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A Break in Memory: Part Four


by appaloosa500

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In our last episode: DeSoni follows the pink Alien Aisha deeper into the abandoned Alien Aisha base. Mr. and Mrs. Sonix contact Kregor Geiger and are assured that the antidote is on its way, though they still worry. Kay discovers the extent of DeSoni's involvement in the FPP and is informed that if Khargana and Rocky take too long to locate DeSoni, Fyora herself will step in. Khargana and Rocky are unsuccessful in their efforts to locate DeSoni, but Khargana remembers a client named Raxey, a Turdle-trainer in Meridell, who owes her some Neopoints. Without explaining herself, she summons a flyer (plane, to newbies) who collects her and Rocky. XP and C2 make plans to retrieve DeSoni's antidote. DeSoni meets the pink Alien Aisha's team and learns her name and plan. Her name's Mina, and she plans to rescue the "wrongfully imprisoned" Galba from a prison ship docked at the Space Station. DeSoni agrees to fix her team's equipment and tools, though still unsure of things. Khargana and Rocky land at Raxey's and Khargana runs off to use his "Superjolt." Rocky is stuck listening to the trainer talk about his precious Turdles.

     ******

XP took his seat, thinking that, all in all, this was nowhere near as difficult as some of his past missions. He just had to act curious and cheerful. It didn't even matter if he fidgeted a little, since C2 had so much adolescent energy.

     The spaceship was fairly large--filled it would probably fit around 50. Gradually Alien Aishas, including ambassadors, those on special missions, or perhaps even some returning from vacation, began filling the ship. He was the only Neopian Aisha, but he didn't care. It was only to be expected.

     A green Alien Aisha sat next to him. XP turned to say hi, as he knew C2 would, and the Alien Aisha shoved a blaster against XP's chest.

     "Agent C2?" he whispered in a dark voice.

     XP nodded very slowly, alarmed at the rapid turn of events.

     "You don't remember me, do you?"

     XP shook his head, horribly aware that no-one else in the ship could see the blaster pressing against him.

     "I warned you not to mess with me, Neopian. Now you're going to pay."

     The blue Aisha gulped, still forcing himself to respond as C2 would.

     "I have an appointment with the Madam Commander."

     "I'm afraid you'll have to miss it," he said coldly. "Now listen carefully-"

     Meepits! thought XP in annoyance. I miss the appointment and there goes C2's alibi! On the outside he just gulped again and nodded.

     "First, you are not to speak to anyone--not even your friends. I'll be right behind you the entire time, and if you try to get help, I fire, okay?"

     XP nodded, beginning to get seriously worried. He was going to have to figure out a way to dump this criminal, even if it meant getting shot. He'd been in the hospital before--came with the job.

     "If I fire, you'll be out cold for a week. By the time you recover, I'll be long gone. You won't be able to track me." He tapped the blaster proudly. "Level 8, Neopian. You'll survive, but just barely."

     By Fyora's crown--I don't have a week to blow! thought XP, recalling all the missions he'd put aside when Fyora called. And DeSoni--if he disappeared, they might go looking for C2 and he wouldn't be able to get the antidote!

     XP took a deep breath and forced himself to calm down. He'd been in worse situations--just rarely one that he had to cover for someone else.

     "What do I do?" asked XP softly.

     "When the ship docks, you exit and turn to the right. Cross the corridor. It'll be less crowded. Wait for my instructions--I'll be two steps behind you the whole time."

     XP decided what to do then and there.

     ******

     C2 was crouched up with the boxes, crates, bags, and other assorted luggage. He was cramped already, and the ship was only just in the air. At least it was a nice, smooth ride.

     ******

     Khargana enlarged the tube into her scroll map-locator thing and laid it flat out on a large panel of Raxey's Virtupets SuperJolt.

     Not surprisingly, to Khargana anyway, the map now showed Meridell and only had hers and Rocky's dots on it. The green Wocky tapped an arrow in the upper right corner and was again looking at Neopia Central, with Kay's brown dot, Tanny's deep blue, Rissa's sky blue, and Adri's royal purple. Still no yellow DeSoni.

     Keeping one paw on the map (it would turn into a blank scroll otherwise), she flicked the switch on the SuperJolt.

     It hummed, then the detective grinned. It had worked! A yellow dot had appeared in the eastern side of Neopia Central, in what was thought to be a blind alley. Guess not!

