Allow me to introduce myself; My friend calls me Dr Watson to his Sherlock Holmes; you probably realise those are not our real names. My friend's name, as he is from Droma, would take the rest of this book and mine is irrelevant. Holmes' receptionist he calls Mrs Hudson.
Holmes is an avid reader of detective novels and especially fond of Sherlock Holmes stories. You will find our office at 221b Baker Street, New London, situated on the planet Elysium. The town was named this because the sea fogs alongside the river reminded an expatriate Englishman of London and the street name is because my friend decided to call it Baker street, there is no 219 or 223 on the road beside the home that he built.
Holmes, of course, is a master of disguises though preferring the classic deerstalker, plaid suit, Inverness cape and favouring a Mearshom pipe which he is fond of waving around unlit.
To introduce Mrs Hudson, picture a giant hermit crab equipped with hands alongside her claws. Her shell, which takes up most of her office is a delicate blue. While she speaks adequate GalBasic, her actual name is unpronounceable, and she is an immigrant from a remote system, her shell is also her spaceship and home in company with her husbands who rarely show themselves.
Because most of the residents of New London are 'fly-in, fly-out' contract workers with few families, Holmes had to supply his own Baker Street Irregulars, sending mobiles in the form of street urchins or layabouts. This practice caused a few puzzles for authorities as perhaps children should be at school and the itinerants to be working.
For those curious about myself, I am just an ordinary human retired from a career as Ship's surgeon and now lodging with Holmes.
One morning I was having my breakfast while Holmes perused the local paper.
As he started to read the positions vacant, he remarked, "There is that advertisement for a blue-haired man again."
I looked up as Holmes rarely comments unless it interests him, "Indeed?"
"A little spare on details except for a phone number," Holmes said, "As not much is happening, I believe I should apply."
Matching his appearance to the advertisement, he changed into a typical Blue Oxzen, Holmes dialled the number and when asked, "My name is Serxz, would you like me to come over for an interview."
Then giving his address as one of the Oxzen warehouses, He added, " I am on my way I will see you shortly."
"Curiosity may be satisfied," Holmes said as he ended the call, "I will go to the address and seek a clue."
With that, he gathered some gear and walked out to the address given. This venue proved to be a local hotel where a man was waiting in the foyer.
"If you leave your details, I will get back to you if you are suitable for the job, I am Mr Smith," He said.
Holmes wrote out his name, the address he had provided and a number not connected with the agency.
After a couple of days, a message 'Thank you for applying; we have filled the position' arrived.
"Still curious," Holmes commented, "Perhaps I will put my irregulars to work and see who the lucky man is and what they have him doing."
With that, small figures ran out and scurried in different directions.
Holmes settled in to wait, after a while, he said, "Ah, we have a clue, the man is Frainxz, he is sitting in the hotel cafe writing."
"He seems to be copying a book," He said, "A tedious task."
"Perhaps we should visit Mr Frainxz at his home to ask a few questions," Holmes suggested.
Noting that he arrived home at 4 pm, we made our way there and knocked on the door. An Oxzen opened the door and asked, "May I help you?"
"Mr Frainxz? I am Holmes, my associate Dr Watson; I admit to some curiosity as to the position that you hold with Mr Smith," Holmes said.
"I can't help you with much information. The job is translating a book on Tuesdays," Frainxz admitted, "Since he pays well for the job and one condition is not to ask questions. This requirement is puzzling. However, I am not complaining since I am a 'resting' actor. Unfortunately, I finish up after this Tuesday, they have given me theatre tickets to my favourite show the following weekend. Smith has paid me to the end of the month; it is no great loss."
"Interesting, thank you for your time," Holmes said as he was leaving.
Once away from the street, Holmes said, "This has my curiosity aroused. To revise what we do have; a blue Oxzen selected at random, set to work one day a week, that day being Tuesday. I believe if we investigate this area, we may find a few pieces to fit the puzzle."
