The scene that Sloth was gazing so avidly at was Neofaerie
and Happiness, still surrounded by mutant Grundos. Neofaerie let out another
snarl, and he wrapped his jaw around NSQ's Lost Desert Dagger that he had strapped
to his leg. "Don't take another step closer!" he warned them through clenched
teeth. The Grundos stepped closer, taunting him.
Now they had reached the two pets. Neofaerie
readied himself to defend Happiness, transferring his dagger swiftly to his
right paw. One of the larger Grundos stepped up, arms raised, ready to crush
him. He roared loudly, brought his arms down fast over Neofaerie's head, and-
came to an abrupt halt midway, blinking stupidly as if something had stopped
A shimmering transparent dome of blue light had
shot up around the pair like a shield, protecting them from the Grundo's attack.
Neofaerie turned around sharply and watched as a Christmas Zafara, his sister,
soared over the mutants' heads, coming to land beside him. The blue dome let
her through as if she were plunging underwater.
"Nice timing," Neofaerie said thankfully. The
Zafara said nothing in return, but watched as one of the Grundos came forward,
touched the shield hesitantly, and jumped with a yell of as the shield emitted
a few sparks where he had touched and shocked him callously.
One by one the Grundos stepped forward, touched
the shield, and jumped back. Neofaerie couldn't see why they bothered doing
"Gluttons for punishment," said Neoangel softly,
and a few of the Grundos gazed past the shield at her as if they had heard her,
and understood what she had said. Finally, the largest Grundo straightened up,
grunted loudly to his fellows, and the troop shuffled off, looking rather disappointed.
The shield vanished, and Neofaerie bounded forward,
ready to take some of the Grundos down, now that Neoangel was there. But the
Zafara laid a paw on her brother's shoulder, her fingers gripping his shoulder
lightly yet firmly, and said, "Do not hurt them, Neofaerie. They are merely
victims of Sloth's vile work. They serve him unwillingly. It's not their fault."
Neofaerie couldn't argue with that, so he nodded
in agreement and turned around to face her. Happiness smiled and chirped, "glad
you could make it, Neoangel!"
Neoangel smiled at her, but said promptly to
Neofaerie, "Where is NSQ? I must speak to her. It is… very important."
"She's still in the cell," said Neofaerie, jerking
his paw in the direction of the door they'd come out of. "She wanted us to go
and find you, actually. Do you think you can get her out?"
Neoangel looked up at the imposing spaceship
and said, "Yes, but it will require some planning. Let me think about this."
Sloth stared out the window in disbelief as his faithful slaves trooped back
to the large spaceship. "No!" he shouted at them, although he knew they couldn't
hear him. "Don't come back! Go get the job done!"
"Something wrong, Sloth?" came the voice from
the glass piece, sounding somewhat amused.
"A Zafara has just come and stuck some feeble
shield around my prisoners," he snapped irately, "and my Grundos just give up!
How can they do this to me?"
"Hmm… what colour is the Zafara?" asked Denriada,
suddenly sounding interested.
"Christmas," said Sloth irritably. "A Christmas
Zafara stuck some shiny blue dome-shield around my hostages, and now they're
going to escape. Well, if you don't want them, then please don't bother me anymore-"
"I'll take them," interrupted the voice abruptly.
"Keep them all there, and I'll take all four of them."
"Really?" asked Sloth, delighted. "Well yes,
of course, I knew you would, seeing as it's a wonderful deal. Now, about that
"I will pay 70,000 Neopoints for them," replied
Denriada breathlessly, "just get them to me."
"They’re yours!" said Sloth ecstatically. "You
may come to Virtupets Space Station to pick them up right away! I'll send a
slave or two to meet you at the Grundos café."
The dark purple dot beside Denriada's name paled
white, and Sloth flicked on the black switch gleefully and said into the speakerphone,
"Slaves, find the hostages and bring them back! I don't care what the consequences
are, just do it!" He tapped a button beside the switch so that the two purple
Grundos could hear him and said, "you two, go to Grundos, the café, and you'll
meet some sort of villain there. Bring her or him back here."
He leaned back in his chair with his hands behind
his head and smirked. Life was good.
