Pavel Chekov had been following the Exalted Dizchard closely, staying well back from the Ambassador to avoid being seen. He looked at his chronometer; it was time to check in. He pulled out his communicator and flipped the cover up. "Uhura, this is Chekov, do you read?" he whispered loudly.
"Yes, Chekov. I can hear you loud and clear. Report."
"The Ambassador is now in the Golden Gate Bay Hotel lobby. He appears to be waiting for someone. Tell Sulu and Bridges that the transmitter is vorking very well. As soon as he talks to someone I'll report back. Chekov out."
Chekov peered out from behind his hiding place, a lush, exotic Venusian palm, and saw two men approach Dizchard. He heard the babble of hotel lobby noises through the transmitter, but then he heard the Ambassador speaking to the two men."
"Captain Kirk and Ambassador Sarek are extremely disturbed and angry about the kidnapping. It's my duty to report to you that they hold us responsible for doing nothing to prevent it. Captain Kirk, particularly, feels very strongly about our self-serving irresponsibility. It is my hope that his feelings will not influence Ambassador Sarek."
Chekov saw Dizchard rub his jaw and then winced at the loud protests from the other delegates. Dizchard held up his hand for silence. "He feels that such behavior on our part was not only self-serving and irresponsible, but selfish in the extreme. That we put innocent people's life at risk without compunction." Dizchard's voice lowered, "I believe he feels we are not good candidates for admission because we didn't warn Star Fleet about the dissidents."
Chekov recoiled and pulled the transmitter out of his sensitive ear. The delegates were all shouting at the same time and he was having a hard time sorting the responses. The universal translator could not render Orion epithets quickly enough and there were blanks in the transmission.
Dizchard's voice boomed above all the rest. "Silence! We are in a public place," he said sternly. "Let us go to our rooms and discuss this more privately."
The group moved off to the lift and Chekov followed quickly. He looked at the digital display as the lift went up; floor nine. He caught the next lift and went up to the ninth floor and walked slowly down the corridor until he heard the transmitted voices clearly. His tricorder showed Orion life forms in room 917. Chekov leaned casually against the wall and listened to the voices. He sincerely hoped he wouldn't have to explain his presence to anyone. Chekov was not certain what he would say….perhaps he was waiting for his girlfriend. Yes, that was it; a beautiful girlfriend. He began to invent his imaginary girlfriend with enthusiasm; black hair, brown eyes, big…, he straightened, suddenly alert and listened.
"Captain Kirk appears to have considerable influence on the Ambassador," Dizchard was saying. "If he feels so strongly about our lack of responsibility, perhaps our chances for admission have diminished."
"Then we must tell them about…."
"No! Not yet!" Dizchard's voice boomed. "We still have time to change our minds. For now, we will continue with our plan as it is. It is too dangerous to tamper with it now."
Chekov cursed long and fluently in Russian. The Keptin will be most unhappy," he thought. "These men talk a lot but do not say vat ve need to hear." He sighed deeply and prepared himself for a long wait. Sulu would relieve him in one hour, forty minutes. He sighed again, and moved the receiver to his other ear.
At the apartment, Lieutenant Sulu and Ensign Bridges were in deep conversation with Uhura. With the help of the Enterprise computer and Federation records, Uhura had managed to track down the current address of Cedar Adams and was trying to find her. The apartment address was in the Los Angeles Basin area, but so far there had been no answer to her calls.
"Marie, what if you go talk with her? She's probably still at work. The personal touch is always better in the long run," Uhura said thoughtfully. "We can beam you aboard to the Enterprise then Scotty will get the coördinates and beam you directly to her apartment. Face to face you could probably get more information about this man Tarz then I could from here. Marie, ask her where he lives now, if he's moved out, where he worked, his leisure activities, where they went on dates, favorite restaurants, shows, concerts, anything. If you can get her to come back with you, it would be even better, especially if we have to negotiate with these people."
