Dusk's Enterprise: Research Inc. - Part Three
Two days later we were ready to give it the old Darigan try. Our front window had a display made up of diagrams drawn beautifully on poster paper and catchy phrases.
Green Lupe --> Halloween Paint brush --> Halloween Lupe
“We’ll teach you the newest trends!”
“Awesome Training Tips and Weapon Suggestions!”
Twilight unlocked our front doors on our Grand opening, and shrieked in fear. If not for her powerful Zafara legs, she would have been trampled. As it was we ultimately found her clinging frantically to the rafters several minutes later, where she had leaped to avoid the crush of restockers.
It took us several minutes to convince the mob that we were not a restocking store and that our business was in advice, not items. The crowd left, muttering darkly, and Migga quickly directed Shade to hang a sign in our front window. “This business does not restock!”
“Come ON, Twilight, let go. The mob is gone.” Depth gently convinced Twilight to come back down. “It’s okay, you’re safe.”
Reluctantly our traumatized classmate hung down from the rafters, peering suspiciously around for signs of another rush, then dropped with a thump to the floor. “I’m not sure I want to ever open those doors again!”
That was a major lesson learned, and it was only our first ten minutes open. But with the sign up, now nobody was coming inside. Nobody thought our business was a business without something to actually buy. The first rush... and for all the rest of the day, we didn’t have anyone as actual customers. Oh sure, several curious people wandered in and looked around; but ultimately they all left again without talking to any of us.
I didn’t get it. I scratched behind one ear in confusion as we all sat back to figure out what we were missing. We had fliers up everywhere, in every land except the unconfirmed Jelly World. I had even put up a notice on the Notice Boards.
“Well, most people don’t even look at the Notice Boards anymore,” Depth pointed out.
“Most people hang out around the... Chat... Boards...” A light seemed to flash above Twilight’s head. “You guys hang out here; let me try talking it up on the Shop Ads Board for a little bit.” And with a flick of her spade tail, she was out the door and gone.
A few minutes later, a finely dressed Blue Cybunny made her way into our building, “I would presume it was your companion who was talking all over the boards?” she asked primly.
“Uh, yes Ma’am,” I said, hitching myself up higher on my paws and trying to look professional.
“Well... I do not normally do this, but since I seem to have some time on my hands, I suppose I can play your little game.”
Game? I blinked but tried not to look thrown by her odd wording.
“Okay. Did Twilight explain to you exactly what we do?” I asked, pulling out one of the forms Migga had written up.
“She said that you... consult... customers on fashion and... the Battledome,” the Cybunny looked as though she had bitten into an unsweetened lemon.
“That’s right. We just need you to fill out this form and then we can begin,” I handed the form to her and a Blue Pencil with Eraser.
Suspicion slid behind her blue eyes and she gave me a level stare before accepting both and walking over to a table to fill it out.
“What was that about?” I whispered to Shade.
“She probably suspects the form will insist on her password or something,” Shade whispered back.
Why the heck would I want that?
Guess I just don’t have the mind of a con artist, to be that slow on the uptake.
The Cybunny seemed to be much faster than I was; she was reading and re-reading the questions on her form, to all appearances checking to see if we had snuck that taboo question in there somewhere. Finally she handed it in.
“All right, thank you Miss...” I quickly checked the name, “Elenore_Hues. It looks like everything is in order. So just to double check with you, you’d like to consult Depth about a species of petpet and a fashionable color for yourself?”
At the Cybunny’s nod, I led her over to Depth’s desk and had her sit down before taking a seat off to the side myself.
Depth smiled warmly across the desk. “I hope you won’t mind, but I’m going to ask Dusk to sit next to me while we work this out; just to make sure that this goes smoothly.”
At Elenore’s nod, we began.
“Okay, so you are looking for a paint Brush that keeps with your blue motif. That’s simple enough.” Depth pulled out a binder she had made with pictures of all the available pet colors, and an even larger portion of the binder held pictures of every available petpet color as well. “To keep with the Blue motif, you can either stay Blue as you are, or we can find you a Starry, Electric, or Cloud Paint Brush. Now,” Depth held up a hoof to forestall a decision, “before you say for absolute certain, let’s see how petpets match up to you.”
I watched in amazement as Depth set up the pictures of Elenore’s choices and lined up petpets next to them to see how they matched up. Elenore was able to sweep through them all and remove the petpets she didn’t like the look of. In minutes we were down to the finalists. She ultimately eliminated the Electric look, finding it a bit too dazzling and flashy. She knew for certain that she wanted to give up her Blue look for one of the others so that too was soon eliminated.
