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A Confusing Conglomeration: Part One


by appaloosa500

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"What next?" asked a tall red Ruki, sitting in a corner bent over a heap of bicycle parts.

     "Attach the cord labeled C5 to that other cord labeled A2 with the connector labeled B7," instructed a tiny yellow Aisha, not really paying attention. He had a pencil behind his right earstalk, a screwdriver in one paw and the door to a cabinet he was trying to fix in his other. Oddly, he was dressed in human-style clothing, a stained, white T-shirt and rather beat-up old jeans.

     The bell on the door of the slightly cluttered Fix-It shop rang and the Aisha sighed. He set aside the screwdriver, got to his back paws, and looked over the remarkably short counter.

     "Good morning, sir," said the Aisha, seeing a uniformed Special Delivery Mail Chia. "How may I help you?"

     The Mail Chia looked the unusual little Aisha up and down, then lifted a clipboard. He read aloud. "DeSoni, care of DeSoni's Fix-It Shop. 5234 E. Willow Boulevard, Neopia Central. Small yellow Aisha, no distinguishing features other than extreme shortness. Private first-class, six-point level security."

     "That's me," said the Aisha, with a mocking lift to his eyebrows. To give him his due, the note pretty obviously meant him and no one else.

     The Ruki in the corner, Rocky to his friends, stubbornly kept fussing with the bicycle he'd insisted on assembling himself. He was having a horrible time with the brake cables, but refused to accept any more help than someone telling him the instructions.

     "Sign here," said the Mail Chia, handing DeSoni a receipt. DeSoni did and the Mail Chia handed him a small box.

     "Thanks," said the Aisha politely, flipping the box for a return address. He didn't find one.

     The Mail Chia mumbled something like, "Just my job," and left.

     Rocky finally glanced up and noticed the box. "What's that?" he asked, trying to untangle his two pairs of feet to stand up.

     "Probably just some part I ordered," answered DeSoni. "For first-class delivery it very well might be those extra diamonds for that tiara, and that silly jeweler is so paranoid it would explain there not being a return address."

     DeSoni leaned under the table and snatched up a scissors-meanwhile, Rocky finally decided to take a break from his bike and took a Neocola from the mini-fridge in the corner.

     A slice through the thick packaging tape and the box was open. But… "What in the world?" wondered DeSoni, seeing nothing but crumbled paper. He began yanking them out.

     "What's up, Soni?" asked Rocky.

     "There's nothing here!" laughed the tiny Aisha in a surprised voice.

     "Sure there is," retorted Rocky. "Did you try uncrumpling those?" He pointed at the paper balls.

     DeSoni glanced over from checking the inside of the now-empty box. "No, actually."

     For a super-genius, he sure can be dense sometimes, thought the Ruki with a slight internal smile. Aloud, he said, "Let's get to it then."

     The two friends quickly uncrumpled the paper balls, carefully checking both sides.

     "Got it!" cheered Rocky, holding up a rumpled paper. "But it doesn't make any sense. And why would anyone send you a secret message anyway?"

     DeSoni met his eyes sarcastically.

     "Oh, well-yeah," the Ruki mumbled timidly.

     Just to cue you in, Rocky has this tendency to dwell in 'the now' and forget his best friend's really an Alien Aisha and an ex-top espionage and research agent. You'd think after DeSoni gave Rocky super-powers, which he still has, and after all those times he's had to save DeSoni's tail from vengeful nemeses of the little guy's past, he'd remember-but, hey, people are people. Or Neopets… whatever.

     Now that Rocky was thinking along those lines, reasoning on the matter was slightly easier, though still foggy. "But, we're clear with the Alien Aishas now-right? So it, well, can't be anything really bad. What on Neopia is it anyway?"

     DeSoni had smoothed out the paper and was scanning it intently. "You're never going to believe this."

     "Sure I will."

     "It's an old college buddy of mine-Kregor Geiger. He must need something, and since I'm still persona non grata on the Alien Aisha home world, naturally he'd have to use some ulterior method."

