Hyperion: The Tear
“I want you to have this,” Judge Hog announced as he slid a small metal thing across the glossed wooden surface of the mission room’s table.
Hyperion reached out, his green hand shaking as he lifted the equipment from the table with both intrigue and nervousness. “What is it?” the Shoyru asked with wonder, turning it over in his hands.
Judge Hog grinned. He said, “It’s a telespeaker.”
“A ‘telespeaker’?” Hyperion wondered aloud, turning the thing over again.
“Yes,” the robust Moehog answered with a large smile. “It’s enchanted with pretty potent Faerie magic and can do some pretty awesome things.”
“Magic?” the Shoyru said, staring at the metal with sudden uncertainty.
“Normally, we import our equipment from Virtupets, though the prospect of magic allows for more possibilities with less space. It’s quite helpful with smaller things such as these.
“Which brings me,” he added, “to what they actually do.”
“What do they actually do?” Hyperion asked.
Judge Hog sighed. “I was getting to that.” He frowned for a moment, then continued. “The system itself can do some pretty amazing stuff, but for now, it’s only enchanted with the magics necessary for audio and visual communication. Why not flip it open and have a look for yourself?”
Hyperion smiled. He looked closer and saw that, in fact, the telespeaker could be flipped open, and so he did so. Each piece of machine was about the size and shape of a playing card, albeit a few times thicker than that; they met at a seemingly unseen hinge at their respective tops and bottoms. Strangely, though, the insides were as plain as the outsides.
“Rub the bottom,” Judge Hog instructed, “and think of someone.”
The green Shoyru took a breath and thought of his sister, waiting back in their room. He rubbed the bottom piece. A light sparkled across the top half and formed the words, “connection unavailable.”
Looking up at his superior, he said, “It’s not working.”
“Who did you try to contact?”
“Of course,” Judge Hog said with a smile. “She doesn’t have one yet, so she can’t be reached by one. I have hers put away; you can take it to her later today before you leave.”
“What?” Hyperion spat, suddenly unconcerned with the telespeaker in his hands. “Leaving? I’m leaving?”
The Moehog at the opposite end of the table smiled. “Of course,” he said with a grin. “I’m assigning you your first mission as a Defender. That’s why, of course, you needed the telespeaker.”
“I’ve got a mission...?” the Shoyru whispered, suddenly both excited and anxious.
“Of course,” his superior answered. “You’ve been training with us for a week already and after your escape from the Secret Laboratory, I have confidence in your ability to be assigned so soon.”
Hyperion smiled, but couldn’t muster any words to say.
“You’ll be going to Meridell,” Judge Hog continued, “to investigate the disappearance of Lady Valentina Witherwaters’ most-prized possession, a diamond and sapphire necklace, estimated at a worth of three-dozen million neopoints. She suspects that the Pant Devil, and a few of her neighbors, may be involved with the theft.”
“What am I supposed to do?” Hyperion stuttered, his voice a mere whisper now.
“Talk around, look around, get a feel for the case. Investigate. Interview. Gather suspects, evidence. Report back to me if you think you’ve found something or need assistance. It’s a standard, run-of-the-Meepit case, really; we get hundreds of them each day.”
Hyperion blinked, almost feeling downtrodden now.
“Of course,” the Moehog added with exuberance, “each case is deserving of the most-able investigators, especially when dealing with something of this worth. That is why, Hyperion, I have chosen you to do this.”
The Shoyru smiled.
“You should go pack now, ready yourself to leave by this afternoon.”
“I have made arrangements already for your stay in a small inn in Meridell. All the information is being sent to your room as we speak.” He stood up. “I bid you good fortune, Hyperion, and I expect a full report when you come back.”
Hyperion stood as well, nodding. “Yes, sir; thank you, sir,” he said with a bow before quickly scuttling out of the room.
* * *
“When are you going to be back?” Anthea whispered, sitting on the corner of Hyperion’s bed.
