2nd Story of the Sailor Moon Arc (In Progress)
Megan Wilcoxson stood in the middle of the Silkwood Shower, trying to wash off the awful smell of the neutralizer that she had just cleaned. She knew it had to be done every so often, but that didn’t make the job anymore fun. She thought, after her first experience a few months ago, that her second attempt would be easier, and so once again she didn’t put on any protective clothing. And again, her clothes were soaked and her body stank terribly so.
At least this time I wore dark clothes that won’t stain, she thought to herself. But still. How did I let myself get talked into this?
Her thoughts were interrupted as her Farnsworth started buzzing. She stepped out of the shower and wrapped herself in a towel before answering. Felix’s face appeared on the screen.
“Hey, Megan,” he said. “How’s the cleaning?”
“It’s done. Although I wish you could have done it instead of me.”
“Well, I couldn’t do it today. Anyway, Artie wants to see you right away for a ping.”
Megan was surprised; she hadn’t gone out on anything interesting since her trip with Myka to Tokyo two months ago. “Alright, I’ll be up in a bit.”
“So exciting!” Megan said to herself after closing the Farnsworth. “I wonder who I’ll be paired up with this time? Perhaps Felix or Aden? Maybe Pete and Myka? Or that old but new agent that I can’t remember his name right now? Well, I guess I just have to wait and see!”
Megan rushed back to the main office. Artie was making marks on a giant board of the U.S. Several areas were circled, and scribbles were everywhere. Megan glanced over the things written: thirteen car accidents on one street in the span of a week in Dallas, opera singers singing nonstop in New York City, flying trees in Tazmania . . . .
“Good, you’re here,” Artie said, waving her over. “I’m sending you to Denver, Colorado. There was a massive building fire there last night just after one in the morning, and most of the building collapsed.”
“What’s so strange about that?” asked Megan, confused. “Building fires happen all the time; nothing strange about that.”
“Normally you’d be right. But not this time.” Artie handed her a paper. It was a newspaper article about the fire, and highlighted in the article was the account of an eyewitness who said that the building exploded in flames without warning. “No explosions were heard, and no gas pipes broke. As far as I can tell, the building was a two-story restaurant and bar. It almost seems as though the building simply caught fire completely at once. That’s why you are going out there. Investigate the scene, and see if you can find any sign that an artifact was involved.”
“Seems simple enough,” Megan said, finishing her skim of the article. “Who am I going with?”
“No one,” Artie said. Megan looked up in surprise. “Well, it’s a simple enough case. There shouldn’t be much difficulty, so go on. We’ll see what you’re training has done. Now, here’s the paperwork you’ll need to get onto the scene. You shouldn’t have any problems. If you do, call me. And take this with you.” He handed her a strangely shaped object which she instantly recognized as Phoenix Wright’s Magatama. “This artifact may be of use to you, and it’s not particularly dangerous. Just make sure you use it properly. Otherwise, I will never allow you to use an artifact in the field again.”
Megan nodded, quelling the joy she felt rising inside of herself. She walked out through the Umbilicus and took another look at the article. There was a photograph of the burned building shown, but something strange stuck out about it. Though it had mostly collapsed, one area on the left side looked completely untouched.
Strange, she thought. I wonder why that area of the building looks so unscathed? I guess I’ll have to wait to find out!
By the time she arrived at the scene, it was six in the evening. There were few police officers around, and no firefighters. Megan walked up to the nearest officer, a tall and lanky officer with neatly trimmed mustache. His badge revealed his name to be Edwards.
“Excuse me, Officer Edwards,” Megan said politely. “My name is Megan Wilcoxson, and I’m with the United States Fire Administration. I am here to investigate this scene. Here’s my paperwork.”
Officer Edwards looked over the paperwork. Megan quietly held her breath. “It all looks official enough. So, you’re with the USFA, huh? Do you guys even investigate fires?”
“We do when they are strange,” she answered. “Fires like this one, for example.”
“You’re telling me. This is certainly a strange fire, and there’s a lot of strangeness with it.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well . . . .” Officer Edwards looked around, then leaned in. “This whole thing is strange. Several eyewitnesses were interviewed, but they all said the same thing: the fire started within a second, as if the entire building were just lit at the same time. But there’s no sign of an explosion, and no gas leak has been detected.”
“That’s . . . . definitely strange,” Megan agreed. And it sounds like an artifact to me.
“The strangest part is, the fire marshal is behaving rather strangely,” he said, then stopped and clenched his jaw.
“How so?” Megan asked. Suddenly, she could see chains surrounding him, and two locks became visible.
“Errr . . . . Well, it’s nothing, really. It’s probably just my imagination.”
Imagination my butt! Megan thought. You’re definitely hiding something! But, given the state of the crime scene, it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out. But I’ll wait until after I look around before I press him on the marshal’s behavior.
“In that case, I think I’ll begin my investigation of the crime scene now.”
“I wish you luck, Miss Wilcoxson.”
