Blue's Way: Part Three
Just a few moments later, Rei and Fura were walking through the forest with Blue. They had announced to the Kougra that they would help him, and he had immediately told them what his secret was. At the moment, both of the girls were staring awestruck up at Blue, amazed at what they had just heard.
“So- let me get this straight,” Rei squeaked. “You’re a Defender of Neopia? That’s your secret? OMG! DoN members are, like, my heroes!”
“Yes, I’m a DoN member,” Blue responded patiently with a hint of a smile on his lips. “I’m glad to know that you don’t think I’m ‘crazy’ or ‘evil’ anymore.”
Rei blushed to the roots of her ear stalks, and Blue took advantage of her silence to turn to Fura.
“And what of you, my friend? What do you think about all that is happening?”
Fura thought for a moment before replying. “I’m not sure what I think. It’s really amazing that you’re a DoN member, really it is. But I do have some questions. Why were you enrolled in school if you’re a DoN member? You must be older than us if you are a member, so were you enrolled in school as part of your assignment? Why did you choose us to help you? And finally, what is your assignment?” Fura stopped, out of breath, and looked up at Blue. Rei was also waiting quietly and expectantly.
Blue chuckled. “Well... first things first, I suppose. For starters, you guessed correctly about my being enrolled in your school for the sake of my assignment. I’m a bit older than I look; I’ve already gone through Neoschool, and the DoN training, of course. My youthful appearance and good acting skills were two reasons I was chosen for this assignment. Of course, you two figured out quite quickly that I wasn’t quite like the other kids. I chose you to help me because you two both seemed smart, kind, and curious. Also, you have- let us say- good hearing, though in the heroes and villains world, this of course means that you are good eavesdroppers, or that you have a knack of listening to what you should not hear.” Blue winked at them cheerfully.
“And... the nature of your assignment?” Fura asked softly.
Blue sighed heavily and half turned away to the others. He murmured softly to himself, “I have trusted them thus far; I must trust them completely or all that I have revealed to them will have been for naught.”
Fura and Rei exchanged wary glances once again. What could possibly be more amazing than what Blue had already told them?
They turned back to Blue as he started to speak. “There is a certain organization currently at large in the villain world. It is well known to the Defenders of Neopia, but virtually no average citizens have ever heard of it. This organization is the self-proclaimed Superior Painted Ones, or SPO for short.”
Rei wrinkled her nose. “Superior Painted what?”
“Superior Painted Ones. You see, the ones who lead the SPO believe that ‘painted’ pets are better than ‘unpainted’ ones, or that they are superior. Thus, the name ‘Superior Painted Ones’ was born.
“Considering how many Neopets are involved in it, the SPO is proving extremely elusive for its size. Usually, larger villain rings are easier to break because there are more leaks and weak links. However, even though it is estimated that the SPO contains about ten thousand members, there are virtually no informational leaks. It has also been extremely difficult to capture any members, and the members we have captured seem to know nothing- it’s as if they have been put under a spell that makes them forget everything they know.”
“Ten thousand members?” Fura whispered.
Blue nodded. “Yes, the SPO is quite large.”
“So... is it your job to break it up?” Rei asked.
Blue nodded again. “It is. I am a spy within the SPO organization.”
“Wow...” Rei breathed, looking awestruck once again. “Wait... so why did you choose us to help you? I mean, I know you said earlier that we’re smart and curious and all that stuff, but isn’t it easier to be a spy if you don’t have two kids tagging along?”
Blue inclined his head. “True, that is usually the case. But I like having somebody around to cover my back; and besides, it gets lonely knowing that on a mission you can trust no one but yourself.” There was a momentary pause.
“Blue,” Fura said suddenly, “you mentioned that two of the reasons you were picked for this mission were your youthful appearance and good acting skills. Were there any other reasons you were chosen for this assignment?”
Blue hesitated, and a strange look came into his eyes. He said softly, “The main reason I was chosen is... I am a member of the SPO.”
“Wha-what?” Rei reeled back in shock. “You’ve tricked us! Fura, help me get him!”
Eyes wide with fear, the green Wocky leaped in an attempt to jump on Blue’s back. However, she couldn’t jump high enough and instead slammed into the Kougra’s side. At the same time, Rei tried vainly to knock Blue’s paws out from under him.
Blue stood there, solid as a rock, staring incredulously down at them. “Enough of this!” he said sternly. “Get a hold of yourselves!” Rei gamely kept trying to knock him over, and he grabbed her by the scruff of the neck and held her down to the ground. He did the same to Fura with his other paw. “Enough!” he barked. “Use your brains! If I’m a Defender of Neopia, I’m obviously not in accord with the SPO’s plans!”
Rei stared at him, then nodded. “Sorry, Blue,” she muttered. “It’s just... you told us all these bad things about the SPO, and then you tell us you’re part of it... and you had this funny look in your eyes...”
Blue chuckled and let the girls up. “I see. And anybody who has a strange look in their eyes must be criminally insane.”
Fura flushed. “Sorry.”
“It’s fine. I’m just going to warn you, though- next time you want to attack somebody, you might want to do a bit of planning first.”
The Wocky and the Acara nodded solemnly. “So... you’re a member of the SPO?” Rei reminded him.
Blue nodded. “Yes. I used to be a loyal member when I was younger.” He shrugged. “I heard about the DoN one day and discovered there was more to life than power and cruelty. I’ve never looked back since.”
“Oh. Okay,” Rei replied in relief. Fura felt there was more to the story, but she didn’t press the point. She still knew that Blue could be trusted.
* * *
A short time later, Blue told them, “We are approaching the Haunted Woods Marketplace. You can stay here; I’ll be back shortly-”
“Oh, can’t we come with you?” Rei asked eagerly. “I’ve never been there before!”
Fura suppressed a wince. She had no desire to go anywhere in the Haunted Woods. Still, she told herself, going to the Marketplace is probably safer than staying here alone where who knows what is watching you. “Yes,” she said out loud. “That sounds good to me, too.
Blue sighed, and then nodded reluctantly. “Come over here, you two.” He led them over to a nondescript tree and pulled several pieces of black cloth from a fork in its branches. “I knew I’d need these some day.”
“What are they?” Rei asked.
“They’re cloaks. I stashed them here a few years back.”
“You knew that you would be here a few years ago?” Fura asked in disbelief.
“No, of course not. But every DoN member keeps five or so hidey-holes around Neopia, just in case.” He winked at the younger pets. “It’s good I decided to put one here, isn’t it? Ah, look, there’s one cloak for each of us!”
“Blue,” Rei protested, “do we have to wear these?”
“Of course,” came the cheerful answer. “Nobody must see what type of pets we are. If somebody sees us, and sees us again later on and recognizes us, they could put two and two together and jeopardize the mission.”
“What are you going to buy that’s so important?” Fura inquired quizzically.
Blue winked at her yet again. “A Darigan Paint Brush.”
As they walked, Blue tried to sort out his jumbled thoughts. On one hand, Rei and Fura are intelligent and probably not completely helpless in a fight. They do follow my orders, albeit reluctantly. However, they are unused to living the life of a DoN member. Who knows who they might start talking to and inadvertently betray my mission, without even realizing it? They certainly aren’t battle-trained, either; they might hold their own in battle, but it’s more likely that they will be a hindrance than a help to me. They could win this mission for me, or they could lose it. Still, he reminded himself, I chose them for their good qualities, and besides, I like them. They may not be trained, but they’re eager. Eagerness makes up for a lot of inexperience. Yes, I think they’ll do. He smiled inwardly contentedly for a moment, and then looked back at his two young friends with a grin.
To be continued...