The grand opening of Bayport’s largest toy store ever has many excited as the date, just days before Chanukah begins and Thanksgiving, draws closer. And with the Hardys a mystery containing action and danger is sure to be in store. 😉 Yet something much more important than a toy store is on the hearts and minds of the Hardys’ loved ones. Fenton, Frank, and Joe are away on an extremely dangerous case and should things go wrong, and not be righted, would mean disaster for many.
Notes and Dedication:
Frank is married to his sweetheart, Joe is married to his sweetheart and both couples have three children each. Frank and Joe work with their dad (who is married to his sweetheart :D), having started the detective agency they’d always dreamed of, “Hardy and Sons” (The Tower Treasure/The Secret of the Caves).
Dedicated to my family, who loves me and helps me all the time – thank you – I love you! 🙂 Love to all of my friends! 🙂
And most of all to the Creator of not only the stars in the sky but the peace that everyone seeks and that is available to anyone. 🙂
by Ann ♥♪HB♪♥
Nestled among other tall buildings, with the afternoon sun bouncing off of it, was a top secret facility that was the focus of three Hardys. Behind the reflective glass windows a cutting-edge laboratory produced projects enemies of freedom would love to get their hands on. It operated under a conglomerate of private contractors for numerous companies and the US military.
Inside the lab was a particular scientist who would normally never compromise public safety and put the entire nation in jeopardy. Yet, with his family kidnapped and their lives threatened should he not cooperate, that was about to happen. Unless the situation changed.
In another building not far from there, the Hardys were continuing to do what they could to change the situation.
“Okay, you two be careful, understand?” Fenton Hardy ordered his sons. His handsome face was serious and his dark eyes full of concern.
“Aren’t we always?” asked Joe with an expression of complete innocence. At least that was what he tried for, but it was quickly replaced with a big grin.
“Pretty sure you know the answer to that question,” Frank said pointedly, looking at his year younger brother and arching a dark brow. He let out a laugh. “You look like a nerd, Joe.”
“I’ll take your word for it since you’re even more of an expert in that field than me.” Joe, wearing a white lab coat, adjusted his laminated ID and pocket protector. “I prefer thinking I look smart.”
“Yeah, keep thinking that,” Frank said, smiling. He also wore a lab coat and ID, plus dark-rimmed glasses.
Fenton smiled even as his eyes reluctantly strayed to his watch, his worry for his sons filling his thoughts. The previous phase of the case had gone well and that made him nervous everything wouldn’t continue to go smoothly. Already they’d had to make adjustments. It had to do with Fenton’s car getting rear-ended by a person not paying any attention on the interstate because that person had been busy deciding what movie to go to that night while surfing online while driving. Fenton subconsciously glared down at his sprained left arm, held in a sling, before resuming what he’d been saying.
“Let’s double check communication,” Fenton said as he went down his mental checklist. They proceeded to test the comms that Fenton and computer forensics expert Phil Cohen had designed and built. Part of its capabilities was courtesy of Fenton’s radio knowledge he had gained while serving in the Marines before he was with the NYPD. The comms operated on an undetectable, secure setting so they could talk to one another during the mission without the facility’s security ever picking up on it.
“Let’s do this!” Joe said enthusiastically and stretched out his hand, palm down. Fenton, Frank, and the others there helping them, who had just arrived, all reached out, each placing a hand over the person’s hand before them. “Together we stand or together we all fall right on our….”
“Joe, you really need to work on your pre-mission pep talk,” Frank interrupted, rolling his eyes but grinning.
Joe’s chuckle stayed with Fenton. Stay safe, boys, and please be careful….
Frank and Joe had no trouble entering the facility. Their IDs had been set up by the scientist’s co-worker who had first figured out something was wrong. He had made sure that they had all the clearance required for the job. When he had searched for who would have the skills and ability to help in such a dangerous situation, it was clear what crime-fighting team to hire. Namely, the successful and much in demand detective firm Fenton, Frank, and Joe had started, Hardy and Sons.*
While Frank proceeded to the floor where the scientist worked, Joe walked casually to where he was supposed to be stationed. They had arrived early enough to allow plenty of time for any problems that might arise and to get to their positions.
The brothers talked on their comms as they walked. Joe was to pretend he was talking on his phone in the cafeteria, and Frank would appear to be recording notes verbally whenever anyone got close enough to overhear.
