Ketcher had seen Trevain before, in televised Battledome
matches. He knew that if they were going to get out of this mess, they'd need
some firepower. The Shoyru was still under guard, so that had to mean that he
wasn't completely under Sloth's control yet. At least, that was what Ketcher
was counting on.
From time to time the guards would change shifts,
leaving an opportunity to get into the lab without being noticed. How they missed
a pink Poogle sneaking in he'd never figure, but he got in just the same.
The once-mighty Trevain was now curled up in
a ball in the corner, fearfully awaiting the next of Sloth's 'adjustment' sessions.
When he heard Ketcher enter, he leapt to his feet and put on a defiant look.
"If you're here with a message from that great
green Cockatoo, save your time and leave now." The Shoyru's strong will filled
Zoma's friend with hope.
"I don't work for Sloth. I'm here to save a friend,
and I need your help."
"How are we going to get past big and ugly?"
"I've got a plan for that. If you do what I say,
I think we'll have a good chance of making it out of here." Trevain listened
carefully as he explained.
Within a few moments, the new guard had arrived.
The burly Grundo stood rigidly in front of the door, making sure no one got
in or out.
"Guard, we have a problem!" Trevain called out.
The mutant Grundo rushed in to find out what the trouble was. Ketcher was waiting
by the door. He brought a heavy piece of equipment down on the back of the guards
head, knocking him out.
"Crude, but effective," quipped Trevain, as he
used some cables to tie their captive to a chair. It didn't take long for him
to wake up, which fit in with Ketcher's plan nicely.
"Where have you taken Zoma?"
"...Zoma?" The Grundo blinked, confused.
"The green Pteri that you captured earlier today.
What do you plan to do with her?"
"Oh, her... the boss took her to his study. He's
got special plans for that one."
"What kind of plans?"
"Top secret. I ain't tellin'"
"I think you will!" Trevain growled, pointing
a Shoyru Battle Saber at his prisoner.
"Eh heh, of course. The doctor's gonna make her
into a carrier for his mutagen. He's demanded a ransom for the station, and
when he gets it, he'll send the pets back. That's not all he'll send, though."
The Grundo smirked, "He's terribly clever, I could never come up with a plan
like this. By the time Sloth gets the ransom money, he'll have had plenty of
time to make a slew of Neopets into little mutation factories. No one will ask
why Sloth would give back a load of prisoners this way, they'll all assume that
he was just after the money."
"This is horrible! We have to find a way to warn
someone," Ketcher squeaked.
"Even if we find a way to let Neopia know, they'd
still want to pay the ransom to get all these Neopets safely away from Sloth.
We've got to rally the other captives. If only we could show them that they
outnumber their captors, and get them armed somehow..."
"We'll have to find where they put the items
they've confiscated from everyone. There have got to be some weapons we can
use," Ketcher answered. "I bet the guards are pretty busy, so there might not
be as much attention on the Neopets now that they're unarmed."
"Maybe we could catch some more off guard like
While Trevain and Ketcher were putting their plan into action, Dr. Sloth was
doing some work of his own. Within moments he'd be ready to operate on Zoma,
implanting a device under the Pteri's skin. A bird type Neopet was exactly what
he needed, Pteri naturally secrete an oil to help keep their feathers water
proof. Once in place, the oil would become tainted with mutagen, and anyone
who touched her feathers would absorb it through their skin.
The small doses wouldn't be nearly as fast as
drinking a potion, but this would be a lot more practical than trying to trick
pets into drinking bottles of liquid they didn't recognize. Everything seemed
to be going well. He walked over to his intercom and pressed a button.
"Garb, give me a report on Trevain's progress."
No one answered.
"Garb? Garb! Oh, blast that fool, he's probably
off playing cards in the mess hall." He'd have to go and find out himself. Garb
would pay for this blatant disregard for duty.
The doctor stalked down the corridors of the
space station, his good humor ruined. He was trying to cheer himself up by contemplating
what he'd do to Garb when he found him, and that helped a bit. Until another
one of his Grundo troops appeared.
"My liege, we've got a terrible situation. We've
lost contact with several of our containment groups. It seems like some of the
captives have gotten a hold of weapons."
