by Van ©2017


Chapter 5

Dramatis Personæ


After a quick side trip to the nearest water closet, Peggy and Sam strolled down the perfectly ordinary halls of what appeared to be a perfectly ordinary building.  Sam had no idea as to where she might be, geographically.  They might have been any place in England, or Great Britain, for that matter.  She did note that all the panes of all the windows they passed had received a light coat of white paint, rendering them translucent, and were crisscrossed with masking tape as a precaution against bombing.  The faint clattering of typewriters could be heard, and most of the doors they passed bore signs denoting whatever went on in the room or rooms beyond.  They passed one door labeled "LOGISTICAL OPERATIONS ANALYSIS."  Across the hall was a door labeled "OPERATIONAL LOGISTICS ANALYSIS," and next in line was "ANALYTICAL LOGISTICS ANALYSIS."  Sam surmised they were in a Military Intelligence facility (or possibly an asylum for bureaucratic lunatics).

They passed and were passed by junior officers and clerks scurrying to and fro.  All were in Army, RAF, and RN uniforms, with a smattering from the services of Allied countries, including more than a few Yanks.  Here and there Military Police stood guard at unlabeled doors.  Many of the bustling soldiers, airmen, and sailors carried folders, loose papers, or cardboard boxes sealed with red tape.  Sam was at once impressed, intimidated, and more than a little curious.  Obviously, she was in the proverbial thick of things.

They came to a door labeled "CANTEEN," Peggy opened the door, and they entered.  The space beyond was large, with several sets of tables and chairs.  Along the far wall was a counter-style serving window through which they beheld a small kitchen and a middle aged woman in a white smock who at the moment appeared to be brewing tea.  About a quarter of the tables were occupied by officers and enlisted ranks, male and female.  Sam was mildly surprised it wasn't one or the other, meaning either officers or enlisted.  Apparently, Military Intelligence facilities were more egalitarian than was typical of Sam's experience.  Oh-by-the-way, at a table by himself, off in one corner and sipping tea, sat a mature, rather handsome (in Sam's opinion), gentleman in a civilian suit, and he was...
"Sir!" Sam bleated.  Suddenly her heart was hammering, her breath coming in gasps, her face flushed, and she found herself to be very nervous.  The gentleman in question was none other than DCS Christopher Foyle!  Peggy grinned, took hold of her arm, and led Sam towards what she was sure was her impending doom.

Meanwhile, a friendly smile on his handsome (in Sam's opinion) face, Foyle stood and made a welcoming gesture, indicating the table.  "Sam, Agent Carter."

"Please, call me Peggy," Peggy said as she shook Foyle's hand, then pulled out a chair and sat.

"Sir!" Sam bleated, again.  Her cheeks felt like they were on fire.

"Samantha, sit," Peggy chuckled.

Sam dragged back a chair and sat, as suggested.

"Are you well, Sam?" Foyle asked with fatherly concern.

Before Sam could answer, the woman in the white frock from the kitchen appeared, bearing a tray with two mugs of steaming hot tea and a small pitcher of milk (probably of the condensed variety).  "There's a sandwich on the way, just for you," she said to Sam with a warm smile.  "They tell me you're hungry."

"I-I am," Sam stammered, still blushing, ignoring her rumbling stomach.  She managed a weak smile.  "You're most kind."

"So they tell me," the woman chuckled, then returned to the kitchen.

Sam turned back to her table companions.  Peggy was smiling a rather infuriating smile, clearly enjoying Sam's discomfiture.  Foyle was waiting patiently for Sam's answer.

"Tickety-boo, Sir," Sam belatedly responded.  "I'm tickety-boo... and hungry."

As if on cue, the woman reappeared, this time with a plate, and on the plate was a sandwich, but not just any sandwich.  It was thick-sliced, white bread with lettuce, sliced tomato, and several slices of roast beef!

"Keep your ration book, love," the woman said as she set the plate and a cloth napkin before Sam.  "It's on His Majesty."

