The Wrong Side of the Law
The future is a scary place.
At least this was the conclusion Siren had come to. The Desert Hissi had been dreading this moment for a long time, and now it had come he was still dreading it.
Siren was well aware of the heavy expectations placed on him. He was from a wealthy family in Neopia, a fact his owner constantly reminded him of. He and his siblings had received the best education and training Neopoints could buy. His older siblings had all gone off into Neopia and made their own way to success. Now, it was time for Siren to do the same.
“Can’t I just stay with you all my life?” Siren complained.
His owner, Christine, laughed. “You could, but that wouldn’t be a very exciting life, would it?”
“But I really don’t know where to go.”
“Well, why don’t you start with your siblings? Maybe paying them a visit would give you an idea.”
“Maybe you’re right.” Siren pretended to agree. In reality, he hated the idea. His siblings all held incredibly stressful jobs, none of which sounded particularly appealing to Siren.
Nevertheless, Siren found himself in the Lost Desert a few days later. He was on his way (or rather, he had been coerced to make his way) to the Royal Palace of Sakhmet, where his brother Warrior worked as a General in the Sakhmet Army. He had landed the job after a long and successful Battledome career, where General Dacon had taken a personal interest in him.
“And people wonder why I’m under a lot of pressure,” Siren muttered to himself.
Still, he liked the Lost Desert. He was painted Desert after all, and he blended right in on the streets of Sakhmet. He had always felt as if he could live in this city permanently if he wanted to. Now, as he made his way through the streets and merchants touting their goods towards the Royal Palace, he began thinking about his predicament.
He had a feeling Christine wanted him to follow in Warrior’s footsteps, if only because they were painted the same colour and he was fairly experienced in the Battledome too. However, unlike Warrior, Siren had always chafed under the rules and concept of the Battledome. He didn’t like the idea of fighting for glory, preferring to fight for himself instead…
Unfortunately, he was so preoccupied pondering that he didn’t realise the bag of Neopoints was gone from his belt until he saw the desert Ruki sprinting away from him.
“Hey!” he yelled. The Ruki didn’t slow down. Immediately, Siren’s Battledome instincts kicked in. He took flight, zooming down the street and effortlessly weaving his way through the crowd towards him. The Ruki was fast, but Siren knew he was much faster.
He had nearly caught up to him when he saw Ruki turn into a narrow alleyway. Siren halted. Maybe it wasn’t the best idea to go in charging after him. Instead, he hovered a distance away and watched as the Ruki slip into an unassuming looking doorway.
Siren stealthily slithered up to the door, which had been left slightly ajar, and peeked in.
Inside was a den of some sorts, comfortably furnished but not extravagantly so. There were a few Neopets inside-a red Cybunny, a yellow Graarl, a pink Zafara, and the desert Ruki.
“Had to make a grand entrance, Tav?” The Zafara addressed the Ruki, who had just burst in.
“I had to get away from a street chase.” The Ruki plopped the bag of Neopoints on the table. “Swiped this from a Hissi on the streets. From the weight of it, it’s a substantial amount.”
Siren cursed silently. He had been carrying at least 10,000 Neopoints in that bag, a fact that the thieves were now discovering as the Ruki emptied it out.
The Zafara whistled sweetly as the Neopoints tumbled out on the table. “risky of you, but you picked the right victim, Tav.”
Siren couldn’t stand it any longer. He burst into the room, all acts of subtlety out the window. “No he did not.” He growled.
The group stood there open-mouthed for a split second. Then, they all attacked at once.
Siren held his ground. These guys may have been thieves, but they were clearly amateurs at fighting. With ease, Siren used his tail to trip all of them up, and they landed in a pile on the floor.
Siren walked up to the table and grabbed his Neopoints. “You might want to be more careful about who you pickpocket.”
“Wait.” The Graarl held his hand up. He was the only one of the group that hadn’t attacked. “What’s your name?”
Siren glared at him. “Who’s asking?”
“That’s a fair point.” The Zafara piped up from the ground. She, the Cybunny and the Ruki were scrambling to get up.
Siren crossed his wings. “Might want to tell your buddy over there to be a little less obvious when pickpocketing people on the street.” He turned for the door. “And choose someone less agile than him.”
