Sailing the Stars: Part Seven
The landing bay was enormously large. Fighter ships of all shapes and sizes were parked all around, ready to take off and fly out.
Buckbeak, the lieutenants, Pteri and his crew all moved swiftly and silently across the room, trying to ignore the shaking and the crashes coming from outside. Amazingly, the entire bay seemed to be completely deserted.
“Ok,” called Pteri, gathering his troops together, “we will split into four groups. Each one will completely search a quarter of the ship, leaving no stone unturned! Remember your objective; find Sloth! If you run into trouble, we have no interest in prisoners. But DO NOT KILL! Move out! Annabelle, Jack, you two come with me and Captain Bugsy’s crew.”
The group split up, and a Faerie Ixi and a Striped Lupe came over to join Pteri and the Lieutenants. They all proceeded towards the big door in the back, leading out of the landing bay.
No sooner had they reached the door, however, when it burst open and three huge Mutant Grundos in uniform burst out of it, firing blasters rapidly. Shadow stepped forward and shot a huge jet of fire at them, which caught their uniforms and set them alight instantly. Wasting no time, Buckbeak moved in front of Shadow, took a deep breath and opened his beak wide. A great gush of water came shooting out onto the flames, creating a thick wall of steam!
“Go!” someone shouted, and the whole party raced forward through the steam, past the stunned Grundo guards, into a corridor junction leading three other ways. The four groups split up, one going left and two going right, while Pteri and Bugsy’s crew went straight on.
“Great move back there, Commander!” shouted ZoshiDevil as they ran. Buckbeak smiled at him in return. They kept on running, racing down corridors and shooting around bends; while all around them, the star-ship shook and crashed with impacts from the battle outside.
Somewhere, an alarm siren began to wail, but the group barely heard it above the pounding of their footsteps. They came across a very tall flight of stairs and hurtled right to the top. The bridge had to be somewhere around here!
After a while, they came to another junction. One of the pathways was blocked by a huge metal door, with a computer terminal lodged in the wall next to it. Jack and Annabelle stepped forward and began to try to hack into it. Seconds later, another group of Grundo soldiers appeared along the other corridor. They spotted the capture group and started firing wildly; Bugsy’s crew trying to deflect the shots with their swords.
Just as the last soldier went down, the computer gave a beep and the locked door sprung open. “We’re clear!” Annabelle shouted.
“Now I see why you brought them along,” said Buckbeak to Pteri as they all rushed through the door, into a room. They were half-expecting to find Sloth, but apart from a window depicting the battle outside, a few chairs and a table, the room was empty.
“There’s no way!” called Shadow to the others, “We’ll have to turn-”
Right at that moment, however, there was a huge crash and the whole room tilted sharply forward, sending all seven of them tumbling down and smacking against the wall. Outside, there was a great flash of light, followed by another crash, and all of a sudden, the floor gave way under them. Next thing they knew, they were all lying in the corridor below, a great smoking hole in the ceiling above them.
“Come on,” cried Nikolikan as she helped Shadow up, who then turned to help ZoshiDevil up and so on, “we have to keep moving!”
“Oww...” Annabelle moaned, rubbing her leg. “I think I pulled a muscle...”
“Sir, you and Captain Bugsy’s crew go on without us,” said Jack to Pteri as he rushed over to examine Annabelle. “We’ll get things cleared up here!”
They had no choice but to oblige. After getting shakily to their feet, the group continued down the new corridor. Just a few minutes later, they came to yet another door; this one filling the whole corridor, with no others branching off it. The whole team instantly knew they had arrived at their destination.
“This is it,” said Pteri. “Remember, we take Sloth alive if we can.”
The others nodded at him. Gripping their swords tightly, they all charged towards the door, which rose upwards to let them through.
The main control room, the ‘bridge’, was astonishing. There were computers and control panels everywhere, complete with flashing lights. Ordinary Grundo workers were busy scurrying around the room, panicked looks on their faces. Over at the far end of the room, by an enormous window looking out onto the battlefield, was Dr. Frank Sloth himself, marching around and shaking his fists angrily.
“Come on, come on,” Sloth was yelling, “get yourselves moving! We’re being flattened out there! WHY AREN’T THOSE REAR-CANNONS FIRING?! Someone get the Incred-Evil Insurance guy on the phone!”
