The Lupe With the Horrible Name
There was once a pet created with such a terrible name that I can't even tell it to you. For the purpose of telling her story, we shall refer to her as "Unprintable". She was a plain blue Lupe, and had been abandoned right after some mischievous soul had created her. She did not understand the concept of a loving owner, and assumed all pets were immediately sent to the pound. She was fed three times a day, let out to exercise once a day, and sometimes people would walk by her kennel and laugh or give her sympathetic looks before moving on and taking another, "better" pet away. Unprintable did not know what anyone meant by calling one pet "better" than the other. After all, they were all waiting to be adopted, weren't they? It was a good enough life in her opinion, being the only one she knew.
In the exercise yard, pets would tell her of life outside of the Pound. Most tales were pleasant and hopeful, stories of kind, compassionate people who took in pets, fed them, painted them, and bought bottled faeries to bless them once freed. The ones that stuck in her mind the most, though, were the horror stories. Doctor Sloth and his attempts to take over Neopia, mutate pets into hideous parodies of their former selves, a Bruce named Boochi who turned unsuspecting pets into babies with his ray gun. Unprintable often had nightmares of being released into the wider world and having something like this happen to her. It made her that much more grateful for her cage with its old issues of the Neopian Times lining it, the ragged plushie she chewed on for comfort, and the dish of water that was refilled daily.
One day, a human opened a world of possibilities to Unprintable. There was a little red button marked with the words "Report Name" beside her nameplate. She was sure the boy of about fifteen was going to adopt her, and quivered in fear at the prospect of being brought to a new home. The boy did something even worse, though. To Unprintable's horror, the child pointed one finger and slowly pressed the "Report Name" button.
"NO! What are you doing? They'll take me away!" she cried.
"I'm sorry to distress you, but I'm sure it won't be that bad," said the boy, and walked away to look at a yellow Aisha.
A loud buzzing noise filled Unprintable's ears and set the other Lupes and the Gelerts barking. Some pets moaned in protest of the noise, others muttering things to the effect of "It's about time someone did that". One Acara simply lifted his head as if it weighed a metric ton, and then lowered it again, heaving a depressed sigh. Unprintable simply sat alert, watching as one of the humans Dr. Death referred to as "The Neopets Team" or sometimes simply "TNT", came running. This human - an adult dressed in business casual attire - adjusted his thick glasses and peered at the name beneath the cage door. He scribbled something on a clipboard and then hastily unscrewed the nameplate from the kennel. The door gave a piercing squeak as it opened.
"Oil that thing! It's driving us crazy!" one of the pets shouted, backed up with the voices of others agreeing with her. The man ignored them all, placing a step ladder in front of Unprintable's open cage.
"Come with me, please. We will be taking you to the room at the end of the hall."
Unprintable was confused and scared. She had seen other pets taken away after the red buttons were pushed. Not a single one of them ever came back. Nervously, she stepped off of her comfortable newspaper lining and onto the cold tiled floor. Her hackles rose, tail tucking itself in between her hind legs. She shook like a Zei Codestone. All of her instincts told her to run in the opposite direction of the man walking slowly to a door at the end of the hallway – to back into her cage and refuse to leave, or to burst out the front door and face the world's terrors instead. She resisted the urge to flee, and like a good pet, trotted after him, putting up a front of false bravado.
"Why don't you hop up here and take a seat?" The Team member indicated what looked like a checkup table. In fact, these new surroundings were very much like a doctor's checkup room, with an office chair and a shelf of medicines. There were even needles lined up neatly in a row on the shelf. Vaccines, she knew, but they still unnerved her. Nobody was treated for their illnesses at the pound. Unprintable complied with the man's request, sitting pretty.
"Excuse me, sir, but what's going to happen to me?"
"Well, first we'll see if you're in good health, and if you are then we'll take it from there."
"And what do you do if I'm not in good health?"
"We'll nurse you back to normal. Now, please wait here while I go get Doctor Death. He'll be here shortly. Don't leave this room."
Unprintable nodded, mildly relieved. They wouldn't do anything bad if they were going to make sure she was healthy, right? She might even get some tea to calm her nerves. Or maybe...
Her train of thought was interrupted when the door swung open. Doctor Death walked in, dressed as usual in his lab coat and ridiculous white wig.
"Well, well, well. It would seem that someone has noticed you were given a rather vile name. I'll bet you're wondering what happens next, am I correct? Most of you vermin do," he drawled slowly, his voice making Unprintable wonder, as she often did, just how old the doctor was.
"Am I going to be sent to the Virtupets Space Station to be enslaved?"
The Techo laughed wickedly. "Is that what they told you? The other miserable souls trapped here?"
"Well, err, um, y-yes."
"Don't you worry your fleabitten little coat, Lupe. We can't afford to send you off that far, and I don't think Queen Fyora would be incredibly happy to find out if that was what we did with you pets. Now, I need you to open up wide and say 'aaah'."
When the brief, unpleasant checkup was complete, Doctor Death told Unprintable that she was in good shape, and placed a helmet on her head. He said something afterwards, but she never remembered what it was. Her mind was wiped of most information. They kept the helmet on and led her outdoors. She had vague memories of a chain link fence with barbed wire at the top, but was unsure what these grey wires were for. She didn't even remember her own name. Someone removed the helmet and she turned towards the receding footsteps, but everything was black. She wasn't even sure whether or not she was standing on the ground or floating in a void.
After what somehow felt like an eternity compressed into five seconds, there was a flash of light. A girl of about eleven with a backpack slung over her shoulder stood before her, smiling.
"Welcome to Neopia, Minnie. Let's go get our newbie pack and then play some games!"