The Chronicle of a Superhero's Best Friend
Hello, readers! My name is Brandon and this piece of writing you are reading right now, printed in plain black-and-white ink on your issue of the Neopian Times, is my chronicle. Yes, I realize it is a rather short chronicle, but please try not to be too skeptical right off the bat. You see, the whole point of me writing this thing is to let everyone know all about the hardships of being a superhero’s best friend.
“What?” you may say. I don’t blame you. I assume you expected this story to come from the hero’s perspective, or at least be centered on the hero, despite the title I ever so carefully penciled on top of the page. You probably also were expecting to read some sort of epic saga about how a hero discovers his powers, goes off on adventures, and ultimately beats up the bad guy. And I don’t blame you for assuming that; I’m sure you’ve encountered that scenario several times over. But while reading those very same stories, have you ever noticed that best friend? The guy or girl who only shows up in the first few chapters, maybe a bit in the middle, and then at the end to congratulate the hero on a job well done?
No? Well, that’s because the best friend is usually pretty boring. I mean, compared to a main character who can probably shoot lightning out of his eyes, I’m sure reading about the best friend seems a bit too normal. But we do exist—well, at least I exist. I’m not quite sure how many other superheroes there are in Neopia now that I think of it.
For this short chronicle, I’ve decided to share with you my own experience, the unheard story of the yellow Krawk who doesn’t have any powers. I’m the guy who knows his friend is a superhero, who is sworn to utmost and solemn secrecy, and who has to continue on with life, pretending absolutely nothing has changed.
Yes, I know it sounds boring, but I’m not forcing you to read this. You can put it down at any time and pick up a normal superhero story. You can read about the Defenders of Neopia a couple hundred more times and never stop to think about any of their best friends.
But maybe you want to continue reading. Because, like I said earlier, we exist too. And our stories, though not as flashy, may be somewhat interesting as well.
* * *
I think my relationship with Jonathan, at least starting from when I found out about his powers, has perfectly fit the Normal Circle of Superhero-Friendship. In case you don’t know what that circle looks like, I’ve doodled it below.
Basically there are five components. The first is the “blissfully unaware” stage. This is when you have no clue that your friend has superhuman abilities, and sometimes when your friend has no clue either. This is what I fondly refer to as the “golden time,” because life is pretty much normal. You go to school, you hang with friends, and you repeat. Sure, things get complicated every once in a while, but nothing too crazy. But once your friend has made his great reveal, things can never go back to the way things were before—unless of course you encounter a villain with a mind-wiping gun, but that is a story for a later time.
Next there is “the reveal.” This is the day life as you know it essentially disintegrates. Don’t believe me? You think that being a superhero’s best friend is all peaches and cream? Fine. I’ll tell you how my own reveal happened.
I was sitting on my couch, watching Neovision and eating some popcorn, which happens to be my favorite afternoon snack. Nothing out of the usual. Suddenly, the door to my house slammed open... and when I write “slam” I mean “the door nearly came off its hinges and suddenly there was a giant crack in the wall.” I jumped, promptly spilled buttered popcorn all over the carpet, and looked over to see an excited orange Mynci jumping up and down on his heels. Jonathan. He was gripping a duffel bag with both hands, and on his face was a look of pure excitement.
“What did you do that for?” I asked angrily, gesturing to the spilled popcorn—I hadn’t exactly noticed the cracked wall yet. I saw that once Jonathan had left, and then spent a good hour trying to convince my mom that it hadn’t been my fault.
“Brandon,” Jonathan said, rushing towards me, “I have super strength.”
I gave him a look. “Please. I don’t believe you.”
“Fine.” The Mynci tossed the duffel bag at me. Thank Fyora I was sitting down; it collided with my stomach and knocked all the wind out of me. Gasping for breath, I opened the bag, peered inside, and saw a black bowling ball.
“What—why do you have a bowling ball in the bag?”
“That doesn’t matter,” John said wispily. “What matters is that I have super strength!” He then proceeded to pick up random objects around my house and hoist them over his head: the television, the coffee table, a cabinet. He even hoisted the couch above his head with me still sitting on it.
“When did you find this out? How did this happen?” I asked in total shock as he set the couch back down on the ground.
He waved me off. “Just today. And I have no clue. But yeah, I just wanted to let you know, since you’re my best friend and all!” He turned away and headed towards the door. But right before he left, he looked at me, suddenly serious, and added, “And you can’t tell anyone.”
Before I could ask why it was such a big secret, he was gone.
Yep, that’s superheroes for you.
Strangely, after this great reveal, there was a bit of a lull in the superhero aspect of our friendship. I saw John in school the following day and he seemed normal enough. He didn’t mention the super strength thing; in fact, anytime I mentioned his new “ability” he gave me strange looks as if he had no clue what I was talking about. Part of me wanted to think that it was all one big popcorn-deprived hallucination. But then, just a week later, the next stage of superhero friendship reared its ugly head at me: the sudden show up.
