Something Has Happened... In Space!
Special thanks to folks at the NTWF for this idea.
Mira paced around her space station room. She glanced at the clock and then shook her head.
“Where is she? She said she’d be here five minutes ago,” Mira thought to herself.
Moments later, there was a knock at the door.
“Come in!” Mira said.
“It’s me, Alana,” said a soft voice.
A tall fire faerie appeared at the door. Right behind her was a Mynci named Rails. Alana was known on the space station as the Code Faerie. She was responsible for all of the support systems on the space station and Kreludor. Many systems on Virtupets required knowledge of a coding language known as Chia-Code. The Code Faerie employed a team of two Code Myncis. For the most part, she served as a guide as she wrote quite a bit of the foundational Chia-Code. Queen Fyora was tremendously impressed with her abilities. She ended up assigning her to the Space Station to ensure that the systems were not vulnerable to another one of Dr. Sloth’s schemes. She was to work closely with Mira, the Space Faerie.
“Hello, do you mind telling me what happened?” Mira asked.
Alana turned to Rails and motioned for him to speak.
“I was updating some of the Chia-Code when Pearl distracted me…”
Alana and Mira both shook their heads. “Let’s not play the blame game, Rails,” Mira warned. “It won’t lead to anything good.”
Alana had her arms folded. “We need to roll back all of our changes,” she stated.
She grabbed a small tablet-like device and pressed a few items that appeared on the display. She then appeared flustered.
“Um, you did make a backup, right?”
Rails stayed silent, and an expression of fear flashed across his face.
“Uhh, about that. The Petpets, Stack and Heap, got into the backup system room and managed to turn the backups off.”
“Argh! Are you serious? That door should have been locked. We know that my Kiiyak and Dofrey are constantly roaming around.” Alana thought for a moment. “I have a second backup! It is an old backup I stored in the Faerie Castle with Queen Fyora. However, I’m not certain if Queen Fyora knows how to beam the copy up here. We’ll need to send her instructions.”
“Alright, back to what really happened,” Mira said with a hint of impatience in her voice.
“We were working on an incredibly old, complicated portion of the Chia-Code. There also was not a good way to test it without applying the changes. Unfortunately, this vital portion of code is used by most of our communication systems. Therefore, we now no longer have contact with Kreludor or even Faerieland.”
Alana shook her head, “Ugh, that’s right. Queen Fyora probably can’t beam it to us because of the comms are down. Every time you try to send a message, you’ll get the Down for Maintenance Pteri. It looks like we’re going to have to send someone down to Neopia then.”
Mira looked over at Rails, who then shook his head vigorously.
“Oh no, you can’t send me. I need to be up here to fix the issues, I cannot be…”
Mira held up her hand. “I think this is a great opportunity for you to learn how to be a team player.”
“Huh? Team player? What do you mean?”
Alana placed her hand on Rails’ shoulder.
“You’ve done a lot of great things for the team here. However, I think part of that should also include taking on other types of tasks. Besides, you’re best suited to help Queen Fyora make a copy of the backup.”
“I-I’ve never met her.”
“Trust me, she doesn’t bite. Think of how lucky you are. Some Neopians don’t ever get a chance to meet her,” Mira replied.
“Ugh, fine! How am I going to get to Neopia?”
“Fortunately, there’s another way to get you to Neopia when the communication system, and by extension, the warp system is down. We can send you down with faerie magic.”
“If you can send me down to Neopia with faerie magic, why in Neopia do you need all these systems?”
Alana smiled. “Faerie magic is limited use. And besides, you do like your job, don’t you? Think about the fact that these systems keep you employed.”
“I guess so.”
“Now, as for the rest of us, we can try to work on a temporary line of communication between Kreludor, Neopia, and the space station.”
Three Grundos, Kali, Archie, and Deb, sat in the basement of Café Kreludor. About a couple of hours into their workday, they noticed that something had happened with the communications with Virtupets.
“Uh, Kali, are you noticing this?” Archie said, pointing at a screen. In bright red letters, a large message flashed across.
“Something has happened! Unable to detect a communication device. Please contact the Virtupets system administrator!” it read.
“Have you tried turning it off and on again?” Deb quipped.
