To anyone who wasn't a member of the Defenders of Neopia, the walled house in front of me looked just like any other wealthy merchant's home. But the guards at the door, not to mention the well-dressed Neopets showing passes to them, marked the house as something more. It was an exclusive club where wealthy Neopets in Sakhmet went to relax and enjoy themselves.
As BG and I watched the entrance to the club from our hiding place in the shadows, I thought back to what Judge Hog had told us.
"We believe the club is frequented by a couple of crime lords," he had said in the mission briefing. "We want you to get in there, plant a listening device, and get out again. We've got one operative inside to help you with the minor details."
So that was the plan.
I looked up at BG, who was studying the guards. He didn't look any different to me, but my guardian Light Faerie, Kouren, had cast illusion spells over the two of us. To anyone else, he looked like a totally different human. To anyone other than him, I looked like a totally different Uni. Which was good, as my unique Speckled pattern and dragon wings would have given me away no matter how well I disguised myself.
"Get your bow ready, Urasina," he said quietly to me. "Tranquilize the guards."
"Judge Hog didn't give you any passes to get in?" I asked, a bit surprised.
"Nope, he didn't," he answered. "We'll loot some from the guards. Then we find the other operative and trade them for VIP passes to get into the club itself."
I nodded and pulled my archery bow out from under my cloak. With just a thought, an arrow tipped with a weak sedative appeared on the string. I fired at the first guard, then promptly summoned another arrow and fired at the second.
It worked. Both guards crumpled to the ground, sound asleep.
"No one else in sight. Let's get inside," my owner said.
We left our hiding places and BG sat the sleeping guards up against the wall, making it look like they were still awake. Then he rifled through one guard's pockets, quickly producing two club passes.
"We're in," I said quietly. "Here, BG, you hold onto this."
I handed him my bow, and he hid it in one of the many secret compartments of his slate-grey cloak. Then we headed through the gate and into the courtyard.
At first glance, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. There were several tables with food and drinks, a bunch of Shenkuu paper lanterns hung overhead, and another door into the main building that was also guarded. There were also several Neopets hanging around in the courtyard, so tranquilizing the guards wouldn't get us anywhere.
Without saying a word, BG headed over to one of the drink tables. But he didn't get anything to drink. Instead, he looked at one of the lanterns hanging nearby. It was extinguished, unlike all the others. With a nod, he pulled a matchbox out of one pocket of his cloak and lit that lamp.
Only a few seconds later, a Shadow Acara wrapped in a dark cloak came out of the main building and approached us. But she stopped several feet away and pulled her cloak back a bit so we could see her front paws. She had a red glove on the left paw, and a white one on the right.
I smiled at her and pulled my own cloak back. BG had painted my left front hoof red, and my right front hoof white. Upon seeing that, she hurried over.
"I'll take your passes, guys," she said quietly.
BG handed them over, and the Acara gave him the VIP passes.
"Any specifics as to where to plant the listening device?" I asked her.
"Take a seat at the black table in the middle of the room," the Acara answered. "BG, make sure you sit in the chair on the right when you're facing the stage. The holder for the listening device is attached to the underside of the table, and you can reach it easily from that chair."
"OK, got it," my owner replied. "Get back to your post, lest the Neopets here get suspicious."
The Acara nodded and headed back indoors, showing the guards her pass as she went. Then we followed her.
"Passes, please," said one guard in a tired voice. He was clearly sick of his job.
BG showed him our passes, and he waved us inside.
Inside the building was one large and VERY ornately-decorated room. Several tables, each of different colors, filled the bulk of the space. A snack counter was along one part of the back wall, and the whole front of the room was a dancers' stage where several belly dancers were performing.
Surprisingly, there were very few Neopets in the room. And the black table was not being used.
BG and I took our seats, then pretended to be watching the dancers. I could see the look of annoyance on my owner's face at the outfits some of them were wearing. Neither of us liked revealing or immodest outfits.
After a couple of minutes, BG reached into his cloak and pulled out a pencil-shaped device. Then, without taking his eyes off the dancers, he slowly reached under the table and began to feel around for the holder clip. It took him longer than I would have liked, but finally I saw the glint in his eyes that meant "I got this." Then I heard a faint clicking sound.
"In and on," he whispered to me.
"Should we go?" I asked.
"No, we need to stay a little bit longer to ensure we don't raise any suspicion," he answered.
With that, he pulled a deck of cards out from under his cloak.
"BlackJack? You're on," I said as he dealt the cards.
I have an unnaturally lucky streak at BlackJack. Even though BG and I never play with actual Neopoints, I still win most of the time. And this was no exception.
The dancers finished up their routine and came off the stage to mingle with the crowd. One female Lupe approached our table, but when BG and I both glared at her, she shrugged and moved along. Another few hands of BlackJack, and my owner packed up the cards.
"We're out of here," he whispered to me.
The guards gave us no trouble as we left. The operation was a success.
About a week later, Lightning Lenny dropped by our Neohome.
"Thank you both so much for carrying out this operation," he said to BG and me. "We've gotten some information from the listening device you planted, and from our operative. But it seems that the club isn't being used by criminals after all."
"Did you at least get some kind of useful information?" I asked.
"We've got a lot of recordings yet to go through, but so far, nothing vital," he answered. "There was one thing, though, but I'm not cleared to discuss it right now. We'll be in touch if there are any further developments."
Once Lightning Lenny had left, BG and I looked at each other.
"I wonder what came up in the recordings?" I asked.
"Any number of things, I'm sure," my owner replied. "That club looked like the kind of place where loose lips could be found."
"Now that we have those VIP passes, we should go back and do our own brand of covert operations," I suggested innocently. "Get some of that 'information' for ourselves, maybe plant a link mechanism so Ming's scrying device would be able to see into the club, things like that."
BG shook his head, smiling.
"Maybe," was all he said.
I giggled again and hugged him. Whether we went back or not, and whether the Defenders got any valuable information or not, doing our part to help keep crime under control was always worth it.