The Case of the Lying Letter: Part Four
Also by tambourine_chimp
From the case files of Kojak_Hommes, Lupe Private Eye
But the smile lasted about as long as the Snowager at
a bonfire and the Pteri was back to her old bitter self.
"Well, that's just great!" she muttered darkly
as she turned her back on me to face the throng of Neopets down by the Trading
Post. "All this time you've been saying that we're not to raise people's suspicion.
Now you want us to crawl around on our hands and knees, searching each
and every blue Kougra for a missing claw?"
"A missing left claw," I added weakly at the
angry bird's back.
"What was that, Kojak?"
"It's a left claw," I repeated softly as I padded
up beside her. "I found the claw on the left-hand side of the path, and the
Kougra's tracks indicated that he hadn't turned around at the time, so it's
a claw from one of his two lefts paws."
"Well, that makes it all the much easier." TigerWing
snapped, turning to me with glaring eyes. "What should we do now, go around
all the blue Kougra's, asking them if they'd kindly lift up their left paws?
So much for your so-called detective skills…"
I know, I know, I should've just walked away
and allowed us both time to calm down before things got out of hand. Thing is
that I didn't, and things did. TigerWing had insulted me major big-time,
and I am not one to be known for his patience or calm manner.
Growling, I swiped at the Pteri, grabbing both
her legs in one paw. She let out a small, frightened yelp as I turned her upside-down,
lifting her up until her beady little eyes were level with mine. As she struggled
vainly to fly out of my grip, I snarled at her in a state of anger I've never
felt before in my life.
"Now, you just listen to me, you little feathery
upstart!" I spat, my arm shaking as I bellowed at the helpless bird. "I've been
doing my darned hardest to help you and your sister out of this mess, and right
from the beginning you've been bugging the heck out of me! I'm not even getting
paid for this! But that doesn't mean I have to put up with you, so either
you start being helpful towards me, or stay the heck out of my way, got me?!"
As my arm was growing tired, and because I had
had just about enough of her, I threw TigerWing to the floor in disgust (a bit
too harsh, I'll admit now, but you know what an angry Lupe is like) and just
glared at her as she slowly rose to her feet.
What she said next caught me totally off-guard,
and sent me reeling back to reality.
"Al-alright!" she whimpered, her voice choked
with tears. "If you don't want to h-help me find my brother -"
"Now wait, I didn't say that," I began earnestly.
"Then I'll just have to go and f-find him myself!"
So saying, the sobbing Pteri took off towards the Trading Post, leaving behind
a confused Lupe and a stunned Wocky.
Turning desperately to Cali, I tried to reassert
my claims. "I never said I didn't want to help!" I exclaimed in disbelief at
the wide-eyed Neopet. "You believe me, don't you? I would never have come halfway
across the world if I didn't want to help, right?"
"TigerWing's…gone…" she muttered softly, more
to herself than me, I guessed.
"Huh? Yeah, she's gone…gone off to find your
brother because she feels that I no longer want to help."
"TigerWing is gone…because you threatened her."
"I didn't threaten her!" I snapped angrily, before
thinking back to the heated outburst I had said earlier. "Well, not exactly
"And you hurt her," Cali finished, her eyes changing
from disbelieving circles to angry slits. What was it with anger today? Was
it the new fashion?
"I didn't mean to, I got angry! You know what
us Lupes are like when we're angry! Look," I said, eager to change the subject
and cool things down for a while. "How about we wait around here, calm down
and wait for TigerWing to come back, so that we can all make our apologies and
get back to the business of finding your brother?"
"You still want to help?" Cali asked in cautious
"I never said I didn't!" I was becoming exasperated,
"Your brother's disappearance is a mystery, and solving mysteries is what I
do. It's my job, and I'm going to do it!"
"Oh," this seemed to bring Cali calmly back to
her senses, and she turned back to me with an anxious look in her eye. "Well,
I think it would be better to go and find her, don't you? I mean, I know what
she's like, she's used to having people come to her when she's in one
of her moods."
"I don't doubt that," I muttered under my breath,
but obviously I wasn't quiet enough because Cali glared at me momentarily. "I
mean, she does appear to be one of those people…er, by that I mean that she
definitely comes across as…um, let's just go and find her, okay?"
TigerWing ascended higher in the cloudy sky,
remembering her argument with Kojak. She was so busy thinking that she didn't
notice a group of Scorchios coming right for her. If they hadn't swerved there
would have been a nasty aerial collision.
"Watch where you're going!" one of the Scorchios
"Sorry," TigerWing mumbled, but she doubted they
heard her. She continued flying across the island, scanning everything for signs
of Wiseguy, or a blue Kougra. She passed about a thousand palm trees, the Island
Market, the Island Area and the Trading Post before her wings started to tire.
Perhaps we shouldn't have asked him to help
us in the first place… she mused, turning her thoughts to Kojak_hommes.
That Lupe was really angering her. Though she was worried about Cali. TigerWing
was starting to think that she shouldn't have left her sister.
Her wings were really tired now, so she lowered
to the ground under the shade of a palm tree. She leaned back against it, wondering
about Kojak and Cali, and of course, Wiseguy.
" ' The name's hommes, Kojak_hommes and I'm
a Private Investigator,'" Yes, those were Kojak's exact words, TigerWing
thought, Cali and I should have handled this case ourselves…
But it was Kojak who had discovered the ferry
ticket and the broken clock…. and the Kougra fur, and the left claw.
But he's still a show-off and a know-it-all,
she mused and thinking about the situation almost made her want to cry again.
She stood up and started to search, trying to take her mind off Wiseguy and
Kojak. TigerWing started along a sandy path, peering between bushes and trees.
But TigerWing didn't get very far, because someone
was calling her over. She couldn't see who it was; he (or she) was completely
hidden behind a clump of bushes and only his/her shadow could be seen.
TigerWing inched closer to the shadow and said,
"Umm, are you talking to me?"
"Of course I'm talking to you," the voice hissed
and TigerWing recognized it as a male one, "You're looking for your brother,
TigerWing nodded in amazement. How did this Neopet
know? "Yes, but how did you know who I was looking for?" The bushes shook a
little, as if the Neopet was moving out of them, and the shadow on the sand
"I know exactly where he is."
"You do?" TigerWing exclaimed. But she immediately
felt dumb after asking the question. How on earth could he know her, or Wiseguy?
And how did he know that Wiseguy had been kidnapped, let alone where he was?
The Neopet's feet were now poking through and
TigerWing stared down at them, trying to figure out what kind of Neopet she
was talking to:
Blue paws. That's all that was visible. TigerWing
tried to think of a few Neopets that had paws… an Eyrie? A Gelert? The bushes
shook once more and TigerWing caught a glimpse of two round ears and a pair
of yellow eyes.
An uneasy feeling swept over TigerWing and a
scared expression filled her eyes. It was a Kougra. Dreading what she might
see, TigerWing looked back down at the Neopet's feet and gulped: one of the
Kougra's black claws was missing… the same claw that Kojak had found.
TigerWing backed away and the blue Kougra sprang
from his hiding place. His fur was tangled as though it hadn't been groomed
in ages, and he had quite a few scars and scratches. His eyes had black rings
around them, as if he hadn't slept in days and his lip curled, revealing rows
of sharp teeth. He was definitely a wild Kougra, not one that you would see
frolicking on the beach with an owner.
Fear overcoming her, TigerWing wheeled around
and tried to make a hasty getaway but the Kougra seized her tail and dragged
her back to the ground with his rough paws.
"You're coming with me," he hissed, his yellow
eyes narrowed and his teeth barred, "and don't try anything funny…"
To be continued...