The Dog in Wolf's Clothing

Rated PG for mild violence and suggestive humor.

I do not own any character already copyrighted to Cosgrove Hall Films. Every other character here, including Judas Franklin and Sabrina Panthera, are my characters, and should not be used without my permission.

Author's Notes: Friends, fellow DM fans, and loyal reviewers of the New DM series (that means you, Ellie ET and Trynia Merin), do I have a treat for you! This, my friends, is a special episode… or, more like episodes, as this is part one of a two-part story!

I've decided to split this story into two episodes, mainly because the whole episode is too big to fit into one fanfic. Also, Part I has a slightly different plot to it than Part II, although they're both parts of the same story.

I hope you like what I have here for you, my friends. Expect Part II sometime next month (as much as I'd like to ignore it, I do have my real life to take care of). Enjoy!

Stiletto and Sabrina walked down the corridors of Baron's Greenbacks' hideout together. Their boss had just called an important meeting in his office; this usually meant that something serious was about to come up.

The dark-furred feline glanced at her Italian friend. "Stiletto," she addressed, "what do you think the Baron has planned?"

The tall dark crow shrugged. "Dunno, exactly," he admitted. "Perhaps we find way to dispose-a of the Danger Mouse?"

Sabrina smirked. "Maybe, but not likely," she replied. "What happened the last time you were called to a meeting like this?"

A small smile crossed Stiletto's beak. "Last this-a happen," he recalled, "was when you arrived."

Her smirk growing wider, Sabrina playfully elbowed Stiletto in the side. "Stop- you flatter me too much," she remarked, thinking for a moment. "So… do you think it'll be a good thing?"

His confidence brimming, Stiletto chuckled and put his arm around Sabrina's shoulders as they entered the Baron's office. "Could-a be…"

Meanwhile, in the Mayfare pillar-box, The world's greatest secret agent- Danger Mouse- and his assistant Penfold, were… gone. Yes, gone- out running errands, strangely enough, which left only one resident at home…

Inside the kitchen, Judas swept a broom back and forth. DM had given him some chores to do while they were away. It seemed simple enough.

Judas sighed heavily. "This is so boring," he groaned, leaning on the broom handle. "Here I am, stuck sweeping the floors, when I could be watching the Lassie marathon!" He sighed, his mind drifting into a daydream. "That Lass Cherie sure is something…"

Snapping out of his dream, Judas walked over to the small radio on the counter. "Let's try some music," he suggested, turning on the radio and fiddling with the dials. "There's gotta be something good on."

After a moment of searching the stations, Judas found what he was looking for- rock music. "Yeah!" he cheered, taking the broom in his hands like a guitar. "Now this is music!"

The pooch howled, mouthing the words as the song played. He turned up the volume, banging his head to the tune. Taking up his "guitar", he skidded across the floor and entertained his "audience".

In the parlor of the flat, the door to the lift opened as Danger Mouse and Penfold stepped out. Although they seemed to be having a quiet conversation, they were soon interrupted by the loud screeching noise of rock music coming from the kitchen.

Quickly, Penfold covered his ears to keep his ears from the deafening sound. "Crumbs!" he cried. "Chief, what's happening??"

"I can't hear you, Penfold!" DM yelled. "I do know where that racket is coming from, though!"

The agent pressed his ears against his head and made his way to the kitchen. Sure enough, there was Judas, still in his own little world. He didn't even notice as his chief made his way across the room and turned off the radio.

Finally, Judas crashed to the floor in exhaustion, breathing heavily as he looked up at an angered Danger Mouse. "Hey," he gasped. "When did you get back?"

DM crossed his arms. "Just minutes ago," he replied bluntly. "I suppose I shouldn't be surprised at what you're doing- I've known you to do this type of thing. I can't understand why you keep doing it, though."

A wide smirk crossed Judas' face. "It's fun," he answered, standing up as Penfold entered the kitchen. "It's just something I like to do."

The young hamster looked about, smiling at Judas. "Well, you're certainly a character, aren't you?" he chimed.

Humored, the agent chuckled. "That's almost an understatement," he murmured.

Yet again, the shrill beeping alarm alerted the courageous trio. It was definitely Colonel K again, no doubt with another important mission. They all rushed into the parlor and over to the videoscreen. "Colonel K! Come in, Colonel K!"

The screen flickered on, and the face of Colonel K appeared onscreen. "Ah, Danger Mouse!" he responded. "Glad I caught you. We have an interesting report from our internal spies at Greenback's base. It seems as if he's expecting a little help."

Of course, Danger Mouse was intrigued by this unique turn of events. "Continue," he pressed.

The colonel fiddled with his keyboard for a moment, searching for the right key. "He seems to have made some ties with other criminals," he explained, finally bringing up the picture of a scrappy black-furred German Shepherd. "His name is Butch- something of a 'henchman-for-hire'. He never stays with the same criminal for long, and the Baron thinks he can change his mind."

DM glanced at the photo of Butch curiously. "What else do we have on this Butch fellow?" he inquired.

"Not much, I'm afraid," Colonel K muttered. "He's hardly ever served any prison time, and whenever he's taken in for questioning he rarely speaks. He keeps changing all his personal information just to spite the authorities; in fact, we're not even sure if he's telling the truth about his full name- Butch R. Wolffe."

The agent nodded, understanding the situation. "It would seem that way," he said, staring at Colonel K. "What are we planning to do about it?"

Colonel K smiled. "I already have a team going after Butch," he remarked. "What I need from you is a reconnaissance mission, between you and Judas."

Quickly, Judas perked his head up. "Wait, wait," he halted. "How did I suddenly get dragged into this?"

Before Colonel K could explain, the alarm on his monitor started beeping. "No time- I have another assignment for a different agent," he replied hurriedly. "Meet with Professor Squawkencluck- he'll explain everything. Over and… and… oh, never mind!"

As the screen flickered off, Danger Mouse took Judas by the wrist and dragged him to the couch. "Come on, Judas," he ordered.

Penfold blinked in confusion; this was all happening to fast for him! "Chief!" he addressed. "Should I stay here or come with you?"

"Yes!" DM shouted as he and Judas disappeared down the shaft to the garage.

Although still puzzled, Penfold knew better than to assume. "Here we go again," he commented, sliding down the shaft (and screaming the whole way down)…

Some time later, the agent and his companions arrived at the lab of Professor Squawkencluck- one of the world's top scientists. What he wanted with them they had no clue, but they would find out soon enough.

Judas gave DM a sidelong look. "Do you have any idea what's going on?" he inquired.

Danger Mouse shook his head. "I'm afraid not," he answered. "Let's hope it's a simple mission- no offense, Judas, but you're not exactly top-notch material for a reconnaissance mission."

The pooch gripped his head in frustration. "Stop it!" he whined. "You know I don't speak French! That's why I switched classes to Spanish, and even then I barely passed that!"

Case in point, DM thought as he rolled his eyes.

At last, the intrepid trio arrived in the main corridor of the laboratory. As soon as the doors opened, a stout little mole and a tall female cougar (both dressed in lab coats) approached them. "Ach, Danger Mouse!" said the mole. "How vonderful it is to zee you again, ja?"

The agent nodded. "Indeed, Professor Squawkencluck," he answered. "So, what have you and Ms. Cougara brought us here for anyway?"

The professor smiled. "I am zure zhat Colonel K has informed you on za zituation vith young Butch," he noted. "Vhat ve are trying to do is to gain access into ze Baron's top-zecret hideout."

A broad smirk crossed Danger Mouse's face. "I like the idea so far," he commented. "What is your plan, exactly?"

"Ah, zhat is vhy ve need young Judas," the professor explained. "Ve vant to be keeping a close eye on Butch, und zend Judas in his place!"

Quickly, Judas shot a look at Professor Squawkencluck and his assistant. "Whoa, whoa, wait a minute," he halted. "I still don't know how I got dragged into this!"

It was then that the female cougar, known as Kitty Cougara, stepped forward. "Well, Judas, we did a scan of the entire organization," she informed. "You came the closest to fitting Butch's actual description. After all, you are both German Shepherds- he just happens to have black fur, that's all."

Of course, Judas was not quite done with his argument. "What about Agent 57?" he inquired. "This is the sort of thing he does!"

Kitty sighed. "Judas, he's a full-time agent," she replied. "He couldn't handle going undercover for that long!"

DM spoke again. "Not to mention that this mission would be to your advantage," he hinted. "You could prove yourself worthy of agent material, work alone, and get a little college credit." He gave Judas a sidelong look and added, "It will be a long, hard mission… but in your case, it will be well worth it."

Still, Judas was unsure about the whole thing. "I dunno," he murmured. "I mean, I've never done anything like this before."

Ms. Cougara smiled. "Not to worry," she chimed. "You'll have plenty of experience here with us. The professor and I will train you to be as much of a professional as Butch is… at least, enough for you to pass as him."

Judas nodded, grinning a little. "I guess I could handle that," he said, shaking hands with the professor and Kitty. "Okay- you've got yourselves an infiltrator."

While both content and intrigued with the situation, Danger Mouse still had one question on his mind. "How do you plan to keep this Butch fellow at bay?" he asked. "He's known to be clever; it would be hard to detain him."

Professor Squawkencluck chuckled lightly. "Ve have already taken care of zhat," he informed. "Agent 57 has already gone to zeek him out; ve should have him zoon enough…"

A tall dark figure strode out of the Underground tunnels and into the streets of London. It was a tall anthro German Shepherd with black fur, sporting a leather jacket, a sleeveless black shirt, and a pair of worn-out blue jeans. He cocked his head, taking in his new atmosphere.

The dog smiled. "So this is London," he commented, taking out a pair of sunglasses. "Not all that familiar with the place, but hey- if it's anything like America, I'm gonna like it here." He walked around and looked about. "So, where are all those girls I've heard so much about?"

At that moment, another shapeless figure sneaked over and hid around the corner. So, that's his weakness, eh? He thought. Well, let's just see how he takes to this lovely little number…

After a minute or two, the dog reached a street corner, waiting for the light to change. He waited, and soon saw something out of the corner of his eye- a beautiful young Setter with a gorgeous figure, a cute little dress, long golden hair, and big blue eyes.

