Chronicles of a Caped Crusader: Trouble on the Moon
The buzzing of the alarm clock woke Chloe. She rose and stretched, then petted her Pink Warf who was lying at the end of the bed. May yawned lazily and rolled over to look at her mistress inquiringly. Chloe didn't usually wake her up this early.
"No time to stay in bed today, May. Today is my first day on the job. It would be really bad to be late on my first day," the Faerie Usul said.
May rolled back over and hopped off the bed, then lumbered half-asleep downstairs. Chloe went to the bathroom to shower and get ready for the day. It was six thirty by the time was heading downstairs. The house was quiet, her family was still asleep.
As she walked into the dining room she heard a sizzling sound and smelled bacon. In the kitchen she found her mother, Kristy, feeding slices of bacon to May.
"What are we going to do with you?" Chloe laughed. "You spoil everyone in this house terribly. May is putting on weight again."
May let out a protesting whine and panted charmingly up at Kristy, begging for more. Chloe fixed the problem by snatching up her petpet and carrying her a safe distance away from the stove and indulgent mother.
"I'll have Yanli take her for a walk while you are at work, if that doesn't cure the problem nothing will," Kristy replied.
"What are you doing down at this hour? Normally you're just waking up about now," Chloe asked, as she sat down at the table, setting May at her feet.
"Well, I couldn't send you off to your first day as a secretary without a proper breakfast and goodbye. Are you sure about this? I mean, it's not like I'm not proud of you for getting your first full-time job, and I know you like helping out the DoN, but really, won't this interfere with your training? That is still the most important thing to you, isn't it?" Kristy asked as she set down a plate full of food in front of Chloe.
"No, it won't at all. In fact, this opens up a lot of opportunities to me; part of the incentive was personal training from the Defenders. Think about the networking opportunities too. Through working there I can meet all kinds of people who know all kinds of different battle styles," Chloe explained.
Chloe was working hard to be as sincere and truthful as she could without telling the truth. The truth was that Chloe wasn't a secretary, but a Defender. Her secret alter-ego, Morphica, was the newest of the Defenders heroes. However, her family couldn't know the truth.
"Oh, I'm so dumb, I should have thought about that. But, I'm a little messed up this week. I have an assignment I seriously do not want. I have to write up a report about Chomby and the Fungus Balls' newest concert tour. I've never been a fan, but I've heard a sampling of their newest stuff... You don't suppose you could convince the DoN to have a villain kidnap me until after the concert, do you? Buzz Johnson told me if I don't go for any reason he'll make me bald with his bare hands, but even he couldn't hold me accountable for a kidnapping," Kristy whined.
Chloe worked very hard not to laugh at the mental image and ducked under the table to give a piece of bacon to May.
"You just scolded me for that," Kristy reminded, reaching down and picking up the Warf.
"I know, but May is so cute," Chloe said, finishing her breakfast. "I've got to go now. I need to be there by seven, but I want to come in early since it is my first day on the job. Just so I can get used to the place. I've only been in part of it."
She took her dishes to the sink then picked up her purse. She kissed Kristy's cheek and petted May one last time before heading out to work. She walked through the suburbs and into the city, then down to the Plaza of Neopia Central's business district. She looked up at the impressive building that housed the operations of the Defenders of Neopia. Her breath caught as she realized that she really was a Defender now. She walked through the doors and looked around the lobby. Lightning Lenny was there, she walked over to him.
"Good day, Chloe," he said. "Take the elevator to the next floor down. Loraine will meet you there and show you the ropes. Have a good first day."
Chloe nodded and thanked him. It was mere formality, in case anyone was watching. Chloe walked to the elevator and went down a few floors to a dressing room. Her costume was there; she changed from her business suit into it, then twisted up her orange hair into a bun and settled her wig on her head. A few minutes later she was walking into the lounge as Morphica. Lightning Lenny was there along with Dr. Flexo and Super Lupe.
"Hey, Morphica, we need a fourth player for Cheat," Lightning Lenny called.
"Okay, but I'm warning you, I'm pretty good at that game," Chloe said as she sat down at the table.
The cards had been dealt and the first round just started when Judge Hog walked in.
"Morning, boss!" they all called out.
"Morning, all. There you are, Morphica. Come with me, we have an assignment for you," Judge Hog replied.
Chloe got up and followed. They went to the control room. Loraine was manning the computer again, Captain K was also there.
"There you are, sir," Loraine said. "Good morning, Morphica."
"Morning, Loraine. What's up?" Chloe asked.
"Trouble on Kreludor. We're not sure of the details yet, but we've been asked to send agents to deal with the situation. Captain K will be going, of course, and you'll provide back up, Morphica. I'm certain you could use space training. It's an entirely different Yooyuball game up on the moon," Judge Hog explained.
