A Snowbunny Mystery
The Desert Uni slipped silently into the shadows of the skyscrapers. Her large blue eyes reflected the shapes of the bustling crowd of neopets at the entrance to the building. She shuffled her feet a little. Would she be able to get in? The Uni shook her chestnut head; of course she would. She gripped her red bag, pushing gently through the shouting crowd to get to the door. The growing mob didn’t seem to notice her as she shoved them out of the way. They just went on with their screaming.
“Hey! Watch it!” a Blue Acara shouted at the Uni. She didn’t hear him, shoving forcefully to the door.
When Maryann reached the double glass entrance to the Defenders of Neopia, she took a great sigh of relief. She pushed the heavy door back and strode into the large, grand lobby. In here it was a lot quieter than outside its doors. Maryann was grateful for that. She began trudging up the six flights of stairs that led to her department. She finally reached it and walked down the brightly lit hallway to the floors main room.
The Department of Detectives is a not very known branch of Defenders of Neopia. Those who are allowed to work there like it that way. ‘The less they know, the better’ is their motto. The members of D.O.D are the ones who figure out the mysteries to help the Defenders get the job done. D.O.D is the most important branch of the D.O.N.
Paul was shuffling through a pile of cases when his partner walked in. He picked up the file he was looking at and walked over to greet her.
“What’s with the mob outside?” he asked her. They shook hands as they always did.
“The Pant Devil’s on a robbing spree. Judge Hog and the volunteers are taking care of it.”
The Spotted Lupe nodded understandingly.
“So what do we have next?” Maryann gave her friend one of her award winning hopeful smiles.
Paul sighed deeply; he knew what she wanted. “I’ll tell you when Robert shows up. I want to tell both of you guys at once so I don’t have to repeat more than twice.”
Maryann rolled her eyes and chuckled quietly. She and Paul knew that Robert didn’t listen often. She sat down on Paul’s desk after shoving a few file folders and unorganized papers out of the way.
“At least give me a hint!” she begged. Paul began to answer, but the door to the office opened, revealing a blue Bori with very untidy hair. Robert strode into the room drinking a can of Neocola.
“Sorry, I’m late, guys. Had to stop and get breakfast.” His tone suggested that he was anything but sorry.
“Well, now that Rob’s here,” Paul began, “I can get on presenting the case. Apparently we have a petpet kidnapper. Every night, someone in Neopia gets their beloved petpet taken away. Why? Who did it?” Paul shrugged. “That I cannot answer. But we do know the first victim,” He held up a picture of Chocolate Cybunny, “Clara Whopper, lives on 12436 Pawkeet Street, just a couple block from where we are now. Her little Snowbunny got stolen just last week. Since then, we had about forty-five related instances.”
“By ‘related’ you mean what?”Maryann asked solemnly.
“All the same circumstances. Petpet owner leaves to go to another land, leaves petpet with a friend, comes home, petpet is gone,” Paul summarized for her.
“And we come in where?” his other companion asked while crushing the can with a crackle and throwing it into the trash can. “Oh yeah! Hole in one!”
“That’s golf, Robert, not basketball,” Maryann corrected.
“Whatever floats your boat.” Robert took the file from the desk and began flipping through it. His gentle ebony claws stopped on a page in the middle, his face painted in confusion.
“Paul? What’s this about?” The Neopet held up the page as Paul walked over to him. Paul’s face also contorted in confusion.
“I don’t know, kid. I didn’t put it in there, I promise.” Maryann was now very curious and took the page from her friends’ paws. She began reading the words.
Stay away from this case. It goes deeper than you will ever know. This is none of your business, you nosy brats. If you don’t heed this message, then I advise you watch your backs.
“Looks like somebody doesn’t want us to find something out,” Robert commented as if the note was nothing. Maryann nodded solemnly, turning her observant blue eyes at her friends. She pushed a strand of pure ebony hair out of her eyes and behind her ear. She pulled a small notepad out of the red bag she was still carrying.