     She snapped off the SuperJolt and flicked the button to shrink the locator scroll back to a small tube. Then the Wocky turned and dashed out, slipping the tube into a pocket with one paw, grabbing a dazed-looking Rocky with the other (Raxey must have given him 'the tour'), and shouting goodbye and thanks to the large, Draik Turdle-trainer.

     Manny tossed her the goggles as she climbed in. "You know, Khar, maybe we should wait a sec. Just got word of sky pirates in the area!"

     "Just keep moving, Manny!" she shouted back over the roar as Manny gunned the engine of the flyer. Rocky hopped into the cargo box alongside Khargana and both slipped on their goggles.

     "Thought you'd say that!" the flyboy laughed back happily. They took off.

     "Nice to meet you, Rocky! See you next time, Khargana!" shouted the good-natured Turdle-trainer, waving. "Bye, Manny! Happy flying!"

     ******

     The ship docked at the Alien Aisha homeworld landing complex. XP glanced at his captor, then slowly stood up--being careful not to alarm the crazy criminal or anyone else on the spaceship.

     The blue Aisha stepped into the aisle between the rows of seats, the green Alien Aisha right behind him, and walked up to the front to exit.

     He stepped out, allowing himself the liberty of looking around and glancing back. The Alien Aisha was directly behind him, just as he had said he would be.

     The docking station was very similar to the Space Station's, just more rectangular rather than circular. Straight ahead was the spherical building C2 had told him to go to for the meeting. He sighed and turned right. Everyone else was going left or straight. There was a corridor about 50 feet ahead--he crossed it and followed the hall around a corner.

     Sure enough, it was empty. Not an Alien Aisha in sight. And that suited XP just fine.

     ******

     C2 crawled out of the luggage compartment before anyone came to unload. Just as he remembered, there was the ladder up to the catwalks, where technicians could work on the lighting and air conditioning. He'd been given a tour last week and knew one catwalk in particular led straight to Kregor Geiger's laboratory. His guide had been very proud of that fact--his pal Geiger was pretty famous. These catwalks connected every building and room in the central plaza, of which the landing complex was the south quarter. C2 thought it was totally cool.

     Thinking to get a peek of XP, he slipped down a catwalk over the exit of the ship in time to see XP turn right.

     Right? He'd told XP to go straight, towards the Council Offices.

     Then he noticed the green Alien Aisha behind XP. He gasped in horror and recognition. It was Hardy--the one who had leaked that top-secret information to the Neopian crime bosses! C2 had told the Madam Commander all about him and he'd been arrested. That was last year--he must be out on parole!

     They headed down a corridor and turned a corner, C2 right above them--worried sick. What had XP gotten into?

     ******

     Hardy the green Alien Aisha came up behind XP to give him the rest of the instructions. To his shock, the Aisha whipped around, ramming his elbow into Hardy's stomach and snatching the blaster with his other paw.

     Hardy fell to the ground in pain and shock, paws over his hurting belly.

     "Sorry about this," said XP in his normal voice. "But I've got a mission to do and you're in the way."

     The criminal's eyes met XP's narrowed, slightly lazy ones. "Wait--you're not-"

     XP flicked the level switch down to six and fired.

     ******

     Above, C2 gasped. Fyora had been right--XP was good. But what had Hardy been planning anyway? He'd have to worry about that later. Kregor Geiger was waiting for him. He dashed off.

     ******

     XP casually rubbed his paws over the handle of the blaster to smear and pawprints he might have left and set it on top of the unconscious body of the green Alien Aisha.

     Unexpectedly, he heard the tread of booted paws and two more Alien Aishas turned the corner. Shady types--not the typical respectable Alien Aishas you see around the Space Station.

     The blue Aisha's mind took a leap and he suddenly knew, without a doubt, that these two were working either for or with his ex-captor. He turned and ran as fast as he could back the way he'd come.

     "It's that Neopian! He took out Hardy!" XP heard. Then the tromping feet started running after him. Gaining too! He ran harder. Making that meeting was not optional!

     He ran all the way back to the ship. The area was empty now. What had C2 said? A large, spherical building--can't miss it. There! Straight ahead! XP took off as fast he could. He had to get to that meeting and cover for C2!

     They were behind him all they way up to the steps of building--then they ducked away as he burst through the swinging doors.

     ******

     A very pretty Striped Alien Aisha receptionist glanced up at the panting blue Neopian Aisha and sighed.

     "You're late, C2. That's not like you."

     The Neopian Special Agent from the Space Faerie took several deep breaths, pressing his paw against his pounding ribcage, and smiled cheerfully. Typically, for what she knew of C2, he laughed and tried to wave it off.

