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There's Always Hope


by 12345paco

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When people, especially those who are newcomers to Neopia, create a Neopet, they usually do it with the best of intentions. They look into their new pet's expectant eyes, and tell them that from that moment on, they will always be buddies, that nothing will be able to separate them, ever.

      The young owner and his Neopet usually have a hard but fun time starting out. They play games together, not for the neopoints, but for fun. They share their free omelette meals enjoying every last bite. They explore Neopia together, and marvel at Tyrannia's breath-taking landscapes and Mystery Island's sparkling beaches. They build a neohome, and the pet manages to feel comfortable in it although its only furnishings are a basic bed and a rug, which they got for free in their starting pack.

      The blissful pet is convinced he will never be abandoned. Not him. Him and his owner have so much fun, it's impossible that he could ever even think about leaving his devoted pet.

      But nothing lasts forever. The young owner starts yearning for expensive items. Paintbrushes, morphing potions, Draik eggs... Their exorbitant prices drive the young owner into a neopoint-hoarding frenzy. No more games for fun, just quick ones that reward the most points. No more exploring, that's just a waste of precious neopoint-making time. No more food either. What's the point of feeding your pet when you can instead sell that omelette you grabbed for free from the floor?

      The unfortunate Neopet notices. How wouldn't he? His owner no longer smiles at him, and doesn't even seem to care about his pet's fatigued look as he is dragged from one game to the next.

      Finally, the unfortunate moment comes when the owner manages to save up enough neopoints. What should he get? A paintbrush to treat the pet he once said he loved? Books? Plushies? Should he buy some expensive gourmet food for his pet to delight with?

      Sadly, that is almost never the case.

      The poor Neopet, having endured months of repetitive gaming and starvation, hardly ever gets a reward. Instead, the most common goal this type of owners aim for is access to the secret laboratory. Admission to this mysterious location will grant them status; a sense of superiority, and, most importantly, the lab ray can be used on any pet! Why restrict himself to just one painted pet, the young owner thinks? With the lab ray, he can have as many trophy pets as he wishes!

      And that is where the cycle of abandoning begins.

      ***

      My name is Khaeru, and I was born as a green Kougra. My first owner fitted exactly into the description above. I too thought our life was brilliant before he became obsessed with neopoints and so-called "trophy pets". And I too was taken to the wretched lab ray. Don't get me wrong; I appreciate the laboratory's usefulness for a wide variety of purposes, I just do not think it's worth it if you neglect your pet's happiness in the process of obtaining it.

      Anyhow, days went by and the lab ray only delivered stat changes. My owner was starting to get impatient.

      I had tirelessly tried to explain to him that the laboratory did not guarantee I was going to change into a striking pet, but he never listened. He wanted me to become a Darigan Kougra, and planned to create more and more pets and zap them all into expensive colours.

      Then one day, I changed into a Moehog.

      "I'm not a fan of Moehogs," he said, "but maybe you'll be zapped Faerie or Darigan and I can trade you off for a Darigan Kougra!"

      That day I finally realised, my owner cared no more about me.

      Oh, how I longed to have been born in a kind family, where all pets are equally loved and the concept of trading your pet for a "better" one is despised! But this was my luck, and I had to deal with it.

      I did not hear a single word more from my owner. He did not even say hello anymore when he came to take me to the laboratory.

      That is, until the day I turned mutant.

      "Oh look, your pet changed colours! Just what you wanted, right?" The Scorchio scientist snickered.

      The look on my owner's face was of complete disgust.

      He did not even try to trade me off; he just dropped me into the pound and headed away without as much as a goodbye wave.

      For those of you who have not yet met one, mutant Moehogs are quite peculiar. Their legs are not strong enough to support their weight; so moving is an arduous task. They can only resort to sluggishly crawling around, leaving a repulsive trail of slime in their path. My biggest desire was to become a Kougra again, and be able to run, jump, climb, and freely do what I wanted.

      Days, weeks and even months went by. Yes, mutant is a difficult colour to obtain, but not many people are drawn to foul-looking mutant Moehogs like me.

      But one day, as I dozed in my cage, I heard someone say my name. I thought I must be dreaming, but as the pink Uni opened my cage, I understood I was finally being adopted.

