All Just a Little Bit of History Repeating: Part Eight
I woke this morning to some pleasant news. During the night, as expected, Judge Irons ordered a major assault against the people of the Docklands. The morning newspaper reports that upwards of two hundred citizens were arrested for civil disobedience, most of whom I would wager were innocent. There are already rumbles of dissent and unrest coming from those remaining in the Docklands, and even a few from some other districts. The wheels are now in motion, and it is only a matter of time until the people march and the trap is sprung.
From what I hear on the streets, Judge Hog and his likeminded Defenders refused to take part, and have taken traffic duty in the more upmarket districts instead – preserving their reputations when the Defenders eventually fall. Unfortunately, I may not be able to observe the act, as I am due to leave the city for my own time this evening. I long for the return to my own city. I do not think I could bear living out the remainder of my days here, should the Professor’s experiment fail.
Jennings had spent most of the day waiting in the confines of the Museum under the orders of Professor Thornpipe, who seemed overly concerned of Jennings making more changes now that the main problem had been relatively solved.
It wasn’t until near six in the evening that Thornpipe sent for the Krawk. Jennings exited the Museum, taking the institute’s carriage across the city. With Quantum the Snowbunny sitting next to him as he cracked the reins, Jennings made his way across the city. He noted with some curiosity the red glow coming from the direction of the Docklands, as if the fires of the previous day were still burning.
Eventually, Jennings found himself on Parkhirst Road. Professor Thornpipe was already positioned at the opposite end of the road, busily attending to last minute preparations. The Draik gave Jennings a confident thumbs up as the carriage pulled into the side.
There was nothing else to do for Jennings but wait. As the minutes ticked by, he picked up Quantum and began stroking him. The little Snowbunny twitched his nose appreciatively, completely unaware of the journey it had undertaken, and the one it was about to undertake again.
Jennings was lost in his own thoughts, of his experiences in the past, and his thoughts of returning to the future. Having spent several weeks in the past, Jennings’s instincts told him that lots of work would need to be done to restore his flagging businesses – but if Thornpipe was to be believed, Jennings would arrive as if he had never left.
The Krawk barely noticed as another carriage came to a stop beside him. As he glanced over, he was drawn out of his daydreaming with alarming speed.
Super Hog, the Defender who would become Judge Hog, was staring at him with a grave face.
“I’ve been looking for you,” he stated gravely.
“You’re here to arrest me?” Jennings asked.
The Moehog nodded.
“I’m afraid I can’t let you do that,” the Krawk replied.
He was already cracking the reins before he finished speaking. His carriage shot forwards, giving him a head start over the future Judge. The Moehog didn’t delay long, following close behind.
Ahead in the street, Thornpipe was atop the building’s roof, busily tending to the magical equipment. As he noticed the chase, he looked towards Jennings with horror.
“Carry on!” Jennings called up as he passed. “I’ll circle round and catch the surge then!”
Thornpipe nodded as both carriages sped past him, Jennings cornering hard and veering off down another street, Super Hog right on his tail.
Jennings cracked the reins again, getting as much speed as he could from the Whinnies. If he hadn’t been so concerned with escaping his pursuer, he might have noticed the lack of other carriages on the roads – as if a lot of the city’s inhabitants were busy elsewhere that evening.
Jennings turned again, but Super Hog was still close behind. The Krawk wouldn’t be able to shake him in time, but hopefully he would be able to escape to a place where the Defender could not follow.
Meanwhile, back on the street, Thornpipe was madly checking the instruments on the rooftop devices. It was less than two minutes until the power surge was due – and if Jennings didn’t make it in time then there was no telling when, or even if they would get a second chance.
The Draik let out a strangled scream as he noticed that one of the power uplinks hanging from the roof had come away, interrupting the entire power supply to the device. Carefully, he began to edge along the guttering to reach the cables and reconnect them before it was too late.
Not far away, at the Defenders of Neopia Headquarters, those Defenders not in league with Super Hog were gathered for the celebration. It wasn’t a black tie event with guests from the Hills, just a short gathering for serving Defenders as the building was officially opened.
Judge Irons stood near a panel that would turn on the spotlights and internal systems of the building. The fire Eyrie had a grave look on his face – the previous night’s activities weighing heavily on his shoulders. Not out of remorse, but rather that he’d actually had to go out of his way to deal with the Docklands problem.
He checked his pocket watch, and nodded to a Yurble nearby, who began the countdown.
Jennings rounded the corner back onto Parkhirst Road, the wheels of the carriage screeching as they skidded.
Super Hog rounded the corner, steely determination in his eyes as he focused on the carriage in front.
Quantum the Snowbunny shivered slightly, nuzzling closer inside Jennings’s jacket.
Thornpipe pulled the two lengths of cable together, only to discover they didn’t quite meet. Glancing up at the approaching carriages, he held one length of cable firmly in each hand, resigning himself to his fate and hoping the electricity didn’t fry his brain too much.
