Janet and Jane: The Case of the Vanished: Part Three
"But why not?” I whined to the police chief. “Why won't you let us in on what the crime ring might be doing?”
“We discussed this already,” the yellow Chia hissed at me. “We, the police force of Neopia Central, have it under control.”
“Under control my tail! On our way in, we saw at least six police officers scrambling around, asking each other what to do.” I crossed my arms and let out an angry chuff of air. “Besides, the... Neopets we're investigating are after a crime ring and I feel like this is the same one.”
“Do you really think that?” James asked me. I gave him a slight nod.
I continued with my rant. “Why didn't you tell us that they were detectives? If anyone should know, we should.”
The police chief waked away from me and put some papers in his drawer. “Like you guys, they don't want their business to be public. They preferred to be kept secret.”
“Come on, Janet. We have other stuff to do,” Jane said, hoping that I would stop bugging him.
But I didn't stop bugging him. “Listen up, dude. We'll stay out of this investigation you're working on. We just need some information on it. It might help us out with our own. Got it?”
To my surprise, Jane jumped in. “You know she makes a good point. We won't do your job. We'll just see if we can find out what they're doing.”
The police chief was extremely angry at us for bugging him. “For the last time, no. I am not giving you a single paper relating to this. You four are not to read a single word of information about this crime ring.” He snatched the file I had out of my hand. “You two Treigers are more annoying than Matthew and Lauren.”
The Chia walked away from us in a manner that was even more frustrated than his speech was. Whatever, we could do this on our own. I walked out of the police station and waited for everyone to walk out. Jane, Natia, and James came out after a few minutes have passed. Huh, I didn't think it'd take that long.
“Why the holdup?” I asked.
“Natia thought if she talked to the police chief alone, she could get the files we need,” James answered. “It didn't.”
The four of us decided to walk back to our base. It was getting late. The sun was going to set in the hour. Fewer Neopets were on the streets of Neopia Central. It was a long day. I needed to take a break. I didn't even have lunch.
“If you don't mind me asking,” Natia said suddenly as we reached the woods our base was located in. “The police chief called you two Treigers. Is that your last name?”
“Actually, it is,” Jane answered.
“You two have the same last name? How come? Are you two related?”
“It's a complicated subject.”
“Jane's my sister,” I answered simply. Not very complicated, in my opinion. “Well, adopted sister, actually. We did meet in second grade, though. Jane was in the Pound and my folks adopted her.” I smiled at the shadow Korbat. “That's also why we stayed together so long. We're family.”
James jumped into this conversation. “Hold on, you two. Treiger. Isn't that the last name of Matt and Lauren?”
“Sure is.” I paused, debating whether if I should finish my thought or not. In the end, I decided there was no harm in saying it. “They're our parents.”
“No way! Really?” Natia cheered.
Jane answered with, “Technically Janet's parents.”
“But you keep calling them by their first names.”
“I'm on a sort of first-name basis with them. I do call them mom and dad occasionally. Though ever since...” Jane still felt uncomfortable mentioning it. “you know, I've been calling them Matt and Lauren.”
Yep, Jane was my family. The only family I had left at this point. I had no aunts or uncles and my mom and dad are who knows where. Yes, there was Natia and James and a few other Neopets across Neopia that we were pretty good friends with, but I knew Jane the longest and she was actual family.
Walking into our base was rather quiet. Usually Natia would start a conversation when we entered the building. It was just silent. I almost wanted to start a conversation. I liked the quiet, don't get me wrong, but I just wasn't used to it in this place. Most of the time, Natia was trying to do something to liven up things when we weren't on a case or James was busy asking me questions.
They must be thinking. That must be it. What we told them was pretty serious stuff. I didn't blame them if that was the case. One time Natia told me that Malkus Vile was her uncle and Jane and I were rather surprised. Not as surprised as her and James right now, but really surprised.
Jane handed me the mail that Allison was kind enough to give to us. I went through them, skimming each letter as we went into the discussion room. There, I put them all down on the table.
“That's mom's handwriting, alright,” I commented. “I can tell. She always swirls the ends of her J's, Y's, and G's.”
