Chapter 9: Contents, One Princess
Julie woke up with headache. She looked about to see that she was in her room. Her shoulder hurt too. She sat up and tried to remember how she had gotten here. Last thing she remembered was chasing down Marita, then getting punched. Maybe it was just a dream. It probably was, considering that there was a half-empty bottle of wine sitting on the nightstand. Perhaps to much partying last night? Not that it mattered. She just wouldnít do as much tonight. She got up and noticed that she was till wearing her clothes. Well, at least she hadnít done anything that she would regret later. She stood up and looked about. The other bed hadnít been disturbed, so no one had come in after her. Which meant that... The door opened and Anne walked in, with a positively radiant glow about her.
"Did you have fun last night?" asked Julie.
"Yep," said Anne. Julie raised and eyebrow at her. "We didnít do anything," she replied. "We just sat up and talked mot of the night. I fell asleep on his couch."
"Sure," said Julie. "I believe you."
"Anyway," said Anne, "Whereís your brother and Angie?"
"Beats me. Think we should check the other room?"
"Sounds like a plan," replied Anne. Julie stood up and walked out the door with Anne following behind her. Julie knocked on the next cabin door and walked in. She walked in and saw Greg and Angie, lying on the couch, sleeping peacefully. They had just slept where they fell apparently.
"And this trip just gets weirder," said Julie. They left the room quietly, and left them to sleep.
Angie woke to see a furred arm lying across her. She rather liked having some to wake up next to; someone that she didnít feel obligated to do anything else with. It was nice to have someone like that. She looked at Greg as he slowly woke up. His eyes opened and slowly focused on the lovely red and white raccoon that was staring at him. She kissed him on the muzzle.
"What was that for?" asked Greg.
"I think I rather like this," said Angie.
"Like what?" asked Greg.
"Just being able to wake up with someone next to me," said Angie. "Iíve always wanted to just wake up and not feel bad about what I did."
"Well," said Greg, "considering we didnít do anything, you wonít have to worry about that." She smiled at him and rolled over only to fall off the couch. Greg started to laugh, she crossed her arms and stared at him.
"You always seem to fall whenever you get up from sleeping," said Greg.
"Itís a bad habit that I picked up from my mother," said Angie. "Thatís why Iím an only child." Greg sat up and crossed his legs on the couch, his tail folding up behind him.
"Why donít you tell me more about what you were like growing up?" he asked. "You seem to have an odd childhood."
"No," she said. "It was pretty normal. I was just that my father disappeared when I was 12, and I didnít have anyone else to relate to. Then my mother went off the deep end when I was 18..."
"Thatís not so normal," said Greg. "Though I wonder how normal I was growing up."
"What was so bad about it?" asked Angie.
"Well," he began, "my mother almost ran away with an Amway salesmen, leaving Dad to raise Julie, Carrie, and I. Then she came back a day later, after she beat the hell out of him."
"Whoís Carrie?" asked Angie.
"Oh," said Greg. "She my other sister. She disappeared a while ago about the same time that my wife did. Thatís when everything went to hell."
"How so?" asked Angie. "You seem pretty normal to me."
"Well," he said pensively, "after those two disappeared, I decided to go out to a bar, and I never really left it."
"Youíre not still drinking are you?" asked Angie.
"I stopped just the other day," said Greg. "I think that you helped me."
"Really?" asked Angie. "That makes me feel better about myself." Greg stood up and walked over to Angie and picked her up off the floor.
"Well," said Greg. "Iím glad that I could make your day."
Today was the day thought Marita. She popped the disk into the drive and unlocked the time safe files. The document appeared on the screen, and a link to the picture of her rescue target appeared at the bottom. She read quickly though the contents of the file. Pretty standard; grab the girl, jump into the lifeboat, rendezvous with the destroyer, bring the girl back a hero. No problem at all. Marita thought back to how she got caught up in this entire secret agent shtick. She had always done well in her classes, and was the best at the PT. It was probably her expertise at computers that brought her into the field as support. After she single handedly saved a mission that she wasnít supposed to be involved with, though, they had to stick her somewhere. So she got assigned as a field agent. It tore her marriage apart, and she never really forgave the agency for that. It was supposed to be a front, but it developed into something else. At least for him it did. But perhaps for her as well.
Her tail swished at the thought of that organization. She was done after this mission. Maybe she could go back to him. No, he had found happiness again. Well, maybe she would too.
She clicked on the link for the picture. It loaded slowly, but soon the full image of the princess appeared on the screen.
"Oh my," said Marita.
At the next meal, Angie and Greg sat alone, leaving Anne and Julie to sit and talk with the captain. Geno walked about socializing with the various guests and Marita sat in a dark corner, avoiding attention.
