Venn and the Isolated Island: Part One
It was yet another average morning for Venn, a camouflage Gelert. He climbed out of bed, stretched, put on his brown shorts and yellow scarf, and headed to the Neohome's dining room for breakfast, where his owner and his brother, Hans the green Acara, were waiting. There they ate a typical Neopian meal, consisting mainly of omelets and jelly. After this came probably the most suspenseful part of the day: the journey to the Secret Laboratory, where Venn would be zapped. Venn, each time, hoped that the Ray would do something to correct what he viewed as his one big weakness, that being his inability to swim. Hans always picked on him about that and Venn himself was greatly disappointed by it as he had always dreamt about becoming an explorer of the oceans. Exploring the endless depths, viewing the great diversity of plant and animal life... it was a distant fantasy that might just become reality all in a single moment. In the meanwhile, as he awaited this lucky zap, he kept an inflatable inner tube underneath his scarf, which he could inflate at a moment's notice by pulling the cord... just in case. He never wanted to actually use it.
He had already been zapped for a bit more than a month at this point, in the span of which he had become female and then male again multiple times, had numerous adjustments made to his physical abilities, and also got painted Camouflage (since he had originally been Blue.) Upon arriving, the maniacal Scorchio scientist escorted him to a spot in front of the Ray. Venn was already quite used to this, so he was not afraid, yet he was still nervous as the Ray began to glow and spark with electricity. The Ray fired and the room was filled with a bright glow.
The feeling Venn felt at this was far different than anything he ever felt before; he could feel every single cell in his body separating from its proper place and moving. For a moment, he was not a Gelert, or anything really, but an amorphous mass of cells; what a situation to be in! The light faded and his body was together again, yet he still felt weird. He looked at his paw; his fur had turned orange and his toes had been replaced by sharp claws. He turned around to find that his formerly slender tail had become extremely fluffy. He touched his head to find that his ears, by comparison, had become tiny stubs. All the signs had pointed towards one thing: he had turned into an Orange Lutari. This news filled him with enough joy to encourage him to saunter around the room a few times; since Lutaris are known to be great swimmers, he'd finally achieve his dreams! He could barely contain his excitement on the boat ride back to the mainland and announced all of his rather hasty plans to Hans and his owner.
Venn took a few days to get used to his new body. The most difficult part was learning to walk on two legs. While Lutaris are well adapted to walking on four legs, decorum dictated that they generally walk on two legs, so he practiced quite a bit. It also took him some practice to learn how hold things with his hands, as well, as learning to eat without accidentally dropping food on the ground in front of him (as his snout as a Lutari was far shorter than as a Gelert.)
The time had come when he felt confident to test his swimming abilities. He and Hans thus traveled to Kiko Lake. Venn, filled with utmost confidence, walked out to the edge of the pier, took a deep breath, and dived in. Hans waited at the edge of the lake, waiting for Venn's head to bob back up again. He waited... nothing but some bubbles. He stuck his head in the water to see what was happening. Venn was flailing his limbs around, still not completely out of confidence that he could make it. Hans could only watch as Venn started to flail harder and harder, until he decided that Venn was in trouble and dove in to rescue him. He dragged Venn out to the shore.
Venn caught his breath and asked somewhat angrily, "Hans, why did you pull me out? I almost figured it out!”
“Venn, stop; I was watching, and I saw you struggling.”
“As a Lutari, I can hold my breath for a lot longer than I could before; you could've waited a bit longer!”
“Venn... please, you just can't swim. Maybe you could with more practice, but not now. At least practice somewhere that's shallower, at least!”
The duo walked home in silence. Living as a Lutari that could not swim; how embarrassing! Surely, he would be the laughing stock of pretty much everybody; he had already seen the stares of onlookers. Perhaps he just needed to practice more. Or maybe he would never swim. Surely, he thought, this was the worst day of his life. He was convinced that he'd probably remain unable to swim even if the Ray had turned him into a Koi or some other similarly aquatic species. The next few days were sad times for him. Both Hans and his owner attempted to cheer him up, but he decided to be silent; he might as well have been a Grey painted pet.
On one day, he left his Neohome without saying a word, and instead decided that he would like to have breakfast at the Roo Island café instead. He sat down at the counter and ordered a mug of Borovan. In the seat next to him sat another Lutari, painted Island, wearing a lab coat.
Out of boredom, Venn asked the other Lutari, "How's life?”
“Fine; going on a trip. How about you?”
Venn at this point remembered a story he had read in the Neopian Times a while ago that featured an Island Lutari wearing a lab coat. He had forgotten a lot of the details, he remembered in the story that she had undertook some kind of trip to Lutari Island, went overboard, became a castaway, and landed on some deserted island before being rescued. "Uh... are you Lana by chance?”
“Yeah... how did you know? You've heard of me somewhere?”
“You were in the Neopian Times, I think, there was a story about you. Quite an adventure you had there!”
“Wait... Red actually sent that in and they published it? That's pretty cool, actually.”
Venn decided that, perhaps, since he knew that Lana was certainly much more of a Lutari than he was, perhaps, if he were to stick around a Lutari like that, then maybe some of her abilities would rub off on him. Besides, some kind of adventure would distract him from his current condition. "Well, your adventure sounds like fun! Must be exciting. Might be cool to go on a trip like that.”
"Are you asking me for a job? Haha... actually, there is a spot open. It's just as dangerous as that story makes it sound, though, but your choice.”
“Yeah, sure! I'll do it, why not? Never gone on that sort of adventure.”
Venn thus prepared for the trip. The job he had taken was merely a low-ranking one, so the pay would be little, but it would be better than nothing. He told Hans and his owner that he would be going sailing, but did not tell them the specifics. Lana gave him a piece of paper with useful information on it, such as specifics about how the ship is run, that the captain is a very short Pteri named Ron, and never ever to play checkers with Ron; Venn had no idea what the point of that last warning was, but he just had to take Lana's word for it.
When the time came for the voyage to take place, he headed down to the docks at Neopia Central. Captain Ron's ship was steam-powered, in a similar style to the kind that would have been used in Moltara, if there were water down there. He brought a suitcase filled with the few things he needed for his trip, while Lana had a bit more with her, so her adopted brother Art the skunk Bori helped her load everything on. The ship set off and Venn stared over the railing at the Neopia Central port as it slowly moved further and further away.
Venn wondered at what his owner and Hans were doing; perhaps they were just doing the usual stuff like making Neopoints, traveling, that sort of thing. Did they do these things in the same way they did before... or had their lifestyles changed drastically by his absence? He was roused from his deep thought by the sound of shouting. Behind him was a very short checkered Pteri, who must have been Captain Ron. Before Ron could say anything else, Venn quickly saluted, ran off to get a few cleaning supplies, and started swabbing the deck. Swabbing the deck was both easier and harder than that old Games Room game that was supposedly about it; there were no pirates chasing Venn, nor did he have to make every part of the deck a specific color, but it was definitely vastly more tiring. He probably had never before worked this hard in his entire life; how did the other sailors live like this?
In the afternoon he returned to his bunk, while Lana was already there. Lana's job was to maintenance the steam engine; a generally easier job in a way, but still in very uncomfortable conditions due to the extreme heat of the engine room. Several days passed like this as they traveled over the seemingly endless ocean. Venn missed his family and his life back at home, but now there was no turning back.
To be continued…