Memoirs of a Reluctant Villain: Part Two
Two days passed in our little shelter, holding our breath and waiting for the Space Faerie to save us. We'd started spying on the large camp of Grundos, trying to see what was happening. We couldn't get close enough to see anything really, but we could hear the screams late at night. Everyone was terrified, but they were trying to hold it together for each other. I wondered how many more days we could last.
Gorix, the eternal optimist, just knew she was only hours, minutes maybe, from rescuing us. "No matter how long she takes," he'd say with a wise nod, "we can take it. We're made of strong stuff. No one can mess with us!" I'd nod and smile, as if I agreed. Really, it made no sense to argue. His happy, hopeful view of the world would be shattered soon enough. Sooner than I thought.
I felt it before I saw it. A magical, peaceful feeling. Powerful, but soothing. Gorix, whooping with delight, launched himself out of our hideout. I tried to shout a warning- how did we know this wasn't a trap- but Gorix was already up and out.
Carefully, I peeked out. And there she was, in all her glory. Surrounded by a rich sapphire glow, she smiled benevolently at Gorix. Gorix had a half smile on his face, as if just being next to her was all he'd ever wanted in life. She was talking quietly to him.
I don't know why I didn't climb out of that hole. I could've gone up to her and Gorix standing there. But I didn't. I stayed hidden, watching the two of them. I felt apart from it. It was the first time I had ever felt truly alone.
Gorix ran off in the direction of the camp, and the Space Faerie slowly looked my way. I ducked out of the way, quickly, not wanting to be seen. I heard her mutter something to herself about thinking there was someone else there. Then she sighed, and I heard nothing after that.
The cheer from the camp was audible, even as far away as I was. Taking this as my cue, I slowly walked towards the camp. As I came over the hill, I saw Grundos dancing joyously with each other. Idiots, I thought to myself, just because she's here doesn't mean they're out of danger. They're just giving the enemy the knowledge that we have a secret weapon. Everyone knows you shouldn't celebrate until you know you've won. I shook my head and made my way down.
"So these Neopians, who are they?" a starry Grundo was asking the Space Faerie.
"They are wonderful," she said in a low voice. "They will be your friends and take care of you. There are so many of them, they are quite powerful in numbers. They will take you from the slavery of Dr. Sloth." There was a cheer.
Why, why are they cheering? So now we're to be taken in by strangers? Sure, it's the Space Faerie, she knows what she's doing. Still. Thoughts buzzed around my head like fleafs.
"No," she was saying, in response to a question I missed, "I don't have that kind of power. I'm trapped here. Sloth knew I might come. And though he doesn't know I'm here, he's surrounded this place with a force field I can't break through. But we'll smuggle you out on ships to Neopia, as they adopt you all."
"How did you know?" one old Grundo asked.
"Gorix!" The Space Faerie tugged Gorix up beside her. He blushed and looked pleased with himself. "He got out during the invasion and sent a message to me all by himself. Isn't he brave?"
Gorix started to sputter, "B-b-but I wasn't by m-my-" The crowd cheering overtook his quiet protestations.
"He truly shows us that one Grundo can make a huge difference!" The Space Faerie grinned, as more applause broke out.
"No, y-y-you don't-"
"Now don't be modest, Gorix. It was such a brave thing you did." The Space Faerie smiled at him and he was silent.
I felt the blood pound in my ears. How dare this- this wretch not even mention me! I came up with the plans, I worked the machine. Without me, he'd have been caught days ago, and no message would've gotten out. And he couldn't even tell people that I'd been part of it too?
But it is always like that, isn't it? I thought to myself. He's always taking credit for my ideas, my actions. I glared at him, seeing red. As the crowd applauded him and he played the reluctant hero, forgetting about me.
That was the beginning of the end.
"The mission is dangerous, to be sure," the commander continued, "But I know Gorix and his team will do a fine job."
Gorix smiled winningly, "Only because of our great leadership, sir." He stood at attention and saluted. As everyone smiled at Gorix fondly, I kept in the back corner, arms folded. Let him soak up the glory, I thought, and then we can get this mission done.
"Looking sour as usual," Gorix commented to me. "It's not all that great being in the spotlight."
"I wouldn't know," I said, biting off the words.
"Are you still not over that? Power isn't everything. I have a great many people to answer to if things go wrong. You have only to answer to me."
"Oh yes, great commander," I said with a mock-bow, "teach me your great ways."
Gorix snorted derisively. "Parlax, you need a good dose of reality. The mission starts early tomorrow morning; see you there."
I stalked out into the halls. Even after a few months trying to clean up after the invasion, Gorix still wouldn't talk about how he'd betrayed me. He'd apologized, once, and promptly forgotten the whole thing. "It's better this way," he'd said that night. "After all, you wouldn't want to be in the public spotlight! Besides, if they ever give me a team, you'll be on it, okay?"
So here we were, a specialized unit. The others adored Gorix. Called him the best commander they'd ever had, though they were all mostly twice his age. But they hadn't done the great thing he did, so he must be amazing.
Once again, I was on the outs. The sour one, the quiet one, the mean one. The first to chastise when someone missed a cue or a crucial step. And Gorix always came in to smooth things over. No wonder our unit was so sloppy, no one in it had to answer for anything.
A shot rang out, just past my ear. As usual, I was cover fire for our retreat. I'd told Gorix we needed to get in by stealth, but he'd insisted the uniforms we filched would serve much better. Better to be out in the open, confident, than sneak around. Like a real scouting team.
A real scouting team indeed. Gorix couldn't understand stealth if it bit him in the ear. He was all bravado, all about big chancy moves that always seemed to work out, despite the fact that a million things could go wrong.
And gone wrong, they had. We had gotten the map just fine. But as we were leaving, they got careless. Eleni was supposed to be watching around the corners, but as per usual, once the prize was ours, everyone became too relaxed. She'd actually run into one of the guards. A deadly crossfire ensued.
Shot after shot rang out. They had a new weapon, one I didn't recognize. The Treasure Seeker. X marks the spot, I thought, seeing it singe a hold in the wall. Crossfire beams shot out, causing more damage than parallel. To be caught in the middle of that would be painful. Maybe more than painful.
"PARLAX!" Gorix shouted from farther ahead, "I'm trapped. HELP!"
Heaving a sigh, I ran. Ducking and weaving, I made my way over. "NOW!" I shouted to him as I stood in the middle of the aisle. A tempting target. Gorix shot out past me and made his way to the door. I turned slightly to watch him go. As I turned back, I saw it coming. A crossfire blast, and I was right in the middle.
I felt it. Searing pain. I couldn't see, my vision turned the snowy white of the beams. Screaming in rage, I fired shots wildly. I turned and ran towards the direction of the door.
The team was there, I could see them blurrily as I stumbled into the hallway. I dropped to one knee, unable to move because of the pain. "Gorix!" Eleni shouted, "Parlax is hurt!"
Gorix ran to my side. "Can you walk?"
"No," I moaned, "I can't hardly see. No strength."
"Eleni, Jorn, take him-"
"No." I interrupted. "That map needs to get back. They need to know the layout of the space station. That's more important. Leave me, I'll slow you down."
"Parlax, I can't-"
"Yes, you can," I growled. "Go."
"He's right," Jorn spoke up, "We may not get out with this information if we have to drag him along."
"Fine," Gorix said, "but we'll come back for you." And like that, he and the team were gone. I lay on the ground, moaning as the enemy came up from behind. I waited for the blasts, but instead felt myself being lifted off the ground.
And that was all I knew, for a little while.
To be continued...