What does it mean to be a Neopian? To live, breath, simply exist? There are so many lives woven together in so many ways it would be simply impossible to answer that question. So instead, look at a scene or two and see through the eyes of someone else, if only for a short while.
It was getting rather ridiculous. She should not be having to do this, she should not have to be constantly checking over her shoulder and freezing at every little sound that reached her oversized Acara ears. She just simply shouldn't. And yet… for the millionth time she spun and froze, one hand on the side of her helmet, pulling the headpiece away from her ears to listen better to her surroundings. Yes. Someone was coming. With a hiss she spun out of the room, fumbling for the panel with one gloved hand until her fingers contacted the door switch, causing it to hiss seamlessly shut behind her. She then leaned against the wall, nonchalantly drawing one of the various tools at her belt – careful to make sure it wasn't her blaster – and casually began examining it, popping off one of the panels just to make it look even more convincing. Right on cue, a uniformed guard came around the corner and upon spotting her made his way over, watching the slender blue Acara suspiciously, taking in her tight brown space suit and the myriad of striped scarves that hung from her shoulders, the ends torn and ragged from the years.
"What are you doing back here?" he demanded and she looked up in feigned surprise.
"Oh! I wasn't aware this was a restricted area… it isn't is it? Didn't see any signs…"
She trailed off in confusion, glancing aside and blinking her eyes a couple times, putting on her best innocent little Acara act.
"No, it isn't, but it's best if you not loiter around here," the guard said gruffly.
"Can I finish fixing this first?"
She held up her tool with one paw, carefully turning it so that he couldn't tell exactly what it was and what it was designed for. The guard stared at her for a moment and she smiled innocently once more until he shrugged and walked off with one last muttered warning. The Acara watched him for a moment until he vanished around a corner before falling back against the wall with a sigh of relief.
"Ylana Skyfire," she told herself, "You can't keep going on like this. You're too high a caliber mercenary to work under these conditions and Sloth is paying that… that… AISHA as much as he's paying you."
She sighed deeply and turned back to the door, once again punching in the stolen access code and slipping inside to check the upload process on the terminal. Almost done. Another sigh and she flicked one of the scarves back over her shoulder, a thoughtful look in her pastel purple eyes. She had lied to herself a moment ago – she would do anything for the amount of neopoints she was being paid. But still. She needed to have a word with her supposed partner.
The Aisha was being an attention hog when Ylana hunted her down later, as always. It always seemed to wind up this way – the Acara slipping down corridors and going places she wasn't supposed to be while the pink four-eared alien Aisha sat around and sipped drinks that matched her fur and had little garnishes stuck on the side. 'Gathering information,' the other mercenary called it. Ylana called it sheer laziness.
She paused at the entrance to the café, first surveying the layout of the place. It was a lot nicer than some of the other places to eat on Virtupets but the exits were atrocious. Located near the edge of the station, it provided a gorgeous view of the stars beyond through the transparent top. However, the lack of metal meant that exits were constrained to only two doors – one leading into the kitchen area and the one she was standing in. Ylana had tried to explain why that was a bad thing, but the pink Aisha insisted that this was the only place that made good drinks. Not that the Acara knew – she wasn't really one for spending money. Her own outfit attested to that – functional armor with enough holds for her gadgets and weaponry. Nothing more.
Now the Aisha… that was a different story. Ylana could just gag at the pastels as she made her way to the counter she sat at, a drink at her elbow. Her blaster was out, a stylish thing of sleek blue metal and new paint. With one hand she held it behind her head, just finishing up some story, and glanced aside with a charming grin, the dimple on her cheek turning up at the movement. Her white hair was bound in a flowing ponytail with trails hanging behind her smaller ears around her shoulders, orange streaks offsetting the uniformity of it. And that suit. Form-fitting purple with highlights of red and orange. Ylana sometimes wondered if the stuff would provide any protection at all if they were caught in a fight. But that was Sophix II – if she didn't look good in the process she wasn't doing it.
"So after I blasted the lot of them I rounded them all up and called security to come collect the lot," the Aisha was finishing up to her small yet attentive crowd, "And that was the end of it."
"Did you get paid?"