McCoy, coming in, nodded in agreement. "Good idea, Uhura. All hostage case studies from the 20th century forward, show that captives and their kidnapper seem to develop a relationship of sorts. Introducing a personal note has been known to help in conducting negotiations for the release of hostages. Of course, I had to go back a ways to come up with these findings, back to the 20th and 21st century archives. We haven't had many kidnappings or terrorism in the last hundred years, not on Earth, at any rate. But I'm sure the findings will still hold true," McCoy reflected somewhat glumly. "People don't change all that much, I'm afraid."
Uhura's board beeped and she went to answer it. "Yes, sir. No, sir. I'm very sorry, but he's asleep. I'll have Dr. McCoy speak with you if you'd like." She rolled her eyes. "Yes, sir, I'll have Captain Kirk call you as soon as he wakes up."
She turned to the three pair of watching eyes, and grinned. "Admiral Nogura wants to speak to Captain Kirk and get a progress report on the situation. I didn't think we should wake him up just for that." She looked inquiringly at the doctor. "And I don't think the Admiral is too happy with me, right now," she added mischievously.
"Too damn bad," McCoy grunted. "You did the right thing, Uhura. I said a four-hour nap, and that's what he gets. Sometimes people forget Jim is human too," He grumbled. "He forgets it too; worst patient in Star Fleet and probably all the Federation." He smiled, "However, I did get him to sleep and I also got Sarek to lie down and get some rest. I told him that Vulcans are not indestructible and reminded him of his heart surgery, and he bowed to the logic of what I was sayin'." McCoy grinned proudly. "He sure is more reasonable than Spock, I'll say that for him. At least he's not trying to out Vulcan the Vulcans." "Dammit,"he exclaimed suddenly. "I'd give anything to have that pointy eared Vulcan hobgoblin here now arguing with me."
"So would we all, Doctor McCoy," Sulu said somberly. He looked at the lovely face of Marie Bridges. "You better get started, Marie."
"Uhura, let's get it set up with Scotty. The quicker she goes, the quicker we'll get the information."
"Marie, report back as soon as you can and bring Cedar Adams back with you if it's at all possible. Good luck; we're counting on you." Uhura gave her a quick hug.
Marie looked at the faces of her new friends. She would do all she could for Captain Kirk. These people were already dear to her. She nodded to Uhura.
Uhura talked quietly to Scotty, and they watched as Marie disappeared. The silence after she left, was deafening.
"Well, I'd better go relieve Pavel at the hotel. Maybe our luck will turn and we'll get a break. See you later," Sulu said.
He went off to catch a hover cab. Transporting in and out of places attracted too much attention especially in hotel lobbies.
At the hotel, Sulu took the lift to the ninth floor and looked for Pavel and room 917. Chekov's last report had been uneventful and he had sounded bored. Sulu sauntered slowly through the corridor and spotted Chekov leaning casually against the wall. Sulu saw that his eyes looked glazed.
"How's it going, Pavel?" he whispered softly.
"Nothing yet, Sulu. Diplomats talk and argue a lot, but they nothing at all. The Ambassador wants to speak to the Keptain again. They are afraid Keptin Kirk will influence Sarek's voice. They don't know Vulcans well do they," Chekov snorted derisively, "if they think that!"
"Why don't you got get something to eat," Sulu suggested. "I'll take over for a couple of hours."
Chekov suddenly came to attention and raised his hand for quiet. "They are arguing," he whispered. "Wait. Dizchard is going to leave. I will eat later, Sulu, we have to follow the Ambassador where ever he goes. Quick, he's coming out, we must hide."
They both scurried around the corridor. Just in time too, for the door opened and Dizchard came out, his long strides carrying him purposefully to the lift. He stepped in and they watched as it descended to the first floor lobby.
"Pavel, quick, let's go before we lose him." Sulu punched frantically at the buttons to summon another lift. It seemed to take forever to arrive and then Chekov cocked his head to listen to the transmitter.
"He's still in the lobby, Sulu. He's calling for an air cab."
