Battle Quills... ready! Circulation: 124,467,804 Issue: 251 | 4th day of Hiding, Y8
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Behind the Forbidden Door: Part Nine

by sarahleeadvent


"Here they come!" Lerox scrambled into the copilot's seat of the four-man assault ship and watched with wide eyes as the Space Faerie sped toward them with Tishka cradled in her arms.

      Flingon had known he was growing protective of his new young friends, but he hadn't realized just how much so. The sight of the whip mark on Tishka's face made him want to strangle something, but with an effort he drew his mind back to the task at hand. He tapped a few buttons and the backseat doors slid open, allowing the two newcomers to enter.

      "Don't close the doors," the Space Faerie said as soon as she set Tishka down. "I can fly to Neopia as fast as you can, and anyway I have work to do here before I join you." With that, she slipped back out of the small vessel.

      Tishka frowned. "How are we going to get out?" she asked. "Do the doors to the docking bay even work?"

      "No, they don't," Flingon answered, "so we're going to have to improvise."

      Without further explanation he touched the controls, and the assault ship rose and hovered a few feet off the floor, then swung around to face the door and let loose a barrage of laser beams. The doors were blasted into fragments, and the small vessel slid out into the blackness of space.

      "What's the Space Faerie doing?" Lerox wanted to know.

      "She's going to push all of the remaining shuttles and stuff out of the docking bay, so no one can use them to escape," Tishka replied. "And she wants us to go straight to Neopia and start shooting down Sloth's bombers and fighter planes."

      Flingon nodded and punched in the necessary commands. "He was planning on sending bombers manned by droids to attack Neopia Central. That's where we're going. I'd rather blast a robot than kill a living Neopet. I just wish Sloth felt the same way."

      As far as he could tell, he was the only one left. Twisting and dodging and looking at his radar whenever he could, Judge Hog wondered how many of his defenders had died while he struggled to avoid being shot down himself, unable to help the others except by making Sloth pay as dearly as possible for his death. Shooting straight up and hearing an explosion beneath him as two of the enemy planes collided in their eagerness to pursue him, Judge Hog saw another Sloth vessel heading directly toward him. It was large and powerful, and obviously very advanced- far more so than his own one-man fighter. Surely he couldn't survive this.


      Shyla screamed and hung on to Xanro as fifteen large vessels set down on the newly leveled area and opened their doors, and as row upon row of laser-armed robots stalked toward the ravaged village, Xanro moved to stand between them and his wife and prepared to sell his life dearly.


      Princess Amira watched in horror as a similar invasion moved toward Sakhmet Palace, and she knew that her army, armed with Lost Desert and Cobrall Daggers, Scarab Stone Slingshots, and other such primitive equipment would never be able to stand against such a horrible assault. It seemed certain that the Lost Desert really would be lost.


      Tayna screamed and Ulanda whinnied with terror as the Space Station rocked under fire from dozens of battleships, and security guards armed with Virtupets Energy Sabres, laser pistols and Mechaberry Bombs struggled to repel the army of mutant Grundos which threatened to sweep through the Station.


      In Faerieland, Queen Fyora struggled to keep up with the reports of death and destruction and to organize a counterattack, while fighter planes zoomed over the Hidden Tower like roaring green heralds of doom.


      The Spider Grundo II hissed and spat like an infuriated Wocky, but Magax paid its noise little heed. Swinging his Darklight axe with all the strength in his body, he severed the evil creature's head, which freed him to turn his attention to the Spider Grundos III, IV, V, VI, and so on- he wasn't certain just how many of the horrid things had suddenly invaded the Haunted Woods. All he knew was that one of them had just fired a sticky lasso of spider silk at his back, and was starting to reel him in. Swinging his axe blindly over his head, the Wocky warrior was relieved to feel the tugging sensation ease. A few seconds later, the offending mutant had joined its fallen brother, and Magax was flinging himself at yet another assailant. 'Hubrid Nox,' he thought, 'if you were responsible for these, I am going to have your head!'


      "I don't care what you say it is. I am trying to have my lunch." King Skarl was not in the mood for bothering about whatever it was that the young messenger was trying to tell him about. Or at least, not until the wine he was drinking flew up into his face as his entire castle shook from the impact of a bomb which had fallen only meters away from the foundation. Spluttering with rage, the fat king bellowed, "Guards! Go and arrest whoever was responsible for that!" Seeing that his lunch was scattered across the floor, he added as an afterthought, "Wait- I believe I shall accompany you." The Draik guards fell into step behind him, and before anybody could point out that he was going to get himself killed Skarl had stalked out of the room in a fury, apparently failing to realize that any petty hooligan could stand up to the king of Meridell.

