FOR THE NEXT week, Alistar's sleep went undisturbed. The green-eyed shadow
haunted his dreams no longer. By next Saturday, Alistar was feeling great. The
band had gathered for their first jam session since the concert.
"I'm feeling great!" said Alistar as the band
set up their instruments. "No more bad dreams for this little green Kyrii, no
sir! I could take on the world!"
"Is that a fact?" Flick asked.
"That's great Alistar," said May, smiling. "I'm
glad you're feeling better, because I've got us another gig."
Umbriel dropped what she was doing.
"Another one? You mean even after what happened
last time, you're still going to continue with this?"
"Well, yeah Umbriel," May said. "We can't let
one little incident ruin our entire career."
"Anyhow," said Alistar cheerily, "What doesn't
kill me only makes me stronger!"
"Yes, but the next one could kill you. What if
that thing shows up again?"
May smiled. "Don't worry about that, Umbriel.
I've got everything under control." She pulled out a small radio.
"Patterson! Smith! Condition Green! Password
Zulu-Bravo-Echo-Alpha one zero seven niner! Over!"
A red Gelert head popped out of a pot by the
door. It had dark sunglasses and an earpiece.
"This is Patterson, position 1, in position.
Position 1 to position 2, are you in position? Over."
A similarly attired blue Gelert head appeared between the couch cushions.
"This is Position 2, Smith here. Copy that, position
1, I am in position. Over."
Flick stared. "No way! You got the Neopian Bureau
of Investigation working for us? How did you manage that?"
"My father runs a multi-million Neopoint plushie
industry. He's got connections."
"Smith! Patterson! Get your tails over here!"
The two Gelerts removed themselves from the furniture
and walked over towards the band. Aside from the glasses and earpieces, each
sported matching black suits.
"Guys, I would like you to meet Agents Smith
and Patterson. They will be with us to make sure no more harm comes to the band."
Flick looked at the two agents. "Nice glasses."
"Yes Flick, they are wearing sunglasses. Now,
as I was saying, Patterson and Smith are two of the NBI's best agents. Both
are highly trained, and completely fearless. Patterson once took an Asparagus
Dagger to the chest to save a client. And Smith here took down ten guys armed
with Golden Butter Knives."
"He did?" Alistar asked, his eyes bulging.
The blue Gelert cracked his knuckles. "With my
"Needless to say," May continued, "I doubt anyone's
going to be giving us any grief this time."
"Well," said Umbriel, eyeing the agents, "I guess
you've got everything figured out. So where will we be playing this time?"
May grinned. "Gang, you are going to worship
me for the rest of your lives when I tell you where we've been booked. This
one is so big, it'll make Kasuki Lu look like a sack of Chia Flour."
"Where, where?" asked Alistar, hardly able to
contain his excitement.
Golden stars danced in front of Alistar's eyes.
"Hah... The... Battledome...? But... how...?"
"Last week's concert was quite a big hit, Alistar,
no pun intended. Word's getting around. Quite a few important pets were at that
last concert, you know, looking for some new talent. When I got back home Sunday
morning, there was a message on my answering machine. From Kugura Bakomoto."
"You mean the Bakomoto? The corporate giant?"
"What does Kugura Bakomoto have to do with the
Battledome? I thought he ran an overseas corporation on Mystery Island?"
May sighed in exasperation. "Just because the
corporation is based on Mystery Island doesn't mean they don't have any economic
influence in Neopia Central. Bakomoto's company owns the Battledome."
Alistar scratched his head. "Now I'm really confused.
I thought his company manufactured electronics, like our speakers and mikes."
"It's called diversification, Alistar. Bakomoto
owns several smaller companies to expand his market. One of those companies
"You mean the big Battledome weapons manufacturer?"
"Right. Anyway, Mr. Bakomoto and his family happened
to be at the concert. He's been looking for some fresh talent to play a Battledome
concert. He's going to let us play, provided we use his equipment. It's a mutual
financial agreement. He helps us advertise, and we help him."
"How much does it pay?"
"That's the best part. If the concert is a success,
Mr. Bakomoto will be our corporate sponsor!"
"Yes way! We'll be famous in no time, Alistar!"
Alistar jumped up and down. "Yes! Yes! Yes!"
he shouted. "Quick, when's the concert?"
"I've had us scheduled for this Monday at 7:00
"Excellent! This is so excellent! Isn't this
Alistar turned to Flick, who was busy talking
to Smith and Patterson.
"C'mon, you can tell me! I can keep a secret!"
Patterson shook his head. "May, would you please
tell your bass player that there is no secret government plot to cover up an
impending alien invasion, and that the Neos In Black do not exist?"
"Flick, how many times do I have to tell you
it was just a movie?"
"But May, the NIB has to exist! Otherwise, who
would cover up the alien conspiracy?"
May ushered Flick away from the two agents. "Sorry.
He gets these flashes of amazing stupidity every now and again. Back to your
The two agents nodded.
"Flick, here we are talking about the biggest
break we've had to date and you're busy interrogating our bodyguards. What were
"I was thinking 'I'm a citizen. I have a right
"Well now you have the right to remain silent,
"Good. Now, everyone on-stage! We've got a concert
to rehearse for!"
The band took their places. All through the rehearsal,
Umbriel kept thinking to herself.
They have no idea what they're in for...
"Mr. Bakomoto, the band is here to see you."
"Very good. Send them in."
