[font="'trebuchet ms', helvetica, sans-serif;"][color=#008080;]Here's the re-post of chapter seven. A new post will be up soon.[/color][/font]
Chapter 7: Investigation Consternation
The Carson Heights neighborhood of Fe-Metru wasn’t the sort of place most might see as a crime ridden area. Indeed, it had one of the lowest crime rates in the city, and was rather well to do. It was populated mostly by upper middle class human settlers, with the odd well-to-do Agori and Matoran Universe inhabitant. It was one such Agori, a female Jungle Agori who identified herself as Lisa, who had given us our first case. Apparently, someone had vandalized her plastic flamingo.
“X-Ray,” Nobody said to me as we walked down the street, “I notice that the narration is no longer in third person, but first person. Why are you narrating?”
I said to my Nobody, “Nobody, my very dear friend, the narrator called in sick today, so I am taking over his duties. I also figure that it will be a nice change of pace to people who might be getting bored with our humble comedy.”
“I figured it was more of an epic comedy,” said Nobody. He adjusted his new utility belt, and said, “Still, this could be a good way of making the comedy interesting. Are you going for the Watson approach?”
“The thought crossed my mind,” I said in reply, “but I’m not entirely sure I want to completely change the format of the comedy right in the middle of it. However, if the fans are receptive to this idea, I might choose to keep it.”
“A pity if the narrator losing his job, though.”
“True, but as my dear old dad always says, it amounts to two things; supply and demand. If there is a demand for third person narration, there will be a supply for it. I’ll ensure it, for that matter. Besides, I’m sure that the narrator can get another job, maybe in an up and coming epic. I always hire him to do the narrating in my short stories, though for the song fics I have a singer fellow I know come in-”
“X, quit babbling!” said Nobody, grabbing me by the shoulder. He turned me towards a nice looking, two story house with a four car garage and a big, white wooden door. The house was white with blue trimmings, and had a small front yard with a lovely looking flower garden. In this garden was Mrs. Lisa Muldoon, who was tending to some strange specimen that I had never seen before, probably of Spherus Magnan origin. She was wearing dirty, torn work clothes and a sunhat of a distinctly Earthen style.
Lisa looked up, smiled, and began talking to us in Agori. I myself couldn’t understand her speech, being unstudied in the language. Heck, I could barely put together a complete sentence in Spanish, having only begun my studies in that class.
“What’s she saying?” I asked Nobody. Like all MU inhabitants, he had been bestowed with the ability to speak Agori fluently following Mata Nui’s doing so. I, unfortunately, had come to Spherus Magna at a later date, and did not have this ability, and was a human besides. I had to learn the language the hard way.
“She said, ‘Good morning,’” said Nobody. “Can’t you just use your author powers to give yourself the ability to comprehend the language?”
“It’s unwise to use my powers for such flippant reasons,” I said. I made sure to sound very grave as I said this.
“It’s hardly ‘flippant,’” said Nobody. I was sure he was frowning under his mask.
“Wait, I have an idea!” I said. I concentrated as hard as I could, and voila! A babel fish appeared in my hand, and I stuck it in my ear. I turned to Lisa and said to her, “Hello, I’m, uh, Xavier Ray, and this is my partner, Max Devereux. Please show us the crime scene.” Lisa only looked at me blankely.
“Dude,” Nobody whispered to me, “that babel fish only works one way. You can understand her, but she still can’t understand you.”
“Dangnabbit,” I said. I sighed, and resigned myself to the fact that I’d still have to learn the Agori language the hard way.
Nobody then explained to Lisa why we were here, and how she already knew us, having called upon our services. “Please show us the crime scene,” said Nobody.
Lisa said, “Of course.” She led us over to another section of her garden, where several smashed plants and a shattered plastic flamingo lay on the soft dirt. “As you can see,” said Lisa, “the flamingo is almost completely destroyed, and several of my plants are smashed.”
Nobody knelt down next to the flamingo. “Seems like it was bludgeoned,” he said. “Perhaps a baseball bat?” He then said to me, “X, I need your eyepiece on this.”
“Yes, certainly,” I said, crouching down next to my friend. I pulled up the forensic feature of my eyepiece’s built in heads up display, and scanned the flamingo with black light, infrared, and Gordon Ramsay vision.
“X,” said Nobody, “what’s ‘Gordon Ramsay’ vision?”
“It detects bad cooking,” said I. “The salesman was very convincing when he sold me the feature.” I stood up and said, “Anyhow, the scans show nothing, but I just had an idea.”
“And what would that be?” said Nobody, who also got up.
