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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 6th day of Running, Yr 23
The Neopian Times Week 94 > Continuing Series > Cherries Jubalee: Part Three

Cherries Jubalee: Part Three

by theeaterofworlds

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 this bozo."

***

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 hero."

     "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."

Epilogue

     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 weeks before.

     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.

The End

Previous Episodes

Cherries Jubalee: Part One

Cherries Jubalee: Part Two

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Something Has Happened
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