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A Break in Memory: Part Five


by appaloosa500

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Previously: Khargana's plan works and she discovers where DeSoni is. Despite the flyboy Manny's warning of sky pirates in the area, she insists they leave at once. Almost as soon as things start, XP and C2's plan heads downhill when one of C2's nemeses, a criminal informant named Hardy, takes the seat next to XP and - thinking him C2 - orders him into a blind section as soon as they land. XP follows orders, then turns the tables on Hardy, swiftly and efficiently taking him out of commission and firing him with his own blaster. C2 watches in awe from above, then dashes off to get the antidote from Kregor Geiger. XP is chased by two heavies, but makes it to safety and attends the meeting with the Madam Commander, making good C2's alibi. C2 collects the antidote. Kregor Geiger contacts Mr. and Mrs. Sonix to assure them the antidote is on its way. They're relieved, but anxious about DeSoni himself. Back on the Alien Aisha homeplanet, XP expects an ambush but is unprepared for the intelligence of the attack itself. He soon discovers the green Alien Aisha criminal he thought he'd taken out is perfectly all right and, worse yet, wants to know who XP is and why he's posing as C2. Mr. and Mrs. Sonix contact Khargana and Rocky, whose flyer is busy dodging shots from two sky pirates. Khargana skillfully dispatches the pirates and makes plans with the Sonixes to meet them on Main Street.

     ******

C2 knocked on the door to appaloosa500's Neohome and a human girl opened it. She must be DeSoni's owner, known to her friends as Kay. She looked slightly depressed, but that was understandable.

     "Special delivery from Kregor Geiger!" he said cheerfully, handing her the bag. "He said to mix it in a glass of water and make the patient drink the whole thing."

     "Thank you very much," Kay said with the beginnings of a smile. She'd obviously been waiting for the antidote.

     "Good day!" he said happily. He saluted, turned, and ran off. He wanted to get back to the Space Station ASAP to meet XP as he got off the ship.

     ******

     DeSoni had a dull ache in the back of his mind. He set down the blaster he was working on and massaged his temples. Something wasn't right. He was missing something... or forgetting something. Something important.

     He closed his eyes and tried to remember. There was something... no, there wasn't. And all this trying to remember what simply wasn't there was making his head hurt even more.

     Was something wrong with him? Maybe he was just tired. Or maybe he had a concussion or something from whatever had led to him being passed out on that Neopian's couch.

     The thought of that sofa, of that room, suddenly gave him a pang of longing. Almost homesickness. He could just imagine living there... Yeah. He'd have an owner. A girl. With long brown hair and a calming voice. And a sister! Oh, wouldn't it be great to have an older sister? Someone to tease and bicker with, but that you knew deep down would always love you and protect you to the last fiber of her being?

     He suddenly had an image of the green Wocky from earlier; the one who he'd by chance remembered handing him the micro-stunner. He pulled out the remarkable little gadget and stared at it.

     Why would he think of someone like that now? When he was daydreaming, taking a break from a mountain load of repairs? He didn't even know who the Wocky was. A picture, nothing more. Of course, there's no depth to a daydream.

     The little yellow Aisha got back to work.

     ******

     C2 watched every passenger get off the return ship - and no XP. The blue Aisha sighed and folded his arms impatiently. Where was he? That lab-pet couldn't have taken another ship. One, there was no reason to. And two, that would just be plain rude. He should know C2'd be waiting for him.

     He thought about it, and the more he thought about the more he realized XP wouldn't have taken a different ship. It was totally against that crazy agent's nature to stay on a mission after he'd already accomplished his goal. For goodness' sake, the nut went and changed gender and species when he finished a mission so he wouldn't be traced. Why would he hang around on the Alien Aisha homeworld? Especially when doing so meant pretending to be C2.

     C2 swung down from the top of the luggage pile he'd been sitting on and rushed into the ship when no one was looking. Sure enough, it was completely empty. No XP.

