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Logic And Circumstance: Part Two


by appaloosa500

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Within an hour, (which is a relatively short time frame considering Neopia Central has yet to take full advantage of faerie-racers and common motors such as those found on the Space Station) we came to her Neohome, a large three-story affair of brick. A smaller two-roomer was set slightly apart from the well-tended gardens, looking to all of Neopia like a gardener's shed. The two brainless Lupes stared at each other for a second before replacing their frost cannons in their holsters, but they still followed: how annoying.

     I headed toward the straw two-room, and I'm sure I heard a super high-pitched Petpet whistle. I sincerely wished my sensitive-eared Zafara friend, Tanny, was here to confirm things for me. Being a detective, I don't enjoy taking wild assumptions or random guesses.

     She opened the door, and I took out my eyeglasses. Not real, prescription glasses, of course, I have perfect vision. These were ultra-magnifiers, complete with adjustable zoom-I was never too fond of the classic magnifying glass, as it was in my opinion to bulky. I'd been thinking for a while of adding some more gadgets to the frame, but I couldn't think how to do it without making them appear to be obviously more than simple visual aids.

     Anyway, I slipped them on and scanned the room, carefully peeping in every corner and examining the very weave of the inexpensive rug. It was clean-actually, in point of fact, much too clean, as in vacuumed and sanitized clean.

     I took off the glasses and faced her, eye to eye. "This is where you kept 53 Petpets?"

     She nodded. "This was the sleep-room. The other room was for playing, it's much larger."

     I stared at her face for a second, slipped the glasses back on, and checked the other room. Same thing. Not a tear, stain, rip, snag, hairball, or any other form of Petpet activity anywhere. There were a few Petpet beds and toys scattered around, though all were perfectly spotless.

     I flicked the glasses off in a practiced motion and didn't even bother to turn around to face her. "So 53 Petpets were stolen from here the night of three days ago. And naturally, you were smart enough not to mess around at the scene of the crime, correct?"

     The sarcasm was so direct it would take a mental case not to notice it. She seemed to be suddenly alarming aware of the spotlessness of the rooms. "Umm, I have a cleaner and, well, I guess I forgot to tell her…"

     "Uh-huh," I grunted, with the accent on the second syllable. I looked around the room and raised my eyebrows. "What kinda lame trash are you trying to pull, lady?"

     The two Lupes immediately put paws to holsters. No offense to Lupes in general, but these two sure didn't have much upstairs. I'm faintly surprised, thinking about it, that they knew I was being downright rude.

     Ms. Kyrii waved the Lupes aside, and they calmed down perceptively. "None! I… err, I just need you to sign this insura-err, 'paper' signifying my Petpets were indeed stolen and there were no obvious traces at the scene of the crime. I, well, umm…"

     I stared at her. How could she possibly think I was so positively stupid? Just out of curiosity, I took the 'paper' and looked it over, commenting, "If I signed this, that'd be enough proof to Jetsam Insurance that your Petpets were lost. They know me."

     Glancing up from the paper, I met her eyes. "Tricky little gal, ain't ye? Insurance fraud is a pretty big step up from illegal Petpet sales."

     Her eyes twitched, but otherwise she showed nothing and kept her calm. Which just confirmed my conclusion, as from what I've seen from her character, she'd have jumped straight at me if she'd been innocent and I threw a claim like that at her. Or at least had her Lupe guards fire at me. As it was, the two still stood in the same spots taking up space.

     "Don't be ridiculous. Just look around, my Petpets are not here. Now just sign the paper certifying my Petpets were indeed stolen."

     I smirked and shook my head. "But they weren't, were they." It wasn't a question. By now I was sure. "Nice acting, but I see no evidence compensating your story and a mountain of proof, steadily growing, against it."

     "Sign the paper."

     "No."

     "Why?"

     "You really want to know?"

     "Yes."

     I sighed and cracked the joints in my paws directly under my retractable claws-what some would refer to as their 'knuckles'-in a way that absolutely drove all my friends and my owner crazy. "You won't be happy, but here goes." I took a deep breath.

     "Frankly, I've doubted you from the very beginning. You had no idea who I really was, you got angry much to easily, your story didn't check out, and your certificate doesn't fit the bill. Your bodyguards are too big, the frost cannons were completely unnecessary, these rooms are much too clean, and I'm fairly sure I heard a Petpet whistle." She stared, and I continued. "Besides, I've done some undercover, strictly confidential work for Jetsam Insurance, and happen to know they specialize in covering black-market items, and in handling the sort of people that come with that area."

     She growled. "Well, Ms. Know-It-All, how did I pick you?"

     I smirked, again-a habit that was becoming positively common lately. "I'm assuming Jetsam Insurance told you they wouldn't accept one of your claims unless I confirmed your loss and your absolute inability to retrieve any of the insured items-in this case your Petpets. Why else would you come back, with the muscle-Lupes, after I totally humiliated you, if not to exact revenge? Besides, I regularly handle claim checking for Jetsam Insurance and other similar companies. I know all about you and your type."

     Her slender fingers twitched and her bodyguards shifted their weight. "I should just frost you now and be done with it!" she yelled.

     "Oh, miss, you know very well that wouldn't solve a thing. Besides, you'd be stuck with a reasonably well-known frozen detective, melting by the second, nowhere to dump her, with the knowledge I'd be fine in less than a half-hour. Wockies are rather hot-blooded, you know."

     "So what do I do?!" she cried out in exasperation. "The cops nearly got me last week, so I can't continue smuggling Petpets like this, and all my money is in the little guys! I'm broke if I can't get the insurance, and no respectable banker would offer a loan to the likes of me! I can't even pay you to do anything for me!" She looked close to tears, which actually wasn't that surprising considering her apparently high emotional level. Her bodyguards blinked in surprise, obviously just learning that their boss was so close to broke.

