An Adventure With Ackington
Brief pulses of electricity danced between the synapses, barely providing any light to fill the room. The air was thin and freezing, and it felt like every movement, every word, every thought filled the silence. In a way, it was beautiful.
Of course, the steel table in the center of the room, along with a massive laser built of rusty scrap metal and frayed wires did something to tarnish the tranquility of the room. Ah well. It wasn’t like she was any better at interior design. “Hey, Mister Mad Scientist.”
The mad scientist in question was hunched over the lab ray, lips drawn and eyebrows furrowed in concentration as he tried connecting a broken wire back together. He hooked the two ends together and yelped as the electric jolt shot through his fingers and he fell from his stepladder and onto the ground. It was then he noticed her. “Ah, Locria! Excellent timing!” The Scorchio jumped back to his feet, chuckling under his breath as he stumbled towards her. “Has the Skeith considered my offer to zap him?”
“Uiuuh? Well... no, he hasn’t.” As he approached, she instinctively moved a hand over the messenger bag at her side. “We just came here to get a petpet for you to zap. He’ll be right here—”
“I’m here.” The mutant Skeith slipped into the room, a caged Mallard in a cage it was carrying. As soon as it entered the room, the Mallard erupted into quacks and Wocky-esque wails, and the Skeith winced. “Can we get this over with?”
“Yes, yes, yes!” He took the petpet from the Skeith, releasing it from its cage and taking it over to the table. “Will you two watch? I’ve been making some adjustments to this, and I want to see if it’ll work!”
“Adjustments?” Uiuuh’s ears perked up in curiosity. “What kind of adjustments?”
“...All right.” He looked up to Locria skeptically. “You wanna stay here, Locria?”
She shrugged, rubbing at her baggy eyes and brushing away frizzy hair. “Well, we bought the petpet, so...”
“So we have some sort of obligation?” The Skeith shrugged and sat down, resting his head on his arms.
“Hey, it’s not like we have anything better to do. Anyway, it looks like he’s starting now.”
The scientist, who had been busy trying to pin down the Mallard to the table, looked up at his guests. “Just some minor technical difficulties, kids! Hey, Skeith—come here and help me out here!”
“Hey! Why can’t she?” He glared up at her.
“You’re a neopet! At least the ray will work on you—what do you think it’ll do to me?”
“Well, we’ll just have to find out, then! Besides, you can just use some super magic spell or whatever and protect yourself from harm!”
“No, I can’t,” she mumbled. “I got kicked out—remember?”
“It’s not like they’ll notice anything! It’s a secret laboratory! Secret!”
“Will you make up your mind?” the scientist snapped, holding the Mallard to his chest. Locria kicked Uiuuh in the back and he looked back at her as he sullenly walked up to the table. She knew that at some point or another he would get vengeance—but that was a matter for another day.
He clamped his hands around the Mallard and stuck it directly under the ray, squeezed his eyes shut and ducked under the table. The scientist clapped his hands in glee, scurrying up to the control panel. He quickly tapped some things on the keyboard and made some final tweaks to the lab ray, before putting his finger on a red impossible-to-not-touch button. “All right! Very good, very good! We just push this button in a three, two, one...”
Uiuuh winced and tensed. The scientist pushed the button, and a massive yellow and black bolt of light shot down onto the pet and petpet, electrocuting them both. Uiuuh released the Mallard and rolled back, roaring in pain as he rolled around on the ground and smacked into the wall, and then proceeded to roll back to the other side. Meanwhile, the Mallard received the brunt of the shock and seemed to glow with the light.
By the time the zapping was finished, the Mallard was lying back on the table, and Uiuuh still rolled back and forth, though he was no longer screaming in pain.
“Hey, Uiuuh...” Locria approached the rolling Skeith. “You okay?”
“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine,” he sighed, still rolling. “It’s kind of fun doing this.”
“Get up, Uiuuh. We have to check out the petpet.”
“Fine, fine...” He pushed himself back on his feet. “Woo, I feel dizzy... Locria, you owe me one.”
