Janet and Jane: The Case of the Framed Detectives
"How could someone possibly look so much like you?" Natia asked with no regard for volume.
"I have no idea," I replied. "But whoever did it did a good job."
"Why would anyone want to look like you?"
"Well, before Barry went crazy in front of Corbin and I, he mentioned that someone would want revenge on us. Does that make any sense?"
"Yeah, I get it. I would really hate to meet any of them again."
"I would, too." I let out a sigh. "Just in case, you might want to disguise yourself until everything's back to normal. You know, different look, maybe an alias."
"I will." The Aisha grabbed a nearby hat, put it on, and put two of her ears in it. It was covering the red triangle in the middle of her forehead. She looked a lot like a regular green Aisha. "How's this?"
I smiled. With a little work, I thought she would be able to pull that off. "It'll do."
"Awesome. So do you think Corbin's done explaining everything to everyone else?"
"One way to find out."
When I came back to the base, Corbin was already here (I was glad that he made it back with no problem) and was explaining some of the commotion that went on. Natia, being Natia, was confused. I decided to pull her aside and explain what went on. Maybe it was everyone's imput or how Corbin was explaining it, but when I told the story to Natia in private, she understood it.
The two of us walked back to everyone to see that almost everyone left (it was pretty late). Only Mae, Xavier, and Jonah were still around. They were talking about something, but when the two of us entered the room, they went very quiet very fast. Well that was unsettling.
"So how'd you guys do with figuring out this mess?" I asked to break the silence.
"Well, Xavier and I managed to talk to the Bank Manager Skeith," Mae responded. "All he said that Jane came in and took the money. Sounds like just any other bank robbery."
"Yes, true, but did he mention what time the robbery was?" I pulled out a notepad. "That might help."
"The only thing that even related to time was it was night. I don't see how that can help us that much," Xavier chimed in. "How can that possibly help?"
"Well, the robbery took place on Thursday." I began to pace the room. "I don't remember seeing Jane at night, but we had a tiring day. She almost fell asleep on the way to her house. I don't think that she would have the energy to rob the bank. Let alone walk to it."
"I don't see how that can prove that she didn't steal anything." The Vandagyre stood up. "Even if you're right, that's nothing compared to the possible hundreds of Neopets who saw what they believed was Jane."
"I guess, but it's a start."
"Oh, that reminds me. I found something out that might help out," Jonah said.
"What is it?" Natia asked.
Jonah looked around first to make sure that nobody was listening (like anyone was). He then said softly, "Have you ever thought of the possibility of hypnosis?"
It wasn't a possibility that I thought of, but it did make sense. Believe it or not, Jane, Natia, and I did deal with a Neopet who knew how to put others into hypnosis (which was how we met Xavier and Mae). If he was behind all of this, it would explain how Neopets saw Jane robbing the bank. What wouldn't be explained, however, would be how a Neopet who looked and sounded exactly like me robbed somewhere else.
"Well, it's not impossible," I replied. "Why, what'd you find out?"
"I looked around the police station a little," he answered. This really didn't surprise me. Who would spot a ghost? "This hypnotist recently got out of jail. Ever heard of some Blumaroo called Shadow?"
Mae, Xavier, Natia, and I turned as pale as snow. That happened to be the Neopet that we dealt with. Yeah, that wasn't good. First Barry, now this? This case was getting very frustrating very fast.
"So I guess you heard of him?" the Ixi asked.
"You could say that," I replied. "We'll explain tomorrow. It's pretty late."
Day two in the "Prove Jane and I innocent" case. I was walking around Neopia Central in my skunk Kacheek disguise. Jonah was around somewhere, but I couldn't tell where he was (he was watching me while he was invisible). Otherwise, I was alone.
I decided to check out the Collectable Coins shop. From what I saw yesterday, I assumed that the store that was robbed. Maybe the Skeith in charge saw something strange or something like that. If not, I could look around the store and check for any clues. That sounded like a good plan.
The Collectable Coins shop was open, but nobody but the Skeith was inside. Maybe everyone was afraid of coming back in here. All the coins that were taken had been returned and are now on the shelves. The Skeith himself seemed a little shaken up (which was understandable. I have seen worse).
"Hello," I said kindly. The shopkeeper relaxed a little. "How are you today?"
The Skeith actually smiled. He said, "I've been better. Things haven't been going well for me lately."
"Same for me." I walked to the counter that he was behind and admired the coins. They shined under the fluorescent lights. "Are these new?"
