The Greatest Story Never Told: Part Seven
“We have to ditch the suits! They’re too loud, they’ll hear us!” Jaycee said, pulling herself out of her disguise. The others did the same, looking around the corridor nervously.
“What do we do with them? We need the keys.”
“I don’t know! Just put them in here — I think it’s a storage cupboard. We’ll just have to carry the — hey, shoes!” Jaycee exclaimed excitedly, peering into the small room, lined with shelves. Each shelf held dozens of shoes — she was in heaven.
“Ooh, look at those ones! Pink!” She turned and smiled expectantly at Sebastian.
“No. Ohh, no, no, no. You can't have the shoes. No way,” he said firmly, shaking his head and pulling her out of the cupboard. He and Will shoved their suits inside and closed the door behind them.
“Where do we go? We’re safe from the Guards — for now — but Sloth might actually realise we’ve gone!” Will said, toying with his ears.
“I doubt it,” Sebastian scoffed. “The idiot was too busy gloating about his stupid time machine to even notice we left! And the guards only act on his command, so they couldn’t do anything about us.”
“We have to get out of here. He’s nuts!” Jaycee said.
“No.” Will shook his head.
“If he does have a time machine, one that works, we can't leave him here with it!” Will looked aghast. “I’d bet you anything he built it to go back in time, to stop the Space Faerie from arriving on the scene. He’d have had control of the world if she hadn’t stopped him. Shame we left too early to actually listen to what he intends to do.”
“Oh, yeah, big loss there.” Sebastian tried to look serious, but couldn’t resist smirking slightly.
“Alright, so how do we get the time machine?” Jaycee said quickly, frowning at Sebastian.
“Well, you’d think it would be guarded. I don’t think I saw it in the lab, it must be somewhere else in this building,” Will said thoughtfully. “I wonder what it looks like?”
They chatted quietly as they wandered down the corridor, each with a different (and stubborn) idea of what the machine would look like. They soon came to a stop at the end of the path, with a blank wall in front of them.
“Oh, that’s convenient! How do these people get around if every corner’s a dead end?” Sebastian said moodily. He was still grumpy because the others had laughed at his idea that the time machine would look like a giant clock.
“There has to be a door somewhere!” Will kicked the wall, and much to their surprise, a big computer screen appeared on the ‘wall’.
“Brilliant!” He grinned and stuck his key in the slot. Symbols and words flashed across the screen so fast that neither Sebastian nor Jaycee could catch what they read, but Will seemed to be having no difficulty. His pudgy little fingers flew across the keyboard in a blur. At last he stepped back and motioned for the others to have a look at what he’d done.
On the screen was a 3D map of the entire building, each room and floor, Sloth’s lair and even the bathrooms. It was intricately detailed.
“Cool,” Jaycee said, impressed. “Where are we?”
Will pointed to one of the many corridors, which was still much closer to Sloth than they liked. “There’s the room, it says Time Warp Room. Gee, original. Anyway, we need to take this path, cut through the Café. Oh, and definitely grab a bite to eat — I’m starving!”
“Oh, yeah. For sure.”
“Right, so through there, now there’s a lot of construction going on over there, past the Café, we might be spotted, three lone bandits wandering around, somewhat fishy. So we’ll have to be careful not to draw attention to —” Will was cut off abruptly by a loud screeching noise right above them.
“Alarm!” Sebastian yelled over the wailing.
Looking panicky, Will typed a few more things into the keyboard, withdrew his key and stepped back again. The screen vanished and the wall opened into another corridor.
“Oh, well, no food for us then. Let’s go!” He grinned boyishly, putting his key back in his pocket and taking off down the hall at a run, closely followed by the others.
They ran in silence for a few minutes, following him as he rounded corners, opened doors, and everything was looking fine until —
*THWACK!* Sebastian couldn’t stop himself as fast as the other two could, and he sent them flying through a large set of doors and into the crowded Café. He tripped and crashed into a waiter, causing his tray of mushy peas to spill all over Jaycee, who screamed and backed into Will, who fell face-first into a bowl of chicken soup.
Horrified, Sebastian turned and bolted as fast as his little legs would carry him, Jaycee and Will at his heels. They could hear the outrage in the Café, the sound of pounding footsteps behind them drove them faster still. They didn’t stop to sneak through the construction site— they just kept on running. Even when they accidentally knocked over a ladder and were pinned under a couple of over-weight Grundos, they shoved them off and leapt to their feet again.
Only when their lungs were on fire, only when their legs had turned to jelly, did they stop in an empty corridor to catch their breath. They stood gasping for several minutes, barely audible above the alarm blaring out of the loudspeakers.
When they could breathe again, they set off at a brisk walk down the hall, stopping to read the plaques on the doors to make sure they were going in the right direction. Will was holding his ears delicately and Jaycees eyes were half-closed. Sebastian was worried she might be sleepwalking; she wasn’t blinking at all.
Eventually they came to a stop in front of a large flight of stairs, spiraling downwards. To their immense disappointment, they couldn’t see an elevator anywhere, and were forced to jog down the stairs, which seemed to go on for miles. Finally it came to a set of double doors.
