Quinn and The Quasars: Chapter Twelve (Finale)





Read from the Beginning: Chapter One
Read Previous Chapter: Chapter Eleven



“Before we can get to the death of Tigre Stripes, we need to go back in time to the confrontation between Mr Stripes and Quinn at the Meet and Greet on Cygni last year,” Roxy began. The schoolgirl was standing in the centre of the reception room with her best friends Duchess and Rina. The unconscious Mr Lee had been propped up on a couch whilst everyone else expect Ms Kim had quickly hurried to find a seat eager to hear the evidence the girls claimed to have.

The Tokkian woman was still standing uncomfortably in front of the desk where Junn was seated from where she looked angrily at her husband. When Ran had dragged him out of the room, she had assumed that the Niflheimer had beaten him up or killed him for his insolence but apart from the fact that he was unconscious, her husband seemed to be completely unharmed. Why he was unconscious however was another question.

“We know that Quinn threatened to kill Mr Tigre Stripes because he had stolen the Pearls of Mer, a priceless Varunian heirloom,” Duchess continued, “But what was not known at that time was that Mr Stripes had not stolen the pearls after all.”

“Hold on a minute,” Indigo interrupted, raising the glass tumbler she was holding in objection. “You don’t believe the pathetic lies Stripes told, do you? That he was in a relationship with Quinn and she gave him the pearls?”

“No, you damned drunkard,” Rina interrupted impatiently, still clutching the golden case. “Now if you just be quiet and get back to your drink, you’ll find out what we have to say.”

“Go on,” Indigo said, swivelling the ice around in her drink to seem as if she was deep in thought. She was too intoxicated to care about the insult from her former underclassman. There had still been no word from Indigo’s husband Eric but here she was trying to get an answer about Quinn’s innocence on a ridiculous murder charge, if Quinn had really wanted Tigre Stripes dead, she could have had him killed without anyone finding out. She was a first-tier princess after all.

“As Duchess was saying,” Roxy continued. “Although Stripes obviously lied about being in a relationship with Quinn and her having given him the pearls as some sort of love token, our investigation has revealed that Tigre Stripes did not actually steal the pearls himself. He brought them.”

This time it was Quinn’s mother Queen Varianna who interrupted, “Brought them? From whom?” The Queen demanded looking around. The theft of the Pearls of Mer was a mystery her people were still trying to unravel. Only the royal family had access to the priceless heirloom and yet somehow the pearls had been stolen.

“Mr Lee,” Duchess replied, gesturing towards the unconscious man.

“That’s a lie!” Ms Kim said, taking a step forward. “I knew you would try to pin this crime on us.”

“Silence!” Varianna ordered and Ms Kim immediately stopped speaking. There was a dangerous look in the Fish Queen’s eyes, everyone throughout the Alliance was aware of the Varunians’ vicious tempers. “Go on,” Varianna said turning back to the girls.

“Thank you, your majesty,” Duchess replied bowing to the Queen. “As I was saying it was Mr Lee who sold the Pearls of Mer to Tigre Stripes. According to Mr Lee’s confession which we have recorded here,” she said holding up her Com-D so that everyone could see it, “Mr Lee had a side business selling memorabilia to fans and admirers. Tigre Stripes was his best customer.”

“But that doesn’t make any sense,” Junn interrupted. “Only the royal family had access to the heirlooms, we even clean them ourselves with only the help of our personal servants. How could Mr Lee have stolen the Pearls of Mer when he’s never been to Varuna.”

“Hush ya mouth,” Rina said, “Who said he stole them?”

“Duchess?” Junn replied in an uncertain tone. “She said that Mr Lee had sold the Pearls to Stripes.”

Rina sighed, “But that doesn’t mean he stole them does it?” she asked looking Junn up and down unfavourably. “It was his wife.”

