Blue's Way: Part Four
Half an hour later, the trio had bought the paintbrush and was back at Blue’s hidey-hole. They doffed their cloaks and Blue stashed them back in the tree.
“Okay,” Fura said eagerly. “Can we leave now?”
Blue frowned at her in confusion. “Leave from where?”
“The Haunted Woods, of course.” This place gives me the creeps, she added silently.
The big Kougra blinked. “What made you think we were leaving?”
“Well, aren’t you going to use that paint brush you just bought? We need to go to the Rainbow Pool to do that.”
Blue shook his head. “Oh no. No, we don’t have time to go to Neopia Central. I’m just going to have a bit of the Rainbow Pool brought to me.”
“What do you-” Rei began, but Blue was fiddling with something on his paw. He stuck out one of the claws on his right paw and squeezed it gently. There was a soft clicking noise, and then the blue Neopet sheathed the claw and glanced back up at Rei. “Did you say something?” he asked.
Rei changed what she had been about to ask and instead said, “What did you just do?”
“I just sent for my Petpet. There is a little communicator in my claw. When I press it, my Weewoo knows that he needs to do something that we have previously discussed. I just told him to come here; he already knows that this is where I am.”
“In your claw...” Fura said softly, in wonderment.
“Yes. It’s pretty nifty, isn’t it? Telecommunicators are easier to deal with because things don’t need to be planned out ahead of time. However, I know that if an enemy ever captures me, they won’t find my claw-communicator when they search me. I’ll always be able to alert my Petpet to my predicament.”
Rei was looking at Blue intently, absorbing his words, when suddenly she let out a bloodcurdling screech. “What in the world is that?” she gasped.
Eyes wide, Blue jerked around. “Oh,” he said in relief when he saw the creature that had been hovering behind his shoulder. Relaxing visibly, he turned back to Rei and Fura. “No need to fear. That’s just Suncatcher,” he explained.
“Suncatcher?” Fura murmured in frightened bewilderment.
“He’s in his Chumablah form. A Darigan kougra needs a Petpet that’s a bit more intimidating than a White Weewoo, don’t you think?”
“Wait- you mean this is your Weewoo!” Rei exclaimed.
Blue looked at her in surprise. “Yes, of course. Didn’t I ever tell you two about him? I met Suncatcher when I first joined the DoN. Every new member is given a Petpet partner, and I was lucky enough to get him.” Blue smiled. “Catch was meant to become the partner of a more experienced DoN member. After all, rare Petpets can’t be wasted on new recruits who might decide they don’t want to be a DoN member anymore after a week or two. But Catch bonded to me the instant he saw me, and he refused to have anything to do with the DoN member he was meant for.” Shrugging, Blue added, “We’ve been together ever since. He gets zapped into this form whenever I need to become a Darigan Kougra. For, as I said earlier, it would look a bit odd for a Darigan Kougra to own a delicate-looking Weewoo.”
“Yes, he certainly won’t look peculiar with you now,” Fura agreed fervently, staring at Suncatcher’s twisted, demonic form.
“How’d you come up with his name?” Rei asked curiously.
“I didn’t. He did. You may have noticed that he speaks to me in Weewoo language. Shortly after Catch became my partner, I endeavored to learn his language so that I would be able to speak with him. I finally succeeded, and when I did, he told me that his name was ‘Suncatcher.’”
“Suncatcher!” Rei repeated, pleased. “How’d he get that name?”
Blue chuckled. “I’m afraid Catch is rather conceited- he told me that the sun glimmers off of his white feathers so well, he looks like he’s holding the sun.”
“You know, the meaning of his name could be taken another way, too,” Fura said thoughtfully. “Catch works with the DoN in order to bring justice and peace to Neopia. You could say that he’s bringing light into the world- he’s a light catcher.”
Blue thought for a moment. “That definitely makes him sound noble. Does it apply to me, too?”
Rei giggled. “Nope.”
The Kougra sighed dramatically. “Ah, too bad. I was all set to catch you two as you fell swooning at my paws, enchanted by my heroicness.”
Fura and Rei snickered, and the Chumablah let out an evil-sounding cackle.
Blue swiped at Catch teasingly with a paw. “You have no room to talk! The very sight of you nearly sent the girls into hysterics!”
“What did he say?” Fura inquired eagerly.
Blue grimaced. “He said that girls would never swoon over ‘an ugly mug’ like me, even if I do manage to save the world someday. Mine is the cruel fate to have been partnered with a brutally honest sidekick.”
Rei chuckled again. “I thought we didn’t have much time, Blue. Shouldn’t you be doing important stuff, and not playing around?”
Blue sighed and let out air like a deflating balloon. “Yes, I should be hurrying, it’s true. I just always find it difficult to become a Darigani again. I joke around to help me forget my nervousness.”
“Why is it difficult?” Fura questioned softly.
“Well, it’s not so much that becoming a Darigani is difficult, but that whenever I become a Darigani it is in order to emulate my role in the SPO organization. It’s nerve-wracking, you know, because there’s always the fear that somebody will find out who you really are. But no matter,” he continued reassuringly, “I’ve done this plenty of times. And now I have you two with me, which helps.”
Blue turned back to Catch and took a small pail that had been dangling from the Petpet’s claws. He methodically started to dip the Darigan Paint Brush, which he still held into his paw, into the pail. Rei and Fura peered inside of it and saw rainbow-colored water that was quickly turning purple.
