Joe grabbed Ken by the shoulders. "What do you mean, they're planning to blow up the building? What time?"
"I-I don't know!" exclaimed Ken. "They just said it was happening tonight! I couldn't hear more because that's when Uncle Dock saw me and came rushing after me! I jumped on my bike and high-tailed it out of there. But he was shouting that he was going to kill me when he found me!"
Laura held the boy close. "You came to the right place. We'll find a way to keep you safe."
"Speaking of, how did you find our house?" asked Joe.
Ken sniffed. "I, I asked around."
"And if Docker asks those same people, he'll be here real quick," said Frank. He glanced at his mother. "We'd better call the Chief and Dad and let them know."
Laura nodded. "I agree. Everyone up to the study, now." Laura grabbed Ken's hand and led the way up the stairs. She picked up the phone and called Fenton, putting the phone on speaker. The line went straight to voicemail. "Fenton, the boys and I have an important clue regarding the case. Call me back as soon as you get this. Love you, bye." She hung up and called Collig.
Collig answered. "Police Chief Ezra Collig speaking. What do you have for me?"
"Chief, is there any movement at the abandoned farmhouse?" asked Frank.
"None that I've heard so far. Why?"
"Ken Blake just walked in, telling us that they plan to blow up the building tonight, Ezra," said Laura.
"Oh Laura! You're back! Wait, tonight?"
"Yes!" exclaimed Ken.
"Do you know exactly what time?" asked Collig.
"Um, n-no," said Ken. "They didn't say, they saw me listening before they said."
"TOugh luck, but I'm glad you got out of there safely."
"Speaking of, Ezra, one of the men threatened to kill Ken should he find him again. Could I request that one of your men come here and be a guard for the night? Or at least until we can catch those men?"
"Hmm . . . maybe I have a better solution. Those crooks would probably have figured out Ken has gone to you with the information. What if I have one of my men take him to his house and keep him there until things blow over? Almost like a witness protection program kind of thing."
"Um, are you sure? I don't want to be too much trouble," said Ken.
"It's not like you have anywhere else to go at the moment," pointed out Joe. "Consider it temporary until we can find your real uncle."
Ken nodded. "That is a good point. Alright, it'll work."
"Great. Reilly's coming off duty here in a few minutes, I'll send him over and pick you up. Be sure to have your things ready when he does."
'Yes sir," said Ken.
"Alright. So, what did Fenton have to say?"
"He didn't say anything," said Laura. "It went straight to voicemail. I left a message for him to call us back the instant he gets it."
Collig let out a breath. "I hope he gets it soon."
"I do too, he didn't tell me when he was getting out of the meeting at Elekton."
"Well, it should be before closing time, which is around six," said Collig.
Frank and Joe glanced at the clock. It was now only three o'clock. "Do you really think they'll strike while everyone is still there?" asked Joe.
Laura shook her head. "No, every single time it's happened, everyone else was gone except the guards."
"They've arrested the guards, I hope?" asked Frank.
Laura nodded. "Of course, but they're not talking, unfortunately. Either they were paid fairly well, or people close to them were threatened."
"What time did Dad go to the meeting?" asked Frank.
"The meeting started at one. He should be home soon, in fact," said Laura. "I hope that's his excuse for not getting back to us." She paused. "Well, besides the fact that we're on the phone with you right now, Ezra."
Collig chuckled. "That's fine. You can call me back once you've heard from Fenton."
Joe turned towards the door. He thought he heard a car door closing. "Unless that's Dad outside right now."
"I hope so," said Laura. "Ezra, can you wait a moment while we check?"
"Thank you. Ken, stay here." The three Hardys left the study and went down the stairs. They reached the bottom as the front door opened and fenton Hardy walked in.
He raised an eyebrow. "My goodness, I've only been away for two hours. You're acting like I've been kidnapped again, or something!" He kissed his wife. "But I guess that means you found something."
"Oh boy, did we ever," said Joe.
"Let's head back up to the study," suggested Frank. "Ken and the Chief are waiting."
Fenton blinked as he glanced between them. "The errand boy heard something?"
"And his life has been threatened for it," said Laura. "Ezra's sending Reilly over to take him to his house so he can't be found by his pursuers." She let out a huff. "And he might have to stay there until we've found his real uncle."
