Part 1
by Chris

Reasons for Steele Being Human
This is my very first completed fan fiction (but the short story "Holt Sang to Steele" was started before this one) but I never had it posted. The story takes place in 2002 - 20 years after Remington Steele stepped into Miss Holt's life and in the same year as Bond 20 hits our movie screens. This story depicts some possible future events for our favorite couple.
Since I had only watched half the third season when I wrote this, this is how I imagined what took place afterwards. I have also found it necessary to provide you with my picture of what the world looks like in about one year's time. This will help you understand the events in the story. This story is researched meaning that most facts and ideas are taken from academic material, encyclopaedias and various governmental reports. However, the actual story line is only hypothetical but could very well happen.
Mr. Steele and Ms. Holt got married at the end of the 4th season. After the finish of the 5th season they soon had a daughter Katherine, now 15, (who will play an important part in the cause of events) and a son Daniel, soon 14, (not a main character, away at a boarding school in England). Even after having a family, Laura and Remington (even though the final series was not conclusive, I have decided to have Laura call Mr. Steele "Remington" when not in public) continued working together as a great team to refine their investigation skills, just making parenthood an asset in their work. The agency's name has therefore been changed to Steele Investigations.
Mildred Krebs, who was about to obtain her PI license at the end of the original series, has continued working with the Steeles as an investigator, solving many cases quickly thanks to her excellent computer skills. She has not minded keeping an eye on Steeles' children when they have been at the office, serving as an extra grandma. Especially Katherine took an interest in what Mildred was doing and thanks to that, Katherine has developed a genuine interest in computers and does very well with them. Since Ms. Krebs now works as a PI, the agency has seen a few front office personnel work for them over the years. At present it is a young South American man named José "Joe" Rosario. The Steeles thought it would be wise to have a Spanish speaking person in the office considering the large portion of Hispanics in the LA area in particular, but in the USA in general. The Steeles partially sponsor Joe taking science classes at UCLA.
Steele Investigations has been trusted with more and more high profile cases, each success leading to more challenges. Their cases have taken them to many parts of the world. However, as their fame has risen, the Steeles have managed to keep a moderate profile, taking their success "with a pinch of salt", focussing on their family and their job. To keep up with their ever-increasing challenges, they have taken the time to take classes in various subjects. In addition, Ms. Krebs has made sure that the agency is on tops when it comes to using the most efficient technical tools (not the latest, always a "value-for-money" approach) to facilitate their work. For instance, in this story the Steeles use 3G mobile telephone technology (which happens to be what my dissertation will be on).
With the increased focus on environmental legislation in California (and elsewhere), the Steeles have to handle quite a few environmental-related cases. Also, with their high profile, they devote some of their free time to charities, quite a few of them environmentally related. To further stress that they are genuine about their environmental concern, they have an environment management program put to work at the office. This means e.g. that all agency cars run on ethanol or are provided with fuel cells, modern, highly efficient solar cells are used for both hot water and some of the electricity, all lights fitted are long-life, low-power bulbs, and sensors are installed in the office to make sure that any heating/cooling is optimized. The Steeles have done the same with their house. Environmental foresight (and social concern) has become a normal way of living for them. Note! From this description it can be understood that the office of Steele Investigations no longer is located in those tall twin buildings. When they had a family they decided to relocate to another area where they bought a house and used it as an office. When having kids they did not want to spend too much time traveling to and from work.
World of Steele - The situation in the world regarding some pertinent matters
Even with several international conferences on environmental matters taking place over the last ten years, international agreements on such issues are quite rare and to make as make countries as possible to sign them, the wording in them still remain quite lame. It is the global market economy which sets the ceiling for most environmental efforts. If the market is ready to "buy" something (an act or a deed), companies are willing to invest in such things, as a way of enhancing their image and hopefully their profits. It still is the bottom-line figures (short-term thinking) together with the ethics of the members of the company boards who are the judges as to whether environmental concern is legitimate. Still, many companies have come to the conclusion that it is wisest to invest in the latest technology when investing in third-world countries instead of "dumping old factories". Two reasons lie behind this change in attitude. The latest technology has become so easy to use that even less trained people easily can handle it. In addition, there are enough well-educated, local people around to supervise the use (or the company doing the investment has fully understood what is required when doing technology transfer).
Global heating continues to be the No. 1 worldwide concern, causing the global weather pattern to become gradually more erratic. This has resulted that there are more refugees in the world due to unbearable weather conditions than there are due to hostile activities (acts of war). While many areas have to be abandoned due to repeated flooding, yet other areas are not receiving the seasonal rains, causing the land to dry out.
