The Buccaneer Chronicles:
Dreaming on the Spires of Immortality
By Andy Simpkins (despite interference by Keith Dunn, Karen Dunn, Adam J Purcell and Tony Gallichan)
“In this house of make-believe, divided in two, like Adam and Eve...”
The TARDIS doors whirred open as they stepped out. Immediately, they pulled their coat collars closely to them as the mist had a chilling, enervating quality to it and swirled around them almost sinuously and malevolently, like a snake looking to twine itself around them and constrict the life out of them. Behind them, the TARDIS, its chameleon circuits in a rare state of repair, had turned itself into a writhing tendril of mist, indistinguishable only by the fact that if you looked at it from a certain angle, certain patterns in the mist formed the shape of a parasol. Nodding to himself in satisfaction, Macfadyan tugged his collar up and pulled his coat around him.
“Well Bucky, where to then?” said Blanche
“I would suppose we should head to the area where there are the most concentration of people. That way we can find out where the ruling governmental body, if there is one, can be found” He replied primly.
Macfadyan shuddered inwardly as he strode down the mist-shrouded thoroughfare with his colleagues. He cast glances around him at the citizens who hurried by, only casting furtive glances at the newcomers, and occasionally shaking his head. He could not shake off the strong impression that this place was strongly familiar to him in some strange, unfathomable manner.
More than once, one of the party would try to ask a passer-by what this place was but they were all greeted by indifference or barely concealed hostility. Most of the populace would just turn away with a barely muttered and vague response.
Shrugging his shoulders. Macfadyan, like the rest, trudged along with his collar up, surrounded by the ever-present and soul-draining mist. His thoughts clouded and as bleak as the cityscape he occasionally glimpsed through breaks in the mist.
Curtis would glance around him, a scowl on his face and his eyes ever-watchful for threats, seen and imagined, sensing danger in ever corner and his hand never strayed far from the pistol holstered under his arm. He had only just lived through the Sontaran Incursion in Jerusalem and his nerves were still raw. He had lost a lot of good men that night, either through combat with the invaders or those who had suffered a more horrible fate, sucked through a spatio-temporal portal to die an agonising death in the lightless, airless void of inter-dimensional space.
Blanche felt a little more comfortable, finding some solace in the fact that the curling mist was reminiscent of the fog that used to permeate the streets of Cheapside in the East End, her former home in Victorian London. There, the mist was both an ally and a foe. One could either find a hiding place in it to hide from the pursuing policemen or it was used as concealment for members of rival gangs of footpads and purse-snatchers, ready to jump out in an instant and rob you of your valuables, or your life with a deft slash of a razor across your throat....
Cre'at hovered along beside the members of his party. His photo-optic receptors could see in most wavelengths of the spectrum normally but he sensed that something was blocking the extreme limits of his senses. He had spent many years as a companion of The Buccaneer and any planet and alien vista they came across came as a delight to the senses after spending many years serving in the Scientific Function of his home planet of Sotus. Escaping the highly regimented and stratified society, albeit at the instructions of his superiors who wanted the secret of time travel for themselves, 'he' found the wanderings and travels stimulating and more than made up for the knowledgeable but stultifying existence he had left behind on his own planet..
All of a sudden, each of their personal reveries were shattered as a blood-curdling scream came from an alleyway only twenty yards from where they were. As one, they glanced at each other and then, footfalls clattering on the ferro-concrete beneath their feet, they rushed to find the source of the cries.
Seeing a dim shape in the mist, Curtis shouted:
"Over here! The assailant is still with his victim. Hurry!!"
As one, they turned and ran in the direction of the shouts. Through the mist, they could see the vague form of someone hunched over a body lying prone and unmoving on the cold ground. His head whipping around at the sound of the approaching party, he quickly stood up and beat a hasty retreat into the enveloping shroud of the mist.
Whipping his pistol out of its holster, Curtis made after the assailant. Many years in the army had made him lithe and fit but try as he could, Curtis could barely keep up with the attacker, who was always just that little ahead of him as they raced through the streets and back alleys of the city. Even though he fired a warning shot in the air, the mysterious attacker showed no signs of slowing or turning around to surrender and admit his culpability .
Cursing expansively and breathlessly, Curtis had to stop and slump over to regain his breath while the object of his pursuit, seemingly effortlessly, made his escape.
Making his way back to the rest of his party, Curtis said somewhat annoyed:
"I cannot understand it. He was like a man possessed. I have seen long distance runners in action but to run at that speed and for that duration, he must either have super-human stamina or be under the influence of some sort of narcotic..."
Angry at having to admit that he had lost a suspect in pursuit, he hawked and spat on the pavement and crouched down on his haunches, glowering with annoyance at himself.
