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A Proposition In Broad Daylight
“SO, you boys fancy yourselves as detectives, do you?”
Kirk and Spock were sitting in the posh office of Christopher Pike, the famed private investigator. Christopher was a tall, fit man who exuded confidence. He had solved many cases for the Spaceport community, and indeed, many hot spots on this world and others. He was a selfless man, not looking for fortune or fame, although his reputation and success certainly brought that to the table.
Mostly, he did it for the women.
“Yes, sir!” chimed Jim Kirk, smiling from ear to ear. Jim was seventeen years old and fair, with golden brown hair that that often flopped in front of his face.
“I believe that my powers of observation would be of great benefit to your practice.” added Spock. Spock was a year older than Jim, with jet-black hair, styled in typical Vulcan fashion over his brow. This caused many rude youths to give him the name ‘Moe,’ although he failed to find the humor in the moniker. In fact, humor was a difficult concept to grasp for the young man, as his species held cool logic above raw emotion.
“Really, Spock!” Pike was amused with the young men and their zeal. “And what do you think young Jim brings to the party?”
Spock took a moment to gather his thoughts before speaking. He found that being quick or impetuous would often lead to misunderstanding with emotional humans. “He is -” he looked for a word that would that would sum up his thoughts without going into detail. Humans seemed to dislike detail. “Capable.”
“Well, that doesn’t seem like a glowing report,” offered Pike.
Jim leaned in towards his chum and chided, “You could at least talk me up a bit.”
Spock confided under his breath, “As a Vulcan, I am uneasy using your metaphors.” He turned back to Pike. “Suffice to say, I find Jim Kirk’s abilities as an athlete above average, and, although his moral sense is sometimes ambiguous, he is a worthy friend and ally.”
“Okay,” Kirk backpedalled, his brow furrowed, “you can stop talking me up, now.”
Pike eyed his two impromptu applicants carefully. He didn’t want to hurt their feelings, of course, but so much of his work would be far too dangerous for two young boys. While it was true that intellect and confidence could get a person far, like a good line in a bar, a person would have to then be able to back up his play. These boys were far too inexperienced to be each other’s wingman – investigatively speaking, of course.
After some careful thought, and a vague remembrance of a girl named Tina with a decanter of Romulan ale, he did have an idea: “Boys, there is a little trip I need to make this afternoon. I have to see a man about some information. Now, I think you might be able to do this little errand for me – Young Jim here has a ready for action look about him, and whatever information my associate has, I’m certain Spock would lock it away in his highly structured mind like a steel trap.”
“I’ll say!” Kirk said.
“It would be an honor to offer my service,” said Spock, agreeably.
Pike felt that this was a good compromise. It wasn’t particularly dangerous, although the part of town they were going to was a bit rough and tumble. Jim, however looked like he could defend himself in a scrap. And, although they were both excited to help, they didn’t seem foolhardy or reckless. Besides, this would give him the afternoon off for other endeavors. As the ancients used to say: Win-Win. He smiled at the boys.
“You have to meet a man named hector.”
“Hector?” Jim asked. “What race is he?”
Pike smiled. “I’m afraid he’s human, just like you and I.”
Jim’s excitement seemed to wane. “Doesn’t sound very fun.”
“But wait!” Pike countered, “It’s not who he is, per se, as much as where he got his information from.”
Jim’s interest picked up somewhat. “Where?”
“The Klingon home world.”
Jim practically jumped out of his chair. “He’s been to Kronos?”
“Oh yes. And I’m certain he’ll have a story along with the information. Hector loves to talk. But,” he warned, “don’t let him talk your ear off.” Then, he added: “Not too much, anyway. I’ll need that information quickly, and it is truly important to a very large client.”
“Someone with wealth and status?” Spock asked.
“No, he’s just really big. My current client is definitely not human.” Pike pulled an old-fashioned photograph from his shirt pocket and handed it to Spock. “Memorize this person, please: Facial features; height; weight.”
Spock looked at the photo carefully, then handed it back to Pike. “Understood and done, sir.”
Kirk was more than ready. “Where are we going?”