"Oh, thank you!" Sam gushed.  It was a near thing, but she managed to offer her thanks before wolfing her first bite of the sandwich.  It was beef, real beef, and it was heavenly!  Sam was halfway through the first half of the sandwich before she remembered her manners.  Her blush returned, she gulped a little tea, then swallowed.  "Sorry," she said in a small voice.

"Quite all right, Sam," Foyle said with a smile.

Peggy watched as Sam resumed eating.  She was also smiling (in a manner Sam would have found most annoying if, in the last few hours or days, she hadn't come to love Peggy like the big sister she'd never had).

"She's been released?" Foyle asked Peggy as Sam ate.

"Certified fit for duty," Peggy confirmed with a nod.  "I've been informed you have some degree of responsibility for our rescue, DCS Foyle."

Sam's eyes widened in interest as she continued eating.

Foyle shrugged.  "Hardly.  I made a few inquiries, nothing more."

"You stuck your neck out and demanded to know why your superiors ordered Samantha to serve as my driver, by name," Peggy said earnestly.

Foyle's smiled and gave a self-depreciating shrug.  "I have something of a reputation for asking impertinent questions."

"Impertinent and insightful," Peggy responded.  "Your inquiry led to the discovery of a Hydra mole in Whitehall and lit a fire under the entire operation.  My colleagues were already moving to the rescue before we actually required rescuing."

Foyle shrugged, again.  "I'm just glad to have my driver back," he said, smiling at Sam.

Mesmerized, Sam continued watching the exchange as she popped the last bite of the sandwich into her mouth and chewed.

"I want you to know we are very grateful," Peggy said quietly.

Still chewing, Sam nodded earnestly, then swallowed, picked up her mug, and gulped more tea.

"Don't worry about the most hidebound of your superiors," Peggy said.  "Know that you have friends at the highest levels of Combined Operations and the SSR... thanks to your asking 'impertinent questions' and worrying about your driver."

Sam blushed, again.  And if it wasn't her imagination, so did DCS Foyle.

Peggy stood, Foyle did as well, and Sam quickly followed.

Peggy shook Foyle's hand.  "I'm afraid I have urgent business elsewhere," she said, nodding towards Sam.  "Take care of her," she said with a smile.

"Of course," Foyle nodded.

Still blushing, Sam extended her hand to Peggy.

"No you don't," Peggy chuckled as she pulled Sam into a warm embrace.  "You've also got friends in high places, and although personally I'm somewhat junior, that includes myself."

"Thank you," Sam whispered.  "Me too, and... thanks."  She watched as Peggy turned and left the canteen.  (Several of the men sitting at other tables and sipping tea also watched.)

"Come, Sam," Doyle said as he shrugged into his coat.  "Back to Hastings."

"Yes, sir," Sam sighed, then emptied her tea mug.

Hat and cap in hand Foyle and Sam exited the canteen and then the building, passing a guard station at the front door and more guards behind sandbag barricades just beyond.  The Wolseley was waiting on the edge of a car park with several other civilian cars, as well as some jeeps, military staff cars, small lorries, and a Staghound armored car.

The keys were in the ignition.  "I need to check the boot, sir," Sam explained, then did so, confirming that her new coat and valise had been delivered, but before she could open the driver's door and climb behind the wheel, Foyle asked a question that stopped her cold.
          Christopher Foyle......and
"When were you planning on telling me the truth about what happened during our trip to the conference in London, Sam?" he inquired.

An ice cold lump formed in Sam's stomach.  He knows about Wonder Woman, that horrid Chinese Spider Lady, and everything that happen in London??  "You know about that, sir?"

"Agent Carter gave me a full briefing on a dossier they recovered at the farm.  It documented, among other things, your 'London Operation'," Foyle explained.  "Apparently it was quite detailed.  Your abduction, Wonder Woman, the Chinese tong... all of it.  When, Sam?"

