Lupe Pack Detectives - The Fake Detective
I had just finished my breakfast and was about to head out for a jog around the neighbourhood to help clear my mind. After a few minutes of stretching, I was ready to head out. Upon exiting the front door, I spotted our cousin, Nimbus the Cloud Shoyru, water the various plants in our Neogarden. He briefly looked up and gave me, a Blue Lupe, a quick wave, which I acknowledged as I left the walkway.
After turning onto Rainbow Lane, I spotted a huge crowd of Neopians gathered around the remains of a torched Neohome as well as some volunteer firefighters. Almost immediately, I cut my jog short and went up to the nearest volunteer firefighter, a kind Pirate Cybunny, controlling the crowd, to talk to her. I did not expect my team to be on the case, but it did not hurt to get some information just in case. The Cybunny smiled as soon as she saw me.
“I swear, Blizzard, I know it was not intentional, but you seem to have an uncanny sense of timing. Your arrival is just what we needed,” she told me. I chuckled at the remark.
“I was just out for a jog and in the neighbourhood, Grace, nothing more. It’s as you said, it was not intentional. Anyways, you mentioned that you needed our help?”
“I did, in a roundabout way. It doesn’t hurt to have the Lupe Pack Detectives on standby for this even though it’s looks to be just your standard routine fire, accidental the most likely scenario. Chief Pongo’s still analyzing the situation with the rest of his team, but he should know the results soon.” I nodded as I told her that I would get my family ready. Then I headed back, knowing that time was important.
As expected, Nimbus was slightly surprised when he saw me returning earlier than expected, but he quickly dropped was he was doing before heading inside and calling for the team as soon as I told him that we had a potential case. When he returned, he brought me my black trenchcoat and fedora, which I quickly put on over my jogging clothes, despite looking silly in it, along with my field kit. Moments later, the rest of the team, Aura the Starry Lupe, Opren the Striped Lupe and Solar Flare the Fire Lupe, arrived. I gave them a brief summary of what was going on.
By the time we returned to 14040 Rainbow Lane, the site of the fire, the crowd had slightly diminished, but it was still busy with the volunteer firefighters monitoring the site for any potential hotspots and dousing them. Grace, along with a Spotted Gelert, whom I assumed was the volunteer fire chief, were busy reviewing the file before they spotted us and motioned us to come over.
“Well, the fire was not accidental, someone deliberately torched the place. The case is now yours to solve, Blizzard,” the Spotted Gelert told me as he handed me the file. Almost immediately, after receiving the file, my mind went racing to the day our mother, Annabella the Red Gelert, was killed in a warehouse fire while on duty.
“Chief Pongo, was there any large amount of magic detected within the vicinity?” I asked him, knowing that little tidbit of information would confirm whether or not it was the same Neopian responsible.
“Only a small amount, likely used to start the fire, was detected by us, detective. Also, the fire never went out of control while we were here, if you’re referring to the Great Warehouse Fire.” I breathed a sigh of relief as it meant that we were dealing with a different Neopian responsible. He seemed to understand what was going on, but did not ask any further questions as he wanted to focus on the current situation.
When we reviewed the file, we noted that several Egg Bombs were used, but also Kraku Berry Juice, giving us no actual clue as to how the fire was actually started despite the information given. Still, that information was useful as it gave us a starting point to work with. After we were finished, I placed the file inside my field kit.
Almost immediately, before we had a chance to start investigating the Neohome ourselves, someone within the crowd suddenly yelled out that a bunch of Vullards were headed our way. One look at Chief Pongo’s face scowling confirmed that it was indeed the hotshot Neopian Times reporters that were heading our way.
“Tch, someone from the crowd must have tipped those Vullards off about the fire. All those guys care about is being on the front page, regardless of reason or if it makes any sense,” Opren muttered, but I clearly heard him.
