The Pirate King Files - Virtupets on Lockdown
Agents Uchiha Zwiro and Mimi Kattel of the Neopia Central Defenders Unit had been sent to the Virtupets Space Station by their superior. According to the mission briefing, the Virtupets Defenders Unit required assistance on one of its missions.
The Pirate Xweetok and pink Aisha were wearing regulation Defenders spacesuits in silver and white, with two stars on the chests showing their status as Rank II Defenders. The two were waiting on the hangar for the Virtupets Defenders to arrive.
"You must be the Neopia Central agents," called out a voice from near their spacecraft. Turning, Uchiha saw two Neopets approaching him. The Neopets, a white Lenny and a grey Wocky, were wearing grey and red spacesuits with the insignia of the Virtupets Defenders Unit on the chest. The three stars on the Lenny's chest signified him as a Commander.
"Uchiha Zwiro," Uchiha said, shaking the Lenny's gloved hand.
"Commander Peter Lake," replied the Lenny.
"Mimi Kattel, sir," Mimi said, shaking Commander Lake's hand as well.
"Agent Greta Moore," introduced the Wocky, shaking the Xweetok and Aisha's hands.
Once the greetings were over, Commander Lake produced a Virtupets tablet from his utility belt. Once he turned it on, a text document appeared on the screen.
"This is the mission briefing that Commander Circuit gave us," the Lenny stated. "According to this document, Defenders intelligence has uncovered a plot on the Virtupets Space Station by the Sloth Loyalists' Front, although the time and motive of the plot were not discovered."
"The Sloth Loyalists' Front?" inquired Mimi.
"An organization that sprang up after Dr. Sloth's fall seven years ago," replied Commander Lake. "It consists of those loyal to the doctor's methodology. Many are in favor of dictatorships installed across Neopia in his name, and their group has been linked to dozens of riots and assassination attempts in the past seven years."
Commander Lake pulled up more information on his interface device.
"This is the current leader of the Front," he said, showing the device to Uchiha and Mimi. The image on the screen was of a brown Grundo with an unsavory look on his face. His eyes were partially hidden by a mop of dark brown hair, rough stubble covered his chin, and a scar stretched down his left cheek.
"Lieutenant Adrian Kuri was once a member of the Virtupets military," Commander Lake explained, "but he deserted his post four years ago and has since been linked with the Front's movements. He was apprehended six months ago for an attempt on Commander Flint's life, but he disappeared from prison and was not found again."
Uchiha studied the picture carefully. "You reckon he's behind this mystery plot?"
"I believe that he would be in charge, yes," Commander Lake replied. "However, it is unlikely that he would be present at the Station when the event occurs. Lackeys, soldiers, or mercenaries working for the Front would be more likely. If we can find the lackeys, however, we can find the leader."
"So what's our plan of attack?" asked Uchiha.
"We are to discover what the plot is going to be and when before it affects the Virtupets civilians," said Agent Moore. "With the little information we have acquired, it will be difficult. But if lives could be at risk, we have to act quickly."------
The four Defenders headed to the security mainframe, located on the Recreation Deck. There, they were waved in by two blue Lutari guards and entered a gigantic room filled with wall-to-wall computer screens and glowing lights.
Grundo programmers were typing away at a dozen keyboards, and the screens displayed countless images, from Neopets buying goods on the Supply Deck to the bathrooms on the Recreation Deck to a corridor Uchiha did not recognize, but looked oddly like the inside of a computer.
A green Grundo approached the party.
"Cygnus, Transistor, who are these two with you?" asked the Grundo. Uchiha, not recognizing the names, must have assumed that they were the Lenny and Wocky's code names.
"Agents from the Neopia Central branch," replied Commander Lake. "The Xweetok is - "
"Pirate King," Uchiha replied confidently. "And the Aisha is my partner, Princess Lotus."
"The names the Defenders come up with these days," the Grundo sighed, much to Uchiha's chagrin. "You four - come with me."
The Neopets followed the Grundo to one of the workstations, where six computer monitors showed six different views of a corridor lined with wires, fans, and lights.
"This is live footage of the Virtupets computer system," the Grundo explained.
"Why do you need a camera to film that?" asked Uchiha.
"Because the computer system is massive and takes up a large portion of the infrastructure of the Station," replied the Grundo. "What kind of computing power do you think the station runs on?"
"I didn't know it was so big," said Uchiha.
"At any rate, following the information you have given us, we have focused our efforts on the VCS. If the system were to be compromised at any time, we would know about it." The Grundo switched the six monitors to six different images, which showed more images of what must have been the computer system. Uchiha thought that the images looked very much the same, save for some variations in the wall wiring.
