The Misadventures of a Neopian Times Reporter XV: Part One
It was a normal Wednesday at 80900 Market Street in Neopia Central. For the rest of the world it was Valentine's Day. However, three members of the family were away so we had postponed any celebrations until Saturday when everyone would be home again. Perhaps, it was the fact that it was a normal day that made this happen. Because, the fact of the matter is, my life is not normal and what can go wrong will in the most scarring fashion possible.
It was around ten in the morning when it started to go wrong for me. Elise was away in Tyrannia, and Anita and Princess were vacationing with Cousin Hector in Qasala. Chloe had gone to her job at the DoN HQ hours ago, Yanli, Bluejay, and Molly were playing nicely in their clubhouse and Inna was sitting on the floor in my room playing with Rosalind, her Faerie Altachuck.
"Mama, wook Wyn!" my Baby Acara called out laughing.
I looked over and found Lyn had completely tangled herself up in my yarn. I got up and started to untangle her when there came a knock at my door. I looked up, bewildered. The knock had come from my balcony door. At the glass doors stood a familiar face, the yellow Grundo I knew as Sloth's minion, 605. I could feel the blood drain from my face. When someone from Virtupets came calling it was usually a recipe for disaster.
I got up, opened the door, and invited him in. 605 greeted us, and I asked him what Sloth wanted as I went back to untangling Lyn. 605 stared down at his feet, looking super embarrassed.
"I have a problem I was hoping you could help me with..." 605 said nervously.
I looked up at him, worried. 605 was always cool, collected, and cynical, this was not like him. I knew this was something big and bad, but why was he coming to me?
"Is it that some big story about the Doctor about to break and you wanted to see if I can suppress it or something of the nature? Because I can't, I only write the articles," I informed him.
"No, not that. You see there is this Valentine's Dance tonight that all the villains who are anybody will be at, the Doctor has to show up. He put me in charge of lining him up a partner for it," 605 said slowly.
"So go ask Jhudora. She may not like him, but she doesn't hate him," I said.
"Yeah, I tried that, she's already going with Captain Scarblade," 605 replied.
"Ouch, poor Frank. Ylana Skyfire?" I suggested.
"She's going with Commander Garoo," 605 sighed.
"Weird, I thought they hated each other. How about Vira?"
"They do, but this Valentine's Day Dance has nothing to do with personal feelings. It is all political. Vira is going with Balthazar," he responded.
"You people are so weird. Masila?"
"The Tax Beast."
"I should have seen that coming, how about Xandra?"
"She won't be coming; Fyora hasn't let her out yet," 605 explained.
"The Shadow Usul?" I was running out of ideas.
"She only comes out at night, so I won't be able to find her to ask until it is too late," 605 sighed.
"You could ask Taelia, she's wicked."
"She is a registered hero, so despite any personal flaws that you would point out that make her villain potential, she technically cannot come," 605 explained.
"Okay, why are you here? I may interview villains, but I don't have any special pull with anyone," I asked, finally freeing Lyn.
"Ah, well, you see. You are a minion and journalist, so that makes you allowed to show up at certain villain events," 605 stated.
"Yeah, I know that," I said, rolling the loose yarn back into a ball.
"So you could go as the Doctor's partner," 605 clarified.
I dropped the yarn ball and it rolled away from me as I stood there in a stupefied state. Had 605 really just asked me to go to a Valentine's Day dance as Dr. Frank Sloth's date? Inna picked up the ball and returned it to me and I mechanically started rolling it again.
"So?" 605 asked.
"Most certainly not!" I cried. "I'm not going anywhere with him. I'll stick with being an acquaintance, thank you. My Overlord will be there, and Commander Garoo as well, so not only will my Overlord know, but Garoo will tell my boss, and do you know Buzz Johnson? I'd rather be defenestrated from the highest tower of the Darigan Citadel than give Buzz that kind of humiliating ammo!"
"Oh, come on, you can tell them that you wanted to write an article about how villains celebrate Valentine's Day," 605 suggested.
"I don't want to know how villains celebrate Valentine's Day! I'm not even technically allowed to like Frank because of the trauma that would cause my little boy!" I cried.
