Kindness in the Works
”Oh steam, oh steam, oh steam!"
A Spotted Lupe, flustered and sweaty, bulldozed his study table of loose paper and engineering books hoping to find his blueprints for his mechanical robot. Polarjet let out a small whelp when nothing emerged from the clearing. He dropped to the floor, scanning and overturning each textbook for the possibility that his precious document may surface. He even took off his Brass Gear Goggles for a few seconds just to double check if his eyesight was not playing tricks on him.
Dawncrest, his older brother and a Pirate Grundo dressed in his metallic blue Grundo Resistance outfit wrapped in a Space Grundo Belt, knocked thrice on his opened door. He held up an Explorer Backpack with a scroll of blue parchment sticking out of of the corner, but there was no response from the panicking Lupe. Dawncrest knocked once again on the door but the Lupe was too entranced with the search to be bothered.
"Is this what you have been looking for?" smirked the Pirate Grundo as he lifted the backpack up towards the lantern lighting. The Lupe's ears pointed upward like an electric jolt from a Tesla coil.
"Where did you find this?!" clamored Polarjet as he leaped from his desk to the doorway, instantaneously fitting the arm straps over his shoulders.
"PJ, you hung it on the coat rack at the entrance of the house—" Dawncrest attempted to restrain his giggling, but to no avail. "—so that you won't have to worry about finding it later."
The Grundo burst in a knee-slapping snickering. The Lupe locked his jaw, grabbed his backpack and set off for the SMELT facility trying to hide his tense, rosy cheeks.
Polarjet grunted as he spun the wheel of his Moltaran home door. The door clicked and the hatch opened. Then a gentle wave of heat and ash from Moltara's cavernous air bounced off the Lupe's soft chestnut nose. Polarjet did not flinch.
"Hey PJ," his brother yelled across the house. "The factory closes in less than an hour. Do you have enough time to get there?"
"I'll make it," scoffed the Lupe defiantly, still peeved for being laughed at.
Polarjet slammed the door and raced to the town square. He knew that for him to hand his blueprint on time for parts production, he needed to run faster than a My Mechanical Buddy T-3000 in overdrive. The Lupe sprinted up the hill of clustered houses on Obsidian lane that looked like giant Goys, Vals and Dals lined up ready to be picked up by their new pet-friends.
The more the Lupe dashed towards the town square, the clacking rustles of his brass buckles on his Bomber Jacket Shrug were slowly muted by the clangs of churning gears and the occasional swish of released steam from the exhaust pipes.
He stopped for a moment to catch his breath while enjoying the waft of his favorite Cog Stew from the nearby Molten Morsels. He licked his lips as if he were enjoying a warm bowl right now. Polarjet shook his head out of his stupor and refocused on his goal. He looked up at the Town Hall clock to check the time.
"I can make it, no problem," he confidently thought to himself. He calculated the remainder of the trip in his head down to the route and energy required for the minimum time needed to reach his destination. The factory was at the end of the avenue leading away from the town square. At the pace he's running, Polarjet would have a few minutes to spare. He caught his breath and continued charging.
However, the Lupe's powerful ears picked up a distress call. He broke his speed and slid a few steps until his whole body came to a complete stop.
Beside Cog's Togs and the Obsidian Quarry, a small Brown Mynci sobbed quietly. The little Neopet looked at the large tanks of steam that rolled off his cart and wiped his tears with his leather-gloved hands.
The citizens of Moltara were busy around the clock, scurrying around the town square like the cogs that spun and oscillated inside any machine. They all saw the poor Mynci meekly struggling to replace a single tank onto his cart. They felt sympathy for the young Mynci, but they too were preoccupied with their jobs to help out.
Polarjet felt antsy; his four legs begun to teeter and tap between the direction towards the SMELT facility and the little Mynci. The Lupe took a second glance at the Neopet and caught a glimpse of himself in their shoes. He remembered Dawncrest, who was always there to help him, even up to this morning with finding his blueprints. Polarjet would not shake off the feeling. The Lupe gulped and rushed to one of the tanks.
He threw his bag aside next to a pile of obsidian and started lifting a heavy tank onto the cart.
"Mister?" the young Mynci managed to murmur after recovering from his sniffling.
"Don't worry about it, kid. I'm here—" the Lupe wheezed as he tried lifting up another tank. "To help."
