The Shade Files - Halloween Nightmare: Part One
It was the day before Halloween. At the Defenders of Neopia headquarters, the various agents and support staff working there, myself included, were having a party to celebrate the arrival. It was obvious that the majority of the front line staff, if not all, would be out working the streets the following day, making sure that the children were all safe once the night arrived for trick or treating. Even though I was dressed up as a detective for the party, I had a feeling deep in my stomach that I was one of the few Neopians that was not going to be patrolling the streets even though I badly wanted to. After all, the DoN, specifically my boss wanted me to remain at the headquarters just in case something serious happened and I was needed, which could be at any time. That was one part of my job I did not like because that meant missing time that I could have spent with my friends and family.
As I was downing some sparkling fruit punch, I felt someone tapping me on my shoulder. Immediately, I turned around and saw a Blue Ixi, one of the boss’ secretaries, motioning me to follow her. My heart sank because I knew that I was working on a case, but I never showed any emotion to her as I followed her to my supervisor’s office.
Upon entering my supervisor’s office, my boss, a Fire Kyrii, swung around from his rolling chair in order to face me. Before briefing me on my mission, he pressed a button on his desk, allowing his office space to turn into a high tech mission center with tons of gadgets imported from the Virtupets Space Station. Every time he did that, I always get the impression that he was out of touch with what was going on as most of the time, it was not even necessary for the mission. It was apparent that he was doing it just for kicks.
“Agent 10, your mission today is to investigate the strange disappearances of Baby Neopets from Neopia Central and the surrounding area, including Kiko Lake and Roo Island. You will be working with the Lupe Pack Detectives on this one, seeing as they were the ones who requested your help. What makes this case unusual is that the parents only had their back turned for a few seconds before they disappeared,” he told me.
“Boss, have you even considered that these ‘strange disappearances’ may just be a kidnapping? This is out of the agent’s jurisdictions and into detective territory.” I retorted, not using his given name, seeing as how he treated me as just a number instead of an actual Neopian.
“To tell you the truth, Agent 10, the LPD could not find a single shred of evidence that would lead them to the culprit no matter how hard they try, and they’re one of the best detective agencies in Neopia Central. I suspect that they are not doing their jobs properly and are probably being too lazy to find those clues. There’s also the time factor. As I told you before, Agent 10, the parents had their back turned for maybe a few seconds before their child disappeared. That’s not enough time for someone to open a window and snatch a Baby Neopet. Besides, the parents would have heard something if there was a kidnapper in the home,” he explained.
I was not impressed with his explanation, so I told him that his assumption of a mysterious force at play the day before Halloween may not be true at all. Besides, the other reason why I was not impressed, but did not tell my boss, was the fact that he had outright stated that the LPD was lazy right in front of my face, which I knew was not true at all, given their stellar reputation. The only reason why they requested my help was that they were completely stumped on their current case.
“Just do your job, Agent 10.” I left his office, significantly furious that I was going to be working on the day before Halloween and possibly on Halloween. After all, it was his rule that forced me to remain on call at the DoN no matter what the circumstances were.
I did not know any of the Lupe Pack Detectives personally, but I did recall that the head of the Bookworms, Terra, a Brown Gelert, was friends with Aura, a Starry Lupe, as they had worked together in the past when they were with the Petpet Protection League. However, I was familiar with the LPD’s work tactics and ethics, from what the Bookworms told me and through the various pieces that I had read about in the Neopian Times, so I knew what to expect from them.
When I arrived at their Neohome, located on 477 Aisha Avenue, I ran into a Faerie Pteri on her way out. I had to apologize to her as I helped her up, but she did not seem as surprised when she saw me.
“Blizzard, you have a Shadow Wocky outside your Neohome. Judging by his clothes, I think it might be important because he’s a detective,” she yelled without looking back. A Blue Lupe, wearing black detective clothing similar to the grey trenchcoat and fedora that I was wearing, came running out, slightly confused. It took her a few seconds to realize just who I was because I guess she was not used to seeing me dressed up as a detective. This time, it was the Faerie Pteri’s turn to apologize to me for the misunderstanding before she left.
