Alfred Quenton, Villain Extraordinaire: Part Three
The soft rustle of papers was heard as Bennett worked rearranging the files in Alfred's new office. Large and yet to be filled with furniture, the oval room felt very open. It had been the control center of the factory with large windows overlooking the main floor. The building, an old ice cream factory, was a strange place to house a villain headquarters, yet it could be used as an ingenious cover.
Laying the confidential papers aside, the Faerie Grarrl surveyed the blue prints for the secret trap doors, hallways and rooms. Admittedly, Alfred had a smart plan in this.
"...And make sure that we are stocked with bacon!" The Island Korbat sauntered into his office, shouting orders over his shoulder. "Hercules is very grumpy plumpy when he doesn't have his daily supply."
Straightening, the Grarrl inclined in head as a gesture of respect. I suppose it is unwise to underestimate this fool, but he better not underestimate me.... or it will be the last mistake he ever makes.
"Bennett." He smiled as if they were good friends sharing an inside joke. "I simply adore what you have done with the place!"
To Alfred's preferences, the room had been painted a sky blue with darker trimmings. No expense had been spared for the plush vanilla carpet. Thick shades hung in the corners, waiting to block the occupants inside from curious eyes.
Lazily, Alfred gazed around. "Once everything arrives, it will be fit for a king!" A smug grin unfurled across his face. "Bennett, gather the minions. Our first mission will take place at 0600 hours."
Silently, he left with his gruslen trailing behind him. Before they passed through the door, Elizabeth, the gruslen, turned and snarled at Alfred's back. That's my girl, Bennett's lip tugged up in a smirk for a millisecond.
Leaning into the shadows, Spike focused on Alfred's briefing halfheartedly. He was feeling conflicted. We'll sure give Dad and Uncle a nasty surprise. He thought over the bold plan to bust in and steal high tech weapons. Wasn't this what I wanted? To show them what I was capable of?
The loudest support Alfred had was from Ophelia. The blue Pteri was clapping so hard some feathers had been dislodged off her wings. Harry, the Blumaroo, seemed perplexed and frightened as usual while Mr. Chuckles and Iron Skeith had adopted the glassy-eyed look of good mindless lackeys.
With a snort of disgust, the Darigan Flotsam began to study Alfred and his menacing bodyguard. As far as Spike knew, that Grarrl had little dignity, running all over doing errands for an egotistic Korbat. Bennett was certainly a mystery. He had worked at Spike's dad's and uncle's bounty hunter agency and was reported as a highly skilled individual. Once Spike had managed to get a hold of his basic file for a short time; however, the information had been scant:
Name: Bennett Martin, Species: Grarrl, Code Name: Sting, Height: 6' 5", Weight: 210 lbs., Position: Bounty Hunter, Specialty: Undercover and stealth, Previous Occupation: Unknown (in the margin a note had been scrawled hastily: evidence suggests that Sting was involved in events at that space station.)
Unable to read any more, he had received few answers. Alfred's file had been easier to swipe:
Name: Alfred Quenton, Species: Korbat, Code Name: Scientist 3, Height: 4' 10", Weight: 115 lbs., Position: Scientist, Specialty: Weapon design, Previous Occupation: Researcher in a lab indirectly funded by Dr. Sloth, Extra Notes: Numerous complaints have been submitted about Scientist 3, who has been described as stubborn, arrogant, and difficult to work with. His employment may be terminated if he refuses to cooperate.
That was Alfred spot on.
"Now that I've given everyone their assignments, please repeat them back to me so I am certain you understand what to do." The Korbat glared at Iron Skeith pointedly. "And I shouldn't have to tell you NOT to take a doughnut break in the middle of Operation Told-You-So!"
Chortling at the ridiculous name, Spike transformed it into a cough as Alfred's eyes turned to him. "Spike, what is your job?"
Mind racing, the Flotsam shifted on his flippers uncertainly. "Er... explosives?"
