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The Neopian Investigators: Case of the Missing Neopoint


by spoonguardonline

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It was a dark night in the alleys of Neopian Central. Nothing could be seen, very little heard, and barely anything smelt. Except, of course, the smell emerging from the Neopian Bakery.

     Yami was working hard in the oven. Well, not literally in the oven, but in the kitchen near the oven. He was busy baking for the demand of the next day. Bread, cakes, biscuits, all needed making for the following day, and now, the four hundred and seventeenth batch had finally been finished. His boss had left the bakery three hours previously, and finally, Yami could go home.

     Yami hung up his apron, and left the bakery, closing and locking the door behind him. He began to walk down the aforementioned alley, which was very dark, threatening and altogether not the sort of place you would want to walk down at the start of a story that appears to be a detective story. Really, he brought it on himself.

     As he was halfway down the alley, a figure leapt out behind him, and began to follow.

     Just reaching a junction between three equally threatening alleys, Yami heard a voice by his ear.

     "Give me all your neopoints!" it said, in a threatening voice. Then, it faltered slightly, and added, "Or, your neopoints or your life. Or something like that. Oh, whatever. Money, now!"

     "I'm sorry!" replied Yami earnestly. "I've only got one neopoint on me now."

     "Oh!" The voice appeared to be put off for a moment. "Well, er, that could be a problem. Er…" the voice stopped for a second, as if thinking. "Well, if that's really all you've got…"

     "Really!" put in Yami earnestly.

     "…then that'll do, I suppose," the voice finished sadly. "Give me your neopoint!"

     * * *

     Detective Laskar of the Neopian Investigators sat back on his nice comfy chair, and sighed. As always, he had a totally clear day. But, he thought, the problem with being a detective is that nobody has the decency to inform you beforehand when they will require your services. For goodness sake, why couldn't people arrange when they're going to be robbed!

     He picked up a doughnut and began to eat it, silently and slowly.

     Yesterday had been reasonably stress-free. He had had very little to do, except to solve the case of one Usul that had lost her pet Abominable Snowman. It did give it away slightly that the Abominable Snowman in question had been brought with her to the Neopian Investigators office, and was even introduced to the detective, but after a hard day's investigation, Laskar confirmed that, indeed, the Usul did have the Abominable Snowman. He reflected now on his long hard search, and the hours of contemplation, and smiled. He was good at his job.

     Of course, his constable had immediately pointed out that Snowy was three feet behind the Usul searching for him, but you can never trust constables. For all Laskar knew, it could be a lie.

     The constable knocked on the door to Laskar's office. The Skeith growled at the door, and it was opened. It revealed a tall, thin, green Xweetok, standing at the door.

     "Come in!" said Laskar.

     "I already have," said the Xweetok. "When you told me to, sir."

     "Oh," said Laskar. "Erm…well done, sergeant. Good work. I like an officer with initiative."

     "Sir, I'm actually a constable," pointed out the Xweetok.

     "Oh," said Laskar again. "Well…you're promoted. Congratulations."

     "Thank you, sir!" said the Xweetok enthusiastically.

     "So, what did you want?" asked Laskar.

     "We have a visitor at the door, sir. He wants to see us."

     "Does he have an appointment?"

     "Er… we don't keep appointments, sir," said the Xweetok.

     "Don't we?" asked Laskar. "Then we should. Sergeant?"

     "Yes, sir?"

     "I've come up with the idea of an appointment system."

     "Good idea, sir."

     "Well, what are you waiting for? Start it!"

     "Yes sir!"

     The constable-promoted-sergeant headed for the door.

     "Where are you going?" barked Laskar.

     "To sort out the appointments, sir."

     "That's a stupid idea, sergeant, that'll never work. We've got a visitor. Do I have to do everything around here?"

     "Sorry, sir."

     Laskar and the as-yet-unnamed sergeant headed for the door. Laskar walked through first, into the second and other room of the Neopian Investigators HQ, affectionately known as Nihq to Laskar, as nobody else had the wit to come up with such an intelligent name - in his opinion anyway.

