No Other Way: Part Three
There was a dreadful silence. All eyes in the room were on the vacant space where the pod was. Nobody wanted to speak.
There was a loud beep from the control panel, which caught Drakav’s attention. He moved across and looked at the screen.
REENGAGE ENGINES IMMEDIATELY
TIME REMAINING: 10:00
“Oh...” he said, quietly. The Tonu looked across.
“What is it?” she said.
“You work here, don’t you?” asked Drakav.
“Yes,” said the Tonu. “I’m Patsy. I’m a hostess here.”
“Do you know anything about how the engines work?”
Drakav knew he was out of luck, even before Patsy shook her head.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I work with the visitors to the Station; it’s the technicians’ you’ll want to help you with this.”
“Can you get in contact with them?” he asked.
“I think there’s some sort of communication system somewhere,” she said, moving over to one of the consoles. “I’ll see if I can find something.”
Drakav turned away from the Tonu as she searched, and moved across to the other two inhabitants of the room, who seemed to have struck up a conversation.
“So you’re a successful businessman, then?” the Krawk with the saxophone was saying.
“Oh yes,” replied the Mynci Drakav knew as Allso. “One of the best. I’m currently in negotiations to buy the rights to the Kreludan Mining Corporation.”
The Krawk’s eyes were wide.
“Really?” he said. “That’s incredible!” He extended a hand. “I’m Jomoro.”
“I don’t mean to intrude,” said Drakav, impatiently, “but we’ve got a Station to save here!”
Allso turned, and gave Drakav a haughty stare.
“Now, I don’t know who you think you are,” said the Mynci, “but I don’t see how you have any authority to tell me what to do.”
“Excuse me?” said Drakav. “We’ve got the Station falling out of the sky here, and you...”
But the room was swimming out of focus suddenly for Drakav, and, without any warning at all, his brain was suddenly flooded with information; memories, of a time that he knew he had not experienced before.
“Morlock?” the elderly Krawk called. “Morlock?”
Morlock appeared from his room. The uniform he was wearing was new, sleek, and smart. Professional, but very corporate, very uncaring. This, however, did not match his eyes, which sparkled with affection as he laid eyes on the figure lying in the bed, the main feature of the only other room in the small Neohome.
“Yes, Mother?” he asked.
“Morlock, where are you going?”
Morlock moved across, and sat at the foot of her bed.
“Mother, I’ve told you where I’m going. I’ve got a job. Virtupets are employing me to work as a technician on the Space Station. I leave today.”
“But you can’t go!” his mother said. “You can’t leave me here, all alone.”
Morlock smiled weakly at her. He knew this wasn’t going to be easy.
“It’s fine, Mother, really,” he said, comfortingly. “I won’t be gone for long. Besides, there’s a nice nurse from the Neopian Hospital who’ll be making sure you’re fine.”
There was a knock on the door. Morlock rose, and opened it. On the other side stood a cheerful Elephante, wearing a hat with a green cross adorning the peak. She gave off an aura of warmth and matronly attention, and Morlock was pleased that he had, at least, made the perfect choice of carer.
“Good afternoon,” the figure said. “May I have a quick word outside?”
Morlock nodded, and stepped out, closing the door behind him.
“How is she doing?” he asked. The nurse sighed.
“Not well,” she said. “Her memory’s fading fast – anything that she isn’t frequently reminded of, she’ll forget in a matter of days.”
Morlock nodded again. It was what he had been expecting.
“Now, Mr. Morlock,” the nurse continued, “I don’t mean to pressure you unnecessarily at this time, but her medical bills are two weeks overdue, and...”
“They will be paid,” said Morlock, quickly. “I promise you, they will be paid.” The nurse surveyed the young Krawk for a moment.
“Very well,” she said, eventually. “I wouldn’t ordinarily be allowed to forgo payment for so long, but I’ll believe you.”
“Thank you,” said Morlock, with relief. “I’ll have enough to cover it in the next few days.”
“You’re really leaving her, then?” asked the nurse.
“I have to,” said Morlock. “I’ve sold everything I own. There’s no other way of paying.”
“Well, good luck to you,” she said. “I’ll make sure that she doesn’t forget you.” But Morlock could see it was an empty promise, one that she could not keep. He would leave, and his mother, within days, would have no recollection of him.
He stepped back into the room.
“Morlock, where did you go?” asked his mother.
“I was just talking to the nurse,” said Morlock, gently.
“Why do I need a nurse?”
“Because I’m going away for a bit, remember?”
“Where are you going?”
Morlock moved over to the bed, and knelt by his mother. He pointed out of the window, into the slowly-brightening sky.
“You see out there, Mother?” he asked, smiling softly. “You see, up in the sky? That’s where I’ll be.”
“You’ll be up there?”
