The Keeper of the Artifacts!

By Lorraine J. Anderson

Pete looked at Artie incredulously. "You want us to go after a prop? I thought we just went after artifacts that had been in normal use."

"Not always," Myka said. She looked at Artie. "You just haven't gone down the right aisle. There's some amazing things out there." She gestured toward the main floor and smiled.

"I still like Marilyn Monroe's hairbrush," Pete smiled at Myka. "That was fun."

She stuck out her tongue at him.

"What?" Artie said. "When did you use Marilyn Monroe's…" He shook his head and stared at them. They looked back at him innocently. "This prop is also an artifact."

"So, you mean that Charlton Heston's Moses staff…?" Pete said.

"Actually splits water. Yes."

"Cool!" Claudia smiled. "I wanna use it in the next rainstorm."

"No." Artie told her.

"But, Artie," Claudia whined.

"No."

"How?" Myka said, as Claudia pouted.

"Well, normally, the artifact is imbued with the psychic impressions of the user. But, while Charlton Heston was an amazing actor, even he didn't believe a staff he used could part the Red Sea."

"So how…?" Myka said.

"Millions of people have seen the movie and believed, even momentarily, that the staff actually worked. That belief has transferred to the staff."

"So it actually works." Pete said.

"So it actually works," Artie confirmed.

"So we're going to need a garbage bag sized containment bag."

"No," Artie frowned. "Weren't you paying attention?"

"No?" Pete said.

"No, Charlton Heston's staff is already in the archives," Artie frowned at Pete.

Myka punched Pete's arm and smiled. "I already knew that. I just didn't read the tag."

"You did not know it was in the Warehouse."

"She so did," Claudia put it. "We inventoried that last week."

Pete turned to Artie. "So why did you bring it up? Especially since Myka already knew about it?"

"Focus, Pete," Myka said.

"I have an auction for you to attend."

Pete looked crestfallen. "An auction? I thought we were going after the phaser. Besides, I thought you were assigning those to Claudia and Jinks." He looked around. "Where is Jinks, by the way?"

"He got the flu you said you had last week during inventory. Only he actually got it." Artie rolled his eyes. "And there is more than one kind of auction in this country. It's a Star Trek Auction. At a convention." He looked at Pete. "What's with you today?"

"I think the comic book he was waiting for came in," Claudia said.

"Not yet, Claud." Pete's eyes lit up. "Really? A Star Trek convention? Cool."

"Um," Myka said. "I thought that was last year at Christies?"

"No, it's a science fiction convention that happens to have a Trek auction." Artie turned to Myka. "You know about the Christies auction?" he said. "You're a Trek fan?"

"No!" Myka said. "No. I just heard…"

"Actually," Pete said, "I might have mentioned it once or twice."

"Or a dozen times," smiled Claudia. "Actually, I thought it was pretty cool, too."

Pete was almost vibrating with excitement. "So, when do we leave?"

"Wait a minute," Myka said. "It's a Star Trek prop?"

"Yeah. Lt. D'Amato's phaser," Artie said, looking at the computer. "At least that's what the auction says."

"I thought they used the same props for different people."

Artie shrugged. "Advertising. Actually, I don't know why they don't just advertise it as Kirk's phaser." He looked at his paperwork. "As long as you're there, you might as well look for another artifact." He looked up. "Sometimes we get information about things that are about to change into artifacts, and this report suggests that it's—" He looked a little disgusted. "Attached to a cling-on."

"That would be a Klingon, an alien race on Star Trek," Pete said.

"Sounds disgusting."

"No," Claudia said. "Actually, they're pretty cool. They're a warrior race, see, which does things for the sake of honor…"

"Hush," Artie said. "I don't want to hear about it."

Myka looked thoughtful. "If this phaser is an actual working model…" She stopped for a second. "So why aren't some of the other props real? How about the light sabers from Star Wars? Darth Vader's cloak? The Millennium Falcon?" She stopped at the look on Artie's face.

Artie chewed his lip. "There is a light saber in the collection. Killed one of your predecessors. Cut her in half."

"Oh," Pete said.

They were silent for a second. "Do we have the skateboard from 'Back to the Future'?" Pete said.

Myka punched him.

"What?"

#

"These – don't look like Trekkies," Myka said, sotto voce.