Megan walked onto the charred floor of what used to be the first floor, putting on her neutralizer gloves as she walked. It was hard to believe that in this building not twenty-four hours before was a bunch of people, some of whom remained in the building until the abrupt fire. She made a couple of mental notes right off the bat. First off, the article she read stated that twenty-eight people died, confirmed by the news update she watched before arriving at the scene. However, no bodies were visible anywhere; they were all gone, either picked up or incinerated beyond immediate discovery. Second, and probably the most important, was the area of the west side of the building which appeared to be completely unscathed by the fire. A staircase met her eyes, which appeared to have led up to the bar’s second floor. The staircase was large, but there didn’t appear to be a single burn mark anywhere on the stairs or the surrounding walls.
Walking up the staircase, Megan noticed a small side table which had appeared to have survived the fire as well. Opening the drawer, only one item was placed inside: an old alarm clock. It looked very different from any alarm clock Megan had ever seen.
“An alarm clock?” she asked herself aloud, picking it up carefully. “I guess it is. Though it looks much older than any alarm I’ve ever seen. But there’s honestly not much left here. I just wish there was something that could tell me what happened here!” As she went to put it back, the clock started to glow. Before she realized what was going on, her surroundings changed rapidly.
Now, laid out before her, was a strange sight. The building was completely repaired, and she was on the first floor. She watched as some patrons walked down the steps and out the door. Confused as to what happened, she looked towards a nearby wall clock.
“12:35 am . . . .” Megan said thoughtfully. “That’s about an hour before the fire happened. I wonder if this alarm clock has anything to do with it?” She held it up to a light, only to realize the clock and her arms were transparent. Walking in front of someone, she was only slightly surprised that they walked through her. “This is getting stranger by the minute. Why am I here? Am I seeing the event as it happened?
“Well, I suppose I should look around, at least.” She walked up the steps and noticed a man standing by the table where she found the clock. He was wearing a bowler hat and a brown tuxedo. By all appearances, he seemed to be waiting for someone, as he kept checking his pocket watch. Ignoring him, she walked into the second floor bar, where she assessed the situation. At least thirty people were there in the bar, two more than the number listed as dead or missing.
“I wonder where I should begin? Perhaps just listen in on peoples’ conversations to start. Who knows what I might find out?” Looking around, she spotted two girls huddled away in the far corner of the bar. Making her way over, she took a seat next to them. The first girl had long, shiny blonde hair with dark brown eyes, and the second girl had her light brown hair in a pigtail. Both girls were very pretty, although the second girl was definitely larger both in height and breast than the first. Megan thought they looked very familiar, but she couldn’t pin it down.
“I’m still not sure about this . . . .” the first girl said. “I mean, why do we even have to listen to her? We’re good people!”
“Calm down, Serena,” the second girl said quietly. “We’re not doing anything. At least, not directly. We’re simply here to observe the activities of the people here.”
“And then report it all back to her!” Serena said, growing a little bit more panicked. “I don’t get it! These people have nothing to do with our mission!”
“Quiet!” Serena shut her mouth, though she was still clearly upset. Megan was still trying to figure out what they were talking about.
“I’m sorry, Felicia . . . . It’s just . . . .”
“I know,” Felicia said quietly. “You get very upset if you feel threatened.”
“How could she threaten him?!” Serena said, tearing up. “How could she threaten Tommy like that?! He knows nothing!”
“That doesn’t matter to her, and you know it. Our job is to observe and prepare, nothing more. We already lost two people. She’s just making sure that we will be ready when the time comes.”
Serena wiped her tears. “I’m supposed to be the guardian of love, and yet I feel as though I’m not supposed to feel love . . . . You don’t know what it’s like, Felicia. I can’t tell Tommy about any of this! And the worst part is, he’s starting to think I don’t care about him anymore!”
“I may not know about hiding all of this from a boyfriend,” Felicia replied, grabbing Serena’s hands, “but I know we can’t let our personal lives get in the way of our missions. I know it hurts, but if we fail, we’ll be in a lot more trouble. I know you weren’t a willing participant in this, and I know you want to get out. You can’t for now, but I know you’ll find a way. Just bide your time.”
Serena nodded. They both started looking around. Megan looked at the clock above the bar. It’s already 1:00 am?! I didn’t realize so much time had already passed! Only about a half an hour until the fire . . . . I need to get moving! There’s still people to listen in on!
Walking around, Megan listened in on the conversations of the patrons. None were very interesting, although she did pause at the couple who were talking about a cat who was apparently living in the bathtub filled with water. Before she knew it, the time was already five minutes to the bottom of the hour. Suddenly, a scream caused her to shoot her gaze towards the door. Standing there was a male, and the two girls who she recognized as Felicia and Serena.
“Tommy?!” Serena cried. “Wh-wh-what are you doing here?!”
“Well, I was coming in for a drink,” the man named Tommy replied, “but look who I found instead. I thought you said you were busy tonight, and that’s why we couldn’t hang out?”
“I-I am! I mean, I was. A while ago. But now I’m not!”
“I see,” Tommy said. He turned and stormed out. Serena ran after him, and Felicia followed quickly behind. Megan took a note to talk to them, if she could.
Suddenly, she heard a ticking sound. It was faint, but she knew it was in the room. Listening carefully, she walked around the room. Slowly, people quieted down. Walking to the table where the two girls had been sitting at earlier, one of them had left their purse on the table. Megan tried to open it, but she realized she couldn’t; clearly, she was an observer, unable to interact with the scene aside from her sight, sound, and smell.
