The Peculiar Incident that is Goldie the Snowbunny: Part One
Indeed, it was a gorgeous day in Neopia Central. It was the type of day that lures even the most reclusive of pets outside to enjoy the weather. Saphire125 the purple Acara was doing just that with her owner. They were walking home from a full day of shopping, and Saphie was eager to get home for dinner, but this didn’t serve as a surprise; she got eager about everything.
The duo was weaving in between the crowds in the marketplace when Saphie spotted someone.
“Mommy, look, Mommy!” She tugged her owner’s sleeve. “It’s the Lab Scorchio!”
Mommy’s real name is Jane, and while her pets simply addressed her as ‘Mom’ or ‘Mommy’, we will call her Jane for her identity’s sake. Jane’s dark brown eyes searched the crowds to find the eccentric scientist.
“Yes...?” she asked warily.
“Let’s go say hi!” She pulled her owner forward.
“Uh... Saphie, we’d better not...”
Jane had always kept the matter to herself that she used the Lab Ray to zap her pets. Many famous Neopians, and even her friends, criticized the use of the ray.
“Who would be so heartless as to zap their beloved pets with a huge ray that is capable of Fyora knows what?!”
“I think it’s just wrong that owners would put their pets at such a risk!”
“How mean and irresponsible to experiment on your own pets!”
These very words had caused shame to the young owner, who was no older than sixteen, and her light brown hair and round fair skinned face gave her an even younger appearance. Jane was prone to bouts of self consciousness, and she suddenly felt one the second she laid eyes on the Doc. Saphie was clueless to her owner’s insecurities, and didn’t feel Jane’s grip tighten and her heels dig into the sidewalk.
“Saphie, please, let’s not...”
“Mr. Lab Guy!” Saphie called “Mr. Lab Guy!!”
The Lab Scorchio turned and smiled to see one of his many clients.
“Oh, it’s Jane and Saphie. What are you doing out here?”
“I’d like to ask you the same.” Jane looked around to make sure she didn’t see anyone she knew.
“I’m off to find a site for my newest lab.”
The girls looked at him with keen interest.
“You see, I was experimenting with my Petpet, and it seemed to have gone horribly wrong, but I soon discovered he’s as much of a genius as I am!” The Scorchio let out a loud maniacal cackle. “Meet my Kookith, girls!”
The scientist revealed a freaky looking Kookith that resembled his owner in some odd way.
“Oh it’s... very nice, sir...” Jane struggled to find a good word of praise, but even more she just wanted to disappear.
“What does he do?!” Saphie asked, her eyes glowing with delight.
“I’ve invented a new ray that can zap Petpets, and my Kookith here will be the one to run it!”
Now Jane desperately wanted to leave.
“It’s very nice, Doctor, but, um, we’ve really gotta go.” She grabbed her pet’s paw and took off.
Saphie looked back through the crowds at the Doctor and his new Petpet, and suddenly wondered why no one else had stopped to stare at them.
“Mommy, why did we have to leave?” Saphie grumbled.
Jane ignored her question. “He’s inventing another ray; I can’t believe it,” she said breathlessly.
“Can we zap our Petpets?” Saphie asked.
“What?!” Jane should have expected such a question to come from such a spontaneous Acara. She quickly recovered, as she had been thinking the same thing.
“Maybe, Mommy’ll have to think about it.”
Honestly, this new ray sparked Jane’s curiosity. Who knew what Petpets she could get without using money for a paint brush?
“No!” She shook her head. “That makes me a mean owner!”
Saphie looked quite confused to see her owner yelling at herself.
“Are you okay, Mommy?”
“Yes, I’m just fine.” She squeezed her pet’s hand. “Let’s just go home.”
--Membury Close, Roo Island--
“Coanneranne! Amrakarii! We’re home!” Jane called.
Saphie could hear a soft melody being played in the room above her. Coanneranne’s violin abruptly stopped at her owner’s voice.
