Voice of the Neopian Pound Circulation: 111,439,808 Issue: 182 | 17th day of Running, Y7
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Needed Beginnings: Rorro and Toragi - Part Two

by tdyans


"Rorro, I have a surprise for you!" Angela called out as she entered the cozy Neohome.

     The yellow Kacheek sat up from where he was lounging on the couch in their living room, his interest piqued by the triumphant tone of his owner's voice. "What is it?" he asked as she approached, holding something behind her back.

     The girl grinned as she swung her hands around to the front, proudly displaying the bottle that she held-- a bottle filled with a strange liquid in alternating colors of gray and pink that seemed to swirl and throb. Rorro's face fell. It wasn't what he'd been expecting, and he found himself repeating in a less excited tone, "What is it?"

      "It's called a…." The girl paused to dig a crumpled scrap of paper from her jeans pocket. "Trans-mog-rif-ic-ation potion. And this one's specially for Kacheeks."

     Rorro just gave her a skeptical look.

      "I looked it up, Rorro. Trans-- whatever." She looked at the piece of paper again. "It means, 'To change into a different shape or form, especially one that is fantastic or bizarre.'"

     Rorro was beginning to get the idea, and he didn't like it one bit. "Angela-- "

      "Rorro, I got it for free-- can you believe it?" In her excitement, the girl did not seem to notice her pet's growing discomfort. "Some guy on the street just handed it to me, said it would make my pet into something really special, and then walked away. Weird, huh?"

      "Yeah, weird. A little too weird, don't you think?" The Kacheek was finally able to get a word in edgewise, and his temper was fraying. "I seem to recall you teaching me not to accept things from strangers…."

      "Oh, Rorro, don't be silly. Of course I wouldn't just take it without any questions asked. That's why I looked up the name and found out what it meant; and it matches up with just what he said-- it'll change you into something 'fantastic.'"

      "'Or bizarre,'" Rorro grumbled back.

      "Come on, Rorro," Angela said, exasperated, "you don't want to be a plain yellow Kacheek all your life, do you?"

     Rorro shuffled his feet. "Well, no… but what about that spotted paint brush we've been saving up for?"

     Angela rolled her eyes. "Rorro, there are tons of spotted Kacheeks in Neopia. This is your chance to be something really special."

      "And… that's what you want?"

     The girl nodded, and then, hesitantly, the Kacheek reached out his paws and took the bottle from her hands. He removed the cork and a noxious scent floated upward. He looked at his owner one more time, saw her excitement, and he could not deny her. He turned back to the bottle, held his nose, tilted back his head and poured the foul, slimy liquid in, feeling it course down his throat and seep into his veins….


      "Where are we going, Angela?"

      "Nowhere, Rorro," the girl said tersely, not even looking down at him as she made her way through the Neopia Central crowds with the Kacheek in tow. She seemed to have changed so much in the last few days…. Of course, she wasn't the only one, he reminded himself with chagrin, as he looked down at his now-gray paws and felt his two sharp fangs bite painfully into his lower lip.

     He could hardly recall what he looked like now. He had dared to look in a mirror only once since his transformation and had vowed to never do so again. He often still caught himself picturing himself as a normal yellow Kacheek instead of that… creature that he had seen. But he did remember Angela's gasp when she saw his change. That quick intake of breath that had revealed so many things at once-- shock, fear, disgust. It echoed around his mind, hollow and haunting, refusing to let him forget what she had seen, even if he could forget what he had.

     It was only one gasp-- that was all. After that, after he had run from the room to see what was wrong and after he returned again to the living room where she still stood, she had composed herself. She didn't gasp again at his reappearance. But he couldn't forget it. He heard it again and again each time he saw her, more and more with the silence that seemed to reign oppressively over all of their time together now. They ate meals in silence, Angela refusing to look up and meet his pleading eyes. They sat in silence in the living room every evening, each reading a different book on opposite ends of the couch. When she did speak to him, her voice was formal and reserved as if they hardly knew each other, or harsh and annoyed as if he had been pestering her all day.

     He was about to open his mouth to try to speak to her again when he looked up and saw what they were walking toward. Horror-struck, he halted abruptly, swinging his mouth open and shut several times before he could finally spit out the words, "Angela-- the pound? No!"

     As his owner stopped and spun around to face him, everything seemed to move in slow motion for Rorro. He wished more than anything to see the same shock that he was feeling reflected in her own features, for her to laugh and chide him for thinking such a thing, for her to point to the bakery next door. Anything. But when he finally saw her face, he found only sad resignation in it. He took a few steps back, shaking his head. "Angela…."

      "Rorro, come on. Don't make this harder on both of us."

      "Angela, why? I-- you still have that Neopoints saved up. We can buy a paint brush and change me back. I don't understand."

     The girl sighed. "Rorro, it's better this way. You're just not the same pet that I created--"

      "Yes, I am. I'm the same old Rorro on the inside, Angela. I'm not any different. Please, can't you see…?" he pleaded desperately, his voice choked by stifled tears.

     She stared at him for a moment, just long enough for him to think that maybe, just maybe, he'd gotten through to her. But then she shook her head, reaching forward to grab his paw and turning back toward the pound without a word.

     The Kacheek allowed her to drag him a few steps forward, and then suddenly the sob that had been perched on the edge of his lips turned to a growl. "No!" He yanked his paw from her hand.

