Ash's Great Prank
"Ash?" Narona hovered over a box that the Aisha had disappeared into. "What are you doing in the shop storeroom?"
Ashalyia, a small blue Aisha, poked her head out. "Shhhhhh!" She held a paw to her lips. "I'm going to get him this year."
Narona folded her purple wings and landed lightly on the stool next to the box. She looked at the side. It read: Halloween decorations. "Get who?"
Ash ducked down and appeared again tangled in a mess of tinsel. "Kanuah."
"Your brother?" Narona ran the shop that was owned by Ashalyia's owner. Kanuah was a Lupe and the eldest of the family.
"It's a tradition," Ash explained as she dug through the box. "Every Halloween I try to pull a prank on him. Every year he avoids or springs the trap before it's ready. I've never gotten him."
Narona laughed. "You? The queen of mischief and pranks?"
Ash pulled a pouting face. "He's the only one that I can't get. But this year I'll do it for sure!"
"Narona?" A deep voice floated in from the front of the store.
Ash quickly ducked down and closed the box flaps around her. "It's him!" she whispered.
A tall, shadow Lupe strolled through the curtain that closed the storeroom off from the rest of the store. "What are you doing?"
"Deciding how to put up the Halloween decorations."
"Oh, let me help you." Before Narona could stop him, Kanuah had picked up the box and rested it on his strong shoulder.
"Ummm, ok." She nervously took flight. "I was thinking about putting the ghost right in front of the door, so it would swoop down whenever anyone opened it."
"Great idea." He took the box out to the entrance and opened it.
Narona hovered over his shoulder, but she didn't see Ash. Kanuah pulled out the black sheet with a ghost face attached to the front and began to untangle strings.
Narona was about to make an excuse about getting back to the storeroom when she spotted a blue tail poking out of the bottom of the ghost. Ash was holding onto the sheet from the inside.
"You know," Kanuah lifted the ghost up, "this ghost seems heavier this year."
"Oh?" Narona tried to keep a straight face. "Maybe you're getting old."
"Maybe, or maybe if I tickle this spot right here..." Kanuah poked the place where Ash was.
A muffle giggle sounded from the sheet.
"I didn't know ghosts giggled." Kanuah smiled. He flipped the sheet upside down so he was holding an exposed Ash in his arms. "Hello, Ash."
"Hello, Kanuah." She grinned back.
"Trying to pull a prank already? It's not even Halloween yet."
Ash scrambled out of his arms and jumped to the floor. "I'll get you this year yet!"
Kanuah leaned down and ruffled her antennae. "You do that."
Ash smirked and began to prance out of the store.
"Ash." Kanuah stopped her. "My neopoints, if you please." He held out his paw.
Ash made a face and handed back the bag of neopoints she had just swiped when she jumped down. "This year for sure."
"No, can't do that," Ash muttered to herself as she crossed another option off the list. Ash didn't want to involve a new event to play the prank because if anything new came Kanuah's way around Halloween, it was sure to make him suspicious. There were only a few number of things that Kanuah used and places that he went regularly. His sword was always by his side when he was awake; that would be the logical choice, but she knew Kanuah's love only went so far. If she touched his sword, she would end up with her antennae pinned to the wall. She drew a blacker line through that option. Anyway, he slept with one eye open so she couldn't sneak in and do anything in the night. He visited the pound on a regular basis with Ylana, his friend, but Death already had it out for her after the paintball incident. That was a Techo without a sense of humor.
Thief, her Griefer, hovered in the air above her. "Ash, sad?" asked his metallic voice.
"Frustrated. I can't find his weak point. I don't think he had one."
"Petpet," Thief pinged.
Ash snapped her fingers. "You're right! His Seti!" They both turned to look at Anazi, Kanuah's Seti who was sleeping in the sun a little ways away.
As if he knew he was being watched, the Seti lifted his head and stared them down.
"But what?" Ash tapped her chin with her pencil. Suddenly her eyes lit up. "I've got it!" She pulled Thief down to her level. "I've got a good one. It's expensive, risky, just mean enough, and I'll need your help!"
"Position, unnoticed," Thief stated.
Ash looked around the corner with a small mirror. "Good, now we have to get past those motion detectors. There are no cameras, just motion beams."
Thief scanned the several moving beams to cross the hall in front of them. "Course, twenty feet long. Difficulty, 8 on scale of 10. Twenty percent chance of success."
Ash smiled at the challenge. "Only an eight?" She cracked her knuckles. "Let's not keep them waiting. With several athletic and graceful movements that belied her small, innocent front, Ashaliya blurred through the beams, missing several by a breath. Thief slowly flew through the course. Because of his small body, he didn't have to be as careful.
Ash did one last handspring and landed safely on the other side. "Success!"
Thief came to hover next to her. "Confirmed."
