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A tall, slender man sat himself gracefully in a revolving chair and held his head in his hands. His stocky counterpart, holding a small dog on the other end of a leash, stood opposite him and adopted a questioning look on his face:
"Is that good?" he asked.
The tall man sat up, "I was being sarcastic, old boy."
"Oh. I have a lot to learn, eh James?"
"You’re not wrong there Robert."
"What’s bad about it then?"
"The world depends on the outcome of this, our first assignment together, and I have to teach my incompetent brother to be as suave and sophisticated as myself. Now to top it all off we are assigned a sniffer dog by the name of Sex. Nothing’s bad."
"That was sarcasm... hey, I’m not incompetent!"
James sighed, "Sarcasm is an art, Robert."
James walked elegantly out of the office, followed closely by his brother, who tried to keep his feet after getting tangled in the small sniffer dog’s leash.
"All Sexed up, Robert?"
James strolled past reception, bidding a good evening to Moneycent, to which she huskily replied, "Good evening, Agent WD40." This was closely followed by a crude: "See ya". James sighed loudly and stopped.
"Robert, please. We may as well start now. Don’t use that horrific phrase. I can’t bring myself to say it. When you are parting from someone, whether a friend, relative, mass murderer or politician, use the words: "Good evening". In that order."
Robert nodded his head. James straightened himself and continued down the hallway.
"But what if it’s morning?"
"Did you understand the briefing?" asked James, choosing to ignore the question rather than get annoyed at its stupidity.
"Yeah. That Folkard bloke -"
"The head of the Bank of England."
"Yeah, him - he bought Brazil because it owed England so much money..."
"You know how it is: apples, cereal, yoghurt, Brazil..."
"And now he’s threatening to blow up the whole rainforest unless America coughs up loads of dough. And that would mess up the planet within thirty years."
"Correct, Robert. It’s either a hole in the ozone layer the size of my sex appeal or the greatest international economic disaster since my wife went shopping. And we have to stop him. With a sniffer dog. Called Sex."
There was a pause as they walked up the hall together, then Robert turned and asked, "Why do we need Sex?"
"Our parents told me quite a few years ago... oh, never mind Robert. We need a sniffer dog because we want to find out if Mister Folkard was at the casino party last night."
"Oh yeah. N said he would be."
"Yes. Everybody who is anybody was there, and our friend in the casino claims Mister Folkard was invited."
"Why did he tell you?"
James gave an aside glance to his brother and quietly sighed. "Charisma."
"Robert, you are exciting Sex..."
"It’s not me, I think she’s found something!" The pair walked through the deserted casino to the small dog, which was wagging its tail furiously.
"A cigarette. Camel brand. Keep it for forensics."
"So, James, how does the Folkard guy intend to spend all this cash?"
"That, my friend, is a mystery. And if you want to appear sophisticated please refer to ‘the Folkard guy’ as Mister Folkard. And it’s money, not... ‘cash’."
"Whatever you say, boss."
"Where’s the dog?"
"I had Sex but she’s gone now..."
"Robert, please be more careful with that name."
"Hey, look what I found."
"It’s blood." said James, slightly surprised.
"Hey, we make a good team! Me with the blood and Sex with the Camel."
"You did that on purpose..." moaned James, pulling out a test-tube for the blood. Suddenly a gunshot was fired from somewhere by the roulette wheel; the bullet landing right in the middle of James’ test-tube.
"Now we’re playing Russian Roulette," James said sarcastically as he dived for cover under a poker table, pulling his gun out and preparing to fire it at the slightest sign of movement.
"Good evening Messrs Fond," came a voice. The voice belonged to a tall, sinister figure standing in the shadows at the other end of the room. It was holding its weapon very steadily, aimed in the general direction of the poker table. The deep masculine voice continued:
"I thought you worked alone, James. And according to your official record, you have no brother... you’ve been dishonest. We’ll have to try and rectify that..." The steady hand holding the gun in the shadows quickly moved so it was aimed at Robert. James got up, narrowly missing his head on the poker table, and made a slightly optimistic leap towards Robert, who was standing gormlessly in the middle of the room, a few metres away.
