Author Note: Written for Neopian Times Collab #12, Sidekicks and Partners. Italics are Peter's thoughts.
Hello there, Neopian Times readership of JUSTICE! Have you come to this article hoping to learn about SIDEKICKS?
Strap yourself in, young heroes, and bring lots of snacks, because you're in for a barrage of nonstop action. For I, Peter the Petpet Rights Hero and my ever-faithful sidekick, Undercover Usul, shall teach you the mystifying ways of the heroic partner. Look at the way I'm wiggling my fingers inexplicably in front of the screen—well, in front of my screen—while making ghostly noises. See? Mysteeeeerious.
But first! Before we begin our boisterous banter, I must first wait for my friend to heroically end her 9-5 job of bibliophilic brilliance. Fear not, young citizens, for she is saving Neopia from the irredeemable ilk of illiteracy.
In the meantime, let us talk about what a sidekick is.
All heroic types need someone to back us up—someone whose head is filled with thoughts of goodness and unwavering morality. When I'm filled with a sense of Petpet-themed JUSTICE, I want someone next to me who can keep my heart pure, who can keep the bad guys at bay, and who can look cool while doing so. That last part is especially important, my friends. If you look uncool, the Petpets are certain to look the other way. They're very sensitive to color and texture stimuli, after all. Same with the toy companies. All those bigwigs, my parents included, really do love a marketable unit…
Ehem. But enough of that!
More than anything, perhaps most importantly of all, a sidekick is someone who will always—
Lillian: Hi, Peter!
Peter: Always come at the perfect moment to save the day.
Lillian: Aw… well, I don't know about that…
Peter: Sure, you do! Your timing is impeccable, Miss Usul, or should I say "Undercover Usul?" Secret identity and all that.
Lillian: You can call me "Lillian," Peter, it's fine. Do you want me to use your real name too, J—
Peter: No, no, can't have that. One must stay loyal to one's brand, you know!
Lillian: If you say so…
And just like that, a splash of golden sun is flooding my work room. A good sidekick always knows how to brighten the day of their partners. Now if the sun could stop bouncing off the screeeeen—perfect. The door is now shut. Thank you, Sidekick. Now, back to business.
Peter: Behold! The dashing hero clad in tomato-red and his enigmatic friend, the aquamarine Cybunny with indigo cape. Together our color palettes scream into the eyes of those who gaze upon us.
Lillian: Especially your costume. They can hardly tear their eyes away.
Peter: And why would they? No Neopian can doubt the brilliance of tomato-red, coupled perfectly with banana yellow and purple socks.
Look at my sidekick, how she nods sagely to this realization. You see, dear readers, when I first met Lillian, her adorable Darigan Angelpuss, Scruffles, would cause all kinds of mischief. When I came in—announcing triumphantly my arrival—I calmed the critter down with understanding, gifts to rekindle nostalgia, and my fancy footwear.
Yes, my fair readers, socks make the costume in the eyes of an impressionable Petpet. We, after all, are far bigger than these infinite bundles of energy. What will their eyes gaze upon when you step beside them? Your footwear. And pay close attention to the orientation of these socks. See how my hind paws have been covered: purple on left, yellow on right. Look for yourself how they change on my Undercover Usul friend!
Lillian: I may have forgotten to bring my bright socks. The library has a strict dress code and—
Peter: Say it ain't so?!
Lillian: Yup. It's so.
Lillian: Did you really just shout, "gasp?" While posing dramatically?
But as an ever-ready hero in this world of chaos, I am always prepared. As heroes-in-training, take special note. Keep a cabinet ready. See how my paw reaches into a drawer and removes a spare pair of socks? Yes, behold the brightness. Always carry a spare for your sidekicks just in case. Without your foresight, it could mean a mis-matched uniform or worse, a complete Petpet rejection.
Lillian: Alright, alright, I'm putting them on now. See? Good to go.