This time I was doing my homework in my room. I was about to finish the last math problem when BAM! Suddenly there was a giant hole in my wall.
Yes, being best friends with a superhero means lots of things get broken. Often.
“What?!” I yelled in confusion as Jonathan leapt over the crumbled foundation into my room. He was looking pretty bad; there was a cut on his forehead and his orange fur was matted with sweat. But even worse than that, he was wearing spandex. John, my best friend, was wearing turquoise spandex, a purple cape, and a black mask. It actually made me shudder to see him dressed like that.
“John, what is going—?” I demanded, but he quickly cut me off.
“No time to explain!” he said, breathing heavily. He tossed something at me. I immediately flinched, expecting another bowling ball, but it was just a small item the size of a baseball hastily wrapped in brown paper. I caught it with my claw and looked down, poking it tenderly.
“What is this?”
“No time!” he said, jumping back out the hole in my wall. “Don’t unwrap it! Just keep it somewhere safe! I need you to do this for me, Brandon! Please!” And with that he was gone.
I hope by now you get the gist of what I experience nearly every week or so: a lot of confusion and broken objects. Seeing as this was both my and Jonathan’s first superhero mission, I really had no clue what to do. So I shoved the small object under my mattress. I know, it’s not exactly an original hiding spot nor an entirely safe one, but I figured it’d be fine for the time being. I actually have found much better hiding spots for the important objects John gives me since that very first mission, but I can’t disclose them here. You know, just in case someone who’s reading this is a villain of some sort.
It also goes without saying that Jonathan is not my friend’s real name. Though I promise you my name is Brandon. As I said before, no one really cares about a superhero’s best friend, so it really doesn’t matter if I tell you my real name, now does it?
Anyway, I spent the rest of the day running around Neopia Central trying to find someone to fix my bedroom wall before my mom got home. After the repair crew did their thing and my mom came home completely oblivious, I spent the night lying awake, staring at my ceiling in a state of panic, wondering what the object under my mattress could possibly be and praying that it wasn’t some sort of ticking time bomb. I actually was pondering a lot of others things too, mainly wondering how Jonathan was faring with his battle against whatever/whomever, but I couldn’t dwell on it too much since it gave me a pretty nasty headache.
The next day was when everything happened. It was a Saturday, so I didn’t have school, and I decided to take a walk since the weather was becoming increasingly warm. But before I left the house, I grabbed the little brown package from under my mattress. It had been plaguing my thoughts all night, so I figured I might as well play with it as I walked.
I took a stroll through the park. Little Neopets and their mothers were playing on the swing set and jungle gym, laughing and running about without a care in the world. I was wandering aimlessly, staring at the tiny package in my paw. Sure, John had told me not to open it, but surely I could touch it... and shake it... and try to guess what it was...
Suddenly, I heard a scream. I turned my head and almost didn’t believe my eyes. Towering high above the trees was a giant robot. It seemed to be fashioned of some sort of metal, the giant sheets held together with bolts the size of manholes. It had flexible arms that creaked whenever it moved, and its three fingers on each hand ended in a pointed metal claw. The robot’s eyes glowed red, and its internal machinery made such a racket, beeping and buzzing and clanking with the sound of heavy gears in motion. A large green Virtupets logo was spray-painted on its side.
The robot was yanking at trees, the roots hanging like the gnarled hair of Medusa and dripping clumps of dirt. The robot’s giant feet left smoldering patches of dirt in the park, large enough to be considered small pools by some had they been filled with water. It bent over, examining the turned over tree, and then tossed it to the side casually, where it crashed against the swing set. Thank goodness the little baby Kau that had been playing on it moments before had scampered off into the arms of his frantic mother. The robot, meanwhile, grabbed another tree and repeated the process, this time destroying the small sandbox. It appeared to be looking for something.
But then I saw a blur of turquoise and purple shoot across the sky towards the robot. My jaw dropped. It was John. And now apparently he could fly.
Now I know this isn’t the best time to mention it... but at that moment, I felt a little jealous. I mean, super strength is one thing, but the ability to fly? Why did John get to have all the cool powers? Couldn’t super abilities get spread around the population a bit more?
“Look!” someone cried, pointing at Jonathan. “It’s Mighty Mynci!”
I smacked my forehead. Great. He had a name already!
A crowd gathered near me and oohed and ahhed as Jonathan—sorry, Mighty Mynci—pummeled the robot with his right gloved fist; his left hand was clutching something to his chest. Pings screamed through the air, but despite John’s super strength, the robot was completely unharmed. It glanced at Jonathan as if he were a mere speck of dirt and then flicked him with its giant claws. Jonathan went tumbling backwards out of the sky and hit the base of a tree. The object he’d been holding fell onto the grass beside him.