The Mynci brushed all his tears off and scampered the nearest tank. The two Neopets were silent except for the grunting from lifting a tank and the sigh of relief from getting one more tank onto the cart.
The young Mynci rolled a tank towards the cart. He then tried to lift it onto the cart, but tripped on one of the misaligned tiles of the road. The tank tipped and pressed down onto the Mynci. The small Neopet struggled to stand up and abruptly dropped down to his knees.
Polarjet heard a little cry and dropped his tank. He ran towards the cart, pressing his back against the overturned tank, preventing the Mynci from being squished entirely. Polarjet heaved the tank onto the cart until it was sturdy in place. The Mynci stood back up and dusted off his back.
"Are you alright?"
"Yeah, thanks, Mister." The Mynci readjusted his goggles and stretched out his arms.
"Call me PJ. Are you really okay?" The Lupe glided around the Mynci, making sure nothing was broken.
"Uh-huh. I am built strong like my Pops. He can lift steel girders twice his weight," gloated the young Mynci. He then stared down at his toes for a moment with his hands clasped behind his back. "Thank you, miste—PJ for taking time—"
Panic grew inside of the Lupe once again. His neck swiftly craned towards the Town Hall's clock and gasped.
"I'm sorry, but I have to run." Polarjet aimed for the street leading to the SMELT facility and darted in the direction.
"But PJ, your—" the Mynci held his breath after seeing the Lupe already several meters away.
Polarjet crashed the double doors of the factory wide open and scampered towards the service window. His scurrying paws pitter-pattered on the linoleum floor like crackling of freshly-ignited charcoal. Polarjet abruptly plopped to the ground with heavy heaving. The Mynci engineer heard the panting and disengaged his iron press to attend to the customer.
"This is the SMELT facility, how may I help you?" politely asked the green Mynci. He was surprised to see no one at the window. Confused, he peeped his head over the counter and saw a collapsed Lupe on the floor. "Are you okay, mate?"
"Give me a second to catch my breath," panted Polarjet as he rolled onto his paws. "I would like to put in a request for custom parts. Here are the blueprints."
Polarjet reached for the backpack, but a cold sweat rolled down his temple. He patted his back repeatedly until he was sure that there was nothing there.
"Um. I'll be right back. I have to get my blueprints from the town square," said the Lupe before pointing his nose for the door.
"Wait! I'm sorry, but we're no longer accepting requests for the meantime," said the Mynci engineer as he slid off his goggles to reveal two large bronze eyes the with the same incandescent luster as the cooling metal. "My son sent in a huge request. I received a neomail a few moments ago from a lightning fast Robot Weewoo network with the blueprint and everything. This job will take me at least a few days. Please try again next week."
Polarjet was still hyperventilating from the run, but upon hearing the announcement his ears drooped.
"Thank you, anyway," said Polarjet as his head sank towards the floor. The Lupe, a bit indented, staggered to the exit.
At the door, Polarjet heard several knocks. He pushed one door open and saw the little Mynci with his cart of steam tanks cheerfully smiling upon seeing a new friend. The Lupe was surprised to meet him again and took an extra second to realize that both doors needed to be opened for him to pass through. The Lupe arched over the cart and opened the doors wide enough for the Mynci and his cart to get inside the factory.
"Thank you again. You seem to be helping me a lot today," chuckled the little Mynci as he entered rolled the cart underneath Polarjet.
"Hey Dad! Here's the steam you wanted," cheered the small Neopet. "Did you get the blueprints I sent you?"
"Yep. They're in the works right now and should be done in about three days," said the Mynci engineer as he was reviewing his notepad for the queue of projects. "You can wheel the tanks into the work room."
Polarjet became suspicious. He peered into the the service window for a moment and saw his blueprints unrolled on a work bench. His heart began to race for a moment. His jaw dropped and his shoulders relaxed.
The small Mynci reemerged from the "Employees Only" door with a familiar Explorer Backpack.
"You left this behind at the town square. I figured you needed the blue prints processed," giggled the small Mynci. "My name is Bolton Smelt and my father there, he runs this factory."
The Lupe remained dumbfounded.
"Close your mouth or all the steam will get in," chuckled the young Mynci.
Polarjet's gaping mouth slowly formed a smile.