Agent of the Sway: Induction - Part Three
The Thieves Guild made their headquarters in a rundown old building on the Old Shambles, in the heart of the Docklands. Gradually, the Guild's grip on crime in the city had faltered with Galem's even growing obsession with the Bori and the power and wealth he believed them to possess. Seth Vargo, a local crime boss, had stolen most of their territory in the Docklands. There were rumours that Galem was soon going to order a withdrawal from Neopia Central completely, relocating the Guild to Terror Mountain where the Bori were rumoured to have lived millennia ago.
That, in truth, was the reason Clayton had agreed to go with Faversham. The Guild was going from bad to worse, all the Kougra was doing was getting out before he got dragged down with it. Still, there were processes to be completed.
He showed the customary calling card of the Guild to the doorman as he approached - an emerald on his necklace, encircled by a gold Cobrall - and was allowed straight in.
The Guild house was in fact in the basement of the building, in one of the ruined Catacombs beneath the city. All manner of thieves now sat around tables discussing their latest escapades. Galem was hunched in the corner, as usual, pouring over the mysteries of the Thieves Code that had claimed his soul. Clayton wasn't heading for him though, only a fool would announce they were leaving the Guild to Galem directly. Instead Clayton made his way to a blue Gelert, his former partner.
"Kanrik," he greeted him. "We need to talk."
"There you are!" Kanrik replied. "I was beginning to think something bad had happened to you back at that house when you didn't follow me out of the window. What happened? Did you get the amulet?"
"No," Clayton replied. "He knew we were coming."
"I noticed," Kanrik said. "Who do you think sold us out?"
The Gelert cast a dark look around the room. Betrayals were now common place, by thieves looking to climb the ladder by eliminating the competition. Another unfortunate side effect of Galem's quest.
"I don't think it was anyone inside the Guild," Clayton said. "But that's not what I need to talk to you about, Kanrik."
Carefully and quietly, so as not to attract attention from elsewhere, he placed the emerald on the table.
Kanrik stared at the gem in shock.
"Are you serious?" he asked. "Galem will hunt you down."
"If the rumours are true, you'll be leaving for Terror Mountain soon," Clayton explained. "And I'm... not going to be in the city for a little while. He won't find me, and by the time I come back, he won't be here."
"Is this about what he's doing to the Guild?" Kanrik asked. "Everyone knows it isn't going to last, Clayton. Sooner or later someone's going to snap and challenge Galem for leadership - once he's out of the picture, the Guild can go back to how it used to be."
"And who's going to challenge him?" Clayton asked. "You?"
Kanrik glanced over to Galem. "Maybe."
"Don't be silly, Kanrik," Clayton said. "If you're lucky, he'd kill you - if you're unlucky, he'd give you a big scar and keep you around as an example of what happens when you go up against him. You'd need a big battle to challenge him effectively - and that's not going to happen any time soon. I've made my choice, anyway. I'm leaving."
With that, he stood up, Kanrik scooping the emerald away into the depths of his cloak.
"Good luck, whatever it is you are doing," he said.
"Thanks," was Clayton's reply.
With that, he left the Guild house, before anyone else questioned what they had been talking about.
Clayton was waiting in the industrial district when dawn broke over the horizon. Faversham's carriage came with it, coming to a stop in front of Clayton just as the first rays of sunlight reached the warehouse.
"You have done all you needed to?" the Kyrii asked.
"Good." Faversham echoed the nod. "The Island Mystic, as predicted, broke the code a few hours ago - I believe Judge Hog will be informed over neomail about now. I don't doubt he will be sending Captain K here as his representative, now that his own craft has been downed. Due to our assistance, the scientist in charge of this project has agreed that we will be on the first flight. Follow me, it will not be long until others arrive."
Faversham led Clayton over to the warehouse, where the Kyrii's manservant pulled open the great doors.
What lay within easily took Clayton's breath away. It was a great rocket, white in colour. Hardly anything as sleek looking as the craft in the Defenders laboratories, but far larger. It looked easily big enough to carry a hundred people at a time. It was positioned on its side for the time being, but it appeared that it would be raised onto its base for launch, as a mechanism to lift it was already being rigged up.
"Ah, Lord Faversham!" a creature whose species was indiscernible beneath the thick white hair and beard squeaked as he rushed over. "Ve are almost ready for launch!"
"There will be others joining us, Professor," Faversham said. "We are not to launch until all seats are full, understood?"
