The Petpet Detectives: Case of the Yanked Yooyus - Part Seven
Luna stared at the crumpled up piece of paper in her hand as if she expected it to sprout wings and fly away.
“Dominic Fletcher?” she repeated for the fourth time.
I rolled off the sofa and stretched. “I don’t see why you’re so surprised. It wouldn’t be the first time our client turned on us...”
Instead of rushing over to Dom’s office and accusing him on the spot, I figured it best to mull it over with Damien, Luna, and Charlie. It was almost dusk by the time I returned and outside of our window, the sun was rapidly disappearing over the birch trees.
“Marlo has a point,” said Damien.
“Yeah, but Dominic?” Luna asked. She paced the room, still clutching the slip of paper I had retrieved from the magic shop. “It doesn’t make any sense. What’s the motive?”
A laugh escaped me. “Even without a motive, he has an access card, he knows the Colosseum, and he ordered a Potion of Concealment a month ago.” I smoothed my white feathers to look half-way presentable and said, “Come on. At least we can go talk to him.”
We found Dominic Fletcher heading out of his office. The starry Jetsam was about to lock the door.
“Hi,” he said, turning. “Did you need something else? I was just about to leave. “Oh,” he added, “I heard about the whole invisibility thing.”
“Actually, that’s what we came to talk to you about,” I said.
Dominic’s brow furrowed in confusion. “Umm, okay. Please come in.” Luna, Damien, and I took seats in the black chairs that faced the desk. Dominic sat as well and pressed his fins together anxiously. “What about the invisible kidnappers? You’re not going to ask me if I’ve seen them, right?” He chuckled out of nervousness.
Luna pulled the receipt from the magic shop out of her backpack. “We noticed that you ordered an item from the magic shop last month.”
“I’ve purchased a few things from there,” Dominic admitted and scanned the paper.
“Then you can see why we’re concerned,” I said.
“Potion of Concealment?” he read. “I...” His jaw twitched. “I’m afraid I don’t have what you’re looking for.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Okay, but did you buy a Potion of Concealment on the 5th day of last month?”
Dominic’s blue cheeks flushed. He scratched the back of his neck and shifted in his chair. “Okay,” he said. “Okay.” The Jetsam wiped his face, suddenly weary. “Yes, I bought the potion, but it wasn’t for me.”
“We need a name,” Damien pressed, though tranquil.
Dominic shook his head. “Look, there was this guy. He called me over when I was leaving about a month ago. He told me he wanted me to buy something for him, and in return he’d give me fifty thousand Neopoints.”
I leaned back in my chair, both satisfied and vexed. “So you accepted fifty thousand Neopoints from a guy you didn’t know for ordering a Potion of Concealment from Neopia’s magic shop?”
“Oh my Fyora.” The Jetsam sighed heavily as he put two and two together. “If I had known... if I had known that I was supplying these people with the ultimate disguise...” He turned to me, eyes pleading. “It was fifty thousand Neopoints; the potion was so easy to tack onto my regular order...”
“Did you see what this guy looked like?” Luna asked.
Dominic bit his lip. “It was dark... I couldn’t see his face. He was about my size, I guess.”
“Where did you meet him?”
“In the courtyard, behind the King Altador statue.” Then a thought struck him and his face went white. “Am I going to lose my job?”
“That depends on what else we find,” I said, and stood. “Thanks for your time.”
“Dominic,” said Damien, “which team are you supporting this year?”
I turned, sensing that this was not a random question. Charlie tugged on my ear and I arranged my face to appear casual.
Dominic exhaled audibly before answering. “I guess I should be rooting for Altador, but I grew up in Maraqua. It’s always had a place in my heart.”
Unsatisfied, Damien tried again. “Do you know of anyone in this building who’d be in the Krawk Island cheering section?”
The starry Jetsam paused. “No one in particular.”
With that, the four of us left Dominic Fletcher, stone-faced, in his office.
“What about Krawk Island?” I pressed, once in the privacy of our own room.
“We didn’t get a chance to tell you,” said Charlie, “but Damien found red and black strands of material in the laundry room. The chute itself was dented and the fabric was hanging from one of the metal slats.”
