"I know it was him."
That was all Donna Doby kept repeating to herself as she examined her dead husband's body in the alleyway of a quiet Eterna City neighborhood.
"Who, Donna?" Perri asked. "I don't get it."
"I know it was him," Donna repeated, yet again.
"Mum," Luna said. "Who are you talking about? Who would do this to Dad?"
"It's really weird that you call him Dad," Trudy said.
"Well, he's the closest thing to a father I've ever had," Luna said with a sniffle. She was surprisingly composed, although you could tell she was holding back an ocean of tears behind her bright blue eyes.
"I know..." Donna began to repeat. "It was him."
"Isn't that getting on your nerves?" Perri asked Luna and Trudy.
"I don't understand," Luna said. "I've never seen her like this. She's always so cool and collected. Except when she gets mad. But even, then, she doesn't do... this...
"It was him," Donna said again.
"Who!?" Perri demanded to know.
Donna finally said a name."Stanton Miles."
Perri and Trudy were dumbfounded. "Who in the Hells is that?" Perri wondered.
Luna explained. "Stanton Miles is a Pixy who used to work with Dad when they worked alongside Fanton Fantalica. I never really got to meet him or Fanton. But apparently, they did a lot together and solved a lot of cases along with Dad."
"Stanton Miles is a traitor!" Donna exclaimed. "I know he did this! Look at the wounds! These were caused by a Pixy boomerang!"
The Pixy were not native to Cathara. They were refugees from another world that was destroyed in a massive war that literally tore their planet in half, making it uninhabitable. Most of them were welcomed with open arms due to their innate psychic healing abilities. But like with any group of sentient beings, there were some less than savory characters always causing trouble.
In particular, Stanton Miles was a shady character. The Pixy are tiny creatures, not much taller than eight inches in most cases. Their speed and stealth made them valuable to the Watchers, but Pixy, being psychic creatures, were often thought to be untrustworthy and only in the espionage game for themselves.
Stanton Miles, in particular, was known to possess a tiny boomerang that using his psychic power could become a deadlier weapon many times its regular size. From the many wounds on Jethro's body, it looked like lacerations from such a weapon. But the Pixy were not the only ones who could use such a weapon.
But it seemed likely that Jethro had learned something that someone didn't want him to know. If that were the case, Stanton Miles was the type who could have been out to collect a bounty. It was a good guess on Donna's part. Luna knew how much Donna trusted her gut. She found it hard to believe that he would've done this, though. Stanton Miles wasn't known as a killer, most certainly.
"What could have he known that got him killed?" Trudy wondered.
"It's a very good question," Donna said. "I really hope your father didn't have anything to do with this."
"Why would you even think that?" Trudy asked angrily. "My father is a hero. He'd never betray Jethro Doby! He's his old partner!"
"Which makes it more likely that Fanton knew something," Donna admitted.
"It could explain why Dad disappeared," Trudy said. She looked to Luna. "I'm really sorry this happened. I wish I could have done something to stop it."
"Obviously it's not your fault," Luna said. "But the timing is impeccable. The bank happens, now this. I don't think it's a coincidence."
"Your father taught you well, Danika," Donna said with a slight smile. "If you were me, what would you think?"
"I'd look for Stanton Miles," Luna nodded. "I don't think a Pixy could have done this, but I've learned to never underestimate any creature, no matter how small."
"Exactly," Perri said. "Let's hunt him down and get some answers."
You won't need to do that, said a stern, but cool female voice.
Luna, Perri, and Trudy all fell to their knees when they saw who spoke those words.
"My Queen, you honor us with your presence," Perri said.
"Good to see you again, Queen Phoebe," Luna said.
"Wow! It's Queen Phoebe! And Ruby Skyfire!" Trudy said.
"Hey," Ruby said. Her expression was stern but you could tell from her eyes that she was happy to see the three kittens.
"I can tell you for a fact that Fanton Fantalica had nothing to do with this," Phoebe said. "You can all rise by the way. No need to look silly."
"Yes, my Queen!" Perri said.
"Please, Perri. Phoebe will suffice," the Queen said.
"Have you seen Dad?" Trudy asked.
"I have Trudy," Phoebe said. "He disappeared for very good reasons."
Ruby continued, "Fanton has been on the trail of Aafie Darklight. It seems that she and Ender Vale have formed some sort of alliance."
"Huh," Trudy said. "I guess I was on the right track."
"The reason I'm here," Phoebe said, "Is to tell you kittens to cease your activities immediately. I will not have you killed out of senseless acts of supposed heroism."
"What's that mean?" Perri asked.
"It means you need to stop playing Team Luna and leave the real stuff to the grownups," Ruby said, but with a grin.
Trudy huffed, "OK, if you say so."
Luna contested, "Queen Phoebe, with all due respect, we can handle ourselves. Trudy even has a Soul Sword!"
Phoebe unsheathed Vampyrika and whispered something. The Hawkmancer appeared in her other hand.
"What..." Trudy was shocked.
"I will be sure that you have it returned when you are ready for it," Phoebe promised. "Your father dared not take it with him considering the circumstances."
