The Second Time Around *PART TWO ADDED 19/11/17*

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bad geminton
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The Second Time Around *PART TWO ADDED 19/11/17*

Postby bad geminton » Sun Nov 12, 2017 11:18 am

Foreword

Hello folks. Some of you may remember, back in the depths of forum history, a little fan fiction project called Kashmir run by our very own fan fiction section moderator DukeNukem 2417. That was all the way back in 2010, a story involving separate but connected chapters featuring all 11 of the doctors existing at that time, all set on the planet of Kashmir - of which I wrote four - plus a prologue and epilogue story with all the doctors working together. A year after that, we had Kashmir 2: The Destroyer of Worlds, of which I contributed a further chapter, with Kashmir 3: The Oblivion Imperative following a few years after that, with a further 3 chapters contributed by myself. I give this history by means of an introduction to those of you who were not around on the forum at the time - and there has been so much turnaround in the last few years that that is probably most of you. Anyway, Kashmir 3 wrapped up nearly three years ago, but I was left with a desire to further explore the lives of a few of the characters I had created to populate my chapters of the Kashmir Trilogy. There were a few threads that didn't quite feel tied up. For that reason, for the past two years, I have gradually been chipping away at this story. It is longer than anything I have written before - some may say too long. It does not feature the Doctor very heavily, although he is there, and the story took so long to complete that the actor playing the Doctor I used passed away before I finished writing it. The main characters of this story are characters specifically created for the Kashmir project, which as I've said before, many of you won't have read, and the events focus on a few key events of the original trilogy. I have tried to make it as accessible as I can for those who haven't read the original Kashmir Trilogy, pretty much everything that has happened before which needs to be known is explained, but I would recommend reading at least a few entries in the Kashmir series, specifically K1's 7th, 3rd and 4th doctors' chapters, in that order, K2's 3rd and 9th Doctors' Chapters, and K3's 3rd, 9th and 4th Doctor's chapters. Between those you would probably gain any information that is relevant to this series. Incidentally, the prologue of this is the end of the epilogue to the 3rd Doctor's chapter of K3. As I've said, though, it should be follow-able without reading those, but if you are interested in the additional reading, get in touch with DukeNukem 2417, he'll be able to send any parts of the original trilogy you feel like reading.

Anyway, regardless of the backstory, this story represents a lot of work, over slightly too long a period of time - 2 years is a bit excessive for writing one story, I've just had a lot of other things going on - and I am very happy with it. Hopefully some of you will feel like giving it a read, maybe a few might even read the whole thing, and that would be lovely. I'm aware that expecting many of you to read something of this length that only features the doctor in a minimal capacity, and features no other Doctor Who characters or monsters, is probably a bit of a tall order, but if anyone does want to explore this fan fiction-spinoff then I'd be very happy to hear what you think. There are 5 chapters in total, with an Epilogue by DukeNukem 2417, I intend to post around one installment every week, which means it'll all be up by the week before Christmas. The first part will be following a few minutes after this foreword, part 2 will be coming next weekend, and so forth. One installment will be either a few days early or a few days late, because I'll be away for the weekend, but it's a loose schedule. I will also include a caution that there is some mild language and occasional violence in this. Nothing crazy bad, but just something for the more sensitive reader to take note of.

With that introduction out of the way, please enjoy my biggest writing project to date: The Second Time Around
Last edited by bad geminton on Sun Nov 19, 2017 8:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Do you know who I miss? That guy with the potatoes, let's bring him back...

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bad geminton
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Re: The Second Time Around

