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Super Detective Agency-The Sapphire Ring (2)





This story, Super Detective Agency:The Sapphire Ring, is being written.

This article, Super Detective Agency:The Sapphire Ring, is property of Sonicfan919.

Super Detective Agency:The Sapphire Ring is a detective story being written by Sonicfan919. The story follows a young detective prodigy as he investigates the murder of a beautiful woman while simultaneously dealing with a mysterious ring that just might be the key to the case, and something greater.
Crime-Scene





QuoteEdit

"Death is always around the corner, but often our society gives it inordinate help." ~Carter Burwell

Prologue: And So it Began...Edit

The night was cold and dreadfully dark. Not even the crickets dared break the eerie quiet of the early-autumn night. The industrial area had been abandoned for ages and as a result  the mighty yellow vehicles that were once purposed to transform the dry land into a large shopping  center now stood abandoned and rusted. The ground was covered with a peculiar combination of sand and rust. The area was littered with the steel skeletal remains of the building that was never completed. Although the area was officially closed off decades ago, teenagers were known to trespass so they could fool around. The teenagers' presence accounted for all the empty soda cans strewn about. Our story starts here in this dark and desolate location...

Two bright, white beams of light abruptly pierced the unassuming darkness. The beams slowly scanned the area, steadily and methodically; like miniature search lights.

A balding middle aged men folded his arms and looked at his comrade with skepticism.  "So do you see this kid anywhere? I kind of wanted to go home..."

A younger man slowly moved a flashlight, illuminating the area twenty feet in front of him. "Naw.....not yet but he's bound to be here somewhere I'm tellin' ya." the man answered, revealing he had a Jersey accent.

Not too far away was a young teenager with a large, brown duffel bag slung across his shoulder; it felt like he was carrying a boulder connected to a barbed wire on his thin shoulders. He was pressed against a bulldozer, hidden from the flashlight's hungry gaze. This isn't looking too good. He tried desperately to silence his breathing and his eyes were wide with fear. Crap! What a darn mess I've made! I'm so scared...I want them back! Calm down, just calm the heck down...you can do this there are two...three...four of them.I can quickly blow this stand when these guys start talking.

The boy heard a sigh as a fourth voice spoke. "Face it Jake, he's gone." 

"Can we go get donuts now?" a fifth man with a deep voice inquired.

"Not yet Carlston...we need to track this punk down first." Jake, the man with the Jersey accent said as he began to break out in a sweat that caused his knees to cruelly threaten to buckle, his stomach to tighten as if someone was grabbing it and his hair and clothes to cling onto his skin. Please don't let him demote me...please.

"I want donuts!" Carlston growled.

"Boy, calm yo' fat ass down!" Jake snapped as he threw his flashlight down and angrily stomped the ground. "You'll scare him away!"

The middle-aged man chuckled. "Jake?"

Jake, now as pale as milk, turned to his superior with unmistakable fear. "Yes?" 

"I'm beginning to think there is no boy." The middle-aged man said, his hostility now clear.

The boy quietly gulped when he faintly heard "Jake?". Although it wasn't as loud as he had hoped, one of the light beams was gone which allowed him more cover. It's now or never. I can't stop here! The boy began to jog quietly. On his left, he was stripped of the cover of the bulldozer, yet he was now cloaked in the cool and inviting darkness. 

In the darkness however, the boy wasn't able to see the various pop cans scattered about which allowed him to trip and fall, scraping his cheek in the process. The boy instinctively cried out in pain as a sudden and burning pain filled his cheek.

"I see him! Let's go team!" the fourth man yelled. As soon as he finished saying this, the group of men began running in the direction of the young man. The young man promptly got up, held his cheek, and ran off the direction he was headed before he tripped. The boy ran as fast as his legs permitted. The duffel bag ceaselessly hit his legs rhythmically like a pendulum. The boy periodically looked behind him only to see to his dismay that each time his pursuers were a little bit closer. 

Around every corner the boy would turn sloppily, giving the group much more time to cover the distance. Soon the boy's lungs were a raging fire that needed to be doused. The boy cried at the pain but pressed on. He soon made it to a fence that separated the nearby town and the abandoned industrial area. He clumsily climbed over it then stumbled towards the street.

He made it into a brightly lit area, revealing he was of medium height (for a young teen), had a blue-jean jacket over a white T-shirt with the UNLV Rebels logo on the front, blue jeans, and blue athletic shoes. Hoping to lose the men he darted around a nearby corner however a tall man in a suit was there, blocking his path.

"Whoa, what's the rush, son?" the man asked shocked at the panting boy.

The boy was at a loss of words. "Uh...I..." The boy continued panting, allowing the sweet night air to fill the suffering balloons in his chest. The man gave the boy a peculiar look.

Caught completely off guard the men caught up with the boy and pointed their guns at him, revealing they were all police officers.

"Freeze!" they all shouted in unison.

The man in the suit's mouth dropped as he stared at the boy in utter disbelief and shock. The boy looked away in shame, his chest still in pain.

"Now that we have your attention..."Jake began. "Why did you flee from me when I spotted you?"

The obese officer named Carlston took out a mini notebook with a pencil in the spine and put on thick reading glasses. "We will be having your name and address."

The boy remained silent.

"Ah, the silent type aye?" the police officer named Jake asked with a raised eyebrow and hands on his hips. 

The fourth police officer spoke ."Damn kid been playin' too many RPG's." he said as he shook his head and rolled his eyes. He tightly grabbed the boys arm. "Let's go kid! You're goin' down town!" The boy's mouth opened and the dams known as his tear-ducts threatened to burst.

The man in a suit spoke up. "Now wait a minute!"

The obese officer folded his arms as he pulled out a cookie from his pocket. "And who might you be?" he asked, mouth full.

The fourth officer yanked the boy's arm causing him to yelp. "This boy was seen suspiciously wandering around late at night. When I called, he fled. We had no choice to pursue."

It was silent for a bit until the man in the suit finally broke the tension. "I realize this isn't my job but would it be too much to ask if I handle this?" he said as he gave a quick glance to the boy.

The fourth police officer let out a growl. "And who do you think you are, waltzing in on police business!?" he asked, offended.

Jake shone his light at the man's face and they all let out a gasp. "Y-you're...!" the jersey officer stuttered.

The man's look was fierce, like a lion before a kill. "I'd just like to ask a few questions...nothing more." he said calmly.

The fourth man let the boy go. "Heh heh. Whatever you say, sir!" he sheepishly said with a nervous smile. "C'mon boys let's go!" he said. The group of officers quickly walked away.

The boy let out a long sigh of relief. "Thanks..." he said as he turned away, ashamed for some reason.

"No need to thank me. You look thirsty, how about we get a drink?" the fierce man asked.

"..."

The man grinned. "I'll take that as a yes."

...

It was midnight and the two were in a small coffee shop, on the man's side was coffee and on the teen's side was hot chocolate. The boy was looking down at the ground; his light brown hair covering his eyes. To him, the smell of the coffee shop was delightful, the strong smell of coffee and cappuccino fliing his lungs.

The two hadn't spoken much since the teenager thanked the man. Most of the man's questions were met with an awkward silence.

The man looked into the black contents of his mug as the steam warmed his cold face. His expression was neutral which kept anyone from reading his mind. He tilted his head a bit as he looked at the boy whose hair obstructed his vision. A smile, hardly visible briefly flashed across the man's face before the boy slighl tilted his head up.

"I'm sorry to ask, seeing as it must make you most distruaght but I must know...why were you running?" the man asked, a hint a curriosity in his voice.

The boy was suddenly had the liveliness of a statue. He didn't even make a move towards his mug, he simply sat there, his hair shielding his eyes from the man's gaze. "..."

"How did you end up in such a place? Surely a smart young man like you must know that criminals lurk in abandoned areas." flattered the man warmly.

"..."

"Why are you running around at night anyways? It's late and your parents must be worried sick. Nevada, or any place nowadays really isn't suitable for kids to play around. You should be at home." asked the man, now with concern in his voice.

The boy shook a bit and roughly grabbed the edge of his side of the table with his hands causing them to hurt. Other than this however he remained silent. 

The man let out a sigh as he closed his eyes and rubbed his forehead with his middle and index fingers. "You know," he began with annoyance. "I could have left you with the police but I imagined that you would want to talk about things in a more pleasant manner. You can't just walk around at night with-"

"There's no curfew. I checked." said the boy, so quietly that it sounded like a whisper.

The man chuckled. "Oh, so you had your little midnight trek through the abandoned mall all figure out huh?" The man's smile turned into a frown as he pointed to the boy's duffel bag. "Do you see that bag? Most officers would stop you to check it."

"I just had-"

"Some officers would have you arrested for trespassing." the man interrupted.

"That place has been abandoned for years."

"Doesn't matter," the man said with a bored expression on his face as he examined his fingernails. "Construction on the mall never officially ceased so some officers will use that as an excuse to arrest people. Do you think the teenagers just parade inside?"

The boy made made a fist under the table as his face grew red and hot with embarassment due to the tone the man was taking.

The man sighed once more and shifted his gaze away from the boy and to his right to see the mostly empty cafe. He suddenly felt very cold. "Listen, I honestly didn't mean to get snappy with you. It's just that..." the man looked to the ceiling as if the heavens would give him a script that he could use to communicate with the boy. "...I'm not very good at talking with people. I have little experiance with casual conversations. Everything will be fine if you just tell me what I want to know. Why were you running? What were you doing in the middle of the night?" the man concluded as he looked at the boy again, his smile returning.

The boy boy opened his mouth briefly as if to say something then abruptly closed it. "..."

The man sprang from his seat so abruptly that the nearby waitress that was cleaning a table turned her head in shock. The boy looked up at the man with wide eyes, fearful that the man was going to hit him but much to his surprise, the man had an eerie tranquility about him, so tranquil that the man resembled a tree to the boy for a moment before he began to speak again.

"Let's go." he commanded curtly. "You obviously don't want to speak for whatever reason so there's nothing I can do for you. I'll just take you to the nearest police station so they can question-"

The boy looked up at the man with fear in his eyes and began speaking so suddenly and loudly that it was the man's turn to be shocked as he comically jumped backwards a few inces in fright.

"I ran because I was scared!" the boy blurted as his eyes began to grow misty. "I ran because I was afraid they would catch me and try to send me home!"

The man raised an eyebrow at this revealation. Try? Despite his confusion he nodded, wanting to get all of the information he could before the boy became an armless mime once more.

The longer the boy spoke, the faster he spoke becoming increasingly harder to understand. "If they caught me they would try to call my mom and dad but they wouldn't be able to! They'd go to my house and find no one there and they'd send me to an orphanage! A horrible, mean orphanage like the one in Annie and I'd never be able to find my parents!"

The man couldn't help but inquire. "What happened to your paren-"

"I don't know!" the boy cried out as he clutched his head and began to choke as he cried. He sniffled before he went on at a more steady pace. "I don't know what happened to them or where they went. About four days ago my sister Sierra and my mom and weren't at home when I woke up. The night before I went to bed early after getting angry at my dad. I waited a day and they didn't show up so I got worried. I called their phones but no one answered, it went straight to voicemail. My family isn't really big so I couldn't call anyone else. I decided I would find them myself so I packed some food and clothes then left my house a few days ago and travelled across Nevada to find them."

The boy briefly talked about his route and how he came to the abandoned construction zone after the police found him roaming at night.


The man nodded as he raised his coffee mug to his face and drank a few sips. "So, you've set out on a quest to find your missing parents. Very commendable of you." the man applauded with a smile. "However, I couldn't help but wonder...how are you doing? Do you have enough food to find them? Even though you've travelled far you'll need to search every nick and cranny to find your parents." he asked.

"..."

"It's okay, you've told me enough...but if you don't mind me asking, where will you go from here? What's your plan? You have a place to stay, don't you?"

After a two minute silence the boy spoke. The boy took a sip of his chocolate. "Why are you helping me? You don't know me." he asked.

....


"Well, you remind me of myself when I was your age, It brings back memories of who I used to be. I can't just leave you like this." the man explained.He took a sip of his coffee.

"I know this is sudden, but if you don't have anywhere else to go, you can stay with me if you'd like.

The boy raised his head and looked dead at the man with wild eyes. "....What?...." He examined the man for a bit, he concluded that he was a stylish man no older than thirty-two. If that was the case he couldn't possibly be poor. Could he?

"....Really?" the boy asked.

"Yes, I am sure you'll do what's best for you but like I said, if you're in need, I can put you up for the night." the man said.

"This guy is fucking serious! He wants to take in a total stranger! Is he mad!?" the boy thought, in confusion.

"I feel the need to be a good samaritan like everyone else, but this is different...I see something special in you." the man said with a heartfelt smile.

The boy began to squirm in his seat as he began to grow hot again fearful of the man. The man grown man's mention of the word "special" had struck him in the wrong way.

The man shook his head, realizing the boy's fear. "No, no! Please try to understand, I mean you no harm."

"The police seem to respect him... he doesn't seem like a bad guy, either. I guess it wouldn't hurt...for the time being." the boy concluded as he finally made up his mind. "Well, for tonight...I suppose." the boy told.

The man smiled as he finished his coffee. At that moment the boy noticed that something seemed to change in the man, as if he was finally whole. It didn't seem as much as something suddenly grew in the man's heart rather than it was alwyas there but dormant. To the boy, the man suddenly seemed alive, he seemed warm and near rather than far and distant and due to this the boy didn't feel as wary of him.

"Alright, it's settled then." He looked at his watch. "Shall we go? It's getting rather late."

The boy folded his arms. "Now hold on. You didn't tell me your name or where you live. It's shady enough for a grown man to whisk away a young teenaged boy in the dead of night but you expect me to leave without knowing anything about you? No way jose!"

The man smiled. "I'm detective Liam Tailey. I live above my agency, The Super Detective Agency."

The boy looked at him in shock as his draw dropped. "You're a detective and you work for The Super Detective Agency!? They're the best around!!!" he shouted, causing the people that just entered the cafe to turn their heads and even cause some heads of the passerby's outside to turn.

Liam smiled and tilted his head to the left. "Part of it!? I founded it! With my help finding your parents should be a walk in the park!"

The boy smiled. "Then what are we waiting for?!" he exclaimed as he put the bag's straps around his arm and darted out the shop.

Liam smiled as he put on his silver fedora and chased after the boy. "Hey, wait up!"

"Wait, you can't leave!" cried out the flabbergasted owner as he ran after Liam. "You need to pay the bill!" he shouted as he stepped into the cool night air after the detective, the smell of fresh air filling the balding, chubby cafe owner's lungs.

"Put it on my tab!" Liam cried out. Liam threw out the peace sign at the manager before unlocking his car which was next to the curb of the sidewalk.

                                           ...

The two were cruising at a pleasant speed in a black, Toyota . The two had been in the car for about thirty minutes. They had exited the town where the cafe was located early in the car ride and from there they were only greeted by the sight of barren desert decorated with the occasional cactus. Liam smiled at the teen.

"Did you know that Toyota is the biggest car manufacturer in the world?"

The teen shook his head. "Nope, I always thought it was GM."

"No, they surpassed them. American car manufacturers aren't what they used to be. Trust me, I know. I'm madly in love with cars." the man explained with a smile.

The teen laughed. "You must make the ladies cry. With a face like that you could be a move star. Speaking of movie stars you must be mighty rich to get one of them foreign cars."

"Heh. Well I'm not the frugal type." Liam assured with a smile.

"Or the conservative type as it seems." the teen thought. "Why not just get a GM car, you know. From the states."

"I like Japan better than Michigan..." answered Liam. "I suppose I like Japan better than America. To be honest I like anyplace that isn't...here..." Liam began to trail.

Although he knew he wasn't supposed to respond, he decided to anyway. "Why?" he asked quietly. There was no radio, allowing the boy to hear Liam slowly.

His eyes quickly darted towards the teen then looked back at the road. "By the way, what's your name?"

The boy took a while to answer as if he had forgotten it. "It's Nevada Johnson."

Liam raised his eyebrows. "Nevada? Your parents must be pretty patriotic towards the state if they named you Nevada." he chuckled.

Nevada looked towards his shoes. "Yeah, they were." he softly chuckled as a tear ran down his cheek.

Liam looked at Nevada sternly. "They are" he corrected. "In all my years of being a detective I can tell you that a case is only closed when someone gives up. Even if things looks bleak never give up. There will always be a key to answers, it's just that some keys are better hidden than others."

The two were silent for about sixteen minutes as Liam slowly increased his speed to 80MPH and Nevada reflected upon Liam's words of wisdom.

Nevada looked at a passing billboard advertising "Pandora Law Firm". ON the billboard was a woman with long black hair wearing a black shirt black dress pants, black heels and black gloves while folding her arms and smiling. Nevada instantly knew it was Pandora who he found very attractive. He had seen her countless times on television, advertising her law firm which Nevada had begun religiously believing was the best in the country. It was hard for any person not to begin loving the charismatic woman who might cause someone to get in trouble with the law just so they could put their life in her hands.

Nevada turned to Liam. "Hey Liam, did you see that billboard for Pandora Law Firm?" asked Nevada, slightly gleefully.

Liam sighed. "No I did not but I know Pandora." sighed Liam.

"Everyone knows Pandora." stated Nevada.

"Everyone knows of Pandora," corrected Liam. "I actually know her. We've butted heads for a while now."

"Wow, you actually met her?!" asked Nevada.

Liam smiled, pleased that he could make the boy so happy. "Well yes but-"

"If we find my parents I'd want Pandora as a lawyer. You know, to get the kidnapper in jail!" said Nevada.

"Pandora would probably be the one defending the kidnapper with all of her heart, knowing that he committed a crime." Liam sighed. With Liam's sigh, the car was silent once more.

Once the car stopped at a red light Nevada broke the silence. "Hey Liam."

"Hm?"

Nevada smiled mischievously. "You lied. GM is the world's largest car manufactu." he said. He then showed him his phone, displaying the sourced GM Wikipedia article.

Liam smirked. "I hoped you wouldn't be dumb enough to believe me." he looked at Nevada. I guess I got it wrong... "How about I buy you some ice cream?"

The two then headed up the road towards the Dairy Queen between Windmill Parkway and Henderson.

Soon, the two found out they had a lot of things in common and became fast friends. The two quickly grew close and after the first few months of searching for Nevada's parents with no avail, Nevada slowly forgot about them and decided that he would stay with Liam. Liam filled in the void in Nevada's life and the time they spent together was filled with wonder and laughter. Nevada became Liam's right hand man and protégé, helping out with whatever needed to be done and watching him closely, learning all of his detective techniques. Due to the duo's hectic schedule Nevada started taking internet classes, as opposed to going to "real", physical school. With Nevada's help Liam's career flourished as the Super Detective Agency became feared and revered throughout the state of Nevada. With Liam, Nevada seemed to forget all of his problems and with Nevada, Liam felt happier than he did in a long time. However one day...something dreadful happened. Something that would change their lives forever...


Super Detective Agency: Part One: The Dilemma

Chapter One: The CaseEdit

Three years later, at noon we find Nevada in the Super Detective Agency watching a 1930's movie titled Angels With Filthy Faces, his all-time favorite movie. He watched it on a giant flat-screen TV while sitting on a black leather couch.

Nevada watched the movie with intense concentration. Even though he  watched the movie twenty times he had not grown tired of it and noticed new things each time he watched it. At this moment Nevada's favorite scene was playing. As per usual, Nevada was watching the movie at maximum volume which would often prompt Liam to either retreat to his chambers and listen to his music with loud headphones or join his companion but today was different.

"Hey, Nev could you please turn the volume down!? The phone's ringing." Liam shouted..

Nevada nodded. "Yes sir!" he responded as he turned down the volume with the slender black remote.

Liam smiled at Nevada's compliance as he picked up the phone. "Hello? Super Detective Agency, Liam Tailey speaking." he answered as his face turned stone hard instantly "Yes...I see. What's the problem? Oh," his face turned into a frown. "Tell me everything you know." he walked away, stretching the house phone as far as it could go. "Yes. Mmhmm..."

Nevada paused the movie and stood up. "Is something wrong?" he asked, concerned. Nevada stood between the television and couch which took up most of the living room. Off to the side was a small brown table with three wooden chairs. The living room was connected directly to the large kitchen which was cut it half by a marble bar top which was above a row of four velvet-padded stools. Separating the living room and dining room from the Agency's research room was a metal door and a small window covered with frosted glass.

Liam came back to the phone's receiver. "Okay, I'm on my way." he said. He put the hung up the phone and turned to his partner. "Yes. There's been a murder. I'm going to where they found the body right now. Hand me my coat." he explained.

Nevada went to the coat stand  and handed Liam's coat to him. The wooden coat stand was located at the very edge of the carpeted living room, beyond that was the door that led outside the agency and directly across that door were the stairs that led to the upper floor. 

"Can I come?" Nevada asked, anxiously as he handed Liam his stylish tan trench coat.

Liam smiled at his friend's pleading look. "How many times are you going to ask me "Can I come?" with that puppy-dog pout of yours?" asked Liam, making his voice slightly higher when he quoted Nevada. "Of course you can come! Go put on your clothes, don't worry about showering." And with this, Nevada ran upstairs to change. He came out five minutes later with a brown trench coat an a matching brown fedora.

"How do I look?" he asked as he held his arms out.

Liam smiled and put his hands to his cheeks as he raised his eyebrows. "Aww! You look simply adorable!" he mockingly cooed.

"Cut it out! You know I hate that! I do not look adorable. I'm a teenage detective. I am strong and firm." he stated with a glare of annoyance as he folded his arms.

Liam thunderously laughed. "Oh right, I'm sorry. I forgot that you were such the lady-killer!" Liam rubbed his chin and closed his eyes with a devilish smile. "Oh wait, no, I'm the lady-killer." Liam jokingly bragged.

Nevada gritted his teeth in annoyance. Even though Liam acted like such a Casanova towards any woman under the age of forty-nine, he always found it strange that he never pursued any serious romantic relationships.

Nevada smiled. "Don't you dare patronize me Liam Tailey. I've took down my fair share of criminals, I earned the right to call myself a real man."

"Says the "man" with a bug phobia." Liam mocked as he raised his eyebrows and folded his arms.

Nevada's eyes widened. "Don't you dare say the "b" word!" snapped Nevada, his eye beginning to twitch.

"I'm the man of the house Nev. You have no power." he joked. "Besides... I didn't mention your foot phobia now did I?" Nevada said slyly.

Nevada facepalmed. "Don't talk about my foot phobia either!"

Liam laughed his way out the door and Nevada angrily followed and locked the door.

The two got in Liam's car which was now a black Lexus. The two were both riding in the front seat like they did three years ago but this time they were speeding like demons.

Liam smiled. "This brings back memories." he sighed.

Nevada looked at Liam. "How so? We drive in black cars all the time." he asked.

"You don't remember? It's been exactly three years since we first met that night. You were young with long shaggy hair..." Nevada touched the back of his brown hair which Liam had cut himself. "...and I was ignorant of the detective world." he said.

Nevada gave him a look of confusion. "What are you talking about Liam? You were always the best! The baddest of the baddest! The toast to the bread!" he exclaimed.

"Nope. When I met you I began to learn much more than I ever could without you. I believe I'm still learning."

Nevada stared at him. "Do you....do you really mean that?" he asked in disbelief.

Liam smiled, still looking directly at him as their GPS tracker informed them to turn left. "Yes..."

"...Liam....you're going to crash!" shouted Nevada in terror as the barreled toward a tree. 

Suddenly, Liam quickly turned left, causing the two to jolt painfully to the right. Shortly afterwords he pulled into a driveway and hit the brakes causing the two to jolt forward only to be saved by their seat-belts.

"Thank god for seat-belts!" Liam exclaimed as he turned the car off,put his keys in his pocket and got out.

Nevada smiled. It was sick for he knew not to smile at a person's death but he couldn't help himself from getting excited. He didn't get many big cases and this was his chance to prove to his town that he wasn't just "Liam's Shadow", he was Nevada Leroy Johnson, teenage detective, second-in-charge of The Super Detective Agency.

He opened the glove compartment, felt around for a bit, took out his mini-notebook with a picture of a ,tall animated girl with blue pig-tails and red numbers on her arm taped on the back and put it in his pocket. He then took out a pencil and put it between his ear and head. Without further adew, he opened his door and followed Liam. As he exited the car an extremely faint buzzing sound could be heard.

They walked towards a healthy looking yard that was blocked by yellow police tape that read: Crime Scene: Do not Cross. Nevada was thankful for the trade wind that blew through town and whipped his hair for without it the teenager would be subject to the to arid temperature of Nevada that would only get worse as the year crept towards August.  The two were about to duck under the police line when they were stopped by a police officer.

"Name?"

"Liam Tailey and this is my partner Nevada Johnson."

The police officer smiled. "You're parents must have been-"

"-mighty patriotic to name me Nevada." Nevada finished in annoyance. Yada, yada, yada. Do you people have anything new to say regarding me because if not I'd prefer if you'd just keep your mouth shut.

"Anyways. Are you sure that a kid really should be poking his nose in this deep of criminal shit?" the officer asked.

Liam folded his arms, inhaled then exhaled loudly, and gave the officer his now famous fierce lion look. "Do I look unsure to you?" he asked, sternly.

The officer gulped. "No siree. Right this way." he aided Liam and Nevada under the yellow tape that the boy had grown so accustomed to and towards the house.

Liam turned towards his young friend. "Nevada, stay out here for awhile. Survey they area for a while and jot down what you see. As of late you've been getting better at keeping notes and I want you to focus on that for a while."

"Yes Liam sir! How do you want me to write them?"

"Hmmm. Write as descriptive can be while still keeping it short. This could be a big case, if so you'll need all the pages of your notebook that you can get. No more writing a full page about the number of clouds in the sky."

Nevada looked slightly embarrassed. "Yes. I understand."

Liam smiled with his eyes half closed. "Good. Join me when you feel you have enough material to possibly aid me with inside." And with that Liam went inside the house and closed the door behind him.

Nevada slightly looked behind him and sighed. All the adults were staring at him as always. It was embarrassing, three years ago he was tall for his age, but now, at fifteen his growth had been slowed down (he constantly blamed the coffee he would drink while working late on cases) to a crawl and now he was short for his age and everyone would always call him kid. When he would walk to the liquor store to buy junk food fourteen-year-olds would want to hang out with him. He was never invited to hang out with eighteen-year-olds though.

"Meeeeoooooooow!" he jumped and saw an orange cat in the window, behind it were dark blue curtains. He slowly waved at it, still startled. He whipped out his Hatsune Miku notebook, removed the pencil from his ear and began writing. Orange cat in house. Clearly victim's. Will determine health later. Appears to be of the tabby breed.

He looked at his notebook. DAMN! He thought, he had still wrote too much. He sighed and looked at the grass under his feet and began writing again. Well kept lawn. It's striped horizontally. There are three gnomes near the flower bed which is near the porch. At least ten different specimens of flowers. A large rosebush stands right and left of the porch. Nevada looked around the area quizzically. The neighborhood looks very healthy, the grass is very green and there are a lot of trees for a Nevadan neighborhood.

The other police officers shot him quizzical looks as he trotted around the sides of the house giving it long stares and raised eyebrows. As he walked towards the backyard he heard the faint buzzing sound again. He sat on the large, brown patio at the back of the house and began writing again.

Victim's house appears to be expensive. It has a basement, a main floor, an upstairs and an attic. It has a large chimney and a garage connected to the house on the left side of the house, making the driveway leading to the large backyard at the right side of the house moot in my opinion. The backyard houses a green-house that appears to be full of life next to an outside garden that houses Chicories, Cauliflowers and Carrots....which are at the very moment being attacked by a rabbit.

"Ugh! Too long again." grumbled Nevada. He sighed. It was to be expected though, the exterior of the house would take longer to analyze.

He got up and looked around some more before leaning on the green house and beginning to resume his note taking, trying to ignore the buzzing sound which had become slightly louder. The victim also owns a shed that shares it's color with the house. It's fairly large, able to fit a medium-sized car inside judging from the exterior. It has a basketball rim above the door located at the side of the shed facing the house.

He closed the notebook and stood at the side of the house and began writing down more info on the house. As said before it is large. Three windows are visible on the left side of the house, one for each floor and the front of the house has two square windows on the first floor, two square windows on the second floor and a circular window on the attic's floor. The house has a faint yellow look to it. It is unknown if the elements have wore down a brighter yellow or if it has always been this dull of a color.

He closed his arms and folded his arms, trying to remember if there appeared to be anything else of note. He heard the buzzing sound again and felt a sharp sting on his earlobe causing him to instinctively hit it. He looked around, paranoid then he saw it. A large swarm of flies and gnats were around the side of the house, so thin that you had to squint to see them individually. Towards the top of the house he saw a brighter yellow, honeybees...

He tried to quickly look away at his feet only to find a horrifying number of ants at his feet. He felt woozy but he knew he could not drop to his knees because the ants would crawl on his hands.

Nevada felt like crying, he wanted desperately to go inside but he knew he couldn't unless he had reported on everything. He shakily wrote down bugs are everywhere before bending over and violently vomiting on the driveway.

Several police officers looked at him. He held his stomach painfully as he walked towards the door. "I'm alright." he said hoarsely. When he made it towards the door he quickly ran inside, slammed the door and proceeded to lock it. 

His head darted quickly to the right then left before he let out a long sigh. No insects in sight. 

Nevada breathed in the air and quickly held his nose. The house reeked of beer. He knocked on the wall next to the closet that was near the front door and heard a clinging sound. He turned to a police officer who was nearby. "Sir, I think you should check this out."

The officer looked at him as he ate a doughnut. "Check what out boy?" he walked towards Nevada.

Nevada knocked on the wall again and both him and the officer heard it. The officer looked at him and shrugged. "What would you like me to do Detective Nevada?"

"I would like you to make a hole in this wall so I can see what's inside." Nevada answered with a slight smile creeping in on his otherwise serious face. Even though he heard it before he liked the ring of "Detective Nevada".

The officer took off his hat and wiped the sweat on his forehead with it. "Son, it's going to cost money to repair the hole and we need to make this house spiffy just in case someone wants to buy it."

Nevada shook his head. "It won't cost that much and if there's a problem the Super Detective Agency will pay for the damages-we're not stingy. Besides, it will be a while before anyone buys this house, being a crime scene and all."

The officer nodded thoughtfully and bashed the wall with his club. After the fifth strike he made a hold in the wall the size of a basketball and the beer smell got worse and a several brown bottles came falling out of the hole and onto the floor, each one being chipped on impact sending glass shards on the floor. If it weren't for their shoes Nevada and the police officer would have been cut.

Nevada reached in and grabbed a bottle. He looked at it. It was beer, Bud Light to be exact. He placed it on the ground and grabbed another, this time it was a bottle that read Bud.

Nevada gave the bottle a puzzled look. "Not that I drink beer or anything but I've never seen this at the liquor store or anywhere." he said.

The police officer looked at it. "That'd be Bud. The Budweiser in Europe." he said in a British accent. "Like me accent? I've been practicing." he asked while still having the accent.

Nevada placed Bud on the floor and took out another bottle. This time it was Bud Ice, a Budweiser beer with 5.5% more alcohol. He placed it on he ground than took out another titled Bud Dry, then another titled Bud Silver, then another titled Bud Extra, then another titled Budweiser NA. Then one titled Bud Light Lime. It was simply beer bottle after beer bottle after beer bottle.

After taking out a Michelbob Ultra he began to feel faint by the smell so he placed it on the floor and head towards the kitchen which was located right of the stairs leading towards the upper floors and the basement. Once he entered the kitchen he noticed the walls, curtains, refrigerator and floor were all yellow. He began writing again. The victim's favorite color is clearly yellow. 

Nevada opened the refrigerator with a freezer attached to it and scanned it. Lunch-meat, pizza, frozen yogurt....typical food but what's this? He looked around for beverages. No orange juice, milk or lemonade. Just alcoholic beverages. He hadn't even learned much about the victim aside from their monstrous drinking habits and yet he detested them.

He closed the refrigerator and looked at the top of it there was cereal but no milk. He could only assume the victim substituted the milk with beer. He shuddered and sweat rolled down his forehead causing him to use the freezer-connected-ice maker and pop an ice cube into his mouth. Not even ten seconds later he spat the cube out. It tasted strange and he started to feel dizzy.

Nevada ran to the cabinets and took out a purple martini glass and filled it halfway with what he believed to be water. He then gulped it down in an attempt to wash the taste out his mouth. This attempt failed miserably because the liquid he drank simply was a melted version of the cube. He clutched his stomach with one hand and his head with the other. He was beginning to feel drunk. "What did this person do to the water supply!?" he moaned loudly.

He searched around the room for the cause and under the sink cabinet he found several bottles of a drink called Everclear. Nevada sighed as he sat on the kitchen chair and began writing in his detective mini-notebook again. Victim drank an insane amount of alcohol. The entire water supply has been tampered with.The victim is known to buy foreign beers. 

Nevada laid his head down on the table and tried to rest. The last thing he noticed before he put his head down were Sourdough Hotcakes in the window sill.

...

He wasn't entirely sure how long he had slept. When he came to it was slightly darker but not yet dusk. He rubbed his eyes and identified the source of his awakening. A bald, chubby man with a tan had slammed the door. Like Nevada he was wearing a red tie, unlike Nevada he was also wearing a business suit and had a briefcase. 

The man was about to walk up the stairs when Nevada stumbled out of his chair and walked slowly towards the man who had turned his head and raised his eyebrows at the sound of Nevada fumbling out of the chair, with this Nevada noticed his bushy, gray mustache.

"Who are you?" Nevada asked, gasping for air.

The man raised his eyebrows. "Why I'm the coroner of these parts. And who might you be? I've never seen you around."

Nevada folded his arms. "I could say the same to you. I'm Detective Nevada Johnson of The Super Detective Agency." he explained, skeptical of the coroner.

The coroner smiled. "Strange, I  examine each death in these parts. Look me up I'm Jameswald Darwil."

Nevada was silent as he took out his phone and began searching the coroner's name on Google. 

The Coroner chuckled. "So, your name's Nevada boy? Son, that's bout' the stupidest name I've ever done heard. Sounds like some patriotic idiots named you the first thing that dun' come to mind. And the Super detective agency. That's another stupid ass name! What's the super for, to make you sound cooler?! You might as well call it the Super Dooper Detective Agency!"

Nevada's hand curled into a fist and. "What did you say!? How dare you insult me!? I suggest you watch how you're talking to me before-"

The coroner set down his notebook, grabbed him by the collar and lifted him six inches off of the ground. "Son, watch how you talkin'. We dealing with adult business here and no dumb boy is gon' to me what to do." he shoved him down and went up the stairs after he picked his suitcase up.

Nevada simply lay on the ground, in a daze. How dare he do this to me? It was at times like these when Nevada wished he were taller, bigger and more threatening. He sighed and wondered if Liam was thinking about him right now. Liam seemed to be forgetful when on a case. He sighed some more and dozed off again at the bottom of the stairway. He was still dizzy from his run-in with alcohol earlier.

                                                                ...

He felt a firm and rough hand shake him.

"Wake up!" the voice of the Coroner commanded. It smelt like bad cologne, probably Axe. It was a nice smell that included a hint of chocolate that was not too strong and had a nice airy aroma to it. Nevada slowly opened his eyes. To see the scowl on the chubby man's face.

"What? Why?" asked Nevada.

"That Liam guy wants you. He's getting pretty antsy about you." The Coroner explained.

Nevada's eyebrows curved down. "Why should I trust you?"

"You don't have much choice. Want to stay on this cold floor?"

Nevada sighed. "Fine." And with this the Coroner helped him up and threw his arm over his shoulder and helped the teen up the stairs. The two went to the room the the farthest right and entered the room. The room was fairly large with a large carpet and a large red bed in the center of it. The room had three doors, one of which led to the hallway which Nevada had just came from. Towards one of the doors, opposite of the one Nevada came from was a black media center.

As soon as they entered the room the Coroner let go of Nevada who had been overcame by the smell of the room, the intense smell of roses. Nevada instantly received a headache and he wondered if this was perfume or if this was to preserve the body...wait! The body's here!

He turned to the red bed where a woman lay, lifeless. She was covered in a red sheet that went up to her shoulders, it appeared to Nevada that she was naked. Nevada tilted his head, in his eyes she was beutiful--for a corpse.

It appeared as if she didn't pale, she was peach skinned, red-haired and had a round face with freckles. Her hair was messy and she had big and luscious lips that practically begged to be kissed...

Nevada flinched. What is wrong with me?! Why am I thinking such thoughts of a corpse!? How sick am I!?

He looked around the red room and realized there were only five people in the room. Himself, the Coroner who had a blank expression, a police officer who looked at him quizzically, a man with brown hair and a mustache who he assumed to be a policeman but was wearing normal clothes, and finally Liam who looked like he had saw a ghost.

Liam finally spoke but it seemed more like a whisper. "Um, Nev? May I see your notes?"

Nevada turned towards him nodded and handed him his notebook. He scanned it and the whole room was in silence. After closing the book he looked as if he'd been shot. "She's....she's an alcoholic?"

Nevada nodded, confused. "Yeah, she's an alcoholic. Didn't you smell the beer when you walked in?"

Liam sighed. "Nevada, do you know how long it's been since I walked inside this house. I probably forgot."

This answer only seemed to confuse Nevada only more. Liam usually never forgot anything, sure there were times when he wouldn't listen but he never forgot anything. Maybe Nevada's nose was simply stronger than his.

"Well what's the info on this lady?"

Liam cleared his throat. "This lady..." he gestured towards the woman on the bed. "This is Marilyn Apricott. She's the same age as me and she's dead due to as-of-now unknown causes. Her body looks well preserved so we're guessing she died a night or two ago."

"What's her family like? Anyone who would want to kill her?" asked Nevada.

Liam shook his head grimly. "Not that I know of. She has an older sister named Trish, a brother named Greg and a little sister named Sam. They all loved her."

Nevada wondered how he knew that they loved her. "So, you've been up her all this time and you haven't examined the body?"

The Coroner gave a smile and turned to Nevada. "Nope, your partner here is too chicken to look at Mari's body."

Nevada began to feel angry again at the Coroner but calmed down.  He closed his eyes and smiled. "Well let's have a looksee shall we fellas?"

Liam's eyes widened. "Nope! Bad idea! You're way to young to-"

The man with the brown mustache cut him off. "Please. He's not too young to see a corpse naked. You're simply too old to be whining inanely! Now, if you do not wish to be upstaged by your protege I suggest you take off the sheets."

Liam was silent.

The police officer sighed. "Let me handle this." Without further adew he yanked the sheet off, revealing Mari's naked body and like bees to honey everyone but Liam had rushed to the bed and scanned her, seeing if they could find the cause to her death.

Liam simply relocated outside of the room, his face red as a beet.

The three men and young man leaned in closer to the women's body which was extremely svelte with no nimiety fat. Nevada took a sniff. "She smells like black orchid!" he said with an oddly glee smile.

"My wife smells like this too. It's rose scented ." the man with the brown mustache said.

"She died in her sleep? Her eyes are closed." asked Nevada.

"We're not sure yet, they may have been closed out of respect." Answered the police officer.

"Yes, I remember now. Her eyes were open. She must of had some unfinished business." said the man with the mustache.

Nevada slowly and carefully opened Marilyn's eyelids. Her eyes were green but something looked different about them then normal eyes. They were dull, dark and lifeless with a glazed sheen to them and her pupils appeared to be abnormally large. They were still beautifully bright, even in this state. 

He took Marilyn's face with his hands and leaned in closer. What am I doing!? he thought but nevertheless kept leaning in closer.

"Kid..." someone said, but he didn't process who, some force drew the boy to the unnaturally beautiful woman. Even though someone was calling him, the outside world had faded for he was too ready preparing to kiss her...

"Kid."

Nevada instantly let go of her and turned to the person who yelled which was the Coroner. "We're getting ready to flip this chick over."

Nevada looked at him. "Let me check one more thing."

He pried her mouth open. Her teeth and tongue were elegant but soon a foul stench began to creep out of her mouth. It reeked of...beer (of course), onions, ice cream and medication. He wasn't sure what type of medication it was though.

He closed her mouth and backed away from the naked body. He could of swore he saw some sourdough H=gotcakes in the window sill in the kitchen but Marilyn's breath didn't smell of hotcakes. Why?

The three men flipped her over revealing the back of her head, back, back of legs and buttocks. When they flipped her over a black square was flung across the room. Nevada scrambled across to get it and picked it up.

Nevada smiled. "Well look what I dun got here!" he said as he held up the phone. The men stared at him as if he were a god. The aid of a victim's phone has proved countless times the turning point of an investigation; if one has the phone, one has the victim.

The Coroner walked towards Nevada and held his hands out. 

Nevada tucked it in his fedora. "Nope. Sorry, finders keepers. I learned that rule when I was five. Need some refreshing mister Darwil?"

Darwil growled. "I'm required to take that from you! I have more authority brat!"


Nevada went to his ear and began to whisper. "Let me keep the phone or I spill the beans about you putting your hands on me."

The Coroner was silent.

"Don't think that I let you get away with hurting me. I was just waiting for something to black mail you with."

The Coroner stood up straight and smiled. "Impressive kid. I think I misjudged you."

Nevada smiled as he and the Coroner went back to Marilyn's corpse. The Coroner began his evaluation of the situation. "The woman doesn't have a scratch on her, it looks as if she's perfectly fine. She must have died of natural causes but just to be on the safe side."  he took out a sixty milliliter syringe out of his suitcase, inserted a needle on it and drew thirty milliliters of Mari's blood. This caused Nevada to look away, he was afraid of needles and blood.

The flipped the woman back over and put the sheet back in.

"Hey! Kentucky fried chicken! You can come back in now!" declared The Coroner.

Liam returned with his face slightly less red with blush. "Are you pervs done yet?"

Nevada raised an eyebrow at Liam. Normally his mentor was calm and mature but today he was acting annoyingly puerile today. 

The police officer nodded at Liam.

Liam sighed. "Let's go home then."

"Wait, aren't we going to investigate the house some more?"

Liam shook his head. "This house is making me depressed."

"Aww and just when I was getting excited!" whined Nevada.

He turned to the men. "Is it alright if I come here tomorrow to investigate some more?"

The man with the brown mustache smiled. "The Sheriff of this county approves." he said with a smile.

"Oh really? You talked to him that fast?" Nevada asked.

The man with the mustache smiled as he snapped and pointed at The Coroner.

"What?" asked The Coroner.

"Hand me a mirror."

The Coroner rolled his eyes as he handed the man with the brown mustache a mirror while smiling.

The man began to speak to the mirror. "Sheriff, do you approve of this detective investigating tomorrow? Why yes I do. Boy are we handsome! Why yes, yes we are!" 

Nevada smiled at this display. "Pleased to meet you chief." he turned around and saw Liam was walking down the stairs sullenly. Before Nevada could turn go out the room a girl with blonde hair and freckles with green eyes wearing a short-sleeve crochet floral dress ran into the room and knocked Nevada to the ground.

When he got up he saw her crying while beside Mari. "Come on auntie Mari! Wake up! You have to wake up!" she began to shake the corpse. "Wake up dammit! Wake uuuup!!!" the police man began to pry her off when Nevada ran down the stairs after Liam. 

Nevada folded his arms. Boy was he maudlin about this case! And that girl...who is she?

Chapter Two: At NightEdit

The two detectives sat in Liam's car, which would have been cloaked in complete darkness if not for the streetlights which filled the car with a chilling dim yellow light.

Nevada carefully studied his notes and concluded that he didn't have enough information or clues to make any assumptions about the murder. All he knew was that the victim was a heavy alcoholic and she was rich. She possibly could have made enemies at the bar or something, or she could have acquired this money illegally and someone got revenge, but these were both assumptions and not nearly enough evidence to really present anything to Liam. 

He thought again. Maybe she had been poisoned by some rotten food in her greenhouse, maybe her death had something to do with the bug outbrea-

As soon as Nevada realized that the bugs were still swarming he quickly rolled up his window and jerked his head towards, Liam who rested his hands atop each other on top of the steering wheel which supported his head that he lay face down in those hands. He might know something about this woman though. 

And what's up with him anyway? He's acting extremely maudlin, puerile and distraught about this case; about the death of this woman. He's a detective and he told ME to never become to attached to the person you're investigating. Unacceptable. Nevada shook his head in disappointment.

Liam cleared his throat. Liam seemed to know the woman, he might give the duo more insights on this woman-whether by purpose or accident.

"Liam. Are you going to drive? We've been sitting here for fifteen minutes now." asked Nevada.

Liam sighed. "Just give me a few more minutes. I'm not feeling too hot." he said, his voice horribly muffled.

Nevada shook his head. "See but that's the problem. You're NEVER like this about anyone. Heck, I'm not even sure you would act like this if I died!" 

"Don't be preposter-"

"Liam, I'm not." Nevada chuckled. His smiled faded and he shook his head, this time in a more serious mood. "I'm not Liam. Why? Why are you so woebegone about this girl?"

Liam leaned his head back against the top of the seat and smiled as he turned to Nevada. "I see you've been reading my dictionary....." he said, closing his eyes. "Bear with me Nev. This whole speech will be littered with unnecessarily elaborate words and will be extremely discursive."

Nevada was silent as he looked forward at Marilyn's backyard. 

"Are you ready?" asked Liam.

"Yeah." replied Nevada.

"Nevada, reach in the glove compartment and fetch me a ring in there. It's a ring with a four-leaf-clover design."


Nevada complied without hesitation and after some digging,he handed him a large golden finger ring with a bright green, emerald Four-Leaf-Clover on it. Liam looked as if he were the brink of tears and Nevada couldn't help but feel guilty.

Liam choked out the first few words. "We met; me and Mary that is, a long time ago in autumn. It was a beautiful day and it looked as if the whole world had been splattered with orange paint."

Liam paused and the world was silent, even the insects stopped buzzing as Nevada looked at him.

"I-I had no friends. I was the new guy in town after coming to Nevada from...my home." Liam sighed before chuckling a bit. "I was the new guy in town and I hated it: hated everyone laughing and having fun but me. I tried to hang in bars to make friends and impress ladies but they all laughed at me. I think it had something to do with all the papers in books I would lug around in my giant book-bag, looking like a stereotypical dork with my giant glasses but whatever it was it was clear that I wasn't making any progress. Then Tommy came..."

Nevada instantly snapped out of his imagining of Liam with glasses at the mention of 'Tommy'. "Tommy Heralds?" asked Nevada. "The crime boss Tommy?"    

"Yeah him." answered Liam as he looked at Nevada with bitterness. "As I was saying, Tommy and his crew of booboisies came along and offered me a role in their gang. As I teen I was never fond of gangs but it was clear that my normal personality and preferences wouldn't cut it in this town so I decided to adopt an ersatz one. I acted all cool and shit wearing leather clothes and shades, my hair slicked back like I was some greaser." he took a long sigh. "Even then I didn't really "fit in" with them perse. They just kept me for the laughs. To them I was the three stooges rolled up into one little convenient wannabe."

Nevada looked at Liam as if he were a madman. He couldn't believe for an instant that clean-cut, law abiding Liam Tailey was once part of the local gang, The Sharks - albeit for comedy relief - but he didn't question Liam in the middle of his story.

"I would always screw up their jobs. Always be the slowest runner and get caught by the cops. They never castigated me for my colossal blunders, oh noooo! If they did that they would lose their laughs for as we know without the laughs they get from seeing innocent people suffer, The Sharks are nothing but a couple of punks popping pills and using LSD. Nevertheless I was treated as a member. I was to report my blunders to the autocrat of The Sharks who would simply laugh them off and I learned their extensive slang lexicon. By the way did you know that the sharks use the word 'ryuhiop' to refer to someone who is short of stature?"

Nevada snapped his fingers. "So that's why they called me that!"

"WILL YOU SHUT UP AND LISTEN!?" roared Liam with the viciousness of a lion. 

Nevada turned the other direction away from Liam.

Liam sighed and buried his face in his hands. "I'm sorry I snapped Nev but can I please just finish the story?"

"..."

Liam sighed again as he took his face out of his hands. "I hate those scumbags but if it weren't for them I never would have met probably the most beautiful woman in the macrocosm. Anyway, besides when I would accidentally blunder The Sharks felt the need to pull pranks on me and for me to be the one to pull pranks that would backfire on other people. It was...part of our ritual you could say. Anyways, on a cool autumn day the prank involved me going to Alm Park where they told me they hid some of their stash of substances under a tree stump. They told me to get their seven inch stick of Ghyholide, a drug that they made and as you know, causes immense pain in the parts of your body that it comes in contact with as well as causing fierce hallucinations. They told me it was harmless and the only reason they wanted me to test this is because the police may or may not have tampered with it. I did so and unknown to me, they were hiding in the bushes snickering away as their devious plot unfolded before their nasty little eyes. I remember the day well. I cautiously strutted towards the tree stump near the basketball court as a harridan eyed me with hate. I gave her the bird as I kneeled at the stump and took out the stick."

Liam paused and Nevada looked at him with a hint of irritation due to Liam screaming at him before.

"I looked left and right and realized there was no where to hide. "Crap" I thought as I began to visibly panic. I quickly realized most cops wouldn't even realize that this was a drug so I simply sucked on it. And boy was it hell! I felt a horrible stinging sensation on my tongue and a bit down my throat. Then, the burning. Oh, how it burned oh how it hurt. I realized I had swallowed some causing it to burn in my stomach as well so I fell to the ground screaming bloody murder, causing everyone to stare at me as I screamed "MAKE IT STOP! MAKE IT STOOOOP!" while clutching my stomach and spitting, hoping to get it out my system."

Nevada gave Liam a shocked expression as Liam looked towards the ground with a painful little smile.

“Everyone was looking at me like I was mad except the two Sharks who were hiding in the bushes laughing their asses off at my pain.” Liam put his head in his hands. “All those people looking at me, those eyes burning into my skin, into my very soul and all the while that crazed cackling never-ending, never resting I’m amazed they didn't asphyxiate. Then out of nowhere an altruistic maiden appeared before me. He hair red as apples, her eyes a gentle and caring emerald, her face masterfully dotted with freckles. It was as though the world halted when she arrived at the park. The sharks even stopped their demonic laughing so they could ogle at the busty woman…”

Nevada smiled slyly. “Oh, she was indeed busty Liam.” He said foxily.

Liam did not hesitate to slap his young friend on his cheek. “I hope for your sake that you did not dare touch them!” he barked.

Nevada ignored the sharp stinging and apologetically smiled while shaking his head as he blushed due to the mention of 'them'. “N-no no! I would never grope a woman sir!”

Liam folded his arms and looked out the window. “Everyone’s, barring the sharks, eyes were wide with horror at my predicament. Marilyn’s eyes were wide as well but not of fear, of concern. Do not misunderstand me my friend she was as terrified as the rest of the passerby’s but she was terrified for me not at me. She was concerned for my well-being and without hesitating she helped me up and begged for an ambulance.”

Everyone was daft because she was helping a Shark. “Let that scum be!” “He gets what he deserves!” they yelled. It was at that point, with me in that girl’s arms, the entire town against me that I realized that I truly had become a monster. Even though I wasn't very good at it I was apart of a vicious gang that got their jollies from seeing others in dire pain and distress. Bad enough, I was a monster truly alone. I had turned my back on a life of innocence and the gang life that I ran to was smiling devilishly at my struggle all the while.”

Liam paused and began to laugh manically. Nevada could only tilt his head in utter disbelief as his mentor began to apparently slip into madness.

Liam suddenly began to shout causing Nevada to flinch and nearly wet himself (a bit of urine actually did come out but not enough to be noticeable).

“Stop it! Leave him alone you scoundrels! Can't you see that he's hurt!?” she screamed causing most of the wide-eyes to be directed towards her.

“He’s a Shark you tramp!” I recall a balding man walking his German Shepard replying.

“I don't give a damn what he is! All I care about is him getting help!” I distinctly remember her saying.

I was utterly amazed at her unfounded kindness, so amazed in fact that I almost forgot about the pain. Key-word almost. I suddenly felt a sharp pain through my body as if I was being ripped in half. I fell to the ground and I swear I could hear the colors of the park screaming at me.” Liam paused again and shuddered. Nevada accordingly gave his mentor a brusque pat on the pat, not knowing that his mentor thought that the boy was almost teasing him and as such gave a weak glare at Nevada but was too desolate to have it’s normal, intended affect and as a result came off as simply an annoyance rather than a keep-patting-me-and-I’ll-kill you-look.

Liam looked forward and sighed. “At any rate, she knelt down beside me, told me to hold on and the last thing I saw before I blacked –out… well more like rainbowed out was her beautiful eyes watering. All while I was in that swirling colored hell of a coma I felt guilty that I made that wonderful woman cry.”

Liam paused again and looked at Nevada looking out the window. “Am I boring you?” he asked austerely.

“What? No! When I look out windows into the world I tend to imagine things better. I didn't mean to disrespect you Liam sir.” Nevada explained, his action misconceived.

Liam looked outside his window, effectively mimicking Nevada. “When I came to I was in the hospital. Psh, obviously. And there she was standing over me like a hawk. Her face was extremely stern. Instantly I thought she would abandon me, realizing that she saved the life of a Shark.” He closed his eyes. “I was wrong. First thing I was colossally incorrect about in this story.” He let out a another sigh. Nevada couldn't remember a time when Liam sighed this much.

“Her stern look quickly dissolved into a warm motherly smile.”

“ “I see you’re awake sleepy head.” She said in her sweet, Texas accent.” Liam crooned.

“Wait, she’s from Texas?” Asked Nevada raising an eyebrow. “She sure doesn't look it.

“Oh, and what do you expect her to look like? A girl with cow textured-pants, a cowboy hat, boots with spurs and a lasso?!” Liam snapped.

“No no. Sorry Liam sir.” Nevada apologized reluctantly. He took out his notebook again. “Note to self.” He jotted down. Say anything that might even remotely put Marilyn in a bad light and Liam Nikolaus Tailey WILL get ticked.

“Anyway, I wondered aloud why she would help a punk like me and she answered, “It’s truly simple my dear. No matter how much of a punk you truly are, I feel that you don’t deserve to be in so much pain.” She said, word for word. She then leaned in close to me.

“I heard them laughing at you cutie-pie. Laughing at your pain and I bet they’re still laughing even while you’re here after being in a coma for a week. Hun, will you hang with a group like that?” I remember her asking.

I tried to remain strong but I just couldn't. I looked away from that sweet body as my eyes began to water with sadness. “But where am I to go? I only joined because I thought it would help me get friends. I knew they were mocking me but even if I’m not in league with them I’m mocked. It’s just a case of me picking me poison.” I cried.

She hugged me, and I felt as if a light reignited inside me. “It’s okay hon. I’ll be your friend.” She comforted.

Soon the sharks from the park entered the room clapping. The laughed at me while saying things like “thanks for taking one for the team” and “hot babe”. I curtly gave them the bird as I declared that I was out of the gang. Before they could get rowdy they were escorted out of my room.

As Marilyn was escorted she tossed me the ring on my finger now. She told me it would always bring me good luck as it did her. Looking back….maybe I should have given it back. It seems like her life has went downhill ever since she gave me this ring…” Liam said as he stared at the ring filled with woe.

Nevada looked at Liam pitifully. Poor Liam. 

“But it will be unfair if I skip out on all of the euphoric times. First and foremost, that ordeal with the sharks was the last time I gave anyone the bird. Anyways, me and Marilyn began hanging out and it didn't come to a shock to me that this woman was probably one the most popular women in the area. She was rich, beautiful and funny. Whenever I was with her I was treated to something high-class, was in the company of a person who I truly felt was out-of-this-world and would almost die of laughter. She always made me feel so good about myself and she would never laugh at my dreams.” He sighed.

Nevada thought about this. He couldn't remember having a serious dream prior to meeting Liam. Liam would never laugh at his dream to become an ace detective, of course Liam was an ace detective and had been teaching Nevada his ways since he first met him and even admitted that Nevada was showing extreme potential. To laugh at his dreams now would be laughing at himself.

“She…she was an exquisite woman. Even today I only have about three real friends. If she was still my friend she would be my fourth and I consider you a friend. So the two close friends I have were through her. It was because of her that I became serious in my detective studies and me and her would have drills.” He sighed but this time he smiled.

“Second colossal mistake: I feared her family wouldn't like me. As it turned out they loved me and welcomed me as a son and were impressed in how devoted I was in my studies-“

Nevada was for one brief second began to doze off until he heard Liam statement about Marilyn’s family. “Wait, what!? Family?…so you guys…”

Liam caught on before Nevada could finish. “Yes, we had begun dating. I remember when I first kissed her in her beige car. I can still taste it….” He shuddered with delight.

Nevada looked slightly disturbed. “Whoa there Lemmy. Let’s try not to turn this into you describing in explicit detail what you did with this woman hmmm?” he suggested

Liam blushed. “Correct. Very well.”

“We were truly devoted to each other. She had…well has a four-leaf clover tattoo on her foot that I simply adored. To show that we were one I got the exact same tattoo on the exact same foot.”

Nevada grimaced at the word foot. Then he shot Liam a strange look. When they all looked at nude Marilyn Apricott earlier that night she didn't bear any tattoo on her foot.

“What is it?” asked Liam concerned and annoyed at the same time.

“N-nothing.” Nevada didn't want to shatter poor Liam’s heart more than it already had been.

“Her fortune, though impressive was still finite due to the fact that it wasn't technically hers, it was her parents. As you know every great detective is born from a tribulation that leaves scars on the victim like no other.”

Nevada was now listening intently. Liam would now reveal how he got started being the brilliant detective that he was today.

Liam examined his hand as if it was stained with feces and sighed. “Me and Mari had gone to a carnival. A beautiful carnival like no other carnival I've ever been to. Unbeknownst to us that yearly carnival would be the last one in this town. She was so happy. I won her a large stuffed panda and we ate splendid food. Just when I was about to propose to her she got a call from her sister. I didn't hear her words but she sounded absolutely hysterical. Marilyn told me she had to go and left me at the carnival with a short kiss but without a ride home.”

“Days later she told me that her parents had been murdered and that there were no suspects. Marilyn looked so distraught. I…I couldn't just let her be in such anguish and despair. Even though I was a rookie I joined the police in search of the killer. With my help me were able to nail down three suspects. Then two. Then one. At first everyone, even the children of the victims were skeptical of the man I accused really being the murderer but looking back I’m sure everyone can say without a doubt, that was the man that killed the Apricott couple.

Nevada’s eyes widened. “The Apricott’s…wait, you mean to tell me you were the one who helped solve the famous Apricott case?!” he shouted in utter shock. Nevada felt stupid that he couldn't remember the name Apricott.

Liam sighed mournfully. “Yup. It was me. I don’t feel proud. After all Marilyn’s life slowly got worse after this….soon she inherited most of her family’s money. So much money it would last us a lifetime if we stretched. I wanted to get married but she was still sad that her parents couldn't attend. What she really wanted though was a child and I was eager to oblige. I remember that night she wore all black it was extremely hot at the full moon was visible through our window…I approached her…”

Nevada closed his eyes painfully and put a hand over his closed eyes with a grimace. “Liam please. I do not want the image of you creating a baby in my head!” he cried.

Liam blushed again. “Right, right sorry.”

“After a few weeks she announced that she was pregnant. We chose a name, had a baby shower and were ready to start a family. I come back one day from a detective business trip and I see her lying on her bed. “It’s dead.” She tells me.

“What’s dead? I ask?”

“Him…the baby.”

From that day on we would just stare at the spare room in silence and ponder at what could have been. We didn't want to attempt having another child in the fear that we would kill that one as well. Quite ironically I started the detective agency as soon as I received the news that I wouldn't have a son. I don’t really know why. I guess I just wanted to see if I could create something without it dying on me.”

Nevada looked at his shoes. “Heavy…” he said.

“Oh, it gets heavier my friend.” Said Liam with a sad smile on his face.

“We still had good times. We bought video games to drown out our sorrows and we truly thought that we could live happily ever after and we wouldn't have worries again. She would stay home, I would come back filled with death and she would purify me at night.”

Nevada raised an eyebrow. "Oh she would purify you huh? Lucky you..."

Ignoring Nevada's sly comment, Liam went on. “But then I made the third, dumbest, stupidest, most foolish mistake of my life.” Liam was beginning to cry now.

“About a year or so after she told me out baby died she seemed happy. A bit too happy. I merely shrugged it off as her being optimistic but word had been going on that an illegal pain-killing drug had been developed by the sharks and was being sold to woman who had recently become extremely saddened. I of course didn't think Marilyn would use this but I found on the internet history, the Sharks shopping page. After they went out of stock there was news that a red-headed woman was going into houses stealing this drug from other people. The description fit Marilyn almost perfectly. I confronted Marilyn about this when she was over a friends house and I saw her with a bag.”

Liam was still crying and beginning to choke up. “I asked to see the bag but she wouldn't let me. I slapped her, took the bag and found it filled with the drug! I was so mad…I said some horrible nasty things to her. I made her get out of my house, I broke up with her, I told her I never wanted to see her again! I told her to drop dead!”

Nevada looked utterly saddened and shocked at Liam.

“It turned out to be a big understanding! She was trying to stop her friend from being addicted. She tried to dispose of the drugs. I didn't even give her a chance to explain! Then I get e-mails from her siblings about how she wouldn't stop crying about me and how she took up drinking beer. I thought it was a phase. I didn't know she would get addicted! And even then not this bad! She must of drank to drown out her sorrows and her stupid friends must of encouraged her to do so! I’m such a fool!” Liam banged his head on the steering wheel causing the horn to honk.

Nevada jumped towards his friend. “It’s okay! Listen, it’ll all be okay just calm down.”

Liam was filled with wroth now. “And the cats! The damn cats. She kept adopting cats because of me and that's why this place is infested with stray cats…. and she's allergic to cats!”

Nevada comforted his friends. “It’s okay buddy. Everyone makes mistakes….it was good while it lasted right?”

Liam smiled. “Yeah, it was. She was so beautiful. When she confronted me after the circus. She wanted to find the culprit for her parents death. She told me at the coffee shop. Three years ago…not only did you remind me of me when I was young…but of Mari when she was young as well.”

Nevada was touched that he reminded Liam of someone he cared about so much. “Don’t worry…we’ll find the culprit,” he said but he knew very well that given her lifestyle it was very possible that Mari simply drank herself to death. Nevada couldn't say he hoped it wasn't true because he knew that was the only logical explanation for her untimely death.

Liam and Nevada drove off and as they began to drive away from the crime scene a sipping sound could be heard in the driveway of Marilyn’s driveway, not to far away from where the car sat moments ago.

Chapter Three: PertinacityEdit

Nevada woke up to the aroma of pancakes and eggs, the smell emanating from downstairs in the kitchen. Nevada groggily sat up in his bed, rubbed his eyes with his knuckles and looked around his tidy room. It mostly consisted of retro electronics, posters and papers from ancient cases (any files that could even bear a hint to a relevant, ongoing case would go in the storage room down the second floor hall). All of Nevada’s clothes were located in his closet. 