Instantly, the German Shepherd was smitten. He made his way over, calm and cool, and slunk right next to the Setter. "Hey, baby," he purred. "Are you from around here? See, I'm pretty new, and I'm gonna need directions…" He smirked casually and added, "… and I may get lost in your eyes."

Oh, honestly, thought the Setter as she smiled sweetly. "Well, sir, I'm a bit lost myself," she replied, holding out a map. "Take a look here and see if you can find Baker Street for me- I would so like to see that charming Sherlock Holmes museum."

The German Shepherd nodded, taking the map. "Not a problem, baby," he answered, burying his nose in the map. "Let's see… Baker Street, Baker Street…"

Quickly, the Setter reached for her purse. "Perhaps you'd like to come with me?" she suggested. "Afterwards, we can do a little sight-seeing, have dinner together… who knows? Maybe I can take you back to my flat."

A broad smirk crossed the German Shepherd's snout. "Sure, babe," he agreed, still looking through the map. "Whatever you want."

Suddenly, the Setter swung the purse over her head, conking the German Shepherd right on the noggin. He staggered for a moment, muttered something about teddy bears, and finally passed out on the sidewalk.

Feeling proud of "herself", Agent 57 transformed into a more suitable disguise- still a Setter, but a male this time. "A bit too easy there," he remarked, taking his hostage by the underarms and dragging him to a nearby car. "Colonel K and Professor Squawkencluck will be pleased; now the world can rest in peace, with Butch R. Wolffe out of the way…"

The next day, Danger Mouse and his companions arrived back at Professor Squawkencluck's lab. While the other two had private plans with the professor, Judas had come to start his espionage training.

Professor Squawkencluck gestured to an open door. "Inzide, Judas," he directed. "Zhis iz vhere you vill be inztructed how to be un undercover spy."

Curious, Judas poked his head into the room. "There's nothing in here," he noted, coming back out. "What exactly's gonna be going on here, anyway?"

"You'll be taught the bare basics of espionage," DM informed. "Don't expect too much, Judas- it's only a few tricks, some gadgets, and a disguise. True training in this field takes years to learn and even longer to master, but we only have a week at most to put these plans into action, so we need to work fast."

At that moment, a few more agents approached them- a buck, a leopard, and a rabbit. They stared inquisitively at Judas as they walked by, both unsure of what to expect and disappointed that he would not have much time to get the full experience of training. With a disappointed glance and a quick look away, they each entered the room.

The pooch bit his lip. "They don't look too happy," he pointed out.

Rolling his eyes, Danger Mouse gave his fellow agents a quick glance. "Don't mind them, Judas," he advised. "These agents are at the top of their class, and they've already been advised to… take it easy on you." He winked slightly, adding, "You'll do fine- I'm sure of it."

Before he could utter another word, the other three agents stared at Judas and coerced him inside. He whimpered quietly, but nevertheless did as he was told. It couldn't be that bad… could it?

As the doors to the training area were closed off, Professor Squawkencluck guided DM and Penfold further down the hall. "Now, Danger Mouse," he addressed, "ve are taking good care of everything. From vhat I have zeen, Judas iz un quick learner- he zhould be able to handle any zituation zhat may come up."

The young hamster gave the professor a puzzled look. "Wait- I'm confused," he murmured. "So, Judas is going to pose as this Butch fellow. What… what if he runs into him??"

This also caught the agent's attention. "Penfold has a point," he noted. "What are we going to do about Butch?"

The professor smiled. "Zhat has already been taken care of," he assured, stopping in front of an observation window. "Take a look und zee for yourself."

Danger Mouse and Penfold gazed through the glass, into another blank room. A bed surrounded by monitors sat in the very center, and who should be occupying it but a large black-furred German Shepherd…

Surprised, DM glanced at the professor. "Butch?" he questioned, looking back through the window. "What in the world…"

Professor Squawkencluck sighed, approaching the window. "Zhis iz not common practice," he explained, "but in his case, zhis vas ze only option. Keeping him in a conziztent vegetative state iz ze only vay to keep him here vithout him escaping or hurting himself."

Nodding slightly, the agent gazed upon the pooch's face. He didn't know much about this hoodlum, but if the only way to keep him under control was to put him in a coma, he must have been a force to be reckoned with. All the more reason to keep him away from Greenback, he thought. The world is in enough trouble as is; we don't want to double it…

Something strange was happening in Butch's mind. All around him was a total and complete blank- no color, no texture, no brightness. He felt nothing- it was as if he were suspended in midair without anything supporting him.

Of course, Butch had no idea where he was, but then again he was barely awake in his own mind. Physically, he was unconscious; spiritually, he was merely sleeping. While he was unsure of why he had opened his eyes, something else told him to drift back to sleep.

This place he was… he knew it was neither heaven nor hell. It wasn't an afterlife of any kind; he knew for sure that he wasn't dead. What he didn't know or suspect was while his body was merely a shell of who he was, his soul was still tied to it.

So, there he was- suspended in animation, in any and every way possible. His whole person had entered a state of temporary sleep; he would awaken soon enough…

Evening settled over the skies above the Baron's secret hideout. It was a very secluded area- no other people or buildings for miles around. Few people even suspected something was there, and even fewer knew for sure.

Sabrina laid back on the flat rooftop of the complex. Ever since she found out about this new character joining their leagues, she was both curious and nervous. Butch R. Wolffe was the type of guy no one messed with, or so she had been told. Something about that unnerved her.

The sound of footsteps alerted the dark-furred feline. She raised her head and pricked her ears. Gazing into the darkness, she was relieved that it was merely her friend approaching. "Stiletto," she addressed.

Smiling, the Italian crow came closer and sat beside his friend. Behind that smile he could sense her confusion. "You feeling okay, Sabrina?" he asked.

With a heavy sigh, Sabrina turned her head back to the sky. "I dunno," she admitted. "I guess I'm just nervous about the new guy."

Curious, Stiletto leaned in with attentive ear. "Cie?" he inquired.

"He's supposed to be this big-shot criminal that everyone respects," Sabrina continued, pausing for a moment. "I have mixed feelings about him… he could be a nice guy, but then again what if he turns into a control freak, or a lecher, or even one of the good guys?"

Stiletto laughed lightly. "Is nothing to worry of, Sabrina," he assured. "Butch, he stay awhile, then he go- not gonna stay long. Aside, is-a known world-around!"

The female feline gave Stiletto a sidelong look. "I suppose you're right," she sighed, "but I'm still unsure about him. We could be in good competition here, Stiletto- I'm not about to lose this job."

The henchcrow sat there, somewhat unsure of himself. He wasn't quite sure what he could say; he knew that a kind gesture could ease her, but he was still unnerved about her harsh nature.

When no reply came, Sabrina tilted her head and looked at Stiletto. "Well?" she queried. "Anything you have to say?"

Regretfully, Stiletto shook his head. "Not-a really," he answered. "I do have-a this, though…" He paused a moment, then leaned forward and hugged her tightly.

After a moment of taking in the surprise, Sabrina returned the gesture with her own embrace. "Thanks," she whispered in his ear. "I needed this."

A light chuckle escaped Stiletto. "No trouble…"

Judas screamed at the top of his lungs as he flew through the air, hitting the wall and gradually sliding down. "I'm okay," he moaned, his voice muffled by the wall. "I'm okay…"

At that moment, the door creaked open. Danger Mouse and Penfold stepped inside; they saw their fellow agents, but it took them a little longer to find Judas (the whining groans became increasingly hard to ignore). "Hey, guys," he greeted, although still slightly unconscious.

Rolling his eyes, DM turned his attention to the agents. "Any progress?" he inquired.

The buck tilted his head. "Not much," he replied. "His agility needs further training; he can get up to speed quickly enough, but his sense of direction that needs work."

The leopard stepped forward. "He certainly has no problem with the arsenal," he remarked. "He's better with a sword than he is with arrows or a gun; he handles any weapon well, but his precision and accuracy leave much to be desired."

The rabbit smirked. "Hand-to-hand combat seems to suit him best," he commented. "He's very strong, and as Agent Buck Fifty noted he's also very quick. He could take anyone he wanted to… but psychologically, he isn't quite ready for it."

A smile crossed the White Wonder's face as he turned to Judas, still flat on the floor. "Well, at least you're progressing well enough," he said, gesturing to the door. "Come along now- Professor Squawkencluck needs to see you."

The pooch chuckled. "Sure," he answered. "I'll be out in a minute." He turned to the training agents, giving them his sad eyes. "Help me out here… I can't feel my legs…"

Some time later, the agent and his confidants waited in an examination room. The professor had steadily been checking up on the pooch's progress in physical training; of course, there was more to be done than just training.

The door opened, and Kitty Cougara stepped inside, with a clipboard in her hands. "Okay, Judas," she said, scanning the clipboard, "it looks like you're doing well, given how much time you have to condition." She glanced up at Judas. "Now, we need to work on your physical appearance."

Judas cocked his head slightly. "So…" he inquired.

Kitty pointed to a door at the other end of the room. "We need you to strip and take a shower," she instructed. "Don't come out until you've scrubbed every last inch of your body. Understood?"

A wide grin crossed Judas' face. "Perfectly," he answered, standing and walking over to the door. "Say, I bet there's room for one more in here…"

"Just get in the shower!" DM snapped. "We need to have a word with Ms. Cougara and the professor."

As Judas made his way into the showering room, Danger Mouse turned back to Kitty. "Now, I'm not questioning these methods," he assured, "but what exactly do you and the professor have planned for my recruit?"

The cougar smiled. "We've hooked up the shower in that room to a special chemical-producing agent," she explained. "When mixed with water, it can change the color of any type of fur to another type. We engineered this concentration for Butch's distinct type of fur, so Judas will be hardly recognizable."

Nodding, the agent continued with his questions. "Anything else?"

With a small smile, Kitty began flipping through her clipboard notes again. "We have specialists to aid him with clothes, transportation, and non-weapon accessories," she went on. "More specifically, we're also giving him colored contact lenses and some cosmetics."

That last detail caught Penfold's attention. "Cosmetics?" he repeated. "Cor- he's not a girl!"

