"Please, owners, don't put your pets through the misery of the Lab Ray!" That
thought, taken from my home
page, was still bouncing around in my mind as the cool air fluttered
through my golden wings. I shivered, less from the cool breeze than from the
thought of the nightmarish last few months I'd had. Too many months of getting
zapped by the Lab Ray and changing sex, species, and colour sometimes on a daily
basis. Everything from a pretty Faerie Cybunny to a rotten mutant Kiko. I found
my hooves convulsively clenching themselves and mentally forced myself to calm
down. It was all over with now--we were done with the Lab Ray, the only problem
being that I hadn't had a chance to smash it into little bits. But I was back
to normal and was not going to change again....
It was Thursday morning as I walked into my office of MonoKeras, Private Investigations
for the first time that week. Did I say week? Make that month. Blchocobo was
there, handling things to the best of his ability. I made my deepest and most
sincere apologies for behaving like a jerk the past couple of months and leaving
him with my business while I went and did things that I'd rather not think about
now. He took it in his usual calm manner and with much more grace than I would
have in his position.
"Really, MonoKeras, I am the one who should be apologising. Your business
has suffered terribly since you left. I just haven't been able to keep it up."
"Considering I wasn't even here at the time, I'm in no position to blame you,"
I replied. "Anyhow, catch me up on exactly what's been happening."
The next few minutes consisted of blchocobo telling in more detail what he'd
already said. My business is the type that depends a lot on reputation. When
people are in trouble, they don't just trust anyone with their problem. Also,
I had several contacts that I had made. They were often in law enforcement positions
over half of Neopia and had worked with me in the past. They didn't hesitate
to refer others to me, or have me do contract work for them on some matters.
That part of the business had dried up almost completely, but I reassured blchocobo
that it wasn't his fault. He could've been the best in all Neopia and it wouldn't
have changed much. That sort of thing is done on a pet to pet basis, and he
wasn't me, period.
His shoulders were still slumped, and the nose tip of his mask was still pointing
to the floor. I clapped him on the shoulder. "Come on, don't worry about it.
You did your best and the fact that this place is even still open is more than
I deserved. There's nothing wrong that can't be set right in a few weeks."
"Maybe so," he finally admitted. "But I still feel like I let you down. What
do you think we can do?"
"Well the first thing you can do for me," I remarked rather dryly, "is get
up and let me sit in my chair again." I had to chuckle as he hastily vacated
his spot behind my desk. "And don't feel that way," I told him rather sharply
as he tried to apologise again. "I still owe you for keeping it warm for me--in
more ways than one." I winked.
I settled back into my chair, feeling it once again press on the usual pressure
points. It was almost like a massage, having that old familiar feeling back
again. I leaned back, sighed, and then wriggled with happiness. This was more
like it! An almost inaudible chuckle from blchocobo made me open my eyes again,
and I grinned a bit ruefully. "OK, so it might look silly, but it still feels
"I know. I'm truly glad to see you back, MonoKeras--in more ways than one."
"Glad in more ways than one? How so?"
"That, too, maybe, but I meant back in more ways than one. Here, and back
to your normal self physically as well as mentally."
"Ohhhh..." I looked away, partly from embarrassment, partly because I didn't
want a sincere expression of appreciation to turn into a trite cliché by discussing
it any further. It was then that I spotted the slightly opened drawer on my
desk. "Mia's Neggshells!" I cursed. "I totally forgot...."
Ignoring blchocobo's surprised response, I reached into the drawer and pulled
out a silvery tube. Holding it up to my ear, I listened carefully for the sizzling
sound that should have been inside it. It was so faint that I almost didn't
hear it. Cursing again with more dismay, I grabbed a bag of powders from the
same drawer and spilled it onto the desktop. I quickly mixed up a pile of phosphorus,
sodium chloride (more commonly known as salt), magnesium, and some other similar
chemicals in trace amounts. Holding my breath I unscrewed the tube and gently
tilted its contents onto the pile.
I almost cried when I saw the small sputtering ball of fire that was my PetPet
Sun Pegasus. He'd always been a baby fireball, but neglect and lack of feeding
had taken their toll on him and he was so much smaller... too small. Gently
cupping one hoof around him, I blew softly on him, hoping my magical aura would
help breathe a bit of life and interest back into him. He sat there on top of
his pile of food, and when my breath hit him he flickered in the fireball equivalent
of a hiccup. I could almost see his interest in life revive and the sizzling
grew louder as he ate his way into the salts below. Blchocobo watched as silently
as I as Sun Pegasus grew larger and rounder, gaining strength with every...
bite? (It's hard to say what he uses to eat when it just sort of burns.) I looked
into the tube and saw the red-orange powder in the bottom of it. I sighed a
bit glumly and then poured it on top of Sun. I don't know what the stuff is--I
think it's part of him--but whenever I find it in the tube it means he's not
feeling well at all. The powder disappeared when it hit the ball of flame and
Sun instantly deepened his colour and grew another fraction of an inch.
