A Darker Side of Neopia
My owner had bright hazel eyes and short black hair. And he went by the name of Gaven. He preferred I call him Dad, but I never really caught on to that idea.
The day I was created he smiled down at me and said, "Hi there, Velnai." And at that moment I knew I was going to really like him.
Gaven had two other pets, a Cybunny named Aleesa_Koony, or AK, and a Pteri called Golden45. I was named Velnai, and I was a beautiful Red Mynci.
Some days, Gaven would leave and not return for several days. AK, Golden and I kept each other busy by playing the board games and toys that Gaven would leave behind for us. AK also told us stories about when Gaven was a “newbie”, and how it was so funny that he hardly knew what to do. The Royal Girl Cybunny entertained Golden and me, since we weren’t as good storytellers.
Every time Gaven came back, he came back with presents to make up for the time he was gone. Usually it was a plushie he had “just happened to walk by”, or a book that he “just had to have”. Sometimes he went to the Money Tree and swiped up something good for us.
On a moreover uneventful day, Gaven came home with nothing more than an old rotten shoe, a piece of driftwood and a cardboard box. “Sorry, guys,” he sighed. “This was all I could grab at the Money Tree today.” He put the things on the floor and the three of us looked down at them.
“That’s all right,” Golden, a Darigan Pteri, said, picking up the cardboard box. “We can use our imaginations to pretend this is something awesome.”
Golden put it over his head and started to dance around.
“What are you supposed to be?” Gaven asked, laughing.
“I don’t know, really.” Golden admitted. “A robot?” And we spent the rest of that day using the old rotten shoe, the piece of driftwood and the cardboard box to play charades and it was basically the best day of our lives.
One day, though, Gaven left for a particularly long time, and only came for a few brief moments to feed us every day. “I wonder where he is?” AK wondered, and I could sense she was just a bit nervous.
“I don’t know,” I answered her, uncertainly.
“He’s probably out doing something or other. Remember when he used to stay away weeks at a time, booking us in at the Neolodge?” Golden said.
“Yeah,” AK answered. “Those weren’t good times. I missed him.”
A few more days passed by, nothing really happening, Gaven not really telling us anything. Even though he kept mostly to himself, we could sense that something was happening, and it was important--and possibly bad.
One day, a few weeks after we’d last spent time with Gaven, he came back with a large bag. And it was moving. “Gaven!” we cried, sensing our owner was home for good this time.
“Hey there, guys,” Gaven said happily, patting our heads. “What’s up?”
“Absolutely everything!” I cried.
“We’ve gotten really bored!” Golden admitted.
“And we missed you!” AK chimed in as well.
“Well, that’s about to be changed,” Gaven said.
He led us away into the living room and had us sit down.
“All right guys; close your eyes.” I did as I was told.
“Now hold out your hands.” I was confused and just a bit worried about what was going to happen to us, but I trusted Gaven and held out my hands anyway. Suddenly, something warm and definitely alive was placed in my hands. I had to open my eyes and I saw a cute little Kookith in my hands. And he was Grey. AK and Golden had both gotten Petpets as well. AK had a Faerie Anubis, and Golden had gotten a Plushie Puppyblew.
“Oh, wow!” I cried. “You’re the best!” I wagged my Mynci tail, eager to show Gaven that I was happy that he had done this all for us.
“Hold on, Velnai, that’s not it.”
“It’s not?” I wondered.
Then, out of the bag, Gaven pulled a Paint Brush. It was green and slightly white and brown, and my heart stopped with happiness when I saw what it was, and it was definitely for me.
“A Paint Brush!” I cried with glee. “An Island Paint Brush!”
“Yes, Velnai,” Gaven said with a smile on his face. “I spent endless hours playing games so I could get enough money to buy you a Paint Brush so you could be like your brother and sister. And I thought the three of you deserved Petpets, as well.”
“Can we go right now?” I wondered.
