Agent of the Sway: Resistance - Part Three
Clayton made his way back through the jungle, finding the ship almost repaired. Hugo and Werther had returned, but it seemed like Roxton and Lilian had been separated and were taking a long route back.
Clayton hid himself aboard as those on the beach proceeded to fight about staying or leaving. Soon enough, Roxton and Lilian arrived, followed by a horde of mutated Petpetpets. They managed to get on the ship while Roxton held them off, before he jumped into the water and swam after them.
Free at last, they lamented they had no evidence of their trip, until Lilian revealed the fruit she had hidden back in the jungle.
It wasn't long before Werther paid Clayton a visit in the hold.
"Well?" he asked. "I trust you went into Sloth's lab after we lured the creature away?"
"Lured?" Clayton smirked. "Is that what you call it?"
Werther tapped his foot impatiently.
"I recovered his research notes," Clayton said, revealing the blueprints. "There didn't seem to be anything else salvageable."
"Good, I'll take them," Werther said.
"No, you won't," Clayton replied. "I have orders to recover these."
"So do I," Werther replied. "You must know that they are more valuable in the hands of the Resistance. Unless of course you lied to me the other day, and are planning on handing them back to Sloth."
"The plans stay with me," Clayton maintained.
"Well, then I'll just have to tell the Captain he has another stowaway," Werther said simply.
Clayton considered this.
"Let me talk to my superiors," he said.
That night, he crept out on deck and found a Crokabek waiting. He send off a message to the Duchess and waited for a reply. When one came, it instructed him to hand over the plans to Werther.
'In the end, they will be in our hands regardless. We have agents within the Resistance who can procure copies for us.'
That night, Clayton visited Werther's cabin and delivered the plans.
6 Years Ago...
The Seekers were fickle people - Lilian's fruit had not been seen as evidence enough of the island's existence, and a subsequent expedition to the location marked on Rourke's maps found the island was not there.
When the Fairweathers had protested that the island moved, they had been ridiculed even more than usual. Thankfully, it seemed, the secrets of Dr. Sloth's early experiments would remain exactly that.
The Sway were indeed able to recover copies of the documents from the Resistance, and the Duchess informed Clayton that they would indeed be quite useful in protecting key personnel from mutation. Unfortunately, there simply wasn't a way to inoculate the entire population of Neopia - Sloth's attack was judged imminent.
Clayton was called to the marketplace with little notice - the Duchess was again meeting in public. He found her inspecting the fruit on a nearby stall.
"Sloth has made his first move," she said, not even turning to look at him. "Our efforts are about to be tested."
"What has he done?" Clayton asked, stepping into line beside her and pretending to look at a tchea fruit.
"Last night an agent in a listening post onboard the space station intercepted a transmission that was encoded so as to only be accessed by the Space Faerie," the Duchess said. "Naturally, we passed the transmission on to Grimilix, he has served us well in the past. Recognising Sloth's signature in the scrambling code, he was able to provide us with the full message."
"Sloth is sending the Space Faerie messages?" Clayton asked, momentary panic spreading across his face. "He's not telling her about us, is she?"
"No," the Duchess replied. "And even if he did, it would make no difference - Duke Hopesmeade was involved in all our dealings with Dr. Sloth in the past. The Space Faerie, and Fyora, would believe that Sloth was just reporting outdated information. No, the message is a lie, it purports to be from a stranded group of alien Aisha scientists in the Wuba system, requesting assistance as they are unable to contact their own central command. The Space Faerie has taken Sloth's bait - she has left our solar system, giving the Doctor a relatively free hand."
She picked up a florange briefly, before putting it back down.
"Already long range scans have detected a sizable number of troop transports breaking away from Sloth's fleet," the Duchess added. "Sleeper agents aboard the station have been reactivated - though thankfully Grimilix remains in our pocket."
"The Resistance response?" Clayton asked.
"Remarkably slow," the Duchess replied. "Even for them. We are using the same listening posts as them, they just seem unable to put the pieces together. So, I have arranged for information regarding Sloth's activities on Kreludor to fall into the hands of a Resistance agent. That should be enough to galvanise them into movement."
"You have a task for me?" Clayton asked.
The Duchess nodded.
"A mercenary has been assigned to intercept the Resistance agent and recover the information," she said. "Your initial assignment is to ensure the safety of the agent, known as Scout. After that, help repel Sloth's takeover. If Sloth commits more of his forces, I will give further instructions."
"To deal with Sloth for good?" Clayton asked.
"If needed," she said. "He has proved valuable in some respects, so if we can keep him weakened but at large, that will benefit us more. However, no one is indispensable."
Clayton nodded, taking a file from her and leaving the Duchess to her thoughts.
The Duchess was concerned that shuttles to and from Neopia would now have their passenger rosters examined by Sloth's agents aboard the station. For that reason, it was judged that Clayton would need another route to the station.
The wizards at the Museum in Neopia Central provided a solution - agreeing to teleport him up into the bowels of the station. Clayton appeared, refreshingly, in the exact place he was meant to - listening post Alpha 3, the hidden room of consoles in the station's ventilation shafts that served as Grimilix's home.
