Escape From the Secret Laboratory
“Unnnngh...” Balairiphon groaned in a truly monotonous manner. His little green hands were pressed against the window. Millions of droplets pelted at the glass, streaming downward and leaving obscured paths of moisture as they went, muddling the Shoyru’s vision of the outside.
“Good grief, Blaire,” Ryotandi chimed in, quirking a fuzzy blue brow, “what’re you, Tyrannian? You comin’ down with Ugga-Ugga or somethin’?” With a twitch of his ears, the semi-concerned Bori crawled onto the bed that Balairiphon had been perched on for the past hour or so. Ryo’s sea-green eyes peered out the window to see what’d been so interesting this whole time--when he found nothing but a tormented sky he turned back to his dismal friend. “’Cause if you’ve got Ugga-Ugga...” he began to inch away from the younger Neopet.
Balairiphon turned his head away from the window and folded his arms. “I don’t have Ugga-Ugga you numbskull--will you relax?” Ryo looked generally relieved and then scooted a bit closer to his friend.
“Then what’s up with you?” he asked, tilting his head so that his little tuft of blue hair fell over one of his big, green eyes. “You’ve been starin’ out that darn window all day long!”
“You really want to know?”
“Yeah, ‘course I do.”
Balairiphon turned his head once more, his chocolate brown eyes stared outside for a while more. The reflection of the blurred outside swirled in his large, black pupils. After a while he turned away from the apparently hypnotizing vision and gave Ryo a long, hard stare. “I’m bored out of my mind!” He waved his hands spastically in an attempt to make his point.
The Bori’s eyes widened and he fell backward. Ryo thought that he’d be used to the quirky little Shoyru’s capricious movements and sudden attitude changes by now, but apparently he was still having trouble adjusting. Ryo struggled to get back onto his feet, but his shell was large and round and all he could manage was to roll back and forth on it, grunting the whole time.
Balairiphon suppressed a giggle and reached for the blue Bori’s claws, pulling him up and falling backward himself with the weight he’d put into helping Ryotandi up. “Gee, Ryo,” he panted, “I’m surprised you haven’t been banned from the Chocolate Factory, you weigh like--” he paused, looking for an estimate, “a thousand pounds! You’re going to run them out of business!” He laughed hysterically at his own joke and Ryo simply rolled his eyes.
“Well, since you’re so bored, let’s do something,” Ryo suggested with an honest smile.
Balairiphon hopped off the bed. “We could play Shoyru Neocheckers!” He got down on his hands and knees and reached under the bed, pulling out a dusty old box. He brandished it with his elbow and coughed as the microscopic dust particles floated into the air. He opened the box to find it missing several pieces. “Nevermind. Heh.” He smiled sheepishly as Ryotandi crawled off the bed with a sardonic expression.
“I didn’t think you had the attention span for a board game, anyhow.” He smirked playfully and began to head for the door of their single-room Neohome.
“Where’re you going, Ryo?” Blaire asked, looking out the window. “It’s disgusting out there!” He followed the Bori to the door and waited--it wasn’t like Ryo to go outside on a day like this.
“Well, we could always go to the Neopian Bazaar for a while--I’m sure we can find something to do there.” He nodded.
“Like get you fattened up on more chocolate?” Balairiphon cackled once more as his Bori buddy pushed the door open with an irritated sigh. “Ha ha, very funny...” he muttered and braced himself against the rain.
It was nice to be a Bori on a day like this--the rain hit his shell and slid to either side of its curved surface. His large ears did a fine job of shielding a large portion of his head and face from being soaked--but the ears themselves were darker with wetness.
Balairiphon unfolded his wings and pulled them around him, creating a semi-transparent green cocoon around his body. “Remind me why we don’t have rain jackets on?” he asked, shivering a little.
“Because we don’t have rain jackets?” Ryo chuckled and hobbled along the cobblestone path to Neopian Bazaar. The path wound like a serpent, leading the pair into a grove of trees. It was not so wet underneath their leafy branches, and so Balairiphon moved his wings behind him once more and relaxed a little. The occasional drop would fall and hit one of them on the head, but it wasn’t anything intolerable.
