The Search for Dr_Death
It was just another morning in the Pound, or so anyone thought. All of the pets were sound asleep in their cages, when there was a sudden CLANG! The pets bolted straight up, and looked around fearfully.
"I've had enough!" shouted an all-too-familiar voice. Dr_Death stomped down the hallway, glaring at all the pets as he passed by. "This is the last straw. I'm getting too old for this, I'm going to retire!" Since the Pound was set up so a pet could only exit through the Adopt section, he headed straight there, and out that door.
"What was that about?" asked Simon, a Red Ixi, to his neighbor. The other pet shrugged. "Oh well, he should be back soon enough." He settled back down and attempted to get back to sleep.
It wasn't long until there was another noise, though, as four pets and a robot entered the Pound. The Pink Uni that ran the Adopt door was leading a Techo with a huge eye, an Orange Blumaroo with red eyes and pointed fangs, a Greed Grarrl in a very Flowery Dress, and a huge robot that looked like it might have come from Virtupets into rows of cages. The Adoption Uni spoke.
"Alright, here's what we're going to do. The Pound will be split into four sections, and each of you will get to manage your own section. Whoever the owners of Neopia choose based on your performance will become the new Pound Director." She walked forward toward the center of the Pound, where she usually took owners. She pointed her hoof toward the section closest to the Transfer area "All right, this section will belong to Bug-Eye McGee," she moved her hoof over to area closest to the Adopt door, "this section will belong to Rosie," she pointed toward the corner closest to the Abandon door, "this section will belong to Kreludan Defender Bot," and finally she pointed toward the section Simon was in, the corner where little light tended to reach, and owners would rarely visit, "and finally, this section is Count Von Roo's. Any questions?" The four potential Pound owners shook their heads, and headed toward their assigned section.
The Orange Blumaroo looked around his corner. He seemed to be shaking with glee. He looked around, and then, satisfied with what he saw, opened up one of the cages, where a Red JubJub was. The pet backed into a corner, obviously scared.
"Sit still, little pet," he said, staring straight into the Red JubJub's eyes. The abandoned pet relaxed as he did so, allowing the Blumaroo to bite him. The JubJub quickly figured out what was happening, and tried to struggle away, but couldn't. The Blumaroo, after three long seconds, put the JubJub down and closed the cage door again. The JubJub looked fairly pale, but otherwise fine. Still, Simon didn't want the same thing to happen to him.
Count Von Roo moved on to the next cage, and Simon could tell by the direction the Blumaroo was going, he was going to be number four. He didn't have that much time, but he needed to develop a plan.
It seemed the Neopets became immobile while the Count looked into their eyes. Maybe if Simon closed his eyes, he could escape.
Two pets left, one. None of them had managed to get out, what made this Ixi think he could? His cage opened, and he quickly shut his eyes. He didn't have time for such thoughts. Here goes nothing! He lowered his head and ran at the door. He felt himself knock the Blumaroo aside.
"Get back here!" Count Von Roo shouted. Simon, now sure he was past him, opened his eyes and ran through the Pound. The only way out was the Adopt section, so he headed in that direction. He heard the sound of flapping wings behind him. He hadn't seen any Korbats around! He quickly shot a glance back and saw what looked like a Korbat with a Blumaroo head.
Okay, that pet was a monster. Good to know. Simon looked back ahead of him and charged out of the section the Count was given, and into Rosie's section.
The Green Grarrl, Rosie, was busy dusting each of the cages, singing a catchy song. She stopped once she noticed the Red Ixi charging right at her, though, and jumped out of the way, as agile as a Meerca.
The pets around him were staring, but Simon didn't care. He already had come this far, he couldn't stop now. He charged through the last stretch and headbutted the door open, before running through it, into the entryway, and out the entrance.
Once he was a good distance away from the Pound, Simon stopped to catch his breath. Fresh air, and a bustling marketplace. After being in the Pound for who-knows-how-long, this place felt like an entirely different world. He would have loved to stop, and get some food, but of course, as a pet from the Pound, he had no Neopoints.
And besides, he had to tell someone what was happening to the others. He might have gotten out, but after that, he had no doubt the Count would be a bit more cautious. Who knows what was happening back there now?
But who could he tell? The Chia Police would just bring him back to the Pound, and he had heard from the conversations of owners that the Defenders of Neopia hadn't been on duty, either.
He would have to find some pets to tell. Someone who would believe him. He wandered from the shopping center into the residential area. Magical Road, the sign said. Most of the Neohomes looked like they hadn't been lived in for a long time, but there was one that looked occupied. The Ixi knocked on the door as hard as he could. Hopefully someone would answer.
It wasn't too long before the door opened. A Plushie Scorchio stood on the other side.
