Witches Further Abroad: Part Three
Consider an evil grin; consider the figure on the dark side of Kreludor wearing it.
He walks quickly away from the beam weapon as soon as it discharges. He doesn’t even bother to look up into space; he knows the space station is already spinning wildly out of control. His black Wain hops effortlessly onto his shoulder in the low gravity as the figure walks purposefully away.
He had needed privacy to build his weapon; now he needs to be in public, but to be in a disguise. Most importantly, he needs to get away from the beam weapon as soon as he can.
“Halt,” the mechanical sound of a robot Grundo greets him as he reaches the moon base.
It is a sentry robot, one of dozens the Kreludor settlers deployed to keep their moon base safe after Dr. Sloth’s attempted invasion.
The figure doesn’t bother with pleasantries. He draws a ray gun and fires a single shot. Electricity courses through the Grundo and its circuits are disabled. It falls to the floor in a crumpled heap.
As the black Wain watches on from a nearby rock, the figure carefully prises off the robot’s casing, and slowly applies it to himself. It is the disguise he needs; the fools won’t even see him coming. Not until it is far too late.
The space station rocked with the force of the impact. The lights in the chamber blinked off for a second, before returning in hues of red. From unseen speakers sirens began to wail, deafening the witches for a moment.
“What’s all this racket about?” Morguss shouted over the din, covering her ears.
“It must have breached the station’s hull,” Grimilix told them. “It’s depressurised the station; we need to evacuate!”
“The escape pods?” Captain K asked.
“Right, sorry about this, ladies, but I shall have to ask you to follow me!” the Captain told the witches.
He led them back through the maze of wires in the maintenance access corridors to the panel where the lever of doom had been. On the Supply Deck, people were running about screaming.
“The nearest pods are on level 9,” Grimilix said from behind the witches.
“Up two levels,” Captain K muttered.
“What’s the matter? Let’s get going!” Sophie shouted.
“You don’t understand...” Grimilix told her, “In the event of a hull breach, all levels are sealed off from each other in order to contain the damage. There is no way to get up there. Besides, level 9 might be where the beam hit; we might walk out of the elevator and get swept off in the vacuum of space.”
“Let me get this straight,” Morguss said, pointing an accusing finger at Grimilix. “In the event of a large metal box in space getting a hole in it, you decided it would be a good idea to trap people in smaller metal boxes with no way of escaping?”
“Well, not quite like that... but yes,” Grimilix admitted, “But it’s only a short term solution. The plan is that sealing off the levels keeps people safe until the Defenders of Neopia arrive.”
“Which Defenders would these be?” Sophie asked.
“Oh, when we thought out the evacuation plan, we assumed they would send Captain... K,” Grimilix said, turning to the Captain.
“Great,” Captain K replied, “So you’ve trapped your rescuer in the bowels of the station. It’s a wonder Sloth ever got any work done here with you people helping him.”
“There’s no need to criticise our work. The plan was flawless,” Grimilix muttered.
“On paper,” Captain K added.
“On paper,” Grimilix echoed.
The crowds that had been running around had now settled down, and were watching the argument. Most of them were Grundos working in the station, but a few were tourists. You could tell which ones; they were wearing lurid colours and smiling as if it was a theme park ride.
“Right,” Edna said, turning to face the crowd. “We are getting out of this metal coffin. Follow me.”
She led them down the corridor to the large metal elevator that connected all of the floors. She pressed the button to call it to their floor, but there was no response.
“It’s no good,” Grimilix said quietly. “The lift doors act as bulkheads. They won’t open. I did tell you.”
“We’ll see about that,” Morguss said, barging her way through the crowds.
She rolled up her sleeves, and launched a fireball at the lift doors. They buckled under the force, and fell inwards with a clatter.
“Everyone get in!” Edna shouted.
“That was very irresponsible,” Grimilix muttered. “Not only was it destruction of property, but we could have all been sucked out into space.”
His complaints were lost as the thirty or so residents of the Supply Deck piled into the small elevator, causing the witches to be squashed against the back wall. Grimilix disappeared underneath several large mutants.
“Whoever has their elbow jammed in my hip can either remove it or lose an arm,” Sophie growled in a muffled voice.
