The Rise and Fall of Dr. Boochigald: A Hero's Tale - Part Seven
Also by a_greenparrot
Tuesday, 5th Day of Collecting, Present Day,
Somewhere on Virtupets Space Station
“Htols somsoc suxalrep etadana ceiba erielam oigana tcaveneb mutilutref neton somsoc suxalrep etadana," Boochi chanted.
The small pink Bruce had his eyes shut tight and was grasping at the Space Faerie's token. He had returned to Virtupets Space Station and was now alone in a small metal room.
Suddenly, Boochi's incantation took effect. The token began to radiate brightly and spout mauve smoke, illuminating the room with an eerie purple glow. Boochi dropped the token in surprise and automatically shielded his face, not knowing what would happen. The light grew brighter and more smoke billowed into the room before the token rose out of Boochi’s hands. Boochi closed his eyes and flinched, moving away from the floating token. It hovered at a low altitude for what seemed like an hour, but then shot up and levitated in the centre of the room.
Then it all stopped. No smoke, no glow – no nothing. Boochi cracked open his eye, confused. Just as he began to approach the token, a deafening roar filled the room, and a blinding white light seemed to burst from the token, still in mid-air. Boochi screamed, and ran to the side of the room, hiding behind a trash can. A moment later, he heard the token drop to the ground. Gazing out from the trash can, Boochi observed a giant, imposing figure look around, before spotting Boochi. He turned to him, and moved closer.
“Good evening, Dr. Boochigald.” The figure grinned evilly.
Sloth was back.
Hero found himself lying on his back, staring up at darkness. Pain pulsed through his body like a heartbeat. He commanded himself to lift his head up slowly, aching with each small movement. Eventually, he was able to force his way through the pain enough to look around.
He was in a dungeon, no doubt in some part of the space station. The walls were metallic, and there was nothing in the room but a small sink, an old mattress – which he was lying on - and a tattered rug.
Slowly, the metaphorical fog that filled his mind and clouded his senses cleared, and he was able to think clearly and recall everything about the past few weeks. He gained control of his body, and in another painful process, he pulled his whole body up and stood next to the mattress. He reached for his reflector and gazed it at; regretfully he remembered how it had broken. Hero’s attention was drawn to the only way out of the cell – an archway covering the entire length of the room, but blocked by a series of red, horizontal lasers shooting from one side to the other.
Suddenly, Hero was startled by a voice from behind him, "Ah Hero, I'm glad to see that you're finally awake.”
Hero turned to see Captain, sitting with his back against the wall under the sink, cradling his right arm.
"Captain, what's going on?" Hero asked. "I remember seeing you with Boochi and—"
"Yes, I'm terribly sorry all that had to happen," Captain sighed. "You see, Boochi came into my office and overpowered me. I had no choice – he overheard your call to me while you were in the temple and made me take him to you. I refused, but he threatened to turn me into a baby, and I couldn’t deal with that. I’m sorry.”
"I understand, Captain, you don’t need to explain," stated Hero, "He's a lot more dangerous than he appears. We just need to find a way to get ourselves out of this mess, and stop whatever Boochi’s up to."
"I've got something that might help," Captain exclaimed, drawing a small keycard from his pocket. "I managed to grab it from Boochi when he wasn't looking. The only problem is that the keypad is on the outside... "
"There's got to be another way out," Hero pondered.
The Grundo glanced around the dark room for any sort of exit, eventually observing a rather large grate in the ceiling.
"Ha, they were stupid enough to put a heating duct in the dungeon," Hero laughed. "We can climb out."
Captain let out a long and drawn out sigh.
"I'm afraid that isn’t an option for me," Captain murmured. "That encounter with Boochi has left me in some pain; I'd never be able to climb through there."
"Alright, then just give me the keycard and I'll let you out once I get on the other side," Hero suggested.
"Good thinking, Hero," Captain exclaimed, "but I'll hang onto the keycard for now, you could easily lose it up in those ducts. Don't worry, I'll be able to get it to you once you're on the other side."
