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A Break in Memory: Part Three


by appaloosa500

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In Part two: Khargana, Rocky, Kay, and Mr. and Mrs. Sonix discover DeSoni is missing. DeSoni, having returned to his old mission base, meets up with a pretty pink Alien Aisha who tries to persuade him that the Madam Commander, working on a lie, turned on all his old associates and imprisoned Galba unjustly. Not sure what to believe, he follows her deeper into the abandoned Alien Aisha base. The Madam Commander refuses to allow Geiger away leave to Neopia and, figuring out his wish to leave lies in a problem with 'Derek Sonix', she orders a round-the-clock watch on the doctor. Khargana checks with one of her sources, Chief Kerowski of the Neopian Central Authorities, and asks him to keep his eyes open for DeSoni. Then she runs off to check other sources. Kregor Geiger contacts a mysterious 'Agent C2' to help him get the antidote for DeSoni to Neopia. We are introduced to two very unusual special agents: Agent C2, a fairly immature specialist in Alien Aisha affairs; and Agent XP, a covert agent with a bit of obsessive-compulsive disorder and DeSoni's ex-partner in the Faerie Protection Program. Fyora orders them to work together to collect DeSoni's antidote from Dr. Kregor Geiger back on the Alien Aisha homeplanet.

     ******

DeSoni nervously followed the pretty pink Alien Aisha down the hall, still eyeing in sickened horror the moldy, dusty, abandoned looking E57 secret Alien Aisha base. She had told him there had been a raid, that the Madam Commander had turned on them, but that certainly didn't explain the spyderwebs in the corners.

     They rounded a corner and the pink Alien Aisha pulled aside a panel. "Wait here," she said, disappearing behind it.

     For a few minutes he only heard distant mumbling and exclamations. Derek Sonix, as he again called himself, closed his eyes wearily and wished he had super-hearing. Come to think of it--why not? He could make something like that. Or--had he already? The formula that came to mind was too perfect for an original idea. He had a mental picture of himself on the floor of a Neohome, combining and mixing potions and chemicals. A weird, red, insect-like Neopian sat on the bed across from him--and he knew he must be daydreaming. Too bad, that homey scene had been so nice...

     The pink Alien Aisha returned, jolting the yellow Alien Aisha (missing two of the four earstalks) back to his 'present'.

     "Come on," she said, gesturing for him to follow. He did.

     ******

     Mr. and Mrs. Sonix were hovering by the weird plant-communicator, waiting for exactly two hours after Kregor had signed off--the time he'd asked them to call him back at.

     They were the only ones left in the basement lab. Khargana had run off to check with her sources. Kay ran off to call Fyora, a good friend of hers, and alert her and thus the FPP to DeSoni's situation. Rocky had stalked back and forth for a while before impatiently saying he'd join Khargana and help find DeSoni. He disappeared in the blink of an eye, undoubtedly utilizing his super-speed.

     Leaving DeSoni's parents alone to call back Dr. Kregor Geiger. The two yellow Alien Aishas were tense and worried, and the seconds ticked by slower than ever.

     Finally Mr. Sonix leaned over and twisted a flower of the weird herb. "Kregor? Kregor, you there?" he asked.

     The young doctor immediately answered. "Mr. Sonix? I don't have much time."

     "What, young man?"

     "Jierdana won't let me go to Neopia and I have guards watching my every move. But don't worry--I've got things under control."

     "Yes?"

     "I've got a friend--solar flare, they spotted me! He'll bring the antidote to Kay's Neohome. Gotta go!"

     Mr. Sonix prudently twisted the flower back to the off position. He sighed and took his wife's paw in his own.

     "It'll be okay, Deanna. You heard Geiger--we'll have the antidote in no time."

     "But Daniel!" Mrs. Sonix despaired. "We have to find DeSoni before we can give him the antidote!"

     "It'll be fine, dear. Khargana's resourceful, and I've never seen anyone more determined than Rocky."

     "I-I know, honey. But--I just feel so useless!" She wiped a tear from her right eye.

     "I know, Deanna. I know." He took her in his arms and hugged her comfortingly.

     ******

     Kay sat in her room, tensely chewing the tip of her pen as she waited for Fyora to contact her over another of her communicator-plants. The only difference between this one and the one she'd sent Doctor Geiger was that the flowers were purple.

     Suddenly the herb beeped and Kay leaned forward anxiously. The Faerie Queen's voice came on.