What is that smell? Megan thought, sniffing the air. Is that . . . . fudge? Before she could process it any further, the bag produced a tiny spark. In an instant, flames surrounded her. The entire building had just caught on fire around her. People screamed as they burned alive. Some tried to flee, but others stood there in agony.
Unable to bear the sight anymore, she ran out of the bar and onto the steps. Suddenly, she realized there were no flames around her. The staircase was fine, and in front of the table stood the man in the brown tuxedo and bowler hat. He now held in his hands a katana and a lit lantern. The lantern’s light shined blue, even though it was flame lit.
“I thought the fire would happen earlier . . . .” he spoke aloud. “But it still happened within a half an hour from what I heard. But how, and why? These questions still elude me. However, if I’m right, someone should be here within a day or so to start investigating. And then I can–”
Before Megan could finish hearing what the man was saying, the area changed. It reverted back to the burnt up building it presently was. The clock now dimmed, the glow vanishing. Megan looked around her.
Well, this case just got a whole lot more complicated, she thought. Who is that . . . . Mr. Brown guy, and why do I get the feeling he knows about the Warehouse and about artifacts? Not to mention those two girls, Serena and Felicia. They look so familiar, though I know that I haven’t seen them in person. But besides that, I’m willing to bet that the purse of theirs left on the table is the one that exploded – or is it flamed? But what was that ticking noise and smell of fudge? An artifact, perhaps? But what kind? Anyway, I guess it’s time to go back to that policeman and see if I can’t coax him into telling me the truth.
Megan walked up to Officer Edwards, neutralizer bag in hand with the clock. She wasn’t sure whether or not she had the ability to break the Psyche-Locks, but there wasn’t any harm in trying.
“Well, Ms. Wilcoxson, are you finished?” asked Officer Edwards. “Find anything?”
“A few things of interest,” she replied. “But before that, I’d like to ask you again about the fire marshal’s strange behavior.” As soon as she finished the sentence, she saw the two Psyche-Locks appear. “Why don’t you tell me about it?”
“I can’t . . . .” he answered. “I don’t know anything, and nothing is overly suspicious about this fire.”
“That’s strange. Because there’s one very strange thing that catches my eye straight away. The staircase that never burned in the fire that collapsed the rest of the building.”
She could see Edwards flinch. “Th-that’s not overly strange. Lots of buildings have parts that remain standing. The fire marshal inspected the area and looked over it all, taking all of the evidence with him.”
“But he didn’t inspect the area of the staircase. I know that for a fact. If he did, he didn’t do a great job.” She lifted up the neutralizer bag and pulled out the old clock. “I found this clock in a drawer on the staircase. If he had removed everything, then surely he would have taken this with him?”
Again, Edwards flinched. Megan watched as one of the locks broke apart. Finally! Some progress. At least I’m going in the right direction.
“Fine, perhaps he wasn’t very observant,” he admitted. “But he might have overlooked the clock thinking it wasn’t important. After all, it’s not like the clock was the cause of the fire.”
That’s true, I suppose, she thought. The clock wasn’t the cause of the fire. If it was, I’d already be on my way back home.
“Besides, the marshal already finished investigating, and every eyewitness and person who was there that night has been accounted for. And besides, we now know where the fire started anyway!”
“Really?” Megan asked, surprised.
“Yep. According to the fire marshal, the fire started in a backroom on the first floor. As for the cause, it’s hard to say for sure at the moment.”
Now that’s a lie! I saw the fire start! It has to be from that bag! But how can I prove that? I can’t exactly say that I saw the bag catch fire; I’d be considered crazy. But do I have a way to prove it?
“Officer Edwards, I wish you’d stop covering for this man,” Megan said confidently, though she was still trying to figure out if she had anything to use.
“I’m not covering for him!” Edwards said, his anger showing a bit. “It clearly started on the first floor.”
That’s it! GOT IT! “Officer Edwards. Please take a look at this newspaper article from today discussing the fire with the eyewitnesses. All of the eyewitnesses who saw the fire claim that it started in a second, but it was clear that the first started on the second floor and jumped up and down the building from that floor. Ergo, there’s no way the fire started on the second floor!
“Now, are you ready to tell the truth?”
She waited. Finally, the second Psyche-Lock broke, and the chains dropped.
“Alright, you win,” he finally sighed. “You’re right. This fire has been very suspicious, and the marshal is acting even more so!”
“Why don’t you tell me about that?”
“Well, the marshal has been trying to push that the fire started on the first floor since his investigation was over six hours ago,” started Edwards. “Despite every eyewitness report to the contrary, he seems to be . . . . obsessed with the idea. And that’s not all, either! He collected all of the evidence from the fire to keep for himself. He didn’t seem interested in the cause so much as getting everything away from the eyes of the public.”
“When did you arrive on scene?”
“I got here at noon, an hour before the investigation wrapped up. The other officer on duty told me what was going on. I thought it was strange, so when they weren’t looking, I grabbed this.” He pulled out what appeared to be a plate, or at least most of a plate. Part of it was broken, but one could tell exactly what it was, despite the color. “This plate, along with all of the other evidence collected, is a deep blue. I did a little bit of research, and apparently blue plates were never used at the restaurant.”
“So, the evidence collected was all blue?” Megan asked. That has to be an effect of the artifact!
“Right. I swear the marshal knows more than he’s letting on. But I doubt he’d talk to anybody. He’s normally talkative, but not lately. He’s been isolated.”
