Chronicles of a Caped Crusader: Perception - Part Four
Chloe had beaten the Air Faerie in hand to hand combat and managed to immobilize her with a Virtupets blaster. Keeping the blaster trained on her, Chloe walked up to her.
"Now, let's see how this works. I believe you should still be able to speak, not easily, but you can. How do I undo the spell you put on the agents?"Chloe demanded.
"Who are you?" the Faerie forced out.
"A secretary. Now, answer the question," Chloe replied.
"In your dreams," the Faerie taunted.
"Oh, that's really clever," Chloe fumed.
Chloe noticed that her eyes were slightly glassy. She figured that the Faerie was still connected to the other Defenders' illusions and monitoring them. Chloe adjusted her blaster to a level that would render her unconscious, and hoped it was the right answer. She raised it again to fire and the Air Faerie's face eyes widened as anger filled her face. Certain that it was the right answer, she fired. The Air Faerie's eyes shut as her body jerked.
Chloe ran over to the control panel and found the command to vent the air in the building. She activated it, just to be on the safe side. When the fog cleared, Chloe grabbed the Air faerie and dragged her over to the elevator. She took her down to the most secure holding cell they had and then hurried down the hall to the interrogation room she had seen Orig and Judge Hog collapse in.
She opened the door and hurried over to Judge Hog.
"Come on, wake up, please," Chloe begged as she waved her smelling salts under his nose.
He jerked and coughed, then opened his eyes. Chloe closed her eyes and sighed in relief.
"Is that you, Chloe? What in Neopia is going on here?" Judge Hog groaned. "I feel like Orig has been using my head for a practice dummy."
"It's a long story, but first we need to find all the other agents and wake them up," Chloe said.
He got up, and then looked her over. "You look worse than I feel. Are you alright, Chloe?"
"I took on that Air Faerie without my suit. I think I'm surprisingly well, all things considered. She's unconscious and in a holding cell, one she won't be able to vent her mind manipulating fog from."
Judge Hog's eyes widened in alarm. "Her what?"
"She had us all in some illusion and was watching our minds for us to divulge information about the Defenders. At least, that's what I'm guessing. It makes sense, though. I'm not sure what she might have seen. I know that she didn't get both yours and Loraine's password, because we're still in lockdown, but she could have either. She could also have seen other things pertinent to our operations," Chloe explained.
"How did you figure this out and not fall prey to it?" Judge Hog asked as he took her smelling salts and started to wake Orig.
"I did, but it turns out my strongest instinct was to go home. There her spell began to fail because it was geared toward pleasing us and extracting information as quickly as she could, and realism broke down because my memories of my home aren't up to date with how it currently is," Chloe told.
"Home, huh? Kristy not scream loud enough?" Judge Hog asked teasingly.
"You're terrible," Chloe laughed, glad he was being humorous. It meant he felt things could be handled just fine.
Orig woke up and Chloe found more smelling salts for them. They split up to wake all the other agents. Chloe headed down to the last floor where she left Lightning. She found him already stirring.
"Sorry I dumped you down here," Chloe said as she helped him to his feet.
"Nonsense, I knew putting you in charge was a good idea," Lightning replied.
"Thanks for your confidence in me, Lightning. Let's never do this again," Chloe chuckled.
"Agreed, I have a smashing headache."
"Well, I've already contacted the Faeries. Dominica will be here as soon as she can with a few Healing Faeries to examine us and make sure the spell that was cast on us was broken fully when Chloe knocked out the Air Faerie. Dominica will wipe her mind of any secrets she might have gotten out of us," Loraine was saying.
Chloe reentered the control room after finishing her sweep of the floors she had been assigned. Judge Hog, Orig, and Lightning Lenny were there with her. They looked over at her.
"I found Captain K, Torchio, and Doctor Flexo. I sent them to the lounge to wait as you told me to. Anything else I can do?" Chloe reported.
"No, I think you deserve a break. You've already worked through your half day," Loraine replied.
"Oh, Borovan. Now I have to go home and try to explain why I'm not really a jerk," Chloe moaned, pushing her glasses up on her nose.
"Don't worry, Chloe. I'm preparing a news statement saying that the lockdown was part of an impromptu training drill. You had no prior knowledge of the event obviously," Loraine consoled.
"What about Veronica and Iniquitous? Are they waiting outside or something?" Chloe asked.
"No, they're too smart for that. They're probably miles away waiting for an all clear from the Faerie. By now I'm sure they've realized it went bad," Judge Hog answered.
"Don't worry, Clo. We'll get them next time," Lightning comforted.
"We will," Chloe agreed.
"And, here are the Faeries," Loraine announced. "Will you put in your password, sir?"
"Lightning and Chloe, go greet them. Lightning, you escort Dominica here, and Chloe please take the Healing Faeries to the lounge," Judge Hog instructed.
"Oh, and Chloe," Judge Hog called as they started off. "Good job today. You've proven yourself to be a true Defender."
Chloe grinned and gave him a little salute before following Lightning out.
Chloe sighed as she opened the front door to her home. She shut it behind her, took off her glasses, and rubbed the bridge of her nose. It had been a long day, and while she knew that tomorrow the HQ lockdown and the cover story Loraine put out would be common knowledge, it didn't help her at that moment. She hadn't shown up on her half day for tea with her family and friends, and she hadn't even had the courtesy to send a neomail saying she would be delayed.
She heard footsteps at the top of the stairs. She looked up and saw Kristy looking down at her over the railing. Her mind flashed back to the illusion and for half a moment she wondered if she was out of it.
"Hey, sorry," Chloe started.
Kristy hurried down the stairs and hugged her tight. "Thank Fyora, I was so worried!"
"You were?" Chloe asked at a loss.
"You guys are never going to take me seriously, are you?" Kristy asked with an ironic grin. "I'm the top journalist for the second largest paper in Neopia Central, people neomail me for details when the place my kid works at goes into lockdown out of the blue. Buzz nearly tore my head off for not knowing a thing about it."
"I'm sorry; it was an impromptu training drill! I had no prior knowledge of it. No one really did, which was point, obviously. But, on today of all days, that's so annoying! I'm sorry, I couldn't even send a neomail, no contact with the outside until the fake breach of security was dealt with. But, hey, Judge Hog said I did a good job!" Chloe explained.
Kristy smiled at her and hugged her again. "It's okay, don't apologize. We knew things like this, and the real thing, were possibilities when you started working there. It's not like working in a shoppe. Come on, I'll make you some tea while you go get cleaned up, you're a bit of a wreck. Earl Grey, right?"
Chloe suppressed a shudder as she said, "You know what; I'm in more of a mint tea mood today."
"Okay, sweetheart!" Kristy called as she disappeared down the other flight of stairs. Chloe heard her trip and stumble down them.
Chloe shook her head to clear away the lingering doubts. That was Kristy through and through, not the fantasy Kristy her subconscious had dreamed up before. She let out a sigh of exhaustion as she got to her room. After everything they had gone through, they were still no closer to finding Colonel Iniquitous or Veronica. She closed the door and dropped down on her bed. May, her pink Warf, crawled up on her and pressed her nose against Chloe's.
"Hey, May. Long day at work," Chloe said. "How was your day? Did Yanli sneak you tea cakes like I always tell her not to?"
May gave a light woof and Chloe smiled. It was all right after all, and she was home now. She picked May up and sat up. The Warf licked her cheek as Chloe hugged her close.
She decided to focus on the positive. They had thwarted another of Colonel Iniquitous' plans. He and Veronica would have to slip up sooner or later, and she knew that she would be there when they did. It was only a matter of time.