A muffled noise came from under the mutant Grundos.
“Have you got indigestion?” Edna asked, raising an eyebrow at the Grundo.
“Oh, sorry!” he replied, and moved his foot.
Grimilix appeared, gasping for breath.
“I said, Captain K, could you press the button for level 9?” Grimilix asked.
The Kacheek near the door nodded and pressed the big button with the number 9 on it. The elevator slid upwards, making a groaning noise from the weight it was carrying. Several people would have fallen over with the sudden movement, but they were packed in so tight that it was impossible.
The elevator came to an abrupt halt, and the undamaged doors of level 9 slid open. At once, it was like there was a dreadful wind, sucking the occupants out into the corridor with the force of a hurricane. Everyone who could grabbed onto a nearby pipe or wall. Everyone was lifted off their feet, including the larger Grundos.
“It’s a hull breach!” Grimilix yelled over the din, desperately trying to grab onto something solid.
“I’ll deal with this,” Sophie shouted back as she slid down the corridor.
She extended a hand towards the corridor, and at once the wind died down. Several people fell from mid air to the floor.
“Magic bubble,” Morguss muttered. “Wouldn’t have thought of that.”
Captain K walked down the corridor, and poked a thin, almost see-through barrier that had appeared. It wobbled slightly. Beyond the barrier things were still being sucked out into space.
“Magic?” he asked.
“Of course,” Sophie said proudly. “I summoned an impenetrable bubble to contain us.”
“Very impressive,” Grimilix said as he ran forward and tested the bubble barrier. “With magic like this we’d have no need for metal bulkheads. Magical barriers could just be summoned... why; with these we wouldn’t even need windows on the station anymore!”
“Oh no, I’d prefer glass, thank you,” Morguss said from the back of the crowd as she dusted herself off.
“Still, the escape pods are on the other side of this barrier,” Grimilix told them.
“You could have told me before I cast the spell,” she groaned. “How far?”
“Just round that corner,” Grimilix informed her.
Sophie extended her hand and tried the spell again; the magic bubble slid back to behind the corner. The crowd advanced, reaching the doors to the escape pods. At the end of the corridor, the damage caused by the Kreludor weapon could be seen. It had ripped clean through the entire level; bits of pipe and other debris were flying out into the void of space.
“Everyone, get in the escape pods,” Captain K ordered, dividing the crowd up so they would all fit.
Once they were all in, Morguss, Sophie, Edna, Grimilix and Captain K boarded the final pod.
“Something about this isn’t right,” Grimilix worried as the small pod detached itself from the station and blasted away.
“What do you mean?” Sophie asked.
“The shield systems for the space station were designed by Dr. Sloth himself,” Grimilix told her. “He made sure that they were completely resistant to all of his weapons. They should have held; they were an example of some of his finest work.”
“So?” Morguss said. “Someone just fired a different weapon, or a stronger one.”
“No, you don’t understand,” Grimilix corrected her. “All of the laser beam weapons we have today come from Virtupets brand prototypes; they were all developed by Sloth. He oversaw all of the development projects. He knew about all of the weapons. Nothing Kreludor has should have been able to cut through the station like that.”
“Well, we shall soon find out what it was,” Captain K said, staring out the pod’s front screen.
“Why?” Edna asked.
“I set the other escape pods to go back down to the safety of Neopia,” the Captain explained, “but this one is heading for Kreludor. We are going to find out who is behind this and bring them to justice.”
“Thanks for volunteering us,” Morguss muttered.
“I am sorry,” Captain K told her.
Sophie looked back at the station, from the lower levels other escape pods were leaving.
“Will the station be alright?” she asked.
“Oh yes,” Grimilix told her, “Once the station’s sensors register that all organic life has left, they open all the bulkheads and depressurise the entire place. Then automatic repair robots are released to patch up damaged sections. She’ll be up and running again in no time. That’s another one of Dr. Sloth’s ideas; it meant the space station could repair itself while he was out conquering more of the universe.”
All eyes drifted back to the front of the craft, and through the view screen, to the looming mass of Kreludor. Something there was wrong; someone had fired a weapon that shouldn’t exist. The Witches were going to find out just who it was. In all likelihood, they’d turn him into a Mortog as punishment.
To be continued...