Chronicles of a Caped Crusader: Morphica Begins - Part One
It was an ordinary day in Neopia Central, with its typical good, and bad, things going on. Lightning Lenny was sitting in the control room in the Defenders of Neopia headquarters. It was his turn to man the computer and monitor the state of the current missions. It was a busy day; all of the heroes were out on missions. Only he and Judge Hog were still at the HQ.
He looked at the surveillance pictures from around the building. One displayed a faerie Usul who was walking into the building. A minute later she walked into the control room.
“The situation has been handled, Lightning. It was the Meerca Brothers again,” she reported. “Honestly, you’d think that they’d learn after a while, the National Neopian knows them and they’re never going to get away with stealing anything from there.”
“You’d think, but one thing I’ve learned is never to expect those two to learn anything. At least it makes them easy to deal with. Thanks for pitching in since we’re short staffed here today, Chloe,” Lightning Lenny replied.
“I’m glad to help in any way I can. Is there anything else I can help with today?”Chloe asked.
“No, I think we’re good. Torchio and Mammoth ought to be back any time now. Thanks for all your help, Chloe,” Lightning Lenny replied.
“Okay, I’ll see you tomorrow,” Chloe said as she left.
Lightning Lenny turned back to the monitor. A moment later a there was transmission from Torchio. Nothing came through, but suddenly the screen locked up and the building’s lights started browning out.
“What the...” Lighting Lenny muttered.
The screen started flashing and a second later the computer crashed and all the power in building went out. Lightning Lenny hurried to restore the power. When the power came back on, he raced back to the control room where he found Judge Hog waiting.
“What just happened?” Judge Hog demanded.
“I have no clue, sir. There was a transmission from Torchio, but nothing came through and then the computer froze and crashed and that caused the power outage. Let me boot up the computers.”
Lightning Lenny quickly attempted to boot up the computer, but all it did was make a strange whirring sound.
“No good, sir, the computer is dead. I think we were attacked. Whatever it was attacked us as Torchio’s call was coming in. I think it came in on his signal. Torchio could be in trouble,” Lightning Lenny said.
“I’ll go check on him,” Judge Hog said, starting to leave.
“I’ll go with you,” Lightning Lenny called after him.
Judge Hog turned back and said, “You can’t; we need that computer up and running again. You have more technical experience. You have to stay and fix it.”
“If something happened to Torchio, you could be walking into a trap. You need someone to watch your back,” Lightning protested.
They were interrupted by the sound of running footsteps. Chloe came running into the control room.
“I saw all the lights go out, is everything all right?” Chloe asked.
Judge Hog turned to the girl and said, “We don’t know yet, Chloe. Our systems are down. Something might have happened to one of our agents. I need to go check on him and I could use some back up, but Lightning needs to get the computers up and running. I know you’re not an actual agent, but can I count on you?”
“Of course, you know you can always count on me, sir!” Chloe cried.
Judge Hog raced outside with Chloe at his heels. Torchio had been on Roo Island dealing with Mr. Chuckles. When they arrived on Roo Island, they quickly made their way to the Merry-Go-Round, where Mr. Chuckles was last seen causing trouble. The place was completely normal and there was no sign of Torchio or Mr. Chuckles.
“There’s no sign of Torchio; what could have happened here?” Judge Hog mused aloud.
“Wait, sir. Look over there, in that tree, isn’t that one of the communicators that the Defenders use?” Chloe asked, pointing.
Judge Hog looked and saw the communicator hanging from a low branch on the tree. They went over and took it down. Judge Hog tried to switch it on, but it didn’t respond.
“It’s dead,” Judge Hog said.
“Let me see. Lightning showed me how these work. I’ll open it up and see if I can fix it.”
Chloe flipped it over and removed the back. Torchio’s communicator was much larger than the average wrist communicator, due to the fact that it had to be made to withstand the intense heat he radiated.
She shook her head. “They’ve already tampered with it; it’s totally destroyed. Sorry, Judge Hog, whoever is responsible for his disappearance left this as a calling card.”
“There is nothing more we can do here then. We should get back and see if Lightning Lenny has made any progress,” Judge Hog replied.
The two returned to Defenders HQ where Lightning Lenny was waiting. The computer was running again.
“Give me the news,” Judge Hog said.
“Well, the hard drive is dead, it’ll be impossible to find out what hit us at this time. I’ve already contacted our Virtupets contact about trying to repair it and find out. This is a back-up hard drive I swapped out. I tried to contact the other agents, but their communicators are offline. Whatever hit us must have been meant to disrupt our communications so that whoever sent it could surprise attack all the agents in the field. Whoever did this was very well coordinated, much better than our normal foes. I think we’re dealing with a new threat here, and we’re on our own. We’re the only two Defenders left,” Lightning Lenny told.
“What are we going to do?” Chloe asked.
“Call Loraine, Lightning,” Judge Hog said as he turned to look at Chloe. “Chloe, I know you haven’t had the kind of training we usually put agents through, but we’re going to need all the help we can get. However, we can’t send you out into the field unequipped or as yourself. One of Loraine’s many responsibilities includes creating superhero personas for the agents.”
