Zapped From a Myth
Taws gently patted Lope on the back as they stood in line at the Secret Laboratory.
"I got a weird feeling about today, Taws," Lope stated, looking up at the Kougra. "Something's not right."
Taws rolled his eyes, a smirk crawling across his lips. "You say that every day we do this; you know I'm always here for you if something goes wrong."
"I know." Lope nodded. "But it doesn't make this any easier."
It had been almost two weeks since the pair started taking the trip to the Secret Laboratory. Taws had finally sought the last missing piece of the map he had accumulated, the map that took them to this very place.
The Kougra playfully punched Lope's hunched shoulder. "Don't worry, buddy, if you turn into an ugly Skeith, I promise I won't laugh at you."
Lope chuckled. "Of course not, cause I'd eat you."
Taws laughed in turn, and looked up as Lope's name was called out, next up for the Lab Ray.
Lope pouted and looked back to his friend. "See you on the other side."
Taws waved lightly, still smiling strongly for the Gnorbu, who was entering the device. Lope raised one hoof up to wave back just as the beam of light shot down upon him. A bright flash caused Taws to shield his eyes for a moment. When he looked back, his friend's Gnorbu form was gone.
A strange, new form now lay prone under the ray's crackling point. Long and svelte, coat as blue as the ocean. A long bushy tail on one end, black clawed paws in the middle, and a large flat muzzle and big blinking eyes at the top. Taws jaw dropped as he slowly wandered closer towards his friend.
"L-L-L-Lope?" he stammered. "Are you ok?"
"What... wha... where am I? Who's Lope?" The creature's bright blue eyes staring back at Taws. The new being's fur bristled as he rushed to his feet, backing up against the Laboratory wall. "Where am I!" he yelled. "What happened to me!"
Taws was awestruck at the event that had occurred, slowly turning to outrage at the sudden loss of his best friend. "Who are you!" he yelled back. "And what did you do with Lope!"
The creature paused, eyeing the angry looking Kougra. He quieted his voice down, a little anxious at the sudden close quarters to a savage looking feline. "My name is Ben..." He paused, glancing around him at the heavy machinery. "I don't know where I am, and I don't know who Lope is or why you're looking for him. I was just relaxing on the beach outside my house, then everything went black. When the light came back, I was here, being yelled at, by you."
Taws grunted softly, but noticing the creature's unease, took a few steps back to give him some room. "What exactly are you, though? I've never seen one of your kind before," Taws questioned.
The new being straightened himself up a bit as he answered. "I'm a Lutari, just like the rest of my family, friends, and everyone I've ever known. I know you are a Kougra; I've seen pictures of your kinds in books." Ben glanced behind Taws into the line of Neopians waiting to use the Lab Ray. "I've seen all of them too, pictures, of course, I've never actually been off of the island, but I can see why that could be a good thing right now," the Lutari said as he shuddered softly at the many befuddled stares of the Neopians.
Taws placed his paw upon his forehead to think for a moment. He sighed and looked back up at Ben, "Maybe if you came here, Lope went there, to wherever you came from. I can't exactly see whatever cosmic, or mechanical force that brought you here... disintegrating my friend. You're going to have to help me find him."
"Uh, I don't know if you might realize this, but I don't even know where we are, let alone how to get back to my home." Ben raised an eyebrow at the crazy Kougra.
Taws stammered, "How could you not know where you live? You've said you've read books. If you know so much about us, wouldn't you know our maps as well?"
The Lutari nodded. "I do, well, at least I think I do. You might notice one thing though. We're in a Laboratory, probably in some secret location. Could you just take me to whatever is the nearest surface, and we'll figure it out from there?"
Taws smacked himself lightly on the head, looking sheepish. "Oh, yeah, wasn't really thinking about that part, kind of just in the moment there."
"Yeah," Ben smirked, "I heard that part about you mainlanders too, not too big on the thinking." Taws growled.
After a long walk, teleport, fly, swim, and jump to Neopia Central (it is the SECRET Lab you know), Taws glanced over at Ben. "You mentioned mainlanders, inferring that you are not one, so where exactly are you from?"
"Lutari Island," Ben stated proudly. "Surrounded by a glittering blue water, succulent fruit and every day is a warm, sunny day. Not like this dreary mess you mainlanders have to deal with."
Noticing the sky was barely overcast, Taws stared at the apparently spoiled Lutari. "Anyway," he huffed, "Do you know where we're going now?"
Ben eyed the Food Shop, glanced at the Money Tree, and tipped his dark paw into the Rainbow Fountain, watching the colours swirl. "Nope, not a clue," he mused.
The Kougra buried his face in his paws, then lurched up at the Lutari. "You've got to be kidding me! You're acting like you're the smartest thing to ever walk this Neoworld, and you still can't find your way home?"
Ben fell back against the fountain. "Hey! Look! It's not my fault if the books are very old, some of these buildings and places are new to me! We haven't exactly kept contact with the mainland for a very long time."
