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Dressed To Kill

Steed's Tale - "Dressed To Kill" - Chapter 12

Journal of Prince "Major" Jonathan Steed of Amber:
Based on a Scenario by Rain Donaldson
Written by: R. Cal Westray, Jr. in 1997-1998.
Steed's history was written in 1994.

"Extraordinary crimes against the people and the state,
need to be avenged by agents extraordinary..."


Bar
Episode A4-12 - Split (A.K.A. Double Danger)

In which Steed is beside himself
... and Emma sees double.

We are still in Undershadow. A dismal place devoid of color, reminiscent of a photographic negative.
The Doctor is repairing the view screen.
I need to have a talk with Dworkin, but 'away' from Brand. I 'have' been helping Brand, but I don't 'trust' him. Not by a long shot.
Some things have been troubling me since I learned how to teleport, and Dworkin may have the answers. For example, why has it been easier to summon the Sign of the Pattern? Was my control over the Pattern so powerful that I actually 'moved' the TARDIS? When I summoned the Sign of the Pattern, why did 'all' of them appear before me? Finally, why has my control of teleporting gotten worse, 'horribly' worse? I will have to take it slowly, conversations with Dworkin tend to become confusing.
With Dworkin's help, can I learn to control it better? At least, I would like the opportunity to use it for the purpose I wanted it for in the first place. To return to Shadow Earth, visit Mother, retrieve our possessions, and somehow make amends with the Ministry. That last bit will be tricky, but possible.
As long as I stay with the Doctor, I doubt that it will happen soon. To his credit, the Doctor 'has' been kind enough to check on me every time I accidentally teleport.
Looking around I see Emma, the Doctor, Ace, Dworkin, and Brand the Pattern Ghost.
I walk over and get Dworkin's attention. "May I speak with you privately, sir?" He agrees and we leave the control room, down the hall; away from prying ears. "Dworkin, since I last saw you, I am still having trouble 'not' teleporting. What's causing it and how can I stop it?"
Dworkin. "What do you mean?"
"Is there a way to gain better control over it or remove it altogether?"
Dworkin. "Do you want to stop teleporting?"
"If there is no way to control it better."
Dworkin. "Do you wish to control it better or stop it?"
I pause. "I want to control it better."
Dworkin. "Very well."
"What am I doing wrong?"
Dworkin. "Well, you're 'not' teleporting now."
"I haven't tried since I landed in this place. I could end up in a worse place than this."
Dworkin. "Well if you are 'not' teleporting, you must be doing something right."
Here we go again, I hoped to avoid the circular logic. "Is it possible to teleport out of here?"
Dworkin. "Have you tried?"
"No."
Dworkin. "Are you going to try?"
"Is it safe to try?"
Dworkin. "Define 'safe'."
Oh it's 'that' bad. "Will we be intact wherever we go to?"
Dworkin. "We?"
"Yes, all of us, with the TARDIS."
Dworkin. "Oh, I see. You wish to teleport this device as well."
"Yes, I would like to get the others out of Undershadow. It wouldn't be cricket to do otherwise."
Dworkin. "That might be a useful experiment."
That stopped me short. Dworkin hasn't considered that as a possibility?
Dworkin. "How are you going to go about it?"
"I would repeat the same steps as before."
Dworkin. "What did we do before?"
It hasn't been that long has it? For Dworkin it may have. "I summoned up the Pattern, concentrated upon where I wanted to be and nothing happened. Until you hit me. Then, I only had to think of a place and off I went."
Dworkin. "So you want me to hit you again?"
I suppose I walked into that. "Would that get all of us out of here?"
Dworkin. "Well, we can try."
"Well, I will bring up the Pattern and extend my awareness to encompass the TARDIS, 'before' thinking of a destination. The destination should be a familiar spot, say the infirmary in Castle Amber." Only then, after extending my awareness, do I realize how big the TARDIS is. I scanned it before, when the Doctor was losing rooms in the TARDIS. It seems much larger now, nearly a Shadow unto itself.
Dworkin, realizing this. "So I should hit you really 'really' hard?"
What a sadistic fellow. "I don't think that will be necessary."
He looks like he is thinking of an alternative. "How about if I hit you somewhere especially painful?"
Definitely sadistic. "Wouldn't that break my concentration and ability to control it?"
Dworkin. "That would depend on your concentration."
It would be hard to concentrate while losing consciousness.
Dworkin. "Do you want me to hit you now?"
"Not yet." I try to recall everything I've read about Pattern research from various books in the Castle Library. How much is speculation and how much is fact? I remember a phrase I read about. It was rather vague. "Could I use a Pattern lens? It seemed to be a way of looking through Shadow with Pattern. Do you know what it is and how it works?"
Dworkin. "Well, I suppose we could find some glass and grind it into a lens. But I'm not sure what you would do with it. Are you ready for me to hit you now?"
"Not yet."
Dworkin. "I thought you wanted to teleport out of here, not 'not' teleport. You are already 'not' teleporting and you are already 'not' taking all of us out of Undershadow. Does that mean I need to un-hit you?"
