Stand behind yer sheriff Circulation: 155,374,162 Issue: 219 | 9th day of Celebrating, Y7
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Fancy Sodas are for Smart Pets

by battlesunn


Roxy squinted in a vain attempt to read the blackboard from her seat at the back of the class. It wouldn't have been nearly as difficult a task if her teacher hadn't used such a pale yellow shade of chalk, or if he had made his printing a tad larger, but then, it also wouldn't have been a very difficult task if her eyes were better. There was no sense in wishing that the conditions of her classroom, or her eyes, were more agreeable, because she hadn't the power to change anything.

    The snowy-white Ixi sighed and gazed despairingly at her notes. The sentences chopped and incomplete, like the jumbled letters of cheap storefront signs.

    In the year something-something a yellow something discovered upon something that there were no something to be something in the something.

    The "somethings" were the bits she couldn't decipher.

    Roxy was just about to give up and ask to copy someone else's notes after class when a small wad of paper struck her in the side of the head. The Ixi stifled a small cry and flicked her gaze to the left, the direction that the missile had originated from.

    She caught, out of the corner of her eye, a glance of her best friend, Emily the Kyrii. She was grinning, her teeth a gleaming white against the rusty red hue of her fur. Roxy clenched her teeth.

    "What?" she mouthed irritably. Emily continued to grin, and jabbed a paw towards the little ball of paper that had bounced off Roxy's head to land on the floor.

    "Read it!" the Kyrii hissed.

    Roxy chanced a quick glance at the teacher, and, seeing that a Lupe who had stuffed a pencil up his nose was holding his attention, swiftly ducked down and retrieved the wadded-up paper.

    The Ixi held the paper in her lap, out of the teacher's sight, and unfolded it, taking especial care to smooth out the many creases. Roxy then had nearly as much trouble reading Emily's handwriting at a distance of five inches as she did reading the teacher's at a distance of five feet. It read:

    They announced the theme for the Winter Gala! It's Neopian Faerie tales.

    The note was simple and to the point, which was pointless, as the Winter Gala was an exclusive engagement from which Roxy and Emily were excluded, along with the rest of the Neoschool's non-accelerated population. Roxy rolled her eyes and crumpled the note in her hooves before stuffing it quickly into her desk.

    Every Winter their Neoschool held a dinner-dance for the students in the "enriched" program, or as Emily put it, the, "our owners were rich us enough to buy us the titles of gifted" students. It was an exclusive event, and carefully monitored by security guards who knew the name and face of every student in the enriched program, which Roxy and Emily were not.

    Most of the regular students, the ones not invited, were grudgingly submissive to the rules. The gala was rumored to be an incredible event, but what use was it to pine over the attainable? Emily saw matters in a different light. As far as she was concerned, the gala ought to have been open to all the students, not just the especially intelligent ones. Thus, each year the Kyrii devised a new scheme to sneak into the party-and had been so far unsuccessful.

    Usually the failure was related to the gala's theme. When the motif was "Maraquan Magic", Emily attempted to bypass the guards by hiding in a large, decorative fish tank. Roxy liked to imagine that her friend's lack of foresight, (the Kyrii had neglected to factor in the breathing difficulties of being underwater), was one of the reasons that she was not in the accelerated program.

    Roxy was reluctant to encourage Emily's pursuit of admittance to the gala, and she herself didn't care all that much about attending. She found the entire concept of a costume party to be superfluous and little more than and excuse to get rid of expired cafeteria food, yet, even so, she found herself aiding Emily in the Kyrii's exploits year after year.

    The Ixi resolutely set her gaze forward and concentrated on the teacher. I'm not going to help her this year, I'm not going to help her this year… she repeated, a steady mantra. To her left, Roxy could hear the sounds of Emily hissing in a bid for her attention.

     "Roxy!" she whispered. The Ixi ignored her.

     "Roooooxeeeee," the Kyrii repeated. Roxy bit her lip.

     "What?" she mumbled out of the corner of her mouth.

     "Did you read my note?"

     "No, I just admired the symmetry of your printing and then stowed it in my desk to enjoy with my lunch."

     "I wouldn't do that, the pencil's got lead in it."

     "I read it!"

     "Good! So, whaddya think? Faerie tales is a good theme, huh? We could easily get in-we just have to hide under some princess's bustle."


     "Ah, quiet!" Emily snapped rigidly to attention, staring at their teacher. "He's looking our way. We'll talk more at lunch."

    The Kyrii closed her mouth and studiously pretended to take notes. Roxy turned away and nervously scratched her horns.

    This time, she thought. This time, I won't help her. I'll just say what I think; that it's a terrible idea and that it could get us both expelled. We'll go to the Marketplace and buy some chocolate instead. She likes chocolate. Yeah. That'll work. The Ixi furrowed her brow pensively. I like chocolate. Darn, now I want some. Ah well, I guess the paper'll have to do.

    Roxy reached into her desk and retrieved Emily's note, and munched on it contentedly until the lunch bell rang.

