Deception: A Report Within a Report
Also by acrossthemultiverse
Ah, the fabulous Neopian Times Headquarters. I have safely stationed myself outside the east window on the first floor. Today will be the day I make history and publish my studies on the peculiar habits of Weewoos. Finally I can receive claim in the academic world (no thanks to Hal). Ahem, back to my report.
I spy the legendary white Weewoo within the office space. It is surrounded by its friends, a pink Weewoo and a pirate Weewoo. They seem to be communicating in a mysterious way. As a dedicated journalist, I will do my best to try to translate their conversations.
Today I made my selection. She is the cheery, optimistic type: a young yellow Kacheek, journalist-in-training. But I didn't choose her for her bright spirit. I saw something in her eye: something lurking, something dark. As a Weewoo (a rare White Weewoo at that), I don't receive the acclaim I deserve for my devoted psychological research. But this might be my break. While this journalist thinks she studies me, I could study her. This would be the epitome of research, of analysis. The details haven't solidified yet, but they will. They always have for me.
11:15 AM –
The noon sun is beating on my head like a Baby Fireball—which are odd petpets, really. Contrary to popular belief, it is hard being a journalist. I have to deal with the constant nagging of interviewees, broken pens, and of course, writer's block. The White Weewoo will make a great cover story. It is about time I get a raise anyhow, as this reporter takes note of her sad Bagel and Egg Sandwich for lunch.
At first my friend Chip was reluctant to get involved in one of my research trials, but I think I swayed his opinion when I told him that there will be neocrackers involved. (As a side note to my dedicated readers, I should tell you that there will not be any neocrackers involved, but that if you ever wish to strike a deal with a Pirate Weewoo, bring up the topic of neocrackers. Always.)
As the journalist "inconspicuously" watches us from her perch in front of the building, I hop around with my friend. We chirp and sing and otherwise behave as a journalist would expect us to. Out of the corner of my eye, I note that she seems almost wistful as she watched me enjoy my friend's company. I store this fact away in my brain. Who knows? Anything could be important.
The legendary white Weewoo is making motions and communicating with his friend, the Pirate Weewoo I mentioned earlier. I analyze their interaction carefully and have managed to take a photo stealthily, as a true journalist would; neither petpet noticed. I really am getting better at this.
Their bright chirping reminds me of the times Hal and I would debate the properties of magic at the Neopian Bazaar. Those were the days. Hal had a stubborn mind and refused to believe in my theory that all Neopian creatures contain magical elements. What a silly Grarrl he was! How else does Kauvara make those potions, then? Everyone knows that magic is neither created nor destroyed.
Ah, yes, back to the Weewoos. From their interaction, I have concluded they are talking about magic... and friendship. Why else would they seem so jolly?
Chip is getting bored of pretending to have a deep, lengthy conversation. He never was into acting. What is it with pirate petpets? They like wearing those ridiculous eye patches even when away from sea, yet they don't like acting for the sake of important, groundbreaking research? Typical, very typical. At least my other colleague, Samantha, is willing to help. I must thank her later, even though I still think she should paint herself from blue to shadow. (Samantha the Shadow Weewoo sounds more mysterious, don't you agree?)
The journalist took a not-so-covert snapshot of me and Chip. These journalists sure need better training; they're acting more like the darn paparazzi who stake out the bushes in front of the Neopian Times Headquarters. I wonder what made this Kacheek want to be a journalist.
I suppose I haven't always wanted to become a journalist. The thought occurred to me only last month, after a certain science project disaster at the DSNCSS (Dr. Sloth's Neopian Convention for Science and Space). Hal and I had entered the convention together. Dr. Frank Sloth himself was there. You can imagine the chaos that ensued—from the screaming fans asking for his autograph to the anti-Sloth protest group outside the building.
Then the incident happened. Sloth came over to our little table and spoke with us. He was impressed with our project ("The Effects of Magic on Boris, Featuring Transmogrification Potions"). He then offered us a job in his place as researchers. Unfortunately, the catch was ...
Oh wait, I see the Weewoos moving again. The blue Weewoo is handing a piece of chocolate chip cookie to the white Weewoo. How adorable. What an innocent and mundane world Weewoos must live in, with nothing to do all day but daydream?
Chip and I are taking a much-needed recess. Pretending to enjoy yourself is honestly quite a bore. Even if "having fun" is rewarding in the long run, it seems that the process to achieve "fun" is more trouble than it is worth.
We sat in a small room branching off the main lobby. Thankfully, Samantha had thought to pack watermelon sorbet and chocolate chip cookie. I don't know where these supposed scientists got the idea that Weewoos prefer to eat bugs. Weewoos have taste buds too! ...Even if our sense of taste is statistically one-tenth as sensitive as the average Acara's. That doesn't mean that we can't enjoy a good watermelon sorbet and delicious cookies.
More on topic, however, is the journalist's behavior towards us. Every time I interact with my friends, whether I brush against her or call out to her, the journalist seems to shiver. Repressed memories? I doubt it. The slight furrow of her brow, the lightly pursed lips – they all point to fully conscious, albeit unpleasant, memories.
I mentioned to Samantha and Chip that we needed to find out what the journalist was writing in her notebook, and they mentioned to me that I should do it myself, you lazy lout.
My legs have cramps from sitting in the bushes for more than an hour. And here I thought Kacheeks were supposed to have strong legs.
Ah, the teamwork these Weewoos show reminds me of that fateful day at the DSNCSS. Yes, Dr. Sloth approached our project and congratulated us, but the catch was he could only hire one of us. I had expected Hal to refuse and say, "Sorry, we both worked hard on this project equally so we both go or both stay." Instead, to my chagrin, he immediately did a weird Kacheek dance and squealed like a toddler, "I'm up for it!" And like that, he received full credit for half the effort.
