|Release date:||November 26th, 2015|
Syde returns from a trip to Sunset Valley about the ILS5 case. The team follows on the lead, which leads to Syde and Dan going on a wild goose chase around the city.
The sun rose from behind the mountains to light Sims Wikiton. The birds were chirping, Elders were sitting in park benches feeding bread to these creatures, and a couple housewives jogged together by the river. The weekend was over; and Monday brought people back to work, to the dismay of many. In the Sims Wikiton Police Department, however, spirits were high.
“Guys, guys, guys! I bring good news”, Syde said as he waltzed into the main office. “I knew that trip was not in vain!”
“What is it?” Liron asked. “Something new regarding the ILS5 case?”
“Yeah. My friends who live westwards in Sunset Valley also had some run ins with the suspect. Apparently, one of their associates will be in the Magnolia Blossom Park to meet a sockpuppeteer.”
“Isn’t that park in Willow Creek?”, Dan asked. “Technically, it’s outside of our jurisdiction.”
“We’re in the same state”, Kay replied. “Since we are technically a special task force, even though we’re connected to the local police department, we were given special permissions by the Governor to operate throughout the entire state. So, if required, we can work in Willow Creek and in Twinbrook.”
“Syde, when is this meeting taking place?” Liron inquired.
“The associate will supposedly arrive at the park around 10.”
“Well, it’s, uh, let’s see…” Liron looked at his watch. “...it’s a quarter past eight. We need to leave now if we want to get there and set things up.”
The day was as beautiful in Willow Creek as it was in Sims Wikiton. The park was full of people, something quite odd for a Monday morning, with children from the local school taking a field trip to gather collectibles. Some were catching frogs while others smelled the flowers.
“This is quite the busy day here”, Liron thought. “With all these people here, creating an ambush may be hard.” He then turned to the team. “Kay, I want you in that roof watching over the deal. Take this sniper rifle. Syde, Delta, stay hidden behind those bushes. Dan and I will take cover behind these trees.”
The crew waited quietly for the time. When 10 o’clock rolled around, the church bells sounding from far away, they watched carefully. Two men met in a small glade, surrounded by the law enforcement personnel. One was wearing a black hoodie, while the other wore a brown leather jacket.
“Okay, the associate is the one wearing the leather jacket” Syde whispered to the team via their radio communicators.
“Roger that”, Kay replied. He loaded a few rounds of tranquilizer darts onto the weapon. “Remember, team”, Liron advised, “only go for it once the transaction is complete.”
The two men exchanged a few words. The man in the leather jacket handed the other man a briefcase. Then, the sockpuppeteer gave the associate a medium-sized dufflebag.
“Now, Kay, take the shot.”
“On, it boss!” Kay held his breath to stabilize the weapon. However, when he fired the trigger, the dart didn’t hit its intended target.
“Oh no! It’s the cops! Run for it!”, the associate shouted.
The two men started running in opposite directions. Delta and Syde ran after the man in the leather jacket, while Dan and Liron chased the man wearing the hoodie. The associate let go of the dufflebag and darted through the middle of the park, heading towards the playground, where some children were playing.
“Delta, watch out for the kids!”, Syde shouted. However, the robot crash-landed on the fake pirate ship. The man ran to the road, being followed by the young cadet. A few yards down the road, a black van stopped by the criminal, who promptly hopped in and got away.
Meanwhile, the sockpuppeteer ran away from the road, through the trees. Dan and Liron chased him closely, with the pursuit ending shortly after the man in the hoodie being surrounded when he ended up in a fishing spot, stuck between the police officers and the river. As Liron aimed his gun at the perp, Dan handcuffed him.
On the other side of the park, Delta finally managed to get back on its feet, assisted by Syde, when they heard a thud by the roof Kay was on.
“Huh? What was that?”, Syde wondered. He and the robot walked towards the direction of the sound, where they found Kay lying on the floor, with a few bruises and a bump on his head. He held tightly a sock with his right hand.
Back in Sims Wikiton, Kay was in the lab, being examined by Ben and a young woman. She had brown eyes, short brown hair in a pixie cut, and was about average height. She looked carefully at the bump in Kay’s head through her black glasses.
“How am I, Hannah?”, he asked.
“Oh, Kay, you just got roughed up a bit. You’ve been through worse.”
“By the way”, he continued, “how was your trip to the National Forensics Convention they had in SimCity? I hope you were a good representant of our team there!”