“Mom, Saphie! You’re home already?” Amrakarii flew down the stairs on her purple wings. She stopped in front of Jane and took some of her bags.
“Karii’s right; that was quick.” Coanneranne followed collectively down the stairs.
Jane had had Coanneranne and Saphie as long as she could remember, and she knew everything about her pets. Like how Coanneranne preferred to be called by her entire name, and she liked her lifestyle neat and clean, from her fur to her room. She always did the very best in school, and it matched her firm and confident personality. The oldest must have these traits to have a place in the family as a good leader to the younger siblings, but they also made her bossy.
“Guess what! Guess what!?” Saphie immediately said. “Mr. Lab Guy is making a ray for Petpets!!”
Saphie, the younger sister, got her way by being loud and forceful. Jane also knew that she was jealous of her big sister, a Faerie Ixi, because she didn’t have wings and had numbers by her name. Saphie was only a plain purple, but Jane always told her how much she liked purple. It also helped that Saphie had a Snowbunny Petpet and Coanneranne only had a Baby Fireball.
“Wow!” Amrakarii exclaimed.
Amrakarii was a visiting pet, and behind closed doors she was the ‘labrat’. Once a red Wocky, she was now a purple Korbat and was quite happy at the Roo Island residence. She was by far the most patient of her temporary sisters, and Jane agreed she was also more mild mannered, a good balance for her Acara and Ixi siblings.
“Are we getting that one too, Mom?” Coanneranne asked. “What if I got a Faellie? Or if Saphie got a Kookith?” Her eyes glazed over with thought.
Jane shuddered at the word ‘Kookith’.
“I’m still thinking about it, guys. I mean, it could be expensive, and you know I just spent a lot on the bathroom renovations...”
“Awww...” Her purple trio let out a long groan.
“I-I said I’d think about it, so don’t do that! We need to make dinner.” Jane began to rummage the cabinets, but they were awfully bare. She had forgotten to go grocery shopping this week. “Well... it is nice outside. Let’s just grab a pizza!”
“Should we go zap Karii on the way?” Coanneranne asked.
“Yup, there’s a boat leaving for Neopia Central right now, so we should make it.” Jane searched for the house keys, lest the Pant Devil might come and steal something if she didn’t lock the house.
The crowds of Neopians seemed to slow down with the setting sun as the family of four made their way to Pizzaroo. Jane began to envision the possibilities of that new ray, something that could zap Petpets... she couldn’t imagine...
“Hello, Jane! Would you try my new Petpet ray?”
“Yes, Doc, I’d love to!”
"Jane! What happened to your Petpet? It’s a DEVILPUSS!”
“Jane what have you done!?”
“You ruined your pet’s little Petpet!”
“How could you, Jane?!”
Once again her thought process turned against her, sped up her legs and clouded her vision; her poor pets watched her run through the streets and finally crash into Pizzaroo.
“Mom!” Coanneranne half flew-half ran to help her owner. “Are you alright?!”
Jane sat up and rubbed her head. “Coanneranne, you don’t think I’m bad for zapping pets, do you?”
“No, why would we think that?”
“It’s fun!” Saphie added, not that she had ever been zapped, but she was still at that age where she believed that her owner could do no wrong.
“I don’t mind,” Amrakarii agreed. “It’s fun to see what will happen next!”
Jane frowned. “I just don’t want anything to happen to your Petpets that’ll upset you.” And she most certainly didn’t want her friends to find out.
“What’s the worst that could happen?” Coanneranne casually asked.
“Yeah,” Saphie said with her usual loud voice, “it’s not like they could turn to dust or anything.”
--Secret Petpet Laboratory Ray--
“MY SNOWBUNNY!!!” Saphie cried hysterically. “HE’S TURNED TO DUST!!”
Shortly after a dinner of Pizzaroo, they had gone to the Lab Ray for Amrakarii to gain two defense points from the lab ray; and the doctor had offered to zap Saphie’s Snowbunny as his Kookith’s first experiment. Of course she willingly agreed, and it did not work out well.