Postby bad geminton » Sun Nov 12, 2017 11:19 am

Prologue

The glowing beacon lit up the horizon like the opening strains of the dawn. Sophie Bausch, her father Grahame, and their guests looked out of the living room window as it pierced the blackness of the night. The Doctor, Jo Grant, Captain Mike Yates and Kate Stewart gazed out attentively out to it, seeing in its radiance their immediate futures rushing toward them, almost as rapidly as the light itself. “Where’s that coming from?” Jo asked. “If my information is correct,” the Doctor replied, “Kestroth’s arena.” He turned to look at Sophie, who was looking wistfully at the beam, her thirst for adventure not fully satiated by the dramatic events of the day. “I don’t suppose there’s a bridle path going there, is there?” The Doctor asked. “Not all the way.” Sophie said, with a slight shake of the head, “but if you took the path to Jaheeb, it’s pretty much directly west from there. I could show you, if you like.” She gave a hopeful smile. The Doctor laughed, “I think I can find the way now,” he said, “follow the red posts, right? I’d say that you’ve been in quite enough danger today, young lady.” “I should think so.” Grahame agreed, “I think this should be a lesson about the dangers of getting involved in this sort of thing, it’s about time you cut the “amateur detective” hobby, wouldn’t you say Doctor?” It was apparent from the Doctor’s face that he would not. “On the contrary,” he said, “I think she has a potential future there, if she can get the training.” “Really?” Grahame asked, raising his eyebrows, “You think so?” “I do.” The Doctor smiled. “She’ll be 16 soon, I suggest you get her enrolled in the school leavers’ police training program, she has the potential to be one of the KPPF’s finest. I’ll put in a good word for her; I’m good friends with Commander Bryden. Or rather I will be. But from his point of view I already am.” The doctors floundering attempt to make sense of this contradictory tense was lost as the significance of what he was saying washed over Sophie, almost overwhelming her. She ran to embrace him in a hug, almost catching the towering man off balance. “This really means a lot to me, Doctor.” She said. “I know,” the Doctor smiled. “You just be the best you can be. Do that for me.” “Thank you Doctor, I will.” Sophie smiled. After a final exchange of farewells, Sophie and her father stepped back and watched as the Doctor and his friends headed on their way, disappearing quickly into the gloom of the night. Grahame Bausch looked down at his daughter, a thoughtful look in his eyes. “I think he’s right, you know.” He said, resting a hand on her shoulder, “If you really put your mind to it you could do something great.” Sophie held her gaze on the beacon of light for a moment longer, before looking up to meet her father’s gaze, her eyes as full of light as the beacon itself. “I’m really going to do everything I can,” she said quietly, “This chance… getting to fight crime, work towards making the world a safer place… it’s all I could have wanted. I’m going to make you proud.” She looked back out to the beacon, her voice lowering to a whisper, “I’m going to make both of you proud.”

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Do you know who I miss? That guy with the potatoes, let's bring him back...

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bad geminton
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Re: The Second Time Around

Postby bad geminton » Sun Nov 12, 2017 11:25 am

Chapter One: All I Could Have Wanted

Kashmir: a planet that had, over the course of about four years, seen more turmoil and conflict than many planets would see in a millennium. Time had been halted, rewound and rewritten, alien armadas had laid waste to entire cities and the entire planet had been briefly pulled from reality itself. These events were firmly in the past now, and three years had passed without any remarkable incident. That is not to say that nothing happened, far from it, many might argue that everyday life, the sort that passes in the absence of extreme turmoil and conflict, is the most important type of event. For the time being though, on a cosmic scale, the world was quiet, a burnt sienna orb drifting quietly through the blackness of space.

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The sun rose peacefully and gracefully over the great city of Vystral Paard, the light gleaming from the metal and glass of its towering skyscrapers. In a housing estate on the end of the city this peace was broken by an incessant electronic bleeping. Sophie Bausch rolled over in bed, swatting the snooze button on the top of her alarm before turning back to her previous position. A moment later she came to with a jolt, scrabbling with one arm out to pull the yellow plastic wristwatch from her bedside table. Squinting through sleepy eyes at the readout, she let out an exasperated sigh. “Why do we even have a 5 in the morning?” she grumbled to herself, as she hastily dressed in the black jacket and trousers of her police uniform, managing to get the necktie on the third attempt. “One 5 o’clock a day is more than enough.” She concluded as she quickly checked her appearance in the mirror. The earliness of the hour was made all the more unpalatable by the fact that the clocks had gone forwards just two days previously, and her body was still fully convinced that this was four in the morning. Still, that had been on Sunday and now it was Tuesday, so there wasn’t much she could do to change that, beyond travelling back and somehow abolishing daylight savings. Shaking this silly notion from her head, Sophie put on her watch and ran a brush through her long blonde hair. The uniform was very smart and afforded her a grown up air of responsibility that she sometimes found a bit scary if she thought too hard about it. The yellow watch that was now on her wrist was, as yet, the only concession she had managed to get towards brightening the otherwise drab attire up a little. As someone who greatly enjoyed bright colours, the black and white of her uniform was the only thing in her job she particularly disliked. Still, she reasoned, once she moved her way through to the detective side of the force she’d be able to wear what she liked, a little perk that helped keep her striving towards this goal. Satisfied that she no longer looked as though she’d just crawled out of a hedge, Sophie made her way downstairs.

