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Emma Peel vs. Cathy Gale: Part I

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Offline kingofhairpull

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Emma Peel vs. Cathy Gale: Part I
« on: January 06, 2010, 08:09:02 AM »
Emma Peel clung to the shadows, herself a shadow in the London night.

She didn’t like the situation—there was too much she didn’t know—but she had no choice. Steed was missing and this was the first, and only, clue to his whereabouts.

Emma received the phone call and was told what to do. The message was simple—“come or Steed dies”—and it gave specific instructions about where and when she must go. The note said to come unarmed and alone, and to tell no one, or there would be “consequences.”

She would love to have dropped this on the Ministry to handle. But whom could she trust? If they got to Steed, they could get to anyone. And surely she was being watched, her phone tapped. No; she had no choice. She had to go alone.

As for being unarmed, well, a girl has to take some precautions. The small pistol in her boot, both specially made for her, just might come in handy.

So here she was, in this dodgy section of town, in the middle of the night, very possibly walking into a trap.

But she kept on. She only knew she had to save Steed, or risk death trying, as he had for her many times before. That was her only reality. So, one foot after the other, she crept silently through the night, her mind spinning but her senses focused. Once she saw a black cat pass; it didn't notice her.

Following the directions, which she had memorized, she passed along a quiet industrial street, until she came to the alley where she was supposed to turn. There was no light in the alley, and the glow of street lamps faded as she walked in. She came to a T, as expected, and followed the right-hand turn, now in pitch black.

But she didn't need light. Ten steps in and on her left was the door she was told would be there. It led into the back of a building that faced the next street over. She tried the doorknob; it was unlocked, again as expected.

She took a deep breath before opening the door and stepping in. She closed it behind her, and was in complete darkness.

She took two steps forward, as instructed, and came to a staircase. Up 14 steps, and a second door. It also was unlocked.

Another deep breath, and Emma opened this door, stepping in, and closing it behind her. She stopped, and listened. An engine hummed softly somewhere, and a lorrie passed on the street, but the pounding in her ears was the only sound she heard in the room. Still, she sensed she wasn't alone.

The room was large; the sound of the closing door had echoed before dying, and she felt air move across her face.

Now for the last of the instructions: She took five steps forward from the door. One, two, three, four, five…

"That," came a voice – a woman's voice -- from behind her, "is far enough, Mrs. Peel. Turn around."

Emma stopped and turned, as told, and tried to place the voice. It was vaguely familiar.

Then the lights came on, and Emma saw the source.

"Cathy Gale!"

Emma had always prided herself on an ability to hide her emotions – it had helped numerous times in her business and spy careers, not to mention in poker – but here her self-control deserted her. She didn't know who she was expecting find here, but Steed's former partner never occurred to her.

Yet there she was: Tall, blond and beautiful, and pointing a very serious-looking pistol at her.

"I see I surprised you," said Cathy, smiling. With her gun on Emma, she put a key in the door and locked it. "Then my little plan worked. I had great fun putting it together."

"Dr. Gale, I –" Mrs. Peel took a step forward, only to freeze as the other woman leveled her gun at her.

"I suggest you stand still with your hands at your side," said Dr. Gale. "I am quite serious."

"What do you want with me?" Emma said, coldly.

"Oh, we'll have plenty of time for that," said Cathy. "I've always wanted to meet you. I had wanted to speak with you before you suceeded me with Steed, but … circumstances prevented that."

As she was speaking, Cathy slowly circled around to Emma's right, just beyond the reach of a potential kick.

"I fully trust that you came alone and didn't tell anyone about your adventure," said Cathy, now behind Mrs. Peel. "I'm sure you wouldn't risk your dear Steed — or risk sharing his eternal gratitude if you do save him."

The second part was meant as a jab, and Emma — her façade blown once already — blushed.

"And we'll overlook this," said Cathy as she deftly reached in and removed the pistol from Emma's boot — as if she'd fully expected to find it there.

She then slid her hand up the inside of Emma's thigh — eliciting a surprised "Oh!" — and performed a quick, thorough frisk.

She stepped back, toward the center of the room.

"Turn around, Mrs. Peel. Do you recognize where you are?"