     The blue Aisha frowned and plopped into one of the chairs, thinking. What could have happened? It wasn't like Hardy could've caused any more trouble; XP had shot him.

     It came back in a rush. Charge displacement uniforms. Hardy's gang had them; of course he was wearing one! Which meant he was by no means out of the picture - and XP couldn't possibly have known! He ran off the ship, looked around desperately, and spotted an Alien Aisha cruiser. Nobody was near it, and a mechanic had given him a crash course a couple months ago.

     Of course he was still in hot water with the Space Faerie for crashing one of engineer's cruisers just a week or so ago. And stealing an Alien Aisha cruiser certainly wouldn't help him mend the situation.

     Whatever. XP was in trouble and it was his fault for not warning him.

     He ran over, flipped the top open, climbed aboard, and played with some wires under the control panel. He lowered the top, the engine roared to life, and C2 took off.

          ******

     While being dragged along, XP gathered the names of his captors. The one he'd knocked out earlier was respectfully referred to as Hardy by his henchmen. The large white Alien Aisha holding him was Blanco and the other, a shady purple Alien Aisha, was named Marx.

     They reached some sort of park. It was actually very pretty, with trees and flowers and shrubs and lampposts. It was still afternoon, but everyone was either working or at school. It was completely deserted. Normally XP would've loved it.

     Not today though. What wouldn't he give for someone, anyone, to come walking down the path...

     Blanco yanked XP over to one of the thick lampposts and shoved him against it. He relaxed his painfully tight grip for a split second and XP shifted and bit his arm hard.

     Blanco yelled and let go, and XP nearly escaped. Except Marx, the purple one, grabbed him the instant Blanco released his hold. The blue Aisha knew what was coming if he didn't get away - any undercover agent would know - so he fought like a feral Kougra. Marx wasn't nearly as tough as Blanco.

     "Stop him!" Hardy shouted at a whimpering Blanco, pointing to a kicking, biting, punching blur on which Marx's grip was slipping.

     The big, white guy set down his bitten paw to grab the Neopian around the waist and slam him against the lamppost. For a moment, XP was too stunned to move, and Blanco used that moment to pull his arms behind the lamppost and clamp them in place with his solid paws.

     XP let out a sound half-groan, half-growl. He'd almost gotten away! Marx certainly wouldn't have been able to hold onto him another second! So close, and all he'd actually accomplished was making Marx hate his guts. That he could do without.

     "Nice try," remarked Hardy, grinning nastily. "Where's C2?"

     XP ignored him completely and Hardy gestured. Marx swung and smashed a fist into XP's stomach. Maybe he wasn't as strong as Blanco, but it was enough to bash the breath out of the blue Neopian Aisha.

     XP would've collapsed to the ground there and then, if not for Blanco's mighty paws, still holding him in place as solidly as if he was chained to the lamppost. As it was, he gasped in pain and lost all self-support of his legs. He wanted to double-up on the ground, but Blanco's grip was too tight...

     "Who are you?"

     XP narrowed his eyes stubbornly.

     Hardy gestured again and Marx punched the side of XP's head.

     XP had always thought all those stories about stars flashing before your eyes were garbage. Something started by people reading too many comics in the NT. But he sure saw sparks of color and light as the fist connected and his vision swam.

     "And why is someone as talented as you covering for a wimpy tattletale like that Agent C2?"

     XP didn't answer. Marx swung.

     ******

     Mr. and Mrs. Sonix were waiting when the flyer touched down.

     Khargana swiftly climbed out, leaving the goggles with Manny, and pulled out her wacky locator scroll, immediately falling into conversation with the two Alien Aishas.

     Rocky more slowly, and somewhat unsteadily, climbed out.

     "Nice meeting you, Rocky! See ya, Khar! And I still say you'd make one great flygirl! I dunno 'bout your friend though..." The blue Kacheek waved goodbye and took off. Khargana barely even noticed, already pointing out to Mr. and Mrs. Sonix where DeSoni should still be.

