Lupe Pack Detectives-The Fake Detective
The following morning, both Terra and Squire Oak arrived as promised, with their case folders in hand. I invited them into our living room as it was large enough for us to discuss the case with them, along with the rest of the family.
“Before we came here, we were discussing our case with each other, and so far, other than Egg Bombs and Kraku Berry Juice being used at our locations, there’s no similarities that would link our cases. Still, we’re not taking this lightly, given recent events,” Squire Oak replied.
“Hmm, a serial arsonist? That would explain how one Neopian would be able to commit the same crime over the span of several evenings,” Opren said after reviewing the files and hearing Squire Oak’s comments. “If we’re dealing with one, it also makes it less likely that 3 random Neopians would go to the same Neopian to commit the arson. That doesn’t rule them out of the equation, at least, not yet.”
“So, it means that we will need more information if we want to eliminate our possible suspects. The DoN archives would definitely be a good source of information, it will enable us to see if they have any past records or criminal ties,” I replied.
Just then, we heard a commotion outside the Neohome, so I decided to check it out. As soon as I opened the front door, I was suddenly bombarded with hotshot Neopian Times reporters asking me various questions about the challenge. I had a feeling that Ellipse had tipped them off, thanks to his so called ‘moniker’.
“According to Ellipse, he states that he already knows who is responsible for the various fires, including the one on Rainbow Lane, and is claiming that you are slow in your investigation. What are your comments on that?” One of the reporters, a Halloween Eyrie by the name of Shelly asked, confirming what I had suspected. Although I was furious at the insult, I somehow was able to keep my cool when I gave my response. That response was also a stealth barb towards the reporters themselves and their general attitude towards news reporting.
“Which would you prefer: an innocent Neopian spending time in the dungeons for a crime they did not commit or the right Neopian being held responsible for their actions? I don’t know about you, but for me, I would rather do my due diligence in my investigation until I am absolutely certain that the right Neopian is found. Not every case that we solve is going to end up on the front page, ” I firmly and loudly told the small crowd, leaving them silent for the most part.
Seeing as there were no more questions to be asked, I headed back in and silently closed the door. Then I dropped to the floor and sighed as I felt drained giving the reporters the answer. Although the rest of the team and our two guests commended me for the response that I had given, none of them were happy with the additional pressure from the media to solve the case.
I did not want the reporters to ask more questions if Terra and Squire Oak went out through the front door, so I thought it would be best for them to head out the back just to play it safe. I also told them that I would meet with them at DoN Headquarters later.
After they left, both Solar Flare and Aura wanted to check with the Royal Detectives and the Bookworms, respectively, to see if they could interview their suspects and to try to make some connections to the case, if there were any. I thought that it was a good idea as another perspective would be useful. On the other hand, Opren requested that he stay behind in case our suspect came back for another interview, which I granted even though it was unlikely that he would return.
After leaving the Neohome, my first stop was to the Neopian Times Headquarters, located in the Catacombs, as I knew Nimbus was working. I felt it was important that he knew what was going on with the challenge and to possibly give him some updates. I found him in his office, reviewing something. He looked up as soon as I entered and closed the door.
“If you’re here to talk about the challenge, Blizzard, the Baron’s already updated me. I just hope that it doesn’t get leaked out to the general public as that would be bad for your reputation if you do lose,” he told me, referring to Baron Rouge.
“Er, about that, Nimbus, there is a possibility that it already has. Those Vullards were at our Neohome earlier, leaving me to believe that Ellipse told one of them. As long as they don’t spin the story to make us look like the villains, we should be fine.” He grimaced as he heard the update before setting down what he was reading.
“Right then, I’ll see what I can do to delay any articles related to the challenge if they have not been published yet. Hmm, there might be another way that I can help you out, but I’m going to need some time for this. I’ll let you know about those results as soon as I get them.” I thanked him.
Upon my arrival at the Defenders of Neopia Headquarters, my first stop was to visit Watson the Robot Grundo. Nimbus’ earlier comment about Ellipse had got me thinking and there was something about the Shadow Scorchio that seemed off somehow, so I figured it was worth a shot. After explaining the situation to the Robot Grundo, he began processing the request, staying silent for a few minutes, with the occasional whirring heard, before it came up with a response.
