The Spy Who Loved Monty
By Indy and Chris Silva
Chapter Three -- Memory's Betrayal
As she left Ranger Headquarters, Monty’s words were still echoing in Agnes’ mind. Could he have really done something wrong? Had she misread him? After all, they had only been together that short time
"No! I know his heart as well as my own," Agnes said out loud. "Something is holding him back, and there is mais one mouse who would know what it is."
With that, Agnes strode off in the direction of New York. She was so intent on her purpose that at first she didn’t even notice the shadowy figure following her. When she crossed the street, she felt someone staring, and wondered if Monty had come to make up. She turned in time to see an animal dressed in a trenchcoat dart behind a large bush.
Agnes Oakmont was many things, but a fool wasn’t one of them. Her training with the R.A.S.C.A.L.S. had been rigorous, but she since had found many occasions to thank them for it. One thing they had engrained in her was that if your instincts said you were in danger, they were usually right. So when she finished crossing the street, she ran down the block and turned the corner. The follower had to wait for traffic to clear, then ran as well. At the corner, a pair of eyes looked left and right. Two feet chose left, walking slowly. Then from out of nowhere a hand came down on the mysterious person’s neck and the animal went down hard
Jeff put his hands up in surrender. "Whoa! Help!"
Agnes was ready to deliver another blow when she recognized her editor. "Jeffrey? Oh, pardon mon ami! I thought you were a stalker!" She helped him to his feet. "What did you think you were doing?"
Jeff dusted himself off. "Good gravy, Agnes! I was just worried about you. I felt bad about how upset you were with this story, so I just wanted to if you were all right."
Agnes’ face softened. "Ah, so you do care. Well, at least your heart is in the right place. Now run along, Jeffrey. I am a big girl now."
"Are you sure, Agnes? You’re the best reporter I have—I don’t want anything to happen to you," Jeff said.
Agnes laughed out loud. "Jeffrey, I have known you for 20 years and you’re still the crankiest, most high-strung, best friend I have!" She hugged Jeffrey hard. "I’ll be okay, mon ami. I have to catch up on things with an old friend."
Jeff was flustered by her display of affection "Well, just make sure nothing happens to you. You’ve got an award-winning feature story to write! If you need help, just let me know. The magazine will do anything for its number one reporter."
Agnes winked at him. "You can’t fool me, you old squirrel! You just want that second Ace Award. I’ll give Percival your regards."
Jeff cleared his throat, tugged at his collar and his face took on a practiced grumpy expression. "Yes, well, good-bye and good luck, Agnes. Remember what we’re paying you for!"
Monty hadn’t left his room all morning, and the mutterings coming from inside cast a disturbing atmosphere over the rest of the Rangers. He’d only opened the door for Gadget when she’d brought him his lunch.
"Did he take it?" Chip asked.
Gadget nodded. "I put the sleeping powder in his water so he can calm down and get some peace for a little while." Chip grimaced, still thinking about the day’s events. "Do you think he really could have betrayed her?"
"No!" Gadget said reflexively, then calmed down. "Chip, Monty’s been the kindest mouse I’ve ever met, next to my own dear father. There’s just no way he would do something terrible to Agnes!"
"Then what’s this all about?" Chip asked. "Monty thinks he’s done something worse than murder!"
Gadget shrugged a bit and looked downcast. "I don’t know, Chip. But maybe Agnes will find out. I need to know as much as she does-as Monty does!" The tears overcame Gadget and she sank in Chip’s arms.
In Monty’s room, the mutterings were getting softer and softer. The sleeping draught was taking over.
"Secret…secret mission…Brie…danger…danger…" Monty said, his eyes closing as he lay in his hammock. The sound of bombs re-entered his mind and as the embrace of slumber met him. He traveled back in time and space to where those bombs were not just heard but seen.
Monty had been traveling with his father for years before he finally struck out on his own to seek his destiny. Monty enjoyed being his own master—he had felt suppressed by his parents’ need for his company most of his life and the burly Aussie was ready to get out on his own. Cities large and small throughout the world had already welcomed him in or kicked him out of their gates. Now he was touring France, on his way to Bordeaux for the annual wine and cheese festival.
With only his nose to guide him, Monty had just left the town of Rouen and was enjoying a walking tour of a tranquil country lane. Tranquil that is, until two voices grabbed his attention. Monty couldn’t hear the words from his distance, but the tones were enough to convince him that trouble was afoot. And Monterey Jack was never one to back down from trouble.
Creeping through the semi-dense undergrowth, Monty discovered a small clearing about 20 feet off the main road. It was a lovely sight in itself, with the trees waving their myriad green flags of late spring. Here and there a flowering bush painted the scene with a dash of yellow or red. None of these factors had caught Monty’s attention, for in the middle of the idyllic clearing a struggle to the death was in full force.
"Give it up! Maybe I will let you live!" a voice shouted.
"Never! Never upon my soul!" the other replied.
The two voices belonged to mice who were wrestling each other for some unknown goal. The first mouse was dressed in black, including a black ski mask with the only evidence of his species being the telltale tail. A reflective flash told Monty that he had a knife in his hand.
"Guess I’ll haveta figure out what’s what later. Hey, you! Stop!" Monty shouted.
The knife-wielding mouse was surprised by the newcomer and guessed that his adversary had just gained an ally. With desperation taking over, he managed to stab the twisting figure under him in the leg and then leaped up at Monty in a savage fury.
"Sie werden nicht siegen!" the attacker yelled in German. Monty had no idea what "you will not be victorious" referred to, but he knew the language and the threat behind it. "Put down the knife and we’ll talk!" Monty offered.
"Nie!" the German replied, shaking his head. Then the mouse began to calm a bit, and change his language to match Monty’s. "You will not recover the vial, even if I have to die for it!"