"What are the details of the mission?" Captain K asked.
"Zorlix and Xarthab said they had a delicate situation, and they requested help dealing with it," Loraine said. "However, they weren't forthcoming with the particulars of the situation."
"Mhm, perhaps they were afraid of someone picking up the signal. Well, we might as well get moving then," Captain K reasoned.
"Wait, Morphica, you'll need these." Loraine held out two blasters with holsters.
Chloe took them and clipped them to her belt. She knew that everyone up there used blasters, and with the lower gravity her cudgels would be a lot less effective. She followed Captain K to the hanger where his ship was kept. The last time Chloe had seen that ship, she and Judge Hog had used it to travel underwater to Mystery Island. They entered the ship and strapped in. Captain K fired up the ship and opened the hanger doors. Moments later the ship was rocketing into the atmosphere.
Once out in space Captain K said, "Come up here, Morphica. I'll teach you about the ship's controls."
Chloe unbuckled her restraints and came up. She leaned over the captain's chair and listened and watched intently as Captain K explained the workings of the ship. The time it took to arrive there flew by. Soon, Chloe was buckling herself back into her seat as she waited for Captain K to land.
Once the ship was safely docked, they got out and Chloe looked around. She had never been to the area before. Her knowledge extended only as far as the tourist areas on the moon. A few Grundo guards came out to greet them.
"Captain K, thank you for coming so swiftly. We will take you to Zorlix and Xarthab," one said.
They followed and Chloe commented, "It's so weird being around all these Grundos."
"Why?" Captain K asked.
"I started life as one. I was one about this time last year as well, I didn't realize that I missed being a Grundo sometimes until then," Chloe confided.
"I see, I suppose constantly changing has its pros and cons," Captain K commented.
Chloe and Captain K were led into a small room on the moon base. The two brothers, Zorlix and Xarthab, who ran the mines were there looking over a map and discussing something. They turned to greet the agents.
"Good to see you again, Captain. Thank you for responding so quickly," Zorlix said. "Who's this?"
"This is Morphica, our newest agent," Captain K replied. "What is the situation?"
Zorlix motioned to the table on which they had the map laid out. Chloe and Captain K came over and looked at it.
"Parlax was spotted back on the moon recently. We've had several reports of him being sighted in this area. We summoned Gorix to track him down. He arrived yesterday and went to search for him in the mines. He reported that there seemed to be signs of him having been there. At 0200 hours this morning we lost contact with him and have been unable to reestablish contact," Xarthab explained, pointing to an area on the map.
"While it's not uncommon for the com system not to be able to send or receive signals deep in the mines. However, we intercepted a communication that leads us to believe Ylana Skyfire has been sent to provide backup for Parlax. As we can't warn Gorix, he's now in a lot of trouble. We need you to go down there and find him before Skyfire does," Zorlix finished.
"Okay, but we'll need any maps you can provide us with, marked with Gorix's last know location," Captain K said.
Xarthab handed them two screens. They were holo-maps of the mines. There was a glowing spot deep within the network of tunnels, that was the place where they lost Gorix's com signal.
"We'll have someone drive you out to the entrance on a mine cart. We'll help you as long as we can, but it is likely that we'll lose communications after you pass that point," Zorlix said.
"Don't worry, we can handle it," Chloe replied confidently.
Chloe took out one of her blasters and set it on a mid level stun. She then put the ear piece Zorlix had given her in her right ear; the communicator he had equipped them with would allow them to communicate while in the mine. Their wrist communicators would have far shorter range in the mines.
"Will we still be able to communicate with each other using these past the cutoff point, if we get separated?" Chloe asked.
"We should, but hopefully that won't happen," Captain K replied.
"It's best to prepare for the worst possible outcome, so nothing takes you by surprise," Chloe quoted. "So says basic training."
"If only it ever worked out like that." Captain K sighed. "Remember, Morphica, it doesn't matter how much you prepare. In this line of work the only thing you can count on is that you're going to be thrown curveballs that you could never have imagined. Case in point, the incident last week. No one saw that coming. All you really can do is learn to be quick on your feet, and keep moving. Also, trust your partners. The one thing you should never do is hesitate to call for backup. There is no such thing as 'proving yourself' with us. We'd rather you call for backup if you need it than struggle through on your own."
"I've never been the go it alone type anyway." Chloe chuckled. "Comes from spending too much time watching Kristy's back as she got herself into disaster after disaster."
"Your mother does seem rather, accident prone," Captain K said delicately as they entered the mines.
"Accident-prone nothing, even she refers to herself as a walking disaster. My older sister came up with that." Chloe laughed. "If they gave out prizes for getting into trouble, Kristy would win every year."
