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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 21st day of Eating, Yr 26
The Neopian Times Week 40 > Short Stories > Rooruon Finds His Place

Rooruon Finds His Place

by tdyans

“Maybe she’ll bring home a Lenny,” Achilles81 mused, his curvy, cloud-colored Gelert ears standing up hopefully. “Someone to discuss fine literature with.”

“Nah,” MaxKanine said. “Tdyans likes Zafaras. I bet she brings home a nice quiet Zafara.” The Lupe’s humble green color was echoed in his preference for simplicity, as always.

“She likes Eyries too!” Moeioe piped in, hopping around the living room excitedly on his little Moehog hooves and flapping his Faerie wings. “A big, tough yrie that I can fly around with—that’s who it’ll be!”

The NeoHome of Tdyans’ pets had been buzzing with anticipation ever since the previous evening. Achilles81, MaxKanine, and Moeioe had first been tipped off to the fact that something was up when their owner had walked in the door with a cloud pizza, meaty Lupe treats, and chocolate Faerie cakes—all their favorite foods. The boys bolted down their special meal and then needled Tdyans until she told them the motive behind it. She had confessed that she’d been thinking about a fourth pet lately and had been walking the pound, keeping an eye out. That afternoon she’d found the Neopet that she knew was meant to be a part of their family, the same way she’d known when she first saw Maxi and then Moeioe sitting sadly behind bars. She was relieved once she had finished her narrative to find that Achi, Maxi, and Moeioe were more excited than anything over this news. It was a little strange to imagine a fourth pet, after all, but then they had been only two and only one before this, and now they couldn’t imagine their lives without each other.

So, with visions of their new brother floating through their heads, the three Neopets eagerly waited in the living room for Tdyans, who was on her way home with the new addition. All three jumped up excitedly when they heard Tdyans’ key turning in the front door, and they ran excitedly to the entry way. When the door finally swung open, all they saw at first was their owner. Tdyans smiled at their anxious expressions and said, “Guys, I’d like you to meet your new brother, Rooruon.” Then she glanced behind her and said, “Come on out Roory, it’s okay.”

Stepping out cautiously from behind her legs, the new Neopet appeared. Moeioe yelped and scurried behind MaxKanine. As for Max and Achilles, their muzzles simply fell open in shock at the sight that stood before them. Their horrified eyes traveled up from a striped serpentine tail ending in a tuft of fur, to glistening dark claws on oversized feet, to short, splotched ebony fur stretched over a bulky body. Finally they reached an equally dark face, framed by two odd and oversized ears. The creature’s attempt at a friendly smile revealed a snaggled pair of yellow buck teeth, and above its bulbous blue nose was the most frightening aspect of all—two shining crimson eyes.

Tdyans interrupted the uncomfortable silence that had fallen over the room by clearing her throat and lifting the bulgy, black Mutant Cybunny up into her arms. “Come on Roory,” she said, “I’ll take you upstairs and show you your new room.” She headed up the stairs with her heavy burden, leaving the other three Neopets with a pleading look.

When Tdyans came back downstairs a few minutes later, after tucking Rooruon into his new bed and trying to assure him that everything would be fine, she walked into the kitchen to find Achilles, Maxi, and Moeioe ready to talk. “I didn’t even know you liked Cybunnies, Tdyans,” Moeioe began uncertainly.

“Well,” she replied, “I don’t really, but Rooruon’s... different.”

“He certainly is,” Achilles muttered.

Before their owner could ask the Gelert what he had meant by that, MaxKanine broke in. “How did you even manage to find a Mutant Cybunny in the pound?”

“He wasn’t a Mutant when I found him. He wasn’t even a Cybunny. But he said he felt out of place as he was, and when he told me what he wanted to be, I agreed and got the transmogrification potion for him.”

“Wait,” Achilles exclaimed, “You’re saying he wanted to look like that, to be a mutant!? Now we know there’s something wrong with him.”

