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Alma the Brave Little Chomby


by rkbear

--------

”Woah, there little one!” Scarlet swooped down and intercepted the little Chomby before she could wander into the cave. “That is no place for you.”

     The Magma Xweetok cradled her carefully in her arms and looked around. Various pets milled around the plateau, but no one seemed to be looking for the toddler. No frantic or worried pets could be seen, just tourists with cameras and the native pets going about their business. Most had come to see the cave. In the distance, she could see the shape of the Concert Hall where her sister and nephew were waiting for her and Tenz.

     Tenz and Forest had wanted to see a concert while they were here. Forest had stayed behind to buy the tickets, and Tenz went with their sister. He’d also wanted to go sightseeing. Scarlet had come on official business, sort of. She was making maps of the area for the royals of Miniglen, one of whom was her sister. Their family had become complicated in the past few years but in the best way.

     “Tenz!” Scarlet shouted to her brother, looking for his two heads in the crowd. His two heads were easy to spot. Hearing his name, he looked up and waved to her. She smiled and waved back, motioning for him to join her. “Tenz!”

     He flew over to her, avoiding the crowd so as not to get his tail stepped on by anyone. Scarlet moved to the side to let others through, those going in or running out. The Mutant looked confused as he landed beside her to see the toddler in her arms.

     “Whose this?” He asked, confused. The Chomby had fallen asleep curled up with her tail laying on her stomach. “Where’d you get her?”

     “Well, you know I always wanted-jeez Tenz,” Scarlet sighed. “I found her. No one seems to be missing her, but we should look around anyway. If we don’t find anyone, we should check with the elders at town hall. They might know who this little one belongs to.”

     ---

      “What’d they say?” Forest asked, as her brother and sister exited the town hall. She watched the two toddlers playing. Door, her adopted son, had come with the trio, of course. He hated to miss out on anything, but having the Chomby girl around had helped. They were getting along extremely well. An improvement since the Chomby hadn’t much enjoyed the flight from the cave to the concert hall.

      “No one has reported a missing pet,” the Magma Xweetok sighed, sitting down by her nephew. Door had run up to show her a stick he’d found. He’d been trying to teach his companion to duel. She smiled at him and pushed him gently toward the other who waited for him.

      “There are a few Chomby children in the village, but none of the elders recognisssed her,” Tenz answered. “They ssssaid they would ssssend a Weewoo to usss if anyone reported a missssing Chomby.”

      “What do we do till then?” Forest asked. “Don’t look at me like that, you two. I already have enough to take care of. Come on.”

      “She likes you,” Scarlet said, as the Chomby hid behind Forest to escape Door. He pursued her excitedly.

      “And you are good with children,” Tenz agreed. “Although we could take her home to mother. She won’t mind.”

      “That worked so well with Door,” Forest agreed sarcastically. “But it would be worth a try. She is easier to get a Weewoo to, anyway.”

      ---

      “Door, I have told you a thousand times, you can not lock Alma in the cupboard,” Hem scolded the Draik. He scolded him gently as the Kau had a soft spot for the little one. He scoops up the Chomby out of the cupboard. Alma smiled at him, thinking this was just a game of hide and seek. Which she’d just lost, but she liked the game anyway. “We have to take her home.”

      “This is home,” Door argued.

      “This may be home for you and me,” Hem acknowledged. Although, really Door wasn’t supposed to be on the boat either. He was a stowaway, and never stayed where he was told to. “But Alma lives on Tyrania. We are waiting for her family to send a Weewoo so we can bring her back to them.”

      “I want her to stay! We have fun!” Door argued, hugging her.

      “Stay!” The Chomby echoed. Hem shook his head, looking up.

      “Alma, I bet I’ll find Forest first,” Hem answered. “One, two-” The Chomby had already run off on her little legs.

      “You’re mean!” Door replied and ran after. “Alma!”

      “So mean,” Hem turned and saw the Maraquan Eyrie in the doorway to the gallery.

      “Your nephew was trying to hide Alma in the cabinets again,” he sighed, pulling out another bowl for dinner. “He is a rascal.”

      “What’s for dinner?” Dred asked, coming into help. Hem was the Eyrie’s best friend, so even though he was first mate he often came down to help in the kitchen.

      “Seaweed pie, Cora brought me some this morning,” He pointed to the big bowl on the counter. Dred raised an eyebrow, the Maraquan Aisha disliked pirates.

      “You sure it's safe,” He joked.

      “I sent Cedar to Tyrania this morning, no news,” The Kau answered, ignoring the joke. “Door is going to be really disappointed when we find her family.”

      “We’ll all be disappointed, but someone misses her, surely,” the Eyrie said. “Although it has been months. Maybe we’ll get to keep her aboard.”

