"STUPID DOOR! Oh, can we at least break it down?" Voltager screeched,
not heeding the pets in the vicinity, who clutching their heads with nauseated
minds, "We've been stuck in here for no less than five hours!"
Hours had passed since Shoyru's part of the gang were still stuck in the lift.
They were trying to budge it by force, and simply by screaming into the emergency
call area. Which after another fall, caused Kacheek to pass out, Voltager to
half-deafen the team and possibly all those in the hospital, and Red to grab
his wings, pulling them over his head in agony.
"Be QUIET!" Felicity yelled back, finally losing her patience with Voltager.
"I've been thinking countless times for ways of escape, and..."
"BREAK-DOWN-THE-DOOR!" Voltager howled, raising a half-tarred fist and swinging
it with a crash at the glass door, shattering glass particles all over the lift.
Squeaking, Kacheek ducked and dodged out of the way, crashing into Red at the
same time and tumbling out onto Floor 9 after tripping over a wailing Voltager's
foot. Felicity flew through the wreckage of the door and landed heavily on her
"I've had it up to here with you now, Voltager," said Felicity, sounding calm
but the voice became distinctly cold. "You do realise how much trouble you are
going to get us in? Yes I'm calm and patient, but now you are trying my patience.
Hold your tongue!" Voltager's wailing voice suddenly snapped off. Instantly.
The suddenness of it surprised Felicity, making it feel to her a bit disconcerting.
Voltager said nothing. She was tight-lipped and straight-faced. Red glanced
back at her in worry.
"Come on Voltager, please loosen up," he tried, but Voltager was a silent as
a mouse who'd just forgotten how to squeak. Kacheek stood waiting no longer.
"Come on, everybody, loosen up, let's go to Ward 693 and discuss about Shoyru,"
he found himself squeaking, "and hurry. We don't want to get caught when hanging
around this wreckage."
"But," started Felicity hopelessly.
"Now," insisted Voltager, and shut up again.
They tumbled onto the floor with a crash.
"Ow," complained Kacheek, rubbing his arm. "You squashed my..."
"Quiet," hissed Felicity, pulling them across the floor. Kacheek squeaked in
severe distaste, and dragged them across the floor around a corner and through
a newly painted white door with 693 across the top into a huge, hospital ward
that could hold almost forty beds aside each other. But in fact, it only had
five beds, and most of the space in one corner was taken up by bunches of medical
equipment piled on top of each other in a mess. The four stared at each other,
and then at a rather solemn looking Linda, who was sitting at the back of the
room in front of a window, tapping a clipboard impatiently with her paws.
"Where on Neopia have you been?" she said aghast, setting the board down on
a small chest-of-drawers beside the furthest bed. "You've been ages. I trust
you haven't been in any major accidents." Linda waved her long ears at Kacheek
whose arm was smeared in blood that was oozing from the bite marks. "I was ever
so worried about you. You were so late that you didn't even catch the news about
some red Shoyru near here..."
Voltager and Red looked puzzled, but Felicity and especially Kacheek stood
straight, gaping at Linda.
"That has to be Wingman," said Kacheek automatically.
Linda sighed and looked sideways sadly. Voltager found herself bursting on
"What happened?" she pressed.
"Wingman, is it?" Linda continued, lowering her voice. "Hours you were lost,
and during those hours I'd been out on the town looking for you, but did I just
have to see this. The infamous Shoyru Gang's top agent has taken him."
Kacheek had a feeling neither he nor anybody else in the hospital would like
what had happened to Wingman. "Then what happened to Wingman?" he asked.
There was a pause.
"He's gone," Linda said at last. "I'm sorry, please sit down on here." She
gestured the shocked, horrified and aghast Kacheek along with the three Shoyru
accompanying him to a bed to sit down.
"I'm afraid we've got to leave the situation behind us for a little while,"
she continued, walking towards the bed where the four lay down reluctantly.
Then she tried to carry on, but Voltager leapt to her feet and threw a cushion
on the floor.
"What do you mean, situation behind us?" she screamed, making even Linda hold
her ears. "Wingman is dead! Gone! BUT NEVER FORGOTTEN!"
"Please be still!" Linda snapped. "Be quiet. What I am trying to tell you,
is that we need to discuss Shoyru's problem, which can too be lethal, I'm afraid,
so let's all listen. I already had an idea it may be an attack of Toxiconta.
A bad one at that."
"Toxi what?" said Kacheek.