Locria remained silent and looked over the Mallard with the scientist. The Mallard glared back up at them, and sat up. “What—what is the meaning of this?” The Mallard looked around the room, ruffling its feathers. “Why are you looking at me like that?”
“Inconceivable!” The scientist murmured in awe, checking his settings. “A sentient petpet, of all things—perhaps it is a result of the Skeith holding the Mallard?”
“You, the one with the potbelly—you are my faithful steed!”
“I’m already not liking this...” Uiuuh grumbled, staring at the ground.
“Uh, little Mallard...?” Locria hesitated. “Do you... do you have a name?”
“A name? A name? I... I am the great and villainous Ackington!”
“I should have expected no less from a handmaiden! Idiocy! Insubordination! I hiss at you! Hiss! Hiss! Hiss!”
“This thing isn’t serious, right?” Uiuuh looked at Locria desperately.
“It’s your fault if he is!”
“Oh, now you’re just being—”
“Silence, both of you!” the Mallard snapped, jumping down onto Uiuuh’s back. “Come, we must be off!”
“Off? Off where?”
“Oh, you bumbling idiots! We’re going to conquer the world!”
Uiuuh snorted. “Well, this is one way to go down in history... I can see the headlines now—three idiots join the rest of the miserable failures that can’t conquer Neopia!”
“Silence, potbelly! We must form our plans immediately!”
“Oh, give me a break...”
The new steed walked out, unable to shake the Mallard from his back. Locria looked on for a while and back at the scientist, who was back in his own little world. She sighed, tugged the ratty sweater closer around her, and walked off. “At the very least,” she sighed to herself, “this should be a very interesting experience.”
* * *
Locria sat on a bench in the park, drumming her fingers against the railing and watching pets come and go. She felt a bit awkward, seeing how even as she sat she still towered over the other neopets. A few young pets sitting at a picnic table were watching at her, and she bowed her head and played with the stitches on her sweater. At some point or another, the sweater had a hole torn in the shoulder, but she forgot how.
Uiuuh returned sulking and carrying a bag of food, Ackington on his shoulder quacking and muttering his plans to the Skeith. “Here,” he murmured, handing her a sandwich as he sat beside her on the bench. The Mallard hopped between them, eyeing them both.
“All right,” he said. “This is my genius plan—we are going to sack Faerieland!”
“Faerieland?” Locria said, growing pale. “Why there?”
“Fool! That is where the queen lives! If we conquer that land, then we will have easy access to every other land! Victory is at hand!”
“If it’s such a genius plan, maybe you can explain to us how do we’re going to do it?” Uiuuh said tersely.
“Potbelly, it is a simple matter of using our resources wisely. You see, here is how it all works: first, we get our outfits.”
“Outfits? Aw, come on!”
“Every villain has a cool outfit,” Locria mused.
“Precisely, my handmaiden! Firstly, we get outfits—black, with lots of studs and belts.”
“You can’t even wear an outfit!”
“I’m not finished yet! We must cut off our enemy’s resources in order to psychologically weaken them! When they are crippled, we go in for the finishing blow!”
“Okay.” Uiuuh leaned back, popping a sandwich in his mouth. “Okay. Let’s say this plan is foolproof. Let’s say that somehow, we can get this all together and win. How do we get there? All we have are fifty neopoints and a trumpet of blasting, for crying out loud!”
“Ha! We use the resources available to us—the Thrift Shoppe and the Money Tree!”
Uiuuh blinked. “The Money Tree?” He fell onto his side, laughing helplessly. “I can see us now—menacing villains, decked out in black, studs, rivets and belts, scrambling around the Money Tree, surrounded by sunshine, rainbows and flowers!”
“I wonder if any other villains started off this way,” Locria murmured before turning to the petpet beside her. “Anyway, we could probably scrounge up the neopoints to get all of the things you wanted, but I doubt that we could just cut off the resources going to Faerieland. We could play games all day and never see the amount we need to buy everything from the stores.”
