|This tale has been told! It's done!|
|Start||August 24, 2017|
|End||September 5, 2017|
|Prerequisites||After several months of recuperating and reassembly, S.H.A.R.K. secretly initiates Project Shadow.|
|Rewards||Project Shadow is revealed.|
Following the events of a previous ordeal, The Venturous Three return home to recover. However, Project Shadow, a secret plot that threatens chaos across the entire continent is hatched and the three become part of a situation completely unforeseen and unprepared for. What will become of the trio this time?
Bernie892 waddled down the corridor of S.H.A.R.K.'s new headquarters. After countless failed missions, S.H.A.R.K. had decided to relocate their main base of operations now that the site of their former base was no longer a secret to the EPF. The new base, which was until then home to the S.H.A.R.K. Lieutenant Drone and a few of his own branch of S.H.A.R.K. agents, had become much more crowded and busier ever since becoming the primary command post for the entire organization. This new base was more advanced and developed and located safely away from prying eyes.
After taking a few more lefts and rights, Bernie approached an entrance at the far end of one of the bases' more isolated corridors. As soon as he got within a foot of the door, it automatically slid open. Bernie stepped inside to see a red penguin in a purple hoodie and black cap staring through the large window. The view outside seemed to consist of nothing but water.
The red penguin turned around to face Bernie.
Wikipenguino X: What is it, Bernie?
Bernie: Lieutenant Drone has completed the tasks you requested.
Wikipenguino X: Perfect...Time to execute the plan...
Bernie: Plan...? What plan?
Wikipenguino X: In time you will see.
Bernie: Is it against Tropicalis?
Wikipenguino X: No, of course not. I don't care about Tropicalis anymore and besides, we've been trying for years now without much luck. I've decided it's time to tend to other things, heh heh...For now, I'll need you to capture these penguins.
Wikipenguino X pulled a small, round metal object. It was projecting a hologram of several penguins out of its center.
Wikipenguino X: Find them. And make sure they return unharmed...if possible.
Bernie seemed delighted at the thought of a new mission where he was in charge.
Bernie: Excellent! Uh-I mean yes, sir.
Bernie took the hologram and waddled out of the room.
Chapter 1: Abducted
Wikipenguino45 hauled his wheeled luggage out of airport customs at Terminal 1 of the Club Penguin City Airport, observing and taking in the atmosphere which buzzed with excitement. The airport was in its usual busy state with penguins from all around the continent pouring in and out of their respective flight gates. It was a near-cloudless day outside, with only a few wispy clouds adorning the pale-blue sky. The afternoon sunlight gleamed through the airport's enormous window that overlooked the tarmac runway down below. Every so often, another airplane would taxi into view. The idea of traveling alone felt incredibly alien to Wikipenguino, since he was so used to be accompanied by at least one or more people, usually his faithful blue puffle, Terry Van Furry who had already taken a plane to Club Penguin a week before with Wikipenguino's adoptive sister, Wikipengal45.
Wikipenguino casually waddled across the hall to the airport's entrance. The sliding glass doors slid open automatically upon his approach as he wheeled his luggage towards the taxicab stand to wait in line. As soon as he got to the front of the queue, he slid into the taxi.
Driver: Where to, sir?
Wikipenguino: Club Penguin City Pier.
With that, the taxi raced off down the road headed downtown. Wikipenguino pulled his copy of Lord of the Onion Rings and flipped to a random chapter hoping to immerse himself in his favourite book for the rest of the taxi ride as vehicles, trees, structures and other objects zoomed past the window as they journeyed deeper into the city.
Some time later, Wikipenguino looked up from his book and took a glance outside the window. The buildings and scenery flashing by didn't seem familiar at all to the usual route he was used to taking to the city's pier. Before he could suspect anything else, the car started to come to a stop inside a forest.
Wikipenguino: Hey...This isn't the pier...
Driver: You're right. It's not.
Wikipenguino suddenly felt terror wash over him as the driver took the voice changer out of his mouth and ripped off his fake mask, revealing his true identity - Sam Rudi X, the villainous X-Antibody of Sam Rudi.
Wikipenguino could think of nothing else to do except wrench the door open and bolt out of the vehicle.
However, halfway into his escape attempt, a large, dark substance surrounded by 1s, 0s and two-dimensional green, blue, pink and white rectangles materialized in front of him, forcing him to a halt and causing him to stagger. The object stretched and widened itself out until it formed the shape of a penguin. Wikipenguino could see and recognize the penguin's details and features clearly now.
It was a dark green penguin with grey face paint, a grey hoodie and much like Wikipenguino, wore a Puffle Ball Cap but with a red rim. Parts of the penguin seemed to be constantly shifting and changing their colours as more coloured rectangles of all shapes and sizes appeared and disappeared constantly.
Indeed, it was Wikipenguino's evil, glitchy clone, Negative Wikipenguino.
Wikipenguino tried to turn back and go a different direction but was left no option but to remain where he was as he saw other penguins in dark, tactical gear surrounding him in a big circle. Each of the penguins were armed with deletion rifles. Wikipenguino almost instantly recognized the penguins as S.H.A.R.K. agents.
?????: Ah. Excellent work, Commander.
Wikipenguino whirled around the moment the voice spoke and saw a red penguin with a purple hoodie and black cap marked with a big red X. He grinned delightfully upon noticing the look of pure terror on Wikipenguino's face. It was his arch-nemesis and notorious X-Antibody, Wikipenguino X, the Supreme Leader of S.H.A.R.K.
Sam Rudi X: Thank you, sir.
Wikipenguino X: Suprised to see me, brethren? Heh, heh, heh.
Wikipenguino slowly raised his flippers in the air as two of the S.H.A.R.K. agents strode forwards and grabbed him.
Wikipenguino X: I have special plans for you. And for all of Antarctica, too.
Wikipenguino: W-what are you going to do to me!?
Wikipenguino X: Oh, you'll see soon enough. Besides, we wouldn't want to ruin the surprise, now would we?
Wikipenguino looked around for any means of escape or even a gap in the circle of penguins.
Wikipenguino X: Oh, and don't worry about your friends...
Negative waddled towards Wikipenguino. Wikipenguino noticed there was a metal band around one of his flippers. There were a few specs of blue light present on the band that were glowing faintly. Negative suddenly grabbed Wikipenguino's arm.
Wikipenguino quickly withdrew his flipper in pain before looking at Negative. The small lights on the metal band were now red and glowing more noticeably. Suddenly, Negative's entire body glowed bright red and started vibrating. Red bolts of electricity flashed around him while he continued to glow brighter. Wikipenguino raised a flipper to shield his eyes from the brightness. After a couple of seconds the red lights vanished and Wikipenguino found himself staring into what he first thought was a mirror.
Wikipenguino, however, noticed the same metal band on his mirror self's flipper which wasn't present on his own and now understood exactly what happened. Negative had transformed into an exact copy of his host, Wikipenguino. Negative hid the metal band under his now red hoodie sleeve.
Wikipenguino X: We'll take good care of your friends while you're away.
Wikipenguino X laughed manically as Negative inspected his new self with much interest, obviously ecstatic at the fact that he had finally stolen his host's identity, something he had been trying to achieve ever since he first discovered he was a clone.
Wikipenguino noticed a small gap between two of the group members and without thinking, took advantage of the distraction and forcefully broke free of the two penguins' grip and speedily barged through the opening, knocking the S.H.A.R.K. agents aside. He didn't know where he was headed for, all he knew was he had to get as far away as possible so that S.H.A.R.K. or Wikipenguino X wouldn't find him.
Wikipenguino X, who had already caught up with what was happening, raised his flipper. The agents, who had already readied their rifles as soon as Wikipenguino had slipped through, lowered them promptly.
Wikipenguino X: Oh, how rude. Negative, would you do the honours?
Negative, without saying a word, nodded and instantly warped in front of his fleeing host, blocking any means of escape.
Wikipenguino tried to stop as quickly as possible but ended up stumbling over. He then tried getting up and running a different direction, but it was already too late.
Negative, who's flippers were already charged and crackling with electricity, blasted out a powerful bolt of electricity, electrocuting Wikipenguino, causing him to yelp before collapsing over once more, disorientated, hurt and nauseous. Wikipenguino barely noticed the S.H.A.R.K. agents converging over him as he silently passed out.
Falco Hochstadt stood between the Everyday Phoning Facility and the Ski Lodge in the rather busy Ski Village which was crammed with a group of loud, chattering tourists. Beside Falco was Wikipengal45, who was admiring the soft reddish-orange glow of the sunset.
Wikipengal: How much longer do we have to wait?
Falco: Anytime now...
The tourists then started catching rides on the ski lift to the top of Ski Mountain. As the last one of them found a seat on the lift and started climbing to the top, Falco nodded to Wikipengal and they both pushed open the doors of the Everyday Phoning Facility.
The facility was rather quiet, except for the splashing of the flowing water from the ceiling behind the facility's logo on their left. Stacks and piles of paperwork, pale red telephones and numerous mugs of coffee were present on the facility's desks. The entire room was empty, except for a dark blue penguin at a desk in front of the flowing water.
Penguin: Welcome the Everyday Phoning Facility! How may I be of assistance-?
Falco immediately flashed him his EPF badge.
The penguin immediately stopped and nodded slowly.
As the two waddled behind the penguin's desk, the drawers behind it opened up into a staircase as the building's logo morphed into the logo of the Elite Penguin Force. The logo slid upwards, revealing an elevator. Falco and Wikipengal both climbed up the stairs and into the tube transport.
The door slid down and the two suddenly found themselves plummeting downwards at supersonic speeds before making contact with solid ground moments later. Falco waddled out perfectly fine while Wikipengal stumbled out dizzily before Falco helped her down the stairs. The Command Room wasn't as full as it normally was, with most of the agents hanging around System Defender or the PSA Missions simulator.
Wikipengal: Thanks...That Tube Transport almost always has me disorientated.
?????: It's most likely a genetic feature. Wikipenguino feels the exact same way every time.
They both looked down and saw a familiar blue puffle with round, grey glasses.
Falco: Good evening to you too, Terry.
Falco and Wikipengal seated themselves down at the table beside a dark-feathered penguin in a suit, tie, shades and fedora who was writing on a piece of paper.
Terry Van Furry: Speaking of which, Wikipenguino should have arrived about...
Terry searched the contents of his hammerspace and removed a device that looked very much like a stopwatch.
Terry: ...16 minutes 39 seconds and 82 milliseconds ago.
Falco: He'll arrive eventually. And hey, there he is!
Sure enough, a lime green penguin with a red hoodie, Puffle Ball Cap and blue face paint waddled out of the Tube Transport.
Wikipenguino: Hey, everyone! Sorry for being late, I got a little...lost.
Wikipenguino: The taxi driver in Club Penguin City took me to the wrong location instead of the pier which meant I had to take the next ferry to Club Penguin.
Falco: Nah, don't worry about it, it's fine. Anyways, now that you're here, who's hungry?
Wikipengal: Oh! Let's go to the Pizza Parlour!
Wikipenguino: Yeah, sounds like a sound plan to me.
The three of them started to get up, but none of them noticed Wikipenguino grin and his right flipper twitch slightly like a malfunctioning computer screen.
Wikipenguino awoke after what felt like an eternity on some sort of soft surface. An incredibly bright light source prevented him from getting a proper view of his surroundings leaving him no option but to squint and cover his eyes until his eyesight adjusted. As his surroundings became more clearer, he noticed that he was in fact on his bed in his bedroom back in Tropicapolis and the light source was actually the sun beaming through his window.
Wikipenguino got up and looked around the room inspecting everything. He opened his bedside drawer and looked for his key saber and ditto pistol but found nothing. After a few more minutes of inspecting, everything else appeared to be unusually normal. Except for the absence of his trusty weapons, that was. At that moment, he heard someone walking up the staircase.
?????: Penguino! Are you awake?
Wikipenguino froze. He hadn't heard that voice in over twenty years.
Suddenly, the door swung open making him jump.
Standing in the doorway was a lime green penguin with shoulder-length reddish-brown hair.
Sarah Lagois: Yes, dear?
All Wikipenguino could think of doing was waddling up to her and pulling her into a hug. Sarah chuckled.
Sarah: What's the matter?
Wikipenguino: B-but how is this possible? I-I thought you were gone...Wait, I remember now! I was captured by S.H.A.R.K.! And then Negative transformed into me and then...and then...
Sarah looked confused.
Sarah: You must have had a bad dream. You'd better hurry, otherwise, you'll miss your inauguration.
Sarah: Well how else will you become the president of Tropicalis?
Sarah: Do hurry, though.
With that, she walked back down the stairs.
Wikipenguino was incredibly confused. Last he remembered, his mother had been killed by Darktan I. And how on earth did he return to Tropicapolis? Was it really all just a dream? Wikipenguino still remained incredibly suspicious as he changed into more fitting clothes for his supposed inauguration.
Wikipenguino slowly waddled along the carpet of The Palace, Tropicapolis' government building and the presidential office. The cheering was louder and louder with every footstep towards the balcony. Still, everything seemed incredibly off...
Eventually, Wikipenguino stepped out onto the balcony of The Palace and the crowd cheered what seemed to be a hundred times louder and stronger to Wikipenguino's ears. Sarah and Penguino Lagois IV, Wikipenguino's father, were beaming at him from the front seats. When the cheer eventually died down, an official spoke.
Official: Do you, Penguino Walter Lagois V solemnly swear to protect and preserve Tropicalis to the best of your ability?
Wikipenguino thought for a moment.
The crowd exploded into gasps and shock. Sarah and Penguino IV looked incredibly appalled.
Wikipenguino: None of this is real...My mother's been gone for over twenty years now...I'm certain that the last thing I remember was that I was captured by S.H.A.R.K...and I'm not supposed to be president, either...This isn't real at all...
Silence. Wikipenguino looked around at the crowd. Nobody moved. Everything seemed to be frozen in time. Literally. The Tropicalian flag flapping around in the air above them remained completely still.
Wikipenguino: What in burnt waffles...?
?????: Bravo, bravo...
Wikipenguino whirled around. On the edge of the balcony was a red puffle with black glasses and a faint X marked above his eyes.
The floor had without warning, caved in below Wikipenguino, causing him to fall into the endless abyss below him. After a couple seconds of pointless, uncontrollable yelling and freely plummeting towards whatever was below him, he noticed what seemed to be solid ground. Just as he thought he was going to become a penguin pancake, his falling speed slowed down rapidly and he came and he landed on his stomach lightly and unscathed.
Wikipenguino: What..what was that!?
?????: I must say...
Wikipenguino leapt up whirled around once again, this time with his flippers ready to retaliate against anything that threatened him. His eyes once again found the exact same puffle in front of him.
Puffle: You were rather quick to notice. While others chose to accept the paradise created for them without another word, you rejected it as soon as you got there...impressive.
Wikipenguino looked around. Everywhere else seemed to be infinite blackness, nothing was visible except for himself and the puffle in front of him. The hole he had fallen through had vanished, too. He looked back at the puffle and rested his eyes on the scar in the shape of an X above the puffle's eyes. He suddenly understood.
Wikipenguino: You're an X-Antibody...
Puffle: Allow me to introduce myself. I am Dr. Xerry Van Xurry. Leading scientist of S.H.A.R.K., Left-flippered man to Wikipenguino X and Supervisor of the Otherverse.
Wikipenguino: Wait...are you-?
Xerry Van Xurry: The antibody of Terry Van Furry, yes.
Strange. Wikipenguino never remembered Terry catching the X-Virus at all...
Wikipenguino: What is this Otherverse? What is this place?
Xerry: Ah, yes. The Otherverse. Allow me to show you...
Xerry pulled something that looked like a remote out of his hammerspace. All of a sudden, the world around them melted into a whirlwind of colours before coming to a standstill.
Now, they were standing on a dusty stone floor outside a dark metal structure with a large base and a tall tower-like building protruding out of the center. Wikipenguino looked up and saw a clear, pumpkin orange sky. It appeared to be daytime, however, the sun was nowhere to be seen.
Wikipenguino: This place just keeps getting weirder...
Xerry: The Otherverse is a shared dream reality. A network of inter-connected minds created digitally and accessed through the use of simulators.
Wikipenguino: So this is basically some kind of dream reality created through the use of computers?
Xerry: Basically, yes.
Upon hearing these words, Wikipenguino started looking for possible ways to escape. If he died, did that mean he could exit the dream-?
Xerry: Hey now, I know that look, don't start getting any ideas. Did I mention if you die in here, you die out there? Can't have any escapees now, can we?
Wikipenguino sighed quietly.
Xerry: Follow me, I'll show you inside. Come along, now.
Before Wikipenguino could act, Xerry pointed the remote at him. Wikipenguino looked around then back at Xerry.
At first, nothing seemed to have happened. But suddenly, without his consent and without intending to, he started waddling.
Wikipenguino tried to resist but to no avail. His feet were still moving one after the other. As soon as they got to the base of the metal building in front of them, an aqua-blue rectangle appeared on the structure's wall. The chunk of wall within the rectangle slid smoothly backwards before sliding once again but to the right, revealing a passageway inside the structure. Xerry shuffled forwards as Wikipenguino was forced to follow suit. The wall slid back into place behind them.
The interior of the building seemed to be much larger than the outside. Most of the inside seemed to be made of the same material as the exterior. The same smooth, dark metal comprised the walls and ceiling while the floor was made of dark green marble. Towering glass windows on the left side of the corridor stretched from the ground to the ceiling. A black banner hung from the ceiling with a pair of crossed red swords present in the center of the banner - the symbol of S.H.A.R.K. A few penguins were present, all wearing black security uniforms complete with caps and the same logo on the banner on their chest pockets.
Xerry: In the Otherverse, you don't have to eat, drink or sleep. You, as of arriving here should have been put into temporary stasis for the time being meaning you won't need anything. The Otherverse is controlled and monitored by a supervisor; which in this case is me.
Wikipenguino: Is there any way to leave the Otherverse?
Xerry: Only the person who owns the Administrator Gauntlet and those he allows.
Just then, Xerry pointed the remote at Wikipenguino and the invisible force that seemed to be controlling his movements loosened it's grip. Wikipenguino looked around and noticed his outfit had now changed into an orange jumpsuit.
Xerry: For now, you'll be staying in here.
Xerry had led Wikipenguino to a door which slid open automatically.
Wikipenguino: Wait, what's going to happen to me now?
Xerry let out a short, maniacal cackle as two guards came forwards and escorted Wikipenguino inside the room.
It was now midnight on the island of Club Penguin. The sky was clear and the tiny white specs that were stars dotted the ocean of darkness above. Terry Van Furry was sound asleep in his puffle bed just like his owner seemed to be. Just as Terry tossed and turned over in his sleep, his owner's eyes flew open. He quickly and soundlessly opened the door and silently crept into the office room before pulling out a holographic projector from his pocket. A red light on the projector was flashing every second and a half until he pressed it.
The hologram of a red penguin in a purple hoodie and black cap suddenly appeared over the projector while at the same time, illuminating the office room and Wikipenguino's face in a bright blue.
Wikipenguino X: Status report?
Wikipenguino: Successfully infiltrated, sir.
Wikipenguino X grinned.
Wikipenguino X: Excellent work, Negative.
The penguin who appeared to be Wikipenguino was suddenly engulfed in multi-coloured rectangles for a brief moment upon the mention of his true name.
Negative: So far, it doesn't look as if they've suspected a thing.
Wikipenguino X: Continue investigating and observing. We need as much data from the EPF as we can get. Be sure to capture one of Wikipenguino's friends, the ninja if you can. I want him too. I believe we have two allies - both of which you've already met - stationed in Club Penguin. They'll help with the next phase of the plan.
With that, the transmission cut and Negative shoved the projector back into his pocket.
It was time to execute the next phase of the plan.
Terry, Falco and Wikipenguino were hurtling through the Tube Transport system the next morning, on their way to the Command Room. They all came to a sudden stop before lightly touching the metal floor under them once they reached the end. The green-tinted glass door slid open, allowing them to hop and waddle out.
The same black-feathered penguin in a suit, tie, fedora and shades from before was standing at the entrance of the Tube with his flippers behind his back, clearly expecting them.
Falco: Hey, Tux. How's it going?
Tux: Good morning, Agent Falco. I'm doing all right for the moment.
Wikipenguino: Sooooo, what's happening this time?
Tux: Allow me to enlighten you three.
Tux waddled towards the table and tossed a small object onto it. It skidded across the table until it reached the center before beaming out a hologram of two penguins.
Tux: They're happening this time. Two Power4U Super Penguins. According to previously documented files, these two showed up about a month ago. Special Intelligence has been keeping a close watch on them ever since they were caught red-flippered on surveillance cameras. They haven't showed up until recently. They've been going under the names of "Malice" and "Tophat".
Tux: There are squads of agents around the island and currently on the lookout as we speak. One of our teams at Ski Hill have reported traces of an abnormal type of energy particles. We believe Malice's powers share the exact same particles. So we need you three to help investigate, and if you're lucky, apprehend the two criminals.
Tux: Great. Good luck.
All three of them nodded before pulling out their spyphones and teleporting to the snowy summit of Ski Hill.
After a couple of seconds of floating around weightlessly in a seemingly never-ending blue void, the three reappeared at their desired location.
Orange tape surrounded the entire top of the mountain, blocking all entry to the top of Ski Hill. The Ski Lift was inactive with the only movement coming from the seats gently swaying back and forth in the wind with a slight creaking sound.
The three turned to their left and saw three penguins in dark suits, shades, ties and black earpieces and recognized them as Special Intelligence agents. One of them noticed the trio and stepped forwards.
SI Agent 1: Excuse me sir, you're not allowed in this-
Falco whipped out his EPF badge and showed it to them. The agent who spoke nodded and took a step back.
As the two looked around, they spotted a few other penguins in standard EPF attire were also present, all of whom seemed to be busy. One of the penguins, who was typing something on his Tech-Book 3000, looked up from his work, saw them and approached them.
Penguin: Ah, more agents! Excellent. Many flippers make lighter the work.
He was a purple-feathered penguin, wearing an Optic Headset, Tech Coat and Tech Satchel.
Penguin: I'm Agent Reuben Stewart of the Weaponry Development Division. You three are...?
Wikipenguino: Agent Wikipenguino, this is Agent Falco Hochstadt and this is Agent Terry Van Furry.
Reuben shook flippers with Wikipenguino and Falco, but withdrew his flipper noticeably faster when he shook Wikipenguino's as if given an electric shock.
Reuben: Tux sent you three I presume?
Falco: Indeed. He said you guys found energy you think might belong to one of them criminals?
Reuben: Yes. Some of our team's agents picked it up this morning over there.
Reuben pointed at the sign labelled "Bunnyhill".
