The Buccaneer Chronicles:
Keeping the Peace
By Andy Simpkins (despite interference by Keith Dunn, Adam J Purcell and Tony Gallichan)
Part Three - "You're In The Army Now."
Chapter Four - "Take On Me"
"SONTARANS!" Blanche yelled.
It was true.
Sontarans had dared to openly invade and attempt to establish a bridgehead on this planet. Slow moving they were but they were hideously strong, somehow nimble also, they could defeat an ordinary man in hand-to-hand combat with ease. In fact, so confident were they of victory, they had even not bothered to wear their helmets, their hideous, troll-like faces, round and smooth wearing rictus grins of premature triumph.
The battle waged on, Sontarans had fallen to grenades and lay sprawled out on the sand but an alarming number of UNIT troopers had also fallen victim to the energy weapons that the enemy carried. The Sontarans body armour was tough enough to turn aside machine gun fire but they were vulnerable enough when they were hit in the exposed area of their heads.
Cautiously sidling over to Curtis who was sheltered behind the shattered hulk of what once had been a bulldozer, Blanche said:
"Curtis, listen. Somethin' Bucky told me about just came to mind. One place a Sontaran is vulnerable is a spot on their necks called a Probic Vent or summit. It's where they are hooked up to when they ain't in use, I fink. They might be strong but they are sorta stupid wiv it. You must tell your men to go hand to hand wiv these bastards and tell them to take sumfink' sharp!"
Curtis mulled over this for a moment and then called out to a section of his men who were sheltered nearby.
"Listen men, I want you all to attach bayonets, use your knives or any other thing that will puncture and cause damage. This scum has an Achilles heel. Look for a small opening at the base of their necks, just above where their armour ends. It means going hand to hand but I'm sure you are all spoiling for a good scrap!" His men growled their assent and pulled out assorted combat knives and other sharp blades they had in their equipment bags.
Suddenly Blanche let out a bestial scream and Curtis whirled around. Several feet from where they where crouched was a Sontaran, a look of fury on its distorted alien features. It was raising an energy weapon with the intention of reducing these humans to their component atoms.
"Primitive Earthers, die!" it said in its guttural voice.
Before Blanche could react further, Curtis had sprung to his feet and rushed the Sontaran. It raised its arm in an attempt to block the 8-inch long combat knife that came whistling down towards it. Its arm was knocked aside as Curtis drove his knee into the creature's midsection. The move surprised the clone warrior and it grunted in pain and doubled over and as it did, Curtis grabbed it in a headlock around its thick neck and drove his knife into the small opening in the base of its neck. The Sontaran gave voice to a bubbling hiss and collapsed on the ground in front of Curtis, dead before it touched the ground.
Curtis looked at the lifeless corpse of the Sontaran and said:
"That his how you do it men, are you up for it?!" As one person, the remaining UNIT troopers rose to their feet and rushed the surviving Sontarans, howling war cries and seeking to avenge their fallen comrades.
The Sontarans were taken aback by the sudden change in circumstances. One moment, they had the Humans pinned down and taking shelter and the next, seeing them rushing towards them, howling like Banshees and seeking to send them to oblivion. A few of the onrushing soldiers were cut down by meson blaster fire but before they knew it, the Sontarans were grappling desperately with enraged UNIT soldiers who had seen too many of their friends and colleagues perish.
While this battle was raging, Curtis shouted over to Cre'at who was hovering nearby and cheerfully shooting with his head cannon at any Sontarans that came near:
"Can you do anything to disable the device? If we can sever their lifeline to the other end of the nexus, we will have a fighting chance. What can you do?"
* I will have to inspect the device further in order to ascertain a means of disabling it. I will need covering fire as Sontaran energy weapons are capable of penetrating my outer casing. As this technology is relatively new to me, I cannot guarantee a successful conclusion. *
"Very well." Turning to Blanche, he handed her his side arm and said: "Right, Miss Simmonds, you are going to have give cover while Cre'at and myself head out to look at the alien device." Clicking off the safety, he handed the pistol to her and said: "Just remember, point and shoot this at anything who isn't Human and looks like they fell out of the Ugly Tree and hit all the branches on the way down."
Blanche gave him a mock salute and with a wry smile on her face said:
"Don't worry, Captain Crumbly..."
"That's Curtis..." He said resignedly
"I'll nail the bastards good and proper, I like a good scrap and this reminds me a lot of the fights in the back-streets of Victorian London between my gang and the other mobs that used to pickpocket over in Cheapside. I wos a dab 'and with a cut-throat razor..."
"Then rest assured, you will have plenty of opportunities to use this then. Use it wisely, Miss Simmonds!"
Crouching low to avoid the occasional bursts of energy weapons fire and machine gun blasts that still cut through the air, Curtis and Cre'at made their way over to where the device was situated. Hovering over the device, Cre'at scanned for any means of de-activating it. Daring to brave the unearthly glow that still enveloped the device, he extended its arms and cautiously touched the device. Curtis could almost see the Sot'm visibly relax and then he proceeded to carry out a manual inspection of the device.
