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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 15th day of Sleeping, Yr 23
The Neopian Times Week 123 > Continuing Series > All The Colours: Part Fifteen

All The Colours: Part Fifteen

by hot_pink_lizard

The next few tasks were easy enough. Kunila was very good with the more physical ones (Walking a tightrope is deceptively easy for a Kougra, and walking on hot coals isn't that difficult when you have paw pads designed for scorching beach sands.) where as Keeragh foiled the trickiest Tiki puzzles (The old 'Pick the coconut with the bean under it' game is very, very easy when you have an Eyrie's sense of smell, and it turned out that he had a knack for Gadsgadsgame.). Finally, the sun was going down, and the Tiki Neopets were getting increasingly edgy. The Tiki warrior who had introduced himself as Mu Cho Bra Vo edged up to Keeragh and Kunila.

     "You are Ku Ni La and Keer Agh, it is proved. But… ah… there is one test more."

     "Bring it on." Keeragh touched the dragon I had hung around his neck and grinned again.

     "Follow me," Mu Cho Bra Vo gestured miserably. The two pets shared a puzzled look before they did so. Something was afoot. Or possibly a-paw, or even a-tentacle. You could never be sure.

     We were taken out of our cages with our hands or front paws roped together and nooses around our necks. I had no illusions about them letting us go. They were just making sure the celebration feast wasn't going to escape when everyone wasn't looking.

     They took us to a large clearing, quite a way from the village. It was empty except for what looked like an old, abandoned Battledome arena, overlooked by a stone throne. Kunila and Keeragh were pushed to the front as everyone flung themselves at the ground.

     "Forgive us, Witch who walks unseen!" the Witchdoctor howled. "But these two say they be Ku Ni La and Keer Agh of prophecy! We beg you, test them, and prove truth!"

     There was a sudden rustle of whispers. No one was talking. No one would have dared to. So where, exactly, were the whispers coming from?

     

     I didn't have to ask who she was, because at that moment a figure appeared on the throne.

     She was misty, almost see-through, like a ghost rather than a real person. She was dressed in rags, her pretty face flanked by Peophin-like ears and almost covered with a jewelled golden mask. Hooves had replaced her hands and she had a finned tail.

     ~I am the Witch~ she boomed, but her mouth didn't move. The voice was entirely inside our heads. ~I shall test these two. Come forward, little ones.~

     They took two paces forward, very hesitantly.

     She nodded, an evil smile creeping across her face. ~I challenge you to defeat my guardian.~ she waved her hand, and a creature appeared in the arena. It was roughly similar to an oversized Gallion, but oversized Gallions didn't have dark blue scales with crimson stripes, or a mane of flames, or wings the size of mainsails. In fact, oversized Gallions didn't have curls of steam coming out of their nostrils either. This monster was trouble. Big trouble. In the most literal sense of the word. Keeragh gulped, but trotted down into the stone circle after the exited Kunila.

     He barely had time to crouch before the creature reared back and spat a fireball at him. The Eyrie leapt into the air, barely avoiding it. Kunila charged, ducking under the beast's stomach and slicing at it with his claws. Beating his wings hard, Keeragh landed on the opposite side of the arena, only to be swamped by a sudden tidal wave. His feathers totally soaked, his wings were now almost useless, and he could only roll aside as a second fireball sent up clouds of steam. The Kougra was caught a sudden blow with the creature's tail, knocking him clear to the other side of the arena.

     "Fire AND Water? That's cheating!" I yelled. The other pets were in varying stages of dismay.

     

     For a few more desperate seconds, they dodged the beast's attacks with increasing difficulty. Don't believe what anyone says about winning after long, arduous fights with dragons and other sundry monsters… you get it over with as quickly as possible, or you lose. In was kinda inevitable that finally, Keeragh wouldn't be quick enough and a fireball would catch the edge of his wing. He collapsed into one of the large puddles that now covered the arena, shrieking in pain and trying to smother the flames. The giant Gallion pinned him with one front paw. Kunila leapt onto its shoulders, but the mane of flames burnt his paws and the creature tore him free with its teeth, flinging him against the stone with a nasty sound. Several of the pets screamed, and I was tearing at the ropes with my teeth… I had to help him…

     Then the Witch started laughing.

