Christmas season at the National Library Board was in full swing! The place was decorated with gleaming gold ribbons and festive lights. At the entrance stood a majestic Christmas tree adorned with baubles and bells. Everything was in good order, and everyone, in good spirits.
But in the hustle and bustle of it all, a bespectacled young boy noticed something out of place on the Christmas tree — a Morganna! But as soon as he had spotted the beautiful moth, it fluttered away. Completely entranced, the boy dropped his book and followed the trail of red smoke left by Morganna.
He followed Morganna past doors marked “No Entry”, and into an empty corridor. Morganna landed on a door to the storeroom and disappeared behind it; the red smoke, however, remained, ominous as ever. Out of curiosity, he entered, and saw that Morganna had settled on a book – a book with a lock that prevented anyone from reading the contents. Strange…
Morganna transformed itself into a crimson key. The boy picked up the book to take a closer look, its musty smell prickling his nose. Dust bunnies scattered, revealing ancient incantations engraved on the cover. The incantations made the book resemble a lost relic.
“Open it…” a strange voice beckoned.
Now completely bewildered, the boy responded to the request, twisting the key into the lock gingerly.
Alas, a flood of red light escaped the book and knocked him backwards. Both book and lock fell to the floor.
The knockback helped the boy regain his senses, but it also broke him out of the blissful reverie. The boy realised he was lost and began to cry, “Mommy? Mommy, where are you?!”
Thankfully, a passing librarian heard his cries and rushed into the storeroom through the open door. She soothed him and carried him away.
Meanwhile, the open book continued to glow red and a scorpion insignia was now clearly visible on the pages. Materialising from the insignia, Skorpius moved deftly between the pages and leapt out of the book, energised. He stretched his pincers.
“After all this time, sealed in that wretched book…” Skorpius said with a sinister snort and crushed the lock with his pincers.
In that very storeroom, full of antiquities, broken furniture, stationery, and other bits and bobs, Skorpius sat on a makeshift throne of paintcans and brushes in all his glory. He had two large, menacing pincers, a whip-like stinger and a pair of petrifying obsidian eyes. He surveyed his surroundings, and spotted a calendar with 25 Dec 2015 circled.
“Well Guardians, hell hath no fury like a scorpion scorned.”
He picked up a skull artefact and looked admiringly at it. Scarlet energy beams surged from the skull and struck all the books in the storeroom.
“It seems I have a party to attend.”
Act II: The Unexpected Guest
Act III: The Rise of the Guardians
## Act IV: The Skirmish at SengKang
Following Nostro’s instructions, Petra made her way to Sengkang Public Library with a heavy heart. Her moth senses were tingling; trouble must be brewing there.
The library was eerily quiet. Not knowing what to expect, Petra remained on her guard as she explored the library. When she finally reached the Children’s Section, a gasp escaped her lips. She could not believe what she was seeing.
The Children’s Section was an utter mess! Books were strewn all over the floor with the different bugs dancing around them. The walls were also filled with their “artwork”.
Glancing at the clock on the wall, she noticed that it was already 10.55am – five minutes to opening time, but the library was nowhere near presentable!
Petra’s forehead wrinkled in concentration. Thankfully, she had managed to conjure a temporary illusion to conceal the disarray just in time, so the humans found nothing amiss. She then made her way to the group of dancing bugs. Approaching the bug closest to her, she grabbed his shoulder and shook him so hard that his head wobbled back and forth.
“Byte! Listen to me, you’ve got to wake up! This isn’t you!”
From the shadows came a voice, “Save your breath, Petra. It’s futile.”
Skorpius walked out with an evil gleam in his eyes.
“Skorpius, it doesn’t have to be this way. Let’s talk it out.”
Skorpius snorted, “Talk? I don’t recall a lot of talking when you guardians sealed me in the book. Besides, it’s too late to cut a bargain. I’ve grown tired of your incessant chatter. Let’s dance, shall we?”
In a flash, Skorpius aimed the skull artefact at Petra and a red laser beam shot out of it. With her amazing reflexes and agility, Petra dodged the beam.
“You leave me with no choice. If it’s a fight you want, it’s a fight you’ll get,” Petra declared, as she readied herself for battle.
With another flutter of her wings, glitter dust rained down and there were now multiple copies of herself surrounding Skorpius.
“Give up now Skorpius! Don’t make the same mistake – don’t let history repeat itself!”
The copies lashed out at Skorpius only to crumple onto the floor. Skorpius had appeared behind the real Petra. His pincer firmly gripped her head; he could eliminate her at any moment.
“Victors write their own histories.”