Emma looked about. The room was large, as she had sensed in the dark, a rectangle perhaps 50 feet by 100 feet, with 30-foot-high walls topped by large windows. The floor was bamboo — she'd felt it give as she walked in — and the space was enclosed in shoji sliding doors. High up on the white walls, Emma saw hangings of Japanese caligraphy (which, fluent in the language, she could see were bits of Eastern philosophy).

This was a dojo, a training room for martial arts.

"A dojo, obviously," replied Emma.

"Excellent! You've spent a good deal of time in one of these, from what I understand," said Cathy. "Now down to this end, please. Slowly."

Her gun trained on Emma, Dr. Gale let the other woman pass and followed her to the far end of the dojo. She stopped

Emma some paces from the shoji screen end. 

"By now you must be wondering what this little game is all about," said Cathy, her hand on the screen handle. "I've kept you in suspense long enough. You wanted John Steed, and here he is!"

With a flourish she slid the screen to the side, and there was Steed, all right. But it was Steed as Emma had never seen him before: He was dissheveled!

Emma was speechless. Her normally dapper partner was looking anything but now. He was dressed only in gray pants and white shirt, unbuttoned and untucked. His bowler and cane, jacket and tie, shoes and socks were missing. Even his hair was toussled!

Also, he was being held captive.

The screen that Cathy pushed aside had hidden a workout area, with barbells, benches and other equipment. Steed's clothes were lumped in a corner, next to a woman's overnight bag, a riding crop and what appeared to be a long feather.
In the middle, attached to the back wall, was a metal apparatus that held two chin-up bars. Steed was hanging, spread eagle, on one of them.   

Handcuffs held his hands to the crossbar over his head, and his feet to the support poles on each side. His eyes were covered by a blindfold, his mouth by a piece of duct tape, and his ears with plugs.

Mrs. Peel instinctively stepped toward him.

"No farther." Emma stopped as Cathy pointed her gun at Steed's head, and smiled. "Don't worry, Mrs. Peel. He's fine. I've only … played with him so far."

With that, she removed the blindfold, earplugs and — with a rip — the duct tape. Steed looked up; he was all right.

"Why, Mrs. Peel!" he said with a smile that belied his current state. "I do hope you're here to rescue me."

"Well, that was the plan," said Emma, with a look over at their captor. "But there are a few details left to sort out."

"Indeed there are," said Cathy. "Let me start by explaining why I brought you both here."

Cathy's Story
What a surreal scene, Emma thought to herself.

She stood along the center axis of the dojo, perhaps three-quarters of the way to the end, not 20 paces from Steed – who was trussed up as if for an S&M game, or some bizarre ritual. Cathy Gale walked between two, her gun always on one of them, and recounted a quite unbelievable story.

"Mrs. Peel, you and the rest of the Ministry were led to believe that I gave up my life as a British spy and partner to John Steed due to a desire to return to my first love, anthropology," said Cathy, who'd made her name as a scientist before turned to spydom. "Thus, I tore myself away from England and civilization, and returned to the deepest, darkest Africa to continue my research. Steed was then forced to find a new partner—enter Emma Peel.

"That, however, was not how it actually happened. Is it, John?"

"Who can remember all those details?"

"Let me refresh your memory, then," said Cathy. "I was a young widow back from Africa, a museum curator, bored out of my mind, when I met Steed. Rather, I was to find out later, when Steed went out of his way to meet me. He'd heard about me, looked me up, and started wooing me. Though I didn’t respond to his sexual overtures – he really seemed harmless, at the time -- he did entice me to enter the Ministry.

"The exitement! The adventure! And the chance to work with the great John Steed! I wasn't afraid of dying; my husband, the love of my life, was gone. And, in Africa, I'd taken up the Native way of thinking – we will go when it is our time. Embrace risk, don't fear it.

"Soon, I was an agent, and doing well. I had several successful cases, and worked with a number of partners. Then, then next thing I knew, I was told I was to be Steed's partner! It was a dream come true. He was as brave and daring, and charming, as they said he was. We had several notable triumphs, and he came to see how good I was, too.

