Witches Further Abroad: Part Two
Consider Kreludor. More importantly, consider the dark side of the moon.
Watch as the mystery figure begins its construction. No one ever comes to this side of Kreludor, apart from to hit meteors with sticks. The figure has complete privacy. Nearby, a black Wain jumps up and down in the low gravity, soaring up metres before falling back down.
“Would you stop that?” the figure hisses.
The Wain stops, and looks guiltily at its master, who continues his work.
For hours the sounds of hammering, welding and general building fills the air. Finally, the figure stands back to admire its work.
“Perfect,” it says, and turns to look at the space station floating in the distance, “Soon you shall be mine.”
Edna stared down at Neopia through the reinforced glass of the Virtupets Space Station.
“I thought I’d be able to see my tower,” she said sadly.
Behind her, Morguss clung tightly to the inner wall.
“Come away from that window! You might fall out!” she hissed at Edna.
Next to Morguss, Sophie was stumbling around. Captain K stared at her, confused.
“Can’t you feel it moving?” she asked him as she fell to the floor.
“That’s just the rotation of the station,” he said as he helped her up, “You get used to it eventually. It’s better near the centre of the station; you only really notice it out here in the docking bays.”
He looked at Morguss.
“There are fewer windows in the centre of the station as well,” he added.
Captain K led the increasingly grumpier witches to the Recreation Deck, which was dominated by the Grundo Café. Neopets and robots were milling about with each other, shopping and talking. A few mutants lumbered past, and the witches averted their eyes. There weren’t many mutants where they were from... well, not ones that hadn’t been mutated via a witch's curse.
“I’ll go and get Grimilix; he’s really excited to meet you all. Have a look around,” Captain K told them.
He wandered off down a side corridor, leaving the witches alone.
“I can still feel it moving,” Sophie muttered.
“I need to find somewhere to sit down,” Morguss said as she wandered off. “A nice, solid chair.”
Edna’s eyes focused on the platters of food in the Grundo Café.
“Ah, food!” she said happily. “Now you’re talking!”
She wandered off, leaving Sophie alone.
“Great,” Sophie muttered, and made her way around the outside of the level, clinging to the wall.
Edna seated herself in front of a large Grundo chef at the café, and looked expectantly at the food.
“Welcome to the Grundo Café!” the Grundo said to her. “I am Gargarox Isafuhlarg. Can I help you?”
“What’s good?” Edna asked, sniffing the various dishes in front of her.
“Ah, can I recommend the Iceberg Sundae?” he suggested.
“I don’t know, can you?” Edna questioned.
Gargarox moved his mouth to ask a question, but thought better of it and handed over a dish containing a blue substance. Edna tried a spoonful; her teeth almost fell out from the sugar content.
“Lovely,” she forced herself to say, and then, struggling for conversation, added, “So where’s this Sloth character?”
“So, you’re a tourist?” he said.
“How did you know?” Edna asked.
“Only tourists come up here expecting to meet Dr. Sloth and be enslaved,” he explained, “like it’s the only thing you can do on the station.”
“What else is there?” Edna asked, taking another spoonful.
“Well...” Gargarox thought aloud, “we have robots, lots of robots.”
“That’s it?” Edna asked.
“Well, of course there’s lots more...” he trailed off. “Oh! Is that a customer?”
Gargarox disappeared over to the other side of the café to attend to an apparently invisible customer.
Morguss made her way into a small room off the main plaza. The doors slid back into place, and she felt the room move. For a moment, she was tempted to scream, but then she remembered she was a witch, and witches don’t scream. Abruptly, the room stopped moving and the doors opened again. The station had changed.
“Welcome to the Supply Deck,” a friendly voice said out of the walls.
Morguss stepped out of the elevator.
“Moving rooms, talking walls... whatever next?” she grumbled.
Then she caught sight of a sturdy looking chair nearby. She made her way towards it, and sat down.
“Can I help you?” a blue Grundo asked from behind a desk nearby.
“No, just sitting,” Morguss replied.
“Do you want to adopt a Grundo?” the Grundo asked.
“Do I want to what?” Morguss asked.
“Adopt a Grundo; this is the Grundo Adoption Agency,” the Grundo replied.
“Why would I want a Grundo?” Morguss asked.
“They are very cute and loyal as well. All of the young children are in need of homes,” the Grundo told her.
“Are they any good at housework?” Morguss asked.
“Pardon?” the Grundo said.
“My joints aren’t what they used to be; I can’t clean the house as thoroughly as I’d like to anymore,” Morguss explained.
“My good lady, we are not adopting Grundos into slavery!” the Grundo shouted.
Morguss stood up sharply.
“I am not,” she said acidly, “your ‘good lady’.”
There was a brief flash of green light, and where the Grundo had been standing, a Mortog croaked instead.
“Edna must be rubbing off on me,” Morguss muttered as she left the adoption agency.
On the other side of the Supply Deck, Sophie edged her way along the wall, having had a similar encounter as Morguss did with the elevator. There, she found a strange lever attached to the wall. A sign above it read ‘Do not pull’.
