The Issue 200 Mystery
Also by shadowcristal
Cristal the blue Cybunny
walked through the Art Gallery, admiring all the beautiful drawings and renditions
of Neopets that the most artistic Neopians had put on display. It was almost
empty that night, and she could browse easily without getting interrupted or
shoved by eager art buffs.
However, what Cristal didn't count on was actually
bumping into someone - when the Art Gallery in the Deep Catacombs was nearly
deserted. She found herself facing a faerie Acara who was also browsing the
row of exquisite artwork.
"Watch it!" said the newcomer angrily. "You nearly
messed up my fur!"
"Well, I'm sorry!" sighed Cristal. "You don't
have to get all mad and stuff."
Glitter crossed her arms. "I'm not mad... I'm
just... disturbed. You disturbed my peace!"
"I said I'm sorry already," replied the Cybunny
irritably. "Can we just drop the subject?"
But the Acara was no longer looking at Cristal.
She was staring off at something. Scratching her head, the blue Cybunny looked
over at where Glitter seemed to be focused on.
Sure enough, a shadowy figure was creeping around.
It tiptoed silently towards something, and crouched down.
"What's that?" asked Glitter.
"I don't know," replied Cristal. "Let's follow
The two pets snuck up behind the shady stranger
and saw him squeeze into a little hole at a far end of the Deep Catacombs. As
he disappeared, the Acara and Cybunny entered the secret portal as well, in
"Ouch," the Cybunny muttered after a few seconds.
"What is it?" Glitter asked.
"Ehe..." Cristal felt rather stupid as she admitted
honestly, "I bumped my head." She saw that the Acara was about to say something,
and continued, "Anyhow, this seems like a ventilation system or something. It's
pretty narrow and the surface is rather rough."
"Hurry up," the Acara whispered as she pointed
to the mysterious figure. "Or we'll be left here all alone."
"I know," the Cybunny muttered and started crawling.
Following that stranger, the two pets turned
left and right and sometimes forgot to whisper.
"What do you think he or she is doing?" Cristal
asked after an extraordinarily bumpy turn. She didn't like the silence that
hung in the air. Her new acquaintance did not reply, trying to get through a
narrow pass that the Cybunny herself had just squeezed through a few minutes
As they kept crawling and tailing that mysterious
stranger, the Acara noticed that it was getting brighter and brighter. Soon
they heard some noises, and instantly the two pets were aware of the fact that
the stranger had stopped.
"Just a little bit..." Glitter whispered as they
inched forward, trying to get a good look at the stranger while keeping their
A few scratching noises, and the two pets heard
something heavy fall to the ground with a thunk. Glitter and Cristal saw the
stranger crawl out of the tunnel, and stand up.
"There's always light at the end of the tunnel,"
Cristal whispered jokingly as she crept closer to the opening.
"Very funny," the Acara muttered. "Just get out
of here, won't you? My fur is getting more messed up by the second."
The Cybunny didn't say anything as she got out
of the narrow tunnel and stood up. She saw a nice, large dark thing that resembled
a desk and hid behind it. Then Cristal gestured to Glitter to come out, and
the Acara did so.
Sitting behind the desk, the two pets watched
as the stranger walked to a table in the middle of the room. The Cybunny looked
around quickly and saw that there were several desks except for the one they
were hiding behind, and that nice, large table in the middle. An evil giggle
reminded her that there was also a stranger present in the room.
"What..." she heard Glitter gasp. Cristal quickly
turned around, and the two pets watched the stranger take a large pile of paper
from the table.
"He or she is stealing something," the Cybunny
muttered. The Acara was just about to reply when the stranger started walking
back to the tunnel they had crawled through. Horrified, the two pets heard the
culprit coming closer and closer.
Glitter turned around nervously and moved her
tail just out of the way in time. The stranger didn't seem to notice them, as
he (closer up the two pets saw it was a he) passed them and bent down.