I followed Blizzard into the living room, which I presumed was their temporary command post, judging by the Virtupets walkie-talkie on the Glass Coffee Table and the large amount of letters beside it. It must have been hard on the LPD with all of the letters that they were receiving, so Blizzard must have thought that it was a good idea to split the team up in order for them to cover more ground faster. I had a theory, but needed to talk to someone at the scene, so I told Blizzard about my request. She acknowledged it. As soon as we heard Aura’s voice on the walkie-talkie, Blizzard picked it up and talked to her for couple of seconds before handing it over to me.
“Aura, when you were investigating, did you sense any magic in the vicinity?” I asked her. She replied that she did feel some magic remnants at the majority of the houses that she visited before admitting that she thought that the remnants did not seem that important to her.
“That’s more than enough, Aura, even if it’s not much to start with. I think that’s also the reason why you guys haven’t been able to find any evidence of the culprit. However, continue searching. Our kidnapper may have unwittingly left something behind in some of the other houses, even if he or she used magic. I’ll explain to you in more detail as soon as you and your brothers are finished checking all of the Neohomes affected.”
Soon after talking to Aura, I talked with Opren, a Striped Lupe, and Solar Flare, a Fire Lupe, giving them the same instructions as I did with Aura. They too confirmed the magic remnants at their crime scenes. With the information that I received from them, I knew that something bizarre was going on, but I had no motive for why Baby Neopets were being targeted in particular. It started to look like my boss was right about this one after all, but it was something that I would not admit to his face.
At approximately a quarter past six in the afternoon, the three Lupes returned from their investigating duties, looking a little bit tired as they sat down on the couch. As if she was reading their minds, Blizzard came in from the kitchen, bearing three cups of Chamomile Tea and set them down in front of them on the Glass Coffee Table.
“Whew, being on my feet for nearly half a day is certainly tiring. It’s been a while since I last did that, but I guess it was worth it for the time being for this ‘joint’ investigation. Oh, Shade, before I forget, I think I may havefound some evidence of who we might be dealing with,” Solar Flare replied as he tossed something towards me. I picked it up from my lap and saw that it was a sealed evidence bag containing a single strand of hair, which I noted that it was from a Kyrii. A closer examination revealed the pattern to be from a Skunk one.
“Well, this is a nice surprise. Who would have guessed that our kidnapper is a Kyrii,” I said, smiling. “So, it looks like our primary suspect is imitating the infamous Skunk Kyrii, Yurius, if I’m not mistaken. I mean, if you think about it, not a lot of Neopians know how to create portals. I can understand that all Neopians have some sort of magic knowledge, but this type of magic is a lot more difficult to understand for your average Neopian”
“You have a point, Shade, but the reason why Yurius did the things that he did was to show the PPL, specifically Weltrude, that he was capable of becoming an agent. Besides, he was seeking revenge was because he thought he had been wrongfully dismissed, which wasn’t the case. Right now, we only have a very small evidence pool, plus, we have no motive for our kidnapper,” Aura reminded me.
“I know, but you’re missing my main point, Aura. Technically, Neopians can use portals to get to one place for convenience if they want to, but what this Neopian is doing is basically illegal magic for obvious reasons. I was only referring to Yurius because he had some knowledge of creating and closing those portals during the ‘Operation Petpet Park’ missions even though the circumstances are different this time from our case. You should know that, Aura, seeing as you were a PPL member at one point”
“Well,” said Opren, “at least we have a good start, even if it’s just a single strand of hair. Of course, we don’t know if he or she will strike again tomorrow, but it seems likely, considering the circumstances. I have to admit, though, Halloween is one of the best times for our kidnapper to strike due to the fact that there’s a lot children out that night trick-or-treating, along with the spooky stories associated with the holiday.”
“Then I guess when we have our annual Halloween meeting tomorrow afternoon, we’ll tell the other detectives to keep a vigilant eye out just in case during their neighbourhood patrol. I want to make sure that all children get home safely and to prevent crimes from occurring on that night. This is no different from any other threats,” Blizzard replied.
Before my meeting with the LPD was over, I asked them if I could join them tomorrow for the Halloween meeting and help them out with the patrol even though I was technically supposed to be working. To my surprise, they agreed, stating that it would be beneficial if there were more people helping out.