Behind the Forbidden Door: Part Nine
"Here they come!" Lerox scrambled into the copilot's seat
of the four-man assault ship and watched with wide eyes as the Space Faerie sped
toward them with Tishka cradled in her arms.
Flingon had known he was growing protective
of his new young friends, but he hadn't realized just how much so. The sight
of the whip mark on Tishka's face made him want to strangle something, but with
an effort he drew his mind back to the task at hand. He tapped a few buttons
and the backseat doors slid open, allowing the two newcomers to enter.
"Don't close the doors," the Space Faerie said
as soon as she set Tishka down. "I can fly to Neopia as fast as you can, and
anyway I have work to do here before I join you." With that, she slipped back
out of the small vessel.
Tishka frowned. "How are we going to get out?"
she asked. "Do the doors to the docking bay even work?"
"No, they don't," Flingon answered, "so we're
going to have to improvise."
Without further explanation he touched the controls,
and the assault ship rose and hovered a few feet off the floor, then swung around
to face the door and let loose a barrage of laser beams. The doors were blasted
into fragments, and the small vessel slid out into the blackness of space.
"What's the Space Faerie doing?" Lerox wanted
"She's going to push all of the remaining shuttles
and stuff out of the docking bay, so no one can use them to escape," Tishka
replied. "And she wants us to go straight to Neopia and start shooting down
Sloth's bombers and fighter planes."
Flingon nodded and punched in the necessary
commands. "He was planning on sending bombers manned by droids to attack Neopia
Central. That's where we're going. I'd rather blast a robot than kill a living
Neopet. I just wish Sloth felt the same way."
As far as he could tell, he was the only one
left. Twisting and dodging and looking at his radar whenever he could, Judge
Hog wondered how many of his defenders had died while he struggled to avoid
being shot down himself, unable to help the others except by making Sloth pay
as dearly as possible for his death. Shooting straight up and hearing an explosion
beneath him as two of the enemy planes collided in their eagerness to pursue
him, Judge Hog saw another Sloth vessel heading directly toward him. It was
large and powerful, and obviously very advanced- far more so than his own one-man
fighter. Surely he couldn't survive this.
Shyla screamed and hung on to Xanro as fifteen
large vessels set down on the newly leveled area and opened their doors, and
as row upon row of laser-armed robots stalked toward the ravaged village, Xanro
moved to stand between them and his wife and prepared to sell his life dearly.
Princess Amira watched in horror as a similar
invasion moved toward Sakhmet Palace, and she knew that her army, armed with
Lost Desert and Cobrall Daggers, Scarab Stone Slingshots, and other such primitive
equipment would never be able to stand against such a horrible assault. It seemed
certain that the Lost Desert really would be lost.
Tayna screamed and Ulanda whinnied with terror
as the Space Station rocked under fire from dozens of battleships, and security
guards armed with Virtupets Energy Sabres, laser pistols and Mechaberry Bombs
struggled to repel the army of mutant Grundos which threatened to sweep through
In Faerieland, Queen Fyora struggled to keep
up with the reports of death and destruction and to organize a counterattack,
while fighter planes zoomed over the Hidden Tower like roaring green heralds
The Spider Grundo II hissed and spat like an
infuriated Wocky, but Magax paid its noise little heed. Swinging his Darklight
axe with all the strength in his body, he severed the evil creature's head,
which freed him to turn his attention to the Spider Grundos III, IV, V, VI,
and so on- he wasn't certain just how many of the horrid things had suddenly
invaded the Haunted Woods. All he knew was that one of them had just fired a
sticky lasso of spider silk at his back, and was starting to reel him in. Swinging
his axe blindly over his head, the Wocky warrior was relieved to feel the tugging
sensation ease. A few seconds later, the offending mutant had joined its fallen
brother, and Magax was flinging himself at yet another assailant. 'Hubrid
Nox,' he thought, 'if you were responsible for these, I am going to have
"I don't care what you say it is. I am trying
to have my lunch." King Skarl was not in the mood for bothering about whatever
it was that the young messenger was trying to tell him about. Or at least, not
until the wine he was drinking flew up into his face as his entire castle shook
from the impact of a bomb which had fallen only meters away from the foundation.