Pike picked up a writing tablet and started to scribble down some information. “I know I could simply send you this, but in my – scratch that – in our line of work,” both the boys perked up with his change of wording, “it’s best to never leave a data trail.” He handed the top sheet to Spock, who looked at the information cooly.
“This address is at the watercraft docks.” Spock concluded.
“Yes.” Pike would never get used to that term for the old shipping lanes, but as time marched on, there needed to be a simple way to discern space travel from water travel and air travel. “It’s a little rough over there – think you two can handle it?
“Of course, sir. We will use the utmost discretion.”
Even Kirk, who wanted to simply leap up and begin, knew to show some decorum with their new employer. “What information will we be gathering from Hector, Sir?”
Pike produced a wry smile. The smile he usually reserved for a lady after about the third drink. “I think I’ll let you find that out for yourselves.” He winked. The women liked that. “Maybe you’ll gather up a few clues on the way back, depending on what you discover.”
Kirk needed no more information. He was on his feet almost immediately. “You can count on us, sir!”
“That’s the spirit. Now, off with you! I’ll want a full report with my information at seventeen hundred this evening.”
Spock’s brow furrowed, as Kirk shook Pike’s hand. “We’re on it! Right Spock?”
“I am, as I stated, more than willing and prepared for the given task. However -“
“- However we do it, it will be done!”
Kirk finished his friend’s sentence, and attempted to drag Spock out of the office before he could protest a second time. Whatever Spock’s concerns, they could discuss them outside of the great detective’s presence.
Spock, however, was adamant: “But Jim, it is obvious that you do not understand -” His sentence ended abruptly when the office door slid closed behind them. Pike laughed a good natured guffaw. Was he ever that excited about anything? The energy of youth was truly boundless.
With his afternoon now free, he could take a well-deserved break. Perhaps a late lunch with a friend. Maybe even see if Miss Vina was available for a playdate. Maybe they could play the Orion space girl game again. Or the farmer’s daughter. Yes, that was a very fun game.
Outside in the hallway, Spock faced his friend. “Why did you agree to Detective Pike’s terms?”
“I didn’t want to lose the job.” Kirk replied. “This is our chance to show we can do this!”
“You have set us up for certain failure. Pike wants his information at seventeen hundred hours: Five o’clock. It is currently three o’clock. At my calculations, with walking as our current mode of transportation, we are one point seven-six-five-three hours from our destination. It is impossible for us to get there, get the required information, and then return within the specified timeframe.”
Kirk glowered at his friend. “What have I told you about being too specific?”
“That it is annoying to humans and many other races.” Spock thought a moment, and Kirk believed his chum looked almost annoyed, himself. “Will ‘one point seven hours’ be an acceptable compromise?”
“For the moment.” Kirk smiled. It was a smile that seemed to work with girls, but he hadn’t figured out what to do after the smile, just yet. “Don’t worry, Spock. I have a plan…”
“AS I see it, Spock, all we need is a mode of transportation.”
It was amazing to Spock the level of ignorance that humans often displayed. Jim’s sentence was stated as truth; as if the need for transportation would simply produce transportation.
“Yet we have none, nor do we have the funds to secure any craft.”
They were walking down Main Street, in the direction of the watercraft docks. Sadly, it would be a very long walk. Kirk seemed unusually happy for a person who was soon to fail at his new assignment.
“Yes, but I happen to know that today is Tuesday, Spock.”
“I am pleased that you know the current day of the week, but that has nothing to do with our dilemma.”
“Ah! But it does.” They had stopped walking. Kirk pointed to a rather well-used hovercraft parked in front of the local hardware store. The front hood was open, and a young man was hunched over the inner workings, busily tinkering.
“Scotty!” Kirk called out to the young mechanic.
Montgomery Scott tore himself away from his engine to address the duo standing before him. He was Spock’s age, and his dark brown hair was in the general condition of someone who was more interested in an engine than in a pocket comb.
“Boys! Good to see you! I was just picking up a few parts for The Queen, here.”
“As you are every Tuesday.” Kirk said, smiling.