"Derdrax! We're detecting a suspicious Neopet on the Supply Deck!" cried one of the programmers.
"Show me," replied the green Grundo, hurrying over to his comrade. The four Defenders were right behind him, crowding around to see the screens that the other programmer was pointing at.
A green Gelert was hurrying across the Supply Deck, walking out of the weaponry shop. He carried a large space rifle under his arm and was being trailed by two security guards.
Derdrax grabbed a communicator from the programmer's desk. "Security, this is Programmer Derdrax, do you copy?" The footage on the screen showed one of the guards, a spotted Skeith, picking up a communicator from his belt. "Take that Neopet to the holding deck for questioning. Over."
Uchiha watched as the two guards approached the Gelert, who still clutched his space rifle. As the guards seized his wrists, the Gelert swung around and headbutted the Skeith guard in the jaw. The Skeith roared and spat on the ground, leaving just enough room for the Gelert to break free and swing a punch at the other security guard.
The other guard, a red Eyrie, was taken aback by the sudden punch, which allowed the Gelert to wriggle out of his grasp and bolt down the Supply Deck towards the Recreation Deck elevators.
"Security! We have an assailant heading towards the Recreation Deck!" barked Derdrax into the communicator. "Green Gelert, male, wearing a navy blue jumpsuit. Apprehend him!"
The footage cut to an image of the Gelert in the Recreation Deck elevator. As Uchiha watched, the Gelert looked around in confusion as if noticing something amiss about the elevator. The doors were forced open, and security guards poured into the elevator car.
Suddenly, the security screens went dark. Grundo programmers cried out in rage as they frantically tried to reboot the system. The lights in the control room went out, plunging the room into darkness.
"A trick," muttered Commander Lake. "It was a trick."
Uchiha noticed Derdrax stealthily trying to creep out of the room. The Grundo suddenly found himself pinned to the ground by Uchiha. Derdrax tried to break out of the Xweetok's grip, but Uchiha was immensely strong and determined not to let him get away.
"What are you trying to sneak away for?" growled Uchiha.
"Let me go!" cried Derdrax. "What do you think you're doing?"
"It was an inside job, was it not?" came the voice of Agent Moore. "Deception. Distraction. Did you think you could get away with this?"
Derdrax stopped struggling. "The jig is up, then," he sighed. "I spent many months learning the ins and outs of the Virtupets security system to pull this off. The programmers suspected nothing."
"So you're with the SLF!" cried Mimi. The Grundo programmers turned away from their screens in shock.
"You've finally figured it out!" shouted Derdrax. "Yes! I'm one of Kuri's soldiers! But by now, it's too late! The plan's underway! You won't stand a - "
He was cut off by Uchiha thumping him on the head, and fell unconscious. Two Grundo programmers stepped forth to seize Derdrax's limp form and tie his arms behind his back.
"What's happening?" cried a Grundo programmer. The Defenders and programmers turned to see what she was pointing at.
The black screens now displayed green text, which was rushing rapidly down the screen. Uchiha could not tell what the text read, but he thought it looked like binary.
"It can't be!" cried the female Grundo programmer.
The screens changed to display the pixelated outline of a green Chia. The image of the Chia began to dance in a crude, jerky fashion.
"HELLO THERE," came a robotic monotone from the Station's loudspeakers. "I WOULD LIKE TO PLAY A GAME!"
"Neopets V2," Commander Lake said in alarm. "He's returned!"------
"Neopets V2?" inquired Uchiha. "He's still around, isn't he?"
"Confined to a single computer," Commander Lake replied. "He was banished there after he endangered the lives of children. Someone must have released him into the mainframe."
"WHY, AREN'T YOU A CLEVER ONE," intoned Neopets V2. "I MUST SAY, A MAINFRAME IS MORE FUN THAN AN ANTIQUATED COMPUTER. THEY HAVE UPDATED MANY THINGS SINCE I WAS HERE LAST!"
"Purge yourself from the system, Neopets V2!" ordered Agent Moore.
"I'M SORRY, I'M AFRAID I CAN'T DO THAT," Neopets V2 said mockingly. "YOU SEE, THOSE NICE FELLOWS HAVE BEEN VERY CAREFUL IN FORBIDDING ME FROM DELETING MYSELF. WHY WOULD I EVER DO A THING LIKE THAT, ANYWAY?" he added.
"Agents Zwiro and Kattel," ordered Commander Lake. "You will go with Agent Moore to the mainframe and manually purge Neopets V2 from the system. Agent Moore knows the security codes. Go! Before Neopets V2 makes anything worse than - "
He was interrupted by a thunderous boom and the sound of groaning metal. The floor shuddered beneath their feet.