“Let's split up.” She threw a notepad at each of the boys, who caught them with incredible agility. “Paul, you take a look at the Terror Mountain Petpet shop; they might have an idea who’s stealing the snowbunnies. Robert, you take a look around Neopia Central and see if anybody recognizes the handwriting on the note. I’ll go question the victims for any clues. Everybody ready?” Paul and Robert nodded in unison. The trio put their hands on top of each other, and threw them up in the air.
“Let’s go!” They cheered.
Maryann walked down the sidewalk of Clara the Chocolate Cybunny’s block. It was a beautiful day. The golden sun was shining and there were no clouds in sight. Maryann had her long hair pulled up in a ponytail (Robert had burst out laughing at the irony) and switched her red purse for a light weight satchel. She turned and looked at the house she was walking to. It was chocolate brown with a cream roof. The perfect house for a chocolate pet. She rang the front door bell.
Dingy~Dong. The ring echoed through the house. Maryann heard thundering footsteps as a Cybunny answered the door.
“Clara?” she asked the Neopet.
“I am she. Do I know you?”
“No, I am with the Department of Detectives in Defenders of Neopia. I heard your petpet was stolen recently.”
“Aren’t you a little too young to be a detective?”
Maryann blushed when she heard the much asked question. “No, they like to pick younger pets because we’re more creative than adults in theories. May I come in?” Clara stood pondering for a few minutes, before letting the young detective inside.
Robert shuffled down the bustling road in Neopia Central. The road glistened in the sunlight from a brief recent rain shower.The search for the author of the note was running dry; not a single Neopet had recognized it. He stuffed his clawed paws into his jean pockets as a cold spring breeze blew a piece of paper on the street onto his pant lag.
“Oh, great,” he mumbled as he pulled the paper off his leg. A smudge of black ink caught his eye. It had handwriting on it, identical to the writing on the letter he already had. He read the other note. It named an address that Robert, being a long time Neopian, knew was not far from where he stood. Below that there was more writing. The light rainstorm had made most of the words unreadable, but there were some words left.
...snowbunnies... Warehouse thirteen... stored... Mr.K... World Domination.
Robert rolled his eyes. What was it with evil villains and world domination? He shook his head. The world will never know. He folded it and put the newfound clue in his pocket. Humming quietly to pass the time, he happily walked down the street. He pulled a small notepad identical to the ones his partners had and wrote a quick letter.
Found clue. Meet me back at Headquarters. See you soon!
He stopped by the post office, which was right down the street, and bought a single envelope. He enclosed the letter inside, walked outside, and threw the envelope in the incoming breeze. He watched as it went poof! and disappeared. He smiled broadly. Neomail was so easy these days.
Paul trudged unhappily through knee deep snow as a cold wind pushed his efforts backwards. ‘Whoever heard of this type of weather in May?! It’s May, almost summer, for Fyora’s sake!’ he thought as another frigid gale rushed down the mountainside. His golden eyes darted around him. Through the millions of tiny snowflakes ramming into his face, he couldn’t see a thing but icy white.
Jingle-Jingle-Jingle. Paul could barely hear the faint clinking in the distance, yet he knew no one except a lunatic would be out here in this weather.
Jingle-Jingle-Jingle There it was again! Paul turned around in a complete circle, trying to find some hint of Neopian life. There! A hint of bright red on the white background. Paul raised his hands high and jumped and waved, trying to make himself seen. Apparently it worked, a Red Lutari in a wooden sleigh pulled by Raindorf pulled up beside him.
“Need a hand, lil’ buddy?” the elderly Bruce asked Paul kindly. Paul nodded.
“Are you Santa Claus?” Paul blushed deeply as he asked the question.
“Nope. I’m a helper, my friend. Name’s Nick! Climb in.” Nick offered Paul a paw and helped him climb into the sleigh.
“Where ya going?”
“Yup-Yup!” The Lutari slapped the reins and the Raindorf flew across the snow as fast as the cold wind itself.
