Stand behind yer sheriff Circulation: 111,440,439 Issue: 192 | 26th day of Hunting, Y7
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Same Thing, Only Different


by huggsy_666

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As Skeiths lazed in the basking warmth of the sun, Unis sat grooming themselves vainly, Kacheeks bounded in the refreshing heat with a cheerful, playful attitude and a prance in their step.

     Well, every Kacheek except Eddie. Eddie stormed down the streets of Neopia Central, every step making the ground almost tremble- a startling feeling from such a small paw.

     "Hello there! It's great weather today!" an extremely friendly Blumaroo cheered to the furious blue Kacheek.

     "Yeah, great,'' Eddie grumbled back miserably, trying to control the rage that warmed his blood to volcanic temperatures.

     Later that day the weather had started to cool, but Eddie's anger had not. He wished that he could calm down, but the fire of anger just burned ever brighter, and he knew all hope of that happening was gone.

     "Hello, Eddie!" grinned Franky, a yellow Wocky who had worked at Pizzaroo for most of his life. He had come to regard Eddie as a friend- or as close to a friend as Franky got.

     "The usual, Franky," the saddened Kacheek grumbled into his paws as he rested his tired body on the small seat of the Pizzaroo. "You know what, Franky? I'm tired of this. I am tired of always being considered 'happy'. It's not fair! Kacheeks can be more than just happy little skippers, bakers, and the like. I mean, it's not like we're Skeiths!" At this point he growled, pointing to a large, round Skeith with more gut than a collection of Snow Beasts, "Look at that Bubba Skeith over there. Just like all the others: fat, dumb, and lazy. They never bother to move any further than it takes to get their next meal or get more comfortable... why they oughta-"

     Suddenly, the door of Pizzaroo shot open, rattling the hinges it had been tightly screwed onto. Emerging in the doorway were two pets, smartly dressed in business suits and dark sunglasses.

     On the left, an Island Uni flashed her badge.

     "I am Agent Tuesday," she said quickly, "and this is Agent Moonrunner," pointing at the Plushie Flotsam on her left. "We're with the NAANS and you are under arrest for Neopet Stereotyping."

     Eddie stared for a moment, before stammering, "What in Sloth's name is NAANS?"

     "Neopian Agency Against Neopet Stereotyping," Agent Moonrunner replied in a smooth, deep baritone voice. He then pulled out a citation booklet, scribbled a few lines, tore off the sheet and handed it to Eddie.

     "Eddie Kacheek, you are hereby cited for stereotyping Neopets," intoned Agent Tuesday. "You are hereby directed to appear in the Court of Judge Bean Quiggle on the 22nd day of the month of Eating, at the 1200 NST. That is all."

     As the Agents departed, Moonrunner turned slightly and said, "You should be more considerate of your fellow Neopians and their unique qualities. Have a nice day."

     Eddie stood dumbfounded, the citation dangling limply from his paw. Franky's eyes looked at the door through which the agents left, whistled slowly, then mumbled, "Eddie, I think you're in trouble..."

     ***

     The 22nd day of Eating was a busy day. Eddie rushed to make the appointed time at the Hearing Hall in central Neopia, having woken up late- thankfully he managed to arrive in time, and asked a bored skunk Eyrie secretary for directions to Judge Bean's courtroom. Within seconds he was hurrying up the flight of stairs to the left, still under the tired-looking assistant's gaze.

     When Eddie opened the door, he was somewhat surprised at what he saw. He'd expected to see the judge and a couple of court officials, pay a fine, and leave.

     Instead, the chamber was quite large; the judge's bench was at the far end, flanked by a witness stand and a court secretary's desk. Whilst the judge's bench and witness stand were empty, there was a young Darigan Tonu examining his writing tablet at the desk- meanwhile, at the prosecution desk, a smartly-dressed cloud Acara was sorting through her notes, whilst to the right (the defendants' table) a portly gold Meerca was doing likewise. Behind the desks, rows of benches were placed for spectators. It seemed that word had gotten around, for the benches were fairly full. The juror's box to the left, though, was empty. It appeared this case was going to be decided by the judge.

