Neoplay: Two Faeries and a Wannabe Evil Overlord - Part Four
Also by fsufan266
Ara led the way in, her big Xweetok eyes taking on a sort of night vision. She shut the door behind Cera, but left it open a crack for when they would leave later. Seeing as it was about to close, she picked up a rock she found lying on the floor and wedged it between the door and the wall. It stayed put. Satisfied, she quietly asked Cera if she could see in the dark. When she saw Cera's outstretched arms flopping around blindly in the air, she already knew the answer, which was good, because Cera hadn't appeared to hear her.
The sixteen-year-old Bori fumbled around, waiting for her eyes to get used to the dark. Since there was no light source anywhere, she knew it was a hopeless wait. She kept one arm out so she would run into anything but all.
Arathyne saw this and took her extended hand in hers. "Calm down," she said quietly, "and let me lead you. Don't flail about. You'll only cause a racket if you crash into something." She began to walk in the darkness, taking Cera along with her, and they appeared to be in a sort of hallway. A door — a real one, with a knob and everything — lay at the end. Cautiously, she turned the knob. It was locked. She cursed silently. She turned it again. Nothing happened, not that she'd expected it to. She banged her head with her fist, lightly so it didn't make a noise, and was about to turn around and leave when something in her gut told her to try again. So she tried the knob again, and as she turned it, it didn't stop, but kept turning, and she pushed it. It was unlocked now.
Weird, she thought, frowning.
Light flooded into their eyes. It was a dim light, and though it was good enough to see by regularly, Arathyne kept her sight in night vision to see details in the dim lighting. Neopets swarmed by the center, which had in its place a giant gray contraption that curved up toward the ceiling. Pink pets led the others into little slits in the contraption, and a glass barrier locked them in. There were buttons pushed and sharp zaps following, and then the pets exited the contraption a pink color. It looked like the Secret Lab Ray she'd heard about, but she was somehow fairly certain that this wasn't it.
Ara put a finger to her lips to keep Cera quiet. She looked around for someplace to hide, beside their spot behind the door, which was open just a hair. She found two tall barrels not too far away, and so she looked around to find anybody who might be watching. She saw nobody; they were all focused on the contraption. Still leading her by her hand, she took Cera behind the two barrels and they crouched there, peering between the gap in between the two at the pets. Once there, she released her from her grip.
Cera trailed after her, feeling weird about all of this. She watched as the machine zapped the pets pink, wondering why in the world would they want to be pink. Pink was a great color, but why would everyone here want to be just that? She was pink once, because, so she'd been told, her mother was pink, but her mother was painted that color, not zapped, and Cera had been zapped from pink to faerie. She followed Ara behind the barrels, asking, "What's going on?" so quietly that she was afraid that even Ara wouldn't hear her. This was all very strange, and she wanted some answers, even if they weren't the correct ones.
She'd heard her. "I don't know," she whispered back. "Looks like some sort of machine that changes your color, but... why pink?" She wrinkled her nose in disgust when she named the color.
Cera kept watching as the queue of regular pets grew smaller and as the group of pink pets grew larger. "I know of a machine that randomly changed things about a pet," she muttered. "Colors, species, stats, the works. Sarah has access to it, but I know it's not under Mystery Island, and it doesn't look like this."
"Yeah, I know the Lab Ray. Mom wanted to get it at first, to zap Trei into a Draik, but decided she didn't want to subject us to that kind of terror."
They kept silent after that, both of them trying to fit the puzzle pieces together, so everything made sense in their minds, but it didn't work too well. There weren't enough clues. Finally the whole line of pets was turned pink, and they watched them be taken away.
"I don't—" She was about to say more, but two pink pets, a Kacheek and an Ixi, were walking straight toward them. She looked around for a new place to hide and found a little niche in the wall, able to hold both of them but just barely, that hid in the shadows and she could just barely make out. She beckoned for Cera to follow her into the niche, and she squeezed in as far back as she could go, folding back her wings to avoid crushing them.
Cera's eyes grew wide as she saw the pets coming toward them; she scrambled around and squeezed herself into the niche after Ara. The pets arrived and worked together to pick up one of the barrels. They grumbled and complained about something, then placed the barrel by the machine then came back for the other one.
As the Kacheek and the Ixi came and went with the barrels, Arathyne felt something strange and tingly in the tip of her tail. It seemed to slowly spread as her fear of being caught grew at the same speed. Finally, she instinctively looked down at her tail, which she could've sworn was curled up around her legs in her mashed position. But it wasn't there. She could feel it, but it wasn't there. She attempted to look behind her, which wasn't exactly manageable, but when she looked back, the tail was there. She shivered. The tingly feeling was gone. She glanced over at Cera, who didn't seem to have noticed.
The pets took the barrels and opened a hole into the top of one with a knife. Steam blew out of the top, and the Ixi pressed a button, opening a hole in the machine, before going to help the Kacheek pour the contents of the barrel into the hole. Steam flooded the hole.
Cera felt Ara fidgeting and sort of looked over at her. Moving was not really something they could do right now. "What are you doing?" she whispered, trying to be quiet, but even her little whisper echoed and seemed louder in the crevice.
The Kacheek's ear twitched and he looked over in their direction. Cera tried to squeeze herself farther into the alcove but she couldn't.
"What's up?" the Ixi asked the Kacheek.
"Did you hear that?" the Kacheek asked, taking a step in their direction.
Cera was terrified that even her breathing would be heard, and closed her eyes, waiting for the pets to either find them or forget about them.
Ara shifted nervously, her shoulder smashed against Cera's. She tried to put on her brave face. The tingling feeling returned, but she paid no attention to it.
"Hear what?" asked the Ixi.
The Kacheek pointed. "It sounded like it was coming from over here."
"Well, let's go check it out."
They wandered over to the wall and looked behind everything. Arathyne made no sound. The tingling was spreading all over her body, and she thought she felt it escape her shoulder into Cera, but how would she know?
"Maybe right here..." The Kacheek finally reached their niche. He leaned down and looked straight at them. Arathyne was waiting for him to pull them out of their hiding spot, but he just stood and walked further down the wall as if he hadn't seen them.
"Find anything?" the Ixi asked. Silence passed, and Ara assumed the Kacheek had shook his head, because the Ixi continued, "Well, Jatt, what did you expect? You think somebody was hiding in here that we missed?"
"Gee, sorry," Jatt muttered sarcastically.
"Look, man, we're going on break now anyway. You're working too hard. Let's go get you some borovan, hmm?"
"Mmm, yeah, borovan... Sounds great." The two of them walked out of an iron door and slammed it shut. Arathyne let out a breath she didn't know she'd been holding. The tingling feeling left as she poked her head out of the niche. Nobody else was there but her and Cera.
Cera was now in shock, first because something weird rushed over her body, then Ara disappeared, and last because the pets were less than two inches from finding them and still didn't see them. She about screamed when Ara showed up again. When the coast was clear she crawled out of the niche and faced Ara. "No power, right," she said, annoyed.
"Huh?" Ara blinked. What was she talking about? 'No power'... huh? Ara was officially confused.
Cera grew angrier. "You're joking, right?" Her voice was rising; this was really getting old. She didn't lie to Ara, so why was she lying to her? "You just turned us invisible!"
To be continued...