“Me?” Ms Kim asked incredulous, disregarding Varianna’s order for her to be silent. “I’m not a personal servant of any of the family and I don’t have access to the royal treasures. There’s simply no way I could have stolen anything,” she said smugly. “You know this is all awfully convenient. As I told his royal highness Prince Junn, Tigre Stripes turned up at the palace with an invitation from the princess. I then received a confirmation text from Princess Quinn ordering me to let her guest into the palace and to keep it to myself. This is all a plan to blame me for something the Princess has clearly done.”

“What did you just say?” Quinn asked, speaking for the first time since she had sat down. “I didn’t send you any message to let any guest in and I certainly did not invite Tigre Stripes to my home nor did I kill him.”

“That’s what she’s been claiming all the time, your highness.” Meri explained. “When her majesty and I came into the room that woman was saying that I was with her when she let Mr Stripes into the palace. I did see her with a man but I had no idea who it was, I swear on my honour.”

“We’ve digressed from the subject,” Aleister sighed. “Do you girls have any way to prove that this lady is the one who has been stealing from the Zanni family?” He asked hopefully. The message had come through to security headquarters that there was evidence at the Pearl Palace regarding Quinn’s innocence but so far, other than the confession he had yet to see, no evidence had been forthcoming.

The smile on Ms Kim’s lips grew deeper as if to imply that there was no possible way there could be any evidence, but the smile was wiped from her lips in the next instance when Rina said, “Yes, we have the evidence here in this case.” The girl walked over to the desk and set the golden case down on top of it. Then stepping to the side, she opened the case to reveal two Tokkian children inside. The children were tiny, small enough for each to fit in the palm of Rina’s hand when she carefully lifted them from the case. One was a boy and the other a girl and like most Tokkian children, they appeared to be twins.

“Oh my I-Am! What have you done to my children?” Mrs Kim asked stepping towards Rina.

“Caught them red handed,” Rina said setting the twins down on the table, so that they were not being held so high in the air. The two small children crept towards the case they had just been released from and tried to hide from the prying eyes of the onlookers.

“Just what the Duat is going on? Who and what are those?” Indigo asked, squinting at the children who were peeping out from behind the case.

“Those are Mr Lee and Ms Kim’s children,” Roxy explained. “When Junn kicked us out of here, telling us this wasn’t “one of our silly cases”, we decided to prove to him that we’re up to the task of solving anything. We already knew that Ms Kim had let Tigre Stripes into the palace because he was blackmailing her and her husband, but we didn’t know if she had killed him too.”

“Tigre Stripes wasn’t blackmailing us,” Ms Kim cut in. She was speaking to Roxy but her eyes were still on her children and she did not seem as confident as before.

“Yes, he was,” Roxy stated, and the look in her eyes sent a chill down Ms Kim’s spine. Roxy was a Bim, a member of the strongest warrior race in the Alliance. Her eyes were like those of a bird of prey focusing on its kill. Merciless. “Tigre Stripes was blackmailing you because after his little altercation with Quinn at the autograph signing, he realised that he had been tricked.”

“If you all had finished going through the files we left with you properly, you would have been able to read all of this in Stripes’ secret journal,” Rina said rolling her eyes and looking at Junn pointedly. “It’s all there…”

“Whether they read the files or not doesn’t matter anymore,” Roxy cut in. “The simple fact is that you got Tigre Stripes to buy your stolen merchandise by pretending to be Quinn. You made him believe that he was in a relationship with Quinn and that he was buying her belongings to help her secretly gather money to break off her engagement with Serpentine, so that she could run away with him.”

“Excuse me?!” Serpentine exclaimed incredulously.

The sound of Indigo choking on her drink was the only noise in the room for a full minute as an uncomfortable silence spread over the gathering. It was a widely known fact that Quinn and Serpentine’s betrothal was problematic but with her former sweetheart, Asgar sitting right in their midst, no one could say a word.