“You won’t win. I’ve seen it in your future.” Petra closed her eyes, readying herself for the final blow.
“Arrogant till the end. How boring. I expected you to grovel a little.” The vengeful scorpion continued menacingly, “My plan is in motion, my victory is inevitable.”
With an evil cackle, Skorpius vanished into thin air. It became apparent that he was never really at the library to begin with.
Petra raced out of the library to regroup with the other guardians, for Skorpius had become more powerful than before.
Act V: The Bugtime Story
Act VI: The Call to Arms
Back at the National Library HQ…
“It’s been a while since we’ve had some good news. Outstanding work, Shenlong,” said Nostro. The Guardians were having a meeting at the TreeHouse and Shenlong had just delivered news that Books Bugs could be awakened if their Book of Residence was read aloud.
Aurelius, however, had a more negative reaction and was now venting his frustrations by punching the tree trunk.
“We’re all doomed then. It’ll take us centuries to wake all these bugs!”
Rembrandt, who had stayed quiet through the entire meeting, finally spoke. “Which is why we can’t do this alone. We’ll need the humans.”
“What about Skorpius then?” retorted Aurelius. “Do you honestly think he will stand idly by while we save the day?”
Shenlong broke the tense silence. “We’ve defeated Skorpius once before, and we’ll do it again.” However, her conviction did nothing to persuade Aurelius.
“He’s grown more powerful over the centuries.”
“That may be so, but if all Book Bugs are bonded to their Book of Residence, he’d be too,” Rembrandt suggested.
“He broke the seal we enchanted and escaped. It won’t work a second time.”
“No, Nostro. This time, we’ll destroy the book once and for all.” The Guardians listened intently, and for a first time in a long while, there was hope.
Act VII: The Shortsighted
The Guardians have prepared to infiltrate Skorpius’ heavily guarded den where all the unsorted books are kept. Before they could take a step, Petra’s wings started glowing a foreboding red. She signaled for everyone to halt.
“Skorpius is no fool. We need to think this through and come up with a very good plan if we want to defeat him.”
Everyone kept quiet as they pondered their options. After a while, Shenlong replied, “I might have a plan, but it’s… a little crazy.”
“This den is most likely swamped with guard bugs both inside and out. Aurelius and I will team up to distract the guard-bugs outside. The rest of you will remain in hiding and only infiltrate the den when you see my signal.”
Turning to face Petra, she continued, “Petra, once inside, I need you to find a way to distract all the guard-bugs.”
“Rembrandt and Nostro, once the coast is clear, search the premises for the book. Turn the place upside-down if you have to. We must find the book!”
The Guardians saluted and made their way to their positions.
Giving Shenlong a brief nod, Aurelius summoned his paper plane. The two bugs jumped on and flew towards the unsuspecting guard-bugs.
Shenlong closed her eyes in concentration as she called forth a great hailstorm. Dark cumulonimbus clouds formed and from them, icy hail fell, hitting every single guard-bug. Reinforcements came swiftly; however, the newly-arrived guard-bugs stared at the clouds in confusion, with no idea about who or what was causing this mysterious phenomenon. Meanwhile, Aurelius, the warrior-bug trained in mixed martial arts, had jumped off his paper plane and was dealing his enemies a crushing defeat.
Shenlong surveyed the scene from the clouds and saw that the guard-bugs outside were being distracted by Aurelius. It was time to put Part Two of the plan into action. With a flick of her wings, a blinding white bolt of lightning came crashing down. It was the signal the other Guardians had been waiting for.
Nostro, Petra and Rembrandt dashed towards the entrance and successfully infiltrated the den. While Nostro and Rembrandt found places to hide, Petra gave her wings a little flutter and became invisible by manipulating the guard-bugs’ perceptions. With everyone in place, she started searching for the Security Office.
Once inside the office, she began typing furiously on the control panel, deactivating security cameras and opening all entrances and exits.
Linking the PA system to a voice synthesiser, she spoke into the mic. Her clear, bright voice was altered, sounding more robotic and mechanised.
“Security breach at Section 398.2, trespassers are moving toward the book location. Backup is required. All guards must leave their designated positions immediately to protect the Book. “
After Petra’s announcement, there was a flurry of movement in the hallway as the guards began mobilising.
With the distraction in place, Nostro and Rembrandt started their search. The first few rooms were a bust but when they made their way to the room furthest away from the entrance, the book was there.
“Nostro, grab the book and let’s go!” Rembrandt shouted in glee as he stood at the doorway to keep a lookout for the guards.
When he realised there was no movement behind him, he turned around and let out a loud gasp.