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Misfired


by bex2633

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It was a brand new day in Neopia, and Mel was slowly waking up from her slumber. Eyes still closed, the pink Xweetok smiled sleepily, basking in the warm morning sunshine pouring in through her window. She was looking forward to the day ahead, as she was planning to visit Uni’s boutique for some new clothes. Perhaps she could treat herself to something delicious from the Bakery as well.

     “Come on now Mel! It’s time to get up!” An unfamiliar voice interrupted her calm, and she started. She lived alone - who was here? Now wide awake, she turned her head to face the intruder - and stared in shock.

     Her Faellie, Cuddles, was stood by her bedside. Only, she was far bigger than she should have been and was wearing what looked to be Mel’s favourite spring dress. All of this paled in comparison to the fact she could apparently speak now.

     She looked around the room, realising she was not actually in her bed, but in her petpet’s basket. How did she even fit? Had she shrunk whilst her Faellie had grown?

     “What? What’s happening?” Mel tried to say, but Cuddles just chuckled.

     “Aww, stop squeaking you lazy thing.” Squeaking? Cuddles couldn’t understand her? She supposed that made sense, in this weird reality she was now apparently living in. It’s not like Cuddles had previously been a beacon of engaging conversation either.

     “Come on, we’re heading out into Central to do some shopping,” Cuddles continued fondly, before lifting her from her basket and dumping her unceremoniously on the floor. “Let’s go!”

     ------------

     Mel was quickly realising something very very strange was going on. As she and Cuddles walked further into Neopia Central, things became more surreal. Everywhere she looked, she saw oversized petpets accompanied by confused looking, miniaturised Neopians. Outside the General Store, a dapper Meepit dressed in a suit and bowtie was followed by a tiny spotted Eyrie, who glanced at Mel in horror. Further down the road, a muscular Gruslen sporting a regal cape and crown was leading a perturbed Lupe around on a leash.

     As they passed the Kadoatery, Mel looked up to the sign, only to see it read “The Aishery”. She bounded up to the window, rising up onto her hindlegs and pressing her paws against the glass for balance. The rows of cages were now filled with colourful Aishas, with a crowd of petpets gathered around expectantly. Unlike the Kadoaties, they weren’t crying - they just seemed perplexed.

     As she watched, a Mazzew walked in from the back room, and posted new signs on the cages. Moments later, the crowd of petpets rushed towards the Aishas, clamouring to push food through the bars, before dissipating again. A lavender coloured Aisha poked the shrivelled apple in front of her dubiously. Mel swayed, feeling dizzy, and wondered if she was having some bizarre dream.

     She felt a hand pat her gently. “Come now, Mel. Perhaps we can go to see the Aishas later,” Cuddles said, before leading her away from the Aishery.

     The rest of the walk wasn’t much better for Mel’s sense of reality. They passed the Petpet Shop - strangely not renamed - where a trio of giggling Maukets were looking through the window, and cooing. “Oh what a cute Cybunny!” one squealed, whilst another seemed to be fawning over a Usul, who Mel was pretty sure used to be the shopkeeper. She shook her head, still feeling dazed.

     “Are you okay Mel?” Cuddles asked, looking concerned. “You look a bit sickly. We could head to the Pharmacy, they might have some treatments for petpets there.”

     For some reason, hearing her pet Faellie speak to her matter of factly about the Pharmacy was the final straw. The edges of Mel’s vision darkened, and she collapsed, landing on the ground in a heap.

      ------------

     Some time later, Mel came round to blinding white lights. She blinked blearily, glancing around to see the familiar sights of the Neopian Hospital. Cuddles stood next to her, fidgeting and looking anxious, whilst a Harris in a crisp white lab coat pressed a stethoscope to her chest.

     “Ah she’s woken up!” the Harris announced. “Hmm, I’m not sure what the problem was. Obviously my area of expertise isn’t petpets, but is strange that she fainted like that. Her vitals seem normal.” He paused thoughtfully. “I would recommend making sure she stays hydrated; it is a rather hot day after all. If it happens again, do bring her back - I have colleagues with more veterinary experience. I wouldn’t be too concerned though.”

