Where there's a Weewoo, there's a way Circulation: 197,796,040 Issue: 1004 | 22nd day of Running, Y26
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The Spring Storm


by greencheese79

--------

It was spring in Terror Mountain, but that did not mean no more snowfalls. In fact, some of the worst snow storms were known to hit the peaks in the early spring. One final burst of winter before milder temperatures and calmer weather settled into the region. Today was one of those storms...

     *****

     "No school today!" Rosie yelled from the bottom of the stairs. "It's a snow day!" Derek was still lying lazily under his covers and bulged his eyes open upon processing the news. He swung himself out of bed and looked out his window.

     "Derek! Did you hear?" His little sister repeated, now just outside his door.

     "Yes!" the Blue Bruce called back excitedly. His sister shrieked just as enthusiastically and ran back downstairs. Derek knew some heavy snow was coming, but enough to cancel school? That rarely happened in Happy Valley even though snow storms frequented the region. A storm that bad was definitely worth checking out. Derek ran downstairs, grabbed his jacket and was almost out the door when he was suddenly interrupted.

     "Where do you think you're going?" His mom asked from the kitchen.

     "Outside," Derek said.

     "Uhm, no. It's storming out there. Besides, you haven't eaten breakfast yet," she said.

     "Really?! But this is the best time to go out!" He tried, but knew it was a losing battle. He hung up his jacket and maundered into the kitchen. He couldn't stop thinking about what he was missing outside.

     His dad sat at the kitchen table with a copy of the Neopian Times, sipping on a cup of hot Java. In the next chair over was his sister, a Striped Bruce, who was pouring herself a bowl of Neocrunch cereal.

     "Why the long face? I thought you'd be excited about the news," his father said, looking up from the paper.

     "I would if mom didn't keep me cooped up in here like a prisoner," Derek answered.

     "Well, maybe your dad could take you out in the backyard after breakfast," his mom said.

     "Oh, me too!!" Rosie shouted out, dribbling some milk on the table.

     "Ugh. Really?! I wanted to play with Chad and Chesney!" Derek pleaded.

     "If your dad comes along," his mother insisted.

     "But he's just going to embarass me!" Derek said. It sounded harsh, but he was getting too old to have his dad tag along making corny jokes that only he found funny.

     "Derek!" His mother snapped.

     "Hey! I resemble that comment!" His dad joked. "But I can't go anyway. I need to open up the Ice Arena. Snow or shine, Battledomers don't take days off from their training."

     "Then you will have to wait for the storm to die down. I'll be working from home today and I'm a bit swamped," his mom said. She was an Events Coordinator for Happy Valley, and apart for the winter celebrations, spring was always the busiest time of year for visitors since snow was melting everywhere in Neopia but on Terror Mountain. "You will have to watch your sister."

     "Outside?" Derek hoped. Why not try? His mother glared at him. Guess not. He was not feeling too hungry and returned to his room.

     "Derek?" Rosie called a little while later, knocking at his door before entering. She was holding a board game.

     "What's the point of knocking if you're just going to come in anyway?" Derek said. Still feeling irritable.

     "Because you want me to knock," Rosie said.

     "I don't want you coming in," Derek said, not looking over from the window.

     "You have to. Dad just left and mom says you will play Cobrals and Ladders with me." Rosie shook the box in the air.

     "What?! No!" Derek protested, turning around. "How about we play Armanda? Or read comics. Quiety. To ourselves."

     "No!" Rosie screamed. She knew the right pitch to attract her mother's attention. After all, Derek wasn't being fair.

     "I hope you two are playing nice up there. I can't be distracted," their mother called.

     "Uh, ya!" Derek called back. "We're playing Cobrals and Ladders!" He glared at his sister, who gave him a big smile. She started setting up the board game. Derek turned back to the window to check out the storm.

     Derek saw a couple dark figures walking in the distance. It was Chad and Chesney, his friends from across the road. He opened the window and called down. Rosie ran over to the window and began making snowballs out of the freshly accessible snow.

     "It's packing snow! We can make snowballs!" She laughed. "Or snow forts..." Derek desperately wanted to go out now. Chad and Chesney looked up.

     "Coming out?" They called back.

     "Can't. Need to watch my sister," Derek said.

     "The Larson kids have challenged us to a game of Snow Wars. There's four of them and only two of us. We need recruitments." The Larson kids were skilled at throwing snowballs with pinpoint accuracy, and their ambush techniques were second to none. They remained undefeated in the neighbourhood and Derek really wanted to beat them. He looked over at his sister, who was now making a minature snowman.