Frozen, the two pets heard the thief crawling
in the tunnel. After what seemed like eternity, Cristal uttered some words.
"That was..." she said, still rather shocked.
"We need to catch the culprit and..." Glitter
said, but faltered. They both realized that they didn't even know what the stranger
The clever Cybunny quickly got up and located
a switch, no longer stiff with fear. When the rays of the lamp illuminated the
room, the two pets realized where they were. They were in the Neopian Times
"What did he take?" asked the Acara.
"We better check before anyone else finds us
here," said Cristal. The two crept towards the large table that the stranger
had swiped the papers from. They saw several trays on it, labeled accordingly.
Glitter began to read them. "Issue 197, issue
198, issue 199, issue 200... hey! This thing is empty!"
The Cybunny observed the other trays. "Look,
there are stories and articles from the corresponding issues. And they're..."
"Rough drafts," finished the faerie Acara. "Prints
of the Neopian Times."
"He must have stolen the ones for issue 200!"
Her new companion nodded in agreement. "And unfortunately,
it hasn't been released yet. If we don't get those back, issue 200 won't come
out at all!"
The blue Cybunny shook her head. "And that's
a bad thing!" She paused. "Is it?"
"Well, I don't know, but we should still get
them back," replied Glitter.
"Well, what are we waiting for?" asked Cristal.
"Come on!" She grabbed Glitter's paw and sprinted towards the portal the thief
had used to escape. Squeezing themselves in, the two pets began crawling through
the way they had gotten into the office as fast as they could.
After what seemed like another eternity, the
Cybunny and the Acara emerged once again through the Catacombs. The place was
totally deserted now... there wasn't even a sign of the shadowy stranger.
"Look," said Cristal grimly, pointing at the
floor. There were muddy footprints, leading from the passageway they had emerged
from. "They must be from the culprit who stole the issue 200 prints!"
"Let's follow them," said Glitter. She helped
the blue Cybunny out of the portal and set off, tracking down the mysterious
They passed a few shadows that resembled things
from Neopia Central. Everything looked different at night, and only after she
had passed the weird cylinder-formed thing Cristal realized that it was the
"Why do you think the culprit stole them?" Glitter's
voice startled the Cybunny.
"I don't know," Cristal replied. "I bet he doesn't
have any good intentions, though." She pointed to the tracks that were growing
fainter, but also fresher. "He's losing mud and hopefully we'll catch up to
him before he runs out of it."
The two pets sped up and saw a bridge ahead of
them. The Acara was just about to cross it when they heard a dark voice in the
"M-master!" they heard someone gasp.
"Must be the culprit," the Cybunny muttered and
her companion agreed.
The next few words they could hear from the other
side of the bridge were unmistakably clear. The air suddenly turned could, and
the shadows grew longer in the soft moonlight as that voice sent chills down
the pets spines.
"Good work, minion," the deep voice said.
It took a while before any of the pets could
talk, but a lot of things flashed in each of their minds after hearing that
voice. Glitter was the first one to speak. "That's... Sloth..."
"You mean the chicken-haired green dude from
the Space Station?" Cristal said jokingly. Then she threw a look at the cobblestone
bridge, inched forward and gestured to the Acara to do the same.
"I can't believe it," the Acara mumbled. "What
in the world is Sloth doing here?"
Before any of them could say anymore, they heard
the villain's cold, deep voice pierce the night again. Cristal and Glitter decided
to keep quiet in order to listen to Sloth's plans.
"Those insolent little Neopian Times writers
have irked and infuriated me for so long with their satirical ideas and their
cheesy jokes. Through the years, I have been humiliated, harassed and made fun
of. Now, I will have my revenge, by stealing their precious issue 200 and show
them just how vengeful I can be!" Sloth laughed in triumph, and made the fur
on the Cybunny and Acara's backs stand on end.
"And we will get rid of these prints, right boss?"
asked the shadowy figure they had chased a few moments ago.
