The Petpet Detectives: Case of the Exported Eustabees - Part Six
Damien sighed. “I’m going to go over the security tapes again at Nina’s house. Maybe... there’s something we missed.”
From his tone, we could all tell he doubted that. I admired his persistence, though. Sitting here on our behinds was certainly not going to solve the case. The royal Aisha opened the front door and started to go.
“Want some company?” I asked.
Damien turned and frowned. “No thanks. I just need to think.”
About an hour or so after Damien had left, a sharp rap on the door startled us. Luna went to answer it. Two Gelerts, red and blue, stood there, wearing identical goofy grins. I had almost forgotten that there was a second team of detectives working the case.
“Oh,” said Luna, not bothering to hide the disappointment in her tone. “Hi. What do you want?”
“We just wanted to come by and see what everyone is up to,” said Dash, brushing right past her as if it was his home. Jazz followed.
“Actually,” said Dash, making himself at home in Damien’s favorite armchair, “we were wondering if you had any leads on the case.”
“Yeah,” I said. “A few.”
Dash nodded, blue ears flopping. “That’s good. Us too. So Jazz and I were thinking... maybe it would be cool if we all kind of... collaborated on the case. Whaddaya say? A team of six against three bad guys and seven Eustabees!”
For a moment I thought he was joking, but after the serious silence that followed, I realized that he wasn’t.
“The three of us should probably discuss this a bit before any decisions are made,” said Charlie, from the armrest. “Excuse us.” He scurried down from the chair and Luna and I followed him upstairs to the Evidence Room. Every inch of the desks were covered with sheets of paper about the Faerieland Academy, old photos from previous cases, and Luna’s scribbled notes.
The moment the three of us were upstairs and the door was closed, I spun around to face Luna and Charlie.
“Marlo, wait,” Luna said. The shadow Yurble sighed heavily. “Maybe this isn’t such a bad idea.”
“Yeah, it’s a horrible idea,” I retorted, crossing my arms and sinking into a squashy beanbag chair. “We’re not making any decisions until Damien gets back, anyway. What do you think, Charlie?”
The pea Chia blinked at me from atop the desk. He shrugged. “I dunno. Let’s just wait for Damien to get back so we all can discuss it.”
“Promise me something, Marlo,” said Luna gravely. “If Damien comes back with absolutely nothing new, then we should at least consider Jazz and Dash’s offer.”
I stopped shaking my head. That didn’t seem like such an unfair deal. “Fine,” I said. “Let Jazz and Dash know we need some time to consider it.”
While Luna and Charlie headed back downstairs, I folded my white paws together on the beanbag chair and silently hoped.
Oh Fyora, let Damien find something...
Damien hit the rewind button on the Virtupets security system. The screened blurred once again and the taped started from the beginning. He watched as a brown Techo crept down the hallway, snagged the Eustabee sleeping on the living room sofa and wave to the camera as the Techo made a swift exit.
Rubbing his face, the royal Aisha reviewed the other two tapes that he had received from Evan and Gracie on his way over here. He viewed Gracie’s tape again, the one with a blue Krawk as the kidnapper, and Remy’s, the one with a yellow Grundo as the kidnapper. The three Neopets were definitely similar...
“Find anything?” asked a hopeful voice from the doorway.
Damien turned. It was Nina, the Maraquan Shoyru who had been so kind as to let him use her security equipment to review the tapes again.
“Not much,” said Damien, and he added hopefully, “but I’m sure we will.”
Nina nodded patiently. “Would you like some coffee?”
“No, thank you,” said Damien. “But Nina... would you happen to have any books on Mystery Island in your library?”
“Actually,” said the Maraquan Shoyru, “follow me. I think I may have one or two.”
Damien followed Nina down the carpeted hall and into a room with a shiny marble floor, golden chandelier hanging from the ceiling, and wall shelves lined with old books. Nina began down the row on the left.
“I’m sorry if the place is a bit dusty. My son usually comes here for school projects to research, but he’s still in Shenkuu with relatives until,” she broke off, “until everything is sorted out. Ah,” her flipper stopped at a section near the bottom. “Mystery Island: A History. Hope that helps!”
“Excellent,” said Damien. “Thanks.” The royal Aisha took a seat at a nearby table and flipped open the book. After he had located the section he thought would be most useful, Damien pulled out the small, exotic leaf Luna and Marlo had found on Gracie’s back porch. Monte said that it was probably from Mystery Island...
After skimming through a few pages, Damien grew more and more excited. He stopped at ‘Nature & Wildlife’.
