Lissa looked up at the sky, her face pinched in concentration. The lightning Kyrii seemed to glow as the thunderclouds came rolling in. What she was staring at, however, were not the large ominous looking clouds, but what she thought she had seen beyond them. It had only been for a brief moment, but she could have sworn that she had glimpsed something streaking brightly across the sky.
“What’s up?” a voice behind her said jokingly, referring to her craning neck. Lissa knew it instantly as her friend Jasko, a rather glib spotted Blumaroo.
“I dunno,” Lissa replied seriously. “It looked like it might have come from the Space Station.”
“Really?” Jasko’s jovial tone was replaced with one of curiosity and apprehension as he too looked up at the sky. “Where do you think it landed?”
“I’m not sure if it did. It probably looked closer than it actually was, though, but still you think you’d hear or feel somethi—” a loud thud in the distance cut her off.
Both of them were silent for a moment, Lissa’s ears perked up high on her head as she looked around warily. Suddenly the ground began to tremble and shake under their feet. Lissa and Jasko both toppled to the ground landing on top of each other, Jasko yelped in pain as Lissa set off little static zaps where they had touched.
“Get off, get off, get off!” he urged her hurriedly. “You always get charged when there’s a storm approaching! Ow!”
Lissa quickly scrambled off of him, accidently hitting him in the nose with her forepaw in the frenzy, which resulted in one final loud electric snap before they broke contact. Jasko jumped up in pain, clutching his face and hopping around on his tail. Lissa still lay on the ground, her back pressed against the cool earth as she watched him with a grim but amused smile on her face.
“Mmmmf... tha’ ‘urt, Lis-uh,” he muttered, his paws still pressed against his face, muffling his voice.
“Sorry, Jasko, but I can’t help the color I am.” She grinned wryly. “Now how about helping me up?”
Jasko stared at her in disbelief. “You’re joking, right? You’ll turn me into a lightning rod if I grab your paw now. I may be a jester sometimes, Lissa, but I’m never a fool.”
“Fine, you got me.” Lissa shrugged as she pulled herself to her feet. “You want to go see what that bang was?”
“You mean the bang that was probably caused by the thing that fell from the Space Station? Yeah Lissa, sign me up for that disaster waiting to happen, sounds like a blast.”
“I guess that’s a no, huh?” Lissa grinned at him. “I know you’ll go anyway though.”
“Because I don’t want anything to happen to you?”
“You caught me. Well gee, what are best friends for? You know, I’ve always wanted to walk towards a crater that probably has all sorts of nasty things sitting in it.”
“Haven’t we all had that desire at some point?”
“I was kidding, Lissa; only an insane pet would want to do that... and you. But then again maybe you’re insane.”
“I just love the amount of confidence you seem to have in me.”
“So... Where do we go?”
Lissa snickered at him and pointed towards a large dust cloud that had appeared to their left a few miles away. “My guess would be over there.”
Jasko reddened slightly. “Oh. Right... I didn’t see that. Well, let’s get this over with quick.”
By the time they arrived at the crater it was raining heavily and Jasko was drenched from head to tail by the torrent. He glared enviously over at Lissa, noting that the rain simply evaporated as it hit her. As they approached the smell of damp earth was mingled with the acrid scent of burning metal in the air. A large plume of steam rose above the site as the raindrops sizzled as they hit the object lying inside.
The pair peered through the darkness, trying to see what horrors lay within the glowing pit that rested in front of them. They could hear metallic clicks and banging coming from the large shadowed object lying at the bottom of the hole. After a bunch of smaller clinks and clanks there was a large thud as something fell off the object. Even more steam hissed and rose in the air as the hot piece of fallen metal hit the sodden ground. Where it once had been, there was now a gaping hole.
“What is it?” Jasko hissed at Lissa, who was standing behind him and peeking over his shoulder.
“I dunno,” she whispered back. “It definitely came from the Station, though... looks like a pod of some sort. Look! Something’s moving!”
The pair quieted down again as they saw what looked like a hand reach out and grab the rim of the hole that had just appeared in the pod a few moments before. There was a sizzling sound as the hand met the burning metal and it quickly let go of the side of the open hatch, its owner crying out in pain. The quick motion caused the occupant to lose their balance and topple out ungracefully onto the muddy earth below.
“Urghhhhhhh...” they moaned clutching at their hand and curling up on the ground.
Lissa and Jasko edged closer, now that it looked like there was a remote chance of the situation being dangerous. What they saw was a rather small disheveled looking green Grundo dressed in what appeared to be a janitorial uniform. He looked muddy, disoriented, and clearly in pain. It also became apparent that the object he had fallen out of was indeed an escape pod.
“Uh, do you need some help?” Lissa asked cautiously.
The little Grundo glanced up, a startled and confused look on his face. “N-no, I be fine... Miss don’t n-need to help me... Sloth always says we isn’t worth help.”
He tried to get up on his feet but they were shaking so badly that he slipped and fell in the mud again, this time face first, his antennae bobbing up and down in a sadly comical manner. Jasko snickered and Lissa shot him a venomous look that quieted him down instantly.
“I’ve made up my own mind; I’m going to help you out of the crater!” Lissa called down to the Grundo, she then turned to Jasko. “You heard me... go help him out of the crater.”