“Simple!” I said, before whipping out a fingerprint dusting kit. “We dust it for prints!”
“Fingerprints?” said Nobody. “Oh, I’ve heard of those. Humans and Spherus Magna inhabitants have them. MU inhabitants don’t, you know.”
“Is that expository dialogue I hear?” I said to Nobody. “Enough of that jargon between us, old chum. Now, let’s see here…” As I carefully dusted the mangled flamingo, Nobody questioned Lisa.
“When did you notice this?” he said to her.
“It was like that when I came to water the plants a several days ago,” said Lisa. “It was last Thursday.”
I heard the sound of Nobody jotting down notes in a notepad he had with him. “Uh huh,” he said. “Have you noticed anything else suspicious?”
The woman thought for a moment, and the next thing she said caught me completely off guard. “Nothing much, except for my car being lit on fire.”
Nobody paused in mid pen stroke, and looked the Jungle Agori right in the eye. “Your car was on fire?”
“The night before I discovered the flamingo,” said Lisa.
Nobody turned around, removed his mask, and massaged his temples, put his mask back on, turned back to the woman, and said, “Ma’am, I think you need to report this to the police.”
The woman threw her arms up in the air, and said, “I tried to get my husband to call the police, but he says not to worry about it! That’s why I hired you people!”
“But… but,” said Nobody, trying to get over his confusion, “but you’re concerned about your flamingo, but not your car?”
“I had insurance for the car,” said Lisa. “That flamingo is my favorite garden decoration, but no insurance there, no no!”
Nobody said to Lisa, “Ma’am, do you know about anyone who would want to harm you or your husband? Send a message, maybe?”
“I’m fine for myself,” said Lisa. “I don’t know about my husband though. He never tells me anything.”
Nobody nodded, and jotted down some more notes on his notepad. “I think we might have to question your husband… what’s his name?
“Barry. But he’s on a business trip,” said Lisa. “He won’t be back until tomorrow.”
“Right, right,” said Nobody. “Call us when he gets back so we can ask him some questions.” Nobody took a card out of his utility belt and handed it to Lisa. He turned to me and said, “Okay, X, found anything yet?”
I looked up to Nobody and said, “Yeah, I found one full set of finger prints. Like this flamingo was ripped out of the ground before it was smashed.”
“We’ll take those down to the base and run them then,” said Nobody. He turned back to Lisa and said, “Please, do call us when your husband comes back home.” The woman only nodded, and then returned to tending to her garden. Nobody then said to me, “Let’s go, X.”
* * *
“And… here we are, gentlemen,” said the black and grey armored being as he stood up from behind his computer. His name was Rob, and he was in charge of the new fingerprinting program that the OMN had opened after moving their operations to Fe-Metru. MU inhabitants had no fingerprints, but Agori, Glatorian and humans did.
“What have we got?” said Nobody, as he and I stood in the CSI lab on the forty-second floor of the EB.
“It looks likes your man is a small time thug named Krua,” said Rob, turning the computer screen so we could see it. A picture of a helmetless, humorless rock Agori with hard, blunted features stared back at us.
“Krua has been in and out of county jail for petty theft and burglary, and has been known to associate with the local chapter of the Crips,” said Rob, reading from the record on the computer. “He’s currently out on parole after holding up a jewelry store.” Rob leaned over, looking at the computer screen. “His last known residence was 21 Jump Street.” Neither of us laughed. Nobody laughed in fact. “Get it?” said Rob. “21 Jump Street? The TV show?”
“Rob,” said Nobody, “we didn’t come here for jokes. What’s the real address?”
“Fine, sourpuss,” said Rob. “It’s North 59th Street, up in Little Roxtus. Rough neighborhood though.”
“We’ll risk it!” I said, jotting down the address in my own notebook. “We’ve got a case to solve!” I then said to Rob, “Thanks, Rob. We owe you one.”
“I’ll take you up on that, detectives,” said Rob. There was a twinkle in his eye behind his orange Great Huna.
* * *
One twenty minute bus ride later, Nobody and I arrived on a deserted street in Little Roxtus. It wasn’t what we expected from Rob’s description of a “rough neighborhood.” Sure, the streets weren’t very clean, a lot of storefronts had bars in the windows, and there was a Toa of Stone police officer encasing a Skrall warrior’s arms in rock right across the street from us, but… Okay, yeah, it was a pretty bad looking neighborhood, but I had a formidable friend at my side, plus an awesome black Kopaka sword stuck in my bottomless backpack, from the makers of Toa PocketTM!