The lab assistant giggled, realizing her misuse of the term. "Butch has a few scars on his arms, and one by his left eye," she replied. "The cosmetics we will be using is mostly the kind used in film productions." She sighed happily. "It's always nice to have a husband in show business."

Before DM or Penfold could ask, a familiar scream alerted them. The door to the showers swung open, and there stood a panicked Judas. "Something's in the water!" he cried, tugging at his new coat of rugged black fur. "My fur changed! It's not supposed to turn black or anything!"

For a moment, there was an awkward pause. Danger Mouse, Penfold, and Kitty all understood the confusion, even if Judas was still caught in it. "Hey!" the pooch screamed. "Am I the only one here who's bothered by this??"

Ms. Cougara chuckled. "Let's get you down to the cosmetics department," she said.

Judas' eyes shot wide open. "Make-up?!" he yelped, turning to Danger Mouse and Penfold. "Guys, help me! I'm not gonna put on any make-up!"

The young hamster began to speak, but he was softly stifled by the agent. "No, no," he whispered. "Let him find out for himself. He's going to have to learn this, too…"

Later that night, Professor Squawkencluck and Ms. Cougara stayed later than usual. With Butch around, there was more paperwork to be done to ensure his health and security, and their secrecy. This was an operation that only the agency knew about; as far as the rest of the world was concerned, it was a crime against creation. In other words, they were treading on eggshells just to keep Butch's location a secret.

The professor sighed. "Ach, zhiz iz zo ztrezzful," he said with a yawn, turning to his assistant. "Kitty, vould you mind locking up, dear?"

Kitty nodded in reply. "Of course, professor," she answered.

"Vonderful," Professor Squawkencluck responded, walking out the door. "Zo tired…"

Once the professor had gone, Kitty waited a moment. She placed the last of the files in their proper order, and locked the cabinets with a small key. The professor is right, she thought. All this extra work is wearing me down…

The assistant's eyes drifted, finally falling on Butch. She bit her lip nervously; she knew he was unconscious, but somehow he was still threatening. If looks could kill, that countenance would have paralyzed her.

A sudden beeping alerted the young cougar. She looked around the room, but still could not find the source of the noise.

As Kitty drifted towards the corner of the room, the beeping was replaced by a harsh raspy voice. "Butch!" he yelled. "This is Baron Greenback!"

Shocked, Kitty covered her mouth. Oh no, she wondered. No, no, no… please, no…

"It has been almost a week since you last contacted me," Greenback continued. "You were supposed to see me the moment you arrived in England!" He growled in frustration and added, "Meet my henchmen in Hyde Park tomorrow at noon; otherwise, consider yourself 'out of a job'."

With that last remark, Kitty slowly made her way over to the corner. Butch's neatly folded clothes laid there on the table, beside the coat-rack where his jacket hung. Sticking out of the left pocket was a small device, something like a cell phone, when in fact it was a communicator.

Sighing heavily, Kitty took out the communicator. "I hate to do this to them," she murmured, "but it looks like we're going to have to speed things up a bit…"

A bright yellow car zipped through the London streets the following morning. Danger Mouse held the wheel steady as the Mark III careened back and forth through traffic, hurrying to get to their final destination.

Judas sat rather uncomfortably at the other side of the car. He was in full disguise- with his rugged black fur, colored contacts, and faux eye scar, he could have been easily mistaken for Butch. Even his clothes were similar to the canine criminal's!

Of course, inwardly, it was still Judas, and that was easily shown in his attitude. "Dude, I don't think I'm ready for this!" he complained. "This is all happening too fast!"

A heaved sigh escaped the agent. "Get used to it," he groaned. "We were going to spend today getting you used to Butch's speech pattern and relations, but it seems as if we had to cut that short."

Upset, Judas shot a look at his chief. "What the-" he snapped. "See that?? Even you know I'm not ready!"

Rolling his eyes, DM took out a booklet and gave it to the recruit. "Here's your information," he commented. "I suggest you at least skim it before meeting Greenback's henchmen in the park."

As Judas skimmed the booklet, Penfold gave Danger Mouse a puzzled glance. "Chief," he addressed, "I know this must be awfully important… but, why go through with it if it causes so much trouble?"

The agent smiled. "It will be well worth the trouble," he admitted. "Not to mention, if Judas manages to do well on this mission, he may have the chance to go on more in the future."

The American pooch perked his ears in sudden interest. "Hey, that's right!" he agreed, chuckling lightly. "You know, maybe this won't be so bad after all."

It was then that the Mark III approached Hyde Park. "Alright, Judas, here we are," Danger Mouse announced, pulling up beside the curb. "You have all of your equipment with you?"

Judas nodded confidently. "I have the cell phone communicator, the spy camera sunglasses, and the advanced Swiss Army knife," he assured, pointing to all his little gadgets. "Relax, man- I've got it covered."

Somehow, I don't find that convincing, DM pondered as his recruit stepped out of the car. "You know the plan- get as much inside information as you can find within the Baron's hideout, then Penfold and I will capture you and take you back to the professor's lab. Do you understand that?"

"Yes! Perfectly!" Judas insisted. "I can handle it! Geez, I'm not a two-year-old!"

Smirking, the agent gave his recruit one last glance. "Good luck, Judas," he murmured. "You're going to need it."

Touched, Judas nodded in reply. "Thanks."

As the Mark III drove back into the busy streets of London, Judas looked around Hyde Park. "I guess I'd better get going," he muttered, slipping the sunglasses over his eyes.

After wandering around for a minute or two, Judas eventually ran into Stiletto and Sabrina- literally, he walked right into them when he wasn't looking. He jumped back, but quickly regained his composure. "Watch it, you morons!" he snapped convincingly. "I could-a tripped!"

The crow and the cat glared at their new "friend" questionably. He wasn't exactly what they had been hoping for. He seemed smaller and less masculine than when they saw his picture… but, he fit the description closely enough (and so did his attitude).

A smirk crossed Judas' face. "Henchmen?" he spat. "So, the old toad's too much of a coward to show himself in person?"

"Is no coward," the crow quickly replied. "Is just… slightly paranoid." He held out his hand in a greeting gesture. "I am called Stiletto, and-a this here is Sabrina."

The pooch shook Stiletto's hand, and then glanced over at Sabrina. "Aren't you a fine feline?" he purred, holding out his hand.

With a cold sneer, Sabrina took Judas' hand and crushed it in her own. "I don't take kindly to strangers," she hissed. "You earn my trust, or there will be problems."

Grimacing at the intense pain he was feeling, Judas withdrew his hand. "Fine with me," he growled between his teeth.

Stiletto and Sabrina looked at each other, smirked, and nodded. They turned around and gestured for their canine accomplice to follow. This was their guy all right, so they needed to get back to Baron Greenback as quickly as possible.

Judas chuckled. Too easy, he thought. Way too easy… this whole mission is gonna be a piece of cake…

An old rusty car shakily made it's way down a winding dirt road. The passengers had been traveling for a few hours now, but they were not too far from their destination.

The car approached a huge factory, hidden in the shadows of the forest, and came to a stop near the entrance. Stiletto and Sabrina exited the car and went around to open the door for Judas. "Let us go," the crow snapped. "Barone is-a waiting for you."

Carefully, Judas squirmed his way out of the car. Man, this car must be older than my grandpa, he thought. I'm surprised they still use this thing!

Sabrina couldn't help but notice Judas' wariness of the car. "Hope the ride wasn't too rocky," she said. "It's an old car, and we don't get much to pay for a new car, or repairs for this hunk of junk." She leaned in and whispered, "Just don't tell the Baron we told you."

The pooch nodded. "Don't worry about it," he assured, following the two henchmen inside. "I don't mind that much anyway…"

Inside the hideout, Judas dropped his jaw in amazement at the long dark hallways. He had suspected it to be like this, but now that he was actually there… it was all the more real to him. To say the least, he was quite confused, and somewhat afraid.

A small grin crossed Stiletto's beak as he and Sabrina lead Judas down the hall to Greenback's office. He was glad that the pooch was nervous; it made the henchcrow look more experienced, and perhaps the new guy would learn to respect him (as so very few had).

The three henchmen soon found themselves before a barricaded doorway. Stiletto punched in a few numbers on a keypad next to the door, and a voice over the intercom answered. "Stiletto, Sabrina," the hoarse voice advised, "I see you have returned with Mr. Wolffe. Please, come in."

The door opened, and the three henchmen made their way inside. It was a relatively small office; it could have been bigger, had it not been for the computers and other mechanical devices cluttering up the place. At one end of the room, Baron Greenback was seated leisurely at his desk, stroking his pet caterpillar Nero. "Come closer, Mr. Wolffe," he addressed. "I have yet to see you up close and personal."

Judas swallowed hard. Please don't let him recognize me, please don't let him recognize me, he thought as he approached the desk. In the name of all that is right and fair, please don't let him recognize me!

The Baron squinted slightly, looking over the pooch's profile. He stood from his desk to further examine him. "You seem less forceful than what you advertised," he admitted. "You don't look strong enough to break someone's neck, or fearsome enough to send wild beasts crawling into the shadows." He furrowed his brow and glared at the dog. "From what I heard of your last supervisor, you hardly did your work and were barely there."

Although nervous, Judas forced himself to remain calm. I'll be lucky to make it out of this interview alive… and just where did he hear about Butch anyway? There aren't ads for these kinds of people… are there?

Of course, Greenback wasn't quite finished. "However," he continued, "you do seem to fit your description, right down to the scar 'round your left eye."

With a heavy inward sigh, Judas smiled a little. "Thanks," he replied, suddenly stopping himself. Wait a second- Butch wouldn't say that… and if he did, he wouldn't be much of a villain! "I mean… about time you noticed."

Just the same, Baron Greenback had become wary of Judas. "That's odd," he noted, letting Nero crawl onto his shoulder. "Your voice… you don't sound at all like you did when we last spoke with one another."

Gasping in shock, Judas then thought of an idea. He coughed violently and sputtered, "Sorry, sir… I kinda have a head cold, sir…" He coughed a little more, then regained his composure. "I'm feeling better now," he replied in a slightly deeper voice.

A chortle escaped the Baron. "Well, then," he commented, returning to his desk, "it seems as if I've made a sound decision. However, to be perfectly clear, I must see your abilities in action."