“Tuesday is my day off. It’s the only chance I can do some work on her.”
The Queen was Montgomery’s pride and joy, though he had many mechanical projects around his home. There wasn’t a time Kirk had ever seen his friend without a tool in his hand, working on some project or machine. Queen may have been around before he was born, but Montgomery kept the elder hovercraft in top working condition. He loved Queen.
Montgomery beamed over his prize, “It’s the machine of a dream.”
Kirk added, “It’s a clean machine.”
The pistons were currently pumping.
Spock noted Montgomery’s meticulous in his care of the vehicle, “The hubcaps all gleam.”
“Well, of course! She may be old, but she’s a keeper!” Montgomery’s gaze moved from his car to Kirk and Spock. “What can I do for my two favorite chums?”
Kirk smiled. “We need a lift. We have a job.”
“Jim Kirk! What kind of a job could you possibly have lined up with Spock? You may be friends, but you rarely see eye to eye.”
“We are currently charged with a fact finding mission by Christopher Pike.”
“It’s a private eye gig, Scotty,” Kirk’s eyes twinkled. “Want to join us? It’s a grand adventure. It’s a dangerous encounter. It’s a great mystery.”
“It’s a one point seven hour walk,” Spock added, “We could use your vehicle to expedite our trip.”
Kirk winced. “Spock, you are just not a romantic. Where is your sense of adventure?”
“Our task is simply to ‘see a man about a message.’ It is hardly a rousing adventure in the truest sense of the vernacular.”
Montgomery didn’t wait for the bickering to stop, as he knew it was a constant state between the two friends. He tossed his hyperspanner lightly into the back seat, and pulled a rag from his pocket to wipe his hands. “I’m in! Let’s see a man about a message! But I drive. No one else handles Queen but me.”
Kirk laughed, “You’re in love with your car!”
Montgomery agreed, “She’s my best friend.”
“You boys goin’ somewhere?” came a voice from behind them. The group turned to find a rather lanky boy just a few years older than Spock. He had an easy going smile and a slow bit of a drawl that betrayed his early years growing up in the southern part of the country.
“Lenny!” Kirk said. “Want to go on an adventure?”
“If it’s something you three have cooked-up, I just might want to stay right here on this sidewalk.” He motioned toward the Queen. “Especially if we’re going in that bucket of bolts, there.”
Montgomery feigned a hurt tone of voice, “What have you got against poor Queenie, here?”
“Does it have moving parts?”
“Well, of course.”
“Then that’s what I’ve got against her. You know what happens to your body when you crash in one of those things? Little bits of you all over the pavement.”
Leonard McCoy’s fear of technology always got a good laugh from the boys. But always behind Leonard’s back. In fact, when they were with him in the moment, his attitude was actually kind of annoying.
“Come on, Lenny.” Kirk said. “Hop in with us. We’re going to the old docks by Port Bay.”
Spock attempted to sound excited. “For a rousing adventure in the truest sense of the vernacular.” It didn’t seem to particularly convince Leonard. Kirk fared better, relaying the events of the afternoon, and their urgency to meet with Hector for information yet to be discovered. Spock would never understand human motivational techniques. Jim Kirk could seemingly convince anyone of almost anything.
With all the boys on board for adventure, they hopped into the hovercraft, and Montgomery turned the Queen towards the watercraft docks. The long walk became a relatively short drive, and the boys mused briefly about what information Hector might have for Christopher Pike.
“Maybe it’s not something about a current case at all,” Montgomery offered, “but something entirely new.”
“Well,” Kirk said, “he did mention that we might find some clues ourselves, after we met with Hector.”
“While this line of conversation does pass the time, it is useless to conjecture about the outcome. We will shortly learn all answers when we speak with Hector.”
Leonard raised an eyebrow. “Anyone ever tell you that cold logic makes a very boring travel companion, Spock?”
Spock raised an eyebrow. “I am merely stating a fact.”
Leonard raised both eyebrows. “So am I.”
Montgomery laughed. “If there’s one thing worse than Jim and Spock bickering, it’s Lenny and Spock bickering!”