Anyway, we walked down the street to this fairly rundown looking, one story house. It was painted brown, with no trimmings, in sharp contrast to the Muldoon house. Nobody knocked on the door as the both of us stood on the weathered wooden porch. Half a minute later, a middle aged female Rock Agori answered the door. “Can I help you?” she asked us.
“I’m No-, eh, Max Devereux,” said Nobody. “And this is my partner, Xavier Ray. We’re looking for Krua.”
“Why do you want to talk to my nephew?” said the lady. “He hasn’t done a thing wrong. Are you police?”
“We beg to differ,” said Nobody. “And no, we are not the police. We’re private detectives, hired by Lisa Muldoon from Carson Heights to find out who smashed her flamingo, and possibly set her car on fire. We found Krua’s fingerprints at the scene of the crime, and in the interest of everyone involved, we’d like to talk to your nephew.”
The lady looked at us suspiciously, but then said, “Alright, come on in.” She went back inside as we entered, calling into the house, “Krua! There are two men here who want to talk to you.”
She led us into a grungy living room. The carpet was filthy, and looked as if no vacuum had been used on it ever, the sofa was torn and its stuffing was showing through the ripped sections, and the TV had a crack down the middle which had been repaired with a piece of duct tape.
“I’m beginning to think our apartment isn’t so bad,” I whispered to Nobody. We sat down on the sofa as a younger, male rock Agori came into the living room. He looked at us with contempt, and said, “What do you want, fools?”
“Please, sit down,” said Nobody to Krua. Krua didn’t sit down. “What’s your current address?” said Nobody. “Your full address.”
Krua thought for second, and then said, “10312 North 59th Street, Fe-Metru, Vulcanus Prefecture… 49127, Spherus Magna.”
“What is eighteen divided by two, multiplied by seven?”
Krua appeared confused at first, but then thought for a few minutes, counting on his fingers, and then said, “76.”
Nobody nodded, and then said, “Where were you on the night of August 19th?” said Nobody.
Krua’s eyes shifted to the left corners of his eyes, and his fists curled into balls, and he said to my friend, “I don’t remember. That was, what, two weeks ago?”
Nobody nodded, and jotted something down on his notebook. He gentled bumped my elbow, and I glanced at his pad. It read, “He’s lying.” He then said to Krua, “One week, actually.” He looked Krua in the eye, and said, “Do you by any chance know of a Lisa Muldoon from the Carson Heights neighborhood?”
The rock Agori’s pupils went to the upper right corners of his eyes. Krua’s shook his head, saying, “Never heard of her.” His fists uncurled, and his stance relaxed.
“How about a Barry Muldoon, from the same neighborhood?”
Krua’s eyes widened, and he shook his head vehemently, saying in a loud voice, “Never heard of him either! What the heck do you want, fools?!” He took a few steps toward us.
On the other side of the room, Krua’s aunt said, “Now, Krua, there’ s no need to get angry-”
Krua gave this Aunt his best glare, before turning back to us.
Unfazed, Nobody then said, “I believe that will be all. Also, you may want to study up on your arithmetic. The answer to the math question was 63.” Nobody got up from his seat, and went over to Krua, and looked him the eye, saying, “Also, you were mistaken when you said that you don’t know where you were on the night of August 19th. Care you try again?”
Krua snarled, and then said, “I don’t need to answer you, fool!”
Nobody said in reply, “You’re right, you don’t. However, you would have to answer questions from the police. It was your fingerprints we found on Lisa Muldoon’s plastic flamingo, smashed in her garden, and we could easily turn this evidence over to the authorities.” Nobody paused to allow Krua to absorb this information. He then said, “Or, you could tell us why you did what you did, and we could settle this between Mrs. Muldoon and yourself out of court. Do you understand?”
Krua stared at the floor, evidently thinking over his prospects. He then said, much more quietly than before, “It was just a job. Some human with a weird accent hired me off the street, said he’d pay me to torch the Muldoon’s car and wreck their garden.”
“Did he have a name?” said Nobody. I whipped out my own notepad to jot down my own notes.
“It was really hard to pronounce,” said Krua, mumbling his words. “Alexander… something.”
I wrote down the name on my notepad. “Do you know where we can find him?” I asked. Krua starred at me blankly, and I remembered that he didn’t understand English or even Matoran.
“He asked if you know where we can find him,” said Nobody.
Krua sighed, and then said, “I met him at Branar’s. It’s a bar not far from here.”
Nobody finished scribbling out notes, and then said, “Very good then. We’ll go pay him a visit. If you, ahem, remember anything else, please… call us.” He handed Krua our business card, and then said to me, “Let’s go, Xavier.”
