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Much Ado About Nothing

VC: Much Ado About Nothing
Ginny — 20 Sep 1998, 7:33 PM

Clare Darrow rode slowly back to town and pondered the dynamics in the Janeway household. She was no chirosurgeon, but she knew there was more there than met the eye--and what met the eye was pretty darn provocative. There was something decidedly non-familial about Kathryn and Tom's attitudes toward each other. She would need to investigate further, since the answers to the questions racing around her trained legal mind might have some bearing on her defense of Sevenita.

As she approached the outskirts of Voyager City, Clare made a mental list of the tasks she needed to accomplish before the end of the day. After two accidental departures from the main road and an unintentional river crossing, she was finally getting the hang of operating the buggy, but she still preferred the idea of having a chauffeur. She also needed to locate a law clerk and set up an account at the telegraph office. And she really ought to send the judge a fruit basket or something.

She pulled the buggy up in front of Larson's Buggy Rental and Chaffeur Service. Alighting from the buggy, she entered the business establishment and found the counter manned, not by the pleasant, middle-aged woman who had rented her the buggy earlier, but by a remarkably attractive young man who looked up at her approach and smiled sweetly at her.

That settles it, decided Clare. I'm buying real estate in this town.

"Good evening, ma'am. Can I help you?" the young man asked.

"I certainly hope so," the lawyer replied, her southern accent just a trifle more pronounced than usual. "I rented a buggy earlier and would like to extend my rental period."

"That's no problem, at all, ma'am." The young man beamed at her. "How long would you like to keep the buggy?"

"At least two weeks," Clare replied. "And I'll need a chauffeur, as well."

The young man frowned charmingly. "Oh. Well, that could be a problem. Our regular driver, Miss Kaplan, was chauffering Mr. Torres, the foreman at the Delta Q, around the county a few months ago, and there was a terrible accident."

"Oh my," Clare said. "Was she killed?"

"We all thought so," the young man replied, a puzzled look on his handsome face. "But I recently heard that she started a new career as resident pro at the Voyager City Golf Club a little while back, so apparently not."

"Is there no one else I could retain as a chauffeur?" Clare inquired, batting her beautiful brown eyelashes at the young man.

He visibly swayed toward her across the counter. "Well, gosh, I reckon I could do it. Things are pretty slow this time of year, and the family could sure use the money." The young man came around the corner of the counter and gave a courtly little bow. "I'm Anson Larson, by the way. I suppose you'll want me to drive you to the dance tomorrow night."

"Dance? What dance?" Clare asked.

"The Grand Leola Root Ball. It's the biggest social event in Voyager City. Everyone who's anyone will be there."

Clare thought to herself, Really? Then that means Marshal Tuvok will be there. And Tom Janeway. And Chakotay Torres. Perfect. Absolutely perfect. And who knows, I might even talk to a few witnesses. "I think that sounds like a splendid idea, Anson. Now, if we have an arrangement, I'd like you to drive me to the best dressmaker in town."

VC: Still More Ado About Nothing
Ginny — 21 Sep 1998, 7:47 AM

The blonde man thought for a moment, pooching his lower lip out in the most delightful way. "I reckon Garak's Millinery and Hosiery would be the place to go."

"That's our destination, then." Clare gave a decisive nod and walked back out of the shop to the buggy. Larson reached over the counter, grabbed a chauffeur's cap, and hurried out after her. After helping Clare into the back seat, Larson climbed in and took the reins.

"Lay on, McDuff," the lawyer said humorously. Larson turned around and looked at her in confusion.

"Beg pardon, ma'am?"

Clare sighed. Apparently, Larson was a natural blonde. "Drive me to Garak's, Anson."

"Yes, ma'am." And the buggy rolled away down the street.

Three blocks later, the buggy neared Marshal Tuvok's office. An enormous crowd of people weilding pencils, notebooks, and sketchpads was camped out on the sidewalk in front of the jail.