     She threw back her head and laughed like she would never stop. The creature just watched her, waiting for an order. Finally, the hybrid of Faerie and Spirit was able to gasp out some words around the laugh.

     ~Fools!~ She cackled. ~You cannot defeat it! My creature, my masterpiece, it feeds off fear, and pain, and cruelty, and anguish. The more you run, the more you hurt, the more you attack, the stronger and angrier it will become! Fools! This is the end for you! Monster, Kill!~

     "Wait!"

     Keeragh held up one paw, for some unknown reason he was still alive. The beast's mouth was open, and he was looking between the Eyrie and the Witch with an indescribable mix of emotions on its face.

     "You don't really want to kill me," Keeragh said soothingly. "I don't want to hurt you. I won't hurt you. I want to be your friend. SHE'S trying to trick you, the more you fight the more unhappy you'll become…"

     ~Won't work, little Eyrie! You think I didn't think someone would try that? He cannot turn against me! He can't think, the stupid little monster. I thought I told you to kill him?~

     This last sentence was addressed at the giant Gallion, who was looking more and more confused. Finally, it said something, the same mind-voice as the spirits had, but slowed, hesitant, as though it wasn't used to speaking.

     Not Monster.

     ~What did you say?~

     Now the creature was thrashing its tail with a mix of anger and pain. Not Monster! Not want to be Monster! You not call me MONSTER!

     It looked down, and took its paw off Keeragh. The Eyrie still had his paw out, more from paralysed fear than anything else. The creature lifted its claw again and very slowly, shook his paw, speaking out loud for the first time.

     "Frrrrend…"

     The relief on Keeragh's face was visible even from where we were standing. The Eyrie nodded happily.

     "Yes! I'm your friend and you're my friend! What's your name, friend?"

     "Frrrrend…"

     "Frend? Can I call you that?"

     It nodded happily, thrashing its tail with joy this time. I rubbed my eyes. Was it me, or was it getting smaller?

     "Okay, Frend! You can come home with me, and I'll introduce you to all my friends, and you'll never have to fight anyone again, I promise!"

     All of a sudden, the slow shrinking sped up. The Gallion went from mammoth to minimus in about ten seconds.

     ~No!~ shrieked the Witch, but it was too late, we were already cheering.

     "He did it!" Lu punched the air. "Face it, Witch! He did it! He defeated your guardian!"

     We were all cheering at the top of our voices, but Perilo and Elenna had already dissolved into happy tears. Ramei was being as supporting as he could with two equines sobbing into his feathers. Two Tiki warriors rushed forwards and carried Kunila to the edge, as As Pa Rin the Healer ran forward and produced a bottle of healing potion.

     Keeragh carried the Gallion to the sidelines as the Kougra regained consciousness slowly. "Hey, Kunila, are you alright? And, you can talk to petpets, can't you?"

     "Of course! I'm just fine, and that was brilliant, Keeragh!" Kunila touched a large bump on the back of his head. "No hard feelings, little Frend? What do you want me to say to him?"

     "Can you ask Frend here if he minds being little? Oh, and ask him if he'd like to be my petpet, too."

     The Kougra stared into the Gallions eyes for a few seconds, the petpet doing the same, before looking up. "He's fine with small, he was small before and didn't like being big that much, that Witch lady made him be big. And he'd love to be your petpet!"

     ~Fine.~ The Witch had got over her brief rage. ~You win, little Eyrie. You've defeated an admittedly pathetic monster.~ This made Frend hiss loudly, and Keeragh had to hang on tight to him to stop him attacking her on sight. ~But what have you gained? Nothing! I am still here. Lets see if you can defeat ME.~

     Kunila took a step forward, ready to fight the Witch if he had to, but Keeragh stopped him. He glanced at the silver dragon around his neck, and then looked up at me.