     Sitting on the only chair in the main room, which was bare apart from a shabby receptionist desk, and a wall dominated by pictures of Laskar, under the heading 'Employee of the Month', was a red Kougra, with a hat with 'Neopian Bakery' scrawled across, and matching apron. Laskar examined the Kougra for about a minute, before leaning over to the sergeant.

     "I think he's from the bakery, sergeant."

     "Very good, sir!"

     Laskar spoke louder.

     "Sir, you are from the bakery, are you not?"

     The Kougra nodded.

     "Good, good," said Laskar, and headed back towards his office. The sergeant stopped him.

     "Aren't you going to listen to his problem, sir?" he asked.

     "Problem?" demanded Laskar. "He expects me to work out where he's from - and a tough mental battle it was too, sergeant - and then he expects me to solve his problem? What does he think we are?"

     "Er… a detective agency, sir."

     "Yes."

     Laskar looked momentarily even more confused than usual, before brightening up again.

     "I say we listen to his problem, sergeant."

     "Very good, sir."

     "So," said Laskar, turning to the Kougra. "What is your problem?"

     "Well, er…" the Kougra looked questioningly at Laskar.

     "Yes?" Laskar asked.

     After a short pause, the Kougra looked at Laskar again.

     "I was wondering what your names were," he said, pointedly.

     "Oh, right," said Laskar. "That's what I thought. I'm Detective Laskar, and this is Sergeant Elme… Sergeant Elmatr… Sergeant Ulmo… I'm sorry, what was it again, sergeant?"

     "I'm Sergeant Elmestroxivity, sir," said the Xweetok.

     "Elmstrovixocity, that's the one," said Laskar. "Would you mind if I called you Elmes? It would make it easier."

     "As you wish sir," said Elmestroxivity.

     "Thank you, sergeant," said Laskar, turning back to the Kougra. "And you are…?"

     "I'm Yami!" said the Kougra.

     "And what are you here for, Yami?" asked Laskar in what he considered a kindly voice, but would be considered by others to be the one employed by a Hissi shortly before devouring its prey.

     "Well, I'm here to report a theft!" said Yami. "Of money."

     "A theft?" asked Laskar, in a shocked voice this time. "Of neopoints?"

     Yami shook his head.

     "Technically, no," he explained. "Technically, it was a theft of neopoint."

     Laskar looked in deep thought for a short while. When he didn't appear to be making any sound for a couple of minutes, Elmes came in.

     "Do you really think we need to search for this neopoint?"

     "Well…" began Yami, but Laskar cut across him.

     "Of course we do! Mr Yami, tell us all about this theft. We shall get to the bottom of it."

     "Well," began Yami again. As there was no interruption this time, he continued. "I had just left the bakery…"

     "Aha!" shouted Laskar triumphantly. "I told you he was from the bakery!"

     "Please continue," said Elmes, looking towards Yami.

     "I had just left the bakery, and was heading home. I walked down Silver Street, towards the Yurble Junction. Just as I reached this junction, someone came up behind me, and demanded my money. I said I only had one neopoint, and he took that."

     "And did you?" asked Elmes, as Laskar looked again confused by this extraordinary demand on his brain.

     "Of course not!" snorted Yami. "I had at least three hundred with me. But, I need that neopoint. I have nine hundred and ninety nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety nine neopoints in my bank, and I had prided myself on not putting in a single neopoint given to me by somebody else. Why stop now, at my final milestone? I need to find that neopoint."

     "We'll get on the case," said Elmes reassuringly.

     "Yami!" said the detective.

     "Yes, Laskar?"

     "We'll get on the case," said Laskar. Inwardly, he swelled with pride. I'm getting the hang of this, he thought.

     * * *

     The detective and the sergeant had headed to the bakery with Yami. Upon arrival, Laskar had instantly sat down, and began to eat his way steadily through a large pile of Faerie Cakes. He enjoyed his food.

     Sergeant Elmes was outside with Yami. Both were deep in conversation.

     "So, what is wrong with the detective?" asked Yami.

