Vanessa was frozen in fear as the person in the reaper-like cloak marched towards her and Carly, with a loaded shotgun pointed at them. Carly had her back turned, still looking at the gravestone, and wasn't exactly cognizant of what was transpiring behind her.
"What is it?" Carly asked, looking up.
Vanessa grabbed her partner by the shoulders and turned around. Only then did she realize the imminent danger the two of them were in. Vanessa shook her head, then spoke to the gravekeeper directly.
"Mind if I ask you a serious question?"
He sighed, then turned to walk away. But not before motioning Vanessa to follow him.
"Follow me. I'll tell you anything you need to know once we get out of the grave area. You know, don't disturb the dead and all..."
("This might be the breakthrough we've been waiting for!")
Doofy and Doofus
Story Written by Freedom Fighter
Gonna roll right into it...
Disclaimer: The characters of 'Phineas and Ferb' belong to Disney.
Chapter Six - The Successful Bust (11.04.10)
Vanessa and Carly, who had managed to pick herself up off the ground after about a minute, followed the gravekeeper to his on-site office, which was a one-room house that was part-office, part-kitchen, and part-bedroom. But it also looked like it hadn't been cleaned in awhile, given the cobwebs, dust bunnies, scattered bits of trash, and all sorts of insects wandering around.
"So, Mister... uh..."
"Yeah... Mister Grum. What can you tell us about Nancy Spangler?"
Carly stood up and looked at Vanessa, who looked back at her. The two then turned towards Mr. Grum.
"Nothing?" they both repeated.
"Well, nothing from me, anyway. On the other hand..."
He spun around and rolled his chair over to a nearby file cabinet. He opened the lower of the two drawers and searched through it for about a minute. He eventually pulled out a labeled '2010, So-Sz' and then made his way back to the desk with it in hand. He put it down on the desk.
Vanessa opened the folder and started to leaf through it, as Carly looked on from over her left shoulder.
"A folder full of death certificates?"
Carly gasped. "You can get certified for dying?"
Before Vanessa could come up with a smart-aleck retort, she found Nancy Spangler's death certificate. She pulled it out, closed the folder, then held up it so she and her partner could get a better look.
"It says she died because she ate something poisonous."
"Yeah," Mr. Grum told them. "Tragic. Never met the young woman before her body was brought here... then again, everyone brought here is dead to begin with..."
Carly started to head for the door.
"Well, I guess it's time to take our search elsewhere! Let's get out of this creepy crypt!"
"Wait!" Vanessa hold her hand up. "At this rate, we'll always be one step behind in this case! We need to get one step AHEAD!"
Vanessa then asked Mr. Grum an out-of-the-blue question.
"Were you present at the burial ceremony?"
Mr. Grum scratched his chin, as he tried to remember.
"Oh, yes! Five days ago!"
She then added a follow-up question.
"Was anyone there wearing anything that showed that they had a connection to Eastern Tennessee State University?"
"Now that you mention it..." Mr. Grum thought aloud, "there was this one young woman. Probably a couple years older than you two. She was wearing a cheerleading uniform..."
"I knew it!" Vanessa jumped out of her seat. "Carly, I think I've solved this case!"
"We have?" Carly glanced over, confused.
Vanessa reached over to shake Mr. Grum's hand.
"Thanks very much, you've been a lot of help!"
She then raced to the door, past Carly, and opened it.
"C'mon, Carly! We're heading back to Knoxville!"
The two exited the house, with Carly shutting the door behind her.
But before returning to Knoxville, Vanessa actually had one other stop in mind in Nags Head...
Nancy's ocean-side apartment.
"I thought we were going back to Knoxville," Carly said aloud as Vanessa searched the apartment's living room. "What are we doing here in that dead woman's apartment?"
"Looking for one last piece of evidence to put it all together."
Vanessa pulled out a mini-camera and started taking pictures of the room, in what looked random but was actually calculated. One of the snapshots she took turned out to be a 8-by-10 photograph of Nancy from a couple years ago, with her posing with the ETSU cheerleading squad, including Veronica to her immediate right and Rachael to her left.
Still stumped as to what clue they could find in that apartment, Carly feigned interest as she wandered into the kitchen. There, she found something a little off. She was standing in front of the microwave, and it was in the midst of a countdown. One that was at 17 seconds... 16... 15...
As if to make sure, and dangerously tempting fate in the process, she pressed the button that opened the microwave door. It slowly swung open to reveal that the inside... was about two pounds of C-4.
Another glance at the timer. 11... 10... 9...