“Well, I guess I’ll have to look elsewhere, then!” Megan said affirmatively. “Thanks again for your help!”
“Anytime, Ms. Wilcoxson. May your investigation be successful!”
Megan walked down the street towards a park. It was already past seven, but she knew there was more to be done. First, she needed to find the home of either Serena or Tommy. Second, she needed to see if she could talk to the fire marshal. And lastly, see if there was a way to figure out who ‘Mr. Brown’ really was.
After talking with Artie and informing him of her status, Megan got the address of Tommy, and she arrived at his house. She walked up to his house and knocked on the door. An older woman answered the door.
“How can I help you?”
“Good evening,” Megan said, bowing slightly. “My name is Megan Wilcoxson with the United States Fire Administration. I was wondering if I could speak with your son Tommy.”
She gave Megan a strange look. “Why would you need to speak with my son? He wasn’t involved in any fire.”
“He wasn’t involved, no. But he was a witness, according to the police records. I simply wish to ask him a few questions of my own. Officer Edwards helped me out, and he said if you want to confirm my identity, just call him at the police department. I don’t mind waiting if you want to confirm I am who I say.”
The words seemed to ease her mind a bit. “Well, why didn’t you say you knew my neighbor! Any friend of Mr. Edwards is a friend of mine! Tommy! You have a visitor!”
A young man came down the steps. His hair was pitch black and nicely combed. By all appearances, he was very cute. Megan felt her heart race a little, but quickly chided herself. She had no idea whether or not he had any connection to what happened, and more importantly he had a girlfriend.
“Who’s this?” he asked suspiciously.
“This is Megan Wilcoxson, with the . . . .” Tonny’s mom paused, trying to remember the department name.
“United States Fire Administration. I understand that you were a witness to the fire that happened last night at the bar. I need to ask you a few questions.”
“I already talked to the police,” he replied coldly. “Can’t you ask them to see the report?”
“If my questions were the same as theirs, I wouldn’t be here,” Megan responded coolly. “And even then, I like to see the people respond when I ask them questions.”
He stared at her for a moment, then sighed. “Fine. If you must. But I’m staying in my bedroom. If I’m going to talk again, I might as well be comfortable.”
Megan looked at Tommy’s mom, and she smiled back. “He’s simply a little stressed with the day he’s had. Please go easy on him.”
“I need to get to the truth of what happened, but I’ll be as gentile as I can.” Within reason. She followed him up the stairs and into his room. It was a lot cleaner than she expected it to be, and he pulled out a desk chair for her. She sat down, and he proceeded to sit on his bed. He looked right at her, and suddenly she felt uncomfortable.
“Alright,” Tommy said. “Who are you really?”
“I told you. I’m Megan Wilcoxson, and I’m with–”
“And let me stop you there. I’m not an idiot. I know you’re not with any government office. You’re too young to be let out on your own. So, who are you?”
Too young?! . . . . Hmph! I may be young, but I’m still here! But, how to proceed? I need to be very careful . . . . I can’t reveal why I’m really here, or who I really am! Well, I suppose I need to change my plan. I hope Claudia is right about how good she is.
“. . . . Hmph. Too young, am I? Perhaps, but you’re not really correct. Take a look at this.” Megan reached into her purse and pulled out a badge and ID. The badge was FBI, and the card implied a special distinction. “I’m with a special section of the FBI. There are strange things that happen all over the country, and we investigate these strange occurrences. I might be young, but consider that I’m 20 years old. I’ve been doing this for two years, and I have plenty enough experience to take care of myself.”
Tommy took the badge and looked at it closely, inspecting it to see if it was a fake or not. Thankfully, Claudia’s work passed his personal inspection, and he leaned back, tossing the badge back over. “Okay, so maybe you are a government agent. But why come here? And why say that you’re with a department that doesn’t really come to the minds of most people?”
“Well, we’re not a public branch of the FBI. We operate in secret, and part of that is to give us special forms for whatever we need. In this case, a department form to investigate a suspicious fire. No one looks deeper into anything as long as the paperwork passes inspection. Now, are you willing to talk?”
“Fine,” he replied. “I’ll talk. What do you want to know?”
“Why did you go to the bar so late at night?” Megan started. He hesitated a moment before answering.
“I went to see if my girlfriend, Serena, was there. My friend told me he saw her there so late, and I wanted to see for myself.” He looked out of his bedroom window, and Megan thought she saw a brief moment of sadness on his face.
“You didn’t think she would be there?”
“No. She told me she was going to be at a group meeting all night, so we couldn’t hang out. To think she lied to me again!”
“Again?” Megan asked, sensing a great deal of resentment in his voice. “This happens often?”
“Yes,” Tommy said, anger rising in his voice. “I swear, every day it’s the same deal. She’s always saying she has a meeting with her group every night. I never see her but once a week anymore, and she’s so different from when I first went out with her. Ever since she joined that group, she’s not been the same! She’s so skittish and isolated! And she never wants to talk about what she even does there! It’s so . . . . annoying!”
Megan flinched at the loudness of his voice. Clearly there was a huge issue here, and she wasn’t sure how much she wanted to get involved. “Ooookay. If you don’t mind me asking, what group is this?”
