This is part 3 of the story. To read part one, go back a couple posts.
Picard teams up with Ardra and Professor Arturo in an attempt to slide into a dimension where he can relax in his cool jacket in peace.
Ardra and the away team sneak up to the castle gates. Or rather, the delivery entrance. They wait for an unsuspecting delivery driver to roll up and Picard volunteers to be the one to punch the guy out so they can commandeer the vehicle.
The driver dispatched, Ro is ordered to don his uniform and take the driver’s seat. The rest of the group climbs in to the back.
Ardra explains this is a laundry truck. Not just any laundry, either. Only the king gets his laundry this way.
They roll up to the gates where the guards question Ro. But she manages to convince them to let her through to deliver the goods.
Jean-Luc and Ardra climb in to the laundry bin together (after he gives a token protest) and hunker down to be delivered. Ro and Geordi are instructed to drive off but keep nearby in case they need to provide a getaway.
On the Enterprise, Riker finally decides to check in on the captain. At this point it has been 6.5 hours which is pretty impressive to consider the team got in a bar fight, broke out of prison, and snuck into a palace in such a short time span.
Of course, the captain doesn’t answer any hails since his comm badge was confiscated. Riker quickly realizes something must be wrong and grabs Worf for an away team, leaving Data in charge.
Riker and his team beam down in search of the captain, arriving at the jailer’s station thanks to tracking down Picard’s communicator signal.
At first, the jailer has no idea who they are talking about. Captain Picard wasn’t in uniform so they had no way of knowing what he was. But when Worf shows the jailer a picture, he recognizes Picard immediately.
Riker and his team head off to investigate further, and try to track down where Picard and his team went off to.
Meanwhile, Picard and Ardra are wheeled through the palace by an unwitting servant pushing the laundry bin down the halls.
The bin is eventually wheeled right in to the king’s bathroom where he is having a relaxing bubble bath.
The stowaways present themselves to the king who keeps himself modest by staying under the bubbles. Ardra explains the plot at hand, but the king requires proof for such accusations. Ardra assures the king that if he gives her access to some surface-to-ship communications he will have all he proof he needs.
Riker and his team wander the streets with no idea of where to begin looking for their missing crew. Worf points out a tavern called “The Cauldron” as a place to start.
They walk in and see a bunch of patrons watching a show. They also note how the scene was not what they expected of a bar in Shanzibar. Their conversation draws a “shhh” from a nearby table.
Worf states this may not be the best place to get info after all. Riker doubts everyone is that interested in the show. Until an entire table turns to shush them.
A particularly large and gruff man approaches the rude group of theater-talkers and confronts them on being yet more offworlders who can’t keep their mouths shut.
Worf asks the man about the offworlders he’s talking about, and the brute clearly is talking about Picard and his team. Riker tells the man those are friends and asks if he knows where they are.
The man replies he doesn’t, but he knows what’ll happen to Riker!
Back in the palace, the wizier sits at the head of a table with his co-conspirators. He goes over the plan with them to drug the king and drain the treasury.
Once the entire plan is laid out, the charade is dropped and everyone around the table shimmers and changes form to that of Picard and the others including the king.
The wizier makes a desperate attempt to escape by cutting the rope to the chandelier overhead. Ardra shoves the king out of the way while Picard tackles the fleeing would-be kingslayer.
The wizier fights back, swinging his knife, but Picard deftly avoids the attack and dispatches the wizier with a well-placed throat punch.
After the dust settles, Ardra and Picard’s group meet with the king in his throne room. He thanks them for saving his life and informs them they are all due the standard reward for it. An amount that is literally a King’s ransom.
Picard immediately turns to Ardra and calls her out for having a stake in this after all. She shrugs it off. Maintaining a ship with cutting edge tech is expensive after all.
Picard asks for his portion to be distrubuted among the poor of Shanzibar. The king agrees although with how prosperous they’ve become from the influx in tourism, it may be hard to find any poor people!
Ardra bids them all adieu and beams up to her ship.
Picard hails the Enterprise with a comm badge provided by the king. Data answers the hail and explains Riker is now missing.
When Data explains they lost contact with the team in the vicinity of The Cauldron, Captain Picard knows exactly what happened…
What the heck happened to Miles?? I figured he was going to have at least some part to play in this. But apparently he went down there in the last comic and then just vanished? Messing around in the local tavern? Hopefully not The Cauldron, lol.
I liked the callback to Ardra’s holo technology. And the banter between her and Picard was fun, too.
Also, I seriously don’t know who the heck that dude on the cover on the right is supposed to be. He never even showed up in the story. So I’m gonna stick to my idea that its Professor Arturo from Sliders.
In the letters to the editor, the editor made a comment regarding Picard’s romantic options:
I feel so vindicated right now. I love the Vash/Picard pairing. I can’t wait to get to those comics!
It also looks like Lwaxana will be showing up at some point too:
They probably should space out those appearances though. Picard can only handle so much sexual tension at once and the poor man just got done dealing with Ardra!