Come dance with the gypsies... Circulation: 115,191,906 Issue: 230 | 9th day of Running, Y8
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The Kreludan Conspiracy: Part Three


by azellica

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I felt weak. Incredibly weak... and tired. As if I had just finished a Virtupets training session. I wearily opened my eyes and saw that the room I was in surrounded me with thick metal walls. I was sprawled in a chair. I remembered what had happened.

      Lieutenant Hwex had stunned me and locked me in his office! Slowly my mind retraced the past events. He said I was going to interfere with something. I slowly put the pieces together. Did Hwex want the construction of the base to be stopped?

      I pulled myself to my feet and examined my prison. The only door was a thick slab of metal that was bolted from the outside. There was no way I could force my way out. Perfect. I groaned and slunk back into the chair.

      Why would Hwex do this to me? I needed answers, and I needed to escape. I opened the screen on my watch.

      "Open broadcast transmitter," I said.

      "Error. Transmitter has been disabled. Broadcasting is not possible," the computer's tiny voice argued.

      It seemed as if Hwex had taken away my means of communication. I had no other ideas so I gave up for a while and thought about what was going on. There was definitely something fishy about the situation. Locking up commanders was a serious offence and-

      BLEEP! BLEEP! BLEEP!

      My watch suddenly started to beep. "Open mail," I commanded. Apparently I could still receive messages even if I couldn't send them.

      "Downloading message please wait... Download complete. Open now or later?"

      "Now!" I cried.

      "Opening file, please wait," the screen faded until it showed the Boss leaning into a high-backed chair.

      "The message is being broadcast to Commander Roack. Commander, I have reason to suspect that you have been engaging in treacherous activities. You will therefore immediately leave on the next shuttle and return to the space station for trial. Do not try to escape; the consequences will only be even more unpleasant. Due to security reasons, this message will self destruct in ten... nine...."

      Yikes!

      Suddenly I had an idea. I peeled off my watch and shoved it under the crack below the door.

      "Five... four..."

      I dragged Hwex's desk over to the far corner of the room and flung myself behind it.

      "Two... one..."

      BOOM!

      The desk squished me against the wall, but it protected me from the heat of the explosion. I slowly looked up and saw that a huge hole lay where the door used to be. Smoke slowly cleared from the room. I jumped spryly to my feet and escaped. I dodged around to the backside of the building and observed several workers running my way to examine the cause of the explosion. Then I slowly slunk away from the area and crept behind several rock formations.

      From my position, I could see that the transport shuttle had left a long time ago and that I was stranded. Was my team still here? I squinted at the camp. A few workers loitered around, but I couldn't tell if they were my team or not. When was the next transport ship going to arrive? It could be days until I got out of here, and there was no way I could return to the camp.

      "Are you still here, sir?" a rather timid voice came from behind me.

      I whirled around and saw Irt perched on a rock behind me.

      "What's going on, soldier?" I demanded.

      Irt looked at me curiously. "Lieutenant Hwex had informed us that you had urgent business back home and that you had immediately left with the shuttle."

      "That's not true; he stunned me and locked me up! And now the Boss thinks I'm 'engaging in treacherous activities!' I need to get out of here as soon as possible."

      "The next shuttle won't be here for a few days at least, sir," Irt informed me. "The lieutenant locked you up? Why would he do that?"

      "I don't have time to answer all of your questions. I need to escape. What are you doing way out here anyways? Why aren't you at camp?"

      "I came out here to write some poetry, sir." Irt smiled.

      "Poetry?" I gave him a rather exasperated look.

      "Yes sir, it is when you have a whole bunch of lines that rhyme on the end," he said smartly.

      "I know what poetry is, you fool," I snapped. "Why are you sitting out here writing it instead of guarding the construction site?"

      "Well sir, Lieutenant Hwex informed us that there was no need to guard the site so we are free to do what ever we like until we leave. I enjoy writing poems. Do you want to hear what I have so far?" Before I could stop him he began to recite. "Whether they be neutral, minion, or anti-folk, all should admire Commander Roack. For he is-"

      "That's enough," I said. "My life is in danger here soldier. I need you to help me."

      "Of course, sir," he put aside his poem. "What can I do?"

      I sat down on the rock beside him. "I need somewhere to stay until the next transport shuttle arrives. I need to find somewhere that is safe and has food and water. I can't hide out here alone. It gets too cold at night."

      "Why don't you hide in the base, sir?"

      "Are you crazy? It'll be swarming with workers."

      "No sir. There is hardly anyone working there. I understand that for some reason construction is going very slowly. The base is usually empty, but it is heated, and there are a few rations there. You could hide there for a few days until the ship comes. Then I could find a way to smuggle you on board."