At last Rina broke the silence, “Mr Lee was even selling Quinn’s dutty briefs to Tigre Stripes for 500 zodiacs a piece and calling it merchandise.”

“Dutty briefs?” Indigo repeated with a laugh, “You mean her used knickers? What the actual Duat?”

“I don’t know why you’re laughing,” Rina cut in, looking at the drunken Indigo with distaste. “He was selling yours too, but yours only went for 250 zodiacs.”

“What?!” Indigo shouted, throwing her glass down with such force that it shattered on impact with the floor, “My underwear is worth more than that!”

“I can’t believe this,” Quinn said, covering her face with her hands. “I’ve never been so embarrassed in all my born days life. How could you and your husband do this to us after all we’ve done for you?” she asked, looking at Ms Kim.

“Done for us?” Ms Kim asked turning angrily on Quinn. “What have you ever done for me or my family? My husband told you that we had 14 children and we were struggling to put them through school on Cygni but instead of you rich girls taking the hint and paying their school fees, you offered me a position as a servant to your family.”

“Hold on a minute,” Kailani interrupted, her temper flaring for the first time, “Why should anyone but you and your husband, pay for your children to go to an expensive private school on a space station? If you can’t afford it, don’t send them there or don’t have so many.”

“Shut up, you unsuccessful succubus,” Ms Kim spat, “Don’t talk about me or my cultural traditions when you can’t even fulfil yours. You should pay for my children because you can’t be bothered to have any of your own, even your mother probably agrees. Anyway, haven’t you ever heard, “noblesse oblige”?

“Enough,” Varianna shouted and her voice had the tone of her cetacean like ancestors’ ancient, low frequency vocalisations. “Roxzamora, I want to know who killed Tigre Stripes and I want to know right now. When you’ve told us that you and your friends can then explain, without interruptions, how you worked it out.”

“Yes, your majesty,” Roxy said bowing to the queen. “I’m pleased to inform you that, Tigre Stripes killed himself.”

“That’s not possible,” Aleister said before the astonished Varianna had a chance to speak, “Tigre Stripes was poisoned by the Tears of the Abyss, from the bottle of Queen Maris. How did he manage to get his hands on the bottle without one of the members of the family giving him access to it?”

“Mrs Kim gave it to him,” Roxy said nonchalantly. “Tigre Stripes was blackmailing the Lee family. He had threatened to go to the security forces with what he knew of their illegal operations if Ms Kim didn’t let him into the palace. In his diary, Stripes mentioned how much he hated the Lee family for what they had done by making him believe that Quinn loved him. He was depressed about it and wanted revenge. Tigre Stripes told Ms Kim that he wanted to see the palace for himself and also that he wanted to buy Queen Maris’ bottle.”

“But how did he even know that bottle was here?” Quinn asked. “When I brought it here, I put it away until I could take it back to Varuna. None of the servants should have been aware that it was on the premises, that’s if they even knew it existed.”

Roxy looked at Duchess who smiled and took over the explanation, “Whilst Junn and the Quasars were speaking to Ms Kim earlier, she kept mentioning that she’s a Tokkian,” Duchess stated. “There was a listening device on the dossier we gave you,” she explained quickly before anyone could respond, “What Ms Kim was probably hoping they would forget is that she’s also part Moldwarpian and as you know Moldwarpians are inherently good at locksmithing. Ms Kim would pick the locks at the palaces both here and on Varuna and then send one of the children into the vaults to catalogue everything that was in there so that it could be sold later. If she or her husband found a buyer for something, she would get her child to go in and take the item out.”

“So that’s why you kept talking about your children,” Indigo said, giving Ms Kim a dirty look.

“I said, no interruptions!” Varianna snapped angrily. She was sorry for Indigo, trouble with her husband Eric had driven the poor young woman to drink but Varianna did not have time for Indigo’s drunken ways now. She simply wanted to get her daughter out of trouble.

“I’m sorry your majesty,” Indigo said, bowing clumsily.