Sam swallowed before answering.  She felt like a little girl being dressed down by a loving but disappointed father after some childish mischief, exactly like a little girl being dressed down by a loving but disappointed father after some childish mischief.  "Uh, never, sir," she admitted

"I see," Foyle answered.  "And why is that, Sam?  Have I been that terrible a boss?"

"Oh, sir!  No sir!" Sam blurted, "exactly the opposite!  It's just... I promised Wonder Woman I'd keep everything quiet...and I was afraid.  I still am."

"Afraid, Sam?

"Yes, sir," Sam said, miserably.  "I'm afraid you won't let me drive for you, sir, that you'll send me away, and... I just couldn't take that, sir.  I love driving for you, doing something that's really worth doing and..."  Her lips were trembling, her eyes welling, and Sam was very much afraid she was going to cry.

"Sam, please control yourself," Foyle said in a firm but not unkind manner.

"Yes, sir," Sam sniffed, then wiped her eyes.

"I have no intention of sending you away, Sam," Foyle continued, "but we're going to have to be more careful about the situations I send you into from now on.  You seem to have a talent for attracting, shall we say, unusual trouble."

Sam managed a weak smile.  "It only happens when you have me drive for someone else, sir."

"Or send you on holiday in London," Foyle said dryly.

Sam wiped her eyes, again, and shrugged.  "I prefer visits home, anyway... sir."

Foyle smiled and climbed into the passenger's seat and Sam climbed behind the wheel.  "Back to Hastings, Sam," he ordered.

"Yes, sir," Sam answered as she turned the key, then paused.  "Uh, exactly where are we, sir?"

"I'll give you directions as we go," Foyle said.

Sam's smile widened, she put the Wolseley in gear, and they pulled away.  "Jolly good, sir."


Mary was feeding the pigs when she heard the sound of motors.  She made her way to the main yard and watched as an expensive sedan and a lorry towing a large trailer pulled up.  Something large was lashed down on the trailer under a canvas tarp.

The vehicles rolled to a stop as Mary's mother emerged from the house, wiping her hands with her apron.  Her father was striding purposefully from a nearby field.

The doors of the car opened and a driver in chauffeur's livery and Howard Stark emerged.  At the same time a pair of men in working garb emerged from the lorry's cab, strolled back to the trailer, and began releasing the ropes securing its bulky, mysterious load.

Dressed in one of his stylish, expensive suits and with a fedora atop his head at a jaunty angle, Howard strode forward, took Mary's hand, and planted a gentle kiss.  "Mary," he said with a mustachioed smile.

"Mr. Stark," Mary answered (and blushed).

"Mary?" her mother asked as she arrived at her daughter's side

Howard's smile widened and he took Mary's mother's hand.  "And you would be Mary's sister," he said as he kissed her hand.

Mary smiled and rolled her eyes as her mother blushed and giggled.

"She's me mum," Mary explained.

"It can't be!" Howard responded in mock surprise.

Meanwhile, Mary's dad had finally arrived.  "Enough of that, you," he barked, then nodded at the lorry and trailer.  "What's all this, then?"

"Howard Stark," Howard said, pumping Mary's dad's hand.

"The one what helped my Mary," Mary's dad responded, managing what may have been a smile.  "Thom Tuppen."

The workers had finished removing the ropes and were pulling back the tarp... revealing a brand new, bright green and canary yellow farm tractor with "JOHN DEERE" painted on the side.
1940 John
"I put in fer one of them with the Board," Thom said, frowning at the tractor, "and was turned down."

"I pulled a few strings," Howard said, then shifted his smile to Mary, "in gratitude for your daughter's gallant assistance to the war effort."

"She ain't no good to me unless she runs on water," Thom huffed, still frowning at the tractor.

The chauffeur handed Howard a large portfolio/envelope tied with string, which Howard handed to Thom.  "The paperwork, including ration allotments for petrol and lubricating oil.  A truck with the attachments should be right behind us."

"Truck?" Thom asked, gazing at the tractor with a skeptical eye.