Frank heard Joe mutter “yuck”. “What?”
“I’m on my way to a small table across the cafeteria and went by some lab techs talking. I didn’t want to stick around to hear the rest of the conversation, let’s just say that.”
“Thank you for just saying that,” Frank said, grinning. He could imagine a number of conversations that would evoke that response from his little brother.
“This is better,” Joe said as he sat down with a good view of the entire cafeteria. No one could sneak up on him, and he would be able to leave quickly when necessary.
As he talked with his brother, Joe looked over at the huge windows along the far side of the cafeteria, a nice touch to the design of the building. The sun had recently hidden behind some clouds. “Looks like it might rain or snow.”
“Hopefully it will hold off.”
Joe was about to comment when his blue eyes swung over, catching movement in his peripheral. Great. Despite his efforts to be inconspicuous, he was being zeroed in on by three intent looking scientists within minutes of sitting down. There were plenty of seats available in the cafeteria so that shouldn’t be what it was about. Unless they were obsessive about where they sat every day….
Whatever it was, Joe sensed trouble. “Uh, hang on a sec, I think I’m about to have a nerd attack,” he told Frank quietly as he took the phone away from his ear. He was glad that Frank was still going to be able to hear everything via the comms in case he needed backup to get out of there. And from the serious look on the three scientists’ faces, he wasn’t sure what to expect. Could they suspect he was there undercover? What had made them suspicious? At least they didn’t appear to have called security yet.
Frank was trying to guess what his brother meant and what was going on. He stopped walking and listened.
“Hi?” Joe’s greeting was more of a question when the scientists stopped and stared at him.
“Can we sit down and talk with you a minute?” The one scientist asked and immediately sat down in the vacant seat across from Joe while the other two pulled up chairs from a nearby table.
“Guess my answer isn’t exactly important, huh?” Joe asked, raising his eyebrows.
“Don’t irritate them, Joe, just see what they want,” Frank told him through their comms. “But try to get rid of them.”
“Hadn’t thought of that,” Joe muttered under his breath. His brother just barely caught his words and almost smiled despite being very focused on the situation.
“I couldn’t believe that we have someone so famous here today!” exclaimed one of the scientists.
The second scientist nodded enthusiastically. “They sure kept it a secret! I never even heard an inkling!” They stared at Joe expectantly.
Joe looked from one scientist to another. “It was only decided a couple of days ago for me to be here at this time.” He figured that was something he could say without saying too much or too little. Now to find out what in the world they were talking about. “It was so top secret I didn’t even have clearance to know about it. I should probably ask you how much you know.”
The three scientists laughed raucously. “Will you be speaking at some point?”
“I thought I was speaking right now,” Joe said, aware the reference was to the huge conference room the facility had.
Again Frank heard the scientists laugh. One said to the other two, “I heard what a great sense of humor he has!”
“Thanks,” Joe said, wondering how he was going to get rid of his little fan club. Plus, he had no idea why he had a fan club. Before he could say something else, they had a question for him.
“So how did you first learn you had this ability?” one asked.
Frank heard Joe clear his throat then say, “Well, I’d rather not say a whole lot right now, you understand.” Even on another floor, Frank could almost see the scientists nod, lean forward, and wait eagerly to hear what else Joe had to say. “But, erm, it was quite a surprise at first, took some adjusting, but…it’s very cool!” He looked seriously at the scientists. “How much do you already know?”
“That you can make water!” blurted one of the scientists then glanced around to see if anyone had overheard.
Frank wasn’t sure he had heard that correctly through the comm and waited to find out what his brother had to say.
“Well,” Joe said chuckling, “everyone can.”
The scientists all laughed and the one who’d last spoken said, “Yeah, but you know what I mean, like a superhero.” He held his hand out flat as if to shoot water from it.
“Right, well, you know water bills would dry up.” Joe raised an eyebrow.
The scientists loved that. “Can you turn into water?”
“No, even though a human is more than half water,” Joe stated. “Of course, I turn into a puddle when my girl bats her eyelashes at me.”
“Can we see an example of you shooting water?”
“They wouldn’t want me to right now. Besides, I really need to be going soon,” Joe said, looking at his watch. The scientists actually hadn’t been there very long at all….it just felt like it to Joe and Frank.
