Chronicles of a Caped Crusader: Morphica Begins - Part Five
"The Defender's HQ just went into lockdown. What do you think of that, Veronica?"
"Judge Hog must have left the building," Veronica replied.
"Funny, there was no sign of him leaving and he has not been spotted in the skies over Neopia Central."
"What about Morphica?" Veronica asked.
"No sign of her either. You seem very interested in this new agent."
"I'm not! She's a little upstart; she'll regret what she's gotten herself into. I just thought that tracking her will help us figure out what they are up to and where Judge Hog is," Veronica snapped.
"Don't worry, Veronica. Judge Hog will lose this time. There is no way he can find out who we are or where we are."
"Marcus thought like that too and look what happened to him," Veronica countered.
Judge Hog and Chloe got out of the elevator on the floor before the last.
"How are we going to get to Mystery Island without Veronica and her mysterious partner seeing us? They would be total idiots if they weren't watching the skies around Neopia Central closely. They've already proven that they are normally one step ahead of us," Chloe was asking as she followed Judge Hog down the hall.
"Don't worry, Morphica, you'll see. Ladies first," Judge Hog replied.
In front of them was a lift just like the one a floor below that took her to the secret exit. Chloe got in the lift and Judge Hog got in behind her. The doors closed and it took off.
"How many tunnels and lifts like this do we have running under Neopia Central?" Chloe asked.
"About ten, including the one you know about. The entire base was built by former Virtupets engineers, so the HQ is the most cutting edge technological marvel in Neopia Central. Nine lead outside into Neopia Central like the one you've ridden in, but this one is different. Just wait until we arrive at our destination and you'll see what I'm talking about," Judge Hog told.
"So, this organization and planning that this Veronica has shown; does it bear any resemblance to Marcus' style?" Chloe asked.
"It does a little, which bothers me since I don't know how Veronica would have been able to learn enough about him to acquire his style. I know that Vicki would not have kept records of Captain Nefarious where her daughter could find them; she wanted badly to forget that her brother was Captain Nefarious," Judge Hog said.
"You said he took on apprentices; did you catch all of them, and are all of them still accounted for?" Chloe questioned.
"All the ones we knew about we caught and they are all still accounted for. We made sure that what Marcus passed on was contained. I suppose that there is the possibility that he could have had an apprentice that we never knew about," Judge Hog admitted.
The lift stopped and the doors opened on the opposite side. They were in a hanger and on the far wall were huge hanger doors, though they were deep underground. Captain K's spaceship was sitting here.
"Where are we and why is Captain K's spaceship down here?" Chloe asked.
"We are underwater; Captain K's spaceship is capable of operating underwater as well as in space, so we'll launch right into the ocean. We'll be arriving at Mystery Island while they're still trying to figure out why the building went into lockdown mode without us leaving first. They'll be frantically scanning Neopia Central for some sign of us while we'll be talking to Vicki on Mystery Island." Judge Hog laughed.
"You've thought of everything, haven't you? I never realized what a marvel the HQ was," Chloe cried in amazement.
"Of course you hadn't, Morphica. That is the greatest marvel of it all; no one other than the Defenders knows."
The spaceship surfaced far to the south-west end of the island. Judge Hog and Chloe got out and Judge Hog pressed a button on his wrist communicator and ship vanished below the surface of the water. A few yards away was a lone house. Judge Hog headed for it and Chloe followed. The front door was open and he knocked on the doorframe.
"Come in," called out a sad voice.
They entered and turned right and came into a sitting room. The room was filled with sunlight. The windows faced the sea and the pleasant sound of waves crashing on the shore could be heard through them. Chloe looked around the room and she noticed pictures of the pink Acara all over. There was one picture of Marcus on the wall, he was a teenager and he was wearing a lab coat. That was the way Vicki wanted to remember her little brother.
In a chair by the window sat an Island Acara. She wasn't that old, but there were deep lines in her face. An open book lay in her lap, but she wasn't reading it; she was looking at a picture of Veronica as a small child. After a minute she looked up at them, her eyes so dull.
"Hello, Judge Hog, will you and your friend sit down?" Vicki asked quietly.