My curiosity is aroused, how do you un-hit someone? "Dworkin, it may be easier if I do this from the outside of the TARDIS. With a firm grasp on the TARDIS, of course."
Dworkin. "O.K. It does have a handle. Have you decided where you want to be un-hit? Kicking may help."
He appears to be obsessing and fixated on this, a little too much. It reminds me of an old school teacher before my Eton days. "Probably the face, like before." Getting slapped by Dworkin is something I don't want to be a habit. I lead the way out of the TARDIS, passing the Doctor.
The Doctor sees me. "I say, old chap. Going somewhere?"
I smile. "I'm hoping to get us out of here. It would be easier if I'm outside."
He agrees. "It would, at that. Carry on. We will watch on the monitor. Luck!"
I step outside with Dworkin. I take off my bowler and hold onto it and I get a firm grasp on the handles of the piano dolly. With the Wizard of Amber nearby, I tap my heels together, for luck. "There's no place like Amber. There's no place like Amber." Well, it 'might' help.
l concentrate on summoning the Sign of the Pattern, extend my awareness around the TARDIS, and envision the infirmary. I try to summon all the Pattern energy I can, more than I've ever summoned before. At first, it seems that it takes a great deal of effort to reach out for the Pattern. Then I sense the Pattern energy advancing towards me in a tremendous wave and then through me. Dworkin un-slaps me very hard, as the Pattern energy hits me like a lorry. I feel as though I am nearly electrocuted, like every cell of my body is on fire, but I somehow maintain my concentration. My body repeatedly convulses as the power flows through me and covers me in a blue aura. I feel the Undershadow fading around me.
Then I hear Dworkin call out. "Wait!"
Blast! The absent minded old codger, didn't hold onto me.
It seems to take awhile, but we appear in the infirmary. It takes a few moments to clear the cobwebs. By the Unicorn, that hurt!
The door to the TARDIS opens and the Doctor sticks his head out. "Excuse me old chap. Something is wrong. Look out the window."
I look the window of the infirmary, expecting to see the beautiful landscape, and see a vast emptiness, like a completely star-less night. "How odd."
Doctor. "I hate to say this, old chap, but I don't think we are in Castle Amber's infirmary. I will check the TARDIS to see if I can triangulate our position." He goes back in.
I open the infirmary door and call out. "Is anyone home?" The sound seems to carry for quite a distance, with occasional echoes. "I guess not."
He comes back out. "Well, Steed?"
"We could check the rest of the castle."
Doctor. "Hmm. Leave our place of relative safety and wander off into a situation we know little about; with people we don't fully trust, which could really be dangerous. Yes, lets go." He looks back into the TARDIS. "Ace, Emma, want to go along?" They agree and step out. "Brand?"
Brand steps out and looks out the window of the infirmary. "Well, at least it's different."
I shrug. "At least we aren't still in Undershadow."
Doctor. "That's right. K-9! Would you come out here, I want to see if technology works here."
He rolls to the door, extends the antenna on his forehead. "This is unusual, Doctor."
Doctor. "How so?"
K-9. "My sensors indicate I should not be able to operate under these parameters."
Doctor. "But you are."
K-9. "I seem to be experiencing a sensor malfunction."
Doctor. "Yes, that's it. I'll tell you what. Would you prefer to stay here and guard the TARDIS?"
K-9. "That will give me a chance to initiate a self diagnostics." He backs into the TARDIS and the Doctor locks the door.
We walk down the hall. "Let's have a word with Leonardo and Kat."
"They are here, too?"
Doctor. "Yes."
The Doctor locates Kat, by the top of the circular stairway to the Pattern room. She told us that she sent a slinky down the stairs. Why do these people insist upon doing strange things, mucking about with powers they don't understand?
Doctor. "Hello, Kat, what are you doing here?"
Kat. "I'm not here."
Doctor. "Why are you 'not' here?"
Kat. "Because I'm nowhere."
Doctor. "Yes, I know that. How did you come upon nowhere?"
Kat. "We've narrowed it down to one of two things."
Doctor. "Oh?"
Kat. "Suehprom..."
The Doctor interrupted her. "Say no more. Well... what's the other thing?"
Kat. "...and Suehprom."
He 'had' to ask. At least that is cleared up. He continues. "How did Castle Amber get to be in nowhere? Or this approximation of it."
Kat. "We just thought about Castle Amber and here we are."
"I see." The Doctor then holds out his hand. "Orange." An orange appears. He peels it and eats it. "Yes, it tastes perfectly fine." He holds out his other hand. "Apple." It appears that the Doctor wants to compare apples and oranges here.
"Nice trick, Doctor." Not to be out done. I hold out my hand. "A '47 Chablis." I pause. "And two glasses." A bottle of wine appears, followed by two glasses. I smile broadly. "It just wouldn't do to drink from a bottle." I hand Emma a glass. I conjure a corkscrew to open the bottle, then pocket the corkscrew. I pour for both of us. We clink our glasses together, softly. Fine crystal glasses. After sampling, it is indeed a Chablis of the '47 variety. "How splendid! At least we won't starve here."