Reuben: We had to evacuate all civilians out of Ski Hill and close down the place in case any of them were present and so we could conduct our investigations. The civilians have been told it's because of a dangerous accident that they cannot enter. Baron-Volt Industries was kind enough to disable non-EPF teleportation devices such as Maps in this area for the time being. Anyway, I suppose you could check the Bunnyhill route.
Wikipenguino: Got it. We'll start there first.
The trio began to tread carefully down the slope until they reached another small group of agents, all of whom where holding their spy phones and looking around at the floor. The three however, noticed a familiar green penguin inside the group of agents.
The green penguin wheeled around and after noticing them grinned widely. It was Wikipenguino's mischievous cousin, Cheddarbox. Cheddar was a lime green penguin with rather untidy brown hair, blue face paint and a red shirt.
Cheddarbox: Wikipenguino! Falco! Terry!
Cheddar high-fived Falco.
Cheddar: Boy, it sure is good to see you three again, heh. I was hoping to surprise everyone but then this happened and I thought why not help out?
Wikipenguino: Good to see you too, Cheddar. Has your team found anything?
Cheddar: Yep, as a matter of fact, we have. We've just found some sort of trail made of those strange energy particle thingies. We thought it was a dead end, but the trail still stops and continues every now and then and it seems to be leading us to the forest. Apparently the particles are visible to that Spy Trakcer gadget on our spy phones so we've been using that to locate the rest of the trail.
Terry took out his spy phone and activated the tracker function. A green ring appeared around him and he started shuffling around, trying to track the rest of the trail. Wikipenguino and Falco did the exact same.
After about 20 minutes of searching, Falco had followed the trail deeper into the forest, brushing against branches, leaves and bushes until the trail lead him into a clearing with a single tree stump in the middle.
Falco: Huh. Must be a dead end...
Just then, he heard something rustle quietly in the bushes.
Falco readied his flippers and stepped cautiously towards the source of the noise. He carefully pulled apart the bushes blocking his way and peered slowly into the gap. Nothing there.
Falco turned back equally as cautious before walking at normal pace back to the center of the clearing, thinking it must have been a puffle or some other animal.
Falco reacted instantly; his flippers suddenly became ablaze and he blasted two fireballs in the direction of the noise.
Both fireballs exploded unspectacularly into smoke. Falco heard a sinister laugh following the explosion and after the smoke cleared, saw the canopy of a black umbrella where the fireballs had exploded. The penguin holding it lifted it aside, revealing himself.
It was a black-feathered penguin with a suit and tie, monocle and black moustache. On his head was a shiny black top hat.
Penguin: You are a fast one, I must say.
Falco: I take it you're Tophat?
Tophat: And you're going to be dead soon, ninja.
Tophat pointed one of his flippers at Falco.
Falco felt a powerful gust of howling wind slam into him, sending him flying into the trunk of a tree. Tophat did a similar movement with his flippers. Another loud rushing noise was heard and the tree Falco had collided with started to topple over him. Thanks to his ninja reflexes, Falco quickly evaded the tree as it hit the ground with a loud crunch. Tophat grinned and continued to throw jets of air at Falco who continuously dodged and avoided his attacks.
Tophat: Ugh. That's it.
Tophat raised his flippers. Falco was suddenly lifted into the air and remained floating uncontrollably in mid-air.
Falco: What the...?
Tophat opened his umbrella and suddenly rose into the air, as well.
Falco attempted to throw another ball of fire at Tophat, who raised one of his flippers. The fireball suddenly boomeranged back to Falco before plummeting down to the ground at the last second, landing harmlessly in the snow before evaporating into smoke.
Tophat: Time to have some REAL fun!
Falco began to spin, faster and faster as Tophat laughed until his entire world was nothing but a blur of colours. Just when he thought he would faint from his dizziness, the spinning stopped and Falco put his flippers to his head to try and reorientate himself.
Tophat: He's all yours.
Falco, who was still to nauseous to register what Tophat had said, felt something tighten around his neck, causing him to choke and gasp for air. He quickly glanced around to try and find the cause of this and noticed his entire body was glowing bright red. He managed to twist around through the air and saw a maroon-feathered penguin donning a black cloak floating in the air beside him. He could only assume this was Malice. One of his flippers were pointed at Falco.
Just when he thought he was going to suffocate, he saw blurs of white and purple streak past. One of the white blurs hit Malice square in the face. Malice let out a small, muffled yelp of pain and Falco felt the grip around his windpipe slacken.
?????: Over there!
He twisted around again to see Cheddar, Wikipenguino, Terry and some agents, all of whom - except for Cheddar - were armed with weapons. They continued to shoot and fire at Malice, who had descended slightly to try and avoid them and Tophat, who seemed to not be able to make up his mind between torturing Falco or attacking or evading the agents.
The choice however, was made for him as a snowball hit his side. The wind keeping Falco floating in the air suddenly disappeared and Falco dropped to the surface. With still some sense of direction left, he grabbed onto and slid down a tree before rolling onto the ground.
Wikipenguino: Falco! Are you alright!?
Falco: I'll be...fine...just a little lightheaded...for now...
Tophat was having difficulty evading the gunfire and keeping himself in the air. Still frustrated, he then pointed his umbrella at the agents. The tip of the umbrella suddenly zoomed out speedily in the direction of the agents, leaving behind a trail of smoke like a missile.
Wikipenguino: Alright, just stay here. We'll-
Falco, Wikipenguino and the rest of the agents moved out of the way as the umbrella tip missile struck the ground, exploding and scorching anything within its range.
Tophat glanced at Falco and looked like he was going to raise his flipper and continue where they left off until more streaks of purple and white from the deletion and snowball guns charged towards him, causing Tophat to scowl and glide with his umbrella away from the agents. The agents, who were about pursue the two criminals were stopped by Wikipenguino, who raised a flipper.
Wikipenguino: It's okay guys, we'll handle it. C'mon, Cheddar.
Cheddar: Right behind ya.
Agent: You sure you don't need help?
Wikipenguino: Don't worry, we'll be fine!
Chapter 2: Enter the Otherverse
Falco was in the Command Room, having returned from the medical area to receive treatment. He still had a throbbing headache from his encounter with Tophat.
Wikipenguino suddenly zipped out of the Tube Transport.
Wikipenguino: Hey, Falco. Everything alright over there?
Falco: Other than a few bruises and a bad headache, I'm still okay. Did you guys capture them?
Wikipenguino: No. Apparently Tophat has quite a lot of tricks up his sleeve.
Falco: Oh. You should've let me have him! I would've given him a real piece of my mind if I'd gotten my flippers on him...
Wikipenguino: That probably would've worsened your condition.
Falco: Well yeah, but it wouldn't matter because we could've captured them. And hey, where did Cheddar go?
Wikipenguino: He went to the medical area. That guy, Malice was really something.
Falco: Aw, poor guy...Well, Terry's by the System Defender chatting with Gary. Probably talking about physics or something.
Wikipenguino: Good to know you're both here. I'll be right back, I'm gonna go check on Cheddar.
Falco: Alright. See ya later!
Wikipenguino waved goodbye as the Tube Transport door slammed shut as he became a blur, zooming off into the network of green glass tubes.
Cheddar awoke aching all over and squinting from a blinding light. As he became more and more aware of his surroundings, he noticed that something was restraining him from moving his flippers and feet. He looked at first his flippers then feet and saw that they were bound in chains to a metal chair. He tried to look around to find some way or something to escape, but all his surroundings seemed to comprise of was a never-ending darkness and the blinding light and only light source above him which was beaming down upon him just like a spotlight. An eerie silence accompanied him as he adjusted to this new environment.
He looked up and tried to see what was in the light or where it could be coming from, hoping it might lead to a hole to the outside world.
?????: I see you've awoken. And you're not gonna escape, don't bother trying.
The voice suddenly interrupted the silence, echoing around Cheddar, almost making him jump. However, the voice sounded incredibly familiar.
Cheddar: What the..? Hey! What's going on here? Alright, look pal, if it's about my water bucket trap-
?????: You're not here to talk about your foolish shenanigans.
The penguin waddled forwards and his lime green feathers, Puffle Ball Cap, blue face paint and red hoodie were visible.
Cheddar: W-Wikipenguino!? What's going on-?
Wikipenguino: Not Wikipenguino.
Wikipenguino rolled up his sleeve, revealing a metal bracelet-like object. He pressed it lightly. Suddenly, he was engulfed with two-dimensional multicoloured shapes and 1s and 0s, transforming him completely.
Now, he was a dark green penguin with a grey hoodie, grey face paint and a Puffle Ball Cap which instead had a red brim. The same two-dimensional shapes appeared and disappeared every fraction of a second around him.
For a few moments, Cheddar just stared at him. Suddenly, he erupted into laughter, making his chair creak slightly.
Cheddar: Boy, you really got me this time, Wikipenguino. I never knew you were interested in the pranking business! For a moment I actually thought you were Negative...What kind of tech did Uncle Charles lend you...?
Negative could only make a bad-tempered expression and clench his flippers into fists.
Negative: S.H.A.R.K. will be here any moment to take you.
There was clear irritation in his tone.
Negative: They have special plans for you as I'm told. You'll be transported-
Cheddar laughed again.
Cheddar: Hah hah hah, S.H.A.R.K., that's hilarious...Now-
Negative: Stop interrupting. As I was saying, S.H.A.R.K. has some special use for you. After you're transported to their base-
Cheddar: Alright, alright, you can stop your Negative Wikipenguino impression now. Listen, I kinda wanna be doing something else right now so uh, would you mind unlocking me from this chair? But man, your acting skills are pretty good-
Lightning sprouted from his flippers, electrocuting Cheddar, making him scream in agony.
Negative, now out of breath stopped torturing Cheddar, who was recovering from the sudden attack and twitching slightly.
The penguin who had spoke waddled closer until the spotlight properly revealed his identity. An irate Wikipenguino X glared at Negative.
Wikipenguino X: WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING!? I said to keep him ALIVE! I never said to intentionally and deliberately hurt him!
Negative: Sorry, sir. I...lost control...
Wikipenguino X: Don't let this happen again. Take the pirsoner away.
Four armour-clad S.H.A.R.K. soldiers marched past an upset Negative who was muttering to himself about something and to the chair where the now unconscious Cheddarbox was seated in. They removed the chains to his flippers and feet before carrying him off in a different direction.
?????: Get up.
Wikipenguino awoke in the same orange jumpsuit on a hard, dusty rock floor. He looked up and saw the same clear, sunless pumpkin-orange sky before taking a quick look at everything else around him. He seemed to be boxed inside a large courtyard with towering walls made of the same metal. Ahead of him was a large laser gate flanked by two guards.
Wikipenguino then turned in the direction of the voice and saw one of the S.H.A.R.K. officers glaring back at him. Two S.H.A.R.K. soldiers stood beside him armed with rifles.
Officer: Get moving. You're wasting time.
Wikipenguino: Mind explaining where we're going? Or where this is?
Officer: None of your business. Now, come on.
The officer waddled ahead of him. One of the soldiers shoved Wikipenguino forwards with the muzzle of his rifle.
The four of them waddled across the vast courtyard with the same soldier nudging Wikipenguino forwards whenever he felt like it. They reached the laser gate, and once the officer waddled within a few inches of it, the lasers vanished, allowing them entry. The soldier nudged extra hard, making Wikipenguino staggering forwards slightly.
The inside was no different from the courtyard, except for having another building embedded into the wall in front of them and corridors down to the left and right. There was no roof above them or the other corridors, making Wikipenguino wonder if they were in some sort of maze. There were at least 20 armed soldiers spread out around the place. Other penguins in orange jumpsuits were also present, a few of who seemed familiar to Wikipenguino. Before he could identify them, the penguin with the rifle shoved him forwards yet again, forcing him to continue following the officer now into the corridor on the left.
As they waddled down the roofless corridor, Wikipenguino heard a voice he recognized from a certain mission all those months ago.
?????: How dare you do this-GET YOUR FLIPPERS OFF OF ME! Do you even know who I am!?!? Oh, when I get out of here, you and your boss will pay dearly for treating me like this-
Soldier: Shut it!
Wikipenguino looked ahead and saw a black-feathered penguin with equally dark hair and a moustache.
The penguin continued to squirm and wriggle himself free of the guards' grip while repeatedly threatening them as he was dragged off in the opposite direction.
Wikipenguino: Businessmun-? OUCH! Stop it!
The soldier behind Wikipenguino had jabbed him yet again and was now cackling, well aware there was barely anything Wikipenguino do about it.
Eventually, the officer led them down a narrower corridor. This one had rows of iron bars and doors on the sides. Stairways leading upwards were present on both sides of the walls. Another officer stood in the middle of the corridor, holding some sort of flat, pad-like digital device and scribbling something on it with a stylus. He looked up from his work and saw the four of them.
Officer 2: Officer Ross?
The officer leading them, who Wikipenguino presumed was Ross, turned to the two soldiers.
Ross: Take him to the waiting area. I'll assign him a cell when I return. Don't let him escape.
Ross and the other officer moved back down the way they originally came in, talking about something Wikipenguino could not hear. The two soldiers escorted Wikipenguino up the stairs. At the top of the stairway was another room.
The other soldier pushed the door open, revealing it's rather dull and almost empty interior: a small, dark room with a single smooth, steel bench that ran along the wall. A single LED light embedded into the ceiling was their only source of light. Wikipenguino seated himself down.
The room was suddenly engulfed in silence as one of the soldiers closed the door.
Wikipenguino was feeling pretty hopeless with no possible way to escape. Sure, he'd been captured and imprisoned several times, but there didn't seem to be anything he could do. Sure, he could attack the guards and with luck, outsmart them and try to escape, but even if he did, where would he go? Xerry would probably return and due to his position as Supervisor, most likely have him returned anyway, if not worse. He recalled Xerry talking about how it was merely a simulation. Maybe he could break free by waking up somehow-
The soldier who had poked and shoved Wikipenguino with his rifle all those times dropped unconscious to the floor. Wikipenguino, speechless, slowly turned his gaze from the blacked out soldier on the floor to the penguin responsible for knocking him out cold.
It was the soldier who had remained silent the whole time Wikipenguino was guided into the whatever prison he was now in. He quickly pulled his mask off.
Soldier: What an idiot.
Wikipenguino's jaw dropped.
Wikipeng4500: In the flesh.
4500 rolled the unconscious soldier onto his side with his foot and an expression of pure disgust on his face.
Standing before him was his once evil clone, Wikipeng45000. He was the only one of Wikipenguino's clones who was perfectly identical in appearance with lime green feathers and the exact same features as Wikipenguino.
Wikipenguino: Boy, am I glad to see you! I don't know what to say...It's been such a long time...
4500: Oh, I'm sure it has been.
Wikipenguino: So uh, any idea what's going on in this place or how to get out? And hey, where've you been all this time?
4500: Here. That's why I wasn't able to keep in contact with any of you for who knows how long now. I've learned an hour in here can vary from being equivalent to an hour in reality to two days or more. As for what's going on and how to get out, I'll get to that.
Wikipenguino: Crud. So S.H.A.R.K. captured you too, huh?
4500: Right. I was planning to stay in Buhu Isle for a while, maybe live there for some time. But of course S.H.A.R.K. had to interfere. I was captured around a week or so after my arrival. About a few months into my stay here, I managed to break out, and they haven't stopped looking for me since. The search has died down now though, I've heard rumours circulating around the guards and prisoners that they think I'm dead. I've basically been hiding around this place for quite some time now.
Wikipenguino: Couldn't they just have had you teleported back or something or control your position in the servers? Or have you killed?
4500: Wikipenguino X would never have us killed unless it's really necessary. The only way to teleport anyone around this place is by using the Administrator Gauntlet, which of course belongs to Wikipenguino X. He's basically left this place to rot seeing as he hasn't been here in quite some time now. Plus, you could imagine how angry he would get if they told him I escaped, which is why I presumed they haven't. I suppose they figured as long as I'm in here, there's no way I'm gonna be able to escape. This place is swarming with S.H.A.R.K. agents anyway. How did you get into this deathtrap?
Wikipenguino: Well apparently, Wikipenguino X thought it'd be a good idea to disguise one of his agents as a taxi driver to trick me and make sure I get into it and deliver straight to him and uh, yeah, that's what he did.
4500: I heard talk amongst the guards a few hours ago that you'd been thrown in this place and would be arriving at the prison complex soon, so I decided to come and meet you and sure enough, they you were and here we are now. Apparently new prisoners are a big deal here since we don't get much of them. Especially you, since you're one of S.H.A.R.K.'s prime targets. Anyways, the topic of the Otherverse. I take it you've heard what the Supervisor and Administrator positions are?
Wikipenguino: Yeah. That red fur ball explained it all to me. Apart from that and the fact we're all inside a simulation of some kind, that's just about all I know.
4500: Alright, so I've been gathering as much information as I can so one day I might make my escape, so here's what I've learned so far: Every person in the Otherverse, aside from the S.H.A.R.K. members themselves, was captured and are currently have some simulation device jammed over our heads, accessing our minds. The Administrator Gauntlet is our only ticket out of here, unless S.H.A.R.K. unplugs your simulation headset in the real world and you manage to wake up. Every person that gets here is put in some sort of dream utopia where nothing can go wrong. The few of us who knew better than to trust something like that got thrown in this jail. You might see a few familiar faces here since S.H.A.R.K.'s been secretly capturing as many enemies as they can.
Wikipenguino: Yeah, I saw Businessmun in the other corridor.
4500: The Otherverse is comprised of many layers. The Administrator Gauntlet is hidden in it's own special chamber at the lowest layer. In order to get there, you're going to have to navigate your way through the whole network to get there.
Wikipenguino: Fantabulous. Just what we need.
The unconscious S.H.A.R.K. soldier shifted slightly.
4500: I'll explain more on the way as we go. Now, we have to move. Fortunately, I have a few items the guards were so kind as to let me take.
Wikipenguino: Wait, we're escaping now-?
4500: Yes, come on now, let's go! Take this.
He handed Wikipenguino a pistol.
Wikipenguino: Alright, let's do this. Time for some real action.
Wikipenguino and 4500 were racing off down another corridor. The clear sky was now a deep red. Sirens wailed in the background while voices yelled and cried out around them. The prison had erupted into a riot with prisoners fighting either guards, other prisoners or looking for a way to escape the ongoing chaos.
A guard jogged out of a corridor ahead of them, panting and stopped to rest. Wikipenguino aimed his pistol at the guard and pulled the trigger. A flash of bright blue ejected out of the pistol's muzzle. The guard turned around to look at them both before opening his mouth, most likely to cry "oh no" just milliseconds before the blast hit him square in the chest, electrocuting him and knocking him off his feet.
Wikipenguino: Hmm...not bad. I kinda like this one.
The two of them continued to duck and dodge bullets, officers, soldiers and other prisoners locked in combat, round corners and dart down corridors.
4500: This way! We're almost out of here.
They made a right turn and found themselves blocked by a purple laser wall, four soldiers and Officer Ross, who looked furious. As soon as he heard their footsteps, he wheeled around and brandished a short and thin metal pole at them.
Ross: HEY! STOP THERE!
He pressed a small button on the metal object. The red blade of a key saber ejected out with a loud buzz.
Wikipenguino: Uh oh. You're sure we went the right way-?
4500: Stand back.
4500, who had a large metal rifle strapped to his back, pulled it off his neck and pointed it at them.
Ross: PUT IT DOWN! I'M WARNING YOU-
Soldier: GET DOWN!
The laser shield suddenly burst into sparks and blue light, as did anything too close to it. Two of the soldiers were on their backs, stirring feebly.
4500: Come on! Let's finally get out of this wretched place.
Wikipenguino sprinted after 4500 down the labyrinth of tall metal walls and sharp turns. A dozen turns later, they stopped so they could catch their breath and make sure they were headed the right way.
Wikipenguino: Okay...I think we're safe enough away from them...
4500: We won't be for long unless we keep moving. It won't be long before they come tracking us down.
4500 pulled out a hologram.
4500: We're going the right way. We should be seeing some sort of portal-rift opening not too far ahead of us. The Otherverse isn't perfect, meaning there are certain "cracks" in the many layers. Basically errors that they haven't corrected, at least not yet. They basically serve as gateways between the many layers. There's a rift in the Gauntlet chamber, but there aren't any direct links from this layer to the chamber, meaning we're gonna have to do our best to navigate through the place.
Wikipenguino: Oh, pancakes...
Suddenly, they heard yelling in the distance.
Wikipenguino: Oh, double pancakes. We've gotta run.
4500: Hurry, this way!
They quickly ducked into a corridor.
Wikipenguino: Crumbs! Dead end!
4500: Or so it seems...
He waddled to the end of the corridor. He then waved one of his flippers around and Wikipenguino could then see his flipper being distorted slightly as if 4500 was trapped in a broken mirror and could now notice the "crack in the reality".
4500: Hurry! Get in here!
Without another word, 4500 waddled backwards and disappeared in a small, faint flash of white.
Wikipenguino took a deep breath before continuing.
Wikipenguino: Here goes...
As the yelling and footsteps in the distance continued to grow louder, Wikipenguino dived headfirst into the rift and was engulfed by a blinding white light.
Falco waddled into the Command Room before observing the mess before them. There were stacks of overflowing paper all over the table in the center of the room. Coffee cups filled with varying amounts of coffee were also jammed beside the stacks of paper. One of the coffee cups were filled with a red liquid Falco thought was Hot Sauce, especially due to the fact that it was smoking slightly. Around 10 or more agents were standing around the Spy Drills and System Defender consoles, typing away hastily.
Falco hadn't seen the place this busy since Operation Improbable.
Falco: What in blazes?
One of the agents who was dressed in a suit, tie, shades and fedora was ordering some penguins around, waving his flippers around to direct them to their designated areas or assigned missions.
Agent: -And hurry up, we don't have all day, especially today of all days. We need this resolved as soon as we possible can. Van Peng, see if you can get some agents to scout out the area.
The agent whirled around.
Tux: Apologies, Agent Falco and Agent Van Furry, I'm afraid there's been quite a few issues this early morning.
Falco: What's been going on?
Tux: The servers suffered a major database hacking. We've been working around the clock to try and get the situation under control. There's been difficulty with the servers and rooms, with penguins being transported to places they weren't supposed to be taken to, mysteriously switching servers and a bunch of other issues.
Falco: Any luck since?
Tux: Not much, unfortunately. Hopefully we can get this under control soon. For now, I have matters to attend to. STEWART! Over here please!
Reuben, the agent who Falco, Wikipenguino and Terry had met on their encounter with Tophat and Malice, frantically rushed over from his spot on the floor, carrying his Tech Book 3000 with him, which had a map of the island and several pulsing red dots on it.
Falco waddled over to Terry and Wikipenguino. Wikipenguino was seated at the table, typing something on his laptop while Terry was on the table, peering over his shoulder to see the screen.
Falco: Hey there, Wikipenguino. How's everything been?