After an eternity to Curtis but was in fact about 30 seconds, Cre'at turned to him and said:
* It is as I said, I cannot access this device through manual or scanning means. It is too well made and shielded from my sensors to access its internal systems. I will have to employ more direct means of shutting it down. I would suggest that you retire to a safe distance. *
Looking at the Sot'm for a long moment, Curtis turned away and was about to retreat back to the barricade when he felt small but strong manipulator digits grasp his sleeve.
* If I am unsuccessful, please salvage my memory core. It is impervious up to and including violent nuclear fission. If you are so disposed at some time, could you return it to the Cybernetics Function on Sotus? I am sure they will find it of some use and will learn from my recorded visual and aural records. Also, please take care of Binky..... *
Curtis choked slightly and felt himself warming to this emotionless, impassive mechanoid life form, even if the reference to "Binky" threw him slightly.
"Very well, I will see what I can do..."
Turning back to the device, Cre'at simply said:
* Go... *
Running back to where Blanche was sheltering, he enquired:
"How does the battle go for you, Miss Simmonds?"
"Bleedin' things. They might be slow and stupid but some of them are still smart enough to dodge a bullet. Got three of the buggers and winged two but they are so dim, they just keep wanderin' around looking for somethin' to shoot at! You know, I don't fink they take you seriously, I mean, normally, Sontaran troopers are crafty little gits, or so Bucky says. He hates Sontarans.Always goes a funny colour when they're mentioned....."
"We might have bigger things to worry about in a minute. Take a look over there..."
What they both saw was the sight of Cre'at, having finished his inspection of the artefact, hovering back about twenty feet and several feet up in the air. Bolts of energy weapons glanced off of his external plating and some almost burned through to the Sot'ms internal systems, causing him to dip alarmingly in midair as he rerouted internal power to crucial systems and considered what to do next.
Even over the roar of the vortex, they could hear the Sot'm charge up his head cannon. A moment later, a brilliant beam of coherent and devastating energy shot from the muzzle of the weapon. Blinding in its intensity, the energy beam made contact with the alien orb and splashed over it in a dazzling display of pyrotechnics. The device emitted a high-pitched whine and the aura surrounding it flickered momentarily. The beam flickered out and Cre'at looked visibly drained of energy.
* Even my most powerful burst of energy is proving to be difficult to penetrate the devices outer casing. I shall endeavour to keep a more sustained burst on the sphere. *
Again, an instant later, another beam of coruscating energy played over the surface of the device.10 then 20 seconds later, Blanche shouted:
"Look at the opening! Somethin's 'appenin' to it!"
All gazes, Human and Sontaran, looked in the direction of the conduit.
Even to the untrained eye, it was apparent that the orb was about to start a swift and very violent demise. The glow surrounding the opening had started to flicker and the howling wind had picked up in intensity. Cre'at continued to play the energy beam on the artefact, and then all of a sudden, the gusts of wind began to change direction and started to draw objects toward itself at an alarming rate. There was an almighty rush of displaced air and the blinding glow of the opening winked out of existence, to be replaced by the complete blackness of interdimensional space .The volume of the wind increased to a deafening roar as any object; Sontaran, Human or inanimate object was pulled towards the rent in reality.
Summoning up every last erg of energy left in its internal power systems, the Sot'm played one final blast of firepower over the artefact. The result was instantaneous and deadly. The opening contracted at an alarming rate but also intensified in its strength. Several Sontarans, caught in the grip of the vacuum, tried to grasp at any unyielding object in order to delay the inevitable, but to no avail. Their limbs flailing as they were pulled through the air, they were sucked through the swiftly closing conduit into a horrible death, suffocating in the limitless depths of the starless and never-ending space between the dimensions....
Curtis, half-blinded by the swirling sand and the still-blinding glow of the conduit, took one last look at it before it shrank into nothingness. His mind could have been playing tricks on him but he swore he could have seen several figures, standing just inside the closing aperture. Tall and impassive they stood with their arms crossed, their features and bodies hidden by long flowing monk-like robes and their faces hidden by hoods, seemingly impervious to and unaware of the maelstrom that was enveloping the world outside. Before he could take stock of the unearthly sight presented to him, there was an almighty boom as the conduit finally collapsed, leaving in its wake, a silence that was almost as deafening as the hurricane like winds that had been swirling around only moments before.
The remaining Sontarans, caught by surprise at the events that had just unfolded, realised that the day was lost and lay down their arms in a collective gesture of surrender. It was then that they were surrounded by the surviving UNIT soldiers who took them into custody for questioning.
Curtis turned around to scan what was left of his battalion and said: "Gentlemen, I want that orb taken into custody and try to get a trick cyclist to test these chaps. Also...."
He was interrupted suddenly by a muffled clang as something heavy hit the sand. Turning around, Blanche and Curtis saw the immobile form of Cre'at lying on the sand 20 feet away from them. Rushing over to the stricken Sot'm. They both kneeled over Cre'at. The glow that normally lit up the Sot'ms visual receptors was absent and a thin plume of smoke drifted up into the air from the muzzle of the head cannon that had wrought so much devastation minutes earlier. To all intents and purposes, the Sot'm was permanently deactivated...