"So, Captain," said Julie. "Whenís this princess of yours coming aboard?"
"Actually, apparently, she came aboard in New Jersey," said the captain. "I got a message from her security yesterday."
"Well, where has she been?" asked Julie. "Nobility is hard to come by these days."
"Well," said Badge, "I donít even know what she looks like. But Iím supposed to have a dance with her tomorrow night."
"Whatís tomorrow?" asked Anne.
"Why, the Ships Ball, of course," replied Badge. "You should find some one to show up with."
"Who me?" asked Julie.
"Well, obviously not Anne here," sad Badge. "Sheís my date."
"I donít believe you asked me," said Anne, "but Iíll accept just the same."
"How about those two?" asked Julie pointing over to Greg and Angie. "You think theyíll go? Greg canít danceÖ"
"So Angie told me," said Anne. "But heís learning quickly."
"Good then," said Badge. "I think that this shall be an interesting affair."
"There planning to do what?" asked Marita.
"The kidnapping attempt is going to be tomorrow when the princess dances with the captain," said Geno. "The information just came over the transmitter."
"Well, who is it?" asked Marita.
"Some environmental extremist group," said Geno. "But the problem is, weíve got to get to her first."
"Did you know who she is?" asked Marita.
"No," began Geno. An arm grabbed him form behind and pulled him away.
"Hey, you old fox," said an older female rabbit. "Remember me?"
"Adrienne?" asked Geno.
Great, thought Marita. This is going to be a lot worse than I thought.
"So," began Greg, "what are you doing tomorrow?"
"Me? Probably spending the day with you again," said Angie. "Why?"
"Well," said Greg. "Thereís the ships ball tomorrow night. You interested?"
"Why, of course," said Angie. "I think I have just the outfit for that."
"Pardon?" asked Greg.
"Oh, nothing," said Angie, beginning to giggle. "I think youíll like it."
"Thatís what I was afraid of," he said.
"You know," said Phyla, "I really enjoy this sort of thing."
"What, madam?" asked the husky wolverine.
"The open sea, and such," replied the raccoon. "Iíve always enjoyed cruises."
"Yes, madam," replied the wolverine. She went over to her closet and pulled a long black dress, cut most of the way up the legs. This was definitely the dress she was wearing tomorrow.
"Joseph," said Phyla. "What do you think of this?"
"It looks great, madam," said Joseph. "It really accentuates your fur."
"You think so?" She held it up to herself again. "What do you think? The silver necklace?"
"Most definitely," said Anne. "Youíre going to knock him dead."
"Iím not hoping for that," said Angie. "But I do want to impress him."
"With that dress?" asked Julie. "I think thatís not a problem. That silver necklace really sells the whole outfit."
"You donít think itís to much do you?" asked Angie. "It cut kind of high. I mean, most of the side is cut andÖ"
"Nah," said Anne. "Youíre sure to be the belle of the ball in that. I donít think anyone but you could pull off an outfit like that. I know I couldnít."
"Well," said Angie. "I suppose your right." She looked in the mirror. She did feel like a princess. Now all she needed was a knight in shining armor. Or at least a horse.
"Plan Tango is fully ready to deploy," said the mouse. "Whatís your status on the princess?"
"Agent Echo is ready to deploy the moment she steps into the room," said a fox. "Agent Indigo has the escape planned, and Agent Bravo is following in the boat."
"Excellent," said the mouse. "There will be no hitches. We are ready. This will be a proud day for the Environs. Once the princess is in our hands, she will be held hostage until the government agrees to shut down their nuclear plants. Then we start the global spread."
"Right, sir," said an otter.
"Any status on the Watchers?" asked the Mouse.
"Sir," said a stoat, "the Watchers are totally unaware of our plan. This will catch them completely off guard."
"Excellent," replied the mouse.
"Are you sure that the Environs donít know weíre here?" asked Geno. "They are well connected."
"They shouldnít," said Marita. "We were hired by an insider, whom got canceled for using a can of hair spray."
"Tough group," said Geno. He looked in the mirror, only to see the old gray fox staring back at him. "Iím getting to old for this business," he said.
"Well," said Marita, "Iím done after this mission. You can retire whenever you want."
"What will I do with myself?" asked Geno. "This is all Iíve ever done."
"No," said Marita, "you were a captain in the Italian navy."
"Right, like I can put that on my resume," said Geno. "I donít know, Marita, maybe itís time I clocked out."
"Not yet," said Marita. "You can always teach the new generation. Thereís always a need for Watchers."
"Teaching?" asked Geno. "Whoíd want me as a teacher?"
"Well, you taught me," said Marita. "And I learned from the best."
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