"Can I help you?" she asked. She looked like she had just woken up.
"Sorry to bother you, but I need help! I-I'm from the Pound and--" His stomach took that opportunity to rumble loudly. He hadn't eaten in so long, he had forgotten how hungry he was.
"Oh, you poor thing. Come in and we'll get you something to eat." She opened the door wider and ushered him inside.
"-Food first, you can tell us what you need to later." She turned toward the stairs. "Embers! Get some omelets out of the Safety Deposit Box! We have a hungry pet down here,"
"What?" A Faerie Xweetok fluttered down the stair. "Did you say- is that Chirsha?" she said as she spotted Simon.
"No," the Scorchio answered, "Just get the food, he's hungry!" The Xweetok nodded and fluttered down the hall.
"Who's Chirsha?" Simon asked.
"She's one of the pets that live here. She's a Red Ixi, just like you."
A few seconds later, she came back with a huge stack of omelets.
"I didn't know what kind you wanted, so I got a bunch. Is this good?" she asked. Simon couldn't remember seeing so much food in his life! Then again, he couldn't remember the last time he had food, either.
"I-is this all for me?" he asked.
"If you want it! We have more if you need any." Simon shyly took one of the slices. Was it really okay? He nervously took a bite. Was this what food always tasted like? It seemed that it had never been this good before. He was sitting there, chewing it dreamily, when the Scorchio beckoned him down the hall.
"Why don't we head into the kitchen, and you can tell us all about what you needed." Right! He had nearly forgotten! How could he sit here eating when anything could be happening to the other pets back at the Pound!
The Scorchio led him to the kitchen. It was simply furnished, just a table and some chairs, but what was amazing was how many hallways it was connected to. Including the one he had just come from, there were five altogether.
"So, what is it you needed to tell us?" she asked. Simon couldn't help taking another bite before he began talking.
"The Pound," he began, "Dr-" He was interrupted again by the door in the entranceway suddenly opening.
"Guys, I'm back!" a Shadow Gnorbu lumbered down the hall.
"Oh, CJ! You might want to hear this too!" The Plushie Scorchio beckoned for him to join them in the kitchen.
"Okay, what's up?" He entered and spotted Simon. "Who's the Ixi?"
"I think he was about to explain. He was starving, so I let him in. Now, can you tell us why you're here?" she asked Simon. Finally. Hopefully there wouldn't be any more interruptions.
"Yeah. This morning, Dr_Death quit! And they're trying to find a suitable replacement, but... Well, at least one of them isn't suitable at all. I can't go back there! But the others - the others need to be rescued. I didn't know where to go. Everywhere official would just send me back to where I came from."
"Dr_Death quit?" The Gnorbu looked at Simon with wide eyes. "Wow, I wouldn't have thought he'd actually do it. What are the replacements doing differently?"
"Well, there's four that are trying out. The one assigned to my section was a monster, though! He was-" He cut off as he remembered what he had seen.
"Who was he?" asked the Scorchio. "Do you know?"
"The Uni said his name was Count Von Roo." The pets at the table looked at him, shocked.
"Who were the others?" asked the Gnorbu.
"It sounded like they were called Rosie, Bug-Eye McGee, and Kreludan Defender Bot." The Gnorbu snickered at that.
"Looks like they opened it up to any old volunteer. Von Roo is probably the worst of the lot, but I highly doubt any of the others are right for the job either. Finish your food, kid, 'cause we're going to find Dr_Death. He may be grumpy, but he's the only one who can run the place right." He had a serious look.
"Y-you're just going to take my word for it?" Simon hadn't set out with a plan in mind, so he was very surprised that he wasn't back in the Pound already. Were all Neopians this kind?
"When I was out doing dailies, I saw the Pound was closed," the Gnorbu said. "And anyway, I doubt you'd lie. You wouldn't say you were from the Pound if you were going to lie to us. That's a risk in and of itself."
"Besides, not many Neopians would look in one of the Classic neighborhoods for help, since most families moved into new Neohomes. It's pretty clear you don't know your way around Neopia Central," the Xweetok giggled. So that was why the street seemed abandoned.
"Well, first we need a plan-" the Gnorbu started.
"-But, we should probably introduce ourselves first. My name's Spyr," the Scorchio cut in.
"...Right." The Gnorbu looked a bit deflated after being cut off. "My name's CJ," he said, "and I originally came from the Pound myself." Simon was surprised. This Gnorbu looked pretty strong, not at all like the weak, hungry pets that were in the Pound. He would never have thought that someone such as that could have come from there. As if he could read the Ixi's thoughts, he continued, "Of course, it was a long time ago. Hey, do they still do the amnesia thing?"
