Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 135,120,767 Issue: 266 | 17th day of Storing, Y8
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At the AstroVilla: Part Seven

by kemppotatoe



      Luther the Kougra frowned and looked around him. He was standing alone in a small area of the AstroVilla kitchens. There was no one there but him and a couple piles of dirty dishes. Where had that sound come from?

      "Psssst! Hey... down here!"

      Luther lowered his gaze, slowly rotating on his heels. There was nothing around him except a cloth-covered serving cart with more dirty dishes which a waiter had just brought in from the restaurant. As he frowned at it, the covering of the lower part moved an inch.

      Luther jumped in surprise and looked around to see if anyone else had noticed it. But he saw that he was still alone. "Who's there?" he whispered, dropping to his knees next to the cart.

      "It's me," a hushed and frantic whisper shot out, "Cypher!"

      Luther ducked his head under the cloth to see Cypher sitting there. "Cypher? What are you doing here?"

      "I really need to talk to you," she said, panicked.

      Luther sighed, rolling his eyes. "If Griptor finds out that we're together you could be thrown out, and I could be fired! Is it enough to risk that?"

      "Yes!" Cypher said, nodding enthusiastically. "Luther, if we don't solve this, you'll lose your job anyhow. The Chia Police don't know as much as I do."

      "So tell them!" Luther said, shrugging. "Tell them what you know and let them do the solving! I can't be fired, and I'm not ready to risk it."

      "Listen to me!" Cypher whispered frantically. "I can't tell them because I'm not supposed to! I don't think I am, anyway..."

      "What are you talking about?" Luther demanded angrily.

      "Luther, I think I've been pulled into this without meaning to get involved," Cypher said, worry in her voice. "I don't think Aewa told me anything in the first place just to make my stay here more interesting! I'm being serious here, Luther, I've been dragged into something and I need your help!"

      "What can I possibly do? And what could Aewa have in mind when she told you about the legend if it wasn't to entertain you?"

      Cypher took a deep breath. "I think I'm supposed to solve it. She gave me a deliberate clue... she's trying to tell me something, but she can't! Honestly, haven't you noticed Aewa's strange behavior? What business can she possibly need to attend to? Where'd she disappear to?"

      Luther stared at the Cybunny, his mouth open slightly in astonishment. "Let me get this straight. You think that Aewa deliberately dropped a clue for you to solve the mystery?"

      "Yes," Cypher said, "and I don't care what that oaf Griptor says. If we don't do something, he'll lose his job too. Please... will you help me?"

      Luther sighed. "Fine," he smirked, "but you better be right."


      As Cypher made her way up to her room that night, a frantic Techo in uniform rushed by. "Torington?" Cypher said, turning around and beginning to follow the familiar face. "Torington, where are you going?"

      The Techo shook his head, speeding up. "Can't tell you!" he choked. "Must go!"

      Cypher's eyes widened. "Someone's been kidnapped, haven't they?"

      "No, no, no, no..." Torington stopped at the elevator and pressed the button, waiting. "I can't tell you anything. Griptor warned me that you were trying to solve this crisis. It's not for guests to know who's been kidnapped this time!"

      "So someone has been kidnapped!" Cypher rushed into the elevator as the doors opened, pressing the 'door shut' button before Torington could push her out.

      "Oh fine," the Techo said, pressing the button for the lobby, "yes, yes, yes. But you must not inquire any further!"

      "How can someone have been kidnapped in the middle of a busy lobby? Surely someone must have noticed!" Cypher knew she could pry a few more answers out of him.

      "Not in the lobby, in the basement! That's the staff quarters, so there's no button on the elevator. There's stairs from the lobby."

      "So it's a staff member, is it?" Cypher asked.

      "Yes, a maid. Some pets heard a scream..." Torington slowly died off, aware that he was revealing some confidential hotel information. He glared at Cypher, obviously angry that she had managed to get so much information out of him. "Why are you so intent on figuring out who committed this crime? I mean... why do you care so much?"

      Cypher sighed. "You wouldn't believe me if I told you."


      When a guest entered the elevator on the fourteenth floor, Cypher grabbed her chance to fool Torington. She exited the elevator and headed to the coffee shop. She didn't need to pretend like that's where she wanted to be... because it was.

      "Dez!" Cypher said, approaching the cash register. "I need your help."

      The Bori raised his eyebrows. "Do you need to get into the kitchens? 'Cause I think Luther's down in his room. Besides, that chef uniform got some coffee spilled on it while it was stored in the freezer..."

      "All I need," Cypher interrupted, "is your staff key." She nodded in the direction of the string that hung around his neck. At the end was a small silver key; every staff member was required to wear their key necklace at all times. The keys could unlock every door in the hotel.

      Dez frowned at her. "I'm not supposed to, but I guess if it's for the hotel... I'll let you borrow it. But if I'm caught without it, I'll get into huge trouble... so be back soon."

