A House, A Home: Part Three
The Defender of Neopia, a skinny Grundo, looked at Edda askance. “You’re kidding, right? Commander Garoo and Sophix, hiding under your garden shed?”
“I know it sounds odd! But it’s true, and they’ve got my sisters! And they’ll kill my sisters if they find out I told you!”
“Girl, what reason could two notorious Sloth minions possibly have for coming here?”
Edda glared – usually a powerful weapon with her red eyes. “Maybe because people like you don’t expect them to come here! You’re law enforcement! Aren’t you duty-bound to check this out?”
The Grundo said patronizingly, “I’m duty-bound to check out all serious claims. It was probably just a few teenage thugs hiding in the shed.”
“YOU AREN’T LISTENING! THEY HAVE MY SISTERS!”
The transmitter on the desk buzzed. The Grundo picked it up, eyeing Edda warily. “Yes?”
“We just received word from your office that Garoo and Sophix have been sighted.”
“It’s actually nothing, sir. Just a couple of mischief-makers hiding in some girl’s...”
Edda snatched the transmitter away from him. “Yes! Garoo and Sophix have an underground hideout near my house! They’re in my house, and they’ve got my sisters! I don’t know who you are, but there’s a whole lot of them and you need to take this seriously!”
The Grundo snarled, “Give me that back or I’ll have you arrested for disturbing the peace!”
“Garoo’s already been disturbing the peace! I had a blaster pointed straight at me!”
The voice on the intercom asked, “What is your name?”
“Edda, I am Commander Valka. I’ll send our finest to handle this. I’m very sure that no one would come into a Defenders of Neopia office saying that Commander Garoo and Sophix were holding their sisters hostage, Xokef. It’s not the sort of thing that any Kreludan jokes about.”
Xokef said sullenly, “But she’s not a Kreludan! She’s a Darigan Ixi!”
Edda hissed, forgetting for a few seconds that it was the legendary Commander Valka on the transmitter, “Yes, I am a Kreludan. I’ve worked hard to make Kreludor my home. And I’m telling the truth.”
Commander Valka said, “Edda, I’ll be coming myself to survey this... we’ll take the fastest ships we have and we’ll be to Crater Valley in seven hours.”
The transmitter cracked off, but Xokef had only three seconds to glare at Edda before it came to life again.
“Xokef, this is Zabox! Old Lady Xarina says that a Virtupets hovercraft just crashed into her house!”
Edda’s eyes widened. “Xokef – my sisters were going to try and steal a hovercraft to escape – it could be them!”
Xokef groaned, “Well, Zabox – I’ll be down shortly with this pain... she won’t leave my office otherwise.”
Edda had already ran out and slammed the pedal down on her hovercraft, speeding out to Xarina’s house.
Juju’s erratic flying was a blessing in disguise... none of the lasers currently being aimed at them could hit a target moving as unpredictably as their stolen hovercraft. Marielle watched out the back, covering Nally’s eyes, to warn Juju if any hovercraft got too close. The baby was screaming with joy... she thought this was the most fun ride ever!
Marielle shouted, “Laser! Straight at us!”
Juju turned the wheel as hard as she could. The blast clipped one of the stabilizers on the side, sending them into a spiral. The desert Kyrii frantically turned the wheel the other way, trying to even them out. But their pursuers were turning around!
“Juju! Garoo must not want to turn this into open battle yet – I bet he called them off!”
“Well, great. I’ll have to send him flowers on his birthday.” Then she gasped as she felt something snap under her hands. She tentatively tried turning the wheel in another direction... nothing happened!
“Mari! The wheel’s broken! I CAN’T STEER!”
“Is there anything in front of us?”
“There’s a house to the side... we’re into the outskirts... AAAAAAAH!”
Marielle turned to see that they were rapidly approaching a purple-painted house. “BRAKE! BRAKE!”
