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How do you tell if someone's an ally or an enemy?
Usually it's obvious. The "good guys" are friendly and the "bad guys" want to
hurt you. Like the skeith I had just met. Lousy temper, violent, angry - an obvious
bad guy. But what about the people you meet who don't fit into either category?
The ones who look at you with the casual indifference of a businessman looking
at desk of papers?
End of Prologue
Location: Police Station
Time: 5:40 PM NST
"Well Mr. Sabreur, I think that about wraps
it up," spoke the buzz on the other side of the desk. He was dressed in the
uniform of the Neopia Central Police Department. After the incident with the
Skeith at the restaurant Infernus and I had been hastily directed into a police
car and taken for questioning. As we left, and ambulance had arrived to attend
to the Skeith and forensic scientists had begun staring aghast at the damage
wrought by my firebomb. We had been answering questions for the past several
hours, as a battery of scientists and police officers entered in a steady stream.
There were even a few members of the NSPA, who were very interested in the details
of my firebomb. I tried to remember all of the questions I had been asked and
comments I had overheard, but there were so many that they blurred together
in my head.
"And you're sure the Skeith's attack was not provoked?"
"Now Sabreur, how large would you say the blast radius was?"
"Hmm... you say your sword just glanced off?"
"Now, were you watching when Infernus was pinned?"
"Okay, so you were standing at approximately this location..."
"Ah, a Battledome grudge then?"
"Hmm... What fuel did this explosive of yours use?"
"I assume you have a permit for this..."
"Now, you were taking fencing classes, correct?"
"We have an eyewitness, do you agree with this testimony?"
"You built it using WHAT!?"
"That Skeith's lucky to be alive, but he'll recover soon..."
"Do you own this sword?"
"Apparently your Scorchio - oh, what's his name - Infernus has a sprained
wing muscle. He'll be fine though."
"What time did you enter the restaurant?"
"The owner of the Skeith is being questioned, sounds like he's being helpful..."
"How long did it take you to make this 'Improved Firebomb'?"
"Okay, but there's a discrepancy in the testimonies..."
"Got the test results from the lab, but we need to have them verified..."
"Nasty bruise you've got there. How hard did he punch you, anyway?"
"You look tired - there's a Neocola machine down the hall, if you need a drink."
"Hold it... This witness couldn't have seen the scene from that angle, there's
too much in the way..."
"How long would you say the fight took?"
"Is there anything else you would like to add?"
"You're free to go," the Buzz spoke. I jerked
myself back to attention as the buzz shuffled some papers. "The evidence clearly
indicates that the Skeith was planning petty revenge for his Battledome loss.
His owner has agreed to pay for all the damages incurred by the fight. That,
and the fact that the Skeith has been punished enough by your invention means
that we won't be pressing charges. Unless you have something you'd like to file?"
The buzz looked up at me expectantly.
"Um, no," I replied, still a bit shaken by the
ordeal. "Can I have my sword back?"
The Buzz smiled. "Pick it up with the rest of
your stuff at the front desk. Here's our number if you remember anything you
forgot to tell us earlier." The Buzz handed me a business card with the police
phone number on it.
"Thanks," I said as I got up and walked out
of the office. Infernus met me by the door, bandages wrapped around his wing.
"Let's get your stuff," he spoke, calm as ever.
I nodded silently, and we walked to the front desk. A tall guy who I thought
was the Buzz's owner handed me my sword back. It looked a little battered, but
I was glad to have it back. Just then, a shadow Shoyru in a heavy trench coat
walked up to us. He had a strange look in his eye, and I could tell life hadn't
been particularly kind to him. Everything about him said "attitude", from the
way he walked, to the trench coat he wore, to the way his hand was never far
from his dagger.
"The name's Night. Dark Night," he said before
I had a chance to ask him. "Now, I want to make something perfectly clear to
you. Not everybody's happy with the official police report. That includes me.
A Skeith just attacks you for no good reason? You just happen to have the Improved
Firebomb handy?" He raised an eyebrow. "Let's just say it doesn't quite add
"You've got to be joking," I replied, taken
"I don't joke," he said. From the look on his
face, he meant it. "I've been hired by a buddy of mine to investigate you. If
you're hiding anything - and I mean anything - I will find it." The Shoyru's
voice turned sarcastic as he continued. "Of course, if you're just an ordinary,
law-abiding citizen like you claimed in there with the cops, you have nothing
to fear." The word 'cops' was accompanied by a disdainful snort. I had the distinct
impression he didn't care much for the police.
"Okay, okay, I understand," I replied, feeling
a little worried. "If you have any questions, just ask."
"I don't ask for anything," Dark Night said,
looking irritated. "Whatever it is you're up to, I will find out. Whether you
want me to or not." And with that, he turned and walked out the door.
Infernus watched him go, looking slightly stunned.
I turned to him and spoke, "How could he think we're up to something?"
"Well, there are the explosions in the lab..."
"Yeah... But besides that?"
"The hang-gliding accident yesterday..."
"Well yeah, but..."
"And then there's the time we blew out all the
neighborhood windows with the force field generator..."
"That was an accident!"
"Don't forget the time we tested the 'fusion
claw' you made."
"Hey, I had a permit for most of that stuff."
"Then there was the time we..."
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