Invisible Paint Brushes rock Circulation: 193,843,975 Issue: 718 | 5th day of Awakening, Y18
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Chronicles of a Caped Crusader: Days Yet to Pass: Part One


by kristykimmy

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      Chloe breathed deeply the morning air as she closed the front door behind herself. It was a glorious late spring morning and the air was fragrant and warm, with just a slight tinge of humidity. She walked down the front path to the sidewalk. As she reached the final step, she was cut off by one her sisters hopping through the shrubs lining the walkway. Chloe smiled down at the White Xweetok. A Starry Barlow tumbled out behind her and righted himself, panting merrily up at them.

      “What are you doing out so early, Mollykins?” Chloe asked, using the family nickname for the girl.

      In answer, Molly held up a bouquet of dandelions, her favorite flower. The lawn was carpeted with them after the two straight days of rain they’d had.

      “I'm going to sneak them into Blue and Yanli's rooms while they are still asleep, a big bouquet for each of them,” Molly explained. “Orion would be helping, except he keeps trying to eat the grass. We're still working on that.”

      “You'll teach him soon enough. May did when she was a puppy,” Chloe told her. “I've got to hurry along. I got paged to get in as soon as possible.”

      She threw her arms around Chloe’s waist in a hug.

      “Bye, Chloe. Have a good day at work,” Molly said. “Oh, wait! I think we’re going to steal your Dr. Sloth battle duck so Bluejay can pretend to destroy it with his Space Faerie doll today. Do you mind?”

      Chloe rolled her eyes and shook with suppressed laughter. “That boy. Just so long as you don’t lose it. It was expensive, and Kristy will have a mental breakdown if you do.”

      “We won’t, I’ll make sure of it,” Molly promised.

      “Okay, honey. I love you. Have a good day.”

      Chloe started off again, while Molly stood on the final step and waved, Orion panting wildly as he leaned against her leg. Chloe walked at a fast pace to reach her destination as quickly as she could. When Chloe reached the DoN HQ she found it quiet. She went into the control room and found Loraine was at the console.

      “Hey, Loraine, I'm in. Why's it so quiet around here?” Chloe asked.

      “Good morning, Chloe. Thank you for being so quick. There was a cave-in in Tyrannia; many of the miners are trapped. We sent everyone to help with the clearing of the debris. Judge Hog said that they might send for you if Dr. Flexo needs an assistant. Being a Xweetok and as thin and lithe as you are, you could probably get through the small openings to follow him in if needed,” Loraine explained. “I was manning the console, but I just got word from a contact that I need to meet him now. You’re going to take over for me here. If the call from Judge Hog comes, put the HQ in lockdown and get moving. We’ll just have to hope nothing big happens while we’re busy with this cave-in. Go get suited up before I leave so you don't waste any time later if they need you.”

      Chloe went down to the changing rooms to change into her suit. She twisted her orange hair up on her head and settled the wig over it. She put her mask on as she got back into the elevator and rode it to the ground level. She walked back into the control room and Loraine got up from the computer.

          “Here you are, Morphica,” Loraine said. “See you later.”

      “Stay safe,” Chloe said.

***

      “Dr. Flexo says all injuries are minor and he can handle it himself,” Judge Hog reported. “You just keep holding down the fort, Morphica. We’re doing fine with the clearing. We’re estimating three hours more before we’ll have the entrance clear. How are things there?”

      “Nice and quiet. I’ve directed a few of the volunteers to a few complaints of the Meerca Brothers and the Pant Devil, but nothing major. Either the crooks haven’t realized we’re spread thin or even they have a heart.”

      “Hopefully it remains that way,” Judge Hog said. “Has Loraine reported back?”

      “Not yet, but you know her,” Chloe replied. “She only answers to you, and even then only with effort.”

      “At least she can back it up with her combat skills,” Judge Hog chuckled.

      “She can. Okay, I’ll let you go, Boss. Good luck.”

          “Over and out.”

      Chloe closed down the com channel and leaned back in the chair. It was odd to be alone in the giant building. She closed her eyes for a moment, shifting in the chair. There was a weird tingling along her spine, but no matter how she tried she couldn’t ease it. She opened her eyes and noticed the room looked strange. The strange wavering developed into double vision. She looked down at her hands, they looked normal, but the room around her was still in double focus.