     "I'm never getting in a flyer again," mumbled Rocky shakily, eyes half-closed in relief of being back on the ground. "Sky pirates. Ah, man..." He tore his eyes from the retreating flyer to attend to DeSoni's parents and Khargana.

     Mrs. Sonix tapped the location with a forepaw. "I think I know this place. Secret Base E57, if I'm right. It was disabled shortly after DeSoni left. I believe I read it in a report."

     "That would perfectly explain DeSoni's going there," said Khargana firmly. She rolled the scroll, shrunk it, and slipped it into a vest pocket. "Hopefully he's still there. If not, at least we have a starting point. Let's go."

     ******

     XP wasn't being held against the lamppost anymore, mainly because the threat of him getting away was quite a ways gone. Bruised, battered, and unconscious, he was flopped over on the ground between Hardy, the green Alien Aisha, and his two henchmen.

     "I don't get it," growled the purple Alien Aisha, Marx, massaging his left fist. "Why wouldn't he talk?"

     Hardy scowled, spite written all over his face. "He was insulting me. Like spitting in my face. By refusing to answer, he was saying I couldn't get him to do anything no matter what I did."

     Blanco, the huge white Alien Aisha, frowned doubtfully. "But everyone has their breaking point."

     Marx shook his head in annoyance. "I gave him all I got. Lousy Neopian."

     "There must be something," wondered Hardy.

     "We don't even know his real name, let alone what he is," growled Marx.

     "Tie him up," ordered Hardy to Blanco, who nodded and pulled a length of rope out.

     The huge white Alien Aisha shifted the limp body and pulled his arms around to bind them behind him. XP groaned and blinked open his eyes.

     Hardy knelt to meet those eyes. They were clouded from pain and fatigue, but an uncompromising stubbornness and intellect still flickered through. XP was nowhere near his breaking point.

     Blanco finished securing XP's arms and tied his rearpaws together. The blue Aisha fell back into exhausted and pained unconsciousness.

     The green Alien Aisha, the clever informant C2 had exposed, thoughtfully got back up and dusted off the legs of his suit.

     "We'll take him to the hideout. And we'll get him to tell us who he is, where C2 is, and what he was doing here. If it turns out he's someone important-"

     Marx grinned cruelly and finished. "Then we suck him dry of every Neopian secret he's got."

     ******

     Rocky, Khargana, and Mr. and Mrs. Sonix soon came to the entrance of E57. Mr. Sonix opened the control panel and flicked a switch. Instantly the doors hissed open.

     Khargana and Rocky went on in, but before Mrs. Sonix could follow, her husband grabbed her paw to hold her back.

     "Deanna, dear? Would you do something for me?"

     Mrs. Sonix turned in concern to look at her husband. His face was tense and worried.

     "Honey?" she inquired.

     "I- I can tell Der- sorry, DeSoni was here." He gestured at the panel, which obviously had been tampered with. "But it's so quiet."

     "Daniel? What is it?"

     "Would you wait out here, love? Please? I'll come get you after we secure everything."

     Mrs. Sonix smiled. "Don't worry, Daniel. There's nothing to fret about an abandoned base."

     Mr. Sonix pleaded with her with his eyes, squeezing her paw.

     She sighed good-humoredly. "Okay. Okay, honey. But don't keep me waiting! I'm just as anxious as you are about our son."

     Mr. Sonix smiled in relief and rushed ahead to join Khargana and Rocky.

     Khargana was waiting just inside the entrance and she quickly put a paw to her lips once Mr. Sonix caught up, gesturing for him to keep quiet. Then she motioned him inward and pointed at some tracks in the dust on the floor. Rocky was bent over, examining them.

     "DeSoni was here. Is, if this is the only entrance, which I somehow doubt, so never mind. He was involved in a struggle." The Wocky Detective pointed to where the dust was all churned up. "And he lost, not surprisingly. Has he ever won a fight?" She examined the prints for a second more before continuing. "He was tied up, but then just as soon released." The green Wocky bent and lifted a section of rope.

