Chronicles of a Caped Crusader: Of Beauty and Brawn - Part One
This series references events from Deeper.
It seemed like it was going to be a fairly routine day when Chloe entered the Defenders of Neopia HQ that morning. She headed to the elevator and pressed the button to call the elevator. It came up and opened its doors, revealing Judge Hog in it.
"Good morning, Chloe. We've got a situation. Meeting in ten," Judge Hog told her as he stepped out of the elevator.
Chloe gave a little salute as she got in the elevator. "You got it, Boss."
The elevator descended and she got out and headed to the dressing room. She changed into her costume and twisted her orange hair up onto her head and placed her wig on over it. She looked at herself in a mirror and marveled again at how her costume fitted perfectly on her no matter what she was. Today she was a Desert Xweetok, but tomorrow she might be a Purple Lenny, and the suit would still be a perfect fit on her.
She went back to the elevator and rode it up to Floor B1. When she entered the meeting room, she found most of the Defenders sitting there waiting. She sat in a chair between Lightning Lenny and Captain K.
"Morning, guys," Chloe greeted them.
Captain K nodded vaguely in response, his attention absorbed by a Virtupets portable computer, which was linked to his ship's computer.
Lightning grinned and asked, "What do you put your bet on this time?"
Chloe thought for a minute and then guessed, "Stolen weapons, Danger Buzz and Blackwing will be sent out to retrieve them, maybe with Mammoth as backup."
"Interesting. I suppose I'll go for a string of bank robberies. We're setting a trap at the National Neopian to catch the perp in the act. Orig in charge with Mammoth and Dr. Flexo as backup," Lightning Lenny replied.
"You're on," Chloe said just as Judge Hog, Loraine, and Orig the Great walked in.
"Good, you're all here. We can begin." Judge Hog said as they took their seats. "Over the last few weeks several shipments of powerful faerie weapons have been stolen." Chloe elbowed Lightning in the ribs and snickered under her breath. "Thus far the faeries have been unable to figure out where the stolen shipments have been taken. However, they believe that they have already left Faerieland and will be entering Neopia Central this Friday evening. We suspect that Malkus Vile will be buying the weapons to sell on the black market. An informant has told us that one of Vile's henchmen, Philip Degrass, will be a judge at the Neopian Beauty Contest this Friday. We suspect that Vile will be using the contest as a meeting place to close the deal. We will have to infiltrate the contest and keep an eye on him to catch the person he is meeting with so we can recover the weapons."
Chloe was suddenly uncomfortably aware of everyone's eyes on her. "What are you all looking at me for?"
"Well, you have had experience in the contests so it would make sense-" Loraine started.
"Oh, no way! I hate the Beauty Contests. People stare at me, and it is always crowded and hot. And the dress I wore for the last one wouldn't fit me anyway; I was a foot shorter," Chloe protested.
"You've won runner up twice; it would be normal for you to enter. Even if Vile's man recognizes you as a DoN Secretary, he won't think twice about you because you do have a history of entering," Loraine pointed out.
"No, I have history of obliging my mom. Kristy likes to dress us up on occasion and have us try, particularly me because I have a trophy wall in my room. It would look totally weird if I entered of my own accord," Chloe replied.
"Well, then. We'll have to see what we can do to help your mother along." Judge Hog said in an ominous yet humorous tone. "That is all for now. We will meet again on Friday morning to discuss our plans for the sting. You are all dismissed."
Chloe got up and Lightning followed her. "Come on, Chloe. It can't be that bad,"
"Pay up. I was half right, so you owe me," Chloe replied.
Lightning handed her the Neopoints and asked, "What do you think the Boss has up his sleeve?"
"I don't know, but I doubt it will work. Kristy is going to be covering the Snowboarding Championship that will be taking place on Terror Mountain on Friday," Chloe told him.
"Don't count the boss out. He's wily," Lightning laughed.
"We'll see," Chloe replied.
Chloe walked into her Neohome that afternoon and was immediately met by her younger sister Yanli. The hyper Christmas Zafara tackle-hugged her the moment she was through the door.
"Hello, Yanli. What are you up to? You usually attack me when we first cross paths. I assume that since you were waiting in ambush you must want something," Chloe laughed as she looked into her sister's giant blue eyes.