The world population continues to grow, however not as quickly as it did a couple of years ago. Especially in Africa, the population growth has almost come to a halt due to HIV/AIDS and some other serious disorders, yet without a cure. Still, with the continued urbanization, there is a need to enhance the productivity of the farms to keep famine away. The drying out of fertile areas in combination with demands on increased crop yields have forced relief programs to look into using genetically modified plants, as the climate change caused by man is taking place at a higher rate than nature by itself can manage.
Genetically modified crops have become quite a big business even though the population in the Western world is still hesitant about using them, mainly due to two reasons. Even though there are guarantees that they are safe, people are not sure about the long-term effects ("How can you be sure that they have been verified?"). Second, since the Western world still has an abundance of food, there is a choice to stick with those "un-tampered". However, in many third world countries there is no choice. In order not to starve, they have to accept whatever the rich countries are willing to help them with.
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters Remington Steele, Laura Holt or Mildred Krebs and I have no intention to infringe on any rights. This story has been written for entertainment purposes only. Except for geographical facts, the conflict and famine in Ethiopia and the UN name as such, all persons, events, organizations/companies etc. figuring in this storyt have to the best of my knowledge never existed, nor taken place.
Day 1 - Steele Facing A New Problem
Flying over the Swiss Alps, showing off a wondrous landscape, a farm is coming into view on the slope of a mountain. When getting closer, it can be seen that it is a dairy farm with cows grazing outside. When looking closer on several animals, it can be noted that they have large swollen areas on their bodies, causing them to move in discomfort, moaning with pain, as if seriously ill.
After this close-up aerial view a few seconds of sky can be seen before a new landscape is coming into sight. At first it shows a barren land, North/Eastern Ethiopia, badly struck with draught. Then replanted areas come into sight and when getting even closer, people can be seen working in the fields, smiling. The camera then continues to the refugee camp turned village not far away. When zooming in on one of the shelters, medical people are seen treating people, people lying on their backs, stern-faced, a scared, helpless look in their eyes. The aerial view zooms out and aims for the sky again. Continuing focussing on the sky, after a few seconds the house where the office of Steele Investigations is located comes in focus.
Steele at the Office
[Day 1, morning, GMT - 8 hrs]
Steele called upon
The front office is in view and the phone at the front desk rings.
"Steele Investigations" Joe answers with a slight Spanish accent, "how can we help you?" He listens to the other person. "I'll see if Mrs. Steele is available. Please hold the line." Joe calls Laura's office and says "Mrs. Steele. I know you are busy but this man strongly insists on talking to you immediately. His name is Mr. Van Kasteren, calling from the UN in New York."
The door to Laura's office is semi-open and Joe hears an "OK" both in the receiver and through the door. Joe transfers the call. Joe hears Laura say "Laura Holt-Steele…Yes…Uhuh…How strange…Certainly, we'll be there...Tomorrow afternoon at four o'clock…at the headquarters, yes."
Joe sees Laura, as usual looking smart in slacks and a nice top, put down the receiver. She gets up but remains standing at her desk for a brief moment before she heads for Remington's office.
Steele puzzled
Remington, dressed in business pants, a shirt and a tie that matches Laura's top, is at his desk, leaning back in his chair, reading the morning paper and sipping on a cup of tea, his usual morning routine for the last two decades or so. He looks up when Laura comes in. He continues to look at her since she has a puzzled expression on her face. "What's up, dear?"
"A Mr. Van Kasteren just called, from an agency called UNEASE at the UN headquarters in New York." She says somewhat distracted, her mind still set on what Mr. Van Kasteren had told her.
"The UN indeed. We haven't worked for them previously, have we?" Remington comments just to urge her to tell him more about this new client.
After a short silence, Laura continues. "He just mentioned something about an inconclusive preliminary report on an environmental problem that is severely affecting a UN supported program, and he wants us, as an independent body, to look further into it." Laura continues, now sitting at the end of his desk, focussing on Remington. "He didn't give any details, except that it was urgent and that he'd like to meet us tomorrow afternoon at his office…and then be prepared to go to *Europe* directly thereafter, if we accept the case that is... Have you seen anything in the paper that can give us a clue what it's all about?"
"No…no, I don't believe so… The only thing that I've noted concerning an environmental issue is that global weather researchers believe that the seemingly ever-present El Niño will continue to make the weather erratic in many locations around the world for the rest of this year". Remington responds, his face taking on a thoughtful expression, then "But sure the UN doesn't want us to become weathermen, does it? Wouldn't that be to let water rise above our heads, literally?" Remington comments with a wry smile, a smile quickly fading as if he felt he has been too blunt.
