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Phelix Gets the Scoop


by twirlsncurls5

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Phelix wondered as she sat yet again in the principal's office why everyone had such a great mistrust for the press. Okay, so there was occasional reporter who went around writing slanderous and biased articles, but she certainly wasn't that kind. Phelix prided herself on being the best possible journalist she could be. She always followed her leads and never divulged her sources, which was, for one reason or another, why she was sitting where she was.

     "I've told you, Phelix," said Principal Skedman, a round looking blue Skeith with an odd mustache, "just because you have that special pass doesn't mean you can just go barging into the teachers' lounge whenever you feel like it." He seemed quite tired of saying this.

     Phelix pushed in her chair and said, "I apologize sir, won't happen again," and walked out of the office. She had indeed said this many times. Phelix touched her shining badge bearing "The Piraket Press", the name of the school's newspaper and feathered mascot. True, it acted as a pass that allowed her to conduct interviews, but how dare the principal accuse her of abusing it?

     She grunted in annoyance as she walked down the hall towards her class. How did they think she was supposed to get any good information if they kept punishing her every time she followed a lead? Phelix often wished she had graduated and was working at the Neopian Times. They certainly didn't have any boundaries.

     She opened the door labeled Neopian History and walked in. A bunch of round eyes looked up at her, a gangly yellow Pteri with short spiky hair that fell over her round framed glasses. There was a pencil behind her ear, like always, and a Shimmery Notebook hooked around her belt loop.

     The teacher, Mrs. Allden, sneered at her with round Yurble eyes and looked even redder than usual. She was wearing one of her assorted hand stitched vests, complete with cheesy "T is for Teacher" patches and lots of shiny red apples. Mrs. Allden despised being disrupted, and from what Phelix could tell, she was in the middle of drawing the entire Meridell Royal Family tree on the chalk board.

      "Thank you for joining us, Phelix," she said with a smirk. The class snickered and Phelix gave them a look that said "shove it" and sat down.

     Tuning out the annoying drone that was Mrs. Allden's voice, Phelix opened her small notepad and flipped through the pages. The only leads she had were hardly unusual or exciting. She read over them with a heaving sigh: "School Band goes to Conference", "New Math teacher shows Multiplication Tables", and "Musical Theatre paints set for upcoming production of Robin Lupe".

     The last bell of the day rang, followed by the sound of shuffling of books. "And that was why King Skarl ordered so many melons!" shouted Mrs. Allden over the noise, as if anyone was really listening anyways. "And remember, Percival the Piraket is coming back for the school's game of Beach Volleyball!"

     The students definitely heard this, and they chatted excitedly about it down the hall. For some reason Phelix could never quite understand, everybody was crazy about that stupid bird. The girls all cooed over its pretty feathers and the boys hooted over its spiral flying maneuvers.

     So basically she knew what her story would be for this week's deadline before she even walked into the Newspaper room after school.

     "Sup Dan," she said to the scruffy looking brown Lupe who was shuffling papers in a corner. He turned around and grinned. "Phelix, I heard you had another run-in with Skedman." He ran a paw through what remained of his once long hair. "Watch out kid; every time you do something bad in the name of this Newspaper, I get in trouble too."

     He continued thumbing through papers as other pets slowly filed in.

     There were several girls whom Phelix was certain had only joined Newspaper to admire their advisor, Dan Gruno. This assumption was mostly based on the stories they handed in to the editor with titles such as "Sparkly Erasers" and "The Do's and Don'ts of Lip stick".

     Mr. Gruno or Dan as he insisted his Newspaper students call him ("I'm Mr. Gruno when I'm teaching English class, in Newspaper I'm only offering advice as a fellow staff member") was good looking in a grungy type of way. Despite his khakis and collared shirts that he wore upon the insistence of the principal, he still looking like he'd much rather be at a Stop-Buttering-the-Breadfish-type peace rally.

     The title of editor-in-chief of the Piraket Press was held by Leigh, an often scary shadow Eyrie. Judging by her narrowed eyes and balled fists, Phelix could tell she was in what the Newspaper staff had deemed "Volcano Mode".

