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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 11th day of Eating, Yr 23
The Neopian Times Week 81 > Short Stories > A Criminal or Just Fighting to Survive?

A Criminal or Just Fighting to Survive?

by ridergirl333

Untitled Document Grand Theft of Ummagine. An action-packed game that keeps players on their toes. But this is so much more than a game. There's a story behind this, and I wanted to find out what that story was.

     I wandered through the Lost Desert with my take-anywhere tape recorder and a Tchea fruit from Coltzan's Shrine. My Eyrie, SapphireCloud777 walked beside me, struggling to balance the turban on her head.

     "Why did you have to wear that ridiculous thing?" I asked her.

     "It makes me look like a Lost Desert native," Sapphire replied curtly.

     Suddenly, a cry rang out, breaking the still peace of the desert. "Stop that thief!" an Elephante roared. A Kyrii whizzed by, looking like a streak of red lightning. I also realized that I was right in his path.

     Quickly, I grabbed Sapphire by the scruff of the neck and pulled her off the road. The stampede of guards and thief quickly passed. Cautiously, I followed them.

     I found the guards in the center of the marketplace, looking baffled and confused. "Where did the little sneak go?" asked an Elephante in a gold-colored vest.

     "Beats me, boss, but I'd suggest you look over there," said a younger Elephante, pointing to an alley across the road. "I think I heard him trying to escape."

     Quickly, the whole troop of guards spun around and raced into the alley. But the younger Elephante stayed behind, grinning from ear to ear. He snuck into a different alley, oblivious to the fact that Sapphire and I were following him. Then, something unbelievable happened.

     The Elephante changed. Rubbery blue skin became soft red fur. Four massive tree-trunk feet became dainty paws. A long trunk was sucked into a rapidly changing face and replaced with a tiny pink nose.

     Then, he turned and I came face-to-face with Stan the Kyrii.

     "Gah!" he cried, startled out of his wits. "What are you doing here?"

     "I just wanted an interview, Mr. Stan, sir."

     "Interview! You must be joking! The pair of you call more attention than a rampaging Grarrl. I'm trying to make a living here, now scat!"

     The poor Kyrii seemed so frightened and so angry, I had to leave. But, determined to find someone to interview for my article, I talked to the Elephante guard with the gold vest.

     I found him searching the alleys and abandoned buildings of Sakamet with his guards. "Leave no stone unturned!" he raged. "I want that Kyrii brought to justice!"

     "Excuse me, sir?" I tapped the guard lightly on the shoulder. He spun around.

     "What do you want, kid?"

     "I'm a Neopian Times reporter and I wanted to ask you about Stan."

     "Ah, the young rip has been eluding our grasp for weeks. Some of my workers are beginning to lose hope. There's just no respect for the law anymore."

     "Why haven't you been able to capture him?"

     I must have struck a nerve then, because the Elephante seemed furious. "Pay more respect when you're talking to a Captain of the Sakamet Royal Guard, child," he said. "Captain Goldtrunk of the Sakamet Royal Guard."

     I took a step back nervously. "I'm sorry, Captain. I didn't know."

     "Well, did you think I got the fancy vest online? No, this was a special gift from King Coltzan III. Ah, serving under him… those were good times."

     "Let's try to stay on the subject, sir," I said. "Why is it so critical to catch Stan?"

     "He's a lawbreaker, of course," Captain Goldtrunk growled, contempt shining in his eyes. "When we catch him, he's facing over thirty criminal charges. He stole so many goods from Ms. Iris the desert Aisha; she's bankrupt!

     "Not only is he a thief," the Captain continued. "He's dangerous as well. One of my guards, Celia Longnose the blue Elephante was seriously injured when she was trying to catch that robber. He was climbing a ladder and when he got to the top, he sent the ladder crashing down on her. She has recovered, but she quit her job as a guard."

     "Wow," I sighed. I then realized how important it was for Sakamet for the law to catch up to Stan.

     Later that day, Sapphire and I were sitting down to lunch. I had bought an Ummagine from the Desert Food Shop for myself. Sapphire got the Tchea fruit from Coltzan's Shrine. I put my Ummagine down on the table for a moment to get a chair for Sapphire. Then, I turned around and… my Ummagine was gone. The faint scuffling of feet could be heard in the background along with the stomping and shouting of Elephantes. It didn't take a genius to figure out what was happening.

     I grabbed Sapphire's paw and raced between Sakamet's tents and buildings. The hidden corners where no tourist has set foot. The perfect world for a criminal.

     I found Stan backed into a corner, surrounded by the Elephante guards. "We've got him, now, troops!" Captain Goldtrunk cried in triumph.

     This couldn't happen! Wild thoughts raced through my mind. Stan wasn't just a petty pickpocket or dim-witted beggar. He was a legend! A genius among thieves! A glittering gem in the filthy ganglands of Sakamet.

     Then, I had an idea. I gestured wildly to Stan. The guards had their backs turned, but the Kyrii could see me. He got the message and chatted to the guards. "Well, sirs and madams, I hope you realize that I'm not the Kyrii you're after. I'm just an innocent bystander, that's all." While the guards were busy looking at his face, he used his hands to roll a bottle of morphing potion to Sapphire and me. It was the same potion he used to become a red Kyrii after the turn-into-an-Elephante trick.

