I managed to distract myself from my own personal troubles for a while as
I hurried through that afternoon, trying to investigate and make arrangements
before our mad bomber struck again. I left blchocobo watching him in our magical
"crying glass" and headed to Tyrannia. This trip called for a fast air clipper,
forget the tube and walking route. Once there, I went straight to Kyruggi's
Say what you will about her abrupt ways, but it means she usually has time
to handle more work, no matter how big her responsibilities get. It's a great
job asset to being Chief Elder for the whole of Tyrannia. As it was, she was
simply reading through a couple of reports with a casual air, the very picture
of someone about to make a leisurely decision... perhaps what to have for dinner.
She looked up as I came in and gave me the raised eyebrow treatment.
"Good afternoon. Is that you, MonoKeras?"
"Yeah. The lab ray turned me faerie this morning."
"So I see." She smiled. "You look very charming and elegant."
I coughed and my lavender fur reddened slightly. "I don't care for it, myself,
but it's what I have to put up with."
"What, you don't like being a pretty boy?"
"Not when it's said in that tone of voice," I replied sharply.
Perhaps she saw that I was really nettled, or perhaps she was simply being
diplomatic, but she let the subject go with a simple, "You should learn to appreciate
your assets, MonoKeras, instead of being embarrassed by them. Did you have anything
you needed to see me about?"
"Yes, of course, otherwise I wouldn't be wasting your time, would I?"
"Hah! If only everyone else felt the same way. So what have you got for me?"
"Developments with our Lupe saboteur are reaching a head," I replied. "Today
he withdrew a large amount of cash from an ATM, then went to the Tyrannian
"Volcano? That's off-limits now."
"I know. But what would that mean to a criminal? He went to the volcano, met
with a fire faerie, and bought explosives. I figure he's headed for Terror Mountain
"Yes, and he's headed through MY territory to get there. We need to intercept
him now and not let him--"
This time I interrupted her. "No, we don't. We can get him any time. I've
already told Myncha and he's got the team making arrangements for everything
tomorrow morning. No, it's best this way," I continued as Kyruggi started to
protest again. "You don't want to try and capture him here, then do extradition
to Terror Mountain. Far better to let him return to the scene of the crime himself
and NOT involve Tyrannia any more than it already has been."
Kyruggi was obviously unhappy with it. "Perhaps so," she agreed reluctantly,
"but I'll be darkness possessed before I let this place become a haven for criminals
"Of course. I don't propose we let him get away with it. Far from it. In fact,
the reason I came here is to get some needed paperwork from you that will help
us nail the whole plot instead of just this one hired thug."
"Oh? What paperwork is that?"
"An official finding of suspected criminal activity. Remember, I said he got
money from an ATM. We need to find out where that money came from or
else we won't ever get to the bottom of the case."
"True. So you want to get the bank to open their records."
"Right, and they won't breach client confidentiality without an official request
that only you can provide."
"I or any other government head, you mean."
"True. But none other is either involved, or if involved, likely to actually
Kyruggi nodded rather curtly as she began rummaging in her desk drawers. "Right.
Well if it'll catch this son of a test tube, I'll be a lot happier about it.
Ah, here we are." She pulled out a blank form and scrawled answers into several
blanks. "OK, name of suspect?"
"Cute. Time and place of suspected criminal access?"
"10:13 this morning, the ATM at the corner of Tylinda Boulevard and--" I referred
to the notes that blchocobo had written. "Westside Drive."
"Here you go, then," she said, handing me the form. "Nail the motherless pup
for me, will you?"
"I'll do my best," I replied as I left.
The afternoon was getting on, but I decided to take the time to return to Central
Neopia to conduct my investigation. I didn't want to try and work through branch
banks on something like this. So another hour or so passed before I entered
the office of S. Swert, Head of Security for the Neopian Bank. He looked up
at me, his huge green girth bulging onto his desktop. I don't know why almost
all bankers are Skeiths. Something about their pet psychology, I suppose.
"Good afternoon, sir, how may I help you?" he asked.
I sighed to myself in relief. His calm and unruffled politeness was a welcome
contrast to the ridicule I'd taken for being a faerie today. It was a relief
to talk to someone who had no reaction to my predicament. Sometimes I think
these professional bankers would remain undisturbed if you walked in on your
head instead of your feet. Nothing keeps them from being polite- as long as
you've got legitimate business. "I'm MonoKeras, Private Investigator," I replied.
"I'm here because I'm looking into a criminal affair in which money has been
moved through your bank to further illegal acts."
"That's a grave accusation, sir. I'm afraid we can't open our books simply
upon your say-so."
"I realize that. Here," I handed him Kyruggi's authorization. "Here's the
details and the official request. Properly signed and authorized, you'll note."
His polite respect seemed to increase a bit as he took in Kyruggi's bold signature.
"Well, then, this is an entirely different matter. Let me see what I can find."
He turned to his Neoterminal and started scrolling through activity logs.
"Hmmm.... that transaction has already been red-flagged as suspicious. That
should make things easier."