Before Judas could convince him otherwise, Greenback pushed a button on his desk and a trap door opened beneath the pooch's feet. He yelped as he fell suddenly down the chute into an open arena.

Picking himself up from the ground, Judas glanced at his surroundings. It was a wide open room, with a wide screen on the far wall; beneath that screen was a tightly-shut doorway, and since there was no other way out, he found himself stuck. "Hey!" he shouted. "What's the big idea??"

The screen flickered on, and Baron Greenback came into view. "The big idea, as you so put it, is your so-called skill," he answered. "You speak very highly of yourself- claiming to be the world's best gangster- but I will soon be the judge of that."

In a matter of seconds, large wooden boards sprung up from around him. All of them each had a crude painting of a certain white mouse…

Judas chuckled. "Nice artwork, Picasso," he spat.

"Never mind the artwork!" the Baron shouted. "Just get rid of them!"

With a deep sigh, Judas gave the Terrible Toad a small smirk. "If you say so…"

Suddenly, the pooch leapt into the air, breaking off the headboards easily with sweeping kicks. More soon popped up, which he soon took care of with a few choice karate chops (along with a few choice words for the splinters in his hand). Many more kept popping up, but using his own moves the pooch kept bringing them down faster than more could be brought up.

Baron Greenback smiled. "Impressive," he remarked, pushing another button on his desk. "Let's see how he fares against a moving target."

Five sleek robots dropped from the ceilings. They were androids, humanoid robots devoid of any detailed features. They looked just like an artist's drawing model, only metallic and on a larger scale.

Swallowing hard, Judas tried to focus. "Let's hope this works," he mumbled. "If I don't blow them to bits, they'll do the exact same thing to me!"

All five robots came charging at Judas, and quickly he jumped straight up, using the force of the colliding robots to gain altitude. When at last he could jump no higher, he fell back down- feet first- into the mangled pile of barely functioning robots.

As the screen flickered off, Judas fell back onto the scrap metal heap. "Man, that smarts," he whined, rubbing his feet. "I'm surprised my legs haven't been shoved up into my torso after that!"

The tightly-shut doorway of the arena opened; Greenback entered quietly, followed closely by Stiletto and Sabrina. The toad had an almost expressionless look on his face, while the two henchmen did not look too pleased.

The pooch stood from his place, gently brushing off the debris. "So, Baron," he addressed, "what did you think?"

For a moment, there was silence. A broad smile then crossed the Baron's face, and he said, "Welcome to my headquarters, Butch R. Wolffe."

Relieved, Judas felt another inward sigh escape him. "Great," he replied. "So… now what?"

Baron Greenback gestured to the outer corridors. "Back to my office," he advised. "I have a few documents that you'll have to sign."

While walking down the hallway, Judas couldn't help but notice Stiletto and Sabrina. They sneered at him, insulting him non-verbally so the Baron wouldn't notice. This wise guy was stealing their thunder, and as much as they liked stealing, they weren't too happy about this.

To say the least, Judas was amazed. These guys are jealous of me, he realized. Man, do they look angry… boy, am I going to have to put up with a lot…

The Mayfare pillar-box was unusually quiet that evening. No music came blaring down the hallway, and the television remained off for the most part. Without Judas around, the secret pad seemed more peaceful (and certainly less noisy).

Danger Mouse was seated in the study, catching up on a little reading. The book in question, Secrets of a Criminal Mastermind, had been sitting on the shelf gathering dust for quite a while; he supposed it could be put to good use and started reading where he left off.

At that moment, young Penfold sauntered into the room with a cup of tea. "Here you are, sir," he squeaked. "A nice cuppa, just the way you like it."

"Thank you, Penfold," DM replied quietly. He was so engulfed in the book that he hardly noticed much else.

Penfold spoke again, this time with more concern. "Chief?" he addressed. "Are you sure everything's alright with Judas?"

The agent sighed. "Positive," he murmured. "I haven't received a call from him yet, but I'm sure he's fine."

It was then that a quiet beeping alerted the mouse and the hamster. "Underdog to Mighty Mouse," a familiar voice said. "Underdog to Mighty Mouse. Come in, Mighty Mouse!"

Rolling his eyes in disbelief, Danger Mouse answered the communicator. "Judas," he growled, "the next time we go on a mission that requires the use of code-names, at least use a reference other than cartoon characters!"

At the other end of the line, Judas sat somewhat comfortably in a room furnished to Butch's liking- all his personal belongings were there and in order. "You know, you take this whole thing too seriously," he snapped. "Sure, it's risky, but whose to say I can't have fun while on the job??"

DM groaned. Even when we're half a country apart, he's still irritating, he thought, getting back to the subject. "Never mind that! Just tell me… what have you found out?"

Judas shrugged. "Not much," he admitted. "Greenback came dangerously close to finding out who I really was, especially after tossing me into this arena- I had to fight for my life! He may be a criminal, but he's very thorough with his henchmen… speaking of which, his current henchmen now have a vendetta against me."

With a slow nod, the agent glanced back at his book briefly. "Very good," he commented. "I'll be sure to turn in this information to the agency."

The pooch smiled. "Thanks, DM," he remarked. "I know this whole mission is gonna be rough, but it'll be fun… and worthwhile."

Danger Mouse smirked a little. "I know it will," he replied, remembering a bit of information from his book. "A word of advice, Judas- it's always important to stay in-character when around the Baron or his henchmen, but do keep in mind who you really are."

Judas laughed. "Relax," he assured casually. "I've got it all covered. It's not like I'm gonna go nuts or anything!"

Somehow, Judas, I don't entirely trust that confidence of yours, DM thought. A smile and a chuckle escaped him before he shut off the communicator and returned to his book.

Needless to say, Penfold had stayed silent the entire time. He glanced up at his chief questionably. "DM?"

The agent closed the book and returned his assistant's glance. "This case worries me just as much as it does you," he answered. "Believe me- I don't want Judas to be there. Still, it's a great opportunity for him to gain experience in the field, and he seems to like his independence."

Still, this did little to calm the young hamster's nerves. "What if…" he stuttered, "what if… what if something bad happens to him?"

With a heavy sigh, Danger Mouse stood from his chair and knelt down to Penfold's level. "Look," he began, "it's not very likely that anything bad will happen to Judas- he has me and the entire agency to guide him." He paused and added, "If something does happen… well, let's just say we'll be ready for it…"

Early the next morning, just as the sun was rising, Judas laid curled up under the blankets on the bed. Greenback may have had a harsh exterior, but he did pamper those he knew well. Most of the henchmen, the pooch had learned, had tolerable living conditions, but not quite as comfortable as his room.

The digital clock next to the bed read 6:00 AM. Without warning, the alarm blared into the pooch's ears, awaking him from his sound slumber.

Groaning heavily, Judas reached out his hand and slammed down the snooze button. He muttered something, then curled back up under the covers.

A moment later, the alarm blasted again. Without even getting up, Judas slammed his hand on the snooze button. "Sleep," he whimpered. "Must sleep…"

Once again, the alarm sounded, and needless to say, Judas wasn't the only one getting irritated. A certain henchcrow from the next room over could hear it loud and clear, and quite frankly he was getting tired of hearing that noise!

The Italian henchman arose from his bed, walked out of his room, and stormed over to see Judas. Opening the door, he opened his mouth to curse the pooch, when suddenly the digital clock flew across the room and hit him square on the head.

As the crow hit the floor in overwhelming pain, another figure approached the door. "What is going on here??" the female feline growled, seeing her friend on the floor with a digital clock lying beside him. "Stiletto? Are you okay?"

Stiletto nodded wearily. After being hit in the head with that clock, he too realized how tired he really was.

Sabrina turned her head towards the inside of the room, where Judas laid curled up under the covers. "Sleep," he moaned.

Rolling her eyes, Sabrina stepped into the room, grabbed Judas by the collar, and glared straight into his eyes. "It's time to wake up, pooch," she hissed.

Judas blinked his eyes weakly. "Already?" he yawned. "But it's 6:00 in the morning!"

"Tell me something I don't know," Sabrina snapped. "The Baron already told you about the rules around here; we get up at 6:00 AM here, and so long as you're working for him, that's when you get up too."

Of course, Judas was still none too pleased about being stirred from his sleep. "You know, there's a word for women like you," he spat. "You're just lucky I'm too tired to think of it."

Dropping the pooch like a sack of potatoes, Sabrina turned back to Stiletto. "Come on, Stiletto," she pressed. "We'd better get going." She helped up the henchcrow, and after a moment they went their separate ways.

Well, I'm already up, Judas thought as he stood from the bed and stretched. I might as well get going, too…

About an hour or so later, Judas was all dressed and ready to go. He had taken some extra time to mix the black fur formula into his bath water and redo the eye scar, but apart from that it was the usual morning routine.

Striding down the stairwell, Judas began to notice the faint scent of oil. He was heading for the workshop; that was his first assignment for the day, to help Stiletto and Sabrina work on the Baron's latest project.

When at last he reached the underground floor, Judas opened the door and stepped inside the massive garage. He looked around, not seeing either of the henchmen at first. "Hello?" he shouted, his voice echoing around the room. "Butch R. Wolffe, reporting for duty!"

It was then that Stiletto and Sabrina rolled out from underneath a huge metallic structure nearby. "About time," the feline hissed, standing and gesturing to the machine. "Well, what do you make of it? Think you can get it running?"

The pooch cocked his eyebrows. "Doesn't the boss have a key for it or something?"

Growling, Stiletto grabbed Judas by the hand and brought him in for a closer inspection. "Machine is-a broken," he remarked, handing a wrench to the new henchman. "Assume you would-a know how to fix?"

Unsure, Judas stood there, biting his lip nervously. They think Butch knows how to fix things… but, I can't do that! I can't even balance my own breakfast… darn those eggs and their circular shells!

"We're waiting, pooch," Sabrina spat.

With a heavy sigh, Judas took the wrench and crawled underneath the machine. A whole mess of wires ran askew, many tangled and some disconnected. There were so many loose mechanical parts that any one of them could have been the problem!

Judas smirked, adjusting his sunglasses. "I might as well snap a few photos of the stuff while I'm here," he murmured, glancing at the wrench out of the corner of his eye. "Now… what to do with this…"

A sharp pull on the pooch's pant-leg alerted him. "What do you see in there?" Sabrina snapped.