They walked the winding way until the trees began to thin. Balairiphon’s wings immediately shot up and around his body at the first sign of an increase in rain and Ryo shook his head with a small smile at the Shoyru’s obvious distaste for rain.
“We’re almost there, Blaire,” he explained as they came out of the trees and into a large clearing filled with shops. The usually busy Neopian Bazaar was empty today due to the massive downpour, but a few strange pets scampered from shop to shop.
“Man, it’s empty...” Balairiphon complained, scrunching his face up in distaste.
“Not entirely,” Ryo pointed out, nodding across the way to the few Neopians determined enough to be out and about no matter the weather. “See them? They’re not complaining.” He smirked, satisfied.
“Yes, but they have raincoats.” Balairiphon smirked and laughed a little. His jokes were all in good humor, and normally he barely complained at all... He just hated the rain.
Ryo didn’t grace Balairiphon’s comment with a response. “Well then, if you’re so cold, let’s just go in here for a second to warm up,” he said, bounding toward the Gift shop which was the closest shop in sight and virtually right where they’d come out of the trees.
Balairiphon followed quickly behind and passed Ryotandi, pushing the door open. They were greeted by the merry jingling of a bell attached to the door. As they entered, sopping wet, the Scorchio behind the counter’s head perked up, his eyes brightening.
“Ah! Welcome, welcome,” he said blissfully. “How may I help my first customers of the day?” he said, clasping his little red claws together and leaning toward the pair of Neopets. The Scorchio’s bright green eyes glinted happily as he held out one of his arms in order to gesture at his store. “Can I help you with anything?” he questioned eagerly. Blaire and Ryo exchanged playfully worried glances and shook their heads feebly.
Balairiphon almost regretted complaining about his boredom earlier, but he supposed being interrogated by a hyperactive Scorchio was better than staring out a window all day.
“We’re just browsing, thanks,” Ryotandi answered for the pair of them, he seemed to be the more responsible of the two.
The Scorchio frowned lightly, but the look of displeasure vanished like a tray of chocolate that was left in front of Ryotandi for too long. He was back to his old cheery self, hardly discouraged from advertising. He wrapped his scaly, red arm around Balairiphon’s shoulder that was slippery from the rain. The Scorchio opened a little black box and revealed a stunning silver ring, “Special lady in your life?” he asked in a cheesy talk-show host voice. “Why not impress her with this ‘Stunning Silver Ring’?” he asked with a sly grin.
“Or if that’s not good enough for the little lady,” he nudged Balairiphon with a chuckle, “how about this ‘Beautiful Golden Ring’?” he grinned.
Balairiphon blinked. “...Uh, no thanks...” his voice trailed off, giving Ryo a pleading look. Ryotandi took the hint and grinned at Balairiphon’s discomfort.
“No thank you, sir, we should really be going,” he said politely and turned to leave. A door creaked from somewhere in the back and the Scorchio’s attitude changed completely. He withdrew his arm from around Balairiphon’s shoulder while his eyes widened and a look of shock and horror played on his face. He looked toward the back of the shop where the front desk was--there looked to be no doors anywhere in the shop aside from the front entrance--but the three of them had definitely heard something, and a look of terror was playing on the Scorchio’s features.
“You must leave, now, go immediately!” he hissed, trying to push the two out of the shop.
“Well, we were just about to, but you don’t have to be rude about it,” Balairiphon said; he hadn’t really processed the fact that this was sounding like an emergency.
The sometimes dense Shoyru may have missed it, but Ryotandi got the memo, “Come on, Blaire, quit dawdling!” he snapped and wrapped his large, black talons around Balairiphon’s wrist--tugging him toward the door that was farther away than the two had remembered it. There was another creaking noise and then the lights went black.