“Yeah, we do, too,” said the first scientist and stood up. While the other two moved away, he waited. Chuckling, without the other two hearing, he said, “I know you can’t shoot water. I made that up. I was just pranking those two and proving a theory of mine that some people, under the right circumstances, will believe anything. I thought the prank would include you, too, but you’re a cool customer and went right with it.”
“You shouldn’t take advantage of gullibility,” Joe told him. “But the funny thing is I can shoot water from my hand.” The scientist stared at Joe a moment, wondering at the sincere and honest look on Joe’s face then he narrowed his eyes and left.
“Did I mention the water would come from a water gun not my fingers?” Joe muttered to his brother.
Frank’s laughter came through crystal clear.
“Didn’t expect something like that!” Joe noted.
“Yet, amazingly, not surprising,” Frank said, still chuckling.
“You know what my love said to me last week?” Joe asked.
“What an adventure life is with me.”
“I think back when you asked her to marry you she said ‘are you crazy?’ And you knew the answer to her question was ‘yes’ and you thought that was her answer to your proposal,” Frank kidded.
“Ha, funny!” Joe returned. “But the truth of the matter is, Iola is very, very happy she married me. Very, very.” He grinned, thinking about that truth.
“Joe, shut up.”
“I’m not making it up! She told me!” Joe said with confidence. “Many times since we’ve been married!”
“And I’m telling you – shut up!” Frank paused from walking down the presently empty hallway. Everything was on schedule, but he thought he heard a commotion coming from an adjoining hallway a short distance away. “I’ve got to see what is going on up ahead. Hopefully nothing.”
“Good thing the scientist is such a stickler for doing everything like clockwork so it shouldn’t be anything to do with him. He’s still in his lab. At least he better be.”
“Yeah, but it could interfere with things, depending on what it is. Stand by.”
Joe waited impatiently to hear what was going on. Frank’s voice was heard several moments later. He quietly told Joe, “Looks like an accident. One that might lead to an altercation. Which we don’t have time for. Stand down whatever you hear.”
Joe clenched his jaw and waited, trying to catch any sound to let him know more.
He could hear Frank’s voice clearly while the other voices were muted but becoming discernible as his brother approached them.
“Hey, what happened?” Frank called out. Clattering and shuffling noises provided Joe with pieces of the puzzle to make a guess. A tray, with stuff on it? Considering this was a laboratory that made sense. He hoped whatever had spilled turned out to be non-toxic and/or just someone’s snack. They would soon find out; he really hoped it wasn’t something that would cause his brother to get sick.
A woman’s voice, sounding shaky, was heard. “I’m alright. Just clumsy.”
“I wouldn’t say clumsy. The floors must have been cleaned recently so it’s slippery in spots,” Frank was saying calmly. Joe recognized Frank’s tone. The woman was injured, but how badly wouldn’t be told in Frank’s voice. “Can I help?”
Another man’s voice was heard. “Is she okay?” He sounded shakier than the injured woman.
Yet one more man’s voice cut in. “It’s all his fault! He called to her and she turned to answer him, slipped and fell, dropping everything! And-“
Ignoring the one accusing the other and focusing on helping the injured woman, who had nodded at his offer of assistance, Frank’s voice was again heard. “Get me a first aid kit.” Joe correctly figured his brother was directing his order to the worried, shaky scientist. It would get him away from the scene for a minute and give him something useful to do.
Joe heard running feet and knew that the scientist would be back quickly with the kit. Good, Joe thought, glancing at his watch again. That was good news for the injured woman; it meant Frank felt like he could handle whatever injuries she had instead of needing an ambulance. It also meant it wouldn’t interfere with the timing of their mission. As long as the two male scientists didn’t start fighting. Joe had confidence in his brother’s calm approach to defuse the potentially volatile situation.
As soon as the scientist was back with the kit, Frank deftly took care of the woman’s injuries. She appreciated his kind way about him which helped ease the pain. Plus, although she enjoyed the attention from the other two male scientists, their fighting did get on her nerves at times so she was thankful he was also taking care of that. When the arguing started again, she wouldn’t even look at them.
“Knock it off,” Frank said with authority. He took a second to glance over and it was a very good thing he did. His dark eyes widened in surprise. Coming right toward his head was a fast-moving fist.
Joe heard a sound. “Frank?” His heart thudded in concern and he instinctively started heading toward the cafeteria exit to get to the floor where his brother was. “Frank?!?!“
*The Tower Treasure/The Secret of the Caves