He taps a combination of elevator buttons, descends three hundred and forty-seven meters, exits, and presents himself to Commander Throckmorton for his briefing.
Throckmorton / Outlines / the mission, presses the hidden button and perspires profusely as the fifty-caliber Webley-Vickers automatic pistol rises from its velvet-lined gun case. It can hit the eye of a dove at six thousand centimeters. The Commando-Spy smiles coldly, slips his weapon into an unseen holster, saying, "Feed my gun." His posture subtly alters: shoulders back, balanced on the balls of his feet. Now he is in Ops Mode.
The Commando-Spy / Ascends / to exit at ground level, seemingly oblivious to the four black-clad Ninja assassins who storm the elevator car behind his back. Nor does he react to the door's hiss as it closes, or the hummmm of the hydraulic ram pushing the car's floor up to its impermeable ceiling. Blood runs down the shaft.
The Commando-Spy / Free-falls / eight thousand meters above Schloss Vorganstein, his devil-may-care grin hidden behind a pulled-down camo Balaclava. He deploys his stealth parawing precisely fifty meters above Point X, to touch down in utter silence, unnoticed by the ever-vigilant Castle guards. Swiftly he pulls seven zippers, converting his camo combat fatigues into an impeccably tailored tuxedo (don't ask about the boots). Invitation at hand, the Commando-Spy infiltrates the Casino, blends with dignitaries and the ultra-wealthy, eyes the baccarat table, but does not play.
Lady Cynthia Chong / Approaches / her tall, svelte torso sheathed in black silk to match her hair and eyes. She links arms with the Commando-Spy and smiles, beckons him to tilt his ear to her lips, whispers:
"You killed my sister. Now it is your turn—"
"It was in the line of duty," he replies, and kisses her for long.
"—But I forgive you," she continues. A tear runs from one glittering eye. "Take care. Das Herguiler plays with loaded dice!"
She turns away.
"That was too easy," the Commando-Spy tells her back.
Throckmorton / Waits / in the underground command center. He continues to sweat profusely whenever his eye falls on the Commando-Spy's empty gun case. The Commando-Spy is in Ops Mode.
Das Herguiler / Gloats / "My robo-delicatessens shall prevail! The master plan is on the march. You are too late." His gold-rimmed monocle barely fits between the rolls of fat around one porcine eye.
The Commando-Spy lays at his feet, bound hand and foot on the three hundred year old Persian carpet.
"Enjoy the view. It will be your last," Das Herguiler sneers.
The Commando-Spy watches him waddle away, whispers, "Feed my gun."
Das Herguiler / Dies / with seventeen iridium-plated slugs in his belly. As does Lady Cynthia Chong, fourteen security guards, and two dozen random guests and foreign dignitaries at Schloss Vorganstein. Throckmorton might admit, should he survive to be asked, that there seems to be this slight problem with getting the Commando-Spy out of Ops Mode.
The Commando-Spy must feed his gun again. After all, the Commando-Spy is one of us.
Luminator Thelms writes somewhere in Southern California. He has, occasionally, had reason to cogitate on the increasingly bizarre 2nd-, 3rd- and 4th-generation derivations of the works of the late Ian Fleming. Thelms is a member of the Long Beach Writers Group, which had absolutely no impact on the present work, due to the Group's scramble to find a new meeting venue after a certain bookstore chain went bankrupt.
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