A Camping Trip Gone Wrong
Krawk Island. You would normally associate it with pirates, treasure, dubloons, and possibly a combat-teaching Eyrie who gets angry over nothing. There is a small forest on the far west of the island that is a popular spot to camp. It's very serene, and it's a great chance for pets to bond with one another as friends. No family who has been here can disagree.
Except for this one.
“Hey, Siirica,” came a teenage male voice from behind a comic book. “Do you think that I could become part of the Defenders of Neopia someday?”
Not getting an answer, he put down the comic book and revealed his face. It was a spotted Lupe, colored mainly in black, with a brown neck and muzzle. His strong upper body was covered in white fur, as was his tail, legs, and paws. His forehead and back were orange, complementing the white and orange spots that were already sprinkled all over him. A red bandana hung around his neck, which was supported by the warm glow of the fire.
A female, snow-colored Bori stepped out of a tan-colored tent. Ice-cold snow made up the majority of her, along with carrots for paws, coal for eyes, and a little leaf dangling from her tail. Luckily, snow-colored pets can't melt. They aren't very fond of those little red blazes, though.
Siirica chuckled. “If that's what you want to do, I'd say you have a chance,” she said.
“Really? You think so?”
“Sure,” she continued. “Snowball's chance in the Lost Desert.”
“Gee, thanks,” Baltund remarked, sarcastically.
“I'll tell you this,” said Siirica. “It would probably take more physical strength AND mental strength than both of us put together. Sit tight; I'm off for some firewood.”
“Do you need me to come with you?,” asked Baltund.
Siirica turned around, practically insulted. “Don't worry, bro; I'm a big girl, I can take care of myself.”
With that, she walked off into the woods. Baltund sat on a tree stump and looked around. The sky was dark, the crickets were chirping, and lush, green trees towered above them.
A human entered through a path in the woods. He was wearing a warm-looking black hoodie and brown shoes.
“IT'S NK!!!” shouted Baltund, who leapt up from his seat and engulfed NK in a massive tackle-hug.
“Oh, come on,” NK said, having difficulty speaking with Baltund's strong arms wrapped around him. “I was only gone for an hour!”
Baltund released him. “Yeah, I guess... but you should have had me along to protect you. It must have been dangerous out there. Any werelupes eat ya?”
NK pointed at himself. “Does it look like I got eaten?”
“Maybe you just taste bad.”
“Wouldn't surprise me. But at least I got us some dinner.”
He sat down and revealed a bag, its contents appearing to be some kind of meat... smelt like steak.
Baltund remembered his recent conversation. “Hey, do you think that I might be able to join the Defenders of Neopia someday?”
“Hmm... well, your heart is in the right place.”
That statement gave Baltund a good feeling.
NK continued. “But, then again... it would take more physical strength AND mental strength than you have right now. A LOT more.”
Good feeling's gone.
“Where's Siirica?” NK asked.
Baltund walked around the campfire. He stood as a bi-ped most of time, standing on his back two legs. In that form, he was nearly a foot taller than NK, and growing. Being on all-fours wasn't particularly necessary, unless speed or stealth was required.
“She's getting firewood,” answered the Lupe.
“And you didn't go with her?”
“She didn't want me to...” Baltund answered, but it also gave him a sickening feeling.
The Lupe walked toward the edge of the campsite. How much time and distance could she have needed for some simple firewood? He kept walking. Forty-something feet into the walk, his nervousness rose. Then, something stopped him. He noticed something peculiar on the ground quite a ways away from him: a bright, green leaf. Siirica's leaf. Next to it, there was a splatter of blue... gunk. Baltund had no idea where the gunk could have come from, but the important thing here was the leaf.
Baltund walked back to the campsite. “I have to do my business,” he said, and walked off into the woods. Ha, good excuse. Classic.
An atmosphere of mystery and suspicion surrounded the Lupe as he traveled along the dirt path. If something happened to his sister, he would never forgive himself.
He stopped when he came across a female, pirate Lupe, dressed in the traditional tan ruffled shirt, black pants, and a red-and-white head bandana. She looked like she had just been groomed or something. She looked stunning. Her yellow earring matched her bright, sparkling eyes. Like Baltund, the girl was standing on her back two legs, around NK-height. Possibly taller. I don't know. The ears make it confusing.
She came closer. “I'm sorry, dude,” she said, which revealed a tomboy-like interior. “My petpet Jinjah just ran off into these woods, and I can't find him anywhere.”
“Mine too! I mean, not a Jinjah, it's a Bori... a Bori who is my sister. She ran off. Well, she didn't run off, but she--”
The girl stopped him by gently putting her paw over his tired mouth. “I think I get it. Why don't we search together?”
