Invisible Paint Brushes rock Circulation: 177,384,943 Issue: 309 | 14th day of Gathering, Y9
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Sloth's Time Machine: Part Two


by azellica

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Also by jamesuk2

Command Center, Resistance Headquarters, Kreludor:

Zara sat in the Resistance’s headquarters, fixing a broken virtublaster and wilting in boredom. “You know, I never thought I’d say this,” the Kyrii said as she slid a new battery into the laser gun. “But I almost miss the Virtupets guys.” She glanced at Retep. “There’s really nothing for us to do anymore. At least with them around, we were busy.”

      “True,” Retep responded. “But we can’t really complain that Sloth is gone and Kreludor has peace. It was a long enough fight for freedom.”

      “Yeah,” the shadow Kyrii sighed. “But I just wish that something interesting would happen...”

Laboratory 3-14, Restricted Area, Virtupets Space Station Orbital #4:

      It definitely hadn’t been one of Oen’s better days. The fire Grundo was hanging by his wrists in the middle of Sloth’s laboratory and surrounded by a ring of silver robots. He twisted at his handcuffs, trying to escape.

      “Stop that, anti.” Sloth strode into the room. “You’ll be free soon enough.” He gave a sharp laugh.

      “What do you want?” Oen asked coolly.

      “Your allegiance.”

      “Never.”

      Sloth looked amused. “I thought you might say that. Fortunately the choice is no longer your own.”

      “What’re you going to do? Brainwash me? It won’t last, so you might as well let me go now.” Oen narrowed his eyes.

      “Ah, yes, I admit that my former techniques of mind control were anything but permanent. An anti might stay brainwashed for a day or two until the effects of my mind control ray wore off... but now... they will stay under my power forever,” Sloth sneered, adding emphasis to the last word. “I have devised a new method of controlling neopets... Now, let’s see, you are a member of the Resistance on Kreludor... one of the miserable antis who have caused me so much trouble and destroyed my moon bases.” Sloth switched on a computer and began to type rapidly. “Ah, you must be Oen- the one that’s been sending pathetic little spies to my space station.”

      Oen didn’t reply.

      “I’d been hoping that you would be caught. There will be one less foolish anti on Kreludor that dares to oppose me now.” Sloth curled a green hand around a metal level and pulled it down. Immediately the robots surrounding Oen gave a shudder and began to glow with red lights that looked like ominous eyes.

      “You see these?” Sloth asked as he patted one of the robots. “One of my newer inventions... these are prior-bots. Designed to brainwash antis using the basic principles of my mind control ray in a more complicated and effective manner.”

      “It won’t work on me,” Oen said, hiding the concern in his voice. “Just let me go and save your trouble.”

      “We’ll see, anti.” Sloth was smiling sinisterly. “When you’re a minion, I’ll send you down to Kreludor to help remove the Resistance. I would find it amusing to have you bring your fellow antis in to join us.”

      “Never!”

      “Perhaps you’ll change your mind after I change it for you. Welcome to a lifetime of servitude.” Sloth’s red eyes glinted maliciously as he pushed a red button on the lab wall.

      The robots crept forward to tighten the circle. The red light spilling from them intensified and focused on Oen. The fire Grundo felt a wave of confusion tear through his mind and he desperately pulled at the bindings on his hands. If he could just get free and warn the others... Another pulse of red light filtered through his mind, spilling images of Sloth into his thoughts. The prior-bots were humming with a cold electric sound as they moved closer. Oen shut his eyes and tried once more to twist out of the handcuffs that held him. A third wave of light refracted through him and he forgot why he was trying to escape.

     ***

Sector 9-P, Kreludor:

      The cold Kreludan night was still and silent. A solitary space ship was slowly descending, invisible against the dark backdrop of the sky. Inside, the newly reinstated commander, Krule, was pacing around, muttering impatiently and biting his nails.

      “Will you sit down,” Lieutenant Zoland snapped. “It’s hard enough to land in the dark without you jumping about like a possessed meepit.”

      “Turn the landing lights on if you can’t see,” Krule said with annoyance. “And don’t give me orders. I outrank you.”

      “Hah, we’ll see how long that lasts.” Zoland smirked. “You certainly won’t remain commander if you keep having stupid ideas. Turn the landing lights on,” Zoland mimicked. “Yeah, so the antis see us landing? Brilliant, Krule.”

      Krule curled his green hands into fists. The only thing that could have made the mission worse was to have to work with Zoland. Sloth must have assigned the Lenny to the mission as part of Krule’s punishment. There could be no other reason.

      The ship smoothly touched the ground and began to creep forward as the Lenny directed it into the gaping entrance of an old Kreludite mine.