The Kookith looked at a loss for what to do as he gently scooped up the pile of dirt and handed it to Saphie. As they exited the secret facility, Saphie began to cry,
“My *sniff* Petpet *sniff* is GONE!!”
“No, he’s not,” Coanneranne argued. “He’s just dust instead of a Snowbunny. Right, Mom?”
Jane was stricken with guilt. She scrambled to come up with some type of consolation.
“I-I’m really sorry, Saphie, we should have waited for someone else to try it first.”
“You could try again tomorrow.” Amrakarii’s attempt to soothe her sister was met with an indignant “NO!”
“We’re not zapping my poor Petpet again!” Saphie began to shed a new batch of tears.
“What will my friends say about this?” Jane almost wailed.
Meanwhile the poor Kookith was standing helplessly by his ray. Coanneranne didn’t know if he wanted to help them, or wanted them to leave. Two crying girls didn’t do good for anyone's nerves, so she finally intervened in her usual way.
“Who cares?!” she yelled, halting her sister’s and owner’s tears. “It’s your money; you can spend it however you want!” Her translucent wings lay flat against her back.
Jane rubbed her eyes with her dirty sleeve.
“Coanneranne, it’s a lot more complicated than that. I-”
“ –Listen to them too much?” Amrakarii interrupted.
Jane shook her head. “...Today was a long day. Let’s just go home.”
Coanneranne turned back and nodded to the Kookith in valediction; he breathed a visible sigh and turned back to start working on the machine. She turned back and watched Saphie shakily pick up her pile of dirt, careful not to misplace any particle. A sudden morbid thought passed Coanneranne’s mind that if they zapped her pile of dirt again, he might only be half formed if any of him blew away or something. Amrakarii flew by Jane’s side on the way out of the lab, with the other sisters trailing silently behind them.
The rest of the night, Saphie locked herself in her room to cry over her pile of dust and Jane sat at the kitchen table to cry over Saphie’s pile of dust. Coanneranne and Amrakarii sat in the backyard relaxing on lawn chairs. They had been through this process many times: when their owner was upset, they simply sat out back and waited for the storm to pass.
“I can’t believe her Snowbunny was zapped to smithereens,” Amrakarii said suddenly.
“I can’t believe Saphie let him do it.” Coanneranne sighed. “It’s so typical for her to just jump into something so reckless.... I want to zap mine next.”
Amrakarii practically jumped off of her lawn chair. “What?!”
“I want to see what else that ray’s capable of.” The faerie Ixi turned to her sister. “Aren’t you a little bit curious?”
“Well... maybe a little, but...”
“Coanneranne, Karii,” Jane’s voice called them through the window, “come on inside; I have dessert.”
They joined their owner and little sister at the table to eat some slushies with a heavy air of melancholy.
“So Saphie, Mom...” Coanneranne began, “Karii and I were thinking of trying the ray on my Baby Fire ball tomorrow.”
Jane set down her slushie. “Do you really wanna try?”
“Yes! Maybe Saphie’s... didn’t quite turn out, but...” she pounded the table, “I think it’s worth another try!”
So the next day the family planned on giving the Petpet lab ray another attempt. Jane felt her lunch heighten in her stomach as they got closer. She knew that if something terrible happened, Coanneranne might never forgive her. Granted, it was Coanneranne’s idea, but Jane had never been the type to place blame on others. Saphie had left her shadow of a Petpet at home and remained silent. She didn’t even want to go near the Ray again, much less zap another Petpet with it. Thinking about it now, Saphie regretted not asking that Kookith to test it on himself, since scientists always did creepy things like that.