"Lorry, Dad," Mary whispered.

"Oh," Thom huffed.  "What... 'attachments'?"

"Cultivator, spreader, everything my people tell me you'll need to put the tractor to use," Howard explained.

Thom continued gazing at the tractor with a skeptical eye.  "Me neighbors'll give me all manner of grief for lording it over them with a fancy new American tractor," he muttered.

Howard smiled.  "The petrol ration is by the acreage under cultivation, regardless of the owner.  Coordinate its use with your neighbors and I'm sure they'll sing a different tune."

"Thom Tuppen," Mary's mother scolded her husband, "stop looking for an excuse to turn down such a kind gift and thank the nice man."

Mary managed not to laugh, but it was a near thing.

Thom turned to Howard, smiling somewhat sheepishly, and shook his hand, again.  "Don't mean to be rude.  Thank you."

"You're most welcome," Howard replied with a smile of his own.

"Come into the kitchen for a cuppa," Mary's mom offered (meaning ordered), then took Howard by the arm and led him towards the house.

Thom put an arm over his daughter's shoulders and they followed.  He leaned close and whispered in her ear.  "Keep away from that one," he warned.  "He has the look of a Reynard about 'im."

"Oh, Dad!" Mary complained (and blushed).


A rolled canvas bundle tucked under her left arm, Peggy strolled down the hallway.  She passed clerks scurrying about carrying message flimsies, rolled charts, or file folders.  Most were female, Peggy's age or younger, and dressed in various Allied uniforms.  She approached an MP guarding a door, returned his smile as he opened the door, and entered the small laboratory beyond.

Dr. Saskia Vogel, wearing a starched white lab coat over a simple dress, looked up from a work table occupied by a lattice of steel rods and clamps supporting a complex array of retorts, glass tubes, distillation coils, flasks, and test-tubes.  "Agent Carter," the redhead said with a tired smile, "I'm afraid I am still haffing very limited success.  I cannot synthesize zhe required antidote vith zhis equipment, und as I told you earlier..."

Peggy sighed.  "You're not at all sure you can synthesize a suitable antidote in less than six months, even in a fully equipped lab.  And by then it won't be needed."  She smiled.  "You look terrible, Saskia."

Vogel managed a weak smile in return.  "I am not sleeping vell.  Zhe drugs von Spitze gave me are still leaving my body.  I vill be better soon."  Her smile turned slightly coy.  "Und thank you for zhe kind remark."

"My pleasure," Peggy chuckled, then dropped the canvas bundle on an empty side table.

"Zhat is zhe Zwangsjacke?" Vogel asked, nodding at the bundle.

Peggy lifted the bundle, let it fall open, and was holding a straitjacket for Vogel's inspection.  It was unbleached canvas with tan leather straps and steel buckles.  "This is a high security model, with a collar, upper-arm, forearm, and thigh straps, as you suggested."  Peggy turned the jacket.  "I don't think Harry Houdini, himself, could have escaped from this thing.  We had to send to Bedlam for one in her size.

"It is important that zhe jacket be tight und inescapable," Vogel said.  "Vhen she has an attack, she vill be like one of zhe berserkers of old."

"And you're sure she will have attacks?" Peggy asked.  "So far she hasn't."

"I am sure of nothing," Vogel responded.  "Every individual is different.  I know she appears to be somewhat calm at zhe moment, but she could erupt in a self-destructive frenzy at any time."

"Well..."  Peggy placed the jacket back on the table.  "This thing will be ready when it's needed.  Come.  Let's check in on the prisoner."

"You haff taken all zhe other precautions I suggested?" Vogel asked as Peggy led her from the lab.

"We have," Peggy confirmed as they made their way down the hall to a downward leading staircase.

They descended to the basement... then on to a sub-basement.  Peggy paused to sign the log book at a guard station, a guard unlocked and opened a gate of iron bars, then they continued down a hallway lined with steel doors, each with a covered viewing port.  By every appearance they had entered a military prison.

