The Julius Deception

Or, "A Factual Description of What on Earth Happened to the Commander"

"Okay, brother. This is it. No turning back. Are we in? Do we want Opal Koboi back?"

-- Mervall Brill

A sea of molten rock fanned out at the bottom of the chute and began to churn and whirl ominously. Tremors shook the area and loose rocks tumbled down from the walls, dissolving into the red, burning mass. Above the magma, a shuttle, frozen in mid-air, seemed oblivious to the impending doom about to engulf it.

Well, almost oblivious.

"We're going…to die."

Merv had quickly abandoned all hopes for a clean getaway, or rather, any getaway.

Opal, on the other hand, wasn't willing to give in so easily. After all, becoming a famous evil genius meant that you had to stay alive long enough for your dastardly plan to be carried out. If you died, then it was just as good as telling the hero that you surrendered. And above all things, Opal Koboi never surrendered.

"Merv, Scant! Take the auxillary controls. Don't touch anything." And with that, Opal situated herself in the pilot's seat while the Brill brothers sat down and were busily trying to figure out how they could man the controls without touching them.

Another rumble shook the craft. Opal tightened her fingers around the joysticks on the main controls and began to formulate her plan.

Stealth Shuttle, Booty Box:

Root waited down below, expecting the engines to kick in at any moment. Granted, it was pretty boring, but there really wasn't much else to do, seeing as the bonds on his wrists hadn't melted yet. Lili Frond dutifully reported the increase in temperature as the magma began to simmer and sizzle. It had been a very good idea for him to put his helmet on when he had, judging by the puddles of truffles which were…boiling?

"D'Arvit." This couldn't possibly be healthy.

"The temperature has now reached…" There was a pause as the computer formed the number from the voice clips it had: "One hundred…twenty-two…point five seven," Another pause. "…above standard conditions. The Lower Elements Environmental Research team has declared this level unsuitable for fairy habitation…"

Well, then. This looked hopeful.

That centaur would probably go crazy to get his hands on the data from this suit, Root laughed darkly to himself. Knowing that Foaly, paranoid beyond paranoid, had created it, the suit was probably recording all his data somewhere, too. Trust the pony to turn him into a guinea pig for one of his experiments. He could just picture Foaly munching on a carrot, musing 'And exactly how much heat is required to meltyour commander?'

"Oh, Foaly, when I get my hands on you…"

Root normally would have strangled the nearest object at hand, but given the steaming puddles as his only choice, he decided upon strangling the air instead.

"The Public Relations Department kindly requests that you refrain from any homicidal actions towards your colleagues and/or co-workers. It does not put an appealing face on the justice system. Thank you."

Frond then returned to stating the temperature.

How much more could he stand of this? Not the heat-- the suit was doing a great job taking care of that. A sudden wave of dread swept through him. Frond, I hope this suit can't read my thoughts or Foaly's going to have a field day…

Not thinking…I'm not thinking anything…Oh, D'Arvit, this is stupid.

Shaking the possibility of that off, Root decided to investigate how much the helmet had been damaged. After all, if he was going to escape he ought to be aware of all his strengths and potential weaknesses.

"Access locator."

Frond paused mid-thermometer imitation and stated:

"Access denied. Locator is offline. You are recommended to take your helmet to Foaly for repair."

Alright, it's not as though he would have expected Koboi to leave him that edge anyway. He'd just have to call back his old tunnel skills to get him out of this one, provided Koboi stopped at a hanger in the Lower Elements. Which she would. Naturally. There was no where else for her to go…

Something nagged at the back of the commander's brain. Something that he absolutely had to remember…

But before he could do any thinking at all, a large stream of heat began to pour into the booty box, hurling the gaseous truffle droplets through the air.

"D'Arvit! That always happens right before the flare." Root said through gritted teeth. Why wasn't Koboi doing anything?

Stealth Shuttle, Cockpit:

"Um, Miss Koboi?"

"Quiet, Merv."


"Scant. I need to concentrate. Shut up now."