Jennings dropped the reins, reaching up for the cable hanging down in the middle of the road, while grabbing hold of the beaten Petpet cage with his free hand.
Judge Irons pressed the button, and for the briefest of moments, the glory of the shining white Defenders building was lit up for all to see.
On Parkhirst Road, Thornpipe’s body convulsed with the electricity passing through it, as Jennings made contact with the cable.
As before, there was a strange tingling feeling, followed by the sensation that the world was blurring, ever so slightly. Then, as expected, Jennings was blown clean off his feet.
The bang that followed signalled a power outage for dozens of surrounding blocks. The carriage, now without a driver, skidded and toppled, the Whinnies disappearing off into the night.
Super Hog brought his own carriage to a stop nearby, and climbed off to investigate the wreckage. He didn’t find the Krawk, only a small burnt patch where he had been sitting. A white envelope sat on the seat next to the burnt patch, shining in the moonlight.
Super Hog picked it up and stared at it curiously. The message on the envelope read, ‘Do not open until Year 13’
Behind him, the Moehog heard an impact as a Draik fell from a nearby roof. The creature was visibly smoking, and his hair exploded in erratic locks all over his head.
“You!” the Moehog demanded. “Who are you?”
The Draik stared at the Moehog, but seemed more like he was staring past him.
“Me?” he asked, twitching slightly. “Thornpipe, I think... yes? Alvare Thornpipe. I’m Head of Magical Research over at the Museum, aren’t I?”
“Where’s Frobisher?” Super Hog demanded. “The Krawk with the moustache, where is he?”
The Professor twitched again. “No idea who you mean. Though, did you know, I’ve just come up with a fantastic idea! Recyclable tombs!”
The Moehog stared at the Professor as he beamed insanely and then hobbled off down the street.
At the same time, not far away at the Defenders of Neopia Headquarters, the power cut out. The gathered crowd of corrupt Defenders sighed as the magnificent structure was plunged back into darkness.
Or not complete darkness, as it turned out when their eyes quickly adjusted to the sudden lack of light. There was a red glow lighting up the building, flickering ever so slightly.
As one, the Defenders turned to find the source of the glow. Converging on them from all sides with burning torches was a mob of disgruntled citizens. The Defenders backed towards their new building, and Judge Irons set his jaw solidly. They were hopelessly outnumbered.
By the following morning, none of them would be Defenders anymore.
Jennings flew backwards, hitting the opposite wall with some force and falling to the floor. On the opposite side, he heard someone fall to the ground from the roof.
Struggling to get to his feet, he limped over to the stricken Techo and helped him up.
“Did it work?” the old Professor questioned.
“If by work, you mean electrocute me, then yes,” Jennings answered. “As for time travel, I regret that it did not.”
Jennings handed back Quantum and the Petpet cage.
“All that research, for nothing!” Professor Bungle sighed, before staring at Jennings. “Did you have a moustache before?”
Jennings paused, realising he hadn’t taken off his disguise. He turned away, quickly removing it, before returning his gaze to the Professor.
“What moustache?” Jennings asked. “I think you may have hit your head, Professor. It may be best if you had a lie down.”
“Yes, yes, perhaps you’re right,” the Techo agreed, limping off into the smog with the Snowbunny in his arms.
Jennings breathed in the polluted air, and his nose recognised the smell. He was back, this was his city again. It had worked.
He turned to return to his tower in the Docklands, but noticed a new figure emerging through the smog.
It was Judge Hog.
“Welcome back,” the Moehog stated when he was close enough.
“Pardon?” Jennings asked.
The Judge held out his hand. In it were letters, written in the Krawk’s handwriting.
“I waited, thirty years to the day,” the Judge explained. “I must say, it all makes a lot of sense now, Jennings. Or would you prefer Frobisher?”
“Professor Thornpipe was very keen that no one knew, Judge,” Jennings said quickly. “I hope you do not intend to share this information.”
“No, not share it,” the Judge replied. “Though I know it, and that’s enough.”
Both men stood in the street, staring at each other in silence.
“Are you here to arrest me then?” Jennings asked at last.
“No,” the Judge replied. “Thirty years ago, I think I was wrong... you did what you had to in order to save the city you knew.”
“Besides,” he added. “You’re still useful. You’d just better hope you don’t stop being useful any time soon, because I’m watching.”
The Judge turned to leave, but paused to say, “I underestimated you when you first came to Neopia Central, Jennings. I thought you were just some crazed criminal... but you went out of your way to save this city. I won’t underestimate you again.”
“I underestimated you,” Jennings replied. “I thought you were just a brainless Defender. I won’t underestimate you either.”
The words conveyed a very definite threat, but both of them knew it was meaningless. Jennings needed the Judge to keep the law, but the Judge needed Jennings to keep crime under control. More importantly than that, the city needed both to survive. They would both do everything they could to keep each other in their respective positions.
The two parted ways to return to their towers – opposites, but equals.