Witches Further Abroad: Part Six
Consider the escape pod rocketing away from Kreludor. It doesn’t have much fuel left, but it has more than it will need to return to the space station. Inside, Rylon smiles to his black Wain; the plan has gone exceedingly well. Soon he will be in a position to wreak true vengeance on the people of Kreludor.
“Found one. There’s a cargo ship in docking bay three,” Grimilix told Zarex and Captain K.
“Let’s go; there’s no time to waste,” Zarex said importantly.
He led the other two out of the room and down the newly bright lit corridor. As he turned the corner, he ran into the witches and Zenglod.
“What are you doing?” Morguss asked. “Charging about like that...”
“Rylon has left the moon base. He’s taking a ship to the space station,” Zarex told them.
“The command centre has been gassed, sir,” Zenglod said, saluting.
“The Emergency Override has full access to the base’s systems,” he told Zenglod. “Start repairs, and get the next shift in here.”
“Are you going after him, sir?” Zenglod asked.
“He needs to be stopped before he causes any more damage,” Zarex replied. “You are in command until I get back.”
With that, he ran down the corridor. Grimilix followed him, and then Captain K.
“Are you coming, ladies?” the Captain asked the witches as he passed.
The witches exchanged looks.
“We don’t have any other way off this rock,” Sophie admitted.
The Captain smiled brightly and ran off after Grimilix.
“There’d better not be any space fungi funguses,” Edna muttered as the witches trudged along in his wake.
The cargo ship was unbelievably cramped; the witches were packed in like sardines in an incredibly small cargo ship.
“The station is still depressurised,” Grimilix said as the damaged space station came into view, “We’ll need space suits.”
“My armour acts as a space suit,” Zarex told him.
“Mine too,” Captain K added.
Grimilix looked at the witches.
“Do you have any in black?” they asked in unison.
As it turned out, there were none in black. For some reason, white seems to be the stock colour of generic space suits everywhere. The witches changed with a great deal of complaining behind a pile of crates, and emerged looking very uncomfortable a few minutes later. Edna and Sophie were both wearing their hats on top of the helmets.
“If any of you even think about sniggering,” Edna threatened, “you can look forward to being a Mortog for the rest of your days.”
“We’re coming up on the airlock,” Zarex said from the cockpit.
The cargo ship slowed, and came to a rest next to the station’s airlock. There was a metallic clunking noise, and the ship rocked briefly.
“Let’s go. Be on your guard,” Zarex said.
Both he and Captain K drew their weapons as the airlock doors slid open, revealing the station inside. There was no air on that level; they had to rely on the oxygen inside the space suits from then on.
“Do you have any idea where Rylon might be?” Zarex asked Grimilix.
“If you get me to an information terminal,” the little Grundo replied from inside his space suit, “I can tell you.”
Down the corridor, a robot on wheels skidded by.
“The repair robots have been activated; the station’s automatic systems have taken over. Repairs should be complete soon,” Grimilix said, “Ah, here we are!”
He approached a glass panel in the wall that lit up when he touched it. He began to tap it, and a map of the space station appeared. There were several red dots on it.
“He’s on level 7, here,” Grimilix said, pointing to a red dot on its own.
“Level 7... He’s on the Supply Deck?” Captain K asked.
“Maybe he wanted to adopt a Grundo,” Edna suggested.
“We need to go down two levels,” Grimilix told them.
“Is the lift still working?” Sophie asked.
“Probably, follow me,” Grimilix replied as he walked off down the corridor.
Grimilix led them back to the elevator shaft that they had used when they escaped the station. The doors were shut. Grimilix stepped forward and tapped the panel on the wall, it didn’t respond.
“It’s been disabled,” he told them.
“Looks like we’ll have to climb down,” Captain K said, “Ladies, would you mind?”
He gestured towards the doors. Morguss sighed and flicked her fingers towards the door. They slid back effortlessly, revealing the elevator shaft within.
“I’m not climbing down that,” Morguss said sharply.
“It’s the only way down,” Zarex said as he lowered a rope down the hole.
“Well then, no looking!” she shouted, as she grabbed the rope and lowered herself down.
“Likewise,” Edna snapped as she went next.
“Most un-witch like,” Sophie muttered as she followed Edna.