“It went great, don’t worry. Your buddies from Wikipediopolis asked about you. I told them you were adjusting fine to the new team.”
“I’ve been here for a while now”, he wondered. “When did I arrive? It probably was just a little over a year now. Back when Liron was doing that undercover work with that family.”
“Sorry to interrupt the chat, folks”, Ben said as he walked away from his workstation, “but I finished examining what jumped you up on that roof.”
“A sockpuppet, right?” Kay asked. Ben nodded in agreement. “Those things are nasty. I remember encountering them when I was working in the Wikipediopolis, but they were always manipulated by someone. This one just felt… alive.”
“Hmm, we’d better be cautious regarding this. I’ll warn Liron.”
Meanwhile, in the interrogation room, Dan and Liron sat in front of the sockpuppeteer.
“What?” Liron mumbled, as Kay spoke to him from the observation room. “Okay, I got it.” He then turned to the criminal. “Listen, punk, we saw you doing that deal in the park. Our team is going through your stuff, not to mention that we found a sockpuppet at the scene.” He then took out his phone and showed the suspect a photo. “This one jumped on one of our agents. You’ll be in for a long time, buddy, unless you want to help us.”
“I have never seen that before”, the sockpuppeteer replied. “Fine, I smuggled those sockpuppets, but I don’t know how to work with them. That guy I met wasn’t even the person I wasn’t supposed to encounter.”
“Was it this person?” Dan took out a photo of ILS5 from the folder he had on the table.
“Yeah. Then this guy says he was a subordinate and that he would be doing the purchase. I don’t know where he could have gone, but…”
“...I managed to see the license plate from that van that picked up ILS5’s associate”, Syde exclaimed, in the lab. He typed some things into the computer. “Let me run a check on the database.”
“ILS5 isn’t usually that careless to have the license plates on the vehicles”, Kay said. “We should be cautious.”
“But we don’t have much in terms of clues”, Syde replied. “You said that the dufflebag only had those sockpuppets inside. The money we found on the sockpuppeteer was dirty money. This plate is our only chance at succeeding.”
“The computer has finished looking through the database”, Ben announced. “It belongs to an auto rentals shop, by the Sims Wikiton International Airport.
“Then that’s where we’ll be going. Are the others done with the sockpuppeteer?” Syde asked.
“Yeah, we are”, Liron said, as he and Dan walked into the room. “You, Dan and Kay can go check it out. I have to file some paperwork that cannot wait.”
As Dan, Syde and Kay walked out of the precinct, the latter took his hand to his head. “Are you okay?” Dan asked.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” Kay smiled at his teammates.
“I’d say it’s best for you to stay here. Go home and rest your head for a bit. Syde and I can manage this.”
Dan and Syde walked into the auto rentals place. As they approached the counter, a man promptly came to assist them.
“Good afternoon, officers. How may I be of help?”
“Have you rented a black van recently?”, Syde asked. “One of our suspects was in this van, and we checked the license plate. It came from here.”
“As a matter of fact, yes, I did. We only have one of those vans, so it’s not hard to me to remember.” The clerk typed on his computer. “Ah, here we go. I rented that van to a Travis Smith.”
Back in the squad car, Dan looked up Travis Smith on his laptop.
“Hmm”, Dan muttered. “That’s odd.”
“What is it?”
“Someone stole this guy’s identity. They were using his credit card. The rental place probably didn’t rent cars with cash.”
“Any more clues as to where our suspects are?”
“This credit card statement says that whoever is using this guy’s identity is staying at a motel by the highway.”
“Let’s look into that, then.”
Dan and Syde knocked on a door.
“Police! Open up!”, Dan shouted. Nobody answered.
“Look!” Syde said, as he peeked through an open window. “There’s nobody here.”
“That’s weird”, Dan thought, “ILS5 is usually more careful at covering tracks. And why keep a window open? It’s like they wanted us to find this.”
Syde opened the door. It was unlocked. The room was a generic motel suite: it had a double size bed, two nightstands, a television, a dining table with chairs and a dresser. On top of that last one was a bag, a map of the city and a couple photos of a warehouse.
“Look. There’s something marked here on the map, in the industrial area.” Syde declared. He opened the bag. “There are more sockpuppets here. Something’s going to happen in this warehouse.”
Liron had finished taking care of the paperwork when Hannah walked into his office.
