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Doctor Who Internet Adventure #24 - "Remiel"


Chapter 3
"Falling Heroes"
by Tim Hollis


---


The future will be better tomorrow

— George W. Bush, ersatz US President


"Doctor, wait for me" Ruth called down the corridor. She jogged after him. "Zeke will be unconscious for a couple of hours, and then it'll be a while before your friend can be accessed. Can be" she trailed off. "Before we'll know," she trailed off again. "Look, there are people you can talk to. People who can help you."


       "No, thank you."


       "I know you're not used to this, you being a tourist and all. It's standard practice. Look maybe we got off to a bad start."


       "Detective, you want answers about that explosion, you think I can give them to you. Sadly, I can't. That's where we start. Whether you find that bad or good is entirely up to you." And he was walking off again.


       "It's almost lunchtime. I know you missed breakfast."


       "I'm not hungry," he called over his shoulder.


       "Well, maybe it would help to be around other people. You've been alone in that cell for over twelve hours."


       He paused. "Maybe it would. And I wouldn't mind a glass of water."


       "Good. It's this way," and she walked off down the corridor in the opposite direction. After a few moments she smiled, as she heard the sound of the Doctor following her.


* * *


It was almost lunchtime before Holmes made it back to Thirteenth and Freedom. He had skirted the edge of the large park where he had lost Mavis, kept low in the shadows in all morning. As soon as he saw one of the morning papers, with his face emblazoned on the cover, he had activated his holographic projector, completing his journey in the form of a little old lady.


       When he got back to his flat, on the corner of Thirteenth Street and Freedom parade, they were waiting for him. He knew there was someone inside before he opened the door, and he knew it wasn't the cops. Two members of the Remiel Objection, come to have a word about last night's mix-up.


       As soon as he walked through the door, preparing his explanation, he was hauled off his feet and thrown across the room.


       "What the hell? Oh. Hang on." He deactivated the projector and hauled himself off the floor.


       The two visitors, a man and a woman, were relieved to see it was him, but made no apology.


       The woman was stocky but had an air of lightness. She dressed in a dark blue skirt suit. Her brown hair was cut in a neat bob and stray patches of lighter brown and even grey at the roots revealed that it was dyed.


       "Hiroshi, welcome home," she said. "Where is your friend?"


       "Mavis went for a walk."


       "I see." She nodded and walked to the window. She opened the curtains a little and peeked through, looking up and down the street below. "Things did not go according to plan."


       "That's an understatement. The wrong person got killed." Holmes flopped into a chair in the corner, not making eye contact with the other two. The room was silent for a moment, the only noise was the heavy breathing of the other man.


       The other man was dressed simply, in loose black trousers and a flowing white shirt. Long, black hair, reaching to his shoulder blades, and a straggly black beard that ended above the silver crucifix chained around his neck. His hair was streaked white from his temples, and his beard was flecked with grey. The long waves and twists of black and white framed a long, thing nose and mad, staring eyes.


       "It's through pain and death that we learn who we are," said the man dreamily. "The passage of time and life are the certainties that give our existence meaning. We are one under God, destined to die and be reborn in the next life, not in this. That is the whole purpose of our group, the root of our Objection."


       "The way things have turned out is to be regretted. Whenever lives must be sacrificed to our cause there is sadness. But also joy, if it is the right life. This was, of course, the wrong life, and that is even more unfortunate. But you can't make an omelette without breaking some eggs."


       "I just don't understand it," said Holmes. "Her friend knew what was going to happen."


       "What?"


       "He was following Mavis and me. Somehow, he knew. He knew not to get involved, he'd been warned. Why did they go, why did they get in the way?"


       "He knew? Said the woman. "Yes, we had considered this possibility. Spies. People who would interfere in our work."


       "I'm not sure, but it didn't seem like that."


       "Well, we can't be sure. Do you know where this man is?"


       "I, well, I don't know." He's took Mavis and disappeared in a big blue box. Yeah, I can tell them that. They'll think I'm as mad as they are. "But the other one was arrested."


       "Of course. Hiroshi, you know how important our work is, don't you?"


       "Yes," he intoned. "Important work. I know."


       "We may have differing views on certain things, but we are united by our Objection."


       "Absolutely."


       "Man is not meant to have this technology," chipped in the other man, Josiah. "Not now, not ever. And it is our duty to destroy it." Joe shook his head slightly. "Of course," he said, "this is just the beginning. There is so, erm, sin here to be fought. This is just the start."


