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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 7th day of Running, Yr 23
The Neopian Times Week 35 > New Series > Icequake: Part One

Icequake: Part One

by scriptfox

"Please, owners, don't put your pets through the misery of the Lab Ray!" That thought, taken from my home page, was still bouncing around in my mind as the cool air fluttered through my golden wings. I shivered, less from the cool breeze than from the thought of the nightmarish last few months I'd had. Too many months of getting zapped by the Lab Ray and changing sex, species, and colour sometimes on a daily basis. Everything from a pretty Faerie Cybunny to a rotten mutant Kiko. I found my hooves convulsively clenching themselves and mentally forced myself to calm down. It was all over with now--we were done with the Lab Ray, the only problem being that I hadn't had a chance to smash it into little bits. But I was back to normal and was not going to change again....

It was Thursday morning as I walked into my office of MonoKeras, Private Investigations for the first time that week. Did I say week? Make that month. Blchocobo was there, handling things to the best of his ability. I made my deepest and most sincere apologies for behaving like a jerk the past couple of months and leaving him with my business while I went and did things that I'd rather not think about now. He took it in his usual calm manner and with much more grace than I would have in his position.

"Really, MonoKeras, I am the one who should be apologising. Your business has suffered terribly since you left. I just haven't been able to keep it up."

"Considering I wasn't even here at the time, I'm in no position to blame you," I replied. "Anyhow, catch me up on exactly what's been happening."

The next few minutes consisted of blchocobo telling in more detail what he'd already said. My business is the type that depends a lot on reputation. When people are in trouble, they don't just trust anyone with their problem. Also, I had several contacts that I had made. They were often in law enforcement positions over half of Neopia and had worked with me in the past. They didn't hesitate to refer others to me, or have me do contract work for them on some matters. That part of the business had dried up almost completely, but I reassured blchocobo that it wasn't his fault. He could've been the best in all Neopia and it wouldn't have changed much. That sort of thing is done on a pet to pet basis, and he wasn't me, period.

His shoulders were still slumped, and the nose tip of his mask was still pointing to the floor. I clapped him on the shoulder. "Come on, don't worry about it. You did your best and the fact that this place is even still open is more than I deserved. There's nothing wrong that can't be set right in a few weeks."

"Maybe so," he finally admitted. "But I still feel like I let you down. What do you think we can do?"

"Well the first thing you can do for me," I remarked rather dryly, "is get up and let me sit in my chair again." I had to chuckle as he hastily vacated his spot behind my desk. "And don't feel that way," I told him rather sharply as he tried to apologise again. "I still owe you for keeping it warm for me--in more ways than one." I winked.

I settled back into my chair, feeling it once again press on the usual pressure points. It was almost like a massage, having that old familiar feeling back again. I leaned back, sighed, and then wriggled with happiness. This was more like it! An almost inaudible chuckle from blchocobo made me open my eyes again, and I grinned a bit ruefully. "OK, so it might look silly, but it still feels great!"

"I know. I'm truly glad to see you back, MonoKeras--in more ways than one."

"Glad in more ways than one? How so?"

"That, too, maybe, but I meant back in more ways than one. Here, and back to your normal self physically as well as mentally."

"Ohhhh..." I looked away, partly from embarrassment, partly because I didn't want a sincere expression of appreciation to turn into a trite cliché by discussing it any further. It was then that I spotted the slightly opened drawer on my desk. "Mia's Neggshells!" I cursed. "I totally forgot...."

Ignoring blchocobo's surprised response, I reached into the drawer and pulled out a silvery tube. Holding it up to my ear, I listened carefully for the sizzling sound that should have been inside it. It was so faint that I almost didn't hear it. Cursing again with more dismay, I grabbed a bag of powders from the same drawer and spilled it onto the desktop. I quickly mixed up a pile of phosphorus, sodium chloride (more commonly known as salt), magnesium, and some other similar chemicals in trace amounts. Holding my breath I unscrewed the tube and gently tilted its contents onto the pile.

I almost cried when I saw the small sputtering ball of fire that was my PetPet Sun Pegasus. He'd always been a baby fireball, but neglect and lack of feeding had taken their toll on him and he was so much smaller... too small. Gently cupping one hoof around him, I blew softly on him, hoping my magical aura would help breathe a bit of life and interest back into him. He sat there on top of his pile of food, and when my breath hit him he flickered in the fireball equivalent of a hiccup. I could almost see his interest in life revive and the sizzling grew louder as he ate his way into the salts below. Blchocobo watched as silently as I as Sun Pegasus grew larger and rounder, gaining strength with every... bite? (It's hard to say what he uses to eat when it just sort of burns.) I looked into the tube and saw the red-orange powder in the bottom of it. I sighed a bit glumly and then poured it on top of Sun. I don't know what the stuff is--I think it's part of him--but whenever I find it in the tube it means he's not feeling well at all. The powder disappeared when it hit the ball of flame and Sun instantly deepened his colour and grew another fraction of an inch.