For some strange reason a bucket appears over the Doctor's head and empties the contents of water on him. He summons an umbrella and a towel.
Ace calls out. "Can anyone do that, Doctor?"
Doctor. "Sure, Ace."
She summons a vial of Nitro-9. "Hey, it works! Oops!"
The Doctor summons a hole to swallow the Nitro-9 and closes it. We hear a rumble from a distant explosion.
The Doctor snaps his fingers. "I've got it! I know how to get out of here." He concentrates and a doorway and an 'EXIT' sign appears. He opens it and a hallway is on the other side. It is filled with mirrors. "Excellent!"
Emma and I enter the hallway to see Suehprom and Smiling Jenny amid a large pile of rubble. Brand follows, drinking a dark red liquid from his goblet. He was apparently able to create Amberite blood from nothing. This 'appears' to be the Corridor of Mirrors, but upon inspection, the mirrors appear to be normal mirrors. Did Suehprom break the Corridor of Mirrors or is this another created apparition in this 'nothing' universe?
If Suehprom was responsible for their plight in this universe, I would expect Kat to get back at him. What form will it take this time?
I was curious where Leonardo was off to in this version of Castle Amber. I was troubled, learning that he was intending to create a Pattern in the same place the Pattern room would be. I wasn't expecting a chance of success, until I found out he had a Spikard. By the Unicorn, how did he get a Spikard?
This does not bode well and there is no possible way to stop him without it being fatal to him, 'if' it is working. It is bad enough that Corwin's Pattern is out there, that only him and his descendants can utilize. Now there will be another that only Leonardo and his descendants can use. The Powers that be, 'won't' be happy about this. At least Random won't be happy about the new Pattern and the Brand Pattern Ghost.
The Doctor caught us off guard. "Just what we need, a 'Brand' spanking new 'Pattern'."
Suehprom is studying a mirror. On the other side is the unconscious form of Delwin.
The Doctor and Ace enter the room, pulling the TARDIS behind them.
Kat keeps the door open, so that Leonardo can join us when he is finished. They ignore Suehprom's suggestion to close the door. He also suggests that we use the door to leave the hallway. He has no idea where we came from. The Doctor tries to explain that it is quite definitely 'not' our way out. Suehprom points out a rare phenomenon to us. At both ends of the hallway, we see duplicates of ourselves.
The Doctor is excited. "Wow, we are in a moebius strip!" He waves to his other images, they wave at the same time. "By the way, that door leads to absolutely nowhere. What are you doing with that mirror?"
Suehprom is reaching into it to try to get Delwin. The Doctor tries to help, using his umbrella, but was stopped by Suehprom. I guess he doesn't want help. In an obvious display of distrust, Suehprom shifts form to grow additional eyes in the back of his head. How distasteful.
We get more company. Another Suehprom and Smiling Jenny enters the hallway. They find their counterparts and try to confuse them. They are then convinced to irritate Kat, who apparently created them from nothing. Her plan backfired. She decides to ignore them.
I ask the Doctor if technology works in the hallway.
He enters the TARDIS. I hear him call out. "Mirror universe!"
That makes sense, but how do we get out?
Conversations become confused with the pairs of Suehprom and Smiling Jenny, irritating Kat. Another visitor approaches the hallway, a purple dinosaur. Not again...
The Doctor calls out, apparently seeing things through the TARDIS monitor. "Steed! Is there about to be an altercation?"
"Possibly. We are about to be visited by the purple dinosaur again."
The Doctor comes out. "Folks, there is no reason to fight. By the way Suehprom, why are you here?"
The Suehprom twins answer. "We were in the Hall of Mirrors and it broke. It happened after Leonardo broke the mirror with your yo-yo. How many years of bad luck is there for breaking a mirror in the Hall of Mirrors?"
However, Kat said that Suehprom was responsible for their being in the nothing universe. Something else must have happened, but he is not confessing to that.
Doctor. "Well, Leonardo is in the castle in the middle of nothing, creating his own Pattern."
Suehprom. "And all of you came out of nothing?"
Doctor. "Yes."
Suehprom. "Is he in the same nothing that you came out of?"
Doctor. "Yes."
Suehprom. "Close the door."
Kat. "Leonardo! Get your ass up here! Now!"
Suehprom. "I have nothing against him. I just don't want anything out there, coming in here." The duplicated couple is trying to close the door, but Kat is holding it open and they are trying to avoid physical contact with her. The purple dinosaur is close to the door.
The Doctor goes to the door, intercepting the creature and uses his stunner on it, to keep it frozen and out of the hallway. He throws a stasis grenade to freeze it and the floating needle that Kat created to attack Smiling Jenny's balloons. "There. That settles that."
I interject. "Doctor, if technology works here, can we get out?"
Doctor. "Possibly, Steed. I'll have to think on this a bit. This is a mirror universe. If I just put the coordinates in backwards, it should work."
