Introducing Vani, the Baby Pet
“Hey Kitkat, it’s done!”
Kitkat opened her eyes slowly as she heard Lolly’s call. The first thing she saw was the magical paintbrush at her feet. Well, actually, it didn’t look quite magical anymore as it lay there with colorless bristles. So she looked at her Acara paws and saw they were pink.
Well, that didn’t mean anything, she thought, as they’d always been pink, so she looked at her arms, her shoulders, and then her legs and was quite delighted at the purple color. “It worked!” she exclaimed happily.
“Well, of course it did.” Lolly cocked her head to one side as she surveyed her older sister. “You’ve already been here to the Rainbow Pool twice so why should you be surprised?” she pointed out as she fluttered around Kitkat on her faerie wings, the better to look at her.
Kitkat smiled and stretched, ah yes, she was larger than her Wocky sister now. It was proof that she was no longer painted Baby. Then she scowled as she suddenly remembered who made her that way in the first place.
“Did you remember to bring my clothes?”
Lolly rolled her eyes, “Yes, I brought your princess clothes,” she said as she handed the bag to her now Purple colored sister. Beyond them, other pets were also using the Rainbow Pool. Some were shrieking with excitement as they were painted while others were shaking a little nervously then stood quite still as the paintbrush swept their forms. First-timers, Lolly thought a little smugly. Then she saw a male Draik sighing boredly as his enthusiastic owner prepared to use a brush on him. I wonder how many times he’s been painted already?
“Well, what do you think?”
Lolly turned to Kitkat at her question. “Hmm, I’ll miss your bangs, but other than that, you look almost the same. Purple’s a good color.”
Kitkat sighed, “Yeah, I know but it won’t be the same,” she was now dressed in her former Royalgirl clothes which still fitted as they all knew it would. But she did miss her long hair... “Alright, let’s go to the Battledome!”
Lolly almost had to use her wings as she tried to keep up with her sister who bounded and leaped quickly as any Acara could. “Are you sure about this, Kitkat? Aren’t you, maybe, over-reacting just a little? After all, you have been painted Baby before and Boochi is just a bab--”
“Hush! I have a score to settle with that trigger-happy Bruce! ” Kitkat said as they bounded round the corner at the Petpet shop, “Maybe some pets would consider it lucky to be Boochi-zapped but not m--” She suddenly skidded to a halt. “Hey, did you see that?!”
Lolly nodded as she also stopped beside her sister. “If you hadn’t stopped, I would have thought I was just imagining it,” she said as they both looked at each other.
“Yeah, and she was carrying--”
“I know, but I thought that--”
“Did she change her mind after all?”
Kitkat and Lolly were both lost in thought as their paws swiftly made their way back home, all thoughts of battling Boochi in the battledome completely forgotten with what they saw. They had both seen their owner, Akitera, cradling what looked like an Aisha and she came from the direction of the Neopian Plaza. That could only mean one thing – a new pet. Whether created from the Welcome Center or adopted from the Pound, they didn’t know but what was more important was the question “Why?”
Akitera had told them there would be only three of them as her pets and they had all been created less than a year apart. The youngest, an Usul, was already more than a year old – so what did this mean? They ran swiftly to the edge of Neopia Central where the Explore map would take them instantly to Faerieland and hopefully, get their answers once back home.
“Oh, you’re back,” their youngest sister, TwixC, yawned sleepily as she opened the front door. She surveyed Kitkat from head to toe and shrugged, “You look almost the same.”
“Never mind that,” Kitkat said a little impatiently as she went inside the dimly lit house, “Have you seen Akitera?”
“Huh? I was asleep; she may have come in but I don’t know.” TwixC pouted then smiled as she adjusted the bow on her Usuki hair. “How do you like this new bow? It suits me, doesn’t it?”
“We don’t have time for your bows, TwixC. This is important,” Lolly told her as she went to the kitchen where dirty dishes were still stacked on the sink while Kitkat inspected the bedrooms.
“What’s important?” TwixC wanted to know.
“Eww, your rooms are really messy. Anyway, she’s not in the house,” Kitkat announced. “But where would she go with a newly created pe-- The tower!” Kitkat rushed out in the garden with Lolly at her heels. TwixC hopped quickly after them thinking it was a game.