“Sailor Moon Fans. They’re a local group of Sailor Moon fans, but they’ve gotten kicked out of several large conventions. Supposedly, they’ve reformed their group.”
Sailor Moon Fans? Megan thought. I’ve heard that name before, haven’t I? Where did I . . . . Oh! The two girls we met in Japan were from this group! But is this just a coincidence?
“How long have they been reformed?”
“What does this have to do with the fire?” Tommy asked, giving her a suspicious look.
“Trust me, there’s a reason I’m asking. Please, tell me.”
“ . . . . Four months ago. They haven’t been caught stealing from conventions since then, and they’ve even sponsored a trip for two of their group to go overseas to Japan back in April.” Megan couldn’t hide the shock from her face, and Tommy caught it. “Why are you so shocked?”
Megan sat quietly, mulling it over in her head. “. . . . We had reports of an incident in Japan a few months ago. Apparently, two of the people involved in the incident were from this club.”
Tommy looked at her, expecting her to continue. When he saw she wasn’t, he spoke up. “Well, clearly the incident is something you can’t discuss. But I don’t get it. What’s this have to do with the fire today?”
“You said Serena was a part of this group, right?”
“I . . . .” He quickly realized what she was implying. “You’re not saying Serena did this, are you?! She wouldn’t do this! She wouldn’t harm anyone!”
“I didn’t say she did anything. At least, not directly.” I can’t tell him exactly what I saw. I guess I’ll just bluff my way through. “I found something suspicious at the scene of the fire. After looking into it further, I feel confident in saying that it was the cause of the fire. And I know that the object was in the possession of Serena’s bag at the time.”
“Whaaa . . . . No!” Tommy shouted at her. “You’re wrong! You don’t have anything! You can't! Nothing could have survived that fire!”
She wasn’t about to let it go. “I may not be able to show it to you, but I can assure you that it is quite real and undeniable. Now, I have a few options. I don’t believe she had anything to do with the fire directly. She may not have even realized that it was in her bag. However, she is under a suspicious light.”
Tommy stared at her. “What will you do?”
“To be honest, I’m not sure. I can assure you that I’m not sharing the results of my investigation with the police, since this is a special investigation. But the fact that your girlfriend is a part of this group, which is connected to an incident overseas - and now possibly here too - is suspicious. I need to ask my supervisors how they want me to proceed.
“I would like to ask you a question. You don’t have to agree to this if you don’t want to. Will you assist me in my investigation where you can? Seeing as your girlfriend was, knowingly or not, the cause of the fire, I would appreciate your cooperation. But you don’t have to.”
He glanced down at her feet. He seemed to be thinking it over. “Would your supervisors approve of my help?”
“I don’t see why they wouldn’t.” As long as I don’t mention anything about you helping directly.
“Then I’ll help you. If anything, to prove my girlfriend innocent. Whatever you need.”
“I’ll let you know in the morning what we’re going to do.” Megan stood up from the chair. “Just remember this: this is a special investigation. You can’t tell anyone what you are doing or why. And as far as you’re concerned, you aren’t working for anyone – you aren’t going to get any special permission to get or do anything you can’t already do. Understand?”
“I do,” Tommy answered, standing up. “I hope I’ll be of use. But I think you’re being honest with me, and I appreciate it. I’ll help however I can.”
“Thank you.” Megan left his room and walked downstairs. As she walked towards the street, her mind whirled with questions, trying to sort out what she knew. Before she reached her car, she bumped into a man and was knocked to the ground.
“My apologies, miss,” said the man. “I wasn’t paying attention.”
“No, it’s my fault,” she said as he helped her up. “I wasn’t watching where I was going.” As she looked him up and down, she thought he looked familiar, but she didn’t know where. He was wearing casual clothing and looked quite ordinary.
“Allow me to give you this as a token of my apology,” he said, and he pulled out a thin notebook.
“What’s this?” she asked. It was too dark to see clearly what was in it.
“It’s simply a notebook. I’m sure it’ll be of use to you someday. Now, if you’ll excuse me.” He walked off down the street. Megan watched him leave before getting into her car. It was late, and she needed to contact Artie. There was much to discuss.
About an hour later, Megan was sitting in a hotel room. She had contacted Artie and informed him of the day’s events. Claudia came in shortly after she started and listened in on the conversation.
“Well, that’s a lot to take in . . . .” Artie said slowly, pondering over what Megan presented to him. Claudia had been in the office and was typing on the computer. “It’s hard to say what this could be. We’re talking spontaneous fire on a larger scale than human combustion.”
“I just don’t get it, though,” Megan said, pondering over the notebook the mysterious man gave her. “This notebook contains so much information about the Sailor Moon Fans, but who knows how much of this is true? I mean, we already know they got kicked out of numerous conventions, and two of their members were caught up in the incident in Tokyo, but this book implies they’re connected with several incidents around the Denver area.”
“And the notebook implies they have some knowledge of artifacts,” he added. “Whoever is leading this group has some knowledge of artifacts, and the notebook implies they’re looking into more. Who was this man who gave you this notebook, anyway?”
“I’m . . . . not really sure,” she admitted, looking away from the Farnsworth. “I didn’t really pay that great attention to his facial features. It was a very forgettable face, though. Though I swear he looked familiar from somewhere . . . .”
