Finding Boochi: Part Two
"So, how do we go about finding Boochi?" asked Charlie.
It had been a day since Mhewsie suggested they hunt for the baby Bruce. Charlie had told Isabelle his plan, and she had hugged him tightly, telling him she would help him in any way she could. Charlie was now sitting in the Smoothie Shop with Mhewsie. She was slurping happily from a swirly pink straw.
"You really should try one of these Banana Split Smoothies, Charlie, they're delicious," she said, taking another sip.
Charlie sighed, cupping his chin in his paw. The Smoothie Shop was buzzing with activity, something that bothered him. Ever since becoming Grey, he had found that he didn't like crowds. Or being around people. But Mhewsie had insisted they talk over a Smoothie. He had refused to purchase one, though. The neopoints he had scraped together from a few arcade games rested safely in a pouch that was slung over his shoulder. He intended to use them for 'adventuring' purposes only.
"Can we just get on with it?" asked Charlie, looking nervously over his shoulder as another group of Neopians entered the shop.
"Okay, okay," said Mhewsie, shoving a piece of paper at him across the table. "Look at that."
Curious, Charlie picked up the wrinkled piece of paper, unfolded it, and smoothed it out. It appeared to be some sort of official document, addressed to Mhewsie, and signed "The Chesterpot Institute."
As he skimmed the letter, Charlie found his eyebrows raising in surprise.
"Yep," said Mhewsie, "The Institute sent me that letter about six months ago. They're scientists. They record Boochi appearances, and more importantly, who he's zapped and where. That letter has their address."
"Y-You mean... we're actually going to see these scientists?"
"Of course. You want to be happy again, don't you?"
Charlie nodded, but doubt was growing in his belly. He hadn't travelled since he had first moved to Neopia Central, and his new dislike for people and crowds meant that he felt incredibly nervous about the trip.
Especially since they were going to outer space.
Neopia Central offered a pod service that took tourists up to the Space Station, if they so desired. When Mhewsie and Charlie arrived at the pod building, Charlie's knees were shaking so much that he could barely walk. Mhewsie shrieked as she looked at the prices hanging in the window outside.
"That's more than all of our money put together!" she moaned.
Secretly, Charlie was glad. Perhaps now he could go back to that shady spot under his favourite tree, and not have to worry about drifting off into the middle of space with nobody to rescue him.
"Come on, Charlie!" cried Mhewsie, and she rushed off before he had time to object.
He caught up with her at the side of the building. She was peering around the corner of the wall, hissing, "They're loading a pod! We could sneak on board..."
"Are you crazy?!"
"We'll wait until it's going to take off, and then... we'll grab on!"
Charlie could see many flaws in that plan, and he opened his mouth to voice his concerns. But Mhewsie shouted, "Let's go!" and dashed out of their hiding place, heading straight for the pod.
Charlie scrambled after her. She was more spritely than he was, and he struggled to keep up, since he was a somewhat chubby Yurble. He could already see one of the staff members closing the door to the pod. Thankfully, he hadn't noticed them dashing towards it... yet.
Mhewsie halted at the back of the pod. There was no back door, Charlie noticed. As he reached the baby Aisha, puffing and panting, the pod began to shudder. It was preparing for take-off.
"Charlie, grab on!" cried Mhewsie, and she closed her paws around one of the iron bars on the back of the pod.
"Are you crazy? This thing is going into space!"
"The Space Faerie does that all the time. Come on! It'll be a piece of cake! Or do I have to go up there without you?"
"Hey! What are you two doing?"
The staff member had noticed them! Charlie had seconds to make a decision. He took one look at Mhewsie - a tiny baby. Fragile, no matter how old she was on the inside. He couldn't let her do something so dangerous alone. Mustering up all his courage (at least, the tiny amount he had left), he grabbed onto the bar, and the pod shot into the air, heading for the clouds.
"Woohoo, Charlie!" screamed Mhewsie. The air was pinning her ears to the back of her head, making her look strange.