Sure enough, they all saw Akitera rushing quickly out of the Faerieland tower, an addition to their neohome found at the back of the house. “Oh, hey there! What are all of you doing outside?” she asked a little breathlessly and seemingly not doing anything weird even as she cradled a strange pet in her arms, then she breezily went out the gate. “Sorry I need to rush! I have a pending deal with someone on the Trading Post. I’ll be back as quick as I can!” And with that, Akitera was now out of their sight.
“What was that all about?!” TwixC demanded a little shrilly. “And did my eyes deceive me or was that an icky yellow, blech, Aisha she had with her?”
“Excuse me,” Lolly pulled herself up haughtily, “But I used to be painted yellow!”
“That’s beside the point! What I want to know is what she was doing with that pet! Everything she’s done today had been strange. She went out of the house early without telling us, she didn’t even prepare my favorite meal! She didn’t accompany Kitkat to the Rainbow Pool to get painted, and now she has some Aisha tucked under her arm.”
Kitkat’s shoulders drooped a little as she motioned for her sisters to come inside the house. “I guess we’ll just have to wait for Akitera’s explanation,” she said. She knew TwixC was right; this was the first time Akitera had acted strangely and without telling them anything. Only three pets, they all remembered her telling them. Was one of them, gulp, to be pounded? But they had to trust their owner, even if the things she did today seemed not to bode well for them.
They had their answer soon enough as not more than an hour later, Akitera had them all assembled in the slightly cluttered living room. “So my cuties, tell me what you’ve all been doing today before I tell you my good news,” she told them as she bent forward to scoop Kitkat in her arms and stroked her new fur.
Good news? All three pets looked at each other. News they were expecting, but good was still open to doubt.
“Well...” Kitkat started hesistantly, “As you can see, I got myself painted Purple with that paint brush you gave me.”
“Do you like it?”
Kitkat nodded. “I look almost like my former self and you know I like Purple,” then she added shyly, “Thank you.”
Akitera nodded but this was done abstractedly, like she was thinking about something else, which made her pets nervous. Lolly spoke up next. “I didn’t get to do anything new today, since I accompanied Kitkat to the Pool.” Then she took a deep breath and said accusingly, “We were going to fight Boochi at the Battledome but then we saw you with a pet!”
TwixC, not to be outdone, rushed on, “And I was trying on new bows for my hair, but then I fell asleep and then we saw you with that Aisha!”
Akitera now smiled as she put down Kitkat and faced all three of them. “Vani is actually my good news.”
“What’s a Vani?” TwixC asked.
Akitera chuckled softly, “Not a what, TwixC, she’s a who,” she explained. “She’s your new sister, I just created her. Come and see.” She now led her pets to their garden where they could hear squeals of delight coming from the playground. As they came closer, they finally saw the new pet playing happily at the swings.
“But she’s a BABY!” all three of them exclaimed. This was not what they expected; they had all seen their owner with a Yellow Aisha. They all looked at Akitera questioningly.
“Come here, Vani, and meet your older sisters,” Akitera called out.
The little baby Aisha hopped down from the swings and trotted on her little paws to Akitera’s side. She snuggled her head at Akitera’s legs before facing her sisters and giving them a very sweet smile. Kitkat cooed, “Ooooh!” Lolly cocked her head to one side and raised an eyebrow as she contemplated their new sister while TwixC took a step back and crossed her arms, “Hmp!”
“So what do you think?”
“She’s adorable!” Kitkat said while Lolly nodded her head grudgingly in agreement.
Vani slowly came near them. “Mew,” she said to each of them.
When she got to TwixC, however, TwixC demanded, “Why are you mewing? Are you a Kad or something?!” Then she stuck her tongue out at the Aisha.
Akitera was taken aback. “TwixC!”
“Well, I don’t care!” TwixC said a little defiantly even as she regretted what she had done, since Vani now looked as if she was about to cry. “So which of us is going?”
“Going where?” Akitera was confused.
“Going to the pound,” Kitkat replied as she patted the little Aisha consolingly. She gave a meaningful glance at TwixC who sighed and also went to pat Vani as an apology. Vani instantly hugged her so she shrieked, “Be careful with the hair!”
