The Greatest Story Never Told: Part Four
With the alarm still ringing painfully in their ears, Sebastian, Jaycee and Will started pressing and pulling all the buttons and levers in sight. The whole room was vibrating and Sebastian’s head was spinning. Every button he pushed emitted a sharp beep and did nothing and all the levers were stuck.
“We have to get out of here!” Jaycee yelled above the screeching wail.
They rushed back to the screen that was still showing them a picture of three keys.
“Which one?” Will asked.
“Gold, definitely Gold.”
“No, that’s the obvious one! Go Bronze!”
“Just pick one!”
Will screwed his eyes shut and blindly poked the screen. He must have touched the Silver, because a second later a shiny metal key was hovering in the air in front of them, and the alarm stopped wailing.
“So what do we do with it?” he asked, grabbing it out of the air.
“No idea.” Sebastian shrugged.
“Hey, guys, look.” Jaycee was pointing back at the Key-screen. It was still showing the keys. “Can we get the others too?”
She stepped forward and touched the Bronze key, then the Gold. And sure enough, a second later there they were, floating in the air above their heads. She reached up to grab them, tossing the Gold one to Sebastian and putting the Bronze in her pocket.
“I’m sure they will come in handy sometime,” she said.
Sebastian nodded, still surveying the room for a way out. He thought he saw the outline of the door when Jaycee yelped and pointed at one of the walls.
“I can hear the guards!” she whispered frantically, her eyes as wide as saucers.
Sebastian could still hear the siren in his ears, but he couldn’t miss the unmistakable sound of the robots' thuds as they ran.
He held his key in his hands for a moment, considering his options. He knew they had to get out before the guards came and got them.
“This room controls everything, right? The ultimate computer. Maybe there’s a switch for the robots or something?” Will said, looking thoughtful.
“Are you good with computers, Will?” Jaycee asked him hurriedly.
“Well, I suppose I am alright; my Father is very clever, and my brothers. I never really listened to them, though; they are quite—”
“I’m sure they are,” Sebastian cut him off. “But they can't help us now, you can! We have to find something to control them, and fast. Everyone, start looking.”
There was a minute of tense silence as they examined the walls before Will let out a triumphant squeal. Sebastian and Jaycee rushed over to him, and he pointed at a screen with those symbols they couldn’t understand. Apparently Will could, though, as he nodded and typed something into the keyboard.
He looked at them.
He nodded and tried it.
The screen continued to blink intermittently at them.
“Sloth rocks? Ughh...”
They rattled off everything they could think Sloth would set as his password.
“That’s it!” Will exclaimed. “It worked, I’m in. ‘Flowers’ was the password!”
“Really?” Sebastian screwed up his nose in disgust. “Ew!”
“Oookay...” Will muttered, typing furiously. “Ok, I think I can get control of the robot, just let me try this...” He finished typing with a flourish and read what the screen had written on it. “Brilliant!” He grinned. “I’ve got control of the mainframe!”
The door was suddenly flung open so hard it fell off its hinges. The guards came marching in and aimed their lasers at them.
“Step away,” one of them barked.
“Will...” Jaycee squeaked, terrified. She backed up again the wall.
“Almost...” His eyes narrowed with concentration.
“Done!” Will yelled, pressing a button on the keyboard triumphantly. Instantly the lights went out in their eyes and the robots fell to the floor with a dull thud. Sebastian nearly fainted with relief.
“Are they safe?” he asked Will, who nodded. He cautiously walked over to the nearest one and pulled its helmet off, looking inside.
“It’s hollow,” he reported. “They’re just shells, really.”
Jaycee had slid down the wall and was sitting on the floor looking like she was going to pass out.
“We can use them,” she said softly. “Hide inside, as guards we can go anywhere.” Will frowned but didn’t say anything.
“Alright then,” Sebastian said shakily. “We’d better get a move on; they might send more.” He hoisted a robot onto its feet, and with great difficulty climbed inside, cramming the helmet down on his head. He looked out through the visor and was surprised to see that it enhanced his vision greatly.
Will was still fiddling with the computer after Jaycee had robot-ed herself.
“Come on, Will, we have to hurry. We still don’t know where Sloth is,” she said, testing out her robot's legs gingerly, before promptly falling over.
“I’m searching for him in the data base, to see if there is any record,” he replied, not looking up. “Ah hah! Found him. He’s... in this building!” He yelped, causing Sebastian to jump.