“Well, my handmaiden, we just use our powers that we have all been blessed with.”
“Shut up, my potbellied steed!” The villainous Mallard turned back to Locria. “Do you see what I’m saying?”
“No, not at all.”
“Oh, you silly little girl! Gossip! Spread rumors! Persuasion! It’s so simple, it’s painful to think that you can’t see it!”
“Rumors? What are you...?”
“All right, let’s start at the beginning—first, what sort of resources does Faerieland need?”
“Well...” She leaned back, tugging the hood of her sweater over her head. “When I was still living in Faerieland, I know that Fyora really liked tea and coffee—said she couldn’t go a day without a cup of earl grey.”
“Then we start spreading rumors! Something about Earl Grey tea being retired, or even that the coffee shop is being shut down. Every neopian will be rushing to the coffee shop in order to buy the last of the tea, thus preventing Faerieland from ever getting their hands on it! Faerieland will fall apart!”
“...You know, that’s actually not such a bad idea.”
“You can’t be serious!” Uiuuh jumped back up. “You’re actually listening to this thing?”
“Well, why not?” she mumbled wearily. “It’s better than spending the day doing nothing. At the very least, it’ll be an interesting homecoming.”
“Anything is better than this! Anything! I’d rather let that mad scientist zap me a thousand times than go through with this!”
“Well, if you don’t want to get involved, you don’t have to.”
He looked at her for a little while and snorted quietly. The mutant looked down and gave a defeated sigh. “Well, seeing as how I’m the only one who has their head in the right place, I might as well supervise.”
“If you two are ready, then we might as well be off!” Ackington jumped back onto Uiuuh’s shoulder. Uiuuh sighed and crawled back to the ground, and Locria silently followed. The Mallard quacked diabolically. “To the Thrift Shoppe, my minions!”
* * *
It was another bright, blissful and sunshiney morning in Faerieland. The buildings were all painted in soft purples, yellows, pinks and greens, and everything was padded with rubber or clouds to make sure nobody fell and hurt themselves (except for the one dark purple cloud in the corner, where a neopet was thrown off the edge of every once in a while, followed by a bout of maniacal laughter, but nobody else seemed to notice it).
“I swear, this must be the most benign place I have ever visited,” Locria sighed, hands in the pocket of her sweater.
“If we didn’t know any better, I’d say this’d be a piece of cake.” Uiuuh looked at the cloud below him. “You think I can eat this cloud?”
“Hush, both of you!” Their new leader was dressed in his requested outfit of black leather with rivets, studs and belts. Uiuuh couldn’t fit into any of the outfits, along with the fact that the spikes on his back tore into all of the clothes he tried on, and Locria was just happy with her usual outfit.
Ackington sat in front of the megaphone that was set up in front of him. “Is the trumpet of blasting ready?”
“Yeah, I have it right here.” Uiuuh held up the weapon in question.
“Good! Now, give me a moment to compose myself, and...” He cleared his throat, and then began.
“Citizens of Faerieland! Your hour of reckoning has come! Starting today, I, the great and vile Ackington will dominate your land! We have control over your tea resources!” (Uiuuh muttered, “More like the restockers have control over them...”) “You stand no chance against us! Surrender now or suffer the consequences!”
“All your base are belong to us!” Uiuuh shouted, receiving a prompt smack in the head from Locria.
“Ahahahaha!” Ackington quackled before backing away and waiting for a reaction. A rotten boot was chucked at them, followed by a cry of “Some of us are trying to sleep!” Beyond that, nothing.
“Hah! They do not take us seriously!” Ackington grumbled. “Come! Bring the trumpet of blasting!”
Uiuuh approached the megaphone, trumpet in hand. “I’m not sure about this, but...” He shrugged. With that, he lifted the trumpet to his lips and blew. An utterly horrendous sound echoed through the city, most likely awakening all sleeping inhabitants with a start, and sending all of the innocent little Miamice scurrying away for cover. “...You honestly think this’ll do it?”