“Wait.” The Graarl stopped him. “How did you know you could take all of us in a fight? We outnumber you four to one.”
Siren almost laughed. “You may have numbers, but you guys are clearly amateurs. I could tell when I was chasing your Ruki friend over there, and from your stances.” He started to make way out. “Goodbye.”
“Wait.” The word came again. This time, it was the Zafara that had spoken up. “Merrick, he’s good.”
“I can tell.” The Graarl agreed. “What’s your name son? You already know mine. I’m Merrick.” He gestured to the others in the group. “This is Zina and Rhine, and your pickpocketing friend over there is Tav.”
“Pleasure.” The Ruki muttered. He had landed on the bottom of the pile and looked rather disgruntled.
Siren relaxed a little. “I’m Siren. And from the looks of it, you guys are rogue bandits.”
The Graarl looked slightly offended. “Not just any rogue bandits. We’re rather notorious, if I say so myself. Ever heard of the Desert Scarabs?”
Siren was taken aback. The Desert Scarabs? Of course he had heard of them.
Everyone knew the story of the Desert Scarabs. How their quick thinking had saved Sakhmet from being overtaken by skeletal creatures and how the most famous Desert Scarab of all, Nabile, had saved Sakhmet, almost with her own life.
Merrick noted the look of realisation on Siren’s face. “Yes, you’ve stumbled upon the craftiest band of thieves in Neopia, and one of the most powerful, too.”
Siren put up a guarded expression. “Well okay, you guys are upper class thieves. So what?”
“So what is we’re looking to recruit. The Desert Scarabs could use someone with your skills. How would you like to join us?”
“Join us!” Tav protested. “He just beat three of us in a fight!” Clearly, he still felt miffed after being chased down and tackled.
“All the more reason he’s more than capable to join.” Merrick retorted. ”What do you say? You clearly have the physical capabilities, and you have great potential. Of course, you’d have to go through a training period with us, but it should be a problem for someone like you.”
Siren almost didn’t hear that last comment. His mind was spinning. Him, a thief? He had never considered the option before…it had never been an option. He didn’t need to steal-his family had enough money. His siblings were all in respectable careers. By right, he should be in one too.
Yet, he found he didn’t have the words to refuse the offer.
“I don’t know.” Siren confessed.
Merrick smirked. “You may not get this offer again. We’re an exclusive group, and we take in only the best.”
“You don’t have to decide straightaway.” Rhine hopped up to him. Siren had dismissed the Cybunny at first, but on closer inspection it seemed she was shrewd in her own way. She took out a small glass jar containing a scarab and presented it to Siren. “The scarab is the symbol of our clan-obviously. Innocuous at first, but much more resourceful than you’d think.” She gave it to Siren. “Keep the scarab in the jar if your answer is no. But release it, and we will know your answer is yes, and we will come find you.”
Siren took the jar gingerly. “How will you know where to find me?”
“We have our ways. Though it wouldn’t surprise me if you found us first.” Rhine winked.-
A few days later, Siren found himself pacing the living room of his Neohome.
He had been contemplating the offer from the Desert Scarabs for a few days now. Certainly, the offer was appealing. The adventure and chase, that each day brought something new, that he’d be able to unleash his physical prowess to its full potential. Siren recalled how he had loved the fighting of the Battledome, but despised the rigour of its rules and limitations on opponents. As an outlaw, he’d be able to fight on his own terms. He could experience a life he’d never had before as a privileged pet, living life on the edge and not having to worry about upholding a certain status.
But was he wiling to do it? Was he willing to give up a life of comfort and wealth for a lifetime of adventure?
Siren’s pacing stopped in front of a family photo. He looked at the portraits of his siblings.
Warrior, Shumi, Katan. One a Sakhmet Army General, one a Brightvale scholar, and one a patrol leader in Queen Fyora’s Guard. All successful in their own fields. All on the ‘right’ side of the law.
Siren knew what to do.
He went outside, holding the jar with the precious scarab. Slowly and deliberately, he unscrewed the jar lid. Quick as lightning, the scarab darted forth in the direction of the Lost Desert. Just as quick, Siren took off, following the scarab towards Sakhmet.
It was time for Siren to start leading his own life.