Viva la Resistance!: Part Seven
Fredrick was sinking fast. His arms were bound, and what little air he had in his lungs had been forced out by the shock of being plunged into the icy night waters of Neopia Central’s docks.
Then there was a firm hand on his shoulder, pulling him up out of the water and back to safety. His lungs burned more as he travelled upwards, but eventually he broke the water and let out a deep gasp for fresh air.
Quickly and with surprising strength, Fredrick was hauled up into what he assumed to be a row boat.
A green Grarrl clamped his claws firmly over Fredrick’s mouth, and signalled him to be quiet.
Silently, Mr. Black pointed upwards.
Above the small rowboat were the slats of the wooden pier and even with his blurry eyesight Fredrick could make out feet standing above them.
Mr. Black waited patiently until Fredrick’s former captors decided he probably wasn’t going to surface. They made their way back down the pier. Mr. Black smiled and released his grip on Fredrick.
“What are you doing here!?” Fredrick hissed. “I thought you’d want me gone like they do!”
Mr. Black said nothing; he simply picked up a set of oars and began to row.
Fredrick glared at the Grarrl for a few moments, before turning to see which direction they were heading in. They seemed to be going back towards the city and a large outlet pipe that emptied straight into the docks.
“The sewers?” Fredrick groaned.
The smell choked Fredrick before they even entered the pipe. Mr. Black proved stronger than he looked, being able to row against the current of water within the sewers with ease. The darkness soon engulfed them, and Mr. Black lit a small oil lamp which he handed to Fredrick to light the way.
After some time, Fredrick could make out another light source ahead of them.
There was a small platform away from the main sewer track, presumably used for access from the city above. There was a deckchair set up there, with a green Krawk sat atop it.
As the sloshing of the row boat heralded their arrival, Mr. Jennings put down the book he was reading and smiled at them.
“Ah, Mr. Boggins, a pleasure as always,” he said lightly. “We really must stop meeting like this.”
“What’s going on? Why did you save me?” Fredrick asked suspiciously.
“Hmm?” Jennings asked, raising one eyebrow. “Why would I want one of my most efficient employees killed? After all, the identity of Number One has been revealed. The other high ranking members of the resistance will undoubtedly flee to their respective criminal empires for fear of my retribution. Without their leadership, the resistance will crumble from within. You have ended it all.”
The rowboat banged against the stone platform at it came to a stop. Fredrick simply stared at the Krawk.
“I’m afraid I must come clean,” Jennings continued. “You have been misled as to your purpose in infiltrating the resistance movement.”
“How so?” Fredrick asked, climbing out of the boat.
“I originally sent another agent, a far more skilled one than you, several weeks ago when I first learned of the resistance’s existence,” Jennings answered. “He reported back to me the identities of all those in charge... aside from the mysterious Number One. My agent informed me that the only way they could discover Number One’s true identity was to reveal him publicly. Doing so would also reveal my agent’s duplicity. An alternative was suggested.”
“An alternative?” Fredrick asked.
“My agent suggested that I hire a second con man, one who would be compelled to betray me, and reveal the identity of Number One while preserving the secret identity of everyone else involved,” Jennings explained. “He recommended you personally, from experiences with you during the Altador Cup.”
Fredrick felt the now familiar sense of dread growing in the pit of his stomach.
“I must say, Mr. Entwhistle took me by surprise,” Jennings continued to himself. “I always suspected he would be sympathetic to the resistance... but to arrange the entire thing? Really, a great accomplishment.”
“Who was your agent?” Fredrick asked hoarsely.
“He should be along any moment,” Jennings informed him, turning his gaze along the tunnel, into the darkness.
A squelching sound soon began to echo down the tunnel, and before long a new face stepped into the flickering ring of light cast by the oil lamps.
It was a yellow Bori in a beret.
“Morris?” Fredrick gasped.
The Bori smiled, and tipped his hat towards Fredrick.
“Nice to see you again, Fredrick,” he sneered.
“How do you know my real name?” Fredrick asked, clutching his oil lamp closer to his chest.
“We’ve met once before, you and I,” Morris replied, taking off his beret and fishing about inside it. “We both had different names, though... and appearances.”
Morris took a small vial out of his beret, one that looked similar to the potions that Fredrick used. Morris uncorked it and took a deep slug.
His features began to twist and change as his bulky Bori frame sagged and purple fur spread across his body. His Bori shell melted, while two long Acara horns drooped down from his forehead.
An elderly purple Acara stood where the yellow Bori had been. One that was very familiar to Fredrick.
“Do you remember me now?” the old Acara wheezed.
How could Fredrick forget? That treacherous face was etched onto his memory forever, not that it was his real one. It was yet another lie, an alias dreamt up by the greatest con man ever known, Joseph Shome.