Crouching over the inanimate alien, tears streaming from her eyes, Blanche sobbed: "Cre'at, you stupid lump of metal, come back to us! I know I took the mickey out of you an' called you 'Mr. Balloon'. Life won't be the same without you and you even managed to hold Bucky in check. Who will I have to take the piss out of now?! Bucky can be so thick skinned and to all intents and purposes, have 'is head stuck up 'is own behind, the silly bleeder wouldn't even notice...."
Curtis could only stand back a few feet and observe the scene in silence. The creature he had only known for a few short days; both here in Jerusalem and months back on the Channel Island of Jersey months ago had willingly sacrificed himself to save a race of bipedal mammalian organics that he only had a clinical and distracted interest in. He vowed that he would carry out the wishes of the Sot'm by any means he could.
He looked at Blanche and saw that she had curled her small hands into fists and was hitting the lifeless Sot'm on its metallic casing in an agony of anguish and despair.
"You stupid bloody thing. What am I goin' to do now? Left on the TARDIS with a stupid, pompous prig of a Timelord for company? I won't survive a bleedin' day!!"
Suddenly she drew back with a small gasp as the Sot'ms visual receptors lit up and it floated of off the sand to hover unsteadily in mid-air.
* There is no need for cardiac massage, Blanche, as I do not possess a circulatory system. However I do appreciate the sentiments you have just expressed.... *
With the smoke of the battle clearing clean-up squads and medical team moved in to the area, checking bodies, administering fist aid, last rights or just tagging and bagging for burial detail. The Medic laid the cold hand a crossed the bodies chest
"No pulse looks like a civi, caught one of those laser pistol blasts in the face, the Captains going to go spear! Mark him down and lets move on."
His companion made a non-committal grunt and the two moved on in their grizzly task.
The body lay there undisturbed for about fifteen minuets, then there was a great gasp of air and the man with the burnt and ruined face sat bolt upright. Looking around him he quickly grabbed a flap of dead skin from under his chin and pulled.
With slight elasticity his blood smeared face snapped off to revile the features of Adh Seidh. Getting up he produced a bottle of water and a cloth, and as he walked quickly down the street he proceeded to wipe off the last of the latex, spirit gum and tomato sauce. Reaching a curtained alcove he produced a key unlocking the curtain he pulled it back and stepped in to the inky blackness of the alcove, his voice echoing out
"Hallo who have you been nattering to?"
The curtain slid closed of its own accord, then a whiring, chuffing noise mingled with a discordant, electronic bleeping started. The alcove and curtain faded into the blank wall.
Curtis sat and stared into space as he considered the events of the past few hours. He was back in his office, seated at his desk. Only the desk lamp positioned nearby illuminated the room. His face was streaked with sweat and grime and his uniform was caked in perspiration, dirt and Sontaran blood. His body ached all over and his attention kept wandering to various cuts and abrasions that covered his body. All these things were of secondary importance compared to what was going around in his head. His reverie was interrupted when there was a light tapping on the door.
The door opened and Henderson limped in. His left leg was heavily bandaged and he was trying not to drag it too much as he walked. One of the Sontarans had winged him with an energy weapon and as a result he had second-degree burns to his calf and foot. He was, however, satisfied that the creature who had inflicted this injury was now suffering a horrific fate in interdimensional space.
"Take a seat, James. Well, tell me the good news an the bad news."
Henderson slid a thin folder of papers over the desk towards Curtis and said:
"Well sir. The good news is that the prisoners are proving very cooperative to questioning and we have been able to glean quite a substantial amount of information out of them - all of it practically useless. The shrinks say they have the intelligence of children, sir. Their High Command obviously didn't expect us to put up any resistance. The one Sontaran that did show a bit of nouse killed itself - we're still not sure how. We think he might have been some kind of officer or NCO. All of which will be sent on to UNIT Headquarters for further action. The excavations site has been looked over and has been pronounced clear of any kind of contamination; biological, viral or radiological. The Keldian sphere and the fragments of its twin we were able to locate have been passed on to the relevant authorities."
"...And the bad news...."
Henderson drew a heavy breath and said:
"During last nights engagement, we lost a total of 17 men, most of whom were casualties caused by energy weapons fire. We lost 3 men during hand to hand skirmishes and another 4 men were lost when the spatial-temporal rift closed and should therefore be deemed as missing in action..."
Curtis open the folder and looked at the pictures and profiles of the men who lost their lives in the attack last night
." Most of them were just fresh out of training, eager to see a bit of the world and they thought this would look good on their CV. Join the Army, see interesting countries, meet interesting people and get killed by genetically cloned aliens..." he bitterly thought. "Why did Earth have to attract the wrong sort of person?" he wondered to himself. As soon as that thought crossed his mind, he knew what he had to do and who to inform.