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When Sophie got down to the kitchen she found her father already there, jabbing a plastic fork into the toaster to try and fish out an errant piece of bread. This had become something of a regular morning routine of late. While Sophie’s mother had still lived there she had been the one to prepare the breakfasts. By the time her mother had left, Sophie was already a year into her police training, and her younger sister Monica was away at boarding school more often than she was at home. Grahame had endeavoured, nonetheless, to make the girls breakfasts for them whenever they were at home, although the toaster still seemed to give him difficulty nearly two years later. Sophie felt rather touched and just a little guilty that her father continued to wake up before her to get the breakfast ready, even now she was an adult with a job that started far earlier than his own, and her sister was only at home during the holidays. He turned around with a smile and offered her a plate with a slightly overdone piece of toast on it, which she took with a grateful smile. She was sure with enough marmalade it would still be perfectly edible. “I’ve had another letter from Monica.” Her father said, as Sophie made herself a cup of coffee, “Got very good marks in one of her tests last week, she’s very pleased about that. She seems to still be doing well, so that’s good.” “Of course she’s doing well, dad.” Sophie laughed, “She was smart enough to get a scholarship to one of the fanciest schools in the world, I don’t think the syllabus is going to be that hard for her. She’s always been the smart one.” Her father nodded slightly sheepishly as he tucked into a bowl of cereal. “Yes, I rather think she got that from your mother.” He admitted, “Still, you’ve been doing incredibly well yourself, I’m very proud of you, you know. You’ve got a good head on your shoulders.” “And I get that from you.” Sophie said with a grin. She eyed the clock on the wall, a slightly tacky owl shaped timepiece and saw that she would have to leave very soon. She could remember when she was much younger being very amused by the eyes of the owl, which had moved from side to side as it ticked. Unfortunately over time this feature had broken, most probably at the time her sister had knocked it off the wall, putting up decorations for a party. It was strange having the house so empty these days, she had grown up with her father being mostly away on business, when he worked for the forestry company, leaving her mostly with her mother and sister. The house felt very different now without the two of them around, and Sophie wondered how it must feel for her father when he was at home by himself, during the hours when she was at work and he was not. Time was marching on now, so Sophie finished her breakfast and rose from her chair, leaning across to give her father a quick kiss on the cheek as she did so. “I’d better get going.” She said, giving a final wave as she grabbed her bag and headed out into the morning sunshine.

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By the time Sophie had reached the city centre the rest of the population seemed to have awakened and come out in force, the streets now busy and bustling. Of course this part of the city never really went to sleep, unlike the quieter suburban areas, the centre of Vystral Paard operated all day long. Sophie had time to pick up a cup of coffee and a sandwich for later from her usual street vendor before the green light on her transport disk came on allowing her to teleport up to the Kashmir Planetary Police Force Headquarters. As a junior officer, Sophie’s transport disk had a limited range and operating time. After a large amount of unlicensed use of the transport disks a few years previously, where several young officers had used their disks as free travel for holidays and other pleasure jaunts, rules were put in place that only allowed the junior officers to take limited transport disks home with them, to take them from their nearest town or city centre to the Kashmir Planetary Police Force HQ and back again. Fully functioning disks were handed out to any officer on duty, which could be useful in emergencies, and other more substantial vehicles were available for official use once they were clocked in for the day, and had to be signed in and out. The main consequence of this rule, for Sophie, was that she needed to walk a good half hour into town in the morning before getting to work. She didn’t really mind, though, it helped her to get into the right frame of mind in a way that she suspected she wouldn’t if she could just teleport straight to work from her bedroom. It also cut down the chance of her coming in to work in her pyjamas or some other state of undress which, given her brain’s reluctance to wake up and stay up in the morning, was a definite possibility.

