The Partnership: Part Six
We were running through the trees as quickly as possible, futilely trying to dodge low branches and abandoned stumps. If it hadn’t been for Kreludor’s moonlight we would have never been able to find our way. The problem was that Firestone clearly knew his property much better than I, and we could hear him yelling behind us.
Scout tried her best to keep up with my pace, but her legs were so much shorter that we had to resort to being stealthy rather than fast. I dove behind a bush, with Scout coming after me. Her white fur practically glowed in the light, and I cursed myself for not thinking to bring a dark jacket. But in my defense, nobody could have anticipated this happening.
“What are we going to do?” Scout asked, nervously playing with the forgotten orange dubloon between her fingers.
I sighed, wishing there was somebody else to lead us. I was supposed to be meeting Dart around Rimlen’s house very soon. But then again, Scout was also supposed to be safely in her room. Nothing seemed to be going as planned. Just then, I heard a snapping twig and saw shine from a lantern. I gently pushed Scout closer to the ground to hide her.
I saw the top of a Uni horn over the top of the bush and held my breath, praying to Fyora that Firestone somehow managed to overlook us. A beam from the lantern cast itself no more than a meter from my face and I pressed myself against the leaves. Miraculously, Firestone simply walked past us down the hill. Letting out a sigh of relief, I motioned for Scout to sit up.
“We’re going to keep going down the other side of the hill,” I whispered.
Luckily, we made it all the way to level ground, avoiding being seen by both Snorkle and Firestone, who had made his way across the hill. But with one problem out of the way, another quickly presented itself. I had to figure out what I was going to do with Scout because it would be too risky to bring her with me.
“Now what?” Scout demanded. “All my stuff is still at Firestone’s!”
“That doesn’t matter. We have to get you to a room at the Inn. I’m going with Dart on a stake out.”
“Well then, I’m coming along,” Scout immediately replied.
“Well, no, you’re not,” I responded, sighing. I should have known that she would protest, and I really didn’t have any more energy for an argument. “It’s way too dangerous. We’ve gotten you into enough trouble for a couple of days.”
She rolled her eyes. “But you need me. If you’re staking out, you’re planning on spying, maybe even following somebody. I’m littler, so I can hide and stalk even better than you. Just let me go so we can avoid a big discussion which we both know will be a waste of time.”
She was right, of course, which I hated. And Dart would be getting worried, so I really had to get going. Letting out an annoyed breath, I stiffly nodded and began walking. However I didn’t turn around quick enough to miss Scout’s triumphant smirk.
“So we’re going to Rimlen’s you said? Why? Is she even more involved with Firestone’s deal than we thought?” Scout asked question after question as we trotted up to the hiding spot that Dart and I had agreed on.
The Lenny had used his friendly charm to get one of Rimlen’s suspicious neighbors to let us watch from his yard. Although really, he was more than happy to help us in any way that he could, without asking questions. We all sat up in a huge, leafy tree with spyglasses and the promised cookies from Dart.
The first thing I did was explain the whole situation that Scout and I had gotten ourselves into that night. “So you still have the dubloon? Let me see,” Dart ordered and held out his hand, which Scout dropped it in.
The Lenny inspected the coin, turning it over several times in his wing. “You know what this dubloon is, right?”
I shook my head, frowning. But Scout quickly piped up. “It’s counterfeit, successfully designed to look like the real thing.”
I blinked. How could she have possibly found that out? Figuring that the Kougra had lost her mind, I looked at Dart, expecting him to disagree. However, he was just looking at Scout, impressed, and nodding.
“Exactly. See along the edge of it?”
I leaned in, squinting. I couldn’t see anything that looked out of the ordinary. But then again, I can’t say that I’ve ever seen a thousand dubloon coin in person before. “It looks fine.”
“One would think so. But look closer. There are just the tiniest ridges along the edges. The counterfeiter couldn’t make an exact replica of them, although it’s extremely close. Your average Neopian would have no idea,” Dart explained patiently, and then gave the dubloon back to Scout.
“But then why would Firestone want a fake dubloon? He’s clearly established himself as rich,” I reasoned.
Both Dart and Scout remained silent, deep in thought as we all just stared absentmindedly at Rimlen’s house.
Scout broke the silence, as she always seems to do, to ask, “What month is it?”
“Hunting,” I responded, without even bothering to look at her.
“What day?” she persisted.
“I don’t know,” I snapped, getting tired of all of her questions. “The twelfth or something I suppose.”
Scout sat for a moment, before quietly pointing out, “We’ve only been here about three days.”
It felt like so much longer.
* * * * * * *
I was beginning to think that this stake out would be completely fruitless, after we had sat uncomfortably in the tree for hours. The cookies were gone, and our arms were growing too tired to hold up the spyglasses. I was all for throwing in the towel for the night, but Scout stubbornly refused.
“It just seems lame to leave. If we’re going to watch her house, we may as well do it properly,” she continued to insist. And Dart was no help, as he took her side every time. Feeling a little lonely, I sat with my arms crossed and brooded.
