The Infamous Shadow Usul
She looked around the empty museum and silently made her way to the middle where the Spirit Bottle sat perched on a red velvet pillow. The museum's security was good but not good enough. She threw Exploding Powder in front of her. Red lines appeared and then disintegrated in a matter of seconds. She snickered silently as she crept toward the now vulnerable treasure.
"You are mine now," she whispered to herself. She left a note on the plush pillow, making sure that everyone in Neopia knew she did this; she was the mastermind. And just as swiftly as she came, she was gone.
Tiff, the Striped Kacheek, usually woke up at 8 A.M. to get ready and go to work. However, it was only 4 o'clock in the morning, but she was already hustling herself to the Neopian Museum. She had received a distress call from Shannon, the Defenders HQ's secretary. Shannon didn't tell her anything except that she is needed at the museum immediately.
"This better be of 'utmost importance' as Shan had said in the neomail, or I am seriously going to have a fit," Tiff muttered, putting on some work clothes. She was usually more excited about cases, but she didn't exactly know what kind of mission this was since Shannon had been vague. And Tiff hated nothing more than getting up earlier than she absolutely needed to.
As soon as Tiff got to the museum, she was greeted by the museum guard.
"Name's Macky," the guard said with pride. "My deputy was on guard last night. Said he didn't hear nothin'. Anyway, the Spirit Bottle was stolen. The thief left this note for us to find."
"Agent Tiff from the Defenders HQ," Tiff said, shaking Macky's hand.
Tiff took one look at the note and knew who was behind this. It read: 'You still won't catch me. –S.U.'
"S.U.?" Macky asked, peering over Tiff's shoulder.
"Shadow Usul. She strikes every now and then, always trying to prove to heavens knows who that she can't be caught because she's 'invisible'," Tiff said, regarding the note with disdain.
"Well, isn't she? I mean, no one can actually see her." Macky frowned. "I've never really heard anyone who has seen her. Everyone claims they have but they're just lying. She blends in everywhere."
"I know, but she's been taunting the Defenders HQ for a very long time," Tiff said as Macky led her inside the museum. "She makes sure people know that she's just here lurking about. I've been pursuing her for a few years now and I still haven't had any luck."
There were already a lot of Neopets milling around at the scene of the crime. Macky told her to proceed to the middle of the room where the Spirit Bottle was stored. Almost everyone was in uniform except for a Blue Aisha who was walking around leisurely, as if it was just another day in Neopia Central.
"Excuse me." Tiff approached the Aisha. "You're not allowed in here today, there's an ongoing case. Please vacate the premises now."
"I'm sorry, you are...?" The Blue Aisha looked at her with a calm that angered Tiff.
"I'm Agent Tiff from the Defenders HQ," Tiff said, irritated that he would question her presence.
"We have a lot in common, you and I," he said with a smirk. "Not only are we both proud, we are also—"
"We have nothing in common. Now, please leave before I ask one of the guards to escort you out."
"I was just going to say that we're part of the same team." He flashed her a wide grin. "I'm Agent Colin, ALSO from the Defenders HQ. We're going to be working on this case together."
Tiff stared at him, a bit embarrassed. "Shannon did not inform me that I would be working with a partner. I'll neomail her now to confirm."
After a minute-long conversation with Shannon, Tiff sulked back to where Colin was standing.
"Has the air been cleared?"
"Yes, I apologize," Tiff said with much effort. "I didn't know about it at all. Are you up to date on what's going on?"
"Actually, I am. Follow me."
The pair walked to the center of the room where the velvet pillow sat empty. "The Spirit Bottle was stolen at 2 A.M. The guard who was on watch apparently fell asleep. He went around the museum to do his check at 3 A.M. and only then did he notice that the Spirit Bottle was gone."
"It's one of the most prized possessions of the museum. I'm sure it had the most security. How did she get through all of it?"
"Well, we found traces of Exploding Powder on the floor. Of course, no one would have guessed that it would be an effective tool to destroy alarm lasers," he said, almost to himself. "How do we find someone who no one's even seen?"