Finally it was decision time. Elenore_Hues could either be Cloud with a Cloud Eizzil, or Starry with a Blue Dua. Her eyes flicked back and forth, before finally settling on the Cloud look and the matching Eizzil.
Next came a list of makeup and grooming products that would match Elenore’s new look. Elenore elected to buy the grooming stuff herself, but was intrigued by the idea that we could get the petpet and paint brush for her for a small fee.
Twilight did a quick search and brought Elenore a total; for four hundred ninety thousand, we would have the paint brush and petpet waiting in the Trading Post.
That evening, we celebrated our first successful sale. Our very first customer was both pleased and impressed with us, and we had a business that would blow our competition away.
“Even better,” Migga proclaimed over a steaming Starberry Pizza Slice, “We now have... what is it again? ‘Word of mouth’ from a real customer. She will tell all her friends. And they will come. Then they will tell all of their friends.”
We chattered happily over our meal, pleased at the start of our very own business.
Class time seemed to fly past and soon we made the trip down to Brightvale for our second day open. We got three customers that day; friends of Elenore we assumed. The lot of them were mostly snooty at the beginning but they all warmed up quickly at the novel idea of our business.
So far Shade wasn’t getting any business, since these were all rich and appearance oriented customers. But he satisfied himself with sitting in on meetings and listening to how things went on both sides of the desk.
On the third day, Shade got his first customer.
His name was Praxio and he wanted Shade’s opinion on weapons. Praxio wasn’t rich enough to shop at the Hidden Tower, but he was willing to spend a few hundred thousand on a good set of weapons. Soon enough he was on his way out the door cheerfully clutching a list of weapons and a handful of notes on battle strategy.
At the end of our first week we had built a nice list of satisfied customers and a few had more than happily submitted written testimonies giving their compliments. I was only too happy to add those to my binder for our project.
The weekend came with its own fur raising experience. Even the normally bubbly Migga seemed to be taken aback by the Tuskaninny with cold, piercing eyes and the Lenny with an endlessly scribbling pencil. They walked in our front door, setting off the merrily jingle of the bells we managed to afford from our first profits.
Migga trotted forward immediately, a warm greeting all but bursting out of her mouth despite the way the Tuskaninny was looking her up and down like a particularly detestable weed in an otherwise perfect Neogarden.
“Welcome to Research Inc,” Migga greeted them, resisting the urge to smile at the Lenny’s wry glance and the Tuskaninny’s puckered expression. “How may I help you?”
The Tuskaninny huffed impatiently. “I am attending a ball that my Guild is hosting. I need a new Paint job as well as a matching petpet and a weapon that is both highly expensive as well as powerful. They will be my submission to my guild to prove I am appropriately wealthy.”
Migga nodded as if the crisp, indifferent tone was a warm invitation to friendship. “Then I think we can get you started right away,” she said cheerfully shaking her mane.
I stepped forward and offered a pencil and one of our forms, trying not to flinch when they were snatched out of my paw and then held as though they were dried pieces of petpet dung.
I couldn’t help but lay back my ears, feeling insulted the way the Tuskaninny was acting like I had some sort of plague. True, our forms had changed due to illnesses way back in ancient history, but we were all healthy now thanks to the kindly faerie at the Healing springs. You can’t get sick just from touching something we’d touched.
I half slunk back as the two turned and shared a long, critical look at the forms before muttering back and forth in tones too low to be heard.
I didn’t like this. I really, really, really didn’t like this. This went beyond a snotty rich Neopet. It was like... I was half terrified that if I said something the wrong way, I would get in some sort of deep trouble without even knowing what I did or said wrong.
A warm cheek pressed reassuringly against mine and I closed my eyes for a few seconds, accepting my best friend’s wordless comfort. She couldn’t exactly put a hoof on my shoulder or hug me, but this was close enough.
Finally with a rattle, the form was thrust gruffly back at me and I had to snatch it up before it fell to the floor. I did a quick check to see what our guest wanted.
1. Name: Mielee371785
2. Species: Tuskaninny
3. Gender: Female
4. Do you want to be painted? Yes
4a. If Yes, what are your choices? Camouflage or Faerie
5. Do you want a Petpet? Yes
5a. Do you want the Petpet to be painted too? Yes
5b. If Yes, what are your choices? Erisim, Gallion or Niptor
5c. Are you afraid of, or allergic to, any petpets? No
5d. What kind of petpet do you want? (Playful, obedient, etc): Obedient. Don’t care otherwise.