     "Rosie, you're getting bigger now. You don't need me to watch you anymore, right?" Derek asked.

     "No, but I want to play with you," she replied honestly.

     "I know, but what if I promise to play with you this afternoon? And, as an added bonus, I'll let you look at my card collection while I'm gone." Rosie always asked to look at his NeoDeck, but he kept it hidden and out of her reach. It seemed like a good bargaining strategy.

     "I want to play in the snow too," Rosie said, ignoring the bribe.

     "How about I let you look at my Queen Fyora holographic card? I keep it in a different album." He showed her both albums.

     "Will you give me your Queen Fyora card?" Rosie asked.

     "No, that one's really rare, but you can have any of my doubles and I'll let you read through my comics. I promise I won't be too long," Derek said. Rosie appeared pleased with the agreement until Derek announced to his friends that he was coming out and started to creep downstairs.

     "But I wanted to play with you today," Rosie said. Derek's shouders slumped. How was he going to convince her? Chad and Chesney were already working on the fort.

     "Okay, you can join us, but you have to stay out of the way," Derek said. Rosie was overjoyed and began rhyming off the numerous ways she would be helpful. None of which Derek felt would benefit them, but it would probably not hinder them either. Rosie agreed to stay quiet as Derek pulled their winter attire from the closet. They suited up and snuck outside.

     The wind was strong, but milder than the extremely cold January winds. Though the visibility was low, they were able to quickly locate Chad and Chesney.

     The Chia brothers, as Derek often referred to them as, had already completed the first wall of their fort, which stood as tall as they were high and consisted mostly of snow drifts built up by the storm. Chesney paused from building to go over the rules with Rosie.

     "Ok, so each team has to make three snowmen, and the objective is to sneak into the opponent's camp and knock them over. However, you have to avoid getting hit by a snowball. Once you're hit three times, you're out of the game. The game is over when everyone on your team is out or all three snowmen have been knocked over."

     "And those Larson kids are sneaky, especially the Stealthy and Snow Grundos, Gorax and Gillette. It's hard to spot them," Chad added.

     "Yes, but as soon as you get hit, you have to return to your fort. So make sure to hit them if you see them. The Larson kids have never been beaten, and it would be awesome to win just once against them," Chesney said.

     "Okay," Rosie said, a bit confused. "What's an abjective?" Derek rolled his eyes. Of course she wouldn't understand anything.

     "Nevermind. They just mean it would be good to stay as far back as possible so you don't get hit. You can make us snow balls," Derek said, directing her back a bit. He knew he was being a bit rude, but they didn't have all day to waste explaining the rules.

     "But I can throw some too, right?" Rosie asked.

     "Just leave them to us and look out for the Larson kids sneaking up on us. That will be your job. We will throw the snowballs because we have better aim," Derek said.

     "I can throw snowballs!" Rosie cried.

     "But we are better. I'm five years older than you. It's not your fault that you aren't good yet," Derek said. Rosie grew angry and threw a snowball at him, hitting him on the shoulder.

     "See, I can hit you," she said, smiling proudly.

     "It's hard to hit your target when they're far away or running. And don't throw snowballs at us. We will still lose a life once the game starts, even though we are on the same team," Derek said dismissively as he turned to work on another wall.

     "Don't worry, you can throw snowballs. And I won't be upset if one hits your brother," Chesney whispered to Rosie with a wink.

     The team went to work setting up a fort large and strong enough to conceal them and their snowmen. Once the walls were done, Chesney helped Rosie build a snowman and Chad and Derek built the other two.

     The game started once the flag was placed on the front wall. The Larson kids placed their large, red flag up first, and after some relentless negging, Chad raised a large stick for their flag. They didn't have a flag on hand, and at the end of the day, it didn't matter. The game was now on.

     A snowball flew over the wall and hit Rosie in the face. She began to cry. Derek ran back to her.

     "Rosie, you have to take cover. I told you to stay back!" Derek snapped at her, ignoring the fact that her face stung. Rosie tried to toughen up as a snowball hit Derek on the back of his head.

     "Two hits in two shots!" One of the Larson kids laughed.

     "Oh, this isn't looking good," muttered Chad.

     "Quick, I think I see someone approaching from the left. It's Gillette! She looks like a crawling Abominable Snowball!" Chesney shouted, throwing a few snowballs in her direction. "GOT HER!! YES!!"