The whole team nodded to one another.
“Stick’em up!” cried Nikolikan as they all charged into the room. Sloth looked up in anger and shock. A few Grundo workers did as Nikolikan said and thrust both paws into the air, but nobody took much notice of them as the capture group surrounded Sloth.
“This is revenge,” snarled Buckbeak as they came closer, “time to pay, Sloth!”
Despite the situation, a grin spread over Sloth’s face. Seconds later, he was laughing, his deep thunder echoing around the room.
“Do you really think so?” boomed Sloth after he’d finished, still grinning, “I never thought Captain Bugsy would be such a keen supporter of revenge! Wait a minute. She’s not even with you. A body without a head, come to stop old Frank Sloth regardless. How amusing!”
He laughed a little more while the group exchanged annoyed faces.
“Seriously, though,” continued Sloth, “did you really think it would be that easy?! I’m an evil genius and you’re all just pawns in my game! You think you have me surrounded, but there’s always a way out!”
And before anyone could do anything, Sloth bent down, grabbed a large spanner off the floor and threw it hard at the window, causing it to shatter into pieces. All at once, the vacuum of space took hold.
“Take cover!” yelled Pteri, and everyone ducked as air started shooting out through the smashed window, turning the whole room into a whirling frenzy. Sloth gave a great burst of laughter as he rode the air current through the window, out of the ship and out of sight. Seconds later, a thick metal shutter came crashing down over the window, sealing the air inside the room. Everybody got slowly to their feet.
“Oh great,” snarled Shadow as he rubbed his aching arm, “now what?!”
“...The airlock,” replied a orange Grundo worker hesitantly, her small voice breaking through the awkward silence. “You might still have a chance to catch him if you go out through it... It’s over here...”
Buckbeak, Pteri and the Lieutenants followed the Grundo worker as she led them to the far side of the room to a large door. She turned a large wheel-shaped lock next to the door and it began to open, swinging inwards. “Good luck...” said the Grundo in a shy voice as they all climbed through.
No sooner were the capture group all inside than the door slammed shut behind them, followed by a hiss as it became airtight. Seconds later, an alarm sounded and the entire wall in front of them came away, revealing endless space before them.
And there was the battle again, as fast and furious-looking as ever. It was turning rather ugly; neither side looked as if it could hold for much longer. This had to end now!
“Where’d he go?” growled Shadow as they rushed to the edge and looked out at the scene.
“Look!” said ZoshiDevil suddenly, pointing, “look there!”
They all looked. A small escape shuttle was speeding away from the battlefield. It was shaped like a meteor with a crescent-moon pushed through its middle. From the team’s position, they could see Sloth himself in the cockpit at the controls, laughing his ugly head off.
“Oh great!” squawked Pteri as they watched him zoom away into the distance. “How are we going to get him now?! None of us can fly that fast!”
“Speak for yourself,” muttered ZoshiDevil in reply.
“Look!” cried Nikolikan this time, her tone much happier and excited than ZoshiDevil’s had been. Another ship was coming straight towards them; fast at first, then slowing down as it came nearer. It didn’t look like one of the Virtupets fighter ships, but neither did it look like one of Sloth’s!
As the ship hovered up to the entranceway where they all stood, it stopped just in front of it. The glass hatch on the front opened and a very familiar face popped out.
“Anyone need a lift?” asked Captain Bugsy casually as she smiled at them all. “Quick, get in!”
“There he is!” said Pteri loudly, pointing as he spotted Sloth’s escape shuttle zooming away from the fray.
“I see him!” replied Bugsy, gripping the crossbar tightly.
Buckbeak shifted to the side slightly to give her some more elbow room, making Shadow groan in complaint. With all six members of the team inside the cockpit together, things were more than just a little cramped. On the other hand, flying the borrowed ship was much easier now, and visibility was great. It was a bit like flying the Sweet Fyora... only with a little less breathing space.
“Increase speed to maximum,” Bugsy ordered, “and prepare energy cannons to fire!” She pushed the crossbar forward as hard as it would go. The ship shot forward too, right on Sloth’s tail. Adrenaline pulsed through her. Sloth wasn’t going to get away, not this time!
To be continued...