     Taking a deep breath, Eddie started forwards. Eyes were cast in Eddie's direction as he furtively made it down the centre aisle. The gold Meerca waved and hissed at Eddie to hurry up.

     "About time you got here, Mr. Edward. I expected you here an hour ago!" he exclaimed, before sticking out a paw in Eddie's direction. "Bartholomew Q. Meerca, Attorney at Law." He announced it formally, almost regally. "I am here to defend you in this case."

     "Wha, wha, wha...?" Eddie gibbered.

     "This is a landmark case! You are the FIRST to be tried under the anti-stereotyping statutes. Didn't you know?"

     "Eeep!" squeaked Eddie, nerves failing him. "N-no, I didn't!"

     "Look over there, Mr. Edward." The Meerca pointed to an observation window above and behind the judge's bench. Behind the veiled windows were some shadows moving about, one of which was very recognizable.

     "Queen Fyora?" whispered Eddie.

     "The same. Although faeries do not involve themselves in the affairs of Neopia as a rule, this case drew her interest. She is here to observe, not judge. You'll have enough of a time with Judge Bean Quiggle. He's a tough one."

     "All rise!" bellowed the security guard Kougra. "The honourable Judge Bean Quiggle residing." Moments later, the doors crept open, but no one could be seen.

     "Good evening," a bold voice boomed suddenly, startling the Kacheek. "I am Judge Bean Quiggle. Now, if you will all be seated, we shall begin."

     Nervously Eddie crept into the wooden chair that had been laid out for him. With an exasperated sigh the Kacheek rested his elbows on the table in front of him. "This is such a joke..." he finally whispered to himself. "It's gotta be…"

     After a few moments of relative silence, the cloud Acara rose from her desk and stalked across the room, a glare like cold steel fixed on Eddie. "Your honour," growled the Acara, breaking the quiet, "this Kacheek, Edward, has been accused of the... the... the ATROCITY of stereotyping our most unique of gifts! The ability to be our own person!"

     "I object!" bellowed Bartholomew, but his objection had not swayed Judge Bean, who nodded at the Acara to continue.

     "This Kacheek," she stated, "is the first to be tried under the new law of Anti-Stereotyping, and we shall not let this slide!"

     "This is ridiculous!" argued Eddie, thrusting himself to his feet. "I HATE stereotyping! I don't want to have to be a cheery little happy Kacheek seven days a week!"

     "Yet you still say, and I quote: 'Look at that Bubba Skeith over there. Just like all the other Skeith: fat, dumb, and lazy.' If that's not stereotyping, what are we in court for?!"

     "I-...I-..." Eddie sighed knowingly, retaking his seat with his head hung. With a nod the Acara swivelled on her heel to face the Judge.

     "If I may, I would like to call Franky the Pizzaroo worker."

     Eddie's eyes widened.

     "Franky?!"

     The yellow Wocky squeaked and jumped up at hearing his name called. After a moment he trudged up to the witness stand, eyes furtively and fearfully cast across the people on the courtroom- he had no sooner sat down in the witness box when the Acara was on the attack.

     "Franky Wocky, is it TRUE that Eddie accused ALL Skeith of being fat and lazy?"

     "Er… erm…" stammered Franky, "uh… well, yeah. But he was just-"

     "THANK YOU." The prosecutor cut off Franky and turned to the judge. "As you can see, even Eddie's friend admits that he is guilty of stereotyping."

     "I object!" the portly golden Meerca, Bartholomew, cried. Quickly he rose from his seat. "Your Honor," he drawled, now taking a slower pace, "it is obvious that the prosecution is mistaken in the assessment of my client. They confuse a fact of life for stereotypical prejudice!"

     There was gasps and murmurs from the audience to this spectacle, as Bartholomew carried on.