He goes to the door to call out to Leonardo. "When you come up, take the 'left' walkway! There's a stasis field on the right!" He repeats it louder. He goes back to the TARDIS to plan our escape. In a few moments, he calls out. "Is everyone ready to leave?"
All of us are eager to leave, so we enter single file. Suehprom brings Delwin in, he must have pulled him through the mirror. He states boldly. "Let's go."
Doctor. "Let's wait a bit longer for Leonardo. Kat, get him up here, please."
She reaches him mentally. Watching the monitor, I can see him enter the hallway. He walks into the Corridor of Mirrors and must have tried to summon us; because with him, he has duplicates of: Kat, the Doctor, Ace, Emma, and myself. Suehprom and Smiling Jenny weren't duplicated again, because he didn't know they were here. There is also a duplicate of Brand; no surprise there, he has a strong view of himself. Now there is two of everyone but Leonardo. The duplicate Doctor and Ace was pulling a duplicate TARDIS into the hallway.
The Doctor leaves the TARDIS to face his duplicate. "Don't tell me it's time for another regeneration."
The other Doctor. "No, the regeneration's would look different."
The original Doctor scans the duplicates. "I hate to tell you this, old chap, but you are a reverse of me."
Suehprom. "Doctor, are you saying that all the duplicates are reversed?"
The Doctor nods. "Yes."
Suehprom. "What about Delwin?"
After scanning him. "No, he's one of us."
Suehprom smiles. "Good."
Emma and I step out of the TARDIS to meet our duplicates. Conversation becomes confusing because too many people are trying to talk. I scan my duplicate. He doesn't have Pattern and is not of the blood of Amber. He is reversed and a normal Shadow duplicate. We give up trying to converse and invite them into the TARDIS.
The Doctor tries the apple trick again. It works outside the door, which is in the nothing universe. It doesn't work in the hallway, a mirror universe. The duplicates are reversed, so it seems that the nothing universe is also a mirror universe. It is too confusing. Our Shadow duplicates gained an independent existence. Disposing of them is not an option, as I see it. An idea takes shape to solve a few problems, but I will have to think it through first.
"Emma, will you wear my bowler for awhile? It will reduce confusion and help keep track of who is who."
She smiles. "Very well. But it clashes with my current attire."
Everyone returns to the TARDIS and the duplicate TARDIS is left behind. The Doctor puts the coordinates to the infirmary - backwards - then starts it up. We dematerialize, then rematerialize in the infirmary. He scans the environment to see if we are really home, my home that is. It is confirmed!
Those who leave the TARDIS for Castle Amber are Leonardo, a recovering Delwin, and pairs of: Brand, Kat, Suehprom, and Smiling Jenny.
The rest of us step out into the infirmary, but I stop our foursome for a chat. "We have some unfinished business and I have a proposal for our duplicates." My duplicate smiles in agreement, he picks up on my idea. I continue. "Emma, how would you like to take up permanent residence in Amber?"
She smiles. "I have grown quite fond of Amber. There are worse places to call home. I will miss my computerized wardrobe closet. So, I 'must' insist that my quarters have all the possible comforts of home."
"Of course, my dear. It will be our 'top' priority. We will gather anything we want to bring back to Amber."
She adds. "Besides, I think I will like working for Vialle."
"You mean Random?"
She raises an eyebrow and folds her arms. "Not at all."
I laugh. "I'm sure they will keep us 'both' very busy."
I turn to the duplicates. "Mrs. Peel and Steed, how would you like to take up permanent residence on Shadow Earth and continue with the Ministry?"
The duplicates discuss the options. "Well, Mrs. Peel, should we go to Shadow Earth? Back to the standard fare of missions - possibly face the Village again?"
Mrs. Peel. "These adventures have been interesting, but 'home' does have a certain appeal. Even the Village, if necessary."
My duplicate. "It's settled then. The wine appeals to me the most. Of all the Shadows we've visited, Earth has the best wines."
Emma offers. "I bet we can sell the idea of a good Steed - bad Steed concept."
I smile. "That could work."
We have a consensus. "It may take a bit of work, but I think we can pull it off. Opinions?" With our agreement, we work on a cover story and plan our course of action. We ask the Doctor to drop us off on Shadow Earth. Leonardo was going to send us there using Pattern, but I held it off. He had no idea where we were going and I didn't want to do any unnecessary traveling. I gave the Doctor my address in Westminster, he will feed it into the TARDIS controls and we will be on our way soon.
Suehprom approaches us. "Steed, should we let Random know what is happening?"
I would rather not, until we are back. We may not get this opportunity again. My duplicate and I respond simultaneously. "I have something else to do first. I don't think we need to interrupt him, yet." My duplicate smiles back at me. This is quite spooky, hearing yourself. I think this Steed will do just fine.
A Suehprom disappears, I sense a spell cast. He is now flanked by the Smiling Jenny twins. He is quite doomed. They leave with Delwin. We say good-bye to Leonardo and the Kat twins.
The Doctor asks the Brand duo, their plans. One replies. "Given our current dietary requirements. I think it is best to stay and make peace with the family." They leave and I hope we made the correct decision. Only time will tell.