A guard unlocked a door and they entered a cell with a steel-framed bed, and on that bed lay Baroness Frieda von Spitze.  She was naked, on her back with her arms at her sides and her feet a few inches apart.  Her wrists and ankles were strapped down in padded medical cuffs and her mouth and lower face shrouded under a leather muzzle.

"We cut her hair short, as you suggested," Peggy.  It was true.  The Baroness' magnificent golden curls were gone, and in there place was a boyish blond crop.

A sympathetic (meaning sinister) smile curled Vogel's lips.  "She vill be more comfortable vithout all zhat tangle of hair in her face."

Her skin glistening with sweat, the Baroness moaned and tugged on her bonds, her desperate, blue-eyed gaze darting from Peggy to Dr. Vogel and back.  "Mrrrrf!"

"There's a rubber bite-protector under the muzzle," Peggy explained, "and the matrons alternate her sleeping positions.  Arms at her sides, as now, or in a full spread-eagle.  One day they place her on her back, the next on her stomach.  And since a top sheet and blanket would irritate her skin, they keep the heat turned up."  It was true.  The air in the cell was somewhat stifling.  "Another of your suggestions, I believe."

Vogel nodded.  "Zhat is vhy she is sweating like a peasant toiling in zhe fields," she purred.  "How are zhe interrogations progressing, if I am allowed to ask?"

Peggy's smile widened.  "We're learning a great deal.  She actually likes getting out of that bed and being strapped to a chair.  I suppose it's a welcome change."

The Baroness glared at Peggy and tugged on her wrist cuffs, again.

Vogel was gazing at the Baroness' bare breasts.  They were beaded with sweat and the nipples flushed, erect, and hypersensitive, a side-effect of the drugs slowly being purged from her system.  "Vhat is zhe rest uff her routine?  Obviously, you cannot leave her in bed day after day."

Peggy smiled.  "There's a treadmill down the hall for exercise."

"Und she participates villingly?" Vogel inquired.

Peggy shrugged.  "A matron provides encouragement.  I understand she started with a cane, but found a feather was all that was required to make her run.  von Spitze's skin is just as hypersensitive to stimulation as you said it would be."

"Und zhe daily ice baths?" Vogel asked, "as I suggested?"

Peggy shrugged, again.  "I don't know if they help her feel any better, but they keep her clean.  Frankly, I don't care, either way.  If half of what I've read in her file and the interrogation transcripts is true, I'd just as soon they hang her and be done with it."

"I haff vitnessed her cruelty first hand," Vogel muttered.  "I haff suffered her cruelty.  I am a scientist, not a physician.  I am not bound by zhe Hippocratic Oath, but I haff a soul.  I am not sure zhe same can be said of Baroness von Spitze."

Peggy smiled at Vogel.  "That said, I wouldn't think less of you if you were feeling some measure of Schadenfreude at the Baroness' expense."

Vogel gazed at the Baroness for several seconds without comment.  The Baroness gazed back.

"She should be restrained at all times," Vogel said finally, "night und day, so she doesn't hurt herself.  Und that includes either zhe muzzle or a tongue-suppressing..."  She turned to Peggy.  "Zaumzeug?"

Peggy smiled.  "Bridle.  For how long?  And how long for the rest of the routine—the exercise, ice baths, and full nudity?"

Vogel turned back and locked eyes with the Baroness, again.  "At zhe very least, six months," she finally said, "but I suggest a full year, just to be safe.  It will take zhat long for zhe residual drugs in her fatty tissues to metabolize und her Neurochemie to stabilize."

The Baroness shivered and tugged on her bonds, again.

"Tea?" Peggy inquired.

"Zhat vould be nice," Vogel responded.  "You are most kind."

"MMMMF!" the Baroness screamed through the rubber block filling her mouth and the muzzle cupping her chin and strapped across her lips as Peggy and Vogel turned and left the cell.

The door slammed, the key turned in the lock, and the Baroness was alone.

Chapter 4 crown
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