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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 16th day of Gathering, Yr 23
The Neopian Times Week 66 > Short Stories > Calling All Heroes

Calling All Heroes

by oily106

The muscle-bound Moehog threw the latest copy of the Neopian Times at the wall. His assistant, Marry, was shocked by this sacrilege and carefully picked up the newspaper, dusted it off and placed it respectfully back on Judge Hog's desk. Judge Hog cast another despairing glance at the newspaper.

     "Look at it, Marry. Evil everywhere. Flaunting their stories in The Neopian Times, hatching plots in the time it takes us to sneeze, gathering their minions to invade Neopia. It's quite disgusting. Look how many ordinary Neopians have ended up trying to save Neopia while us spandex clad super heroes sit in our comfy chairs eating Rainbow Doughnuts! Quite disgusting!"

     "Shall I cancel the doughnut orders then, sir?"

     "Not quite yet, Marry. I have a way to recruit a few more budding heroes to help stop this proliferating evil in its tracks!" Marry sighed. "Another devious plan, sir?"

     "Quite. In my days as Cadet Hog, young pets would jump at the chance to be..." Marry let Hog's voice wash over her, drifting into her own dreams.

     "So what do you think, Marry?"

     "Wonderful, sir," she automatically replied.

     "Hop to it then. I want the two lengths of string on my desk by Tuesday."

     "What's the string for then, sir?"

     "It is not your place to question your superiors, Marry." Marry apologised and began to leave the room. Working with the crotchety, egotistic Judge Hog was never easy. She looked regretfully at the copy of the Neopian Times that she was leaving behind to Hog's abuse. Even as she closed the door, she winced at the sound of it being thumped against the wall again.

     Marry sat down at her desk and began to draft an advertisement. Chewing her pen, she finally titled it, "Calling All Heroes." Finishing the rough copy, she duplicated the paper. One copy she posted to the Notice board, cheque enclosed, while the other she held tightly in her paw. She slid back into Judge Hog's room. He was slumped on his desk, snoring (being a full time super hero meant working long hours and bad pay). Marry left the piece of paper on his desk and rescued the now battered copy of the Neopian Times from the bin. By the time Judge Hog woke up, his anger at the evil doers (taken out on an innocent newspaper) would be gone and he would find "his" wonderful plan neatly written out for him.

     Judge Hog called for his assistant, Marry. She was a small Bruce, quite slow and dim-witted he thought, but not everyone could keep up with him, after all. He waved a small piece of paper at her as she came in, bearing two lengths of string.

     "Look, Marry!"

     "Your string, sir?" Marry offered.

     "What are you talking about? Well, while you were messing about with string, I was concocting a fiendish plot!" Judge Hog laughed evilly and then coughed, looking deeply embarrassed. Little traces of villainy always rubbed off on heroes, after a while.

     "Anyway," he continued, "I have here a plan. It is simple and fool proof, even for you, Marry. I will place an advertisement for heroes to combat the evil in Neopia. Thus, will Neopia be saved." Marry felt a little something was lacking in this summary. "Won't there be any training, sir? How to fight evil in six easy steps perhaps?"

     Judge Hog frowned. "Possibly...it depends on the aptitude of the young heroes. After all, I myself received no training, although I am rather special." Hog preened himself. "Bring the best spandex, Marry. This calls for...I mean, let's head to the Haunted Woods. That's where the hero trials will begin!"

     The duo dismounted off the back of the Scorchio. To his intense annoyance, Judge Hog had not mastered the super hero trait of flight yet--not until the Defenders of Neopia HQ deemed it necessary for him to be painted Faerie. (This may explain why Judge Hog goes out of his way to provoke winged creatures into taking over Neopia.) Marry thanked the Scorchio and, realising Judge Hog was about to launch into a This-looks-like-a-good-day-to-take-over-Neopia speech, she hurried him towards the Haunted Woods.

     They'd arrived at the Haunted Woods, Judge Hog resplendent in his shining spandex, its Defender of Neopia crest emblazoned on the front. Hog puffed out his chest and strode proudly, looking a little disappointed to hear no cheering crowd or fanfare of trumpets. Marry led him to a small clearing, where she had thought to phone ahead and organise a tent to be put. Already, Marry saw a long queue winding its way around the tent into the depths of the Haunted Woods. Hog strutted into the clearing, waved modestly at his fans and stepped into the tent. Marry followed.

     The tent was airy and well lit and a small council of registered super heroes resided inside, including Danger Buzz and Captain Kougra - also Defenders of Neopia. They all were to judge the budding heroes. Judge Hog waved condescendingly at his contemporaries and sat down.

     "Come in!" called Hog.

     A small Chia stumbled into the tent.

     "Name?" rapped out Hog.

     "Hubri...Hubret, I meant. Hubret Nock."

     Marry sighed and waddled over to the Chia. Ripping off the Blue Chia mask, she discovered the familiar face of Hubrid Nox, a small blue Chia wearing a fake moustache. For good measure, she ripped off the fake moustache too.

     "What are you doing here, Hubrid?"

     "Just, you know, eyeing up the young opposition, watching the new heroes, having a Neocola..."

     "No drinking in the tent!" Judge Hog cried sternly. "Do you want to be a hero, young Chia?"

     "Um...not really."

     "Lots of potential..." muttered Hog.

     "Sir, he's a villain. I think he has a huge spooky mansion just a little way from here."