     I picked the bottle up and gave it to Sapphire. My Eyrie gave me a helpless look. She didn't want to be a Kyrii. I glared at her. "It will only be temporary, Sapphire." I hissed. Reluctantly, she took a swig.

     Instantly, she began to change. Bright blue feathers melted into silky red fur. A dangerous, sharp beak became a harmless pink nose. Powerful wings were sucked into her back and disappeared altogether. Soon, I was staring at SapphireCloud777 the red Kyrii. I will never forget the weird feelings I got then.

     Shocked, Sapphire stared at her fur, then at me. Then, she came to her senses. "Hey, guards! I'm the Kyrii you want!" She held the Tchea fruit up. "I stole this fruit from a helpless merchant!" Surprisingly, the guards fell for the trick. They ran to the Sapphire-Kyrii, leaving Stan and I alone in the alley.

     "Don't worry about your Eyrie, er, Kyrii. She'll be fine. The potion will wear off in ten minutes or so and she'll fly away like nothing happened. Those potions were my own invention."

     "Brilliant," I sighed in awe.

     "So, you wanted to talk to me? I mean; you saved my reputation back there. You don't deserve to be ignored."

     "I'm a Neopian Times Reporter," I said. "I was wondering if you'd answer a few questions."

     "I guess it wouldn't hurt," Stan said. "Shoot."

"How long have you been a thief and what got you started?"

     "I've been poor all my life," Stan said, his eyes losing their usual energetic brightness. "My parents were poor too. They stole. I learned all I know about robbery from my father. When I was eight years old, my parents were caught by that snooty Captain Goldtrunk and imprisoned for life. It's not so bad in the dungeons. I visit them once in a while with news of the outside world. I often go disguised as an Aisha or a Meerca."

     "Why do you steal? Why don't you just beg?"

     "The upper class of Sakamet, the merchants and royalty and noblemen don't care about those of us who beg in the streets. They occasionally give food to poor children, but I'm fifteen years old, nearly grown-up. No, the only way I'll survive is by theft."

     "What about the charges the guards want to bring against you?"

     "Charges, shmarges. I'm trying not to starve to death, here. I can't be worried about a moneybags-merchant's profit going down a bit."

     "You put an Aisha out of business," I pointed out.

     "The worst mistake I ever made. She was an easy target, so I stole form her often. If I could change one thing in my life… But that's beside the point."

     "What about the guard you injured? Celia Longnose?"

     Stan shrugged. "She shouldn't have been in the way of the ladder."

     "Oh. Is there anything you'd like to say to Neopian Times readers?"

     "Well…" Stan seemed reluctant to say something. "I want you to promise me something. Promise me that you won't tell the guards about what I'm going to show you. You may publish it; they don't read the Neopian Times. But they can never know."

     "I won't tell a soul, Stan," I whispered.

     "Follow me."

     I chased the Kyrii through the maze of tents and buildings of Sakamet. Finally, we come to a blue and white striped tent. It's torn and dirty, and not properly put up. In fact, it looks like it's going to fall over any minute. "Welcome to my humble home." Stan said. "It isn't much."

     "It's great," I reassured the Kyrii. "Is this what you want to show me?"

     "Go inside," he whispered.

     Cautiously, I lifted the tent flap and peered inside. A slim ray of sunlight lit up a modest living room with an overstuffed couch and a table made of spare pieces of wood. Dust covered every surface, and stains obscured the table. On top of that table, there were a bundle of blankets. Upon closer inspection I realized that nestled in that bundle, there was a baby Kyrii.

     "I found the little guy alone in an alley. He was probably abandoned. I stayed with him for a few days, but no one came to claim him. He's my new little brother now. I named him Robert Stan. Gave him my own first name for a surname."

     "So now you just don't steal for yourself," I breathed in awe. "You're providing for a little one too."

     Then, I regained my senses. I had to act professional. "Is there anything else you'd like to talk about?"

     Then, Stan did something he had never done before. His eyes met mine and locked. And what eyes they were! Full of fire and passion, but at the same time, cold and ruthless too. "Things aren't always what they seem." Stan said. "I'm not just a petty thief or no-good criminal. I'm trying to survive. I'm a NeoPet too. An ordinary Neopet."

     "No, Stan," I replied to the Kyrii. "You're so much more than an ordinary NeoPet. And keep the Tchea fruit. You deserve it."

     My Eyrie swooped down from the sky and landed gently on the Lost Desert sands. I was relieved to see that she was an Eyrie once more. "I think the guards saw me transform, Ridergirl." She whispered urgently. "We have to get out of here."

     "Thank you for this interview, Stan," I said to my new Kyrii friend.

     "No problem," he replied. "If you're ever in the Lost Desert again, look me up. I'm not exactly in the book, but whatever! I'd like to see you again."

     "We'll see you again," I assured Stan. Then, I jumped onto my Eyrie's back and clung tightly to her neck with one arm as we moved up, up and away. I watched Stan become a tiny red speck against the ever-shifting gold sands. I waved to him until I could no longer see him.

     What will the future hold for this Kyrii bandit, this hero among villains? Whatever it is, I wish him the best of luck in facing it.

The End

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