Meow Circulation: 104,800,928 Issue: 204 | 18th day of Hiding, Y7
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All in a Day, Er, Night's Work

by sois_sage


Night blanketed Neopia Central like a cloak. The star strewn sky was hidden by patches of fat grey clouds, heavy with rain. Most people and pets were at home, getting ready for bed. Most, but not all…

     A figure sped through the streets, avoiding the yellow glow cast by the streetlights. It moved silently with the old ease of practice and the assurance of a known destination. Not even a definitive silhouette could be picked out, not a horn or wings. The figure blended in too perfectly with the night.

     Once it reached the sector of private shops, the figure slowed down. It stuck to the alleyways, until reaching a large pink shop with the name Princess Pink's Lovely Fluffy Shop of Super Cuteness painted in an arch over the doorway and two darkened windows. It disappeared from sight for a moment while scaling the rear wall, and then came into view on the roof.

     The moonlight revealed the figure to be a shadow Kyrii, wearing a black shirt and black pants, with a backpack slung over one shoulder. A second later he bent down and disappeared from view, at least to anyone on the deserted street.

     He dropped the bag on the ground, and crawled toward the nearest skylight. He was certain that the street below was empty, as well as the shop, but still, it paid to be careful. He looked down into the empty shop, shielding his eyes with gloved hands in order to see better. As he had expected, it was completely empty of all living things. The lights had been turned off some hours before, and the doors locked. The skylight was locked as well, but that wouldn't be much of a problem. There was no one on guard duty. The security was limited to the locks and a sign in the front window that proclaimed that Chia Complete Security protected the premises. And it's not like they'd ever actually patrol anyway, he thought to himself.

     The Kyrii reached for his bag, opened it and rummaged for the wrapped cloth he had put in an hour earlier. He pulled it out and unwrapped his lock picks. Then he turned to study the lock, and gave a quiet snort of disgust. Even the one up here had been spray painted the same lurid shade of pink as the rest of the building. It was fairly large, but not nearly as sturdy as its appearance would have you believe. Selecting two picks, the Kyrii bent over the lock and a second or two later, heard a tell tale click. Smiling to himself, he put the lock picks away and took out a length of rope, which he anchored to one of the pipes that ran around the edge of the roof. Then he put his backpack on again, carefully opened the window and began his descent.

     Moments later his boots touched the floor. He let go of the rope and peered around the dark room, trying to remember exactly where the item he wanted was. He had been there before, to scope out the security (and found it lax, which was great) and to memorize the layout, but it had been during the daylight hours, when the shop was full of costumers. He looked at the shelf immediately to his right and saw rows of limited edition plushies. He ignored them. He wasn't there for the small stuff, he reminded himself, walking down the aisle. This was for a single thing that could make him rich.

     He turned on to the next aisle of shelves. They held rows of glass bottles with various types of ears or tails attached to them. Halfway down the aisle, his eyes fell on the item he had been searching for. Carefully he lifted the Faerie Usul Morphing Potion from the shelf. He gazed at it for a moment, seeing his own face reflected on the glass, the moon visible behind him through the open window. Then he snapped himself out of his reverie and lowered his pack. He wrapped the potion in a thick piece of cloth to protect it and put it in the bag. He went back to the rope in the middle of the store, put his backpack on once again, and began to climb back up to the roof.

     Going up proved to be much more difficult than going down, and it was several minutes before the Kyrii was once more crouching on the roof, scanning the street for passersby. There were none, and after gathering up his rope, closing the window, and putting the lock back on, he climbed back down the rear of the shop. Once on the ground he checked his watch. Quarter after ten. I've got time for a quick bite before the last ferry leaves, he thought. His empty stomach growled in agreement. Shielded by the building, he changed into a NeoQuest II T-shirt and jeans (much less suspicious looking than all black), stuffed his gloves into the bag along with the black clothing, then turned and made his way through back the alleys of Neopia, toward one of his favorite haunts.

           * * *

     Lunette's Café was just as busy at 10:30 at night as it was at noon. The shadow Kyrii walked in to find it just about packed with pets and owners alike, discussing the latest poetry competition, where to find the cheapest battle ducks, or just getting a late meal. He was lucky to spot an opening, at one of the stools next to the counter. He walked over and sat down, placing his backpack carefully at his feet.

     "Hello Kale," Lunette said with a smile, coming over to him. "You're out late."

     The Kyrii nodded. "I'm surprised to see how much business you have at this hour."

     The white Lupe behind the counter shrugged. "Well, we attract all types here, and I guess a lot of them are night Whoots. Now, what can I get for you?"

     "A blueberry muffin and a banana cream coffee, please," he said. He had been there so many times that he no longer even had to look at the menu.