“In any case,” Kirk said, “we’re here. We’ll all find out soon enough.”
The address that Pike had given Spock was easy enough to find: The entire area was currently alive with commotion and police activity. The boys exited the vehicle, and carefully made their way to the front of the onlookers, who were all gawking at the remains of the event. It seemed to Kirk as if half of Spaceport’s police department was at the scene.
There were several officers holding the crowd back, and three detectives were currently knelt over a body lying on the ground.
“This is unfortunate.” Spock said. “The man lying on the ground is Hector.”
“Are you sure?” Asked Montgomery.
“Positive. He is the appropriate weight and body mass. Even taking into account the missing appendage.”
Leonard motioned behind them. “Appendage? That’s rich. You mean his head. The one on the other side of the street.”
“Indeed.” Spock looked at the other scene and added, “Yes. Definitely Hector”
Leonard sighed, and raised his eyebrows yet again. “Well, I’m glad we have that all worked out.”
“Gentleman, please.” Kirk was crushed. There they were, on the precipice of a grand adventure, and it looked like they were stopped in their tracks before anything had a chance to even begin. How could they possibly get any information now? “Does anyone have any thoughts at all?”
“Yes. He’s dead, Jim. Can we go back now?”
A Puzzling Puzzle
THE boys watched helplessly as the area was slowly cleared. The remains of Hector were removed from the scene, and onlookers started to wander off from the group, as there was less and less to see.
Spock broke the silence. “I have a series of thoughts. I would like to share them, to see if you agree with my hypotheses.”
“We’ve got nothing else, Spock.” Kirk said. “Let’s hear them.”
“The investigators are operating without a key piece of data. They assume a random attack in a dangerous neighborhood. We have more information at our disposal. We know that Hector was here on a mission.”
Montgomery said, “They’re not looking for what we’re looking for, at all.”
Leonard frowned. “So? Whatever information Hector had just left with him.”
Jim got the glimmer in his eye again. “Not necessarily, Lenny.”
“Indeed.” Spock continued. “If Hector knew he was being followed, and I admit there is a chance this was not so, but if he noticed his assailant before the attack -“
“He would have ditched it.” Kirk said.
Leonard always insisted on playing devil’s advocate: It was his other predominately annoying habit. “Ditched what? Some kind of data transmission? I hate to break it to you, but Hector’s transmission was terminated when his head left his shoulders.”
Kirk started eying their surroundings very carefully. “We learned today that to keep data safe, you have to use old-school methods.”
“Precisely,” Spock said. “I was given this address on a sheet of paper, and a traditional two-dimensional photograph to memorize Hector’s features. It is logical to assume that an associate of Detective Pike might operate in the same fashion.”
“So,” Leonard mused, “our friend may have left us a note?”
Kirk spied the last of the police packing-up to exit the scene. “A note, or a symbol, or something as simple as an ‘x’ on the pavement. But something is better than nothing.” Kirk’s mood began to lift again. “Shall we cross the street, gentleman? We have some old-fashioned sleuthing to do!”
The murder occurred in front of the Take & Serve – A small, dock-side convenience store that sold much more alcohol than loaves of bread. Outside the main window were many sidewalk displays of chips and various other impulse items. The boys assessed the task at hand.
“It’s going to take awhile to search these bins.” Montgomery said. “then there’s the inside of the store, as well. The employees probably won’t take to kindly to us snooping around.”
“We must put ourselves in Detective Pike’s place,” Spock replied. “Where would he be most likely to look, if he was in our situation? Also, Where might Hector place the information, thinking that it would be Pike conducting the search?”
“I’ve got something!” Called Kirk from within the store. He came out of the building as the other boys approached the entrance to meet him.
Jim produced the fruit of his search for all to see: A pocket-sized notebook.
“This would be very safe,” concluded Spock.
“I found it by the Saurian Brandy.”
“And that would be very Pike,” concluded Spock.
Kirk opened the booklet to the first page, as the others crowded around his shoulders. There was some writing on the ruled sheet:
UVSO UIF QBHF -1
“Is it an alien language?” Asked Leonard.