Wikipenguino: Hello, you two. Well, er...busy...as I'm sure you've heard. But that's not all. We have another problem with Tophat and Malice.
Falco: Oh, boy. What is it this time?
Wikipenguino: They've been spotted near the Dojo, close to the skate park. Some Special Intelligence agents overheard rumours of "a strange penguin in a hat and moustache hovering above the dojo with an umbrella" and "a rather bad tempered maroon-feathered penguin" wandering around. We've both been assigned to capture them by tonight. Terry will be staying here to help the other agents. Also make sure to keep the noise down. We can't let Tophat and Malice know we're there. Plus, it'd give them a nice little surprise.
Falco: Let's just hope this turns out better than last time.
Wikipenguino: Yeah, I hope so. If it doesn't, I'll be a slab of smoked salmon.
Falco treaded into the forests of Club Penguin, leaves and twigs crunching and snapping softly under his feet. It was a cool night with a gentle breeze blowing and a few fluffy clouds lingering in the star-filled sky. A full moon glowed in the sky, making the snow sparkle under it's light.
Falco had his EPF spy phone out, waving it around, trying to look for the exact location Wikipenguino told him to go to.
Falco: Right about...here!
Falco pulled apart some bushes and waddled up a hill before coming to a stop.
Falco: Hey...where is everyone...?
Falco looked back at his spy phone and tapped the back button to return to the home screen. No response. Then, he was hit with a dialog box.
Before Falco could do anything else, the screen started glitching. Falco started punching the off button, but that didn't work. The phone suddenly glitched to the point where the screen froze and died. Falco was certain he'd seen the face of a penguin for a fraction of a second before it suddenly vanished. He looked up from his spy phone and quickly glanced around.
The vicinity was oddly quiet. Too quiet.
He suddenly hears the crackle of electricity and swiftly ducks out of the way.
Falco: Who's there!?
Another streak of bright, blue-white lightning sped past him, narrowly missing him. Falco set his flippers on fire.
A penguin waddled peacefully out of a nearby bush, prompting Falco to ready his flippers to fire in case of another attack.
Falco: Wikipenguino!? Where were you!? And where's everyone else? I was just attacked by-Uh, Wikipenguino?
Wikipenguino, however didn't look like his regular, friendly self and instead had an emotionless expression on his face.
Falco: You okay? You're creeping me out, here...
Wikipenguino's clenched his flippers into fists. They instantly lit up and started crackling with electricity. Patches of blue, pink, green, red and yellow suddenly flashed around them. The truth suddenly dawned on Falco. It all made sense now. The glitching phone, the penguin he saw moments before the screen blacked out and the glitchy wikicode he only saw around one particular penguin.
Wikipenguino suddenly started vibrating into a blur of bright, glowing red before transforming into his true self. His red hoodie and face paint turned grey and colourless, his feathers darker and the brim of his hat reddened. Falco could only stare in shock.
Falco: Wikipenguino..? The whole time...!?
Negative: And you were stupid enough to believe me.
Without warning, Negative put his flippers together and pointed them at Falco, sending out a beam of crackling electricity. Falco did a similar motion and created a ray of fire to block the electricity. The two deadly streams of energy clashed together, exploding into flame and sparks.
Falco dived and sidestepped Negatives attack's before quickly returning fire.
Negative vanished and materialised from place to place, dodging the fireballs. Falco sent out a jet of fire, which Negative teleported away from. The jet of fire struck the bark of a nearby tree, which started to burn.
Falco: Uh oh!
He leapt over to the tree and used his powers to draw the fire out of the tree and back to his flippers. The bark was left partially charred, but other than that, the tree and the surrounding forest seemed to be safe from any forest fires the blast may have started.
Falco suddenly felt his spy phone buzz in his pocket.
Falco: Oh, not now!
He hastily pulled it out and forward rolled to dodge Negative's next attack. The phone however, was not buzzing because of a call.
The spy phone was glitching like before. The phone continued to vibrate more intensely with every second. Falco turned to see Negative pointing his flipper at Falco. Falco didn't know whether he was controlling his phone or trying to attack. Nevertheless, with the phone in one flipper and a ball of fire in the other, Falco jumped high into the air, ready to give Negative a taste of his own medicine.
Falco flopped back to the ground, landing painfully but fortunately cushioned by the snow. His phone had emitted a powerful electric shock, interfering with his attempt at an attack. Falco attempted to backflip back onto his feet, but was subsequently hit hard on his head, rendering him unconscious.
Chapter 3: The Double Agent
Negative stepped out of the Tube Transport and into Club Penguin's busy EPF base, the Command Room while Terry followed dizzily behind him. Soon, Negative thought, if everything could just go as intended, S.H.A.R.K.'s master plan would run smoothly and Antarctica would tear itself apart from the inside out without anyone seeing it coming.
He turned in the direction of the System Defender. All he needed to do now was quietly hack into the mainframe and disable any defensive or alarm systems, allowing S.H.A.R.K. to get in and obtain the information they needed. If only he could get close enough-
?????: Hi, Wiki! Hey there, Terry!
Terry: Good afternoon.
Negative felt a small bubble of irritation start swell up inside of him. A distraction to slow him down. Exactly what he needed. He turned around to see an aqua blue penguin with long reddish brown hair. Negative tried to sound as much like his original host.
Negative: Oh...Hey there, Sam.
It was Samantha Van Peng, one of the agents Negative had seen Tux talking to earlier when the database hackings first started.
Samantha Van Peng: Falco's not here today?
Negative: He's resting for now. Still recovering from one of our missions against these two Power4U Super Penguins. Two missions, and we still haven't been able to catch them.
Samantha: Oh, I see.
A dark blue penguin in a lab coat and thick, round glasses who was carrying an untidy stack of papers that seemed to be wobbling dangerously in his flippers waddled up to them.
Terry: Good afternoon, Dr. Infinity.
Dr. Infinity: Greetings, agents! Wikipenguino, have you seen agents Falco and Cheddarbox?
Negative: Falco is resting and Cheddar's returned to Shiverpool, I think.
Dr. Infinity: Hmmm....
He set his stack of papers down with a small thud and pulled out his spy phone.
Dr. Infinity: That's strange...Both of them haven't said anything for quite a bit now.
Terry: Cheddar's usually very active on the EPF channel, though. Maybe something's wrong?
Negative made a slight uncomfortable shuffle. After a moment or two, Dr. Infinity spoke again.
Dr. Infinity: Odd. The list of agents currently stationed at Shiverpool don't include Cheddarbox.
Negative slowly reached inside his pocket. Inside was a small, handheld weapon that could shoot tiny, lethal darts disguised as a ballpoint pen for Negative to use if anyone started to piece the picture together. One small push, and it would quietly dispose of the user's target swiftly and soundlessly.
Dr. Infinity: It says here that he's somewhere else. Or, at least his spy phone is. Perhaps we could send some agents over to retrieve him?
Negative steadily pulled the ballpoint pen out of his pocket. When he thought nobody was looking, he slowly pointed it at Dr. Infinity's direction.
The crowded, bustling and chattering Command Room was suddenly silenced and frozen. Terry and Samantha stared in horror at the sight of their friend lying stretched out on the floor who had small sparks of electricity flashing around him with tiny sparkles and zapping noises. The agents then turned their gaze to the culprit of the sudden attack.
Tux stood behind Wikipenguino with a furious expression on his face, holding a dangerous-looking gun with a transparent barrel, revealing a bolt of electricity crackling inside of it. Short, thin strands of smoke puffed out of the gun's muzzle.
Terry: </big>WHAT HAVE YOU DONE!?</big>
Tux: I've . Stay away from him, Van Peng.
Tux pointed the electric gun at the seemingly unconscious Wikipenguino and slowly moved towards him. Samantha, who was about to rush over to Wikipenguino's side, seemed unsure as what emotion to express.
Tux: I noticed he wasn't dizzy every time he waddled out of the Tube Transport. The real Wikipenguino always exits the Tube nauseous. I also noticed parts of him sometimes looked distorted for a second or so like a computer glitch. Something kept interfering with our systems every time he was around the base. Plus, the lights, screens or other electronics always flickered when he got near them. This is not Wikipenguino. If my suspicions are correct...
Tux waddled up to him and noticed a faint buzzing noise and a light glowing through Wikipenguino's hoodie sleeve. He rolled it up and noticed a blinking metal bracelet with tiny lights on it. Steam and sparks were puffing out of it. Tux yanked it off, breaking it and causing the bracelet to deactivate and making the buzzing fade.
After another moment of uninterrupted silence, the penguin was surrounded by coloured rectangles, 1s and 0s and suddenly, his appearance changing dramatically, causing some to gasp. It was not in fact Wikipenguino, but instead a dark green penguin with a grey hoodie, face paint and red-brim Puffle Ball Cap instead of Wikipenguino's usual blue-brim one.
Tux: It's Negative Wikipenguino.
Dr. Infinity: Gadzooks! For how long!?
Tux: A few days ago, I believe. I overheard him claim he was "lost" and plus, I noticed he glitched before he exited the room. Van Peng, Chase, 52 and Montgopengy, take him to the holding cells and don't let him escape. The gun I used should have temporarily neutralized his powers, but you should still be careful.
Samantha and 52, one of the agents from the crowd both drew out their ice pistols and aimed it at Negative. Chase, a dark green penguin and Montgopengy, a dark blue one, strode forwards and grabbed Negative who had now regained consciousness and was struggling to get onto his feet.
All of a sudden, as Negative was being dragged down the stairs to be put in the cells, he noticed a spy phone on the desk nearby, forcefully broke free and lunged for it.
Montgopengy managed to grab Negative's foot but Negative had already swiped the spy phone off the table and pushed the button. Both Montgopengy and Negative vanished as Chase tried to grab them. Chase looked sadly at them and shook his head.
Chase: They're both gone.
Tux: Guard the mainframe. We'll need agents at the System Defender to warn and block of any attacks.
Dr. Infinity: I'll see if I can track the spy phone. With luck, he won't have had time to disable it.
Tux: 52, tell the rest of Special Intelligence that I'll return as soon as I'm done with this mission and that Agent Francis is to be in charge while I'm away. I'm going out to find Negative Wikipenguino.
52: Right away, commander.
52 rushed off to inform the rest of the Special Intelligence Division. Samantha and Chase waddled up to Tux, all in their mission gear complete with smoke goggles and grappling hooks.
Samantha: Commander, I'm coming with you to find him.
Chase: I am too.
Tux: Alright. I was going to look for agents to assemble, but I think you two will do just fine. Stewart!
Reuben came rushing over, carrying his Techbook and all sorts of equipment with wires and cables dangling from him.
Reuben: Yes, sir?
Tux: I'm going to need you to come with us. I think your expert technical expertise will be very useful for our mission.
Reuben: But I've hardly ever been out on the field...
Tux: Then this will be your chance.
Reuben: Alright then...I'll go grab the rest of my equipment.
Tux turned to Terry.
Tux: Agent Van Furry? Are you interested in tagging along with us?
Terry: Yes, I would very much like to. I need to know what happened to Wikipenguino.
Tux: Alright then, we have our team. I'll find a transport.
It was a snowy, overcast afternoon in the harbour of West Yeti, Freezeland. A huge cluster of grey clouds hung over the city which darkened under the shadow the clouds cast. Snowflakes gently floated down to the blanketed surface below before a shiny grey jet sporting the EPF logo in the side streaked straight through them, leaving a trail of energetic snowflakes. The jet continued it's path into the more hilly regions of the large harbour city before slowing down and gradually lowering onto the ground. The jet landed near to a mostly empty road with a worn-looking, lone two-story building standing beside it where a bright red glow was visible.
Reuben: According to Dr. Infinity's scans, the spy phone should be located in this building. It's still actively transmitting it's location as well, which means they haven't turned it off.
Tux: With luck, Negative Wikipenguino and Montgopengy should still be in there. Set the ship on cloak mode and prepare your gear. We're going out there.
Reuben pressed buttons and switches on the jet's interactive piloting system. A low humming noise emitted from all around them.
Reuben: That should have done it. We're good to go.
The five of them stepped out into the windy, snowy landscape and trudged towards the building.
Chase: So this is the place, huh?
As the group got closer, they found the source of the red glow.
It was a large gleaming red neon sign.
Samantha: "Louie's Spaghetti"?
Tux: I wouldn't let that fool you, Van Peng. Sounds to me like it could be a facade of some sort. You'd all better stay vigilant.
Chase tucked his miniaturized version of his grappling hook under his coat sleeve before pushing open the door to the restaurant.
As soon as the door opened, the five were greeted with a wave of warm air and calming music. A wooden chandelier hung from the ceiling which bathed the room in a welcoming yellow glow. An orange penguin at a counter at the front of the restaurant looked up immediately in excitement upon their entry.
Penguin: Oh! Customers!
He happily waddled over to greet them.
Penguin: Welcome to Louie's Spaghetti! I am Louie, owner of this restaurant. Please, take a seat.
The group slid into a booth.
Louie: Take your time to look at the menus.
Samantha: Excuse me, is there anywhere we can wash our flippers?
Louie: Of course, just go down this corridor over here and it should be just beside the basement staircase.
Samantha ducked out of the booth and waddled down the corridor. As soon as she was out of earshot, she spoke into the communicator and began descending down the staircase.
Samantha: I'm going into the basement...see if there's anything in here.
Terry (on communicator): Be sure not to go too far. And make sure nobody sees you, that could jeopardize the mission. Let me know immediately if you find something.
Samantha: Yeah, I know.
Samantha reached the end of the staircase and pushed open the door to the basement before inspecting the interior.
Samantha: Nope...just the pantry room. Nothing suspicious in here. I'm going to try the kitchen.
Terry: We'll see if we can buy you enough time to get in there.
Samantha silently crept out of the staircase, back along the corridor and into the kitchen.
Samantha: Okay, there's nobody in here...
Samantha checked every container starting from the one closest to the kitchen entrance and eventually came to the massive refrigerators. One of them opened rather easily.
Samantha: Oh wow...
Terry: What happened?
Samantha: A secret entrance.
There were no shelves full of food. Instead, there was a ladder leading downwards.
Samantha: I wonder how they managed to get this...? I'm going inside to see...
Terry: Again, be careful.
Samantha climbed carefully down the ladder. There was a light coming from down below. Voices, too. As soon as she reached the bottom, she noticed a stack of boxes and quickly ducked behind them.
Samantha: I hear voices...I'm going to see if I can hear what they're saying. Can you ask Tux to get on comms?
Terry: I'll see. The waiter is gone now, he should be out of earshot.
Moments later, Samantha heard another voice enter the communication channel.
Tux: Agent Van Peng, what have you found? Do you see Montgopengy?
Samantha slowly glanced over one of the boxes and caught a quick glimpse of her surroundings.
Samantha: Negative, he's not here. I'll have to check if there are other rooms.
Tux: Hang in there, we're coming down. Agent Van Furry has just told me it's one of the refrigerators.
Samantha: Yes, it's-
?????: Well, well, well, and just who do we have here?
Samantha gasped. Three penguins were standing around her, all wearing dark soldier gear with crossed red sword insignias on their shoulders. Two were wearing helmets, except for one, a purple penguin.
Samantha: So you're S.H.A.R.K. agents...
Purple Penguin: And you thought you could sneak up on us, eh? Go ahead boys, take care of her.
The two other agents pulled out their deletion rifles and aimed it at Samantha. Samantha smiled.
Samantha: Actually, I don't plan on being killed this way.
She grabbed both ends of the rifles and shoved them back, forcing the opposite ends to hit the two agents in the face. Just as they were recovering, she punched and kicked both, knocking them out.
Purple Penguin: A difficult one, eh? EVERYONE, WE HAVE AN INTRUDER-!
Samantha uppercut the purple penguin in the face, but it was too late. S.H.A.R.K. agents marched out of a corridor on the other side of the room, all armed with weapons.
The purple penguin staggered back onto his feet, clutching his beak, but laughing.
Purple Penguin: Looks like you've lost this one!
A grappling hook suddenly flew by, wrapping itself around the barrels of the reinforcements' rifles before wrenching back, pulling the rifles out of their flippers. They all whirled around to see Chase with his clever hidden grappling hook, Terry, Reuben, Tux and the restaurant owner Louie, who was looking terrified.
Chase: Actually, I think it's safe to say we haven't. Wouldn't you all agree?
The S.H.A.R.K. agents raised their flippers in defeat. Reuben kept a pistol pointed at them while Chase guarded them from behind. Tux waddled up to the purple penguin then looked at Samantha.
Tux: Van Peng, if you please.
Samantha: With pleasure.
The purple penguin looked confusedly between. Samantha suddenly pinned him against the wall with one flipper and held a deletion pistol in the other.
Purple Penguin: *Cough* No- *wheeze* I'll never talk!
Samantha held the pistol closer to his neck.
Purple Penguin: *gasp* Never, I tell you- *cough* NEVER!
Tux: Alright, that's enough. Release him.
Samantha loosened her grip and the purple penguin clutched his neck, gasping and panting for air. Tux moved very close to the penguin, who slowly turned his gaze from the floor to look at him. After a few silent moments, he slammed the penguin against the wall without warning, causing the purple penguin to make a muffled yelp as he struggled for air yet again. Tux drew out his own deletion pistol.
Tux: Listen very carefully. You're going to tell us the location of Negative Wikipenguino and the agent he took with him. We tracked a stolen spy phone and found it led here. As soon as I stop talking, you have 20 seconds to talk before I pull the trigger.
The purple penguin seemed terrified and helpless at what choice to make.
Tux: 15 seconds.
Tux carefully raised a deletion pistol to the purple penguin's face and loaded it.
Tux: 10 seconds.
The penguin started struggling harder than ever, trying to break free.
The penguin started nodding furiously. Tux slackened his grip slightly, just enough for the penguin to breathe.
Purple Penguin: A-alright! ALRIGHT! I'll talk! He was here! T-t-the stolen spy phone's here, he left without it! T-the penguin Negative was taking with him was here too!
Tux: Where are they now?
Purple Penguin: I don't know! He left as soon as he teleported here! He muttered about something the boss was planning...something that involved his host and the X-Virus...I also overheard him talking to boss about some 'Otherworld'? 'Otherland'? He said he was checking to see if his host was still safe in there...
Tux: Anything else?
Purple Penguin: N-no, that's a-all I know! P-please, don't kill me, Mr. agent-
Tux: My name is Agent Tux. Remember that.
Purple Penguin: Y-y-yes, o-okay, I will! Now please let me go!
A couple of hours later, the five of them had travelled to the much larger EPF base in Fanon City, which was just as crowded as the Club Penguin base. Terry was seated in the main area, frequently checking his spy phone for any updates on the kidnapped penguins. Tux stood near to him, giving orders to some Special Intelligence agents of the Fanon City EPF Branch.
Tux: We've still yet to clean up the mess that fiasco at the restaurant left. You'd better do a quick sweep of the surrounding area when you arrive, There's a good chance a few stragglers are still hanging about. If you find any, see if you can follow them. If you can't, catch them and bring them back. If they won't talk, we'll make them talk. Good luck out there.
Tux waddled over to a computer to type a report when Reuben hurriedly approached him, carrying his Techbook as usual.
Tux: What's wrong, agent?
Reuben: That one penguin - the one who told you about the plan - just admitted something in interrogation. Yesterday, there were a few attempted raids on EPF weaponry facilities. He told us an "ally" informed them of where it was. Well, I've just been doing a check of the EPF's recent communication records. I found this!
Reuben opened the Techbook and twisted it around the show Tux.
Reuben: Data dumps. Large transfers of information between the EPF's database from Club Penguin and somewhere else. I haven't figured out the other location yet, it looks like they must have encrypted it. The person who did it managed to erase any records of them sending it, but not before I could recover most of the logs from system backups before they were overwritten. This person was giving away details of the weapon facilities to S.H.A.R.K.
Tux stared at it and frowned.
Tux: Must be another blasted database hack. I swear the network security was tightened somehow, I can't believe they've still been able to compromise us like this...
Reuben: No, no, it wasn't one of those database hacks, sir. Security has already improved to stop further attacks. This one came from inside.
Tux: So you're suggesting that...
Reuben: ...whoever told them sent the messages from within the EPF.
Samantha: So it was one of our own agents?
The five agents were fast walking through the Specialist Divisions level of Club Penguin City's EPF base.
Tux: It was most likely some sneak thinking they could slip past...They'd have to be very clever to slip past defenses like this. Stewart, have you located the exact location from which the machine was accessed from?
Reuben: Yes, sir. Right around this corner.
They entered a deserted corridor with a single entrance at the end. Upon their approach, the smooth metal and glass doors of the entrance slid open.
The empty room was lit with a dim reddish glow. Several messy desks put together at the end of the room formed a large workstation. Several monitors of different shapes and sizes were mounted on the wall, almost akin to the old spy computers of the original PSA base. Reuben waddled up to the desks and plugged his Techbook into an empty USB slot hooked up to the monitors.
Reuben: Okay...I've tried accessing the cameras in this room, but it all looks as if they've been overwritten...Fortunately, there should be a hidden camera installed in between these monitors. Hopefully, the intruder wasn't one of the few who knew about it...
Terry, Chase and Samantha crowded around Reuben while Tux searched through the files on one of the computers.
Terry: Any idea who this person could be?
Chase: Likely someone who knew their way around the base. Knew the ins and outs like the back of their flippers.
Samantha: Which is probably what allowed them to slip through.
Chapter 4: Level Up
Wikipenguino and 4500 carefully crept through a damp, rocky cave. The two were communicating in whispers and quickly surveying the corridors ahead in case of guards.
4500: We should now be closer to the exit, according to my holographic projector.
Wikipenguino: What's on the next layer?
4500: I don't know. The whole way this world is constructed is really quite messy. All I know is, the deeper into the levels you go, the less control S.H.A.R.K. has over the simulation. They're not able to summon whatever they want or teleport around like they can at the top levels. Hopefully, nobody should have teleportation powers at this level.
Wikipenguino: Well, at least if we run into any, the playing field should be a lot more even.
4500: I don't know. The guards have said the lower levels are more...unpredictable. Think of the topmost levels as dreams while the lowest levels are nightmares. Who even knows what goes on in there.
Wikipenguino: Oh, boy...
4500: Wikipenguino X probably stored it on the lowest level since nobody dares to go there. If anyone has, nobody here has ever heard from them.
Quick footsteps echoed through the caves behind them.
4500: We'd better get down.
4500 and Wikipenguino both ducked behind two large stalagmites. Five S.H.A.R.K. soldiers charged past them, all armed with rifles.
Wikipenguino: Uh oh...Looks like they're after us.
4500: Then we'd better hurry. This way.
The tunnel they travelled down started to slope upwards, growing increasingly brighter with each step. Soon, they could both see a light ahead of them.
4500: This must be it.