As several thoughts raced through his mind, Judas did what he could to come up with an excuse. "Well… I do see a few problems," he began. "Your thing-a-ma-bob is disconnected from the what-cha-ma-call-it, the do-dad is over where the do-hickey should go, and you're missing a lot of junk and stuff. Also, your thingy could use a little tweaking."

A long pause followed Judas' "report". I hope they bought it, he thought. I really hope they bought it…

Quickly, Judas was pulled out from under the machine. Stiletto and Sabrina made their way back inside the machine to have a closer look. "What the heck were you talking about??" the cat snapped. "There's no way you-" Suddenly, she stopped. "Hey, Stiletto, what happened to all our junk and stuff?"

Surprised, Stiletto scanned over the machine's inter-workings. "Dunno," he replied. "I must be having bad memory; how this-a do-dad get over where do-hickey is?"

To say the least, Judas was shocked. Wow, he pondered. I was just taking stuff off the top of my head… and I was right? Man, how many times does that happen??

Again, the henchmen interrupted Judas' thoughts. "Hey, Butch!" Sabrina snapped. "Get your butt down here- we need all the help we can get!"

The pooch grinned. "With pleasure…"

That afternoon, Danger Mouse and Penfold decided to pay Professor Squawkencluck a visit at the laboratory. Both they and Colonel K were heavily involved in the investigation, so naturally they had to keep in touch with each other.

Professor Squawkencluck glanced over the reports carefully. "Ja, ja, very good," he murmured, looking back up to the agent. "Zese reports are coming along vell, Danger Mouse. Ve vill have to look into zhis…"

DM nodded. "Of course," he agreed. "Tell me, professor- how long did you say Judas might be out on this mission for?"

The professor shrugged. "A veek or so, maybe another," he guessed. "It vould depend on how much invormation Judas vinds und vhen the Baron plans his next attack."

A light sigh escaped the agent. "Thank you, professor," he said, drifting off a bit. "Before we leave, I'd like to have a look at Butch again. What room is he located in?"

Reaching into his pocket, the professor pulled out a key with a few numbers on it, as well as the agency's insignia. "Zecond floor down, zhird door on za left," he answered, handing the key to the mouse. "Cannot miss it."

Without a word, just a subtle nod, Danger Mouse turned around and gestured Penfold to follow. They found a stairwell and began making their way downstairs.

Penfold, again, had been quiet. His chief had been unusually secretive lately, buried in that book of his and filing the reports Judas had brought in. He had been told that it was merely the stress of the workload, but the young hamster knew that something else was bothering the agent.

Of course, DM was already aware of Penfold's suspicions, but he always tried to calm him down, to make sure he wouldn't worry more than he needed to. The truth was that all this unnerved him- it was for a great cause, no doubt, but at what risk?

As the agent and his assistant exited the stairwell, the mouse couldn't help but feel restless. All this anxiety is wearing me out, he thought. Perhaps I should have never agreed to this…

At last, Danger Mouse found the room he was looking for. He inserted the key, turned the knob, and entered the room. There was Butch, lying unconscious in bed, while Ms. Cougara handled some fluids at the other end of the room.

Intrigued, DM approached the cougar. "What are you doing here, Ms. Cougara?" he asked.

Slightly startled, Kitty turned around and smiled. "I'm mixing fluids to give to Butch," she explained. "We've found that we can keep him in a deeper, longer vegetative state if he's kept healthy."

While the agent and the scientist continued their discussion, Penfold wandered over to Butch's bedside. He grabbed a stool and set it beside the bed, stepping up to get a closer look at the pooch. Crikey, he's a big one, isn't he? He thought. Good thing he's asleep, or I'd surely be-

Suddenly, Butch's mouth began to twitch in the form of a snarl. Penfold screamed at the sight of those sharp teeth, falling over backwards.

Upon hearing the noise, Danger Mouse and Kitty ran over to the bed. The mouse took his friend aside as the cougar injected the pooch's fluids. "Penfold," he gasped, "are you alright?"

After a minute of deep breathing, Penfold attempted to explain what happened. "Butch… his lips… they just moved! On their own, I tell you! He was going bite my head off, DM!"

Before DM could respond, Kitty interrupted. "I apologize, Penfold," she squeaked. "That's just a minor muscle spasm- it happens from time to time. He wasn't really snarling; it's just a reflex from his stressed muscles."

Smiling, the agent patted the young hamster on the back. "We'd better get going," he advised, approaching the door. "Thank you for your time, Ms. Cougara. If anything develops with Butch, please let me know."

"Indeed I will," Kitty replied as Danger Mouse and Penfold left the room. "Good-bye!"

Yet again, Butch had a muscle spasm- his fingers twitched slightly, as if trying to grasp something. Even his arm moved around a little.

With a heavy sigh, Kitty went back to the bedside, holding Butch's hand. "I'll need to increase the tranquilizing toxin by a few grams the next chance I get," she murmured. "For now, all he needs is a soft touch…"

With a heavy sigh, Judas rolled out from underneath the huge piece of machinery he and the other henchmen had been slaving over for hours. It had been quite some time since they left the workshop, and only a few of their projects were done. The machines were so complex that just about anything could go wrong, which was partially why fixing them took so long.

As the pooch wiped his brow, he glanced up at the clock hanging on the wall. "7:00 already?" he groaned. "No wonder I'm so tired!"

It was then that Stiletto and Sabrina crawled out from beneath the machine. "Speak for yourself," the cat commented. "Both Stiletto and I are up much later than this doing work."

Suddenly, Judas thought of something. These guys do so much work for the Baron, he pondered. I wonder if they ever get out enough… say, there's an idea…

A broad smile crossed Judas' face, tilting his sunglasses slightly. "So," he said, "I don't suppose you two would mind skipping out of work and having a little fun, huh?"

Sabrina stopped what she was doing and turned to face Judas. "Depends," she murmured. "What's fun for you?"

Again, Judas tried to capture Butch's persona the best he could. "Oh, you know," he began. "Bars, nightclubs, racetracks- whatever's open."

Stiletto chuckled. "Attention is appreciated," he assured, "but work here is-a more important."

Without a second thought, Sabrina threw in the towel (literally, right into poor Stiletto's face). "Sounds like a plan," she replied, turning to her friend. "Stiletto, I'm quitting early. Would you mind closing up for me?"

After removing the sticky, oily rag from his face, Stiletto gave Judas a cold sneer. It was one thing to disrespect him in front of peers, but impressing Sabrina was another matter entirely.

Of course, Judas noticed that expression right away. That's not the same look he gave me earlier, he noted. That reminds me of all those times I was caught talking to another guy's girlfriend… or sister… or close friend…

Another idea came to Judas. "Hey, Sabrina, why don't you go on ahead?" he suggested. "Stiletto and I will meet you outside."

Shrugging, Sabrina turned around and made her way outside. She knew what Judas had been insinuating- they were going to have a little "guy talk".

Judas sauntered over to the washbasin where Stiletto was washing his hands. "You sure you don't wanna come with us?" he inquired.

"Duty to Barone is-a more important," Stiletto snapped.

The pooch shook his head. Either the Baron really has this guy brainwashed, or he's trying to hide something, he thought. "Come on, lighten up! We all need to relax a little, right?"

The henchcrow didn't bother to respond. He was too flustered to even look at Judas.

At that moment, Judas hatched one last idea. "Okay, fine," he remarked nonchalantly. "I'll just go off and have fun… alone… with Sabrina…"

Quickly, Stiletto turned around and faced Judas. He gave the pooch a cold stare, and finally answered, "Allow me to be getting coat."

Smirking, Judas leaned against the wall while he waited. Maybe I should tell DM about this… no, no, no- I'll handle this case…

Meanwhile, Danger Mouse seated himself in the parlor of the pillar-box, still reading that book he was so busy studying. He had even taken a pencil and used it to make notes in the margins.

As the agent continued along, his eyes came upon a certain passage in the book. "At times, a criminal mastermind can be used to turn one against another. A simple form of blackmail is most commonly used among the majority of criminals; however, a true genius can use this technique and take it to an extreme. They prefer to use a complex brainwashing method, convincing their captive- through the use of horrible memories of the past and dire circumstances of the present- that the way of criminal life is based upon retribution to those who have wronged them. Once more, they go a step further and suggest that their captive become a criminal as well, to escape the complications of their own life. Also, since most of these criminals give their captives "time to think it over", these ideals become even more embedded in the innocent mind, and he willingly (and unwittingly) is enslaved to the criminal mastermind himself."

That passage worried DM somehow. I haven't considered that, have I? He thought. I'm sure Judas can take care of himself… but still…

Penfold came sauntering into the room. He sat down next to Danger Mouse, still musing over what he had discovered. He said nothing, and gave no indication that something was bothering him; the young hamster could tell, just the same. "Chief?"

DM gave Penfold a sidelong glance and smiled. "No word from Judas yet," he responded. "He did send us a few photographs around noon, though- a look inside some of the Baron's inventions, no doubt."

Nodding, Penfold smiled back. "Shall we send him a message?" he asked.

The agent considered that thought for a moment. "What a good idea," he murmured, taking out his communicator. "We'll have to send him a text message, to keep sure that none of the Baron's henchmen suspect anything."

The young hamster twiddled his fingers a little, waiting for his chance to type his message. "I hope he's doing alright," he said quietly.

Danger Mouse sighed heavily. "So do I, Penfold," he replied. "So do I…"

Judas sneaked quietly through the dark hallways of Baron Greenback's hideout. He had gotten back with Stiletto and Sabrina perhaps an hour ago; they weren't out for very long, since the only place they could really go was a pub five miles down the road.

Finally, Judas found what he was looking for. "Stiletto's room," he whispered to himself, listening carefully. "Running water… he must be in the shower. Perfect timing!"

The pooch quickly whipped out his pocketknife. He flipped up the pick, fiddling around with the lock until the door lightly swung open. Score, he thought.

After waiting a moment to make sure Stiletto hadn't noticed, Judas tiptoed inside. The room was well kept, for the most part, but it was most likely due to the fact that nothing had been touched. The crow was more often than not out of his room and down in the workshop, so naturally his quarters were relatively clean.