"Yes. I received them a few days ago."
I examined one coin. It looked like it had a dent in it. pointed to it and said, "I think this one has a dent in it."
The Skeith picked up the coin and studied it. "It appears so. Shame, this one was worth a good sum of Neopoints." He puts the coin under his counter.
"You said that these were new. How come it has a dent?"
"Probably because of what happened yesterday."
So this was the place where that faker stole from. Good, I was in the right place. "I heard about that. Do you know anyone who would steal from your store?"
The shopkeeper shook his head. "Some of my coins are very rare, but I don't know anyone who would try to steal anyone. Besides, I never saw that Kacheek who robbed me before."
"What happened to her?"
"She ran off. I think she ran into a couple Neopets and dropped the Neopoints and coins she took. I don't see why she would just drop them." The Skeith put on a jacket. "At least they were recovered."
"You going anywhere?" I asked.
"Nah. It's just a little cold. It was warm in here earlier, though."
Ah, so Jonah was in here with me. I thought he would be looking around outside. I didn't mind, though. He wasn't bugging me. The worst he was doing was making the store a little chilly. Big deal. There weren't many Neopets in here, anyway.
"I see. It did get a little chilly pretty quick." I began to walk away from the Skeith. "It was nice talking to you."
"Wait, weren't you going to buy something?"
I suppose I could spare a few Neopoints for a coin. I walked back to the counter and said, "I guess I could buy something. How about that dented coin?"
The Skeith went under the counter and took out the coin. "It's not worth as much anymore. Will you take it for 3,000 Neopoints?"
I took out the Neopoints and put them on the countertop. "I'll take it."
The two of us swapped the Neopoints and the coin. After the dented coin was in my possesion, I left the store. I put the coin into my pocket. Now I could look around the store. Hopefully, there would be something that could be helpful.
Jonah appeared in front of me. Good thing there was nobody around. He said, "I thought you said that you weren't going to go shopping."
"I wasn't planning on it," I informed. I took out the coin and looked at it. It was a Smiling Space Faerie coin. The dent made her look like she has a scar on her forehead. "Nobody would buy a dented coin, anyway."
"You bought a dented coin."
I rolled my eyes. "Well if I didn't, who would?"
Somehow, the two of us walked into the woods where J2 was located. I guess we could take a little break at the base. It was almost the time of day when everybody was out, anyway. It'd be easier to investigate with nobody around and we needed somewhere safe where we could wait.
"Janet, your makeup's running," Jonah pointed out.
"It is?" I asked. I ran over to the pond that I was at yesterday and looked at the reflection. There were streaks of white running down my face. "Good thing I have the compact with me." I spashed my face with water to get rid of the ruined makeup and applied more of it. "And when I'm wearing it, please call me Talia."
"That's my alias until we figure this thing out." I finished my makeup and walked away from the pond. "It's better than being called Janet and someone smart figuring out who I am."
"I understand." The ghost Ixi floated next to me. "Are you sure it's a good idea to be figuring this out while you're blamed for one robbery yourself?"
"I've been in worse situations."
"Why don't you go to the police? You're a detective, they know you wouldn't do that."
I sighed a heavy sigh. "The police and J2 don't get along that well. Partly because J2 takes some of their cases. Partly because I have a tendency to mouth off at them."
Jonah chuckled. Neither of us talked much after that. It was strangely silent for a while. Only the sound of my footsteps (Jonah didn't really have footsteps - he just floated in the air). A slight breeze blew by, causing some rustling in the trees. Though when the breeze stopped, some rustling continued. Jonah and I looked where the rustling was coming from, which was a shaking bush. Why was it shaking?
I had the feeling we were watched.
"Just quietly move on. I don't think we're alone," I said in a hushed tone.
Jonah vanished as a response. Alright, I guess if he was quieter like that, he could do that. I just went on with my walk to base. The rustling didn't seem to get farther away, though. It seemed to follow me. I began to pick up the pace. It got closer to me the faster I went.
Oh no. It was Shadow!
I went into a full sprint after he finished his sentence. There was no need to turn around to see the Blumaroo chasing me. He was faster than me the last time I saw him and I was positive that he did some training since then. Now would be a good time for a plan (which of course I did not have). i really needed to think of some escape plans in case this type of thing ever happened again.
Shadow grabbed my wrist and pinned it to a tree. I looked into his eyes with my own. He didn't look that mad (then again, it was hard to tell since he always had that scarf thing around his face), but he didn't look happy either. I wondered what was on his mind, but it was most likely that revenge thing Barry was talking about yesterday.
