"Lucky 13 Acting Academy!"
The call woke me from my sleep. What a weird
dream, I thought, and shook my head to rid myself of the sleepiness.
There weren't that many people getting off at
this stop, it seemed. Me, an Ixi a few seats ahead, and... oh, no. The Shoyru
was getting off too.
His owner didn't seem a bit phased. "Have fun,"
she said, bored, then started complaining about how uncomfortable those chairs
were. Like owner, like pet, I thought. And then he started talking to me again.
"Oh, so you're getting off here, too? Yes, the
Acting Academy. Made a hefty dent in our bank account, this did."
It took me a moment to process what he was saying.
Then, it clicked: those who had gotten in behalf of the audition got in on a
full scholarship. Others could pay for full tuition- like this Shoyru had already
done. Feeling the need to mess with him a bit, I said, "Oh, I got in on a scholarship."
The Shoyru looked puzzled, and then his face
seemed to show he understood. "Oh, I've heard of those. For the dreadfully poor
ones who can't afford anything?"
I resisted the temptation to roll my eyes. Not
only was this Shoyru spoiled, he was also rather thick-headed. I began to explain.
"No. I mean, they can be, but I got in on a scholarship because I auditioned
for a spot, and they decided I was good enough that they could pay for my tuition
for me, because they thought I'd be a decent addition to the academy."
"Yes, she's right," came a voice I hadn't heard
before. Turning, I saw the Ixi smiling. "I'm here on a scholarship too, as a
matter of fact."
I tossed her a thank-you-for-saving-me look,
and she shrugged as if it were no big deal. I began to walk a little faster,
leaving the Shoyru behind, and the red Ixi caught up with me.
"Hey," I said, smiling. "Thanks."
"No problem," she replied. "I have a brother
who's kind of like him, so I know how to deal with them."
We laughed. "So, what's your name?" I asked.
"Ninamey, but most call me Nina," she said.
"I'm Polayo," I answered. "But most call me
She nodded. "Nice to meet you. So, you're heading
for the Academy too, eh?" Now we were waiting at sign that said, quite blatantly,
that we were supposed to be there. 'Lucky 13 Acting Academy Students Wait Here'
it read, and it was obvious to us.
"Yeah. I was nervous at the audition, but I'm
glad they liked me."
"Me too! I was literally shaking! But as soon
as I got up on the stage, I lost all the nervousness. I'm at home on the stage,
you know? I feel more at home there than I do anywhere else, actually."
I nodded. "Personally," I said, "I'm at home
with the typewriter, or the computer." I paused, then added, "or a pen or pencil.
You know, anything that writes... And the stage."
She laughed. "You're funny," she said when she'd
finally stopped, out of breath. "I hope we're roommates."
I stopped in my tracks. "We have roommates?"
"Yeah, of course. Didn't you know that? Luckily,
they don't pair males with females, so neither of us will be stuck with him."
She pointed to the Shoyru, who was now tapping his foot impatiently and complaining
rather loudly- although we were conveniently ignoring him- about how cold it
I smiled. "Hang on, one second," then, to the
Shoyru, I shouted, "We're inside! The heats on! You can't be cold. If you want
something to complain about, why don't you complain about the fact that for
once you're not the centre of attention?"
He turned his eyes on me, and for a second I
almost regretted saying that; that's how hard his glare was. And then he turned
away and said haughtily, "I have no reason to associate with those who cannot
even pay the full tuition at the Academy."
I could hardly believe me ears. I narrowed my
eyes and opened my mouth to say something, but Nina reached out and put a restraining
hoof on my arm. "Don't say anything," she warned quietly. "Obviously, he's got
power and it looks like he knows how to use it too."
I nodded, but I was still mad. Although it had
kept me from maybe doing something stupid, it hadn't lessened my boiling anger
Before long, a car pulled up. The doors were
opened, and the driver rolled down the window. "Only three students for Lucky
13? Hop in. It's about an hour's drive to the Academy, and the snow is making
the roads a little tough. You're in luck, though, the headmistress said she'll
hold off the evening meal until we all arrive. So let's get going, we don't
want to keep the others waiting."
We climbed in the car - all seven of us, the
three pets and four petpets- after putting our bags in the trunk, and I ended
up smushed between Nina, which wasn't so bad, and the Shoyru, which was. After
nearly half an hour of silence, the driver, who was quite clearly getting bored,
said, "Why don't we all introduce ourselves. How about we start with you, Ixi."
Nina looked as if she were coming out of a trance.
"Oh, yes. I'm Ninamey, but most people call me Nina. Er, and this is Meghan,
The Shoyru let out a snort of laughter. "Fancy
that! You can't even afford a real petpet, you have to use the one from the
Advent Calendar!" He chuckled, as if it were the most hilarious joke there ever
That was too much. "It'd be good of you," I warned
quietly, "to say nothing else."
