At All Costs – First Chapter

Chapter 1

“Take a look at that view,” Frank Hardy said, his gaze sweeping over the snow-capped mountain peaks that jutted up into an intense blue sky.

“The Wasatch Mountains are awesome,” his brother, Joe, agreed. “I can’t wait to ski them.”

The Hardys were walking through the glass-enclosed terminal of the Salt Lake City International Airport with their friend, Kip Coles. Kip worked as a wilderness adventure guide, and when he’d heard the Hardys were going to be in Utah over Thanksgiving vacation, he’d arranged for the three to do some extreme skiing in northern Utah’s pristine backcountry.

“You won’t believe how great the powder is,” Kip said as he led them to the baggage-claims area. He was a tall, lanky twenty-year-old with curly brown hair and a perpetual tan from being outside year-round. “Snow has been dumped in the mountains since mid-October. The skiing will be super.”

“Count me in!” Joe said, his blue eyes twinkling.

Eighteen-year-old Frank pushed back a strand of his dark hair as he grinned at his brother. “I knew you’d want to head for the slopes the instant we arrived. Too bad that our case has to come first.

“Hey, I can always find time for fun,” Joe countered.

Frank halted in the crowded baggage area. The terminal was filled with holiday travelers, and right then he wished that he and Joe were there on vacation. He had to remind himself that they were in Utah to do a job, to hunt down some dangerous saboteurs.

“There’s our stuff.” Joe darted forward and grabbed their ski bags and suitcases off the revolving carousel, then he handed a couple to Frank.

After they’d retrieved everything, Kip led them to his Jeep, parked alongside the curb.

“Let’s just hope this case isn’t as dangerous as the one we tackled last time you were here,” Kip said as he unlocked the doors. While hiking in the southeastern Utah desert, Kip and the Hardys had helped save two teens lost in the wilderness and captured a heavily armed escaped con.

“It could be,” Frank said solemnly. He loaded the last of the luggage into the four-by-four, then climbed in back. “At least the state’s Building and Games Committee was worried enough to contact my father for help.”

Kip looked at Frank in the rearview mirror as he steered the vehicle away from the terminal. “The newspapers are still reporting the construction problems at the new Sports Park as ‘accidents’ and ‘delays.'”

Joe snorted. “Perfectly executed accidents, you mean. Each time something goes wrong at one of the sites, it’s been major enough to cause construction to shut down. Thankfully, the Building and Games Committee finally agreed the mishaps were too serious to ignore. Fortunately, no one’s been hurt — yet.”

“And they’re suspecting saboteurs?” Kip asked.

“They’re not sure.” Leaning forward, Frank rested one arm on the back of Joe’s seat. “But they want to find out what’s going on before negative publicity jeopardizes Utah’s opportunity to host the 2002 winter Olympics.”

Kip whistled. “Now I see the problem. The state figures the Olympics will bring in hundreds of millions in revenue.” He shook his head. “Not that everybody in Utah is eager to host the Olympics.”

“Environmentalists are especially concerned,” Kip explained. “Every year Salt Lake City holds the Utah Winter Games, but hosting the Olympics is a huge deal. It means more construction and millions of visitors. There are lots of us who’d like Utah to stay unpopulated and unspoiled.”

Joe glanced over his shoulder at Frank. Frank could tell his brother was wondering the same thing. Could environmentalists be sabotaging the new Sports Park? It was worth looking into, since bad press or the possibility that the facilities might not be ready could force the International Olympic Committee to award the games to some other state.

Frank glanced out the window at the mountains that rose dramatically behind the Salt Lake City skyline. Northern Utah was gorgeous, and he could see why many people didn’t want it to change.

Turning off the highway, Kip headed into the mountains. The Hardys would be staying at the Coleses’ condo in Park City, a resort town and skiers’ paradise.

“Well, count me in on helping discover what’s going on,” Kip said. “Like I told you on the phone, my uncle Walt owns the construction company building the facilities for the bob sled.”

“Crew contacts would be great,” Frank said.

