The Petpet Detectives: Case of the Yanked Yooyus - Part One
Dedicated to jockylocky. Thank you for your endless support and encouragement. Thank you for being a wonderful friend.
Although it was the first day of the month of Relaxing, the thousands of fans seated in Altador’s vast Colosseum could do nothing of the sort. Each Neopet had their eyes peeled and banners at the ready, anticipating the start of the opening Yooyuball game. They yammered excitedly about the new season, all smiles and giggles.
Dominic Fletcher took a seat in his box at the center of the Colosseum. The starry Jetsam enjoyed seeing the entire arena come to life before his eyes just before a match. And this one was especially important. The game between Kreludor and Mystery Island was the first of the season and promised to be exhilarating.
What a fantastic seat, Dominic mused. As Kreludor entered the arena, he could see each grin of excitement, every ounce of determination in their eyes. The crowd roared and waved their banners. Team Mystery Island followed close behind and the crowd screamed again, anxious to welcome the first players of the season. Dominic could feel their energy permeating the thick glass. His own heart began to race.
The referee made team captains Derlyn Fonnet and Volgoth shake hands before all ten players took their places. All eyes were now fixed on the small, silver hole in the center of the arena, where any moment now the starter Yooyu would be launched into the air. The referee blew the whistle; Dominic and the thousands of fans waited with baited breath. Precious seconds passed and the Jetsam shifted uneasily in his chair. When his watch read half-a-minute, Dominic stood and pressed his fins to the glass helplessly.
Where is that darned Yooyu?
By now some of the players had broken their concentration and exchanged puzzled glances. A few audience members yelled onto the field. Dominic’s mind was reeling... things weren’t supposed to happen this way. The Yooyu always appeared after the players were in position and the whistle was blown -- everyone in the Colosseum knew that.
Before Dominic could comprehend the situation, the door to his box burst open and in rushed Candice Valentine, a pink Wocky who was also on the Altador Cup committee. Dominic was startled to see his friend out of breath and pale.
“Dom,” she panted in the doorway. “We have a huge problem!”
“What’s with the delay?”
Candice shook her head slowly, eyes wild. “It’s the Yooyus... they’re gone. All of them have vanished!”
When Jasper Curry discovered the aberration, the Darigan Skeith ordered Dominic Fletcher and Candice Valentine into his office as the hordes of angry Yooyuball fans were forced to leave the Colosseum.
“This is an outrage!” Curry retorted. “A disgrace to all of Altador! I want someone on this immediately.”
Candice twisted her paws, head to the floor. “Sir, I’m not sure who we could hire to take on a problem of this magnitude.”
“Then how do you suggest we address the matter?” the Head of the Altador Cup Committee spat.
“I know of some crime solvers who specialize in this kind of thing,” said Dominic quickly. “They’ve helped a friend of mine before. Trust me, they’re good. We would be making a smart decision to utilize them.”
Jasper Curry leaned forward in his swivel chair. “I want your detectives here within the hour. Miss Valentine, you come with me. The press is waiting outside of this building so we’ll need to use the fire escape. Fletcher,” he turned to the starry Jetsam, “speak to no one about this until these people have arrived.”
Dominic nodded his head curtly. “Yes, sir.”
The starry Jetsam hastily made his way down the hall and took the elevator to the ground floor. He discreetly exited through the back door where one of the usual Eyrie cabs was waiting for him.
“411 Bracknell Road, please,” he said as he climbed inside and closed the door.
“Neopia Central?” the Eyrie asked.
“Yes,” said Dominic, whose typical Eyrie cab trips were merely to his home on Alabriss Court. “I need to speak with the Petpet Detectives.”
Spending the first day of the month of Relaxing helping Luna reorganize and clean the large room upstairs was not my idea of a great summer afternoon. However, after years of tackling petpet thieves, a surprising amount of junk had accumulated in cabinets, desk drawers, and corner spaces.
Seeing as we would not spend the day glued to the NeoVision set, Luna insisted that the four of us use this opportunity to start our late spring cleaning. She had been pestering us for weeks.
“If we all work hard, this can be done in a day or so,” the shadow Yurble promised.
