We are continuing the story LATINUM TOE, or The Spy Who Stunned Me, written by former USS Kelly member George Bogler. Our hero, James T Bondkirk, has checked in with his boss W, and is on his way to pick up the gadgets needed for his new mission from Q…
Bondkirk was not surprised to find Q still in his lab. The little scientist was impossible to dislodge when he was involved with a project. Q was an Expy, native to Expyselon VI. He stood about four feet high and wore no clothes. His species had a natural leathery skin that served as adequate protection. Natural pouches in the skin provided storage space. With their six long arms, Expys made excellent builders, mechanics, and so forth. Q was especially talented, allowing him to be transferred out of vehicle maintenance section into the support technologies section, and to quickly rise to the position of section Chief.
“Good morning, Kazitzilpic,” Bondkirk greeted the alien. Q’s real name, Qztxlbrxlyc as he claimed it was spelled in Federation Standard, was unpronounceable to humans – hence the nickname ‘Q’. James was one of the few who made an effort to pronounce the full version.
“Ah, nice try my friend James! Better than last time. Worse than three times ago.”Expys had eidetic memory. Q, for instance, could remember every tracing of every circuit board he had ever worked on. “Cricket match today?”
“No,” replied Bondkirk. “I need some of your inventions for a new mission.”
“Yes, yes. Just start gathering what you need. It’s all labeled. Be right with you.”
James knew that last statement had as much chance of coming true as a Vulcan doing stand up comedy.The Expy was wrapped up in his own little world, and there would be no disturbing him. In a couple of hours or a couple of days, Q would remember James had been there and he would go looking for the human. Then he would notice how much time had passed, shrug, and start another project. On the rare occasions when neither was working, they liked to get together for drinks or to see a cricket match. Q loved cricket. James selected several items from the shelves and left without bothering to say goodbye.
Bondkirk walked onto the casino floor. It was huge, the largest he had ever seen. There were tables and machines for every type of gambling game he could think of. There was even one corner of the room set aside for the Gamma Quadrant game known among humans as “Move Along Home”. There was a crowd gathered around this novelty as the required Wadi operator re-materialized three breathless, but healthy, live “game pieces” from the microdimension contained within the machine.
Despite his genteel upbringing, James preferred poker over any of the traditional “upper crust” games of chance such as Chermin d’ Fer or even alien diversions like Dabo or Tongo. Therefore he got a drink, found the poker tables, and picked one with several observers. His plan was to watch until he spotted someone cheating. It was bound to happen sooner or later. When it did, he would get into a game with that individual, expose the cheater, and make loud demands to see the manager. He could then drop some hints that assuming the manager were sufficiently bright, would filter their way up to Latinum Toe himself. the crime boss would have Bondkirk checked out, find the data on the persona created by the Agency, and that would be his foot in the door. Easy as glop on a stick.
It didn’t take him long to find his cheat. A human woman was dealing from the bottom of the deck. However, she she won and the game broke up before James could join it. He discretely followed the woman to the bar. “May I buy you a drink, Miss…”
“Why, certainly,” she replied without looking at him. Her accent was that of the southern United States region of Earth. James noticed that it was faked, but very well faked. “Champagne, and the name’s Delta. Delta Belle.” As she turned to face him, a hint of an expression crossed her face. “And your name, sir?”
“Bondkirk. James T Bondkirk”. The woman wooked somewhat familiar, but then he met so many women. “That was excellent poker playing. Woulod you care for another game?”
“Ah really don’t think so, Mr. Bondkirk. Ahm tired of this place and am plannin to leave tomorrah. I’d better pack mah things.”
“Then perhaps you would agree to have just one dance with me? Please?”
“Oh, very well. Perhaps just one.” She was getting nervous. Had he recognized her? She needed to know so she consented to go dancing. One dance led to several more. She was just being paranoid. Her disguise was good, and her accent nearly perfect. How could he have recognized her? She relaxed and let the conversation flow, waiting for a graceful chance to leave.
Bondkirk convinced the lady to keep dancing and managed to draw out the conversation. It was pure chance to find a card cheat so quickly. His plan would go so much smoother if he could use her instead of waiting to find another one. Also the sense of familiarity about her nagged at him. Finally he put it together. He leaned in close and whispered in her hear. “Come to my room, number 1026, in half an hour or I’ll make it known that you’re a professional card cheat known on Risa as Trivoy L. Pursuit.” Then he kissed her and walked away.
James went to his room and retrieved a PADD from his briefcase. He slaved that PADD into the room’s terminal and hacked effortlessly into the guest files. Trivoy, a.k.a. Delta Belle of Savannah, Georgia, was in room 9429. He downloaded her thumbprint scan into the PADD and dialed for a subspace frequency. The hotel computer verified his credit account and let him access an available frequency. Bondkirk sent the thumbprint scan off to HQ. It would be a few hours before they could tell him anything. Trivoy was obviously “in the business” and would have several layers of false identities. Nothing the experts at HQ couldn’t crack, though. Meanwhile, there was no reason why he couldn’t approach things in a civilized manner. He called room service and ordered a candleight dinner for two.