Nevada stretched his arms out and gave a loud yawn before he left his room and made his way straight down the second-floor hall before walking down the stairs half asleep. Every time he blinked he would doze into sleep only to wake up in a start as if nothing happened a few seconds later. He was sleepy no doubt thanks to the late night flash back with Liam.

When he finally stumbled into the kitchen he saw a non-feverish Liam cook pancakes and eggs. Nevada looked a bit befuddled at the sight of Liam cooking.

“Uhhh…Liam, what are you doing?” Nevada yawned as he scratched his head.

Liam stopped flipping the pancakes and looked at the pan for five seconds before turning to his young partner. “I’m making pancakes. Why do you ask?”

Nevada was confused now. “But you never cook. That’s the one thing you say that you can’t do. Remember when I first came here? You told me I shouldn't expect you to cook and we would mostly order here or go out to eat.” Nevada explained.

Liam turned away from Nevada and looked back to his pan. “Oh…well there’s a lot of things that Liam Nikolaus Tailey can’t do.” He smiled and looked at Nevada. “Do you honestly hold me in such high regard Nev?” he asked.

"You know I do Liam. I know that you're the greatest." responded Nevada earnestly.

"Please, I'm not fit for such flattery Nev." Liam brooded. He sighed and looked away from the pan and from Nevada, facing the kitchen window that was above the sink. “Besides….back when I was dating Marilyn I used to be the cooker.”

Nevada looked glumly at his mentor. “Liam…you don’t have to do this…” he pleaded.

“Oh but I want to Nevada. There’s no point in trying to run away from that time anymore. Marilyn’s dead now.” Liam said with an eerie smile. “She won’t mind if I make pancakes and eggs like old times will she?”

Nevada sat on a stool and gave a slightly disturbed, “No?”

Liam began flipping again with a pained smile. “Or maybe she will mind, maybe she’ll never forgive me for abandoning her and driving her into a corner.”

“Liam it’s not your fault!” Nevada said firmly.

"Yes it was Nev.." affirmed Liam. Liam then sighed and darted his eyes upwards for a second before he resumed making pancakes.

Nevada gave a short sigh and turned away from Liam, he didn't want to see the detective see his anger. He was really beginning to loathe Marilyn and just how much she affected the usual calm and collected Liam. He resented her ability to cause the grown-man to crumble mentally and emotionally. He looked at back and Liam and saw his sullen face.

Liam looked at that face for a while and began to doubt his partnership with him. Just how much do I know about Liam Nikolaus Tailey? Obviously a lot less than I thought this time yesterday. Maybe the Liam I've known all these years is just a shield. A shield created so he can’t be hurt by Marilyn anymore…so he can’t be hurt by himself anymore…

He looked outside of the window and saw birds fluttering about. “A new dawn…and a new mystery that may drag Liam and Nevada into the depths of hell.” He said sadly, a bit louder than he anticipated causing Liam to look at him from the corner of his eyes.

Nevada looked at Liam and could see clearly…Liam Tailey was scared. Nevada looked away again. This time he wasn't sure who he was disgusted at; Marilyn for causing his invincible mentor to crumble or Liam for letting her do it.

                                               …

Liam served Nevada his plate of pancakes and eggs. Nevada rose from his stool and walked to the refrigerator to get the butter-flavored maple syrup. He sat it next to his plate and glumly looked at the food. Liam sat at a distance from the young detective with his plate. He looked at his food in a similar fashion to Nevada, almost mirroring him.

Nevada turned to Liam. “Why aren't you eating?” he asked with a hint of annoyance in his voice.

“I’m waiting for you to eat first.” He answered.

Nevada looked at the pancakes with suspicion. He didn't recall Liam cooking and he wasn't sure how this would turn out. He decided to get butter to put on his pancakes. He then shrugged, put the syrup on and began to eat.

Liam turned to Nevada. “Well?” he asked.

Nevada bit his lip. “Well…it’s edible.” He answered. He wasn't lying it was indeed edible but he could have said a lot more. Those pancakes where the best pancakes he ever tasted, worlds better than his mother’s. Liam then ate his. “I guess I could have used less milk…” he said.

“No wait!” Nevada exclaimed with a full mouth. “The pancakes are fantastic! Honestly! They’re the best I've ever had!”

Liam raised his eyebrows. “Well the way you worded you would think that…”

“I know what I said Liam…” Nevada said quietly, his head turned away in shame.

“Nevada…is something on your mind?” Liam asked dully.

“No…it’s nothing…I just…”Nevada trailed off. It was obvious that Liam wasn't buying it. He decided to present him with a question just to get him off his back. “I was just wondering. Since you seem to know each and everything concerning your precious Marilyn-“

“Watch it Nevada Johnson!” Liam growled like a lion.

Nevada looked at Liam in utter fear for he had never spoken to Nevada in that tone before. In fact he couldn't recall him using that tone to anyone before.

“I was just wondering if you knew anything about that girl that entered the house last night…that was all.” Nevada lied, still trying to recover from Liam’s sudden transformation.

Before Nevada could go out the room a girl with blonde hair and freckles with green eyes wearing a short-sleeve crochet floral dress ran into the room and knocked Nevada to the ground.


When he got up he saw her crying while beside Marilyn. "Come on auntie Mari! Wake up! You have to wake up!" she began to shake the corpse. "WAKE UP DAMMIT! WAKE UUUUP!!!"


Liam rose from his stool and leaned on the counter, looking up towards the ceiling. It looked to Nevada that Liam was trying to remember who she was or at least who Nevada was referring to but in reality he was trying to fish for his words in the giant cloud of thoughts that had disrupted his usual, police file-like mind.

“That girl is…her name is Linnea Harvey. As you probably already deduce she is Marilyn’s niece, her younger sister’s daughter to be precise. She is around your age and goes to the school not too far from here.”

“Dekel & Del High school?” Nevada asked.

Liam nodded. “From what I hear and from what we heard yesterday the two seemed to be pretty close.”

Nevada’s eyes suddenly sparked with life, the same spark he got from the revelation that there was a murder case.

“So that means that I get to ask her questions concerning her aunt and the case!?” Nevada exclaimed.

Liam shot Nevada his famous fierce lion look. “Listen to me Nevada. Tread carefully for people are sensitive about the death of their family members. Even though you might not give a damn about Marilyn that doesn't mean other people feel the same way. I don’t want you harassing that poor girl."

Nevada gave Liam a pained expression.

Liam’s face softened with guilt. “Look Nev…I-“

Nevada was already turned away and heading up the stairs. “It’s okay Liam, I get it!” he snapped.

Liam is still calm, even after I snapped at him. Nevada admitted to himself while he was in the bathroom getting dressed. When he was done he was wearing a brown. shirt with a black open vest, black pants and brown shoes. He combed his hair as he looked in the mirror until he was satisfied with the look.

When he exited the bathroom he was almost about to go downstairs but quickly turned around and went in his room. After looking around for a bit he found Marilyn’s phone and stuffed it into his right back pocket. He would examine the contents of the mobile device later. With his notepad and pencil in hand he was out his room, walking down the stairs and out of the agency. He faced the direction of the school. He sighed before turning around and walking in the direction of the supposed crime scene.

Nevada didn't properly calculate how long it would take to get to Marilyn’s house. Sure, there weren't many turns but yesterday Liam was accelerating to 80 miles per hour and it still took sixteen minutes to get there. Nevada was beginning to get very hot and tired. Halfway there Nevada stopped at a convenience store to buy water so he could make it to the house.

About an hour-and-a-half later, the dehydrated detective made it to the deceased young woman’s house. Nevada was about to rest when images of insects came rushing back into his mind.

He heard the buzzing sound again and felt a sharp sting on his earlobe causing him to instinctively hit it. He looked around, paranoid...then he saw it. A large swarm of flies and gnats were around the side of the house. Towards the top of the house he saw brighter yellow, honeybees!

Nevada frantically looked around but saw no bugs and with a sigh of relief he sat on the porch and wiped sweat of his forehead with his shirt sleeve. He probably wouldn't be so hot if he had just took the time to wear more climate-practical clothes but he was too eager to leave the house and get away from Liam to carefully look through his wardrobe.

He sat on the porch looking at the lawn and the road. He saw a lone spider running across the grass but he didn't mind because he loved how spiders ate bugs.

Nevada took out the phone, pressed a few buttons and his heart immediately sank. The screen displayed text which prompted the user to put in a four-number password, the young man had been locked out of the key to the case.

Nevada pondered at the phone and tried several random numbers before the phone made him wait five minutes to try again. Nevada had cracked a few passwords before but each time he had prior knowledge about the device the password was in and the person who locked it. Nevada had neither in this case.

Nevada gave a quick glance at the front side of the house and after his five minutes were up he tried inputting first four numbers of the address into the password screen. In text, the phone told him that it was sorry and that he needed to try again. With a sigh Nevada put the phone once again in his pocket.

“Heh heh heh. Who do we have here?” asked an old sounding voice to the right of Nevada’s position who was sitting on the porch, facing the road.

Nevada looked to the right and saw a petite old woman with a cane walking towards him slowly. Nevada decided to be kind and shorten her trip by walking to her.

The gray-haired woman gave Nevada a smile. “Hello. Are you a business man trying to sell the house?” she asked Nevada.

Nevada smiled sheepishly. “Oh, no ma’am I’m here to investigate the….murder of Marilyn Apricot.” he explained, not liking the word “murder” and doing quite poorly to hide that fact.

The woman raised her eyebrows. “Oh…it’s such a shame. That lively and wonderful woman was killed. That girl that was always with her must be devastated.”

Nevada concluded that the woman was referring to Marilyn’s niece, Linnea Harvey. Nevada was a tad confused though, he was under the impression that the woman was raving drunk 24/7, he never stopped to consider she was lively, he knew firsthand just how beautiful she was though.

Nevada took out his notepad and pencil then flipped to the next available page. “So, what is your relationship with the Ms. Apricot?” he asked.

“Oh, well I’m her next door neighbor. Been livin’ next to her for at least five years now. She always has a cutesy girl with her. A real, sleuth that one always trying to solve a mystery. Well, since you're one of them detectives you might need to know that I've found the poor soul’s dead body.

Nevada was lost in his notes. …girl solves mysteries, at least five years…."....wait, WHAT?” asked a flabbergasted Nevada.

“Oh, I said the girl is a real sleuth and-“

“No, not that the part when you said you found the body!”

“Oh, well I was the person who found the corpse.”

Nevada's left eye twitched once. “Explain!”

“Well, I usually deliver Marilyn fresh milk straight from my son’s farm each day. Four days ago I knocked on her door. There was no answer. I kept knocking for nearly an hour until my knuckles started to hurt and I had to rest. I knocked again at night with the same results…but there was a light on. This was uncharacteristic of ol’ Mari. She usually never missed it when someone was knockin’ on her door. You see she’s a light sleeper and…oh my. You want me to get to the point where I find the body don’t you?”

“Please do.” Nevada said calmly.

“Well okay you handsome young man! I tried again in the morning with the same results. I was finally fed up with it so I climbed through the window to deliver the milk. As soon as I entered that house I knew something was horribly wrong. ‘Mary’ I says. She don’t answer so I go upstairs when I see her on the bed, eyes open wide and her skin white as a ghost. She had to be dead when I first knocked four days ago.”

Nevada absorbed all this information then jotted it down on the notepad. “Can you describe the house for me miss….”

The woman smiled a toothy smile. “Call me Lucy and I would be delighted to give you more information.”


It was now Nevada’s turn to smile. “Please, go ahead.”

“Well, food was on the table as if someone were eating there. It looked like a meal for two. A date perhaps? The door to the basement was also wide open and a trail of blood could be seen going up the stairs. In Mari’s room I saw a bit of blood on the carpet. It may have been some on the bed but it would be too hard to tell…being blood red an’ all.” She explained.

Nevada continued to record the woman’s account, his expression becoming surprised when he wrote the bit down about the blood, the word “murder” seeming a tad bit closer to reality now.

“Anything else?” the young detective asked.

“The bedroom windows were open and the water was running in the sink.”

Nevada wrote this down. He nodded as he walked back to the porch. “Thank you.” He called out.

“You’re welcome young man.” Lucy replied with a smile.

Nevada put the key into the door, rotated it, heard a clicking sound, turned the key to its starting position, pulled it out, put it in his pocket, turned the doorknob and entered. “…it’s about to get heavy.” Nevada whispered to himself as he entered the dark house and closed the door behind him.

The house still smelled of beer but Nevada felt he could bear it now, the adrenaline was helping him ignore the stench. First things first… he decided to walk into the kitchen. There was no meal for two, furthermore, the basement door was closed securely.

Next thing was to go up the stairs and search for blood. Nevada did so but even as he squinted he could not see a trace of blood anywhere on the stairs. He opened the door to Marilyn’s room and began to search the carpet when something even more pressing caught his attention.

The bed where the corpse lay was perfectly fine except it was missing one thing: the corpse. Nevada quickly scrambled to the bed. Where could it be? After about thirty seconds of pondering Nevada concluded that this was tied to Jameswald, the coroner. Nevada still hadn't searched him on the internet but Nevada knew by now that after a certain time the coroner would take the body with them to examine more closely then deliver to a funeral home or simply cremate it when they’re done at least, in those parts. Though usually the coroners would be polite and fax a note to the Super Detective Agency letting them know the body-which they usually needed for investigative reference-was being relocated. It was possible Liam simply didn't inform Nevada about the fax albeit highly unlikely. No matter how ticked Liam might be he wouldn't leave Nevada in the dark about a clue being moved.

Nevada shook off the matter of the missing body as he walked into the bathroom. No running water. None of Lucy’s descriptions matched how the house currently looked. Nevada put his hands in his pockets and began to walk down the bleak stairs when a beam of light nearly blinded him.

“Excuse me sir. What business do you have here and how did you get in?” asked a police officer.

“I’m detective Nevada Johnson of The Super Detective Agency located a ways away from here. As for my entrance,” he fished around in his pockets and pulled out the key. “I used this.”

The police officer nodded.

“Officer, I actually have a few questions of my own.”

“Shoot.”

“First, what happened to the crime scene paper and all the officers?”

“There is currently a meeting going on at HQ about the nature of this crime. The three major crime forces are having a heated argument as we speak and as a result no further actions will be taken by the police force until a verdict has been made.”

Nevada jotted this down and began to ask more questions without taking his eyes from his notepad. “Who are these “three major crime forces”?”

“The chief of police, Cornelius Davis, the local investigative legend, Liam Tailey and a coroner.”

Nevada jotted these names down and raised his eyebrows questioningly. “Just a coroner? Not The Coroner?” he asked, puzzled.

The police officer shook his head. “Nope, no one knows what happened to the old coroner, William Tawney. Now, we have a new guy named Jameswald Darwil.”

So that's why I haven’t heard of him! “Thank you.” Nevada was about to ask to be excused when he caught himself. “Sir, do you know a police officer that was here roughly two days ago, with the first batch of police men to get here?”

“That would be me.” the officer answered.


Nevada smiled. “Well, this should go smoothly then.” he said.

After a brief bit of silence he finally asked the question. “Officer, when you arrived here two days prior did you notice any blood on the carpet, the door to the basement open, running water or food on the kitchen table?”

The officer was silent for a second as he was thinking about what Nevada had just asked. “Running water, food on the table, open door and…blood?” he repeated for confirmation.

“Yes.” Nevada nodded.

The officer shook his head. “Sorry son. We didn't notice anything like that.” He said.

“Huh? That’s….that goes directly against what a witness saw.” Nevada replied.

“Oh, a witness eh? What kind?” the officer asked with distrust.

“She claims to have found the victims dead body. The woman next door she-“

The officer began walking downstairs “I’ll need to ask her some questions.”

“Wait!” cried out Nevada, desperate for some answers.

The officer was almost out the door and annoyed. “What do you need kid?”


Nevada began walking after him. “If it isn't too much to ask I would like to see records of your account that-“

The officer took out a yellow slip of paper and practically shoved it at the young detective. “Here, coincidentally I never removed it from my pocket. If you had been anyone else I wouldn't have given it to you. You being a detective and Liam Tailey's partner at that changes things up a bit. Enjoy your privileges adios.” The officer then shut the door behind him.

Nevada walked into the kitchen and sat down. He looked at the paper and realized that yes, the officer was telling the truth and yes, this account does not match with what Lucy claims she saw. Nevada kept rereading it to see if one or the other was mistaken but they both seemed dead set on what they saw. If was highly possible that Lucy was senile and simply thought she saw blood, open doors running waters because a crime stereotypically had all those things.

Nevada heard the cat meow mournfully at its empty food bowl. Poor thing, amidst all this confusion no one had fed you. Nevada took pity in the feline and filled its food bowl with cat food from under the sink.

Nevada watched the cat as it happily ate the food. He then took further pity in the cat and decided that he was going to fill its water bowl as well. He then watched as the feline happily lapped its water.

The detective couldn't help but feel he was forgetting something important. He knew he looked all around the house but he didn't notice anything. That’s right, I didn't check the basement. He was about to head for the basement when he remembered what he thought was off and turned towards the window.

The last things he noticed before he put his head down were Sourdough Hotcakes in the window sill.

This time though, there were no Hotcakes in the sill. It appeared as if he were the first person here but he knew the coroner would have had to have been here. He doubted that he had took the time to eat the hotcake though. It was usually taboo to take evidence from a crime scene unless you left a note stating where it was and why it was gone. Since the coroner was new, he should try to be on his professional best. Besides, why would the coroner need to take the hotcakes? Seeing if its contents were in the victim’s stomach? Yesterday, though the hotcakes looked untouched. At the back of his mind Nevada was juggling with another theory but it seemed too far-fetched.

What if a third party, besides the police and the coroner entered here and ate the hotcakes? It didn't have much basis but Nevada was willing to ponder it. It was possible Liam came back late at night but Nevada doubted it. Then he remembered, Liam didn't have the key, he had it. Furthermore, he didn't recall the chief ever giving the coroner a key but it seemed likely that he had one. Nevada then wondered if it was possible that the niece, Linnea Harvey had entered, with her own key.

Then another theory came to Nevada’s attention. What if the person who entered between last night and now, that wasn't the coroner also did away with Lucy’s evidence? It was highly optimistic on Nevada’s part but he favored this idea and wrote it down anyway under the “Theories” section in his notebook.

Nevada then rose from his chair and walked downstairs. The stairs were wooden and they creaked each step he took. The dark basement smelled of mildew and he only light came from the windows that let tiny rays of sunlight creep in. Nevada looked above once he reached the end of the stairs and pulled a string, causing a red light to flood the room.

Weird light, and creepy to boot. Nevada scanned the mostly empty basement. Just files, not unlike the ones in the Super Detective Agency. He was going to examine them if not for a metal door stealing his interest. He immediately tried to open the door only for it to be locked. Nevada took out the yellow paper he received from the officer earlier and read the words “locked door in basement”.

Nevada took out a lock pick and was instantly hesitant to use it. Whenever he held it in his hands he felt like some criminal trying to slime their way into somewhere they shouldn't be. He instantly remembered the old lady and realized that he had to do this not for his sake, but for sake of the case.

He inserted the pick into the lock and with a bit of difficulty the door was open. He turned on the light only for him to become utterly mazed. All over the ground were open prescription pill bottles with several pills at his feet. The young detective picked up the bottles and read the titles only causing him to become even more discombobulated. He could barely sound out the names. He then decided he needed to deal with his fecal dilemma. He opened the toilet and was greeted with red water.

It was possible, that earlier in the day he might not have cared and just scratched it off as red dyed toilet water but Nevada stared in horror as he realized that “Yes, this is blood.” He knew that this was probably the victims and he was almost one-hundred percent sure that the pills were related.

“So did she overdose herself to death? But wouldn't it be quicker than this? And what is up with all this blood? After overdosing did she cough her insides out?” he contemplated aloud over the matter of the pills and the blood As he contemplated one thing did catch his eye. He picked up a blue box; it contained a widely used pain-killer. He began to contemplate some more. “A pain-killer? But why would she use this? More overdose? Did she not want a painful death…or was this used to deal with something else?”

Nevada exited the bathroom and shut the door. He jotted down his discovery in his notebook. He would notify the police of his discovery immediately. He looked at the police report once more in a last-ditch attempt to find something the police missed. Everything looked good enough one-large pile of clothing containing among other things a large brown jacket and a white dress…wait a minute!

Nevada looked at the pile of clothes. It was not large at all; in fact it was pitiably small. He quickly rummaged through it and found that almost all the clothing was mentioned was gone except for a few pairs of underwear, socks, bras, towels and a single shirt

Nevada looked at the list once more and realized that yes; most of the items were gone.

                                      ***

“Sir, I’m telling you that you have to see this. There is a strange occurrence in the basement of the victim’s house.” Nevada averred.

“And I’m telling you that it's not important! I’m questioning this woman! If you don’t keep shut I’ll remove you from the crime scene immediately!” the officer from before shot.

Lucy glowered at the man. “You've questioned me enough! Listen to what the poor baby has to say!” The officer quickly spun around to face the old lady. “No I have not! Please explain to me how you saw these things that aren't there! Were you intoxicated or are you just senile!?” “You rude-ass little…”

“Officer!” Nevada interjected. “I have reason to believe that this woman is telling the whole truth and if you would just listen to what I’m saying and accompany me to the basement I could show you why.”

The officer gazed at Nevada for an uncomfortably long time before he held out his arm towards the door. “Lead the way…detective.” he said, defeated.

Satisfied, the young man did as such and entered the victim’s house, out to prove his claim.

The two weren't even at the stairs when Nevada was gently stopped by the shoulders and asked. “”What happened to the hotcakes?” the officer asked.

Nevada looked at the officer in incredulity. “You mean the ones that were in the window sill?” he asked.


“Yes, did you take them?”

Nevada took a moment to process this and slowly shook his head. “How did you know about them?”

“The officers here yesterday brought back reports that they were here…wait, you asked how did I know about them.”

“Yes, because the original report didn't mention hotcaaaa-“ Nevada’s voice trailed off then slowly died as he and the officer looked at each other thinking the same thing.

“Is it possible that the coroner ate them?” Nevada asked trying to make sense of the situation.

“No, that would not happen and even if it did the officer accompanying him told us the route they took over the walkie-talkie. He did not pass through the kitchen. A better question is who brought them?”

Nevada started power-walking to the basement and the officer followed the boy without pause.

When they arrived Nevada explained about the shrinking pile of clothes and the officer only became more disarray.

They were both silent for what seemed to be an eternity. “Any insights?” asked Nevada.

The officer pondered this for a bit. “It’s possible that an officer took the items but I’m sure we would have noticed one of the stolen items.”

“Well when we find them, they’ll be some hell of evidence…”

“Yeah, detective. That’s for sure.” The officer admitted. “I’ll report about this. Thanks.”

“You’re welcome. Good luck with the items. I’m going now try to make sure that nothing else here is stolen. Set up some surveillance cams or something.” He said, walking up the stairs.

Outside the house, Nevada was about to head back towards the agency when something caught his eye: on the ground, near the driveway was a dazzling blue object. Curious, Nevada approached the object. He examined the wonderful sapphire ring from all sides. Its beauty had no bounds and inside the ring Nevada saw all there was to beauty, all there was to life.

Nevada dropped the ring, eager to be out of its trance, to be out of its grip. Unbeknownst to him he dropped the ring right into his pocket.

...

Nevada was feeling accomplished as he walked down the sidewalk heading back home to the Super Detective Agency. He had just propelled the investigation tremendously. Sure, it was possible that a police officer had removed the items but Nevada had a feeling in his gut that this was not the case.

Nevada knew that it would take him a ridiculous amount of time to get back to the agency, even midway from Marilyn’s house but he didn't care because he wanted to see Liam’s face when he told him the news.

...

Unfortunately, Nevada didn't get to see Liam’s face. Attached to the inside side of the front door (it was very hard to miss. Liam just put it there because he knew Nevada had a habit of looking at something after he closed/opened it (toilets, doors, cereal boxes, the covers of books after he opened them, etc.)).


Dear Nevada,

I’m off to a meeting with The Coroner and The Chief of Police discussing the nature of this case and how it should be carried out. I hope you are not tempestuous with me. I realize that at this meeting my own personal preferences and bias will greatly cloud my judgment and I wish that you would have accompanied me at this meeting but I know that you probably don’t want to see me right now so I left you out of this. I’m sorry if I angered you. I should be back to my normal, rational self after this is all over.


 

Sincere apologies, Liam.


 

“Liam…” Nevada murmured sadly.

Nevada looked at the letter solemnly. “Maybe I was a little too hard on him. I…maybe I was out of line. I never knew someone who died.”

Nevada remembered that there was an old movie Liam said he wanted to watch and almost instantaneously he went upstairs to his room.

He looked in his wallet. I only have 5.43. This is hardly anything nowadays. Lucky for me I know a place where I this just might be enough but… the young boy let out a suspire it’s a hike away.

Nevada put his wallet into his pocket, went downstairs, locked the door and exited the house. He began his trek again, this time in the opposite direction of the crime scene.

...

It was a later than earlier but that didn't mean that Nevada Johnson got any breaks. The sun was still beating on the poor boy like a drum and apparently the clouds were in for the practical joke because they mockingly decided that they were going to scat today.

Oh, what he give for some shade? Oh, what would he give for some water?

Nevada felt like he was going to pass out when he finally reached sanctuary in the form of a large school. The school didn't look much like a school at all, more like an office building with its angular 'c' shape and large amount of windows. The school ground was bleak with barely any trees greenery except for sparse bushes of trees. The entire building was enclosed by a tall wall.

Nevada wearily gimped towards a large block of shade created by one of the school walls. As he stopped for repose his breath was taken away once more, but this time by something completely different although it was heat related.

Under one of the trees that was taller than the school wall was a  voluptuously beautiful young blonde woman. Nevada could not stop gazing at her blond hair, her short black skirt or her green eyes.

Nevada put his hand on his chest. What is this feeling? I've…I've never felt this way before…I've never…I've never…'

Before he could finish his thought it struck him as peculiar that he noticed all of these features even though she was far away. He then realized that she wasn't in her original location, she was walking closer and closer to the front of the school.

Nevada couldn't catch his tongue in time. “Hey, miss!”

The young woman turned to Nevada to face him when she gasped in unison with Nevada.

“You're…!” they said in unison.

“…the detective.” The woman said.

“…Linnea Harvey, niece of the recently deceased Marilyn Apricot.” Nevada finished.

Linnea took a step back as her eyes slightly widened. “H-how do you know my name and how do you know Auntie Mari?”

Nevada smiled. “I’m a detective. I know everything…waaaait how do you know I’m a detective?”

“I've heard lots about you and Liam who both run the Super Detective Agency.” Linnea took a bow. “As you know I’m Linnea Houri Harvey, detective-in-training and niece of…” Linnea sadly  looked down to the ground at an angle, letting her hair cover her eyes. “…Marilyn Apricot.”

Nevada took out his notebook and pen. “So, I've deduced from Ms. Lucy that you were with your aunt quite a bit.”

Linnea was now arm’s length away from the detective who could clearly see her white bra strap due to the sagging right shoulder of her red shirt. Even though Nevada felt slightly ashamed, he was pleased.

“Deviling little snoop…” she mumbled. “Why yes, I drop in from time to time.”

Nevada was jotting down her response when he looked up from his notepad trying intensely to focus on the bridge of her nose. “Was it unpleasant?”

Linnea blinked. “Pardon me?”

“You, the time you spent with your aunt, Marilyn. Was it unpleasant?” Nevada stated, slightly annoyed.

Linnea blinked again with astonishment. “Well, you did state that I go there frequently. I would imagine that if I kept going I obviously enjoyed it.”

Nevada gave her a contumacious look. “It is entirely possible that you did not visit under your own accord. One possibility is that your parents work all day and so you wouldn’t have to stay home by yourself they drop you off at your aunt’s each day.”

Linnea glowered at him. “Okay, one: I’m not at her house every day and two: I’m old enough to not need a babysitter F.Y.I.” she folded her arms and studied the young detective. “Why do you assume she’s unpleasant?”

“From what I stated you could not come to the conclusion that I think she’s unpleasant. You could merely say that I asked if she was unpleasant.” He slightly censured.

“So you don’t think she’s unpleasant?”

Nevada’s eyes darted to the side away from Linnea. “…well I do but-“

“Why then? Out with it boy.” Said Linnea.

Nevada gave out a sigh.

Linnea sighed as she rolled her eyes, mocking him.

Anger welled inside him for some reason. “Well you’re the one with her! You should know that she’s a friggin’ drunk! She tampered the water supply and with just one whiff of the house you know that woman wasn't healthy! You probably don’t know this but she hides empty beer bottles in her walls! Someone as drunk as her should be HELL to be around!” he snapped.


Linnea looked at him for a bit before her face darkened considerably. Her face revealed that she had instantly become disgusted in the young man. “You shouldn't judge someone you didn't even meet. You shouldn't judge anyone that you can’t meet!” with the word “can’t” she became seething. “Who do you think you are!? So what, she drank a bit! You see the bottles and instantly you decide that she’s a monster!?”

“Listen here! I never said anything about a monster! And a bit? A bit!? You should've seen all the bottles in that house and anytime she needs water, one quick gulp to tipsy-ville!”

“I have seen the bottles. I've been there. The ones in the wall aren't secret. I helped her put them in.”

“So, you’re an accomplice.”

“Accomplice to what!? She committed no crime!” she yelped.

“Drunk-and-disorder-“

“Gimme’ a break you big, naïve baby. Just because you drink does not mean you’re disorderly. Besides auntie developed a sort of immunity. It takes her awhile to get drunk.”

Nevada exhaled. “She still gets drunk just like anyone else. Why does she drink so much anyways?”

Linnea folded her arms, her right hand digging into her left arm with her nails. Her eyes were closed. “Are you here to investigate or to hear Marilyn Apricot’s life story?”

Nevada cocked his head slightly to the right. “Mm. A little bit of both actually. You see, to investigate you often times find yourself needing to familiarize yourself with the victim.”

Linnea sighed. “It-“

“Who’s sighing now?” Nevada asked with a smile.

Linnea simply stared at him.

“...sorry. Continue.” Nevada apologized sheepishly.

“It was long time ago actually. Something bad happened. She broke up with this guy…someone very important actually. At first she did it to ease the pain but I guess she just grew into it…”

The anger began to well again. “So, she forgot all about him. He’s dead to her now?”

Linnea smiled grimly. “Quite the opposite actually as of today she’s dead to him now. She’s dead to everybody.”

Nevada didn’t find the joke amusing.

“Sugar, love doesn’t work that way. Of course she never forgot him. Now that I think about it…That’s why she began to do detective games in her free time.”

Nevada raised his eyebrows. “Detective games?”

“Yeah, I call them that because she never did it professionally. She did it for fun, to kill time and boy, did she kill time. Of course she needed to be sober to do this so as you can see she was NOT drunk 24/7. She was an investigative genius. That entire shark fiasco a few years back? We found to culprit a month before you guys did.”

Nevada was dubious of this claim. “How did she do this and what do you mean by “we”?”

“We just had a lot of connections. Oh, by “we” I mean me and auntie. We worked together. That’s what I liked the most about her house.”

Now that Nevada had cooled off a bit he had begun to admire Linnea’s body once more. “Another question: Was your aunt fond of Sourdough Hotcakes?” he asked.

Linnea looked confused. “No, she knew how to make them but that was only because she knew I liked them. She particularly liked Tipsy Cakes.”

But of course. Nevada sighed as he put his notebook in his pocket, Linnea blinked. She didn’t even remember him taking it out. “Look, Linnea I know you think her lifestyle was healthy and all but…do you think it’s possible that your aunt died on her own accord?”

Linnea’s eyes looked like they were going to burst with tears as she shook her head. “No…no she-“

Nevada took her hand, he loved how soft and warm the girl’s hand felt. He brought it to the level of her eyes. “Linnea, listen.”

She violently snatched her hands away as her vision blurred with tears. “No, you listen!” she stepped back, away from the steamy teenager as she rubbed her hot hand.  She began shaking her head again, this time more slowly. “She wouldn’t kill herself with drinks. She’s smarter than that! She would never…she would never abandon me.”

Nevada put one foot forwards. “I have reason to believe she committed suicide deliberately.” He explained, his mind going back to the pills.

Linnea looked to the ground and began softly laughing. She looked at Nevada again eyes demented. “Oh really!? As I said auntie would never do that! She wouldn’t be so weak. You call yourself a detective but it’s obvious that your own personal feelings are hindering this case! You’re dead set on her being suicidal and as such you won’t even consider taking into consideration that she was murdered!” before Nevada could stop her she ran off, sobbing.

“Linnea wait! I have more ques-“ Nevada stopped herself, looking at Linnea’s skirt as she ran off. Imagining what was under…

Nevada hit himself on the head. What am I thinking?! At a time like this!? But still…I’ve never felt this way before…about anyone. Maybe it’s because I’m so caught up in my work all the time…is this love? He stared at the sobbing girl as she ran out of school grounds, attracting the attention of passerby’s.  No, this is not love. It’s erotic love-it’s lust. That’s what I’m feeling.... teenage lust.''

He walked over to the entrance of the school and sat on the steps. He sighed.

“Linnea Houri Harvey. Nice.” Said a voice from behind."

Nevada saw a rather heavy-set boy with a mild tan. He had a mass of curly black hair on his head that began to fall in the back due to the sheer amount of hair that the boy possessed. He wore baggy dark blue jeans that covered his red shoes. Coming out of his left pocket was the chord to the red earphones with a dragon design that he wore around his neck as a rap song blared out of their small speakers. The boy was grinning as he wore a black t-shirt.

Nevada looked wearily at the grinning teenage boy. He was not used to conversing with people his age, Linnea was proof of that fact and he did not want to engage in conversation with this strange, thick kid.

"You know Linnea?" asked Nevada, raising his guard.

"Know her?!" beamed the youth. "I happen to be the president of the Linnea Houri Harvey fanclub!" the boy exclaimed.

Nevada became less tense as he let his bafflement spread. "She has a fanclub?" he asked. Not that I wouldn't join but-

The teenage put his hands behind his head. "Yep, and I'm the sole member!" he informed, not even trying to make a front of containing his pride in himself.

Nevada scratched his head."That's not much of a club sir." he said, turning away about to leave. He didn't see how this strange child could be of any help and he didn't feel in the mood to entertain weirdos that afternoon.

The boy jogged after him and took his hand, shaking it vigorously while getting his grease from the pizza he had recently devoured on the young detective's hand. "Name's Pent Garland." he introduced, his smile widening as he saw the utter bafflement on the stranger's face.

After a bit of silence Nevada finally was able to squeeze out, "N-Nevada Johnson."

Pent withdrew his hand much to the young detective's relief. Pent ignored Nevada as the detective vigorously wiped his hand with a handkerchief.

"So, Linnea talked about a cute guy she ran into last night..." Pent teased with his toothy smile.

Nevada flushed. "W-what?" he stammered.

"Yep!" Pent confirmed as he put a hand on the flustered Nevada's shoulder.

Nevada turned away and quickly moved away from Pent, taking long strides as he walked not wanting to him to see his face become red as a beet. With a thud Marilyn's phone came tumbling out of Nevada's pocket into the ground causing Nevada to instantly dive for it. Once he stood back up he made sure the screen wasn't damaged.

Pent walked over to Nevada. "Sick phone bruh. Where'd you get it?" Pent gaped.

Nevada examined the phone. He then realized he was too caught up in his work to give the phone a serious examination. Indeed it was a nice phone and it most likely cost a pretty penny. Nevada took out his notebook and began jotting down: Expensive and rare looking phone while looking at Pent at the corner of his eye. He was contemplating erasing the note seeing as he already knew how rich Marilyn was and didn't think that the note he had just written was needed. He quickly discarded his doubts, desperate to cling on to everything he could find.

Pent cocked his head, frowning now. "I said, is that phone yours?"

Nevada, now not regarding Pent with any respect, absently shook his head. Once he realized he had just given (in his opinion) a dimwitted scofflaw insight to his position in the case he quickly nodded furiously.

Pent chuckled and walked to Nevada. "It's cool Mr. Detective man. We're friends right?" he asked, sincere.

"Hold on...you just met me and suddenly we're friends?" Nevada asked flabbergasted.

Pent put his hands behind his back. "Well yeah. So, that phone that you stole or whatever. Does it run good?" he asked eyes closed and smiling.

Nevada's eyes widened as he gritted his teeth. "I did not steal anything!" he howled loudly causing Pent to step back, open his eyes and hold up his hands for his new "friend" to calm down. "And it's well! WELL you buffoon not good!"

Pent backed up still. "Does it run well?" he asked, calmly.

Nevada growled internally as he folded his arms. "For your information, I wouldn't know! I can't get in! It has a lock!" he glozed.

Pent rubbed the young, fine hairs on his chin. "Well that won't do. I guess he'll finally have a challenge." he muttered.

"What are you going on about this time?" Nevada hissed, wanting to leave more than ever but choosing to stay because he was finding this Pent character beginning to entertain him, if ever so slightly. After what had happened in the past twenty-four hours he could use some laughs.

To his horror the greasy hand was once more in hold of his. "C'mon, I know a guy who can hook you up!" Pent declared gleefully.

Nevada was instantly horrified, remembering the beginning of his broken mentor's flash-back. "Oh please no! I don't want drugs!"

Pent sighed, his cheerful demeanor slipping. "I'm starting to get annoyed at you thinking I'm some criminal. We need to hang out some time bro."

"I'm busy." growled Nevada.

Pent ignored him and led him into the school. It was large and dimly lit, only a few yellow lights on due to dismissal being about an hour ago and due to the fact that today was the last day before summer vacation at Dekel & Del high school. Once they entered the school, they were instantly greeted by a large stairway. Pent dragged his new "friend" down the stairs until they reached a hallway. They walked to the end of it until they were face-to-face with a wall.

Nevada knew instantly that this wall was fake, knowing how to observe every detail of any given area. Due to this he was able to recognize that the wall was a shade greener than the rest of the hall and even without touching it he knew the texture was a smidge off. As the detective pieced this together he was growing more uncomfortable at the stocky boy's filthy touch. Pent knew that if he let go Nevada would run straight home-or to the police.

Pent knocked the melody of The Alphabet Song on the wall. The two heard a shuffle and a little boy with black hair opened the door. It took all the energy Nevada could muster not to squee at the boy's cuteness.

After nodding to the child and releasing the detective's hand Pent led himself and Nevada to a man who was sitting in a spinning chair, looking intensely his monitor with white earbuds in his ears. Nevada peered forward and instantly turned his head in disgust seeing that what the man was watching was pornographic in nature.

"It's only soft core you basic." mumbled the man in a nasally voice.

With a sigh the man paused the video and minimized the window showing a picture of a blonde youth dressed in orange with a shuriken in his mouth as his wallpaper. He turned around showing that he sported a thin mustache, acne, green glasses, a black flattop and was pale. "What is this Penter Garvin?" he asked in annoyance.

Pent regarded him curiously for a bit.

The man simply shrugged before spinning his chair back around. With a grunt Pent wheeled him back so he could face Nevada and him. "What do you want Penter S. Garvin?"

Pent coughed and held his arms out in front of Nevada. "Manners please?"

The man rolled his eyes and rested his head on his hand, which he was using the arm of his seat to prop up. "This is why I don't deal with people." he mumbled.

Pent put a hand to his ear. "Huh, what was that? Speak up." he asked, garnering a chuckle out of Nevada and the child near the door, both of them beginning to warm up to the antics.

The man sighed and held out a hand which was also greasy, Nevada however shook it as he shot a fierce look at Pent, trying and failing to imitate Liam. "My name is Donatello Griffin but please refer to me here on out as Dr. Miracle." he made a motion to the child who was now twiddling his thumbs. "That kid over there is my protege, Jasper who you will here on out refer to as Marvel. He's a prodigy." 

Nevada looked at his shoes at the words prodigy and protege, the words Liam used to describe him. Dr. Miracle looked puzzled at Nevada's reaction and shrugged. "I'm a senior here, happy to leave this piece of shit this time next year." he continued.

Pent interjected. "You won't still have this place next year." he teased.

Dr. Miracle smiled. "It all goes to Marv." he said causing the child to smile, showing he had glow-in-the-dark green braces.

Nevada took out his badge and showed it to Dr. Miracle, causing him to adjust him glasses in curiosity. "I'm Nevada Johnson of the Super Detective Agency. It is a pleasure to meet you Doctor."

Dr. Miracle smiled. "The pleasures mine Mr. Johnson. Sweet name if I must say. I like the ring of just doctor..." he said.

Pent interrupted before Dr. Miracle could make another name declaration. "We need you to do something doctor."

"What is it?" asked Dr. Miracle. He snapped causing Marvel to scramble across the large, dark and somewhat musty room lit by one Hello Kitty lamp.

Pent waved Marilyn's phone in front of the fat doctor causing Nevada to wonder in alarm when he had swiped it. "We need your help cracking into this puppy."

Dr. Miracle took the phone and regarded it for a bit. "This is child's play. You mock me Penter. I should have Marvel do this crap." he sighed.

Nevada raised his eyebrows. "Oh really? It's that easy?" he asked in skepticism.

Dr. Miracle gave a large grin as Marvel handed him an open pizza box, prompting Dr. Miracle to take out a slice. "Please. I'm a programming genius. It's electrical, I can access all of its secrets. I have to power to fix em' or kill em'. That's why they call me doctor."

Pent looked away with a smile. "He's the person who makes people to call him that." murmured Pent towards Nevada.

"And I can destroy those machines so fast and with such finesse, they can't help but Marvel." Marvel bragged, not hiding his pride in himself. He leaned closer to Nevada. "Get it? 'Cause my name's Marvel"

"Again, Dr. Miracle gave him that name and it's only really to match with his own name. You should have seen how long it took them to work out the reasoni-"

Dr. Miracle stuffed half of the large slice of pizza in his mouth. "Give me until tomorrow mornin'. I'll have unlocked this phone and will have told you all its dirty little secrets." he boasted.

"It's a deal then." said Nevada arms folded as he turned away.

Pent looked at him. "Want a drink?" he asked.

Nevada stared at him for a bit. "What is there to drink?"

Pent smiled. "You name it."

Nevada closed his eyelids half way. "Pepsi Jazz French Vanilla."

Marvel scuttled over to a small fridge and handed Nevada the drink he asked causing him to stare at it in awe.

Dr. Miracle shook his head. "Escort him out Pent. He ain't ready for this yet. Maybe tomorrow he'll fully accept The Miracle." he said.

With a nod Pent scooted the detective out, drink in hand. Soon the two were outside again, the sun beginning to set. Nevada would quickly learn that Pent wouldn't be one for silence, contrasting with himself.

"If there's a guy you'll want to turn in it's probably going to be Dr. Miracle or Marv." said Pent with a bored look as he walked with his hands behind his back.

Nevada raised his eyebrows. "Oh yeah, why?" he asked in curiosity.

"Well they're programmers and all the crap they do isn't always one-hundred percent legal." he explained.

Nevada stopped dead in his tracks. "Are you serious?" he asked with a straight face.

Pent threw down his hands before scratching his head out of nervousness. "Well, uh, they don't do really illegal things and not all the time. Only if the situation calls for it." he explained, flustered.

Nevada raised an eyebrow and folded his arms. "So, they fight fire with fire?" he asked.

"Chill my friend." 

"We are NOT friends." shouted Nevada.

Pent looked him dead in the eye."You want to know my power? I can read people like a book and right now this book's ending is undecided. When I first saw you..."Pent looked away."I knew you were in dire need of a friend...you feel yours is failing you don't you?"

Nevada's eyes began to tear up. "What do you know!?" he sniffled. 

Pent walked over to him and gave him a pat on the back."Enough to lend you a shoulder but not enought to seriously help." he replied, emphasizing "seriously".

Nevada drank his cold Pepsi on the hot night. Pent smiled. "So, are we going to hang out tomorrow or what?"

Nevada slowly broke away from him and looked him in the eyes. "I have work to do. I'm sorry."he said. He turned away and walked away from Pent shaking his head.

"Later bro! I'll just have to tell Linnea that!" he shouted causing his new "friend" to flinch at Ms. Houri's name.

...

Nevada returned to the agency with the movie titled "One Romantic Night" he had rented from the movie rental store not to far away from where he and Pent departed. He got Liam and with a bit of coaxing he was able to get him to sit and the coach to watch the movie. Neither of them were anything like Pent and as such when a stifling silence descended, neither of them tried to destroy it. The movie that was supposed to be a comedy/romance fought tooth and nail to get a chuckle out of the two with no avail, they were to wrapped up in their own thoughts. Liam with his meeting and his dead lover, Nevada with Liam's dead lover, her faithful niece, the mystery of the disappearing evidence, the strange Pent and the arguably even stranger duo of Doctor Miracle and Marvel. Neither of them were hopeful for the future and once the movie ended they simply sat there, watching the main menu loop over, and over, and over again, and again, and again.Eventually both of them had retreated to their respective chambers.

As Nevada lay awake in his be he could not get the sweet image of Linnea Harvey out of his head and as he dozed off he saw two hands in his dreams reaching out longingly for his soul. A demented, chaotic one of red and a sane, lawful one of blue...

Chapter Four: Power DuoEdit

The next morning Nevada woke up to his personally least favorite pain, sore eyes.

He groaned as he grabbed a pair of tan dress pants (determined to not make the same color mistake again) and white button up shirt along with his essentials-namely his hat, underwear and socks. He walked to the bathroom with his eyes just barely open in hopes that this remedy would somehow aid his eyes. Unfortunately , it didn't work too well.

He looked in the mirror, no pink eye just your ordinary run-of-the-mill case of irritated eyes for no good reason at all. He sighed as he let the hot water assault his stiff body, warming his skin and waking him up better than any old alarm clock could. His eyes still hurt badly but he tried to push his pain to the back of his mind. No matter how stupid he thought it, he was still on a case and that required every hour of daylight- if he was lucky.

Nevada yawned as he casually put his hands in his pockets and head down the stairs to see Liam with a suitcase taking an eighth of a banana bushel out the fridge. Nevada observed that he didn't look as pained as he did the previous day, he had a completely neutral expression on his face. Nevada was impressed for he honestly could not tell if Liam was thinking of his lost love or not. Additionally, he could not make an educated guess due to his lack of information concerning Liam's condition the previous day.

Nevada sat on a stool causing Liam to turn around and look at him curiously. For some reason, Liam's face caused Nevada to smile which in turn caused Liam to chuckle before closing the fridge after taking out a small bottle of milk.

Nevada stretched his arms and rubbed his eyes. "So, how'd the meeting go yesterday."

Nevada fully expected his mentor to turn away in shame but much to his surprise, Liam simply stared at him while responding. "The meeting was just barely finished on time. We're thinking of going again in two days but none of us think it will be needed."

Nevada raised his eyebrows. "Why?" he asked.

Nevada quietly chuckled as Liam turned his head in shame. "We all think her death was of natural causes...well not natural." he sighed.

Nevada looked away."Good for you man." He refrained from saying anything he found out about the case yesterday because he lacked any definite proof that it was significant. It could probably be explained that everything was a perfectly normal occurrence and it would only serve to anger Liam in his state.

Liam shot him his fierce lion look. Nevada simply took the full effect of it, not shrinking as he was used to it by now and also due to the fact that he was desensitized this morning. Nevada jumped off the stool. "So, do we have another new case?"

Liam shook his head."No, I'm simply reviewing a murder case from fifteen years ago. The Statute of Limitations is quickly approaching and they want me to make sure there are absolutely no leads I can find." he answered.

"Have you reviewed the case before?" asked Nevada.

Liam folded his arms and nodded. "Yes, it's been eating at me for as long as I've been a detective because I've never been able to solve it."

"So you're going to solve it today?" asked Nevada.

Liam gave a pft. "Doubt it. But we'll see Nevada. We'll see." he said as he placed twenty dollars on the table and walked away.

Nevada sighed, half of exasperation and half of relief. This money was normal, Liam was giving it to him so he could order breakfast or eat at a diner. Looks like breakfast is back to normal. 

                                ...

Nevada had trekked to The Happy Sun Diner. Lady Luck had smiled down on his today, for it was not as hot as yesterday but the sun still showed its ugly face in Nevada. Nevada would have walked to the much closer Burt's Diner if not for his astronomical tab or rather, Liam's astronomical tab. If he had just paid the bill that night three years ago he wouldn't have gotten into the habit of not paying. Now he and Nevada had an eye-popping tab of $568.19 and Nevada was convinced that unless he walked into Burt's Diner with a suitcase full of money, Burt would personally strangle the young detective.

Nevada sighed as he entered the air-conditioned diner and sat at a booth. As he sat he locked eyes with a cute girl who was passing. Even though he was currently sitting he could gauge that she was about his height with curly black hair, black eyes, a blue jean mini-skirt and a red tank top. Nevada noticed admittedly that she was on the chubby side but he didn't care; he didn't pay too much attention to girls to create a preference. Although he did think girls were cute, he pretty much spends all of his days with Liam and most of the girl's they encountered were either dead, traumatized, or hysteric.

The girl gave a hearty wave at Nevada who raised his eyebrows and waved quickly back.The girl chuckled before exiting the diner.

Nevada sighed. For the reasons already discussed he didn't quite get females, though to be fair he didn't quite get males either. The only people that he understood or at least thought he understood were Liam and himself. He was finally beginning to come to terms with the fact that he didn't really ever know Liam due to his not-quite-hidden distance to everything but the thing that scared him was himself. Who is he, who was he and what would he become or more importantly: who did he want to be?

He ordered his breakfast which consisted of a to-go coffee container, a fried egg, waffles, hash-brown, sausages, bacon and a pancake. He hoped eating a lot of food would help him grow but it didn't seem to be helping so far. He ate his meal in glum silence. After he was finished, Nevada rose from his seat after paying the bill and briskly head to the door. 

Nevada did not notice the pale, tall man wearing round, black-tinted glasses hence why he bumped into him, spilling his scorching coffee all over his white lab coat. Nevada's eyes bulged once he noticed what he had just done but before he could sputter out a horrified sorry the man adjusted his glasses.

"Sorry." the man apologized curtly before briskly leaving the diner, leaving Nevada speechless.

                       ...

After a long trek, Nevada had finally made it back to Marilyn Apricot's house.

He sighed as he put the key in the lock and turned it to enter the dead house. He closed the door and jumped, startled at Marilyn's cat who gave a mournful meow as it rubbed itself against Nevada's leg that had begun to shake.

Nevada gave a sigh of relief as he locked the door. The cat had plopped down on the ground, desperately wanting to be pet, for its best friend in the entire world had recently departed this plane of existence. Nevada complied, for he had a sweet spot for felines due to his mentor's fierce lion look and he began petting the cat who began purring softly, bringing a smile on the teenager's face. 

He finally released himself from the cat's trance and trotted upstairs with his hands in his pockets. Now that he inside, he realized that he wasn't exactly sure why he returned. There was nothing left here and the woman herself had been removed. He supposed the ghost of Marilyn was enticing him to play in her house. He shook his head, not believing in that which was irrational and simply told himself that he was on the prowl for more clues but he knew that this was only an excuse for he knew good and well that there was nothing left in this house for him.

He opened the door to Marilyn's room and shut the door, leaning and sinking down with his hands on his face. What am I going to do? This isn't a case, this is some addict that drank one drink too many. And she used pills! This was suicide by a dumb bimbo!

Nevada shot up when he heard movement. Had the cat followed him? No, it was laying down when he left. He saw a lump on the bed and moved cautiously towards it. Is he armed?

He saw blond curly hair then saw the head turn, seeing freckles. He gave a confused sigh as his mind registered that this was simply Linnea. 

He jumped back when Linnea stretched her arms and rose, noticing she was in pink pajamas. He blinked while rubbing her eyes with her fists.

She looked at Nevada. "Mr. detective?" she yawned innocently.

"It's Nevada." he blinked. "You're literally a sight for sore eyes." he stated, amazed that his eyes had suddenly been cured by simply looking at Linnea.

Linnea smiled sleepily. "My, my aren't we mighty patriotic?" she asked causing Nevada to frown.

Nevada was beginning to grow hot at her sight."Why are you here?" he asked.

"I could ask you the same thing."

The two were silent, both knowing that their reasons were the same: Marilyn Apricot.

The two were silent, unable to find anything to say to each other. They really didn't know anything about one another though Nevada knew significantly more about Linnea than she knew of him.

"H-how did you get in here?" asked Nevada. "This is a crime scene."

In answer Linnea jingled a chain of keys. "As far as the authorities are concerned this isn't a crime." she said through tight, angry lips.

Nevada nodded.

The two were silent again, avoiding eye contact with each other. Nevada looked up at her and for a second he hated himself for fishing for a topic and finally pulling in a fish only for it to be an annoying boy.

"So, uh...do you know anyone named Pent Garvin?" asked Nevada as he finally looked at the girl on the bed.

She pounded her fists on the bed and stared at Nevada in disbelief. "Penter Samuel Garvin!?" she shouted. "How do you know him?" 

Nevada looked away trying to hide his smile. "Oh, well you know. I'm so popular he practically begged on his knees to be my friend."

Linnea folded her arms and frowned. "Sounds just like him! Always acting like he's so buddy buddy with every person he meets. I swear he's going to get seriously screwed up if he doesn't toughen up!"

Nevada chuckled. "You sound as if you care about Pent a lot. Is he your boyfriend."

Linnea began to leap out of the bed shouting. "Do you want to test me state-boy!?"

Nevada shook his head and held up his hands, Linnea suddenly becoming a deadly warrior princess. "Sorry, sorry!" he apologized. He was glad he brought up Pent. Even when not present the boy was bringing people together. He felt easier around Linnea but that still didn't thaw his coldness for Pent. He was with Linnea, him acting all buddy buddy with everyone was bound to get him hurt and he didn't feel like cleaning up the mess and would not feel a shred of guilt.

Nevada raised his eyebrows and blushed as he twiddled his thumbs and looked to the ground causing Linnea to grow silent and calm. "Hey, so what exactly are you and Pent?" Nevada asked, emphasizing the "are".

Linnea gritted her teeth. "Me and Penter Garvin are nothing! I'm just too nice and look out for that soft little kid." she explained angrily.

Good. I don't want you fooling around with some thick joke. "Well he said he was the president of the Linnea Houri fan club."

Linnea raised her eyebrows. "What?! That little creep started a fan club for me?! Now him and some other losers will probably stalk me with binoculars trying to get a look at my goods!" said Linnea angrily. "Do you know how many members?"

Nevada blushed at the mention of Linnea's "goods". "Just him." he answered.

Linnea let out a sigh of relief as she put her hand on her chest. "I'm so glad."

Nevada wanted to slyly add 'it can be a club of two if you will it my dear' but dismissed it. He wasn't a guy able to pull off the whole "fresh" deal, that was more Liam's forté.

"He also said his last name was Garland for some reason."

Linnea rolled her eyes and sighed with a pitying smile. "He loves Disneyland so he thought it would be cool if he could change the "vin" in his last name to "land". He says it's so he can take the magic with him everywhere." she explained.

Nevada sighed, threw his arms out and hung his head. "That's stupid."

Linnea smiled. "I know."

Now that the air was finally cured of its venomous properties, Nevada walked over to Linnea who flipped her hair. "We're not going to find out anything alone Linnea. I am offering a truce to look for clues. Though I'm doing it since I can never leave something unsolved and your doing it because you truly love Marilyn, we both need closure. So how about it? Want to form a duo?" he asked holding out a hand. 

Linnea smiled and took his hand and used it to help herself out of the bed. Nevada's eyes widened when she collided with him, his eyes widening due to him expecting her to scream at his pants which had a very...embarrassing reaction to her touch. She seemed oblivious to this development however.

"Let me just change right quick Nev." said Linnea as she happily power-walked to the in-room bathroom and shut the door. Nevada looked embarrassed at the bed. She had called him "Nev". The only people to do that were Liam and his mother who he hadn't seen in three years.

Linnea opened the bathroom with a black skirt and short sleeved shirt. One sleeve was blue the other red. Her mini-skirt had thin yellow-lines running vertically. She wore black heels. "How do I look."

"Fant-Fine." Nevada corrected himself

Linnea folded her arms and tilted her head at the detective. She walked to the bedroom door and opened it. Nevada gave a sigh as he walked out, finally glad to be out of a closed room with Linnea.

After she fed the cat who Nevada found out was named Milo they began looking for clues in the house.

                                    ...

Four hours. Four hours, 240 minutes, 14400 seconds, a sixth of a day and the two had not found anything worthwhile. They scrounged the entire house for clues, Linnea turning the entire house upside down for invisible leads and Nevada promptly turning it right side up. Though he was a bit more ordered in his search due to years of detective work, he was no less frantic in trying to find something. In the first hour the two made light small talk and Linnea even decided to flirt with the boy a bit prompting him to get into positions where she could not see his loose fitting pants. After the second hour they became a lot less lax. By the third hour they had both kicked into maximum overdrive and Linnea had ordered meat-lovers pizza for the two to eat. Every time Linnea would find something that looked like a clue she would present it to the much more experienced Nevada who would sadly frown and debunk her theories.

The two had finally plopped down on the couch. The entire house lit up due to them turning on every single light in the house. Nevada was too tired and defeated to let his body acknowledge its closeness to Linnea's. He didn't know why, but he had really grown attached to finding a clue in this house about Marilyn's death. He didn't find anything so that should have been his closure but he still wasn't satisfied. He turned to see Linnea's eyes water as she had a stare of a thousand miles, looking ahead into the distance. Maybe it was the blonde bombshell next to him that forced him to go on.

He looked down and saw paper in her hands. "Let me see that." ordered Nevada.

Linnea shook her head. "It's like the rest Nev. It's not related to this case." she cried in a whisper, the dams constructed in her eyes finally disintegrating quietly.

Nevada snatched the paper from her hands, tearing it slightly. I'll be the judge of that missy!

He scanned it. It was simply your run-of-the-mill receipt to Wal-Mart with your run of the mill ite-wait a minute...

Nevada read the items slowly. "Toilet Paper, Cat food, Kitty Litter, Beer, Wine, Whiskey, Windex, Signature stripe thigh-high black panty hosiery, Oranges, Apricots (heh), garbage bags, lace trim cheeky panties, and true seduction perfume."

Nevada blushed and began sweating as he ran down the list and Linnea looked at him, overhearing him slightly. "Anything out of order?" Linnea asked softly.

Nevada avoided looking at her, afraid that he might imagine her in the items. "For the most part, no." he answered matter-of-factly and hoped to leave it at that but he could not ignore Linnea's raised eyebrows, knowing she wanted to know what were the things that didn't follow the "most". Nevada sighed. "However, she did buy some pretty intricate undergarments and perfume." he said

"So?" asked Linnea as she slanted her eyes.

Nevada answered annoyed. "So, being that you were the only person she saw she wouldn't need such items." he looked at Linnea finally. "Unless you had an incestic relationship you kindly forgot to tell me about." he said, relishing the thought of some twisted aunt and niece "fun-time".

Linnea growled causing Nevada to jump. Though Liam had the best lion, Linnea had a not-half-bad Puma. "Maybe she just wanted them...to pretend like it was...the old days again..." she said fiercely then gradually growing sad.

"No, she wanted those to impress someone. Though seeing as they're undergarments I think we've missed the impression stage."

Linnea looked away.

Nevada had just made a pretty bold claim. Besides these, there was no evidence of Marilyn seeing someone prior to her death. For all he knew Linnea was right and this simply could just be away to live as if she was still with Liam.

Linnea sighed. "Let's just go home Nev."

Nevada rose up quickly, startling Linnea. He was not about to let this lively girl lose hope. "No! We still haven't checked everywhere."

Linnea's face returned to that of despair. "Nev what are you talk-" 

Nevada was too overcome with the drive to make sure Linnea didn't give up hope. He grabbed her hand and led her out the house to the backyard. They stopped at the door to the shed which was locked. 

Linnea locked at Nevada who slightly shorter than him due to her heels. "Nev?"

"You have keys. Please tell me you have keys to the shed."

Linnea sighed and appeared to pulled out her keys.

She entered the keys into the lock and twisted it causing the door to open slowly. Linnea had already lost all hope but Nevada's heart was beating out of his chest.He was ready to run inside the cold shed beause the sun cooking on the boy like a grill.

Nevada, despite his eagerness, held the door open for Linnea before calmly walking in. He shut the door just as Linnea pulled a chord, turning on a light. Even though his intellectual side didn't trust this wily side that went crazy around Linnea he decided to close the door, feeling as if they were cornering a secret no one else had the right to know.

He would allow Linnea on the case as it was personal but not Penter Garvin. Nevada's attention was immediately grabbed by a chalkboard that had had a grid with very small cells. It had blue chalk, white chalk, red chalk, green chalk and had a bullet hole on the grid. Nevada observed it, his heart rate slowing down. He was finally stumped, it was just scribbles. He could now have his closure. The girl would just have to accept the sad fact that her aunt...

"This wasn't here when I was last here. I remember me and auntie were working on a case and we put clues here. There wasn't a map..." she said.

Nevada snapped out of his trance of thought and looked at the scribbles on the wall. "A map?" he asked.

Linnea nodded with a serious expression as she turned to Nevada and pointed. "We're here." she pointed to two other dots her index finger and middle finger stretching wide. "And this is Burt's Diner and this here's Nevada Laundromat."

Nevada's eyes widened as he took long strides forward pointing. "And here's The Super Detective Agency." he said pointing to another cell.

Linnea bit her thumb. "My god...who did this?"

Nevada was too engrossed now. He idolized this girl for helping him see what he could not by his own. If not for her sneaking in, he would have lacked the drive to search for clues for so long, to come to the shed, to decipher the puzzle. "This bullet hole must be..."

Linnea's eyes widened. "Soda Lake..." she bit her thumb again before whipping her head back up, getting some of her blonde hair in Nevada's face. She pointed to a small sector that was faintly outlined. "Then these are the Ruby Mountains!" 

Nevada took a step back. This map is huge! It has half if not 3/4ths of the entire state! 

Linnea gleefully put her finger on the yellow dot in a cell northeast from where Marilyn's house was. "I think this is where we need to go!" 

Nevada nodded furiously jotting down notes in his Hatsune Miku notepad. Nevada wanted to kiss her so badly right now. He ran out the shed and leaned against the shed as he continued furiously jotting down notes.

Linnea had exited not too far behind after studying the map more and turning off the light.  Nevada suddenly stopped writing in shock. "Linnea? It'll take us forever on foot." Once she didn't reply however he looked at her to see a phone on her ear.

"Hi! I need you to do me a SUPER favor! Okay listen I need you to..." she walked away from Nevada who continued to furiously jot down notes as he was forced to turn the page.

Linnea returned with a smile and took Nevada's hand causing him to softly gasp. He wondered to himself why did he gasp when she took his hand even though he could do the same to her. He certainly didn't mind when Linnea grabbed him.