Our foursome is now alone with the foursome of the Doctor and Ace. The Doctor gives his Trump to my duplicate and me, in case we need to reach him in the future. We return to the TARDIS and the Doctor activates it. Shortly we are in my flat in Westminster. The Doctor asks that we give his regards to the Brigadier. We agree, say our good-byes, and leave. It seems like we have been adventuring together for years. I'll miss the Time Lord.
The TARDIS departs. I scan my flat for any monitoring devises. I find a microphone, which I deactivate. All they would have heard is the sound of the TARDIS.
Before I get the opportunity to begin anything, I feel the tingling of a Trump contact. I better get it over with, I don't want any interruptions later. I let the others know I am answering a contact. They join me in the contact. :Yes?:
:Steed. Random here. I have a job for you.:
:What can I do for you, sire?:
Random. :There is a younger relative who needs an education.:
:We're never to old to learn, sir. Who do you mean?:
Random. :Harrumph. Have you met Leonardo?:
:Oh, I believe so.:
Random. :He needs to be updated on the current family and political situation and apprised on the value of discretion and restraint.:
:Admirable qualities, indeed milord. Very well. I was planning to return soon for a briefing after I resolved some loose ends on Shadow Earth. You should know, there are a couple of Brand's in Amber.:
Random. :I know.:
:They are Pattern Ghosts. One is a mirror image of the other.:
Random. :What do you feed a mirror image Pattern Ghost? Backwards blood?:
:I wouldn't hazard a guess. Brand did say that with his current dietary requirements, he would work to cultivate the good graces of the family. And he did work with us to get out of Undershadow.:
Random. :I imagine so.:
:I'm sure he acted out of self-preservation, like the rest of us. From Undershadow, we went to this nothing universe. Anything we thought of was created. Brand apparently thought highly of himself, thus a duplicate of himself was created. Leonardo created duplicates of many of us.:
Random. :I understand that Leonardo created a Pattern there.:
I act surprised. :Is that what he was doing? I thought you needed an item of Power to do that, like the Jewel of Judgment or something.:
Random. :That is what I was just told, and he 'had' such an item.:
I notice the use of the past tense. :I was aware that it was Leonardo and Kat who created a duplicate of Castle Amber there. There were also duplicates of many of us.: I play innocent. :I was not aware that completed a Pattern. We were just trying to find a way out of there. By the way, I sustained Brand's existence a couple of times (the original, not the duplicate). I wouldn't recommend further treatments, without some assurance of his 'good intentions'.: I pause. :Do I have your leave to settle my affairs here, before returning to Amber?:
Random. :I suppose you are permitted a 'little' time, before taking on your next assignment.:
:Thank you, sire. I sincerely appreciate that.:
Random. :Maybe we can stick him in the kitchen or something.:
:I could teach him some culinary skills. More of our generation should know how to cook properly. Some become too dependent upon their powers to survive without using them.:
Random. :Not bad. Hmm. I like the thought of some of them 'without' their powers. By the way, do you know where Dworkin is?:
:Oh yes, I believe he may still be in Undershadow. He was trying to help me with my teleporting difficulties and we were trying to find a way out. When I summoned the Pattern to teleport us out, he didn't hold on. Not a very hospitable place.: I describe in detail the description of the place and our activities from there to our return to Amber; leaving out the discussion with our duplicates. :Dworkin may find a way out of there. Who knows?:
Random. :I recall Merlin discussing such a place. He also described an Alice in Wonderland style bar at one time. Both were very odd.:
:Merlin may have an idea how to get someone out of there. I wouldn't know how to get back there again. I found that it is quite painful to summon the Pattern there.
Random. :We will leave that as unfinished business for now. Tell me, Steed. Have you given any thought to having children?:
I look at Emma and nearly laugh. :Why 'no', it has never seriously occurred to me.:
She glares at me and elbows me in the ribs.
Random. :Good! Don't! One more thing. How many Shadow duplicates are there now?:
:To my knowledge there is a duplicate of Kat, Doctor, Ace, Suehprom, Smiling Jenny, Brand, Emma, and myself. Emma will return to Amber with me soon. Our duplicates will remain on Shadow Earth, in our stead. I discovered that the duplicates are Shadows of ourselves with no Pattern and not of the blood. I expect that Brand's duplicate is the same.:
Random. :That 'is' a blessing.:
:Have you heard from Scout lately? He went looking for Eric some time ago and we haven't heard from him since.:
Random. :I think Scout has his situation well in hand.: He chuckles at that.
I found out later that Scout, Luke, and Merlin (in Eric's body) went to negotiate with Eric (in Merlin's body). In order to exchange Merlin (in Eric's body) for a Spikard. Luke used Werewindle to lock with Eric's Spikard (in Merlin's body) in magical combat. Scout dropped from Ygg and severed Eric's hand (in Merlin's body). The Spikard was then used to switch Eric and Merlin back to their own bodies. So, Eric was captured and Merlin has his own body back - with a severed hand in the bargain. His shape changing abilities should help in the re-attachment and healing. He also got his throne back. That is now resolved. Good job Scout...
