Superhero Sister: Part One
The second I heard the words ‘Defenders of Neopia’, I panicked. No, I wasn’t an evil villain bent on destroying the world and universe around it, but a simple Bori with a simple life. No real wins in my life, no real losses. I didn’t care about anything that went on around me - why should I? I controlled my life, and nothing could ever change that.
But then they came, with their shiny capes and their shiny masks. They set up their base right in the middle of Neopia Central - right where my brother and I used to play catch with the ball I had spent months’ worth of allowance on. The Defenders built the building for pure spectacle, I swear, with almost pure glass walls and the logo proudly protruding from the ceiling. The structure didn’t even try to dissimulate its massive ego - it stood out from Neopia Central like a worm in the apple you’re about to bite.
Well, not everyone agreed with my worm-and-apple metaphor. In fact, the townspeople described their coming as the rainbow after the storm when I asked them later on.
I still remember the day when they came to town - what was I, eight years old? - and knocked on every door to tell all us Neopians what was going on in the town square with all of the new building and such. The scene still runs through my mind almost every day...
There’s a knock on the door! I wonder if it’s Lola coming over to play! Oh, I can barely wait!
Crash! Oh my, that hurt; I should really stop running into walls like that. But this house is so small! I wonder if we’ll ever be able to move back to Terror Mountain like Mom says we will be able to if we ever get enough... ‘time’ she says, but I think it has to do with money... this place is just filled with books and knick-knacks. Looks like something from years ago. Hey, I wonder if I could get to the door faster...
Bang! Uh oh, Mom isn’t going to be too happy about the painting... but who cares? Lola’s here!
At least, when I was eight, that’s what I thought...
This door is so squeaky! But wait - that’s not Lola... what....?
“Hello, there,” this big thing says to me. “I’m Judge Hog; may I speak to your parents and siblings, please?”
“Uh, sure,” I say, disappointed by the absence of Lola. “I’m Aryan. Come in, at least, if you can fit.”
Oops. I guess I’m blushing as he chooses to tactfully ignore me.
I don’t like him.
Well, I guess I’ll call Mom in...
I blank out at this part, unsure of the details. But I remember my brother’s face when he saw the Judge.
It was of total awe.
Mine was of total disgust.
My brother - inheriting his green fur from my mother while I have my yellow from my father - was, and is, two years older than me... making him ten then. I recall sitting my brother and mother down in the living room (which was small with two of us in there), and listening to the Judge. He said something along the lines of:
“Hello, I’m Judge Hog from the Defenders of Neopia.” Right there. That was when I panicked. I didn’t know why, just then, but believe me, I do know why now. He continued on speaking, unaware of my premonition. “The Defenders of Neopia are a group of citizens who have decided to band together to form a group to fight the guilty and protect the poor. We live by this motto: There are no goods and evils, just rights and wrongs.”
That was when my brother, Rayon, was hooked. Stupid motto.
“The Defenders are currently setting up headquarters in the town center. Hopefully, this will be beneficial to all Neopians and we can resemble a mosaic of all who live here. Thank you for your time.”
I still laugh at the Judge, how after his speech he stood up and nearly tripped over his own feet going out the door (which he had to duck to fit through). But my laughter always stops when I remember my brother bounding up to the Judge.
“Sir!” he had said. “How old do you have to be to join the Defenders? Am I old enough? Please?” My brother’s bright blue eyes had lit up in a pleading fashion.
The stern Judge’s face had almost broken into laughter, but he caught himself. “No, you are not old enough.” He must have seen my brother’s face fall, as he added, “But you will be. The Defenders do not like ineffectual people who want fame. You must be brave, courageous, daring... and at least seventeen years old.”
My brother’s jaw had opened wide. “But that’s seven years!”
The Judge had swiftly nodded, and strode out of the one-floor house. Then I had dismissed my brother’s fantasy of being a mighty Neopian Defender as trivial, but six years later, it is as real as ever.
