Cashmere, Meepits, and Evil Scientists, Oh My!
I trudged wearily through the raging blizzard, icy winds stinging my exposed ear. Still, I marched on, intent on reaching the warm, yellow light in the distance. It either meant fire or civilization, but at that point, I was ready for both. Terror Mountain was sure a mountain full of terrors, especially if you count the night before when the Snowager almost suffocated me with its tail. I had frostbite for the rest of the evening, too.
The light grew closer by the second. Within a matter of minutes, though they seemed like hours – long, agonizing hours – I was at a small cottage. I heard laughter coming from the inside, and the sound of hot chocolate being poured into mugs. I need to get in there, I thought, shivering. I circled the house until I found the front door and started scratching at it, careful not to peel the burgundy paint. I made a mental note to put on the most pitiful sad face ever – after all, who can resist a cute little Anubis face?
The door opened and a tall Island Ogrin looked down on me. “Aw, aren’t you the most adorable thing ever!” she muttered immediately. “Let’s get you inside before you freeze to death!”
I smiled to myself. The puppy face worked.
She led me into the house and shut the door behind me. The walls were colored burgundy, like the door, and the wood on the floor was light tan. This house isn’t half bad, I thought. The Ogrin showed me to the living room, where three other neopets were sitting on couches and a boy that I estimated was past high school was on a chair. Each of them was drinking hot chocolate.
“Pearl,” the boy said slowly, “I told you not to bring random petpets into the house without permission...”
“But Jerry, he’s so adorable! And he has no tag! And he’s painted Christmas! Can we keep him?” Pearl begged.
A Desert Kyrii hopped down from the couch to inspect me. “Well, first we’d better warm him up before we make a decision,” he mumbled.
I stood there, shivering, hoping they would offer me a heated blanket.
“We should give him a bath or something so he could defrost,” a Baby Gnorbu suggested.
“We could stick him in the microwave for that matter,” a Christmas Eyrie snickered. I stared daggers at her for a moment before the Kyrii picked me up in his arms and took me to the bathtub. He filled it with warm water and let me soak in there for at least five minutes, during which he left the room to talk to his owner.
While I was splashing in the tub, I looked around. The nearby shelf was stocked with towels, shampoo, soap, and other things. To its right were a porcelain sink and a counter. I didn’t get to see much else, though, because the Desert Kyrii came back and scooped me out with a towel. Once I was dry, he took me back to the living room.
Pearl smiled ecstatically at me as I entered, and the Christmas Eyrie giggled for some reason, probably because she was thinking of sticking me in the oven or something so I could warm up. The boy stood up and cleared his throat. “Er... do you have an owner?”
“Nope.” I tugged at the green hat on my right ear to adjust it and wrapped my scarf around my neck again.
“So where did you come from?”
“I don’t know, really. I was in the Lost Desert, wild and free, until some random guy just decided to plop me on Terror Mountain and see if I adapted to the living conditions. Like an experiment, but one struggling for survival.” I mostly added the last sentence to tug on his heart strings.
It worked for Pearl. “Aw, see, Jerry? He needs a home!” She gave him a pouty face.
He sighed tolerantly. “Do you have a name?”
“Not that I know of.”
The Baby Gnorbu grinned and said, “We should give him a name then.”
“Darryl, we are not-”
“PLEASE?” The Eyrie yelped.
Jerry sighed again. “Fine, but what would his name be?”
Immediately, many names were shouted, most of which didn’t suit me at all (someone suggested ‘Buttercup’...). Finally, the Ogrin suggested ‘Cashmere!’
“I like that name,” I said.
Jerry smiled slightly. “Ok, then, Cashmere, how would you like to live with us?”
“Sure.” They seemed really nice, but it was either staying with them or going out in the freezing cold again. You can guess which one I chose.
“YES!” Pearl yelled, pumping a fist into the air. “Whose petpet will he be?”
