Revolution Undercloud: Part Ten
Everything linked back to Sloth. Lennies, Grundos, Faeries... It all still came down to Sloth! He was that hidden puppeteer, controlling the situation from afar. The Lennies weren’t really the bad guys at all! It was Sloth; it had always been Sloth. He was the villain, forever and always.
And Cipher had bought his little act hook, line, and sinker.
Fury mounting like a tidal wave, he sent the signal to the dark nova. In a brilliant display of purple and black light, the nova pounced and exploded.
Wind, fierce and biting, suddenly raged. It was almost as if a typhoon or a hurricane was unleashed in the small space of the storage room. With a yell, Skye tackled him again, saving him from being squished by a falling bookshelf.
Struggling to his feet, pulling against the wind that was tugging at his half-furled wings, Cipher shoved at Skye, aiming for the door.
“Let’s get out of here!”
But as another blast nearly flattened him, they were forced to lay low, ducking as close to the ground as possible. The wind was unimaginably fierce, if the creak and moans of the floorboards were any indication.
The whirlwind stopped.
Sloth was there, a little ruffled, sure, but very, very angry. If Cipher thought that Sloth had unleashed the full brunt of his anger on Larry, he was sadly mistaken. The murderous expression on Sloth’s face was downright terrifying.
“Cipher, you will regret being born!”
Absolutely frightened, but refusing to be cowed, Cipher calmly turned tail. “I’d regret letting you get away with your crimes more.”
His voice never shook, never waved. He felt strength flow. Courage. Bravery. A strange sensation of giddiness.
“Pretty words in your time of greatest peril,” Sloth sneered. He trained his blaster on Cipher’s scaly length. “You realize that one press of my button and you are gone. Wiped from existence.”
At this, Cipher suddenly grinned. “Not if Skye can help it!” The next several seconds went by in a blur. Skye, who had been inching away, gave a mighty shove, and sent the last standing potion shelf collapsing toward Sloth. The ensuring cursing and flying dust was enough for the two semi-heroic Neopets to make their escape from the room.
“I know what we have to do,” Cipher told Skye hastily. “We have to destroy the Undercloud. That’s the only way. It’ll get rid of the potion and the faerie trap. We might not be able to off Sloth, but that’s another fight for another day!”
Skye had a hopeless gleam in her eye. “Blow up this place? How in Neopia?”
“The potion,” Cipher said with absolute conviction. “The potion is highly unstable. I’m sure it’s volatile enough to cause a decent explosion. I’ll need you to meet the Faeries as they come. To warn them.”
Skye’s look turned into one of horror. “But- you’re crazy! You’ll never get yourself away from that blast radius!”
A strange emotion passed over Cipher’s face- it caused Skye’s stomach to knot with anxiety.
“It’s okay.” His voice was but a whisper. “I’ll find a way to make it out. You’ll see.”
Skye didn’t see, but she said no more. Her eyes filled with tears, and she turned away, sniffling. “It’s all my fault,” she said miserably. “If only I was strong enough to resist Larry’s spell.”
“Where’s the ultranova, Skye?” Cipher gently urged to her heed the task at hand. “The ultranova is the way to destroy the potion.”
To Cipher’s utter surprise, Skye (with a loud sniffle) reached behind her back and pulled out the ultranova that she had found in the meteor. “I never got the chance to give it to Larry,” she confided. “The spell wore off, and the ultranova wasn’t what they needed anyway.”
“Why’d Larry make you get it then?”
“Sloth,” she reminded him. “I bet Sloth did it since he knew you were going to be at the meteor. He wanted to trick you further.”
Cipher carefully pulled the ultranova from her grasp. “Go find the faeries,” he said again. “You have to stop them from entering the Undercloud at all costs. Just in case... just in case I fail.”
Skye gave him a big bear hug, crystal tears splashing through the air. “I will. YOU need to come back to me. Alive. Pull another miracle out of your Hissi scales. You have to!”
Then she was gone, sprinting down the long corridor.