“I don’t know,” he answered honestly as he folded a few more shirts and stuffed them into his leather-brown knapsack. “But it shouldn’t be more than a few days, I suppose.”
He turned around and looked down at his sister. “You’ll be okay without me, right?”
The brown Gelert mustered a small smile. “I think so,” she said. “I have to be, because if you’re going to be a Defender now, you’re going to be going on missions often...” She whimpered slightly.
“I’ll be okay,” he answered his sister, affirming what she had not yet asked.
She smiled. “See you soon, Hyperion?”
He smiled, too. “Of course.” He pulled the string tight around the opening of his knapsack and fed it through its fastener before lifting the bag and swinging it over his shoulder, letting it come to a rest between his wings.
“I’ll be alright, Anthea,” he said again as he stepped towards the door. “I’ll be alright.”
* * *
Hyperion’s wings beat across the sky. The fields far beneath him ran as swiftly as the wind, as swiftly as he was flying over them. Barrel-rolling through the clouds, he let out a raw laugh as he sped through the sky. It had been a while since he had last felt such freedom for his wings.
He put his hands together, summoning a bit of air as he would a shield. But instead of wrapping it around him, he centered the force around his hands. Punching through the clouds, he reveled in how flawlessly his idea had been executed. He wasn’t quite sure if he’d ever need the technique, but simply being able to practice his Faerie magic in flight was a treat. After all, with training with the Defenders, he hadn’t had much time for it.
He spread his wings and caught a nearby updraft, gliding over it with a bit of rest for wings. Beneath him, the fields abruptly ended and made way for the ocean. He felt slightly unsettled gliding over the churning, dark-blue waters of the gulf, yet nevertheless, he had flown further over open water before and already this water was paling as he neared the peninsula of Meridell.
As the water was replaced with land, stone castles rose out of the fertile, green earth in the distance. To the north, the farms of Meri Acres stretched out longingly, waiting to sprout a new crop to reap. Before them both, the suburbs of the city ran with houses upon glorious houses scattered here and there. This was where he was going today.
Landing on a well-packed dirt road, Hyperion began his trek through the forested streets of outer Meridell. It wasn’t long before he found the wealthy quarters. Then, it was only a short while before he was walking up the cobblestone path to Valentina Witherwaters’ front door.
He banged the door-banger a few times and stepped back.
The door swung open a moment later and an upright, regal blue Blumaroo stood before him in a neat suit perfectly tailored to fit his unique form. “Who,” he said, leering at the dusty-from-flight Shoyru, “are you?”
“I’m here from the Defenders,” Hyperion answered as powerfully as he could.
“Very well then,” the Blumaroo answered and stepped aside for the Shoyru to enter. When he did so, he was instantly taken aback at how bright the room was inside. Shimmering chandeliers hung far overhead and draped auroras down upon him; the walls were studded with deep-sea pearls that glowed in the chandeliers’ ethereal light. The floors were of ornate white stone tiles and what furniture there was in the house was of pure-white wood that simply glistened.
“Come this way,” he was instructed and followed the Blumaroo into another room. A particularly large and blue Gnorbu in a tight pink dress sat upon a couch that could only barely hold her weight. Motioning to his master, the Blumaroo said, “This is Lady Valentina Witherwaters.
“Milady,” he added, “this is...”
“Yes,” the butler sneered at the Shoyru, “this is Hyperion, from the Defenders of Neopia. I suspect he is here to assist in the retrieval of Old Lady Witherrivers’ Tear.”
“Yes,” Hyperion said, “I am.”
The butler’s nostrils flared. He said, “Have a seat.” He turned to his master. “I shall return if I am summoned.” He bowed, stood erect, and promptly left the room.
“Hyperion,” Lady Witherwaters wailed, her voice comparable to nails being dragged across a chalkboard, “it is a pleasure to meet you.” Her plump face managed a smile somehow. “I hope you can get my great-great-great-great--” Hyperion yawned as another dozen or so prefixes were added, “grandmother’s Tear back.”
