Whitney Tungsten: The Agent of the Opera
Whitney Tungsten adjusted his monocle. He could have used opera glasses, but he found monocles were classier. That, and he needed his hands free. Sitting in the box with a program and suit, anyone would think that Tungsten was a regular opera-goer. Which he was. He was also a spy, but not just any spy. He was Whitney Tungsten. The agent of the opera.
Tonight, the opera was La Dignité Commune, which translated into “the common dignity.” It was a rather convoluted plot involving a young man finding existence of Faeries (the opera takes place before the Faeries were commonly known about) and was both blessed with magical powers, and cursed with guilt, in exchange for his silence. Later, he gets into a brawl with a disguised faerie, and at his trial, is found to be insane. He is then locked away. The opera was actually quite controversial when it was first written, as it is one of the first shows in theatre to display faeries in a bad light, showing them as paranoid and cruel, rather than loving and kind.
It was one of Whitney’s favorite operas, but he wasn’t there for the show. He was there for a mission. He was a green Tuskaninny, and as he sat in the box, he was looking around the audience for the assassin who would kill John Marcowitz, the famous opera star who was playing the judge. Also in this production was Rianne Von Krauff, who would be making her stage debut as the faerie queen. Whitney also wanted to keep her out of harm's way, as he did not want to ruin future opera talent.
The opera house dimmed, as the curtain opened. Calvin Ryzone (playing Ruthven in this production) stepped on stage as the overture played. When the overture seemed almost finished (the composer, Jourse DeVille put in odd musical timing to end the overture), it was interrupted by a loud blast as Donald Quast entered and delivered the first line of the opera.
“Halt!” he sang, holding out a long G. “You shall go no further/ Listen to me/ I know your tricks/ I know your kind!”
Whitney relaxed and enjoyed the show. Donald Quast was playing the captain of the guard who arrested Ruthven for “spying on the faeries.” John Marcowitz would not be on stage until the second act, so Whitney figured he had time.
At intermission, Whitney did a quick scan of the audience. He saw nothing there, so he decided to go backstage to investigate. He had a VIP pass, so he was allowed.
After some tussling with one of the actors, Whitney was admitted to the prop room, where he reached up to his monocle, and adjusted the settings. He tried thermal. Nothing. X-Ray. Nothing. After a few more settings, Whitney found what he was looking for. A greenish patch on one of the props. Switching back to normal told him that it was the judge’s gavel. So amazingly simple. The murderer didn’t even have to be there. The murder was also incredibly simple to prevent. Whitney could think of at least a dozen ways around it.
Whitney grabbed the director and John Marcowitz, a blue Ixi, and quickly explained the situation.
“Do you have gloves?” Whitney asked Marcowitz.
“I’m afraid not,” exclaimed the opera star.
Whitney almost fainted. This was his life long hero speaking to him. Even when speaking, the actor sounded like he was singing. Regardless, Whitney kept his composure and took off his gloves. “Could you wear these?” he asked.
Marcowitz couldn’t. The Ixi was rather large, and the Tuskaninny was rather small.
“In that case,” exclaimed Marcowitz, “you shall have to take my place with the gloves.”
“You can’t be serious!” exclaimed Whitney. He was half shocked, half frightened, and half delighted.
“I don’t see why not,” replied the director. “Your file says you know this show front and back.”
“Yes. The Defenders of Neopia Opera Division sent over some of your file before sending you over for the show. Apparently, you’re the best agent of the opera they have.”
Whitney had a hard time getting his head around this. “The Defenders of Neopia has an opera division?”
“Of course! Who do you think was sending you on all these missions at the opera?”
“I thought the Defenders of Neopia just assigned me these because I like opera! You know. Sort of like a perk. I do my job, and get to see free operas!”
The director chewed his lip. “Yes,” he muttered. “That would make more sense. Anyway the intermission is almost over, so get into costume!”
This shut Whitney up. If there was one thing he hated, it was an audience having to sit through an extended intermission during a good opera.
Whitney got into costume, and noticed that his wig seemed rather heavy. He then realized what it was. He remembered that John Marcowitz had a hard time getting wigs to stay on his head, so he inserted steel plates into them to weigh them down.
When the intermission ended, Whitney was immediately on stage. A murmur went through the crowd. Obviously they were expecting John Marcowitz. And when Whitney delivered his first line in a deep baritone voice, some of the audience laughed. They thought it was a joke. Such a deep voice coming from such a small person.
Whitney did another scan of the crowd as the trial went on. He actually saw something interesting. In the box, the same box that Whitney had previously been sitting in, sat someone else. And he was holding a knife. It all came crashing down on Whitney in that instant. The poisoned gavel (which Whitney was actually holding at that very moment) was a decoy. A distraction. The purpose? To get Whitney Tungsten, the very best agent of the opera, on stage, alone and unprotected. Whitney was the real target.
Whitney analyzed the situation. He had very little. Just a poisoned gavel. He knew that the assassin would wait until all the audience was laughing. That is to say, when the only spoken line in the opera was delivered. So Whitney figured he had a little time left. But there was no time to think now. He had a song to sing!
As Whitney sang his song, he realized that just after he finished, he had about twenty seconds before the spoken line. He almost panicked, but somehow managed to keep his composure. As the young actor playing Little Dave stepped onto the witnesses stand, Whitney ducked his head, and hoped the knife would miss him. It didn’t.
Just after he heard the line “He’s barkin’ mad!” spoken, Whitney felt a thud squarely on his head. He wasn’t dead. The blow was still hard enough to daze him. Whitney did have enough sense, however, to see the knife land in front of him. He picked it up as one of the actors helped him off stage.
“What happened?” exclaimed the director, once Whitney was backstage. “I heard a thud, and --” he paused. “By Fyora! What’s happened to your wig?”
Whitney took off his wig. One of the steel plates was dented, and had even come loose. The director immediately understood. There was still one problem.
“What’s the audience going to think?” asked the director.
“I believe there is a solution to that,” replied Whitney. “The judge has one more scene. Marcowitz will perform that scene. The audience will assume that it is a joke. That an actor had been planted in the audience, to play the part of a disgusted audience member. Disgusted, because Marcowitz did not show up. In retaliation, the audience will assume that he was to throw a prop knife at me to shoo me off stage, after, which, Marcowitz returns.”
“That’s brilliant!” exclaimed the director.
“And the assassin should still be there,” remarked Whitney. “I can go get him, if you’d like. Force him to do a curtain call.”
“That would be much appreciated,” responded the director, grinning.