|The Night of the Kiss of Death
Author: The Wild Wild Whovian PM
The daughters of the ambassador from Pterovnia have disappeared, and their godfather the king is ready to send in troops to rescue them. President Grant's two best Secret Service agents must work fast to avert an international incident.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Adventure/Sci-Fi - Chapters: 6 - Words: 39,144 - Reviews: 10 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 09-04-12 - Published: 07-31-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8380103
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To answer a question someone asked, the two selections Artie quoted in Act 4 are from Song of Solomon chapter 8, and from Shakespeare's The Tempest.
Forgathered on the Wanderer the following day was a smaller but still somber group. The Smilers and their henchmen had all four been arrested and jailed to await trial - and in the case of Herk, that had been no small task! - and now the rest were here on the train: Anushche and the tutor sitting side by side on one sofa, Jim and Irenje on the other (she sporting a pair of distinctly unfashionable "bracelets"), while Artie was standing with an elbow propped on the mantelpiece.
Technically, Irenje being the daughter of the Pterovnian Ambassador, the American agents had no authority to arrest her, and so Dr Rodin by virtue of being an employee of the Ambassador had been deputized to represent the Pterovnian government and place Irenje under arrest. The group was now awaiting the announced visit of an official delegation from His Majesty King Zerildko, coming to deal with Irenje.
Anushche kept sneaking furtive and troubled looks at her sister. Dr Rodin, for his part, refused to so much as glance at the Zernkje; he was plainly still furious at her. As for West and Gordon, it was more a matter of relief that Irenje's murderous career had been cut short, though what might happen once the delegation arrived was far from clear. Would Zernkje Irenje's status grant her diplomatic immunity?
There was a knock at the door. Artie went to get it, opening the door to, "Count Ljudko!"
The Count, his face stony, drew himself up to his full height and announced, "His Excellency Marnko Mijelko Zelnurmofko, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Pterovnia!" The Count clicked his heels and stepped to the side, making room for the entrance of a distinguished gray-haired man flanked by two uniformed officers.
"Vachko!" Anushche jumped from her seat and flew to the Ambassador's arms. A soft and rapid exchange in Pterovnian ensued between the two, then Anushche introduced Mr West and Mr Gordon to her father. The Ambassador shook their hands warmly. "My eternal gratitude, gentlemen, for recovering my daughters. An official royal commendation from His Majesty will be bestowed upon you in a forthcoming ceremony at the Embassy. On a more personal level, from my heart and that of my wife - we have a saying in our country that there is a love that ever lives in one's heart toward those who have done for one a great deed. Such a love shall ever live in our hearts toward you, Mr West, Mr Gordon." His face darkened then. "But now to business. Count?"
The secretary crossed to stand before Irenje, the two officers accompanying him. The Count unfurled a scroll, cleared his throat, then read out from the scroll in a ringing voice in pure Pterovnian. Artie, Dr Rodin and Anushche all started and turned to stare at the Ambassador, who stood with head bowed through the entire recitation.
Irenje for her part growled and spat at the Count. Ignoring her ill will, he finished his proclamation and rolled up the scroll again, nodding to the officers who stepped forward to take charge of Irenje. In the end the pair had to all but pick her up and carry her from the train, followed by the Count.
To the American agents, the Ambassador said, "I do not know how much of that you gentlemen understood…"
Artie spoke up: " 'By royal decree, Irenje Zelnurmofje is to be returned to her homeland of Pterovnia, to there stand trial before His Majesty King Zerildko for her crimes of murder, and to there pay the penalty if found guilty.' "
"I am so sorry, Mr Ambassador," said Mr West.
"As am I," said the Ambassador. "We, ah, shall require testimony from you gentlemen for the trial. I realize it is not convenient for the two of you to travel to Pterovnia to testify in person, therefore I respectfully request of you signed affidavits to be sent along with Irenje for the trial. You, however, Zernkje Anje…" and he now turned to his younger daughter.
Anushche gasped, as did the tutor.
"You, droshche, are to return to Pterovnia to testify at the trial in person. Your heartbroken mother has indicated that she desires to return home as well."
"Dasda, Vachko," said Anushche softly.
Jim leaned toward Artie. "Is what just happened what I think just happened?"
