Undercover Defenders - Swamped: Part Six
10:16 AM – Main Room, The Undercover Defenders of Neopia Headquarters, the 25th day of the month of Swimming, three days after arriving in Bogshot
We arrived at Headquarters earlier in the morning after spending three days and nights in Bogshot. We may have still smelled slightly of swamp gas after directly coming back to Headquarters from Bogshot, but other than that, I was glad to be back. The sounds of the beeping computers and the chatter of Filers and Informants were starting to sound much like home to me. But even though I had gotten over the utter absurdity of the mission, Levi certainly wasn’t planning to any time soon.
From the moment we arrived, Levi starting pranking anyone with the vicinity of herself in order to relieve her frustration. After causing multiple filing cabinets in the filing room to spray custard, chairs to collapse on unsuspecting co-workers, and to somehow managing to paste Adella’s special Defenders of Neopia coffee mug to the ceiling, she had been apprehended by me, Adella, and Evander, and locked into the conference room in order to await further punishment. I could understand her frustration, but it was her fault for doing such crazy things.
After bringing the Bogberries to the village, we ended up staying in Bogshot an additional two days in order to wait for Jeik to be cured of the plague so we could take him in. It was extremely boring to wait in the village and also having to lie about why we came to the village – after all, no one knows the Undercover Defenders even exists. We even had to use false names in the village to keep our cover. This made me realize just how discreet we had to be, just to make sure we weren’t discovered.
Yet even with all the frustration, with smelling like moldy cheese and having mud rubbed uncomfortably in our fur for days, it still didn’t give Levi a reason to go berserk.
I sighed heavily as I unlocked and opened the door to the conference room. I wanted to ask her some question that I’d been wondering for the last few days.
The conference room was a plain room with white walls with windows on one wall showing the main room outside. Fluorescent lights shone from the ceiling, occasionally giving a small flicker. Dominating the room was a table which ran the length of the room with hard chairs surrounding it. Levi sat at the end of the table, in the chair farthest from the door, leaning back gracefully and staring at the ceiling with indifference.
“Am I suspended?” she asked.
“No, but she said you definitely have suspended payroll.”
“Fabulous,” she said bitterly. “Neopets in this building just can’t take a joke, can’t they?”
I sighed again, shutting the door behind me and sitting in a chair near Levi’s. “You’re lucky Adella didn’t punish you more, Levi, but Adella was really pleased with the information on Malkus Vile. She’s already sent a few Agents to his last known whereabouts.”
“Why are you in here?” Levi said suddenly, eyes narrowed in suspicion. “Is Adella makin’ you do something?”
“No, no,” I said quickly. “I just wanted to ask you something.”
“Fire away,” she said unenthusiastically. “Nothing better to do in here anyway.”
“You gave me that thick smoke bomb without me noticing in Bogshot, right?”
“Duh,” she snorted. “It’s not like you had something useful. Bring better battle weapons next time so you won’t have to resort to throwing heavy literature.”
“I will, I will,” I said, waving my hand airily. “But you also saved that Crokabek when it was falling from the tree and you even let it go.”
“So?” Levi said with her eyebrows up haughtily. “Get to the point already. I hate it when others beat around the bush.”
“I don’t think you’re as heartless as you claim,” I said frankly. “Not at all.”
There was a silence. “Seg... are you alright?” she said, falling forward in her chair with a crash and pressing her paw to my forehead. “Did you hit your head when you were running away from Kastraliss?”
“I wasn’t running, I was dodging,” I said, slightly flustered.
“Sure you were.”
“Anyway,” I said hurriedly as Levi grinned evilly as she sat back in her chair, “you really aren’t that bad. Even though you said you hated everything about helping the village you still did it. For someone as stubborn as you, that’s really odd. And I noticed when we gave that nurse the berries, you looked slightly relieved when she began making the cure. Then every time I was in trouble, you helped me out, like when I was really high in the tree you gave me the bomb. And you also helped me escape from the Sludgies and Kastraliss. If you were truly heartless, you would’ve refused to help the village and me.”
For a moment, Levi stared at me, incredulous. Then a second later, she burst into raucous laughter, nearly folding over in half in her chair from laughing so hard. I expected this to happen but I still felt the heat rise to my face.
“Heh, heh, heh!” she laughed, almost completely out of breath. “For your information, I went berry hunting because I knew we couldn’t take Jeik in because he had the plague and was unfit to travel! Heh, heh! And also, I saved your Xweetok tail so many times because my neck was at stake as well! Heh, heh, heh, heh! Lastly, I was relieved the cure was made because we could finally get out of Swampville and its entirety! Heh! What are you trying to call me, caring? Heh, heh, heh!”
“Another theory,” I said, trying to ignore the never-ending laughter. “You mock others when you’re trying to hide what you’re really like.” However, this phrase only incited more laughter to the point I started shaking with rage.