6. Do you want to be morphed into a new species? No
6a. Are you afraid of, or allergic to, any Species of Neopet? No
7. Would you like us to recommend any grooming supplies that would match your chosen color? No
7a. Are you allergic to any grooming products? No
8. Do you plan on entering the Battledome any time in the future? No
8a. Would you like us to recommend some useful Attack and Defense items? Yes
9. If you are undecided about any of your options, or would like to supply the information for reference, please write out a summary of your personality and particular likes and dislikes. We respect privacy and we will not use any of your information to embarrass or offend you in any way.
What kind of question is this?! Oh very well... I like things that are both practical as well as fashionable. Fashionable is no good if you can’t do anything with it and you cannot do something properly and be sloppy at the same time.
Hmm. Brief but that wasn’t too terribly bad of a summary. She had a level headed way of looking at things. It got her brownie points in my opinion, because she was likely going to listen when we gave advice about something. Still, the straight stare she was giving me and the way the Lenny, who hadn’t yet said a word to anyone else, was half perching with his pen over his notebook like a proclamation of doom, made my tail frizzle out.
“Right. Um, can I call you Mielee?”
She gave a very short nod and I continued, “It looks like all the paperwork is in order. Why don’t you come to Depth’s desk and we’ll have you sort through the petpets of your choice?”
I made it a question since I doubted she’d put up with anything less.
Stone faced, she made her way over to Depth’s desk. The Peophin in question looked like she was bracing herself for a rather grim session.
The Tuskaninny spoke in short, crisp words, fairly quickly nixing the Erisim once she saw what it looked like.
“I don’t want something dragging its backside around inside my Neomansion.”
I bit my tongue. Considering that’s how Peophins, Flotsams, Jetsams and heck, even Tuskaninnies got around, it didn’t really make sense to quibble about a petpet doing the same thing. Whatever. The customer knows what they want and all that.
Shade and Twilight shared a resigned look, knowing they too would have to deal with this... hypocrite. Eventually Mielee nixed the Gallion, apparently preferring something that pattered around delicately on two legs rather than prancing properly on four. I just couldn’t help but wonder how her Owner put up with her.
After further debate on a Camouflage paint job and a Disco Niptor, or a Faerie Paint Job and an Island Niptor, she settled on the Faerie/Island idea.
Then on to Shade. After another hour – the entire time consumed with Mielee doing just about everything possible to annoy the wings off the poor Lupe’s back – she decided she wanted a Portable Kiln and a Sword of the Air Faerie. The Lenny scribbled incessantly in his notebook the entire time and I briefly considered offering to put a brand new notebook in on the deal should he ever run out of pages to write in.
Finally... FINALLY, the duo was finished and out the door.
Shade, Depth and I were grinding our teeth with the effort of not kicking something. Twilight and Migga stepped back through the front doors – I hadn’t even seen them slip out – carrying sacks of something that let off heavenly smells. Food. My stomach immediately went on a growling rampage to tell me just how unhappy it was with me.
Tentative and almost overcompensating in politeness, Twilight handed over a pawful of napkins and a paper plate to the three of us while Migga began hauling out boxes of food. We didn’t say anything until we’d all gotten the soothing comfort of food into our bellies.
Finally Twilight cleared her throat, “Erm, Dusk... now that we’ve gotten our, uh, customer’s wants on a list, why don’t you come with me to the Trading Post and check out how I go about getting the supplies? That way you could write it properly in the report.”
“We need some stuff from the Island too,” Depth admitted. “I want to change the store front’s display to an Island theme. We need shells, kelp, palm fronds and maybe a little sand to sprinkle around.”
“I could use a little fresh air anyway,” I admitted agreeably. The thought of steady warmth and the rush of water over my paws was very appealing at the moment.
Of course, it was going to be a bit of a trek to get there. Fortunately King Hagan’s smarts were more than reputation. Brightvale was in fairly easy reach of the ocean and he had made sure to build a harbor, which had a hustle and bustle of ships day in and day out. Even boarding a ferry was easy; one came and went just about every hour. The downside was simply that Mystery Island was a long boat ride away and we most likely wouldn’t get back before evening had settled.
Migga, ever the one to look out for us, stuffed some leftovers in my backpack, “For the trip,” and checked with everyone else to make sure we had a list of absolutely everything we would need to pick up.
With a final ^^Until we meet again,^^ in Tyrannian, we were on our way.
To be continued...