He paid no attention to me- didn't even look
at me while I talked- but he shut up anyway, luckily.
"Thanks," mouthed Nina to me, and I smiled.
"No problem," I mouthed back.
The driver - a tall, gangly blue Lenny- seemed
almost amused by this squabbling. "And you, Aisha," he nodded at my reflection
in the mirror. "You are...?"
"I'm Polayo," I announced, drawing myself to
my full sitting height. "I usually go by Po, and these are my two petpets, Tikano
the Babaa and Shadow the Meowclops. They love everyone," I said, then added,
looking right at the Shoyru, "except for the ones that criticise their friends."
That was all Nina could take. She burst out laughing,
and I found that I was laughing with her. For a moment, I almost shouted out,
"Ev! We'll remember this forever!" As soon as I thought that, I felt guilty.
Nina was nice, and deserved to be treated as her own person and not as my so-called
The driver quieted us down, and nodded at the
Shoyru. "You're turn, Shoyru."
"I," he began, acting dignified, "am Welsefargh."
He seemed to be waiting for us to say something. "Haven't you heard of me?"
I had to stifle a giggle. "No," I said. "The
name 'Welsefargh' has never reached my ears." Quietly, I added to Nina, "And
it's one I wouldn't have been sad to go without hearing."
"I heard that!" Snapped the Shoyru, and I turned
my head. "You should know," he said, "that we are some of the richest inhabitants
that Neopia has ever seen. With our Neopoints, we could make almost anyone,"
his face was closer now, and his eyes narrow, "do anything."
I pulled back, and raised my eyebrows. "Is that,"
I said, acting surprised, "a threat? Because if it is-"
"Polayo the Aisha," he interrupted, "rest assured.
No threats come from Welsefargh. Only hospitality."
I said nothing, turning away. The rest of the
ride was silent, although the driver still seemed amused. I glared at the Welsefargh's
reflection in the mirror up front for the rest of the drive. At least it was
something to do.
I was settled uncomfortably in my seat. Welsefargh seemed at home already,
with a bunch of other stuck up pets, and Nina and I were squirming, waiting
for our names to be called. The headmistress- a kind enough Pteri who'd met
them at the door- was rattling off the names of the pets that had joined them
over the holiday break. Apparently, there were more than just us three- we were
the only three coming from Neopia Central.
"...Nilorn, Ninamey, Offishig, Ollindale, Polayo..."
"There go our names," I said with fake enthusiasm.
"I just can't wait until tomorrow, when classes start."
"Me neither," she agreed, then turned back to
her food, which was growing cold in front of her. "I heard someone say that
the 'movie scouts are finally coming'. I'm not sure what it means, but it's
making me nervous already."
I'd tensed up myself, but I'd acted as if it
were no big deal. "Nina, if you really feel as home on the stage as you say,
you should have no problems impressing them- if they come, that is. It could
just be a silly rumour..." I know it sounds stupid, but at that moment my mind
wandered back to the many a rumour Ev and I had killed by either spreading the
opposite news like wildfire- often the rumours were concerning people we knew-
or just no longer passing them around. Or, if they were really bad, we once
climbed up on the stage and made an announcement about one and how wrong it
was. The teachers said it was their duty to give us a detention that time, which
they did, but they also said they admired us for being so brave.
It hadn't helped my grades much, but still.
I sighed thinking of that school, the one I'd
spent my life in. It wasn't like Lucky 13 didn't seem wonderful - in fact, it
was beautiful, with high ceilings and gracefully carved Star Tree wood furniture
in every room. I just could tell that it was going to be very, very different
from Neopia Central Junior High.
When we'd entered, Welsefargh had made some remark
about how it was nothing impressive, compared to his old school. Nina had to
pinch me so I wouldn't say anything.
"Are you two new?"
We turned to see a friendly looking Wocky sliding
into the seat on the other side of Nina.
"Yeah," I said, holding out my paw for her to
shake. "I'm Polayo."
She took my paw and shook it heartily. "Good
to meet you, Polayo. And you?" She extended her paw to Nina. "Who are you?"
"Ninamey," she said with a smile.
"I am," the Wocky said, "Endregid, although
most call me Endre. I've been coming here for two terms now. My room's been
empty for a while, just me, myself, and I, and since I know one of you new girls
are going to be moving in with me I just thought I'd make myself known to all
"Well, it was nice to meet you," I said, then
went back to poking at my food with my fork. It didn't look very appetising.
Maybe it had at one point, but now it was cold, lifeless, and limp. I never
thought baked apple could look so inedible. I shuddered, remembering the time
I'd had my first Vanilla Milkshake, and how I'd declared to Omni that I was
never going to eat anything else ever again.
That was over a year ago, I realised as Endregid
walked off. And Ev was there.
To be continued...