"Oh my, a big development. Lead the way." Laura nodded and began going up the stairs. "By the way, any developments with the farmhouse hunt?" Fenton asked the boys as they walked up the stairs. Frank and Joe took turns, giving Fenton a quick account of what happened. They finished their summary as they entered the study room. He patted each one on the back. "You did fabulous out there." he turned and looked at Ken. He walked towards the boy, extending his hand. "And you must be this brave Ken Blake I've heard so much about."
Ken became flustered, but he shook Fenton's hand heartily. "I-I wouldn't say particularly brave. I just didn't think it right that the Elekton building should be blown up." he let out a breath. "Of course it was made easier by finding out my uncle really isn't my uncle, so I guess you can say this is payback for lying to me." His brown eyes flashed with anger.
Fenton nodded. "Understandable, and I hope in return we can find your real uncle."
"I'm working on it, Fenton," came Collig's voice over the loudspeaker, startling everyone.
"Oh, hello Ezra! Glad to hear that you're already on top of that. Laura told me about Reilly coming to pick him up."
"Yup, and he should be there in a few minutes, so have your things ready to go Ken."
Ken chuckled nervously. "I already am. I only have the clothes on my back and my bike." Everyone gasped.
"What? But I thought . . ." began Joe, but Ken interrupted him.
"I did have other clothes, but I don't dare go back to the boarding house, not now. Besides, he only got me a few nasty things. I only wore them so I could get these clothes cleaned."
Joe huffed. "Well then, now's a good time to raid my closet."
"You're finally going to clean it up?" quipped Frank.
Fenton chuckled. "Don't go smearing good deeds with humor, Frank, they'll lose their heart real quick."
"I know, Dad, but it's good fun needling him about it," said Frank with a big grin.
"Oh I bet," said Fenton. He turned to Ken. "Why don't you go with Joe and pick out a few things to take with you."
Ken's eyes widened. "Oh, but!"
Fenton held up a hand. "Just for now, until you've gotten some things of your own."
Ken sighed. "Alright." But he followed Joe out with tears in his eyes and a big, goofy grin.
"Ezra, the boys told me you have a few squad cars over at the farmhouse where one of these guys is staying."
"How many exactly?"
Fenton thought a moment. "Ok, how about you just have one watching the place and send the other car to Elekton. I aim to apprehend this guy while delivering the explosives."
"So, instead of apprehending him at the farmhouse?"
"Have your car follow him to the Elekton building. We'll corner him with the incriminating evidence."
"Fantastic. I love it when that happens."
Fenton chuckled. "You and me both."
"What time are you thinking for this?"
Fenton glanced at the clock. "Hmm . . . well, the best time would be between six and eight. The majority of the workers will be gone by six, and the janitors and night guards are gone by eight. That is the usual time this guy has attacked at other locations. However, I would like it if everyone was there at five-thirty."
"I think there is another inside man, besides the two guards the boys are after. I want to see if any information is passed before they leave, see if we can't get it narrowed down to the leak."
"That sounds like a plan. Alright, I'll gather some men and meet you there at five-thirty."
"Can we go with you?" asked Frank. "Those two guards are the men we're after in our case."
"It's fine by me if it's fine by you, Fenton," said Collig.
Fenton chuckled. "Sounds like you're itching for them to go too."
"Hey, the last time we did this was without you, but it was a blast."
Fenton glanced at Laura. "Well, what do you think, dear?"
"I think I had better go too to make sure you three stay out of trouble. It seems like it always happens when I'm not there."
Collig laughed. "When neither of us are there. They're just a few danger magnets."
"Ok, fair enough, all four of us will be there for five-thirty, provided Trudy doesn't try to tag along as well," said Fenton.
"Yes! Thanks Chief! Bye!" Frank was out the door and rushing into his bedroom. Joe and Ken were stuffing an extra backpack they had with a few shirts and jeans. They glanced up when Frank came into the room.
"What's up with you?" asked Ken.
Joe, who knew his brother better, merely grinned with delight. "You've got some great news. Spill!"
"All four of us; you, me, Mom, and Dad, are going to stake out the Elekton building to catch those crooks!"
Joe fist-pumped the air. "Yes!"
A troubled look came over Ken's face. "Just you four?"
Frank shook his head. "Oh no, we'll have a few cops there too. And the cops watching the farmhouse are going to tail the green truck to the lab."
"Aw yeah!" said Joe. "This mystery is as good as solved!"
Frank paused. "Well, maybe?"
