Also by lobstrosities
"It will be very easy! There won't even be anyone there. Don't worry about it! said Voin, a young Yellow Gelert, as his tail whipped around him with frustration. Voin was speaking to his best friend Koro, a quivering Green Kougra.
"Come on, Koro, cheer up," the Gelert added, a little more kindly.
"No, Voin! I don't want to rob the Neopian Bank!" the Green Kougra responded. "That's a... crime!" he added in a whisper.
Voin rolled his eyes impatiently. "Koro, this is our dream we're talking about! You want to live in Altador, don't you?"
"Yes," Koro replied in a small voice.
"You want to buy a NeoMansion, don't you?"
"Yes," Koro said, his voice getting weaker with each response.
"Well, seeing as how we invested all of our neopoints in POWR to fulfill this dream, and POWR just crashed down to five neopoints per share, we don't have a choice. I, at least, do not want to live in Neopia Central forever! We have to do this, Koro."
"But Voin! I don't want to! Please don't make me do this!"
"Koro, if you're my friend, you will have my back. I'm doing this for us, so we can live our dream. So we can see it come true. Why don't you understand that?"
Koro slouched in defeat. As much as he didn't want to rob a bank, he knew a lost cause when he saw one. Once Voin's mind was made up, no force could unmake it.
The clouds were heavy that night, sitting thickly on the horizon and shielding the world from the light of the pale moon. Koro immediately commented on the grim atmosphere and insisted that it was a foreshadowing of their impending doom, but Voin just laughed and insisted that it was "just weather."
"It is the middle of winter, after all," Voin added on, rolling his eyes.
The two Neopets moved like shadows, swiftly through the streets of Neopia Central. Voin moved with experience and confidence, while Koro trembled in his shadow, his mind lingering on all the possible negative outcomes of their mission.
After about fifteen minutes of dashing through the streets and darting behind buildings at the faintest echo of sound, Voin and Koro arrived at the Neopian Bank. The red brick building stood tall and looked menacing in the dark of night. The great white pillars that stood on either end of the door reminded Koro of a prison and sent a shiver down his spine. Just above the door was a statue of a marble hawk with outstretched wings.
"This isn't my idea..." said Koro, in what was barely a whisper. His eyes were at his feet when he spoke, but then he looked up at the hawk. He felt as if the hawk was the bank's guardian, judging each customer with the strength and wisdom of ages.
"Voin..." Koro started to speak.
"Don't start with me, Koro. We've already decided. Just think of Altador and suck it up!"
Koro hung his head and inched closer to the door of the bank.
"Okay," said Voin. "I'm going to disable the alarm. It will only be off for five seconds so we have to be quick!"
Voin took out a bag of tools, approached the door and began to hook up various wires and spin dials. Meanwhile, Koro was getting worse. Although it was, as Voin had pointed out, in the middle of winter, sweat began collecting at Koro's brow. His eyes had a tortured look reflected in them, and although his eyes didn't need words to convey their feelings. If they could speak, they would surely be screaming to better express their agony. Maybe, Koro thought, he could still go home. Maybe it wasn't too late. Was his dream really worth this anyway? Surely no one could rob a bank, let alone the biggest and grandest one in all of Neopia...
A quiet, but clear click interrupted Koro's panic.
"We're in!" said Voin. "Come on, let's move it!"
Voin pushed Koro through the door of the bank and once they were both inside, he closed the door behind them before the alarm could sound. If they hadn't known better, the Neopets would have thought this bank to be a palace. The floor and walls were cold, smooth marble and the windows were stained glass. Although there was no light shining through the windows at the moment, the Neopets imagined that it would be an extraordinary sight during the day, with the light streaming through the coloured windows and shining off the white marble, like a blinding sunrise.
As Voin ushered Koro through the hallway and across the main hall, Koro glanced around fearfully. He noticed several more statues of hawks, their gaze piercing his very soul and chilling his bones. Koro gulped and turned his gaze back down to his feet, avoiding looking at anything that would remind him of where he was and what their intentions were.
Finally, the two Neopets reached the far end of the bank and came to a halt. Koro, still looking at his feet, heard the twisting of a dial and the unraveling of wires, but didn't bother to look up. His thoughts suddenly drifted away from his doom and certain life imprisonment and turned to his mother. What would she think when she saw his name and face plastered all over the morning paper, labeling him as a criminal? The look of her disappointment flooded his mind and soon, it was all he could see. The world began to blur around him and his palms began to sweat fiercely. A small corner of Koro's mind wondered if he was leaving puddles of sweat on the spotless marble floor.
Koro glanced up just as Voin was turning the large knob of the vault. As the door swung open, reality set in for both Neopets.
"We're going to jail!" Koro nearly shouted.
"We're going to Altador!" Voin said, ignoring Koro's comment.
Inside the vault were the dazzling rays of the blinding sun. Despite the darkness, light reflected off of the mountains of gold that awaited them.
"Forget buying a house in Altador! We could just build our own out of gold! Look at all of this! Come on, Koro, help me out! ...Koro?" Voin looked around him, but his friend was gone. He heard light footsteps echoing throughout the bank, the sound of a door being pushed open, and then the deafening shriek of a top-of-the-line alarm.
