cried out, “You’re the one who’s been ruining our town.”

     “That’s right,” declared Axel, “and I’m about to make it a whole lot worse. But your precious Defenders aren’t going to protect you; I’ve already taken out Judge Hog.”

     The now large crowd of Neopians did not like hearing this.

     “To start off the fun, anybody want some Jelly?” chuckled the Lutari evilly.

     He then swung down the pile of junk and swiped a poisonous Jelly. He then tossed it out at a vain Uni who shrieked in repulsion.

     “Somebody do something,” she cried angrily. “He’s destroyed my dress.”

     “I don’t know,” muttered a nearby Yurble. “If Judge Hog couldn’t stop him, what chance do we have?”

     A young Elephante who had been in the pile earlier was now urgently trying to make his way out.

     “Not so fast,” taunted Axel as he kicked a ball which knocked the child over.

     “That’s it!” growled a JubJub, “I don’t care who you think you are; no one hurts my son.”

     “I’d like to see you come and get me,” challenged Axel, who was jumping back to the tree.

     The JubJub charged at him and clambered up the tree after him. Axel waited for him confidently at the end of a branch. The JubJub lunched at him furiously, but Axel quickly pulled out his can of paint and sprayed a cloud of red at the JubJub’s face. He immediately slipped and fell onto a pile of toys.

      ***

     All of this commotion had not escaped Sophie’s attention. Just when she was ready to give up, she had heard X announce his identity and thanked her lucky stars. Her first thought was disappointment that it was not Mr. Peterson. She had considered not getting involved and just let Neopia Central deal with its own problems. However, when Axel had hurt the young Elephante she had felt a renewed anger. She may have been very apathetic, but she cringed at the thought of anything injuring her Meowclops and this child was just as (if not more) defenseless.

     “Hey, you, I think you need a lesson!” shouted Sophie threateningly.

     “What’s this? Another hero who thinks they can face me,” mocked Axel arrogantly.

     Sophie raised her staff and a green bolt shot up from it and targeted the pile around the Money Tree. Instantly, donated foodstuffs and toys and books began to swarm the confused Axel. However, the Lutari quickly recovered his wits and slid off the tree and onto the street.

     “Nice trick,” he remarked, “But I’d like to see you catch me.”

     He raced away and Sophie rapidly followed. The Lutari was swift, but Sophie managed to keep him in view around even turn. Finally she had him cornered at a dead-end. Axel was panicking now, perhaps even more so than he had with Judge Hog. He had thought that he was invincible, but Sophie clearly proved otherwise. If she defeated him all of is freedom and power would evaporate. At best he would have to return to his banal life; at worst... he did not want to imagine.

     “It’s the end of the line.” Sophie smirked.

     Axel scanned for another trash can lid that he could use to defend himself, but all her saw was a dumpster. In a final act of defense he drew his knife. He had never used it to hurt anyone before, but he did not want to lose all of his destructive power.

     “I told you,” he said as sweat beaded down his face, “no hero can beat me.”

     “I’m not a hero,” Sophie declared as she fired a bolt at Axel.

     The Lutari ducked and laughed. “You missed, ha ha ha!”

     Suddenly the green energy pulled the dumpster forward. It crashed into Axel with great force. The Lutari tumbled to the ground and dropped his weapon. He was defenseless and defeated.

     “I’m a witch,” Sophie finished her statement.

     Sophie could see a crowd beginning to approach them in the distance. Suddenly she saw someone familiar, Mr. Peterson.

     “Axel, what have you gotten yourself into?” cried the distraught Lutari. “Just wait until the Defenders get their hands on you; and then you’ll finally get what you deserve.”

     “Wait a minute, you two know each other?” asked Sophie.

     “Of course we do, he’s my son,” declared Peterson testily. Then suddenly realizing who he was talking to, he added, “And just what are you doing messing around with my family?”

     An idea struck Sophie; maybe she could take Mr. Peterson down after all.

     “Mr. Peterson, I think that it’s about time someone messed with your family,” she began. “Now, I don’t your family very well, but I know problems when I see them. This looks like a case of bad parenting; your son has no respect for his own home. Have you ever tried to teach or discipline him?”

     “Well, I mean, sort of,” mumbled Mr. Peterson.

     “If you love your son, you should make sure he lives a successful life.” Sophie was beginning to feel preachy now. “By ignoring him, then letting him take the blame when he starts to react with crime, you may be eliminating his future. Do you really want your son locked away in the dungeons forever?”

     Sophie had clearly reached Mr. Peterson, who was starting to get watery eyes.

     “You’re right, this is entirely my fault,” he confessed. “I’ll take the blame for Axel. After all, making up stories is what I do best.”

     When Judge Hog arrived, Mr. Peterson fabricated a tale about how he had encouraged Axel to commit crimes to boost interest in the Neopian Times, just as Sophie had hoped he would.

     “You saved me,” gasped Axel, who had recovered. “Why?”

     “Well, I came to town with one goal; to get Samuel Peterson to admit that he was behind the X crimes,” Sophie explained, “and that’s exactly what I did. Now, I hope that you understand a couple of things. You’ve got a good a family and you’re not invincible, so there’s no need for all this mischief. Plus I think you know now not to make me angry.”

     Sophie didn’t know why she felt like she had to make sure Axel had a better life than he had. Maybe it was because his rebellious attitude reminded her of herself.

     A smirk appeared on Axel’s face as he declared, “I’m not too sure about that last point.”

     Suddenly he stabbed his blade right next to Sophie’s shoulder. Then in a flash he bolted away from her. Sophie tried to pursue but realized that that was a mistake as the knife ripped off her robe. All of a sudden she was standing in Neopia Central in her underwear.

     “I’ll get you for that, Peterson Jr.,” she threatened.

     It seemed as though Sophie had formed a rivalry with another Peterson.

The End

Thanks for reading and if you want to read more Sophie versus Peterson stories you can start with Sophie versus the Neopian Times.

 
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