Pete shushed her. "They like to be called 'Trekkers.'"

"What's the difference?"

"It implies a sort of geekdom some of them would rather not…" He was distracted by a woman in a Trek mini-skirt.

Myka grinned. "You were saying?"

"You know, Artie never did say what happened to the Millennium Falcon."

Myka shrugged. "Probably…" She stopped and narrowed her eyes. "Someone's listening to us."

A dark-haired man casually walked away.

"Him?" Pete said.

"Yes."

"Well, maybe he's a Star Wars fan," Pete said, looking the man up and down. "He looks – sorta nerdy. A librarian type."

"A lot of people here look sort of nerdy." Myka nudged Pete. "They're heading into the hall. Remember, we only have a limited budget."

#

Flynn Carsen thought about the last thing Charlene had said when he went out the door of the Library. "Remember, if you can," she said pleadingly, looking up from her desk. "We only have a limited budget."

"But – " he said. "It's a phaser! It might be Captain Kirk's phaser. And it's a Trek convention," he added.

"I don't care if it's Moses' undershirt," she said. "The budget is particularly tight this month."

"We have Moses' under…" he stopped at Charlene's glare. "What would Judsen say about it?"

"Judsen is taking a much deserved vacation," she sniffed.

"In the Library?"

"It's what he enjoys." She shuffled some papers. "Anyway, we've had strict instructions not to interrupt him for the next two days."

"Okay."

"So don't get in any trouble."

Flynn grinned. "At a Star Trek convention?" He headed out the door.

Now that he was here, though, he looked around. Actually, there were plenty of ways he could get in trouble at a Star Trek Convention. For example, the couple near the auction room hall door didn't exactly jibe with this crowd.

On the other hand, they could be security for the con.

On the third hand, didn't convention security usually dress up as Storm Troopers or something?

Could be investors.

Irregardless. The auction doors opened, and he picked a seat towards the back. He looked around. Most people looked like tourists in a big city, but he didn't think most tourists wear T-shirts proclaiming "I heart Alderaan" or "Dendarii Mercenaries." He grinned. He'll have to find some of these shirts before he left. Maybe find one for Judson. What kind? "Older 'n' dirt?"

He imagined Judson blinking at him, deadpan, and grinned again.

The couple stationed themselves at the end of the row he picked. They were making covert glances at him.

Hmmm.

He looked at the program that had been handed to him. It was a charity auction, and the charity of the day was the American Red Cross. Apparently, the phaser was donated by the family of a collector, and had provenance. Looking around again, he was surprised that he didn't see some other collectors besides the local fans. Weren't there a few reality show people that went for things like this? On the other hand, maybe phasers were so common that this particular one wasn't special.

But it was. For some reason he didn't understand – and he wasn't sure how Judson knew this – the phaser had become somehow real. Or had, at least, taken the properties of the fictional show.

It was a geek dream.

He shook his head. No, the ultimate geek dream would be a working holodeck, and Judsen hadn't mentioned that.

He sat back and perused the offerings. He'd been a good boy, maybe he could buy something personally, like a TOS uniform robe he saw in the dealer's room…

#

Myka looked at the offerings in the catalog, then looked at the items lining the walls. "You mean, people actually buy this stuff?"

Pete was looking at the catalog. "Huh?"

Myka poked him. "People buy this stuff?"

"Of course."

"Why would anyone want Scott Bakula's under shorts?"

Pete snorted. "Well, I wouldn't, personally, but it mentions that these particular under shorts were worn when he was guesting on the comedy 'Murphy Brown' – so that actually makes it a costume." He glanced at the picture. "So to speak."

"Well, I supposed he is kind of good looking," Myka said.

"Personally, I'm more of a Seven of Nine fan, but…"

"You would be."

Pete grinned at her. "Do I detect a little…"

He stopped as the host of the auction stepped up to the microphone. He looked like he was a bit sweaty and pale. "Welcome to the third annual Star Journeys charity auction." He waited for the applause to die down. "However, I have some bad news. The authenticated phaser, worn by Lieutenant D'Amato in 'That Which Survives', was stolen this morning." He held up his hand to the general murmuring. "The police are already investigating. We are asking that if anybody has any knowledge of who might have been hanging around the exhibit room might come forward and talk to police."