"Excellent! See this is what I mean, it's not so hard to pay attention, is it?" Alfred chastised a sheepish Mr. Chuckles, who had dozed off. "Ophelia, what is your job?"
"Oh, oh! I know this one!" Nervously, the Pteri wrung her wings. "Don't tell me... It's lookout! I'm a lookout."
"Yes." The Korbat sighed. "Iron Skeith? Mr. Chuckles? Perry?"
"I go in first to check for traps!" Iron Skeith appeared oblivious to the fact that Alfred considered him disposable.
Mr. Chuckles was relieved not to join the Skeith. "I'm a lookout with Ophelia."
"My name is Harry like I've told you over and over again! Never mind... it's no use." The Blumaroo slouched, defeated. "I set up the 'grand finale' with Spike."
The Darigan Flotsam perked up. Grand finale.... what grand finale? I guess I should've tried to listen. Irate at missing vital information, he pushed off the wall to stalk away. Well, I can't ask him or he'll be mad. I'll just improvise.
After all, how hard could that possibly be?
In the dim light of early morning, Alfred and his crew scrambled to their posts. Observing the unremarkable office building that held his ex-bosses' business, Alfred waited eager for the moment to strike. Impassive, Bennett readied some equipment if they required a swift retreat. The Korbat had almost dismissed Bennett from bringing the routine escape kit, but a little voice still made him afraid to leave without it. Desperately, he attempted to squash the nagging sensation of the cowardice of being unhesitatingly willing to desert his allies.
What would these Neopets be without me? I cannot afford to be captured. The Korbat relaxed. Yes, that must never happen. They should comprehend that. Evil Tip #13: Subordinates should gladly sacrifice for the greater good of their beloved leader.
"The signal, Bennett." He extended his paw for the wild petpet sound replicator. "Many have doubted us. My brilliant scheme will reverse our luck, sending villains streaming into our league!"
"You will be creating a considerably audacious statement, sir," remarked Bennett coolly.
"Indubitably!" The Korbat flicked the weewoo simulator on.
The whistling call echoed in the air. After it went quiet, imperfect replicas of the sound replied back.
Everything is going smoothly- Growling, Alfred ducked behind a bush when several figures on the second story floor approached a window. I was hoping there would be few bounty hunters around. Should I scrap the entire project or just go for the supplies on floor 2B? Where is that diversion I ordered? Thoughts continued to speed through Alfred's head. But the best things are on 5B. Perhaps I could have Iron Skeith... No, he would mess something up!
A red signal flare exploded, spreading fiery sparks spinning in the sky. Instinctively, the Neopets leapt backwards and raced off to sound the alarm. Fidgeting, Alfred hid counting the seconds carefully. Don't miss your cue...
"Fe! Fe! Fe!" Peering over the bush, Alfred watched a scarlet and bronze blur charge the entrance. "IRON SK-"
The rest of his chant was impossible to hear because of the thunderous tearing of metal and the blaring of the building's siren. For a brief moment, the Korbat was impressed by him. Then he put the Skeith out of his mind as he prepared to go in.
Owen stirred his coffee, scowling at the clock. 5:55 is much too early to have to be ready for some meeting. Rubbing the sleep out his eyes, the Maraquan Draik knew he had to be alert. Mr. X is an important client, but must he be so blasted cryptic? I suppose when you're incredibly rich, you can afford to make Neopets bend over backwards for you.
"Owen." Chomp, his Camouflage Jetsam brother, walked over to fill his mug. "Mr. X will arrive in an hour. I want you to personally look over the security system. He is a very... jumpy fellow and this deal needs follow through. Understand?"
"Alright." Owen tipped back his cup to finish his drink. Lots of caffeine would be vital to surviving the long day. "If I'm a good little boy, may I finally use some vacation days this weekend? We've been working our tails off all this month!"
The Jetsam frowned. "If things run sufficiently, then you may take two days. "
If, The Draik grimaced. What a terrible word. If! Things are bound to go wrong.... If only I could make my brother reasonable. Not everyone can think of nothing but work!