"I wonder what's going on?" Clare mused. "Pull us up a little closer, Anson."

"Yes, ma'am."

As they moved nearer, Clare, with a lawyer's fine intuition, recognized the group as the press. She spotted a young man, obviously a cub reporter, on the edge of the crowd. And wasn't that Tom Janeway turning and walking away from him? This bore investigating.

Clare stood up in the buggy. "You there, with the 58th Cavalry spiral binder." The young man looked up. "Yes, you. Come here for a moment."

The young man walked over. He had very pretty eyes. "Is there a problem, Miss...?"

"Darrow. Clare Ensfriggen Darrow. E-N-S-F-R-I-G-G-E-N." The young man dutifully wrote her name in his notebook. "I'm the attorney representing Sevenita. What's going on here?"

"Well no one's telling me much, Miss Darrow. I'm just a cub reporter with the Voyager Chronicle. Jason Canuck, by the way," he informed her, inclining his head in greeting. "But as near as I can figure out, Kes Janeway, who's been missing the better part of two days, just came back into town in the company of a scruffy looking gunfighter, who appears completely smitten with her. Deputy Neelix is dead under mysterious and violent circumstances, and Marshal Tuvok is in possession of a notebook that may contain exculpatory evidence concerning Sevenita and the murder of Jabin Ogla."

Clare was impressed, in spite of herself. "That's a pretty comprehensive report for someone who isn't being told much. I think you have a talent for this, Mr. Canuck." Jason blushed and ducked his head shyly. He really did have the prettiest eyes. "You know, whatever that notebook may or may not say, I think it might be helpful to Sevenita to have public opinion on her side going into this trial. And I'll need a contact in the press corps to accomplish that. What do you say, Mr. Canuck? Would you be interested in an exclusive interview with my client and her attorney?"

Jason practically spun around in his excitement. "That-, that-, that would be so cool," the young man effused. "When do we start?"

"Let me find out more about this notebook, and then you and I will talk. Are you going to be at the Grand Leola Root Ball tomorrow night?"

The reporter shrugged casually. "Well, sure. Everyone who is anyone will be there. It'll be a newsman's paradise."

Clare smiled slightly at the "newsman" reference. "Excellent. Now, if you'll give me a hand down, I need to speak with the marshal."

VC: More Ado About Nothing Than You Can Shake a Stick At.
Ginny — 21 Sep 1998, 1:37 PM

The trick was going to be getting to the Marshal through the throng of press people assembled outside the jail. Clare had no intention of setting herself up for a barrage of awkward questions about Sevenita's case. But how to manage the situation...?

Clare suddenly called out, "Hey, y'all!"

The waiting newsmen and newswomen turned to look at the previously unnoticed woman in maroon, who was standing on the road by a buggy and pointing off down Main Street. Clare continued, her clear, southern-accented voice infused with a sincerity honed by years of faking it before the bar. "Wasn't that Omega Spice that I just saw sneaking into Quark's?"

Like a school of fish, the members of the press corps turned as one, snatching up pencils and pads of paper and primitive photographic equipment, and raced off down the street toward Quark's Bar. Waving her hand in front of her face to clear the dust kicked up by the stampeding reporters, Clare thought, with satisfaction, Well. All that college finally paid off. Then she noticed that young Jason had started to follow his colleagues down the street, only to pull up short, turn around, and come back to stand in front of the lawyer, his 58th Advanced Cavalry spiral notebook, with the famous Wild Cards emblem emblazoned on the front, clutched to his chest.

He looked questioningly at Clare. "That was a ruse, wasn't it?"

Clare smiled approvingly. "Sugar, you're going to be one helluva newspaperman. But, for now, I need you to wait here with Anson, while I go talk to the Marshal. Warn me when the press corps starts heading back this way."

Then, in a swirl of maroon silk and crinolines, Clare swept quickly up the steps and through the door into Marshal Tuvok's office.

Ball's in your court, Eric.