     "Kay? My dear, are you there?"

     "I'm here, Fyora. What's the news?"

     "Everything's under control. I have our two best agents on it. How are you holding up?"

     "I'm worried sick, of course! But I'll be okay once DeSoni's found and healed."

     "Are you sure you don't need any help locating DeSoni? I could have Hidden Flame put the Faerie Protection Program on full alert."

     "We really don't need a hundred agents running around, Fyora. If DeSoni's story got out on accident..."

     "I see, dear. You're quite right. But keep it in mind if Khargana and Rocky run into a brick wall, alright?"

     "Only as a last resort, Fyora. But I promise if things look dangerous or life-threatening, I'll contact you."

     "I suppose that's the best I'll get." There was a pause, then the Queen's voice came back on, sounding slightly apologetic. "Kay, this may not be the best time to tell you, but DeSoni has knowledge of several ultra-secret missions and plans, even if he doesn't remember at the moment. The Alien Aishas cannot have access to that information. You understand?"

     "Why didn't I know of this?" exclaimed Kay.

     "I told you he was in the FPP-"

     "I assumed you meant he was merely protected by it. That's the impression Hidden Flame gave when she briefed me before dropping him off!"

     "I'm sorry, Kay. But you must understand the status of all FPP agents is considered top-secret. The very agency itself is secret. Even though, since you adopted DeSoni, he's only been active in an advisory state, he was for a time a full agent."

     Kay was silent.

     "Kay? You do see why, if Khargana and Rocky don't find DeSoni soon, I'll have to take matters into my own hands? I'm sorry, Kay. Honestly, I don't even know if the Alien Aishas are aware of this, though I sincerely hope they aren't."

     The human girl still didn't say anything.

     "Kay?"

     "It's okay, Fyora. I understand."

     Without waiting for an answer, she leaned over and twisted the flower, ending the connection. She had a lot to think about.

     ******

     Khargana pulled a small tube from her vest pocket and pressed a button. As Rocky watched in surprise, it tripled in size, revealing itself to be some sort of scroll. She unrolled it, showing a map of Neopia Central with several colored dots scattered across it.

     His eyes roved over the map and to the corner of the city he and Khargana were on. Sure enough, a red dot and a green dot slightly overlapped there. Figures-green Wocky, red Ruki. Assuming DeSoni would be a yellow dot, he scanned the map. No yellow.

     "Neoflakes!" growled Khargana. "He's still not being traced!"

     "What does that mean?" asked Rocky timidly.

     "He's somewhere that can block my tracers' signals. If the tracer had been removed or destroyed my map would have an alert and his dot blinking where it'd last received a signal."

     "Any ideas?" sighed Rocky, leaning wearily against a lamppost. It had taken close to an hour running at super-speed around the city to find Khargana, and, once he'd found her, the detective certainly didn't think to stop to give him a break.

     "If I had any, do you think I'd have bothered running all over Neopia Central asking people who owe me if they've seen my little brother? I don't think so. Give me a minute."

     The green Wocky frowned thoughtfully. Rocky wondered how soon before he could reasonably ask for a break.

     Suddenly the Wocky Detective grinned. "Got it! Raxey still owes me 3000 NP--let's pay him a visit."

     "Raxey?"

     "A Turdle-trainer. You know, for the racing?"

     "You're joking."

     Khargana blinked, not seeing what Rocky didn't get. "No, I'm not. Ready to catch the next flyer? I know a flyboy that owes me a big favor. Ten minutes to Meridell!"

     "Um, did you say Meridell?"

     "Where else would a Turdle trainer live? You chose to tag along with me, and frankly if you don't want to come you can stay behind."

     Khargana shrunk the scroll and replaced it in a pocket, then pulled out a small, flyer-shaped pendant and clicked the propeller down like a button. She looked up towards the sky expectantly.

     "Khargana, you don't actually think a flyer-"

     Suddenly Rocky heard a distinctive hiss and chuck-a-chug, just like he'd read about in the Neopedia. A flyer! He'd never ever seen one! His super-vision zoomed in and, sure enough, he spied a bright-blue flyer on its way. A large one, with two sets of wings, one about three feet above the other. The flyboy, what DeSoni would probably call a pilot, was an average-looking blue Kacheek wearing goggles.

