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Doctor Who Whoniverse Internet Adventure #01 - "The Cold Darkness"


Chapter 3
"Something Familiar"
by M. L. Stone


---


Dean loved models.


       Since his third year of life, when he would create replicas of his parents' and his grandparents' bloc-flats from ancient alphabet building blocks, he loved models. He loved the thrill of creation, the knowledge that something special and unique had been rendered by his hand. Model-building was a dying, if not dead, art. There was little use for it, aside from curio seekers. Dean had managed to financially persevere by extending his talent to puterspace and holosim replicas. The holotech aficionados seemed to appreciate his talents with holographic software and hardware.


       Dean was in his twenty-third year and he still loved models.


       His current project was most definitely a rarity and could even be considered to be an oddity. It was a roadster. A life-sized roadster, with a fully working combustion engine (getting the parts was almost impossible) and leather interior (real animal hide, not synthskin, another difficult procurement. The little man had asked Dean to build it as both a favour and a challenge. Dean was at first hesitant to accept and had spent an entire night guessing and second-guessing himself. Once he saw the smile on the sad little man's face, he knew that he had been right in accepting the challenge.


       Dean wasn't certain if the automobile (even the word gave him a childish thrill) was an Edwardian or Victorian roadster. The schematics that the little man had provided him with were almost insane, a hodge-podge of bits and pieces of paper, and consisted, in part, of several hand-renderings made by the little man himself. The instruction, complete with amazingly accurate to scale diagrams, would be framed and hung on his wall once Dean finished with the project. He felt that the rendering, with its elegant, spidery handwriting, was a work of art.


       Dean began to put the finishing touches on the curious directionals that the little man had insisted upon. The commset in the corner suddenly squawked and diverted Dean's attention. He nearly put an ugly scar onto the bonnet of the roadster. With the canary yellow colour, also insisted upon by the little man, the mar would have been unforgivable.


       Dean quickly and carefully placed his tools in his tool kit and wiped his hands on his overalls. Then he crankily stalked over to his desk, booted his puter and activated the commset.


       A squelch of static blew out of a speaker and Dean had to resist the impulse to duck. He made some adjustments and the image on the viewscreen cleared of interference. He was finally able to see the face of the person calling on him.


       "Hi ya, Alexias," grinned Jane.


       Dean just managed to keep his jaw from dropping. It had been so long....


       "It's been so long," Jane said with a winning smile.


       "Uh, yeah, I was just thinking about that," murmured Dean.


       Jane leaned back in her chair and Dean was able to view her surroundings. Alnor was with her. That was a good sign. He was never able to take Jane without Alnor's presence to balance her out. He stood to Jane's left and gave Dean a grin and a wave. There was another man with Jane, one that Dean did not recognise. The man titled his head at Dean in acknowledgement. Dean keyed an ID query into his puter on the second man. Dean noted that the design of the room hinted at a space station, a new one at that.


       "So, Alexias, how have you been?" Jane smiled.


       Dean swallowed hard and fought down a rather bright blush. "I've been... well, pretty good, actually. Yourself?"


       Dean could've smacked himself. That sounded so hokey, so cliche...


       "Fine, Dean, just fine." Jane stared into the vid unit with an intensity that bothered Dean. He shifted in his seat uncomfortably.


       "Jane, what's the matter? What's wrong?" he asked and immediately wished for the words to come back.


       Jane's face became tighter, her eyes wider and her lips pursed. Dean knew that expression all too well; he had made Jane angry. "Why does something have to be wrong?"


       "Because that's the only time that you call me."


       Jane's face softened and returned to normal. "Well, I s'pose you're right. Okay, then, I'll cut to the quick. We need your help."


       Dean narrowed his eyes at his vid unit. "Who is *we*?"


       The other man stepped closer to the vid unit. He sat down in a chair next to Jane and introduced himself. "I'm Lan Henricksen, Administrator of Space Station Krios."


       Dean's puter scrolled up the information gathered on his ID query. "Yes, you are Administrator Henricksen, aren't you? Right, what sort of help do you need? I mean, I'm just a model-builder, you know."


       "Yes, I do know." Henricksen smiled slightly. "Mr. Alexias, we want you to be our model-builder."


       "What for?"


       "In due time, Mr. Alexias. How quickly can you be at Fiveash?"


       Dean was openly surprised. "The Corps up-lift station? Never mind my getting there, how am I even going to get in? I don't have that kind of--"


       "Your entry will be taken care of before hand. Your passage to Krios will be pre-arranged as well. All you need do is gather what tools you need and get to Fiveash as soon as possible."