     "Nice one, Ches! Look out for Gorax. I'm sure he's close by!" Derek called out, then looked at Rosie. "Go hide behind that wall and make more snowballs!" Rosie wiped her cheek and hid herself. She decided to keep watch as she made snowballs. Something dark caught her attention. Gorax was advancing from the left. Everyone had expected him to take a different route than his sister Gillette. He ran in hard towards the closest snowman.

     "He's coming!!" Rosie yelled, throwing a snowball in his direction. She overthrew the snowball and hit Chesney in the back. Gorax laughed as he plowed through the first snowman. Derek threw a snowball and hit Gorax, who then had to return to his fort.

     "Thanks, kid," Gorax laughed at Rosie. "Sure you're not on our side?"

     "Leave her alone, Gorax. She made a mistake. I still have two lives left!" Chesney shouted, then said to Rosie when Gorax left, "Don't let him get to you. He's just teasing. They take this game very seriously." Chad had left a couple minutes earlier to sneak up on the Larson kids' fort, but came back.

     "I got hit," Chad said. Derek started to feel frustrated and turned back to his sister.

     "I told you not to throw snowballs! You're making us lose!" Derek grumbled under his breath and huddled together with the Chia brothers to discuss strategy. Rosie wanted to yell at him, but didn't. A snowball hit her on her leg. Two hits. Derek looked back and shook his head disapprovingly. She felt like crying.

     Some time passed. The team decided to play more defensively to give Gorax and Gillette some time to cool down. Two attempts were made to infiltrate, but both Grundos got hit and had to return to their fort. Derek hit Gillette and Chesney hit Gorham, a Green Grundo, who usually stayed in his fort.

     "Gorax is making me nervous," said Chad. "I'm surprised he hasn't made an appearance."

     "I think they are waiting for us to make a move. I know I'm starting to feel a bit cold just waiting here," Chesney added.

     "Yeah, it's taking longer than I thought. My mom is going to find out soon that we snuck out," Derek said, then realized that his sister wasn't around. "Where's Rosie?" They looked around their fort and saw no sign of her. All three friends had near encounters of snowballs whizzing by, but thankfully no one was hit.

     "I have to go find her," Derek said. After all, she was his responsibility.

     "You're going to get hit," Chase said.

     "But I can't leave her out here," Derek said, feeling worried. "TIME!! I HAVE TO FIND MY SISTER!" A snowball from nowhere hit his arm. Chesney saw where it came from and threw a snowball at Gorax, who was hiding behind a large snowdrift.

     "That didn't count!" Derek yelled.

     "You're all fair game until someone forfeits or is eliminated! Do you surrender?" A voice from the other fort shouted their way. Chad and Chesney shook their head at Derek.

     "No way!" And with that he sprinted towards his house, dodging snowballs. Chad and Chesney agreed to hold down the fort.

     Derek hoped his sister was safe at home and not lost in the storm. He was now regretting the way he treated her outside. To his relief, Rosie's jacket hung on the wall beside the closet and a "Do Not Enter!" sign hung on her bedroom door. He could hear his mom working in the other room. She did not appear to be wound up, so Rosie had not told on him yet. That was okay. Everything seemed good and he could continue playing. He ran back out to the fort, dodging a couple of snowballs.

     "What's the situation?" Derek asked the Chias.

     "We each got hit, but we managed to hit Gorham again and Gillette is out after she smashed the second snowman. We only have this one left." Chad said, pointing to the snowman they were huddled beside.

     "They have a steady stream of snowballs coming and no one here has any extra lives. I'm not sure we can win this. We haven't even got one of their snowmen yet!" Chesney said. "How's your sister?"

     "She's mad at me. She locked herself in her room," Derek said. He felt a bit ashamed, but it was probably better this way. She was only going to get hurt out here.

     "Aah!!" Chad cried. A snowball thrown by Gorham knocked him out of the game. Chesney eliminated Gorham in retaliation, but made himself vulnerable to Gorax's attack from behind. With Chesney now eliminated, Gorax made a mad sprint to knock over the last snowman. Derek quickly grabbed a snowball and hit Gorax.

     "Well played," said Gorax who was now eliminated. " Just you and Gerry now! And Gerry still has three lives. Good luck!" Gorax walked away laughing with his younger brother Gorham.

     "What do I do?" Derek asked his friends.

     "Sorry, we can't help you or even talk really or we forfeit the game. Good luck," Chesney said. Chad wished him the same.

     Derek looked around. No one appeared to be advancing. No snowballs were being thrown either. Gerry still had three snowmen, he had one. His only hope was to await ambush and hopefully get the first shot. The outcome seemed unlikely. Gerry had the best aim in the neighbourhood, which was why he usually stayed in the fort. Gerry had three lives left. Derek had only one.

