The Petpet Detectives: Case of the Yanked Yooyus - Part Eight
The following morning was the third of the month of Relaxing. Because we had been so busy in Altador, it felt like we had spent two weeks in the city instead of two days. And it didn’t help that I wasn’t sleeping well.
I woke around nine and found the room empty. Damien and Charlie had left a note on the nightstand; I recognized Damien’s elegant cursive:
Charlie, Luna, and I are having breakfast with Dominic Fletcher and Candice Valentine at Torrino’s. You looked pretty crashed so I didn’t want to wake you. We’ll be back later.
I preened my white feathers and washed my face before heading downstairs to enjoy the complimentary breakfast.
After filling my plate with scrambled eggs, toast, and an apple, I took a seat in a quiet corner and began to eat. The room was oddly empty except for a few Meridellians close to the buffet bar and a grey Krawk reading the Neopian Times. His torso was covered by the majority of the paper, but I could see a black bandana tied around his head and wisps of silvery hair poking out around his ears.
I began to chew a little slower, eyes focusing on the top of his head. When he put the paper down and picked at his scrambled eggs, my heart stopped. Not a grey Krawk, I realized. Pirate!
Sitting just two tables across from me was Dasher Soley. I cursed myself for not realizing it sooner; the black bandana should’ve been a dead giveaway. Now I could see that he also donned a black T-shirt and matching red and black wristbands.
He scanned the headlines again. “Have you seen the front page this mornin’?”
My fork clattered noisily on the table. Was he talking to me in that trademark gravely voice of his?
The old Krawk looked up.
“Uhh,” I said. “No, I haven’t yet.”
He squinted at me. “Wait, you’re one of them detectives, aren’t ya?” He chuckled. “Guess ya know all about it.”
“I was really looking forward to seeing you guys play,” I said after a moment. “Red and black have always been my colors.”
Dasher gave me a haughty grin. He started over to the breakfast bar and I followed him. “As soon as those darned Yooyus are found, ol’ Dash and the team will be back in the action. And believe me, we’re takin’ the gold this year.”
“I don’t doubt it for a second, Mr. Soley,” I said, awestruck.
“My question is,” the old Krawk said, leaning in, “why can’t they just round up some Yooyus, train ‘em, and then throw ‘em in the arena? This whole blasted thing would be over with.”
I chuckled. “I wish it were that sim--”
“Marlo!” a too-recognizable voice from behind me exclaimed.
I spun around, mortified. Luna strode up to us and fixed her eyes on Dasher Soley instantly, whipping out her notebook.
“Are you on the Krawk Island team?” she asked.
Dasher smirked. “What gave that away?”
Unfazed, Luna asked, “Would you mind revealing the whereabouts of each of your teammates on the first morning of this month just before the opening ceremony?”
Dasher grinned in amusement and disbelief. “You’re tryin’ to say,” he began slowly, “that you think one of my teammates is responsible for this fiasco?”
“We found traces of Krawk Island colors in the room where the Yooyus were last seen,” Luna explained. “We think they came from those red and black wristbands.”
Dasher tugged on his red wristband and held it in front of Luna’s face. “Do you have any idea how many people wear these? They sell for one hundred Neopoints in the gift shop.”
“Look,” Luna said, “I’m not accusing your team. What I’m trying to tell you is that we’re looking for someone who supports Krawk Island. We would greatly appreciate your cooperation, as the faster we’re finished with this, the faster the Altador Cup will resume. Catch my drift?”
Dasher Soley pursed his lips. “Yeah, I get what you’re sayin’.”
“Good.” Luna smiled. “Then you won’t mind providing us with your teammates’ wristbands. We’d like to inspect them for distress patterns.”
“I can provide a warrant if you prefer.”
Dasher turned to me. “Is she serious?”
I flinched at being put on the spot. Although my Yooyuball idol was standing a few feet in front of me, Luna was at my side. My brain was frying like an egg, but I remembered what had been said last night. “We’re serious,” I confirmed.
Dasher raised an eyebrow. “Fine,” he said. “I’ll have ‘em delivered by the end of the day.” He leaned in and added, “We may be pirates with little modesty, but we got lots of pride. You’re not gonna find nothin’ from my team.”
With that, the old captain swaggered towards the elevators.
“Luna!” I exclaimed quietly to avoid making a moron out of myself in front of the Meridellians. “Do you even know who that was?”