Hero was a little uncertain, but didn't want to waste any more time. He nodded, and quickly he grabbed the grate, opening the duct. Then pulled himself into them and began to crawl.
Cautiously, he made his way through the tubes. It was a huge labyrinth, twisting and splitting into alternate tunnels endlessly. He found several points where he could overlook some of the space station, yet he spotted nobody. The station was completely deserted.
“Strange...” Hero commented to himself.
Hero continued to aimlessly crawl through the small ducts, occasionally scraping his knees on a jagged piece of metal. After crawling for what seemed like a century, Hero heard sounds. He moved towards the closest viewpoint, and was shocked at what he saw. A harmless, aging Gelert, chained to the floor, kicking and screaming for freedom. But it did not come. Hero watched as Boochi walked out from the shadows and aimed his ray gun at the Gelert. Without giving it a second thought, Boochi pulled the trigger, and the Gelert was instantly transformed into a baby. Its newly miniscule body slipped straight out from the chains and ran free. Boochi did not give chase, instead turning to face somebody else. Hero could not see who he was looking at, but there was definitely somebody else there. Hero repositioned himself to get a better view of the mysterious silhouette – but at that moment, the metal sheet underneath him buckled, producing a loud, metallic “TWANG” that caused Boochi to look up. Hero pulled back immediately, and quickly began to crawl away again.
“It’s time to save the day.” Hero smirked.
It wasn’t much longer before he came across a way out. He hit the trapdoor with his forearm, and it burst open. He dropped out, and surveyed his surroundings – he was back in the dungeons, but now outside the cell. He called to Captain, who approached the laser gate.
"That was an interesting holiday." Hero grinned. “I see the keypad, but how do you plan on getting the keycard over here?”
"I can just slide it under the bottom laser. It won’t be a problem," Captain explained.
“That’s not a good idea, it’ll be destroyed!” protested Hero.
“No, don’t you see? I’ll slide it under the lasers.”
Captain did not wait for further outcries, sliding the keycard under the gate.
Hero watched as the horizontal lasers turned into a solid sheet of laser that covered the entire entrance, reducing the card to ashes instantly.
Hero punched the wall in fury, grunting, "I warned you."
"I'm sorry, Hero," Captain sighed. "I really thought that would work."
They both looked down at their feet in silence for a moment, before Hero exclaimed, “Hey, the keypad also has a manual code input.”
“What do you mean?” asked Captain, confused.
“It’s simple. The gate can be opened two ways – the card, or by inputting a five number code. If I can put the code in, it’ll set you free!”
“That’s great! But do you know the code?”
“Well... that may be a minor flaw in my idea.”
Hero randomly guessed numbers a few times, numerically spelling words such as “Bruce” and “Space”, but to no avail.
“Think, Hero. What does Boochi have on his mind – what drives him to do what he does?”
Suddenly, inspiration struck, and hero inputted ‘75684’ into the keypad. The keys lit up green, and a whirring sound could be heard as the lasers stopped functioning.
"Amazing, what was the code?" Captain asked, slowly walking out of the cell.
"75684," Hero answered, "Or 'Sloth’."
“Very clever, Hero.”
The two Grundos left the cell, Captain trailing behind with a well-hidden ray gun hidden in his sleeve, just in case something didn't go according to plan...
12 hours ago
Captain was deeply entranced by the document that he was reading - he didn't even notice as a Baby Bruce entered the room. It was not until the door was slammed shut, and a ray gun was pointed in his face that he noticed Boochi.
"Soldier, Warrior, help!" Captain cried.
"I think you'll find that the only thing troubling them is a full diaper," cackled Boochi.
"What do you want?" demanded Captain. “I’ll give you anything, just go away.”
"I'm not here to cause any trouble, I just need a little help; no one else needs to get hurt," explained Boochi.
He took a seat on the arm of Captain’s chair, and put his arm around him.
"You see, I've got a little project going on, and for everything to work out I'll need the Space Faerie Token. Which I happen to know has come into your possession."