Pete and Myka looked at each other. As one, they got up and moved to the side doors. Myka noted that the nerd did, as well. "Hmm." Pete said.

"What?"
"That guy's going, too." He pointed, then looked at the catalog. "But we're going to miss all these other cool things!"

Myka shot him a dirty look and started pulling at him.

"However," Pete heard as they left. "We still have a lot of great items, so I encourage you to spend a lot for a great charity!"

Pete tugged back on Myka's sleeve. "Are you sure you can't handle this by yourself?"

She looked disgusted at him. She pushed him out the door.

They moved into the hall, along with some obviously disappointed fans. "Where do you suppose the head of this circus is?" Myka said.

Pete shushed her. "That," said a man in a steampunk costume, "would be me." He looked sourly at her. "And who are you?"

"Federal agents. Secret Service," Myka said, flashing her badge.

The man grinned at her. "No, who are you, really? That's not really a great 'Men in Black' costume."

She handed the ID and badge to him. "Does that look fake?"

"Um…" He examined it closely. "I've seen some good fakes." He looked at it again. "But that looks real." He peered at their badges. "You have a paid membership, but why would the Secret Service be here?"

"We have reason to believe that there may be some illegal merchandising here," Myka said seriously.

The man looked blank.

"Fake props," Pete said helpfully.

"Oh, no," he said. "Everything here has been checked and double-checked for provenance."

"I see," Myka said wisely. "But your phaser came up missing."

He looked devastated. "Which is odd. It was on display last night. Security never reported a disturbance. He said the phaser was then double-locked in the hotel safe, and when they opened it up, it was gone. It's like it disappeared in thin air."

The other man came up to the group. "Pardon me, but I couldn't help but hear your conversation." He stuck his hand out. "I'm in a collection field. I had also planned to bid on the phaser."

Myka looked at him coldly. "Pardon me, this is a Secret Service investigation."

The man nodded. "And I can help." He stuck his hand out again. "I'm Flynn Carsen. I'm somewhat of an expert in collections management." He sighed. "And, like I said I was also going to bid on this phaser."

Myka gave him a suspicious look, but Pete stuck out his hand. "Pete Lattimer. This is my partner, Myka Bering."

"And my real name is John Sanders, financial analyst," the steampunk man said. "I would appreciate all of the help I could get." He looked troubled. "This is devastating."

"So," Flynn said. "Where do we start?"

Myka raised her eyebrows. "You," she said, "don't get in our way."

Flynn smiled. "And you don't get in my way." He looked affable, but Pete sensed a bit of steel in that comment.

Pete raised his eyebrows. "Myka, wouldn't it be better to ally with Mr. Carsen?"

Myka pulled him back from the two other men. "Pete, it's too dangerous."

"Only if someone handles it wrong. I got the impression from Artie that it worked like a real phaser – which means it'll only go off if someone pulls the trigger."

"Or someone sets it to overload."

Pete grinned. "I thought you never watched the show."

Myka looked away. "I may have seen one or two episodes."

Flynn was grinning as he came up. "You realize I can hear you."

Myka looked non-plussed. "We believe there's something attached to the prop that may hurt people."

Flynn nodded – too willingly, Pete thought. "Of course. Why else would the Secret Service be involved?"

It was Pete's turn to narrow his eyes. Was this guy for real? Even he was picking a strange vibe from this guy. Myka was right, he needed watching. But what better place to keep watch of him unless he was working with them?

He had to work on Myka. But out of earshot.

#

Flynn grinned to himself, then sobered. How much did these two goofballs know? From what he overheard – which was not much, he had to admit, although he had caught a few pertinent words hear and there – they believed that there was something more than the explosive device they were admitting.

But did they know the true nature of the phaser?

Why had Judsen sent him after something so contemporary, anyway? Usually, he went after historical and religious artifacts. His last quest – for the robe of Aaron, Moses' brother, had ended oddly, with his opponent being consumed by holy fire after he had donned it.

It reminded him about the Ark of the Covenant, which he had specific orders not to touch. When he asked Judsen about how the Library had obtained it, however, Judsen turned serious and had clammed up. Not that Judsen was the picture of jocularity, but his frown had deepened, and he thought he had muttered something about "damned Indiana." Which had made no sense. What had the state of Indiana to do with an Ark?

