Ali Ali Inkomfree sat down on his throne, and clapped his hands. Within a few moments, the real Sgt. Kat and her Mudcat Commandos entered the exotic room. They had all been washed in milk baths and perfumed and clothed in fine silks which revealed many of their spiritual assets. Ali gestured for them all to sit down on the extensive divans he had prepared for each of them, covered with patterns of peacock feathers, and trimmed in gold. Bowls of chocolate and fruit lay within easy reach. Roses were strewn everywhere.
"Welcome, welcome, Howling Commandos, and especially your exquisite leader," he said. "I hope that your ordeal has not tamed that fighting spirit for which you are so widely renowned. It was with some reluctance -- since I have long wished to witness your prowess on the battlefield as well as on other fields of endeavour -- that the maddened horde of my people rushed down upon your attackers, following the strange myriad signals and forms -- arrows, harmonicas, small possum like creatures, and so on -- that seem to follow you around like dogs following a caravan. It was dangerous, but we were able to rout your foes. It was necessary to -- um, how shall I put it -- protect my investment."
"You disgusting scum-sucking fiend," said Sgt. Kat, at her most exquisite.
"Please, Sarge -- may I call you Sarge? -- I have always been delighted by the name Sarge, from my days at Harvard reading comic books when I should have been studying -- I should be wary of who you refer to as "scum-sucking" given the delicacies that your Susan has been inflicting on your Taliban captors. Many of them have already handed themselves over to Medecins Sans Frontieres in various pitiful states of disarray."
"You remind me of someone I once knew who longed for love," interjected sophocleese. "There was a song ---"
Before she could continue, a silken handkerchief was gently whipped around her mouth by one of the attendants, who, as was suddenly noticed by the hitherto slightly confused commandos, was a strapping Afghan lad with a striking resemblance to the young Omar Sharif.
Ali smiled. He was somewhat Omar Shariflike himself. "I apologise for our rough methods. We are barbarians of course. Perhaps some other time for one of your enchanting melodies. In the meantime, it should be of some comfort to know that you are no longer prisoners of the Taliban army, but guests of mine."
"Prisoners, you mean!" piped up Morticia. "You are going to have your way with us!! You have bought us like trinkets, baubles, bangles, bright shiny beads, ting-a-linga. We are to be white slaves!!!!"
"Ah?" said Ali. "The beauteous, if somewhat naive, Morticia. May I tell you what a pleasure it is to have such a storyteller amongst us, we have been reading your intercepted letters with unalloyed pleasure? A veritable Sheherazade. I look forward to some bedtime stories."
"This won't last," vowed the swarthy Big Michelle. "We have a clique, a gang, an in group, a secret network of those who I am sure are already flying to our aid, including the FAIR ONE (rainbow caps), the elusive Mmario (no spaces) and the great bert ( all lower case)!!!!
The great Afghan chieftain looked even more bemused. "Ladies, you have turned many heads already, included a number of heads of state. I have already had a number of substantial bids for you already this morning, as well as various knick knacks. " He reached over to a low table nearby. "This little cassette recorder, that plays 'Lara's Theme' was sent by the Premier of Russia." He gestured towards a large heap of objects and letters in a corner -- "A Mr. Sean Connery has sent a personal note to me declaring and witnessing to the fact that certain of you ladies are Scottish National Treasures, in substantive, and may I say, mouth-watering detail. The President of the United States has authorised the deployment away from American soil of something known as Catspaw, some terrifying new weapon, I assume. The head of the International Olympic Committee, Mr. Samaranch, has telegraphed to me his understanding that U.S. Wyowoman was currently exploring a range of possible new Olympic events that appear to be, if not televiseable to a mass audience, certainly, er, pathbreaking. He says that he speaks on behalf of the entire Olympic movement, and especially a group he refers to as "That Crazy Bunch of Fact-Finding Guys from the Penthouse in Salt Lake City. So you are not without admirers, among whom, naturally enough, I count myself."
"Wait till Rick Fury, gets here, you demon in burnoose!" chimed in Davinia, which made the new set of ankle bells she had on tinkle, which intrigued and somewhat distracted her.
Ali shrugged. "I hope they are more of a force to be reckoned with that that ragtag collection they have sent to rescue you from "a fate worse than death" so far. A lost tourist, a young bewildered man with a dry harmonica, what appears to be someone out of a wildwest show, and a variety of others. The Taliban have taken them all away to the Neil Diamond Dungeon of Terror. We shall probably not see them again for awhile. We await Colonel Fury with amusement." He clapped his hands.
A number of doors opened, and a substantial banquet was rolled forward.
"Ladies, in the meantime, some Eastern hospitality. First some delicacies, and then --" He clapped his hands again. "In my realm, we operate according to what you in the West so amusingly call, "the buddy system."
Out from behind the mounds of food now stepped some extraordinarily agile and darkly handsome young men, wearing flowing white silken robes, edged in purple. It was again noticieable that they cut from the same mould as the darkly handsome gentleman who had gently stifled sophocleese's musical stirrings. "Each of you howling commandos has been assigned a buddy, who will, how shall I put this? attend to your every want, they are remarkably attentive, so that you will perhaps warm to me as time goes on."
"This is beyond disgusting, " cried Morticia. "This is morally degrading, this is worse than weapons of war, you fiend, we will have nothing to do with this, this sordid spectacle, this attempt to undermine our womanly solidarity -- how little you know of our strength, you swine, Oh, how you underestimate our fortitude, our resolute ---!!!!"
At this point Sgt. Kat tugged on her sleeve and gave the secret commando huddle signal.
"Excuse us for a second, will you, fiend?" asked Sgt. Kat.
Ali, the fiend, smiled: "Of course, Howling Mudcat Commandos. Take your time. Lunch can wait. "
The Howling Commandos went off into a corner, taking a couple of grapes and some bars of chocolate with them as a temporary snack, and began to discuss this latest and most disconcerting train of events....