A Petpet for the Day of Giving
A large shovel flew over Tony's head, and she shrieked, ducking behind a large bush. Her heart thudded loudly in her chest, and she breathed in deeply, trying to understand what just happened. One moment she'd been walking calmly, minding her own business as she'd headed home from Warf Wharf , and then someone started screaming at her and chucking things in her direction!
The shovel clattered harmlessly on the dirt path beside her.
"Get out of here!" said a voice, loud and desperate and angry.
Tony threw her paws up in the air. "I surrender!" she said. "I'm gone!"
She scuttled away from the house as fast as her little Chia feet could carry her. More items flew from it, and Tony could only be glad that she wasn't the largest Neopet in the world. She was almost as tiny as a Kadoatie, so most of the items completely missed her.
Something soft hit her on the top of her head, and it landed on her scarf. Tony stumbled over her own feet in her haste to get away. The voice continued to scream and shout at her as she fled the absurd scenario, and slowly began to fade and fade until it was completely gone. Shriveled ferns slapped at her sides while she ran and she tripped on many spindly tree roots. She ducked along the high ridge that overlooked Smuggler's Cove and practically flew past the Academy. Her sides were starting to ache by the time she deemed it safe enough to stop.
She relaxed against one of the trees next to the large old training center, and slid down to the ground. She shivered. She hadn't been that terrified in a long time. Not since she lived in the pound. She shuddered, remembering the many nights she'd gone to sleep to the cries of a newly abandoned pet, calling for their now ex-owners. She also remembered her own first weeks there, wishing so desperately that her owner hadn't taken her Kadoatie when he'd dropped her off there. He'd even raised his eyebrow at her, as if he couldn't believe such a pet like her could ever dream of keeping such an expensive petpet.
She rested her paws on her feet, and a small, round green object fell from her scarf. Tony blinked. She forgot completely about it. As it rolled into a small divot in the dirt road, she saw that it was a petpet toy. Barely the size of a marble it was bitten and chewed and looked like it'd been well loved by whatever critter it belonged to. There were deep scratches with dirt embedded in it and lots of little puncture marks, some smaller than others.
Tony crawled forward and picked it up.
Maybe she should give it back to them. The petpet was probably going to be missing it tonight if she didn't head to that place. But then she remembered all of the shouting and yelling and object throwing and she sat back down on her rump. She couldn't. She didn't want to go back if all she was going to get in return was that kind of treatment. Rudeness? She could probably handle that, but not yelling.
As soon as her lungs stopped burning, Tony stood up and headed on her way back home. Before long she could see the little structure built on top of a small hill of grass and trees and cattail bushes, and her heart lifted.
Before she'd been left in the pound, she and her owner lived near the Snowager's Cave on Terror Mountain. Every day at six in the morning, two in the evening and ten at night they'd be forced to listen to the giant snow creature's roars sporadically for the entire hour. Tony remembered digging under six foot snow drifts and being trapped inside for days at a time during the winter, and how sometimes she had to bury herself in blankets when they ran out of wood for the fire.
A couple of her siblings asked her why she wanted to live on Krawk Island during the winter. There it was a miracle if it got cold enough to snow, and most of them couldn't handle the constant winds that plagued the place all year long.
Tony just smiled and reminded them that she didn't have to worry about the snow.
She did not like snow.
"I'm back!" she called as soon as she passed through the gate. A quiet voice called out in reply from the back of the house, and the little Chia changed her direction. She was planning on going inside, but if Kheiitsu was outside, she figured she could stay outdoors for a little while longer. Out of all her new siblings, the royal Korbat was one of her favorites.
Her sister was huddled behind a flower bush that was so big it almost completely obscured her. She had a pair of clippers in her hand, and there were several small holes in the ground to her right. On her left there was a large back of black and white bulbs.
"What are you doing?"
"Planting Exploding Pod Plant bulbs," the Korbat answered quietly.
"...Exploding Pod Plants?" asked Tony. She raised her eyebrows. "Why in the world would you want to do that?"
Kheiitsu leaned out from behind the bush, her fangs flashing as she grinned at Tony.