     "Got lost!" he despaired, his usual infectious smile on his lips.

     She smiled in return and gestured down a hallway off to her right. "Room 5, C2, and you'd best keep running. They started five minutes ago."

     He smiled, threw off one of his signature saucy salutes, and trotted down the hall to make good the 'fact' that C2 was at his meeting.

     C2 was covered.

     ******

     C2's mission was going much easier and true-to-plan. The catwalk he'd chosen led directly into the roof of Kregor Geiger's research lab, which meant, if nothing else, he was at least going the right way. The young doctor himself, a slim blue Alien Aisha wearing a silver uniform with a gold collar and a stethoscope around his neck, was at work alone in the large room.

     C2 whistled sharply and Kregor looked up and smiled at his clever Neopian friend. He gestured for C2 to come down and opened a steel cabinet.

     The blue Aisha hopped over the railing and to the floor, landing on all fours, then getting up on his rear paws. Perfect landing, but then he wasn't the Space Faerie's favorite special agent for nothing.

     "Knew you'd make it!" said the doctor with a look of huge relief contrary to his spoken confidence. He pulled a corked and sealed test tube, filled to the top with a pale pink powder, from the cabinet.

     "Always do," said C2 pompously.

     Kregor laughed, not believing it for a second, and slipped the tube in a small shoulder bag, which he handed to his friend.

     "Tell Khargana or Kay--wait, you don't know them." The doctor frowned for a second. "Well, leave a message with the test tube. They have to mix the powder with a glass of water and make DeSoni swig the whole thing. He'll hate it, but they have to make him."

     "Does it taste bad?" asked C2 curiously, slipping the bag over his shoulders.

     "What? Oh, no. Strawberry flavored. DeSoni just hates drinking any potion he didn't have a part in making. Now you get moving before someone catches you!"

     C2 nodded, climbed on top of a shelf, then took a flying leap and caught the railing of the catwalk. He pulled himself up and over. Then the special agent saluted Kregor Geiger cheerfully and ran off.

     ******

     The communicator herb-thing beeped and two yellow Alien Aishas, Mr. and Mrs. Sonix, simultaneously turned and leaped for it. Mr. Sonix reached it first and twisted a blossom near the top. Kregor Geiger's voice came on.

     "Mr. and Mrs. Sonix? Are you guys still there?"

     "Yes, yes, Kregor! What is it?" pushed Mr. Sonix impatiently.

     "My friend's on his way. You should have the antidote in an hour or so. Gotta go! If I'm spotted in the garden I'll have to come up with an excuse, and you know how terrible a liar I am. I'll see you guys when you get back!"

     The weird herb buzzed as Kregor ended the connection at his end. Mr. Sonix twisted the flower back off and leaned over to hug his slightly teary wife.

     "It's okay, honey. We'll have the antidote soon enough. You heard him."

     "I know, Daniel. It's not that. I never doubted Kregor. Just... we've been sitting around for hours! We haven't heard from Khargana or Rocky since they ran off, and we only saw Kay for a few minutes when she dropped off those 'hamburger' things for dinner and--oh! Daniel--this was supposed to be a vacation! Some quality time with our son after so long, getting to know his Neopian family, seeing Rocky again. But instead we're stuck down here just... waiting. I've never felt this useless in my life!"

          Mr. Sonix thought about it, then looked around at the gizmos and whatnot littering the workshop/laboratory that Kay and Khargana shared.

     "You know, love--maybe we could at least find out how Rocky and Khargana are getting on. Perhaps join up with them. I'm sure something here could serve as a communicator, and Khargana's sure to have a receiver on her."

     "Oh! You're a genius, honey!"

     The two yellow Alien Aishas, Ambassador Deanna Sonix and Chief Engineer Daniel Sonix, ran over to the most heavily cluttered of the tables and began sorting through the equipment and gadgetry.

     ******

     C2 made only one stop on his way to the luggage compartment of the first ship back to the Virtupets Space Station--a memo station to make up the slip of paper to leave with the receptionist for XP. The station would send a messenger with it to the receptionist, who would give it to XP (aka 'Agent C2') as he left.

     Then he was on his way back to the Space Station. He'll have delivered the test tube and its contents before XP got back, and he intended to be there to meet his new friend as he stepped off the return ship. He owed XP a big favor for covering his tail.

     ******

     The meeting was a snap, mainly because everyone was irritated with 'C2' for being late. They asked him a couple simple questions about current Neopian economics, but otherwise didn't even speak to him. It was long and boring, but every Alien Aisha there, and especially the elegant Madam Commander, knew C2 had been there for the entire meeting.

