Arctic Steele
Part I
By Chris
 
This is a continuation of "A Devotion of Steele" and takes place in early 1985; that is, right in the middle of season three. Since I have not seen any episodes after "To Steele A Plot" this is my first story that serves as the beginning of my alternative RS world. To sum this one up, well, let me just say that it is a story that requires Steele to stay more than icy calm.


Somewhere in the arctic part of the world

Since there were no windows, it was dark in the back of the van, so he did not see where they were taking him. His kidnappers had been friendly enough to use a smooth rope to tie his hands behind his back. Even though being tied up was uncomfortable per se, the rope would not chafe his wrists that badly. They had not put something over his mouth to prevent him from calling for attention. Maybe they were certain nobody would hear him if he bothered trying. The road they were travelling on now was rather bumpy and it felt like they were going downhill. And the air in the vehicle had become more stale the last couple of minutes. What was that smell? It reminds me of something, he thought to himself. He ransacked his memory for that familiar faint odour that he knew so well but had not experienced in a long time. Ah, mushroom growing, he now remembered from his childhood growing up in Southeastern Pennsylvania. That meant that we have to be underground because no building could be that big, he reasoned.

They had been on the road for several hours but he had no clue in which direction they had travelled. He knew the vehicle had stopped a handful of times and turned left and right a couple of times. There had been little noise from other vehicles, just the occasional roar of what seemed to be timber trucks, the only frequent vehicle in this neck of the woods besides snowmobiles. The only obvious recurring sound was the barely audible humming noise caused by the studded tyres required. If we are underground that means we have to be in a mine of some kind, he concluded, knowing that the only underground structures in the area large enough to carry a vehicle had to be a mine. And there were quite a few of them, he knew that. Where on earth are we going, he asked himself, starting to feel uncomfortable, his claustrophobic tendencies starting to creep up on him.

They did not go much further until the van stopped. He heard the front doors open and some voices outside the van talking calmly, moving towards the back of the vehicle. Sure enough, the back doors were opened shortly and they told him to get out. The two men, yes he was pretty sure that they were men even though their faces were covered with balaclavas, were not the same as had kidnapped him. He could tell from their voices. He could not immediately place the accent. It was not the same as the people he had been working with the last couple of weeks since arriving here. Maybe he could place it after a while. From earlier travels he knew he was quite good at placing people's geographic origin just from their way of speech.

"Hurry up!" One man shouted, somewhat angrily. "And don't forget your jacket."

He quickly grabbed his jacket and, trying not to hit his head on the ceiling, hunched over and almost crawled out of the vehicle, just to be temporarily blinded by a strong magnesium lamp located high on a wall in what seemed to be a huge tunnel. Before he regained his vision, the other man had grabbed him by his arm and started shoving him towards of what resembled a garage door. The force he was pushed by almost made him stumble. After the door there was a smaller tunnel which only had faint lighting, something that helped him perceive things better. They walked for what seemed like a couple of minutes before stopping before another door, this one smaller. The man who had told him to get out of the vehicle, stepped in front of him and unlocked the door. The man stepped aside, turned around, and then, with irony in his voice, said,

"Mr. Kaczmarek, enjoy your stay at Hotel Underground, rating unknown. We're certain it will be pleasant."

The other man pushed him through the door and without another word, the door was slammed shut behind him. He heard the door being locked and with his ear to the door he could pick up the faint sound of steps on stone become even fainter and eventually cease completely. Good Lord, please help me through this, he prayed silently, taking a deep breath, trying to calm his nerves.

*******

Meanwhile at Remington Steele Investigations, about nine in the morning

Mr. Steele walked through the office doors like a whirlwind, in his usual chipper manner.

"Good morning, Mildred. How ARE you today?" Steele said with a wide grin.

"Just fine, boss. But what has happened to you? What DID you have for breakfast? Haven't seen you this happy in a long time." Mildred asked back, winking at him.

"Ah, just the traditional British fare, some tea and toast," Steele said plainly, ignoring Mildred's need to be filled in on why he felt so happy. "Is Miss Holt in?" he asked instead, poorly disguising his desire to see Laura right away.

"Nope, she isn't. She called in half an hour ago that she had to attend to an urgent personal matter. Would be back around ten, ten-thirty." Mildred said.