He suddenly realized that he was looking at them, smiling slightly, like an idiot. "Well," he said. "Where shall we start?"

"No," Myka said.

"Yes," Pete said.

"No," Myka said.

"Yes," Pete started, but was interrupted by a buzzing noise.

"What's that?" Flynn said, as Myka's eyes went wide.

"That's…"

"…. Our cell phone," Pete finished. "It's an advanced model. Government issue." He pulled a hard-shelled case, about the size of an e-reader, out of his pocket and opened it up.

"Cool," Flynn said, impressed.

The head of the convention walked over to see the instrument. "Totally cool," he said. "I need one of these for my outfit."

"There were only a limited number made," Myka said archly.

"What's going on there," said a grizzled looking man at the other end. "Who are all of these people? What are they doing looking at the…"

"Artie," Pete said, and Artie continued to mutter, only under his breath, "This here is Flynn Carsen, and the other one in the outfit is John Sanders. They wanted to see our experimental cell phone."

"I… see." Artie said, peering at Flynn. "Flynn Carsen. Flynn Carsen…" A look of interest came on his face. "Do you happen to know a man named Judsen?"

Flynn suddenly felt cautious. "My boss is named Judsen."

"Sort of an accountant looking type of guy?"

"Yes."

"Flynn will be working with us," Pete said.

"No, he won't," Myka said.

"Yes, he will," Artie said.

"Artie!" Myka said.

"I have the official right to overrule you every once in a while," and I'm invoking that right now.

#

Pete grinned.

"So," Flynn said. "You know Judsen."

"Reputation only. I talked to him once or twice," Artie said. "I wouldn't mind meeting him in person some day."

"I don't think he ever leaves…"

"… the Library. So I've heard."

Pete blinked. Was this mysterious Library part of the Warehouse system?

Flynn looked non-plussed. "But who are you?"

Artie barked a laugh. "Just a government worker," he said. "But I met one of your predecessors once."

"Really?" Flynn smiled.

"It was not a pleasant experience."

"Really," Flynn's face dropped.

"So – work with my agents, but don't mess with them." He looked stern. "Or there will be consequences."

"Yes, sir." Flynn said.

"Good."

"So – I take it there's a problem with the – phaser."

Pete was suddenly reminded as to why they were there. "Yeah. It was stolen."

Artie sighed. "I figured that when you had half of the convention surround the Farns —cell phone."

"Any ideas?"

Claudia suddenly popped into view. Artie swatted at her. "Well, it's possible it was stolen by a clueless collector, so I'll keep an eye on e-bay and the social sites."

Artie pushed her out of the way. "I'll look through my sources and see what pops up." He looked at Flynn. "What about you?"

Flynn blinked. "Judsen is on vacation."

Artie stared at him. "I hadn't heard that Judsen ever went on vacation."

"Neither had I. But I'll ask Charlene."

Artie grinned suddenly. "Charlene is still there? Mention me to her – Artie Nielson. Then stand back."

Flynn stared at him.

#

Pete closed the "cell phone." Flynn loved the looks of it, but frankly, he doubted that it was some ordinary cell phone. It had all the hallmarks of an artifact. And, of course, he knew the story about the explosives was a sham.

"I suppose I should call Charlene," he said to the other two. "Don't do anything without me." He stepped out of the hall into a courtyard to get a better reception.

Charlene answered the phone after one ring. "Don't tell me," she said. "You spent too much."

"The phaser was stolen."

Silence. "That thing is dangerous. We can't let that get out into the general population."

"I've made a couple of new friends who are going to help me."

"As I said…"

"Their boss's name is Artie Nielson. He said that you would know him."

Flynn held the phone away from his ear as Charlene – well, Charlene swore like a sailor. As she paused for breath, he gingerly put the phone back to his ear. "So – he's not trustworthy?"

She sounded like she was panting slightly. "Oh, yes, he's trustworthy," she said reluctantly. "He does know what he's doing. I understood that he was working for the government, which would explain your agents."

"He thought I should consult with Judsen."

Silence. "I wouldn't dare bother Judsen right now, but he's due back tonight. I'll bring it up."

"Any thoughts?"

She sniffed. "At a science fiction convention? I wouldn't be caught dead."

"Oh, c'mon, Charlene," he said. "You work in the Library!."

