Revolution Undercloud: Part Three
With Sloth's teleportation technique, Cipher found himself inside the Space Station, dripping water all over the cold tiles. Sloth had already started to walk, his black cloak billowing behind him in an intimidating fashion.
Shaking himself dry, Cipher followed after, listening closely to Sloth's plan.
"The plan is very simple, but listen closely, Cipher. Right now, my minions are preparing for battle." With a great flourish, he opened a steel door with brass bolts wide open. Cipher was almost blown away by the noise from inside. As Sloth confidently stalked through the door, Cipher cautiously peered through. As he continued to trail behind Sloth, he wasn't prepared to see the "minions" (as Sloth liked to call them) prepare for battle.
The room seemed narrow- there were simply too many things in it. Along the walls, sharp weaponry glinted, causing a slow shiver to run down Cipher's spine. Overhead, roaring pipes ran in parallel, carrying Fyora-knows what along. Grundos- many, many of them, all in mutant form, were in the process of strapping on pieces of shiny armor and sharpening their fangs, fingernails, and even their toenails (oh, and weapons). These mutant forms weren't at all like his Pops, who was gentle and nice. These all had ferocious expressions on their faces and red, gleaming eyes. Bulging muscles showed testament to their physical prowess.
Cipher felt small among them. Small, but sane.
Sloth led him further into the hallway. “I repeat, this plan is very, very simple. It’s nothing more than the most rudimentary of tactical fights. As you should know from your lessons, every war has a few skirmishes. This is to keep the army battle ready and as inspired as possible. The bigger battles are fought only with the most extreme care.” He paused. “I will lead my Grundos into a skirmish with the Lennies, and I intend to deliberately lose it.”
“You’re not at all concerned with the lives you’re going to destroy?” Cipher couldn’t help asking.
Sloth rolled his eyes. “It’s a skirmish, Cipher. Small casualties are expected, but I will signal my troops to retreat after exactly fifteen minutes.” He eyed the Hissi carefully. “What you do in those fifteen minutes will be the most important.”
“Do you want me to fight as well?”
“No. I want them to capture you.”
“Okay, so fine...- say what?!” Cipher recoiled, staring up at Sloth with shock and horror. “You’re insane. I know you are!”
“Hear me out,” Sloth growled back. “I’m taking a bit of a gamble here, but I’m sure your Shoyru friend has an eighty-five percent chance of also participating in this skirmish. Larry the Lenny has a habit of trying out his new “followers” as soon as possible. I expect that he will test the Shoyru’s battle abilities in this new skirmish.”
“What if she gets hurt?” Cipher asked quietly.
“She won’t,” Sloth promised with a grimace. “As much as I dislike cute and cuddly things, I’ll tell my Grundos to leave her alone.”
“But what does this have to do with Skye?”
“Easy. If she’s on the battlefield, there’s a one hundred percent chance that she will be charged with your capture.”
Cipher’s glance was obviously skeptical, forcing Sloth to continue.
“The spell she is under is very particular. I don’t know if you noticed, but a strange pink light surrounds her eyes. That’s the tell-tale sign of being under that particular spell. I don’t know what the Lennies call that spell, but I’ve seen it a lot in my skirmishes, and I call it the Pink Eye. The Pink Eye is a rather silly spell that Larry invented. It allows the caster to momentarily control the victim, but the spell isn’t strong enough to force the victim to hurt or harm another living creature. Yet it only works if the caster bids the subject to do something he/she doesn’t want to do. It has little proper and efficient use in reality, but it is the superb conditions for a person whose only order is to capture and detain.” Sloth leaned closer to Cipher with an ugly sneer on his face. “In other words, that’s the only thing a person under the Pink Eye can even do.”
Cipher indeed thought that the Pink Eye was rather useless, but he didn’t say anything. He and Sloth continued down that hallway.
“I’m also ninety-nine percent that Larry needs you for some undoubtedly nefarious plot. He wouldn’t have gone through the trouble otherwise.”
