Shadowed Abductor is the fictional second story in the third saga. It takes place about six months after the events of Psychic Detective and a year after the events of Unwound Future, which would make Luke around 13 or 14 years old.
"I don't understand this," I said, staring through my glasses at an invitation that had arrived in the mail.
"I beg your pardon?" asked Hershel.
"Someone invited us to the grand opening of some art gallery," I said handing the letter to him. "Since when are we important people?"
After reading it, he said, "There's plenty of probable answers for that."
"I just didn't think we'd be that noticed. At least, not me, anyway."
"Well, would you like to attend?"
"Sure, but can Luke come?" I asked. "It's been a while."
"It certainly has. Of course he can come."
It was what you'd expect when you hear the words "grand opening of an art gallery." Also known as a place for snobby rich people to admire art and drink free wine.
"Do you recognize anyone?" Hershel asked, scanning the room for a glimpse of a familiar face.
I poured myself a glass of red wine, as Luke walked through the door. I assumed his parents dropped him off, but I didn't see them anywhere. He looked a bit older, but I knew it was Luke. He just had that look about him.
I was so excited that I nearly spilled wine on my dress.
Not one sip and I'm already acting like I'm drunk, I thought.
"Brittney! It's good to see you again. You too, professor," he greeted.
My brain didn't register his last words, for I had noticed someone wandering about the gala, who looked like they were up to no good.
"Brittney," Luke said, tapping me on my shoulder.
"Oh, sorry. I just saw someone that might be up to something. It's probably nothing."
Hershel turned to Luke, whispered something to him, and Luke went off to who knows where.
"Brittney, there's something I've been meaning to ask you," Hershel started.
At a time like this, peripheral vision sucks, because the party crasher caught my eye again.
"Now's not the best time, Hershel," I said, and I went to follow the man, or was it a woman? They were dressed in some kind of military uniform, but it was so dark in the room that I had to guess their gender.
They led me out to the moonlit parking lot, where I lost them.
"Damn," I mumbled.
I stood in silence, and heard a faint sound. Was it someone's breathing? Or something else? I had the creepiest feeling as if, someone, or something, was watching me.
Someone, the party crasher, I assumed, came up from behind me and put a cloth to my face.
I blacked out.
The next thing I knew, I was sitting on a chair in some dark room, my ankles and wrists bound and a gag in my mouth. I had no idea where I was, or who did this to me.
I managed to get myself kidnapped. I thought. Way to go, genius!
"So, what did she say?" Luke asked.
"She said that it wasn't the best time, and then she ran off," said Hershel.
"Shouldn't she be back by now?"
That comment arose the slightest concern for both the professor and Luke.
"I'll check in here, you check outside," Luke ordered.
Hershel nodded and went to the parking lot.
Looking around, he could see nothing suspicious right away, but then he spied a small piece of paper lying on the ground, with a disturbing message written on it.
"If you don't solve the puzzles in time, she's dead. Alert the authorities, and all of you are dead. Go to your car for the first riddle. You have thirty minutes."
Luke ran outside. "What did you find?"
Hershel, hands shaking, gave the paper to Luke.
"Oh, no," he breathed.
"I guess we have no choice but to play their game," Hershel said.
In Hershel's car was a letter:
"Think back to your first case with Brittney, Layton, and use that information to solve this riddle:
I sing a tune, along with my friends, but if you don't take care of me, I cannot perform. What am I and where can you find me?"
"I still don't get it," said Luke, reading over the letter for the fourth time.
"Luke, think back to Brittney's garage the first time we were there," Hershel said. "What about it was unusual?"
"Of course! The Detragan! One of the keys didn't work, so Brittney 'took care of it'!" Luke said.
Since then, I had finished repairing the instrument, and had sent it to a historical museum dedicated to Ambrosia.
"But wait, you don't have the Detragan anymore, do you?" Luke asked.
"No, but we do have a grand piano," Hershel said.
On top of the piano was another note:
"I don't think you need any hints for this one. You have an hour." Beside the note were two tea bags, one of Earl Grey, and one of Star Anise.
"I don't think this is the right time for tea, professor," said Luke.
"I'm not in the mood for tea, right now. What significance does tea have to do with-" He stopped mid-sentence. "These were the flavours of tea that we ordered at the Sidewalk Café at our first meeting."
"Nice work, professor!" said Luke, heading towards the car.
The café was closing up, as there were just the janitors and chefs there, ready to pack up and leave. On my favourite table was a crossword puzzle and a note:
"You should know, Layton, that your time limit is twenty minutes."
There were a few letters filled in, but no complete clues.
Luke was starting to get impatient. "Really? We don't have time for this!"
"Now, Luke, let's fill some of these clues in and see if we can't get somewhere."
After filling in some of the words, Luke said, "None of these are relevant." He immediately took that back. Pointing to a filled in word, he shouted, "Gressenheller!"
"Let's go to my office, then."
"Wait, can we get there in twenty minutes?"
"If we hurry, yes."
After maneuvering through the corridors of the university, Luke noticed the professor's door slightly ajar.
"The door was left open?" Luke asked.
"I always lock it."
Professor, A true gentleman should never lie, thought Luke, rolling his eyes. Sometimes he forgets to lock the door, I'll let you in on that much. Usually, he's pretty good about these things.
On Hershel's desk was a ring of keys and - you guessed it - another note.
"You should be able to figure out this one by yourselves. You have 45 minutes."
"What could these keys possibly go to?" Hershel wondered aloud.