Monty was disappointed at the words. He knew this fellow meant business, and there was only one way to handle him. Monty pulled back the sleeves on his arms. "All right, if ya wanna fight, you’ve come ta the right mouse!"
The German-speaking stranger was not daunted, and come steadily closer, looking for an opportune moment. Part of Monty’s attention remembered the other mouse lying in the grass. What if he was also an enemy? He hadn’t appeared to be dead, only wounded. But Monty could not afford to take his attention from his primary adversary.
Then the disguised mouse leaped through the air and Monty prepared to side-step him as he did. Monty ducked, forcing the attacker to stab thin air. When he hit the ground Monty took him out with one well-placed chop to the back of the shoulders. As he rolled the now-unconscious mouse over and removed the hood, the other mouse began to groan loudly in pain.
Monty looked around and studied this second mouse for the first time. He was wearing a tan trenchcoat and a black beret, which had long since fallen in the previous struggle. A black shirt and trousers completed the ensemble. Monty made his way over.
"Crikey! You’re right lucky I happened along when I did! Just who are you anyway?" Monty asked.
His newfound acquaintance’s answer was a groan as the fallen mouse clutched first his ribcage and then his leg. "First, tie him up and get me out of sight! There may be more of them." Monty obeyed, tying the would-be killer up and disarming him of a gun and another weapon he wasn’t familiar with. These he brought with him, but refused to hand them over when the wounded mouse asked for them.
"First, let’s see some I.D. or somethin’. How do I know I didn’t just tie up a copper or somethin’, workin’ undercover?" Monty asked pointedly.
The stranger smiled at Monty, though he was wincing from the pain. He liked this fellow. "First of all, R.A.S.C.A.L. agents do not go around carrying identification. And even if we did, they could be forged. However, you should be able to satisfy yourself with this," the mouse said, handing over an envelope. It was carrying the seal of the R.A.S.C.A.L.S., and addressed to one F. X. Nighter. Monty looked at him again, and handed over the weapons.
"That’s not my real name of course, but one can’t be too choosy in the espionage business. Very good. Now, if you’ll help me up, we can…." Nighter’s litany was cut short by a spasm of pain shooting through him, causing him to yell out. Monty remembered Nighter’s concern about others in the area, and clamped one of his large hands over the agent’s mouth. With effort, Monty was able to get Nighter into a concealed thicket, away from prying eyes. As the spasm ended, Monty set about doing what he could for Nighter’s wounds.
"I’m afraid I’m not much of a doctor mate," Monty apologized. "Me mum said I should’ve become one with the good hands I have an’ all. But I’ll get yer leg patched up enough for ya." Monty soon had a tourniquet applied to the leg, along with splints. Nighter’s breathing was a bit raspy, but nowhere near as bad as it had been during the seizure.
Nighter caught Monty’s arm. "Thank you, my friend. I can’t continue my mission like this, so despite the reservations I have, I must turn it over to you. Do you know how to get to Brie from here?"
"Brie? Sure. It’s on me way to Bordeaux. What’s in Brie?" Monty asked.
Nighter had another seizure then, and nearly passed out. "Reach…reach into my inner…coat pocket. Take the vial, but do not under any circumstances open it. It’s full of..ARRRRGH!" Nighter seized up again, and this time the strain was too much for him. Just before he passed out, he grabbed Monty’s ear in a painful grip and pulled it toward him. "Tell them….Napoleon….is….at….Elba…" he whispered, then fainted.
Monty did not know what to make of those words, but he knew enough to check Nighter’s vital signs. They were still good, despite this latest development. The young explorer stood up and looked around. He was alone as far as he could tell, and a good ten miles from the nearest town. Nighter had been indeed fortunate not to be wounded in any of the vital organs—or at least Monty hoped he wasn’t.
"Well pally, I know what ya said but I still feel I should try to help ya," Monty said, looking down at his resting comrade. Then he reached into the jacket and took out the vial Nighter had mentioned. It was made of a strong, clear plastic and sealed tightly with a thick yellow tape surrounding the plastic stopper several times. On the side, it had a label:
VHF—Filovoridae Ebola Zaire
Monty couldn’t make anything of the abbreviation or the strange words next to it, other than Zaire of course. He’d been near there before, on his way to Kenya. But the yellow tape and the agent’s warning were enough for him. After leaving Nighter his canteen, Monty pocketed the vial and the envelope, being sure that the vial was safely stowed away before proceeding.
"I’ve got to see if I can find someone—anyone," Monty said, walking out to the road. He waited for a good twenty minutes with nothing but the wind passing through. Then a sign of life did come, but it was the last one Monty wanted to see. A bullet crashed into the tree next to him, just as he had leaned against the tree and slid down its trunk to catch forty winks. Monty jumped up and ran for cover. Another bullet from the unknown sniper sought him out, but Monty’s skills at evasion were good and the next bullet was far away from him.
"I’m sorry I can’t help ya more than I did, mate," Monty said under his breath. "But you should be safe where I left ya." With that self-exoneration, Monty took to his heels and made for the south. He didn’t like leaving Nighter there alone, but he knew too well if he’d gone back the assailant could have easily ended up killing them both from a hidden position.
So it was five hours later that Monty found himself alone in front of a small campfire of dead wood—a trick his father had taught him to keep the fire from producing too much smoke. Monty reached into his pocket with the vial—it was safe. His hand touched the envelope and then he realized he’d not opened it yet. He did so immediately and read the contents:
This letter is only to be used as a last resort to inform one of your assigned contacts. If the reader of this letter is a contact, you know this mission is a level four priority. As you also know, R.O.D.E.N.T.S. has a strong presence here. If you are intercepted, you must turn over the information to one of your contacts along the way.
When you reach Brie, you will look for the cheese warehouse on the southern outskirts of town. It is owned by one of our own, and he has turned over its use to us as a waypoint.