None of them had heard Rooruon’s thick claws clicking down the wooden staircase or noticed his scarlet eyes peering through a crack in the kitchen door. Thus, none of them saw his strange, floppy ears droop when he heard this. Not sure whether to regret that he had come downstairs and overheard what he had or be glad that at least he knew the truth about what his new brothers thought of him, the Mutant Cybunny turned away quickly and trudged back up the stairs, trying to hold back the tears that threatened to spill over in his eyes.

Still in the kitchen, Tdyans sighed, “You guys aren’t even giving him a chance. At least just try,” she pleaded, “For me?” Achilles, Max, and Moeioe hesitated, but eventually nodded their heads grudgingly. Tdyans took the small victory and told them all to get to bed as it was already late. She watched worriedly as the three pets headed out of the kitchen and up the stairs to their bedrooms, still trading glances and whispers with each other.

The next morning started out as usual in the Neopia Avenue NeoHome, with MaxKanine busily fixing breakfast at the stove, and Achilles reading the paper and Moeioe playing with his plushies while they waited for their food. They could almost convince themselves that the events of the night before had all been a strange dream until the kitchen door swung open once more and Rooruon stepped through. All three suppressed a slight shudder, but despite this reaction, it seemed that their shock at his appearance was beginning to wear off as they quickly readjusted to his presence.

Rooruon, for his part, shuffled timidly into his seat at the table, keeping his head down and avoiding the eyes of the others as their words from the night before echoed in his mind. He didn’t look up until Max suddenly set a plate in front of him. Rooruon sniffed at the warm green pepper omelette and watched as Achilles and Moeioe dug into theirs with gusto. “Is something wrong?” MaxKanine asked when Rooruon looked up at him and he noticed that the Cybunny had not touched his breakfast yet.

“No, it’s just—” Rooruon hesitated, not wanting to cause a problem. “Well, do you have anything with carrots in it?”

The normally friendly and placid Lupe’s face fell into an uncharacteristic frown.

“No,” he stated quietly. “I’m afraid we don’t have any carrots.” All that Max could think as he grudgingly watched the Mutant Cybunny poke uncertainly at his food was that every Zafara he’d ever met loved his cooking.

After breakfast, the Neopets headed off to different activities to while away the lazy spring day. Still upset over what he had taken as a criticism of his skills as a chef, Max retired to the solitude of his garden. Moeioe quickly headed out to the front yard, hoping to find some neighborhood playmates to make some mischief with. Achilles reclined on the old, worn couch in the living room with the latest book that he was reading. Rooruon, not accustomed to the routine of family life like the others, wandered around the house, trying to figure out where he was supposed to be and what he was supposed to do.

Walking behind the couch, he spotted Achilles, engrossed in his reading. Rooruon propped himself up on the back of the couch in order to look over the Gelert’s shoulder. “What’s that?” he asked, trying his best to sound friendly.

Achilles wrinkled his nose at the Cybunny, already annoyed over being interrupted. “It’s The Hunt for the Red Gelert,” he answered impatiently. Rooruon’s sable brow creased in confusion. Achilles sighed in expasperation, “It’s a book.” He was shocked when still no comprehension made its way to the Cybunny’s dark face. “Don’t tell me you don’t even know how to read!?”

Rooruon’s ears drooped. He suspected from the Gelert’s tone that he’d done something wrong again. At this response, Achilles gave a disgusted, “Hmph!” and turned back to his book, ignoring Rooruon’s presence completely. Dejected, Rooruon headed up the stairs to the safety of his bedroom.

He laid on his bed sniffling until the shadows began to lengthen over the neighborhood with the approach of evening. His long ears perked up a little at the sound of the front door slamming open and closed downstairs and Achilles shouting to Moeioe to wash his hooves before dinner. Following the sound of the little Moehog’s hooves, Rooruon watched through the half-open door of his bedroom as Moeioe crested the stairs with his Faerie Hornsby Gil fluttering behind him. As Moeioe walked past Rooruon’s doorway, Gil floated inside and landed on the bed where the Mutant Cybunny was sprawled on his stomach. As the tiny Petpet sniffed curiously at this newcomer, Moeioe called out, “Gil, come back here!” He followed Gil into Rooruon’s room, but hesitated in the doorway, staring at his new brother for a few moments before he walked slowly inside and propped his front hooves up on the bed so that he and Rooruon were snout to nose.