“Depends on Fyora’s mood.” Locria rummaged through her bag, pulling out a third of an omelette. “Oh, I was wondering where I put that. Anyway, what do we do now?”
“We wait for their surrender!”
“You mind if I eat that?” Uiuuh asked, eyeing the bits of omelette. Locria stared at the omelette, sighed and threw it towards his mouth. The Skeith eagerly accepted the offering, licking his lips when he was finished.
“Look over there!” Ackington shouted nearly fifteen minutes later. “Faerieland is sending over their forces! Surely, they have either come for parley or to surrender!”
The soldiers had arrived, yes, but they didn’t look bright and chipper. Two earth faeries and a fire faerie touched down in front of them, rubbing at their eyes and yawning. The fire faerie, who seemed to be the leader because she was decked out in fancier armor spoke first. “So...yeah, you were the ones causing the racket?”
“Indeedly so!” Ackington snapped. Locria turned away casually at the sight of the approaching soldiers and quietly crept to the edge of the cloud.
“Well, uh—” She quickly jabbed one of her fellow soldiers, who was sleeping on her feet. “Wake up. Any... any... anyway, you kind of woke everyone up. Is there a reason for that?”
“We call for your surrender, of course!”
“Okay. Are you envoys from another nation?”
“No! I am the leader, Emperor Ackington!”
“...All right then. Do you even have an army?”
Ackington looked appalled. “An army? I only need my steed and my servant to help me!”
“Don’t look at me!” Uiuuh backed away, holding up his hands.
“A mutant Skeith and... hey, Loc, isn’t that you?”
“Nope!” Locria whistled and twiddled her thumbs. “You’re mistaking me for someone else.”
“Yeah, it’s her,” one soldier sighed. “Locria, what are you doing with these guys?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about! Not at all!”
“Not at all!”
“Quickly, while they are distracted!” Ackington cried before snapping at the leg of the fire faerie.
“Ow! Get off!” she yelped, blasting a spark of fire at the Mallard. Ackington quacked loudly in shock and fell off, before being quickly yanked off and held in the crook of the faerie’s arm. “All right, let’s just take them in to Fyora and see what needs to be done.”
“How come you get the easy one?” one soldier whined, looking at Uiuuh skeptically. “We get the Skeith!”
“Hey!” Uiuuh snarled indignantly, eyes narrowing. “Is that an insult?”
“Face it, Uiuuh,” Locria sighed while puffing a lock of coarse and disheveled red hair from her face. “You could afford to lose some weight.”
“I didn’t ask for your input!”
“Please be quiet, both of you!” the leader groaned, rubbing her forehead with one hand and holding her staff and Ackington with the other.
As they made their way off of the cloud, with Locria on the back of Uiuuh and two straining faeries helping to carry them down, Ackington was screaming threats and insults all the way down. By the time they had managed to get to the palace entrance, Fyora was already outside and waiting, along with a few soldiers. One soldier looked up and frowned, scrunching up her nose. “Look, it’s the traitor, Locria.”
“Locria?” Fyora rubbed the bridge of her nose and sighed. “What’s she doing here?”
As the prisoners approached, the fire faerie called out, “We have brought the intruders! Locria was among them, Your Majesty.”
Locria raised her hands in surrender. “I just came for the thrill! It was all Ackington’s idea!”
“Hey!” The Mallard glared at Locria. “Betraying your master, are we?”
“See! Told you she’s a traitor!”
“I am not!” Locria snapped. “You guys can’t take a joke here and there?”
“Not when the joke involves replacing the Faerie Queen Doll with a Von Kougra plushie!”
“Oh, how could you possibly be at all offended by that? I just needed some fast neopoints—uhh, I mean—”
“You sold it? How could you?!”
“Well, that’s nothing compared to the time when you—”
As they bickered, Uiuuh smiled sheepishly and looked to Fyora. “Your excellency! Your majesty! Your highness! I am not evil—just a poor, misunderstood young Skeith! My parents died when I was young, and I was forced into a life of servitude with my cruel evil uncle who fed me rocks! I was constantly bullied by the other neopets just because I looked different!”