Juju felt for the brake and pressed it down as hard as she could, but they were going far too fast in Kreludor’s low gravity to stop them from crashing into the house, breaking through the wall entirely, and finally stopping in a bookshelf in an old Grundo’s living room, who merely stared at them in disbelief for three seconds, then ran out screaming.
Juju pumped her fist in the air. “Woo-hoo! Yeah!” Nally laughed and clapped.
Marielle said fervently, “I never, never, never, never want to do anything like that EVER again.”
They were trying their best to drag the machine out of the house – or at least out of the pile of books – when they heard more motors approaching. Edda ran in through the hole in the wall and immediately threw her arms around them.
“You made it! I was so worried!”
“Did you get help?”
“Yes! Commander Valka himself is coming! Commander Garoo doesn’t stand a chance!” The Ixi looked out the hole, out toward where their little house lay. “And I’m going to help him make that Blumaroo regret ever setting foot in our home.”
Commander Valka played the transmission for all the members of the Resistance that he had brought with him. “Commander Valka?”
“This is Edda. My sisters are safe with me at the hangar. To all appearances, Garoo had his soldiers turn back when it looked like they would tip their hand otherwise.”
“That sounds like a tip they learned from Sloth – don’t attack until you’re sure you can win. Tell the Defenders to alert the people – they have to realize that his presence is no longer a secret, and they may try to fight before we get there.”
Cylara frowned. “She still didn’t answer my question. What on earth are Commander Garoo and Sophix doing in a place like Crater Valley?”
Scout shrugged. “Maybe because it’s far away enough from any big city that they think no one will look for them there.”
Gorix shook his head. “No. Sloth never did anything without multiple reasons. I’m certain his minions are the same way. The secrecy of Crater Valley may be one reason. But what are the others?”
The others on the transport, all battle-hardened from the last fight against Dr. Sloth, shook their heads. Valka said, “We may not know until we get into their hideout... I’m certain the information will be in there.”
Gordon, a big red Lupe, smiled dangerously. “Okay, fight first. I can handle that.”
Marielle held Nally up to watch as the ship flew in from the Space Station. “See, Nally? Here come the people who are going to stop the bad men.”
Nally burbled in reply.
Edda recognized Commander Valka from the pictures she had seen in the Neopian Times. He extended a hand to her. “You must be Edda. I am Commander Valka.”
“It’s nice to meet you.”
It felt slightly surreal to shake hands with Gorix, Cylara, Scout, and all the other heroes of the fight against Sloth. But if anyone could get Garoo and Sophix out of her home, it was them.
Valka said, “My plan is to head out there as soon as possible, before Garoo realizes that we’re here and prepares for attack.”
Edda said, “Can I have a blaster? I’m coming with you.”
Several fighters looked at her askance.
“Yes. I’m coming with you. They’re in my home. They threatened my family. I’m going to deliver the bill personally.”
Valka nodded and told a Zafara wearing a battle visor, “Go find Edda a blaster.” He looked toward Cylara. “In the last battle, I took a chance on an untried fighter. It worked. Edda has also shown bravery and resourcefulness. She will stand with us.”
Juju asked, “What about me?”
Edda whirled. “No.”
“No ‘buts’ whatsoever. You’re only thirteen. You’re staying right here.”
Edda looked at her little sister. “Juju, you did a great job today. It’s because of you that Marielle and Nally are alive and out of danger. But you won’t be much help where we’re going next. If Garoo or Sophix gets past us, they’ll head for the hangar and it may be your job to try and stop them. Can you do that for me?”
Juju nodded. Part of her thought Edda was just trying to change the subject, but the rest was pacified by the thought that she still might be able to help one more time.
She and Marielle both held their blasters as they watched the spaceship streak off toward their home – Marielle gingerly, as if it was hot. The Acara said, “I sure hope they don’t fight in the house. Blasters won’t do the furniture any good, and replacing it will be a bummer.”
Juju didn’t chide her sister about being shallow. This fretting was her way of dealing with stress. It would be too hard for her... or for Juju... to admit that they might never see their sister again.
Oh, please, please let us see her again!
To be continued...