“What? Why me? You said that you would help him. Not me. It’s not my job.”
“I’m electric. There’s a thunderstorm. If I grab that guy now, I’ll shock him.” Lissa looked at Jasko with a wicked grin on her face. “If you don’t go down there, I’ll shock you instead.”
“Fine. You always stick me with tasks like this,” Jasko muttered at her unhappily.
Jasko picked his way down through the muddy clods of dirt and rock and made his way to the heart of the crater where the Grundo still lay on the ground. He reached down, grabbed the alien’s uninjured hand and pulled him onto his feet.
“Nooo!” the Grundo squealed. “You is a customer. Customer don’t help! Sloth say customer don’t help!”
“You’re in luck, little alien guy, you’re on Neopia now... not the Space Station. So I’m not a customer and neither is Lissa up there.”
“Lissa?” the Grundo squeaked, a little calmer. “What’s a Lissa?”
“That’s her name,” Jasko said, exasperation entering his voice as he jabbed his finger in Lissa’s direction. “My name is Jasko. Don’t you have a name?”
“Name? Daichi be my name sir. I be a janitor for the Space Station.” He glanced up shyly at Jasko, as if unsure how to react.
“Well, you’re not a janitor anymore if you took an escape pod and left, are you?” Jasko asked him dryly.
Daichi blinked at him, uncomprehending for a moment before he turned around and looked at the pod as if he’d seen if for the first time. A look of panic spread across his face.
“Oh, no, no, no, no, no! The pod! The pod! I be cleaning the pod and I be rubbing the red button with the rag so it be shiny and the door be closing on poor Daichi. Then there was a rumbling and I be shot off of the Station! Sloth will be yelling at Daichi and I is going to be assigned to cleaning the vacuum lock without any suit for what happened!” Tears began to well up in Daichi’s eyes as he thought of his fate.
“Oy! Hey there, calm down, er... Daichi,” Jasko said awkwardly, patting the little trembling Grundo in what he thought might be a comforting manner. “You don’t have to go back there if you don’t want to.”
“I doesn’t?” He looked up hopefully. “Then where be I going?”
“You can come live with us!” Lissa called down from the top of the crater, gesturing excitedly to both herself and Jasko, who did, in fact live with her.
Jasko let out an inaudible moan. “Yeah... you can... live with us.”
“I can be living with you?” The little Grundo began quivering with excitement and Jasko had to grab him by the scruff of his uniform to prevent him from toppling over again.
“Um yeah... how about we get outta this pit now?”
“Okay! Okay! We be going!”
Daichi began to rush up the face of the crater with a burst of new found energy, yelping whenever he grabbed at a piece of rock with his injured hand. Jasko sighed and followed carefully behind him, pausing whenever the little Grundo came upon any slippery looking rocks, preparing to catch him so he wouldn’t fall to the bottom of the hole again. Soon both had made it to the top and Lissa hurried over to greet them anxiously.
“You okay?” she asked, rushing past Jasko and peering at Daichi.
“I be fine, Miss Lissa,” he said, looking up at her wide-eyed, cradling his hand and dripping with mud and rainwater.
“Oooh, no, you aren’t; your hand is hurt!” she said, frowning. “Jasko, wrap up his hand.”
“Sometimes you’re really horrid, you know that?” Jasko wrinkled his nose at Lissa but proceeded to do what he was told, ripping off a piece of Daichi’s own uniform to use as a bandage.
When he was done, Jasko pulled back to survey his handiwork. Daichi grinned at him, showing a couple of spaces where there should have been teeth.
“There! You should feel a little better now,” Lissa said, smiling at Daichi affectionately. “I can’t do anything about the mud or the rain, though, so we should head home.”
“Yeah... I’m exhausted and covered in mud too. I can’t wait to get indoors,” Jasko said, sighing longingly.
“Home?” Daichi squeaked hopefully.
“Yeah, home. Yours too if you want to stay,” Lissa said, beaming.
“Daichi be wanting to stay! Home! Home! I’m going home!”
The little Grundo ran happily ahead of Lissa and Jasko as they began to walk back, hopping in mud puddles in the rain as he went. Jasko looked over at Lissa with a slight smile on his face. They felt exhausted but the ordeal had left them feeling lighter than air on the inside.
“Looks like we have a new friend... didn’t see that one coming,” Jasko commented casually.
“Yeah. This all worked rather well, don’t you think?”
“Mmmm... I just have one request, Lissa.”
“What’s that?” she asked curiously.
“The next time you go shopping, buy the guy a couple of books.”
“Jasko! That’s rude!” Lissa swatted at him in the arm, the contact making little zaps.
“Is you guys be coming to home with Daichi?” the little Grundo called back at them, looking concerned that they were taking so long.
“Yeah! You go on ahead, Daichi!” Lissa called after him, then turned to Jasko. “Okay, so maybe you have a point there. I’ll get him a couple of books.”
Laughing softly under their breath, the pair walked side by side, their new addition still skipping excitedly way ahead of them. Slowly the rain began to stop and the dark storm clouds drifted away, leaving a clear black sky freckled in stars. The chilly air brushed up against their faces and they shivered with the cold, but neither of them cared; they were going home.