The Petpet Detectives: Case of the Yanked Yooyus - Part Two
The wind streamed past me, howling in my ears and gliding over my folded wings. I was a monstrous white bullet in the sky, blazing through puffs of clouds and virtually unstoppable. After passing over a long stretch of ice, alabaster mountains came into view. The temperature was dropping slowly but my body was working hard enough to generate an adequate amount of heat. I just hoped that Luna, Damien, and Charlie weren’t popsicles by the time we arrived.
When the city of Altador came into view, I tucked my orange beak to my chest and shot downwards to the cement like a missile as green trees and gray buildings came into view. I squinted my eyes and my vision reduced to a line of blue sky and blinding sun. Right before the landing, I pulled my shoulders and chest back, making Damien and Luna lurch forward. My paws touched gracefully and Luna slid off my back.
“I know Dominic said it was urgent, Marlo, but that was insane!”
Damien hopped off my other side. The royal Aisha brushed a thin layer of ice off of his sleeves and hat. If the sun was this intense, he’d be back to normal within minutes. Charlie remained atop my head, completely sheltered from the wind.
“Sorry,” I said, but I didn’t know if they had heard me because we had just noticed a crowd of people gathered in front of the Colosseum. Two burly Scorchios guarded the giant stone entryway with their arms crossed. I could see above the sea of heads that a thick line had already formed at the base of the steps. Perhaps people thought that the doors would soon be reopening and the first match would begin. I couldn’t blame them. The Altador Cup Committee was being very evasive; these Yooyuball fans had no idea how big the situation really was.
The Colosseum towered over the street like a looming, gray storm cloud, three tiers in height. It was a circular building with arches on every level, perhaps the largest Neopian structure we had ever seen. Two Lupe statues sat on either side of the steps, their expressions solemn.
The four of us started towards the crowd and saw Dominic Fletcher waiting for us on the steps. The starry Jetsam sat up immediately and beckoned for us to follow him. He spoke briefly to the guards and we tailed him through the open hall.
“Thank you for coming,” he said, beaming toothily. “Please follow me.”
We strode briskly through the stone walkway, unable to take in the beautiful rock that had been carved to perfection. The floor was smooth and cold under my feet. The five of us came upon a quiet courtyard where ivy wound around the stone pillars and archways. Luna fell behind, lingering by the steps, but hurried to catch up with us. There would be time to explore more of the Colosseum later.
For a Jetsam, Dominic moved with a graceful speed. Even I had to lengthen my strides to keep up with him.
“We’re on our way to the arena to meet my boss,” he explained. “The Head of the Committee is very anxious to speak with you.”
When we reached a set of heavy doors, Dominic pulled a card from his pocket and swiped it through a square machine that was mounted on the wall. The screen blinked and with a click the doors swung open.
The sight that welcomed us was breath-taking. We faced the scoreboard and giant timer that read 1:00. Kreludor’s orange and purple flag and Mystery Island’s green and gold flag hung from the gray banister, a reminder that an actual match was about to begin just an hour ago. Rows upon rows of seats stretched to the left and right, all empty. Eight white banners with the colorful Altador Cup symbol were hanging in every corner to remind Neopians of good sportsmanship and unity.
I immediately realized that the long hallway we came through and the courtyard were located under the rocky risers. The length of the hall should’ve been an indication to how big the Colosseum actually was.
“Wow,” was all I could say. To be standing in the Colosseum, where millions of fans had stood before, to imagine the electrifying excitement of a live game, to cheer for your favorite team... all which began right here, on these steps. The grandeur and majesty of the Colosseum surpassed my expectations.
“It’s actually smaller than I thought,” said Luna, “but I’m impressed with the design. How the architects managed to maintain the circular shape and construct enough seats is amazing.”
Leave it to Luna to ruin my moment.
Dominic Fletcher laughed. “It’s true -- NeoVision makes the arena appear larger than it actually is. There are only two-thousand-nine-hundred-and-fifty seats in total.” He glanced down into the playing field, where a Darigan Skeith had appeared from the stone door. “And now if you’ll come this way, the Head of the Altador Cup Committee is waiting for us.”
The four of us anxiously followed Dominic across the stone risers. When we made a left and came to another door, Dominic swiped his card again and we began down the steps.
“Marlo!” Damien whispered. The royal Aisha tugged on my arm like a five-year-old. “This is where the players enter!”
I grinned, unable to contain my glee. To think that Dasher Soley and Krawk Island had waited in this very spot to enter the arena made my stomach feel jittery. And regular Neopians didn’t have access to this, which made the experience fifty times better.
Dominic swiped his card yet again and the central door opened, leading us into the middle of the arena.