     Khargana sighed and tossed aside the length of rope, turning to face Mr. Sonix. "My guess," she began, "is whoever it was noticed his plight and decided to take advantage of him. Likely he was recognized."

     Mr. Sonix nodded. It made perfect sense. Khargana motioned to Rocky to lead the way as they followed the pawprints in the dust.

     The red Ruki had to use his super-vision to follow the faint prints. As they got further into the secret base, they got harder to see. Spyderwebs clung to the corners and the air smelled musty. The light was dim.

     Eventually they came to a large panel in the wall. The footprints led right up to it and stopped.

     "A dead end?" asked Mr. Sonix.

     "Can't be," mumbled Khargana, setting her paws against the panel to examine it closer.

     Rocky focused his super-vision and narrowed in on a hairline crack between the panel and the rest of the wall. "A secret passageway!" he whispered in awe. Khargana stepped back and he began looking for the way to open it.

     The green Wocky sighed impatiently. "Just yank the whole thing out. This is no time to worry about damaging abandoned property."

     Rocky dug his claws into the crack and yanked. Thanks to his super-strength, the whole panel easily popped open and fell to the ground with a loud clank that made the threesome flinch. They waited for a second, but there was no sound to indicate they'd been noticed.

     Mr. Sonix bent to look it over. "Hmm. You tore this side with the hinges right off, and the bolt on the other side just snapped." He laughed suddenly. "Oh well, we're in."

      Rocky smiled nervously, embarrassed over letting the panel fall. He still didn't know his own strength, all these months down the line. "Compliments of DeSoni's XG12C," he said.

     "Really?" said a mysterious voice. "Then we'd better incapacitate you first."

     Suddenly, three black-suited Alien Aishas dropped from where they'd been hiding near the ceiling.

     The electric-colored Alien Aisha landed directly on Rocky's back and set his paws on Rocky's head. Before the Ruki could swipe him off, a tremendous electrical surge zipped from his head to the tips of his four feet. He wobbled, then collapsed.

     The fire Alien Aisha had roughly taken ahold of Mr. Sonix from behind. "Wait!" he shouted, before crying out and falling to his knees in pain as the Aisha's tight paws turned to fire and burnt straight through his uniform's sleeves to his paws.

     Khargana whipped around, detracting her claws, just in time to fling aside the shadow Alien Aisha that had leaped at her. But it disappeared before she could follow up the attack.

     "Where are you?" growled the Wocky, her keen eyes searching the dimly lit corridor. Where had it gone?

     Suddenly a net appeared out of nowhere and flew over the detective's head. Khargana tried to yank it off, but the Alien Aisha reappeared and grabbed the ends, then suddenly dashed backwards. Khargana tumbled over and the shadow Alien Aisha had the ends tied in a tight knot in no time flat.

     Khargana clawed and fought the plastic-like net, which easily withstood everything she could dish out, entangling her worse in the process. To the Wocky's horror, it also seemed to have shrunk, pressing tightly against her frame on all sides. She gave up fighting, knowing it was hopeless.

     "Who are you?" growled Khargana. "Where's DeSoni?"

     "They're the Mega Three," gasped Mr. Sonix painfully.

     "You know them?" asked the pretty voice they'd first heard. A pink Alien Aisha appeared. She eyed Mr. Sonix thoughtfully, then brightened in recognition and laughed. "Daniel Sonix! The Chief Engineer back on our homeplanet - what a pleasant surprise."

     "AND Terramina Galba!" exclaimed Mr. Sonix, even more surprised then her.

     "Miss Mina Galba, to you," said the Alien Aisha haughtily.

     "Galba?" asked Khargana angrily, sensing a connection even from where she lay on the floor entwined in net.

     "The ex-commander's spoiled baby sister," Mr. Sonix practically spat. He hissed in pain as the fire Alien Aisha tightened her grip around his burnt wrists.