     "For the tenth time guys, all articles are to be in my hand by Thursday. Hear that, Richie?" A small green Wocky shrank in his seat under her penetrating stare. "That's Thursday, NOT first thing on Friday. Melinda," she shot at a pink Kau who had her hoof raised, "I really don't care that you have to watch your brother Wednesday night." Melinda lowered her hand embarrassedly. "If deadlines were flexible, they wouldn't have the word DEAD in them!"

     And with that she huffed off, reminding Phelix yet again why she did not want the job of editor.

     Dan motioned towards her from his corner of the room while the rest of the staff was brainstorming on story ideas for the upcoming week's issue.

     "I suppose you know what story I'm going to assign you?" he asked.

     "Percival the Piraket," she replied exasperatedly.

     Dan put a paw on her shoulder. "C'mon, it's a big deal. Front page and everything."

     Phelix nodded and rolled her eyes. Front page was nice, but it was a boring story. There was no controversy whatsoever.

     "Mrs. Allden's in charge this year. If you hurry up I'll bet you can still catch her."

     Phelix nodded and headed off. So now she got to interview Mrs. Allden. Things just kept getting better.

     She knocked on the door and entered at the same time. She had never been one for formalities.

     Mrs. Allden eyed her skeptically from behind her desk.

     "Hello, Phelix. To what do I owe the pleasure?"

     "Er- I just have to ask you some questions for the school paper."

     "Regarding?"

     Phelix was tempted to snap back with "Why on earth you feel the need to need to be a pompous windbag!" but she refrained.

     "The arrival of Percival the Piraket."

     Mrs. Allden stood up with a very fake looking smile. "Ah yes, of course. Ask away."

     Phelix proceeded to ask her all of the usual questions of how old Percival was, what his favorite food was, where he was born, etc. Then suddenly, a truly glorious question came to her.

     "Where does Percival stay when he's not at the neoschool?"

     The red Yurble paused for a moment, her eyebrows furrowed.

     "I don't think I'm at the liberty to discuss."

     Phelix grinned. Now they were getting somewhere.

     "I just need a name, Ma'am. The students are all so curious about where Percival spends his time."

     Mrs. Allden scratched her chin.

     At last she said, "Well, I suppose he stays at a place called -er- Pippy's Petpet Emporium, yeah, that's it. It's a lovely place really. He's free to fly around as he pleases."

     Phelix scribbled in her notebook, thanked Mrs. Allden and was off. Dashing back to the Newspaper room, she asked if anyone had heard of the place. A yellow Kau with lots of freckles told her that Pippy's Petpet Emporum was located on 27311 Neopia Central, only a few streets away.

     She was sweaty and panting as she entered the shop, having run all the way there from school.

      "Hello," said Phelix to a pimply red Lenny checking prices. "I was wondering if you could tell me about your Piraket housing facility?"

     "Piraket housing?" He looked at her as if she were crazy. "The closest thing we've got to that is a Blue Feather Toy."

     Phelix was stunned. "So you don't actually carry Pirakets?"

     "No, I don't reckon one's ever been inside the store."

     She thanked him and left the store. At last she had her controversy. But why would Mrs. Allden lie?

     Now a normal student would've just given up, quoted her teacher, and ignored that the facts didn't match up. But Phelix was a journalist, and in her mind there were no boundaries that should go uncrossed, even if it involved calling Mrs. Allden a liar.

     "Mrs. Allden! Excuse me!" she shouted, waving her arms, as she caught up with the red Yurble just as she was walking out the neoschool doors. Phelix was beginning to think that after all this running she'd make a good candidate for the track team.

     Mrs. Allden started walking faster.

     Phelix sprinted up to her so that she was matching her teacher's unusually swift stride.

     "Oh. Phelix, hello." she said, sounding very unhappy to see her, "I…uh…didn't even see you there. Is there something else you need to ask me?"

     "Actually there is," said Phelix, fixing a distrustful gaze on her teacher, "Pippy's Petpet Emporium didn't quite check out. What're you hiding?"