      I considered it for a few minutes. "Alright, soldier. Lead me to the base."

      We crept around the camp very slowly. Kreludor doesn't have a lot of gravity and it's hard to keep low to the ground. My feet insisted on bouncing and I had to cling to the rocks to prevent myself from popping up. As we circled the camp I saw a few of my teammate's playing card games and reading journals. They had no idea what was going on. It was an outrage to know that I, a Virtupets commander, had to crawl around in the grey dust while my soldiers lounged around.

      After a while, we came to a road that lead down the ravine and into the crater below. Irt and I carefully traveled along the side, watching for any traffic.

      "This is hardly necessary, sir," Irt insisted. "No one comes here. We're perfectly safe."

      "It never hurts to take precautions," I told him gruffly. "I don't want to be discovered. They'll be searching for me when they've found I've escaped."

      The road turned and suddenly dipped down into a huge crater. Far below lay abandoned mining equipment and machinery. We slowly descended into the shadow of the crater.

      "Actually," Irt told me. "I don't believe they've gotten any work done for a long time. Apparently equipment keeps breaking down and materials keep going missing."

      "I know. That is why we're here; to find out why."

      The bottom of the crater was dry and dark. Huge piles of mined rock were scattered around. What looked like the beginning of a runway was lying engraved in the rock. Irt showed me to a huge gaping hole in the side of the rock.

      "This is the entrance," he informed me. "They are still expanding some of the tunnels so they haven't sealed it yet with a door."

      I slowly approached the entrance and stared into the blackness. "Are there lights?" I asked.

      "Yup," Irt beamed. "Fortunately there is electricity and heat in the base. Actually, the main areas have already been built. Construction was going extremely well until a few months ago. Then everything stopped."

      "Lights on," I said to the air and suddenly the entrance was filled with low orange light. I turned to Irt, "Have you discovered what happened a few months ago?"

      "Well sir, I have been speaking to some of the workers. Apparently the former lieutenant had an accident and lost her memory. Then she disappeared completely. So Lieutenant Hwex was sent here instead, and since then things have been going even more slowly. The workers don't really mind because they still get paid, but Dr. Sloth has been sending spies to investigate what's going on and they've disappeared as well."

      "I bet Hwex is behind this somehow." I looked around the base. The main area was a large dome carved into the rock with metal panels covering the walls and floor. Rocks were scattered across the floor and a few burn marks were scorched into the metal.

      "They had an explosion here a few weeks ago," Irt said.

      "I'm going to search the area and find rations for myself. I want you to return to camp and pretend that you never found me. Come back tonight with some food and water, and meet me here in case I can't find anything to eat."

      "Alright sir." Irt bowed. "Hwex might be looking for you though so be careful."

      I nodded gruffly and then began to comb through the base. There were many hallways, but most of them lead to dead ends. A lot of raw rock was piled against the walls and crates of materials were stacked in towers. I discovered a few empty storage rooms and the beginnings of an armory. The base should nearly be finished by now according to the schedule, but by the looks of things, it would take months and months to complete it.

      In the armory I found several boxes containing equipment. I picked out a sleep-ray and a communicator. Sleep-rays allowed you to put a person to sleep for a few minutes. They were less effective then stun guns but they were good for get-a-ways. I put it in my belt and then switched on the communicator and tried to get a signal.

      Nothing.

      There was no battery in the device. I sighed and pocketed it anyways. I was about to find somewhere to sit down, when I thought I heard a voice coming from somewhere. I slowly moved around the room until I had an ear pressed against the wall. There was someone inside; I could hear them talking. I punched into a metal panel as hard as I could and put a huge dent in it. A crack appeared between it and the adjacent panel so I grabbed a piece of scrap metal and pried the panel off. I peered into the hole and saw a tired looking Kacheek curled inside. She looked at me with scared eyes.

      "W-who are you?" she whimpered.

      "I am Commander Roack," I said strongly. "Come out of there. Were you trapped?"

      She slowly climbed out of the wall and got to her feet. "I've been in there forever. Someone opens the door every day and gives me food. It's like a cage." She was wearing a Virtupets uniform with a lieutenant's badge pinned to the front.

      "Who are you?" I asked slowly.

      "I-I don't really know," she said. "I know I am someone, but I just can't remember who."

      "I think I know," I said. "You were Lieutenant Davra, weren't you? You lost your memory. You are the missing Lieutenant."

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» The Kreludan Conspiracy: Part One
» The Kreludan Conspiracy: Part Two



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