Clayncie “Clay” Despier was in the awkward transition of twenty-something to middle age, having already gone through two quarter-life crises. The first saw him joining Elodine’s lone police force, Ikaga City Police; the second having him finally settling down with a wife. As far as quarter-life crises go, he could have done worse. He was content.

Throughout the past week, Clay had been working nightshifts, patrolling the streets for unruly, changed villagers. It was quiet, per usual. Police work was a good gig if one could get used to the occasional sleep schedule irregularities. It was one of the only jobs in Ikaga that made a nightshift feasible. Afterall, finding someone that possessed a suitable animal form, as well as the skills necessary for the job was tough.  And so, villagers were often encouraged to stay in and sleep through the night to avoid injuring themselves.

On this night, Clay walked into his office shortly before his nightly change was expected to take place. He sat down at his desk and began checking his mail to avoid having to do so later with his too-large gorilla hands. Bill, he rolled his eyes as he tossed it into the garbage, Advertisement, massage parlor – Oooh, might actually use this one, he thought as he stuffed it into his uniform pocket, Another bill, trashed, Hmm?, he noticed an envelope addressed directly to him in messy handwriting. Clay had received one of these odd letters before – it had led him to making one of the biggest arrests in Ikalga’s brief history. Maybe this would be an exciting night after all, he smiled to himself as he opened the letter:

“I imagine my last letter has proven me a trustworthy informant? Or, at the very least, you’ll look into it my next proposition… I have to be very general to avoid detection on my end, but mutual trust is important in this business, no? Head to the main square around midnight tonight, and keep your eyes open.”

The letter was not signed. Clay looked toward the window; it was five minutes until sunset and he had to begin preparing for his change. He placed the letter in his uniform, next to the massage advertisement, and headed towards the room he used to transform. Once there, Clay disrobed his uniform and sat on the floor waiting to assume his night form.

Sometime later, he walked out of the room on his knuckles. He had spent half his life in this form, so he was used to maneuvering at this size. He hurried out of the large police headquarters as it was time to begin his patrol.  Clay was thankful to be patrolling and not on guard duty, as it allowed him to avoid having to endure the constant commotion of the prisoners altered by night.  He had a few hours until he had to come to a decision about following up on his mysterious tip.  

I need to make these decisions before I change, I should probably come in earlier… Clay chided himself for the dozenth time this year. Making decisions became quite difficult once the primate part of his brain had to work in tandem with his humanity. He was never sure if he was being rational; once or twice he had come out of an incident, having chosen the more… aggressive route.

A couple of hours into his patrol, gorilla Clay found himself loping into an alley with a clear view of the main square. His more rational side thought back to his patrol route to which he was not adhering.  He couldn’t help but recall the time his captain, Noah, had been misled on a tip and ended up on the wrong side of town during an attempted jailbreak. He rolled his mind’s eye, trying not to second guess himself.  The captain would be the first to tell him to follow his instincts, gorilla or not.

A pair of shadows crept across the square about a dozen paces from where Officer Clay stood crouching in the alley. To him, they looked to be either feline or canine in form but he couldn’t be sure. Why couldn’t gorillas wear spectacles? Maybe the Tinkerer in town could see to something useful… he thought to himself.

What Clay could make out was that the animals were transporting two peculiar sacks, one held in each of their mouths.  He sprang up from his position and bounded toward the two four-legged mammals. With his inability to speak, probable cause became more of a “suggestion” at night. He was quickly able to close the gap between himself and the perpetrators, reaching the two creatures in a few leaps. Taken by surprise, one of the animals dropped the bag it was carrying and, in a panic, frantically rushed into his partner. The other managed to hold onto his bag initially despite his partner’s stampede into him, but that was soon a moot point as Clay barreled through both suspects. The first, laid out cold, had his head covered in the green glint of the bags’ contents. The second had been knocked off kilter, but managed to regain its footing. Clay approached the beast, managing to dodge its snapping jaws as it lunged at him.  He grabbed it by its muzzle, tossing the creature away and against the square’s fountain. He spared the first animal a glance to confirm it was still unconscious before rushing over to apprehend the second. Clay reached into his specially made patrol backpack and pulled out rope to tie up the dazed creature; he did the same to restrain the other before looking at the contents of their sacks – the green sparkle gave it away. He immediately recognized it as the herbal drug, Lilypad.  Clay smiled as much as a gorilla could, heaving both unconscious smugglers over his shoulder, after he had consolidated the Lilypad into one sack. On his return, Clay’s loping had a noticeable, joyous skip to it – it was likely that come morning, these perpetrators would be giving up their smuggling ring.

Clay had no idea who had sent the note or what their motivations were, but he wouldn’t argue. General, broad, upside down, or even in Lilypad ink – he would continue to take tips from his anonymous friend, whenever he received them.



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