Chronicles of a Caped Crusader: Perception - Part Two
It had been a setup and now an agent of Colonel Iniquitous was loose in the Defenders of Neopia HQ. Judge Hog and Orig were down already. Chloe slammed her hand down on the button to initiate a full HQ lockdown. A box popped up on the screen asking for her password and she put it in. A second box popped up asking for another.
"I'm not high ranking enough to set it myself," Chloe started, but before she had even finished her sentence Lightning had put his in.
The lockdown started, all exits to the outside sealed and bulkheads dropped over them, preventing a breach from inside and out. All the lights turned on as the windows were covered with eight inches of solid Tiranium. They were now trapped inside the HQ, with a hostile Air Faerie on the loose.
"Lightning, can you lock the controls for the release of the lockdown so that only Judge Hog and Loraine's passwords together can undo it?" Chloe asked.
"Yeah, but do we want to do that? Judge Hog is unconscious and he might need faerie help, and if we lock the system then we are shut in for good and won't be able to get him out," Lightning pointed out.
"I'm sure Loraine can unlock it all on her own if she needed. I want two just in case," Chloe said.
Lightning's fingers were a blur as he programmed the computer and then he asked, "What now?"
"You're asking me?" Chloe cried. "You're the ranking agent here!"
"I know, but you need the experience. You're in charge, what next?" Lightning explained.
"Is this really the best time? We've had a security breach and I'm not in costume," Chloe pointed out.
"We could waste more time arguing over this," Lightning rebutted.
"Fine." Chloe pulled a Virtublaster 1000 out from under the computer console and then locked the computer access. "Let's get downstairs and find some of the other agents. I'm surprised no one has come up here to ask what's going on yet."
Lightning nodded and they hurried towards the elevator. Chloe missed the weight of her cudgels, but she knew a long range weapon would be better against a Faerie. She wouldn't want to get close enough to her to use the cudgels.
They got in the elevator and pressed the button to go down to the third floor, where the faerie should be on the loose. Chloe adjusted her blaster to the strongest stun setting. She knew that she would likely only get one shot if the faerie was waiting when the elevator opened. She put her back against the wall alongside the door. The doors opened and a thick purple fog filled the elevator.
"Don't breathe it!" Lightning cried, but it was already too late for both of them.
Chloe felt her consciousness slipping away, but she hit the button to carry them all the way to the bottom floor. Her body fell to the floor, her mind no longer in control of it. She made one last attempt to force herself to regain control, failed, and then everything went dark.
"Hey, wake up, Clo." Chloe felt someone shaking her.
She groaned and rolled over.
"Don't sit up!"
The warning was too late, her eyes burned and her head hurt as if her brain had tried to smash its way through her skull. She curled up and grabbed her head.
"Sorry, should have warned you sooner. It'll pass in a moment." Chloe realized it was Lightning speaking.
"When I find that Faerie, I'm gonna make her regret her life choices, big time," Chloe growled, the pain beginning to ease.
"We've been out for a while. The HQ is quiet; I wonder if we are the only ones awake?" Lightning said.
Chloe sat up slowly and picked up her reading glasses, which were lying on the floor. She put them in her shirt pocket and looked around. They were still in the elevator and it was still on the bottom floor.
"Probably," Chloe replied. "I managed to hit the button to take us down here before I collapsed. The elevator sealed and took us down. The fog must have cleared out of the elevator, but it is probably still going strong in the upper levels, keeping our fellow agents out."
"That makes sense," Lightning replied. "The lockdown is still in effect, at least. We can't go back up without hitting the fog again and we'll just be knocked out again. Even if with my speed, I couldn't hold my breath long enough to get through two elevator rides and finding and stopping the Faerie."
"I've got an idea. We just have to hope that the fog hasn't reached the level directly above us," Chloe said, standing up and reaching for the button. She pressed it and said, "Here goes nothing."
The elevator ascended and stopped. They held their breath as the doors opened. No fog crept in and they breathed a sigh of relief. They got out and Lightning asked what her plan was.
"Well, I haven't been to this level since our last tangle with Veronica and Iniquitous, but I saw something then, and I hope that they are still there."
They entered the underwater hanger that Chloe and Judge Hog had launched Captain K's spaceship from months ago. On the wall there was a waterproof cabinet. Chloe opened it and sighed with relief, inside was diving equipment. They pulled out two oxygen tanks and masks and put them on.
"Let's go get that Faerie," Chloe said and Lightning grinned in response.
They got back in the elevator and pressed the button for the first floor. Again Chloe found herself pressed up against the wall, blaster in hand, waiting for the doors to open. The doors opened and the fog rolled in. They carefully looked around the door, but the Faerie was nowhere to be seen. Quietly they crept down the hall towards the control room. When they got close, they could hear beeping from the control panel.
Chloe looked around the door frame into the room. The Air Faerie was standing at the control panel typing. The computer rejected her attempt again and she cursed in the faerie language.
"I've got this," Lightning whispered in Chloe's ear.
He raced into the room and threw a punch that quickly knocked the faerie out. Chloe followed him in, and went over the console as he tied the Faerie up.
"Can we vent the HQ to clear the fog?" Chloe asked.
"Yeah, just a second." Lightning came over.
His fingers flew across the keyboard as he punched in the necessary commands. Instantly a hissing sound filled the HQ, the old air was sucked out and new, clean air was pushed in. Immediately the fog began to disappear.
"Now what?" Chloe asked.
"We take her down to a holding cell and try then check on all the other agents. Hopefully we'll be able to wake them quickly. We'll need to get Loraine and Judge Hog awake to override the lockdown," Lightning replied.
They carried the Faerie down to a room, one that sealed so that she wouldn't be able to release more of the sleeping fog if she came to. Then they split up to find Judge Hog and Loraine. Chloe headed to the offices to see if Loraine was there. She found the Ixi sprawled on the floor, blaster in hand. Wary of her reflexes, she removed the blaster before attempting to wake her.
Loraine started to stir after Chloe waved smelling salts under her nose. She gently held her down so she wouldn't sit up too fast and suffer the aftereffects. When Loraine was fully conscious she explained the situation.
"Come on, Lightning ought to have Judge Hog and Orig the Great awake by now. Let's get the other agents up and override the lockdown," Loraine said when Chloe finished.
Chloe helped Loraine to her feet and they set out. They searched the level for any other agents and moved down. It took about an hour to locate everyone, but no one had been hurt. Chloe followed Loraine to the control room where Judge Hog, Orig the Great, and Lightning were waiting. A quick check of the computers showed that the Air Faerie hadn't gotten into it.
"Boss, can I go home yet? I'm probably late," Chloe asked as she examined her glasses for damage.
"Yeah, sure thing, Chloe. Sorry about your half day," Judge Hog replied.
"These things happen when you work as superhero." Chloe tried to laugh it off as she put her glasses back on.
She waved at the others and headed for the front doors. She could hear the bulkheads unsealing as she turned the corner to the main entrance. Chloe sighed with a mixture of relief and fatigue as the doors to the HQ finally opened again. She was shocked to find it was night out. She looked at her watch and noticed it was one in the morning. She took off her glasses and rubbed the bridge of her nose. She had missed the afternoon tea with her family and friends by a long while.
To be continued...