Peter: Disaster has been averted. Look now upon her feet, yellow sock on the left, purple on the right. A perfect pair we are.
Lillian: But shouldn't we, ya know, talk more about what a sidekick is, how one can become a sidekick, that sort of thing?
Peter: A most excellent idea, Sidekick!
Lillian: Thanks, I try.
It's true. She tries a great deal. Such a fantastic sidekick she is.
Peter: Let's start with the how-tos and work from there, shall we?
Lillian: Let's shall.
Peter: Imagine yourself, an impressionable young Neopian who seeks GOODNESS AND JUSTICE in the world.
Lillian: Peter, are the caps really necess—
Peter: And as a pursuer of good, you investigate the Defenders! But wait, what is this? They require prior hero experience? But where are you, an excitable novice, to obtain such experience?
Lillian: Oh hey, I know!
Peter: Do you, trusted partner?
Lillian: You volunteer as a sidekick and learn the ropes. By seeing for yourself how heroes do their work, you can develop your own style. Pick apart the things that work and don't work for you and go from there. And don't be afraid to do some research at your local library first. There are countless books detailing the lives and times of our Neopian greats. Personally, I've been learning a lot from Peter. He's a bit eccentric sometimes, but his love of Petpets and creative tinkering is really something to behold.
Her words bring such joy to my heart that I shed a tear. I am such a lucky Lupe.
Lillian: You alright, Peter? You're crying a river!
Peter: They're heroic tears, Lillian, heroic! Look at how my eyes gleam with joy!
Lillian: Er… Whatever works for you?
Peter: It does. It always does.
Lillian: And after a few years of sidekicking—or less, if you have an aptitude for solo work—you can become a full-fledged hero. Actually… speaking of, where did you volunteer, Peter?
Peter: Where did I volunteer? W-where indeed. Yes, well, it's a fascinating tale, really.
Lillian: Is it? Do tell.
Peter: But I fear it might bore my patient readers. We wouldn't want to drive them away with the prattling of a wealthy toy-maker's son. A son who has tried for years to reject a fated acquisition of a family property in lieu of a happier, more noble pursuit of heroism…
Lillian: Um… hm. Seems I struck a chord.
Peter: A sharp major, if you will.
Lillian: Noted. So why don't we just skip right along to the next topic…
It is in this moment that I feel a twang of regret. Unlike most in my profession, I sought to be a hero on my own terms. Without the aid of another, I made my dashing costume, created tricks of the trade, and set out to bring goodness to the world. It is through these escapades that I met Lillian all those years ago.
Most Neopians seek guidance from another, learn their ways from a mentor, but I did not have this luxury. There are a scant few who relish in the idea of being a vigilante, but it is who I am.
Lillian: Uh, Peter? You okay there? You've been staring into space.
Peter: It is a space that only I control. And a place from where I alone shall move.
My sidekick is driven to silence. It seems my enigmatic mind has ensnared her thoughts. I try to find a means to reignite the conversation.
Peter: Shall we regale our audience about the magnificent thingamabobs used for our heroic work?
Lillian: R-right. Let's do that.
Peter: From her costume, gaze upon the utility belt. In these pockets contain a wealth of tools from shiny toys to chewable trinkets and even a few calming concoctions that I've developed myself. You see, every Petpet has a place where its ancestors called home—and in some cases, still call home. If you can harness the aromas, the nostalgic memories of this beloved place, it can calm even the most rambunctious of Petpets.
Such inventions were the result of my toy-maker background. When you spend as many hours as I did, eyes glazing over books and books of consumer sales information… you learn some useful tidbits. Emphasis on some.
Lillian: Peter tends to use these "Memory Orbs" more than I. He has an amazing intuition on the ancestral homes of these domesticated Petpets. I have a collection of toys and trinkets to soothe and distract Petpets when they are raging or unruly. In the case of my Darigan Angelpuss, he used a Darigan water balloon and bubble blower.