We strolled around the area surreptitiously observing the surrounding buildings. As we did, another aspect of Holmes was consulting the town plans at the office, matching these against the addresses and occupants. An easy job to him to split himself to perform all these tasks which would have required his namesake to visit several venues and taking some little time.
"I believe a call to my good friend Inspector Schultz and inquire as to the valuables contained at these premises," Holmes said.
After meditating for a time, he announced, "It seems that the wholesale Jewellery warehouse has a valuable consignment in their safe."
"According to the floor plan, the vault is adjacent to the house next door to Frainxz. Another coincidence is that the employees have an excursion day on Tuesdays," Holmes said, "I believe if we were to have a word with the manager in the morning he might appreciate the news, as would Inspector Schultz."
I asked, "What is your assessment as to the scenario?"
"If I were to be building a tunnel and the only day when everyone, except our friend Frainxz, is elsewhere is a Tuesday," Holmes suggested, "While the excavation is in progress there is probably some noise and activity involved. Once completed, the final entry can be done, perhaps Saturday night with all asleep allowing the gang to make their escape."
We adjourned, after briefing Inspector Schultz and making an appointment for the morning.
At the appointed time, we were waiting as the Inspector arrived then together walked in and spoke to the manager.
"Good morning gentlemen, how may I help you?" Mr Braun asked.
"I believe that there may be an attempt to penetrate your vault shortly," Holmes said.
"Really, what gives you that idea?" Mr Braun asked.
"There is an adjacent building which is very close to your strong room. Most of the residents are usually absent on working days except one; this individual has recently gained employment for that day," Holmes advised, "Adding the proximity of your business and the fact that you have an item of considerable value stored in your safe."
"As far as I know, the only knowledge of these circumstances is restricted to those directly involved with the movement, the insurance company and senior police. The fact about the consignment I have no worries it was passed on to you," Mr Braun said, "If there has been a leak it must have happened weeks ago before now. Mining is not my forte but since I noticed the advertisement myself a few weeks ago and the floor is not breached as yet."
"Would it be possible to evacuate the goods?" Schultz asked.
"I am afraid not. This facility is the most secure safe available; the consignment is due to be loaded on a ship in two weeks," Braun advised, "Can you raid the suspect house?"
"Unfortunately, we are operating on a mere suspicion which would not show probable cause," Schultz advised, "Once we confirm the excavation, we can then set the warrants in motion."
"I can provide a few watchmen within the vault as my mobiles are independent of most comfort needs," Holmes offered, "I can be in contact 24 hours a day and alert the police if a breakthrough is imminent."
"I would be most appreciative of that help," Braun accepted, "When would you be able to do so?"
"Within minutes, " Holmes said, "I can have several customers arrive and leave. Each would leave a small part to provide the necessary sentinel."
As he said this, several new customers entered. Then they were escorted into an interview room and soon left satisfied. Once this parade had finished, another Holmes came out of that room; then the manager escorted him to the vault.
"Now that is done we wait," The original Holmes said then bidding farewell returned to the office.
Tuesday arrived, and Holmes said, "Ah there is a move afoot. There is a vibration below the floor; I suspect near completion of the tunnel."
"I will ring the Inspector to stand by the suspect house," I suggested.
"Unnecessary, I believe that they will reduce the floor to be ready for the final effort on a selected night," Holmes said, "My outside observer has seen a van which I believe moves the spoil. The tradesman van is not suitable to transport jewels with the light-fingered crew who would have to blend in with the evening traffic."
I nodded, then Holmes added, "Ah, they have stopped; by my calculation, the remaining thickness is about what could be removed in a few minutes and still allow foot traffic without collapsing."
"I will now advise the Inspector that Saturday night would be the most likely entry into the strong room," Holmes added, "Of course, we should have a team standing by if they decide to bring the heist forward."
Holmes picked up the phone and brought Schultz up to date.