“Well, I already have a faerie Snowickle, Hero has that fire Kazeriu, and Sparky has a petpet, too,” Darryl, the Gnorbu, said with a jerk of his head directed to the Kyrii and Eyrie.
“My name is Sparkles. You always seem to forget that,” the Eyrie scolded, but a smile cracked on her face.
“You’re my little sister. You’ll always remain Sparky to me.”
Pearl interrupted, “So I guess he’s mine, then!”
I tried to say ‘Awesome!’ but a yawn came out instead. I was tired from walking through a blizzard all night.
Jerry looked at me. “Pearl, you’d better take him to bed. He doesn’t look too energetic right now.”
“Ok.” She led me to her bedroom, covered in dark blue wallpaper and plushies everywhere. “Just sleep on my bed tonight, since I don’t have one for you.”
I happily jumped onto the mattress. It was way softer than sleeping on a tree, or even on sand. I liked it. Before Pearl left, I asked, “What’s Sparkle’s petpet, anyway?”
“Oh,” she answered uneasily, “It’s a Meepit. But don’t worry, it won’t hurt you... I think.”
Great, I thought as I drifted off to sleep, Now I’m going to dream of those creepy, unblinking eyes all night.
Sun streamed through the periwinkle curtains that hung at the windows. I opened my eyes groggily and lifted my head. Pearl’s feet lay beside me, and I heard a slight snoring emitting from her nose. I looked around before laying my head back down.
Wait... what’s that pink thing? I eyed the room again. A Meepit stared intentionally at me. I almost screamed, but then the Meepit blinked and put a finger to her mouth.
“SHH! Don’t wake Pearl up yet. I have to show you something. If she wakes up, she’ll be disappointed. Trust me.” She beckoned for me to follow her.
“What? No evil plan to take over Neopia? I’m surprised,” I said, earning me a dirty look from the Meepit, but she kept walking. I sighed and followed her. She led me through the hallway and to the corner that opened to the living room.
“Stay here and listen,” she hissed. I did.
“...You don’t understand,” an urgent voice pleaded, vaguely familiar, “He ran away and is rightfully mine.”
“Sir! I don’t think that he should be rightfully yours if he was your cruel experiment,” Hero, the Kyrii, growled viciously. “He’s ours now. He has a home, and a good one, too. If it hadn’t been for us, your experiment would be dead!”
“He’s mine, though! Listen, you brat, I’ll give you two days until I take him away. Two days. You’d better not get attached to him.” A door creaked open, and then slammed closed.
The Meepit stared at me. “It’s a crazy scientist. I think he’s trying to take you back,” she said dryly. “You have two days.”
I tried not to wince. Seriously, those eyes freaked me out a little bit. “But... I can’t go with him! I won’t go,” I declared fiercely. “I’m going to stay, whether he likes it or not!”
“I don’t think he’ll like it a bit, but I’m sure you’d be better off staying here,” the Meepit agreed with a nod of her pink head. “Now you’d better go back to bed before Pearl wakes up. Pretend like nothing happened. I’ll talk to you later if I think of something.” She walked down the hallway and into Sparkles’ room, vanishing from my sight.
I gulped. The scientist was a faerie Mynci, so he looked innocent... until you saw his white lab coat and the rubber gloves he put on. I had been sleeping in my hole I had dug in the sand one night and the next thing I knew, I was being carried by this Mynci’s arm and thrown into the snow on Terror Mountain. I remember thinking, What kind of science project is this? But I never stayed to find out; instead, I found a nice house. Not a home, not quite yet, but a house.
I crawled onto Pearl’s bed and pushed the thoughts out of my mind, my eyelids growing heavier by the second. I couldn’t go to sleep, though, for Pearl suddenly stirred and kicked me off of the bed. I plummeted to the tan carpet with a small yelp, immediately waking her up. She rubbed her eyes and sat up. “Hi, Cashmere,” she said groggily, “How’s life?”
