Petpet for a Madman
"In the purple building, where the petpets are...grinning,
buy the petpet of your dreams, the prices are lower than they...seem?"
The ever-famous Petpet Shop Owner fumbled with
her pen as she scribbled against the parchment she held in her nicely manicured
hands. The green Usul was well known to be an expert of petpets and choosing
the right prices for selling the happy little critters to Neopets of all shapes
and sizes, but she certainly wasn't any good at making a commercial jingle.
Business had been slow all summer, and the Usul was quite eager to rouse more
shoppers into her building. She adjusted the daisy in her pristine little hat
and sighed wearily.
"I bet Archimedes in the shop next door is having
a great amount of customers. With school rolling around, everybody wants a new
notepad," she wondered.
Archimedes, of course, was the name that she
had dubbed the blue Techo at the Back to School shop. With business coming before
formal introductions, hardly anyone that spent every day of the week catering
to Neopets from around the globe ever revealed their names.
The Petpet Shop Owner herself went by the name
of Daisy, even though she knew in reality, her name was followed by random dashes
Daisy had resumed writing out some more lines
to a song for her shop when the bell above the door tinkled harmoniously. The
Usul jumped; after four days without a single purchase from anyone, the sound
that would alert her of an entering customer seemed almost alien. Immediately,
she set the pen and parchment down and threw her hands above her head in the
standard greeting that Usuls knew by instinct.
"Welcome to the Neopian Petpet Shop, where happiness
is just a petpet away!" Daisy replied, the smile of a shopkeeper worn on her
face. Her expertise was making the customer feel happy. After all, harsh feelings
against her meant no purchases and more petpets would have to be sent to the
"How may I help you?"
Her eyes fell upon her new customer, and although
she still wore her business-like "the customer is always right" smile, she couldn't
help but be slightly creeped out by the demeanor of the new arrival. A hand
covered in yellow scales held the glass door open as a cloaked figure entered
the humble shop. Growls and whimpers from the petpets on display, although quiet
in volume, seemed to fill the room as a cloaked figure only determinable to
be a Scorchio by his exposed hands, tail, and feet shuffled into the room. He
swept his head to look at a particular Warf that was crouched and ready to strike
behind a cage and quietly chuckled.
The hair on Daisy's tail stood on end. That chuckle
"Hello. I'm looking for a companion. A friend,
one might say..." the voice underneath the hood replied in a voice that, while
hesitating and quiet right now, would be downright commanding if used in a higher
Claws clicked against the wooden floor as the
hooded Scorchio approached the counter that the green Usul was standing behind.
He placed his hands on the counter and looked at her through red...yellow? Daisy
could've sworn that they were both colors...eyes.
"But I must be quick. Very quick. They never
let me leave. Never. People will see me and I'll be ruined. I'll be swamped
with questions and demands. They will try to get at me and my work...My work
and my creations. I can't let that happen..." the visitor said, his voice becoming
almost frail in his worry.
Many thoughts sprang to Daisy's mind that she
felt were too personal to ask. What kind of person would be so terrified of
somebody asking questions about their inventions that they'd be too frightened
to leave their home?
Was her customer a minion of Dr. Sloth and he
needed a petpet to run a Doomsday machine?
"So, why didn't you send for a mail order? I'm
sure you can always get a Neofriend to send you a Petpet if you can't-"
"I have no Neofriends."
The sentence spoken had a hint of finality to
it. It wasn't a matter of opinion; it was a true-blue fact that the customer
had no hesitation in sharing. He folded his arms across his chest, still looking
at Daisy with those intriguing red/yellow eyes.
"My work is...very confidential. I can't leave,
I can't make friends. And even if I could leave, I wouldn't be able to make
friends. People think I'm..." the Scorchio wouldn't finish, but the Petpet Shop
Owner could definitely guess what word her customer refused to mention.
"I just need a Petpet. Something in yellow,"
the Scorchio replied, leaning against the counter and looking into the Usul's
eyes. The shop owner once again locked her gaze with those strange eyes and
felt her head pound with a freshly born headache.
"Ahh...One that fits your personality and color?
