Finding Dirk: Part Three
The memories were rushing back, and the worst part was, I didn’t want them to.
The images that had been flashing behind my eyes suddenly became linked with real events, real happenings. Missions, injuries, my injuries, robotic replacements... it was back. I was Agent Dirk again. And I remembered why I didn’t want to be him, why I’d gone to Shadowfeather, the evil mastermind who was behind almost every genetic mutation in Neopia, for help.
I was tired of being an agent, a spy. I had been thirteen then, and done nothing a thirteen year old should do. I mean, how many thirteen olds saved the world on multiple occasions, foiled evil plots, and faced death only a trillion times? I had wanted that life gone from me; so I had my memories erased. I had been put into the pound until I was found by Gelo and his own little family. But now, as Ms. Elli explained it, I realized what really had happened.
Shadowfeather had created robots to pose as innocent Neopians to keep an eye on me. And if they ever malfunctioned or my memory came back, it would be all to easy to extinguish his greatest adversary.
You may be wondering who Shadowfeather is. Our records say that he started out alone in life, abandoned as a hatchling. He was taken to the pound and left there, so to speak, to rot, since he was merely a blue Grarrl and the chances of him getting adopted were slim. From there, our records indicate he was adopted by a scientist who was clearly insane and tested experiments on his pets. Shadowfeather, then known as Bluebie, took an interest to the experiments, and the scientist decided he would use him as his lab assistant.
After that, the scientist disappeared.
There’s a big gap in the records, but eventually Bluebie found his way to power, experimented on himself, and so came the name Shadowfeather.
He posed quite a few problems to the NSD, and one such battle almost destroyed me. If it wasn’t for the advanced technology the agency has at its disposal, I wouldn’t be here right now.
But I doubt you care about my life story, so let’s continue the pleasant conversation going on at HQ.
“Dirk, you’re back!” Jet cried, restraining himself from running at me. His ears twitched impatiently; I knew how desperately he wanted to reminisce, but now wasn’t the time.
“Yeah, and I sorta wish I wasn’t,” I replied, settling back into the chair, chin on my knees, paws clasped together.
“Why bring me back Elli?” I growled coolly, locking onto her narrowed red eyes. “You can’t force me to work for you, and I’m not harboring a grudge against Shadowfeather. Why not just send me to the Pound?”
Maria answered that for me. She was sixteen now, taller, wiser, stronger than before. I vaguely remembered how energetic she had once been, just like the Kaimond I thought existed.
“Because we can’t defeat Shadowfeather alone,” she replied tightly. “Don’t you get it? You were the only one who could outsmart him, counterattack his every move. It was like you two were on the same wavelength. We’ve had more problems arise lately, problems we can’t control – without you, of course, Dirk. Shadowfeather’s doing something big; a morphing potion.”
Ms. Elli nodded her agreement, sitting down fluidly on her desk. I never liked her, the way her tail would swish, the way her mouth would turn down coldly when she would say who came back and who didn’t from a mission. She was heartless. She didn’t care if I wanted a life. Maybe I was and had been selfish, but I needed a home, a family. I didn’t want all of... this.
“What’s so bad about making a morphing potion?” I asked casually. “I know it's illegal, that only Kauvara can manufacture and sell them, but I mean, really? I’m not seeing an evil quest for world power here.” The words were flowing from my mouth, uncontrollable. My life was now going down a road that lead, as far as I knew, to nowhere.
Elli snapped, “Not only is it illegal, but it is dangerous, and he is not selling them. Our scientist have analyzed the side effects, and they are disastrous! By the way, you all owe Mr. Kyle a thank you for almost sacrificing himself for the sample.”
“We don’t have any concrete proof,” Maria continued, flexing her claws, “But we are positive there is a chemical in the morphing potion that will have a similar effect to what Shadowfeather did to you.”
Jet let out an angry grunt, and I saw him out of the corner of my eye crack his knuckles, his green eyes flashing. The guy didn’t get that I had wanted Shadowfeather to wipe my memory.
“Hold on,” I said, waving my paw. “What do you mean a similar effect?”
There was a pause, and Elli suddenly looked very uncomfortable.
“Well, almost an exact effect. Memory wiping. Then, in possibly two hours after digestion, the brain will becoming incredibly confused and Shadowfeather will send out a single. The Neopians' brains will no longer think autonomously, but be controlled by Shadowfeather. And today at ten o’ clock at night, he will spray his despicable potion into the atmosphere, and all Neopians will be under his control.”
I closed my eyes, my brain whirling furiously. So, I was back into the madness, back into it deep. All of Neopia was once again depending on me, Agent Dirk. I can’t say I didn’t like the pressure. Incredulously, I realized I had missed it. Being important. Being needed to do something other than my chores.
It was time to live again.
“Okay, I’m in. On one condition.”
Ms. Elli groaned, knowing what was coming. Maria and Jet smiled, winking at each other.