Inna started laughing. She had no clue what was going on, but that didn't stop it from being funny. Despite being a wonderfully loving baby daughter, Inna always seemed to find my suffering rather amusing.
"I'll compensate you!" 605 said.
"Why me?" I asked.
"Because you are the only female in the Doctor's circle of acquaintance I could think of who has a heart," 605 replied.
"Stop kissing up."
"No, I mean that. I figured you were the only girl who I could appeal to. No one else would even remotely care. Please!" 605 clarified.
"No, this is not a good idea," I said.
"I know it's not a good idea, would I be here if I had a good idea?" 605 sighed. "Please?"
"No, 605, I can't."
He got down on his knees and begged. Then he crawled forward and sobbed into my skirt while begging. Finally, he dropped at my feet and begged me to kill him now because if he went back to the Space Station without having secured a partner for the dance the good Doctor would turn him into a pile of sludge.
"605, is this really necessary? Why does he need a partner for the dance? Is it really that bad if he shows up alone?" I said looking down at the prostrate figure.
"Yes, he will be a laughing stock if he shows up without a partner, and he will be looked on a total snob if he doesn't show. That you cannot do in villain circles. I told you, this dance is literally the most important political event of our villains have," 605 explained.
"605, doesn't he have minions he could have come?"
"That is also a no go. You look even more ridiculous if you show up with one of your minions, because do you know what that says about you?" 605 said.
"Yeah, I can see that," I admitted.
"So you'll do it?" he asked hopefully.
"I didn't say that," I said.
"You hate me, you want me to die!" he wailed.
"605, you know that's not true!" I protested.
"You hate all Grundos, you want to see us all become sludge!" he bawled.
"I do not! My Chloe was born a Grundo! 605, quit your whining!"
Inna was lying on the floor laughing helplessly. She still didn't have a clue, but it was a hilarious scene to her. Suddenly there was a buzzing sound from his pocket. He looked at me despairingly and I rolled my eyes. He pulled out a little box and pressed a button on it.
"Yes, Master?" he asked.
"Where in Neopia are you?" Sloth's voice bellowed. "You have a mountain of work, the minion you left in your place was utterly incompetent. There is a mess on my office floor to clean up, and you better have finished your mission or there will be two messes on my floor!"
605 leered at me and answered, "I'm sorry, sir, I'm heading back now. Also, I did complete my mission."
"Oh really, and who is it? Because if I look stupid tonight you will pay," Sloth yelled.
"Your good friend Kristykimmy," 605 replied.
My jaw dropped as he grinned wickedly at me.
"Oh, really, Kristy agreed to that? I guess she's more of a kind-hearted sap than I thought. I figured if she worked for the Meepits she had to have a dark streak in her somewhere. I'm not complaining; she's annoying but better than nothing," Sloth said sounding mollified. "Get back here on the double then."
605 hung up and I dived at him.
"Call him back, you little Mortog, or I will defenestrate you!" I screamed.
"No way, I'm dead either way. At least this way it looks like you are a cold hearted jerk who stood poor Doctor Sloth up," 605 cried.
I let him go; I wasn't really cruel enough to toss him out my window.
"Maybe I won't show, and when Frank comes to see me tomorrow to demand why I stood him up, I'll play stupid. I'm not a spy for nothing; I can play clueless really well. It'll still blow up in your face, and it will look worse because you lied to him," I threatened.
605 really started crying this time. Inna frowned at me and said, "Bad Mama."
I broke down at that, I could stand anything but Inna's disapproval.
"All right, I'll do it, I suppose even Dr. Sloth deserves a break, although I think I've done more for him than he deserves," I gave in.
605 hugged my knees and thanked me profusely. He promised to make it up to me and left. I sat down on my bed and wept while Inna patted my leg and told me, "Eh oway, Mama."
I walked out the door and locked it behind me, then picked Inna up. I walked through the gardens to the playhouse and went in. Bluejay, Yanli, and Molly were reading the comic pages of the Weekly World and the Neopian Times. The three looked up at me when I entered.
"Hi, guys. Mommy needs to go into town for a little while, so be good while I'm gone and don't leave the property. I probably won't be back by lunch so make sandwiches and please clean up after yourselves," I said.