Sebastian opened them a crack and peered inside, but all he could see was darkness. He motioned for the others to have a look, and then they crept inside cautiously.
They strained their eyes to see in the black room, feeling along the walls for a light switch. When they didn’t find one, however, they tiptoed further away from the door. They kept going until they reached a low rail, holding them back. They held onto it and leaned over, still unable to make anything out, when suddenly the room lit up. They stayed shrouded in darkness, while over the railing was illuminated in dancing colours. They swirled — every color of the rainbow — all around... no, it can't be...
The Defenders stood, seemingly frozen, their eyes wide and their mouths open, staring up at them, unmoving, unblinking...
The lights circled around their ankles, around and around...
Jaycee screamed, horrified. The sound echoed through the entire room, bouncing off the black walls and reverberating around them. Sebastian clamped his hand over her mouth, but inside he felt like screaming too. To start screaming and never stop...
“I wondered when you would finally make your way here,” came a cold, drawling voice from behind them.
They spun around so fast they nearly fell over the edge and onto the Defenders. In front of them were ten robot Guards, with Sloth standing with his head held high in front of them, his cape lopsided as though he had thrown it on hastily without time to straighten it. He smiled at them, crueler than a dinner of cold asparagus.
“How long did that take you? Much longer than I thought. I overestimated you.” He shook his head sadly. “You embarrass me, Bandits.”
“What did you do to them?” Jaycee asked, her voice a lot higher then usual.
“Why don’t you tell me?”
“Don’t play games with us, Sloth!” Sebastian said, his eyes flashing with hatred.
“Well, aren’t you a little cranky. Fine. Fine. I froze them,” Sloth said simply, standing on his tiptoes to see over the edge, smiling with pride.
“How so?” Will asked, narrowing his eyes.
“Don’t try and pretend you actually understand the technology behind it!” Sloth scoffed. “But if you must know, I used my awesome Time Machine. See, it was simple, after you broke time, I just channeled the energy from my teleport beam into my ray gun, which was already at the right frequency to accept the unfamiliar technology. So my ray gun became my time machine, and all thanks to you. I used its buttons and dials to fine-tune it, and I was unstoppable. I fixed my teleport link, went to the Defenders HQ, and froze time. Of course, you wouldn’t have even noticed, you were also frozen, in the Lost Desert, I think. So I transported them all back here, and unfroze the world again. So technically, no time had passed at all.”
“And you froze their individual timelines, so the world keeps on going but they are stuck. Lost in time,” Will said, looking thoughtful.
Sloth looked a little impressed, despite himself.
“So you do understand?” he said, raising an eyebrow. “Well, then. Good for you. Just knowing won't help the Defenders. No one can! Mwuahahaha!” He cackled evilly.
“When I say now, we have to jump over the edge,” Will whispered to Sebastian and Jaycee, carefully keeping his face expressionless.
“But it’s so far down! We’ll break our legs!” Jaycee hissed back.
“Aim for the Defenders. They are time-locked; if we land in the middle of them, we should be invisible. We’ll be in a different dimension,” Will explained, keeping a close eye on Sloth. Although this was unnecessary, for he had been so busy cackling he forgot to breathe and was now choking, not paying them the slightest bit of attention.
“Will we be frozen?”
“No. Their individual timelines have been stopped, and they are bound by the time machine. The only way we can get frozen is if we are shot by the ray gun. Ok. NOW!”
They leapt over the side while Sloth was busy trying to breathe. They landed right in the middle of the Defenders, feeling the colored lights swirling around their feet like fog. And all at once — everything stopped. They couldn’t hear Sloth, the Guards, anything. When they looked back up at them, their vision was slightly blue, with strange lines moving in front of their eyes.
“Are we dead?” Jaycee asked, her eyes screwed tightly shut.
“No, we’re fine. We’re hidden from view, but if we leave this spot we’ll become visible again,” Will said, peering into the face of 00 Hog. “Gee, they look funny up close, don’t they?”
“So where’s the time machine? How do we stop Sloth? How do we unfreeze the Defenders? Do you think they’ll reward us in Neopoints?”
“Sebastian— breathe,” Jaycee said, looking around. “Over there, look, locked in that glass cabinet. It’s the ray gun!”
“Alright, so we run out, break the glass, get the gun, and...?”
“Get Will to work it,” Sebastian said solemnly.
“Ok, guys, this is it. Good luck!”
“Ready, 3, 2, 1, now!”
They ran out of the time warp and over to the cabinet, pounding on it with their fists. A slight crack appeared and slowly grew larger and larger until—
*CRASH* The ear-splitting sound of shattering glass echoed in their ears.
Will reached in and pulled the gun off its stand, holding it delicately.
“Brilliant!” he breathed in awe, cradling it in his arms.
“Ok, Will, anytime now. Unfreeze ‘em.”
“I can't just go pushing random buttons, Sebastian!” Will said, exasperated. “I might blow a hole in time and space!” He examined the gun for a few moments before nodding. “I think it’s this dial here,” he said, pointing. “I think it will reverse the time lock.”
Jaycee and Sebastian cringed in anticipation as he slowly turned the dial...
To be continued...