Together they entered the mine, hoping they'd find Gorix before Parlax and Ylana Skyfire did.
Captain K and Chloe worked their way through the mines on Kreludor for the next three hours. After that point, they passed the cutoff point, and were out of contact range with Zorlix and Xarthab. There had been no sign of Gorix, Parlax, or Ylana Skyfire, but Captain K assured Chloe it was just a matter of time. Chloe was examining the holo-map while Captain K kept a sharp eye out for any sign of Ylana Skyfire.
"The mines get more convoluted down here. They intersect a lot, though. We should try working our way to all the major intersections. If Gorix is smart he should be waiting in one of them for Parlax to pass through. There is one about thirty feet from our present location. This tunnel turns left ahead, then it is straight from there."
"Sounds like a good plan, Morphica," Captain K agreed.
Chloe put away her map and held her blaster ready as she followed Captain K. He stopped suddenly at the corner, Chloe looked at him questioningly. Through hand gestures he told her there was someone around the bend. She pulled out her second blaster and set it to full stun. She nodded that she was ready and Captain K counted down with his fingers. Together they sprang around the corner.
They found themselves face to face with Gorix, who had blasters ready and aimed at them.
Chloe relaxed and sighed with relief. "Thank Fyora, it's you."
Gorix lowered his weapons. "Good to see you, Captain K. What are you and your partner doing down in the bowels of Kreludor?"
"Parlax sent out a distress signal, and Ylana Skyfire answered it. Zorlix and Xarthab sent for us to provide you with backup, and get you out of here before things went bad," Captain K explained.
"Well, you've got good timing; Parlax is close by, not much farther down this tunnel. I turned back to see who was on my tail. We can bag Parlax and high-tail it out of here before Skyfire shows up," Gorix explained.
"Right, let's be quick," Captain K agreed.
The three headed down the tunnel, and stopped at the end. Around the next corner was an intersection of three different tunnels. Standing in the middle of the tunnel was Parlax; he was fiddling with his wrist communicator.
Gorix's grin was dark. "I've got him now."
He stepped around the corner, blasters drawn, and announced, "I have you, Parlax. Put your hands on your head and get on the ground."
Parlax raised his hands, but didn't put them on his head. Gorix was about to repeat his warning when a blaster suddenly came flying through the air towards Parlax. He caught it and spun, firing a shot off at Gorix. Captain K tackled Gorix pushing them both out of the way. Chloe dived for the ground, as more shots came from one of the tunnels, and returned fire. The laser fire quickly heated up the air in the confined tunnels.
Ylana Skyfire immerged from the tunnel, blasters firing. Captain K took a shot at Parlax; he missed Parlax, but hit the ground at his feet. The shift in the ground from the shot caused Parlax to stumble and drop his blaster. Gorix shot the blaster way out of Parlax's reach. Chloe took aim and shot the dirt at Ylana Skyfire's feet, the spray of dirt went into her face causing her to turn away for a moment. Gorix tried to take advantage of her distraction and dived at her, taking aim. Skyfire was too fast; she spun and brought a roundhouse kick into his jaw. Gorix went down hard.
Parlax had decided to take advantage of the distraction Skyfire had created and flee.
"Cover me, Captain!" Chloe shouted as she darted after him.
Skyfire took aim at Chloe, but with two well aimed shots, Captain K sent the blasters from her grip. She threw a punch at Chloe instead, but Chloe hit the dirt, sliding beneath her attack. Chloe rose to her feet again, and took off running after Parlax, and started taking shots. Parlax dodged around a corner.
Chloe turned the corner and was tackled by Parlax. They both hit the dirt, Parlax's hands on Chloe's wrists as he tried to force her to lose her grip on the blasters. Chloe rolled side to side to force him off of her. She got her tail out from under her and whipped him in the face with it, but Parlax refused to give in. Finally, she managed to move him enough to get one of her feet under him. She kicked him off, and he rolled to his feet and took off running again.
Chloe rose to her feet and took aim at the fleeing Split Grundo. But, she didn't fire, something had caught her eye. There was a mirror mounted on the wall, there to give a view around the corner for the mine car drivers. In it she saw that the situation had turned sour for Captain K and Gorix.
Captain K had been knocked to the ground in another tunnel, his blaster had been thrown from his grip. Gorix was down too; his blaster had jammed and was useless. Chloe had only one chance, but doing so would separate her and Captain K. Ylana leveled her blaster at Gorix, he stopped moving, watching her. Captain K rose to one knee and reached for his blaster, too slow to save Gorix. Ylana squeezed her trigger, and the ceiling between the three of them came tumbling down. Chloe had fired at the mirror, using it to reflect her shots at the ceiling, bringing it down, and cutting Ylana off from Captain K and Gorix. Chloe put one of her blasters back in the holster and hurried around the corner to Gorix.