“No, not now.” Gaven broke the news to me.
“Tomorrow, then.” I stated. “First thing in the morning.”
“First thing in the morning,” Gaven repeated me.
I smiled largely, not sure if my face could contain it all.
“Now go to bed, the all of you,” Gaven told us. “Tomorrow’s going to be a busy day.”
“All right!” the three of us chimed in.
I squeezed my Grey Kookith as tightly as I could, and hopped up the stairs to my bedroom. I flopped into my bed, closed my eyes tightly, and just couldn’t wait for morning to come.
The Rainbow Pool was beautiful, and, I realized, where most Neopets’ dreams came true. And this was where mine was going to come true.
“It’s so pretty,” I said in awe.
“It is, isn’t it?” AK said.
“This is where I was painted Darigan,” Golden told me.
“I know,” I said. “And this is where I’ll be painted Island.”
Gaven and I went ahead into the Rainbow Pool, and Gaven brushed the Paint Brush over me, rolling it along my back and along my head. I tried to picture what an Island Mynci looked like, but I couldn't remember.
I was deep in thought when Gaven said, "All right, Velnai. We're done." I looked up and Gaven smiled at me. “Yup, you’re done.”
As I stepped out of the pool, AK and Golden smiled at me.
“You look great!” AK said honestly.
“Yeah,” Golden added. “You’ve finally been painted!”
“Thank you, Gaven!” I cried, looking at my owner with admiration.
“No, thank you, Velnai,” Gaven said, placing a hand on my head. “For lighting up my life.”
The weeks that followed my painting were the best of my life. Gaven brought us everywhere, and did everything with us. Every night I lay in my bed and thought how lucky I was.
One day, though, Gaven looked particularly sad. He brought us to Faerieland that day, and said that no matter what happened, he would always, ALWAYS, love us. Then, he left us with lots of food, which I didn’t understand, smiled, and then left.
He never did come back.
AK, Golden and I waited for days, weeks, and then, eventually, months. After a year or two, it seemed, AK, Golden and I finally accepted the fact that--he wasn’t coming back.
One day, several months after Gaven left, I was playing with a Hifflo YoYo, trying to amuse myself, when the door opened. First off, I was confused, but when I got a closer look at who was at the door, I realized it was Gaven.
I jumped up immediately, happy. I couldn’t believe my eyes!
“Gaven!” I cried, but Gaven shook his head and held his hand out.
“No, Velnai,” he said.
I stepped back. “What...?”
“I’m not here to stay.”
Gaven shook his head and put his hand down by his side.
“I-I can’t take care of you three any longer. I don’t come here as often as I used to.”
“I’m sorry, Velnai. Could you... could you come with me?”
Gaven lead me through Neopia Central, around the shops and the houses.
“Gaven, where are we going?” I wondered. But Gaven didn’t respond. He didn’t say anything to me. Finally, we stopped at a building I knew all too well. The Neopian Pound.
I cowered back behind Gaven, hoping that this was a joke--a mistake.
“Gaven...” I stuttered. “What are we doing here?”
“Like I said, I can’t take care of you anymore,” Gaven explained gently, pulling me inside.
“But--but what about AK and Golden?” I whimpered. “Can’t I say good-bye to them?”
Gaven closed the door behind him and said, “Abandon,” to a Bori in front of him. The Bori nodded, and smiled at me.
“No,” Gaven said, discarding my question like a plastic bag. He pushed me forward.
The Bori smiled. “Don’t worry,” she told me. “Pets like you don’t stay in the Pound for long.”
I looked back at Gaven as I walked towards the Bori, but he was already walking away.
And he didn’t look back.
I was in the Pound for a grand total of three seconds.
That Bori had been right. Pets like me don’t stay in the Pound for very long.
The person who adopted me had light blue eyes, and wavy red hair that struck me as odd. She had a sad-looking Robot Ogrin next to her.