That was a fact that wasn't talked about much. Pets who were abandoned would go through machines that would make them forget their past life, so it was a fresh start for the pet when it was adopted. Simon nodded.
"Oh, I haven't introduced myself either!" the Xweetok chimed in. "I'm Embers! What's your name, Ixi?"
"Simon," he said. "So, how are we going to get Dr_Death back?"
"We'll figure something out," CJ said. "If we can find him, we can tell him who his possible replacements are. That might give him reason enough to come back."
"But where can he be?" asked Embers. "Travel is so instantaneous nowadays, he could be anywhere in Neopia!"
"Well, maybe he could be, but we can split up. If we get the whole family involved, that's twenty pets, plus Simon here," the Gnorbu stood up, "we can search the whole globe if we have to."
"You're right!" Spyr stood up as well, and shouted several names down each hallway. Four pets came out of each, looking confused.
"What's with the family meeting?" a Camouflage Kougra asked.
"We have a job for all of you," the Scorchio told her, then she raised her voice for all to hear, "Everyone: we have a mission. Dr_Death has retired from being the Pound Director, but his replacements are not good for the job. At all. As in one of them is a vampire bad. We need to find him, and convince him to take up his position again. Simon here," she gestured to the Ixi, "is probably our best bet to convince him, since he actually is from the Pound. We need to split up; check all of the worlds in Neopia, and once one of us has found him, get Simon there so he can explain. We'll meet back here in an hour, and hopefully we'll know where the dotor is." She stopped and let that information sink in.
The other Neopets talked to each other for a bit, but it sounded like they were discussing where each of them should go. It was incredible; suddenly there was an army of pets that were going to help him, Simon, an Ixi ignored at the back of the Pound! Eventually, they had settled where each was going to go, and all of them headed to the front door, Spyr, Embers, and CJ included.
Amongst the chaos, Simon found another Red Ixi next to him.
"So your name's Simon?" she asked.
"Yeah." He nodded.
"Do you want to search Meridell with me? You probably should stay with one of us so you don't get lost."
"Sure, if that's okay with the others." He was curious as to why there was a Red Ixi at all with all the painted pets in this group, but it made him feel a bit more comfortable being with another basic Ixi.
"Yay!" She bounded over to where Spyr was and told her about what was going on. The Scorchio nodded in consent and the other Ixi ran back to Simon.
"Come on! Let's head to Meridell!"
The other Ixi, Chirsha, as it turned out, led him to the map room. It was a place with strange technology that could whisk a pet to any part of Neopia they wished.
"Meridell," Chirsha said as they entered. There was a short whirring sound, and then suddenly, they found themselves in a grassy field outside a castle. Around them were all sorts of stalls and tents. Despite the fact that Simon couldn't remember ever being here before, the place felt somewhat familiar.
"Come on! Let's ask the guards if they've seen him!" Chirsha ran toward the castle with wild abandon, heading straight toward the Draiks that were standing next to the gate. They didn't seem at all concerned about the Ixi heading toward them, though. Simon supposed the castle must have been open to tourists, then.
"Have you seen Dr_Death around?" Chirsha asked the guards. They shook their heads.
"No, but there's a Red Uni around here who was asking the same thing. You might want to see if she can help you, or you could help her. Last I saw, she was heading toward Meri-Acres." The Draik pointed toward the farmlands past the stalls. In the distance hung a foreboding Citadel. It appeared to be floating.
"Thanks," Chirsha said, "Huh, I guess some other pets heard the same news, then? Let's see if we can find her. Race ya!" she bolted off.
"Hey, I haven't been able to train speed!" Simon shouted at her, as he ran after.
"I haven't trained at all, either. We're even, then!"
Simon pretended he was being chased by that Blumaroo, gaining a burst of panicked speed. He wasn't quite able to catch up to Chirsha, since she had a head start, but he got very close before they reached the farms.
A Red Uni was asking a Kacheek something near a very smelly dump. It smelled even worse than the Pound did, Simon thought.
"Hey, Uni!" Chirsha called, "Are you the one who's looking for Dr_Death?" The Uni jumped once she realized she was being addressed and trotted over.
"Yes, do you know where he is?" she asked.
"We're looking for him, too. Where've you checked so far?"
"Around Neopia Central, and this place so far." Simon thought her voice sounded somewhat familiar.
"Hey, are you from the Pound?"
"What?" The Uni stepped back, somewhat panicked. "Why would you think that? I-I-"
"Don't worry, I escaped today too." The Uni calmed down a little. "I got away from Count Von Roo."
"Oh were you that Ixi who charged through?" He nodded. "That was so cool! I got away from that Kreludan Defender Bot, after you started the riot."