"Thank you James. You are dismissed. Go and put your feet up and pass on my congratulations on to the rest of the men. I have things I need to do here and I need to do it while it is still fresh in my mind."
"Very well, sir. Oh and Colin..."
Curtis looked up suddenly. It was very rare that Henderson addressed Curtis by his first name.
"Yes, James. What is it?"
"Nothing really Sir. It was just the way you dispatched that Sontaran earlier .It couldn't have been done by a lesser man. I suppose me and the lads just want to say thanks..."
Curtis felt his face redden and he said gruffly to try and hide his embarrassment:
"Any man would have done the same thing in a situation like that, given the proper training..."
"Understood, Sir. Goodnight" Henderson said, trying to hide the smile that came into his voice.
After Henderson had left, Curtis thought for a while longer and decided that the plan of action he had decided on was the right one. He switched on the computer situated on his desk and he sat before it. He steeple his fingers and, his face lit by the glow from the visual display unit, began to type....
Blanche lounged at ease in one of the many chairs dotted around the main control room of the Tardis. She had her feet curled up underneath her and was sipping at a cup of tea while reading a magazine. By her side was a large box of chocolates from which she idly selected one from time to time and popped it into her mouth. Considering the scenes of destruction and slaughter she had seen a couple of days ago, she was calm and composed, having been witness to and a participant in street fights, albeit on a less advanced and technological level, back in her home time. People get killed every day, she mused, but the Sontarans were the bad guys and had to be gotten rid of. She could sometimes only see such things in clear shades of black and white and that had seen her through many difficult times, both in Victorian London and on her travels with the Buccaneer. She was pragmatic in that respect and couldn't understand why Macfadyan what to stand back and look at all sides of a situation. She already had a foresight of what it was doing to Macfadyan's mental state and wanted to keep such thinking at arms length.
She looked up at that moment to see Cre'at come gliding into the control room. The mechanoid had been busy and Blanche had rarely seen the creature for the last couple of days as he had been occupied with recharging his almost depleted power cells and making repairs to his internal systems and outer metallic carapace.
* There is still no sign of Macfadyan? * Cre'at asked of Blanche
"No, it 'as been a few days since our run-in with the Sontarans and there is still no sign of 'im. I am wonderin' what we are to do. One option is that we stay put and get some 'elp from UNIT as to what we can do; the second is to wait for Bucky and see if he turns up. Another option is for you to try and pilot the TARDIS out of 'ere. As to where we should go, I'm buggered if I know....One choice is for me to go back to Victorian London an' for you to go home to Sotus."
The Sot'm, if he had been capable, would have sighed regretfully.
* Unfortunately, it is a little harder than that. I am privy to most of the functions of the TARDIS but some are beyond my capability. Besides, Macfadyan can be somewhat overzealous in guarding some of the more important functions from me. This is understandable given the fact that time technology is a closely guarded secret known only to the Council of Timelords and the Guild of Engineers back on Gallifrey. I would be able to shift the TARDIS out into the vortex but I am unable to calculate spatial-temporal coordinates and implement them. In essence, we would be out in mid-stream with no way of getting to the shore, to use a metaphor *
"That stupid sod, Macfadyan!" Blanche shouted and banged her fist on the arm of the chair." 'e goes wanderin' off after almost scarin' the crap out of us all and leaves us marooned 'ere! If 'e were 'ere now, I would pull the silly bleeders beard out,' air by 'air and then I would get really angry...."She lapsed into a sullen silence.
* I share your sentiments, Miss Simmonds. Macfadyan has been rather remiss in his attitude towards us. He has a responsibility towards us and ,despite his blusterings, knows he is indebted to us for saving his life and getting him out of awkward situations on more than one occasion. He cannot remain absent for much longer as he needs this ship. Correct me if I am wrong but he has an innate sense of wanderlust and needs this ship to slake his thirst for exploration. *
"'avin ' a sense of wander-wotever it was is one thing but to go off in a bleedin' huff is another thing entirely. If that daft sod were to come through that door now, I would give 'I'm a great sloppy kiss on that stupid bearded face of 'is, ask 'I'm where he 'ad been for the past few days and only then I would kick 'is balls up into 'is 'ead!"
Blanche was interrupted in her rant by a loud knocking at the TARDIS doors.
Looking at each other, wondering who could possibly be disturbing them, Blanche uncurled herself from the chair and went to the main doors. Upon opening them, she was presented by the sight of Macfadyan standing there. He was covered in a thin coating of sand and his clothes bore signs of a long sojourn somewhere. His face was dirty and had a faraway expression on it.
"Bucky?" said Blanche almost enquiringly.
Macfadyan looked at Blanche in a rather distracted manner as though for a few moments he did not recognise her, licked his lips nervously and then said:
" I misplaced my key, child. Must be here somewhere...." he absently patted his pockets
Blanche got hold of Macfadyan's hand and gently led him into the main control room.
"Where the hell 'ave you been, huh? Me and Mr balloon was worried, we were........'Ere, are you ok?"
Upon entering the control room, Macfadyan had slumped down in the armchair that Blanche had been previously occupying. He looked around his surroundings as though he had been away for months.
