Defender Chronicles: The Beginning - Part Two
"I thought you'd never ask," grinned Garoo maliciously.
"Of course, a lot of the time we won't expect
you to do anything. However, as an opening assignment, we'd like you to discover
the following Neopians' allegiances and report back."
He tossed her a data pad. On it was a list of
several of the nastier denizens of Neopia. Along with...
"The Soup Faerie?" she queried incredulously.
Garoo shrugged. "Always worth a shot. After all,
wouldn't you get sick of dealing with the whiney, snivelling Neopians who can't
be bothered to get a job? Without any kind of holiday or benefit scheme? I know
The Blumaroo stood, his huge frame filling the
"Anyway, I want that report. You wouldn't want
to keep the boss waiting now, would you? And don't try anything... stupid."
He waved the bottle of potion threateningly and
stalked out of the house, slamming the door behind him. This time several bits
fell off the roof. Vera sighed and glanced at her list.
First up was the Pant Devil. Great. Fortunately
Edna was on the list... she was definitely easier to find, and usually had some
idea where the blue menace was.
And what better time to visit her than the middle
of the night? Vera quickly threw on a coat against the chill of the autumn air,
and made her way out into the night.
Edna's tower was surprisingly deserted as Vera
approached. She glanced at her watch and realised why. It was still witching
hour - Edna would be in the Battledome. However, with only five minutes to go,
Vera decided to sit and wait. She'd only been there a few moments when the witch
appeared, grumbling to herself and waving her broomstick threateningly. She
stopped when she caught sight of Vera, and eyed her suspiciously.
"Eh, who's that? You're a bit keen, aren't you?"
she grunted icily as she produced the keys to her tower.
"It's me, Vera," said Vera, hesitantly. Edna
turned to face her.
"Little Vera?" she queried, pulling a face. "What
on earth made you paint yourself such a hideous colour? No matter, come up,
Vera surveyed the general chaos as she entered
the room. Little changes in the Haunted Woods, and Edna's cleaning habits were
no exception. No wonder she kept using Neopians to find her ingredients - the
whole place was so disorganised, it was a wonder she could find her cauldron.
"So, dearie," cackled Edna cheerily to her, as
she passed her a mug of Menacing Brew, "what can I do for you?"
Vera blew on her drink to cool it, and took a
tentative sip. The liquid burnt its way down her throat and warmed her from
head to the tip of her tail. How was she going to put this?
"I-I was wondering if you could help me with
a couple of things..." she began uncertainly.
The witch raised her eyebrows enquiringly, but
said nothing. Vera swallowed and continued:
"Uh, first off I don't suppose you know where
the Pant Devil is... annoying people at the moment?"
Edna pursed her lips in thought.
"Well, he's not been seen around here since the
time he tried to steal one of Eliv Thade's artifacts..."
She paused to cackle to herself at the memory.
"But I have heard he's been hanging around the Grooming Parlour in Neopia Central.
Why don't you try there?"
Vera beamed. "Thank you, I will."
She turned to race out of the door when Edna
called her back.
"Dearie? What was the other thing?"
Vera frowned. "Other thing?"
Edna cackled again (it's a bad habit of hers).
"You said there were two things."
Vera suddenly remembered. "Oh, um, how would
you feel about Sloth returning and taking control of Neopia?"
Edna fixed a beady eye on her reflectively. "Sloth
minion now, are we?"
She began to load up her cauldron with various
foul smelling ingredients as she talked, stirring vigorously.
"I suppose as an apparently wicked witch, I should
be on his side... but I never cared much for him. I can't even work out what
kind of Neopet he is - some kind of demented Chia perhaps?"
The witch found a stray ingredient on the floor
and dropped in into the cauldron absent-mindedly, before continuing.
"His methods leave a lot to be desired - they
lack creativity. I think I'll wait for a more interesting insane genius to come
along, if it's all the same to you. Toodle-oo!"
Vera wandered slightly dazed out of the tower.
Edna's response was... unorthodox to say the least. She imagined the look on
Garoo's face when she reported that Edna thought Sloth was a sort of demented
Chia whose methods lacked creativity. She smirked slightly at the thought and
started to make her way to Neopia Central.