They threw themselves headlong into the lift as it arrived and it finally deposited them on the ground floor. They bolted out into the lobby to see Dizchard waiting at the entrance of the hotel for a cab.
"Damn, damn, damn, Captain Kirk will eat us alive if we lose him, Pavel!" Sulu stopped so suddenly that Chekov slammed into him. "We'll have to take the next air cab. Don't let him see us, Pavel. I wonder where he's going? Hell, there he goes now! He's getting into the cab, quick flag the next one!" Sulu waved frantically at the cabs.
Chekov leaped in front of an air cab, and if it had not been for the lightning reflexes of the driver, Captain Kirk would have been minus one Ensign Navigator.
The air cab driver, pale as death at Chekov's narrow escape, cursed at them in an unknown language, but at Sulu's frantic, "follow that cab," his eyes took on a feral glee. The driver was a native from a planet where hunting was not just a way of life, but a religion as well. On Earth, he had discovered that there was not much used for The Chase and Hunt skills of his race, and he had also realized that driving an air cab, while financially lucrative, was also excruciatingly boring. Every night he sat in front of his god-image and begged and pleaded for a chance to hunt. Of what use was it, he asked his gods, to have money when life had no excitement, no pleasures, and no calls to the Hunt. Now, the hunting gods had apparently answered his pleas, for here was an unsought opportunity to display his prowess. The driver looked inward, thanked his gods fervently, and implemented his Hunt and Chase mode.
Chekov and Sulu settled backing the cab. "Don't let him see us," Sulu cautioned the driver. The driver clicked his tongue twice and barely glanced at his passengers. "I will be an invisible wind at his back, his scent will not escape me, nor his tracks be lost to me."
Sulu and Chekov looked at each other. "Vat does he mean, Sulu?" whispered Chekov, alarmed.
"Don't know, Pavel," gasped Sulu as the driver suddenly accelerated and threw them both back against the seat. They hung on desperately as their speed increased and Chekov, looking out at the blur of buildings and pedestrians below them, began muttering prayers in Russian.
Marie Bridges materialized in front of the door of Cedar Adam's apartment. She looked around, but thankfully no one had seen her. It was a quiet complex, small too, probably no more than thirty apartments, modest looking and probably fifty or sixty years old. No one appeared in the hallway as she waited. Probably still at work, she thought. She was a little apprehensive about this interview, but she was determined to do her best to get as much information from Cedar Adams as she could for Captain Kirk.
Although she had only known the Enterprise crew for only a short time, in a vicarious way, she already shared with them their fierce devotion for their captain. There was just something about that man that inspired fierce loyalty in his crew. She, too, wanted to do all in her power to get those innocent people back with their families. Though she didn't know any of the hostages, she felt a sense of kinship and determination with the crew that they would find a way to rescue them.
She heard footsteps on the stoop and the outside door opened. A young woman came into the hallway. Marie saw that she was small and very slender, with wispy golden hair that hung loose around a fine boned face. Her lips and cheeks were innocent of cosmetics. Her skin had a pale translucent quality to it like a pearl, and her nose tilted up as did her eyebrows, which gave her a slightly fey appearance. She looked at Marie with huge smoke grey eyes that held a question in them.
"May I help you? Would you be looking for someone?" Her voice was soft and lilting, as if she were going to sing at any moment. It was the lilt of Ireland or Wales that was in her speech, inherited from an ancestor and probably not too far back.
"Yes, I'm looking for Cedar Adams." Marie smiled her sweetest smile at her.
"I'm Cedar Adams. What would you be wanting with me?" She looked at Marie puzzled.
"I'm here to speak with you about a friend of yours, an Orion named Tarz. My name is Ensign Marie Bridges, Star Fleet. May we talk privately?"
Cedar looked neither surprised nor alarmed at this information. Her large eyes sought Marie's and she smiled. "Come in, I'll be making us some tea. We can talk while we drink it."
Marie nodded relieved. Half the battle was over. Contact and conversation with the girl. She was sure that a little time and further conversation would do the rest. She followed Cedar Adams into her apartment.