     The pink Alien Aisha looked insulted, but it quickly cleared to a look of triumph. "If you're looking for Derek, he's busy at the moment," she said sweetly. Her tone shifted to one of command. "Lock them up."

     ******

     C2 flew the stolen cruiser all the way to the roof of what he knew was Hardy's hideout. Or at least what had been before he'd been busted, but then Hardy wasn't one to change things.

     Hardy had his sources, he had his methods, he even had his list of Neopians and Alien Aishas he'd sell information too. C2 was willing to bet he still used all of them. You know what they say: if it ain't broke, don't fix it. From what he'd been told, Hardy had been operating for years when he, C2, had finally broken his cover and handed him over to the Madam Commander.

     Chances are, if Hardy had caught XP - which, at this point, wasn't really an 'if' - he would've questioned him and brought him here afterwards.

     C2 remembered the nervous, jittery lab-pet polishing Fyora's desk, shaking his leg, tapping his armrests. The poor guy didn't stand a chance.

     He flipped open the roof flap and lowered himself silently into the attic of the old house.

     Then he began wondering. He remembered the strength in XP's gaze when he said he'd do anything to help his old partner, DeSoni. His sureness in insisting very few were worthy of trust. The ease with which he'd dispatched Hardy earlier. It all spoke of an experience at odds with his natural nature.

     C2 crept through the attic and slowly slid aside the panel leading to the main house. There was a voice speaking, but it was muffled. He dropped to the floor and pressed himself against the wall.

     He knew he should've handled this himself! Then XP would still be off on secret missions for the Faerie Protection Program and...

     ... and he would be Hardy's captive. He would've been caught that first time, never gotten DeSoni's antidote and still been in even more hot water for missing the Madam Commander's meeting. He owed XP a lot at this point.

     The young blue Aisha crept down the hall and came to a railing. He was on the second floor, the staircase just ahead. The muffled voice was clearer now, and definitely Hardy's. Hah! He'd known Hardy wouldn't change hideouts!

     C2 carefully snuck up to the railing on all fours, keeping close to the dusty floor, and peeked through the bars. There they were!

     XP was tied to an old-fashioned wooden chair, barely conscious from the looks of it. Hardy was leaning in his face and seemed to have just finished what'd he'd been saying. He turned on his heel and stomped out of the room.

     C2 climbed up on top of the railing and leapt down, landing softly just behind XP's chair.

     XP's two earstalks twitched and he turned his head to try see over his shoulder, but C2 was positioned too far. He gave up and let his head sag forward weakly.

     "XP? You okay, man?" whispered C2, coming around. He gulped, seeing XP's bruised and beat-up body.

     XP lifted his head to glare at C2 in disbelief. "Get out of here," he whispered weakly, though his eyes were still hard.

     "Not without you!" insisted C2 in a whisper. "I got you into this mess and-"

     "No! Get out - now!" ordered XP harshly, but his delivery lacked strength.

     "If I remember correctly, Fyora put me in charge," said C2 softly, pointing the ends of his "A" collar at the rope binding and pressing a hidden button at the top. A laser shot out and sliced through the rope.

     C2 quickly pulled it off and helped XP up.

     "You don't understand," whispered XP weakly. "The Madam Commander... she'll know you... didn't take the flight. We need a... a reason. This... works."

     "What are you talking about, XP?"

     XP groaned and nearly slid right out of C2's grip.

     C2 fumbled to support XP's dead weight and clicked another button on his collar. A secret compartment in the "A" popped open and a vial slid out. C2 handed it to XP.

     "Healing Potion XVIII, my favorite. Drink up."

     XP took it in his own paw and swigged it whole. In a second the bruises began fading and XP didn't need C2's support.

     "Listen, C2 - we can't blow your cover now! You stay here. I'll send an anonymous tip to the Madam Commander that that Hardy fellow captured you."

     "What?!" gulped C2. "Do you know what these guys will do to me?"

     XP stared for a second, then threw back his head and laughed loudly.