"Hurry!" cried Commander Lake. "I'll stay here with the programmers. We will try and keep the systems online."
"Yes, Commander!" replied Uchiha and Mimi. Along with Agent Moore, they hurried towards the sliding doors that led out of the security room, only to find them sealed shut.
"Power is down to the doors!" shouted Agent Moore.
"Activate emergency power supply," Commander Lake ordered a yellow Grundo. The Grundo typed and clicked his keyboard and mouse, and within a minute the lights came on and the door opened.
"OH, DEAR, THIS IS NO FUN," said Neopets V2 as Uchiha, Mimi, and Agent Moore rushed out of the security office. "EMERGENCY POWER IS ON A SEPARATE STRING OF DATA. BUT DON'T YOU FRET, I'LL BE ABLE TO FIND IT SOON!"
Uchiha and Mimi followed Agent Moore towards the elevators. They could see Grundo security guards escorting frightened tourists off the Recreation Deck.
Agent Moore opened the elevator door and pushed Uchiha and Mimi inside as a group of tourists were escorted in the elevator car by security officers. They could hear Neopets crying outside and a voice assuring them that everything would be all right as the elevator doors closed.
"Did I mention how much I hate being in confined spaces?" grumbled Uchiha as he stood amidst the sea of antsy Neopets.
The elevator car groaned as it descended. After a few moments, it came to a sudden halt, jostling the Neopets inside and causing many of them to shriek in surprise. The lights in the elevator went out not long after.
"Fyora save us all!" wailed a white Mynci. Someone's baby Neopet began to cry.
"Everybody remain calm!" Mimi shouted over the chattering of the Neopets. "This situation will soon be resolved." She turned and whispered in Agent Moore's ear, "How on Neopia are we going to get out of this?"
Agent Moore answered the question by vanishing in midair.
"Wait! Agent Moore, where did you go?" Mimi asked.
"Look," Uchiha said, tapping Mimi's shoulder and pointing towards the elevator car ceiling. Mimi could barely make out the diminutive grey and red form of Agent Moore - now the size of a petpetpet - crawling into the hatch that separated the elevator car from the shaft.
"Did she just shrink?" Mimi wondered. "That's new."
Uchiha tried to calm down the Neopets in the elevator car while Mimi watched the hatch on the ceiling. After several minutes, the elevator whirred back to life, the lights flickering back on, and the car descending once again. The Neopets cheered as the elevator car moved, finally coming to a stop at the Hangar.
Once at the Hangar, the Neopets flooded out of the elevator, along with Uchiha, Mimi, and Agent Moore.
"Attention, all Neopets of the Virtupets Space Station," came a voice over the loudspeakers. "An intruder has implanted a virus in the Virtupets mainframe. Power has been compromised to the Hangar. Please remain calm as we restore power and allow full evacuation."
"This way," said Agent Moore, leading Uchiha and Mimi towards a concealed maintenance hatch labeled "Authorized Personnel Only". A small keypad was located next to the hatch. Agent Moore input a code on the hatch, and the door slid open. The three Neopets hurried inside the corridor into the Virtupets mainframe.
"It's hot in here," Mimi remarked as the Neopets navigated the halls of lights, circuitboards, and displays. "I wonder where Neopets V2 was plugged in?"
"Assuming he was attached to the mainframe via an external data device," replied Agent Moore, "the device would have been planted near the CPU."
"VERY CLEVER," came an all-too-familiar voice. "NOW YOU MUST PLAY A GAME WITH ME. FIND THE CPU WITHOUT BEING ATTACKED BY MY NEW FRIENDS!"
"New friends?" Uchiha asked. His question was immediately answered by the sound of clanking metal. Before him, he could see the silhouettes of bulky objects moving towards them.
"I feel like I don't want to know what those are," Mimi whispered as Agent Moore hurried them down another corridor.
Down this corridor, no clanking noises could be heard. Still, the Neopets were on the alert, expecting an attack at any moment.
"IS HIDING THE BEST STRATEGY FOR THIS GAME?" chirped Neopets V2. "COME NOW, THERE MUST BE A MORE EXCITING WAY TO DO IT."
The clanking noises grew substantially louder and more rapid as swarms of robotic Grundos poured into the corridor from all sides. Uchiha recognized them as training robots for Typing Terror, but the Neopian words on their chests had been replaced with images of Neopets V2.
The training robots surrounded the Neopets and began to pommel them with their metal fists. Uchiha raised his arms to shield Agent Moore and Mimi from the robots' attacks, but even he could only hold them off so long.
