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An Unlikely Friend


by shiningarcheops

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      Most Neopets had been born, hatched, or made in Neopia. In fact, it’s almost unheard of for a Neopet NOT to come from Neopia. Most Neopets know what it’s like to be an outsider in other lands, but even if one land is strange to them, home isn’t far off.

     Starz was an Aisha. A species of Neopet found almost everywhere, except Starz was different. He had six ears and strange markings on his fur. He wore a full body suit from his homeland. His homeland also happened to be a strange planet far, far away from Neopia.

     Starz had come to Neopia hoping to learn about its inhabitants but was thrown off by the extreme diversity of the planet. The range of climates, life, both pet and plant, architecture, etc. was stunning! He had yet to establish any sort of successful contact with the natives of Neopia, as his first attempts had left him alone as Neopets had run away from him in fear of what they didn’t yet understand.

     So Starz found himself sneaking onto a boat making its way from Faerieland to some unknown island. His powerful hearing meant he could sneak around and hide and make sure he wouldn’t get caught. He stayed hidden the entire journey and slept most of the way. Soon, the back-and-forth motion caused by the waves stopped. The boat had reached land somewhere. Keeping his ears alert, Starz crawled out of his hiding spot, intending to disembark the boat. One of his many ears twitched as he picked up on a conversation between younger Neopets. They intended on sneaking away as well, and… discovering a legend in the forest? Curious now, Starz followed the sound of their voices, making sure nobody was around when he poked his head up to take a look at their destination.

     They were on a huge island. The sandy shores stretched on for miles, and farther back were several buildings, where dozens, if not hundreds, of Neopets were gathered. Behind the buildings, and closer to the boat, was a dense jungle. Starz spotted the younger Neopets as they snuck away toward the jungle, shooting glances toward the buildings where older Neopets were headed. He briefly considered introducing himself to the younger Neopets, then decided against it. He was too curious about where they were going to risk scaring them off.

     Carefully, he pulled himself over the side of the boat and let himself fall onto the sand. He froze, convinced he’d been heard, but after a moment’s pause, he shook himself to get sand off him and started following the young Neopets. The rustling of his outfit made him hesitate again. Quickly, he pushed his helmet off and wormed his way out of the full bodysuit. Noticing the Neopets disappearing into the jungle, he left his outfit on the sand and rushed after them, grateful for the way the soft sand muffled his footsteps. The Neopets led the way into the jungle, stomping around, clearing a path, and being generally noisy. Starz began to feel confident that he wouldn’t be heard, but he kept low and stayed far back to avoid being seen. This continued for a while, until…

     “Ggghhhhrrr…..”

     Starz froze. What was that? It was loud enough that the other Neopets stopped in their tracks, too. After a moment of silence, a low, haunting howl rose up all around them. The young Neopets began to wail in fear, but Starz only felt himself getting more and more curious. The bushes rustled, and a ghostly Neopet stepped out, towering over the younger pets. Its fur looked ruffled and messy, and its eyes glowed red with fury.

     “Leave this place… LEAVE THIS PLACE!” the apparition growled, causing the younger Neopets to scream in terror, finding their legs again and bolting the direction they came, tripping over Starz who stayed put. The ghostly Neopet watched, satisfied, before realizing he hadn’t scared off everyone.

     “Why haven’t you run off like the rest of those cowardly Neopets?” the ghost growled. Starz stood up and tilted his head.

     “Why should I?” After all, he thought. Neopets run from me, too… and I don’t think I’m anything to be afraid of. That seemed to take the ghost by surprise. After a moment, he shook his head and huffed.

     “Neopets like you aren’t welcome here,” he warned, taking a step forward. Starz didn’t back down.

     “Aren’t you a Neopet?” he asked. The ghost paused again.

     “I am whatever they decide to see,” he growled, his tail lashing back and forth. “And they see something to be feared. As they should. So why don’t you?”

     Starz sat down and looked at his bright green paws. He thought about how not one Neopet had been welcoming to him, how any time he had tried making a friend, he only ended up more alone than ever. But here, finally, was a Neopet who was not afraid of what they didn’t know. He looked up, still trying to find an answer, and saw the ghost had also sat down and was staring at him with a curious, puzzled expression.

     “What’s your name?” Starz blurted out. “A-and… what are you, exactly?”

     The ghost looked just as surprised to hear the question as Starz was to hear himself ask it.

     “My… I haven’t used a name for so long. I’ve almost forgotten it. But I believe it was Sylva. Yes… A very long time ago, I was a yellow Lupe.”

     Starz perked his ears up, eager to hear more.

     “I came to this island with a crew… I came here to avenge someone. Someone important to me.”

     “And did you?” Starz asked, incredibly curious.

     The ghost Lupe opened his mouth to reply, then closed it again with a huff.

     “Who are you?” Sylva demanded, putting his guard up once more.

     “Oh!” Starz jumped up to his feet and bowed his head. “I’m called Beyond Starz, but… please, just call me Starz. Or even just Star. Or-- or anything, really. I-I’m sorry,” Starz stammered, embarrassed now. “Nobody has asked me my name, or even spoken to me, since I got to this planet, and, um.” Starz looked up, catching Sylva’s eye. “I-it’s just a very nice change, is all…” he trailed off, feeling awkward at having just spilled all that with no warning. He looked back down at his paws again, studying the ground beneath them.

     Sylva started laughing.

     Starz looked up, horrified. This was almost as bad as when Neopets would run away from him. He was about to stand up to walk away when the ghost Lupe stopped laughing enough to speak.

     “You know, Star, I think you and I may have more in common than you think.”

     Starz felt hope sparking in his chest. He looked up at Sylva again, seeing the ghost’s expression soften.

     “It takes a special sort of Neopet to talk to me like you have today. Some would see your actions as foolish, and, well… they’d be right.”

     Starz tilted his head again, confused. What was Sylva trying to say?

     The ghost Lupe grinned, showing sharp teeth. “I must be just as foolish too.”

     Starz stood up, tapping his paws on the ground in excitement and nerves. “Would, uh…” he hesitated.

     Sylva looked at him. “Go on…?”

     “That is, do you think, maybe, that we could… be friends?” Starz asked, tensing as he waited for the answer.

     Sylva laughed again. “I suppose you could talk me into that, if you wanted,” he huffed. He turned around and began float-stepping his way deeper into the forest. “Are you coming?” he called over his shoulder.

     Starz gave way to his emotions and bounded after the ghost Lupe, overjoyed. He crashed through the undergrowth, following Sylva who broke out into a run, no longer caring about the noises he might be making. Against all odds, Starz had made a friend! Perhaps Neopia wasn’t such a bad place, after all.

     The End.

 
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