They waited on the porch of Marilyn's house in silence. Nevada had a neutral expression. He turned his head left and saw Linnea smiling as she hugged her knees causing a smile to invade his face as well. Without warning she leaned over and planted a long, firm and warm kiss on the young detective's forehead. As she retreated he blushed and she giggled.

"What's so funny?" asked Nevada in embarrassment.

"Your reaction. It's so cute!" giggled Linnea.

Nevada's eyebrows furrowed. "I'm not cute, I'm-"

Nevada was cut off by the appearance of a red convertible pulling up with a girl wearing leopard shades with a cigarette in her mouth. Nevada looked at Linnea who promptly took his hand and led him to the car. She got in the passenger seat while Nevada reluctantly got in the back. He didn't like strangers (especially not those who smoked) but he supposed he could trust a friend of Linnea's. He still didn't like the idea of getting so many people involved in a case that was suppose to be his mission. Though he could still stomach Linnea butting in, just not anyone else.

He quickly observed the girl in the driver's seat was the same girl from the diner. They were still in front of Marilyn's house when she turned around and blew a kiss. "Hey cutey! Member little old me?" she asked.

Nevada blushed and nodded prompting her and Linnea to laugh. He turned away suddenly feeling betrayed as the two teenage girls laughed at his awkwardness.

"Oh, sweetie don't be like that." she meekly apologized as she quickly drove away.

Linnea turned around, her hair wildly whipping in the wind along with the girl's. "Do you know where we're headed?" 

Nevada nodded in thought. "I just so happen to have a photographic memory. I won't be forgetting our destination soon."

"You have the ability to remember everything you see?" asked the girl in shock.

Nevada shrugged. "It comes in goes."

"I don't think it works like that Nev..."

"Whatever," said Nevada curtly at the attempt to undermine his exceptional memory. "The map is like a physical picture in my head. The destination is somewhere near Cherry Creek." he said.

"Okay Cam Jansen. Cherry creek it is Shelby!" squealed Linnea in glee.

Nevada folded his arms as he couldn't help but smile at the joy he was giving Linnea. "So, Linnea. You're not from around here are you?" asked Nevada.

The three were speeding down a long road. "H-huh? W-what makes you say that?"

"You just have a certain aura about you." 

All was silent except for the whipping of the wind. Linnea sighed. "Sure are observant aren't we Mr. Detective. Fine, if you must know, no I am not from the area. I was actually born and raised in Winnemucca."

Nevada raised his eyebrows. "The Line and everything?"

Linnea bit her lip. "The Line and Everything. I kind of miss it there to be honest. With the Humboldt Sun, the river, the Basque Festival and all." 

"Then why'd you leave?" asked Nevada.

"Well-" Linnea began.

Shelby laughed. "You heard I've been Everywhere girl?"

Linnea smiled. "Yup!" she answered as Shelby winked. Linnea was grateful that her friend had saved her from that uncomfortable discussion.

"So, your name's Shelby?" asked Nevada. "That's a nice name." he said queitly. retorted Nevada.

Shelby smiled. "Not as nicr as your the name you got from your mighty patriotic parents." she said causing Linnea to laugh. Nevada gritted his teeth and turned away from the driver.

...

They had been on the road for awhile now and had stopped at McDonalds. To check his nutrition, Nevada used his notebook to log all the food he consumed.

Ice Tea which I shared with Linnea (FIRST KISS!), Mega Mac, a large fry with Linnea, a chocolate ice cream cone, a 20-piece chicken McNugget with Sweet n' Sour sauce and an apple pie.

Linnea pretty much got her food by mooching off of her friends and Shelby ordered a premium salad drowned in ranch dressing. Even though Shelby protested to eating in her car, she finally caved in and ate on the road.

On the road they listened to an eighties station that had played various songs.While the girls only recognized a few songs, Nevada recognized them all. Although he resisted the urge to sing to most of the songs, he finally caved in once a song called Lost in Emotion began playing. Nevada to sing quietly as not to embarrass himself but his passion in singing led him to raise his voice, causing the girls to hold in their laughter as not to upset the boy.

Nevada had sat behind's Shelby's curly hair the entire ride but had just managed to put the two pieces together. "Y-you!? Are you Pent's sister?!"

"You know Pent!?" cried Shelby turning her head to Nevada's horror.

Eager for Shelby to turn around, Nevada answered her question quickly. "Yeah, I met him the other day!...so that's why you're so close to Pent!" Nevada finally realized.

"We are not close!" protested Linnea after she swallowed some fries. "The only reason I notice that loser is because me and his sister are curl sisters!"

"Oh shut up Linnea! Yours aren't even natural!"

Linnea gave what Nevada had now dubbed "The Puma Stare". "Do not start! I told you how long..."

Nevada blocked out the girls' words. At hearing the words "loser" and "the only reason I notice" Nevada suddenly felt remorse for Pent who could just be another awkward teen like him. The group continuedto move along the non-changing road which gave them a dull view of the desert.

                                              ...

They group had grown slightly chilly. Nevada tried to shake off his coldness by shaking his body to the eighties music that was playing.

"Are we almost there Nevada?" asked  Melotta.

"I may have miscalculated ev-"

Linnea groaned.

"Ever so slightly!" snapped Nevada. "Just a bit farther." The car then turned around.

The group slowed down until they gradually stopped. Shelby, Nevada and Linnea all stared at the map that Nevada had quickly jotted down before departing Marilyn's house. Linnea was impressed, it was identical to the original.

"I'd say this is about right." declared Linnea finally. Nevada nodded.

"Stay here." said Nevada to Shelby as she quickly nodded, stretched out, put her feet on the dashboard and yawned. 

The range known as Schell Creek was a breathtaking sight indeed. Several different plants grew on the beautiful green grass. Small trees also sprung from the ground and Nevada was tempted to slip his hand into Linnea's but resisted the urge. This place was beautiful, it was no use getting shot down in such a beautiful place.

"You know what place I love? Ely?" stated Nevada more to himself then Linnea. She still agreed anyways. Nevada was ever grateful that the clouds had finally decided to battle the sun.

Once the duo were deep in the creek they saw a large wooden house that looked like it sprung out of nature rather than intruding on it. Large trees surrounded it and the field it was erected was filled with flowers causing Nevada's nose to run in account of his allergies.

Nevada knocked on the door and waited. No answer. He called out. No answer.

Oh dear. This will never do. We need a search warrant on this place and fast but how will we go about getting this search warrant? There's really no good reason for me to search this house anyways and Liam won't be too happy about it even if the police do listen to me. Oh what a mess.

While Nevada was lost in thought he hadn't noticed his companion climb through the open window.

With a yelp Linnea fell to the floor of a simple kitchen with a single chair and a small wooden table. She begun to army crawl down the stairs. She gasped as she saw a room full of insects in containers filled with a yellowish-green liquid. This would prove interesting indeed.

                                           ...

Nevada was restlessly pacing outside the house waiting for his lady friend to return. Had she been kidnapped? Should he call for the police? No, not that...yet. First, he would go inform Shelby. 

He was about to head to the car when he stopped himself. He was afraid of leaving her in case she needed him. He turned around in relief as he saw Linnea exit the house the same way she had entered though now she had items in her hands. Nevada rushed over to her. 

"What have you found?" he asked uneasily.

Nevada's heart skipped a beat when he heard the pant in her voice, knowing the instant she opened her mouth that something was very wrong indeed. "I got a camera and a camera roll, a photo album full of pictures of auntie, a deed to a house and a part of a poem." she panted.

Nevada's eyes widened at the mention of Marilyn. "I also saw a room full of bugs...What's wrong?" at the mention of bugs Nevada went pale.

Linnea rose up, clutching the items tightly. "But we gotta' go Nev!" she panted urgently.

"Why?" asked Nev concerned as he put a hand on her shoulder.

"Well, uh. I thought the house was deserted but it turns out that a lump I saw in the bed on the top floor was a person. When I heard them stirring I ran downstairs but I heard footsteps behind me." Nevada clamped her mouth as he tackled her to the ground. Luckily, Nevada's body was working with him for it didn't register the contact with Linnea. They ran while crouching into the trees, getting up and dashing when they heard the door opening.

They ran into the trees where Nevada took Linnea's items then stuffed them into his hat. 

"Hey!" yelled a man's voice, seeing the figures through the trees. 

"Run!" whispered Nevada loudly. He then gripped his hat tightly as he and Linnea ran away from the man. Fortunately for them he did not give chase making their dash to the car easier. That didn't stop them from running like there was no tomorrow however.

Once the convertible was in far sight their hearts leaped out of their chests at the quickly approaching sounds of a motorcycle. They ran faster then they jumped into the car once they finally reached it. Nevada jumped in the front and Linnea had assumed backseat this time.

Nevada gave a punch to Shelby's legs causing her to snort loudly. "Who's there!?" she yelled.

"Drive!" they screamed in perfect unison.

Suddenly alert, Shelby righted herself and turned the key in the ignition. The car lurched forward as they heard the motorcycle approaching. Shelby quickly accelerated until she could no longer hear the roaring of the motorized bike.

Even thirty minutes after they had left Schell Creek Range they were still jittery and Nevada sang another eighties song to calm himself. Once the chorus began, Linnea joined him. 

                                              ...

"Well, goodbye then." said Nevada.

"Yep." answered Linnea with an awkward pat for a hug.

Nevada was not satisfied with the departure as the car roared off. He wasn't sure if he would ever see Linnea again and their separating was so bland. Maybe her half hug meant she didn't care about him even though for all she knew he had just saved her life.

Nevada sighed as he sat on the steps of the school. He took out the contents of his hat and scanned them. He didn't scan them in the car for he was afraid the wind would blow them away and he did not want that to happen.  He looked at the small photo album. Just as Linnea stated it was full of pictures of Marilyn. No pictures of her with anyone just smiling her cute, teasing smile. She looked so happy despite everything that happened to her causing Nevada to wonder if these pictures were pictures of her before she and Liam had gone their separate ways. His theory was proven correct when he saw a picture of her that was definitely of her younger self. She had her arm wrapped around a mystery man who's face had been cut out.

Nevada's eyes widened. He remembered where he had seen Marilyn's face before. Three years ago he was tired after spending the night with Liam and fell asleep on the chair chair to Liam's desk. The last thing he saw was a lovely maiden and a picture of a happy and cocky intelligent man. When he woke up early in the morning he had been wrapped in a cocoon of blankets and he was on the couch. That woman was Marilyn and that man who was cut out now was Liam.

He examined the camera and roll. The camera was pink and had stickers of butterflies and rainbows on the side; it appeared well preserved. He examined the deed. It appeared to be to the house that the two had found though it was written in a very confusing manner as if a riddle. He then read the poem.

....I smile at the cute buxom angel
You are were at the range
When you made me change
With your sweet smile that can't be caged
And your perfectly placed fat that does not give me rage
You are the perfect human Marilyn Apricot
And I need you
I need you for my wicked desires
I need you for my twisted dreams
Let me rip your seam
So I can feel your skin
And we can make twins
Let's go to Las Vegas
So I can win like a magus
Oh Marilyn Apricot
As you are a perfect human
I now know that I'm a lowly one

Nevada grimaced while reading the poem. He didn't even know if it was trying to be sweet. Whether it was trying or not he knew good and well that it still seemed sinister. Now he knew that Marilyn had an admire but would a admire make her buy sexy panties? He doubted it, they had to be much more.

He put his clues back into his hat then entered the school building. It was sunset now. He didn't mean to keep Dr. Miracle waiting all day but he didn't know he'd be travelling across the state.

He went to the first floor to the false door and saw the wall ajar. He walked cautiously in to see Dr. Miracle tapping away at his keyboard. The phone was connected via a strange looking USB chord to the hard drive.

Before Nevada could ask anything Dr. Miracle robbed him of the chance. "I dismissed Marvel because I didn't want to be distracted. Due to him being gone I took a gamble and left the door slightly open so I wouldn't have to get up. Oh, and Penter says 'hi'." said the doctor in complete monotone, not changing his pace at all.

"Oh, tell him I said "hi" back. Sorry for making you-" 

Dr. Miracle held up a hand. "Please Nevada we're both men about our business so let's cut the shit hmmm?"

Nevada gave him a confused look. "Excuse-"

"You see this is a tougher case than I thought. It appears someone hacked this phone before I began operating on it. They're pretty good bastards seeing as they somehow hacked the phone remotely." The doctor turned around and put a hand on his chest. "But being the mad and fabulous doctor that I am it was mere poultry to lock them out and revert the damage...that I could..."

"That you could...?" asked Nevada, throwing his hands out.

Dr. Miracle turned to his computer, not wanting to face his client after failing. "Here's where it gets ugly. 75% percent of the data was erased."

Nevada hung his head.

"But! And this is a big but! The data that I have recovered seems valuable. I would give you the phone but I'm still trying to stabilize it. This poor sap's hooked on life support and if I take it out the pulse will be dead and it will be unassailable." he adjusted his glasses. "Except for me and Marvel of course."

"Well, show me the val-" Dr. Miracle snapped and a projector began showing a slideshow.

It was titled "What my client needs to know Number 34. By: The Glorious Doctor Dre"

They first saw a picture of Marilyn making a duck face with a large pale hand on her head, then they were treated to a picture of Marilyn in a bikini causing Dr. Miracle to smile at Nevada who was blushing, then they saw a picture of a drunken Marilyn with a pale woman with short hair and a small man with large glasses and long hair, they saw another picture of the small man flipping the bird, they then saw another picture of Marilyn sitting next to a large, black splotch, the splotch being corrupted data as signified by several redand white lines in the splotch, with Dr. Miracle hardly managing to salvage even a general shape.

They then heard a phone call with a picture of a blue phone on the slideshow, added by Dr. Marvel to signify that it was a phone call.

"Oh, John. You're so funny."

"Well, when you're locked up in the lab all day you can think of some pretty funny stuff." They heard a beep.

"You..you remind me of him."

"You think that makes me happy Lyn!? Being compared to that bastard!?"

"He's a great man!"

"No he's not. He's a pedophile who-" they heard another beep.

"You liked the pics I sent you?"

"Yeah, send me more."

"What type of panties do you like?"

"Well-" they heard another beep. Nevada was getting sweatier still causing the overweight doctor to chuckle.

"Mind your own business!"

"But I'm your sister Mari! I have as much as a right to-"

"No! Everyone's trying to save me! Well I don't need saving dammit!" they heard a beep.

"I got the flour auntie!" chirped Linnea's voice before they heard another beep.

"Can we run away, John?"

"Yes, Marilyn. To the ends of this pitiful rock if you'd like."

"Goody. Let's leave Nevada behind."

"Yes, it's such a dusty, dead state anyways." this caused both Dr. Miracle and Nevada to frown before they heard another beat.

"Please answer your door Mari. Mah knuckles are hurtin'." said her next door neighbor before a beep.

"I just want you to be happy Mari." they heard another voice. "Ohhhhh, Jooooohhn!"

"Could you at least hang up the phone before screwing the girl I deserve John!?" they heard another beep.

"Please let me speak to John!"

"John's too good for you!" the heard a beep before they heard a final conversation.

"I want to be good enough for you, Lyn."

"But I want to be good enough for you, John." the slideshow was then over with the message "Have a nice day because you've just been hit by the doctor."

If the clues disturbed him the remaining contents of the phone horrified Nevada. He had one more piece, Jon who he could say without a doubt was why Marilyn had bought the lingerie and was the person who wrote the poem. It was most likely Jon that had chased them. He wondered if John was the short man but thought it unlikely as the tall man was the one who's data was "corrupted" as the doctor had put it.

"I decided to dabble in your work detective." Dr. Miracle sighed as he munched on a Twix. "I searched John but as it's a pretty common name I didn't get any leads."

Nevada was about to tell him to search for Johns in White Pine County when Dr. Miracle held up his hand. "I'm pretty sure John isn't his real name either. In final attempt to best me the unknown hacker must of digitally altered the audio files. I know it seems unbelievable but if you're boss enough you can create programs that can change the words a person says to sound like other words. It's very obvious if you abuse it but names tend to be the hardest to detect. With my customized dollar headphones I just barely picked up on the teensienst change. Please don't ask how, the doctor works in mysterious ways." he sighed.

"John Doe..." Nevada said quietly to himself. I kind of believe him...

He removed his glasses and looked as if he was praying. "I'm sorry Detective Nevada. I read the papers talking about Marilyn's death."

Nevada went over to Dr. Miracle and patted him on the back. "You did well Doctor Miracle. You did well. I'll be on my own this point forward."

"No, I didn't do well. I'm supposed to be perfect. What am I if I can't be perfect."

"You're just a human doctor."

Dr. Miracle sighed. "The phone should be stable tomorrow."

Nevada was about to close the door when he stopped. "Say, do you think you can modify the phone. Like, give it a false plan or whatever so I can use it. I recently broke my cell." Nevada didn't really want to do something that he considered was stealing but he figured that he might as well seeing as he already broke into Marilyn's phone and invaded on her privacy.

Dr. Miracle nodded smiling. "No problem Nev."

                                     ...

Nevada had walked right passed Liam and plopped himself on his bed once he entered his room. He didn't bother changing, he was too tired for that tonight. He wondered how he would explain to Liam what he had found. He would not have approved of getting the clues that were now sprawled across the bed. Nevada simply let Linnea and Marilyn float into his head, too tired to think of detective things that night. Nevada smiled as he drifted into sleep, dreaming of him laughing and talking with Marilyn and Linnea.    

Chapter Five: Rings of FateEdit

Nevada was being pulled by his arm by a girl who was twice his height. Chairs and tables looked gigantic, causing him to be a bit envious of the girl.

Everything seemed as if it was covered in a sepia tint. Nevada had noticed that he was in green footie pajamas and the comparatively tall girl had long brown hair that went down to her back and was tied towards the end to form a dolphin tail. She wore a white tank top and black pajama pants. 

"What am I going to do with you Nevvie?" she asked.

"What do you mean?" asked Nevada. To his shock his voice sounded squeakier and was higher pitched than usual.

"You always wake up late!" the girl explained.

Nevada was confused, he had to wake up early ever since he began living with Liam. Due to this he had a habit of waking up early even when he was not working.

The girl dragged him towards an open door causing the small Nevada to shield his eyes from the blinding yellow light. As his vision was obscured the girl lead him outside and down some steps, the sun beginning to roast him in his footie pajamas. Once Nevada's eyes adjusted to the light he saw a tall man with a bushy brown mustache with a slim woman with brown eyes and long black hair. He looked up towards his side and saw the girl who dragged him. She had a soft, beautiful face; a face that you could see the last shred of innocence as it was sliding slowly off. Nevada regarded her, she looked like a charming female version of himself.

"I brought him pa." the girl said with a soft, early teenage voice. 

"Rise and shine Nevada, we're going on a road trip. You might want to bring a book."

Nevada tried to rub the tiredness out of his eyes. "Where?" he asked in the foreign, unfamiliar voice.

The man smiled. "To Disney World...."

Nevada yawned as he opened his eyes. He was back in his room of the upper floor of the Super Detective Agency. He felt so empowered, stronger than he ever felt in his life. That girl....she was my sister, Sierra Johnson and those people were my parents, Micheal Jonshon and Miley Johnson. Why has it been so long since I dreamed of my family? Have I pushed them away? Have I replaced them all with Liam?

Nevada turned and to his shock he saw the brilliant sapphire ring. He stared at it in befuddlement, he had no recollection of putting it in his bed. He did occasionally sleep walk but why exactly would he get the ring and put it into his bed? He reached for the ring which caused a sharp surge of power to flow into his body then showing a first-person memory of someone driving down the desert in a large truck at night. Nevada shuddered and shrank back. Nevada jumped out of bed, quickly gathered his clothes and jogged hurriedly to the shower, eager to get away from the powerful ring which seemed to whisper his name in a teasing, seductive manner.

                              ...

"Good morning Nev." stoically greeted Liam as he took a sip of coffee and read the top of a stack of paper. 

"Good morning Liam." replied Nevada alert as he sat on the stool next to Liam. He wanted to talk to Liam about what he found but decided he needed to find an explanation as to how he got it.

Liam sighed and began making soft noises with his mouth. "So, do you want to eat at McDonald's?"

Nevada nodded, lost in thought. "So, did you find any leads on the old case?" asked Nevada in hopes to kill enough time for his explanation to manifest.

Liam sighed as he shook his head. "Negative, not any unless you want your lead to lead you to a dead end. There is no way to solve this case."

Nevada looked at his mentor dumbfounded. Two cases he can't solve? This isn't happening. This isn't happening! Nevada slammed his hands on the table. "What do you mean there isn't a way!? Since when did you give up!?"

Liam shot him a fierce look. "Since I began getting these impossible cases!" he barked. Liam sighed as he put down his coffee and paper and rubbed his forehead whilst his eyes were closed. "Let me give you the rundown Nev..."

"In one week the mystery of Miranda Cunningham will be fifteen years old and the statute of limitations will be reached. As you know this means no further legal action pertaining to this case can be taken in a week."

Nevada's eyes widened at the mention of Miranda Cunningham. This case? It's more myth than fact at this point. There are leads?

"The case has been cold for about twelve years now. The police have requested to give it one last look before they close the books and lock up the case forever and of course the results are the same-nothing substantial. The only things that could help are missing and we have no idea where those might be."

"What went missing?" asked Nevada.

"Well, let me tell you the entire story first...It all started fourteen years ago in Elko, Nevada when the Cunninghams moved here from Virginia. They were a plain, small family of four consisting of Graham Cunningham, the father, Elise Cunnigham, the mother, Mimi Cunningham, the junior daughter and Miranda Cunningham, the senior daughter. They lived on a large house on Ash Street. Miranda had gone to the local high-school for three months and only had one friend, a boy by the name of Cecil Wallis. Also located in the town was a detective by the name of Honey Havara. Remember that name for it will become important in due time. Three months after the Cunninghams had moved in, gruesome deaths had began to occur. The deaths involved the victim laying in a pool of their own blood with their brains missing. At first however, the murders were less gruesome and the police didn't pay much attention due to the early victims being prostitutes. It was only later until the local detectives, lead by Honey, would discover that these murders were far from normal either. The victims would be found missing half of their blood via needle. The community would begin to stir at the death of the local school teacher, Thomas Benson who was killed in the gruesome way I had described. At the request of the police, Honey Havara had began her investigation into the murders and was reported as being angry due to her salary. As more and more people began to die, Honey grew angrier and had adopted a sluggish work ethic, purposely under-analyzing and preforming her investigations halfheartedly. Knowing this, Cecil, Miranda and Mimi had decided to take matters into their own hands and had began investigating themselves, dubbing their group The Titanic Trio. The Titanic Trio had began to analyze the victims and had discovered a pattern: that pattern being that most of the victims were females of high intelligence. Graham Cunningham had never approved of his daughters being put in dangerous situations alone with Cecil, the son of the well known convict, Dracul Wallis..."

Nevada shuddered at that name. Though it wasn't a case Super Detective Agency themselves solved, Liam still had extensive records of the case and Dracul's horrible and insane deeds. Nevada felt a bit of empathy towards Graham Cunningham.

"...His anger exploded when The Titanic Trio apparently found a lead and rushed outside of the house while Graham was scolding them. They had ran across the town only to realize that Mimi had gone missing. Cecil and Miranda returned home sobbing, notifying their parents of Mimi's disappearance. To Elise's horror Graham had began savagely beating Cecil, breaking various bones, giving him two black eyes and a swollen lip. Once Graham was finished, Cecil was bruised all over. Elise had notified the police who arrested Cecil, much to her dismay and began their search for Mimi. Honey had sued the Cunninghams for all the money they had claiming that because of Mimi and Miranda she was being put out of work. They went to court and lost the case. As a result of the sue the Cunninghams lost all of their money and had to sell most of their most cherished possessions. A month after her disappearance, Mimi was found standing limply in the ruins of the jail in the ghost town of Bullfrog. Around her neck was her pink camera with flower stickers on it and around her right ring finger was a mysterious sapphire ring."

Nevada's heart felt as if it dropped into the acids of his stomach at the mention of the sapphire ring.

"Once the group of police officers that had found her returned to Elko, it was quickly discovered that Mimi had amnesia, knowing nothing about her past. The only thing she seemed to care about was her sapphire ring which she referred to as Havasuu Amat Chamem Kachumpap and treated it as if it were her child. Elise was devastated and tried to stay near her daughter at all times but Mimi would find a way to sneak out of her grasps each night. Once Cecil had been released, Miranda took Mimi and ran away with Cecil. They only discovered much later that they had found refuge at a hotel not to far from the Cunningham's residence. Graham took his anger out on his wife and began abusing her causing her, to file a divorce not to long after her daughters ran away from home. One night Honey burst into the police station, drunk as a skunk with a briefcase claiming she had a list of the murderers. As the police officers began to interrogate the suspects, Miranda and Cecil began to work undercover, leaving Mimi behind due to her deteriorating mental state. They apparently eventually discovered a hidden underground facility. This facility has never been found, we only know this due to a page in Miranda's diary. Elise had finally given up looking for her daughters and bought a house with her friend, a man by the name of Kilra Familton. They have never been able to find the deed to the house and they found Elise's brainless remains on Route 66 after being missing for four months. One of the people they investigated was a middle-aged man by the name of Alexander H. Louis. The police were especially interested in him because in his house they found extensive notes about the brain and he seemed to know a lot about the victims. They were convinced it was him but several factors made it difficult to convict him such as the fact that they found another victim while he was detained, they had no proof besides his notes, he passed a lie detector test. These factors led to his "not" guilty" verdict at his trial. After his trial Alexander was never seen or heard of again. Honey then robbed a bank, killing four people and stealing one million dollars. She was last seeing driving a purple convertible and was never heard of again." Liam sighed and folded his arms.

"What about Miranda and Mimi?" asked Nevada.

"Miranda....Miranda was never officially heard of again. One student says she returned to school late at night and saw Miranda in a window, screaming in agony while covered in blood. Another student claims that he saw Miranda in the school, tied up and bloody before he ran away in fear. Mimi on the other hand was found by the authorities....they found her lifeless and ringless body hanging suspended by a rope in the post office of Vya..."

Nevada covered his mouth with his hands as his eyes widened. "How...old was she?" he asked in horror.

Liam drummed his fingers. "She would have been eight when they found the body."

"What about..."

"Cecil? He was never seen again. The only thing we have left of him is a letter than many speculate as a suicide note."

"And what about Graham?"

"He went to Las Vegas and became rich in a night. Now he's some millionaire in California and hosts parties exclusive to young women every night. He goes by George Cunning now."

Nevada looked down, a dark cloud entering his body as he vividly imagined the dark and twisted mystery of the end of the Cunninghams.

Liam sighed as he turned away. "It's a hopeless case that can never be solved." Liam sighed.

Nevada stood up. "Liam, I've found some evidence that may help you." he said in a tight voice that was just lower than a yell.

Liam sat up straight and raised his eyebrows. "Oh really? Then show it to me." Nevada could not have shot out of his chair like a rocket and ran upstairs faster.

                                         ...

Liam stared at Mimi's camera in his hands with utter dumbfoundedness. "Nevada...where did you get this?" he looked at the roll of film with a shock that he couldn't hide.

Nevada scratched his head with a sheepish grin. "Um, I found it while wandering around the town."

"Ostlyn is a ways away from Elko Nevada. I suggest you tell me the truth." said Liam as his face hardened.

His grin dissolving, Nevada quickly handed Liam a sheet of paper and handed it to Liam. Liam opened it without emotion until shock planted itself firmly on the man's face once more as his hands shook. "I don't believe it...Nevada how did you...? Where did you.....? When did....."

Nevada smiled as he folded his arms. "I say we go out to eat this morning. We can talk about it once we arrive at our destination." he said with a smile that seemed to illuminate the entire building.

                                            ...

Nevada bit into his breakfast sandwich, his taste buds squealing with delight as he chewed the glorious combination of sausage, egg, cheese, and bacon in his mouth. He didn't pride himself as being a particular healthy eater because if he did he would have to close so many doors on delicious food.

Liam gave him a slightly disturbed look as Nevada bit into the sandwich and adopted a look of ecstasy. "Anyways, this fits the description of Mimi Cunningham's camera." Liam said as he observed the camera while hovering over it, not wanting anyone else to see their treasure. The restaurant was indeed packed due to its position. The neighboring communities of Ostlyn, Matlock, and Alryne were given the nickname of Haven or Oasis by travelers due to its position of a friendly city in the middle of a lifeless desert and due to its position near a beautiful lake. Everyone agreed that if it weren't for mayor Bronson, the Haven area would have died a long time ago.

Liam looked at the deed. "And this fits the description of the deed...though I'm not sure if I can find my way there..." said Liam, feigning disappointment to bait Nevada.

Nevada swallowed another bit of his breakfast as he began patting his face with the handkerchief he carried in his pocket. "I know where it is. It's a large cabin-like home in the middle of Schell Creek."

Liam shot him his fierce lion look. "And how did you discover this?" he asked darkly.

"I investigated." Nevada said, gritting his teeth.

"Schell Lake is awfully far from here."

"I got a ride, okay!?"

Liam smiled and shook his head as he reached over the table and put a hand on Nevada's shoulder. Nevada felt as if his mentor's touch burned. "No, not okay. Who gave you this ride?"

Nevada frowned. "A friend." he said.

Liam took back his hand as he sighed. Since when did Nevada posses friends that he can just use to call rides? It's strange indeed but I'll give him a break and stop pressing him, for now.

Nevada began drinking his orange juice from an orange straw slowly as not to make a lot of noise. "So, are we going to the house after this?"

Liam shook his head. "Not quite. I have to prioritize and getting this roll developed is my top priority. I'll have to go all the way across town to get this developed and I'll want the pictures large, high-quality and with multiple copies. It would be easier if Bronson just would hurry up and approve of the design for the mall." Liam rubbed his forehead. "You can stay here while I go develop the film."

Nevada got up. "It's fine Liam I don't have a problem with going with you. Let me just go to the bathroom. I'll be right back."

Nevada walked towards the bathroom. After he relieved himself with a sigh he washed his hands at the sink without looking up towards the mirror. He hit his head against the wall once he felt a hand slap him hard on the back.

"Hey man!" greeted Pent.

With a look of anger Nevada looked up to see his acquaintance, now wearing a white tank top that was under a plaid green shirt that was open, brown flip-flops and blue shorts that reached just above his knees.

"What are you doing here!?" cried Nevada.

Pent chuckled as he hit his stomach. "Big man gotta' eat!" he explained with a smile, rubbing his stomach.

Nevada assumed his neutral look before leaving the bathroom, prompting Pent to jog after him. "Yo, wait up!" he cried.

Nevada gritted his teeth, trying to shake him as he walked faster.

"'Scuse me!" laughed Pent as he moved past a gaggle of people and seated himself where Nevada was about to sit. "You may sit." said Pent as he smiled and held out his hand.

Nevada gulped as his eyes widened. Liam cleared his throat causing Pent to turn towards him in shock and causing Nevada to put his palm to his face.

"You must be Liam Tailey! I saw your website!" cried Pent in admiration, taking both of the detectives aback. Pent took out a pocket notebook out of his back pocket and handed it towards the man. "Could you please sign this?"

Liam blinked blankly twice before he shrugged and smiled. "What's your name kid?" he asked as he took out his favorite gold pen.

"Pent Garland sir!"

Liam signed a page on the notebook. To my fan, Pent Garland. Yours Truly, Liam Tailey

Pent looked at it in awe as Liam slid the pocket notebook back towards Pent. "Thank you sir. I'm a big fan. You just seem so gosh darn cool!"

Nevada was sitting next to Pent now as he raised his eyebrows. "Really? I didn't know you were such a fan."

Pent nodded with a smile but before Pent could speak Liam cut him off. "Nev, you never told me about Pent. Are you two friends?"

Apparently, Nevada losing at the cutting off game was interrupted by Pent. "Yep, we're great friends. Me, Miracle, MArv and Nev here!"

Liam smiled, sensing his partner's growing uncomfortably. "You'll have to introduce me sometime." he got up from the table causing Pent and Nevada to mimic him.

As Nevada was about to exit the door, Pent grabbed Nevada. "Please, you have to let me help!"

"What are you talking about!?"

"I heard Shelby talking to Linnea over the phone. I know that she was helping you with the mystery."

Nevada frowned. "So what? It's her aunt, she has a right to know if she was murdered or not. You are a random bystander and as such you have no sway in this case." he explained calmly.

"Oh yeah!? I bet you just let Linnea help because you want to stick your tongue in her!" Pent rebutted, hurt. "I bet that if she was ugly, that if she was fat, that if she had small boobs and a small butt, you wouldn't be so nice to her!"

Nevada flinched in pain, Pent's words like daggers.

"Oh wait I'm sorry, it's not just her. You let Miracle help too!"

Nevada's face twisted into a glower. "I enlisted in Miracle's help because he's a genius hacker and so happens to have gathered very important evidence! What can you do Pent!? Go ahead, spit it out because I'm all ears! How can you help me with this very serious and difficult case!?"

Pent stood his ground without wavering. "I may not have the programming genius of Miracle and I may not have the body to make everyone drop everything and give me what I want like Linnea but I do have one thing that neither of them have: street smart and information. I know people and can get information that the others can't get. I'm good at meeting new people. I know a lot of places and I can easily find real info." explained Pent calmly, emphasizing on the word "real".

Nevada sighed. "I guess I can give it a shot." he said, deciding to give the boy the chance he deserves, remembering the teasing of the girls.

Pent clapped him on the back. "Thanks man!" he said heartily. "And you won't be disappointed." he whispered slyly with a smile as he slipped a sheet of paper into Nevada's hand. The two went to Liam's car where Nevada discovered in silence that it was a phone number.

"So, I'll just let you and Pent hang out while I run my errands. We'll go to the house later." said Liam causing Nevada to groan, Pent to cheer and Liam to chuckle.

                                                       ...

The two were dropped off at the school grounds.

"C'mon, let's head to the old playground." suggested Pent.

Nevada shook his head. "I have to visit the doctor first."

Pent put his hands behind his head. He yawned and smiled. "That's cool Nev. I'll just chill out here."

Nevada nodded curtly before he jogged towards the main entrance of the school, eager to get out of the view of Nevada's most notorious criminal, The Sun.

                                                        ...

Nevada walked out of the building with Marilyn's phone, that was now his thanks to Dr. Miracle. Nevada winced at a girl slapping Pent then walking briskly away as Nevada exited the building.

"What was that?" asked Nevada, concerned.

Pent rubbed his stinging cheek in annoyance. "Some angry chick." he explained.

Nevada sighed. "Well time to test this out." he took the piece of paper out of his pocket and dialed the number. He put the phone to his ear and tapped his foot as the phone rang six times before a familiar voice greeted him. "Hello?" asked Linnea. Nevada's eyes widened as he ended the call, held down the power button and quickly shoved the phone down his pocket, growing red.

Pent clapped his hands and laughed. "What was that!?" he roared with laughter.

Nevada growled in anger. "Penteeeeer!" he shouted.

Pent playfully ran away towards the back of the school building. "Follow me!" he commanded. Nevada chased him until he was out of breath and in a grove of trees. It was very shaded with rays of light invading the dimness sparingly. He and Pent walked up the stairs of the playground equipment to get to a metal platform covered in plastic. Most of the equipment was covered in vines and a vine-covered shed was near.

"This is the abandoned playground. They stopped maintaining it when they realized that highschoolers don't need a playground anyway." explained Pent.

"I see..." replied Nevada absently.

Pent chuckled. "I'm surprised Linnea has taken such a liking to you."

Nevada looked at him with wide eyes. "She has!?"

Pent blew air from his mouth. "Yep. But you know what? She's out of your league. She probably'll forget you or cheat on you. Or worse....friend zone you."

Nevada blinked. "Friend zone?"

"Aye kurumba! You need to get out more man! Friend-zone: when a girl wants to be "just friends"....forever!" explained Pent, using air quotes when he said "just friends" and shouting forever.

"She's out of my league?" Nevada asked, slightly hurt.

"Yeah, she's way up there with all the cool kids. Not saying that you're not cool but you're just not her cool." Pent went on, emphasizing the word "her". Pent sighed. "Don't worry, I'm out of her league too."

Nevada turned away. "But...she kissed me..."

"She did what!?" shouted Pent. He raised his hand quickly. "Gimme' some!" he shouted and the two high-fived, Nevada with a soft smile and Pent with a proud look on his face.

Nevada sighed as he put his hands in his pocket. Oh no... He took out the sapphire ring which seemed to be calling to him. How did it get in my pocket!? I left it on my bed!

"Did you say something?" asked Pent, hearing someone call his name. As he turned towards Nevada, his gaze fell towards the ring. "Sweet ring! Are you going to propose?" Pent kneeled. "Oh Linnea, will you marry me!?" he cried. He quickly rose. "Oh yes Nevvie! We'll go on our honey moon and make the absolute cutest babies!" he answered, mocking Linnea's voice.

Nevada rolled his eyes. "Ha, ha. Very funny Pent. No, I saw it on a sidewalk and now the thing won't stop following me." he explained. He didn't make mention of it towards Liam, it simply couldn't be Mimi's ring that disappeared. Though, now he was beginning to fear that it was possessed.

Pent rubbed his chin. "Possessed ring eh? It reminds me of the Red Ring of Hell that I saw at the Churchill County Museum. In fact, it looks kind of like it too." Pent said, bending down to get a better look.

Nevada raised his eyebrows. "The Red Ring of Hell?" he asked curious. Pent grabbed the boys hand and began dragging him out of the grove towards the street. This part of town was always vacant which meant quiet and peaceful in Nevada's language. As Pent dragged Nevada towards a bus sign, he had to rub his eyes because for a split second Pent resembled Sierra from behind.

They stopped at a bus sign which was a green sign with a gloved hand giving a thumbs up with the words Bronson wrote in stylized letters above it.

"How long will we wait?"

"Oh, dude, I have the bus schedule memorized it should be here in about two minutes."

Nevada decided to take a sheet of paper containing the bus schedule out of a clear plastic bin attached to the same pole the sign was located and examined it to be safe. Like Pent stated, the bus arrived at the stop in two minutes.

The boys sighed as they entered the cool bus. Pent and Nevada gave six dollars to the driver then went to sit at the back of the bus near the fans. They were the only ones in the bus.

"So, um...do you really think me and Linnea will make cute babies?"

Pent simply chuckled, put his hands behind his head and dozed off.

                                                     ...

Pent woke up to the sound of his companion mumbling to himself.

"Jeez, who does Darwin Bronson think he is anyways? Why can't he be like his brother, Mayor Kafelei Bronson? Darwin can't just make us pay so much friggin' money for a bus ride just because he's the only one providing transportation in this state."

Pent smacked his lips as he awoke. "What's the problem?"

"I had to pay twelve more dollars about twelve minutes ago due to the length of our stay."

"It's the policy kid!" shouted the driver, eavesdropping on the boys' conversation.

Nevada sighed. "The only place with real public transportation is Las Vegas and that's only for the tourists. How about giving the people who actually live here public transportation?" Nevada ranted.

Pent yawned and stretched his arms. "Well maybe it's because not many people live in Nev-" Pent's eyes widened as he heard the song on the bus radio, a cheesy infectious eighties-tune. He began bobbing his head to the beat, feeling as if his soul was complete.

Nevada had smiled for he loved this song too and when they sang the two sang in unison. 

"...♫ Night to night. Gimme the other, gimmer the other...♫"

Throughout their ride, the two didn't see much, just lonely ruins telling the silent stories of men of the past whose life failed them, only leaving lonely buildings to show that they had ever lived.

                                                              ...

The two teenagers exited the bus near a wide brown building with windows at the front. Silver letters read "Churchill County Museum". At first glance the building did not look like a museum, maybe more like a convenience store or a library. There weren't many cars in the sun drenched parking lot. The boys were in the city of Fallon, it was no New York or Chicago but it was still pretty lively compared to what they had seen on the road. Pent and Nevada entered the museum.

The museum had an inviting air to it, begging the boys to examine everything. The two were sidetracked at the interesting artifacts of Churchill's past but they eventually found what they had came for. In a glass box was a ruby ring, identical to the sapphire ring that Nevada had taken out of his pocket. Pent read the description out loud.

"The legendary Ruby Ring or the Ring of Hell as called by the local Native Americans. It has been in the Nevada area for ages and has only brought pain. Anyone with the ring in their possession will be met with grief. Each time the wearer of the ring dies, it will disappear only to appear near a new victim. No matter how much a person tries to shake off it will follow the user until death. The original users of the ring, the Mohave tribe claim that the ring can only survive with the souls of tortured people fueling it. Only one man known simply as Noah has been able to escape the ruby ring's curse..."

Though it was weak Nevada felt a horrible, hellish energy travel down his spine causing him to shiver convulsively. "Y-you d-don't believe that c-crap do you Pent?" asked Nevada.

Pent was silent. "Kind of."

A women approached the two boys from behind and as a result they turned around. "Do you need anything?"

"I was wondering if we could do some research on this ring." said Nevada in a business-like tone.

The woman nodded with a smile. "Certainly. We have 40,000 pictures of Churchill County, misselaneous records of Fallon and Churchill County, deeds to properties in the county and we can research inquiries for you. We also have an extensive library and residents willing to help. Though for the ring your best bet is to talk to Old Man Noah." she explained.

"Where is this Old Man Noah?" asked Nevada.

"He lives in the house at the outskirts of the city. You'll know when you see it."

Pent turned and smiled at Nevada.

                                                       ...

The woman spoke the truth, Nevada definitely knew that the lone house in the desert on a raised mound overlooking the town was Noah's. The house was dark and foreboding, the paint nonexistent for it had chipped and blown away into the desert a long time ago. Pent stayed twenty feet away from the door. "You go ahead, I'll just catch up."

Nevada sighed before gulping and going up the stairs to the front door which creaked and moaned with each step. He knocked on the door with the metal knocker in the shape of a bull. Seconds later an elderly man with a horrible hunch opened the door.

"Excuse me sir, I hear that you survived the legendary Red Ring of Hell..." Nevada began.

Noah nodded. "Yes, I survived it. It was appropriately named, that blasted ring. Wait a minute...." Noah's eyes widened and he pointed a finger. "You..it's you, you good for nuthin' motherfuckin' worthless piece of piss soaked shit! If you don't get your bastard ass off my goddamn property-!"

"But sir-!" pleaded Nevada.

"I'll just go get the shotgun!" promised Noah before he slammed the door. Nevada ran down the steps and towards Pent.

"What hap-"

"Run!"

"Why?"

"Just-" Nevada was cut off as he heard a loud noise then saw a bullet fly right in between his and Pent's faces. "That was a warning shot motherfucker!" The two got Noah's point across and scrambled away.

                                                           ...

Nevada was growing annoyed at Pent who felt the need to stop at every building and examine it. They had already been looking at buildings for an hour and had a dozen people yell at them. 

"Pent, could we just go to bus and-"

"Chill man. This place is sweet!" 

To Nevada it just seemed to be another dusty old city but to Pent it was an uncharted land that begged to be explored. Unfortunately for him the residents did not feel the same way. The two roamed a fair amount of the city.

The two eventually reached a lavish complex with a fountain depicting a fairy pouring water out of a conch. In front of them was a large flight of stone stairs with pillars at the top, not unlike the Lincoln Memorial.Nevada's eyes widened in fear. Oh god no. Oh, please no...

But before Nevada could grab Pent and high-tail it out of the area, a pretty girl with wavy red and brown hair and heterochromia iridium, one eye being blue and the other brown, wearing a white dress shirt with a red tie, a black mini-skirt that threatened to reveal her undergarments, and black high heels shouted from the top of the stairs with a hand on her hip.

"Hello spawn of overly patriotic parents!" called the girl from the top of the stairs.

Nevada growled. "Hello, Vodka."

The girl laughed and walked down the stairs, her hips swaying. "Oh please, it's Vonda but you already know this." Once Vonda reached the bottom of the steps she pointed to Pent. "Who's this?"

Nevada folded his arms. "His name is Penter Samuel Garvin and he's assisting me." 

Pent pinched Nevada's ear causing him to yelp in pain. "Hey, hey! Ixnay on the ullnamefay!" he cried.

Vonda chuckled and put her hand to her mouth. "So the assistant gets an assistant? How cute, it's quite comical actually."

"Why are you making fun of me?! Your aunt just hired you to compete with Liam, you're pretty much a distaff counterpart to me!"

The girl grimaced. "You wish NJ!" she assumed her smug smile again and put both of her hands on her hips. "So, what stupid case are you working on this time detective?" asked Vonda.

Nevada folded his arms. "That is none of your-"

"We're investigating this woman named Marilyn's death and this creepy blue ring!" explained Pent happily. Nevada let out a groan once Vonda let out her shrill laughter.

"That's a case!? You're really grasping for straws now Mr. Detective!" laughed Vonda.

Nevada turned his hand into a fist as he put it into his pocket. "And what's that supposed to mean Vodka?!"

Vonda tried to contain her chuckle. "Do I really have to spell it out for you Nevvie? That wasn't a murder, it was just some alcoholic who decided she also wanted to be a druggie and overdosed. Are you really trying to tell me you think that something sinister was afoot? If so then you're a bigger idiot than I thought!"

Nevada growled. "The pieces don't add up! Of course you wouldn't know about that seeing how do all the work to gather the evidence before you defend a criminal by falsifying evidence!"

Vonda's face turned grim. "I won those cases because I am a genius. Those are fighting words, kid."

Nevada's eyes darkened. "You're a crook."

Vonda walked towards Nevada then grabbed him by the collar. "Mind saying that to my face...shorty!?" she asked with a scowl, taller than Nevada due to her heels.

Nevada was silent causing Vonda's scowl to transform into a twisted smile.

Pent waved his hands while shaking his head and walking towards them. "Hey, hey! Break it up."

Vonda turned away and let Nevada go. While turned away from Pent, she giggled and flipped her hair. "I'll have to tell auntie Pandora about this! She'll just love hearing that the great Super Detective Agency has hit a new all-time low in its pitiful existence!" she said mockingly.

Nevada smiled. "I'll gather so much evidence that there will be no way the jury will let whatever criminal you defend out into the public!"

Vonda scoffed. "Oh really? And what is this "I"? Where's your cute boyfriend, Liam?"

Nevada's smile froze into a bitter frown. "I'm sorry, what was that?!"

Vonda chuckled and folded her arms. "Oh nothing." There was a bit of silence before she spoke again. "It truly is pathetic. You and Liam run around like children picking up anything you see and crying that they're "clues". The only reason the police keep calling you is because they pity your sorry hinds."

"If you're going to talk crap turn around and face me Vodka!" said Nevada.

Vonda did so with a smile.

"The only reason you and Ms. Ugly get so much work is because criminals know that Pandora is the spawn of the devil himself! They know that if they ask you for help they'll get away with murder scotch free!"

Vonda frowned. "The only reason you're with Liam is because he's a pedophile!"

"The only reason you're with Pandora is because she needed someone like me-!" Nevada clasped his hands over his mouth.

Vonda laughed. "What was that!? Me and you are alike!?"

Nevada growled before a tall woman with short black hair appeared on the top of the steps. She was wearing a black shirt, black dress pants, black heels and black gloves with a black suitcase in her hands. "Children, children, please remain calm." she said in her dark yet soft and soothing voice. "Vonda, I need you back inside to review a case."

Vonda waved and jogged ran towards her mentor. Nevada never understood how she was so agile in those giant heels of hers.

Pandora smiled darkly. "My, my. Liam must be slipping to let his little plaything run amok causing trouble. You be a good puppet Nevada or auntie Pandora will have to punish you..." Pandora turned around and flipped her hair before disappearing in the darkness of the shade of the columns. "...severely." she finished from the shadows.

Vonda stopped in her tracks as she was about to be submerged in the darkness when Pent called out, "It was a pleasure to meet you Vonda!" he called out.

Vonda ran down the stairs, blushing to the point where he face was red as a fire truck. "The pleasure's mine!" she corrected with a sheepish smile as she clasped his hand in hers before running off where she came.

                                        ...

"Hello, Liam....Yes, it's me....It's a new phone I got from....Pent....We're in Fallon right now.....Yes near Mason Law Firm....That's great...Yes, Pizza Barn sounds good....Alright, Good-Bye." Nevada clicked the end button on his phone then slid it into his pocket. He turned towards Pent. "I was talking to Liam. Luckily, he just so happened to be in the area and he'll meet us at Pizza Barn."

Pent nodded halfheartedly. He was studying the business card Vonda had given him. It showed a picture of Vonda sitting on a black swivel chair in all black clothes while crossing her legs and smiling deviously. The business card gave her law-firm work hours, her full name (Vonda Mariana Sawyer) and her phone number. "Vonda just gave me her number..." Pent said, shocked. No girl, EVER gave me their phone number...

Nevada smiled. "Maybe she likes you."

"What?! No man, she totally digs you."

Nevada stopped walking and made a gagging sound. "Excuse me!? We hate each other!"

Pent gave a large smile. "That means you like each other! You're like an old married couple."

Nevada scowled. "I'd take Linnea any day over Vonda!"

Pent put his hands behind hind head. "But Vonda's in your league..."

Nevada sighed. "Don't be too sure of that. Sure, we may be both be child prodigies but she is more-so... as much as I hate to admit it. Her name is on billboards, on TV, everyone knows her and loves her."

"You two seem close though. I'd say you have an advantage over most boys."

Nevada scowled. "I don't want an advantage! Me and Vonda couldn't be any more distant. We're bitter rivals because I'm a protector of truth while she's a being of lies! I'm a person who actually knows her. She's vain, greedy, selfish and mean! I would never be with her!"

Pent looked back towards the firm longingly. Yeah, but I might.

                                                                           ...

Liam, Pent and Nevada sat in the car as it zoomed towards Haven, the two teenagers looking out the window to see the long desert. The large cacti and shrubs where the only greenery for what seemed to be an eternity. The group's stomachs were full of the pizza they had eaten at Pizza Barn back at Fallon. The car was cool and Nevada's soul was at ease, his heart rate at a steady seventy beats per minute.

Pent exited the car at the Super Detective Agency and Nevada shook his hand as he exited the car to see him off. "Are you sure you don't want to be dropped off at the school?" Nevada asked.

Pent smiled. "It's cool. I need the exercise anyway. By they way, you and me need a better handshake." he said, the clouds finally gathered enough for them to shield the inhabitants of Nevada from the sun for a significant amount of time, allowing them to feel the strange heat of an overcast, cooking them yet not blinding them.

Nevada entered the car after closing his door. He closed his eyes. He was actually quite sad that Pent had to leave but it was a necessity, for the trip to Schell Creek would be a long and secretive one and Nevada needed his sleep before he confronted Liam about the pictures. He felt the car move forward quickly then come to a sudden halt, forcing Nevada to open his eyes. What he saw caused his heart to begin beating out of control threatening to burst out of his body via him throwing it up out of his mouth in shock and fear. He began sweating a waterfall, his armpits drenched.

Standing in front of Liam's car was Linnea, hands on her hips with tight grey yoga pants and a white t-shirt with the word "Princess" written on it in pink cursive letters. She was wearing expensive looking leopard shades but even then, Nevada and Liam had not trouble at all sensing the girl's annoyance. She blew a large pink bubble from her mouth before it popped due to its size and went back into the girl's mouth to be chewed back into a ball. Nevada couldn't help but stare at her lips. He wasn't sure if he wanted to be the gum or not. On one hand, he would be inside Linnea's mouth but on the other hand, he would be chewed endlessly.

Liam rolled down his window. "Excuse me? Can you move? We're kind of in a hurry."

"Sure Liam Tailey. Just as soon as you unlock your car and let me in."

Liam sighed. "This isn't a school bus we have business to attend to."

"Cut the shit Tailey, it's my business too. It was my aunt now let me in the car."

On Liam's face crept shock with a pinch of anger. "Pardon me? I'm sorry about your aunt but this has nothing to do with her and even if it did-"

"Did Nevada kindly forget to point out I'm the one who helped him get to Schell Creek and I'm the one who got the precious clues? Did he also forget to point out that we were chased out?"

Liam blinked as he turned slowly towards Nevada. Meanwhile Linnea climbed onto the hood of the car and laid down, head resting on her hand. "Nevada, what is she talking about?"

Nevada was speechless. "Um...er..well..."

"Did he also forget to point out that we just so happened to find a poem about Marilyn and some photos of her in the house?" asked Linnea with a smile.

Nevada shrugged sheepishly once he felt the heat of his mentor staring at him with anger.

"I'll deal with you later Nevada." Liam honked his horn. "Get off!" he shouted.

Linnea yawned. "Comfy! I guess I'll stay here all day. Unless of course you unlock the doors."

Liam smiled and did so. Once Linnea heard the click she scrambled to the front door but before Liam could lock the door she opened the door and planted herself on Nevada's lap before slamming the door.

"Get out my car before I call-"

"The police?" Linnea finished. "Gee, fine but that will take some time. Schell Creek isn't exactly two miles Mr. Tailey." Linnea stated cutely.

Liam sighed in defeat while Nevada was completely paralyzed due to Linnea's position. She climbed in the backseat and buckled in as the car sped forward.

Liam noticed greasy orange finger prints on his seats."What did you get on my car!?"he asked in anger.

"Cheetos." Linnea answered, Nevada now seeing that around her mouth was an orange residue. Her fingers appeared as if they were growing orange cheetah fur.

Through the rear view mirror Linnea could see Liam's facial expression, like that of a rabid, angry lion.

Nevada tried to break the silence. "So what did you find out about the pictures?"

"Not while she's in here!" Liam barked. And so the ride continued in silence with a flustered Nevada, an angry Liam and a smug Linnea.                                                                              

...

"This isn't happening..." Linnea whispered in shock. Her and Nevada's heart sank when they first made it to the creek and saw that it was badly burned but decided that they must go to the heart to make it to the house. Now that they arrived, they faced the dismal truth that nothing was there. The only hints of a house being there was a single piece of charred wood that could have originated from a nearby tree.

The firefighters and police officers were talking to Liam. "There was a freak fire here last night, luckily we managed to stop it before any major damage was done."

"Major damage?" Linnea breathed as she shakily walked towards the firefighter. "Major damage!?" she screamed prompting Nevada to grab her shoulders to calm her.

"Sir, there was a house here yesterday." Nevada explained.

The firefighter shook his head. "House? Sorry, there ain't no houses here. There hasn't been a house erected on this soil and there was no evidence of a house being here."

Nevada pointed to the burned space where the house was. "But it was right there!" he pleaded.

Liam showed the officer the deed to the house and the officer shook his head. "There are no such records of a deed like this and as you can see there is no house here. It looks falsified."

Liam nodded and sighed. "Do you see? Now can we go home and stop playing your little games?"

"It's not a game!" shouted Linnea.

"Don't you raise your voice at me you disrespectful little brat." Liam commanded darkly, his eyes being the portals to the fifth circle of hell. "You heard the officer. It's a fake.

Linnea snatched the paper and pointed to the name. "What about this name?" she asked angrily. 

The officer studied the signature intently. "True, the signature does indeed look unique but still, the name Kennedy Farnsworth does not ring a bell. I'll check into it though, I can promise you that much."

Linnea nodded darkly before Liam took her arm along with Nevada's and dragged them to the car.

                                               ...

"That was embarrassing Nevada. I thought I taught you better than that." Liam said in a cool, menacing tone of voice.

"We saw a house. We were looking into the case..." Nevada began, on the verge of crying.

Liam chuckled. "Well I can fix that. You no longer have to worry about running around with fat kids or spoiled princesses having hallucinations. This case is closed. Marilyn drank too much booze, keeled over and died. The end. Case closed."

Linnea began screaming in anger. "She was murdered! How dare you! She loved you so much then you decide to give up one her! I won't rest until this case is solved!"

Liam punched a fist on the dashboard. "She gave up on herself!" he finally snapped, the lion loose, ready to bite into Linnea's neck, splattering her red and fresh blood all over his car. "You can idolize her twisted life style all of your life and end up on the street too for all I care but leave Nevada out of this! You can try to solve this case for the rest of your damn life and drink into you die like your aunt! I can't stress this enough-leave-Nevada-out-of-it! I'll drop you off at Marilyn's house where you can spend the rest of your life since you will not move on!"

Linnea began to cry as Nevada's tears decided to go back into his eyes. "Shut up." he said darkly. He felt the ring burning into his flesh.

Liam blinked. "Excu-"

"I said shut fuck the up Liam Tailey! You don't own me! I can choose to do whatever the hell I please and I choose to help her! I'm tired of living in your shadow and what better time to break free then when you've dried up!? I'll solve both cases since your too much of a pussy to solve it yourself!" he snapped. He was not a lion, he was not a puma, he was the black mamba, ready to sink his venomous fangs into his new-found enemy. Nevada felt the ring pulse, giving him a new-found power.

Liam was horrified, he felt guilty at himself for evoking such a response as he looked into Nevada's eyes which he swore were glowing red with courage. Liam shook his head. What was he thinking? This disrespect will not be ignored.

"The ramifications for your words shall be severe Nevada. I'm taking you off both the cases."

"Go ahead! Do it mister high and mighty even though that unlocking the secrets to one case will solve the other!"

Liam laughed. "Oh really!"

"Yes, it will and you're being a fucking dumbass! But I suppose that's only normal of you."

Liam stopped the car, having had enough of Nevada's foul and venomous tongue.

"Okay. Here's the deal: if you can find more evidence about the fifteen year old case and find leads about this case that somehow link the two together, I'll allow you to have your fun and pursue the two cases simultaneously. But- and this is a big but, if you cannot, or rather, when you don't find anything linking the two cases together I will ground you and we will not mention either of these cases again. Understood?" he explained grimly.

Nevada growled. "You're on you single, weak bastard."

"We accept your challenge..." said Linnea, taken aback by Nevada's sudden sharp personality change.

The three then drove in silence.

                                                        ...

Nevada got out of the car on Linnea's street at sunset, not wanting to spend anymore time than needed with Liam.

Linnea blushed. "Um, that...that took a lot of balls. To say the things you did....thank you." she stammered gratefully.

Nevada nodded confusedly. He remembered perfectly well what he said but he couldn't remember for the life of him how he said it. It was if the words spewed from his mouth were someone else's, not his own. Nevada turned to leave when Linnea grabbed his arm. "Where are you going?"

Nevada sighed. "Home." he answered.

"Don't you want to eat at my house?" she asked with a smile.

Nevada began to grow hot, his hands shook, his body began to sweat and he had trouble breathing. "No thanks." was all he could muster to say as he shook his head rapidly.

Linnea laughed. "Sure you do." she laughed as she brought him close, feeling each other's heat as they walked down the street to Nevada's utter horror.

Nevada entered the house to the enticing aroma of bacon. He seated himself nervously at the table, wanting to curl up into a ball with fear as Linnea seated herself and a boy taller than himself sat on the other side of him. He said something but Nevada couldn't hear, his fear completely deafening him .He nodded as he ate his hot dog wrapped in bacon slowly compared to everyone else who ate theirs quickly. He made sure to wipe his mouth with his handkerchief before loudly shouting "Thank you" and leaving. As he was jogging away Linnea caught up to him.

"What was the deal back there? You didn't speak to anyone and you looked like you saw a ghost."

Nevada was silent a bit. "Meet me in front of the school at 7:00 AM tomorrow morning." he said before running off to Linnea's confusion. 

As Nevada passed the school and walked towards Super Detective Agency he called Dr. Miracle who had given him his number after he gave Nevada the phone. "Hello Dr. Miracle. Meet me in front of the school at 7:00 AM tomorrow morning. Tell Pent to come too and Marvel if he's available. I have a big assignment for you guys and you'll need laptops if you have them." Nevada said as he walked. He closed the phone and stopped.

One thing was true, he was tired of living in Liam's shadow. He would be his own person. He rose his fist in the air as if trying to punch the red sunset sky. He would solve the case. No matter what the cost.

Chapter Six: The Quintessential QuintetEdit

Nevada woke up sadly, regretting what he said yesterday but knowing fully that there was no going back, he had to solve this case, and to do that he would need all the help he could get. Nevada got dressed and went downstairs, smelling wine as he saw Liam slumped on the counter while sitting on a stool. Nevada felt a faint sizzle in his pocket at the sight of Liam.

...

Nevada entered the school grounds with a yawn. He lacked his characteristic hat and was now wearing khaki pants with a brown belt, a white long sleeved shirt and a brown vest. In Nevada's hand was a medium-sized brown briefcase. Near him were Pent whose eyes were closed, Dr. Miracle who Nevada was shocked to see standing up and Marvel in blue pajamas carrying a large teddy-bear limply in his right hand. The sun was just beginning to rise over the horizon, which allowed the sky to take on a beautiful orange color. Since it was only a little past five-twelve AM,  the town was peacefully silent.

Dr. Miracle yawned loudly while covering his mouth. "What's this about? I'm not sure if you noticed but I'm not exactly what you'd call attractive so I need all the beauty sleep I can get."

The young boy in the blue pajamas laughed softly with his mouth open, his laughs eventually morphing into a yawn.

Nevada smiled with slightly tired eyes. Despite the previous night's fiasco with Liam and the earliness of his awakening, he slept like a baby. He  then looked away and tapped his foot on the ground. "Well, I need your help. There have been certain..." Nevada sighed as he closed his eyes. "...developments in this case that have led me to believe that I can no longer go it alone. Please, I'm asking for your assistance."

Miracle smiled widely, showing his green braces. "Really?! You want us to help with a murder case! This is going to be so cool! This is going to be like CSI!" shouted Miracle, his hands in fists.

Dr. Miracle quickly put a hand over his assistant's mouth, hushing him as the two exchanged annoyed looks with each other. "Pipe down before you wake up the whole town." scolded Dr. Miracle. He looked towards Nevada and nodded. "It would be my honor if I could assist you, Detective Nevada." said Dr. Miracle with a bow.

Nevada blushed and looked away. "Cut it out. Really, I'm not all that impressive." said Nevada bashfully.

Dr. Miracle stood up rubbing his eyes. "So, where are we going?"

"Elko." stated Nevada.

Dr. Miracle simply blinked at Nevada as he slumped forward. "I'm sorry, Elko? Elko!? Why didn't you tell me we'd be going to Elko? I would have packed beforehand!" complained an exasperated Miracle.

"Where's Elko doctor?" asked Marvel.

Dr. Miracle sighed. "Far, very far. Come on Marvel." he sighed as he began walking towards the exit of the school grounds, which was simply a huge and black open metal gate. Marvel followed sluggishly behind. 

"We'll be back. We have to pack some things first." called Miracle as they left from the young detective's field of vision. Nevada turned towards Pent who was still standing next to him with his eyes closed. He slowly and warily poked Pent in the forehead. Pent suddenly opened his eyes and said, "What?" causing Nevada to give a loud yelp and jump backwards.

Pent furrowed his eyebrows in confusion. "What? Did you think I was asleep?" inquired Pent.

Nevada frowned as he regained his bearings. "Obviously! Your eyes were closed!" snapped Nevada, angry that Pent was able to frighten him.

Pent chuckled. "What, a man can't rest his eyes for a bit?"

Nevada sighed. "Why aren't you going home to pack?"