The two pets could see the villain nod in the
"Get rid of the NT? Why, I ought to - " Glitter
clenched her paws into fists.
Cristal shushed her. "If Sloth finds out we're
eavesdropping on him and his crazy, cliched plots, he'll get rid of us too!"
"But what about the Neopian Times? My owner loves
"So does mine, but I - OUCH!"
Apparently, Cristal's paw made contact with a
fallen thorny twig on the ground, and it made her cry out in pain. Sloth and
his minion turned around to see what was the source of the sound.
"Now what do we have here?" said Sloth maliciously.
"A poor little pet, eh?"
As the villain extraordinaire just glared at
them, the two pets got a good look at his evil eyes. Surprised at the fact that
Sloth wasn't doing anything to them, Glitter tugged at the twig.
The elastic thorny twig snapped and twisted itself
around Cristal, and the poor Cybunny cried out desperately.
"It would seem like we have more things to get
rid of than just those," the villain said disdainfully. He took out a comb and
brushed his hair as another few snapping sounds cut through the air.
"It's a trap," the Cybunny gasped, but it was
too late. Her companion had already been caught in the thorns. The more they
wriggled and tried to squeeze themselves out of this contraption, the more they
With a few powerful strides, Sloth reached the
two pets. His minion was holding the prints and standing a little bit away.
The villain waved to the minion, and the little
pet crossed the bridge, bearing those valuable papers. A harsh midnight wind
grasped one from the pile, and it flew away. A few seconds later an issue of
Neopian Times 200 landed in the water below.
When the minion had reached Sloth, the green
chicken-haired dude took a deep breath and did something very predictable. He
It wasn't a normal, in-your-face laugh. It was
a gloating laugh, truly evil. As the echoes faded, Sloth glared once again at
the two pets.
"How dare you spy on me, the great Doctor Sloth!"
he exclaimed. "Since you eavesdropped on moi, villain extraordinaire, you shall
feel my wrath!" The way the last word was so clearly and loudly pronounced made
the two little pets shrink and feel more tiny than they ever had in their whole
"That one should be gotten rid of first," said
Sloth to the shady figure and pointed at the Acara.
Glitter gulped. She was scared, trapped with
a villain like this, but a lot more angry than that. Many images of pets and
owners who would be disappointed when they announced that issue 200 was gone
filled her mind. Was this all over now?
"Is this it?" Cristal whispered. Sloth bent closer
and closer, and the two pets wriggled a little. They felt that something was
The villain had reached out one arm to grasp
the pet, but in doing that and leaning too much, he tripped and fell on the
"That is so cliched," muttered Cristal sarcastically.
"Shut up!" Sloth roared, and in that moment some
ropes flew up from the ground and wrapped themselves around the villain. The
two pets could hear noises of springs and wooden blocks being made.
"ARGH!" the villain shouted as he fell to the
ground, caught in another trap.
"Master!" exclaimed the stranger, dropping the
prints of the newspaper and running to aid his master.
The shady minion started forward to attempt to
undo the knots binding his boss. But as he reached out a paw to aid Sloth, his
foot caught on something and soon he found himself caught in another version
of the trap that had claimed his master and the two unexpected visitors.
Cristal felt something binding her loosen slightly.
She wiggled even more, and detected her bonds unravel quite a bit. Seeing this,
Glitter followed suit.
"Are you okay, sir?" asked the culprit, desperately
struggling to break free.
"What do you think, moron?" asked the villain
furiously. "Would you be okay if you were this close to apprehending two snoopy
pets and got caught in a trap that you made with your own two hands?"
Meanwhile, the Cybunny whispered to the Acara,
"I think our traps are slowly coming loose." Her companion nodded, and the two
continued trying to escape. All of a sudden, Glitter's bonds broke, and she
plopped onto the ground. The same thing happened with Cristal.
