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Pet Name: FatalDoom
“Right then,” the Korbat said, in a low, bored drawl, “let's get this thing over and done with.”
The interviewer – an old tuskainny with horn-rimmed spectacles and liver spots all over his head – pursed his lips in distaste. This arrogant young whipper-snapper was one of many pets he had seen today, and his attitude was by far the worst. He had slumped into the room, lounged on the couch without a hint of etiquette, and clearly had no interest in this highly prestigious award.
The korbat was a wiry looking thing, moss green, with slanted black slits for eyes and a scaly, rat-like tail. A mutant no doubt, but the interviewer had been taught not to prejudice by colour. Some of the brighest souls he knew were grey, and some of the most interesting were just plain green. However, he already disliked this korbat. Him? He thought to himself angrily, win the pet spotlight? Never!
Still, the tuskainny was not the sort to shirk his duties, so he went ahead with the job at...uh, flipper.
“So...FatalDoom, was it?” He asked the korbat civilly.
“Yeah, that's the one. Call my 'Tal', though, everyone does. FatalDoom's a bit...gnarly. I mean, isn't all doom fatal? Hah. That's my last owner for ye'.”
The Tuskainny looked up briefly, and adjusted his glasses. It was always surprising when such spoiled neopets – the tuskainny had overheard Tal yelling at his rather disgruntled owner for buying eyeball pasta again earlier - came from the pound. It normally instilled some ssense of gratitude in the pet.
“Your last owner?” The tuskainny motioned for the korbat to continue.
“Yeah. I haven't always lived with ol' Sharkie – I used to belong to this bloke. He got me as a cute liddle lupe, all green and innocent.” he closed his eyes, as if remembering. “I was so [i]excited[/i]. I thought that my life would just be all happily ever after, once I got an owner. It wasn't really, though.”
“Ah? Why not?”
“Well, he wanted a fighter, this bloke. He was nice to me. He cared for me. He already had two pets – a grarrl, and a skieth. They were pretty menacing, let me tell you, and so much [i]bigger[/i] than me! I knew right away I wanted to get strong, and big too! I wanted to be able to challenge them!
“The problem was, I wasn't a natural fighter. My owner trained me up - he spent thousands of neopets on codestones and dubloons and weapons – but when push came to shove, I wasn't very good. My first opponent was a Jetsam, and he wiped the floor with me!” Tal slammed his fist down on the arm of the chair. “Then, my owner turned on me. He hated me for my weakness, and I did too.
I knew, from that moment on, that I wanted to be bigger, stronger, better. I even convinced my owner to paint me halloween! Boy, you should've seen my muscles! He was finally proud of me!”
The tuskainny, who had been listening intently, leaned closer.
“And then?” he asked anxiously.
“Then I battled. Won some, but lost some too – and my trainer always shouted after those, and hit me too, if he was really angry. When I won, I was fed, and healed, and played with. If I lost...well...
“I kind of realised something then. My life was...like, empty. It was cold. My trainer only wanted me for my strength. It was disheartening – so I ran away.” The korbat's voice lowered, his ears flicking back against his skull.
“I ended up at the pound, where most pets do, and ol' Sharkie adopted me. She was this dithering, skatty young girl, and I think she loved me instantly. I never... had to prove myself... ever again.”
Here, Tal paused, as if drawing strength from that memory. When he looked up, the arrogant glint was back in his eye again. “'Course, if I ever needed too, I could, no problemo! These days, I can kick serious butt!”
The tuskainny felt himself smile. The korbat's behavior suddenly made sense.
“So how did you become a korbat, Tal?” the tuskainny urged.
“Hold on, old man, I'm getting there! Sharkie bought herself a lab ray, as soon as she came into some money. I went along with her occasionally – zap zap zap, and suddenly a chia was a lupe! It was amazing! Pretty soon, I was longing to try.
“At first, I just changed colour – first to fairy, which was gross, and then to mutant! It was really cool. I felt pretty ferocious. Then, I changed species – first to techo, then to kyrii, then scorchio, and finally – grarrl! It was amazing. I was vicious! [i]Dangerous![/i] But.. it didn't feel right. Sharkie didn't mind – she loved me no matter what I looked like, and treated me like a baby usul even though I had teeth the size of her head. Though... something didn't seem right. I just [i]couldn't[/i] work it out.”
The interviewer smiled slightly. Tal's rough demeanour had faltered again, his voice becoming stony.
“That is, of course, until I took a walk with Sharkie in Haunted Woods one morning. We were jumped on our way home, by good-for-nothing bandits! There were so many, I didn't stand a chance – I tried to fight, but they knocked me out. When I awoke, all our money and items were gone, and Sharkie was badly hurt – almost feverish. She looked so ill, I didn't dare move her, or leave her to get help, either. I was suddenly so scared for her. I stood up and looked around, finding I could barely move. My leg was badly injured and my head pounded. The woods were inky black. I caught sight of shadows in the corner of my eye; they sniggered and sneered, and was suddenly filled with such awful [i]fear[/i].
“'Help', I called desperately, 'somebody help us!' A tiny voice replied. 'I'll help,' it said, and out of the darkness stepped a measly korbat. She looked so weak, but I was desperate. 'Get me some help,' I begged her, and she flitted off into the darkness. I didn't think she'd come back, and as Sharkie's condition worsened, I got more worried. [i]She is so small,[/i] I thought, [i]she'll never be able to help![/i] I should have had more confidence in her, though. Sure enough, she returned with a healing potion. “'There y'go, sir!' she squeaked, 'take good care of your trainer!' Then she curtsied, and left me and Sharkie alone.
“Watching her go, so small and frail against the night, I felt something powerful. She was a real fighter. A real hero, too. She was so strong, but in a way other neopets weren't – she was courageous, and valiant, and kind. I healed myself and carried Sharkie home.
“When she recovered, I leant closer and whispered something in her ear.
'I know what pet I want to be.'
'A korbat,' I whispered, and within the hour, I was flying on blue wings.”
The tuskainny smiled.
“A fascinating tale, Tal. You may leave now.”
“Yeah, yeah, was nothing really.”
He beat his wings, launched himself into the air, and glided out of the door.
The tuskainny watched him go, sighing.
[i]I guess acting tough is a hard habit to drop,[/i] he thought to himself, [i]even if you no longer have to prove it to yourself.[/i]
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