“None of which I am aware.” Said Spock. “Hector was human, so we could assume a human language. The greek-based letters suggest simple english.”
“Is it a scramble?” Kirk scratched his head. “Perhaps letter transposition?”
“I Don’t think this guy had time to work up a puzzle page.” Leonard offered. “If I was in a hurry, I’d make it as simple as possible.”
“Maybe, in a way, it IS a puzzle page.” Montgomery pointed at the numeral next to the letters. “Could that be the instructions?”
“A negative ‘one’. Step each letter back one character in the alphabet, perhaps? It’s worth a shot.” Kirk pulled a writing implement from his pocket, and worked out the individual letters.
Slowly, a message appeared!
TURN THE PAGE
Leonard felt he spoke for the group. “Anyone else feel stupid right now?”
I am incapable of human emotion,” said Spock. “But in this case, I must answer in the affirmative.”
Kirk turned the page. There was an address hurriedly scribbled on the next sheet. He asked Spock to pinpoint the location.
“It is an old warehouse one point three kilometers from this location.”
“Well, what are we waiting for, Spock?” Jim was positively beaming. “Let’s go solve a mystery!”
Spock held up his hand. “One moment, Jim. I must point out that our duty at this point is to take this information back to Detective Pike.”
“But that’s all the way back into town – we’re right here! We could not only bring him the information, but the results of the information. We may have cracked this case wide-open!”
“We have hardly solved the case, but merely gained a helpful clue. One that may only make sense to Detective Pike. We may find ourselves with a more perplexing dilemma, or worse, we could find ourselves in mortal danger. May I point out that Hector lost his life in attempting to bring this information to Pike?”
“That’s a pretty good point.” Leonard said. “I’ve been studying anatomy at the junior academy, and it would take a lot of effort to, you know, rip a guy in two.”
Kirk studied the ground for a moment. Looking up, he seemed resigned. “Fine. Let’s get back to Pike.”
The boys walked back to the hovercraft and boarded for the journey back to Spaceport. Once they were settled, Kirk spoke up. “Scotty?”
“Does the journey back to town take us by that old warehouse?”
“Why, yes it does!”
Spock was perplexed. “It most certainly does not.”
“It does the way I drive.”
“Then let’s go, Scotty! Might as well take a quick look, since we’ll be going right by it, anyway.”
Spock’s protests were drowned out by the roar of Queen’s hover-system, and faded as the craft sped away. The boys began their journey to the mysterious address. Little did they realize, however, that another craft pulled away from the opposite side of the street, falling in behind to follow them…
The boys parked the Queen a block away from the given address, hoping that, if someone was watching, they would not easily see them approach on foot. When the warehouse came into view, they could see that it was dilapidated. It had not seen a tenant in many years. Ancient signs littered the entrance: It had obviously been many places in its long, but no longer illustrious career. As they moved closer, a large rat eyed the party carefully, assessing if it could fend them off of its property. Thinking better of it, the vermin scurried away from the entrance.
Leonard noted the creature and said quietly, “What a lovely neighborhood. Remind me to move here when I decide to settle down.”
Montgomery added, “I hear the schools are very good.”
“Levity will not rectify the fact that we should not be here.”
“Be nice to me, Spock.” Leonard said, “I’m the one who voted against tying and gagging you.”
“Well, at least they left the building open,” Kirk said, looking at the broken lock on the ancient front door. He gave the door a firm push, and it opened; the old hinges wailed in protest as the inside of the building was revealed.
The structure was a huge empty cavern. Whatever uses this building had served, the instruments that provided them were removed long ago. The boys turned on flashlights, provided by Scotty from the trunk of the Queen. The eerie glow that shifted to blackness around the edges of the room did nothing to improve it’s frightening demeanor.
It did, however, reveal a single object in the very center of the room. It was fairly large and rectangular. The boys approached carefully, as many of the floorboards were rotted through, and occasionally one boy or another could feel the floor shift under their weight.
“This is exciting!” Said Montgomery.