Carly ran for the balcony sliding door while reaching into her pocket to pull out a gadget. She pulled out a three-inch sky blue-colored round object, which she threw hard enough to somehow shatter the door and fly past the balcony railing and down to the beach below.
That got Vanessa's attention.
"Carly! What the heck?"
With no time to explain, Carly forcefully grabbed Vanessa by the arm and pulled her towards the balcony.
Carly hopped up onto the railing and dived forward, and Vanessa did the same, without hesitation, even as she held her camera in the other hand. The two were barely clear of the fifth-floor apartment when the C-4 bomb went off, engulfing it in a fireball of flames. Ahead of the girls, the round gadget Carly had tossed out had expanded into a fluffy three-foot tall mattress-like landing pad. Both girls landed safely on it, on their backs, as they swore they saw their lives flashing before their eyes.
"Did..." Vanessa wondered as she sat up straight, "did that just happen?"
The building's fire alarm was going off as Vanessa and Carly looked up and saw flames coming from Nancy's former apartment. They then saw lights come on throughout the rest of the building, and the sound of scared and disgruntled residents starting to make their way out.
"Wow," Vanessa glanced over at her partner, "you... you saved my life!"
"Of course!" Carly explained. "That's what partners do. We look out for each other!"
The two girls shared a hug as they continued to sit atop the tall air mattress, even as more people started filtering out of the burning building.
"Maybe..." Vanessa said as she pulled away, "we should finish this later. You know... fire behind us?"
"Oh, yeah," Carly chuckled. "A good girl's work is never done!"
After helping evacuate people from the building and waiting for the fire department to arrive to put out the fire, Vanessa and Carly finally found themselves back on JAILBAIT's private jet, bound for Knoxville.
"So... you're absolutely sure?" Carly asked in the passenger cabin.
"Positive," confirmed Vanessa. "And I know just how to catch them red-handed!"
It was just before midnight inside the building that housed the athletic department's offices. Normally, those floors would be vacant at this time of night. But it wasn't this time, as Coach Jenkins was still up, standing in his office. Propped up next to his desk was a large cardboard check 'worth' more than 10 thousand dollars, made out to the school's basketball program.
Suddenly, he leaned back in his chair and stretched his arms as far as he could. He then yawned loudly before slowly rising to a standing position.
"Oh," he noted, turning to see the check still propped up. "Nah, it's safe... I'm sure it'll be there in the morning."
He exited his office, turning off the lights and locking the door behind him. He then made his way to the elevator, turning off the lights in the hallway leading to the office area as he exited.
Once the elevator doors closed and the car was on its way up, a female figure emerged from the shadows. She leisurely strolled her way from her hiding place over to the door into Coach Jenkins' office. She picked the lock, then ran inside and made her way to the check.
"Heh heh..." she chuckled, "and they say cheerleaders are dumb..."
"Hold it right there!"
The lights suddenly switched on, and Carly was standing in the doorway, with her arms crossed over her chest. With the room illuminated, she could see that Vanessa's suspicions were right, as standing before her was... Rachael.
"You're busted!" Carly said aloud. "I'm telling... I'm telling... well, I'm gonna tell someone, and you're gonna go away a long time for this!"
Rachael then took a good look at the check, and saw it had been issued from some place called 'The Not-So-Real Bank.' Rachael growled in anger.
"A FAKE check?"
"Yep! All totally my partner's idea!"
"You mean Vanessa? Heh... you two bitches are harder to get rid of than we thought."
"We?" Carly scratched her head.
Rachael smiled, waiting in anticipation for something to happen... but to her surprise, it never did.
The two girls then heard sounds of screaming, grunting, and someone getting pushed hard into a wall. Carly looked the down the hall, knowing whom was responsible for those noises.
It turned out that Rachael had a partner of her own, as Tomo was in the midst of a fight with Vanessa. The two were throwing a flurry of kicks and punches at each other, and they were doing well to dodge or deflect each one.
"Stand still, little girl!" Tomo yelled, going for a roundhouse kick.
Vanessa squatted down and went for a sweeping low kick.
"You did NOT just call me little, you short stack!" Vanessa fired back.
But Tomo was light on her feet, and hopped up just high enough on her pivot foot to avoid the sweep. Back in Coach Jenkins' office, Rachael began to panic as she heard the fighting outside and realized that Carly had trapped her.
"How..." Rachael asked. "how did you figure our scheme out?"
"Well," Carly loosened up, as she went into explanation mode, "there was a lot of stuff, like the..."
Carly didn't finish, as Rachael charged forward and elbowed Carly backwards and out of the doorway. The blonde-haired spy was knocked a few steps back, leaving Rachael enough room to get past and make a sprint for the front entrance.
