Highrock Pack History Songs: Song for Three Voices - Part Nine
The master had commanded His Drone to check on the sentries at the teleportation pad. They had disobeyed their orders to report to him every hour, and something was not right. Upon finding the two, His Drone had discovered them to be asleep. Despite several attempts, His Drone could not wake them. This meant that they had been put to sleep by magic, and that meant intruders.
His Drone had very specific orders in that area. Any intruders were to be eliminated immediately. Using a nasal oriented sensory method to investigate the area, His Drone was able to recognize the intruders’ scents. The two who had attempted to interfere with his orders before were back.
They would have to be dealt with. His Drone had orders, and the possibility of disobedience never once even entered his mind. The master’s word was law.
His Drone followed the scent of the intruders. For a while, it wandered about aimlessly. Nothing had been disturbed in any of the rooms. Then His Drone realized that the scent was leading towards the Drone Storage Room. Those Drones must not be disturbed. They were an important part of the master’s mission. His Drone’s hackles rose. It was time for action. From the strength of the scent, the intruders were still somewhere nearby.
He found them in the room where the human was being kept. The master had sent His Drone to capture the human. Humans were evil, and this one could not be allowed escape. The intruders were trying to free him.
With a snarl, His Drone leapt, smashing into the purple intruder. He threw the intruder against the wall and stood between the two and the human. “This human is a tool of my master’s retribution. Do not interfere.”
“Strike!” the faerie winged intruder yelped. “Please, come to your senses! You may not know me, but I am your sister! My name is Startled Skree Shrieks Loudly and-”
The faerie continued to make meaningless noises, and His Drone became angry. “I will not warn you again. Leave this place. If you continue to interfere, you will be destroyed.”
The purple intruder was trying to sneak past His Drone towards the human. His Drone snarled, and threw himself at the offender, snarling and snapping. He pinned the purple intruder, but the faerie came at His Drone from the side, knocking him off of his target. Transferring his wrath onto the other, His Drone flung himself at the faerie, with as much ferocity as he had offered the purple one. Suddenly, a voice cut across the din, calling out a single word;
His Drone turned in fury, looking for the fool who would attempt to prevent him from carrying out his master’s orders.
The human stood, unshackled, loosed from the machine. It seemed that while the faerie had distracted His Drone, the purple one had freed the human. The black clad youth was walking towards His Drone, who snarled warningly.
“Will... Will, Kris told me what happened. You’ve got to snap out of it! You don’t want to do this, I know you don’t!” The human looked at His Drone pleadingly.
His Drone snarled, “Human, my master will see the end of your evil kind’s rule on this world. He is all that there is. His orders are my actions. I hear, and I obey.” His Drone leapt towards the human, biting his arm and knocking him to the ground. The two intruders started to rise, but seemed to hesitate. His Drone hesitated too. Something was wrong. The human was leaking a wet, salty substance from his eyes.
“Oh Will,” the human said softly, “this is all my fault. I shouldn’t have driven you away like that. I should have seen that I have no right to change what you are if you don’t agree with it. Will... Will, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry!”
What? Sorry? You’re... sorry?
A voice in His Drone’s head? Meaningless. His Drone had to obey his orders. His Drone had to silence the intruders and recapture the human.
Lou... You apologized... You
His Drone felt a sharp, agonizing pain in his head...
* * * * *
Will’s eyes flew open. His body felt numb and stiff, and his thinking was sluggish, as if he was waking from a deep slumber. He felt a force trying to manipulate his limbs, to force his mind back into submissive blackness. Suddenly he realized that what he had heard.
Lou... You apologized? You... you acknowledged my right to decide my own fate. Oh no, what am I doing! No! I can’t do this, I have to stop this!
Will backed up, forcing his body off of Lou’s chest. Every step felt like he was moving through molasses, like his bones had turned to immobile steel. His head throbbed, and the collar around his neck was growing dreadfully hot-
The collar. That was it. When it had closed around his neck, he had fallen into that dreadful black place where he wasn’t his own master. If it stayed on his neck, he would go there again. He could only fight it so long. Already he could feel his tentative grip on consciousness fading.
