A New Line of Work: Part Five
++19th Day of Relaxing, Year 13, 3:55PM, Virtupets Space Station Corridor 556, Lower Level++
"Hold on, Mori, don't you go dying on me!"
Moriarti coughed a few times and wheezed, mostly from having the wind knocked out of him. "I'm gonna be fine, Kuvah," he replied, but he definitely didn't look it. There was a bit of a charred hole in his suit where his right shoulder was, and another laser blast had left a tear in the thin membrane of his wing.
"I am going to kill that Eyrie, I swear," Kuvah shot back as she rummaged through an emergency kit she had found on the bulkhead that had dropped down to seal off the depressurized part of the corridor. She took a pair of gauze pads and fixed them over the tear in Moriarti's wing gingerly, careful not to cause any further agony to her partner.
Moriarti had carefully worked his suit jacket off as well as his tie, and began unbuttoning his shirt to provide better access to his injured shoulder. Kuvah stopped for a moment upon seeing this, holding the antiseptic-laden gauze pad she had prepared for the injury. Finally, she snapped out of it, realizing she was staring, and quickly but carefully applied the patch to the wound.
Once it was on, she busied herself in neatly packing the medical supplies back into the medkit's container, muttering quietly under her breath without realizing it. She was too busy dwelling on other things to realize it.
"You alright, there, Kuvah?" Moriarti asked. However, Kuvah was still muttering and packing things up. She didn't seem to notice as Moriarti tilted his head to one side and watched her for a moment. She snapped shut the case and turned to look back at Moriarti. Upon realizing she was being watched intently, she quickly blushed.
"Can I help you?" she quickly said, defensively.
Moriarti blinked. "You were... muttering there to yourself just now," he stated.
Magh racked her mind for a quick answer: "Just wanting to get back at Thirteen and Norton for hurting you," she replied, standing up and holding the medkit by its handle. "What're we going to do now, though?" she asked, changing the subject.
"Well, we need to stop Norton and Thirteen. I'm just not sure how to do that. But we can't stay here, that's for sure. They might come looking for us to try and finish the job," Moriarti replied, slowly getting to his feet.
Kuvah mentally remarked that she'd never seen Moriarti quite like this. His shirt was untucked, his jacket was open, and his tie was loose. Of course, there was the obvious burnt hole in the shoulder, and he was covered in gauze here and there, but she marveled about even after being beaten, he was still trying to think one step ahead of the enemy. His mind was always on the mission. In contrast, hers was on something entirely different.
++19th Day of Relaxing, Year 13, 4:02PM, Virtupets Space Station Corridor 556, Lower Level++
"Nox curse it all!" Norton yelled, kicking the bulkhead in anger. This marked twice his former employee had narrowly escaped an untimely demise.
Thirteen was quiet for a moment before he finally looked at Norton. "Replay- Replay of events before emergency bulkhead closure reveals two accurate shots- two accurate shots fired at agent Moriarti Lugenbrau," he informed Norton.
The Disco Eyrie lit up at this. "Really?" he chirped. "I got him?" Thirteen merely nodded.
Happily, Norton clapped his hands together. "That's wonderful news! Now hopefully he'll just stay down and we can go get him later. Right now, though, I think we need to speed up our time table. Is there any way we can do that?"
Thirteen tilted his head and brought his hand up before reverting and making the same motion three other times. Finally, he said "Yes" and nothing more.
This only further excited his employer. "Splendid!" Norton cheered. "Why don't you run along and get to that? I'll go see about making sure Moriarti and Kuvah are finished here. Don't need any one of them coming back to mess with things.
With that, the Disco Eyrie scampered off, leaving the Ogrin behind. Thirteen watched Norton go, turned towards the hangar door, and sighed.
"At least I have job," he said to himself in a thick foreign accent, as he stepped back into the hangar to continue with the dirty work.
++19th Day of Relaxing, Year 13, 4:29PM, Virtupets Space Station Corridor 277 ++
Moriarti and Kuvah were slowly making their way up to the main levels of the station. Pets were becoming more and more common, and more often than not were stopping to stare and wonder if the bandaged and ragged looking Draik was alright.
Regardless of the onlookers, they pressed on, hoping to find a station security booth or any small thing that might help them stop Norton's plan. They began to pass more and more shops, from station clothing to battledome weapons and even small restaurants. Large TVs mounted on the walls for displaying advertisements for Neocola and various businesses on the station were playing loud music with fast-paced talking.
"DRINK NEOCOLA! SLOTH DEMANDS IT!"
"GRUNDO'S CAFÉ! LOCATED ON DECK 32-A OF THE RECREATION SECTOR. COME BY AND RELAX AND ENJOY ONE OF OUR GALAXY FAMOUS ROAST GARGAPPLES."
"NEOCOLA. STILL DEMANDS IT!"
"WANT TO BE A SPY? SPY GAME. CRACK PASSWORDS, LEVEL UP, GO FOR THE HIGH SCORE!"
