Ad blocker interference detected!
Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers
Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.
|By Alan Jack Halverson||Genre||Rating||Reviews||Updates|
|More from Alan Jack Halverson||Mystery||PG-13||Here||No update page|
May 10, 2016
It was shortly after breakfast and Qing Ru had just finished washing the dishes and was preparing to receive customers in the apartment. Li was seated in his armchair reading the daily paper that had been delivered to their apartment door early that morning.
Li was smiling as sun poured in through the windows. His joy was not so much because of the pleasant weather but because of his success in the court case the day before. He, Qing Ru, and a client had gotten off murder charges quite easily despite Officer Shu's best efforts. As he read the paper and Qing Ru began receiving customers, Li spotted an article on the front page. The headline read, "Bank of Republic City Robbed". Li looked up from his paper and said to Qing Ru, "You had better be prepared to leave at a moment's notice, we may be called upon to solve yet another mystery."
"But I've only just begun," Qing Ru complained. "I do have a day job you know." Qing Ru turned back to his patient and began examining the rash that he had pointed out.
"You can stay if you like, but I would prefer if you came with," Li replied.
"Why are you so intent on having me follow you around Republic City?"
"One, it's lonely, two I need someone to inflate my ego."
Qing Ru stopped his work and looked sternly at Li although they couldn't make eye contact on account of the newspaper. Qing Ru found his new friend's ego quite annoying at times especially since it needed constant inflating by admirers of lesser ability.
After he had finished examining and questioning his first patient Qing Ru concluded that the rash was the result of excessively dry skin and prescribed a salve and less basic soap.
After the first patient had been dismissed another more wizened and affluent man stood in the doorway that Qing Ru had left open for customers. The man looked quite healthy at first glance and so Qing Ru was prompted to ask, "And what condition have you come to me with on this fine day?"
The man was slightly perplexed at first but proceeded to reply, "The condition of having been robbed."
It was Qing Ru's turn to be perplexed. "That's not a medical condition," he said.
The man continued, "No it isn't, but it's very serious. The Bank of Republic City has been robbed of several million Yuans and the plates used for printing them have also been taken." The man entered the room and continued to speak not noticing Qing Ru's blank look. "I'm the chairman of the bank and have been sent here by President Raiko to ask for your help. It's the most perplexing robbery ever, all the doors were locked, the locks are unbreakable and nothing has been forced, we simply cannot understand it and since you made headlines this past week especially with your court victory yesterday we thought that we should see you about this matter."
By this time Li had looked up from his paper and was also looking blankly at the bank chairman. Although he had no expression, it was obvious to Qing Ru that Li was laughing on the inside.
When the chairman had finished, Qing Ru continued to look at him blankly for a moment and then spoke," Okay, what do you want me to do about it?"
"Investigate it of course! Why else would I come to you!"
Qing Ru and Li broke out in laughter simultaneously which quite insulted the chairman. Until he realized that he had been talking to the wrong man.
"Oh, excuse me, I'm terribly sorry," he said. "I didn't realize..."
"It's fine," Li replied as he rose from his chair and put down his paper. "Please wait just a moment sir, I need to change into my street clothes before we venture out to the scene of the crime."
The chairman looked puzzled but Qing Ru thought he could discern a small measure of concern behind the carefully controlled visage. "Is it absolutely necessary that we visit the bank? I was hoping that I could just tell you what I observed and then you could figure it out."
Li appeared to not notice the concern on the chairman's face and simply replied from his room, "You've been reading too many mystery stories. I need to have all the facts and I can't get those by just listening to what you've seen and what you know. After all, there may have been things at the crime scene that went overlooked by your eye but that mine will be able to identify and piece together into the final solution to your problem."
"Very well," the chairman replied. "I have a Satomobile waiting outside the apartment building when you're ready, I'll proceed down there and wait for you."
Once the chairman had left, Li appeared from his room fully dressed for the day with his sword on his right side and his firearm on his left. There was a new addition though. Previously, Li had only been able to carry his firearm in his pocket but this time, he was wearing the holster that Mr. Wu had made for him as a parting gift. Li turned to Qing Ru, "Are you ready to go?"
