Revenge and Resistance: Part Two
Previously: A Neopian Times author, along with his four Neopets, was arrested and imprisoned by a small army of Sloth Clones, under the charge of “slandering Doctor Sloth’s name” in the various publications written by the author. Meanwhile, Sloth and his band of mercenaries traveled to a secret location underneath Mystery Island.
The door clanged as Sloth kicked it open, and he stepped forth into the cluttered room. In front of the group stood a hodgepodge of machines, all with blinking lights and quiet blips. On the floor between the machines was a bulls-eye, and the center of it was deeply blackened and cracking in places.
In an adjoining room a Scorchio stood with his back facing Sloth and his henchmen.
“We’re closed!” he shouted.
“Very well,” Sloth said back. “But can you help out an old friend nevertheless?”
The Scorchio paused, and turned to face the newcomers through the dusty window. He was wearing a lab coat; though it was so badly stained and burnt it was hard to tell whether it had ever been white. His yellow skin was chapped; his eyes were swirling vortexes of insanity. How he could see was a mystery even Sloth couldn’t solve. His hair shot straight up, giving him the appearance of constant shock, most likely from the thousands of experiments he performed daily.
“Doctor Sloth!” he cried when he realized who had joined him in his underwater laboratory. He hurried from the room to meet them. “It’s a pleasure to see you! How long has it been, three, four months?”
“A bit longer than that, my dear friend,” Sloth said, feigning cheerfulness. He despised the feeling. It didn’t suit him, despite what those fools at the Neopian Times said. Nevertheless, he smiled and thumped the Scorchio on the shoulder lightly.
“Really? That long? I hadn’t noticed, what with being down here all the time... ah, well, what is it you were needing?” the scientist asked. Garoo, Sloth’s top mercenary, noted he either hadn’t noticed or chose to ignore the fact that they were all holding weapons.
“I wanted to request a favor of you,” Sloth said. Garoo’s attention jumped back to his master. Although he was rather high on the pecking order, his leader still hadn’t mentioned much of the plan to him or anyone else for that matter. His curiosity aroused, he listened intently to what Sloth had to say.
“We need recruits, and lots of them,” his master continued. “I was thinking you may be able to work your magic with the Ray and possibly churn out some more pets that are more, um, how should I put this, willing to assist me?”
The Scorchio stared at Sloth. “What sort of pets?” he asked. Sloth sighed with relief inwardly; at least he was intrigued by the idea.
“Perhaps more Mutants would do the trick? I can only hand out so many Transmogrification Potions, you know, after that fool of a Faerie Queen enacted the Random Event Limitation Statute of Year 3, but your Ray, now, here we’re completely free. Do you think you could do that for me?”
Once more, the scientist was silent. “Is that it?” he said after a moment.
“Well, I’d also love it if some more Robots could come out of there, possibly programmed for allegiance with me?” Sloth asked. “I hope I’m not asking too much of you, my friend. I just figured since we went way back...” Sloth said.
The Scorchio’s eyes whirled as he digested the request. Sloth watched him for any sign, ready to jump on whatever it may be.
“Very well,” the scientist said. “But what will be my payment?”
Sloth was caught off guard. “Um... a high position in my new regime?” he said after a moment’s thought.
“And if you fail?” the Scorchio asked, eyes still swirling.
Sloth’s lip curled into a growl as he gripped the blaster in his hand tighter. “I will not fail,” he snapped. The scientist stared for a second more and then turned on his heel, sauntering to the machines, which he began fiddling with.
“Fine, Doctor. You’ve got an ally.”
Sloth relaxed his expression, relieved. “Thank you, Doctor. May I ask for one more favor before I leave?”
The Scorchio put down the wires he was twisting together and looked back at the group. “What do you want?”
Sloth glanced at the pink Aisha behind him. “Sophix, come here,” he ordered.
She stepped forward. “Yes, Master?”
“I have a special mission for you. But you’ll need to have a disguise. That’s where the scientist comes in.” He looked up at the Scorchio. “Doctor, if you will? Something with wings, preferably.”
