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  1. Episode 2: Pistol Packin’ Mama August 1st, 1947. New York City, New York. New York Bell Company (SSR Office) Peggy Carter strode passed the rows of desks and whispering agents straight to door to the chief agent’s office. She opened it to see a man with slightly balding brown hair and glasses looking over a file. He looked surprised at Peggy before clearing his throat and shuffling the file under some paperwork on the desk. “Miss Carter! Um, I wasn’t expecting you coming in so soon.” He offered a handshake with a bland smile. “John Flynn, Acting Chief of East Coast SSR Operations.” Peggy shook his hand and took a seat in front of the desk. “A pleasure to meet you, Agent Flynn. I would like to get started as soon as…” “Acting Chief Flynn,” he interrupted. Peggy looked confused. “I’m sorry?” Flynn moved to sit at the desk as he explained. “The correct title is Acting Chief. It’s proper protocol. Due to Agent Thompson’s unfortunate… incident, I will be in charge here for the foreseeable future. But enough about that. I trust your flight from California was er… comfortable?” Fighting the urge to roll her eyes, Peggy pressed on. “It was a long flight…, Acting Chief. But it did give me time to go over the files regarding these Maggia attacks.” Flynn coughed nervously. “Really? You are familiar with the Maggia?” “Yes, sir. A collection of criminal families that joined together at the turn of the century. The most prominent of these families were the Manfredi’s, headed by Silvio ‘SIlvermane’ Manfredi. Have you picked up any new information regarding the attacker? The file has an eyewitness account of a man in some sort of costume using a boomerang as a primary weapon.” “You are certainly thorough, Miss Carter,” interrupted Flynn. “Agent,” replied Peggy. “That is my correct title.” Flynn folded his hands and leaned back in his chair. “Miss Carter. We have our best operatives coordinating with the FBI to learn the truth behind these killings. With so many men relegated to this, we will be needing all hands on deck here in the office. I understand you do have some experience in codebreaking?” Peggy couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “Am I to understand that you had me fly all the way from California to do office work?” Flynn rose from his seat and put his hand on Peggy’s shoulder. “I assure you, Miss Carter, there is no job too small in the SSR. Your assistance here will be greatly appreciated. For now, I would encourage you to rest up after your long flight, and come in ready to go to work tomorrow. That will be all, Miss Carter.” Flynn went back to his seat and started reading the file he had hidden. Peggy got up and walked to the door. But she then turned around with a defiant look in her eyes. “Permission to speak freely, Agent Flynn?” Flynn sighed but didn’t look up from his file when he answered. “Acting Chief Flynn, please, Miss Carter. But granted.” “I know you are new to the New York office. But I can assure you that I could be of more assistance in the field than sitting here sifting through paperwork. And if you’ve read my file you would know that.” Flynn slammed the file on his desk and glared at Peggy. “I did read your file, miss. And it is not your place to decide who goes where in the SSR. I have my best men on this investigation, and you will go where I assign you to go. Is that clear?” Peggy’s grip tightened on the door knob as she turned it and walked out. “Perfectly clear…, Acting Chief.” Peggy walked out of the New York Bell Company building that served as the SSR’s cover. She made her way to the curb, where a black sedan waited for her. Standing alongside it was Edwin Jarvis, Howard Stark’s butler, and Peggy’s loyalist friend. “I trust by your speedy return that things did not go well, Miss Carter?” he asked as Peggy walked towards him. “No, they did not go well, Mr. Jarvis. The man they found to fill in for Jack is a patronizing idiot. All I’ve been through with the SSR and I’m back to being a glorified secretary!” “Well, it won’t be the first time you’ve dealt with boorish persons,” Jarvis mused. “Perhaps you can find a way to still be able to assist in this Maggia business.” Peggy leaned against the sedan and crossed her arms, gazing up at the New York Bell building. “Not if Acting Chief Flynn has anything to say about it.” Jarvis opened the door for Peggy and she sighed and climbed inside. Jarvis then walked around to get behind the wheel. “Where to now, Miss Carter?” Peggy let her head lean back into the soft leather of her seat and gave a wry smile. “Home, Mr. Jarvis. I’ve just had a long flight and I wouldn’t want to overexert myself.” New York City, New York. The mansion of Howard Stark. “English!” Angie Martinelli shouted in delight. Peggy’s roommate rushed down the staircase to give her a big hug. Peggy returned it as Jarvis brought in her luggage. “Angie, it’s so good to