“Did you find something else in the sockpuppets, Hannah?”
“No, I’m not here because of that.” She handed Liron an envelope. “The receptionist saw this on the floor. It had your name, so she asked me to give it to you.”
“That’s odd, I wasn’t expecting any mail - specially without a sender on the envelope. Anyway, thanks for giving me this.”
“No problem, boss.”
Hannah smiled at Liron and walked out. He opened the package and took out a photograph.
“What?”, he thought. It was a picture of Kay, Dan and Syde speaking to each other at the entrance of the police station. “Kay has his head bruised. This was taken today.” He turned the photo around. On the back side, it said ‘ANOTHER ONE CLOSE TO YOU IS NEXT.’ Liron sat up and hurriedly walked out.
“We shouldn’t go to the warehouse, at least not now”, Dan said in the car. “I have a bad feeling about this, like we were being set up.”
“But this is our only chance! We need eyes and ears on that warehouse!”
“We might, but it can’t be now. Tonight’s the annual police barbecue and we’ll be short on staff - everybody loves it when that Australian guy is manning the grill. We’ll deal with this in the morning, okay?”
Liron called Ben on his phone.
“Ben, I need to know where Kay, Dan and Syde are. It’s urgent!”
“Kay said he was going home to rest his head a while ago. He’s probably still there. Is something wrong?”
“I can’t talk now. We’ll speak about this later.”
Liron quickly drove to Kay’s house and rang the doorbell. Kay opened the door.
“Oh, hey Liron. I was getting ready for the barbecue.” He then pointed to his forehead. “Do you think people will notice there’s makeup here? I didn’t want people looking at the bruises.”
“You look fine. Come with me. I need you at the police station.”
“Go get ready for the barbecue, Syde”, Dan advised, as he parked his squad car by the police station. “We’ll deal with this tomorrow.”
“Okay, fine”, Syde said, as he got in his car and drove away. Syde drove across the bridge that led away from downtown, but instead of going left at an intersection, he went right.
“Let’s see what’s happening at this warehouse”, he thought, while he glanced at the map he found at the hotel room.
“Stay here, Kay.” Liron walked into the lab, only to see Dan and Ben playing table tennis.
“Ben, why didn’t you tell me Dan was here? Also, where did this table come from?!”
“I texted you a while ago.”
Liron checked his phone. His phone would sometimes not receive some text messages, or they would show up late. Anyway, the text was there, with a notification icon proudly showing on the screen.
“Dan, where did Syde go?”
“I told him to go home, but I’m afraid he may be somewhere else…”
Syde opened entered the warehouse through the back door. It was a large building, with several shipping containers. He saw a ladder leading to a catwalk up above. He promptly climbed it.
“He should be here by now.” Syde recognised that voice as the associate’s.
Syde reached the catwalk and took out his phone, opened the camera app and tapped the record button. Down there, in an area without any shipping containers, ILS5 and the associate were waiting for someone else.
“Have you brought the stuff?”, a shadowy figure with a deep voice asked.
“Not all of it is here, but we can make an arrangement”, ILS5 replied.
“Syde’s in danger. We need to get to him before something bad happens.” Liron pressed hard on the gas pedal.
“Are you sure Kay’s safe in the barbecue?”
“It’s a staff-only party. No criminals would dare to try to kill someone where there are tens of police officers. Besides, these clues - the license plate, the motel room - someone left these clues deliberately so that someone would go to the warehouse. He took advantage of Syde’s eagerness to lure him there.”
“‘He?’ Do you know who’s behind this, Liron?”
“It’s the Llama. I have some history with him.”
The shadowy figure emerged from the shadows of the dimly-lit warehouse. It was a tall man in a yellow llama costume.
“How come you don’t have all of it?”, the Llama asked.
“The cops jumped up on us!”, the associate replied, angrily. “They ambushed that deal in Willow Creek!”
“You’re… useless then.” The Llama pulled out a pistol and promptly shot the other two criminals. As he walked away, Syde pressed the stop button on his phone and started climbing down the ladder from the catwalk. Right after he reached the floor, a furry yellow hand grabs him and shoves a sockpuppet in Syde’s mouth, suffocating him. Then, the Llama grabbed the cadet’s phone and crushed it with his foot, leaving the warehouse afterwards.
Five minutes later, Liron, Dan and Delta enter the warehouse, only to find three corpses and a shattered phone on the floor.