Still thwarting Sloth's mind control... Circulation: 191,771,194 Issue: 619 | 1st day of Storing, Y15
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The Metal Lutari: Part One

by katiepfeil


Nobody ever wanted to hire me.

      It didn't matter that I was almost always older and more experienced than the next pet – all that mattered was my fur was a plain blue and my name had "too many numbers" in it. Nobody would ever give me a chance to show off my talents, even when my fur changed from blue to orange to gold. It was almost like they looked down on me because of my constant trips to the Lab Ray – but I had to say, I quite liked going there every day. I enjoyed talking with the evil scientist, looking around his lab and discovering what made the machines tick.

      But others seemed to not enjoy my random changes. When I became shorter and stouter, a Poogle, I wasn't even looked at because my resume said Kougra. When I suddenly sprouted antennae to become an Aisha the other boys trying to get the job laughed and batted at my "girly" ears. It seemed like I would never be able to work my passion every day, instead I was sentenced to the garage to perform my experiments because my hammers and saws were "too loud" according to my mom and sisters.

      But, it was a beautiful day on Mystery Island, so I couldn't be too upset.

      Also, I finally got to spend some time with my big sister.

      Katie was our owner (Kate)'s first pet she ever made. She's over a year older than me, and I was the second pet. I sometimes envy the fact that she was created as a Kacheek and has stayed that way all these years. She was painted several times before Kate finally got enough money to paint Katie baby and kept her that way. At first I thought this would mean I was in charge – but no, Katie probably became even more bossy and demanding than before she was painted.

      Anyways, Kate had given Katie and me money to go grocery shopping, along with a few thousand extra neopoints to get a few new things to wear. With bags filled with fruits and meat hanging from my jaw, I followed my big sister through the aisles of the clothing store.

      "Oh look at these!" Katie cooed, grabbing a pair of goggles and strapping them to my head before I could protest. "You're definitely getting those," She nodded to herself with her baby arms crossed in front of her. I set down the bags and shook my head, chuckling under my breath.

      "Oh no," I said. "That would waste all of our spending money," I muttered as I slowly removed the goggles from over my antennae. "And you should be able to get something too."

      "I'm fine," Katie waved her paw nonchalantly. "I've got NC Mall items, you don't have anything but that stupid hat back from the advent calendar ages ago!" I glanced up at the Blechy Hat balanced on my skull.

      "I like this hat."

      "Well, you need something new, so, goggles." And without another word, Katie took them from my paw and skipped off to pay for them.

      I sighed, grabbed the bags and followed her, staring more at my feet than where I was actually going. Serves me right really. I shouldn't have been surprised when I ran head-first right into someone's legs.

      "Oh, I'm sorry!" I squeaked, accidently dropping our shopping bags in the process. I looked up, puzzled by the long dark robes that towered before me, until I got to the face – that's when my jaw dropped and my antennae dropped in fright. "Oh, M-Mr. Sloth, I'm so... I'm so sorry, I didn't mean-"

      "It's alright, little neopet," Sloth said. And was that a smile? Did Sloth smile? "You look a little frazzled," he observed, tapping a finger lightly to his chin as though he were thinking. "Let me ask you something, little neopet." He paused, cocking his head to one side. "Do you like the species you are?"

      It took me several seconds to process that I was being asked a question by Sloth, and he hadn't zapped me into sludge yet, and then another few moments to come up with an answer. "Well... I don't suppose I really do," I finally answered. "But that's okay, I'm a lab rat, so I'll probably change tomorrow anyways," I laughed, trying to lighten the mood to hopefully get my antennae to stop trembling.

      "Instead of waiting, why don't you take this?" He reached his slender hand into his dark robes, reaching down farther than I thought any pocket would ever go, before pulling out a disgusting bottle. It was filled with blue goop and covered in a ragged grey fur and – oh god, was that teeth floating in it? "A Lutari Transmogrification Potion," he announced, placing it in my paw. He smiled – oh yeah, that was definitely a smile – at me before waving a bit and walking away, disappearing into the air immediately after I blinked.

      "Haolys?" I heard Katie's voice calling me but it sounded far away, muffled, like I had cotton balls shoved in my ears. "What's that?" I realized she was standing next to me, eyeing the odd potion in my palm.

      "Um," I stammered. "Dr. Sloth just gave me this... he said it was a Lutari Transmogrification Potion," I muttered.

      A paw suddenly came hard down on my shoulder, then another, then another until a storm of them were covering my pelt. "Haolys!" Katie screeched with joy, ceasing her slapping to jump up and down excitedly in place. "We're rich! We're rich!" she cooed, dancing in place.

      "What do you mean?" I questioned, tilting my head.

      "Those potions sell for millions! We're going to be rich!" she yelled again. "Come on, we have to go show Mom this!" Katie grabbed my paw and immediately attempted to drag me off before releasing me and allowing me to pick up the dropped groceries. I followed her silently, listening to her list off all the new items we could buy – "We could buy you a billion pairs of goggles!" – and my gut twisted. Sloth gave me that potion, somehow knowing I didn't like the constant changing of species – the teasing that came with being a lab rat – he gave it to me so I could finally just be me.

      Maybe I didn't want to sell it.