“Could I have this one, please?” she asked in a voice that reminded me of honey. It was smooth and it sounded sweet. Nothing bad could happen to me with her, although the Ogrin next to her broke my heart. It looked... unsatisfied, and unhappy.
Most people call the Pound a bad place. Honestly, it isn’t that bad. A beautiful Pink Uni owns it, not the horrible Yellow Techo, Dr. Death. Well... he does, but the Uni takes care of all the adoptions, and Dr. Death takes care of all the abandoned pets. We get three square meals a day, and the cages are grey and walled up, but you can sometimes hear faint music in the background.
The Uni walked over to my cage and unlocked it. She smiled at me and said, “Have fun in your new home, Velnai.” Her smile irked me just the slightest bit.
The red-headed girl reached out and took my hand. “Come on,” she beckoned me. I swiped her hand away and got up myself. I hugged my Kookith tighter. Even though it was my owner Gaven who had gotten me this Petpet, and my owner Gaven who had abandoned me here, I couldn’t dare to get rid of him.
“It’s okay, Snarkie,” I told him. “We’ll get through this.”
The Robot Ogrin looked at me, and when I turned to look at him, he quickly averted my eyes. I knitted my eyebrows together, unsure of what to make of him.
“So, your name is Velnai?” My new owner turned to look at me.
I nodded uncertainly.
“My name is Alice.” She turned to her Ogrin friend now. “And this is Digitz.”
Digitz looked at me, but I couldn’t see his expression. He was a Robot after all.
“You’re going to love it where I am,” Alice promised me. But I could read through the lie; I wasn’t going to enjoy it after all, I could tell.
By the time we got to Alice’s Neohome, Digitz was looking depressed now, and he kept sneaking glances at me. I was starting to get the feeling that he felt sorry for me in a way.
“Here we are,” Alice said, a large smile plastered onto her face. “Come on.” She lead me into the Neohome, and Digitz lagged behind a ways.
“Digitz, can you show Velnai to the others, please?”
Digitz’s voice surprised me. It sounded like... well, like a robot’s. It had a hint of a real voice under his robot one, but it sounded metallic. He didn’t sound very optimistic, anyway.
“Come on, Velnai,” Digitz said, heading up the stairs inside. “Kikilia! Theses!”
Two Neopets stumbled down the inside stairs, and tumbled heads over heels over one another. One was a Spotted Tuskaninny, and the other was a Jelly Kacheek.
The Jelly Kacheek stood up immediately and smiled at me.
“Is this the new-comer?” she wondered.
“Yes,” Digitz said. “Velnai, this is Kikilia, or Kiki.” I waved slightly, shifting Snarkie into my other arm. “And the Tuskaninny over there is Thesus.”
Thesus shook his hand, getting his balance back. “Hi there, Velnai,” he said.
Digitz turned to me, then. He looked me up and down and then sighed, which was somewhat eerie for a robot.
“Um... Velnai, I need to talk to you.”
“You do?” I wondered.
Digitz nodded. “Come with me.”
Digitz lead me up the stairs and into a room that was fairly large, but secluded, so Digitz and I could talk alone.
“Listen, Velnai,” Digitz started, sitting down on the ground. I sat on a chair opposite Digitz.
“I thought there was something wrong when Alice adopted you; she doesn’t like Myncies.”
“She doesn’t?” I wondered.
“No,” Digitz responded. “You and Thesus are what Alice calls “Lab Rats”.”
“Lab Rats?” I repeated.
Digitz went on to explain. “Alice has the entire map to the Secret Laboratory.”
“I know what the Secret Laboratory is,” I said.
“Good. That stops a bit of explanation for me.” Digitz tried to joke, but it didn’t work.
“Tomorrow she’s taking you to the Laboratory to see if you change species. She likes your color, but she doesn’t like your species.”
Digitz got up, turned, and stated, “Just a heads up how much it could change you... I used to be a female Blue Grundo.”
