To Space!: Part Seven
"They never get old. They can go at any speed. They are diverse as biological Petpets. They can be super strong. They can even be waterproof! They are incredibly intelligent." The robot Tonu rambled on as Brandi did her best to listen.
Finally, Brandi put her hands up in a helpless gesture and shook her head. "Alright, alright. I get it."
Brandi laughed and looked at the different robotic Petpets in the shop.
"Not all of them are robotic," Brandi said, spotting a Snoogy and a Wain.
The Aisha hadn't gotten very far into the shop. There was so much to look at! Then, her gaze wandered back out the shop entrance. Her four ears were working overtime, processing all of the strange sounds of Virtupets. She felt a twinge of unease.
Brandi took a step outside the shop. That's when she saw a tall red Buzz threatening a purple Kacheek. Brandi ran towards them, setting Abacuc down to keep her hands free. As she came up, the Buzz snatched a Kacheek in a Cybunny Costume Plushie from the purple Kacheek.
"Only babies play with plushies," the Buzz sneered.
Brandi growled and snatched the Plushie back. She quickly passed it back to the Kacheek. She now stood between the Buzz and Kacheek.
"Hey! Get out of the way, pipsqueak," the Buzz demanded.
Brandi glowered at the Buzz, having to tilt her head back to meet his eyes. "No."
"No? Then I'll just make you," the Buzz growled.
That's when Brandi's hands burst into flame. The Buzz let out a startled cry at this change.
"What the--How did you do that? I'm getting out of here," the Buzz yelped, turning tail and running away.
Brandi felt immensely satisfied. She smirked as she watched the bully's retreat. She lost her flame and turned to the purple Kacheek. The Kacheek was very pretty and, from her dress, from Brightvale. She had a tear stained face and her green eyes were wide with distress.
Brandi extended a hand to the Kacheek, who had fallen to the floor when the Buzz had pushed her. The Kacheek looked wary of Brandi but accepted the help to her feet.
"Thank you," the Kacheek said.
"You're welcome. I hate bullies," Brandi said, blue eyes flashing.
"You shouldn't hate them. I understand why you do, but I pity them."
Brandi looked doubtful and clearly not understanding. The Kacheek laughed and then smiled.
"My name is Serenity and this is Violet," the Kacheek said, reaching up a hand to pat the purple Blorpulous resting on her head.
"I'm Brandi and this is Abacuc. You're from Brightvale. Why are you on Virtupets?" Brandi asked.
"I'm quite thankful that you spared the plushie. I'm here to adopt a Grundo and bring them home to Brightvale. The plushie is a gift for them."
"Neat! I want to come!"
"Alright, you may. I'm certainly not against it, especially since you helped me when you didn't have to. I am curious, what was that trick you did with your hands?"
"Trick? Oh, it isn't a trick! I've always been able to do that. I can control fire with my hands. Pretty cool and handy."
They arrived at the Adopt a Grundo center. A blue Grundo at a control panel greeted them. Agneza also joined them.
"Welcome! Here to adopt a Grundo, I see. They slobber and cry at night, you know," the Grundo said.
"What baby doesn't do those things, I wonder," Serenity said amiably.
"Better you than me," Agneza said.
"Ma'am, in order for me to complete your adoption of a Grundo, I'm going to need a color, gender and name," the blue Grundo said.
"Oh, yes. Of course. Color: solar red, gender: male, name: Stri," Serenity said.
The blue Grundo tapped in something on the control panel. Then a robot Bruce came from behind pneumatic metal doors, holding a red Grundo sucking his thumb. He smiled and wriggled with delight as he saw the 'pets waiting for him. He reached out to Serenity, flexing his small hands in a 'gimme' gesture. Serenity scooped Stri into her arms and gave him the plushie, which he promptly drooled on.
The group walked out of the Adopt a Grundo center.
"Thank you so much, Brandi, for all of your help. Our shuttle leaves in fifteen minutes. Whenever you're in Brightvale, look us up," Serenity said.
"Wait! Please, sign my journal," Brandi said, bringing out the leather bound book and a pen.
