Sloth's Time Machine: Part Four
Also by jamesuk2
Hallway 6-A, Virtupets Moon Base 32, Kreludor:
Oen patiently followed Krule through the moon base. The fire Grundo’s mind was brimming with thoughts of Sloth and his greatness. As he walked through the halls, he constantly ran through plans to bring Sloth to power. This mission would ensure victory on Kreludor. But afterwards, Sloth would need to take his rightful place as Neopia’s dictator. How could Oen, Sloth’s most faithful minion, assist the Doctor?
“We should wait here,” Krule said. “That room there is the conference room. I should be in there if this is the past.”
Arguing could be heard through the door. Krule’s harsh shouts were reverberating from the room.
“Someone needed to take a few deep breaths.” Zoland smirked. “So Zara will come out any minute?”
“I think so...” Krule was unsure.
Oen’s mind snapped back from happy thoughts of Sloth’s domination. “We need to hide somewhere so she won’t see us right away... around that corner maybe.”
The fire Grundo, followed by the two other minions, dodged out of view. Oen carefully leaned against the wall so he could get a clear view of the conference door without being visible.
Moments passed. The sounds of intense arguing continued.
“So is that what you do at those big important meetings?” Zoland asked Krule with a sneer. “You just sit there yelling about how you should be in charge?”
“Be quiet!” Krule narrowed his eyes. “You know nothing. Sloth has never entrusted you t-”
“Silence,” Oen breathed. “Zara’s coming.”
The conference room’s door opened and a shadow Kyrii walked out. She raised her communicator to her face and frowned.
"Eh, I'm in a meeting right now... and why do you need me at the control room? Are you at the base?" the Kyrii spoke softly to the screen. After another moment, she lowered her communicator and, looking slightly worried, began to run in the direction of the control room.
“Get ready...” Oen said sharply. “...NOW!”
The shadow Kyrii turned the corner and suddenly skidded to a stop at the sight of the three minions. “Krule! O-Oen?” Her eyes widened.
Krule had his virtublaster raised. “Now at last I get revenge.” He fired a shot.
Corridor 3-14, Restricted Area, Virtupets Space Station Orbital #4:
The Virtupets security guard led Retep and Zara into the lower levels of the Space Station. At last he stopped and knocked on a door labelled ‘Laboratory 3-14’. After a few minutes, a small Grundo wearing a lab coat answered.
“Yes? This is not a good time for interruptions.”
“I thought the boss could use some more lab rats,” the guard said, nodding at Zara and Retep.
The diminutive Grundo sighed. “We already caught one today. Some Grundo from Kreludor who was found looking for information... the Doctor will be dealing with him shortly.”
Retep glanced at Zara and nodded. Immediately both antis flicked their virtublasters into their hands and fired a laser at the guard and the Grundo. The two Virtupets workers dropped to the floor, unconscious.
“Nice work.” The royal Lupe stepped over the Grundo and pushed open the laboratory door. “I guess we did get lucky with timing.”
Inside was a vast room filled with towering heaps of metal and wires, beakers of transmogrification potions lined up on rows of shelves, and piles of blueprints littering the floor. In the center, was a ring of silent robots, and in the middle, hanging by his wrists was-
“Oen!” Retep yelled, running towards the fire Grundo.
Oen spun around as best as he could. “Thank the Space Faerie! Can you help me?”
Zara examined the handcuffs and drew a Virtupets utility knife from her belt. “I think I can get you out.”
“We’d better hurry,” Retep said nervously. “Sooner or late-”
“Well, well, well,” a very deep and ominous voice echoed though the lab. “This is unexpected.”
Retep froze where he was. A tall shadow fell across the antis.
Hallway 6-B, Virtupets Moon Base 32, Kreludor:
Commander Krule fired a shot at Zara. And missed. He fired another shot. And missed. The lasers zipped past the shadow Kyrii and she turned to run.
In a flash Lieutenant Zoland lifted his own laser gun and knocked Zara off her feet.
“That’s how you do it,” the Lenny said, shaking his head at Krule.
“She was moving too fast,” Krule pouted.
“Yeah, right. You’re just a bad shot.”
“How dare you speak to a superior like that!” Krule growled. “When all this is over, I intend to report you for many breaches of-”
Oen raised his hands. “Please, Masters, our job is to carry out Sloth’s plans. You are not assisting him by arguing.” He walked over to where the shadow Kyrii was crumpled on the floor and pushed her over. “She’s unconscious. We have done our job.”
