Chronicles of a Caped Crusader: Against All Odds - Part Seven
"Got it!" Chloe cried.
"Got what?" Judge Hog asked, getting out the chair and stooping down to look.
Chloe waved her hand at the tangled mess of wires. "I got the distress beacon online."
Chloe jumped up and bent over the console. She pressed a button and the computer announced, "Distress beacon activated."
"I also seem to have managed to turn on the computer's voice. Captain K disabled that feature, said the computer talking at him annoyed him." Chloe gestured at the screen. "It gives a read out on the screen, so you don't really need it to verbally announce your every action."
"Very good, Chloe. I don't know how you did it. Those wires just look like a mess to me," Judge Hog complimented her.
Chloe looked at her communicator which also had the time on it. "We've been down here for roughly four hours. I'm sure Loraine already knows we are in need of help, but now she'll know that we're okay since we're working on the ship."
"Good. She plays a cool face, but she was probably mentally freaking about you," Judge Hog replied.
"Us. I'm sure I'm not the only one she's worried about," Chloe corrected.
Chloe got back down and looked into the console again. "Now, let's see if I can get the com working."
Judge Hog sat back down in the co-pilot's seat, but was silent again, looking out towards the sea.
"You're not seriously going to leave me hanging, are you, Boss? I've waited years to hear the whole story about Nefarious," Chloe reminded him.
He came out of his reverie with a laugh. "No, Chloe, I wouldn't do that to you. So, to continue, two years passed without a sighting of Nefarious. He appeared often enough through his pawns. Soon he was sending them out at a rate of one every other month. We would take them down as quickly as we could, but sometimes we had two or three running around at the same time. During those two years our team grew to include Aisheena, Captain K, Danger Buzz, and Mammoth. We branched out around the world at last, though wherever we went, we found Nefarious' apprentices. Finally, Nefarious himself reemerged. We took him down together, and it was at last the beginning of the end."
"Mummy, I'm bored," Veronica complained.
The ten-year-old Pink Acara lounged on the couch and whined.
"Veronica, I thought we agreed that there would be no more 'Mummy, I'm bored' from you. I've worked hard to give you many options to amuse yourself with," Vicki said firmly.
"But, Mummy, they aren't amusing anymore. I did them all over and over," Veronica protested.
"Veronica, you haven't touched that surfboard I got you. I think you are the only kid on the island who hasn't tried surfing."
"But, people get hurt surfing. You're a doctor; do you really want me to try something that could get me hurt?" Veronica challenged.
"Veronica, I have seen enough people who tripped in their own houses and hit their head on the floor. Go surfing."
Veronica grabbed the newspaper off the table. "This Captain Nefarious looks like a fun fellow. I'll be he's never bored. I wish I could be like him."
Vicki snatched the paper from her daughter's hand. "Captain Nefarious is a very bad man. He has done very many wrongs. He is not fun, he is not someone who you should respect or admire. Judge Hog and the Defenders of Neopia are. Crime is not a joke."
"Yes, Mummy," Veronica said demurely.
Vicki kissed her daughter's forehead. "You're a good girl, always be one?"
"Yes, Mummy. I love you, Mummy." Veronica hugged her mother. "I'll go try out the surfboard."
Veronica got up and went to her room to change into her swimsuit. Vicki realized she was still holding the paper. She looked down at the headline.
'Captain Nefarious Reemerges at Last!'
She looked at the picture below the head line, capturing the giant robot and the Defenders fighting it. Her heart stopped beating.
"It can't be."
Vicki went running to her room. She threw open the closet doors so hard things fell from the shelves. She reached around at the back until her fingers felt an old cardboard box. She pulled it down and brought it to her bed, opening it with trembling fingers.
In it were Marcus' blueprints from when he was small. He used to design machines and robots as a child. She was a fond big sister and had collected the discarded papers and saved them. She dug through it, hoping she was mistaken. She wasn't.