      Before I knew it, we were through the doors of our home; Katie's calling and cooing assembling everyone in the living room. Razor looked ready to punch the poor baby; the poor Krawk's eyes were droopy as though he had just woken up. Lieder was scowling at her sister, having to put down her book in order to listen, and have it immediately poof into nothing. They were definitely an odd collection of pets – a pirate Krawk, a Darigan Ixi, a baby Kacheek, and... a what? What was I truly?

      "Dr. Sloth gave Haolys a potion!" she announced once everyone was settled in the room, Kate standing in the doorway looking in at everyone. All eyes turned to me as I was setting down our bags, and I was forced to hold up the potion to show them all. There were a few gasps (that I felt were unneeded) and Kate instantly jumped up from her position on the doorframe.

      "That's a Lutari potion!" she said with shock. "Those are worth a ton."

      An echo of "We're going to be rich!" and "I know exactly what I'll buy" bounced around the room. I clutched the potion close to my chest, staring at it, and I knew I had to say something.

      "Um," I began quietly, clearing my throat until the chatter died down slightly. "I... I was actually thinking of using it..." I looked up at the shocked faces of my brothers and sisters.

      "Why would you do that?" Razor sneered. "You're just going to be zapped and get changed again!" A murmur of agreement passed between my three siblings. I shook my head, glancing at Kate before meeting the eyes of each of my siblings.

      "I don't want to be the lab rat anymore," I said confidently. "I want to become a Lutari and I want to stay that way."

      "Are you sure this is the one you want?"

      Lieder was the only one who wasn't completely mad at me, so she was the one I took along to the auction house. I had decided not to use the Transmogrification Potion itself, instead I sold it and wanted to use the money to buy another Lutari morphing potion (maybe one with less goo and teeth and rotting hair...)

      The Darigan Ixi and I were staring into the glass case holding an Island Lutari morphing potion. It was perfect. It was exactly what I wanted. I nodded in answer to her question and then tapped the glass. "Plus, we'd still have over a million neopoints left, so we wouldn't be spending it all," I pointed out.

      Lieder smiled. "Hey, feel free to be a bit selfish. We all understand how you've picked something you want to be and how you want to stay that way. We don't blame you. Well – Razor might tell you that you should have picked a cheaper pet to be but you know him," the Ixi shrugged and we both laughed. I glanced over the counter at the Scorchio running the auction, waving him over and telling him we wanted the potion.

      "Ah," he said, bringing it out. "Good choice. Lovely pet to be. I've seen lots of these being sold recently." I grinned and handed over the heavy bag of neopoints, and he handed me the potion. Staring at it in my palms was so much different than staring at it through the glass. It was surreal. This was really going to happen. I was going to be a Lutari, and I wasn't ever going to change from that!

      "You ready?" my sister asked, nudging my forehead lovingly with her horns. I loved Lieder probably the most out of my siblings. She was so soft and quiet even though she looked menacing and could get irritated with Katie; she was always there to pick you up when you fell. I nodded and followed her silently all the way home, just staring at my new possession. "We're home!" I heard Lieder call and was surprised to see us home so soon. Everyone was gathered again in the big room, everyone wearing mostly fake smiles, except for Razor – who was showing how genuinely mad he was.

      "Hey hun," Kate whispered, walking over and hugging me around the neck. "Now, you're sure you want to do this? I thought you liked visiting the old scientist in his lab..." She trailed off, not looking me in the eye. I didn't care if no one else wanted me to do this, I wanted this, and sometimes you have to be a bit selfish.

      "Yes, I'm sure," I said sternly. "I do love visiting the lab, but I'm sick of being teased for being a lab rat. I'm tired of changing species, and I'm tired of being different." That got my mom's attention, but she said nothing more, only a nod of her head and a genuine, supportive smile. She backed away slightly; everyone was giving me space, so I guessed this was it.

      The light pop sound the vial made was incredibly satisfying when I pulled the cork out. The smell wasn't nice, but it certainly was much better than the Transmogrification Potion smelled. I gulped audibly, peering in at the golden liquid.

      This was it.

      I tilted my head and the vial back all at once, feeling the thick liquid slither down my throat. It made me shiver all over; the taste was bearable but just barely. The tingly feeling started in my back paws, spreading like a numbing sensation all the way up to the tip of my antennae. I heard a few shocked sounds coming from the small audience around me, but all I could focus on was the numbness and the sickening cracks I heard inside my brain as my bones and body shifted into a completely new being. My spine elongated, pulling me up onto my two back paws that had become enormously bigger. The vertebrae continued until a huge tail flared out behind me. My front paws shifted into clawed hands that were bigger than my head – which was now sucking my antennae back into my skull, poking out my main ears a little more and pulling them back slightly. I felt my eyes widen until they were much bigger than they had ever been before, and my entire body got furrier.

      One last tremor through my body had me curl over at the waist in pain, breathing deeply, before I could open my new eyes and glance around at everyone staring at me. My vision was so much brighter and clearer than it was before. I could see so much more in my peripheral vision – it was like seeing the world for the first time again. I tried to raise my new hand and found it was a lot heavier than it was before, and now I felt a new sensation, a new movement I hadn't had since I was Kougra. This tail was much larger and didn't sway as my old one did; it more bounced with each of my movements. Hopefully that was normal.

      Looking back at my family's shocked expressions, I grinned much wider than I ever could, or have wanted to, before. "So," I said, my voice no different than any of my other forms. "How do I look?"

To be continued...

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