"That's exactly what she's trying to point out, though," Tiff said. "She can do anything and everything she wanted because she knows she can't be caught. The more blaring question that's been on my mind the moment I found out that she stole the Spirit Bottle is what's she going to use it for?"
As if on cue, Macky came running toward them with a worried look on his face. "Someone saw her!"
"Where?" Tiff said, urgently. Whatever anyone said, she was determined to finally catch the Shadow Usul and put her behind bars. Enough was enough.
"At the bank! And she's asked for you, Agent Tiff, by name."
Tiff and Colin hurried to the bank as soon as it escaped Macky's mouth. There were a few bystanders lingering at the bank's entrance. They burst through the double doors and saw immediately what the fuss was about. The Shadow Usul was sitting comfortably on a chair in front of the bank's first window.
"Hello, I've been expecting you." The Shadow Usul smiled coyly. "We have lots and lots to talk about. Sit down, go ahead."
"What do you want?" Tiff asked warily as she sat down. More Neopets were starting to gather at the bank's entrance. There were now three guards standing in front, preventing anyone to go in."
"Well, the better question would be what do I not want?" The Shadow Usul laughed fiercely.
"Anyway, let's not get into technicalities. I know who you are, Agent Tiff. You've been on my tail for a while now."
"Yes, I have been. You were always one step ahead," Tiff said, narrowing her eyes. "I should put you to jail right now. You've stolen more than enough."
"I wouldn't try to come near me if I were you," the Usul said. "I've put traps in and around this bank."
"You—what?" Colin's eyes widened with shock. "You might seriously injure innocent Neopets!"
"Meh—I don't really care," she replied with a bored voice. "You know, you're not really relevant here. Maybe you'd like to go out and buy an ice cream or something."
"He stays with me," Tiff said cautiously. "If you want to talk to me, you talk to him as well."
"Fine, fine. He can stay," the Shadow Usul said, sitting more attentively on her seat now. "I've come to make a deal with you."
"And what deal would this be?"
"Let's face it, you'll never catch me unless I let you. We're not growing any younger and I'm quite tired of this cat and mouse chase."
"Well then, what do you want?" Colin stood from his seat so fast that his chair upturned.
"Okay then, I'll cut to the chase. I want one more item. Give it to me and I'll stop stealing."
"Well, what is that?" Tiff was standing now too. She didn't like the idea of bargaining with thieves, but did she have a choice? It seemed like she didn't.
"What's your plan?" Colin asked angrily, mostly because he didn't really have anything to say.
"I want a Pirate Draik Egg and I want it today."
"That's absurd! Pirate Draik Eggs are very hard to come by, almost impossible!" Tiff said, almost shouting.
"Since you're going to give in anyway, I'll tell you my plan. I'm going to patiently wait for the egg to hatch and give the Spirit Bottle to my pet. He or she, whatever, will use it to create chaos in Neopia Central just enough for the Defenders HQ to go crazy. That will be my final work, my masterpiece!"
"That's insane," Colin said.
Colin and the Shadow Usul were suddenly in a heated argument. She had lost her composure the moment Colin said that she was worthless. It was clear that she was offended.
Tiff took a step forward. Nothing happened. Another step. Again, nothing happened. She paced back and forth. Nothing happened. Then it hit her.
Tiff lunged at the Shadow Usul and pinned her to the ground. "There aren't any traps, are there? You just said that so we won't arrest you."
The Shadow Usul tried to wiggle her way out from under Tiff but it was too late. She had already cuffed her and Colin was right in front of her, leaving her no space to move. "I will escape and I will get that egg, with or without your help."
Tiff slumped on her office chair, sighing loudly. It was a long day. They had to drag the Shadow Usul to the jail and it took a lot of effort. She was screaming and scratching all the way to the precinct.
"Hey, good job," Colin said at the door. "I wouldn't have been able to do this without you. I never thought of approaching her."
"Yeah, you too." Tiff smiled at him. "You know what, I don't even want to talk about her anymore. Let's grab a bite to eat, partner."
The alarm started to go off at the precinct. Guards were running around the cells.
One of the guards began writing a neomail in a hurry. "Agent Tiff, she's escaped."
Second story to be published in the Neopian Times. Check out my first story for a clear introduction of Agent Tiff. :)