"Bye bye, Bob..." drawled the sinister voice as the figure cocked the pistol and fired. The crack of the shot was accompanied by a scream...
But it wasn’t Robert’s scream. Robert still stood there, shocked. James landed with a thud and reached for Robert, then saw what had happened. He paused, then rolled over and laughed. He quickly got up and dusted himself down, resumed his elegant image and strolled across to the figure in the shadows, who was writhing in agony. With a dog attached to his left leg.
"Sex on legs." James laughed, picking the gun up from the floor and calling off the dog. He looked at the gun, checking how much ammunition was left, and he calmly and steadily turned the gun so it was aimed at the tall man who was squirming with pain on the floor, holding his bleeding leg.
"Is that the Folkard guy?" Robert suddenly asked, surprising James from behind as if nothing had happened. James immediately regained his composure.
"Shall we ask him?" James said, bending over and slipping his hand into one of the tall man’s inside pockets. The man tried to stop him, but the worst he managed to do was roll at him and hit him pathetically. James stood there, flicking through the papers jerking every now and then as his leg was occasionally pounded a bit.
Sex walked up to the supine man, lifted a hind leg, and added insult to injury.
"Pay attention, Fonds - we’ve now gathered enough information to - Robert? Where’s he gone?" Queue stopped his briefing, frustrated that no-one seemed to be listening. Robert walked in with a bone in his hand:
"Oh, hello Queue."
"You’re supposed to be attending the briefing, Fond. What on earth is the bone for?"
"Ah, Queue," interjected James, "let me explain..."
After a quick explanation, Queue nodded his head impatiently and prepared to restart the briefing, but he was interrupted. Robert still wanted to get rid of the bone.
"‘Sex wanted’, eh old boy?" James laughed.
About twelve minutes later, Queue managed to communicate his first word to both of the Fonds at once. He led them into his ‘gadget zone’ and strolled across the courtyard:
"You did well yesterday, Fonds. The henchman you caught was posing as Mister Folkard himself." The Fonds weren’t really paying full attention - looking around at all the explosions and traps setting themselves off dangerously around them. Queue continued unabated:
"Apparently there was a bit of an accident at the party last night, and Minister Bennett of Brazil was ‘mistakenly’ killed. Coincidentally, that was the only obstacle that was preventing Mister Folkard from free reign of the airspace over the rainforests." As they walked past a man entering a giant meat mincer disguised as rotating doors, James picked up a weapon from a nearby table for no particular reason.
"Don’t touch that, Fond." Queue warned. "That’s a class A acid gun, capable of squirting a lethal path of corrosive acid for up to 25 metres."
"A glorified water pistol," retorted James. He aimed the gun at Sex who was tagging along behind, and fired. It clicked without releasing anything from the barrel.
"I lied," Queue admitted, "it’s a Mattel." James threw the gun back on to the table, narrowly missing a touch-sensitive atomic mine resting nearby.
"Oh, do be careful, WD40. As I was saying, Mister Folkard is definitely not kidding about this whole thing, and he’s not afraid to prove it. He’s ruthless: if the rest of his threats come true, we’re in trouble." They passed by another man that was preparing to massacre one of the dummies. The man picked up a mobile phone, held it horizontally, pressed a button and watched as the aerial extended to a ridiculous length, lopping the dummy’s head right off. But that wasn’t the impressive bit. The headless dummy suddenly spun, picking up a dart gun and shot the man in the neck.
"We have enough leads to send you on a hunt now," Queue resumed, "and I’ve banged together some equipment for you. Along with all the standard issue stuff..."
James watched Sex with a disgusted look on his face, "You’ve grown rather attached to that infernal dog, haven’t you Robert?"
"Huh? Oh. Yeah."
"A day without Sex is like a day without breath, eh old boy?"
"Man’s best friend!"
TO BE CONTINUED...
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