“Her... Tear?” Hyperion said, intrigued, as he pulled a small notepad and a pencil out of his knapsack and began writing this down.
“Yes,” Valentina bellowed, “her Tear. It is a large sapphire the size of a small boulder. Her husband, may he, too, rest in peace, gave it to her upon their wedding day. Over the generations, three-and-a-half quarter dozen diamonds have been hung around it on its pure-gold chain. It has been passed down from daughter to daughter for generations. It is a priceless heirloom worth an estimated three-dozen million neopoints.”
Hyperion sighed, saddened by the loss. “As is procedure,” he said, “I’ll have to ask you a few questions.”
Hyperion began, “When did you notice the Tear was missing?”
“I noticed it was missing this morning. I wear it around my neck all the time and take it off only to bathe, and after my morning bath this morning, I found it missing, stolen from my stand! I was devastated, I tell you, sheerly devastated.” She blinked her dry eyes profusely, as if trying to hold back sobs. “I, of course, immediately contacted the Defenders of Neopia with an urgent Neomail delivered by messenger Whooters.”
“Do you have any enemies...” the Shoyru pressed, “or anyone who might wish to steal the necklace?”
Lady Witherwaters’ face became enraged. “Enemies? I daresay I have none, but surely I have a horde of neighbors who would no sooner steal my precious than withdraw their bank interest. Everyone is jealous of it; everyone knows how much it’s worth.” She sniffled. “But the money isn’t even a matter,” she wailed, “it’s... priceless to me.”
“I was told you also suspected the Pant Devil might be involved...?”
“Of course! I am nearly certain one of my lawless neighbors hired the fiend to steal it.”
“I see...” Hyperion whispered before following up with a few more questions until it was time that he had to leave at. The Blumaroo butler led him unhappily to the door and bid him a kind time away with a sneer and a slam of the door behind him.
* * *
“Are you and Lady Witherwaters on good terms?” Hyperion asked the morning after next.
Sir Reginald Burt scoffed, waving his half-full teacup around in wild laughter. “Good terms?” he jeered. “My boy, if Witherwaters even knew the meaning of the word good, this neighborhood would be three watts brighter!” He sipped lightly from the brim of his teacup, still chuckling with good humor.
Hyperion sighed. He had already met with two other neighbors of Lady Witherwaters’ and this interview seemed to be as if it were going to be of the same use as the others, and that was none. It also seemed, of course, that none of her neighbors cared much for the monstrosity of a Gnorbu named Valentina.
Nevertheless, the Shoyru asked, “Would you have any reason to steal the Tear?”
The dark-green Bruce twitched at this, as if he were appalled. He set down his teacup and brushed a few crumbs from his deep-purple suit that were left over from the tea biscuit he had finished a moment before. “I, sir,” he said flatly, “am not a thief, and if you so desire to accuse me of stealing anything, I should ask you straight out to leave me now and bother me no further.”
Hyperion nodded and smiled somewhat sheepishly. “Of course, Sir Burt.” He scribbled down one last thing in his notepad and stood up abruptly. “If I have any further questions, I shall likely return.”
The Bruce clicked his beak at him, but said nothing else as Hyperion showed himself to the door.
* * *
“Her butler,” a pink Aisha snarled, “is a creep. She might adore him, I know, but he is just so... strange, if you take what I mean.” The pink princess before him stuffed her mouth full with another handful of gourmet snacking nuts fresh from the boughs of exotic trees and imported by special order only; they were her favorite, she had made known earlier.
“Anyways,” Miss Apshire added, wiping her face with the back of her silken sleeve, “she’d likely do anything for a few more neopoints. She’s probably the richest of us here in Meridell and I am sure she’s just looking for an excuse to get out of here. Unfortunately for her, I doubt she’d even fit through her own front door.” She reached out once more for the bowl of snacking nuts and Hyperion looked away.