With no further incidents leading up to Saturday, we all waited patiently for a breakthrough which came via the outside observer, "There is a limousine parking outside of the subject house; now we ring Schultz to bring his men up ready."
He then rang the Inspector, "I believe they are moving into position."
"We now proceed to the area and wait," Holmes said.
We did as he suggested and as the police arrived, Holmes greeted them, "They are just about to breakthrough. They have done so, and my man is hidden. I think that we now have a reasonable cause to enter the house and conduct inquiries."
The team proceeded to the door, and Holmes reached out and tried the door, "Locked?" There was a snap, and he announced, "Perhaps it wasn't a good lock. After you, gentlemen."
With no resistance, the police moved in and made their way to the cellar where that found one man, "Good evening sir, perhaps you could answer a few questions," Schultz said.
"How did you get in, this is private property, get out," The man blustered.
"Perhaps, first a question, where does that passageway lead?" Schultz asked.
"Nowhere, only extending my wine cellar," The man answered, "Get out unless you have a warrant."
"Of course, here is your copy, I believe that the passage is just a little too big, perhaps we should take a look to see where it goes," Schultz suggested, "Constable Grein will keep company so that you aren't lonely."
The named officer made it clear that he should remain quiet as the rest of the team moved down the shaft.
They arrived at the end of the tunnel, where there was a ladder leading upwards. Another man was waiting who just stood there with a stunned look on his face as the first constable pointed his gun at him. As the constable had his finger to his lips and elaborately released the safety of his weapon, the sentry received the message that any sudden move would be risky.
"They are coming down now, I will alert when the last has left," Holmes said, "There are three with backpacks the last is now descending."
As each man stepped away from the ladder, he was taken into custody and escorted away. As the last arrived, Schultz greeted him, "Good evening, Tony; it has been a while. Just got out, did you?"
"How did you find me? We spent a lot of time setting this up," Tony said.
"Good evening Mr Smith, you probably don't remember me? I am Sherlock Holmes, I was using the name Serxz," Holmes said, "It was a good scheme, but you stirred more than a little curiosity."
"Tony Dalgliesh, you are under arrest for the unlawful entry of a locked building," Schultz said, ending the situation.
When we had returned home, I asked, "This ends the case?"
"Indeed, I can leave the matter with the good Inspector," Holmes said as he relaxed.
Inspector Schultz rang one morning and asked, "Herman, here, could you help me with a small problem?"
"But of course my dear inspector, please provide as much detail as you have," Holmes said.
"I have had a query from the port; there is a ship missing," Schultz said, "When the pilots returned there was an empty slot instead of their ship. No witness has come forward, and no ships have arrived or left. In case they had forgotten where they had parked; they thoroughly searched the entire port."
"While the data is scant, this adds to the challenge," Holmes accepted.
I reversed our vehicle out, and we proceeded to the port; arriving at the gate, The security waved us through as Inspector Schultz had authorised our entry.
"Drive slowly through the parking lines; I will observe," Holmes said.
"This is the assigned park for the absent ship," Holmes pointed at a gap between two ships, "I will have a word with the crew of those two once we complete the tour."
As we drove around, I compared the parked ships with the photo of the missing vessel, and there were no matches as the picture depicted a radically different design. Referring to the specifications, Holmes commented, "By the look of these, we are looking for a rather small craft."
After the tour, we returned to the administration building to interview the crew of the missing ship. As we entered the building, Schultz waved us over to where two tiny people were waiting.
"Good afternoon, I presume you are the crew?" Holmes asked.
"Yes, we are Kerm and my partner Ermy. Have you any idea where our ship is?" Kerm asked.
"I am still gathering the clues, may I ask a few questions to complete my data," Holmes said, "When did you last see your vessel?"
"Before dark last night, we went into town after locking the hatches, when we returned the spot was empty though well lit," Kerm said, "We scouted around there were no marks, despite searching most of the port before reporting the loss. After confirming we were looking for the correct position."
