Sanity is forbidden Circulation: 194,305,201 Issue: 758 | 18th day of Storing, Y18
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Befriending Boochi: Part Two

by tallydepp


      For the past three days, Draikessa the Eventide Draik and her friend Kayennah the Pirate Krawk had spent the majority of their time seeking out the Baby Bruce known as Boochi. Draikessa was determined to discover if there was any truth behind the myth that Boochi randomly zapped Neopians in Baby neopets, and if so, why? After a chance encounter with a sobbing Boochi three days earlier (an encounter in which had NOT resulted in anyone being zapped Baby, Draikessa regularly reminded her friend), Draikessa was convinced that the Boochi myth was just that: a myth; or that Boochi actually need their help. And being the kind, altruistic Neopian that she was, Draikessa saw herself as just the person to help the poor Baby Bruce.

      Kayennah, however, felt very much differently. She whole-heartedly believed the myth to be true, and while Draikessa was growing increasingly frustrated at no further sightings of Boochi, Kayennah was becoming increasingly relieved that the Baby Bruce seemed to have vanished.

      "I think we've tried our hardest to find him and to no avail," Kayennah said, rather cheerfully. "Oh well. Nevermind."

      "I'm not giving up!" Draikessa knocked once more on the door of a deserted-looking neohome. "This is where I brought him the other evening. Boochi said he lived here." No lights were on and all the drapes were closed. The garden looked overgrown and very much neglected, and even Draikessa was starting to doubt that anyone actually lived here.

      Kayennah snorted. "I don't think Boochi actually SAID he lived here, did he? He's a baby, and Baby neopets can't talk, can they?"

      "He pointed the way to me. I dropped him off here."

      "Did you go inside? Did you meet his owner?"

      Draikessa felt herself blushing. "Well, no," she conceded. In fact, thinking about it, Boochi himself hadn't gone inside. He'd merely gurgled happily as she set him down at the door with his little toy ray gun clutched in his little hands, and he'd waved goodbye as she'd turned to leave. Draikessa felt like kicking herself. Why oh why hadn't she insisted on taking the tiny Neopian inside, or least waited until she knew he was safely indoors? A terrible thought struck her. "Maybe something bad has happened to him!" she cried.

      Kayennah snorted again. "More likely something bad has happened to someone else, because Boochi has zapped them with his gun! Well, there's no point in us hanging around here, tempting fate and all that. I think we should go home."

      Draikessa looked crest-fallen. "Perhaps you're right," she began sadly, then stopped suddenly. "Did you hear that?"

      "No!" Kayennah answered quickly. "I didn't hear anything! Time to go!" But Kayennah's legs had turned to jelly, almost. Of course she'd heard it. A playful little giggle that could only be ...

      Boochi had appeared from out of nowhere, all fluffy pink fur, and bright red bow, and - "Oh no!" groaned Kayennah - a plastic toy-like ray gun that Kayennah knew was anything but toy-like. She closed her eyes, waiting for the inevitable Zap! But rather than a Zap! what she heard was more delighted giggling, and when she dared open her eyes, albeit half-way, what she saw was her friend hugging the evil Baby Bruce and showering him with affection in which the evil Baby Bruce

      seemed to be revelling. "Okayyyy," Kayennah said slowly. "You found him, he's fine, let's go!"

      But Draikessa clearly wasn't going anywhere. She settled down on the overgrown grass with Boochi. "We've looked everywhere for you, Boochi," she said. "We're friends, right?"

      Boochi nodded happily.

      "You won't hurt us, will you, Boochi?"

      Boochi shook his head, no.

      "Is it true, Boochi," Draikessa asked gently, "that you can turn Neopians into Baby neopets? Is that what you do? With this?" She picked up the plastic ray gun. On closer inspection, Draikessa saw that it looked extremely complicated for a toy.

      Boochi nodded his head sadly, and Kayennah felt her legs wobble, and even Draikessa seemed to falter.

      "Are you lonely, Boochi? Is that why? Do you feel sad?"

      Boochi began to wail.

      Draikessa handed the ray gun to Kayennah. "Just to be safe," she whispered, with a nervous smile.

      Kayennah felt like crying. She was holding the dreaded Baby zapping ray gun! She pointed it at Boochi. "Don't do anything!" she cried. "I mean it! I'll zap you!"

      Draikessa raised her eyebrows. "You'll zap a Baby Bruce into ... a Baby Bruce? That's quite a threat."

      "Well, I don't know, do I?" Kayennah squealed. "I'm scared! I'm armed and dangerous! I don't want to be armed and dangerous!" The Krawk's hands were clammy and shaking, and she felt incredibly faint. Before she realised what she was doing, she pressed on the large green trigger.


      There was a blinding flash of light and a large cloud of smoke filled the air.

      "What have I done?" wailed Kayennah.

      "What have you done?" echoed Draikessa.

      The light and the smoke having dispersed, there now stood in place of the Baby Bruce a larger Bruce all together. An ordinary Blue Bruce in fact.

      "Boochi?" Draikessa said incredulously. "Is that you?"