see you again.” Angie held Peggy’s hands a took a step back. “Let me take a look at you! Did you get a tan? Ugh, if you weren’t my friend I’d hate you! I’d give anything to go to California! Did you see any movie stars while you were there?” Peggy and Jarvis exchanged a look, then Jarvis went back to get more suitcases from the car. “Well, I really didn’t have the time to do much sightseeing.” Angie gave a knowing grin. “Hard at work with the telephone company, huh? Well, you must have been busy to not reply to my letters. I finally got it!” “Got what?” Peggy asked. “What do you mean ‘got what’? The part! I got the part in the show I was telling you about!” Peggy started walking with Angie out of the lobby to the lounge. “Oh, Angie! Congratulations! What part did you get?” Angie waved her hand dismissively. “Ah, it’s in the chorus. But it’s an actual professional production! They have Diana Adams in the lead for it!” The two friends sat down on the sofa as Jarvis finished carrying in the luggage. “Diana Adams? Well, that is impressive. I hear she is quite a talent.” “Yeah, and you probably heard it from her. Oh, don’t get me wrong, English, she’s good and all, but she’s kind of a stuck up. Goes on and on about doing a USO show with Captain America once.” The clock mantlepiece started to chime 3 o’clock, causing Angie to jump up from the couch. “Yikes! 3 already! I need to get going! Say! Why don’t you come along? We can get Jarvis to drive us and you can sit in on the rehearsal.” “Actually, Miss Martinelli,” interrupted Jarvis as he headed towards the kitchen. “Miss Carter has had a long flight and I was just about to start the preparations for dinner.” Angie quickly ran in front Jarvis and blocked his way. “No! I mean, um, you don’t have to eat here. There’s a great little bakery on the corner across from the theater. Their bagels are to die for. It’ll be my treat for you two.” Jarvis gave a suspicious look. “Miss Martinelli, is there a reason why you don’t want me to go into the kitchen?” Angie glanced from the kitchen door to Jarvis. “Oh, no reason. No reason at all, Mr. Jarvis.” “You wouldn’t happen to have been practicing your tap routines in the kitchen again?” Angie gave a nervous laugh as she walked Jarvis back to the couch. “Oh, come on, Mr. Jarvis. I wouldn’t dream of doing that. After you told me last time. Er… so, what do you say? Will you come?” Peggy chuckled and nodded. “Yes, Angie, we’ll come.” Angie gave a hug to Jarvis and sped towards the stairs. “Great! You’ll love it! I just need to grab my purse and my coat from upstairs, and if we’re lucky we’ll miss the worst of the traffic. Be down in jiffy!” Jarvis turned to face Peggy as Angie’s running footsteps echoed through the mansion. “I know you are friends with Miss Martinelli, Miss Carter, and she is a friendly enough woman. But there are times where she makes me long for Bernard.” Peggy gave a friendly shove to Jarvis’ shoulder. “Really, Mr. Jarvis. Angie is certainly much more pleasant to have around than Howard Stark’s temperamental flamingo.” “At least, Miss Carter, temperamental flamingos do not wear tap shoes that leave black scuff marks all over Mr. Stark’s tiled floors.” Peggy bit her lip to keep from laughing as Angie ran back the stairs to join them with her purse in her right hand and her coat draped over her left arm. “Alright, my two favorite Brits. To the theater!” Manhattan, New York City, New York. 46th Street Theater. Angie pushed open the doors and led Peggy and Jarvis into the expansive theater. They walked passed the rows of chairs and towards the stage where several young women were chatting, stretching, and warming up for the rehearsal. “I still can’t believe it!” Angie said excitedly. “They did “Dark of the Moon” here, and now I’m going to be performing here! Just look at the size of this place!” Peggy grinned at Jarvis as his eyes were drawn to the other chorus girls. “Admiring the architecture, Mr. Jarvis?” Jarvis immediately snapped out of it. “Hmm? Oh! Really, Miss Carter, I am a married man, you will recall.” “MARTINELLI!” Angie winced as a man in suspenders and glasses fumed up the aisle toward them. “Where the hell have you been? You were supposed to be here 30 minutes ago!” Angie quickly set her purse down and took off her coat as she tried to explain. “Sorry, Mr. Hebson. The traffic was worse than I thought and…” “This is New York, Martinelli! You are paid to show up for rehearsals and dance! All we ask is that you try to both of those things on time!” Hebson then turned his eyes on Peggy and Jarvis. “And just what are you people doing here?” Peggy felt bad for Angie as she stammered. “Er…They’re a…couple of friends of mine. I thought they could…” “You aren’t paid to think, Martinelli,” Hebson snapped. “This isn’t some show in your church basement! This is an Equity rehearsal and we don’t need any busybodies snooping around and getting in the way!” Peggy stepped forward