“Well, I may not be able to track down this man you met an hour ago, but I think I may have found the man from your vision,” Claudia spoke up, moving the Farnsworth to face the computer screen. A man wearing a brown tuxedo and a bowler hat appeared before her. “I searched the nearby cameras of every business in the area to see if I could find someone who looked like this man, and here he is. Is this him?”
“That looks like him!” Megan said, excitement growing in her voice. “Do you know who he is?”
“Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten that far yet,” Claudia said, “but I’m still searching. We’ll find this mysterious helper.”
“While Claudia searches for this man, what exactly is your plan?” Artie asked, pulling the Farnsworth back onto him.
“Well, I was thinking I could try to investigate this fire marshal who appears to be hiding evidence of the fire’s origins. If he collected all of the strange evidence, then perhaps he also collected the artifact from the crime scene. After that, I think I’ll try looking into this Sailor Moon Fans group a little more.”
“Well, keep it up!” he said. “I wish you luck.” After closing the Farnsworth, Megan laid down on the bed. So much had happened that day, and it was a lot to take in. She hadn’t mentioned to Artie that she had asked a stranger for help in her investigation, but she didn’t think it would matter greatly as long as she didn’t reveal any secrets about the Warehouse, artifacts, her real job, or anything else.
Megan awoke to a knocking on her door. Looking at the bedside clock, it said the time was 3:39 am. “Ms. Wilcoxson? Are you in there? Please open up. It’s Officer Edwards.”
Megan got up and went to the door. She looked through the peephole to confirm his identity, and then opened up the door. He looked slightly pale, as if he had just ran a marathon to get here.
“Officer Edwards,” Megan said sleepily, her eyes still half closed. “You do know what time it is, don’t you?”
“I’m well aware, but I thought you might want to hear this. After all, you did plan to talk to the fire marshal, right?”
“Yeah . . . . Why do you ask?”
“Well, the marshal was just found dead!”
Megan snapped her eyes open. “What did you say?! He’s dead?!”
“Unfortunately, yes,” he answered, the color slowly returning to his face. “He was found about an hour ago in his office, and the death appears suspicious.”
She slowly walked back to the bed, trying to process what he said. “He’s dead, and his death looks suspicious. Suspicious in what way?”
“It looks as though he was shot three times in the chest. No autopsy has been done yet, but he’s probably been dead for at least a few hours. It seems very likely that he was murdered.”
“And did anything else happen?”
“Well . . . .” Officer Edwards hesitated for a moment, unsure of whether or not to tell her. “There was . . . one other thing. The evidence for the fire was being stored in that room. And one of the pieces of evidence appears to have been stolen. A set of four gardening tools, to be precise.”
“Gardening tools?” Megan asked. “Why would that have been at the scene?”
He shook his head. “This case is very confusing. I honestly have no idea why it was there. But perhaps the marshal was thinking the same thing. Maybe they thought it belonged to someone there and were going to test it for fingerprints?”
Or perhaps the artifact I’m looking for! Megan thought. After all, I couldn’t see what it was, and that would be small enough to fit into a handbag . . . . Not only does it fit the bill, but it survived the fire! Still . . . .
She sighed in disappointment. “Well, this takes the cake, doesn’t it? Now what?”
“Unfortunately, there really isn’t much we can do. All I can do if offer you a picture of all the evidence collected, since they’re not going to let anyone into the building anytime soon.” He reached into his bag and pulled out several photos. She looked them over and found the picture of the gardening tools.
“These tools . . . . they’re burnt.”
“Of course. They were in a fire, after all.”
Yeah, but . . . . I don’t think this was caused by the fire. All of the evidence that burned in the fire was blue. Even if these somehow avoided that, I’m pretty sure these are what I’m looking for.
“Well, thank you anyway. I guess I’ve hit a bit of a snag at the moment, haven’t I?”
“Although you may not be able to further your investigation, I’m sure you have what you need.” Officer Edwards walked out of the door but paused. “I wish you luck, Ms. Wilcoxson.” With that, he left, leaving Megan alone with her thoughts. She closed the door and locked it to make sure she wasn’t interrupted again.
After sitting at the small table in the room, she looked at the notebook. She flipped through it until she hit the last three pages, which were blank. A thought occurred to her, and she searched through her bag for several minutes before pulling out a small blacklight. She hadn’t been sure whether to bring it or not, and she wasn’t sure if it was going to reveal anything. But it wouldn’t hurt, would it? Walking back over to the table, Megan shined the light onto the page, which revealed extra writing.
So you have the insight to check this page. You are much smarter than I am currently giving you credit for, if you are reading this. I’m sure you’re wondering who I am and what my goal is. Well, I’m afraid I can’t tell you my name. I’m Anonymous, if you will. As for my goal, it is not what you may think. You see, I understand that objects can be imbued with power. I use several of these objects myself for my assignments. I’m also aware you are with some agency or another that collects these objects for storage, though where and why are beyond my knowledge. However, I have no need for this knowledge, as I take care to avoid you.
What is my concern, however, is when a group threatens my way of life. I have given you this notebook so as to understand that this group, Sailor Moon Fans, is going to cause trouble. I have very little of the specifics, but I am aware that they have begun searching for objects of power related to Japanese anime and manga. These aren’t the only objects they are collecting. I’m sure by now you are aware of the objects which caused that building fire. Those farming tools were indeed the cause of the fire. I left that alarm clock in the drawer and protected it from the fire so that you could see what was happening before it started. Consider the clock my gift to you in exchange for your cooperation.
