The World We Won
Masses of Neopians huddled in the streets; some fearful, some bitter and resigned. Some petpets stayed close to their owners, snapping at the pink beasts which kept the groups in line, others stuck close to their owners for some sort of comfort. Around the group, dozens of Meepits in all sorts of colors herded the Neopians into small groups, their expressions dull and exhausted, many longing to return to the luxury of a quiet Neohome and the comforting yet boring discussion of evil plots that seemed too ridiculous to ever pass. Who would have thought that the Meepits would have won?
(Whoever called ruling the world glamorous is a liar.)
The invasion had happened so fast, it almost felt like a dream - the kind that's disjointed, and leave you only half-remembering shadowy visions and bright lights. It started with a call to unite, swaying other petpets who felt mistreated or neglected to a united cause. They had to keep it subtle; they couldn't have had the Sway find out about their plan, not after the last time. They started by discreetly disposing of any great leaders they could, as fast as possible before anyone found out. By the time they had managed to finally track down capture the Duchess, Neopia had fallen into panic with no one to lead them.
It's surprisingly easy to take charge over a world of hysterics, but far harder to keep order. No one kept track of who fell in the first few days. Most petpets who joined the cause of the Meepits defected back to their Neopet owners, whether it be due to regret, fear, or a simple desire to avoid the blame. But eventually, things were sorted out somewhat, and most of the fiercest rebels had been put out of commission. Yes, the Meepits had won, and now ruled over Neopia with iron paws.
So... why weren't they happy?
Within a somewhat worn-down home in Neopia Central, a Jelly Meepit practically squished her face against the slightly cracked glass of the window, internally thanking herself for not signing up for the Meepit-Neopian Order Unit. Behind her, a Starry Meepit rummaged through a toppled drawer, stressed as could be.
"You're not going to find anything worthwhile in there, you know." the Jelly Meepit called over, turning away from the somewhat depressing scene outside. "The Neopet who lived here would've more than likely taken anything worthwhile, and this house already looks like it was hit by raiders more than once."
The Starry Meepit snarled in disdain, the stars adorning his fur flashing dimly to accentuate his annoyance. "I'm not looking for Neopoints, idiot! Checking all the houses is important!" He tossed a shoddy plastic necklace made to look like pearls over his shoulder, very nearly hitting the Jelly Meepit in the head. "Julara, our lives and job could be on the line!"
She rolled her round, glassy eyes, picking the cheap necklace off the ground and twirling it around her paw. "You're too paranoid, Midnyte. This is a regular Neohome - whoever lived here couldn't have been a member of the Sway, or an agent of Dr. Sloth, or whatever it is you're scared they could've been. Besides, the house is empty. It's not like they'd be able to do anything with something left behind."
A few uncomfortably silent minutes passed before he slammed the drawer shut in agitation, ears back against his head. "Fine. You were right. But if you don't start doing your Fyora-forsaken job, you're probably gonna get fired. Or maybe 'promoted' to a member of the MNOU." He spelled out the acronym slowly and agonizingly out loud with such vitriol in his voice that he could have been confused for a rebelling Neopet lamenting the world's state.
"Our job is useless." Julara stated matter-of-factly. "We won, the Neopians' spirits seem irreversibly broken, any other conquerors-to-be are missing in action, the Sway's been neutralized by the capture of their leader... Face it, we're just here to keep all the other Meepits feeling secure about a threat that doesn't exist."
(For all our strength and our seemingly cushy new position, we look an awful lot like we're still cowering in fear.)
Midnyte clenched his paws, stars glowing brightly enough that they almost looked as if they should have been giving off steam. "You say that, but you don't KNOW! You don't-" He was interrupted by the sound of a sharp rapping on the door.
"I'll get it." Julara said, almost jokingly. Pulling the door open, she was face to face with an exhausted Fairy Meepit tightly clutching a satchel of letters.
He held out two for Julara and Midnyte, gasping for breath. "For... for you two... directly from the higher-ups." His wings looked battered, and he was clearly winded. "You'd think there would be a better way of passing around messages considering we took over the planet..." he muttered under his breath.
Midnyte hastily nodded and yanked a letter out of the Fairy Meepit's paws, tearing it open. He looked over it, his eyes widening with surprise.
"To all Meepits and Neopets who have received this:
There is a meeting of grave importance scheduled in the next six hours. Head to the Haunted Woods, it will be held in what was once the Deserted Fairground. Do not ignore this letter, and do not arrive at the meeting without it.
Attendance is mandatory.
Signed, the Meepit Overlords."
Julara had read her letter as well, and she looked rather skeptical. "There wasn't any sort of word given out about some 'gravely important meeting' anytime before this. What coulda came up for something to be scheduled this hastily?!" She huffed. "It's probably going to be a huge waste of time for anyone who's not working one of the more glamorous jobs, anyway..."
"Don't blame me, I'm just the messenger," the Fairy Meepit called breathlessly as he dragged the heavy satchel of letters behind him, too weak to fly. "It seems important to me."
They scampered outside, dodging around the horde of corralled Neopets. They spotted a gathering of Neopets and Meepits heading in the direction of the Haunted Woods, many looking anxious or confused.