"Nope, Kristy asked me to. She's up in her room. She had something she wanted to show you as soon as you got home, so she asked me to play in here and wait for you. It has been fifteen minutes, but I remembered!" Yanli's short attention span was legendary.
Chloe patted her sister's head. "Thanks, sweetie. I'll go right up."
Chloe went up to Kristy's room, stopping only to drop her briefcase on the first floor landing before climbing to the second story. The door to Kristy's room was open, so she knocked on the door-frame. Her mother's room doubled as both her office and her bedroom. Kristy was sitting at her desk, writing furiously. She looked up and beamed at Chloe.
"How was work, honey?" Kristy asked, rising.
"Not bad. Mostly paperwork," Chloe replied. "Yanli said you wanted to see me?"
Kristy grabbed Chloe's hand and led her into the walk-in closet that adjoined her room. Kristy threw open one of the wardrobes and pulled out a pale green evening gown that was adorned with white lace. She also pulled out two hair clips with perfume mallows on them.
"This came today. The sender is anonymous. The card that came with it reads, 'From an old friend, because I always know how you're doing.' That last part is a little strange, I'm not sure if these are congratulation for something or if they thought I was down and need cheering up."
Chloe realized that the anonymous sender was Judge Hog. The 'I always know how you're doing' bit was a poke at Chloe through the running gag among the Defenders about Kristy's ability to scream.
"So, anyway, just look!" Kristy pushed Chloe over in front of a mirror and held the dress up in front of her. "It is just your size and the color looks ravishing on you!"
"Don't use the word ravishing, please," Chloe whimpered.
"Sorry, you're right, that's an awful word. It even sounds weird. Back on topic, I was thinking, this week's BC has a special theme, masks. I can get a mask made to match this and you could enter. Your natural orange hair color clashes with color of the dress, but we can dye it black for the night. It's not the first time we've done that. With loose silky curls, gently held off your face with the clips, and the mask! Oh my gosh, you'll be so stunning!" Kristy squealed like a fangirl at a M*YNCI concert.
"But, Kristy, you have to go to Terror Mountain on Friday to write an article on the game," Chloe pointed out.
"Not anymore! You know how I hate the cold, so I managed to convince Sheila to convince Buzz to send Sherrie. Sherrie is from Terror Mountain and she is thrilled to be going to cover the games. Besides, I was just away for nearly three weeks. I don't want to leave my babies again so soon," Kristy said.
"Not to be mean, Kristy," Chloe said, trying to sound tactful. "But, I think more things blow up when you're around."
Kristy gave a dismissive wave of her hand. "Well, then, at least you have someone to blame for all the chaos, and I am the best cook of the family. Tell me you haven't missed my stir-fry?"
"Yeah, I've missed your cooking. Princess and her attempts at Desert cuisine scares me. I wish she'd just stick to Neopia Central fare," Chloe admitted.
"Anyway, we're getting off topic again. As I was saying, I can write a report on the inner-workings of the Beauty Contest and interview you and other contestants on your experiences competing," Kristy suddenly resumed the topic of the Beauty Contest.
Chloe could feel a frown rising to her lips and Kristy noticed and said, "Chloe, if you don't want to, just say so. I thought you would be excited to compete again. It's been months, and all you ever do is work and train. I thought you would like a break to do something different. But, if I'm wrong, tell me, because I don't want to push you to do something you hate. You always said you had fun in the past."
Chloe groaned internally, there was no way she could back out. She had the perfect opening for going, her boss wanted her there, and if Malkus got his hands on the weapons it would mean a lot of trouble for Neopia Central and the Defenders.
"No, Kristy, I just didn't want to inconvenience you. If you're up for it then I'm game," Chloe said perkily, taking the dress and admiring it. "It's a lovely dress; I hope we'll be able to thank whoever sent it someday."
"Me too! Okay, Elise and Anita are home, so is Princess, but you know her. We probably won't see her until dinner. Will you tell them I've gone out if I don't pass them on my way out? I'm going to head down to that shop to get your custom mask order in. I love doing these with you. This will be so much fun!" Kristy grabbed her purse, stopped to kiss Chloe on the cheek, and then bolted from the room.
A few moments later, Chloe heard her stumbling down the stairs. The stumbling stopped and Elise's voice rose up from below. "One of these days, we will find time to teach you how to use the stairs, Kristy."
Chloe chuckled and shook her head. Her life was certainly something.
To be continued...