       Holmes had always found Josiah (and nobody knew him as anything but Josiah, though some called him "Holy Joe" behind his back) a little too intense to be true, as if he was putting on a show of fundamentalism to distract people from his purpose. His manner, and the occasional lapse in concentration, supplanting "gods" for "God" and that sort of thing. He was too stereotypical a psycho and a little too fuzzy on what he really believed in. Not like Maggie. Mrs. Magdalene Crane was every inch the prim mid-western housewife and lay preacher. She was from a small town and very small minded.


       "Start?" Holmes turned to Maggie. "What does he mean?"


       "Well," she smiled reassuringly. "Although I intend to leave this filthy city after our work against the Azrael Institute is done, and return to Hope Springs Virginia, Josiah is committed to staying on and eradicating all traces of ungodliness in this New Sodom."


       "Yes, yes indeed," said Joe. "Sodom."


       "Now, Holmes. You still have work to do. We can't allow witness to endanger us, and we can't allow spies to live. These two survivors present a real threat. They could identify you, and unless as long as you're alive you yourself are a danger to our entire organization. I would simply hate for you to be caught by the police. I hope you get me. They could be used to whip up antagonism against our group, turn the public against us and make them think that we are reckless killers. And if they knew about your intentions beforehand, they could be a threat to us all. The entire Objection could fall on these poor souls, whether that is their goal or not."


       "So?" said Holmes.


       "So, you must kill them. Start with the one in custody. Our contacts will get you into Police Headquarters. Then you'll need to track down the other one."


       Holmes did not dare to object.


       "We have all the equipment you will need," continued Maggie, opening a sports bag on the breakfast table. She sorted through the contents. "Explosives, detonators, a holo-tracker. You'll be best to try for the elevator workings, they're bound to go in there at some point. Now, let us pray."


* * *


"In other news, masked members of the Remiel Objection gave a press conference in which they claimed to have proof that the Memento project has recently led to babies in New Cheadle being born without souls. They released amateur footage of newborn children on life-support in an unidentified hospital, children apparently born without the ability to breathe or the instinct to cry and feed. The Azrael Institute immediately countered by claiming that these children had been born without the genetic programming in their brains that creates instinctive intelligence, as a result of a genetic virus used during World War Three. They claimed Eurogen was working on a way to eliminate the problem in future generations.


       "They questioned the Remiel Objection's true beliefs, saying that allegations of biodata grafting interfering in the reincarnation of souls contradicted earlier claims that it prevented souls from entering the Christian Heaven. Within the past hour, Father O'Dowd, a Remiel sympathiser and spokesman for several of non-militant groups opposed to grafting, has appeared in Mansfield Park to give his own press conference on this latest information. He suggested that these soulless babies could be a punishment from God on the parents of New Cheadle. He also said:


       Cut to footage of Father O'Dowd at a press conference in front of a large stone fountain near the edge of New Cheadle, the sea in the background.


       "Of course, we all know only Christian souls enter Heaven, and it is entirely possible that the sinful souls of other faiths actually do get reincarnated. I know that reincarnation seems a little far-fetched, but it's important to respect these more fantastical faiths."


       The audience bursts out laughing and O'Dowd, unable to continue his speech over the noise of the laughter, leaves the stage red-faced.


* * *


After a couple of hours in the canteen, and the Doctor had consumed several bowls of tomato soup and six cups of coffee, Ruth had finally managed to get him to open up a bit, to start talking to her. Unfortunately, he was talking nonsense. Either he was completely insane, or playing a very clever game with her. Then the call came to go upstairs.


       "I'm afraid I have to take you up see Detective Wiltshire. He'll just want to have a few words."


       The Doctor didn't seem to be aware as she guided him out of his seat and to the elevator shaft.


       "I mean, I've never encountered this biodata transference technology, so it can't flourish. What if my friend's death causes public outrage against this Remiel Objective. They are forced to stop their campaign of terror and turn legitimate. Then, through political campaigning, they reach their objective and get it banned."


       "So?"


       The elevator came quickly, and they stepped aboard, the Doctor still in his own world. Ruth pressed the button for the thirtieth floor.


       "So, without Kirena's death, the Memento project flourishes and the future is changed, not as I remember it. The whole future of humanity would be different."


       "Better?"