"I told you, I have to work," Qing Ru replied.
"No you don't."
"If I'm going to pay the rent, I kind of do."
Li paused for a moment and then continued, "I can't argue with that, but you don't have to work today, I put a sign up on the door this morning that said you weren't taking any patients today."
"Then why did I receive that first patient?" Qing Ru asked.
"He's been waiting here since before I put the sign up but everyone else thinks you're closed today on account of having to get your things in order after the affair in court."
Qing Ru looked somewhat angrily at Li, grumbled slightly, and then conceded defeat and followed Li out of the apartment and into the chairman's Satomobile.
The vehicle was quite spacious with a driver's cab in front and a passenger cab in back. The passenger cab was designed like the old animal driven cabs so that the passengers would face each other. Li and Qing Ru sat in the back seat facing the front of the vehicle and the chairman who sat in the front seat facing the back of the cab.
Once everyone was in, the chairman turned to the driver and said, "We're ready to go Arashi."
"Very well sir," the driver replied and the engine started at once.
As the vehicle started forward Li began to ask questions. "While we're on our way to the bank, perhaps you would like to describe to me the exact circumstances of this robbery."
"Very well," the chairman replied. "As far as we can tell, it happened at about midnight last night, none of the locks were forced and the doors and walls are virtually unbreakable anyways. It would appear that the plates and Yuans simply vanished into thin air."
"We all know that only spirits can vanish into thin air, were those plates and Yuans made of spirits then?" Li asked.
"Then someone must have taken them and done it very cleverly," Li interrupted. "Tell me, about how long do you think it would take to move all the plates and the stolen Yuans out of their vaults and into a getaway vehicle?"
"Probably about an hour and forty-five minutes," the chairman replied after giving the question a moment's thought. "Why?"
"Just a thought. Also, how frequently do you move the Yuans and plates at the bank?"
"We move the plates every morning from the vaults to the press and then back again in the evening before we lock up," the chairman replied.
"And what about Yuans?"
"We send those out once a week after our board meetings where we decide monetary policy and what the appropriate inflation or deflation rate should be."
"And what's the highest amount of Yuans you've put into circulation at one time?"
"Ten million and that was the month I took office, we were in a rather bad bout of deflation."
"I see," Li said, "and how many Yuans did you say were stolen?"
"We're not certain about the number but it was at least twenty million."
Qing Ru, who had been quiet almost the entire time now showed his knowledge of crime. "How are they going to hide all that money?"
The chairman looked quizzically at Qing Ru while Li remained lost in thought. "Why would they want to hide it? Of course they're going to use it, why else would you steal twenty million Yuans?"
Qing Ru replied, "Well a sudden expenditure or series of expenditures of twenty million Yuans by one person or group of people is going to look suspicious, the risks of getting caught by the police would be immense."
Li now spoke, "Precisely, which is why they must have some other plan for the Yuans, perhaps the same plan for the printing plates."
"And what is that plan?" the chairman asked hopefully.
"Not sure yet," Li replied looking up at the chairman as he came out of his deep thought, "but I'll tell you when I figure it out."
The breaks on the Satomobile squealed as the vehicle came to a halt in front of the bank. The three stepped out and strode to the door the chairman was about to open it so that Li and Qing Ru could enter but Li had other plans.
Li began to carefully examine the lock on the door. "Who has keys to this lock?" he asked the chairman still examining the lock and the surrounding door.
"Just me," the chairman replied.
"And who makes them?"
"It's a small locksmith on twelfth street, his name is Suǒ jī, it cost quite a lot to get it in too, on account of it being a high security lock and all, great lot of good that did us last night though."
"Indeed," replied Li as he stood up from his examination. "Would you mind if I took the lock to this Suǒ jī so he can inspect it himself?"
"Why would he need to inspect it?" the chairman asked. "Isn't your inspection sufficient?"
"I may be brilliant Mr. Chairman, but I am no locksmith and I would like to have the expert's opinion on the state of the lock."
