'Was something just said?' I blurt out, still groggy from sleep.
'Poisoned Apple? Is that what you're Mmm-mmm asking about?'
'Yeah. I guess. I think I read about it somewhere...'
'Nonsense.' replies Muffington dismissively, 'It's not something civilians would generally read about. If, indeed, you do read at all.'
'I...read.' I reply, huffily.
'Look, son,' begins Finnegan Roquefort, bloated whale carcass and head of CIA operations, Europe, 'What my esteemed colleague is trying to say is; "Not Fucking Likely". May I?' he gestures towards the podium. Sir Muffington nods and takes a step backwards with his stilt-like legs.
'Thanks Muffins. Alls that's being said, son, is that Poisoned Apple is a fictitious secret society as far as we can tell. Ah have enough trouble dealing with wackos who talk about the Templars, Bavarian Illuminati, Elders of Zion, the Priori de Sion, Discordians, sinister phone companies, etcetera, etcetera that Ah don't want to have to deal with another group of losers who are out to rule the world or gain immortality or whatever. Why do they bother claiming that they are pulling the strings? We are the ones riding black helicopters. That's it. Period. Nobody else but us chickens.' He sips rum. Burps.
'Where were we? Right, Poisoned Apple. So, Leopold Grimshawe, a.k.a. the Alchemist, gets mighty interested in this fictitious-' he locks eyes with me,'-secret society that's supposedly been around since the 1600's. Due to him sniffing copious amounts of glue. Due to dormant crazy genes. Whatever. He gets interested enough that he starts recruiting from both agencies unbeknownst to us at this stage. Smart guys too. By '75 he's constantly going back and forth between the two agencies-simply unheard of usually- but since it's the Alchemist we're talking 'bout he gets complete carte blanche more or less. In '81 he writes papers, shoots it to the cigar-chompin' higher ups who give him the okay to go ahead with a project called FIFTH HORSEMAN. Now I, to this very day, do not have the authorisation to know what this super duper project is about. Folks talk about it in hushed tones like it's supposed to be the end of all our troubles- as if there is such a goddamn thing.' Sip. Burp.
'Grimshawe starts an intensive search across the globe for a particular liberry...'
'Where they keep books dunderhead! A Lah-berry! Supposed to have books (or scrolls Ah guess) that were apparently soggy from when Atlantis sunk, books saved from Nazis literature bonfires, papers smuggled from the Vatican, etcetera. Looks all over the globe, in every country, down crumbling alleyways and in places unmarked in maps. Zip. Meanwhile the Agency ain't getting much results from their former Em Vee Pee. Where's FIFTH HORSEMAN? they keep askin' him. Constantly knocking on his door. Grimshawe loses his temper one day and rips one of the bosses' arms off. He calmly packs his things and then leaves to parts unknown.' Sip. Burp.
'He pops up briefly from time to time. In Prague. In Hanoi, In Marrakech, In Melbourne. Never for long. No discernible pattern. Still lookin' for his stupid Liberry presumably. Along the way he kills a couple of dozen of our guys as well as SIS folks. Just 'cos he don't like being looked at. But as of 15:00 hours last Wednesday we have gathered his location. And we will set a trap for 'im. Yes indeedy.'
Raised in Captivity,