Misadventures of a Neopian Times Reporter VI
Of M*YNCI and Meepits
I want to dedicate this story to my friend Thorndove. Sorry I made you wait almost a year before we got to this point, but I hope it was worth the wait.
I was sitting in my room writing a short story about nothing in particular when I realized that it had a been nearly three months since I had been forced into working for the Meepits. I have occasional psychic moments and this was one of them. I knew something was coming.
I still loved being a journalist, but perhaps not as much as I did when I was freelance, but that was neither here nor there. Working for Buzz Johnson, however, the Grey Lupe who ran the paper the Weekly World, was punishment enough in itself, but I knew that was small compared to what was intended for me by my Overlord. My reflections were interrupted by a neomail.
I opened it and sighed. It was from Buzz ordering me to get my butt down to his office. I traded my flip-flops for a pair of pumps and grabbed my nice jacket. Buzz wouldn't appreciate me looking an inch less than professional if he had to see me. I went down stairs and told the family who was home, kissed the baby, and headed off into the business district of Neopia Central.
I walked into the building and was met by Sheila, Buzz's personal assistant.
"Hi, Kristy, Mr. Johnson is waiting for you," the pink Scorchio told me.
I put on a brave face and went into Buzz's office. He was sitting gloomily behind his desk reading something.
"Mr. Johnson? I'm here," I announced.
"Thank you, Captain Obvious," Buzz grunted.
I waited nervously; I had already learned that Buzz was meaner than Meepie and, despite being Grey, not at all depressed. It was as if he channeled all the sorrow into fury which he released on me and his other employees. Only Sheila was spared, and I am certain that was because he didn't want to lose such a competent employee to another department of MWD Inc. The three of us were the only ones who knew we were working for Meepits at the paper.
"All right, you'll be doing a story tonight on M*YNCI. Here's your backstage pass," Buzz said, holding out the pass.
I took it gingerly, fear and agony clearly expressing themselves in my face.
"What?" Buzz asked.
"M*YNCI? Seriously?" I stuttered.
"Yes and why not? You're a teenage girl; shouldn't you be all over them?" Buzz growled.
"I'm sorry, sir, I'm not big on boy bands and the screaming fangirls..." I whined.
"How is that any different from living right outside the capitol city of Meridell? I know for a fact that you are friends with the Champion's sister, I'm certain you must have seen rabid fangirls chasing after him enough times to build up an immunity," Buzz said frowningly.
"That's a little different..." I tried to protest.
"Oh, for Fyora's sake, just hop a boat to Tyrannia and interview the stupid boys at their concert tonight!" Buzz roared.
"Yes, sir, Mr. Johnson, sir!" I cried hurrying out of the room.
"Oh, and Miss Kimmy?" he called after me.
I turned around and asked what.
"Our Overlord wants you to stop by his office first," Buzz said cruelly.
I could feel the blood drain out of my face. I turned around and left the building and went down a few blocks to the office kept by MWD Inc. Charla the Purple Kyrii receptionist smiled cruelly at me as I walked in. She had tried to warn me away so I suppose that she had the right to be smug now.
"Hi, Miss Kimmy. Go right on up, the boss is expecting you," Charla told me.
I smiled and nodded and made my way to the elevator. This was my third visit to this place. I got in the elevator and tried to compose myself. This could be about something else entirely, it was totally unlikely that the reason Meepie wanted to see me was because he was about to send me on a mission.
I reached the third floor and knocked on the door and it opened of its own accord. I walked in and sat down in the chair in front of the desk.
"Hi, Meepie," I said nervously.
"Hello there, Kristykimmy," Meepie replied.
I immediately noticed a Slorg sitting on his desk. I tried not to appear to notice, because said Slorg was watching me with great distaste.
"Kristy, it is time for your first mission," Meepie announced.
I cringed and asked what it was.
"The group M*YNCI is under new management. Or rather their current management was bought by the Feepits. You are going there tonight to do an article on the band. However, I need you to get into the control room for the concert hall so we can plant some equipment of ours. We will be sending an agent with you to do that and assess your performance. Meet Slorgie."
I looked at the Slorg who had been watching me and tried to smile at him, his frown deepened.
"Slorgie?" I asked.
"Yes, Slorgie. Now, pick him up and get yourself to the harbor and on a ship to Tyrannia, and if you are a millisecond late I will pluck out every hair on your head," Meepie ordered darkly.
I grabbed Slorgie and raced out of the room shouting back that it would be a piece of faerie cake and not to worry. Slorgie looked at me in even greater distaste. I could see Sheila snickering silently out of the corner of my eye as I sped out of the building. I hurried down to the harbor and got on a ship headed for Tyrannia. Once on it I tried to steady myself for the coming mission. Soon I realized that I still had Slorgie and we had never even exchanged a syllable.
