Preparing Neopia for the Meepits Circulation: 96,497,777 Issue: 189 | 6th day of Hunting, Y7
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Heroes: Part One


by orginalcliche

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"Get off." I didn't really like to pretend. Imagining wasn't my forte. Reality was confusing enough without messing it up more. The small Meerca was on the sidewalk. Her eyes were wide and she was afraid. I could smell it, taste it on the tip of my green scaly Scorchio tongue. It was delicious.

      "Please," she whimpered. I released the pressure that my foot was applying on her tail. She scuttled away like a Vernax just being released from a Sypder's web.

      I held out one hand expectantly. "Neopoints," I stated, looking down at my palm, expecting it to be there. I didn't have time for this.

     "Please I don't have it today, just…"

     "No. I don't have time for this, you have it and both you and I know it. You're just too lazy aren't you? I saw you today, your owner went out to play games, and you took her money, didn't you?" I accused harshly.

     She held her hands over her face, and whimpered like some forgotten Puppyblew. "I don't like liars," I hissed through clenched teeth.

     "I don't like bullies," she whispered, so quite that I almost couldn't hear.

      In a second I was by the young Meerca's side, leaning against the wall. My eyes lazily flicked over her form in false admiration for her muscles, or lack there of. If she wanted to play games I would show her just why I was undefeated in the Battledome. "I like you, you've got spunk."

     "W-what?" she stammered, lifting one paw away from her face.

     "I said, I like you, you've got spunk." Slowly, while she was stammering, one of my claws reached to the fanny pack that looped around her middle. "Let's be partners." I grinned falsely, at the same time snatching her purse.

     "Hey! Give that back," she squealed. I towered above her, my massive Scorchio wings folded behind my back. I grinned showing my many sharp teeth. "See ya later." I offered her an exaggerated wave before flying off.

     "Merrel!" she yelled, right as I was flying off.

      Everyone knows who Merrel is, every criminal in Neopia at least. He's the protector of the "weak", but in this case protector of the week. He was a Kougra, supposedly, but I had never seen him, neither had any of my buds. He was an active superhero, but not with the Defenders. Then he disappeared. Some say he went back to Mystery Island, his home, to save it from a villain. Others say he got tired of the life of a superhero and wanted to settle down. For whatever reason he left, it's good enough for me. He's gone and I've got free reign over Neopia Central.

      I was flying pretty fast, the air was cool and refreshing against my wings. The purse dangled from my claw, a comforting weight. I think it was a miracle that I saw him, or rather that I found him. I was landing by my Neohome, when I lost my balance and tumbled into some boxes.

      I didn't hit the ground that hard. I had been slowing in preparation to land anyways. I stumbled around for a bit, and then I felt it. Where the boxes had been cold and light, this was warm and heavy. I jumped out of the boxes sending a couple flying. Something alive was in there. I looked around a bit, confused and worried. Alive in this part of town either meant prey or predator. I was inclined to believe the latter. Then I discerned him, and relief loosened. There in front of me was a Kougra, a fairly ordinary Kougra. He wore a faded yellow suit with the letter M printed in block blue bold lettering on the front. He was lounging aristocratically against the boxes. His suit was stretched thin, with visible stains and holes exposing his almost florescent yellow fur. "Who are you?" I asked defensively.

      "Go away Maria." His voice was quite and raspy. He had obviously not used it in a long time. He was probably just another homeless pet, but something about him, had an air of grace not associated to those of the lower class.

      "Listen bud, I'm not Maria. I want to know why you're dressed in this get up and lounging like King Skarl in my dumpster? You're on my turf, you realize that, bub?" I didn't like the looks of him, he reminded me of someone. Someone I should have been afraid of. He didn't scare me though, not now. Not with this tattered Halloween costume he was wearing. Maybe it was his eyes. They were so deep and so passionate. The kind of passionate idealism that made pets victims. He had a kind of hope that causes the bad guy to get beaten in the end. However that hope always stems from desperation, this guy was the epitome of desperation. There wasn't much to steal on him, and he was beat up already, so there wasn't much I could do about the situation.

      "What are you, some petty pickpocket?" His raised his head a bit, his eyes meeting mine. I turned away; I couldn't look at those eyes, those once proud eyes, now beaten down.

      "Listen guy, I don't have time for your dung, just tell me who you are and why you are on my doorstep." I didn't have time for this. That was my excuse for almost everything, even my excuse to other pet's excuses. When I didn't feel like facing something, then I just said I didn't have time for it.

      "Your doorstep," he spat the words out, as if the taste was bitter on his tongue. His tone was sophisticated, and even though the words were simple I almost didn't understand them.

