Show Me Your True Colors
Recklace felt like a bow string pulled too tightly; her body was a knot of tense muscles as she quivered, but there was no going back. The new issue of the Neopian Times had just arrived and Tigralie and AttemianX were in the kitchen reading it. Waiting for the axe to fall, her ears strained to hear what was being said in the other room. She knew they'd be coming for her after they'd seen what she had done.
The Christmas Ixi decided to push the thought from her mind before it could breach her sanity, allowing the attractive fireplace to lure her into a false sense of relaxation. She slipped on her usual expression of nonchalance and curled up, fur soft as a Mallard's down and highlighted by the glowing flames...
Only a short time passed before the meek Altachuck beside her yipped in warning as a spotted, velvet Kougra and an enviously green Kougra stepped in the room with intimidating presence. Recklace raised her head and glared at them suspiciously.
“Looking to get the Grey Day award or something? Wipe that sour look off your face.” Tigralie smirked, casually flickering her tan and black tail back and forth.
“What are you guys up to now?”
“You wrote a short story in the NT about us called Well Now, Who Surprised Who?.”
Recklace didn't reply. Despite her knowing this confrontation would eventually happen she was still frightened of how they'd react. How they'd get revenge.
The two Kougras exchanged smiles and AttemianX winked roguishly. “The residents of Happy Valley want us out of town for the day; want to come?”
“...I'll pass this time,” Recklace answered almost too quickly, not sure of their intentions. She could easily believe the locals would make such a request, though. Tigralie and AttemianX were her new roommates, a chaos creating duo. On April Fool's Day, back when Tigralie was an elegant red shade, they had temporarily painted themselves opposite. So everyone thought Tigralie was AttemianX and AttemianX was Tigralie. A prank that sent the two laughing uproariously well into that night. A week before that they bought a load of tropical plants and topsoil, setting them up in their neighbor Kacheek's yard so that she'd think the snow had miraculously melted. Much to their delight when she woke up and saw it, she dressed up in a swimsuit and ran outside giggling... only to find it was still freezing and a group of ice skaters stared at her in shock. On Grey Day they had run around drawing giant cheshire grins on the celebrators' sad faced masks with a fat black marker and tickling Grey painted Neopets till they laughed.
“Mmm.” Recklace was brought back to the present just in time to see the tail end of an assessing glance from Tigralie. The Kougras nodded, turning around gracefully and leaving as silently as they had come. The painted pet breathed a sigh of relief.
“She doesn't trust us,” Tigralie commented as soon as they were out of earshot, trying to sound offended. A sideways glance at her counterpart's unimpressed expression made her see he didn't sympathize.
“Maybe it's because you've been pretending to hunt the poor Ixi ever since she got here. Springing from around corners and waiting in the closet so that when she opened it you could jump out at her,” AttemianX chided.
“No, that can't be it.” Tigralie pursed her thin black lips and began pulling things off a shelf and packing them into a small backpack before handing it over to him to carry.
“Though now that she's published a story in the Neopian Times, I have to write a better one and get it published. Are we taking the petpets on this trip?”
“I don't think so. It's too easy for them to get lost there.” She cooed, pausing to pet her Sklyde who appeared as soon as he sensed he was being talked about.
“By the way, where are we going?”
“You'll see.” She grinned mischievously and it wasn't long before AttemianX found himself on an island with a giant Techo-faced mountain rising up out of the center of it.
They leapt off the ship and onto the splintering old dock. It shook and groaned as they landed, and the two quickly made their way onto the beach, ears flat back on their skulls. Too wary of the water to risk the structure failing.
“Ah, Mystery Island.” Shaking himself and visibly relaxing, the male Kougra smiled contentedly and scrunched up his toes in the sand. “It's so sunny and warm.”
Tigralie turned around and waved goodbye sweetly to the captain of the boat that had taken them there. “Come on, let's go see Tombola.”
“He scares me. I want to take the Tiki Tour. I hear you can meet some cute Kougras.”
“Tombola first.” AttemianX shrugged noncommittally and allowed Tigralie to drag him to the ramshackle hut.
It was cool and shady inside, with no floor and a large raffle box on a plain table. A hefty being towered in the corner. Eyes glinting behind a crude mask made of wood.
“Welcome to my Tombola!” he greeted them cheerfully... unexpectedly.
Tigralie held her breath and extracted a ticket... She shrugged and tossed the slim piece of paper aside.
“Oh dear, that's not a winning ticket...”