I have been looking into this group for some time, as you can see. Unfortunately, I am not able to do much more investigating, as one of my only sources into this group was murdered by one of their members. I fear that if I pry too much more, I will place a target on my back. That is why I must pass the investigation onto you. This group is plotting something big, and from what I can see, they are willing to go to any means necessary to achieve their goals. They even have some higher figures in the city in their pocket, such as the fire marshal, the police chief, and even a few members of the city council, who in turn turn a blind eye towards some of the activities the group causes (like this fire you’re investigating now).
While I may not be able to help much, I can tell you that there are a few objects I know they have in their possession. They have, among an unknown number of others, a pair of fans which, as I understand it, have some relation to the television series The Last Airbender; gloves and a cloak which look very similar to those seen in the movie Frozen; a sword which, according to my source before his demise, looked very similar to something seen in Dragon Rider (though he was sadly unable to confirm this connection before his passing); three transformation objects relating to Sailor Moon; and lastly, a knife which is believed to have originated from the urban legend of Jack the Killer.
Once again, I offer my deepest apologies for not being able to help out further. As far as I can tell, there is no brainwashing going on at this club that I would attribute to a supernatural object. Therefore, it may be possible to infiltrate this club. Of course, that in and of itself would be a dangerous task. I sincerely hope that you people will be able to stop this group, so that the rest of us can continue to make an honest (or dishonest) living worry-free.
Megan read the note over a second time. This was something of importance. She got dressed, grabbed her Farnsworth and thought about who to call. After a moment, she hit a button and waited. After some time, Claudia’s face finally appeared.
“Megan?” she murmured. “You do realize how early in the morning it is?”
“I’m aware of that, thank you. It’s even earlier here. Listen, can you access the Warehouse’s inventory from where you’re at?”
“Of course. Why do you ask?”
“I need you to check on a few artifacts to see if they are in the Warehouse’s possession.”
Claudia was ready quite quickly, and Megan gave her the rundown. The knife, the fans, the sword . . . . Each one registered as a known or suspected artifact, but none were currently in the Warehouse’s inventory.
“Megan, where are you getting these artifacts from?” Claudia asked after searching the database for Elsa’s Gloves.
“Remember the notebook I was talking about last night? Well, the last three pages were blank, so I decided to shine a blacklight on them, which revealed a secret note addressed to us.”
“The man knows about the Warehouse?” she asked, her face concerned.
“Not from what I can tell. He knows people collect artifacts, but where they’re stored is another question. He definitely has knowledge about artifacts, though.”
“This isn’t good, either way . . . .”
“I think we have bigger problems on our hands. If none of these artifacts are locatable at present, then there is a possibility, however slim, that this man is telling the truth.”
“But there’s a chance this is a plot to get into the Warehouse, or worse,” Claudia said. “This is not something we should be taking lightly.”
“And I don’t plan to,” Megan said calmly. “But I’m not sure what to do next. I just found out that the marshal was murdered, and–”
“HE WAS MURDERED!” Claudia shouted, covering her mouth after the fact realizing she just shouted so loudly. She lowered her voice to continue. “Megan, that’s not something that happens by accident.”
“And it’s also not an accident that the gardening tools were stolen, either. I need to track down the murderer.”
“I disagree,” a voice in the background of the Farnsworth said. Claudia jumped.
“Mrs. Frederic! What are you doing here in my room?!”
“It’s hard not to see what’s going on after you just scream like that so early in the morning,” Mrs. Frederic answered, her tone disapproving. “The Farnsworth, please.” Claudia reluctantly handed her the Farnsworth, and Megan was looking directly – well, indirectly – at her for only the third time in her years at the Warehouse. “Now, explain to me why I am here at almost five in the morning.”
Megan explained all that had transpired to Mrs. Frederic. She listened intently to the report, asking occasional questions. After Megan finished, she stood quietly for about a minute, mulling it over. Finally, she spoke.
“Megan, you are to return to the Warehouse immediately.”
“WHAT?!” Megan shouted, then realized it was still nighttime. “Why?”
“The situation there has changed. You need to return to the Warehouse immediately for a special debriefing.”
“No buts. I expect you back here tonight. Otherwise, I will come to look for you, and you don’t want me to do that.”
“. . . . Alright,” Megan reluctantly agreed. “I’ll be back by tonight.”
“Very good,” Mrs. Frederic said, and ended the transmission.
Megan went over to the bed and plopped down facefirst. This isn’t good! How am I supposed to collect an artifact if I’m being recalled? How am I supposed to look into this further? What can I do?
Megan knocked on the door to the house, and looked at her watch. It was 8:05 am, and she was hoping he would still be home; she had a flight to catch, and she couldn’t chase him around the city. And no cars were in the driveway, so it was unlikely his mother or father was home to deliver a message. She was in luck, however, as the man she was looking for opened the door.
“Ms. Wilcoxson?” Tommy said, surprised. “What are you doing here?”
“I need to discuss something with you,” Megan said, inviting herself in. “And call me Megan.”
Tommy stared at her. “What exactly are you doing here?”
“Listen, I’ve been recalled from this case.”
“What? How come?”