Her voice was deadly cold. Both of the Brill brothers instantly obeyed and went back to not holding the controls. Still facing the navigation screens with a creepy smile, Opal nonchalantly said:

"I'm going to wait."

They nearly fell out of their chairs.

Scant looked horror-stricken and would have crawled under his seat if Merv hadn't restrained him at the last moment. It was the cool, almost arctic way that Opal had informed them that they were in all likelihood going to die that really got them. Hench-fairies had to put up with an awful lot in their line of work: evil geniuses insulting their intelligence, being made to do grunt work, getting trounced by the hero--but this… it was the last straw.

"Miss Koboi, there's still time for us to escape, though! Please-"

Opal shook her head curtly, leaving no room for argument. "I've made up my mind. Belt yourselves in and stop questioning my decisions!" She muttered under her breath something unintelligible.

The Brill brothers, having lost all control of the situation, resigned themselves at last to trusting their employer. There was only so far that you could push these crazy evil-types without risking certain death. Scant was still shaking like a leaf as he fearfully addressed his twin in a whisper.

"What are we going to do? We're about to be incinerated and all she can talk about is that drill…"

Merv's head snapped up. "Did you say drill?"

"No, she did. I was just repeating what I heard."

"So she said 'drill?'"

Scant nodded.

Merv gulped and scrutinized the control panel. Sure enough, he found what he was looking for: a nearly empty fuel gage.

"See that, Scant? That's the reason. We don't have enough fuel to get…"

He trailed off as he saw a spiral of magma shooting upwards and felt the engines kick into first gear.

At this point, it is necessary to include a warning about magma flares and Opal Koboi's extreme solutions to fuel problems. Every little fairy knows that magma is intensely dangerous and that flare-diving should only be attempted by trained professionals, namely, the LEP. However, once you've been through a good few pod-engineeringcourses like Opal, you not only know that magma is dangerous (and hot), but that the resulting updraft of warm air is strong enough to propel a craft from Haven to the surface. Or, more practically, to anywhere in the fairy world.

Provided that you timed it correctly. With a normal pod, timing was important, but not absolutely critical. A pod could withstand a few seconds worth of magma. With a shuttle and a holeon its underside, your timing had better be right on cue or else you're toast.

As a perk, if somehow you survive the magma, you'll be carried directly to the surface without expending a drop of fuel.

Luckily, thanks to Opal's severe and slightly scary concentration, the stealth shuttle was safely being swept upwards on a current of hot air. The engine was also off by now: she'd turn it back on when they reached their destination.

Opal remained vigilant of the controls, tweaking the shuttle's flight plan slightly. Top that, Captain Short, she thought contendedly and surveyed the cockpit. Merv and Scant both still had their eyes clamped shut and were clutching the sides of their chairs. And the prisoner…

"Merv! Scant! Check on the prisoner. And go spray the booty box with some of the emergency coolants. I don't want any residual heat causing my cargo to melt."

The twins turned around, still pale from the experience.

"But Miss Koboi, it's sure to be boiling hot down there…"

"You're a fairy. You like heat. Now get going. If the commander dies, I won't have a specimen to give to my dear father. Though," she paused sweetly, "he might like it better if I gave him a nice set of pixie twi-"

"Right away, Miss Koboi! On the double!" Both brothers shouted in unison. And off they trotted down the steamy steps into the booty box, not sure what would greet them, if anything.

Author's Note:

Well, here I am again! I know, this chapter is just basically a bridge between the plot up to now, and the big escape scene (escape scene! yay!), where people escape. (nods) It'll make more sense when the next chapter comes up.

Thank you once again to all my wonderful reviewers-- it's really your feedback that makes me stay up late into the morning and finish these, sothank you for continuing to inspire me to write more and have fun with it.It'll bea long haul, but someday Holly and Julius will end up together! (cheers and waves flag)

Right. For those of you wondering about the romance element, it's coming up. Real soon. (Trust me, this hasn't gone and changed into RootOpal. xD (scary thought...)) And about Holly and Foaly, no worries-- you'll see what happens in the next chapter.

Thanks for reading, I'd love to know what you thought of this!