Serenity managed to sign the journal with one hand. After she got Stri not to eat the pen, he scribbled on the page next to Serenity's signature. Then, the Kacheek and Grundo waved goodbye. Brandi watched them until another large create obscured her view.
"OK, I have got to see this Grundo Warehouse!" Brandi exclaimed, leading the way there.
The warehouse was the heart of busyness for the Supply Deck. Grundos swarmed and crates of all sizes were being moved on carts and cranes. The only labels that Brandi could see on the crates were black numbers, letters and dashes, obviously some sort of code.
"This is insane! How do they keep track of it all?" Brandi exclaimed in awe, eyes never staying still for a moment.
"The Grundos that work here have never made a mistake," Agneza said.
Brandi and Agneza were separated for a moment by a bustle of Grundos moving a crate on a cart.
"Hey, Agneza, I'm hungry," Brandi said once they were reunited.
"OK, let's go get something to eat," Agneza said, leading the way back to Grundo Café.
The line and crowd weren't too bad and that's how Brandi saw the fire faerie, chatting with Gargarox. She had met a few fire faeries before but it was very unexpected to see one on Virtupets.
"Brandi, I'd like you to meet Ember. She plays Gormball, too. Ember, this is Brandi," Gargarox introduced the two as Brandi came up.
"The child that can control fire. Not faerie blessed. I would sense your magic otherwise. You must have been born with your abilities. I am pleased to meet you, Brandi," Ember said, curling one slender hand under her chin and gazing at the orange Aisha curiously.
"Same here, Ember! Hey, I've always wanted to ask, why do you play Gormball, being a fire faerie and all?" Brandi said.
"I enjoy being different. Don't you?"
"Don't you find it difficult to work with water? I mean, Gormballs burst and you get wet!"
"Well, that will always be a challenge. I relish it and I'm competitive."
Brandi nodded her head thoughtfully. As they had been talking, Agneza had gone ahead and ordered some food. As they two Aishas ate, Ember and Brandi continued to talk.
"You love what you do," Brandi commented.
"Yes. What do you love, Brandi?" Ember asked.
"Oh, all sorts of things. I'm competitive, too. My family is pretty crazy about Yooyuball and I'm the only one in my family to support Mystery Island."
"If you're interested, once you're finished eating, I wouldn't mind seeing what, exactly, you can do with your fire."
At this, Brandi turned to look at Agneza. The alien Aisha's red eyes glimmered with amusement and she nodded her head. Brandi finished her food as quickly as she could.
"Brandi, I know you're set to go, but I'd like you to meet me back here when you and Ember are finished," Agneza said, one hand on the younger Aisha's shoulder to stay her.
"You're more than welcome to come," Ember said.
"Thank you, Ember. That's very find of you to offer but no."
"I'll see her back, Agneza. Hey, Gargarox, you want to come?"
The mutant Grundo shook his head. "No, I can't. I've still got to work. I'm the head chef. I don't cook, they don't eat, I don't get paid. It's that simple."
"Fine. I'll leave you, my workaholic friend. You're no competition to me when your mind is elsewhere."
The fire faerie turned and walked away, the young orange Aisha beside her. The pair made their way to an elevator.
"So, where are we headed?" Brandi asked.
Ember looked down at the Aisha with a smile. "To the Gormball training room. It's a great space and, if you accidently set something on fire, we'll have plenty of water to put it out."
"Hey! I am in complete control of my abilities!"
Ember smiled indulgently at Brandi. Brandi turned her gaze away, angry that the fire faerie standing beside her was like all of the others she had met. They all believed her to be a child, with a child's abilities. Brandi enlightened them quickly and now, those same fire faeries all respected her. Ember would too.
The elevator doors slid open to reveal a large room.
"There is plenty of space in here, to practice anything you wanted to," Brandi said, studying the area.
"Yes, I certainly find it useful," Ember said.
"What would you like me to do first?"
"Whatever you'd like. I've only met other fire faeries. I know that many Neopets painted fire can control the element. I am surprised that an orange Aisha can, especially since you were born with it, rather than blessed."
"Well, my mother is an eventide Aisha that can control fire and ice. My oldest sibling can control ice, which isn't unusual because she was born snow. For my family, we're sometimes born with elemental abilities."
