The Poking Stick
There are some days you never forget. For Morshiil, the day when her brother poked Ylana Skyfire with a stick was definitely on that list. Generally speaking, poking an angry Ylana Skyfire isn't a smart move. With a stick or without a stick, you just don't poke Ylana Skyfire. But apparently, if you're a cute, slimy, annoying, baby Grundo, you might just get away with it. And more.
For Morshiil, that memorable day started similarly to many others. Her little brother, Gaavi, was annoying her. It was what he did best. But today was different. Today, he was annoying her with a stick. That may not sound particularly remarkable to you. But Morshiil lived on Kreludor. And the distinct lack of vegetation on Kreludor made sticks extremely rare. She had no idea where Gaavi had got the stick. The fact was, he had it. And he was using it to good effect.
By the time Morshiil had awoken and fixed her hair (teenage Xweetoks do take a while on their hair), Gaavi was already up and about. And he had found his stick. Morshiil went downstairs to the kitchen to get breakfast. Gaavi was enthusing excitedly about his new stick. He wondered where it had come from. He wondered who had made it. He wondered what it could do. As a baby Grundo with limited life experience, he didn't know the answers to these ponderings. But he was determined to find out. His sister met his enthusiasm with a stormy silence. But that didn't bother him. He was determined as ever to find answers.
By the time Morshiil was sitting in her favourite seat, enjoying her new book, Gaavi had found one answer. What could his stick do? It could poke!
Poke. The stick poked the table. Gaavi squealed with excitement. It had made a little tap sound. He tried to draw Morshiil's attention to the fact. Poke, poke, poke went the stick. Tap, tap, tap went the table. Morshiil remained resolutely inattentive.
Poke. The stick poked the rug. Gaavi discovered that he could move the rug in tiny increments by poking it in a certain direction. He embarked upon a mission to poke the rug from one side of the room to the other. Poke, poke, poke. Again, Morshiil's interest was, for some reason, not piqued by the amazing, rug-moving stick. Gaavi looked around for something else to poke.
The stick inched slowly towards her foot, and ... Poke! Morshiil twitched a most amazing twitch. Her book flew into the air. "Gaav!" she squeaked in a voice much higher than usual. She hastily rearranged her flustered features into a scowl of disapproval. "You are never, ever to poke me! Do you understand?!" Gaavi sensed it was time to hang his head and look contrite. He had judged correctly. Morshiil was somewhat mollified and soon subsided in a huff.
When he sensed the attention was off him, Gaavi's features spread slowly into a grin. He knew what his stick would poke next. He crept around behind Morshiil's chair ... and poked.
"Gaaaviii!" shrilled Morshiil, "Do. Not. Poke. Me." She noticed Gaavi's mouth begin to open in protest. "Or my chair." she quickly added. "Or anything else. In this room. For the next hour. Understood?"
Gaavi reluctantly nodded.
Within ten minutes, Morshiil was beginning to wonder if she should regret her mandate. There are few things more annoying than a bored baby Grundo. Especially when that Grundo is rolling around on the floor, whining. For a whole hour.
Fortunately for Morshiil, she finished her book within 15 minutes. She then had a good reason to get Gaavi out of the house. In an effort to avoid tantrums, she allowed Gaavi to take his stick with. She had a feeling that she would come to regret that decision.
Their first destination was Booktastic Books. Morshiil needed to stock up on reading material. She managed to finalise a few purchases. Then, dragging Gaavi by the hand, she made a hasty retreat. She apologised profusely as she ducked out the door. Gaavi's poking stick had managed to unshelf a large proportion of the books.
Next, they went on to Cafe Kreludor. Morshiil felt she needed her coffee with a brother like Gaavi. She smiled as she breathed in the fragrant smell of her coffee. A good coffee, a good book, what more could a Xweetok want? She settled down at a table and began to read.
Her new book was a great read. For a while, she dwelt in the world of space exploration. She finished the first chapter and was just about to turn to the second. Then, a horrible thought struck her. Where was Gaavi?
With a jolt, Morshiil landed back on Kreludor. She had an empty coffee in her hand. And her baby brother was nowhere in sight. She hastily shoved her book into her bag and went in search of Gaavi. A quick scan of the cafe told her that he wasn't there.
She made her way to the counter. "Excuse me, have you seen a baby Grundo with a stick?" she asked the shopkeeper.
He chuckled. "I'll say I have! Gave me a right scare he did."
"Which way did he go?" Morshiil enquired.
The shopkeeper directed her to the southern exit. Morshiil took a deep breath, and set off.
Fortunately for Morshiil, a baby Grundo with a stick stands out. Almost everyone she asked was able to point her in the right direction. Many also related stories of poked ankles. Morshiil's worry began to mount as she realised the direction Gaavi was travelling. Towards the Kreludan Mining Corp. That was one place she didn't want her little brother wandering around.
Just then, she caught sight of Gaavi not far off. He was crouched behind a crater, waiting to poke the next unsuspecting person to walk past. From her vantage point, Morshiil could see that next unsuspecting person. It was a silhouette she had never seen in real life before. But it was one she recognised all too well. Ylana Skyfire strode angrily and purposefully towards Kreludan Mining Corp.
