Witches Further Abroad: Part Five
Consider the black Wain. Watch as it pads along the air vent, tripping silent alarms that no guards will heed. See as it drops into a small room filled with blinking controls. It traces out the path its master taught it, and jumps firmly on a button. The lights go out, and are replaced a second later by dim emergency lights. The Wain jumps on another button and the door to the room slides open as it is unlocked.
The figure, Rylon, steps into the room, and sheds his robot Grundo disguise. He scoops up the small Wain.
“Good job,” he whispers, and then sits down in a chair.
He begins pressing buttons. From here he can control the entire moon base. The fools let him walk straight in.
Now he needs to get back to the station.
The figures on the dark side of the moon broke into a run within a moment of Sophie finishing her sentence. Zarex and Grimilix instantly understood what Rylon would be capable of if he had unrestricted access to the moon base’s systems. It took a moment or two longer for the situation to sink in for Sophie and Captain K, but they were in pursuit soon enough. Sophie soon grasped just how much the gravity on Kreludor differed from that of Neopia; she was bouncing all over the place, and fell straight on her face on several occasions.
“Are you alright?” Captain K asked, slowing down to help Sophie up.
“I miss being heavy,” Sophie complained as she got to her feet.
Grimilix and Zarex were already in the distance.
“Why did the lights go out just then?” Morguss asked.
“I don’t know, maybe they had a power cut?” Edna considered.
The two witches were stood outside the locked toilet, staring up and down the corridor in the glow of the emergency lighting.
“These lights aren’t as bright as they used to be,” Morguss complained.
“Bad workmanship, that is,” Edna replied. “That’s what you get in foreign parts.”
“Think we should go and tell those people in the big room we caught the bad guy?” Morguss asked.
“Might as well; we can tell them to turn the lights on while we’re at it,” Edna agreed.
The two witches made their way down the darkened corridors to the control room. When they got there, the door didn’t slide open like it did the first time. Morguss knocked on it.
“That’s the problem with technology; it always breaks down. Give me a good doorknob any day,” Edna said.
Morguss nodded, and knocked politely on the door.
“Two witches,” she announced. “We want to come in.”
There was silence from the other side.
“Rudeness, that is,” Morguss muttered.
“Well, if that doesn’t just take the biscuit!” Edna said loudly. “We go and catch a criminal and there’s no one about to congratulate us. We’d best go and tell that Zarex bloke; I bet he’ll be chuffed.”
“To the airlock,” she agreed.
Grimilix was smaller and wasn’t weighed down by as much armour as Zarex, so he reached the moon base first. He banged on the panel next to the transparent door, but nothing happened. Through the other side of the airlock, he could see Morguss and Edna.
“You’ve got the wrong man!” he shouted at them.
“He seems very excited about something,” Morguss said on the other side.
“You’ve got the wrong man!” Grimilix repeated, bellowing at the top of his voice.
“Strange fellow, isn’t he?” Edna cackled.
Zarex reached the airlock.
“It’s no good,” he gasped. “The airlock is soundproofed; they can’t hear you.”
“We’re locked out,” Grimilix told him.
“We need to get in there. Try sign language,” Zarex suggested.
What followed was arguably the most feverish attempt at a game of charades in history.
“What’s he doing?” Edna asked.
“Think it’s a game; we have to guess what he’s saying,” Morguss replied.
Grimilix mouthed the word ‘You’ve’ and pointed at the witches.
“He’s pointing at the door,” Edna observed.
“The first word is ‘door’ then,” Morguss told her.
Next Grimilix pointed to his hand.
“His hand,” Edna said.
“I bet it sounds like hand,” Morguss added, “Probably ‘handle’.”
Grimilix shook his finger.
“We shouldn’t do something,” Edna said.
Finally, Grimilix pointed to himself and shouted, “You’ve got the wrong man!”
“So he’s trying to say ‘The door handle doesn’t work for him’?” Edna asked.
“No wonder, it must be rubbish technology 'round here if even the programmers can’t fix it,” Morguss replied.
Outside, Grimilix sighed.
Sophie and Captain K reached them a few minutes later.
“What are you all standing outside for?” Sophie asked Zarex and Grimilix.
“Rylon must have locked the door systems; we can’t get in, and we can’t tell your friends what is happening,” Zarex told her.
“Good job you have a witch with you then,” she replied. “A locked door never stopped me before.”
