Good Foundations: Part Five
Seth Vargo arrived late to Pizzaroo the next morning, in that breakfast had only just started to be served. The few customers that were already there observed his erratic behaviour, as if he seemed troubled by something.
He sat down at his usual table, and glared to either side of him.
“What can I get you this morning, sir?” a waiter asked his he came over to the table.
“The usual,” Vargo barked. “Have you seen Clive and Harry about? They were supposed to be here today.”
The waiter glanced momentarily at the spaces either side of Vargo. In all the months he had worked there, neither bodyguard had ever said a word, and had almost become part of the furniture. It was only as he looked in the spaces where they had stood that he noticed they were quite obviously missing.
“No, sir; however this was delivered for you this morning,” the waiter answered, before handing over a crisp white envelope.
Vargo tore the letter open greedily as the waiter scuttled off to get his order ready.
I trust I find you well?
In reply to your last correspondence, I feel I will be unable to, as you put it, ‘back off’. I do hope this doesn’t inconvenience you.
I am, as I’m sure you are aware, intensely concerned with the well being of Neopia Central’s citizens. You may have heard of the Zombie Union which I helped create to ensure better working conditions for all the living impaired in Neopia Central. It was therefore with some disappointment that I learnt of the working conditions of some of your employees.
I hope you understand that I felt honour bound to offer them positions in my organisation. At competitive pay, of course. You will find enclosed a list of Neopets who no longer work for you.
Should you have any issues with the premature termination of their contracts, please do not hesitate to contact me. You can find me at my construction yard in the Docklands at lunchtime.
Vargo took several minutes to break down the letter into his simpler language before the rage began to build up inside him.
“Traitors!” he shouted to no one in particular as he grabbed the list of names.
Johnny Twobit, Short Gary, Clive, Wax Ears Macleod, Harry, Tall Gary, Billy Bob... they were all there, every last one of them.
Vargo crumpled the paper in his hands and stood up from the table.
For the first time in his life, Seth Vargo was not in the mood for eating.
“Jennings!” Judge Hog shouted, bringing the carriage to a stop in the middle of the street.
The caped Moehog stood square in front of it, blocking the path as other carriages struggled to swerve around him.
“Ah, Judge Hog,” Mr. Jennings greeted him politely as he opened the door and climbed out. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”
“I just heard back from the Lost Desert,” the Judge growled.
“Ah, of course,” Jennings responded. “Please, get in.”
Jennings disappeared back inside the carriage, and the Judge reluctantly followed. Once he was seated, the carriage resumed its progress through the streets.
“Two crates, and inside two signs saying ‘Must Try Harder’,” the Judge explained.
“How embarrassing for General Dacon.” Jennings smirked.
“You tipped him off,” the Judge stated.
“I did nothing of the sort,” Jennings said dismissively. “Come now; Judge... you really think Mr. Kanrik of the Thieves Guild uses the Sankara Canyon Pass? Every thief from here to Krawk Island knows about it, it’s the principle smuggling route between Sakhmet and Altador. The only reason Princess Amira’s forces never found it was because they lack a collective brain cell.”
“So you expect me to believe that he just happened to send those fake crates down there?” the Judge snapped. “He knew about the tip off.”
“Mr. Kanrik is an intelligent man,” Jennings explained. “The Thieves Guild has changed a lot under his leadership. He knew you’d try to recover the gold; he is after all used to being double crossed.”
“So where is it?” the Judge asked.
“By now? In half the shops of Neopia Central, being used as pocket change,” Jennings said happily.
“Neopoints?” the Judge asked. “You melted the gold down for Neopoints?”
“Certainly not I,” Jennings chuckled. “You are well aware of the problems that the National Neopian Bank has been having in sourcing gold veins in the Shenkuu mountains, I assume? Mr. Kanrik approached them with a solution.”
“So all that talk of it getting back to Princess Amira one day was lies then?” the Judge demanded.