“Why have levers in the middle of a public place if no one is supposed to pull them?” Sophie asked herself.
She pulled it anyway. She was a witch after all, what was the worst that could happen?
As soon as she pulled down, a metal hand emerged from the panel, closed itself around Sophie’s hat, and dragged it back into the wall.
“Oh no you don’t!” Sophie bellowed.
She spread her arms wide and cast a spell. The wall exploded in a hail of sparks, revealing a maze of circuitry behind.
“What are you doing?” Edna asked as she came over.
“I heard a noise,” Morguss said nosily as she joined them.
“The... thing stole my hat!” Sophie shouted.
“That’s just not on,” Morguss muttered.
“We’d best go and get it then,” Edna told them.
As one, they climbed through the curtain of wires, into the bowels of the space station.
It has long been considered that a witch without a hat is like a cart without a wheel, or a mountain without a peak; pointless. Of course, it is merely an old wives' tale with no actual bearing in fact; many witches like Morguss never bother with hats and get along just fine. However, to those witches that do wear hats, they are an essential part of the trade. That is why none of the witches bothered to think twice before pursuing the metal hand. It might as well have stolen Sophie’s soul.
Behind the hard metallic sheen of the space station’s corridors, things were considerably harder to navigate. Behind most of the walls there was a thin gap containing wires and circuitry, forming a sort of engineer’s corridor. It wasn’t hard to trace the path the metal hand had taken; a trail of sparking wires was left in its wake.
“What does a robot want with a magic hat?” Edna whispered as the three witches walked along in the darkness.
Morguss lit up her finger with a fire spell.
“Who knows?” Sophie answered, “But when I catch up to it, it is going to regret meeting me.”
The path of the metal hand came to an abrupt stop, as the witches exited the wire corridor into a large chamber, with no doors out of it. A single glass window was placed on the opposite side, looking out to Kreludor and Neopia. In front of the window was a small robot Blumaroo, Sophie’s hat grasped firmly in one paw.
“Right, you, give that back,” Sophie said flatly, holding out her hand.
“Cannot comply,” the robot replied in a computerised voice.
Without even bothering to acknowledge the witches further, it walked jerkily towards the other end of the room. The witches turned to see where it was heading to, and gasped in unison. It was a pile of shining Neopoints, easily into the millions.
“What in the world?” Edna exclaimed.
The robot Blumaroo deposited the magic hat on the pile of money.
“Is this... everything it has stolen?” Morguss asked.
“Well, I am taking my hat back,” Sophie muttered.
She walked over to the pile and picked up her hat, placing it firmly back on her head.
“Invalid action,” the Blumaroo beeped.
Its chest plate fell down, revealing a ray gun inside.
“It’s like that, is it?” Sophie asked.
She pointed her finger at the robot, and it exploded before it could fire. Pieces of casing scattered all over the room.
“What’s all this noise?” a voice asked from the wire corridor.
A second later, Captain K emerged from the shadows. A small figure stood behind him, a grey skinned Grundo who kept looking around nervously.
“A robot stole my hat,” Sophie told him.
“I don’t recognise this room,” the Grundo said as he stepped out from behind Captain K, “It isn’t on the original plans.”
He trotted forward and picked up a piece of the charred Blumaroo casing.
“A CRM-114?” the Grundo said while looking at the casing, “But I haven’t seen one of these used since...”
“This is Grimilix, the programmer I wanted you to meet,” Captain K informed them.
“Just why do you have a machine to steal money?” Morguss demanded, poking Grimilix in the belly.
The little Grundo fell backwards.
“I... I didn’t design the Lever of Doom,” the Grundo stuttered. “It’s an old feature that was installed by an ex-programmer; the CRM-114 was also one of his models. I knew it stole people’s money, but we always assumed the funds were donated to the Virtupets bank account.”
“You mean to Dr. Sloth,” Captain K added critically.
“Yes, naturally... though it appears this CRM-114 has been hoarding the funds here,” Grimilix said, staring at the casing, “Why would he design something to do this?”
“Just what are you talking about?” Edna asked abruptly.
“He was a programmer here until soon after Dr. Sloth was deposed, then he left for Kreludor. The Lever of Doom was one of the last things he installed,” Grimilix explained.
“Kreludor...” Sophie muttered, staring out of the window.
“Yes, the moon,” Grimilix confirmed.
“No,” Sophie told him, “Look, look at Kreludor.”
The gathered Neopets turned to look out of the window. On the dark side of Kreludor, something was glowing bright yellow.
“That’s not right; there’s no installations on that side of the moon,” Captain K told them, approaching the window.
The point of light intensified.
“It looks like a beam weapon,” Grimilix said wearily.
“We have to get out of here,” Captain K said, turning back to the access corridor.
“Too late,” Morguss said behind him.
A beam of light shot out from Kreludor, heading directly for the space station. It ripped straight through some of the higher levels. This time, Sophie wasn’t the only one who felt the space station move.
To be continued...