I shrugged, pretending not to know about the scientist.
“Pearl, breakfast is ready!” Darryl’s voice called.
She grinned. “Is it the usual?”
“Yup. Are you coming?”
“Yeah.” She shoved the blankets off of her and rushed out of the room into the kitchen. I followed, wondering what the usual even was.
The kitchen was quite nice; it had a large oak table that was able to fit six Neopets. Near the wall were four bowls, each filled with different foods. A Fire Kazeriu, the Meepit, and a Faerie Snowickle were already devouring their breakfast, but my bowl was still full. The Meepit stared at me and did something I never thought the species of petpet could do... she smiled. It was kind of peculiar to see a Meepit smile, but I absentmindedly grinned back.
As I ate my breakfast, I caught a glimpse of Pearl’s food. Everyone was eating an omelette. The Island Ogrin was chewing thoughtfully on a Chokato Omelette. Darryl was cutting a Spinach Feta Omelette in small pieces, while Hero took bites out of a Ham and Cheese. Sparkles reached into the refrigerator and pulled out a Plain Omelette, which she spread grape jam on. I realized the Eyrie was the really odd one of the family, but I didn’t care less – I was too busy eating my petpet food that was generously poured into the bowl.
After breakfast was finished, a letter slipped through the mail slot in the front door. Hero gathered everyone’s plates, put them in the sink, and went to read it. He tore open the envelope and unfolded it.
“Dear Sirs and Ma’ams,” he read dryly, “You still have two days to hand over the Anubis you have in your care, but I wanted you to know of this: I have contacted the Defenders and they have agreed to make a deal. I will pay forty thousand NP for that petpet, and in return you will bring him to me by tomorrow. If you do accept the deal but go back on your promise, the Defenders will confiscate the Anubis – without my payment, mind you – and you will receive a fine of twenty-nine thousand NP. Understood? I expect a prompt response. ~P.” He shook his head angrily. “That creep. He thinks that an experiment is rightfully his.” He took out a piece of paper and wrote down two big letters on it in dark ink: NO.
I smiled. At least they were putting up a fight for me.
He sent it through the mail slot and went back to the table, plastering a smile on his face. “So... who wants chocolate milk?”
I couldn’t sleep that night, so I got up quietly and made my way down the hallway. The Meepit was staring intently at the fridge, but turned to me when she heard my footsteps. “What brings you up so early?” she asked.
“I couldn’t sleep. What are you looking for, Juppie Juice?”
She glared at me dangerously. “Ha, ha. I’m just busting up laughing. Now, if we’re going to get along, I declare a truce. Not all Meepits are those stereotypical Ruler-Of-Neopia wannabes.” Her eyes turned from irritated to pleading.
I smiled tiredly. “Fine. My name is Cashmere. And yours?”
“Cupcake,” she replied hesitantly. “But my name doesn’t matter. I’ll be known as your partner for the next night.”
“I can tell you’re a good petpet, and that scientist’s a horrible, disgusting Mynci. I’m going to foil his plans to take you away, no matter what. Besides, Pearl would be heartbroken without you; she’s wanted a petpet for forever.” Cupcake sat down on the tile. “We’ll need a plan.”
I thought for a moment. “We could blackmail him.”
She nodded. “Good, but we need something a little simpler, so simple he wouldn’t suspect a Meepit.”
“Let’s find the Defenders and see if they really talked to him. If they didn’t, then it’ll be a lot easier for us.” I looked around cautiously to see if anyone was listening. “We should go now. Before anyone wakes up.”
Cupcake nodded again and smiled. “Great. Follow me; I know the way to Neopia Central.”
And off we went, into the blistering cold and icy winds. I tightened my scarf and adjusted my hat again, warm. Cupcake, however, just trudged on with chattering teeth. “My, it’s warm out here,” she said sarcastically. I sighed and wrapped my scarf around her. She grinned. “Thanks.” It was enough to get her through the blizzard.
