"Right. And while you might not like politics, I should think you also wouldn't
like the possibility of riots or worse--on your own border, either."
"Nope. Ummm... and I enter into this how?"
"As the solution. It's simply a given fact that any politician, when faced
with a tough decision, is going to try and pass it on. This is the sort of situation
that is tailor made for some sort of 'blue-ribbon panel' of outside experts
to solve. Someone, or someone's, with unquestionable integrity, high popularity,
and the intelligence to get to the bottom of the matter fast."
"Hah! You overstepped your little snow job with that last one, MonoKeras. They
wouldn't want the truth, they'd want something they could use to their own political
I raised a paw in mock surrender. "You got me. But that's still where you come
"I see. And where do you come in?"
"Not at all, hopefully."
"Oh, come on. You waltz in here, out of the blue propose that I get involved
in a ticklish political and criminal situation, and then try to pretend that
you're not involved? I thought you were on a case!"
I sighed. "Well, that's sort of the problem. I'm not. This is something I stumbled
across for myself during some of my magical research, and now...." I let my
tone drift a bit as I thought how to say the next bit.
Sabre-X finished my thought for me. "And now you want cover, a client, and
some way to make money out of all this."
I had to laugh. "Three for three. No wonder they had you in charge of the
strategic division during the war."
"Right. Now, before I take this any further, you're going to have to come across
with more information."
"Uh, OK. Such as?"
"Just exactly what sort of evidence have you got? I'm not stepping into this
I managed to stop myself from chewing a lower lip into shreds. "Remember during
the war, Tekeli-Li had a glass that he used to monitor the central plateau area?"
"Right. A crystal globe about two feet across. Showed everything in miniature
and in real life. Really handy."
"Yes, well... I have a smaller version of that sort of thing. I was playing-
er, working- with it when I managed to stumble across the Lupe setting off the
last avalanche. Since then, I've looked into the matter a bit further, and I've
got this magic eye set to follow him wherever he goes. So.... I have our suspect
in sight all the time. Now all we have to do is find out who he is, and who
is paying him."
"Ah. I see."
"You don't seem too happy," I remarked.
"I'm not. I hate politics, contrary to public opinion I don't like wars, and
civil unrest is even worse in its own way. I don't really want to get messed
up with this."
"It might not stay in Terror Mountain," I reminded him.
"I disagree. It almost certainly will. However..." he sighed. "Did you have
anything more definite to suggest?"
I nodded. "Yes, the members of the panel. I think it would work best with you
as the head of it, and with Myncha and Tekeli-Li as your helpers. Three prominent
citizens and three sets of talents."
Sabre-X grunted. "Myncha for physical reconnaissance, Tekeli-Li for magical
research and help, and me to ordains it all. You're only reconstructing half
of the commanding staff from the old days."
"The old days when I used to work for you," I reminded him. "My boss Myncha,
my teacher Tekeli-Li, and my main liaison assignment, you."
"Which gives you the credibility to get away with just about anything you propose,"
Sabre-X remarked rather sourly. I noted with relief the undertone of grudging
admiration. He wasn't as opposed to it as I'd feared he might be.
"What, me, try anything? Why whatever would give you that idea?"
His bark of laughter made me wince as it filled the office. "I know you, Monokeras!
You make a living meddling in other pets' business. If it weren't for the fact
that your major goal in life is to hang around doing as little as possible,
you'd be downright dangerous. OK, you win. I'll see what I can do."
"Good! You'll need to talk to Kyruggi and get her to do the actual proposal
behind the scenes...." I stopped as Sabre-X glared at me.
"MonoKeras, there's an old saying. Don't teach your flotsam how to swim. You
go on back to your little office and I'll be in touch with you."
I laughed, although it was a bit strained. "Of course! Thanks for everything,
I'm sure it'll all work out OK, you'll see."
"I'd better. Now scram before I have second thoughts!"
"Right. See ya!" and I skipped out at a pace just short of a run. Once outside,
I gave a whoosh of relief. I'd hoped for better but at least I'd gotten what
I needed. The ball had been set in motion.... I winced at that particular metaphor
and headed back home. Too much had already been set in motion, and most of it
in the wrong direction.
