Daylight's Dirge: Part Eight
Drifting in the darkness, Pariel-Sloth pushed away from the desk. All the computers had shut down, as had the communication systems. Everything except the doors, the lifts, and the life-support systems. The hiss of recirculating air seemed louder than usual, without the buzz of lights and echo of boots on the metal floors. Moving through the empty corridors with gentle pushes on the walls, Pariel-Sloth didn’t bother keeping track of up or down. All that mattered was that he was moving toward the lifts.
As he reached the first one, he heard hushed voices. With a silent sigh, the Ruki turned and headed for the next one. It wouldn’t do for him to be seen by anyone else. Not until he reached Valka’s headquarters. He knew where they were, of course. Valka hadn’t bothered to relocate after the Resistance took over the space station. Level 8, sector 4, sub-sector 5. Pariel-Sloth was actually rather impressed by how well they’d hidden it from normal means of detection during the time they’d tried to take over. He’d found them using his net, but had assumed they were nothings.
Now, however, they weren’t trying to hide at all. Riding a lift to level 8, Pariel-Sloth smiled at the irony. He was taking over the space station in a very similar way to how they’d originally taken over. Subterfuge, skill, and some amount of luck. The lift doors opened, and Pariel-Sloth pushed off, sailing to the top of the huge room that the lift opened into. Grazing the ceiling, Pariel-Sloth rebounded back down to one of the exits, moving easily in the void.
Inside the corridors, it was simply a matter of making sure his momentum stayed mostly in the right direction, and then correcting every time he was about to hit the walls. Very efficient, so long as one knew where they were going. And Pariel-Sloth knew exactly where he was going. Grabbing hold of the handle to the Resistance headquarters, he jerked to a halt, opening the door. Inside, battery-powered lights were strung up everywhere. Pariel-Sloth laughed, seeing them. It looked like Christmas.
“Did you pretty it up for me?” he asked the empty room, looking around. “Thank you very much, Resistance. I never knew you cared.” With a bow, he blew a kiss to the room. Pushing off, he headed to the only door. The Resistance, though clever, had no idea how easy it was to navigate their home. Each door led to only a few other choices, and there was usually only noise coming from one of those choices. When Pariel-Sloth finally caught up to the Resistance, he was in the heart of their headquarters and knew it.
The Resistance was smaller than he’d thought it would be, now that they had control. Only a hundred or so of them were crowded into the room. A green Ixi floated in the middle, barking out orders. Near him, Pariel-Sloth thought he could see the Grundo and Cybunny who had caused this whole mess in the first place.
His hands clenched. “Would you like to know what happened?” he asked, projecting his voice into the mass. “Why the power is down, but the lifts still work?” Pushing off the wall, Pariel-Sloth drifted towards Valka. “Or perhaps why I, obviously not one of you, would come here, offering to explain? Which shall it be first, my friends?”
Pariel-Sloth grabbed an orange Ogrin’s arm, spinning both of them. “You, young sir? What question do you ask of me?” Leaving the Ogrin sputtering, Pariel-Sloth sent them flying in opposite directions, catching another arm, this one purple and feathered. “Or you, lady, what do you wish to know?” The Lenny shook him off, and Pariel-Sloth laughed as he slowly made his way to Valka.
Reaching the mustachioed Ixi, Pariel-Sloth bowed. “So honored to meet you at last, Commander. You’ve done so much for the world.” His voice dripped with sarcasm, but he doubted that the Ixi would notice. “So much for this station.”
“Why are you here?” Valka demanded.
Placing a hand on his chest, Pariel-Sloth assumed an expression of pain. “I’m hurt! You don’t even wonder who I am or how I got here. You simply ask the question which has the most obvious answer.”
“And that is...?”
“I came to see you, of course!” Pariel-Sloth spread his arms wide, not caring if it made him spin. “Such a silly thing to ask. Next question?”
Valka grabbed Pariel-Sloth’s shoulder. “I want to know who you are and why the power’s off, since you implied that you knew why that happened.”
“Of course.” Pariel-Sloth yanked Valka’s hand off, staring the green Ixi in the eyes. “I am your enemy, and I shut the power off so that I could retake what is mine.”
Eyes widening, Valka opened his mouth.
Before the Ixi could say anything, Pariel-Sloth drew Valka close, placing a hand over the Ixi’s mouth. “My name is Sloth. Pariel-Sloth. You do not need to know how I survived or why I am in the body of a green Ruki. Know that it is true, Valka, and that I will now destroy what you worked so hard to create.”