      ***

      Her voice sounded like an angel's to me. Finally, the time I had dreamt about over and over had come. I had a new owner. I had been rescued from the pound.

      Her name was Kriddle. She booked me into the neolodge, where I would never get hungry again, played with me and read me lots of books. But I knew the time would come when I would have to leave my family yet again.

      After adopting me, she had told me she would only be fostering me in the hopes that the lab ray would change my colour so finding a loving home would be easier for me. I appreciated her honesty, but I still felt a stinging pain inside. This joy wouldn't last forever; I would eventually be returned to the pound.

      Maybe that scheming scientist did it on purpose, or maybe it was just my luck, but after an endless series of trips to the laboratory, my appearance had not changed at all.

      "Don't worry, we'll just keep trying," she said after every visit, a bright beam on her face. "You'll get a lucky zap someday."

      As days went by, I grew more and more tired of my looks. I found it difficult to move, to articulate words, and even to smile. For the first time since I left the pound, I started to think all hope was lost.

      ***

      On the 30th day of the month of eating, Kriddle came to visit me at the neolodge, and told me we needed to talk about something very important.

      The moment I had feared for so long. I dreaded to think she too had become tired of me and would be sending me back to the pound.

      "I just had a coffee with a good friend of mine, and told her about you. She has a foster pet too, who just turned into a gorgeous snow Poogle, and... Oh Fyora, I don't even know what to say... I'm sorry to let you go Khaeru; I've really grown to care about you... But you know I've always wanted a Poogle..."

      I had tried to prepare myself for this moment; tried to build up the courage to say it didn't matter, that I understood. But my gawky, mutant mouth could not even stutter as much as a quivering "OK".

      "You won't be sent back to the pound, don't worry, I wouldn't do that to you! You'll be living with my friend, her name's M; she'll take good care of you until we find you another home, I'm sure of that!"

      She tried to make her tone reassuring, and I could see in her eyes that she really felt guilty for this. But I had always known this moment would come, I couldn't keep lying to myself. With difficulty, I managed to mumble a couple of words.

      "Don't worry, it's OK. It was supposed to happen, that's why you adopted me in the first place. Thanks for looking after me, Kriddle."

      We hugged, and headed for the pound. But this time, I would be entering the transfer room. I wondered how different it would be.

      ***

      I pondered what my new owner would be like. I didn't want to get my hopes up, I had been told she was only going to be my foster owner, just like Kriddle, and adopt me out once I was freed of my nauseating appearance.

      "Hi, I've come to pick up Kyru, please. It's spelled K-H-A-E-R-U".

      "He's-sss right in there, miss-sss" the robot Hissi whispered as he opened the transfer room door.

      I crawled towards her, my look lowered, hoping she wouldn't think I was too sickening and leave me there. She knelt down to face me.

      "Hey there, Ky! I'm M, your new owner." She smiled.

      I looked up into her eyes.

      ***

      Have you ever gazed at the stars from Neopia Central's hills or swum all the way down to Maraqua? Have you ever chased Carmarillers through Faerieland's clouds or watched the boats in the docks of Altador while savouring some exquisite Altadorian Ambrosia? Have you ever reached the top of Terror Mountain? If you have, you'll know what I mean. You'll know that sense of freedom, the impression of all your problems disappearing, that feeling of blessedness. That's what I experienced when I met M's eyes. I could feel I had finally found a home. I'm not ashamed to say, I threw myself into her arms and started crying. She did not push me away like my first owner would have done, but returned my hug instead. For the first time since I could remember, I felt truly happy.

      It was a bright, sunny day, so we sat down on the grass outside the pound to talk. I told her all about my past, and my unfortunate trips to the secret laboratory. I told her about my aching wish to become a Kougra again, to stop feeling unwanted and humiliated by my appearance.

      "Ky, I've only known you for about two hours and I can already tell you're a wonderful pet. You don't have to be embarrassed of how you look; you've got a great heart and have been through a lot of tough moments! And... listen, I know I initially told Kriddle I was just going to foster you until I found you another home, but before picking you up I talked to my other pets, and we all agreed that it's time to have a new member in the family. I think you'll fit in perfectly with us. What do you say?"