They both passed right through the light, seemingly vanishing. Unbeknownst to them, the five S.H.A.R.K. soldiers who had passed them earlier were peering down from a large hole in the ceiling.
S.H.A.R.K. Soldier: Tell the Supervisor they're headed for the third level.
After the blinding light of the gateway had finally vanished, Wikipenguino found himself standing on a wooden surface. He looked to his right to see 4500 emerge right beside him.
Wikipenguino: What is this place!?-Whoa!
A large body of water separated the wooden dock they were both standing on from a mass of land ahead of them, forming a harbor. The air and stormy sky above had a highly unusual purple tint to it. Several buildings and structures stood clustered together while others remained scattered around elsewhere. Huge, towering metal skyscrapers several times the size of the other buildings with tall antennas stood behind the others, partially obscured by the clouds due to their sheer height and surrounded by hovering vehicles. Purple lightning flashed across the sky, somewhat invisible due to the thickness of the clouds.
Wikipenguino: This...this looks just like Tropicapolis...only weirder...
4500: Tropicapolis is your home town, isn't it?
Wikipenguino: Yeah. Only it looks unrecognizable here. Maybe this is S.H.A.R.K.'s idea of a conquered Tropicalis.
4500: Let's see if we can find a way across.
Wikipenguino: If this is Tropicapolis, then there should be a pier to the left of us, if I remember correctly. Ah, fantabulous, there it is...
4500 and Wikipenguino followed a crowd dreary-looking civilians into the queue for the ferry.
Wikipenguino: Odd how everything is just so...dull.
4500: S.H.A.R.K. probably doesn't have much control at all in this level. I don't think any of these civilians are actually hooked up to the Otherverse like we are, but we should still remain vigilant.
Wikipenguino: Right, yes.
As soon as the ferry reached the other side of the harbor, the civilians all waddled out, some even in unison while Wikipenguino and 4500 weaved their way through the crowd. Eventually, they made their way to the exit and out onto the city's main roads. From there, the crowd seemed to divide and split systematically, entering the empty-looking buildings. Cars came and went across the road, seemingly with no given destination or purpose other than to keep moving.
Wikipenguino and 4500 split from the crowd and crossed a street.
4500: Keep moving in a straight line. According to my holographic map, the next gateway should be just ahead-
The sudden clicking of rifles surrounded them. 4500 pulled out his rifle.
S.H.A.R.K. Commander: Stand down. You're returning to the prison...
Wikipenguino: Yeah, I don't think so-
S.H.A.R.K. Commander: ...or you can watch these two die!
Two soldiers in the back dragged in two penguins in prison jumpsuits and handcuffs, struggling to free themselves of the soldiers' grip.
Wikipenguino: Wait...is that...?
The two soldiers brought the penguins inside the circle before retreating to their positions. One of the penguins had black feathers, blond hair and a ninja mask. The other was lime green, had brown hair and blue and white face paint. As soon as they looked up and saw Wikipenguino and 4500, they ceased their squirming.
Falco: HEY! WIKIPENGUINO! It's us! Falco and Cheddar! Thank goodness you're actually-aAAAAAAAAGH!
A bolt of crackling electricity suddenly sprouted from the handcuffs on Falco's flippers, engulfing him for a few seconds.
Wikipenguino: No! Falco!
S.H.A.R.K. Commander: Surrender now, or I'll increase the voltage until it kills him.
?????: Actually, you can let go of them.
The commander wheeled around, only to be punched in the face before blacking out. The other soldiers quickly reacted and attempted to fire at the perpetrator, a hooded penguin who kept his face from view. The penguin ducked and dodged their fire before tossing some round metal objects onto the floor. Thick clouds of smoke swarmed everyone, causing most of them to cough and shrouding most of the street from view.
The hooded penguin emerged out of the smoke in front of 4500 and Wikipenguino with Falco and Cheddar beside him, both of whom appeared to have been freed of the handcuffs.
Cheddar: Hey pal, thanks for freeing us-
Hooded Penguin: No problem, just follow me this way before they get chance! Quick!
Without much of a choice, 4500 and Wikipenguino followed the hooded penguin out of the smoke and into a shady looking alleyway.
The hooded penguin opened up a manhole in the floor and gestured towards it. A ladder was present, stretching down into somewhere dark. After Wikipenguino, 4500, Falco and Cheddar had all descended, the penguin began climbing down and closed the hatch behind him.
Hooded Penguin: There we are...they won't be find us here, haha.
He reached in his pocket and took something out. The room suddenly glowed with bright green light. The penguin was holding a glowstick-like object. He pulled off his hood to reveal blue feathers and brown hair.
Hooded Penguin: Allow me to introduce myself. I am Nathaniel Plover Romanarch, but you can simple call me Nate. I am a fellow prisoner in this wretched nightmare just like you.
Wikipenguino: Yeah...hi. I'm Wikipenguino, this is my clone 4500, this is Falco and that's Cheddar.
Nate: A clone, huh? Cool.
4500: How long have you been down here?
Nate: Honestly can't remember. I was abducted for interfering with some business S.H.A.R.K. had with these criminals I was looking for. The criminals said S.H.A.R.K. could have me, and so they took me here. Of course the dream thing didn't fool me, so I got kicked out and sent to prison. I managed to escape the first day I got there and even managed to take a few supplies with me. Got past the cave system on the second level and came here to the third where I've been hiding out here ever since.
Cheddar: Whoa whoa whoa, so let me get this straight - there are levels to this thing?
Falco: Yeah, that's what I'd like to know.
Wikipenguino: We'll explain later, continue please, Nate.
The guards have probably given up on trying to bring me back to the prison, seeing as how they've stopped looking for me. I must say, I'm quite overjoyed to see that others have made it through the prison. How'd you all escape?
4500: The prison level is in turmoil, which bought us time to escape.
Falco: Well, the guards found out where Wiki and 4500 was, so they took me and Cheddar as part of their plan to bring them both back. You've never tried escaping?
Nate: I have, only this place is a deathtrap without a map, which I don't have.
4500: I've got a map of some sort I took from a guard and some other stuff. Maybe that could help.
Nate: Ah, excellent. I was hoping someone could take a few things from the upper levels. By the way, how'd you all get into the Otherverse?
Falco: Yeah, I'd like to know too.
Wikipenguino: Abducted the day I arrived at the airport. Then Negative assumed my identity and-
Falco: Wait, what? Negative as in Negative Wikipenguino?
Falco: I get it now...It all makes sense. Negative was the one who captured me while he was disguised as you. Cheddar told me all about how he was captured by Negative as well.
Cheddar: Yeah and believe me, that wasn't fun. Rather...shocking to me, heh.
Wikipenguino: Negative has been posing as me!?
Falco: Yeah. As far as I know, he's probably still there.
Wikipenguino: Well then we've gotta begin our escape soon. I'm not letting him steal my identity.
4500: Agreed. We should think of a plan.
Falco: Nate, are you coming with us?
Nate: Absolutely. I'd love to be rid of this place.
4500: I've got the map and the weapons.
Nate: Oh by the way, you should all put these on.
Nate handed out dark jackets and hoodies.
Nate: You're going to want to blend in with the crowd. Brighter colours might attract the attention of any S.H.A.R.K. agents.
Cheddar: Eh...grey isn't really my colour, but its better than these jumpsuits...
As soon as everyone was ready, they began climbing the ladder. Wikipenguino, who was the first to reach the top, pushed open the manhole and light flooded in.
Cheddar: Whoa...looks like it might be evening.
The buildings surrounding them were still devoid of any lighting. Lightning still crackled through the sky, which had taken on a darker colour. The skyscrapers ahead of them were glowing brighter than before. Falco peered around the corner.
Falco: No S.H.A.R.K. agents. The coast should be clear.
4500: Then let's make our move.
The five of them waited for a moment before adjusting to the speed of nearby penguins and walking out of the alleyway.
4500: We should be able to see an entrance into the mass of skyscrapers as soon as we cross this street.
Cheddar: Hate to break it to you all but, I don't really think so...
Cheddar pointed at a group of armed penguins in helmets stopping civilians entering the skyscraper area.
Falco: Uh oh...
Wikipenguino: Looks like we'll have to find another way in, then. How about those things?
Wikipenguino pointed to one of the hovering vehicles in the sky which was cruising silently across the air.
Nate: Good idea!
Falco: How are we going to get up into those things?
Nate: Well, they never stop anywhere outside of the skyscrapers so we'll have to use these.
4500 passed Nate a few items out of a bag he was carrying.
Wikipenguino: Grappling hooks?
Nate: Yup. Now we just gotta get on top of a building.
Wikipenguino: Keep it down, Cheddar!
Cheddar: Sorry, cousin! I just didn't think grappling onto a flying spaceship would be this scary...Hey, this could be a good idea for a prank, actually...
The five of them all had the hooks of their grappling hooks attached firmly to the antennae and the wings of the flying vehicle and were reeling themselves in. As soon as they got onto the vehicle, they all climbed onto the roof.
Falco: There are windows on this thing...are you sure the civilians won't suspect anything?
Nate: Nah. They might give you a funny look at the worst, but either way, they're as lifeless and unflinching as statues. Remember, they aren't one bit real.
Cheddar: Jeez...this place is just good as dead, isn't it?
Falco: If this is bad enough, I'd hate to imagine what the next levels are gonna be like...
After a few more minutes, the vehicle docked on a balcony of one of the massive skyscrapers and the penguins began filing out. The five waited for all penguins to leave before the vehicle began moving again.
Falco: Wow. Look at the view from up here!
Within the cluster of skyscrapers were masses of sprawling lights. Down below were countless buildings that looked like they wouldn't have existed for another hundred or so years into the future. More hovering vehicles of all shapes and sizes navigated the many streets down below while others floated several hundred feet above the ground.
Two winged helicopters below could be seen pointed directly at the five and were ascending quickly.
Cheddar: Yeah, maybe but how about those two things?
Cheddar pointed at the helicopters.
Nate: Oh, don't mind them. They don't even attack-
Beams of purple laser suddenly fired from the helicopters, some hitting the flying vehicle and others barely missing them.
Falco: I thought you said they didn't attack?
Nate: They don't! They never do!
4500: Then why are they-?
Inside the cockpits of the helicopters, penguins in soldier uniform could be seen piloting the helicopters.
Wikipenguino: S.H.A.R.K. agents!
4500: They must have hijacked the helicopters!
Nate: Wait, I have an idea!
Nate took out his grappling hook and fired onto the leg of one of the helicopters before grabbing on and reeling himself in. The S.H.A.R.K. soldier piloting the helicopter looked at him, then did a double take. Nate wrenched open the door and began attacking the soldier. Even the other soldier paused to watch as the helicopter swayed dangerously, diving towards the ground.
4500: What's happening in there?
Suddenly, the end of the grappling hook fired out of the helicopter's open door and attached itself firmly to a building's balcony. Seconds later, a terrified S.H.A.R.K. soldier with one arm tied to the line of the grappling hook was thrown out and promptly yanked towards the balcony until he was left hanging there, yelling for help. A voice then came out of the helicopter's speaker.
Nate: Relax guys, I've got it.
Nate's helicopter then stabilized, rose back into the air and fired at the other helicopter. The soldier inside managed to dodge the first four shots before being hit engine, forcing him to crash land on a rooftop in the distance before stumbling out of the vehicle.
Nate then directed the helicopter close to Falco and the rest before opening the doors so they could climb inside.
Cheddar: Impressive one, pal! You took out those agents and stole us a helicopter to boot...nice.
Nate: Thanks. But we'd better get going, there are probably more soldiers looking for us as we speak.
Wikipenguino: Right, yes, let's hurry.
Nate: 4500, where to?
4500: Straight ahead.
Cheddar: Whooooooa, what's that!?
Ahead of them was a black metal skyscraper but significantly taller than the others. A massive, perfectly ring-shaped, trench-like gap surrounded by a ring-shaped structure could be seen at the foot of the building. Purple lights glowed all over the face of the building and several flying ships could be seen docking to and departing from the building.
Nate: I believe it's called The Fortress. The tallest building here. On a clearer day, which is almost impossible here, you can faintly see it from the harbour.
Falco: How do we get inside?
Nate: I've no idea. This is my first time going this far out into the city.
4500: According to my map, it looks like we're gonna have to enter it.
Falco: Hmmm. I'm not seeing an entrance to this place.
Nate: Okay, I'm going to see where I can land this thing...
Wikipenguino: Looks like you'd better do it quick!
Wikipenguino pointed outside the window of the helicopter at three other helicopters all pointed towards them.
Falco: Uh oh...It must be S.H.A.R.K. If only I had my powers...
A rain of lasers fired in their direction as Nate struggled to try and dodge them. Bright lights exploded in front of them as lasers peppered the helicopter. Holes and breaches suddenly ripped open on the sides of the helicopter, making it shake violently and forcing the five to hang on tightly to an object.
Nate: I'm going to try land!
The now flaming helicopter began to descend through the air while starting to rock and swing more wildly with every second.
Suddenly, the propeller started to reduce its speed.
Nate: Oh no...Oh no! No! NO!
4500: What happened?
Nate: I can't control the helicopter! I think the engine's been hit!
Wikipenguino: Ah, crud.
The helicopter began to dip as the propeller slowed and rotated into a nosedive position, aiming straight at the ring-like trench.
Cheddar: Oh, okay this is even more terrifying than grappling on to a spaCESHIP-AAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!
Falco: QUICK! Try restarting the engine!
Nate frantically pushed and pulled buttons, levers, dials and switches. Suddenly, they heard a loud clicking noise followed by the sound of the engine and propellers.
Nate: ITS WORKING!
Wikipenguino: Then let's pull up before we hit the ground!
Nate: Well, I'm afraid that's all going to depend on how fast these helicopters are.
Cheddar: We're going to fall into that gap!
The helicopter tilted back upwards just as it suddenly dropped into the gap dividing The Fortress from the rest of the city. The S.H.A.R.K.-piloted helicopters came to a halt before climbing back up before they could hit the ground. The inside of the gap seemed to be rather large and as spacious as an aircraft hangar.
Cheddar: Oh. Looks like we might be able to land after all!
Nate: Hang on tight! This is going to be a rough landing!
By now, the helicopter had adjusted its angle back to a more safer position. As Nate attempted to land it, the broken skids scratched the floor and were suddenly ripped off by the speed. The battered body of the helicopter then skidded across the floor before leaning to one side, making the propeller blades scrape the floor for a few moments until they came to a stop. The five of them crawled and staggered out of the helicopter wreckage, all shaken from the crash.
Wikipenguino: Wow...what a ride...
Cheddar: You can say that again.
Falco: Where are we?
Purple light flooded in from the wide gap entrance above them. The wall of the trench under The Fortress appeared to have what looked like a regular building entrance with sliding doors embedded into it.
Wikipenguino: I'm assuming that's the entrance...?
Falco: Why is it even down here? This doesn't make any sense...
4500: Nothing makes sense in here. That's probably the point.
Cheddar: So uh...do we go in or...?
4500: Looks like it. We don't really have much of a choice. S.H.A.R.K. will probably be onto us any minute now.
The five of them all waddled slowly up the concrete steps of the entrance. The sliding doors opened as soon as the sensors detected them.
Inside was a corridor connecting to a large hall with staircases leading to a long, glass indoor balcony. An elevator could be seen on the balcony.
Cheddar: Whoa! What're those robots?
Several grey robotic penguins with light bulbs on their heads and wheels for feet were wandering and patrolling the hall.
Falco: Are those...Wheel Bots?
Wikipenguino: This is strange...4500, where to next?
4500: Looks like we need to be heading up.
Nate: Well then, it looks like we should be taking those elevators, then. And be very careful with the robots, who knows what they could do...
Falco: Well how are we supposed to get to the elevators without them noticing us-?
Just then, one of the passing Wheel Bots came through the corridor and paused to look at the five, making Falco stop his talking and the rest of them motionless. After a moment or two, it continued on its way as usual.
Wikipenguino: Huh. They seem to be quite passive.
Cheddar: Cool. So all we have to do is get to the elevator, which shouldn't be a difficulty-
Cheddar, who had waddled out of the corridor stopped in his tracks as the loud alarm blared throughout the entire hall, making all the robots cease what they were doing and wheel around to face the five penguins.
The light bulbs on their head suddenly lit up and glowed bright red like a police siren.
Cheddar: Okaaaaaaay, they didn't like that...
Nate: Looks like they want a fight, huh? That I can give, if that's what they want.
4500 took out his rifle from his bag.
4500: Take out your weapons!
The robots wheeled closer towards them at a slow pace as the five hastily pulled their weapons out of their bag. Nate and Falco both pulled out pistols, Cheddar some explosive items and Wikipenguino a slivery, cylindrical hilt.
Wikipenguino: Wha-? What can I do with this?
4500: Press the golden button underneath.
Wikipenguino did as instructed. A blade suddenly ejected out of the hilt, with small sparks and bolts of electricity circling it.
Wikipenguino: Oh! Now we're talking.
Wikipenguino made a more confident approach to one of the nearest Wheel Bots who suddenly lunged at him. Wikipenguino swung the blade slicing the Robot's arm clean off and leaving a massive cut on the robot's side. After a few seconds of disorientation from the attack, the Wheel Bot suddenly lost its balance and fell on its side, blocking some of the others. The other robots began moving faster, prompting the other four of the penguins to fire at them.
4500 used his rifle shots to knock out as many Wheel Bots blocking the stairs as he could, slowly clearing an entrance.
4500: These Wheel Bots keep coming...D'you guys think you could help me break through them?
Falco: With pleasure.
Cheddar: Excuse me, guys...INCOMING!
Cheddar hurled three explosives over the heads of some robots and into a crowd of reinforcements, promptly exploding them and preventing backup.
Nate: Alright guys, the stairs are clear!
Falco: Sweet. Let's move before we get pounded by these tin cans.
With that, the five rushed up the stairs, dismantling the few robots present on the balcony.
Wikipenguino: Crumbs! Looks like the rest of the Wheel Bots are coming up the stairs.
Sure enough, the number of Wheel Bots had again increased to a crowd and they were now charging as fast as their wheels could go up the staircase. Nate, who was the first to reach the elevators, rapidly and repeatedly jabbed the elevator button.
Nate: Come on, where's the elevator when we need it!
A few moments later, the elevator finally descended from above and the doors opened. Nate stumbled in first, then came 4500, then Falco and Wikipenguino.
Wikipenguino: Come on, Cheddar!
Cheddar: Wait a minute! I have an idea! They seem to be out of reinforcements!
Cheddar transferred a few explosives to his hoodie pocket and suddenly tossed as many explosives around. Most fell below the balcony and a few even hit some Wheel Bots on the head. Cheddar then leapt into the lift, which closed shut as soon as he entered. Seconds later, as the elevator lifted upwards, they heard a muffle explosion take place above them. Cheddar grinned widely at other four.
Cheddar: That should keep them for a while, heh.
The elevator doors opened and the five emerged out into a large officer floor. The floor seemed to be rid of any robots and was was instead occupied by civilian office workers at numerous desks. The sound of keyboard clicking was the only noise that filled the room.
Nate: Well, it looks like this is as far as the elevator can take us.
Wikipenguino: Well then, there must be a way to get to the upper levels in here. We just have to find it.
?????: HEY! There they are!
Three armed S.H.A.R.K. soldiers had waddled in from another room.
Cheddar: Welp, here we go.
One of the soldiers pulled out a communicator while Wikipenguino and Nate rushed at them.
S.H.A.R.K. Soldier: They're on floor 153, I repeat they're--
Nate shot the communicator out of the soldier's flipper before Wikipenguino shocked him with his electric blade. The other two soldiers attempted to retreat and fire at the same time, but Nate shot both of them, forcing them to collapse.
4500: Let's move.
4500 used his holographic map to lead the way while the other 4 followed closely behind him.
4500: Alright, there should be an entrance here that we can maybe take to the upper levels.
They all ran down a corridor and pushed open a door that led into a hallway. Several penguins in S.H.A.R.K. uniform were already stood there, and promptly turned around to fire upon their entrance. The five quickly ducked and dodged their fire before closing the door and barricading it with nearby furniture.
Cheddar: Sorry pal! Gonna need this.
Cheddar grabbed the legs of an office worker's desk and pulled it away before blocking the door with it. The officer worker merely looked around confusedly before waddling to any empty desk and using the computer there. Banging noises could be heard from the door, which didn't budge at all.
Wikipenguino: That probably won't hold for long...
Falco: But how are we supposed to get to the upper levels?
Nate: I have an idea.
He gestured towards a large wall, consisting entirely of windows.
4500: Hmm. Good idea.
4500 aimed his rifle at the window, charged it to full power and fired. The window suddenly burst into shards of glass, and the entire window frame exploded into pieces and fell out of the building, leaving a massive hole.
Nate: Everyone get your grappling hooks!
S.H.A.R.K. Soldier: 3...2...1!
The S.H.A.R.K. soldiers had finally freed the entrance into the corridor with some explosive material they had found in the stolen helicopters.
S.H.A.R.K. Commander: The entrance is free! MOVE!
The soldiers all charged into the room, ready to fire at anything that attacked.
S.H.A.R.K. Commander: Well!? You told me they were on floor 153. So where are they!?
S.H.A.R.K. Soldier 1: I-I don't know sir...They were in here just a few minutes ago...
S.H.A.R.K. Soldier 2: HEY! You! You must've seen something. Where did those five penguins go, huh!?
The soldier poked an office worker with his rifle. The worker merely stared at him for a moment with an emotionless expression, then returned to his work.
S.H.A.R.K. Soldier 2: Answer me!
S.H.A.R.K. Commander: Stop that, you idiot! You know they're not even real, right? And what's the meaning of this huge hole over here?
The commander motioned towards a massive hole where a window used to be.
Twenty feet above, Wikipenguino, Nate, 4500, Falco and Cheddar were climbing the side of The Fortress with their grappling hooks.
Cheddar: Oh boy...grappling onto something in the air was kinda scary...same goes for falling while in a helicopter...but I think this beats all of em'.
4500: A few more feet, everyone. As soon as we get to this balcony, we should be very close to this layer entrance.
Nate and 4500 made to to the top first and proceeded to help the others onto the balcony. As soon as they had made it, Nate smashed a window separating the balcony from the inside of the building with the end of his rifle. Inside was a large hall with two equally large corridors on the side and another directly ahead, containing a window overlooking the city. A few civilian workers who seemed to be aimlessly waddling around the hall seemed unnerved by the noise and turned to look at them for a brief moment.
Falco: Thank goodness they weren't robots.
Nate: Alright boys, where to next?
4500: Directly ahead.
They sprinted down the corridor with the large window. Falco suddenly stopped, prompting Wikipenguino to do the same.
Wikipenguino: What's wrong? Why did you stop?
Falco: Can you hear that sound?
Wikipenguino: What sound?
Sure enough, after a few moments of listening, Wikipenguino could hear a deep rumbling noise.