      "Listen bud, I'll have to throttle you if you don't get out of here." I didn't really want to hurt this pathetic Kougra. He had it pretty bad already. I wasn't one to beat people when they were down, unless I had too.

      "You see my condition; do you really think I can walk around like this?" Even though he was hurt pretty bad I had still figured he could move. If he couldn't move, what could I do? I could pummel him, but what would that do for me? I could put his lights out. That would get rid of him permanently, wouldn't it? I don't like to do pointless things like that though, it's not my style. That's the style for people who have the time, or the anger. I'm not an angry pet, just a slightly disturbed one. "Come inside, then." I motioned to the backdoor, mocking his manner.

      He shifted in the boxes, his eyes finding mine again. "I told you I can't move."

     "I'll help you then." I didn't want to touch him, no one was looking, but I would have it on my conscience. I didn't want to develop a sense of civic duty. What kind of criminal would I be then?

      My big brother used to read me stories, he still does. I can't read really. There was always the thief who held a sense of honor. Who only stole from those who deserved it. I didn't want to become like that. I'd end up with less Neopoints then I had now, which was barely enough to live on as it was. I should leave him on the street, that was the best option. "Suit yourself."

     "Wait," he whispered nakedly.

     "What?" I turned around, wanting him to give me a reason to punch him.

     "Come here," his voice was a raspy whisper.

      I didn't question, but merely walked to him. It was if he had hypnotized me. I couldn't move, other than to lift my feet up and to stare into his eyes. I felt every single one of my joints become numb. Then as quickly as it began it was over. Before I could turn away, he disrupted the silence.

     "Just listen." His voice was deep, still raspy, but he had the air of someone who once held command. Not anymore though, now he was weak and powerless. If he was so fragile how come I had to keep reminding myself that he was?

     I wanted to turn away, I really did, but I couldn't. It wasn't him, it was the feeling I felt, like I needed to do good, needed to help him, if only so that he could help me later. "Fine, but don't expect me to stay out here all night. It's cold."

     "I shall try to be as concise as possible."

     "Just get on with it!" I exclaimed, beginning to become truly annoyed.

     "My name is Merrel," he proclaimed proudly, as if that was his entire story. As if an entire epic was compacted magically into those words. I didn't take away much from that sentence though. I wasn't the brightest crayon in the box.

     "Ah so you're a superhero wannabe, what's your power this time? The ability to be completely and absolutely average," I answered my own question sarcastically.

     "No, I'm the real Merrel, but your belief in me holds no consequence. Get me a drink of water will you?" Merrel commanded charismatically. He seemed to think that he wasn't torn up and ratty. That he was a hero, and I was his adoring fan-base. Hypnotizing stare or no, I was not going to get this punk a drink of water.

      "Listen, I don't take orders, a nice please and thank you will do." Why all of a sudden did I care about manners? What made me want this guy's respect?

     "I don't think you've ever said please or thank you in your life," he snickered.

     "Now see here, do you want me to help you or not?" I tried to turn around, but I couldn't, his eyes held mine prisoner.

     "You'll help me if you like it or not," he said quietly, his tone hard. His eyes were blazing like two malicious fire faeries. I didn't want to comment. I couldn't move, and he knew that. So instead I just stood, straight and stiff, my eyes never leaving his. Merrel laughed, cold and shrill. "I was powerful once. I was a better superhero than any of those Defenders. I would leap across the widest valleys like it was a crack in the sidewalk. I would console those that had lost everything, and they would be happy."

     "You sound like a goody two shoes to me," I mumbled dejectedly. I tried to move my feet, but they were stuck to the sidewalk.

      He snorted and shifted around his weight, causing a couple of boxes come tumbling down. "I was, I suppose. Then the criminals started attacking from the shadows. They became more competent. Or maybe I just lost my touch. Then I saw her. She was the most beautiful faerie I had ever seen. Her indigo hair rippled down her back like something out of a storybook. She was evil though. She was a dark faerie. She gave me real powers." His eyes glazed over and his gaze almost broke. I could feel myself belong to me again, however I feigned as if I was still caught in his trap.

     "Like what you're using so that I can't move," I interjected, annoyed.

     "Yes. My eyes can see almost everything, and can do even more. I can catch criminals, but I can't catch back my old glory," he murmured looking down at his torn suit, and roughed up state. "So I got in a fight with her, Maria, the dark faerie. I told her she needed to do more for me. She wasn't too happy about it, to say the least."

     "And this has to do with me because…"I trailed off, beginning to become bored with the dialogue.

     "You're going to help me," he stated with a wild grin. "You're going to be my bad guy."

To be continued...

 
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