Pent smiled. "Don't need to, I came prepared." This response prompted Nevada to look over Pent in order to double-check what he had already observed, that Pent lacked a container of any sort to put items in. To Nevada, Pent seemed far from prepared. He then noticed a bulge in the boy's pant leg. Nevada figured that for whatever reason, Pent was keeping his bag in his pants.

Pent closed his eyes again. "So, are you really letting me help with the case?" asked Pent, a hint of excitement creeping into his voice.

Nevada turned away from the stocky boy. "Yes." he said neutrally. "Don't make me regret my decision."

Pent put a closed hand on his forehead in salute. "You can count on me Nevada." said Pent.

Nevada smiled at this. For some reason, Pent's referral to him in such a casual manner made him happier then Miracle's very professional attitude towards him.

Oh yeah, I should probably call Linnea and tell her about the destination. I wouldn't want her mad at me...especially after the big fuss I made yesterday for her. Nevada pulled out his new phone and called Linnea, beads of sweat quickly forming on the boy's face despite the cool morning temperature. "Um, hello?" Nevada walked away from Pent towards the entrance to the school building. "I was just calling to tell you that we're going to Elko. Yeah, yeah I know it's far but it'll be fine if you pack accordingly." Nevada's face turned red and his eyes widened. "No, I'm not going to pull any "tricks" when we're in Elko. We won't be alone you know. What do you mean "so"!? Do you think I'd try anything funny if there were people watching? No I wouldn't do it even if there weren't any people watching!" Nevada then groaned. "Stop laughing. Look, be here in fifteen minutes. Bye." Nevada hung up the phone and put it in his pocket.

"Awwww! Was that the missus?" teased Pent who was right behind Nevada, causing him to jump in fright.

                                          ..

The sun was slightly over the horizon, causing the sky to turn blue when Dr. Miracle and Marvel returned, wearing matching black book bags. They looked slightly less tired then before yet Miracle was still slightly annoyed.

"Oh cheer up Miracle, at least you can fall asleep on the bus ride there." offered Pent with a smile, as he put his hands behind his head.

Dr. Miracle sighed. "That's doctor Miracle to you and you're right. Nevada, when is our ride coming?"

Nevada pulled up his right sleeve, revealing the golden watch he wore on his wrist. "In about five minutes but we're missing someone." Nevada said calmly but in his mind he was a worried wreck. Where was she? Nevada had no problem missing the bus in order to wait for Linnea but he didn't want to force his companions to wait simply due to his inexplicable attraction.

Fortunately, Nevada wouldn't have to deal with this problem for Linnea came jogging into the school grounds three minutes later. Once she reached Nevada she began panting loudly, as she bent forward with her hands on her knees, her hair obstructing her vision. "Sorry...I'm late...Nevada." she panted apologetically.

"No problem." replied Nevada, not being able to stop himself from gazing at Linnea.

Linnea stood up, smiling as she moved her hair out of her face. "Glad you're not angry at..." Linnea stopped her sentence as she noticed the boys all staring at her, mouths agape. She was wearing gray jeans with a black belt with diamonds in the front, purple Crocs, and a matching purple tight tube top with revealed most of her tan torso including her midriff. "...me? Hi."

"Hi." breathed Nevada, gazing at Linnea's tube top. "Um, what are you wearing?" 

Linnea frowned and folded her arms. "Clothes, got a problem?"

Nevada raised his hands, sheepishly laughed and shook his head vigorously. "No, no not at all!"

Doctor Miracle walked over to Linnea then knelt while taking her hand. "Enchante mademoiselle Harvey." he said slyly. "My name is Doctor Miracle and I will be at your beck and call." he introduced with a smile.

Linnea laughed nervously as she retreated her hand.

"Hiya Linnea-" Penter began.

"Don't talk to me dweeb." sighed Linnea as she rolled her eyes and put on her leopard shades.

Pent threw up his hands in the air with a loud laugh and an irritated look on his face. "Whatever you say, princess!"

Linnea walked towards Marvel, pinched his cheek and smiled. "What's your name cutie?" she asked in baby-talk.

Marvel smiled widely as his face grew red. "It's Jasper but please, call me Marvel."

"Those are both great names!" Linnea exclaimed with a large smile.

Pent sighed as he put his hands behind his head. "Marv isn't a baby you know princess." he said with closed eyes.

"No one asked you Penter Garvin!" shouted Linnea.

"That's Garland!" Pent barked back.

Nevada sighed as he exited the school-grounds and leaned on the bus pole. Great, she's not even here for a minute and they're hogging her. Nevada let out a sigh. What did you expect? She's Ms. Popular, everyone wants to be near her. No room for little old me.

Nevada was snapped out of his thoughts by the sound of an approaching bus. "Guys, come on! The bus is here!" he shouted, causing the others to rush out of the school-grounds and into the bus. Nevada took out his wallet and began counting the money as the doors opened, cooling the boy's face with the bus's arctic, air-conditioned wind.

..

Marvel sat diagonally from Nevada, next to Doctor Miracle. MArvel was playing a video game on his computer while Dr. Miracle was busily tapping at his keyboard, working on an application. Pent occupied the seat next to Nevada, closest to the window. Normally, Nevada would have sat on the side closest to the window so he could gaze outside but today he decided to sit on the outside seat so he could be right across from Linnea. Dr. Miracle, Marvel and Linnea had headphones but Pent and Nevada did not, which forced them to listen to the radio.

"Well at least it's an oldies station." said Pent as he gazed at his reflection in the mirror.

"Peh, you call this old? It's the nineties, when everything got bad." complained Nevada.

As the bus traveled farther and farther into Nevada, Nevada began to think about his home, Haven. Although very far from his hometown that he lived in before he met Liam, Haven had almost completely eclipsed the memory of his previous home due to the town's atmosphere alone. The keyword was town. Despite the fact that Haven's mayor was constantly expanding the town's border, not many people lived there so even though it might technically be a city, it was still largely referred to as a town. Despite Haven's unimpressive size, it contained everything a citizen would need which made it so one did not ever have to leave Haven. If the town didn't have something, the citizens would simply file a suggestion at Haven City Hall and it would be there within a year. Nevada had seen many new buildings completed in Haven since he moved into the Super Detective Agency three years ago. For all intents and purposes, Haven truly was a Haven, being one of the best and safest places in Nevada if not the country. As it was, everyone knew and looked out for each other, even the recluses like Nevada still acted cordial around his fellow Havenites. Nevada feared however, that if Haven were to continue to grow unchecked, then it would fall to the same problems as other cities.

...and now they want to build a clock tower. That's...fine...I guess. A clock tower will definitely give the town some flare and if people can sit on it then it will provide a beautiful view. The one bad thing about the clock tower is that it will definitely put this place on the map. On the other hand, I hear they want to make a train station too. That's slightly less fine. A train station will bring hundreds of people from all over the country. Of course, they'll like it here and they will want to move in. When that happens, the city will expand exponentially and won't have enough resources to provide for all the people which will cause everyone to flee the town by the bus full, thus creating yet another ghost town. Okay, let's say it's doesn't become a ghost town, it'll just become some large, dark cesspool. Murders will occur left and right and Haven will become an ironic shell of its former self. The correlation between violent crime and city size has been proven due to Marilyn's possible murder. Sure, her house isn't in Haven but it's too close for comfort. I'm afraid that the new train station will bring all sorts of horrible people into my city.

Nevada was snapped out of his trance as a slender finger poked his cheek, followed by a giggle once he turned towards Linnea.

"Yes?" asked Nevada somewhat nervously.

"What are you thinking about Nev? You looked like you were really out of it for a second." she chuckled. "I was kind of worried there for a sec."

Nevada chuckled and scratched his head. "Sorry about that. I was just thinking all the harm the new railroad and train station will do to Haven." explained Nevada.

Linnea blinked and folded her arms. "Well, you know who to talk to." she said as she looked away.

"Huh?" said Nevada with a confused expression as he turned his body back towards the front of the bus. Nevada looked at Pent.

"Say, how do you feel about the new train station?" he asked.

"What, you mean the one my pops is making? It's going to be sweet! Though not as sweet as the clock tower he's-"

"Wait, wait, wait. Time out." said Nevada as he made a horizontal 'T' with the two of his hands. "Hold the phone. Your father is making the clock tower and train station?" asked Nevada in shock.

"Sure is! He got the idea after we saw Big Ben during our trip to London a year ago. He's been pushing the idea at city hall ever since. He has some really cool designs. I could show them to you if you want."

Nevada felt a tad bit envious at Pent since London was the city he wanted to vacation in the most, next to Tokyo. Nevada turned away with a frown. "No thanks. Look, do you think you could tell your father to...call off construction?" 

Pent leaned towards Nevada. "Why Nevada?"

Nevada gripped his leg tightly. "Because, we don't need it. The only thing it will do is attract criminals from all over and destroy Haven!" he growled.

"Listen, you need to learn how to trust people. Not everyone is a criminal." explained Pent with concern in his voice.

Nevada was silent for a bit. "Well not everyone is nice either. It's my home. I'm not going to risk it being destroyed..."

...

The group gleefully left the bus with long stretches and growling stomachs that felt as if they would begin eating their host bodies inside out in hopes of getting some kind of food. They were dropped off on the sidewalk on a moderately busy, wide, five-lane street filled with various stores. The air was cool and the group could see the magnificent large Ruby Mountains in the near distance. The view of the mountains were serene and filled the group with inner peace.

Pent smiled as he stuffed a handful of Cheetos in his mouth and looked at his friends, drool practically coming out of their hungry mouths."What's the matter?" he asked with his mouth full.

Nevada glared at him annoyingly. "Gimme' that!" he grouched as he snatched the bag from him and helped himself to some Cheetos, with the other three quickly following suit.

Pent shrugged. "What? You all knew we'd be in for a long ride so you should have packed right."

Dr. Miracle stepped away from the bag after he got a handful of Cheetos. With his free hand he adjusted his glasses. "While it's true that I was aware of the duration of the ride since I did calculations while preparing, I was under the assumption that we'd stop for food on our way here. For crying out loud we din't even get to stop to use the restroom."

Marvel nodded as he jumped around in pain.

Linnea clutched her stomach, shooting Nevada an annoyed look. "Yeah, why didn't we stop Nevada? Are you trying to kill us?"

Nevada shrank away from the hostile group. "I didn't want to waste any time eating since it's past noon already. Look, I'll debrief you all while we get something to eat. I'm not very familiar with the area. Any suggestions?"

Pent smiled. "I've been here before, there's a Pizza Barn on..." Pent began to rub his chin as he looked towards the sky. "...I think...Idaho Street it was called." Pent looked at the road sign that he was near. "Actually, we're on Idaho street so it'll only take a second to get there." he finished with a smile.

"We went to Pizza Barn yesterday Pent." replied a slightly exasperated Nevada.

"Hey, you can never have too much pizza bro!" exclaimed Pent with a laugh.

Dr. Miracle and Marvel nodded in agreement.

"Besides, this way, while we're waiting for our food, we can discuss the case. If we do that, we won't have to divide our attention between eating and listening."

Linnea smiled. "Wow, even you can have some good ideas once every blue moon."

Nevada had just managed to rip his eyes away from Linnea's body before she began to speak again, gluing his gaze to the young woman once again. If Linnea's for it then I'm for it. "Fine then, we will go there if you please."

Linnea moved her face towards Nevada's, stretching her neck. "What's with the stuffy-sounding sentences? Someone trying to be like Liam?"

Pent began power-walking towards Pizza Barn, with Nevada following quickly after. "No..." lied Nevada. Although it was partially by accident, he was indeed trying to mimic Liam's speaking style.

Linnea smiled. "Good, because the way you speak is cuter. Kinda' stuffy but not too stuffy."

Nevada's face turned as red as a tomato.

Nevada liked this place, the temperature was decent, the mountains were friendly and there weren't too many people. He wondered if Haven could be like this after Pent's father finished constructing the train station.

Despite Nevada's positive thoughts towards the city, the minute Nevada stepped off the bus he could feel the sapphire ring burn in his pants pocket, making his leg feel as if it were on fire and anytime the group was silent, he could hear a soft and low wail...

...

The group's pizza had just arrived when Nevada had finished his retelling of the Miranda Cunningham case. The five children were all squeezed into a booth near the back of the establishment, the aroma of freshly baked pizza filling their nostrils with ecstasy. Dr. Miracle, Marvel and Linnea were on one side while Pent and Nevada were on the side across from them.

"So, any question-" Nevada was cut short when he realized the his companions had tuned him out, opting to dig into the pizza like ravenous lions. Nevada sighed and ate some pizza as well, making sure to pat his face with his handkerchief any time he got sauce on it. 

After everyone's stomachs had gone back to relative homeostasis, they were once again attentive.

"So, any questions?" Nevada repeated after he had patted his face with his handkerchief.

"What exactly do you need us for?" asked Marvel.

"To put it simply, I need all of you to help me investigate. As I stated, this case is almost fifteen years old and the statute of limitations will be reached in six days so this is our last chance at finding any leads. The police haven't been able to find anything in fifteen years so I need all the help I can get to even have a ghost of a chance finding anything that will help solve this case." Nevada explained darkly.

Marvel's shoulders slumped as he hung his head in defeat. "But if the cops haven't been able to find anything in so long, what makes you think we can?" he asked morosely.

Nevada smiled. "Hey, hey. Cheer up. I've already found some things that are definitely connected to this case while investigating another one." Nevada's smile disappeared as he gave a quick glance at Linnea who was across from him, next to Marvel.

"Well, let's see these "things" shall we?" said Dr. Miracle.

"Hold your horses." told Nevada. He lifted his briefcase from under the table and dropped in on the table with a loud 'thump' that shook everyone's plate. He entered the six-digit combination and opened the briefcase.

"Now, for some of the evidence you wanted." Nevada pulled out a pair of boxers with a picture of a large-headed cartoon girl with blue pigtails and a leek in her right hand on the bottom of the left leg. Nevada's boxers caused the rest of the group to erupt into thunderous laughter though Dr. Miracle was trying to stifle his.



Blushing, Nevada put his underwear back into his briefcase and took out the deed. "This deed for example was found in a shack in the middle of Schell Creek. This deed matches the reports of the deed to Kilra Familton's house." Nevada began to mumble."Unfortunately, said house burned down but it gives some legitimacy to the rest of the clues found there."

"Wait, hold up. You went inside Kilra Familton's house? The same Kilra Familton who let Elise Cunningham live with him and possibly killed her?" questioned a shocked Dr. Miracle.

"Yes, and I possibly heard him too." Nevada again gave a glance to Linnea who looked as if she just saw her cat get kicked in the face. Though he sounded kind of young...

Nevada then took out the camera. "This is Mimi's camera found in the same house. It no doubt took some very valuable pictures which are being developed as we speak." he explained.

With a sigh Nevada reached into his pocket then let out a quick scream causing his companions to jump and look at him in alarm. Out of Nevada's pocket came the sizzling hot sapphire ring which the detective promptly dropped onto the table. "And this...my friends is the sapphire ring, Mimi's sapphire ring." he went on.

"Hold on, that can't be hers! Mimi's went missing ages ago and there are a bunch of sapphire rings. From what you claimed her ring wasn't particularly special." argued Dr. Miracle.

Nevada sighed. "Well it was special to her and...look don't laugh at me but I know it's hers because...I think it's possessed. It's calling to me. Can't you hear it too?"

Everyone looked at each other uneasily, questioning the sanity of Nevada except for Pent. "Now that you mention it, yeah I can hear it." Pent revealed shakily.

Linnea hugged her chest and shivered. "I think I can feel it..." she whimpered in fear.

Nevada quickly put the ring, which was now cold back inside of his pocket. "So, the most effective way to investigate for the most clues possible is to split up into groups. We can decide that now." 

"Sweet!" "This is going to be so cool! The five of us solving mysteries! It's like CSI meets Scooby-Doo!" exclaimed Marvel gleefully.

"Listen Nevada, I don't mean to sound rude but what exactly does any of this have to do with my aunt? I hate to be that girl but the only reason I agreed to travel all this way with you was because I thought this was somehow related to my aunt and so far..." Linnea noticed Nevada's face darken. "Nevada? What's wrong?"

Nevada looked away. "The other reason I needed all of your help was because I need to somehow connect this case to the death of Marilyn Apricot."

Linnea slumped in her seat. Oh right. How could you forget? she thought, depressedly.

"Wait, what?" asked Marvel.

Nevada sighed. "We might as well order desserts..."

...

Nevada and Linnea had finally finished explaining all they could about the death of Marilyn Apricot by the time everyone had finished eating their dessert. Spirits were low and an aura of defeat hung in the air.

Dr. Miracle shook his head. "Looks like we have a mission on our hands even I can't complete."

"Let's just go home." Linnea sighed.

"No!" Pent shouted as he pounded his fist on the table, causing the other four to swivel their heads towards Pent as he stood up defiantly. "We're not going back until we find some clues and tie this case to Marilyn's! Nevada didn't drag us all the way here so we could eat and give up! No matter how hopeless it seems we must keep trying!"

MArvel looked at Nevada. "He has a point you know."

Nevada folded his arms and smiled. "Fine, after I pay the bill we'll split into groups and investigate."

"I call the cute one!" exclaimed Linnea.

Pent folded his arms with a smile. "I thought you didn't like me."

"Correction: I still don't like you. That's why I'm referring to Nevada here."

Nevada gulped. "Are you fine with Marvel, doctor?"

Dr. Miracle shook his head. "Naw, he needs to learn to work with people other then me for a bit. He'll work with Pent."

Nevada scratched his head. "I'm not sure if Pent is responsible enough to watch over someone younger than him." At this, Linnea couldn't help but give a chuckle.

Pent frowned. "What makes you say-"

"He isn't." Marvel interrupted with a smile. "That's why I'll be watching over him."

Nevada chuckled. "So I guess that leaves the doctor with me. Unfortunately, you'll have to be with Linnea alone for a bit since I have something I have to do alone first."

Dr. Miracle flashed Linnea a smile which sent a chill down her spine. "No problem, take your time." said Dr. Miracle.

...

Nevada gripped his notebook tightly in both hands as he walked into an empty driveway. The lawn was freshly cut, which irritated Nevada's nose to no end, causing it to feel as if someone stuck a flaming match in both of its nostrils. The house that he was approaching was a small, perfectly square house made out of red brick. Despite the fact that the house looked very pleasant, Nevada was still full of ire due to what he intended to do. Once he walked up the three steps that got him onto the porch, the teenager hesitantly rang the doorbell. 

Five seconds went by and Nevada put his hands in his pockets and tapped his foot on the ground. He stopped tapping, took his hands out of his pockets and looked attentive when he heard footsteps approaching the other side of the door. He heard the unlocking of the door before it was opened by a gray-haired woman who was a tad bit taller than him. Going by the records of the Cunningham case she was about fifty years old but she looked no older than forty-five. She wore a blue dress.

"Yes?" she questioned tentatively.

"Hello. I'm Nevada Johnson I'd like to ask you a few questions about your...husband, Thomas." Nevada explained shakily.

The woman simply blinked before she began closing the door. "Mind your business-"

"Wait!" shouted Nevada as he kicked his foot out to stop the door from closing. He then took out his Super Detective Agency badge from his pocket. "I'm a detective. I need to ask you questions because it might solve his murder."

The woman sighed. "I've heard that line about a million times. People questioning me, promising that I would find out who killed my husband with the same exact result each time, nuthin'. Frankly, I don't even care anymore, he's dead. Finding out who did it won't bring him back." she said, her voice full of sadness.

Nevada suddenly felt dirty for his invasion of the woman's life. "Well, if we find the murderer he can be brought to justice and you can have some well deserved closure." he offered with a pathetic excuse for a smile.

The woman opened the door wide as she went inside, Nevada following right after and closing the door behind himself. "It's been over fifteen years since my husband was taken away from me child, I can guarantee that you won't ask any questions that haven't already been asked and answered." she said.

Well, there's no doubt that may very well be true but I have to try. Besides, even if the questions have already been asked I may be able to connect them properly given the evidence that I possess that the others didn't.

The house was dark and dusty. The woman led him to the small living room with the curtains shut. The room was filled with antique china. She sat in a cushioned chair and motioned for Nevada to sit across from her.

Nevada sat down with growing nervousness. He wasn't exactly sure why he chose to interview Mrs. Benson, the widower of Mr. Benson, the first victim of the mysterious serial killer who was of high standing in the community. Nevada was beginning to fear he chose the wrong person when he realized that every person interviewed for the past fifteen years led to a dead end so one person was good as another and he might as well start at the beginning.

"So, your husband..." Nevada began as he opened his notebook, unsure exactly where to start. "What kind of person was he?"

"Friendly, bright. His students loved him and he was always very studious. He owned a lot of books. In fact, I still have them." Mrs. Benson responded which prompted Nevada to look around and see two well-kept and tall wooden bookshelves on the opposite sides of the closed window.

"Did he do anything to prompt anyone to kill him?" asked Nevada as he jotted down an abbreviated form of Mrs. Benson's response.

Mrs. Benson sighed and smiled. "That question again. I've said it once, I've said it a million times now. As far as I know, no, he didn't. Unless it was work related, he always kept to himself, reading near me. He never gambled, never swore at anybody, he just kept to himself."

"Why did he read?" asked Nevada.

The woman tilted her head. "Why? Well, he liked it." she answered, a bit dumbfounded.

"A tad bit more specific please."

Mrs. Benson huffed. "Well, he did mention that he always wanted to get smarter. He said that he could never know every thing so he said he read to stay sharp."

The young detective nodded. Interesting "He worked at the "local" high school. What high school was this exactly and how long did he work there?" questioned Nevada.

Mrs. Benson rubbed her chin. "Why, Elko High School of course. He worked there for...five years when he was killed."

"Was he a popular teacher?"

Mrs. Benson smiled proudly while nodding. "Oh yes. He was very esteemed by his co-workers and students alike. In fact, he was featured in the local newspaper. It talked about how his students test grades compared to others in similar classes."

Very interesting Nevada continued to jot down her response. "Do you know where I can find a copy of this newspaper?"

"Heavens, it's over fifteen years old kid. Luckily for you I just so happen to have my copy laminated on the wall here." revealed Mrs. Benson as he raised her hand and knocked backwards on the wall behind her, bringing Nevada's attention to the laminated newspaper which was slightly above her hand.

Nevada walked to the article and quickly scanned it. Published a mere four days before Thomas Benson's murder...that can't be a coincidence.

Nevada sat back in the chair and jotted down the two dates. "Um, your husband... was he...involved...with any shady people?" questioned Nevada uncertainly.

"I said no." answered a slightly irritated Mrs. Benson.

Nevada nodded. He was nervous due to this being his first real interview. Sure, he interviewed people before but this was his first time doing it without Liam being in the area. He felt stronger while Liam was around and he was just realizing that he felt absolutely lost without him and he hated it.

Nevada closed his eyes, searching for a suitable question to ask. "Your husband, Mr. Benson as he would have been called by his students..."

"Actually, he preferred them to call him Thomas, he claimed it made them equals." corrected Mrs. Benson matter-of-factly.

"Sorry, sorry." mumbled Nevada in embarrassment. "Well, Mr. Benson. Do you know if Miranda Cunningham was one of his students?" he asked.

"She was, actually. He talked about her a lot, said she was one of his brightest students. I'm sure she began investigating the murders because her favorite teacher had been murdered."

"Did he act any differently the last time you saw him?"

"Not at all. He acted the same way he always acted the morning before. He did say he would be staying late though."

Nevada stared at her. "He said he would be staying late?" he asked, searchingly.

Mrs. Benson shot him a  warning gaze. "Yeah, he did. He said he had a meeting."

"Don't you find it strange that he was murdered in his classroom?" asked Nevada, tapping his pencil on his teeth,

Mrs. Benson nodded. "We all did. Unfortunately the cameras were very primitive and prone to stop working. Nothing that occurred in the school that day was recorded." 

"He died at 6:34 PM according to forensics. It could have been earlier or later. The only thing they know is that the students found his brainless remains the next morning. His eyes were closed, there was   no wound besides his skull. Pardon me missus if I'm wrong but it's safe to believe that all school activities were over by the time he died and that the janitor had already left. If he was to attend a meeting, I find it likely that he died significantly earlier which would allow him to miss the meeting."

Mrs. Benson closed her eyes. "You think a lot boy. Well, he did call me at around...I want to say 4:30. He was calling to tell me that he would be home a bit late."

Nevada stopped writing and looked up. "He said he would be home late?" asked Nevada in shock.

"Mhm." she nodded. "He didn't say what he was late for though so I just assumed he was talking about the meeting."

Could he have known he was going to die? Or at least known hat he was meeting his killer, but unaware of his intentions? Did he know this guy? "What time did he usually get home?"

"Around 5:30." said Mrs. Benson.

So, I'm assuming the meeting didn't even start yet and he knew he would be home later than five thirty. He possibly could have died significantly before six-thirty. This could be big or this could be little. I have to consult the records.'Nevada opened his briefcase and took out some papers, looking them over. He glanced at his notebook and the records. "I believe I'm just about finished." he revealed, his voice muffled by the papers.

...

Linnea and Dr. Miracle sat on the far ends of a park bench. The park that the bench was located in was beautifully green and full of children playing. There was a large tree with pink leaves nearby, filling the air with a sweet aroma.

Linnea's arms were folded as she stared ahead, lost in thought. She was thinking intently about Cecil's possible suicide note. Unfortunately, it was still in Nevada's bag when he left for...wherever he was going and Linnea hadn't really paid the note much thought yet but the longer she waited, the more she would think about the simple message that barely filled half a page of a compact notebook. 

They say a picture can say a thousand words, so one thousand words would undeniably paint one picture right? Not necessarily. If the words are really simple or if they are just repeating the same thing then it's safe to say a thousand words could paint half of a crappy picture. That said, a few carefully chosen, intricate words could paint a gigantic Picasso piece. That's what I think is happening with that note. Everyone assumes that since there aren't a lot of words that means that it isn't significant but I know otherwise.

Linnea believed that if she could get her hands on that note, then she would be able to solve a large portion of the case. Did she know that the police worked fifteen years deciphering the note with no luck? Yes. Did she think that she would be able to see the note once and figure it out instantly despite her inexperience? Absolutely. It wasn't that Linnea was being (that) vain, it was that she believed everyone was looking at Cecil in the wrong manner. Even through Nevada's retelling of the Miranda Cunningham case, Linnea could tell that no one thought very highly of the boy due to his father and due to how he eloped with Miranda. Linnea felt that Cecil was nothing more than a misunderstood boy who more than anything, wanted friends.

...He got those friends and when they were in a bind he decided to help them out by taking them out of their crappy household. He was devastated when those friends were taken from him for good and when he wasn't able to prove to the world that he wasn't the same man as his father. I need to see the entire note to make sure.

Linnea wondered how Miranda and Cecil felt running away from home together. She figured that it was possible that they were attracted to each other and she wondered if they ever did anything. As a pink flower flew into her hair, Linnea wondered how it would feel to run away with Nevada to a motel. She figured that Nevada would be too nervous to try anything. She didn't know why, but each day she was beginning to grow attracted to Nevada more and more. Unlike Nevada, she had experience with members of the opposite sex but for whatever reason, Nevada was different. Maybe she found Nevada cute because of how nervous she got. Maybe she felt obliged to repay him for helping her with Marilyn's mystery. 

Linnea frowned. Or maybe I'm just trying to fill in the void left when Aunt Mari was taken away. I was never particularly serious about boys but maybe because I didn't need to be. Mari took care of me, she was all the support I needed. Maybe I wouldn't have even cared about Nevada if it weren't for Aunt Mari leaving.

Linnea sighed and scooted over to Dr. Miracle who pushed up his glasses. "Any luck with your research?" she asked with a soft smile.

Dr. Miracle turned and saw Linnea's smiling face. He turned back to his screen and coughed. Man is she cute. I wish I was Marvel right now, lucky bastard. Even though she's right next to me she doesn't even notice me. I mean sure, she knows I'm here but she doesn't really care. She doesn't even notice all the people staring at her in that boob-tube she's wearing because she's so above it all. She's on a league of her own and she knows it, she flaunts it.

"Miracle." snapped Linnea. Dr. Miracle was lost in thought, only pretending to read words on his screen.

"Oh, sorry. Yes, Linnea?" responded Dr. Miracle.

"What have you found on those people you were looking up?"

The doctor sighed as he took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. "Not much I'm 'fraid to say. I thought this would be a simple researchin' gig but I had to access about a dozen blocked or deleted URLs just to find anything significant. One of the places I had to break into was the police's records and I'm pretty sure I may have stumbled on Liam's digital journal." Dr. Miracl said with a chuckle.

Linnea looked up at the sky as passerbys gave her once overs. "Well, what did you manage to dig up?"

The doctor put back on his glasses as he opened his minimized Microsoft Word document. "First and foremost, we have Kilra Borneas Familton. He's about sixty now and was a pharmacist. He wasn't a particularly sociable fella'. They say he was cooped up in his house all day, well at least the house he had in Beverly Hills before he decided to move here. He went to college and got his degree in a year. Although I'm not sure they were childhood friends, he lived near Elise Cunningham when they were children up to the point when Kilra moved away for college when he turned seventeen. There aren't that many records about him but apparently he had a son named Walter Green, the mother being a woman named Janet Green who died not long after her birth. Walter went to a prestigious school in Florida but that's when the records stop for him. His son was born nine years before the Cunningham Case and was enrolled in the school during kindergarten, four years before the case. He closed his bank account a month after Elise fled with him."

Linnea went over he numbers in her head, trying to think of an explanation. "And what about the other one?"

"The other one would be Alexander Hank Louis. Again, kept to himself though interestingly he was evicted from his house a few months before the Cunningham case. That might prove to be a motive, revenge hungry or whatever. The dude's parents were a pair of scientists and they were into psychiatry. He wrote a research paper on the various local Native American tribes. As Nevada told us, his notes detailed the human brain. Prior to the case, he got in trouble with the law for assaulting a prostitute. The last public record of him was a plane ticket to Stockholm, Sweden. The rest I have are just miscellaneous facts." said Dr. Miracle.

Linnea continued to look at the sky, kicking her legs out like pendulums. So, they both disappeared off the face of the Earth, just like Nevada said. I wonder if this new info will help him at all.

Dr. Miracle looked at Linnea curiously as he scanned her body. What is she thinking now? Is she off in la la land? A techno tune buzzed from Dr. Miraclee's phone, prompting him to fish for it in his large pockets filled with technological doodads. After he retrieved his phone, he promptly answered it. "Yello. Doctor Miracle speaking."

"Um, hi Miracle." answered a squeaky voice prompting Linnea to squeal with glee and Dr. Miracle to roll his eyes in irritation.

"What's up Marv?" 

"What's the password to the firewall retardant program again?" asked Marvel sheepishly.

Dr. Miracle groaned. "Again Marv?! How many times do I have to remind you?" 

"Aw, come on! You know I can usually crack these firewalls without the program." Marvel whined pleadingly.

"Fine," Dr. Miracle sighed. "But promise me you'll actually make an effort to memorize the password this time Marv. Don't get cocky this time. I know you can do it if you just suck up your goddamn pride and concentrate." Dr. Miracle bent towards the screen of his laptop and shielded his mouth with his exposed hand. "Lower-case, then upper case alternating for the first chain of words then after the first set of numbers it's uppercase than after the second chain it's lowercase. The password is fruitsnvegetablesdrdreeminemapplebanna784529n-w-aredhotchilipeppersgrapesbeatles82014jay-zonionraddishorangetomatotupacrapmetalpop758." he whsipered quickly before hanging up.

Dr. Miracle had barely any time to catch his breath when he saw Nevada in the distance. Both him and Linnea leapt out of their seats when they saw Nevada though Dr. Miracle pushed his laptop to the side first.

Before they could greet him, Nevada began speaking. "You two, what do you know of any ghost stories around here?" asked Nevada uneasily.

Dr. Miracle's face darkened. "You mean about the one in the high school? I've read a fair amount about it when researching." revealed Dr. Miracle. "Why? How did you find out about it?"

"Well, during my questioning, Mrs. Benson mentioned how the ghost stories sprouted soon after Miranda's disappearance. Naturally, I wondered how this story was rooted in reality on my way here so I asked some teenagers about it when they happened to pass me. Needless to say, they laughed at me but the slight dread in their voices was evident." explained Nevada.

Linnea laughed loudly. "Ghosts? C'mon guys, you've got to be kidding me."

Nevada smiled. "I personally don't believe in them but I'm curious to how this might connect to the case. It may just solve Miranda's disappearance." he turned to Dr. Miracle. "Say, what made you search about the stories anyway?"

"Well, Linnea was asking people about the case and they only seemed to know about the ghost story,"

Nevada shot Linnea a fierce look. "Why are you getting random people involved with this case?" he questioned darkly.

Linnea shrugged sheepishly. "What? I thought I might get valuable information and I did: these stories have eclipsed the original case."

Nevada sighed, wondering just how Linnea and Marilyn's "detective games" worked. He shook his head and began walking in the direction of the high school. "Never mind, let's just see what we can find out about this little story." Marvel was right, this is Scooby-Doo.

...

"♪Crazy, but that's how it gooes. Millions of people living as fooes♪ Maybe, it's not too laate. To learn how to love and forget how to hate♪ Mental wound not healing. Life's a bitter shame. I'm goin' off the rails on a crazy train! ♪" sang Pent happily, pretending to be holding a microphone.

MArvel angrily pounded on the keyboard. "Ugh, could you shut up!?" he hissed.

"Aw don't be such a wet blanket. It'll kill you." laughed Pent with a bow.

"Well, someone is going to be killed soon."Marvel grumbled.

The two were on a small set of steps in a skate park, Marvel sitting down, rat-a-tat-tapping away on the keyboard of his laptop while Pent was standing not to far away from him, hands now behind his head. Clouds were now gathering over the two. They decided to sit in a skate park, but to sit away from the skaters because they both adored skating of all sorts and wanted to watch others that enjoyed the sport but not disturb them.

"Why did he even bring you?" wondered Marvel aloud.

Pent frowned. "Because I'm his friend and he knows I want to help."

Marvel groaned. "Just because you want to doesn't mean you can."

Pent folded his arms. "Oh yeah? Well last time I checked you were having a little hissy-fit and banging your fists against the keyboard because you couldn't remember a password."

"Hey, I got it now! Leave me alone!" snapped Marvel.

Pent sighed. "What are you working on anyway?"

Marvel took out a Kit-Kat from his book bag which was laying next to him, opened it and bit into the entire bar without breaking it individually first. "There's this firewall to a website. I can already tell the thing's old...fifteen years ago was the time it was last accessed."

Pent's face lit up. "It has to be-"

"Connected to that mystery Nevada was talking about, I know. The problem is that it's locked to all heck. Whoever made the thing sure as heck didn't want anyone accessing it. Makes me wonder why even bother keeping it instead of deleting it."

"Well it was fifteen years ago, maybe they didn't know how to shut down websites." suggested Pent.

"Maybe." Marvel considered. "Or maybe they wanted it up just in case they decided they would need it again later. Whatever the case, it's locked tight and I may have to break through uncleanly but that may corrupt a lot of the site's data, ruining it. Whatever the case, I have to think fast, maybe someone already knows I'm trying to break in. Interesting thing is, this i.p.'s local. It just has to be connected to the case." Marvel explained with determination.

Pent smiled. He didn't know what, but something about Nevada made everyone put everything they had into their work so as to not let him down. He was glad Nevada was his friend.

...            

The group had not been at the school for long and already were beginning to become familiarized with the story of "The girl behind". They were on the street near the school, choosing their prey systematically.

"Even the freshmen and alumni know about her." explained a blond girl that Nevada regarded as cute. She was the third person Nevada had talked to about the "Girl Behind".

Linnea saw a muscular boy with a group of his friends, laughing and having a jolly good time. He seems to be in the know. I'll ask him about this little ghost story. 

Linnea walked over to him with swagger and smiled as she looked up at him. "Um, excuse me but would you mind telling me about the local high school ghost story? It just sounds sooo interesting!" she said cutely. She then looked away with a sad look on her face. "But I understand if you can't. You seem like a really busy guy."

The boy blinked in shock as his heart melted instantly like a chocolatebar tossed into an active volcano. "Oh no! I'm not busy, I'd love to tell you about our ghost!" he replied charmingly. He made a motion for his companions to leave which they did without hesitation.

Linnea smiled widely. "Thanks." She was now wearing an open jacket due to the accumulating clouds.

"Well, they say she began appearing fifteen years ago. The first to see her was a girl named Andrea, who's now one of our English teachers. Whenever you're in the hallways alone, you can feel a cold chill run up your spine and your head feels all dizzy. You hear a low scream, almost like a whisper. You tell yourself not to turn around but like an idiot you turn around anyway and see a girl standing behind you. She's dressed in an all white dress and her head's down. At first she's really far but if you turn back then keep turning around she'll get closer and closer. Any time someone screams or someone else goes in the hall, the girl disappears. If it's at night, the girl will be covered in blood and when you see her, she'll lift her head up, her eyes will be red and she'll whisper, "kill me"."

Linnea nodded, looking genuinely horrified. "Oh my..." she simply stated.

The boy nodded satisfied. "So, what's your num-" but Linnea had already begun walking away, no longer interested in exchanging phone numbers with people. She had one boy on her mind now.

Linnea, Nevada and Dr. Miracle met in front of the school.

"So, we're all good on the ghost story?" asked Dr. Miracle.

Linnea and Nevada both nodded solemnly, having heard enough of the story. 

"Though ghost stories are preposterous, I'd say it's pretty safe to say that the disappearance of Miranda gave birth to this story. To the people of this town, she's now a ghost who cannot leave this plane of existence."

Linnea folded her arms. "To me though, it seems that these rumors started way too close to when she went missing. I mean, she wasn't even officially declared missing when these rumors started."

Dr. Miracle nodded in thought. "So, what does this mean?"

Nevada folded his arms. "It means that we need even more information. The problem is we don't know where to start." The clouds were gathering over the town, gray and menacing, oppressing the trio's spirit with the foreboding of rain.

"Well, the guy I just spoke to said that one of the teachers was the person who first saw the ghost."

Nevada went on his phone and began to search for the school's website. "Name?" he asked with urgency.

"Andrea." answered Linnea.

Nevada sighed. A first name would be helpful but whatever. Soon Nevada had managed to find the teacher whose room was on the second floor. "Alright, this will just be a moment. Stay here." commanded Nevada calmly. He was about to walk inside before a hand grabbed his arm, turning around he saw it was Linnea's.

"No, let us come too." she pleaded.

Nevada shook his head. "Sorry, Linnea but I'm a detective. That's the only way I can convince people to answer my questions." he answered.

"I thought we were a team. Why did you drag us all the way out here if you were going to do everything by yourself?!" she argued.

"Because..." Nevada snapped angrily before sighing, unable to find a good excuse. "Fine, come on." he mumbled, causing Dr. Miracle and Linnea to follow quickly behind. 

They eventually made it to the classroom where Mrs. Little taught. Nevada knocked three times on the door. "I'm speaking with a parent, I'll be out in a minute." she called.

Nevada and Doctor Miracle leaned on the lockers, waiting for the meeting to be over while Linnea began texting on her phone.

Every so often, Nevada would her a quiet screaming but he wouldn't look in the direction it originated. It's just a story, she doesn't exist so there's no point in looking. Though Nevada thought this, the ring glowed and burned in his pocket throughout.

For what seemed to be hours, the three waited near the door until finally the door opened and an angry-faced parent left the room. Before Mrs. Little could leave the classroom and admit them inside, the trio entered the classroom in a single file line. The three of them sat in seats next to each other in the front row of seats.

"Um hello?" asked the teacher, confused out of her mind.

Nevada quickly lifted up his badge. "My name is Nevada Johnson. I'm simply here to ask you a few questions." Nevada smiled on the inside. With Linnea and Dr. Miracle he felt a lot more confident than he did while alone.

"We're with the Super Detective Agency." declared Dr. Miracle in a strong tone. He hard a hard time suppressing his smile. His body felt tingly with the power his statement held. He loved the power he achieved by breaking through systems, that was true, but sometimes he had to admit that he felt kind of like a rat, having the power to seriously harm with its jaws but always running due to the fear directed towards it and its small size.

"Am I in trouble?" asked the teacher, beginning to sweat.

Nevada smiled and shook his head. "No, you're not in trouble. We just need to ask a few questions." He took out his notepad. "Please, tell us about the day you first encountered The Girl Behind."

Mrs. Little rose. "Sorry, I have to go." She began moving towards the door when Dr. Miracle stood up, stopping her dead in his tracks.

Dr. Miracle couldn't help but smile. "Sorry Ms. but we need you to answer these questions."

"No," she pleaded. "It's all my fault that everyone in Elko is afraid of ghosts! I don't want to relive the horror, my own foolish superstitions that plagued this city!" she shouted, her lips growing tight.

"Please," Linnea pleaded. "What you saw could help us solve the mystery of a girl who disappeared long ago, Miranda Cunningham. Even though you undoubtedly were the first person to see the ghost we have reason to believe that it may be connected to Miranda's disappearance. You may have unknowingly encountered her."

Mrs. Little sighed and sat back in her seat in defeat. She was tan, had dark short hair and dark brown eyes. She was short and didn't look much older than Nevada. It seemed like she could have been in high school the previous day. "Go ahead, shoot."

Nevada shook his head as he took out his notebook. He looked into Mrs. Little's eyes. "No, just tell us what happened that day."

The teacher closed her eyes. "Very well. It was fifteen years ago as you know. I was fifteen years old, a freshman. I didn't even really now Miranda or Cecil. I got wrapped up in some idiotic dare. I was to stay at the school for twenty-four hours. I decided to set up camp in the girls bathroom on the second-floor, coincidentally near this very current room where I would begin teaching students years later. At about 10:00 I chickened out because I began hearing a high-pitched scream coming from the floor below. At first I was opposed to fleeing since I would encounter the owner of the wail once I went downstairs. Eventually, the screams died down and with sleeping bag in hand, I decided to make a run for it. It was stormy that night so I had to grope the walls to make it downstairs, the occasional flashes of lightning assisting me but for the most part I was running in the dark. When I made it downstairs, the hall reeked of blood and as I was running, I slipped on something, causing me to fall and bump my head. Once I looked behind me, lightning flashed and I saw a teenage girl, drenched in blood and draped in a nightgown. She was crawling towards me. Arm outstretched, she whispered, "...please help me..."." Mrs. Little turned away ashamed as she started to choke up. "I didn't even stop to help her. I just ran out the school, not even caring about her suffering.. I told my friends and the story spread like wildfire. The next day, there was no trace of the girl but other people began seeing a similar girl. Even today I...still hear her. Screaming behind me."

Nevada was writing down notes furiously. "You didn't tell anyone about this? You didn't tell any adults?" he asked.

"I did but they all assumed I was hallucinating or that I was seeing things since I bumped by head."

Nevada nodded. "Thank you. Although this doesn't provide any concrete answers, this does open up the possibility that the girl you saw was in fact Miranda. As for the ghosts, they're purely psychological." Nevada stood up and walked towards the door, his ring glowing purple brightly in his pocket, much to the teacher's confusion.

"Wait!" called Mrs. Little causing the three to stop before Nevada could exit the room. "If you find anything please tell me. You can find my email on the school's website though I'd prefer if you could call. Just email me and ask me for my cellphone number."

"We'll be sure to notify you if anything significant comes up." said Nevada. The three walked through the door. "Thank you for your time." said Nevada before closing the door.

Linnea smiled as they walked through the halls. "You said "we" cutie."

"Oh, did I?" asked Nevada sheepishly.

Once the three made it outside Dr. Miracle turned to Nevada. "Not to put a hole in your argument, but how can the ghost be psychological if most of the people that have seen it never saw the girl that Andrea Little saw?"

Nevada was silent. "I don't know." he admitted eventually.

A techno beat blared from Dr. Miracle's pocket. Dr. Miracle took out the phone and answered it. "Yello?"

"Come quick Doc! We've just found something huge!"

...

The group was outside an abandoned building that looked as if it would cave in any moment as Marvel gleefully told them what he had found.

"So I made it into the website without corrupting anything major! Unfortunately there wasn't much to see except a boring essay about human intelligence." Marvel recalled.

"I'm sorry, there was what?" Nevada asked, recording in his notepad. He was afraid that by the end of the day, he wouldn't have any room left to write.

"It was an essay about how smart people can get. It said that the smartest people would lead mankind to victory but that the dumb people were cancelling out their work. It talked about various drugs that supposedly increase intelligence and the biggest works in the field of neurology."

Intelligence, it's a common theme here.

"And there was also another essay about various Native-American tribes and their spirituality."

Dr. Miracle's eyes widened at the mention of the Native-Americans. "Marv, could you show me the page later?" he asked, surprised.

Marvel smiled widely. "No problem Miracle! Anyways, I also found a map of a huge underground complex! It has a bunch of big rooms and the halls are as big as streets. Pent here helped me find the entrance to the facility." 

"Then why didn't you go in already?" asked Dr. Miracle.

"We wanted to show you, duh!" exclaimed Marvel. "Besides, Pent needed to stop at a few stores first." The group looked at Pent who was fumbling around in his backpack and reading a paper, mouthing the words to himself.

"Penter? Are you okay?" asked Linnea.

Pent waved a hand absently."I'm fine, I'm fine." he zipped up his backpack, smiled and was back to his usual, cheerful self. "C'mon! Let's get a move on!"

Him and Marvel rushed into the burned building while the others entered much more cautiously. The fire long ago burned everything, making it so everything looked the same. There were various holes in the walls which allowed light to seep in, giving the building an ominous yet natural appearance. Nevada figured due to the size that it was a house. The group searched around until Pent shouted from the back of the building. Climbing over burned furniture, the group squeezed into a room that looked like the ghastly remains of a bathroom, featuring the distinctive toilet and tub. Pent was standing in the tub. 

"Okay, everyone, stand back." he warned as he put on thick, green goggles.

Nevada shot his companion a frightened look. "Pent what are you-"

"This is what I meant by street-smart Nev!" Pent said with a wide, slightly demented smile as he added chemicals in the a sack full of various household items in the bathtub. "You can't find this stuff online and the cops sure as heck won't teach it to you!" he hopped out of the tub.

Nevada grew pale and began to sweat with fear. "Pent, what the heck are you-!" 

Pent tackled Nevada out of the bathroom and the others quickly scrambled over the two boys as a loud explosion shook the house, causing dust to fall onto the children's hair. Pent rose and dusted himself off. Although his ears were ringing, Pent was pleased that he could finally help out.

Nevada grabbed Pent by the shoulders and shook him. "Are you crazy!? You could have killed us!"

With a satisfied smile, Pent poked Nevada in the forehead. "Ah, but I didn't, now did I?" Pent broke away from the furious state-boy's grip and looked at the hole his homemade explosive made. "Come on!" he called as he stepped inside, causing the group to hear a curious 'clank'.

Nevada groaned as he reluctantly walked towards the bathtub. Great, along with two super hackers I'm also working with a mad bomber. Pandora and Vonda are going to have a field day when they find out about this...

Once he made it to the bathtub however, he was amazed to find a metallic staircase. Although, Nevada strictly abhorred superstition, he could not help but feel a very ethereal evil seeping from the base of the staircase. "Maybe we should go back..." breathed Nevada.

Pent smiled. "Nonsense. Let's have a look-see." Even as he said this however, Pent's very soul was chilled by an icy presence creeping from below. Nevertheless, he heartily began walking down the steps, with a 'clank' each time he stepped, knowing that his friends would surely help him out if he got into trouble.

The group followed one at at time behind Pent down the narrow staircase which Dr. Miracle just barely was able to get through. In the front was Pent, then Nevada, then Dr. Miracle, then Linnea, then finally Marvel  in the back who was holding Linnea's hand.

"I'll protect you." Linnea shakily proclaimed with a smile as she turned around.

The group finally made it down the long staircase and they were filled with dread. The hallway was cold and lonely. Nevada feared that he would encounter frozen bodies in one of the rooms while Dr. Miracle feared that an undead monster would appear and begin strangling him. No matter what the cause, each member of the group felt cold and sterile death. The group slowly crept through the straight and metallic corridor was was much wider than the staircase. A white light flickered on and off rapidly, giving part of the corridor the look of a strobe light dance club. As the group pushed on, the oppressive feeling got worse and worse. Linnea would constantly turn around, afraid that the staircase might disappear, trapping them.

Nevada took out his ring which was now green and blinking rapidly. The entire group could now hear low wails emit from the jewelry. "Please...save us...kill us...I'll make you happy....Mimi....Cecil....Mar....I'm so sorry....help me....kill...me...." it would wail, filling everyone's hearts with dread as the corridor flashed with green. Nevada put the ring back in his pocket but the arm that he held the ring in as he was doing so felt as if it were underwater then back to normal once he had let go of the ring. 

Everyone could hear Marvel's soft whimpering. "I'm scared." he whimpered. "Please, let me go back."

Despite his own fear, Dr. Miracle made his shaking hand into a stiff fist. "There's nothing to fear except fear itself Marv. Remember that for me, 'kay?"

Marvel nodded. "Okay Miracle."

Pent had finally made it to the end of the hall. "Here we are." he said with a fake smile, his happiness wavering.

Nevada had pushed past Pent and inspected the hall. "Oh, it's a dead end! Looks like we have to go back!" declared a terrified Nevada sheepishly, the ring cold in his pocket.

"Now, wait a minute!" cried Pent. He knocked on the walls in front of him and to his sides. The one left of him was hollow. "Stand back!" he cried as he put on his goggles.

The group groaned, more out of utter terror than annoyance but they complied and scooted far away with Pent running frantically after them as his concoction sizzled before it blew up. The group cautiously returned down the corridor as the smoke cleared, causing them to cough.

"Pent, what the heck is in that stuff!?" coughed Linnea.

"Yeah, it reeks!" chimed Marvel, eyes closed.

"It's a trade secret!" explained Pent, now with a genuine smile. "Though I will tell you that you really shouldn't be breathing in that stuff..." he warned.

The group (barring Marvel) ducked through the sizable hole that Pent's explosives made in the wall. As the smoke cleared, the group gasped to see rows upon rows of small containers filled with green liquid. Some containers were significantly taller, body-sized as Nevada observed.

The room was brightly lit with an eerie white light but some bulbs near the corners of the room were blown.

The feeling of ire only increased as the group went deeper into the room, their brains beginning to play tricks on them by making them hear deep wails though the rings wails were still very audible. Nevada read with horror some of the labels on the containers including Thomas Benson.

Dr. Miracle opened a cabinet that contained various bottles of substances with long names that he had trouble pronouncing. A shuddering Marvel, still holding tightly on Linnea's hand, saw blood smeared on the floor. Linnea videotaped her entire journey through the room with her camera.

"G-guys, t-t-take a l-look at th-th-th-this...." stuttered Pent. The tone in the always cheerful Pent worried he group so they all hesitated a bit before investigating.

What they saw horrified them. In a large, pod was a tall and naked Native-American man with long dark hair. He was cryogenically frozen and on the base of the pod was a timer that was counting down five months from that day.

The group was totally silent until Marvel thought he heard a growl and screamed loudly causing the others to scream and run out of the room, into the hallway and up the stairs. They were practically punching each other to try to get to the front of the group. Eventually they made it into the house. Not satisfied, they ran outside of the destroyed house, afraid the man would break free, run up the stairs and kill them.

Marvel was crying loudly, choking on his own saliva. "I'm sorry Miracle!"

"It's okay. You did good." said Dr. Miracle as he patted Marvel on the back. He turned to Nevada angrily. "What the hell was that!?"

Since Marvel was already being accounted for by Dr. Miracle, Linnea tightly embraced Nevada, both of their bodies shuddering violently against each other. Nevada deeply enjoyed the comfort that Linnea's body tightly pressed against his gave him. After a minute of unadulterated embrace, Nevada checked on Pent who was huddled in the fetal position a ways away from the others.

"Hey, are you alright?" asked Nevada with an uncertain smile and he offered the thick boy his hand.

With a single nod, Pent took Nevada's hand and was lifted up. "Look, I'm sorry. This was all my fault."

Nevada shook his head and smiled. "Don't beat yourself up about it. As scary as it might be, we found some sure-fire evidence that will help us." he lied. While true, Mr. Benson's name was found there, that was the only thing they saw that Nevada was sure was connected to this case. Then there was still the lingering problem of connecting this case with Marilyn's. Fortunately, there was one set of clues that had not been examined.

Nevada walked with Pent back to the others. "Does anyone know where I can find a fax machine?" asked Nevada.

Dr. Miracle tilted his head curiously, his eyebrows furrowed. "A fax machine? Probably in a museum."

Nevada rolled his eyes. "Ha, ha very funny."

Linnea chuckled. "I think Paul Revere used one of those to tell all of his allies that the British were coming."

Nevada threw his hands out. "Seriously, where can I find a fax machine!?" he bellowed.

"Who uses a fax machine anymore!?" cried Dr. Miracle.

"A man I know who's really into old fashioned things. He has a typewriter and a feather pen. Trust me, a fax machine is advanced for him." Nevada revealed.

Marvel stared at Nevada as if had just said the insanest thing on the planet.

Pent folded his arms. "I think the old library may still have a fax machine."

"Great," said Nevada as he began walking. "Tell me where to go."

The group looked at each other confusedly before shrugging and following him.

...

The group arrived in an old building that looked more like an old office or detective agency than a library. There was a single high ceiling fan and books and papers were scattered on the rows of long tables. There were some bookshelves but all the books were thrown haphazardly inside. Towards the back of the building was a row of fifteen computers and a fax machine. The brown blinds were shut, enveloping the building in near darkness. Once the group arrived, the white lights turned on and they saw the sole librarian who turned on the lights return to the desk that sat in the middle of the building towards the wall. She looked as if she would die of boredom.

Nevada briskly walked over to her. "Excuse me miss, what's the number to the fax machine?"

"If you knew how to read you'd know that the paper right here says to go to the fax machine for the number." she drawled irritably, pointing at a paper that was in front of her.

"Thank you." responded Nevada, ignoring her insult. He jogged over to the fax machine, made a mental note of the number then dialed a number on his phone. His companions had just made it to the fax machine due to their lax pace. The phone rang a few times without an answer.

Nevada looked at the clock worriedly. The library would be closing soon and he would need them soon. He could hear the soft, rhythmic patter of rain and the loud clap of thunder. On their way back they would get drenched.

The phone rang some more without an answer. Come on, pick up the phone.

The phone rang a bit more before there was finally an answer."Hello? Nevada?" asked Liam.

"Yes, it's me."

"What...what do you need?" asked Liam, afraid to talk to his friend, afraid that he would lash out once again. Nevada could tell Liam was scared and that scared him. For as much as Nevada hated the realization that he was scared without Liam, at the end of the day he still loved him like a father.

"Liam, look I'm sorry about-"

"Don't try to weasel your way out of this. You said what you said Nevada. The deal is still on. Are you admitting defeat?" asked Liam.

Nevada was silent for a bit while Liam waited patiently for an answer. "No." Nevada answered darkly. "But I'm running out of time."

"I don't remember setting a time limit."

"You didn't but I don't want to see you without having proof. Did you get those pictures developed?"

"Oh no, this is on your own I'm not helping-"

"Did you get those pictures developed?" interrupted Nevada, a bit more forceful.

"I don't quite approve of your to-"

"Did-you-get-those-pictures-developed?" repeated Nevada, tightly.

Nevada heard a sigh on the other line and could practically hear Liam rubbing his forehead in irritation. "Yes Nevada, I got those pictures developed."

"And?"

"They're not important Nevada."

"I'll be the judge of that. Send them to me."

"I told you you're doing this alon-!" Liam began shouting.

"Send-them-to-me." repeated Nevada, continuing with his tight voice.

"..."

"Please..." Nevada pleaded.

"...What's the fax number?"

Nevada repeated the number before he heard the phone click. Liam had hung up.

Nevada waited as the clock ticked. He stared intently at the fax machine, hoping the pictures would pop out any second but they didn't. The fax machine stayed the same. Nevada's friends looked at him in anticipation and he was ashamed that he failed them. He supposed that Liam had enough of him and was now abandoning him. 

Nevada had turned around and was about to walk towards the exit of the library when he heard the fax machine begin to heavenly hum. He whipped his head around and hovered over the fax machine. He looked at all of his friends who were smiling at him warmly. They were on his side. He looked as the pictures slowly exited the fax machine. Liam was still on his side. A big grin spread across his face. 

After the last picture sputtered out of the machine, Nevada quickly snatched it and examined the pictures. One was of the Sapphire ring in a container filled with pink liquid, another was of the room the group had returned from but now with brains in the jars and a few naked people in the larger jars, another picture depicted an unconscious person on a table with their brain a few inches from their head, another was a close-up picture of Mimi, another was of Honey Havara talking to someone who was cut out of the picture with a check in her hand and the final picture was of a man with his eyes closed and arms folded, wearing glasses and bloody gloves. He appeared to be sitting in the back of an ambulance. Nevada could tell without a doubt that this man was Alexander H. Louis.

Marvel looked at the shocked look on Nevada's face. "So does this clear things up?" 

Nevada nodded. "Clears up some things...while leaving some things still unanswered. We still have a long way to go but I think by this time tomorrow I may have something to tell Liam..."

                                                                 ...

The group had decided to stay at a hotel despite the high cost. They were originally going to stay at the cheapest motel they could find but Linnea and Nevada were opposed to it, saying that they would be weirded out by staying in the same place where Cecil, Mimi and Miranda were last seen. After munching down on Pizza for dinner (if it ain't broke, don't fix it as Pent defended) the group went to their rooms. Nevada and Pent shared a room, Marvel and Dr. Miracle shared a room while Linnea got to have a room to herself. 

Pent was fast asleep and Nevada contemplated on the bed five feet away from Pent's. This still poses the problem of tying this to Marilyn's death. Either I'm going to have to find a miracle or I'm going to have to bullcrap like there's no tomorrow. Then there are the pictures. Surely Liam knew that the picture of Alexander H. Louis was at least important. He must have been testing me, seeing how determined I was to get this done. Though, to be fair it was really the other four doing the work. If it weren't for them counting on me I probably wouldn't have the courage to defy Liam. I wonder if we can ever-

Nevada's musings were abruptly cut short by a knocking on his door. Who could that be this time of night?

Nevada cautiously walked towards the door in a defensive karate position before he opened it. He sighed when he saw it was just Linnea then gulped when she walked inside and shut the door, leaning forward so that their noses touched. She was wearing pink pajama shorts and a sleeveless pink shirt.

"W-what are you d-doing here!?" stammered Nevada as backed away towards his bed.

Linnea followed him, giggling. "Has anyone ever told you that you're cute when you're a nervous wreck?"

Nevada was now sitting on the bed while Linnea was right in front of him. Is she crazy!? What would Pent think if he saw us like this? "Not really. I don't really talk to people that much." he answered, determined not to get flustered.

"Aw, that's a shame. You have a really soothing voice."

"What do you want Linnea?

Linnea plopped on the bed, laying down next to Nevada. "Can't sleep so I thought I'd talk to you." She turned towards him. "There isn't a problem with that is there?"

Nevada looked away. "I guess not."

Linnea smiled. "Good." she grabbed Nevada's wrist which still had his gold watch.

"Cool watch, where did you get it?"

"Liam gave it to me as a birthday gift two years ago." Nevada explained, affectionately rubbing it.

"When's your birthday?"

"July fourth." answered Nevada absently.

Linnea sat up and smiled. Nevada turned to her. "What?" he asked.

"Fourth of July? My god your parents are patriotic!" laughed Linnea.

Nevada scoffed and puffed out his cheeks. "Well, they didn't mean to have me own the fourth."

Linnea couldn't stop laughing. "Nope, they definitely did. They probably did the math an' everything."

Nevada sighed.

"You're so weird!" Linnea gleefully cried.

Nevada had had enough. "Well if I'm so weird then why don't you get-!" Linnea covered Nevada's mouth with her hand.

She smiled in a slightly condescending manner. "Hush. I was just kidding so stop kidding. I don't think you're weird, I think you're really cute." she removed her hand and leaned closer, her face mere inches away from Nevada's. "In fact, I really like you Nevada."

Nevada grew hot as he processed her words and became aware of the closeness of Linnea's body. "I-I like you too." he stammered. He felt compelled to wrap his arms around the girl and bring her close to him.

She closed her eyes and leaned slight closer. "Then kiss me." she whispered seductively.

Nevada wanted to. He wanted to kiss Linnea so badly. Pull her close, have their arms wrap around each other as they rolled around in the bed and tongue wrestled, exchanged saliva but Nevada couldn't. For the life of him he wasn't even sure why he couldn't. He felt that he had enough self control but then again, earlier today he wouldn't be this close to making out with Linnea. Something about kissing Linnea made Nevada feel...dirty. He felt that if he kissed her he could never go back, he would lose his innocence and would have to say goodbye to his childhood forever, he felt that kissing Linnea so passionately would change him. Oh sure, he was going to turn sixteen in a few weeks but he still didn't feel like becoming a hormone raging late-teenager yet. Nevada was also afraid of the inevitable heartbreak that would result due to when him and Linnea split up. As much as he yearned for Linnea, he was afraid of the consequences it might hold.

"No." said Nevada darkly as he lightly pushed Linnea away.

"But-but why?" asked Linnea, opening her eyes, hurt in her voice.

Nevada simply walked to the door and opened it. I don't know. I'm sorry."We have a big day tomorrow. You need to get some sleep."

Feeling as if she would throw up, Linnea nodded and walked to the door, tears in her eyes. With a sigh, Nevada shut the door and sank down to the floor below, hands covering his face. Eventually he got up, turned off the light and went to his bed where he fell asleep quickly.

Chapter Seven: The Beginnings of a JigsawEdit

It was morning and the birds chirped playfully outside the hotel room. Nevada groaned quietly and strainlessly stretched his arms and legs as far as he could. He then slowly sat up and rubbed his eyes wearily as he let out a small yawn. He sat on the bed and let his sponge-like mind soak with information. He looked around at the curtain-shaded room and scratched his head before swinging his legs over the bed and onto the floor.

He drummed his fingers on his leg forcefully as if the harder he drummed, the quicker his thoughts would organize themselves. I need to find someway to connect these two cases and fast. Guesses won't cut it, I'll need some definite, solid proof. If I...when I...well, we possibly. When we connect these two cases the scope of both will grow tremendously which is really saying something considering how large the case of Miranda Cunningham already is. This might turn out to be my biggest case yet. Nevada sighed. And it'll only appear larger due to Liam not being with me. I hope my words that night didn't drive him away. For that matter, I hope my words last night didn't drive Linnea away. Nevada groaned and buried his head in his arms in despair. It seems like lately I'm saying the wrong things and pushing people away. Maybe I'll just have to keep my mouth shut because as time goes on, I'm beginning to realize that I'm going to need all the help I can get.