Steele taken care of by Mildred
As Mildred, as usual dressed in a stylish not too bold a dress, shows Laura and Remington out the door, she says, "Don't worry about that, kids. I'll make sure Katie is taken care of. Don't worry about that other case, that Nesari blackmail. I'll handle that. Get off to the airport now, will ya?". After closing it behind them, she goes into her office, sits down at her computer and starts searching.
Joe is heard in the background making calls to clients, asking for re-scheduling of appointments.
Day 2 - Steele at UNEASE
Steele takes New York
[Day 2, morning, GMT - 5 hrs]
Laura turns on her mobile phone as she and Remington debark their flight from Los Angeles. It beeps right away and Laura retrieves the e-mail message. It is from Mildred and she has listed three possible areas for their new case. Laura shrugs her shoulders in discomfort and shakes her head as she reads. Remington looks over her shoulder. He frowns as he too reads what Mildred has found out.
Steele waiting
[Day 2, afternoon, GMT - 5 hrs]
"Mr Van Kasteren will be with you in just a moment", Remington and Laura are told by a middle-aged with a French accent after presenting themselves upon entering the main offices of UNEASE where they would meet with Mr. Van Kasteren.
"Truly an international place this, wouldn't you agree?" Remington says, trying to make a conversation as they sit down to wait in the front office. They both had noted the sign with the staff names outside the offices, a sign on which there were names in more than a dozen languages.
"Yes, very." Laura says absentmindedly, more concentrated on letting her eyes look over all the pictures in the room as if she would be able to pick up clue as regards why they had been asked to come there. "Mildred came up with three possible subjects, didn't she?" She asks Remington even though she remembers very well what Mildred had e-mailed them just as they arrived to New York.
"Yes, yes, that's true" Remington says falling silent. Both are brainstorming their heads for clues on how they would approach any of those three quite grim scenarios Mildred had envisaged for them.
The middle-aged man, who had been sitting at his desk while they had been waiting, working on a computer, interrupts their trains of thought. They have not heard anything, but obviously the man has been given a message to let them into Mr. Van Kasteren's office.
Steele getting informed
[Day 2, afternoon, GMT - 5 hrs]
"There you are." The man says briefly as he shows Remington and Laura into the room.
"Thank you, Mr. Devreaux", Mr. Van Kasteren says, approaching Remington and Laura, reaching out with his hand to greet them. Two people, one middle-aged, smart casually dressed man and a younger Chinese woman in plain, yet stylish, clothes and with a brace on her left arm, are sitting on each side of a fairly large table in the room.
Mr. Van Kasteren, impeccably dressed in discreet, harmonized colors and with an excellent fit, firmly shakes hands with the Steeles, saying "How very nice of you to come here at such short notice. I hope this didn't cause you any trouble. I AM aware of how busy you must be." He then makes a motion with his hand for them to sit down at the table.
As they move to sit down, Laura comments "Mr. Van Kasteren. By the sound of your phone call, none of our other present engagements are of such importance that they couldn't be rescheduled. Also, we do have other staff as well." She finishes putting on a slight smile, looking at Steele for confirmation. Steele nods barely noticeable, reassuring her that she had chosen the appropriate tone of speech.
"Excellent. Well, I'd better introduce two of my colleagues and then we'll tell you more what this is all about. First, Dr. Ng Kheng Li, my right hand when it comes to environmental expertise." All three get up to shake hands across the table. "She will give you the 'technical' details shortly. Then Mr Mikhail Petrov, the officer in charge of the program in question." Another round of getting up and shaking hands. "He'll be able to give you all the facts about the program that you'll need to know. Do you have any questions or shall we get down to it right away?" Mr. Van Kasteren finishes his introduction.
"Please, proceed. We'll ask questions underway, if that's fine with you? Steele says, raising his eyebrows and putting up an arm slightly as if seeking confirmation.
"That's fine." Mr. Van Kasteren responds and continues. "You probably do not know that much about the role of my office, it has not been around that long, I may add, so I'll brief you about that first. In short, UNEASE, which by the ways stands for the UN Environmental Activity Supervision Entity, is responsible to the Secretary General of the UN for the environmental supervision of all UN-funded support programs as regards land, forest, air and water management. This agency was created since, even though stressed as important, the environmental aspects of UN programs never came first in priority. The role of UNEASE is to make the environment just that…As you can understand, knowing the number of programs in the areas I just mentioned, we have a wide responsibility. To fulfil this we have to rely on a lot of local expertise in the respective country but also on the voluntary organizations that are involved in our programs, partnerships as they are called. If everybody would be employed by the UN, the bureaucracy would be just…" he says not finishing the sentence, slowly shaking his head as if bearing the thought, then continues "Well, I guess that gives you the overall context. Please, Mr. Petrov, if you would like to present the details of your program and the problem at hand."
