Still thwarting Sloth's mind control... Circulation: 119,806,944 Issue: 242 | 2nd day of Relaxing, Y8
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City Lupe on the Plains: Part Two

by kindheartedfairy


"What's your story?" Josephine asked when finished.

      Before Nero had a chance to reply, Daenel had walked right up to Josephine. "Who is he? I saw his paws and tail. You said there's only you and Jane left."

      "He was just about to tell me. But I know he ran away from his owner or the Pound in Neopia Central, got attacked by Jane's group, and is named Nero."

      "Don't worry," Natalie whispered to Nero. "If you've had the rare opportunity to hear him talk to himself, you'll know he's just convinced no one in this world looks out for anyone but themselves, and he wishes that didn't mean he should do the same. He's been trying to convince himself he's only leading because he wants to prove he can, all though everyone who knows this, even him, knows at least deep down it's because he wants to look out for us."

      "I was taken by humans to the Pound when I was a pup," Nero answered. "The human who adopted me treated me cruelly after learning I was a Plains Lupe. I ran away yesterday or today, I believe." Nero summarized Amanda's treatment towards him.

      "No wonder you ran away," Scout commented.

      "I just have one question." Nero turned to face Josephine. "Why did you leave the pack?" He couldn't help but notice that Zyx was looking sorrowfully at him.

      A few tears began to form in Josephine's amber eyes. She stifled a sob. "A decade ago, we had one of the rare biggest storms on the Endless Plains ever," she began. "The lake flooded. Jane and I only got away because of our wings. No one else could swim fast enough. Nero... they're all gone."

      Nero tried to hold back his sadness as well. He now knew he couldn't return to his pack. Only Jane and Josephine were left. Nero would stay there, with Josephine.

      From that time on, Nero was also a part of the outcasts.


     Nero had been living with the outcasts for almost six months. Over that time, Josephine had taught Nero how to use the little magic they had. One sunrise, the time came for the pack to go on another hunt. As usual, Natalie did the begging that had become a routine.

      "Can I come this time?"

      "No," Nero replied.

      "Please? Pretty please? I won't get in the way or into trouble, I promise!" she pleaded.

      "No, again."

      "Aw... " she finished, pouting.

      Nero turned away and went towards everyone else, and the five Lupes ran off, Xyo easily ahead of the others, while his brother lagged behind.

      As they neared the edge of the forest, a net fell over Xyo. Daenel, Josephine, and Nero prepared to face their foe while Zyx worked on finding the fastest and most efficient way to free Xyo.

      A group of humans along with some Aishas sprang out of hiding, and the fight began, between the Lupes and the humans and Aishas. The humans managed to get ropes around all of Zyx's paws and his neck and were trying to drag both Red Lupes away. The Aishas went for Daenel, Nero, and Josephine. Josephine and Nero managed to take care of the Aishas going for them with their magic. Josephine went after Xyo and Zyx; Daenel was still in trouble. He had managed to evade most of the blows, but the few he missed were from strong, fast Aishas. The Mutant Lupe had a deep scratch across his chest, intersecting with the purple stripe. He had shallower scratches everywhere else. Nero felt rage literally burning inside him, and paws outspread towards the Aishas, he sent a powerful blast of magic towards, them careful to steer it away from the grass. The Aishas quickly extinguished each other's burning fur, and ran away in different directions, whimpering.

      Daenel smiled weakly at Nero before collapsing. "You... saved me," he managed to say, breathing heavily from exhaustion. It had taken most of his energy to fight the Aishas, and his strength had been diminished due to his wounds.

      A pup-like squeal entered Nero's ears, but he decided it was unimportant as Josephine returned with Zyx and Xyo. Probably Xyo, he thought.

      "Let's go back home," Zyx said. "They might come back."

      "Withreinforcementsandwe'llbeweaker," Xyo said, as energetic as ever.

      Nero helped Daenel onto his back, and the five Lupes walked back.

      Once they had gotten back to the rock, they noticed something: Natalie and Scout weren't there.

      "Where's Scout and Natalie?" Zyx asked.

      "You mean... they didn't come back with you?" Benny whimpered.

      Marco turned away from the remaining food they had and looked at the Baby Lupe. "You knew they left? Why didn't you tell me?"

      "Well... Natalie decided she would follow you, and Scout tried to stop her, and she ended up dragging him along. She said I couldn't tell anyone at all," Benny said. "She said she'd be fine, and so I guessed she would come back with or before you. Where's the food?"

      Xyo launched into a summary of why they had ended their hunt in one breath.

      "I heard a squeal, but I thought it wasn't important," Nero shared.

      "I heard it too," Daenel said, climbing off Nero and resting on the ground.

      "Maybe the humans took them," Marco suggested.

      "I'm going off to find them," Nero announced. He walked back to the cave entrance.

      Nero had been following Natalie's scent when he picked up another, stronger one. Someone was nearby. Was it a human, or one of the Aishas? Was it a friend or a foe? Nero looked up, to see a familiar brown-eyed Baby Lupe standing in front of him. "Benny, what are you doing here? And... why? You'd never do this, as far as I know."

      Benny stood tall and sturdily... well, as tall as a Baby Lupe can get on four paws. "I want to help Natalie and Scout. It's kind of my fault they're in this mess, and I want to help them get out of it. I want to fix this."

      "It's too dangerous," Nero replied.

      "Please?" Benny asked, using the cute-little-puppy-eyes trick.

      Nero sighed. "Fine. But only because no one can resist that trick."

