Lupe Pack Detectives-Counterfeit: Part Three
Despite the fact that we had managed to shut down the illegal operation, the investigation was not yet fully closed as we still had a suspect to pursue, even with the evidence collected. Stopping the printing in Neovia only provided a temporary solution as we knew that Neopian would just continue his or her revenge against the university if he or she was not stopped.
As I had mentioned to my siblings just after we were finished cleaning the dishes, I went back to Brightvale to follow up on a lead, more specifically, with Professor Lambert. That did not mean that they had nothing to do as Aura did mention before I departed that they were going to check the Magical Bookshop and the Neopian School Supplies for some possible leads. I knew it was the paper used to print the fake degrees, based on the information given to us by the laboratory up at Virtupets, given how Aura loved to review the clues given to us.
"Ah, Blizzard, I just received a Neomail from the owner of the Neovian Printing Press with her apologies. I take it that you and your siblings had a hand in that illegal operation shutdown," Professor Lambert said after I arrived at his office.
"That would be correct, Professor. With that illegal operation there shut down, it should significantly reduce the amount of fake degrees circulating, but that's not what I'm here for. You did say in your letter that you wanted swift justice served and I want to make sure that happens. This investigation isn't over yet, not by a long shot." At that point, I took out the copy of Nimbus' article and showed it to him.
"What you see here is an article not yet published in the Neopian Times, more specifically, about the fake degrees. What's noticeable is that it mentions that your signature was forged with a high amount of accuracy. If the degrees weren't misspelled in various places, it would have passed as an authentic one, possibly turning this into a bigger mess." After showing that to him, I noticed the troubled look on his face, but allowed me to continue.
"We have reason to believe that this Neopian, at one point, had access to the degrees, hence why your signature was easily replicated. We also believe that this Neopian has a grudge against the university, more specifically, against you in particular. I know this is going to be a stretch, considering your role in the Obelisk Skirmishes, but can you think of anyone that would have a grudge like that?"
He began to think for a few minutes by placing one of his hands over his mouth before getting up from his desk and headed to one of the filing cabinets, sorting through it and trying to find whatever he was looking for. He must have found what he was looking for as he came back with a large folder filled with reports. Wondering what the purpose was, I took one off the stack and attempted to read it, only to find it confusing, owing to some of the unknown words used in the reports.
"They're philosophy thesis reports, in case you're wondering. I don't expect you to understand it, but all of them were written, actually, plagiarized, by the same Neopian. All of the reports were previously done by other philosophers and scholars." I looked at the cover page and saw the name, a Professor Sigmund Watts.
Unfortunately, before I could ask Professor Lambert about Professor Watts, he had a class to attend to. I was frustrated, but I then realized that I did not necessarily have to ask him specifically. Seeing as Professor Watts probably worked at the university at one point, he had to interact with the other professors here.
As I wandered around the university and began interviewing the various professors that I came across, a composite picture of Professor Watts began to emerge, and they were not favourable. Based on the results that I had received, it seemed like the professor was an arrogant jerk, for a Glowing Moehog. He constantly insulted the rest of the staff in various ways over their simple-mindedness, but they simply ignored it. However, it did leave me wondering who spilled the beans on the plagiarism, so I continued asking around.
As it turned out, it was Sandro the Smug Philosopher who noted the plagiarism from various books and immediately reported it to Professor Lambert. With the information given, it seemed like Professor Watts thought the other professors had ganged up on him in order to get him removed from the university and that the firing due to plagiarism was a cover up. I wanted to confirm that with Professor Lambert as he had been the one who made that tough decision to fire Professor Watts.
I ended up surprising Professor Lambert outside his office as he had thought that I had been patiently waiting for him to return from his classes, which was not the case after I explained to him what I had been doing. As soon as he unlocked the door, he told me that he had no more classes to teach for the rest of the day, which made me happy as I was not too keen on staying overnight in Brightvale just so I could talk to the professor whenever we had the chance.