"What's wrong?" Bluejay asked. "You only call yourself mommy when talking to us when you are stressed."
"I am stressed, but it is simply the normal stuff. Don't worry about me, sweetie," I replied, hating that I was so transparent.
"Okay, will you bring me back bubblegum?" Yanli asked happily.
"Sure thing, honey, but you won't get it until the playroom is clean," I replied.
"Ha, you saw that? I'ma clean it up, soon." The Christmas Zafara recited the same old line.
"Bye, Mama Kristy," Molly said with a bright smile. "I'll make sure Yanli cleans up."
"Thank you, sweetheart," I said, grateful Molly was so good at keeping her sister on task.
"Bye-bye, Wani! Bye-bye, Buew! Bye-bye, Mowey!" Inna cried, blowing kisses.
I smiled and kissed them goodbye. Then I walked into downtown Neopia Central and straight to the Defenders of Neopia HQ to deliver my bad news.
It was Chloe's turn to man the computers at the HQ that day. She was out of costume since she didn't need to be Morphica to do that job. Lightning Lenny was leaning against the wall next to the control panel and chatting. Chloe was currently a Woodland Cybunny.
"So what are you doing for Valentine's Day?" Lightning was asking.
"Nothing, three of my sisters are out of town. We'll be celebrating it on Saturday," Chloe answered, pushing her glasses up on her nose.
"Oh, what's up with that?"
"Nothing really. Princess and Anita are in Qasala on vacation with Anita's cousin Dr. Worth. Elise is in Tyrannia, the Neopian Philharmonic's pianist had to leave temporarily and Elise got picked to replace her for the week. It is a great opportunity for her," Chloe explained.
"That's really excellent, you must be proud of your sister." Lightning commented.
"Yeah, I am. But, I've been slacking on my violin practice of late; she makes me feel so guilty," Chloe laughed.
Lightning started to teasingly admonish her, but stopped when she suddenly looked really freaked out.
"Kristy is here. I hope everything is okay," Chloe said, getting up.
I walked into the building and saw Chloe and Lightning Lenny walking out of one of the rooms to meet me. Inna cried out in joy and held her arms out to her sister. Chloe took the baby and gave her a hug.
"Hi, sweetie! How's work?" I asked.
"What's wrong? You wouldn't come down here unless something was wrong," Chloe asked.
"Why do you people always assume the worst?" I sighed, again annoyed by how well my kids knew me.
Chloe gave me that stare that she had obviously picked up from the superheroes who worked here.
"Okay, I need a favor, will you be available to babysit the kids tonight?" I asked.
"Sure, I don't have any plans. What's up?" Chloe asked.
"I can't tell you, it counts as a conflict of interest," I groused.
Lightning Lenny and Chloe exchanged looks of exasperation.
"Are you going to be robbing the National Neopian tonight?" Lightning asked.
"I've been bullied into going to a dance tonight with a certain green haired acquaintance," I explained.
Chloe's eyes bulged as her jaw dropped; she knew who I was talking about.
"How could you let yourself be pushed into that? Honestly, don't you have any backbone?" Chloe hollered at me.
"I stood my ground until 605 got all Machiavelli on me," I growled. "I should've smushed him like a cupcake."
"I'm not babysitting while you go out and make a fool of our family. You're staying home too!"
"Chloe, my very existence makes a fool of our family."
Chloe pursed her lips, but didn't reply. She couldn't say anything without admitting the truth of my statement and she couldn't deny it either. Chloe was much kinder in her words than Elise, who is always brutally honest and would have flat out agreed with me.
"Look, I need you to do this, and I need you to act normal. Do you know what trauma it will cause Bluejay if he finds out where I'm going tonight?"
Chloe nodded reluctantly. "All right, but next time I see 605 I'm going to make him regret his existence."
"That's my girl," I replied taking Inna back. "I need to go shopping. My fancy dresses are only appropriate for Meridell."
"Bye-bye, Cwo!" Inna called as we walked out, once again blowing kisses.
As I walked out I could hear Chloe telling Lightning Lenny not to ask.
To be continued...