I 'may' have a talk with Eric later, but I would have to visit him in a Chaosian cell. He is from another time line and I don't know if he knows anything about me - I don't even know if I was 'born' in this other time line. I doubt it, but who knows? Do I really want to know if what I learned in the Jewel of Judgment is true? I like things just the way they are, with Flora as my mother, thank you very much!
:Thanks, Random. I'll be home soon.:
We close contact.

Just the four of us now. "If we had time, we could play a round of Bridge. But we have a lot of work ahead of us. Once I recover our Trumps, I will leave one of mine here for you. Keep them well hidden. First, we need to take care of your little problem of being mirror images."
I take Mrs. Peel aside and address our duplicates, pointing to the bedroom. "Well, both of you have a lie down for a moment. This may be a bit disorienting, but needs to be done." They nod and lay down on the bed, side by side. The 'new' Steed and Mrs. Peel are essentially 'Shadow duplicates'. I summon my Pattern awareness and force my will on an unusual task. I begin 'shifting' them, as I would traveling through Shadow. I shift their bodies to match our forms, reversing their left/right and east/west orientation; physically and mentally. It takes awhile and I do it slowly, with their comfort in mind. I include some scar tissue behind the ear lobe of Steed that is healing. It will look as though someone performed surgery on him.
Once that is accomplished, I make mental contact with them. They will need strong mental blocks to enforce their personalities and strengthen their cover story. No probes or brain-washing will pierce it to learn anything more. They will also be immune to any Shadow Earth style invasive treatment; including the 'tanks'.
I contacted the Brigadier by phone, to give him the Doctor's regards and well wishes. I gave him a very brief run down of the Doctor's activities which included his help in eliminating the Creed invasion. In this, he was gratified that the Doctor was available to help in our hour of need. Also, Mrs. Peel and I have been enlisted in helping the Doctor lately, thus explaining our absence. Then I asked a small favor of him, while manipulating some Shadow probabilities. Not mind control, just to be convincing - and he was aware that we 'had' worked together before. It all made perfect sense.
The favor was this. If some investigative agency asks him, would he be so kind to pass the information on, that we were assisting his scientific advisor. Not that he witnessed this, but that is what he 'heard'. And no, he doesn't know when his advisor will return. The Brigadier should only reveal what he 'wishes' to volunteer. After all, he has secrets to keep from other the agencies as well. Mrs. Peel and I would be at his disposal in the future. In the event that he had difficulty contacting his scientific advisor, 'we' could be his replacement advisors. (Meaning a 'new' team). Besides, they would have the Doctor's Trump and can possibly reach him (the Brigadier doesn't need to know 'anything' about Trumps). The Brigadier didn't see why our services would be needed, but he didn't have a problem with those arrangements. We thanked him kindly and bid him adieu.
I encourage my companions to rest a bit, including Emma. It has been awhile since we've slept. I stood guard, in case we had any unwanted visitors.
While they rested, I took a bath and got dressed. It was absolutely delightful to be clean again. Then, I raided the cupboard. I was famished! I fixed a dinner for all of us. I checked the telly for the news, to see what we've missed. A few hours later, I roused and fed everyone. We ate, discussed current events, and finalized our plans. Everyone got bathed and found suitable clothing. Fortunately, Emma left various outfits in my flat, for just such a situation. I could see Emma's outlook improve immediately. Emma and I found items for disguises. It just wouldn't do, to be seen as we were.
We made a trip to a local bookstore. I purchased two Tarot decks, similar in size to that of our Trump decks. I pocketed them and began to shift them to appear like our original Trump decks. I can now exchange them at our earliest convenience.

It was approaching tea time and we stopped at the Richoux. We sat at separate tables, but were close enough to overhear conversations.
The new Steed went to work. He went to a pay phone and invited Mother over for tea and a little chat. The gist of it was that the prodigal son wanted to return to the fold. He wanted to talk to Mother, not some underling, in a public place. A 'respectable' and crowded place, where there would be a reluctance to have trigger happy lackeys around. He also gave his regards to No. 2 or James. Within an hour Mother arrived, being pushed by Rhonda, accompanied by a few men. I'm sure it irked him to meet at a place as public and busy as this. But Mother knew that this was the perfect place to renew old friendships, and he understood my reticence.
"Hello, Mother. I've missed you horribly, you are looking well. As I said earlier, I would like to end my retirement, as does Mrs. Peel. In light of past events and now that my family affairs are completed, I feel that you deserve a full explanation."
He harumphs. "It's about time, John." How like Random, he is.
My counterpart smiles warmly. "Mrs. Peel contacted me during the Creed invasion, at a time, when I was assisting the scientific advisor of Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart, from a group called U.N.I.T., on a rather mundane case."
"I know the chap." He grumbles.
