Come dance with the Wanderers... Circulation: 177,117,051 Issue: 324 | 4th day of Sleeping, Y10
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Dusk's Enterprise: Research Inc. - Part Seven

by alkuna_


The day burned bright and hot, as every day in Tyrannia always did. Migga whickered contentedly and took deep breaths of the muggy, dusty Plateau air. I wordlessly handed sunglasses to my wincing classmates and we took up seats in a nice shady spot so that no one would end up baking in the heat.

     As the magical hour drew near, the buzz of the crowd grew more excited in anticipation of the new song to be released by the awesome band.

     As the lights dimmed, my heart thundered eagerly for the wash of energy and fierce joy that came with thousands of screaming fans, and music that pounded straight into my heart.

     “Are you ready to paaaaarrrtttyyy?!” came the rousing yell from the darkness.

     The crowd roared in answer, and the music blasted, lights blazed, and the three Moehogs roared onto the scene with their instruments; revving the crowd up with some old favorites. Migga’s expression was one of patient tolerance; it had been already been known that Moehawk wasn’t her kind of band, but she stayed with us to enjoy her home for the holiday.

     “All right,” Candon finally announced to the crowd, “Now you don’t know this song, but you will soon enough. How many of you are painted fire out there?”

     Scattered cheers responded.

     “All right, not many, but this song’s for all of you wearing dark colors. Fire, Shadow... or...” he gave the first five rows a heart melting smile, “Darigan.”

     My classmates and I cheered loudly and I caught Candon’s quick glance and triumphant grin as he finally noticed us, “This song is for you... I’m Painted Black (With Flames).”

     The entire crowd quieted down, eagerly listening to the soft beginning strains of music. This felt a bit different from the hard, fast paced music they usually played. As I listened, I was started to realize it was a love song, but not one of those sappy romantic songs. It was gritty, realistic and determined to show that no matter how dark the guy seemed, he well and truly cared for his special someone and wanted to share those feelings.

     To my surprise

     The Darkness slides nigh

     But deep inside

     I know I’m flamin’

     Feel my soul now,

     A raging inferno

     They say there is no dark

     Without the light

     So let me show you

     I’m painted black

     With flames

     I’m Painted black

     Just feel my heartbeat

     It burns with a deafening light

     Burning straight into your soul

     I’m painted black

     And brighter than ever

     So take my hand

     Take this flame

     Never let it go

     For in your heart my light will grow

     I’ll share with you my secrets

     I’ll share with you my light

     I want to show you all of me

     What eyes never see,

     What only hearts can feel

     I’m painted black

     With flames

     I’m painted black

     Just feel my heartbeat

     It burns with a deafening light

     Burning straight into your soul

     I’m painted black

     And brighter than ever

     When the song ended, the entire crowd screamed their approval. We cheered and clapped right along, pleased to hear a song that didn’t make the darkness into something evil. Even Migga nodded her approval.

     “How dreamy,” sighed a Cybunny at my side, and I refrained from rolling my eyes. “I’ll bet there’s something to those tall dark and handsome boys.”

     Shade winced and hid behind Twilight’s large Darigan Zafara wings as girls began looking speculatively around them.

     “Somebody’s afraid of girls.” I smiled.

     “A pack of babbling, cooing, lovesick girls,” Shade retorted, ducking when a Faerie Ixi looked in his direction. “They have cooties, and I don’t mean the petpetpets.”

     “So what am I? A Doglefox?” Twilight demanded, putting her hands on her hips and half folded her wings, threatening to expose him to the mass of girls nearest to us.

     “No no no! I mean, uh, you’re okay and um, I don’t think YOU have cooties but uh...” Shade tried to cover for his verbal blunder but it was too late; an eye searing pink Lupe had spotted him and her gushing squeal brought the attention of every girl within five rows.

     “Oooh, hello, handsome,” she said, pulling the helpless Lupe from his hiding place.

     “What say we head out, girls?” Depth asked us, grinning as Shade tried to fend off the nearest group of chatty girls.

     “Yes, let’s,” Twilight laughed.

     We made it to the outskirts of the crowd before Shade caught up with us, his fur frazzled by the many hands that had tried to pet his fur and pinch his cheek and other gushy stuff.

     “I hate you all,” he growled. “I am traumatized for life!”