The office door opened a few seconds later. The
band, led by May, walked up the red velvet carpeting to Kugura Bakomoto's desk.
The walls were a beautiful shade of tan, and the office was adorned with many
exotic treasures, potted plants, and glass cases full of spectacular whatnots.
Behind the desk sat Mr. Bakomoto, his chair turned so that he faced the glass
wall behind him, providing a beautiful view of the Battledome below.
"Welcome," Bakomoto said, without even turning
around. "Thank you for coming. I trust you are all well?"
May swallowed. "Yes sir."
"Glad to hear it. Now to business."
The chair turned around, revealing a middle-aged
white Kougra in a blue business suit with a black tie. He smiled a toothy grin
and got out of his seat.
"First, let me say that I was very impressed
with your performance last Saturday at Neopia Central Park. My son heard from
one of his friends at school that your music was most excellent, and he insisted
that we see you live. I especially enjoyed your rendition of 'Neohemian Rhapsody'.
It does great justice to the original." He paced back and forth as he spoke,
his tail swishing.
"You've got excellent taste in music, your Majesty,"
May elbowed him. "You're supposed to call him
sir, not your Majesty," she hissed.
"But you told me he was an economic king."
"I said kingpin, an economic kingpin!"
"Second," continued Bakomoto, unfazed by Flick's
lack of social etiquette, "I would like to remind you that this is more than
just a concert. This is a business opportunity, for you and I both. Tonight,
you will use instruments manufactured by my company to help advertise our products.
In return, you get publicity, ten thousand Neopoints, and, if you perform to
my expectations, a corporate sponsor. A big corporate sponsor. Is this clear?"
"Good." Bakomoto opened his desk drawer and produced
a flyer. It had the band logo on it, along with the date and time of the upcoming
concert. "I have had these posted all over Neopia Central to ensure a maximum
turnout for tonight's concert. I have a good deal of faith in you. Unfortunately,
faith alone does not make one successful in business. I have made it this far
by choosing my investments wisely, and I do not take kindly to making bad ones."
He stopped his pacing, turned, and looked each
band member dead in the eye. Even Umbriel was subject to his steely glare.
"For your sakes," he said calmly, "do try to
be a good investment. Believe me, it's desirable to the alternative."
"What's the alternative?" Umbriel asked smugly,
almost in challenge.
Grinning, Kugura Bakomoto tossed the flyer over
his shoulder. He took a step and turned. His arm became a white blur.
The flyer fell to the floor in four neat strips.
He turned to face the group again, thoughtfully
inspecting his claws. "It really is handy, not needing a paper shredder, don't
you think?" he asked innocently.
Alistar, Flick, and May nodded slowly, staring.
Umbriel remained smug.
"Don't you worry about a thing, Mr. Bakomoto,"
she said. "We're going to put on a show you'll never forget."
"Excellent. It is now," he looked at his watch,
"6:00. You'd best go down and get ready."
The band turned and started to leave.
"Oh, and May," Bakomoto called. She turned.
"Please remind your father about our golf game
we scheduled for this Thursday at the Neolodge. Dave Fuzio and Cyberta Green
will be there, and I'd truly hate for him to miss out."
"What do you think Mr. Bakomoto meant by tearing up that flyer?" Alistar asked
as they made their way down the hall beneath the Battledome.
"Isn't it obvious?" Umbriel asked. "If we mess
this one up, we're finished."
"But Bakomoto can't just end the band," Flick
"He won't," said May. "But he can terminate our
contract. Not to mention his connections in the business world. If anything
goes wrong tonight, finding another sponsor will be quite difficult."
"But that's not going to happen," said Alistar,
"Right," May agreed. "We've come prepared this
The band took their places on the platform.
"So where are those two going to be, anyway?"
"Well, Smith's going to be in the audience disguised
as a hot dog vendor, and Patterson will be handing out programs. If anything
goes wrong, they'll be right there."
"I hope they know what they're doing," Alistar
"Don't sweat it, Alistar," May reassured him.
May looked around one last time to make sure
everything was ready. She stopped at the drums.
"Umbriel, what happened to the drums Mr. Bakomoto
so graciously supplied us with?"
"I got rid of them."
"I got rid of them. You didn't actually expect
me to play on those pieces of garbage, did you? You know what my drumming does
to normal instruments."
"Yes, but... but... oh, drat!" May stomped her
"Don't worry," Umbriel said casually. "He'll
probably never notice the difference."
"For all our sakes, he'd better not. Do you realise
this compromises the agreement?"
"Would you rather I bust up his equipment in
public? I think not."
"Fine, fine," May said, rubbing her temples.
"You're in the back, anyway. He probably won't see if we all stand in front
of you. Anyone else have any little surprises they'd like to share before we
Flick and Alistar shook their heads.
"Good. Now everyone get ready. The show should
Just as she finished speaking, a voice boomed
to life over the stadium speakers above.
"Tonight's performance is brought to you by:
ArmaTech, the company that puts the 'Battle' in 'Battledome'."
"That's our cue. Get ready."
The platform began to rise. The ceiling above
opened, and the cheers of thousands of Neopets met their ears. The cheers grew
louder as the band appeared from beneath the Battledome floor.
Flick turned to Alistar. He grinned.
"Ready to rock and roll?"
Alistar nodded, staring at the thousands of cheering,
"Let's do this."
To be continued...
A special thank you to Anarchy79 for helping me overcome a serious case of
writer's block during the writing of this instalment. Thank you, Anarchy79!!