“Thank you,” Hyperion said as he wrote down a few choice words neatly in his notepad and looked back up at his interviewee, thankful that she had taken a breather from snacking in his sight. “Do you know who might be interested in stealing the Tear?”
The Aisha laughed. “I hardly think anyone would want it. First of all, rumor has it that those jewels aren’t even real and that Lady Witherwaters simply paid off the appraisal person to say it was worth so much. Second, and probably more important, who would want anything from that woman? She’s such a rich snob.”
Hyperion had little to say in response to that. He mustered, however, another question pending to be asked. “Do you know of any...?” His voice trailed off as the Aisha’s paw swept through the air and transported a fresh handful of nuts to her mouth.
“Yes?” Miss Apshire said, bits of half-chewed snack falling past her lips and onto her stained, white dress.
“Oh, nothing,” the Shoyru quickly said. “I think that shall be all for now. I’ll... come back for further questioning if I find it is needed.” He stood up quite abruptly, immediately turning away from the grotesque scene before him.
As he sped towards the door, the Aisha said, “Have a nice day, Hyperion.” He didn’t even want to wonder how many nuts she had lost while saying that.
* * *
“I just can’t figure it out, Anthea,” he said into his telespeaker.
Anthea smiled weakly back at him, her chocolate-brown face portrayed flawlessly upon the upper piece of the enchanted tool. “Well, I can’t make much sense of it, either.”
“I know,” Hyperion sighed, exasperated. “I’ve tried looking at it from every angle I can think of. I figured that last night, looking over the first day of interviewing her neighbors, I’d be able to start putting something together, but I wasn’t able to. And tonight, with all of her immediate neighbors interviewed, I’m no closer to solving anything.”
“Maybe you should contact Judge Hog...?” Anthea feebly suggested.
Hyperion looked away, the plain, earthy-grey tones of his room at the inn for a moment more soothing than the face of his own darling sister. “I just...” he whispered weakly, “want to do this on my own. Judge Hog put a lot of faith in me, and I don’t want to let him down on my first mission...” He hid a whimper and wiped away a tear before Anthea could see it.
“Brother,” she said, “after how many pets you saved from the Secret Laboratory, I highly doubt asking for assistance would let down Judge Hog.”
“But,” Hyperion protested, “after doing that, I should be able to do something as simple as this! Anthea, he said this was a run-of-the-Meepit case and that they got hundreds of cases like these each day. So... if I can’t handle just one...” he looked away again before he finished his sentence, “how could I ever be a real Defender...?”
The Gelert was silent as she let her brother’s face drift back to her. This time, however, he didn’t hide the small tears gathering beneath his eyes. “Anthea,” he whispered, “I don’t want to let you down. I can’t fail, or else... maybe the Defenders won’t keep us...”
It was Anthea’s turn to look away now. “Hyperion, you could never let me down...” There was silence again, the sound somber and stiffening. “Hyperion,” she said again, turning back to face him, “I know you can do this.” A single, wet tear gathered on the brim of her left eye and rolled down her brown fur.
“That’s it,” Hyperion gasped, jumping up.
“What’s it?” Anthea echoed, glancing around as if something were behind her.
“I think,” the Shoyru pondered aloud, “I think I just figured out who stole the Tear.” Anthea’s face lit up with wonder. “I... I have to go now, Anthea, but I’ll be home soon, I promise!”
“Oh, Hyperion,” she cried, “I’m so excited.” With a large smile, she added, “I love you, Brother.”
“I love you, too, Sister,” he announced with glee before he snapped the telespeaker shut.
He turned back to his desk in the room and flipped through his notepad with feverish delight, searching for the very things that he needed to close the case.
Sir Burt had mentioned that Lady Witherwaters was on good terms with no one, and on multiple occasions Miss Apshire had made it a point to state how selfish her neighbor was before she herself would fondly praise her own greed. Both of Lady Witherwaters’ other two neighbors had echoed the facts that she would do anything for attention and that it was unknown whether or not the Tear truly was a family heirloom.
