One Thousand Neopoints
“Well, here it is. The National Neopian Bank.”
The yellow Eyrie grinned up at the massive white pillars marking the entrance to Neopia’s largest, most luxurious, most secure – and, well, only – bank. His grey eyes glinting with mischief, he turned to face the two blue Lupes standing to his left.
“It’s the home of billions of neopoints. Billions! Can you imagine all of the fun we could have with billions of neopoints?” the Eyrie said, apparently lost in a trance-like state at the thought.
“Okay, James, you’re weirding me out,” the female Lupe, Sasha, commented before turning to her twin. “Talk about a future as Neopia’s most wanted!”
The second blue Lupe, Erik, couldn’t help but laugh. “Yeah, really. C’mon, James,” he called to the Eyrie. “Let’s keep going! We’ll never get to the book shop at this rate.”
“Oh, calm down, you two!” James muttered with frustration. “I was only kidding!”
“Yeah, sure,” Sasha said, rolling her big blue eyes.
“Aw, leave him alone, Sash,” Erik teased. “It’s not like he could actually rob a bank!”
Suddenly – and rather defensively – James wheeled around to glare at them. “Yes, I could! Take that back, Erik!” he snapped. Then, after receiving two weird looks from the twin Lupes, he sighed. “I mean, I could if I really wanted to.”
“Oh really now?” Sasha said playfully. “I doubt that.”
“Is that a challenge?” James said, narrowing his eyes at her and looking at her from down his sharp beak. He could look pretty darn scary when he wanted to – all of that training at the Battledome he’d been doing recently had really been paying off.
“You know what? It is a challenge!” Sasha declared, using her ‘yes, this is official’ voice.
“Guys, this isn’t a good idea. At all,” Erik whined nervously, his previously wagging tail falling between his legs in worry. Sasha kept on speaking, though, pretending that she’d never heard her brother’s voice.
“I dare you to sneak into the National Neopian tonight, at midnight, and steal one thousand neopoints.” She grinned, showing off her canine teeth.
“Fine! I’ll do it! I’m no chicken!” James said tauntingly, clicking his beak together in anger. “I’ll take the money, and I’ll be out of there in no time. Easy-peasy!” He turned to look over at Erik, who was so nervous he was practically shaking. “Oh pull yourself together!” James groaned, shaking his head with frustration before turning and walking away. Just before the two Lupes were out of earshot, he called over his shoulder to them. “Meet me at my neohome tomorrow morning at seven. And don’t be late!”
Erik finally got himself together just in time to make a quick retort: “Yeah, yeah, public enemy number one!”
As soon as James got home, he began to rummage through his wardrobe for something to wear. Something black. Something he could wear to blend into the night and slip past those huge green Grarrl security guards he’d seen standing near the National Neopian’s vault. He managed to find something dark coloured and pulled it out of the wardrobe, his paws shaking nervously as he did so. Realizing that it was a black dress, James groaned and acknowledged the fact, begrudgingly, that it would have to do.
Pulling the dress over his head – after spending ten minutes figuring out where his head went – he couldn’t help but grin. Not because he was wearing a dress, though Erik and Sasha would’ve found that funny. He was grinning because he felt good. He was excited to try his hand at robbery, as horrible as that sounded. He’d always been the kind of Eyrie who craved danger, and mystery, and adventure. This would be an experience full of all three of those things, which made him excited and terrified all at once.
Pacing around his house for the better part of several hours, James waited until nightfall – midnight, to be precise – before sneaking out of the house. Luckily, James was an only pet, so nobody would hear him leave.
Hurrying down the sidewalk, James ran the four and a half blocks from his house to the National Neopian. Once there, he stared up at its huge white pillars just as he had that afternoon. Taking slow but significant steps up the stairs to the door, James made himself take deep breaths to calm his nerves. He reached a hand out to pull the door open before realizing that he’d have to find another way in – the door would be locked! Smacking himself in the forehead for not fully thinking his breaking-and-entering plan through, he quickly turned to face the large window on his right. He would have to smash through it to get inside. Again, his Battledome training had really become useful.