     "Let's face it! Skeith are fat and lazy! Pteri must fly! Kikos are round, and Acaras are cute and swim-"

     At this the prosecutor, Wendela Acara, bolted out of her chair and faced the portly gold Meerca fiercely.

     "Listen, you rotund, over-puffed, tail-sitting, pompous Negg-muncher! I am NOT cute! I am a professional! Don't you ever-"

     "ORDER, ORDER!" shouted Judge Bean. "If I have ONE MORE outburst in MY courtroom, I shall hold BOTH of you in contempt. DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR?"

     Both attorneys fell silent immediately and sat.

     "Good," stated the Judge, adjusting his glasses and then folding his striped hands. "Continue please, Attorney Wendela."

     "We must respect diversity," the Acara resumed. "We can't just go around assuming a Neopian is as their appearance dictates. Observe," She indicated a row of witnesses, and nodded shortly. "Melissa is a rainbow Uni who is a sanitation engineer. She collects refuse and helps keep Neopia clean. She is not a prissy Uni that hangs out in a parlour all day."

     Melissa, who was fluffing her mane unconsciously, smiled shyly. Wendela continued.

     "Alphonse is a Darigan Techo. She is also a nanny who runs a day-care centre."

     Alphonse nodded and smiled.

     "Gargon5 is a mutant Grundo, who partakes in ballet and flower-pressing"

     Gargon5 beamed and showed off his tutu.

     "Finally, here's Harold. He's a Skeith fitness instructor and used to work in Grundo's Gym!"

     The muscular shadow Skeith flexed a bicep menacingly, his entire frame void of any shred of fat.

     "All of us," the Acara continued, "big or small, smart or dumb, fat or thin- we are who we are! No one can go around depriving us of our individuality, and that's what this Kacheek is guilty of!"

     Finally, fury still in her eyes, Wendela retook her seat.

     "This… this is all crazy," Eddie whispered to himself, his head shaking indignantly. With a deep breath to gather up his courage, he somehow got his legs beneath him and leapt onto the table at which he sat. He cast a baleful glare at the Neopets in the courtroom.

     "Look at you all!" he proclaimed. "Wendela is right, you are who you are, but she is as guilty of stereotyping as well!"

     "WHAT?! HOW DARE YOU?!" the prosecutor shrieked, springing from her seat and lunging towards the poor Kacheek.

     "ORDER! ORDER!" cried Judge Bean Quiggle, slamming his hammer down on the stand like a carpenter exacting vengeance upon a defiant nail. "I WILL HAVE ORDER IN MY COURT!"

     Wendela slowly rose from her stance over Eddie, her glare still fixed on him like stone as she walked away.

     "Now please continue, Mr Edward," the judge directed.

     "The prosecution, your honour, accused Bartholomew Q Meerca of being, and I quote: 'an over-puffed, tail-sitting, pompous Negg Muncher'."

     Judge Bean Quiggle nodded agreeably. "Indeed… alright, Wendela is now part of the defence!"

     The courtroom gasped, echoes of "huh?" and "what's he talking about" filling the courtroom. Confusion abounded, and quizzical stares fell from all over.

     Suddenly, the main chamber doors slammed back with a deafening clap and a great gust of wind that made even Wendela quake in her shoes.

     In stormed Fyora, a look of disgust spread on her usually placid face.

     "This court case is a complete waste of time, for all involved," she snapped. "Now I order that you all leave immediately! I will see that this, this... BIZARRE law is destroyed. Whoever thought of it was an imbecile!"

     "But Queen Fyora, you came up with-" Wendela squeaked.

     "HMM?!"

     "… Nothing."

     As the uproar of the courtroom that day subsided, the incident was never discussed again. There was never any mention of the NAANS, or the two agents which had burst into Eddie's life that day. NAANS was disbanded; the court case had changed nothing.

     Except for one blue Kacheek.

The End

 
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