Gath was awakened by the crowing of a Wibreth. “Morning already?” He rolled out of bed and examined the day. Would today be the day? The sky was blue, clouds were white, little Neopets were playing in the grass. Gath grinned as a copy of the Neopian Times hit his porch. Today was the day. He made himself breakfast and sent a neomail to his friend, Velp. Velp was usually more than dense and less than speedy, but for today, he would be perfect. Gath grinned to himself again. For a Kougra, he had sharp teeth, and for a shadow pet, he was dark. Today he was going to pull off a robbery of such proportions that the Neopian Times would be talking about it for weeks. His sharp ears picked up someone knocking on the door of the neighbors, but his sharp nose told him it was Velp.
Gath's ears flicked backwards in annoyance. “Wrong door, Velp!” he yelled out the window. A surprisingly bashful looking Grarrl walked in. “Sorry, Gath.”
Gath waved a paw dismissing the mistake. “Never mind that. Today is the day!”
Velp scratched his head. “Our wingoball tournament?”
Gath tried to keep his ears upright instead of falling flat on his head in annoyance. “No, we're going to....”
“Oh, I know!” Velp clapped his claws together.
“No, you don't; shut up and listen,” Gath growled. He paced the floor with his paws behind his back. “Today I woke up to a Wibreth crowing, the sun was shining, kids were playing, a newspaper was just hitting my front porch.”
“That sounds like a nice day!” Velp quickly went quiet as Gath rounded on him with a glare.
“Yes, too perfect. The day I've been waiting for is here! A cliché day!”
“Cliché?” Velp rolled the strange word around his mouth.
“Yes.” Gath pulled out a chart he had worked on all year. “It comes around every ten years and no one notices it except people who look for it.”
Velp scratched his head. “Isn't that how most things work?”
Gath pointed to the chart, ignoring Velp. “Today is that day; everything cliché happens, just like the day was written in a story. So all we have to do is play along with the story up to a certain part but as villains we would of course lose because the bad guy always loses.”
Velp frowned. “I don't want to lose.”
Gath's ears twitched. “Then let me continue. When the point comes that we would get captured or defeated, by studying stories we can beat the cliché!”
Gath's ears flattened at Velp's blank stare. “Let me explain the plan. We go up to the Neopian Bank swinging blasters and demanding money. They'll call the Defenders of course, but we'll be prepared for that, and before the defenders can act, we'll be on top of them, and whenever a hero in a story is captured, his sidekick somehow rescues them in the nick of time, so we'll be on the look out for the sidekick. With the hero out of the way, we'll concentrate on the money. But it would be even easier to circumvent the hero and just make sure they never come. Get it?” He needed Velp for the less than smart sidekick for this to work but it was taxing on his patience.
Velp's slow gears slowly turned. “So we rob a bank, but the main point is the catch the hero and then get the money.”
“No, but close enough.” Gath pulled out two masks and two bandanas. “Let's go rob a bank.”
“Thank you for your business!” Taya smiled at her customer as she deposited his neopoints. She took a second to preen her tail feathers. It was a busy day in the bank, smiling people coming in and going through the usual transactions. She looked out of the glass doors. She was dying to be flying in that bring blue sky. A Pteri was meant to be in the sky not behind the teller window, but a job was a job.
She was too busy looking at the sky to notice a shadow Kougra who was gesturing wildly at a Grarrl who was attempting to put a mask on the wrong way. She did however notice when the double doors were kicked open and the Kougra marched in. “Everyone keep calm and no one gets hurt.” He strolled up to Taya while the Grarrl covered the crowd with a blaster.
The Kougra leaned on the counter. “Bring out four million neopoints and make it fast. Imagine I have a Virtublaster 3000 blaster in my paw if that would help you with motivation.”
Taya looked down. “You do have a Virtublaster 3000 blaster in your paw.”
“Oh, good. You shouldn't have to tax your imagination too much then.”
Taya nodded slowly and one of her talons reached down for the panic button that would call the Defenders. But there was no vibration that signaled that the button had sent the message.
Gath gave a fanged smile. “Calling for the Defenders? How...” His smile widened as he held up a pair of wire cutters. “cliché of you.”
“We're going to the bank, we're going to the bank!” Ashalyia, a small blue Aisha, was skipping next to her brother, Kanuah, who had grudgingly let her come with him to the bank. Kanuah was a tall, black Lupe with a fierce air about him. The tattoo on his arm, his thrice pierced ear, and his amber eyes contributed to this air. Ashalyia, on the other hand, was a stereotypical cute Aisha. Kanuah frowned at they walked up the bank. Ashalyia stopped skipping. “What's wrong?”
“The window blinds are shut.”
Ash pulled at her brother's arm. “It's sunny; maybe they wanted to keep it cool.”
Kanuah's frown deepened. “Maybe.” He suddenly wished he had his katana at his side, but he had left it at home; the bank didn't allow weapons.
Before he could suggest they could come back tomorrow, Ash ran up to the doors and pulled the open.