“Yes, Mother,” he said. “And, every day, when I pass over here, I’ll look out for you.”
“And I’ll look out for you,” said his mother, her eyes vacant. Morlock’s began to well up.
“Goodbye, Mother,” he said, and he turned.
“Goodbye, dear!” she said, cheerfully. Morlock reached the door and turned for a final glance back, before stepping out into a brand new world, leaving his old one behind. As he closed the door behind him, he could no longer contain the agony and emotion inside him, and he trudged away, tears streaming down his face. The world slowly blurred in front of him, as the memory of him in his mother’s mind did as well, and the knowledge of this only obscured his vision further.
But there was nothing else he could do. And this way, she would be safe.
* * *
Everything had gone wrong.
The alarm blared in his ears as Morlock frantically tried to reattach the lever that had broken off. But to no avail. There was no fixing this. There was no escape.
Frantically, he reached for the communications device between him and the technicians in the other control room. They were his only hope now. But, as he reached to try and engage the system, his eye caught one of the displays, and he stopped. His heart pounded frantically as he scanned the monitor that had lit up and was flashing at him.
WARNING – ENGINES IN TERMINAL FAILURE. CRASH IMMINENT
PROJECTED LANDING LOCATION: KRAWK ISLAND (SOUTH)
Morlock’s hand flew to his mouth. The words reverberated in his head. ‘Krawk Island (South)’. It was even worse than he had feared. He had to stop it. Now, more than ever, the Station needed to restart.
He reached for the communications device.
“Alpha Two, this is Alpha One. Do you read me?”
Carefully, he put the tube to his ear. He could hear nothing but faint hissing from the engines. He moved it back to his mouth.
“Alpha Two, we have an emergency situation in Alpha One. Repeat, there is an emergency. You need to...”
“Stop right there!” A voice came from behind him, and Morlock turned. “That’s enough.”
And it was. Morlock looked into the eyes of the pet who had just entered the room, and he knew that it was all over. That there was nothing he could do to save the Station now.
The Station would crash into Neopia. There was no other way.
* * *
The world swam back into focus. Drakav looked around. From the confused looks on the faces of those around him, he knew that he was not the only person to have seen that.
“That poor Krawk,” Patsy said, quietly.
“Who was it?” said Drakav, firmly. Jomoro looked at him, confused.
“Who was what?”
“Who was the one who stopped him from contacting the technicians?”
“What makes you think it was one of us?” asked Allso.
“Listen,” said Drakav. “I’m not sure what’s happening here, with the odd waves of memories. But, however that happened, you all know that I work for the Defenders of Neopia. And I’m here because there’s a spy from Sloth on this ship.”
“And that spy,” continued Drakav, “must have been the one who has done this to the Station. That spy must have been the one who stopped Morlock from saving the Station.”
“Saving?” Allso said, surprised. Drakav turned on the Mynci, eyes glittering fiercely.
“You think otherwise?”
“Yes,” said Allso, defiantly. “I think it’s good that we’ve got rid of him.”
In one fluid movement, Drakav was right in front of Allso, an inch away from his face.
“Why,” he hissed, “is it a good thing?”
“Why do you think?” replied Allso calmly. “He was the one who put us in this whole sticky situation to begin with.”
“And what gives you that impression?”
“You saw the memory, didn’t you? You don’t seriously think that he was trying to save the Station, do you?”
“You interpreted it differently?”
“Yes. Is it not obvious? He was trying to crash the Station into Neopia.”
“Was it you?”
Drakav and Allso glared at each other for a moment.
“No,” said Allso. “Why would I sabotage the Station? I’ve got a business deal to close. I’m not going to risk my neck up here destroying this place.”
“It’s true,” said Patsy, suddenly. “It wasn’t him.”
“Are you sure?”
“Positive,” said the Tonu flatly. “It couldn’t have been him.”
“And what makes you...”
There was a beep from the control panel.
“Eight minutes,” said the Krawk with the saxophone. “We need to do something! Get us out of here!”
“I think this was the tube that Morlock was using,” said Patsy, moving across to one of the machines and picking up a piece of apparatus. She tapped it, once.
“Alpha... Alpha One t... to Alpha Two,” she stammered, nervously. “We have an emergency. D... do you copy?”
She listened to the tube for a moment, before looking up and shaking her head.
“The tube’s clear,” she said. “But there’s nobody at the other end. Nobody in the other control room.”
“Keep trying,” urged Drakav. “Somebody will come.”
“No, they won’t,” said Patsy, her bottom lip trembling slightly. “If we’re locked in, it means that there’s been a shutdown of all the doors. The other control room will be locked as well. If nobody’s in there now...”
She left the sentence unfinished, but the implications of the statement hung over them all.
If nobody was in there now, they were on their own.
To be continued...