      "Rorro, we just--"

      "No!" he shouted with growing contempt. "No. You have no right to abandon me. I haven't done anything wrong. All I ever did was what you wanted me to do. Well, I'm not following you any more. You don't deserve it! No, I… I'm abandoning you."

     And with that, he turned away from the girl and walked away as quickly as his short legs would carry him, pushing through the oblivious mid-day crowd.

     He told himself not to, but in the end he couldn't help but turn back around one last time, allowing the small hope that she would be following after him, ready to apologize, finally recognizing how wrong she'd been. But when he looked back, he could not even make her out amongst all of the other blurred faces seen through his tear-filled eyes. As he turned back again and continued resolutely on his way, he finally allowed those tears to fall.



     The voice that broke through the Kacheek's wandering thoughts was a low rumble, yet distinctly feminine. He spun around slowly to see Toragi sitting outside the entrance to the box that he'd made his home. The red Kougra was still except for her tail, which waved rhythmically back and forth over the ground. She stared at him, unblinking, with the same unreadable expression that she always seemed to wear. Rorro stared back into her large silvery eyes for a few moments, feeling, even as he told himself that it was foolish, as if some strange connection passed between them through their two silent gazes. Then his eyes wavered and fell away and the moment was broken, scattered into pieces so small that he wondered again if it had been there at all in the first place.

     Toragi spoke again then. "They want to see you," she said simply. "Feruli and the others."

     Whatever he'd been feeling before was instantly forgotten as he stood with a growl and brushed past her. "Oh, what do they want now?"

     He'd known something was going on today. Feruli had been overly cordial, refusing to rise even to Rorro's best bait; Silviana had kept her wisecracks about the Kacheek to a bare minimum; and Brenner had been more excitable around him than usual, if that was possible. As he stalked toward the center of the junkyard encampment, Rorro swung a quick look over his shoulder to the Kougra walking after him with her smooth and sinuous gait. Toragi… well, Toragi hadn't acted any differently, at least not as far as he could tell, but then she never did.

     So, something was up. No doubt he was about to be reprimanded for something or other. Or maybe he was about to be told that he wasn't welcome any more. Well, he told himself, you can't say you haven't been expecting it. It's not as if you need them anyway. At the same time, he couldn't seem to help the knot that he felt forming in the pit of his stomach, twisting tighter as the others came into view, huddled together and whispering to each other. He couldn't help either the picture of Angela that flashed through his mind. To be rejected again….

      "Rorro!" Brenner yipped, running an excited circle around the Kacheek as he approached. "We've got a surprise for you!" Rorro looked up at the group that was gathered and waiting for him: Cap and Allegra, Feruli and Silviana, Brenner, of course, and now Toragi as well as she wove her way around him to join them. Except for her, they were all struggling to suppress smiles, and obviously failing. Rorro boiled inside. How happy they all were to be rid of him.

     Feruli stepped forward. "Rorro, we have something to give you." The Eyrie looked up at Silviana, who was perched on his shoulders as usual. With a wink and a grin, the impish Zafara reached into the ruff of fur around Feruli's neck and pulled out… a paintbrush! She tossed the brush toward Rorro, who caught it unthinkingly in his paws.

     He stared down quietly at the yellow paint brush as if unable to look up. Feruli cleared his throat after a few moments. "We pulled together all of the Neopoints we've made in the last couple of months to buy it. So now you can get back to your old self again." Still the Kacheek did not look up.

     When he finally did lift his head, his expression was not one of joy or excitement as the others had been expecting, though it was difficult to say what emotion it did contain. He simply seemed to stare at all of them blankly, as if not knowing what to feel or to say. After a few more uncomfortable seconds of waiting, it was Silviana who finally prompted him, with all of her usual bluntness. "Well? Aren't you gonna say thanks?"

     Rorro's blank stare moved to focus on her, and then, as if something had finally snapped back into place, his expression quickly contorted itself into its familiar scowl. "Yeah, thanks. Thanks a lot," he groused. "So, I guess this means I've gotta be nice to all of you now, huh?"

     The others' expressions were transformed into frowns just as quickly. "It's a gift, you little grouch!" the Zafara exclaimed. "No strings attached."

      "Yeah. Sure. Whatever." Rorro chuffed in disbelief. Then he turned on his heel and walked briskly away from them, tucking the brush beneath one arm and making his way toward the junkyard's exit.

      "Why that little--!" Feruli took a few steps forward as if to follow after him.

      "Feruli." Cap's gentle yet commanding voice stopped him. "Let him go."

      "Cap, he-- he--!" the Eyrie sputtered in exasperation. "How can he--?"

     Cap just shook his head sadly and sighed. "We all show our pain in different ways, Feruli."

      "I'd like to show him some pain," Silviana quipped under her breath.

      "What are we supposed to do, Cap?" Feruli growled. "Just let him keep moping around forever? We've all had enough!" At that he turned his head to look at the others, expecting their agreement, but when he did he noticed that someone was missing. He swung his head back around to spot Toragi slinking silently toward the exit, looking for all the world like a hunter stalking her prey. "Hey, where's she going?"

     Cap stared after her as well until she disappeared from sight. "I don't know," he said after a moment, shaking his head slightly. "But let her go, too."

To be continued...

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Other Episodes

» Needed Beginnings: Rorro and Toragi - Part One
» Needed Beginnings: Rorro and Toragi - Part Three

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