“We’re working undercover as security guards on the Building and Games Security Committee, but we can use all the help we can get. So far we don’t have any leads.”

“And we need to find out what’s going on,” Joe said, his voice grim. “Before somebody gets hurt during one of these so-called accidents!”

Chapter 1

“Nice digs, Allison,” Nancy Drew said. She dropped her duffel bag on the floor of her friend’s dorm suite and looked around the tiny bedroom. It opened into a central living area, which was simply furnished with a wood-frame couch, a couple of chairs, and several patterned rugs.

“Really! This is my idea of dorm life,” George Fayne said as she plopped down her suitcase on Allison’s bed.

“I couldn’t agree more,” Allison Fernley replied. Nineteen-year-old Allison was a year older than her two friends from River Heights. Her interest in environmental studies had brought her to Utah, where she was a sophomore at the university. “Still, I do have to share this space with three other girls. And believe me, it gets crowded, especially when we’re all trying to get ready for something at the same time.”

George grinned and sat on the edge of the bed. “Doesn’t sound too bad to me. Though I’m glad your other roommates are home for Thanksgiving. I can’t see six of us living here.”

“Me, either.” Hands on hips. Nancy went over to a large picture window. Salt Lake City was spread out in the valley below her. “I’m sure glad you invited us out for some Thanksgiving skiing.”

Allison picked up Nancy’s bag and set it on the bed next to George’s. “Hey, it’s all my pleasure. It’s great to see faces from River Heights. Sometimes I get homesick.”

“Homesick!” George exclaimed. “With great classes, beautiful scenery, oodles of winter sports, and a new boyfriend? How can you possibly be homesick?”

Allison laughed. “Well, believe it or not, you don’t notice the scenery after a while. And I’m not a sports nut like you, George. But you’re right, the classes are great.”

“And how about Tyler?” Nancy teased. Every letter Allison had written to her for the past month had been filled with news about Tyler Conklin, a student Allison had met at an environmental rally.

A rosy blush spread over Allison’s cheeks. “Okay. He’s great, too. I can’t wait for you to meet him tonight at dinner.”

George clamped a hand over her stomach. “Oooo, talking about dinner, I’m starved. All we had was soda and peanuts on the plane.”

Nancy walked over to Allison and put an arm around her friend’s shoulder. “Can we head over to the restaurant? After all, Tyler needs to hear high-school horror tales from a couple of old friends. Like about the time you got locked in the girls’ bathroom.”

“Or the time we were playing donkey basketball and you got bucked off,” George added.

Allison’s mouth fell open. “You wouldn’t!”

Nancy laughed. “No. But we will tell him how lucky he is to be dating you. That is why you invited us to Utah, right?”

“I can’t imagine where Tyler is,” Allison said an hour later. For what seemed to be the hundredth time, she checked her watch and then looked over at the door of the restaurant.

“Something probably came up,” Nancy said, reassuring her friend. She glanced down at Allison’s untouched hamburger and fries. “So eat up. The food’s great.”

George nodded in agreement. “My chicken salad was perfect.” She speared one of Nancy’s pickles. “How was your turkey club, Nan?”

“Great.” Nancy tried to sound cheerful as Allison grew increasingly gloomy.

Nancy thought wistfully about her own boyfriend, Ned Nickerson, who’d decided to go to Florida with friends for Thanksgiving. She wished she could be with him, but then reminded herself how much she’d been looking forward to skiing in Utah.

After tucking her reddish blond hair behind her ears, Nancy drank the last of her juice.

Again, Allison twisted around to look at the door, her brown eyes troubled.

“Do you think there’s something wrong?” Nancy asked gently.

With a sigh, Allison turned back to her two friends. “I hope not. It’s just that when I met Tyler he was in a relationship with another girl, and…” Her voice trailed off.

“And?” George prompted.

“And ever since he broke it off, the girl, Robyn, has been hounding him. They were pretty active in a radical environmental group called Earth at all Costs.”

“I’ve heard of Earth at all Costs,” George said. “I picked up one of their brochures at a rally in River Heights. They’re into stuff like spiking trees to stop clear-cutting.”