The notebook! Ah – the notebook. It certainly wasn't easy to obtain it, as I lacked the assistance of my otherwise faithful companion. Why didn't she help me? Something about morals, or maybe it was privacy. I didn't hear what she said entirely. Regardless, I conducted the heist by myself.
And what a heist it was. Daring, daunting, heroic, painfully valiant – all adjectives I myself have used to describe the venture. All in the name of furthering psychiatric research, may I add. In order for poetic justice to be served, I have composed the following (dare I say it) masterpiece of what mischief I carried out:
Even as the sun hung placid in the heavy air, I toiled on. For the object of my desire, while not overly fanciful, still loomed a behemoth in my mind. Upon the rest of opponent abhorred/I sprung forth, sans shield, sans sword/My claws found grip, my heart now soared!/From within my soul played a triumphant chord!
For those of you unlearned in the subject of true beauty, I will summarize my triumph. I try to appeal to every demographic of readers. In simpler terms, I snatched the journalist's notebook when she wasn't looking.
I'm scribbling this down fiercely on my emergency notepad for situations such as these—I never thought I'd have to use it, though.
What in Sloth's name just happened?!
It seems while this reporter was musing about the dreadful DSNCSS, one of the white Weewoos flew above and—and snatched my notebook! Could it be? Could it be that I had stumbled upon the secrets of the legendary white Weewoo, and they refuse to let me retell the tale? Could it be it is all a Neopian conspiracy?
Wait, what if the DSNCSS was a conspiracy? What if Dr. Frank Sloth, the hero to all scientists (and ex-scientists) is really as evil as they say? Could Hal be in trouble? The pitiful Grarrl—although I am still angry at him for stealing my idea and leaving me to live the sad lonely life of a journalist.
Time to break my cover. I'm heading inside the headquarters to retrieve that notebook.
To quote myself, "Sometimes even the best kept secrets can be uncovered by stealing a diary." As I pored over the pages, I noticed an emerging trend. This socioeconomically and emotionally poor journalist is facing an inner conflict that I can describe only as "riveting." Excuse me for reveling in the misfortunes of others – I do have to derive some degree of pleasure from my job.
Should the journalist have spoken up and taken the job in place of her friend? An argument could be made in either direction. For the sake of friendship, I would lean towards a third option, a hidden option. Perhaps, working together, they should have turned down this menace of a Doctor? Who's to say.
I feel as though it is my duty as a scientist to point out a glaring mistake in her observations. Parts of the notebook raise an observation of some sort of "magic" substance existing in all Neopian life forms. Keep in mind that a Kacheek wrote these notes. The idea in itself is laughable. Only the Weewoos are privy to such sensitive information, anyway.
As I read through these pages, a disturbing thought infects my mind. The journalist wrote about friendship, loyalty, respect. (On a completely unrelated note, where did that Samantha go?)
Oh! The door has swung open, and the journalist is marching towards me, a determined expression set on her face, as hard and as cold as an icy river. But I'm in no position to be poetic – she looks like she means business!
Let me catch my breath as I write down the remarkable events that just happened.
The white Weewoo is no innocent creature. It knew I was coming for the notebook, and it took my notebook with definite intentions. I had chased after it, but my Kacheek legs were no match for the agile wings of the Weewoo. It flew into a small room through a square hole at the top of the door, a height and size only small petpets can reach.
After pounding furiously at the door for fifteen seconds, I suddenly had an unusual thought. Locked doors, empty corridors—surely this was a sign of Dr. Sloth and Hal's current predicament.
Weirdly, all previous thoughts about fame and glory disappeared afterwards (much like how the Weewoo disappeared with my precious notebook). I suddenly got an urge to mail for Hal right away. It is fortunate I managed to keep the address of his Virtupets Station unit. Yes, what have I been thinking, chasing after legendary white Weewoos while Hal was in trouble?
I am sitting outside the Post Office right now as I write. I still do not understand the sudden change that overcame me. Perhaps my theory on magic was not far off after all.
I am no fool. I know how my peers perceive me. They think of me as an arrogant egotist who cares only for his reputation. This observation of my habits is not far off, but it fails to include an important truth. I care for one other being. And she is currently not reciprocating the feeling. As a psychologist, I feel that it is necessary to divulge this to my readers. I can't let something as mundane as feelings cloud my judgment.
In any case, it is still my duty to recount my research. The journalist responded as expected to the theft of her notebook. She was positively hysterical when she stormed into the lobby. Taken off guard, I seized the book and took off from the ground. I led the journalist through the back hallways of the building. The sound of her panicked footsteps echoed against the walls. Of course, it was an exhilarating chase, but this is no action novel. I'll spare you the details. Secured behind a locked door, I listened to the journalist's frantic breaths. I could hear her scream.
"Why can you do this?" Her exclamation reverberated through the air. I caught my breath. This was groundbreaking. "I don't ask for much. I don't demand respect. Lately, I haven't even asked for loyalty from my friends. But when the research I have been carrying out for years is undermined by the animal I have been researching – that has to be a record."
My heart soared out to her. But I couldn't return her notebook to her. Not if I wanted my research to be a success. A sudden warmth swelled in my chest. It was unnatural – almost magical. I felt it swirl around me for a second before it started to radiate from my body. The globe of warmth encompassed both the journalist and me. For a moment we were connected. Our minds were one. Of course, this was all a hallucination of the worst kind. I cannot expect to successfully evaluate a subject when I myself am in need of evaluation. For that reason, I refuse to publish my research of Test Subject #14. She deserves some privacy. I do have to hurry away, unfortunately. My friend and, perhaps, the rest of my life await, not too far away.