“Charlie and I think that the Neopian in the laundry room put his arms inside the vent to help pull the Yooyus out, and in the process, snagged some of his clothing,” said Damien. “Judging from the material, we pegged it to be from those wristbands that the gift shop sells.”
“Or maybe from the wrist of an actual Yooyuball player,” Charlie added.
I laughed darkly. “Someone on the Krawk Island team? Very funny, guys.”
Damien gave me a look as if he anticipated my reaction. “You won’t at least consider it?”
“I won’t consider any of the Yooyuball players as suspects,” I corrected myself. It was obvious that Luna and Charlie weren’t on my side about this one, but Damien surprised me. He loved Yooyuball as much as I did.
“Everyone is a suspect, Marlo, as much as I hate to admit it,” he said. “Until we figure out these guys’ motives, each person with an access card can’t be trusted. Apparently not even Dominic Fletcher.” The Aisha adopted an even more serious tone. “We can’t afford to make mistakes on this one.”
For a moment, the room was silent except for the hum of the ceiling fan.
“Right,” I said. “Luna, where are those profile cards?”
The shadow Yurble spread the index cards on the coffee table and we began to sift through them. Names, species, and stories stared up at us. My jaw clenched. Someone on this table must be involved...
“Okay,” said Luna. “We have the trio of Altador Cup Committee representatives: Jasper Curry, Dominic Fletcher, and Candice Valentine. None are exactly the most-likely candidates, but it would be foolish to exclude them.” She slid their profile cards to the right of the table.
“Then comes our second trio, the Yooyuball Room employees,” said Charlie: “Ruby, Dax, and Trent, all with the perfect opportunity. Not only do they all have access cards, but they also spend time in the Yooyu Room before each game.”
With six profile cards on the right side of the table, that left a small pile to be addressed.
Damien picked up three. “Olivia, Alexander, and Knox were sitting in the section right next to the Yooyuball Room. They had an ideal opportunity to get inside the Yooyu Room, with a little help from a Potion of Concealment, of course.” The Aisha clasped his paws together, still thinking. “Knox has motive. Olivia said he used to work at the Colosseum, and she implied that it wasn’t his decision to leave.”
“Maybe after a few too many run-ins with the boss, Knox gets fired, but keeps his access card,” I finished.
“Exactly,” said Damien.
That left one card on the table.
“Camden,” I said, picking it up. “He has a definite motive, but no access card.”
“So he claims,” Luna pointed out.
I winced. “If he’s protesting the Yooyu use, I don’t think he’d buy a ticket to support the Altador Cup or somehow magically acquire an access card.”
“Well, someone must have magically acquired an access card,” said Charlie, “because Dax’s was stolen.” The pea Chia walked to Camden’s profile card on the coffee table and skimmed it. “This guy has the strongest motive of anyone. Maybe he teamed up with someone who works in the Colosseum.”
“Or maybe,” Luna began, “the person he teamed up with was this mysterious guy who bought the potion of Concealment from Dominic Fletcher.”
“Whoa, guys,” said Damien. “Until we find some evidence that Camden’s guilty, we can’t point the finger at him just because he has the most obvious motive.”
The conversation continued for hours and when the wall clock read after eleven, my eyelids began to droop. Luna said good night and crept to her room across the hall. Damien, Charlie, and I wearily retired to our own beds.
Sleep did not come easy.
Flying from place to place and anxiously discussing new findings with the team had made me physically exhausted, but mentally I was not ready to succumb. The profile cards were still on the table, and part of me wanted to get up and select the most likely pair of kidnappers among Luna’s scribbled notes.
Moonlight pooled in silvery bars through the open window. The white, silk curtains swayed in the evening breeze. The previous Altadorian night had been wonderful, but now that we learned more about our kidnappers, it was unlikely I would feel the same way about the openness of the room. The air was warm but a bout of tremors coursed down my spine.
Someone could be here right now and we just can’t see them, I thought. The idea creeped me out.
Shaking off the paranoia, I rolled onto my side and tugged the sheets up to my shoulders.
I hate invisible Neopians. Hate them, hate them, hate them...
To be continued...