"The difference is," she said, "is that everything here is real. Don't spend any money." There was an audible click at the other end.

Flynn looked at the phone. "I like you too, Charlene." He moved back into the now crowded hallway.

The pair stared at him. "Trouble?" Pete said.

"Charlene does know Artie," Flynn said, "in the most colorful terms."

Pete grinned. "That's our Artie."

"So – what do we do now?"

Pete looked around. The vast majority of the convention goers looked relatively normal. The crowd flowing back and forth looked like any normal convention. Well, maybe a little more casual and with strange-looking t-shirts, and maybe a bit more overweight than the norm, but…

… then he saw the Klingons. He pointed. "Cool."

Myka looked. "Freaky. Why would anybody want to dress up like that?"

Pete smiled. "You work in the…" He glanced at Flynn. "Secret Service, and you need to ask that?"

"Point taken," Myka said. She looked again at the Klingons. "Pete, you remember the other thing we're supposed to keep watch for?"

"Yeah," he said. "Something around the Klingons."

The Klingons were growling and pushing their way down the hallway, with most people grinning at them. When they accidentally caused one person to spill all of his books, one of them stopped to help him pick them up. Myka gestured to Sanders, who had wandered off to peer through the doors at the auction. "Those – are security?"

"Yeah." He said. "Hey, Jason!" One of the Klingons turned. "Come over here."

"Yeah?" Jason said. He glanced at the three surround him.

"Did you hear that the phaser was stolen?"

"No shit?" Jason said. "No. I hadn't."

Pete looked at Myka, who had raised her eyebrows. "You have a valuable prop stolen, and security hasn't heard about it?"

Jason bristled. "We," he said, "weren't guarding this. We're mostly for out-of-control parties and stuff like that. We had hired real security for this."

"But," Sanders said, "didn't he dress up like you?"

"Yeah, actually, he did," Jason said. "He said he wanted to get into the part, so I loaned him a costume." He looked slightly annoyed. "One of the pieces on the costume was from TNG, so I need to find him to get it back."

The three looked at each other. "You let him," Myka said, "wear a real prop?"

"Yeah. I figured he was real security, so he was honest…" He looked closely at the three. "Oh, no. You don't think he stole…"

"It's possible," Myka said, then she laid a hand on his arm. "We'll try to retrieve your property. We believe he may be under the influence of something and is not acting like himself."

"You think," Pete said in an undertone, "that this pin is the other…"

"Yes," she said. "He may be under the influence of two artifacts."

"But," Pete said. "Jason's owned it and it didn't affect him."

Myka spread her hands. "What makes a common item an artifact? I don't know what tipped it over from being a decoration to an artifact. All I know is that it seems to be one now."

"Damn," Flynn said. Pete looked at him.

"But what would it make him do?"

"He probably thinks he's a Klingon," Flynn said.

Pete blinked. "How did you…" He hesitated. "You're right. He probably thinks he's a Klingon."

Myka motioned Sanders over. "We may need to shut down the convention and the hotel."

Sanders stared at them. "You can't!" he said, suddenly looking worried. "Even if we cancel the convention, most of these people are staying here in the hotel. People come in from all over the US, and they have no other place to go."

"I would suggest that the convention keep going," Flynn said, "while we search for our elusive Klingon."

"It might help if you guys take your makeup off," Myka said to Jason.

"Then people would know that there's something going on," Jason said. "But I have a suggestion. This hotel has a flower shop, right?"

"Right."

"All of my guys will wear white carnations. If your guy is under the influence of some drugs," Pete thought it was interesting how the guy took the leap, "then he wouldn't wear a flower, would he?"

Flynn smiled. "Wouldn't it tarnish your image?"

Jason thumped his broad chest. "Real Klingons can wear flowers." He grinned. "We'll just tell everybody that they're Aldebaran slime flowers."

Pete laughed.

#

He wasn't laughing later as they sat down later in the bar. "My feet hurt." He said.

"I think we've seen every geek on the East coast," Myka said.

"Oh, no," Pete said. "They're ton of conventions around. There are only a few thousand people here."

She looked up, red in her cheeks. "You must be kidding."

"You've heard of ComicCon?"

"Sort of."

"Then you don't want to know how many people are at that convention." He looked up at Flynn, who was smiling. "You've been to one, haven't you?"