"Well, they're Brittney's, I know that much," said Luke. "What does she have keys to?"
"Let's see, this office, our house, and-" The professor paused, "Scotland Yard."
"Her office is on the third door on the right," said Hershel, speed-walking down the hall.
"Here," said Luke, taking the keys from the professor. "Let me try her desk."
After trying all of the keys, one fit in the slot, and opened the top desk drawer. Inside was a photo.
"Hotel Duke? What?" Luke asked.
"That's impossible, all of Future London was closed off to the public permanently!" said Hershel.
"Maybe it's a different hotel," said Luke.
"Well done, my boy!" said the professor. "There's an abandoned hotel up the street from the café, the one Descole used for a hideout, do you remember?"
"Yes, I do. Let's go!"
Meanwhile, I was trying to free myself, unsuccessfully, might I add. Every time I thought I could untie my wrists, I failed. Then, I heard a soft sound, like someone opening a door. That turned out to be true.
"Alright, lights on," the person said, flipping a switch, flooding the room with light.
Apparently, I was in the basement of Hotel D'or la Maison, the abandoned hotel that Descole had used for a base about a year and a half ago, but that was unbeknownst to me at the time. The room was furnished very nicely, with the dark coloured, very fine furniture.
The person, whom I now realized was a woman, came over to me and took the gag out of my mouth. When she stepped back, I realized that she was wearing the same pair of white gloves that I had seen earlier!
"What the- Ok, who are you and why have you kidnapped me!?" I demanded.
"Oh, shut up, will you? You're not going anywhere anytime soon," she snapped, followed by an eerie laugh.
"Well, could you at least tell me who you are?"
She sighed, sitting down across from me. "Oh, alright. My name is Jeanne Descole...or, at least it will be. I am Jean Descole's fiancée."
My eyes widened. I had no idea. I assumed he was single. Not like I was interested in the guy! But, it just didn't seem...natural for him.
"So you're- and he's your-"
She seemed to find my stammering amusing. "That is correct," she said. "I spent some time as a United States Marine, and I was an agent for the Secret Intelligence Service."
"I would have figured that you were a part of Targent or something," I said.
"Don't you EVER say that name in my presence!" she lashed out. After calming down, she said, "Broneph Reinel isn't exactly my 'best friend,' you see. But, I assume he's one of yours, correct?" she asked.
I nodded. "I guess you could say that."
She laughed. "Of course. It's only natural that you Americans would be foolish enough as to befriend someone like that."
Crap. Well, the cat's out of the bag now, I suppose. Yes, I admit it. I am an American, and proud of it. I was born in Sacramento, California, in the U.S., but I've lived in London most all my life. All I know is that it was my father's doing.
Even Hershel didn't know.
I gasped. "How did you know that?!"
"I did my homework. And just because I was in the U.S. Military," she continued, "doesn't mean I'm an American like you. I'm as British as they come."
"Well, why did you kidnap me?" I asked.
"It was partly my idea, partly Jean's. Since Layton is always getting in the way, why not kidnap his girlfriend? We figured that would keep him occupied for at least a little while."
"So, if you're here, then where's Jean?" I asked.
"He's taking care of some...unfinished business, and he put me in charge of keeping an eye on you."
She picked up a small metal case and unlocked it.
"Just in case your boyfriend can't make it tonight," she said, holding up a needle full of who-knows-what. It glinted in the light. "Would you rather use this for a slow, painful death, or would you rather just get it over with?" With her other hand, she waved a gun, my gun, to be exact, in the air.
"I'd rather not choose right now."
"Well, you keep thinking about that."
And with that, she got up and left.
Luke barely waited until the car was parked to jump out and run towards the hotel.
"Brittney!" both Hershel and Luke shouted.
I was fortunate enough to hear them. "Hershel? Luke? I'm here! Follow my voice!"
Within minutes, they both burst through the door.
"How the hell did you find me?" I asked.
"Someone left a message for us, saying that if we didn't solve their puzzles in time, they would kill you," Hershel said, untying me.
"It must have been Jeanne."
"Who?" Luke asked.
"Jean Descole's fiancée," I said.
"Descole's got a--WHAT?!?!?!" Luke exclaimed.
"I was surprised, too." At that moment, I finished untying my ankles, and so I got up and hugged Hershel.
"Can we get out of here, now?" I asked. Letting go, I picked up my bag off the floor by the door, which still had all the contents in it, and my gun off the table.
"Of course, dear."
I had no idea why we went back to the gallery, but we did. I suspected that Hershel had his reasons, as he always does.
"She threatened to kill me," I said. "She gave me a choice of my execution, an injection of something lethal, or a bullet from my own gun."
"At least you're safe," said Hershel.
"I still can't believe that was Descole's fiancée," I said.
"Speaking of fiancée's," Hershel said, dropping to one knee, "would you care to be mine?"
I gasped. So that's what he wanted to tell me earlier... "Of course I will!" He put the ring, a very expensive eleven-carat diamond, on my left hand, he hugged me and then we kissed, and there was applause from everyone in the room, including Luke.
"What a night, eh?" I said.
"I suppose so!" Hershel said. We both laughed.
About a month later, I found myself still planning for our wedding, which by that time was two weeks away. I thought we may have rushed into it a bit too fast, but Hershel didn't seem to mind, therefore, I automatically didn't care, either. However, I still hadn't heard anything about either of the Descole's, but thought that with time, something was bound to happen soon. But, I couldn't focus on the negatives, for I had a wedding to plan!
A big thanks to Psych and the Yin and Yang episodes for inspiration!