to Angie’s side. “Mr. Hebson, I’m sorry, but I don’t think that’s anyway to talk to one of your performers.” Hebson glared at Peggy. “Look, lady, I’m trying to run a rehearsal, here. You and this string bean can clear out right now!” “Is there a problem, Mr. Hebson?” Peggy turned where the voice was coming from. Walking down the aisle was a man in a suit, a ruffled shirt, and an opera cloak. His black hair and beard were well maintained, and the lights glinted off the monocle in his right eye. He had a cane under his right arm, and two imposing gentlemen in suits and fedoras two steps behind him. Hebson’s attitude changed almost instantly. “Count! I’m sorry! I er… forgot you were coming in today. I was just dealing with a late arrival. Miss Adams hasn’t got here yet, and Miss Martinelli thought she could bring her friends here…” The count held up his hand to silence Hebson. “Calm yourself, Mr. Hebson,” he said in his Italian accent, as he gave an elegant bow to Peggy. "Forgive Mr. Hebson. The theater is a place for drama, some of it even on the stage. Permit me to introduce myself. I am the Count Luchino Nefaria. A pleasure to meet you, miss…?” Peggy flushed slightly as Nefaria kissed her hand. “Carter. Peggy Carter. And this is Mr. Edwin Jarvis.” Jarvis gave a small wave, but Nefaria had already turned his gaze back to Angie. “You should both be very proud of Miss Martinelli. She has shown a great deal of talent and potential. I am sure this won’t be the last play we will be seeing her in.” Angie beamed with pride. “Gee! I mean, thank you, sir. I mean, count.” “Think nothing of it, my dear,” Nefaria chuckled. “We didn’t mean to cause any trouble, count,” said Peggy. “We will be on our way and you can begin the rehearsal.” Nefaria waved his hand dismissively. “Nonsense! I am here to observe the process myself. I am sure Miss Martinelli would appreciate seeing some familiar faces in the audience.” Hebson quickly cut between Peggy and Nefaria. “Er, but count! This is a closed rehearsal. What if they went to the papers? The critics would…” “You are not splitting the atom, Mr.Hebson. You are leading a choreography rehearsal. I’m sure Miss Carter and Mr. Jarvis will behave themselves so as to not interfere with the proceedings.” “But, count, I…” Hebson’s voice stopped as he noticed the stern look from Nefaria, and the sterner looks from the two bodyguards behind him. “Um, of course, count. Whatever you say.” Nefaria’s smile returned. “Brilliant! I will take my place in the house and I will leave you to do the same. A pleasure meeting you both, Miss Carter. Mr. Jarvis. Mr. Hebson, come with me. We need to discuss the Miss Adams situation.” Nefaria and his men strode to the back row of the theater and took their seats. Hebson gave a last dirty look to Angie. “Get in your rehearsal gear and get on the stage. We’ll be starting in 5 minutes with or without Miss Adams.” He hurried after Nefaria, and Angie, pausing a moment to share a wink with Peggy, rushed to join the other chorus girls on the stage. Peggy continued to look towards the back row. “So. That’s the famous Count Nefaria.” Jarvis nodded. “He has been in the papers a great deal lately. Donating art. Running charitable balls. And apparently being the bankroller of Miss Martinelli’s play.” Peggy’s expression grew more serious. “I’ve read about him too, Mr. Jarvis, but not in the society pages. In his file at the SSR. He has been investigated by the FBI for possible connections to various criminal organizations.” Jarvis glanced nervously toward Nefaria. “Organizations such as the Maggia?” “Helloooo, everyone!” Before Peggy could reply she was interrupted by the doors of the theater swinging open and a woman’s voice echoing around the room. She was an attractive woman with blonde hair and wore a blue dress, hat and sunglasses. She breezed passed Hebson and made her way down the aisle. Hebson rushed after her. “Miss Adams! We’ve been waiting for you for over 30 minutes! This is the fifth time this week!” “Oh, relax, Walter,” she said nonchalantly. “You’re going to give yourself a heart attack one of these days. Like my mother always said, ‘Gentle, gentle’.” She stopped short when she saw Jarvis. “Well, well! Jervis!” Peggy turned to Jarvis. “You know her?” Jarvis cleared his throat. “Well, somewhat. By association.” Peggy closed her eyes and sighed. “Howard?” “Regrettably, yes.” Diana Adams strolled over to Jarvis with coy smile. “It’s been so long, Jervis. How is poor, busy Howard? Is this his new… friend?” Jarvis looked nervously back and forth from Diana and Peggy. “Um, this is Peggy Carter, an… associate of Mr. Stark. As for Mr. Stark himself, he’s still California working on his picture.” Diana nodded, feigning interest. “Oh, that’s nice. Jervis, when you see poor Howard next, maybe you could give him something for me?” Diana suddenly slapped Jarvis in the face. Peggy moved toward her as Hebson grabbed her arm. “Miss