"Toxic Continuous Attack," said Linda in a whisper. "More commonly known
as TCA and its short name is Toxiconta. Some say it evolved and bred from the
earliest Neomonia diseases. But legend has it that an attack happened thousands
of years ago and it was exactly the same illness, and a young Neopet knew exactly
what it was and said its name, right in front of the victim."
"What," said Voltager in disbelief, "Toxic Continuous Attack? Do you mean just
saying that it can be bad?"
"Unheard of," said Red, shrugging his shoulders.
"No, if the word 'Toxiconta' is even breathed in the victim's hearing range,
then it'll die, but horribly horrible. It happens in such a way that it spreads
the same terrible disease through the area around the victim, in other words,
in the form of an atomic explosion. That's exactly what happened to the victim
in this story.
"Many hundreds then suffered from the first symptoms, and then the cycles began,
the cycles on the track that landed eventually in destruction itself."
"But," interrupted Voltager, "you said that the illness only happens once or
twice in a millennium, or that it was very rare."
"It it, but something about it, makes it spread, " said Linda. "If its
name is mentioned. We cannot explain why, but we guessed that it had something
to do with Black Magic. In this town we call it the Bad BM, and after that Toxiconta
had started and eventually finished, nobody ever spoke its name again."
"How did you know that the disease is so rare," asked Felicity. "Isn't that
jumping to a conclusion?"
"Generations of my family had miraculously survived the years of the Toxiconta
outbreaks," she continued. "That's how I got to know it. However, since that
outbreak had finished, extremely small proportions of this world know anything
about the disease. And we happen to be those proportions. But, do me, and the
inhabitants of Neopia, a big favour. Never, ever mention Toxiconta out of
Felicity looked rather superstitious about this.
"I don't think that's possible," she said at last, as she rolled the thought
in her mind. "It's too incredible to believe."
"You've only got one chance to find out and that'll get him," said Linda sharply.
"If you want to find out whether or not my story is correct then Shoyru will
have to perish. You can't test trust in these occasions!"
Felicity looked rather taken aback. A new thought raced in her head like a
firework rocket ready to bang.
"I do beg your pardon," she said quickly, "I... er" She floundered, and stopped
altogether. Kacheek was busy sobbing into his unhurt arm and letting the bleeding
one flop about at a loose end. Voltager was on the end of the bed, teeth chattering.
Red remained still but deeply hurt and shocked.
"Well," he began, nervously. "It looks like we're going to have to tell him
about Wingman. He has right to know, he is a close friend."
He stopped talking, then, just as Felicity moved forwards to make a speech,
Voltager threw another cushion on the floor with such force that it bounced,
and pushed both Shoyru aside in her rage.
"We CAN'T tell him," she snapped. "He'll only commit suicide! He's extremely
reckless! He'd do anything for his friends! If he finds that Wingman has been
destroyed, he'll die of shock! And..."
"Oh SHUT UP!" screamed Felicity, and at that, Voltager retrieved the cushion,
sat on the bed and reduced to shivering again. "We're trying to sort things
out here! And I already warned you that I'd lost my patience with you Voltager.
Your brother's gone, for goodness sake! One of your closest relations, even
closer than Wingman was to Shoyru! YOU didn't die in shock!" She paused, and
satisfied herself that she now had Voltager's attention. She carried on, quietly.
"I know Shoyru is weak, yes," she continued. "But we tell him later, when he's
physically stronger. I'll ask him to promise to do nothing reckless from now
on. He'll keep his promise as a friend, even if one of them... is... gone..."
She suddenly broke down on the floor weeping.
Linda was listening politely to the conversations.
"Really, Felicity?" she said with a yawn. Her eyes were going slightly red.
"That was most inconvenient. The whole hospital will have raised itself under
the bellowing from up here. The session is over. Now I ask if you could come
down the lift with me again? I believe that Geraldine would have helped your
Shoyru friend a little by now, and..."
"Th... THE LIFT?" screamed Voltager before she could stop herself. But Felicity
turned around and stared directly into Voltager's eyes, and she knew that was
a signal to shut up.
"Yes dear," said Linda, slightly raising her eyebrows, "the lift. May I beg
your pardon about what matters there are on this subject Voltager?" She straightened
her eyebrows again and gazed rather gravely it seemed, into Voltager's eyes,
which embarrassingly enough began to water again with fear.
Red jumped from the bed and ran around in circles around the area in which
the bed lay. The monotony of this now was incredible, and Wingman gone. So he
had to leave it behind him for now, he couldn't take any more. As he passed
the bed for the fourth time, he stopped, jogging on the spot, and whispered
into Voltager's ear-range.
"You're on your own on this one, I'm afraid," he said.