Nevada turned to see the bed next to his was unmade with the sheet and blanket thrown to the floor which Nevada had expected but the bed was also empty. Nevada darted his eyes to the open bathroom door. He could see that the bathroom's lights were not on. He wondered if Pent simply was simply doing his business with the door open, expecting Nevada to still be asleep. Nevada quickly discarded his theory due to the discovery of a new clue, Pent's laughter from outside the room. After meticulously making his and Pent's beds, he walked to the door. He heard Pent talking at a regular volume and then heard quiet buzz in reply which allowed him to determine that Pent was on the phone with someone. 

Nevada quietly walked away from the door to keep himself from eavesdropping, a habit that he constantly partook in. He inputted the combination of his briefcase (that being his sister's birthday), opened it then took out his yellow toothbrush and Advance White toothpaste before shuffling to the bathroom. He was in the midst of brushing his teeth when he heard the door to the hotel room open. He quickly rinsed his mouth then spat.

Pent's smirk and calm demeanor quickly vanished once he saw Nevada in the doorway to the bathroom with a piercing gaze, toothbrush in hand.

"You're up early." Nevada stated.

Pent smiled, with a slight tinge of nervousness as Nevada noted, then put his hands behind his head. "Yup, sure am."

Nevada raised his eyebrows. "I didn't expect that from you."

Pent jerked back into the door then put his hand over his chest with his eyes wide. "Nevada, I'm shot. Give me some credit. What, you think I'm some sloth or somethin'?" he asked in mock hurt.

Nevada folded his arms. "Well, yes, actually, I kind of did."

Pent relaxed a little as he chuckled. "Ah, well you're the detective for a reason."

Nevada smirked. "I didn't get this badge for standing around and looking pretty."

Pent scrunched up his face. "Naw, that sounds 'bout right."

Nevada gave a short laugh then put his fists at his sides. "Follow me, we need to wake the others. We have a big and important day today."

The two through the hallway towards Linnea's door. "So we have more sleuthing to do?" asked Pent.

Nevada nodded. "Yes, a lot more. I can tell you that today most definitely will not be the last day."

Pent put his hands behind his head and smiled widely. "Sweet."

..

Nevada and Pent were in front of Linnea's door. Nevada gave a nervous knock. There was no response. Nevada  knocked twice with he same results. He folded his arms and tapped his foot. He knocked again, this time with a bit more force, eliciting a tired moan from inside. 

"Linnea, it's time to get up." Nevada said, careful to sound loud enough that Linnea could hear him but not so loud as to sound harsh. Linnea responded in another moan.

Pent raised his eyebrows and knocked loudly on the door thrice. "Up an' at em' princess. We have a big day today and you're not helping anyone laying there like a rock."

"Shut up Garvin!" bit Linnea in reply.

Pent bowed and walked away from the door. 

Nevada gave Pent a baffled look. "Do you still like Linnea?" he asked in confusion.

"Yeah, I still have the hots for her. Why?"

"It just seems like you treat her with disdain."

"Oh, I'm just kidding around. Couldn't be the president of the Linnea Harvey fan club if I hated her."

Nevada knocked on the door shared by Dr. Miracle and Marvel. He heard a hurried scuffle to the door before Dr. Miracle opened it tentatively. "Oh, good morning Nevada." he greeted.

"Good morning. Could you get dressed? We need to get to work and quickly." replied Nevada.

Dr. Miracle nodded. "Sure can do. We'll be out in a nanosec." he confirmed before quickly closing the door.

...

The group was in the dining area near the lobby of the hotel, two floors below where they slept. Their nostrils were greeted by the roysing smell of eggs, bacon, sausage, juice and waffles. Nevada picked up a white porcelain plate, eager to put the growling tiger that was his stomach to ease. He turned to see Linnea, wearing a small plaid skirt and a short-sleeved red shirt with yellow stripes. Nevada gulped as he grew red with embarrassment. He turned to her, prompting her to turn with him, his embarrassed face contrasting with her welcoming one.

"Um, Linnea?" began Nevada.

"Yeah Nevada?" she replied sweetly.

"I'm sorry."

Linnea tilted her head. "Sorry about what Nevada?" she asked in confusion.

"About...last night."

Linnea smiled widely as she turned away and got forks. "What happened last night?"

Nevada blinked furrowed his eyebrows. "You..you know."

"Nooo, I don't." she chuckled. "C'mon, tell me."

Nevada blinked before shaking his head. "Oh it was nothing." he said with a wave of his hand.

It sure wasn't Nevada. Linnea thought.

After obtaining his eggs, orange juice, bacon, sausages and waffles, Nevada sat at the table with Pent, Dr. Miracle and Marvel then scooted his chair over to make room for Linnea who got out of line right after him. It was a tight fit, the five youths around the circular table but it made them slightly closer as a group.

Nevada had learned his lesson the first time, the group would finish eating before stating the state of the affairs. Linnea gave a sneer at Pent who gleefully devoured his syrup and butter drenched waffles, getting some syrup on his shirt and face. 

After Nevada had finished his meal with the last sip of his orange juice he patted his mouth with his napkin. He reached over to collect the empty plates then he stacked them off to the side of the table near Marvel. Nevada placed his briefcase on the table with a thud, causing the plates to shudder. He entered his sister's birthday then opened the case and took out a stack of papers.

"I won't lie to you," admitted Nevada. "Today we're really going to need to work."

"What are we doing today Detective Nevada?" asked Marvel.

A pleasurable tingle ran up Nevada's spine due to the utterance of "Detective Nevada". "Well, we definitely gathered clues yesterday but we still haven't exactly found a way to tie Marilyn's death to the Cunningham mystery which was the main objective. Here's what we'll do: we'll review the data we have gathered then determine what concretely connects the two cases if we have it or what we'll need to determine in order to connect the two cases." Nevada explained.

Everyone nodded in understanding.

Nevada held out his hands in front of him. "Well? Dig in." he said, allowing everyone to take some paper and look over all the notes Nevada had gathered. Even though he had written all the notes, Nevada read the papers as well in case there was something he hadn't thought of.

Dr. Miracle raised his eyebrows as he looked over a sheet of paper. "You know, these notes are really well-written and detailed."

"Thanks." replied Nevada absently as he was busy reading one of his note sheets about Marilyn.

"They're a bit long-winded though." admitted Linnea.

The group continued to read silently, with the occasional shuffling of paper being heard. The silence was broken however by Marvel banging on the table excitedly. Nevada looked up to see his face positively lit with joy. The young detective couldn't help but smile.

"I've got it Nevada! It's really simple!" he exclaimed.

Nevada folded his arms. "Okay then, let's hear it." Nevada said calmly.

Marvel smiled widely, showing his bright green braces. "The ring! The ring is what ties these two cases together."

Pent seemed to smirk slightly as he put his hands behind his head but Nevada's smile had dissolved. "Okay, how?"

Marvel wasn't as energetic as once he first declared he had the answer but his happiness was still apparent. "The sapphire ring was found on Mimi's hand when she showed up in Bullfrog then it was the only thing she cared about. We saw a picture of the ring in a container like the ones we saw in the spooky lab so I'm guessing she got it from there. It disappeared once she was found by the police then it showed up almost fifteen years later near Marilyn's house, found by you."

Nevada gave a short sigh as he drummed his fingers on the table. "You gave a pretty good rundown of what we know about the ring but you never revealed how it connects Miranda's case to Marilyn's."

"What do you mean? It's obvious that the ring is the thing that connects the two cases because it's the thing that they share. The ring played a part in the case fifteen years ago then disappears only to show up years later near the driveway of a woman who recently died? That just can't be a coincidence!" Marvel explained, flabbergasted.

Nevada shrugged as he looked at his nails. Nevada then looked eye-to-eye with his younger friend. "It could be. The problem is that we don't know for sure. Our claim that these two cases are connected certainly wouldn't be helped if our only basis is the ring. Sure, it did play a role in the Cunningham mystery but as far as anyone knows, it's pretty minor if at note at all. We have a picture that may or may not make it climb up the ladder of importance but we're still dark about the ring's significance. Then we have Marilyn's case where it's virtually nonexistent at the moment. Unlike with Miranda, there are no records of the ring in relation to Marilyn. It showed up after her death near her house and we can only assume that there was any relation." he explained grimly. "Linnea, have you seen this ring before?"

"Not before yesterday I haven't." she answered.

Nevada sighed and held out his hand. "And there we have it. We only have, if we're generous, half of information on how the ring is significant in one case much less how it connects the two cases."

Dr. Miracle had folded his arms. "Not to mention, we're only going by our guts when we say that it's Mimi's ring..."

"Precisely." said Nevada. 

Pent bit his cheek. "If it is Mimi's ring, then it was going crazy when it was around the school and that lab place. Nevada didn't say it was glowing when he found it."

"Okay, okay! I get it!" shouted Marvel. "I'll just shut up now." he grumbled in defeat.

Nevada sighed. "Listen, I didn't mean to discourage you..it's just that the case of Miranda Cunningham is going to be fifteen years old in less than a week meaning that further action won't be able to be taken soon. The giant metal doors of this case are about to close forever and we can't just slide in a little door-stopper that someone will be able to just take out, we need to burst the doors to this case wide open."

Nevada gave a sideways glance. "Besides, if possible, I don't want to rely on the ring at all. It sounds like something from a bad paranormal fanfiction."

The group began looking through the notes again, their spirits slightly lower.

Pent turned a paper sideways as he scrunched up his face. "Well what about the cottage you and Linnea found in Schell Creek?" he asked.

Nevada raised his eyebrows. "Yes, what about it?"

"It connects the two cases. Think about it for a sec. We got the deed in there, plus Mimi's camera then the photo album of Marilyn and that poem to her to seal the deal!" he explained jubiantly.

Linnea folded her arms and raised her eyebrows in annoyance. "You mean the cottage that burned down without a trace?" she asked piercingly.

Nevada sighed and massaged his forehead with the palm of his hand. "Thus making us look like a pair of loons."

"Well where else could they have came from?" asked Pent in exasperation.

"I don't know exactly Pent but anywhere but there, anywhere other than a place that does not exist. Though yes, it would make a pretty darn good connection if it were still around, there's nothing connecting the Miranda items to the Marilyn items now."

Pent threw his hands up. "Then I got nothin'. I'll keep looking."

"Very well." replied Nevada as he buried his face in more paper.

The group was now quickly exchanging papers with one another, desperate to find out how the two cases could be proved to be connected.

"Hey Nevada?" began Dr. Miracle.

"Yes?"

"So we're not trying to solve the individual cases right now? It's just that it might be easier to find out how one crime was comiited and who did it. That opens the possibility that in doing so, we'll discover the answers to the other crime."

Nevada closed his eyes. "As things are now we don't nearly have enough to solve one of the cases and in the slim chance that we do there's always the possibility that solving one won't automatically open our eyes to the workings of the other. I understand if you don't trust my judgement but I'm betting everything that connecting these two cases is the key to the first lock of solving them."

"I trust your judgement." responded Linnea.

"Hey man, you are the detective here. I was just asking." Dr. Miracle replied.

The group continued to look at the notes for another ten minutes without avail. 

Linnea looked up. "How about this? We talk about general things we notice and maybe that'll spark something." she suggested.

"Worth a shot, right?" Pent asked.

"Most certainly." confirmed Nevada. "Let's see...intelligence is definitely a common theme that I've noticed. Women of high intelligence were typically victims in the Miranda Cunningham case and Miranda herself was bright, Thomas Benson was murdered shortly after a news paper article was published that talked how his students scored on tests compared to other students, the victims were found brainless and the brain is how intelligence is measured then there's that essay on human intelligence."

"Could that be what connects the case?" asked Dr. Miracle.

"It's a possibility." stated Nevada.

Pent folded his arms and smiled deviously. "Well, let's see. Linnea, was Marilyn a woman?"

Linnea moved her face closer to Pent's and lowered her eyelids. "What do you think Garvin?"

Pent smiled sheepishly.

Nevada blushed. "Um, I can attest to the fact that she is, actually." he revealed shamefully causing the entire table to look at him in with varying degrees of raised eyebrows.

Pent chuckled. "A-heh-nyways, was Marilyn smart?"

Linnea nodded, her face hard. "Very. She had a real detective mind and it takes a real genius to have one of those." she stated, stealing a glance at Nevada once she said "it takes a real genius to have one of those".

Nevada raised his right eyebrow slightly. "So, you believe that Marilyn was murdered for the same reason as the victims fourteen years ago?" he asked.

"Yeah." confirmed Pent. "I mean, she had some pictures in the cottage plus as we stated she had high intelligence and was of course female."

Nevada tapped the side of his face and glanced to his left towards the counter where food was being served. "That kind of hinges on the cases being connected and we cannot use it as a connector for as of now, we do not know if she was killed for the same reason as the others. Your theory also hinges on the cottage which again, as far as everyone is concerned, never existed."

"You also forgot one thing: she still had her brain you dweeb!" sneered Marvel with his arms folded as she faced Pent.

Pent pointed a finger to the ceiling. "Ah but you forget my little-friend-named-after-a-rapper. The first deaths with the prostitutes were done via syringe and only their blood was taken out."

"Yes, half of it." added Nevada. "When I saw her, she looked like she was just sleeping."

"Which contrasts with what Lucy saw." chimed Dr. Miracle. "She found her "pale as a ghost" while you found her looking as if she were just closing her eyes for a bit."

Nevada blinked, his eyes being slightly wider once he opened them. I...never took note of that...

Pent snapped. "Aha! So our little house messer-upper might have taken her blood then pumped in new blood to make it seem like everything was just peachy!"

Nevada looked around distraught at the people who had swiveled their heads. "Keep it down." he commanded lowly. "And let's not get crazy here. Lucy would have noted if Marilyn was missing blood-"

Pent raised his eyebrows and folded his arms. "Blood on the carpet?"

"Okay, even if it did occur but wasn't physically evident, we don't know for sure." Nevada rebutted.

Marvel rolled his eyes. "Don't know for sure, it's possible that it didn't happen. We don't know anything for sure!"

Dr. Miracle glowered at him. "Stop being such a baby. Keep a cool head."

"That's why we need to find something we're sure about or at least pretty sure about." revealed Nevada.

"By the way Nevada, what ever happened about beefing up security? I could get into Auntie Mari's just fine the night after you first spoke to me." Linnea inquired.

Nevada immediately opened his mouth before closing it. "I.."...have no idea...

"Native-American spirituality also seems to be a bit of a common theme." stated Dr. Miracle.

"Yes but that seems to pertain to the ring mostly and as stated before, as of now we can't use it to connect these two cases. It could help out with the Cunningham mystery but that isn't our objective today."

"We know that Marilyn had a boyfriend that lived in the cottage. Could he be her murderer?"

Linnea swallowed.

"It's possible yes, though I think it could be one of his friends. The one that didn't want Marilyn speaking to him?" Nevada responded.

"The dude that Marilyn was with with was Kilra Familton. It was his house." Marvel said

Linnea's face flushed. She didn't like the idea of a possible murderer being seriously involved with her aunt and the prospect of him being old as well made her down-right queasy.

"Not necessarily." combated Nevada allowing Linnea a sigh of relief. "His belongings were only found in Kilra Familton's house and the man that chased us sounded a bit young for Kilra Familton."

"Do you think he's our killer?" asked Dr. Miracle.

"It's a possibility but I honestly have no idea." stated Nevada.

"Do you know who the man in the photo is?" asked Pent.

"I'm sure that's Alexander H. Louis." he answered.

"Really?" asked Linnea, causing his heart to sink. She looked at the photo then of the file of Alexander Louis and squinted. "I honestly can't really see it." she admitted.

Dr. Miracle leaned over and bit his lip. "I can see a striking resemblance."

Nevada blew out a breath. "Okay, now can we get back to connecting the dots?"

"Attempting to." grumbled Marvel.

The group continued to look over the notes, spirits growing darker and darker as they failed to see anything. Nevada continued to look through the papers feverishly. We have under five days to solve this case.

Linnea buried her face his her arms.

Forty-five minutes had passed and no one could think of any way to connect the two cases. Why did I even say the cases were connected? It wasn't me, was it? It was the ring.

Long, cheerless minutes droned on without as much as a single connection. Nevada sighed angrily as he began to collect the papers without any protest. More than an hour had passed and it was obvious to everyone that they had failed...

...everyone except Pent that is.

The boy's eyes widened, looking as if they might burst. "Wait, what do you think you're doing?!" he cried.

Nevada's fast darkened. "Packing up. The owners are already looking at us angrily since we've stayed here longer than we were supposed to."

Pent frowned. "Screw them. Come on, we only need a bit more time to s-"

Nevada shook his head sadly. "Maybe if we had more evidence but nothing now remotely ties these cases together." Nevada drew in a breath.

Pent stood up defiantly with his left fist tightly clenched to the point where his hand had begun to burn. "I was keeping my mouth shut but in that case I have something that has been eating at me for a while now."

Nevada's face seemed to lighten tremendously in that moment but he quickly regained his straight-face. Dr. Miracle, Linnea and Marvel's faces lit up as well. 

"Oh really now? Well, let's hear it." Nevada stated calmly.

Pent glanced away. "It's...it's really not concrete at all though."

Nevada threw his hands up with a slight smile. "You know what? You're the only person who has anything so you have the floor right now. We'll listen to what you have to say all the way through." he looked at his companions who didn't seem to protest to his statement.

Pent put his hands behind his head and closed his eyes. "Well, the best thing to go about this, in my eyes is to see what people these two cases possibly share. The only problem is that almost everyone significant from the Miranda Cunningham case has disappeared off the face of the Earth. Everyone except for one person: Graham Cunningham, now known as George Cunning."

The group looked at each other in skepticism.

"And for the only guy that we have, Graham is pretty good. He's the father of Miranda and Mimi so we have that and he also holds parties every night for young women every night. Expensive parties. Most likely for rich girls." Pent went on.

Dr. Miracle breathed loudly and raised his eyebrow in annoyance. "That's it? That's all-" he was cut short by Nevada holding his arm out and shaking his head sternly.

"It's a long shot, I know but it's all I've got. Marilyn might not seem the type to go to these parties but what if she was formally invited? What if a party was hosted only for smart girls? What if she knew George Cunning's relation to the case. Yes, yes. A lot of "ifs", I know but it's all I've got for now." he turned his attention to Linnea whose arms were folded, unimpressed. "Linnea, you and Marilyn played "detective games" right? A few months back was there one involving a case that sounded like Miranda's?" he asked.

Linnea opened her mouth to quickly negate Pent before closing it, thoughtful. "Well, a while ago. Maybe like a year back, she had some files and I asked her if they were for another detective game. She told me no, that the detective project she was printing them for was solo since it was such a hard case and it was thirteen years old."

Nevada raised his eyebrows slightly.

"And Linnea," continued Pent. "Did your aunt go to California any time recently?"

Linnea shook her head. "Not recently. She hardly ever travels but come to think of it...she told me she was going to a party in California about a year ago...not too long after she started making the files actually."

"So there we have it, a connection." stated Pent.

Dr. Miracle frowned and looked at Nevada. "What do you think detective?"

Nevada shook his head.  "I don't know."

"You always talk about coincidences and I know Marilyn possibly going to George's party may be a coincidence. He might have just invited her because she was pretty but right now, it's the only thing we've got and I want to take it." stated Pent.

Linnea nodded. "It's worth a shot. The main problem about the Miranda case is the lack of information. It's such an infamous mystery for a reason. With most of the big players gone there can't be questioning and right now, Graham is the biggest player that's still in the game as far as we know." she stated. "Marilyn had friends in the picture on her phone, friends I've never seen. How did she get those friends?"

Dr. Miracle threw up his hands. "I dunno', at a bar or something. There was a guy in that picture. I was there. George Cunning only hosts parties for women."

"But connections could have been made." stated Marvel lowly as he looked off to the side.

Nevada blew a breath from his nose and closed his eyes. "He lives in California. There's no way we'd be able to talk to him in a day."

Dr. Miracle glanced at him. "I am a hacker, you know." he reminded quietly. "Even if we can't meet him I can get dirt on him." 

Pent looked at Nevada. "If need be, we can talk to him. While everyone was looking through the notes, I borrowed Linnea's phone for a bit. He's in Nevada now."

"Where?" asked Nevada tightly.

Pent's face darkened. "I don't-"

"I can find out." revealed Dr. Miracle folding his arms. "So, what are we going to do?"

Nevada sighed. "There's really only one thing we can do at this point." he stated. "We move out."

...

The group sat in the air conditioned bus that was lumbering down the road. Nevada was grateful for the bus providing a well needed shield against the hot Nevada sun which he could see was causing mirages in the distance but this fact could not stop Nevada from beginning to work up a sweat. He folded his arms, worried about how the questioning of George Cunning would go. He knew that this would be a lot harder than the two women he questioned the day prior. He hoped he would be able to question Grant in a perfectly legal way, as the case went on he thought of Pandora and Vonda's twisted smiles more and more. 

He held in a sigh as he looked at Dr. Miracle tapping away at his laptop keyboard, no doubt obtaining intel on their target. Yep, Vodka's going to be absolutely jolly...

Dr. Miracle turned to the brown-haired detective. "Something wrong Nevada?" He was wearing gray shorts and a short-sleeved green shirt along with white Air Max's.

Nevada shook his head. "Not really, no." he looked around his companions. Marvel was playing Pokemon Yellow on a green Gameboy Advance SP. He wore gray pants and a green button-up shirt with green Nike shoes. Pent was staring up at he ceiling with his hands behind his head, listening to the music contently. He wore a sleeveless red shirt with large jean shorts and brown sandals. Nevada finally turned to Linnea and caught himself staring as she looked outside the window boredly at the arid desert and the occasional cars, seeming to look off into the far distance as if something were approaching. Nevada tilted his head and wondered what she was thinking about in her red and yellow short-sleeved shirt and her plaid short skirt coupled with her red athletic shoes.

Before they had boarded the large public transportation vehicle, Dr. Miracle had determined that George was headed to Lovelock and they should be able to beat him there. Although at first Nevada was vexed due to the two-hour-forty-two minute drive it would take to get there, he informed everyone that it would be beneficial due to it allowing them to think. Nevada and the rest of the group were taking the time to think about their plan of action. They had already been on the road for an hour.

A recently released song on the radio came on and Dr. Miracle smiled widely. "Yeah!" she said before bobbing his head. Nevada raised his eyebrows.

"You actually like this?" asked Nevada.

Dr. Miracle raised his eyebrows slightly while still smiling. "Are you kidding? This is sweet!" he proclaimed.

Nevada folded his arms and looked away. "If you say so." he muttered.

"What, you don't like this music?" asked Dr. Miracle.

Nevada shook his head. "No, no, I do. It's just that I prefer the classics to this new drivel." he explained.

"Whaat man!? Look, the classics are good and all but there are some pretty bumpin' new songs out too!"

Nevada raised his eyebrows. "Really?"

"Yeah, you just have to give some a try."

Nevada sighed. "I'm fine listening to the music I've always listened to, thank you."

"Okay, man I admit, most of the classics are untouchables but some new songs can blow old songs out of the water."

Nevada's face darkened. "You're mad for that one doctor."

"But it's true!"

"Old songs are the greatest." stated Nevada.

"Look, there's no arguing that but there are some pretty sweet new songs too."

Linnea chuckled as she turned to the two. "Don't argue with the old man about the "golden-days" Miracle. You'll never win."

Dr. Miracle laughed. "Yeah, you're probably right Linnea."

Nevada grew red. "Alright fine, I'll give some a shot and if I like them you guys win."

Dr. Miracle's eyes lit up. "Oh really? Do we get money?" he asked.

Nevada looked out the window and away from their eyes. "I'll think about it." he mumbled.

Nevada continued to look outside the window for ten minutes until he was tapped. He looked forward to see Linnea smiling.

"Hey Nevada?" she started.

"Yes Linnea?"

"Well..." she looked away and scratched her head. "Look, I remember what happened last night so let me start this off by saying that this would be as just friends....since that's what you want, right."

Nevada opened his mouth but was cut off by Linnea.

"Anyway, there's going to be this big square-dance thing in a few weeks and I've always wanted to go square dancing with someone before. I was taught how to but I never square-danced in public before. It'll be great with really good food, music and games and attractions so I was wondering if you'd go with me." she said frantically.

Nevada blinked. "Square-dancing." he said flatly.

"Yeah, square-dancing." Linnea responded in deadpan. "You don't have a problem with square-dancing do you?" she asked, emphasizing on the word "problem".

Nevada waved his hands as his eyes widened. "Oh no, no! It's not square-dancing in particular....it's just...." Nevada blushed as he looked down at his feet. "...I have two left feet." he admitted shamefully.

Linnea chuckled. "That's not a problem at all! I can teach you how to square-dance."

"Linnea, I'm kind of in the middle of two cases. I don't have time to goof around."

Linnea poked him in the cheek. "There you go, always Mr. Serious pants. Have some fun! Live a little! I'm sure we'll be able to carve some time in your oh-so-busy schedule to go dancing!"

Nevada was about to speak out in protest then slumped down and glanced off to the side. "Why don't you just find some boyfriend to dance with?"

"Because I want to dance with you Nevada. It could be really fun to dance with you. Besides, you're my friend and you're a boy aren't you?"

"Linnea, you know very well that-" he began, exasperated.

"Pleease Nevada? Just do it for me? I promise it'll be fun." she pleaded.

Well, her aunt did die. It would be pretty mean to refuse. "You would want to go with me even if we're not..together?"

Linnea smiled softly. "Hey, it isn't the strangest thing under the sun and besides..." she tilted her head and smiled deviously. "...I might be able to turn you around in a few weeks time."

Ignoring that. Nevada rolled his eyes with a sigh then smiled. "Very well Ms. Harvey. I accept you offer to dance."

Linnea pumped her fists and squealed. "Yay! I won't disappoint you Nevvie! I can call you Nevvie right?"

Nevada blinked and sheepishly scratched his head. "I suppose so."

"Alright Nevvie." she turned around. "By the way, wear something nice."

It still won't look as nice as whatever you'll be wearing.

As the destination loomed nearer and nearer Nevada grew more worried, something Pent easily noticed.

"Hey Nev, what's wrong?" asked Pent in concern.

Nevada swallowed. "It's nothing."

Pent frowned. "Stop lying to me man. It's the interrogation isn't it?"

Nevada was silent before breathing through his nose. "Yes."

"You look like you're headed to the guillotine. I wasn't sure about this but want to hear a plot I cooked up for how to get him where we want him?"

Nevada raised his eyebrows. "Plot?" he asked in concern. He soon shook his head. "I'm all ears."

"Okay, but how much money do we have left?"

"Not a lot." answered Nevada dissolutely. They had eaten up most of their funds and any more spending could mean no bus ride back to Haven.

Pent looked at Linnea. "Well, I think we can still make it work." he turned to Nevada and began explaining his plan, causing Nevada's eyes to widen in alarm.

...

George Cunning exited his red convertible and stepped onto the scorched Nevadan sidewalk in his gucci shoes with a sigh. He hated the meetings but they were mandatory. The faster they were over with the faster he'd be able to go back to his stylish California penthouse and leave this state that brought him sour memories.

Hot as a bitch like always. He breathed as he wiped his forehead. He stood on the sidewalk and looked at the passing cars, hating the people due to them not recognizing him. Look at these bumpkins, don't even know who I am! 

George Cunning leaned against his ruby vehicle as he took out his crimson phone and dialed a number. He put the phone on his ear and listened to it ring impatiently. It was a ring away from going to voice-mail when it was finally answered. George frowned as he tapped his foot.

"Why did it take you so long to answer your goddang phone!? What were you doing, sitting on the crapper?! No, you listen to me! I'm a busy man and I don't like my time being wasted!" George Cunning angrily rolled his eyes and his foot tapping became more feverish. "Yeah, yeah, all right. Anyway I'm in Lovelock now, where the hell are you? What the hell do you mean you're getting ready to come!? I came all the way from Calif- if you knew then why the hell isn't your ass here!? You know what? Fine, whatever! I'll be in one of these cheap motels. Take your sweet ass time getting your ass here." he grumbled before terminating the phone call and shoving the phone in his pocket. George Cunning went inside his car then began driving it, his being filled with rage.

He searched for the nearest motel he could stay in. He needed someway to blow off his pent up aggression but without a way to do so, he'd just settle for a nap in one of the small town's motels. And thanks to his lack of concern for my pleasure, I'll need to take a nap in one of these dingy motels. I'm going to kill him if some parasite so much thinks about me while I'm there.

While driving down the road, someone had caught George Cunning's eye. He slowed his car as he approached a beautiful young woman who was leaning against a streetlight pole, smiling slyly. She pushed her sunglasses down as he approached and her eyes instantly widened as she saw him.

"Oh my god! It's you!" she cried out.

George chuckled and gave a sly smile. He didn't recall ever meeting this gorgeous lady before but he'd be dammed if he didn't make her acquaintance today. "Are you talking to me miss?" he said in his dark and low voice.

The lady giggled which caused George to grow excited. My goodness what a laugh! "Of course I'm referring to you cutie! You're the famous George Cunning! I simply adore you but unfortunately I can't attend any of your parties since I live all the way in Nevada." she said, pouting.

George Cunning flashed a toothy smile. "Aw, I'm sorry to hear that, maybe we can work something out."

The woman gave a wide, cat-like grin. "Oh I sure hope so. How about you come out your car so we can chat?" she said seductively. "Wouldn't want you wasting your hard-earned gas money now would we."

George Cunning grew ever hotter in the woman's presence, the sun's heat minuscule compared to hers. He was happy to be closer to the young woman. "We sure wouldn't." he said quickly before shutting off the engine and hopping out of the car briskly. He was getting old but he always seemed to regain his youthful energy in the company of young women. He slowly walked closer to her.

The girl slumped and gave a pout. "It's just that I've been absolutely dying to meet you in person and...have some alone time but..." she looked away "I understand that you're a very busy man." 

He leaned towards her, no doubt filling her small nostrils with the smell of his Axe Dark Temptation. He could have swore he sensed nervousness. "I always have time for my fans." he said quietly.

She smiled the smile that drove him crazy. She was in the perfect combination of purple pumps, perfectly applied make up, a white, sleeveless tight-fitting shirt and shorts so small that George's imagination ran wild. "So you can spare a few minutes?" she asked

"I can spare more than a few minutes." his heart sank. Wait a minute, up this close she looks like a teen. Getting my butt mixed up with an underage girl, no matter how absolutely fine she is will only get me into trouble. "Say doll, how old are you?"

George felt guilty as he could see her spirits darken as well. "I look young but I'm old enough. Though I understand if you don't like young lookin' girls."

George shook his head and drew her close with his hairy arms, her face firmly in the opening of his moderately unbuttoned shirt which caused her to meet with his hairy chest. George could have sworn that she squirmed at his stiffness but he simply brushed it off as his imagination. "No, of course not baby. What's your name?"

"Venus Plum." she answered quickly as she moved her head back to look into George's brown eyes.

George stroked her long blonde hair. "Venus Plum." he repeated. "What a fine name. Fit for a woman of your caliber." he said huskily. "Let's get a room so we can chat."

"Are you sure?"

"Absolutely, are you nervous?"

Venus chuckled nervously as she brushed her hair out of her emerald eyes. "To be honest, a bit."

George bent down and gave her a peck on the mouth. "There's nothing to be afraid of my Venus." he comforted as he slid his hands down to her rear and rubbed softly.

Venus chuckled, beginning to sweat and moved away from him, prompting him to take her hand. "Let's head off to the Royal Inn." said George.

"Um, how about Super Motel 10? It just seems sooo nice and it's walking distance." she tilted her head and smiled innocently. "And I want to spend as much time possible with you Georgie."

George swallowed. It was ages since a woman got him this excited. "Whatever you want." he breathed before they walked hand-in-hand to the motel, George's smile growing as they crossed the parking lot.

Once they entered George immediately spoke to the woman behind the front desk whose face lit up once he entered. 

"I'd like a room please."

"The last room is available. You can pay when you're done." she stated in monotone before handing him the keys. George walked with Venus hand-in-hand until they reached the last room, prompting George to hastily unlock the door and gently nudge Venus in before he entered and closed the door, shrouding the room in darkness.

"I'm sorry if I seem like I'm rushing this but I can't wait much longer. You have no idea how alive you make me feel Venus." stated George as he began to feverishly unbutton his shirt even more and used his other hand to fumble with his belt buckle. He looked in confusion as the light to the bathroom turned on then three boys walked out in single file before turning towards him with their arms folded.

"For the love of god can you please keep your clothes on? No one wants to see that crap!" stated the thick boy in the middle with a red shirt.

George growled. "What are you doing in here!? This is our room! Don't worry Venus I'll get these brats-"

Venus had walked over to the boys before turning around and folding her arms with a defiant sneer. She looked as if she was holding back tears. In that instant, George thought that Venus looked like a girl that he knew long ago, a girl named Miranda.

"No, this is our room!" hissed Venus venomously. ""Georgie!"" she finished, in a mockingly cute tone.

George raised his eyebrows in confusion. "Venus, what's going-"

"My name isn't Venus!" she snapped.

"My name is Nevada Johnson of The Super Detective Agency and these are my associates." stated the boy on the right with brown pants a white shirt with a blazer, topped off with a fedora.

George sneered. "Super Detective Agency? Is that the best name you brats could come up with? I'm calling the cops!" he laughed. He scanned the children, trying to gauge who was the second oldest as the woman he knew as Venus definitely looked the oldest. He eventually decided on the overweight one with glasses and a flattop.

Venus gave a shrill laugh that made George jump. 

"That's rich!" she laughed. "The man who touched a minor and was seconds away from having sex with her is going to call the cops!? I'll do it for you!" she cried.

"Calm down Linnea." George faintly heard the young one command.

"I won't get in trouble, you fooled me!" barked George.

Linnea smiled darkly. "You were the one who kissed me, you were the one who touched my ass! You were the one who hugged me when you were...excited." she bit, sounding as if she'd vomit when she said "excited", "You were the one about to have your way with me right here and now in this hotel room!" she continued. "When I'm not even seventeen yet."

George grew pale. "But..but..."

The thick kid held up his hands and shrugged. "She only wanted to chat bro..."

Nevada stepped forward as she took out a pen and notepad from his pocket. George saw all the other children stick their hands in their pockets before taking them out. "Now, I'll be asking a few questions. Please comply, I doubt you wish for this to become messier than it already is."

George raised his eyebrows. "You're fucking running with this eh? You have the notepad and everything, Little Flavia Gemini!" 

The group of children looked at each other in befuddlement.

"Trying to be PK Pinkerton, lil' Natalia, Encyclopedia Brown, trying to be a Hardy boy..."

Linnea confusedly looked at Nevada. "What in the world is he doing?" Nevada shrugged.

"Cam Jansen, Nancy Drew, Detective Conan, Trixie Beldon..." he continued.

"Oh my god he's naming kid detectives." stated the spectacled one

"How does he even know all these guys?" asked the thick one.

"You know you're just embarrassing yourself right?" asked the young one in deadpan.

Nevada snapped his fingers. "Come on , snap out of it. This isn't a joke, I really am a detective. One of the best around unfortunately for you." he took out his golden detective badge out of his pocket.

"This is no joke." said the spectacled one.

George shook his head smiling. "The Super Detective Agency. Fine, whatever I'll play along. Entertain me until I have to go."

Nevada flipped open his notebook. "Very well then. We're questioning you about a recently deceased woman and the mystery surrounding the disappearance of a girl fourteen years ago. That girl being Miranda Cunningham, your daughter."

"My daughter?" he asked, looking away before meeting Nevada's blank stare again.

"Yes, Graham Cunningham, your daughter."

George swallowed before laughing. "Sorry, the name's George. Ask Venus here."

Linnea frowned. "Don't play dumb. Everyone here knows you legally changed your name to George after your wife divorced you after you beat her!"

George took a deep breath as he gripped his pants tightly. "You have no-"

"Proof?" Finished Nevada. "We have everything about you up until you moved to California and everyone stopped caring about you and don't you dare say the ladies care because we all know that if you were broke those women wouldn't be caught dead with you late at night."

George growled lowly.

"We can do this the easy way or hard way. You can choose." stated Nevada.

"What's the hard way kid?"

"Exposing to the world some of your heinous activities and how cruel you treat some of your "fans" and before you say I'm bluffing, answer me this, would you risk it?"

"The only way you could get such information if it existed is by hacking into my computer and that's illegal!"

"So is what you did to my dear friend. I suggest you keep your mouth shut and only answer open it when answering the questions we ask you."

George grimly shut his mouth, angry that the boy could keep him on such a tight leash.

"Now," began Nevada. "I think we'll start with MA's case. A few months ago, did you have a woman at one of your parties by the name of Marilyn Apricot?" 

George's face flushed. Shit, that's what they're here for!?

"I have a lot of women at my parties it's often hard for me to remember everyone's nam-"

"That wasn't the question."

"..."

"Did you or did you not have a woman named Marilyn Diana Apricot at one of your parties about a year ago."

"...yes, I did."

"And why was she there?" asked Nevada.

"Didn't you say women go to my parties because I'm rich?"

"Yes, I did. The problem is L.A. isn't exactly a hop and a skip from Haven, Nevada and Marilyn's wealth could rival your own in its apparently infinite supply. By the way, we'll get back to that but why was she there?"

George sighed. "I invited her there."

Nevada raised his eyebrows. "Oh you invited her, did you? Why?"

"Why, why, why! Is this going to be a running theme!?"

"I'm a detective, Graham."

"That's not my na-!"

"Oh, hush." commanded Linnea. "No matter how much you try to escape it, you'll always be Graham Cunningham."

George gripped his leg tightly.

"Now tell me Mr. Cunningham, why did you invite her?" asked Nevada

"Because I felt like it."

"Stop being puerile. Why did you feel like it?"

"Because she was smokin' okay!? Because I wanted to dance the night away with her!"

Nevada raised his eyebrows and smiled. "Wanted to dance the night away with a woman you could never have met? I'm all for unlikely romance stories but don't you think that's quite the far-fetched lie you've told?"

George glowered at the cheeky boy. "We millionaires keep a close circle of pals."

"That's a load of crap and you know it. Marilyn had a very small circle of friends prior to going to your party and that didn't include your slimy hide." hissed Linnea.

Nevada tilted his head. "We have all day." he looked at the golden watch on his wrist.

"My friends told me to invite her." George said lowly.

"What was that?" asked the thick one.

"He said his friends told him to invite her." repeated Nevada, turning to adress his companion. He turned to George. "You have friends?" asked Nevada. "I'm quite shocked actually."

"Everybody has friends." stated George

Nevada folded his arms and looked to the side. "Not everybody." he looked at George again. "So, these friends, why did they tell you to invite Marilyn?"

"They were interested in her." stated George.

"Why?"

"Look kid, do I have to spell it out. Marilyn's h-o-t hot!"

"Okay, but why did they have you invite her to your party?"

"They knew she'd come to my party."

The child detective, Nevada, in his brown fedora and blazer stopped for a second seemingly stumped as to what to do next. George Cunning saw this a sign of defeat and grew cocky, speaking without being prompted.

"Yeah, my friends wanted to see Mari so they asked me to invite her. They're not really the type of people that Marilyn would be interested in."

Nevada immediately raised his eyebrows, informing George that he had made a mistake. "Oh really? What type of people are your friends?"

George scratched his nose and swallowed. "Oh, my friends are just the type of people that are not too popular you know. My friends are waste collectors."

Nevada smiled. "You're lying."

"No I am not lying! My friends just are the type of people that no one likes!" George defended.

"I believe you in that your associates may not have as much charisma as you but I know that they're not waste collectors. What are your friends really?"

George swallowed.

The over-weight one adjusted his glasses and met George's eyes with his hard brown eyes, sending a chill down the aging man's spine. "All your dirty little secrets with a few strokes of a track-pad Graham. Your choice."

George began to sweat as he looked off to the side. C'mon, I have to tell them the truth but not the whole truth somehow. What do they also..."They're um...they're pharmacists!"

Nevada raised his eyebrows in what appeared to be recognition though his voice was devoid of emotion. "Pharmacists? From what I know, pharmacists make a pretty penny; much more than a one-time winner of the lottery-"

"I'll have you know that I've managed to win the lottery-" George began to fume.

"That wasn't the point of my comment I'm afraid. My point was: if they make so much money then why did they have to go through you to make sure Marilyn came?"

"Not as much star power...they-they don't interact with people that often. They only really make the medicine, they're cooped up in the lab all day and-" George stopped immediately once Nevada's eyes widened along with the overweight boy's, causing George's heart to sink even further into the acidic pit known as his stomach.

Nevada feverishly scribbled on his notepad before he began tapping his pen to the side of his face, looking as if nothing of note was ever uttered by George. "So, these friends of yours Graham, they wanted Marilyn to attend so badly so I'm guessing they were at your party. I'm also going to assume that these friends were heterosexual and male?"

George breathed deeply. The kid seemed to see right through him. "Yes, they were."

"So, did these friends of yours request for you to invite other women?"

"Um yes but they only wanted me to send pictures to them of the girls." George answered quickly.

"So Marilyn was a special case?" Nevada inquired pryingly.

George scratched his head. "Well actually occasionally they did come so they could meet some of the ladies in person."

Nevada began to pace across the small, dark motel room which made George even more nervous. "These friends of yours, they're male. Quite shocking actually Mr. Cunningham given your reputation. You must go pretty far back, how did you meet?"

George blinked as his mouth hung open. "...party." he finally answered.

He heard the youngest child snort. 

"Let's switch gears Graham, back to when that was still your legal name." stated Nevada.

George gritted his teeth as his face grew red. "I told you that it is not my-!"

Linnea chuckled again. "And I told you that no matter what a fancy paper says you'll always be the same slimy, disgusting brute that you were fourteen years ago. I experienced that first hand."

George slowly began to stand up. "You little b-" he began to growl.

"Sit down." commanded Nevada. "Or your secrets go out and I break every bone in your body."

"Do you really think I'm afraid of you kid?" growled George.

Nevada tilted his head. "No, I'm aware that you don't fear me. That will make stopping you all the more easier. Sit down, I have more questions, whether your bones are whole or not." he said darkly.

George grumbled and folded his arms.

"Miranda and Mimi Cunningham, your daughters, correct?

"They were Graham's daughters." stated George darkly.

Linnea rolled her eyes.

"Yes, whatever." brushed off Nevada. "What convinced you to move to Elko?"

"Change of scenery. Wanted to try something different." stated George, his voice full of boredom. In his eyes was a dash of regret.

Nevada clicked his tongue. "Change of scenery, huh? You took a warp pipe from World One all the way to World Seven. A mere "change of scenery" doesn't really warrant almost reaching the other ocean."

George frowned. "What do you know? Nevada sure as hell is a different place than Virginia."

"A bit too different. You make it sound like you woke up one morning, said "you, know, let's try Nevada" then packed your family and hit the road. I think something forced you to move here. Miranda was fifteen when she moved, wasn't it hard for her to leave all of her friends behind?" 

George grew red. "Mind your own business."

"I'm a detective. I have chronic snooping disorder, haven't you heard?"  replied Nevada.

George closed his eyes. "We moved because some didn't take too kindly to how I raised my family. They got the fancy idea that they'd call the authorites so we left before they could split us up." he said tightly.

Linnea tilted her head. "That translates to you beat them. You beat them like you beat Cecil and your poor wife because you're an animal."

"I corrcted Miranda because she was hardheaded!" he screamed as his face turned red and his nostrils flared. His eyes were wide, giving him the look of a madman. "Even after we moved she disobeyed me and ran off with that bastard Cecil and got my baby girl fucked up! Her mom was bad too, always taking her side even when she was wrong and she knew it!" he took a deep breath. "I...I understand that I have a temper but you have no idea what it was like to live in that house with them."

Linnea cocked her head with her arms folded. "You always could have left." she said sweetly.

George ran his fingers in his hair and looked around. "No..I couldn't...I...I loved them...I-"

"No you didn't, you wanted to control them and you lost your shit whenever you lost that control, whenever there was a variable that wasn't accounted for. You wanted your family to treat you like a king and so you moved...so you could keep your throne over those who loved you." Linnea hissed.

George frowned. "That isn't true. I...I didn't even put my hands on Miranda that much besides...I changed...Graham is gone...I got help. That man is dead, I've changed."

Linnea smiled. "No, no he's not. You can't change. No matter how much you tell yourself you're different, you'll always be the same man. They can't fix people as nutty as you."

George laughed with a wide smile. "I don't care what you say. I've met a loon before and I'm nothing like them."

"So you came to Elko to get away. Then the bodies started piling up. Graham, are you aware of who commited the murders."

George was silent for a bit. "No, I don't know who commited the murders. I've had my theories such as Honey and Cecil but they're just guesses." he stated. Nevada was about to go on but George kept speaking, gripping his pant leg. "I never wanted my daughters to get hurt and I don't give a damn if that cheeky bitch believes me or not. I didn't approve of my daughter's relationship with that evil motherfucker..."

"That I wholeheartedly understand Mr. Cunningham. You have my sympathy in that regard." stated Nevada. George could see Linnea glaring at her partner.

"But Miranda didn't listen. I tried to keep my cool and ground them instad of putting my hands on them again so I wouldn't have to hear Elise's whining about it. That was a mistake....that was a mistake!" he shouted as he slammed his fist to the ground. "She would have been afraid if I did otherwise, would have stopped her crazy schemes! I catch myself "talking" to hert hen she runs off with Cecil and my baby. She comes back crying, saying her sister is gone so I break that vampire-looking boy. Like the moron she was Elise calls the cops on me. The cops take the kid and Elise never lets me hear the end of it!"

Linnea stood there, shaking slightly.

George put a hand on his face. "Then Honey sues us for all we have, then Mimi comes back fucked up..." he choked. "...then Miranda and her evil-ass boyfriend take my baby girl and run away, then Elise divorced me..."

"After you beat her." stated Linnea in a restrained voice.

"Then you went to Las Vegas and became rich." stated Nevada.

George was silent.

"How much money did you win?" asked Nevada.

"A billion dollars."

Nevada blinked then sighed. "Okay, let's say you can win a billion dollars at a casino. You would have lost all of your money a long time ago due to your parties."

"I was trying to tell you that I frequently hit the jackpot at casinos!"

Nevada blinked. "You constantly hit the jackpot at the casinos. Could you repeat that because the preposterousness of that statement is actually kind of beautiful. Now tell me, how do you really have so much money?"

George squirmed.

"These pharmacist friends of yours, when did you become acquainted with them?"

George  remained silent.

The fat one smiled deviously as he took his bookbag off his back, placed it on the ground then took out an Acer laptop. George listened to the clicks disheartedly.

"We can do this the easy way Graham, just tell me what I want to know."

George laughed nervously. "I bet you are just bluffing."

Nevada shrugged as the clicking continued. He turned around as his spectacled associate walked towards him with the laptop in hand, like a waiter handing a guest the most exquisite steak on a silver platter. Nevada took the laptop then squatted as he turned it around and showed it to George Cunning causing his face to go become as white milk. On the screen was an official record about him abusing his wife and the ensuing divorce.

"That's barely the tip of the iceberg. Although you'll undoubtably argue that was a long time ago and that you've changed radically from that point in time, I assure you, we have so much dirt on you that they'll need a backhoe to reach you." Nevada intimidated.

"Fine, okay! I'll talk!" George frantically squawked. He sighed. "I get the money from my friends, I...I met them shortly after Elise's death. As you guessd, I didn't win the lottery. I was in a motel, they promised me a fresh start, a new life, a happy life, a luxurious life with the aid of their cash and the only thing they asked in return was for me to do them favors." explained George.

Nevada raised his eyebrows. "What kind of favors?"

"Just introducing them to beautiful women like Marilyn."

"Then what do they do after they're introduced?"

George smiled. "Just chat. If all goes well they date."

"Your friends like dating frequently?"

"Oh yeah, like I said, cooped up in labs all day remember? Always asking me to hook them up or give them some pics."

"What kinds of women would you say your friends like?" asked Nevada.

"Intelligent women." answered George. He could sense an electrified aura radiating from each of the children. "Because ya' know, they're the scienc-y types."

Nevada nodded. "Could you give me some of the names of woman you remember from your parties?" Nevada then jotted down the names as they were told.

"Thank you. Now for another question, did your friend become romantically involved with Mari-"

"No, it did not work out. My friend was pretty peeved about Marilyn not being interested in him."

Nevada smiled. "That's unfortunate to hear. One last question," Nevada took out the picture of Alexander Louis from a briefcase and showed it to George who seemed to flinch slightly. "Do you know this man?"

George shook his head. "No, I've never met him." he said.

"Quite alright. Okay." Nevada looked around at his associates. "I think we're done here."

...

Nevada leaned back in his chair and faced the cieling with his eyes closed and his arms folded as the group once again rode the bus with Toto's Africa playing on the radio. The sun was sinking in the sky but Nevada didn't fret for he felt that his day was well spent gaining valuable information from his target. The interogation went swimmingly and bore him clues he never would have dreamed. Everyone was impressed with his performance but none were as impressed as Linnea who told him that he "was pretty cool back there".

Linnea smiled in satisfaction. She was happy that she would be able to get her revenge on George Cunning.

Nevada visualized the new information in his mind. Marilyn was invited to one of George Cunning's parties on behest of his "friends" who were interested in her due to her intelligence, these friends are apparently pharmacists (like Kilra Familton) who are cooped up in the lab all day (like Marilyn's boyfriend), these friends often request for him to invite specific women, the friends were made shortly after the Miranda Cunningham case and are the reason George is so rich, at George's party Marilyn became involved with one of George's friends...

Nevada opened his eyes. The Doctor searched the names he provided, some of the women just disappeared never to be heard of again after attending his parties, just like some of the victims in the last stretch of the Miranda Cunningham case. It can't be a coincidence. George was financially aided by the Elko killer in order to easily obtain more victims. There are probably more than one since he was careful to refer to them as "friends" plurally. These friends are pharmacists much like Kilra Familton whose house harbored evidence from the Miranda Cunningham case. They are also described as being "cooped up in the lab all day" much like a comment that the man on Marilyn's phone made. One of George's "friends" became involved with Marilyn about a year ago and as far as we know they were together until her death. So, I did it. We did it. We finally tied these two cases together. If only Liam would answer his phone...

Nevada looked at his phone anxiously. No matter, I'll see him soon enough.

Nevada turned and looked at the floor of the aisle, prompting Dr. Miracle to turn as well. Nevada looked intently at the floor as if there was a giant board sitting there.

"Although there are still some missing Doctor, we collected a great deal of pieces to this puzzle today and I've been able to connect them. In the very least, we connected one side of the big picture to the other." Nevada smiled. "Yes, what we have here is definitely the begginings of a jigsaw..."

Chapter Eight: What Friends Are ForEdit

By the time Nevada Johnson had walked to the Super Detective Agency after disembarking from the bus at Dekel & Del high school, the sun was already two-thirds under the horizon. Due to this, Nevada quite enjoyed his walk home during the cool dusk. The temperature and scenery helped his nerves which were bad as a result of Liam still not answering his phone.

Nevada felt his body go cold as he looked at the various windows of the detective agency. All dark. His face taut, the teenage detective unlocked the wooden door and entered before closing the door behind him, the darkness tightly hugging him. His nose was penetrated by the familiar smell of papers, ink and cologne.

Nevada flicked on the light-switch that was to the left of the front door which illuminated the stairs that led to the upper floor and the wooden coat stand which lacked Liam's coat.

"Liam, I'm home." called Nevada, faintly expecting his mentor to respond. Nevada waited ten seconds for a response before hanging his head dissolutely. Nevada placed his blazer and fedora on the coat stand.

"Liam?" Nevada called as he began venturing further into the dark agency, turning on lights as he walked. Nevada searched for any sign of Liam and was about to try to call him again once his search yielded no results before he saw a twenty-dollar bill on the kitchen bar along with a note.

Nevada quickly read the note. 

Dear Nevada,

I apologize for not being here at the moment. I was unexpectedly summoned to a council once again with The Chief of Police and The Coroner among others to discuss the nature of Marilyn's case along with discussion of the Miranda Cunningham mystery. By tomorrow morning, we are to establish without a shadow of a doubt the nature of this case and determine where to go from there. I'm aware that these past few days have been stressful for both of us so I don't hold anything against you. Maybe tomorrow everything will go back to the way it was or maybe it won't. As good we both are with probability, we don't know what the future holds. I haven't been able to answer my phone as a result of the meeting but we should be getting a break at night. I've left twenty dollars on the counter for food.

Yours Truly,

Liam

Nevada blinked once he read the note then turned to the ceiling. Why are they also acknowledging Miranda's case? I suppose it's just to kill two birds with one stone but why would The Coroner need to be there for that? Nevada shook his head. It hardly matters I suppose. What matters is that I've managed to tie these two cases together. I'll try to tell Liam now.

Nevada quickly got out his phone and dialed Liam's number, waiting for him to answer.

"Hello Nevada." answered Liam, sounding somewhat tired.

"Hello Liam."

"You caught me at a perfect time. We just called for a small break but I won't be able to talk for long. What do you need? Is it urgent?"

"Yes, I managed to connect the two cases. It's a bit of a long story."

"I'm not sure if I have the time to listen to the unabridged story but this is definitely important so give me the vitals."

Nevada nodded. "Okay. Graham Cunningham, now known as George Cunning is friends with the Elko Killer or killers as he refers to them as "friends". These friends aid him financially an in turn her introduces them to women. One said women in Marilyn who was invited to one of his parties about a year ago and became involved with one of these friends, this I know due to a recording on her phone which matches the description of the friends. Those are the essentials."

Nevada could practically sense the chill that had invaded Liam's spine. "Okay Nevada. I'll get the full-story later but I know that you have something to prove such claims." Nevada heard Liam faintly sigh. "The problem is that information doesn't really help me with our current discussion. We still need to agree on the nature of this case. I'm running a bit short on time so..."

Nevada immediately latched on to the topic of Liam's discussion. So now we have to prove that Marilyn was killed. "Liam, could I invite a few friends over?" Nevada quickly interrupted.

"Friends?" Liam chuckled. "Are you trying to invite Linnea over by any chance?"

"No, of course not!" Nevada answered bashfully, quickly growing red and hot. "No, male friends. Just for the night."

"It just seems so unlike you. I don't see why not at long as their parents are fine with it."

"Great. Thank you Liam."

"You're welcome Nev." Liam responded warmly before hanging up.

Nevada hopped on the stool and dialed Pent's number. "Hello Pent. Listen, I know you've been with me constantly for the past couple of days but would you care to have a sleepover at The Super Detect-"

Nevada smiled. "I'm glad you're so enthusiastic. Sure, you can bring some video games." answered Nevada. "I'll be waiting." Nevada said before hanging up the phone and sighing. He was glad that Pent was so eager to come over because Nevada would be wary of going to someone else's home.

Nevada then dialed Dr. Miracle's number. "Good evening Doctor, how are you? That's good to hear. Listen, I understand if you decline but would you care to join me and Pent for a slumber party at-"

Nevada grew red. "What do you mean it's not called a slumber party? Anyway, would you care to join us? I encourage you to also bring your laptop? Okay, I'll wait." Nevada folded his arms and tapped his foot before he heard the doctor speak again.  "Okay, terrific." Nevada chuckled. "Yes, I know I didn't invite Marvel. Okay, see you soon."

Nevada hung up the phone then briskly walked upstairs to freshen up and put on more comfortable clothes in anticipation for his guests.

...

Liam sat on the bed of his hotel room which was soft as fifteen kittens. The room was illuminated a drowsy yellow thanks to his lamp which sat on a night stand next to his pillow. The shades to his window were open, allowing him to see the sun sink below the horizon, eagerly anticipating rest after a long day's work of staying hot and high in the sky. Thanks to the sun's slow departure, the sky was a mystical dark purple. As Liam looked into the sky, he couldn't help but allow his mind to be bombarded with memories, the very memories Nevada had helped to chase away. For a second Liam found himself laying next to Marilyn Apricot and turned his head to look out their window and see the same shade of purple, the color of their undying love to each other...

Liam blinked and turned his head, seeing that he was still in his homely hotel room in The City of Sparks. He chuckled, immediately trying to think of something else. It was so unlike Nevada to invite friends over, Liam was taken quite aback. Ever since Liam had taken in Nevada he was always so introverted and aloof though Liam admitted that the detective life, Nevada trying to emulate him, and the home-schooling were the likely factors in this. Despite these barriers, Nevada was making friends and that delighted Liam to no end.

Liam smirked and folded his arms with a smile. Next thing I know, Nev will be at some rambunctious wild-teen party, making my nightmares a reality as he has sex, drinks and gets into fights. Liam laughed loudly before stifling it into a chuckle. Who am I fooling? I know Nevada much better than that. I'm just joyed that he's having fun with people his age.

Liam's stomach growled, prompting him to stand up and unfold his jacket which was folded into a neat square at the corner of his bed. He put it on and walked towards the door, eager to get a good meal in during his break.

You always had that uncanny ability Lyn. The ability to open people up and make them become friendly. Even in death you're bringing people together.

Liam sighed as he opened his door. Soon though, I'll have to end this little charade and repress all these memories so I can go back to being great detective that everyone takes me as.

Liam frowned. And maybe this time, just maybe, you won't come back to haunt me. The door closed ominously.

...

Nevada wore brown pajama pants with a tan-striped, brown button-up pajama shirt as he heard the doorbell to The Super Detective Agency ring, the classy buzz of the Westminster Quarters echoing throughout the building. Nevada clumsily sprang from his position on the couch like a wounded cougar and sprinted towards the front door.

Dr. Miracle raised his eyebrows as he looked at the wild-eyed young detective. He chuckled in his sleeveless white shirt and gray jogging pants. "Did you invite me over to beat up a murderer or somethin' Nevada?" he asked with a smile.

Nevada laughed while shaking his head. "No, come on in."

Dr. Miracle entered, closing the door after him as he wrinkled his nose at the odd paper and cologne scent.

"You can put your bag on this table here." suggested Nevada, referring to the table in front of the black couch, prompting Dr. Miracle to drop his heavy gray duffel bag onto the table with a rattle.

Dr. Miracle marveled at the kitchen's bar and the large flat screen television. "This is a pretty sweet crib you got here Nevada. So this is also the agency?" Dr. Miracle asked in awe.

"It certainly is." Nevada scratched his head. "That's why it smells like old papers and ink."

"That explains it. What about the cologne?"

Nevada shrugged sheepishly. "Liam likes smelling fresh."

Dr. Miracle laughed. "Okay. Now I'm imagining him as a wannabe Casanova."

Nevada folded his arms. "Just because he doesn't want to smell like a pigsty?"

"He could have just used body wash but whatever. So, is there any food?" Dr. Miracle pushed his glasses up on his acne-ridden face. "I hate to sound like a pig but I'm a big man so I have to eat. Pent's a big man too, not as big as me but still big."

Nevada walked into the kitchen, raising his voice so his company could hear him clearly. "I'm going to order pizza but I'm going to wait until Pent gets here. In the meantime there are some fruit you could eat."

"Any oranges?"

"Yes, would you like one?"

Dr. Miracle nodded. "Toss me one." he said before Nevada tossed him an orange, prompting the doctor to begin peeling it as soon as he caught it.

Nevada slumped down on the couch after returning from the kitchen with a white bowl full of red grapes. After swallowing some, Nevada asked, "Did you bring your laptop?"

"Never leave...really anywhere without it." answered Dr. Miracle as he continued to peel his orange.

"Good." answered Nevada in satisfaction.

Dr. Miracle raised his eyebrows. Why do you need my...he quickly shook his head. Bah, whatever. I'll find out when I find out.

The two made small talk while waiting for Pent to arrive. Nevada turned on the television and turned on the rest of the lights to make the house more festive and welcoming.

It was silent for a bit before Nevada spoke up again. "Doctor...?"

"Please Nevada, you can call me Miracle since we're not working." 

Nevada gave a small, sheepish laugh before continuing. "Why did you agree to come? You've been with me for the past day now, don't you want a break?"

Dr. Miracle smiled. "Well it's not like you're annoying, you're actually pretty cool and I admire you for your work. It's also like I said, we're not working so it'll be fun just to chill with you and Pent for a bit. We need some downtime."

Nevada smiled sheepishly while scratching his head. Even though Pent lived closer, it was taking him a while to arrive.

"I'm just curious. What is Marvels relationship to you? Is he just some friend, because he's awfully young and-"

Dr. Miracle pointed a finger at Nevada. "Hey, he's a lot smarter than he looks all right? Besides, I need a successor and to train em' I need to get em' early, kind of like you and Liam from what I've heard. To answer your question, he is my friend and he is my cousin too. I don't think his folks would be cool with me if I was just some random dude off the street."

Nevada nodded in understanding. "I see. So technological know-how runs in the family?"

Dr. Miracle absently tapped on the side of his green glasses. "I 'spose so."

Westminster Quarters echoed throughout the house and Nevada jogged to the front door, opening it to see Pent in a red tank-top and very small black athletic shorts.

"Nev-man!" cried Pent as he engulfed his friend in a tight bear hug. Nevada stumbled backwards and fell to the ground on the stairs.

"Glad to see you too Pent..." wheezed Nevada.

With a slight frown, Dr. Miracle closed the door behind his friend. "Don't kill 'im Pent."

Pent released his friend from his choke-hug and stood up, breathing heavily before dropping his black book-bag to the ground. "It's just good to see you man!"

Nevada slowly rose on the first stair and brushed himself off. "It wasn't too long since I saw you last."

Pent put his hands behind his head. "I know but you look so relaxed! Like you're ready to just chill with us." he flicked his finger across his nose. "And I'm your chill guy! I brought a bunch of games and systems!"

Nevada blinked as he looked at the bulging book-bag.

Dr. Miracle tried to suppress his laughter as he looked at Pent's shorts. "What's up with the booty-shorts Pent!?"

Pent folded his arms. "I was in a rush okay? Besides, this'll keep me up."

Dr. Miracle laughed. "And it'll roast your unborn Pent Juniors alive."

"Ha-ha." laughed Pent sarcastically. "You know my top priority names are Cloud, Mario, Pentette and Kratos."

Nevada raised his eyebrows. "Pentette?" he asked disapprovingly, ignoring the three video-game themed names.

Pent waved his hands in dismissal. "Whatever, I can convince you my name ideas are awesome later." Pent rubbed his stomach. "Now I just want some chow. A big-man gotta eat you know." he said heartily.

Dr. Miracle sighed and folded his arms as he looked at Nevada.

Nevada scratched his head with a sigh and a smile. "I'll order the pizza in a jiffy." he stated, earning his a fist-pump from Pent. "In the meantime, we can all watch Spongebob in the living room."

The three began to make their way to the television.

"Old or new?" asked Dr. Miracle.

"Old, the only ones worth watching." stated Nevada.

Dr. Miracle folded his arms and nodded with a smile. "Now that, I can agree with."

"But you guys, there a some new Spongebob episodes that-"

Dr. Miracle put his palm to his forehead. "We are not starting this argument back up again Pent!"

...

