Befriending Boochi: Part One
Dusk was falling in Neopia. In Neopia Central, Draikessa placed the pile of books she had been carrying under the Money Tree. "There!" she said with a smile. "I'm sure these books will now be enjoyed by someone else. Hopefully they'll love reading them as much as I did!"
Her friend Kayennah, a Pirate Krawk, shook her head incredulously. "Seriously, Draikessa," she said. "I told you you should have sold them! You'd make loads of neopoints from those."
Draikessa laughed. "I've already had my money's worth out of them. They were fantastic to read. I'm more than happy to donate them. Not everyone can afford books like these, you know."
Kayennah rolled her eyes. "That's typical of you! Always being altruistic! Always thinking of other people!"
Draikessa shrugged happily. "There's nothing wrong with being kind." She poked her friend playfully. "I'd rather be kind than be an old meanie like you, Kayennah!"
The Krawk sniffed, pretending to take offense. "I'm not mean," she replied. "I'm just more knowledgeable about life than you are. I've been around a lot longer than you have. I'm not as naive as you are."
Draikessa was about to reply, when a Snow Pteri swooped down from the dusky Neopian sky and plucked one of Draikessa's books from under the Money Tree, before soaring upwards again. "I hope you enjoy the book!" Draikessa called out. The Pteri waved a wing at the two Neopet friends as a thank you.
"Well, that's your good deed done for the day, oh kind, naive one!" Kayennah snickered. She looked at the darkening sky. "We better be getting back before nightfall. It's not good to be ..."
She was interrupted by a soft cry-like sound.
"Ssshhh!" Draikessa whispered. "Did you hear that?"
They both listened intently and sure enough the cry came again, this time more plaintively than the last.
"Maybe it's a Kadoatie, escaped from the Kadoatery in the Plaza," suggested Draikessa. "We should go help it."
Kayennah shook her head. "Ugh! No way. I'm not helping one of those pesky creatures. Besides, it's getting dark and we really need to head home." But the crying was getting louder now, and Kayennah sighed with defeat as she realised her kind friend would never leave a creature in distress without trying to offer help first.
With Draikessa leading the way, they both circled round the money tree, following the sound of the crying until there behind the Petpet Shop, they found a small ball of pink fur with a bright red bow attached.
"Oh!" Draikessa exclaimed. "It's a Baby Bruce! Awww, how cute. Kayennah, he must be lost. He shouldn't be out at this time. We'll have to help him! Hello, little Bruce, are you lost? Where's your owner?"
Draikessa started to kneel down to reach out to the tiny Neopet, just as the Bruce turned round to face them, and suddenly Draikessa felt herself being yanked back up, and dragged away from the crying creature. "Kayennah!" she cried out.
Kayennah had gone visibly pale and her pirate hook shook as she held on to her friend. "We have to go. Now!" She whispered urgently. "That isn't some cute, innocent Baby Bruce needing our help. That's Boochi!"
"Shush! He'll hear you!"
"You know this Baby neopet?" Draikessa was confused.
"Everyone knows Boochi!" Kayennah was trying hard not to sound hysterical. "Quick, let's go! He's evil!"
Draikessa laughed out loud. "Oh, what nonsense! He's just a harmless Baby Bruce!" She freed herself from her friend's grasp and knelt down besides the wailing Bruce. "Boochi?" she said softly. "Is that your name? Can we help you?"
The Baby Bruce nodded, sniffing. Draikessa offered him a warm smile and he smiled back, his sobs subsiding. "Boochi," he gurgled. "Boochi."
"Well aren't you the cutest! Boochi, we're your friends. I'm Draikessa, and this is Kayennah. We can help you."
Kayennah was keeping her distance. "I'm not his friend," she muttered under her breath. "And the only person I'm helping here is myself. Draikessa!" she said loudly. "We're leaving now. You may not have heard the horror stories, but I have. Like I said, I've been around here a lot longer than you have. I'm a Pirate Krawk! I can't risk it! Draikessa, you're an Eventide Draik! Our owners will be heartbroken if anything happens to us!"
To Kayennah's horror, Draikessa reached out and was patting Boochi on his head.
"Don't touch him!" Kayennah shrieked shrilly. "Oh! It's going to happen! Oh, Fyora help us all!"