Varianna nodded but did not say anything to Indigo, instead she turned her attention back to Duchess and motioned for her to continue.

“Those two are the Lee’s youngest children. As you can see they’re too small to go to school on Cygni so Mr Lee and his wife each kept one of them at all times instead,” Duchess explained. “That’s how Mr Lee was able to steal your underwear from the laundry before it could be washed.”

A murmur of understanding went through the crowd as the listeners realised how the theft of the underwear had gone unnoticed. If the tiny Tokkian child had been the thief then it made sense that the child had only been able to carry one garment at a time. If one item of clothing were lost in the wash, no one would notice. People had grown accustomed to losing things in the wash millennia ago. The only strange aspect was that no one had noticed the presence of either child and that was incredibly sinister.

“According to Mr Lee’s confession, a few months after Quinn had threatened to kill Tigre Stripes for being a thief, he contacted Mr Lee on his personal Com-D and demanded to meet face to face. That’s when the blackmail began. It wasn’t until a couple of months ago when the Quasars were on the homeward stretch of their tour that Tigre Stripes demanded to have a tour around the Pearl Palace,” Roxy continued from where Duchess had left off. “From what Mr Lee has told us, he and his wife had hoped to get the stalker in and out whilst Quinn was away and the family were on Varuna but Tigre Stripes insisted that he wanted to come on the last night that Quinn was on tour, which would have been last night and he added that he wanted to buy Queen Maris’ bottle which had been catalogued earlier for sale.”

“To cover their tracks, Mr Lee and Ms Kim thought up an idea of what they would say if Stripes was caught in the house,” Rina said, taking over from Roxy. “They decided to blame Quinn’s personal maids for the incident by slipping sleeping drugs into the Quasar’s food at the hotel. When Quinn and the others fell asleep, Mr Lee got little Eun-Yeong to steal Quinn’s Com-D and type out a message as if from Quinn when her mother called,” Rina explained.

The Flababian princess who was still standing next to the desk where the little children were hiding, turned to them and held out her hand as if waiting for something. In response the little girl crept out from behind the case where she was hiding and handed Rina a tiny piece of paper she had fished out of her pocket, “Here Rinnie,” the girl said shyly and then hurried back to her brother who was still hiding.

“This is the note Mr Lee dictated for his daughter to type,” Rina said showing it to Queen Varianna.

“We should get that into an evidence container,” Aleister said, pulling a small object out of his pocket and holding it out to Rina who walked over and dropped the tiny piece of paper into the container.

“Can I ask how you got Mr Lee to confess to all of this?” Scully Golgotha asked, interrupting for the first time since he had entered the room. “If you tortured Mr Lee in any way his defence team could argue that his confession was given under duress. Of course that’s not illegal in the Alliance but the idea is to get Quinn’s name completely cleared. We don’t want rumours that a couple from a lower ranked planet were forced to confess in order to save a Varunian princess. That could prove worse than the murder charge.”

“He simply confessed,” Roxy replied with some confusion. “Duchess and I were in the hallway when Ran dragged him out of the room and slung him on a chair. I asked him to come with us and he agreed. We took him to one of the other reception rooms where Rina was waiting with the children and when I asked him what had happened, he confessed immediately.”

“You must have threatened my husband or my children to get him to make a false confession,” Ms Kim cut in. It was the first time she had spoken in some time and she seemed to have taken the incentive from what Scully had said to begin constructing a defence for herself and her family.

“We didn’t threaten anyone, and the recording of the confession will prove that,” Roxy said with a hint of annoyance in her voice. “Duchess and I spoke to Mr Lee whilst Rina played with your children whom we had found when we searched your room here and his at the hotel.”