      I cannot describe how ecstatic I felt hearing those words. I shouted with glee and leaped into the air!

      Well... at least I tried to. Mutant Moehogs aren't made for leaping.

      M giggled. "You know, I think I have a Kougra Morphing Potion in my safety deposit box. You really do look uncomfortable as a Moehog!"

      After thanking her about a million times, I drank the potion, and felt my body get slimmer and stronger as I turned into an athletic orange Kougra. Just like I had always wanted.

      I felt like the luckiest pet in the whole of Neopia.

      ***

      M told me I would be living in Meridell with my new siblings: a Maraquan Uni, an Island Uni and a blue Lupe. I got along instantly with them. They received me with open arms and helped me decorate my very own room. I hadn't had so much fun in my life; I still could not believe this could be happening to me! That night, we had Faerie Hot Dogs for dinner, and I went to sleep feeling as if I had received the blessing of all the faeries in Neopia put together. I had only spent one day with my new family and I already knew I never wanted to leave them.

      When I woke up that morning, M told me she had a surprise for me. Wondering what it could be, I followed her all the way to Neopia Central.

      "What are we doing here?" I asked. I hoped with all my might we weren't heading for the pound.

      "You'll see." She winked, and refused to reveal anything else.

      To my relief, we went past the pound without a glance. A few minutes later, we stopped before Kriddle's house.

      "I neomailed her and told her I was going to keep you permanently. She was so pleased she asked me to bring you over so she could congratulate you personally!" M beamed.

      I was really excited to see my old owner. After all, if it hadn't been for her, I would never have met my new family!

      Kriddle greeted me with a big hug and yells of how good-looking I was as a Kougra, and invited us inside for some tea. When we were comfortably seated in her living room, she took a beautifully wrapped box from a table and handed it to me.

      "Khaeru, I have been thinking about it and during the time you were with me you have been an incredible pet. I want you to remember I really care for you and you'll be welcome to visit me anytime. Also, I realised I never gave you a goodbye gift to remember me by, so... please accept this!"

      My new Kougra claws were really useful at opening packages. I tore it open and became speechless when I saw what it contained.

      "A faerie paint brush? We can't accept this Kriddle, it's... too much!" M stammered.

      "Please take it, I want Khaeru to have something to remember me by. Plus, I think he would look really handsome as a Faerie Kougra!" Kriddle replied.

      After much insistence through my part and Kriddle's, M finally let me accept the gift, and we all took a trip to the Rainbow Pool to give it use.

      I remember my days as a slobbery mutant. How I looked at the other pets around me and wished with all my heart I could be like them. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined my life could take a turn this big.

      Emerging from the pool, as I stretched my new majestic wings and smoothed my magnificent violet fur, I knew I would never be miserable again.

      ***

      After an emotive farewell and promises to visit at least once a month, M and I returned to our neohome, and yet more surprises awaited me there. I opened the door and was greeted by a splendid black Alabriss speeding towards me! The impact when he reached me nearly toppled me onto the floor.

      "Wow Ky, you look awesome!" My siblings gasped, amazed.

      "While you were away we got you this Alabriss as a welcome gift, we hope you like it!"

      "He's adorable guys, I don't know what to say!" My voice was shaking after such an eventful day. I definitely felt the most loved pet in Neopia.

      "Ky, what are you going to name your new Alabriss?" M asked.

      I had been graced with three loving siblings and a caring owner. What else could I ever wish for? So I decided to name him after the person who made all of this possible.

      "I think I'll name him Kriddle."

      ***

      I have decided to write this story in the hopes that abandoned Neopets who are able to identify with me will someday read it. I speak to all of you who have lost your faith, who think there is no way out of your misery. Don't despair. Even if you are a mutant Moehog with not a single friend in Neopia, there will come a day in which your sorrow will be reversed. Just be patient, there's always light at the end of the tunnel, and it's always calm after a storm.

      Remember, there's always hope.

The End

PD: This is based on Khaeru's true story. I did adopt him as a mutant Moehog from my friend Kriddle, who gave me permission to include her in this story as she plays a very important role in it and Khaeru's black Alabriss is indeed named in her honour. I hope this makes it into the Neopian Times so my story can spread some much-needed hope around Neopia!

 
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