There you will meet three members of the R.A.S.C.A.L.S.--two males and a woman. You will give them the standard recognition code before turning the item over. Remember, on this mission you are to get the item into the hands of your fellow-agents no matter what the cost.
If you cannot make the rendezvous, or you find the agents eliminated, then the responsibility falls to you to take the item to Rouen.
The world is counting on your success.
Monty read and re-read the letter, then pocketed it. What was this all about? It was certainly important. If this Nighter was really who he said he was, it was critically so. Then his mind returned to the letter’s contents. Monty didn’t like the sound of a female being in this racket. "Well, she’d better be good. I normally would say that spyin’ ain’t a place for a lady. I don’t rightly like the idea of babysittin’ someone."
Two and a half hours later, Monty set out under cover of the midnight darkness. The quarter-moon illuminated his features slightly, even though he did his best to use every bit of cover. Over the next three hours, Monty made his way through chilled rivers, under bridges and through woods that he knew could be lurking with danger. He was tired, but still able of body when he made it to Brie. The warehouse had been easy to locate--it was the only major building to the south of town, in the middle of the rose fields. There was no one around, and no light coming from the inside. Monty crept up stealthily and then treaded quietly into the dark and silent warehouse.
A hand reached out and snared him. Suddenly a knife was at his throat.
"Who are you?" a voice challenged.
"I’m Monterey Jack. N sent me to meet some friends and to tell ‘em that Napoleon is at Elba."
"But he prefers St. Helena," the voice replied. The knife left his throat.
Monty had to shield his eyes as a lamp suddenly flooded the room with light. Two faces appeared as his eyes adjusted. The one who held the lamp was mouse dressed in a flight jacket, black beret and pants. The one who held the knife was a terse-looking chipmunk, with a black trenchcoat and a grey sailor’s hat "My name is Ramrod. This is Percival. You have something for us?"
Monty grabbed the vial that he’d gotten from Nighter. "I think this is what yer lookin’ for, mate." Monty flipped it into the air toward Ramrod, and the chipmunk yelled in panic. Ramrod fumbled the vial, but the mouse’s quick hands snatched it before it hit the ground. Ramrod snatched the package and placed it inside his trenchcoat.
"You infernal idiot!" Ramrod yelled. "Do you have no idea what is in that vial you so carelessly tossed?" Monty shook his head. "Not more than what’s on that there label. The contact didn’t tell me a thing, mate."
The mouse stepped forward and shook Monty’s hand. "Greetings friend, I am Beowulf. My real name must wait for a more opportune moment—then perhaps we can have proper introductions. But as for what is in that vial, perhaps you should sit down first."
Monty found a semi-comfortable cheese crate and Beowulf joined him. "The label actually tells the story. VHF stands for Viral Hemorrhagic Fever," Beowulf said. "The Ebola virus is a particularly virulent type of VHF. It was discovered eight years ago in Africa. There are several strains, but the Zaire variety is the most dangerous. Two micrograms is sufficient to kill a human."
Monty was so overcome by this information, he had to think whether he was still breathing or not. He’d carried enough of that virus to kill himself a million times over! And he’d actually thrown it across the room!
Beowulf could see the thoughts reflected in Monty’s features. "Do not concern yourself. You could not have known the danger you were carrying." Beowulf turned to Ramrod. "Sir, as you may recall, it is my sworn duty to carry the vial." He extended his hand toward Ramrod.
Ramrod looked at his partner with an annoyance he couldn’t hide. "Very well. I forgot you were the navigator on this little excursion," Ramrod said. Ramrod handed over the vial to Beowulf, who placed it in his mapcase. The prim Britisher gave Monty a hand up from the floor. Ramrod pretended not to notice the gesture. "We’ve already seen evidence of enemy agents in the area tonight. We’ll have to wait until tomorrow at least."
Monty slapped Ramrod on the back. "Well, mate, it looks like we’ll be roomies fer a little while! Say, I was told that there was a third person fer this mission. What happened to ‘er?"
Ramrod slapped a hand over Monty’s face. "Quiet, you fool! Don’t you know how far your voice carries at night?! Do you want the Dark Assassin Squad over here?" Monty blushed in agitation as Ramrod paced a few feet and came back. "Look, too much is at stake to risk failure. Grendel is watching the other end of the warehouse to see if any agents observed your relatively clumsy approach," Ramrod said tersely.
Monty’s interest in the mystery lady slipped with the mention of that code name. **Grendel? Must be a sight to look at.** He managed to keep his cool and whispered, "Look mate, I know how to handle meself. That’s how I got here through to this point! Just keep watchin’ me and I’ll teach you a few things." Monty patted Ramrod on the back again, and Ramrod looked more annoyed than before.
"Keep your hands to yourself, mouse. We’ve got to stay alert, and it’s hard enough without having to depend on each other. I’d rather be alone in all this, but N seems to think everything is done in threes," Ramrod said.
A slight noise came from the other side of the warehouse, growing incrementally louder as a slight shadow spread across the warehouse wall nearest the group. Ramrod turned slightly. "I think Grendel is coming to report."
The shadow came near to the lamp and the light reflected on fiery-red hair, emerald-green eyes and a face that any painter would give his best work to. She was wearing a black beret and trenchcoat over a French country costume
"All is clear Ramrod, I...."
Their eyes met.
"Tooo-Raaa-Looo..." Monty said, awestruck.
The pretty chipmunk blushed slightly. "Are...are you the one we came to meet? But I thought the contact would be French..."
Monty took off his aviator’s cap, bent over and kissed her hand. "Monterey Jack at yer service. There’s been a slight chance in plans." Grendel smiled appreciatively. The look on Ramrod’s face was positively poisonous, and it didn’t escape Percival’s sharp eye. Beowulf stepped between Monty and Ramrod. "My friends, it’s late. Perhaps we should get some rest. I’ll take first watch, then you Ramrod, then Grendel and finally Monty. "
Ramrod grumbled something, then went to his post and settled down. The girl looked at Monty as he had never seen a female look. "I will see you in a couple hours Monzy, d’accord?" Grendel asked. Monty smiled back grandly, and tugged on his collar a bit. "You can count on that, luv." She smiled kindly, then left for her assigned section of the warehouse.