     “Thank you Doctor,” Cuddles said appreciatively, grasping the Harris’s paw in her own. Mel couldn’t help but feel that a Harris doctor was most likely lacking in any kind of experience, given that this was presumably his first day practising medicine. What in Neopia was going on? She sighed, as Cuddles once more picked her up to leave.

     The pair headed back out into the Plaza, with Cuddles stroking Mel’s fur soothingly, before setting her down on the ground. “I’m so glad you’re okay Mel; you had me so worried. Let’s go to the Bakery; a little treat should perk you up.” Well, at least one thing in Mel’s day was going to plan, she supposed.

     They entered the Bakery, and Mel smiled as the inviting smells of the shop wafted over her. She could just about ignore the fact the Breadmaster was now a cheerful looking Miamouse, choosing to pay attention to how delicious everything smelled instead. She sat down as Cuddles approached the counter to haggle with the Miamouse, gazing longingly at the rows of cakes and cookies. She hoped her Faellie would pick something she liked.

     The shop’s bell dinged behind her as another customer walked in.

     “Hey! Hey Mel!” a voice hissed.

     She turned to the door to see that a very unusual petpet had entered the shop - a huge Hasee, seemingly made entirely out of jelly. His whole body wobbled in an oddly mesmerising way as he walked. But he wasn’t the one who had spoken - she looked down to his feet to see a familiar Wraith Kyrii. Her friend, Jamie!

     Frankly, she was glad she recognised him; Jamie loved visiting that creepy lab, so he was always surprising her with new colours and even the occasional change of species. He had really spooked her when he turned Wraith, much to his amusement. That explained the weird petpet too - she knew Jamie took him to be zapped as well, despite Mel’s warnings that a deranged Kookith was unlikely to have any substantial scientific experience.

     She quickly approached him. “Jamie! I’m so glad to see you. What is happening?”

     “I have absolutely no idea. Have you seen outside? It’s like we’ve all swapped places with our petpets!” he whispered.

     “I know! I looked inside the Kadoatery, and there’s just loads of Aishas sitting in cages, and I’m pretty sure the Usul who owns the Petpet Shop was being sold there!”

     “Don’t get me started. We headed over from Meridell, which is now being governed by the Turmaculus, by the way. Incidentally, King Skarl is now sleeping in the Turmaculus’ glade. Although, to be fair, he actually looked pretty happy about it. I guess he’s not been shrunk down like the rest of us, and now he just gets to sleep instead of dealing with the whole business of repairing Meridell’s struggling economy...Although judging by the reception my last joke got, I feel sorry for anyone who tries to wake him up,” Jamie replied, smirking.

     “It’s not funny Jamie! What if we’re stuck like this forever?” Mel hissed.

     “Oh come on, Mel. It is a little funny. On our way here, I saw a Slorg wearing an evening gown and a single shoe,” Jamie seemed to give up any pretence of seriousness at this thought, bending over and laughing hysterically.

     Mel scowled, glaring at him. Why could he never take anything seriously?

     Finally, he stopped laughing, wiping the tears from his eyes.

     “Sorry, sorry...Just that Slorg, you know. Anyway, I’m sure we won’t be stuck like this forever. Eventually, the faeries are sure to notice and get this fixed for us.”

     “Oh what, like they fixed putting Faerieland back in the sky? I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the faeries don’t exactly excel at short term solutions. To be honest, as long as the petpets still do quests for them, they’ll probably just stick it on their long list of ‘things to sort out later’, somewhere below ‘making Faerieland fly again’ and ‘teaching Marina some more reliable healing spells’,” Mel snapped.

     Jamie straightened, and sighed, “Yeah, I suppose you’re right...”

     Before he could continue, Cuddles’ voice interrupted him, “Aww aren’t they adorable Ad? Look at them chittering away to each other.”

     Mel and Jamie turned to see the Faellie and Hasee stood next to them, each holding a bag of baked goods.

     “Ad? What kind of name is Ad?” Mel asked incredulously, before starting to eat the iced cookie Cuddles passed to her.