     The Spirits were alive in every inch of my body. I was barely me anymore. I was THEM.

     "I have the right to a champion?" the Eyrie's voice floated through the thick haze that threatened to overwhelm me.

     ~Of course. Do anything you like.~ The Witch, Deepwater, was laughing at us. Laughing! At us!

     "Then I choose Chrissy!" Keeragh turned to glare at a couple of Tiki warriors, who ran to get me.

     I was untied and given back my backpack, which had all of my stuff inside it. I draped it over one arm and walked towards Deepwater, totally calm, totally not myself.

     "Deepwater." They were talking through me again. What was happening? "Leave Kanati to her eternal rest and come with us."

     ~What?~ She… he… it was panicking now. I, no, they reached inside my pack and held out the two parts of the Spectrum currently in my possession. Who was I, anyway? Who were they? Where was the line? I couldn't see it anymore… couldn't feel where I stopped and weapon began…

     "Come with us, Deepwater. Our last duty. Then we can rest, when the Light Queen lies dead."

     "No!" The voice had changed. Something had changed. The shape of the Witch was changing. Deepwater was leaving her, but…

     "But Kanati does not want to die." I answered my own question. "Do not be frightened… death is not so bad… and we should know…"

     She didn't have a choice. Deepwater flew towards us, a cloud of particles around a single, strait piece of wood, the Piece of Water, and for a moment Kanati, just Kanati, sat on the throne. Then, with a heart rending screech, there was just ash.

     The pieces fused with a flash of blindness, a strong smell of pine needles and sea spray, sudden warmth and a breath of air. They were whole. I was whole. I was them and they were me. We were one.

     Except I was fighting with all the strength I possessed.

     Give me my body back give me my body back give me my body back give me my body back By the Mother of all Wombats, you stupid spirits, GIVE ME BACK MY BODY!

     And then, unbelievably, there was a familiar voice. A voice from the time before the quest. A voice I knew, and trusted, and associated with warm greetings and protection.

     "A-zero-zero-one Squadron… wait-for-it-wait-for-it-wait-for-it… BREAK!"

     I flung my head back and yelled at the top of my voice as a tight formation of blue Neopets flying across the sky spread out suddenly, shooting off in different directions.

     "SPARKS!"

     The world turned black. I'd fainted so many times by now; I think I had the falling softly perfect.

***

The Blue Arrows.

     I regained consciousness in a Tiki hut, with As Pa Rin the Healer, Elenna, Immacolata, Hina and a very familiar Starry Scorchio staring over me.

     "Dudette! You okay?" Hina quickly passed me a coconut shell full of water. Elenna looked like she'd been crying a lot. Immacolata let out a breath of relief and then rubbed her eyes wearily.

     "You were unconscious for two days." She explained. "We haven't slept."

     "That," I replied, sipping the water. "Was without a doubt the single worst experience of my life. The Spectrum..." All of a sudden, I sat bolt upright. "Where is it? No one touched it, did they?"

     "Like, no one wanted to." Hina shoved me back against the pile of leaves that served as a pillow. "But we wrapped it up, like, in some blankets and brought it anyway."

     "You've got to rest up before you can race off and save the world." The Starry Scorchio, who hadn't said anything yet, grinned at me. "If I hadn't turned up when I did, who knows what might have happened?"

     "It was sheer luck," I grinned back at her. "Everyone, this is Sparks, although you've probably already been introduced. She's squadron leader for HQs one and only aerial support unit."

     "A-zero-zero-one," Sparks added. "Also known as the Blue Arrows, for obvious reasons."

     "There's only one of you?" Elenna frowned as Sparks nodded. "They, why couldn't you just call it One or something?"

     "It's got to sound right," the Scorchio protested. "No self-respecting squadron would call itself One. They all have names like F-nine-zero-six or something in that vein. It just so happens that ours is called A-zero-zero-one, 'cus there IS only one. If there were another one, it would be A-zero-zero-two, capice? We prefer the Blue Arrows, though, 'cus we are all blue one way or another."