I surveyed the messy piles. “Yeah, and maybe Brightvale will win the Altador Cup this year... when they can get it back on its feet, that is.”
“I don’t know...” Damien began. “Lost Desert’s looking pretty strong.”
I tossed an old folder onto the junk pile like a Frisbee. “Psh. Leera Heggle’s got nothing on Dasher.”
The royal Aisha smiled slyly. “We’ll see about that. And look at Shenkuu last year, rising to fourth place!”
“They got lucky,” I insisted. “Besides, any team who places second last year always takes the Cup in the following season.”
“Who knows?” said Damien. “Maybe it’ll be different this year.”
Damien and I could argue about Altador Cup teams for hours. Luna and Charlie, however, were not so thrilled about Yooyuball.
The NeoVision set was on in the background, but there was no new information on the Yooyuball opening match disaster. Shots of the empty Colosseum were playing on a loop. As much as I wanted to avoid listening to the Mynci news reporter’s spiel again, I couldn’t bear to turn off the NeoVision in case something else groundbreaking happened.
Part of me was stunned. I continued to thumb through stacks of files, unable to focus on the documents inside. The fact that the opening of the fourth annual Altador Cup had come shattering to a halt was distracting. My stomach churned with frustration.
“How could this have happened?” I demanded.
Luna sighed. “I think all of Neopia’s asking that same question, Marlo. And you heard what those NeoVision reporters were saying earlier. No one’s allowed in the Colosseum -- not even the press.” She shrugged. “Whatever’s going on, we’ll just have to wait it out.”
Impatient and weary from the big news, I began to robotically sort through the pile in front of me. Slowly and one-by-one, each document was put into its proper place. When three stacks of files were left, we looked up to see a starry Jetsam emerging from the top of the stairs. He wore a dark blazer and a helpless expression.
“Ah...” Luna began, startled by our uninvited guest. “Can we help you?”
“I’m terribly sorry,” said the Jetsam, appearing flustered. “I knocked but no one answered and this is urgent.”
Of all the weeks in the year to lose a petpet, it had to be during the Altador Cup season. I groaned at our luck. Now all I had to worry about was falling out of the Yooyuball loop.
Luna took a step forward. “Let’s go to the living room and talk.”
“My name is Dominic Fletcher,” the Jetsam said once he was seated comfortably. He shook our hands as we introduced ourselves. “I’m on the Altador Cup Committee. As you may know, we are experiencing a very serious problem at the Colosseum.”
I nodded quickly in agreement, not believing where this was going. “Yeah, NeoVision’s been running the story all morning but nobody on the outside knows what’s going on.”
Dominic Fletcher shifted in his chair. “An employee named Trent is the one who prepares the Yooyus for their launch. He entered the facility under the arena to prepare for the starting game and found that all of the Yooyus had disappeared.” It took a moment for the shock to settle in. Dominic continued, “What’s even more outrageous was that one of our Yooyu caretakers, Ruby, was in the underground launch room moments before Trent entered and there were no problems.”
“So every Yooyu in that room vanished in just minutes,” said Luna. “How many petpets are we talking?”
Charlie shook his head in disbelief. “That’s quite a feat.”
Dominic pressed his starry fins together. “I’m sure you can see the enormity of this situation. That’s why the Head of the Altador Cup committee has requested your presence at the Colosseum as soon as possible, if you are willing to take the case.”
“Of course,” said Damien, eyes brightening. He turned and flashed me a discreet thumbs-up.
My stomach dropped, but not in that sickening way that meant something horrible had happened.
“I’ll call another Eyrie cab.” Dominic stood and prepared to leave.
“Thank you,” said Luna politely, “but that won’t be necessary. We’ll meet you there after we gather a few things.”
Dominic nodded and shook all of our hands again. His smile was appreciative. “Thank you.”
After the starry Jetsam was out the door and into his Eyrie cab, I felt my knees starting to give way. The room spun dangerously. Had I heard correctly? The Altador Cup Committee wanted us to come to the Colosseum? Wanted us to solve this paramount case?
“I’ll get my backpack and notebook,” said Luna, calm and collected. “If you guys want anything to take, get it now.”
Inhaling deeply, I attempted to adopt her tranquil demeanor, but inside I was completely freaking out.
To be continued...