Ash pulled a map of the compound out of her skirt pocket. "Ok, the vault is on the left in the second chamber; the prize is in there. With that new program I installed in you, the lock will be no problem."
"Object, confirmed?" Thief inquired.
"He keeps a copy of everything he makes here, and this is his newest piece. He'll have several here; he has to."
"I'll take that." Ash smiled. "Let's move."
"Object, obtained." Thief's eyes sparkled as he chirped their victory.
Ash smiled as she wrapped the object up and stuck it in her bag. "One of two. Next stop: Neopia Central."
"Pursuers?" Thief turned his head to watch the progress of the yelling and blaster-waving Neopets.
Ash continued to run without looking back. She lifted her hand. "Smoke Screen!"
Suddenly they were surrounded by a thick smoke.
"I knew that ability would come in handy. They'll be no problem." Ash smiled again. "Let's go!"
"Sir, she got away." The Grundo saluted his leader.
The figure folding his hands behind his cloaked back. "Is this the second time she's been here?"
"Yes, Doctor. Last time she was here, she made off with a potion."
The cloaked figure waved an olive-colored hand. "Give the order to pack up. This place is getting too hot. We'll move to our Lost Desert base."
"At once, Doctor." The Grundo saluted and ran out.
"Ah, the clean air of Neopia Central park." Ash took a deep breath.
Thief make a whirring sound as he crunched numbers. "Oxygen, higher. Giving Tree, source."
Ash tossed a bottle of pressurized water up and down. "You're so handy to have around, Thief."
Thief's eyes became tiny lines and he purred, which meant he was happy. "Thank you."
"Here we are, remember, just as I told you," Ash muttered.
They had been walking around the Rainbow Pool and were now at the much smaller Petpet Puddle.
There were several Neopets around the rim dipping in their brushes and running them over their various petpets.
"In you go!" Ash pulled out a fake blue petpet brush and pushed Thief towards the puddle. Thief shook his head and hovered away. "Thief, perfect."
Ash grabbed one of his legs and pulled him towards the puddle. "Now, now. We went through all the trouble of getting the brush, be nice."
But the Griefer seemed to have different plans because he suddenly reversed directions, throwing the Aisha off balance and throwing her into the puddle while he escaped.
The Neopets around gave startled cries as water splashed up. The Aisha got up and looked down at her dress. "Look what you did!" she cried.
She apologized to the confused pets as she ran after her retreating Griefer.
An Ogrin, who was painting his Slorg, shook his head sympathetically. "Poor girl." He put his brush back down into the water when he noticed something. Was the water lower or was it just him?
"You were perfect," Ash praised Thief as she put everything in her bag.
"Item, obtained!" Thief chirped.
"Two for two, now to set the stage!" Ash smiled mischievously to herself.
"We'll set it off in two days, plenty of time to set it up." Ash skipped innocently along the path.
"Ash, why are you here again?" Narona crossed her small, faerie arms and tapped a finger as she watched the Aisha busily work in the storeroom.
"Because I can't work at the house, Kanuah would pick up on some clue."
"I see." Narona looked around at the bottle of water, the soap flakes, and the strange brush. "I hope you know what you're doing."
Ash carefully lit a small fire on the stove. "I know perfectly what I'm doing; I just Kanuah doesn't know what I'm doing."
"What exactly is that?" a new voice inquired.
"Dayna!" Ash twirled around and smiled sweetly at her owner. "Making Kanuah a present."
Dayna flicked her long black braid over her shoulder and ran a finger over her metal circlet, her trademark. "I see."
Ash knew by 'I see' that Dayna knew she was cooking up mischief. "This year I'll get him for sure."
Dayna looked over her Aisha at the ingredients. "That had better not be my brush from the SDB."
"No, I wouldn't steal from you for a prank."
Dayna ruffled her ears. "I'm sure. Good luck."
"Stage set, half done," Thief stated as he and Ash walked home.
Ash could feel the bundle bump against her as her bag swayed with the cadence of her step. "Right, tonight we take another step. Did you get it?"
Thief held up a tchea fruit in one of his feet. "And fifty neopoints."
Ash stuck the fruit in her bag. "It's coming together."
By this time, they had reached their home, tucked a small valley in Shenkuu.
"I'm home!" Ash announced as she opened the door and slipped off her shoes.
Dayna was busy in the kitchen with Ash's brother, a magma Aisha named Racon. "Go wash up, dinner's almost ready, oh, and it's your turn to feed the petpets."
"Alright!" With a deft movement of her paw, Ash pulled the petpet feeder over towards her and picked it up. "I'll get on that."
It took a few minutes to pull out all of the petpet food and measure each one into separate pieces of the feeder.
"Thief, is it ready?" Ash muttered to her Griefer.
The petpet opened up one foot and several flakes dropped into the portion with the Seti food. "Confirmed."