"Yeah, I had a lead there once," Flynn said. "Got it and took it back to the… " He closed his mouth.

"Library, right?" Myka said. "I called Artie and asked about it when I was in the bathroom."

"Yeah. The Library." He looked at her. "And you work where?"

"The Secret Service." Myka said decisively.

"Right."

"Look," Pete said. "This guy has either gotten out into the real world…."

"In which case, I think Claudia would have called us," Myka said.

"Hmm," Pete said. "Or he's hiding in a room, biding his time."

"Or…?"

"He's still going to show."

Flynn looked at Pete. "Somehow I thought I was going to hear something more profound."

Myka smiled slightly. "That's as good as it gets."

"We've been in the dealer's room, we've peered into every panel, we've walked the halls until our feet are falling off…"

"I've seen a lot more than I've wanted to see of a Sci-Fi convention…" Myka interrupted.

Flynn grabbed out his schedule. "Wait a minute."

"What?"

"The Masquerade is tonight."

Myka looked at him. "Yeah? So?"

"A lot of people in costume." Myka looked blank, Pete looked interested.

"A lot of people in costume," he said. "It could be that he was hiding because everybody looked too normal."

"Or too human," Flynn said. "Maybe he didn't see the security forces."

"But…"

"The Masquerade is going to feature a lot of people, including Klingons, Starfleet, and many fantasy sorts of creatures."

"But he thinks he's a Klingon."

"Maybe, lacking a working communicator, he thinks that he can find one there."

"Then why didn't he go through the dealer's room?"

"Would you trust a human selling a Klingon communicator?" Pete said. "Don't answer that."

"So, we wait for the Masquerade?" Myka said. "But aren't we putting a whole lot of people at risk of being incinerated?"

"I don't think so," Myka said. "He might consider it beneath his honor to kill civilians."

Pete looked at her. "You said that you never watched Star Trek."

"I've seen a few," she said, turning red.

"So," Flynn said. "We wait until tonight?"

Pete looked like he was thunderstruck. "What?" Myka said suspiciously.

"Who is our guy going to trust?"

"Other Klingons." Myka said, automatically. "Oh, no, Pete, we can't put civilians in harm's way like that. And those security guys are civilians, you know."

He grinned. "That wasn't what I had in mind." He caught the eye of a carnation wearing Klingon walking by. "Dude! Take me to your leader!"

Flynn grinned. "I've always wanted to say that."

#

"This is damned uncomfortable," Myka groused. She looked down at her chest. "And I'm feeling very exposed." She pulled at the low cut spot of the dress, then glared at Pete in the mirror.

Pete looked down at her. She placed her hands over her breasts. "Hey!"

"I've already seen them, remember?"

Flynn raised his bushy eyebrows, pushed his wig's long hair back, and got up off of the hotel room's bed. "Long story," the two of them said together.

Flynn looked at the pair. The security team, surprising enough, did a great job on the makeup. Gone was the "Men in Black" look, and in their place was a creditable looking trio of Klingons. At their side were a couple of pistols that they had on underneath their suit coats. "Those look a little steampunky. Shouldn't you…"

"No," Myka said shortly.

Pete looked at him. "You look awesome, dude."

"Thanks. He glanced in a mirror. "So do you guys." He hesitated. "Hey, can I have…" He looked down at the pistols.

"No." Myka said.

Their "cell phone" buzzed. Myka opened it. "Yeah, Artie."

"What in the name of Farnsworth do you have on your head?!" Artie shouted.

Flynn looked over Myka's shoulder, and Pete looked over her other shoulder. The girl, Claudia, looked over Artie's as Artie dropped his head in his hands. "Totally cool!"

"Don't tell me you spent money for this… foolishness."

"Artie," Myka said. "It's all borrowed."

Except for the boots, Flynn thought, then smiled. Charlene would have a cow.

"Okay, then, why are you dressed like that?"

"Well, we figured that since the guy thinks that he's a Klingon because of the pin…"

"You need to dress as Klingons to get him." He sighed, noisily. "I guess there's a certain type of logic to that." He hesitated. "It was Pete's idea, right?"

"Yeah."

"Well," Artie said. "Whatever you do, don't anybody touch that pin." He shrugged. "The phaser should be ok, as long as you don't shoot it."