      “Have we landed then?” A voice came from the passenger compartment of the ship. “Master Sloth will be pleased that we have gotten here so quickly. You two must start following his plans- I have to return briefly to the anti’s base.” A fire Grundo had stepped forward.

      “You can’t leave,” Krule grunted. “We need to set up the time machine.”

      “I will not take long,” Oen said softly. “Master Sloth wishes to ensure that the Resistance will not interfere with our plans. I will carry out his wishes.”

     ***

Command Center, Resistance Headquarters, Kreludor:

      “Where have you been?” Retep asked with slight annoyance as Oen strolled through the doors of the Command Center. “You could have sent us a message or something... we were beginning to wonder if Sloth had gotten you.”

      “Sloth? Get me?” The fire Grundo laughed. “Never. Are you and Zara the only ones here?”

      “Pretty much. There’s not much to do for the Resistance anyways these days. What’d you find out at the space station?”

      “Nothing, nothing to report...” Oen said, frowning. “My agents just forgot to contact me... you know, nothing has really happened lately.”

      “Maybe Sloth’s finally given up,” said Zara. “He’s failed so many times... it wouldn’t surprise me.”

      “Maybe.” Oen’s eyes glinted. “I need your help with something, both of you. I picked up some of the latest Virtupets technology from the Space Station. They’ve upgraded the old Virtublasters and I thought that we could replicate them for the Resistance. I’ve already put the new weapons in the safe, but do you have time to take a look?”

      “Sure, nothing better to do.” Retep stood up. “Though I don’t know why we’d bother replacing the laser weapons we already have if there’s no use for them.”

      “You never know,” Oen said, leading the way to the safe. “These have a lot of new features.”

      The fire Grundo stopped in front of a tall metal door and punched an entry code into the plate beside it. The thick safe door slid open to reveal a large room packed with crates of space weapons, stacks of anti-Sloth posters, and neopoints. Oen lingered near the door as Retep and Zara followed him inside.

      “Where’d you put the new virtublasters?” Zara asked, scanning the safe’s contents.

      “I don’t see anything new. Are you sure you left them here, Oen? ...Oen?” Retep spun around to see the safe door gliding shut.

Abandoned Kreludite Mine, Sector 9-P, Kreludor:

      Krule stared blankly at Sloth’s blueprints and slowly blinked. “I don’t get it.”

      “That’s because you’re reading it upside-down,” Zoland snapped, grabbing the papers away. “We should be finished with the time machine by now. You haven’t even been able to open the crates of materials!”

      “It’s more complicated than it looks,” Krule grumbled. “Sloth can’t have expected us to assemble all this in a few hours.”

      “Well, he did. So we’d better finish or he won’t be happy.” Zoland peered at the instructions. “It says that the multi-dimensional modem needs to be plugged into both the space and time ports. So, which piece is the modem?”

      “I’ve returned, Masters,” Oen stepped into the light of the mine platform. “The Resistance will not be disturbing Master Sloth’s plans. I have taken care of them. Have you completed the time machine?”

      “We’re working on it,” Krule muttered.

      Oen took the blueprints from Zoland and raised an eyebrow. “But this is so simple. Master Sloth has made it so clear! Hand me the box of time-equalizers,” he said, setting down the plans.

Safe Room, Resistance Headquarters, Kreludor:

      Retep kicked the safe door angrily. “If it accidentally closed, Oen would re-open it, wouldn’t he?”

      “I don’t think it accidentally closed,” Zara replied, frowning. “Something’s wrong here. Oen would never lock us in here on purpose, though.”

      “Unless... but he’d never betray us,” Retep said, glancing up. “Wait a second, do you think that when he was at the space station...? They captured him?”

      “What? And brainwashed him? Unlikely.” Zara began digging through the stacks of space weapons. “The effects of mind control don’t last longer than a day or so; why would Sloth bother?”

      “I don’t know...” The royal Lupe kicked the door again. “We need to get out of here and find out what’s going on.”

      “The sooner the better,” Zara said, examining a box of bombs. “The safe is airtight, eh?”

      “We’ll suffocate?”

      “Eventually. And I’m afraid our communicators are useless inside here. You know, we could blow the door off with these explosives... I just don’t know how we’d get out of the way.”

      Retep walked over. “What if we used some of these virtushields to protect ourselves?”

      Zara frowned. “I hope they’re strong enough then.” The shadow Kyrii began to carefully position explosives along one side of the safe door.

      “Two layers of shields should do it,” Retep said, pulling thick metal virtushields from a crate. “Ready?”

      “I guess so,” Zara said checking on the explosives. “Let’s hope this works.”

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» Sloth's Time Machine: Part One
» Sloth's Time Machine: Part Three
» Sloth's Time Machine: Part Four
» Sloth's Time Machine: Part Five



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