"Very well," replied the chairman, "but it's part of the door so it would be very difficult to remove."
"Not so difficult I think," Li said as he drew his sword. "A nine body blade ought to do just nicely as long as you don't mind losing part of your door."
The chairman was quite obviously angered by Li's suggestion but consented to the destruction of the bank door anyways. In one stroke, Li cut the section of the door that had the lock attached and removed it. He then turned to Qing Ru, "Hold that please," he said as he handed the lock over.
"Shall we proceed inside now?" the chairman asked, still angry about the door.
"Certainly," Li replied apparently amused by the chairman's discomfort.
The three then proceeded into the bank, they had gone only a few steps when Li, who was between the two others, held out his arms to stop their motion.
"Walk no further," he said as he dropped to his knees and began inspecting a group of muddy footprints that the other two had only just noticed. The mud was dry and caked now and looked like it was ready to crumble.
Li now extracted a tape measure and began to measure the footprint sizes and the distances between them. Once he'd finished measuring, he took out a small cheap leather bag and scooped some of the dirt into it and sealed it.
Li not stood and spoke, "Fortunately, it does not appear that the footprints were disturbed this morning when you entered the building. As for what they tell me, they tell me that there were four perpetrators, who came from somewhere outside the city, probably from a clay pit or near clay deposits on judging by the consistency and apparent composition of the mud but I'll have to further analyze it before I draw any further or more definite conclusions. Additionally, there are four sets of tracks, so four perpetrators with strides of two and a half, three, two, and another with a stride of two feet. The one with a stride of two and a half feet wore about a size thirteen, the one with a three foot stride wore a size eleven, and the other two wore size twelves judging by the size of each track. Additionally, all but the size eleven were the same kind of shoe, probably a work boot based on the shape of the track. The size eleven was a dress shoe which is odd indeed but it will no doubt fall into its proper place as the close of this mystery."
Li handed the sack of dirt to Qing Ru to hold along with the lock. Both the chairman and Qing Ru were silent and looked blankly at Li who continued to speak after he handed off the bag. "Shall we proceed to the vault then?"
"Certainly," the chairman said, coming out of his state of silent awe. He led the way to the main vault, upon arrival, Li began his examinations again of the entire locking mechanism and of the door.
Li turned first to the giant steel door. "An interesting contraption, " he remarked noting the pistons that sealed the door to the surrounding doorway. "Couldn't it be easily metalbent though?"
"No," the chairman replied. "This was designed by Future Industries while Hiroshi Sato still headed it. The pistons are pushed into place using hydraulics. There's a pump that's controlled by this control panel," the chairman gestured to the control panel that sat just in front of the vault door. "The pump moves alcohol past a platinum check-valve until it's at maximum pressure so that even if someone tried to metalbend the pistons or the door, the worst that could happen is that the machine would blow up in their faces."
Li then turned to the control panel, "So they must have used this." He inspected the key panel and a section that was meant for a key. "I take it that the control panel can also open the valve and relieve the pressure."
"And there's a code to get in judging by the keys on the panel. So what happens if the code is entered incorrectly too many times?"
"The circuits that control everything are melted and we have to call in a technician from Future Industries to get everything replaced."
"And what about the key, could that lock be picked?"
"No, even if they make a copy key, if they don't have the right circuitry in their key then nothing will happen."
"What?" the chairman asked.
Li turned to him, "A truly locked door mystery. There appears to be no way that the thieves could have gained entry to the vault. There's been no damage to the building, and all the locks are un-pickable.
A man now appeared and came up to the chairman. "Mr. Chairman," he said, "you have to give your statement in just a few minutes."
The chairman nodded and then turned to Li and Qing Ru, "You'll have to excuse me gentlemen, I have a speech to give in front of the council building with regards to last night's incident."
"Of course," Qing Ru said.
Li on the other hand had taken an interest in the other man's shoes. "Size thirteen," he muttered to himself.
"Sorry?" the man asked.