"The scientific advisor and I devised an implant that jammed the mental and mechanical influence of the Creed. To be brutally honest; he did the work and I volunteered to be his guinea pig. The scientific advisor succeeded; he and I both had them. However, for safety reasons, Mrs. Peel did not. There were side effects we didn't foresee. It was necessary to adapt to the Creed's possible environments, so it permitted the wearer to slow down their metabolism, so little oxygen was needed at times. This is why I was able to resist the sleeping gas, for so long. It also jammed others' brain waves using ultra-sonics and some other things that I didn't understand, thus influencing others or confusing them."
Mother looked skeptical, but I could see that he was open to the possibility. After all, the Creed were a formidable threat and there were aspects about them that the Ministry may never learn. 
"The implant was still in place when I visited the Ministry, because I wanted to make sure that all vestiges of the Creed influence were eliminated. The resistance to the sleeping gas was not perfect, so I was subsequently captured and taken to the Village. The implant also jammed monitoring equipment (much like the Creed's equipment)."
"I used the implant to evade the Village monitors and with the scientific advisor's help, I escaped. I returned to rescue Mrs. Peel, or at least appeal for her release. I sincerely regret my assault on No. 2, but I was rather upset by Mrs. Peel's treatment and we were still uncertain if the Creed threat was over, enemies were everywhere and time was of the essence. You'll note that no one was harmed as a result of my actions, except for the possibly of someone's pride."
"After my second escape, I had it removed. I felt it was too dangerous for continued use and we were satisfied that the Creed menace was truly gone (hopefully forever)." He shows Mother the scar; behind the earlobe, barely noticeable. "The implant was made of high density impact resistant plastic covering micro-miniaturized components, placed under the skull. Nearly invisible under x-rays, to the untrained examiner."
Mother has a few questions. "What about your coconspirator, the elusive No. 124?"
"Ah him. He was another poor victim of the Creed invasion. He was at one time, converted by them. We captured him and tested an implant on him. He became free of their influence, yet retained the abilities of their tender ministrations and the Creed virus. His body was 'pliable' to an extent. He had potential to be an excellent agent for the Ministry, he was quite fond of James; that shows that he was a good judge of character."
"After the rescue of Mrs. Peel, he fell victim to a terminal system overload between the implant and the Creed devices; complicated from injuries received during the escape. He was injured by the closing doors, James probably mentioned that. He soon died and was cremated along with the thousands of people who were collected during the cleanup of the Creed invasion. Poor confused and tormented lad..."
"That is what convinced us to remove the implants and destroy them. They were too dangerous in 'anyone's' hands, including the wearer's. It would have proved fatal to us, if we wore them much longer."
"What was the need for the drug?" I was waiting for that one. 
"My request for the Forget-Me-Knot drug was to use with other drugs to help victims of the Creed who were in process of being absorbed by the Creed organism. To help the victims, as they were being healed and rehabilitated. I guessed that the drug was organic in nature, like snake venom for example, not chemically manufactured. It would be more effective on the victims, then anything we could create in a lab."
"Others have since taken care of that problem and the drug is no longer required. Not knowing the extent of possible the Creed influence at that time, I couldn't divulge the reason for the request. I hope you understand, Mother."
He leans back and takes a drink. "I see. Now answer the big one, how did you leave the Village? There were no signs of travel, detected by radar or sonar. You just vanished. How?"
My counterpart takes a bite from a macaroon and passes the tray to Mother. Nice touch. "Well, Mother, the scientific advisor is a clever and resourceful individual. He followed me to the Village, by tracking my implant. He has a rather unique form of transportation; quite unbelievable, in fact. I am not at liberty to divulge the details, without clearance from the Brigadier. If he approves, I will be delighted to tell you everything. It is a security issue, I'm not permitted to discuss. Suffice it to say, we will not be able to access or utilize any technologies that U.N.I.T. has at their disposal, and vice versa. We will just have to rely on our own resources, and I regret that can't give you a more satisfactory answer."
Mother grumbles. "I will have a chat with him, of course. I am afraid that it may be as you said. Interdepartmental security and all. Damn."
My double continues. "But that is of no importance. The location of the Village has been kept secret. The scientific advisor is the only person who knows the location, besides us. He is busy elsewhere and doesn't care about such trifles. I can only assure you that all our departmental secrets are safe guarded and there are no more Creed threats. I would appreciate it if a formal thanks was issued to U.N.I.T.'s advisor for his help. I am sure that Mrs. Peel and I have been rescued many times over, not to mention the Earth, because of his efforts."
He smirks at that. "Now, tell me about those damned cards, you were so concerned about earlier." He knows they appear to be only 'plain' pasteboard cards, with nice pictures on them. "You 'insisted' that they could be used for communication."
My counterpart puts on his most innocent look. "Mother, you know as well as I do, that that is quite impossible. They are worthless, of course. They are of sentimental value to me, but no more than that." He suppressed a chuckle. "It was the implants. I was using them to influence you with hypnotic suggestions, it was an excuse and an attempt to make your mind more open to suggestions. It jams brain waves. It is far from perfect and you are made of sterner stuff. Unless you allowed yourself to be more pliable, which you weren't, the implant wasn't effective."