The robot bent over, and before John could fly away, it had him in his iron grasp, lifting him up fifty feet into the air. The crowd gasped. My heart fluttered wildly in my chest, and my skin broke out in sweat. As much as the whole superhero thing irked me, it was absolute torture to watch my best friend get taken into the clutches of a giant evil machine. And I could do nothing but watch helplessly.
Jonathan was helpless himself. He seemed doomed. But then he looked over at the crowd... and saw me. His eyes widened. And then he yelled out something, jerking his head towards one of the trees. It was hard for me to hear him over the mechanical noises issuing from the robot as it clanked and buzzed angrily, and at first I thought he was telling me to run away. But then his words became clear: Grab the book.
I glanced over towards the base of the tree he had crashed against and noticed a book lying on ground, the object he had dropped. Without a second thought, I ran to it as quickly as my webbed feet would allow and flipped it open. It seemed to be some sort of manual... an owner’s manual for a giant robot!
I turned the pages quickly, glancing up at John to see how he was doing. The robot seemed to be holding him tighter and tighter. Soon he wouldn’t be able to breathe! But then I found the page: forced shut down. I scanned it quickly and yelled up to him, “There should be a panel on his thumb! Open it up and then push the shut down button!”
Of course, I knew doing that would be impossible; John's hands were pinned to his side. There was no way he’d be able to open the panel up, even with his super strength.
But then John glared at the thumb clutching him tightly... and red beams shot out of his eyes. Laser vision. I should have known.
Suddenly, the loud clicking noises came to a halt. The robot’s eyes dimmed. Its claw released its hold. A second later, Jonathan flew out of its grasp and the giant robot crumpled to the ground in a pile of jagged metal.
The crowd cheered, and I expected John to just fly away, but instead he landed in front of me. He still looked ridiculous in his costume, but his eyes were gracious. “Thank you, citizen,” he said with a wink. Of course. He was trying to protect me, pretending that he had no clue who I was. Clever.
“No problem,” I said.
“By the way, do you still have the package I gave you?”
I did. It was clenched tightly in my right hand; I had forgotten it during my heroic dash to grab the book. I passed it over to him. “What’s in there anyway?”
He smiled at me, his teeth glinting in the sunlight. “No time. You’ll find out later.” And he flew off into the sky.
* * *
The final stage of the Normal Circle of Superhero-Friendship is my hands-down favorite: the award ceremony. This is when all the confusing snippets of the past week come together to form one unified, strange, coherent story.
For this particular feat, the mayor hosted a big event that took place in town square. John was on stage, wearing his ridiculous get-up, and hundreds of people had flocked in a large crowd to hear what he had done. I was just another face in the crowd—no one seemed to recognize me as the yellow Krawk that had assisted Mighty Mynci in his time of need. But yet again, no one ever pays attention to random civilians; I guess we just don’t look flashy enough in jeans and T-shirts.
After receiving a very pretty gold plaque, John stood in the center of the stage and told his tale. Apparently a few days earlier, he had been contacted by a grey-haired Wocky, a scientist who worked for Virtupets. His latest creation, a giant robot, had escaped from his workshop. It had a few loose circuits, and was therefore extremely unstable and needed to be recaptured. Luckily, it was fueled by rare red gems that only the Wocky had access to, and if it wasn’t refueled in a few days, it would simply shut down on its own. But the robot was smart; it knew the Wocky was the one who had the jewels and tried to go after the scientist. The Wocky fled to the Space Station so that the robot wouldn’t be able to find him, but due to the large abundance of Kreludite in space, which reacts negatively when in close contact with the jewels, he couldn’t bring the gems with them. So he entrusted John with them.
But things didn’t go as planned. The robot began to terrorize Neopia in an attempt to find the gems, and John knew it needed to be stopped immediately. So he set off to find instructions on how to shut down the robot manually. But before he did that, he needed to make sure that the gems were as far from the robot as possible... so he “hid” them. A.k.a., he gave them to me. Yep. I had been guarding priceless red gems without even knowing it.
But since everything worked out in the end, it was fine by me. Everyone cheered, the mayor smiled, and John flew off into the sunset, only to show up at my house a few hours later to watch a movie. He even brought popcorn.
Since then, we’ve worked out some of the kinks in our new super friendship. We make sure to schedule plenty of non-superhero hang out time, like playing Yooyuball in my backyard and board games on rainy days. We’ve also worked out some of the issues whenever John’s on a mission. It took some time, but he’s promised to only bust through walls on level 5 emergencies or higher. And I’ve promised to stop prying when things are on a “need to know” basis.
But there is one thing I still refuse to quit nagging him about: his costume. So John, if you’re reading this now, I’m begging you on behalf of the entire population of Neopia: please change it up. I know spandex is a superhero thing, but I’m sure it’s not too late to start your own trend. I know, I know... I’m just “the best friend,” but hear me out. You can keep the mask and cape if you really want, but I'm begging you: Get rid of the tights!