"I couldn't help but notice the mud on your shoes, it's a shame that your dress shoes should get so messy," Li replied.
"Oh," the man laughed, "yes, it rained last night and a lot of the soil in my garden has a high clay content so it stays muddy for a while and likes to stick to everything.
Still smiling, the man turned away to proceed with the chairman to the Satomobile outside. The chairman on the other hand lingered for just a moment longer and looked scornfully at Li before leaving. As the two left, Li took note of the length of their strides, the chairman had a stride of about three feet while his companion had a stride of two and a half.
Once the chairman and his friend had left, Li began to look about for a bank employee. It didn't take him long to find one. Li approached the man.
"Hello sir," Li said as he held out his hand for a handshake.
The man didn't take it.
"I was wondering if I might ask you a few questions, it's for my investigation."
The man looked at Li for a moment and eventually decided to trust the strange man before him. "Alright," he said.
"First, who is that man who left with the chairman just a little while ago?"
"That's his right hand man, Deputy Chairman Sin."
"Do you know where he lives?"
"He lives down by the beach."
"Ah, I see. Now on a different track entirely, about how long do you think it takes to move the printing plates to and from the vault?"
"Well, you see, they're pretty heavy plates, but I reckon when we move them, it takes about half an hour."
"And what about moving money out for distribution?"
"What about it?"
"How long does it take to move it from the vault?"
"Depends on how many are moving the cash and how much cash there is."
"What about four people moving ten million?"
"That'd probably take close to an hour."
"Thank you sir, you've been most helpful," Li slipped him a Yuan and then beckoned Qing Ru to follow him out of the bank.
"Now where are we going?" Qing Ru asked, obviously anxious to get the whole investigation over with so he could go back to work.
"I think we'll pay a visit to Suǒ jī and investigate the nature of that lock in your hand. Then we'll see if our friend Mr. Wu would permit us to make use of his lab again so we can analyze that dirt. And then depending on what that dirt tells us we may seek out its source, or we may stake out the deputy chairman's garden if we can find it."
"Why, is the deputy chairman a suspect?" Qing Ru asked.
"For now, for one thing, his story about his garden doesn't seem plausible since he lives on the beach though it's conceivable that the soil he ordered for his garden had clay in it. His shoe size and stride do appear to match the size and stride of the size thirteen track and the chairman's also appear to match the stride and size of the size eleven track. It could just be coincidence or an attempt to frame them though." Li hailed a cab and the two got in. "Twelfth street please," Li said to the driver.
The cab lurched forward and in minutes they had arrived.
They walked down the noisy, busy street searching for the locksmith until they came to a diminutive building that was only two stories. As they walked in the door a bell rang and an equally diminutive old man walked out from the back of the shop.
"Good morning gentlemen," he said. "How can I help you?"
Li turned to Qing Ru and took the lock from him, "We were wondering if you could tell us about this lock."
"Ah!" the locksmith exclaimed. "I remember this one, one of my greatest creations, completely un-pickable and none of the internals can be metalbent because they're all platinum." He now turned from the lock to Li and Qing Ru, "What would you like to know about it?"
"Let's start with it being un-pickable, how is this possible?" Li asked.
"First, only the right key can be used in it, it's very specific and unique to this lock and only I can make copies because of the design. Additionally, the arrangement of the parts of the lock creates a kind of combination lock on top of a key lock. You have to use just the right number of turns, thrusts, and retractions by just the right amounts in order to get it open, otherwise the key gets stuck."
"About how long would it take to figure out the lock if you hadn't been given the combination?"
"It would take days, maybe weeks, but if you knew the combination by heart then you could get it open in under a minute," Suǒ jī replied. "May I ask why you're so interested in this lock?"
Li remained silent in thought again so Qing Ru replied, "We're investigating the theft at the Bank of Republic City."
Li had finished his thoughts and now turned back to Suǒ jī, "Thank you for your time sir."
"You're certainly welcome, if there's anything more I can do to help just let me know."
As Li and Qing Ru left the building, Suǒ jī turned to back into the back of his shop.
