Detective Spottedleaf and the Thief
My name is Spottedleaf Hunter. I am a private investigator.
Recently, I came to be involved in a case of theft at the National Neopian Bank. The vault of one Alexa Norber, an Aisha and a resident of Neopia Central, in possession of a fortune of over ten million Neopoints, was robbed. Security cameras revealed six Neopets to have been near the vault at the time: Nadi Roshal, a Shenkuuvian Draik; Sir Garaska, an Ixi from Meridell; Alexa Norber; the bank guard Thane Wanlot, Grundo; the Buzz Sergeant Brexis of the Neopian Defenders; and myself.
At exactly 3:17 PM NST, all suspects were near the scene of the crime. At that moment the security camera before Miss Norber's vault went blank. Thane Wanlot stated that he was alerted and made his way straight to the vault, where he found it empty. The six of us gathered in the empty vault and Brexis questioned his fellow suspects, but we all claimed to know nothing.
Sergeant Brexis had heard of me, naturally, and my prowess as a detective. Taking me aside, he asked if I could do anything to help him apprehend the criminal.
"Certainly," was my answer. "In fact, I think I can propound to you a solution in a matter of minutes!"
The Buzz stared at me in a mixture of surprise and incredulity, and despite my refusal to explain how I could do such, he agreed to let me attempt it.
And so, with an untested technique up my sleeve, I took the case, not only in the name of justice, but also in the name of clearing my own of the slightest suspicion.
I stood--or sat, perhaps, being a Hissi and hence without legs upon which to stand--in the center of the group, the others in a ring around me, and began: "As you all know, a rather large sum of money--specifically, ten million Neopoints--has been stolen from this National Neopian Bank vault in which we are. The six of us alone were near this vault at the time the Neopoints disappeared. This means that one of us must be the thief."
Sergeant Brexis nodded. "One of you stole the money," he said, "and Miss Thunder here claims she has a simple and easy way to discover which of you it was."
"Excuse me, sir, but I said the six of us. I do not allow that any one of us is innocent until one is proven guilty."
The Buzz frowned. "Oh--yes, of course."
"But surely I am not a suspect?" gasped Alexa.
"Nobody is innocent until one is proven guilty," I repeated coldly. "Now then, as I was saying, one of us is the thief, and I will now endeavor to determine whom.
"Let us begin with an examination of the suspects. Miss Nadi Roshal, a friend of Alexa's from Shenkuu. Ah, but what does that mean, 'friend'? So often one calls another a friend, when that one really despises that other. And sometimes, one friend may grow to dislike and resent the other without the other knowing it--perhaps without knowing it themselves. So the question is: is Nadi really Alexa's friend?"
"How absurd!" the Draik cried. "Of course we are friends!"
"Miss Thunder, I am certain that Nadi would have had nothing to do with this theft," Alexa put in.
"I will thank you to leave that up to me," I responded. "I have seen jealousies tear friendships apart before, often because of Neopoints and often culminating in crime. Now, I will also thank you not to interrupt me further. Where was I? Ah, yes. The next suspect, Sir Garaska of Meridell, owner of the vault beside Miss Norber's. A comparatively empty one. Was the knight tempted when, by chance, he discovered that the lock to this vault had been neglected?"
Garaska stamped his hoof. "Really, a knight of my stature--"
"Miss Alexa Norber," I continued, raising my soprano voice to cut across the Ixi's protest. "A Neopia Central local. The owner of the vault herself. Her money, I hear, was insured. If any was ever stolen, she stood to have the exact amount replaced. In this manner she could double an already vast fortune. A promising motive. But could she handle the camera?
"Mister Thane Wanlot, another resident of Neopia Central, and security guard at this bank. He's been on the job ten years, in fact. That's a long time. Might he have gotten tired of it? Being a Grundo, perhaps he had a technological knowledge large enough to deactivate the cameras--then again, maybe that's just a stereotype. Yet is it possible he decided it was finally time to resign from his job--with, perhaps, a fair fortune in his pockets to sustain his future?
"Sergeant Brexis of the Neopian Defenders. He's been a loyal hero of Neopia for many years--but how much does the job pay? As far as I know, it doesn't pay anything. His vault is on the side of Alexa's, opposite Nadi's. Money can be quite tempting, even for a hero. One such accomplished as himself would likely know what it would take to deactivate that security camera.
"And lastly we come to myself, Miss Spottedleaf Thunder, P.I. My own vault is across the hall from Miss Norber's, and I was making a withdrawal at a time when the crime might have been committed. Was it I who stole the Neopoints? The private detective business does not usually pay much. I'm no scientist, but I think I would have what it takes to neutralize a camera.
