The British Special Air Service, known as the SAS, is the infantry counterpart to the Special Boat Service. Their insignia bears the phrase “Who dares wins.” Asked about the importance of the SAS’s role in the fighting that followed the Iraq War, US Gen. Stanley McChrystal said: “Essential. Could not have done it without them.”
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But. Mrs. Peel has other “notions”. Dark cravings unknown to Mrs. Carson. Instinctual needs for a suitable mate. The creature’s venom mixed with its pheromones is a potent poisonous concoction, indeed. One capable of rendering the girl its mindless thrall that will attend to its every whim. By nature, its kind are collectors, hoarders of beautiful things. Women foremost amongst them, and soon, very soon, Miss Kane will be its mate and the pride of its collection. Its poison will drown out the girl’s will, poisoning the girl’s mind to do as it wishes. As long as its keeps the girl sufficiently poisoned, no one can break its hold over her, not even Miss Kane herself—i.e., no out, no escape clause, no backdoor. Its poison is so insidious, because unbeknownst to Mrs. Carson, Mrs. Peel is a queen, a queen posing as a lowest. Additionally, the poison will transform Miss Kane into a lowest, thus making the drunken junkie whore a suitable mate for the queen. A lowest is analogous to a Borg drone, but a lowest is baser and totally depraved. At the behest of The Professor, this is what it did to the previous girl that it used. Now, The Professor has given it the okay to do the same to Miss Kane—i.e., render the Vampire into a lowest, Borg designation Seven of Nine.
Back at Frau Schmidt’s condo, Frau Schmidt is impatiently waiting for Miss Kane as she enters.
“You took your own sweet time coming back.”
“I took my own sweet time walking over there.”
There’s no need for Miss Kane to ask Frau Schmidt if she had watched the surveillance footage of the Vampire going to and from the city morgue. It’s obvious that Frau Schmidt has. And she’s making no bones about it. Tit for tat.
“Figuratively speaking, I have this very unsettling notion of a noose tightening around my neck.”
Miss Kane produces a manila envelope from her purse which she casually tosses over to Frau Schmidt.
Frau Schmidt investigates the envelope’s contents. What she discovers causes her sit down in a chair and take a very long pause. She is visibly shaken.
“Where did you get this?”
“The originals are from the room of a flophouse on Cherokee Street in the red light district. Along with the butchered, naked body of one Sarah Lane. Done in the style of one Simon Angel.”
“A ton of evidence which unequivocally proves that Sarah Lane murdered Hazel Carter.”
“And this,” Frau Schmidt fans the contents of the envelope, and momentarily loses her temper. “Fingers me as Agent Lane’s accomplice in the murders!”
“Yes. And. It gets worse. I fronted to Senator Carter and CME Madigan that Agent Lane’s accomplice murdered her and planted the evidence of her guilt. CME Madigan is convinced that I executed Agent Lane and planted the incriminating evidence, and that there was no accomplice. What you hold in your hand should tip the scales in the direction of my theory, if you don’t get ahead of this.”
“You’re asking me to frame myself.”
Fueled by the emotion of the moment. Acting completely out of character. Frau Schmidt starts to get out her chair, aggressively. But, she stops herself in time.
“I’m asking you to exonerate yourself.”
“These are Photostatic copies. I presume that you have mailed the originals to the CME.”
“Your presumption is correct. They will arrive in her office with the morning mail, whether you choose to do the right thing or not.”
“I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t.”
Tit for tat. Frau Schmidt expresses the expected protest. She knows what is expected of her in this conversation. And she intends to hold up her end in spades.
“This is an affront to my integrity. Why are you doing this to me?”
“In all of Creation, amidst the numerous human societies, the one here on Mars is moving explicably toward becoming the most like supernatural society as humanly possible.”
“I’m not political. I don’t even vote. And I sure as hell don’t care about some abstract notion of manifest destiny and a new Aries. I’m just a cop doing her job, and I’m damn good at it.”
“This society is at a crossroads, and someone doesn’t want it to keep progressing the way it has. A game is afoot. We are two of the chess pieces. If we are not up to it. You will end up in jail, likely on death row. And, I will end up destroyed.”
“There’s something else, isn’t there? You know the identity of the person who is trying to interfere with Martian society’s natural progression, don’t you?”
“Do you know a woman, fifty-something, by the name of Barbara Rush?”
That’s when Frau Schmidt stands up bolt-upright out of her chair. But, this time there’s nothing aggressive about her level change.
“Asking that. I imagine that you knew I’d do the right thing, beforehand. Else I’d be dead. It’s obvious to me now, that you were just having some cruel fun at my expense. You intended to use me as bait, me making my way over to the CME’s office to plead my case about the damning evidence you had given me. On the way over, you’d shadow me, hoping that the guilty party would try to intervene and murder me before I got to my destination. But. Assuming that Barbara is involved. We can afford none of that foreplay. I need my ape, posthaste, and in the open. Ergo, you will openly accompany me over to the CME.”
As expected, Miss Kane switches stances and postures as the naiveté in this conversation. She asks a question she already knows the answer to.
“Who is Barbara Rush?”
“My nemesis. The Professor Moriarty to my Sherlock Holmes. A woman who has many aliases. But, that one is her least used, because it is her real name—Barbara Elizabeth Rush. I thought she was dead.”
“Evidently, she is quite alive and well, and here on Mars.”
“And you know this from whom?”
“I know it from a ‘what’ by the name of Mrs. Emma Peel. Mrs. Peel inhabits the basement underneath the flophouse where Agent Lane would go on her drunken junkie whore binges. During those binges, she was used extensively by Mrs. Peel.”
“This Mrs. Peel thing who told you this … had irrefutable proof that Barbara lives?”
“I harvested the intel from the maniac jumble that it calls its memories. It’s not sentient. And it was not in a position to lie to me. I was being used extensively by it, at the time. Ergo, it’s reveal between user and used.”
“Does this Emma Peel thing also refer to Barbara as The Professor?”
“Yes. That’s the name it tags her with most times in its memories.”
“Then this thing is Barbara’s vassal. Her lackey, so to speak. She used that creature to compromise Agent Lane into committing the murders, undoubtedly.”
“And. Before you ask. I’m so familiar with her, because, once upon a time, Barbara and I were married. She’s my ex.”
Miss Kane doesn’t bother to look surprised.