They arrived at the petpet store as the rough blizzard was letting up. Paul thanked the kind Lutari and entered the store. The bell above the door clinked as he entered. The room was lined with cages containing many petpets he recognized and some he didn’t. Shoving his gloved paws into his pocket, he walked up to the storekeeper.
“Sir, I’ve got a few questions to ask you.”
The Shopkeeper looked surprised when Paul pulled out his detective badge. “Is this about the Snowbunny robberies?”
Paul backed up a few steps, surprised that the Bruce knew the reason he was here. The Shopkeeper, we shall call him Kevin, shrugged indifferently.”Everybody’s heard of it, kid. You think nobody else has asked me?” Now Paul was really intrigued.
“Oh, some green Quiggle came by yesterday and wanted to know if I had seen anything suspicious. I told him I hadn’t; he seemed very pleased at that remark, and he walked out.”
“Did he tell you his name?”
Kevin put down the Wreathy in his arms in a small comfortable cage. “Yes, I think it was Jacques.”
Paul jotted down the interview in his memo book. Unlike Maryann or Robert, he had a tendency to write everything down word for word. He smiled sweetly.
“Thank you, sir. Really, you don’t know how much this will help our investigation.” He shook hands with Kevin, then ran out the door. Today was a good day.
“Would you like some tea?” Clara the Chocolate Cybunny asked Maryann, who shook her head politely. They were sitting in Clara’s finely furnished living room to begin the interview. Maryann smiled as sweet as an Angelpuss.
“No, Ma’am. May we begin?” Clara nodded gently and stared off into space as she remembered the week her beloved petpet had been taken.
“Snowball had been a little more skittish than usual. He kept freaking out when my brother Jacques visited. I never figured out why. When I left for vacation at Mystery Island, I left Jacques in charge of Snowball. He was supposed to come in three times a day to feed him, give him water, and let him outside. But when I came home, my window was broken, and everything was out of place. Jacques said that when he had come in that afternoon, everything was how I left it. I looked everywhere for Snowball, thinking he was just hiding like usual, but he wasn’t. I reported him missing to the Defenders after that.”
“Is Jacques a suspect on your list?”
“Oh, of course not! He’s my big brother! Why would he steal my precious Snowbunny?”
“Mrs. Clara, you DO know Snowbunnies are worth four-hundred-fifty-thousand neopoints on the Trading Post, don’t you?”
Clara’s eyes widened. “Are you saying that you think my brother stole my petpet?”
“Yes, I believe so.”
Clara’s face gradually turned green as the truth dawned on her. She hadn’t suspected her greedy, stingy brother until this young Neopet suggested it. “W-Where do you think Snowball is?”
Maryann shook her deep brown head sadly. “If not already sold or traded, I’d say Jacques is hoarding them away somewhere to inflate the price.”
*Pop!* An envelope with Maryann’s name on it poofed suddenly into her lap. She picked it up and began to read. Her face went from almost stressed to relaxed as she read the letter.
“It seems I was right, Ms. Clara. My partner’s clue shows up with the same clue.” She gave it to the Cybunny. Clara’s face showed pure dismay at Robert’s clue. She put her face in her hands and began to sob. Maryann, who had seen many a victim cry over a family or friend’s betrayal sat next to her on the couch to comfort her.
“It’s okay, your brother must have had a good reason for doing it,” she cooed. Clara looked up with tear trimmed eyes, and nodded.
After Clara had calmed down, Maryann thanked her and left to go back to HQ. She trotted over by the docks, taking in the soft sea breeze that she loved. Having been once painted Maraquan Uni, the love of the water had never left her. But that’s another story. She noticed one warehouse that seemed abnormally light and heavily guarded. Maryann knew from experience that nobody ever stored anything so important that they would need Mutant Grundo guards armed with Rainbow Guns guarding the place. She caught quick movement in the corners of both eyes, distracting her from her thoughts. She held out her arms horizontally as two Neopets tried to jump out and scare her.
“When will you two ever figure out that just won’t work!” She shook her head as Robert and Paul walked out from behind two crates. Robert shrugged casually and Paul just put his hands up in surrender. She explained to them what Clara had told them, and they told her.