"As expected, he was in denial, and, yes, Professor Watts did accuse me of conspiring with the rest of the professors after I informed him of his termination over the plagiarism. I will admit, while he was here, he frequently clashed with students and coworkers, myself included, that there were times it felt like he was in charge. I guess his arrogance over being a philosophy 'expert' ended up being his downfall," he told me after I asked him about Professor Watts' reaction. That was all that I needed, so I thanked him for his time.
It was a couple of hours later before I returned home, mainly due to the travel. As soon as I arrived, I noticed a Royalboy Usul standing outside the front door, almost as if he was waiting for someone. I assumed that my siblings were still out investigating, but I recognized the Usul as a fellow detective with the Royal Detectives, Squire Oak. As I came up to him, I asked him what brought him to my Neohome today, startling him in the process before he turned around.
"Oh, I didn't expect you by yourself, Blizzard. Anyways, I think I may have something that's related to your current investigation on the counterfeit Brightvale University degrees." I was surprised to hear that his team was also investigating counterfeits, so I unlocked the door and allowed him to enter, knowing that his information was either important or vital to our investigation.
"A couple of hours ago, our family busted up a forgery/counterfeit ring near the warehouse docks, thanks to a tip. Among the forged items were books and scrolls from Brightvale. When we unravelled a sample of the scrolls, we found out that they were degrees from the university," he replied as soon as we entered the living room and took a seat. At that point, I politely held up one of my hands and stopped him from continuing any further as I asked him how in Neopia he and his team found out about our investigation when it had not been reported in the Neopian Times.
"Oh right, I forgot about that. Actually, the manager there, a Shadow Gelert, named you indirectly through an insult when he spoke about being caught for a previous round of forgery. I believe he used 'the Doglefoxes of the DoN'." I grimaced upon hearing that derogatory term.
"That moniker could apply to any of the detective agencies, Squire. However, since Doglefoxes do resemble Lupes, in a way, I could see why, but we're not 'slaves', for a lack of a better word, if that's what the Gelert was implying. Of course, he doesn't know that Aura is a former Petpet Park League agent, but she still won't be happy to hear that insult. Anyways, Squire, please continue with your report."
"Most of the forged Brightvale books were various words of wisdom from King Hagan, but riddled with spelling errors. I think our forgers have no idea of what they were doing, hence the numerous spelling errors, but I also believe that the mastermind behind this simply gave them verbal instructions and expected them to know how to spell those words."
"That definitely falls in line with the counterfeit degrees that both the Brightvale DoN and our team have discovered. I'm not surprised that the books using King Hagen's words of wisdom were forged, considering that our primary suspect does have a philosophy degree." I had thought about telling the good squire that the suspect was a former professor with the university, but quickly decided against it for various reasons. Somehow, he understood.
"Ouch, that's rotten luck, Blizzard. Philosophy majors are a massive pain in the neck to deal with, given the wealth of knowledge that they can use against you, if you don't play your cards right. I know this, thanks to my previous experiences with them while my family and I were living in Brightvale."
At that point, I could hear the front door opening, meaning that my siblings were home from investigating the lead up at the Neopian Book Shop and/or the Neopian School Supplies. When they saw me with the squire, they were not surprised to see him. I suspected that the rest of the Royal Detectives had already informed my siblings about the latest development.
Even though I already knew about the forged books, thanks to the squire, my siblings still told me what they had found while interviewing the owners of the Magical Book Shop and the Neopian School Supplies. When they were finished, it was my turn to tell them what I had found out while I was in Brightvale.
"Wow, with that information, it makes me wonder why Professor Watts didn't think of challenging the firing instead of resorting to lowball dirty tactics like forgery just so that he can have his job back despite the mounting evidence against him, if that's what he was going for. In my opinion, that's not a smart move," Solar Flare drily replied. I agreed.
"Seems like his lust for revenge over his 'wrongful dismissal' has severely clouded his judgement. Anyways, everyone did a great job today, so get some rest. We need to be ready for the imminent arrest."
To be continued...