I let out a breath of relief and grinned as I swept the bags of food away
and stored them. Sun was rolling around the desktop now, burning up the last
bits of salts that he could find, and the danger was over. "Feeling better aren't
you, old boy," I said, and lifted him up on one hoof. I carefully tossed him
into the air, catching him with the other hoof and he quickly joined in the
game. I leaned back and laughed out loud as we turned him into a whirling, arcing
ball of light that bounced back and forth between my hooves. Leaning back a
bit more, I put my hind hooves up on top of my desktop, and two landing points
became four in a crazy dance that saw him bouncing about six different ways,
each bounce decided on a split second whim of his or mine.
A low whistle reminded me that we had an audience. "I've never seen you do
that before, MonoKeras. I didn't know it could be done!"
I shrugged. (No mean feat when your arms are busy juggling fireball.) "I don't
do it very often. He's normally in a feistier mood, and less likely to want
to play. I think his little starvation diet improved his temper!"
"I didn't dare open that tube."
"Good! He probably would've burned you on contact. Sorry, but he's as much
weapon as pet." As I said that, the thought sobered me slightly. Still, I was
in too good a mood to let that spoil my day.
I carefully dropped Sun Pegasus back onto the desktop and reached into another
desk drawer. I brought out some more bags of powder. Magical powder this time.
There were six different colours, one for each realm of magic, and I used a
bit of all six to make a large (and regrettably sloppy) mandala in the middle
of my desk. Quickly energising it, I did a non-directional magical spying trick.
It was the magical equivalent to popping your baby blues open in the morning
and taking your first peep at a brand new day.
The colours sparkled and a multicoloured cloud welled up from the centre of
the design, quickly covering that area of the desktop in a roiling ball of coloured
fog. Sun Pegasus popped and hissed, wanting in on the act, but I didn't dare
let his aura mess with this and ignored him. The magical aura of the environment
found its expression in the patterns that were forming and reforming. I casually
flicked energy this way and that, gently prying out various parts of the data
that were pouring into my creation. Things seemed to be humming along just fine.
I saw new games and happenings since I'd taken my leave of the regular social
life in Neopia.
I was about ready to call it quits, but one last tiny flick managed to connect
with something. My softly bubbling ball suddenly gained direction and movement--lots
of movement. It stayed roughly in one place, but a magical wind was suddenly
blowing through the room. Sun Pegasus went skittering off the desk, bouncing
across the floor, and wound up spitting angrily in a corner. I jerked my hooves
back as if they'd been stung while blchocobo's eyes widened behind his desert
"How'd you do that??"
"I didn--" I cut my reply short just in time. Taking a deep breath, I looked
at blchocobo. "Blchocobo, brother mine, I'm afraid I have to ask you to leave.
I've got some serious business to tend to here."
"Of course. I'll see you later... at home this evening, maybe."
"Thanks." I stared back down at the magical mess still boiling on my desk
as the door closed behind him. At least I'd shut my mouth in time and hadn't
told him I'd not had a thing to do with that gale--a gale which was now dying
to fitful gusts before fading altogether as I coaxed Sun Pegasus out of his
I stared as the cloud died down to a spark which snapped its death into a
tiny cloud of smoke that dissipated into the room, leaving behind the scattered
remains of my mandala. Over the next half hour, I tried every trick I knew or
could study up. Various sorts of sand patterns mixed with rods of arcane woods
and metals, and my 'crying glasses' were put to the test. I even tried to use
both at once in a sort of magical binocular vision. No use. The best I got was
a pale, nearly transparent cloud that contained hard, gemlike glitters of all
sorts of colour
I finally gave up and sat staring at Sun Pegasus. He stared back at me with
something of the same mixture of exhaustion and apprehension. I didn't know
much more than when I'd started, but several things were clear. My magical abilities
had suffered through lack of use, the Lab Ray, and whatever else had happened
to me over the last few months. And although I didn't know exactly what it was,
I knew there was something out there. I knew that it was big. It was powerful.
It looked to be very angry. And it was going to move in the near future.
A sudden surge of nausea hit me. I grabbed Sun Pegasus as we both swayed in
a gust of malevolent magic. When it was over, the remains of my latest experiment
had been turned into a set of parallel lines. I tried to convince my stomach
to settle down as I mentally added one more note to our mysterious threat. It
was somewhere in the north.
To be continued...