By the time she arrived in Neopia Central, the
sky was already beginning to lighten, and some of the earlier members of the
Neopian community were already up and about. She saw the glow of the Soup Kitchen
and could already catch the faint whiff of soup on the breeze. She sighed and
turned to the Grooming Parlour... first things first.
The Pant Devil proved pretty easy to find. Despite
his generally elusive and mysterious aura, Vera didn't even have to wave a rare
item at him. She spied him routing through the garbage at the back of the Parlour.
She stepped towards him and felt surprisingly unafraid - after all, she'd faced
Garoo, and there was only one person she could think of who was scarier than
him. Well, when she wasn't thinking too hard.
"Oi!" she shouted, stepping completely out of
the shadows. "What's the matter? Lost your lipstick?"
The Pant Devil started and moved towards her,
with his trademark grin.
"Well, well," he sneered, "aren't we the brave
He looked her up and down and sniffed. Vera smiled
maliciously. He'd realised she had nothing worth stealing.
"What's it to be then?" he continued. "Another
Defender wannabe? Come to try and beat me in the Battledome, is it?"
Vera looked at him calmly, before stating her
reason for approaching him.
"Actually, I wanted to ask you about your...
The Pant Devil frowned (although he still maintained
his grin). "Oh?"
Vera smiled gently and took another step closer.
"That's the question. Were Sloth to create a master plan and invade Neopia...
would you be with him? Or against?"
The Pant Devil frowned again, this time losing
his grin entirely. "That would depend on what kind of... deals he would be willing
to offer. I'm sure you know what I mean. Some kind of guarantee that I could
steal from Neopians as and when I choose, that sort of thing. Perhaps making
Safety Deposit Boxes illegal?"
He looked so hopeful that Vera had to stifle
a laugh. She managed to continue with a serious face.
"So, you'd agree to support Sloth if you were
The Pant Devil looked at her carefully, and then
gave the briefest of nods before disappearing.
Vera sighed and looked at her list again. At
least Garoo might be pleased with the response this time - she was fairly sure
issuing some kind of guarantee to the Pant Devil would be the least of Sloth's
Back in the Defenders of Neopia headquarters,
Agent Trilby was getting increasingly concerned. Not only had Space Station
activity in the Haunted Woods reached such a high that he wondered whether someone
had actually landed there, but he had also just lost his prime suspect.
The Scorchio frowned and rubbed his temples.
Vera seemed to have vanished from her house in the middle of the night, and
she definitely wasn't in the Woods anymore. Trilby sighed and started to look
for any other anomalous readings.
In the Space Station itself activity was also
focused on the small Xweetok. However, unlike Trilby, the staff knew exactly
where she was. Sloth grinned to himself and glanced at the Blumaroo standing
stiffly to attention behind him. He smirked again and turned to face him.
"So, Garoo, how's she getting on?" he enquired.
Commander Garoo relaxed slightly as he answered.
"She seems to be doing better than expected, sir. She's already asked both Edna
and the Pant Devil for their allegiances. We suspect she'll move on to the Soup
Sloth looked at him sharply. "The Soup Faerie?"
Garoo answered swiftly. "Yes, sir. I always put
a trick one there to... test them."
Sloth raised an eyebrow at his commander, and
was met by his steely gaze. All of a sudden he began to laugh. It echoed through
the conduits of the station. And all those who heard it cowered in fear.
Vera, however, remained oblivious to all this.
She was standing a short distance from the Soup Kitchen, and to be honest she
was having second thoughts. She knew there was little point in even asking the
Soup Faerie. After all, this was a Faerie renowned for her good deeds and kind
heart. The whole idea of her supporting an invasion by Sloth was about as unlikely
as Jhudora and Illusen suddenly becoming friends.
As Jhudora sprang to mind, Vera glanced at her
list again. She was in fact the next on it, while the Soup Faerie was the last
one. Although her stomach was growling, the Xweetok decided it would be far
more beneficial to visit Faerieland than the Soup Kitchen. At least she would
blend in there. With one last wistful look at the line of pets at the Kitchen,
the Xweetok opened her wings and began to make her way to yet another of Neopia's
To be continued...