The dawn was just beginning to wink over the horizon and its first golden rays illuminated her head. Monty gasped as though seeing a vision of heavenly beauty. He rubbed his eyes, seemingly in disbelief. Soon, the rigor of the trip told on him and Monty took up his corner of the warehouse and slept. He awakened to Beowulf touching his shoulder. The smell of coffee and cheese filled his nostrils
"Monty...time to rise old bean," Beowulf said.
Monty began mumbling in his sleep. "Crikey, mum, not cheese flapjacks again…can’t we have somethin’ without cheese fer a change? Uh, what...Oh, Beowulf, mate...good ta see ya!"
Beowulf smiled in kind. "I think we can drop the codenames for now. My name is Percival Montgomery."
"And I am Agnes," a whisper came from behind him. Agnes chuckled, as she knelt down and played with the tuft of hair above Monty’s eyes. "Bon matin, Monzy. Come and sit with me, and we will eat as well as those at the bistros along the Champs Elysses." In a flash Monty was seated beside her. "Well, Agnes luv, if you insist," Monty said. Agnes giggled and showed a smile that made the chilly morning suddenly warm.
Then Monty looked over at his other companion. "So, Percy, how’s it look fer us gettin’ outta here?" Percival poured up the coffee. "Ramrod told me he has a contact in the area that will let us know when it’s safe to leave. He’s out scouting the area right now, looking for any signs of enemy presence."
Agnes could never stay silent when she was curious. "Monzy, how is it a rugged Aussie like yourself is in the R.A.S.C.A.L.S.?" Monty perked up at the compliment, but he wasn’t sure he should tell them the whole story just yet. "Well, Agnes luv, it’s everyone’s duty ta fight the bad guys and I put myself where I’d do the most good. Bein’ a jack o’ all trades made me ideally suited fer this job—that an’ being in the right place at the right time of course."
As Monty poured a cup of coffee, Agnes reached into a secure pocket and pulled out a small clear plastic photo album. She showed the pictures to Monty, and stopped at one in particular of a chipmunk boy about five or six years old. "That is my little nez cerise—my nephew Dale. He is the most fun to play with! I plan to go see him and my brother’s family as soon as I can." Monty looked at the picture. The little chipmunk had a great big smile on his face. "Well, he sure looks like a jolly little tyke."
Agnes gave him a coquettish smile and asked innocently, "And do you have any plans for after this mission? Returning home to your wife, perhaps?" Monty didn’t catch the meaning behind the question. "I’m a free spirit as restless as the wind and I figure after this shindig I’ll be the same way...wife?!? I ain’t the marryin’ type. It would take a rare woman to be the perfect match fer Monterey Jack, she’d ‘ave to be..." Monty found himself captivated by Agnes’ beauty. "Unique, exquisite—the most remarkable and beautiful woman in the world."
Agnes’ smile grew all the more. "And unattached? You must tell me more of this woman, Monzy. But first, I would like a bit of exercise. Do you wrestle?" Monty looked up from his breakfast at her strangely, sure that he had misunderstood her. "I didn’t quite catch that last bit, Agnes luv…"
Percival stifled a laugh. "She took me three of three falls, old boy. Better watch yourself--she’s tricky. I’ll patch you up if she hurts you too bad."
Agnes rose and began to limber up. Monty was totally surprised. She was really serious! "Well, I did study a little wrestlin’ in the Orient—mostly sumo type. But I’ll give ya a go if ya wanna try."
Agnes faced him with a look of iron. "Very good. Come over here, away from the windows in case anyone is looking." Agnes bowed to Monty and took up a standard fighting pose. Percival drank his coffee and knew he was about to see something he’d appreciate.
Monty noticed her professional fighting stance, and found he liked this female all the more. "It’s strange. This sorta reminds me of the way me mum and dad deal with a disagreement..." Agnes smirked. "Well, then they must get along well! Do not think I will be easy on you, mon ami, even if I am starting to like you."
Monty’s eyebrows shot up in surprise at her admission, allowing her to strike with the speed of a cobra and the ferocity of a tiger. Agnes leaped through the air, and wrapped her legs around Monty’s neck in a scissors movement. Using her full body weight, she flipped Monty to the floor. The agile chipmunk landed on her feet.
Agnes smiled down at the wide-eyed Aussie. "Did you mother ever use that move on your father?" Monty was floored, in more ways than one. "Crikey! You been taken lessons from ‘em by the look o’ it! Yer somethin’ else, Agnes!"
Agnes grinned in satisfaction at the compliment. "I’ll give you first move this time, Monzy." Monty made a lightning fast move, to which she countered with an equally fast reaction. Then they both had the same thought and leaped and within moments found themselves face to face in each other’s arms.
"Now, for my most devastating move of all..." Agnes said slyly. She leaned in and kissed him. Percival smiled warmly and found his coffee even more enjoyable than it was a moment ago.
Monty was stunned at first, but soon he returned her kiss with equal passion. Agnes looked into his eyes. "Ah, Monzy...now who is this woman you were mentioning before?" Monty just looked into her emerald green eyes. He found it difficult to form any words.
"I just met her...her name is Agnes," Monty managed.
Agnes relaxed and bowed. "Then I must tell you about her. She is an agent who at heart is a writer who searches the world for stories. And right now she has found a most interesting one in a handsome Australian mouse by the name of Monzy..." Monty was enjoying this little game. "Funny you should mention an Australian mouse named Monty. I just happen to know the chap, and I think the two o’ them would get along just great."