      It was no mischievous peasant who greeted the king at the door, but a hulking mutant Grundo with a laser in his hand. "AAGH!" The king whirled around to flee back into his castle, but before he could take two steps the Grundo extended its free hand and grabbed him by the back of his robe, dragging the Skeith toward itself using its laser to blast Skarl's escort into unconsciousness. Several guards who had been watching through the windows raced toward the door, but it was only too obvious that there was no way they could get to Skarl in time. It looked like this was going to be the end of the Grumpy Old King.


      A steely-faced droid beeped orders to the robots under its command as it prepared to open fire. Judge Hog was fleeing straight upward with nowhere else to dodge between five of Sloth's fighters who were staying right beside him and cutting off his escape.

      Firing in five... four... three... two... the transmission was suddenly cut off as the newcomer opened fire on the lead droid bomber, sending it plummeting to the ground in an orange ball of fire. Five more ships fell in as many seconds as Lerox targeted them one after another with startling accuracy, leaving Tishka free to maneuver the craft while Flingon tried to tap into the droids' main command programs.

      "I've almost got it," he reported. "They all seem to be tied into the same master program- if I can get control of that, half of our problems will be over."


      "HOW DARE YOU! DO YOU REALIZE WHO IT IS THAT YOU HAVE LAID YOUR LOWLY HANDS ON?!" Skarl screamed in panic and useless fury as the Grundo lifted him off the ground by his ears and turned him around so that he was staring into its glowing eyes. The towering terror raised its laser for the kill, and cruel smile twisting its features...

      "Ungh." Suddenly it toppled sideways, losing its hold on Skarl and sending the king sprawling.

      As Skarl watched in astonishment, something behind the fallen Grundo moved, then walked calmly into his line of vision. "Valrigard? The traitor?" Looking around, Skarl saw that the gate and nearest wall of the dungeon had been obliterated by a bomb.

      For a moment Valrigard looked like he was going to give Skarl the same treatment he had given the Grundo, but instead he lowered his sword and hissed in a low voice, "I'm not a traitor. Haven't you got that into your head yet?"

      With that he poked at the king's fallen assailant, and Skarl didn't know what to say, except "No, perhaps you're not. It seems I- A-AH-AAAGH, there's another one! Get it away from me!" With that, the terrified Skeith turned tail and fled back into his castle, leaving Valrigard to alternate rolling his eyes and dispatching mutant Grundos who got a little too close.


      All over Neopia ordinary Neopets were becoming heroes. Pets who were strong enough to fight rallied around the children, elderly and infirm, defending them with everything they had. Magax continued his battle against a horde of Spider Grundos; the strongest Faeries from Faerieland descended upon Sloth's soldiers all over the globe like a tempest from above; the army of Meridell, including Jeran and the newly pardoned Valrigard, performed amazing feats of swordsmanship against an army of mutants; and Flingon, Tishka and Lerox joined forces with Judge Hog as they struggled to prevail in a chaotic aerial shoot-out against dozens of Sloth droids. But the people of Neopia were still hopelessly outnumbered, their greatest peril being the droids, against which no weapon in the more primitive realms was effective.


      Xanro bared his teeth at the nearest robot and tried to determine the best way to tackle an opponent who was impervious to both claws and fangs. Shyla pressed up beside him, her eyes wide and her body shaking. With mechanical coordination, the droids simultaneously raised their weapons, aiming at any living thing in sight. Staying between his wife and the robots, Xanro steeled himself for the end. A hum filled the air as the droids powered their weapons... Xanro's fur stood up on end...

      And then suddenly the droids began pairing up. Each one faced its partner, and they shook hands, bowed formally, and blasted each other into oblivion.

To be continued...

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Other Episodes

» Behind the Forbidden Door: Part One
» Behind the Forbidden Door: Part Two
» Behind the Forbidden Door: Part Three
» Behind the Forbidden Door: Part Four
» Behind the Forbidden Door: Part Five
» Behind the Forbidden Door: Part Six
» Behind the Forbidden Door: Part Seven
» Behind the Forbidden Door: Part Eight
» Behind the Forbidden Door: Part Ten

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