"The amount. Nearly thirty thousand Neopoints is not something we normally
dish out of a small ATM that way."
"I can certainly see why," I said. "So what information can you give me about
He punched a few more keys and a printer kicked into life behind him. "I'm
printing out hard copy for you now, sir. However, I'm afraid I am unable to
confirm the identity of your suspect here."
"Why, what do you mean?"
"I mean this is not his account. It belongs to a corporation, and he simply
used one of their account cards to gain access to it. I'm afraid that all we
can confirm is that a card that we gave to that corporation was used to gain
access. Who would have the card is entirely up to them."
"I see. This is a standard practice, then?"
"Oh yes. We offer courtesy cards for employees, and we don't keep track of
names within that account. We let the businesses involved do their own accounting
along those lines. We just tell them the numbers of the cards that were used
and they know who they gave that card to."
"Too bad," I sighed. "I was hoping we could prove it was him."
"Afraid not. All we can do is give you the corporate information for the account
itself. Here.." he gave me the sheaf of papers that had just finished coming
off his printer. "Good luck with your investigation. Remember, if you want the
account assets frozen, you have to get a formal judgment."
"Of course, and hopefully we will before too long. It's going to be tricky,
"I've never known an investigation that wasn't. Good day, sir."
"Good day to you, too," I said and walked outside.
I nearly hit a light pole once out front. I had been reading through the corporate
officers and a name had leapt out at me. So that's that, I thought. Now we know
who is behind it, and it's starting to make sense. I stared up at the busy street
blindly. Somehow, capturing our Lupe tomorrow suddenly seemed like the easy
part of this whole affair. I went back to the office and carefully stowed my
very important evidence. Blchocobo was there, as I'd asked- he was very conscientious
about staying at the office watching things. He told me nothing important seemed
to be happening with our Lupe I looked in the bottle and saw he was right. Our
criminal was traveling through the Tyrannian wilderness. I figured he'd hit
Terror Mountain later on that night.
I said good-bye and headed up to Terror Mountain on the tube again. This constant
commuting was getting to be a drag. I mentally tried to add up all of my trips,
and finally came to the conclusion that this was at least the fifth time I'd
covered this distance today.
I arrived at the investigation headquarters to find controlled chaos. Sabre-X
was standing in the middle of things, directing everyone with a calm tone. Myncha
was busily running his fingers over a relief map that was laid out on a brand
new observation table while he chattered to his search parties through his talking
crystals. Tekeli-Li was simply staring at a circlet of metal that he had sitting
in the middle of a magic diagram. As I watched, he energized the diagram and
the circlet sparkled as the spell hit it. He nodded in satisfaction, let the
glow die, and put the circlet among a small pile of others before picking up
a new one.
He raised his eyes and saw me. Nodding, he returned to his work without a word.
There was another one who didn't comment on my looks, mostly because he truly
couldn't have cared less. Sabre-X did spare me an amused glance before issuing
orders to a couple of workers who were trying to set up an observation screen
of some sort. "Did you bring the glass?" he asked me as I came up to him.
"No, I didn't," I replied. "I was thinking we wouldn't need it until tomorrow
He looked at me reproachfully. "You should have known better than that. Tekeli-Li
wants it ASAP so he can calibrate it to his setup."
I grunted, although it came out as too high-pitched and delicate for my taste.
I think getting turned faerie affected my already light Cybunny voice. I couldn't
do bass worth an air faerie's eyeshadow. I headed over to the Neoterminal which,
amazingly enough, was going unused. I sent Neomail to blchocobo, telling him
to come up to the investigation HQ and to bring the bottle with him.
Tekeli-Li straightened with a small groan as I came up to him. "The bottle
is on its way," I told him.
"Good. I've done all I can here," he replied.
I looked down at his equipment. "Visual apparatus?"
"Right. I'll connect it to the screen over there when they get that set up.
Then we put your bottle in the loop and everything is ready on this end."
I nodded. "Myncha has the physical capture end of things on his hands, doesn't
"I think so. Sabre-X and he are working it out between them, anyway. I've
got plenty to worry about here."
"I can see that. Well, good luck with it, and keep an eye out for a blue Blumaroo--that'll
be my younger brother blchocobo with the glass."
Tekeli-Li nodded and I went over to where Sabre-X and Myncha were huddled over
the table, marking out observation posts. They had quite a net set up, and I
soon fell into discussion with them about it all. We had just concluded that
we could combine everything into one magical net with both Tekeli-Li and myself
in it when I looked up to see that blchocobo had arrived. He had just finished
giving Tekeli-Li the glass. I waved to him, and he waved back. We met in the
middle of the crowded room.
"I hurried as fast as I could," he said.
"Good, time is crucial."
He sighed. "So what else is new."
"Easy. Tonight we get to set up all night while we wait." I could tell by blchocobo's
expression that he was less than enthusiastic about that idea. Tough for him,
I thought, but he can't learn any sooner. This was going to be a stakeout, and
missing most of a night's sleep was a cheap price to pay to stop another avalanche
from wiping another village off the map... and taking innocent lives with it.
To be continued...