A Sprinkling of Trouble
I stared at my Cupcake with Rainbow Frosting. The cupcake stood in front of me defiantly, flaunting the fact that it was missing a sprinkle. It was like the Esophagor moving to Faerieland: it just wasn’t right.
My pet, anonymous001, was shocking unperturbed by this event. “Does it matter?” he asked. “It’s just one tiny sprinkle. I don’t think that’s going to ruin the taste.”
Poor anonymous001. So young, so naive. He obviously didn’t see what I saw. “You don’t understand!” I cried. “This isn’t just about a sprinkle on a cupcake, my friend. No, no. This is much more than that. What we’re dealing with is an international ring of Neopians, spanning from Kreludor to Krawk Island, who are all out to get us.”
“Well, that makes sense,” replied anonymous001. “You see, at first I thought you were going to get all weird and paranoid. Clearly, I was wrong and you’ve taken the time to think this through.”
I was glad anonymous001 understood my point of view, although his sarcastic tone of voice seemed a bit odd to me. However, I had no time to think about it at the moment. It was time to commence SOCKS (Search Operation Concerning Kidnapped Sprinkle). So off I went with anonymous001, my good (or at least passable) companion, to the Defenders of Neopia headquarters.
The Defenders of Neopia refused to help me and my Garlic Jubjub in getting back that missing sprinkle, though. Apparently, a missing sprinkle on a cupcake “just isn’t a big enough crime problem to investigate.” Lies, I say! Let me tell you, the Defenders of Neopia aren’t the same any more. Ever since they got that big hallway with the trophies, they haven’t had the same work ethic. They used to help out with minor crimes like the robbery of a bicycle, but now someone has to go on a rampage through all the shops of Neopia just for them to get involved. Sure, they’re still helping to keep peace in Neopia, but the smiles are gone. I filed a complaint in their suggestion box, but they haven’t responded to me yet.
With the Defenders of Neopia unwilling to help, I decided there was only one thing to do. I was going to have to fight for the sprinkle myself! By this, of course, I mean that I would accompany anonymous001 as we searched for our culprit, then lurk in the background while he did all the fighting. I marched down to the Food Shop and demanded answers.
“Give me the names of anyone who has purchased a Cupcake with Rainbow Frosting, or else!” I declared, in my best declaration-making voice. Truly, all who were at the Food Shop at that moment knew that a serious declaration was being made.
“Sure,” said the shopkeeper, a Yellow Chia, who according to his apron, loves food.
“Don’t give me that attitude,” I stormed. “If you keep this up I’m going to have to... Oh, you’ll give me the names. Sorry, I thought this ordeal would be more difficult. I had a pretty harsh speech prepared for you, too, but if you’re unwilling to cooperate, then just give me the names and I’ll be on my way.”
The Chia quickly scribbled down some names onto a piece of paper from my Striped Notebook, then held it out to me. I gave him a suspicious scowl, then snatched the paper out of his hands, accidentally ripping it in half.
“Oops,” I said sheepishly. “Mind writing that down again?”
He complied, though he seemed to be angry as he wrote the names down. Why he was angry, I wasn’t certain, but I didn’t ask for fear of pushing this clearly emotionally unstable Neopet over the edge. This time, when he held out the piece of paper, I managed to snatch it away properly. Then, I promptly turned and walked away, watching the Chia the whole way out of the shop. In the process, I ended up missing the door and colliding with the wall. I spun around angrily.
“Put a wall there, eh? Pretty crafty. I should’ve known you had another trick up your sleeve. Well, technically, you have no sleeve for hiding tricks as you’re wearing an apron, but, still, um, hmmmm...” I decided to make my exit from the shop. “You see, anonymous,” I explained, “that is a lesson in how to save face.”
“I think it’s too late for that,” he responded. “Well, anyway, since it seems like I’m stuck assisting you in another of your foolish schemes, we ought to get some supplies to help us with our grand search.”