"Understood," the Professor chirped. "Follow me, please. I vill show you to your seats."
The walking hairball led them up the steps into the rocket, and showed them to seats near the back, where other passengers were unlikely to notice them. He showed them how to fasten their harnesses before disappearing back outside of the craft.
"What happens once we are up there?" Clayton asked.
"We have a contact on board the station," Faversham revealed. "We will speak to him to ascertain the details of the situation."
"Another member of your organisation?" Clayton asked.
Faversham chuckled, "No. We have a vast network of informants and agents - only those who prove useful on a number of occasions are formally accepted to join us. Perhaps you will be, in time. But until then, you merely work for me."
Gradually, more people arrived and found seats on the rocket. Most looked like adventurers or warriors, drawn by the news of Dr. Sloth's true intentions. As predicted, Captain K did arrive, and took a seat at the front. Once all the seats had been filled, a siren called out, signalling the launch of the craft.
At once it lurched upwards, forcing everyone onto their backs.
"Most unbecoming," Faversham muttered. "I hope they perfect horizontal takeoff with future designs."
There was a jerk as the rocket was moved sideways, rolling on the launch pad to leave the warehouse and face the open air. It came to a stop, and there was a brief pause before the voice of the Professor came over the intercom to provide a countdown. Clayton couldn't help but close his eyes and hold on tight as the countdown reached zero.
There was an almighty roar as the engines at the rear of the ship kicked in, and then they were moving, Clayton's stomach feeling as if it was staying on the ground while the rest of him moved upwards. It was slow to begin with, but then the craft picked up pace, the rocking calming until at last, they were out of the atmosphere and the ride became gentle.
"No windows," Clayton heard Faversham commenting. "I would have liked to see the station on approach."
Clayton meanwhile hadn't even managed to open his eyes.
"It's perfectly safe, you know?" Faversham added. "The Professor used to work for the good doctor."
"That doesn't reassure me, somehow," Clayton replied.
Before long, there was another roaring noise as jets fired somewhere to slow the rocket down. Then a rough bang.
"Docking web," Faversham explained. "We'll be in their hanger soon."
"Won't Sloth attack?"
"I shouldn't think so," Faversham replied. "Ships dock every day from various places. He'll be busy finishing the mutation ray, in any case."
A few minutes later, there was another bang as the rocket came to a stop. A voice came across the intercom, unfamiliar and harsh.
"Welcome to Virtupets docking station 3-B."
The doors at the front of the craft had opened, and already Captain K and the more adventurous were rushing through. Faversham grabbed onto Clayton's wrist, signalling that they were to stay behind.
They weren't the last of the ship, as that would have caused just as much attention. But most of the crowds had dispersed by the time they reached the hanger. Clayton gasped and ran to the great windows that showed a view of Neopia below.
"It's so small..."
"And but one planet in billions," Faversham agreed. "Nevertheless, it is ours, and must be protected. Come, our contact will be waiting on the amusement level, I believe."
They entered a pristine metallic lift which carried them to the blue-tinged level. Captain K and the others were gathered around a view screen in the middle of the plaza which appeared to be broadcasting a message.
"This is the Space Faerie," a holographic message was saying. "I attempted to challenge Dr. Sloth, but he has managed to capture me and is holding me captive in the lower levels of the station. He has already mutated so many of the Grundos from Kreludor that my powers have been weakened. If you were to help free the Grundos from the control of the doctor, my powers would be restored and I could stop Sloth once and for all."
With that, the transmission ended. Captain K turned to the gathered adventurers.
"You heard the Faerie," he announced. "There's a Grundo adoption centre on the supply decks, I believe. The more we free, the stronger she will become."
The group piled past Clayton and Faversham, back into the lift.
"Should we go with them?" Clayton asked.
"Why ever should we do that?" Faversham asked. "The Space Faerie is a kind soul, but she is a fool if she really believes Sloth will not have prepared some sort of backup system to keep her contained. My organisation's leader had predicted she would involve herself - we need only make sure she is freed, and she will do our work for us. Come, our contact will be waiting for us at the café, I believe."
There was a small café run by a large mutated Grundo nearby, and Faversham scanned the clientele once before smiling and making his way to a small grey Grundo wearing a long trench coat and a pair of thick goggles.
"Grimilix?" Faversham asked as he sat down.
The little Grundo nodded.
"You know who sent me. We have work to do."
To be continued...