“Haha, very funny. As if that’s ever fixed anything around here,” Archie replied, shaking his head.
“Do you think Dr. Sloth or someone working for him installed a signal jammer somewhere?” Kali asked.
“It certainly is possible. Although, I feel like the space faerie would have paid us a visit by now or alerted us via Neomail or something.”
“Y-you don’t think Dr. Sloth got her? Do you?” Kali asked.
Archie shook his head. “Sloth isn’t quite known to stay quiet for long. We should just wait and see. Don’t do anything rash now, Kali.”
“Rash? Whatever do you mean?”
“He means don’t call for a bunch of Resistance folks quite yet. We all know they will be unnerved by this communication loss,” Deb responded. She then rolled her eyes and left her station to go get a snack from the café.
“What’s gotten into her?” Archie asked.
“No idea, we should follow her. Perhaps she’s going to go check on something in the process of getting a snack.”
The three Grundos went upstairs into the café. There was a sizable amount of Kreludorians there, many of them for breakfast. Deb walked over to the counter where there was an Elderly Grundo taking orders.
“One Lava Latte, please,” she said. “Oh, and also a bowl of Moon Crunch Cereal.” The Grundo behind the counter nodded, and Deb handed her the right amount of Neopoints.
The other two Grundos also placed orders for Lava Lattes. Archie preferred Moon Soup, and Kali enjoyed the Half Grundo Sandwich. The three of them then took a seat at a table. Deb pulled out a device and pointed it at the center of the café. The middle of the café concealed a large antenna meant for communications. She then smacked the device’s screen a few times and hit a round green button.
“Ugh, why isn’t this thing working?!” she yelled.
“You know, perhaps we should go investigate this issue. We could take a trip to the Space Station today.”
“It’s Dr. Sloth, I know it!” Kali shouted.
Suddenly, the café grew extremely silent as the rest of the café patrons turned to look at Kali.
“Now you’ve done it!” Deb scolded, elbowing Kali.
“Ow! What if it is Sloth?”
The café patrons began to feel a sense of alarm. “Sloth? Here? Again? We must prepare for battle!” a few of them shouted.
“No, no Sloth,” Archie tried to say before mass panic began, and the crowd of patrons left the café for their ships.
“Uh oh,” Deb said. “Kali, look what you’ve done. We’ve got to get to the bottom of this before they start flying toward the Space Station. Let’s get onto our ships and head to Virtupets.”
“Plain Neopian clothes… why?” Rails said.
“Well, we don’t want you to stand out in Faerieland. The faeries would otherwise be too interested in hearing about the Space Station,” Mira said.
Rails changed out of his space attire and stood on a platform in front of Mira and Alana.
“Alright, have fun in Faerieland. Remember, this will send you straight to the castle where one of Fyora’s attendants will be expecting you. Then follow them to meet with the queen. I’ve briefed her on this situation already,” Alana said.
“How? Without communications?”
“Well, us faeries have another mode of communication. We are connected, after all.”
“Why don’t we just hand over all this work to the faeries, if they can do everything?” Rails retorted.
“You’re going to need a better attitude than that if you are going to be in Fyora’s presence.”
“Oh, sweet Fyora’s going to be mad at me. How will I ever live?”
“Rails! Take this job seriously!” Alana scolded.
“Fine, fine, I’ll go.”
Mira waved her arms, and a flash of blue light surrounded Rails. Moments later, he disappeared and reappeared from a portal in the castle. Unlike the Altador portal, this one disappeared immediately after his arrival. Queen Fyora would have to use her magic to send him back.
A Pink Gelert stood in front of him and nodded approvingly.
“Good, you dressed like an ordinary Neopian. Wouldn’t want the other faeries to be too nosy. The name is Celandra,” the Gelert said. She extended her paw. Rails shook it.
“Very well, follow me. Queen Fyora cleared her schedule to receive you.”
“So how are we going to dock? They won’t know we are coming,” Archie said as he sat at the controls of a small ship heading out to the Space Station.
“We might just have to fly by one of the windows and hope someone from the Resistance or Mira herself recognizes us,” Deb suggested.
“We could also do it the old-fashioned way, NeoGraph. Just signal using our lights,” Kali said.