Six years is either a piercingly long or incredibly short amount of time using a different matter of perspective. In my viewpoint it was the latter of the choices, but for my poor brother Rayon it was the former. Rayon constantly asked me, “So, Aryan, do you think I will be a good Defender? Do you think I’ll get a cool-looking cape like the Judge has?” At these times it felt like I was older than him. But it was starting to scare me, how much he envied the Defenders. He had only a year to change his mind to not go into the profession.
I did not want my brother to be a Defender in any scenario. They were so stern, having only seen negative things in life. All of the times playing and laughing with Rayon would disappear.
He forced me to attend rallies for the Defenders, which were semi-annual and also happened to be today, a fine summer’s day that had now been spoiled. I was fourteen, he sixteen. “Look!” Rayon said, grabbing me by the shoulder. “There he is!”
Rayon pointed to Judge Hog. The Moehog sat at a table perched on a large stage, banners and balloons with the writing ‘Support the Defenders!’ written on them. The whole event was situated in the park, which was usually remarkably empty, but now was packed to the breaking point of beings all shapes and sizes. There were bands, barbeques, and everything else that could make anybody happy there, but my fur still stood on edge.
I did not like this.
“Let’s go say hello to him!” Rayon still went on, not noticing my spacing out. Every time we went to these events Rayon dragged me to see the Judge, but he was always crowded with other admirers. The two of us were usually pushed away.
Not really caring what I did - Mom wasn’t there, she had ‘chores’ to do, but she said that with a weird tone in her voice - I forged my way through the crowd with my brother.
We finally got to the edge of the stage, where the Judge had been talking to a few Gelerts who had probably been organizing the event. It was still early despite the crowd - plenty of awards and ceremonies still had to take place. The Moehog casually glanced over the crowd, drawing “Oohs!” and “Ahhs” from whomever he made eye contact with. Then he noticed the pair by the side of the stage - my brother and me. For the first time in my life, I saw him smile.
“Come here, boy!” he said, quickly pacing towards the wide-eyed Rayon.
“M-me?” Rayon asked, stumbling over his words. He was shaking like he had caught a bad case of Shaky Flakys.
“Yes, you!” he loudly proclaimed, staring directly at Rayon.
He helped my brother onstage, and then strode over to the center podium. He held up his right hand. Gradually, the crowd gathered around the stage and the buzzing conversations stopped.
“To all Neopians, welcome!” he began, projecting his voice to almost every species. The crowd roared. The Judge waited for the cheering to cease, and then he went on with, “It is that time of year again, the time when we remember how important it is to honor the ones that protect us.”
He ushered a Lupe, Ixi, and others onto the stage as they filed in behind him. My brother, gawking, stood to the side. I couldn’t tell what he was thinking. “These,” the Moehog said, throwing an arm to the group behind them, “are the Defenders of Neopia!”
The crowd hollered even more so. There were whistles, and I could see that many parents had put their young onto their backs for better views in the midst of the crowd.
“But,” the Judge said, “six years ago I met an interesting fellow. He exhibited all of the traits a Defender carries, and he was only ten. His mother, here, tells me that every day he trains with his sister to become a better fighter and more polite. However, he is only sixteen years of age.”
At this point, I went into shock. Firstly at seeing my mother, Marcy, on the opposite side of the stage - so much for chores, she had planned this whole thing- and secondly, as what the Judge was implying.
“And for thus reasons, I hereby declare that Rayon, son of Marcy, is now an honorary member of the Neopian Defenders!”
The crowd let out a collective gasp. This had never happened before. But within three seconds they were once again shouting and cheering.
I saw my brother step slowly up to the Judge and collect his medal, uniform - everything. He was smiling nervously.
I blinked. This was a dream, right?
I pinched myself.
No, it wasn’t.
So I guess I was officially a ‘superhero sister’. That’s a neat title, but I didn’t realize just how much danger it carried until much later.
To be continued...