      "Okay," Cypher said, just as he handed her the necklace, "I will. Oh, one more thing, Dez! I see the only windows on this floor are the three small ones in the hall. I'm assuming it gets incredibly dark when all the lights are out... right?"

      "Yes..." Dez said slowly, frowning, "But what does that have to with anything?"

      Cypher didn't answer. As she made her way to the elevator, she turned around and smiled. "Thanks! I'll be back soon!"

      Dez raised his eyebrows as the elevator doors shut tight after her. "Geez," he muttered to himself, "if I didn't know any better, I'd say she was the kidnapper." He laughed under his breath. "Ha, if she is, I just gave her a key that accesses every single room in this hotel. Haha... oooohhhhh. This can't be good."


     In the lobby, Cypher hurried to a staff supply closet and unlocked it. Inside, she was lucky enough to find a spare maid uniform and an extra cart of cleaning supplies. After quickly changing and locking the closet back up, Cypher the Maid made her way to the basement.

     To get into the basement, Cypher once again had to use the staff key. Once she found herself in a stairwell with no way of going but down, she could hear lots of panicked voices below. As she made her way down the stairs, Cypher tried to act like she knew where she was going... even though she didn't have a clue what the basements were like.

     "This is serious... where are those Chias?"

     Cypher took her last step off the stairs and found herself in a hallway filled with pets in AstroVilla uniforms.

     "We're not all going to lose our jobs, are we?"

     Cypher saw doors off the hallway that she could only assume led to the rooms that the staff stayed in. Everyone was gathered in a clump and discussing the attacks.

     "This is insanity! Whoever is doing this needs to step up right now and admit it!" a rather angry Skeith chef called.

     "Well, it's obviously not someone who works here," a Gnorbu maid replied. "It must be some devious guest!"

     Luther stepped into the crowd. "Who would want to ruin the AstroVilla? Guest, maid, chef, police... whatever! Who's sick enough to find it amusing?"

     "Oh, what do you know, kid? Plenty of guests have reasons to hate this place. And I, personally, think it's that Pteri from the seventh floor!"

     "No, I bet it's the Bruce in the Luxury Suite on the sixteenth floor! He was saying the other day that the service here wasn't too good..."

     'Well, you know who I think it is?" the same angry Skeith called out. "I think it's that little Cybunny! The one who's staying on the twenty-sixth floor! Griptor said she was trying to solve the crime... I bet she was trying to lead everyone to the wrong conclusion!"

     Cypher's eyes widened. She instinctively grabbed a mop from the cart and pulled it in front of her face, still listening.

     "No!" Luther called out, "Cypher would never do that! She's really trying to solve this to help the hotel, not hurt it!"

     "Use your brain, Luther! That's exactly what she wants you to think! Maybe she took Janice because she didn't clean or fluff her pillows perfectly..."

     As the argument raged on, Cypher inches along slowly down the hallway, unnoticed by the quarreling staff. After passing a few doors, there came a sharp turn and another long hallway. Three feet away was exactly what Cypher was looking for.

     The electricity box, courtesy Virtupets.

     Luckily, she was now unseen by all of the employee pets, so she didn't have to be sneaky as she opened the little metal door on the box. On the inside, there were rows and rows and columns and columns of little black switches, each labeled with a number. On the inside of the door was a key to which number was which room.

     Cypher realized that the rectangle of switches was like the hotel itself. The bottom row was the basement, the second was the lobby, and so on. She located the fourteenth floor row, and saw that there was a switch for the coffee shop, the restaurant, the kitchens, the bakery, the hallway, the bathrooms... and one for the entire floor. Smirking, Cypher lifted her paw and flipped the switch.

     Screams erupted from fifteen floors above. The staff in the basement all panicked, trying to get up the stairs at once. Cypher popped her head around the corner and watched as the last maid scrambled up the steps. With the lights off up there, she could buy herself fifteen or so minutes to investigate down here, but she knew that sooner or later someone would realize that the electricity box had been meddled with and come down to fix it.

     "That leaves me about ten minutes," Cypher mumbled to herself, stepping into the main hallway. She had an idea that the room she wanted to investigate was near the beginning of the hall, seeing as earlier on everyone had been clumped up in that area.

      Cypher saw that on every door there were names. "Janice..." Cypher muttered to herself, eyeing each door, "They said her name was Janice..."

      It was the second door of the main hallway. Cypher smiled to herself as she unlocked it and pushed open the door, peering in. The room was small and cozy, but signs of a scuffle could be seen. The covers on the bed were thrown around, a few pieces of paper were lying on the floor, and two aprons were ripped and on the floor. Cypher's smile disappeared as she took another step in, looking around at the mess. "Who would do this?" she whispered to herself.

      "Why ask yourself that question if you're the answer?"

To be continued...

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Other Episodes

» At the AstroVilla: Part One
» At the AstroVilla: Part Two
» At the AstroVilla: Part Three
» At the AstroVilla: Part Four
» At the AstroVilla: Part Five
» At the AstroVilla: Part Six
» At the AstroVilla: Part Eight
» At the AstroVilla: Part Nine

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