Her heart in her mouth, Morshiil ran towards Gaavi. She had always imagined that if she saw Ylana Skyfire, she would run in the opposite direction. Not the same direction. But drastic times call for drastic measures. And Morshiil couldn't conceive of a more drastic situation than this ... until she tripped. As she slammed into the ground, she realised that all was lost. There was no way she could get to Gaavi in time now.
Sitting up gingerly, Morshiil watched from afar as something caused Ylana to break stride. No doubt a poke from a stick. She heard a cry of rage leave the Acara's throat. She saw her whip around to fire on her attacker. Ylana's laser rent the air above Gaavi's head. Ylana must have expected a somewhat taller attacker. Ylana looked puzzled. Then curious. She knelt down to be on Gaavi's level.
Full of aches and pains, Morshiil picked herself up and hobbled the rest of the distance to Ylana and Gaavi. She had no idea what she would do once she got there, but she couldn't leave her brother in the clutches of that bounty hunter. As she approached, Gaavi spotted her. "Morshiil!" he greeted her, waving. Ylana looked up and noticed the pink Xweetok walking towards them.
"Is he yours?" she enquired not unkindly.
Morshiil nodded, shamefacedly.
"He's adorable," enthused Ylana, turning her attention back to Gaavi.
Morshiil stopped in her tracks. 'Adorable' was not a word that she would regularly apply to her brother. But to hear it coming from Ylana Skyfire ...
Morshiil had some preconceived ideas about what Ylana Skyfire would be like in the flesh. Apparently, had been was wrong. She limped closer.
Ylana and Gaavi were clearly in the middle of a conversation. From what Morshiil heard, it was something about the nature and uses of sticks. So Morshiil sat quietly to one side, waiting for them to finish. She figured that while Ms. Skyfire was happy, it was best to keep it that way. Gaavi was busy expounding his discoveries of the different methods of poking. He paused momentarily to draw breath.
Ylana took the opportunity to turn to Morshiil and ask, "May I borrow him for the day?"
Morshiil was taken aback at that. She caught her breath. "What for?" she managed to ask.
Ylana must've read her face. "Oh no, nothing sinister!" she reassured her. "Just for a play date."
Morshiil was strongly disbelieving. The idea of Ylana Skyfire wanting a play date with her brother was preposterous. But the idea of telling Ylana Skyfire "No" wasn't something she was up for.
"I guess so," she heard herself saying. "So long as I can come too."
"What do you think, Gaav?" asked Ylana. "Shall we let her come?"
Gaavi nodded enthusiastically.
And so it was that Morshiil spent a play date with Ylana Skyfire. Well, more correctly, Gaavi spent a play date with Ylana Skyfire. Morshiil just ran along behind them. She felt utterly out of place.
As it transpired, Ms. Skyfire wasn't too supportive of poking people with sticks. In fact, she spent much of the day trying to redirect Gaavi's stick-wielding energy to more harmless endeavours. They played jumping over the stick. They played using it as a walking stick. They played tapping the stick on different rocks. All had limited success. Gaavi would still poke people.
Until he happened to poke a meteor. Surprisingly, the meteor cracked open and a Proto-force 5000 Helmet fell out. (#ThingsThatOnlyHappenInNeopia)
Gaavi, delighted, picked up the helmet and put it on his head. His stick lay forgotten on the ground.
It was hard to hear what Gaavi was saying. His voice was very muffled inside his new helmet. But eventually Morshiil and Ylana understood that he was thrilled to have a helmet "Just like Ylana". Ylana laughed, and even Morshiil smiled. Then they turned to head back. Behind them sat the meteor, which had suddenly grown very hot. On the ground beside it lay Gaavi's forgotten stick. Waiting for some fortunate tourist to come and poke the meteor with it.
When it was time for Ylana to leave, she said a fond goodbye to Gaavi.
"Do you mind if I come round and play again, little guy?" she asked him. "Where do you live?" this last was addressed to Morshiil.
Then, seeing the look of absolute terror on Morshiil's face, Ylana laughed.
"Oops, I forgot," she said. "You might not want to hand out your address to someone in my line of work." She laughed again.
She took out a piece of floral notepaper from her pocket. As she wrote her own address on the paper, Ylana muttered something under her breath. Morshiil thought it sounded suspiciously like "As if that could ever stop me anyhow". The moment passed. Ylana finished writing and handed the page to Morshiil.
"If you ever have a free day," she instructed Gaavi "Come over and play. But you must be sure to tell the guards that you are Master Gaavi, come on Ms. Skyfire's orders. Otherwise they might... not let you in."
"Yes sir," exclaimed Master Gaavi. He drew himself up to his fullest height and saluted. His chubby hand narrowly missed the spikes on his helmet.
Ylana returned his salute, turned on her heel and strode off. Morshiil and Gaavi watched her go. "Well, what do you know?" Morshiil said. More to herself than to anyone else. Then she took Gaavi by the hand and turned for home too. A good cup of coffee and chapter two of her new book awaited her.