"Certainly, Mr. Van Kasteren." Mr. Petrov says, then turning to Remington and Laura. "First, please call me Mike. I don't want any sense of formality hinder whatever we have to talk about here today", he says as he presses a button to reveal a screen and walks up to a laptop that's sitting at the top end of the table. "As you probably know, Ethiopia and Eritrea have been involved in hostile activities toward one another for a number of years, at times it seems like a truce could be achieved, but the situation is still unstable. This has forced a large portion of the people living in the north-eastern part of Ethiopia to flee southbound." He begins, pointing at a map showing refugee movements in Ethiopia over the last few years. "Unfortunately, in addition to the refugee movement, the global warming has caused the weather pattern in the area to change. Rain has become quite sporadic, resulting in lower ground water levels. Normally Ethiopia experiences severe draught about every tenth year but over the last few years, severe draught has occurred every year. Due to the hostile activities, recurrent farming activities in the traditional growing areas have almost ceased, causing the land to dry out even quicker. But seen as a total, today there are more environmentally related refugees than there are war refugees. Therefore the UN has established a combined famine reduction and land reclaim program in an area somewhat south of the traditional farming areas, in the vicinity of the refugee camps turned villages." He continues showing a number of pictures of water level change, location of refugee camps and the extent of the UN program. "The program was established in this area about a year ago and two crops have been harvested so far, with a good yield, I must add. And at first it seemed to cure the normal refugee camp illness, pellagra."
"Sorry for being uninformed, but what causes pellagra and how does it affect a person?" Laura asks.
"Lack of niacin…causes dementia, dermatitis and diarrhea, quite unpleasant actually" Mr. Petrov finishes with a grimace. "Anyhow, with that problem reduced, people started getting really ill, especially infants, who are more sensitive anyway…Turned out to be a blood-clotting disorder. The simplest cut ended up being a rather horrifying experience. The medical staff in the camp, who come from 'MEDÉCINS POUR HUMANITÉ' [Doctors for Humanity], MPH, quickly noted that it was due to lack of K-vitamin. What has caused this shortage they do not understand. What is bad though, is that more and more people get this disorder and some are really sick, as if they have hemophilia...without having it!"
"Has anything changed at the camp during this time?" Remington asks.
"That's the odd thing." Dr Ng Kheng says, entering into the discussion. "We have noted that new people coming to the camp do not seem to get sick right away. It takes a couple of weeks before the symptoms really become noticeable. When it comes to the water and the food, they have been the same. The water is treated in a biological treatment plant before use and as regards the seed and the fertilizer used for the farming, both have been provided by a UN purchasing agency, and have remained the same since the program started. There is one thing with the seed that you should know though. The wheat grain is genetically modified in two aspects. It is changed to grow longer roots for better water absorption and it has an increased mold resistance, especially to mildew."
"And the new grain is well tested for its new properties?" Laura intervenes.
"Yes, it has been grown for a relatively long time. An American company called FutAgro Inc. based in New Jersey is the provider. Wherever else it has been used, no strange 'incidents' have been reported." Dr Ng Kheng explains.
"You mentioned something about a similar problem that had occurred somewhere else. Would you mind filling us in on that one?" Remington queries.
"No, not at all." Mr. Petrov continues. "By chance we happened to have a Swiss from another program visiting this particular camp when Dr. Ng Kheng and I were there to investigate our problem. This gentleman, a Mr. Eichhorn, said that he had once heard about lack of K vitamin in living organisms. You see, K vitamin shortage is not that common, definitely not like a 'plague'. Anyhow, the local paper had written something about some dairy farms in a concentrated area struck by disease, as if the animals had eaten common rat poison, which gives just about the same symptoms."
Dr. Ng Kheng continues "That's all that we know, I'm afraid. Our Swiss colleague was kind enough to give us the name and the location of those farms. Here you are." She finishes by handing a piece of paper to Laura.
The room is silent for a few seconds, as if everybody is digesting the information given and taken.
Mr. Van Kasteren breaks the silence. "We are not investigators, we are supervisors of environmental programs. We do not want to see people die in an effort to reclaim desert land and make living conditions bearable. We DO need help…Are you willing to take on the case?, his eyes wandering from Remington to Laura, as if looking for an affirmative answer.