Chloe saluted and said, “Glad to be of service, sir!”
A Purple Ixi in a silver business suit walked into the room. She pulled a strand of lavender hair out of her eyes and asked, “You called, sir?”
“I did. Loraine, meet Chloe. Chloe, is this Loraine. Chloe is a new recruit and I need you to get her outfitted and ready as fast as you can,” Judge Hog said.
“She’s rather young, isn’t she? Don’t worry, young lady, I’m sure you’ll do fine. Judge Hog wouldn’t make you an agent otherwise. Come along now.”
Loraine walked out with Chloe in tow.
“Are you sure that this is a good idea, boss?” Lightning Lenny asked. “I mean, no one can fault Chloe’s dedication, but she’s hasn’t had all the necessary training.”
“Desperate times call for desperate measures. Besides, I wasn’t trained either and look how well I did. I founded the Defenders. Now, give me the last known locations of all the missing agents.”
Chloe and Loraine rode the elevator down three floors.
“I didn’t know there are levels below ground to the HQ,” Chloe commented.
“Yes, the HQ goes down a quite a few floors. It is quite the technological marvel. I recruited quite a few former Virtupets engineers to build this place. We would make Doctor Sloth absolutely furious if he knew what he lost,” Loraine replied as she the elevator stopped.
“Really, you recruited them? So, what is your story, Loraine?” Chloe asked as they got out.
“Maybe I’ll tell you someday, and if I don’t, you can squeeze it out of someone else.” Loraine laughed as she opened the door in front of them. “Here we are; this is where the magic happens.
On one side of the room was a computer, much like the one upstairs, only smaller. On the other side had a door in it and Chloe went over and poked her head in. It was a giant closet, brimming with costume parts.
“Wow, this puts the NC Mall to shame!” Chloe cried in amazement.
“First things first, we need to create your costume,” Loraine called. “Get up on that platform, Chloe.”
Chloe came out of the closet and noticed a little raised platform in the middle of the room. She got on it as she asked, “Shouldn’t we pick a name first? I mean, don’t we have to build around the name?”
“That is a common rookie mistake. No, you build your costume around your power if you have one, and then pick a name that suits,” Loraine explained.
“That makes sense,” Chloe conceded.
“All right, an Usul. I’ve never done an Usul before,” Loraine mused.
“I’m not an Usul, I’m a labbie,” Chloe replied.
“Thank Fyora you mentioned that now. Okay, that means that we design the costume around that detail. We’re going to need a full body suit that can stretch to fit any form,” Loraine said.
“Do you really have something that could do that? Won’t I need a new costume every change?” Chloe asked.
“No, that would be too much trouble. Our suits and accessories are all made by faerie tailors, so they are pretty special. Okay, back to designing your suit. I think black is your color, Chloe. Wait right here.” Loraine was in the zone.
Loraine walked into the closet and came back a minute later with a skin-tight black body suit. It went all the down on the arms and legs and over her feet and hands and all the way up her neck. She helped Chloe into it.
“That looks good on you, and it will always look good on you, whether you are a Skeith or a Pteri or anything in between. Okay, now for your face. Hazel contacts, red mask, and wig with black hair, Shenkuu style, just for mystery.”
Loraine disappeared into the closet again and returned bearing a hat box, a little box, and a mask. She handed the little box to Chloe. Inside were contacts and she took them out and put them in. It was surprising the difference the contacts made.
Loraine pulled a black wig out of the box. It was in Shenkuu style and it had red ornaments in the hair. Loraine settled it on her head Chloe could feel it lock down on her head.
“Faerie-made as I said, no expense spared, after all it’s got to hold on even in the fiercest fight. Those ornaments double as weapons and lock picks. In the future I’ll teach you how to use them. Put on your mask now, Chloe,” Loraine explained.
Chloe tied the mask on. Loraine looked at her and put her head on the side as she pondered.
“You need red accessories to match that mask; you need a cape and a belt,” she decided.
Loraine went back into the closet and came out with a long red cape and a red belt.
She helped Chloe with the latches and then said, “Perfect. As I’ve said before, this made by faeries so it has a special perk. You can fly while wearing it, so when you don’t have wings it is invaluable. Well, what do you think, dear?”
“I dunno,” Chloe replied slowly. “Aren’t red and black villain colors?”
“No, they are simply colors. Judge Hog wears red and black.”
“True, but Judge Hog also wears yellow, and that color really sets the whole tone,” Chloe countered.
“It’s not the colors, dear; it’s who wears the colors. You can do villainy dressed in ribbons and rainbows and you can save the day wearing a Doctor Sloth costume,” Loraine replied.
Chloe’s countenance brightened. “You’re absolutely right! Besides, this costume is awesome.”
“Good; now that the costume is settled, you’ll need a new name. Since you’ll be changing constantly, you’ll need one that reflects that. I like... Morphica.”
“Awesome!” Chloe agreed.
To be continued...