Liam took off his hat as he entered the crowded restaurant. He nostrils were teased with the aroma of one of his favorite types of food, Chinese food. He sat on a stool near at the counter, where the stools next to him were empty. He sighed in relief. It was so noisy here that he wouldn't be able to hear himself think about Marilyn. In the corner of his eye he saw three people enter the restaurant. One was a tall, pale man with black-tinted round glasses, another a short man with square glasses and long hair and the other a strapping young man who looked not much older than eighteen. The tall man seemed to move towards the empty stools, before seeming to see Liam then hesitate, staying in place near the door before sinking to a seat near a table and flipping open a magazine. The two other men walked towards Liam then sat on the stools.

"You don't mind if we sit here do you?" asked the handsome man with blonde hair. He sounded like a stereotypical surfer.

Liam smiled slightly. "Not at all."

The short man stretched his arms. "Great because I didn't feel like moving anyway." said the man with a smile.

Liam smiled politely and turned to face forward at the menu and began pondering what he'd order, shutting out the banging on pans and the busy flutter of people in the kitchen. What he couldn't ignore was him feeling the short man's gaze on his neck, causing Liam to turn slightly.

"You looked pretty gussied up, what's the occasion?" asked the short man.

"Oh, just a boring business meeting." answered Liam.

The short man smiled while slanting his eyebrows. "Those are the worst especially when you have no power and you're just being bossed around!"

Liam smiled. "I can attest to that. It's especially stressful when no one is getting particularly far."

"Are you a mind reader or something?" the man laughed.

"No, though I suppose I'm a bit similar to one. It comes with the trade." answered Liam.

"And what would the trade be?" asked the man, prompting the other man to turn in his stool slightly and raise his eyebrows.

Liam sensed this reaction and hesitated ever-so-slightly before answering as a result. He gauged his situation, weighing the advantages and disadvantages of revealing his identity to these men.

"I solve mysteries." he finally answered.

"So, you're a detective." responded the short man.

"I most certainly am."

"Like Sherlock Holmes?" asked the blond man.

Liam nodded as his stomach's savior, a beautiful young waitress appeared in front of the trio. Liam ordered his shrimp fried rice with sweet and sour chicken, an egg roll and a fortune cookie while the other two ordered rice and dumplings.

"I love Sherlock Holmes," stated the blond man, continuing the conversation. "I read a bunch of his stories as a kid. I just love to unlock the mysteries of life."

"I like solving puzzles as well, though to be honest my main drive for carrying out my work is helping people and making sure criminals are punished." answered Liam thoughtfully.

"What if people can't be helped though? What if you need to turn your back on them?" responded the blond man

Liam scrunched his face. "If they can't be helped? I'm not sure I follow."

"What if people are given every opportunity to improve but the squander it, making the same mistakes? Why would you waste your time on them?" asked the blond man, growing more hot and impassioned.

Liam was about to counter the man's response when the saw the short man sternly shaking his head. 

"Sorry, my friend had a bad day at work. Don't mind him."

"It's quite all right. He has some interesting ideas. By the way, what is your trade?"

"Oh," the short man said quickly before scratching his head. Even though the man's face was neutral Liam had no trouble telling that his question had made the man uncomfortable. "I work in pharmaceuticals."

"Pharmaceuticals, huh? That sounds interesting." stated Liam with a nod.

The short man gave a bitter snort. "You don't have to sit there and lie. It's pretty boring."

Before speaking again, Liam noticed the look of resentment on the short man's friend's face. "I actually do believe it's interesting, it reminds me of alchemy." Liam explained with a smile as he put his hand to his cheek. "Besides, it must be interesting if your friend is so upset."

The handsome, blond man smiled darkly. Liam felt both awe and fear radiate from the man who looked not too much older than his own partner. "The most boring things can piss people off sometimes."

"Believe us, it's boring." concluded the short man.

"Well it must be worth it after you see how much you've helped people." said Liam.

The short man looked away and folded his arms with a sigh. "Not really if what we make is abused. It honestly seems like we-"

The man shook his head and looked ahead at the menu. Liam decided against prying him out of respect. Their waitress returned with their drinks, her smile as lovely as a drifting cherry blossom in Spring.

Liam took a sip of his Wild Cherry Pepsi, careful not to drink too much at once. 

After a swig of Baiju, a strong distilled spirit, the short man gave a laugh, in much better spirits. "Do you eat Chinese often?"

Liam poked out his lips and drummed his fingers on the counter before quickly answering. "Fairly often. Me and my friend love it and we order take out after a long day." he explained with a slight smile of sentiment as he thought of his young ward.

The short man scooted near Liam with a sly smile. "Is this a close friend?"

The young blond man drank a bit of his lemonade after Liam had drank some more of his soda. "Yes, the closest. We're like two peas in a pod." answered Liam

The blond man smirked. "So is he like your Watson?"

Liam gave a titter. "Yes, I suppose you could say he is my Watson though one day soon I'm sure he'll surpass me." Liam said hopeful.

The blond man raised his eyebrows. "How can you say that he'll surpass you if you're so quick to call him your "Watson"?"

"Well, we were making Sherlock Holmes analogies. My friend isn't a simple sidekick, he's much more unique and independent than that. He's not some upstart, the position he's in, he's earned."

The blond man pursed his lips a bit and swirled his glass. "You think highly of this friend of yours."

"Wrong, I know highly of this friend of mine." Liam stated with a cocky smile.

The blond man rolled his eyes. "That's so sweet. So do you two always get along?"

Liam chortled before frowning with a shake of the head. "No, we're usually on the same wave-length but we do not always see eye-to-eye, especially as of late." stated Liam glumly.

Genuine sadness crept into the short man's face. "What happened?"

Liam sighed. "It's just..." Liam paused, trying to find the correct the correct word to explain Liam-Nevada's current spat that was petering out. "...some girl." he finished finally.

The short man sneered. "Bitches man! I tell ya', they fuck everything up!" he growled.

Liam blinked, taken aback by the short man's sudden anger. "Did something happen to you?" asked Liam in concern.

The short man sighed as he took off his glasses and examined them. "What hasn't happened to me? Though to be fair...I guess it wasn't really her fault..." he mused.

"Care to share?" asked Liam.

The short man shook his head but nevertheless continued the discussion. "'Fraid there's not much to share. I had the hots for this really amazing woman but...due to...complications things turned ugly. The less said the better." he sighed.

Both Liam and the blond man's minds lit up though they expertly concealed this change. They immediately latched on to what the short man said and were about to respond though Liam had spoke first. 

"How did you two meet?" asked Liam. He wasn't quite sure why that was what he asked, it was just the first thing to come in mind and it seemed important to him even though these two men were completely random.

The short man was about to answer when the other man shook his head in reprimanding, prompting the short man to bit his lip.

"A friend introduced me to her." he stated, saying the word "friend" as if it were the most reviled beast.

"I see." responded Liam absently as he turned away. The blond man blew out of his nose annoyedly as he shot his partner a glare. The man shrugged boredly as he regarded his fingers.

"Sorry for the wait, here's your food." apologized the waitress with a melting smile as she brought the hungry and thoughtful men their long awaited meals.

"Thank you." Liam replied as the lithe waitress walked away from them

The waitress quickly turned around, her long, jet black hair whipping the air. "You're very welcome." she said.

The short man whistled at the woman before turning to his steaming food hungrily. "Itadakimasu!" he cried as he clapped his hands together.

Liam chuckled. "I'm pretty sure that's Japanese."

"Oh, well phooey!" the short man laughed.

And so they three ate and as Liam ate he felt a piercing, malevolent gaze on his back from the entrance of the noisy restaurant.

...

Pent ate his sixth slice of pizza just as fervently as he ate his last and Dr. Miracle ate his fourth slice with the half-smile he was often seen wearing. Nevada finished his fourth slice with a careful pat from his handkerchief that he kept in his pocket. The party was a success so far, with everyone's spirits higher than the thermosphere. The Super Detective Agency was the building with the most cheer in Haven that night. Most of the worries regarding the two cases floated away as the children enjoyed the television, the food, the drinks and each other's company. Even Nevada's nervousness had subsided for the most part. Nevada was still a bit tense as he anticipated his friends' reaction to the next part of the night. As they began to run out of their dearly beloved pizza, their chosen topic was Nevada's birthday. They had already found out that they were exceptionally good at bouncing ideas off of each other.

"So Nev, your birthdays only in a few weeks?" asked Pent.

"Yes." answered Nevada.

"When is it anyway? I'd love to come to your party." replied Dr. Miracle.

Nevada scratched his head. "It's July fourth but I really don't have parties..." stated Nevada.

Dr. Miracle blinked in shock. "Your birthday's The Fourth?" Dr. Miracle shook his head. "Hopefully I don't have a barbecue to go to."

"What do you mean you don't really have parties?" asked an utterly bewildered Pent, emphasizing the word "mean".

Nevada gave a small shrug. "Not many people would come.." explained Nevada neutrally.

"Well I'll help set up something! You just need to have a party Nev!" cried Pent.

"It's really not a big deal." said Nevada with a smile.

"That's the talk of someone who doesn't have parties! If you had you wouldn't say "it's really not a big deal." countered Pent, mocking Nevada's slightly dry and unimpassioned voice.

Dr. Miracle took Nevada's wrist causing the latter to jump slightly before Dr. Miracle rolled it down slightly, revealing the brilliant gold that circled his wrist like an expensive ouroboros. "So Liam got you this for your last birthday?" gawked Dr. Miracle.

Nevada smiled. "Sure did." he confirmed proudly.

Dr. Miracle retracted and stroked his chin, where fine hairs where beginning to grow like new, black grass. "It's gonna' cost a pretty penny to top or even match that one."

"You don't have to-" began Nevada.

"No, I won't have Liam get you a giant fancy TV or somethin' while I just get you some lousy card." stated Dr. Miracle as he folded his arms.

Nevada chuckled nervously. "It's going to be hard to top Liam when it comes to spending money Miracle."

"Oh, I know. If it were easy it wouldn't feel so darn cozy in here." he replied, arms still folded.

"Well I bet Nevada will be cool with our gifts as long as he knows we took time to pick it out and it was from someone who cared." smiled Pent. "I bet that's the real reason you like that watch so much."

Nevada marveled at the watch. "You're absolutely right Pent." confirmed Nevada softly.

"Liam must really care about you, to spend that much money on a birthday gift." said Pent.

Nevada nodded thoughtfully. "He sure does, we're really close and he's only been kind to me these past three years."

"Past three years?" asked Dr. Miracle curiously.

Nevada nodded. "Yes, I've known him for three years since my parents disappeared."

"Wait, wait, wait. Your parents just vanished?" asked Pent.

Nevada folded his arms. "It certainly seems like it. I originally joined Liam in order to find my parents but...soon I guess I sort of..." Nevada breathed and closed his eyes.

"Forgot about them?" finished Pent quietly.

Nevada nodded. "As stupid as that sounds. I suppose...Liam filled the void, serving as my parent." he explained.

"But to just forget about them?" countered Dr. Miracle before being stopped by Pent putting his hand on his shoulder and shaking his head sternly as if to say "don't you see talking about his parents and Liam in relation to each other upsets him?".

The three sat on the living room couch in an awkward silence that was almost tangible. The comforting yellow light of the room and the sound of the television contrasted with the oppression in the air. As usual, Pent was the one to break free of the silence.

"C'mon let's play some video games!" exclaimed Pent. "That'll cheer everyone up. I say Smash Bros.!"

Dr. Miracle smiled fiercely. "Heck yeah! Just don't cry too hard when I mop the floor with you again Pent."

"Oh please, I could take both of you on!" bragged Pent

"Oh yeah?!" challenged Dr. Miracle.

"Yeah!" answered Pent loudly.

"Um, Miracle?" began Nevada shakily, growing hot.

Dr. Miracle turned towards the young detective. "What's up Nev?"

"I was just wondering if I could use your laptop."

"Sure, what do you need it for?"

"Oh, you know, to search for things."

Dr. Miracle raised his eyebrows. "Are you all right?"

"Yes, I'm fine."

Pent raised his eyebrows with a sly smile. "What exactly do you need to search on Miracle's laptop Nevada?" he asked.

Nevada frowned as he blushed. "Don't get the wrong idea Penter!"

Dr. Miracle threw out his hands. "Then why are you nervous?"

Nevada sighed and turned away. "I...look, I deceived you, okay? The truth is, after talking to Liam, I determined more work needs to be done on the case and seeing how much we've uncovered together, I decided I needed your help. We need to prove without a doubt that Marilyn's death was murder." he explained, his throat tight, his heart anxious.

And there it was, the disappointment as clear on their faces as their noses. Their hopes for movies, games and talking were ruthlessly shot down by Nevada.

Pent, always being the devout bearer of hope, spoke up. "Can't we take a day off? I mean c'mon, we've worked hard."

"That's not how being a detective works." snapped Nevada is annoyance. Nevada sighed. "That coupled with the fact that both cases are on borrowed time means that we have no time for rest."

Dr. Miracle closed his eyes and frowned. "So, you lied to us?" he asked harshly. He shook his head. "Whatever, fine."

"Hey!" cried out Pent as he threw his hands in front of him as he stood up and faced Nevada, frowning. "Fine, whatever, we keep working on the case but that doesn't mean we can't also have fun. We'll spend some time on the case and some just having a sleepover like we thought we would!"

Dr. Miracle folded his arms in contempt. "Didn't you hear Nevada? We don't have much time left." he snorted.

"We pull an all-nighter! You're a detective Nevada, don't you stay up late?"

"Occasionally." answered Nevada. "But we need to be up in the morning to-"

"Work, work, work. Fine, we'll drink coffee or somethin' but we are going to have fun tonight! After we've solved these cases I'm forcing you on a break man!" said Pent.

"Crime doesn't work that way." Nevada rebutted blankly.

"Okay, we'll talk later but now it's time to sleuth and party! Miracle, you open your laptop, Nev, you hook up my Gamecube." Pent's phone rang shrilly. He smiled sheepishly as he stalked off towards the stairs. "And I'll take this call then join you guys!"

...

With the last ounce of his dark soda that he used to wash done his meal, Liam satisfyingly finished his delectable dinner. Liam carefully wiped his face clean with his embroidered handkerchief. Next to him, the short man finished his dinner with a loud slurp then a sigh. His face was slightly red.

To any other person, the short man's speech would have sounded perfectly normal but due to Liam acutely listening to said man talk throughout his duration of his stay, he could detect a slight slur to the man's words.

"Was that good grub or what!?" the short man smiled heartily.

Liam returned his neighbor's smile. "It most definitely was. I love Chinese food." he stated.

The short man nodded smugly before snapping and pointing to the detective. "You've got good tastes." he complimented. The short man grabbed his glass of the strong alcohol.

"Don't you think you've had enough?" asked the blond man darkly. So far, he had been able to hide his emotions fairly well but the annoyance in his face and voice were all too apparent, especially to Liam Tailey.

"Nope." answered the short man curtly. "I've had a bad day at work, 'member?"

"Well you don't see me-" the handsome man began to growl before the short man downed the rest of his Baiju with a cough and a laugh.

"You sure seem to be in good spirits." observed Liam.

The short man chuckled "Yeah, I am and it's good too since like I said, I had a pretty crappy day at work."

"You definitely didn't seem morose when you arrived."

"Yeah well I'm good at hiding it." the short man sighed then shook his head. "But I'm better now, see?"

"Why was your day at work so dismal anyway?" asked Liam.

Liam immediately noticed that the handsome man's face grew taut and the short man freeze for a split second before he blew a breath with a frown upon his face.

"Nothing major, co-worker being an ungrateful moron who didn't know their place so we needed to have a stern little talk with them." stated the short man bitterly.

Liam tapped his fingers on the counter, unsure if his question was sound or not. He made an internal shrug before asking, "What did they do that wronged you so?"

The short man's face turned as dark as night as he rolled his eyes, shook his head and sighed. "Let me tell ya', that bitch decided he'd sp-"

The handsome man's face twisted into an ugly grimace, filled with so much disgust that it caused Liam's blood to curdle. The man turned his poisoning gaze to his companion who simply raised his eyebrow.

The blond man looked at Liam, now simply frowning. "We aren't entailed to reveal company secrets to outsiders." stated the blond man flatly.

"Sorry." grumbled the short man.

Liam smiled. "That's quite all right. So that boring business meeting, was it about the co-worker?" he asked.

"Not all of it." said the short man. "The parts about him were kind of interestin' actually but yeah, most of the meeting ended up being dealing with him."

The handsome man shot the short man a glare. "Didn't I just say that we can't-"

"Oh, come on! Big whoop! Now that he knows that a meeting is about someone he doesn't know doing something he doesn't know, he'll know all of the company secrets! Gimme' a break!" hissed the short man.

"Yes but we should be extra careful when-" he trailed off.

Liam raised his hands with a concerned smile upon his face. "Please, it isn't my intention to generate animosity between you two. Honestly, I don't mind not knowing, don't let me be a bother."

The short chuckled before taking off his glasses. His voice was quiet and he wore a slightly eerie smile that intrigued Liam. "Ya' know...you remind me of him, a friend of mine. You remind me of him because the way you both talk, real sophisticated like, the same words and everything, both of you very intellectual just by the words you use but you two are also very different..." the short man looked at his glass, eager for a drink then remembering that it was empty. He still brought it to his face, thirstily drinking the droplet that entered the opening known as his mouth. "The way you say the words are different. To me, he sounds like a phony when using his words like he's trying his hardest to be something he's not while you sound genuine. He's so cold and detached whenever he talks like some sort of robot. You just get a chill whenever the guy says anything and he's blunter than me. You on the other hand, sound so warm and inviting when you talk, so friendly."

Liam smiled. "I'm flattered that you feel that way though I have to ask, why is he your friend if you what you said about him is true?"

The short man sighed as he rubbed his glasses then put them back on his rectangular face. He put his chin on his fist and gazed forward with a click of his tongue, searching for a reason. "I...he...we go far back."

"Is that justification for a unsatisfying friendship?" asked Liam.

The short man chuckled. "It sure isn't."

"Was he different when you two met?" asked Liam.

"No, not really." replied the short man.

"Then why did you become friends in the first place?" asked Liam.

The short man closed his eyes. "I don't know...necessity?"

Liam nodded but before he could speak, the blond man spoke again.

"Who's the ungrateful one now? After all he did for-" the blond man said in annoyance.

"Oh hush, like I asked for half the things-" began the short man

"He's a friend of yours as well?" asked Liam, turning to the handsome man.

The handsome man blinked. "Yeah, he is."

"So is he a friend from work?" Liam asked.

The blond man shook his head. "No, he's not."

Liam nodded thoughtfully. 

"Do you have a girl?"asked the short man suddenly.

"Excuse me?" Liam asked confusedly.

"Girlfriend, wife, that sorta' thing." he explained.

Liam blushed slightly. "Oh, no." he then chuckled. "Unfortunately I have the most rotten luck with women. Or maybe I just don't want to be in a relationship with a woman. I'm not asexual nor homosexual, it's just that I lost the love of my life to a stupid mistake." he explained dismally.

The short man gave a single and loud laugh, causing several people to turn their heads in his direction. Liam raised an annoyed eyebrow.

The short man waved a hand. "I'm sorry, I know it sounds like I'm laughing at you but I'm laughing with you because you're just like me! I lost the girl I had the hots for because of a stupid mistake too!" he shook his head with a bitter smile. "That's life for you, opportunities robbed because of the stupid mistakes of others then we have to waste most of our time fixing those mistakes then along the way more mistakes happen then so many mistakes happen that you wonder if it's all just a stupid mistake." he buried his face in his hands. "You wonder, if the path you're on is just a mistake that you can't fix since you're so far in."

The blond man frowned. "I think it's time we-"

Liam put a reassuring hand on the short man's back, causing him to lift his face away from his hands. "Although I don't really like to dabble in the unscientific, I just have one word for you my friend: destiny. It's destiny that put you on the path you're on, it isn't a mistake, it's simply the force of destiny."

"What if destiny makes you a rotten person?" asked the short man bitterly.

Liam's eyes widened slightly, taken aback by the question. There's something that's eating this man. "Then it will ultimately be so destiny can make a great good happen, by using the bad as a tool to put the good into motion."

The short man raised his eyebrows. "Do you really believe that?" he asked dryly.

Liam chuckled and scratched his head sheepishly.

"Good and bad are really subjective terms." said the handsome man. He raised his eyebrows with a smile as he looked at his companion. "Are you going through mid-life crisis?"

"No, shut up!" barked the short man.

"Oh, I've been meaning to ask. You have an accent, where are you from exactly?" asked Liam.

The handsome man blinked. "Minnesota." he answered quickly.

Liam nodded. He's lying. I know that's definitely not a Minnesotan accent. If I'm to guess, I'd say that's Californian if anything. Liam turned to the short man. Though he's definitely from here.

The short man stretched. "I can't wait to get out of here."

"I thought you liked Chinese food." stated Liam.

"No, not this joint, I'm talking about this place in general, Nevada." he explained.

Liam ignored the comment about his beloved state. "You're moving away?"

"We're only here for the meeting." said the blond man hurriedly.

"I just..get this feeling whenever I'm in this area, I get this weird fear. I feel like something bad's about to happen to me soon, like I'm running out of time for something.." said the short man

The blond man rose abruptly. "I believe it's time we take our leave." he stated before slamming the money on the counter, the change clinking.

"Aw, have a stick up your ass? You're really shaping up to be his little-" the short man began to sneer.

"We're leaving now." interrupted the blond man.

The short man sighed. Their waitress had returned so Liam had turned to pay for his meal, receiving a fortune cookie as a result. When he turned, there wasn't a trace of his neighbors and the malevolent presence in the restaurant had dissipated. Liam thought he heard the short man yelp and a piercing slap in the distance. Liam opened his cookie, took out his fortune and ground the treat with his teeth, the sweetness melting delectably in this mouth. He then read his fortune.

Our perception and attitude towards any situation will determine the outcome

Learn Chinese: I love you = wo ai ni

Lucky numbers (Lotto): 82-11-50-48-61-7

Lucky Numbers (Pick3): 647

Liam spent what seemed like ten minutes staring at the think slip of white paper, absorbing its wisdom before he rose and walked towards the exit of the establishment.

...

The three boys were rapidly pressing buttons on their controllers before the announcer exclaimed, "Time!", freezing the three fighters who were in Termina's Great Bay in place. They then gripped their controllers tightly and leaned slightly towards the large flat screen television, anticipating for the announcement of the winner. Even before the victor was announced, two of the boys slouched their shoulders, recognizing that the victory fanfare wasn't their own.

They were already aware of the victor before the announcer declared, "This game's winner is..." he said, pausing for dramatic effect which was lost due to them already knowing who one. "Fox!" he finished, allowing said anthropomorphic Fox to do a victory pose while Ness, a red capped youth and Roy, a red-headed swordsman, were delegated to clapping duty.

Dr. Miracle triumphantly raised his fist into the air. "Oh, yeah! I'm the undisputed Melee champ! I even beat you with your bullshit items and time mode on!" he bragged.

Pent folded his arms. "Me and Nev won plenty of times."

"Yeah, but I won two times in a row. The numbers don't lie, just face it-" Dr. Miracle began.

"I have faced that all your hot air is giving you a big head. I'm going to destroy you next match!" Pent said confidently.

Dr. Miracle raised his eyebrows. "Oh, yeah?"

"Yeah! Rematch, now!" stated Pent.

Nevada took the remote and turned off the television. "Nope, that was two matches in a row without doing any research. We need to take a short break." he stated blankly.

Pent groaned.

Nevada smiled. "Just a review of what we know, then we can wipe that smirk off of Miracle's face."

Dr. Miraclee scoffed as he got his laptop. Nevada got his notepad and the three scooted into a circle, their knees touching.

Nevada held out his hands, any trace of the laid-back enjoyment he had a minute ago were gone; he was now a mystery solving machine. "Now, let's review everything we know of the victim, Marilyn Apricot's death." he said before quickly flipping open his Hatsune Miku notepad.

Pent spoke with conviction. "Marilyn was invited to the party of the playboy, George Cunning, formerly known as Graham Cunningham, father of Miranda Cunningham. At the party she meets-"

Nevada held his hand up in a halting manner and Pent slumped his shoulders. "What we know of her death Pent, not the events leading up to her death, simply her death itself."

"But we spent all yesterday-" Pent began in exasperation.

"Nevada's not saying that doesn't have to do with her death, we're almost certain that it does." Dr. Miracle explained in a calm manner.

"Precisely," stated Nevada with a short nod. "We just need to review her death itself to keep things simple, it'll be easier to connect to our other clues that way. After laying the foundation then we can lay out the entire path to our case's victim's unfortunate demise." he explained before he smiled at Pent. "I'm surprised that you're getting so worked up when you were groaning about having fun."

Pent folded his arms. "Yeah..well, if we're going to do work anyway, then I should at least be helpful."

Nevada smiled before Dr. Miracle cleared his throat and began speaking. "Marilyn Apricot was found dead by her next door neighbor, Lucy Castrone after knocking on her door with no answer four days prior to when Super Detective Agency was called. Her light was on at death, possibly implying that she died that morning if not the night before. The victim was found naked with her eyes open and with her cellphone under her."

Nevada nodded as he furiously began jotting down notes in his notepad even though he already had the information. Enlightenment would sometimes grace him with repetition.

In an attempt to redeem himself, Pent spoke up again. "Marilyn was found "pale as a ghost" yet was not found that way when Super Detective Agency's Nevada Johnson inspected her. When found, she was wearing black orchid body wash and/or perfume. Marilyn's breath smelled of beer, onions, ice cream and medication. She died without so much as a scratch on her. Permission to talk about the scenery around her?"

Nevada looked at the ceiling for a moment before answering, "Permission granted."

Dr. Miracle held up a finger. "It should be noted that the house was tampered with during the time where the victim was examined by Lucy and when she was discovered by Nevada." he pointed out.

"Yeah, I'd say that's a dead-ringer that something's sinister's afoot but Nev here wants to make sure everything is "proven without a shadow of a doubt"." Pent said, saying "proven without a shadow of a doubt" in monotone.

"We can't-!" began Nevada in frustration.

Pent waved a hand with a smile. "Yeah, yeah, I know. Anyway, Marilyn's house was found in chaos. There was food on a table for two, a trail of blood could be seen going up the stairs, the water was running, there was blood on the carpet of her room and the door to the basement was open. When you opened the door in the basement you found a bunch of pill bottles one being a painkiller of some sort. You also found blood in the toilet."

Dr. Miracle had began typing swiftly on his laptop's keyboard.

Nevada began speaking while jotting in his notepad. "So with the presence of medication of some sort on her breath we know that she most likely used the painkiller before death. The blood in the toilet could be from the effects of the pills or the pain she was trying to stop. It has been brought to my attention that overdose may have been possible but we are going to ignore that unless it was due to someone else. There was a table for two, my wildest guess is that she was poisoned while eating at that table. The poison caused symptoms which caused her to use the painkiller which ultimately failed. I know its a stretch but I am simply using the evidence we have."

"Two questions, one: how do we know it's a table for two and two: couldn't Linnea have eaten with Marilyn?" asked Dr. Miracle, looking up from his laptop slightly.

"Good questions. One: we have to go by what the witness stated, generally, a table for two implies that the witness saw more than plate and they were spaced a significant distance apart. Two: I thought this myself and already checked with Linnea earlier today on the bus. Did you run that search?" said Nevada.

"That I did." answered Dr. Miracle. "I have to say, you have an unbelievable memory. Anyway, I looked up the painkiller and it's some pretty high-grade stuff. It's meant to treat pain as well as vomiting, decreased ability to sleep, increased activity to light and sound, wooziness, fever and diarrhea. I checked and some of these are symptoms of hangovers."

"So you're saying you think she became drunk the night prior?" asked Nevada with skepticism.

"No, you said she couldn't get drunk easily." answered Dr. Miracle.

"Yes, but if she did become drunk that would be very remarkable." stated Nevada.

Dr. Miracle adjusted his green glasses. "The bleeding was not a side-effect of the painkiller nor a symptom of hangover so I'm willing to bet that was due to poisoning. A poison so gradual and painful that she needed a drug."

"Well, the blood could have-" Pent began.

"I find that unlikely." stated Nevada as he folded his arms, closed his eyes and blushed.

"But there was a trail. You think she could have hacked up a trail?"  combated Pent.

"Yes but I doubt she'd just walk naked in that case." stated Dr. Miracle lowly. "That painkiller is pretty limited, she must have went on a hunt for it."

Nevada smirked. "Well thanks to our dear friend, the invaluable informant, Graham Cunningham, we know that Marilyn became involved with someone that dabbled in pharmaceuticals-"

"So we have our killer? He gave her the wrong pills?" asked Dr. Miracle.

"Not necessarily. Marilyn was simply known to buy expensive things. We don't know that she got this from one of the "friends" nor do we know if what was inside the painkiller did her in." answered Nevada, stroking his chin.

Pent folded his arms. "If she's anything like her niece, the princess, then her philosophy must have been that she only deserved the best."

Nevada shook his head. "From what I know, that wasn't the case. I believe she just cared about her well being and used it as a precaution."

Dr. Miracle raised his eyebrows slightly. "So she's had he pain before or-"

"- She knew she'd have the pain." finished Pent.

Nevada shrugged.

"The water was still running so we know she had died shortly after taking the pill." stated Dr. Miracle. Nevada nodded before Dr. Miraclee spoke again. "Did you see any needle punctures on her body?" he asked.

Nevada darkly reveled in the memory of Marilyn's naked body before shaking his head quickly. "No. If we are indeed dealing with a poison then it could have been injested."

Pent sighed. "Too bad we don't have a poison expert."

Nevada blinked. "Actually, we do. Peter Fretso of The Super Detective Agency. If we need a scan of the victim's insides we give him a call. He's from Haven Police's Forensic division and he's one of the best and always eager to help us." Nevada smirked. "When not working he likes writing music. Me and Liam call him The Bard."

Pent clenched his fists as his eyes widened in awe. "Really!? That's sweet bro! You should call him!"

Nevada sighed. "Problem is, by this time, the poison would probably be untraceable, besides, the body is gone."

"We could check her credit card for any purchases." stated Dr. Miracle.

"We'd have to hope it would help us not to mention we'd have to get her credit card first and we're running out of time." responded Nevada.

"So the main thing is to find the source of this pain..." pondered Pent aloud.

"The problem with that is that we're not certain of the symptoms." explained Nevada.

Dr. Miracle leaned back. "Well, suicides via overdose are usually bloodless so it's not that."

"She could have killed herself to stop the pain." responded Nevada lowly.

"We won't find out much without that house or the body." sighed Dr. Miracle.

"Believe me, the house is pretty much a dead end while the body is gone." Nevada said.

Pent snapped his finger. "The tampering with the evidence proves a third person was there so assuming the stuff is there, we can use finger prints and if it's not there-"

"That proves without a doubt that someone malicious is messing with the crime scene." finished Dr. Miracle.

"And if no one notices means the police have turned a blind eye even when it was shown that it would be unwise doing so which will have me believe-"

"Our killer is inside the force." finished Pent. The three teenagers sat in ominous silence before Pent smiled. "C'mon Nevada, let's beat this smug snake in Melee!"

...

Liam was once again surrounded by the four white walls of his hotel room. The lamp on the nightstand next to his bed emitted a dim yellow glow that enticed the detective to drift to sleep. In his sleep-wear, Liam stared with his eyelids slightly closed at the dark ceiling. The only barrier between him and the realm of sleep were the thoughts pertaining to the day that bombarded his head like raining bombs. The curse of the detective: the need to think about, to analyze everything and in multiple ways. This was second nature to Liam and he didn't find himself inconvenienced by it in the least bit.

Liam turned on his side, now facing the window which had its curtains open. By all accounts, Marilyn Apricot died of alcohol poisoning. Tomorrow really is just doing all of the paper work then she'll have her funeral and she along with this case will be buried forever. It will take nothing short of a miracle to convince them that this is a criminal case.

Liam wasn't certain about how he felt about this reality. That time tomorrow Marilyn would be ten feet under and he could push her towards the back of his mind again. That said, he still loved Marilyn and feared he would have to live with the nagging feeling that perhaps she was indeed murdered and that he didn't do enough. He was fairly inactive during the meeting since only a sliver of his being felt that Marilyn was murdered and even less of him could prove it. Maybe if he was able to accompany Nevada the previous days he'd have the answers he needed.

Liam closed his eyes and in the darkness saw the two snake-eyes of Nevada two nights prior. Nevada...he's extremely passionate about this case, more passionate than I am. I'm quite certain it's due to how important this case is to that girl, Linnea but regardless he's taking this very seriously, more serious than anyone I've encountered in the past six days. I believe that if no one else can find a case in this that he can. He's claimed to connect Marilyn to Miranda Cunningham which alone raises a slew of questions. Tying anything to the Cunninghams almost guarantees that something is dreadfully amiss. Liam smiled. I'm supposed to be your mentor but you're proving yourself more capable than I. Don't worry Nev little buddy, if you prove that that Marilyn was murdered then I'll run to your side and help you solve the case. We'll do it as a team, like always. This ordeal is just very emotionally taxing so I'll need you to meet me halfway. Instead of me doing sixty percent and you doing forty we can both do fifty percent and walk all of the road together. 

Seamlessly, Liam's train of thought shifted rails. Those two men, they seemed awfully peculiar; especially due to being together. It's good that I don't judge books by their covers because their personalities seemed switched based on their appearance. That man said he'd lost the girl he fancied due to a stupid mistake and that due to complications things turned "ugly". He was also eager to leave the area and his acquaintance seemed very secretive about anything the man said. Then there's the fact that he claims to have met the same woman through a friend. Assuming Marilyn was indeed murdered, do they know something?

Liam chuckled and put his hands to his mouth to stifle a laugh. Am I honestly pondering the connection between two random people I met at a Chinese restaurant to my lost love's death? Do I honestly believe this will-

Our attitude and perception towards any situation will determine the outcome.

Liam's smile widened. And now I'm letting a cookie dictate my thoughts. Fine, I shall play along. Maybe I'm going mad, if so I never thought going mad would be so much fun!

Liam rose to get his notepad for his memory palled in comparison to his partner's. He began jotting down notes about the two men, hoping his attitude towards Marilyn's death and his perception of all around him would garner an outcome that would give the detective peace.

...

The three boys were still up as time slowly crept further and further into the morning. While Dr. Miracle still had the most victories and was able to take on Nevada and Pent two-on-one, they were catching up. Due to them working together, they had also managed to find out more relevant information regarding Marilyn's demise.

"Although pale skin is a sign of alcohol poisoning, our handy painkiller tells us that if taken with lethal amounts of alcohol, the user will vomit profusely. With the lack of vomit, the likeliness of alcohol poisoning is knocked down a peg." stated Dr. Miracle.

"And when you searched the house you didn't see that many empty bottles except in the wall which you said hadn't been opened recently." continued Pent.

"As far as I know." corrected Nevada with his arms folded. "Without a body our main defense is that she wasn't alcohol poisoned. Without alcohol poisoning, it's far more likely that her death was planned."

"By using her phone number and phone provider information, I was able to found out she called a doctor about a day before he death and the conversation was pretty long. I'd say that's pretty significant evidence." said Dr. Miracle.

"Significant? Yes Doctor but it's not quite enough. We need a bit more evidence and finally her body itself along with The Bard to examine her in order to convince the higher ups that this is truly a criminal case." explained Nevada.

"So keep searching?" asked Pent.

Nevada nodded. "Yes, but I think we've done all we can do as we are now. I believe we need to search the victim's house next."

"But you told us everything you remember and you searched the place top to bottom. You said yourself that it was a dead-end." stated a distraught Dr. Miracle.

Nevada paused. "Yes but I think I might be able to see something that I couldn't see the significance of before with the information we have now." stated Nevada, his confidence wavering.

Dr. Miracle closed his eyes. "I hope so."

Pent put his arms around Nevada and Dr. Miracle's head with a wide, toothy grin. "Hey, I know so!" he cried.          

"Thanks for the confidence." Nevada said with a small smile.

"Anytime my sleuthing friend, now let's continue our little party without interruptions!" said Pent.

And so the trio continued their merry gaming into the morning until they fell asleep in their spots with blankets, all the while the sapphire ring in Nevada's room glowed softly as if it were joyed.

Chapter Nine: The DilemmaEdit

A gentle, cool breeze brushed Liam's skin, causing him to stir as the wind rustled his brown hair. The small hotel room was dark, the only illumination coming from a narrow space at the window where the blue curtains weren't pulled. Liam sleepily rolled over and looked at the alarm clock on the nightstand. In red a red, disconnected rectangulr font, it displayed seven-thirty-nine AM. Liam gave a deep exhale through his nose. His meeting with the chief of police, the new coroner, and others was in two hours. It was the final meeting and it would determine once and for all whether Marilyn Spring Apricot was murdered or not. Liam figured he could rest for a bit longer, after all, his mind would need to be sharp as possible today in order to argue his case. Unfortunately for him, he wasn't certain of his case. His brain told him that Marilyn's death was of her own making, while his heart now feverently argued that the only way Marilyn would leave this world was if someone forced her out.

Liam sighed and draped his arm across his face. Even if I want to argue in favor of the murder angle, I don't have sufficient evidence to support my case. As I concluded last night, the only person who can convince everyone that Marilyn was murdered is Nevada.

Realizing that his mind was beginning to swarm with thoughts again, Liam pulled his cover over him tighter in an attempt to go to bed.

Liam's eyes widened and his jaw slackened in utter shock at the sound of a familiar voice that he hadn't heard in ages.

As if nothing had changed, as if they were still together in bliss, Marilyn Apricot spoke in a happy, teasing voice. "Ah-ah-ah. Time to wake up sleepy-head." The voice originated from the window.

Liam slowly sat up. He couldn't help but shake, the beloved voice sending chills throughout his body even after it had ceased. He was facing the dark wall, away from where he heard the voice. He swallowed what felt like burning sand before slowly turning around. His heart skipped a beat at what he saw.

Surely enough, there she was: Marilyn Apricot laying leisurely on the windowsill, smirking at Liam. The light at her back brightened her red hair and made her look like an angel. She appeared to be squinting due to her smirk. She looked as if she hadn't aged a day since Liam had last seen her. She was wearing a nigh-transluscent baby-blue nightgown. Like when he had seen her six days ago, her skin was fair and lively yet now her freckles danced energetically, her eyes twinkled, her lips moved; she was alive. She was beautiful.

Liam had difficulty speaking as he tried to process what in the world was happening. "M-Marilyn...? Is that you?"

Marilyn gave a frown as she tilted her head. "No, it's Pandora. Of course it's me, my loony lion!"

Liam blinked, baffled. He rubbed his eyes, and to his amazement, Marilyn was still there. So, I really am mad... "All right...pardon me, but..aren't you dead?"

Marilyn shook her head."Why would you think that Liam? No matter what happens to me, I'll always be alive where it matters, in your heart. In a way, I've never left you. Even after we seperated I stayed with you in your heart."

Liam looked away in shame. "Is that true? You know how I hid the picture of us during Nevada's first night at the agency. You know how I've suppressed the memory of you all these years."

Marilyn stood up,her bare feet touching the ground without a sound. Liam noticed that Marilyn still wore her four leaf clover ring on her left index finger. "Just because I'm silent doesn't mean that I'm dead Liam. Besides, you haven't forgotten about me at all. You just try not to think about me in order to ease the pain. That's fine Liam, I understand completely."

Liam sighed. He no longer cared that he was talking to a woman who was by all accounts dead, all he cared about was that he was conversing with his beloved Marilyn once more. "How can you? Did you-?"

"Try to do the same?" Marilyn finished. "Of course I did." Marilyn chuckled as she rapidly shook her head before using both her hands to move her hair back. "Granted, I wasn't as successful as you. You paraded in my mind every day. Having a person around you helps out, I find. That's why you took Nevada as an apprentice, isn't it?"

Liam scratched his head and looked away. "That's not the only reason."

"Well, what are you waiting for?" asked Marilyn with a smile. "Get on up. You have work to do, Mr. Detective."

Liam raised an eyebrow. "And that would be?"

"Avenging my death. Finding the bozo who killed me and making sure they face justice."

Liam shook his head sadly. "I'm afraid that's not my job."

"Today, your job is to discuss whether or not I was murdered. After you convince them that I was, you can go on to-"

"But I can't, because even I don't believe that you were killed."

Marilyn stepped forward. "Well what do you feel Liam?"

Liam looked down. "I can't...I can't just let my feelings drive me Marilyn, you know this..." he shook his head and frowned. "I'm a detective. Death is always around the corner, and it's my job to chase it and stare it in its ugly face. I can't let ghosts bring me down no matter who the ghost is. You're not going to rule me." 

And just like that, Marilyn was gone without a trace. A pit formed in his stomach. Was that the right choice? To so callously chase Marilyn out of his life once more, even if she was a mere apperation.

Liam frowned. "No..I can't go back on my word. I'll use my head during today's meeting. If my heart screams, I still won't let it lead me astray. Only Nevada can prove the yells of my heart true." Liam stood up, the air creating goosebumps on his bareback. Nevada, I know you'll come through with the truth..

...

Nevada had been dreaming of a pleasant picnic in spring. Everyone was sitting under a sakura tree, the petals gently floating down and landing on everyone's head though no one seemed to mind. Besides himself, Liam was there along with Marilyn, his sister Sierra, and his parents. Despite the fact that his parents seemingly never went missing, Nevada was still a member of the Super Detective Agency. The six of them were in blissfully high spirits and the food and cool spring breeze only added to the lovely ambiance. Nevada couldn't recall a time where he felt so happy. He was so gleeful that his brown eyes began to water.

Nevada jerked awake with a snort. The sharp transition from a beautiful, bright, sweet smelling spring picnic on a hill with his loved ones to a dim, cheesy-smelling living room floor was startling. Nevada had been resting on his hand and he realized that he had slept with his mouth open, as evidenced by the small pool of saliva that was on the young detective's hand. 

He frowned as he shifted his position and retrieved his personalized handkerchief from his back pocket. He carefully wiped the drool away with a quiet, disgusted sigh. How uncouth...

Nevada raised his arm and rotated his wrist. The small black hand on the faceof his watch was halfway past the "VIII" and the small hand was squarely on the "VI". 8:30.

Nevada's eyes widened. Shit.

Nevada leapt up, tossing his baby blue blanket towards a wall. He quickly dashed towards a light switch and flicked it on, causing the lamp to switch on, th room being illuminating by a yellow light that was for some reason, much brighter than usual. He jogged towards where Dr. Miracle was sleeping on the couch and began to roughly shake him.

"..just a few more minutes, ma'.." Dr. Miracle groaned. 

Nevada loudly clapped his hands near Dr. Miracle's ears, causing him to yelp. "Come on! Up and at em'! We've overslept."

"What the hell man..!?" Dr. Miracle annoyedly groaned as he sat up on the couch, his lower half still covered by a striped blanket. "..and I was having the best dream too.." complained Dr. Miracle, rubbing his spectacle-less eyes.

Nevada folded his arms. "Yes, the sapphire ring does tend to cause people to have pleasant dreams.." Though that's pretty impressive range, for being in my room and all. Nevada turned around to wake up Pent. "Get ready, we need to get to Marilyn's house ASAP in order to-" Nevada stopped and blinked with wide eyes.

Pent was under the glass table, his legs were the only parts of his body that weren't. That was not the thing that Nevada found bizarre. The bizarre thing was that Pent had a lampshade firmly on his head. Nevada pulled the young man by his feet until he was no longer under the table. Nevada began to shake Pent before the boy snorted, causing Nevada to jump.

Pent sleepily chuckled. "Gotcha'..."

Despite his best judgment, Nevada decided to question Penter Garvin. "Why do you have the lampshade on your head?"

Pent snapped. "Just a little prank, my buddy. I wanted it to look like I partied hard, and you'd wonder "what the heck happened last night?" Pent folded his arms. "Though it kinds of ruins it when I can't see the no doubt priceless look on your face."

Nevada rolled his eyes with a sigh. "Just get up Pent. We've overslept and we need to get to Marilyn's house pronto. Get ready."

Pent got up with a yawn. "Can do my friend." Pent grabbed the lampshade. "Let me just..get this..thing off." he grunted, struggling to pull it off.

Nevada briskly walked into the kitchen and dialed Linnea's number on his cellphone. He held the phone up to his ear and listened to the monotonous rings. He swallowed once the phone rang six times without an answer. He sighed once he heard Linnea's voice. "Hi!" she said jubilantly. He slumped forward in despair as she continued to speak. "You've reached the phone of Linnea Harvey. I'm sorry that I'm not able to answer my phone right now. Please leave a message and I promise that I'll get back to you soon!" A femine voice began to speak shortly afterward. "At the tone, pl-" Nevada abruptly pressed the red "end" button. 

He scratched his head. Maybe that was the wrong choice. It was possible that Linnea wouldn't feel the need to call him back if he did not leave a message. He was about to call her again when his phone began vibrating in his hand. On the screen, the name "Linnea Harvey" was displayed. 

Nevada answered the phone and brought it to his ear. "Hello?"

"Yeah, Nevada? What is it?" she asked. Her voice was low and contained a hint of irritation.

"Pent, The Doctor, and I are at the agency right now. We're going to Marilyn's house in search of more clues and I want you to come too."

Nevada grew nervous at the sound of Linnea deeply sighing. He could faintly hear an upset Mrs. Harvey in the background. "I'm kind of busy at the moment." she replied, sounding a bit irritated.

Nevada knew that it wasn't socially acceptable to pry, yet he found himself compelled to: he blamed it on the profession. He also didn't want to pry because he didn't want to upset Linnea: someone that he could possibly find a friend. Despite this, he found it odd that she wouldn't jump at the chance to help them since she was easily the most passionate about the case. "What are you doing?" he asked uncertainly.

"Getting ready to go to Aunt Mari's funeral." Linnea answered bluntly. "It's today." she added.

Nevada once silent, his mouth slightly open. It took all his self-control to not let the cellphone slip through his fingers and fall to the ground. Seconds felt like minutes. Once he finally spoke, he could not mask how flabbergasted her was. "It's today?"

"Yeah." answered Linnea. Due to her tone, it sounded more like "ya".

"But..she was only dead for certain for eight days.."

"Probably ten days." Linnea curtly stated, recalling that Marilyn's ederly neighbor, Lucy, had claimed that he aunt had to be deceased when she first began knocking on Marilyn's door, four days prior to Liam and Nevada arriving at her house. "Plenty of time to plan a funeral."

Nevada blew a breath from his nose, his frustration rising along with his heartbeat. "But..they haven't decided on the nature of this case."

Nevada could hear the bitterness in Linnea's voice. "Oficially," she added. "To everyone but me, you, Pent, Miracle, and Marvel she's just a sad woman who drank her life away and there isn't really evidence towards the contrary."

"But we need the body in order to obtain some evidence towards the contrary!" Nevada argued.

Nevada could pratically see Linnea shrug. "You'll just have to find another way, Nev. The funeral's open casket. I'm as upset as you over everything."

Nevada heard a door open on Linnea's end. "Linnea Houri Harvey! Get off the phone this instant young lady! I thought you cared about your aunt Marilyn the most, yet here you are chatting away on your cellular like every other day!"

"I gotta' go Nev." Linnea said in a hurried, hush voice. Nevada's heart grew heavy for it sounded as if the teenage girl was on the verge of tears. "Look, I know you're upset but you have to keep your head up and stay cool. You're the only one who can, who will prove that Aunt Mari was killed." Nevada heard Linnea's mother choke her name. "You're my only hope now." she said before killing the line. 

Nevada sighed and put his phone in put his hand on his forhead and his other hand on the wall for support. He shook his head.

"Nevada?" said Pent. Nevada looked up to see the gut-wrenching concern on his face. "Are you all right?"

Nevada nodded. "Yeah, just another day for a detective. Call your sister, tell her we need a ride." Pent nodded and took out his phone. Nevada made his way across the living room and up the stairs to begin getting ready. He dialed Liam's cellphone number. 

Unlike Linnea, Liam was very punctual in his phone-answering, there were hardly two rings before the call began. "Hello." he answered.

"Hello Liam." Nevada responded quickly. "Marilyn's funeral is today."

There was silence on the other end before Liam simply said, "I see."

"You didn't know?"

"Why would her family inform me? They only know me as the man who caused their beloved relative to become an alcoholic. I'm undoubtedly dead to them."

"But we still need the body to prove that she was murdered." Nevada countered.

"By all accounts, she wasn't murdered. The final meeting that I have today practically will consist of everyone shaking their heads after The Chief of Police asks, "Was Marilyn murdered?". The only way to convince them otherwise is with some very evidence that proves without a shadow of a doubt that Marilyn was murdered. As no evidence of that nature has surfaced, I can only believe that she died due to her own neglience."

"Okay Liam but what..." Nevada couldn't help but feel a bit silly at asking his logical mentor this question. "...what do you..feel happened?"

Liam could not believe someone else was asking him that, stranger yet was the fact that it was Nevada. "I'm not quite sure what I believe anymore. It's a bit like a bell curve. At first I was sure that she was murdered due to the feeling in my heart, then each day I slowly began to realize that it was most likely that this wasn't the case, and now, once more, I'm somewhat open to the possibility that she was murdered, but that's mainly due to how adamant you are about it. However, regardless of what I may feel, I cannot convince myself, let alone others, without solid evidence. You are the only one who can find that evidence."

Nevada was silent. He felt like he was laying stones, stones being continually added onto his chest. He could feel his bones crack, his ribcage caving in due to the pressure as his heart began to be pierced.

"You're going to have to work fast, our meeting ends at 2:30. If you don't materialize evidence by then, both Marilyn and Miranda Cunningham's cases will be closed." Liam revealed.

"Wait, what!? Why Miranda Cunningham's case!? I thought you were just discussing it! We still have four days before the statute!" Nevada cried.

"I thought so too. A certain coroner seems very gung-ho about dismissing the two cases, and everyone seems to be agreeing with him. Unlike Marilyn's case, I'm frequently butting heads with others about Miranda's case. Throwing this case away certainly sends a message of "we don't care" to the families of the victims and allows a psychopath to run free. I told them what you told me, but they want hard evidence from you Nevada. Remember, the meeting is happening here in Sparks. I have faith in you."

"I just don't want to let you down.."

"As long as you do what's right to the best of your ability, I won't be upset. The meeting starts soon. Good-bye Nevada." The phone call ended.

Nevada's legs felt weak. Two cases were falling apart and he was the only person that could stop them.  He felt as if the weight of the world was on his shoulders and he couldn't move. He felt utterly alone and totally lost. Sure, Pent, and Dr. Miracle were with him, but they were not professionally-trained detectives. He doubted that they could look at the case at a level that was much higher than that of a civilian. Marilyn's case needed to be bent into awkward, strange angles to even be considered a "case". What they had discovered thus far would not cut it and Nevada was the only one with the ability to scrounge up the evidence that they needed. The problem was that even though he knew he was the only one who had the latent ability to do it, he wasn't sure if he possesed the skill to do it. Nevada felt a strange buzzing from his phone. He looked down and he saw a message flash in all-caps in a strange font. He saw the words "if you arereading this message i have" before the screen went black again. Nevada blinked. He figured he was just under far too much stress.

Nevada found the strength to move and get ready for the break-neck paced day ahead of him. 

After he finished brushing his teeth, he walked downstairs. He saw Dr. Miracle on his laptop and Pent brushing his teeth in the kitchen sink. "Doctor," said Nevada. "I need you to call Marvel and tell him to come here. We need all hands on deck today and we're going to be short a pair. Dr. Miracle nodded, whipped out his phone, and went to the stairs.

Pent rinsed his mouth, gargled and spat before approaching the detective. His stomach was growling. "What are we gonna' eat for breakfast?"

"I'll use some of the money I've saved up when we're on the road. There should be enough for the six of us." Nevada shook his head. "Don't worry about that now." he snapped his fingers. "What we need to worry about is the case. We're on one hell of a time crunch, so when we get to Marilyn's house, we can't dilly-dally. We need to get the evidence we need to prove she was murdered and fast. We need to think of the evidence we need so we can look for it as soon as we get there."

Pent put his hands behind his head and looked upwards, pondering. "Well, didn't we say that we would see if some stuff went missing? If it did, we said it was proof that someone was tampering with the house and that the police didn't care, and if it didn't, we said we could identify the finger prints."

Nevada folded his arms and shook his head as he looked down with a sigh. "Even if we can get the prints, it will take a couple of days for The Bard to run tests. Assuming things are taken, that's suspicious yes, yet still not concrete evidence that Marilyn was murdered."

Pent sighed and shook his head. "Then I don't know. Let me think." he then closed his eyes, deep in thought.

Nevada lowered his eyelids as he stroked his chin. "Yet, missing items are still another "point" towards something being amiss, which will still help our arguement even with evidence. We could find her credit card and find out what she purchased, and see if it relates to anything. We could also search the trash for anything indicative of murder. Furthermore, if we were in contact with The Bard, he could guide us when we search for poisons." Nevada closed his eyes. "We could also consult he physician, who she may have conversed with prior to her death. I suppose we could also get our hands on some floor plans to see if there are any hidden rooms in the house. I can also check the various medications to see if we find anything strange. We could also look up information about a procedure that makes corpses appear healthy. What would seriously help is a death note. Heck, even a suicide letter would decisively put this to rest. The only problem is we looked top to bottom and we didn't see it before, so we should only give that thought if we find hidden rooms." 

Nevada then nodded and patted Pent's shoulder. "Thanks." he said with a straight face.

Pent blinked and looked at his friend quizically. "You're..welcome?"

..

Nevada, Pent, and Dr. Miracle waited near the door.

Pent turned to Nevada. "Hey, could I leave my Gamecube here?" he asked.

Nevada waved a hand. "Yes, I don't see why not." The group heard the agency's Westminster Quarter's doorbell along with rapid knocking on the door and Nevada went forward to answer it. In front of the large, wooden door was Marvel, hunched over as he panted. The detective could see pools of sweat where the boy's armpits were.

"Yo'," greeted Marvel with a pant, feebly raising his hand. "I ran here as fast as I could."

Nevada gave a small smile. "I appreciate your haste." he was about to close the door when he saw Shelby, still wearing shades despite the sun not beaming down, quickly pull up to the curb in her red convertible with the top down. She honked her horn impatiently.

Nevada closed his eyes, feeling the rest of the world fade to black. This could be the last time we visit Marilyn's house. We need to stay focused and gather conclusive evidence that Marilyn was murdered. I don't have to be nervous or scared, and I can't afford to get it. People are counting on me and I don't intend to let them down. Nevada opened his eyes to see the others staring at him.

Nevada walked forward, taking his brown fedora from the hat rack. Nevada felt he had to say something to give himself and the others direction. Even though the words had terrified him all those years ago, he now considered them oddly calming.

"All right team, let's move out."

Chapter Ten: AmmoEdit

Marilyn's orphaned orange ragdoll cat was lounging on the green welcome mat that was in front of the front door. He perked his ears curiously once he heard a car come to an ubrupt, screeching stop in the front of the house. He wondered who it was this time. He became even more alert when he heard the thumps of foodsteps on the sidewalk. He stood up as a key was jerked into the keyhole, metallic jingling ringing in his ears as whoever was on the otherside unlocked the door. He began to step back as the door was pried open slightly. The poor feline darted towards the other end of the house once the door was dramatically kicked open and four boys burst into the house.

Nevada snapped his fingers andpointed to the kitchen. "Doctor Miracle, I need you to open up your laptop and be prepared to look up Marilyn's credit card information once we locate the card, have Google on standby in case we need to look up something, and prepare a back-up for and look into the retrieved information on Marilyn's phone."

Dr. Miracle wrinkled his nose at the house's smell of stale beer. He nodded with a straighface. "Will do Detective Nevada." he said before walking to the kitchen.

Marvel held his nose. "Crraaap," he whined. "Mom's gonna' take one whiff of me and then kill me for sure."

"Marvel, what I need you to do is to go into Marilyn's room which is the last room on the top floor and search for any credit cards. If you don't find any in there, I give you permission to search the premises of the house and the area surrounding it. If you find a card, give it to Dr. Miracle so that he can find out what was last purchased." Nevada explained.

Marvel nodded with a confident smile and a clenched fist. "You got it Nevada."

Nevada turned to Pent once he began speaking. Pent put his sideways hand on his forehead in mock salute. "And what of I Detective Nevada? What task shall you assign to me?" he asked, in a comically serious tone.

Nevada couldn't help but smirk despite the serious situation. "I haven't forgotten about you, Pent. I need you to search Marilyn's room and office across the hall for any documents. In addition, I need you to be on the lookout for any strange stains, fluids, or powders throughout the house. Also, before you two touch anything, I need you two to take at least five pictures of the area you're entering from various points and angles then send them to me."

The two nodded before heading up the stairs.

Nevada cracked his knuckles and rolled his neck as he steadily approached the door that led to the basement. Meanwhile, I'm going to scout downstairs. I have a final, intimate date with a posse of pill bottles.

Nevada carefully walked down the stairs as to not fall. Once he reached the bottom, the smell of beer was replaced by the smellof mildew. Using the bit of light that trickled in from the small basement windows, the young detective made his way towards the string that activated the lightbulb, and after pulling it the basement was illuminated by an eerie red light.

Nevada scanned the basement. The victim's box of files are in the same position that they were in when I came here last time, other than that, the floor is bare. The metal door to the basement bathroom is also locked. Nevada gave a sigh of relief. So no one has tampered with he scene again. On one hand, this means that potential evidence hasn't been confinscated, though on the other, this could simply be indicative of the killer believing that there's nothing signicant to take. Nevada frowned as he made his way to the metal door. Regardless, I'm going to search this place to the best of my ability. Nevada pulled the door open with a quiet grunt and turned on the light.

As it was last time, the floor was littered with open pill bottles and pills. Nevada took a picture with his phone before he crouched down and counted. There were six bottles (a lot less than what there appeared to be). Making it easier for him, the pills were in small trails that seemed to correspond to the bottles that they originated from. A great majority of them were over halfway full, while only three appeared to be moderately used, and one was empty. Nevada checked the pill bottle that was empty.

Flydronxilothylimide. Nevada's tongue twisted simply by trying to say the name in his head. That was the painkiller that Dr. Miracle looked up on his laptop the other day. Nevada looked at another bottle titled Super Zen. Nevada tilted his head. He could consult Dr. Miracle and have him look up each bottle on his laptop, though he felt he had a much more time efficient solution. He took out his phone and began dialing a number before putting it to his ear. What he needed was an expert.

"Bard, it's me, Nevada. I'm calling from a new cellphone. Anyway, I have a favor to ask you, I need help identifying a few perscription drugs."

Nevada could hear The Bard yawn on the other end. "Okay, shoot Nevada. What have we got?"

Nevada picked up another bottle and began to roll it between his fingers. Well, I already know what Frydrok..whatever is, so I'll ask him about something else. "What can you tell me about Vicoden."

"Pain reliever." The Bard answered quickly, almost sounding bored. "Small white-ish pills. One of the sides appears bisected into two squares?"

"Yes." Nevada confirmed.

"Then yes, it's a pain reliever. What else are we dealing with."

Nevada named another bottle and described its pills.

"Another pain-reliever. The specific combination makes me believe they were purchased and/or taken for their toothache relieving qualities."

"Hmm, so the painkillers have to do with toothaches.." Nevada squinted at the label as he picked up the pill bottle of the drug that Dr. Miracle had looked up. "So, Bard, if I were to tell you that the drug...Flydronxilothylimide was here, would that also be a factor in you considering that the person who utilized it was suffering from a toothache?"

There was a pause on the other end. "Unless said tooth uprooted itself from their mouth, went down their throat and began wreaking havoc upon their body, then no. Flydronx is for pretty severe pain and treats many symptons. I wouldn't say the drugs are related in that case, especially since you're not supposed to take Flydron with anything really, unless it's a specific type of drug."

Nevada nodded as he picked up another bottle and asked The Bard about it.

"It helps with diziness. God god, what wasn't this person suffering from?"

Nevada sighed. He could make several cases around the bottles already found, but nothing would be concrete enough, nothing would be able to serve as irrefutable proof that the victim was murdered. He would just have to see if anything came up as The Bard continued to identify bottles.

"What can you tell me about this one? GL889?" Nevada asked, rotating the bottle.

"Ooh, now that's a fun one. As the name may imply, this one's a bit different from the others you've listed. No "common" name has been issued for this drug, since not many people use it besides hospitals. It's used to nullify poison, and from what I know, it's actually pretty effective."

Nevada blinked. Now we're on to something. "Really?" Nevada inquired.

"Yeah, blue, cylindrical pills with a yellow band in the middle?"

Nevada frowned as he looked at the pill. "No..black, flat, circular pills. Something seems etched in them. I feel...XZ21."

"Uh-oh." responded a surprised Bard.

"What's the matter?"

"Those aren't GL889 pills. The one's you've described are, as the pills indicate, XZ21. XZ21 is a pretty nasty poison, bringing ghoulish pain to the users. One of its affects is causing the user to hack up blood. In addition to being a deadly poison in its own right, it works in smaller quantities when taken in conjunction with another poison. It also makes the other poison more potent, think of it as a poison enhancer, if you will."

"But why would-?" Nevada began quietly.

"Think Nevada, you're the detective here. Why say you?"

He's right.. "I can think of one thing: Marilyn bought GL889 because she had been, or at the very least believed that she had been, poisoned. Whoever wanted her poisoned replaced the GL889 pills with the XZ21 pills, betting on the fact that Marilyn wouldn't know the difference since she had used neither before. Due to the effects of the poison and XZ21, she took Flydronx."

Nevada smiled as The Bard said, "Bingo! Now you-wait, did you say Marilyn?"

"Yes?"

"Huh, so you're on this case? Liam called me a couple of days ago to examine her body. As you can imagine, I was extremely excited to diss-I mean analyze the corpse. Then I get the news that some bozo new coroner took the body away. I wanted to barge in his office and complain when Liam told me it was fine and that I should back off. I wanted to examine the body anyway, but Liam convinced me that doing so would just attract Pandora to the SDA faster than a bear to honey."

Nevada chuckled nervously as he glanced upwards, knowing that Dr. Miracle was likely stealing credit card information upstairs. Pandora and Vodka, I forgot about them today... "I'm sure you'll get to examine your body soon enough. Get ready to leave."

"Why?"

"Wishful thinking." Nevada smiled.

"Well, if you're looking for poison, you're most likely gonna' have to give me something to work with. Assuming the poison becomes nigh-indectible, and I don't know what to look for, I'm just stabbing in the dark: yes, I might hit what I want to, but it's unlikely that I will."

Nevada nodded with a stern expression. "I understand. See you soon. Bye." he said. After The Bard had said "Good-bye", Nevada ended the call. He rubbed his temples while closing his eyes. So Marilyn bought a poison nullifier. That's great, this makes it likely that she was poisoned. Though we still need to find the poison itself.Nevada jumped once his phone began heavily vibrating. Words flashed on the screen. Do not goit alone. Go to the super detective agency There you will

Once the words were gone, Nevada put his phone in his pocket and quickly began opening the door due to being on edge. He was relieved once he saw a beaming Pent on the otherside.