     ---

      “Bad ghost!” Alma insisted as Forest tried to put her down for the night. She’d had to fashion a bed for her out of an old chest. Door was already asleep in his bed. He’d insisted that Alma should sleep in his room. Although the Draik was in trouble for stowing away again and bringing Alma, Forest had complied.

      They were too far from Mystery Island to bring Alma back now. Forest had a job, and she didn’t want to be late. Her ship had been hired to bring a shipment from the island to Terror Mountain. None of them knew what it was, but that hardly mattered. Their job was just to get it there safely.

      Of course, Alma and Door were particularly interested in it. Door out of general curiosity, but Alma seemed to be concerned about it. She’d gotten them all to come down to look at it, but none of them had seen anything out of ordinary about it. This was, of course, frustrating for her.

      “Bad ghost!” She repeated.

      “Bad ghost?” Forest asked, looking over at the Draik. “Did Door tell you a scary story? It’s okay, Alma, there are no ghosts on the ship.”

      “Bad ghost!” Alma tried to climb out of bed, determined to show Forest what she’d seen.

      “Alright, alright,” Forest picked her up and tucked her back in. “I’ll go check it out, okay, now you will stay in bed and go to sleep, okay.”

      “Okay,” she answered grudgingly. She was tired, but she was also sure that Forest wasn’t going to see anything. Door hadn’t seen the ghost either. Alma wasn’t sure she’d seen it at first either, but the Wocky, surprised at being caught, had knocked over a box before disappearing again. She’d try to show them again tomorrow.

     --

      “Alma! Alma, wake up,” she woke with a start and cried out when she saw the ghost floating over her.

      “Bad ghost!” She yelled, jumping out of bed.

      “Shh!” the Wocky replied. “They’ll hear you!”

      “Bad ghost! Bad ghost!” She continued and ran for the door that led to Forest’s cabin. She shook the Aisha, but she waved her away, her antenna growling softly as she rolled away.

      “I already tried that,” The Ghost Wocky told her. “And Hemloch and Dread, but I couldn’t wake them up. Alma, there are bad men on the boat. They want the treasure.”

      “Sleepy tea!” Alma stamped her foot. She looked at the Wocky. “Bad ghost?”

      “No, Alma, I’m not a bad ghost. I-I snuck on the boat to keep an eye on you.” The Chomby looked at her suspiciously. “Alma, I know you don’t remember, but you were supposed to go to the pound to be adopted by an owner when you were big enough. They would give you a name and- well, you were always running off and getting into things, so they decided to give you a name and put you in a different part of the pound, to be adopted.”

      “Adopted?”

      “Yes, Chomby usually can only get adopted on Chomby day, but that’s not the point, you kept wandering off. I was trying to keep an eye on you, but you got in a box that our omelettes come in! I tried to stop them, but well- I’m shy- why am I explaining myself to you, you never listened to me before.” The Wocky shook her head. Her heart was in the right place, but she was beginning to think she should have just said something to someone at the pound when it all happened.

     ---

      Alma was meant to be adopted during the Chomby Carnival. They weren’t sure what colour her scales would turn as she grew, but she had come with a lot of other young Chombies from Tyrania. A lot of young pets came from all over Neopia to the pound to be adopted by owners. Chomby, though, like some of the other pets, could only be adopted from that part of the pound on Chomby day.

      She was not as well behaved as the other Chomby, though. Alma was always getting into trouble, too much trouble to be kept with the others. So they gave her the name Alma and brought her to a happy-looking Pink Uni. The Uni had brought her to a brightly coloured room with two beds.

      Her roommate was a Ghost Wocky who was waiting to be adopted by another owner. Her previous owner was a nice young boy who had adopted her from the same place Alma had been who named her Annika. She’d be picked because of her cherry red fur and fluffy pink collar, the fluffiest of the bunch. She was the first pet he’d ever gotten.

     Annika wasn’t sure why she’d been brought to the pound after several years together, and she didn’t hate her owner for bringing her. He’d painted her ghost one day he’d been so proud, and then one day, he started spending less time with her. Less and less over the next week and months. Their house had been getting crowded, and so she wasn’t too surprised when they went for a walk together and ended up at the pound.

     He didn’t say much to her. She didn’t either, just hugged him and smiled. Annika didn’t cry, she didn’t want to make him sadder than he already was. It didn’t matter the reason, she knew he wanted her to have a new home with someone who had more time for her.

     Annika didn’t hate the pound either. Her house had been pretty crowded. The pound was crowded too, but at least she had her own room. Well, she got her own room till Alma came along. She didn’t mind having Alma there, except that she kept wandering off. Of course the Chomby was always running off whenever people were coming to look for pets to adopt. If she hadn’t, she would have been adopted in no time.