"I did what?"
"Oh, you don't know? A ton of pets got out once you gave us the idea. I don't know how the ones who are still in there are faring, but that's all the more reason to find Dr_Death." Wow, more had gotten out? It relieved him slightly that he wasn't the only one out, but it would be that much worse on the ones still in. "A bunch of us tried to find homes to take us in, but I decided I needed to find the doctor. He's the only one who can set this right again."
"Agreed. I found a family that was willing to help out. They're spread all over Neopia right now, looking for him."
"Really?" Chirsha nodded proudly."That's great! We should find him in no time!" Chirsha now spoke.
"Well, we have another half-hour before we meet back up with the others. Why don't we look around a bit more, and if he isn't here, play some Cheeseroller? I'll pay, don't worry."
"That sounds great!" the Uni said. "I'm Cheeko, by the way. Who're you?"
"Simon, and this is Chirsha," Simon said.
Dr_Death wasn't anywhere in Meridell, but Simon had the greatest fun he had in a long time playing Cheeseroller with Chirsha and Cheeko. Afterward, they headed back to Neopia Central.
. . .
"Simon, there you are!" The Camouflage Kougra said as the pets who were in Meridell came back. The Neohome seemed a bit more crowded than before, and it turned out most of the pets who went out found a Pound pet searching for Dr_Death, too. "I found him on Mystery Island, by the beach. But he might not be there much longer."
"Can we come too?" asked one of the other Pound pets. There was a pretty large group. The Kougra looked at them, surprised.
"If you're all from the Pound, the more the merrier," she said. She led them over to the map room, and they headed to Mystery Island.
The group now contained Simon, the Kougra, Cheeko, two Rukis, two Kacheeks, a Gelert, a JubJub, a Grundo, a Nimmo, and an Acara. Luckily, on Mystery Island, large groups of Neopets were not uncommon, so no one batted an eye.
The place was a tropical paradise, although there was something a bit spooky about the jungle. Luckily, they only needed to look on the beach. Just as the Kougra had said, Dr_Death was there, sitting in the sunlight, relaxing. Simon could hardly recognize him, since he never looked this relaxed. It was almost a shame to disturb him. But it had to be done.
"Dr_Death?" Simon approached the Techo. The doctor spun around as he said it, making Simon flinch.
"What do you want? If you want to ask about Unconverteds, forget it! I don't run that place anymore!" His sneer was back. This face Simon recognized.
"About that, we," he gestured to the group of pets, "just came out of the Pound. Not because we were adopted, but because we had to. The potential Pound Directors are bad!" The grumpy old Techo looked at him, considering.
"Are they really bad enough that you'd come all the way to ask me of all pets?"
One of the Kacheeks, Kaylee, stepped up.
"Please, Dr_Death. You might be scary, but these guys will actually hurt us!"
"Yeah!" agreed one of the Rukis.
"One of them already has!" chimed in the Acara.
The Techo sat there a moment, taking all this in.
"Please." The JubJub looked up at him with wide eyes.
"Alright, just shut up." Dr_Death started to get up. "Just don't go all mushy on me."
The Pound pets cheered at that, and the Techo face-palmed, and tried to get his stuff packed as quickly as he could. He was going to head back to the Pound.
. . .
"Everybody, out!" Dr_Death shouted. The temporary Pound Directors were ushered out at the point of the Pound Uni's horn.
"And stay away!" she added.
With news of Dr_Death's return, all of the Pound pets who escaped returned, in a huge crowd around the Pound.
"Alright, I know some bad things happened, but because of that, all that were affected will have to go through the Pound Amnesia again. Don't worry. It's painless, and everything bad that happened will be forgotten," the Techo explained to the crowd.
"And, any households that want to keep the pets they took care of today should come over here!" the Pound Uni said. "We can make sure they are properly registered at the Adopt door!"
Simon was sitting with the family who had helped him so much.
"Can we keep him, Spyr?" Chirsha asked the Scorchio. Spyr looked at her sadly and shook her head.
"We're only allowed to have twenty pets per household. He would be twenty-one."
"It's alright," Simon said. "I won't remember it, anyway. The important part is that we saved the Pound."
"I'll miss you," Chirsha said, knocking him playfully with her horns. Simon nodded, since he couldn't say the same, and after one sad look back, joined the line of pets reentering the Pound. It had been a journey, but he had done it. He might not end up remembering, but someone would. It would be okay. He had saved the Pound, after all. Nothing bad would happen there again.
Simon was my first foster pet for the Prank, and the other Pound pets mentioned were also foster pets. Despite how I ended it, I do intend to adopt Simon, but I have to finish labbing a Pound pet before I do. He'll take up my Lab slot, but he's worth it.