“Ohhh...” said Rei, finally understanding what Blue had meant when he had said that he would bring a bit of the Rainbow Pool to himself.
“Are you sure that’s going to work?” Fura asked uncertainly.
“Oh, sure. I’ve done this many times before, and so have other DoN members. Don’t worry.” Blue tossed away the paintbrush, now devoid of any paint. He held the pail full of Darigan-water up high and, throwing his head back, dumped the purple liquid over himself. Immediately he started growing. Ridges bulged in his back, suddenly erupting and stretching into wings measuring ten feet from tip to tip. His eyes darkened and turned blood red, and his fur darkened to deep purple and black. Fura and Rei watched in horrified fascination until the transformation was complete. Then they really stared.
Blue grinned down at them. “Well, how do I look?” he asked.
Fura managed to squeak, “I thought Darigan Kougras’ wings were supposed to be small.”
Blue gave off a booming laugh. “They are, but not on this Kougra! Nope, my wings are the envy of all of the Darigan Kougras I’ve ever met!”
“Never mind the wings- look at your height!” Rei cried.
Blue laughed again, obviously enjoying his friends’ amazement. “I nearly double my height when I morph into a Darigani,” he stated proudly. “Measured it myself. My strength doubles, too.”
“You look-well, scary,” Fura said. “Scary even for a Darigani.”
“Well, that’s the point,” Blue replied, suddenly serious. “To look intimidating, even to the most frightening pets out there. I hope my looks are scary- we’re going to need every shred of help we can get.”
Fura and Rei did not say anything, just followed Blue silently as he guided them away.
Blue led them to a thick clump of bushes. “Wait here,” he murmured.
Fura looked around. “Where are we?”
Blue nodded in the direction of the bushes. “Just beyond these Spiky Bushes is the meeting place for the SPO. You’ll need to get into those and hide.”
“Into those?” Rei wrinkled her nose. “We’ll get spiked!”
“The only way that I will allow you to watch this meeting is if you get in those bushes.”
“But it’s dark out. No one will see us,” Rei protested.
“The guards would. They are picked specifically for excellent eyesight, as well as for speed.”
“There are guards?” Fura squeaked.
Blue nodded. “Oh yes. And the meeting has already started, so they will be patrolling. One should come along at any moment now. However, they most likely will not see you if you are hidden in the depths of a spiky plant,” Blue explained. Then, “hint, hint,” he added.
The Wocky and Acara looked at him for a moment, then started to ease their way into the bushes.
“That’s right, guys,” Blue encouraged. “Don’t get back out until I come for you after the meeting is over, okay?”
“K,” came the muffled answer.
“See you soon.” Blue shook himself and drew himself up. Twisting his mouth into a scowl and arching his wings, he strode off arrogantly and confidently with Catch fluttering behind. As he entered the clearing, he studiously ignored the guards at the entrance who saluted him. He glanced around the clearing and saw that there was a small campfire in the middle- large enough to give light, but not large enough that the smoke would alert anybody unwanted to the SPO’s presence. Of course, Blue knew that even if the small tendril of smoke was seen, no DoN members would be raiding the meeting place tonight- they knew that Blue would be there.
As the gigantic Kougra looked around, he saw many pairs of eyes staring back at him. He spotted Zalatu’s red eyes glaring at him from the opposite side of the clearing, where the Mutant Kougra was able to see anybody who entered. He had also positioned everything so that the wind would blow the smoke from the fire away from him and into the eyes of anybody who entered the clearing. This gave Zalatu an instant advantage; the other Kougra was smart, Blue had to admit. Blue ignored the smoke stinging his eyes and started around the fire to where Zalatu sat.
“Hello, captains,” he hissed as he passed some of the pets sitting around the fire. They shrank back slightly, intimidated by both his fearsome appearance and his terrifying reputation. The pets seated on this side of the fire were newly raised to the position of captain, and this would be their first time at a SPO meeting. They were always jumpy, uncertain about their ability to give orders to their former first lieutenant comrades, and nervous to be so near to their revered yet dreaded generals.
“PitOfDarkness.” Zalatu nodded.
Blue nodded back. “Is everybody here?”
“The guards have informed me that all twenty colonels and one hundred captains- and two generals- have passed through the entrance. You were the last one to arrive. You were supposed to be here two hours ago, to make plans!” the Mutant Kougra suddenly hissed.
Blue’s needle-sharp claws shot out. “Do not try to tie your apron strings to me, Zalatu,” he warned. “I make my own plans! I had other... business... to attend to.”
Zalatu’s mouth twisted slightly in annoyance, and he nodded grimly. “Fine,” he snapped. “Next time, we will discuss a meeting time that is agreeable to both of us.”
“Agreed,” Blue said harshly. “Now, don’t you think you should tell everybody why you have called this meeting?”
“Careful, PitOfDarkness,” Zalatu growled. “We may be equal in rank, but don’t think that you can push me too far.”
“Just so long as you do the same for me.” As he spoke, Blue’s gaze swept across the bushes surrounding the clearing. He could see no signs of his two young friends; they were keeping well hidden. He turned back to Zalatu, waiting to hear the Kougra’s announcement of the plan that would let the SPO conquer the entire world.
To be continued...