Remembering my pseudo-name, I followed Nobody out the door of the house. I looked behind me to see Krua and his aunt arguing fervently. I hoped that nothing bad would come of it.
As we walked down the sidewalk, I said to Nobody, “Nobody, I have to ask you, how did you know that Krua was lying?”
“The Reid Method,” said Nobody. “An interrogation method which relies heavily on the study of someone’s eyes. For creative thinking, the pupils would go to the upper left corners for creative thinking, as in a math problem, or a lie, and they’d go to the upper right for memory, like when he was telling the truth.”
“Brilliant!” I said. “I wish I’d thought of that myself.”
Nobody snorted and said, “X-Ray, you did.”
“…Oh. Right.” We continued walking, I pulling out my smart phone to get directions to “Branar’s.” Just then, something occurred to me. I said to Nobody, “Nobody, why didn’t you just use your Kanohi Suletu to see if he was telling the truth?”
Nobody remained silent for a moment. Finally, he said, “That’s personal.”
* * *
Branar’s Bar and Grill wasn’t the swankest place I’d ever seen. It was the quintessential dive bar, a one story establishment with no windows and one regular door. There might have been another door in the back, as per city code, but I wasn’t sure. It was painted white, and there was a big sign on the roof reading, “Branar’s Bar and Grill.”
Nobody said to me, “I’ll handle this. You stay outside.”
“Why can’t I come in?” I said. “I’m not that young.”
“Bara Magna national statues clearly state that humans below the age of 21 are not allowed to enter drinking establishments,” said Nobody. “You of all people should know this.”
I held up my hands and said, “You’re right, you’re right. Go in and ask your questions. I’ll just loiter over here on the sidewalk.”
Nobody nodded, and then entered the bar. I waited for several minutes, puttering around in circles. I looked over my notes, brainstormed story ideas, and prayed a silent prayer for Nobody’s safety within the bar. I looked at the clouds in the sky and wondered at how one of them looked like a Kanohi Hau. I examined my lightly exercised muscles, and straightened my tie. I looked at my gold and silver colored watch, and read the time. 1:38 P.M. I adjusted my eyepiece, and squinted in the bright sunlight. I was, in a word, bored.
Suddenly, someone broke down the door of the dive bar from the inside, and Nobody came tumbling out of it. “X!” he shouted. “Get out of here!” Just before we started running, I witnessed a burly looking human with a long mane of black hair in a pony tail and a mustache-goatee run out of the bar. I had enough presence of mind to snap a picture of him with my eyepiece’s built in camera, before running away with Nobody. He and I both ran as fast as we could from the dive bar, and I dared not look behind me again.
“He’s too big to run very fast!” said Nobody. “We’ll outrun him soon enough!” He wasn’t panting nearly as much as I was, he being blessed with a biomechanical Toa body with ever-strong muscles and endurance. I, on the other hand, was not nearly as fit as my friend, and thus began to fall behind. Nobody didn’t look back, but I could hear the man we were running from running behind us.
“Hey, you come back!” he shouted in rough English. His words barely understandable thanks to a thick Russian accent. He’s Russian? I thought. Great. Why couldn’t the evil foreigner be French? …Not that I have anything but respect for the French.
We eventually found ourselves on a busy street, and ran into an alley. It wasn’t exactly grungy, but there were bits of trash all over and a couple of cardboard boxes. Nobody put a hand on my shoulder, and said to me, “X! Get us out of here with your author powers!”
“Right!” I said. I quickly pondered the ways we could escape. Use my author powers to give us both jetpacks? Whip out a Kanohi Olmak for Nobody to use to get us back to the office? Disguise ourselves as homeless people?
Nobody’s facial expression was unreadable beneath his mask, but I had a feeling that he was frowning. “Scratch all that!” said Nobody. He then said, “We need a trains schedule and station map! Now!”
I obliged, running after Nobody as I concentrated as hard as I could, before feeling the object materialize in my hand. I handed it to Nobody, who, studying it quickly, dragged me out of the opposite end of the alley. We both ran as hard as we could down the street. Meanwhile, the big Russian guy had followed us and was gaining ground. But then I had an idea.
“Use your taser!” I said to Nobody. “Get him!”
Nobody ignored me and continued running. Thinking better than to question his plan, I kept running after him. We finally turned around a corner, and, behold! There was a train station before us! Just two blocks ahead. I dared not glance at my watch for fear of slowing down, and Nobody didn’t look like he was going to stop running. “We’re almost to the train station!” I heard him shout. In an effort to slow down our pursuer, I summoned a handful of smoke bombs and let them fly loose from my hands. I heard a gassy sound behind me as they detonated, sending a column of smoke up behind me.
