Princess was really out of breath by the time he, Crusher and Sassy arrived back at the alley. He was not going to be much use in capturing Tom-tom. He looked around the alley. Where was Mittens?
“Probie?” he called.
“Princess! Help me!” Mittens sounded stressed. His voice had come from the alley, followed by a feral scream. Princess started down the alley, horrified by what he saw, Mittens locked in combat with Tom-tom and the gray and white cat was on top of Mittens. Princess tried to run faster.
“I told him to stay out of sight of the entrance. I told him to wait for backup!” Why couldn’t he move faster? Crusher and Sassy flew past him to the pair of struggling cats they could see near the blind end of the alley. They had knocked over a trashcan in the struggle, spilling its contents across the alley.
Crusher hit the gray and white cat just as he got a killing grip on Mittens’ throat. They rolled off Mittens in a struggle of their own. Crusher was the larger of the two cats and soon had the gray and white tom subdued. Sassy crouched beside Mittens. Torn between checking on Mittens and helping Crusher, Princess hesitated. He finally opted for helping to subdue the prisoner.
“I can’t believe I let him get the jump on me like that,” Mittens trailed after Crusher and Sassy who had Tom-tom secured between them. Princess, still struggling to catch his breath walked with Mittens behind them. A cursory examination had shown no major injuries to the young agent. “I’ll never be a good FCIS agent.”
“Don’t be stupid,” Princess said, wasting some of his newly regained breath. “It could have happened to any of us. It happened to you because you are not as experienced an agent as I am, for instance.” He conveniently forgot that Tom-tom had nearly killed him a week before. “He jumped you from behind.”
“I should have been more vigilant,” Mittens said. He seemed determined to not be comforted. Princess started to wonder why he was bothering.
“We should have some way of contacting the Boss,” Princess countered, “without one of us having to run and get him. Send him an email or something.” Mittens managed a weak smile.
“Something like a tablet computer?” he said. “Like humans have.”
“Yeah,” Princess said. “That’s ridiculous, isn’t it? Perhaps a cell phone, humans have made them small enough. We could have called him.”
“Thanks, Princess,” Mittens said. “I appreciate you trying to make me feel better, but we both know that I’m still a rotten agent.”
“You’re not that bad an agent, you know,” Princess said. “You have the drive, the smarts, and the courage – everything an agent should have. You just had a little bad luck, too. That’s all. It goes with the job.”
Tom-tom sat alone in the interrogation room. Princess and Sassy stood inside the observation room and watched as the gray and white tomcat sat there, waiting for the interrogation to start. The observation room door opened and Mittens came in.
“Have I missed anything?” he asked.
“Nope,” Princess said. “Boss isn’t in there yet.”
“He is using the delay tactic,” Sassy said. “What did Ducks say?”
“I’m fine,” Mittens said. “He never got the chance to even break the skin of my throat. He mostly got hair, before the Boss took him down.” The interrogation room door opened and Crusher entered the room.
“Release me,” Tom-tom said.
“Not gonna happen,” Crusher replied. “We have evidence that you killed five cats. You attacked two of my agents and me. You are not going anywhere.”
“You will release me,” Tom-tom settled back with the air of someone who knows that they are protected. The question in Princess’ mind was, who, or what, did the crazy tom think was protecting him?
“Why them?” Crusher said. “Why those queens?”
“They were vermin,” Tom-tom said. “They were a part of a scourge that must be eradicated.” Princess shivered.
“He’s crazy,” he said. No one disagreed.
“She demands it,” Tom-tom continued.
“She?” Nothing about Crusher’s demeanor or voice gave any clue to his thoughts. Princess wondered what the Boss was thinking.
“The All Powerful Bastet,” Tom-tom said. “She commands me and I obey.”
“Definitely crazy,” said Princess.
“Totally nuts,” Mittens agreed.
“Certainly fanatical,” Sassy commented.
“Why does Bastet hate them?” Crusher asked. The Boss was good. he’d get Tom-tom to confess.
“They are evil,” Tom-tom replied. “They must be eradicated. It is my mission.”
“It’s a mission,” said Princess. “You know what that means. He’ll never be convicted.”
“Unlikely,” Sassy agreed.
“Convicted, no,” Mittens said. “Committed, yes.” Princess nodded. Probie had a point.
“Bastet will free me,” Tom-tom proclaimed.
“Doubt it,” Crusher said. “You are not going anywhere.” He got to his feet and walked out of the interrogation room, leaving Tom-tom alone again.