     Immacolata turned back to me. "If you're feeling better, Chrissy, I think some sunlight and food would do you good. Come on."

     As Pa Rin gave me one last dose of healing potion before I was allowed to stagger into the light. Almost immediately we were swamped with pets.

     "You're alright!" Ramei almost knocked me down. "Thank Maraqua, Perilo has barely stopped crying since! At least now I'll be able to dry my feathers out."

     Kunila leapt up and wrapped his paws around me. "You're okay! She's okay! Hey everybody, Chrissy's okay! You're absolutely A-OK!"

     Lu thumped my arm and grinned. "You had us worried there. Don't do that again, right?"

     "Oh, Sweet Ghostkerchief, you're fine!" Perilo smacked Ramei round the head for the feathers joke, and then blew her nose noisily. "I thought… we thought…"

     Keeragh was staring at the ground, rather embarrassed. He held out my dragon pendant. "Err… sorry. Was kinda my fault. I didn't think…"

     "That's okay, Keeragh." I draped the chain around my neck one-handed, because a certain Spotted Kougra had pinned my other arm to my side. "It was going to happen anyway, it's just good you didn't get blasted in the process!"

     I was hustled over to a fire and a huge amount of fish and fruit was shoved in front of me. Having my mouth full gave me a good excuse not to participate in the conversation, which was taking an unpleasant turn.

     "We have the slight problem that this is going to happen every time Chrissy tries to wield the Spectrum. We might not be so lucky next time." Immacolata mused in a low voice. Hina nodded.

     "But, dudes and dudettes, Chrissy will, like, be able to stop them. She's, like, done it before."

     Lu stretched. "It's not finished, though. We've got one piece left. Found anything, Ramei?"

     "I haven't asked," he admitted. Picking up the compass from around his neck, he stared at it for a few moments. A thin trail of blue writing, much shorter than before, appearing inside the gold circle. Immacolata leaned over his shoulder.

     "Coordinates," she mused. "Very… unusual coordinates. I have a theory, but… Ramei, can you ask it where to find Waterlily?"

     The Eyrie nodded and focussed a second time. Another trail of writing appeared. It was identical.

     "I thought so," the Blue Aisha nodded. "The Faerie who stole Waterlily has the last piece. They are both in the extra-dimensional pocket that I told you of."

     "Great," Elenna replied sarcastically. "My big sister and the final piece of the Spectrum are both in the one place on Neopia that we can't get to. Brilliant."

     "Who says we can't get to it?" Immacolata replied darkly. We all stared at her.

     With a superior expression, she produced her laptop. After all it had been through, I was surprised it was still working. Flipping it open, the Aisha selected a program. "I created Platform +/- Infinity as a method of, ah, creating an alibi. It would twist the Neopian Algorithm so that a pet or pets could be moved thousands of miles in an instant, to any known locale. Since we have the coordinates…"

     Perilo, however, already knew Immacolata too well. "What's the catch?"

     "It requires a power source roughly the size and density of a Flagship-Class Space Generator."

     "Ah," Keeragh sighed, sitting down hard. "So that's useless."

     "Not necessarily." Sparks replied airily, helping herself to a slice of Funnydew Melon from my plate. I stared at her for a moment, then cottoned on.

     "Of course." I swallowed quickly. "Flagship-Class, you say?"

     Hina might not be quick on the uptake, but I had to admit, he did have occasional flashes of brilliance. "What do you two dudettes know that we don't?"

     Sparks glanced at me, chewed the remainder of the Melon rind and said calmly. "We've got a Flagship-Class spaceship. Fully functional, or should be."

     Now it was Ramei's turn to be sarcastic. "What's the catch?"

     "The Space Station it's docked with, Virtuapets 6, is overrun with Evil Fuzzles," I explained.

     Kunila leapt about a foot into the air. "Evil Fuzzles from Outer Space?" For a moment he looked petrified, but then he relaxed. "Oh well, guess we can't go there, then? Can't we?"

     I grinned. "Oh, I never said that… I think we better go pay White a visit."

* * * * *

"Great Ghoti!"

