Don't Cry, My Little Love
Early Autumn, Year Six
My dearest Lynne,
I wish I knew what to say to you in this letter.
In an ideal world, I'd have time to be eloquent and beautiful, to think about
what I want to say. But then, in an ideal world I wouldn't be writing this letter
It feels strange to be writing by paw, instead
of speaking into the mouthpiece on the gate and seeing my words appear on a
screen. Still, I suppose it isn't as peculiar as the whole idea of writing a
letter to my little baby Wocky who can neither write nor read. It's got to be
done though, before neither of us has the time any more.
I call you my baby, Lynne, and that's what you
are. You called me "Mama," as soon as you could talk. It took a lot of persuasion
to get you to call me "Mama Izzy", and even then you only did it when you were
in a good mood. Lynne, you're so headstrong and stubborn, my love. I never did
get you to drop the "Mama," even when the other pets laughed; after all, a Wocky
with a Usul for a mother? Ridiculous. Still, I wasn't going to be the one to
say it couldn't happen. I was old enough now to take care of someone besides
You were born here. That's not such a rare thing
now as it was when I was your age. I was one of the first, then. I could never
understand why the older ones sighed and looked mournful when they found out.
I'm still not sure I do really, but looking after you has helped. I've worked
here all my life, and my only real idea of what it's like out there has
come from others. Especially Jessica. That's not her real name, but I won't
mention it here, nor her species. If the worst happens and this letter falls
into the wrong hands, I'm not going to be responsible for anything happening
to her. That's the reason why I'm calling you by our nickname, too: Lynne. I
would rather face an angry space monster than let your real name slip in a letter.
Jessica says that no-one out there knows
about us, or the work we do here. She says that the gates are guarded by a fierce
robot of some kind, demanding security clearance that outsiders don't have.
So we are the only Neopets here, occasionally joined by a new intake: captured
pets from out there with their memories altered, or a clutch of Neopet
eggs that will hatch into new younglings like you. Despite the signs around
us, only a small group actually work on the mining. The rest build mechanical
objects, robots, spaceships, lasers. We have long shifts, but there's still
plenty time to nurse the new intake, feeding them, keeping them warm.
I'm telling you this, Lynne, because I doubt
you'll remember any of it. You're too young. Jessica offered me a potion to
make sure you forgot-snatched from the lab in a moment of daring-but I'm sure
she can find a more worthwhile use for it.
The day you arrived, I was feeling low. One
of my best friends had vanished from the compound, and I had no way of knowing
whether she'd made good her promise to escape from here, or whether he
had finally figured out her game and taken her to the lab. I was lonely, sad
and anxious. Then the whistle went for incoming staff, and the next minute a
Mutant Techo entered holding a crate of eggs.
I took one of them at random. Is that wrong?
Did you want me to tell you I was drawn to you? I can't. I promised to tell
the truth in this letter before I started writing it, and the truth is that
I had no way of knowing what you would be, or if I would love you. That had
to wait until the shell cracked and I looked into your enormous baby eyes for
the first time.
You grew as time passed, but I think you will
always be small. And you can reassure yourself that it's true: that I loved
you. I love the way you laugh as you chase a ball-bearing someone has dropped,
I love the way you call my name when you're frightened. "Mama Izzy! Where are
you, Mama?" I love the way you run, your little paws soft as a dream on the
rocky surface. I love the way you breathe gently as you sleep, somewhere out
there in your dreams maybe. My little one. My Lynne.
I taught you the way to work here, to avoid
the eyes of the supervisors who watch our every movement with glittering robot
sensors. Not everyone liked it. Having a youngling tagging along knocked down
our team's production rate, but in the end they came to like you too. Everyone
Perhaps you will remember the day Jessica came
back. Yes, Jessica was my best friend who ran away. She just walked into the
compound one day with her head held high and her eyes alight. We dropped all
our work, ignoring the robotic commands of "Resume tasks immediately! Resume!"
and ran to her. You were holding my paw. Jessica was the centre of a circle
of excited Neopets, few of them much older than me.