Artie nodded. "Transfer of title. Irenje has been stripped of her position as heir and the title given to Anushche."
"Whose name is actually Anje."
"Yes, we've been calling her by her childhood nickname all this time."
The Ambassador and his daughter had been consulting together in their native tongue, and now the Ambassador said a few words to the tutor, who bowed and hurried out.
"Zernkje Anje informs me, gentlemen, that your baggage car is somewhat overflowing with her and her sister's possessions. I have sent Dr Rodin to supervise the transfer of their luggage to our own private train." He now spoke briefly to Anushche once more, then took his leave of West and Gordon. "Good day, gentlemen."
"Good day, Mr Ambassador."
And now only the three of them remained. Anushche smiled wanly at James and Artemus. "I, I suppose this is good-bye then - and likely forever. James…" She slipped into his arms and hugged him fiercely, then pressed a firm and lingering kiss to his cheek.
"Good-bye, Anushche," said Jim.
She nodded without speaking, tears slipping down her face. "Artemus…"
"Droshche," he said as she embraced him tightly. Into his ear she whispered in Pterovnian, "Would it hurt anything if I were to kiss you, ah…?"
"What, on the lips?" he responded.
Still speaking in her language, Artie replied, "You give to me the exact same kiss you gave to James."
"Dasda, djenko," said she, and obeyed.
Quietly, unobtrusively, Jim pressed his handkerchief into her hand. "Kedurshte djo, Djenko," she said and put the cloth to use.
"I suppose," she said at length, "I should go now."
Artie raised a finger. "Not quite yet. Excuse me, please. I'll just be a moment." And he disappeared down the corridor for a few minutes.
Mystified, Anushche turned to Jim. "What is he doing?"
"You'll know when I do."
Now Artie returned, a massive book in his hands. Crossing to the desk, he opened the book to the flyleaf, dipped a pen in ink, and wrote a brief message. "James?" He passed the pen to his partner, who smiled and added his signature. Artie used a rocker ink blotter on the message, then turned the book so Anushche could see what he had written:
For our katjenje droshche Anushche,
Because I lost your copy after I threw it through the window.
With affection from your djenkozí,
James West and Artemus Gordon
Anushche grinned and glanced at the front cover. "Guerre et Paix," she read. "Tolstoy."
"Tolstoy, yes. My own copy. It's the French translation, obviously. I hope you don't mind."
"It's perfect," she smiled, blowing on the inscription before closing the volume and hugging it to her bosom.
"Something to read on your long journey home," said Jim.
"Dasda, kedurshte djozí." She smiled at them both, then tipped her head. "Do you realize," she said, "that I am the richest girl in Pterovnia?"
"How is that?"
"Every other girl has a djenko - just one. But I and I alone have three! Dr Rodin, and you, and you. How capital!" She gave them each another hug, then said her good-byes and was gone.
Artie closed the door after her. "What a sweet kid, huh, Jim?"
"A droshinje. Did I get that right?"
"Why yes, yes you did, James. Very good."
Jim started for the corridor. "I'll go see if they've finished transferring the girls' belongings from the baggage car - droshtafko."
"Sure, Jim, fine. And then we need to work on those affi… What did you just call me?"
A twinkle in his eye, Jim repeated the word. Then he ducked down the corridor, laughing, as the blotter from the desk came sailing his way.
"Laugh it up, buddy," Artie groused as he went to retrieve the blotter. "You'll get yours; I guarantee you that! Calling me droshtafko. I'm not old! And at the moment, not particularly sweet either. Oh-ho-ho, you just watch out, James. I'll… Oh! Yeah, that's what I'll do!" A wicked gleam in his eye, Artemus settled into the desk chair and leaned back, steepling his fingers and grinning as he plotted the ingenious vengeance he would shortly be taking on his best friend James West.
~~~ FREEZE FRAME ~~~
~~~ THE END ~~~
The links for the final freeze frame and for the end credits collage are on my profile page. Thank you for reading The Night of the Kiss of Death.
My wish list for the cast:
Jonathan Harris as Professor Angus Smiler
Fritz Feld as Dr Rodin
Irene Ryan as Matilda
Peter Falk as Lou
Ted Cassidy as Herk