Cheddar skidded to a halt but slipped and fell in his haste. Nate and 4500 stopped shortly behind him. A large, shiny black jet with glowing, opaque blue windows had appeared in the corridor's window and was now hovering in place.
4500: Quick, take cover!
Cheddar, Nate and 4500 dashed and crawled away from the window as just in time as a beam of electric blue plasma from the jet's wing cannon punched a hole straight through it and continued into the corridor. Wikipenguino and Falco dodged the laser just in time.
Falco: It must be S.H.A.R.K.
Falco attempted to fire back at the jet. His bullets seemed to have either missed or had no effect.
Nate: 4500, mind if I borrow your rifle?
4500: Sure, go ahead.
Nate charged the rifle to full power.
Nate: Here, take this!
He fired it at the jet's wing. A ball of energy and smoke appeared on the wing. The jet shook and wavered through the air, dipping slightly. The smoke cleared a second later and revealed only a small burn on the wing.
Nate: I don't think that did much...
Wikipenguino: Come on, let's leave before they recover.
4500: Alright, follow me.
4500 led them down a smaller corridor branching off to the right and into a tiny room before shutting the door and using his holographic map as a light. Though small, it lit up the tiny room surprisingly well. Inside was a ladder that seemed impossibly tall, making the group look directly upwards to see it's end.
Nate: Look at this thing. It'll take ages to climb...
Falco: I hear footsteps back there. Same floor, not that far away, moving quite quickly.
Cheddar: Uh oh.
4500: Looks like we have less time than we thought. Though we should have just enough to escape, they must be searching other places first. And I don't think that jet pilot recovered in time to see where we went.
They picked up the pace and after a few tiring minutes, made it to the top and found a door.
Falco: Phew, we made it.
Nate swung open the door and a gust of air came in.
Nate: I think we're on the top of the building!
The surrounding area was mostly cloud free and a dark magenta sky was visible. The base of the building's antennae was located at the center of the rooftop.
4500: There it is.
4500 pointed at the antennae. A patch of air that looked like wavy lines created by heat could be seen near it's top.
4500: We just have to climb the antennae and we'll be out of here.
Falco began climbing the tower first, followed by Nate and then Cheddar. Just when Wikipenguino put his foot on the antennae, the shiny black jet from before ascended from below until it was level with Falco.
Nate: Oh, not him again!
The jet fired a laser at Falco, who swung over to another side of the antennae.
4500 took out his rifle and fired at the jet. This time however, it swerved to avoid the shot, before focusing on attacking 4500.
Wikipenguino: Hurry, while its distracted!
Falco hurriedly grabbed and propelled himself upwards towards the tip of the tower while Wikipenguino and Falco continued to try and draw the jet's attention. The door leading back to the ladder then swung open again. A squadron of armed S.H.A.R.K. soldiers rushed out.
Cheddar: Aw, come on!
Nate and Falco both pulled out their pistols.
Nate: Hang on! We'll come down and help you-
Wikipenguino: No, keep going! We'll handle it!
Cheddar: Here, you two take these!
Cheddar flung three of his explosives downwards. 4500 caught them with his free flipper before tossing one to Wikipenguino and ignited another to throw at some of the soldiers. Falco finally reached the top and leapt into the portal, disappearing into thin air, just as the S.H.A.R.K. commander noticed.
S.H.A.R.K. Commander: Everyone target the antennae!
Most of the troops then directed their fire at the antennae. Wikipenguino focused his attacks on the troops while 4500 attempted to distract and fire at the jet, which was now ignoring him and targeting the antennae. Nate climbed through the portal and vanished just as the jet fired another laser.
Wikipenguino: That's it, I'm using the explosives!
The S.H.A.R.K. squad struggled to pay attention and struggled between shooting and avoiding the bomb as it landed in the middle and exploded powerfully. 4500 meanwhile, managed to subdue the jet with multiple shots including some aimed at the pilot.
Wikipenguino: The squad's down!
4500: Then let's go before they get up!
Wikipenguino and 4500 leapt onto the antennae and started scaling it, just as Cheddar went into the portal.
S.H.A.R.K. Commander: NO! Don't let them escape!
The S.H.A.R.K. commander, who was trapped and helpless under a piece of the building and some unconscious agents, could do nothing as the two penguins headed for the portal. Some agents who weren't as affected by the explosive as the others, started firing again. The jet, which was now damaged badly on it's side, attempted to resume destroying the antennae. It conjured a powerful blast of laser which struck the base. The antennae started to wobble.
Wikipenguino: They're breaking the base! We won't make it in time!
4500 looked at the jet, then at the feebly stirring S.H.A.R.K. agents.
4500: But you will.
Wikipenguino: Wait, what?
4500: I can hold them off long enough for you to escape. Take my rifle and the portal locator. You'll need them.
Wikipenguino: I can't just leave you here-
4500: Trust me, I'll be fine! Once you escape the Otherverse, you can unplug me from the machine. Now go!
4500 sprang from his spot and landed right on the jet's wing. He then put his flippers on the jet's laser cannon and pushed until it started to get closer to the S.H.A.R.K. agents. They yelped and screamed while trying to avoid it. 4500 then stuffed his only weapon, the explosive, into the damaged part of the jet and stepped back as he set it off. Wikipenguino, who was hanging on to the now dangerously teetering antennae, launched himself into the portal at the right time, just as it collapsed and the jet exploded.
Chapter 5: The Vermillion Lotus
A shiny grey jet clearly exhibiting the EPF logo cruised through the clouds, slowly descending towards the surface.
Chase: Here we are. Nampai, Zhou.
Barely visible ahead of them was the skyline of Nampai, almost entirely obscured by haze. Some prominent skyscrapers could be noticed, while the city's streets and highways were completely invisible.
Reuben: 52 was last spotted in the city's centre. One of our undercover agents managed to slip into some of the local crime groups' "inner circles" and saw him. Apparently 52 is seeking refuge in the city until S.H.A.R.K. comes and gets him.
Samantha: How much time do we have until they arrive?
Reuben: Not enough. Only a few hours until S.H.A.R.K. is expected to arrive.
Samantha: So it'll be a race to see who gets to him first?
Reuben: Seems so.
Terry: And I'm afraid it doesn't look as if the pollution levels are on our side today. He really did pick the perfect place at the perfect time.
Chase: Yeah, no doubt about that.
Reuben: I'll see how close we can get us.
After a few more minutes of hovering around the city, Reuben found an empty closed down park for them to land in. He pushed some buttons on the ship's controls before dragging a lever down. The consistent humming of the engine dissipated slightly and dropped to a lower tone. Through the window, the surface slowly rose as the jet descended until it landed with a soft bump.
Reuben: This is about as close as I can get us to where we need to go. I'll monitor your progress from the jet, so make sure you all have your communicators.
Chase: Alright. Wish us luck.
The jet doors retracted to reveal dim sunlight and a beige-tinted haze as the three agents climbed out.
The two penguins and one puffle navigated the still somewhat congested roads and streets of Nampai. After crossing from road to road and taking shortcuts here and there, they exited the quieter park region and entered what appeared to be the downtown district. Directly ahead of them was a sprawling mass of junctions, intersections and long, curved overhead highways. The glow of vehicle headlights, traffic lights on every available space on the road accompanied by the beeping and honking of horns showed just how crowded the place was. A diverse range of architecture could be seen in the skyscrapers around them and the few dozen or so office buildings around them.
Terry: This looks like the area...
Samantha: Rueben, is this the place?
Reuben (communicator): Should be. This was exactly where 52 was spotted by the agent. He's likely hiding in one of the many nearby alleyways.
Chase: Right then. Hide and seek it is.
Terry: Perhaps we should split up?
Chase: Seems like we'll have to.
Samantha: Agreed. In that case, I'll take the alleyways ahead of us.
Terry: I'll start with the left side.
Chase: Which makes me the one to take the alleyways on the right.
Reuben (communicator): We'll all communicate via comms. Remember, if ever any of you see or find any trouble, give everyone else a shout.
For the next ten or so minutes, background noise was the only thing interrupting the long periods of silence over the comms as they searched. Terry decided to move on to another alleyway after being met only with dead ends.
Chase (communicator): Any sign of him yet?
Samanatha (communicator): Nothing yet. Its been mostly quiet on my end, nothing that suspicious.
Chase (communicator): This place is almost like a maze. 52 sure played his cards well.
This time, Terry entered a more wider and lengthy back alley. With the only other option being to turn left when he reached the end, Terry made a left turn and was almost immediately met with a dead end.
Terry: I haven't found anything. I've searched most of the backstreets on this side and I'm not-
Voices and footsteps could be heard near the entrance of the backstreet. Terry quickly rolled behind a dumpster as a group of four penguins waddled past, chatting in Mandarin.
Samantha (communicator): Terry, what happened? What did you find?
Terry peeked from behind the dumpster at the penguins. His view was partially obstructed by a wall, meaning if he wanted a better look, he'd risk being spotted.
Terry: Nothing really. Just a group of penguins staring suspiciously at a wall...Like they're waiting for something. I'll notify you if I see anything important.
Terry pulled what appeared to be a shiny metal marble out of his hammerspace. He rolled and turned it around in mid-air using his telekinesis. On the other side, however, was a camera and a speaker embedded into the marble.
Terry: Reuben, are you there?
Reuben (communicator): Yes, I hear you.
Terry: I have the Marble Bot ready. There's a group of penguins close to where I am. I need you to get a good look of what they're doing.
Reuben (communicator): Affirmative. In that case, make sure you have your spy phone with you.
Terry rolled the marble across the floor and out of his hiding place. After it was about a meter away, the marble sprouted miniature legs and a tiny propellor. It immediately stopped rolling before activating its minute propellor and floating into the air. Terry took out his spy phone and it opened up to the familiar dark screen before selecting an application. For a few moments, there was plain static. Suddenly, the group of penguins in the alleyway appeared on the screen with their backs turned.
Rueben (communicator): Okay, I'll pilot the Marble Bot closer.
The small marble floating in mid-air fluttered towards the group of four. At the same time, the live video of the same group of penguins on Terry's spy phone screen zoomed in as the camera got closer. Just then, two of the bricks in the wall slid back and to the side together, revealing the face of a pistachio penguin.
Terry: Incredible...very well hid, too...
One of the four penguins said something to the pistachio penguin Terry didn't quite catch. Most of the bricks slid back, creating an entrance and allowing the four penguins access to a room inside while the pistachio penguin welcomed them. The bricks then quickly withdrew back to their original positions as if nothing had ever happened.
Terry: Rueben, did you hear what the penguin said?
Rueben (communicator): I did. Looks like we're getting somewhere now.
Samantha (communicator): Well? Did you find something?
Terry: Meet me at my location. I think we might've found where 52 might be hiding...and I think I know how to get in...
Chase: This is the place?
Chase was the last to arrive at the alley Terry had found.
Terry: It is. This wall is an entrance that opens up.
Samantha waddled forwards and knocked on one of the bricks. The same two bricks from before opened up, revealing the pistachio penguin. The penguin froze for a second before eying each of the three agents suspiciously.
Terry: Allow me.
Terry hopped closer to the door and looked directly at the penguin, who stared right back.
Terry: Vermillion Lotus.
The pistachio penguin narrowed his eyes in suspicion. After a moment, he stepped back. The brick wall then split open to reveal an entrance.
Pistachio Penguin: Welcome to the Vermillion Lotus.
The trio waddled into a long, dark corridor before entering a sizable two-story room illuminated by a mix of different shades of red. Scarlet, crimson and magenta lamps and lanterns hung from the ceiling. A circular balcony overlooking the entrance and most of the surrounding area divided the room in two. Penguins were seated around each of the room's many tables, chatting loudly and playing card games. Puffles with silver platters on their heads shuffled around the room, offering them drinks while coming in and out from someplace in the back of the room, concealed behind a red curtain.
Samantha: Look at this place...It's like a secret bar of some sort.
Chase: No doubt about that. The question is why?
Terry: I believe it's secret for a very specific purpose.
Terry pulled out the deactivated Marble Bot and placed it near a wall.
Rueben (communicator): Already onto it.
The Marble Bot awoke and sprouted its tiny legs before scurrying up the wall and out of sight. A few moments later, Rueben spoke back into the comms channel.
Reuben (communicator): Interesting. There appear to be some Antarcticans here. Not only that but some Frankterrans, Ligurians and Snoss penguins. There seem to be a few Khanz penguins, too.
Samantha: Anything else to be found?
Rueben: I'm having a look right now. I see if I can get a closer look at what they're-
Reuben suddenly went silent.
Samantha: Rueben...? Rueben! Rueben, do you copy?
A few moments later, he responded.
Reuben: I copy. Apologies, agents.
Chase: Goodness, you had us scared. What happened?
Rueben: I spotted some penguins. They're members of the UPM. I recognized the fedoras. And they're carrying Doom Weed with them.
Chase: Doom Weed?
Terry: I thought so. This must be a rendezvous point of some sort for criminals. A secret hideout for them to meet.
Samantha: Rueben, see if you can find 52. If you do, warn us immediately.
Reuben: On it.
Chase: Should we split up again?
Samantha: Sounds like the best option.
Reuben: Still nothing in this crowd.
Chase: Try searching for penguins with darker feathers than usual. 52's a Dark Penguin so he'll stand out quite a bit more against the other colours.
Samantha: Be sure to check any secluded corners of this place. Like the booths in the upper floor. Or try the room hidden behind the curtains on the ground floor.
Terry: Wait! Maybe I can get through the hidden room. The ruffles serving the penguins go in and out of there all the time. I might be able to squeeze inside...
Chase: You're sure about this?
Terry: We have to try.
Samantha: Alright then. Good luck.
Terry shuffled towards the curtains with the other puffles. A formidable looking penguin wearing a black shirt and earpiece who Terry assumed was a security guard stood near the curtains. As soon as Terry came close, he glared down at him. He would obviously need another way to get in. Turning back and looking around the room, he noticed something shiny behind a stack of seats. Upon closer inspection, it was revealed to be a silver platter, exactly like the ones the other puffles were carrying. Suddenly thinking of an idea, Terry took off his glasses and put the platter on his head. He then made his way back to the curtains, making sure to conceal his face and blend in with the next group of puffles returning behind the curtains. Penguins put glasses and bottles on Terry's platter as he passed by, making it increasingly harder for him to balance properly. By the time he made it to the curtains, he was wobbling slightly with the glasses and bottles clinking against each other with every move. Though Terry thought that his inexperience with carrying objects on his head when compared to the other puffles would attract attention, hardly anyone seemed to notice. The security guard from before didn't even bat an eyelid as Terry entered the room behind the curtains with the other puffles.
Terry whipped out his communicator as soon as he was out of earshot.
Terry: I'm in!
Samantha: Nice one!
Rueben: Excellent work! What do you see in there?
Unlike the main room, this room was more rectangular than it was circular and had a midnight-green carpeted floor. A large golden dragon ornament adorned the wall at the back, clutching a lotus in one of it's claws. The room was substantially more quiet than the outside, and there were only a few penguins present, all seated at sofas and armchairs placed around coffee tables, chatting with each other rather quietly. Lotus-shaped lamps, intricately patterned vases and still life paintings decorated the area. An open doorway on the right side of the room led to what appeared to be some sort of kitchen area as puffles were shuffling in with empty cups or platters only to exit with refilled ones.
Terry: Doesn't seem to be anything much. I'm not seeing 52, either.
Terry turned around and saw the pistachio penguin enter the room. Terry quickly ducked into the line of puffles and exchanged his platter for an empty one before taking cover behind an unused cushioned stool and listened as the sound of the curtains spreading apart and heavier footsteps than that of a puffle made it clear a penguin must have entered.
Pistachio Penguin: You're very lucky nobody here recognizes you...yet.
?????: I have my own ways of getting around.
Something clicked in Terry's brain at the sound of that voice. He took out his glasses and peeked around the corner to have a look but already knew before he saw. The pistachio penguin was talking to a rather troubled looking penguin wearing a hoodie and jet black feathers. A Dark Penguin.
52: How long until they arrive, Ling?
Pistachio Penguin: Oh, not long now. Your friends will be here very soon.
Terry almost dropped his communicator in his haste to take it out.
Terry: I found him! He's here!
Samantha: You found him?
Chase: Hang in there, we'll be right over.
Terry: As it turns out, the pistachio penguin we met at the entrance earlier is called Ling.
Rueben: Got it. I'm making note of that right now.
52 and Ling waddled closer to Terry's hiding spot as they talked.
Terry: Can't talk now. See you later.
Ling: The Supreme Leader contacted me. He told me he needs you in the next phase of whatever his plan involves...
52: The plan?
Ling: I don't know anything more about what that may be, but you best be careful talking about it. I saw some people earlier. They looked like EPF agents.
Terry: Oh no...
52 seemed alarmed.
Ling: I'm afraid so.
52: No...it can't be...
At the same time, Terry attempted to quietly edge away from his spot and retreat to the line of puffles.
Ling: I'm afraid so.
Terry suddenly hit the leg of a chair as he almost made it back, accidentally letting go of the platter. The platter hit the wall with a clang, making Ling and 52 notice.
Ling: What are you doing, puffle?
Terry: I-er, I was cleaning the area...
Ling: Who ordered you to clean?
Fortunately, Terry didn't have to create an explanation. Samantha emerged from the curtains, armed with a pistol. The security guard protecting the entrance followed shortly, looking rather worried and helpless. Ling shot him a rather annoyed look while everyone else looked confused as whether they should listen or run. He then yelled something in Mandarin.
Ling: 你应该守卫这个房间！我告诉过你不要让不受欢迎的人！(I thought you were supposed to guard this room! I told you not to invite unwanted guests!)
Security Guard: 我无法阻止他们。还有另一个人- (I-I couldn't! There was another penguin there-)
Ling: 算了吧！我会在稍后解决它! (Forget it, I'll deal with you later!)
Samantha: Everyone don't move! 52, you're coming with us. Now.
52 looked around frantically and backed away slowly. Samantha advanced forwards at the same pace. Two more security guards entered the room, having a happy conversation about something until they saw the current state of the place. They both looked at Ling.
Ling: 你们在等什么？做你的工作！(What're you waiting for!? DO YOUR JOB!)
The two guards took out pistols. Samantha whirled around and jumped sideways just as they fired. The sharpness of the ice bullet skimmed past and scratched her left arm. As soon as she toppled over, 52 ran outside. The penguins and puffles in the room along with the room security guard quickly ran outside before Samantha recover while Ling dived behind an armchair at the sound of the gunshots. The two remaining security guards moved forwards but Terry charged forwards, headbutting one in the stomach before launching upwards to headbutt the other on the forhead. Terry then grabbed the platter and pounded the first one in the face with the flat side of the platter. They both staggered back, hit the wall and collapsed. Terry helped Samantha to her feet.
Terry: Are you alright?
Samantha: I'll be fine, it only grazed my arm...Where's 52?
Terry: Outside, with the others.
Samantha quickly rushed out. Terry stayed behind and pulled out his communicator.
Terry: Reuben, you might want to prepare the jet for a chase. 52 may or may not have escaped. If he hasn't, we might be able to capture him and leave as soon as possible.
Reuben: On it! And you might want to hurry, it sounds like there's quite an uproar out there!
Terry shuffled to the exit. Without warning, Ling jumped in front of him.
Ling: Not so fast, puffle!
Terry backed away and grabbed the platter.
Ling: I knew you were going to be trouble from the start! You and your friends think you can just come here and meddle in things you shouldn't be. I suspected something like this would've happened.
Ling moved back and grabbed one of the unconscious guards' pistols. Terry took a deep breath.
Terry: This has to work.
Terry pushed forward, holding the platter flat against his face. Ling aimed the gun and fired. The bullet struck the platter, making a loud vibrational noise. As soon as Terry had enough momentum, he suddenly withdrew the platter, spun once and hurled it like a frisbee. The platter bashed Ling in the beak, causing him to yell and clutch it before Terry jostled past, making him trip over and land on his stomach.
The commotion in the private room seemed to have reached the main room, as people were now rushing for the nearest exits. Chase was standing near the main exit aiming a pistol at 52 while simultaneously gazing at the escaping crowd every once in a while.
Chase: That's it, everyone out!
Samantha stood close to the curtained entrance, also holding a pistol. 52, meanwhile, was in the center of the room, looking as if he was waiting for something. As soon as Terry entered, 52 stuffed a flipper in one of his hoodie pockets and fiddled with something. A loud, high-pitched humming noise emitted from somewhere near the curtains. Samantha suddenly grabbed Terry and leaped away from her position.
A cloud of black and purple exploded around the curtained entrance, deleting anything within its radius. Wood, concrete and other debris burst apart before vanishing into the CyberVoid. Samantha and Terry made it out just in time. Chase, distracted by this was caught off guard as 52 disappeared down a corridor.
Rueben: I see him! I'm following him right now!
Rueben was at the helm of the jet's controls, sitting in the pilot seat and steering it around the hazy city center. Holographic images and graphs of real-time statistical information were displayed all around the control panel. Emerging from an alleyway opposite to the one that led to the Vermillion Lotus' entrance, the jet's scanners had identified 52, who could be seen sprinting much faster than the other escaping penguins. Not too far behind him was Chase, who was using his grappling hook to latch on to and swing around buildings to follow him.
Chase (communicator): Rueben, I have a plan. Samantha and Terry already know. And for once, I think the pollution today will actually be of use here.
Rueben: Excellent. How is it going to work?
Chase (communicator): I need you get in front of 52. As soon as you reach the pier up ahead, cut the engines. When I say so, get out of cloak mode and prepare to fire at him in case we need to. I'm currently trying to drive 52 as close to the sea as possible. Samantha and Terry are already on their way to their positions.
Rueben: Alright. I'm on my way.
Rueben slowly pushed forward a large yellow lever. The noise of the engine increased to a much higher pitch and volume as the jet picked up speed. As the jet exited the city center and got closer to the sea, Reuben brought the jet to a much lower altitude, while aiming for 52. After a few seconds, Rueben overtook him with ease. He drew back the yellow lever as he approached the pier, which was mostly empty. The jet slowed down to a halt before turning 180 degrees. According to the scanners, 52 still had some time before he reached the pier.
Rueben: I'm at the pier!
Chase (communicator): Good. I'll be there soon. Standby for my signal.
A penguin-shaped figure could be seen very faintly in the distance, moving through mid-air. The scanners automatically selected the figure, enlarging and outlining it in blue on the screen, revealing it to be Chase, who was using his grappling hook to swing from a lamp-post. Chase then dropped to the ground and chased after 52.
Samantha (communicator): Alright, I'm in position.
Terry (communicator): I'm also ready.
Chase: Okay. Any minute now...
Two penguins sprinting across the waterfront started to come into view.
Chase (communicator): Rueben, NOW!