“And what would that be, Agent Dirk?” she asked wearily, yawning.
“Put the Bad Guys back together.”
Yeah, we’re back in business.
I looked at my assignment team, “The Bad Guys”. C’mon, you can’t deny irony, right? Thing was, we were bad. All once thieves or crime-committers. Look at this Neopia, the anonymous faces on the Most Wanted List are about to save the world from certain destruction. So, let’s meet the Bad Guys.
Of course, there’s me, captain of this amazing team. Then there’s Agent Jet, my closest companion, whose second in command. Then there’s Maria, Josh, a Darigan Gelert, our weapons specialist, Tony the rainbow Korbat, Fran the Maraquan Shoyru, and Jeanne, the Island Uni. Talk about bad to the bone and armed and dangerous.
We were preparing to board a high-speed carriage to Shadowfeather’s HQ when Jet pulled me aside.
He looked at me, all seriousness, and said, “Wocky Jocky Tocky?”
With a smile, I replied, “Lupey Dopey Kupey.”
Our little way of saying, “Ready to kick some Grarrl butt?” and “You know it!”
The cart ride was pretty uneventful. I talked a lot with my old friends, trying to rebuild the bridges I had broken when I had my memory erased. Had I really thought about how my life would be affected, how other lives would be affected, when I went to Shadowfeather? Now that I think about it, I’d say no.
“So, how was your life, back there?” Josh asked, jerking his thumb behind him. I knew what he meant.
“It was good, I guess; boring, peaceful until my “family” totally went nuts and attacked me,” I said, laughing. The others joined in.
Fran flapped his wings excitedly. “It's so awesome to have the Bad Guys back together! Remember when we were ten, and I flew into that tree-”
“And I had to fly up to get you-” Jeanne continued.
“And then your mane got caught in a branch, and you were screaming your head off-” Josh said.
“And then I had to climb up to get you guys,” Maria sighed with fake exasperation, shaking her head as Neocola spurted from Jet’s nose with laughter.
“And the whole tree snapped and you guys fell into Kiko Lake, and I had to dive in and save all of you,” I finished, trying to look serious and noble. Until Jet sprayed Neocola into my face and I had to attack him.
That was pretty much how the ride went. I remember looking at everybody, just letting the memories flow happily.
Too bad it had to end for the time being.
The carriage halted, the Unis driving it whinnying with fright as mud splattered across their glossy manes.
“Why must thou be so vain?” Jeanne muttered, rolling up her black sleeves. We were all dressed in the usual uniform; black, blast-proof vests covering our chest, black T-shirts, black padded pants and boots.
Unusual anxiety fluttered in my chest. I had been out of action for three years. I could cause this mission to fail. I might doom all of Neopia.
Maria laid a comforting paw on my shoulder, handing me a rainbow gun XY300, twice the power of the average blaster.
“You’re the master,” the orange Kougra said, looking me straight in the eyes. “And no matter how many times your memory fails, you’ll always be Agent Dirk, Butt-kicker of evil.”
“Ooh, I like that title,” I said, winking. I kicked open the carriage door with a flourish, yelling, “Bad Guys, it's time to jet!”
“Take out the camera wires,” I commanded, pointing to the cameras perching on top of the gate that surrounded Shadowfeather’s estate, where he was launching the potion into the air.
Josh nodded, narrowed his golden eyes, and shot a concentrated blast at the wires, snapping them all in one shot.
I took my gun and putting it at 67% power, blasted a hole through the metal gate. No alarm bells rang. I motioned for the Bad Guys to follow me, needlessly putting a finger to my lips.
Jeanne rolled her eyes with a snort and followed after me, as did the rest of the team. Now that we were inside the estate, things could only get more difficult.
We sprinted ahead, made sure not to go near the front door which would undoubtedly have more cameras, and leapt into his front yard garden, taking shelter behind a few bushes.
“Everyone, use your rainbow guns to make a one hole in the wall,” I hissed. They obliged. We pushed the now unconnected concrete wall out of our way and filed in. I paused and turned to Tony.
“Stay her and guard with Fran, okay? Send a blast into the air if things go sour ASAP.”
Tony nodded silently, as did Fran. Men of little words.
I saluted them and ran up to meet the others.
We looked around, eyes wide. We were in the worst possible place we could be.
Shadowfeather’s study, with Shadowfeather sitting at his desk.
The Grarrl looked up, surprised. He was alone, no guards by his desk, no robots waiting in the shadows, I realized as I quickly took in the room. The soft red carpet looked clear of any traps, the bookcase looked sturdy, and the ceiling didn’t look as if it was about to cave in. Was all clear?
“Oh, has the cavalry arrived already?” he said with mock sincerity. “I’m sorry but the biscuits and tea aren’t quite ready. Please pardon my obnoxiousness.”