"This lock seems to confirm your earlier suspicions," Qing Ru said. "Only someone who had an exact key and knew the combination could get into the bank, and only someone with the exact key and combination could open the vault."
"Perhaps," Li replied. "But there is the possibility that there are others who could have both the key and combination to the lock and vault who are also bank employees, but not the chairman and deputy chairman. Our next course of action should be to identify where the soil came from. Hopefully that takes us to the location of the plates and Yuans or that there are some other clues there."
Li hailed another cab and once again they were off. At about noon, Li and Qing Ru walked into the lobby of Mr. Wu's business and asked the secretary on duty to see him.
"He's in the chemical lab right now watching a demonstration on spirit vines," the secretary replied.
"We're good friends of his," explained Qing Ru, "I'm sure he'd be fine to meet us now."
"Good friends or not, he's busy and will not be disturbed now."
Li, continued to wait patiently while Qing Ru continued to argue with the secretary. Eventually, Li simply walked up to the front desk and switched on the intercom line to the lab and spoke, "Mr. Wu, we have some questions we'd like to ask you, do you mind if we come in?"
The secretary turned to Li with fire in her eyes and almost shouted to have security escort him and Qing Ru until Mr. Wu's voice came over the line. "Not at all. Please, come in, I'd like to show you something anyway," he said enthusiastically.
Li turned to the secretary and smirked and then followed Qing Ru to the lab.
Once in the chemical lab, Mr. Wu smiled and introduced Li and Qing Ru to his other partner.
"Kagaku, this is Li and Qing Ru, they helped catch Verlok's murderer, very smart people. Li, Qing Ru, this is our chemist Kagaku."
"Pleasure to meet you," Qing Ru said as he shook hands.
"Before you start asking questions," Mr. Wu said, "I'd like you to watch something."
"Actually, we'd just like to borrow your lab for a little while," Li said.
"Oh, okay then. You can use it after we're done here."
Mr. Wu and Kagaku vanished into the storage room of the lab and emerged wearing protective clothing. They also provided some for Qing Ru and Li. They all wore long lab coats with hoods, thick rubber gloves, facemasks, and goggles.
"What precisely is it we're watching?" Qing Ru asked.
"We're trying to find a solution to the spirit vine problem in Republic City," Kagaku replied, "I think I've found a way that involves a highly concentrated strong base, potassium hydroxide."
Once Kagaku had finished making his solution, he filled a small dropper with a small quantity of it. He then took a spirit vine out of the freezer in the storage room and placed it on the lab table. Very slowly he dropped the solution on the vine and it began to whither as they all watched the base eat through where he had dropped it.
Qing Ru, Kagaku, and Mr. Wu were all fascinated by the process and Kagaku, believing he had been successful exclaimed, "Fantastic!"
Unfortunately, their success didn't last, as the vine lost cohesion, it began to get very hot and the four of them backed away from the imminent trouble just in time to avoid being hit by the explosion of the vine remnants.
Qing Ru thought that in all the confusion and smoke he heard Kagaku swear but he couldn't be sure and didn't stick around to find out. He quickly felt his way to the door and escaped. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Wu opened the air outtake and intake vents and turned on the fan.
"Well, so much for that," Mr. Wu said.
"It just doesn't make sense, there shouldn't have been any explosive chemical reactions and yet there was," Kagaku said as he puzzled over the scorch mark on the table where the vine had been.
"I'm sure you'll figure out something eventually," Li said. "Now, could we please use the lab, it's rather important."
"Sure, sure," Kagaku said as he cleaned up the table. "Just give me a minute."
Once the lab had been cleaned Li gathered a whole host of chemicals and sat down at the now clean lab table.
"Pass the dirt please Qing Ru," he said.
Qing Ru handed him the bag and he, along with Mr. Wu and Kagaku watched interestedly as Li set to work. He would extract a small sample of dirt from the bag and would apply some chemical to it and look for a reaction. If there was a reaction, he took note of it and wrote down the precise nature of the reaction. When he had finished, Li cleaned up the table once again and then he studied his notes. Not long afterwards, he concluded his thoughts and looked up from his paper.