Then, something caught Judas' eye. A large desk was set up against the wall; the only things on the desktop were a lamp, a journal, and an old computer. The journal was left open, and in plain view.

A wide grin crossed Judas' face. "Jackpot!" he chimed, running over to the journal. "Now I can get some real dirt on Greenback's plans!"

However, Judas soon found himself in disappointment. He picked up the journal and began reading… complete gibberish (at least, that's what it was to him). "What's all this?" he questioned. "It looks like another language!" He stopped himself, realizing what he overlooked. "Oh, yeah- he's a foreigner, isn't he?"

Just the same, this did little to detour the pooch. He took out the cell phone communicator and programmed it to decipher the language Stiletto had written his journal entries in. "Okay," he murmured, "let's see what we have here…"

This Butch fellow, as the Baron told us, is supposed to make our lives easier. Apparently, he seems to think that he will help us in our next mission- raiding the main warehouse of
Beijing Boom, the world's largest supplier of fireworks. We plan on taking the Frog's Head Flyer there in a few days, and grab as many as we can before the big
score at Fort Knox.

Judas blinked in surprise. "Fort Knox?" he repeated. "What's going on with that? I never heard about this Fort Knox deal."

However, the translator continued…'

I, for one, don't take kindly to Butch at all. He's nothing but a lazy, troublesome, good-for-nothing American mutt! The Baron said it himself- I bet this kid never really did an honest-day's work in his life.

What's worse is that Butch can get away with it. One glance, and you're liable to agree with him on almost anything. He's cunning, I'll give him that, but he uses it for all the wrong reasons.

There is an even worse prospect… I believe he has eyes for Sabrina, and she too is responding. It's infuriating- Sabrina is supposed to be my girl, and I won't let some conceited canine take her away from me!

To say the least, Judas was surprised. At first, he felt insulted that Stiletto would label him that way (especially calling him "American" in a condescending manner of speaking). It was that last paragraph, though, that struck him as odd. "Wow…" he muttered. "I didn't mean to come on to Sabrina; was she really coming on to me? And Stiletto… I never knew… I mean, I always saw them together, but I figured… wow… now that's… interesting."

Suddenly, Judas pricked his ears. The water stopped running in the bathroom. "Stiletto!" he yelped.

Quickly, Judas put the journal back where it was and bolted out. He slammed the door behind him, running feverishly down the hallway. "Safe, for now," he gasped. "That was a close one-"

It was then that Judas, inexplicably, ran straight into something and fell flat on the floor. I have got to start looking where I'm going…

"Butch?" a familiar female voice queried. "You okay?"

The pooch's ears suddenly went flat. Oh, shoot, he thought, picking himself up and gazing into the dark eyes of a certain feline. "Sabrina, babe. What's up?"

Sabrina cocked her eyebrows. "Apparently, not you," she commented, helping Judas to his feet. "I was looking around for you. After we came back, I just wanted to check with Stiletto; he seemed pretty upset while we were out."

A small smirk crossed Judas' face. Maybe Stiletto got it all wrong; Sabrina sounds like she cares about him, he noted. "Yeah, that's where I was, too- I caught him while he was in the shower, so we couldn't really talk."

Nodding, Sabrina inched closer to Judas. "Well, since he's decided to get a little well-earned rest," she murmured, "how's about you and I get to know each other a little better?" She grinned suggestively, gently nudging the pooch in the side.

Surprised, Judas quickly flipped up his sunglasses to help conceal his shock. Then again, maybe Stiletto was on to something after all, he pondered. "Uh… well… you see…"

To say the least, Judas' hesitation confused Sabrina. "Butch?" she inquired. "Are you okay?"

Taking a deep breath, Judas nodded in reply. "Yeah, sure," he breathed, turning about to directly face Sabrina. "Listen, babe, you're cute and all… any guy would be lucky to have you as his girl… but, the thing is… I'm kinda already taken."

After a brief moment of silent bewilderment, Sabrina laughed. "You're joking, right?" she cackled. "You must have tons of other girls going nuts over you! How can you love just one??"

Judas shrugged. "That's just it," he admitted, taking out a small black book. "I already have tons of girlfriends, and they all think I'm their steady guy! It's risky business to have this many admirers!"

The female feline crossed her arms. "That's not like you," she muttered, coming closer to Judas. "What are you hiding, Butch?"

Swallowing hard, Judas quickly came up with an excuse. "Well," he remarked, "let's just say that I'm doing a favor for someone else here."

Confused, Sabrina backed off. "Give me a hint," she said.

The pooch shook his head. "Not a chance," he replied.

Sabrina sighed heavily. "You know, Butch, you really are something else," she commented. "I would have figured a guy like you would have jumped at the chance to spend some time with me, but here you go and defend another guy who, I'm guessing, has a crush on me."

A wide grin crossed Judas' face. "You got it," he answered.

As Sabrina rolled her eyes and walked away, Judas chuckled lightly. That felt great, he thought. This must be what it feels like to be someone's guardian angel…

It was then that Judas saw a certain someone hiding around the corner. He stepped out, wearing nothing but a towel around his abdomen and a puzzled look upon his face.

Biting the corner of his lip, Judas sighed. "Stiletto," he murmured.

The Italian henchcrow straightened himself and approached Judas. "I hear what-a you and Sabrina speak about," he informed. "Why you do that?"

Shrugging, Judas hung his head. "Well, I wasn't about to steal another guy's girlfriend," he answered, glancing up at Stiletto. "Sabrina is your girlfriend, right?"

Shocked, Stiletto stuttered for a moment. Had it really been that obvious?? "Is-a no your business!" he barked.

Judas chuckled under his breath. "Whatever," he muttered. "Look, like I said, I don't really care. Sabrina is cute, but honestly- I have more girlfriends than I'll need for a lifetime." He smirked and added, "You can have her- it's not like I'm standing in your way or anything."

Stiletto just stood there, baffled. This kid didn't want Sabrina for himself? He figured that Butch might have been a little generous with other henchmen, but wasn't this being a little too generous??

Of course, Judas really couldn't care less. Sure, Butch would have jumped at the chance to take Sabrina, but considering the new information he had gathered that didn't matter anymore. Besides, if he survived this mission, he could have used that same information for blackmail (okay, so he wasn't being whole-heartedly generous, but such a secret did have it's advantages).

Turning around, Judas started walking back to his own room. His first day on the job wasn't too bad, considering all he had learned.

At that moment, Stiletto suddenly remembered one of the reasons he had gone out in his bathrobe in the first place. "Ai, pooch!" he shouted, holding up a small device. "You forget this!"

As Judas looked back, he saw what he had forgotten. The communicator! Oh, shoot- I hope he didn't…

The henchcrow walked up to Judas and gave the device to him. "You stay out-a now," he growled. "Is not-a proper place to be snooping in." With that, he turned away and stormed off to his own room.

Sighing in relief, Judas put the communicator away. "Good," he breathed. "Well, I'd say this has been a productive day…"

Meanwhile, the agency continued to have problems of their own. They soon found it very difficult to keep Butch's location a secret, but thankfully it had only been the wandering eyes of ne'er-do-well tabloid newspapers, which very few believed in the first place. Still, they couldn't take their chances, and in turn heightened security.

Kitty Cougara stayed later than usual, much later than even Professor Squawkencluck. This had gone on for the past week or so, and some of her colleagues were beginning to worry.

At last, Kitty finished her work for the night. She turned her head and saw Butch in his peaceful slumber. He's still unconscious, she noted. Good- I can put him on the IV and the machines, then I can head home for the night.

As Kitty began setting up the monitors and the IV fluids, Butch's face twitched again. His eyebrows fluttered, he bit his lip, and his nose twitched… and yet his eyes remained closed.

Quickly, Ms. Cougara noticed this. She turned about and readied a sleeping toxin. I can't stay here all night, she worried. If he wakes up, heaven only knows what he'll do!


Shocked, Kitty dropped the syringe she was holding and sharply turned about. "Oh, dear," she whispered.

Butch's lips were not only twitching; now, they were moving. "Stop," he repeated in a weakened voice. "I know what's gonna happen- you'll stick something sharp in my arm, and I'll go to sleep again."

Her whole body shaking in fear, Kitty stepped back. "You're awake??" she cried. "But, that's impossible! How?!"

A heaved breath escaped Butch. "I can't feel anything," he continued. "I can't see or hear anything, but I can sense someone's presence. Please, I want to wake up."

It was then that Kitty realized something- Butch was only semiconscious. He was dreaming, and his dreams were trying to tell him where he was.

Butch gripped his bed-sheets. "Please, wake me up," he murmured. "I don't want to stay like this." A snarl crossed his face. "If this is Greenback, or one of his associates, I don't want to work for you anymore. I want to go home!"

Ms. Cougara regained her composure, picking up the syringe. This was an intense dream, and more likely a nightmare. He knew where he was, spiritually, and he did not want to be there anymore.

Cleaning out the syringe, Kitty glanced back at Butch. In due time, he could wake himself up and escape his nightmare. However, there were consequences involved that she was not ready to risk.

With a heavy sigh, Kitty filled a sterile syringe with the sleeping fluids. She approached Butch, and quickly shot the fluids into his arm.

Needless to say, Butch was only too quick to notice. "No," he breathed. "Please, no… don't send me back to sleep… I… I…" After a moment, his words trailed off and his body loosened up. He was back to sleep.

Once more, Kitty set up all the machines for Butch, to provide him life support for the night (just in case). She still felt guilty for sending Butch back into his nightmare, but nevertheless she had a job to do.

As Kitty exited the room and turned the key to lock the door, she gave her patient one last glance. Pleasant dreams…

A week and a half had passed by. Judas rarely contacted Danger Mouse verbally (or anyone from the agency, for that matter). However, report sheets were always coming in, so it was a sign that Judas was both working and working for the agency.

Another late night came to the Mayfare pillar-box. DM leaned over his work-desk, half-asleep, analyzing the papers Judas had sent him. Most of the papers were of schematics for machines and photographs of key locations, directions and secret information.

Penfold quietly tiptoed into the room. He knew it was late, but he saw his chief still awake in his study, and thought a spot of tea might help him.