"There's our group." Julara said, running over to join them as Midnyte followed after.
Among them, Meepits and Neopets chattered to one another, some able to put aside their differences in light of their mutual confusion.
"Man, I didn't think we'd actually DO it," one Ghost Meepit drawled in the tongue of Neopets, looking emotionally drained. "I feel kinda sorry for you guys."
A Kyrii who looked to be forcing himself to be calm piped up. "What happened to Fyora, and King Skarl, and all those guys...?"
The Ghost Meepit looked down at the ground, deep in thought. "I... I don't know. I'm not high-enough ranked to know." She shuddered a little as she continued. "I don't think I want to know, anyway."
(Maybe we didn't really want to take over at all. At least, I didn't.)
The walk dragged on longer than anyone really wanted and everyone grew sick of idle banter, but they did reach the Haunted Woods eventually. It was swarming with Neopians trying to push and shove their way through to the fairground. When Julara and Midnyte got through, they were greeted with a surprisingly underwhelming sight.
The meeting place was comparable to a wooden shack constructed by blind Jubjubs, the wood so hastily nailed together that it seemed it had been put together in the hours it took to get there. Atop the roof of the shack stood a tired looking Purple Meepit stationed as a guard, and around crowded so many Neopets and Petpets that the difference between them all blurred until it was unrecognizable.
A lazy and pathetic fanfare sounded, a pre-recorded soundbite of some trumpets. The speaker quality was bad enough that it sounded like a broken trumpet screeching over the sound of crunching snow.
Murmurs and whispers were traded around the former fairground, by Neopets and Meepits alike.
"Surely these can't be the same conquerors who defeated Fyora herself, can they?"
"Is this the best our leaders can do?"
"Urgh, my ears hurt."
"I was called all the way out here for this?!"
"This has got to be a sick joke by one of the higher ups."
(Something about this felt like it was too easy. It's not right.)
Out from some fleur-de-lis print curtains nailed to the front of the shack stepped a Yellow Meepit with eyes that seemed lifeless, even by Meepit standards. His over-detailed clothing brought to mind a bargain bin in a fabric store, and no one in the crowd even recognized him.
He threw his arms to the air in an overdramatic way, calling as loud as his little lungs would allow to get everyone to pay attention. "To all of you, Neopets, Meepits, and other petpets alike! I, the new ultimate overlord of all of Neopia have called you hear today for an important announcement!"
At the words "ultimate overlord of all of Neopia", outrage broke out in the crowd. Some Meepits threatened bodily harm, others simply screamed at the injustice. The crowd seethed with anger and many of the Neopets tried to flee the mass of angry Meepits.
"This isn't fair!" Midnyte screamed. "We were promised that all of us Meepits were ruling together once things were under control! No one said anything about a monarchy!" In the dark of the Haunted Woods, piercing light emanated from the stars on his body, joining in a dozen indignant lights of others painted Starry, Glowing, or Ghost.
Julara narrowed her eyes, the gentle wiggle of her jelly body detracting a little bit from any attempt to be threatening. "I don't even KNOW this guy, since when was he our leader?!"
"Quiet, ALL of you!" the Yellow Meepit screeched, keeping a fierce gaze on anyone who continued to try and act up. The hypnotic stare likely wouldn't work from that distance, but merely the threat of using it was enough to keep many quiet. "Now, as I was SAYING... With my position, I will be instituting new rules and command over Neopia, first and foremost being the repurposing of the MNOU..."
Julara stopped listening, bitter curiosity for what was in the shack taking over common sense. It did seem awfully large for holding a single Meepit in... Making use of the chaos, she crept through the crowd, intending to sneak in and find out what was behind those curtains.
"What are you doing, Julara?" Midnyte hissed, catching on that she was trying to stay low.
She shushed him, even though he had tried to be quiet already. "I want to know what's in that shack. Come along, if you'd like."
He rolled his eyes, though he seemed genuinely terrified. "This sounds like a horrible idea that'll get us both killed." Yet, despite that complaint, he followed her anyway.
As she crawled beneath the curtain, the first thing she noticed was that it was very dark. The second thing she noticed is that it felt more crowded than it looked on the outside. Midnyte crawled in as well, looking over to her for guidance.
"Yeah, light it up." she whispered to him.
His stars began to glow, illuminating the wooden shack. Julara choked on her shock, coughing a little and stumbling away.
In front of them stood several Neopets in fancy clothing, the foremost of which being a Lenny in a long black dress, a Crokabek perched on her shoulder. Her cold smile chilled the Meepits to their very core.
"Hello." the Lenny simply said, her voice condescending. "Congratulations on being the first to find out."
Julara tried to scramble away, her jelly body getting caught and torn apart on the wooden floor in her haste. Midnyte was frozen in fear, staring up at the one looming over them as the other Neopets alongside her closed in on the two Meepits. The Duchess was never captured. There must have been an insurrection among the ranks of the Meepits - a cover-up, kept away from anyone who wasn't important.
"We were all played," he whispered before everything went black.
(A disoriented lot of fools like us... We'd never be able to rule over anything. Us Meepits are doomed.)