"Um, hi, Slorgie. So, I'm Kristy. Yeah, you knew that already, didn't you? Um, I didn't know Slorgs worked for um, you know who," I said awkwardly.
"I'm not a Slorg, I'm a Meepit. I was turned temporarily into one for this mission," Slorgie explained.
"Oh, wow, that's quite the level of dedication," I said stupidly.
"Oh, shut up. Can't we just ignore each other's existence until our business in Tyrannia? Why do you larger creatures have such need to talk?" Slorgie sighed in disgust.
"I can take a hint," I said and was silent for the rest of the trip.
When we arrived in Tyrannia, I picked up Slorgie and made my way across the jungle to the Plateau. I couldn't stop for any of the attractions as it was getting late and Slorgie was watching my every move with ominous scrutiny. I tried to remind myself that this was just a normal interview and getting Slorgie into the control room to do whatever he had to do was cool and not a problem.
I finally came to the concert hall. After passing through the stone arches I was greeted by the more modern sight of the open stage and the backstage buildings behind it. I worked my way over to there; which was no small feat as the crowds were already beginning to pack in. At the door stood a Grarrl guard. I showed him my pass and he let me in. I was directed to an office where the band's manager waited.
I walked in and held out my hand and the Yellow Wocky shook it.
"Welcome, Miss Kimmy. We're very glad to have you here profiling the band. I'm Lorenzo Hibranch, but you can just call me Ren," Ren said.
"Hi, Ren, call me Kristy. It's great to be here. The Weekly World is very grateful to you for letting us have this opportunity," I replied.
"We're very glad, so what is first on the agenda?" Ren said smilingly.
"Well, I don't want this to be just like every other article and interview; I want to see the whole works! You know, all the backstage stuff, all the goings-on in the control room, everything that makes a M*YNCI performance what it is. But, first, I'd like to have a one-on-one with each of the members, then after their performance I'd like to do a group interview of the band. You know, to get the whole story, from each of them, and then to get their thoughts together. In between that, I'd like to wander around backstage and just ask general questions about all the work and all that," I explained.
Ren nodded and looked surprised. "That is a little unusual, but it certainly sounds like it would make a more interesting read. All right, if you will wait here, I'll go see the boys and figure out in what order it will be best for you to see them."
I smiled and nodded and took a seat to wait. A minute later Ren returned and the interviews started. Pretty soon I had finished up interviewing them and was on the last one, the lead singer. After the interview was over he asked me the question I was surprised that no one else was asking.
"If you don't mind my asking, why are you carrying a Slorg around with you?"
"Slorg? Oh, you mean Bennie! Yeah, he was a Faellie until yesterday, there was a mishap at the petpet laboratory and he got turned into a Slorg. But, he's still my best friend and he loves to come along on these interviews. We're not quite sure how to fix him, but we'll figure it out!" I explained.
The singer nodded and wished me the best of luck with that and I left. Ren wasn't there, he had told me to wander about as I liked and gather my information and he would find me just before the concert started to show me to the backstage seat he had for me.
"You're a remarkably good liar," Slorgie told me in the hall.
"Oh, shut up." I sighed.
"It was a compliment," Slorgie protested.
"I don't really want a compliment like that, I'm not some Machiavelli. I'm only working for you guys because you threatened to eat my family," I explained, making my way to the control room.
"Don't take it personally; our leader threatens everyone like that," Slorgie told me.
"Do you mean he isn't serious?" I asked.
"No, I just mean that everyone lives under the fear of being eaten, you're nothing special," Slorgie explained.
I entered the control room. I showed my pass to the technicians and explained why I was there. I put Slorgie down on the floor to do whatever he had to do and went over to watch what the techs were doing. I listened intently to what they were saying and took notes and almost managed to forget that Slorgie was in someway hacking the place while I kept the techs busy.
Soon they exhausted all the subjects and I noticed Slorgie was back by the door waiting. So I thanked them, picked up Slorgie, and left. In the hall I noticed a super tall blue Blumaroo standing talking to Ren. He looked like Commander Garoo's business savvy brother.
"Oh, no. That is Visser; he's one of the highest ranked Neopians in the Feepits' organization. He is the CEO of the company they use as a front, the one that bought the group. He'll see through us in a second. We'll be tortured for information for the rest of our sad short lives. If you crack and tell anything, I'll torture you in the afterlife," Slorgie informed me.
Despite Slorgie's assertions that we were doomed no matter what, I was not about to be captured and tortured by the Feepits. I shoved Slorgie into a potted plant next to the door and trotted down the hall in my best business manner. Ren saw me and smiled. I put my hand on his shoulder and gave him my prettiest smile.
"Hi, Ren, how's everything going? My story is coming together nicely; everyone is so helpful. Who is your friend? He looks like a man of business," I said chattily.