Cipher nodded; it made sense. But it was rather ironic for Sloth to accuse another of being “nefarious”. Sloth himself didn’t exactly have a clean record for being a model Neopian. In fact, he was downright malicious. He tried to ignore the fact that he was in some way helping Sloth in order to help Skye and the Grundos. It seemed wrong to him that Sloth would get some sort of benefit through him doing good deeds.
“What I want to show you,” Sloth continued, “is why you need to be captured.”
He approached the end of the long hallway, where a single silver door was. Without hesitation, he pushed through the door and entered into the dimly lit room. Flush against the other three walls of the room, shelves of books stood. Other than that, the room only housed a table with what appeared to be a glimmering silver orb placed upon it.
When Sloth shut the door, all other noise from the Grundos outside was immediately muffled. It was too silent in the room, and it made Cipher feel smothered by the total quiet.
Sloth approached the table eagerly, and Cipher slithered behind him. Running a hand under the table, Sloth seemed to flick some sort of switch. The orb, which had seemed foggy at first, immediately cleared up. Cipher realized with a start that it wasn’t the mystical kinds of crystal balls, but instead a digital machine that now shimmered with vortexes and computer code. At once, the orb began to play a scene.
Leaning in, Sloth critically examined the orb. “Still low quality,” he muttered lowly. “I told that fool to fix it.” Straightening up, he motioned for Cipher to come closer.
“This orb functions as a camera of sorts,” he explained. “It is linked to several places throughout Neopia where I place one of these...” Sloth held up a miniscule mechanical, but rather simple looking spyder no bigger than Lurkxy’s eye.
“Fancy,” Cipher muttered sarcastically.
“Ohh yes, it is,” Sloth answered smugly. “Now watch this video that the spyder took while when it infiltrated the Undercloud.”
Cipher drew in a breath. “And how did the spyder get in?” he asked sharply. “I thought that it was impossible for anyone to enter and not set off wards. If they weren’t a Hissi,” he quickly amended.
“Any living creature,” Sloth said. “This spyder, no matter to amount of complexity, is still externally controlled and thus does not trigger the magical wards that sense auras. Hush and watch.”
Feeling slightly reassured that he wasn’t being tricked, Cipher watched.
The spyder must have been hanging from the ceiling, for Cipher got the sense of being floating. It was a very bright room, painted with various colors of blue. Larry the Lenny as well as several other blue-coated Lennies were bustling around the room. Cipher could faintly detect the glimmers in the air, as whatever magical concoction they were making permeated throughout the room, causing faint pink twinkles to appear in the spyder’s field of vision. It was very distracting.
Cipher focused on Larry. He was still wearing those ridiculous starry robes and looked horribly self-important. There was a single bubbling potion in the middle of the room. All the Lennies gave it a wide berth, as the potion seemed to belch every three minutes and send a stream of pink liquid cascading to the floor. It was sort of funny to watch a Lenny squawk and dance around whenever they accidentally got a little too close.
Pushing that thought aside, Cipher tried to read some of the books that the Lennies were leafing through, but it seemed to be printed in odd symbols- runes of some sort that Cipher wasn’t able to understand.
There was suddenly an exclamation of triumph that make Cipher jump nervously. Larry had risen to his feet, crowing and waving this book around. In a quick flurry, the other Lennies had crowded around him excitedly.
Cipher could also make out and recognize Larry’s muted and slightly digitized voice. “Brethren, I have found the answer for the last ingredient! With the completion of this potion, all our goals will be realized...” There was a hush of awe followed by a wave of ecstatic chatter.
“What is this ingredient?” came the yell from an orange Lenny.
In response, Larry held up the book, holding it up high for everyone to see. Cipher squinted, were those more runes? Two starry shapes- one on each page- looked back at him. With a start, he recognized them to be novas. The one on the right seemed to be an ultranova. The one on the left a dark nova.
Cipher felt more and more confused. Just what were the Lennies planning?
I wish that Skye was here to help me.
To be continued...