James raised a trembling paw up behind his head and readied himself to punch it through the glass. He’d count himself down. “Three,” he whispered to himself. “Two.” He took one more deep breath for good measure. “One.”
The window in front of him smashed into hundreds of tiny pieces, and the glass shards flew everywhere, one nicking him in his still raised fist.
Hold on a second – if James still had his fist in the air, behind his head, than how had the window broken?
Before James had any more time to think about it, a dark shadow leapt out of the window, landed beside James, and turned to hiss at him.
James took three fast steps backwards and tried to survey this shadow more closely. A dark outline... was that a tail? And purple fur around the neck... James took a steadying breath in as he realized who stood in front of him now. He whispered the words aloud, and was surprised to see that his voice didn’t waver with the fear that had sunk over him like a veil. “The Shadow Usul.”
As if proving that he was correct, the shadow hissed at him again, this time carrying the soft sound of a female voice. “How do you know who I am?”
James opened his beak to answer before being rudely interrupted by a swift punch in the jaw. Yelping with surprise, he stepped back and shook his head to clear his senses before launching himself at the Shadow Usul.
He tore at her with his claws, and she kept the swift punches coming. After a minute of fighting, James had her pinned. Looking down at her dark face, James realized how beautiful she really was, and was amazed that he had managed to defeat her.
The sound of hurried footsteps tore James’ eyes away from the Usul. Judge Hog, the leader of the Defenders of Neopia, was running up the stairs to the bank.
“My, you’ve done it!” he called. “You’ve caught the Shadow Usul!” Several other Defenders hurried up the stairs behind him, and James let go of the thief he’d caught to allow them to carry her away. “We’ve been hunting her for years! We’d just received a call saying that she’d been sighted earlier this evening, and we figured she’d make an appearance here sometime tonight. How did you know she’d be here?”
“Er...” James paused. “Lucky guess?” he tried.
Judge Hog laughed. “Lucky indeed! Nice work, son!”
James suddenly felt very glad that it was much too dark for anyone to notice he was wearing a dress.
“Come by our headquarters tomorrow,” Judge Hog told him. “We’ll give you a formal thanking and reward then. For now, however,” he paused, reaching a hand into the pocket of his uniform, “how does one thousand neopoints sound?”
James couldn’t help but laugh. “It sounds great, sir. Thank you.” Judge Hog handed him the money, and he slipped it into the pocket of his dress.
“Excellent. We really should be off now.” He nodded towards the Defenders holding onto the Shadow Usul.
“Of course. See you tomorrow, sir,” James said, grinning and nodding.
“Again, nice work, son.” Judge Hog gave James a friendly pat on the shoulder.
“I’m glad I could help,” James said, watching the Defenders disappear into the darkness again. He pulled the black dress he was wearing off and carried it all the way back home. Once he arrived, he pulled the money out of the pocket and put it on the table beside his bed. He put the dress away and, tired and excited, he climbed into bed and fell asleep.
Erik and Sasha sat on the big blue couch in James’ living room, shock plain on their faces.
“And you caught-”
“And Judge Hog-”
“Pretty hard to believe, I know,” James laughed. “Anyways, I’ve decided that a life of crime isn’t for me. Heroism is my thing now.”
“But what about the money?” Sasha asked.
“And the adventure?” Erik added questioningly. “We thought you loved that stuff!”
“I do!” James said quickly. “The thing is, heroism has even more adventure – fighting the bad guys, saving the innocent people, et cetera. And, as for the pay,” he pulled the one thousand neopoints out of his pocket and set them on the coffee table in front of the couch where Erik and Sasha were sitting. “The pay’s the exact same.”
James started to laugh at the surprised looks on their faces, and the twin Lupes couldn’t help but join in.
This is my first story, and I might use these characters in future stories depending on how well this one does!