Blue's Way: Part Eight
“The DoN headquarters won’t send me any backup!” the Kougra growled.
“But I thought you said that the other DoN members had their own missions to deal with, anyway.”
“Hold on. The longer we stay here, the more likely we are to be in danger. Let’s go back to where we were before we came to Faerieland before we discuss this.” Arabell snatched the crumpled note up off the ground knocked lightly on the doors that led back into the house. “Alfred!”
The Tonu opened the door. “Miss?”
“We must leave. Take us to the private storeroom, please- you know the one.”
The butler bowed. “Right this way.” He led them quickly to a small door, opened it, and bowed them inside. Arabell snatched up a pouch lying by the door and, searching the shelves, placed a Strange Potion and a Darigan Paint Brush inside.
“What about stuff for us?” Rei asked.
Arabell glanced at her and shook her head. “We need wings, and you’re wearing the only color that can give Acaras wings, Rei. Fura, Darigan Wockies do have wings, but I figured that you would prefer to remain Faerie.”
“Yes,” Fura agreed.
“Let’s go, then.”
The trio, along with the two new Petpets, hurried out of the mansion through a back door. They immediately took flight and did not stop until they reached the clearing that they had used before. Immediately Blue gulped down the Strange Potion and, using the puddle of Rainbow Water that had formed when Catch dumped the pail full over him earlier, painted himself Darigan.
“Ah,” he sighed, stretching his wings. “I never feel as though I can truly stretch out while I’m a Faerie.” There was a sudden squawk as a Chumablah flew into the clearing and onto the Kougra’s shoulder. “Catch!” Blue greeted the Petpet with pleasure.
“Where has he been this entire time?” Rei asked curiously.
“He went to the Defenders Headquarters to make sure that the message that we received in Faerieland had been sent and was waiting for us there. Then, he just came back here and scouted out the area to make sure we aren’t going to run into anything unexpected.” He murmured a few words to the Petpet, who promptly squawked back. Blue sighed and pulled a note out of the pouch that had held the paintbrush and the potion. Catch read it, then promptly slashed at it with his claws. Turning back to the others, Blue stated, “Everything is normal around here; Catch has seen nothing unexpected. Then he asked what the message from the Defenders had to say, and he wasn’t too pleased by it.”
There was a momentary pause, during which Suncatcher flew over to the other two Petpets fluttering in the air and started to talk to them in Petpet language.
“So... back to what we were talking about earlier,” Fura began cautiously.
Blue’s face darkened immediately. “Yes.” He sighed. “When I said that we would be working on our own because the other DoN members have their own missions, I was telling the truth. It is my mission, and so it is my job to stop the SPO from taking over the world. However, in extreme cases such as this, the Defender is always, always given backup. That way, even if he or she fails, another Defender can step in and make sure that the world isn’t taken over.”
“Then... why aren’t you going to be given backup?” Rei asked.
Blue shook his head and sighed. “Most of the Defenders are out on missions of their own. Everybody who is left would be fine for a normal mission, but they’re just too inexperienced for something of this magnitude. They would probably end up hindering me more than anything else.” Blue suddenly slammed his paw into the ground. “The fools!” He gritted. “Why did they need to send out the experienced Defenders this day of all days!”
Fura was becoming frightened by how frustrated Blue sounded. “Blue,” she said quickly, “what about us?”
“Don’t you see?” the Kougra replied. “That’s part of the problem. I have a chance of pulling this off by myself, but I don’t know what to do with you two, to keep you safe! I don’t have enough time to take you back to Defender Headquarters, and I can’t risk letting you go by yourselves...”
Fura felt a rush of affection as she realized how deeply Blue cared about them both. “No, Blue,” she replied quietly. “I meant, let us be your backup.”
“You two?” Blue cried in astonishment. “No! There’s far too much danger.”
“Blue, look at me,” Rei commanded sharply. The Kougra obliged, and she firmly continued. “Stop acting so selfish!” she exclaimed, and both Blue and Fura blinked at her in surprise. “You’re trying so hard to protect us that you’re forgetting that we could help you. Sure, we’re young, and sure, we’re not yet DoN members. We’re not even in training yet! But I remember that right after you told us you were a Defender for the first time, I asked you why you would want a couple of kids tagging along. Remember what you said? You said that you wanted somebody around to cover your back. Well, guess what? That’s what you need now, so get off your high Uni and tell us what we need to do!”
Blue studied her for a long moment with an inscrutable look on his face, and a deep blush rose on Rei’s face as she thought about what she had said. After a moment, Blue spoke wryly. “Nobody has ever said anything like that to me since I was in my training days- especially when I’ve been in my Darigan form.” There was a pause. “Well, you are correct- I did say that I wanted you to cover my back. And I guess that if you two really are serious about becoming DoN members, you may as well start your training now. Just follow my lead, and try not to do anything too foolhardy- even if I am just being selfish, I don’t want either of you getting hurt. Got that?” With a wink and restored smile, Blue rose up on his haunches and lifted into the sky.
Looking at each other with fresh nervousness, Fura and Rei followed him into the sky. As Rei eloquently put it, “Considering that doing this mission with Blue could determine the ends of our lives, isn’t just following his lead foolhardy?”
Fura didn’t have a good answer.
* * *
About a half-hour later, the three Neopets and their Petpets landed on the beach of a small island. Sensing the need for silence, Rei spoke quietly. “What is this place? I’ve never been here before.”
Blue nodded. “This is the headquarters of the SPO. You know that the island that houses the Secret Laboratory cannot be found without a map, correct? This island is much the same. Only members of the Superior Painted Ones, or those who are being guided by a member can find the island through the mist that surrounds it.” Blue took a deep breath. “All right. It’s ten o’clock a.m. NST, so we have two hours to accomplish the mission. Like I said earlier, just follow my lead. Try to not draw attention to yourselves. Petpets, you’re not allowed into the main headquarters building, so you’re just going to stay put out here. Catch, I’ll use my claw-communicator if we run into any trouble while we’re in there. Just in case, you three may want to search for a way to get inside- an open window, for example.” Suncatcher’s eyes glowed in answer, and the three Petpets flew away quickly. Blue turned to the two girls. “Come along. The headquarters is up on the other side of this sand dune, on the firmer ground.”
The three Neopets flapped their wings, their paws just lightly skimming the sand, and swooped over the crest of the dune. They landed quietly, Fura and Rei staring in amazement and trepidation at the spherical silver building that rose out of the ground in a valley before them like a huge, curving cliff. Blue watched their reactions with a bit of amusement around his eyes and lips.
“It’s so big!” Fura gasped. “How do we get in?”
“Simple,” Blue replied. “You walk through those doors over there.”
Peering closely, the girls could just make out a large, silver double door on the building’s southwest side.
“But those look like the main doors,” Rei objected. “Don’t we need to sneak in somehow?”
Blue grimaced. “You can try to squeeze yourself through a ventilation shaft all day if you want, but I always prefer the simplest way.” He winked at them. “That would be the door. I am, after all, the co-leader of this entire operation.”
“Oh.” Rei felt extremely stupid.
“Well then, ladies, shall we go?” Blue asked playfully, offering each girl an arm. They giggled a bit, making him hope that they would act naturally throughout the mission and not cause others to become suspicious. All too soon, though, he had to become serious again. As they came nearer to the silver doors, he pulled free his arms and settled back into his arrogant Darigan pose. He pulled himself to his full height and stretched his wings to their full length. He fixed a baleful sneer on his face and authoritatively marched towards those silver, gleaming doors.
To be continued...