“Hey, Tombola Man?” AttemianX interrupted. “What species are you?” He leaned forward conspiratorially. “You're kind of the shape of... hey, you're not related to Sloth by any chance.”
The big, masked creature hunched with displeasure and shoved them out roughly.
Tigralie laughed and nudged the green Kougra's shoulder with her own. “That was an absolute riot! Come on, let's head to the Trading Post and see what they've got.”
“But what about the Tiki Tour?” Attem glanced over at Neopets carrying Zafara Tourist Cameras, surrounding the volcano with evident awe, while he wondered if Tigralie would be up to carving a giant Kougra head into the rock with him right next to the Techo.
“Give it a rest.” She smirked. “We're not going to waste my time listening to that little Coconut guide ramble on. Besides, what pretty Island Kougra would want you? You're just a boring basic Green.”
Attem grew resentful, a feeling that was not new to him ever since Tigralie got painted with a new coat of wild spots. She appeared more smug lately and condescending. He was quickly growing tired of it. Little could Tigralie guess the events that conspired to take place as a result of her vanity, later that day.
They passed under a lush canopy of tropical greens and into the large hall filled with eager barterers. Tigralie roamed around observing lots while AttemainX stood by the doorway and glowered... until something caught his eye.... and a wicked little plan began to form.
As the day drew to a close, Tigralie had offered on several items while Attem found himself the new owner of two beverage types which he kept secret from his female friend as they sailed the long way home, watching one of the famed tropical sunsets light up the water.
It was dark when they shuffled into their snow covered cottage. Attem immediately went to the kitchen as Tigralie paused to feed the Petpets. Carefully, he pulled two bottles out of the backpack. One was still wrapped and the other was an innocent can of Neocola. He downed its contents quickly, then, with a perceptive eye, he poured the liquid from the bulky mystery container into the now empty can without spilling a drop. He smirked maliciously before going outside to throw away the evidence... while Recklace sleepily stepped into the kitchen for a late night snack. Tigralie followed behind her, reaching on to a shelf for a Tchea Fruit. Both girls observed the can at the same time and prepared to stubbornly fight for it.
“It's mine,” Recklace pressed, though inwardly quaking. After a long day she decided their failure to retaliate proved they were accepting her. And she didn't want to lose her new respect by backing down easily.
“I've been out all day. And I haven't had Neocola in a long-” the Spotted Kougra began, but out of the corner of her eye she noticed Attem watching them from the window, his countenance somewhat between anxiety and impishness. With a second glance, she became more perturbed that the can was opened. “You know what. I'm not in the mood. It's all yours, darlin',” she drawled, a tad loudly, grinning as she saw the green Kougra's face betray his sudden panic. The painted Ixi smiled, and took several huge refreshing gulps.
“No!” AttemianX burst through the door desperately but it was too late. Already Tigralie was fighting back shock and laughter as the disguised morphing potion took effect and Recklace's horns began to diminish, her brown fur melting into a brightened orange. The former Christmas Ixi was not as amused as she watched her shiny hooves shift into hefty paws.
“So, you were going to... 'change me' into a plainer color, AttemainX?” Tigralie inquired as Recklace's tail flourished in length, a spiraling stripe growing into it. “Well, at least you were going to let me stay the same species. What, were you jealous?”
His mouth had suddenly gone dry, but he managed to hoarsely respond in an oddly rational manner. “You were being such an unbearable beast ever since you got painted.” Gulping, he looked forlornly at Recklace, now a fully Orange Kougra though still with her old irate expression. “I am so sorry.”
“Sorry doesn't cut it,” she snarled, too angry to realize her timidity had decreased with the growing of her predatory form. “I can't believe it! I have a craving for meat!!”
“You'll get used to it.” Tigralie sniggered. Recklace stood still, her face the picture of stupefaction.
“Get used to it?” She mewed weakly. “You mean you're not changing me back?”
“It's technically AttemianX's turn to get painted, and he has his eye on an expensive brush. It's going to take a long while.”
And like that Recklace fainted, collapsing on the floor. Attem picked her up with a guilty expression. Tigralie noticed this with satisfaction as she mulled over how he'd think twice before trying something like that again on her. Imagine! Orange! The very idea. As he took the ex-Ixi off to her room, the Spotted Kougra recycled the can, careful not to let the liquid on the edge touch her. “If he had got me, that would've been a good one, though.” She quietly chuckled before heading off to bed herself, the dim light from a cracked doorway down the hall glinting on her bared fangs. “Lucky for him he didn't.”