The Return of Dr. Sloth: Behind the Scenes - Part Four
It took no time at all for Bonto to work out the messaging system. He slowly typed in the message, his gloved fingers figuring out the Station’s keyboard style, which differed slightly from the keyboard Dr. Sloth’s engineers had designed.
In the background, his captives, a blue Buzz and a yellow Grundo, tried to scream for help through the tape that bound their mouths. Another soldier who had come with him paced in front of the two, keeping an eye on them. Commander Garoo has made it clear that he didn’t want them to escape.
Once he had clicked the ‘send’ button, Bonto turned to his companion. “Mission accomplished. Let’s get these two down with the other traitors.”
As they dragged him away, Jantan’s eyes flashed to his computer, making out the message the soldier had typed that was still flashing on the screen.
All sectors are calm. No alerts at present.
He closed his eyes in defeat as he was taken out of the room.
Sarlyi was starting to get worried.
It had been twenty minutes since her boss had left, and he still wasn’t back. It didn’t take that long to get a drink, she knew for a fact. And she thought she had heard emergency alarms earlier, though they had been so faint that she really couldn’t tell. A part of her wanted to leave the Weather Station and figure out what was going on, but a larger part wanted to stay put, where she was safe.
But it wasn’t because she was a coward, she told herself, of course not! She was just being smart. No intelligent person would walk blindly into a potentially dangerous place.
A new neomail popped onto her screen. Sarlyi glared at it.
Since she didn’t have anything else to do, she’d annoy this person some more, she decided. Clicking the message open- from Eva Maztraminh, of course- she read the contents and rolled her eyes.
Stop this nonsense and give me a favorable weather report. You’re making me impatient.
Who did this Eva think she was? Growling under her breath, Sarlyi typed out a new message in spite.
Space will be clear and calm for the next several cycles, with a slight chance of plasma storm coming in from deep space.
She smiled maliciously as she sent it off, wondering what ‘Eva’ would make of it. Of course, she probably wouldn’t find it favorable enough for her needs!
Sgt. Lands, held in bonds with the rest of his team, looked at the soldier in disbelief as the armored Blumaroo brandished the printed message at him, the message from a neomail taken from his computer.
“So, Sergeant,” the soldier said, his tone rough, “you’ve tried to send for reinforcements.”
“Actually, you’ve got it wrong,” Lands replied coolly. “That guy is just bugging me for a job. There’s no code.”
“So you admit there is a code!”
One of the younger members of Lands’ team turned a giggle into a cough
“Well, I won’t let you get the best of me, sir,” the soldier said sarcastically. “You’re cancelling the reinforcements. Now.”
Thus, to his disbelief, Lands found himself being steered to a computer, with a blank neomail open on the screen. His wings were untied, but his legs were still bound together. The soldier shoved the keyboard at him.
“Start typing,” he jeered.
Lands shook his head condescendingly one last time, then composed his message.
Corporal Griddix, I’ve told you half a dozen times that the security officer position has already been filled. I know you’re interested in it but it’s not going to happen, so just find something else to do, all right?
As he sent it, the soldier smiled grimly. “Very good, sir. Now, back with your comrades!”
He was shoved back among the others, his blue wings tied back together. The younger member who had giggled before waited until the soldier was out of earshot, then snorted and turned to his Lenny Sergeant.
“I can’t believe he thought that was a code- isn’t it ridiculous!”
“Actually, it was a code of sorts,” Lands replied calmly.
His team looked at him in surprise.
He explained what he had typed, then said, “Griddix isn’t a Corporal, he’s just a friend of mine from Neoschool who works on technology for us down in Neopia. So he’ll know something’s up, since I called him a Corporal, and my usual nickname for him is General. That’s the way we’ve corresponded for years- I wouldn’t suddenly change my habits, except in an emergency. Hopefully, he’ll try to contact us, and when he can’t, he’ll get some important people to try and get in touch with us, since he’s got connections- and once they’ve realized that we’re in trouble, they’ll be able to prepare themselves for Sloth’s attack, whenever it comes.”
“But they won’t be able to help us,” one of the others said, slouching his shoulders.
“True, but we can’t worry about ourselves right now.” Lands looked at the civilians who were being herded into large groups in the docking bay, many Neopets of different ages who were whispering worriedly amongst themselves. “All of Neopia may be in danger soon...”
It had been forty minutes since Houston had left, and Sarlyi, too scared to leave the room, was frantically sending inquisitive neomails off to everyone she knew- but no one was responding. It was like everyone had left the Space Station, just to play a trick on her, except that that idea was ridiculous. But she couldn’t get in contact with anyone, and she was starting to sweat from her paranoia.
