Sailing the Stars: Part Two
“Sit down, Lieutenant Scorchio, and let’s hear all about it.”
“Well, your majesty,” replied Shadow, “it’s like this.”
Shadow was talking with Queen Fyora in her private meeting room in the Faerie Palace, telling her all that had happened last night when Dr Sloth had attacked. Captain Bugsy’s sword was hanging over his shoulder in its scabbard.
Shadow gave a slight gulp of nervousness as he spoke. Would Queen Fyora agree to bring the captain back for him? Shadow couldn’t see why not. After all, Bugsy, himself and the other crewmates had recently rescued Faerieland from the tyranny of Jhudora. Bugsy herself had even saved Fyora’s life shortly before Jhudora’s defeat. Fyora just had to help!
“So all I’m asking, your highness,” said Shadow as he finished the story, “is for you to use your magic powers to locate Captain Bugsy and bring her back to Neopia, so we can save the crew and stop Sloth. Please, your majesty?! I don’t know what else to do!” he pleaded.
A look of sadness appeared on Queen Fyora’s face. “I’m sorry, Lieutenant,” she replied, “but I cannot bring the captain back. My powers of teleportation are limited only to Neopia. I cannot bring a full human being all the way here from Earth, even with all the magical power in the world. I’m so sorry.”
Shadow hung his head. Now what?
“There is, however, one small thing I could do...” Fyora continued, suddenly. Shadow looked up, hardly daring to believe it.
“I can magically send a message down to Earth, telling Bugsy she is needed here,” said Fyora.
“Of course!” said Shadow excitedly, realising where she was getting at. “Bugsy’s Earth-Neopia Wrist Portal-Projector! If we tell Bugsy we need her, she can just pop over here!”
“Exactly!” replied Fyora.
“Let’s do it!”
Fyora got up from her seat and walked into a clear part of the room with no furniture close by. She closed her eyes and raised her staff of power high into the air with both hands. “You may want to get up and stand back a few inches,” she said in a calm voice.
Shadow did as he was told. Fyora raised her staff even higher into the air and then brought it back down slowly, where it hit the hard wooden floor with a slight ‘knock’. The large pink gem on the end of the staff began to glow, brighter and brighter. There was a giant burst of white light... and everything was still again.
“It is done,” said Fyora as she opened her eyes, but Shadow was nowhere to be seen. “Uh, Lieutenant... Lieutenant?” said Fyora as she searched among the chairs and tables.
“Um, a little help please!” called Shadow from over in the corner. He’d been flipped over onto his back when Fyora had cast the spell, and was trying to roll over onto his side to get up but his wing kept getting in the way.
“Oh, sorry about that!” said Fyora hastily as she came over and pulled him back onto his feet.
“Did you send the message through?” asked Shadow, as he stood up.
“Yes,” replied Fyora, “I said that we had an emergency situation and that she was needed over here immediately. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that she received it right away. And even then, there’s no telling how long she will take to get here. It could be days, months or even-”
Just then, a beam of bright light shot out of nowhere and struck the floor, creating a shimmering whirlpool of blue and pink light where it had hit, standing up on its side, straight and tall.
Shadow and Fyora barely had time to look at each other before there was a sudden loud humming noise. There was another flash of light, so bright that Fyora and Shadow were almost blinded.
And then, all of a sudden, the light returned to normal. Shadow and Fyora uncovered their eyes and found that the portal had completely disappeared. In its place, crouched down with one hand on the floor, was a human. It was wearing a white long-sleeve shirt, white trousers, shining black boots and a long red jacket with gold lining, buttons and cuffs. The human looked up.
“You called, your highness?” asked Captain Bugsy as she got up off the floor.
“HE... IS GOING... TO PAY!” snarled Bugsy, as Fyora and Shadow finished telling her what had happened. She was so angry, she could hardly speak. Did Dr Sloth have any idea of who he was dealing with?! Obviously not!
“We’ve got to stop him, captain!” urged Shadow desperately. “If we don’t, all of Neopia may be doomed to be enslaved for all eternity.”
“I’m well aware of that, Lieutenant,” replied Bugsy, as she laid her arm on the windowsill, “but first we need to focus on recovering the ship and rescuing our lost comrades. Then we’ll take care of Sloth!”
“And how are you planning to do that, Captain?” asked Fyora.
“I don’t know yet, your highness,” replied Bugsy, “but I do know that it’ll be quite risky and extremely dangerous. We’re going to need some help, plus a way to bring the ship back down from Kreludor. I don’t think it has the power to travel through space. There’s no air for the wings to push against.”
“I don’t think so,” remarked Shadow. “I mean, if ordinary winged Neopets can ‘fly’ in space, then why not magical flying boats?”
“Hmm, you have a point,” said Bugsy. She thought for a moment. “But nevertheless, we’re still going to need some help,” she said, “There may be no telling what we’ll run into up there.”
Suddenly, there was a slight tapping noise on the window. Everyone turned towards it and saw another faerie, hovering there outside and knocking gently. She had short darkish-blue hair, glittery light-blue wings, and dark coffee-coloured skin. She also wore a blue, space-age style jacket.
Bugsy quickly scanned the window, found its handle and turned it. The window swung open and the faerie fluttered in. “Perhaps I can be of some assistance,” said the faerie, as she landed in the middle of the room.
A smile spread over Queen Fyora’s face. “Ah, the Space Faerie,” she said, “greetings. Thank you for coming.”
“You’re welcome, Queen Fyora of Faerieland,” replied the Space Faerie. “Greetings to you too.”
“Wow,” gasped Bugsy, “The Space Faerie?! I thought you were just a legend!”