     “Watch what you say or I’ll call another mob over,” I threatened, but a smile was working its way across my muzzle.

     As ‘traumatized’ as Shade was, I was pleased by the reactions of the fans tonight. And I was glad to hear that someone was helping others understand that our dark colors didn’t mean we were all bad.


     The next day dawned bright and cheery, and it was a bleary eyed Neopia who rolled out of bed, still sleepy from the previous day’s parties. Most were still lethargic from stuffing themselves full of food and dessert all the previous day. None of our teachers wanted anything to do with homework or even class work; school was closed... for just one more day to let the effects of the party wear off.

     I felt lazy and content, but rather bored. Deciding I was bored enough to work, I went to Research Inc and started going through paperwork. If it meant I could sit down and still get something done, I was all for it. Migga joined me a few hours later, but the rest of my team stayed home.

     The bells gave a jingle as a tentative looking Island Lutari waddled in. I shared a glance with Migga. No one was scheduled for today; we’d planned ahead for that. Still...

     “Hello,” I greeted him politely, setting down my paperwork. “How may I help you?”

     “Well... I hope you can.” He twiddled his claws nervously. “That is... I would like a Shadow paint brush, if I may.”

     “Well, I see no problem with that.” I pulled out an application for him. “You do realize, however, that Lutari aren’t available in Shadow, right?”

     “Oh! Of course, of course! I’m sorry, I didn’t explain myself.” He smiled shyly. “M-my sister’s birthday is in two weeks. She’s a Yurble. And she went to this concert last night. I guess something happened there and... well, she wants to be painted a dark color all of a sudden. I have the Neopoints, of course.”

     I tried not to look skeptical. Of course, after Moehawk’s song, dark colors would be a large fad for a little while. I was concerned that a month or so after she was painted, his sister wouldn’t like the color so much after all. Still, it wasn’t my job to say so. We could only consult, not make decisions for the client.

     I handed him the application. “Does your sister want a petpet or weapons or makeup? We can find those for her too.”

     “She doesn’t like the Battledome,” the Lutari admitted, “and she’s kind of a tomboy. The last time someone tried to teach her how to be a ‘lady’, she chased them right out of the house. She did say she wanted a Doglefox, though, doesn’t matter what color. Maybe my Dad or my brothers could pitch in and we can all give her this as one big present! Petpet stuff, a petpet, a paint brush!” His face lit up with the idea.

     Migga nodded enthusiastically. “That sounds like a wonderful idea,” she agreed. “Why don’t you take this form home and all of you can fill it out for her?”

     “This is going to be one enormous order,” I muttered to Migga after the Lutari waddled happily out, “You do know every member of the family is going to want to order something through us.”

     Migga whickered in agreement. “Hmm. Perhaps so. Depth is going to let off a royal whinny when she finds out we’ve been through her stuff.”

     My head snapped around in surprise. “What? Why?”

     “Because she doesn’t have any Petpet items in her collection,” Migga chortled, “and we should add to it.”

     I groaned and clunked my head down on my desk. “And today was supposed to be easy.”

     “It will be easy, Dusk,” Migga reassured me. “We just need to ask for a catalog from the store and make sure that it’s up to date from time to time. Here, I’ll go get it for you. You just finish up the rest of the paperwork in front of you.”

     I smiled. “Thanks, Migga.”

     She came back an hour later talking cheerfully with a human who was paging through the brand new catalog she’d apparently picked up.

     “Well, that didn’t take long,” I said in mild amusement, sorting the last of the paperwork into their Complete or Incomplete folders, and smiled warmly as the bells jingled, the human opening the door politely for Migga and letting her trot through first.

     My eyes widened when the human stepped in and I got a look at his face. It was him! The human who had given us the idea for a consulting business to begin with! He smiled at my startled expression and stepped aside to let the Lutari and a Zafara follow at his heels. The Pteri still perched on his shoulder contentedly.

     “It seems you guys have been doing quite well with my suggestion.” He smiled. “I heard you’re already stuck at appointments only.”

     “Pretty much,” I agreed, and then I smiled. “Though today I think we can handle a walk in or two.”

     Migga brought several chairs to my desk so everyone could sit down.

     “Glad to hear it. We’ve all decided to order some items through your business, so we’ve got a big order for you.” The owner shook hands with me and opened the catalog Migga had let him borrow.