I must have drifted off, because I remembered nothing until somebody was shaking me. “Wake up, Katty!” Scout exclaimed quietly. “Rimlen’s leaving.”
I sat up quickly. Dart was scrambling down the tree and Scout was making movements to show that she intended to follow him. “Stay here,” I ordered and jumped down ahead of her.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw four white legs jump down behind me. “No,” the Kougra replied blandly, and ran after Dart.
“Keep to the shadows,” Dart was explaining to Scout. “Your fur will make you stick out more, not that it’s your fault. We’re going to trail behind her, far enough so that she has no way of detecting us. When it seems like she’s doing something important, we’ll move in closer.”
Scout nodded quickly. We had been going along for a while, when she stated, “It looks like Rimlen’s going towards the coast.”
It did indeed appear that way, as we got closer to the edge of the island. The question was, where specifically on the coast was the Nimmo heading and why?
We were all surprised when Rimlen finally stopped walking and quickly looked around her, before disappearing into an old Neohome with a white picket fence.
We ducked behind some bushes and waited on the edge of our seats, figuratively speaking. All of my attention was focused on watching for Rimlen to come out, and I only got frustrated when my concentration was broken by Scout.
“Kataok? I think I figured something out,” she said in a small voice.
I rolled my eyes. “Yeah? What?” I asked, without really paying attention.
“Well remember that note from Rimlen we found in Firestone’s desk?” I nodded. Who could forget that note? “It said, ‘I now dub thee too weak to hunt at our usual spot.’ It doesn’t make sense. Firestone doesn’t hunt; I asked him.”
Up until that point, I had just been nodding my head without listening. But when she told me that she actually asked Firestone that, I glared at her. “You asked him if he hunts?!” I exclaimed. “Did you lose your mind? He’s going to know for sure that we saw it now!”
“I’m pretty sure he’s already pretty suspicious of us, Katty. And it doesn’t exactly matter anymore,” Scout pointed out matter-of-factly. “Anyway, the note has to be code for something, doesn’t it? I think it has to do with what Rimlen’s up to right now.”
“What makes you think that?” I asked, curious to see what obscure thoughts she was about to share with Dart and me.
“Well, there’s that hunting thing, like I said before. He doesn’t hunt, but she’s apparently kicking them out of their usual hunting spot. Like I said, that’s not right. But we are in the Month of Hunting. It kind of adds up, doesn’t it?”
I thought for a moment, without saying anything. Dart however, spoke up. “I think she has something here. That would explain a lot. It must mean that they’re meeting up to do something this month, at some prearranged place, right?”
Although I hated to admit it, Scout definitely seemed to be right. However, we didn’t have time to discuss it, as Rimlen had come back out of the home again and continued on her way.
The brown Nimmo seemed to have mastered the art of blending into the shadows, because as she trekked down the road, we had a difficult time keeping track of her. We had been following her for ages, when she finally reached the beach and picked up her pace. On the distant shore, a small ship was visible.
“Smuggler’s Cove,” Dart and Scout whispered simultaneously. Really, we all should have known where this was headed. But I admit, I thought that Firestone was a bit more of an innovator. If you’re going to do something suspicious, Smuggler’s Cove is just a bit too cliché, in my opinion.
The tricky thing about the Cove beach is that it’s impossible to hide on. I quickly volunteered myself to follow Rimlen further, since we wouldn’t all be able to continue on together. However, Scout let loose a highly anticipated protest.
“I’m smaller so they won’t be able to see me as well, you know. And, not to mention, I’m not as old as you, so I’m more flexible and can run or dodge or whatever I might need to do. Let me go for once!” Scout whined.
“You don’t have enough experience,” I told her sternly. “I don’t want to risk anything happening to you. This isn’t a discussion, kid.” While we fought, Rimlen was getting further away, although luckily still within sight. So as usual, I didn’t have time to argue with Scout.
“You’re not being fair! I’ve figured out more things in this case then you have! Why don’t you trust me!” Scout fought back bitterly.
Dart’s calm, reasonable voice interceded. “Look, Kataok... We’re running low on time here, and she’s right. Just let her try. We’ll be backing her up, and it won’t take very long to run after her if she needs help.”
“She can’t do it,” I replied, standing my ground.
“You are just a stubborn old Eyrie who thinks you’re way better at being an agent than you actually are!” Scout spat back. “I used to look up to you, you know... until I met you.”
This stopped me. Feeling shocked and defeated, I had to let her go. So Scout secretly darted and hid, catching up to Rimlen. Years of experience gave me the weary feeling that something awful was going to happen, yet I sat useless. And apparently I also set a bad role model for kids. The fact that Scout now thought that little of me hurt me more than I wanted to admit. But I couldn’t be thinking about my feelings now when this mission was going full blast.
So all we could do was wait as Scout ran into possible danger.
To be continued...