     They were dismissed and XP left the stuffy room in relief.

     "Oh, C2!" called the receptionist, waving a slip of paper. "Message for you!"

     "Hey, thanks!" answered XP as C2, smiling brilliantly and taking the paper. He flipped it open and smiled. C2 had done it! DeSoni was in the clear. His one true friend was safe.

     He saluted the receptionist and left the building skipping, thinking secretly to himself that he couldn't wait to be done with the slightly foolish, immature personality. It was nice to be liked, but he'd rather be ignored.

     Especially in line with what he had a feeling was waiting for him. Well, for C2. Those two heavies were undoubtedly waiting to yank him down a dark alley somewhere. But he couldn't afford to stop pretending to be Agent C2 until he got back to the Space Station. There was still a slight chance if someone caught on that he wasn't C2 they could trace where the real C2 had been, putting C2 and Geiger in serious trouble.

     C2 would never have guessed what was in store for him, so XP must not show anything to the receptionist or passers-by either. Besides, he was quite confident he could handle to two hired heavies. Thinking about it, he was willing to bet quite a bit that that first green Alien Aisha had been the brains.

     So he kept the spring in his step and the sparkle in his eyes until he passed by an alley. Sure enough, as he passed it, a hefty paw reached out. To XP's shock, instead of grabbing his arm or shoulder to yank him down the alley, it encircled his throat before dragging him into the dark.

     Whichever of the two heavies it was, and XP was furious at himself for underestimating them, he wasn't taking any chances. As soon as the blue Aisha was out of view from passers-by, he brought his other strong paw up and clamped them both tight around the agent's neck.

     This wasn't right! Logic led to an ambush--XP could handle an ambush just fine! If it came down to an honest fight, he was sure he could win. He could outwit two heavies, easy. But not this! How did they come up with-?

     XP fought and squirmed, desperately clawing at the strong paws that refused to let the slightest trace of air down into his lungs. It was like fighting a cement wall.

     Fyora--he couldn't breathe! He was vaguely aware his efforts to escape were weakening and his vision was going fuzzy. His chest burned, his head swam...

     "Okay--drop him," said a dark, mean voice.

     XP barely heard it, but the paws dropped him to the ground and he gulped air into his starved lungs. His head was spinning and he couldn't get enough balance to stand. Part of him wanted to give up and black out, but the stronger part clung on. The part that made him the best agent in the FPP.

     There was silence for a minute as they let XP catch his breath, and he was suddenly aware there were three. Three? No matter. The only reason they would let him catch his breath is if they wanted him to talk. That was not going to happen, no matter what they did.

     The blue Aisha was still weak, and there was a weird buzzing in his ears, but he looked up and saw the same green Alien Aisha from before glaring down at him.

     Despite himself, XP was completely stunned. He'd given the guy a six! "H-how?" he gasped, his voice still weak and raspy.

     The Alien Aisha patted his uniform. "Special synthetic fibers--you only knocked me out for a couple hours. C2 would've known about the suit. Of course, C2 would never have been able to pull the move that led to that. I owe you one for that, Neopian."

     XP stumbled to his rear paws, positioned in a fighting stance but wavering. It was pretty sad; he obviously could barely keep upright.

     The green Alien Aisha snapped and the rough Alien Aisha that'd snatched him into the alley grabbed his arms and held him in place.

     "Who are you?" barked the Alien Aisha in charge.

     XP narrowed his eyes, not saying a thing. He'd never given away his identity and he certainly didn't intend to start now.

     "Where's C2?"

     Silence.

     "And why are you pretending to be him? Fairly well, I may add."

     Nothing.

     The Alien Aisha gestured and they moved deeper into the alley. The biggest one, still clenching one of XP's paws in each of his own, shoved XP ahead.

     ******

     "Trouble!" shouted the flyboy Manny. The blue Kacheek had spied two flyers, coming in fast from either side, their purpose obvious. "We got company, Khargana! Sky pirates! And my baby might be built to carry heavier loads then usual, but she's still too lightweight to stay aloft very long under attack!"

     The green Wocky scanned the two quick, armed flyers, neither bearing any loads other than their flyboy and a weapon. One seemed to be carrying a frost cannon; the other bore a really large rainbow gun. "Any weapons, Manny?"

     "Nope! I usually hire a couple fighter flyers when I'm carrying valuable cargo!"