She removed her paw and grabbed Baltund's upper arm.
“My name's Muffin,” she told the spotted Lupe. “What's your name?”
He couldn't remember his name.
It had been about ten minutes. The two were making progress along the pathway in the woods. Unfortunately, there was no sign of Siirica, nor a Jinjah.
“This wasn't my idea of a camping trip,” said Baltund. The trees glared down at him menacingly. He began to think that his sister was possibly playing another joke on him.
“I figured you weren't from around these parts,” said Muffin. “Some of the pets here on Krawk Island are into the whole acting-like-a-pirate thing, but it's really not for me. I mean, I dress like this all the time, but it's definitely stereotypical to assume that all of us natives talk like: 'Arrrr, me hearty! Shiver me timbers and call me a squadler!'” She supported the message of the fake-talk by covering her left eye with her left paw like an eyepatch, and curving her right paw like a hook in front of her face.
Baltund laughed. She was funny, alright.
“Most of us aren't like that,” said the girl. “Unless we're trying to be dumb on purpose. Exhibit A: Yours truly.” She pointed to herself.
Baltund chuckled again. Then, he looked away from her. “I can relate,” he said. “I don't know anyone else who wants to become part of the Defenders.”
Muffin leaned around him to try and get a look at his face. “Defenders...?” she asked, slowly.
“They... my sister and my owner, I mean... think that I'm not strong enough.”
Muffin looked at Baltund's build, and then looked back at his face, still confused.
The spotted Lupe rolled his eyes. “Okay, okay... mostly not smart enough.”
“Ooooooh, I see,” Muffin realized. “Makes more sense.”
Baltund gave her a lopsided grin.
Just then, a small shadow rushed out from the bushes. Without giving the Lupes any time to react, it smashed right into Muffin and knocked her off balance. She responded with a loud shriek that echoed throughout the woods.
Surprisingly, she didn't feel herself hit the ground. She opened her eyes and saw a pair of strong, white paws holding her by her underarms. The pirate Lupe looked up at Baltund. Were his cheeks... pink? Couldn't be.
He pulled Muffin up to her feet and the two of them couldn't utter any words. The next sound came from the bushes, where the shadow had plunged into.
Converting to all-fours for the first time tonight, Baltund hid behind the bushes, and...
Jumping forward and landing above the unknown force, he saw what it was; a pirate Jinjah. Baltund just stared, taking a moment to register all of the events that had just happened.
He looked around. He noticed a small piece of steak, a couple of feet near him. It was covered in blue spots. How did it get all the way out here?
“Marquette!!!,” called Muffin, coming out of the bushes and picking up the Jinjah.
Baltund stood up on his back two legs again, tall and mighty as ever. “Well... that takes care of her. I wonder why she was running so quickly, though? Was she being chased?”
“Don't know,” Muffin answered. “Maybe she was running because she had seen something unusual. Your sister has to be back that way; I'd bet my tail on it!”
Baltund looked a bit closer at the Jinjah. It looked... funny. It couldn't be... but yes, it was. Bits of blue gunk, all over her back. Shiny, liquid-like bits of blue gunk, just like he found before. Baltund was surprised that Muffin didn't notice it. He kept the thought to himself.
The two of them walked into the woods, towards the direction that the shadow came from. The nighttime darkness began to cover them.
It was a short trip. Three minutes of walking, and they found... Baltund's campsite. They had gone in a circle.
“I guess I was wrong...” Muffin sulked.
“Siirica's still not here,” Baltund observed. “And neither is my owner.”
“Maybe he went out to look for you.”
“Well, here's what I'm thinking. If the direction of that shadow led us to nowhere but here... what if that shadow WASN'T your Jinjah?”
Muffin gave him yet another confused look.
“Your Jinjah was knocked out, on the ground, after all. Why would it stop running? I bet that the shadow knocked into it, and kept moving forward. If we still haven't found Siirica on the pathway, and she STILL hasn't returned, then that thing that bumped into us must have gone off the pathway and could actually have something to do with her!”
Muffin's next expression was a sign of disbelief. This Lupe was NUTS.
Baltund turned towards the trees with confidence, and quickly ran into the woods.
Muffin sighed. “You had better be right, wacky-boy.”
And she followed.
A little further past the point where they found Marquette, the two Lupes found a clearing in the woods, sprayed with an entire mess of blue gunk.
Baltund bent down and sniffed the gunk, with his highly-powerful nose. After a thoughtful moment...
“Jelly,” he announced. He turned to Muffin. “Your Jinjah is covered in it, too. As was Siirica's lost leaf.”
