Defender Chronicles: The Beginning - Part Four
Sloth sat watching, waiting for her final report. Vera raised
her eyes to his, took a deep breath, and smiled.
"And Edna," she said finally, "remarked that
although as a wicked witch she should be supportive, she could never bring herself
to follow someone who... um, lacked creativity and looked like some kind of
Vera finished her sentence and steeled herself
for the response. She managed to maintain eye contact with Sloth, who looked
none too pleased.
"You are either very brave," he hissed icily,
"or very stupid-"
Vera shrugged. "Probably a bit of both-"
"Silence!" growled Sloth, slamming his fist on
the desk. "Is this your way of telling me you're not willing to join forces
"Pretty much," answered Vera, "although you should
give me credit for accurate reporting."
Sloth narrowed his eyes still further. "I do
not make idle threats, Xweetok, and neither does my chief commander. We will
get you. You'll never be able to stop looking over your shoulder. It might be
years... and I shall savour every moment."
Vera grinned cheerily back at him. "I'll drink
to that. Cheers!"
She boldly drew the vial she had kept in her
pocket, uncorked it and swallowed down the vile liquid. Immediately her flesh
began to twist, and the vial dropped out of her hand onto the hard metal floor,
smashing into thousands of pieces.
Sloth wasn't quite quick enough to hide his surprise.
Vera grinned at him again, with more bravado than she felt.
"I felt like a makeover," she quipped, before
turning tail and walking out of his office.
Sloth watched her go over his fingers. Garoo
appeared from the shadows and watched his master slightly apprehensively - after
all, that Xweetok had just robbed them of any kind of revenge, by flaunting
their supposed punishment in their faces.
Sloth continued to watch Vera until she rounded
the corner. He chuckled to himself slightly before glancing at his chief commander.
"We'll keep an eye on that one, I think," he
said, "her development will prove most... interesting."
Garoo nodded curtly, and vanished into the shadows
as silently as he had come.
Sloth glanced towards the now empty corridor
again. "Yes," he mused, "very interesting..."
Vera rounded the corner, panting slightly. She
didn't know whether to laugh or cry. The look on Sloth's face had been priceless
- she was lucky he hadn't shot her on the spot. She glanced down at her rat-like
tail and shuddered slightly. Oh well, she was just going to have to get used
Steeling herself slightly, she turned another
corner and returned to the main promenade of the Space Station. No-one paid
much attention to a mutant up here, and she barely got a glance from the passers-by.
She saw Trilby spy her from over his newspaper and hurry over.
"Hi," he said, looking a little awkward.
"Hi," she replied.
Trilby sighed. "I was hoping you wouldn't have
to use it. What did he do?"
Vera smiled slightly at the recollection. "He
wasn't too impressed. I did wonder whether he was going to turn me into sludge
for a moment."
Trilby chuckled. "Not his style. Come on, I'll
buy you a coffee and you can tell me all about it."
Vera nodded obediently and started towards Grundo's.
Trilby called her back.
"I meant real coffee, not that weird freeze-dried
stuff. Besides, I don't think you should hang around here for too long."
Vera laughed and together the pair made their
way to Ye Olde Coffee Shoppe in Neopia Central.
A week later life had pretty much returned to
normal. Trilby had listened intently to her story, whistled slightly, and made
copious notes. He said he wanted to make the report as thorough as possible.
Vera hadn't seen him since - not that she really expected to. But it would have
been nice to have someone to talk to, once in a while.
Pinks had greeted her slightly doubtfully on
her return, but pretty soon the Snowbunny had accepted that this was in fact
the real Vera, and life carried on as normal. Edna had laughed slightly at her
new get-up, and told her it was "much more becoming". Vera still wasn't quite
She'd decided to take a walk after supper, just
to get out of the house for a bit. The chill wind picked at her again, caressing
her shoulders - but this time there were no wings to quiver, just a mass of
matted fur. Vera shivered and turned the final corner to her home.