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In a flash of blue light, Sophie was whisked from the busy street in Vystral Paard to the KPPFHQ, several hundred miles northwest and about a mile up from the surface of the planet. It was a stark difference between the two locations, the locker room that the teleport took her to being metallic grey, gloomy and claustrophobic after the wide open plaza in Vystral Paard city centre. She put her bag and her sandwich into her locker before making her way to the main briefing hall, making sure to clock in first. It was standard procedure for the junior officers of the central KPPF to be gathered for a morning briefing, where they would be filled in on the events of the previous night and assigned to whatever duties they were required for. The central planetary force had two main groups of officers, a fairly equal mix from both longitudinal sides of the planet, so that those working a night shift from the perspective of Sophie and her colleagues were still working during the day from their own point of view. It was while walking down the corridor of the main block towards the briefing hall that Sophie found her duty sergeant, a middle aged woman by the name of Drinkwater with a disposition that could either be motherly or stern depending on how you interacted with her, stepping smartly out from her office and placing a gentle hand on Sophie’s arm to halt her progress. The sergeant looked at her kindly but with concern for a moment before speaking. “I’ve had a note from Commander Bryden” she said, “he wanted to see you as soon as you got in, if you could go and see him now.” “Do you know what it’s about?” Sophie asked tentatively. In the year she had been on the force she had never been summoned to an interview with the leader of the Planetary Police Force. She felt that this was probably something to worry about. “Don’t worry, I’m sure it’s nothing serious.” Sergeant Drinkwater reassured her, as if she had read Sophie’s thoughts, “If he had any serious concerns he’d come to me with them first, so unless you’ve been doing something really reckless that you haven’t told me about it’ll probably just be a review of your performance or something of the sort” Sgt Drinkwater gave her a reassuring pat on the arm and Sophie suddenly found herself being turned around and shepherded towards the end of the corridor, where she stopped at the doors through to the stairwell that lead up to the managerial corridor. At the top of this aesthetically unimposing flight of stairs were the offices of the most important figures on the police force; Commander Donal Bryden – The overall chief of the Planetary Police Force, Detective Chief Inspector Harry Batt – Bryden’s second in command, and head of the crime detection side of the force, Hayley Mackintosh-Bryden – the commander’s wife and head of the patrol and law enforcement side of the force, as well as offices for half a dozen other senior officers and administrators for the police force. In short, it was the place where some of the planets most important decisions were made by some of the most Influential people. Sophie had only been to the top of these stairs once, and then it was only to the main office to request a replacement student card after losing her first one during her time at the police training academy. “Quickly now, we don’t want to keep the commander waiting” Sgt Drinkwater urged, a little more firmly this time, snapping Sophie from her ponderings. She pushed open the light wooden door and stepped into the grey stairwell. Her heavy boots were unusually silent on the aged linoleum that lined the steps as she made her way up, and the morning sunlight, coming in through the windows that made up the far side of the stairwell, shone frosty and grey. Coupled with the unusual silence that seemed to have fallen as she had left the stuffy corridor, Sophie was left feeling as if she was ascending through a dream. Soon enough she came to the top of the stairs and shook the fanciful thoughts from her mind as she entered the managerial corridor. It was strange to think that this area was directly above the place where she came to work every day, so close and yet almost entirely unseen in her day to day life. The corridor was slightly more luxurious, although still very utilitarian. There was a worn carpet on the floor, the walls were plastered instead of the plastic coated metal panels of the main areas, and the doors were far more widely spaced, each room having a hammered glass window into the corridor that she was cautiously walking down. It was outside one of these doors that she now stopped, waiting a moment to compose herself before knocking just loudly enough to guarantee being heard and no more. With barely a delay, a male voice, deep and authoritative, called back to her. “Come in.”