May I suggest the Kookith? I must warn you, though. They're a bit on the expensive-"
A bag of Neopoints slid across the counter. Not
a single point was counterfeit, and it was exact same amount as the price tag
she offered. Nothing more. Nothing less.
"...side," Daisy finished, her jaw set firm to
keep it from hanging open.
"I'll take the Kookith," the Scorchio replied.
Wordlessly, the shopkeeper accepted his offer and placed the tiny rectangular
petpet into the Neopet's arms. The Kookith cooed uncertainly as its new owner
held it against his body in a mock embrace.
The smile that glimmered underneath the cloak's
hood was a genuine smile of someone who had lived without companionship for
a long time, but the experienced shop owner could catch the small glimmer of
insanity within his glee...
"Uh, may I see your identification? The Petpet
Protection League wants to keep potential problems to petpets like intentional
endangerment from happening..." Daisy trailed off, unsure of how to finish.
She had to pick now of all times to ask her customer for identification. Sure,
he seemed quite suspicious while wearing a cloak and stating that he needed
to enter and leave so quickly, but he really was only doing this to have a friend...
But then again, Neopia did not want to take chances
after the Florg-related Petpet shortage of Year Five.
Instead of arguing, the strange customer used
his free hand to remove his hood, revealing a pair of swirling red and yellow
eyes underneath black bushy eyebrows and a full head of tangled gray hair. The
Scorchio was wearing a lab coat underneath, as the brief flash of a white collar
showed behind his neck. He smiled, almost cruelly, at the fact that Daisy jumped
at the sight of him.
Of all the famous Neopian celebrities Daisy had
daydreamed to appear in her shop, be it Jeran, Hannah, or even Capara the Kyrii,
the Lab Ray Scorchio was the last to spring to mind.
"You should consider yourself lucky. You're one
of the few people to see me without some kind of expensive map. The poor fools
actually believe that the ray is under intensive repair," the Lab Ray Scorchio
replied, a hint of malice in his voice. The Usul couldn't tell as to why he
referred to the people that searched and paid for the Secret Laboratory Maps
in an almost hateful way. Did he hate having a line of owners willing to torture
their pets line up on his island, or was he simply bitter to everyone?
Suddenly handing him the Kookith seemed like
a bad idea, with or without Neopoints.
"Actually, I have seen you before. My sister
bought your Secret Lab Map with all of her savings and then was zapped into
a Mutant Elephante. Ever since then she's been training on Mystery Island and
is counting the days until she beats you in the Battledome," the green Usul
shopkeeper replied in a very defensive manner. It was in her shopkeeper oath
never to bother the customer with her personal life, which was considered to
be separate from business, but then again, her oath never mentioned the possibility
of a crazed maniac entering her store.
But instead of adding his two Neopoints to her
response, the Scorchio pulled the hood over his head to hide his telltale features
from the rest of the world. He felt no need to reply to her statement about
her sister. After all, for almost six years, he'd been hearing the same sob
stories told to him by activists against his work.
Still holding his new companion to his chest,
the scientist gave one last smile to the shopkeeper and left her store.
The Lab Ray Kookith.
Yeah, that had a nice ring to it.
The Lab Ray Scorchio looked down on his petpet,
smiling at his handwork as he did so. The little creature was now tailored to
look like the miniature Kookith version of his owner. His petpet now wore a
lab coat specially fit for its body and its eyes were now swirly red and yellow.
Of course, unlike him, the eyes were only contacts
fitted for the small creature. It was going to take a lot of work with its specially
designed ray to give him the eyes that branded the Lab Ray Scorchio as a complete
The Scorchio reached down to pet the Kookith
with one hand as his other hand pressed the button that had always fired his
Secret Lab Ray. He laughed his infamous cackle, but not because the Island Uni
he fired at had transformed into a Mutant Lenny. Instead, the laughter had come
from the fact that the Kookith he had purchased from Neopia Central had curled
up at his feet and was making a sound akin to the purring of a kitten. It was
the only creature that found comfort in being in the same company as the Lab
Ray Scorchio, and the madman found comfort in this fresh new change.
With a smile, he escorted the owner out of his
lab with the wave of his hand and ignored the protests coming from the angered
owner. He didn't care. It bothered him even less than it did before.
As for the first time in six years, the brilliantly
deranged scientist had a friend.