As they passed through the halls, Chomp halted abruptly. Owen nearly plowed into him.
"What is it?" inquired the Draik.
"Didn't you hear that?"
"That weewoo call! What would a weewoo be doing here in Neopia Central? At six in the morning?"
"Delivering newspapers I suppose?"
"On a Thursday?" Briskly, he paced towards his office. "I have this strange feeling, Owen."
"Oh, not again!" Snorting, the Draik accompanied him leisurely. "You're beginning to sound paranoid, brother dear. So perhaps a flock of weewoos has passed by, do you actually think-"
He was interrupted by what sounded like fireworks.
"Weewoos with pyrotechnical abilities?" Chomp lifted an eyebrow.
A Neopet skidded into the room and reported, "Sir, there are intruders approaching. A heavily armored Skeith has been spotted attempting to bust through the doors. No one is sure if they can hold up to-"
The shrill whine of the flashing alarm answered that question. Scrambling out, the Neopet fled towards the staircase to confront the Skeith. Surprisingly calm, the Jetsam approached his desk and twisted a globe in half. Owen hovered near him anxiously. Several small remotes were stuffed inside the hidden compartment, but Chomp picked a silver one with a red button.
"I am always a few steps ahead of my enemies." Pressing the button, he faced Owen. "Unfortunately, I was caught almost unawares. Mr. Quenton is bolder than I realized."
"Or blasted insane!"
"That is very possible," considered Chomp. "Come, we have a visitor to welcome."
With Ophelia watching at the stairwell and Mr. Chuckles guarding the hallway, Alfred and Bennett began looting the bounty hunter collection. Once the bags were bulging, the Grarrl packed them onto carts for simpler transport.
"No sign of anyone," Mr. Chuckles poking his head around the corner. "Including Spike or Perry."
They had been told to report on floor B2 when their special project was completed to haul away the stolen goods.
Clenching his teeth, Alfred muttered, "We'll have to switch up the plan. Mr. Chuckles push the carts to drop off point C and send Ophelia to find Iron Skeith to carry the rest."
"Wouldn't it make more sense to have Mr. Martin join me?" the Kacheek asked.
"Are you questioning my orders?" Flustered, Alfred's tail twitched aggressively.
"No sir." He might have paled, but it was difficult to notice behind his white face paint. "I'll get started right away."
It would've been a better idea to dispatch the stronger member to move three burdensome loads; however, Alfred was wary to request his bodyguard to leave his side.
"Oh!" Ophelia admired a blaster on a shelf, which she promptly snatched up. "This is sparkly! Should we steal it?"
"Nonsense!" Alfred strode over to her to slap it out of her wing. "That's an older model.... And it's hardly that shiny! This is why I put you on lookout. You would be distracting if- Wait a second.... Why aren't you doing your job?"
Baffled, Ophelia replied, "Whatever do you mean? I am looking out! You would've missed this lovely.... thing if I hadn't pointed it out to you. Besides, there is nothing interesting to "look out" for in the hallway, just some angry Neopets gathering."
"WHAT?" Yelping the Korbat quickly hurried against the wall as beams from blasters took aim at them. "Change of plans.... yet again. Everyone grab a cart and run!"
When he said everyone, he, of course, meant everyone except him. Bennett had no trouble in gaining great momentum even with Alfred clinging to his cart. Poor Mr. Chuckles and Ophelia barely managed to stay far enough ahead of their pursuers.
"Put your back into it! Get moving!" From his perch in the lead, Alfred decided to offer some tips. "Hey! Quit dropping so many things!"
"So.... fast," panted the Kacheek frantically. "Help.... please?"
"Must I do everything?" bemoaned Alfred as he selected a baster to provide cover for them.
Reaching a main hall, Bennett veered to a stop. Spike and Harry were standing there and it appeared they had just been in the middle of an argument.