They sat down and Judge Hog introduced Morphica to Vicki.
"Morphica is so young; why, she can't be any older than my daughter. I suppose that is why you are here." Vicki sighed.
"Then you know what Veronica is up to?" Chloe asked.
"I suspected what she might be doing. Still, I wanted to believe that she wouldn't really go through with it. I was also afraid if she saw me going to Neopia Central, she would know what I was doing and stop me before I made it there. I decided the best thing to do was wait here and if anything happened you knew where to find me. What has she done?" Vicki explained.
"She has abducted all of the Defenders, with the exception of Morphica and myself. The only reason things didn't go as she planned was because she apparently didn't plan for the possibility of a new Defender. As far she knows, we don't know who she is and we're still in Neopia Central, so you can speak freely," Judge Hog told her. "Vicki, I'm so sorry, but we need your help again; please tell us all you can."
Vicki's head dropped as she gave a great sigh. "Oh, I was so afraid of this. I was so afraid that this would happen again. Yes, Judge Hog, I will tell you what I know. Veronica has chosen her own path and must suffer the consequences of it."
"It all started with Marcus. What happened all those years ago was never really over. As you know, Marcus was brilliant; our entire family is made up of geniuses, myself included. Veronica's IQ is higher than mine, but she isn't nearly the level that Marcus was. Despite her intelligence, Veronica was aimless; I could not convince her to do anything with it. I tried to get her to be a doctor like myself or a teacher or a scientist, but I couldn't get her to stick to anything. I was worried that she would lapse into the boredom that led Marcus to villainy, and then again, I hoped that she might be too lazy to do anything like that. Things passed peacefully and it was easy to forget the past.
"Then two years ago she came home from work and told me that she had met an old colleague of Marcus'. She never knew my brother and I never spoke of him, so I guess she was curious. She told me that he was a colleague of his from years ago when he was a scientist. They struck up a friendship. I didn't see any harm in the friendship, since as far as Marcus' old friends knew, he got a little careless and died in an experiment gone wrong.
"It turned out that he wasn't a scientist friend; he was an apprentice of Captain Nefarious'. Over time he told Veronica the truth about her uncle. She was mad that I had never told her that and confronted me about it. She seemed to think that he was so sort of misunderstood genius instead of the criminal maniac that he was. I loved Marcus dearly, but I abhor what he became. I told her that straight out. I also told her that I had turned him in and that no daughter of mine was going to follow in his footsteps. She told me that she was no daughter of mine and left, and I could do was hope that she wouldn't really go through with anything.
"Then a year and a half passed by quietly without word from her or any rumor of her doing anything criminal. I had begun to hope that Veronica had simply been dramatic and she would come home and life would go on as it had. Finally she did come home, no longer the Pink Acara she was born as, but a Mutant Acara. She told me that she was going to bring down the Defenders of Neopia for what they had done to Captain Nefarious and she wanted all the information I could give her about his machines and plans. She was certain that I must have kept his blueprints and things. I had, but when she had revealed her admiration for her uncle's evil side, I burned them. She believed me and left again. That was three months ago. I have not seen her since."
"I'm so sorry, Judge Hog. I don't know what I did wrong. I tried so hard to raise her to be a law-abiding citizen and prevent my family from ever causing that kind of trouble again," Vicki finished.
"Don't worry, Vicki, this isn't your fault. I know that nothing you did would have caused this to happen. Do you have anymore information about this former apprentice that Veronica met?" Judge Hog asked.
"I never actually met him, I suppose he was afraid I would see through him and turn him in. Veronica always referred to him as the colonel. At first I thought it was a nickname or something, but I guess that it is part of his villain name. He worked in a lab not far from the Rock Pool. That was where Veronica met him; she was doing secretarial work there. Not long later after Veronica left, I heard it was sold and the old business moved out, but no one moved in there; it is still empty," Vicki told him.
Judge Hog stood up. "Thank you, Vicki."
Vicki nodded and said, "Morphica, when you find my daughter, tell her that I love her and then knock some sense into her."
Chloe stood up and said, "Will do, ma'am."
To be continued...