"You stay there, Bucky, I'll get you somethin' to drink." said Blanche
As she made her way out of the control room, Cre'at floated in front of her.
* Shall I tell him what you plan to do or shall I? * said Cre'at, with a mischievous smile on his face...
Captain Colin Curtis looked out of the window of his office down onto the street below. Below him was the sight of everyday life being paraded before his gaze. Street traders were setting up their stalls and relishing the thought of selling statuettes of Egyptian gods and other souvenirs to the tourists that were starting to appear.
One trader had come out of his shop to engage in conversation with a party of English tourists, fresh from a scuba-diving holiday out in the Red Sea and up in Jerusalem for a couple of days to de-gas before flying home to England, judging by the amount of t-shirts they were wearing depicting diving companies and operators that were prevalent around the northern reaches of the Red Sea.
Moving in on one of the party who had made the mistake of stopping to look in the window of his shop, he said to the individual, a tall, heavily built man in his late thirties with rapidly thinning dark brown hair concealed beneath an 'Emperor Divers' baseball cap and dressed in a white t-shirt and shorts.
"Inside, you will find many bargains, sir. Come inside and we will see what we can do for you..."
The tall Englishman, taken aback by the openness of the trader, followed him into the shop, pausing long enough to say to the rest of his party:
"I'll catch up with you guys in a bit."
The rest of the party cackled with glee. Most of them had been out to this neck of the woods before and were only too aware of the predatory nature of the shop-traders when it came to the unwary tourist.
"You got to hand it to them, they know how to make the unsuspecting part with their money..."Curtis thought idly to himself.
He sat himself down at his desk, looking at the ever-present pile of paperwork stacked neatly on his desk waiting to opened and the appropriate action sought. and marshalled his thoughts. There was a tapping at the door and a UNIT courier strode in. Under his arm there was a plain brown A4 envelope and he managed to catch sight of an official seal on it. Signing for the document, he dismissed the courier and placed it on his desk. On the envelope was stamped the words: Top clearance documents, for receiver's eyes-only. Drawing a deep breath, he tore off the seal and looked at the message contained within...
Attn Captain Colin Curtis, UNIT divisional commander
Northern Middle East Sector
Orders contained within:
Having received your report following the disturbance, civil unrest and extra-terrestrial incursion in Jerusalem and your prior report to activities on the British Channel Island of Jersey, we have given great consideration to what action to take following the appearance of the Gallifreyan Timelord known as Lord Macfadyan.
As you stated in your report, we too at Command HQ have grave misgivings as the errant and disturbed behaviour displayed by this individual and the threat posed to internal and external security. You have been witness to this individuals lapses of unreasonable and diminished mental and cognitive functions and we agree that a potential threat is posed to this planet if he were to remain here for long periods of time. Earth neither has the technology or the military ability to withstand or repel encroaching alien forces nor do we wish to be embroiled in a conflict between warring extra terrestrial factions .You have stated that he acts as a 'magnet' drawing unwanted alien interests to wherever he appears and we must, however, reluctantly, and after checking with our "Scientific Advisor", agree.
Your orders are as follows:
You are to be relieved of all duties pertaining to UNIT activities for your sector. A replacement officer will appointed to take over and carry on with your duties.
You will tie up any affairs you have, both monetarily and social in preparation for what you are being appointed to carry out
You are to approach the Gallifreyan Timelord and using all means possible work your way into his confidence. If successful, you will be our eyes and ears, to use a metaphor as he continues on his journeys. Gaining, and earning the trust of an individual such as he will not be an easy task but we have every confidence in your abilities.
You will also be required to keep a comprehensive journal, both noting the activities and behaviour of Macfadyan as well as logging notes of destinations you will be visiting, both temporal and extra-solar.
One last note and this is to be carried out to the letter:
If for any reason, you suspect that Macfadyan is continuing to display errant behaviour and you deem this behaviour threatening or dangerous to Earth, you are to reply with TERMINAL, repeat TERMINAL action in order to cease Macfadyan's actions.
All that remains for me to do is to wish you the best of luck in your mission. You are the best man for the job as you have been in proximity to Macfadyan for a prolonged period of time and are suitably equipped for the task that lies ahead of you. Good luck to you
Signed this day,
Brigadier Carlos Mendoza, Senior Commanding Officer, UNIT HQ
Curtis sat and stared at the document for a long time, digesting all that it contained and considering the fate that lay before him. 'The moving hand writes, and once written, moves on.' He knew what he had to do.
A couple of hours later, he was standing outside the exterior of Macfadyans TARDIS. He knew that device of old when he and the Buccaneer first encountered each other in Jersey. It all seemed such a long way off. Looking at the TARDIS for the first time close up, he was only too aware of the shabby state that some of the circuitry contained in the TARDIS was in. The exterior was still that of a shop that sold marital wear and appliances. Looking in the window, he saw that one of the shop-window mannequins, wearing a skimpy basque and stockings, bore more than a marked resemblance to Blanche at her most winsome and alluring.
