Chronicles of a Caped Crusader: Days Yet to Pass: Part Eleven
Chloe opened her eyes to a familiar sight. She was sitting in the control room, the large screens of the console glowing around her. There was nothing urgent on them; they were exactly as she remembered them from a week before when she had been pulled out of her life into the nightmare future.
For a brief moment, she wondered if she had dozed off and dreamed the whole thing. She shook her head, driving those thoughts away. If she succumbed to such thoughts, she'd forget her mission and everything would be lost. The future had to be rewritten and time was short in which she could do that.
She quickly got to work opening a report and selecting it as anonymous. Being anonymous, it wouldn't record where the tip had come in from. Though the Defenders would have liked to know exactly where and from whom all their tips came from, it was a concession they had to make to get some of the more important tips. A lot of people didn't want to be identified for fear of those they were informing on, or because they were involved in whatever they were reporting on. Now, Chloe was glad they had an anonymous tip system.
She hurriedly typed in the message, checking it twice to make sure it was exact to what she had memorized. Finally satisfied, she submitted it. She leaned back in the chair and waited. On the screen, the tip showed up in red, highlighted as critical because Iniquitous' name was attached to it. Seconds later, she felt her mind becoming hazy. She was leaving, disappearing as history was being rewritten.
“Goodbye, world of the future. May we all rest in peace, forgotten ghosts of a time that never was. May it never come again. Now, Veronica, we'll fight again, never knowing the common ground we found, but I hope in your soul you feel something of the woman you became. I hope you come to know the mistakes you made, and change to be her again. Goodby….”***
Chloe blinked, and in that time, an alert had appeared on the screen. It was flashing red, the sign that it was critical. She quickly opened it and was both shocked and elated by its content. If it was correct, this was a vital piece of intelligence, and one that needed to be acted on right away.
“Judge Hog, come in. I've had a critical tip be submitted to us,” Chloe said, reaching him over the com channel.
“What is it?” he asked.
“According to the tip, Dr. Asimosk is hiding in Tyrannia, and he's negotiating a partnership with Iniquitous and Veronica to create robots to infiltrate the lower levels of the HQ and cause damage to the structure of our building. The partnership doesn't seem to be solid yet, according to the tip, but it is progressing positively for them. It also says that Asimosk may be in contact with one of the Grundo engineers who built the HQ and is trying to extort the blueprints for our building from him,” Chloe relayed.
“We need to move on this now. Did they send the coordinates for his hideout?” Judge Hog asked, sounding grim.
“Yes, boss. Should I send them to you?” Chloe asked.
“Yes, send me the coordinates. I'll take a team and deal with this. Asimosk is already a wanted fugitive, and a dangerous one, so this is top priority now. Keep me updated if more information comes in,” Judge Hog told her.
“Understood. Over and out.”
Chloe spent the next hour on pins and needles, waiting for Judge Hog and the team he had assembled to take with him to check in. Loraine arrived back during that time and Chloe filled her in on what had happened. Loraine took control of the console and examined the message.
“Anonymous, of course,” she muttered. “Information this good always is. I don't recognize the style of the wording, meaning someone carefully concealed their identity when writing this tip, or it came from someone we haven't encountered information from before.”
“Maybe whoever sent this will send more information in the future?” Chloe said, hoping they had some secret ally with very good intel.
“Who knows,” Loraine replied. “We'll have to see what the future holds.”
The com came to life, Judge Hog's voice broadcasting over it.
“Control, are you there?”
“I'm here, Judge Hog,” Loraine replied. “What's your status?”
“It's good to hear you're back, Loraine. Are you updated on the situation?” Judge Hog asked.
“Yes I am,” she replied.