“Certainly not,” Jennings chuckled. “Certain lump sum payments may be being made to Sakhmet in the near future. The gold will return to the desert, just not in the form in which it left. Now really, Princess Amira is getting her gold back, her troops have been informed about a major smuggling route through their country, Mr. Kanrik has made enough money to ensure he doesn’t need to commit any major crimes for a few months, and the Defenders of Neopia got front page news about a haul of stolen gold that they found. What exactly is wrong with this situation to your ears?”
“There’s a crime in there somewhere,” the Judge muttered.
The carriage came to a stop.
“More than likely yes.” Jennings smiled. “Finding it and proving it may prove to be the problem.”
The Krawk stood up and opened the door leading outside.
“Now, it is just past lunchtime,” he announced, taking special care to emphasise the time, incorrect as it was. “Mr. Black will take you back to the Defenders H.Q. if you wish.”
Outside, he gave the tiniest of nods to the Grarrl atop the carriage, who cracked the whip on the Whinnies. The carriage was soon out of sight.
Walking carefully on his cane, Mr. Jennings entered the construction yard in front of him.
“Ah! Mr. Jennings, sir!” the Zombie Meerca inside shouted as he saw his employer arrive. “We weren’t expecting you today; we’re just about to finish laying the foundations.”
Jennings nodded. “I am aware. You’ve been working diligently this past week, Mr. Oldnose. You and your men can take the afternoon off.”
“Why... thank you, sir!” the Meerca beamed. “Though, the cement is already mixed; we can’t just leave it.”
Jennings placed his hand on the Meerca’s shoulder and gently turned him towards the exit. “I can assure you that everything will be in hand when you return after the weekend.”
The Meerca reluctantly left the construction yard, along with the few other Zombie workers.
Jennings paced around the large hole that had been dug in the centre. Large steel rods had been driven into the ground, and the concrete was all ready to be poured in from a large container at the side of the pit.
Jennings smiled slightly to himself as he heard the gate to the construction yard move.
“Jennings!” the unmistakable voice of Seth Vargo shouted.
Jennings turned to see him. “Good afternoon, Mr. Vargo. So glad you could make it.”
Jennings noticed that the Skeith was batting a very large club in his hand, and his eyes looked maddened with rage.
“You took my boys! I’m here for what’s mine!” the Skeith shouted, moving closer.
“I imagine you will get it,” Jennings said simply.
His hand moved instinctively towards his cane.
“No!” Vargo yelled. “None of that! No hidden weapons! Just you and me! The old fashioned way, like on the streets.”
Vargo threw his club to the ground. Jennings smiled thinly and threw his cane to one side.
“Just what do you intend to do, Mr. Vargo?” Jennings asked.
“Everyone knows what I’m good at,” Vargo replied in a growl.
His fists tensed for only a moment before he rushed forward, clawing and swiping madly. Despite Vargo’s size he moved surprisingly fast. Any normal person would have been unable to dodge.
Mr. Jennings was not a normal person.
He dodged to the side at the last moment, meaning Vargo had no time to react. The Skeith careered forwards, falling into the pit Mr. Jennings had been standing in front of.
Vargo roared with rage as he stood to his feet in the dirt, and then again when he realised there was no ladder back up.
“You can’t keep me down here forever, Jennings!” he spat. “I’ll get out sooner or later, and then you’re history!”
Jennings meanwhile paced along the top of the pit.
“You spoke to me once about good foundations, Mr. Vargo,” he said politely while the Skeith raged below. “This of course got me thinking. You have taken what I considered to be my home from me, Mr. Vargo. This place will soon be its replacement. So, I have asked myself. What would be the good foundation of this new building? The answer is plain.”
Jennings paused beside the container of cement.
“My enemies,” he added.
With a flick of the hand, the container split open, and the cement began to spill down into the pit.
“Jennings!” Vargo shouted, his voice suddenly filling with panic.
“Goodbye, Mr. Vargo,” the Krawk replied simply, before turning to go.
Jennings picked up his cane as he went.
Outside the construction yard, he took a small piece of paper out of his pocket. It was a list of four names.
1. Mr. Jonathan Entwhistle.
2. Mr. Seth Vargo.
3. Mr. Alfonso Might.
4. Lady Floretta Cambridge.
He carefully crossed out the second name, before putting the paper away and walking off down the street.