      Kayennah looked at the Bruce then at the ray gun, then peered at the Bruce again. "It works in reverse," she muttered. "Fancy Fyora, it works in reverse!"

      The Blue Bruce cleared his throat. "It's a miracle," he said full of wonder. "Look at me, I'm not Baby anymore." He looked at Kayennah. "I can't thank you enough! I had no idea it could do that! For most of my seventeen years in Neopia, I've been a Baby neopet, and now I'm back to who I used to be!" He turned to Draikessa. "It's all because of your kindness! You've saved me!"

      Draikessa grinned happily. "I knew there'd be a way we could help you! I knew you weren't evil, Boochi! Can you explain what happened in the first place? How did all this begin?"

      Boochi nodded eagerly. "For years, I've been wanting to tell my tale," he said. "Now I finally can!"


* * * *

      In the Neopian cafe, over mugs of steaming borovan, Boochi the Blue Bruce finally got to tell the tale of how years ago, as a very young Neopian he had stumbled across several map pieces which, when put together, had revealed the location of a secret laboratory. Full of curiosity, Boochi had visited the secret laboratory, where a mad lab ray scientist was working on developing a machine which could change the colour of any Neopian brave enough to stand under its magical rays.

      "Now you must remember," Boochi explained to his enraptured listeners Draikessa and Kayennah, as he told his tale, "the lab ray was in its very early stages and I was very much a lab rat, a test rat, if you like. Neither I nor the scientist knew exactly what was going to happen, if anything at all! But I was young and foolish, and I'd seen more exciting looking Neopians on the streets of Neopia, all painted grand colours with expensive paint brushes. I was poor. I had no way of affording such a paint brush. So I was more than willing to try this experiment. I was bored of being a plain old Blue Bruce, and yes, I was vain. And my vanity cost me dearly, my friends."

      Draikessa offered a sympathetic smile. "I think we've all been guilty of being vain," she said, thinking of the times she herself had stood before a mirror admiring her Eventide colouring. "Do go on," she urged."

      "I had with me my toy gun - I was young, after all," Boochi continued. "We thought nothing of it, the scientist and I, as I stood under the ray with my gun. With the very first zap of the new machine, I became a Baby Bruce. The mad scientist was delighted! His machine had worked! I however was less pleased, but I had no way of communicating this, because all my ability to communicate had gone! I could no longer talk! Later that day, I saw a Red Ixi and I playfully zapped my toy gun at him and to my horror, the Red Ixi turned into a Baby Ixi. Somehow, the lab ray had made my gun capable of zapping Neopians into Baby neopets. I rushed back to the laboratory to show the scientist what had happened. Unfortunately, because I could no longer talk, I had to zap another Neopian so the scientist could see for himself what my gun was now

      capable of."

      Kayennah frowned. "Wait a minute," she interrupted. "That can't be right. The lab ray can change Neopians into many colours, but Baby isn't one of them!" She narrowed her eyes suspiciously at Boochi. "You can only become a Baby neopet if you use a Baby paint brush!"

      Boochi nodded. "That's correct. NOW," he stressed. "I think the scientist was so alarmed at having created a Baby ray gun and so fearful of the entire population of Neopia becoming Baby, that he did something to his machine to stop it from ever zapping anyone into a Baby neopet again. I was the one and only. At first, it was great fun being a Baby Bruce," Boochi recalled. "Everyone loved me, they all thought I was cute! But the novelty soon wore off, and it was so frustrating not being able to talk to other Neopians properly. And I got incredibly lonely. There were other Baby Neopets of course, but they all had owners who looked after them so they were never allowed out to play on their own, and they went to bed early. Being a boring Blue Bruce, my owner had long ago abandoned me in the pound in favour of the more excitingly painted Neopians, so I had no one to look after me. To remedy this, I began zapping random Neopians with my ray gun, usually the more expensively painted pets, in the hope they'd be my friend. But before long everyone in Neopia started to fear me and I was lonelier than ever."

      "That must have been so awful for you!" Draikessa said softly.

      "Not as awful as it must have been for the poor owners who found their beautiful pets turned into babies!" Kayennah muttered.

      Boochi shrugged. "I'm not proud of myself. And it wasn't all bad! Some owners were actually grateful! Baby neopets are the cutest things!"

      Kayennah grimaced.

      "Nothing I did had any malicious intent behind it," Boochi explained. "You've got to believe me."

      Draikessa nodded emphatically. "Oh we do, Boochi! We do believe you."

      "Do we?" Kayennah thought to herself. Draikessa might have fallen hook, line and sinker for Boochi's story, but Kayennah was not as naive or trusting as her friend. For years Neopians had speculated about the story behind Boochi and several theories had been formulated. How come the mad scientist from the lab ray had never come foward and said anything? Kayennah wondered. If Boochi's story was true, and the scientist was so afraid of all Neopian being turned Baby, so much so that he somehow managed to stop his lab ray machine turning Neopians into Baby neopets, how come the scientist hadn't tried to take the ray gun from Boochi? If Boochi had been so lonely, how come he himself hadn't visited the lab ray to become a different painted pet?

      No, thought Kayennah, something here wasn't quite right ...

      To be continued…

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