“How could I have forgotten to lock it!?” The Scorchio’s voice came frantic from the blackness and the pitter patter of lightning quick feet and things breaking sounded all around them. The hair along Ryotandi’s neck stood on end and Balairiphon leapt toward where he figured his friend would be. Ryo grunted as the small green Shoyru collided with him in terror.
“Lock what!?” Balairiphon squealed, squeezing Ryotandi’s neck tightly.
The lights flickered back on and standing in front of them was another Scorchio--a horribly demented yellow Scorchio wearing a clean, white lab coat. His hair was white and stiff, spiked up as if he’d been electrocuted badly. His eyes were swirling with red and yellow; an intensely hypnotic gaze.
“The trap door, you fool--” the crazed Scorchio answered. “My dear brother, you always have been quite the absent-minded fellow,” he cooed, cupping the red Scorchio’s cheek and erupting in maniacal laughter. How typical for the mad scientist type.
“Please, brother, let them go,” the red Scorchio responded, clasping his claws together and falling to his knees. He bent his head downward, he was obviously afraid of his own sibling as well.
“And let them spread the word about what goes on beneath your precious gift shop? I think not.”
“Wait--” Ryotandi interrupted, “you’re the crazy Scorchio that runs the Secret Laboratory!” he gasped. “Your laboratory is in Mystery Island, though, isn’t it!?” He knew this was probably not the time for questions, but he had to know. He’d read so many books...
The Scorchio laughed maniacally again. “Well, yes, dear boy, it was,” he cooed, reaching down to pat Ryotandi on the head. Ryo flinched in disgust and backed away from him. Balairiphon remained, holding onto Ryo’s shell from behind and quivering gently. “However,” he explained grimly, “my precious Kookith wasn’t a huge fan of the Laboratory... and so, we moved beneath my dear brother’s shop--”
A Kookith dressed and looking similar to the Scorchio hobbled out from behind a shelf of gift cards. Its crazed eyes matched its owner’s and Balairiphon reeled back in disgust. “Eww...” he muttered and the yellow Scorchio’s eyes narrowed darkly.
“Why am I revealing my evil plans to a pair of nothings like yourselves... you two aren’t even painted,” he scoffed, holding his nose up high. “But no matter,” he continued, the quieter and lower his voice got the more sinister. “You won’t be leaving here anyway.” He smiled, clasping his claws together.
“Oh brother, please... please let them go!” the shop owner begged, but was silenced by a strange noise that the Kookith made. Ryotandi and Balairiphon exchanged horrified glances and before they knew it, they were being whisked down the stairs by a group of strange Petpets that’d come out of nowhere!
The Kookith that seemed to be commanding the terrified looking Petpets opened the trap door located behind the desk. There was a stairway leading into darkness--and, of course, they were all headed for the dim, drippy, and dank lair of the mad Scorchio. The shopkeeper was left near the front doorway, staring helplessly at his customers being dragged downward no matter how hard they struggled. He shook his head and closed his eyes in dismay as the trap door slammed behind the last, twitching Spyder.
The laboratory bore a musty smell--the ceiling was dripping and the ground was damp and cold. They were taken around a corner and there it was--the legendary Secret Laboratory complete with an impressive looking ray. The mad scientist walked proudly up to it and tapped its side. “Ah, yes, my beloved Ray. I can’t quite get the thing to do exactly what I want it to do, but hey, I’ll take the consequences if there’s a mishap.” He smiled, dragging his scaly palm down the shiny, metal side.
The Kookith hobbled over in a different direction, but when Balairiphon turned to look where it was going he noticed a mini version of the laboratory they were now in. His jaw dropped. A Petpet Laboratory?
“Let us go!” Ryotandi snarled--the Petpets had turned him onto his back so that he could not roll over.
“Oh I’ll let you go,” the scientist cooed, “when you’re mutants and no one will recognize you or believe the stories you tell! No one will even bother talking to you! You’ll be far too terrifying--Oh it will be splendid...” He was gushing now, and it made the pair of prisoners sick to their stomachs.