“Where?!” he and Jaycee screeched together.
“I’m not too sure where he is at this very second, but I’ve got access to his Headquarters thingy. Where he lives.”
“How far away is it?” Jaycee asked eagerly.
“On the other side. And then a little further.” Will sighed. “It will take a while to get there, and he might be out for a midnight stroll, you never know; this system’s not all that reliable. But I’m getting readings for some transmissions, coming from... Neopia?” He frowned again and jabbed at the keys. “Oh, it’s a teleport link! No wonder the translations looked funny; instantaneous travel is really complicated. So many things can go wrong, you could leave half of yourself back where you started and the other— never mind. Anyway, this is bad news. Really bad news.”
“Why?” Sebastian asked, puzzled.
“Because, if there’s a teleportation link open, that means something is about to be teleported. Or someone,” he added meaningfully.
“Sloth! He’s teleporting down to Neopia?”
“Looks like it.” Will nodded. “Ever wondered how he just appeared to sludge your paintbrush?”
“Not really, no. I just sort of got caught up in the moment. I didn’t stop to analyze the finer details,” Sebastian said.
“Well, he can't fly down in a rocket, sludge the paintbrush, and then fly away again, can he? It just doesn’t have the same effect. And he’d be a lot easier to keep track of if he did it like that. The Defenders would know when he’s coming, going, and most importantly— where he’s going. So no, Sloth prefers illegal teleporting. And if I’m not mistaken —although I wish I was— I think he’s going to go and zap someone else’s paintbrush.”
“Now?!” Sebastian asked incredulously.
“Not right this minute, but soon.”
“How soon are we talking here?”
“Four minutes? Maybe five, tops.”
“We have to stop him!” Jaycee said furiously.
“We don’t have a hope to try and get to him before he leaves; he’s just too far away. But there is something I can do...” Will mused aloud, looking worried. “It’s illegal, though.”
“So? We’re chasing after Sloth. Sloth, Will! I don’t think the Defenders will have a Kau at us if we break a measly little rule.”
“Well, ok. I can use the computer to divert the teleportation beam to us, so you sort of catch a lift with him when he goes down to Neopia.”
“Like hitchhikers!” Sebastian grinned.
“I suppose so. If I can get the coordinates lined up exactly, you’ll be teleported back up here with him — he won't be there long — and bingo. You’ll be exactly where you wanted to be. Face to face with Sloth.” He shuddered.
“What — you aren’t coming with us?” Jaycee looked crestfallen.
“Oh, well, it’s your adventure isn’t it? And it wasn’t my paintbrush that got zapped. No, I think I will just go home.” At this he paused, looking horrified. “Oh, that’s right. I don’t have a home anymore. Once banished, always banished,” he explained to them, as they looked at him sadly.
“Where will you go?” Jaycee asked softly
“Not sure. But I’ll think of something. I always do!” He tried to smile brightly, but he didn’t quite make it.
“Come with us!” Sebastian pleaded. He had grown quite accustomed to Will's company and didn’t want him to have to leave them. And what did he have to go to anyway?
“Are you sure? You really want me to come with you?” The Grundo looked suspiciously watery-eyed.
“Of course we do!” Jaycee smiled warmly at him. “We would never have made it this far without you! And anyway, it was kind of our fault you were exiled from the Station anyway,” she added sheepishly.
“Well... ok!” He grinned. “Let’s go and get Sloth! Oh, but first I have to... hang on...” He pulled out the Silver key he had taken and stuck it into a slot next to the screen. It glowed green for a second before fading and he took it out again.
“Portable teleporter. I uploaded the computer's data onto the key. I can plug it into anything and make a transporter beam,” he explained, pocketing it. “I can also give it to the Defenders so they have a copy of everything Sloth has been doing here.”
“You’re brilliant,” Sebastian said honestly.
“Thanks.” Will flushed, hastily pulling on his robot suit. “Now, if you plug your keys into your robots there—” he pointed to a spot on the arm, “—and press the blue button, you’ll be connected too.” They followed his instructions, being careful not to press the big red button next to the blue one. Who knew what it would do?!
“Right, we’re connected. We just have to wait until Sloth teleports and we’ll be right behind him.”
They stood nervously for a few minutes twiddling their thumbs. Sebastian thought perhaps Will had miscalculated, when suddenly the room glowed blue and then —
They were gone...
To be continued...