“You always see the glass as half full, don’t you?” Asked Leonard.
Jim stepped over a particularly bad spot on the floor. “Careful, everyone, we don’t want to wind up at the bottom of this building. I don’t think Scotty has enough gauze in the Queen’s emergency kit.”
They surrounded the object carefully. It was some sort of a chest. If one believed old pirate stories, one might imagine a treasure chest would look just like this. An old-fashioned winch and pulley system was directly over it: A large hook, tied to a long length of heavy rope, on a rather large pulley attached to the main beam of the ceiling.
“Someone drag in Redbeard’s plunder?” Leonard asked.
“No!” Came a booming, alien voice from behind them. The boys turned with a start, hearts racing. “Someone has dragged in MY ‘plunder’! Thank you for leading me to it.”
A very large Klingon emerged from the blackness, Disruptor pistol in hand. He pointed it directly at the boys. “And now, you will all die…”
The Hole in the Plot
THE boys were caught by surprise. The massive being seemed to dwarf them in the darkness. Spock stepped forward.
“What is your name, sir?”
The Klingon looked at the boy quizzically. He was a little more used to people screaming in terror. “I am Kloroth, son of Klorox, and your fate is sealed!“
“I sincerely doubt that.” Spock said. If he feared the Klingon, his training in logic held his emotions at bay.
Kloroth was taken aback. By this time, his enemies were usually on the floor begging for mercy. “Wha – What do you mean?”
Spock was absolutely stoic. His eyes met the Kloroth’s gaze and did not falter. “You will not be firing your weapon at us; you are, essentially, unarmed.”
“What kind of baktag are you shoveling, whelp? I’m the one with the disruptor.”
“A disruptor that is completely discharged.”
“Really? How do you figure?”
“Simple logic. If your weapon was charged, it would have been much simpler to fire on Hector, rather than attacking him physically.”
“This is your logic? What kind of a Vulcan are you? Did you not stop to consider that I might simply enjoy tearing a man limb from limb?
“True, Klingons value battle as a badge of honor and a birthright. Also true, my hypothesis is based on very little evidence. However, it is also true that this discourse is no longer relevant.”
The Klingon laughed a mighty laugh. “Really. And why is that?”
“Because, Kloroth, honored son of Klorox, our conversation was a ruse, and you are now surrounded.” True to his word, the other boys had slowly moved to flanking positions, with Leonard and Montgomery on either side, and Jim moving behind the hulking alien.
Before Kloroth had time to react, the boys sprang into action! Like an opposing team tackling a quarterback, Jim went for Kloroth’s legs, as Leonard and Montgomery dove for his chest. Taken completely by surprise and knocked off balance, Kloroth toppled backward hard onto his back, the floorboards cracking and groaning menacingly under the weight of the group. The entire building shook as if from an earthquake.
Kloroth regained his composure, quickly, as he was a warrior, and a powerful one. Using both arms simultaneously, he flung Montgomery and Leonard through the air like rag dolls, each striking an opposing wall many feet away. Stunned, the boys were having a hard time regaining their footing. Kloroth then rose to his full height, lifting Jim up over his head as one would hold a small child. Jim braced for the worst, powerless to break free from the Klingon’s steel-like grip.
With a huge crack that sounded like a powerful gunshot, the floor beneath Kloroth gave way! Kloroth and Jim started to fall through the newly-formed hole into the uncertain depths below!
As the final cracking sound began, Spock quickly assessed the situation: The possible rate of travel of the falling pair, the distance from himself to them, the height of the hook above the chest, and the amount of rope attached through the pulley. Lastly, as he sprang into action, he also calculated his needed speed of travel. He took two running steps towards the chest, leapt onto it, then used the momentum to hurl himself backwards and up toward the hook, turning forward in mid-air like a trapeze artist, as he grabbed the metal object above. His weight pulled the rope freely through the pulley, and his arc of travel took him out and over the pair just as they started their rapid descent.