"Did you get… out there?" we asked.
"How did you escape?"
"Did you see any Neopets?"
Jessica herself was almost too excited to speak.
She looked around her. "I got out," she said. "Out there. And you won't
believe the things I saw."
Her only regret was that she hadn't been able
to tell anyone about us. But he would surely get word of that, and simply
move us to another location. Then Jessica would've been separated from me forever,
unable to find us again. But oh, the things she'd seen! We found them hard to
believe. There were Neopets out there who lived without being in the
slightest bit of duty to him. In fact, some of them didn't know who he
was. There were books about other things than manufacturing regulations, Neopet
babies that played with things other than discarded spare parts when they were
off-shift. And not just the babies. There were grown Neopets of eleven, thirteen,
even fifteen who were as carefree as children. It was what I secretly wished
for you, though I knew you'd have to grow up, my darling, just like the rest
It wasn't her last trip to the outside world.
Now that she knew the trick, she made her way in and out whenever she could,
through a tiny gap in the triple-woven wire that was just big enough for her-Jessica
was always small. I wished I could follow her, but a gap any wider would alert
security, and besides, there was you. Don't feel bad about that, Lynne. I'd
probably have been too afraid to leave in any case.
That was a couple of months ago.
Writing your life story has been wonderful,
Lynne. It's made me smile and brought tears to my eyes-more tears, now, than
smiles. I wish there was more of it to tell, anything to put off the moment
when I have to write that single, dreadful word.
It's been a week now since Jessica came back
with the terrible news. He is going to invade the outside world, if his
plans go right. The machines we've built for him will help him
conquer that jewel-planet that Jess told us about-Neopia. He will turn
the entire out there into a bigger version of here, and those pretty,
carefree pets are going to be his workers.
"Won't he need an army, Jess?" one of
the pets asked, and Jessica looked at us with tears in her eyes.
"He's got one," she said. "You."
So there it was. He is going to turn
us, his workers, into robot pets to match our mechanical weapons: ourselves
still somewhere in the depths of our hearts, but pets without feelings, without
attachments, without hope. And we will defeat Neopia for him.
There's one chance left. We can try to stop
him before he gets his evil plan underway. For evil is what it
is. I don't know how I know, but I can tell. All of us, the compound pets- we'll
find a way, perhaps to overpower the lab scientists, or sabotage the machines.
Maybe we'll manage to stop him in time, and Neopia will never know the
danger it found itself in.
If we succeed… I don't know. If I'm here...
I don't know. Maybe one day this place will be run properly, the way things
should be, with no cruel supervisors and no bullied pets. Either way, you probably
won't know anything about it. Except… that if you read this letter surrounded
by shining metal and the sound of laser fire, you will know we failed.
There is only one thing to do, first. I can't
bear it, but it has to be. Jessica is taking care of it, organising things as
only she can. I was the one who snatched the sleeping potion. You probably won't
even remember the odd taste in the water I gave you to drink. I stayed calm,
singing you into sleep, not letting a single tear fall until you were gone.
Jessica is leaving, my love, one last time.
She will take you with her, cradled, held tightly, and make her way to Neopia.
There she'll leave you. If she can find a pet like me, to take care of you,
she will. Perhaps she'll break into a house and leave you, sleeping, on the
bed. Whatever happens, she'll make sure you're safe, somewhere miles from Kreludor,
before our first and only battle begins here-- here in a prison where weather
is something a friend tells like a story, where the world is closed up by wire
fencing. Like the rest of Neopia, you'll have a chance. That's all I can give
you. This chance.
Here this letter ends. Jessica is telling me
she must go now. As I guessed, I only have time for a few parting words.
I wish you well. I wish you love, and light,
and all the things I never had. May you always be happy, wherever you are. Don't
cry, my little love. I give you your name. I give you your story. Guard them
well. One day, you'll be old enough to read this letter.
Author's Note: No, this isn't really a Starlight Invasion story, though
you can fit it into that timeline if you so desire.