Ken blinked. "What do you mean by maybe? You'll have caught the guys!"
"Yeah, but, we haven't found out where Docker and Markel were making the counterfeits."
Joe snapped his fingers. "You're right! But I bet I know where."
"In the cave," he and Frank said at the same time.
"So it really isn't going to take you guys that long then," said Ken. "You just have to catch those crooks and get the counterfeits machines out of the cave and you're good to go."
Joe shrugged. "Yeah, can't believe it's all over."
"Well, it won't be quite over once we've caught those crooks," said Fenton as he walked into the room followed by Laura. "We've still got to go to court, and we wouldn't be able to solve any mysteries until then."
"Wait, court?" asked Joe.
Fenton nodded. "Yes, whoever is paying Peters, he's got to be the one behind all this, is going to make sure he stays out and is going to fight us in court."
"Ugh, and how long is that going to be?" asked Joe.
Fenton shrugged. "I have no clue, however long it will take to prove to the judge and jury that we are in fact telling the truth."
"And provided our opposition doesn't have any sly tricks up their sleeves," muttered Laura.
"You can outsmart them, my dear, so if you don't mind, I'll leave that to you," said Fenton before bringing her hand to his lips.
"Oh, how kind of you." She kissed his cheek. "I'll do my best."
"If you're doing your best, then they have no chance whatsoever," Fenton said with a sly grin. Laura opened her mouth to answer, but then the doorbell rang.
"Oh thank goodness," whispered Frank before dashing down the stairs to answer it. There was Officer Reilly, out of uniform.
"Hello Frank, is my young charge ready?"
"Y-yes, I'm here," said Ken softly, appearing behind Frank with the backpack.
"Officer Reilly, this is Ken Blake. Ken, this is Conrad Reilly," Frank quickly introduced them.
The two shook hands. "It's nice to meet you Ken. You have everything?"
"Nice to meet you too," replied Ken. "And yes I do."
"Alright, let's go. The Chief doesn't want us to take a chance, so I suggest we head out now."
"Thank you, Con," said Fenton.
Reilly gave Fenton a little salute. "Not at all. You guys take care."
"We will!" said Joe.
"You take care yourself!" said Laura with a wave. Reilly gave her a little salute in answer before leading Ken to his car. In a few minutes, the two were gone.
"Alright, in a little while, it will be time for us to leave as well," said Fenton, glancing at his phone.
"Well, I suggest a little snack for right now. We might have to do a lot of running."
"Sounds like a plan," said Fenton, giving his wife a kiss on the cheek.
"Hey, what if we ask the guys to come along?" asked Joe. "I know it's a little late, but I'm sure a few of them wouldn't mind helping us nab these crooks."
Fenton nodded. "That actually sounds like a good idea. You two make those calls, I'll help your mom in the kitchen." The boys quickly made their calls, and a few of the gang were more than happy to help, especially after hearing what had happened to Ken. They joined their parents in the kitchen for the light snack, and for a little while, they chatted away like any other family. But all were anxiously waiting for the upcoming stakeout, knowing that the end was close by.
(Author's Note: Welcome back to the Hardys! Sorry about the late posting, but I'm not going to bother with a posting schedule from here on out. I just want to hurry up and get these finished! And it doesn't help that I've gotten to a point in all five stories where I'm going to need to focus on one, or maybe even two, at a time and try to knock out the last of the chapters. Nancy's coming up next, and the 16th chapter of Valley of Diamonds, Broken Blade, and Treasure at Dolphin Bay are in the works. So, yeah, it's happening, and I think I'm feeling the withdrawals of finishing this along with the excitement of getting to the end. But I do have to concentrate on Mystery of the Monoplane's Mission and Secret of the Sprite Society which will be posted here sometime in September/October along with my world-building series on Wattpad. Not only that, but I've submitted applications to a few jobs too, and I'm thinking of applying to a few more. Once I get a job, it's going to be a little harder to get writing and to do YouTube. But, I can do it, I will do it, God hasn't put this desire in me for no reason. I will just have to get better at timing myself on things. Anyways, hope you enjoy this chapter, Nancy's coming up next, and be sure to give some love to Elizabeth Joan-hbndgirl! She's been fantastic in leaving reviews on my stories, and her stories, along with Drumboy100's, are on my tbr pile, once I've finished these five. Going down to three projects will be so much easier, lol. Thanks for reading and I hope you have a wonderful week! God bless!)