Percival cleared his throat and the couple remembered that they weren’t alone. Monty and Agnes gave Percival a harsh glance for interrupting the romantic moment. "Can I help you with somethin’ Percival?" Monty asked gruffly. Agnes laughed hard. "Monzy, you are priceless! But come, we are not being fair to good Percy. Come and let us speak with him. He has a talent most wonderful."
Monty composed himself and escorted Agnes back over to the young Brit. "Okay, Percival, mate. What’s on yer mind?" As they came over, Percival reached into his mapcase and brought out a small palette and a bunch of brushes. "I could see there was something between you two even last night. I should like to do something for you. I am a good painter, even if I say it myself. It would give me great pleasure to paint you two as you are now. It will give each of you something pleasant to remember in the years to come."
Monty winked at Percival. "I think I already got somethin’ pleasant to remember." Agnes took Monty’s hand. "Oh, Monzy! Let’s do. I would like to have a picture of that charmant face as it is now." Now how could Monty resist that? "Well, if it would make you happy, Agnes. I never had anyone call me "charmant"—at least not to me face."
Agnes laughed at his little joke. "Then many a girl has missed her chance, my charming friend. I am glad to hear it," Agnes said with emphasis. Monty smiled and put his arm around Agnes and held her close. "Me front is me best side, I’m told."
Percival took out two small momento-sized circles of white porcelain to paint on. Agnes sat first and looked lovingly at Monty the whole time. Then it was Monty’s turn. In the course of a half-hour, Percival had done his work. Then he pulled out a couple more things.
"This watchchain and locket belonged to my brother, who was also an agent in the organization. He was killed in a covert operation a year ago—he loved as you both do. The watchchain was his and the locket was meant for his beloved. Take them, Monty and Agnes. It would make Jonathan happy to know they were kept by someone who would appreciate them," Percival said.
Monty took the watchchain and held it gingerly in his hands "Percival, I’m touched by yer gesture. You sure, mate?" Percival nodded. "Accept it, my friend. They would just go into a sock drawer at home. With you two, I know they will be treasured."
Monty and Agnes accepted the gifts and exchanged momentos to place in each container. Agnes had tears in her eyes and she hugged Percival warmly. "Percy, you’re too kind!" Percival raised a hand. "Tut, tut my dear! Least I can do to help a budding romance along. My wife would say I’m eccentric, and she’d be right. But this kind of business requires eccentricity, does it not?"
Monty put his picture of Agnes away securely. "It sure does mate. Fallin’ in love with a beautiful chipmunk at first sight and all—not that there’s anythin’ wrong with that mind you."
"Or a cute mouse, for that matter..." Agnes added.
At that moment, Ramrod returned. He noticed Monty and Agnes’ proximity to each other and was instantly jealous. Monty got up and patted Ramrod on the back. "Ramrod, mate! Good to see ya again. Uh, what’s your real name?"
Ramrod gave Monty an icier stare than before. "You can call me Ramrod. Percy, you’re with me. We need to go into town and make contact with a local informant I know. I trust the two of you will stay out of sight and out of trouble?"
Monty gazes lovingly at Agnes "You can count on that, mate." He gave Ramrod a knowing wink.
"No problem, Ramrod. I look forward to your return!" Agnes said. Monty gave Agnes a curious glance at those words. Ramrod doffed his hat. "And I to returning, mademoiselle. We should be back before nightfall." Ramrod and Percival left the building, taking care not to be seen leaving.
Monty watched them go and then turned around. "Well, Agnes...it’s just the two o’ us." Agnes turned and looked at Monty. "Why the bemused look, mon petit chou?" Monty shrugged. "I don’t know, Agnes luv—yer like no woman I’ve ever known before."
Agnes walked over to a cheese crate and took a seat. "Well, you have probably never met a woman that’s been on all seven continents and won an Ace Award for her work at International Mouse-O-Graphic."
Monty whistled at that list. "Can’t rightly say that I ever have. But I’ve been on those continents too and won an award fer caber tossin’ when I was in Scotland." Agnes was immediately interested. "Have you been to the caber tossing, too? I was there when Ian MacGregor set the record!"
Monty looked a bit uncomfortable. "Well, It woulda been me settin’ the record, but I spent the night before toastin’ the health o’ the other contestants and got a little toasted meself…" Agnes laughed, and suddenly stopped. "I think I remember you now! Were you the one that tried to toss the judge?" Monty looked alarmed. "Uh, no, that was some other roguishly handsome Australian mouse that looked just like me."
Agnes smiled and looked at him coyly. "Oh, I see! Well, I suppose there is more than one handsome Aussie I might meet at a caber toss. Do you read the I-M-G, Monzy?" Monty took a seat next to her. "I might’ve seen an edition here or there, but I don’t read anythin’ regular. I’m just never in one place long enough."
"I can understand that. For the last ten years, I have done nothing but travel and write. Some days I tire of it, and some days I could not imagine life without seeing a new place every week. Do you find it so?" Agnes asked.
Monty eyed her meaningfully. "Well, I don’t know...unless I had a reason to settle down…." Agnes caught the look. "Well, maybe you will...."
Agnes started coming closer to Monty and then her eyes caught a glimpse of something. She remained totally composed. "Monzy, we are being watched. I believe the watcher is not friendly. We need to hide!" Monty grabbed Agnes’ hand and they dashed for the shadows. Agnes pulled him over to the corner. "Ramrod said there was a large cheese locker over here somewhere.....ah, under the large box. Push, Monzy!"
With Herculean effort, Monty moved the box. Agnes opened the trap door as Monty pushed a smaller box to partially conceal the door. They went down and Agnes found a lamp and lit it. "If they come here, I will have to douse the light. We cannot risk it!" Monty punched his fist. "If any stinkin’ R.O.D.E.N.T. agents come down here I’ll douse them all right!"