“Right. The group is a global network of environmental activists who feel they should use any means necessary, even violent ones, to stop big businesses that are threatening the earth. When I first met Tyler, he was pretty involved with them.” Allison stared down at her clenched hands. “Then he changed. I like to think I helped him realize that the earth could be better protected by working through legal and peaceful means.”

“So, Robyn wasn’t only mad because Tyler broke up with her, but also because he switched sides?” Nancy guessed.

Allison nodded glumly. “Now Tyler and I are active in a group on campus called Peace on Earth. Whenever I see Robyn she makes it clear how much she hates me.”

“Does Tyler live on campus?” Nancy asked.

Allison shook her head, her tawny hair swinging against her cheeks. “No, he’s in an apartment off campus.”

Nancy waved to the waitress, signaling for their check. “Let’s drive over and see if he’s home.”

Allison brightened. “Good idea.”

Fifteen minutes later the three girls were driving through a neighborhood of Victorian houses and small apartment complexes.

“Cute houses,” George said as she and Nancy peered out the windows.

“The area’s called The Avenues,” Allison said. “A lot of the old homes were made into apartments like the one Tyler’s — ” She stopped speaking and gasped. “There’s a police car in front of Tyler’s apartment!”

Jerking the car to the right, Allison parked in front of an older brownstone building and jumped out. Two white squad cars stood in the drive, their emergency lights flashing.

With a cry of distress, Allison raced up the walkway and into the building.

“What’s going on?” George asked Nancy as they climbed out of the car.

“I have no idea, but let’s find out,” Nancy said as she jogged toward the brownstone.

The foyer was dark, but the girls could hear noise coming from the top of the stairs.

Taking the steps two at a time, Nancy and George reached the top floor, where they found a door partly open. Nancy could hear Allison’s shrill voice coming from the other side. What was going on?

Nancy pushed inside, George right behind her. Allison was standing in the middle of a small efficiency apartment. She was flanked by two men, one in a police officer’s uniform, the other in a suit. “Why are you here?” she was demanding. “Where’s my boyfriend?”

“Excuse me, but may we have some ID?” the uniformed officer asked Allison. Reluctantly, she pulled her wallet from her purse.

Nancy stepped right up. “What’s the matter?” She directed her question to the taller man in the suit. A police ID clipped to his suit lapel identified him as Detective Unch.

Movement from a small bedroom caught Nancy’s attention. A man and a woman were moving slowly around the room, obviously searching the place. “Has something happened to Tyler?” she asked.

“No, ma’am,” the detective answered. After checking Nancy and George’s driver’s licenses, he added, “But we sure would like to know where he is. Maybe you ladies can tell us.”

“Not until you tell us what’s going on,” Nancy said firmly.

The detective pulled a matchstick from behind his ear and stuck it in his mouth. “Well…” He chewed on the stick for a moment, then said, “Seems your friend Tyler Conklin sent a letter to the American Progress corporate offices.”

“So?” Allison propped her hands on her hips. “There’s no law against that.”

Nancy knew Allison was trying to be brave, though she could hear the quiver in her friend’s voice.

“Except in the letter, he threatened to blow up the new ski-jump tower at the Sports Park if the company didn’t meet his demands.”

“What!” Nancy exclaimed. She glanced over at Allison. All the color had drained from her friend’s face. Beside her, George was staring open-mouthed at the detective.

“That’s crazy,” Allison declared. “Tyler would never threaten anything like that.”

The detective cocked his head. “Well, the evidence points to the fact that he did write the letter.”

Nancy’s gaze darted to the two officers in the bedroom. One was examining a computer. Had it been used to type the letter? Or was Detective Urich bluffing?

Taking the matchstick from his mouth, the detective pointed it at Allison. “And now your boyfriend seems to have disappeared, Miss Fernley. And he is a member of that crazy ecoterrorist group Earth at All Costs. That makes him look mighty guilty now, doesn’t it?”

Comments are closed.