The Beginning of the Shadow: Part One
"Shadow Bandit. Many in Neopia have heard of her. She goes by many names, the most popular one, the Lady of Darkness. Shadow Bandit, or S.B, as she is often called, is a bandit who steals from the rich and gives to the poor. There is nothing she can’t steal, and there is no one who can stop her once she sets her sights on the treasure. However, there is something that separates her from other bandits. She sometimes sends out notices to the party that she is stealing from in the form of clues she leaves after a heist, warning them of her target, and most likely wanting them to give her a challenge.” Judge Hog paused here and cleared his throat.
“She has stated in the clues she left that she will come to steal from the ‘Ultimate Riches!’ vault in the National Neopian tonight, so we will be sending in Lightning Lenny and Blackwing to stake her out. Zee and Dr. Flexo will come in later when the both of them signal. The rest of us will be waiting in the headquarters in case we need backup.” Judge Hog continued. The Defenders nodded in response.
“Sorry Kamia, I’ll be busy this afternoon on.” The Shadow Shoyru pouted at her best friend. The Blue Xweetok could only smile nervously in response.
“But you promised to go with me to the Haunted Woods to play.” Kamia drawled.
“I’m sorry, but something came up.” Zee muttered as a reply. Kamia was surprised that Zee actually used her real name as a hero name, but then again, she was one of the less popular Defenders, staying out of the spotlight since she was new and all. Of course, Kamia wasn’t supposed to know, but she found out without her best friend realising it anyway.
“What exactly came up? Don’t tell me you’re one of the Defenders who are trying to catch the Shadow Bandit.” Kamia tried not to laugh at Zee, who was trying to keep her face straight.
“No! Of course not!” Zee held up both her paws anxiously.
“Then you won’t mind if I come along to see what’s so important that your own best friend can’t even know?” Kamia pressed on. Zee gulped. Kamia laughed. To continue that on would be torture.
“Fine, fine. Just be safe, ok? And I demand ice cream and a trip to Happy Valley the next time.” Kamia sang and carelessly waved a paw at Zee as she strode away, knowingly giving Zee her space.
Zee breathed a sigh of relief. She didn’t want to keep her identity a secret from her best friend, but she was afraid that Kamia would be used to get back at her, though the chance was very low, since she had only encountered a few villains in her time working as a Defender. But she had to avoid the risks. That was one part of the job. Zee wished that she could change her name or something, but she didn’t want to be called ‘The Teleporting Girl’ or ‘The Vanishing Xweetok’ or something around those lines. Those names were for the later generation. She was still a spunky young Xweetok with a cool Shadow Shoyru as a best friend.
Shadow Bandit stretched out a paw and felt the shadows cover her whole body. She blended into the darkness and quietly watched Lightning Lenny and Blackwing get up from their hiding spot in the National Neopian and look around, before hiding again. They hid pretty well, but were still amateurs, at least when compared to her. She could just walk in and take the money, and they wouldn’t notice her. Shadow Bandit breathed out slowly, before striding towards the vault. They didn’t even know that she was inside, with them. Then came her favourite part. Tendrils of shadows reached out into the lock on the vault. The vault creaked open. Shadow Bandit heard Lightning Lenny run up towards her and Blackwing’s energy orb hurl towards her. She dived into the shadows and reappeared inside the vault. Shadow Bandit cheekily waved at the two Defenders before swinging the vault shut. Blackwing growled in frustration, while Lightning Lenny tried to open the vault.
“Psh, wonder why Blackwing doesn’t try to blast the door open?” Shadow Bandit muttered to herself as she carefully examined the inside of the vault.
“That’s because paying for damaging property is such a blunder.” Shadow Bandit clucked her tongue when she heard a voice speak out.
“Oh. Hi Teleportation Gal.” Shadow Bandit crouched down to pick up and examine a bag of Neopoints.
“It’s Zee.” Zee shot back irritatedly. Shadow Bandit stood up and dodged to the right, just missing Zee’s pounce. Zee ducked to avoid the shadow tendrils that were reaching for her, and teleported behind Shadow Bandit. Zee raised a paw and tried to bring it down on Shadow Bandit’s head, but Shadow Bandit spread out her wings and pushed the Xweetok away.
“You have wings? What are you?” Zee growled, trying to make out Shadow Bandit’s shape in the dark.