“Ash, wait!” Kanuah ran after her. He caught up to her at the door. “What did I tell you about not running away?”
Ash was too busy looking down the barrel of a blaster.
Velp grinned. “You should always listen to your brother.”
Kanuah groaned inwardly; he knew he should have left his sister at home.
Taya nervously opened the back of the bank where the money was kept. The Defenders couldn't be called; the few employees that were working that day had been shooed into the front of the bank. She didn't see any way out of this.
“Velp, you have them all in one corner?” Gath asked in a low voice.
“Alright, usually at this point, a hero shows up. Did anyone come into the bank?”
Velp pointed to the group. “Yeah, that guy and girl did.”
Gath looked questioningly where Velp pointed. “An old Plushie Techo and a baby Ruki?”
Velp adjusted his aim. “No, that guy.”
Gath looked closely at the shadow Lupe; he looked strong and sly enough. “Watch him carefully, he may try something.”
Velp fixed his eyes on the Lupe. “Right! What about the girl?"
Gath gave the Aisha a passing glance. “She's not a problem.”
Kanuah was not happy. Being held captive usually didn't not put him in a good mood. Ashalyia was sitting next to him looking unusually calm for someone her age. Kanuah watched the Grarrl; the Grarrl watched him back. Kanuah walked to the other side of the group. The Grarrl's eye followed him. This confirmed Kanuah's thought that the Kougra had told the Grarrl to watch him. He walked back over to his sister and sat down. “Ash.”
Ash climbed into his lap. “Yes?”
“That Grarrl is watching me very closely.”
“So, he's not watching anyone else.”
Kanuah ruffled her antennas. “Exactly.”
Velp watched as the Lupe walked back across the group. He watched the Lupe sit down and turn his back to Velp. Velp watched the Lupe suspiciously.
“Velp!” Gath hissed. “What are you doing?” He was carrying three bags of neopoints over for Velp to carry when they made their getaway.
“Watching that Lupe.”
“What about the rest of them?”
“You didn't tell me to watch them.”
Gath's ears ticked backwards. “The whole point of bringing you was to watch them.”
“Well, they haven't done anything.”
Gath pulled Taya over to where the rest of the bystanders. “Make sure they don't.”
He turned to walk back to get the last bag of money and was startled to find a small blue Aisha smiling in front of him. “Velp!”
“What is she doing out here?”
Velp scratched his head. “I don't know.”
“Well, put her back.” Gath growled from between his teeth as he turned to go get the coins.
Velp picked up the Aisha. “Back you go, little girl.”
Kanuah watched tensely as Velp picked up his sister. But he should have known better than to worry.
As soon as she was lifted in the air, Ashalyia went from sweet to sour in a second. Her small sharp teeth dug into Velp's hand.
“Yow!” Velp tried to shake her off.
“What the...!” Gath swung around at his sidekick's yell. Kanuah gave a wolfish smile. Gath's back was to him now.
Velp continued to struggle with his leech. “Geroff!” he howled. Ash quickly let go and wrapped her whole body over the blaster in his hand and gave a sharp twist. The blaster and Aisha fell to the floor. Belying her small and innocent appearance, Ashalyia whipped the blaster, which was as tall as she was, around and pointed it at the dancing Velp.
Velp gaped at the smiling Aisha. “How did you do that?”
Ashalyia smiled innocently. “Practice.”
Gath by now would have jumped into the fray to help, but he had problems of his own. As soon as he had turned at Velp's cry, Kanuah was up. Most heroes would tap the villain on the back and wait for them to turn around before hitting them, prolonging the fight to a knock-down-drag-out fight. Kanuah was not most heroes. He jumped up, lunged and dropped a quick headlock on Gath before sweeping a leg under Gath's, dropping him to the ground. While Gath was still recovering, Kanuah's strong arm snaked down and with a sharp twist claimed the blaster.
He backed up, holding the blaster on Gath. “Anyone feel like calling the Defenders?”
Several people scrambled up.
Kanuah glanced at his sister. “Well done.”
Ashalyia just smiled.
“Thank you for your help.” Judge Hog shook Kanuah's paw firmly and Ashalyia's gently.
“Any time,” Kanuah said modestly.
Ashalyia climbed up her brother's back to get a better view. “Those are the Defenders?”
Ashalyia watched as Velp was led away. “I wonder if I can join them someday.”
Kanuah ruffled her antennas. “You're too devious.”
“This wasn't supposed to go like this!” Gath growled as Judge Hog put him in pawcuffs. “Today was a cliché day; it was perfect, and I was going to beat it!”
Kanuah smiled at the enraged Kougra. “You forgot something. There may be cliché days.” He looked back at his sister. “But there's no cliché people.”
“Take him away, boys!” Judge Hog said with gusto.
Ashalyia leaned closer to her brother's ear. “Except maybe him.”
Kanuah ran a hand over his ear. “Strange that the villain would try to win on a cliché day. He should know that good always wins in the stories.”