We caught a ferry ride to Roo Island and made our way from there. Finally, after what seemed like ages, we reached Neopia Central. Cupcake led me to the plaza and pointed out the Defenders HQ. “There,” she whispered, awestruck, “Now, let’s ask them. I’ll bet they could provide excellent information.”
I nodded briefly and tumbled inside the building. It was empty; that is, except for a few lights mounted on the wall and Judge Hog reading the Neopian Times in a blue armchair. He looked up casually, but his eyes went abnormally large when he caught sight of Cupcake. Instantly, he was up on the chair, eyes closed, yelling “A MEEPIT! A MEEPIT!” like a little girl.
I trotted over and yanked on his leg. “Relax, dude,” I barked, “She’s not the stereotypical Meepit you’re thinking of. Are you going to be a Defender and help us or not?”
He sighed and opened his eyes. “I suppose, but only if you promise not to tell anyone what I just did.”
“I would pinky-promise, but I have no pinky. You’ll have to be content with a ‘cross my heart’ promise instead.”
Judge Hog nodded. “Thank you. What do you need help with?”
“Has a male faerie Mynci, most likely with a lab coat on, contacted you today?” Cupcake demanded.
“Not that I know of; and I would know if he did, considering I’m the only one who answers the Neomail. Why, what do you need? Has he stolen your property? Owe you NP?”
Cupcake gasped slightly and leaned in towards me so he couldn’t hear. “That scientist is a liar! Should we tell him?”
I nodded curtly. “Judge Hog,” I said, “It’s not what he has stolen, it’s what he wants to steal, so to speak.”
“What does he want to steal?”
I gulped. “Me,” I admitted weakly.
Suddenly, Judge Hog pulled out a pen and paper and began writing the scientist’s characteristics down. When he was done, he looked at me. “I will inform you if I have any information. Have a nice day.”
I turned and walked out of the headquarters with Cupcake in tow. We were met with a chilly blast of night wind, but we walked on again, caught another ferry ride, and marched back to the house. We opened the door quietly and walked inside. I stared at the Meepit.
“What’s our battle strategy?”
“Well, he’ll most likely say that we made the deal and will try to come and steal you away. Otherwise, he’ll wait for another day and then take you,” she said thoughtfully.
I closed my eyes and tried to remember what the scientist was like. Would he actually keep a promise? I asked myself, Or would he break it? No, I remember him always breaking his promises to take me back. It was always, ‘Oh, tomorrow. I will take you tomorrow.’ and ‘I’m sorry. I shall take you next week.’ Of course, he lied... I shook my head. “I don’t know.”
“Well, it doesn’t matter. Either way,” Cupcake uttered, “We’ll need a plan... let’s see, Ember and Icicle are great fighters, I’m intimidating, and you’re determined and won’t give up. Let’s hide under the table and wait until that scientist comes. Then we can assault him. Let me wake the other petpets and get the rope and duct tape.”
Yikes. She meant business.
I nodded. “Perfect. Go quickly.”
That second, a Neomail slipped through the door. I picked it up and read it:
To: 492 Winter-Sleigh Dr., Terror Mountain
From: Defenders HQ, Neopian Plaza
A Faerie Mynci wearing a lab coat just walked by, muttering something about kidnapping a Christmas Anubis. I assume it is the scientist you told me about, so you might want to hide just in case. ~Judge Hog
A moment later, Cupcake returned with a Fire Kazeriu and Faerie Snowickle groggily following. “I’m all ready. This is Ember and Icicle.” She reached under a cabinet and pulled out a length of rope and a roll of silvery tape. Seeing my look of horror, she added, “Oh, I was saving it for a rainy day.”
Er... that’s nice, I thought unsteadily. “By the way,” I said quietly, “The scientist is coming. Just wanted to tell you that.”
Cupcake led me under the kitchen table and waited. Ember stared at me. “So you’re this Cashmere I’ve heard about, right?”