And then Digitz walked off as silently as he had been before.
The next morning, I waited for a while, waiting to see when Alice would take me to the “Lab”. I thought about what I would be turned into all last night. My gender could even be changed, I realized.
“Velnai.” I looked up at Alice’s voice. She was smiling largely down at me.
“Hey, could you come with me?” Last time I’d heard those words, Gaven was bringing me to the Pound.
I stood up from the chair I was sitting on and acted innocent, like I didn’t know what was happening. “Sure!” I said fakely, a fake smile plastered onto my face.
“Good.” Alice smiled even larger, which I didn’t even know was possible.
She took my hand and let me out the door. I followed at a close pace behind her, and she let go of my hand halfway there.
The Laboratory was large and menacing. There was a big, giant, what looked like a ray-gun suspended from the ceiling. The Scorchio that was there looked disoriented, and totally out of it. He didn’t look like he knew what he was doing.
Alice pushed me towards the Scorchio. “Go on, Velnai.” She beckoned to me. “I’m right here.”
I stumbled forward.
The Scorchio directed me to where I should stand in order to get a good blast from the Lab Ray, as it was called.
I heard the ray starting up, and I stole a look at Alice, who was smiling as she always did, but this time in anticipation.
As the ray hit me, I didn’t feel like anything. I didn’t feel like anything at all.
The Scorchio shrugged as the ray stopped, and I turned to Alice.
“His speed dropped,” the Scorchio said.
Alice’s smile dropped, which was unusual for her. “Oh,” she stated. “Well then, better luck tomorrow, I suppose.” Then she took my hand like it was normal for her, and lead me away.
The next few days of lab zapping was uneventful, a level gained, a level dropped, my strength gained, my speed went up again, but then my intelligence would drop.
One day, I felt unusually weird when the lab hit me, and I could sense that Alice was getting impatient and wanted me to change color or species in some way. She didn’t have that usual, creepy smile on her face like she usually did.
When I turned to look at her, I said, “Did it work?” And my voice sounded like a... girl’s. My heart lurched, thinking that I had had a gender change.
“Well then, at least that’s a step up, huh?”
“A step up?” I wondered in disbelief. “I’m a girl!”
“Yeah. Maybe we can change your gender later on in the month.”
Digitz, Kiki and Thesus tried to comfort me as I went through being a girl. I was the oddest girl you’d ever seen--I didn’t like any of the girl items, and I refused to be dressed in girlish clothing. Fortunately, I was changed back into the boy after several more attempts. I was relieved, but I also didn’t want to be hit by the lab anymore. I was exhausted after every hit, and I grew more and more impatient.
One day, though, I was hit by the Lab Ray. I felt hair sprouting on my head and down my back, and I could feel my tail disappearing. I was growing taller, and my nose was growing larger and so were my feet and hands. And then, the ray stopped, and I was left with a gaping Alice.
She closed her eyes and shook her head. She whispered to herself something that sounded like, “I give up.” And she took my hand and lead me away.
When I looked in the mirror that night, I saw that I had turned into a Blue Kyrii. Kiki tried to assure me that Alice really liked Kyrii, and Thesus told me that being turned into a Kyrii wasn’t the worst that could happen. However, Digitz didn’t pay much attention to me, turning his back whenever I walked by. I see now that he had his good reasons.
The next day, Alice brought me to the Pound, and I never saw her, Digitz, or any of her pets ever again. I was left alone with just my Grey Kookith once again.
Being a Blue Kyrii left alone in the Pound was hard. I noticed that my whole life was probably going to be like this. I’m going to spend my entire life in the Pound. But, what surprised me the most was a girl that was walking by.
She looked at me for a rather long time and then said to the Uni that she’d like me.
The door opened and I stepped out. The girl whispered to me, “I’m going to help you, all right?”
“How?” I wondered as we left the Pound.