Peter: For Darigans, their ancestral land was one of abundant lush forests and meandering rivers. Now the kingdom lives in the dust, longing for the days when their peoples enjoyed the beauties of nature.
Lillian: Where did you learn about all of this, anyway?
Peter: Lots of reading. And beware, Neopian Times readers, the books written by the victors for they show not the struggles of the defeated.
Yes, indeed, a hero's work is never complete without research and dedication. If anything was to be learned by my father's incessant hovering, it was that.
Lillian: As a librarian, I can agree with that. If you're serious about wanting to know more and have a land in mind, learn as much as you possibly can about its history and culture. Few things are worse than a hero without local knowledge. And as a partner, it's your job to keep your hero up to date on the latest research and conflicts for your target area.
Peter: And that you do, my Usul friend!
A flush of red creeps onto her cheeks.
Peter: It's true! Remember the time when that Halloween Huggy caused Petpet panic in the streets of Neopia Central?
Lillian: Yeah! It was hugging everyone and everything in sight—or was trying to, anyway. The second any Neopian saw it rushing towards them, they would bolt away. Must have been the fangs that scared them.
Peter: Even the noble hog dog salesmynci, Hubert, ducked under his cart.
Lillian: But that just made it more upset. It began flying about and latching onto anything that moved. Guess those wings helped with that…
Peter: But it was you who quelled our friend—
Lillian: Both of us, really.
Peter: So modest! You knew of the Huggy's origins as a companion for the Neopian royals of old, and of the plushies that nobles bought to keep their Petpet's energy at bay.
Lillian: It looked so happy when we gave it a friend. That Huggy embraced that Huggy Bear like it would a beloved owner.
Peter: And my memory orb burst with the smells of an old home, the laughter of its children, and the dust of its ancestors. A job well done, my sidekick friend.
Lillian: T-thanks, Peter. But before we go back to work, let's talk about the ways sidekicks and heroes work together to get the job done efficiently.
Peter: A most excellent idea! When I'm in the field, it's important to prioritize the safety of innocent bystanders. A hero that fails to protect Neopians great and small is but a liability!
Lillian: Yup. And I'm often the one herding Neopians out of danger zones, creating barrier areas, and alerting the authorities in the case of an injury or potential damage to property.
Peter: While I tend to be the one directly handling the Petpet. In a few cases, we've had to apprehend a dangerous Petpetnapper together—
Lillian: Where I would set up a trap—
Peter: And I would hold the criminal in place. Of course, Lillian's plenty strong. We've switched roles when I devised a ploy to lure our foe. Lillian's a lot better with the thinkier parts of the partnership, though.
Lillian: I'm a librarian, so I guess it comes naturally. Also, have you ever lifted some of those ancient Meridellian tomes? Those things are basically bricks. The magical ones probably weigh a solid 30 pounds. Lady Borodere sure liked to write a lot…
I for one, can vouch for Lillian's impeccable ability for leadership. It makes me wonder sometimes when she will fledge from our partnership and create a heroic band of her own. How fortunate I've been to have her on my side the past few years. She's a treasure worth more than Neopoints can ever price.
Lillian: Neopia to Peter, are you alright? You're spacing out again.
Peter: I've taken a bright and brilliant trip through the stars of my mind.
Lillian: If you say so… But hey, did you hear that noise? It sounds like a roar from outside.
Some swear that before we start our missions, a huge grin spreads across my face. Nothing brightens the day of a hero than to know that they are needed.
Peter: Wait. You don't think?
Lillian: A rampaging Noil in Neopia Central Square? Let us go from here and save the day!
Peter: Brilliantly said! Up, up and away… for JUSTICE!
But before we do, we hope the EXCITEMENT of our escapades has left you wanting more. If you'd ever like to join along, look in the streets. When a Petpet needs our aid, we'll be there.
Until next time, fledgling heroes!