“Look how big everything seems from here,” Luna pointed out. The risers now appeared mountainous, like giants staring down at us. “Imagine the pressure to please thousands of fans.”
The gray walls surrounding us were twice my height. The white lines that had been painted around the arena were as thick as my paws. One cut through the center of the field and encircled a gray opening in the middle. I knew perfectly what that was for – the Yooyu launch to signal the start of a round. The goalposts were on either side of us, Kreludor to our left and Mystery Island to our right.
As much as I wanted to stay and gawk, Dominic was on the move again and that was our cue to play baby ducklings.
He led us to the Darigan Skeith in the center of the arena, who was wearing an identical blazer.
“Detectives,” he said. “My name is Jasper Curry. On behalf of the Altador Cup Committee, welcome, and thank you for being here.”
We exchanged formalities and introduced ourselves.
“I don’t know how much Dom has told you,” Jasper began, “but I’ll start at the beginning.
“We have always strived for excellence in the planning and organization of each Cup season, and this was no exception.” The large Skeith clasped his scaly hands together. “It was minutes before the starting match when Trent discovered the Yooyus missing. Ruby had been working with the Yooyus previously -- a pre-game health check -- and sometime between her exit and Trent’s arrival, the Yooyus were gone. All of this in less than two minutes!” Jasper paused and cleared his throat. “Although this incident was orchestrated very intelligently... to put it bluntly, it’s an embarrassment.”
Luna smiled gently. “We understand, and we’d like to begin right away.”
“Perfect,” Jasper declared, clasping his hands together. “Where can I take you?”
“We’d like to see where the Yooyus are stored before the game,” I said, pulling myself together.
Jasper nodded. “Certainly. Right this way.”
He led us back to the room from which we entered and then to a door on the left. As it swung open with a click, I had a feeling that those white, plastic cards were used to access every private room in the Colosseum.
We descended farther into the ground and scanned the area. There was a control panel with buttons and switches. A yellow claw hung limply over a small enclosure. Gears and pulleys decorated the walls, along with three stone pillars for support.
“This is the Yooyu pen,” said Jasper Curry, laying a scaly hand on the structure. “Over there is the machine used to lift the Yooyus from the enclosure and onto that stand.” He pointed to a red, circular platform where the Yooyus would sit, waiting to be launched into the arena. Jasper turned to us, reaching into his pocket. “I’m sure you’d like some time to explore the Colosseum. “These cards will allow you to enter any room in the building.”
“Great,” said Damien, and he pocketed them.
“Two rooms have also been provided for you,” Dominic added, pulling two sets of keys from his pocket. “They are located at the Morning Glory Inn, just across the street.”
Luna accepted them. “Thank you.”
“As Head of the Altador Cup Committee, I would greatly appreciate frequent reports about your findings. Please let us know if you need anything else,” said Jasper, and with a nod, he and the starry Jetsam exited up the wooden steps.
We appreciated their space. It was hard to solve a case with the client breathing down your neck. Once the metal door slid closed, I wheeled around to face Damien and Luna.
“Who else thinks there were two Neopians involved?”
Damien raised his blue paw. “Definitely. I highly doubt one person could be capable of removing seven Yooyus from their enclosure and somehow mysteriously transporting them from the room in under two minutes.”
“However many were involved, there are more pressing matters to deal with,” said Luna. “For instance, does anyone honestly think the Yooyus were hauled up the stairs and out that metal door?”
“No way,” Charlie declared. The pea Chia had been ordinarily quiet atop my head, waiting for the right moment to prove a point. “That door faces several rows of Neopians. It would be impossible for a person to exit carrying seven Yooyus without anyone noticing. And the stands would’ve been packed, too, since this happened right before the match began.”
I eyeballed the room from ceiling to floor. “So there must be another way out.”
Luna shrugged. “Let’s start looking.”
There were no visible openings on the two walls that faced towards the staircase, but the other two walls had shelves that held cans of petpet food and boxes of spare equipment. Charlie and I started at one end and Damien and Luna at the other; we removed box after box, checking for any suspicious crevice.
And after a few minutes -- “Here,” said Damien. The royal Aisha was on his hands and knees at one of the lowest shelves. He had pulled four petpet food cans onto the floor and was gripping a small, gray handle. Luna, Charlie, and I crouched to see what he was looking at.
It was a metal shoot that angled downwards. The opening was about a foot in length and width, a perfect size for Yooyus.
Luna pulled a small flashlight from her Faerie Back Pack and turned it on. A beam of yellowy light illuminated the chute, showing that it continued for as far down as we could see.
The shadow Yurble clicked off the light and turned to us. “Guess we know where the Yooyus went.”
Damien stood and brushed the dust from his knees. “Come on,” the Aisha exclaimed, “we have to find out where that leads!”
To be continued...