      Then, one day, Alma climbed into a crate, and that crate was shipped back to Tyrania. Annika knew she should say something but was too scared of Dr. Death to say anything. Of course the Techo who ran the “abandon” desk also oversaw the food deliveries. So Annika tried to rescue the little Chomby and got shipped off back to Tyrania with her.

     ---

      When they arrived Alma, who'd had a great nap, was wandering off again! Annika followed her, but being a ghost meant that she could hide from being seen when she wanted to. She was too shy to approach any menacing Tyranians, so she followed the little one trying to keep her out of trouble until a Magma Xweetok scooped her up.

      Annika was just waiting for the right moment to reveal herself, but she was just too shy, and there were always too many pets around. She hoped that they’d give up, bring Alma to the pound, or maybe adopt her themselves, then she could go back to the pound by herself. Of course, she knew she could go back to the pound and leave Alma with them, but she couldn’t bring herself to do it, not until she was sure Alma was safe.

      Of course, when she decided to reveal herself at their next stop because Alma had finally spotted her, the boat was boarded. She’d tried to wake up the others, but the “sleepy tea”, as Alma put it, (which was really just a strong chamomile) was too strong, or maybe Annika was just too quiet. So she went to the only one she knew she could wake up.

     ---

      “Bad guys?” Alma asked.

      “Yes bad guys,” Annika said. “We need to protect the others from the bad guys, but we have to wake the others up. Okay?”

      “Sea! Sea!” Alma said excitedly.

      “Yes, we’re at sea,” Annika answered, misunderstanding the toddler.

      “No, Sea! Sea!” Alma repeated. She reached for the Wocky's paw. “We need Sea.”

      “Water?” Annika replied. “That’s a great idea! Stay here. I’ll go get a bucket. I’ll wake them up, and you will tell them about the bad guys!” She floated off before the toddler could stop her. She didn’t mean water, but that was okay, she’d get “Sea” herself, she was a good swimmer, but first she would wake the Cofferling at the end of Forest’s bed. Matey would slow the bad guys down.

     ---

      “Alma?!” Cora shouted, surprised when she found the little Chomby swimming circles around two boats in the dark. She’d been hesitant to investigate when saw the second ship so close to Forest’s ship. Cora hated pirates, but she had a soft spot for Hemloch.

      He didn’t remember it, or maybe he did, but he never said it, he’d once saved Cora. The young Aisha had ventured too close to Krawk Island and was snagged in a net. Hemlock had found her and freed her. This was something she’d never forgotten, and was special enough to her that she could even forget him for becoming a pirate.

      “Bad guys! Need Sea!” Alma told her. The Chomby had decided if Annika wasn’t going to help her, she was going to help herself. She hadn’t expected Aisha, but she was happy to see her. “Bad guys! Cora help! Sea help!”

      “Bad guys? On the boat?!” Cora repeated. Alma nodded vigorously. “I’ll get Yelsie, how long have you been swimming, Alma?” Alma shook her head, unsure. “Gibbson, help her stay afloat.” The Meturf obediently swam up to the Chomby as his mistress ducked under the waves.

     ---

      The battle was almost over before it began. With Annika waking the pirates with her pail of water unceremoniously and two unexpected Maraquans on board blocking their escape, the rivals knew they were beaten. They sheepishly returned the treasure and returned to their ship, apologising thoroughly. As part of their apology, Forest was given a hefty bag of dubloons, jewels and a few other treasures.

     ---

      “Thank you Cora, Yelsie,” Forest said as the Maraquans prepared to leave the ship. Yelsie was “Sea”, of course.

      “Happy to help!” the Maraquan Hissi replied as she flew down, followed by Cora, who simply slipped over the bow. “See you later, Alma!”

      “Now, Annika,” the captain turned to the ghost. “Would you care to explain why you are also on my ship?”

      “It’s kind of a long story,” the ghost said nervously.

      “It’s been a long night,” Dred replied. “But we are all up now.”

     --

     And so it was decided after a long night, and even longer story, that Alma was going to stay right where she was. As if to seal the deal, a cute little Seece was given to her to keep her company whenever she was left on Mystery Island with the rest of her family. That didn’t happen often, as Door made sure his sister was never left behind.

     --

     And as for Annika, she went back to the pound. They’d offered to let her stay, and she thought about it, but it was just too crowded. So she went back to Neopia Central and was adopted.

     In her new home, she has only one sibling! Her new owner even gave her her own room and her own Petpet. Her last Weewoo let them know that she was going to be a Battledomer, and someday she might even be painted, they were saving up for a faerie paint brush, so she could still fly. She couldn’t be happier.

      The End.

 
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