Muffin examined Marquette, and found that there was some bits on the Jinjah's back, after all.
“You were right about the shadow,” Muffin said, “But what makes you think that this has anything to do with your sister?”
“I'll tell ya. NK had just bought us a steak, and I found it right by Marquette. It was covered in jelly. That means that the shadow attacked Siirica, stole the steak, and ran this way. Everything was covered in the same jelly.”
Without giving Muffin a chance to respond, Baltund began to search the area. He stepped over the blue jelly, although it looked very delicious.
He noticed a large tree. He walked around it to examine the other side. He was looking at the tree, when...
A giant, blue, translucent... BLOB seemed to fall from the sky, right behind Baltund. The sound surprised him, and he fell right on his tail-side.
He turned around quickly. He noticed that it faintly resembled a... Chia. It was giant, too. It had to be over twice the size of Baltund.
Upon more careful inspection at the Jelly Chia's giant stomach, there was... the faint forms of Siirica and NK, floating in the jelly. He couldn't tell what kind of faces they were making, though.
“Look, they're in there!” Muffin exclaimed. “How do we get them out!?”
“I... I don't know!” Baltund cried out, helplessly.
Suddenly, the Jelly Chia lashed at them. It swung an arm, which stretched itself out in motion. The Lupes barely dodged the attack, the jelly arm slamming the forest floor and leaving behind another blue mess.
Dodge after dodge, slam after slam, the thing couldn't make contact.
Muffin felt herself get tired. Just a second of delay in her leap, and the Jelly Chia was able to grab her by her foot. The failed jump caused her to slam against the ground on her back. The jelly slowly began to grow and surround her foot, as she screamed with the arm lifting her higher into the air.
“Muffin, NO!!” shouted Baltund.
Marquette, the Jinjah, leaped up into the jelly which had engulfed Muffin's foot and was progressing further. It held the Jinjah for a minute, but then, the Jelly Chia's entire arm began to drip. Seconds later, the entire arm collapsed.
Muffin took a free fall for the ground. Baltund slid on the blue jelly, deftly catching her with both arms, damsel-style.
“Jelly and gingerbread... they can't mix,” muttered Baltund, placing Muffin on the ground.
“Go get him, Marquette!!!” Muffin ordered.
The Jinjah leaped up into Jelly Chia's gigantic body, freezing it, and stopping its assault. While the entire thing didn't collapse, it did start to harden from the center. Marquette navigated through the jelly and pulled Siirica backward by her tail. The snow Bori was tossed out of the Chia's stomach.
Baltund repeated action by catching Siirica and placing her on the ground.
The Jelly Chia tried to force the petpet out of there, violently shaking itself, but it was no use.
Marquette pulled NK backward, and he fell out of the membrane.
Baltund caught NK damsel-style with his two strong arms.
“Alright, time to wrap this up--” Baltund began.
“Let me handle it,” interrupted Muffin, with a determined look.
“Me too,” added Siirica. “This... THING tricked me, and we have to show it that we're not useless!”
“Um, alright...” said Baltund.
Muffin and Siirica exchanged a glance before jumping into flying kicks at the Jelly Chia, shattering what was left of its frozen body. They landed on the ground as the pieces shattered like ice against the forest floor. Muffin reached upward and caught Marquette.
“Phew,” Siirica panted. “That's all she wrote.”
“Emphasis on 'she',” added Muffin. They gave each other a high-five.
Siirica turned to Baltund. “Remember what I said about the whole 'lacking strength' thing? You can forget I even said that, Balt!”
“Yeah, and the smartness thing, too!” added Muffin. “You really used that noggin to figure out where Siirica was. I'd say you have a great chance of joining the Defenders of Neopia one day.”
“No doubt!” agreed Siirica.
Baltund and Muffin looked at each other. They wore smiles, and however faint, they seemed to exchange mental promises to each other.
Baltund looked down at NK, who was still in his arms. Was he... asleep?
“He's unconscious,” Muffin said.
“Do you mind being a lazy-human carrier tonight?” Siirica asked the spotted Lupe, jokingly. As if he had a choice.
“No problem. He had to carry me everywhere when I was a pup; I was the whiniest one out there,” he answered. “I guess I was bound to return the favor!”
The three of them laughed and walked back to the campsite. Muffin put her paw on Baltund's back and walked right with him, connected side-by-side. Nighttime covered the forest, and nobody could disagree that this was a camping trip to remember. A bizarre question was posed by Baltund during the walk as he remembered the lost steak, however, and nobody could answer it.
“What can we have for dinner!?”