"So, we've lost the Trevain project?"
"It would appear so, sir."
"Hhnn. I guess it can't be helped. The mission
can still succeed as long as I have my carrier. Make sure I'm not interrupted."
With that, Sloth stormed back to his study. Sometimes on the way, fighting could
be heard down the corridors he passed. The prisoners were turning on their warders,
and there was very little time.
The doctor swept into the room, then stopped.
This certainly wasn't going to plan.
"You've ruined enough lives, Sloth. This is the
end." Trevain, though changed, was still in enough control to defy his would-be
master. The mutant Shoyru and Ketcher had found the study, and had freed Zoma.
"This certainly is the end, but not for me."
An escape pod passed the large window as Sloth said this, making him wonder
just how true that was. He drew a ray gun from under his cloak and took aim
at the nearest Neopet.
Ketcher's eyes widened as he stared down the
evil doctor's weapon. Just a few minutes ago, escape had looked certain. Now,
Sloth's imposing form stood between them and the open door.
"Gi-" the pink Poogle swallowed hard, "Give it
up, Sloth. Your crew is abandoning you." Another group of escape pods and small
ships whistled past, as if to accent the point.
"I shall not be beaten by a lowly bunch
of common fools! I've been planning too long, I've worked too hard for it to
end like this! Intellect and science shall overcome your base assaults." Dr.
Sloth seethed with a desperate sort of rage as his finger tightened on the trigger.
Zoma braced for the shot, but...
It never came. A yammering streak of brown hit
the doctor in the back of the knees, setting him off balance.
"Sparkles!" Zoma exclaimed, happy that she wouldn't
have to hunt down the little beast later, providing she survived.
The Khnum started racing madly about the room,
dodging blasts from the laser. Being attacked by a Petpet was so demeaning that
it completely enraged their captor. Sloth fired off shots at the offensive creature
with complete disregard for his surroundings. This proved a lucky break for
Ketcher, Zoma, and Trevain, As one of his shots grazed one of the strange machines.
The instrument of science violently burst into
flames, knocking the doctor off his feet. Zoma rushed forward and scooped up
Sparkles, then ran out of the room with her friends following behind. The three
of them didn't look back until they were safely on a ship back to Neopia.
Reporters from The Neopian Times and dozens of concerned Neopets surrounded
the shuttle when they landed. It was only after hours of talking to journalists
that Ketcher, Trevain and Zoma were left alone again.
"All of my life I've wanted to face Sloth in
battle, but when I finally got the chance, I blew it," Trevain sighed.
"You did the best you could. No one could fault
you for that," answered Zoma. "Everyone who was there knows that you were a
"That's true, I guess. I just... thought that
I was invincible. It had been years since I'd lost a fight. I know better now."
"What are you planning to do now?"
"Start training again, and searching for a way
to make Sloth pay for all that he's done."
"There are ways you can reverse the mutation
process, are you going to try any of those?" Ketcher asked.
"No. I've decided that I want to bear a mark
of my suffering, to let the world know why I fight. Maybe others he has hurt
will take comfort in knowing someone has been through what they have."
The house lights in the stadium faded down to
black, and the stage was flooded with beams from dozens of spotlights. Zoma
let out a squeal of excitement, but the cheers of the rest of the fans drowned
it out. One by one, the Shoyru of Yes Boy Ice Cream took the stage.
The screen behind them lit up with strange florescent
images. With a piercing chord, the band began to play. Their adoring fans were
quickly swept up in the unique mix of throbbing dance music and dizzying light
displays. This was as good as Zoma could have wanted, maybe even better. She
rode the energy of the audience, for a while forgetting about her ordeal just
They never caught Dr. Sloth, which didn't surprise
anyone. Chances were good that he was already working on the plans for his next
evil scheme. Trevain was back on the Battledome circuit, getting in as much
practice as he could before the next big tournament. Ketcher was... Ketcher.
Nothing seemed to have changed with him. Mrs. Maxwell had asked her to look
after Sparkles again the next weekend, and even though that could get annoying,
at least it was good money.
That was later, anyway. For now, it was just
Zoma, the crowd, and the music. And that was all she needed.