“That’s right,” Duchess said, following on without missing a beat. “When Junn rejected our offer of help we went upstairs to have a look at the crime scene, but we didn’t find anything interesting there, so we went to your room to see if we could find any clues about whether you had killed Stripes or not. Instead, we found Eun-Ho hiding there. As soon as we reassured him that he wasn’t in any trouble we asked where his twin was because we know most Tokkians are born in pairs. He told us that his sister was with his daddy so we went to the hotel, found Eun-yeong and brought her back here but just as Roxy and I were about to come to tell you what we’d discovered, Ran dragged Mr Lee out of the room as we’ve said before.”

“Ask the children if you don’t believe us,” Rina demanded stepping back so that Ms Kim could get closer to her children.

The Tokkian woman stepped forward carefully and looked down at her children who were still hiding behind the case, but she stepped backwards without asking them anything. Perhaps she realised that if she questioned them now and they confirmed Rina’s story, she would not be able to use it in her defence later. “I won’t terrify my children by questioning them in front of so many strangers, but I’m sure they’ll tell the truth when the time comes,” Ms Kim said stepping back.

“Fine,” Aleister sighed. “Now can you girls please explain why you believe that Tigre Stripes killed himself? You said that you had incontrovertible proof of Quinn’s innocence. Where is it?” he demanded.

On one hand Aleister was pleased that Quinn would be found innocent but on the other hand he was annoyed. He had only arrested his old school friend because his superior officer, Captain Sanctimonious Ulf had instructed him to do so, claiming that there would be a scandal if the princess was not arrested even though every bit of evidence pointed to her being the killer. Captain Ulf had sent Aleister off to arrest Quinn but no sooner had Aleister arrived back at the security headquarters with the princess in custody, than he had been told that the Captain had been called away to his home world on some urgent business. Aleister knew Ulf all too well, the man had an uncanny knack of getting himself out of trouble at the expense of others. Captain Ulf had done it before, and he would do it again but this time he had left Aleister to take the fall out. Perhaps if Aleister had been able to solve the mystery himself he could have salvaged his career but if these damned busybody schoolgirls could prove that he had arrested Quinn for murder when it was really a suicide, he would be ruined.

“Right here,” Roxy said sliding an evidence container out of a pocket in her blazer. Inside the container was an old-fashioned paper envelope. “The letter inside is addressed to Quinn from Tigre Stripes,” Roxy explained, handing the container to Aleister. “Eun-Ho also had that letter when we found him hiding in his mother’s room. He told us that she had asked him to search Stripes’ body after she found him dead in Quinn’s room.”

“You asked your child to search the corpse of someone who had died by Tears of The Abyss poisoning?” Varianna asked, looking at Kim Ji-Eun as if seeing the woman for the first time. “How could you subject your child to something so horrible or risk his life? The poison is deadly!”

“Because she’s evil,” Indigo replied, “Nasty-minded and evil.”

“Yes, thank you for that Indigo,” Aleister said with some impatience. He was holding the letter in his gloved hands and had taken a single sheet of folded paper out of the envelope. “Quinn, since this letter is for you would you like to read it first or shall I read it out.”

“Just read it out,” Quinn said immediately, “Tigre Stripes wasn’t even an acquaintance of mine so he had no right to a private correspondence with me.”

“Very well,” Aleister replied and with that he unfolded the letter and read.

To Her Royal Highness Princess Ula Quintilica, Pearl of Varuna, Foundation of the Sea,

Forgive me for the actions I must take and the impudence with which I must bother you one last time. Ever since the day when you corrected my most outrageous fantasy, that a woman of your beauty and stature could ever care for a haggard fiend such as myself, I have strived to discover who was behind the terrible deception that so blackened your mighty name as to link it with mine.

After months of searching, I discovered that the despicable cur was none other than your manager Lee Jae-Seong and I set out to build a case against him. I will refrain from wasting your time on my vulgar efforts, but it is sufficient to say that I was able to compile evidence of Lee Jae-Seong and his wife, Kim Ji-Eun using their two younger children to steal your belongings and those of your friends and family. Anything they could not sell directly to desperate fools such as myself, was sold through the black markets run by Dom Lodging to anyone who could afford to buy them.

