::At the Metropolitan Opera House, security is far tighter than normal. Two things make this necessary--one, that there are more villains gathered there than at a mob convention. Two, that there are valuables to guard. The regular security guards see to the safety of the guests and their baubles, but there are also the trophies to consider. And with 54 of them to give out, not counting ties, that amounts to quite a lot of hardware.

 

::All the trophies are on display in the main hall of the house, just outside the rear doors that led to the auditorium. A large bulletproof display case protects the most valuable of these, the permanent All-Time Best trophies which remain at the Met year-round. The smaller trophies surround the display case, tastefully presented with a large dark blue velvet foundation under them with the CDRR logo prominently displayed in the middle.

 

::At the moment, Detective Drake and his new assistant Mepps are looking that scene over. Drake whistles at the scale of it all::

 

Drake: Thatís quite a load there. Got to be over ten thousand in gold alone. I know plenty of scum that would give their eyeteeth to get their mitts on those beauties.

 

::Mepps stands on his toes to see into the case::

 

Mepps: Iíll do my best, Detective Drake.† No one will get past me. Um, teeth donít have eyes, do they?

 

Drake: No, itís just a saying. Look, weíre supposed to keep a lookout for anyone trying to mess with the trophies, particularly the big All-Timers. Tonightís the only night out of the year that they come out of that case, so if someoneís going to make a hit on it, itíll be during the ceremony. And I wanted you along because you know Fat Cat and heíll probably be here.

 

Mepps:† Iíll try to do my best.† Oh, I donít know if I can stand up to Fat Cat.

 

Drake: Donít worry, you wonít be alone. Youíve got me and Plato to help. Hey, speaking of Plato, where is he...

 

::The clever canine at the moment is at the far side of the huge expanse Mepps and Drake are looking around in. On either side of the room the plush red carpeting leads to matching flights of stairs that lead to the mezzanine. Plato has just completed a circuit upstairs, checking for hidden troublemakers. Finding none, he now has his nose to one of the big outer windows, studying the people outside as they approach::

 

Plato: I donít like this. I can sense trouble in my bones. Hmm, whatís this...

 

::Plato eyes a group coming up the lit sidewalk and his eyes narrow::

 

Plato: Fat Cat and company. Iíll be keeping an eye on them.

 

<hr>

 

::Outside, Fat Cat, his goon squad, and his family approach the splendidly-decorated main entrance. This was Fat Catís kind of scene--the posh and the glamour appealed to him. Heís dressed to the nines, wearing a cape over his tuxedo, as well as a top hat and a fancy cane. The family is well-dressed too, much to the kidsí discomfort. The goon squad doesnít seem to like the tuxes either. Fat Cat strides up to the guard checking the invitations::

 

Fat Cat: Ah, my good man! Grand evening, isnít it. I trust you recognize my celebrated face?

 

Guard: Maybe I do, maybe I donít...

 

::Fat Catís ever-present temper flares::

 

Fat: What do you mean! Iím the one that make life a challenge for those rickety Rangers!

 

Guard: Oh, now I remember you. Okay, his group goes in.

 

::Fat Cat mumbles something as he and his entourage enter the building. They stop when they see the trophies. Portly and Husky rush up to the case, pressing their noses against it::

 

Kids: Dad!† Look at the cool trophies! Do you think youíll get to take one home this year?

 

::Fat Cat smiles knowingly::

 

FC: You never know, kids. You never know. Come now, letís be getting inside. Sounds like the festivities are already underway!

 

::The kids rush ahead, and Wart whispers in Fat Catís ear::


Wart: Boss, doesnít having Chubbi and the kids upset your plans?

 

Fat Cat: Nonsense. Theyíre the perfect cover. Now I look like the reformed villain and family cat attending a revered ceremony. Little do they knowÖ