I corrected him. “It’s Operation SOCKS. That’s the codename. You have to use that name, or else others might know what we’re up to.”
“That makes no sense,” he argued. “Why would you call it Operation Search Operation Concerning Kidnapped Sprinkle? It’s redundant. I’ll go along with it, though, just because I really don’t want anyone to find out that I’m helping some fool search for a sprinkle that was missing from a cupcake.”
“You’re not helping a fool, you’re helping me!” I pointed out. “Anyway, I think it’s time we started our search for items that could assist us on this mission.”
Finding useful items turned out to be more work than I expected. anonymous001, as usual, was complaining about something. “Are you even thinking about ‘Operation SOCKS’ any more, or are you just going on a shopping spree? I mean, what is this?” He reached into my Water Faerie Backpack and pulled out a few items. “Blue Scratching Home, Pink Snowbunny Easter Negg, Maraqua Team Pennant, and now you’re about to buy...” He examined my item. “A Space Station Bath Tub? Really, how is that going to help us in capturing a thief?”
“Well, you see,” I began, “what if the robber was a Neopet who hadn’t taken a bath in years, so when he saw this bathtub he was so scared that... Oh, fine. Leave it here. We have enough items, I guess. Now let’s examine the list of names.”
“We should start with the Yellow Ixi,” suggested anonymous001. “I don’t think he’ll be much of a threat to us.”
I shook my head. Did anonymous001 not know anything about catching cupcake tampering-Neopets? “Don’t you see?” I exclaimed. “It’s all just a ploy! A ploy, I tells ye! The Ixi is just pretending to be weak so it can draw us into its lair, then dispose of us! I say we avoid him as long as possible. We ought to start with someone who’s likely to be weaker. Perhaps this Fire Scorchio.”
“As usual, you’ve managed to astound me with your inability to make sense,” said anonymous001, “but fine, we’ll try visiting this Scorchio first.”
Her house was easy to find. I gave three rapid raps to the door to show that this was a serious issue. “We should try and play it casual,” I whispered to anonymous001 as the door opened. anonymous001 nodded and turned to the Scorchio.
“Well, hello there, Miss!” my Garlic Jubjub began. “We’re searching for a-”
I jumped in. “We know you took our sprinkle, so give it back!” I cried with rage.
“What happened to the casual approach?” questioned anonymous001.
I turned to him. “Nothing, really. I was just getting impatient.” Then, I faced the Scorchio again. She looked upset.
“How dare you accuse me of theft!” she bellowed. “Both of you, get out of my house now, before I kick you out!”
“Oh no, you don’t!” I yelled, topping her voice by at least an octave. “There won’t be any house-kicking-out occurring today, my friend!” I sprang into action, reaching into my Water Faerie Backpack and pulling out a Black Frost Cannon.
BOOM! Ice shot out of the cannon, completely engulfing our foe and freezing her. “Now,” I commanded, “start searching for the sprinkle!”
“Do you really think it’s wise to freeze a Fire Scorchio?” anonymous001 asked me.
It seemed anonymous001, as usual, was being a nuisance. What could possibly go wrong shooting a Fire Scorchio with a Black Frost Cannon? I looked over at the Scorchio, then realized what the problem was with this plan. The ice had all melted off of the Scorchio, and she looked even angrier than before. I always seem to have to deal with Neopets who have anger issues, I noted as anonymous001 and I fled from her house in order to avoid the flames she was shooting after us.
After we were out of range, I pulled out my Striped Notebook and began recording in my top-secret Operation SOCKS log, which no eyes are to see besides mine and anonymous001’s. It remains hidden in my Safety Deposit Box so no one will ever be able to learn anything from it. Anyway, here’s what I wrote: “First encounter: Fire Scorchio. Nothing learned. Nothing found. Small victory.”
“Pardon a simple Jubjub for asking,” said anonymous001, “but how was what just transpired a small victory?”
“It’s a moral victory,” I told him.