Draikessa was shocked and she looked at her crossly at her friend, who was leaping around in a mad panic. "Will you calm down? You'll hurt his feelings!"
As if on cue, Boochi started crying again.
"Take no notice," Draikessa told the crying Bruce. "I have no idea what has gotten into her. Boochi, can you show me where you live? We can take you home. Your owner will be so worried about you."
Boochi nodded his head, and Draikessa scooped him up into her arms. "Oh, let's not forget your little toy," she said, seeing a what looked like a toy ray gun in the grass. She picked up Boochi's toy, gave it to him, and he hugged it tightly. "Now, Boochi, do you think you can point the way? Kayennah, come on, let's go."
Draikessa looked around for her friend, but the Krawk was nowhere to be seen.
* * * *
The next morning, before the sun was high in the sky, Draikessa was up, dressed, and knocking on her friend's door at her nearby neohome. She was still quite cross at how Kayennah had just left her, but more than that, she was confused at her friend's rude behaviour. Yes, Kayennah could be abrupt sometimes and occasionally she put her own needs before those of others, but Draikessa had never seen her react to anything in the manner she did the previous evening.
Kayennah opened the door and gasped in shock. "Draikessa!" she exclaimed. "It's you! You haven't changed!"
"Of course it's me! Of course I haven't changed!"
"Is he here?" Kayennah glanced around, her face creased with worry.
"Who? Boochi? No, I got him home safely last night, no thanks to you, might I add." Draikessa held her arms up in confusion. "Are you even going to explain what happened to you yesterday?"
Kayennah glanced around again, frantically, making sure Boochi was nowhere to be seen, before taking her friend inside. "I don't want him to know where I live!" The pair sat down at the kitchen table. "I can't believe you haven't heard the tales about Boochi!" Kayennah cried. "I can't believe you're safe! I can't believe I left you like that. I'm such a bad friend, but I was so scared and you wouldn't listen to me. I couldn't sleep at all last night because I was certain Boochi had done something terrible to you!"
Draikessa raised her eyebrows. "Really, Kayennah?" she said calmly. "He's a teeny tiny Baby Bruce. What in Neopia do you think he was going to do to me?"
Kayennah took a deep breath. "He turns Neopians in to Baby Neopets! You can just be strolling along one day enjoying life as a Pirate Krawk or an Eventide Draik then bam! Boochi appears and zap! You're a Baby neopet! Has your owner never warned you about him?"
Draikessa couldn't help but laugh. "And this has happened to Neopians you know, has it?"
"Well, no, none that I know personally. But it has happened! It's been going on for years! Everyone knows that if you see Boochi you have to run and run fast! He wants to turn the entire Neopian population in to Baby neopets! I don't know why, but I do know how! He has a ray gun!"
Draikessa remembered the toy gun she had picked up from the ground last night. "But that's just a toy!" she scoffed. "I don't think there's any truth to this at all."
Kayennah left the room then reappeared holding a large book. "See? The Big Book of Boochi," she said handing the book to Draikessa. "This book will explain it to you. It even lists all of Boochi's victims."
Skeptically, Draikessa flicked through the many pages of the book. "But there are so many names in here!"
"You had a very lucky escape. I was certain the next edition they printed of this book would include your name!"
Draikessa frowned. "But this book doesn't explain why."
"No one knows why," her friend told her. "But there's one thing we do know - Boochi is evil. Neopians live in fear of encountering him, me included, and with good reason!"
"Maybe he just wants some friends," Draikessa speculated. "You don't know that there's evil behind all this. Boochi could just be lonely. He seemed really upset last night."
Kayennah couldn't believe what she was hearing. "You really cannot be that naive, Draikessa!"
Draikessa closed the book with a determined slam. "I'm going to get to the bottom of this," she announced. "I think Boochi needs our help. I told him I would help him, and that's what we're going to do. I know where Boochi lives. We can go over there right now!"
Kayennah felt like crying. She had a very, very bad feeling about this. All her life her owner had warned her about the dangers of being targetted by Boochi and how she must always be on high alert and avoid an encounter with him at all costs. And now she and her friend were actively going to seek him out? This was a nightmare just waiting to happen ...
To be continued…