Jim saw Spock above them, and reached out to his friend. Spock held the hook with one hand and grabbed hold of Jim’s extended hand with the other. The three now started a free-fall into the abyss. The other two boys, having regained their composure, leapt for the quickly diminishing rope on the opposite side of the pulley, using their own body weight to try to slow the descent. Montgomery and Leonard were lifted off of their feet with a powerful jolt, as the combined weight of their friends and the Klingon was simply no match for the two youths.
Kloroth released his death-like grip on Jim, as he reached for an outcropping of broken floor to stop his fall. This gave the boys the opportunity to dig into the floor, saving Kirk and Spock from an unknown fate!
Fate, however, was less kind to Kloroth. There was a momentary smile, as his hands gained purchase on a part of the sub-flooring, a few feet below the main level. Kirk and Spock were hovering just above him, their own descent halted by the quick actions of their friends. As Kloroth reached out to the pair, another loud cracking sound shook the building; the Klingon’s tremendous girth was simply too much for the weakened structure. Kloroth disappeared into the darkness.
His voice echoed throughout the building as he fell: “I am Kloroth! Son of Klorox, son of Kotex, and you’ve not seen the –” A final, bone-crushing thud was the last the boys heard from the Klingon.
With all four chums back on a solid portion of the floor, they assessed the events that had just occurred.
“Spock,” Leonard exclaimed, “that was truly an amazing bit of gymnastics.”
Spock was not one for praise or applause, it was a tenet of his Vulcan training. “Simple mass and speed calculations, combined with basic geometry. All the more reason for young people to take higher mathematics, stay in school, and not use recreational drugs or alcohol.”
“Absolutely,” agreed Montgomery.
“I am grateful that you both were able to take hold of the rope. If you did not follow my impromptu plan, my ‘gymnastics’ would have been for naught.”
Jim was examining the chest in the center of the room. “Shall we see what Kloroth was willing to kill for?” The others gathered around closely, as he lifted the lid. The chest was old, but very beautiful; ornately carved wood with rather mysterious markings, but the outside was nothing compared to what lay within. The boys, even Spock, let out an appreciable gasp. Inside the chest, filling it to almost the very top, were thousands upon thousands of what appeared to be solid gold triangles. Each one was struck with the markings of the Klingon empire. A contrast to the weathered chest, they were new and flawless. The room took on golden hues and sparkles along the walls, as the light from their flashlights reflected off the brilliant gold surfaces.
Leonard whistled quietly. “Kloroth could have lived like a king. Or bought a kingdom of his own. What do you think, Jim?”
“I think our job here is finished. And I also think we’re going to need more than that block and tackle to get this thing out of here.”
“Even collectively we would be unable to move the chest very far.” Spock agreed.
“Don’t worry boys.” Montgomery smiled broadly, “I’ve got just the thing…”
The End of the Book
“WELL, you certainly came through in a clutch! When I heard about poor Hector over police transmissions, I had feared the worst.”
Kirk and Spock were back in Pike’s office. Montgomery had provided an anti-grav cart, making transportation of the chest a relatively simple matter. They stood around the prize, discussing the events of the evening.
“Kloroth was quite the customer,” Jim agreed, “I think I’m cured of wanting to go out and meet more alien races!”
“Don’t let Kloroth taint your opinion of other cultures. He’s the exception, not the rule. Kloroth was the very large client that I spoke of earlier. He enlisted me to help him find the treasure. Unfortunately, after I told him that Hector had information, he apparently took matters into his own hands. I suppose he was trying to cut myself and Hector out of a promised share: The finder’s fee, if you will.” Pike smiled and eyed the open chest. His finder’s fee had suddenly become much larger. “Greed is a terrible thing.” He looked over the great mass of Talons inside, and started a running list of all the things he would be buying off-world. “I didn’t fully believe the chest even existed. But boy,” He relished the words as they passed his lips; “here – it – is!”
“Indeed.” Spock said. “During the early part of this century, there was a war over territories in an uncharted region of the Klingon empire. This was the war chest of the losing party.”
Kirk continued the story, “Unfortunately, Kloroth’s father, who held a minor position in the victorious clan, stole the treasure, hoping that it would increase his status in the empire.”
