Revenge: Part Five
It seemed like it took a long time before Naqasa woke up. We had kept her by the fire, hoping that warming her up would take away the chill that had brought her to her scary state, and it seemed as if we were right. It was a huge relief when she opened up her big, red eyes.
“Q’tai?” she asked, as if she were utterly shocked that I was sitting next to her. To tell the truth, I was, too.
That was when I finally broke down in tears. I was so happy that she was fine, but so guilty that it was because of me she had been outside in the storm in the first place. It wasn’t their fault that I had been unhappy, and just because I had been so didn’t mean everybody else had to feel my pain as well. As I sat there, my paws over my face, I realized that it had been truly unfair, what I’d done, and I deserved nothing less than to go back to where I had come from, for hopefully somebody else to adopt me and... maybe give me another chance.
Would my first owner take me back?
“It’s okay,” said Naqasa, and I realized that I’d been saying, “I’m sorry,” over and over again. She was grinning widely at me, happiness spread across her entire face. Why was she happy? Hadn’t she realized that she had just risked getting Neomonia? “I’m just glad you’ve decided... to be my brother.”
That nearly set off another round of tears from me, but this time I was able to keep them in check. This time the feeling was different. She didn’t blame me for what I had done, running off as well as everything else. As I sat there, the Usul hugged me tightly, and I returned it. When we were finished, I turned to our owner.
“Okay,” I said, “You can take me away now.”
“Take you away?” she asked, looking completely confused. “To where?”
“The... pound?” I said, her confusion confusing me. “Isn’t that where I deserve to go?”
“You’re sorry,” she said, “and you’ve tried to make things right. That’s enough for me.”
You could imagine how I felt the next day, when the lab ray decided to give me a big surprise. For some reason, Naqasa was laughing her head off, and so was Shadow. I finally had gotten my cool color zap, and I was now the same shade as my sister, Shei. Our owner had explained to me the night before that the reason why she was hesitant about me joining the school Yooyuball team was because she didn’t know if they allowed lab pets to go out for a sport, because of the lab pets constantly changing shape. It turns out they didn’t, but it was a moot point anyway, because I was done now.
I looked at my dark color as I stood near the locker rooms—it was still raining, so they held the tryouts in the gym—and a strange feeling rose up inside of me. I had been adopted to be a lab pet. Now that I was done being zapped, I was ready to be up for adoption.
I didn’t want to leave.
“Hey, Q’tai,” said a high pitched voice, and Alex walked up to me, her striped fur shining brightly in the light from the ceiling. She held a small, but bulky package in her arms. “You going to join in?”
“Sorry,” I said, shaking my head. However, I didn’t want her to know that I wasn’t completely on her side anymore, so I continued, “I don’t want Shadow to find out about me still.”
She frowned, and she looked as if she were about to reply, but somebody else interrupted her before she could begin.
“Q’tai!” shouted Shei from over near where people were signing their names for the teachers to know who was here. She was trying out, too. “Tryouts are starting?”
“Coming!” I said, and turned my head back to Alex. “Bye!”
Shei was raising her eyebrow as she saw me come up to her, but she relaxed when I just shrugged. It was really nothing. Brian knew that the Trio was going to pull something, and the Gelert knew there was something up to, so through the match we were going to keep an eye on them, and make sure they didn’t get too near Naqasa, who was sitting with Shadow and Qin on the stands.
As we went through the regimen the coaches had us go through, I couldn’t help but feel excited. It felt so wonderful to do the thing that I had dreamed about doing my whole life, to put to actual use the moves that I had practiced in secret for so long. The tug of the sling on my arm as I used it to fling the faerie Yooyu at my partner, guarding the net to keep the other players from getting the petpet into it... it was kind of euphoric. I had no idea if I was any good, but it still felt wonderful to play my favorite sport.
Shei was a little bit stiff in her movements, but she was pretty good, and whenever we were paired up with each other during that tryout we both had a lot of fun. It was great watching Shei dive whenever I flung it too far out of her way to just reach for it—on purpose, mind you—and great when I had to do the same thing in return.
Every once and a while I checked to make sure that none of Naqasa’s enemies were going to pull anything, but I always caught them somewhere else, not close enough to worry.
They didn’t try until it was nearly the end.
Brian put a paw on my shoulder, and I turned around to see Alex headed toward my family, unwrapping the thing she had been carrying. My eyes widened as an Usul Transmogrification potion was exposed to the air, and I quickly put the Yooyu into my sling. It curled up as tightly as it could, like it normally did, and I flung it as hard as I could in Alex’s direction.
The next thing I knew, there was a loud explosion, and then a loud wailing cut through the air. Instead of a beautiful striped Xweetok, a gross, disgusting looking mutant Usul stood, her horrified three eyes peering at her clawed fingers and putrid purple fur. She shrieked loudly and disappeared as fast as she could.
After that event, Kauvara shortly figured out who the three pets were that stole a magical potion from her shop. As punishment, they were separated from each other, the only one remaining being Leah, the faerie Lenny. They were all sentenced to three weeks of detention, as well as whatever their owners deemed fit to punish them with. There was no doubt that their owners wouldn’t do anything, either. All of them had been horrified to learn that their lovely, ‘angelic’ pets weren’t the darlings they were at home.
None of us knew what had become of Alex or Jenny, but there were rumors that the two had been abandoned and were now the pets of a commander of the space station. Most of us doubted them, but some of us still said that they had received what they deserved.
For a while I believed that Shadow was going to fulfill her plans to abandon me, but she never went to the Pound Boards to find somebody, or just to bring me to the Pound. I was confused. Hadn’t she adopted me to foster me for a while? She wasn’t exactly reading me any books to boost my intelligence, or training me at either of the schools... so it wasn’t to give me better stats before I left, either.
It was a couple of weeks before I decided to confront her about her plans.
It was late at night, and everybody else was in bed. On the normal occasion, I’d be sleeping right now, but I wanted to ask. As it was, I was yawning and unsteady on my feet, stumbling past chairs and tables that had the nerve to be in my way. I ran one of my paws through the hair that stuck out from the top of my head when I came to the door, hesitating. I was unsure if I should do this or not.
“Come in,” said Shadow’s voice, almost singing. She must have been tired, too. She never sings that energetically unless she’s tired. I guess she’s a kind of contradictory person...?
Cautiously, I opened the door, and peeked my head into the room. The human was seated in her writers’ chair, the quill in her hand flicking quickly across the pieces of paper on the table in front of her. It was dim, the only light coming from the lamp on the table, and I shook my head. Silly writers. They were so addicted to their profession that they never cared if there was enough light to write by.
“Shadow?” I asked directly. I really wanted to get this over with.
“What is it?” She didn’t even look at me, just kept scribbling whatever she was working on.
“When am I going to my new home?” I asked, wincing. I thought it was better to assume the worst.
“Who said you were going to a different home?” she asked, looking completely baffled once again.