My double pauses to take another drink and looks Mother in the eyes, unflinching. "I was hoping we could escape from there without harming anyone. I couldn't permit myself to harm you, old friend. We go back a long way, back to the Royal Navy. You know others have tried to use me to get to you before. I couldn't be coerced to do it them, and I wouldn't do it, ever." My double looks away, to mask a hint of sadness. I empathize with him.
Mother coughs. "Understood." He takes a drink and also masks a sign of weakness. Then he returns to his old gruff self.
The new Steed returns his gaze to Mother. "So, Mother. Everything is back to normal as it should be and we are asking to be re-instated. We will surrender to any examination freely and happily. If you wish to return us to the Village, so be it."
Steed and Mrs. Peel exchange glances and smile. Mrs. Peel speaks up. "But you will find that we will be more valuable here, under your 'strict' supervision. We want to earn your trust. At least to prove that our loyalties have always been with the Ministry."
Steed holds out his hands, ready for the handcuffs. Mrs. Peel follows suit. We smile, waiting for what is to come...
Mother grins. "Not necessary, you two. Let's finish tea first, then we'll head back. You both remember procedures. They haven't changed."

Emma and I observed what happens, while in disguise. When the Trumps were mentioned, I scanned surface thoughts of Mother to get a visual image of 'where' they are. We wait until they leave, confident that things will probably work out. Even after long examinations and interrogations, our counterparts will take their places in the organization and will become invaluable assets.
I try using teleportation on the decks themselves to exchange them, visualizing the place I saw in Mother's mind. Leaving them, hopefully, undetected. Emma and I get a hotel room, where we can wait for word from them. I paper clip a note with our room number on my Trump and we return to my flat, leaving the Trump in a hidden pre-arranged place. We wait in the hotel room until we can determine the fate of our duplicates. We purchase any clothing and supplies we want to take to Amber, maintaining our disguises. Steed will be amused when he sees the bill. Satisfied that our doubles are in good hands, we pay for the boarding of the horses, and then leave for Amber on horseback - taking the Royal Way home. I will return later to check on them, to make sure all is well.

When we get back to Amber, I experiment further with teleporting. I found that I don't seem to be teleporting uncontrollably as often. In stress situations, I may occasionally slip, but this lessens with practice. Traveling to a specific location requires that I fix on something very familiar, otherwise the tendency is to travel to a similar shadow.

I began my assignment of educating Leonardo. Kat joined us as well, mostly out of curiosity. It started out being rather boring and tedious, almost like baby sitting. I made the best of it though. I took them on a tour of the Castle and the library, where I pointed out documents that they can read at their leisure that will provide plenty of background information.
We planned a tour of the town of Amber, but transportation needed to be arranged. I will make a proper horseman out of him, if it kills him. Something that should have been done with the others, especially poor Scout. Kat had little interest in learning to ride. I introduced Leonardo to the Stable master and he briefed Leonardo on the proper treatment of horses. I pointed out to him, that mistreatment of mounts is an unpardonable offense in Amber; so he 'better' know how to do it properly.
We made it to the town of Amber. I introduced them to everyone of importance that I could think of. Contacts in town are very important, making close friends of them is essential. We spent a great deal of time in Bayle's Place, drinking, eating, and meeting towns people. I think that Leonardo learned more from meeting the people and hearing their stories, than he would have, reading stacks of reports. Desk work gets boring and I love field work.
I kept having to remind Kat to behave herself, she occasionally tried to play with people mentally; when she became bored. She needed to learn to deal with people at 'their' level and increase her attention span.
I think that Random may send Leonardo out to tour the Golden Circle nations to become exposed to political intrigues. He will do fine, under the wing of a court diplomat. He asks intelligent questions and quietly listens to others to learn what he can. The lad has a lot of potential.
Kat has a lot of potential too, but she needs some discipline. I suggested to Random that Fiona may be of help in this area. He smiled at that and agreed.

At the end of each day, Emma and I get together in her quarters or mine. We sit together on the couch, facing each other; reading and talking. Emma works on crossword puzzles and mental exercise puzzles. We brought a huge stack of them from Shadow Earth, enough to keep her occupied for a long time.
We relax and discuss the day's activities. She leaves some details out, I can tell. She is an agent of Vialle now, as I am for Random. Emma and Vialle have become rather close and she enjoys her new job. I have also heard word of her activities in the gym. She has been keeping in practice with swordplay and hand-to-hand combat. Some highly trained guardsmen have been practicing with her and she is gaining quite a reputation at being nearly unbeatable for a Shadow dweller. I'm quite proud of her.
Emma hints at our visiting the Golden Circle nations; and that I should hear word from Random about it eventually. She smirks at knowing something 'before' I do. One of our little games, we play it like we play chess: teasingly and seductively.
Indeed. I'm 'sure' I will hear from Random about it soon. 

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R. Cal Westray, Jr.
Copyright 2001 [Westray.org].
All rights reserved.
Revised: October 23, 2007 .