Right around the corner...
"Anata no kao ni furaingu haru kikku!" Tomo exclaimed, calling out her next move in Japanese.
Tomo leaped forward, in a pseudo-praying mantis position as she did. She thought she had the upper hand as she flew towards Vanessa at a fast speed. Unfortunately, she didn't count on Vanessa responding with a counter move...
She leaned backwards, almost to the point where she was on all fours looking up at the ceiling, and she watched as Tomo's front leg passed over her, followed by the rest of the Japanese girl's body. Once she was almost completely past, Vanessa finished her lean back by turning it into a reverse hand-spring. In other words, she pushed her feet up off the ground, back towards her, and used her hands to help propel her legs into Tomo's back.
Tomo flew uncontrollably straight into a giant potted plant in the hallway. The clay pot itself shattered upon impact, and Tomo landed face-first on the carpet, the remnants of the plant and the soil feeding it spread out on and around her body.
Vanessa returned to a standing position and walked over, smiling as she brushed back her hair from over her left earlobe, where she revealed a blue-tooth earpiece with a mini-camera built in.
"Thanks for the assist!" Vanessa said aloud. "It pays to have someone skilled in translating Japanese and countering martial arts moves in the organization."
A dazed Tomo made an attempt to get up, but her body wouldn't allow it, and she fell back down, allowing Vanessa to smirk satisfactorily.
"Looks like more money for me!" Rachael shouted, running right by Vanessa before she could react.
Rachael was ecstatic as she had the front door and freedom in her grasp. But Carly appeared in front of her, out of nowhere, with a yellow hair dryer in hand. Carly fired something from it, a pink substance in ball format that launched at and hit Rachael right in the stomach. Upon contact, it popped as if it was blown-up bubble gum, which it partially was, and Rachael was knocked and stuck to the floor. Rachael tried mightily to break free, but the more she struggled, the stickier the substance got and the more resistance it put up.
After a few tries, she huffed angrily as she gave up. Carly giggled as she stood over her.
"Have you seen my gum?" Carly playfully asked. "Oh, wait... there it is! In your hair, on your arm, and on your butt!"
"Who... who are you girls?" Rachael growled, demanding an answer.
Vanessa appeared by Carly's side, and provided a response.
"Well, we could tell you... but then we'd have to kill you! And, trust me, that's a lot less prettier than the stripes you'll be wearing for the rest of your lives."
The next morning, after a good night's rest following a job well done, Vanessa checked in at JAILBAIT headquarters, where Jimmy and Carly were waiting for her.
"Ah, now that Vanessa's here, the debriefing can begin!"
Vanessa, dressed in her normal clothes, took a seat next to Carly, who had on a green strapless tank top, Capri pants, and sandals.
"Thanks to your great skills, ladies, we were able to book Rachael and her accomplice on embezzlement charges. Apparently, this had been going on since their freshman year, but they had managed to avoid suspicion by successfully pinning the blame on others. Mostly through blackmail."
"Stanley Ono was the first to find out," Vanessa explained, "He was roped in after Rachael uncovered the scandal about him personally playing athletes. To keep her quiet, Mr. Ono agreed to give them tips on taking money from the athletic department without getting caught."
"Naturally," Carly piped in, "she dumped him a couple months later by squealing about the pay-to-play scandal anyway. At the same time, Coach Jenkins got involved, albeit purely on accident upon walking in on one of Rachael's attempts in progress one late night at the office. She paid him off to keep him quiet, but that only held him quiet for a few weeks."
"When Rachael learned he was about to spoil her operation, she broke the news first and pinned all the blame on him. She had Nancy Spangler break the story, whom she knew because she was best friends with Veronica."
"But she quickly realized that was a mistake when they noted how nosy Nancy was. She actually came pretty close to uncovering the scheme herself, and Rachael was in a bind. She needed help."
"That's when she convinced Tomo to join in as an accomplice. Tomo planted some fake evidence to throw 'The Nose' off the trail. When Nancy graduated, the intrepid reporter decided to abandon the hunt, figuring on her own that they were more important things to do with her life."
"Rachael and Tomo continued their scheme almost a full two years without drawing any further suspicion to their embezzlement ring. But when the school's athletic department got serious about reopening their investigation with help from the local law enforcement..."
"They decided that needed to get rid of anyone who had even the smallest bit of knowledge about their scheme. Thus, the attempts on the lives of Coach Jenkins and Mr. Ono, and the successful one on Miss Spangler."
"Vanessa didn't pin Rachael as the head of the scheme until she saw both Nancy's death certificate and the photo of Nancy with the cheer squad at her apartment."