    Emily accosted her friend the second they exited the classroom. The Kyrii grabbed Roxy around the shoulders and ducked into a vacant bathroom, her eyes darting about like a pair of nervous Beekadoodles. Roxy struggled, and, after a quick jab with her horns, managed to free herself from Emily's grasp.

    "Why are we in here?" the Ixi demanded. Emily snorted.

    "Because the hallways are clogged with up talking plebeians, that's why."

    "Speak normally!"

    "Because the pets from the cash club might hear my diabolical scheme."

    "Ah." Roxy shifted uncomfortably. "Yes. About that. Um, I don't think that we should crash the Gala."

    Emily was unfazed. "Good thing I do the thinking, then," she replied. "Now, enough with the banter, Rox. Let's start planning this thing. I was thinking--"

    "No, I mean I really, really, don't want to do this."

    "You'll change your mind after you hear my idea. Ahem. As I was saying-"

    "For Fyora's sake, Emily, why do you want to go so badly? It's probably boring; I mean, it's filled with people who you hate! The up talking plebeians! You hate them. Why would you want to spend an evening kvetching with them?"

    Emily sighed and shook her head. "Ah, Rox. You never see the principle of these things. It's not about hanging out with the richies. It's about defying the conventions of this dumb school. Plus, we have nothing else to do. And they serve that fancy soda there, you know, the kind with flavors that are called Perfectly Peach and Watermelon Enchantment Sunset."

    "That's a silly reason."

    "And what are you planning on doing on that cold, winter night?"

    "We could go look at festive decorations in the Marketplace…"

     "That involves walking. And loitering, which isn't smiled upon by most store owners."

    "And crashing the gala is just good old fashioned trespassing."

    "Please come."

    Roxy fell silent. Emily rarely made a direct entreaty; she usually preferred to wheel and deal, and to convince the other person that they genuinely wanted to agree to whatever she was proposing, but now the Kyrii was just a few steps away from begging. She stared imploringly at Roxy, her eyes wide and pleading.

    "Please Roxy?" she asked. "It'll be fun. We'll rack up a few more stories to bring up at each other's birthday parties."

    The Ixi massaged her temples. "Fine," she at last relented. "The stories have to cast me in a favorable light, okay?"

    Emily grinned. "Done!" The Kyrii clasped her paws and bounced on the balls of her feet in excitement.

    "Okay, here's what I was thinking. I came up with this on the way to the bathroom, by the way," she said.

    "What is it?" Roxy asked, doing her best to summon some enthusiasm.

    "We'll go as the Masked Wocky and his Banded Sidekick!"

    "Oh? Which Faerie Tale are they from?"

    "The Masked Wocky and His Banded Sidekick, duh." Emily massaged her chin thoughtfully. "Would you rather be the Masked Wocky or his Banded Sidekick? It's your choice; I'm good either way."

    Roxy sighed. "Which species is the Banded Sidekick? It sounds appropriate."


    "Well, that's close enough," the Ixi said. "I'll be the sidekick."

    "Great! Okay, the costumes will be easy enough. We just need some masks…"

    "That's all? Won't the guards recognize us?" Roxy interjected skeptically. Emily chuckled.

    "That's the beauty of it! There's a white Ixi and a, well, not a red one, but a brown Kyrii who both belong to the special program but they can't go to the Gala because they're sick."

    "Oh, that's convenient. What did you do, serve them rotten omelette?"

    "Ah, cafeteria duty. It is both my enemy and my friend," Emily said wistfully.

    "Alright, fine, so the guards will see a white Ixi and a Kyrii of a vaguely burgundy hue wearing masks. And they won't ask us to take them off?"

    "Of course not. They aren't that anal, Roxy. And if they do, then we'll just improvise something." Emily started towards the door.

    "Enough chitchat. Come on, Rox, we need to get some stuff to make masks. And a couple of hats, I think."

    Emily led Roxy through the crowded hallways of the Neoschool and down into the basement, where the always empty sewing room was located. Hardly anyone took sewing; it was regarded by many to be the most mind-numbing elective that the school had to offer, a belief furthered by the monotonous drone of the class's instructor. Plus, the basement was cold, and who likes that?

    The two crept into the dimly lit classroom, the artificial light casting distorted shadows of monstrous spindles and needles onto the pale green walls. Emily quickly found what she was looking for: two medium-sized swaths of cloth, one dark blue and the other a rich purple. She then grabbed a pair of scissors off the teacher's dust-covered desk and set to work constructing the pair of masks. Roxy watched with interest.

    "How'd you know about all this stuff?" she asked. Emily kept her eyes on her work.

    "I got shuffled into the textiles course last year. Sculpture was full, unfortunately. I spent ten moths slaving over a sock, and then when I was finished, my Puppyblew tore it up."

    "Oh. Sorry," the Ixi said.

    "Okay, done!" Emily proclaimed. She presented the finished masks to Roxy.