“Did it work?” Pike asked. Amazingly, he was also simultaneously considering a sizable investment portfolio. And a beach house. And a beach.
“No, it simply got him killed.” Kirk answered.
Spock added, “It passed through various hands throughout the years, with many violent actions to moving it from party to party. His son had been searching for it all of his life.”
Vina would like a beach house. “And the trail stops right here. Amazing work! Where did you come across all of this information, by the way?”
Kirk beamed. “I have a friend in Star Fleet. He checked the markings we found with the Klingon historical database.”
“Very resourceful, Kirk.” He smiled. “Now I suppose I’ll have to see about getting it back to it’s rightful owners… Eventually.” His smile broadened.
“You do not need to trouble yourself with the effort. Jim and I have taken the liberty to make arrangements for the safe return of the chest to the Klingon home world.”
Suddenly, the investment portfolio ran off with the beach house, and both of them were laughing uncontrollably. “You what?”
Jim closed the lid of the chest. “Well, when my friend realized what we had stumbled across, he ran it up the chain of command.”
The blood drained out of Pike’s face. He suddenly spoke very quietly, as if he was a man who had just discovered untold wealth, only to lose it when his young assistants ran something up the Star Fleet chain of command: “You did?”
“Yes, sir!” Jim folded his arms triumphantly. “I knew you would be impressed if we followed this case to its conclusion.”
“Its logical conclusion,” added Spock.
Pike looked at the boys incredulously, what had he started, here? “Fascinating,” he said blankly.
There was an odd humming in the detective’s ears. The room was spinning; and not in that good, fifth of bourbon kind of way. “Hey! I’ll tell you what: Tomorrow I’ll just run it on over to the local Spaceport Federation office and drop it off. No need to trouble yourselves with the task.”
The hum became louder, and Pike realized that it wasn’t in his head; it was actually in the room. It was the all too familiar sound of a transporter being activated.
Kirk said, “Well, when the Klingon High Command heard we had found the chest, they asked that it get to them right away.”
Pike watched in horror as the Chest began to shimmer and lose form, hundreds of millions of Klingon Talons turning into billions of un-spendable atoms, to be reassembled somewhere he wasn’t, and would never be in his lifetime.
“Of course they did.” He said to the empty space where the treasure used to be. There would be drinking tonight. A lot of drinking.
“Well, then,” he sighed, resigned to his fate. “I guess this officially wraps up the case of The Klingon Treasure. You boys did quite well. In fact,” he closed his eyes, “far beyond anything I had ever imagined.”
“We had hoped to be an asset.” Spock said.
“Yes, me too.” Pike slumped back into the chair behind his desk. It was a good desk. Solid. He looked out at the boys. They were pretty solid, as well. after a moment of contemplation, he spoke again: “So, what are you gentleman doing next week after school ends for the summer?”
Jim’s face lit up like a light bulb. “Really?”
“Absolutely! You boys were instrumental in wrapping up this case, and I could use some help from time to time. You could check in with me periodically, and we’ll see what cases pop up.” Little did they know that a case was close at hand. Soon they would be exploring the fate of the Shuttle in the Cliff.
“And with that, gentleman, you must excuse me. I have an upcoming appointment.”
The boys began moving to the door. Spock stopped at the entry way. “One thing, sir.”
“I have noticed something. Vulcan hearing is often superior to that of humans. I believe that you have an intruder in your closet.”
As if on cue, a feminine giggle, that could now be heard with far less superior hearing, emanated from within the closet to the left of Pike’s desk.
“That gentleman, is not an intruder, but my upcoming appointment. Technically it was my earlier appointment, but you arrived a bit sooner than I expected.”
“I fail to understand why you would have a client wait in the closet.”
Jim grabbed his friend by the arm and pulled him through the door. He completely understood why Pike’s ‘client’ would be in hiding, even if he had not yet experienced such things, himself. “Thank you very much, Detective! We won’t let you down!”
“But Jim, it seems to me unreasonable to – ” His sentence ended abruptly when the office door slid closed behind them.