The End: A Shoyru Tale - Part Five
We had come far from our fallout shelter on Neopia. Faerieland, too, and the Faerie City were all behind us. In the space station, now, we were the invaders, and despite the battle going on outside, it appeared that we were about to lose. From the opened doors came a mutant Chia, a mutant Techo, and a mutant Jetsam. Funny, I thought, they're just like our friends. Perhaps they were once Trek, Cherry and Dusty, but we could no longer tell due to the horrible mutation. It didn't matter at this point, anyway, because even if it was our group of friends, we wouldn't be able to reach them.
Yes, it seemed our fight was coming to the end. Two Shoyrus couldn't possibly stop a mutant army. We surrendered; our weapons and shields were taken from us, and we were put in restraints. From that point, the three mutants lead us to one of the doors and...
...The door was forced open against its own mechanical restraints. Victoria stood in the doorway, her hands glowing with residual magical energy. She made a few hand motions, and each of the mutants flew into the wall nearest to them, being knocked unconscious instantly. With another wave of her hand, our restraints fell apart, and we were freed.
"Victoria!" I exclaimed. "I'm so happy to see you!" I ran up to her and gave her a quick hug while Arthur retrieved the equipment we had lost to the mutants. "Thank you," I added quickly. "We were almost done for."
"No problem at all. Are you both alright?"
"Both of us are fine," Arthur said, handing me my weapons and shield. "What's it like outside?" He started messing with the table's computer parts, waiting for Victoria to answer.
"The offense is winning. Details are hard to come by, but it looks like we're in good shape."
"Did Sloth escape yet?"
"No, and I don't see how he would!"
"Let me show you."
The hologram image of the space station map appeared before us once more. A small room was blinking.
"That room was where the last transmission from Sloth came from only seconds ago," Arthur said while pointing to the blinking room. He then moved his hand across the map. "And here is a second, private shuttle bay. I expect he has his own ship here, and since we're winning, he'll try to escape."
"Then we should try to get there, now!" Victoria responded. With that, we took off running towards the private hangar.
The space station was strangely empty, which made the various long, narrow halls more claustrophobic, and the wide-open rooms extremely unsettling. Once or twice, we encountered a mutant or a robot, but we were all able to quickly overpower them. After all, we had the Shadow Faerie on our side.
The lack of mutants did become a worry. Arthur noted that they may all have been in combat. To calm my nerves, I tried to convince myself that he was right, but as we approached our destination it had become overwhelmingly obvious that the mutated Neopets were still in the ship; there was a mighty cheering coming from our destination.
The crowd was quiet as we entered the hangar. A sea of mutants separated us from Sloth. He stood high on a balcony, from which there was a bridge leading to a large green and black flying saucer-type spacecraft. Sloth looked over the crowd and began to speak.
"My servants, witness me in discomfort! Why am I in discomfort – you ask me why? I will answer you, I will say that it is because I have been betrayed! Not by intent, for no one would willingly betray me, the greatest criminal mastermind in the universe, but through incompetence. My Grundos, my mighty trusted commanders, have betrayed me by falling in the face of mere faeries! And who is it that can redeem me? Who can succeed where my warlords have failed? Who will save Virtupets?" All questions asked by Sloth were met with illegible chanting from the crowd and various cheers. "Then fight for me!" Sloth called out, his call being met with applause once again.
"Man the individual ships! Set all weapons to incinerate! Go, minions of Sloth – destroy the faerie menace once and for all! Neopia will be mine!"
"Not today, Frank." We had been so focused on Sloth that we didn't even notice Fyora, the Space Faerie, and the Battle Faerie approaching from behind. The Queen handed Victoria the Staff of Ancients, whispered something into her ear, and then looked back to Sloth. At this point, our cover was obviously blown, and all eyes were on the six of us.
"Queen of faeries, I see you; but do you see me? Do you not see that I have won? Surrender now. You don't stand a chance."
"You are wrong, doctor. We will defeat you here."
"You will see when it happens."
"Bah, enough of this! Minions of Sloth, destroy these wretched creatures!"
As sloth began walking to his black and green ship, all of the mutants came at us at once. Fyora waved her hand and a protective bubble shield formed around all of us. She then looked back to my brother.
Arthur grabbed Victoria and me, and we disappeared from the space station. Where we went, I do not know; perhaps some kind of wormhole. I remember that it was blue, mostly, with no real shape or definition beyond color. It must have been Arthur's teleportation magic. We were only in the "wormhole" for a second, but that shade of blue will stay in my mind forever. When it faded, there was smoke just about everywhere.
"Was... was this planned?"
"Of course! Do you think Fyora would command blindly?"
"No, but why wasn't I told?"
"We were hoping that you wouldn't have to go into battle."
I didn't want to accept that answer, but I did. As the smoke cleared, I saw Arthur and Victoria. He was obviously tired, and she also looked a little tired. The place we were in looked vaguely like the space station, but the lighting was different, with green lights going about the entire ship. It was all very green.
"Where are we?" I asked.
"This is Sloth's ship," Victoria answered, then added: "Are you two ready? He'll be in soon." We both nodded.
Though large for a personal vessel, Sloth's ship was nothing next to the space station. We had appeared in what appeared to be the opening chamber. It was bare, with no furnishing, and the only things that decorated the walls were the few doors to other rooms. What stood out most, though, was the slowly opening hatch-door to the room we had just been in – and the man standing in the doorway.