     Of course the noise startled Hardy and his henchmen, who quickly rushed back into the room.

     XP wasn't the least alarmed. "Know what they'd do to you? In light of current circumstances, I should say so!" He chuckled, then turned a perfectly cool face to the three bad guys.

     Blanco and Marx were staring in wonder at the two nearly identical blue Neopian Aishas. Same color, same height, both lithe and athletic. The only difference was their expressions - C2 looked scared stiff and XP amazingly calm and unruffled.

     Hardy's eyes latched eagerly onto C2. "Finally," he whispered darkly, stepping forward.

     XP smoothly stepped between C2 and Hardy. "You know, I really hate old houses like this. Absolutely filthy, crawling with germs, no security whatsoever, and the worst possible danger of all." He turned to wink at C2 while Hardy paused to try figure out what he could possibly be getting at.

     "They're absolute fire hazards," XP concluded. He stared hard at an ancient wooden end table next to Blanco and it burst into flames. An alarm began blaring and the giant white Alien Aisha ran shrieking from the room.

     Marx ran back into the kitchen and came back quickly with several rags which he began ineffectually trying to use to beat out the fire. Hardy looked from the table to XP in shock.

     "Tell me, C2, how long before someone responds to a fire alarm around here?" asked XP casually.

     "Not more than two minutes."

     "Then you'd best start coming up with a story for the Madam Commander."

     "What are you?" gasped Hardy, staring at XP in horror and fear.

     "A Neopian," he answered simply.

     Hardy's expression turned harsh. Sirens were suddenly heard in the background, getting louder by the second. "I'll get you for this," he growled.

     "You'll have to find me first," was XP's calm answer.

     As the sirens got louder and closer, Marx lost his nerve and ran off, terrified of being caught. The end table got knocked over in the process, but the floor was stone and grout, not likely to catch on fire. There was still plenty of smoke and flames to keep the alarm wailing, and it was just a matter of time before the rest of the house caught on fire. The walls, ceiling, trim, and furniture were all wooden.

     Hardy suddenly dashed towards XP, fists at the ready. The FPP agent ducked aside at the last second. Hardy charged again, again XP ducked aside.

     The green Alien Aisha was raging now. He threw himself so hard and so fast against XP the third time, he didn't notice the blue Aisha had been standing in front of one of the walls. XP stepped aside, and Hardy crashed and fell to the ground, unconscious.

     "Transport?" asked XP to a very impressed C2.

     "Um - cruiser. On the roof."

     "I guess that's it, then." XP nodded and turned to leave. There were loud noises outside and banging on the door off in the kitchen - whoever passed for fire response on the Alien Aisha homeworld had arrived.

     "Wait! XP, how did you do that?" asked C2, gesturing at the still - flaming end table.

     XP smiled. "Don't ever underestimate working for faeries, though I guess with you under the Space Faerie it may be slightly different. Remember the uber fire faerie is the head of the FPP? That was a very special 'fiery gaze' at full strength. No Alien Aisha would see a Neopian faerie - blessed ability coming."

     "Will I ever see you again?" asked C2, eyes hopeful.

     "Probably not," answered XP, starting up the stairs.

     "Then thank you. And - I'm sorry about what I said. You know, back in Fyora's office?"

     XP hesitated, then turned back with a slight smile. "Likewise."

     The door back in the kitchen burst in from the efforts of the Alien Aisha Emergency Response Team. The next time C2 glanced back toward the stairs, XP was long gone.

To be continued...

That's about it for the C2/XP plotline, but don't think I'm done with them yet! XP has a vital part to play at the climax and C2 returns at the ending - - but I'm not saying any more! Thanks for getting this far - - only three more parts to go! Sorry it's so long, but would you rather the plotline not be as good? Neomail me with comments, and in case you forgot, C2 is owned by legoman8000.

 
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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 Four
» A Break in Memory: Part Six
» A Break in Memory: Part Seven
» A Break in Memory: Part Eight



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