This post is written including phrases suggested in the comments of yesterday's post.
0730hrs Saturday January 16th, 2010. Ayewarwaddy River, Mandalay Waterfront, Burma
Special Agent Bill Marx walked slowly, with long swinging sweeps of his feet, down the jetty for the Kwe Zoon ferry. The river boat was late, and the noise of the awakening animals in the Sea World next to the terminal was getting to him. It was just coming round to sunrise, and a low haze hung over the city behind him. He lit a cigarette. The sound of an ancient and labouring petrol outboard came across the waters. A ferry official hurried over.
"Ready sir? All okay sir? You look worried sir."
"Me?" Marx took a drag, and nodded at the open bars of the Park, "Nah, just that penguin is looking at me funny."
The official glanced frowningly back and forth from Marx to the distant penguin with increasing speed.
"Don't worry about it."
The official bobbed and scurried away. The boat was in sight now. He swore and flicked the still new cigarette into the water. Smoking was illegal in the US now with the new divided States and the new world order. It was one of the advantages of foreign service that he could still get away with it. The long low flat-rooved boat curved bobbing up to the jetty and just one man got off, wearing a suit, carrying a briefcase.
"I'm sorry I'm late. We had a few problems with New Min's supporters downstream."
"No, it's not. They get just as good intelligence as us, and they're on the lookout. Sometimes I think I'd be better off paddling to Mandalay."
"Heh. Come on. We've got to get to base."
1027hrs, Friday April 22nd, 2005. US Embassy, Cairo
The British aide walked up to Marx's desk and slipped a weighty but slim file onto the papers already there. He couldn't help but sneer at the ashtray.
"Anything else?" snapped Marx.
"Good. Go," said Marx. After the aide had gone, he added, "Bloody British," under his breath.
Marx was in bad temper. The newly constructed city flood gates were holding, but after the bursting of the unknown artesian reservoir underneath Lake Nasser, he was having trouble keeping operations going. Egypt was essentially one huge flood plain, and the water, once outside the levees and dams, just rolled over the country with no resistance. After the biological aspect of the civil war, this was like a cooling balm to Marx's red hot bed of intrigue. Nothing was happening. No alerts, no advances, no operations. All was silent on all fronts. All that was troubling was the news from back home. Political disillusionment motivated divisions claiming totally arbitrary names from the media, looming civil war...nothing good was coming over the wires.
A klaxon sounded in the operations room. A summary of the emergency hit his screen. Shit! A biological warning from the deep south. Old Sudan. Spreading unidentified biological matter. Marx picked up a phone.
"Just about hear you sir."
"What's going on down there?"
"Nothing as far as I can tell sir. Bit of a panic, but I can't understand what's going on. Bit damper than usual after the floods, that's all."
"What's the biological attack?"
"We've got an alert here from a faction leader that he is abandoning camp due to the spread of an unknown biological substance."
"Right, well, I've got it covered, then. He's a bit jumpy at the moment. I'll just whip up some toilet duck and head on over there."
"Explain yourself, Agent."
"Sir, everything is a-ok down here. If after all that bloody water all we've got to worry about is combatting mildew in the Sudd region, that's fine by me."
Marx hung up. He needed to get out of the service.
0655hrs, January 16th, 2004. Cheesy French-themed Posthouse Hotel, Somewhere in England
Marx rolled over. The sheets twisted round him and pulled them off Mary. She sighed.
"How many times have I got to tell you? Please don't pull them off me. I can never get warm again afterwards, and anyway, it's freezing in here."
"Yes dear," said Marx.
"I can't believe it, William. I'm naked and you're not even looking at me. I don't understand you sometimes. Last night in the bar you seemed more interested in the adventures of the all-girl accordion orchestra than you did in me."
"That's just not true, dear."
"Well. Order breakfast."
As he got up to use the phone for room service, Mary pulled the sheets round her rolled herself up in them leaving none. She glared at him from her new bed linen sarcophagus, making a point. Marx went and took a shower. When he came out she was sitting cross legged on the bed wearing a hotel dressing gown, frowning.
"They've only sent up chunky marmalade with the toast."
"And?" said Marx, a note of annoyance creeping in.
"But William, you know I can't abide chunky marmalade. It plays havoc with my..."
"I'm leaving for Cairo this afternoon, by the way."
Mary looked shocked, and Marx left before she regained her composure.
2320hrs, Thursday 17th October, 2007. The Red Oktobar, Orlando, Florida, US
"So what do you think of all the rumption?" asked the guy at the bar next to Marx.
"I don't know." he answered.
"Well, who do you support? The Minnies, Daffies, who?"
"You ask a lot of questions."
"Well, I'm curious. I want answers. Say, what line of business are you in?"
"People pay me to do things, and I do them," said Marx, sipping his whisky.
"We'll pay you, Bill."
"How do you know my name?"
"We need people like you. Ex-intelligence."
"How do you know my name?"
"You're Bill Max. Ex CIA; England, Egypt and Malaysia."
"I'm not Bill Max."
"Sure you are..." said the man, staring worriedly. "Aren't you?"
"My name is Bill Marx, and if you have money, I'm in."
"No. Where'd you get that idea?"
"Automated information drop, not far from here. Honestly, you wouldn't believe the lies the laundromat told me!"
"You're new to this game, aren't you."
"Does it show?""
Marx finished his whisky.
"Which lot are you working for?"
"The People's Mickey Mouse Party"
"You're for the Mouse?"
"It's not done to put it that way, but yes."
0803hrs, Saturday January 16th, 2010. New Mickey HQ, Mandalay, Burma
"Gentlemen, I give you a pig's eye view of the workings of a slaughterhouse."
Gasps sounded across the auditorium. Marx's wasn't among them. He knew what was coming. A voice rang out from the audience.
"May I ask where you got these pictures, Colonel?"
"On this occasion, yes," said Marx's boss. "These pictures, of the very central operations centre of the Porky's main camp in Kuala Lumpur. One of our regional targets. There is...a man on the inside."
He left a dramatic pause.
"The New Porky Pig Nation are planning an assault on the new base in Myanmar set up by The New Pluto Union. According to our intelligence, if we ambush one crucial unit en route to the assault, the attack will fail, but severely weaken the Pluto Union base. Then we can launch a full scale assault, and capture it."
Another hand shot up.
"How will we know which unit to attack?"
"I'm not going to lie to you. Our intelligence runs out here. We're going to have to figure it out ourselves, and it won't be easy. We'll have to run through the known inventories and manpower available, assess their skills and select what we can only hope will be the correct target. It'll be like looking for the best gearing for singlespeed underwater mountain biking whilst on vacation in the Sahara."
A light smattering of laughter greeted this.
"But with your help, for the good of our cause, we will strike a rousing victory that will raise spirits in every New Mickey base around the world, and we will be thrashing the Plutonians at last."