After a few more minutes of running, panting, utterly exhausted, we finally arrived at the train station. We were on a large, cement platform in an open pedestrian area, with a pair of tracks running parallel to each other before us. I whipped out my change purse to pay for tickets at the ticket machine, praying with all my might that the train would arrive on time. The tickets felt like they’d take forever to come out. “Two tickets to Westside!” I said into the machine.
“Two tickets to Westside,” said the computer in a halting, stilted, mechanical voice. Two tickets were dispensed out of the ticket slit. I grabbed them and gave one to Nobody. We were still breathing hard.
Nobody and I then stopped to catch our breath, and then, I looked back behind me. There was a big smoke cloud a block past where we’d run, and there wasn’t anybody chasing us.
Nobody suddenly suffered a spasm of some kind, and put a hand to his head. “He’s coming!” he said to me, almost hissing. I could tell that he was thinking quickly; he balled up his hands into fists when he got stressed. Finally, he said, “Quick! Summon a pair of trench coats and fedoras!”
“What?” I said, incredulous.
“Just do it!”
Nodding, I closed my eyes, took a deep breath through my nose, and exhaled through my mouth. I thought as hard as I could. A pair of trench coats and fedoras, that fits us. I then opened my eyes. There were the coats and the hats, draped across my arms.
Nobody grabbed one of the trench coats and one of the fedoras, and put it on while saying to me, “Put that get up on now! That brute will be here any moment!” I hastily complied with his instructions. I spared one final glance to my right, toward the direction of when we had last seen the man, and I saw him coming. I then turned to Nobody, and saw the train coming in our direction. It was getting closer.
Finally, our pursuer arrived at our location panting and out of breath. We had since regained our breath, and patiently waited for the train to stop in front of us. The big man with the goatee sauntered over to us and said, in broken Agori (I could tell that it was Agori because I had removed the Babel fish from my ear on the way to this neighborhood because it was giving me a headache), “Sirs… have you seen a pair of men in fine clothes running this way?”
I didn’t look at the man, but only said, in my best Spanish, “Uh… Yo no hablo Agori.” The train arrived in front of us, the door opened, and we boarded it. The big man with the goatee stared at us, breathing heavily. He basically looked like a younger version of Danny Trejo, only as a Russian. Good luck imagining that, gentle reader. The doors closed in front of us, separating us and the Russian man. And then the train left.
I went over to a pair of empty seats, and collapsed in the window seat. Nobody sat down next to me, and he said to me, “What time is it?”
I glanced at my watch, and then said, “1:45. The train arrived right on time.”
Nobody exhaled heavily, and then said, “Okay, I guess I’d better tell you what happened.” He then jerked his head up, and said, “Wait, 1:45?” He pulled out a cell phone out of a pouch on his utility belt, examined it for a few seconds, and then relaxed, before saying, “Phew. I thought… I thought today was tomorrow.”
“What’s tomorrow?” I asked, inquisitive.
Nobody took off his fedora, which clashed terribly with his hood, and said to me, “That trench coat and fedora trick works like a charm, doesn’t it? We’ve been using that strategy since my academy days.”
I decided to not pursue Nobody’s worry over the time and day any further. If he had something personal that he felt he couldn’t share with me right now, then so be it. I wouldn’t press him. Instead, I said, “What happened in the bar, Nobody?”
Nobody sighed, and said, “I walked into the bar, and I asked the bartender for a guy named Alexander. He pointed me to this big Russian guy in the back and said he was Alexander. I went over to the guy, and said to him in Agori, ‘Sir, do you know of a Jeff and Lisa Muldoon of Carson Heights?’ He then got angry and pulled out a knife, but I got the jump on him with my melee taser, but then he knocked it away from me. I would have fought him, but I didn’t want to cause a scene, especially in a bad guy bar full of his buddies, so I ran. The door, unfortunately, got broken down in the process. And we ran here, and great job with the smoke bombs, by the way.”
I then said to Nobody, “Thanks. Also, I got a picture of the brute with my eyepiece.”
“Good man!” Nobody said, and we shared a high five. He then said, “Now, you’re going to have to go interview Mr. Muldoon, see if he knows an ‘Alexander’. I’ll take this picture back to base and see what I can find.” He sat back, and took another breath, before saying, “Tomorrow, that is.” He leaned his head back and nodded off.
I nodded, but then something about Nobody’s statement caught me off guard. “I- what do you mean I have to do the interview? I don’t speak Agori! Hello? Nobody?”