"This soil came from the outskirts of the city. The composition matches that of the hills nearby but also has an organic component in addition to what I thought was clay earlier, but was actually plaster, mortar, and low concentration blasting jelly. There is also a hint of rust and aluminum. Both of these components are used in welding paste which is really just thermite and blasting jelly. So it's probably a new construction site and," Li paused as he rushed out of the lab and then back in with a map of Republic City, there is only one place that matches this description and that's just North of the city."
Kagaku was confused, "So why is this important?"
"It's related to the robbery of the Bank of Republic City," Qing Ru said. "We think that this place is where the thieves came from before they robbed the bank."
"Why would you want to help the government solve its bank problem?" Mr. Wu asked. "I thought you didn't like the government."
"I don't," Li replied, "but I think that this little caper of ours is going to present some interesting and surprising results that may cause President Raiko more problems than if we just left it."
Li folded up the map and turned to the two entrepreneurs, "Thank you very much, I shall reimburse you for use of your lab once I've solved the case." He then turned to Qing Ru, "Come Qing Ru, the chase is on."
Qing Ru followed Li out the door and Li dropped the map off on the secretary's desk and then exited out onto the street where he hailed yet another cab. He waited for Qing Ru to get in and then gave the driver the address, "Number one Bundok Street please and make it quick."
The Satomobile lurched forward and barreled down the road at high speed and Li and Qing Ru were at their destination in no time. Once they arrived Li spoke to the driver, "Wait here please. Also, do you have a radio?"
"Yes," the driver replied.
"May I borrow it?"
"'fraid not sir, it's attached to the vehicle."
"I see, can you get the police on it?"
"Yes," the driver was beginning to look concerned.
"I need you to be able to call them at a moment's notice, if you do well there's an extra five Yuans in it for you."
At that last statement the driver said nothing more besides a terse, "Yes sir."
"Good man," Li said as he turned around and led Qing Ru to the brand new warehouse just up the hill from the main road.
As the two ascended the driveway to the garage appended to the warehouse Li though he saw someone move and he thrust out his arm to stop Qing Ru. "Shh!" he said. "We must proceed with more silence and caution." As they restarted up the hill, Li drew his firearm.
Once they reached the main door of the warehouse Li instructed Qing Ru to begin inspecting the area for a way in.
Suddenly Qing Ru shouted, "Over here!"
Li followed Qing Ru's voice around the corner of the warehouse and found him standing next to an open door.
"I thought I saw someone enter through here," Qing Ru said.
"You shouldn't have shouted then," Li said. Li passed through the door and Qing Ru followed silently behind him.
The inside of the ware house was dark but with what little light came in through the windows near the ceiling, Li and Qing Ru could discern several crates filled with Yuans. "This must be it," Li said. "Help me check all the crates for the plates."
Qing Ru did as Li said and in short order found the stolen plates.
"I think my friend," Li began as he holstered his firearm, "that this is the stolen-"
Li was cut off by a ball of water that caught him by his left hand, dragged him, and froze him to the farthest wall. Qing Ru had meanwhile ducked down to avoid being hit.
Li cursed himself silently for being careless but only took a moment as he saw the waterbender who had attacked him. "Qing Ru!" he shouted. "Go to the cab and get the police!"
Qing Ru surreptitiously vacated the warehouse of stolen money while Li struggled to free himself.
The waterbender approached Li and opened a new horn of water as he prepared to kill him.
As Li dangled from the wall unable to break free a thought occurred to him. He quickly reached for his firearm with his right hand and shot himself free. As he hit the ground and disappeared behind a stack of crates he caught sight of the surprised waterbender who began to search for Li.
Li began to search for his firearm in the dim light just as he found it, the waterbender found him. As Li's life flashed before his eyes, a small pebble struck the waterbender in the head at high speed disorienting him.
Just as the waterbender regained his bearings Li raised his firearm with his left hand and shot his assailant once in each shoulder.