Moriarti abruptly stopped when the last one started playing, turning his attention to the various TV screens. A familiar Robot Ogrin was on screen with a map pointing to the recreation deck's arcade.
Kuvah blinked, possibly debating throwing one of her shoes at the screen. Moriarti seemed to light up with an idea.
"That's it," he quietly remarked, suddenly turning and making his way towards the arcade.
Kuvah jogged to catch up with the Draik. "What's it?" she asked, confused.
"Thirteen is tied into the system. And the system decodes encrypted files through user actions as they play games. If we can get the system to feed in some bad code or something, we might be able to shut it down," he replied. "And you were always more suited for that sort of work, Kuvah. It's your time to shine."
Her stomach fluttered for a moment, but she quickly pushed it aside in favor of determination. "Oh, I am SO going to enjoy this," she said, interlocking her fingers and pushing her hands straight out in front of her with her palms facing away from her.
"Time for a little revenge, I think."
++19th Day of Relaxing, Year 13, 4:45PM, Virtupets Space Station Corridor 556, Lower Level, Bay 8++
The door to the hangar hissed open, causing Thirteen to jolt up from leaning over an electronic component he was working on.
Norton had walked in, and he was wearing a rather fierce scowl. It was obvious to Thirteen that he hadn't found at least one dead former employee.
"Welcome- Welcome- Welcome back, Norton," the robot greeted. Norton shot him a venomous glance and looked far from pleased with his associate.
"They weren't there, Thirty Seven. Some bandage wrappings and the like, but no one! Not a soul!" the Eyrie exclaimed, throwing his hands up in the air in exasperation.
The robot tilted his head to the side. "Possibility of escape irrelevant. We are entering in- in- into the final stages of our plan. RESISTANCE IS FUTILE," he replied, his voice becoming far more melodramatic and booming with his last line.
This seemed to perk Norton up some. "Well, I suppose that is good news," he mused, contemplating just how close to victory he really was. Slowly, he began to cheer up. "Excellent. Looks like my retirement might kick off correctly after all!"
Norton wandered off again, leaving Thirteen to his work. As he did so, he could feel the tug of information being decompiled inside the game servers as users joined the game and left, cracking codes and finishing up the documents Norton planned on using to blackmail his way to a cushy retirement of traveling Neopia. With all the information being complied, and with his own attention on the electronic components laid bare before him, he didn't notice one more user joining the game with a name he should have been familiar with by now.
++19th Day of Relaxing, Year 13, 4:48PM, Virtupets Space Station Recreation Deck, VSS Arcade++
"Welcome to- Welcome to- Welcome to Spy Game!"
Apparently even in programming himself into the tutorial for the game, he couldn't remove that stutter. Kuvah had successfully signed up for a free account and was immediately greeted by a far-too-cute version of Thirteen Thirty Seven. His proportions were all wrong; his arms and legs were short and pointy and his head looked to be too big for his body as he pointed out various features of the user interface.
Not that Kuvah needed to pay attention to any of this stuff; she'd already bludgeoned her way into the command console of the terminal she was sitting at and was doing her best to code her way through to the robot she knew was somewhere in the network.
"Whoa, dude. Are you ok?"
A passing teenage pet had caught sight of Moriarti, who was keeping lookout as his assistant worked on trying to get through to Thirteen.
"Who, me?" Moriarti asked innocently enough. "Yeah, I'm fine. No problems here."
The teen only seemed to gawk as a sudden flash of recognition flashed through his eyes. "Wait, aren't you the Draik from Spy Game?"
Kuvah turned around at this and stared at the kid, as did Moriarti. However, their attention was both called back to the terminal Kuvah was at when in-game Thirteen began to talk.
"IT'S A TRAP!" he said, as, sure enough, a Skunk Draik in a suit and menacing red, glowing eyes, and a Wocky who was exceptionally short with the same red, glowing eyes jumped in from off screen. "You've g-g-got to help me beat the evil Dr. Moriarti Lugenbrau! Before he takes- he takes over the world!"
The teen only stood there in wonderment. "It is you! You're Dr. Moriarti Lugenbrau!"
"Agent, actually. I'm no doctor," Moriarti downplayed. He noticed Kuvah had redoubled her efforts to hacking and playing the game.
This only seemed to further entrance the teen. He turned and called out over the rest of the crowd. "Hey, everyone! It's Moriarti Lugenbrau! He's actually here!" The room got gravely silent as everyone turned their attention to the tall, well-dressed Draik.
It didn't take long for a mad frenzy for both autographs and attempts to attack the main villain in one of the most popular games on the station to begin. Luckily, he was able to keep attention off Kuvah by catering to the demands of the crowd of young Neopians as they flocked to him in droves and they recited game quotes and wanted to know his plans for world domination.
The time crawled by for Moriarti, but he kept the group preoccupied while Kuvah finally made her way into the network of systems. She poked her nose into just about every terminal and file she could get her hands on, searching in vain for something she could feed to the game that might cause it to go haywire. Finally, though, she came across a terminal connected to the network unlike the rest: S3M11337CRB.
Thirteen Thirty Seven.
To be continued...