“That’s… actually a good idea. Nice one, Kali,” Deb replied. She had been cross with Kali since they got on the ship, but in the interest of working as a team, she knew when to get along.
The outside of their ship was white with red stripes. An emblem with a picture of Gorix and Cylara decorated each side, indicating that it was a Resistance ship. They were still a few minutes away from the Space Station, so the three of them sat down and waited as the ship cruised toward the station. Minutes passed before Archie noted something was on the radar scanner.
“An approaching object…” Archie said.
A few seconds later, they noticed the Space Faerie floating their way with her blaster drawn. Mira had sensed them from afar and went on a spacewalk to go intercept the ship. She looked menacing, ready to fire at the ship in case it was hostile. She floated closer and got a good look at the three Grundoes, and then put her blaster away.
“Hello. What brings you here?”
“I think the comms went down,” Deb replied.
“Is it Sloth?!” Kali blurted.
Mira laughed. “Concerned as always, huh Kali? Nope, it’s not Sloth. Just Alana’s crew needing to rollback their Chia-Code. Unfortunately, Alana’s Petpets damaged the backup. So, she sent Rails down to Faerieland to get the golden master copy from Queen Fyora.”
“Oof sounds rough. However, we have an additional problem. A sizable amount of Kreludorians are now anxious that this is another Dr. Sloth scheme and are now scrambling their ships toward here. My concern is if one of them starts firing their blasters overzealously.”
Mira’s expression grew increasingly concerned. “Dearie me, we’re going to have to find a way to stop them or get the comms fixed soon. How about you guys go back and tell them?”
“They might not believe us. They seem to be itching for a fight.”
“How about if I go?” Mira said.
“You could try, but there’s a lot of them and very little time,” Archie said.
“You guys dock with the station then. I’ll try to get to Kreludor as fast as I can.”
“Hello, your majesty,” Rails said, bowing awkwardly toward Queen Fyora.
“Hello, Rails. I’ve been expecting you. You can call me Fyora, by the way. Anyways, what’s this about this backup technology device? I knew Alana and Mira stored something in the basement of the castle. I don’t fully understand what it was, though.”
Rails sighed and cringed slightly. “She is completely illiterate when it comes to space devices,” Rails muttered to himself.
Fyora was an expert at listening faerie gossip, so she heard Rails’ complaints. However, she simply smiled and said, “I’ll lead you to the device. I trust you’ll help me use it?”
“Sure, uhh, Fyora.”
Queen Fyora and Rails made their way to a circular platform with wings on each side. The wings were labelled with numbers and letters. Fyora tapped the one that read ‘B’ and then typed what appeared to be a random combination of numbers.
Huh, they have password authentication. Why is faerie magic just like space station systems?” Rails thought to himself.
The platform descended a shaft until it stopped at the very bottom. The two of them then proceeded straight down a narrow corridor lit with a dim pink light. Queen Fyora caused a bright pink light to appear from her staff so they could see better. They finally came to a large metal door with the Resistance emblem. Fyora gently tapped the logo in certain spots. The sound of a lock clicked, and then the door swung open. Inside, there was a device with a large screen, resembling the ones on the space station.
“Alright, Fyora. If you have a seat here and then put your finger on this knobby pushy button, it should start. It must be your finger, though. Also, be sure to look directly at this other circular thing in front of you.”
“Well, that’s certainly strange. Why?” Fyora asked out of curiosity.
“Ugh, she’s one of those curious types. They waste so much time.” Rails thought.
“Well, the knob here detects your unique fingerprint and this thing here scans your unique face,” Rails said.
The screen came on a few seconds later.
“Okay, now I’m going to insert this little device into here. When a rectangle comes up, I need you to use this thing with two buttons here and press the left one over the ‘Yes’ square.”
Rails inserted a circular key-like device into the back of the system.
“Umm, Rails. Nothing popped up.”
“You’re kidding, let me see.”
The screen sat blank. Rails jiggled the key.
“Is something the matter?” Fyora asked.
“No, I don’t know, just let me handle it,” he snapped.
Fyora seemed taken aback at Rails snapping at him and folded her arms.
“I’m sorry that I am not much help. Can you please afford me some patience?” she asked, raising her voice slightly.