The scientist nodded and returned to the control room, where he meddled with various buttons and levers. “It’s ready,” he yelled over the whir of the machines firing up.
Sophix stepped forward onto the charred bulls-eye, closing her eyes tightly. The machine’s whirring got louder and louder until—
Smoke filled the dingy laboratory. Garoo coughed and waved his hand to clear the air. He gasped as he saw what stood where Sophix stood seconds before. He knew what was coming, but it was still a shock to see that a Shadow Buzz had replaced Sophix’s feminine Aisha body.
“Is that to your liking?” the Scorchio asked as he returned to the main room.
“Yes, quite,” Sloth replied. “Thank you, doctor.”
“Good. Now leave me. I’ve too much work. I’ll begin your requests at once.”
The group was herded into the airlocks by the Scorchio, who clanged the door shut behind them. Sloth silently stared at the lights detailing the pressure changes in the pod.
“My mission, master?” Sophix asked expectantly. “What does it entail?”
Sloth broke his gaze and turned to the group behind him. “Find the Space Faerie and capture her,” he said.
Sophix smiled. “Of course, master. Thank you for trusting me with this mission.”
“Yes, yes, but know this: if you fail this mission, you will not get the chance of returning to the Aisha you were before,” he said as calmly as possible. He wasn’t even looking at Sophix.
“You wouldn’t!” she shouted, shocked.
“Then you best do as I tell you,” Sloth snarled. “Oh, and one more thing: when you capture the Space Faerie, take good care of her. Do not under any circumstance hurt her, do you understand?”
Sophix nodded stubbornly. “But why?”
“That’s my job.”
Café Kreludor was packed. Neopets of all walks of life populated the dingy tavern: tourists enjoying the local cuisine, the seedy bounty hunters and mercenaries for hire, ship captains on a pit stop, but most of all, there were Grundos of all colors of the rainbow. The waiters and waitresses were predominantly orange, and the chef, the only purple Grundo in the bunch, looked ironically undernourished. All in all, it was a rather colorful spot, both literally and figuratively.
Sophix had come here to find information on the Space Faerie. She knew of the well-connected people who practically lived in the cantina and she was determined to find them. She approached a Skeith with an eye patch covering its left eye and confidently got his attention.
“Whaddya want, you little slime?” the Skeith muttered after glancing at Sophix with his only good eye.
Sophix ignored the insult. “I’m looking for someone,” she replied.
“Aye? Then I’m not the one to be askin’, eh? Me eye’s concerned on only one thing: where I’m goin’, not anyone else,” the Skeith replied huffily.
“You and I both know that’s a lie,” Sophix retorted.
The Skeith paused and examined the Aisha-turned-Buzz. “Very well, ye caught me, slime. Who you be lookin’ for?”
“The Space Faerie,” Sophix replied.
The mercenary gave Sophix a double take. “No one’s able t’ follow th’ Space Faerie. Give up whatever ye’re trying to do, i’s impossible if it involves th’ Space Faerie.”
“Just tell me if you’ve seen her,” Sophix sighed. “I don’t need a warning from you or anyone else.”
The Skeith sighed. “Ye’ll be sorry, you know that? No one messes with th’ Space Faerie. But aye, I’ve seen her. Earlier today. She was givin’ out quests over at Booktastic Books. She migh’ still be over there.”
What luck! Good fortune was on her side today for sure.
“Now that wasn’t so hard, was it?” Sophix asked discreetly, trying to downplay her delight.
The Skeith glowered at Sophix. “Be off with yeh,” he muttered. She turned on her heel and set off for the bookshop.
“Where is my Purple Fuzzle?” the Space Faerie asked a burly Grarrl in the bookshop. A long line wound its way through the bookshelves and out the door. Sophix grinned. She was fourth in line now, after waiting for three long hours to meet with the Space Faerie.
Of course, these weren’t exactly the best conditions for a kidnapping. But Sophix was willing to pull her blaster for the mission. Sloth’s words swam through her mind: If you fail this mission, you will not get the chance of returning to the Aisha you were before. It was simple. Succeed or forever be a Buzz, a punishment worse than death, at least in Sophix’s eyes.