     "Nothing really," said Elmes. "It's just that he doesn't really like to think if he doesn't have to. He set up the Neopian Investigators about a year ago, but nobody ever comes with serious complaints. They just come because they know that Laskar now has the brain capacity of a Pet Rock. I mean, yesterday, for instance, an Usul came into the shop. That same Usul came in with the same complaint two weeks ago, but Laskar didn't even recognise it. She was trying to get him to buy her a new Abominable Snowman. She even had the Abominable Snowman with her, but Laskar had to search and search for it."

     "So, how did he become detective?"

     "He started it, I guess."

     At this moment, Laskar, halfway through a cake, came out to Elmes and Yami, who both stopped talking.

     "Do you know what?" he asked.

     "No, what?" asked Elmes.

     "We're at that bakery where that Kougra worked!" said Laskar. "Hey, we could do some investigation here!"

     "Good idea sir!" said Elmes approvingly.

     Yami showed the pair the alley that he had lost his neopoint in. Even though it was broad daylight at the moment, it was one of those alleys that always managed to look dark and threatening.

     "This is Silver Street," announced Yami. "This is where I go every day after work."

     "Every day?" enquired Elmes.

     "Yes," confirmed Yami. "I go down Silver Street, left at the Yurble Junction, and continue on until I come to a right turning into Haunted Woods Way. Just a short way up there gets me about halfway down Bucket Street, so I'm quite close to my house there. It saves a lot of time from taking the main route."

     "So," mused Elmes, "Anybody who wanted to take your money would know you quite well, because nobody in their right minds ever goes down Silver Street. Did you find anything odd about the voice?"

     "Not really," said Yami, "Except that I think I recognised it. It was one I knew quite well."

     "You knew the attacker, and the attacker knew you," concluded Elmes.

     "It appears so," said Yami.

     Laskar was a little bit behind on this conversation, but managed to catch up enough to ask a question.

     "Tell me, Yami, do you recognise my voice?"

     "Well, yes," said Yami, "But only from this morning."

     "You wouldn't have recognised it last night?"

     "No."

     "Good, good." The detective beamed around. "That means that it can't be me who robbed Yami."

     "But," enquired Elmes, "Wouldn't you know that already, sir?"

     "I'm pretty sure I didn't do it," said Laskar. "But I'm not totally sure. You can never trust yourself."

     "Right, sir."

     "Do you recognise the sergeant's voice?"

     "Look," said Yami. "It isn't either of you."

     "Good," said Laskar. "We're getting somewhere." And with that, he headed back into the bakery, to begin his eating of Yami's ninety-seventh batch.

     "Who works at the bakery?" asked Elmes.

     "It's just me, my colleague Terry who's currently on holiday in the Lost Desert, and my boss, Flin. Nobody lives with me."

     "So, basically, the only people it could be who robbed you is Terry, or Flin."

     "Correct."

     "So it must be Flin then."

     "Yes, I suppose it must. Only, the voice didn't really sound like Flin's. Flin has a higher voice than the mysterious one."

     "Well, let's go and talk to him."

     The two went back inside the bakery. Laskar looked up. He had finished the large pile of cakes already. But, then, he was a fast eater.

     "Now that you have graced me with your presence," he said, slightly annoyed, "I can start doing some thinking, and you can all stand around being amazed."

     "You were going to think of interviewing the boss, Flin, weren't you, sir?" hinted Elmes.

     "Er…was I? Oh…right…yes…of course I was. Very good idea of mine, wasn't it, sergeant?"

     "Ingenious, sir. Would never have thought of it myself, sir."

     As Yami led Laskar into the back of the bakery, Elmes sighed, and followed.

     Three large ovens in the centre of the room dominated the back room of the bakery. The room was square, and two of the walls were covered in shelves, all stuffed with various products made the previous night by Yami. The third wall had two doors on, one through which they had just come, and the other presumably leading to Flin's office. The fourth wall had nothing on but a reasonably large window, looking down onto Silver Street. The bakery was on a slight rise from the rest of the street, and the window was about two feet above the general ground level.

     Yami knocked on the other door, and a voice invited them to enter. Yami pushed the door open.

