“I’m pulling you off the case.”
Stacy looked at her mentor with disbelief. “You can’t do that Sgt. Hooker; I’m starting to make contacts there… ”
“We’re a team Stacy. You can’t keep playing rogue cop, putting yourself in dangerous situations.”
“These exotic dancers keep disappearing and we have to put a stop to it. The best way I thought was to go undercover.”
“But you didn’t think, Stacy. If you were thinking more clearly you wouldn’t have decided on your own to go on a risky undercover. I’ve known you since you were a young girl, your father bringing you in to the station house. It is my responsibility to keep you safe. You’re going to take a few days off - to think about this - and then we’ll give you another case on Monday.”
Stacy’s voice rose in volume. “It’s not your responsibility to be my nursemaid, Hooker. I’m a trained police officer with the LCPD. I can handle myself! Besides the motorcycle gang that hangs out at the cabaret may be connected to those art thefts you and Corrigan are investigating.”
Hooker’s blood started to boil. “There you go again with some wild - idea. Obviously these thefts are the work of some foreign terrorist group or rogue soldiers of fortune; they’re professionals, what with the knockout gas canisters, their blinding fog machine and the fact they move with - deft and utter - characteristics of - shadows.” He paused for a Shatneresque dramatic effect. Drawing out each word and accenting the last, he said, “They - may - even - be - - Ninjas.”
Sgt. Hooker started to calm down and put his hand on Stacy’s shoulder. “C’mon Stacy, relax. I’ve been in this cop game a long time, ever since I left that goofy-eared guy in Starfleet. You’re only 23; you haven’t even been a on the force for 2 years.”
Stacy got up, out her seat. “I can’t relax, Hooker. I was doing the right thing. I know it. But, I guess I’ll be back on Monday for what assignment you have for me.”
“Enjoy - your days off - Stacy. Go, relax and you’ll have a - different outlook - later.”
Stacy shook her head and walked out of the squad room without saying another word.
Her steel blue eyes stared straight ahead in determination even as her angelic feathered blonde hair bounced off the middle of her back. Hooker had ruined her chance of getting her job back at the Kitty Kat Klub but she didn’t think that he wrecked her cover. She wanted to go back and hook up with the motorcycle gang to see if they were behind the recent string of mysterious art thefts. She had heard them talk of Fog Place, possibly their next target. If she could crack this case, Hooker and the rest would think differently of her.
When Stacy arrived home she opened her ‘undercover closet’, which consisted of all the various clothes that the department had paid for her to use when on undercover assignments. The department hadn’t had anything to do with her choice of provacative styles however.
She decided on a black leather choke collar and a black patent midriff-baring tank top. She paired those with a wide, white, studded belt holding up tight stretch Levis which were tucked into white thigh-high leather boots.
She got on her personal motorcycle and made her way over to the Kitty Kat Klub, which was located along a dusty industrial highway on the outskirts of town. As she pulled in, six members (4 male, 2 female) of the Highway Pilots Motorcycle Club were just getting on their bikes.
Spike, the leader, recognized Stacy when she removed her helmet and tossed her blonde hair to fluff it out. “Hey, Lusty, I thought you quit this gig? I never figgered I’d see your pretty face an’ all around here again.”
Lusty had been Stacy’s stage name. “I’m done with that dancing crap, doesn’t pay enough,” she said with a smile, “but I missed you guys. Where you riding today?”
“After we take care of some business, we’re going out to cruise the canyon.”
“Can I come along?” Stacy asked, grinning, shifting her weight from one leg to the other, causing a very distracting movement of her backside.
The bikers eyed each warily. Spike gave Stacy a long stare, then stated “You haf’ta wait outside while we take care of that business, you understand. We don’t like no one nosing in our affairs, even someone with as purty a... nose... as you do.”
“I’m cool with that,” Stacy shrugged as she put her sunglasses and helmet back on.
The group rode about 5 miles out on the highway before taking a turn on to a one lane, impeccably maintained, tree-lined road. After 5 minutes along that road they came upon a long row of tall hedges on the left. They stopped outside a large iron gate with the words “Fog Place” filigreed over the entrance in rich gold. Spike dismounted, got out his phone, and made a call. Stacy could only hear his side of the brief conversation.
- - -
“What we picking up?”
- - -
- - -
“Alright; meet ya out here.”
Spike flipped his phone closed, took off his shades and looked at Stacy. “Sorry, darlin’ but we haf'ta go take care of something. We’ll have to run that canyon another time.”
Stacy nodded, as Spike and the others waited uneasily for her to leave. Should I hide out and follow them? went her thinking. Or just do as he said and try again on another day? Either way, she couldn’t stay here any longer; they might get suspicious.
As she started her bike, the gate opened and a large yellow Bentley sedan rolled out. Stacy noticed an older man wearing a monocle driving. He gave her an angry stare and she decided to high tail out of there. With a little wave to the bikers, she skidded the back tire around and sped off down the long access road. After a couple of minutes, she looked behind her and not seeing anyone coming from the mansion, pulled off to the side of the road.
Stacy walked her bike into a thicket of bushes and was finishing hiding it from view as she heard the growl of engines coming behind her. Crouching down, she staked out the scene. The Bentley, flanked by six riders on Harleys, sped by. After a half-minute Stacy peeked out and, seeing the coast was again clear, extracted her bike, then rode quickly back towards Fog Place.