I let out a breath of relief and grinned as I swept the bags of food away and stored them. Sun was rolling around the desktop now, burning up the last bits of salts that he could find, and the danger was over. "Feeling better aren't you, old boy," I said, and lifted him up on one hoof. I carefully tossed him into the air, catching him with the other hoof and he quickly joined in the game. I leaned back and laughed out loud as we turned him into a whirling, arcing ball of light that bounced back and forth between my hooves. Leaning back a bit more, I put my hind hooves up on top of my desktop, and two landing points became four in a crazy dance that saw him bouncing about six different ways, each bounce decided on a split second whim of his or mine.

A low whistle reminded me that we had an audience. "I've never seen you do that before, MonoKeras. I didn't know it could be done!"

I shrugged. (No mean feat when your arms are busy juggling fireball.) "I don't do it very often. He's normally in a feistier mood, and less likely to want to play. I think his little starvation diet improved his temper!"

"I didn't dare open that tube."

"Good! He probably would've burned you on contact. Sorry, but he's as much weapon as pet." As I said that, the thought sobered me slightly. Still, I was in too good a mood to let that spoil my day.

I carefully dropped Sun Pegasus back onto the desktop and reached into another desk drawer. I brought out some more bags of powder. Magical powder this time. There were six different colours, one for each realm of magic, and I used a bit of all six to make a large (and regrettably sloppy) mandala in the middle of my desk. Quickly energising it, I did a non-directional magical spying trick. It was the magical equivalent to popping your baby blues open in the morning and taking your first peep at a brand new day.

The colours sparkled and a multicoloured cloud welled up from the centre of the design, quickly covering that area of the desktop in a roiling ball of coloured fog. Sun Pegasus popped and hissed, wanting in on the act, but I didn't dare let his aura mess with this and ignored him. The magical aura of the environment found its expression in the patterns that were forming and reforming. I casually flicked energy this way and that, gently prying out various parts of the data that were pouring into my creation. Things seemed to be humming along just fine. I saw new games and happenings since I'd taken my leave of the regular social life in Neopia.

I was about ready to call it quits, but one last tiny flick managed to connect with something. My softly bubbling ball suddenly gained direction and movement--lots of movement. It stayed roughly in one place, but a magical wind was suddenly blowing through the room. Sun Pegasus went skittering off the desk, bouncing across the floor, and wound up spitting angrily in a corner. I jerked my hooves back as if they'd been stung while blchocobo's eyes widened behind his desert Blumaroo mask.

"How'd you do that??"

"I didn--" I cut my reply short just in time. Taking a deep breath, I looked at blchocobo. "Blchocobo, brother mine, I'm afraid I have to ask you to leave. I've got some serious business to tend to here."

"Of course. I'll see you later... at home this evening, maybe."

"Thanks." I stared back down at the magical mess still boiling on my desk as the door closed behind him. At least I'd shut my mouth in time and hadn't told him I'd not had a thing to do with that gale--a gale which was now dying to fitful gusts before fading altogether as I coaxed Sun Pegasus out of his corner.

I stared as the cloud died down to a spark which snapped its death into a tiny cloud of smoke that dissipated into the room, leaving behind the scattered remains of my mandala. Over the next half hour, I tried every trick I knew or could study up. Various sorts of sand patterns mixed with rods of arcane woods and metals, and my 'crying glasses' were put to the test. I even tried to use both at once in a sort of magical binocular vision. No use. The best I got was a pale, nearly transparent cloud that contained hard, gemlike glitters of all sorts of colour

I finally gave up and sat staring at Sun Pegasus. He stared back at me with something of the same mixture of exhaustion and apprehension. I didn't know much more than when I'd started, but several things were clear. My magical abilities had suffered through lack of use, the Lab Ray, and whatever else had happened to me over the last few months. And although I didn't know exactly what it was, I knew there was something out there. I knew that it was big. It was powerful. It looked to be very angry. And it was going to move in the near future.

A sudden surge of nausea hit me. I grabbed Sun Pegasus as we both swayed in a gust of malevolent magic. When it was over, the remains of my latest experiment had been turned into a set of parallel lines. I tried to convince my stomach to settle down as I mentally added one more note to our mysterious threat. It was somewhere in the north.

To be continued...

Previous Episodes

Icequake: Part Two

Icequake: Part Three

Icequake: Part Four

Icequake: Part Five

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