Therefore, when the door to the Weather Station opened, she jumped up in relief.
“Houston, what took you so-“ her question was abruptly cut off as she realized that it wasn’t Houston who had walked through the door, but a tall, very scary-looking Blumaroo. A Blumaroo who was pointing a plasma gun at her.
“You’re under arrest for treason against Dr. Frank Sloth,” the Blumaroo growled. “Stay where you are.”
Sarlyi, shaking visibly, sat still.
The Blumaroo walked toward her, right at her- then shoved her rolling chair, with her on it, out of the way. He leaned over her keyboard, opened up a new neomail, and typed away at her keyboard. Then he sent the neomail off.
Sarlyi, still shaking, watched as the Blumaroo picked up what looked like a radio and spoke into it. “Doctor... are you pleased now?”
Sarlyi looked at the screen, confused. The neomail the Blumaroo had sent was still there, addressed to Eva Maztraminh, and she read it over in growing disbelief.
Multiphasic radar shows a singularity storm approaching from along the galactic rim. Do not go outside under any circumstances.
An oily voice oozed out of the radio’s speaker. “That’s much better, Garoo. Good work.”
“I still don’t see why the change was necessary, sir.”
“Isn’t it obvious? The weather must be in a properly dismal state for my great capture of the Space Station!”
Sarlyi could barely believe her ears.
“And the girl?”
The Blumaroo didn’t even look at her. “The one sending the previous messages, sir. A green Mynci.”
“Oh... her.” Sarlyi shivered at the malicious tone in his voice. “I’d like her sent to me, Garoo. I have a special plan in mind for her.”
“It shall be done. Over and Out.”
Sarlyi cursed that broken window under her breath with all her might as the Blumaroo grabbed her shoulder and steered her out of the room.
Zerp held her breath as she sat behind the large rubbish chutes in the back of the Recreation Deck, not daring to move a muscle. Movement would mean capture.
She had come up to the Recreation Deck wanting to get a drink of water, and what had she discovered but Sloth’s cronies taking over! They had already herded up the civilians, and put the few who had dared to fight back in bonds. She had spotted Gargarox among them, holding his spatula and glaring defiantly at anyone who dared to come near him. He alone of the defiant was not tied up, though he was no longer attacking soldiers.
But Zerp hadn’t been seen. She had managed to duck behind the rubbish chutes as soon as she had realized what was going on, and no one had peeked into her hiding place... yet. But she had to move eventually, or she’d be caught, just like the rest of them. She didn’t know where Sloth was planning to send the civilians, but it probably wasn’t somewhere safe.
She looked at the rubbish chute again- and got an idea.
She had fixed dents in those chutes a million times, had crawled inside to dislodge stuck trash. She could fit in them easily enough, and would be perfectly safe. The huge soldiers would be unable to come after her, since they wouldn’t fit. And maybe Gorix had also escaped- he was always down in those maintenance tunnels, and she hadn’t seen him among the civilians. Maybe they could make a plan together to get to safety.
She waited until the soldier who was patrolling the area had walked out of sight- then she jumped.
In the blink of an eye she was falling down the chute, scraping against the walls. It was a tight fit, but she was an Aisha, naturally skinny. Years or grime coated the walls of the chute more thickly as she fell further down- and then she thumped down onto a pile of trash.
Rubbing her backside, she stood up and looked around. There was no one in sight, yet, at least. She dusted herself off, then started to silently run towards the Maintenance Office. There probably wouldn’t be anyone there but Captain Rolls, and maybe he would help her out, at least to guarantee his own safety.
But when she finally got to the office and opened the door, there was no one there at all.
There was no use taking chances. She locked the door behind her and turned off the lights, able to see well enough with just the safety lights on. Hopefully, any soldiers that came by would think that no one was there. She might be safe.
But what about the others? Had any of them gotten into hiding?
She sat down at the Captain’s desk, turned on his computer. A message he had sent to them all, a rant, of course, was still on the screen. Zerp started up a new message, not caring if it technically came from the Captain- the others would know who she was.
Hopefully, someone was still out there.
I’m hiding out in the maintenance office—none of Sloth’s minions have broken in here yet but it’s only a matter of time.
She paused, then continued typing. Maybe her future was in danger, but that was no reason to keep from joking around. She might as well enjoy her last free hours.
Do you think they’ll keep the station’s regular maintenance schedule?
And now, she thought to herself, it was only a matter of waiting, and hoping, and plotting for freedom...