Natalia Kowalski was furious.
She stood in front of Chief Dunby’s desk at the Lego City Police Department, her arms folded, her hand claws locked into place.
“Dunby. I am not moving from this spot until you tell me where Chase is!” She flipped her head and her blonde ponytail whipped around to emphasize her point.
The chief crinkled his mustache. “Natalia, I’d love to help you, but—“
“Don’t give me any excuses about how it’s official police business! I’ll go through the city’s computer system. I’m the head paramedic now at the hospital, I’d have the authority to do that!”
Dunby cocked his eyebrow. “Uh, would you?”
“I don’t know!,” yelled Natalia. “The whole system has been a mess ever since they gave Frank Honey an account. No one’s been able to log in for two weeks.”
Dunby smiled. “You’d be proud to know that I finally fired *Frank Honey* for that very offense. He destroyed the city’s entire compuper network. If it got out, we’d be overrun with cyber crime.”
Natalia blinked. “Did you just say ‘compewper?’”
“Yes!,” shouted Dunby. “And what of it? Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to my rigorous schedule of eating donuts and looking at that wall.”
Natalia slammed her hand down on Dunby’s desk, and it shattered into pieces. “No! I will not! You haven’t answered my question.”
“I hate this desk,” said Dunby. He sighed.
“You promised the mayor you’d give Chase the freedom to pursue real cases. That’s the only reason she didn’t fire you. Well that and you’ve never done anything wrong you just…don’t do much of anything at all.”
“I sent Chase to find some cat lady,” said Dunby. He pulled a donut from a newfound box on his floor.
Natalia raised an eyebrow.
“Before you start in on me,” said Dunby. “I don’t know who she is. We were supposed to provide a police escort for this woman who came into town from up North, but the two deputies I sent came back raving about a gang of clowns with laser guns.”
“That sounds really serious!,” said Natalia. “I wonder if those are the clowns that tried to rob the bank for Rex Fury last year?”
“Ahhh!,” shouted Dunby. He leapt under the pile of his desk remains. “Rex Fury??? Where?”
“Dunby,” said Natalia, rolling her eyes. “He’s not here. He’s miles away in the state jail still.”
“Okay, you had me worried!”
“I don’t know why I came up here,” said Natalia. “I should have just talked to Ellie.”
Today was Peppermint Day at the Beanland. It was a festival of Peppermint Drinks, designed to freshen up the menu and get people to come in and check it out. It was the one themed thing that Selena had kept from Randy’s days running the store…mostly because she had forgotten about it too late to stop it from happening.
She went down early in the morning to pick up her big dumb peppermint sign from Banner Banner, Who’s Got The Banner? It was a kitschy sign shop in downtown Hillsvale. You basically weren’t allowed to have a business in downtown unless it had a ridiculous name. Oh sure, you could open something with a normal name…but people had come to expect weirdness. It’s why Kitchen Stuff had failed miserably while Alice in Blenderland continued to do a thriving daily business.
Selena hung up the banner and made sure that her shipment of peppermint syrups was set up and ready to go. When she unlocked the door at 5AM…Alex walked in.
“I’m here, and I’m ready for the peppermint!”
Selena blinked. “You never get here this early.”
“I know, but it’s Peppermint Day so I wanted to beat the rush. Plus I couldn’t sleep last night because I was playing this dumb Lego video game. That…that was too much information,” said Alex.
Selena walked over to the counter and started making a Peppermint Mocha. Alex paid and said “thank you.”
Alex’s hunch had been right. The entire “cool” group of Hillsvale descended on Beanland, keen to get peppermint drinks that were more or less the same as the peppermint drinks everywhere else, but made somehow better by the fact that it was a special day.
At some point an unknown miscreant stole the second chair from Alex’s table. He was displeased with himself for not noticing exactly when this happened, and also displeased with himself for how little use he ever made of the second chair.
Some people decided to dress up like Peppermint or in all green. Selena didn’t love this…but she had to admit to herself it was nice to see the place so crowded. She started daydreaming about what other terrible themed days she could come up with just to cram more people into the shop.
“Uh Frank, don’t you think we ought to rebuild your office door before we head out into the field?,” asked Chase.
“Nah, it’s fine!,” said Frank. “I can sell all those batabooms that Batman left in the door online and I’ll be rich all over again!”
Chase shuddered at the notion of Frank Honey being secretly wealthy.
“Besides,” said Frank, “There’s nothing worth stealing in here anyway, aside from the batabooms. And this way I won’t have to hunt for my keys the next time I want to come here.”
“We…we could just assemble a new door. That’s like…that’s kind of expected in this city. I mean, everything comes apart and can be put back together in no time,” said Chase. “It’s why they make so many movies here.”
“We gotta go find Catwoman!,” said Frank.
Chase appreciated Frank’s enthusiasm. “Okay, let’s do it!”
They ran down to the street and hopped into Chase’s cool undercover cop car. It was decked out with all the neat features. Automatic doors. Cool speed boost button. *Other* cool speed boost button.
Frank Honey immediately wanted to press the speed button. “They don’t let me get into cars anymore. Not since I crashed that semi truck into the stage where the mayor was giving a speech. What a fun day! This is my first time riding in a car since then!”
“Er,” said Chase. “Hey Frank? Maybe put your seatbelt on and don’t touch anything, okay?”
“You got it best friend!”
Natalia wandered into Ellie’s garage. She had left the police department after Frank was fired and set up her own automotive shop. All the Lego men in town had scoffed at her for being a woman running an auto shop, and Ellie retaliated by stealing all of their business with better service and prices.
“Hey Ellie,” said Natalia to a car with repair noises coming from under it.
Ellie rolled out on one of those car rolling repair things.
“Car rolling repair things?”
Alex stared at his screen for a minute. “Yeah, you got a problem with that, haha?”
“I mean, they have a name don’t they?”
“I’m sure they do,” typed Alex. “But I have no idea what it is and I don’t have time to look it up. NaNoWriMo is a stupid exercise where speed is all that matters and accuracy is for the lame!”
“I wonder if it isn’t doing you more harm than good?”
“Well I’ve never written anything *great* during NaNoWriMo, so I don’t see why I should start now!”
Ellie listened intently to Natalia’s story while wiping grease off herself. “It sounds like the boys are in trouble, we’d better go and help them.”
“Are we allowed to do that?,” asked Natalia.
“Of course we are!,” said Ellie. “They’d never get anywhere if we weren’t there to help them out, especially Frank, my little Honey Bunny. I don’t know if you noticed, and I love him, but he’s more clueless than a bad detective novel.”
“Hah, well, he does have his charms,” said Natalia. “I don’t blame you for liking him.”
“I’ll text some of the boys over in the detective department and see what they know about this cat lady. That doesn’t sound like anything I’ve heard of. Those clowns are trouble though, and I got word that a space laser went missing from the museum a few nights ago.”
“Got word?,” asked Natalia. “How did you have time for that in between running this place?”
“Follow me,” said Ellie.
She took Natalia into the back office and showed her a small globe on the desk. “Push that globe over.”
Natalia pushed on the globe, and the lego brick wall started to crinkle away, revealing a massive room full of computers and crime fighting equipment.
Natalia’s jaw opened so wide that her head nearly popped off. “Whoaaaaa, where did you get all this stuff?”
“I uh, I liberated it from Dunby. He wanted to throw all the old equipment out when he got increased funding after we caught Rex again, so I…made this stuff go away. Into my shop.”