“Um... we were attacked by flames and driven away from that Scorchio’s house without learning anything. How is that a moral victory?”
“I wouldn’t expect you to understand. Now, let’s try this Skeith.”
The Skeith was lying on the floor when we entered the house, and it appeared he had just finished eating something. Around his mouth were telltale rainbow coloured crumbs. He had eaten the evidence! How dare he! What kind of Neopet goes and eats a cupcake in his own house before a Neopet and his owner burst into it with no warning to begin a criminal investigation? I was quite frustrated, quite frustrated indeed at this development, so out of my Water Faerie Backpack I pulled an Evil Snowball. I leaned back, then heaved my body forward, tossing the snowball toward his face.
I waited for the impact of the snowball, but there was none. Instead, that dastardly Skeith opened his mouth and ate my weapon! anonymous001 and I stared in shock. If o_O were a word, I’m sure one of us would have uttered it at this point. I regained my wits quickly, though. Selecting a Wet Snowball, I hurled it toward our new rival. Amazingly, he managed to foil me again, eating this snowball as well.
Now, I was really upset. I decided to use the ultimate weapon: THE HONEY POTION, a weapon so truly ultimate I have to type it in caps. Unfortunately for me, the result was no different. The Skeith ate this item as well. I was amazed by this Skeith’s hunger. Someone ought to make a game about a Skeith that’s hungry some time. At the time, though, I was too furious to think about this great idea I’d come up with.
“That’s a million Neopoints down the drain!” I hollered. Actually, it was more like 800,000 NP, but I thought I’d try and extort some extra money out of the Skeith. He paid little attention to my ramblings, though, so I left, promising myself that I’d return later on with Lawyerbot to help me. When I left, it looked like the Skeith was just beginning to eat his staircase.
In the top-secret Operation SOCKS log that no one is allowed to read, I recorded, “Lost 800,000 NP and failed to learn anything new in encounter with Skeith, but made small gains overall.” After that was done, I looked at the list of Neopets, wondering who to choose next. It was a tough decision, so I passed it on to anonymous001. He selected the Yellow Ixi for some reason unbeknownst to me, but I went along with his choice.
We had no trouble locating the Yellow Ixi as she was working in her Neogarden at the moment. Probably burying our sprinkle so we’d never find it. I ran up to her. “Don’t...” I stopped to catch my breath. Five minutes later, when I’d regained my breath, I finished my statement. “...play coy with us! We know you stole the missing sprinkle from our Cupcake with Rainbow Frosting! Now let us into your house so we can search the premises, or we’ll be forced to use force!”
“Access denied!” she cried, and the fight began.
It was clear from the start of the battle that anonymous001 was the stronger Neopet, but after a few minutes I was getting bored of watching the conflict. In an attempt to make the match-up more interesting, I inserted myself into the action.
“Distraction Green Uni Morphing Potion!” I cried, throwing the potion up into the air. It came down upon the head of the Yellow Ixi, instantly transforming her into a Green Uni. Meanwhile, anonymous001 was trying to end the duel with his patented Jubjub Roll. However, flying up into the air with her new wings, the Green Uni was easily able to avoid the assault, and my Jubjub rolled past, eventually hitting a Spiky Bush. Ouch. The Green Uni Also Known As The Yellow Ixi surveyed her house, and seeing that all the windows and doors were shut and locked, flew away to safety.
I reached into my Water Faerie Backpack and pulled out my Striped Notebook, writing in the private Operation SOCKS log, “Encounter with Yellow Ixi a failure. Bad opponent selection by anonymous001 mainly at fault.”
“‘Bad opponent selection by anonymous001 mainly at fault?’” my pet quoted. “You’re the one who ruined everything! I had that Ixi beaten before you threw that stupid morphing potion. I can’t believe you’re putting all the blame on me!”