“Get... this... thing... off... of... me,” he gasped, forcing out every word. His voice came out barely a whisper. It felt like he was trying to pry his mouth open with a muzzle around it. Suddenly, a hand gripped the collar. Looking to his side, Will saw Lou, holding the collar in one hand and a piece of broken glass from the truth machine in the other. Swinging with all his strength, Lou brought the glass into the collar.
An eruption of sparks exploded from the hated thing. It grew unbearably hot next to Will's neck. Yowling in pain, Will writhed, smacking the collar with his paws. It grew hotter and hotter, until Will was certain that it would set fire to his fur. Then, it exploded, sending Lou flying and knocking Will off his feet.
His neck was sore and burned, but that was insignificant. The numbness was gone. Will was free. He was free.
He leapt to his paws, every cell in his body charged with elation. Suddenly, memories rushed in like a flash flood. Everything that had happened since he had learned that Lou was turning him into a Draik swamped him with shame. He looked at his brother and owner, and said softly, “I... I’m sorry. Kris, I attacked you, I’m so sorry! Lou, how could I say those things! I-”
He felt a soft pressure on his cheek. Looking sideways, he saw a young faerie Lupess beside him. Her eyes were bright with sympathy and understanding. “Worry not, Venom Of Striking Cobrall. We know what happened. You need not worry, we understand.”
Will blinked. How did this Lupess know his pack name? He vaguely remembered her shouting something while he was still under the influence of the obedience collar. What had she said? ”You may not know me, but I am your sister! My name is Startled Skree Shrieks Loudly.”
“You... you’re my sister?” he said incredulously. The Lupess nodded.
“I am your twin. Our father fell into the Dragon Canyon with you gripped in his jaws, and the pack believed you to be gone. However, I was sent on a divine mission to find you. Only you can save the pack, and in doing so, all of humanity.” The Lupess gazed at him with calm golden eyes, full of certainty and trust.
Will- No, my name is Strike, he reminded himself- took a moment to digest this, uncertainty shadowing his thoughts. “Shriek... What can I do that someone else cannot?”
“Nothing,” echoed a familiar voice, as the assembled Lupes and lone human spun around. “You are too late.”
Prototype 12047 stood in the entrance to the secret room, a triumphant sneer on his face. He stalked into the room, with the calm air of someone who is completely sure of himself. The Xweetok stopped before Strike, saying with a hint of amusement, “It is interesting that you were able to shake the influence of my obedience collar, if only for a moment. I would study the matter further, but destiny calls to me, and I must answer.” He turned, slamming his tail into Kris as the Darigan Lupe tried to attack him.
“I lack only four minutes more until midnight. My drones are nearly complete. Soon, all will awaken nearly as powerful as I myself, but with none of my intelligence.” He smiled. “That’s part of why I’ve taken so long. I’m programming the battle plans into their brains. At midnight they will awaken, and the world will belong to the Neopets once again.” Proto turned to back to his enemies. “Too bad you won’t be around to see it. You are going to die here and now.”
The Xweetok slammed his paw down on a small button on the wall. The monitor in the room with the mutated Neopets went black, with glowing green numbers counting down the time left until midnight.
As the counter started its downward climb, a pair of mutant Gelerts padded into the room behind Proto. He smiled. “Too bad, little ones. Your faerie magic is useless. I have set up a field around my lab in which light magic cannot be practiced.” He turned to the Gelerts. “Finish them.”
The first leapt into the air, slamming hard into the still woozy Kris. The Darigan Lupe went down hard, scrabbling futilely with his paws at the offender. Strike turned to help him, but the other Gelert grabbed his tail and yanked him backwards by it. As he spun around to deal with his attacker, he saw Proto fall on Shriek out of the corner of his eyes.
To be continued...