Unable to waterbend, he turned and fled at which point Li shot him in the rear and the waterbender collapsed.
Qing Ru, who had reappeared and apparently thrown the pebble, rushed to inspect the waterbender and Li followed.
"He's still alive," Qing Ru said amazed.
"Yes, I just meant to disable him so we could question him later. Did you call the police?"
"Yes, Qing Ru replied, apparently the driver was already tuned to their radio frequencies," Qing Ru replied.
"I told him to do that."
Qing Ru looked surprised at Li and then turned back to the waterbender on the ground. "But the last time you shot someone, they died."
"That was partly because of where I shot him, and the fact that he electrocuted himself afterwards. I just shot this one in the arms and coccyx. Help me roll him over."
Qing Ru did as Li instructed and they rolled the man on the floor over. "So what are doing now?"
"Interrogating him," Li replied. He turned to the man lying on the floor, "Sir, if you would be so kind as to tell us who your employer is and where we can find him."
The man remained silent and glared at Li and Qing Ru.
Li spoke again, "Very well, let's give you some incentive. If you don't tell us what we want to know then you can definitely bank on a very long life in prison without parole, you also will be placed in the caring hands of the corrupt Officer Shu who I hear is quite the sadist when it comes to interrogations and you can also be certain that I will shoot your hand and proceed to step on it until you speak," Li drew his firearm again. "Do we understand each other?"
The man finally spoke, "It's the bankers."
"The chairman and his deputy."
"I see, and what about the other two thieves? I assume you were one of them judging by your shoe size, but what about the other one?"
"The Master, he hired us out to the chairman."
"Thank you sir," Li said. "I shall put in a good word for you with the police."
The blaring of sirens could now be heard from within the warehouse and in a short amount of time, the police came in and took the man away on a stretcher.
Li spotted the officer in command and approached him, "Excuse me sir, but I was wondering if I might have a word with you."
"Fine," replied the officer.
"You see, I interrogated that man there and as part of my interrogation, I told him that if he spoke, he wouldn't have to be interrogated by Officer Shu and that he could get a reduced sentence, I was wondering if you might help me make good on those promises."
"I can help you with the interrogation, but whether or not he gets a reduced sentence depends on how good his lawyer is."
"That'll be fine, thank you," Li turned away and went back to the cab where Qing Ru was waiting.
"So now what?" Qing Ru asked.
"Now, we pay President Raiko a visit and get this whole case wrapped up." Li now turned to the driver, "Council building please."
Within minutes Li and Qing Ru were entering President Raiko's office, uninvited.
The bespectacled president rose indignantly and shouted, "Who do you think you are, bursting into the office of the President of the Republic unannounced and uninvited!"
Li coolly replied, "We're the people you hired to investigate the bank robbery, a mystery that once solved must be reported with all haste to the highest authority in the republic invitations and announcements notwithstanding."
Qing Ru thought he detected a hint of sarcasm in Li's last remark but couldn't be certain.
The president on the other hand became wide eyed and anxious. "So you've solved it then?"
"Well," Li began, "we are here."
"So who did it and where are the stolen goods?"
"All in good time," Li said. "First, you must get the chairman and deputy chairman of the bank here along with a police officer competent enough to make an arrest. Perhaps, Officer Shu, he knows the chairman and his deputy I believe. In fact, I think he endorsed their appointments."
President Raiko was confused, "What are you getting at?"
"Your questions will be answered soon enough Mr. President." Li replied. "Also, we should get a few journalists from various papers in here and then you can have a wonderful press conference afterward." Li looked at the president who stood rooted and still confused. "Oh don't stand there gawking like a pudding brain, get on with it, the sooner we get this over with, the sooner we can all go home."
The president had come out of his trance and looked directly at Li, "I'm sorry, what was that?"
Li, being somewhat disappointed that he'd have to repeat himself spoke, "Do keep up Mr. President, I realize it's been a long day but you're not the only one with things to do. You need to summon the chairman and deputy chairman of the Bank of Republic City, Officer Shu, a few journalists from the local papers, and then set up a press conference for about four P.M. so we can all be home in time for dinner."