Blanche was taken aback. The man she had known for some time on the Buccaneers TARDIS, normally so authoritative yet easy-going was displaying traits she found unsettling. It seemed to her that the all-pervasive air of melancholy and frustration that this placed seemed to emanate was starting to touch them all. Even Macfadyan, normally cheerful and ever-optimistic, was morose and taciturn, given only to uttering terse sentences when circumstances dictated.
Hovering over the supine body on the ground, Cre'at scanned the body and said:
+Despite numerous cuts and wounds, the victim is still alive. He should be, in theory, responsive to some degree but it seems that he is some sort of self-imposed semi-comatose state. I must confess that I am baffled by this, as this should not be happening...+
A frown creasing his brow, Macfadyan crouched down and sat astride the supine body, a tall thin blond haired man in his early thirties. He started rocking him, all the while urging him to wake up so he could find out what had happened to him and what this increasingly disturbing place was.
Frustrated at the man's lack of response, Macfadyan grabbed hold of the man's shirt lapels and began shaking him roughly, all the while shouting:
"Wake up! Wake up, damn you!! Who are you and what is this place?Tell me!! Answer me!!"
Blanche and Curtis exchanged alarmed glances. Macfadyan, normally placid and tolerant, had turned into a raving maniac. All of a sudden, Macfadyan let go of the unconscious man's lapels, letting his head hit the tiles with a dull thunk, and began tapping the man's face with his fingers. These rapidly devolved into a series of open handed and increasingly hard slaps to the victims face.
Incensed by what he was seeing, Curtis decided on a harsh but necessary solution to a problem which was rapidly escalating out of control....
Macfadyan was only halted in his ranting when he heard a dull click and felt something hard and metallic pressed to the side of his head. Slowly turning around, his left hand raised in preparation for a blow that never landed, the first thing he saw was the business end of Curtis' service pistol, looming large and ominous in his vision and pointed directly at his face. Looking further behind him, he saw that Colin Curtis, a man he had only come to know recently and had trusted him in a fight and as an ally, was pointing the pistol at a spot directly between his eyes, a look of implacable and barely contained fury on his face.
"Give me one good reason why I shouldn't pull the trigger and end all your woes in a fraction of a second. What you are doing is completely out of character and I had to stop it. We need this man alive so we can get some answers and you were prepared to pound his head into the pavement!I would strongly suggest that you desist or else I will terminate you here and now, regardless of orders issued by UNIT!"
Slowly getting to his feet and all the while glowering with anger at Curtis, Macfadyan straightened up and tugged at his coat lapels in a gesture of casual defiance.
"Very well, I shall find out what is happening us at some other time..."
Glancing around and down at the still unconscious body lying on the ground, he turned around and faced Curtis.
Staring him straight in the eyes, he said icily...
" You may have stopped me from finding out the truth about our predicament but I will found out sooner or later. I do not forget easily and I certainly will not forget what you have just done..."
The two men stood there, momentarily frozen in a tableau of mutual loathing before they turned away. Curtis holstering his pistol and Macfadyan, having regained his customary composure, checked that his trousers were not stained from kneeling on the wet cobbles of the street.
Casting a glance around him, Curtis growled with suppressed annoyance:
"I would strongly suggest that we beat a hasty retreat from here. The assailant is long gone but, fortunately, his victim is still living and breathing. I will briefly tend to him to make sure he is comfortable as and when the emergency services of this planet turn up."
Blanche glanced around herself uneasily. The mist, clammy and ever-present, now seemed to be closing in and threatened to engulf and overcome her.
"I hate to tell you all but I think we should all bugger off back to the TARDIS and get the 'ell out of 'ere. We've seen too much, both of this place and of each other and it's scaring the livin' shit out of me..."
Everyone turned around and looked in her direction. If Blanche, normally so unperturbed by hostile situations, was becoming edgy and nervous, then is was a clear indication that they should retreat with all possible speed.
Sadly, that was not to be the case. All of a sudden and sounding unnaturally loud and clear in the muffling effects of the fog, they could hear multiple footfalls coming closer. Footfalls that signified authority and not above administering a little judicial pain and suffering by way of correction...
Emerging out of the mist, they stood there, nine hulking, menacing human shapes clad in heavily padded and armoured one piece jumpsuits, a helmet and tinted visor covering their undoubtedly bullish visages, the proctor captains of the city guard surrounded Macfadyan, Curtis, Blanche and Cre'at. Firmly gripped in each of their right hands was a metal tube, about eighteen inches long with a flared and open end. It purpose was all too clear:"Follow us or suffer the consequences..."
Shrugging inwardly, captive and at they mercy of forces they had yet to encounter, all they could do was follow...