The big blue eyes remained unblinking, a pinpoint of light in a dimly lit room. Her smile rested like a mask on her face, disguising any emotions that flitted through her head. She sat calmly, waiting for him to finish.
He smiled at her. "What do you think?"
"I think..." She stood up, eyes blazing. "I think you are an idiot!"
"But..." The Lupe took a step back, aware of the now grinding teeth and clenched fists.
"Do you really believe that Fyora is going to take the least interest in that? You are a fool! She will not care, and where will that leave us? Back where we started. The bad guys."
The Lupe's face was easy to read; he was disappointed. "I thought--"
"Whatever it was that you thought, it was wrong." The Xweetok stormed out, fuming.***
Kyra blinked in the early morning sun. Stretching her aching limbs, she made her way downstairs. "Good morning, Mum."
"Aah, Kyra. Good morning. Hungry?"
The small Aisha nodded and picked up The Neopian Times. "Hey, look at this," she told her mum. " 'Two notorious robbers have mysteriously disappeared. Currently the two have been popping up randomly throughout Neopia, taking numerous items such as Healing Potions and weapons. For two days now, the robbers have remained unseen. Defenders of Neopia are now questioning three Neopets believed to be associated with the criminals.' Wow! Just a few weeks ago the Defenders were complaining that there was no crime. Now, this!"
Her mother shook her head. "Some Neopets are unbelievable. Who would do that to innocent shopkeepers?"
Kyra shrugged and took the Tomato Omelette that her mother offered her. "Mum, can I walked to The Money Tree today? Not to take stuff, just to rest. And maybe Beatrix can come too?"
"Alright then, but first you have to eat."
Kyra flicked through to the comics section as she chewed her Omelette. "Mum, I've eaten a third, and I'm not hungry anymore. Can I please go now?"
Mum smiled and made shooing motions with her hands. "Go."
Kyra sprinted out the door and ran to Beatrix's. She impatiently knocked.
"Hey!" Beatrix smiled. "Mum, can I go out with Kyra?"
"Sure, honey, just don't be too long."
The pair linked arms and ambled away. "So, where are we going?"
"Well, I told Mum I was going to the Money Tree, but I was actually thinking the Neopian Bazaar," Kyra smiled.
"Sounds good," agreed Beatrix, used to her best friend's antics.
The two made their way, not hurried. "Hey, did you hear about the two robbers?"
"Uh-huh," Beatrix nodded. "But they've gone now, haven't they?"
"Well, I dunno. Apparently, but maybe they're just planning their next move. You never know," Kyra countered.
"Meh, I guess."
The two ambled around the Bazaar, occasionally buying stuff.
"Do you think this t-shirt looks good on me?" Beatrix asked.
"Ummm, this one would be better."
Beatrix laughed. "Ever truthful, you are."
"Let's go to the Neopian Bazaar for now," the Xweetok muttered. "Then we can just blend in with the crowd, right?"
"Ugh," the Lupe replied. "The Neopian Bazaar is so... uneventful."
"We have to plan our next move somewhere," the Xweetok said irritably. "Stop being so grumpy; just because your plan sucked."
The Lupe growled. "It did not! You're just dumb."
"Oh, so I'm the dumb one, am I?" she countered. "Grumpy pants."
"How professional of you," sneered the Lupe.
"I wasn't trying to be professional, I was trying to be stupid." The Xweetok eyed the Lupe. "Though to some of us, that just comes naturally."
"Are we going to the Bazaar, or not?"
Out of the corner of her eye, as the pair stepped out of Hubert's Hotdogs, Kyra spotted a figure half-consumed by shadows. "Do you see that?" she whispered.
Beatrix glanced over to where Kyra was staring. "Uh, yeah, I think."
They made their way cautiously to where the figure was standing. A Xweetok. She was muttering angrily to a Lupe. "No, we can't just ambush the Hotdog place," she whisper-yelled, "We have to plan this, Max, it's a big moment!"
"Umm, excuse me?" Kyra said, and the two strangers turned to look at her. "What are you talking about?"
The pair narrowed their eyes. "Get lost!" said the Xweetok, and the two hurried away.
"Come on, Beatrix, we've got to find out what they're up to!"
The pair broke into a sprint as the two strangers tore through Neopia. ***
"Who are they, Delphi?" panted Max. "Disguised Defenders of Neopia?"
"No, they're just kids," Delphi replied. "Nosy kids."
"So why are we running?"
"We don't want them to turn us into the Defenders, do we?"
"So run, you idiot!"
The two left the Bazaar along with dozens of Neopets. They mingled with the crowd, catching their breath. "Where to now?" asked Max.
"Money Tree," replied Delphi shortly.***
"Ugh! We lost them!" Kyra stopped and ground her teeth angrily.
"It's alright, Ky," reassured Beatrix. "Let's just go, okay?"
"Well, you did tell your mum that you were going to the Money Tree..."
"Seriously, Bea?" Kyra eyed the Acara disapprovingly. "The Money Tree is for people who are, like, broke."
"So? Better to go there than just stand awkwardly, frustrated."
Kyra gave in and walked to the Money Tree in a huffy silence.
"I knew it," whispered Beatrix as they advanced. "Look over there."
Kyra glanced upwards and gasped in shocked delight. There were the two Neopets, the Xweetok and the Lupe named Max.
The two girls advanced slowly, straining their ears.
"Ha, we lost them now, didn't we, Delphi?" grinned Max
"Yup," replied Delphi. "Okay, this place is deserted. Let's plan our next move."
"Giving up crime is going to be hard," commented Max. "I mean, firstly, everyone hates us, and secondly, we're gonna have to turn ourselves in."
"Yeah, I know, Max, but these Healing Potions and weapons aren't helping in the Battledome, which is the whole reason we started doing this in the first place."
"I still think we should tell Queen Fyora first."
The Xweetok rolled her eyes. "Max, the Queen won't care. She'll just lock us up. Is that what you want?"
The girls exchanged significant glances. "What do we do?" whispered Bea.
Kyra shrugged. "Approach them?"
Beatrix wrinkled her nose. "Do we have to?"
The two cautiously advanced. "Ummm..." said Kyra. "Please don't run away again."
The two criminals looked up and scowled. "What do you want?"
"Well, uh," stuttered Bea. "Ah, um... If you wanted, we could come with you to Queen Fyora's castle?"
"No," the Xweetok replied. "Just leave."
"But you want to turn over a new leaf, right?" argued Kyra.
"We're not going to see Queen Fyora."
"Okay..." Kyra replied. "How about the Defenders?"
Max nodded eagerly. "Good idea!"
Delphi sighed. "We don't need your help, okay? You're just kids. We're fine."
"It sure doesn't sound like you're fine," countered Bea.
"We are. Look, if it really makes you happy, we'll go to the Defenders. Okay? Agreed?"
Kyra nodded. "Agreed."
"Oh, no!" exclaimed Bea. "We've got to get home!"
The girls sprinted away, yelling "Goodbye!" over their shoulders.
Kyra let herself in. "Mum, I'm home!"
"Hey, honey, how was your day?"
Kyra thought about all the things that had happened. "Uneventful."***
Kyra picked up the Neopian Times. "Two Criminals: Caught!" the headline blared.
"Anything I should know about?" Mum asked.
Kyra read on. "With the guidance of a blue Aisha and a red Acara..."
"No," Kyra replied. "Neopia's uneventful."