"I have examined the recordings of the area as well as the landing procedure of all the surrounding ships," Schultz said, "I have interviewed the surrounding ships within sight of the alleged parking spot, all deny seeing anything unusual."
"May I have the details of the ships in the area?" Holmes asked.
"Certainly, this is the data," Schultz said, passing over a thumb drive.
Holmes accepted it then loaded it into his computer and started studying the information. After a time, Holmes said, "I have a clue, next move is to interview the neighbours to confirm my ideas. I believe until then; I will remain silent on my theories."
While the victims looked despondent, Schultz appeared confident as he had seen Holmes in this mood.
"Please proceed. Not to worry, Kerm, he is onto the scent; I know that look," Inspector Schultz said.
We returned to our vehicle and set off again to the parking area. First stop was the ship to the far side of the subject vacant plot.
I hailed the ship, "Hello the ship, may we come aboard?"
A figure stuck out in curiosity, "Come aboard. How can I help you?"
"My friend Holmes, you may call me Watson, we are investigating the disappearance of a ship belonging to Kerm and Ermy."
"I had heard that was missing, and the police have been asking questions. Do you know what happened to it?" The pilot asked.
"I have a small clue. Did you see anything unusual around 1700 hours?" Holmes asked.
"Only the crew from the big ship rummaging around, I called out to them, and they returned to their ship," The pilot said.
"Thank you for your time," Holmes said, "Come, Watson, we will now visit the next vessel."
As we drove over towards the big ship, another car from our office drove up, and three figures climbed out walked over to Holmes and merged with him reforming into an enormous Holmes.
"May I enquire about your appearance?" I asked.
"All will become clear shortly," Holmes said with a smile.
I had to hold my peace as it was pointless to ask until Holmes was ready to reveal his latest effort to confound me.
As before as we approached the ship, I called to seek entrance, "Hello, the ship, may we come aboard?"
A hatch opened and extruded a ramp; at the top, a figure boomed, "Please do, I am Garn, captain of the Far Traveller."
"Thank you, I am inquiring into the disappearance of the ship belonging to Kerm and Ermy," Holmes replied in the same tones, "Watson, my associate," Holmes said then asked Garn, "May I be introduced to the Brobdingnagian crew?"
"My wife, Shermian. How may I help you?" Garn asked.
"Would your children be available? I have a question to put to them," Holmes began.
"If you believe it may help. The tiny police officer only asked a couple of questions and left as soon as possible. I am embarrassed at times when I make people nervous and am glad that I can converse eye to eye with you," Garn said and then over the intercom, "Children would you come to the bridge, the famous Sherlock Holmes is here to ask a question."
There was a clatter of feet as four figures arrived to stand before Garn. "This is Garn junior, Vermiam, Sher and Darm," Garn introduced them, "What would you like to know?"
"Children, could you like to tell me what you have done with the toy ship?" Holmes asked.
The children looked guilty and shuffled their shoes, "We were just playing with it, and we were going to put it back, but everyone started shouting and running everywhere," Garn Jr said reluctantly, "No-one would listen to us."
"Well I am asking now and will patiently listen to you," Holmes said.
"Can we put it back and then play?" Garn Jr asked, "It was here when we landed, and we thought it was just a toy model."
"I believe that would be sufficient if you give an apology to the crew of the ship. I am sure that will be accepted," Holmes said.
"We will do that now," Garn Jr said as the four ran back to the hold and were soon carrying a burden towards the vacant parking spot.
"I am very sorry that my offspring caused so much trouble, and I will offer a suitable compensation to the crew," Garn Senior looked mortified.
"I am sure they will see the humour behind the prank," Holmes said, "I will go over and pass on the good news."
"When the Lilliputians and the Brobdingnagians meet, and the children see an apparent toy; there is a potential for a misunderstanding," Holmes ended the case.