“I’ll hold these guys off with Chief Pongo. Aura, Solar Flare, Opren, you know what to do,” I quickly told them. They nodded and quickly headed off, with Opren taking a few volunteer firefighters with him as part of his duties as a profiler as he was going to interview a few homeowners to see if they had witnessed anything. Aura and Solar Flare took a couple of hard hats before heading off to inspect the scene as it was likely that the torched Neohome was structurally unsafe.
When the reporters arrived, both Chief Pongo and I did our best to answer their questions without actually revealing anything about the case to them as it was still early in the investigation and we did not want to tip off our potential suspect. It was also a way to stop the reporters in their tracks and prevent them from publishing their version of the story on the front page with the limited info given, knowing the reputation of the majority of those hotshot reporters.
By the time we were finished answering questions, I was slightly exhausted, but nonetheless, I still had to check on Aura and Solar Flare. When I arrived with a hard hat in my hand, they were examining a room from both the inside and outside. Even though it was a futile attempt, I covered up my nose with one of my hands as the nauseating stench from the Egg Bombs lingered in the air, but not before I placed the hard hat on top of my head. Solar Flare was the first to spot me coming and pointed me out to my younger sister, causing her to turn around.
“We got Egg Bomb fragments scattered throughout the perimeter of the Neohome, although a couple failed to detonate completely. Either our arsonist is not aware of the unreliability of these bombs, or,” Aura told me.
“Our arsonist unwittingly bought a bad batch somewhere. Either way, the job was finished with some Kraku Berry Juice, mainly where the Egg Bombs did not explode. We now know how the fire was started,” Solar Flare continued where Aura left off.
“It might have been compromised by the fire, but get one of the unexploded Egg Bombs and have it sent to the Virtupets Space Station. Hopefully, they’ll be able to identify a pawprint with their technology.” Aura told us that she was on it as she ran over to one and bagged it.
Moments later, Opren returned, fresh from his interviews. I listened to what he had to say.
“For the most part, barely any of the witnesses or the gathered crowd saw anything as it was early in the morning when the fire broke out. A couple of them claimed to have seen a Shadow Neopian within the vicinity, but could not make out an exact species. Oh right, the owner of the Neohome, a Disco Elephante, is currently on Mystery Island for vacation but will return within a couple of days,” he told me.
As soon as we returned to our Neohome, Nimbus covered up his nose, owing to the fact that there was the stench from the Egg Bombs still clinging onto our clothing. Whatever questions I had for him could wait for the time being as I sent off the rest of my siblings to take a quick shower and change of clothes.
After I was finished changing into a fresh set of clothing, I motioned Nimbus into my office. Even though he was also a Neopian Times reporter, he knew not to get himself involved in our investigations unless it was absolutely necessary or if we needed some insight. Unlike the reporters that ‘attacked’ us, Nimbus was well known within the community as a trustworthy and reliable reporter.
“Nimbus, I know that you’ve covered arson cases before, so what would your reaction be if I told you that Egg Bombs were used, along with Kraku Berry Juice? I’m just looking for your insight from a reporter’s perspective, that’s all.”
“It’s a mixed bag of emotions, Blizzard. While I can understand Kraku Berry Juice, seeing as it is a potent accelerant, I’m actually surprised that something like Egg Bombs were used. I’m no expert on weapons, unlike Aura, but bombs in general have a notorious reputation for being slow and inefficient. They’re also more likely to be used for destruction of property rather than to start a fire as the chances of a bomb starting one is low unless the conditions are perfect. Then there’s also the stench from an Egg Bomb when or if it explodes, which might as well give you away if one doesn’t plan carefully.” I thanked him for the information.
After Nimbus left, I went up to my chalkboard and began writing some information down, mainly the facts of the case. I then stepped back and began analyzing the notes, thinking about something before going up again and writing some additional information. It seemed like our potential suspect was an amateur, but there were also hints that our suspect knew what they were doing and was likely faking being one just to throw potential investigators off.
As I sat down in my seat and began thinking more, deep inside me, I had a feeling that there was more to this case than what had initially appeared. It certainly was not a simple arson case.
To be continued…