       Dean began to voice a protest, but was cut short by Jane. "Dean, please listen. This is very important. I know that the situation is bizarre, and that the lack of details will probably upset you and worry you, but I promise, everything is legit. We need your help. You're the only one that can help us."


       "Me?"


       Jane's voice was uncharacteristically quiet. "Yes, you. Please, Dean, go to Fiveash."


       Dean stared at the commset for a moment. "I've a project that I'm working on. It's nearly complete. I promised to finish it before month's end. Will I be back by then?"


       Jane and Alnor looked to one another, and then to the Administrator.


       "Yes," answered Henricksen.


       "Right. I'll do it. What tools do I need?"


       "Anything concerning holography and puterspatial constructs. Your manual tools may come in useful as well." Henricksen looked off-screen and then back again. "There will be a launch awaiting you at Fiveash. Please hurry as best you can. Time is very precious."


       "I'll hurry," muttered Dean. He moved to shut down.


       "Dean?" came Jane's voice.


       "Yes?"


       "Thank you," she replied sweetly.


       "Uh-huh." Dean nodded and shut down the commset and his puter. "Help me, Dean Alexias, you're our only hope..." he joked weakly. Dean stood and walked over to his work station and gathered his gear into a rucksack. That done, he slung the rucksack over his shoulder and picked up a large silken covering. He stood and regarded the roadster. "Sorry, old girl, but I've got to go." He draped the cloth over the roadster and moved to the door. "I promise I'll be back to finish," he said to the roadster. He shut off the overheads, set the intruder alarm, and exited his workspace.


* * *


Henricksen walked back to his desk and sat on the edge. "Best in his field. Right."


       Alnor shrugged. "So, the kid looks a little on the mousy side. He's a modeller, they're hard to come by."


       "Besides which, he is good at what he does, and he is the only outside person that we can trust," Jane added testily.


       Lan exhaled loudly and sat down behind his desk. "I hope that we can trust him. He holds our Trojan Horse in his hands. Literally. If he can't be trusted...."


       Jane almost knocked her chair over. "He is," she snapped.


       Alnor stared at her. "Are you all right?"


       Jane was taken aback by her outburst. "Sorry, I'm sorry, Administrator. It's been a long day."


       Henricksen nodded. "The two of you need some more rest. Go back to the rest area. You'll need all the strength you can get for the next part."


       Alnor nodded and he and Jane walked to the office door. "What is the next part?" he asked.


       "Don't s'pose you're a poker player as well as a reporter?" Lan asked with a grin.


       Alnor began to smile. "You mean that I should get my game face on?"


       "Indeed. While you're in the rest area, you may want to take a moment to practice your lines as well."


       "Our lines?" Alnor and Jane stopped at the threshold and turned to face Henricksen.


       "You're the ones who'll make this thing come to life," Lan responded.


       "We're pros, Administrator," Jane said. "And so is Dean. We'll pull this off without a hitch."


       Henricksen smiled and opened the door for them. The reporters exited. The door slid to a close behind them and Lan fell against it. He rubbed his forehead wearily. "We'd better pull this off," he murmured. "I'd hate to try to pull a pension from a burning cinder in space."


* * *


Gamn O'ke paced the floor in his suite, alternately furious and frightened. He recalled and scrutinised every word, every action, every look, every smell, every colour, everything that had happened when the Emperor of Draconia was assassinated. There had to be a clue somewhere, something that he was missing. He knew there was something there, he could feel it. Something familiar...


       The entry chime rang and Gamn stopped short just before the door. "Now what?" he sighed. He opened the door and smiled. "I wasn't expecting you. Please come in." Gamn motioned to the interior. "I was just going over the events prior, during and after the assassination, and I feel that I may have found something. There's something familiar about the assassination, something that I've heard or read or have even seen somewhere before. It's just on the tip of my mind. If I could only--"


       Gamn sucked in a breath. He had been hit. With what? He looked down and saw the purplish haze oozing from the exit wound in his abdomen. "That's it..." he whispered, "now I remember...." His eyes rolled into the back of his head and his body fell to the floor with a thud. His arms and legs convulsed for a moment and then were still.


       "Pity you can't share this startling revelation with anyone else," Gamn's assailant said dryly. The assailant watched O'ke's body for a moment and then exited Gamn's suite.


---
To be continued...



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