I was halfway home before I thought of another saying that put me in a better
rumour. If our criminal Lupe had scoffed at me for trying to catch him and had
said, "you and what army are going to take me?" I could have told him exactly
OK, it was lame, but at least give me credit for trying.
I got through my morning zap without anything freaky happening and headed to
the office. My regular business wasn't suffering yet, but it would without a
little attention. You can put off distressed clients for only so long. I managed
to clear up a couple of small problems before I checked my Neomail later in
the morning to find a message for me from Sabre-X. It read, simply:
"The deal is on. Come to my office ASAP and bring your evidence with you."
A Lupe of few words, our Sabre-X. I gathered up my bottle, put it in my other
magical supplies and hauled both case and myself up to Terror Mountain, then
over to Tyrannia as fast as I could. I at least managed to not be out of breath
when I stepped into Sabre-X's office, but he gave me that Lupe to Cybunny glare
again. Or maybe it was just me being sensitive about being a Cybunny instead
of a Uni now.
"Sit down, MonoKeras. I trust you brought what I asked for."
I sat. He sounded like he wasn't looking for any disagreement, and I didn't
want to give it anyway. "Yep. All here." I patted the case.
"Good. I told Kyruggi about your predicament and proposed solution yesterday."
"What did she say?"
Sabre-X permitted himself a small grin. "First, she said you were too clever
for your own good. Then she said the plan was both reprehensible and devilishly
cunning. Then she said she loved it. She went to Terror Mountain this morning
to see about talking the government into it."
"Good! So we'll have all three of you appointed a special commission to investigate
"Assuming she gets her way, and when did Kyruggi ever fail with a diplomatic
I executed a bit of diplomacy of my own and did not mention the Monocerous.
"A very good point. So when do we start?"
"Immediately, if not sooner. She told me to assume she got permission and to
meet with the others at Council Rock. I want you with me to explain this whole
thing- and to talk the others into it, not that that should be hard. I think
they're itching for some action again."
True to his word, it took only minutes for us to get to the Rock, and not much
longer before both Tekeli-Li and Myncha were seating themselves and looking
at us expectantly. Sabre-X started things off in his own trademark style.
"MonoKeras here has decided to put us into the middle of a big batch of trouble,
gentlemen. Kyruggi has agreed with him, and it looks as if we'll soon be on
an important diplomatic and criminal investigation."
Myncha chattered with surprise, staring at me. "MonoKeras? But you can't be,
I know MonoKeras, he's a..."
"Uni I know, I know. Only that should be was, not is," I interrupted wearily.
"It's MonoKeras," Tekeli-Li stated flatly. "I know that aura anywhere." I threw
him a grateful look. He gave me a flat one in return. Apparently I was more
glad to receive his support than he was to give it. Oh well.
Sabre-X filled in what could have been an awkward pause. "MonoKeras has run
afoul of the lab ray, and is paying the consequences. But, that aside, he does
have something important to say. Take it, Mono."
I took a breath to steady myself. "Very well. The situation in the Terror Mountains
is reaching the breaking point, pets. The Blumaroos there are feeling persecuted,
and several avalanches recently have them very angry with the government because
they are the ones suffering and not Bruceys. They consider it unfair treatment,
or worse, by a government that doesn't like them. What they don't know, thankfully,
is that the avalanches are being set deliberately. I know the last one was,
because I used a... well... I call it a crying glass... to spot it happening."
Tekeli-Li threw me another deadpan look filled with meaning. He knew a euphemism
when he heard it, and knew the real term, too. "I hunted through the mountains
and came across our unknown saboteur's headquarters. But he cleared out just
before I got there, and all I managed to do was lock the view of my crying glass
"You WHAT?" Tekeli-Li exploded. "You used a perfectly good glass on this?"
I nodded, and as proof, I reached into my case and brought it out. The faerie-bottle
glass sat on the table for everyone to look at. We saw the purple Lupe making
his way through some pretty desolate country. I'd kept an eye on him and it
looked to me like he was making his way back to central Neopia through abandoned
areas, avoiding any sign of civilization.
To be continued...