The little grey Grundo almost jumped out of his skin when Clayton arrived, before settling down when he realised who it was. Sloth's former top programmer had seen dealings with Clayton before.
"I thought you might be one of Sloth's men, come to finish me off," Grimilix said. "He doesn't take kindly to traitors."
"You'll be the first of many, trust me, Grimilix," Clayton said. "You've picked the right side. I'm here to make sure a resistance agent named Scout reaches her headquarters - a bounty hunter has been put on her tail. Can you give me her current location?"
Grimilix frowned for a moment, turning away and tapping on his various keyboards.
"You guys keeping a pirated copy of Neopet V2 was smart," he said casually. "I've been able to use it over the years to set up a number of back doors into the station's systems that even the Resistance don't know about. I have access to basically everything."
"Then you're my eyes and ears," Clayton said.
This didn't seem to impress Grimilix.
"I'm staying out of trouble," he said. "If getting you off the station quickly does that, I'll help you. Ah, here we are, Scout, maintenance cameras have her in duct 7-Gamma ten minutes ago. She's running, looks like she had a tail... Oh dear."
Grimilix moved back, revealing the view of the monitor. It was security footage of a heavily armed blue Acara.
"That's not Scout," Clayton said, consulting his files.
"No, it isn't," Grimilix confirmed. "That's your bounty hunter, I recognise her, she's one of Sloth's old favourites. Her name's Ylana Skyfire. She's dangerous, very dangerous."
"Skyfire... Skyfire..." Clayton murmured, leaving through the file. "Ah, yes, I see. I need to get there, fast."
"Leave here, head up three levels. Scout seems to be heading to the main concourse of the Recreation Deck. Here, take this."
He handed over a small electronic bracelet.
"Radio transmitter," he said. "So we can stay in touch. I can relay messages down to your leader with it as well, much quicker than Crokabek, let me tell you."
Clayton made his way up through the maintenance shafts that connected the various levels of the station. Grimilix's voice came over the radio as he went.
"I've just intercepted a communication from the Resistance," he said. "An agent named Gorix is on his way to meet Scout - he's good, veteran of the first invasion. The troop transports we picked up coming from Sloth's fleet have joined the commercial traffic coming into the station."
"Any idea what, or who, is onboard?" Clayton asked.
"Not yet," Grimilix said. "Preliminary scans by docking control are saying that they have a lot of people onboard, but that's not exactly surprising."
"Keep me informed," Clayton instructed. "I need to know exactly what we are dealing with as soon as possible."
Clayton emerged up into the wide promenade that served as the entrance area to the Recreation Deck. Dozens of Neopets were milling around, both locals and tourists. Many were ogling at the docking ships through the viewscreens that filled the outer wall.
Clayton did a quick scan of the area. No sign of Ylana anywhere, her blasters would stand out a mile off. The Scout, however...
There. A Cybunny matching her description was lurking around near the cafe trying to look as if she wasn't there.
"I've got an update on the troop transports," Grimilix's voice came over the radio.
"Who is it?" Clayton asked.
"Garoo," Grimilix answered. "Of course Sloth would send his faithful goon to oversee the invasion. He's just taken out the security cameras in the hanger so I can't see what he's doing, but there were troopers with him. A lot of troopers. Station security is aware of the incursion, Sergeant Lands just sent a station wide message for all security personnel to report to the docking bays."
"They won't hold Garoo for long," Clayton said. "Start locking down key systems to keep them out. Life support, engines, that sort of thing."
"Already doing it," Grimilix said.
"Oh dear," he added. "Lands has just ordered a station wide alert."
At that moment, sirens began to blare on the promenade, with red flashing lights popping up out of the floor. The locals were panicked, and the tourists even more so.
The main doors coming from the central elevator shaft were being forced open by Blumaroo soldiers, allowing Commander Garoo to stride through. The shadow Blumaroo with eerie glowing red eyes had a smug grin on his face.
"Thank you for the welcome." He smirked. "This station is now under the control of Dr. Frank Sloth. Round them up, soldiers!"
The Blumaroos darted forwards, firing off blaster shots to corral the other Neopets into place.
"Round them up?" Clayton frowned, ducking back into the air vent to avoid detection. "Grimilix, it seems like Garoo isn't just here to take back the station, he's capturing people on the Recreation Deck - likely for use in Sloth's mutation experiments."
"I'll send a circular to anyone I can find still in cover," Grimilix replied. "Try to get them to stay hidden. Sergeant Lands is falling back already, if there's going to be a fight back, it will have to come from the Resistance."
Outside, Clayton could see a blue Grundo emerging from the vents on the other side of the deck - Gorix, the Resistance agent looking for Scout. He seemed to be contacting a young Cybunny, who looked slightly similar to Scout, but certainly wasn't the one he was looking for.
Meanwhile, Scout had been forced out of her hiding position and appeared to be pretending to be the daughter of a family of captive tourists.
This was getting chaotic, too fast to react to - Clayton would have to stick to the Scout and hope the Resistance counterstrike came quickly.
To be continued...