“I have a Speckled Paint Brush in my inventory, and I was going to use it to help a Neopet. You look like a Neopet that could certainly use a Paint Brush.” I looked modestly down at my blue get-up, trying to picture myself as a nice, Speckled Kyrii. It was hard to think that I had started out life as a Red Mynci.
“So... do you want it?”
I looked up at the brown-haired girl.
“Yes,” I said. “Yes. I-I do want it. Please.”
The girl smiled and said, “I’m Olivia.” She held out her hand and I shook it. “I take it you’re Velnai.”
“Yes,” I responded.
“Come with me.”
Olivia lead me to the Rainbow Pool.
“Are you, by any chance, a newbie?” I asked her.
“A what?” Olivia wondered.
“I thought so,” I whispered to myself.
“How about any other Neopets?” I asked.
“Three happy, bubbling Neopets,” Olivia responded to me. “A Bori, an Eyrie and a Zafara.”
I sighed. Even though this person had adopted me, and had three happy Neopets that had a great home, even though this person seemed like the greatest owner on Neopia, I could sense that she wasn’t going to keep me.
When we got to the Rainbow Pool, I was transported back to a time when things were happier, and I had been an Island Mynci.
“Now get in please, Velnai,” Olivia told me, smiling. But this was a real, true smile, not the large, fake smile Alice had used.
Olivia got down on her knees and started painting me all over. I relished this feeling, this feeling that somebody cared enough for me to take me out of the Pound and use a Paint Brush on me that she could very well use on her own Neopets.
When she was finished, she stepped back, discarded the used Paint Brush and smiled happily.
“Look at yourself, Velnai,” she said.
“I can’t,” I joked. “The Rainbow Pool isn’t exactly a mirror.”
I walked with Olivia back to the Pound. Our brief visit together, our brief friendship, had given me just a bit of strength to go on. I would obviously find an owner now.
“Bye, Olivia,” I said.
I wasn’t exactly smiling, but I was feeling better then I was earlier.
A few days went by while I was in the Pound. I spent them admiring my new look and playing with my Petpet, Snarkie. People walked by, noticing me and my nice name, but they never really paid any real attention.
One day, though, two girls walked by. One had a Camouflage Poogle with them.
I got up and watched as the dirty-blonds scoured the cages. The taller one stopped at my cage and smiled slightly at me.
“Hello there,” she said. “What’s your name?”
When I didn’t respond right away, she said, “Well, I’m Galaxy, and this is my friend Ember.” Ember waved slightly, and I wondered who their Neopet was.
“Are you in need of a home?”
Was that some sort of cruel joke?
“I’m Velnai,” I stated.
“Oh, hi there, Velnai,” Galaxy said. “Do you want to come home with me?”
I gripped the bars with my paws and nodded a little bit.
“All right then.” Galaxy smiled. “I’ll be right back.” And then she and Ember left for a moment. The Neopet stayed and almost seemed to guard me.
Galaxy and Ember came back with the Pink Uni who I knew all too well. She unlocked the cage like all those other times, and then left like all those other times. I walked out like every other time I’d been in the Pound, and we walked out talking like all those other times. Although, this time, I had a good feeling about this.
Galaxy introduced me to her pets DTJ, Fang and Yasmia. Over the months, DTJ went to another home with other Neopets that Galaxy owned, and we met Searon, a Bori.
Searon reminded me of that Bori that decided whether or not you were transferred, adopted or abandoned. But the three of them turned out to be my best friends.
So far, I’ve been with Galaxy for just about two years, and it seems pretty promising. After all, she sleeps with us in our Neohome, takes us places, feeds us good food, and she’s let me have my way pretty much.
Only every once in a while, I think of Gaven, and I think of AK and Golden and what might’ve happened to them. Why did Gaven let us go? I wonder. And sometimes I think of Gaven and what might have happened if he had decided to stay with us. And for some odd reason...
I’m glad he didn’t.