“This standoff situation has persisted for six weeks now” continued Walter, “And we have done our very best to manage the news situation accordingly. But we are approaching a crisis.”
“One of the stranded clients is Marmaduke Naughton Ruse- youngest son of Peregrinne Naughton Ruse of the famous legal conglomerate: the owners of Marbella and several other systems”
“Och Aye,” said Chick, “We a’ know aboot Marbella. Pals o’ yours I’ve noo doubt.”
“We certainly have mutual business interests with the organisation, yes” said Walter pertly.
“And you’re running out of excuses, is that it?” said Clarissa flatly.
“With possible expensive complications when they realise what a hash you’ve made of things here?” chipped in Anwyn.
“Marmaduke needs to be returned as a matter of priority” continued Walter, clearly struggling to ignore the jibes of the Agents. “His holiday here was the precursor to a serious and life saving operation which is scheduled for two weeks time. He should have left here two weeks ago, but he hopefully maintains sufficient medication to survive for now. We need him off there.”
“’And Call Me Cal’? "asked ’Enery.
“First things first” continued Walter. “We’ve had a message leaked out to us that a large group of survivors have managed to hole up in Castle Paravel.”
“My nephew Benny and his Boys” interrupted Don Guiseppe. “They were keeping tabs on things for me- security and so forth.”
“Castle Paravel looks like a fairytale castle from the outside” explained Walter, “But’s it’s closed to visitors and it’s where our island security team is based. Apparently Benito and his men managed to get some of our clients safely inside- including Marmaduke it seems.”
“How did they get in touch?” asked Anwyn.
“Morse code. It seems they’ve rigged up a lamp in one of the turrets. Regular comms are being blocked of course.”
“And the maintenance teams are separate from the castle” quizzed Anwyn.
“That’s right. Maintenance is basically a series of secret tunnels under Christmastown- now we presume under ‘Call Me Cal’s control. There is a tunnel link to the castle but we assume Benito has blocked it or its heavily guarded.”
“The tasks are thus threefold” continued Walter.
“Firstly, to sneak onto the island: we can hopefully do that via submarine. Once you’re in, you need to reach the Town Hall. Once there you will need to immobilise the anti aircraft systems so that we can send a launch in to the castle. Once that is done we have a strike company ready to go. These will be mostly going to Castle Paravel to rescue the holdouts and establish a beachhead, but one will be landing at the Town Hall- which brings us to you your third task.”
“Which is?” asked Anwyn.
“Rescue Rudolf.” replied Walter. Tears started to well up in Moe’s eyes, as a dimly remembered childhood memory fought its way to the surface of his convoluted brain.
“Rudolf?” puzzled Clarissa, “As in, Rudolf…..”
“The red nosed reindeer, Yes” said Walter tartly. Big Tony will explain". The lurching thug shambled forward.
“We’s gots da only established reindeer hoid outsida Finland on Christmas Island.” he explained. “We’s gotta da GCC Conservation Awoid for dem, and we rotates summa da friendlier females as Rudolf for da punters. Usually only a weeks at a time.” Tony sniffed, dabbing what looked like a tear from the corner of his eye.
“Butta she’s been ’dere six weeks now” he sniffed, “And dey’re very sensitive animals”. He started to sob.
“Tony here is a Galaxy renowned Geneticist and Animal Breeder” explained Walter. “He’s pulled off a miracle with that herd, and they are a great draw for our clients- not to mention dozens of off world documentary makers. Even one doe is extremely valuable: Rudolf must be rescued.”
“To that end we’ll be landing a ship to evacualte Rudolf once you’ve knocked out the defences. Protect her at all costs.”
“Dere, dere” said ’Enery, as he patted Moe on the back, as he also sobbed uncontrolably.
“We’ve provided this” said Walter, reaching up and handing over a spider like palm sized droid, which dug its legs into Clarissa’s shoulder pad and perched precariously.
“Mr. Boomer at your service Miss.” chirruped the droid in a musical voice, “Primed and ready to detonate when we reach the destination control room.” Clarissa looked at the the thing nervously.
“Ooo I can’t wait” said Mr. Boomer. “It will be so exciting. And then I can relax in Robot Heaven with the satisfaction of a job well done. Robot serving girls, all the oil I can drink……”
“Quite keen isn’t he?” commented Anwyn.
“Just a mini nuke” said Walter. “Should collapse the maintenance tunnels and render the entire building unsafe, but it won’t collapse the thing entirely. We can have it rebuilt in a couple of weeks.”
“We haven’t discussed our Bounty yet” said Clarissa.
" I have a simple schedule of fees here" said Walter. “For knocking out the air defences Cr 500,000. For rescuing Rudolf another Cr 500,000. For taking out ‘Call me Cal’, a straight Cr 1,000,000.” ’Enery whistled.
“And what about Cal?” asked Chick.
“Well local time it’s Christmas Eve: Christmas comes but twice a month in Christmastown. What that means is that as the Lord of Misrule Call should be out and about on his sleigh hunting for humans for his Saturnalia Games tomorrow. Bloody combats to the death and that sort of thing. So he certainly won’t be at home, but you may bump into him” replied Walter.
“The priority is knocking out the air defences” he added. “After that you can hunt Cal at leisure.” Clarissa nodded.
“Any more questions?”
“What I’m not clear on”, said Clarissa, “Is where the Alice Gang fit into all this.”
“The Who?” asked Walter, with a show of mild surprise. Clarissa displayed her warrant meter details.
“There was a sighting here” she said flatly.
“I’’ve no idea” shrugged Walter. “Tony?” Big Tony went outside and spoke to the receptionist. There was a short pause.
“Dey ’se on holiday in Girlstown” said Tony. “Alla da extras. Good customers: ’dis is ’dere toid visit.”
“Well” said Walter, “I’m not sure you’d blend in there Except maybe you.” He gestured at Clarissa, who silently fumed.