       "Well, different. And that, in turn, would change the future of all the other races. Nothing would be as I remember it. That's the crucial thing, conflict of memory and new reality. A paradox on a galactic scale. Completely academic, of course. Because if Luke saves Kirena and changes the past, the paradox he creates will destroy the universe and there will be no future. Well, not much of one. Just a few short centuries. If he saves her, if he does what his heart is telling him to do, what is, essentially, the right thing, then countless beings will never be born. Including her. Another paradox, also academic. The universe will implode as surely as she did."


       "Yes. Well. That's," she trailed off, frowning. "Are you serious?"


       "What?"


       "Are you serious? About the universe ending?"


       "Oh yes."


       "Well, if that's all true."


       "You don't sound convinced."


       "I'm just trying to understand. Isn't there someone who can stop it? If your friend has travelled back in time, and is going to change history, can't anyone stop him?"


       "Well, normally, me. But under these circumstances," he shook his head. "Unless the Azrael Institute has been experimenting in time travel as well. Has it?"


       "I'm afraid not. But couldn't you just go back in time later and make it so that they are. Or were."


       "Not now that you've told me that they're not. Unless you're lying. Are you lying?"


       "I'm afraid not."


       "How do I know you're not lying now?"


       "Well," and at that point there was a loud crash above them and the lift shuddered. It dropped a bit, Ruth and the Doctor being knocked off their feet, and it shuddered some more. And then it came to a halt.


* * *


Jadi was pacing up and down the console room, checking his gun, the one Mavis had found so pointy. He had found it in the TARDIS firing range while Luke had been looking for clothes for him. It hadn't been too long since it had been fired.


       He doubted Luke would have been using it, and the Doctor certainly wouldn't have, so it must have been Kirena. A great shot, but she'd only ever fired at targets. Somehow, holding it made him feel better. Made him feel closer to her. This gun felt even better in his hands than usual one. He placed it in his holster, strapped over his shoulder, and then drew it quickly. Then he put it down on the edge of the console, as Luke walked in.


       He had brushed his hair, cleaned his face and re-applied his make-up, and changed into a red velvet jacket over a white tee-shirt with red stripes. But beneath the fresh make-up and the clean clothes he was still agitated, on edge.


       "Mavis is just coming," he said. He didn't look at Jadi, went straight to the console muttering to himself.


       "Is it wise taking her along?"


       "She's the only one who knows where that waiter will be. I'm landing in the morning. We'll have twelve hours to stop the attack."


       "And if we fail."


       "Then we get back in the TARDIS and try again."


       "I see."


       Mavis came into the console room, doing a hop, skip and a jump through the door. She was wearing a long coat that Luke had found for her. It was red with tartan lapels and patches of different colours and patterns, altogether a little too much for the eyes.


       "Yours?" asked Jadi suspiciously.


       "Certainly not! The Doctor's. Something old." The TARDIS communicated a change in status. Luke checked the console. "We're landing."


       "So, what do we do?"


       "Whatever it takes."


       "Android doubles?"


       "We'd get lost in eternity looking for such a thing."


       "Stop the terrorist planting the bomb?"


       "Mmm. Stop Benz picking that restaurant?"


       "Stop this Memento project ever being formed?"


       "Or I sit in the chair, instead of Kirena."


       "No. You can't."


       "Yes I can."


       "I mean you won't. I looked in the history books. You," he paused. "I can't say."


       "Go on."


       "Shouldn't."


       "Cos' it would change history?"


       "Yeah."


       "Assuming the history is the truth."


       "Yeah."


       "Doesn't matter anymore."


       "Yeah."


       "Yeah."


       "You two are funny," said Mavis in the silence. "Are you always like this?"


       "No," said Luke. "We're usually very laconic with each other."


       "La-. La-con-ic. Laconic." She jumped in the air and ran around in a circle. "Laconic, laconic, laconic. Wheee. La-con-ic. What does it mean?"


       "The opposite of verbose."


       "Shall we go," said Jadi, tucking his gun into his shoulder holster.


       "After you," said Luke.


       Jadi put on a big, black overcoat and started for the doors. Luke opened them and Jadi walked through.


       "Now, Mavis," said Luke. "Do you think you can help us find your boyfriend. Can you remember where he was this morning?"


       "Morning?"


       "When you had breakfast?"


       "We had cereal. And then we had it again."


       "Well, now you've got the chance to have it again. Remember I explained about time travel."


