PPLease Be Kind To Petpets: Part One
Amity the Blue Kacheek rubbed his paws together nervously. Today was his first day as director of the PPL and he was determined to make the most of it. First order of business, he thought to himself, getting to know my new staff.
“Office meeting!” Amity called to the line of cubicles outside his office door. “Conference room now!”
A group of seven or so workers obediently trudged into the conference room, led by a red Ixi, who Amity vaguely recalled as his personal assistant. What was her name again? Opal…Sapphire…
“Ruby, my name’s Ruby.” The Ixi said impatiently, conscious of her boss’s not so covert stare. Amity gaped at her. “I could see you weren’t paying attention the first time I introduced myself; I figured you might need a refresher.”
“Yeah, right, uh sorry.” Amity replied. He shook his head a little to clear it. You gotta focus Amity, this job is your big chance.
“The meeting, Amity?” Ruby hissed at him.
The Kacheek, glanced around, where his group of workers were assembled around the conference table, looking at him expectantly.
“Right, well it’s high time we start this! “ Amity said, clapping his paws together. “I’m Amity, the new director, and I want to say that I plan to make big changes around here. Changes that will really help petpets.” He paused, giving some time for his inspirational call to action to sink in.
“Finally!” an electric tonu boomed from the right-hand side of the table. “ I’ve been sayin’ that grey feepits have been looked over too many times now. Am I right?!” The tonu looked around the table for support. A few neopets shrugged dispassionately, and Ruby rolled her eyes. But Amity smiled widely.
“This is the kind of dedication I like to see!” Amity praised. “What’s your name, and can you tell me more of what you noticed about the grey feepits?”
“Ralph,” the tonu said, with a self-satisfied grin on his face. “And thank you boss for taking the grey feepits and me seriously. Does this mean they’ll be the winners of this week’s PPL award?”
“What? The PPL award? No…I’m talking real change, like actually helping petpets” Blank looks met Amity all around the conference room. “For example, the Warf Rescue Team is way underfunded, and has a real membership issue. There are still far too many Kadoaties up trees and away from owners!”
“But the PPL award does help petpets, it encourages longer relationships between petpet and owner.” A white Wocky interjected helpfully, standing up a little in her chair. “I’ve studied it.”
“But that award is only given out once a week! Surely we can spend some significant time on other things.” Amity said. He gazed around the group beseechingly.
Murmurs rose in the group.
“Well, there are a lot of choices.”
“Remember how much grief we got for repeating Blibbles? This is serious stuff!”
“I still think that grey feepits…”
“Does he know how many petpets there are in Neopia?”
“Stop!” Amity said with finality. He gave the neopets his best hard look. “To be quite honest, I don’t care that much about the PPL award. That’s not why we’re here.”
Gasps came from all around the table, except for Ruby, who rolled her eyes again and muttered “I knew this one would be a nutter.”
Amity ignored all of this, rising from his seat to pace around the room. “As my first order of business, I’m assembling an official PPL field team. We have an esteemed duty to protect petpets who are unable to stand up for themselves, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do. I pick you Ralph,” Amity gestured, “and you,” he pointed at the white Wocky who spoke up earlier, “and you and you.” He said, indicating a blue Zafara and speckled Pteri respectively. “The rest of you , pick a petpet for the PPL award. Seriously, don’t spend too much time on it. Pick a Robot Noil or an Island Dogglefox or something.”
“But the Robot Noil was already picked for the PPL,” whined the Pteri Amity had selected to accompany him. “And Dogglefoxes can’t be painted Island, although that is an interesting color suggestion.”
Amity glared at him, slightly flustered “You know, on second thought, you can stay here and help with the award selection. The rest of you, let’s go. I think it’s time we pay Samrin the Sheppard a visit, his herding practices are getting on the extreme side.”-----------------
20 minutes later, the small PPL team was strolling into Samrin’s fields, where Samrin was just scooping up a stray Angelpus from the sharp teeth of an angry looking lupe.
“Samrin!” Amity’s Wocky colleague called. “Could you come here a minute, we need to talk to you!”
After a quick glance around to make sure all his petpets were indeed safe, Samrin meandered over to where the group was standing. “What seems to be the problem, folks?” he drawled.
“I am Agent January, and these are Agents Amity, Ralph , and Horatia,” the wocky said decisively. “We are here on behalf of the Petpet Protection League!”
“And…why would that be?” Samrin asked, brow furrowed. “I didn’t know the PPL made house calls.”
“Umm, I’m not sure exactly, Amity?” January said, her pompous air deflating a bit as she turned to Amity for support. “Why are we here again?”
Amity sighed. His inexperienced team really should have left the talking to him. “We are here, Samrin, because your herding is getting ridiculous! Just how many petpets have you lost in the past month?”
“21,343,223” Horatia supplied. Amity turned around to glance at the Zafara, genuinely surprised.
Horatia just shrugged. “Who do you think does all the counting of petpet ages and all for the PPL award every week? What can I say, I’m a numbers pet.”
“Well, clearly that’s far too many!” Amity said, turning back to Samrin. “ I should have this entire farm shut down, but luckily for you, I’m a nice Kacheek. I’ve had my personal assistant call for some fence -repair pets to come by this place in about an hour or so; it’s time that the holes in your fence get patched up. Hopefully, this will bring an end to all the petpet consumption that goes on around here.”