Agnes had all her attention on the floor above them. "If they find us, it could mean the end of our mission...or more...." Outside, two shady figures approached the building. Their muffled conversation reached to the cheese locker. Agnes quickly fished for a device in her trenchcoat and put on what appeared to be ordinary headphones. These she connected to a small squarish device that she held up to the floor. "Ah, they only thought they saw someone! They are coming in to check. Douse the light!" Monty blew out the light and held his breath.
Above, the footsteps of the soldiers resounded throughout the warehouse. They stopped on the far side. Agnes moved closer to Monty and whispered, "They have seen our coffee mugs! One of them said they will.....no, now he says they have found something….Oh, smart Percival! He left behind a dummy note telling anyone who was looking for us that we’d left."
Monty had to admire the Britisher’s forethought. "A right smart cookie ‘e is." Agnes began to tense up. "Now they are going to search the rest of the building just in case...." Monty and Agnes held their breath as a crack in the floorboard allowed them to see the guns and dark clothing of the R.O.D.E.N.T agents walking overhead. Then the secret door began to open! Monty made a move to push Agnes out of the way, but she beat him to it, meeting the surprised faces above as the door came open.
"AGGIE!" Monty yelled, as voices shouted above, along with gunfire and sounds of brawling. Monty regained his feet and was almost to the door when Agnes poked her head down, an amused look on her face as she nearly sang the words, "It is safe to come out now!" Monty climbed up and was purely amazed. In a matter of seconds, she’d disarmed, beaten, tied and gagged two large mice who were now unconscious on the floor. "Great gallopin’ gouda, Agnes….I’m glad I’m on your side…."
Agnes got out of the sightline of the door. "There could be more outside. Should we look? It could be a means to get us outside, I suppose...." Monty knew that agents often laid traps for the unwary. "Well, we should wait ‘ere a little while and try ta trick the trickster. C’mon, we’ll stow them below ‘fore they wake up."
"I do not think we need worry too much, Monzy," Agnes said, exposing a miniature tranquilizer dart gun on her wrist that was shaped like a bracelet. "They will be in dreamland for another five hours yet."
As they re-entered the cheese locker, Agnes relit the lamp and brought it up low. The earthy smell of the cool cheese locker pervaded the atmosphere. Boxes of Brie lined the walls, as well as a well-stocked wine cellar. An old victrola rested on top of one of the boxes
"Well, I’d say we won’t suffer too badly for the wait..." Agnes whispered. Monty walked over to a wine crate and gently took out a bottle. Monty’s eyes widened when he looked at the date. **Crikey! This stuff’s older than me dad,** Monty thought.
Agnes found two wine flutes and Monty opened one of the cheese boxes as quietly as possible. With the aid of a slicer, an old tablecloth and a few boxes for table and chairs they are soon as well-set as any couple in the middle of a dangerous mission could ask to be. Agnes raised her glass.
"Salut, Monzy," she said.
"Down the hatch," Monty whispered.
After half an hour, a bottle of Chateau Briand and half a box of cheese were a thing of the past. Agnes’ attention returned to the floor above them. "Monzy, I think it should be safe by now. Go ahead and take a look."
Monty carefully opened the door and crept out. He quietly explored the warehouse for any concealed agents, then continued his search outside. Satisfied that they were safe and alone, Monty turned to go back to the warehouse. Then his eyes came to rest on a single rose adorning a nearby bush, a magnificent shade of crimson. He plucked it and carried it back with him to the cheese locker
Agnes beamed appreciatively when she saw the gift. "Oh, a dwarf crimson! Monzy, how thoughtful! I take it the coast is clear?" "It sure is, Agnes luv," Monty replied. Monty glanced at the victrola and smiled as a thought entered his mind. "Agnes, you any good at dancin’?"
Agnes made a mock curtsey. "Miss Rockenburg’s School of Dance, second place in the regional finals. What is the music?" Monty looked around for a little while, but the only record available was platter on the victrola itself.
"I hope you like to tango, it’s the only thing we got!" Monty said.
Agnes put the rose in her teeth. "Wind it up, Monzy!" Monty wound the old victrola and placed the needle on the record. Then he held out his hand to her. "May I have this dance, milady?" Monty asked, with a touch of flair.
Agnes fanned an invisible fan. "Oh, I am glad someone finally came over here! The other boys haven’t asked me to dance all night," she said, pointing to the two unconscious forms in the corner. The music began--a scratchy version of the classic tango. To Monty’s surprise, she turned out to be an excellent dancer.
Monty chuckled, "Crikey, Agnes luv, is there anything you can’t do?" Agnes was enjoying every moment. "I couldn’t dance so well without a good partner, Monzy. Where did you learn?" Monty looked very embarrassed. "Uh,...well...it’s kinda..." Finally he whispered the words, "Me mum taught me…she said any fella that wants to impress a woman o’ any quality has to know how ta dance."
Agnes laughed brightly and kissed him on the cheek as they reversed direction. "She’s a fine teacher, Monzy. And she is right. I look forward to meeting her someday." To Monty it suddenly felt as though the room had gotten twenty degrees hotter. He tugged at his collar again. "M..meet me mum? Uh, well she’d be a mite curious as to why I’d brung ya to see her."
Agnes squeezed him a bit tighter. "Oh, just for a good woman-to-woman talk, if nothing else. It is rare to meet the maman who teaches her son such fine qualities." Monty was glowing red as her smile bespoke teasing. "Well, me mum and dad are high class people all the way. The essence o’ refinement and breedin’."
Agnes’ expression didn’t change. "No doubt, no doubt. Monzy, if you could have one wish, what would it be?" Monty looked deeply into her emerald green eyes. "Me wish would be to find the woman that would be my perfect match," Monty said, almost unaware he’d said it rather than thought it.
"And to dance into the heavens with her, n’est ce pas? Come, and we shall dance as close to it as we can!" Agnes said.