She arrived quietly, having turned off the engine some distance away and coasting in. Looking around, she moved her bike into the hedges on the opposite side of the road from the gate. She quickly crossed the road and deftly climbed up the gate, easily hoisting herself over and dropped down into the loose dirt on the other side. No security cameras that she could detect. There was a long tree lined road and she made her way up the road, ducking in and out from behind the trees. Finally she came upon a large estate in the middle of a huge expanse of meticulously maintained lawn. She detected no movement on the grounds. Making her way stealthily around to the back, avoiding the large circular driveway in front, Stacy found a shed she was able to climb up on to reach one of the second-story windows in the mansion.
Stacy was able to pry the window open with a tool she had hidden in her boot. Deftly she pulled herself up on the windowsill and, with the grace of a gymnast, was able to quietly and quickly jump to the floor inside. Closing the window silently behind her, she found herself in the formal dining room. She held herself still as a statue, held her breath, and listened for any noises. She had hoped that this Fog, whoever he was, was the only one who lived here; since she knew that he’d left in the Bentley, she would be able to snoop around for a while. Sometimes, police work is just plain common sense, she told herself.
After waiting another minute, she slowly tip-toed out of the dining room and found a hallway. She looked into some of the rooms off the hall, not really knowing what she was looking for, but when she saw an office she figured that was a good place to start.
There was a large fireplace behind a large oak desk. The room was decorated in sort of a modern-medieval, with statues of knights in armor in each corner of the room, ornate tapestries on the walls, and a thick oriental rug that occupied most of the floor. She decided she would go through the drawers and see if she could find out anything about Fog. As she went to open the top drawer, she noticed a small button hidden underneath the lip of the desk. Of course, Stacy pushed the button. How else can I detect things? she told her own doubting conscience. She heard a humming noise behind her; she turned and looked as the fireplace started to move. It must have been on tracks as it moved sideways into a hidden slot in the wall. Behind the fake fireplace was an alcove leading to a stone staircase that went down into the shadows.
Stacy swallowed hard, remembering her earlier conversation with Hooker. Should she turn back now and tell Hooker what she knew? Then she’d really face his wrath. Maybe it would better to get more information before coming forward. And actually she didn’t know for sure what was going on or if there even was really anything of interest. With that thought she trudged ahead, down the dark stairway. After probing only 3 steps around the corner, she came upon a larger room with spotlights on the ceiling shining down onto table-height glass cases like those that would be found in a jewelry store.
As Stacy’s weight shifted on the step from the stairs leading to the room, the threshold depressed into the floor. This triggered a heavy door that fell down from the ceiling with a resounding thud, trapping her in the jewel room. Stacy breathed hard for a minute, not knowing what to do. Finally she decided to worry about the door later and find out what was in those cases. As she walked over to the first case, she didn’t realize she had crossed a beam of light that triggered a silent internal alarm system. She looked into the case. There was a placard on top and written on it was “Lady Easterly’s Jeweled Easter Eggs”. Stacy recalled that was the first Item stolen in the string of robberies. Stacy had hit the jackpot. As she made her way over to the second case, labeled as containing “Lord Desmond’s Diamonds”, she at first didn’t notice the curling fog of green gas coming out of the floor.
But she did soon enough as it quickly enveloped her and she breathed some in, causing her to cough. She stood up straight, above the rising gas, and tried to look for its source. But when she went to turn her head, she found she couldn’t move it. Nor could she lift her arms or take a step away. Oh my God, what’s happening, she thought. What kind of gas is that? “I can’t move,” she wanted to cry out but she couldn’t. She couldn’t move a voluntary muscle in her body. Her mouth was frozen half-open in a gasp of surprise.
She was as still as a statue.
Minutes later she could see the gas dissipating, though her body remained utterly rigid. She could sense movement in the room. Suddenly two women came into her fixed view. One was older and very distinguished looking. The other was Prudence, a younger girl she recognized from the Klub. She often hung out with the bikers but hadn’t been there today with the gang.
“And what do we have here?” the older lady said.
“I know her; this girl’s a dancer at the Kitty Kat Klub,” Prudence said. “Or at least she was. I heard she quit yesterday.”
”Did you tell her anything about Fog Place?”
“I didn’t, Mother; I’m certain of that. I can’t believe anyone else did either, although that jerk Riley has a big mouth. What are we going to do with her?”
“We’ll have to let your father decide her fate, but in the meantime, let’s get her down to the dungeon before the paralyzing gas wears off.”
Stacy felt her stiffened body tilt sideways as the two surprisingly strong women lifted her between them and exited the room. Instead of going back up to the office, they continued down the dark winding stone stairway. The came upon a great, high-ceilinged room, whose only illumination was by torchlight.
Stacy was carried over to an archway that had chains bolted in the stone, hanging down, with shackles at the ends. She was stood straight up, where she stayed woodenly as her wrists were lifted up and firmly clamped to the chains. She still could not so much as lift a finger on her own.
“There,” the older lady said, “that will keep her secure until your father gets home. Now I wonder who she really is.”
With that, the women left.
“Paralyzing gas,” Stacy thought. “What the hell is up with that? Well at least they said it would wear off. Now to come up with a good story for when Fog senior returns.”
Continued in Part Two…