Come dance with the gypsies... Circulation: 120,207,245 Issue: 243 | 9th day of Relaxing, Y8
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Behind the Forbidden Door: Part One


by sarahleeadvent

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Author's Note: I entered one of the story telling competitions and lost, but I still think the character I invented is too good to forget and the story about him is worth telling. The first section of this story is the part that began the contest, but the rest is my own, and if even one person reads this and likes it, I haven't been wasting my time.

"Ugh, doesn't this dumb space station have anything interesting to do?" grumbled Lerox, looking around in disdain.

      His sister, a blue Acara, shook her head at the bratty Grundo and sighed. "You could just try to enjoy what's here. Look, we can play Splat-a-Sloth."

      "Why on Neopia would I want to play that silly game? Everything in this place is totally lame," Lerox said with a sneer.

      Tishka sighed. Her brother had been born long after the Grundos had been freed from the tyranny of Dr. Sloth and had, in fact, never even been to the Space Station before. He was very different from the Grundos who'd lived through difficult times. "It's a game that celebrates the Grundos' independence and is quite special to them. I don't think it's very respectful of you to insult it like that."

      "Whatever," was her brother's only reply.

      "Arrgghh... you are such a brat sometimes, Lerox," the Acara hissed through gritted teeth. "Hey! Look at me when I'm insulting you! Come back here!"

      Tishka ran in the direction that her brother had gone. He was standing in an empty corridor in front of a door that was slightly ajar. On it, bold yellow letters read, "RESTRICTED. DO NOT ENTER." "Don't you dare..." Tishka whispered to her brother as he reached for the door.

     "Come on," her brother said with a wicked grin. He pushed the door open and slowly stepped inside. "Let's have some fun..."

      ^^

      "Splat-a-Sloth! A game made specifically to insult me! And now they're using my own space station as a tourist attraction- for tourists from a planet that should have been mine! And it would have been mine, if it weren't for that miserable Space Faerie. But she won't meddle with me again- not if she's dead!" Dr. Frank Sloth stopped pacing and sat down heavily in his chair, then extended an arm toward the large control panel which sat between him and a large viewscreen. His long, green fingers tapped a couple of buttons, and the various figures, star charts, and possible battle plans that had filled the screen were replaced for a moment by a blackness as dark as Sloth's heart. A moment later the screen was filled by the squint-eyed face of an alien Aisha, who did his best to subdue the trembling in his paws. "So, Flingon," Sloth purred, "have you found a way into the Station's main computer yet?"

      The evil tyrant watched with a mixture of cruel pleasure and impatient annoyance as the frightened Aisha squirmed in his chair for a moment and dithered. "No, sir- I haven't. The coding is quite complex, you see, and-"

      "Flingon!" Flingon jumped slightly at the outburst, and Sloth's eyes narrowed menacingly. "Do I need to put another agent on this assignment? I imagine my new and improved Spider Grundo II is getting rather hungry, and I haven't seen a helpless Neopet squirming in his web for quite some time..."

      Flingon went absolutely white. "N-no, sir!" he stammered. "I told you, the coding is complex, but I'll get it! I'm working as fast as I can!"

      Sloth's eyes narrowed menacingly. "Work faster," he said, his voice soft but with a cruel threat in it. "If you can't show me that you're worth your keep, do not doubt that I will terminate you."

      Suddenly Flingon stiffened with panic. From outside the door there came a voice: "Come on, let's have some fun!" Without waiting to consult his master, the Aisha turned off the screen and whirled to face the door, which had just begun to open. A small, green face poked through the doorway, looked around for a moment, then snapped around to face Flingon as the techie's voice broke the silence: "What are you doing in here?"

      "AAAGH!" The face withdrew at once, leaving the door still partly open, and Flingon could hear the young Grundo say, "Tishka, there's someone in there!"

      "Well, now you've done it!" a female voice muttered, and as Flingon stepped through the open door he saw a very frightened-looking blue Acara turn away from a defiant young Grundo.

      Flingon had had a lot of practise at concealing it when he had just been terrified, and his face was stern as he glared down at the two siblings.

      The young Acara glanced at Flingon's nametag, then hurried to apologize. "I'm so sorry, Mr. Flingon- my brother here, he wanted to go in that room, and I didn't grab him in time. I'm sorry- I-" With that she lapsed into silence.

      Flingon had a soft spot for children- but heaven forbid that Sloth should find out about that. Flingon would be spider food in less time than it takes to say 'mutant grundo'. "Well," he said, his voice softening a little, "just don't do it again."

      Tishka nodded quickly. "Yes, sir!" she answered, then elbowed Lerox, who had stuck his head back through the door.

      "Yeah, whatever," he muttered in reply.

      Tishka shot a venomous glare at her brother, then glanced apologetically at Flingon as the two children turned away. She was about to start berating her brother, but Lerox's next words stopped her short.

      "Hey, Tishka, did you see what I saw in there?"

      Tishka rolled her eyes. "What?" she asked, her voice displaying her annoyance and disinterest.

      Lerox grinned. "I saw a star chart on the desk! Do you wanna know what it had on it?"

      "Not really. Don't you realize you could have gotten us-"

      "In trouble- I know! But that star chart-"

      "Lerox, I really don't want to hear about it."

      Lerox ploughed on anyway. "It had an icon that looked like a spaceship! And right beside it there was a label: 'Sloth's current location'!"

      Tishka rolled her eyes, not even bothering to respond. Lerox would do anything to mess with her mind. Only this time... it was working. For no good reason that she could think of, Tishka couldn't get her brother's words out of her mind, and when she lay in bed that night she was still thinking about her brief encounter with the Aisha staff member who had let them off so easily. 'I think I'll see if I can pay him a visit tomorrow,' she thought. 'Then Lerox can poke his head back into that room, if he can, and see if he can get some sort of proof. He can even bring a camera, if he wants to. He's got that one that doesn't make any flash or noise when you take the picture- that would be perfect.' Tishka mentally shook herself. 'What am I thinking? Lerox was probably just pulling my leg- but why shouldn't I try my plan? At the least, it'll put him on the spot, and show him I can't be toyed with like that. I just hope I don't get us in trouble- Lerox would never let me forget that.'

      ^^

      Even though she had been in the space station only the day before, everything seemed strange to Tishka now that she was entering as the basic equivalent of a spy. Glancing down and to her left, she wasn't all that surprised to see that Lerox was as calm and normal as ever; the cheeky little Grundo played pranks and got involved in various kinds of mischief every chance he got, so this was really nothing new for him. Raising her eyes from her little brother, Tishka looked around quickly, her eyes searching for their goal. Yes, there it was- a door with an imposing-looking sign on it. The young Acara took a deep breath, and tried to remember the lines she had hashed out as she lay tossing and turning in bed the night before. It helped a little, but she was still nervous- she didn't do things like this every day. 'I wonder if I shouldn't just call it off now?' The thought flashed through her head, but right on its heels was a contradicting idea: 'Lerox would tease me about it for the rest of my life.' Tishka wished she had more time to think about it, but the door seemed to rush forward to meet her, and almost before she knew it the solid, forbidding metal rectangle was directly in front of her.

      As Tishka hesitated, Lerox poked at her ankle with his toe. "Come on, Tish, hurry up!"

      Glancing quickly around to make sure that no one was looking, the nervous Acara felt deeply relieved that most of the visitors were watching a laser show on the other side of the station; the last thing her frazzled nerves needed was for them to get caught. 'OK, here goes nothing.' Then, against every instinct in her well-mannered head, Tishka raised her paw and gave the door a couple of soft, timid knocks.

To be continued...

 
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