Jonah grabbed Shadow's arms and began to pull him away. Shadow refused to do so, but the ghost got him away. I instantly relaxed, but still stayed wary of the situation. The stealthy Neopet was restrained by Jonah so he wouldn't attack me.
"Why are you here?" I barked. "What are you planning?"
"Relax, Janet. I'm not going to hurt you," Shadow responded. He wriggled in Jonah's grip. "Could you tell your friend to let me go?"
"How do I know you're telling the truth? You did escape jail recently."
"I did not escape. I was bailed out." Shadow gave up on trying to get out of Jonah's hold on him. Who knew ghosts could have a good hold on stuff? "Being part of the Sway has its perks."
I groaned. I was getting really tired of the Sway thinking they can get away with every single thing they do. The Sway wanted Mae and Xavier to join them because of their wealth and powers and blah blah blah. To be honest, that case wasn't the first time that the Sway did something illegal. And if I knew the Sway, that wouldn't be the last.
"So what do you want?" I asked in an annoyed tone. I didn't care if I sounded annoyed or rude or anything bad at the moment - I just wanted to figure what Shadow had up his sleeve.
"I heard about what's been going on with you, Jane, and Natia," he replied.
"All of Neopia knows." I rolled my eyes. Then I realized what he said. "Wait, Natia? Oh, there was another robbery today, wasn't there?"
"You're good at figuring out what happened." Shadow began to wriggle to try to get away from Jonah again. "Could your ghost friend let me go now?"
I was a little reluctant to say this (more like really reluctant, to be honest), but I said to Jonah, "Let him go."
"You're sure about this?" the Ixi asked.
"I said let him go."
Jonah did as told. Shadow brushed himself. The Blumaroo walked up to me, which made me pretty nervous. He took something out of his pocket and showed it to me. It appeared to be a folded up note. I took the note from him and examined it. The piece of paper was a light beige that was a little worn.
"I wouldn't check for fingerprints," Shadow suggested. "It's been passed around the Sway a lot over the last couple days. Not to mention that you grabbed it without any gloves."
I looked at my hands. Yeah, I probably should have put something on my hands before I took it. I quietly scolded myself for that. This wasn't the first time this happened, but it's been a long time since I made this rookie mistake. Any fingerprints were probably smudged now.
"What's with the note?" Jonah asked.
"I was told that it was for Janet," Shadow answered. "I didn't read it, though, so I don't know who it's from, what it's about, or why it's for you."
"Well, thanks, I guess," I said. "Why'd you give this to me? I thought you would have a grudge."
Shadow rubbed the back of his neck. He avoided eye contact. "I'm not one to hold grudges. The Sway is a different story. I was just doing as told when we last met. You have no idea what they would do if I didn't follow orders."
"Alright. I can understand." I glared at him. I had the feeling he was truthful, but I was still cautious. He seemed a little too eager to get his job done last time we met. "Is that it."
"Well..." Shadow looked at me again. "I was thinking you needed a little help."
I had no idea how to feel about that sentence. Shadow, someone who practically hated Natia, Jane, and I last time we met, wanted to help me like none of that ever happened. Did he really think that I would forget that? Besides, there was nothing saying that he wouldn't double-cross me.
Natia and I did need the help, though. Even with seven other Neopets willing to help, we weren't getting very far in the case. Maybe someone from the Sway could help out. They did have connections all over Neopia. I couldn't believe that I was considering this.
"I need to talk it over with everyone that's helping. It isn't just Natia and I this time," I informed.
"That's understandable. May we meet tomorrow?" Shadow responded.
"I suppose. And while I'm wearing this makeup, please call me Talia."
He didn't even say good-bye, but the stealthy Neopet ran off. It wasn't long until he was out of sight. When he was gone. Jonah and I continued to base. The thought of Shadow helping us kept bouncing through my mind. How was I supposed to explain this to everyone? Mae would go nuts - and when she goes nuts, everything around her goes nuts.
Footsteps came from behind us again. I was in no mood to run, so I turned around to see who it was. It was Mason from yesterday. He was calling my alias. Did he want to talk to me about something?
"Talia, I've been meaning to talk to you," the Kyrii said.
"About what?" I asked.
"Well it's about-" Mason stopped when he saw Jonah. "Who's the ghost?"
"He's just a friend. So you were saying?"