"Because they won't be ready until the Month of Sleeping," she said. "They hold a yearly fireworks celebration, and these should be just about ready to blossom by then. Can't you imagine?"
"Don't tell Urroy."
"Because I want to surprise him, that's why."
Tony put her extra paw to her mouth. Urroy wasn't startled by anything. The large wraith Grarrl was fairly quiet and kept to himself, and if she hadn't seen him in action at the Battledome she wouldn't have thought of him as brave at all, let alone much of a fighter. Still, most people 'pets outside of their family tended to be fairly intimidated by him.
To be fair, though. The first time she saw him she thought he was another one of those shadow creatures sent by Xandra. But that was years ago.
"Would you like to help?" asked Kheiitsu. "I've still got a lot of pruning to do. I forgot to get to some of the bushes a couple of weeks ago."
Tony looked around at the veritable nursery they had growing in the backyard. There were so many flowers and vegetables growing back here that you could hardly see the house from here.
"I can see why."
"Don't be snide."
But she tucked the small toy into her scarf, knelt down and started to help her sister anyway. The first day she came to Krawk Island she felt like she needed to do something so Kheiitsu taught her how to prune bushes then. So she got to work, snipping off dead branches and pruning a couple of the withered flowers when she thought they were too close to one another. After ten minutes of this, she paused. She looked at her older sister.
"Yes?" the Korbat responded, clipping off a stubborn branch.
"I was on my way home from the Wharf when somebody started yelling at me," Tony said. "They threw stuff at me too and I accidentally took one of them when I ran away."
She dug the little toy out of her scarf and held it out. Kheiitsu frowned and took it from her.
"Where was this?"
"Near Smuggler's Cove," Tony answered simply.
Kheiitsu's large ears drooped backward, and for some strange reason she got a look of pity on her face.
"What?" asked Tony. "What's wrong?"
"That was Xeina," she said. "I think this belonged to her petpet. Xander. He was a Garfir. He passed away a couple of months ago. Got sick and the petpet doctors couldn't figure out how to cure him before he died."
"Oh." This was before Tony was adopted. She'd only lived here for a month.
"She's been doing stuff like that," Kheiitsu said with a frown. "It got better for a couple of weeks, but now that it's getting close to the Day of Giving she has to be hurting pretty bad. She's probably missing Xander a lot now."
"So I should bring it back then," said the Chia.
"Probably," said Kheiitsu. "I'll go back with you later if you want me to come with. She can be stubborn, but she'll listen if you're persistent enough."
"Or loud enough," said Tony, remembering the volume she'd screamed at her with.
Kheiitsu chuckled a little, and for a few moments there was nothing but the sound of the ocean breeze and the snipping of shears.
"Back here!" Kheiitsu yelled, cupping her paw around her mouth.
Moments later a plushie Acara peeked around the corner. Tony didn't recognize her, but from the way Kheiitsu leaned back and set her shears on the ground, she had to guess it was Xeina. She'd really been focused a lot on escape when the objects started flying at her, so she didn't get much of a chance to see the thrower. The Korbat pressed the green ball into her palm, and shrugged at her.
"I'm sorry!" the Acara blurted before Tony got too close to her. "I'm so sorry! I've been stressed and anxious and I thought you were coming over to talk to me and my owner told me how rude I was and I can't find Xander's toy and I thought maybe—"
"I understand," said Tony, holding out the toy and dropping it into her palm. "I used to have a petpet before I was abandoned. My owner took it from me before he left me at the pound because it was too expensive to leave with a pet he didn't want anymore." She paused for a moment. "The toy landed in my scarf while I was running."
Xeina blinked, and looked at the small toy in her paws. Tears started to well up in her eyes.
"Thank you," she said softly. "You have no idea what this means to me. I'm so sorry I was mean to you."
"Don't worry about it," Tony said. "Like I told you, I understand. I miss my Kadoatie a lot, too."
"If it means that much to you," said Tony, "I've been thinking about getting a petpet soon. It'd mean a lot to me if you could come."
Xeina looked at her for a moment, a shocked expression on her face. After a moment she composed herself, and smiled.
"I'm sorry," she repeated, but this time it was with a smile on her face. "I'd like that a lot."