     Rocky plopped into a stray chair. "I don't believe it. Not a military commander? Not a sinister childhood rival? Just an old buddy-it's too simple."

     "It's gotta be Kregor; we designed this code together. We randomly assigned a small picture of a tool to a letter in the alphabet and practiced until we were both so good at it we could exchange notes and all the teachers thought they were random sketchings."

     That seemed to finally make sense to Rocky. "Okay, what's it say?"

     "Man, it's been years," DeSoni groaned, and took the pencil from where it had remained tucked behind his earstalk. "Let's see, a regular screwdriver was a D, a laser penknife was an E, magnetic pliers were an R…"

     "You had way too much time in college."

     "Hush," ordered the Aisha, and continued. Soon he'd decoded the entire message:

     DEREK PLEASE HELP STOP BEING FRAMED STOP SEE IN DESERT PLEASE STOP KREGOR

     "Forget what I said," said Rocky resignedly, clapping his tiny buddy on the shoulder. "I believe it completely. A melodramatic secret code, pressed into a note, disguised as a paper ball, hidden in a package, posing as a desperate cry for help-it's right up your lane, Soni."

          ******

     "Here we are, back to my roots!" proclaimed Rocky, spreading his arms to express the expansiveness of the great Lost Desert before them. The two friends stood in the shade of a few palm trees facing Sakhmet. "Although I don't remember a thing of it-been in the city too long. I do believe I have relatives somewhere though."

     DeSoni sighed, recognizing that his Ruki friend was once again trying to avoid the real reason they were there. "Interesting, buddy. Now, do you have the slightest clue where someone from my homeworld would hide and arrange a secret meeting from?"

     Rocky frowned and turned back to his tiny friend. "Is there a reason you're asking me? Last I checked, you were in charge of the brains department."

     The tiny yellow Aisha shook his head slowly. "Honestly, I don't know anything about the Lost Desert." He gestured around at the rolling sands and spots of palm trees. "I was never posted here when I was an agent, and afterwards I never bothered to visit. Khargana always insisted anything over 100 degrees couldn't possibly be worth it. And you know as well as I that Kregor didn't drop any clues in that message."

     "Which I still insist is overdramatic and somewhat ridiculous," mumbled Rocky. "Why couldn't we bring the message with us again?"

     "So whoever's trailing or framing Kregor doesn't find us and begin coming our way. He may even know Kreg sent a help note, even if he doesn't know how or what. And, of course, it doesn't have to be a 'he,' I'm just using that term because it's easier than saying 'he or she.' It may even be a 'they' now that I think about it. All the easier for a 'them' to trace the note."

     Rocky visibly gulped.

     "But there's little chance of that, don't worry."

     "You know I hate it when you say that. A chance is still a chance, and I can't exactly put an end to my apprehension like that," he said, snapping. "Maybe that Celia Synoptics is locked up, as far as we know anyway, but that Commander Galba is still on the loose. And if I remember correctly, he really had it in for you."

     "Don't be ridiculous," laughed DeSoni lightheartedly. "Galba's under direct orders not to trace, harass, or otherwise use Alien Aisha technology against me. He may hate me, but he respects the Madam Commander more."

     "Which is why I'm taking care that she never finds out about this," said a cold familiar voice from the palm tree directly above them.

     Before either Aisha or Ruki could react, a heavy net that had been hidden in the sand beneath their feet swooped them up, knocking them off balance and hauling them high into the air.

     A red Alien Aisha in a stiff military uniform leaped from the top of the tree and landed perfectly the 15 or so feet below. The tips of his four earstalks were roughly six feet below the net, which, considering he was far from being a short, stubby guy kind of means something.

     DeSoni's eyes widened in shock and Rocky narrowed his eyes angrily.

     "You know how I hate to say 'I told you so'?!" growled Rocky.

     "Well, well, well," chuckled Commander Galba. "The protected traitor and the Neopian who helped him escape last time. How nice."