"Why should I help you?" sneered Captain.
"Because if you do, you'll be more than just 'Captain,' you'll be a great Neopian Hero," Boochi declared. "You see, I plan on turning Neopia into a paradise of babies, no more adult problems, no more adult judgment! Just a carefree Utopia of Neopets without a problem in the world. All I need is the token to power my machine."
"I see," Captain said, not entirely convinced.
"And if you don't help me you'll know what it's like to be a child again. And not in a good way," Boochi threatened. "Well, perhaps we can come to an agreement," said a more nervous Captain.
"Just tell me where the token is, I’m done with your meaningless games, Grundo. Give it to me. I’m not fooling around," demanded Boochi.
"Okay, okay. But you must promise me something. You know precisely what kind of power is stored in this token. You need to promise me that you will not release him.”
“Of course not, why would I do that?” asked Boochi menacingly.
“To prove yourself to him?”
Boochi sighed. “I’m over that, Captain.”
“Fine, I will show you. I actually keep it closer than you would think," Captain remarked.
The two Grundos made their way through the vacant halls. At first they were slow and stealthy, but it soon became clear that they would not run into any trouble.
"It's unnerving." Captain shuddered. "These halls were meant for people."
"The faster we find Boochi, the faster things can get back to normal," Hero replied. "Now where is that little—"
Hero paused as he heard a noise. It was faint, but with such silence, one could hear a pin drop.
"I think it's coming from the Battledome Arena," Hero remarked. "Let's go have a look."
Hero and Captain rushed through the Space Station towards the vast arena. Upon reaching the gates of the arena, Hero was able to spot a Baby Grundo crying in the center of the Battledome.
"I'm going to help that kid out," Hero said.
"Hero, no!" warned Captain, but without making any significant physical effort to stop him.
Hero ran up to the child, and put his hand on its shoulder – but was shocked to find that his hand went straight through the baby’s shoulder. The image of the Grundo shimmered for a minute, before disappearing completely.
Hero was confused. “What the—“
He was interrupted by a large “BANG” as the gates around the arena slammed down, locking him in. A large Darigan Gelert, standing on its hind legs, moved out of the shadows and into full view. He was equipped with a metallic staff hanging over his back, which he took into his hands. He pressed a button on the side of it, and immediately, bolts of electricity sparked out of the ends of the staff! He spun it around skillfully in his hands, eyeing Hero viciously at the same time.
“How did you get out of your cell?" he snarled.
"Practically just walked out, mate," Hero responded smugly. "Great security you got here; what are you paid, six neopoints an hour? And was that before or after you let two prisoners escape?"
The Gelert was done with words and charged at Hero with rage. He swung the staff at Hero’s knees, which Hero jumped to avoid. The Gelert swung again, this time at Hero’s face – but he was too agile. Before the staff made contact, Hero had spun around and delivered a powerful kick into the Gelert’s stomach, sending him flying backwards. He dropped his staff, which Hero stealthily picked up. The Gelert got up quickly, and charged at Hero on all fours!
Hero did nothing, just stood there, seemingly paralyzed until the Gelert was within a metre of him – at which time Hero swung at its face, as in a game of Kass Basher. The Gelert hurtled backwards, unconscious, and Hero breathed a sigh of relief. He threw the staff onto the ground and headed over to the gate.
"Alright, Captain, now how do I get past these gates?" Hero asked.
"Well, you could try... uh... Hero, look out!" he cried.
But Captain’s warning was too late.
Hero turned to that the Gelert was not quite as unconscious as he thought. The last thing he saw was a huge figure rampaging towards him.
After that, his world cascaded into darkness.
"I keep it closer than you would think," Captain remarked. The Grundo reached up to his shoulder pad and firmly pressed down. The pad released and it fell to the ground, revealing a key inside. Captain grabbed the key and used it to open up a small drawer under his desk. Inside was the small, yet somehow ominous, token.
"Amazing," gasped Boochi. "How did you ever find it?"