"Did you find any relevant documents?"

Pent confidently shook his head. "No, I didn't. What was interesting is what I didn't find. Here me out, okay? From about a year ago, Marilyn kept detailed notes upstairs, yet around the time when she met with George Cunning, poof! Nothing. Then, she keeps notes again, and more notes, and then poof! Can you guess where there aren't notes?"

"Prior to her death?"

"Bingo! From about two days prior to her dying up until the fact, nuthin'."

Nevada folded her arms. "She could have just not been well enough to write."

"True, but it's still a bit suspicious don't you think? It's still worth mentioning once we get everything else we need, don't you think?"

Nevada sighed. "I suppose." he turned towards the box. "Did you check those files as well?"

"I glanced at them, but they're all just recipes." revealed a disappointed Pent with a shrug.

"Then let's not worry about those for now. Walk with me." commanded Nevada as he began ascending the stairs. "Now tell me, did you find any of the stains, dust or the like?"

Pent smiled. "Sure did, I found a weird, lemony-smelling stain on the bed."

Nevada stopped. "You...you smelled it?" asked Nevada.

"Well, I woulnd't have found it if I didn't. It was a very light pink. It doesn't come up well on the bed. I took a picture of it but you can barely make it out on there too."

Nevada nodded as the two entered the kitchen.

Dr. Miracle jerked his thump towards his laptop. "Hey, Nev I was able to acess the credit card. Apparently she bought something from her medical supplier, Happy Health Horizon."

Added alliterative appeal, nice. "Does it say what she bought?" inquired Nevada, emphasizing the "what".

Dr. Miracle pushed his glasses up using his index finger. "Not specifically, just "medication"."

Nevada sighed. "Excellent."

Pent put his hands behind his head. "Why don't we just call them?"

"Using a probably illegally obtained credit card. Great logic." Marvel sarcastically retorted.

"Why don't you show them your badge?" asked Pent.

Dr. Miracle sighed. "Kind of hard to do over phone, Pent."

Nevada threw up his hands in exasperation before letting them fall back down. "It's worth a shot. Call the company and make sure the conversation is recorded."

The group waited around the table as the phone rang. "Hello, and welcome to Happy Health Horizon. This is an automated answering helper. Before you are directed to a help hotline, for confirmation, we please ask you to input your credit card number as well as your chosen four-digit passcode."

Marvel and Pent let out a groan while Dr. Miracle calmly and loudly entered the credit card number. He turned to Nevada.

"Try her birthday, 0912 and 1209." he suggested.

Dr. Miracle tried both with no luck. "You have two more tries until the authorities are notified and your account is suspended." Dr. Miracle swore under his breath in response.

"Try Linnea's birthday." Pent spoke up. "0708 or 0807"

Dr. Miracle input the first number, which was incorrect. He then entered the second number. "That did the trick." he announced with a neutral expression.

The group was greeted by a chipper, sociable, human female voice. "Welcome to Happy Health Horizon! How may I help you today?"

"Hello, we're requesting information on Marilyn Apricot's last purchase. Coul-" Dr. Dre bliinked once he heard a click. He looked at his phone to see that the call had ended. He sighed before repeating the number input.

The woman now sounded a lot less chipper. "Okay, I've talked to Marilyn many of times. Some days, she sounds as happy, some days she sounds sad. Some days she sounds awake, some days she sounds tired. Some days she sounds perfectly lucid, while other days she's slurring her speech so bad, it's the speaking equivalent of cursive.  My point is, with all this variation, I still know she doesn't sound like some thirty year old guy with a baritone voice."

Dr. Miracle shot Nevada an annoyed look. "Will you do the honors, Nevada?"

Nevada took the phone in his hands and began speaking over the woman who was now threatening to call the police. "Hello, my name is Detective Nevada Johnson of The Super Detective Agency. Me and my colleagues intentions are not malicious in nature, we just needed to access Marilyn's credit card.

"No, you don't need to do anything. I don't care who you are." the woman spat.

"I believe that is where you misunderstand. I do need to do this, for it is my job and it is what's right. I am a detective and I need answers."

"If it's so important, then why aren't you here in person?"

"Because I don't have time." answered Nevada darkly. 

"Well there's nothing here for you to investigate, Mr. Detective." the woman said mockingly.

Nevada's eyes darkened. "Is that so? Well, Ms., are you aware that approximately eight days ago, your client, Marilyn Spring Apricot, was found dead in her house?"

There was a pause on the other end. "Got her." breathed Dr. Miracle.

"No, I..we were not aware of Ms. Apricot's death. That..it.." Nevada heard the woman sigh. When she spoke again, her voice was cracking. "It makes me sick to my stomach to hear." 

"Me and my colleagues believe that she might have been murdered. Please, let us speak to her physician.  Their testimony of what transpired the other day could prove vital in proving that she was murdered. From their, we can catch the culprit and make sure there are no more victims."

There was a stifling silence on the other end. "One moment, please hold." she commanded darkly before the phone clicked. Nevada folded his arms and tapped his foot as he was treated to elevator music. The detective became alert once a man's voice was heard.

"This is Dr. Mantle, how may I help you?"

"Hello Dr. Mantle, this is Detective Nevada Johnson. I'm calling in regards to one of your clients, a Ms. Marilyn Apricot."

They could here the doctor groan on the other end. "Okay, what do you need to know? Just as a forward, I'll run a background check on you later, 'Detective' Johnson, and if I don't find anything indicating you're official, I will ruin you."

Nevada nodded, frowning. "Sounds fair. Now, tell me doctor, are you aware that your client, Marilyn Apricot has died?"

"Oh..oh god..she has?" he asked in horror.

"Yes, she has." confirmed Nevada.

"But..ho-I thought...she was supposed to take..."

"Tell me doctor, what was her last purchase with your company? Did it happen to be a certain GL889?"

"Yes, but how did you-?"

"Know? I made a deduction. I found the pill bottle in her bathroom basement. GL889 is a high class, experimental drug that nullifies poison. Why would you think to give her this drug? Did she say something to you during your last call?"

"..yes."

"What did she say?"

"I don't feel comfortable telling."

Nevada slammed his fist on the table. "Forget about client confedentiality! You said you'd check afterward if I was an official detective. Right now, I need you to."

"This isn't about client confidentiality! This is about my own safety." Dr. Mantle said quickly. Nevada swallowed. "After...a few days after Marilyn made her final purchase, we discovered someone trying to hack into our systems, though we were able to ward off the attack. Later, an unknown caller called, attempting to terminate Marilyn's service with us. We informed him that no such action could be taken without credentials, to which he hung up. Later, I got an email that said that if I informed the authorities about my last conversation with Marilyn, my children would be abducted and I'd be murdered."

Nevada frowned and scratched his head before looking away. He swallowed, knowing he'd have to make a hard call. "Dr. Mantle,I'm truly sorry that..such heinous threats have been made, but we need your testimony. I assure you that police protection will be proviced. Please, we need you to speak. If you don't a madman may stay on the loose indefinitely."

Dr. Mantle sighed. "Do you promise I will be granted protection."

Nevada nodded. "I promise. You have my word."

Dr. Mantle's voice was hushed when he began speaking again. "Twelve days ago, we recieved a call from Marilyn. She told me that it was urgent. My assistant told her that I was on thephone with my sole other patient and that she would had to wait. She then said that it was a matter of life and death. I imediately halted my discussion with my other client and began talking to Marilyn. I was annoyed, but my annoyance soon faded once I heard what she had to say. She said that she feared that "she was under a microscope", and told me not to tell anyone about our conversation. She expressed fear even in talking to me, but she told me I was, in her own words, "her best shot in making it out of this alive". She informed me that she was under the weather and that she believed she was poisoned while eating dinner with an acquantince the night prior. I told her she should call the police or poison control, which she adamantly refused. She feared that she was being watched from every direction and one wrong move could "do her in earlier". If it were anyone else, I'd just write them off as crazy, but Marilyn Apricot was different. Every time that I had met with her, she seemed like a sharp, wonderful woman. Fearing for my client's safety, I wrote her a perscription for one of our most powerful drugs, GL889. I gave her specific instructions as to how to use it. She insisted on picking it up herself, but I told her to stay home,  get some rest, and only answer get up to answer the door and take the pills. After arguing for five minutes, she finally caved in though not without her own stipulations. Marilyn told me that I had to make sure whoever was delivering the medication knew as little about it as possible. After giving her my prayers, I hung up. I was so stunned that I spent minutes collecting my bearings before resuming my call with my other client."

Nevada nodded grimly. "I see."

"You mentioned seeing the GL889 bottle. You didn't see the pills?"

"I'm afraid not. I saw pills, however they were not GL889 pills. When I examined it, the bottle contained XZ21, a powrful poison. I believe that someone switched the medication with the poison."

"Oh lord...this is..this is all my fault.."

"No doctor, don't blame yourself. I have one more question: did Marilyn purchase a drug called Flydronx recently."

"No, not recently. She ordered it about a year ago. I believe it was just a precaution."

"Thank you. I have no more questions Dr. Mantle."

"Wait, before you go, I have one more request besides making sure me and my family have protection." Nevada heard Dr. Mantle swallow. "Catch the scum who did it."

Nevada nodded. "Will do doctor." Nevada said before hanging up the phone.

"What now?" asked Dr. Miracle.

"Now, I'm going to see if I can locate the poison." informed Nevada. That is, the original poison. The detective walked to the kitchen sink and looked down. It was empty, as it was when he first came to Marilyn Apricot's house. He closed his eyes and tapped his forehead. Yet there was purpotedly a table for two when the victim was found. Where are the dishes. The first place Nevada would look would be the dish washer. He pressed the button to release the locks and with a click, the yellow dishwasher opened outwards. Nevada scanned the racks, finding only a sole square plate. The crumbs that were on it led Nevada to believe that it was the plate that the sourdough hotcakes were on. Nevada then opened the refrigirator, hoping, despite his memory, that he'd find the dishes in there. As he figured, there were none, only bottles of beer and a single bottle of red wine. 

I wonder if the wine was for the dinner.

Beginning to grow frustrated, Nevada walked towards the entrance. 

Pent stuck his head out the kitchen, with Dr. Miracle and Marvel quickly walking out of the kitchen. 

"Do you need help?" asked Pent.

Nevada turned the handle to the door and  pulled it open. "I'll tell you if I do." he said, with a frown before closing the door behind him. He walked in the driveway, towards the back yard with his arms folded. There's no trace dirty plates, bowls, or cups in the kitchen. Given that evidence has been tampered with before, there's a strong chance that I may find what I seek in the trash. Nevada was grateful that he packed multiple latex gloves before leaving the agency.

Nevada removed the metal lid to the trash can that sat next to the house and took out the three white garbage bags that resided in it. As a detective, Nevada was trained to ignore unpleasant smells, yet he still found it difficult to do so. That much was proven when he felt his skin crawl at the rotten odor that eminated from Marilyn's trash that was at least a week old. Nevada noticed that the topmost bag (which he figured was the most recent) had sharp points jutting from the inside. Nevada squinted his eyes and scratched his chin. I wonder.

Nevada gingerly untied the bag, instinctively turning his head away in anticipation for a putrid blast of odor. To his relief, the smell wasn't eminating from that particular trash bag. Wary of wasting time, Nevada quickly, yet cautiously, plunged his gloved hand into the bag, making his way carefully towards the points. Nevada's fingers felt a material which was cold, hard, and smooth. Nevada picked up several pieces and carefully placed them at his feet. It was as the young detective predicted: glass. Nevada noticed that the pieces were fairly large as well a peculiarity.

Nevada crouched to get a better look at the glass shards. The clear pieces were marred by a strange, pebble-like feature. They were fairly uniform and were most prominent near one side of each shard. Nevada believed that the concentration of the feature revealed the shard's orientation. Nevada took pictures of the glass pieces.

The detective took out a magnifying glass from his pocket and held it three inches from the largest shard. The magnification revealed that the feature was crystilline in nature and of a very slight blue tint. Nevada rose and took out his phone while leaning on the garage.

"Hello Bard, it's me again. I apologize if this has nothing to do with the case, but I was hoping if you could shed some light on an unidentified substance."

"Okay Nev, shoot. I'm all ears."

"Well, I've found five large glass shards. I believe that they were part of a drinking glass. On these shards of glass, is a strange, crystalline feature that is of a slightly blue tint. I would have thought that it was simply a strange design choice, yet the color is marketdly different from the rest of the glass and it looks almost like..like dust, a bit. Sorry if it's hard to explain." Nevada revealed.

The Bard paused for a bit before speaking. "You explained it well. Now...you mentioned poison earlier?" he asked uncertainly.

"Yes, I theorize that Marilyn Apricot was poisoned during a dinner for two." Nevada replied.

"Ohh-ho nooo..." said The Bard quietly.

"What is it?" asked Nevada.

"Well, I think we found our poison. Meet Cryst, an extremely deadly poison that is nearly undetectable. While it isn't the fastest reacting poison, it does the trick in moderately small doses. It is a liquid that is best administered through a drink and is tasteless and odorless. It doesn't leave the bloodstream when injested. Outside of the body, it reacts with various materials after a few days. For example, there's glass which as you can see, begins to crystalize after twelve days. The crystalization process for most metals is much faster, at an average of five days. You should check the inside of the drain, if even a bit of the poison was washed down, it'll look absolutely crazy. It's a lot harder to detect in blood. After about six days, it begins to cause some blood to clump into crystals, creating external lumps, though after a day or two, the crystals dissolve and its undetectable again. If your victim, ate, say cereal shortly before she died then oh yeah, her stomach'll be crystalline city."

Nevada blew a breath through his nose. If Marilyn had been poisoned with Cryst, the crytstals that would have served as proof of the poisons prescence would have been long gone. 

"Thank you Bard, another question. Is a..pink, ...lemony-scented stain indicative of any poison?"

"Um, not poison. I mean, there's Frando which is sometimes used to gussy-up a corpse, but-"

"Pardon me?"

"Frando. Used in preservation in anticipation for a funeral. It can turn a person who looks like they hacked up their intestines into practically a supermodel if the correct procedures are taken. Do you think your victim had Frando pumped into them?"

"Yes." Nevada quickly answered.

"Well, if that's the case, then if it was given prior to, or during the period where Cryst crystallizes blood, then it can theoretically quadruple the time that the crystal stays, well, a crystal. This is due to-"

Nevada cut his co-worker off before he could drown him in a scientific explanation. "Okay, do you think you can run tests on a dead body to determine if the have XZ21, Cryst, and Frando in their system?"

"Sure, I'd be delighted to run-tests on that seriously fucked up body? When and where?"

"I'll give you the details soon. Just get ready."

"Cool beans. Talk to you later." said The Bard before he hung up.

Nevada scrunched his face. "Did he just say "cool beans" again?" He shook his head. Nevermind that. He had work to do.

Nevada entered the front door of Marilyn's house about a minute later, carefully holding the shards. He went to the kitchen, opened his briefcase, put the shards in a ziplock bag, then placed them inside the case before he closed it again.

"Status update, Detective Nevada?" requested Dr. Miracle.

Nevada appeared to walk absently into the hall where the front foor and the wall of beer stood. He folded his arms. "There is strong evidence that Marilyn Apricot was poisoned. There is also strong evidence that her body was doctored in order to appear healthier than it really was, a process that could greatly help our case."

"So we're done here." said Pent.

Nevada shook his head. "Not quite. I need one more piece of evidence."

"But why?" asked Marvel.

Nevada closed his eyes.  "I..I just do."

I'm dealing with people who wish to prematurely close the case of Miranda Cunningham, whose ringleader, whoever that may be, was or is a serial killer. Although I have sufficient evidence for that case, I'll need a lot of evidence for this case as well. With this much evidence towards Marilyn being murdered, my arguement will be irrefutable. I'm afraid that I may be heading into the lion's den, and if that's the case then I'm going to need as many bullets as I can carry. Besides I can feel...something in this house beckoning to me.

"Doctor, make sure that you have a backup of all the files that you retrieved from the phone." said Nevada.

"Got it."

"Now everyone, I need you to be quiet." said Nevada as he closed his eyes. Pent and Marvel entered the area and curiously watched him.

Nevada took a deep breath. "Focus..." I guess it's about time I used my ability again.

--...After the fifth strike he made a hole in the wall the size of a basketball and the beer smell got worse and a several brown bottles came falling out of the hole and onto the floor, each one being chipped on impact sending glass shards on the floor. If it weren't for their shoes Nevada and the police officer would have been cut.

Nevada reached in and grabbed a bottle. He looked at it. It was beer, Bud Light to be exact. He placed it on the ground and grabbed another, this time it was a bottle that read Bud.

Nevada did as he did before, reaching in the wall and taking bottle after bottle of various beers. He did this for he was forced to. His ability wasn't fantastic in nature, he couldn't change the past. However, due to his memory, he could re-live it in ways that other people could not fathom. Due to him reliving the past in such a manner, he could pick up on details that he hadn't noticed before.

Nevada continued to grab the bottles before he heard a metallic clinking sound in one of the bottles, causing his eyes to go wide. Due to the smell making Nevada feel faint, he placed the last bottle he had picked up on the floor and head towards the kitchen...--

Nevada opened his eyes wide, meeting the confused gaze of Dr. Miracle.

"I think the stress has finally got to 'em." Marvel whispered.

"Yeah, I hate to admit it but Nev buddy seems a bit off his rocker." Pent whispered in reply.

Nevada paid them no heed as he walked right past them and reached into the hole in the wall, hearing the clinking sound once more. He fished around until he took hold of a bottle. He out a bottle of Miller Light which contained a small, black object inside. The detective shook it out onto his open palm and clasped his hand over the small key that fell out. Nevada carefully placed the bottle back into the hole.

All right, one more thing. Nevada took a deep breath and closed his eyes again.

--The coroner set down his notebook, grabbed him by the collar and lifted him six inches off of the ground. "Son, watch how you talkin'. We dealing with adult business here and no dumb boy is gon' tell me what to do." he shoved him down and went up the stairs after he picked his suitcase up.

Nevada blocked out the thoughts of anger, confusion, and hatred, leaving only his analytical mind. He knew that he didn't have much time until he fell asleep, so he closed his eyes and made sure to pay attention to the sounds of The Coroner's footsteps. He walked up the stairs with surprising haste. The Coroner quietly entered a room at the end of the hall to the right. Marilyn's room. Nevada raised his eyebrows and The Coroner seemed to frantically search the room. He had about as much grace as a hippo. Nevada internally admitted that he was a bit ashamed that he was able to sleep through The Coroner's mysterious, yet bumbling search. 

Nevada heard The Coroner grab something: paper. After he had grabbed the paper, he left the room and jumped in the middle of the hall. Yeah, this is pretty embarassing on my part...

He sighed some more and dozed off again at the bottom of the stairway...--

Nevada picked him self off the ground and purposely walked past a concerned Marvel and Pent, and up Marilyn's case. A part of him wanted to check Marilyn's room to see if The Coroner had tampered with anything, but he was certain that he only took a piece of paper. Nevada wondered if The Coroner had deleted Marilyn's data that day. He somehow doubted he had extensive hacking knowledge and that it would be possible in such a short time, yet Nevada kept the thought at the back of his mind.

Nevada moved to the center of the hallway and looked up, seeing a square that was a smidge differently colored than the rest of the cieling. Even though it was somewhat hard to tell, Nevada immediately knew that the hatch led to the attack. Nevada crouched before leaping high and pushing up on the hatch. The detective's eyes widened and he dove out of the way as a wooden ladder came racing down the hatch at an angle.

As Nevada looked at the ladder and up at the opening, he remembered the image of Marilyn making a duck face on her phone and how he wouldn't have expected her to construct a trap-ladder.

Clever girl..

Nevada cautiously climbed the ladder until he was in a dusty attic with a low-cieling. A small amount of light trickled in from a small circular window. He coughed due to the dust that floated about the room. He found it disheartening that the only two places in the house that had no trace of the smell of beer were either moldy or dusty. Nevada looked around. There were various small boxes neatly arranged around the attic, all of the same size. Nevada's attention was grabbed by a medium-sized box titled "Black Ops" in a red marker. He made his way to the box, the floor creaking as he walked. He opened the box and his eyes widened. Inside, was a large black half-mask stylized to look like cat ears near the top, black gloves that almost reached the wearer's elbows, baby-blue boots, a black, cleavage exposing leotard, a lasso, rose perfume, a nightstick, and a pistol.

Nevada stepped away from the box and rubbed his temple. He began to speak in a hushed tone. "Don't tell me she has the motorcycle, don't tell me she has the motorcylce, don't tell me she has the motorcylce.." he looked up and saw a red motorcycle with blue wheels, causing him to throw his hands up. "And she has the motorcyle!" he then sighed. "Oh my god, I can't believe Marilyn is..was her." he shook his head. "As insane as that is, that's a worry for another day."

Though, how the hell does she get that motorcycle down? His question was answered when he saw a door on the other end of the attic. Nevada tried to open it, only to discover that it was locked. Nevada used the key and opened the door, revealing a large staircase. Nevada slowly descened until he reached the bottom. He saw a normal door ahead and a trap door below. Nevada used his key to open the locked door and entered a furnace room. The furnace was operational, as the detective could feel the intense heat eminating from it. Nevada softly gasped as he saw a burned piece of paper on the ground. He quickly picked it up.

If you are reading this messa

Nevada frantically looked around for the other pieces to no avail, the piece he had must have been the only surviving piece of a burned piece of paper. 

Dammit, so The Coroner came into this room to burn the paper he found. I bet it's a death note as well. Great, so close. Maybe the evidence I have is enough.. 

Nevada diverted his attention to writings etched in the wall, presumably by Marilyn. Among them were "LOL" "Furnace wishes he was as hot as me!" "Spring Apricot's the best Apricot!" "So drunk" "Tip-z" "Wash red and white clothes and you'll regret it!" "Linnea's the best niece ever!" Nevada tilted his head at a small message near the bottom. "The day I put red wine on the top shelf of my fridge is the day I die!" The image of the out-of-place red wine in Marilyn's refrigirator flashed in his mind.

Nevada blinked before smiling. So you put an important message in the middle of a bunch of random ones. The diamond in the rough. With the trap door, the "Black Ops" box, and the hidden message, Nevada's respect for Marilyn Apricot grew tremendously. Okay Black Cat, let's see what you have in store for me.

..

Nevada took the wine bottle from the fridge. There was no paper under it, which he expected. Looking closely at the bottle however, he could see a small square. After pouring out the wine, which upon exit, Nevada deduced that it was simply deepky dyed water due to its smell or lack thereof, Nevada took out the small slip of paper from the bottle. 

Nevada unfolded it. Waterproof ink and paper, nice.

Dear Linnea,

If you are reading this message, I have died. Reading this messgae also most lkely means that the first two copies of my letter have been destroyed, that alone should warn you how treacherous the journey ahead of you is, my darling niece. I'm sorry for leaving you the thought of never seeing you pains me as well. I don't doubt that you wish to find out the truth about my death and avenge me. I know how dangerous that will be and I also know how useless it'll be to try to stop you with that lovely hard head of yours. Whatever you do Linnea, do not go it alone. Go to the Super Detective Agency. There, you will meet Liam Tailey. He is an ace detective and I have no doubts that he will be able to solve the case. I know how you feel about him due to..our split. If you really can't look past that, then work with Nevada Johnson. Since he's under Liam's wing, he's got the makings of a great detective and I can tell you firsthand that he's a kid with a lot of heart. I think you two will get along really well. The Super Detective Agency will take care of you, never forget that. Even though Liam may seem aloof and bossy, he's really funny and sweet, and even though Nevada might seem like he's inexperienced and scared, I have no doubt that he's a detective on par with Liam. Those two will always find the truth. Be on your toes as you search for my killer. The threat is always bigger than it seems and if you're not careful, you'll have a giant target on your back and you'll find yourself shot from all sides. Just remember what your Auntie Mari tells you, "since you've got such a big brain, you'll never get too hurt if you use your best judgement". Make sure you and the agency also solve The Miranda Cunningham Mystery. It may seem like a dead end, but it's a dying, drunk woman's last wish so, give it a shot, you know? Tell Liam that even in death, I will always love him.

Stay strong my little sleuth

Love,

Marilyn Spring Apricot

Despite the small font, Nevada had no trouble reading it. He nodded before folding it again with a swallow. "That will do."

Nevada texted Linnea. Where is the funeral?

"Okay gang, let's pack up. We have everything we need."

"Where to next?" asked Pent.

"To-" Nevada's phone vibrated. sparks Nevada smirks. Lady luck's starting to give me that long overdue kiss. "To Sparks."

As everyone made their way to the door, Nevada called The Bard. "Yes, Bard, it's me. Liam's at a meeting in Sparks to discuss the nature of the case. Coincidentally, the body is also in Sparks. I'm going to need your help to prove that Marilyn Apricot was murdered. Can I count you in?"

"Can I bring my guitar?"

Nevada smirked. "No."

"Then opposite of that answer."

"All right, goodbye."

"Buh-bye."

Nevada left the house with Pent, Marvel, and Dr. Miracle walking behind him towards Shelby's car. "All right boys, look alive because it's show time."

Marvel gave a devious smirk as he punched his fist into his open palm.

Nevada looked up at the cloudy sky as he buckled into the passenger seat. Although it was overcast, Nevada no doubt that he'd be able to bring the sunshine.

Chapter Eleven: Lion's DenEdit

IEdit

As he had stated the previous night, Liam found the summit meeting a bore. It was simply a group of people sitting around and listening to others' arguments. Liam normally found such things riveting, but virtually the same things were repeated ad nauseam. Another contributor to his boredom was the fact that he didn't really have anything to add to the discussion. The summit mainly consisted of The Coroner, Jameswald Darwil arguing in favor of classifying Marilyn's death as a suicide or natural death. Liam didn't even really disagree with most of The Coroner's points, it was just that he had argued so passionately about his view for so long that it he was beating a long dead horse now. Liam wondered if this was due to him at his core not agreeing with The Coroner's stance.

Liam was not in any way anxious, for he knew that even if he didn't know what it entailed, Nevada would discover the truth.

It was only one-ten PM but at this rate, Liam feared that the meeting would be adjourned in twenty meetings. He did disagree on The Coroner's stance on Miranda Cunningham, but whenever he brought it up the topic would somehow inexplicably swerve back to Marilyn. It was assuredly irksome, yet Liam would begin fighting tooth and nail for Miranda Cunningham once he feared that the meeting would come to a close soon. After all, that poor child was who Liam unwaveringly believed in.

Liam realized that The Coroner's relentlessness was most likely due to a inexplicable desire to end the meeting early. Sure, it was boring (though mainly due to The Coroner himself) but surely such potentially important cases deserve every second of deliberation.

But that's the thing, he doesn't want it to be possible that there is deliberation. But what's his angle. Why does he feel that it's so important to get these cases dismissed, and get them dismissed now? I just don't get it...

"James, perhaps we should allow Mr. Tailey to speak?" suggested The Chief of Police, smiling. Though most people wouldn't be able to tell, since Liam had known him for a while, he could easily read The Chief's annoyance.

"But Mr. Davis, the results are coming in a moment." Jameswald Darwil looked at Liam from the corner of his eye. "Besides, Liam Tailey appears to be daydreaming. Perhaps about his lost love?" he smirked.

Liam smirked. "My apologies Mr. Darwil, I've been attentive this whole time. Forgive me if I made you feel neglected."

"I don't need your attention." Jameswald Darwil sneered.

Liam smiled sleepily. "Is that so? Well, in that case, I think I will treat myself to a daydreaming session."

The newspaper reporters snickered at the detective's retort. Liam found the presence of the reporters in and of itself peculiar. News reporters usually weren't permitted in such important meetings, yet The Coroner adamantly advocated for their presence, saying that the people deserved the unadulterated truth. Liam wondered if there was someone specific whom The Coroner had wanted to know the results of the summit. All Liam knew for certain was that if both cases were dropped, Linnea and the citizens of Elko would receive a very sharp punch to the gut.

A group of men and woman wearing lab coats entered the front of the large, circular room from the side. They walked past rows until they made it to The Coroner, who was in the center of the front row. As Liam turned his head to the right, he could see The Coroner smiled as he took a sheet of paper from them.

"Here are the results of Marilyn Spring Apricot's autopsy." began The Coroner. He shook his head with a sad smile as the chief of police walked to him to get a closer look. "As you can see, her liver was entirely shot. If she didn't have it replaced in some capacity, she would have surely died. Though that is not the main cause of death. In her system, six different perscription drugs were detectected, all in lethal doses.The facts don't lie, Marilyn Apricot deliberately commited suicide."

Liam leaned forward with a frown. While it's true that facts don't lie, there's always the possibility that someone created an utter fabrication and is simply presenting it as truth. If he had the autopsy report, why did he wait until today to present it. He hadn't even mentioned an autopsy prior to day. It's not like he could have ran tests on Marilyn today either. Nevada stated that her funeral was being held today. It would be grossly disrespectful to run tests on the body today.

Liam felt an acute buzzing on his thigh. He took out his phone to discover that he was being called. It was Nevada. The detective sheepishly rose and answered the phone. He briskly walked down the steps and made his way towards the door that was on the opposite side of the room. "One moment" he mouthed with a sheepish smile. He was grateful that he was at the front of the large, domed blue room, for his comparatively short walk towards the exit was a lot less awkward than it could be.

Once he was out the room, he continued walking until he was out of listening range.That placed him at the entrance of the Sparks Police Hall, in front of the double glass doors.

"Hello?" said Nevada.

"Hello, Nevada." Liam answered quietly. "What do you need."

"We did it." said Nevada quickly.

"Did what, exactly?" asked Liam.

"Obtained irrefutable evidence that Marilyn was murdered!" answered Nevada excitedly.

"Okay, I want you to calmly tell me what the evidence is." Liam said carefully. "I need to ascertain if this evidence will be enough."

"Okay, we found evidence of the presence of Frando, a  substance used during a procedure to doctor corpses. We also found that the witness purchased a drug that purportedly nullifies the effects of poison in the body. Unfortunately, we discovered that Marilyn had the prescription switched out with another drug. By looking in her trash, we found evidence of Cryst, a poison which I believe was given to her during the dinner prior to her death. If that isn't enough, I also found death note written by Marilyn."

Liam blinked. "That..that sounds like that will be enough. To be honest, it sounds a little too good to be true." Liam imagined Nevada taking a note from Pandora and maniacally forging evidence through desperation. Then again, this was the same boy who freaked out once Liam discovered that his computer contained old video game ROMs.

"I know it does, but you'll see if yourself soon."

Liam frowned. He didn't need to find imaginary ways that Nevada stepped out of line when the young detective had said a way a few moments ago. "How exactly did you discover what she had purchased."

Liam detected a nervous pause on the other end. "I..I'll get to that later."

"Good god." Liam groaned. "I take it you have a way to verify the poisons in Marilyn's body."

"Yes, The Bard is coming with us to Sparks in order to run some tests on Marilyn's body." Nevada revealed.

"But didn't you say Marilyn's funeral was today? Isn't that a bit..uncouth?"

"It indeed seems a bit disrespectful, yet desperate times call for desperate measures."

Liam nodded. "That's true." How coincidental that the funeral is being held in this very city. "Well, if you're going to do something, you have to do it fast. The meeting is wrapping up soon and if you don't make it, both Miranda Cunningham and Marilyn will be forsaken."

"Wait, what!? It's only 1:15!" Nevada yowled.

"I understand your frustration, more so now that I know that both of Miranda and Marilyn were murdered. I would stop it if I could, but The Coroner has just revealed an incriminating autopsy of Marilyn. With all of the corners that have been cut for him, I believe that even the meeting will be cut short in the wake of this evidence."

"He..has an autopsy? If he already ran tests then.."

"I have my doubts. Come here and run your own tests anyway. You said yourself that you have the evidence that proves she was murdered. In that case then you must run those tests, for Marilyn's sake. How far are you?"

"I'd say about thirty minutes away, at the speed that we're going."

"Thirty minutes..?" Liam breathed in despair.

"Liam, listen to me. I'm going to make it to Sparks if it kills me, but I need you to stall for time until I get there. You cannot let these cases be closed before they're solved. It's our duty as detectives."

"Nevada, I know it's our duty, but how do you expect me to stall?"

"I don't know, think of something?"

"I doubt anything I'd say would divert much attention away from The Coroner. He seems to have everyone besides me and the chief under mind-control."

"Come on. You're Liam Tailey, Super Detective. Even if he using mind-control, you can break that control using your charm. Everyone has seen the good you have done, and they'll listen to you because of it. No new, shady coroner can undermine the greatness of Detective Liam Tailey. You've got this, I know you do."

"Get 'em Li." said the boy from the other day in a mock-deep voice.

"Okay, I'll see what I can do. Good-bye Nev."

"See you soon Liam."

After the call had ended, Liam smirked. "You sure know how to stroke a man's ego, Nev." He walked back towards the meeting room filled with purpose. He figured that The Chief was being so lenient towards The Coroner because he was knew. Liam knew that The Chief of Police would be courteous to him as well, though for the exact opposite reason. He would listen to Liam because they knew each other and he knew that Liam had experience. 

The issue was to decide how to stall. Liam knew he very could not don a cane and tophat, and dance to broadway showtunes. He'd have to talk about something that was directly related to the case. His face britghtened. He had just the idea.

If The Coroner kept going on about how Marilyn Apricot could not have been killed, Liam could argue as to how Marilyn Apricot could not have committed Apricot. Liam knew the arguement would be somewhat flimsy but it was the best he could come up with. He'd be able to argue his case, while also buying time for his partner to arrive. Liam could also use his time to speak to segway into a topic he knew he was confident about: Miranda Cunningham.

Liam Tailey entered the room with a swagger in his step before taking his seat. Liam ignored the leer that he was given by The Coroner He had a determined look on his face. I won't fail you, Nevada.

The Coroner closed his eyes and shook his head once Liam Tailey was seated. "As I was saying, in light of this new autopsy, further proceedings will be a great waste of everyone's precious time. I motion to dismiss this mee-"

Liam quickly rose and interrupted the speaker. "Mr. Darwil, I'd like to speak, if I may."

"You may not Tailey. If you hadn't noticed, I was speaking." he comabatted, sounding absolutely offended.

Liam began walking down the steps then in the front of the room. "Yes Mr. Darwil, however, you've been speaking non-stop for the duration of the meeting. I believe it is time for me to offer my two cents."

The Coroner squinted in anger. "You've been pretty much silent for this whole meeting. Why wait 'til the last minute to speak, Tailey?"

Liam put his hands behind his back and began to pace in front of the room. "I was collecting my thoughts. Biding my time until my brain stitched together a solid, coherent counter-argument. Do not misundertstand, my actions Mr. Darwil. It is not that I had nothing to say, rather, I simply did not know how to say it until now."

The Coroner stepped towards Liam, somewhat menacingly. "I don't buy that. I wouldn't buy that if it was for a cent and it came with a cold soda. Methinks that you was all hush-hush yesterday because you was daydreaming about your little ex-girlfriend and you got all angry because we were about to stop talking about her."

Liam slightly raised his eyebrows. "Mr. Darwil-"

"Enough. James, Liam has a point, and a good one at that. You have dominated the majority of this meeting so far. I believe it is high time for another qualified gentleman to speak. Seeing as this is such an important decision, I believe it would be better to hear multiple opinions, not just one. With this is mind, let's give Mr. Liam Tailey the floor, and with it, our undevided attention."

Jameswald Darwil frowned and blew a deep breath through his nose. He shrugged, then the somewhat heavy-set man walked past Liam and stood near the wall that divided the spectators from the front of the room. The wall was about three feet tall. Jameswald folded his arms, leaned on the wall, and looked at Liam.

So, he feels the need to stay up here instead of returning to his seat. Lovely. Liam turned to The Chief of Police. In the absence of his fedora to tip, the detective simply nodded towards The Chief. "Thank you."

Liam turned towards the passive viewers of the meeting. Okay, let's give it a whirl. "During this meeting, The Coroner has passionately stressed the implausibility of our "victim", Marilyn Apricot being murdered. His argument has been purely from a physical standpoint, his points being the lack of wounds and a located murder weapon, among other things. Honored guests of the summit, this is my argument: Marilyn committing suicide, whether deliberate or accidental, is highly unlikely due to her personality, her mental health, and her lifestyle choices."

The Coroner stood upright, arms still folded. "That's simply preposterous." he said annoyed. "Maybe your argument would have flew yesterday, but as they say, you snooze, you lose. You can't argue against her suicide after I submitted her autopsy report."

That's assuming that it isn't fabricated, but I'll refrain from jumping to conclusions. I wouldn't want you to blow a gasket Mr. Darwil. Liam rubbed his freshly shaved chin in search of a retort. "Yes, but..we musn't always take data at face value. In light of things that we know for sure to be true, we can come to the conclusion that the data we have is false. Consider this allegory for example. We have a perfectly healthy, happy gentleman of twenty-five. He has no health anamolies except for an unfortunate peanut allergy. Said allergy isn't that severe so our gentleman must consume a lot of them to do irreversible damage. Now say our young gentleman turns up dead in his bathroom. There aren't any wounds, yet in his autopsy report shows that he consumed an ungodly amount of peanuts given his condition. It would be a bit silly to automatically write it off as suicide when everything off points to suicide not being a very viable answer."

The Coroner raised his eyebrows at Liam, ignoring the thoughtful murmurs of the peanut gallery. "Okay, well how about another example? We'll use a Catholic Preast. Everybody trusts preasts, right? They're supposed to be doing God's work, yeah? Well, what if word gets out that one sexually assaulted a child? By your logic, aren't we just supposed to look past it since priests are supposed to be good people?"

Liam folded his arms. "Well, no. Certainly, a profession may make a crime seem unlikely, yet like any investigation, we'd gather all the facts that we can first. Due to the possibility that the priest is indeed a pedophile, he'd be detained while we investigate, and then he'd be justly tried in a court of law to determine his guilt, or lack thereof. I never stated that justice shouldn't be served, I was simply presenting the idea that conflicting evidence would make quickly arresting then convicting an indicidual is a hasty, and ultimately dangerous decision."

"Conflicting evidence? So is the boy's word not as strong as the priest's profession. Are you blaming the victim, Tailey?" hounded The Coroner.

Liam gave The Coroner a confused look. "No, I am not. Excuse me, but it seems that we have found ourselves lost in our analogies. We are discussing the death of Marilyn Apricot. Who would the so called, victim be if not for Marilyn. Perhaps the pills?"

The Coroner snorted. "Maybe. If were a pill, I sure woulnd't want to go in beer-breath's mouth."

Liam swallowed, shooting the Coroner a blank stare. Ignoring the retort, he turned to the spectators. The viewers did not seem to find The Coroner's retort in good taste either. "From what I know, Marilyn Apricot was a happy, bright, and healthy woman. I see no reason to believe that she would herself."

"Hey, Super Smart Detective Man? Did you decide to ignore the beer bottles in her house?"

Here we go, fasten your seatbelts everyone. This ride is about to get quite bumpy.. Liam folded his arms and tapped his foot. "Yes, Marilyn appeared to be a fan of beer. It isn't exactly rat poison, drinking a bottle of it won't exactly horrifically kill you."

"A bottle, Tailey? You must be out of it, there was a wall filled with beer bottles. It spilled out once your partner requested for a hole to be made in it."

"So? She could have drank with moderation. A wall full of beer bottles does not idicate that she drank a lot in a short period of time, only that the owner has an odd taste in storage."

"The house reeked of beer, Tailey!"

Liam smirked as he folded his arms. Although he knew he should behave better, he enjoyed the fact that he was running circles around Jameswald Darwil and making his cross while doing so. 

"Well, an entire wall full of beer would indeed most likely create a strong beer aroma."

The Coroner growled. "She replaced her kitchen water and freezer ice supply with Everclear. Care to explain how somewhat who only drinks in moderation does that, Tailey?"

Liam simply blinked before turning away from The Coroner and the rest of the guests. He quietly snapped his fingers and was preparing to wheel around when The Coroner spoke again.

"And before you find some way to weasel out of that one, we found multiple bottles in her dresser drawers in her room."

"Well okay, Ms. Apricot may have been a bit bottle happy, but aren't some of the best of us. That brings me nicely to my next point: Marilyn Apricot was a bright woman. She knew her limits and wouldn't dare try to surpass it. Marilyn would not have drank herself to oblivion."

The Coroner scoffed with a smile. "Maybe the Marilyn you knew was like that, but a lot changed since you last saw her. She's a raving drunk."

Liam frowned tersely as his stomach tightened. "And how would you know that, Mr. Darwil?"

"Testimonies from her neighbors."

"A Coroner running an investigation? I find that quite interesting, to say the least."

The Coroner folded his arms. "It helps with determining cause of death, among other things. Weren't you the person who said that simple data cannot be wholeheartedly trusted."

"True, yet is isn't customary for a coroner to do such things. Regardless, from what I know, Marilyn was a respectable member of society?"

"And how, do tell, do you know this? Let's keep our sources from the past five years, shall we?"

While I may not have looked over Nevada's personal files on this case, which no doubt shed more light on Linnea's perception of her aunt... Liam vividly recalled Linnea's stubborn determination to prove that Marilyn was murdered, and how such passion, combined with something else, drove Nevada to turn against him. ...I know firsthand how she felt. 

"I have a source, a Ms. Linnea Houri Harvey, the victim's high-school aged niece." he revealed, causing the crowd to murmur.

"And do you have any indication of this interview or whatever?" asked Jameswald Darwil, eyebrows raised.

"No, I do not. I only have my word."

"...of the words of someone who was naturally conditioned to love Marilyn Apricot."

Liam recalled his rocky relationship with his own relatives. "That's a gross assumption, Mr. Darwil."

Jameswald Darwil frowned. "Ever since I told everyone that I was comin' to this area, I heard the same thing: praise towards you. People told me how exciting it would be working for you, how smart, objective and good-hearted they were. Everyone expressed their wholehearted respect for you, Liam Nikolaus Tailey, Super Detective." 

The Coroner walked closer until he was a few feet away from Liam. "You want to know what I think."

Not particularly. "What do you think, Mr. Darwil?"

"I don't think you're a Super Detective at all." revealed Jameswald darkly. "I think you're a coward, who's to scared to admit that the girl you fell in love with is dead and gone." he turned towards the group. "Oh, I'm sorry. Did he not make that clear? This man had a relationship with the victim years ago. They were lovers! Seems a bit biased, don't you think? Doesn't it seem like he would have an agenda?"

The Coroner turned darkly towards Liam nad spoke lowly. "An agenda that would cause you to lie in front of countless people all so you can go back to jacking off to Marilyn without any guilt."

Liam presented The Coroner with his fierce lion stare. "My only agenda is to present the truth. If my goal was simply to vindicate my lost love, I would have adamantly fought against your word long ago."

"Yet, you still didn't make it known that you had a prior relatioship with the victim."

Liam was silent. He rubbed the back of his neck and looked away.

The Coroner smiled. "Now you're silent. I knew you were a coward."

Liam looked at The Coroner blankly. "I believe the saying goes "it takes one to know one"."

"The saying still means you're a coward."

"No more of a coward than a man that speaks non-stop, with the explicit goal of drowning out any opposition that rises, no more cowardly than a man that didn't want another person to have the floor after said reign of talking, no more cowardly than the man who doggedly advocates of the premature closing of a definite murder case, no more cowardly than the man who insults his opposition, and no more cowardly than a man who states that the only reason that a man would defend a woman is so they can masterbate to said woman." he said, his look growing fiercer and fiercer.

The Coroner stepped back, looking at the crowd who seemed to be displeased as a result of Liam's comeback. "You think you tough, don't ya'?"

"Wrong, I know I'm tough." Liam said, with his fierce lion glare. Liam's frown dissolved into a courteous smile so quickly that The Coroner blinked, wondering if he imagined Liam's glare. "But let's move away from the booze, shall we?"

The Coroner gave a devious smirk. "Yes, Tailey, let's and let's move on to the pills that we found in the victim's body."

"You mentioned that they each were an overdose, that would be a highly deliberate suicide, yes?"

"Yes."

"The only problem with that, is that Marilyn wasn't suicidal." Liam stated.

"When you knew her." The Coroner retorted.

"Okay, tell me, Mr. Darwil. Why do you think the victim would have commited suicide?"

Jameswald looked up. "Oh, I don't know. Maybe it had something to do with the crushing sadness that came with her beloved boyfriend dumping her like last week's garbage after he wrongly accused her of taking the drugs that her friend had and afterwards telling her, in his own words, to "drop dead". To kill herself with drugs, what an ironic death."

The spectators talked among themselves, and shot Liam disapproving looks. Not even The Chief looked pleased.

Liam was silent. Wait...how the hell did he know that!? His hand curled into a fist in his pocket. "Marilyn Spring Apricot..was stronger than that." he stated tersely.

"When you las-"

"Then tell me, Mr. Darwil, why now? Why kill herself now? Why not kill herself after she saw how much of..." ...a horrible, disgusting, evil, judgemental piece of shit... "volatile person I could be?"

The Coroner shrugged. "Don't ask me. You apparently know her so well."

"I have a question. Do you have any evidence that she was suicidal besides-?"

"The official report? Sure do. Neighbor-"

"Testimonies? Do you have them? May see them?"

"No, not at the moment."

"Oh, so it's a problem when I don't have documented testimonies but I suppose it's quite all right for you to lack them."

"Because I'm trustworthy."

"I'm beginning to have my doubts. May I see the autopsy. I'd like to have it verified by The Super Detective Agency's in-house forensic scientist, Peter Fretso. He's a good friend of The Chief of Police. I'm sure when Peter looks it over, he'll find nothing strange."

"If your so sure, then why have the damn guy look at it?"

"You can never be too sure with these things. There might have been a mistake, that's all, I don't mean to-"

"I know what this is, you're afraid of me. You're afraid that I'll show everyone that you're nuthin' but a fraud."

Liam folded his arms, blew a breath and regarded Jameswald Darwil darkly. "I've fault many people bigger, stronger, and more frigtening than I'd wager you'll ever be. I hope to continue to such people for a long time. My point is that you don't scare me in the slightest."

"You only beat those men by forgin' evidence!" The Coroner spat.

"That will be true the day I join Pandora Law Firm." replied Liam, causing The Coroner to grit his teeth in agitation. "Tell me, would you say that the leader of The Sharks was innocent."

"Oh right, bring him up, the only reason you're here. Your badge."

Liam shook his head. "I am here because as you said, I am respected. My badge is all of the criminals I've helped catch. Though, I wonder, why are you here. A new coroner that no one has heard of. It almost seems like you're here strictly for this case."

The Coroner began to sweat. "You wanna' go?"

Liam smirked. "I thought we were going already."

"Don't you play with me boy!"

"Why not? You sure look like a fun-loving fellow."

"What you tryna' pull!?"

"Please Mr. Darwil, let's remain professional. That means using proper English. We wouldn't want the newspaper articles to be filled with [sic]."

Jameswald stepped closer to Liam. "You wanna' take this outside, funny guy?"

And like chalk being washed away by rain to reveal the pavement underneath, his true colors are revealed. "Yes, Mr. Darwil, though only if you bring enough folding chairs for all of the spectators."

"Enough!" boomed The Chief of Police. "I know I'm not a judge but I wish to have order." he then let out a sigh and rubbed his temples. "If banter is all that you have left Mr. Tailey, then I think we can move o-"

"Move on, let's." smiled Liam before turning to Jameswald Darwil again. "How about we talk about the underepresented person in this discussion. The person who would be the most cheated if both cases are dropped. I am talking about a young girl. Two, actaully. Miranda Cunningham and her sister, Mimi Cunningham."

The Chief of Police smiled, apparently forgiving the detective. "Yes, I think it's about time we discuss that case again. Let's let Marilyn Apricot rest in piece for a moment."

"What's their to discuss, that's a long dead case." said The Coroner boredly, looking at his fingers.

"That's where you're dreadfully wrong, Mr. Darwil. A murder case is never "dead" until the murderer is found. Unlike Marilyn, where we disagree whether or not the victim was murdered, everyone in this courtroom knows that Miranda Cunningham was murdered along with her baby sister."

"Okay, everyone knows, so what? The police have been investigating for fifteen years and nothing has been found. It's pointless to continue this case active."

"Pointless? I beg to differ. There will always be a point if the truth can be revealed."

"But it hasn't for fifteen years! We've gone from trying to write off an obvious suicide to beating a long-dead horse!"

"Your precious statute of limitations will be reached in a few days! What is the point in closing the case today!?"

"Just so we can kill two birds with one stone! So we can get it off of our hands and walk away!"

"Walk away? Walk away!? Countless people were murdered, including three children! What's there to lose in keeping this case open?"

"Precious police resources that could be used to solve murders that are happening in the present."

"Well what if I use my own resources?" asked Liam.

"To solve a case this big? Impossible." said The Chief of Ploice. "If we are to keep this case open, and you begin to actively investigate, you'll need police resources."

"What are said resources?" asked Liam.

"At its core, time and money." answered Jameswald Darwil.

Liam darkly chuckled. "Time and money.." he repeated ominously. He turned to The Coroner. "Mr. Darwil, do you have a children."

The Coroner was silent. "...I have a daughter and my wife is expecting..."

Liam turned to The Chief of Police. "And you, Cornelius, do you have any kids?"

"I have three boys and a girl."

Liam made sure to project as he turned to the spectators. "While I may not have a biological child, I have the pleasure of knowing an amazing child who I would not hesitate in considering my son." he revealed. As he said this, an image of Nevada eating chocolate-vanilla soft-serve ice cream at the Dairy Queen at Windmill Parkway and Henderson, now a tradition of theirs. The Chief of Police, Cornelius Davis, smiled as Liam referenced Nevada.

"I know doubt that some of you have children as well. Now, I must ask you, as a quasi-parent: how would you feel if all of your children were brutally murdered by a psychopath? Now, how would you feel if the police department told you that they wouldn't investigate the murders, because they didn't want to spend "time" or "money"?"

Liam noticed that The Coroner's hands were balled into fists. He looked as if he would cry.

"It should be noted both Miranda Cunningham's parents were killed as well." said a spectator in a voice that sounded more like a murmur than a speaking voice.

"You are mistaken, Graham Cunningham, or rather, George Cunning is still alive. Even if both parents were deceased, the city of Elko still deserves peace." Liam corrected.

"Yes, Liam, but, it is entirely possible that the Elko Killers are deceased as well." said The Chief of Police.

"It is also entirely possible that they are not. Even if they are long dead, the citizens of Elko at least should be granted the satisfaction of knowing who the killers were." Liam replied. Everyone seemed thoughtful due to Liam's argument.

The Chief of Police stroked his chin. "Very well,-"

The Coroner still seemed shaken by Liam's words, yet he spoke. "If that is all, I will now proceed with my closing statement."

"Jameswalkd Darwil, I was just about to-"

"My cases still stand, Davis! You are just as much of an arguer as we are, not a judge, and barely a jury! Until concrete evidence has been shown, you cannot make a decision! Since Liam has none, you can't do anything. So unless you want actaully use the autopsy as a basis for a decision, I'd suggest you let me give my closing statement. After Liam gives his, we can all vote."

The Chief of Police sighed. "I suppose your autopsy-"

Shit! I'm sorry Nevada, but this is the only other way that I can buy time.

"Wait!" cried Liam. "I have decisive evidence that will no doubt sway you all as to the nature of Marilyn's case and the relevance of Miranda's case! I have evidence that sheds new knowledge on the Elko Killings, proves that the killers are still active, proves Marilyn Apricot was murdered, and connects the two cases!"

The amazed spectators spoke among themselves. 

"You do, huh!? Then where is this mystery evidence!?" he slammed his fist against he wall. "Show us, dammit!"

The Chief of Police's expression was grim. "Yes, Mr. Tailey, where is this evidence? It would have been helpful if you revealed this evidence sooner. Even though we're friends, it's almost as if you made it up..."

Liam gulped. "Nevada is heading here as we speak with the evidence." he said calmly. The Coroner went white as a sheet.

"When will he be here?" asked The Chief of Police.

"..soon." answered Liam uncertainly.

The Chief of Police rose. "We will be having an eighteen minute reccess. I advise you all to stretch or use the restroom." He turned to Liam and spoke darkly. "If your partner does not show up, I will make my decision on Marilyn Apricot's case and I will reavaluate your right to be an official detective." he said before walking away.

Liam sighed. "You have to get here quickly, Nev." he turned around once he felt the coroner tap his shoulder. He fought the urge to jump at the utter hatred in Jameswald Darwil's eyes.

"You think you a lion, but you nuthin' but a pussy." he said darkly in a low voice.

"Pardon me?"

"You talk all that shit about what if my children were murdered, but you don't care what fucking happens to me."

"I'm not sure I understand."

"You think you're helping people but you're just making it worse. If you really want everything to be all right, you should have just let Davis make the call."

"I am an agent of truth, and so are you, or at least you're supposed to be. If you were telling the truth, you'd have nothing to worry about. However, I know Nevada wouldn't lie to me, so that means you've been lying through your teeth this entire time and if that's the case, you will be invistigated, and I will make sure I am the one to do so."

The Coroner growled before stalking away.

What is going on here..and why?

IIEdit

Shelby's red convertible zoomed through the streets of Sparks with reckless abandon, per Nevada's request that she "go a bit faster". As Nevada had but his hat between his legs in fear of it flying out of the car. As the wind slapped against the detective's face, he feared that the police would pull them over or they would die in a horrible crash before they reached Liam. The sound of the roaring engine was accompanied by horn blares from other cars and frightened shouts from pedestrians.

Dr. Miracle appeared queasy, Pent seemed unaffected, apparently accustomed to his sister's driving, and Marvel was having a ball, shouting "woohoo" and requesting Shelby to go faster.

Despite the break-neck speed of the vehicle, after Nevada received a text message from Liam informing him of yet another time constraint, Nevada knew they would have to pick up the pace if they wanted to make it in time. Nevada's eyes lit up once Shelby turned down a street and he could see a large, domed building in the distance. "Slow down! This is the street we need to be on. Take us to that large, domed building!"

"Got it." confirmed Shelby. Nevada sighed in relief as she decelerated to a smooth stop across the street from the building. Nevada firmly put on his fedora and retrieved his briefcase from the floor. "Thank you Shelby."

Dr. Miracle sighed in relief as he quickly exited the car, with Pent and Marvel following suit.

Shelby pushed her leopard print shades down so that Nevada could see her small, brown eyes. "So what should I do."

"Wait here for the time being. The Bard should be coming this way soon. He'll be in a white van, just let him know that we're inside this building. After that.." Nevada thought of the police that might be searching for Shelby. "You might want to practice your speech that you'll give when the police undoubtedly show up. We'll see you later." said Nevada before quickly looking both ways then darting into the street then running to the other side. His three comrades did the same.

The four walked in a single file line into the glass building. Nevada admitted he was a bit nervous, for some reason he felt like he was walking into a showdown. Despite his anxiety, he knew that he was too far to turn back now. Besides, his new-found friends were behind him, and his long-time friend was just around the corner, waiting for him.

As the group approached a small, frosted glass door. A police officer who was standing at the side of the door slid in front of it, hands resting on top of each other in front of his body.

"This is an important meeting regarding criminal affairs. What is your business here?" asked the deep-voiced officer.

"I am Detective Nevada Johnson of The Super Detective Agency. My partner is Dtective Liam Tailey who is a speaker at the meeting. I am here as per his request to reveal important evidence regarding the affairs that are being discussed." revealed Nevada calmly and fluently as he flashed his offical, golden Super Detective Agency badge.

The officer leaned forward ever-so-slightly and squinted. He looked up at Pent, Marvel, and Dr. Miracle who were trying their best to look official with varying degrees of success. "Who are they?" he asked.

Nevada spoke without turning around. "They are my....co-workers." Nevada revealed, faltering as he searched for a word to describe them.

"Do they have badges as well?" asked the scepticle officer.

Nevada scratched his head. "No, but.."

The officer shook his head. "Then I cannot grant them access."

"But they helped me. I wouldn't have been able to-" Nevada began to argue.

"It's okay, Nev." Pent said with a smile, causing Nevada to turn around.

"But-"

"Look, what's important is that you get that evidence shown and show everybody the truth. Go before it's too late." explained Dr. Miracle.

Nevada simply looked at them sadly. 

"What are you waiting for, dumbie!? Go!" cried Marvel.

Nevada closed his eyes and nodded before turning around and walking through the door that the officer had opened.

Pent smiled. A few days ago, and Nevada wouldn't have cared in the slightest if they were granted access. Heck, he might of been the one arguing for them to be barred access.

Nevada walked into the room with determination. His free hand was clenched into a fist and his other hand tightly gripped the handle of his briefcase. I won't fail you, Liam. He then thought of Marvel then Dr. Miracle, then Pent, and then finally Linnea. And I won't let all of your efforts be in vain. I will reveal the truth. 

The Chief of Police looked at his stopwatch which began to buzz. "Okay Liam, your time is up. Mr. Darwil you have the-"

Everyone turned their attention towards the teenage boy that had entered the room and was walking at the front of it. "Sorry for the wait every-" Nevada stopped speaking as his heart leapt due to the sea of eyes trained on him. If Pent, Marvel, and Dr. Miracle couldn't come in, who the heck are all of these people. People that he could deduce to be news reporters were scribbling something.

"You're just in time Nevada." Liam smiled. "Glad to have you."

The Coroner gritted his teeth with a dark expression. "Nice to see you again, boy."

Nevada smirked. "It's good to see you too, Jameswald Darwil. I found out a bit more about you as well. Such as you visiting Marilyn's furnace."

The Coroner went white. "W-w-wha...h-h-how...?" he stammered quietly.

The young detective then turned to The Chief of Police. "It's a pleasure to see you again, sir."

"The pleasure is mine, young man." The Chief of Police replied warmly. He stood up and held his hand out towards Nevada as he turned his head towards the spectators seating in the upper rows that were at the back of the room. "This is Detective Nevada Johnson. He has come with the evidence that Liam Tailey spoke of. He has the floor. Even though he is still a child, he is Liam's partner and I expect your full respect."

Nevada smiled. "Thank you." he then turned towards Liam who shook his head.

"No, Nev, this is your time to shine. Amaze me. Amaze us all."

Nevada swallowed then nodded. "Mr. Davis, what set of evidence do you wish for me to show first? The evidence pertaining to the Miranda Cunningham case, or the evidence pertaining to the Marilyn Apricot case?"

"Well, we were discussing the Miranda Cunningham case prior to the recess, so it is fresher in our minds. You can present that evidence first. You also state that the two cases are connected, so I expcect you to smoothly move on to the next case."

Nevada nodded. "Yes, okay, understood sir." No pressure, no pressure. He turned on the projector and opened his briefcase. "Could someone switch off the lights?" The lights soon gradually dimme until the only lightsource was the pale yellow-light that came from the projector.

"The Elko Killings are surrounded by a deep fog of mystery. It is somewhat understandale for the average person to believe that keeping the case open would be a waste of time. They believe that there is nothing left to do since no evidence has surfaced in about fifteen years. If we were to find evidence, then you would no doubt believe that the original mystery can be solved. I can do better than that. I can prove that the Elko killers are still active and connected to a frighteningly recent case."

Nevada was satisfied at the sounds of amazed whispers. "What is this evidence you ask? Well I'll show you." Nevada reached in his pocket and slammed down the sapphire ring on the table. "Consider this an appetizer. This is the mysterious sapphire ring that Mimi Cunningham was in posession of fifteen years ago. It has been missing until now. I found it six days ago near Marilyn's driveway."

"That's a coincidence. That doesn't prove anything." said The Coroner, annoyedly.

"Not at the moment, but remember that ring. It's important." Nevada took note of the fact that The Coroner did not ask if he had proof that it was found near Marilyn's driveway.

"Do you have proof that it is the ring?"

"I've checked the files for Mimi's sapphire ring. It matches the description perfectly. Feel free to read the files and examine the ring yourself if you wish."

"I might just do that. Go on." said The Coroner.

Nevada took Mimi's pink camera out of his briefcase and put it on the projector. "Anyone recognize this? It's Mimi's pink camera that went missing years ago. Found in a very peculiar location which I'll get into in a minute. If the camera being here wasn't miraculous enough, the pictures we found will surely blow your minds." The crowd softly gasped as each picture was shown. "Here, we have a piture of Mimi. I'm showing this picture mainly to prove that this was in fact, Mimi's camera. Here is a picture of Honey Havara talking to someone. I believe this is adequate evidence to connect her to the Elko Killers. Up next, we have a picture of Alexander H. Louis sitting in an ambulance, thus connecting him to the case even though he was found innocent. It is for this reason that I believe that the Elko Killings were more than a one-man job. This one's a bit graphic-"

Several of the spectators turned away in disgust.

"Another picture is of the infamous procedure where the victim of the Elko Killings' brain is removed. These next few pictures are important." he showed the viewers the pictures of the naked people in the underground lab he located, as well as the picture of the disembodied brains in the same lab, and the picture of the ring in the lab. "The location of these pictures are in an underground lab in Elko that me and my associates found while investigating."

"My I have the location of this lab, so I can send a team to investigate?" asked The Chief of Police.

"Certainly." answered Nevada as he went over to Cornelius Davis and told him the precise location.

"Thank you."

"You are very welcome." Nevada turned to the crowd again. "I also interviewed people that were alive during the time of the murders. One such woman was Mrs. Benson, the widow of Thomas Benson who was murdered prior to the peak of The Elko Killings in the same manner as the other victims."

"Yes, but Thomas Benson is a male while the other victims are female. There isn't a connection." said The Coroner. Nevada was surprised at his calmness.

"I woouldn't write it off as completely unrelated considering the manner that he died. Brain removal is a peculiar way to die. Besides, he, and his students, were known to be highly intelligent, which is a recurring them in this case. The victims are all of high intelligence. Every single last one of them." Nevada then projected printed pages from Kilra Familton's website that Marvel had acessed. "In addition, he is a map of the underground complex that I was talking about. Now is a good time to begin our transition to Marilyn Apricot's case and who better  to guide us that Graham Cunningham, father of Miranda and Mimi Cunningham."

The crowd began to murmur and The Coroner shifted.

"Me and my associates were lucky enough to run into Graham, now known as George, while he was on a business trip. I will play snippets of our conversation. Do we have a CD player?" asked Nevada. A police officer provided him with one, then the detectiv produced a CD from his briefcase and inserted it into the player. He began to fast forward and listen for the part needed. "Oh, here we go." said Nevada, rubbing his hands before he pressed play.

George's voice oozed from the speakers. "I get the money from my friends, I...I met them shortly after Elise's death. As you guessed, I didn't win the lottery. I was in a motel, they promised me a fresh start, a new life, a happy life, a luxurious life with the aid of their cash and the only thing they asked in return was for me to do them favors."

The Coroner's eyes widened in horror. "Shit!" he exclaimd quietly. Liam turned towards him with raised eyebrows.

