A Candychan Plot: Part Two
Androcles and I headed off to Virtupets to investigate the possibility of a cockroach ray. We left Killian behind to keep an eye on Mystery Island, and we would report back to him as soon as we had some information. No better way to keep an eye on two places than to actually have people in both places.
Flying to Virtupets took a little longer than going to Mystery Island, but that feeling may have been a result of a rather dull view rather than the distance actually being greater. Androcles and I did not talk much on the trip there, because you can only ohh and ahh over the stars so many times.
When the space station came into sight, we slipped in with a group of tourists. They probably wanted to pull the lever or do something equally ridiculous like that, as they were clearly excited about being here. They ignored our presence, while they continued on with their inane chatter. While the pets went on to the Recreation Deck, Androcles and I debated about where to start looking.
Obviously, such equipment, if our suspicions were correct, would not just be sitting out where anyone could see it. So, that meant it would be left somewhere either where it would not be noticed or somewhere off limits to the general public.
Luckily, neither option posed a problem, really, as pets generally ignored us. Most of the Neopians had a petpet, so seeing them about wasn't uncommon, and they (incorrectly, but conveniently) lumped Candychans in that same category – petpets. Annoying, but as long as it meant we would be left alone, we would be good with it.
Androcles made a gesture over to Space Weaponry. Along the side of the store was a stack of leftover junk parts. Weapons and piles like of electronic equipment? Could be a good place to leave things hiding. We headed over that way as quietly as possible and ducked into the little alleyway. We glanced around quickly, to check for followers, and headed down.
It was mostly dark with a few burnt out bulbs here and there. After we got past the trash from the shop, we noticed that an increasing amount of the discarded items had the word "Sloth" printed on them.
"Do you think Sloth is behind this?" I questioned in hushed tones to Androcles. He looked paler than usual, but just shrugged.
After a few minutes, we saw a door that was cracked open and had some light spilling out onto the metal floor of the alley. We started to walk past it, before we heard the whispers coming out of it.
"...the plan is working?" a soft, but high-pitched voice said.
We both froze in our steps. A nod of his head indicated that he had heard the same thing. We crawled over on hands and knees (it felt like the thing to do), and peaked around the edge of the door.
From what little we could see, we were faced with a brightly lit, mostly empty room. Disappointed, I rolled my eyes at Androcles, and he gave a small, appreciative smile. He understood that I viewed the place as being particularly dull.
We heard soft footsteps and backed slowly away from the door, to hide in the nearby shadows. We saw part of a left leg and a wing. Both of which seemed familiar. I turned to look at Androcles and give him an odd look when I realized he had already stood up and was pushing open the door.
Rising quickly while he cracked the door halfway open, we both slid in and shut the door with a soft, but audible, thud.
Two pairs of eyes turned to look at us. Nothing was said, as it seemed to have shocked all of us. Our interruption shocked them, and what we saw in the small place equally surprised us.
Now that we were in the room, we saw clearly what we had been looking for. An old grey machine stood in the center of the room. It was reasonably large, at least for a Candychan, and looked how you might imagine a ray to look. There was a screen on the back, which showed a map of the entire planet. Mystery Island was clearly highlighted. A couple of buttons here and there with some words around them that I couldn't make out, but it looked pretty straight forward to use and manipulate.
The left side of the room, the part we were able to see before, was empty of any decorations. The right side had a little bit of counter space and a chair, but that was it.
In front of the machine, gawking back at us, were two Candychans, one Grey and one Plushie.
Androcles moved first. "Hiya, there!" he greeted amicably, as if we hadn't just burst into the room. It was a strange, but useful, quality of his, being able to talk cheerfully, no matter what the situation.
He lifted himself up off the ground, and floated there for a minute. "What's this?" he gestured. The Plushie Candychan began to stammer, and the Grey continued to stare.
Taking these actions as encouragement, he flitted toward the machine quickly to get a closer look.
"Get away from that!" the Plushie finally screeched.
Listening, for once, Androcles landed down beside me again. He gave me a quick wink, and then turned back to them.
"I am Androcles, and this is my sidekick. And you are?"
The Grey Candychan spoke. "My name is Rune and this is my assistant Zeph." Zeph gave a quick nod, but seemed to shrink at the attention.
"Whatcha up to in here?" Androcles asked as if they might as well be drawing pictures or making flower bouquets.
Zeph and Rune eyed each other, and seemed to communicate something silently. Rune spoke again, "We might as well tell you, Candychan to Candychan."
Obviously. So we nodded without a word and let him continue.
"We found this lovely piece of equipment a few months ago," he waved behind him vaguely. "Sloth, as you might have guessed, had this built, but then rejected it as a feasible ray. It turns pets into cockroaches, but he didn't seem to think that act would be evil enough. And really, who wants to be known for that?" he grinned slyly, and the answer to that rhetorical question was clearly that he would like to be known for such an act.
He began pacing around in front of the machine, and continued with his story. "You're probably wondering why we bothered to acquire it then, yes? Well, you see, being the colors we are and being considered 'petpets,' we were always seen as being harmless. The patronization was frustrating," he grimaced. "Those foolish pets out there," he waved, "need to be shown their place. They need to see that they don't own us, we own them. As Candychans, we are clearly the most superior of any being on this planet.
"So, we poked around with the machine and figured out how to use it. We selected Mystery Island as testing grounds due to its size. With a quick zap from the ray, it seems that it managed to do what we wanted it to do."
"Later, we're going to squish some of them!" Zeph finally piped up. His voice was scratchy, as if he had a bit of cotton constantly stuck in his throat. But as a Plushie Candychan, maybe he did. The three of us turned to look, and the Plushie quickly closed his mouth.
"Why are you telling us this?" I asked instead of commenting. It seemed so foolish. Why do would-be villains always do that? Monologue about their nasty plans to anyone who would listen?
Rune shook his head, presumably at his assistant, but answered anyway, "Well, being Candychans, I'm sure you understand what I mean? All those pets out there looking to acquire you, control you, use you as a trophy?"
Androcles said, "Candychans clearly are the best, and pets are very annoying. I had one once. She never could look after herself."
Rune nodded sympathetically. Apparently, Androcles' brief mention of his experience was something the Grey Candychan could relate to.
Androcles turned to look at me, and we both nodded. "We see where you're coming from," Androcles added. "Well, thanks for entertaining our curiosity and best of luck with it!"
Rune seemed pleased, and he smiled, which is an odd look for a Grey Candychan. We waved at him and quickly left the room.
I wasn't sure where Androcles was going with this, but I followed him anyway. We were silent until we got up on the Recreation Deck, and settled down near the battledome arena.
I gave him a look, and asked him if he really intended to help these Candychans, or at least not get in the way.
With a laugh, he replied, "And miss this great opportunity for eternal honor and glory? Besides, remember It?"
I nodded; It had been his pet, but had some unfortunate... accidents.
"I'd be a horrible owner if I let other Candychans lose their It. And Killian looked so sad about Debonti. Besides, eternal glory. Who can pass that up?"
With a laugh, I leaned forward and asked, "So, what are we going to be doing about this?"
"Well, you know Sloth was never very bright..."
To be continued...