Oh Radiant Mermaid of the Abyss, at least in death pardon my presumption in taking the liberty of spending what remained of my family fortune to procure as much of what they were selling as I could. I have entrusted everything I was able to salvage to my younger sister Nieves. You will find your belongings waiting for you at Stripes Hall, in Jangala, Duchy of Asia on Bubastis. They as well as my corpse will provide the best evidence of the foul betrayal that I could gather.

If my actions find any approval in your eyes, then please free yourself from the bounds that have been put on you to wed against your will. I wish for nothing but your freedom and happiness.

Ever your faithful and humble servant,

Tigre

For a moment, a silence fell over the room as they tried to come to terms with what they had heard. At last Kailani said, “Well that was nice of him.”

“Yes, nice but ultimately foolish. Why would he kill himself? Alive he might have had Quinn’s gratitude. Dead he can get nothing but a place in the valley,” Ran replied. “I fail to see the point of it.”

“He obviously wanted to link his name to Quinn’s forever.” Indigo explained, standing up and tottering over to Quinn. “Think about it,” she said patting Quinn on the head a little more roughly than she intended. “You’ll be thinking about him now all the time, won’t you? Thinking about how he died for your sake. He even used his family fortune for you and left your property with his sister. So being who you are, I’m sure you’ll take the girl under your wing. He wanted you, and he got you and all he had to do was die.”

“Alright, that’s enough Indigo,” Asgar said standing up and gently pulling Indigo away from Quinn, “You’ve obviously had a lot to drink. I’ll take you home. I’m sure Eric and Shelley can’t wait to see you.”

“Don’t be so sure about that,” Indigo mumbled under her breath.

“I’m glad that everything has worked out for the best,” Asgar said and seeing Varianna’s nod that he was dismissed, he quickly left with Indigo in tow.

Asgar’s departure marked the end of the meeting. That was it, mystery over. Tigre Stripes killed himself to reveal the Lee’s theft and betrayal. “There’s just one thing I want to know,” Aleister said unhappily as he prepared to have the Tokkian family teleported to the security headquarters “Why is the manager unconscious?”

Roxy, Rina and Duchess looked at each other and for a split second Aleister thought he saw a strange expression cross their lips but when he looked again, whatever he thought he had seen was gone. “He fainted,” Duchess explained with a shrug.

“Why the Duat should my husband faint?” Ms Kim snapped. She was tired and afraid. Even when she had found Tigre Stripes dead in Quinn’s room she had believed that perhaps she and her husband could get out of the mess if they just stuck to their plan. She had been about to destroy the incriminating letter when she was called downstairs. If only she had, had the time to get rid of it.

“Your husband fainted because he simply couldn’t take the screams of your children,” Rina said maliciously, glaring at the disgraced servant.

“What?” Ms Kim screamed straining against the restraints that had been placed on her. “What did you do to my children, you horrible girl?”

“I just played with them,” Rina said softly but her eyes were hard. “After so many years of being alone they couldn’t contain themselves. We had a great time didn’t we?” Rina asked looking at the twins who were still trying to hide behind the case.

“Yes, Rinnie,” came the small voices.

“See? It’s not my fault that your husband had an overactive imagination. He heard the children screaming and assumed the worse because he’s wicked and he judges others by his standards, just like you.” Rina said, looking at Ms Kim as if she was looking at a fly in her soup.

With that Aleister took his leave and teleported the criminals to the security headquarters. Scully Golgotha went along with him saying that he would make sure all the relevant paperwork for Quinn’s release was taken care of and deal with the press.

“Thanks for solving this case and getting my sister out of trouble,” Junn said, sucking up his pride and coming over to the girls he had dismissed earlier.

“That’s ok,” Roxy replied with an uncharacteristic smile, “It turns out this was just one of our silly little cases after all.”


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