Suddenly, a loud beeping interrupted the scene. Penfold screamed and fell backwards, tea spilling all over him, as Danger Mouse checked to see who was contacting him. It was a text message…'



SUBJECT: Final Mission!!


This is it! Tomorrow is the final stage of Baron Greenback's plan!

Okay, you already know that Greenback plans to head to China tomorrow afternoon and raid the Beijing Boom factory, to steal all the fireworks to use in some of his later schemes.

Here's the plan- once Stiletto, Sabrina, and I start loading all the stuff onto the Frog's Head Flyer, you come in. I'll run off to take care of some stuff on the ship, when actually I'm gonna rewire it so it'll explode once it gets off the ground (I figured out how to do it- it's simple, really). Meanwhile, you take care of Stiletto and Sabrina. I'll run off the ship and "finish the job", and when we get into a safe spot, you can guide me to the Mark III and we'll get the heck out of that place!

I can't wait to get back to the pillar-box. I miss all my stuff, and I promised my parents and Father Pygg that I'd set up my new WebCam and talk to them soon. I can't put that off too much longer!

I'll see you and Penfold soon. ;) Later!

-Judas Franklin

Danger Mouse smiled. He was happy to know Judas was doing well, and that this whole fiasco would be over soon.

Wearily, Penfold picked himself up off the floor. "Chief," he whined, "would you like a cup of-"

"Darjeeling?" DM guessed. "Of course, Penfold." He glanced at his assistant curiously. "You might as well make yourself a cuppa, Penfold- you really need to calm down a bit…"

The next day, Judas sauntered down the hallway with Stiletto and Sabrina. All of them were carrying boxes, supplies for the next mission just hours away.

Judas wiped his brow. "I'm beat," he gasped. "I think once we've gotten all this stuff out of the way, I'm gonna take a quick shower before we leave."

Sabrina gave the pooch a sidelong look. "That's a good idea," she replied.

Stiletto slowly turned to Judas. Over the course of the last couple of weeks, he had grown to trust him considerably, but needless to say he was still wary of Sabrina's new direction of attention.

Soon enough, Judas and the others arrived in the garage. They trodded over to the Frog's Head Flyer and set the boxes down inside.

Curious, Judas poked around the box he was carrying. "What do you think's inside?" he wondered aloud. "What could be so heavy and yet needs to be carried around like that?"

"Probably weapons or tools," Sabrina answered. "That's usually what Greenback has us carry, anyway."

Nodding, Judas saw the switch box of the Frog's Head Flyer. "Hold on," he murmured, walking over. "I wanna check something out quick."

The pooch opened the control box and peeked inside. Great- everything's all set, he noted. Now, all I need to do is connect the blue wire to the green socket, the green wire to the red socket, and the red wire to the blue socket, and I'll-

Suddenly, the switch box closed on Judas. Stiletto stared down at the pup questionably. "Is-a everything all-left?" he inquired.

Slowly, Judas stood up. "Yeah," he said. "I was just checking."

The dark-furred feline rolled her eyes. "Stiletto, leave him alone," she spat. "Butch is only looking out for us- he's making sure everything's in order."

Frustrated, Stiletto stormed over next to Sabrina, taking her aside. "Sabrina!" he snapped. "What-a is that?"

Of course, Sabrina didn't see the problem. "What?" she muttered. "He looks at the control box, and all of a sudden you get all huffy. I should be asking what's wrong with you."

Clearly, Stiletto was at his wit's end in this case. "You make-a yourself so… open to him," he explained. "You would-a be having no idea how he-"

It was then that Sabrina closed Stiletto's beak, quickly and harshly. "You're overreacting," she hissed. "Butch is one of the most charming, witty, and handsome men I've ever met, and you suddenly get suspicious because he looks at a control box?" She shook her head. "Stiletto, you're gonna have to step aside- really, you're a great friend, but you're being way too protective. Besides… I really like Butch."

Those last words echoed in Stiletto's mind. Butch had told him that he had no intention of taking Sabrina away from him, but apparently that's not what she thought! Even after Butch had clearly told her he wasn't giving into her advances, it only seemed as if Sabrina wasn't going to quit; she was going to try harder, regardless of what anyone thought!

Stiletto pushed himself away, isolating himself in a dark corner of the ship. As far as he was concerned, there was only one way to get rid of Butch…

An hour or so later, Stiletto waited outside Judas' room. He checked his jacket and pulled out a huge monkey wrench; he stroked it gently, holding it close to his chest. He was going to take care of Butch, before he became a serious threat: knock him out, hide him in the Frog's Head Flyer, and wait until they were over an ocean to drop the body. It was the perfect plan, and neither Sabrina nor Greenback would be any the wiser.

The door to the bathroom slammed open, and Judas walked out with a towel around his waist and a towel over his shoulders. "That really hit the spot," he sighed. "I can't wait until-"

Suddenly, Stiletto stepped out of the shadows and into the room. He kept his head low, to keep the pooch from seeing his hidden intentions.

Surprised, Judas stared at Stiletto. "Hey," he greeted. "You just about ready to go?"

The henchcrow said nothing. He stood there in the doorway, not moving or making a sound.

This display slightly confused Judas. "You okay?" he inquired.

Again, Stiletto did not respond. He took a few small steps closer.

It was then that Judas figured out the crow's motives. "Oh, I get it," he muttered. "Look, dude, I told you- I don't care about Sabrina. She's you girlfriend, and besides- I'm not staying for much longer."

The Italian crow chuckled under his breath. "You don't-a know how true you are," he commented, looking up. He glared at his opponent, but soon saw a very different face. Judas??

Indeed, Judas had overlooked something- his own disguise. The black fur formula had washed off in the shower, and he had forgotten to rub in a second concentration of it. Once more, the scar around his eye was peeling off, as he had forgotten to take it off before getting in the shower.

To say the least, Judas was perplexed by the situation. "What?"

A sly grin crossed Stiletto's beak. "Perhaps," he murmured, "you would-a like to see in-a the mirror?"

Although still puzzled, Judas felt completely safe in this environment. "Okay, sure," he answered, turning around to look in the mirror. "Huh… now what seems wrong about this picture…"

At that moment, it hit Judas. Oh, shoot! He thought. My fur stuff! My eye-scar! I look… I look like me!! He turned his head around slowly. That means… oh, no… I don't like where this is going…

Quickly, Stiletto swung the monkey wrench around and smashed it on the unsuspecting pooch's skull. The pup staggered for a moment, before finally falling unconscious onto the floor.

Stiletto grinned. He grabbed Judas by the underarms and started dragging him down the hallway. The Baron would surely reward him for capturing an enemy spy, and Sabrina would see the error of her lustful ways and come crawling over to him.

Of course, the response was not exactly immediate. "Stiletto!"

The henchcrow stopped in his tracks and saw Sabrina storming down the hallway. "What the heck is wrong with you?!" she snapped. "What are you doing with Butch?? What did you do to him?!"

Before Stiletto could explain, Sabrina pushed him out of the way. She gazed deeply at that handsome face she had fallen in love with… and then realized her terrible mistake. "Judas?!"

Judas snorted and muttered in his own unconsciousness. It was truly unbelievable- Sabrina had fallen for a good guy!

Disgusted, Sabrina let Judas' body hit the ground. "I think I'm gonna be sick!" She jumped up, turned around, and ran down the hallway towards her own room.

The Italian crow let a small smile cross his beak. It wasn't exactly how he wanted Sabrina to find out, but hey- at least she knew now. He picked up the body and continued down the hallway; only one person left to tell about this astounding capture…

Some time later, Danger Mouse and Penfold were seated at the kitchen table. The agent flipped through the morning newspaper as his assistant gazed intently at the clock. Occasionally, he would glance at the alarm and the video-phone in the other room, but mainly his focus was on the time.

Of course, DM was not oblivious to any of this. "Penfold," he muttered, "a watched pot never boils, you know."

"Who's watching a pot?" Penfold piped up. "I'm watching the clock!"

The agent rolled his eyes, turning another page of the paper. "Penfold, shush," he murmured.

Suddenly, the alarm went off. This was it- the call they were waiting for!

Quickly, Danger Mouse and Penfold rushed into the parlor. On the video-phone was none other than Colonel K himself. "Ah, Danger Mouse," he addressed. "Today's the last day, eh?"

DM nodded. "Right-o, sir," he answered. "Personally, I hope the experience hasn't left a mark on the old boy."

The colonel smiled. "Right, then," he mumbled. "I suppose you'll be on you way. Over and under."

Again, the agent rolled his eyes as the video-screen flickered off. "Right," he repeated, gesturing to the couch seat. "Come along, Penfold!"

It was then that Penfold noticed something- the communicator. "Oh, chief!" he squeaked. "Should we take the communicator?"

Slightly flustered, Danger Mouse shook his head. "Leave it, Penfold," he advised. "We're going to see him shortly, anyway."

Although somewhat unsure, Penfold respected his chief's orders. "Erm, right, DM," he said, following the White Wonder onto the couch and into the garage below…

Judas awoke in a daze. The room was spinning somewhat, and all he could see was a bright light above him and an indescribable figure before him. "Ooh, my head," he murmured. "Wha happened?"

A hoarse chuckle alerted the pooch. "I see you're coming to," he wheezed. "Perhaps now would be a good time for you and I to discuss our terms."

Though he still couldn't see that well, Judas already knew who it was. "Greenback," he growled.

The Baron smiled. "I'll let you rest a moment," he reasoned, "allow you to take in your surroundings."

At that moment, Judas shook out of his daze. He now clearly saw the Terrible Toad, sitting just a few feet from the pooch in his desk, contentedly stroking his pet caterpillar Nero. Once more, not only was he fully dressed, but he also realized that he wasn't able to move; rather, he was tied to a chair, with his wrists and ankles bound.

To say the least, Judas was not at all happy. "Let me go, you stupid toad!" he snapped. "You don't know how sorry you'll be after I get out of this thing."

Smirking, Baron Greenback kept his gaze low. "You mean, if you get out," he hissed, pausing for a moment. "That doesn't necessarily mean, however, that you would want to get out in the first place."

Of course, Judas was confused. "I don't follow you," he murmured.