     "Sweet Ghostkerchief!"

     "Like, DUDE!"

     "Yeah, quite swish, isn't it?"

     I was quietly refusing to be impressed by HQs new Headquarters. The pets weren't quite so calm. That much ultramodern brushed steel and blue glass can do that to you.

     Sparks and the rest of the Blue Arrows had given us a lift over here, and had apologised that they weren't able to come with us since they had to run some low altitude checks (Exactly where, they refused to say.). I calmly sauntered up to the head office, with awestruck pets in tow, and almost ran into a strangely familiar Faerie Kacheek.

     "Yo, Chrissy." It took me a moment to work out who he was.

     "Hey, Shift. I like the new look!" Shift was our resident Labby. He'd had his species, colour and gender changed so many times via experimental morphing potions, paintbrushes and the Lab Ray that it was sheer luck he wasn't a pile of goop.

     "So do I, though it's a tad on the small size. Can't wait to try out the new Darigan Paintbrush, Luna and Solar are still working on the temporary morphing potions." He tapped a small badge pinned to his collar. "I got promoted. Head of Espionage. What d'you think?"

     "Great." I gave him a thumbs-up. "Oh, before I forget, you've met Hina, Immacolata and Elenna, but this is Ramei, Keeragh, Kunila, Perilo and Lu."

     "Pleased to meet you." Shift grinned, fluttering gently in the air. "Shadow, White and the Kougra Twins are over in Ops, you'd be better off looking there. Oh, and speaking of Luna and Solar, you're in for a surprise."

     "What d'you mean?" I frowned, but he just grinned and flittered away. I sighed and found the door to Operations. "You lot wait here, okay?"

     The new Ops was pretty cool. Wall to wall plasma view screens, an interactive map of Neopia showing the various hotspots and positions of the different units and agents, and even a drinks machine. White choked on his coffee as I walked in.

     "Chrissy! What are you doing here?"

     I smiled at the White Eyrie. "I've come to ask a favour."

     Shadow turned round and grinned. He was a Shadowed Lupe with a studded black collar, and headed up our Special Operations force. "Hey, you found Waterlily yet? You look like you were just dragged through a hedge backwards, by the way."

     "No," I sighed, choosing a seat. "We haven't found Waterlily yet, but we know where she is. Hence the need for the favour. I'll explain later, but for now, I just need to ask if I can borrow the Archangel."

     "Last time we checked…"

     "The Archangel was overrun."

     "With Evil Fuzzles."

     I almost fell out of my chair. I now realised what Shift had meant about me getting a shock. Luna and Solar had changed, and not for the better. Luna, a Silver Kougra, was wearing a studded black collar like Shadow's, with bracelets to match, jeans that looked suspiciously like they had once belonged to Hina, a ripped T-shirt with 'Save the Primella' on it and her hair dyed bright pink and gelled into random spikes. Solar was no better, her Golden hair had been dyed black and slicked flat over her face, and she wore a black velvet dress with long black sleeves and fishnet gloves.

     "Sweet mother of Wombats." My eyebrows hit the roof. "What happened to you two?"

     "They hit their teenage rebellion stage a bit late." Shadow muttered. I stifled a giggle as the Kougra Twins glared at him. They might look a bit strange, but they were still the best Techies we had.

     "Well, you see, I had an idea… it's a bit risky, but it's doable."

     "This idea wouldn't involve a walkerbot and a Big Gun, would it?"

     "Funny you should say that, White…"

To be continued...

Previous Episodes

All The Colours: Part One

All The Colours: Part Two

All The Colours: Part Three

All The Colours: Part Four

All The Colours: Part Five

All The Colours: Part Six

All The Colours: Part Seven

All The Colours: Part Eight

All The Colours: Part Nine

All The Colours: Part Ten

All The Colours: Part Eleven

All The Colours: Part Twelve

All The Colours: Part Thirteen

All The Colours: Part Fourteen

All The Colours: Part Sixteen

All The Colours: Part Seventeen

All The Colours: Part Eighteen

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