“We found Asimosk exactly where the tip said he'd be. He's now in custody. We found no evidence of him being in communication with Iniquitous, but we did find evidence of his communication with our engineer. The engineer seems to have been misled about who he was communicating with, and hasn't revealed anything vital about us. However, we need to check up on him to make sure his identity hasn't been further compromised. We may have to move him again if this has gone further than Asimosk,” Judge Hog reported. “Inform the Chia Police of our impending arrival to make the transfer.”
“Will do,” Loraine said. “I'll send a crew of cleaners to box up his lab and scrub it. We need to be careful not to leave anything behind for Iniquitous. With luck, whatever we find among Asimosk's files will tell us what structural weaknesses he was hoping to exploit as mentioned by the tip. We should deal with that as soon as possible so no one else can figure it out and exploit it.”
“How are the clearing efforts progressing?” Judge Hog asked.
“They are pretty much done. The remaining Defenders are mostly doing crowd control so the miners can be transported to the hospital for evaluation before being sent home. There are quite a few reporters there hoping to get exclusives from the miners as soon as they come out, and as many worried family members trying to enter the mine before it is fully shored up again. They can handle it, though. They do not require additional help,” Loraine reported.
“We'll head back to the HQ when we're done, then. I'm leaving Lightning Lenny and Torchio to guard the lab until it is scrubbed,” Judge Hog replied. “How did your mission go?”
“It went well. I'm not going to discuss the particulars over the coms, though. I'll tell you all about it when you get back,” Loraine said.
“Fair enough. Over and out.”***
“So, how was your day?” Chloe asked, peeking into the clubhouse in the backyard of her home in Neopia Central. Bluejay, Yanli, and Molly were sitting around a comic book, reading it together. Their heads all jerked up at the sound of her voice, and they smiled up at her.
“Did you have fun playing Space Faerie verses Dr. Sloth?” she asked, remembering what Molly had told her that morning.
“Dr. Sloth was epically defeated by the power of good,” Yanli shouted excitedly. “Did you defeat evil with the power of good today?”
“We put your battle duck safely back in your room,” Molly quickly said before Chloe could answer Yanli's question.
“Thank you, Molly. As for you, Yanli, we did actually. It was a big day. We picked up a mad scientist we've had on our list for a while. Justice will be served and the world is definitely a safer place than it was when I went to work this morning,”Chloe told them.
Yanli pumped her fist in the air, managing to brush the comic book across the floor as she did so. Bluejay reached out and pulled it back in front of them.
“Careful, Yanli,” he admonished gently.
“Sorry, Blue,” she giggled. “So, Chloe, doing anything awesome tomorrow?”
“Who knows? I never know what the future holds for us. Every day is an adventure working with the Defenders. I'll find out when tomorrow comes,” Chloe answered. “Okay, I should go change. I'll see you guys at dinner.”
There was chorus of goodbyes, and Chloe made her way into the house. After stopping in to say hi to the rest of the family that was home, she went upstairs to change into casual clothes. True to Molly's word, her battle duck was sitting on her desk. As she put it away in its box in a desk drawer, she noticed May had left a chew toy partially under her desk. She reached down and grabbed it to pull it out. As she did so, there was a stab of pain in her palm. She pulled the toy out and opened her hand. May had chewed it rough, and she had cut her hand on it. She tossed the toy into the rubbish bin and made a mental note to get a new one for her Warf.
The cut was not large, but it was bleeding. She grabbed a small towel she kept for workouts out of a drawer and pressed it to her hand until the bleeding stopped.
“Chloe!” Princess' voice shouted from down the hall. “You must come and see what Hector sent me! Come quickly, you simply won't believe it!”
Chloe smiled indulgently, knowing she'd have no clue what little trinket their archaeologist cousin had sent her sister this time either, but she had gotten good at faking amazement long enough for Princess to gush enough for her to figure it out. She tossed the towel towards the hamper in her closet and hurried out of the room.
The towel missed the hamper. It bounced off the edge and fell behind an old training dummy that was stuffed into the back of the closet. Chloe had a dozen towels like it; it would not be noticed or missed.
It would wait.