“Just let me…” Rails began. He then stopped because something popped up on the screen.
“Okay, now do the thing I told you to do,” Rails said.
“I don’t see where I’m supposed to press. What do you mean press over the ‘Yes’ square?” Fyora asked.
“Just give it to me, and I’ll…”
Fyora shook her head. “Can you please teach me to do this so I can be more helpful next time?”
“Ok, just move this by sliding it around.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me!”
Fyora rarely lost her temper, but she began to shout. “Rails, I apologize for not knowing how to use this device! I would greatly appreciate it if you spoke more respectfully!”
“I-I… ugh…” Rails said, burying his face into his hands. “I’m awful at this teaching thing. I’m sorry.”
Queen Fyora gently put her hand on his shoulder. “I appreciate you trying. I know why Alana sent you here. She wanted us both to learn something. Now take a deep breath with me… there you go. Let’s take a few more… good. Alright, are you feeling better now? I certainly am.”
“Uh, yes, Fyora. That was… surprisingly calming. Anyways, do you see this thing with two buttons? If you move it around, you’ll see an arrow move around with it. Once that arrow is over the ‘Yes’ square, just press down right here.”
“Hmm, I can do that.” Fyora carefully slid the small device around and pressed the ‘Yes’ square on the screen.
A large progress bar made it's way slowly across the screen. As they waited, Rails turned to Fyora again.
“I’m sorry I snapped at you. Especially at you since you’re the Faerie Queen,” he said.
“Well, I know you didn’t mean it. I have been meaning to learn how to use this device. Mira’s been telling me about all the other things it can do to keep me organized.”
“Well, there’s a lot to learn. For example, how to use a keyboard.”
“Oh, I have heard of Typing Terror. Is this something similar?” Fyora asked.
The device made a beeping noise.
“Bzzzt. ENTER A COMMAND:” read the screen.
Rails looked and then turned to Fyora.
“I can tell you what to type. You just press the keys in that order.”
copy /weewoOS/home/user/foreverpink/backups/virtupets.valk -to /disks/rails/backups/
“Ah, we’re copying something,” Fyora said.
“Yeah! You do get it!”
“Well, it was just a good guess.”
“Bzzzt. AUTHENTICATION NEEDED:”
“Hmm… remember that thing you did to get that platform moving? Why don’t you try those numbers?” Rails suggested.
Fyora pressed the number keys.
“Hey, maybe you should keep coming down here to teach me how to use this?” Fyora asked.
“What’s so amusing?” Fyora asked.
“I told you, I’m a terrible teacher.”
“Rails, you’re not. You just started out. Of course, you’re not an expert in teaching this to others. You have to start somewhere. After all, Alana thinks this will help you train others. Especially when you’re such a capable individual.”
“Wait… Alana? Wait, did she send me down here to teach me a lesson?”
“Oh come on now, Rails, you make that sound like being here is punishment.”
Rails laughed nervously while turning bright red.
“Uh, I didn’t mean it like that, Fyora.”
Fyora wrapped her arm around Rails and hugged him a bit. Rails sighed, not used to all this hugging, but deciding that it wasn’t so bad.
“You know, it’s been a while since I’ve had company with someone; you’re always welcome to visit.”
“Ding! COMPLETED COPYING.”
Rails pulled out the peripheral he had inserted.
“Perhaps, I will. After all, who can say they got to hang out with the Faerie Queen for a morning?”
Fyora laughed. “I’m glad you enjoyed this.”
“Enjoy?” Rails repeated. “Well, I guess it was alright.”
“Anyways, don’t let me hold you up, it’s time to send you back to the Space Station.”
The Faerie Queen waved her hands, and a pink glow surrounded Rails.
“Hopefully, I’ll see you soon! Goodbye!”
Mira noticed many ships taking off from Kreludor. She tried to flag them down, but none of them seemed interested in stopping. Finally, one ship stopped, and Mira floated up to them.
“What’s going on?” Mira asked.
“Sloth has cut our communication lines!” they replied.
“No, he hasn’t! We just had an issue on the space station.”
“How can you be sure?”
“I saw it happen.”
“I don’t know, maybe he’s secretly behind it. I’ll go check it out.”
