By the time I reached the Chocolate Factory, night was
long over and the dusty pink rays of the sun were just beginning to shoot through
the pale blue and gray sky. I hadn't slept a wink all day or night, but I still
felt wide-awake. Just before I entered the building, I decided to contact Shelly,
hoping and praying that she wasn't near Saysha or Vilux when she picked up the
The walkie-talkie beeped once... twice... and
then, "Ez? What is it?" Shelly sounded agitated, as though she was in a tight
"Shelly, I'm just outside the Chocolate Factory.
Now, when I come in, I need you to be ready. We'll have to jump them. Don't
worry, I've got tons of weapons." I patted the hefty sack of items at my side.
Shelly didn’t reply for a few seconds, and for
a moment, I thought that she had been discovered and disconnected, but her voice
soon broke the silence. "Alright. Vilux and Saysha are in the main office, just
take the third door on your left."
"Okay. I'll see you in a bit, Shelly."
I clicked the walkie-talkie off and shoved it
back inside its compartment at my belt. I took a deep breath before opening
the door, and allowed myself a few minutes to get centered. When I was finally
ready, I flicked my shades back over my eyes and pushed open the door.
From the inside, this building looked nothing
like an abandoned Chocolate Factory. It was carpeted with lush purple and gold
rugs, and the walls were decorated with rare portraits of famous Gelerts throughout
the ages. Obviously, Team Alpha was proud of their species, even though they
were low down thieves. I stepped cautiously along the hallway, careful not to
upset any of the many, many piles of rare items that the Gelerts had collected
from their past missions.
I remembered what Shelly had said, that Vilux
and Saysha were in the third door to my left. I counted them mentally as I strode
along, keeping close to the wall. One, two... and three! The door sported a
large golden knocker in the shape of a Gelert's head and a fancy brass plate
with the engraved words, "main office." This had to be it. I flexed my claws,
braced myself, and kicked the door open. I quickly drew out a few select weapons,
including my new favorite, the Fire and Ice Sword. I leapt in with a ferocious
battlecry, tossing Shelly the Rainbow Swirly Thing and some other weapons. But,
to my immense surprise, Shelly didn't follow my lead and begin attacking the
wiry shadowed Gelert standing in the center of room. No, on the contrary, she
did nothing at all.
I dropped my weapons in confusion and threw a
puzzled look in Shelly's direction. She smirked at me, and padded over to Vilux's
side. She chuckled harshly, tossing her walkie-talkie at my feet, the shock
causing me to fall down on my tail. I was completely in the dark. I stared helplessly
at Shelly, a very bad feeling beginning to grow in the pit of my stomach.
"Shelly..." I said desperately. "What's going
Shelly smiled at me, her eyes flashing. Her ears
stood rigid, something which always happened when she was feeling especially
vindictive. "I switched sides, Ezanna. For real."
My first impulse was to laugh. It was just a
joke, a twisted, vile joke. I chuckled weakly, but stopped short when I saw
that she was serious. After that, a mixture of emotions began to well up inside
of me. Bewilderment, panic and anger. Immense anger. "Why?" I croaked,
still partly believing that this was just some horrible dream.
"Vilux gave me an offer that I couldn't refuse,"
she replied, her voice smooth and cold. "I'll be much richer working with Team
Alpha, you see. Much richer than I would've been with you and Battlesunn."
"Well you picked the wrong side!" I stammered,
standing shakily to my feet. "Because I'm going to defeat all of you! I've got
the weapons to do it!" I was completely petrified, but my voice grew stronger
as I continued. "If I have to put you in jail, too, Shelly... Then so be it."
Shelly was still smiling. "And what makes you
so confident, Ezanna?"
I smiled. "Because your main fighter is stuck
in a cave! I know that Saysha and Vilux are weaklings. You're the only strong
one left, and I can easily take you down with a few well chosen Hidden Tower
weapons." I snarled, pulling a pair of Asparagus Chucks out of my bag.
I had expected the smile to drain away from Shelly's
face upon hearing this latest announcement, but it didn't. Instead, it seemed
to grow even larger. "I wouldn't be so sure of that…" she hissed.
A loud crash coming from behind me caused me
to turn around. I groaned in despair as a terrible sight met my eyes. There,
framed in the doorway, stood Kybo. Behind him, I could see a telltale golden
glimmer that told me, straightaway, that Saysha had obviously gone and freed
Kybo. Vilux smirked at me.