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The office of Donal Bryden was open and spacious, the desk being in as unobtrusive a position as the size and shape of the room would permit, and the blinds lifted away from the window to allow the light fully into the room. Coming in, Sophie was instructed to take a seat and looked with some consideration at the sofa that took up most of the back wall before tactfully selecting the least comfortable looking chair in the room. She had found that when dealing with authority it was always best to not appear casual if at all possible. As Sophie saw it, if the person in charge does not feel their authority is being challenged they were more likely to be reasonable. The chair Sophie had chosen looked old, and was made quite crudely from a rough plastic shape affixed to a set of crossed metal legs. It put Sophie in mind of the chairs her secondary school had had when she had first gone there, before the council had them replaced with a load of new chairs that had been specially designed to make it impossible to rock back on them. The comparison made Sophie feel a little like she was at school now, about to be reprimanded for mischief by the head teacher. Bryden’s face, however, as he looked up from the paperwork on his desk, was a reassuring one. “You needn’t look so worried.” Bryden smiled at her, “I just wanted to have a word with you about this application you’ve put in for the detective constable course. I admire your ambition, but you’ve really not been on the force for very long, do you not think perhaps you’re rushing things?” Sophie had almost forgotten about the form she’d submitted, it had been over a week ago, which in the busy life of a young police officer was more than long enough to push it far into the back of her mind. It had really been little more than a whim, after seeing the application forms in a tray beneath the notice board she had decided there couldn’t be any harm in trying. She decided now, however, if the head of the planetary police force wanted to discuss why she had submitted the form, that a better thought through justification might be needed. “Well you see, sir, it’s always been the detective side of policing that’s interested me most.” She explained, being careful to maintain a respectful tone, “And I’ve been working very hard to gain as much experience and merit on the job as I can.” Bryden nodded at this, “That’s certainly true,” he agreed, “I have your performance reports here, you were tasked with reducing the crime rates of the potato men in Jaheeb, I believe.” “Yes, that’s right” Sophie nodded enthusiastically, “they had this street stall con going on where they took three potatoes…” “Yes,” Bryden interrupted, “I’m familiar with the potato men, and I am aware that you managed, over the course of a few months, to catch almost every potato man in the city, which is no mean feat. The problem as I see it is what you did after you’d arrested the potato men. There is, constable, a very good reason why we assign new officers to deal with petty crime for their first year of service. You need to build up experience with the process of the law, and dealing with people who break it. Petty crime is a good introduction to the practical side of that, with slightly less dangerous ramifications. I’m sure you’re aware of that.” Sophie nodded silently, knowing now where this was going. “After the potato men had been rounded up,” Bryden continued, “You decided to follow up on a lead given by one of the men you had just arrested, pertaining to a major drugs ring in the city, and without checking in, reporting the lead to your duty sergeant or even just letting someone else know where you were going, you marched in and arrested the purported leader of this drugs ring. Can you see what the problem is here?” “In fairness, sir,” Sophie ventured, “It turned out that he was the leader of the drugs ring, so we got the right man.” Bryden looked a little exasperated at this, “That, Miss Bausch, is beside the point. You went in under-experienced, and without backup into the den of a violent and dangerous criminal to arrest him. I ran into him once, back when he was a minor player on the Jaheeb crime scene, he’s taller than me and built like a house. You only managed to come out of that in one piece because he was too shocked at the idea of a young slip of a girl coming in to arrest him to put up any sort of resistance. Next time you won’t be so lucky, believe me.” “Does this mean I’m being officially reprimanded?” Sophie asked with some trepidation. Bryden sighed. “No, no you’re not; consider this a friendly warning, off the record. Look, I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but under normal circumstances you wouldn’t have gotten into the police training academy as soon as you did. The policy had been strictly sixteen and up and you were, I believe, a month and a half short of that when your first term started. Usually we’d have made you wait until the following year, but I had received a glowing character reference some months previously from a very close friend of mine, whose opinion I value greatly. It was because of that that we overlooked the age discrepancy and let you into the class early. Now don’t get me wrong, you more than proved yourself worthy of the place in the academy, you were one of the best students the program has seen, but I rather fear that being younger than your fellow officers has set you up with higher expectations to meet than most. You were the youngest student in the history of the Academy, you graduated onto the force when you were seventeen, which made you the youngest officer in over fifty years, you’ve been with us a year now and you’re not even nineteen yet.” It must have been clear from Sophie’s face that she had lost track of where this conversation was going, because Bryden awkwardly shuffled some papers on his desk and tried a different track, “As I see it you are a conscientious and able officer,” he said, “you have enthusiasm and ambition, but you need to temper it with an understanding of your own limits. You need to know when to ask for help, and when a situation is too dangerous. I see your father at a lot of official events in Vystral Paard, you know, I rather suspect that things would become very unpleasant between us if anything were to happen to you.” Sophie shuffled uncomfortably in her seat at the idea. “With that in mind,” Bryden concluded, “I am willing to give you the opportunity to demonstrate your ability in detective work, within a relatively controlled and educational environment. As such, I have been in touch with Chief Inspector Maertitch over at the Velhadrogahn police division, he’s agreed for you to be transferred to there for the next month to shadow Detective Sergeant 1-Demi. This is on the understanding that she will be your supervisor, mentor and commanding officer, so whatever she tells you to do you do, and you don’t go off on your own little adventures without her approval. She’s one of the best officers I’ve worked with, so I want you on your best behaviour, is that clear?” “Oh yes sir, thank you very much sir!” Sophie had to resist the urge to jump from her seat and give the Commander a hug. This had been more than she could possibly have hoped for. “I won’t let you down, sir.” She promised. “Good,” Bryden smiled, “and if DS Demi gives you a good report then I will consider your application for the Detective Constable training program. That’ll be all for now, Constable, leave the door open on the way out.”