     "Figures," grumbled the Wocky detective, digging in her vest pockets. She swung upright onto the wing itself, pulling a long, bent stick from an inside pocket.

     "Khargana!" cried out Rocky. The Ruki wasn't sure which terrified him more; the fact that Khargana was standing on the wing of the flyer, or the fact that she had that crazy gleam in her eyes that meant she was up to something.

     "What's that?" called Manny, glancing over his shoulder for a second before returning his attention to piloting his flyer.

     "Ever heard of a boomerang? A Tyrannian buddy of mine taught me the trick!"

     "GET DOWN!" screamed Manny, suddenly angling the flyer steeply.

     Several shots cracked the air, punching holes at the tip of the right wing. If Manny hadn't swerved, it would've punched through the main framework of the fragile flyer.

     Khar slipped, but grabbed onto the upper wing before she slipped off. At the worst possible moment, one of her vest pocket's buzzed. She quickly shifted her balance and grip to yank a two-way communicator timepiece from a pocket and throw it at Rocky.

     The stressed Ruki just managed to unhinge his claws from the sides in time to catch the timepiece.

     "Answer it!" Khargana shouted at him. "Red button on the side!"

     The Wocky whipped around to shout at Manny. "Let them get closer!"

     "ARE YOU INSANE?!" screamed Manny, flipping the flyer completely upside down and back to dodge the last shots. Despite his hysterics, he was handling his flyer remarkably well.

     Rocky's left claw had dug a good two inches into the wood framework from stress and fear of falling the couple hundred feet to the ground, but he still managed to press the red button and hold the timepiece to his antennae. "Hello?" he asked, his voice sounding pained even to himself. The voices on the other end greeted him and he nodded stiffly. "Hey! Mr. and Mrs. Sonix!"

     "How are things, Rocky?" asked Mrs. Sonix via the timepiece.

     "Uh--I guess I can't answer fine. YIKES!" He ducked just as a missile of some sort hissed over right where his head had been a millisecond earlier.

     "Rocky? Rocky!" called Mr. Sonix.

     "We're under attack by sky pirates!" quickly explained the strained Ruki. "KHARGANA!" he suddenly cried out. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!"

     "Getting a better view!" shouted the Wocky, climbing up on top of the second wing level. "Keep her steady, Manny!"

     "What is she doing?" asked Mr. Sonix, curiosity and creeping anxiety in his voice.

     "Climbing on top of the flyer! She gonna-!" Rocky gulped and tightened his grip as the two pirate flyers flew in close to fire. Khargana got up on her hind paws and threw the boomerang with all her might at just the right angle.

     The boomerang spun through the air, slashing through the wings of the first flyer, then looped around, slicing a long tear through a wing of the other. Both flyers immediately began flying erratically and heading downward.

     "She did it! Ha-ha! She did it!" cheered Rocky, enormously relieved.

     "Way to go, girl!" shouted Manny. "You could be a flygirl in no time!"

     "Thanks, but not thanks, buddy!" laughed Khargana, swinging down from the second wing level. "Being a detective's kinda my thing." She climbed back into the cargo box and turned to watch the sky pirates abandon flyer. Two small white parachutes appeared as they drifted downwards. The flyers themselves crashed. It would be a while before they terrorized the skies again.

     "Can we talk to her?" called Mr. Sonix's voice over the timepiece.

     "Have you guys figured out where DeSoni is?" added Mrs. Sonix.

     Before Rocky could answer, Khargana snatched back her little communicator timepiece.

     "Mr. and Mrs. Sonix? Yeah, DeSoni's somewhere in the eastern side of Neopia Central, in a blind alley. I'll have Manny drop us off just where the path from our Neohome reaches Main Street. We'll meet up with you there, okay? Just make sure someone's at the Neohome at all times, you never know. What? The antidote's getting dropped off? Great! We'll be five minutes. Gotcha. Okay, see ya."

     She hit the red button again and shoved the timepiece back in the pocket she'd taken it from.

     "Did you hear me, Manny? Main Street, NC! You know the spot!"

     "Loud and clear, Khar!"

To be continued...

Hope you're not getting bored; things are just beginning to pick up! Let me know how the mixing of really the two separate plotlines is going--I'm a little anxious about how they meld, but I do think they work better together than separately. Neomail me for comments about the story and characters, and drop legoman8000 a line if you happen to be curious about C2's 'real name'.

 
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Other Episodes


» A Break in Memory: Part One
» A Break in Memory: Part Two
» A Break in Memory: Part Three
» 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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