Throwing the Ixi away, Pariel-Sloth let himself spin out into the chaos. His army had done their work well. They were in the gathering room already, and as Pariel-Sloth threw Valka away, they revealed themselves. The agents Tai and Laurel had planted did their work without as much notice, but caused more pain. Pariel-Sloth could see all of them, hearing the stars outside sing their song in voices that penetrated the space stations thick walls and deep inside the levels.
A laser beam shot past him, and Pariel-Sloth hissed, grabbing the charm that still hung around his neck. He couldn’t let any harm come to it. His body would deal with whatever happened to it, but he could never replace the charm. Placing a foot against the nearest surface, Pariel-Sloth sent himself towards the exit. The guards floating to guard it saw him coming and did their best to clear a path for him. Pariel-Sloth raised a hand in acknowledgement as he passed them, rebounding off the floor.
Behind him, the fight would last until the Resistance acknowledged him. Until them, Pariel-Sloth could make himself more useful in the communications area of the headquarters. Grabbing the arm of the first person he came across, Pariel-Sloth demanded directions. He got them, though they were given in a weak stammer. Tossing the useless coward aside, Pariel-Sloth followed the path he’d been given, reaching the communications room without any trouble.
A spotted Lupe sat inside the room, calm blue-gray eyes staring at him. “You move quickly. And change even more quickly.”
“Move,” Pariel-Sloth growled. “I have something to do.”
“You always do.” Fideus rose, pushing himself to a different chair. “Why do you think I waited here?”
“Because you love to interfere?” Gripping the seat with his legs, Pariel-Sloth tapped commands into the computer, re-opening the public announcement system, but only for his use. “You don’t usually just pop by to see how I’m doing.”
“And I can’t just break my own patterns, is that it?”
“Fideus, leave me alone.” Pariel-Sloth turned to face the Lupe. “You don’t do anything except annoy me.”
“That’s not my intention, you know.” Fideus shrugged, red and gold robes floating in the zero-g environment. “I simply wish to make sure you don’t make the wrong decisions.”
“How about leaving me and letting me address the station?” Pariel-Sloth asked, crossing his arms. “It’s rather difficult to do that with you talking to me.”
Fideus laughed. “Very well, little brother. I will be back once you’ve finished finding out how much of a headache this will give you.”
Before Pariel-Sloth could say anything else, Fideus waved a hand and light filled the room. Pariel-Sloth thought he heard the soft sounds of Fideus propelling himself out of the room, but with the light and his own curses, he couldn’t tell. When the light faded, he stared at the spot where Fideus had been until the afterimages faded, trying to figure out what had just happened.
At last, he turned back to the communications console and pressed the button that would allow his voice to resound through the station. “My name is Pariel-Sloth,” he began. “I will be perfectly clear: I do not expect any of you to believe that I am Sloth reborn. Not yet. I have all the time I need to prove that to you.
“Know this, however: I am indeed Sloth, whether or not you believe it, and I am in control of the Virtupets Space Station. I know all the secrets of the computer net, whether it’s the civilian net or the one the hackers believe they created. I know their secrets. Why? Because I created both of them.
“In fact, I created the entire station. There are no places to hide from me, if I wish to find you. Understand that I can hunt you down if you displease me, that I can find any of you if you speak against me. I will be fair. I will be kind, if you allow me to be. But if you try to take my throne once more, I will not be kind. I cannot. I was promised a chance to rule Neopia. Retaking this space station is simply the beginning.
“I will not lie to you if I can avoid it. I will destroy whole lands of Neopia if I need to. I will ravage the entire world, if that is what it takes. I would rather not. Neopia is beautiful, and the people will accept me more easily if I don’t make their home into ashes to prove a point. The point I am willing to destroy to prove? That I can rid the world of all the disorder that resides within it, if I am given the chance and the ability to make a difference in the world.
“You are simply the first step in a larger journey. I’m sorry for the discomfort I have had to cause to prove my point. The power and gravity will return at noon, 1200 hours. I will address you again at that time.
“My name is Lord Pariel-Sloth. I thank you for your time.”
Pariel-Sloth leaned back in his chair, trying not to think about what the future would bring. There was a saying from Shenkuu that spoke of not wishing for things, simply for fear of the wishes being granted. World domination had always been his goal. Always for peace. Always for order. And now that he had the opportunity, he was worrying.
With a sigh, he rose, pushing off the desk to float back to the main gathering space of the Resistance. No matter what the future brought, he would face it without fear. He had been promised a chance to rule, and he meant to hold Fideus to that promise.