The four of us split up the pile and went through the letters. The letters didn't really reveal anything we didn't know. Crime ring, trying to stop it, the same exact things that Allison told us. The only thing that we learned is that the outgoing stamp was from the Neopian Post Office. That meant that they were in Neopia Central.
Huh? This one wasn't open. Wait, neither was this one. These must be recent. It was illegal to open other Neopets' mail, but Allison did say that we could have these. She would show us, anyway. Besides, this was sort of a state of emergency – there was a crime ring that needed to be stopped and my mom and dad were off to shut it down, putting themselves in danger in the process.
How long was this crime ring going on for, anyway? Mom and dad “died” five years ago. I was just learning about this. If – no, I meant when – we found mom and dad, I was going to ask them all sorts of questions.
“Why aren't they opened?” Jane asked me, looking at the sealed envelopes in my hand.
“These must be recent,” I commented. “Hopefully that means that they're okay.”
James leaned over to me and asked, “Are you going to open them? You did say reading someone else's mail was illegal.”
“That is true, yes, but she did give them to us. Allison said we could open them.” I opened the drawer and pulled out a letter opener. “Let's figure out what they say, shall we?”
I opened the first letter and read it. Okay, this wasn't by mom or dad. One: The handwriting was way different from theirs. There was no way they could have written it. Two: It said everything was taken care of. That everyone involved was arrested. I would have ripped up the paper on the spot if I wasn't concerned about how someone who was possibly working with the crime ring knew Allison's address.
“I don't know what's more concerning – the fact that this was faked in an attempt to fool Allison or that someone that could possibly be very dangerous knew Allison's address,” Jane commented after reading the letter.
“Neither do I,” I said in agreement. “If they were to find out Allison's address and the only ones who could know her current address and know about the crime ring was mom and dad...” I didn't dare finish my comment.
Instead of finishing my thought, I opened the second letter. My mom certainly wrote this, but her handwriting looked much sloppier and rushed. Not like the smooth and clean handwriting she usually writes in.
We have gone too far into this investigation. The crime ring has found out that Matthew and I are investigating and planning to stop them. Now they are after us. Please do be careful. We have told you about them. Not much, but enough to make you a target for them.
I know you don't want to be part of this but you want to know what is going on. Remember, knowledge is a dangerous thing. Knowledge is power, but power corrupts (Matthew told me that). What you know is almost like a weapon. Even more than the journal we have recovered (and somehow lost. It hasn't been a very good week for us). Now Matthew and I want you to do something that will blow this entire thing out of the water.
Make it public. Tell the police. Tell the Neopian Times. Let Neopia know of this. Please. Also, I don't know if you are still in contact with them, but if so, please make sure that our dear daughters are okay. Just as you may be a target for knowing us, they might be a target as well.
“You know, I'm just going to tell what the letter said to Allison,” James said in an innocent yet nervous voice. “She might need to know about this.”
“I'll just go with,” Natia added. She sounded very nervous, too. She and the purple Bori slinked out of the room. Footsteps could be heard after the door shut.
I still couldn't wrap my head around this letter. “Jane, did you ever see mom nervous?” I asked the shadow Korbat.
“Not at all,” she answered. “And journal. What about a journal?”
The only thing that I could think of when I heard that word was the one that I got at Brightvale University a month ago. There was no way that could be journal that mom and dad were talking about. Wait, could it?
Alright, I was getting off track. If I knew my mom (and I do), she would add some sort of secret message in the letter. Mom always had a thing with codes and secret messages. Her favorite sort of secret message was by watermarks. Not artificial ones that could disappear with heat, but real ones. Though in order for that to be the case, the paper had to be made with it. Then again, this did look like paper mom would make...
I called Supra to the table. The glowing Miamouse quickly hopped onto the table and waited for me to tell her to do something. I didn't ask her to do anything more – I held the paper in front of her. Just what I thought. A watermark.
“Mom and her old tricks,” Jane commented.
I laughed a little in agreement. “Nice to see she hasn't stopped loving secret messages.” I read the writing in the watermark. That was certainly mom's style of adding words to watermarks. “Neopian Catacombs.”
“That's where a lot of writers are, right?”
“Yep. Do you think they're there?”
“It's worth a look, right?” Jane stood up. “Next stop, Neopian Catacombs.”
To be continued…