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The Scientist's Mutants


by d_morton

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The fading moonlight shone beautifully through the crack in the prison wall that served its life as the only window. It illuminated the shadowy cell slightly; its dank walls and floor overgrown with moss, the ancient rusted door against the far wall, and the current prisoner gazing hopefully out into the blackened night. He was a fiery Ruki, held in place by manacles attached to his arms. He had a hopeless expression on his face, as if resigned to his fate.

     He was the next target for the scientist upstairs. The fortress was now full of mutants because of him, and now he wanted to change this poor Ruki into one too. It was a truly fearful thought.

     Suddenly a fire faerie drifted through the crack, a tiny speck against the pale moonlight invisible to the guards. The Ruki's expression suddenly changed to one of hope, one of glory.

     "Hey!" One of the mutated Kyrii that guarded his cell was on their feet, their foul, murderous gaze set upon the faerie. This was the moment the Ruki had been waiting for. With a mighty swipe of his right arm the manacle broke from against the wall, the rusted screws flying across the room to land with a loud clatter on the floor. The end of the chain smashed into the Kyrii, throwing them roughly against the wall. As the second rose to their feet the other manacle broke, smashing against the Kyrii.

     Hastily the Ruki searched for the keys as the fire faerie watched patiently. "Right," the Ruki said at length. "Time to stop this insane experiment for good. Some other Defenders are en route you say? Good, they should come in useful."

     As he made to move to the door, his chains now lying useless on the ground behind him, the fire faerie blocked his path, now the same size as the Ruki. "Judge Hog gave me these to give you, Leban," she said, presenting him with a bow and dagger, designed for Rukis. "He also said don't go straight for the scientist, that Scorchio will destroy you if you go alone!"

     Leban stared at her for a moment. "I have no alternative I'm afraid," he whispered softly, before disappearing through the shadowy door. The fire faerie stood for a moment, before shrinking and flying out the crack as the moonlight passed and left the cell in shadow once again.

     The passage outside the cell was deserted, the torches burning in their brackets for nobody. The light flickered mysteriously over the crumbling walls, creating a daunting effect to the lengthy passage. Footsteps began to sound at one end, heavy and rhythmic. Leban swiftly extinguished the flame against the opposite wall and crouched into the shadows, poised to strike. A pair of large mutated Grundos rounded the corner at the far end, each holding long spears that occasionally spat sparks of electricity over the floor. They had come to take Leban away to be mutated.

     Swiftly Leban leapt from the shadows, his bow firing wildly. One Grundo fell uselessly to the ground, but the other, sharper on the uptake was already halfway towards Leban. Slinging the bow over his back he grabbed the dagger and took flight. The Grundo watched stupidly as he flew over him, landing smoothly behind. Abruptly Leban's hands were around the Grundo's throat, the dagger poised. Two legs had wrapped themselves around the Grundo's arms, leaving the other two to stand lightly on the ground.

     "Where is the scientist?" Leban whispered slowly, his voice emitting a feeling that the Grundo would not live much longer if he stayed silent.

     "In the lab," he grunted, his voice trembling slightly.

     "Then let's go to the lab," Leban replied softly. "Lead the way."

     For what felt like hours the Grundo slowly stalked the passages, Leban maintaining his grip on the captive. As they rose from the dungeons the dank walls changed to well kept marble, the moss was scraped away to leave the walls clean and attractive and the torches seemed to shine with a new light. It sent an eerie shiver through Leban's body as he softly walked with the Grundo.

     Suddenly the Grundo stopped, causing a number of other hideously mutated pets to emerge from around. Leban looked up into the stare of a security camera, completely out of place in the fortress walls. The scientist wasn't as dumb as he looked after all.

     Lost in the depths of the dark forests surrounding the fortress sat a group of Defenders sent in to free Leban and stop the scientist's foul experiments. Judge Hog himself had come out on this one, but was sitting a short distance from the others, waiting for a sign. The faerie had been gone a long time.

     Suddenly the canopy above began to shake, while a shrill cry echoed on the wind. The Fire Faerie burst through, followed by a mutant Buzz. Swiftly Judge Hog dived at the abomination, smashing it fiercely into the ground. It stared up helplessly at the Moehog, twitching nervously.

     "Is this what he has been up to?" Judge Hog asked rhetorically, "Changing pets into these… these… things?"

     The Fire Faerie had re-grown to Neopet size as he spoke, watching intently as the other Defenders crowded around. "It seems so," she replied, taking a degree of pity on the Buzz, "And that is why he has taken Leban. Who has, by the way, escaped from his cell."

     This is mixed news," Judge Hog said slowly, "But it is the sign we have been waiting for. The fortress is nearby, and now we must attack it full force!" This declaration was met by vast cheers from all around.