     In less than a minute, the flyboy zoomed in and taxied to a landing, stopping directly in front of the detective and Ruki. He tilted up his goggles and smiled. "Hey, Khargana! Got your page--where do you need to go?"

     Rocky was stunned. Some of the richest Neopets in Neopia Central couldn't afford a ride in a flyer, and those that could often weren't able to find a flyboy that would agree to take them! He couldn't help but wonder just what Khargana had done for the Kacheek.

     The Wocky swiftly leaped into a cargo box positioned just behind Manny. "Raxey's, Manny. On the double, if you don't mind. Oh, and this is Rocky." She gestured for the Ruki to hop in behind her. "Don't worry, Rocky--Manny told me he specially designed this baby for large loads. She can handle two passengers."

     Still amazed at Khargana's resources, Rocky climbed aboard.

     Manny handed them both goggles and they set off.

     ******

     "First things first," said Agent C2, shoving open the door to his room on the Space Station and motioning XP to follow. He closed the door to his room and jumped towards his closet. Cheerfully he flung the closet door open.

     "If you're going to be me, you have to look like me."

     XP groaned, straightened a full-length mirror on the wall and turned it slightly to face both him and C2. "Done."

     "No, I'm serious!"

     "So am I," said XP firmly. Looking back from the mirror were two nearly identical blue Neopian Aishas; what more did the silly kid want? He explained himself further. "If you didn't wear any uniform or anything to see Fyora, I'm assuming you usually don't wear anything. You start now and others will get suspicious."

     While C2 thought about that, XP fixed the bed and started tidying the side table, constantly moving or adjusting something.

     C2 frowned at him. "Then how do you say we make it so others can't tell us apart?" he asked sarcastically.

     XP closed his eyes for a second and stood absolutely still. Then he perked his ears and earstalks cheerfully, straightened his shoulders, and opened his eyes wide and curious. His eyes absolutely sparkled in delight at really nothing at all.

     "Would you say this works?" asked XP in a slightly higher voice laced with an immature sarcastic trim.

     C2 had an eerie sensation of watching himself.

     XP slipped towards C2 and flicked the closet door closed. "Just give me my badge and let's get going. Surely you have a spare."

     C2 blinked in surprise, then pulled open a secret panel near the side of the closet. He slowly removed his spare ID and handed it to his new twin. XP casually flicked the lanyard around his neck and leaned back on his heels, paws folded over his chest.

     It took C2 a second to recognize his own 'impatient' pose, and he suddenly threw back his head and laughed loudly.

     XP was suddenly himself again, with a simple, self-conscious smile hovering on his mouth and tapping a paw nervously at his side. How he shifted so easily, C2 couldn't fathom.

     Agent C2 slipped his extra badge around his own neck and began explaining to XP what he was planning.

     "I've got a sit-in appointment with the Madam Commander and a couple professors--that's gonna be my alibi. You cover that, and you do a good job, and I can slip over to Kregor Geiger's lab for the antidote."

     XP nodded. "How are we getting there?" he asked, fiddling with the badge on the lanyard.

     "You take my ticket for the Alien Aisha return ship home while I stow away in the luggage compartment."

     "What if I meet anyone I should know?"

     "Don't worry. They're mostly at a conference. And you'll know the Madam Commander."

     "How do I get to your sit-in and what am I supposed to do?"

     "The huge spherical building in the center of the landing complex. Can't miss it. Enter through the front doors and the receptionist will tell you where to go."

     "And what am I supposed to do?"

     "Just sit at an empty chair and answer any questions about Neopia. Nothing hard."

     "Gotcha. How do I meet up with you afterwards?"

     C2 had to think about that one for a second. His earstalks perked as a decent idea occurred to him. "I'll leave you a message with the receptionist. A slip of paper with 'C2' on the front. I'll put the letters 'XP' on the inside if everything's going fine. If I need more time, I'll leave it blank. If everything works out, I'll see you when you step off the ship back here at the Space Station. Your ticket doubles as a return pass."

     XP was still fiddling with the badge. Out of the blue, he asked, "What does C2 stand for?"

     "Absolutely nothing," he said, much too quickly.

     XP shrugged, assuming it was an embarrassing name. (He was dead right, but C2 wasn't going to admit it anytime soon.)

     "And you? XP?"

     "My listed name is _Expea_. Fyora prefers writing out E-X-P-E-A, believing all Neopets should have a proper name, but it's pronounced 'XP' anyway, so I don't see what the big deal is. I think it's short for 'experiment,' which certainly suits me, being a lab-pet and all. I prefer just the letters 'XP'-short and to the point."