“Yeah,” I whispered.
“What’s the situation?”
“There’s a creepy scientist that’s trying to kidnap me,” I said, explaining it as simply as I could. Ember nodded.
“I’ll try to help you, then,” she replied. The Snowickle turned to look at me also.
“What does that scientist look like? Why, once I get a hold of him, he’ll be sorry he tried to do something like that,” he boasted, “After all, I’m great at the Battledome, and a scientist couldn’t be much harder than-”
“SHH!” Cupcake hissed. “He’s here.”
The door creaked open softly and then shut. I heard light footsteps on the wooden floor. “Where is that Anubis?” the scientist growled, “They have to keep him somewhere. This will show them for trying to take away my experiments.” He ventured too close to the table.
“NOW!” I yelled, lunging for his legs. The other petpets followed with a battle cry. Ember flew up to pound on his shoulders as Icicle stomped as hard as he could on his toe. Cupcake grabbed the rope and rushed to join us.
“SWEET FYORA! AAAHHH!” the Mynci screamed, kicking and flailing. I held on to his legs as he tumbled to the ground with a THUD!
“Hold still,” I muttered dangerously, “and we’ll spare you a lot of pain.”
It seemed to work. The scientist hushed up and stopped squirming.
Cupcake tied his legs and arms with the rope and looked at us. “Let’s drag him to the chair,” she commanded. We all got under him and lifted him, carrying him to a small wooden chair by the counter. We tossed him on. Cupcake flipped a lamp on and shone it on his face. “I’ve always wanted to do this,” she admitted, holding the tape in her pink paws. She hopped up onto the counter and stared menacingly at him. “Why are you here?” she hissed.
“To get my experiment, you little rat,” he barked.
She got a strip of tape from the roll and held it out in front of him. “Call me that again and I’ll gag you. You’ll be sorry.”
He gulped. “Fine.”
“What’s your name?”
“...Percy,” he admitted.
Cupcake held back a giggle, then cleared her throat and got her ‘serious face’ back on. “What were you planning to do with Cashmere... Percy?”
“I just wanted to see if an Anubis from the Lost Desert would be able to survive in a cold climate. I should have known that the brat would find a family...”
“DON’T CALL HIM A BRAT,” the Meepit barked, slapping the piece of tape on his mouth.
“Geez,” I said, “that seems a bit harsh, don’t you think?”
“Meh, he’ll get over it,” she answered with a shrug.
He did, in a way. Percy the evil scientist went out cold afterwards.
“Ok, now I’m thinking it’s a bit harsh,” Cupcake admitted.
“You think?” Ember snickered.
Cupcake grabbed a pen and pencil and scribbled down:
To: Defenders HQ, Neopian Plaza
From: 492 Winter-Sleigh Dr., Terror Mountain
Subject: Urgent Message to Judge Hog
Help! We have caught the evil scientist and do not know what to do now. Waiting for prompt response. ~Cupcake the Meepit
She shoved it through the mail slot and waited. Almost two minutes later, a knock on the door sounded. She opened it, and Judge Hog stood nervously in front of her. “Let me get the handcuffs,” he said, taking out a pair of metal cuffs. He slapped it on Percy’s wrists and tossed him over his shoulder. “I’ll take care of this myself. Good night,” he said before disappearing out of the house.
The next morning, we were eating breakfast when a Neomail slipped through the mail slot. Hero took it again and read it. “WE’RE REQUIRED AT THE COURTHOUSE?” he yelled, his eyes widening in shock. “WHAT FOR?!”
I shrugged. “Let’s just say the situation involved 100% Gnorbu Wool scarves, a scaredy-cat Moehog, and an evil scientist named Percy,” I explained sheepishly.
It earned me strange looks, but nobody cared otherwise; they were too busy discussing what new petpet bed they were going to get me.
That’s when I knew everything was going to be okay.