Mildred had put on that face that Steele just knew too well. She was not telling him the whole truth. Mildred knew exactly what Laura was up to, but she was poorly disguising that fact. He knew it would be useless trying to get her to reveal what she knew. They had that special 'gal-to-gal' agreement that Steele had long tried to comprehend, with no success.

Mildred noticed that Steele's posture immediately changed as he heard her answer. His face alternated between an expression of disappointment that Laura was not there and upset because Laura had not told him what she had to do this morning. But I have promised Miss Holt not to tell Mr. Steele. It was to be a surprise, Mildred comforted herself for her betrayal of her boss.

Why didn't she call me, he asked himself, trying not to reveal his building frustration. Putting on a strained smile, he said instead, "I'll be in my office then catching up on all the things happening in the world worth being printed by the L.A. Times. Could you be so kind to bring me a cup of coffee? Black and no sugar this morning." With determined strides he walked into the office and with unnecessary force he shut the door behind him.

Oh dear, the boss really is upset. But I'm sure Miss Holt can change his mood when she comes back, Mildred reasoned, and ignoring Steele's small outburst, she brought him his coffee in her usual friendly way. As she entered his office, he was not reading the paper; rather he was heavily caught up in a telephone conversation, a conversation obviously concerning Miss Holt's whereabouts. The boss sure cares for Miss Holt, Mildred said to herself, as she hastily left the room.

******

Meanwhile at training centre somewhere in Los Angeles

"Laura Holt" a voice called out.

Laura, who had been sitting at the back, got up and walked up to her trainer. She bowed in order to greet him.

"You have now qualified for the blue belt in shotokan karate, Miss Holt. Wear it with pride," her trainer said.

Laura accepted the belt, bowed in thanks and, with a proud smile on her face, she wrapped her new belt around her waist. Walking back to her to her seat, receiving applauds from her training friends, she thought to herself, Even though I have much more to learn, this WILL help put an end to 'the old, blunt instrument routine'.

*******

Remington Steele Investigations, about 11.15

Steele was frustrated. None of the people he had called had had any idea what Laura was up to. He had even called her doctors but neither of them knew of Laura having an appointment, at least of an urgent nature. Why did she do this to him? Had she already forgotten what they had talked about on that New Year's night? And what a wonderful night that had been. Not that they had done IT but it had been almost just as good. The kisses they had exchanged, yes he still could taste them. And the massage Laura had given him. So gentle her hands. And they had talked, teased, laughed. Why does SHE not let ME in on the joke, if that is what it is. He frowned, swirled his chair around and began staring out the window. Then he heard Laura's voice in the front office, greeting Mildred. Mildred said something but she lowered her voice so he could not hear what she said. Laura answered in the same silent manner. Only a second or so later he heard the door to his office open, a sound to which he swirled around. Before he could say anything, Laura began talking.

"Isn't it a wonderful day today? Another beautiful, mild winter day, won't you agree Mr. Steele?" Laura asked rhetorically, her eyes all glittery, revealing that she was dying to tell him something.

"Well, hello, Miss Holt. How nice of you to join us today. It seems like you still remember that we have a business to run." Steele said slightly teasingly, knowing that using her words against herself would get her started. Much to his disappointment, Laura said instead.

"Mr. Steele. Life isn't all work, is it? Actually, this morning I…" but she was interrupted by the phone. With a grin of slight disappointment, she motioned to Steele to answer the call, knowing that Mildred would not have let the call through unless it was important.

Steele frowned again thinking, What is it with Laura this morning when she lets ME take a seemingly important call. Picking up the receiver he said, "Yes, Mildred…Yes, yes, I'll take the call…Mr. Jacobsen, how are you…Just fine thank you…No, no problem…Aha, I see…Kidnapped…When?…Do you have any idea by whom or why…Uhum…Yes, certainly…Let me discuss it with Miss Holt but I think we can travel right away…Yes, please, that would be helpful…Thank you for you call, Mr Jacobsen. Bye." Steele put down the receiver, leaning back in his chair before starting to speak. Laura's eyes were firmly on him, urging him to fill her in on the blanks. "How many clothes do you have for arctic climate, Laura?"

 
To be continued...

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