She was brought out of her thoughts with a sharp nudge in her back. She glanced back and saw a disgruntled Wocky staring back at her. “Get a move on,” the Wocky growled. The line had moved forward and Sophix was next in line. She waited impatiently for her turn and sighed softly when the Gelert in front of her left smiling with glee, for the Space Faerie had requested a Volcanic Rock.
“Hello, little Buzz,” the Space Faerie said cheerfully when Sophix had stepped up to the table where the Faerie sat. “I’d like for you to get—”
“I don’t want a quest,” Sophix interrupted. The Space Faerie looked rather affronted. “I have a message for you. You are to come with me, right away.”
“Come with you where?” the faerie asked in response.
“That is of little importance. Get up now or I shall have to use force,” Sophix demanded. This was natural for her; this was her specialty.
The faerie’s grin had subsided fully now. She now had a suspicious glare on her face. “I will not go with you anywhere, even if you do have a blaster hidden somewhere. Who do you think you are?”
“I am a messenger of Sloth,” Sophix hissed barely above a whisper. “And you best come with me.”
Her eyes widened in disbelief. “It cannot be. He is not really returning, is he? I have heard the rumors, but...” she trailed off.
Sophix was getting fed up. This was taking too long and the Neopets behind her were getting restless. Sighing, she whipped out her blaster, taking aim not at the faerie, but at the Wocky behind her. Everyone in the area hushed as they realized something was going on.
“Come with me. Now,” she commanded of the faerie.
She studied the Buzz and stood up. “Do not hurt her,” she said, voice wavering. “I will come peacefully enough. Just do not hurt the innocent.”
“Very good,” Sophix said, smiling maliciously. She pointed the blaster at the faerie and gestured forward. “Let’s go.”
The two left the bookshop and exited the compound, the Neopets in the line watching their every move.
Sophix tried to keep her busy as they slowly made their way to Sloth’s headquarters. Her blaster holstered, she asked the faerie questions while still trying to maintain her tough image. For the most part, the faerie replied, but only half-heartedly. Worried, she pressed her prisoner for more in-depth answers, but they still didn’t come.
They were nearly at the airlocks now. Sophix asked one more question for good measure and waited for the response she didn’t really care about. But it didn’t come. Acting quickly, the faerie threw up her arms and shouted some unintelligible words. A vivid yellow orb appeared, shimmering and jerking as if it were a small star contained between her fingers. Blue streaked through the yellow, electrifying the orb.
Gasping, Sophix fumbled with her holster. She managed to pull out the blaster and aim it at the faerie, but it was too late. The faerie, with one final burst of energy, shot the orb towards the compound with a ferocious speed. Sophix, in a spurt of frustration, nearly pulled the trigger on the faerie, but remembering Sloth’s threat, managed to control herself long enough to release the trigger.
“What was that?” Sophix asked furiously. “You will pay for that!”
“I know,” the faerie replied solemnly. “But I am already going to be imprisoned. What more can you take from me?”
Sophix zoomed forward and shoved the blaster in the faerie’s back. “Move. Now.”
The two trudged towards the Space Station, Sophix glowering.
A blast rocked the Kougra’s containment unit. He awoke from his simulated slumber, where he was “dreaming” of a battle he had taken part in years ago. Not sure if he awoke from the blast or the dream, he got out of bed to investigate.
The Kougra was tall and muscular. His face, like all other Kougras, still had its childlike charm, and his smile could persuade anyone. Yet he rarely smiled these days. Life on Kreludor was boring, to say the least, and a life in exile meant lying even more low than usual. Naturally, he took any bit of excitement that he could get. Stepping outside, he gasped at what he found. A glowing yellow and blue orb was revolving outside his front door.
Can it be? he asked himself, zoning out as he stared into the center of the sphere. Yes, it must be. No others would know about this.
Suddenly worried, he sighed. This can only mean one thing, he thought. The Space Faerie is in trouble.
To be continued...