     “Urgh. Sometimes when I take him to the petpet lab, that Kookith presses a button and a name just gets printed out...It’s weird. He gets really mad if you don’t accept the name suggestion. Once he actually bit me just because I said I wasn’t going to go around shouting Pooky McDroolish in public. Anyway, last time it was ‘Your Ad Here’. Ad is his nickname,” Jamie explained, before turning back to the two petpets who were now chatting to each other. “It sure is weird watching them talk. I wonder if they do this all the time.”

     Mel nodded, still nibbling her cookie, but now paying attention to the conversation.

     “So, what are your plans today, Ad?” Cuddles was asking.

     “I’ve been thinking of heading over to the lab actually! This jelly form is a bit of a hassle to be honest. I keep accidentally absorbing random objects off the ground. And perhaps something interesting might happen to Jamie over here too.”

     Jamie froze, staring at Ad with wide eyes. “Oh no, oh no,” he muttered.

     Mel looked to him with concern. “What’s the matter? You get zapped all the time.”

     “Yes, but that petpet ray isn’t exactly reliable!” he exclaimed, rubbing his paws together anxiously, and glancing furtively towards the door as if planning an escape.

     “Well why do you take your petpet then? That’s not very responsible.”

     “Oh, don’t start with that again! Anyway, shut up, let’s listen.”

     “You are much braver than me,” Cuddles said. “I’m far too scared to go near that thing.”

     “It’s more fun than you might think. Why don’t you come with us today? You don’t have to get zapped, but it’ll be a fun trip. The island around the lab is actually quite nice, and the boat journey there is very lovely,” Ad offered.

     “Actually, I’ll do that. I’ve not got any other plans for the day, and it’s been a while since we had a catch-up.”

     ------------

     The group had journeyed by boat to the lab, which was tucked away on a surprisingly scenic tropical island. They walked through the doors, with Mel and Cuddles both taking in the gloomy interior, which was packed with strange scientific equipment. In the centre of the room, the famous ray was pointed at a metal platform. Off to the side, a Kookith was typing away on a console, and cackling to himself. Mel shuddered - everything about the place seemed threatening.

     Hearing their footsteps, the Kookith looked up, his face breaking out into a wild grin. “Here to get zapped are you? Step up onto the platform! Petpets through there of course!” He gestured towards a narrow gap in the wall, as Ad approached the platform confidently.

     “Come on,” Jamie muttered, leading Mel to the passage. They slipped through, emerging in a dimly lit alcove. A very makeshift looking ray was hooked to the ceiling, wobbling precariously. To the side, was a cardboard box, with frayed wires trailing up to the ray. A Scorchio was crouched next to the box, examining the battered Achyfi cans littering its surface with a scowl on his face.

     “Wow this looks professional,” Mel whispered sarcastically.

     Jamie was examining the room with rising horror. “I’ve never actually been in here. I assumed it was the same as the other one. I’m surprised this even works.”

     At this, the Scorchio looked up, still looking deeply unimpressed. He had a similar wild look to the Kookith outside, but it was somewhat tempered by how miserable he looked.

     “Oh hello. I would offer you a zap, but whilst I’m not one for scientific ethics usually, even I wouldn’t recommend trying this ray out.” He sighed, putting down a can. “Achyfi cans, really? I assumed my Kookith knew better than this.”

     Mel stared at him skeptically, “With all due respect, sir, he is a Kookith.”

     The scientist glared at her. “Yes, and now he’s running my lab!” he snapped. “I assumed spending time with me would give him a basic grasp of scientific principles, but evidently I was mistaken. Now it falls to me to fix this cursed ray and put Neopia back to normal.”

     “What do you mean?” Jamie asked, aghast. “Is the Kookith somehow responsible for this?”

     Outside, a loud zap was heard, and the Scorchio put his head in his hands.

     “He’s been at it all day...He’s having the time of his life using my ray, and looking at this I’m not surprised. But to answer your question yes, he is responsible.” He pointed to a large purple scorch mark on the ground. “The foolish creature used this ray on a Captive Shadow Wraith last night. Wraiths are notoriously magically unstable as is, and when it was zapped, the uncontrolled electricity from the ray combined with its resonant magic and created some kind of...Hmm, let’s call it an electromagical wave. It rippled across Neopia in a matter of seconds, and well I’m sure I don’t need to explain what happened after that.”