"There you are!" Alfred hopped off his seat. "I'd be furious if I had the time. Perry, Mr. Chuckles and Ophelia, take these to rendezvous point A."
"But... what about them?" Mr. Chuckles glanced over his shoulder.
"We'll take care of it." Alfred approached the elevators. "They'll be busy following us."
Spike grunted as the elevator chimed and the doors slid open. Luckily, Alfred was too busy calculating the escape routes to interrogate him.
He and Harry had been late mostly due to him. Because he didn't bother to listen to Alfred's precise instructions on how to set everything, Spike tried to pretend he knew exactly what he was doing. Harry, on the other hand, had paid more attention and attempted to assist, but he didn't know much concerning explosives. In fact, he shook every time he dared to touch them.
"Leave it to me!" Eventually, the Darigan Flotsam snapped.
Then they argued about the correct angles until the Blumaroo fell silent, withdrawing under a tree, afraid of being spotted by the numerous bounty hunters. Realizing the time, Spike had impulsively placed the various rockets where he figured they went. He hoped it was good enough.
"Freeze!" A Halloween Xweetok narrowed his pale yellow eyes at them. He had a large blaster aimed at them.
Spike flinched as he had been lost in his flashback. Alfred and Bennett turned slowly to face him.
"Nice try." Owen strode forward with his eyes glittering menacingly. "It's amusing that you actually thought you could just waltz in here. I'd threaten to capture your friends, but that wouldn't motivate you at all." The Draik shook his head in mock regret. "No, the only way to motivate the great Alfred Quenton is to threaten him personally." He signaled other Neopets to surround them. "As much as I'd love to chat with you, someone else wants to see you."
To everyone's surprise (and Owen's disappointment), Alfred went quietly; however, he walked with an unsettling tenacity. With a sinking feeling, Spike wondered if it had to do with the belief that the rockets had been set up correctly.
"Get going!" snarled the Xweetok, prodding Spike in the back with the cold metal. "If you have no injury, you shouldn't be hobbling like an old lady!"
The Darigan Flotsam bit his tongue to prevent himself from retorting. In a sense, he did deserve his former companions numerous dirty looks. Hadn't he ditched them to "go his own way" without bothering to explain?
"Hello, Mr. Quenton." The Camouflage Jetsam leaned a wall in front of his office. "Don't be a stranger, come in."
Noticing Owen and Chomp were ignoring him, Spike sulked in a corner. He was torn between relief and anger.
"You and your friends were certainly rude today." Idly, Chomp spun an ornate globe on his desk. "What do you have to say for yourself?"
Alfred straightened up smugly. "You thought I was a fool the last time I was in here. I trust I have rectified that erroneous belief. And this is only the beginning, I assure you. I shall not stop until the world trembles at my name!" The Korbat laughed. "Perhaps if you had been reasonable, you could have shared in my glorious empire. Instead you taunted and scoffed at me. Beware my wrath; I don't forget things like this."
"You're mad," Owen said.
"Just what we need, another psychopath running wild," a bounty hunter muttered.
"You still refuse to grasp my genius. Behold as this building goes up in flames!" The Korbat leapt dramatically under a chair.
Chaos reigned. Neopets tumbled over each other to exit the room. But nothing happened. After a minute, everyone felt ridiculous.
"What's the meaning of this?" Owen poked his snout out from his bookcase blockade. "Don't just go around shouting fire you numskull!"
"But I don't understand." Alfred scratched his chin. "I specifically remember testing the measurements multiple times. There's no possible explanation-"
Spike was astonished when the first rocket shattered the window. He didn't recall targeting this section of the building. The most likely scenario that he could think of was that guards had discovered and failed to disable it or that Iron Skeith had knocked into it.
Bright purple sparks lit up the crumbling room. Dashing out of the smoke, Spike took a hard right at the end of the hall. Escape was a big priority, but first he would take this opportunity to break into a lab on 5B. Many secret projects were housed in there. He could get back in Alfred's good graces and gather his own personal arsenal. He wasn't concerned about the Korbat's safety one bit. Fortunately or unfortunately, Alfred was a master of retreat.