"There you have it. Those are our suspects. Any one of us might be guilty. And now I will uncover the thief. However, the particular method I use will only work with honest Neopets. This is very important. Are you all honest?
"Why, I am a knight of Meridell!" Sir Garaska exclaimed. "My honesty is unquestionable!"
"As a Neopian Defender, I assure you that I am an honest Neopet."
My fellow females, the Shenkuuvian Draik and the local Aisha, vouched for their own integrity.
I nodded. "Very well, then. I can guarantee my own veracity. Let us begin." With that, I held up six bits of straw, each half concealed behind my wing, to a circle of puzzled faces. "Six lengths of straw," I announced. "Five are even in length, but the sixth is longer. We will each draw one straw, and the Neopet with the longest straw is our thief."
Brexis laughed. "But that is incredible! It could not possibly work! How would that reveal the thief?"
"I learned this from a witch doctor on Mystery Island," I explained. "Using the same method, they determined a thief in a similar circumstance."
"I see." Brexis scoffed, "Magic. I thought you said you were a detective, not an enchantress."
"It may seem ridiculous, Sergeant, but I can assure you it will work. Please, all I ask is for you to cooperate a little longer."
Brexis shrugged. "Very well. I don't put any faith in this peculiar method of yours, however."
And with that, he plucked a straw from my wing. One by one, Alexa, Nadi, Garaska, and Thane did the same.
"That leaves me with--well, whatever it leaves me with." I raised one wing, exposing the full length of my straw clearly to the room. Brexis held his up to mine. They were the same.
"Well, that clears us," Brexis said, a note of derision in his voice.
"Come on now," I egged, "hold up your straws."
Slowly, the four remaining suspects raised their straws to compare them to the Sergeant's and mine. Only one straw was different. It was shorter than the rest.
"I--I don't get it," Miss Norber stuttered. "I thought the thief was supposed to have the longest straw? But they are all nearly the same--only one is shorter!"
"They were all the same," I explained triumphantly. "When I said one was longer, well, I was lying. When I said I learned this straw thing from a witch doctor, again I lied! I knew that, since we all claimed to be Neopets of our word, one of us had to be lying about stealing the Neopoints. And I knew that whoever was would most likely break their straw, because only a dishonest Neopet--especially one with a guilty conscience--would do that. And so with simple logic I have revealed our thief: Thane Wanlot!"
The Grundo looked about frantically like a trapped Tigermouse?. When Brexis took a step forward, Thane took to his heels. The clumsy thief was not watching where he was going, however, and tripped over my tail, which had somehow wormed its way into his path. In a moment the Neopian Defender had seized the criminal and bound his wrists in handcuffs.
"Fine!" Thane cried out in rebellious defeat. "So you've found me out! I stole the money! I was tired of patrolling the bank day in and day out! I wanted the money so I could retire to some nice foreign World! But I won't tell you where the Neopoints are! They're mine!"
"We will find the money, whether you help us or not," Brexis growled. "For your sake, however, I suggest you cooperate."
Thane's eyes twinkled. "Not likely!" he cackled. "You'll never find the Neopoints! And I'll never tell you where they are!"
"I am entirely apathetic," I responded. "I know exactly where the Neopoints are."
"Do you now?" the Grundo sneered.
"Indeed. It was a simple hiding place, really. You couldn't very easily sneak them out of the building; an unregistered withdrawal of such a large amount does not go unnoticed. Where to put them, then? It would have to be somewhere close by, a place from which you could easily retrieve them later. Or a place from which they could be removed inconspicuously and unawares by another? Why, where else--the trash!"
Wanlot cachinnated loudly--too loudly. As he spoke again with derision, I observed a hint of trepidation. "The trash! Well, you got me! I stuffed ten million Neopoints into a trash can. Brilliant, you are!"
"Oh, but you did indeed. You shrank them."
Thane froze. His face fell. I grinned.
"You have lost, thief," I announced. "Brexis, Miss Norber's Neopoints, along with a shrink ray, will be found in the nearest garbage bin."
Wanlot was taken away, and given a light sentence after he finally consented to return Miss Norber's Neopoints to her. As thanks for catching the thief, Alexa offered me a generous portion of her fortune, but I accepted no more than my usual sleuthing fee.
And so I returned home--leaving my own vault at the Neopian Bank slightly fuller--to file this new mystery away along with all the others I had solved. It was just another case closed by Spottedleaf Thunder, P.I.
? The End ?
I would love to hear your thoughts on my story! Also, Spottedleaf_789 can be found on my side, Thunderclan_tomcat.