She was just about to walk up her driveway when
she stopped. Something wasn't quite right - she could see candles flickering
in the windows, and she never left them on when she went out. Not with a wooden
house. Slightly apprehensively, she stepped up to the door and gently pushed
Inside, Trilby was calmly making cups of tea.
He waved at her, looking a trifle embarrassed, and Vera noticed he'd made three
cups rather than two. It was then she noticed the person standing behind him.
"Judge Hog?!" she cried.
The leader of the Defenders turned around and
looked at her calmly. He took the proffered cup of tea from Trilby and sat down.
"Sit down, Miss Linae," he said gravely.
Vera did as she was told. There was something
in Judge Hog that stopped her putting up any resistance at all.
"Am I in some kind of trouble?" she asked in
a small voice.
Judge Hog chuckled, and took a sip of his tea.
Trilby passed a cup to her and winked. Vera relaxed slightly.
"No, no trouble," began the Judge. "I've read
Trilby's report, and I was very impressed - with both of you. We need more young
Neopets who have the bravery to face the forces of evil and overcome them. You
managed to do so - and at some personal cost."
He paused and sipped his tea again. Pinks jumped
onto Vera's lap, and she stroked her absentmindedly.
"Anyway, we'd like to offer you a job. Not as
a mainstream Defender of course, there are certain... ahem, qualifications for
Trilby rolled his eyes behind his boss, and Vera
stifled a grin. She knew what he meant as well - no Mutants.
"However," continued Judge Hog, obliviously,
"we do have an opening with young Trilby here, in the Department of Suspicious
Activity in Various Interesting or Uninteresting Realms. I've been meaning to
get him a partner for a while. What do you say?"
Vera didn't answer for a moment - she was still
trying to get her head around the name of the department.
"Oh!" she said, realising both were waiting for
an answer. She smiled. "It sounds great - when do I start?"
Judge Hog smiled broadly and offered her his
hand. "Excellent. Trilby here will iron out all the details. I'll see you around
the office no doubt."
Vera watched him leave and turned to Trilby,
who was grinning broadly.
"How on earth do you remember the name of your
department?" she exclaimed.
Trilby chuckled. "It's easy - Department of Suspicious
Activity in Various Interesting Or Uninteresting
Realms. S.A.V.I.O.U.R for short."
Vera raised her eyebrows. "S.A.V.I.O.U.R?"
Trilby shrugged. "Well, everyone else calls it
the D.S.A, but it helps me remember it."
Vera looked around her home. "I guess I'll have
to move - it's a long commute to Neopia Central."
Trilby smiled. "I think you're probably right
- oh, this arrived for you a couple of days ago. Gave our boys back at the office
a fright. They've checked it for every conceivable trick, but it seems clean."
Puzzled, Vera took the box and opened the attached
note. She raised her eyebrows again - no wonder the Defenders had been so shocked
to receive it.
"Well, Xweetok, you bested me this time. It's
not often I come across a Neopet with the wits - or the stomach - to do so.
I look forward to the next time we come across each other; after all, if those
idiot Defenders don't take you on after this, they're even stupider than I think
You may be surprised at the contents of this
box, so let me explain - every time I see your little mutant form, the fact
that you outwitted me gets more galling. So you WILL use this - OR I SHALL COME
DOWN AND MAKE YOU USE IT MYSELF.
Kindest regards etc.
Dr F. Sloth"
"What the-" muttered Vera, opening the
box. There, to her surprise, was a Faerie paint brush.
Trilby laughed at her expression. "We were confused
too. But like I said, we're pretty sure it is what it says."
Vera slowly pulled the brush out of the box and
examined it. Trilby was right - it certainly looked like the genuine article.
"What do you say to a trip to Neopia Central?"
she asked. "House hunting, coffee and a trip to the Rainbow Pool?"
Trilby grinned and grabbed his coat. "You're
Vera and Trilby will return in: The Great Hannah Caper.