The centrifuge whirred softly in the background as the Hissi stood behind another counter, distilling a potion of morbid purple. This experiment was the toughest one yet, but because the responsibility was handed to him by his superior, Sierra, he had no intentions of letting her down. Tiny beads of sweat formed on his forehead as he furrowed his brows, trying to make sense of the equations he had written a few hours ago on a piece of paper.
He peered at the distilled liquid, then back at the paper once more. No, something was wrong; it did not equate. That wasn't the result he was expecting. Without waiting for the process to finish, he stopped the reaction and disposed of the chemicals into a biohazard bin.
“Another night in the lab, I guess,” the Hissi thought to himself as he began to work on the equations once more. It called for a lot more concentration and precise calculations if he wished to get this right. He'd been working overtime for weeks together with a team of scientists, trying to figure out the solution to the grave problem that their guild had unfortunately come to face with. So far, the experiments did yield a few useful results, but nothing extraordinarily significant.
Just then, someone tapped him lightly on the shoulder. The Hissi placed his pen down and turned around to see Jennice, a fellow Lenny scientist.
“I'll be leaving first, Marlin,” she said as she took off her lab coat. Jennice then gestured toward the centrifuge at the back of the laboratory when she was done changing. “Could you please see to that? It should work with two drops of Bloodberry Elixir, from what my calculations reveal.”
“Alright,” he replied shortly.
When the Lenny closed the door behind her, Marlin was the only scientist left in the stuffy room. He could have retired for the night like the others did, but as chief scientist, he felt that he needed to do more than the rest. After all, what good was a leader if he delegated his jobs and got little done by himself? At that rate, he wouldn't deserve any credit for their team's achievements and breakthroughs.
But it wasn’t only that. This mess wouldn’t have occurred if he never got involved in it.
Marlin paced over to the centrifuge to remove the samples. The once puce colored solution had been separated into three distinct forms. He then proceeded to extract the tiny amount of supernatant liquid from the tube carefully using a pipette before transferring it to a beaker containing a clear potion.
No reaction occurred, like the Hissi predicted. Next, he added a couple of drops of a blood red liquid, which caused the mixture to turn ruby, followed by an accurately measured amount of some glistening crystal water.
The potion remained blood red, which confused Marlin. He pondered deeply the formulae and referred back to his notes.
“Concentrated essence of Puce Elixir, Bloodberry Elixir, Tears of the Water Faerie ...” he muttered to himself as he scanned the pages of his dossier. Those were the last ingredients that were required, but the final product was incorrect.
With a sigh, the Hissi pushed the beaker aside and perused the papers once more. He didn’t know what time it was, but fatigue and exhaustion were beginning to overwhelm him ... No, he couldn't give in to such petty whims. The guild members' lives were far more important than his own personal needs.
However, it was easier to think than to actually do it because Marlin's eyelids drooped every so often as he turned page after page, scrutinizing every word.
“Why can't you just open a little longer, eyes?” he chastised himself and that was when he realised -
“Eye of Mortog, that's it!”
Flipping over to page thirty-six of his dossier, he skimmed through the text, his wing lightly dragging lines along the paper as he read the descriptions and formulae.
“Remove the eyes ...” Marlin picked up the pen and scribbled complicated equations down, the gears in his brain working with the effort to combat sleep. After a few minutes, he went over to one of the shelves and grabbed a potion, uncorking it as he made his way back to the counter.
The Hissi poured out three spoonfuls of the potion and added it into the ruby mixture. In an instant, it sizzled and frothed before turning into a light, soothing mint color. He allowed it to settle for a few seconds before obtaining a small sample and dripping it onto a slide containing a single mauve drop at its center.
There was a hissing sound when the solution came into contact with the drop on the slide and it emitted a faint wisp of purple smoke. Marlin waited in anticipation as the chemicals reacted, hoping against hope that he'd gone a step further into his research.
To the Hissi's greatest surprise, the drop evaporated completely, leaving nothing behind. He picked up the slide and glanced this way and that, unable to believe the miracle that had just happened.
With no time to waste and his guild members' lives at stake, Marlin quickly bottled up the remaining solution and bolted out the door. He had forgotten in his haste to change out of his coat and clear the waste materials. Only one thing was foremost in his mind and that was to find Sierra.
Fortunately for the Hissi, Sierra was always up late into the early hours as she took care of unfinished business at the guild's headquarters. Marlin's scope of work was little compared to the number of things that the Kyrii had to attend to, including making sure that all members of the guild were healthy and safe. He rounded a corner, hoping that she would be in as he made his way to the door of her office.
“Come in,” a muffled female voice ordered after he rapped on the door.
The Hissi stepped into the room hurriedly. Sierra was buried in her work as usual but she glanced up at him when he entered.
“The antidote is a success!” Marlin announced fervently, showing the flask to his superior. “We can use this to cure those who have been poisoned!”
Sierra's somber face relaxed once she heard the news. She got up from the armchair.
“Follow me to the infirmary.”
The air was silent around the both of them as they headed to the infirmary, the Hissi gliding behind the Kyrii. No words needed to be exchanged, for Marlin knew that deep inside, Sierra was as extremely worried yet hopeful for their recovery as he was.
At last, they reached the place where around two dozen Neopians were lying in hospital beds, their eyes closed and breaths hushed. Sierra motioned for Marlin to provide the antidote, to which he obliged. He poured out specified amounts into twenty-four small mugs.
Together with the Kyrii and the two nurses on duty, they attended to all the ill Neopets with patience, slowly pouring the medicine into their mouths.
“You should go home now,” the Kyrii told Marlin once they were finished.
The Hissi shook his head. “I'll stay here for the night,” he replied. “I wish to be the first to find out about their conditions when morning arrives.”
Sierra nodded. “If anything happens, do let me know. I'll be in my office.”
Marlin watched his superior leave the infirmary, then pulled a chair and coiled near the bedside of a fellow Jubjub. All he could do now was hope that the antidote would work. It was the best and only way to apologize for his past actions and show his gratitude towards his new guild which accepted him with open arms in spite of him being their former enemy. For the members to trust him without any doubt despite poisoning them made the Hissi feel blessed that there were Neopets who were so kind and forgiving. Before long, his head was rested on top of his wings, his eyelids shut.
The Hissi had fallen asleep.