The Partnership: Part Eight
“Scout!” I exclaimed excitedly, squinting against the sunlight.
“Hey Katty,” the white Kougra greeted me, smirking. “Hi Dart! Boy did you guys get yourselves into a mess!”
“No kidding,” I responded dryly. “Where have you been? I was worried about you.”
“You were?” Scout asked, disbelieving. “Well, it’s a long story.”
“Fill us in,” Dart encouraged.
“So I was hiding in a big bush, when I looked back and saw that Firestone and Snorkle had caught you guys. I watched them lead you into that cave and saw Rimlen following with those boxes. When nobody came for me, I knew they didn’t know I was there. There’s this big long grass right outside the mouth of the cave, see, so I ran over as fast as I could and dove into them. I could hear you all talking in there. I was right about the hunting thing, by the way.”
“We know, we know. You were right about a lot of things, so I guess I owe you an apology,” I reluctantly admitted.
“Shh, I’m telling a story,” Scout interrupted, and I was grateful to her for saving my pride. I didn’t like to broadcast the fact that I was wrong. “So anyway, I heard Firestone’s plans and confessions. Then I suddenly saw one of the Petpetpets, a Moach, on my foot! It was so big and I’m really scared of Moaches, so I screamed a little. That’s when Firestone mentioned that he heard something. But I sat really quiet, so he wasn’t suspicious, I guess.”
“Yeah, okay, we already know this stuff; we were there. So what did you do the rest of the night then?” I hurried her along, not sure how much time we had left.
“You’re always so impatient, Katty,” Scout commented, shaking her head. “But okay. After the three of them left Smuggler’s Cove with those crates, I sneaked behind and trailed them. But I dropped off once they got onto a little boat off the shore. Knowing they were on their way to Neopia Central, I wasn’t really sure what to do next. But then I saw it.” Here she paused, hoping for a dramatic effect.
Dart shamelessly took the bait. “What did you see? Tell us!” he urged.
“A piece of paper. And not far from it was a pen. And from there inspiration just struck. I picked it up and furiously began writing, explaining the whole situation, and what Firestone had been doing,” she explained.
“But who did you write it to?” I asked anxiously. Scout was getting way too much enjoyment out of making us wait.
“Well, to the Neopian Bank, of course. Firestone was going to try and deposit his fake dubloons. I sent it off via Neomail, saying it had to reach as fast as possible. And then I waited there all night, until I fell asleep.” It was here that Scout spotted something shiny on the ground and got distracted.
“I’m actually impressed,” I admitted quietly to Dart, then turned back to Scout. “Well, go on.”
She looked up, surprised. “Oh, right! Sorry. When I woke up, it was already light outside. Since the bank didn’t write back, I don’t know what happened. So I got bored and decided to come find you guys. What are we going to do next?”
“Well, I’d really like to get untied sometime in the near future,” I responded sarcastically. “But these knots are tight, so I don’t know what to do.”
“Don’t you remember what I told you the first day we met, Katty?” Scout asked me.
“No. I wasn’t really listening to you talk.”
Scout laughed. “Silly, I told you that I was the best at untying knots in my class! I laugh at these pathetic attempts at tying that Firestone and Snorkle did. This will only take a minute.”
And she was sure right. I had never seen anybody untie ropes as fast as Scout did. Within minutes both Dart and I were rubbing our raw arms and legs and thanking her.
“Okay, we need to get out of here before Firestone comes back,” I ordered and we all quickly ran out of the cave, finally free from Smuggler’s Cove.
We decided to head back to my room at the Krawk Island Inn, since my belongings were still there. After the door was closed behind us, we collapsed, exhausted, on the floor. “Now what?” the Kougra inquired.
It seemed to me that Scout’s instincts had been right for most of this case. So instead I relayed the same question back to her, adding, “I think you know best.”
The Kougra looked overwhelmed, and smiled. “Well, since Firestone is in Neopia Central, I think that’s where we should be too.”
It seemed like a reasonable idea to me so I grabbed my things and headed towards the docks. We were about to load onto a ship, when Dart pulled out. “Krawk Island is really my place, and you guys don’t need me anymore. You better write and tell me what happens, though.”