"At first, I laughed off his advances — always delivered with that devilish smile. But soon they grew wearisome. Doesn't he give up, I thought? Then I started hearing things about him, from the other women in the Ministry.

"From the talk of it, he'd had them all — or at least the good-looking ones," Cathy said, shooting a glance at Steed. He smiled. "They even had a term, 'Steed-worthy.' And they wanted it, these tarts, they'd do anything to be with the great John Steed. He could have anyone he wanted, and he took advantage, to the fullest.

"So when I refused him, he took it as a challenge. He just couldn't accept that the great Steed could be rejected. It was an impossibility to him. His come-ons grew more insistent, and more uncomfortable for me. Finally, he gave me an ultimatum: Put out or get out.

"I was devastated. I'd been faced with prejudice and roadblocks every step in my life — men are afraid of strong women — but I always worked harder than the next guy, and in the end was usually given a fair shake.

"But not this time. This man," she said, aiming the gun at Steed's face -- Emma for the first time was afraid she was going to shoot --  "this man took it upon himself to stand in my way.

"I complained to our superiors; I went all the way to Mother. But Steed had done a brilliant job, even creating a paper trail of problems in my personal file. He cited a few bent rules and some unorthodox techniques. He even accused me of making a pass at him! Isn't that true, Steed?"

"What woman wouldn't—" he said, before Cathy cut him off with a resounding slap to the cheek.

"Oh, Dr. Gale, you do care!"

She just frowned at him.

"In the end," she went on, "I had no choice. Either I agreed to quit as Steed's partner, and continue to work in the Ministry, or I would be summarily reassigned to a desk job. Well, I'm not one to be told what to do, so I resigned. I tossed my gun on the desk and walked out.

"He ruined my career just because I wouldn't have sex with him."
Mrs. Peel now looked at Steed. Could it be? Could he have orchestrated this whole thing? It seemed mad, like some fantasy created by a rejected admirer.   

"I see you have your doubts, " said Cathy, "You probably think I'm crazy, a classic disgruntled ex-employee, inventing a whole rationale to cover my own mistakes. Then let me go on.

"As it turned out, Steed already had his eye on my replacement. The belle of London high society, that powerful industrialist and champion sportswoman — that's right, Steed had you picked out long before you even knew him.

"Do you remember that late and unexpected invitation to the Prince's garden party? And that small mix-up over seating? 'Oh, is this your seat? Let me introduce myself, John Steed!' That was no mix-up. All planned."
Emma shot him a look.

"And your holiday down at Cannes, when he suddenly showed up in your hotel lobby? Again, no coincidence. You were tyring out your new bikini" — Emma thought, how could she know that? — "and Steed was down checking you out.

"It doesn't end there. Remember your club tennis championship? I believe you won the match."

"He said he was there with his friend the duke," said Emma, the words sounded hollow now even to herself.

"Steed is nothing if not thorough, and he was making sure you were up to his high standards," said Cathy, now more confident that Emma was starting to believe. "Once you'd joined the Ministry and handled a few simple cases, he arranged to have you as his partner. Sound familiar?

"Didn't you wonder about being promoted over some many other more senior and experienced agents? And I'm just talking about the women."

Mrs. Peel knew she'd been selected over more qualified agents, and that the talk was that her looks played a part. But she couldn't help her looks; all she could do was work hard, and prove that she belonged.

And she had. In a matter of months they'd had several major successes. She'd proved she belonged, and even filled the huge footsteps of the universally admired, even idolized, Cathy Gale.

The whole thing sounded preposterous.

"So you've told your story," said Mrs. Peel. "What do you want, your job back?"

"Ha! I'd never work with this pig again," Cathy sneered, leveling another slap at his smiling face. Then she stopped. "You enjoy it too much.

"No, Mrs. Peel, that's not what this is about. I brought you here to warn you. To warn you what happened to me will happen to you, too."

Emma raised a defiant eyebrow.

"You too will face the ultimatum – put out or get out. Or worse. You've heard of Venus Smith, his partner before me, the nightclub singer? That one ended up badly. She got the abortion — he paid, of course — but now she's a broken woman. And there were more before her.

"Or he'll just tire of you, and find someone younger. But it won't end well."

