Revolution Undercloud: Part Two
In the end, Cipher went on a journey to find his best friend/cousin three times removed (Skye). It took some convincing words on his part to let his reluctant Pops agree, but the Shoyru Colony almost instantly okay-ed his decision. They had hailed him admirably as a "well-bred hero", then filed out the door and went right on home. It wasn't necessarily a heroic odyssey, since Cipher wished to avoid the situation if he at all could. Most stories make heroes seem invincible, magical, strong, brave, and everything else that the little Hissi didn't feel like.
Getting to Faerieland wasn't as easy as it sounded. Most had the preconceived conception that if one just flew straight up, one would eventually hit some clouds, and thus, reach Faerieland. For the Hissi to get to Faerieland at all, he had to fly across the vast sea that isolated Mystery Island from the rest of the Neopian Lands, reach Neopia Central, and then look up and pinpoint the exact cloud that housed Neopia's most celebrated Faeries.
Cipher so far was on the "fly across the vast sea" stage of his plan. From all the stories he had read, he kind of expected that would-be-heroes would get all kind of exceptions. Like nice weather for one. He even had a poster at home of a Hissi hero that was flying dramatically in the beautifully clear starry night sky, looking tough and strong.
Weeell, guess fate didn't see him as a hero. It was raining, and the wind was howling. As the Hissi struggled through the dark air, he felt cold and weakened.
"I wish Pops had let me train!" he said to himself wistfully. His Strength, Defense, and Movement were only above average. Honestly, he didn't feel like he imagined a hero should: confident and composed.
He shook himself out of his hero musings. "Get Skye first- don't worry about her Colony's expectations of me."
Just as he said that aloud, a bright flash of light exploded right in front of him. Cipher hastily screeched to a halt in mid-flight, hovering anxiously to see just what had happened.
The light died down, but even through the sheets of pouring rain, he could make out a dark figure floating in front of him. Warnings of "Something has Happened!" red-flagged in his mind. He just prayed it wasn't Boochi. Being reduced to a drooling, diaper-wearing baby wouldn't be good at all at this delicate time.
For several minutes, nothing happened. The figure was silent and motionless.
Just as Cipher was going to fly around this hulking creature, a flash of lightning illuminated the area.
Cipher found himself looking into two slitted, intelligent eyes. His heart nearly stopped. This wasn't Boochi- it was worse.
Cipher was face to face with Sloth: Neopia's number one villain.
"Hello, Cipher," was Sloth's first casual greeting. Somehow, that tone of voice was scarier than any growl Cipher had ever heard.
Heart thumping madly, the young Hissi only had one question on his mind. "How do you know my name?" The guy wasn’t physic as well as psychotic, was he?!
The giant villain shrugged, smirking. There was a giant roll of his bulky shoulders. "Your dad and I go waaay back. I haven't seen you since you were a baby, though."
Cipher's mind reeled at this. His Pops? Lurkxy?
The ancient evil sneered at his confused and slightly frightened expression. "Lurkxy was a most excellent warrior. Was once very committed to my cause." He paused, and shrugged. "He's nothing but a big softie now. Pathetic, really. And such a shame--all that power going to waste."
"Liar!" yelled Cipher furiously. "You're lying. It's obvious. You're just messing with me. Pops would never have worked for you! He's got the straightest moral backbone Mystery Island's ever seen!" And that part was true. Cipher had never seen his Pops display true violence- not even toward the annoying ants that crawled all over the stored food in the summer. In fact, Cipher only knew of his Pops’ fighting ability in friendly Battledome challenges in the town square.
He wished he could believe himself, but the too calm expression on Sloth's face unnerved him.
Sloth sighed. "Cipher, Cipher. You're much too silly. Where do you think your father's mutant coat came from?" He watched with evident pleasure as the blue Hissi froze. For all Cipher's life, his Pops had always been a mutant. It wasn't too abnormal. Sure there were a good lot of mutants roaming Neopia, but compared to the other colors, they were few and far between. Cipher had never thought that his Pops looked strange, either, and thus never really thought about just how his Pops had become a mutant. The mutant Hissi wasn't... slimy to look at, especially compared to other mutant species. In fact, the only discernable difference between his Pops and another adult Hissi would be the second head that his Pops sported. As much as Cipher wanted to believe that his father had turned mutant through the Lab Ray, he knew it wasn't true. The one who managed their Neohome hadn't yet collected all the map pieces.
He slowly unfroze, setting his steady glare on Sloth. "So it was your potion. You gave him a transmogrification potion."
Swooping through the air like a deranged puppet, Sloth cackled with glee. "That's right, little Hissi- it made him all the stronger in battle!"
As much as Cipher wanted to just slap Sloth out of the sky, he knew he had to tread carefully. "What do you want, Sloth?"
Sloth stopped spinning, and turned serious. It was still raining, and the sight of Sloth's scary face through the curtains of heavy water sent a shiver down his spine. "I've come to the knowledge that a certain group of Lennies are planning the destruction of Kreludor, or better said, my Grundos."
Cipher cut him off. "They're not your Grundos. Kreludor is home to so many nice Grundos- not your mutant minions."
"Yes, yes, fine-" Sloth said impatiently. "That's not the point. The point is that I need Grundos, alive. What for..." he grinned sharply, "You don't need to know."
"Forget it. Whatever you're getting at, it can't be good." Cipher, blood pounding in his ears, tried to steer around Sloth.
Again, he found himself face to face.
"Let's make a deal, you fool." Sloth's face was dead set, all harsh lines and unforgiving brow. "Both of us want to take the Lennies down. Don't ask me how I know they have your Shoyru friend, but I know. Both of us have different reasons for wanting to take them down. My only request is- you listen to me, and I can guarantee that you little friend will make it out safely."
Cipher glared as hard as he could.
"I can do it by myself."
"You're more foolish than I thought if you think you can take down the entire Undercloud-"
"The place where the Lennies are staying in Faerieland. Similar to a citadel in Meridell... Don't get me off topic! I don't care what kind of protection you have in your scales, but you can't take down the entire order of Lennies, especially when they are all advanced in all kinds of magic. I, on the other hand, already have the perfect plan on how to take them down. Not to mention, I have nearly an endless supply of manpower. My minions, once properly trained, will put up a good fight.”
“Like they have a choice...” Cipher mumbled to himself, disheartened.
Now that Sloth pointed it out, it admittedly did seem a little difficult to storm in all by himself and demand that Skye be freed. But still, it was better than allying himself to Sloth, right?! But what if Sloth's plan would really work? Thinking it over, Cipher decided he would get all the details out of this "deal" first.
"Why me?" he asked, very curious. That was the one thing he didn’t understand. So many forces were actively seeking him out.
"Why does it have to be me? Why don't you get another one of your minions to do your awful bidding?" Like those poor minions... he thought sourly.
Sloth's face broke into a smirk. "I needed someone who was desperate to defeat them. With your invested interest in the outcome, you would try all the harder, do anything, to make a plan succeed. Furthermore- I need a Hissi- their scales have certain properties in them that allow them to enter the Undercloud without setting off their magical weakening spells. And lastly..." He looked over Cipher. "Who better work with me than the son of my old, dear, friend?" The last sentence was mocking and full of sniggers, but Cipher read the threat under it: his Pops’ safety went only as far as Cipher stayed on Sloth's good side. Things looked bleak indeed.
"Alright, Sloth," came the final, resigned reply. "I'll listen to your plan."
There was a toothy, evil grin that gave Cipher the creeps and the feeling he had just made a devil’s deal. "Most excellent."
For you, Skye.
To be continued...