Samrin looked rather nonplussed, but was unable put up much of an argument; his petpets had gotten lose again. A little blue Noil pranced happily to the far end of the yard, seemingly unaware of the quickly approaching Balthazar.
“Love to stay and chat with y’all, but I have a job to do,” Samrin said, and scampered off to catch his stray Noil.
“We have a job to do as well,” Amity said as the team packed up and prepared to leave the countryside. “There are many more petpets in danger that we need to help.”
Ralph and Horatia groaned quietly. “Haven’t we done enough saving for one morning?” Ralph mumbled to Horatia, who hid her snickers behind a paw.
Missing this whispered exchange, January nodded sagely at Amity. “Where to next then?” she asked brightly. Unlike most of the others on the team, she seemed to be enjoying this newfound responsibility.
“It’s going to be a bit of a hike, but we’re headed to the Virtupets Station.” Amity told her. “But I’m telling you, it will be well worth the time.”-----------------
Around a half an hour into the trip to Virturpets Station, the small group walked through the sunny, flowering fields of Merridell. Not a cloud was in the sky, but Amity glared up at the ever-looming shadow of Turmoculus as if it were a personal affront.
“I have an idea,” said January brightly, breaking the long silence of the journey. “We need to make this more fun by coming up with a team name!”
“Isn’t the PPL name good enough for you?” huffed Ralph. The extended hike seemed to have put the Tonu in a sour mood. “And I know yours and Amity’s ideas of fun, and I want no parts of it.”
At this, Amity looked down at his feet despondently, but January seemed unfazed. Her stride became more of a skip, interrupted only when she stopped to smell the flowers.
“Why do I get the impression that you already have an idea, January?” Horatia said in a bored monotone.
“I do, I do!” January exclaimed. “We can be the Petpet Production League Euphemism And Safety Experts, or PPLEASE for short!” She looked around proudly at the other pets, seeking their approval.
“Technically in acronyms, for small word like ‘and’, you don’t capitalize the ‘A’” Horatia interjected. “So it would really be ‘PPLESE’”.
“But that’s not nearly as fun!” January said, her smile sinking slightly. “ I like how it kinda makes a word.”
Amity looked rather startled. “I think there’s a bigger issue here. January, do you even know what a Euphemism is? In this contex-“
“Nope!” January interrupted cheerily. “But it does sound big and important!”
“Alright then, PPLEASE it is,” Amity said, making a mental note to search for alternate ‘E’ words when he returned to the office. “I like your team spirit, January.”
“And I’d like a nap.” Ralph grumbled. Amity glared at the Tonu, who then wisely decided to keep his comments to himself for the rest of the journey. -----------------
Ralph finally broke his silence as the group entered the Virtupet Space Station “When you said field team Amity, I didn’t know there would be this much hiking involved. I think I’d rather stay in my office.” Ralph wheezed, slightly out of breath. “And maybe influence the PPL award selection to be the RIGHT petpet this time.”
“Sssh, Ralph.” The rebuke came not from Amity but from Horatia, who was looking around interestedly for the first time since the team set out. “Where are we, I’ve never been this far into the Virtupet Space Station. Listen, it sounds like a sporting event!”
Horatia was right; the atmosphere felt positively festive, and was packed with neopets. “Excuse me,” said a large Lupe gruffly, as he pushed past Amity while balancing an Intergalactic Ice Cream Cone and a large Galactic Space Punch. Amity read the letters emblazoned on the Lupe’s shirt as he passed: FFC. On closer inspection, everyone seemed to be wearing FFC shirts, from the pets waiting in the long line outside the Grundo’s Café, to the thick crowd that was slowly moving its way toward a large raised platform ahead. Both the platform, and the large cage hanging above it, were currently empty.
January tapped a Gnorbu in the crowd on the shoulder. “I like your shirt,” she said cheerily. “What are the letters ‘FFC’ for?”
The Gnorbu looked at her in slight disbelief. “Are you new here? They stand for ‘Florg Fan Club’, of course.” The Gnorbu wandered off through the mass of pets sarcastically muttering “Geez, the feeding season’s only been going on for about a MONTH.”
The PPL team finally jostled their way to the front of the crowd, close enough to put a paw on the platform. “Nice view,” Horatia commented appreciatively. “Amity, are we going to stay and watch this? Whatever this is?’
“Oh, we are going to do a lot more than watch Florg.” Amity said grimly. “We are going to end his barbaric ‘game’ for good.”
“Every time something potentially fun comes around, you can count on Amity to ruin it,” Ralph whispered to Horatia, who look disappointed.
Suddenly there was a crackle, and a loud voice was projected to the arena “Gooooood afternoon ladies and gentleman!“ it said to the crowd. The crowd screamed its approval.
“Are you ready to….EAT?” the announcer called.
“YES!!” the fans cheered back.
“Alllllrighty then, I give you… the hungriest, the baddest, biggest mutant chia there’s ever been….FLOOOORG.”
An immense Mutant Chia tottered on to the platform, waving its paw to the crowd. “FLORG.” He announced in a monotone, as if to introduce himself. “FLORG HUNGRY.”
The PPl had some work to do.
To be continued…