The army of mutant Grundos stopped, blinking bemusedly at one another. They
had just heard their master's voice, telling them to go back and recapture the
escaped pets. But how were they to do that? With that irksome Zafara in the
way, and her magic powers…
The Grundos turned to their leader, who was the
biggest and strongest one there. He grunted, and the rest of them understood.
The sting of the blue shield was much easier to handle than what their master
would do to them if they failed. Reluctantly, the Grundos climbed back aboard
their flying hovercraft and shot back towards the runaways.
Happiness, who was keeping watch, tugged one
of Neoangels wings and said, "They're coming back, Neoangel!"
The Zafara looked over and spread her wings.
"Alright," she said, "let's go."
"Can't you make another shield?" asked Neofaerie.
"I'd rather not," said Neoangel. "That last shield
took up a lot of magic energy, and I would rather save my strength for a desperate
Happiness crouched to jump onto Neofaeries back,
but he put a paw out to stop her. "I can't run that fast," he said to Neoangel.
"You can carry Happiness, she's pretty light. I'll stay back and-"
"What will you do, Neofaerie?" asked Neoangel
quietly. "You can not hold them off by yourself. I will carry Happiness if you
think you can run faster that way."
"I'll just slow you down," muttered Neofaerie,
pawing the holographic (was it holographic or real?) ground.
Neoangel bent down gracefully and picked up Happiness
in her furry, human-like arms. Then she straightened out and said to Neofaerie,
"they are almost here. If we do not go now, they will catch up to us."
"I'm staying behind," said Neofaerie firmly.
The Zafara watched him for a second before looking
up to the sky and floating into the air. She hovered a few metres above the
ground, staring at the looming spaceship in the distance.
"Knock them off."
"Pardon?" Neofaerie asked perplexedly, not quite
understanding what Neoangel wanted him to do.
"Knock them off the board they are riding," explained
Neoangel. "Listen, I can be a distraction. They will get off and chase me, and
you can destroy the flying board. Then you will be able to outrun them."
Neofaerie paused and said, "That's a good idea,
but… they're scared of you. They probably won't go after you. We'll need another
distraction. How about…"
His eyes rested on his younger sister, giggling
to herself as she looked down at the ground, which was farther away from her
than usual (since Neoangel was still lingering in the air), and waiting patiently
for Neoangel to fly higher.
"We'll use Happiness," said Neofaerie. "Happiness
can be the bait, and when they get close to her, you'll have to get her out
of the way, Neoangel."
Instead of objecting to this like Neofaerie thought
she would, Neoangel nodded unquestioningly and agreed, "Okay." She landed on
the ground with a soft flump, and let Happiness hop out of her arms. After that,
she flew higher, so that anyone who was looking straight would not be able to
see her, no matter how tall they were. Neofaerie ran across the field and crouched
down low, hoping that the Grundos wouldn't be able to see him.
The Grundos jumped off their crude flying device
with a loud thump. They looked around in confusion. Where had the other two
Neopets gone? All they saw was a tiny rainbow Cybunny, sitting right in front
of them and smiling up at them ingenuously. The Cybunny waved and said brightly,
"Hello!" Completely baffled, the Grundos stared at the pet with bewildered expressions.
Happiness makes the perfect distraction,
thought Neofaerie, slinking off towards the flying machine, keeping his belly
low to the ground. If he didn't want to be seen, he'd have to go the long way
in a half circle instead of cutting diagonally across. And even then, he'd be
lucky if they didn't spot him. He'd have to be very, very quiet…
The Grundo leader stepped forward apprehensively.
This had to be some sort of trap… or maybe the Cybunny was serving as a diversion?
The Grundo grumbled and rubbed his head; this was too much thinking for his
puny brain. He walked up to the Cybunny and bent his neck so that he was staring
down at it. The thing tilted its head vaguely.
High above them, Neoangel watched the
scene tensely. The Grundos, although dense, wouldn't sit there forever. Soon
they'd be attacking Happiness, and she'd be completely defenseless. But Neofaerie
hadn't reached the flying device yet, and until he destroyed it, Neoangel had
to stay out of the way… she watched the Kougra slowly make his way to the machine.
He was almost there, but so was the mutant Grundo leader. The leader raised
one massive fist… Neofaerie was so close to the contraption… Neoangel tensed.
She had to act now.
To be continued...