"By pure fluke, actually," Captain explained, "I was patrolling in outer space when I found it just floating there. I decided that if I could find it, then any average Joe could take it and accidentally release Sloth. So, I've hidden it here ever since." Boochi reached to grab it, but Captain swiped it away and said, "Not so fast, I need to refresh your memory of the conditions. One, you don't hurt Hero. And two: You. Will. Not. Ever. Release. Sloth."
"Yeah, yeah, I promise," grumbled Boochi. "Now hand it over."
The two stared into each other's eyes for a good while until Captain placed the token into Boochi's miniature hands. "Now, we need pay that Hero a visit," Boochi said. "I need to make sure that he stops interfering."
Hero awakened once more to find that he was in extreme pain. He realized that he had been returned to his old cell, only now he was in complete darkness. The laser barrier had been replaced with a firm metal door and the duct had been sealed up. He glanced around the room for Captain, but he didn't see the Grundo anywhere.
"Well, Hero, you're all out of luck now," he sighed to himself. "There's no way out, and no way to open this stupid door." As he spoke these last words he delivered an angry punch to the door. To his surprise he found that it actually started opening.
“Guess I don’t know my own strength.” Hero smiled, proceeding to kiss his biceps.
“Don’t get too full of yourself.”
Hero looked outside of the door and saw the Baby Gelert from earlier at the keypad – he had opened the door!
"Hey, you're the one that Boochi zapped," Hero said as he remembered witnessing the transformation.
"That's right, I’m just glad I was able to get out of there. You have to stop them," the Gelert explained. "
'Them?' You mean Boochi?" Hero asked, puzzled.
"No, but there's no time to explain. Go see for yourself," the Gelert urged.
The Gelert darted down the hall and Hero followed behind him. As he chased after his new ally he was grabbed and pulled into an alcove. He immediately began to grunt and struggle until he realized that he was fighting with Captain. "You're making enough noise to wake Turmaculus, you fool. Do you want to be caught?" snapped Captain.
"Where have you been?" Hero demanded. "I was captured."
"Sorry, Hero, but ever since that calamity in the Battledome there have been guards everywhere," Captain explained.
"Guards? That's crazy, how could Boochi recruit anyone for his plan aside from fools?" Hero replied. Captain cringed and shrugged.
"Wait a minute," Hero exclaimed, "When I was in the ducts I heard him talking, he was giving a demonstration to someone. Maybe he was talking to these 'guards'."
The realization that the situation was bigger than Boochi struck him. Hard. He knew they were running out of time, and no more could be wasted. He ran from Captain once more, and entered a door he saw the Gelert enter earlier.
"Hero, wait!" Captain cried, but Hero ignored him and opened the door.
10 hours ago
"Remember, you're not allowed to hurt Hero," Captain repeated as he flew the ship to Hero’s location at the temples of Geraptiku.
"Yes, you said that before!" snapped Boochi. "Just take me to him and let me do the rest."
"He really is a great guy, and I don't want to be responsible for getting him injured."
"Look, I’ll be honest. I've dealt with him before and he's always aggressive towards me. He refuses to hear me out! I may need to use some force to stop him from bothering my plans. But I will make sure he’s okay. Just for you,” muttered Boochi, with a hint of sarcasm in his voice.
"Do we really have to do this?" Captain was almost pleading.
"Yes. Hero has his mind on thwarting my plan, and I can't take any more risks," Boochi growled. "Now keep flying; we've got to be close."
Hero opened the door and found that it lead into another hallway. In contrast to the previous one, however, this lead only to a single door. He carefully crept through the doorway, and hid in the shadows. It was from here that he managed to see Boochi. He had found him.
He watched quietly as Boochi approached an enormous ray gun, covered in blinking lights and randomly flailing wire. Boochi moved out of sight, and Hero contemplated approaching the laser. At that moment, however, he was grabbed from behind. A hand was placed over his mouth, and he was jerked backwards. He thought he had been caught, before he heard Captain’s voice, “Don’t go in there, Hero.”