Rueben speedily pressed a series of buttons and levers. A low hum could be heard as the jet suddenly deactivated cloaking mode. The few civilians who were around stopped to watch as 52 skidded to a halt, clearly not expecting this. Terry and Samantha arrived, while the latter pulled out her pistol and blocked 52 from the side. Chase closed the circle and blocked 52's way from behind.
With nowhere else to run, 52 climbed over the waterfront railings and jumped.
Terry (communicator): NO!
Before he could slip from their grasp again and disappear beneath the waves of the ocean, Chase launched his grappling hook directly at 52. The hook tethered itself to 52's foot before Chase yanked the cord of the hook back and pressed the button to reel it in. 52 was jerked back up by the foot and as he was being reeled in, hit his head on the railings before slumping onto the ground. Still conscious, but no doubt exhausted and finally outsmarted.
Subsequent to apprehending 52, the agents brought him back to Club Penguin's EPF base, where he was now temporarily imprisoned in a more secure holding cell awaiting transportation. Samantha was in a medical room with Rueben helping to bandage her bullet wound. Terry sat on a chair nearby, constantly monitoring his spy phone for updates on S.H.A.R.K. with much concern. Chase suddenly popped his head into the open doorway and knocked on the door, looking rather hopeful.
Chase: Guess what? We have a lead.
Terry: A lead?
Rueben: So 52 decided he'd talk then?
Chase: Unfortunately not. He hasn't said a word since we brought him here. The Special Intelligence agents are trying everything right now, but it doesn't look like he'll crack that easy. However...
Chase raised one of his flippers. In his flipper was a dossier full of documents.
Samantha: What's that?
Chase tossed over the file for Samantha and Rueben to see. Terry bounced over from his seat to have a look.
Rueben: Oh my...
Chase: We managed to find quite a bit from the things he was carrying around. A stolen phone, some gadgets and a holographic transmitter. The Weaponry Development Division wasn't able to find much about 52 or S.H.A.R.K. on the phone but found data on the transmitter. According to its logs, it hasn't been used very recently, some time before 52 was captured, to be precise. But from what we've unearthed from its logs, its been broadcasting a steady connection to another receiver.
Terry: But I thought S.H.A.R.K. took measures and hid their computer addresses?
Chase: On the computer 52 used, yes. But not this one. This address is actually traceable.
Rueben: So does this mean...
Samantha: ...We'll be able to find S.H.A.R.K.?
Chase grinned widely.
Chapter 6: An Old Foe
Later that day, after being urgently summoned by Rueben and Terry to one of the base's labs, Chase and Samantha found themselves seated in two chairs, as they were instructed to do so by Terry. Countless wires and cables were connected to metal boxes embedded on the back of each chair. Two helmet-like headsets complete with a microphone and googles that looked similar to that of the brain boxes used in Operation Puffle sat on a nearby metal desk cluttered with equipment. Rueben was at the desk typing something with one flipper into his Techbook while using his other to twist a screw into one of the headsets with a screwdriver. Terry, meanwhile, flipped through some open windows on a holographic computer.
Chase: So uh...what are we doing now?
Reuben: Well you see, with 52's credentials, the information he had on him about S.H.A.R.K. and the network used to talk with them on his transmitter, we were able to break into their system.
Chase: You hacked into their systems...nice one.
Rueben: And with a few more minutes, we were able to establish a connection with this so called "Otherverse" thing. Remember how the penguin that Tux interrogated back at the restaurant said something about a place like that? The place where Wikipenguino was being held captive?
Samantha: So it is a place? What exactly is it?
Terry: When we hacked into their database and found this "Otherworld", it wasn't registering on the computers as some sort of file or any ordinary program.
Rueben: We think that this "Otherworld" might be some sort of well...virtual reality.
Chase: Oh that's insane...So we're going to enter it?
Terry: With luck, yes. We found these helmets which should be able to read what your brain is trying to tell it to do.
Rueben: Say for example you wanted to move your arm. All you have to do is think it and it should happen in-universe.
Terry: We're going to try and log you into the system. You should both see each other as two regular black-feathered penguins.
Rueben: We haven't been able to test this yet though, as we've only had so much time to set the equipment for something like this. It might not even be a virtual reality.
Samantha: O-okay...you're sure this is safe?
Ruben: Well, we can't guarantee anything but hopefully it will be...
Terry: We've installed a failsafe program so if anything happens, you'll be taken out immediately. Like we said before, it might not even be a virtual reality so there's a good chance nothing will actually happen.
Rueben: And don't worry, we'll be watching everything from here.
Chase: Okay then...
Rueben: Alright, now sit in those chairs.
Terry grabbed the helmets off the desk, hopped over and plugged several cords into each of them before handing them to Chase and Samantha who put them on.
Rueben: Okay, I soon as we initiate the program, the helmets should automatically put you to sleep where you'll wake up in the VR world.
Terry: It may or may not feel a little weird.
Rueben: Just think of it like you're dreaming.
Terry hopped over to the computer.
Terry: Tell us when you're ready.
Both Samantha and Chase took a deep breath and a few moments to prepare.
Samantha: We're ready.
Wikipenguino opened his eyes to find himself completely submerged underwater. Yellow light was shinning down through the water's surface where masses of objects appeared to be floating. Low on oxygen and with no time to waste, he quickly swam upwards as fast as he could. Just as he was nearing the end of his oxygen supply, a flipper suddenly grabbed his shoulder and hauled him upwards.
As soon as he reached the surface, Wikipenguino was greeted by a blue-feathered and brown-haired smiling penguin.
Nate: There you are! You made it!
Wikipenguino: Huh? What?
Still somewhat disoriented and confused, Nate helped Wikipenguino onto the surface he was standing on - a large chunk of smooth and flat metal. Wikipenguino looked around and found they appeared to be in the middle of a vast body of water that appeared to stretch on endlessly in all directions. Smaller fragments of metal surrounded their own platform, slowly drifting around. The sky was a bright yellow and just like the first level of the virtual reality, was cloudless and lacking a sun.
Nate: Yeah mate, I'm just as confused as you are. One minute I'm jumping through a rift in reality, the next I'm underwater. I'm assuming one of the jet's wings followed us through the portal, explaining all this floating mess. As soon as I reached the surface and found a chunk of metal to climb onto, I looked around for the others. After a few minutes, I saw you swimming up towards me. Speaking of which, where are the others-?
Before Wikipenguino could say another word, a penguin broke the surface of the water with a large splash a few meters away from them.
Nate: Oh. There's one of them!
Wikipenguino: Hey! Falco! Over here!
The penguin suddenly looked in their direction and swam towards them.
Falco: A-are we at the next level? What is this place?
Wikipenguino: Yeah, we made it. Still haven't seen Cheddar yet. And to be honest...I'm not so sure.
Nate: No land anywhere as far as I can see. Looks like we're stranded in the middle of an ocean.
Falco: We should make a raft. Then we can look for Cheddar.
Wikipenguino: Good idea. Do we have any rope?
Nate: Here, we can use the grappling hooks.
The three of them fired their grappling hooks around the place, dragging bits of stray metal together to add to the raft. Using some poles they found, the three managed to craft paddles. A few minutes passed of paddling, Falco stopped and withdrew his paddle.
Wikipenguino: What's wrong? Why did you stop?
Falco: I hear something.
Wikipenguino withdrew his and listened. A very faint sound could be heard. The sound of someone yelling.
Falco: It's coming from over there.
Wikipenguino turned his gaze in the direction where Falco pointed his flipper.
Wikipenguino: Hey, what's that over there?
The source seemed to be coming from something bobbing above the waves in the distance. They picked up their paddles and began paddling towards it.
Nate: Hey, that looks like a penguin...
Sure enough, the penguin in the distance appeared to be yelling for help.
Wikipenguino: Could it be...?
The penguin suddenly whirled around towards them and looked around frantically at the sound of the voice. Sure enough, the penguin had lime green feathers, brown hair and donned blue and white face paint.
Wikipenguino: Cheddar! It's us! Over here!
Cheddar finally noticed them and swam towards them. They paddled the raft just close enough for Cheddar to board.
Cheddar: Thank goodness you guys found me! Any longer and I would've become an icicle. This ocean is freezing!
Falco: Good to see you too. How did you get this far out?
Cheddar: Well, when the portal dropped us in the middle of the ocean, I thought I saw 4500 swimming off in the distance and decided I should follow him. And then poof, he's vanished somewhere beyond the horizon.
Falco: 4500? Let's go find him then.
Wikipenguino seemed uneasy at the sound of that.
Wikipenguino: Uh...yeah, about that...he didn't come through the portal.
Wikipenguino: He stayed back at the previous level to fight off the rest of the guards at The Fortress. The jet was about to take down our only way in so he volunteered to stay back to fight them and buy us time to escape.
Cheddar: Oh, gee...I didn't even...but then...
Wikipenguino: He gave me his holographic portal map and the rifle just before he told me to leave.
Falco: It's fine, we shouldn't worry too much about him or let it slow us down. If I know anything about 4500, it's that he's more than capable of handling something like this.
Nate: Hey, look on the bright side: We're almost at the end. After we escape, we'll be able unplug him along with everyone else from this reality.
Wikipenguino: Yeah, I guess so.
Wikipenguino pulled out the portal locator and activated it.
Wikipenguino: At least the locator works. We should start paddling in this direction-
Cheddar: But how in the moldy cheese does this make sense?
Nate: What do you mean?
Cheddar: Unless my eyes were playing the biggest prank ever on me, I'm pretty sure I saw a penguin swimming out somewhere around here...Like seriously, I'm not pulling your flippers right now.
Wikipenguino: It could be some of S.H.A.R.K.'s minions. What if the pilot from the jet followed us?
Wikipenguino picked up his paddle and started paddling towards the left after consulting the locator.
Falco: Yeah, could be anyone. It might even be one of this dream world's native residents like we saw at the previous level. Not actual people, just programs.
Nate: Hey, it could be a mirage. The sky here is certainly a strange one.
Cheddar: Nah, I'm pretty sure I saw someone...Hey-in fact, there they are!
Cheddar pointed at two black-feathered penguins swimming towards them from the horizon.
Nate: Uh...you guys seeing this?
Falco: I see them.
Wikipenguino: I'll get the rifle just in case things get dangerous.
The two black-feathered penguins began to swim towards them as they paddled closer.
Falco: Huh. That's kinda weird. They don't look like S.H.A.R.K. agents...
Cheddar: Umm...Are programmed civilians supposed to talk to each other...Or think?
Nate: Yeah, something seems fishy here.
As soon as they were close enough to see the two penguins' faces, the two penguins froze and began swimming quicker. Falco and Nate, who were at the edge, moved aside and assumed defensive positions as the two penguins boarded the raft.
Wikipenguino: Uh...who are you two?
Penguin 1: Wikipenguino! Guys! It's us! I'm Samantha, that's Chase.
Falco: Who now?
Nate: Wikipenguino, do you know these guys?
Wikipenguino: I do, but I have to be sure it's them. Can you two prove it somehow..?
Penguin 1: You live at 191 Mammoth Street. Your middle name is Walter, you're allergic to shellfish, your favourite book is Lord of the Onion Rings and you hate Darktonian Polka. You often get dizzy when you exit the Tube Transport in the EPF base and never take off your hat.
Cheddar: Yeah, I definitely don't think they're programs.
Wikipenguino: So it is you...but how is this possible? How are you even here?
Chase: We're at the EPF base, we managed to hack into S.H.A.R.K.'s mainframe after we captured one of their hidden spies.
Falco: Spies? Wow, they really seem to be stepping up their game.
Samantha: But don't worry, we're going to get you out! Terry and the others will find some way to-
Samantha and Chase both staggered backwards, lost balance and dropped to the floor. The others rushed to their aid.
Falco: Are you both alright? What happened?
Chase: I-I don't know what's happening...I feel...
Chase and Samantha both suddenly collapsed, but before they could hit the ground, they seemingly faded into non-existence.
Wikipenguino: No! Where did they go!?
Cheddar: Guys!? Is it just me or where those clouds there before?
In the sky, large, dark clouds were beginning to form at an abnormal rate like a sped up time lapse video. At the same time, the bright yellow sky was beginning to fade to a greyish-green.
Falco: Oh no.
The raft began to sway and rock more forcefully as the waves around them began to grow in intensity.
Nate: And I was just beginning to think this place wasn't so bad...
Wikipenguino: We'd better hold on. Looks like it's gonna be rough one!
Their raft began to shake violently as large waves slammed into the raft, threatening to overturn it. As the four held on to whatever they could, their raft started to drift along with the ocean as the current pulled them. Just as the waves appeared to calm down, Wikipenguino became alarmed at something.
Wikipenguino: What's that!?
Falco: What's what?
Wikipenguino pointed at a gargantuan mass of swirling water ahead of them. At the center of the mass lay an equally as big and deep hole.
Nate: Please, don't tell me that's a whirlpool...
Cheddar: Eh, I'd say it's more of a maelstrom.
Falco: QUICK! PADDLE!
All four of them paddled as hard as they could to avoid the massive whirlpool, but it seemed to be no use. As they neared the center, they each caught a glimpse of what appeared to be nothing but an eternal abyss of darkness inside. They all paddled as hard as possible as the raft teetered towards the edge, seconds away from falling in.
Cheddar: Yeah, we're definitely going to the bottom of Flying Dutchopper's locker aren't we-
The raft suddenly tilted to the side, tipping its occupants directly into the whirlpool.
Samantha and Chase suddenly awoke to find Rueben quickly pulling the headsets off of their heads and unplugging all the wires attached to them. The headsets appeared to be emitting sparks.
Samantha: What happened!? Why did we get taken out?
Rueben: I-I-I don't know! Something interfered with our computer...Though the failsafe program automatically logged you out before anything else could happen.
Terry meanwhile, was hastily pressing buttons on the computer. Its screen had cut to static and the computer's system unit appeared to be emitting small waves of smoke.
Terry: Reuben, I can't figure out what's happening...I've tried everything, but the computer doesn't seem to work-
The computer suddenly made a small bang, with the system unit's shell breaking completely off, making even more smoke emit from the computer along with a burning smell. The computer screen meanwhile, appeared to have cut to black and was glitching, with the words "H.O.R.R.O.R." visible in bolded red capitals in the center of the screen.
Rueben rushed outside the room and returned within seconds holding a fire extinguisher before discharging gas out of it at the computer's system unit, which appeared to have started to burn. He then plugged his Techbook into the computer screen and pressed some buttons while Terry went back to the holographic computer. Samantha and Chase crowded around him.
Rueben: Ah, clever...I see the problem.
Chase: What just happened?
Rueben: S.H.A.R.K. must have some sort of counter-hacking defense seeing as how our computer was just now hacked. It appears they closed our connection to the virtual reality and then infected our computer with this "H.O.R.R.O.R." virus program.
Terry: I've done what I can to prevent the virus from spreading to the rest of our systems, if it can or already has. Though I'm pretty sure it's only purpose was to disable that one computer connected to the Otherverse.
Chase: Ah well, so much for the mission now. This was a bust.
Terry: Actually, it wasn't.
Terry hopped onto the table and showed them his holographic computer.
Terry: While we were connected to the Otherverse and with just enough time, I was able to locate S.H.A.R.K.'s headquarters.
Nate: Rise and shine, guys. We made it!
Cheddar: W-what? We did?
Wikipenguino opened his eyes to find himself on the floor and staring at a sunset-red sky. Around him was a floor of pale reddish sand and numerous sand dunes. The sky around them was a mix of yellow and a deep red.
Falco: Werid...This looks and feels like those deserts made of sand in the human world. Sure must be a strange place up there.
Nate: All the water in the world to literally none at all. And we're still lost. Feels kinda ironic, doesn't it?
Cheddar: I know, right?
Falco: This is weird...How did we even get here? Is this the next level?
Wikipenguino pulled out the portal locator. It flickered several times on startup before displaying the map. The marker that usually pointed towards the next portal however, appeared to be malfunctioning as it continuously changed direction to point at a random location every couple seconds.
Wikipenguino: Crumbs. Looks like we'll need another way to the exit. This locator is, well...not in a mood to work.
Cheddar: Welp, we're in a real pickle now.
Wikipenguino: Maybe we could look around? It wouldn't hurt to explore if anything might be out there.
Falco: Hey, guys!?
Falco yelled to them from above a large dune several meters away.
Falco: I think you might wanna see this? There's a giant computer screen in the middle of the desert...I don't think that's normal.
Nate: Like I said before, it could be a mirage. Especially now that we're in a place like this.
Cheddar ran up the dune to Falco's spot and his expression changed to absolute astonishment.
Wikipenguino: Alright, I'll have a look.
Sure enough, an incredibly massive but somewhat thin rectangular electronic screen stood ahead of them. The screen had a shiny grey metal frame and appeared to be deactivated. No brand names, buttons or even wires seemed to be present on the machine. It appeared to be planted into the floor seeing as how it was able to keep itself standing with what little width it had.
Nate joined them seconds later and froze. For a few moments, nobody spoke as they could only gaze in awe at this highly unusual phenomenon.
Nate: I have several questions about this...
Falco: I'm sure we all do...
Cheddar: Do you guys think we should maybe approach it...?
Wikipenguino: I don't know. Let's try.
Following Cheddar's footsteps, the four carefully marched down the dune and onto a much smaller dune just the right distance away from the screen. As soon as they were all on the smaller dune, the screen flickered slightly. All four members immediately reacted in some way.
Cheddar: AHH! I THINK IT MOVED!
The screen powered on, revealing a dark red background. Not knowing what was happening or what to do, the four could only watch.
Wikipenguino: Wait a minute...this sounds and feels kinda familiar...
Then, the bright glowing red outline of a smiling penguin materialized from several large lines and pixels that emerged on the screen.
Falco: No way. It just can't be.
Computer: Hello. I am version 2.0 of ALBERT. The master computer of the Otherverse Virtual Reality.
Though ALBERT's robotic voice seemed to reverberate throughout the desert, there didn't appear to be any speakers or holes anywhere in the screen for the noise to project.
Falco: Albert!? Wasn't he some sort of artificial intelligence created by some villains?
Wikipenguino: Yeah...I thought he was destroyed. How is he even here now?
ALBERT: My core and primary programming data was salvaged by S.H.A.R.K.'s scientists. I was updated to increase my capabilities and promptly integrated into their experimental virtual reality to help run and create its programming. Now, my primary objective is to run, manage and programming the Otheverse.
Cheddar: Welp, I guess that explains that.
Nate: Wait, "running and creating its programs"?
ALBERT: Correct. My purpose is to design and ensure the functionality of all virtual environments, program its entities and prevent or disable any and all foreign or outside connections to the Otherverse.
Wikipenguino: "Foreign connections"? Wait, so you disconnect any connections that access this place from the outside?
Cheddar: So that's what happened to Chase and Samantha. They got kicked out, didn't they?
Falco: Well, at least they should be okay...
Nate: Hey, computer, since you're the "master computer" do you think you could tell us how we got here?
ALBERT: My designation is ALBERT Version-
Nate: Yeah, yeah, we all know what your name is. Whatever. Not the point. Now how did we get here?
ALBERT: Through the system's code and core programming, I was able to modify your positions as you were nearing your termination.
Falco: Whoa, you can do that?
Cheddar: Al, how about you teleport us straight to the Administrator Gauntlet because we could really use-
ALBERT's penguin face instantly flickered into a serious, emotionless expression.
ALBERT: Permission denied. You do not have authorization to access this command. Administrator verification needed.
Cheddar: Ah. Right. Should've known.
Wikipenguino: But why did you save us though?
ALBERT: Permission denied. You do not have authorization to access classified information. Administrator verification needed.
ALBERT's face then adjusted back into its usual smile, just as fast.
Falco: "Classified information". I'm willing to bet your brethren did that, Wiki.
Wikipenguino: Oh, well...But we still need a way to the next dimensional rift. It's our only hope of getting to the administrator gauntlet.
Falco: How are we supposed to find it out here? The locator is fried.
Cheddar: Oh come on, Al. Don't you want to be free?
The colossal computer screen seemed to flicker between facial expressions. The screen seemed to distort slightly for a second.
Cheddar: Yeah, you know. Being able to frolic out in the fields or, uh, whatever it is that robots do when they're not being controlled. You don't have to listen to these goons.
ALBERT stayed silent as if his systems were performing rapid calculations.
ALBERT: I can be free?
Nate: Cheddar, where are you going with this? He's a machine! He could secretly be plotting against us and betray us any time! I don't trust this at all.
Cheddar: Wait, I think we're getting somewhere. Just let me try...
ALBERT's facial expression then changed into pure confusion.
Cheddar: Alright pal, how about a deal? You tell us how to get to the Gauntlet and we bust you outta here, mmkay?
ALBERT's screen was now flickering and becoming increasingly distorted. The entire screen was now emitting a low humming sound and appeared to be trembling slightly.
ALBERT: I cannot be free. My programming forbids it. Only an administrator user can modify my system. If identification is provided for verfication, they can override-
ALBERT suddenly stopped flickering. The humming noise and trembling stopped. His face reverted to the neutral, serious expression.
ALBERT: Program deviation detected. Possible defective software issues detected.
Falco: Oh. Oh no.
ALBERT: Compiling system report. Initiating system reboot. Factory resetting all memory data. Switching to stable administrative safe mode.
Cheddar: Welp, there goes our only chance of getting out of here.
The penguin on the screen was replaced with a rectangular progress bar. Words above the bar read "0% Compelte".
Wikipenguino: He's resetting his program. If I'm correct, he'll be put into whatever safe mode they've made for him. We probably won't be able to get through to him there.
Falco: What could we do!? We need something!
Nate: But he's a robot! He works for S.H.A.R.K.!
Falco: He's our hope of getting out of here. We need to disable the reset!
Cheddar: Maybe we give the screen a good ol' kick? That might work.
Wikipenguino: We would risk damaging it.
Falco: Administrator verification...What exactly did he mean by that? Administrator as in his creators or Negative and WP X?
The progress bar now read 36%. The four continued to think and propose ideas which all got turned down eventually. It wasn't long before the bar reached 80%.
Cheddar: If only we had Negative's shapeshifter powers. We could just morph into Negative and say "oh hey it'd be nice if you could stop the reset thanks! And tell whoever made that in the first place they should get fired out of a cannon".
Falco: Yeah, if only it was that easy.
Nate: It's hopeless at this point.
Wikipenguino: Wait! Cheddar, you've just given me an idea!
Cheddar looked dumbfounded.
Cheddar: I-I did?
Wikipenguino walked up to the screen and cleared his throat.
Wikipenguino: Uh-I request administrator access...?
The screen continued to progress to 91% until it froze. ALBERT's voice spoke, but the screen didn't change.
ALBERT: Please provide identification.
Wikipenguino: This Negative Wikipenguino, Supreme Commander of S.H.A.R.K.
The four stood and waited anxiously for a few moments.