     "And you knew DeSoni?" asked C2. He had to get around to it sometime, being DeSoni's number one (and only) fan and all.

     XP smiled reminiscently. "I was the first one they called to join the newly formed Faerie Protection Program. He was the first to be covered by it, but he opted to work for it at the same time. We worked together for three months before the FPP had narrowed down who else to let join and brought them in. Then DeSoni got his Fix-It shop and I started working undercover more often, but we were still partners for a good while after that." He shrugged. "About a year later DeSoni went full-time into his shop and only came in occasionally as advisory. Usually I'm out, so I haven't seen him lately."

     "And you're still willing to do anything to help him?"

     The lab-pet sadly looked down at his fidgety paws. "I don't really have any friends. He was the only guy that could tolerate me." He made an effort to smile, but it was a little sour. "Faeries don't really count, you know."

     C2 couldn't respond to that. There was a tone in XP's voice that spoke of a lifetime of embarrassment and rejection. He understood suddenly why XP hadn't wanted to work with him and felt enormously guilty over his own initial reaction. What had been his first words on seeing XP? Something to the point of how that couldn't possibly be the Neopet Fyora had chosen as his assistant.

     XP was still fidgeting with the lanyard around his neck. "How much time do we have?" he asked, deftly switching subjects.

     "About 10 minutes."

     "Are you usually right on time or early?"

     "Early. I like to talk to people."

     "We'd best be going then. But you're in charge."

     "Here's my ticket." C2 handed a small, orange slip to XP. "The luggage is loaded from behind, so we'd best split up now."

     XP nodded and suddenly C2 had the impression of looking at himself again. How did XP do it? Something about the way he stood, the expression on his face--he was now totally Agent C2.

     "See you around!" saucily cheered XP, now C2's double. He threw a salute C2's way and skipped out the door.

     ******

     The pink Alien Aisha led DeSoni down the secret passageway and into a large, well-lit room, much at odds with the rest of the base. There were three other Alien Aishas already in the room, making a grand total of five, even if DeSoni looked like a Neopian. Of the three others, one was painted Fire, one Electric, and the last Shadow. DeSoni felt slightly out of place being simply yellow.

     The pink Alien Aisha introduced them. "Derek Sonix, this is Brandy, Volt, and Secret. I'm Mina." Volt was the only other guy, and incidentally the only one of the three to seem genuinely pleased to see Derek.

     "Yo, Sonix! Glad to have you! We need another brain around here besides princess's there." With one paw, Volt pointed at Mina over his shoulder. He shook Derek's paw with his other. Brandy folded her arms stubbornly and Secret shyly tried to blend in with the shadows.

     "Here's the deal, Derek," began Mina, glancing in annoyance at Volt. "We're trying to rescue Galba. We need your help."

     DeSoni was taken aback. "You said Galba's in prison! How is a jailbreak going to clear our names with the Madam Commander?"

     Mina was ready for that one. "Galba has valuable information proving our innocence, but wasn't granted a trail or even an audience with Jierdana, so serious and well-thought was the lie she was told. We need to get him out of there!"

     The small yellow Alien Aisha was incredibly uncomfortable. First of all, he hated the way Brandy was glaring at him. It was the same glare Galba always gave him before calling him a "despicable Neopian," his most degrading insult. All because he was missing two stupid earstalks. It was so dumb. Second, he really wasn't sure of Miss Mina's story. Something just didn't add up.

     Mina saw his hesitance. "Come on, Derek! We need to get him out of there! Your partner's rotting in prison! You've been stripped of rank and your family dishonored--as is the same for all of us! We've been branded traitors! Let's do something about this!"

     DeSoni sighed. She was persuasive. "Okay. What do we do?"

     Mina smiled dazzlingly, her eyes bright in anticipation. "I happen to know Galba's being held on a prison ship while the main detention on our homeworld is being remodeled. That ship docked at Virtupets Space Station yesterday at 2:45 PM NST for refueling. We strike first thing tomorrow morning!"

     "So what do you need me for?"

     "Technically, we have all the skills we need for the rescue. I'm the planner and organizer. Brandy's our distraction. Volt's a master at breaking down electronic doors and locks. Secret's a break-in artist. But, as for our tools and equipment-!" She gestured around the room and, for the first time, DeSoni noticed all sorts of worn-down or busted blasters, machinery, project-essential gear, ship-parts, gadgets, and other paraphernalia.