“Well, they all add up,” Maryann concluded.
“Jacques the Quiggle is our Snowbunny Kidnapper,” Paul stated.
“I’ll bet you five hundred neopoints that the dude is in the Warehouse,” Robert told Paul.
“You’re on.” They shook on it.
They waited till after nightfall, when the streetlights were just blinking on and no one was out. Maryann slid quietly into the broad shadows of the warehouse. She had her Ebony Mane down so she would more so blend in with the darkness. She slunk around the extent of the Streetlight’s beam and around to the door of the Warehouse. Her friends played follow the leader and copied her movements. Reaching the door, Maryann pulled a hair pin from her pocket. She jiggled it around in the lock for a few seconds until it clicked. She pushed the door open, smiling. She opened her shoulder bag and withdrew a rainbow glow worm that she had obtained in Moltara.
“Rainy, I need you to crawl inside and turn on the lights, can you do that?” Maryann whispered to the creature. It nodded its intelligent head and began to search for the lights.
“Maryann?How do you know he understood?” Robert commented. Maryann counted to three in her head. As she reached three, the lights boomed on. Maryann motioned for them to enter the room. She scanned around the large room that was filled with cages containing hundreds, maybe thousands of Snowbunnies. In the corner of the room, a green Quiggle sat in a comfortable red chair beside a lamp. He held the most recent copy of the Neopian Times.
The Quiggle, Jacques, the trio assumed looked up, his face a mask of anger and confusion.
“Guards! How did these CHILDREN get in here?!” he barked to no one.
He got out of his seat and walked up to Maryann with a dagger in his palm. Jacques pressed the cool blade against the Desert Uni’s throat.
“How much do you know, child?” he growled as Maryann’s eyes widened in fear.
In a stammering whisper, Maryann told him what she had found out. The green Quiggle's eyes narrowed throughout the entire confession as the information sank in. He quickly took the dagger off her throat, then appearing to walk back, he flung the silver weapon at Maryann’s throat.
Maryann ducked and rolled out of the way as the dagger struck the wall with a sickening clatter.
“Paul? Robert? Where are you?” Maryann cried,”I could use a little help here!” Jacques picked up the the Cobrall Dagger once more and flung it at Maryann’s chest. She quickly got to her feet and jumped out of the way as the flying object whizzed by her ear. With a sharp intake of breath, the Uni bolted for the line of Snowbunny Cages. She looked around frantically for a key or button to open the cages.
‘Come on,’ she thought, ‘Jacques has to have a key somewhere!’
A big bright red button caught her eye. Maryann smiled to herself; villains really needed to make their buttons more disguised. She reached out a shaking arm and pressed the button as hard as she could. There was a huge clatter as all the Snowbunnies’ cages opened.
“No! You stupid child! What have you done!” Jacques stormed over to Maryann and lifted her up by her shirt collar. “You’re going to pay for this! You’re going to pay-”
“Do what, Quiggle?” A deep voice echoed through the warehouse. Jacques froze and slowly turned around, dropping Maryann. His face was a mask of horror when he saw who was at the door.
“Jacques, you are under arrest for theft by the Defenders of Neopia; put your hands up in the air.” Judge Hog began walking to the Quiggle, pulling a pair of handcuffs out of his pocket. Jacques stumbled through the crowded floor of released Snowbunnies that were happily hopping on the floor.
He made it to the door before he felt himself being lifted off the ground and suddenly at Judge Hog’s feet.
“Thank you,Lightning Lenny,” Judge Hog told his nodding friend. He put the handcuffs on the Kidnapper’s wrists and they left the building.
Robert and Paul ran in, helping Maryann to her feet.
“You Neomailed them, didn’t you?” Maryann accused.
“Yeah, but Mary, we all know we couldn’t handle it on our own,” Paul said.
“And,” Robert interrupted, “we couldn’t let you take all the Credit!” He smiled smugly.
Maryann giggled, and her friends joined in. She then broke into a wide smile.
“Come on, guys, let's go home!”