"Fire and ice? Your mother must be very powerful."
"My mother can't create fire like I can. It's mostly a control of hot and cold for her. As for me, my abilities are linked to my emotions. First, my palms get hot. Then, I can direct the fire as I please."
Brandi held her hands flat out in front of her, palms up. First, only a flicker of light appeared on each palm which soon flared into a merry little flame. As she did this, she kept her gaze on Ember. The fire faerie wasn't impressed, yet; Brandi hardly expected her to. The merry little flames next became regular fireballs.
Seeing this, Ember stepped aside, giving Brandi space. The fire faerie now looked wary. They all did, as if they expected Brandi to lose control any moment. There were targets hanging from the ceiling and Brandi sent her fireballs towards two targets, burning them to ashes. Then, Brandi shot quick flashes of fire at the remaining targets, turning them to ashes.
Brandi looked at Ember. The fire faerie finally had respect in her brown eyes. She slow clapped for a moment and smiled at the orange Aisha.
"Yes, now I understand why you got angry when I dismissed you earlier. You hate when others underestimate you. I completely understand that, Brandi. When I first made the decision to play Gormball, other faeries and competitors all dismissed me, too. I knew I would be great at the water-based sport and I am. It just took everyone else longer to see it. Though, until that happened, I had to learn to deal with it. I'm pleased to see you do the same. Never let someone else tell you that you can't," Ember said.
Brandi had listened in silence as Ember spoke. Then, she smiled broadly.
"Thank you for sharing that with me, Ember. I'll always remember what you've told me," Brandi said.
Then, the fire faerie and orange Aisha spent the next few hours playing with fire. Brandi even learned a thing or two from Ember. Realizing how much time had passed, the pair headed back to Grundo Café.
"Hey, Ember, I had a lot of fun with you! Would you sign my journal?" Brandi asked, journal and pen extended.
"I've been waiting for you to ask, Brandi," Ember said with a smile.
The fire faerie took her time writing a message before returning the journal to Brandi. Taking the journal, Brandi impulsively hugged Ember. Then, she reached across the counter and hugged Gargarox, taking the massive Grundo quite by surprise.
"Why are you suddenly in a hugging mood?" Ember asked.
Brandi could only shrug her shoulders. "Just am."
"Well, I just am ready to head back to our room," Agneza said.
Brandi was still fizzing with energy but Abacuc was resting peacefully in her arms. He always kept up with is owner's energy but after a long day, even he was worn out.
"Brandi, what have you thought of our trip so far?" Agneza asked, as they entered their hotel room.
"It's been amazing! I've seen and experienced so much! I can't believe I'm finally here! I do wish that my family could be here, too," Brandi said, snuggling into her Floating Virtupets Bed.
"Well, you can tell them all about it when you get home."
That night, Brandi dreamed of home. She awoke the next morning, thinking of her family and friends back on Neopia. Agneza noticed that Brandi was unusually quiet. The alien Aisha guessed correctly as to why that was. She was thinking along similar lines.
"You're homesick, aren't you, Brandi?" Agneza said.
Brandi sighed and nodded her head. "Yes, I sure am. This is the farthest I've ever been away from my family before! That isn't to say that I haven't enjoyed myself, Agneza. I have!"
"Of course! Virtupets and space in general is a foreign place. Have you seen enough, Brandi?"
"I-Yes, I certainly have. I'm ready to go home. I just don't want you to feel like you have to leave because of me, Agneza."
"Nonsense! I was waiting for you. This trip has made me realize that space isn't my home any longer. I've enjoyed this trip but I'm ready to go home, too."
Brandi flashed a relieved smile. The two Aishas had breakfast, said goodbye to Gargarox, who gave Brandi a message for Gordon and then they got on the next shuttle. Brandi reflected on her trip. It had been even more strange and wonderful than she had thought it to be at the beginning. Then, she thought of the strangers and the friends she had made.
AJ. The rainbow Grundo had warned Brandi that the Space Station was nothing like Neopia Central. She had been right. Brandi sat back in her seat, Abacuc on her lap. Yes, her trip had been absolutely fantastic.
Now, she was more than ready for her next adventure.