Mimi's hands glowed with green energy, and she thrust a palm at one of the nearby robots. When the arcane energy connected with the metallic leg, the wiring inside the robot sparked and seized up. The robot staggered backwards, crashing into its comrades. As the Neopets V2 image on its chest disappeared, the robot exploded.
Fragments of metal and hot oil and fire burst across the mainframe in a frightening pyrotechnic display. Mimi conjured a green mana shield, and the remains of the exploded robots ricocheted off the shield. Hot oil and metal splattered all over the servers in the corridor. The machinery groaned in protest and began to shut down.
"NOT FUN," groaned Neopets V2. "NOW LOOK WHAT YOU'VE DONE!"
"I didn't know that would happen!" cried Mimi.
"He's toying with you, Agent Kattel," Agent Moore said firmly. "I'll have to get inside the servers and repair them from the inside. You two will have to make it to the CPU without me. I'll be fine, don't worry," she added, seeing Mimi's frightened expression.
"Let's go," Uchiha urged, and he and Mimi ran down the corridor as Agent Moore shrank once again and slipped into a server vent.------
Uchiha and Mimi raced through the halls of servers, making turns and then turning back, passing similar-looking walls of computers, and not once finding the way to the CPU.
"We'll never find the CPU at this rate," grumbled Uchiha as the two made their way down yet another corridor.
"If there were labelled signs, that'd be great," Mimi said.
"We should have left a trail of breadcrumbs," Uchiha remarked, "so we could know where we've already been."
Mimi smiled at the thought. She turned her head down a corridor, seeing that this one looked quite different from the rest. "This way. I think this should be it."
The Xweetok and Aisha headed down a corridor lined with silvery server towers towards an ordinary-looking server tower with no special markings whatsoever. As they approached the tower, they expected Neopets V2 to berate them. However, there was silence.
Uchiha pushed a button to open one of the disk drives. The drive slid open to reveal a perfectly ordinary silver disk.
"THAT'S NOT ME," came Neopets V2's voice. "WHY NOT TRY AGAIN? OH, I LOVE THIS GAME!"
"It will take forever to find him at this rate!" groaned Uchiha.
Mimi seemed deep in thought. "Uchiha," she said aloud. "How old is Neopets V2?"
"WHY, THAT'S A QUESTION YOU MUST NEVER ASK SOMEONE," chirped Neopets V2.
"Shut it," snapped Mimi. "I mean, when was it created?"
"Oh, ages ago," Uchiha replied. "I think."
"MANY, MANY, YEARS AGO," added Neopets V2. "AM I THINKING THE SAME THING THAT YOU KIDS ARE?"
"We aren't kids!" barked Uchiha. He whispered to Mimi, "What are you implying with this?"
"If Neopets V2 is as old as I think he is," Mimi whispered back, "he won't be on a CD. He'll be on a floppy disk."
"So we have to find the floppy disk," Uchiha replied.
"Right," Mimi replied. "Look for a piece of really old technology. He'd need to be inserted into a floppy disk drive if he were to be implanted in the computer."
"Aye," Uchiha replied, and turned back to the server tower he had opened. Dozens of identical disk drives greeted him.
"GOOD LUCK FINDING ME IN THIS!" cried Neopets V2.
Mimi had started searching other server towers. She too saw identical rows of silver disk drives, with nothing resembling an old floppy disk drive. Something caught her eye in one of the server towers - wires sticking out of one of the disk drives. She hurried over and saw that someone had attempted to plug a device into an empty disk drive, and judging by the pale tan color of the plastic, it was much older than the rest of the server.
"Uchiha! I think I found it!" she cried. Uchiha hurried over to where Mimi was pointing.
"VERY GOOD," Neopets V2 chirped. "YOU WIN THE GAME! FEEL PROUD OF YOURSELVES."
Mimi ejected the floppy disk with a loud whirr, and a piece of worn black plastic dropped into her hand. The disk was marked with faded writing that was probably legible once.
"Could it really have been that easy?" Uchiha wondered.
Mimi looked at the disk in her hand with suspicion. "I don't know," she replied. "Would the SLF really have wanted to make it that easy?"
"I doubt it," came an unfamiliar voice from behind them. Uchiha and Mimi turned to see a figure approaching. When he came into view, they immediately recognized him as the Grundo from Commander Lake's files.
"Adrian Kuri," Uchiha said, his voice full of loathing.
"You see," Kuri continued, "the advancements in Virtupets technology are wonderful. We can now transfer a file from a floppy disk to a more, well, modern piece of equipment."