     "Can you help us?" Mina asked.

     "Well--okay." What else could he say? He couldn't go back to his homeplanet, and Neopia's no place for an Alien Aisha. He'd best stick with his own kind, no matter what their harebrained scheme. What else was there to do? Besides, he liked fixing things.

     He got to work.

     ******

     Raxey, the Turdle-trainer that owed Khargana a few thousand NP, was a large yellow Draik a few pounds overweight. He had a loud, blaring voice, as Rocky soon found out.

     "HEY! The brilliant detective returns!" he shouted cheerfully as the flyer eased down in front of his training yard. He was easily heard over the simple chuck-a-chug of the flyer's smallish engine.

     The green Wocky laughed and swung over the side of the flyer, tossing Manny back the goggles he'd lent her.

     Raxey shook her paw warmly. "How are you doing, Khargana? Surely you're not here to collect on my debt--you always give me some time to pay you off. And that last job's total was pretty hefty..."

     "Actually, Raxey, I was thinking of calling us even in return for a favor."

     Raxey smiled a toothy grin. "I'm listening."

     "Let me borrow your Virtupets SuperJolt, the one I picked up for your automatic shell-washer system on my last trip to the Space Station. It'll just be a minute or two, then Manny's gonna fly me back to NC. Sound good?"

     "Sounds GREAT to me! Hey, Manny! Ain't seen ya much since you went all 'Skies Over Meridell' on us! What's up?"

     "The great blue yonder, King Skarl's favorite tallest tower, and the peaks of Brightvale's minarets! Nice to see you again, Raxey!" laughed the cheerful flyboy.

     "And who's this?" asked Raxey curiously. "A newcomer?"

     "I-I'm with Khargana," said Rocky timidly, climbing from the flyer with the goggles up on his forehead. He looked around for help and spotted the green Wocky's figure halfway to one of the circular stables or barns or whatever. She sure didn't waste any time.

     "Name, son?"

     "R-Rocky," said the red Ruki nervously. He was already shy of normal people. Bigger-than-life people with loud voices were all the more intimidating.

     Raxey laughed in delight. "We already have similar names! I like you, kid. Why not I give you the grand tour while our friend's busy?" Without waiting for an answer, the large Draik placed a large claw on the lanky Ruki's shoulder and began pushing him forward.

     "Actually, sir, Khargana and I are on an important mission-"

     "Of COURSE you are! The brilliant detective always is! And it'll only take a minute. You'll be done by the time Khargana gets back."

     Raxey had already pushed Rocky through the door of one of his circular training stables.

     "Well, o-okay?"

     It was pretty cool. On either side were large pens, big enough for a Meridellian Knight's favorite Uni, each with a single, tiny Turdle Petpet inside.

     Then Raxey began introducing the Turdles. That was not so cool.

     "Starting with this prize baby here, Mixie--child of Linda and Starbright. Won three silvers. A precious little doll. Morrie--hopeless flip-flopper; never bet on him. And I thought a child of the great Gina with my pathetic little Willie would be something useful! Jack, child of Bean and Geri, six time gold champion in the Loveberry ring. My pride and joy. Handsome fella, ain't he? Rex, child of Randy and Tiana, two time bronze. About average, but he's so ugly it hurts. Ted, well, really Ted's just a loser. A thirty-time loser! I should've known by the color of his shell. My momma always told me 'Never buy a Turdle with an orange shell,' but did I listen? Nope. Look where it got me. Janet-"

     Rocky felt himself zoning out, listening to the never-ending introductions. Turdles, their parents, their wins, their coloring--what did he care? They all looked absolutely identical to him, but he thought better of telling Raxey that. The line of Turdles seemed as never-ending as Raxey's monologue...

     How long had Khargana said she'd be again?

To be continued...

Let me know how it's going--an author always sees things different from a reader. And be sure to let me know what you think of my new characters! Again, neomail legoman8000 with fanmail for Agent C2, though I still would appreciate neomails to find out what you think of him and XP.

 
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Other Episodes


» A Break in Memory: Part One
» A Break in Memory: Part Two
» A Break in Memory: Part Four
» A Break in Memory: Part Five
» A Break in Memory: Part Six
» A Break in Memory: Part Seven
» A Break in Memory: Part Eight



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