She pulled out a blueprint for a miniature robot that looked startlingly like the robot on the front page. She stared at the two pictures for ten minutes, her mind unable to process what she was seeing. When her mind finally wrapped itself around the possibility, denial and defiance came out. She dropped the blueprint back in the box and closed the lid. She shoved it back on the shelf. She then ripped the newspaper into tiny fragments.
"It's not true, it's not. My Marcus is a good man; my baby brother is a good person. It's not true," Vicki sobbed. "It's not true!"
Nefarious sent another apprentice off to torment the world with his usual warped grin. Behind him he heard a discreet cough. It was Iniquitous. The Magma Yurble looked troubled.
"Master, when will be my turn? I've been with you for nearly two years. You don't treat me like the others," Iniquitous said. "You never tell them anything about you, or take them out of the bases you set up for them. But, you let me know everything about you; you take me with you wherever you go. Why am I so different?"
"Because you are loyal. I could let you go and they would never break you, never make you talk. You would never betray me," Nefarious told him.
"Yes, so why can't I go? Why can't I try my hand against the Defenders of Neopia?" Iniquitous asked.
"Because you're my backup plan. When the day comes, if it comes, you're my successor."
"I don't understand, what day? Why would you need a successor?" Iniquitous truly believed that Nefarious could never be beaten.
"Don't worry about it, Iniquitous. If the day comes, you'll know of what I speak. But, it may never come, so don't worry."
Iniquitous smiled and moved away. Nefarious' computer beeped, a message from Vicki.
'Marcus, what exactly is it that you do? I'm sorry; I know how rude and pushy that sounds. It's just that I miss you and I really want to see you, but you always say you're too busy. Veronica hasn't seen her uncle in five years, do you really want to be such a stranger to your niece? If whatever it is that you are doing is so demanding that you can't get a few days off then you should just quit. With your talents, you could get a job anywhere. Please, Mark, please, I need to see you.
Forever proud to be your sister,
The letter would have sent a chill through him if he were still made of flesh. He had a horrible feeling that Vicki knew the truth. Her desperate letter was a plea for him to prove her suspicions wrong.
Without hesitation, he decided to buy a paint brush and show up on her doorstep as the Electric Eyrie she knew and loved. To see her one last time, before she finally admitted to the truth and they were separated forever by it.
Marcus had stayed for two days. Vicki had tried to convince him to stay, to quit his job, to stop being Captain Nefarious. He hadn't admitted to it, but he hadn't denied it. They hadn't actually come out about it, but it was clear what they meant. Vicki's desperate plea for him to prove her wrong had only served to show her that she had been right all along.
It all made sense, his absence, his inability to tell her about what he was doing all those years. Especially his deep interest in Judge Hog all those years ago when he had come to visit her. She remembered how he gathered old newspapers, learning all he could about the crime fighter. The strange, almost manic, light in his eyes. She hadn't thought anything of it then; Marcus always took everything to extremes.
But, it wasn't just a slight interest in the crime fighter and his usual way of doing things. He had found someone to play with, a new way to stay amused. He left her house to go create Captain Nefarious. Every hero needed an arch-villain.
She was torn. Marcus was her brother, her beloved little brother. She had always been there for him. In spite of their significant age gap they had been the best of friends during their all too short childhoods. She loved Marcus, she despised Nefarious, and yet they were one in the same.
She hadn't been joking all those years ago when she told Marcus that Judge Hog was her hero. He was. She respected him and the Defenders of Neopia so much for what they had done. She had become a doctor to help people. She respected the law; she tried to do good wherever she could. She was a good person.
But now she was faced with a horrible choice, Judge Hog or Marcus. What Marcus was doing was so wrong, and he would keep going, and one day he would do worse. But, to stop him would mean to expose him, to turn on him. When they caught him, he would go to prison for the rest of his life. That would drive him absolutely mad. But, he was doing wrong, he was hurting people, he had become a bad person.
Her head sank into her hands, her brown hair loose and falling around her face, hiding her agony. She made her decision.
To be continued...