Suddenly, the music combined with the atmosphere filled Monty with a euphoria unlike any he’d known. His vision blurred and then he was no longer in a cheese locker. He was in a building of pure crystal, with the stars above and below it. To one side, a hundred-piece orchestra had replaced the victrola and divine music was resonating everywhere. Then he looked at Agnes--she was in a flaming red dress and she wore a white lace covering over her head that draped to the floor. She still held the rose in her teeth. Then Monty realized he was dressed in finery too--a tuxedo with white gloves and spats.
Agnes spoke, seemingly having the same vision. "Monzy! You look wonderful this evening!" He took her in his arms and held her tightly as they danced, lost in the magic of the moment. He wanted to spend the rest of his life in her arms, gazing in her eyes.
"Agnes, you look...well, there ain’t a word invented yet that can describe how wonderful you look," Monty said softly. Agnes giggled appreciatively. "We must come here more often, then. Did you pay for that grand orchestra?"
Monty shook his head. "Nope, just found ‘em here. Lucky fer us, ain’t it?" Agnes stared into his eyes. "Wasn’t that nice of them! Though they could learn a new song now and then...." Monty and Agnes’ reflections showed vibrantly in the crystal floor as they glided across it.
Monty chuckled again. "And do somethin’ about that cheese smell. Well, from now on when I smell cheese I’ll always think o’ you." Agnes sighed in his arms. "And I will never smell another rose without thinking of my precieux Monzy!" Monty decided it was time to ask the question that had been dogging him. "So, is there anyone special in yer life?"
At that moment, a knocking was heard at the trap door. "I say, are you two down there?" Percival asked. "I don’t think that ruddy victrola is playing itself...." Ramrod grumbled.
Monty snapped back to reality, but looked at Agnes as if to make sure she wasn’t too good to be true as well. Then he looked up. "Yeah, we’re down here, mate! We were hidin’ out cause a couple of unfriendly blokes waltzed by earlier. We decided ta invite them down." Ramrod opened the door and found himself face to face with Monty and Agnes. His eyes narrowed more than ever. Monty picked up Agnes and handed her up to Ramrod.
Ramrod helped Agnes out of the locker. "Well, at least you didn’t waste all your time. I’ll take charge of the prisoners. We have the information we need."
"Ah, merci Ramrod," Agnes said, giving him a small kiss.
Monty held a hand up. "How’s about a boost, Ramrod mate?" Ramrod ignored him. "We have to be ready to go. My informant told me there will be more agents near here tonight, so we’ll stay until dawn. We should be out of here by six."
Percival helped Monty up from the trap door while Agnes helped. "Would it not be better to try it at night?" Agnes asked. Ramrod checked the windows. "No, we cannot risk it. And in the morning, my informant told me we’ll have a clean shot toward Rouen." Percival also reconnoitered the building, then returned. "If the info your contact gave you was right, we should be okay. So how did you two hold out while we were gone?" There was a glint in his eye.
Monty smiled and looked at Agnes. "Oh, you know, we chatted a bit, had some wine, captured some agents, ate some cheese, danced in each others arms fer hours... nothin’ special." Ramrod’s face went white with anger, but he still had some control left. "And if the Dark Assassin Squad had been lying in wait outside? We would have come back to two corpses! I might have expected that from a mouse."
Monty’s eyes took on a harsh glint. "I might be a little more careful with me choice o’ words if I were you, mate. But we waited fer quite a while after those two passed out and I did a little lookin’ on me own afterward just to make sure we were safe."
"Well, at least you had the sense to leave Agnes in safety. If anything had happened to her..." Ramrod said, his blood up. Percival came between the two, as before. "Ramrod, cool down!" Ramrod counted to five, then continued. "Very well. Just remember this is a professional operation and not a frolic in the countryside." Ramrod walked off to the other side of the building, leaving an icy chill behind him.
Percival returned his attention to the angry Aussie. "Sorry, Monty. He’s not usually this agitated. Coolest customer I’ve ever come across, when facing anything dangerous." Monty knew Ramrod’s type. They could be pushed so far. And then… "Well, he better learn mighty quick who the enemy is. Those agents will look like a bunch o’ pushovers if he gets on the wrong side o’ Monterey Jack."
While the others were engaged in conversation, Ramrod slipped the vial out of Percival’s mapcase which Percy had put down when they came in, and replaced it with another vial. Then he slunk off, muttering under his breath, "Soon, my Aussie adversary...soon you will be gone and I will have what I want."
Nightfall came quickly and soon it was time to eat. After a supper of cheese, wine and a few biscuits that Percy had preserved, it was time for slumber. Ramrod had agreed to take the first watch. Monty had just finished checking his part of the warehouse when he returned to see Agnes very close to Ramrod. She put her arms around him and kissed him. Then she retired and Ramrod came in his direction. Monty had retreated back so as not to be discovered
Ramrod for once seemed in a jovial mood. "There you are. I hear from Agnes that you two had a pleasant afternoon." Monty didn’t know how to take that. "Pleasant? It was down right spectacular, mate."
Ramrod indicated that Monty should sit and they both found boxes. "Monty...if I may call you Monty, I think there is something you should realize."
Monty had no idea where this was going. "What’s that, Ramrod mate?"
"I saw you peeking around the corner at Agnes and I. I asked her for her hand in marriage and she just accepted me. She told me about everything that happened this afternoon, and I forgave her. I am not the most friendly of chipmunks, Monty. I know this. So I will not hold what happened against you. Do you understand?" Ramrod asked.
The expression on Monty’s face read total devastation. His mouth moved but no words came out. Ramrod put a hand on his arm. "I understand your pain, Monty. This mission has been hard on Agnes, and she told me how charming you were. It was innocent, I know. But she has been betrothed to me for several months now. You could not know, so again I do not hold it against you. I only ask that you honor her request and mine."