I wanted to pound the guy, but held back. He was staring at me, unsurprised as if he had planned it out the be this way. A little smirk curled his ugly features.
“You don’t seem surprised to see me,” I said, tightening my finger on the rainbow gun’s trigger.
“There’s an easy explanation for that, Dirk; I’m not.”
I could feel the Bad Guys tense behind me. Jeanne raised her rainbow gun, pointing it straight at Shadowfeather’s chest.
“Why?” I asked. “You supposedly wiped my memory. I escaped from your evil little androids. I’m here, about to stun you into unconsciousness. My memory is restored, which you said could never happen,” I added bitterly. “Why not be surprised?”
Shadowfeather chuckled, rubbing his forehead with his huge paws. Josh raised his weapon with a warning snarl and was seconds away from pulling the trigger when I closed my paw over his wrist.
“Not until my signal.”
He glared at Shadowfeather with contempt then sighed, “Affirmative, Captain.”
“You are so naive, a naive teenager who is incredibly gifted, but unable to match me. Do you not see the brilliance of my plan?”
“No, enlighten us,” Jeanne and Josh snapped.
Shadowfeather rose from his seat, and I motioned for Jeanne, Jet, and Josh to surround him.
Tapping his desk impatiently, he snarled, “Pure ignorance! When you came to me three years ago, begging for me to wipe your memory, I instantly began forming my master, devious plan. I would wipe your memory; give you the opportunity for a “normal life”. But I knew the effects of the mind wiping were astoundingly weak; the slightest reminder of your past would send your recollections rushing back. I knew you’d come back to me somehow, sooner or later, on some idiotic mission. So I commanded my robots to “malfunction”, setting the plan in motion. And here you are in my claws, about to be extinguished. And yes, the potion was merely a decoy; I cannot generate that much potion in such a short time.”
I laughed. I actually laughed at the insanity of what I was hearing. And how couldn’t the scientists back at the NSD not realized that it was so difficult to make the morphing potion? Maybe they had overestimated Shadowfeather....
“It's pointless! Why bait me here?” I jeered. “I came to you unarmed three years ago, and you could’ve gotten me out of the picture then. Now I have a team and three weapons, and you’re threatening me?”
Shadowfeather’s face darkened. “You are a fool, Agent Dirk. You don’t understand how many times I felt all powerful, unconquerable, as you feel now, and had every plot crushed by you, pathetic little blue Lupe! The purpose was to break you, Dirk. You think you’re still strong, undefeatable? How will you feel without your team?”
The lights went out.
“Formation B-79 standard, rainbow blats at 30%!” I commanded, sending a short flare to light the room.
Then the lights flickered back on from their undetermined source. I saw Shadowfeather grinning madly, my agents pressed against what must have been a magnetic wall, and Kaimond, emerging from under the desk, leaping forward at me.
I dodged the attack, rolling on the ground. Kaimond, the last surviving family member, crawled up the ceiling, his red eyes flashing diabolically.
I shot rainbow blasts at him from the floor, gaping in amazement as he dodged every blast. He flipped in the air and hit me forcefully in the jaw with the back of his paw; I grabbed that same paw and threw him to the ground.
The robot got up slowly, and I took that chance to shoot him down.
“Is that... the best... you’ve got?” I panted, slowly rising to my feet.
Apparently, it wasn’t. As a last resort, Shadowfeather flung himself at me.
I’d never been in paw to paw combat with the villain. It was always his henchmen I had to master, never his physical person. He was an amazing fighter.
In seconds, he had me pinned to the ground, slapping me about. I snarled and kicked at him with my paws, lifting him into the air and shooting at him with the same breath. He laughed aloud and easily flew out of the way.
As he fluttered above, my mind was working double-time. Jet, Jeanne, and Josh pinned against a wall. Fran and Tony waiting outside. I could easily call them in, but I felt I had to do this alone.
Wait a second... the wall. I flung my rainbow gun at Shadowfeather, grinning as he caught it with ease.
“Is that all?” he cackled. “Do you realize now all I have to do is...”
Propelling myself forward by bouncing off the wall, I cannoned forward and hit Shadowfeather full on in the gut, slamming him into the magnetic wall. He fluttered in the air for the second, and then the wall had him.
I fell to the ground, stunned.
The rainbow gun had been enough to pull Shadowfeather to the wall, but my plan couldn’t have worked if he didn’t have all those safety pins in his pocket.
“Yeah,” I panted triumphantly, sprawled on the ground, “that’s all.”
I sometimes wonder what could’ve happened if I accepted Ms. Elli’s offer to resign from the NSD after Shadowfeather was locked up and his robot servants destroyed. Maybe I would’ve found a nice family and lived a normal life. But as I sit here with my Bad Guys, I realize something. They’re the only family Agent Dirk will ever need.
Ah, my first series. I hope you all enjoyed it; don't be afraid to send me feedback!