"You okay?" Chloe asked, holding out her hand to help him up.
"A little dusty and bruised, but alive. That was good thinking, uh?" Gorix said, as he accepted her assistance in rising to his feet.
"Morphica," Chloe answered. She put a finger to her com and tried it. "Captain K, come in. Captain K, what is your status?"
"I'm intact, what is yours?" he answered promptly.
"We're both fine. Parlax got away, though," Chloe replied.
"Don't worry about him just now. Our main concern should be getting out of here alive," Captain K said.
"Right." Chloe opened her holo-map. "It looks like both of the tunnels we are in are a straight shot to the surface. We'll come out not too far from each other. We can meet up halfway."
"Right, see you up there, and watch out for Parlax."
"Will do, sir." Chloe closed the map and turned to Gorix, he was fiddling with his blaster. "Give it here."
Gorix handed it over. "It locked up in the battle. Stupid blaster."
Chloe pulled one of her hair ornaments out and used it to open the blaster. "Ah, here's the problem, the power core is dislodged. Must have happened when Skyfire kicked you down. This blaster has a feature where it locks the firing mechanism if that happens, so the gun doesn't become unstable and explode. The previous model had more than a few causalities due to that." Chloe shifted it back into place and closed it again. "Good as new."
She handed the blaster back and returned the ornament to her wig.
Gorix tested it on low power on a nearby rock. "Nice, you DoN know your stuff."
"Actually, I'm just a nerd when it comes to fighting and weapons. I made friends with the Grundos who run the Space Weaponry shop on the Virtupets Space Station; they let me hang out while they did repairs on people's battledome equipment. I learned a lot," Chloe told him. "Come on, we better get moving. If we're fast enough, we might be able to catch Parlax before he makes it off the planet."
Gorix nodded and they started off through the mines.
When they immerged from the mine an hour later, Chloe pulled out her holo-map and examined it.
"Okay, Gorix, the mine shaft Captain K should be exiting is about hundred feet in that direction. His shaft was a more direct route to the surface, so he's probably on his way already. Let's get moving," Chloe told as she pointed of to the southwest.
Gorix didn't answer, and Chloe turned to look at him. He was glaring off into the distance. She looked out that way and saw Parlax standing only twenty yards away, talking into a wrist communicator.
"I've got him!" Gorix growled through clenched teeth.
"Gorix, don't!" Chloe cried as he rushed off.
Chloe's instincts were dead on; at that moment Ylana Skyfire's ship appeared over a ridge and closed in, fast and firing. They both dived for cover and returned fire, but it did little against the ship's shields. The door to the ship was open and Ylana Skyfire standing on it. Parlax made a run for it, and they changed their attack to him. He reached the ship and jumped. Skyfire caught his hand and pulled him up. The door closed, lifting them in. The ship stopped firing and gained altitude, rising into the atmosphere. Chloe and Gorix put their blasters in their holsters.
"Morphica, I heard a ship's engines and blaster fire; are you both all right?" Captain K's voice asked over the com.
"Yeah, we are, but Skyfire and Parlax got away," Chloe informed him.
"That's disappointing, but getting out of here unscathed is the important thing, remember," Captain K consoled her.
Chloe put her hand on Gorix's shoulder. "He's right, you know. There will be other run-ins with Parlax, and eventually you'll get him."
"You sound like you've been in this situation before," Gorix commented.
"Just yesterday." Chloe chuckled. "Come on, we better go meet up with the Captain so we can get off this moon. I want to be back in Neopia Central in time for dinner."
Chloe walked through the door of her Neohome and was met by her mother, who was putting on her coat.
"Hi, sweetie! How was your first day?" Kristy asked enthusiastically.
Chloe wondered for half a moment what Kristy would say if she told her what actually happened. "It was boring, lots of paperwork. But, maybe I'll get to man the computer and monitor the Defenders in the field soon. That'll be interesting."
"Aw, well, even my job is boring some days," Kristy sympathized. "You'll have more interesting days."
"Kristy, you could never let a job be boring," Chloe teased.
"Tripping over my own feet and derping in front of Buzz gets boring for me, even if it is hilarious for everyone else." Kristy's expression was sour.
Chloe laughed and hugged her mother goodbye. Kristy left and Chloe's wrist communicator buzzed. Chloe pressed the button on it.
"Chloe, we've got a report from an informant that Malkus Vile's men will be moving a shipment of stolen goods into Neopia Central tonight. Judge Hog wants you to be part of the sting operation. Report to the HQ at midnight," Loraine instructed.
"You got it."