“That’s for me to know ad you to find out.” Shadow Bandit swiftly gathered a few bags of Neopoints and dived into the shadows once again, appearing outside the National Neopian. Shadow Bandit sighed when she saw Dr. Flexo’s incoming silhouette.
“Oh well, these guys don’t ever quit, do they?” She muttered and summoned more shadow tendrils to grab onto the Chia. Then, she dived into the shadows once again, effectively losing the Defenders once and for all.
“Zee, are you ok? It looks like there’s a scratch on your shoulder.” Kamia peered at Zee.
“I’m fine, I just, erm… bumped into something sharp.” Zee quickly made an excuse, while mentally cursing the Shadow Bandit.
‘Her wings must have cut into me. That narrows down her species to a Buzz, Draik, Scorchio or a Shoyru. Speaking of Shoyrus...’ Zee thought to herself and turned to face her best friend.
“Hey, Kamia. Can I ask you a question?”
“You just did.”
“You know what I mean. Anyway, what species do you think the Shadow Bandit is?”
“Why’re you asking this? Don’t tell me you’re one of those top secret Defenders or something.” Kamia teased.
“N-no! Of course not! I’m just curious!”
“Geez, Zee, you should have seen the look on your face. You know I’m just kidding. Shadow Bandit huh? Any clues to help?”
“So the great detective has trouble determining what colour and species a famous thief is? I did see her wings though.” Zee shot back light-heartedly.
“Since when did I become a detective? I just use my common sense. Now lemme think…” Kamia trailed off and thoughtfully licked her popsicle.
Zee cringed slightly. That second statement hurt. But Kamia wouldn’t know that the deductions she provided occasionally were a great help to the Defenders. That last time, when a diamond was stolen, Zee had asked Kamia for her opinion, discreetly, of course. With some clues given, Kamia easily solved it like a kid solving ‘one plus one’.
“Ah hah! Got it! It’s either a Buzz or a Shoyru. The head shape resembles those species, and her colour is definitely not Baby or Glowing.” Kamia finally concluded.
“Wow, you’re a genius Kamia!” Zee smiled at her best friend.
“Nah, it’s nothing. I have one question of my own though.” Kamia stared at her popsicle.
“How do you know that Shadow Bandit has wings? You can’t tell from here.” Kamia pointed to a blurry picture of Shadow Bandit in the newspaper. Zee glared silently at the picture and mentally cursed Shadow Bandit once again. This time, for hiding her wings.
“Ah, well…” Zee was interrupted by Kamia’s sneezing.
“Sorry, someone must be scolding me for some reason. Go on.”
“I kind of saw her open her wings when I was walking past the National Neopian last night.”
“You said you were busy.” Kamia accused.
“I-I-I was! I just finished doing a chore and I was walking home!” Zee raised both of her paws.
“Right.” Kamia glowered at Zee, who tried not to break under her friend’s intensive glare.
“Whatever. If I remember correctly, you promised to go with me to Happy Valley and buy me an ice cream.” Kamia finished off her popsicle and walked away. Zee breathed out a sigh of relief. That was one of the reasons Kamia was her best friend. Kamia let things slide easily. But Zee was starting to get worried that Kamia would find out. Her best friend was smart, it wouldn’t be logical for her not to realise that sooner or later.
“Coming?” Kamia called over her shoulder.
“Yep! Wait up!” Zee ran to catch up with her best friend.
“I want a double, no, triple scoop chocolate chip ice cream, got that?” Kamia called out.
“You just ate a popsicle. Too much of those sweet stuff will make you fat.”
“Three words for that. I. Don’t. Care.” Kamia stuck out her tongue.
“No. Nu-uh. I’m not getting on that.” Zee protested and backpedalled, crashing into a by-passer. The by-passer grumbled angrily and moved off.
“Too bad.” Kamia smirked and pulled Zee onto the ice slide with her.
“No! It’s dangerous!” Zee screamed as the both of them slid down at an alarmingly high speed.
When the both of them got down, Zee panted heavily and collapsed onto the ground.
“Oh ground, dear sweet ground, I’m never leaving you again.” She buried her face in the snow.
“C-COLD!” Kamia laughed at Zee as she bounced up, shrieking.
“I’m never letting you take me on another ice slide again.”
“Alright then. Let’s go to the Snowager’s Cave!”
To be continued…