     The three pets straightened eagerly and pointed out the items they wanted to buy, while I made a hasty list for each one, putting their names by the items they planned to buy.

     The Lutari was quickly distracted by the sight of Obsidian, and curiosity getting the better of him, he slid to the floor and whistled softly to the Gruslen, clicking his claws on the floor in hopes of enticing him over.

     “Ahh ahh, Lutior,” his owner hastily corrected his pet. “You forgot the first rule of strange petpets.”

     “Oopsie. Right.” Lutior looked over at me. “Is your Gruslen friendly?”

     I smiled. “Friendly enough, if you understand Gruslens. Your best bet is to let him come to you if he’s interested.”

     Soon enough Obsidian decided that the Lutari was interesting enough to examine and sauntered over, giving him a small sniff before allowing Lutior to scritch lightly behind his ears.

     Fascinated, the Zafara leaned back to watch the interaction of pet and petpet. The Pteri, however, retreated to his Owner’s far shoulder and hid from the feline, muttering about cats and birds not belonging together. That’s weird, I thought, blinking in mild confusion at him, Why would cats and birds NOT get along? I’ve never had problems with Pteri before.

     “How did you end up with such a noble fellow?” Lutior asked, having coaxed the now purring Obsidian into his lap and was rhythmically stroking from the top of his head to his rump. Obsidian was a relaxed puddle of contentment under this treatment.

     “I got him from a breeder,” I informed them, “which is where you want to get all your petpets if you want a companion. Which...” I glanced at the paperwork, “is what you want for your Birthday girl.”

     At the Owner’s nod and set the paper down. “Okay, now here’s the biggest thing that I have to impress on you. Most of the petpets we get are through the Trading Post. What we get there is what we get. There’s no way to pick the perfect petpet that way. If you really want a good companion for...” I checked the name, “Arouna. I’m going to need you,” I looked in the Owner’s eye, “to be there with me when I go pick the petpet out. You know what your daughter would like.”

     “I’ll be free all of Tuesday if you’d like. But we should be getting home. Arouna will be getting suspicious soon if we’re all out and about at once.”

     The week progressed, as hectic as ever. Arouna’s owner slipped in for an outing with me and we checked out the Doglefox puppies that rolled and tumbled and romped around in the yard, carefully observed by the breeder and under the watchful but benign momma Doglefox.

     I explained the fine points of picking the perfect Petpet and showed him how to test the puppies for their reactions. He observed and played with each pup, getting a feel for their behaviors. In the end, he picked an energetic male pup, deciding it would be the best one for his tomboy Yurble who liked to romp around and explore in the woods.

     I agreed to keep the Doglefox puppy at the shop until everything could be picked up. In return, we’d get another percentage to pay for basic training and proper care. At Depth’s suggestion, Twilight got hold of a ribbon that could be tied into a bow and attached to the puppy’s collar like a present.

     One by one, items started coming in. Each time, I checked them off the list Arouna’s owner had made of the items they would buy from us. In the end, the supplies included a Luxury Castle Petpet Bed, a Cloud Litter Tray, a Starry Symol Bathtub, a Raindorf Scratching Rug, an Ettaphant Petpet Tunnel, and an Ettaphant Petpet Tunnel. I trained the puppy how to use the items as they came in, and gave him a bath and a good brushing on the day Arouna was to come in to pick her gifts up.

     She was surprised and delighted, of course, to find the items all lined up and ready to go home. She cooed and gushed over the puppy and squealed with delight over the paintbrush. The items had all been paid for by then, and Depth had done up some quick vouchers for her to exchange for each of her items today. She traded them in one by one, and in proper Shop form, we handed her each of her gifts, each tagged with gift tags to show who had gotten her what.

     As the door shut after yet another satisfied set of customers, we all breathed a sigh of relief.

To be continued...

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Other Episodes

» Dusk's Enterprise: Research Inc. - Part One
» Dusk's Enterprise: Research Inc. - Part Two
» Dusk's Enterprise: Research Inc. - Part Three
» Dusk's Enterprise: Research Inc. - Part Four
» Dusk's Enterprise: Research Inc. - Part Five
» Dusk's Enterprise: Research Inc. - Part Six
» Dusk's Enterprise: Research Inc. - Part Eight

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