Charlie did not share her excitement. The wind was whipping against his fuzzy mane, roaring in his ears, and he had made the mistake of looking down as they rose higher into the air. Neopia Central was vanishing – the staff member that had yelled at them was becoming nothing more than a speck on a vastness of green. Charlie squeezed his eyes shut, wishing that he was safely on the ground again, where he belonged.
All of a sudden, Mhewsie was yelling, "Charlie, we're in SPACE!"
His curiosity got the better of him. Charlie's eyes snapped open, and he was greeted by a sea of stars glittering all around them. He blinked in amazement, noting their beauty but fearing them all the same. He'd heard about meteors and comets. What if one hit them? His paws began to get clammy as the anxious thoughts raced through his head.
Charlie looked down at Neopia, growing ever further away from them. He could see the ocean and the tiny blobs of land. Dizziness engulfed him.
In that moment of vertigo, his grip slipped, and he felt himself falling back towards the planet.
Mhewsie's scream was piercing.
Oddly, Charlie was falling slowly, but he was still yelling and struggling against the fall, tears leaking out of his eyes. Would he be caught in space forever, drifting away from the planet he called home? Imagine the horror! Life in space as a Grey pet, drifting endlessly in a black void...
Something lifted him from behind, and Charlie cried out in surprise. He heard an odd buzzing sound – like a swarm of Buzzers - and felt himself being pulled back up. Charlie looked over his shoulder and gasped.
The Space Faerie was smiling down at him, her shimmery blue wings fluttering behind her as she whizzed him back towards Mhewsie.
"Shouldn't you two be inside the pod?" she asked. But her large red eyes were amused rather than stern.
Charlie was speechless. The Space Faerie flew up to the pod and offered Mhewsie her back. "Climb on," she instructed. "I'll take you to the Space Station. This is way too dangerous. You can explain all of this when we get there. I hope there's a good reason."
Mhewsie, looking utterly stunned and a little star-struck, clambered onto the Space Faerie's back carefully, and hooked her tiny paws around the faerie's neck.
"Hold on tight!" instructed the faerie. And she zoomed past the pod and it's amazed passengers, who were staring and pointing at the strange sight outside of their window.
The Space Faerie was much faster than the pod. Charlie's stomach lurched as she sped towards Virtupets Space Station, which was approaching rapidly. They could already see its two gigantic red spikes and the pulse of electricity that shot between them. As they neared the Station, the faerie flew them towards the main entrance – a gigantic metal door with glowing switches and buttons all over it. Charlie wondered what they were for.
The Space Faerie landed in the lobby and set them down. Charlie looked around, fascinated. There were Grundos everywhere – he had never even seen one before – wearing their work jumpsuits and carrying metal toolboxes. There were also several groups of tourists which were easily distinguished from the Grundos. They were all dressed in brightly coloured clothing and stood out like a sore thumb against the backdrop of the Space Station.
"Now," said the Space Faerie, "Why were you two so desperate to get into space? Why would you pull a stunt like THAT?"
"There is!" Mhewsie piped up, puffing out her chest defensively. "Charlie became Grey by accident. He's unhappy – it's a miserable colour to be! We came here to talk to Professor Chesterpot. He's conducted Boochi studies... he HAS to know something!"
The Space Faerie raised her eyebrows. "The Institute is past the Supply Deck." She jerked her thumb, indicating the direction. "But Boochi is elusive... I'm not sure this Chesterpot will have any idea how to find him."
"We have to try!"
"I wish you the best of luck, little ones," said the faerie, giving Mhewsie a pat on the head, "I will wait for you in the lobby... you're going to need a ride home, after all." She gave them a little wink.
"Thank you very much," said Charlie, who was astonished by her kindness and understanding. He had almost forgotten those things existed. Still, now that they were here... he was determined not to get his hopes up just to have them dashed.
"Thanks! Come on, Charlie! Let's go find Boochi!" said Mhewsie, scurrying off and leaving Charlie to hurry after her, as usual.
To be continued...