Rooruon stayed still and quiet, not wanting to do anything to frighten the little Moehog off. Finally, Moeioe spoke. “Hello.”

Rooruon’s blue nose and whiskers twitched. “Hello.”

“Can I call you Roory?” A smile stretched the Cybunny’s dark face at this question and he nodded happily.

He and Moeioe continued to examine each other. Remembering Moeioe’s fright the night before, Rooruon found himself asking, “Don’t you think I’m ugly?”

“Well...” Moeioe began, clearly struggling to find the best way to answer, “Lots of people think that Moehogs are ugly, you know.”

“They do?” Rooruon asked in surprise.

“Uh-huh, but Tdyans says that it’s what’s on the inside that matters anyhow, and that Moehogs are cute—it just takes a special eye to see it... maybe it’s the same way with you.” Rooruon smiled again and nodded, content that at least Moeioe seemed to be trying to see past his appearance.

Then it was Moeioe’s turn to ask a question as he continued to pass a critical eye over his new brother. “You can’t fly, can you?”

“Well, no,” Rooruon said, watching Gil enviously as he lifted back into the air and flitted around the room. He looked back down at Moeioe and noticed that a look of disappointment had fallen over his features. “But it looks like fun,” he continued, desperate not to lose the connection he seemed to have been making. “Maybe, if I flapped my ears enough, they could be like wings... if someone taught me.”

“No,” Moeioe sighed. His hooves slipped from the bed back to the floor and he walked toward the door again, his interest lost. “Come on Gil,” he called, and after one last look at the strange creature that lay on the bed, the Hornsby flew after him and out the door. Rooruon sighed and laid his head upon his oversized paws, alone again.

Tdyans was distressed by her pets’ reactions to their new brother, but she didn’t know what to do. “They’re really nice guys Rooruon,” she said to him as he laid across her lap one afternoon. “Just give them a little more time, and I know they’ll come around.”

The Mutant Cybunny shook his head sadly. “I don’t fit in anywhere,” he said, tears clogging his deep voice.

“Oh Roory.” Tdyans just sighed and wrapped her arms around his neck, not knowing how to offer him comfort with words. She just had to hope that eventually the others would come to see what she had fallen in love with in Rooruon for themselves.

Still, days and then weeks went by and still nothing seemed able to change their attitude toward their new brother. Then one night, Rooruon awoke suddenly, wondering what it was that had startled him out of his sleep when he heard it again—a strange clanging sound from outside. He slid out of his bed and crept into the hallway to find that the others had been disturbed from their sleep and had come out to investigate also. “I wish Tdyans would spend a little money to get a better security system than those darned clanking cans,” Achilles muttered groggily, wiping the sleep from his eyes. “C’mon Maxi.”

MaxKanine nodded and turned to Moeioe, ordering, “You stay here, Moeioe,” and then headed down the stairs with Achilles, not bothering to say anything to Rooruon. Moeioe and Rooruon huddled at the top of the staircase and watched as Achilles and Max reached the living room and faced the front door, Achilles, the more daring and highly-trained of the two in front, but Max standing behind, ready and willing to back him up. “It’s probably nothing,” Achilles whispered, as they heard another muffled noise just outside the door, “Just a stray Angelpuss.” But the hair on the back of his neck prickled with apprehension. He bared his teeth and a low growl echoed from deep within his throat, and Max echoed the sentiment, when suddenly they saw the doorknob turning.

The door swung open with an ominous creak to reveal a tall dark figure standing in the doorway. Achilles barked furiously at the invasion of his home, but the shadow stood defiantly still. Finally, the Gelert launched himself at the intruder, but before his teeth or claws could make contact, a hand swept down and grabbed him by the scruff of the neck, hauling him up so that he was face to face with a gruff-looking, muscular man. “Well, aren’t you a nice lookin’ little pup?” the man chuckled in a raspy voice at the Gelert’s continued attempts to swipe at him as he held him just out of reach. “Yeah, you’ll fetch a pretty penny.”