But it was too late; the ships continued to ignore Mira. It became apparent that after a long period of peace, some of the members of the Resistance were eager to do something. Mira continued to try and hoped that things on the station would be fixed soon.
Rails returned to the station and was greeted by Alana, Pearl, and the three Grundos from Kreludor.
“Uhh, hello, everyone.”
“Welcome back. You have the backup?”
“Ah, yes, right here.”
“What was it like meeting her?! Tell me!” Pearl demanded.
“She’s the queen and all. But, she’s also very kind, maybe one day you’ll get to meet her too.”
“Ahhh! You’re so lucky!”
“Let’s hurry. Apparently, folks in Kreludor have scrambled ships, thinking that Dr. Sloth is causing all of this. The last thing we want is everyone panicking for no reason,” Deb said.
“Whoa! Uhh, can’t Mira go and tell them?”
“They seemed super eager, and I’m not sure Mira can convince all of them to stop.”
“Ok!” Rails ran to the room with all the devices and plugged his backup copy into one of them.
“Alright, Pearl. Help me out with this. When this thing is done copying, I need you to run the deploy job.”
Pearl nodded. A few seconds passed.
She quickly typed a few commands. A few moments later, the screen flashed red.
“What?! What is going on?!” Rails shouted.
Alana rushed over to them. “What’s wrong? Oh, the deployment failed. Let’s look at the error logs.”
“Look!” Archie said.
“Uh oh, there’s a bunch of ships headed this way. What do we do?”
“Umm, let’s send our ship out to meet them,” Kali said.
“Something has happened! Invalid timestamp on virtupets.valk!” Alana read the error out loud.
“Pearl, I need you to manually edit the timestamp on this file. Set the time to midnight of this morning,” Rails said.
“Right! Umm, I forgot how.”
Rails opened his mouth and then quickly shut it. He knew what he was about to say was unhelpful. He waited and then opened his mouth again.
“Remember, the command to do this is ‘timeshift,’” Rails said.
“Ah, I remember now!” Pearl exclaimed.
Meanwhile, the three Grundoes went out to stop the other ships by sending a Neograph message. After all, only Mira could communicate with any ship in space with her space faerie magic. The comms between ships were also faulty. However, it appeared that none of the paid attention, and some of them even began to engage their laser shields.
“Ah! What’s gotten into these fools?!” Archie said, frustratingly trying to manoeuvre out of the way of the laser beams.
Back on the station, the deployment was attempted again. Soon it was finished successfully. Then another message popped up.
“WeewoOS needs to be restarted after applying this deployment.”
“Ok, let’s do it.”
Suddenly, the lights on the Space Station flickered as they sometimes did when the system rebooted. However, from the outside, it appeared that something abnormal was occurring, which scared them further.
“Oh no! Sloth is taking it down! Let’s go!!!”
The ships started zooming toward the docking station, and a few of the crews got off and started pointing their blasters at everyone at the docks, interrogating them on whether they were with Sloth.
At that point, the system came back online. Mira flew back into the computer room and then grabbed the intercom microphone, which communicated with ships.
“Here goes nothing. I hope this works,” Mira said.
“EVERYONE, STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING!” Mira shouted through the comms. The ships all stopped their activity, looking confused.
“I commend your enthusiasm, but Sloth didn’t do it. There was an issue, and our wonderful Coding Faerie and her engineers, Rails, and Pearl spent many hours fixing, how about a round of applause to thank them?”
They then heard clapping.
“Alright, now that everything is back to normal, I hope everyone has a safe trip back to Kreludor!”
“Well, that was anti-climactic,” Deb said.
“Next time, I won’t shout about Sloth anymore,” Kali said.
Deb gave Kali a deathly stare and then smiled. “Don’t worry about that, everything is all good now.”
Archie laughed and turned their ship toward Kreludor.
Back on the station, Rails thanked everyone for their help and apologized to Pearl for being impatient with her before.
“I apologize. Working with Fyora has made me realize I could work on being more patient.”
“Aww, that’s nice of you. Thanks. I forgive you!” Pearl said.
“Thank you,” Rails said. He then slid back into his chair and started a new backup of the Chia-Code, just in case.