Upon inspection of the other mannequin in the other window, this one wearing the latest line in novelty male thongs, Curtis found out that it had a striking similarity to Macfadyan. Shuddering inwardly, he composed himself and banged on the door.
A few moments later, Blanche opened the door.
"Wotcha Crumbly! 'ow are you?"
"I am fine, Miss Simmonds. Has Macfadyan turned up yet?
"Yeah, 'e reappeared a couple of days ago. Wanna come in for a cuppa?"
"That would be very kind of you. I need to speak to Macfadyan for a few moments anyway."
Following her through the doors, she and Curtis made their way to the main control room. As he stepped over the threshold into the ship proper, he had a moment of mental dislocation as a strange mental buzzing passed through his mind. It passed almost immediately and he asked of Blanche:
"What was that strange sensation I felt just now?
"Dunno, I felt it too, the first time I set foot inside the TARDIS. It only 'appened the once. Think nuthin of it..."
"Bucky! The Cap'n's 'ere to see you!"
Curtis had, amongst other things, been given documents and drawing showing him what the interior of a TARDIS looked like. However, writing and drawings could not do justice to the sight that was presented to him.
He was in a chamber, about 20 wide with a high roof supported by gothic arches. There was plush carpeting underfoot and the room was dominated by the massive and imposing hexagonal control console that was situated in the centre of the room.
Looking around further, he noted that one of the walls over the back of the control room faded into a waterfall, tumbling gently over into a rock pool, surrounded by a woody glade. Dotted around the room were several sumptuously upholstered leather armchairs, three had cats reclining in them and a couple more had magazines strewn around them. Oddly, despite the gentle light from an unknown source, there were candles dotted around the place.
"Sorry, never 'ad much time for 'ouse-keepin'. "Blanche said with an embarrassed smile.
By the door that he had just entered through was a hat-stand. Hanging on it was a long velvet frock coat and a rather moth-eaten wide brimmed hat with a feathery plume stuck into it. Hanging on there also were a variety of umbrellas and parasols.
"Ah, Curtis there you are. Please do sit down." came a voice from beyond a dark archway.
Sitting down in the proffered armchair, he sipped on a cup of tea that Blanche brought for him.
"So, how does the world outside go? Sorry for stamping off like that. I have had a rough time recently. Saving Humanity and the universe at large. It does get to you after a while!" The Time Lord walked into the chamber, a slight smile on his face.
Curtis looked at Macfadyan for a moment. The Timelord did not appear to be showing any of the uncharacteristic behaviour that was prevalent during his stay in Jerusalem. He was to all intents and purposes, calm and relaxed, with his usual half smile playing over his bearded face.
"I will cut to the chase, Macfadyan. I am here to offer you a proposition."
"Go ahead, I'm all ears." Said Macfadyan,a mischievous smile lighting up his face as he sipped from his tea.
"During your absence, Miss Simmonds Cre'at and myself were instrumental in stopping and repelling a heavily armed attack force from coming through an extra-dimensional portal and setting up a bridge head on Earth. Heaven knows what would have happened if they had managed to succeed. The city and the surrounding areas would have been razed to the ground in a scorched earth policy so that an exclusion zone would have been established for miles around. None of our forces would have been able to approach near to their bridge-head without being detected and wiped out of existence.
"This would have only been for starters. Using the technology of the portal, they would have been able to call for more machinery and troops from their own time and place and reinforcing their position on this continent. Before humanity could band themselves together and form an organised resistance, the Sontarans would running amok amongst them. Those who are not killed outright would be put to slavery striping this planet of all its vital resources or otherwise made to pledge cringing fealty to their oppressors. A dark chapter would then unfold for humanity, one which both of us fear Humanity would never be able to free itself from.
" Therefore, I wish to offer my services to you as an advisor of sorts. I would assume that in your travels, you have come across many intelligent life-forms, both benevolent and malevolent. You will need someone there, someone with my military expertise and training to help you, should you require someone to assist you in case the situation demands some...strong-arm tactics. You are able to think or bluff your way out of a situation but sometimes, the only solution is to have a mind that can outwit and, regretfully, sometimes be stronger than them."
The Buccaneer set down his empty cup and saucer on a nearby table and sat back in his chair and steepled his fingers while he contemplated what he was about to say.
"Mr. Curtis, you present an interesting argument. Let me tell you about what I have witnessed. As you have probably been briefed during your training, we Gallifreyans are a long-lived race. You are also aware that when one physical body is mortally wounded or killed outright, we have the ability to regenerate ourselves into a new physical form. You Humans only have the one life and the one body and thus your lifespans to us are as mayflies dancing in flight over a pond on a summers day. But you should be thankful of that, you only have a limited time in which to experience and savour everything that life has to offer. Our extended lives are both a blessing and a curse. Having a lifetime measured in millennia instead of decades can lead to stagnation of a culture and an atrophying of the spirit and can lead to an ennui that only continued sensation can slake. That is one of the reasons I decided not to return to Gallifrey after.....something happened. I felt as if the conformity and ritual that governs life on my home planet had become a noose around my throat, threatening to squeeze the life out of me and that I felt to be an intolerable situation. Of course, he wouldn't have made that choice so I'm glad he did, the irritating, useless little........