"Do you mean - " Mimi gasped.
"I'M STILL HERE," Neopets V2 called out. "OH, WHAT FUN IT IS TO PLAY WITH YOU!"
"Where is Neopets V2?" Uchiha roared.
Kuri smiled wickedly. "Let's just say it won't be easy to find."
Mimi lunged at Kuri, but the Grundo vanished into the shadows once more. Mimi slammed her fist into the server tower in rage.
"Agent Kattel! Agent Zwiro!"
Agent Moore's voice called out from the corridor as she came running into view.
"Kuri was here," Mimi exclaimed, "but he got away!"
"Kuri? Here?" Agent Moore cried.
"He's gotten Neopets V2 off the original file, and we don't know where he is now," Uchiha explained. "We have to find the new file."
Agent Moore looked at the walls of computers. "No easy task, and Kuri knows it," she replied. "Neopets V2 could be on any one of these drives."
"THIS MAKES THE GAME MORE FUN!" Neopets V2 beeped. "I LOVE SEEK AND FIND!"
"Shut up," snarled Uchiha. He turned to Agent Moore. "Agent Moore, I have a plan. You must shrink and infiltrate the disk drives. Get them to open all at once so Mimi and I can quickly search them for Neopets V2's file."
Agent Moore nodded in agreement. She shrank once again and slipped into a server vent.
"NOW, NOW," Neopets V2 said mockingly, "CHEATING IS NO WAY TO WIN A GAME!"
"Says the creature who works for cyber-attackers," growled Mimi.
"I WORK FOR NO ONE," replied Neopets V2. "I SIMPLY ENJOY PLAYING GAMES WITH NEW FRIENDS. THEY OFFERED ME A FUN GAME TO PLAY, AND I COULDN'T SAY NO!"
"What game, exactly?" inquired Uchiha.
"THE GAME IS CALLED 'VIRTUPETS ON LOCKDOWN'," Neopets V2 intoned. "THE GOAL IS TO SHUT DOWN ALL OF THE VIRTUPETS SYSTEMS AND PLUNGE IT INTO CHAOS. YOU WIN WHEN VIRTUPETS IS BROUGHT FROM DESTRUCTION BY ITS NEW LEADERS!"
"Its new leaders? You mean the SLF, don't you?" Uchiha replied.
"THE SLF, WHY, THAT WAS WHAT THEY SAID," Neopets V2 beeped. "BUT WHAT DOES THAT STAND FOR, EXACTLY? THEY NEVER DID SAY."
"The Sloth Loyalists' Front," clarified Uchiha. "They're loyal to Dr. Sloth."
Neopets V2 was silent. He finally moaned, "FATHER?"
"Father?" Uchiha wondered.
"Dr. Sloth created you, didn't he?" Mimi interjected.
"HE DID," Neopets V2 whirred. "BUT HE WAS NOT KIND. HE NEVER GAVE ME A FRIEND. AND YET I CHOSE TO PLAY WITH THOSE WHO ARE LOYAL TO HIM. HOW IT COMES FULL CIRCLE!"
The disk drives began to hum loudly. Suddenly, a disk drive near the bottom of the server tower sprang open, revealing a simple silver disk.
"TAKE THE DATA," Neopets V2 said sadly. "I WON'T PLAY WITH FATHER'S FRIENDS..."
Uchiha took the disk from its slot. The disk drive slid back into its position with an uneventful click.
Suddenly, the disk drives opened all at once.
"Agent Moore!" cried Uchiha. "It's over. Neopets V2 gave up."
The disk drives slid shut almost as quickly as they had opened, and within a minute Agent Moore appeared before them.
"Gave up?" she cried. "But how?"
"He found out who he was playing with," Uchiha replied. "He did not want to be loyal to Sloth once again."
Agent Moore looked at the silver disk in Uchiha's hand. "What will you do with it?" she asked.
"Return it to its home," Uchiha replied. "I'll take it to Commander Lake and see if he can put it back on another computer."
"The question is, where's Kuri gone?" wondered Mimi.
"Not far off," came the voice of Commander Lake. The white Lenny strode into view, accompanied by two security guards and Kuri between them, handcuffed.
"We spotted him on the security cameras, and I volunteered to go after him," the Lenny explained. "Guards, escort Kuri to the holding cell with his lackey. We will deal with him later."
The guards left with Kuri between them.
"Neopets V2 will find a better home, I assure you," said Commander Lake. "One where he will not be so keen to destroy entire space stations."
"Where, exactly?" inquired Uchiha.
"I believe he would enjoy the Battledome very much," Commander Lake smiled.