"Thank you very much, Dr. Gale," said Emma, "but I'm not a little girl and I can handle myself. Now is there anything else?"
Cathy smiled.

"Indeed there is, Mrs. Peel. Indeed there is.

"The second reason I staged this was because I'd been denied a chance at giving a fitting farewell to Steed here. I left rather quickly, you see. But over the past few hours, Steed and I have come to see things eye to eye," she said, standing inches from Steed's face, gun at his temple. "Haven't we, John?"

"Absolutely, my dear," said Steed. "You've made yourself perfectly clear."

"But now there's this, Mrs. Peel," walking toward, and with her gun aimed at, Emma. "I'm a proud woman. I didn't like being replaced, and I don't think I deserved to be. So now I'm going to prove to Steed that he made a mistake. I'm going to show him just who the better woman is. Right here, right now."

Cathy looked Emma square in the eyes as she said this. She smiled, confidently, like a little girl who just pulled off a great joke.

"What are you talking about?" asked Emma.

"Oh, Mrs. Peel, don't you see?" Cathy smiled, mirthlessly. "It's really quite simple. I'm going to kick your ass, and Steed is going to have to watch every painful second. "

Emma stared back. Steed was silent.

"Surely you can't be serious," said Emma. "We're reasonable people here. We can find some way to settle this, no matter," she shot a look at Steed, "how badly you may have been wronged."

As Emma spoke, Cathy unbuckled and took off the fashionable black raincoat she'd been wearing. Underneath was revealed a judogi, the white outfit of a judo student, or judoka. The belt was black.
Cathy walked to the overnight bag, tucked away her raincoat, and pulled out another judogi. She tossed it to Emma.

"Put it on."

Emma stared back.

"Put it on!" said Cathy, now pointing the gun on Steed's head.

Emma was dressed all in black, with a short leather jacket over a tight catsuit, and low-heeled boots. She continued to lock eyes with Cathy as she slipped off her jacket, tossing it to Cathy's feet. She kicked off her boots, and fingered the zipper at her neck.

She shot a look at Steed.

"Oh, my apologies, Mrs. Peel," said Steed, lowering his head and, reluctantly, closing his eyes.

Emma slid the zipper down her chest, peeling the outfit off her broad shoulders, down one supple arm at a time, one long leg after the other. She stood there clad only in underwear.

"That's a lovely bra," said Cathy.

About to thank her for the compliment -- it WAS a nice bra – Emma ignored the remark and picked up the jodogi. She slipped it on. It, too, had a black belt.

"You ARE black belt, aren't you?" teased Cathy.

"How is this supposed to be a fair fight," asked Emma, ignoring the question, "when you've got the guns?"

"I have no need of these anymore," said Cathy, walking toward a garbage chute on the wall. She pulled it open and dropped in both guns.

"Now, it's just you and I."

Emma, seeing the weapons fall, ran toward Steed. Wanting to take his head in her hands, she remembered what Gale had said, and held back. He gave her his puppy eyes.

"Mrs. Peel, you can't do anything without this," said Cathy, holding up the key to the cuffs. She dropped it in her bra. "You'll find the key to the door in the same place, if you're as good as they say you are. Now let's go."

Cathy marched up to Emma, stopping inches away, a cocky smile on her face.

"Dr. Gale, surely –"

Cathy cut Emm'as sentence short with a quick, hard, right-handed slap to the face. Emma's head snapped around, her long hair flying.

She looked on, stunned, as Cathy turned, walked several paces away, and spun back toward Emma. She straightened and bowed – the rei, the ritual standing bow of judo.

It had been a long day for Emma. Since being awoken by an early call telling her Steed was being held hostage, and to wait for further instructions, she'd been through a wide range of emotions -- confusion over what could have happened to him, fear for his safety, hope at the appearance of the note, shock at seeing him held captive by Dr. Gale.

But now she was just angry. Emma was used to being in control of situations, and she'd been toyed with long enough.
Her cheek stinging, Emma stood up to her full height, straight as an arrow, feet together, palms on the front of her thighs, and – eyes locked on Cathy's -- she bowed.

The fight was on.