"You are true in what you said, in my travels through time and space, I have fought in some of the holiest of wars and smashed some of the holiest jaws, to coin a phrase. All this I have done because I did it out of a need to fulfil the sense of altruism that resides within me. As you so eloquently stated, there are a lot of good people out there but also a lot of scum that needs to sink back into the depths from whence they crawled out of. However I must point out that I have accomplished a lot on my own and with the able assistance of people who have accompanied me on my travels and have benefited quite a few cultures along the way, without risk of blowing my own trumpet too much..."
Curtis, sensing defeat, rose to leave; "I am sorry to have troubled you. I will take my leave now. I bid you well on your travels." But before he could make his way to the TARDIS' doors was called back by a forced 'ahem' from the Buccaneer. He sat back down in front of Macfadyan, curious to hear what Macfadyan had left to say.
Clearly relishing the moment, Macfadyan said to Blanche, who was lounging in a chair nearby, engaged in conversation with Cre'at:
"Blanche, would you be useful for a change and get us some more tea, our guest might be needing it..."
Blanche sloped out of the control room muttering: "What did your last bleedin' slave die of..."
"My apologies for Blanche, she can be rather forthright and blunt in her manner of speech but her heart is in the right place. I should know, I made sure of it" he chuckled.
"What else did you want to say to me, Macfadyan? I have work to get back to and it won't go away. Make what you have to say brief and I will not trouble you any more." Curtis said in his most clipped tones.
"Well you see, it is like this, my dear Human. We all have a code of ethics and protocols that we must all adhere to. A need to believe and carry out the wishes of that is greater than ourselves. This applies to me and it also applies to you. I have a sense of fulfilling my destiny in trying to make this universe a better place and you have your sense of duty, honour and obeying your superior officers that has been drilled into you since you first enlisted with the military forces on Earth."
"Carry on..."said Curtis. A sudden sense of foreboding had suddenly came over him.
Gesturing expansively with the half-full cup of tea that threatened to splash out all over the carpet, Macfadyan continued.
Macfadyan set aside his now empty cup and saucer and leaned forward in his chair with an earnest look on his face.
"I do what I have to do because it seems right, for wont of a better term. Fate throws all manner of things at us during our brief flirtation with existence and it is down to us to deal with them as best as we can. You have been sent here for a reason. That reason has yet to disclose itself but I need you here with me for another reason that may surprise you.
"I have been around the known galaxy and numerous timelines for quite a while now and in all that time, I have never come across a race so complex, so beguiling, so infuriating, so appealing and so mystifying as Humanity. I still find them a mystery after all this time and, to be perfectly frank with you, I need your.....well, I need your..... help."
"For reasons that I still cannot fathom out, I have an inordinate fondness for the race of semi-evolved bipedal humanoids that inhabit the third planet of Sol. The Council of Timelords back on Gallifrey dismiss them as nothing of any consequence but I beg to differ with them.
"It is my honest opinion that Humanity, given the right nudge in the right direction, has a lot to offer the galaxy and could do a lot to right the wrongs that are so prevalent in it nowadays. It also has a destiny"
Macfadyan looked to find out that a plate of biscuits had been placed on the table next to his chair during the time that he and Curtis had been in discussion. He picked up the plate and offered it to Curtis.
"Ginger Snaps, your favourite, I do believe. As I was saying, your presence on this ship could be of vital importance. I need someone here to serve me, if that is the correct term to use, as an advisor. Most importantly, I need some one here to serve as my conscience. I have acted rashly in the past, or so I'm told and I need someone to temper my judgement with enough of the innate but seldom used wisdom that your planet has yet to offer. You have had some fleeting experience with it as your mind is disciplined and organised enough to comprehend what could be possibly in store. We need each other for all the right reasons. However, I must warn you, what lies ahead isn't for the faint hearted. I myself am having........problems. Something is........wrong, either with me or........I'm just not sure. Recently things have become, well, both confused and clearer, if that makes any sense So, what do you say?"
At that moment, Lord Macfadyan, former Timelord of Gallifrey thrust out his hand and offered it to Captain Colin Curtis, formerly of the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce. After a moments deliberation, he took the proffered hand and shook it.
He just never saw the crossed fingers behind the Time Lord's back........
The following morning was cool with a light breeze blowing just enough to stir the ever-present sand that lay about on the ground. The enveloping heat of the day would not be felt for a couple of hours yet and Curtis was grateful for that as he carried the possessions he would need for his journey through the streets of Jerusalem.
He was filled with a sense of anticipation at what lay ahead of him but his heart was heavy as well. The previous night, he had been on the phone to Jenny. He had to be guarded in what he told her and the only thing he could tell her was that the was going away on an open ended mission. The only reassurance he could offer was the cryptic remark was that 'he would be back before she knew it...'