But before they could jump to their feet and
grab the stolen prints, a strong wind began to blow. The blue Cybunny fought
against the gale, but her efforts were futile. Her faerie Acara acquaintance
decided to take flight and grab the important papers, but the wind was too turbulent
for her to even fly and defy the current.
The moving air caught up with the prints, and
lifted them up, rippling in the night sky. Cristal and Glitter tried and tried,
yet no matter what they did, the wind seemed to be on Sloth's side. It carried
the papers of issue 200 to a nearby river, depositing them there.
Although the gusts had slowed down considerably,
the submerged prints were now quite soaked. The two pets were finally able to
walk against the breeze and arrive at the riverbank, but when the faerie Acara
picked up one sheet by the corner, she saw that the writing had gone blurry
and smudged, and the whole thing was dripping.
"No," whispered Cristal sadly.
"It can't... be," added Glitter in the same depressed
tone. The two pets looked on at all the prints scattered throughout the river,
resembling the one that the Acara had fished out a moment ago.
"Yes... yes," said Sloth evilly, grinning despite
the fact that he was trapped. "Issue 200 has been eliminated. Sometimes in the
strangest twists of fate do your plots work out."
"W-what do we do now?" Cristal's voice was filled
with doubt as she held up one of the wet prints. "There is no way..."
"Master!" the culprit exclaimed, and the two
pets whirled around to see Sloth being set free. They watched in silence as
he stood up, with that evil wind of fate blowing around him and did something
Sloth gave another deep laugh, before he grasped
his companion. "You two snoops lose!" He looked at them for a second, as if
he was pondering about something.
"Master?" the stranger asked.
"We'd better leave. I need my beauty sleep."
With that, the villain turned around and started to leave. Glitter and Cristal
just stood there in shock, unable to stop Sloth.
They watched as his ship flew away, and then
it dawned on them.
"What do we do now?" the Cybunny asked again,
her voice a little bit stronger this time.
"I... I guess we'll..." the Acara gulped, "...
have to fix this."
"How?" Cristal asked. "My owner said that the
issue 200 is supposed to be out by tomorrow!"
"I don't know," Glitter said angrily. "It was
his fault, and he just escaped." She gestured at the place where Sloth had been
bound just a few minutes ago. "He is the one responsible for this mess. We just
"That doesn't matter now," the Cybunny said.
"The point is, we have to do something. And it better be soon."
"Well, what do you want me to do?" the Acara
"I..." Cristal faltered, looking at the soaked
prints in the river. Then she looked around the badly illuminated area, at all
the NeoHomes which contained owners and pets who would be so disappointed tomorrow...
"It has to be published somehow," the Cybunny
suddenly said determinedly.
"How?" Glitter asked. "It's not like we can manage
a typewriter..." Then she got an idea. "I know what we can do..."
"Thinking the same thing?" Cristal smiled.
"Let's get going, we don't have a lot of time,"
the Acara said, grabbing her companion's paw. Together they started running,
as two hundred stars twinkled at the same time in the broad, indifferent black
sky above them.
* * *
"Kat? It's me, Shadow!"
A black-haired girl opened the door of her Neohome
and saw one of her good friends standing there, with a blue Cybunny at her side.
"Cristal!" squealed the faerie Acara, who had
wandered over to see who was the visitor.
Cristal smiled and waved back at Glitter. Suddenly,
the event that had transpired last night came back to the two pets, and they
glanced at their owners - especially Shadow, who was clutching the Neopian Times
in one hand and pointing with the other. Kat was giggling, and soon the girls
sat themselves on the sofa in the living room.
"Should we... tell them?" asked Glitter nervously.
Before her new friend could answer, they heard
their owners react to the 200th issue of the NT.
"Is this REALLY issue 200?"
"I don't know what just happened... but I'm sure
there was SOMETHING that happened... oh heck, I don't know what to say."
Trading a half-anxious, half-amused look, Cristal
and Glitter just grinned at their little secret.