     “Seriously?” Mel asked, horrified. “So how are you planning to fix it? I don’t want to stay like this forever!” Jamie nodded in agreement.

     The scientist simply scowled again, and resumed tinkering with the console. “Because, I, on the other hand, am perfectly content to remain a petpet forever? For your information, that is exactly what I am trying to figure out! Obviously, if I knew how to fix it, I would have done so already. But this abomination of a lab ray hardly came with blueprints…I have no idea how it even functions to begin with.”

     He looked up again, and then froze, staring at Jamie as if seeing him for the first time. His eyes lit up, regaining their wild intelligence.

     “What?” Jamie asked, shuffling uncomfortably.

     The Scorchio grinned. “I may have an idea. It’s possible we could simply repeat what happened...After all, you are a Wraith too, are you not? Perhaps by zapping you, we can replicate the original wave and reverse its effects.” Despite having looked so defeated moments ago, he now looked positively gleeful.

     “Oh no...I am not getting under that thing, no way,” Jamie hissed, backing away towards the entrance.

     “Well I suppose we’ll all just have to stay petpets forever then, seeing as you’re too selfish to help,” the Scorchio replied snidely.

     “Jamie, please,” Mel pleaded. “I know it’s scary, but you send Ad here all the time, right? It can’t be that dangerous.”

     Jamie paused in his retreat, looking ashamed. “Ad has been fine...But he has had predecessors who have been, erm, less fortunate.”

     “And you still came back?!” Mel yelled, horrified. “No wonder the PPL has such a problem with this ray!”

     Jamie rubbed his temples. “I know, I know, I’m terrible. But look at that scorch mark? What even happened to the Wraith?”

     “Oh the Wraith was fine,” the scientist cackled, sensing he had nearly snared his prey. “It scuttled away from here - obviously much bigger than usual - but otherwise unchanged.”

     Jamie sighed deeply, looking defeated, before slowly approaching the ray and staring up at it dubiously. “I really hope this works.”

     The Scorchio rubbed his hands together, before leaning in to examine the console. “Hmm, it would really help if these buttons were labelled...I guess I’ll just press the red one.”

     “Wait wha-” Jamie began, but was cut off as the ray emitted a dazzling beam of energy. The moment it hit him, a strange sound reverberated through the area, and a wave of dark purple energy pulsed outwards.

     Mel froze, terrified, as the wave hit her. She was engulfed by a rushing sensation, and for the second time that day, her world turned dark.

     ------------

     “Well I’m pleased to say the experiment was a success. I estimated only a 31.4% chance of that actually working.”

     Mel opened her eyes to find the Scorchio staring down at her, and Jamie sprawled out nearby. She glanced around, realising they were in the central room of the laboratory once more. Even better, it seemed they’d been returned to their regular sizes.

     Jamie sat up abruptly, glaring at the scientist, “What do you mean, ‘only a 31.4% chance’?”

     “Ah yes, well it was much more likely it would simply turn you into soot. That ray is a scientific travesty.” The Scorchio looked completely unashamed, already walking back to his computers. “I will have to monitor my Kookith’s work more closely in the future.”

     Jamie opened his mouth, looking furious, but then bowed his head in resignation. “I suppose it’s pointless to argue with him,” he said, addressing Mel instead.

     “At least we’re back to normal,” Mel agreed. She even had her favourite dress on again.

     A chirping sound echoed through the laboratory, and Mel looked over to see the Kookith, Cuddles, and Ad trotting out from the gap in the wall, all thankfully the right size again. She noticed the Kookith had an expression that could only be described as sad, as he reluctantly approached the scientist.

     “Yes, the fun is over now,” the Scorchio said, patting the Kookith affectionately. “You and I will be having words once our guests leave. You will be requiring closer supervision going forward.” The little petpet squeaked in objection.

     “So you’re still a Jelly Hasee I see?” She turned back to see Jamie picking up Ad, as Cuddles flew up to her shoulder and nuzzled her.

     “How would you like to stay that way?” Jamie continued, and Ad wobbled more rapidly, seemingly enthused by the suggestion.

     “Swearing off the petpet lab ray then?” Mel asked with a smirk.

     “Can you blame me?”

      The End.

 
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