A deep chortle escaped the Baron. "Tell me something, Judas," he began. "What do you find most important in life?"

The pooch sneered. "Why is that any of your business?" he questioned. "It's not as if my friends or family ever did anything to you."

Greenback let a tiny grin cross his face. Now he was getting somewhere! "Ah, yes- your friends," he noted. "You never did have much luck with them, did you?"

This whole situation was suddenly becoming very perplexing to Judas. "What do you know about my friends?" he inquired.

Baron Greenback stood from his seat, giving Judas a quick glance. "Everything," he replied. "You seem to have trouble making friends at the university… though, considering the tragic incident some time ago, I can see why you have that problem." He paused again briefly. "Accounting with the loss of your friend Kenneth, it must be hard for you to find a crowd of people you truly belong in."

Those remarks only stirred Judas' anger. "My friends are not of your business!" he shouted, writhing under the ropes. "Let me go, now!"

"Oh, but I've only just begun," the Baron informed, taking Nero in his arms and pacing around the pooch, just outside his reach. "As for your family, I understand that you have three younger brothers- all of you five years apart. You must have had a very lonely childhood, considering what friends you made and what you became."

His anger peaking, Judas forced his body weight forward, leaning into the Baron. "Leave my friends and family out of this!" he barked. "Why do you care if my life wasn't perfect??"

Silent for a moment, Greenback gave the pooch another quick glance. "I do care," he lied betwixt his teeth. "You see, Judas, I had a very easy lifestyle, and I want to share that lifestyle with anyone and everyone. However, the rest of the world seems to think that it's wrong for me to share that lifestyle, coating the truth with nasty words such as stealing, cheating, and robbery."

Judas glared angrily at Baron Greenback. "Even if everything else you said is true," he growled, "everything you stand for is wrong. Everyone has to work hard for what they earn, and taking the rewards away from decent hard-working people isn't fair to them- that's stealing, cheating, and robbery all rolled up into one!"

Needless to say, the Baron was hardly impressed. "And I suppose you learned that from that holy book of yours," he murmured. "That tells me, though, that you have little idea of what really goes on in the world."

The pooch growled, baring his teeth. "Why are you being so difficult??" he spat. "Just tell me what you want and let me go!"

Greenback turned away. "You've grown up in delusion," he explained. "All you've been taught is what your faith believes- you don't get a second opinion from any other point of view, and that makes you think you're right. Clearly, though, the church you have grown attached and devoted to has quite a few problems of its own."

Of course, Judas was not easily persuaded. "You're lying!" he snapped. "You're lying!"

Baron Greenback sighed. "Even you are so dense that you do not believe it," he muttered.

It was perhaps a mistake for the Baron to turn his back on Judas. The pooch had managed to find his communicator, in his back jeans pocket. He pressed the button down, hoping for a reply.

Silence followed. Greenback hardly found it necessary to speak another word; he allowed Judas some time to think things over. Tried as he might, though, Judas was not able to contact DM; for one reason or another, the agent hadn't picked up, or even left a message.

After a while, Judas had given up on calling DM for help. He sat there, limp in his chair. He pondered the Baron's words… life had treated him unfairly, and now here he was- perhaps in the worst trouble of his life. If Danger Mouse found out, he would have had a fit; if his parents found out, they would never let him go back to the agency; if his schoolmates found out, they might think of him as a jinx and isolate him. No one would understand him… he felt so alone…

Finally, Baron Greenback turned around again and glanced at Judas, his face downcast. "So, have you thought it over?" he inquired.

Judas nodded weakly. He fought to hold back a single tear escaping his eye.

The Baron smiled, letting his finger gently touch the pooch's chin. "At last, I see that you have come to realize," he said softly, almost as if he were his uncle or grandfather. "Don't you worry about a thing; I can change it all for the better." He brought Judas' head up and gazed directly at him. "Believe in me, Judas- I am your new god…"

Meanwhile, the Mark III sliced through the sky over China. Danger Mouse had locked coordinates on the Beijing Boom factory- the largest distributors of fireworks worldwide. According to Judas' last transmission, that was where the Baron would be.

Penfold sat quietly in the seat beside DM. For quite some time now, he had this uneasy feeling in his stomach. He was sure he hadn't eaten anything unusual; it had to be anxiety building up inside him.

The agent was only too quick to notice. "Feeling a bit off?" he queried.

The hamster nodded. "I don't know why," he admitted, a thought suddenly coming to mind. "Do you think something's wrong?"

Danger Mouse laughed. "Of course not, Penfold," he assured. "Judas has taken care of everything, and once he's back with us the real Butch will be sent to a maximum security ward in Ontario. Nothing could possibly-"

Suddenly, there was an explosion in the distance. DM took a quick look at the monitors. "Good grief!" he exclaimed. "That was the Beijing Boom factory!"

As it turned out, the agent was in for another surprise. "Chief, look!" Penfold cried out, pointing off the side of the car. "It's the Frog's Head Flyer!"

Looking up, Danger Mouse followed the Frog's Head Flyer with his eyes for a moment. "Come on!" he growled, turning the car around. "We're getting to the bottom of this, right now!"

For perhaps a minute or two, the Frog's Head Flyer tried to out-maneuver the Mark III with little avail. The two transports were practically inseparable!

After a while, the Frog's Head Flyer tried a different tactic. A back hatchway opened, and thousands of little sparks flew out. Those rotters had thrown live fireworks off the ship!

Quickly, DM veered the Mark III back and forth through the shower of tiny explosives. "Duck, Penfold!" he shouted.

Despite the warning, Penfold popped his head up. "Where?"

Rolling his eyes, the agent gently pushed his assistant downward, careening through the air. I can't lose focus now, he thought. I have to find out what in blazes is going one here…

A small explosion in the front of the car alerted the White Wonder. One of the fireworks must have gotten inside the car- all the systems were failing!

Desperate, Danger Mouse quickly entered a code on the keypad next to the steering wheel. The back-up systems kicked in, keeping them from falling to certain doom.

Unfortunately, it meant that the Frog's Head Flyer had gotten away. "Ooh, carrots!" Penfold whined. "What'll we do now, chief?"

With a heavy sigh, DM entered the coordinates to the pillar-box into the Mark III. "We're going home," he answered. "I'm going to have a little talk with Judas…"

Once home at the Mayfare pillar-box, the agent immediately filed a quick report. Apparently, Judas had been a little off- the Baron had already gotten to the factory before he could. He has a lot of explaining to do on his part, he pondered.

Suddenly, the communicator let out a shrill beeping noise. Concerned, Penfold picked it up and answered. "Hello?" he murmured, his voice suddenly joyful. "Judas! Oh, thank goodness! The chief and I were so worried about you! We thought…" After a second or two, Penfold nodded. "Oh, I see… hold on, let me get him for you." He sauntered over to the agent, holding up the communicator. "It's Judas; he wants to talk to you."

"And I would like a word with him," Danger Mouse responded, picking up the communicator. "Hello?"

Sure enough, it was Judas on the other end of the line. "Hey, DM," he greeted. "How'd the mission go?"

DM groaned; he knew that Judas was being sarcastic. "Horrible!" he snapped. "Judas, what happened? By the time we got there, the Baron had already escaped!"

The pooch was silent for a moment. "Say, DM," he continued, "would you mind if I had an extended stay here?"

The agent was somewhat perplexed. "Oh?" he said. "For how long?"

Judas snorted confidently. "Forever," he hissed. "Good-bye, Danger Mouse."

Before the White Wonder could ask for an explanation, the line suddenly went dead. Quickly, he typed in Judas' communicator number; an error occurred, suggesting that something had happened to the communicator Judas had been using.

A searing pain ripped through the agent's chest as he set his communicator on the desk. As much as he had expected it, somehow he didn't want to believe it.

Unsettled, Penfold approached Danger Mouse. "Chief?" he squeaked.

DM quietly turned to Penfold, staring down at the young hamster. "Penfold," he addressed, "I don't want to scare you… but something is wrong… very wrong…"

Stiletto and Sabrina walked down the quiet hallways of the Baron's hideout together. They had gotten back from their last mission some time ago, and just finished storing all the stolen fireworks. They hadn't really talked to each other that trip, apart from business as usual.

As they made their way to the Baron's office, Sabrina forced herself to speak; she wanted to talk to Stiletto, but hadn't found the courage to do so until now. "Stiletto?"

Surprised, Stiletto turned to face his friend. "Cie?"

Sabrina sighed, lowering her head. "Look, I'm sorry," she sighed. "I know I said I was a little nervous about Butch, but when I saw him, I just… I don't know- I felt so different. It was like my heart just… melted. I've only felt that way for one other person in my life, and it brought me so much joy; I thought I could recapture that with Butch…" She scoffed. "Too bad Butch was actually Judas."

The henchcrow chuckled. "Is okay," he assured, putting his hand on her shoulder. "So… you had-a this touching for another?"

Although it took her a minute to figure out what that meant, Sabrina soon understood. "Yeah," she answered. "Maybe I'll tell you about it sometime."

By then, the two henchmen had approached the door outside the Baron's office. They entered the code on the keypad beside the door and stepped inside; Baron Greenback was seated at his desk as usual… but Judas was also there, leaning comfortably against the wall.

To say the least, the henchmen were confused. "Barone?" Stiletto inquired.

The Baron chortled under his breath. "I see you have completed your task," he noted. "Please, join me in welcoming our newest addition."

It was then that Judas stepped forward, crushing a broken communicator beneath his foot and approaching the other two henchmen. "Judas Franklin," he responded, a smart-alec smirk across his face.

After taking in the surprise of the moment, the two henchmen suddenly realized what had happened. They had seen this before, each in their own particular cases.

Stiletto held out his hand. "Nacassio Mafioso Cornetto," he introduced himself, "but-a you call me Stiletto."

The female feline held out her hand. "Sabrina Panthera," she responded.

Once the henchmen had gotten to know each other, Greenback spoke again. "I'm glad that you all seem to get on well enough," he said. "This new experience ought to be most interesting."

Judas let an evil grin cross his face. You have no idea how right you are…


(PS- I apologize for the crudding way everything is layed out. is really getting on my nerves now! Grr... I'm sending in a complaint...)