     Heatedly, Rocky tore at the ropes, utilizing his super-strength without even realizing it. It ripped like paper and the two friends fell the long way to the ground, crashing hard.

     While DeSoni lay, slightly stunned, Rocky got to his feet and charged Galba before he could draw a weapon. Going so fast that he was a blur, he shoved the red Alien Aisha over and the blaster holstered at the red Alien Aisha's side went spinning over the sands.

     Rocky spun in a wide circle and whipped back towards DeSoni, but found stopping on sand from super-speed was a lot easier said than done. He tried to skid to a stop as he usually did and found it didn't slow his momentum much at all-he seemed to be surfing across the sands. He finally slowed by digging his feet into the sand, but when he finally came to a stop he was buried up to his knees and over 50 feet away from DeSoni and Galba. And Galba would be recovering any second!

     The Ruki quickly yanked his feet out of the sand and jogged forward, not trusting his super-speed though there was rather a need for it.

     ******

     Galba carefully unholstered another stunner from beneath his right arm, then jumped up and shot the tall red Ruki before he could sweep him off his paws again. Then he lowered the stunner and aimed it straight at DeSoni. "Get up, traitor."

     ******

     "Honestly," groaned DeSoni, pushing himself into a sitting position. "This is just getting old."

     "For once, this is not about you," said Galba.

     "Oh, yeah?" said DeSoni sarcastically. "Then why is my friend lying prone and why am I on the business end of your stunner?" The tiny yellow Aisha rubbed between his earstalks, which is unfortunately where he had taken the brunt of his fall.

     "I'll tell you what it is about: one, Kregor Geiger, and two, his future promotion."

     "So I'm to presume you're going to somehow use me to stop Kreg's promotion? Why do you even care? If I remember correctly, he switched majors from engineering to medical after I left. So what if he becomes the Head M.D.?"

     "He's been the Head MD for the past four years."

     "Oh," said DeSoni, finally getting it. If Kregor was already Head MD, the only promotion would be-"the Madam's Council."

     "Yes, which I-though having been a commander for six years-have never even been considered for."

     "Aw, Feepits," groaned DeSoni-almost wishing it was still about him and how he'd 'betrayed their people' and whatnot.

     "Let's go," said Galba, "Before that super-powered buddy of yours gets up."

     "Wait!" said DeSoni quickly. "If you don't take him with us, you know he'll follow and cause trouble for you."

     "I read up on XG12C."

     "Oh," answered DeSoni softly.

     "Super-vision, -hearing, -speed, and -strength. Nothing about X-ray vision or instant tracking. I leave him here," he gestured toward the inert body, "and by the time he gets up, he'll never figure out where we went."

     I can't just leave him! thought DeSoni furiously. There has to be something… He slipped his paw into his jeans pocket and felt the tiny micro-stunner his older sister, Khargana the Wocky Detective, had given him just a week before. Only a couple minutes, but it was something.

     He slowly pulled his paw out of his pocket, carefully keeping Galba's attention elsewhere. "You really sure your way is best? Because Rocky did say something about family around here."

     "Pah, his ancestors maybe," laughed the large, red Alien Aisha. "You can't-"

     Before Galba could continue, DeSoni aimed his arm straight at him-but, in the split second before he could flick his thumb to hit the trigger, Galba re-aimed towards the paw, flicked the level of his blaster down, and fired.

     DeSoni yelped and the stunner fell to the ground. Trying very hard not to let his eyes water, he took his burning paw in his other one and examined it with clenched teeth.

     "For Jierdana's sake, I'm a commander, Sonix. And you're out of practice. Off we go, before I decide to just carry you and spare myself the arguments."

     When DeSoni still didn't move, the red Alien Aisha walked up behind him and prodded the stunner against the tiny Aisha's back. "Move."

     DeSoni reluctantly did.

To be continued...

So, what did you think of part one? Please let me know! Part two introduces Khargana, CarissaOfire, Kregor Geiger, and a few new and rather unexpected characters--and I can't wait to hear what you think of them!

 
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