The Swiss Premier made a strangled noise of frustration, and rounded on Sfret.
"This is no time for your chronic agoraphobia, old friend! Gahh..."
He punched the wall.
"Do you have any idea how often this kind of thing happens to me?" he snarled to the startled Agents. "I am sitting quietly at my desk trying to decipher the legal phrasing on some new economic appropriations bill, and all of a sudden there's a hostage crisis downstairs. Special forces won't move in till they meet with their union leaders. Police are on strike for more cheese. Boo-hoo. So who ends up storming the room, shooting the terrorists and freeing the hostages? Just guess. Sometimes I think I'm the only one doing any governing around here..."
Arthur raised a polite finger to suggest that they move on, but the Premier wasn't finished.
"And then there was the time those Armenian extremists took control of my plane. Vice-Premier wants to shoot it down. The Parliament wants to accede to their demands. So who has to creep through the innards of the plane armed only with their native wit and a shoe-horn, taking out the bad guys one by one through stealth and sheer nerve until the crisis is averted? Me that's who! And I could go on..."
He yanked his tie (with its small Swiss flag motifs) from around his neck and tied it ceremoniously around his head like a bandana. The Premier now presented the appearance of a short, balding kamikaze warrior with the top-button of his shirt raucishly left un-done.
"But right now there's a plot to foil and a girl to save. Lock and load, gentlemen."
With that he shot up the spiral staircase and strode off into the forest.
Arthur and X exchanged bemused glances at the Premier's sudden change of mood.
Hertzel clucked. "Don't look at me. I voted for ze ozzer guy."
Sfret had an idea. "One moment please..."
The monk tore a strip from the hem of trouser leg, indecently exposing a striped sock, and tied it around his head as a crude blindfold.
"Now, as long as nobody mentions anything about widem open spaces or rolling vistas, I should be...how you say?...'laughing'. Yes. Onwards and upwards!"
He sprang into action.
Arthur sighed, and turned to X.
"Better give this a minute. Got that hip-flask of yours?"
The Agents shared a quick non-regulation nip to warm their bones, and X shivered.
"Look at this. Our allies: a loony excommunicated monk and a senior politician with testosterone leaking out of his ears. Personally, I think things would be a good deal better if we still ruled the world." X remenisced
Arthur grimaced, and half-nodded.
"But then, think of all the paperwork."
They stood in silent contemplation for a moment, stamping their feet and jigging up and down in the concrete cold.
"Do you think we should tell Sfret he's trying to climb up Hertzel?" X said.
"It would be kindest, wouldn't it...? Arthur agreed.
Moments later the group, which the Premier insisted on calling Strike Force Schwarzwalderkirchtorte, had re-assembled, and were moving through the dusky undergrowth beneath the trees.
The traffic policeman, armed with notepad and pen, bent down so that his head was level with the window. He looked at Daltmooreby.
"Haven't I seen you from somewhere before?"
Dalmooreby fidgited. "No, I shouldn't think so."
"I'm sure I have..." said the policeman. He placed his pen to his lips in concentration. "Were you on TV?"
"No." Daltmooreby blunted answered.
"Give me a moment, it'll come...Now, what are your names?" He put his pen to pad.
Von Trapp considered this. "Erm... I'm... erm... Josef. This-" he thumbed Daltmooreby, "-is Herman. And that-" to Sreka, "-is... ... Rudolph?"
"And you sir are?", continued the officer in the direction of Vanderveer.
"Karl Grey" he said without batting an eyelid.
The officer looked at him suspciously for a moment, then nodded and waved them on. "On your way then gentlemen"
When they had travelled a short distance away. Vanderveer, feeling slightly uneasy, looked back and saw the Police officer still out side his vehicle obviously reporting back to the police station.
"Do you think he suspected anything?", asked Vanderveer.
"Maybe", replied Von Trapp.
"We can;t take the risk." Vanderveer demanded. "Lets go back and get him".
Von Trapp stopped the car and swung it around. Sreka got out of the car and clobbered the policeman over the head. He opened the boot. Anna had managed to claw down her gag -and shouted "Arthur!" "X!" Sreka put a finger to his lips and went "shhhh!" This was soemhow terrifyign enough to silence Anna. Sreka then shoved the unconscious police officer into the boot as well.
"I hope you know what you're doing Von Trapp", said Daltmoreby.
"Let me worry about the running of this mission." he snarled.
Sreka re-entered the car.
"We heard screaming", Von Trapp said.
"The girl - she was calling for those two Agents." Sreka said, indicated the passanger in the trunk with his thumb.
"Is that so?" said Von Trapp. The he put the car in gear car they went off again, with a new passenger.