She had accepted the news with stoicism but knew the tears would start as soon as he hung up the receiver. It had been a difficult leave taking but he fervently hoped it would not be a valediction.
He reached the Buccaneer's TARDIS and before knocking on the door, he took one last look around at the sights, smells and sounds of the planet that had raised and nurtured him.
The sun was just climbing over the assorted spires, domes, minarets and other buildings that constituted one of the most aged and historic cities of Earth. Numerous tourists, fresh from their slumbers in the Sheratons, Novotels and Marriots that dotted the city, were strolling around, eager to soak up the sights that Jerusalem had to offer. Secular Jews made their way to the Western wall to offer their prayers to Jehovah and Moslems made their way to the mosques around the city to give thanks to Allah.
"So many contrasts and yet so similar in their aims. They all seek solace from a higher source. So many rivers and yet they all lead into the same sea...If only they knew what sights I would soon be seeing, it would make this, as historic and splendid as it is, pale into insignificance. Ahead of me lie alien sights and sensations that would have the most jaded tourist or traveller selling their souls for." thought Curtis as he banged on the door of Macfadyans TARDIS
The door opened moments later and Macfadyan poked his head out.
"Ah, Crumbly, there you are! Come on in..."
Curtis was too preoccupied to correct Macfadyan as he followed him into the ship. Once they reached the Control room, Macfadyan said:
"Just put your bags over there. I managed to browbeat Blanche into preparing your quarters and you can take them along shortly once we have got underway."
Curtis sat himself down in a chair and looked on as Macfadyan busied himself as he flicked switches, fiddled with slider controls and generally made sure that the TARDIS was ready to depart.
As Macfadyan carried on with the flight preparations, Blanche and Cre'at both made their way into the Control room. Upon seeing Curtis, Blanche rushed over and wrapped her arms around him and gave him a hug.
"Glad you could make it, Colin. Bucky woz up 'alf the night wearing out the carpet wiv 'is pacing up and down, wonderin' if you would turn up today!"
* I am most heartened that you have decided to accompany us on our travels. It would make a refreshing change to converse with someone besides an adolescent humanoid female whose hormones are still running rampant throughout her. *
"Oi, leave it out, Mr. Balloon!" said Blanche as she gave the Sot'm a playful slap on his burnished metallic exterior. The Sot'm maintained a stoical silence as he turned to look at Macfadyan as he finished his calculations.
"Right, all done. With a flick of this switch, we shall go a' journeying."
Upon closing the relevant circuit, the time column in the centre of the console began to rise up and down slowly. A powerful "Thud" echoed around the chamber and a discordant bleeping noise filled the air. Moments later, there came a wheezing, groaning sound.....
Curtis was disappointed. Apart from the movement of the rotor, there was no feeling of motion. He was prepared to feel a sudden burst of acceleration or other such forces to signify that the TARDIS was now out of normal space-time and spiralling through the nether regions of extra-dimensional space.
The only sight or sensation he was rewarded with was the sight of Macfadyan, straightening up from his work over the console, rubbing his hands with satisfaction and saying:
"Right, I could do with a cup of tea and some biccies right now!"
Strolling around the console to where Curtis was seated, Macfadyan said to Curtis:
"How does it feel to be one of the privileged few to leave the planet of your birth to go wandering throughout the cosmos?"
Curtis got up and stretched his legs.
"I'm not too sure at this moment in time. Leaving Earth, I am sure, will be unsettling at first but I am sure I will get used to it."
Macfadyan gave Curtis a pat on the shoulder.
"It will soon pass, I am sure. Your bags are over in the corner, if you would like to follow Blanche where she will show you where your quarters are. When you are ready, come back up here and we will chat some more."
"That is very kind of you, Macfadyan. Please allow me some time to get settled in and I would be only too happy to oblige."
"That's the spirit! Now, if you would excuse me for a moment, I have matters I need to .Make yourself at ho...."
Macfadyans face suddenly paled to a ghastly pallor and his face sagged as all the animation that characterised it drained out of it as he suddenly slumped to the floor in a faint.
In his mind he was falling again.
"Macfadyan! Are you all right?!" said Curtis
"Bucky! woss the matter. Talk to me!" said Blanche as she rushed over to the stricken Time Lord.
Even the Sot'm, Cre'at, was concerned.
* Do you require medical assistance? *
At that moment, Macfadyan's eyelids fluttered open and he gave voice to a small groan. He propped himself up on his elbows unsteadily and gave a weak smile to his audience.
"Sorry about that, It caught me quite by surprise. I have heard all about cosmic angst but have never experienced it myself..."
Aided by willing hands, he got to his feet. As he propped himself up on the console while he regained his bearings, a concerned look crossed over his face and he murmured aloud;
" Adh Seidh....."
"Wot did 'e say? It sounded like nonsense to me?" said Blanche enquiringly.
" I think he said 'Adh Seidh', Miss Simmonds." said Curtis
"You are correct, my military friend." Macfadyan said ."As for who or what 'Adh Seidh' is, I have the horrible feeling we are going to find out.... very, very soon...."