Chronicles of a Caped Crusader: Confliction - Part Four
Lynette found herself sitting on the bench in the park, waiting. She knew Judge Hog would show up soon. She didn't want to be there, she didn't want to see him, and yet she had to. He appeared and sat down next to her, once again wearing the coat, hat, and sunglasses.
"So, you couldn't live with yourself after all?" Judge Hog asked.
"I didn't do anything. I walked away and let him go. I didn't even think about it, and yet I knew I'd do it again if I were in the same situation," Lynette admitted.
"Give up, Lynette; stop trying to be someone you don't want to be," Judge Hog urged. "I'm starting an organization of crime fighters, the Defenders of Neopia. Someone with your skills will be invaluable. You'll be granted amnesty from your past actions."
"You don't understand, I can't!" she gasped.
"Buzz? He's holding you back? Does he know then?" Judge Hog questioned.
"No, and I don't want him to. He can't come with me if I leave. Judge Hog, he is who he is, but he is the only person in the world who has ever loved me. He is the only person I can legitimately say that about, no one else in this world ever cared about me. He is the only one who I can say the same thing about. I didn't have a family, I never had friends, I never cared about another living being until we were made partners. He is my only real friend and I'm his, and I can't do that to him. Ironically, he's the one who set me on this path, to losing Lynette. I want to be a better person than I am, but I could never hurt him. My death would hurt him less than my betrayal. But, I don't know how to go on being my old self now. I feel like that person died." Lynette broke down and wept as she confessed.
"Well, then, there is only one thing to do," Judge Hog said.
"What's that?" Lynette asked.
"Buzz, wake up!" Lynette pounded on his door.
"What's wrong?" his sleepy voice called from the other side of the door. "Someone escape again?"
"Nope, I want to see a legitimate sunrise," Lynette replied.
"What?" Buzz asked.
"I want to see a legitimate sunrise, from Neopia Central. There is this great café I found last time I was down there. We're going to go down there and eat breakfast while watching it," Lynette explained.
"Oh, for the Faeries' sake, it's four-thirty. Go on your own, I want to sleep," Buzz called.
"You promised!" Lynette cried, trying to keep her voice calm. "Please? Please, Buzz; I want you to come with me."
There was a groan from within the room and a minute later Buzz immerged. He was dressed in a T-shirt and slacks.
"Only you," he complained.
"You're the best," Lynette replied with a grin.
They spent the entire day down on Neopia. It was just an innocent, happy day for two friends. No moral dilemmas, no escaped fugitives, no super-villains or superheroes. Lynette wished the day never had to end. They watched the sunset from the bench in the park where Lynette and Judge Hog had their conversations. Lynette laid her head on Buzz's shoulder and he put his arm around her.
"I could get used to this," she said softly.
"Finally ready to chuck working for the Doctor and find an employer down here? I heard through the grapevine that the Meepits are hiring," Buzz said jestingly.
Lynette laughed at the idea of working for a six inch tall pink thing with giant eyes.
"No, I was thinking more along the lines of a normal desk job, a house in the city's suburbs, walking our Warfs in the park on the weekends. Coffee, newspapers, waving to our neighbors," Lynette suggested, keeping her tone jesting.
Buzz laughed heartily and Lynette fought back tears. He could never be a part of the world she could not help but join. Today would be their last happy time together. Tomorrow their lives would part forever, and she would never be able to see him again. Tomorrow Lynette was going to die.
Alarms were wailing all throughout the Space Station. There was another escape in progress. This time ten scientists had gotten free. They had stolen a ship and were headed for Neopia Central.
"Buzz, what's going on?" Lynette demanded over the com system.
"There is an escape in progress, they took a ship," Buzz answered. "Where are you?"
"On our ship. I saw that ship take off. Why did the alarms start so late, and how did someone get loose again?" Lynette questioned.
"I don't know," Buzz answered.
"Whatever, I'm going after them. The ship they are on is an old one. I'll catch up quickly and disable their engines. They won't get far," Lynette responded.
Their ship's engines came on and the hangar doors opened again. She quickly took off in pursuit of the fleeing scientists.
"You always love the chase," Buzz said.
"Yes, but this one is hardly sporting," Lynette laughed darkly.
"When did you ever care about being sporting?" Buzz asked.
"I don't think I do," Lynette answered.
Buzz laughed. "Go get them."
She was closing in on them. Her ship's weapons warmed up as she locked onto their engines. She fired and missed.
"How did you miss at that close range?" Buzz demanded.
"They turned, they're coming back." Lynette sounded puzzled.
"They must have realized it was futile to keep running and are hoping returning willingly will reduce any punishments they might suffer," Buzz theorized.
"I'll open up a com channel," Lynette said.
A few seconds later she reported, "They're not responding, but they are picking up speed."