Adams, will you control yourself?” Diana sneered at Jarvis. “That’s for leaving me waiting for an hour at the Onyx! He’s lucky I don’t fly to California to deliver it to him in person!” “Miss Adams!” said Hebson. “Don’t make this any harder than it has to be.” Diana looked confused at Hebson. “What are you talking about, Walter? I’m here now, so let’s get on with the rehearsal.” Hebson looked towards the back row. “Unfortunately it’s not that simple. Not this time. I regret to inform you that you will no longer be a part of this production.” Diana’s eyes flashed in anger. “What are you saying? You’re firing me?!” Hebson held out his hands to Diana. “This is out of my control, Miss Adams. This comes straight from the count himself. You’ve been constantly late for rehearsals and increasingly impossible to work with. You nearly got into a fist fight with a chorus girl at the last rehearsal.” “It was her fault!” Diana screeched. “She was the one out of place in the number! This is real rich! A man like Nefaria, with his two hoodlums is allowed to waltz into the theater whenever they want. Those are some people who’ve been in fist fights and God knows what else!” Peggy touched Diana’s shoulder. “Please, Miss Adams, if you would just take a moment to…” Diana pulled away from Peggy and glared at her. “Keep away from me! I don’t need sympathy from one of Howard Stark’s floozies!” “That’s enough, Diana!” snapped Hebson. “Go to your dressing room and clear it out. You’re done here!” Diana shoved Peggy out of the way past the rest of the chorus girls as she walked onto the stage. “I’m not done, Walter! You can’t throw me out that easily! Nobody pushes aside Diana Adams!” She ran backstage and slammed the door of her dressing room. She leaned against the door, looking to the ceiling in frustration. Then she looked toward the make up table. Sitting on the table in front of the mirror was a large white gift box wrapped in red, blue, and black ribbon. Back in the theater, Peggy tended to Jarvis as Hebson turned his attention to the chorus girls. “Alright, ladies, let get this thing moving. Martinelli! You take the lead for this bit.” Angie’s face lit up in surprise. “You want me to do lead?” “Just for the rehearsal, Martinelli. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Just try to do it right. Okay, Joe, start at the introduction, 5th measure. Places, ladies.” The chorus girls took their positions on the stage with Angie in front. A piano started a ragtime tune and they went into a tap routine. Peggy looked on in approval as she watched Angie seem to effortlessly take to the dance. No doubt after several hours of practice in Howard Stark’s kitchen. A series of gunshots suddenly rang out from the stage. The chorus girls screamed and started running in every direction. Angie ran to the wings out of sight as others ducked behind scenery. A woman in a red trench coat and skirt stormed onto the stage. She wore a domino mask and a red fedora, and she carried a revolver in both hands. Peggy and Jarvis ducked behind the row of chairs as Hebson ran behind the piano. “Nefaria!” the woman yelled. “Face your judgement!” Nefaria stayed in his seat as his bodyguards rushed the stage with guns drawn. The woman in red fired a bullet that struck one of them in the shoulder and the other in the hand. Both yelled in pain and dropped their guns, leaving her free to deliver a kick to the head that sent them collapsing into each other. She marched up the aisle with a revolver aimed at Nefaria. “You will not escape justice!” Peggy leapt from behind the row and tackled the woman to the ground. “Mr. Jarvis!” she yelled as she struggled to pin her to the floor. “Get the others out of here!” Jarvis nodded and hurried to the stage. He stood for a moment in front of the women as they looked frightened up at him. “Um, ladies, if we could all make our way to the exits?” They looked at him in disbelief for a moment before Angie jumped up. “You heard the man! Move it!” Angie took off with the chorus girls, Hebson, the pianist, and Jarvis right behind. The woman in red delivered a backhanded strike to Peggy, forcing her off. Peggy leaned against a chair as the woman stared at her. “This is not your concern. I am here for Nefaria.” Peggy got to her feet. “Is that you, Miss Adams? Why don’t we put a stop to this before more people get hurt?” “The only people who will get hurt are criminal scum like Nefaria. But if you’re going to defend him…” She drew her revolver only to have Peggy kick it aside. She delivered a right hand to the face of the woman who staggered back, but looked back at Peggy with a dangerous smile. “You’ll have to hit harder than that.” She gave a yell and leapt toward Peggy. OK: Can Peggy stop Miss Masque’s rampage? Or will Miss Masque bring Nefaria to ‘justice’? And what is Nefaria’s connection to the Maggia? Stay tuned to find out! Game On!
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