Chronicles of a Caped Crusader: Against All Odds - Part Two
As he donned the cape and cowl for the first time, Judge Hog knew he was embarking on something that would change his life in ways he couldn't imagine. He had always been different. Born with unusual powers, super strength and the ability to fly; he knew his life was bound to be different than that of the people around him. But, that had never bothered him. He was happy with the idea that he could change the world for the better.
Now, he was finally starting to do that. He had a costume and a name. He was sanctioned by the Chia Police to help out in Neopia Central. Crime was an ever growing business and they were happy to have an ally against it, particularly one who happened to have super powers. Judge Hog wasn't sure exactly how it was all going to work out, but he was sure he was ready for it.
He smiled as he leapt from the rooftop.
Marcus grinned smugly as he crossed Grundo's Cafe toward where the Pirate colored Ixi was seated. He figured Buzz ought to show up at any time. Marcus knew that it would rankle Buzz to find him chatting with his partner.
"Good morning, Lynette," he said amiably.
"Move along, Marcus. I have no interest in playing Buzz's and your little game," Lynette told him, not looking up from her Virtupets portable computer.
He did, a little annoyed that she wouldn't be party to frustrating Buzz. Not that he truly expected she would. She never had in the past, but he hadn't lost anything by trying.
No one was sure what had started the animosity between the Grey Lupe and the Electric Eyrie, but it had grown out of control fast. Marcus didn't like anyone, but he didn't dislike Lynette, though he would have happily destroyed her without a second thought. Lynette occupied the one decent place in Buzz's heart, and Marcus liked the idea of the pain it would cause Buzz as crushed that place. Marcus kept his own secret decent spot carefully hidden.
He made his way back to his lab, his mind elsewhere. He was bored again. Even verbally tussling with Buzz had lost its interest, though he knew he would never lose any of his hatred for the Lupe.
The Eyrie shoved his hands deep into his pockets, an outward sign of frustration.
Nothing ever lasted, he thought with regret. Nothing ever stayed interesting. From almost the moment he was born he had been heralded as being a genius. His growth in knowledge had been incredibly rapid, and his accomplishments astounding. Everyone expected great things from him. But the one who expected most was himself. He needed to; he needed to keep moving, to keep life interesting. Being a child had been so boring; he had been done with that by five. He threw himself into studies. By the time he was twelve he had graduated from Neopia Central's most prestigious university with a degree in engineering and PhD in chemistry, and the highest marks in the history of the university.
After he graduated, he went to work with a pharmaceutical firm, studying various diseases to create cures for them. He made quite few advances during his two years with them. But, all too quickly, the work started to bore him. When he quit, that was the end of his career doing anything to better Neopia.
He had read extensively about Dr. Sloth's attempts to take over Neopia, and they intrigued him. He felt that with his knowledge of chemistry, he could help Sloth perfect his transmogrification potions. But, his true genius lay in engineering. He could build anything. Sloth hired him on right away, appointing him lead scientist and engineer. For Marcus, it seemed perfect, at first anyway.
Things soured fast. He and Buzz clashed immediately, but because Buzz was Garoo's cousin and a favorite of Sloth's he didn't have any power to exercise against him. Sloth was also a control freak about the potions and rarely listened to the advice Marcus gave on how to improve them. Mostly Marcus built ships and weaponry. For a time, that was enough. However, watching Sloth and his generals take his inventions and misuse them, flubbing so many missions, grated on him.
He came to his lab and slid his key card in the reader. The door slid open and he entered. He stopped short, growling in anger. Standing in his lab was Buzz, two scouts, and a dozen Grundo engineers clustered around a damaged ship. They all stopped what they were doing to look at him.
"What is going on here? What happened to my prototype?" Marcus demanded.
Buzz shrugged. "Boys here said they were ordered to take the prototype out for a test run. The Resistance members stationed on Kreludor somehow got wind of it and ambushed them. Didn't last a minute in battle. They needed a rescue, I got sent out to do clean up and bring them home. At least you got yours back in one piece, the Resistance will only be able to collect scrap. Not much of a ship, Marcus."
It was all he could do to control himself, but he did. Buzz's smug grin infuriated him.
"The prototype was nowhere near battle ready, I only made it flight capable yesterday. Who ordered the test? I certainly didn't authorize it!"
Buzz shrugged again. "I don't know, but that's not my problem. I've got a girl waiting on me to join her for breakfast. She'll probably hurt me if I make her wait any longer. Good luck with your ship."
Buzz and the scouts departed. The Grundos milled around uncertainly, waiting for directions from Marcus.
"Get out, all of you. I don't care where you go, or what you do, just get out of here," Marcus warned, trying to hold onto his self-control long enough for the Grundos to get out.
The Grundos scattered, knowing the danger of sticking around and becoming a target of his wrath. When they were gone Marcus went over to the ship, trying to channel his fury into a productive outlet. The ship was a mess and probably scrap, he'd have to start from scratch. Three months wasted by someone's impatience and stupidity.
His anger hit the breaking point just as his portable computer pinged with a message. He screamed with rage as he opened it, determined to vent his frustration and anger on whoever had the bad timing to bother him right then.
'Hey there, Mark. I'm so sorry it has been a while since my last message. I'm still getting the hang of this device you gave me to contact you with and work was crazy. It was Gadgadsbogen, and with the festival comes a massive increase in tourists. So, lots of cases of people hurting themselves in the traditional games or getting food poisoning. So glad that is over.
I can tell from the tone of your messages that you are bored and probably stressed at your new job. You never complain, but you can't fool your big sister. I know you hate being idle, but maybe it would be good for you to take a vacation. Come visit me, the weather is beautiful, the island back to normal, and (best of all) I'm here.
I hope to hear from you soon. Love you more than anything in Neopia.
Proud to be your sister,
The anger drained out of Marcus, soothed and forgotten by those final words. That was how Vicki always closed her letters to him. It made him feel a way nothing else did. She was his one great secret, the one decent spot in his heart, as he would say to himself. He didn't like the idea he had a vulnerability, but he could no more remove it than he could cease being brilliant. Nor would he have if he could. He truly loved Vicki.
But, at the same time, he was afraid of Vicki. She was good, and honest, upstanding member of society. She would be heartbroken if she learned he was working with an evil overlord bent on domination of Neopia. So, he didn't let her know. He kept her in the dark, letting her believe he was doing top secret, but good work, for the Resistance.
He read her letter again. It was a sign, it had to be. It was time to leave Dr. Sloth's employ. He could quit and head to Mystery Island, stay with his sister while he figured out his next move. It was time to move on. Time to find something interesting, something to relieve the oppressing boredom for a little while.
He smiled, imagining the look of happiness on Vicki's face when he showed up on her doorstep.
He drafted his letter of resignation to Sloth, packed his belongings onto a ship, and then flew it out of the shuttle bay. He hit the send button as he turned off the tracking beacon in his ship. He gunned the engines, rocketing towards Neopia, and though he did not know it, towards destiny.
To be continued...