Before Remington and Laura are able to answer, Mr Petrov says "Just to make sure that you base your decision on all relevant information, I need to inform you that there may be shooting going on in the vicinity of the camp. The camp has so far never been attacked but one can never say never..."
The Steeles look at one another and then Laura says "First, from an ethical point of view, it's unfair that these people are suffering from a changing weather pattern partially caused by us Westerners releasing large quantities of green house gases, mainly from burning fossil fuel, into the air. The people in this area have to take the punishment for an environmental disaster they're…basically innocent of…"
Remington continues "We don't fear being shot at. God knows how many times we've had to deal with that. However, this case is somewhat out of our normal line of work… Considering then the range of cases we've handled before and drawing from that experience, plus getting some assistance from this office, yes, we'll help you. It definitely seems to be a case where we can help some fellow humans very much less fortunate than we are. Many may still regard Africa as the forgotten continent but it isn't to us."
Laura nods in agreement.
"Whatever you need, please let us know." Mr. Van Kasteren assures them.
"You are most welcome to make use of my environmental knowledge whenever necessary" Dr. Ng Kheng states.
"I'll go with you to Ethiopia to help you get the information you need and cut any red tape that there may be. I promise, I'll do everything I can to help you. Whatever happens, I stand by my motto 'Homo sum: humani nil a me alienum puto' - 'I am a human being: I regard nothing of human concern as foreign to my interests' Mr. Petrov finishes with emphasis.
The Steeles cannot help but smile gently back at him, masking their surprise of the quote.
Steele discussing MO #1
[Day 2, early evening, GMT - 5 hrs]
While Laura and Remington leave the UN Headquarters, they discuss what has to be done.
"With Mr. Van Kasteren pushing hard for tight timeframes, I guess we have to split up for a short while. One of us has to go back west to pack for Africa and get things organized, and one should continue directly to Switzerland to talk to those farmers. Then we could meet in Switzerland to travel together to Ethiopia." Remington suggests.
"That's a good idea. I know Katie will be terribly disappointed not coming with us but final exams ARE coming up and the situation in Ethiopia did sound a bit dangerous. Mildred will just be so pleased to step in as Grandma, don't you think?"
"But we need to get started right away. Mildred can do a lot of research yet before today's over with. With my hay fever I couldn't stand going to those farms without bringing my medication so I suggest I'll fly back tonight and you can take a late flight to Zurich."
"OK, that's fine… Knowing from previous cases, nobody is beyond suspicion so she should start with our new clients that we just met. And then that company…"
"Yes, FutAgro. Sure…And then the UN purchasing procedures and records for this particular program."
"Agree, right on the spot, Laura. Plus if she could find out some more on that incident in Switzerland."
Steele going separate ways
[Day 2, mid-evening, GMT - 5 hrs, late afternoon LA time, GMT - 8 hrs]
While waiting for their flights, the Steeles have a light dinner at an Italian restaurant. Laura is talking to Mildred on her mobile phone.
"Did you get all of that?…Good. I'll arrive then around midnight…Don't bother to meet…Of course, you're right. That'll save time…First thing tomorrow again…Meet him somewhere in Switzerland." Laura says smiling at Remington. "Yes, see you later." Laura turns off her mobile, then to Remington, "Mildred truly is a pillar. She had already understood that she and Katie would spend some time together and asked Katie if that was alright, and it was. Even though Katie never has been any trouble, you *never* know with teenagers." Laura says giving off a slight sigh of relief.
"Laura, I just thought of a health issue. Do we have all the necessary inoculations and stuff for Ethiopia? It would be sort of sad if we ourselves almost died in the process?"
"Thanks to our little Christmas escape to Kenya, I think we do…Otherwise we'll have to fix that in
Switzerland. No problem." Laura says reassuringly.
"I guess I'll contact those farmers as soon as I get to Switzerland. It would seem a tad rude to call over there at this time of the night to make an appointment. Farmers are early risers but 4 in the morning, nope…Mildred would send me an e-mail to up-date me, wouldn't she?"
"Yes, she will. Well, there's my flight. Don't forget to call David when you get over there. Since you don't have time to go and see our son, I'm sure he'd like to know whereto his parents are disappearing. See you soon, dear." Laura says as she gets up and gives Remington as warm goodbye kiss. "I hope you won't be yodeling next time we meet." Laura says with a big smile.
Remington smiles back at her, expressing to her that he hopefully will not be and watches her leave.
To Part 2

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