Honey Usul was tired, but she knew she had to take her
Spardel, Mike, out for a walk before she could get some rest. She loved Mike,
she really did, but she just didn’t feel like going for a walk right now. Oh
well. She sighed and grabbed Mike’s leash before walking out of her small home
in Neopia Central. Better to get it over with, than keep putting it off. The
sooner the walk was over, the sooner she could go to sleep. And right now, she
wanted sleep more than anything else in all of Neopia.
“Mike!” Honey called as she locked her large,
wooden door and moved into the front yard, where Mike should have been running
around, playing with a beach ball or one of his other many toys. (Mike was one
very spoiled Spardel, if I must tell the truth). But she got no answer. Puzzled,
she ran into the street, where she saw a yellow Skeith in a trench coat turning
the corner. She gasped, choked back tears, ran back into her house, and picked
up the phone…
Judge Hog sat at his desk, worried lines all
over his face, the latest issue of The Neopian Times in front of him. He read
the headline on the front page again… “Petpets Missing… Malkus Vile Suspected.”
He dropped his head into his hands and then pressed the intercom button. He
knew there was only one thing to do. “Send me Tom!” he told the receptionist.
A few minutes later, Tom Blumaroo entered the
office of Judge Hog. Tom, who was red, cocky, and full of pride, was the best
Defender at the Judge’s disposal. If anyone could crack the case of the missing
petpets, it was Tom. “You called me?” asked Tom.
“Tom, I have a case for you!” said Judge Hog,
getting right to business. He knew that if Vile really was behind the latest
crime wave, there was very little time to lose. “I am sure you have heard of
the hundreds of petpets that have gone missing in Neopia Central. Malkus Vile
is suspected.” He took a deep breath and continued, “I think this is a good
case to break in a rookie. A new recruit, Sally Pteri, has shown great potential
in training. I want to get her working on actual cases. I want her to learn
from the best.”
“No problem,” said Tom, looking a little annoyed
in spite of his words. He worked alone. He did not want, and, in his own opinion,
most certainly did not need, any partner. Especially a little snivel-nosed Pteri
who would bug him all day and waste his time with stupid questions. “I’ll do
my best to keep my partner in on the casework so that she can learn the ropes.”
If Tom knew one thing, it was not to get on the Judge’s bad side. Secretly,
he was envious of the prestige and responsibility of Judge Hog. Some day,
he thought, I will head this office. And do a much better job than that
stupid Moehog!” Abruptly, he turned and walked out of the room Judge Hog watched
him go, knowing he not worry now that Tom was on the case…
Tom and Sally sat in Tom’s favorite pizza parlor,
discussing the petpet case. Sally was bright, as Judge Hog had said, and she
was helpful in many ways to Tom as he tracked Malkus Vile. Tom would have died
rather than admit this, of course. It was killing him that a little blue Pteri
who had absolutely no experience was able to aid him at all. He had been a Defender
since before Sally was born, and he resented her intelligence and abilities.
Sally took of sip of her Neocola and then said,
“I think motive will take us a long way in this case. If we know why Vile is
taking the petpets, we might figure out where they are and be able to track
down the perpetrator. But I’m at a loss. What could Vile possibly want with
hundreds of petpets?”
“I agree that a motive would be helpful, but
I am equally stumped as to what he motive might be,” admitted Tom. “Vile likes
to steal, but his M.O. is jewels and riches. He wants expensive items that will
bring him lots of Neopoints on the black market. Why would he steal petpets?
It just doesn’t make sense…”
“Maybe there is a clue in the petpets that were
stolen,” said Sally, opening her briefcase and taking out the list of reported
missing petpets that Judge Hog had given to the investigating Defenders. Tom
hid a grimace as he realized that he, and not Sally, should be running this
case. Who did this twerp think she was? Alabaster?
“If there is, I don’t see it,” said Tom. “He’s
stolen everything, from pink Spardels to Greebles to an Ona.” Sally sighed and
looked over the list. Tom got up to order another pizza. As an idea came to
Sally, a puzzled look came over her face, and she scoured the list again, just
to make sure she was right. If she was, there would be major trouble. As Tom
came back with the pizza, Sally adjusted her worried face and greeted him cheerfully.
Tom scowled. Why did she always have to be so cheerful? It really got
on his nerves. They were silent as they finished their pizza and after lunch,
Sally and Tom split ways. He went home, and she headed back to the headquarters
of the Defenders of Neopia. She had to see Judge Hog as soon as possible. She
took a deep breath as she knocked on his door. She knew this meeting would solve
or destroy the case and make or break her career as a Defender…
The next day, Judge Hog called Tom into his office.
The Judge looked very upset and worried. He did not want to believe that the
case had taken such a turn, but he could not ignore the evidence in front of
him. He had to face the facts.
“Tom, how is the case?” he asked as the red Blumaroo
opened his door and entered his office, a strange look upon his face.
“Slow. We are trying to find a pattern in the
crimes or to establish motive, something to lead us to the missing petpets.
We figure if we find the petpets, we’ll find Vile”
Judge Hog sighed and said, “I think the case
is closer to being solved than you realize, Tom.”
“What do you mean?” Tom looked surprised.
“I am no longer convinced that Vile is the culprit.
I talked extensively to Honey Usul, the only neopet to actually see the thief.
She saw a yellow Skeith in an overcoat and just assumed that the culprit was
Vile. However, the Skeith she saw was wearing a gray trench coat and no hat.
Skeith always wears a brown or black trench coat and never goes anywhere without
Tom looked a little worried. “Do you think you
know who the culprit is?” he questioned.
“Actually, I do,” said Judge Hog quietly. “Tom,
why did you do it?”
“Me!” exploded Tom. “Me! How dare you! I am
not a yellow Skeith! I’ve worked here for years capturing criminals! I am the
best Defender to ever work in this office, and you know it!”
“No, you are not a yellow Skeith. But your friend
Bobby is. We arrested him earlier today and he confessed.”
“This is ridiculous!” Tom exploded.
“Then explain to me, Tom, how you knew an Ona
was missing. Yesterday at lunch you told Sally that an Ona was one of the missing
petpets. She looked over the list and came straight to me. I checked it. There
was no reported missing Ona. That is, until early this morning. A neopet named
Jenna Tuskaninny came in and reported that her Ona was missing right after I
came into the office today. She had been on vacation at the Neolodge and returned
home this morning to find her Ona gone. She came straight here after her discovery.”
Tom knew he was caught. He sighed and explained.
“It was Sloth’s idea. When he came to me I jumped at the opportunity. I was
so sick of living in your shadow when I am ten times the Defender you ever were
and ever will be! Sloth thought if we kept the Defenders busy on a case like
this and implicated Vile, he could hatch a scheme of his own and get away with
it. The Defenders can handle only so many cases at one time.”
Judge Hog shook his head sadly. He hated to have
to do it, but he arrested his best investigator. “No, my second best investigator,”
he corrected himself mentally, and a small smile crossed his face. After Tom
was gone, he pressed the intercom button. “Send in my best defender!” he said.
A few minutes later, Sally entered and the Judge told her, “See what Frank Sloth
is up to…”