Dr. Frank Sloth calmly walked onto the ship. Behind him, a mass of lasers and magical energy filled the air. Seeing him face-to-face was less frightening than I had thought it would be. He had grown flabby, old, and had a few wrinkles in his face. The icon of fear he had once been stood tall, muscular, and only slightly chubby; this did not seem like him at all. He even seemed out of breath while walking onto the ship.
"Frank Sloth," Victoria said, "you've gone far enough."
Arthur and I stood ready for battle. Despite Sloth's less-than frightening appearance, he didn't look at all surprised to see us, and we assumed he had a plan. He was, after all, THE Dr. Frank Sloth, and was not to be underestimated.
"Surrender, Frank, it's over." Victoria was pointing the Staff of Ancients at Sloth. She showed no sign of fear or intimidation.
"Over?" Sloth looked at her, ignoring us. "No, it's not over. It will never be over. I know you faeries; you would never kill, not even a great threat like me. What will it be then – imprisonment? I have escaped such magic before. No, no... it's not over. It will never be over for me, for us."
"You're insane!" blurted Arthur. His patience was wearing thin; it was the first time I'd seen my brother out of his usual cool mood. "You'll lose here, and be buried in history, obscured by legends and children's stories until not even Neoschool teachers can remember who you really are. This space station will only serve as a trophy for the victorious Neopian people."
"I will never be forgotten!" Sloth's relaxed, almost sad look turned into one of rage and hatred, and as he reached into his sleeve and produced a blaster I saw why he had been an icon of fear. He's absolutely insane, I thought, unable to process anything else in my mind. Victoria was moving the Staff of Ancients in a hypnotic fashion, and Arthur was jumping right at Sloth, his sword drawn. I simply stood, frozen, and watched as everything around me seemed to be moving in slow motion. When I snapped to my senses, Arthur was on the ground, writing in pain, and a beam of dark blue light connected Sloth and Victoria through the staff.
"Mac, go!" Victoria yelled. It was the first time she had ever really commanded me, and I noticed that her hair was quickly turning grey. "Get to the controls! Bring us home – don't worry about me and your brother, we'll be fine, just go!"
I didn't take the time to argue. I ran to the door opposite the entrance, absolutely sure that Arthur and Victoria would be just fine. It lead to the control room, as I expected. I began operating the machine. From behind me I could hear some kind of whooshing sound, but I had promised Victoria through my actions that I would keep doing what I was supposed to, and didn't run back to look. I took us out of the hangar where the battle was going on and sent us back into outer space.
We had won in space. I guided Sloth's ship back to Faerieland and dropped it off in Fyora's castle. She at least deserved to keep it as a trophy of our victory. After I landed, I left the pilot room to see my brother and Victoria. Arthur was sitting against a wall, the empty vial from his healing potion lying beside him. Victoria and Sloth were nowhere to be found.
"You alright, Arthur?" I asked, taking a seat next to him.
"Good enough, I guess. You?"
"Alright." We sat in silence for awhile, then I asked: "What happened out here?"
"I don't know. Sloth hit me and I fell down. Saw a dark blue light, then they were both gone. Staff's gone, too."
"Ah." I was depressed, but I expected something like that would happen. Was Victoria alright? I had no way to know.
"Did you know her well?"
"Better than some," I said, then added while standing: "We should get off of the ship." Arthur and I got up and limped out of Sloth's ship and into the Queen's castle.
There was a big celebration, as expected. Fyora's plan had worked pretty perfectly, and Sloth was gone. All of the mutants had been returned to normal (we personally saw to it that Dusty was safe), and we had ultimately come out victorious. After the celebration, though, Fyora came to speak to me personally.
"Yes, Queen Fyora?"
"I do owe you a favor for saving my life."
"You say that, but there is nothing that I need."
"You seem upset."
"Yes, I am. I am upset because although we defeated Sloth, I do not know what became of Victoria."
"Do you ask because you know it must also be what became of him?"
"I couldn't care less about what happened to Dr. Sloth. I ask because she is my friend."
Fyora paused for a moment, studying me. "Victoria is safe," she said, "But I cannot say anything beyond that."
"Thank you." It wasn't much of an answer, but it was enough to satisfy me.
"Is there anything else you need?"
"Not at all."
"Then good night, Mac."
"Good night, Queen Fyora."
In the morning, Arthur and I went home. Fyora offered us a place to stay, but we had no business in Faerieland. Our place was at home.
"Cheat," I said as Arthur played his hand. He scowled and picked up the pile of cards after tossing me a few Neopoints. We were all together again: me, Dusty, Cherry, Trek, and my brother, Arthur.
"He's getting better, Art," Cherry said, "Maybe better than you!"
"Better than Arthur? Don't make me—" Dusty started, cutting himself off by sneezing. He had caught a cold. "Really," he said, "Did you have to freeze me?"
"Yes!" we all said in unison, then shared a good laugh. It was nice to finally be back together.
I'll never forget Victoria. Though the time I spent with her was short, she ended up being one of the kindest beings I had ever met in my life. Maybe some day I'll see her again. After all, Fyora would surely welcome us back into Faerieland if we wished. For right now, though, I'm with my friends, and that's all that matters. That's all that ever really matters.