Once the room began exploding, Alfred questioned the practicality of creating a plan in which rockets were aimed at the place he might occupy.
"Sir, we should leave," Bennett suggested.
"How? They're waiting outside in the hall, we'd never get past-"
Pointing to a massive hole in the wall, Bennett carefully led the Korbat, who immediately understood.
"Let's fly!" He glided in the refreshing air.
Bennett soared next to him. Rapidly, they landed and hurried across the street.
"I would have preferred to meet every goal." Alfred wiped soot from his fur. "Overall; however, I'd call this a success."
After Iron Skeith had rammed the steel doors, he had trouble remembering what happened next. In a daze, he vaulted through a window. Faintly, he recalled voices yelling at him, but he passed out under a bush for what felt like days. When he could stand again, he limped in the general direction he thought was HQ. Stumbling on wires, the Skeith accidently fired Spike's rockets.
"Who is having a firework show at this hour of the morning?" Delirious, he talked to himself. "I'd love to stay, but no breaks. That's what he said.... No breaks. Well, maybe one doughnut break."
Suddenly, he saw stars. When he woke up, he was slumped on a chair. A Jetsam and Draik stared at him.
"You must be wondering what you are doing here, not tied up." The Jetsam handed him a glass of water. "Sadly, your leader left you, struggling to even walk due to your severe concussion."
"Charging into a door will do that to you," Snidely, the Draik commented.
"Why are you helping me?" Iron Skeith stood cautiously.
The Jetsam tilted his head as if pondering the question himself. "I'm no monster. How could I just neglect a fellow Neopet in need?"
"And I can just leave?"
"If you insist," The Jetsam replied over his brother's unhappy grunt. "But I wouldn't tell Alfred we aided you. He might get the wrong idea."
"Yeah, I guess so." Perplexed, Iron Skeith shook Chomp's outstretched flipper.
Escorting him to the exit, Chomp added, "When you're tired of being used as a punching bag, you know where to go."
The Skeith trudged out of the building with his words echoing in his ear.
In silence, Alfred and Bennett traveled to the smoothie shop. Ophelia and Mr. Chuckles were nervously anticipating their arrival in a booth. When they entered, the Pteri jumped and waved so ecstatically, she shoved the Kacheek off his seat.
"Ophelia! I told you to be inconspicuous!" Lowering his voice, Alfred asked, "The load?"
"We parked them in the alley." Mr. Chuckles rubbed his head tenderly and sat across from the Ophelia.
"Excellent." Alfred nodded. "Bennett, order me a drink to go. We're returning to HQ."
As they trekked down side roads to the ice cream factory, Alfred reflected on the completed operation. Most of the group was in great spirits except Perry, who was upset he had to sit with the carts in a dark alley. He received little pity because everyone was reliving their favorite, heart pounding part of their daring break in.
"Hey." Mr. Chuckles frowned when they arrived at the factory. "Where's Spike and Iron Skeith?"
"Hmmm... who?" Alfred shrugged nonchalantly. "Oh, yes. I'm sure they'll be fine."
"Your interest in my wellbeing is so touching." Spike threw a bag at Alfred's feet. "You're welcome."
Rooting through the bag, Alfred grinned. "This will help me.... overlook some silly little mistakes you made."
"No one's perfect." Spike melted into the gloomy shadows.
"Bennett, carry this to my office," The Island Korbat commanded. "Mr. Chuckles, Ophelia, start sorting. There's much to be done."
I think, from now on, I will be taken very seriously.....
I want to thank all my friends, who took the time to help me with my story: Carolyn (parody_ham), June (june_scarlet), and all my JCW chat buddies on the Neopian writing board! You rock! I couldn't have submitted this without you. Also special thanks to Droplet for taking the time to answer my questions. You're amazing! Happy Ode to the Villains Day! ~thedoggirl_97