Viva la Resistance!: Part Five
Alfonso Might cleared his throat again to gain the attention of the few revolutionaries that were still speaking. The starry Yurble smiled faintly once everyone was silent.
“Number One has some very important news for us all,” he announced.
The Yurble shuffled back to sit with the others at the front.
It occurred to Fredrick that he didn’t really see the point of Might’s announcements. Why didn’t the mysterious Number One just start speaking? Fredrick smiled to himself as he reached a conclusion. Might’s announcement was the signal for Number One, the hired grunt he must surely be, to start reading the script that had been given to him.
“Thank you, Number Three,” the voice behind the curtain spoke up, echoing around the silent cellar.
Fredrick was struck by the familiarity of the voice, but he still couldn’t place where he’d heard it before. He thought for a moment that perhaps it was something to do with Mr. Jennings, but he quickly dismissed the thought. Why would Jennings start an organisation that planned to kill him?
“I have recently come into possession of some very interesting information,” Number One continued. “Jennings has chartered a cargo ship that left the port at Altador a few days ago. The ship is bound for Neopia Central, and should arrive later this very night.”
Fredrick glanced around the room as best he could without making it obvious. Everyone’s eyes were fixed on the curtain, including those of the Yurble, Skeith and Ixi at the front. Surely they already knew this information?
“The official documentation that the Neopia Central Port Authority has been given indicates that the ship is carrying slate from the Altador quarries,” the voice carried on. “I can tell you now that the documents are false. The ship is in fact filled to the brim with native Shenkuu citizens. They are illegal immigrants that Jennings intends to smuggle into the city without going through the proper Defenders of Neopia checks.”
Gasps were issued from various members of the resistance.
“Undoubtedly, these people are weapon smiths and cheap labourers who Jennings has conned into believing that they will have a better life in Neopia Central. Instead, he will exploit them, treating them no better than his own personal servants,” Number One added.
“We have to stop him!” Morris the Bori shouted from beside Fredrick, slamming his fist into his palm.
Several cheers echoing his thoughts ran through the other resistance members.
“I agree,” Number One added. “I have already formulated a plan to liberate the ship, and take it from the control of Mr. Jennings.”
“But how?” another resistance member on the opposite side of the room asked. “Jennings controls the Defenders of Neopia now. If we call them for help, they’ll just hand these people back to him!”
At the front, Fredrick saw Lady Cambridge, the Ixi, nodding in agreement.
“We will also call the Neopian Times,” Number One answered. “Jennings may control the Defenders, but he does not control the media. If the truth is revealed to the public, the Defenders cannot comply with any demands Jennings makes.”
Fredrick resisted snorting. It was true, Mr. Jennings did not control the media, but apparently Alfonso Might did. Fredrick was sure this story would be spun in just the right way.
“This plan will work, I am confident of that, but I will need your help to pull it off,” Number One continued. “Will you stand with me?”
Cheers and shouts rose up in the ranks. The resistance was ready for action. Fredrick let himself join them. He knew he should have reported back to Jennings on the situation, but there was no time. He’d have to go along with it, and report back later.
Fredrick was hardly surprised when the details of the plan were explained to the group. When Number One had said that he required their help, he’d actually meant that he wanted them to do the entire thing while he waited calmly behind his curtain.
Several small rowboats had been positioned in the port, floating just off the coast of the Docklands. There was still smog this far out, and Fredrick couldn’t see more than a few feet beyond the boat. Small glowing buoys shone red in the darkness.
He had somehow managed to get put in a boat with Morris the Bori, and Mrs. Jenkins, the elderly Cybunny.
Fredrick regarded her with strange curiosity. All his life, he’d been able to figure out people, it was his one skill, and the one he truly needed to be a success in his chosen profession. Yet, she was something of a mystery. Morris seemed the typical sort of revolutionary that Fredrick had expected. A working man who was angry against the world in general for the hand life had dealt him. He didn’t have any grudge against Jennings in particular; he was just the current symbol of power that Morris was fighting against.
But Mrs. Jenkins was different. She seemed the kindly old sort of lady, who didn’t hold grudges and really didn’t want to fight.
Fredrick had learned a costly lesson in Altador. He had been far too trusting of Joseph Shome. He felt the need to question the people he met more than usual, to make sure of their identities.
“Mrs. Jenkins, can I ask you a question?” Fredrick asked at last, breaking the silence that had filled the boat while they waited.
“Of course, dear,” she answered, putting aside the knitting that had been filling her time.
“Why are you here?” Fredrick asked. “Why are you fighting against Mr. Jennings?”
The old Cybunny looked sadly to her feet for a moment.
“Mr. Jennings got rid of my grandson,” she told him. “He wasn’t a nice boy, I know that. They called him Jimmy ‘Halflook’ Jenkins. He was a violent boy... always getting into trouble. Mr. Jennings owed him some money, and instead of paying up, he had Jimmy...”
“Halflook Jenkins?” Morris questioned. “He was a nasty piece of work.”
Mrs. Jenkins nodded.