While the man was absorbed in his taunting, MaxKanine took the opportunity to throw himself at him with a snarl, but his fate was the same as Achilles. The man deftly got a hold of him before he could do any good and held him up for an examination. “Hmmm, not painted,” the man frowned, “Oh well, I guess I can get a few NP out of you at least.” He was stuffing the pair into two small cages when Moeioe came charging down the stairs, doing his best impression of a fearless Lupe with a sound that was somewhere between a snort and a howl. The man had little problem at all in avoiding the gleaming ivory of the little Moehog’s tusks and snatching him up by his wings. “What a pretty little Moehog,” he laughed cruelly, as he shoved Moeioe into a third cage.

Satisfied that his work was done, the petnapper began to ready himself to leave when suddenly a quiet but determined voice echoed out of the shadows of the living room. “Leave my brothers alone!”

The man squinted into the darkness, but could not make anything out. “Who’s that?” he chuckled derisively. “Another pretty little pet? Well come on then, I’ve got money to make!” Then, as he continued to stare in the direction of the voice that he had heard, he suddenly made out two gleaming red eyes. “Wh-what are you?” the man stuttered, his face going pale.

“Leave my brothers alone!” the voice roared this time, and a dark, horrific figure came flying out of the darkness toward the man, its black claws stretched toward him and snaggled teeth bared in anger. Rooruon hit the man’s chest, knocking him flat onto the ground, and then stood atop him, growling to keep him down, but there was no point in this, for the rough character had already fainted at the mere sight of him. Rooruon shook off some of the ferocity that had overtaken him as he realized that the danger was over. He left the unconscious human and went to unlatch his brothers’ cages, concerned about what their reactions to his behavior would be. But he had nothing to worry about.

“Rooruon!” Moeioe exclaimed, “You saved our lives!”

Rooruon scratched bashfully at the floor with one of his claws at that, but MaxKanine continued, “And you called us your brothers.”

Rooruon looked up at the Lupe, surprised. “Well, you are my brothers, aren’t you?”

“Yes,” Achilles said, “But we haven’t been very good brothers to you.” The three pets hung their heads in shame. “Will you give us another chance?”

Rooruon looked at each of them in turn, and then smiled. “Of course I will. Everyone deserves a chance.”

When Tdyans walked into her Neopets’ kitchen with a fresh batch of groceries the next morning, she stopped cold, her mouth dropping open at the scene before her. Maxi was humming happily at the stove as he fried up a carrot and pea omelette; Moeioe was breaking in a new box of crayons drawing a picture of he and Rooruon soaring through the sky, the Cybunny’s floppy ears spread like wings; and Achi was huddled beside Rooruon over an issue of The Neopian Times that was spread across the kitchen table, teaching the Cybunny how to read. “‘I sat...glumly in,’” Rooruon read haltingly, looking up at Achilles, who nodded his approval with a smile, “‘At... Mo-- Mon-- Mono--’”

“‘Monokeras,’” Achilles assisted, pointing out each syllable with his paw as he spoke. “‘Monokeras, Private Investigations.’” Rooruon smiled, repeated the phrase, and continued reading.

Tdyans was amazed. The tension that had been coating the NeoHome like syrup for the past weeks had disappeared completely. She slumped down into a chair across from Achilles and looked from one pet to another. Finally she spoke. “What happened?”

Achilles grinned at his owner’s eloquence and replied on behalf of all of them, “Well, when you told us we were getting a new brother, we were all looking for someone who was just like us, but you know, we already had an Achilles81, a MaxKanine, and a Moeioe. I think we just realized that, as strange as it may seem, what we really needed to make our family complete...was a Rooruon.” They all looked fondly at their new brother, and Rooruon beamed. He had finally found his place.

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