     "I beg your pardon, young lady!" huffed Mrs. Allden.

     "I'm just curious why you would go to the trouble to lie."

     "You're asking for privileged information! I don't have to stand here and have my morals questioned by a teenage reporter!"

     She started to walk away heatedly when Phelix spoke in a sad, defeated tone.

     "Okay then, I guess we can just print that the school couldn't care less about where Percival stays. The students probably wont be too happy, but oh well. Thanks anyways, Mrs. Allden." She turned and walked away slowly with a smirk spread across her face.

     "Wait!"

     Phelix turned back.

      "It's a shop called the Dingaling Brothers' Circus." Mrs. Allden spoke in a low whisper, her eyes darting around warily. "Behind the marketplace. That's strictly off the record."

      Phelix nodded and scribbled the stupidly named circus in her notebook before running all the way to the Marketplace.

      She arrived at shop decorated with a large wind tattered tent with gaping holes in its white and red striped fabric. The grass around it was trampled and brown. On the whole, the area felt empty, as if it were devoid of any life at all.

      This was where the great Percival the Piraket was kept?

      She lifted the tent flap and ducked behind a stack of crates.

      The shopkeepers, two scruffy looking blue Techos, were laughing hoarsely and poking at a bright mass of colors. A pained "Squawk!" sounded and feathers flew.

      It was Percival!

      The Techos roared with laughter. "Look at him fly!" one shouted.

      Phelix watched with repulsion. Yet she knew this was a once in a lifetime story, the kind reporters dream about stumbling on. She quickly pulled out her pad of paper and recorded everything she saw.

     ---------------------------------

     "Phelix?"

     Principal Skedman looked shocked to see her waiting in his office first thing the next morning. "What-?"

     But before he could finish Phelix thrust her notebook on the desk.

      "I know about Percival," she said somberly.

      "But how did-?"

      "That's not important," she interjected, "but I hoped you could give me some kind of an explanation before this story went to print."

      Skedman flipped through the details of the school's mascot being abused at a second rate shop. His lower lip looked tight beneath his moustache and he ran two large claws over his face.

      "I suppose it's only a matter of time before the public finds out about this anyways?"

      Phelix looked at him warily.

      He sighed and then spoke very slowly and quietly. "Well, as I'm sure you know, the neoschool has had to make several large budget cuts this year."

      "What's that have to do with Percival?"

      "Well, you see, the school couldn't…we couldn't afford to keep a Piraket. We had to borrow one."

      Phelix nodded. "The Dingaling circus loaned you theirs."

      "Yes. For a little bit of money we could have Percival for sporting events and such." He buried his head in his claws. "The school's reputation is going to be ruined. Can you imagine what our students' owners will think? No one will want to send their pet somewhere that can't even afford a mascot and all the pets will be disgusted at how we let their beloved Percival go on being treated like this."

      Phelix looked thoughtful for a moment and then said, "Principal Skedman, as ruinous as the press can be, there are times when it can be your greatest ally."

      ---------------------------------

      The story that printed on the front page of the Piraket Press that week was read by nearly every student in the school. A picture depicting the petpets abuse stared up at thre readers. The caption read:

      School Mascot Percival the Piraket faces abuse like this every day from his owners at the aptly named 'Dingaling Circus'. Principal Skedman hopes to raise enough money so that the school can give Percival the home he deserves.

      The story went on to talk about the Piraket's troubled life, and just how students could help.

      Phelix walked into the Newspaper room that afternoon to thunderous applause. An unusually authentic smile graced Leigh's face. Dan clapped her hard on the back.

      "I heard someone just sent in 50 thousand neopoints for Percival."

      "They should have enough in no time!" she exclaimed, her face bright and glowing.

      He smiled back. "I'm really proud of you, Phelix."

      "Aw shucks, Dan, I think I'm blushing."

      "Seriously! You really took the high road. You could've easily printed whatever was the most controversial without caring about who it affected. But instead you decided to help out someone else."

      The Pteri shrugged, grinning casually. "I'm just trying to be a good journalist."

The End

 
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