The mad Scorchio’s Kookith piped up from somewhere in his own lab and the scientist blinked. “Oh, yes, well, onto the zapping!” he smirked. “Now, I warn you--I may not be able to make you a mutant on the first try,” he explained, “in fact--I can only shoot this baby once a day. It takes a whole day to recharge for another zapping, you know--”
The Kookith’s yip cut him off again.
“Right.” He laughed and aimed the Lab Ray at the pair of terrified Neopets being held there by Petpets who looked equally as terrified. “Now who to zap... first?” He looked to see which one seemed to be more terrified--and that was most certainly Balairiphon. The Shoyru’s chocolate eyes were wide and glazed with horror, his little fists were clenched and glistening with sweat. “You,” he stated simply and aimed the ray at Balairiphon.
The ray made a strange charging noise as the Scorchio punched various buttons here and there, getting ready to zap the poor, terrified Shoyru who continued to wriggle around on top of all the strange Petpets.
A Snowbunny bounded out from under the group and stood, trembling in front of Balairiphon, holding its head up. It was obviously trying to protect the young Shoyru from his untimely doom. The crazed Kookith in the other lab squealed and squawked and made all sorts of horrible, angry noises. It pressed buttons on its own lab ray, aimed, and fired at the Snowbunny who dared to stand up for one of their prisoners.
Balairiphon gasped as the Snowbunny lit up white for a moment and then turned into a pile of soot. Balairiphon gasped, his eyes wide with shock--they began to glaze with tears, assuming the poor Petpet had reached the end of its life to save his. Balairiphon felt new strength and courage burn in his stomach and his eyes narrowed in bitter hatred for the Kookith and its demented owner.
Blaire shook the Petpets off, looking down at the pile of soot longingly and then to the Scientist. The Scorchio fired at Balairiphon, but the green Shoyru had spread his wings just in time. The beam missed completely, but the Petpets that were holding Ryotandi had gotten such a fright that they’d scampered in various directions. There was extreme disorder in the Secret Laboratory and Balairiphon took advantage of this. He pushed Ryotandi onto his feet while frantic cries of the mad scientist echoed through the dim lab.
Balairiphon glanced backward as the Scorchio and his Kookith charged after them. Ryotandi began to run. Balairiphon began to follow and then stopped when he heard a strange hissing noise. He turned around to see a pair of brown eyes peering out from the pile of soot. He smiled softly and ran toward it quickly, scooping whatever portion of it he could in his arms and being careful not to let the grains of ebony slip through his hands.
They ran around the lab, looking for some sort of secret exit--there was none! “We can’t escape!” Balairiphon gasped. “There’s no break in the dirt walls!” he gasped frantically, clutching the brave little Snowbu--Pile of soot tightly in his arms, protecting the creature that’d so forcefully protected him.
Ryotandi smiled. “Dirt walls, eh?” He grinned, running toward one head on. Blaire didn’t realize what his friend was doing until he noted a glint from one of those powerful black talons. Ryo sunk his claws into the dirt wall and began to dig quickly through the wall--creating a hole just big enough for Balairiphon and himself to squeeze out of. The two Neopets popped out just outside the Gift shop and the rain had never felt so good to either of them in their entire lives.
“Curses!” the Scientist bellowed--the echo of his distraught voice sounding through the tunnel. Ryotandi knew that if they could just escape they’d be home free--the Scorchio wouldn’t dare follow them into the open--the police would surely have him arrested for his crazed experiments.
The two friends panted just outside the store. “That was close...” Balairiphon breathed, shaking his head and closing his eyes as the warm little Pile of Soot nestled itself happily in it’s new owners arms.
“Looks like you’ve got a new friend,” Ryo pointed out, beginning to pad back toward the trees that lead to their Neohome. “Don’t go replacing me, now,” he cautioned with a playful smile.
Balairiphon was too busy smiling down at his new Petpet to acknowledge the joke. “Yeah, I do...” he murmured almost breathlessly--“Isn’t that right, Zap?” He smirked, dubbing the Pile of Soot, and then the three made their way home in silence.