Hero whispered, "Dude, you seriously have to stop grabbing me like that.”
“I’m sorry, but you’re about to put yourself in great danger.”
“What in Fyora are you talking about? I've got to stop this nut before it's too late."
"But someone else is in there," Captain said desperately. "It could be anybody, it's too dangerous. Don't go in there, Hero. We can think of another way to stop him."
"What is with you?" Hero barked. "It's like you're only trying to stop me from saving Neopia."
"That's actually not far from the truth," came the cruel voice of Boochi.
Hero turned around, only to be faced with Boochi holding a small red laser.
"Captain was supposed to keep you busy while I prepared my plan, but he didn't do a very good job," scoffed the Bruce.
"You?" Hero gasped as he stared at Captain, the Grundo he had trusted. "Why would you side with this maniac?"
"Hero... I'm sorry," Captain sighed with a pained expression across his face.
"Well, this is a disaster," Hero remarked dejectedly.
"You don't understand," Captain tried to explain. "I made a deal with him; he agreed not to hurt you and to keep Sloth imprisoned."
A chuckle emanated from the shadows, “And you believed him? Fools.”
Both Captain and Hero looked up, and were shocked and afraid of what they saw.
"And that's Doctor Sloth to you."
Captain's face seemed to contort with too many emotions. "You promised me Sloth had nothing to do with this!" he shrieked. "You lied!"
"And you believed me," cackled Boochi. "You're a fool, and I have no need for fools."
The Bruce changed his aim to Captain and in a flash; Captain had been transformed into a Baby, like many before him. "And now it's your turn," Boochi teased as he returned to Hero. "Any last words?"
Hero glanced around the room frantically. He spotted something through the window, and knew that he would have to stall.
"Just this: I'm glad that you were able to prove that you are smarter than Sloth," he declared.
"What!" Sloth roared. "That's ridiculous, this Bruce is nothing but a pawn in my genius plan."
"Is that so?" hissed Boochi as he turned to face Sloth. "I seem to remember that you rejected my plan; it wasn't good enough for you. But now you can see how wrong you were."
"Admit that I, Dr. Sloth, was wrong? Never!" Sloth snarled. "This plan is as mediocre as ever, and I'm only taking interest so that I can laugh when it fails."
"Liar! My plan is genius," Boochi declared, "and if you don't believe me, then see for yourself."
The Bruce prepared to fire his ray at Sloth who, for an instant, showed terror. Suddenly, the room was thrust into chaos. Everybody’s attention was drawn to the window, as a blinding blast of light burst through it, smashing it to pieces. Hero smiled to himself – the Space Faerie had arrived. Sirens blared in the station to notify its inhabitants to evacuate immediately. Hero moved back and watched as she took flight once more and knocked Boochi – as well as his gargantuan machine – aside. She then changed targets, and hurtled towards Sloth – but Sloth was too strong, easily pushing her down to the ground. He laughed maniacally and moved closer to her, ready to finish the fight off.
Hero watched in shock as Captain – barely a metre tall – stood in Sloth’s way, blocking his access to the Space Faerie.
Sloth chuckled to himself, “What is this, a daycare?”
Sloth picked him up with two fingers and – without any effort at all – tossed him out of the smashed window, into open space.
"Captain!" Hero cried in agony as the Grundo disappeared from sight.
Hero was angry, but felt helpless. He searched himself for some way to stop Sloth, but found only his cracked reflector. He detached it from his arm, and did the only thing he could think of – threw it at Sloth. It failed to reach him, instead hitting the ground and sliding along it. However, it landed directly in front of Sloth’s feet – and he did not see it. He stepped on it, and felt it slip out from under him, causing him to lose his footing. He fell backwards and hit his head on the hard floor, causing him to lose consciousness.
Hero was left speechless, only able to say, “I... can’t believe that just worked.”
Hero rushed to the injured Space Faerie, where she muttered, "The... token."
She pointed, and Hero saw the token that was needed to capture Sloth. He grabbed it and handed it to the Space Faerie.