Luna shrugged, jotting down information as fast as she could. “A stuck-up Krawk with a cooperation problem?”
“He has every right to be stuck-up! Luna,” I said, trying to make her understand, “that was Dasher Soley. Captain of the Krawk Island team.”
“Was it?” said Luna. “Wonderful.”
I couldn’t believe her nonchalance.
“Look,” she said hastily, still writing. “I’m sorry I ruined your moment. If it makes you feel any better, he’s staying on the second floor, room 215.”
“How on Neopia do you know that, Luna?” Fortunately, I was too overjoyed to be offended. “You randomly find out the location of the greatest Yooyuball team captain in the world and you didn’t tell me, his biggest worshipper?”
“Marlo,” she whispered, “pull yourself together. Fan-boy giddiness doesn’t suit you.”
As Dasher had promised, a small box stuffed with wristbands arrived around three o’clock that afternoon.
“How do we know that these are legit?” Luna asked. “Soley could’ve ordered five new pairs and had them sent to us.”
Damien pulled a handful out of the box and inspected one pair. “They’re awfully ratty to be new.”
I picked up another pair and turned it around in my paw. “The edges are a little fringed,” I noticed. “What kind of pattern are we looking for?”
“An uneven line of deep tearing,” said Damien. “And I mean deep. It’s my assumption that when the kidnapper snagged the bands, he or she panicked and tugged hard to get free.”
“Why wouldn’t he or she just pull their hand out of the chute?” Luna asked.
Charlie considered the inquiry. “Maybe they didn’t want to leave an entire clue. Or,” the pea Chia rubbed his chin thoughtfully, “the diameter of their wrist was smaller than their actual hand.”
“Come again?” I said.
Now Charlie was smiling. “Yeah,” he said. “Think of a Ruki, for example. Their arms are skinnier than their pinchers. So if a Ruki was wearing wrist bands, it must’ve taken some effort to get them over their pinchers.”
“The kidnapper may have had no choice but to tug until their arm was free,” Luna reiterated.
“Precisely,” said Charlie. “That combined with haste resulted in the snag.”
It didn’t take very long to check five pairs of wristbands, and sooner than we knew it, the job was completed. There were occasional picks and fringing around the edges, but no obvious stress areas. In a way, I was relieved that my team was out from under the radar, but ultimately decided that it would have been easier if we had found what we were looking for.
“Krawk Island is innocent,” Luna admitted.
Damien and I breathed identical sighs of relief.
“Unless someone on the Krawk Island team was not the kidnapper in the laundry room but rather the kidnapper in the Yooyu Room,” Charlie pointed out with a teasing grin.
“Hey, hey, that’s enough,” I snapped.
Damien took off his hat and let it rest in his lap. “Going back to what Charlie suggested earlier, it’s possible we’re looking for a Neopian with bigger hands and smaller wrists.”
“That leaves anyone with paws or hooves,” said Luna.
“Plus claws or pinchers, like Ruki, Bori, and Lutari,” Damien added. “In other words...
A knock on the door broke our line of concentration. Luna stood to answer it, and Damien and I hurried to clean up the wristbands and box. When we saw who our unexpected guest was, Damien, Charlie, and I crowded in the frame.
Jasper Curry stood outside the door. The Darigan Skeith’s purple face looked more like a shade of lavender. At first I thought it might be the weird fluorescent hallway lights, but then I noticed his panicked expression.
“Jasper,” said Luna. “Please come in. Would you like a seat?”
The Skeith wordlessly allowed himself to be led to the nearest chair and collapsed into it.
“Ah,” he began timidly, and for the first time we had been here, the Head of the Altador Cup Committee’s voice had lost its bravado. “I’m sorry to bother you. I... I found this on my desk and thought you should read it.”
He handed the paper to Luna and I peered over her shoulder to read the dark letters:
Mr. Curry --
By this point, I assume you know a lot about me. What I look like. Where I’ve been. The things I’ve done. Your detectives were even lucky enough to uncover the team I support. I apologize for making that mistake.
Fortunately for you, I am growing tired of this game. Allow me to bring it to an abrupt end. I expect to receive a sum of fifty million Neopoints and, if my request is met, the Yooyus will be safely returned to you. Leave the money in the top drawer of your desk and don’t even think about trying anything foolish. Remember: I’m always watching.
You have until Thursday at midnight.
-- The Krawk Island Fan
To be continued...