“Okaaay,” Levi said, gasping for breath. “Hey Seg, I know you haven’t been here long enough to know this but this is just how I am. There is no “inner kindness” or “how I really feel” stuff. I pride myself with being straightforward with others, and saying anything directly to your face. And, being honest, your theories... are really, really terrible!”
“Being honest with you then,” I said, sharply, “I know it’s not true. You aren’t heartless and you’re just lying.”
“Maybe I am,” she said cryptically. “Maybe I’m not. You may never know.”
“I’ll find out,” I said, determined. “Someday, sometime.”
“Sounds like an awfully tough challenge to me,” Levi said, smirking. “Maybe even harder than finding three berries in a swamp! Oh, and speaking of someday.... You know your performance on that mission wasn’t exactly spectacular. Awful really, for honesty’s sake.”
I flushed at her words. I agreed with what she was saying. I spent most of the time in Bogshot messing up, from the time the Crokabek stole the Bogberries from me to the Kastraliss fight, which wasn’t really a fight since I only dodged the Hissi the whole time. I really wasn’t prepared for anything that came our way during the entire mission. I felt ashamed of myself.
Seeing my face, Levi let out a “tsk, tsk .”
“What?” I said, more defensively than I meant to sound.
Levi smiled, amused. “Another tip for the new Agent – always be prepared. You just had a firsthand experience of the randomness of a mission. You need to always be on guard, always ready for the next step ahead – actually, you should be about ten steps ahead of the game, that’s much better. Don’t think about it, just perform. I’m the best Agent at handling unexpected situations so I know what I’m talking about.”
“Still,” I said. “I wouldn’t carry around fireworks and tornados.”
She chuckled heartedly. “Well, it worked, didn’t it? That’s the point!”
I groaned and slumped in my chair. I hated it when Levi was right. “Guess this means I need more training.”
“You need much training, young little Moach, to reach the level of Master Levi. Actually, you can’t catch up to me so just don’t bother.”
“No, I’ll train,” I said, a new flame of determination burning inside of me. “Then I can become a better Agent than you are!”
“Good luck with that,” Levi said sarcastically, rolling her eyes. “Maybe you can be better than Evander but you’re getting absolutely nowhere near me.”
“You really think that?”
“I do.” She nodded. “Although it’ll take you years if we consider your performance on your supertastic Bogshot mission.”
“...Good point,” I said grimly.
“Thanks; I do make a few good ones every day.”
“Well,” I said, standing up and stretching my arms. “I better work on the Bogshot mission report for Jory.”
“Urgh,” said Levi. “I haven’t even done the one from a few weeks ago.”
“I hate them.”
“Still your fault.”
“Do you actually like doing them?” she asked in an incredulous voice.
“Not really,” I admitted, “but it’s a part of helping Neopia, right?”
“Goody two shoes.”
“No, Levi, I’m normal, unlike you,” I said, reaching the door and opening it.
“Ah... good point,” she said, nodding her head to herself. “I’m definitely not normal.”
“Levi, Adella said she’s going to keep you locked in here until lunch for the safety of everyone.”
“I’m not dangerous,” said Levi grumpily.
“Later, Levi,” I said, leaving the room, and locking the door.
“Seriously!” I heard her call through the wall. “I’m not!”
I walked over towards my desk, plopped in my chair, and began to think.
I really believed that Levi was caring in some way. Even though she thought she had explained herself with her reasoning, I could still notice a few things amiss. Like on our first mission when she recognized me as her partner... and just now she gave me advice about improving myself on missions; I don’t think she even realized it. Most importantly, she told me a fraction about herself when she talked about Evander in Bogshot. I had never heard of her talk about her past, and everyone who knows her claims it’s a mystery. That’s really something.
There are some things that you just need to know in life... Levi was just one of those things. If I was going to work with Levi, I just had to know. I felt even somewhat entitled to the truth. I may not know much about the secretive Acara now, but I believed, someday, I would know what made her tick.
“So,” Kane said from across from me, jerking me out of my thoughts. He still had custard in his fur from the filing room prank. “Why did you go talk to the Master of Chaos?”
“I just wanted to ask her something,” I said. “Of course, the answer I got was just her insane laughter.”
“Figures,” said Simen as he compared information in files.
“She does laugh so strange,” commented Prudence from next to Kane.
“Yeah, but I actually think—“
However, I couldn’t tell them what I thought as the seat of my chair had collapsed, causing me to fall through with a bang, legs dangling in the air. I took that as a sign maybe I should keep my theories to myself, just for now.
“You too, huh?” said Kane as Simen helped me out of my undignified position. “Adella made everyone check their chairs after the fifteenth pet fell through this morning but I guess yours got missed. Dumb Acara.”
As I got up, supported by Simen, I noticed through the windows of the conference room that the silver Acara in question was currently laughing herself to death in the conference room, the sound completely muffled by the thick walls. However, for some reason, I wasn’t angered by her prank. I was too revved up, not only waiting to become stronger than her but also to understand what Levi was really like. And to help Neopia, of course. When it comes to Levi, all my goals seem to blend together, just waiting for the day for all them to be fulfilled.