"What kind of favors?" asked Nevada from the CD. "Just introducing them to beautiful women like Marilyn." "Then what do they do after they're introduced?" "Just chat. If all goes well they date." "Your friends like dating frequently?" "Oh yeah, like I said, cooped up in labs all day remember? Always asking me to hook them up or give them some pics." "What kinds of women would you say your friends like?" asked Nevada. "Intelligent women, because ya' know, they're the scienc-y types."Nevada paused the tape. "Did you hear that. He brefriended an affluent group in order to make money and start over. In return, he'd use his newfound charisma to introduce these friends to intelligent women. Who would know Graham's sad position better than the Elko Killers. In return, they get new victims. Don't believe me? Listen."

Nevada played the part where George Cunning lists various women that he invited. "All of these women have been reported as missing shortly after leaving for George Cunning's parties."

"I also want you all to take note of what George Cunning says after I ask him these question."

"I believe you in that your associates may not have as much charisma as you but I know that they're not waste collectors. What are your friends really?"

Nevada fast-fowarded the CD a bit. "They're um...they're pharmacists!" Nevada paused the CD

"Pharmacists, like Kilra Familton. Also pay attention to when he says this." commanded Nevada.

"They only really make the medicine, they're cooped up in the lab all day-" Nevada paused the CD. "Now, listen to this."

"Did you or did you not have a woman named Marilyn Spring Apricot at one of your parties about a year ago?" Nevada asked on the CD.

"...yes, I did." answered George.

"And why was she there?" 

"Didn't you say women go to my parties because I'm rich?" 

"Yes, I did. The problem is L.A. isn't exactly a hop and a skip from Haven, Nevada and Marilyn's wealth could rival your own in its apparently infinite supply. By the way, we'll get back to that but why was she there?"

"I invited her there."

"Oh you invited her, did you? Why?"

"He said his friends told him to invite her. You have friends? I'm quite shocked actually."

"Everybody has friends."

"Not everybody. So, these friends, why did they tell you to invite Marilyn?"

"They were interested in her." stated George.

"Why?"

"Look kid, do I have to spell it out? Marilyn's h-o-t hot!"

"Okay, but why did they have you invite her to your party?"

"They knew she'd come to my party."

Nevada ejected the CD. "And this is where the two cases connect. George Cunning, who I have reason to believe is connected with the Elko Killers, invites Marilyn to one of his parties to meet his pharmaceutical "friends". Although he said that it didn't pan out, I believe that Marilyn became romantically inovled with one of these "friends"."

The Coroner twitched and Liam went pale.

"She..she became romantically involved with one of these men..?" breathed Liam.

Nevada nodded. "Yes."

"And you believe..that...this..lead to her death?"

Nevada was about to easily answer his mentor's question when he noticed how it was effecting him. "..yes, I believe so.."

The Coroner growled. "Well out with it boy! You think that some coincidences prove that a playboy is friends with a buncha psychopath now you say Marilyn was offed by her boyfriend. Prove it!"

Nevada folded his arms and smiled darkly. "With pleasure, Mr. Darwil." he slapped a note on the projector. "This is a note from a programmer friend of mine. He was able to gain access to Marilyn's corrupted phone and discovered several files pertaining to these cases. Someone tried to delete all of Marilyn's data but luckily, some were retrieved. Now I'd like to share a poem I found at a house that is connected to these cases."

Nevada cleared his throat. "....I smile at the cute buxom angel You are were at the range'When you made me change'With your sweet smile that can't be caged'And your perfectly placed fat that does not give me rage'You are the perfect human Marilyn Apricot'And I need you'I need you for my wicked desires'I need you for my twisted dreams'Let me rip your seam'So I can feel your skin'And we can make twins'Let's go to Las Vegas'So I can win like a magus'Oh Marilyn Apricot'As you are a perfect human'I now know that I'm a lowly one." Nevada shifted uncomfortably and the audience members squirmed. The Chief of Police blushed as he turned away, The Coroner covered his face with his hand, and Liam looked as if he would vomit."That in the very least, proves that the mysterious man had feelings for the victim. Now, to listen to audio files from her phone and see if the feeling was mu-"

"Stop!" cried The Coroner. "How do we know you're not making this up!?"

"Silly Coroner, do you honestly think I can construct something that believable using modern technology?" Nevada chuckled.

"You just said you had a programming friend!"

"A programmer, not a God. What are you so nervous about?" inquired Nevada.

The Coroner swallowed.

"Here we go. It should be noted that however tried to delete all of Marilyn's data was able to change the name of our mystery man. This can be faintly detected by the subtle change in background sound." Nevada began playing the other CD. The audience listened intently to Marilyn conversing with who they could only assume to be her boyfriend and as he spoke, they recoiled at him stating that he was "cooped up in the lab all day". There assumptions were all but confirmed when they heard someone complaining to "John" about his relationship with Marilyn.

Before The Coroner could protest, Nevada began speaking again. "I presume you all know of the mystery of the house that Kilra Familton bought with Elise Cunningham. Well, for a brief moment in time, to me and my colleague, it wasn't so mysterious." Nevada produced the deed to Kilra Familton's house on the projector. "In Marilyn Apricot's garage, is a map of Nevada and starred was the location where I found this deed, the poem, and Mimi's camera. Unfortunately, whoever was there at the time saw us and burned down the house."

The Coroner growled. "There is no evidence that the house exis-"

"I told you, there is a map to the burn site in Marilyn's house. I found the deed along with Mimi's camera. Given what we already know, there is no way that it  can be a coincidence." Nevava rebutted calmly.

The Coroner threw up his hands. "Fine! You've proven that there may be a connection 'tween Miranda and Marilyn!"

"May?" asked a flabbergasted Nevada.

"But you still didn't prove that she was murdered!"

"I'll do that right now, Mr. Coroner. Let us first acknowledge the fact that the crime scene was tampered with multiple times since her death, about ten days ago."

"So what!? That don't mean nothing!"

"It most certainly does. It means that something, in the very least, is most certainly amiss. Since you don't want to deal with the small-stuff, let's get straight to the point and the point is this: pills."

The Coroner leaned forward, with a toothy smile. "I'm so glad you see it my way, boy."

Nevada took out a the shard of cryst-affected glass. "But first off, let's talk poison. In Marilyn's trash is an assortment of brotken glass from what I presume is a wine glass. Her next door neighor, Lucy, attested that when she entered the house, there was a table for two. As you can see, there are crystals on the glass, an effect of the poison known as cryst. I believe that Marilyn was poisoned during her meal."

"Now we're believing the word of some crazy old lady!?" cried The Coroner.

"I was one of the first officers there! I can confirm that what her neighbor said is true!" revealed a police officer in the back, causing The Coroner to growl.

"Next up, we have a bottle for a medication known as GL889. It is a poison nullifier, thus giving more credence to my theory. Marilyn believed she was poisoined so she consulted her doctor. I will play you all his account of the event." said Nevada before playing the recording of Doctor Mantle's testimony. "However," began Nevada before opening the pill bottle, the black pills spilling out. "What is inside the pill bottle is XZ21, another poison that enchances the effect of other poisons in the body. Last but not least, a substance called Frando was found in her body which is used to doctor corpses. Oh right, and she also used a painkiller known as Flyndronx."

The Coroner growled. "You really are Liam's protege, you're nothing but a liar!"

Nevada folded his arms. "If you don't believe me, then I can run an autopsy report."

"I already have an autopsy report!"

"Then it shoulnd't conflict with the autopsy report I'm going to have conducted by Super Detective Agency's forensic scientist." argued Nevada.

"Where is this forensic expert, Detective Nevada?" asked The Chief of Police.

"Well, he's on his way right-"

"No I'm not." corrected The Bard with a grunt as he walked towards Nevada, rolling his neck. Nevada jumped at his sudden appearance. "I've been here for about ten minutes. You were just doing so well that I didn't want to mess up your flow." he smiled as he raised a hand towards Liam. "How's my favorite wannabe Casanova?"

Liam smirked. "Just as well as my favorite wannabe singer."

The Bard turned towards The Chief of Police. "How's it hanging Corny? Loving being the big cheese?"

"I can't complain. What about you, Petey?"

"Hey, I'm doing what I love so I'm happy." he turned to The Coroner. "Now, you ran an autopsy?"

"Yes."

"May I see it?"

"Why?"

"To see if I'm making any mistakes. I don't mean to insult you in any way." he then turned to The Chief of Police. "Would it be all right to conduct my own autopsy?" he asked.

"How long would it take?"

"Thirty minutes. Fifty tops."

The Chief of Police sighed. "I suppose it's all right."

"Wait, her funeral has already started!" The Coroner barked, but Nevada and The Bard had already dashed away.

..

Linea frowned as he sat in the front row of her favorite aunt's funeral. Her rear felt sore due to sitting on the wooden church bench. As she sat in he black mourning dress, she prayed that Nevada would be able to prove that Marilyn was murdered. She was the only one at the funeral who believed that Marilyn was murdered. When she tried to argue her points to her mother, she would only become agitated and everyone else gave her pitiying smiles. Despite her frustration, Linnea made sure that she didn't cry.

Her father was speaking. "..until the end, Marilyn Apricot was a strong and kind soul. I can tell you that much because of how much my daugher Linnea enjoyed visiting her "Auntie Mari". It seemed as if she liked staying there more than home. I am grateful for the kindness that my step-sister has shown me and the rest of us for years. Not many people have a heart like Marilyn..."

Linnea tightly gripped her thigh. That's bullcrap and you know it. You never liked Marilyn, you thought she was drunk. You can't even like her enough to give her the decency to believe she was murdered. You hate her so much that you slander her even after death, shaking your damn head as you say she killed herself. My aunt won't be your fucking example, old man. Sit the fuck down and stop lying through your teeth. Stop pretending that you love her. Even though Linnea said she wouldn't cry, she was beginning to fail as her eyes watered. She turned towards Marilyn, who was resting in her open casket, a soft light under her. You're gone..why did you have to leave..?

Linnea blinked and turned as she heard heavy footsteps outside. Her father ceased his eulogy and the members of the funeral turned towards the front doors where a somewhat heavy-set boy burst in. Linnea smiled. Penter Garvin..

"Stop the proceedings!" he shouted.

Nevada akwardly pushed past him. "You don't need to be so dramatic."

"Aw, but I always wanted to stop things like this. You know, weddings, funerals, births? Those kind of things." he said, smiling.

The Bard moved past both of them. "Greetings." he said loudly.

"Hi.." greeted Linnea's father. "Who are you."

"My name is Peter Fretso of The Super Detective Agency." The Bard revealed, taking out his golden badge from his pocket. "Can I examine that body?" 

"We're kind of in the middle of a funeral here."

"Ah, yes, I can see that. However, that does not answer my question." responded The Bard

Linnea's mother rose, folding her arms. "Why do you need to examine my sister's body?"

"To see what's in her body. We must determine if she was murdered."

There were astonished whispers. Linnea smirked.

"I don't understand, The Coroner said-" began Linnea's mother.

The Bard waved a dismissive hand. "Let's not worry about what The Coroner said right now. Please, can I see your sister's body? If I can't then you may be aiding a great injustice."

Linnea's mother swallowed.

"If it makes you feel better, one of you may accompany me while I examine the body." offered The Bard.

Linnea rose. "Take me."

"No, I'll go." said Linnea's mother.

Linnea frowned. "But mom, she's my aun-!"

"And she's my sister!"

"I'm the only one who thinks she was murdered!"

"Sit down young lady!" Linnea's mom snapped before sighing. "If she really was murdered...you'll get your chance to help her soon enough.." she turned towards her brother. "Get the hearse." she commanded in deadpan.

...

The lights were back on in the meeting room, and Liam, The Coroner, and The Chief of Police waited anxiously for the test results to arrive. The Chief of Police had gotten word from his team, there really was an underground lab complex underneath Elko. He was trying to piece together what this all meant.

The three men rose when Nevada and The Bard entered the room with a sheet of paper. The Bard has a wide smile on his face.

"The test results are in!" he cried. "As per The Coroner's request, I had several of his lab goons breathing down my neck to make sure everything is legit and they agree with my findings!" he revealed gleefully. The Coroner shrank as several people in labcoats glared at him.

"I've discovered thay Marilyn Apricot does indeed have Frando in her, admittedly pretty dead, systems. That allowed the crystals formed by Cryst to stay solid long enough for me to discover them, thus confirming that she was poisoined. The poison was also more deadly do to me finding, surprise, surprise, XZ21 in her body! As per Nevada's request, I also ran a test searching for Flyndronx in her body, which turned out positive. It's almost as if he knows exactly what he's talking about!"

The Coroner breathed heavily. His eyes were wide with fear. "And what...did you find out about her general health?"

The Bard laughed. "Let me tell you, this woman drank like a fish. I was getting a bit tipsy just smelling her blood. I'm telling you, if Dracula wanted to get wasted, he just has to knock on Marilyn's door and-"

Liam glowered at his co-worker. "Can you tell us about her liver?"

"Well, it was pretty good, given her drinking habits. I mean, it wasn't phenemenal but you kind of throw away the abilty to have a phenomenal liver when you drink like that." The Bard revealed.

"So her death wasn't due to liver failure?" asked Nevada.

"Not from what I could gather, no." confirmed The Bard.

"So what does that mean for The Coroner's autopsy?" asked The Chief of Police.

The Bard pushed up his glasses. "To tell you the truth, it's complete fabrication. There's already the liver discrepency, then there's the blood discrepency, the fact that completely made up drugs are in his, etcetera, etcetera. Honestly, only a fool would make a decision based on his report."

The Coroner growled.

"Oh, and here I am forgetting the most crucial evidence of all." said Nevada as he folded his arms with a devious smile.

"There's more?" asked The Chief of Police in shock.

Nevada nodded as he handed The Chief of Police Marilyn's note. "Read that aloud."

The Chief did so, and as he did, the room grew quieter and quieter.

The Coroner began to sweat. "He forged that! He could have easily cooked that-!"

The Bard pushed his glasses up. "Actually no, that was found in water. That paper is water-proof and the ink is as well. Due to the coloring however and due to the duration it was in the water, there is a bit of smearing. Assuming he forged it the day he and Liam went to look at the body, it wouldn't have smeared as much."

The Coroner swallowed.

"And that's not all, I heard you upstairs, on route to burn the original copy." Nevada revealed.

The Coroner jerked forward but was held back by a police officer.

"I believe my closing statement is in order." said Liam, walking forward. "Honored guests of the summit. These past two hours or so have been a wild ride, to say the least. The Coroner no doubt had almost all of us fooled with falsified evidence, questionable testimonies, and his instistance that no one else speak. He kept requesting for this meeting to be called off early because he feared we'd find out the truth. I only ask that knowing what you know now, to make an informed decision. I believe you know what my decision is."

The Chief shook his head. "I think we should keep it to the three of us. I believe I know what most of the audience is thinking, so it won't change the decision."

"Regardless," said a man rising. "We the people find that both cases deserve to be solved immediately. In light of new facts, we find the Miranda Cunningham case relevant. We also find Marilyn Apricot a victim of a heinous murder. Furthermore, we believe the two cases to be tightly, if albeit still a bit mysteriously, intertwined."

The Chief of Police smirked, folding his arms as he looked The Coroner. "Couldn't of said it better myself. Looks like you're outnumbered about 62 to 1, Jameswald."

"Am I now?" The Coroner asked darkly as police officers began to advance upon Liam, Nevada, and The Bard before they began surrounding them.

The Chief of Police glared at The Coroner before whistling, causing his own force to spring into action and take out their guns threateningly at The Coroner's forces, forcing them to back off The Super Detective Agency.

The Bard sighed as he pushed up his glasses. "Still outnumbered."

The Coroner shook his head. "So you'll let him have his way by lyin'!? That's all this bitch is a fuckin' liar! You wastin' precious time and-"

"Darwil, get the hell out of this room. Wait outside." said The Chief of Police calmly.

"I'm not movin' an inch."

"Then I'm afraid I'll have to arrest you." The Chief of Police replied over the sound of flashing cameras.

"Fine, I'll move, but I'm leavin' this hickville!" The Coroner said before dashing away.

"Wait!" cried Nevada. "We're not through with you!"

Liam put his hand on Nevada's shoulder. "Let him go. All that matters now is that we did it. We proved that Marilyn was murdered and that her murder was connected to the Miranda Cunningham case."

The Chief of Police nodded. "Yes, you most certainly did. I'm sorry if it seemed like I ever doubted you. I also want to thank you for revealing the truth."

Liam smiled as he lifted Nevada's fedora so he could ruffle his hair. "Don't thank me, thank Nevada. He was the one who gathered the evidence."

Nevada blushed with a small smile as he glanced away. "Oh shucks, I still couldn't have done it without a little help." 

"Super Detective Agency, I am granting you unlimited acess to state-wide police resources in order to solve these cases." said The Chief of Police.

The Bard shook with joy. "Oh boy! Bigger syringes!" he squeed.

"Oh boy! Unlimited access to documents!" Nevada squeed.

Liam rolled his eyes with a smile. "What am I going to do with you two?"

The Chief of Police turned to the crowd. "This meeting is adjourned."

"I'll be right back Liam, I have to tell the others!" Nevada cried with a smile.

"I'll meet them in a sec!" Liam called out with a smile.

Nevada burst into the outside room, causing Pent, Marvel, and Dr. Miracle to surround him. "Guess what guys. Three words."

"We did it?" asked Pent with a smile.

"Exactly!" confirmed an excited Nevada.

"But we're not done, are we?" asked Marvel.

"Far from it, I'm afraid." Nevada revealed.

Dr. Miracle smirked. "Don't be afraid. This has been a wicked ride so far, and I can't wait to get to the wicked place."

Nevada smiled. Not said in the most eloquent manner, yet I still understand his point. 

Nevada watched as a swarm of people walked around the corner outside. Liam was soon behind him.

"What's going on?" asked Liam.

"I don't know but let's find out." said Nevada before walking ahead. Liam followed him. The two turned a corner and walked down a street until they found an empty parking lot except for a lone, white sedan. The area was barricaded by fresh police tape and police officers were shooing the crowd away.

"Excuse me officers? May we take a closer look?" asked Liam. The police officer granted the two detectives access and Nevada cautiously walked towards the car. Once he was close enough to it to see inside he gasped. Looking from the passenger window, he saw The Coroner slumped forward on the wheel, dead as a gaping holes in the back of his head and his forehead oozed blood. The windshield was splattered with his brains. Nevada covered his mouth in horror. Even though he didn't like the guy, he didn't wish for him to be murdered. Was this why he was lying? Was he put up to it?

Liam put an arm around Nevada. "You've had enough for today, let's get away from this for now and grab a bit to eat." Nevada nodded silently.

As the two walked down a back-street Liam smiled. "I'm sorry that we haven't been working together. You've done enough by yourself. I think it's high time the Dutiful Duo joins together again."

Nevada smiled widely. "You mean..you're going to solve the case with me."

Liam nodded with a smile. "I sure am Nev little buddy."

"And no more hum-drum Liam?"

Liam chuckled. "Well, you've gotten this far by staying true to yourselfTherefore I think it's best if I stay true to myself and not let my emotions get the better of me. I love Marilyn, but I won't let that love make me weak. I'll let that love make me strong."

Nevada smiled.

...

After the two had eaten at a chinese resteraunt, the two were once again walking down a back-street. The two turned as a reporter approached them.

"Excuse me, Detective Liam!?" the news woman quickly and frantically said. "Could I have a moment?" she asked.

"You most certainly can. What do you need?"

"I'm with 13 Action News. Could we have a statement on the decsion of the summit you attended, as well as your thoughts on the Marilyn Apricot murder and The Elko Killings."

Liam nodded. "Certainly." he turned towards the camera and had a stern face. "Today was a close call for the citizens of Nevada. On this day, we almost closed to destructive criminal cases. They were almost closed due to lies and trickery. Luckily, justice has once again prevailed and because of it, I have been given unlimited resources by The Chief of The Greater Haven Police to hunt down the murderers responsible for the death of Mimi Cunningham and the disappearance of Miranda Cunningham as well as Marilyn Apricot's murderer. Today has taught me that no matter how cut-and-dry a death seems, it is a grave injustice to not look at it from all angles, and nothing should allow someone such as me not to give it their absolute best when investigating. Marilyn Apricot, someone I deeply loved and still love was murdered, and I was so distraught that only through the dilligence of my partner, Nevada Johsnon, was it proven that she was murdered. This is a message for the guilty, for those who wish to see the obstruction of justice. I will not stand for it, The Super Detective Agency will not stand for it, and we, the citizens of Nevada, will not stand for it. No matter what nook or cranny you hide in, you will be found and a bright light will be cast upon you so the world will see all of your hideous features. To the citizens of Elko..I admittedly don't usually believe in spirits or anything similiar, but that's the only way to explain the ghost stories that have circulated for fifteen long years. Your ghost, your mysterious The Girl Behind is the tortured spirit of Miranda. Today, I will make explicit my goal of seeing her soul put to rest, thus freeing you from your haunted highschool. Though an important step was made today, we are far from done. We must make the leap, the leap that will cleanse Miranda's soul and cleanse Nevada of these heinous criminals. I wish you all a good night."

Nevada smiled at his mentor's speech. He then looked up at the beautiful purple sunset. He had chased the clouds away.

The Super Detective Agency found themselves in embroiled in another case, yet this one was different, this one was personal. Due to the victim being Liam's lost love, he and Nevada drifted apart due to differing opinions on the nature of the case. However, this distance allowed Nevada to befriend Dr. Miracle, Marvel, Pent, and none other than the victim's niece, Linnea. With his help, he was able to find out more about a bloody case from fifteen years ago that involved a myserious sapphire ring that he found. They were ultimately able to prove that Marilyn was murdered as well as prove that the two were connected. With this, Liam and Nevada reconciled. However, the Super Detective Agency's battle was far from over. They still had more mysteries than answers, and they had two cases to solve instead of the usual one. 

Will The New Super Detective Agency be able to find their culprits and bring them to justice? 

Or will they be among the sad list of those who were murdered trying?

Super Detective Agency: The Sapphire Ring: Part Two: The Chase

QuoteEdit

"When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall." ~Mahatma Gandhi

Chapter Twelve: Getting Ready to RumbleEdit

In the cool Haven morning, the horned larks chirped their songs as the sun slowly began its ascent in the blue sky. The birds sang their whimsical songs, unaware of the grave situation that the humans that lived near them were about to find themselves in.

In the upstairs bathroom, Nevada splashed cold water on his face. He shook his head then slowly dried his face off with his face-towel. Nevada knew that he would have to get to work today in order to solve the case in a time and efficient manner. The night prior, Liam insisted that Nevada treat himself to a break, believing that he had worked hard enough the previous day. Nevada had argued that there was no rest for a detective until the case was done, and indeed, taking a break in the middle of a case was unprecedented during Nevada's time working with the legendary detective. After Liam explained that the next stretch of the case would be extremely taxing and that Nevada would need need all of his strength, the teenager finally caved in. He treated himself to strawberries while he watched an episode of a Japanese-animated television series that featured giant, dyanimically fighting robots. Nevada soon found himself drowsy so he switched off his televison set, put on a record on, and drifted to sleep. He was only awake for thirty-nine minutes after he had entered the door. While sleeping, he had a pleasant dream where he, Pent, Marvel, Dr. Miracle, and Marilyn were all pilots of the giant robots from his television show and they were fighting Pandora, Vonda, and The Leader of The Sharks. After he had woke up, the detective thought about how he hadn't remembered his dreams consistently prior to coming into contact with the sapphire ring.

Nevada walked down the wooden stairs of the agency, his left hand trailing down the wooden railing as he walked.   As he approached the bottom, the smell of omelets, waffles, bacon and orange juice crept into his nostrils. Nevada warily approached the kitchen while wearing gray slacks, long black socks, and a white, collared shirt. 

Liam was sitting on a stool at the bartop, closely reading a file. There was a neat stack of papers next to the paper that te detective was reading. He used his teeth to take the top off of a green pen and wrote something on the paper before placing the cap back on the pen. Even though Nevada was an early-bird, Liam always managed to wake up before him.

Liam looked up from his paper and turned his head towards Nevada, who was behind him. "Oh, good morning Nev. Food's in the kitchen. Feel free to make yourself a plate."

Nevada edged towards the kitchen cautiously. He peered in the kitchen and eyed the large plates filled with food sceptically.

"Did you make this?" Nevada inquired.

"No, they're from a resturaunt. I ordered." Liam informed, furrowing his eyebrows before drinking some of his coffee.

Nevada let out a sigh of relief. "Okay. I thought you were going to keep making breakfast because apparently you're some expert chef." Nevada smiled.

Liam grinned. "You know, making pancakes isn't exactly rocket science, Nevada. Of course, I'm talking to the guy who can't make a grilled cheese sandwhich correctly."

Nevada folded his arms from the kitchen. "Hey, those things are pretty hard to make."

"They're really not." Liam chuckled. He folded his arms as well. "Admit that you just aren't that good at some things." he leaned forward, his grin widening. "I suppose you're going to tell me that making duodecuple on a par three golf course is fine as well?" he said, closing his eyes before he took another sip of his coffee.

"It's perfectly fine for beginner!" Nevada defended.

"It's really not." Liam chuckled. "At least not for anyone who plans to beat me in go-olf." he added melodically. "It's alright Nev. During the zombie apocalypse outbreak, you'll know where to find me for all of your sandwhich-making and club-swinging needs."

Nevada rolled his eyes. Yep, everything's back to normal. The teasing's fine, I know he loves me, but he doesn't really need me. Nevada glanced at Liam as he made his plate. Though maybe that isn't really true..maybe, after he broke up with Marilyn, he had no one that he could deeply care for and I'm filling that hole.

"Um, Liam?" began Nevada. "Are you okay? With Marilyn's death and everything? I know you said you were going to be okay yesterday but I just wanted to make sure."

"That's a fair question given how gloomy I must have been when I realized who had died." Liam stated. He let out a sigh. "I won't just "get over" someone I love dying. I kind of doubt I'll ever completely "get over" it, but there isn't anything we can do about the past. We have to keep moving forward. I won't forget about Marilyn, but like I said yesterday, I won't let her death rule me. If I'm going to mope, I can do that after the case because if I did it now, it wouldn't be fair to all the people that are in danger due to these killers that are on the loose."

"Okay, glad to hear." said Nevada as he walked back towards the bar top.

Liam frowned. Though if I'm to be sad about anything right now, it's that I missed Marilyn's funeral. Sure, I doubt they'd be happy to see me, but I trying wouldn't have hurt. Even if I wanted to go, I couldn't because I was wrapped up finishing work from the meeting. I couldn't even see her burial. I wonder where she is. Liam closed his eyes. I guess I just owe you five more flowers for each day that I can't visit your grave.

Liam turned to Nevada. "Yesterday, you called the police. I believe you were requesting, actually, more like demanding for them to put someone under protection. What was that about?"

"I needed them to put Marilyn's personal doctor, Doctor Mantle, under protection. He was the person who confirmed Marilyn's purchase of GL889. Someone contacted him and threatened to murder him and abduct his family. Whoever killed Marilyn is paranoid and thorough." Nevada explained.

"As they should be when The Super Detective Agency is on the case. I just hope no one else gets caught in the crossfire." Liam said.

"Yeah...speaking of which..what did they find out about The Coroner?" asked Nevada.

Liam folded his arms and closed his eyes with a sigh. "They're still looking into it. They found a gun in the car but there were no finger prints, and The Coroner was not wearing gloves. The police don't believe it to be a suicide so they put the Sparks on lockdown, though nothing has come up." Liam revealed. "I believe that he was hired by the group responsible for Marilyn's death in order to cover it up. The meeting was a way to let them get away scotch free from Marilyn's murder as well as The Elko Killings. Due to his failure, he was murdered."

Nevada swallowed. While it sounded like he was up against real monsters, he wouldn't let it deter him from doing what was right. "So you know how someone threatened Dr. Mantle?" Nevada asked with a swallow.

Liam nodded. "Yes?"

"Well, given your theory, I believe that if he has a family, they may be in danger? Do you know if he has any family?" asked Nevada.

Liam folded his arms and frowned. "He has an expecting wife as well as a daughter." he revealed.

"Then you have to make sure they have protection. I'm not sure how much time we have. Those monsters might have already found them. At the very least, we must assume that they've been targeted." 

Liam rose from his chair. "That's very smart and kind Nevada, I'm proud of you. Since I've been given unlimited access of police resources, my first use of them will be to track down Jameswald Darwil's family and ensure their safety. I'll go do that now." said Liam before going to the house phone, contacting the police department, then making his request. 

Liam returned to Nevada, sat on a stool, then faced his partner.

"So, what's next?" asked Nevada

"We've reached the next phase of this case. After reviewing what we know, we'll go from there. Out goal is now to find out who murdered Marilyn as well as capturing those responsibe for the Elko Killings and the countless abductions after it. By the end of the day, we'll need an explicit plan of attack. Oh, and I also need you to call your friends and tell them to come here."

"Okay, I'm on it." said Nevada. The teenage detective called his friends and requested them to come to The Super Detective Agency.

"Now, you tell me Nevada, what do we know so far? Specifically about the killers." asked Liam.

Nevada rubbed his chin. "Well, we know that they were doing research on Native-Americans as well as on intelligence prior to the Elko Killings. They murdered Thomas Benson presumably due to his intelligence. During The Elko Killings, they has a large underground research facility. As you know, they killed their victims by removing their brains. Towards the last stretch of the Elko Killings, Mimi Cunningham was abducted. There, she took pictures proving that Alexander H. Louis and Honey Havara were involved in the Elko Killings. In proving that Louis was involved, she also proved that there was more than one person responsible for the killings. When she returned, she lacked her camera but had gained a sapphire ring. The ring is apparently the twin to The Ruby Ring also known as the Red Ring of Hell which is currenly being held in The Churchill County Museum. They spoke of The Ruby Ring in Mohave-American legends. The Sapphire Ring was connected to The Elko Killings due to the research involving Native-Americans. The ring was also shown in the underground lab. When Mimi Cunningham was found, she had apparently lost her mind and the only thing she cared about was the ring. Mimi was later found in Vya, ead due to being hanged. Cecil disappeared with only a possible suicide note left as evidence. Miranda disappeared, though one person says they encountere her covered in blood in the highschool. Elise Cunningham divorced Graham and lived with Kilra Familton to live in his cottage in Schell Creek, where evidence pertaining to both cases was later found. Unfortunately, Elise's brainless remains were later found on Route 66. Honey Havara robbed a bank then disappeared with one million dollars. Meanwhile, Graham Cunningham, lost, depressed, and confused is approached by the Elko Killers who made him an offer. In exchange for riches, he'd lure intelligent women to his penthouse in order for his "friends" to abduct then ultimately kill him. According to Graham, now going by George Cunning, these "friends" work in pharmaceuticals, much like Kilra Familton. About a year ago, Marilyn Apricot was invited to one of George's parties. There, she met George's "friends". One friend being a man who we'll refer to as John Doe. However, instead of killing her, John Doe pursued a romantic relationship with Marilyn. This can be guaged by his letter, found in Kilra Familton's house as well as their phone calls.For some reason, in Marilyn's garage was a picture of Nevada with Schell Creek starred. About twelve days ago, Marilyn had a dinner for two where she was poisoned. Knowing that she had been poisoined, Marilyn contacted Dr. Mantle in an effort to save her life. Unbeknownst to either of them, the experimental drug that he had perscribed to her was replaced with another poison. After taking the new poison coupled with a pain medication, Marilyn's health complications grew worse, with one sign being the trail of blood she coughed up. Aware that her death was near, Marilyn wrote a letter adressed to her niece, Linnea. After her death, someone tampered with her house as well as her body in order to make it appear as though she wasn't murdered. In case the measures were not sufficient, Jameswald Darwil was planted as a coroner to ensure that her death wasn't declared a murder. Once we arrived a few days later, the exterior of the house was swarming with insects much like Kilra Familton's cottage. The Sapphire Ring was also discovered outside of her house after being missing for approximately fifteen years. In an effort to destroy the most damning evidence that Marilyn was murdered, Jameswald Darwil burned a copy of Marilyn's letter, unaware that she had a spare for such an occasion. A few days, later, me and Linnea discovered several pieces of evidence in Kilra Familton's house including Mimi's camera and Marilyn's lover's letter. The house was located due to the aforementioned map in Marilyn Apricot's garage. . We were chased away from the property by an unknown man on a motorcycle. The following day, the cottage was discovered to have been burned down, likely in order to hide evidence due to its discovery Later, in wake of The Super Detective Agency proving that Ms. Apricot was indeed murdered, Jameswald Darwil was found dead in his car."

"Very detailed, yet concise. Good work Nevada. Now we need to decide what or who to investigate in order to catch our killers." said Liam.

"Unfortunately for us, the people we're looking for are extremely cautious. From burning houses that we discover, to tampering with evidence, to coercing people by threatening their families, whoever are responsible wish for their crimes to go undiscovered and are willing to go to great lengths to do it. We already had our jobs made out for us once they found out that the public at large knew Marilyn was murdered." Nevada frowned and leered at Liam from the side of his vision. "Not helping matters was a certain detective going on television and explicitly telling the killers that he was on a hunt for them.

Liam slightly opened his mouth to say something before he simply let it stay open, unable to think of something.

"Care to explain your logic, Mr. Tailey?" asked Nevada, folding his arms.

Liam scratched his head, glanced away from Nevada, and blinked. "Well, it was spur of the moment."

"Oh, so you didn't think about the repurcussions, eh?" asked Nevada, raising his eyebrows.

"I did, I just didn't think they'd be that severe."

"They're pretty severe."

"That's completely subjective." retorted Liam, folding his arms with a frown.

"Not really."

"Well, my speech is besides the point."

"Not really." chucked Nevada.

Liam threw his hands in the air. "Well, ignoring my "grand folly" for now, what do you believe to be our best course of action?" the detective asked, somewhat perturbed. Drat, that wasn't your smartest move Liam. This group is already leagues more cautious than any of our previous perpitrators, and my televised speech most likely made our lives much more difficult. I can't imagine them doing anything but hiding and burning their tracks at this point. This is shaping up to be our hardest case yet...

Nevada scratched his chin. "Well, for one, I believe more research on the two rings is needed. We can start at The Churchill County Museum. We can also question a certain Old Man Noah." suggested Nevada. He thought about how unsuccessful his previous meeting with Noah went.

Liam raised his eyebrows slightly in questioning. "You think we should spend time looking into the rings?"

"Yes. The Sapphire Ring plays a role in Miranda's case and it also showed up near Marilyn a few days ago. Furthermore, the Kilra Familton was doing research on it. If we can find out precisely what's so important about the rings in relation to the cases, maybe it will help find the killers."

Liam slowly nodded. "All right. It's worth a shot. Anything else?"

"You wouldn't happen to know which sister Marilyn was speaking to on the phone, would you?" inquired Nevada.

"I would. That would be Samantha Harvey, Linnea's mother. Why?" asked Nevada.

"Well, it would obviously help if we knew more about our John Doe," began Nevada. "And Linnea seemed as surprised to find out that Marilyn was involved with someone as you are. Since Sa-..Mrs. Harvey seems to know him, or at least of him, I believe it would be in our best interests to question her."

"The pain of her sister's funeral is no doubt still fresh in her mind." stated Liam. He began speaking again once he saw Nevada's dissatisfied look. "Nevertheless, her information is crucial to this case. We will get to question her, maybe just not first thing tomorrow. I should add that I think it's important to track down George Cunning and question him once more. I'm certain he'll reveal more information if he's in a police station and we need all the information we can get. Furthermore, he might reveal to us the whereabouts of Honey Havara, and I've always believed she's crucial to solving the Miranda Cunningham Mystery." 

Liam then frowned. In light of everything that I've learned in the past day, I'm almost certain that those two men that I conversed with at the Chinese restauraunt are somehow connected to this large case, though I have no idea where I'd find them. I suppose looking in the registry is a start..

"Speaking of Miranda Cunningham, we should also go back to Elko and take a closer look at that underground facility." Nevada's face began to redden.  "We left the facility..prematurely, and as such, only scratched the surface of it. Maybe they still utilize the facility or at the very least, keep files inside."

"That isn't likely. It's extremely unlikely that they'd still operate in Elko and due to where George lives, I'd wager that they don't even operate in Nevada anymore. Even so, looking into the facility couldn't hurt." 

"If they're not in Nevada, then the next place to look is in California." said Nevada.

Liam shook his head. "I'm afraid it isn't that simple. I've been given unlimited police resources for Nevada, nowhere else. There would be a lot of red tape involved in searching California and I fear it would require time that we do not have. If I feel the need, then I'll try to get a search conducted in California."

"Well, if we can't search in California right now, then let's search in Nevada. Let's use all available police officers to search for a their base. You never know if they might stumble upon something." Nevada suggested.

"Noted, I'll see what I can do."

"We should also investigate Happy Health Horizon. We might be able to find out exactly how Marilyn's perscription was swapped." Nevada stated. "I can also talk to Doctor Miracle and see if he can find a website or computer that will yield helpful information. I'm afraid I don't know how to go about investigating programs that well. Oh, I know! He can access emails between George and his friends!"

Liam raised his eyebrows. "That sounds..a little illegal..."

Nevada reddened again and looked away. "Right, right." "Um, we should also investigate Marilyn's house once more. Maybe you'll be able to find something I didn't. I also want to check her files. According to Pent, they were all just recipes, which I found strange."

"Marilyn was an avid cook, you know."

"Yes, but given her and Linnea's "detective games", I find it strange that she doens't have crime files." Liam wondered what exactly her "detective games" were like while Nevada realized that's how the infamous Black Cat was able to track down criminals, by investigating their crimes.

"I suppose it's worthy of another look." Liam rose with a smile before stretching. "I believe this is enough for now. I'll think of more things to investigate later. Right now we have a fine back-bone for our investigation plan." Liam turned towards the living room and frowned as he pointed under the television. "One, unrelated question. Since when did you have a black Gamecube?" he asked.

"Oh, that's Pent's. He asked if he could leave it here."

Liam nodded. "I see. Well, look alive, Nev." he said with a smile. "We'll have company soon."

...

At the sound of Westminster Quarters, Liam knew that Nevada's friends had begun to arrive. He opened the door with a warm smile. The first to arrive was the boy that he had met at McDonald's a few days prior, Pent, he believed his name was.

The boy was beaming as he held up a news paper article. Liam squinted at the black-and-white paper. The man on the cover was none other than himself. The heading read: Investigative Super Star Liam Tailey Promises to Track Down Elko Killers and Chase Ghosts Away

"Do you read the papers often?" asked Liam with a smile.

"No, but my eyes pretty must bugged out of my head once I saw you were on it! The speech you gave was so cool! I ran to the tv to see if I could catch it on the news and there you were, sticking it to those killers!" Pent explained with a smile.

Liam smiled. "It was nothing, though I'm glad you enjoyed it." Heh, at least someone enjoyed my speech. He motioned for the teenage boy to enter. "Come on in, we wouldn't want you to roast out here."

Pent entered before sliding on his knees towards the Gamecube, causing Liam to blink in perplexity. Pent sighed as he rubbed the top of the conole.

"I see you kept my girl safe, Nev."

Nevada smirked. "You know it."

Soon, the fancy doorbell rang again, and Liam went to answer it. 

Nevada heard someone clear their throat before he heard Dr. Miracle say, "Greetings." He was a bit taken a back due to the fact that he didn't greet with "yo'" or "what's up?".

Nevada then heard a sniff. "Nice cologne." complimented Marvel.

"Why thank you." replied Liam. "Come on in." 

Everyone heard a light thump as well as a yelp from Marvel. "I told you not to say anything about the smell!" Dr. Miracle quietly growled.

Marvel shook his head. Despite Dr. Miracle's reaction, he was not detered from talking to the detective whom he found cool. "So Liam, do you fight bad guys?"

"Fight as in..." Liam trailed off.

"You know." Marvel punched and kicked in the air. "Wa-chaw!" he said.

"Heh, the karate is Nevada's thing." Liam smiled sheepishly.

Marvel widened his eyes in disbelief as he turned to Nevada. Dr. Miracle and Pent were fairly surprised as well.

"And don't you forget it." Nevada said with a straight face as he folded his arms.

The doorbell rang for a third time. Last but not last to arrive was Linnea wearing her leopard shades once more. Due to the heat, she was wearing pink daisy duke shorts, pink flip-flops, and a sleeveless blue shirt.

"Top of the morning to you, Ms. Harvey." Liam greeted with a smile.

Linnea walked right past the detective as if he hadn't spoken, removed her shades, then put them in her pocket. Liam blinked.

Linnea smiled as he saw Nevada. "Nevvie!" she cried before running to him and embracing him in a hug that nearly threw him to the ground.

"Did you sleep well?" she asked.

"Yes, h-how about y-you?" stammered Nevada as he blushed, his lower regions stiffening at Linnea's touch.

"I slept like a baby because I knew I'd get to work with you again and here we are!" she smiled.

Liam closed the door and walked forward. "You don't get to work together yet. There are a few things we must go over first. Let's begin this meeting. If you would, everyone take a seat." Dr. Miracle and Marvel sat on the small couch, Pent and Linnea sat on the other couch, Nevada pulled over a stool to sit on, while Liam remained standing.

"To begin with, let's go clockwise and state our names and professions. I'd like to know you all before I talk your ears off." Liam stated. "Let's start with you, Nevada."

"Nevada Leroy Johnson, detective." he stated without smiling.

Pent smiling. "Penter Samuel Garland Sir! I'm an eleventh grader at Dekel and Del Highschool!" he stated.

"Garland." Linnea said lowly through her teeth.

Pent leaned towards her. "What was that, princess?" he said with a smile.

Linnea frowned and pushed his head away. "My name is Linnea Houri Harvey. I'm an amateur detective. I'm Marilyn Apricot's niece, if that matters."

"I am Liam Nikolaus Tailey. I must confess my profession as a Super Detective, that is to say, a detective nigh without peer." he smirked.

Linnea sighed and rolled her eyes in annoyance.

Marvel and Dr. Miracle spent about twelve seconds mumbling to each other before speaking.

"I am Donatello Asiyeon Griffin and this is my student, Jasper Shabh Delino. We are programming experts."

Pent, Linnea, and Nevada waited for them to urge Liam to call them by their nicknames. When they didn't, they looked at eachother in shock.

"Anyway, Nevada tells me that you assisted him in prooving that Marilyn was murdered as well as gathering evidence on the Miranda Cunningham Mystery. I'm thrilled that Nevada was able to make friends, friends that have an apt for investigating, no less, but now that I am on the case in full and because all of Nevada is watching, I can't let you continue helping him as you are." Liam revealed.

Linnea frowned as she began to sweat. "What do you mean you can't let us continue helping him?"

"As you are." Liam repeated. "Currently, you are nothing more tan civilians, civillian children at that. The body count for these past ten days is a guaranteed ten. If you wish, I can grant you temporary Super Detective Agency membership, but you must accept the risk. I won't lie and say you will not get hurt. You may very well get hurt, you may even lose your life. I will try to protect you but I won't be able to do that at all times. If your fear for your life will outweigh your love of justice, then leave now. If you join the Super Detective Agency, you must be fully commited to our cause. You will have to pull all-nighters and go places that may make you uncomfortable, talk to people that may make you uncomfortable. That isn't to say your time with the agency will be filled with turmoil. Even though there is little time for leisure, you will form bonds and friendships with your fellow investigators that will last a lifetime. Now, I must ask you, are you all willing to cast away your comforts to bring justice to the people who killed Mimi Cunningham, Elise Cunningham, Miranda Cunningham, Cecil Wallis, Jameswald Darwil, Marilyn Apricot, and many others?"

"I am." said Linnea without hesitation.

Liam nodded. Of course she's determined, this is her aunt we're talking about.

After a moment of thought, Pent smiled. "Sounds good to me."

Dr. Miracle took a moment to think. "It would be an honor sir."

Miracle seemed to have the most hesitation before swallowing. "Yes, I'll do it because it's the right thing to do, Mr. Tailey."

Liam smiled. "Excellent. Though I'm afraid to say, that won't be enough. I'm legally bound to have your parent's written permission before I go forward and name you honorary members of The Super Detective Agency." Liam handed thefour outsiders packets of papers. "Please have your guardians read over the papers and sign if they feel that you can accompany me and Nevada. I understand if they refuse, just have them call to inform me if they do indeed decline. I need those signed papers or a phone call immediately. Any questions?" Liam put his hands behind his back.

The detective pointed at Marvel, who had raised his hand shyly. "Yes?"

"Um, Mr. Tailey sir? Nevada said that four days ago, the statute of limatations for the Miranda Cunningham case was a week away. That means that we only have three days left." Marvel stated somehwat nervously as he fidgeted in his seat.

Liam smiled. "You're not even a part of the team yet and you're worrying about the specifics of the case. I'm aware that we're running a bit short on time. Don't worry, I'll work something out. Any other questions?"

No one else raised their hands.

"In that case,this meeting is adjourned." stated Liam, hands behind his back again.

The children scrambled out of the room and out of the building in order to make it back home quickly.

Liam jerked his thumb towards the window. "I'm going to go have badges made for them."

Nevada nodded. "All right. I'll stay here and review the case."

"Catch you later Nev." Liam said with a smile as he walked towards the coat rack.

..

Linnea walked down the sidewalk, the sun shooting its hot rays down to the world below. Due to the brightness, Linnea had put on her shades once more. As she walked, her steps were accompanied by an obnoxious "flop". Though she passed many people during her walk to her house, she ignored them all, her mind preoccupied. She frowned as she rubbed the sweat off of her forehead. 

There wasn't a doubt in Linnea's mind that she wanted to join The Super Detective Agency. Her main pull towards joining was her deceased aunt. She couldn't bear the thought of idly standing by as others investigated her beloved aunt's death.

As if I'm just going to go home and let others solve this mystery! I loved aunt Mari and life and I love her in death. It's my duty as her niece to find the truth, and even more so since I was the only one in the family to stand up for her. Linnea's muscles tightened. Those bastards took my auntie away, and I'm going to find them. I'll avenge her and make them pay! They won't even know what hit 'em! Aunt Mari would also be proud to know I'm solving another mystery too. Even if I have to work with Liam Tailey, I'm going to join The Super Detective Agency because I should be the one who finds her killer because before Liam and Nevada, was the one who knew she had been killed.  Linnea lowered her eyelids. I'm not worried about mom or dad letting me join either. Mom even said that "I'll get to help her soon enough", so I guess she's on my side now. She sighed. Thank god.

Linnea ignored the heat for the burning in her heart was far hotter.

The teenage girl then thought of Nevada. A nice consolation is the fact that I get to see Nevada again. I'm worried that if I don't work with him, I'll never get to talk to him again. She groaned. Why am I thinking about boys at a time like this. Despite her groan, she smiled, for she knew that Nevada was a special kind of boy.

..

In contrast, the route that Marvel and Dr. Miracle were taking to get to their homes saw little other people travelling on it. Dr. Miracle, long accustomed to spending his days in his dark, secret lair in the school, found himself extremely uncomfortable walking in the shining sun. Due to this, the young man squinted and looked towards the ground.

If he were to say that he was not in the least bit worried by the prospect of dying, Donatello Griffin would be telling a bald-faced lie. Almost everything he did, he did with the goal of self-preservation in mind. He often did things of questionable legality on the web and would go to great lengths to maintain the utmost anonomynity. Despite this worry, he wouldn't be detered too much. Dr. Miracle had a cockiness about him, cockiness that said, if he was just a little bit careful and used a sprinkle of common sense, he could cheat the law, or in this case, death. 

However, more than his cockiness, the thing that drowned out his reservations about his own safety was the prospect of respect. Throughout highschool, Dr. Miracle had the distinct feeling that he was invisible. Despite his brilliance, not many people knew his name. Even though, like Pent, he had also fancied Linnea, the girl wasn't even aware of his existance until a few days prior. The ones who did notice him treated him with disdain due to his homeliness, his mannerisms, and his hobbies. He tried his best not to mind, yet he acknowledged that lack of love could really grate on a man's soul. Part of the reason why he had adopted the persona of Dr. Miracle was to ensure that he had grabbed people's attention, that he would be noticed and not looked over like Donatello often was.

However, he had managed to get a taste of something that made him absolutely ecstatic. He had felt it when he was with Nevada, questioning Mrs. Little. Respect. Power. A respect that he never felt when hacking. He said his name and who he was with, and it carried so much respect. He could say it and everyone would know who he was and that he was important. He sometimes felt like a rat when hacking due to its negative connotations but he felt when he was doing it to solve a murder, it really meant something great. He was helping people, and even though it was (more) lawful, he didn't feel that he was feeding The Man. He felt that he was sticking out for the little guy.

Then there was the power he felt when he was interrogating George Cunning. He had the power to ruin someone's life at the stroke of a key, though he was more accustomed to this feeling. It left him feeling invigorated. Though he liked it more than ever because this also wasn't for selfish gains.

Oh yeah, this a gig that you don't just pass him.

Marvel frowned as he walked with his hands behind his back, swaying his head slightly as he walked.

Unlike his mentor, the prospect of dying frightened him quite a bit. While externally he had inherited much of his teacher's cockiness, internally he still doubted himself more often than he liked. Though he hid it fairly well, when Liam started speaking about dying, he became terribly spooked. He thought of never getting to eat his grandmother's cookies, he thought about never drinking lemonade again, he thought about never touching a keyboard ever again, and he shuddered at the thought of never seeing Dr. Miracle again, speaking nothing of the excruciating pain he imagined. If did decide to join The Super Detective Agency, he wondered how he coped, given how frightened he was in the undergound facility in Elko.

Marvel turned towards his squinting friend. Though if Miracle ain't afraid, I won't be either. I know he wouldn't let anything bad happen to me!

Ignoring death, Marvel wanted to help because of the Miranda Cunningham case. He did care about Marilyn, just not as much as Miranda, Cecil and Mimi. Marvel thought it absolutely horrible that children could be so brutally victimized. He found it heartwrenching that their case would be closed in a few days, and that's why he asked Liam about it. He wanted to see that justice was served and didn't think it was fair that they could just be brushed aside. 

Marvel blushed. He wouldn't admit to anyone that he thought Miranda was really cute..

The master and the apprentence continued their trek through Haven.

..

Several people yelped and jumped out of the way of the gleeful teenager who was speeding down the sidewalk on his red bike. It helped that he constantly rang his bell and that the bike ceaselessly squeeked, though if someone wasn't dilligent with their dodging, they would surely be ran over by Penter Garvin.

The helmet wearing youth sped down the street on his shoddy red bike with a toothy grin.

There's no way I'm not going to join Nev and Liam! I already helped a bit, why not help more!? Nevada's a super cool dude, and I wouldn't want him getting all weird again like he was before we met. It'll be super fun to hang out with him some more and solving mysteries and catching bad guys will be wicked! Pent smirked. Besides, I get to spend more time with Linnea Houri Harvey.

I know Dad won't have a problem with me helping out as long as he knows Liam's there. Mom might not be as on board but I'm sure pops'll calm her down.

Pent brought the bike to a screeching halt as his phone began ringing. He quickly snatched it out of his pocket and smiled once he saw who was calling. If it isn't my second favorite person right now!

...

As Nevada looked over his notes and made additions, he began thinking about the future of the case.

Even if I had the option of not going through with this, I would still push forward. I know that there are things greater than myself and this case is a prime example. So many people have already lost their lives thanks to the culprits and it would be a grave injustice to sit back and do nothing. Sure, this case may be difficult, but no mystery is easy to solve. That's why it's a mystery. Though I sense death is all around this case, I don't fear. I know in my heart (even if I don't listen to that a lot) that justice will be served. If I fall, Liam will finish the job. Nevada dared not imagine the both of them falling.

I'm not a lawyer. I don't bend and twist the truth for my own agenda. I'm a detective. I find the raw truth and expose it to the world to make sure that justice is served. I don't do this for money or to meet a client's evil wishes, what I do, I do for the love of justice...

Nevada closed his eyes, imagining Mimi Cunningham hanging in Vya, Miranda Cunnigham screaming while covered in blood, and the naked Marilyn laying serenely in her bed, lifeless.

..and for the hatred of evil.

..

At sunset, Liam looked over the badges he had ordered. The Bard was sitting on the couch, reading the latest issue of Forensics Monthly.

Liam looked up as he heard the doorbell. "Nevada, could you get that for me?"

Nevada opened the door. "They're here!" he called.

"Who?" inqured Liam.

"Everyone!"

The Bard raised his eyebrows. "Who exactly is everyone Liam?" Liam smiled and held up a hand as he went to the door. 

The four handed him various signed papers.

Pent smiled as he put his hands behind his head. "My pops signed as soon as I told him you would be on the team too. He said "well, if Tailey's on the case, then I don't have anything to worry about." Liam smiled.

Liam turned to Linnea. "And how did your mother respond?"

Linnea folded her arms and sighed. "Same way basically. She seems to respect you, despite everything that has happened."

Linnea doesn't seem to like me at all. This will never do.

Liam squinted at the lined sheet that was stapled on to Marvel's signed permission sheet.

"It's a list of my food allergies." Marvel sighed. "My mom said she wouldn't sign unless she added that. She says commit it to memory."

"Duly noted." Liam said with a nod. "Well, come on in. Time to collect your badges." he began to speak again as the group followed him in. "Welcome to the team. Take a good look around because this place will become like your second home. As part of The Super Detective Agency, you'll be privvy to certain resources. I expect all of you to follow the law." he turned to Dr. Miracle and Marvel. "Nevada informed me of your..abilities. Do not fret, I will find a way to put them to good use."

Linnea gawked as she ran her hand over her personalized badge which lay on the bar top next to the others in a single file.. Unlike Nevada's golden badge, theirs were  silver amd the star in the middle was bronze and under it, it had the words "Temporary Member". Despite this, she, and the other temporary members loved them.

"Uh, Liam? Who are they?" asked The Bard nervously. At the sound of his voice, everyone turned towards him, causing him to sweat some more.

"What's wrong Peter?" Liam asked with a smirk. "Frightened of a couple of children."

"Well, Nevada's a kid and I sure wouldn't want to screw with him." The Bard defended.

"Anyhow, these are the temporary members. Everyone, this is Peter Fretso, also known as "The Bard". Don't mind his shyness. And Peter, don't mind them, they don't bite."

Pent smirked with his hands behind his back. "Well, I'm not so sure about Linnea over here." he said, causing Linnea to elbow him in the side.

"There are two other members of The Super Detective Agency, the Kitigiri twins, though unfortunately, they are abroad taking care of business." Liam revealed. "I'm certain they would love to meet you. Jan loves children and Jak always is asking about new members."

Liam pulled out a small flip-notebook. "I have finished working out the schedule for the investigation. Things should go very smoothly since we have so many hands on deck. Since Miranda's case is so close to being closed, we'll focus mainly on that one tomorrow. Me and Linnea will investigate Marilyn's house, Nevada and Pent will gather more information on the ring, and Donatello, The Bard, and Jasper will look into the missing women that attended George's parties as well as look into Elko police records."

Linnea sighed. Alone with Liam, great..

Liam smiled. "Call your families and tell them not to cook, because in celebration for joining the team, I've ordered pizza!"

Pent pumped his fist in the air. "All right!"

Marvel grinned. "Now that's what I'm talking about!"

The Bard's stomach growled. Nervousness makes me hungry...

Dr. Miracle nodded with a smile. "I knew I made the right choice."

And so the expanded Super Detective Agency enjoyed their first meal together. It would be their last meal before they were thrust headfirst into the treacherous case.

...

The early summer night was cool as the newly inducted temporary members of The Super Detective Agency made their leave for the night, going to get some well-needed rest before the trials that awaited them. Nevada was the one who saw them off with waves and half-smiles.

Linnea was the last to leave, leaning on the threshold to the front door as she texted on her phone. When Linnea was preoccupied wiyh her cellphone, Nevada would steal glances at the charming girl.

Linnea sighed as she slipped her phone into her pocket. She turned to Nevada with a small, sheepish smile. "Sorry Nevvie, my folks should be here any minute."

Nevada waved his hands quickly. "Oh no, it's not a bother at all!" the detective quickly confrimed. He turned away from the girl and scratched his head as his face began to grow hot. "I..um, actually like staying with you, waiting for your ride."

Linnea pushed off the threshold, standing up as she turned towards Nevada. "You do?" she said in a voice slightly deeper and quieter than usual.

Nevada began to blush. "Well, erm, t-that is to s-say I don't mind staying with you, since there is a distinct difference." he stammered.

Linnea chuckled. "It's fine, Nevada." she reasurred, leaning on the theshold again.

Nevada frowned. Is she mocking me again. Oh yes, this is the perfect time for that... Nevada began to fish in his back pocket. "Oh yes, before I forget.." he took out a folded piece of paper from his back pocket and handed it to Linnea "I have something for you."

"What is it?" she asked, taking the piece of paper and quickly unfolding it.

"A crucial piece of evidence that I found yesterday. It really helped us out in proving that Marilyn was murdered, and for obvious reasons." he explained.

Linnea scanned over her deceased aunt's final message, her eyes slowly filling up with tears as she read. About halfway through the letter, gravity worked its magic and brought two streams snaking down her face. She began to quietly sniffle.

Concern spread across Nevada's face as he stepped forward. "Hey, are you okay?" he asked.

Linnea nodded. "I'm..I'm fine Nevada." she began to smile despite her tears. "This letter just tells me that I was meant to work with you. By working with you, I was following auntie's wishes without even knowing it."

Nevada smiled as he handed her his handkerchief.

"Thanks. Linnea said before carefully wiping the tears away. "I know that together we'll be able to catch the ones behind this mess."

Nevada nodded with a smile. "I'm sure we will."

Linnea amiled as she looked into Nevada's eyes, still clutching the paper. The detective squirmed a bit, but did not avert his eyes. Linnea turned around as he heard an engine.

"Looks like my ride is here, see you tomorrow Nevvie."

"See you tomorrow Lennie..."Wait no, that's stupid. "...a. Goodnight."

"Goodnight." said Linnea before turning around and walking away.

Chapter Thirteen: Mysterious WorldEdit

Nevada,  Liam, and The Bard exited the agency the following morning. The Bard was wearing a black backpack which contrasted with his long, white pants and white, short-sleeved shirt.Nevada and Liam were both carrying briefcases, though Liam's was larger. In addition to his biefcase, Nevada carried his blue-haired, Japanese idol notebook. Nevada wore a green checkered shirt with beige dress pants. Liam wore a gray vest with a white, button-up short sleeved shirt and gray pants. Due to the forecast of the day's high being 105 degrees Farenheit, the two detectives decided not to wear their hats. The Bard admitted to himself that they looked a bit peculiar without them.

Nevada leaned against the brick wall of the agency with his arms folded. He isgnored the hot, bothersome sweat droplets that were forming on the top of his forehead where his brown hair met his bare, peach skin.

Liam took retrieved his pocket watch from his left psnts pocket. The golden chain dangled as he flicked the device open and examined the face of the watch.

"Let's see if the new recruits are punctiual." stated Liam, putting the pocket watch back into his pocket. It was seven-forty-nine AM. The members of The Super Detective Agency were to meet in front of the agency in a mere minute.

Much to The Detective's pleasure, Linnea, wearing a blue sleeveless shirt with a fashinoble belt around her stomach and tight gray pants ythat reached slightly above her ankles,  quickly walked to the meeting spot from down the street. Nevada noticed that she was rapidly chewing something as she approached. Before she made it to the agemcy. she spat it out into the trash receptacle that was in front of the agency's front entrace.

"Good morning Linnea." Nevada greeted, hands in his pocket.

"Mornin' to ya', Nevvie." she replied cheerfully.

The Bard chucke as he leaned towards Liam who was smirking. "Isn't young love adorable?"

"Yes, but it can also be painful, but let's keep our fingers cross that Nevada doesn't have a heartbreak-induced breakdown in  the middle of the case." said Liam.

The two teenagers did not hear the adults' conversation.

"Why did you spit your gum out?" asked Nevada.

"Oh, I like to chew it when I'm nervous. I didn't think that smacking gum while investigating was very professional, though." Linnea revealed.

"Well, you'll just be in Marilyn's house today, correct?"

Linnea sighed and flicked her hair as she turned her head away from Nevada. "Yeah, well..."

Nevada smiled. "Oh, I get it. You want to make a good impression on Liam."

"Get real!" Linnea snapped, causing Nevada to jump back, alarmed. The Bard and Liam also reacted to Linne's outburst, turning towards the girl in confusion. Linnea sighed. "Too late for that."

The bard waved as Marvel and Dr. Miracle approached. They appeared very serious and ready to work. Marvel wore a  wrinkled dress shirt with a red tie haphazardly tied around his neck and blue jeans. In contrast, Dr. Miracle's white shirt was meticulously ironed. He wore white gloves, dark dress pants and a scarf around his neck. Liam looked at the pair quizically, wondering how they were coping with the heat.

"Jaaper-!" began Marvel

"-and Donatello!" finished Dr. Miracle

"Reporting for duty!" the two said in unison.

Liam folded his arms with a smile. "Well, you two certainly have the spirit."

"So are you two going to continue using your real names?" asked Nevada.

Dr. Miracle scratched his head. "It's a case-by-case basis, but yeah, for now."

Finnaly, Shelby quickly pulled up on the other side of the street and Pent hopped out of the car before quickly jogging to the others. He was wearing blue jeans and a red, sleeveless button-up shirt.

"Sorry if I'm late." Pent apologized.

Liam smiled at the boy. "You're fine." He adressed the entire group. "All right, so just so everyone understands: me and Linnea well investigate Marilyn's house once more, Nevada and Pent will go to Fallon to gather more information on our sapphire ring, and  Donatello, Jasper, and Peter will look into the women that attended George Cunning's parties."

Marvel began to bite his fingers, looking away from Liam.

"Is something the matter?" he asked.

The boy shook his head.

"Are you sure?" inquired Liam.

Marvel ceased biting his fingers. "It's just that..today, we only have two days before the statute of limitations of Miranda's case. Shoudln't we be focusing on her case?" he explained in worry.

"I see your point. Nevada and Pent as well as our group are investigating things that directly pertain to her case. Though as I said yesterday, don't fret over it. I'll work something out."

Marvel nodded uncertainly.

"Liam?" began Nevada. "How will me and Pent get to Fallon?"

Liam pointed behind Nevada, causing the teenager to turn around to the waving Shelby.

Nevada's eyes widened. "Wha-!? She's part of the agency as well?!" he asked.

"No, I just needed someone to drive you two. She'll stay out of the investigation and the danger." Liam explaiend.

"But she still might be targeted." Nevada stated in worry.

"I made sure that she'll be safe."

Nevada nodded before going to Shelby's car and climbing in the back seat.

"Don't worry about me, Nev. I'm packing." Shelby said with a toothy smile.

Nevada gulped as he took out the shimmering sapphire ring. 

Pent smiled and turned towards the ring as he got in the front seat. "You won't be so mysterious once we're through with you."

...

Liam and Linnea drove towards Marilyn's house in near silence. The awkwardness in the air was almost tangible as Linnea distantly looked out the window.

Liam once again tried to spark conversation. "

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