Monty sighed hard and patted Ramrod on the shoulder. He stood up and turned away from his rival. "Okay, mate. I’ll not stand in yer way...or hers," Monty said, his voice pathetic.
Behind the boxes, Percival’s ears caught the entire conversation. He started to get up and go speak to Agnes. Then he sat back down. After all, it was not really his business. Plus who knew what Ramrod might do if his ruse was undone? Maybe things would work out well on their own.
Ramrod smiled, and the smile was awful to behold. "I knew you were a mouse of honor, or I would not have explained as I do now. Just so you know, she enjoyed the afternoon and speaking with you. You see, I do not deny that her feelings were involved. But unfortunately for you, I came first."
"I understand, mate. It just wasn’t meant to be. Treat her right, mate, or one day this mouse of honor will come to her rescue," Monty said. Monty had hardly heard Ramrod’s words—not that he’d wanted to hear them at all. He retired to his section of the warehouse, away from the others. The lovelorn mouse just sat there in the dark, sinking into dark despair and already pining for his lost love.
Ramrod went to his patrol and when it was Percival’s turn he let the artist sleep, saying he wanted to be alert for anything going on. At about 5:30 in the morning, Monty heard a noise outside. It stirred him from his sleep and keeping low, he made his way about 30 feet from the warehouse. Then he saw them—two forms leaving the far end of the warehouse. The enemy agents? Monty returned to the rear door of the warehouse, thinking that they had overpowered Ramrod and escaped. Then as he entered the door, he looked back to see the moon--and that was all that saved him from being stabbed in the back.
"You shall not have her! She is mine! Mine!" Ramrod cried.
Monty was instantly filled with rage. "You backstabbin’..." Monty punched Ramrod in the face. Ramrod rolled with the punch and came back up, knife bared along with teeth.
Ramrod was out for blood. "I saw the look in your eyes! You’re not worthy of her! You’ll never be! I am the only one she truly loves! And you won’t be around to keep me from being with her!" Ramrod lunged at Monty with the knife.
Monty grabbed the hand that held the knife and twisted, causing Ramrod to drop it, then he pushed Ramrod away. He kicked the knife into a dark corner of the room. Then he motioned for Ramrod to come. "Fight me like a man, ya’ coward!"
Ramrod tried several backroom fighting techniques on Monty, but the Aussie’s blood was up. Soon Ramrod was battered and bruised, but he would not fall. "Better...and better! But I will still be her husband and any man who tries to stop me betrays Agnes!"
Just then, the sound of several planes could be heard overhead. Ramrod reflexively looked at his watch. A red light was flashing on it. "No! Not now!" Ramrod shouted. Monty was caught off guard by the comment. "Whatcha mean ‘not now?’ How’d ya know they were comin’?"
The sound of bombs whistling through the air prevented any answer, but Ramrod was already running. The bombs hit the factory, plastering the roof. The beams cracked and caved in, then one of the lamps fell over and ignited the loose wood. Ramrod was pinned under one of the beams and the fire was building fast.
Monty pushed his way out from under some roofing, then he heard a pleading voice that only moments ago had been sinister. "Help me! Help me, please!" Monty started for him, then he thought of someone else.
"Agnes! Oh, no!" Monty cried.
Ramrod was pinned under a large beam and growing desperate. "Help me out and we’ll find her together! I was wrong to attack you! I was jealous over my betrothed!"
Monty hesitated a moment more, then ran to Ramrod. The beam was heavy and the fire was building. "I’ve gotta get somethin’ to force it off!"
"Hurry, please!" Ramrod shouted. "The fire’s almost to me!"
Monty ran to a nearby debris pile and found a timber of manageable size. The bombs started dropping again as he worked. Then one fell into the building, only it didn’t explode! The fire was running toward it, only a few feet from where Monty was trying to save Ramrod.
"Come on! Come on! It’s going to detonate! PLEASE!" Ramrod yelled, trying to free himself. Monty strained and yelled with the effort, but the weight on the beam was too much.
"I can’t move it!" Monty shouted over the noise of the bombs and fire. "It’s too heavy!"
Ramrod’s face was unforgettably nasty. "You lie! You want her for yourself! You want to take my betrothed from me!"
"No!" Monty shouted back, still trying.
"I can smell your guilt! You stink of it!" Ramrod countered.
The fire was approaching the bomb now. There were only seconds left. "I’m sorry, Ramrod! There’s no way to get you out! I’m sorry!"
Monty ran for it, and heard Ramrod yelling from behind him. "You betrayed me! You betrayed me, you evil mouse! You betrayed...."
The bomb went off, and Monty was thrown to the ground. Debris flew everywhere. Monty went back to the building, but the wreckage that covered the area where Ramrod had been was too thick to even consider looking through.
The fire, those words and his feelings of guilt combined with dashed love, betrayal and death led him to do something Monty almost never did. He ran from the burning building like a mouse afraid of his own life. His tears blurred his vision, and Ramrod’s last words burned in his mind and then they came out his mouth. "I betrayed you, Agnes! I betrayed you! I dinna mean for it to happen! I didn’t! I didn’t!"
Monty turned over fitfully in his sleep, trying to expel the words from his mind, but knowing he couldn’t. Gadget stopped a moment outside his door, caught between waking him or letting him get whatever brand of rest he could. The latter point won, and she passed on while Monty continued to repeat those words and the dream cruelly began again.
Agnes Oakmont is a creation of Chris Silva and Indy. The Rescue Rangers are copyright Disney and used without permission, but with the utmost respect.
Chip, Gadget and Dale, Monterey Jack, Zipper, Tammy, Foxglove, Fat Cat, and Nimnul are copyright Disney. All photos are used without permission. Dale appears courtesy of Aaron's Disney Clipart Collection. The Ranger audio is what the site designer (Indy) has recorded off of television. The Ranger audio is copyright Disney and used without permission.