Mason turned away from Jonah and back to me. "I'm going to need help restocking my shop at the Marketplace. Some Aisha stole from it and a whole bunch of other stores."
Ah, so that was where the fake Natia stole from. Whoever was doing this knew how to add a little variety to the usual theft. I couldn't predict where he would strike next, though. Smart guy. I had the feeling this was planned out longer than just a couple weeks, what I had originally thought.
"I'm sorry, but I'm busy today," I said.
I began to walk off, but Mason grabbed my wrist before I went far. He said, "Busy with what?"
"Just work and all. Don't worry, I'm going to figure it all out. You don't doubt that, do you?"
Mason looked confused. After a second, he said, "I guess I don't," in a puzzled tone. Afterwards, Jonah and I continue back to base. Hopefully, we would have no more interruptions. I was getting sick of things getting in the way of my job.
Jonah and I entered my base. I heard a little chatter in the distance, which was strange, since I was pretty sure that everyone would be out. Should I be curious or frightened? Well, I didn't think there would be any reason to be afraid, so I went with curiosity and followed the sound of what was going on.
The chatter only seemed to get more overwrought as the ghost Ixi and I got closer. I told Jonah to go ahead to check out what was going on. He might be able to fix the issue without me, and if he couldn't, he could let me know what I need to fix.
"Talia, what's going on?"
I quickly turned around to see Mason behind me. Mason was in J2 base. A heavily secured area that wasn't very easy to get to. A place that nobody should know about. Oh, this was not good. I didn't know what I should ask first; how he got here or why he came here.
"What on Neopia are you doing here?" I asked. "How did you even find this place?"
"I just followed you after you and that ghost left," the red Neopet answered. "This place looks cool. What is this place?"
"This place is somewhere you shouldn't be." I began to push him to the entrance. "It's nice seeing you, but-"
"Hold on. I'm not going anywhere." He pushed me away from him. "I want to explore this place."
"This place really isn't the place to explore."
The sound of something glass breaking echoed from where the chatter was coming from (which had only gotten louder since I noticed Mason). I said, "That's why."
"Well why don't we see what's going on over there?"
Mason began to walk in the direction the crash came from. I went after him, hoping I could talk him out of checking that out. I didn't even know what was going on and I knew that I didn't want him to know. How was I going to explain this to everyone that there was a security breech?
"I really don't think you want to check it out," I said.
"Are you trying to hide something from me?" Mason asked.
"Then why won't you let me see?"
I couldn't really answer that question. I didn't have time to think of a good enough excuse. As he finished the question, we reached the interrogation room (where all the chatter and sounds was coming from (sheesh, it was loud up close)). Mason opened the door before I could say anything.
Mason and I didn't get to see much of the chaos, though. From the glimpse that I saw, Mae was freaking out about whatever. The reason that we only got to see a little bit of it was that something, I don't know what, was thrown towards us. I shut the door before it could hurt us. Whatever was thrown made a thump sound when it hit the door.
"Is everything okay in there?" Mason asked.
I sighed. Might as well be honest with him. "I'm not going to lie. I am not sure," I said. "I'm going to find out. You're going to leave this place."
"No. I want to find out what's wrong."
The two of us bickered for a little bit. Neither of us would change our minds. Why couldn't Mason just leave? He had no idea what he was getting into, and I couldn't tell him without involving him. Ugh, this was a down side to being a detective - nobody could know what you were doing (everyone that was helping us are different, though. They knew that we were detectives before this).
"Talia, why is he here?"
Mason and I turned to the door to see Jonah halfway through the closed door. I realized that there was no more conflict. No more noise. At least behind the door. I had a guilty expression on my face while Mason still had a curious look. Yes, this situation went from bad to worse (when I thought nothing could do that).
"What's going on?" the Kyrii asked the ghost. "Talia won't tell me."
"You're not supposed to know," he replied. "We would have told you if you could."
"If you leave now, we might be able to tell you later," I added. Jonah looked at me like I was insane. "We need to discuss this."
"If I have to, I'll leave. Just show me the way out," Mason said with a smile. "Just show me the way out."
Gladly. I led my unwelcome friend to the entrance where he could get away from here. Jonah came with the two of us. Once he was out the door and we were heading back to the interrogation room, Jonah shared his thought about my last comment.
"Why did you say that?" was his first question.
"How else was I supposed to get rid of him?" I asked back. "I didn't hear you give a good reason why he should leave." I blew some of my hair out of my face. "Even then, that wouldn't work. Mason is stubborn."