     "Number 12," Hubrid added.

     "Well, maybe it's better not to employ him then. I don't know if my employers cover house insurance..."

     "Sir?" Sometimes Marry feared Hog was losing his edge, if not his wits.

     "Fine then. Sorry, young Chia. Next, please!" Hubrid looked abashed and slunk out of the tent.

     A Baby Usul, wielding a cardboard sword that was bigger than her, was next. Marry sighed and fingered a small lever. Luckily she had ordered a few special features in this tent. Chuckling quietly, she pulled the lever. The Baby Usul disappeared and went hurtling down a long chute built into the floor.

     "Where did the nice Usul go?" asked Hog.

     "She had to leave," replied Marry, still smiling.

     After several more hopeless cases had been in, and hastily dispatched by Marry, she realised it would take hours to get through the whole of the queue. Calling for the box of doughnuts, she chose a Lemon Sprinkle one and hastily rearranged the sprinkles to read "Send out talent scouts." Replacing it in the box, she suggested a break for the super heroes. Sure enough, Hog went straight to the refreshments. Picking up the Lemon Sprinkle Doughnut, he squinted at it.

     "Zen dout tale nts couts." His face crinkled into a frown. "Marry! The doughnut's trying to tell me something!"

     In her previous job, Marry had looked after Baby Neopets, so she was well equipped to deal with Hog.

     "Send out talent scouts?" she offered, pretending to read the doughnut.

     "Perfect. Marry, take the doughnut and put it in the place of honour. And obey it." Marry sent the rest of the super heroes to filter through the queue and positioned the doughnut on Judge Hog's chair. It would be a couple of hours before Hog would finish with the refreshments and that gave the other heroes plenty of time to pick the talented few out of the queue.

     Sure enough, a few hours later, a tired procession of super heroes filed back into the tent. Several had tomato stains or bruises from where angry pets, passed over to be picked, had shown their disgust. The heroes wearily sat down as Hog hurried to his chair. There was a squelch and Hog cried out.

     "Marry! I have Lemon Sprinkle doughnut on my best spandex!" Marry rushed in and daintily picked the squished doughnut off Judge Hog. Hog snatched the doughnut off Marry and proceeded to consume it, noisily. Several of the more faint-hearted heroes had to look away.

     Eventually, the heroes settled down to serious business. Of the fifty budding heroes picked out of the line of hundreds, only ten would be trained to become proper Neopian protectors and only one would be given the much sought after post at the Defenders of Neopia. Marry began to feel like a judge straight from one of the NTV "reality" shows. Several Neopets ran off crying once being told kindly that they weren't quite "hero material" and the remaining pets looked jubilant.

     Eventually, it was whittled down to just twenty pets. There was a mixture of all species, stats and colours. Marry stared at the impossible job in front of them. How to separate the ones with rich owners and the ones with talent? She hastily keyed a number into her mobile. It was a little known number, although quite popular--from Neopets nursing a vengeance to more unusual situations. It was the "Dial a Villain" number--rumoured to be a profitable, if shady, business run by Malkus Vile, the nefarious Skeith. She arranged payment and ordered her chosen villain--Meuka. She barely noticed Judge Hog watching her intently or that he too made a call on his phone. Marry was still doubtfully wondering over whether it was Meuka who would come or just some poor pet in a very nasty costume.

     However, Marry's thoughts were soon interrupted by the sound of screaming from outside the tent. This was not unusual in the Haunted Woods but her suspicions were confirmed when a very slimy, very realistic Meuka paw opened the tent flap. The Meerca ripped away the top of the tent (and Marry reminded herself to put that charge on damages--that wasn't part of the deal) and reached for the prospective heroes. Smiling slightly as several of the wannabe heroes fled screaming in terror, Marry carefully mentally crossed out those who'd run. Meuka turned around, searching for a more interesting foe and caught sight of Marry.

     Marry frowned as a dripping paw reached for her.

     "This isn't what I agreed," she hissed and her eyes widened as Meuka closed his fist around her. She realised this wasn't some pet in a costume but the real deal! She looked around desperately but everyone else had long ago run, except for Hog. Having woken up from his doze at the sound of people in need of a hero, he was rummaging around under the table.

     "Help!" called Marry, feeling foolish even as she did so. "Help!" Hog took out a shining sword and brandished it at Meerca.

     "Pick on someone who is at least half your size!" he cried.

     Meuka dropped Marry in the corner of the tent and turned to face Hog. Hog flourished the sword and leapt at Meuka. Shielding herself from the drops of mucus flying around, Marry saw little of the fight but it was over quickly. A howling Meuka left the tent and Marry found herself being helped up by the valiant, albeit slightly dirty, Judge Hog. Profusely thanking him, he bathed in her gratitude.

     "Go back to HQ, Marry. I'll follow you a bit later."

     Even as Marry was flown home, she was changing her opinion of Hog. Perhaps he hadn't made up all the tales of noble fights, but was a true super hero. She would always remember that day...

     Back in the Haunted Woods, a panting Hog caught up with Meuka.

     "Thanks, buddy!" he called. 'Meuka' stripped off his oversized costume.

     "Anytime. Dial a Villain is always happy to help!"

     Hog smiled to himself. He had used Marry's little trick to his advantage. Let Marry think he was a blustering fool, or perhaps a noble hero. He knew he had one of the best brains in Neopia but he was smart enough not to let people know it.

The End

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