Ash patted his head. "I knew I kept you around for some reason." She turned and set the platter on the mat.
"Dinner!" Dayna leaned back and called.
There were sounds of banging doors and feet as a Peophin, Ogrin, and two Lupes joined the kitchen crowd.
The petpets came in with the owners. There was a Tanizard, Blobagus, Sklyde, Juma, and of course, Kanuah's Seti. They all crowded around the feeder at their appropriate places. Ash watched out the corner of her eye, Anazi was eating his food. This was good.
"Pass the tea, Ash?" Kanuah asked.
Ash smiled sweetly and handed her brother the pot. "Anything for you!"
"Kanuah, your Seti stinks," Dayith stated matter-of-factly.
Kanuah looked up from his book to his white Lupe brother. He and Dayith hadn't exactly hit it off when Dayith joined the family. He narrowed his eyes. "Does he now?"
Dayith put down his Sklyde and picked up Anazi. "Smell for yourself. When was the last time you gave him a bath?"
Kanuah put down his book and took his Seti from Dayith's paws. "Two weeks ago." He gave a cautious sniff and wrinkled his nose. "You're right."
Dayith rolled his eyes. "Like I would have a reason to lie."
Kanuah stood up and tucked Anazi under his arm. "I'll be out back giving him a bath if anyone asks for me."
"What do I look like, an answering machine?" Dayith muttered.
"This is perfect!" Ash wriggled with excitement. "He doesn't suspect a thing! Now for the final stage!"
She and Thief were hiding in a tree a small distance from their house with a pair of binoculars and a walkie-talkie that let them hear into the living room. Ash was watching Kanuah set up Anazi's bath through her binoculars. Thief was watching through his distance-adjustable eyes.
"Ready, Thief?" Ash asked as she watched Kanuah pull out the hose to fill the small tub.
"Ready," Thief confirmed.
"And..." Ash watched as Kanuah walked over to the house to turn on the water. "Now!"
Thief whirred and beeped. "Water, redirected."
"Perfect." Ash watched Kanuah fill up the tub and turn off the water. "Perfect," she repeated.
"Perfect." Kanuah picked up his petpet and dropped him in the tub. "Just the right amount of water."
He picked up the soap bar that always lay next to the washing tub and began to work it through his Seti's coat.
He was only at it for a little while when the water around the Seti suddenly turned an ugly green and brown and began to smell even worse than his Seti. Smoke boiled up and surrounded Anazi. With practiced ease, Kanuah swiftly pulled Anazi out and wrapped him in a towel. Suddenly, Ash walked up.
"Giving Anazi a bath?" she asked, ignoring the smoke and smell.
"Why, yes, as a matter of fact." Kanuah rubbed his Seti who was hidden in the folds of the towel. "But the strangest thing happened."
"Oh?" Ash asked with wide, innocent eyes.
"Yeah, the water started to boil in a strange way and turn different colors. Almost as if the water was from the petpet puddle."
What did he just say?! Ash inwardly shouted while she outwardly looked confused and surprised. "Really?"
"Yeah, like someone took a bottle of pressurized water, opened it up in the petpet puddle so they could steal a good amount without too much notice. And it's funny that Anazi started smelling bad like someone fed him a tchea, which everyone knows makes him smell weird. Then there's this soap." Kanuah held up the bar. "It feels different, like someone made it in the back of the store out of soap flakes and some sort of brush."
He pulled the bar apart to expose the remains of what had been a mutant petpet brush. "Well, what do you know!" Kanuah exclaimed.
Ash felt a familiar, annoyed tick in her left antenna. He knew. She smiled triumphantly. "Very good, but the jokes still on you. You already painted your Seti into a mutant!"
Kanuah pulled the towel off of Anazi. "This Seti?"
Ash stared in annoyed confusion at the normal, black Seti. "How..?"
"Well, dear sister, if you had really thought about it, there is no such thing as a mutant Seti yet. The design hasn't been made."
Ash's face went from pale to red and embarrassed as she saw her gaping mistake. "Oh." Her antennae drooped.
Kanuah gave a laugh and threw an arm around his dejected sister. "It was a good prank, well thought out, perfectly executed. There was just two problems. You targeted the wrong petpet, and," He ruffled her antennae. "It was me you were trying to trick."
"You win, again," Ash grumbled. "But how did you know about everything already?"
Kanuah smiled and patted Thief on his head. "I may have fed Thief a listening device a couple days ago in preparation for Halloween."
Ash looked incredulously at her Griefer, who was shaking his head wildly. "Detection, negative."
"I see. Well played, brother." Ash hugged him, then turned to walk away. "Now that I know that trick, I'll get you next year."
Kanuah smiled as she walked away. "Sure you will. Oh, Ash?" He held out one paw. "My wallet, please."