"It turned out that, on an unrelated note, despite never being with the cheerleading squad, Nancy played an integral role in helping Veronica get elected captain this year, instead of Rachael, who believed the position was rightfully hers. It turns out Veronica didn't join until her sophomore year... the same year she met Nancy."
"So out of jealousy, instead of killing Veronica herself, she wanted to see her suffer for the rest of her life... by killing Veronica's best friend instead. The fact that Nancy also knew about the embezzlement scheme just provided an extra reason for her to be offed."
"The strange thing in all of this," Vanessa admitted, "is that Veronica didn't know anything more about the whole thing than any other average person at the university. She only knew what Nancy had printed in the paper. It's like, in a strange way, maybe Nancy knew she would be offed for knowing too much, and was trying to protect Veronica from meeting the same fate by not telling her anything."
"Speaking of Veronica," Carly thought aloud, "she seemed pretty distraught of the whole thing. And she didn't seem too happy with us."
"She'll get over it. As tough as she was on me, she's alright. She's got a bright future ahead of her."
"Just like we do as spies, Doofy?"
Vanessa smiled. "Just like us, Carly."
The two girls happily hugged each other, friends at last.
"Glad to see you two finally bonding," Jimmy said, "which is why it pains me to say this..."
Jimmy took a deep breath, and then came right out with it...
"Vanessa... we're letting you go!"
Vanessa gasped in shock, as expected, but the bigger reaction actually came from Carly, who jumped out of her seat in protest.
"WHAT? But... but why? She's a much, much, MUCH better spy than me!"
"While that may be true," Jimmy admitted, "I cannot ignore the fact that she nearly revealed our entire operation by carelessly compromising herself in the locker room."
"That wasn't even her fault! In fact, if that hadn't happened..."
Vanessa stood up and put a hand on Carly's shoulder, and the blonde was instantly silenced.
"It's okay," Vanessa told her. "Rules are rules. Besides..."
"I know, I know! You never wanted to be a spy to begin with! But..."
Vanessa put a finger over Carly's mouth, shushing her.
"Don't worry. I'm sure with a little training, you'll make a great spy."
Vanessa then handed over her spy uniform and the few gadgets she had been given. Carly fought back tears as she wrapped her arms around Vanessa in one last hug.
"I'm... I'm gonna miss you... Vanessa!"
Vanessa hugged back, upon hearing Carly call her by her actual name for the first time.
After a few seconds, the two broke their hug off, and Vanessa headed for the door. Two security officers had appeared during the embrace, and they were there to escort her out of the building. Once she was gone, Jimmy tapped Carly on the shoulder, and showed her a small white envelope.
"Vanessa wanted me to give this to you after she left," Jimmy told her. "She said it's for your eyes only."
Carly took the envelope, and then Jimmy walked out of the office. She then opened the unsealed envelope and pulled out the piece of paper inside. It was a letter from Vanessa.
I'm glad to have been your partner the past 48 hours. I hope you understand that Jimmy didn't fire me. I voluntarily quit. He let me after I convinced him that you have much more potential to be a great spy than I do. You're friendly, caring of others, and, as much as it kinda pains me to admit, have a great fashion sense. I'm sure, in time, you'll work out the rough edges.
I hope our paths cross again someday. Maybe then, we can swap good boyfriend stories. Ones that don't involve... you know. Your stuff.
"I'd like that, Vanessa," Carly said aloud. "I'd like that."
Ten minutes later, somewhere in the streets of downtown Danville...
"So, Dad..." Vanessa said cheerily as she talked on the phone, "I believe I still owe you a father-daughter picnic."
"That's great!" she heard her father respond. "We've still got tons of potato salad! Is your new friend coming?"
"Sorry... but her family decided this town wasn't right for them. They moved away this morning," she lied.
"Oh well... more potato salad for us!"
"Dad!" Vanessa chuckled.
("And so, that was the week I spent as a spy. Though, technically, since I signed that confidential agreement, I should be saying that was the week I DIDN'T spend as a spy. Yeah, that's right! Forget you even heard me telling you this! In fact... how did all of you hear my thoughts all of this time? GET OUT OF MY HEAD!")
Whew! Nice to finally have a longer, more complete Vanessa under my belt. The good thing about being a minor character is that writers, like myself, are more free to play around with them. Something that would be harder to pull off with certain other characters, who are more set in stone... like Candace.
That being said, I'd like to say there may be a sequel/follow-up to this, which I had planned before this story started. Of course, I want to make sure there are people interested. So review or favorite the story, whatever, just let me know if you want to see another kick-butt Vanessa tale!