     I frowned and drummed my fingers on my neck-ruff. It really was none of my business. Eventually, the Petpets would probably get good homes. With time the gal could find a job to earn enough NP to start another business, preferably a legal one, if she didn't try to rob the National Neopian in her desperation and get locked up for life.

     I looked down at my paws and absentmindedly detracted, then retracted my claws, waiting for a brilliant idea to fall into my brain, or for myself to get so bored I would just leave the whiney Kyrii to her own troubles.

     Then a small grating I'd been watching out of simple nosiness since I'd entered popped open. Incidentally, that one little grating was a lot more important then I'd have guessed. In short, there was instant pandemonium as Petpets of all sorts flew, ran, rolled, crawled, and pretty much virtually flooded through the grating. One Airax in particular flew right past my face and began circling the room before alighting on a perch.

     Looking back, I suppose the situation was quite comical. Ms. Kyrii yelped and jumped up in surprise that the Petpets had clearly escaped wherever she had been storing them The bozo Lupes, which, in case you can't tell, I didn't particularly take much account of, drew their frost cannons and started threatening the diverse Petpets with them. Definitely dropped on their heads as pups.

     Just because I wasn't really doing anything yet, I carefully gave the Airax a look-over. What I did know was that it was an incredibly intelligent Tyrannian bird Petpet, worth approximately 6,000 NP. But I'd never had the chance to firsthand observe the yellow talons, brown head and beak, and deep maroon wings, breast, and tail.

     I would never have thought the effect would be so oddly attractive.

     Then a weird thing happened, though you probably saw it coming. The Airax looked up and met my eyes. Behind it's two small black beady eyes flared an out-of-place fiery intellect and acknowledgement of life in general. Our eyes left the uncomfortable lock, and I had the unusual feeling that the Airax was eyeing me the same way I had it.

     And, for the first time in my life, I actually wondered what someone else thought of me. I'd never cared before, but at that moment I would've given my memo-briefcase to know what that Airax thought about me.

     The Kyrii gal coughed once, interrupting the spell, and I was abruptly brought back to Neopia. She looked at the Airax, then back at me. "Like her? Her name's Arya." She turned to the side for a second and motioned for her idiot muscle to put away their cannons before they accidentally froze the merchandise.

     I didn't answer. I'm a detective; I wait for people to continue-especially when I have strong intuitions as to what they're going to say next.

     She did. "I rarely see any Neopet hit it off with a Petpet right away like that. You two suit each other's personalities. Adventurous, daring, clever, proud."

     I still waited.

     "I'll give you Arya if you get me out of this mess. She's worth about the 6,000 I promised you anyway."

     I silently turned from her and watched the Airax, Arya. It must have understood basic Neopian, because it flew out to me. Almost subconsciously, I held out my right fore-paw (also known as an 'arm' to some) for her to land on. And she did.

     I turned back to the Kyrii. She was smiling, truly smiling, for the first time since I'd met her. I smiled myself, also a real non-sarcastic smile.

     "You've got yourself a deal." Arya jerked her head up and down once, as if approving of my decision, and hopped onto my shoulder.

     The Kyrii held out her paw. "I know you, but you don't know me. Ms. _Lady_Veronica_, pleased to meet your acquaintance, Detective Khargana." I shook her outstretched paw, a landmark moment between a pretty girl-snob and myself. The Lupes blinked in non-comprehension.

     Arya chirped happily and snuggled against my neck-ruffle. Veronica, as I chose to call her, continued. "You already have figured out most of the facts. So all I can do is wait for you to tell me what to do."

     I frowned thoughtfully and looked over the now 52 Petpets belonging to Veronica.

     "You could try legitimizing your business. If you make everything legal no one can shut you down."

     She frowned and fingered her left earring. "Hmmm. It'd be a sizeable drop in budget for me. But, as the Petpets themselves aren't stolen or anything, it shouldn't be too much of a problem. The problem is I don't think anyone would allow me…"

     I interrupted. "Jetsam Insurance, I still don't quite understand why, also handles small businesses just setting out or that have recently authenticated themselves. I'm sure you'd get a loan from them, then you could open a real shop and actually sell Petpets to the public, instead of what you were actually doing with these guys-I won't probe."

     "What about a legitimate business certificate? I can't pull off my fake one if I go real!"

     "Don't worry about that, Veronica. If you'll come with me to the Defenders Station you'll have one in no time flat."

     "The DEFENDERS?!?!"

     "You didn't know they handled business certificates? Anyway, don't worry about being arrested-I'm pals with their Chief. If you're with me, chances are those patrolmen are more likely to bow then snap on the cuffs." I chuckled, thinking about those silly no-rankers. "They find me intimidating."

     She smirked. "And you don't think you are?"

     I grinned, no doubt showing my pointy feline teeth. "Oh, I wouldn't say that at all."

     It was obvious she still couldn't figure me out, but she suddenly shook her head, laughing. She reached under the sofa, of all places, and pulled out a book on the care of Tyrannian bird Petpets. She tossed it at me and I caught it in my left paw.

     Still laughing she said, "You know, for the first time in months I feel like everything will be all right."

     I smiled and stroked the Airax on my shoulder. "Let's go," I said.

     Arya nodded in approval and we moved on, right after Lady Veronica had given orders for her Lupes to clean up the mess.

The End

Let me know what you think! I'm always open to opinions, unless they're 'excessively' negative or completely non-comprehensible. Thank you! Oh, and also feel free to contact me if for any reason you don't quite follow Khargana's logic.

 
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