Taws snarled. "Useless!" he yelled, and tore off towards the shops, leaving the confused Lutari behind. Taws burst through the door of the Food Shop, practically knocking over the sales counter as he leapt towards the shopkeeper. "Do you know where Lutari Island is?" he bellowed at the rotund Chia.
"I think you might be a little hungry there, Kougra," the Chia answered. "Lutari Island is just a myth; it doesn't really exist." The shopkeeper shoved a bitten apple into the Kougra's paws and pushed him back out the door. Taws threw the apple aside and ran towards the book store. The educated Nimmo had the same answer for him, as well as a gift of 'Maps of Neopia, as if to further prove there was no such island.
Taws kept trying, each shop keeper, each Neohome, returning with the same answer. There was no Lutari Island. He returned to Ben, still waiting beside the Rainbow Fountain, now munching on a Bitten Apple and reading the Maps of Neopia book.
"Well, this volume's a little more updated," Ben stated, pointing into the book, flecks of apple spraying on the pages. "Lutari Island should be somewhere around here." His claw indented the page slightly, and Taws grabbed the book from him. He studied the map quickly, tore out the page and slammed the book shut.
"We need a boat."
With page in hand, Taws lead the way towards Meridell. The two passed through Kiko Lake, Ben stopping for a small chat with the resident Kikos, Taws looking on impatiently. The stop in Brightvale was even longer, the sights, the sounds, the food, Ben wanted to savour it all.
"I don't get out much!" he begged of the Kougra, and Taws conceded.
"If anything's happened to Lope, though, you will pay for this."
Ben sought audience with King Hagan, to tell him stories of the Lutaris, to educate him on his people. "I already knew that!" the King bellowed, and the Lutari left a little dismayed.
Taws patted Ben on the back. "Don't worry, he always says that."
They were quickly within the sister city of Meridell, Taws smartly warning Ben to stay away from King Skarl. After picking up a few berries for the trip from Meri Acres Farm, they headed down to the docks to rent a boat. Taws begrudgingly paid the boat master, Ben looking on sheepishly.
"No pockets?" He grinned.
The waters were calm as they sailed south. They munched on the berries and passed uncharted islands, all of which Ben was assured was not his. Taws lay back in despair as Ben surveyed the beaches. "Nope, that one's not mine, those trees are too close together." "That one's not mine," he stated as they passed another, "I don't recognize that rock."
Taws smacked a paw on his forehead. "You can tell your entire island by just one rock? How do you know it's just not the other side of the island?"
Ben glared at him. "I think I know my own island. Do you know every inch of Neopia Central?"
"Well, no, but there's a lot of people, and buildings there," Taws returned.
Ben smirked. "Then don't judge me; there's a lot of Lutaris."
The boat drifted for what seemed like hours, Taws starting to daze off in the light of dusk. The Lutari kept vigilance on the helm of the boat, waiting, hoping to finally spot his home. Suddenly, Taws was jarred awake by the shaking ship.
"There it is!" Ben yelled, and the Kougra jumped to his feet, looking around wildly.
"Where! Where is it!"
Ben pointed off into the far distance, where there was barely a speck on the horizon. "Right there! Plain as day!" Taws snorted in response, sitting back down to wait, though his hopes rising high to return to his lost friend.
It was another good hour until the boat glided upon Lutari Island's shores. Ben took off like a rocket, racing across the sands, Taws on his heels, giddy with emotions. Ben reached his home in record time, throwing open the door and looking inside. Everything was just as he left it, there was no Gnorbu to be found.
"Lope! Lope!" Taws screamed out, noticing the distinct lack of Gnorbu.
Ben looked uneasy. "I mean, he should be here, right?"
The Kougra's face went white, which is a hard thing to do for a Darigan Kougra. "Please find my friend," he begged, almost to tears.
Ben's heart sank. He took a minute to think. "Wait!" he exclaimed. "If I was on the beach, maybe your friend is too?" They both jumped up and bolted out the door, Taws a step behind the leading Lutari.
The sun was just melting over the horizon as they reached the beach. Ben's beach chair and bucket of fruit, sat just where he left it, but instead of being empty, the chair was occupied by a rather satisfied looking Gnorbu.
"Lope!" Taws screamed out, and he lunged at the beach chair, sending them both sprawling into the sands.
Lope headbutt Taws. "Wow, you wouldn't believe what happened!"
Taws pushed his paw over Lope's mouth. "Trust me, I would."
Taws and Lope hopped back into the boat, heading back to the mainland. Ben stood on the beach, waving them off. The boat was littered with maps and books, all pieces of evidence of the beautiful existence of Lutari Island. The two traveled over every land in Neopia, spouting praise and educating Neopians about Lutari Island, and how to find it. To this day, we owe Taws, Ben, Lope and that crazy Lab Ray. Thanks for finally bringing Lutari Island to light. It is real!