“I have no idea,” specifically, “but I do know that it’s not by my choice. And that’s why I’m here.”
Tommy gave her a confounded look. “Why exactly do you need my help?”
“Because . . . .” Megan started, but paused. Do I really want to do this? I doubt it is approved action, but . . . . No! I can’t doubt myself now! No matter what punishment I might face, I have to push forward! “I want you to go undercover with the Sailor Moon fans.”
“What?” he said. “Why me?”
“Because I can’t, and I need someone on the inside to find out what’s going on,” Megan said. “This is an unapproved action, and I couldn’t force you to do this anyway. However, you are the only person here I know and trust to go inside this group and tell me what’s happening.”
Tommy stood still, staring at his feet for a moment. When he looked up, she thought she saw a flash of determination in his eyes, though his face was unreadable. “What exactly would you want me to do?”
“It’s pretty simple, really,” she said. “I want you to learn as much as you can about Sailor Moon, so that by all appearances you are a superfan. Join the club, and do what you must to get recognized by the higher-ups. Find out what their plans are, and contact me with updates as to what’s going on.”
“So, you want me to be deep undercover?”
“. . . . I don’t know . . . .”
“Look at it this way: you’ll get to hang out more with Serena. And if this club is dangerous, then you’ll have a chance to free her from it before it’s too late.”
“. . . . Alright. I’ll help you. Is there anything else I should know?”
“There is one thing: if you happen to be sent into the field, and we happen to come into contact with each other, we must act as if we don’t know each other. Otherwise, there’s a chance this could blow up in our faces and put you in danger; not to mention how much trouble I would get.”
“Alright. I’m in.” Tommy raised his hand, and Megan shook it. “I hope I’ll be of help.”
“So, how’s the recruitment going?”
“It’s going well, my lady. We just had three new recruits today, including a male. The recruitment is proceeding on schedule.”
“A male? We don’t get too many of them on our side. This could be beneficial. Keep an eye on him.”
“Yes, Queen Fey.”
“And what of the woman who was investigating the fire last week. Do you have an update for me?”
“She left the area after only a day of investigating, and she has not returned since. I think she won’t be bothering us anymore.”
“Either way, keep her picture. If anyone with her appearance tries to join us, pull them aside. We will not have anyone infiltrate us.”
“Of course, my lady. I will inform the guards.”
“Very good. And what of our object search?”
“We have no reports yet of a functional Silver Crystal as of yet, your majesty. However, we have plenty of other objects now, and most of them come from other powerful fandoms. We are proceeding to test each object accordingly before conducting a field test.”
“Excellent. Keep up the good work.”
“Yes, Queen Fey.” The servant exited the room.
“I wonder which government nerve we’ve touched?” Queen Fey asked herself aloud. “Not that this matters. It doesn’t matter who comes after us. They will realize too late my plans. And I will make them all suffer for my sake.” Her eyes flashed red as she thought of her revenge.
“Hmmmm . . . .” Mr. Kosan said, pondering what Megan had told him. Mrs. Frederic was overseeing her debriefing in front of the Regents, which was being held in a secret location.
“Mr. Kosan, if I may ask, why exactly do the Regents care so much about what happened in Denver?” Megan asked hesitantly, clearly unsure of the boundaries. “I mean, this is just a standard case, isn’t it?”
Mr. Kosan looked at the other Regents. “That is not of your concern, Ms. Wilcoxson. What is your concern is the collection of artifacts, and making sure you stay safe. Do we understand each other?”
“O-o-of course,” Megan said, realizing she had probably crossed a line and bowing her head slightly. Not that Mrs. Frederic blamed her. Most agents and Warehouse workers only met a few of the Regents in their career, let alone giving a debriefing in front of them. She herself had only met one agent out of the dozen who have been in front of all the Regents who wasn’t nervous.
“Now, Ms. Wilcoxson, is there anything else you would like to tell us?”
“That’s all, sir.” There. The psyche-locks. That confirmed she was, indeed, going to keep it a secret. Mr. Kosan looked towards her, and she nodded her head almost imperceptibly.
“Well, I believe that is all, Ms. Wilcoxson. You may leave the room now. Though please inform either Artie or Mrs. Frederic if you have any new information to give at any time.”
“Yes, sir.” Megan left the room. Mr. Kosan turned to Mrs. Frederic.
“So she is planning on hiding what she is doing, then?”
“Yes. Though I must admit that I’m surprised you decided not to confront her.”
“I must agree,” spoke up one of the other Regents. “Why would we continue to let her think she’s getting away with this?”
“Because this is as close as we can get to the group without putting Warehouse agents in danger,” Mr. Kosan said. “I don’t want to endanger the agents – at least, not until we know what we’re dealing with. If this informant of hers succeeds, then we’ll have an alternate view of this group, and perhaps he’ll uncover something we can’t. If he fails, then we haven’t lost an agent. But I would ask you, Ms. Kowalki, to keep an eye on him nonetheless.”
“Of course, Mr. Kosan. I’m not about to let him die.”
“Excellent. Then, Mrs. Frederic, that is all we’ll need of you for now. You can take Megan back to the Warehouse now, though be sure to come back right after. We have a few more points to discuss. Including that of Mr. Brown, and why the suspected user of the Guy Fawkes Mask would leave us a message.”
“Of course, Mr. Kosan.”