And just now, whilst speaking to Anthea, he had put it all together.
* * *
“Lady Witherwaters,” Hyperion averred before her royal rotundness come sunrise the next morning, “I believe I have figured out who stole your Tear.”
The Gnorbu’s face was lit up with hope. “Oh, Hyperion,” she wailed, “who took it? Who stole my precious heirloom?”
Hyperion sat up straighter and took a deep breath. He hoped that the words that were to come from his mouth would not be so great as to tarnish his reputation, what little of one he actually had.
At last, he said, “I do believe your butler stole it.”
Witherwaters’ eyes widened in shock. “Percy?” she gasped. “I... I can’t think such a thought. Why... why would he do such a thing?”
The Blumaroo, having heard his name be called, was now standing in the room. His right eye was cocked in disdain at the Shoyru sitting opposite his master.
Once more fortifying his defenses with an intake of air, Hyperion announced, “Because you, Lady Valentina Witherwaters, instructed him to.”
“Such insolence,” Percy shouted, his voice a sharp pierce through the air. “I have never heard someone speak so ill of my master!”
“Percy, now, calm down,” the Gnorbu mustered amid her own shock, “I am certain that this can be explained.” She ruffled the fringes of her gown, which was today an off shade of green that reminded Hyperion of something oddly sick-like. “Now, Hyperion, I do assume you will explain yourself?”
“Of course,” the Shoyru said, feeling his pulse quicken with each passing second. “It was quite a simple conclusion, really, once I knew what I was looking for. You see, Lady Witherwaters, I found that each of your neighbors made certain statements about both you and the Tear that were of certain interest to the investigation. By doing some research in the Defenders of Neopia case archives, I was able to find numerous past requests of service made by none other than yourself, Lady Witherwaters. In researching these claims, and the claims of quite a few of your neighbors that I had found as well, I was able to put together an educated idea of what has happened to your necklace.
“And that, I’m afraid, is that you stole it yourself.”
“Well,” the Gnorbu sputtered, “I have never, never before been so insulted in my life!”
“I still do not,” Percy continued angrily, “see how our past needs and those of our neighbors could so influence your conclusion when, quite clearly, we are not in possession of the Tear.”
“That, too, is quite simple,” Hyperion said with a grin. “You see, Percy, if the Tear truly was of worth to Lady Witherwaters, and it truly had been stolen, she would have been in tears when recounting its theft to me. But she was not. And so, I can conclude, she has had it this entire time.”
Hyperion stood up and was met only with wide-eyed stares and snarls of angered dispositions of the rich and not-so-famous. When the Shoyru turned to leave, he was met only with silence. As he stepped out of the door, he felt quite assured that the Defenders wouldn’t be troubled with this wealthy hindrance for quite some time.
* * *
“So Judge Hog really was pleased?” Anthea questioned of her brother that night as he finished the last bits of his required paperwork in the last moments of his candle’s light.
“Yeah,” Hyperion said excitedly, looking into his sister’s gleeful eyes, “he said he’d never before seen a new recruit so quickly solve a case like that. He said he was surprised I hadn’t called him for assistance. But I told him, I told him that I did have assistance.”
The Gelert before him tilted her head in confusion. “What did you tell him?”
“I told him my sister helped me put it all together,” he said proudly.
“What?” Anthea asked with amazement. “I... I did?”
“Of course you did,” Hyperion answered. “You see, Anthea, when you shed that single tear, it made me remember that Lady Witherwaters hadn’t acted even the least bit saddened when she was telling me about the necklace, and it was because of that that I wondered if she maybe still had it, so that was when I called Judge Hog to request the Defenders archives. He quickly got me the files himself and read them to me. Then, I knew exactly what had happened.”
Anthea smiled widely. “Hyperion, you’re so amazing.”
Hyperion smiled, too. “I wouldn’t be so amazing without you, Anthea; I wouldn’t be amazing at all.”