“You’ll never take me alive!” Ackington howled while struggling in the arms of a faerie. “I’ll have my revenge—I swear it!”
“—and I am by no means insane! You agree, don’t you, Uiuuh?”
Uiuuh, who wasn’t listening, looked at the sky in concentration. “Uh... I am an experiment by Doctor Sloth created to take over the world... and... uh... uhm... I won the neolottery, but I lost the ticket! Yeah! No—it was stolen from me! By a bunch of cruel neopets!”
“You dirty liar! None of that actually happened!”
“Shut up!” he hissed.
“It’s not like you’re any better, Locria!” the soldier Locria was debating with called out, crossing her arms.
“I’m not finished yet!”
“Vengeance will be mine!”
“Quiet, all of you!” Fyora groaned, looking at the sky with bleary eyes. The arguments settled, and the only sound was Ackington yelling at the group. “I’m not in the mood to deal with this! Where’s my Earl Grey?”
“Uh...Your Majesty, we couldn’t get any. Someone—” The faerie coughed and glared at the prisoners, “—prevented us from getting any, anyway.”
“Locria?” Fyora closed her eyes.
“I hate you so much right now.”
“Sorry ‘bout that. But you’ll have to deal with the mob outside of the coffee shop if you want to fix this.”
“Get someone down there to sort this out. You all have done something far more serious than blowing trumpets around the place—you’ve deprived me of my tea. For that, I’ll have you thrown in the dungeons. Take them away!”
“Pardon me, Your Majesty, but...”
“...We don’t have a dungeon. Remember? We usually don’t have to deal with things like this, so...”
Fyora groaned. “Just get them out of here. I can’t deal with this at this hour.”
“Yes, Your Majesty!” The faeries jostled the prisoners into the castle. As soon as they were inside, they shoved the trio into a broom closet at the end of the hall and shut the door.
Inside the dark closet, Locria crossed her arms and sat down, leaning against the wall. “Well, I didn’t expect something like this to happen, but I guess I should have.”
“Eh, at least we’ll get out in no time,” Uiuuh sighed, lying down and resting his head on his arms. “I’ll come up with some other story to get them to release us.”
“Or we could just walk out.”
“You fools!” Ackington hissed. “Can’t you see? This is the perfect opportunity for us to conquer Faerieland! They have us inside the castle—we have the advantage!”
“I dunno about that,” Locria sighed, walking up to the door and trying the knob. “Excellent! It’s locked!” She threw her hands up in the air and sighed forlornly. “Now what do we do?”
“Hey, cheer up,” Uiuuh muttered bitterly. “It’s not like we have anything better to do.”
After a few moments, Locria sat back down next to Uiuuh, sucking in her cheeks. “So... now what?”
“I dunno, Locria. Maybe we could sing catchy songs? Let’s see, I’ve got one—”
“Wait a minute!” she interrupted. “I think I hear someone coming!”
A light flickered on before the door opened, revealing a short orange Yurble. “You again?” he asked, looking at them with a raised eyebrow.
“Yeah, us again!” Locria nodded with a smile.
Uiuuh grinned and waved. “Remember me?”
“Yeah, you were the one who nearly flooded Altador and broke the gears in the basement. Of course I remember you.” He looked back between the duo and Ackington, who was busy plotting his new schemes for world domination. “So... Do I want to know what happened?”
“No, you don’t.”
“Good.” He reached in and grabbed a mop and a bucket. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some cleaning to do.” The lights turned off and the door shut again, leaving them alone in the dark again.
Locria lied down on Uiuuh. “Well, that was interesting, wasn’t it?”
“It was, but not in a good way.”
“Whatever, Uiuuh.” She closed her eyes and leaned back, half-listening to Ackington muttering and cackling under his breath as he plotted his domination of the planet as she dozed off.