"Unfortunately for you, Krawk, us members of
Team Alpha have a way of keeping in contact as well. " He pointed to a gleaming
silver stud in his right ear. "This can carry signals from one of us to the
other. Luckily, Kybo was able to send us his location and current state… So
retrieving him was quite easy."
I was so preoccupied with Vilux that I didn’t
even notice Shelly sneaking up behind Kybo, a Portable Kiln clasped firmly in
her paws. I saw Vilux’s sneering face contort into one of anger as he saw what
was going on behind me.
"Hey!" he barked. "What do you think you’re doing?!"
I whipped my head around to see what was going
on, and saw Shelly, standing over Kybo, who had been knocked out for the third
time. Shelly grinned and winked at me, shouting, "Go Ez! Take down Vilux, I’ll
take care of Saysha."
I laughed out loud with relief. Shelly had been
on my side all along! She had just been pretending, like a real undercover double
agent. With renewed morale, I whipped out my beloved Fire and Ice Blade and
charged at Vilux, ready to take him down. He was quick though, and dodged easily
out of the way.
I hadn’t done much fighting in the Battledome;
and was never a very tough contender, since my owner spent all Codestones and
Dubloons on Shelly. Still, I knew that I was going to have to do it, or else
me and Shelly would be in very deep trouble. Especially Shelly, since she had
double-crossed them. The thought seemed to stiffen my resolve, and I fought
with greater ferocity than I’d have imagined.
Vilux may have been quick, and clever, but he
wasn’t very strong. He was also weaponless, something that gave me a great advantage.
Okay, so it wasn’t very chivalrous, but I didn’t really care. I’m not a Meridell
The battle was over surprisingly quickly. Once
I had Vilux cornered, he was easy to defeat, too weak to really fight. I smiled,
glancing at Shelly, who was just tying the final knots on the rope that she
had used to tie Saysha and Kybo together. I managed to catch her eye, and she
came over to help me deal with the unconscious Vilux. Shelly grinned.
"Not bad, Ez. You should try the Battledome sometime,"
she said, inspecting the fallen Gelert.
"Nah," I replied, twirling my flaming Sword in
my claws. "It’s a bit too exciting for my taste." It was then that I remembered
the thought that had been nagging at the back of my mind.
"Say, Shelly… Why did you pretend to switch sides?
With me, I mean. I didn’t quite see the logic, wouldn’t have our original plan
worked?" I asked, wrapping a small bit of my hair around one of my claws.
Shelly laughed, her eyes sparkling. "Ezanna,
you are so lucky to have me along!" She shook her head pityingly at me. "Vilux
told me earlier that Kybo had contacted them, about a minute or two after you
called. He said that Kybo had told him that you knew where the Headquarters
were and that you were coming… And that he was trapped inside the cave. I knew
that we would never be able to take all three Gelerts on at once, had I shown
my true colors as a foe, so I lured them into a false sense of security. I knew
that once I had put Kybo out of commission, the fight would be easy."
I furrowed my brow, trying to understand. "Okay,
but then how come you didn’t wink at me or something so that I knew?"
"It was way too risky, Ez. Vilux would’ve seen,
and then we would’ve been in big trouble. That Gelert sees just about everything…
And anyway, it was a lot more convincing when you didn’t know the truth. Did
I ever tell you that you’re a terrible actor?"
I smiled. "Well, you certainly aren’t! You really
had me fooled there."
Shelly nodded, and I thought I saw the faint
traces of a blush spreading across her face. "Why, thank you. You’re a good
spy, Ez, and an excellent brother—" Shelly was interrupted by the sound of many
feet pattering us. I gasped with shock as I realized who it was.
"Shelly! It’s our petpets!"
So it was. Mr. Claws, Webbleflub, Crop Circle,
(actually, he was being carried by Mr. Claws and Webbleflub, being too lazy
to move) ?and Muerte, my Gruslen. I laughed with joy as the little black Petpet
leapt into my arms, nuzzling me with his tusks. I glanced over and saw Shelly
grinning, too, as Mr. Claws purred contentedly in her paws.
I smiled warmly as I remembered why Shelly and
I had come all this way in the first place. It was for this single moment of
unrestrained joy at having our Petpets back, safe from harm, that we had gone
through all those trials and tribulations. And, at that very moment, as I cuddled
my wonderful Gruslen against my scales, I couldn’t have imagined any greater