A few minutes later, Sunny and Robert had secured a table in the seating area of the library, near the front desk. The librarian had called the police right after the robbery and was now speaking to two officers and describing the No-Ledgers. Sunny eavesdropped surreptitiously, using a large encyclopedia as cover.
"They were quite flamboyant and, frankly, unprofessional. If I didn't know better, I'd say they were like a performing group. I mean, what kind of crime group calls themselves the No-Ledgers?" The elderly librarian sighed and ran her fingers through her graying hair. "Nevertheless, they stole our precious books, as well as the valuables of our patrons."
One of the police officers nodded sympathetically. "Don't worry, ma'am. We'll be sure to track them down and return the items as soon as possible."
The other police officer scribbled on her notepad, then gazed at it thoughtfully. "You mentioned that they threatened you with the possibility of stealing the error descriptions again?"
The librarian nodded, and the officer hummed thoughtfully. From behind the officer, Elsie hurried up to the little group.
Elsie leaned against the desk towards the librarian and whispered, "It's gone." Her hair was messy, as if she'd been too busy rushing around (searching for whatever "it" was?) to spare a moment to smooth it down.
"What's gone?" The first police officer immediately became alert, his dark eyes narrowing.
The librarian sighed deeply. "Our first-edition copy of Practical Algorithms."
Sunny exchanged a glance with Robert, trying to gauge whether the robot knew anything about the value of the book. Judging from his large pixelated eyes, the book was a big deal.
Elsie slumped against the desk. "It's gone…" She looked shell-shocked. "Who knows what they'll do to it. Such a priceless piece of history and I bet they'll just auction it off, or worse…"
The librarian patted her hand comfortingly. "It's alright, Elsie. We'll get it back before anything happens." She eyed the police officers. "Isn't that right?"
They nodded quickly. The one with the notepad glanced at her watch and said, "Well, we'd best be tracking down those books now. If you discover any more information, be sure to let us know. We'll be in touch."
With that, the officers took their leave and exited the library.
Sunny set down the encyclopedia and started to ask Robert what Practical Algorithms was, but he'd already anticipated the question.
"Practical Algorithms is the foundation of our knowledge. It covers everything, from binary search to mergesort to floodfill. It's used in schools, at universities, and most people have a copy in their homes. The first edition is incredibly valuable." The robot hummed worriedly. "I wonder how the robbers got their hands on it– a book that important should have been guarded carefully."
"I see." Sunny glanced at Elsie and the librarian discussing in hushed tones. "Maybe we can ask, and I can help somehow. After all, I do have some questing experience now."
Sunny got up and walked over to the two. "Excuse me," she said.
They stopped and turned towards Sunny. Elsie wiped her eyes. "What?"
The other librarian quickly stepped in, saying, "I apologize. Please understand that this robbery has shaken us up… We'll be closing the library soon, so I'm afraid I cannot help with any queries you might have right now."
"Oh, well, I was just wondering if I could help." Sunny gave them her best smile. "You see, I'm a hero."
Elsie and the librarian exchanged a look.
"I don't have a resumé, but I can list my accomplishments, if you'd like. I've read hundreds of fantasy books, so I'd say I'm experienced in how quests and mysteries usually go. Plus, I helped solve the disappearance of the errors!"
"That's… nice, but I'm afraid we'll deal with this matter internally and in collaboration with the police. We appreciate your concern, but please don't trouble yourself with this. The library should be up and running as normal soon." The librarian's eyes crinkled in a friendly but firm smile.
"But– haven't you read any mystery novels?" Sunny burst out. "The police are always incompetent and the spunky protagonist and their friends need to solve the mystery themselves! So I think you really could use my help here–"
Robert floated up behind her and elbowed her meaningfully.
Sunny blinked and realized the nearby patrons were staring at her. Had she been raising her voice? "Sorry," she muttered. "But really, with my wits, bravery, and main character energy, I'm sure the mystery could be solved in no time…"
Elsie stopped blowing her nose and raised an eyebrow. "Thanks, but I don't think someone who hadn't even heard of classes and objects could be of much use in this." Then she seemed to remember the robbery again and returned to being on the verge of tears.
The librarian tsked sadly. "We'd better close the library now. We're in no state to help any seekers of knowledge right now."
With that, Sunny and Robert were gently but firmly ushered out of the library.
* * *
Sunny sat on the marble steps outside the library, clutching her backpack. Robert floated next to her.
Sunny mumbled, "I can't believe they rejected me. I mean, don't they know who I am?"
"That's the thing. They don't." Robert hovered lower. "You might know what you're capable of, but to them, you're simply a well-intentioned but clueless stranger."
Sunny felt like she'd been punched in the gut. "I– I guess so." Was her hero energy really not noticeable? Did she look like an average person to everyone else? Argh. She knew she wasn't supposed to seek fame, but being well-known sure would've been helpful in this case…
"Well. What do we do now?"
"Oh, so now you want to listen to me?" Robert rolled his eyes.
"Sorry?" Sunny tried to remember what she could've done to bring out that tone in Robert's voice.
"Attacking the robber. Rushing off to talk to the librarians." The robot scoffed. "I'm an ambassador for a reason, you know. You think it's all scrap metal up here?" He pointed at his head. "No. I actually do give helpful advice, you know."
Sunny blushed in shame. "Oh. I never said you weren't helpful! I just… well, I get impatient sometimes. Sorry."
Robert huffed, but hovered lower to sit beside Sunny. "Apology accepted, on the condition that you listen to me next time before following through on any reckless ideas that get into that head of yours."
"Will do." Sunny offered him a half-smile. "Now, if you do have advice on what to do next, I'd love to hear it…"