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In Defense of the Lab Ray

by zenfishsticks



Tsk, tsk. Did you actually believe me? Did you think that I, a responsible Neopian citizen, would devour your soft brain just because I spent a little time under the Lab Ray and developed a resemblance to the notorious Malevolent Sentient Poogle Plushie?

Perish the thought! I am no more evil than an Usuki doll, yet when I walk the streets of Neopia, pets and owners alike often cower in fear or make disgusted faces. Yet I do not regret my time spent under the Ray at all. I was once a small, weak Faerie Poogle, flitting here and there on my pink wings and never even showing my teeth. I was too afraid to enter the Battledome, to visit the Snowager’s Cave or even to visit the Haunted Woods. I’ll admit that the first few times I went to the Laboratory, I may have pleaded a bit, maybe even cried a little. But once I realized that the Ray was making me stronger, faster, and more brave, I was happy to take my daily dose of radiation.

I am a whole new Poogle. The Battledome is no longer intimidating to me, and I relish battling. I can enter the Snowager’s Cave without fear, knowing that even if it should rear up and blast me with icy shards, my strong plushie skin will keep me safe. Now I spend entire days in the Haunted Woods, skulking in the darkness and enjoying the company of Neopia’s other outcasts. The Mutant pets are under the most strain, I think. The uproar that occurred last Mutant Day was a strong indication that most Neopians still dislike Mutants. And while Mutant Grundos and Lupes may be able to rely on their ability to intimidate others, poor Mutant Kacheeks deal with constant teasing and pokes to their brainy heads.

People are so quick to malign the Laboratory Ray, pointing out that it does unnatural things by changing a pet’s species or gender, and that it is capable of creating terrible monsters like Mutants, Darigan pets, or even Malevolent Sentient Plushie Poogles. Because pets like myself don’t match up with the commonly ‘cute’ image of Neopets, we are feared, ostracized, and all around treated as second-class citizens. As if a sweet Tonu given a few extra horns suddenly becomes vicious. Wrong! Mutants may have changed exteriors, but they keep the same personalities they had before. Darigan pets may absorb a few diabolical traits, sure, but the Darigan shift is nothing compared to an evil completely overlooked by most Neopians.

The Baby Paint Brush.

Not only is it seen as a safe paint brush, it is also a highly popular one. With its pastel ribbon advertising “Cute! Cute! Cute!”, many Neopians have been desperately trying to gain the NP necessary to get one of their own, without a thought for the effects it will have. My sister Upa was easily caught up in this craze. Born a blue Aisha, she was always drawn toward new and exciting colors and spent time colored Disco, White and then Desert before she became obsessed with the Baby Paint Brush. So my owner scrimped and saved up the Neopoints to purchase the brush from the Hidden Tower. Upa was so excited when she saw it and to this day, she seems to love her new form, but it has destroyed the Upa I once cared about.

First of all, she has lost her independence and her ability to battle. I remember when Upa used to strap on her Aisha Claw, grinning as its silver talons gleamed in the sun, and head off to the Battledome to take down the Pant Devil or an uppity Halloween Lupe. Now she can’t go any further than the garden by herself, and sits around in the flowers squeezing her Squeaky Tonu Toy until our owner brings her in to spoon some Gaga Grub into her mouth. If she sees the Pant Devil, she just screams until someone comes running to save her.

Secondly, Upa is an ultimate genius and used to be very fond of thick and complex books and scrolls. Now she has to have books read to her, and she mostly likes short books with lots of pictures like Billy Blue Hat or The Very Hungry Caterpillar. She couldn’t do a Faerie Crossword if you held the pen for her; she would just end up drooling on it. She can’t even talk to us properly anymore, unless you count single syllables like “Ploo” (her favorite Poptart plushie), “Moo” (her big brother Moomareddi), or “Goo” (I’m not really sure what it means). She seems happy enough, but I consider her condition a tragedy.

Now, I’m the first to admit that the Lab Ray also makes Baby Neopets along with Mutants. But the odds are terribly good that within a short time, your Neopet will no longer be reduced to an infant. Even better, they will get to experience the world in a whole new form! Maybe they will get zapped Maraquan, and be able to explore the seas with their newfound fins. Maybe they will become Invisible for a while, and be able to play amusing pranks on their confused friends. They could become a Shoyru or Pteri and experience flying. If they’re especially lucky, maybe they will even become a Robot or something equally rare and interesting. My brother (well, um, sister now, which is yet another way that the Lab Ray allows Neopets to see the world in a whole new way) Ekaksana is now a Darigan Skeith thanks to the Lab Ray, and spends his days happily scarfing down all the buckets of sludge and old beach sandals that would otherwise go to waste. Being a Malevolent Sentient Plushie Poogle has been one of the best things to happen to me, so I’m enjoying it for a while, but if my owner wants to send me to the Laboratory again, I’ll be happy to go.

Also, I’m pleased as thornberry punch that there is now a Petpet Lab Ray too, even though that little Kookith I’ve seen there is a bit unsettling. Since my owner won’t let me force Upa onto the Lab table (even though I am desperate for a Pirate sister), I’ll just have to settle for Upa’s Snicklebeast instead. Although, if she got herself a Chocolate Kookith, she’d probably end up eating it, which would at least prove that Babies are more dangerous than Malevolent Sentient Plushie Poogles could ever be.

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