"Aw, Artie," Pete said. "You do care."

"No, I just don't want somebody who has actually shot people and knows law enforcement to think that he or she is a Klingon."

"Touching," Pete said.

"How're we supposed to get the pin," Flynn said, "if we can't actually touch them?"

Myka handed him a pair of gloves. "Use these. Artifacts can't affect you then."

Sanders walked into the room and Myka shut the phone decisively. "We're going to set you either side of the stage, so you'll be facing the audience." Sanders paused. "You're certain that no one will get hurt?"

"We will try our best."

He didn't look reassured. "Then let's go."

He led them down the hall. Every few steps, somebody stopped them to take pictures. Flynn grinned at Pete, and they took fierce poses. Myka stood stonily, which, Flynn considered, worked just as well.

Finally, they reached the Hunt ballroom, which, Flynn considered, was appropriate, considering. He looked out into the audience. They were all types, from the high concept costumes to casual dress. He saw no other Klingons; they had abandoned their costumes for the evening at the recommendation of Pete.

The ballroom filled quickly with happy people. He grinned, then realized that a grinning Klingon could be rather strange and settled his face.

The masquerade started, and Flynn looked with interest. He had watched some of the shows, but he certainly wasn't familiar with fantasy – not modern fantasy, that was. After all, he sparred regularly with the sword Excalibur – he wondered how Pete and Myka would react if they heard that Excalibur was a real magical object that regularly pursued him into the bowels of the Library….

#

Pete glanced over at Flynn. Flynn seemed to be taking his stint as Klingon in stride. Hum. He called himself a librarian, yet he didn't seem to be disconcerted by the phaser, and Pete didn't believe a minute that Flynn thought it was loaded with explosives.

He wondered how Flynn would react if he knew that one of their earliest artifacts they retrieved was the legendary Excalibur. Probably would be jealous.

He then wondered how a civilian got involved in retrieving artifacts. And he worked for a library? What the hell kind of library was that?

He glanced at Myka. He knew where Myka was coming from – the less that common citizens got involved, the better. But Flynn had an air about him. Oh, he was no Secret Service man, that was certain, but he did seem like he had seen danger.

Maybe he was a modern day Indiana Jones.

Pete chuckled to himself. No, those kinds of artifacts were in Warehouse 1 through 12. Although, when Pete asked once about the Ark of the Covenant, Artie got this look on his face, muttered something about a Judsen, and turned away. Normally, Pete would have pursued the problem, but with that reaction – no.

Maybe he should ask Flynn. Didn't Flynn say he worked for a Judsen?

He looked out into the audience. They did look like they were having fun. Well, truth to tell, he was, too. If it weren't so dangerous – well, he liked it anyway, even if he didn't get to tell people what he did. Including his Mom.

His Mom would never understand this. She was an Elementary school teacher, for Pete's sake.

He brought his mind back to the job and scanned the auditorium. In spite of the crowd, none of the other con-goers were dressed as Klingons. Well, the makeup was rather intense. He still rather preferred the old series Klingons.

Oh.

Damn.

He just about slapped his forehead.

He needed to get to Myka.

They shouldn't be looking for a Klingon with a bumpy forehead, they should be looking for a human who thought he was a Klingon.

Myka was guarding the middle of the stage. With his eyes to the crowd, he sidled to her. Myka gave him a warning glance.

"We're looking for a human."

Myka blinked at him.

"The old series Klingons looked just like humans. This guy who thinks he's a Klingon probably realized that he was wearing makeup and was dressed as a human, to blend in."

She glanced at him, startled, then swore under her breath. She looked at Flynn, who glanced at her, curiously, then at a man who had came up to him and seemed to be whispering.

"Damn."

#

"loDnI'. We need to get out of here."

Flynn looked at him. "What?" He then noticed the man's face. He was deadly serious, and he had the oddest look on his face. Almost like he was afraid and fierce at the same time.

He blinked. "I need to guard this stage." The man brushed open his coat. Underneath, Flynn could see the phaser – and the Klingon Insignia. This was him! "Brother, today is not a good day to die."

He looked fiercely at Flynn. "But before we go, we can slaughter many of these… humans… for the glory of the Empire."

"There is no glory in slaughtering innocents." He grabbed the man's tunic and tore off the pin. Too late, he remembered the gloves.