Spluttering with rage, the fat king bellowed, "Guards! Go and arrest whoever
was responsible for that!" Seeing that his lunch was scattered across the floor,
he added as an afterthought, "Wait- I believe I shall accompany you." The Draik
guards fell into step behind him, and before anybody could point out that he
was going to get himself killed Skarl had stalked out of the room in a fury,
apparently failing to realize that any petty hooligan could stand up to the
king of Meridell.
It was no mischievous peasant who greeted the
king at the door, but a hulking mutant Grundo with a laser in his hand. "AAGH!"
The king whirled around to flee back into his castle, but before he could take
two steps the Grundo extended its free hand and grabbed him by the back of his
robe, dragging the Skeith toward itself using its laser to blast Skarl's escort
into unconsciousness. Several guards who had been watching through the windows
raced toward the door, but it was only too obvious that there was no way they
could get to Skarl in time. It looked like this was going to be the end of the
Grumpy Old King.
A steely-faced droid beeped orders to the robots
under its command as it prepared to open fire. Judge Hog was fleeing straight
upward with nowhere else to dodge between five of Sloth's fighters who were
staying right beside him and cutting off his escape.
Firing in five... four... three... two... the
transmission was suddenly cut off as the newcomer opened fire on the lead droid
bomber, sending it plummeting to the ground in an orange ball of fire. Five
more ships fell in as many seconds as Lerox targeted them one after another
with startling accuracy, leaving Tishka free to maneuver the craft while Flingon
tried to tap into the droids' main command programs.
"I've almost got it," he reported. "They all
seem to be tied into the same master program- if I can get control of that,
half of our problems will be over."
"HOW DARE YOU! DO YOU REALIZE WHO IT IS THAT
YOU HAVE LAID YOUR LOWLY HANDS ON?!" Skarl screamed in panic and useless fury
as the Grundo lifted him off the ground by his ears and turned him around so
that he was staring into its glowing eyes. The towering terror raised its laser
for the kill, and cruel smile twisting its features...
"Ungh." Suddenly it toppled sideways, losing
its hold on Skarl and sending the king sprawling.
As Skarl watched in astonishment, something
behind the fallen Grundo moved, then walked calmly into his line of vision.
"Valrigard? The traitor?" Looking around, Skarl saw that the gate and nearest
wall of the dungeon had been obliterated by a bomb.
For a moment Valrigard looked like he was going
to give Skarl the same treatment he had given the Grundo, but instead he lowered
his sword and hissed in a low voice, "I'm not a traitor. Haven't you got that
into your head yet?"
With that he poked at the king's fallen assailant,
and Skarl didn't know what to say, except "No, perhaps you're not. It seems
I- A-AH-AAAGH, there's another one! Get it away from me!" With that, the terrified
Skeith turned tail and fled back into his castle, leaving Valrigard to alternate
rolling his eyes and dispatching mutant Grundos who got a little too close.
All over Neopia ordinary Neopets were becoming
heroes. Pets who were strong enough to fight rallied around the children, elderly
and infirm, defending them with everything they had. Magax continued his battle
against a horde of Spider Grundos; the strongest Faeries from Faerieland descended
upon Sloth's soldiers all over the globe like a tempest from above; the army
of Meridell, including Jeran and the newly pardoned Valrigard, performed amazing
feats of swordsmanship against an army of mutants; and Flingon, Tishka and Lerox
joined forces with Judge Hog as they struggled to prevail in a chaotic aerial
shoot-out against dozens of Sloth droids. But the people of Neopia were still
hopelessly outnumbered, their greatest peril being the droids, against which
no weapon in the more primitive realms was effective.
Xanro bared his teeth at the nearest robot and
tried to determine the best way to tackle an opponent who was impervious to
both claws and fangs. Shyla pressed up beside him, her eyes wide and her body
shaking. With mechanical coordination, the droids simultaneously raised their
weapons, aiming at any living thing in sight. Staying between his wife and the
robots, Xanro steeled himself for the end. A hum filled the air as the droids
powered their weapons... Xanro's fur stood up on end...
And then suddenly the droids began pairing up.
Each one faced its partner, and they shook hands, bowed formally, and blasted
each other into oblivion.
To be continued...