“Bzzt, multiple errors detected with the name provided. The Neopian that you have requested does not show up as a registered detective and the moniker used is forbidden. As well, I have detected a criminal record associated with Ellipse,” he replied, the antenna lighting up in unison while he was speaking. That information provided was definitely useful, so I noted it down. I also requested he contact the Virtupets Space Station so that they could send a copy of the registered detectives to our Neohome.
As expected, both Terra and Squire Oak were in the archives when I entered, briefly acknowledging my presence before the Squire slid a folder over as I took a seat. I picked it up and glanced over it, wondering what it was about before I recognized my suspect’s name.
“As it turns out, our suspects are connected to each other, just not in the way one might expect. Years ago, they were peacefully protesting the Chia Police’s inaction with regards to petpet cruelty. The Chia Police didn’t see it that way, though, as all of the participating protesters were fined 2000 neopoints each for ‘disturbing the peace’. However, if it wasn’t for their actions at the time, the Petpet Protection League would not have been created and there probably would have been more cases of petpet cruelty reported,” Squire Oak told me. I nodded as it also meant that both Terra and Aura would not have joined, leading them both down a different route.
I did not see Ellipse’s name among the list of protesters, so I assumed that he did not participate. Still, there was something I wanted to find out, so I got up from my seat and asked the curator, a White Chia, about Ellipse. The Chia got up from his seat before returning with a file, which I quickly glanced over before returning to my seat.
“I think we should focus our attention on Ellipse instead as he has a more recent record, which includes petpet snatching and arson. He definitely has the motive, given the fact that he’s well known as a ‘fixer’ for several criminal gangs. With his record, it’s unlikely that he would be recognized as a detective anyways.”
“I thought that name sounded familiar, once you mentioned petpet snatching. While Aura or I were not challenged by him during our time with the PPL, some of our colleagues were, including Glitter the Silver Acara. I think there was also a case involving him that forced the Bubble Detective to help us out, but I’m not sure of the exact details.”
Our suspects and Ellipse’s criminal records were useful to us, so I asked the Chia to send a copy to each of us if it was possible as we were not able to take out the original copy. The Chia took the challenge in stride as it had never been done before previously, but he reassured us that he would try his best.
As soon as we exited the DoN Headquarters, I got the feeling that we were being watched by someone, so I wished Terra and Squire Oak the best of luck before leaving for the School Supplies shop even though our team was not in need of any supplies at the moment, I just wanted to throw off whoever was following us. Terra seemed to have gotten the hint as she mentioned making a pit stop at the Book Shop.
I spent a few minutes browsing the wares before I headed back out, buying a few notepads. While I still had the feeling that I was being watched, I knew that those few minutes was enough.
As soon as I returned to our Neohome, I warned the rest of the team to be extra vigilant if they were heading out. Fortunately for us, there were not any reporters remaining on our lawn to hound us with questions, so that made things easier for us if we had any unwanted guests roaming around. I also made a mental note to have our cousin help us out with surveillance.
Seeing as there was some unfinished business left, I went to Opren’s office. After telling him what we knew about our ‘main’ suspect and Ellipse with the information from the DoN, he leaned back in his chair to think for a few seconds.
“I’m starting to think that the reaction from the Elephante during our conversation was basically him channelling his past and reacting accordingly as he was treated poorly by the Chia Police. That’s in stark contrast to what both Solar Flare and Aura gave me regarding the other suspects. Disregarding their past and the fine from the Chia Police, it’s safe to say that our trio of suspects are now off the hook completely as they’re law abiding Neopians and they have no motive, well, other than the obvious one.” I nodded in agreement.
“As for Ellipse, at least we have the motive if he’s a fixer for the various criminal gangs, we just need something that can connect him to the fires. He may have been smart to cover up his tracks when those Egg Bombs failed to detonate, but sooner or later, he’ll slip out somewhere. It’s just a matter of time.” Again, I nodded as he essentially stole my words, but he was right.
To be continued…