I thanked Dart for all his help as we shook hands. Without him, we really wouldn’t have been able to get nearly as far in this case. Then Scout and I boarded the ship ourselves, and waved at the blue Lenny as we sailed off.
For a while, Scout and I stood at the ship’s rail quietly, just like we had upon arriving to Krawk Island. But something felt different, and that’s when I realized that the little scrap of a thing had grown on me.
“I’m proud of you, Scout,” I finally told her. “You really showed that you’re a capable agent on this mission. And you kind of saved my life back in that cave.”
“Well, I learned from the best,” she responded with laughing eyes.
I shook my head. “Yeah right. If there’s one thing you definitely did on this assignment, it’s that you’ve humbled me. I don’t think I’m as good as I thought I was.”
“Sure you are. I’m sorry I was so mean to you last night.”
I shrugged it off. Maybe Judge Hog was right, and a partner really had been good for me. I had probably learned more from this mission than any other I had been on. There had been flaws, and many, but I guess they always worked out for the better in the end.
Looking down, I saw Scout had a tear running down her face. Even though I had developed some sort of sympathy for her, I didn’t really know how to deal with crying kids. “What’s wrong with you?” I asked, a little harshly.
Scout, who was probably used to me by now, didn’t seem to notice. “I just realized something. Pickles, my plushie, got left behind in Firestone’s mansion when we left! Oh, I’m going to miss him so much. He was my favor-”
“I know,” I replied, cutting her off and rolling my eyes. Just when you started thinking of her like a regular person, Scout acted like a kid again. I guess some things still hadn’t changed.
* * * * * * *
It was probably around noon by the time we arrived in Neopia Central, and I was sure that Firestone was already back on his way to Krawk Island. It still didn’t hurt to check, though, so we ran through the busy streets as fast as we could to the Neopian Bank.
As we burst through the doors, I was annoyed to see that huge lines were queued up everywhere. Then in the middle of the room, I spotted Judge Hog standing and talking to people, much to my surprise.
“What do you think’s going on?” Scout yelled over the din.
“I don’t know,” I replied, and pulled Scout with me as we pushed through the crowd until we had drawn up right next to Judge Hog.
“Sir, what’s happening?” I asked him, confused.
“And here are the heroes themselves!” Judge Hog said happily. “Kataok and young Scout here caught the Uni who was making all these false deposits and losing so much money for the bank.”
And all the sudden, the two of us were bombarded with questions. Never exactly in a chatty mood, I found this was no exception and I ignored them all. Scout was suddenly shy, as if she was in the presence of Firestone again, and also didn’t say a word. So Judge Hog pushed us both out of the crowd and back onto the streets of Neopia, where we were just regular citizens once again.
“How did they get caught?” I asked him immediately as we stood by the Neopian Bank building.
“Well, the bank got Scout’s letter right before they opened and called me. I validated the letter, explaining the situation and proving it official. So they were all ready when Firestone and that mutant Grundo strolled in. Then all the bank had to do was check the counterfeit dubloons and it was over. Firestone hasn’t admitted to being guilty yet, but we’ve got the evidence. Congratulations, I’m very proud of both of you, Kataok.”
“Oh I can’t take all the credit. Scout here and Special Agent Dart helped me out significantly. In fact, I couldn’t have done it without them,” I explained without hesitation.
“The great Kataok, admitting to not being the only one responsible for completing an assignment?” asked the judge, astonished.
“We just deflated his head a little, sir Judge Hog, sir,” Scout responded, giggling.
Judge Hog laughed and I found myself laughing along as well. I guess I really had changed more than I thought.
“Anyway, this mission is obviously completed. Stop by my office tomorrow and we’ll get you a new one, Kataok. And this time, you’ll do it solo,” Judge Hog informed me quietly.
Looking over at Scout, who had clearly overheard, I thought about it. For some reason, this young, white Kougra had affected me throughout the mission. When we first started, I never would have dreamed she’d be as useful as she was. It was at that moment I realized something that changed the rest of my life.
“Sorry, sir. I’m not doing anymore missions unless Scout can come with,” I decided. The Kougra gave me a wide grin, and I smiled back.
It seemed that I had found myself a new partner: Agent Scout.