Cipher felt sort of numb, but a second look at the ultranova steeled his nerves. All he knew was that he had to do this. To defeat Sloth. For the world.
‘Why me?’ was his silent question before he too sprinted off. Whereas Skye was running toward the open skies, Cipher was running deeper into the dark Undercloud. There they were, best of friends, heading in opposite directions.
Sloth had been mysteriously absent- Cipher had expected that he would have stormed after them as soon as he was free of the shelf, but no matter. Cipher knew where Sloth was now. The potion room, undoubtedly, where he knew Cipher would soon head.
He ran past dozens of doors and hallway branches, but none of them radiated that horrid stench that made him sneeze. His fine-toned Hissi senses guided him faithfully, maybe for the last time. It wasn’t long until his senses were attacked by the vicious smell of concoctions. His gag reflex was severely put to the test, but he managed to control the urge.
Shoving through the last door that barricaded him from that awful potion, Cipher was not surprised in the least to see Sloth and an army of Lennies in wait.
“Cipher, Cipher! How nice of you to finally join us!” Sloth seemed to be in a better mood. This put Cipher on high alert- for Sloth was only ever happy when victory was at his fingertips. Behind him, the purple-ish potion simmered quietly.
“Back down, Sloth,” Cipher bluffed. “The faeries will know what you are up to soon. It won’t be long until they have you behind bars!”
“You think bars will hold me? Not a chance! Larry? Seize him, will you?” This last bit was said almost lazily. Larry, back in the form of a Lenny, lunged at him.
It was here that Cipher did what he did best: He flew. He flew through Larry’s grasp. He flew around and around the room, ducking, rolling, avoiding the shots from blasters. As Sloth trigger-happily attempted to bring him down, he was forced to fly ever more intricately. But Cipher flew. He flew like he had never flown before. Through the multitudes of defenses that Sloth had built up around the potion, through the wards that would have any ordinary Neopet writhing on the ground, through the ghastly poisonous fumes that slowly permeated into the air... Cipher flew with the potion as the destination in mind.
Cipher’s mind only belatedly registered that he had thrown the ultranova for all he was worth. He was finally surrounded- the sheer number of Lennies had bogged him down- forced him closer to the ground. But as soon as the ultranova left his hand, all eyes left him and tracked the shining path of the blazing star.
Sloth shouted a villainous “NOOOOOO..!” and attempted to block it with his body, but he was much too late to stop the shooting, brilliantly, shining star of light. It entered the potion like a fish into water- hardly a splash.
The room went silent.
Then the room began to shake. Rumble. Thunder.
There was a muffled sound- so loud that Cipher couldn’t hear it. A single heat wave. The potion exploded. The last thing Cipher saw was Sloth rapidly teleporting away. His last, vague thought was the color of sky blue. And then he knew no more; there was white light.
From outside, Skye and the Faeries watched with horror (for the faeries fascination) as the sinister looking Undercloud trembled like a leaf in the wind- before crumbling along the edges. The cloudy wisps thinned and disappeared, while the bricks that made up the interior structure exploded into sand. Hundreds of Lennies were madly rushing from the collapsing building, covering the sky with their multi-colored feathers. Among them, Skye couldn’t see the tell-tale shine of a Hissi’s scales. Her heart nearly stopped.
Time went on.
“We are here today to celebrate the contributions of one very honorable Hissi, who even though never saw himself as a hero, wasn’t afraid to take up the mantle. Today, we remember Cipher, who saw the dark, fought the dark, and eventually defeated the dark. But he is not with us today, our hero was also taken by the dark. Let us all remember Cipher and his giving nature,” Queen Fyora finished to resounding applause, but Skye wasn’t listening.
She was looking hard into the sky- looking and waiting.
Somewhere out there, in the tall heights of the Shenkuu Mountains, covered by debris, several shadow black feathers turned blue. There was a slight movement. From the passerby’s perspective, a shadow can be seen moving along the ground at rapid pace. Then something blocked out the sun, and then the story ends.
Is that our hero flying amongst the Skies? Or is it perhaps the mere shadow of his presence?