I managed to remain calm. “I didn’t blame you completely, anonymous. Didn’t you read it? It said ‘mainly at fault.’ I’m not too proud to accept a bit of the blame for this incident. Anyway, let’s move on to the next Neopet.”
The next Neopet on our list was a Shadow Jetsam. We knew that if we were going to undergo this task, we would have to look intimidating, so we set to work. Have you ever tried to make a Garlic Jubjub look intimidating? Probably not. Well, let me tell you, it’s not an easy task! Eventually, I decided to give anonymous001 a Hairy Tash and Plain Black Sunglasses. I was somewhat jealous as I’d wanted to be the one to wear a Hairy Tash, but my pet needed the makeover more than I did, although he might argue that point.
It turned out that our new enemy (Enemy Number Five, for those keeping track) lived at the top of a hill, so anonymous001 and I made the long trek to the top of the hill. We knocked on the Jetsam’s door, and after about a minute he appeared with a scowl on his face. I nervously edged behind anonymous001, although given that he’s only 53 cm tall, he really only protected me up to my knees. Well, at least if he attacks me, I thought, I’ll likely still be able to walk home afterward. From the knees down, I’ll be fully intact! Surprisingly, saying this to myself didn’t comfort me in the slightest.
The Shadow Jetsam stood there frowning, although technically Jetsams always frown. Still, though, I could tell he wasn’t happy, or at least even more unhappy than a normal Jetsam would be. While I was thinking this, I continued to stand there, not saying anything. Finally, this potential sprinkle robber turned to head back inside.
“Wait!” I cried, somewhat more high-pitched than intended. I tried to regain my composure, attempting a deep voice. “We got some bidness with you.” Note how I said bidness instead of business. One may take it as a typo on my part, but nay, that is not what it is! You see, the word bidness sounds more threatening than business. Keep that in mind if ever you are in a situation similar to this one.
Finally, the Jetsam spoke. “What business?” When he said business, it sounded more threatening than when I had said bidness, but only because of his presence and low voice. If he’d said bidness, it would’ve been even more intimidating.
I saw that I wasn’t going to out-intimidate this Neopet, so I decided to state just what my bidness was. Or perhaps business. I don’t know any more. “We think you stole a sprinkle from our cupcake. Now give it back, before we get really mad!” As I said this, anonymous001 stepped forward in a menacing manner.
I received a sneer in response. Then, that Jetsam slammed the door in our face! Well, actually, in anonymous001’s face. Yes, the door literally hit him in the face. anonymous001 staggered backward, then fell over, in the process knocking me down. The cupcake went flying onto the Jetsam’s front lawn. Meanwhile, my Jubjub rolled all the way down the hill, coming to a crash at the bottom. After getting back up, I ran down the hill to meet him.
“Well,” I said, “the cupcake’s ruined now. You can eat it if you want.”
For some reason, this kind gesture upset anonymous001. “So I only get nice food if it’s in such bad condition you can’t sell it in your shop? Thanks a lot,” he replied sarcastically.
In the end, we decided to leave the cupcake on the Jetsam’s lawn in an act of defiance. However, I was too angry to even write anything in my secret Operation SOCKS log, so I decided anonymous001 and I might as well go to the Giant Omelette to at least get him some lunch.
A few minutes later, we arrived in Tyrannia, but upon approaching the Giant Omelette, we discovered it was GONE!
“Well,” said anonymous001, “I suppose we can come back in about an hour and see if there’s a new Omelette then.”
“No!” I exclaimed. “Don’t you see it, anonymous? Someone took the last piece of omelette just to deprive us of the opportunity of getting a free lunch. We can’t let this Neopian get away with it! Oh, don’t you worry, my friend, we’ll do something about this! I’ll get another Honey Potion, a Leaded Elemental Vial, a few Super Attack Peas, a Wand of Ultranova, and maybe an H4000 Helmet for this mission!” I headed toward Sabre-X, ready to take down a list of names so anonymous001 and I could begin our new and likely even more dangerous mission...