"He didn't..." Voin muttered. "How could he??" Anger built in his chest, along with a heart-wrenching feeling of betrayal. With the alarm blaring, Voin knew that time was of the essence. Although it pained to do it, and he felt as if he was leaving his dream in the vault, he was forced to leave without the gold. Voin sprinted through the main hall, his echoing footsteps acting like a spotlight for the authorities. As he pushed open the front door to the bank, he found himself face to face with a Green Skeith, the owner of the bank. Before the Skeith could get his bearings and seize the young robber, Voin dove out of sight, behind the Auction House and into the bushes. Then he ran. Like a ghost through the night, he tore though Neopia Central, not leaving a single foot print behind. When the concerned voices of the Neopian authorities died down to nothing but a light voice on the wind, Voin finally stopped to catch his breath.
Voin was crazed with anger. Thoughts of betrayal and revenge bubbled to the surface of his boiling mind and a plan began to brew.
"This is all Koro's fault!" Voin shouted to the heavens. "I had it, didn't I? I almost had the gold in my hand! We had everything under control! But Koro! Our dreams! Gone... Crushed... KORO!!!!!"
Voin balled his hands into fits, as if to grasp his fury for support, but he broke down. He fell to his knees and pounded his fists into the earth, as the thick clouds began to release their burden and rain began to fall from the grey sky. As his yellow fur became stained by the rainwater, Voin both cursed and vowed to the heavens.
"How could Koro have betrayed me??? I thought he was my friend!" he shouted. "I swear I will find him! I will track him down! He is no friend of mine! I will have my revenge!" he vowed.
Lightning flashed overhead, as if binding a contract between Voin and the forces of destiny. He knew that the bank owner had gotten a very good look at his face, so he had to leave soon because they would be out looking for the criminal Yellow Gelert. As soon as he could muster the strength, Voin rose and began to pick up Koro's trail.
Voin spent the night tracing Koro's scent through Neopia, over to Kiko Lake and across the bay over into Brightvale. The whole way, Voin's mind was poisoned with crazed thoughts of revenge and betrayal. In his mind, it was very obvious that Koro had committed the ultimate treachery. As the sun began to peak over the snow-capped mountains to the west, spreading its rays across all of Neopia, Koro's scent led Voin to Altador.
"I can't believe he would have the guts to come here! To our dream town! As if he could survive here with no neopoints! The cost of living is fifty times higher than even Brightvale! And it's his fault that we can't afford it! His fault! All his! Voin shouted out loud to himself.
Suddenly, Voin heard a rattle of boxes down a dark alley that had not yet been touched by the rising sun. Curious, Voin composed himself and approached the spot where the racket had sounded. Before he reached the spot, Koro stepped out of the shadows with his paws raised in defeat.
"Please don't hurt me, Voin! We used to be friends, remember?" Koro said, his voice lightly shaking.
"How dare you even bring that up! You're right, we were friends until you betrayed me! This is your fault, you know! It's because of you that I had to lurk about in the shadows to avoid the authorities. They'll be after me for the rest of my life because of YOU!"
"What you were doing was wrong, Voin! I... I... I was scared. I didn't mean to get you in trouble, I just... panicked," Koro whimpered.
At that moment, the sun's bright rays extended into the dark alley, lighting up the two Neopets' surroundings. Voin squinted as the sun momentarily blinded him, and when he opened his eyes again, they were fixed on a poster that was hanging in the ally that was previously hidden in the shadows. "WANTED! YELLOW GELERT - WANTED FOR BANK ROBBERY," the poster said. And just below the first word, Voin's own face gazed back at him. They must have taken the picture while he was leaving the bank.
Grief and despair suddenly weighed down on Voin's shoulders, even causing him to slump a little bit. It was his face plastered all across Neopia - not Koro's. He - Voin - was wanted for a bank robbery, not Koro. It was his own fault; he forced Koro to partake in the robbery against his will and his better judgement. Voin, who had been staring at his feet in shame, raised his head to look at Koro. The poor quivering Green Kougra looked terrified of who had once been his best friend. His paws were still raised in defeat - or was it defense? And suddenly, Voin felt ashamed. What was he doing? He was cornering his best friend? And at that moment Voin knew: a friendship was more important than a dream any day. If their dream was to be fulfilled, it should be done in an honest way. Otherwise, the joy of fulfilling a lifelong dream would be ruined by years and years of guilt. Material objects didn't matter; what mattered was who you spend your days with and the friendships and memories that you form throughout your life.
"Koro... I..." Voin was lost for words. His eyes drooped again and he sighed with shame and guilt.
"Voin, it's okay," Koro replied with a weak smile. "Let's just get out of here. I'm feeling kind of hungry, aren't you?"
"Yeah," Voin replied, his mouth turning up ever so slightly at the ends. He felt relieved that Koro seemed to understand the thoughts that had just darted through his mind. Koro always had ways of understanding Voin, even without Voin saying a word.
Koro jogged forward to his friend and the two Neopets walked side by side like old comrades. And although they didn't notice, a discarded newspaper swept through the road behind them, the headline reading, "POWR - From Five Neopoints Per Share, Rocketing Up To 500!"