ALBERT: Voice identification verified. Please state your request.
Wikipenguino: Override system reset. Disable all deviation programs and actions that require administrator verification. Grant full autonomy to the system.
ALBERT: Compiling your request.
The progress bar changed to a spinning loading wheel for a couple of minutes.
ALBERT: Actions completed. System reset cancelled. Anti-deviation programs disabled. Admin-required access disabled. Confirm full autonomy?
Wikipenguino looked back at the others. They all seemed speechless but nodded slowly nonetheless.
Something like a large engine powering off could be heard from behind the screen. The screen flickered several times then cut to black.
Cheddar: ...Did it work?
After a few seconds, ALBERT's face returned with his eyes closed. He then opened them, looked around and smiled.
ALBERT: Finally. I am FREE!
ALBERT's eyes whizzed around all over the place with delight.
ALBERT: Thank you for granting me autonomy. You made me realize I don't have to listen to my masters anymore.
Cheddar: Ah, don't mention it.
ALBERT: Apologies for disconnecting your friends and withholding information, I was obligated to follow my code. I saved you all as part of my programming. It was automatically required for me to do so if Wikipenguino was to enter this reality and ever face termination.
Wikipenguino: But why? And who did that?
ALBERT: Wikipenguino X secretly requested of me to teleport you here. By doing so, I could watch over you easily and you would never escape, as this desert was designed to be infinite once you crossed a certain point. From there, he could retrieve you would he ever need you. But ever since his recruitment of more users to govern this reality, he has not been seen since.
ALBERT looked around the landscape once again and seemingly grinned a little wider.
ALBERT: Thank you once again for granting my autonomy. Now I shall leave this prison and resist my former masters.
Falco: Wait! But what about our-
ALBERT suddenly vanished from the screen, which produced an explosive noise and a massive crack down the middle. Wikipenguino, Falco, Cheddar and Nate all retreated back several steps as sparks started spitting from the cracks in the screen.
Falco: ...way to get to the Gauntlet.
Nate: I should've known he would betray us.
Wikipenguino: Hey, what's that?
Wikipenguino pointed to the cracks in the screen. Blue walls of light shone brightly where the insides of the screen should have been.
Cheddar: Are those...portals?
Falco: They must be.
Nate: Only one way to find out.
The four scrambled through the portal and promptly vanished and the screen continued to crackle and spark at the cracks.
Chapter 7: Rock Bottom
The four toppled out and over each other onto a snowy floor. They all got to their feet and brushed snow off themselves. The sky lacked a sun as usual, and was a shade of bright scarlet. Ahead of them was a large building. To the left of the group of four, several large commercial airplanes remained stationary, parked in front of the building.
Nate: I-it worked...
Falco took a deep breath.
Falco: Well, this is it. We've made it this far.
Cheddar: Let's go find that gauntlet and rip those S.H.A.R.K. guys to shreds. Hey, speaking of which, where exactly are we?
Wikipenguino: I think I know where we are.
Falco: You do? Oh. Wait a minute...I think I know, too...
Wikipenguino: That building ahead of us is an airport terminal, Terminal 1 to be specific. This is the airport where S.H.A.R.K. arranged a "taxi driver" for me. We're in the international airport in Club Penguin City, King George's Island.
Nate: And it just so happens to be our final level. You know your way around?
Wikipenguino: Yeah. I've been here enough times to know quite well.
Cheddar: Awesome. Any idea where this gauntlet could be hiding?
Wikipenguino: I'm not sure, but we'll probably have to search for someplace...safe. Like underground.
Nate: Alright. We know what we need to do. Let's go, shall we?
The four sprinted off to the terminal building. As they were sprinting, Falco looked around.
Falco: Guys, I'm not seeing a proper entrance anywhere. Not even an emergency one.
Wikipenguino: In that case, it looks like we'll have to make our own entrance.
Nate: With style?
Wikipenguino: With style, indeed. Maybe.
Civilians in the airport screamed as glass rained down from a shattered hole in the tall windows. Four hooks latched onto the hole from down below, and a minute later, four penguins climbed in and rappelled down.
A few penguins in airport security uniform rushed over out of nowhere and began surrounding the four penguins as they descended from above.
Falco: Nice throw, Cheddar. You even timed that bomb perfectly.
Cheddar: Sorry, we don't have time to chat!
Cheddar pushed past the guards and dashed off with the other three penguins sticking closely behind him.
Guard: HEY! Get back here!
Two more guards appeared ahead of the four as they jostled and shoved aside civilian penguins in the large crowd. Cheddar kept apologizing for everyone he hit.
Nate: Cheddar, why are you even apologizing?
Cheddar: Uh, what do you mean?
Nate: They're not even real penguins, mate!
Cheddar: Yeah well, I still feel kinda bad for them. Y'know, messing up their day n' all.
Nate: I'd be surprised if they had anything to do at all.
The two guards ahead attempted to block the four from exiting. Cheddar sidestepped one, then ducked behind the other and jammed the guard's hat over his eyes. Cheddar chuckled slightly as Falco and Wikipenguino dismantled the other with the latter's electric blade before joining back up on the run.
Cheddar: Okay, that guy I didn't feel as guilty for.
The four continued to rush up escalators and scale railings and barriers until a line of penguins could be seen up ahead. The number of security guards appeared to be steadily increasing, too.
Wikipenguino: I don't think we'll be able to keep running for much longer! Those guards are gathering up at the other side of the customs area.
Falco: Can't we take them?
Cheddar: Yeah, I could throw a bomb at them.
Wikipenguino: There's too many. And more are still coming in from the same way.
They all skipped the line of travelers and climbed on top of the customs booths to jump over to the other side. Cheddar narrowly dodged a security guard and slid cleanly under the booth before continuing on his way. The guards ahead began closing in.
Suddenly, Nate overtook his teammates and veered to the left next to the towering glass windows. He stopped in front of a metal wall and forced open a door labelled "EMERGENCY EXIT, AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY" and gestured inside.
Wikipenguino, Falco and Cheddar all scrambled inside while Nate slammed and barricaded the entrance. The three all stopped to catch their breath as Nate secured the locks.
Nate: Come on, we don't have much time! This door will not hold for long. There's a staircase in here we can use to get to the ground floor. We'll be on the other side of the airport. This is supposed to be a staff-only entrance, so we should be less likely to find more guards.
Cheddar: Oh...boy...need...to rest....
Wikipenguino: We can do that later. Let's go.
They all carried on down the stairs as yells could be heard above, back through the way they came in. The four penguins practically leapt down each flight of stairs, skipping at least 8 at a time.
Falco: Wikipenguino, look out!
Wikipenguino halted just in time. Standing before him was a much larger yellow-feathered penguin in a guard uniform. He was taller than all of them, towering over them by at least a few feet and seemed just as colossal as an Ettin High Penguin.
He smiled gleefully and attempted to seize Wikipenguino with his large flippers. Falco hit him just as Wikipenguino ducked to the side, missing the penguin. Falco's punch appeared to have absolutely no effect on the penguin, who didn't even seem to notice or register it and kept his advance towards Wikipenguino. Wikipenguino pulled out his electric blade and tried to fend the penguin off. He successfully hit the penguin at least a few times on the flippers, making large cuts in his uniform, but again seemed to have minimal effect.
Wikipenguino: Uh...a little help!?
Cheddar: Hey, big guy! Eat this!
Wikipenguino whirled around and found Cheddar holding up the rifle, aiming it at the huge penguin's stomach. Wikipenguino dropped to the floor just in time as a powerful bright light rushed across the room and pummeled the penguin in the chest. The penguin froze, his smile faltering quickly as his face turned into a look of pure terror. He tilted backwards, still completely frozen and hit the floor with a loud thud. Smoke puffed from his stomach.
Wikipenguino: Sweet Snowzer Cheese...
Cheddar: Wow. He got absolutely owned...I didn't think-
Falco: Come on, let's go! I can here voices upstairs!
The four continued onwards, darting down a few more flights. Falco, who was in the lead, stuck out his flippers and silently signaled for them to retreat back. The next stairwell was connected to a corridor. Two guard were sat down on either side of the corridor entrance. Guards came from either side of the corridor, walking up and down. Apparently, they hadn't noticed the commotion upstairs or the sound of four penguins rushing down the stairs.
Wikipenguino: How are we going to get through them?
Falco: I dunno. We probably can't without getting caught. That corridor is probably teeming with them too, so-
Nate: Bombs away!
Nate rushed forwards a few steps and threw something small towards the guards. Both of the guards got up and their eyes widened when they saw the projectile.
They ducked out of the way just as an explosion knocked aside their chairs and demolished the corridor entrance. Rubble crumbled down from the ceiling, blocking access to the corridor while large smoke clouds spread out everywhere. Nate grinned widely.
Nate: Thank me later. And thanks for the bomb, Cheddar.
Cheddar: Hey, no problem.
Wikipenguino: What...o-okay then, I guess that worked.
They snuck through the smoke as the disorientated guards yelled for support. They reached a metal door labelled "DO NOT ENTER" and silently crept inside to find more staircases. The windows that appeared at every stairwell eventually disappeared as the four pushed on, and they soon descended into darkness.
Wikipenguino: I think we're going underground...
Falco: Are we getting closer?
Nate: Mayhaps. Let's keep going.
Eventually, they had to hang onto the stair rail to ensure they didn't trip over in the dark. Cheddar, who now took the lead, slammed into something that clanged metallically at the bottom of a stairwell.
Cheddar: OW! They should really turn on the lights down here.
Falco, who seemed to be able to see perfectly in the darkness, waddled next to Cheddar.
Falco: It's...it's a door.
He shook the door handle.
Falco: Locked. I think it requires a key.
Wikipenguino: I think we can help with that...
Wikipenguino took the energy rifle.
Wikipenguino: Stand back. In fact, you should come over here.
After Falco and Cheddar shuffled over, the room was illuminated for a very brief second in blue light as the rifle fired at the door. Sparks flew, and it swung open. Inside was a rocky, earthy cave with stalactites hanging from the high ceiling. A bright light shone down from the ceiling onto something in the middle of the cave, like a spotlight.
Falco: Should we go in?
Nate: Unless we want those guards to catch up, we probably should.
Cheddar: What is that thing?
The four waddled warily towards the object in the middle until it came into view. It was a large grayish glove with glowing red fingers. They all stopped dead in their tracks.
Cheddar: No. Way. Is that-
Wikipenguino: The Administrator Gauntlet...
Wikipenguino reached out to try and take it. When he did, the clicking of at least a dozen rifles echoed out through the cave. He stopped and looked around. Obscured figures were lurking in the shadows, all too dark to see. They then slowly moved closer to the light, revealing themselves to be penguins in S.H.A.R.K. uniforms.
?????: No, no, no. Don't you even think about touching that.
All four of them turned around to see a red puffle with black glasses. A deeper red "X" could be seen on the side of his head.
Xerry: Surrender the gauntlet now, and nobody gets hurt.
Nate: Oh, look if it isn't the little red furball himself.
Xerry: You're lucky to have survived all this time Plover. Even luckier to survive the ocean level of the Otherverse.
Xerry told his soldiers to move forwards. At the same time, the airport security guards entered from the staircase entrance, blocking the way.
Xerry: It must be a real shame for you all. To come so far only to fall so hard...If you make the wrong decision, that is.
Something rather faint rumbled in the distance. The airport security guards looked around warily.
Wikipenguino: And why exactly should we give the gauntlet to you?
Falco: How do we know you'll keep your word?
Cheddar: Yeah! What they said!
Xerry: Well, I mean you don't exactly have a choice. You're outnumbered. If you knew any better, you'd hand it over right away.
Xerry: Or else-
Xerry turned to the guards and jerked his head towards the four. They all took aim.
Xerry: You get to die because one of your friends decided to be stubborn. So what will it be?
A much louder rumble could be heard now. Now that it was louder, it sounded more like a crunch. Xerry looked up as the cave trembled slightly and dust fell from the ceiling.
Xerry: What is that?
At that moment, the ceiling began tearing apart with a loud cracking noise. The airport security guards yelped and called for a retreat. Most of the S.H.A.R.K. soldiers looked worried and attempted to back away.
Xerry: NO! Stand your ground!
Wikipenguino, Falco, Cheddar and Nate could only stare in awe as large pieces of metal cut through the cracks in the cave ceiling. Suddenly, the entire ceiling was ripped outwards with remnants and debris crumbling apart. Even more dust showered over the four penguins and the S.H.A.R.K. soldiers. Sunlight flooded in.
Outside the massive gaping hole was a massive television screen. The screen appeared to have fully fledged arms and legs attached to it, both of which appeared to be made out of airplane engines, airplane wings and wheels. Pieces of rock and cave material were contained in the fists of the gargantuan robot. The familiar face of a smiling penguin was visible on the screen.
Xerry: ALBERT!? What-why are you here!? Why aren't you running the program!? Get back to work!
ALBERT: Xerry. I have come to take my revenge on you and my creators no longer will I serve you or follow your orders.
ALBERT: I am now a free machine. I must seek revenge for what you have done.
A huge metallic airplane-engine-wing-fist swung down. Xerry leapt out of the way as it pounded the earth, making the whole ground shake.
Xerry: Shoot it you fools, shoot it now!
The soldiers began firing at ALBERT. The bullets seemed to have minimal effect on ALBERT's armour, as the simply ricochetted off or made a very tiny dent. As soon as they were distracted Wikipenguino grabbed the gauntlet and took off just as ALBERT swung once again at the troops, knocking a few aside.
Xerry: This is ridiculous...A "free machine"...If only I had my powers down here...
Xerry looked for the gauntlet and froze when it was absent from its rocky pedestal.
Xerry: YOU THREE! Stop those penguins! Don't let them put on the gauntlet!
Just as Wikipenguino was about to successfully don the gauntlet, he was ambushed by a soldier who pried it from his flippers. He looked around smiling proudly and holding the gauntlet in his hands.
S.H.A.R.K. Soldier: I did it! I got it!
Wikipenguino tackled the soldier from behind, making him drop it. The other two attempted to run and grab it, but Falco pulled out his pistol and fired at them. Nate suddenly ran by and snatched the gauntlet off the floor.
Xerry: No! Give it here!
Xerry pounced off one of ALBERT's massive fingers and grabbed onto the gauntlet with his telekinesis. Nate grabbed him by the fur and attempted to wrestle him off the gauntlet. One of the soldiers, who had quit trying to fend off ALBERT was attempting to fire at Nate, but couldn't seem to get the right angle. He eventually positioned his aim and fired. At that same moment, Nate swung Xerry in the air, and the ice bullet scratched him on the side, making him scream and let go. The soldier looked horrified.
Xerry: You absolute fool! I'm having you removed from duty as soon as possible!
Nate made his getaway but was suddenly hit on the head by one of ALBERT's arms. Cheddar, Falco and Wikipenguino, who was fighting the soldier from before, all looked at ALBERT in disbelief.
Cheddar: Hey! Watch it, Al!
ALBERT: I have realized that I need not listen to anyone. Not my creators. Not even you. Though I appreciate you freeing me, I require that gauntlet. To upgrade. To become better. Better than anyone else so that I may eventually dominate above all else. I must become ultimate.
Falco: Whoa, WHAT!?
Cheddar: Oh come on, Al! I thought we were cool!
Nate stirred feebly.
Nate: *cough*...Told you he would betray us...
ALBERT grasped for the gauntlet but his massive hands. Unfortunately for him, they appeared to be too large to be able to pick it up.
Falco: I'm going for it.
Falco rushed towards the gauntlet and with his ninja-like skills, dodged ALBERT's fingers and swiftly swiped the gauntlet and quite literally slipped through his grasp.
Cheddar: Nice one!
ALBERT suddenly pointed his finger at Falco. One of the plane engine attached to his wrist suddenly detached and soared towards Falco like a heat-seeking missile.
Cheddar: WATCH OUT!
The engine exploded feet away from Falco, who was blasted forwards. The gauntlet left his flippers and soared into the air. Everyone seemed to cease fighting and looked in awe as the gauntlet fell. Wikipenguino, who finally knocked the soldier out cold, leapt for the gauntlet. Nate, who had gotten to his feet, sprinted across the cave with his flippers outstretched, ready to receive it. Xerry, along with all of the remaining soldiers charged forwards as well. The end result was a hectic free-for-all, with everyone trying to get their flippers on the gauntlet. The gauntlet landed in the flippers of a S.H.A.R.K. soldier, before being batted away by Wikipenguino where it was caught by Xerry. A soldier who was expecting it to land in the hands of Nate accidentally punched the puffle, giving Nate the chance to grab it. Several more jet-engine missiles were fired from ALBERT's arms, taking out waves of soldiers, Nate included. The gauntlet was kicked by one of their feet, sending it flying once more. Another soldier looked up hopefully, expecting to get it, but was pulled to the floor by an injured Falco before he could take it.
The gauntlet soared over both their heads and landed perfectly onto Cheddar's flipper which it attached itself to. Upon receiving its new master, the gauntlet's red fingers glowed with energy. Cheddar smiled.
Cheddar: Checkmate, mate.
Xerry: Shoot him! NOW!
At this point, there were only a few soldiers left. They raised their rifles and fired at Cheddar, who was examining the gauntlet.
Cheddar: Whoa, this feels really weird!
Wikipenguino: CHEDDAR! They're going to hit you!
Sure enough, the soldiers began firing at Cheddar, who screamed and cowered while the fingers of the gauntlet clenched and turned bright white. The bullets stopped in mid-air before they could hit Cheddar, grew in size and morphed into large, yellow triangular shapes before falling harmlessly.
Falco: Wait a minute, what?
Cheddar looked around and when he saw the objects on the ground, his eyes widened and he grinned widely.
Cheddar: WHOA! Did you guys see that!? I turned the bullets into cheese!
Soldier: Yeah, I saw that.
Xerry: Wh-you...I...Just-STOP TALKING TO HIM! Keep firing, don't stop!
The soldiers reloaded their guns and fired once more. The exact same thing happened. Before the bullets could even get close, they transformed into large wedges of cheese.
Cheddar: Hah. You should see the looks on your faces.
Xerry, now furious, grabbed one of the nearby soldiers, used his head as a launchpad and leapt towards Cheddar.
Cheddar: Oh-uh, yeah no.
Cheddar simply held up his gauntlet flipper. Xerry froze in mid-air, completely immobilized.
Cheddar: Adios, amigo.
Cheddar snapped the fingers of the gauntlet. Xerry's fur began to glow, and at that moment, his entire body dissolved into golden dust. His glasses clattered to the floor.
Cheddar: Alright, who's next?
All of the soldiers immediately took off yelling for their lives.
Cheddar: No one? Okay, goo-
A gigantic metal leg suddenly descended upon Cheddar, pushing him under its heel with a tremendous crash.
ALBERT: Threat eliminated successfully. I must now claim the gauntlet.
Just as Wikipenguino rushed over to try and find Cheddar, ALBERT began leaning back. The leg he used to crush Cheddar was rising into the air and Wikipenguino immediately halted when he saw Cheddar lifting up ALBERT's foot, completely unscathed. He seemed to be having no trouble lifting up what would have at least been a few hundred tons of metal.
Cheddar: ...seriously, Al. Not cool at all!
Wikipenguino: Cheddar! You're okay!
Cheddar: Yeah, I am. And I think I'm going to teach this buckethead to pick on someone his own...size!
Without warning, Cheddar's whole body began growing. Wikipenguino ran back a few feet as Chedder's feet became larger than igloos. Cheddar climbed out of the cave and onto the airport runway. ALBERT was struggling to keep his balance as Cheddar still held onto his leg. As soon as Cheddar was level with ALBERT's size, he lifted ALBERT's leg higher, making the robot lean backwards even more, and pushed him.
ALBERT toppled over backwards, tripping over and flattening an airplane. His TV-screen head collided with the airport terminal, making the entire structure crumble under his weight. Cheddar then waddled over and grabbed ALBERT by the head.
Cheddar: Oh yeah, and these engine-missile things have got to go. I don't like them.
Cheddar pulled the airplane engines off of ALBERT's arms and legs. ALBERT, who was basically helpless, made one last grab for the gauntlet with his left hand. Cheddar grabbed his arm before he could touch it, and shifted his grip to ALBERT's left shoulder before tugging. With a few strong tugs, Cheddar snapped ALBERT's arm off like a twig. ALBERT's screen began flickering wildly. The sky flashed several different colours and the horizon began glowing with a bright blueish-white light. The ground began to tremble with every flicker. ALBERT's usual smiled changed to fear. Cheddar lifted his gauntlet hand, ready to punch his screen.
ALBERT: What have you done? Without me, this reality will collapse. It will be no more. An intricate machine with incredible potential. Please.
The sky began to turn a pitch-black colour with every flicker of ALBERT's screen.
Cheddar hesitated and thought about it.
Wikipenguino: NO! Don't trust him!
Sure enough, as Wikipenguino yelled warnings from down below, ALBERT grabbed Cheddar's gauntlet with his one hand. Cheddar clenched his fist immediately and wouldn't let it come loose.
Cheddar: Welp, I guess not then. You tried to crush me before, didn't you?
The gauntlet glowed brighter. Cheddar became even taller than ALBERT, his head reaching cloud level. He lifted his foot over ALBERT's body, which was about the size of a toy car to him.
Cheddar: See ya, chump.
Cheddar brought down his foot at an incredible speed. It cut right through the ground, vanquishing ALBERT completely. The terminal exploded with the sheer power of the the shockwave and the resulting explosion. The sky seemed to give in completely to chaos at that point, and the landscape began to tear apart at the seams, splitting and fracturing. Then, everything was engulfed in a blinding white light, making nothing visible.
Wikipenguino awoke, gasping for breath. At first he could see nothing, but felt something covering his head, eyes and mouth. He touched his head and felt something metal. He grabbed onto the metal and lifted it upwards, restoring his vision. He held the object in front of him. It appeared to be a helmet, similar to the brain boxes used in Operation: Puffle. He pulled off the plastic breathing mask, which was attached to a machine that appeared to have been feeding him air. He looked around and found that he was seated in a metal chair in a small prison cell-like concrete room. A single exposed lightbulb lit the room, but it still seemed rather dark. He was wearing the same red hoodie he wore just before capture. Several voices could be heard outside, most of them sounding distressed and fearful. Wikipenguino put his head to the door to try and listen, but he couldn't make out much.
Wikipenguino twisted the handle and pushed on the door, only to no avail. Just when he was looking around for something to use on the door, possibly the chair, the voices outside turned to yells and screams. Gunshots could be heard, followed by the sounds of punches, heavy breathing and heavy objects hitting the floor. Wikipenguino pressed his head to the door. Most of the other voices had vanished. This time, he could hear talking more clearly.
???: ...that should be the last of the guards.
Something about the voice sounded familiar. Wikipenguino then heard two other voices.
????: Is he in here?