The Swiss Premier suddenly let out a short, sharp grunt, dropped to the ground and motioned the others down as well. Rather more reluctantly, they sank into the forest undergrowth.
"We might be being followed." The PM said.
"He's mad." X whispered to Arthur.
"Quiet back there! Watch my six", the Premier hissed barked in a soto voce undertone. "Call is 'Donner' - password is 'Blitzen'. I'm moving out "
Before Arthur or X could protest, he had scrambled through a hedge and dissappeared.
Sfret tapped Arthur on the shoulder.
"I probably should not confide in you. would not have told you this normally, but...I am worried about him. He has a medical condition, you see. He told me so during our sebatticals. This is a state secret. There are pills that can keep it under control, but they are back at the compound..."
Arthur massaged his temples. "What condition?"
"His personal physician diagnosed it as Schwarzenegger's Syndrome. Quite obscure, nearly unique. I did not understand much of it, but apparently the patient sufferers would experience bouts of prolonged machismo, to the point where they would feel no fear at all. This gung-ho behaviour - this running, and shouting, and whatnot - this is a symptom. Hmm. Also, the patients nearly all have a predisposition to enter politics. It really is quite unusual."
Arthur looked at Sfret. Sfret shrugged.
"What could happen if he remains untreated?"
"Donner!" came the cry.
"Follow me" Arthur said picking his way though the bush.
Not too far away, the car carrying the would-be bank robbers stopped at traffic lights.
In the back, Anna struggled to breathe due to the boot's more recent arrival: a rather voluptuous nun who took all the remaining space alongside the unconscious policeman.
she'd overheard them arguing about how the nun wasn't even a threat but Von Trapp had been adament that she be brought down.
"Well isn't this cosy?" said the nun.
With some considerable effort Anna twisted and rolled over.
"Who are you?" she said.
"I am Sister Mary Margaret, call me Mary."
"Well...Mary I could smell petrol when we stoped before - so we must have stopped for fuel. What where you doing at a service station?"
Anna was surprised. "Why would a nun hitch-hike here?"
"I am on a sabbbatical."
"Oh I see."
"So why are you here?" asked Sister Mary
"I...we...are being kidnapped."
"Oh my - that's awful!"
Anna felt the car turn a corner, it felt like they were slowing down.
"Well isn't there anyone who can help us?" the nun asked.
"Like who" Anna squirmed again picking at her her bonds trying ineffectively to wriggle free.
"I have the Lord to watch over me" she said clutching a religious symbol chained across her neck and glancing upward.
"Uh-huh." said Anna wriggling a little harder, still in vain.
I didn't expect you to understand - you are still young - but what about some friends...you must have someone who knows your here and who can come to help you?"
Anna recalled the events of this past day how two guys in dark suits had nearly run her down in a lada then pushed her into a mudy ditch she'd been held hostage by some other guy in a white suit, this time who looked morelike the man from Delmonte. Then, locked in a cell and now kidnaped again! She had been supposed to go to vist family! On reflection this was not turnign out to be a good day. She'd thought of caling to Arthur before but she realised now that they would be a long way away from her and her chances of rescue were slim to non existant.
None of these thoughts were beatryed by her stoic gaze, however.
The Car drew to a stop - Anna could feel it get lighter as the occupants got out.
The boot was opened abruptly and Sreka, Vandeveer, Daltmooreby and Von Trapp were sillhouetted against the bright sky.
Von Trapp stepped forward. "How was your trip?"
Anna was about to answer with a caustic comment when Mary suddenly said: "A bit cramped Freidich, dear. Help and old lady up won't you?" with an outstretched hand.
Vontrapp aided the nun to her feet and her bonds fell losely by her sides. Sreka cupped his big ape-like hads together to give her womenly frame something to step down to.
"Oh you are a good boy Andrei." pinching his cheek affectionately.
Sreka tried not to blush.
Anna stared agog.
"Sorry for the subterfuge dear - we had to know whether those agency friends of yours were following us."
"Agency? What agency? I - !" but he cries were cut off by the trunk being closed.
"Where is the bank Freidrich?"
"Over there" Von trapp indicated to Mary who was busy unhooking her wimple and releasing a flourish of red hair.
"Andrei, binoculars." she commanded.
Brining them into focus she was able to see the front entrance of the Pheffingstohler Bank with it's heavy security.
"This is going to be easy."
He eyes where obscured behind the binnoculars but her grin was huge.
With her boys behind her, Big Momma Mary - 2nd Division nun of the 3rd order of the Cult of The Dying Pilchard - prepared to put her plan into effect.