     Inside, a Grarrl was working furiously. There was another, smaller oven in here, and he was shoving a pile of what would be cakes in about half an hour into it. Cooling next to it was a large plate of biscuits. The Grarrl looked up.

     "Good morning, Yami," he said, pleasantly. "And who are your friends?"

     "This is Detective Laskar and Sergeant Elmes," Yami said. "They're from the Neopian Investigators." At this, Laskar leant over, and spoke to Yami quietly and briefly. "Sorry, they are the Neopian Investigators. They've come about my missing neopoint."

     "Oh, right," said Flin the Grarrl. "Well, I just wish I could help."

     "Do you not know anything about what happened?" asked Elmes. Laskar interrupted before Flin could answer.

     "Excuse me, sergeant, but I think I'm asking the questions!" Laskar hesitated for a second, before saying, with total confidence: "Do you not know anything about what happened?"

     "No!" said Flin. "I'd gone home before the robbery occurred."

     "That's fine then," said Laskar, and turned to leave.

     "Sir, weren't you going to ask him if anybody can confirm that he had left when he said? Or if he knew of anybody that wanted to rob Yami."

     "Of course I was!" said Laskar indignantly. "I was just…er… using a new and special interviewing technique." Laskar turned. "Did you hear any of that, Mr Flin?"

     "What, the questions?" asked Flin.

     "Yes. Well, could you, erm, humour my sergeant and answer them?"

     "Certainly," said Flin. "Yami here saw me leave, didn't you?"

     "Yes, sir!" said Yami. "He left through the front door about three hours before the theft."

     "And I can think of nobody that I know that would want to rob Yami," continued Flin. "I'm guessing it was just a one-off incident. A thief, maybe, taking advantage of the darkness to strike. I'm sorry I can't be of more use."

     This time, as Laskar turned to leave, Elmes and Yami accompanied him.

     Elmes shut the door behind him. A thought had just occurred to him.

     "Yami?"

     Yami turned.

     "Yes?"

     "Was there anybody on the street when you left the bakery?"

     "No. Why?"

     Elmes thought to himself. The solution could be coming to him.

     "Never mind. Did you hear any sounds when you started to walk down the alley? Any at all."

     "Nothing, really. Just normal sounds. The wind, doors closing, the occasional thump."

     "And these are normal. You thought nothing of them at the time?"

     "Nothing at all."

     Elmes smiled. He had it. He wasn't going to leave this one to Laskar.

     "Well, better get back to my cakes… I mean thinking," said Laskar hurriedly. Yami opened the door, and Laskar ran through it. Yami looked at Elmes.

     "Give me a minute," he said. Yami nodded, and closed the door. Elmes headed over to the other one, and pulled it open. Flin was sitting at his desk.

     "You wanted something?" he asked.

     "What did you do with the neopoint?" asked Elmes.

     "You what?" asked Flin incredulously.

     "I think that, when you 'left' the bakery three hours ago, you didn't go home, did you? You went down Silver Street, where there is a window, which you could just reach. You left it open before you left, and climbed back in through it, spending the next three hours in your own office. When Yami locked up, and walked home, you leapt out of the window."

     "What do you mean?" demanded Flin; his face had grown from interest to anger in the time it took for Elmes to begin his speech. "Why would I want to rob Yami?"

     "You didn't!" concluded Elmes triumphantly. "You had another reason for being in Silver Street. You wanted to collect something, didn't you? But Yami heard the thud, and you knew you had landed too hard. Later, he would realise that the thud was you, so you had to confuse him. You had to rob him, to make him think that the reason for being in Silver Street was just to be a common thief. Once you robbed him, you carried on with your business."

     Flin had been listening to this account with annoyance. At the end, he stood up.

     "Very clever," he admitted, in a calm voice. "I didn't realise the neopoint would kick up such fuss. You can have it back if you want."

     He flicked a coin from his pocket towards Elmes, who caught it.

     "But you cannot prove it. And, you don't know what I was doing. So, basically, you have no evidence, and only your word to prove that I was even the thief."