"What circumstances?" Luna asked.
"Yeah, Queen Phoebe. It's not that we're so mad about spoiling our fun. You are by the way. But what is going on?"
"I've already spoken to Remi and Obsidienne Quasidor," Phoebe said. "If any of you three are seen doing vigilante nonsense, the Watchers will have no choice but to lock you up as criminals. I'd rather you be jailed than put yourself in mortal danger."
"That sucks," Perri said.
"Perri, watch yourself!" Donna said.
"Don't worry about it," Phoebe said. "She's mad for good reason. You girls need to chill out and live your own lives. Don't worry about being Warrior Princesses any longer. Besides, you are not properly trained. Go find your own destinies."
"Go start a band or something," Ruby joked.
"A band! That's awesome!" Trudy said.
Perri and Luna looked at one another. "We were actually thinking about that," Luna admitted.
"Well, go do it!" Phoebe commanded. "I'm not having any of you meet a tragic end like Jethro Doby. Cathara and the entire League of Worlds lost a great man today. Donna, you know your duty."
"Yes, Phoebe," Donna nodded. "I'll track down Jethro's killer until the day I die if I have to."
With heavy hearts, curious minds, and empty stomachs, Danika, Perri, and Trudy walked off in defeat.
"No more midnight prowls for us," Perri said.
"Look on the bright side," Trudy said. "It opens up a lot more possibilities!"
"Yeah, I guess so," Danika said. "I guess no more being Princess Luna, at least for awhile."
As Queen Phoebe and Ruby Skyfire made their departure, Fanton Fantalica was watched carefully from the distance.
"If only those girls knew," he said to himself before disappearing into the shadows once again.
No one would be seeing him again for awhile. He had some real work to do.
Tiffany Larsen was just minding her own business when Danika ran up to her out of nowhere.
"Hey, Tiff! Did you hear about the awesomeness at the bank last night?"
"Well!" Tiffany huffed. "Sounds like you were so lucky to, like, not die!"
"Yeah, it totally blows that you were sick last night and missed the midnight prowl!"
"Uh, ok?" Tiffany had been on a few prowls before. But they weren't really her thing.
"And I totally made us a new friend!" Danika announced.
"Hi there! I'm Trudy! You must be Tiffany! Danika and Perri told me all about you! Hi! Hi!"
"Trudy's a bit of a... free spirit!" Luna said.
"Yeah! What she said! I love banging on things! Do you like that, too?"
"See? Best friends already!" Luna said with a smile.
"Lu... er, Danika said you needed a drummer."
"Yeah. Our drummer Madi just up and quite recently. Like, creative differences, I guess."
Tiffany paused for a moment. "Wait, did you almost say... Luna!?"
"It's OK, Tiff," Luna said. "She's one of us. She's the daughter of Fanton Fantalica! Who would've guessed?"
"I love the drums!" Trudy announced. "I can't wait for the show!"
"Isn't this great?" Trudy asked.
"The SHOW!?" Tiffany protested. "Seriously, Dani? There's no way I'd ever clear this with A & D!"
"Why not? Of course, they'll let her play!"
"Dani, I appreciate you're trying to give a kid something to do. But we play 18-and-over venues and they won't let us have a kid drummer! Heck, you and Perri aren't even old enough to play our shows yet!"
"But Aidrea and Deidra gave you, Madi, and Gloria a shot long before our age!"
"Yeah, but that was different. I'm sorry, Dani. Like, I just can't. Besides, no more prowls. I gotta focus on my music, girl."
"Well, Queen Phoebe said we can't prowl anymore anyway..." Luna said sadly.
"Hey, lemme tell you what," Tiffany offered. "If you can come up with some good tunes and get us a good bass guitarist, we'll think of something. At least you can help us, like, record some stuff."
"That sounds awesome!"
"Well, Princess Luna Starlight. You, Perri, and Trudy go run along and have fun now. I gotta get back to Q and make some musics! See ya!"
"Well, that was rude," Trudy said, greatly perturbed.
"Oh don't take it personally," Luna said with a grin. "If Tiff's rude to you, it means she likes you. Rich white kid. But she's actually quite nice."
"Wait, Tiffany Larsen. You mean the kid billionaire?"
"Wow, you have awesome friends!"
"Yeah, I do! Maybe life as just Danika Doby won't be so bad. Hey, we can still be Team Luna! We'll just start a band!"
Perri ran up to the two. "Hey, guys! I found some great stuff at the local thrift! We should go check it out! Maybe it's just what we need to start our band!"
"Well, Tiffany wouldn't hear of us joining up with hers. So that's a good idea!"
"Aw, who needs them anyway?" Trudy asked.
"It's not like Tiffany has billions and billions of Starr Bux, right?"
"Nah, who cares. We got this!" Trudy said. "My mom has a cooking show. We'll be good!"
"Awesome!" Perri said. "I'm hungry."
And so the three teen kittens went to go stuff their faces. They could forget about being heroines for awhile.
But their break from fighting evil-doers wouldn't last forever.
Their trials were just beginning.