Ren smiled and introduced me to Visser, only he called him Mr. Fearwym.
I held out my hand to shake his, being as bright and charming as possible. "Hi there, Mr. Fearwym, I've heard of you. You're the CEO of the company that bought the group, right? Are you here inspecting the management? I'm Kristy, I'm here doing an article for the Weekly World, a prestigious paper that is published in Neopia Central. We're second only to the Neopian Times."
He shook my hand and said it was a pleasure.
"So, maybe I could ask you a few questions?" I asked. "That is, if it isn't an imposition, you must be a very busy man."
"No, go right ahead," Visser replied politely.
"Thank you so much. So, will being under new management change the band any? Do you have any plans at this time to change the band?" I asked.
"No, not currently."
"So what was the reason that your company bought the group?"
"Well, we had the opportunity and we decided it was a good investment," Visser explained.
"Okay, so what do you think of M*YNCI? Do you like their sound?" I asked, just to be chatty.
"Well, it isn't really to my taste, but my daughter is crazy about them," Visser replied.
"Oh, I've a few girls of my own so I'll bet I know. She's probably pestering you like mad for backstage passes to see the band in person." I laughed.
He smiled and nodded.
"Well, I'm sure you're very busy, Mr. Fearwym, and I'm very obliged for your time. I'll stop hogging it and go back to getting in the way of everyone else," I replied.
"Not at all, it was a pleasure to meet you, Miss Kristy. Good day," Visser said with a smile and I went past them and down the hall.
I came back twenty minutes later to retrieve Slorgie from his hiding place. I brushed all the dirt off him while he looked me over as if he couldn't believe that Visser hadn't seen through me. I wasn't surprised; Meepie had made it very clear that he picked me because I was the last person on Neopia that anyone would think had a hidden agenda.
Not long later Ren came to get me. He led me the stage and showed me around a little. Then he showed me a spot to sit to watch from backstage and told me that the show would start in about ten minutes. I sat down and reviewed my notes while I waited. Roughly ten minutes later the boys passed by, waving and winking at me. I put my notes aside and decided to enjoy myself.
Things went well and I realized that I liked their music a little more than I had expected. However, things were going too well for it to be happening to me, life was about to throw a spanner in the works. In the middle of the concert, mid song, the vocals died. The music continued playing, but no one was singing. I realized that the boys were lip-syncing.
The crowd of screaming fangirls was enraged. No one could stop them as they made a rush for the stage.
"Slorgie, what did you do?" I asked in an undertone.
"Our leader decided to make your story more interesting and hurt our competition's stocks a little," Slorgie replied.
The band went racing by me and I saw the crowd swarm up the stage. I grabbed my notes and Slorgie and took off running after the band, hoping that I would escape the furious fangirls unscathed.
"There are many ways to die; death by fangirls was not the one I would have chosen!" I screamed.
"Agreed!" shouted several voices.
I stayed right with the band and several feet from the exit Ren was waiting. He ushered us into a dressing room and locked it. There was a girl with him who looked like she belonged in the crowd. The girl stayed outside while we barricaded ourselves in the room. From outside we could hear what was going on. The rabid fans came screeching to a halt wondering where the band had gone.
The girl shrieked in a super high-pitched voice. "Oh my gosh! M*YNCI just came tearing by me and ran out the exit. I almost touched one of them!"
The fangirls were off again and we breathed a collective sigh of relief.
"I always said that not really singing our concerts would come back to bite us, it always does," the lead sighed.
"You know, I think I probably had better leave, shouldn't I?" I said nervously. "I seriously doubt you want a journalist hanging around right now."
"I think that would be a good idea." Ren sighed. "I'm sorry about this, Kristy; although I suppose this means a better article for you."
"Well, I'll venture out and hopefully it'll be safe. I'm really sorry for you guys, I'm sure that this is a bit of a problem. Good luck." I tried to express my sympathy in a meaningful manner.
I peeped out and found the girl standing guard; she nodded when I asked if it was safe. I left the building and outside the concert hall nearly got run over by the fangirl mob; they had seen me disappear with the group. Running in stylish heeled pumps was not a fun experience. Then I stepped in dung. I was very happy to get out of Tyrannia.
I dropped Slorgie off at MWD's office and went home to clean my shoes and write my article. Well, to be honest, I cleaned my shoes and went to bed and wrote the article the next morning. When I brought it to the office, Buzz chewed me out for no good reason so I went home feeling as peevish as I could possibly feel. I almost wished that the fangirls had trampled me to death.
I was surprised to find a box sitting on my doorstep when I got back. I took it inside and opened it. In it was a shoebox. I opened the shoe box to find a super stylish pair of pumps and a note.
'Good job, maybe you're ridiculous for a reason. We'll always have Tyrannia, and Tyrannia will always have dung. Try not to step in any wearing these. Slorgie'