       "Yes." She nodded seriously.


       "Good. Well, we've travelled back in time."


       "Back. Yes."


       "You understand?"


       "Yes. Back in time. So, I have to remember."


       "Yes."


       "Yes."


       There was a long silence.


       "OK, I tell you what, Mavis. Do you have a home?"


       "Oh yes. I have lots of homes."


       "Great," said Luke unconvinced. "Well, do you and your pumpkin have a home? A home together?"


       "Yes. A pretty little flat."


       "Ah. Now, then, do you think you can remember the way."


       "Maybe if I try hard."


       Luke grinned. "Would you be willing to try hard to help me?"


       "Oh yes. I like you. You're colourful."


       "I try. Well, lead on, then."


       "OK." She just stood there.


       "Are you waiting for something, Mavis?"


       "A lonely impulse of delight," said Mavis. Luke stared at her, taken aback. Then she did a little twirl and went skipping off towards the door.


       "Yeats," Luke grinned and followed her out.


       Outside, the TARDIS had landed in an empty side street. Luke walked to the end and onto the main street. It was half full with people. There were lots more people than Luke had seen on the streets the previous night. Or the coming night, that is. It was morning, and the rush hour. Luke knew this. But this wasn't like rush hours he had seen before. People were rushing to work, but not that many. Less than there should be for a city this size.


       Luke realised that the general policy must be for staggered working hours. People starting work when they wanted. And the people weren't all dressed in stiff suits and ties. Some looked smart, but plenty were dressed casually.


       Luke stepped out of the way of some passing businessmen, and joined Jadi and Mavis on the other end of the sidewalk. Mavis was getting her bearings.


       "This way," she pointed boldly and started off down the sidewalk.


       Jadi looked at Luke. Luke just shrugged. They started to follow her.


* * *


Ruth stood, dusting herself down. The lights were flickering. She reached over to the panel of buttons and pressed the one for the thirtieth floor again. The lift creaked, shook up and down, but didn't move. She reached down to the bottom of the panel and pressed the alarm button. It didn't sound.


       "Can anyone hear me?" She said into the grill beside the buttons. There was no response. "Stay calm," she said to the Doctor.


       "I am."


       "Get against the wall of the elevator and keep trying that emergency communicator." She pulled out her cecom out of her pocket and checked the display. "No signal. Must be a dampening."


       "That felt like a bomb. Did that feel like a bomb to you?"


       "I'm sure it was just a malfunction." She took off her jacket and dropped it on the floor. "Keep trying the emergency button. I'm going to take a look up there." She jumped up and hit the door in the roof open, then jumped again and caught either side of the hole. She pulled herself up and through, the muscles in her arms shuddering. She got her knees through and then stood on the roof.


       "What can you see?" The Doctor shouted up after her, standing right below the hole, showing no interest in the emergency button.


       "It's pretty dark. The wires look worn. Sounds like the drive is still going, something must have got stuck."


       "Can you see any explosives on the roof?"


       "No, of course not."


       "Good, we may have a chance. I'm coming up."


       "What? No."


       But it was too late. The Doctor was already hauling himself easily through the access hole. It was as if he had just sprung up, little effort. But his face was determined, he was concentrating on something and it was taking all his energy. He was looking around, first at the roof of the elevator, then all around the shaft.


       "You're right. No sign of explosives." He smiled reassuringly.


       "I know. Now get back down there," said Ruth.


       "I'd rather not. There. That's perfect." He was pointing up at Ruth's hand. No, at the large beam running between this shaft and the next that she was leaning on. "Think you climb up?"


       "Well, yes." The top was two feet above Ruth's head. "But why would I want to?"


       "Off you go. Quick, I don't think we'll have long before the next one."


       "Next what?"


       "Bomb."


       "But there are no bombs here."


       "Not here. Up in the workings."


       "Doctor," Ruth was cut off by a noise above her. She looked up and then ducked back as a piece of flaming debris dropped down the other shaft. She ducked her head under the beam and watched it drop all the way down, then looked back up. She could see flames in the winching area. "Doctor, give me a boost, please."


       "Of course." The Doctor pushed her and she scrambled onto the top of the beam, then she turned around to pull the Doctor up after her. Then, as she reached out her hand to him, the second explosion went off. The lift shook and dropped a few feet, and both shafts were filled with burning debris. And then, with a gut-wrenching creak, the lift started to fall again.


---
To be continued...



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