     From the corner of his eye, he saw something run behind the short wall behind him, which once protected the first of the fallen snowmen. The snow seemed to grow thicker and the wind more fierce. Derek's heart pounded under his jacket. He held up his arm, waiting for the ambush.

     Looking up, he noticed a huge snowball coming straight down towards him. His rival had thrown the snowball straight into the sky, and Derek now watched as it dropped toward him with pin-point accuracy. But when he hopped to the side to avoid impact, another snowball smacked him in the chest. He looked ahead and saw Gerry, a large Silver Grundo, smirking as he made his slow victorious approach.

     "I thought you would be a bit more of a challenge. You fell for the oldest trick in the book!" Gerry laughed. The other Grundos appeared and began to laugh with Gerry, cheering him on. Derek felt more embarrassed than anything. And disappointed. He really wanted that win and they didn't even come close. "Well, better luck next time." A snowball suddenly hit Gerry on the chest.

     "Yes, better luck next time!" Rosie said, making her appearance. Her white jacket blended her perfectly in with the storm. Derek was never more happy to see her. Chad and Chesney also cheered upon her appearance.

     "I thought you quit. That doesn't count," Gerry said.

     "I didn't quit. I went home to get this jacket so I could sneak up on you. There's no rule about leaving to get changed," Rosie said.

     "I don't recall her forfeiting. I think you said earlier that it's all fair game until someone forfeits," Chesney chimed in. Gerry gritted his teeth in response.

     "It doesn't matter! We can play it this way. I still have two lives left and this little girl only has one. This will be a piece of cake." Gerry gave an obnoxious, but annoyed, laugh.

     "Well, I don't think so," Rosie said and waited for everyone to look at her. "No one is guarding your fort."

     "What do you mean?" Gerry asked, looking nervous.

     "I knocked down all your snowmen. That snowball I threw at you was for laughing at my brother!" Rosie said, holding the Grundo's red flag as proof.

     "Way to go, Rosie!!" Derek yelled, running up to hug his sister. Gorax ran over to their fort and verified that she was telling the truth. Gerry's mouth dropped. He was outsmarted by a six-year-old! Gerry walked up to Rosie.

     "Like a Skuffler on a Spardel, you were the one to watch out for. Congrats, kid." Gerry said, and gave her a friendly pat on her head. Rosie smiled. She gave Gerry their flag.

     It was near lunch time, so the Chia brothers both hugged Derek and Rosie before running home for a warm meal, hooting and hollaring as they ran. Derek and Rosie went home too.

     Derek spent some time that afternoon laying on his bed and staring at the ceiling. He could not believe they beat the Larson kids at Snow Wars! He replayed the events in his head until there was a knock at his door.

     "Come in," Derek said. Rosie came in. "Did you say anything about today to Mom?"

     "No. Mom was busy working when I was eating lunch," Rosie said. She was a little disappointed that she couldn't tell her mom how much fun she had outside with Derek, but she didn't want to get him in trouble.

     "I have something for you," Derek handed Rosie a few cards. "It's a starter kit for you to start your own NeoDeck." Rosie smiled and leafed through the cards. All except the last one were face up. She flipped the last card over. It was a holographic card.

     "Queen Fyora!!" Rosie squeaked, a large smile spreading across her face.

     "Yes, it's a holographic card and very rare," Derek explained. "Just try not to bend it."

     "I won't!" She shot him a stare as though telling him not to point out the obvious. As she studied the card a bit more, her smile started to fade. "Is this just a bribe so I don't tell on you?"

     "No, I was not being nice to you, and worse, I knew at the time I was not being nice to you. But you still protected me and stood up for me even though I should have been the one protecting you. I guess I was just feeling frustrated out there and got too caught up in the game. But that's no excuse. So this is a small way of saying sorry," Derek said. Rosie smiled. It was rare for Derek to say anything nice like he used to. But she knew he loved her. "Oh, and I already told mom the whole story. She's not mad at you, but I'm grounded for the weekend for not listening to her. But at least you can tell mom and dad about how awesome you were today," Derek said. Rosie gave him a big hug, her large smile returning back to her face.

     "Thanks, Derek. You're the best brother ever!" she said.

     "And this is the best day ever," Derek said with an equally big smile. He couldn't believe he was thinking this, but he was proud to be her brother.

     *****

     ...and though the storm outside began to die down, Derek cared very little. He was content to spend the rest of the day with his little sister. There would be many more storms down the road, but it was the sunny days he was going to appreciate a little more.

     The End.

 
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