Slowly she chanted, "A-anadate perlaxus c-cosmos n-n-no-noten fertulitum benevact a-anagio maleire abiec anadate perl-perlaxus cosmos... Sloth!”
Once more, purple smoke was excreted and began to surround the unconscious Sloth. Then, in a flash, Sloth vanished, sucked back into the token.
"Good job, Hero," the Space Faerie said as she stood up. "I'll take this token and make sure that it's put someplace safe."
"Captain!" Hero suddenly realized. "I've got to find him!"
"If you hurry, you can take a spacecraft and search the perimeter." The Space Faerie sighed. "But if he's gone beyond that, I'm afraid that he may have been lost to space." Hero nodded and rushed off. Even though Captain had betrayed him, Hero still felt a strong connection to him - and he had risked his life to try and protect the Space Faerie; he clearly was still a noble hero.
As Hero ran, he caught a glimpse of pink and stopped. He saw Boochi creeping away with his small ray gun. Hero considered stopping him, but he knew that he had to hurry to find Captain; and for the one instance Boochi looked like nothing more than a defenseless baby. Hero kept running.
Hero entered the Resistance chamber and reunited with the Space Faerie.
"I didn't find him," he muttered, barely audibly.
"I'm sorry, Hero," the Space Faerie said. "You realize that you are searching for a traitor, don't you?"
"No," Hero declared boldly. "I'm searching for the Grundo who risked his life to save you. I'm searching for my best friend... and my hero."
"You truly are an honourable friend, Hero. I respect that. I'll keep searching for him." The Space Faerie nodded.
"Thank you," Hero sighed. "But now I have a question for you - how did you know that Sloth was free?"
"Well, you see, I put a spell on the token to alert me whenever Sloth was released," the Space Faerie explained. "I tried to get here as soon as I heard. If it weren’t for you, we wouldn’t have captured them. I owe you great thanks." Hero nodded.
"Now, onto another matter of business," the Space Faerie said, "The Grundo tribe will need a new captain. I need to get your opinion on the Neopet I was considering giving the position to.”
“I’d be more than happy to.”
The Space Faerie grinned.
“It’s you, Hero. I want you to be the new captain. I think you've proved yourself incredibly worthy."
"Me, captain?" Hero gasped. "I... would love to. That would mean the absolute world to me. Thank you so much."
“I’ll make you proud, Captain – for everything you did for me, and for Neopia. I’ll never forget you.”
Ten Years Later
Hero sat at his desk waiting for something exciting to happen. Of course, nothing could compare to the excitement of taking down Sloth and Boochigald, but Hero had enjoyed his fair share of smaller adventures. The Grundo was now Royal and had been involved in many smaller situations over the years. His body was not as youthful and agile as it once was, but his age did not set him back – he was always eager to stop crime in order to save Neopia, and would probably always be.
The door to his office opened, and a Royal Moehog entered – his receptionist.
"Would you like the Neopian Times?" she asked sweetly.
"Yes, thank you," Hero answered as he accepted the paper. He left the room, but didn’t close the door.
Hero leaned back on his chair and browsed the front-page headlines. None really took to his fancy, so he tossed it back down on the desk. However, it slid off the desk and onto the floor, opening to page seven. The headline caught his eye instantly – “Boochi: Public Menace or Generous Samaritan”.
He picked up the paper and continued to read the article.
It was argued that he was helping poor Neopets achieve a colour that they could never afford and that being a baby was much more enjoyable than being an adult. However, there was a bit of fear for his master plan, but most agreed that at this rate it wasn't a threat. Overall the consensus was that Boochi was just a part of society. Hero smiled to himself. He didn't regret allowing Boochi to escape; he had found his place in Neopia.
“I helped him... why couldn’t I help you, Captain?”
Little did Hero know, he was being watched. In the shadows, outside his door, stood an old Grundo. His clothes were torn, his expression symbolising his many experiences in life, and the bruises and scars over his body reflecting the many battles he had once been in.
"You've done good, kid," he sighed as he turned to return to his life in solitude.