"Certainly," the president replied still dazed but growing somewhat irritated with Li's impudence. "But why four."
"Because I estimate that it will be about three by the time everyone gets here and that it will take about an hour to tie up the whole mystery for everyone."
"Okay," the president replied, still not fully comprehending the situation but doing as Li asked.
Li's estimations were correct as the chairman and his deputy were the last to arrive at three o'clock.
"Welcome gentlemen, please be seated," he said as they entered the room.
As the two took their seats, Li began to discuss the details of the bank robbery.
"Late last night, four men entered the Bank of Republic City and removed from its vaults several million Yuans along with the plates used to print said Yuans. Two of the men were hired hands but the other two were very familiar with the security systems of the bank. I shall now level my accusation and explain the details that support it. These two men had strides of three and two and a half feet and wore size eleven and thirteen shoes respectively. We might all guess that this information implicates the chairman and his deputy, but without further evidence we cannot jump to conclusions. So, I will provide you with further evidence. When I was questioning the chairman about the robbery in his Satomobile on the way to the bank, I asked him the time of the robbery, and about how long it lasted. He answered 'about midnight,' and 'about an hour and forty-five minutes.' Both of these are very precise answers for someone who was supposed to be asleep at the time of the robbery and who had only just called upon an investigator but as would make sense this was still not enough to go on. Then came the locks. You see, the chairman and his deputy hoped to create a locked room mystery that would baffle people into giving up on the case. This, however, was one of their biggest mistakes. You see, none of the doors or windows had been forced open and the locks were un-pickable by the nature of their design and only one key existed for each lock and the locks were not just key locks, but also combination locks that were composed primarily of platinum. In other words, the lock evidence alone would point to the chairman and his deputy. However, there is still every possibility that the keys had been stolen, but the combinations would still have prevented prospective thieves from entering and stealing the goods in question. The only people who had the keys and who knew the combinations to the door lock and the vault lock were the chairman and his deputy. Now that I had a suspect, all I needed was to find the stolen property. I guessed quite correctly that the mud from the footprints in the bank would lead me to the repository of stolen Yuans. It appeared that the warehouse owned by the chairman and his deputy as part of their shipping business would be the prime candidate for both pre-robbery meeting place and post robbery repository for the spoils of the enterprise. Once I had identified this warehouse to be the mud's source, I proceeded there where I found, as I expected, the stolen Yuans and the plates."
The chairman rose indignantly and spoke, "You have no right to level these accusations against us when all you have is circumstantial evidence, for all you know our warehouse could have been broken into, someone could have stolen our keys and cracked the combinations and had the same stride and worn the same size shoes as we did."
"While your proposition seems unlikely Mr. Chairman," Li replied, "it would not even matter if there was a ninety-nine percent chance that it were true because the Yuans and plates weren't the only things I found in that warehouse. I found one of your accomplices who, after some self defense maneuvers on the parts of my companion Qing Ru and myself and some friendly persuasion, is now willing to testify against you. Unfortunately we weren't able to find the fourth thief, but at this point, he is of little consequence." Li now turned to Officer Shu, "I realize that the chairman is your personal friend and that you endorsed his appointment to public office but as you are the only police officer here, you will have to make the arrest."
"Very well," Officer Shu replied bitterly as he cuffed the chairman and his deputy.
Li now turned to President Raiko, "And I believe, Mr. President, that you have a press conference in just a few moments in which you'll have to explain how your bank appointee turned out to be a crook. I hope this doesn't hurt your chances for reelection."
Li's sarcasm was almost palpable.
The president did not appreciate it but he had little time to worry about Li's demeanor and quickly made preparations to attend his press conference.
Li now turned to Qing Ru, "I do believe it is time to go home now."
Qing Ru picked up his things and followed Li to the street. The chaos of the Republic City Press Association was surrounding President Raiko's lectern as they descended the steps of the council building and hailed a cab. Li and Qing Ru spent the journey home in silence.
For the collective works of the author, go here.