“What are you talking abo-- Oh, you thought Vani was replacing one of you?” Akitera instantly guessed then she laughed, “No, of course not! I had to change my mind about only having three pets given recent events. And Vani is going to help us.”
“Huh? How?” they all asked as they looked doubtfully at the little pet who was now wiggling her two longer ears playfully at them.
“Well, for starters, she’ll now be the active pet,” Kitkat, who usually had that status started to protest but Akitera motioned for her to stay silent. “She’ll be your guard. Your Boochi guard.”
The three older pets looked at each other, then suddenly burst out laughing as if she had just told them a good joke. Vani jumped up and down excitedly at them, eager to join at what the fun was all about.
“What’s so funny?”
“You’re, ahaha, going to be our guard?” Lolly teased Vani while Vani just smiled and nodded happily. “What is she supposed to do? Play Usuki tea party time with Boochi?” asked TwixC.
“Ah! When Boochi zaps a pet, they become a baby,” Akitera reminded them and they all suddenly stopped laughing. Kitkat blushed while Lolly and TwixC looked at her unsurely. “Boochi won’t be able to get at any of you anymore with Vani here.”
They all considered how true this was. Boochi would definitely not be a problem for them anymore thanks to their new baby sister. Kitkat then spoke up. “Well, I for one, am surely happy about that, but it’s a little embarrassing to be hiding behind a baby.”
Akitera was about to reply when Lolly interrupted, “Wait! Then why did you have to paint Vani? You could have just let her remain yellow and wait for Boochi to zap her.”
“True! But there’s also a very good reason why I wanted an immediate baby in the family.” Akitera suddenly became serious. “I’ve started to notice that the three of you have become so involved in your own affairs that you’ve forgotten your other responsibilities.”
Kitkat looked about to protest then stopped and looked at the ground.
“The house is always a mess, you forget to clear your toys after playing, you forget your kitchen duties that meal times are almost always late. You know I love all of you but you can’t expect me to do everything for you,” she ended with a sigh.
Lolly and TwixC started to shift uncomfortably, then bowed their heads guiltily since this was true.
No one spoke for a few moments. The baby Aisha, sensing the uncomfortable silence, went to Kitkat and looked up at her with concerned eyes. “Mew?” Then she went to rest her paw on her big sister’s arm.
“It’s ok, Vani,” Kitkat assured her sister, then she looked at her other sisters who nodded before turning to Akitera. “We’re... we’re really sorry,” she began haltingly. “It’s true what you said. We have been a little careless but I’ll... I’ll get back to my chores just as soon as I’m done practicing in the Battledome,” she promised.
“And I’ll just do a little grooming and reading first, then I’ll do the dishes!” Lolly promised too.
“And I’ll just try on some of my new outfits, then I’ll clean my room,” TwixC promised solemnly.
“Hmm, that’s ok then,” Akitera said then turned to Vani. “I guess Vani can stay here outside in the meantime. I wonder if she’s ok with sleeping in the tower? Are you hungry? Would you like some neocrackers?” she asked to which the little Aisha wrinkled her nose in disgust.
“Eww, neocrackers?” Lolly couldn’t believe it. “And why would she stay in the tower? It’s cold there at night.”
Akitera sighed dramatically. “It seems she has no choice. There are no clean pots or pans to be cooking a meal right now.” As if on cue, Vani’s stomach rumbled hungrily then she made a sad face.
“Oh, you poor dear!” Kitkat was immediately concerned. “I guess I can put off practicing until tomorrow. Lolly can clear the sink while I cook.” Lolly nodded in agreement, then the two of them headed back to the house to do just that.
“And I’ll sweep and mop right now. Vani can’t sleep in a filthy room; she might get NeoMites or some other nasty thing.” TwixC wrung her hands worriedly then quickly followed her sisters to start cleaning.
As the three older pets reached the front door, Lolly asked, “Hmm, I wonder if Akitera did that on purpose to get us all started immediately.” The three of them looked at each other then in unison said, “Nah, she wouldn’t do a thing like that,” then they went their separate ways to do the chores.
Outside and out of their sight, Akitera looked at Vani, grinning. Vani returned the grin and winked.