    "These are our costumes?" she asked doubtfully. The masks were nice and all, but they didn't look as though they would cover more than the eyes and a bit of the forehead. "Are you absolutely sure we won't be found out?" the Ixi probed.

    "YES!" Emily yelled. "Don't question my genius! Anyway, we'll wear some capes or something as well. It'll be great; we may even win best costume."

    "Oh yeah, sure. The two pets with the masks and capes win best costume," Roxy said as she rolled her eyes. Emily shrugged.

    "We'll see."


    The Gala was jam-packed with students, all of them milling about the gymnasium, swigging expensive soda pop and admiring each other's Faerie costumes, for that was what everyone else seemed to have dressed up as. The females, anyway. The male pets had all slapped on feathered hats and robes, and toted wooden swords from their belts. Princes and Faeries.

    Roxy was having a hard time enjoying herself. She and Emily had snuck by the security guards with little trouble, but the Ixi could not relax for fear that someone would point them out, and scream, "Hey! What are those two un-gifted pets doing here?"

    She sighed and toyed nervously with the lid of her untouched soda. Emily, who was standing beside her, sniggered and nudged the Ixi in the side.

    "Can you believe it, Rox? This is so cool!" she gushed. Roxy snorted.

    "It's a blast. How's your fancy soda?" she said dryly.

    "It tastes like magic!" The Kyrii glanced at the bottle's label and corrected herself. "Minty Mango Magic, to be exact. Ooh-check out that Faerie outfit! She's wearing red shoes, that's different."

    Roxy sighed again. "We should've gone to the Chocolate Factory," she lamented.

    Suddenly, the room grew quiet. All eyes focused on the main stage, where the band had conspicuously ceased to play. Roxy paled-an impressive feat for a white Ixi.

    "They're found us out! We're going to be expelled!" she moaned. Emily chuckled.

    "Don't be silly. They're just about to announce the winners of the best costume contest."

    Roxy glanced back at the stage and saw that her friend was correct; the principal of the Neoschool had taken place on the stage and was grasping a large envelope, on which the words, "Winners," was written. The Ixi calmed down slightly, feeling slightly curious as to which Faerie outfit had been deemed the best.

    The principal, a yellow Flotsam, cleared his throat and smoothed out the envelope.

    "Attention, everyone! I have here the names of this year's prizewinners!" He slowly opened the envelope and slid out the paper. "I shall now read them!"

    "Oh boy, Rox, I hope we win," Emily murmured. Roxy shuddered.

    "We'd better not-"

    "The winners of this year's prize are the two pets who came as the Masked Wocky and his Banded Sidekick! You guys came as my favorite Faerie Tale characters; congratulations!"

    "WHAT?" Roxy screeched, shortly before Emily grabbed her by the hoof and dragged her forcibly through the crowd and onto the stage. Emily smoothed down her rusty-red mane and grinned.

    "We won!" she crowed triumphantly.

    "We won?" Roxy said in disbelief. The principal nodded.

    "You won! Now, take off your masks so we can see you guys!"

    "Uh…" Emily bent down and hissed in Roxy's ear, "What do I say?"

    "I don't know! Think of something smart!"

    "Kay." Emily turned to the principal. "I can't! They're glued to our faces."


    "Emily!" Roxy growled. Emily gulped.

    "Well, sorry. Um, never mind. We, uh, can't because…" She thought for a moment before brightening. "We really ARE the Masked Wocky and his Banded Sidekick! Haha, beware!" The principal frowned, puzzled.

    "Who the heck are you? Do you guys even go here?"

    "The Masked Wocky goes to no Neoschool-"

    Roxy cut Emily off. "We'll just leave now, thanks."

    Emily frowned. "Fine. But I'm taking my soda."

    The Kyrii retained a vicegrip on her bottle of soda pop as both she and Roxy were firmly escorted from the gymnasium by two beefy security guards. The guards hauled them to the massive door of the Neoschool, kicked it open, and tossed the Ixi and the Kyrii out into the chilly winter evening. Emily massaged her shoulders.

    "If I'm sore tomorrow, I'm suing the Neoschool!" she threatened the retreating backs of the guards. The Kyrii then slumped down on the grass and mournfully nursed the last few drops of her soda.

    "Well, that stunk," she said. Roxy shrugged.

    "It could've been worse, Emily. Besides, you got to see the Gala, and you got to see what all the smart pets do when they party. They just kind of stand there and sway in place."

    "Heh, that is true, I suppose. And the music was lousy, anyway." She propped herself up on her elbows. "So what should we do now? It's still pretty early."

    Roxy caught a far-off whiff of hot apple cider, chocolate and peppermint. "Are you up for some more sugar?" the Ixi proposed wryly. Emily brightened.

    "Well, obviously! Come on, Rox, I've got a few Neopoints in my pocket-let's go buy candy canes and cocoa!"

    And so the two friends gorged themselves on treats until they felt sick and their teeth rotted down to nothing.

The End

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