Slightly bewildered, Grimilix, Captain K and Zarex followed.
Morguss was feeling slightly embarrassed when she reached level 7, so she didn’t bother carefully sliding the doors open with magic. She blasted them open with a fire ball instead, and let out a brief cackle to make herself feel better.
The witches stepped carefully through the debris, magic tingling ready at their figures. Captain K and Zarex had their ray guns armed and even Grimilix seemed to be wearing a determined face. The Supply Deck was quiet; a few robots were skating about here and there seeing to repairs.
“He’s not here,” Sophie said eventually.
Grimilix trotted over to a nearby panel and brought up the map again.
“He’s definitely on this floor,” he said, “Somewhere in that direction.”
He pointed over to the armour shop.
“Inside the wall,” he added.
“The secret room,” Edna said.
“From the Lever of Doom?” Captain K asked.
“It seems to be the right area,” Grimilix said, turning off the map panel.
“I see,” Sophie said as she pulled her hat tight over her helmet.
“You see what?” Zarex asked.
“It’s about money,” she replied as she marched off towards the hole in the wall, “Why is it always about money?”
Rylon opened the large sack and began scooping in the Neopoints. Nearby, his Wain skidded down the pile like a ski slope. Rylon wouldn’t be able to take all of the money, but he’d have enough to tide him over, to begin his plans.
Out of the darkness of the engineer’s corridors the witches and the spacemen emerged. All of them were braced for combat. Rylon sighed.
“I wondered how long it would take...” he muttered, “I assumed the airlock in the moon base would take you longer to get open.”
“Then you underestimated us,” Zarex snarled, stepping forward.
His ray gun’s sight was trained on Rylon’s head; it wasn’t shaking.
“Underestimated?” Rylon laughed. “You are a retired second rate officer in the Kreludor military... You are hardly worth estimating at all. Of course, I knew Captain K would come, and probably Grimilix as well, but between all three of you there isn’t much common sense to go around.”
“What do you mean?” Captain K asked, coming side to side with Zarex.
“Do you really think I would sit here, unarmed? Knowing full well that you were after me?” Rylon asked. “Your ray guns cannot harm me,” he added.
“We’ll see about that,” Zarex replied.
He squeezed the trigger, but nothing happened. Rylon smiled, and got up. He walked over to the window.
“You see, before I left the station, I could see which way the wind was blowing,” he said, “I knew Dr. Sloth would be deposed, but more importantly I knew he would return.”
He turned back to his visitors.
“So I installed the Lever of Doom, a secret project to gather funds for the great doctor’s return. Of course, I was captured on Kreludor, and blasted into deep space... during that time I reached a conclusion. Why did Neopia have to be Dr. Sloth’s? Why couldn’t it be mine?”
The black Wain danced happily atop the Neopoints.
“This room is equipped with dampening technology; only ray guns calibrated to a specific frequency work in here,” Rylon explained.
He clicked his fingers, and panels slid down in the walls. Three robotic Sloth clones walked out, each holding guns.
“I can assure you, these guns will work, so don’t try anything,” Rylon threatened. “With this money I shall create an army on the surface of Neopia, and make it my own.”
He returned to his sack and began shovelling coins inside again.
“Ahem,” Sophie said from the doorway.
The three witches stepped forward as one.
“Ah, you brought three old crones with you, how lovely,” Rylon said mockingly, still dealing with his money.
“No,” Sophie replied with menace, “they brought witches.”
“And witches don’t carry ray guns,” Edna added. “We carry magic.”
“And magic,” Morguss snarled, “can do this.”
Each witch raised a hand and shot out a fire ball which collided with a Sloth clone. The three robots exploded in hails of sparks and smoke. At the Neopoint pile, Rylon’s face fell.
“You know what I haven’t done in a while?” Edna asked rhetorically, “Turned someone into a Mortog.”
A grin spread across her face. A cackle brewed in her throat. A spell tingled in the air. A moment later, a Mortog sat where Rylon had been; the black Wain looked at it curiously.
“I think these Neopoints should cover the cost of repairs to the station and the moon base,” Sophie told Grimilix.
“Thank you for the trip out,” Edna said to Zarex.
“But we would like to go home now,” Morguss told Captain K.
“I’ve had quite enough of foreign parts,” she added in a whisper to Edna and Sophie.