"Lynette, what are they doing?" Buzz demanded.
"I think they are going to ram me!" Lynette screamed.
"No, Lynette! Get out of there. Lynette!" Buzz roared.
The escapees' ship was on a collision course with Lynette's. She fired at the ship, but they were too close now. The explosion ripped both ships apart. The last thing Buzz heard was her scream. The debris from the two ships drifted into the atmosphere and began to burn up as they fell through it. There would be nothing left.
In the control room on the Space Station, Buzz stared in disbelief at a screen that told him 'tracking beacon lost'. Disbelief turned to anger; his screams of rage filled the room as the guards and technicians fled for their safety. Anger turned to sorrow, and for the first time in his life Buzz wept. He sobbed her name and begged it to be a bad dream.
Lynette heard his anguished sobs over the com system and wept too. Only a floor below him, she sat in a darkened room from which she had run everything via remote control. The entire escape, chase, and crash, had been an illusion to cover up the escape of ten scientists and one commander. She wiped all the data and turned off the computers. She returned to the tourist area, and got on a shuttle departing the Space Station, his sobs still echoing in her ears.
The shuttle departed, and she watched the Space Station disappear in the distance, knowing this was likely the last time she would ever see it like that.
"I'm sorry, Buzz, I'm so sorry. But, it's better this way. I can't live in your world any longer, and you could never be a part of the new one I found. You'll be okay, though. Lynette can live in your memory, where she can always be the person you thought she was. Where I can never hurt you with the truth. I love you, I always will, and you're my best friend no matter what. Goodbye, Buzz and Lynette. Goodbye, Buzz."
She arrived in Neopia Central and got out, then headed to the Rainbow Pool. She was met there by Judge Hog.
"How did it go?" he asked.
"As planned, sir. And, on your end?" Lynette inquired.
"Without a hitch," Judge Hog replied.
"Small favors. Now what?"
"Now, you use this Purple Paint Brush and start your life again. Your new name is Loraine; you live on Cairn Close in Neopia Central. You have a nice little house there. It has a beautiful view of Uni Meadows. I'll give you a file with all the details of your new identity to study later. Are you ready?"
Lynette nodded as she took the paint brush, and then went to the pool. She dipped it in the water and ran the bristles across her arm. She didn't feel any different as she watched the color spread from that stroke across her entire body, her harsh blue-grey fur being replaced with a deep purple, her deep blue hair becoming delicate lavender. When the transformation was complete, the paint brush disappeared.
She turned to Judge Hog. "Well, come on, we've got work to do if we want to get the Defenders of Neopia's Headquarters built."
"Welcome to the team, Loraine." Judge Hog held out his hand.
She shook it. "I have a feeling I'll like this name."
Chloe could hear the crew now; they would break through at any moment.
"So, we went to work and built the Defenders of Neopia. Captain Nefarious was soon unmasked by his sister, and I finally understood why he attacked me. As you probably remember, Nefarious worked for Dr. Sloth for a time under his real name of Marcus. Marcus and Buzz couldn't stand the sight of each other. He obviously carried that hatred with him when he left Virtupets. The rest you know," Loraine finished.
"Wow, Loraine, I would never have guessed," was all she could say.
"That's why I don't take to the field, there is still the chance someone could realize I am Lynette. Those scientists built the HQ and then I created new lives for them. They still help out now and then. Because of my knowledge of the inner workings of Virtupets I was able to arrange all kinds of deals with them for technology to help us, and such. Turns out, I'm a just as good behind the scenes as I was on the front lines," Loraine explained.
"Do you ever regret it?" Chloe couldn't help but ask.
"I live in a house in the suburbs, I wave to my neighbors as I walk to work, and I walk with my Warf in the park on weekends. I make a difference every day. That doesn't sound like anything to regret does it? But, I do have one regret. It's that I couldn't bring Buzz with me. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't regret that," Loraine answered honestly.
"That was some ten years ago, right? What happened to him?"
"I don't know. He left the Dr. Sloth's employ six months later and disappeared. I couldn't find him. I just hope he's all right wherever he is," Loraine said.
The name 'Buzz Johnson' crossed Chloe's mind. "No way, he's the Editor-in-chief at the Weekly World. If he were the same Buzz, Loraine would already know."
"But, I'm okay," Loraine continued. "I had Judge Hog and Super Lupe, and eventually all the Defenders we recruited afterwards, including you, Morphica. I'm where I was always supposed to be, and that's all that matters now."
"I'm glad to have you as a friend," Chloe said simply.
Chloe picked up the Tunneler and tossed him over her shoulder. The diggers finally broke through, and Danger Buzz stood in the tunnel.
"Morphica, are you all right?" he asked.
"Yup, let's get out of here."