A Pirate No Longer
Due smiled brightly as she pulled the fresh loaf of bread out of the oven. While she had always been an amazing cake decorator, the jelly usul felt that she needed to perfect her ability to cook bread to advance in the bakery. She spun away from the oven and so that she was facing the kitchen table. Just as she was about to call out for her sisters to come and try the fresh, warm bread, she let out a yelp of surprise.
At the table, there was an unfamiliar xweetok. The xweetok’s forehead was flat against the table, so all Due could see was an adorable grey outfit and shining blonde hair underneath a grey hat. Just as Due was about to gently ask why a stranger was in her kitchen, the xweetok spoke.
“Money’s going to be tight.” The voice was unusually raspy and gruff, but Due knew instantly that it was her sister. Due took a deep breath and sat down at the table. She gently placed the loaf of bread in the center of the table and looked down at her paws.
There was an awkward silence. Due knew what she always said, but at the same time, she had a feeling that it was the last thing Sue wanted to hear. After Sue had promised their owner to always care for her sisters, she felt an intense need to always provide more than they could ever want. Though Sue rarely showed it in her typical worn down state, Due knew that her sister was verbose and loved nothing more than to be listened to. She settled with what she thought was the best option and gently asked, “What happened to your clothes?”
“I’m not a pirate anymore,” Sue looked up at Due, “I never was a pirate.”
Due blinked in confusion. Not at pirate xweetok’s insistence that she was no longer a pirate, but at the fact that her sister’s grey fur was shining and well groomed and her eyes were bright with white sclera. She was used to the matted mess with bloodshot eyes that usually plopped her head down onto the kitchen table, not a well groomed socialite in a pretty grey dress.
Sue took a deep breath. “Are you wondering why I look like I’ve slept?” Before Due could even nod, Sue continued on, “I look like I’ve slept because I have. Do you remember the last time you had seen me?”
“It was a really long time . . . maybe a month?” Due sighed, “We were worried about you, Sue.”
Sue nodded slightly. She looked up at the ceiling and gestured towards it, “I was up there, Due. I was so tired and so upset, I went to the Mystery Island branch of the Neolodge and asked them, ‘Where can I go where no one will hear me scream?’ And just like that, they picked up a Virtupets communication device and a few minutes later, I was on a space shuttle taking me to the Virtupets Station. And I went into the room I paid way too much for and I screamed. I screamed until my voice hurt and I screamed until I had no tears left in me. I got taken to the sick bay for dehydration, Due. I was so upset I cried until I had to go to the sick bay for dehydration.”
“But why, Sue?” Due asked, her jelly paw covering her mouth, “Why would you be so upset?”
“Twenty-four hours, Due,” Sue sighed, “Do you know what takes twenty-four hours?”
Due’s eyes widened in horror. Of course she had been the dutiful eldest sister and researched the school where Sue was training. She knew that eventually her sister would have courses that lasted twenty-four hours, but she didn’t think it would be that intense. Threelegs was lenient and would always let her leave her course in the middle of it to go bet on the food club, so she assumed the Mystery Island school would be similar.
“The Techo Master screams at us when we’re tired,” Sue pulled the Dr. Sloth’s Personal Bath Buddy off of her belt and hugged it close to her as if it were a faerie doll. She brought it to her face and gazed into its painted eyes and whispered to it, “But he doesn’t yell at me because I have a lot of practice not being tired.”
Due sighed. She knew exactly how dire the situation was the moment that her sister used any sort of toy as a kind of friend. Sue was gregarious. She made friends easily and always made an effort to be the life of the party. When she was still studying on Krawk Island, she had plenty of friends. There had even been a point when Puffo asked her to take his place in the food club for a day. Due whispered softly, “Sue . . . Are they mean to you?”
Sue turned the bath buddy towards Due. She slowly turned the toy back and forth as if it was shaking its head. “They have no personalities,” Sue sighed, “It’s nothing but train, train, train!” She hugged the bath buddy close to her again, “I made some friends at first. There were nice neopets who I’d eat lunch with. But the more time it took and the more expensive it got, they all dropped out. Now it’s just boring neopets who only want to get strong. But the Techo Master likes that. He tells us that every time a weakling gets into the Ninja Academy, he gets in a lot of trouble. So he makes it hard on us on purpose. So we show up, we train, we meditate, we train, we meditate, if he catches us sleeping during meditation, we get hit.”
Due simply pressed her head against the kitchen table. Sue sighed and whispered, “Yeah.”
There was silence as Sue reached for the bread and broke off a piece. She took a small bite and stared at the wall.
Due looked up at Sue and sighed, “Are you going to quit?”
Sue shook her head. Due grabbed a piece of the bread and sighed.
“If I quit, I’d be an idiot,” Sue stood up, “But money is going to be tight.”
A wave of relief came over Due as she realized she could finally say what she always said. “Sue . . . We don’t need more neopoints. I play the stock market, I have a job, and I let little Mara go all over Neopia picking up free food. We aren’t fancy neopets, Sue. If we want something, we can buy it using the neopoints I earn.”
Sue sighed softly. She looked down at the table before announcing, “I’ll work hard and train constantly. This will all be over in a month or two.”
Due threw the bread in her hand down as she jumped up and raised her generally soft and demure voice slightly, “We need you, Sue. We miss you, Sue. You will take breaks to spend time with us!”
Sue blinked in shock. “But if I take breaks, money will be tight for longer.”
“We don’t care!” Due sighed, “You may be sad because you won’t be able to afford any new weapons, but we’re happy with what we have. Your sisters and I won’t ever want to be painted, so there’s no worry about that. We’re happy with our current species, and we don’t want to collect stamps or fight in the battledome. We don’t need expensive things, but we do need you. How do you think we open jars when you’re not here?! Jelly paws aren’t meant to be used for things like that!”
“You mean Karamita is jelly too?” Sue sat back down at the table. “I’ve been gone for so long, I didn’t even know my sister was a jelly acara?”
“She’s a cybunny now!” Due sighed, “You see why we need you here? If you saw your own sister on the street, you wouldn’t even know it was her. I’m alright with you taking vacations in space, but I want you to spend time here with us.”
Sue smiled softly. She hopped out of the chair and pulled Due into a hug. Sue giggled slightly, “You know . . . If I’m taking breaks from training, I can play food club and battle and I’ll be making plenty of neopoints.”
Due laughed, “Yeah, Sue, you’ll be making good neopoints for me and our sisters.” She pulled away from the hug and patted the top of Sue’s hat, “You’re a good sister, Sue. We just need to see more of you. Now . . . Are you going to keep dressing like this?”
“Of course!” Sue laughed, “I thought I was happy dressing in all red and trying to be tough. But in reality . . . I don’t want to be a pirate. I just want to be a good sister.”
Due smiled softly, “You know, I don’t think I’ve seen you this well rested in a long time. I think our sisters are at the petpet store pretending to look for petpets . . . I think they’d like a fun day of adventure with their big sister.”
“I’d like that too,” Sue smiled brightly, “I’d like that too.”