     Lunette nodded and went off into the kitchen. Kale resettled himself on the padded stool and glanced around at the other pets in the café. To his left sat a fat old Blue Bruce, hungrily finishing off a pastrami sandwich. On his right side was a starry Yurble, who was sipping a cup of Fundus Fruit tea and flipping through the latest issue of the Neopian Times. The Kyrii noticed him roll his eyes when he came to a full-page article debating the existence of Jelly World.

     Behind him were booths along the windows, most of them filled. A teen-age girl with purple streaked hair and a nose ring was talking animatedly about Twisted Roses' latest concert with her checkered Krawk two tables to his right. On the left was a pair of Nimmos who were eating banana splits and chatting about last week's leaping contest. Directly behind him a yellow Aisha and a girl with red hair sat across from a purple Kacheek.

     "I can't believe I'm never going to see you again," he heard the Aisha sob.

     "That's not true," the Kacheek said. "I'll visit whenever I can. It's just, you know how much it costs to take an Eyrie Taxi."

     "But you're my best friend, Lori!" protested the crying Aisha. "Why does your owner want to move to dumb old Faerieland anyway?"

     "He wants to be closer to the Faerie Cloud Racers track, and he found a house that wasn't too expensive," Lori explained.

     In the reflection of a particularly shiny pot hanging in front of him, Kale saw the Aisha's owner put a consoling arm around her.

     "It'll be alright," she told her pet. "I'm sure things will work out."

     The Aisha perked up.

     "Mom," she said excitedly. "I've got an idea! If I were painted faerie, then I'd have wings, and I'd be able to fly to Faerieland to visit Lori everyday, and I wouldn't have to pay an Eyrie to take me there!"

     There was a pause, and then the owner replied.

     "Oh, Daisy, you know I just finished saving up for your brother's Christmas paint brush, and those things are so expensive… And I promised Denny that I'd paint him striped next."

     "But Mom, I might not ever get to see Lori again!"

     "Tell you what," said her owner. "You're next on the list. After I get enough paint Denny, I'll start saving up to paint you Faerie."

     "But that could be months away!"

     "I know Daisy, but that's just the way things are right now."

     Try as he might to block this conversation out, the word echoed in the ears of the shadow Kyrii at the counter. Even when he put all his effort into concentrating on the coffee Lunette had brought him, he still heard everything that was said at the table behind him as the two best friends said their good byes for what could be forever.

     His insides squired guiltily as he stared at his muffin, unable to eat it. Stop that, he ordered himself. This isn't your headache. You don't even know those two. Who cares if they don't get to see each other anymore? It's really none of your business.

     He began to shred the muffin into tiny pieces, thinking.

     "Something wrong, Kale?" Lunette asked, coming by with a pot of coffee.

     "What?" he said, shaken out of his musings. "Oh, no, everything is fine, Lunette. I'm fine."

     "If you say so. Would you like a refill?" she asked, indicating his empty coffee mug.

     "No, thanks. Just the bill, please."

     He heard the group behind him getting up to leave as he paid his bill and left his usual tip for Lunette. Then, shouldering his backpack and hating himself for what he was about to do, he hurried outside after them.

     The two pets were hugging each other a few steps from the café door, while the Aisha's owner looked on, her purse dangling in her left hand. Kale hurried by, and bumped into the girl.

     "Excuse me," he said as he went past.

     "It's alright," the girl replied, wearing a bit of a frown.

     Kale kept walking down the street, and ducked behind a large tree just within earshot of the group he had just passed.

     "Daisy, it's time to go," he heard the girl say to her pet. "Now, where did I put my keys…?"

     She rummaged in her purse and suddenly let out a scream.

     "What? What is it?" both of the pets with her clamored.

     "I just found this bottle in my purse! It's a Faerie Usul Morphing Potion, I'm sure of it!"

     The Aisha and Kacheek gaped at the glass bottle in the girl's hand for a moment, then turned to each other.

     "I guess you'll be visiting me in Faerieland after all," the Kacheek said.

     The Aisha merely burst into tears and threw her arms around her owner.

     Kale continued on his way to the docks to catch the last ferry of the night to Mystery Island. As he did so, he couldn't help but smile to himself.

           * * *

     Despite the late hour, I was still up attempting to write when Kale came in the front door at 11:30. He sauntered into the kitchen and headed straight for the fridge.

     "Just getting in?" I asked from where I sat at the kitchen table.

     He nodded, his mouth full of cold pizza.

     I surveyed him over a large cup of chai. "What did you do all night?"

     He gave me a slight smile.

     "Oh, nothing special."

The End

Author's Note: Hey, thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it. Feel free to neomail me with any questions or comments. But before people start asking me for items, I should mention that Kale isn't normally much of a Robin Hood type guy. I guess these particular pets just happened to catch him on a good day.

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