Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency Year Four:

Case File No. 05-161

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AMBER LOVE 15-JUNE-2020 Find out how all this began. Catch up on Year One, Year Two, and Year Three cases at the Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency. Thank you for all your financial and social support! Oliver and Gus are looking forward to bringing you more fascinating discoveries and investigations into the chipmunk mafia, the blue jay gang, the neighborhood critters, and cryptid sightings.

This work is supported by the generous backers who adore my cat stories at Patreon.com/amberunmasked and they also get first access to what’s happening with my books and podcast. For a one-time tip, you can go to the new PayPal.me.


Where We Left Off:

Oliver Winchester found some interesting details about Munka Kelly’s history after she engaged in battle with Gus.


Something for the Boys:

Earlier in the spring, the Grumpy Old Man inserted some kind of concoction in places around the grounds to keep the smaller rodents (mice, moles, shrews, and voles) away. I’m sure he’d be pleased without groundhogs too. Whatever this stuff was, he claimed wouldn’t be destructive to the soil. I noticed the height of the tunnels has flattened out. Whether that’s from less rodents or from the mower running them over, I’m not sure. However, one thing is certain — Gus still has plenty to stalk, chase, and hunt down.

Gus took a brief pause in Stripe Team Assault, the operation against the chipmunk mafia, to direct his attention to a spot in the dirt that looked like the earth had come alive. I think all of us have witnessed this before. If not, I’ve caught the activity on video. Do you know what the skin of a drum looks like when it’s thumping? That’s what the ground does. Gus notices from great distances.

 

The sun blazed overhead reflecting light off the shiny, lush grass making the Grumpy Old Man proud of his groundskeeping. Gus loves when he joins us on patrols. If he hears the GOM call his name, he’ll turn about and trot over to him for petting and his usual greeting, “How’s my buddy?”

 

The three of us were in the northeast corner of the open grounds near the edge of the Woodland neighborhood. Gus put his face close to the moving earth. Was it possibly an earth pig from the underworld fae realm? The detective clawed at the ground and pushed his nose into the soil as it became loose. His lethal claws caught something down below the surface. In no time at all, Gus yanked an adorable grey vole from its burrow. As it landed above ground, Gus quickly put his magnificent fangs to work and snatched the vole in his jaws. As is Gus’ hunting routine, he then pranced gleefully with fierce panther mojo.

Oh, the Grumpy Old Man was so pleased! I tried to hide my guilt. I wanted to do my usual routine which offsets Gus’ hunting and let him play for a while then set the creature free. Would the groundskeeper ever turn away long enough for me to pull this off?

Gus played with his prey. He released the vole long enough for it to run directly to me! It introduced itself, Vole Porter, and begged me to protect it. How could I say no? Twice, Vole Porter ran to my boots for safety. The hunt-catch-play routine moved us around the property until we were all the way over at Fort Winchester. The Grumpy Old Man supervised Gus for a while, but then finally, he left our patrol to go do whatever. It was my chance to help free the terrified critter.

“Human, don’t you dare take that perp. He might have information.” Gus was not going to make this easy. At least his growls were quieter than when he’s seriously angry.

“Gus, come on. He was a happy, portly vole minding his own business when you captured him.” I kept my eyes on the critter and tried to observe the body language of my partner to see his next move was.

“We’ve had a lot of trespassers. The underground network is one of the best resources for information when the birds won’t talk. I’m taking Mr. Porter to the fort for questioning.”

“Oh, Gus.” My shoulders dropped, but his response didn’t keep me from pulling out my work gloves and putting them on.

Vole Porter is a bard of the Woodland neighborhood. In that line of work, rumors and intel get passed around like the offering plate at church. Sometimes there was something outstanding in it, but most of the time you had to sift through nuggets and make it work the best way you can.

Gus outside

Gus laid down as if the vole was going to simply sit there with him like Slave Leia next to Jabba the Hut. The critter once again returned to me and I scooped him up in my dirty leather gloves.

“Look, man, I don’t know if it’s true, but I did hear something that might satisfy you. Would you let me go then?”

“Dude, I’m gonna let you go anyway. I can’t promise that Gus won’t immediately find you again though.” I cupped the round rodent in my gloves.

“That new beastly volkolak is planning to stick around. But the lycans aren’t happy about it. They just got settled in now that the young one was returned to its mother. The volkolak could start a war!”

This little rodent did have important information. Arkadi the volkolak seems content to roam around here looking for food and knocking over the occasional garbage can. The lycans though? We don’t ever witness them. We only know they’re here because of the evidence we found up on the mountain. Someone would have to intervene as a peacekeeper. It wouldn’t be Gus that’s for sure. Oliver Winchester was more diplomatic and handles strangers better than Gus.

“Damn. That’s going to be a problem if the lycans don’t give Arkadi some space. Thanks for the intel, Mr. Porter.” I leaned down and opened my hands right next to a burrow entrance. Gus was there to see if he could interfere and prohibit the release of the informant. He sneered at the quickly darkened hole in the ground as Vole Porter moved at top speed into the soily sanctuary of home.

 

Gus got over it in about two minutes. He turned away from the burrow and instantly began looking for a distraction. My partner ended up appreciating the opportunity to rest in the shade. As far as he was concerned, he did his job and made the elder human very happy. The fact that I released the perp back into the wild was going to be a secret and not brought up at our staff meeting.

Case Findings:

Vole Porter, an entertainer from the underworld realm, warned us that the werewolves up on the hills might not willing to share their territory with the new volkolak, Arkadi. Vole Porter was released with some emotional trauma but in good physical health. His report was filed into our database.

Case Status: Closed

vole porter

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