How we think the fight will go
Irene Adler took a defensive stance, wondering how the first blow would land. She’d never been in a genuine physical altercation before, preferring obfuscation and manipulation over any exertion of brawn, and she was deeply troubled by the young woman on the other side of the cage, tall and strange and aloof, clad all in black. Her hair was the most troubling part, a great white mane sporting a single dark streak.And then there was the fire poker in her hand. That was quite troubling as well.
Irene waited. The white-haired woman didn’t move. She just watched Irene calmly, her dark, distant eyes queerly lifeless and still.
“Well?” said Irene.
“Well what?” said the woman. Her voice was low and dry.
“Aren’t we going to… Well, to fight?”
“Fight? No,” said the woman.
Irene slowly let her defenses down. “What do you mean, no?”
“I mean no. That’s what I mean.”
“But why do you mean no?”
“Well, I can’t fight you,” said the woman. Her black eyes flicked up and down, looking Irene over.
“Because you’re not real, my dear,” said the woman, in a tone that was almost pitying. “You’re not a real woman, a real character. You’re just an idea of one, a sketch. One that’s been picked up and scribbled on by rather a lot of people, it seems.”
“What… What do you mean?” said Irene. “Of course I’m real! I… I was a contralto in the Imperial Opera of Warsaw!”
“Were you,” said the woman, disinterested.
“Yes! I was the secret lover of Wilhelm Gottsreich Sigismond von Ormstein, Grand Duke of Cassel-Felstein and King of Bohemia!”
“Possibly,” said the woman. “But no one ever seems to remember that…”
“I duped the great detective!” said Irene. “I, I beat him at his own game, I used disguise and deception to steal myself away from him!”
“True,” said the woman. She then began to count on her fingers: “You’ve also been a victim of a tapeworm in a rather bizarre medical case, a nude, scheming dominatrix, a school nurse, a mother trying to recover her kidnapped child, a ridiculously-dressed professional thief with a fairly dodgy accent, and, in one story, you wound up being the other one.”
“The other one what?”
The young woman waved her hand absently. “You know. Moriarty.”
“I did?” said Irene, perplexed. Then she thought on it for a moment. “Oh, that’s right… I remember that now…”
“Yes. You’ve been rather a lot of things. Most of them wearing awful outfits, if any outfit at all. You’re both more and less than a real character, my dear. You’re a ghost that other stories have tried to make flesh. That’s the problem with you three.”
“The Great Detective, His Nemesis, and The Woman. You’re all myths, ideas, grand pictures of people and things, ideas that later generations have beaten and bent and reshaped for their own intents. You’ve grown far larger than the stories that birthed you – yours especially, so fleeting was your appearance – and there are always growing pains. That’s the way with ideas. I should know, I grew up surrounded by them.”
Irene looked down and suddenly saw herself from many perspectives: alternatingly cold and charming, cunning and duplicitous, wicked or moral, but somehow always, always sexual – her desires and desirability almost always front and center, and her ingenuity derived from her sexual power, rather than the reverse.
“I see now,” Irene said, her voice small. “Yes, I see.”
“What a contradiction you are,” said the white-haired woman. “The Woman That Knows – knows sex, knows duplicity, knows the hearts of men. A woman so often defined by men… A big idea constrained time and time again by little minds.” She began walking forwards, her dark eyes large and still in her face, like the eyes of a shark. “I can’t kill you. I’d know if I could, you see, I’m rather experienced in that. You’re too big for Death. But neither can you fight me. You’re spread too thin. They can’t decide who you are.”
Irene felt herself fading, as if she was but a sunbeam poking through the curtains, and soon the sun would move away. “What will happen to me? What awaits?”
“Rebirth,” said the woman. “I’ve seen a few people go through it. But it’s always hardest to watch the stories.” Irene felt her vision blurring, the tall, white-haired woman swirling into the image of a gaunt, white face atop a narrow, billowing pillar of black. “They’re forced to stay in conversation with their past lives, you see.”
Predicted Winner: Susan Sto-Helit
NOTE: THIS MATCH ENDS ON Thursday, March 5, 2015, AT 11:59 PM, EST
Cage Match fans: We’re looking forward to hearing your responses! If possible, please abstain from including potential spoilers about the books in your comments (and if you need spoilers to make your case, start your comments with: “SPOILER ALERT!”)