“No, I’m really real,” replied the Space Faerie as she turned to face Bugsy, “and so, if I’m not mistaken, is the seriousness of this whole situation.” She turned to face Fyora again. “Word in the stars is that Dr. Frank Sloth is planning to strike again.”
“He already has,” said Bugsy, stepping forward. “He’s stolen my ship and kidnapped most of my crew. And what’s worse, he’s also stolen the magical hat that makes it fly!”
“I see,” replied the Space Faerie, turning to face Bugsy again, “that’s not good. That’s not good at all.”
“So then you’re going to help us?” asked Shadow.
The Space Faerie looked at them both. “Dr. Sloth is as much my enemy now as Jhudora was once yours,” she said. “If he really is planning to take over again, and you two are really willing to challenge him in order to rescue your friends and recover your ship, then... yes.”
“All right!” said Bugsy, a smile on her face. “Now all we need is some supplies; rope, equipment, weapons.... and a jet pack.”
“The shops in the Faerie City will be opening soon,” said Fyora, “so you can buy whatever you need.”
“Thank you, your highness,” replied Bugsy. She turned back to the other two. “Well, team, shall we be off?”
“Indeed,” replied the Space Faerie. They all started walking towards the door.
“Wait a minute, captain!” said Shadow suddenly, stopping dead in his tracks.
“Yes?” replied Bugsy, turning to face him.
“The captain... must have her sword...” said Shadow as he reached over his shoulder, took off the sword and handed it to her.
“Oh....” said Bugsy in pleasant surprise as she held her weapon in her hands, “how I’ve missed this thing! Thank you, Lieutenant!”
Shadow didn’t say anything. He just smiled. Bugsy smiled back, undid the buttons on her jacket and tied the scabbard (with sword in it) onto her belt. “All right,” she said, determinedly, “let’s go get our friends back... and splat a Sloth or two while we’re at it!”
“Good luck!” called Queen Fyora, smiling and waving from the the doors of the Faerie Palace. Captain Bugsy waved and smiled back as Shadow and the Space Faerie got ready for teleportation up to Kreludor.
Shadow was wearing a large backpack, containing all their supplies for the mission. Bugsy was wearing a large jet pack, with two powerful rocket boosters sticking out of the bottom. The jet pack also contained a tank of oxygen that Bugsy was going to use in order to breathe on the surface of Kreludor. It wouldn’t matter once Bugsy had got her hat back, but it would do for the time being.
“Ok, you two,” said the Space Faerie, “take my hands. Hold on tightly and don’t let go, whatever you do!”
Shadow took the Space Faerie’s right hand; Bugsy took her left. Bugsy had barely time to wonder when she’d see Fyora and Faerieland again when they all suddenly disappeared in a whirl of bright light! It oddly felt as though they were flying, yet Bugsy could still feel solid ground beneath her feet.
Then, just as suddenly as it started, everything stopped. The light faded and Bugsy and Shadow were amazed to see that they were standing on solid, grey, lumpy ground. There were big grey, craggy rocks scattered all around and huge, tall rocky spires in the distance. Bugsy looked up and saw the sky, all dark and filled with stars. They must be on Kreludor!
Then all at once, Bugsy felt a choking feeling in the back of her throat. She began to cough and splutter because of the lack of oxygen. Thinking quickly, she pulled out the oxygen mask attached to her jet pack, fastened it around her nose and mouth and pressed a button on the jet pack to start the oxygen supply.
“Are you ok, captain?” asked Shadow.
“Yeah,” replied Bugsy, breathing heavily. “I’m ok now.”
“You might want to put these on too,” said the Space Faerie, handing Shadow and Bugsy each a pair of strange silver boots. “They’ll re-create the effects of normal gravity on you, as if you’re still standing on Neopia.”
After a quick change of footwear, they all set off among the rocks, keeping low down to avoid being seen. After a while, the Space Faerie spotted something. “Look,” she said, “over there!”
Bugsy looked. There was a strange, eerie orange glow in the distance. The team slowly crept over to have a look... and it wasn’t a pretty sight! They were looking straight down into an enormous pit! A pit as wide as four Yooyuball pitches and as deep as three swimming pools!
Down inside the pit were the real horrors, however. There were Neopets everywhere, and they were all hacking away at various rocks with huge hammers and pickaxes. Four-legged Neopets, such as Tonus and Lupes, were coming up out of a large hole in the ground, pulling wooden carts (filled with yet more big rocks) behind them. They were then going back in again, once the carts had been emptied by yet more Neopets.
But by far, the very worst thing about the labouring pets was that they’d all... changed in some way. They all reassembled normal Neopets, no doubt about that. But there was something different about them; something more evil, more terrifying, uglier, more... mutated. And yet they all looked so miserable.
“Kreludan Mining Corp,” whispered Bugsy. It just had to be. But why were there so many Neopets down there? Unless... Bugsy gasped! Sloth must have been capturing and enslaving Neopets long before he’d shown up in Neopia Central! This was all just monstrous!
“Any sign of the crew, captain?” asked Shadow.
“No... not yet,” replied Bugsy as she scanned the workforce. The slaves weren’t the only Neopets down there. There were also guards about, too. Several huge Mutant Grundos were walking among the slaves; some yelling at them to work harder and faster. Others had laser blasters at the ready, looking for any sign of trouble.
‘If we’re seen, we’re toast,’ thought Bugsy. It was probably better to lead the team on and continue their search anyway. They were wasting far too much time. She turned to the other two. “Come on,” she said, “let’s keep looking. I’m starting to feel jumpy.”
To be continued...