With the briefest of flicks of her hand, the airlock was ripped away from the wall and deposited in a crater some distance away.
“Well, that’s a new approach,” Captain K chuckled.
“Right, we need to get to the emergency override room; that’s where Rylon will be,” Zarex said, marching through the debris of the airlock.
“What’s all this about?” Morguss asked as the group traipsed past.
“We got the wrong Wain,” Sophie admitted. “We’d best go let Zenglod out.”
The witches made their way along the red lit corridors back to the toilet. They could hear the banging long before they arrived, Zenglod was awake.
“Help me!” he yelled as he heard the footsteps approaching.
“Where did you get a pipe from?” Sophie asked.
“Don’t ask,” Edna muttered as she slid the pipe away from the handle.
The door burst open, and Zenglod fell out of the toilet, his blue Wain landing neatly on his back.
“You!” he yelled as he caught sight of Edna.
“No, her,” she said, pointing to Morguss.
“Yes, yes, we’ll have time for twenty questions later,” Sophie said as she helped Zenglod up, “Zarex says you need to get back to the control room and activate emergency protocol twelve.”
“Twelve?” Zenglod questioned. “There is a security breach?”
Sophie nodded expectantly.
“Then there is no time to lose; follow me!” he said importantly.
He rushed off down the corridor, the witches in tow. Soon they came to the control room door, it was still shut fast. Zenglod banged on the metal.
“We tried that before. There’s no one in,” Morguss said helpfully.
“There are always at least four people in the control centre; that’s the regulations,” Zenglod told her. “Where are they?”
“Stand back,” Sophie said as she rolled up her sleeves. “I’ll soon get you in there.”
A moment later, the metal door was ripped away from the frame and deposited inside the room. Zenglod and the witches gingerly walked inside.
“You like using that spell, don’t you?” Morguss said to Sophie.
“It gets the job done,” she replied sharply.
“Oh my!” Zenglod gasped as he looked around.
The witches followed his gaze. All around the room, the bodies of Neopets were lying sprawled on the floor. They were the ones in uniform that had been there when the witches had left. Zenglod rushed over and checked the nearest one.
“Dead?” he muttered.
Edna sniffed the air.
“Gas?” she questioned.
Zenglod smelt the air, and then took out a small handkerchief which he placed over his mouth.
“Deadly, most likely,” he told the witches. “We need to get out of here.”
He rushed over to a nearby control panel and pressed a few buttons. The words “Emergency Protocol 12 Activated” appeared on the screen.
“Let’s go and find this Rylon,” Edna said as the four of them exited the room, “Murder doesn’t sit right with me.”
Zarex led the way to the Emergency Override Room, Grimilix and Captain K following him. It was clear to see why Zarex was in command; he knew the moon base like the back of his hand, if not better.
The Override Room was a small room on the other side of the moon base to the command centre. It was clear something was wrong from the moment they arrived, the room was wide open. Blue light poured out from the many monitors into the corridor. Zarex drew his ray gun and pinned himself to the wall, slowly edging towards the open doorway. Captain K mirrored him, producing a pristine ray gun. Grimilix waited at the end of the corridor, quivering nervously.
When he was close enough to the door, Zarex leapt out and yelled, “Freeze!”
There was a moment’s hesitation before he lowered his weapon.
“He’s gone,” he muttered.
Grimilix ran forward into the room. There was a note attached to one of the screens.
“It says, ‘So long, suckers!’” he told them.
“Look here,” Captain K said, staring at one of the screens. “One of the airlocks has been reactivated, and a ship has left the base.”
“I think I can get the systems back online,” Grimilix said as he hastily began typing into the various keyboards.
“Where’s he heading?” Zarex thought to himself.
“Perhaps he’s heading down to Neopia?” Captain K suggested.
“He’s added a password to the system,” Grimilix said sadly.
“If Zenglod actives the emergency protocol, it should reset the system and remove it,” Zarex told him.
As if on cue, the lights and monitors blinked off for a few moments, plunging them into darkness. The main lights returned a moment later, and the monitors turned back on.
“The system has rebooted, I have access to everything now,” Grimilix told them.
“What ship did he take?” Zarex asked him.
“The escape pod we arrived in,” Grimilix read off the screen. “I can track it using the sensors if you want.”
Grimilix tapped a few buttons and switched to a different monitor.
“The sensors say he’s heading to the space station,” he told them.
“Find us a ship,” Zarex told the small Grundo. “We’re going after him.”
To be continued...