      She rose from the chair, looking around, trying to figure out what was causing the strange sensations she was experiencing. There was no one there, nothing to explain why this was happening. She reached for the computer console to see if any anomalies were being detected. When she tried to touch it, her hand passed right through it.

      “Sweet Fyora!” she screamed in horror.

      She spun around, looking for anything that seemed solid. However, everything had taken on a ghostly aura; the double vision was getting worse. Suddenly everything went white around her and a ringing filled her ears.

      Slowly the white began to fade into colors again. The ringing died down as well. Slowly shapes formed, ghostly figures and furniture. Very suddenly everything came into sharp focus. She was in what looked like a lab. She was surrounded by Neopets and a human or two in white coats and safety goggles. There were also what looked like guards positioned around the room, also wearing safety goggles. The guards were grisly looking warriors with their weapons already drawn.

      Chloe's training took over and she wasted no time. She sized up the room, the number of guards, and the others in the room. The guards were positioned in front of the door, which was the only exit to the room. There were no windows or other ways to exit the room, such as vents in the ceiling or walls. First thing to do in a situation like this was to reach safe ground, and this place did not qualify as safe in the least.

      Quickly, she reached to the back of her belt where her blaster was and unholstered it. She took a shot at an odd machine that was near the door, a distractionary tactic. The machine threw sparks everywhere. The people in the white coats dived for cover and the guards shied back. She tackled the only guard who held his ground in front of the door, knocking him into it.

      The door burst open and Chloe dived over the fallen guard into the hall. She rolled to her feet and ran as fast as she could, turning a corner and was out of sight before the people in the room could get over their shock and start after her. She could hear them shouting the alarm and knew it was only a matter of time before the entire facility would be alerted to her escape. She vaguely noticed that the walls and floors were made of stone. This facility was clearly situated in some old fortress.

      Three new guards appeared ahead of her. She put on another burst of speed, charging them. They were drawing their weapons, but she knew they’d never stand a chance. She sprang; throwing a punch into the jaw of the first one. She then dropped beneath the second’s attempt to grab her, kicking his legs out from under him. She rolled onto her back and kicked off the wall to slide across the floor, firing a stunning blast at the final one as she passed him. She stunned the other two for safe measure, and then got back to her feet and looked around.

      She was at an intersection. She stopped and took a deep breath to steady herself. She closed her eyes and just listened. Being a Xweetok had some distinct advantages, such as good hearing. She could hear running footsteps coming from two of the directions. She took the third and started running, hoping that way would lead her out of this fortress.

      She kept wishing for a window, but she realized that she must be pretty deep inside, wherever she was. So far she hadn’t found any distinguishing features that would give her a clue where she was.

      Her mind was working as fast as her feet, trying to figure out what was going on. Someone had developed a teleporter that was strong enough to reach out from this place and snatch her out of the Defenders of Neopia’s HQ. That, or it was magic, she reasoned. If it hadn’t been for all guys in white coats, she would have leaned towards magic. However, most mages didn’t dress like scientists, and room had been full of tech. Strange tech she hadn’t seen before, which was odd, considering that Virtupets usually sold the newest lines of their tech to the DoN first.

      She took another turn and came to a door. She kicked it open and hurried in, ready for possible trouble. There was no one there, but it was not a step forward.

      “Borovan!” she shouted in frustration.

      She had come to a large room with four doors in it. It looked like a war room. She glanced around the room; her eyes passing over the maps pinned on the walls as she considered which door to take. Her attention was rudely ripped away from her current situation by those same maps. There was a specific map which took up an entire wall. Pinned to where Neopia Central was located was a picture of Colonel Iniquitous. She walked over to the map, looking at the data displayed on it.

      Her mind started reeling, trying to make sense of what was displayed on the map.

      “What rubbish is this?” Chloe demanded of the empty room.

      “Not easy to take in at once is it?” a vaguely familiar voice said in a commiserating tone.

      Chloe whirled on the speaker, her blaster ready. Her heart stopped beating. The person standing there was a Starry Pteri with spiky blue hair.

      “Bluejay?” she asked, unable to make what she was seeing connect.

      The Pteri in the doorway looked and sounded like her brother, but he was about ten years too old to be him.

      To be continued…

 
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