"Of course!" she replied with a tinkling laugh, "I don't work for free, of course. But someday this mercenary gig will be done with and I'll be a singer, just you wait!"
"Do you have any songs out yet?" one of her admirers asked with an eager glance and the Aisha was about to reply when Ylana slammed both paws on the counter, causing the glasses strewn across it to jump, the liquids trembling in their containers.
"Oh, its you, Ms. Rag-tag," the Aisha yawned and gestured at her crowd, "Sorry boys, talk to you later I suppose…"
"Rag-tag?" Ylana said stiffly, "Hold still for a second and we'll see if that suit of yours actually protects you from my blaster."
"Pssh. Of course it will – there's something to be said for working for slime-head – he sure can cough up decent technology. No rules against fashion and progress going hand in hand."
"Don't say that," the Acara replied stiffly, easing herself into a stool next to the Aisha, "Don't know who will overhear and figure out who we work for."
"You worry too much Ylana."
"You don't worry enough Sophix."
"Honestly, have you ever cut back and relaxed? Is it always just business to you?"
For a moment the two pet's eyes met and held – Ylana's back straight and shoulders back, Sophix loose and with hair draping elegantly over one slouched arm.
"Look, I'm not worthless, you know," the alien Aisha finally said with a sigh, admitting that she did indeed know the source of Ylana's irritation, "Although you sure seem to think so."
"Than prove me wrong."
"Alright, I will."
She tapped one purple-gloved finger on the counter before snatching for her drink and draining it with one gulp. Then her attention focused back on Ylana, who in turn cast glances in all directions to ensure there was no one listening in.
"Did you see that Kougra I was talking to?" she finally asked, "Well, he's a security guard for the main bridge of this station. He also happens to think I'm something which I intend to take full advantage of."
A sly smile and Sophix rested her chin on her hand.
"Think about it. I stop him in the corridor on his way to work. 'Oh, fancy seeing you here!'"
The Aisha's voice raised a pitch or two and Ylana winced from the sheer simpering girlyness of it all. Than it fell again into a more subtle, sly tone and the Acara leaned closer to hear what she said next.
"Then – BAM. You crack him over the head with whatever that stick it is you carry-"
"Whatever. And he's down. So we drag him out of the way and borrow his access card for a couple moments – however long it takes for you to make a copy of one of those things."
Ylana's hand fell to her side, resting on a small silver box as her mind turned over the implications of Sophix's plan.
"Bada binga boom. We've got access to the bridge. You skedaddle and I wake poor ickle Kougra up and start crooning that he just keeled over and he really should go to the infirmary, it's not normal to just faint like that. He's not the brightest and if I bat my eyes enough he'll lose what little sense he possesses. Follow me, my fashion-impaired friend?"
"I follow you," Ylana said stiffly, "And it's about time you started pulling your weight anyways."
Sophix pulled her lips into a perfect pout and reached for her drink, belatedly realizing it was empty. She seemed about to single for another when her eyes caught the look on Ylana's face.
"Oh, alright. We'll head back to our apartments and you can show me all the goodies you came up with today."
"And one more thing," Ylana added, tapping on the pieces on her helmet that stuck to her ears, the antennas on other side, "Next time you're actually watching my back instead of hanging out down here. These things are worthless if there isn't someone on the other end to actually tell me someone's coming."
Sophix studied her critically and sighed deeply, shoving off her stool and stretching dramatically, hands over her head. About half the bar turned to watch the display.
"Very well, if you insist," she moped artfully, "You're still miffed at me, aren't you. Ah well, I can make it up to you."
Ylana stood as well, following the Aisha stiffly from the room, her scarves bobbing in time to her companion's ears.
"A makeover, of course!"
She turned and gave the horrified Acara a cheeky grin.
"Oh, nothing drastic! Just new scarves – those things look like they're about to fall apart. I think I have some pink ones with the Sloth emblem on them, hah, just kidding. I have some blue ones that'll match your fur perfectly."
And after a moment Ylana laughed, a short little sound and soon Sophix joined in with a giggle of her own, until the two mercenaries were walking side by side down the corridors of the space station, not really friends, but allies nonetheless.