“That was it?” Krule asked. “Aren’t there still two antis at the control room?”
“Yes,” Oen replied, “but without Zara’s help they will be unable to get in. We have ensured she will not assist them.”
“So the future’s changed?”
“We’ll have to wait and see.” Oen checked his watch. “In half an hour, we will be called back to the present by the time machine.”
Laboratory 3-14, Restricted Area, Virtupets Space Station Orbital #4:
Retep was suddenly aware that the circle of robots surrounding them was slowly gliding forward to make a tight wall. The royal Lupe raised his virtublaster and fired at the nearest bot, but it was no use- the laser simply reflected off its metal coating.
Outside the ring of robots Dr. Sloth was standing, his eyes glinting with malice. “I didn’t know antis made such good bait.” His voice was layered with amusement. “Here I thought I’d only have one loyal slave to add to my legions, but it appears now...” He glanced at Retep and Zara. “I’ll have three.”
“We’re trapped,” Retep breathed. He ran forward to try to push away the towering robots, but they had advanced too far.
“Stop that, anti,” Sloth snapped. “You’ll be free soon enough.” He gave a sharp laugh.
“What do you want?” Oen asked coolly.
“Never,” Oen and Retep said together.
Sloth looked amused. “I thought you might say that. Fortunately the choice is no longer your own. I am emperor of Virtupets and Kreludor, and soon will rule all of Neopia. Welcome to a lifetime of servitude.” Sloth approached the lab wall and pushed a button embedded in its surface.
The robots began to vibrate ominously.
Retep glanced at Zara. “Whatever happens, we have to get Oen free and save the future.”
The shadow Kyrii nodded and forced her utility knife into Oen’s metal handcuffs. She twisted it until she found a screw to remove. It slowly began to loosen. With a pull, one of Oen’s hands was free.
Shuddering, the robots sent red light flooding across the circle. It entered Zara’s mind and temporarily made her forget what she was doing. Sloth... Sloth.... Sloth... she felt his name echo across her conscious. The Kyrii shook the thoughts from her head and focused on freeing Oen’s other hand.
A second wave of light pulsed from the robots. The feeling of confusion Zara had had intensified. Where was she? Sloth... Sloth... Sloth... Who was she?
“Zara!” Retep’s voice was screaming with panic. “Zara!”
Shaking with effort, the shadow Kyrii twisted a screw out of the second handcuff. Why was she doing this? Questions surfaced across her thoughts.
The screw dropped to the floor and Oen fell forward.
“Get him out of here!” Retep’s voice was strained.
The robots gave another shudder and a third wave of light began to pour from them.
Zara was dimly aware of her and Retep grabbing Oen and in a last burst of strength, flinging him over the ring of robots. Then the red light blossomed inside her mind and she knew no more.
Hallway 6-B, Virtupets Moon Base 32, Kreludor:
Oen blinked. It was if suddenly his mind had been cleared. His own memories, thoughts, and personality came flooding back into this head. The fire Grundo turned to see Zara’s unconscious body and he suddenly remembered where he was. Oen’s eyes widened with horror. What had he done?
“It’s been forever! I want to get back to the present and get my promotion,” Krule whined.
Oen thought fast. The past Zara was stunned, but she needed to get to the control room to help his past. Krule and Zoland, two Virtupets officers, were waiting impatiently, flicking their weapons. The fire Grundo checked his watch- less than a minute until they would be called back to the present. Panic shot through him and he glanced around wildly for an idea.
“Something wrong, minion?” Zoland laughed. “You’re twitching.”
“We’ll be brought back very soon,” Oen muttered. How was he going to fix things? Thirty seconds now.
Thinking of nothing better to do, the fire Grundo rapidly drew his virtublaster and instantly stunned Krule and Zoland with two well aimed shots. Checking his watch, Oen quickly dug a reviver and a piece of paper from his utility belt. Twenty seconds. He grabbed a virtupen and quickly scrawled: Get to the control room A.S.A.P. Ten seconds. Pressing the note into one of Zara’s hands, the fire Grundo opened the reviver potion and gave her a few drops. The shadow Kyrii began to stir just as Oen’s watch beeped and the hallway melted away.
To be continued...