A Brush with Danger
THE FOLLOWING DAY, I was ready to try this Lab Ray for myself. Muas and Juega
decided to accompany me since it was my first day; I didn't mind. We took a
boat, which I managed to almost capsize, and set off. I could see the ruins
of Maraqua in the distance, and as I strained to get a better look, I almost
fell off the boat. I stayed in the back from then on.
Muas used her map to locate the Lab Ray, which
turned out to be located inside a small, dilapidated building that looked like
it had been a factory at one point. Of course, I had no idea what a Lab Ray's
location was supposed to look like, but I figured it wasn't that.
It was a rather long line, and I took the opportunity
to scrutinise the other humans. I hadn't seen very many of them yet, beyond
Muas. These owners looked very rich; I suppose they had to be, to buy the map
pieces required. Some of them, however, looked poor. Later I realised that these
fell into two categories: either they'd spent every last cent on this venture,
or they had fallen on rough times since buying the pieces. Either way, I felt
sorry for them.
We were kept far away from the actual Ray during
the time we waited in line; I suppose this was so it would not scare us off.
Finally, though, it was our turn, and a bedraggled little Shoyru led the way
into the main room.
It was very spooky and looked like it might have
been populated by a few ghosts. Racks of test tubes lined the walls, and broken-down
machinery and spare parts filled most of the spare space in the room. In the
center was a machine that looked like a ray gun, and a raised pedestal big enough
to accommodate even the largest Neopet, accessible by stairs. In one of the
spaces in the room not covered in rubbish, a Scorchio dressed in a lab coat
and looking like a mad scientist waited; along the right-hand wall was a bench
for accompanying pets and owners.
"And which of you will be the lucky pet today?"
boomed out the Scorchio, grinning at Juega and myself.
"She will," said Muas, tapping me on the head,
and led Juega to the bench. They sat there as I walked up to the pedestal, trying
to seem brave. I knocked over half the spare parts as I did so, prompting the
Scorchio to say, "Okay! Stop right there! You don't have to go on the pedestal!
It can't take any more damage. Just wait."
I stopped in midstep among the junk and he turned
the ray to face me. "Okay," he said to himself, and pressed a red button on
its side. A beam of light shot out and hit me, but it didn't hurt. It felt like
a blanket that had been dropped on me, to use an imperfect metaphor.
When the Ray stopped, I looked down at myself.
I was still a Yellow Aisha, and still a girl, but something else had changed.
I didn't feel as weak anymore; I felt like I could utilise my strength better.
I realised it before Muas even told me: I had gained two levels.
"Okay, okay, are you happy?" said the Scorchio,
running from his spot and tidying up the mess I'd made.
"Sorry," I said, feeling truly terrible for what
I'd done. "I'll stay and help you fix it, if you want."
"No! No! Just... just go!"
And so we left, leaving him with quite the big
mess to clean up. I didn't talk to Muas or Juega the entire way home, feeling
that I'd done something horrible. I felt that Muas wouldn't want me anymore--that
my destiny was to live alone in the Neopian Pound, abandoned for my clumsiness.
In other words, I was miserable.
As we neared port in our little ship, Muas asked,
"Muasaum, what's wrong? You seem so quiet."
I didn't reply immediately, and I don't recall
exactly what I said, but eventually I said something along the lines of feeling
bad for the Scorchio who was in charge of the Ray. Juega laughed at this and
said, "But Muasaum, he's such an annoying little pet! Always crying over his
beloved inventions that won't work and giving people bad turns on the Ray if
they so much as look at him funny. Don't feel sorry for him. If anything, you
"How?" I sniffled.
"Now he's got to clean up!"
I laughed, and the awkwardness ceased. I no longer
felt I would be sent to the Pound, but I was a bit worried. Was I destined to
be some klutz? Would I annoy everyone I met?
As we were standing in the harbour, Juega said,
"I don't know if I want to risk being changed like I was yesterday. I thought
I could handle being a different colour, but I can't, really."
Muas bit her lip. "Well," she said, "I paid 89,000
for those Lab pieces, and I don't want them to go to waste, but I won't force
you if you don't want to. But Klaue and Reizend have already said they don't
want to do it. Who else would be willing?"
I raised my paw. "I could," I said. "If, I mean,
that Scorchio will still let me. But I liked doing it today and I got a good
"You're only a day old, Muasaum," my owner said.
"Don't you want to go out, do other things, live your life?"
"This is something to do," I pointed out, "and
a cool thing, at that. I mean, it would let me do something not a whole lot
of pets can do."
And so she agreed, luckily for me. I was incredibly
excited that night, not necessarily because I'd be going to the Lab Ray daily,
but because I felt as if I had a place in the family. Now that I was doing something
productive for them, I could not be subject to disowning; yes, I was still frightened
of it, even with the assurances from Muas.
I went to the Lab Ray again the next day, and
nothing momentous occurred; however, on my third visit, I found myself acting
so clumsily that I had the entire place in a shambles before I was even halfway
to the pedestal. The Scorchio, stared, wide-eyed, at me as I rushed about trying
to clean up the mess, but just caused more havoc. "Get out!" he thundered, no
doubt thinking of his precious research. "Get out! Don't come back!"
I forbade myself to cry as I ran out of the building,
leaning against the wall to compose myself. Surely, I thought, he
couldn't have meant it like it sounded. His words rang in my ears--don't
come back... don't come back... did that mean I had been barred from it
forever? Muas would be angry, now that none of us could or would do it.
It was beginning to get dark when I finally got
up, and I knew Muas was probably worried about me. I was proud of myself, though,
and I had shown myself that I was not a silly little baby by not crying. I got
to my feet and was heading back to the harbour when I noticed a shape disappear
around the corner, moving very stealthily.
The figure didn't look like a pet or a human,
and something about its movements reminded me of another incident, but I couldn't
say just what. At any rate, it made me suspicious, so I quietly began to follow
it. I paid careful attention to surrounding objects and managed to follow pretty
stealthily, something I was proud of. But then, as I continued around the corner,
I didn't notice a patch of vines growing out from the side of the building and
stumbled on them, causing a loud THUMP that anyone could hear.
The thing I was following froze; I could see
it, just barely, from the moonlight. I took that chance and leapt from the ground
onto its back, clawing on the sack it was holding, yowling and making a huge
racket. Lights lit up on the shops surrounding the building, and people began
calling out: "What's going on out there?" "We're trying to sleep!"
From the lights I could tell that this wasn't
a pet or a human... it was the Pant Devil. "You again!" he hissed. "Don't you
ever learn?" He tried to move, but I held fast to his sack. "What do I have
to do, kidnap you?!" he cried in exasperation.
A light came on in the building and the Scorchio,
still in his lab coat, emerged. "Hey! You again!" he said to the Pant Devil.
"What, were you trying to make off with some of my spare parts again?"
"I guess," I said from his back. "I saw him sneaking
The Scorchio narrowed his eyes at me. "You're
that Aisha," he said, "that created a mess in my lab."
"I'm sorry for yelling at you. Thanks for catching
this guy. Feel free to come back anytime, even if you do make a mess."
I smiled and left the Pant Devil with him, knowing
that I would try my best never to be clumsy again.
To be continued...