Amrakarii was hastily zapped, and resulted in returning to level one. The Korbat felt disappointed, and thought that it must have been a bad omen, but when they went to the next zap session, Coanneranne went ahead and set her Baby Fireball under the ray. The Kookith began wildly pressing buttons. Now that it was her own Petpet Coanneranne was a lot more perceptive about what was happening. When Coanneranne inspected the machine closer, her eyes widened. She realized the ray was made of Achyfi cans and cardboard boxes! Now the doubt started to flood her body and made her limbs go limp. The ray started to brighten over the terrified Fireball; it released a huge blast onto the poor Petpet. When it cleared, the girls gasped to find... the Baby Fireball.
“N-nothing happened!” Saphie gasped.
“What?! But-how-?!” All Jane could do was stammer.
The crazy Kookith handed the ball of fire back to Coanneranne, and this time he promptly shooed them out. The girls began to walk home in a confused stupor; it was as if the anticipation they had built up was now slowly leaking away after such an odd anticlimax. The Baby Fireball began to fidget in her arms, so Coanneranne let him down to walk beside them. She awkwardly scratched the back of her neck.
“Well... it’s an improvement from yesterday. I supposed we can pick safety over excitement right about now.”
“It’s so odd, though,” Jane remarked. “It didn’t even seem to scare him!”
“Maybe it did something we couldn’t see, like-” Amrakarii was interrupted by the breaking of a tree branch, and Coanneranne’s fireball tumbled down with it. “-Like that.”
The Baby Fireball had obviously gained a level; level one Petpets couldn’t break tree branches like he just had. Coanneranne scooped her Petpet up and inspected him, but she could see no indication that he had changed.
“That’s not fair!” Saphie cried. “I want my Petpet to gain a level!”
“But you can only do that if you try the ray again.” Coanneranne smiled, challenging her to respond.
Saphie replied like she typically would: she huffily agreed to try one more time. When she told her pile of dirt later that day, he looked quite nervous, or as nervous as a pile of dirt can look.
The next morning the four set out for the ray once again after their morning errands. Saphie cradled her pile of soot in her furry arms as they walked past the Neopian shops.
“We just have to cross our fingers, hooves, paws, and claws that you get something good this time,” Jane said. The anxiety was obvious in her face.
Coanneranne and Amrakarii exchanged a look of dread; no matter what happened, they both knew that it would probably end in tears. Coanneranne personally didn’t care what happened to Saphie’s Petpet. It couldn’t be worse than the state it was in now. To her, it was more about the excitement of the unknown, and Amrakarii thought the same thing, or at least that’s what Coanneranne assumed, since she was willing to be a lab rat.
First they took Amrakarii to the Lab Ray, and nothing happened at all, but it didn’t bother them today, as they had saved the chief event for last.
The Petpet lab ray.
Saphie timidly set her former Snowbunny under the ray. The machine began to charge with increasing energy, matching the mood of the room. Jane and Saphie covered their eyes. Coanneranne and Amrakarii watched with extreme concentration as a blinding flash engulfed the Petpet. It fizzled out to reveal... a bright Golden colored Snowbunny.
“It’s a golden Snowbunny!!!” Jane gasped.
The Kookith stepped down from the controls to gape at it.
“There’s no such color as gold for Petpets, is there?” Coanneranne whispered with wonder.
The rarity obviously didn't matter to Saphie; she scooped him up in a hug,
“He’s adorable!!! I love him! I like the color!!” Her clear blue eyes shone with tears. “My Snowbunny’s back...”
Jane smiled. As long as Saphie was elated with her new Petpet, she would be happy too. On the way home, the family received a few odd glances over Saphie’s new Petpet. He was quite shiny, to the point where he was almost transparent.
“I’m gonna give him a new name!” Saphie declared when they got home. “He’ll be Goldie125!”
“That sounds good!” A rare dainty smile crept onto Jane’s face.
She was happy to see Saphie so happy again, and with the lessened turmoil from the lab rays, she knew her friends would stop bothering her about it for a while. She suddenly didn’t regret buying the new Petpet ray after all.
To be continued...