     "Not just his word!" cried a voice, and a loud crashing sound echoed through the room. Somebody was trying to come into the room. The crashing sound was emitted again, and then yet again. There was silence for a second, before the voice said again, "Oh, right, there's a handle." The handle turned, and the door flew open to reveal Laskar, with a cake in hand.

     "I have heard most of the words that you said, and, although very few of them make sense to me, I understand that something has been happening here. Right, sergeant?"

     "Correct, sir. I think you'll find that this is the neopoint thief."

     "Er…very good work sergeant. Of course, I had already worked that out, but I though you deserved the chance to some thinking for yourself. Well done, anyway."

     "But," said Elmes, "Where did you go after robbing Yami?"

     "A very good question," said Laskar, as he bit into his cake. "And one that I believe has a very complicated answer." He looked at Flin. "Go on then. Explain."

     "I will not tell you!" said Flin. "Never!"

     "But I can!" came another voice from outside the room. The door was shaken slightly, but didn't open.

     "Try the handle!" suggested Elmes quickly. The handle turned again, and, a second later, the door was flung open again, displaying Yami.

     "Yami?" said Flin incredulously.

     "Yes, Flin. I know exactly where you went!"

     "You what?"

     "What!"

     "Hmm?"

     "Er…"

     "Right."

     "Nice cake." That was Laskar.

     "After stealing my neopoint, he went to have a discussion with somebody."

     "Who?" asked Elmes.

     "Me!" said Yami, simply.

     "Yes, him!" said Flin.

     "What did you discuss?" asked Elmes, whilst Laskar chewed thoughtfully on his cake, still about a minute behind the conversation.

     "You!" said Yami again.

     "You see," said Flin, "We are both from the Neopian Police Department."

     These words stirred something inside Laskar's simple mind.

     "The NPD? Where? Who? Why? When? What?" He paused, then sat down heavily on the floor. "I need a cake."

     "We set up this entire plan to test the Neopian Investigators' responses," explained Flin.

     "You didn't really think that I would go to the Neopian Investigators about a neopoint?" exclaimed Yami.

     "You never know!" warned Laskar. "You can never trust…" But, being unable to come up with the name of somebody untrustworthy and relevant, he fell into silence, which was a relief for all concerned.

     "So, you're not bakers?" asked Elmes.

     "Oh no, we're bakers!" said Flin. "We're just undercover."

     "So don't tell anybody, please!" said Yami earnestly. "But well done on uncovering the case."

     "Thank you!" said Elmes.

     "And," continued Flin, "We've decided to give you a grant of a couple of thousand neopoints to improve your headquarters. Maybe you could redo that entrance hall."

     "Thank you!" said Elmes again.

     "It's just a shame that this case was so easy," said Laskar, on the floor. "I hardly had to think at all."

     * * *

     Two weeks later, Sergeant Elmes was sitting behind the shabby receptionist desk in the entrance hall. The single shabby chair was still there, and Elmes had bought another one to sit on for the desk out of his own money. There was nothing to do today - there had been no real investigations since the Case of the Missing Neopoint. It was the end of the day, and Elmes was about to close up. He headed over to Laskar's office, and knocked. He was growled at, and he entered.

     Laskar's office had been totally redone. The three thousand neopoints granted had been spent on a large sofa, a couple of plants and a big shelf, full of cakes, with the compliments of the Neopian Bakery. Laskar was eating his way steadily through the cakes, as well as the occasional table when he fancied something different. At the moment, Laskar was working on the Employee of the Month.

     "Evening, Elmes," he said. "I've whittled the nominations down to just two."

     Elmes considered pointing out that there were only two employees, but thought better of it. It wasn't worth it.

     "I've made my decision." Laskar stood up, and picked up the large certificate with the picture in the middle. "This person worked tirelessly on the Case of the Missing Neopoint, and eventually managed to figure out the solution. By his efforts, the solution was discovered, and an entire neopoint saved."

     Elmes smiled, and imagined his picture on the wall. Laskar turned the certificate around, and showed it to Elmes.

     The picture in the middle was a large one of a big yellow Skeith. The name was inscribed beneath it:

     "Employee of the Month for the Month of Sleeping, Year 7: Laskar"

The End

 
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