His world changed.

#

"He grabbed the pin!" Myka yelled, then ran over towards Flynn.

Immediately, Flynn looked grimly at Myka, then looked at the confused looking man in front of him. He pushed the petaQ to the ground, grabbed the phaser, and then pointed it at Myka and Pete. "No humans are going to capture me," he growled. He pointed the phaser at the audience, and the confused security officer backed off.

Myka stopped. "Flynn."

"My name is not Flynn," he shouted.

The audience grinned at him.

"I demand passage back to Qo'noS!"

"And we have it," Myka soothed. "But you're going to have to put down the phaser."

"Never!" Flynn shouted. He lunged forward and grabbed the headdress off of Myka's head.

"Ouch!" she yelled.

"You're all humans!" he screamed.

"And so are you!" Myka yelled.

"NO!" he yelled, and he ran to the one of the doors.

The door opened. Flynn ran out, then Myka saw him fly backwards into the ballroom. A small man with sunglasses leaned over him and grabbed the pin from Flynn's hand.

"Don't touch that!" Myka yelled.

"This?" said the man mildly. "Oh. Um. It doesn't seem to be affecting me," and he held it out to Myka.

"Judsen?" Flynn said, looking up.

Myka grabbed the pin with a glove, pulled out a bag, then ducked away. Pete grabbed the phaser from Flynn and did the same. The light exploded out of the bags.

The audience applauded.

Myka looked startled and turned towards the audience. Pete grinned, then bowed. He lent a hand to Flynn, who did much the same. Judsen also grinned, then moved out into the hall.

As they left, they saw the MC move to the microphone, after a consultation with the Sanders. "That," he said shakily, "was our pre-show! Give them another round of applause!" He looked offstage, and Pete could see some people behind the curtains. "I think our judges should give them a special award for that show, don't you?"

The audience applauded.

The door closed. A few convention goers hurried down the hall and into the room. Another man said "Hey! Down here! Can we get your pictures? Klingons! Man in Black!"

"I think that's you, Judsen," Flynn grinned.

"We all need to debrief," Myka said.

"I think…" Judsen said, hesitating, "that we can afford to give these good people some pictures."

"Judsen," Flynn said, after they left the photo area. "I didn't know you could leave the library."

"Well… now you know." Judsen said. "Did you think I lived in the library?"

"Well…"

"That would be ridiculous. How could I live… in the Library?"

"Well, sort of like Artie living at the Warehouse," Pete said.

"Artie Gordon?" Judsen looked started. "Oh, no, of course not. Artie Nielson. I remember him. Good man."

"Charlene doesn't care for him."

Judsen looked deadpan. "No. She wouldn't." He looked at them. "Long story."

"Can you tell it?" Pete said.

"No." Judsen said shortly. "Needless to say…" He looked around. "No. You need to ask Artie.

"Aw," Pete said. "Artie won't tell us anything!"

"Neither will Charlene," Flynn mused. "Well, we need to get the phaser out of circulation." He reached out his hand.

Judsen laid a hand on his arm. "I think," he said. "We can afford to let the Warehouse have this one."

"Warehouse? They work at a Warehouse? For the Government? You have to be kidding."

"Hey," Myka said. "That's a Warehouse with a capitol 'W'!"

"Did you think," Judsen said. "That the Library could hold everything?"

"Well," Flynn said. "There is the large items annex."

"It's big – but there are more artifacts than you know."

Flynn blinked at Judsen.

Myka and Pete looked at Flynn, then at Judsen.

"Well," Judsen said, deadpan, "At least you have job security."

"Thanks," Pete said.

"You're… welcome," Judsen said.

"How'd you get down here so fast, anyway?" Flynn said.

"I have my methods." He ducked into an empty room, and the three of them followed. "I'm ready, Charlene," he said into a phone.

He smiled as he sparkled and disappeared.

Flynn's mouth opened.

"I want that artifact," Pete said. "I really want that artifact."

Myka blinked. "So do I."

"And I rode a bus up here?" Flynn said.

Pete clapped him on the shoulder. "We should keep in touch," he said. "I think we have a lot in common…" The two men exited the room.

Myka shook her head and followed. "Ohmigod, I'm going to have two of them…" she muttered.

"I heard that!" Flynn said.