“He was still my grandson,” she said defiantly. “Both of his parents were gone, and he always worked hard to put food on my table. He did everything for me. I don’t care how horrible he was to other people; no one deserves to wake up one day and find out they are dead. Aside from zombies, of course.”
“So now you’re fighting for revenge?” Fredrick asked.
“I don’t know...” the old lady replied. “This resistance came along not long after Mr. Jennings returned to the city. I was still angry, and it seemed like a good way to honour Jimmy’s memory. I don’t want to kill Mr. Jennings, I’m not that sort of person... and if the resistance wasn’t here... I’d probably just move on with my life. But I feel like there has to be some kind of retribution. He can’t just treat people like this forever.”
Fredrick nodded. He’d never exactly liked Jennings, but an employer was an employer. He was in no position to judge crooks, being one himself. But Jennings had removed people on his path to the top. He wasn’t a good man. The old lady had a point; he couldn’t just use people forever.
A crackling noise from Mrs. Jenkins interrupted their thoughts. The small radio device they had been given to communicate with the other boats was making a noise. She shook it.
“Wizard made,” she cursed. “Can’t do anything properly.”
“Roger Wilco, over?” A voice came from within the machine.
Mrs. Jenkins pushed a small button on top of the device and began to speak, “No, it’s Mrs. Jenkins.”
“Ah. Roger, Jenkins, over,” the voice came back.
“No, Mrs. Jenkins, I’m not Roger. There’s no one called Roger here!” she snapped back at the machine.
“I think I’d better handle the communications,” Morris said delicately, taking the radio from the Cybunny. “Roger, this is Flapping Hasee, in position, over.”
“Roger, Flapping Hasee, the Eggs are in the Basket, over,” the voice responded.
“Roger, Jumping Moach, proceeding to the Nest, over,” Morris spoke into the radio.
Fredrick stared incredulously at Morris.
“What? It’s code,” Morris said when he noticed Fredrick’s expression.
“Not a very good one,” Fredrick observed.
“How do you mean? It’s simple, the Eggs are the boats, and the Basket is the port,” Morris explained. “The Nest is the cargo ship, which is where we’re going now.”
“That’s not what I mean,” Fredrick chuckled. “Why use Eggs and Baskets? Who have you ever known to transmit serious radio signals about dairy produce? It’s obviously a code! Anyone listening in can tell that!”
“Listen, I don’t make the rules,” Morris snapped. “Just grab an oar and row.”
Fredrick sighed and grabbed the oar on the opposite side of the boat to Morris. Together, then began to move the ship further out to sea.
It wasn’t long before the looming mass of the cargo ship came into view, like a solid wall through the smog of the port. There were already some row boats tethered to the side of the boat, with ropes leading up to the deck.
“Looks like we didn’t get here first,” Morris said sadly, as if he’d been relishing the chance to have a fight up on the deck.
The boat knocked noisily against the side of the cargo ship, and Morris scrambled across to one of the ropes.
“You two go on ahead without me,” Mrs. Jenkins called after them. “I can’t be climbing ropes at my age.”
Fredrick nodded and followed Morris up the rope. There were already revolutionaries on the deck when they reached it, stalking about.
“How’re things going?” Morris whispered to the first one he saw.
“We’ve taken the wheelhouse,” the Nimmo replied. “We’re just waiting for the doors to the hold to be opened, but we need the Defenders and the Neopian Times before that.”
As if on cue, a wind began to pick up, clearing the smog away from the deck. The resistance members looked upwards to see a small space shuttle hovering in the air above the ship, creating a downdraft. The emblem of the Defenders of Neopia was printed on the side of the craft.
“No one move!” a voice echoed down from the craft.
A small hatch opened in its side, and several ropes were lowered down to the deck, which allowed Judge Hog and a few accompanying Defenders to abseil down.
Fredrick noted that a very timid looking Xweetok with a notepad followed. She was clearly the Neopian Times representative.
To have the time to go and pick up a reporter... Judge Hog surely needed to have been in on the plan in order to get here in time. Then again, it would hardly be surprising if he hated Mr. Jennings, so why wouldn’t he support the revolution?
“It’s time to find out what’s really on this ship!” Judge Hog proclaimed importantly.
He marched off across the deck with the reporter scuttling in his wake jotting down notes madly. Fredrick, Morris and a few other resistance members ducked in behind him.
Judge Hog effortlessly spun the wheel handle that locked the door to the holds, and tore open the door. A staircase inside led down below deck.
The hold stretched out in front of them at the bottom of the stairs. It was a vast warehouse, filled to the brim with multi-coloured metal containers as big as carriages.
Judge Hog made his way over to the nearest container, and once he was sure the Neopian Times reporter was watching, he pulled it open.
The metal creaking noise filled the silence in the hold. Fredrick craned his neck to see past the bulky frame of the Judge. In the gloom inside the container, tired and worried looking eyes stared back.
A frail old Ixi with a walking stick was the first to hobble forwards. His simple Shenkuu robes were crumpled and old. He looked up at the Judge with pleading eyes.
“Is this Neopia Central?” he croaked.
The Judge nodded, and took the Ixi by the arm.
“Yes,” he replied kindly. “You are free now.”
To be continued...