     "Jetsam guard the front entrance, and it is also the only entrance," the Fire Faerie explained, "And inside it probably gets worse than that."

     "It is our job and our mission to stop the scientist," Judge Hog replied. "Therefore, we must do whatever it takes. The odds are in our favour with Leban on the inside helping…"

     A storm was beginning to brew outside as the Defenders made for the fortress, but oblivious to help being so close Leban trembled as he stood in the laboratory. Machines hummed and crackled everywhere, mixed with the sniggering of the Scientist's guards. The Scientist himself stood before Leban, his white coat ripped in several places by those who resisted.

     "So," the Scientist said blankly, his eyes spinning mysteriously. Leban remained silent, fighting an urge to respond with 'so what.' "You are the one the Defenders of Neopia sent out to get me this time?" he continued, laughing hysterically. "All those idiots Judge Hog sent out before have been turned to my side, and you will be no exception."

     Roughly the Scorchio holding him dragged Leban to the ray, forcefully tying him in place. Unable to resist Leban glared at the guard, daring him to do something stupid. Ignorant to his gaze the Scorchio strode away, standing a brief distance from the Scientist. This was turning into one of those horrible days you wished you'd never see.

     Suddenly a long crash echoed around the lab. The Scientist stared at his guards for a moment, silently ordering them to leave. Taking advantage of this moment Leban trying to break free of the old binds. As one began to break he became aware of someone watching. The Scientist sat facing him, watching with interest as he struggled.

     "Don't let me deter you," the Scientist said lightly, as if he had nothing better to do with his time than watch someone struggle. Furiously Leban opened his wings, the sheer force of this action miraculously shattering his bonds. As he took flight the Scientist pulled out a small wooden crossbow, aiming it at Leban.

     "Good trick that one you worthless grasshopper," he spat, watching Leban drift back to the ground, "but I have no time for tricks! It is time to get this finished!" The string snapped into place, launching the bolt with amazing velocity. Instinctively Leban took flight once again, no longer in fear of being shot if he stayed airborne.

     Carefully he swayed aside as another bolt struck the machine behind him. Sensing time running thin, he dived at the Scientist, his full body weight behind him. Suddenly a Korbat flew down from the high rafters, his claws gripping Leban's fast wings. Together they fell to the ground, Leban once again in the clutches of the Scientist.

     More frequent crashes echoed around the lab now as the Korbat held Leban tightly before the ray. In his mind he knew the Defenders had come at last, a fact that had successfully eluded his foe. However another part of his brain knew they were too late. He was going to be turned into a mutant before they could get near enough to save him. The ray crackled as it prepared for firing, but as if were the light bulb of a bright idea, Leban was struck by a devious thought. He spun around lightly, dragging the Korbat with him as he did so. The Scientist noticed too late as the ray fired, striking the Korbat heavily.

     Leban rolled aside as the grip broke, but his four feet rapidly left the ground as he dived at the Scientist. His eyes widening as he saw a fireball roar towards him, the Scientist dived aside, but Leban reached out and grabbed the back of his coat, violently pulling him back.

     Suddenly a wail came from the Korbat as the ray overloaded, the Scientist fleeing before he could shut it off. It began to crackle with electricity as it shuddered viciously. Leban made for the control panel, his grip weakening on the Scientist. He regretted it instantly as a heavy blow smote the back of his head, knocking him unconsciously to the ground.

     The door to the lab rested down the corridor from the lab itself as Judge Hog nervously stepped in, taking in the debris and damage to the machines. The lab ray was completely destroyed, leaving nothing but a small pile of sludge that was once the Korbat. Cautiously he stepped over to the control panel, finding Leban awakening from his rough experience.

     "You okay?" Judge Hog asked slowly, helping the Ruki back to his feet.

     "What happened?" Leban replied, rubbing his aching head. He froze as he saw the ex-laboratory.

     "Looks like the lab ray overloaded or something and blew out the place. It seems the Scientist got away too, though," Judge Hog answered, leading Leban steadily from the lab.

     "So we failed?" Leban asked as they walked through piles of unconscious bodies. The Defenders had done a thorough job on clearing out all the mutant guards.

     "We stopped him, so not really," Judge Hog answered as the rest gathered around. "We'll get him eventually; it'll just take a little while."

     As he finished speaking a beam of vibrant, refreshing sunlight pierced through the windows and down over the entrance hall were the Defenders all stood savouring victory. Simultaneously a beam hit the Scientist as he emerged from a cave on the far side of the island. Casting aside his tattered lab coat he placed a pair of sunglasses on his head to conceal his eyes. With a cautious glance behind him he hastily took flight and fled from the island, seeking a new place to set up his laboratory and a new scheme to seize control of Neopia. An image of Judge Hog drifted into his mind as he flew away. The major flaw in all his plans lay with that annoying Moehog...

The End

 
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