He had been the reason Fredrick had been captured and imprisoned during the Altador Cup. He had manipulated him then and he had manipulated him now.
Why hadn’t he thought to question Morris while he was questioning Mrs. Jenkins!? The old Cybunny had distracted him, and let the mystery about the Bori’s identity pass by unnoticed.
Fredrick nodded bitterly.
“Is your contract completed?” Jennings asked impatiently.
Morris... or Shome turned to Jennings and smiled.
“I followed him after the meeting broke up,” he answered in a far less wheezing voice. “I’m not an assassin, Mr. Jennings. I slipped him a potion that’ll remove all his memories, and put him on the first ship bound for Mystery Island.”
Jennings nodded slowly, “Yes, I suppose that will do. Thank you, Mr. Shome. Your reward is waiting at the top of the ladder behind you.”
Shome nodded, and turned to climb the ladder behind him that led back up to the city streets.
“Wait!” Fredrick called out. “That’s it? You bring me in here and manipulate me again and then just waltz away?”
“Don’t misunderstand, Fredrick,” Shome answered. “I brought you into this because we needed someone like you to do the job. It wasn’t a personal vendetta. It was business. It always is.”
Shome turned back and continued up to the street.
“You will find your reward at the top of this ladder,” Jennings told Fredrick, pointing to a ladder on the opposite side of the platform, “Along with your briefcase. We took the liberty of bringing it here. Suffice to say, Colin Lopside is a wanted man; it wouldn’t do to have him walking around Neopia Central. Change back quickly.”
Fredrick frowned at Jennings. “Don’t think that you can just buy my silence like that. I’m still angry at what you did to those people.”
“Which people?” Jennings asked. “The immigrants that will have a far superior life in Neopia Central to any they hoped to have in Shenkuu? Or the low level revolutionaries who got to feel important, like they were part of something, in their otherwise drab and boring lives? Don’t tell me you feel sorry for the criminals who headed the thing?”
“You’ve destroyed a lot of people,” Fredrick stated. “Those people had families.”
“I have never done anything to anyone that did not deserve it,” Jennings said plainly. “Regardless, your contract is complete.”
Fredrick made a snorting noise, and climbed the ladder up to the street. He found his battered old briefcase there, loaded with a lot of Neopoints. Fredrick took one of his potions, and transformed back into a shadow Ruki.
The last part of Colin Lopside disappeared forever.
...Or maybe not completely.
Fredrick looked around the street, at the people milling about. Each one of them was a person, with a history and story... and life. He’d conned so many people in his time... was he finally feeling regret? Maybe it was time to get out of this game...
Fredrick closed the manhole cover and walked off to the Old Shambles. He needed some sleep.
Down in the sewers, Mr. Black cleared his throat.
“Will that be all, sir?” he asked.
“Not quite,” Jennings said firmly. “I do not like loose ends, Mr. Black. A man without a memory washes up on a distant shore? That’s the kind of story that comes back to hurt you later in the game. Mr. Entwhistle will regain his memory in time, it’s bound to happen. When he does, he will come back.”
“What would you like me to do, sir?” Black asked.
“Mr. Shome and Mr. Boggins may not be assassins, but you and I do not share that luxury,” Jennings explained.
“Shall I arrange a boat to Mystery Island?” Black asked.
Jennings nodded. “A quick one, we must get there first.”
The tropical drums of Mystery Island greeted Entwhistle as he walked down the gangplank of the docked cargo ship. At least... he thought that was his name. Entwhistle... it seemed somehow familiar.
The rainbow Lutari waved back to the crew that had found him. Hidden in the cargo hold, they said. It was quite a story, though Entwhistle couldn’t remember how he had gotten there.
Entwhistle shielded his eyes from the sun with his hand, and took in his first glimpse of the island. A throng of tourists from other docked ships had already surrounded him, and he walked with them down the pier. The jungle and beaches lay ahead of him invitingly.
Entwhistle felt a sudden pressure in the base of his back.
“Just keep walking slowly,” a voice growled in his ear.
Entwhistle felt strangely compelled to follow the order.
“We’re going to take a little walk in the jungle, Mr. Entwhistle,” the voice continued. “You have an appointment.”
On the beach nearby, a green Krawk lay on a towel reading a book. He looked up and watched the rainbow Lutari be led into the jungle by the green Grarrl. He smiled to himself and took the piece of paper he’d been using as a book mark. There were hastily written names on it.
1. Mr. Jonathan Entwhistle.
2. Mr. Seth Vargo.
3. Mr. Alfonso Might.
4. Lady Floretta Cambridge.
The Krawk smiled to himself as he took a pen and crossed out the first name. He placed the paper back in the book and put it to one side. Out of his pocket, he took a pair of sunglasses which he put on.
The Krawk leaned back and soaked up the sun.
“Viva la Resistance,” he chuckled to himself.