"You're not actually going to tell him, are you?"
I snickered at the question. "Don't worry, ghostie. There's no way I'm going to tell him anything." I sighed. "How am I going to explain this to everyone? I already have enough to explain."
Jonah either didn't know what to say or didn't bother to say anything. I just continued to walk in silence to the interrogation room with the Ixi floating behind. I was afraid to explain this entire day to everyone. Nobody was going to be happy. I checked my watch. Only two in the afternoon. Great, I was going to have to go back out. I had enough for one day.
The door to the interrogation room was open. When I looked through the doorway, I saw everyone working with me standing or sitting in silence. The first one who noticed the two of us was Lyanka, who walked up to us. A few seconds later, all eyes were on us (mostly me). It was unnerving.
"What happened?" the blue Aisha asked. "We heard someone."
"Yes, yes you did," I confirmed. "Today hasn't been an awesome day for me, even before the incident."
"Why? What happened?"
I rubbed the back of my neck. I knew the question was inevitable, but I still hoped nobody would ask. With the day I had, I didn't want to think about it. Still, they had the right to know. It was by no means classified information, anyway.
"First, we ran into Shadow, the hypnotist that got out of prison a few days ago," I said bluntly.
You should have seen the look on Mae's face when I said that. I knew she was afraid of him, but she might as well be painted Relic, she was so petrified. To be honest, her face looked a little funny. I didn't laugh, though. The light blue glow kind of took away from the hysterity, anyway.
When I saw Mae's hands glow, I knew something was going to float. What I didn't know was that I was going to float. Pretty much who didn't know of Mae's powers before were a little freaked out (hey, so was I when I found out). Believe it or not, this wasn't the first time I was picked up with telekinetic powers (how often do you get to say that?). You don't really feel funny or anything, so I didn't mind. The getting down part, though...
"Whoa, Mae, chill," I said calmly. "He didn't do anything bad."
The Usul's hands stopped glowing light blue. I fell to the ground with a thud. Ugh, I hated landing like that. I heard a smothered chuckle from someone. With a little bit of looking, I saw that Kell was the one who chuckled. He was so lucky I was not in the mood to take it to the Battledome.
"He actually helped us out," I continued. "He gave a note that was meant for me and said he wants in on the investigation."
"Shadow, the Blumaroo who nearly destroyed us last time, now wants to help us?" Mae asked. "No, it's some sort of a trick."
"There's no way he's serious about this." Mae crossed her arms.
"No, Janet. There's no way-"
A pencil cup hit Mae on the head before she could finish her thought. Her first instinct was to look at her brother. Xavier had his arms crossed and his hands were a neon-ish green (think of Jhudora green). I had the feeling that the Vandagyre used telekinesis to throw that at her. If so, that would be the first time that he used it when I was around.
"Mae, let her finish," he said.
"Xavier, you know Shadow wouldn't just think 'Hey, why don't I help the Neopets that are responsible for my time in jail?', right?"
"Alright, you two," I said. I grabbed both of their wrists and pulled them out of the room. "If you two are going to fight, please do it out here."
I left the Usul and Vandagyre in the hallway while I walked back into the interrogation room and shut the door. Arguing was heard on the other side of the door. I had the feeling all of us were going to be tearing each other apart before Jane was even found. Fighting was the last thing we needed.
"Alright, while they figure that out, I still have some more explaining to do," I said. "Other than that, a friend of mine, he sort of..." I went silent. Before I continued, I took a deep breath. "He followed me in here."
I hoped the entire place wouldn't erupt into chaos again, but I knew it would happen. Everyone started to shout, yell, ask many questions, you name it. It wasn't long until they became so wrapped up into their own reactions, they didn't notice me slip out of the room.
Mae and Xavier were gone. I assumed they left. As long as they were getting along, they could do whatever. I just needed some quiet to think.
"Janet, are you alright?"
Which would be a little hard with Jonah no more than five feet from me.
"I'm fine," I said. "I just needed to think, and it's a little hard to do that with everyone screaming at each other." I sighed. "Hey, what was that argument about?"
"Everyone was just complaining that they didn't find anything," Jonah explained. "Then Natia thought it was a good idea to make fun of them."
I rolled my eyes. "Typical Natia."
"What about that note?"
I opened the note. The note was written in fancy cursive, but I could still read it. The handwriting was familiar. Very familiar. I could hardly believe my eyes.
"It's from Jane."
To be continued…