Scarlet Pimpernel

William : A blast from the
the past and my life flashed
before me, Again.

Murray : ……
W- William Steele?

William : The veritable same.
What are you doing here in
Nijowari, Mr. Blake?

Murray : Heh, they finally
threw me under the bus.

William :   . . .

Murray : Ah, don’t worry about
it. Comes with the territory.
Machiavelli never wrote about
the down side.

William : Yeah, I learned it
the hard way.

Murray : When you left, you probably
thought Kettlehake was behind the
attempt on your life. Most people did.

William : I was too confused to care.
The extended family welcomed me with
open arms. Gradually I just forgot
about it.

William : Except for one thing …

Murray : I know.

WS looks a question at him

Murray : The chief pilot. One of ours.
TLO. He told me how concerned
you were and, well, the word
got around quickly.

Murray : That concern won you a
legacy. See, the people were told
you died on the operating table.
K’s minions closed ranks and just
wrote you out of history, not even
a footnote.

WS smiles

Murray : Strange, we never even
got a hint of who was behind the
plot. If it was a cabal or a serious
attempt.
For all we knew, maybe K had set
up some bit of theatre.

William : We never heard and no
one cared about what the gringos
were doing. (smiles)

WS looks around and points to a sidewalk cafe nearby

William : Why don’t we move over
there? Both of us might need a
stiff drink when you hear what
I’ve never told anyone,

Blake nods and they walk across the street

William : My last glimpse of
Childers was him lying unconscious
on the stage and a paramedic
screaming for an ambulance.
I couldn’t get it out of my
mind. Someone died because of
me. And for what?

Murray : As a martyr, you were still
doing good work. (smiles)
That event galvanized Cascadia
like nothing else could.

William laughs and shakes his head ruefully

William : I was in a state of
depression that wouldn’t let up.
I started planning my suicide.

Murray : Good God!

William : Yeah. I sat on the beach
late one night with a bottle of Green
Fairy and two packets of the strongest
painkillers from el farmacéutico.
Rehearsal, you see.

William : Then I went home, stashed
the goods and slept like a baby.

Blake starts to speak, shakes his head, gestures.

William : The next afternoon,
Childers arrives, unannounced.
Wheelchair’n’all.

Blake facepalms

William : And thus my 20 years
of mentoring began.

Murray : Soon after that, the
first Steele Report arrived,
That letter should be in the
state museum.

William : It was a compact cassette.
I thought someone would recognize
my voice for sure and know it was
the real deal.
But no, it was transcribed to text
and distributed. Childers and I both
had contacts in El Paso; one military
guy with access to a lot of internal
intel.

Murray : After that first, people
‘wanted to believe’ and some old
timer remembered the old story of
the Scarlet Pimpernel.
‘A daring hero who cultivates a
secret identity and is disguised.
A formidable swordsman and quick
thinking escape artist.’
Known for his symbol, a simple flower.

William : Anagallis arvensis. Yes, the
scarlet pimpernel. How droll.

Murray : Erm, yes … As I was saying,
The 1903 hero endured as Zorro, The
Shadow, The Phantom, Superman and Batman
within a few decades, Not to mention Iron
Man and other M … um, where was I? Oh
yes, assorted superheroes.

Murray : I remember a time when you just
had to have a cape!

William : I remember a time when,
if you weren’t a dual wielder, you
were nothing. Except when your
minder handed you an avatar, sight
unseen, and all the haters thought
you were female. Sucks to be them.

Murray : Ahem … anyway, Cascadia
kept the faith with the help of your
intel that even we couldn’t get.

William :  Little good it did the USAns.

The Usual Suspects

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