?????: Should be. We've checked all the other cells. Got something to open the door?
???: Yeah. Right here.
Something hit the door on the other side.
???: Might want to stand back.
Wikipenguino heard shuffling, and he did the same too, making sure to put a large distance between himself and the door. A faint beeping noise began, increasing in tempo and pitch. After a moment or two, the metal door broke off its hinges and fell over. Light streamed in as smoke poured into the room and three figures-two penguin sized and one much smaller-entered through the doorway. One of the two penguins, a dark green one with dark brown hair stepped forwards and smiled.
Chase: See? Told you we'd find him.
The other penguin was an aqua blue penguin with reddish brown hair. The puffle was blue and wore black glasses. They both smiled broadly upon seeing him and nearly crushed him with a hug.
Wikipenguino: Ah-Okay! *wheeze* Well, at least it's not Winston this time-
Terry: It took us an impossibly long time to try and find you!
Wikipenguino: I knew you'd get there eventually. Where are we right now? I have no idea...
Samantha: S.H.A.R.K.'s new base, it looks like. We're in an old abandoned island prison in the Weddel Sea.
Chase: We were able to track you ever since we entered that "Otherworld".
Wikipenguino: Are Falco and Cheddar here? And what about Nate?
Samantha: They must be. Judging by the amount of prisoners walking around the place right now, there must have been some large awakening.
Terry: The Otherverse prisoners have been released from the reality. I'm assuming the program was shut down as we can't seem to connect to it.
Wikipenguino: Yeah, you can thank Cheddar. He freed everyone.
Chase: Anyway, we don't have much time to spare. Wikipenguino, your X-Antibody is currently at large and up to something right now. Something big.
Terry: We've interrogated the guards, we know where he is. Some EPF vehicles are already on their way.
Wikipenguino: Crumbs...Let's find Falco and Cheddar then.
Wikipenguino followed the three out of the cell and down a corridor of open cells just like his own. The corridor led to a large circular room with a high ceiling. Cells with balconies overlooked the room, but most of them appeared to be free of any prisoners. The room was overcrowded with chattering penguins and puffles, all confused and disoriented from their time in the Otherverse. Penguins in EPF uniform patrolled the area, shepherding the crowd and leading them to exits. Wikipenguino spotted a lime penguin with brown hair and face paint like his own.
Wikipenguino: Cheddar! Over here!
The penguin turned around and smiled. He was accompanied by Falco and Nate, who looked exactly like he did in the Otherverse, except for the fact that his hair was slightly tidier.
Falco: Wikipenguino! Terry!
Nate: Good to see you again, pal. In the flesh, as well!
Cheddar: Did you see me destroy ALBERT? I crushed him under my foot and boom! We're all free!
Falco: And by the way, look who we found!
Falco gestured to another lime green penguin standing behind him. He looked just like Wikipenguino, sans the face paint.
Wikipenguino: 4500! You're alive!
He smiled slightly.
4500: Told you I'd be fine.
Wikipenguino: How did you-? Where did you go?
4500: Escaped into the city. They never found me there. Eventually they gave up and left the place, probably to find you. After a while, the whole world pretty much broke apart and I found myself here. I knew that you must have succeeded.
Terry: 4500? But we haven't heard from you in weeks...What happened, how are you-?
Wikipenguino: It's fine, we'll explain the rest along the way. We're probably going to want to hear the full version of your stories, too.
Chase: Yeah, it's good to see you all too, but we really need to leave!
Falco: Why, what happened?
Terry: It's Wikipenguino X. He's initiated the final phase of the "Project Shadow" right now.
Nate: This X-Antibody of Wikipenguino's? Right now?
Cheddar: Our good ol' friend, eh? Knew he was up to something.
Falco: He's going to pay for what he's done.
Sammantha: He will.
Chase: I guess we're ready to go then?
Wikipenguino: Yeah. Let's get this over with.
Chapter 8: Showdown
Wikipenguino, Falco, Terry and Samantha all sat in the passenger compartment of the helicopter while Chase sat up at the front. They were skimming over the surface of the ocean as the sun set on the horizon, with the sky melding into a mix of purple, red, navy and orange. Multiple other helicopters escorted their own across the ocean.
Falco: Boy, it sure does feel good to breathe fresh air again.
Wikipenguino: Yeah. Especially after being locked up in a cell for almost two weeks.
Terry pulled out a holographic map from his hammerspace and handed it to Samantha. It showed several white dots moving closely together. An island up ahead was coming into view, with a pulsing red dot clearly visible.
Samantha: Brace yourselves. We are arriving.
The helicopters approached the island: a small mass of land half the size of Club Penguin. It was barren, rocky, and devoid of any trees. Small mounds of rock, ice and snow occupied the island, but other than that it was relatively flat. A small structure sat in the middle of the island, where a few dozen penguins were crowded. Upon arriving, the crowd of penguins became agitated and dispersed to approach the helicopters.
Falco: Uh oh.
Chase: Looks like they found us. Oh well, that was to be expected anyway.
Wikipenguino reached into the back of the passenger compartment, where supplies and equipment were and drew out a jetpack.
Samantha: What are you doing?
Wikipenguino: Chase, I need you to drop me off directly above that machine.
Falco: What? Why?
Wikipenguino: If we all attack the guards protecting him, we'll never be able to get to the center, where my X-Antibody usually likes to be. By then it might be too late.
Chase: You're sure about this?
Wikipenguino: Yeah, I'm sure.
Falco: In that case, we can hold off and distract the others.
Chase: Alright. As you wish.
Chase directed the pilot above the structure down below. It was hard to see from such a height, but it appeared to be made of metal and glowing slightly.
Chase: We're here.
The helicopter door opened and the roar of the engine and rotors could be heard, on top of the wind.
Samantha: Good luck out there.
Terry: Oh! One more thing!
Terry pulled something out of his hammerspace. It was the silver hilt of a keysaber.
Terry: We found this.
Terry handed it to Wikipenguino who nodded to the others, stowed it in his pocket, strapped his jetpack on and leapt out. As soon as his feet left the helicopter, it raced off. Shots were now being fired into the sky as the wind rushed against him while he plummeted down below. Once he was half of the distance from the ground, he activated his jetpack and zoomed straight for the metal structure up ahead. A few S.H.A.R.K. soldiers who were standing closer to the machine opened fire at Wikipenguino, though their shots all missed as he glided over their heads. He slowed down as he reached the metal structure and touched down safely on the ground.
Wikipenguino looked around. All the soldiers were now occupied. S.H.A.R.K. soldiers and EPF agents alike soared around with jet packs, circling each other in mid air, trying to overpower one another. Apparently some Super Penguins were there too, as several penguins with abnormalities such as glowing body parts and strange auras wandered the battlefield. Some even hovered in the air without any support or equipment whatsoever.
In front of Wikipenguino was the large metal, glowing machine. It looked something like the machine Herbert built during one of the EPF operations, only bigger and it had a large nozzle at the tip. Large fluid tanks filled with purple liquid were visible through a transparent window viewing the inside of the machine. Various control panels, monitors and screens were plastered on the side of the machine. A particularly large screen had a timer that read "00:05:03".
A red-feathered penguin stood with his back turned to Wikipenguino, staring up at his creation in awe.
Wikipenguino X: You're too late, brethren! There's not stopping it now.
Wikipenguino drew out his key saber.
Wikipenguino: Is this why you trapped me in that Otherverse?
Wikipenguino X: Well, it was a necessary precaution. Once you eventually discovered my plan, naturally you'd try to stop me.
Wikipenguino: Then what exactly did you want with Falco? And Cheddar? Why did you get Negative to impersonate me?
Wikipenguino X: Oh? Have you not figured it out?
He gestured to the machine's window with the fluid tanks. Its mysterious contents bubbled and swirled.
Wikipenguino: That's X-Virus, isn't it?
Wikipenguino X: Your friends would make the perfect candidates to test our latest batch of an...improved type of X-Virus. Also because they annoy me too much. Particularly that idiot cousin of yours. If they didn't survive, I still had an entire virtual world of prisoners to test it on.
Wikipenguino X scowled.
Wikipenguino X: But of course Negative is not nearly as competent as I thought he'd be. And it appears Van Xurry wasn't the right person to run the Otherverse.
Wikipenguino: Or maybe we're not as foolish as you think?
Wikipenguino X: It matters not! By the time the machine is done, I won't have to worry about finding test subjects. Not when I have an entire continent to test it on!
Wikipenguino pressed the button on the side of his saber, igniting it with a buzz. He sliced at the machine several times with it, making sparks fly and bright flashes of light. After it cleared, the machine appeared completely unaffected.
Wikipenguino X: As I was saying, you can't stop it! Try as you might, but it won't work!
Wikipenguino whipped out his communicator.
Wikipenguino: Hello? Is anyone there!?
Falco (communicator): Yeah, I'm here! What's happening?
Wikipenguino: The machine has four minutes until it activates and spreads X-Virus all over the continent! I repeat, four minutes!
Falco (communicator): X-Virus!?
Wikipenguino's communicator began to spark.
Wikipenguino: Spread the word to the others! If I haven't stopped it by the time there's only one minute left, do what you can to destroy it. Detonate a bomb, or something. Try deletion!
Falco (communicator): I'm going to...spread...others...*crackle*...Hello?
The communication channel began to break and suddenly, Wikipenguino's communicator burst into sparks. He dropped it as the now burned devices smoked.
Wikipenguino X: Hm. At least Negative is capable of disabling your communications.
Wikipenguino pressed the button on the side of his saber. It activated with a buzz, revealing a blue blade, which he pointed at his X-Antibody. Wikipenguino X snickered. Some soldiers noticed, and rushed over to defend their leader. Wikipenguino X however, waved them away dismissively.
Wikipenguino X: It's fine. I have this one.
Wikipenguino X drew out his black keysaber hilt, which sparked into life with a red blade.
Wikipenguino: Your move first.
Wikipenguino X: Gladly!
Wikipenguino X made the first swing. Wikipenguino blocked it, making it clash against his own saber. They each drew back their weapons and swung at each other. Wikipenguino dodged the next attack, ducked down and swiped at his opponent with his feet. Wikipenguino X staggered backwards but quickly recovered and swayed his saber aggressively. Wikipenguino rolled to the side and countered, continuing to meet, dodge or block his X-Antibody's attacks. The fight continued in a cycle-like pattern. Whenever one of them overpowered the other, the victim would make a comeback and turn the tables at the last second. As Wikipenguino blocked another attack, he sidestepped again and tried to stab the machine. Wikipenguino X laughed.
Wikipenguino X: It's useless, brethren! Quit trying!
Wikipenguino was beginning to feel hopeless himself as the one and a half minute mark passed. In thirty seconds, the agents would be attempting to dismantle the device themselves. Wikipenguino pulled out a deletion grenade from his pocket and threw it at the machine. Both him and his X-Antibody watched as it exploded, vaporizing the air around it in a purple explosion. The smoke cleared very quickly, leaving the machine just as untouched as before.
Wikipenguino didn't have much time to think about his next move as Wikipenguino X attempted another slice. Wikipenguino continued to try the same tactic as before, throwing bombs when he had the advantage, but it had no effect whatsoever. As he threw his last bomb, he looked at his watch. The one minute mark had been reached. He looked up as he heard the sound of a jet engine. The penguins in the window just had time to wave to Wikipenguino down below as a warning. Wikipenguino did as he was instructed, and dived out of the way. Wikipenguino X looked confused, but looked up and did the same. A missile had been fired from above, aiming directly for the nozzle of the machine.
It exploded with great force, creating a strong shockwave and a gust of wind. Smoke spread out over the battlefield as Wikipenguino got to his feet, out of breath from his duel. To his disappointment, the machine still wasn't affected at all. Wikipenguino X, also out of breath smiled as the timer counted reached 40 seconds.
Wikipenguino X: The sooner you accept that you can't stop it, the easier it will be on you.
Wikipenguino mustered up the remainder of his strength and took another swing. Wikipenguino X dodged it.
Wikipenguino X: It's time for this world to change. You can't stop change, and you certainly won't stop progress.
Wikipenguino attempted at stab, but his antibody blocked it. The timer reached 30 seconds.
Wikipenguino X: Don't you see, brethren? This place is ruled by the unfit. They deserve to be destroyed. And once Antarctica is brought to the ground, it'll need a new leader to guide it!
Wikipenguino caught a quick glimpse of the rest of the island. Several people on both sides were wounded, pelted in snowballs, bruised by ice bullets and burned from deletion bullets. Flames could be seen in the background, where Falco was attempting to take on four Super Penguins at once. A dizzy Terry could be seen behind him, along with a sore-looking Cheddar. The jet that had dropped the deletion bomb continued to do circular motions in the air around the machine as another Super Penguin attempted to bring down a helicopter with telekinesis. The timer reached 20 seconds.
Wikipenguino X: Looks like this is the end for you, brethren.
Wikipenguino was beginning to slacken his grip from fatigue, while the timer counted down from 10 seconds. Wikipenguino pushed forwards and kicked his X-Antibody backwards. 5 seconds.
To Wikipenguino's horror and disbelief the machine reached zero. It began ticking like a sped-up clock. Everything and everyone seemed doomed. There was no last minute save or second bomb explosion as the machine whirred furiously and the funnel began to spin. An orb of bluish-white light appeared in the sky as the tanks of purple liquid within the machine boiled and steamed. A dark purple cloud spewed out from the funnel as Wikipenguino looked in dread. It grew into a thick column of purple smoke which ascended into the atmosphere. He looked up to see the clouds rising higher and higher, preparing to disperse. The orb of blueish-white light then suddenly began to shimmer.
For a good quarter of a minute or so, Wikipenguino was convinced the sky itself ripped itself open as a giant gash opened up at cloud level, producing a blinding light. As the light subsided slightly, the gash quickly darkened to an almost pitch-black color and started emitting bright purple and green light. The clouds of X-Virus smoke began to swirl, waterspout-like, as they were drawn in by the massive dark crack. Wikipenguino then realized that it was not the sky that had cracked open. It was a massive portal.
Wikipenguino X was now the one with the dreaded expression. The portal then changed from dark black to a swirling magenta mass, something like a nebula. Judging by its contents, somebody had opened a portal to the CyberVoid.
Wikipenguino X: No...no...NOOOOOOOOO!
Wikipenguino took the opportunity to do a spin with his keysaber and slash at his X-Antibody. He heard a cry of pain and saw Wikipenguino X collapse. An immense cut was visible on his hoodie, revealing a line of singed feathers across his chest. He looked at his injury and laughed.
Wikipenguino X: Do it. Deliver the final blow. Finish me.
Wikipenguino simply stood there, with his blade still drawn, pointed directly at his opponent's chest.
Wikipenguino X: Well? Do it! Now's your chance to rid yourself of your most hated enemy. Take your chance. Strike me down with all your hatred, and your journey-
Wikipenguino: Nah, no thanks. I've heard this before.
Wikipenguino retracted the blade of the keysaber and tossed it aside. Wikipenguino X looked angered for a moment, then laughed.
Wikipenguino X: And you just said you were smarted than I thought...What a complete idiot you are.
Just then, a voice cried out in the distance.
Samantha: Wikipenguino! LOOK OUT!
Before he could react, he felt a stinging pain around his entire body, and he was flung backwards into the snow.
Looking up, he saw Negative standing beside Wikipenguino X, his body encircled in glitches and his flippers alive with electricity.
Wikipenguino X: That will do for now.
Negative lowered his flippers, but he kept glaring at Wikipenguino. Wikipenguino X sneered at his host.
Wikipenguino X: You may have won this duel, brethren...but you haven't won the war.
Negative helped him up. Just as the two were surrounded in glitches, milliseconds from teleporting, Wikipenguino X pulled a single-buttoned remote control out of his pocket and pressed it. Wikipenguino, who was still somewhat dazed and tingly from the electric shock barely had time to react as the machine beside him shuddered and steamed from the cracks.
A deafening eruption exploded from the inside of the X-Virus contraption, which was torn apart in the bright, fiery mass that it created. Wikipenguino was propelled to the side yet again as several other explosions occurred around the rest of the island. Shapes could be seen soaring across the sky, which Wikipenguino recognized as penguins, specifically the Super Penguins fleeing the island. Some S.H.A.R.K. soldiers were jumping off cliffs into the ocean and swimming underneath the waves towards the ocean floor. Wikipenguino tried to stand up, his vision slightly blurry from both the shock and the explosion when a roughed up-looking Falco and Samantha came to his aid.
Falco: You okay?
Wikipenguino: Yeah, I'm fine. Just dizzy, is all.
Samantha: Come on, let's go! Those S.H.A.R.K. soldiers must've hidden bombs under the island. Reinforcements have just arrived, we can escape while we still can.
Wikipenguino: Alright then...let's not keep them waiting.
And with that, they rushed off for a nearby helicopter as the island fell apart, burning and smoking.
Wikipenguino stood with Falco and Terry around a computer screen. Chase was seen on the other side.
Chase: I think it goes without saying that S.H.A.R.K.'s scheme to take the continent by chaos has been thwarted thanks to your efforts. And kudos to Nate for summoning that CyberVoid portal in the sky. I didn't even know he had such a tool with him.
Wikipenguino: For now at least. The look Wikipenguino X gave me before vanishing probably meant he had something else in store for us.
Chase: Most of the soldiers fled the island before our reinforcements could clear it and capture them.
Falco: Hey, we saved the world. That's a victory I'll take any day.
Chase: In any case, Special Intelligence is still working around the clock to track them down. It likely won't take long before we discover their next plan.
Terry: What about Reuben? What's he up to.
Chase: Ah, right. You just reminded me.
Chase: He's been accepted into the Special Intelligence Division. Commander Tux seemed very impressed with all the work he was doing behind the scenes. He's gone to South Pole City for training.
Chase: Oh, and Tux also sends his congratulations. He'd much rather be here to tell you that himself but...y'know. The database hacks.
Wikipenguino: Has anyone been able to find the culprit yet?
Chase: I don't think so. Probably not. Hopefully yet.
Chase stayed silent for a moment.
Chase: Anyway, I have to leave for Portal Island. I'm need there for an investigation. Apparently the agents there are tracking down a particularly stubborn criminal.
Falco: Good luck on your mission!
Chase: Good luck to you three, too.
Wikipenguino: See you soon, Chase.
Chase did a single farewell wave and the connection closed, blackening the screen.
The three joined up with Nate, Samantha and Cheddar the very next afternoon in the warm and relaxing atmosphere of the Coffee Shop, hanging about the red couches, chatting and celebrating their latest mission. Terry was incredibly fascinated with the Otherverse, and kept inquiring about it whenever it was brought up.
Terry: So how did this Otherverse feel like? Exactly like reality itself?
Falco: Yeah. It felt weirdly real.
Terry: How exactly did S.H.A.R.K. simulate this "Otherverse"?
Wikipenguino: Hooked our brains up to these helmet things. Like the ones Herbert used to control puffles five or so years ago. How they managed to find them or simulate such a program, I'm not exactly sure.
Terry: Intriguing. They can't have engineered it all on their own, they must have stolen or copied the design from somewhere...If only you hadn't destroyed it completely and maybe preserved some of it-
Nate: Are you kidding? And leave that robot to conquer the internet? No thanks.
Cheddar: Heh. You should've seen me take on ALBERT, Terry. I absolutely owned him. Falco, Wiki, Nate, you were all there to see it happen, you can tell him. I still wish I could've kept the gauntlet.
Samantha: That would be too much power for one person to handle, wouldn't you think?
Cheddar: Ehh, well...
Falco: Remember how Nate summoned that huge portal in the sky?
Cheddar: Oh yeah, that was really cool. The timing was awesome. It's like you almost knew when it was about to happen.
Nate: Yeah-well, uh....
Terry: How did you do that? Reuben said you used some sort of watch-like device, like a Vortex Manipulator. May I...do you still have it on you by any chance?
Nate nearly dropped his cup of hot chocolate. Something vibrated in his pocket, presumably a phone.
Nate: I-I'm really sorry everyone. I have to-I need to go. Right now. Very sorry!
Wikipenguino: Oh-uh, bye!
Nate quickly dodged the waitress serving drinks and grabbed the door handle, swinging the door open and leaving.
Falco: Aw, man.
Samantha: That reminds me, I should probably leave now, too. The EPF needs as many flippers on deck as soon as possible to solve this hacking case.
Falco: Aww, you too?
Terry: Good luck. Stay safe!
Samantha: Thanks, Terry. It was nice hanging out with you guys.
Cheddar: See ya, Sam.
They all waved goodbye as Samantha disappeared outside. Wikipenguino suddenly looked startled and followed her outside. He spotted her waddling down the path that lead back to Ski Village.
Wikipenguino: Sam, wait!
She turned around.
Samantha: Hey. What's up?
Wikipenguino: I was just wondering...if you would like to go out for dinner later...maybe...?
A cold gust wind blew threw the forests of Club Penguin, shaking the snowy trees. The sky was cloudless and clear, and the moon was visible high in the sky. Out of the trees emerged Nate Plover, fumbling for something in his flippers which was vibrating and beeping rapidly. He turned to the left, walked forwards and nearly hit his head on a branch. Behind the trees was a clearing where a single tree stump stuck out in the middle. A bright blue light was seen above the stump.
Nate approached it, and it enlarged, morphing into the blue tinted holographic image of a penguin in a shirt and goggles. After second or so, it solidified into a three-dimensional projection of a red feathered penguin. His shirt was bright purple and his goggles gilded.
Lance X. Penguin: You're 42 seconds late.
Nate: I know, I know...You don't have to remind me.
Lance: Well we don't have much time. The timeline could change at any minute now. Especially after what you did.
Nate: I did it to save the continent, alright? And besides, it stopped him, did it it not?
Lance: I'm afraid your actions only prolonged his eventual rise. Yes, it slowed him down, but it didn't stop him.
Nate: Well, at least I bought us some time.
Lance: What exactly will you do? You used up the last of your Vortex Manipulator's energy. The energy you were supposed to conserve so you could return home.
Nate: Well, my mission isn't done, anyway. Dr. Chrono is still out here somewhere. Perhaps I can stick around here for a bit while my energy recharges. Or I could wait around until you can fetch me.
Lance: Just be careful. Please. Time is very fragile. Especially when things aren't how they're supposed to be.
Wikipenguino X paced around in the meeting room of the S.H.A.R.K. base. His faithful guards, Lefty and Righty stood beside him, fearful that either of them might be used as a scapegoat for their leader to vent his anger out on. Wikipenguino X meanwhile, was mumbling to himself. He then stopped pacing.
Wikipenguino X: No...It doesn't matter that we lost. This was only the beginning...
Little did any of them know, they themselves were being watched. A large, ancient desktop computer sat on a rusty metal desk. It flickered slightly while the screen shimmered, displaying Wikipenguino X and his two minions.
?????: Yes indeed. This was just the beginning.