While he skimmed through the paragraphs, his mind started to wander. Similarity, he mused.The Neopets all had similar mannerisms and ways of entering the homes. Did this signify that they were a tight team? Or maybe that they weren’t a team at all? Damien exhaled, leaning back in his chair. No, that doesn’t make sense. Of course they were a team. The security footage proves it...
Then a new thought struck him. Or maybe, the footage proves just the opposite. Damien’s heartbeat quickened as he fished in his pocket for his red pen and some index cards Luna had made. He had nabbed them off her desk upon deciding to investigate on his own. Knowing that his theory was pretty far out, Damien shifted through the profile cards, checking each. He stopped on one in particular and read the information. Could it be?
Mystery Island. They Eustabees are going to be exported to Mystery Island! The five o’clock ferry would be the last until Monday; perhaps if Damien hurried, he would be able to postpone the trip!
I know who’s responsible.
The sudden realization made his head spin. Working quickly, he marked the page in the Mystery Island book with an index card. Still processing the information he had just discovered, Damien staggered out of the small room and down the hallway. He almost ran into Nina, who was carrying a mug of coffee. She gasped, startled.
“I’m sorry, Nina, I have to leave. I think I know how to solve the case,” said Damien, not pausing to take a breath. “Please, I need you to do me a favor. Take this book to the other Petpet Detectives straight away. 411 Bracknell Road.”
Nina looked a little frightened, excited, and anxious all at the same time. She managed a nod. “Okay. I’ll be sure it gets to them ASAP.”
“But Damien,” she followed him towards the front door, “where are you going?”
“If my hunch is correct, a ferry will be departing shortly from the docks, carrying all of the Eustabees somewhere to be traded. I should try to get there before it leaves... tell the others to meet me immediately.”
“But...” Nina stammered as the Aisha made his way out the door. “How will they know where to go?”
“Trust me,” said Damien, with a wink. He pointed to the book, “they’ll know.”
Damien jogged to the end of Winding Wood Drive, stopping at a large, cream-colored home with a red roof. The bronze numbers 4130 were printed on the mailbox.
He instantly began to think of a way in. The Aisha certainly couldn’t just waltz up to the front door and knock. He crept around the side of the house, along the fence, pretending to be looking at the house next to it. The blades of grass seemed to crunch louder than normal under Damien’s boots and the rustle of his clothes against the bushes sounded like a roar in his four ears.
Once to the back of the house, Damien crept up to the first window. Before he could even see if it was open, a shadow appeared against the house.
In one fluid motion, one hand was clamped around Damien’s waist and the other over his mouth. He tried to squirm but failed under the tight restraint. A smooth voice from behind filled his ears.
“If you wanted to come in, you should have used the front door.”
There was a loud knock.
I put down the photo of the graduating clients. “If that’s Jazz and Dash again I swear I’ll– ”
Luna opened the door and in rushed Nina. The Maraquan Shoyru looked slightly out of breath.
“Nina!” Luna exclaimed, leading her over to the sofa. “What’s wrong?”
“It’s Damien,” she breathed. “He wanted me to take this to you immediately. He says he knows who the thieves are.”
Luna took the leatherback book from her flippers and I stood up abruptly with Charlie to see what it was. My heart began to pound as Luna opened the page to where it was bookmarked with a blank index card.
“Nina, where is Damien now?” I asked.
The Maraquan Shoyru shuddered with fear. “I—I don’t know, he didn’t say. He said you would know where to go.”
My eyes returned to the page and I read the information as fast as I could. My eyes stopped at the word “Cyclamen”, which was underlined in red pen. “What’s that mean?”
“Damien thought it was important,” said Luna, and we put our heads together and read the underlined text.
While the Cyclamen leaves are delicious in teas, they are also a crucial ingredient in the creation of morphing potions, or magical potions that can change the physical appearance of anyone to whatever color and species of a Neopet that is inside the bottle...
“Morphing potions,” Luna uttered, her voice registering shock and disbelief. Horror filled her eyes as she realized what had happened. “There’s only one kidnapper! His plan was to disguise himself as several different Neopets to throw us.”
“The kidnapper made morphing potions and drank one before he left his own house. Wait, who do we know that could actually make a successful potion?” I asked.
“Someone who definitely got good marks in science class,” said Luna.
“Wait, there’s something on the other side,” Charlie pointed. “Flip the index card over.”
With a trembling black paw, Luna turned the card that had been wedged inside the book. It was one of the profiles that Luna had made of all the clients.
Monte’s description appeared on the front side of the card and the word ‘CHEMIST!’ was circled in red pen.
To be continued...