      They had walked until the sun was high in the sky, and soon, they came upon a dimly lit cave. Standing outside were a duo of Darigan Aishas, and one human. The two Aishas were armed with QX-92 Neutrino Blasters.

      "What are those?" Benny whispered once they were safely hidden behind thick brush.

      "They're QX-92 Neutrino Blasters. They are weapons from the VirtuPets Space Station," Nero whispered. "And I'm sure they're dangerous. I think they're set to stun, so they can capture us Plains Lupes and bring us to the city." Nero remembered sadly that these humans did not realize how some humans felt towards Plains Lupes.

      "Oh," Benny whimpered. It was clear he regretted his decision to come along.

      "There's nothing we can do about that," Nero said, answering the pup's thoughts. "We'll just have to take them out before they can stun us." He quickly thought of a plan. "Okay. I have a plan. First, we get in front of the human and grab the Aishas' attention. We dodge their attack, in such a way that they stun the human. Then, we do the same for one of the Aishas."

      "And then what?" Benny squeaked.

      "And then... we'll wing it," Nero said. "But at least it'll be easier with just one Aisha."

      Benny nodded, and then leaped in front of the human, turned to face the Aishas, and barked loudly.

      Nero stayed hidden behind the brush, watching as Benny managed to get one of the Aishas to stun the human. Nero leaped out and leaped out of the way just before the ray hit him, and it hit the other Darigan Aisha square in the chest.

      The remaining Aisha blocked the entrance to the cave, more than aware of what Nero and Benny wanted. But Nero glimpsed several times Natalie's golden eyes, and just barely, Scout's brown. "Come with me," the Aisha beckoned. "You'll be able to see your friends, and you'll have a home, and an owner, and you won't have to live off of survival of the fittest -the city life is good, you'll learn."

      An instant later, Benny shouted out a long protest, "We're happy where we are! If we want to go into the city life, we can! But we like it here! Besides, some humans are cruel, in some cases specifically to Plains Lupes! They think of them as uncivilized, cruel and dishonest, unjust savages who deserve to be starved and banned from getting fresh air and good food!" Nero grimaced at the remembrance of his own past, the example Benny was using. "... So, please, let us be and make our own choices! Please?" Once again, the pup pulled off the trick that had allowed him to come along. "And if you won't this, at least don't tell us caging up little pups in dark places is okay, 'cause it's not!"

      Nero looked down, in his thoughts. It was good Benny had come along. He had a good memory, and sometimes, pups were smart. When Nero returned to reality, the Aisha was a small disappearing purple speck on the horizon. Where he had stood, only a bronze key remained.

      "He said that it's the key to the cage, and he warned us that the humans and other Aishas know where we live, so we have to get away from the hollow rock."

      Nero entered and freed the two pups with the key, and the four walked back home. When they returned, Benny quickly told of their adventure and the Aisha's warning. "We have to leave, and find another home," the Baby Lupe concluded.

      "But where?" Daenel asked. The scar on his chest had stopped bleeding, and seemed to be healing already.

      Nero pondered. Daenel was right. Where? He tried to think of a safe place. Suddenly, in his mind, an image of a familiar lake with wide shores walled in by forest. His old home. "I know," he said. "My old home. I think I remember the way."

      "I do," Josephine added. "We'll take you there."

      Due to the fact they didn't have many possessions, preparing to leave took little time. They all set off quite quickly, with as much food as they could carry while walking a distance.

      Between Nero's memories and Josephine's clearer memories, it took a day to get there; the forest that walled in the lake was the same as the forest Nero had been living near.

      A week later, Josephine confessed a secret to Nero.

      "I'm going to the city to find an owner," she confided to him.

      "Why?" the bewildered Green Lupe asked. "You know what happened to me! And besides, what will everyone else think?"

      "I'll be fine. You know how some pack leaders are. That's how we all got here. And I've spoken to city Neopets gone astray every now and then; from what they've told me, most - or at least some owners are kind and accept their pets for whom they are. And it's safer there, when you have the right owner. And survival of the fittest is nothing in a warm cozy house, and we won't have to worry about the dangers on the plains! Nero... you've been a great friend to me. And I hope you'll accept my decision."

      Nero pondered on Josephine's words. "I'll come with you. You've convinced me to. Let's go." While Josephine took a couple days' worth of food for her and Nero, Nero went to Scout. "Scout, I want to tell you something. Josephine and I are going to the city. I don't know about Josephine, but I'll try and visit every now and then. Okay?"

      Scout nodded silently. "I know Benny will be able to persuade whoever doesn't think this lets you still be acceptable when you come into thinking differently," he reassured him.

      In about a week, Josephine and Nero reached the fence that separated them from Neopia Central. Climbing over it, the two began to wander, careful to keep the other in sight (or scent).

      Nero was just about to go back to Josephine when a young human boy reading a map walked right into him.

      "Ow!" the boy cried, rubbing his shin. He had black hair and green eyes, and he was wearing a plain white T-shirt with blue jeans. "Watch where you're- hey, where's your owner?"

      Nero hesitated to answer. Should he tell the human? Could he be trusted? Nero decided to tell him the truth. "I... don't have an owner. My friend and I left the Endless Plains."

      The boy hesitated to reply. Nero guessed he was also thinking. The Lupe quickly motioned for Josephine to come over. "Well, you could come with me, and live in my Neohome. I just moved here, and I don't have any pets. We could be a great friends and family." He noticed the approaching White Lupe. "All three of us," he said knowingly.

      As the two now domestic Lupes and now owning human, Nero and Josephine took turns sharing their story. Nero felt this was a start of the better life he had run away for.

The End

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