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Sophie bounded down the steps in a state of great anticipation. She had never been to Velhadrogahn, and the idea of helping with detective work there was like a dream. Her duty sergeant had a folder of paperwork and details waiting for her when she got back to the staff room. She was to spend the rest of the day completing any outstanding work, and passing any unresolved incidents on to the necessary people and then pack a suitcase when she got home, with a view to travel on the interplanetary jet bus to Velhadrogahn the following morning. Life, it seemed, had never been so exciting.

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Constable Bausch had not long since left Bryden’s office when a head of bushy brown hair poked itself in through the door. It was the unmistakable moustached face of his second in command Detective Chief Inspector Harry Batt. “Here, Donal, man, are you free now? “ he asked, entering the office and placing a pile of papers down on Bryden’s desk, “Only I was wondering if we could go through this prisoner release report, they’re wanting our opinion on how likely this bloke is to reoffend, and I cannae get my head around it, like.” “I don’t have anything pressing to do right now, Harry, what’s the story with this one? They don’t send these up to us very often.” “No, I only get them if the original arresting officer is unavailable, we’ve hit an awkward period where the longer term prisoner sentences are running out, we’ve had so many staff changes the past six years, pretty much anyone who’s been in longer than that are getting sent for me to review. This one was taken in eight years back, for armed robbery of a convenience store, very violent incident, very messy.” “So what happened to the arresting officer in this case?” Bryden asked. “That would be PC Brakosniev,” Batt replied, “He was killed in the first Dalek attack, just before you started. He was a good lad, I had him on my force in Vystral Paard for a while back in the day, he was about the only straight officer I ever had. I think he started out in Velhadrogahn, the training centre there seemed to produce more decent lads than most at that time.” Bryden acknowledged this simply with a nod, the idea that for all the corruption that was in the force at that time, one of the few honest officers should be killed in such a brutal and unnecessary manner was very upsetting, even after all this time. “Well seeing as neither of us was working directly for the KPPF when this chap was arrested,” he responded at last, “I suggest we look at our report objectively. A violent robber is just a desperate and scared man who’s managed to arm himself. There are three ways to solve that, you can keep him locked away forever out of the way, you can put a lot of effort into making sure he can’t get access to any weapons, or you can try and fix things so that he doesn’t feel scared or desperate anymore. Personally I favour the latter, but the prison system will know for themselves how effectively they can provide any of those solutions. If they think they’ve rehabilitated him then by all means they should let him out. If they haven’t managed to, after all this time, then he’s either a very bad egg or they need to seriously re-evaluate their prison system.” Harry Batt had been hastily jotting this down on a little notepad. “Thanks, man, I’ll put that on the form then.” He smiled. “I’d better get to work on that now, the paperwork builds up that quickly you need to get it done as soon as you have it or you get proper swamped like.” Batt moved to leave the room. “Oh, by the way, Harry,” Bryden called after him. Batt paused in the doorway. “I’ve been speaking to Hayley, and we’d both really like for you to be our son’s godfather.” Batt’s face lit up, “Of course, Donal, I’d be honoured man, when are you expecting him? Can’t be long now.” “Just a few weeks.” Bryden smiled. “It’s a shame I never see the Doctor any more, he’d have liked to have heard, I’m sure.” “I haven’t seen anything of him in years.” Batt agreed, “Not since your wedding.” “I was surprised he made it to that, to be honest.” Bryden Smiled wistfully, “Or, indeed she, as was the case on that particular occasion. Given that I’d been told the Doctor wasn’t coming back to Kashmir after that last mess, I wouldn’t have known it was her if she hadn’t announced herself.” “Aye, and that invitation looked like a bloomin antique” Batt agreed, “I think she must have left it a pretty long time before coming.” “I suppose that’s one of the quirks of being friends with a shape shifting time traveller,” Bryden mused. “But I was just happy she made it there, it didn’t really matter to me what face she decided to wear…”

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Sophie gave a yawn as she tried to fight the urge to fall asleep, eating a handful of crisps to try and boost up her energy levels. Sitting on a two day bus ride didn’t really afford much else to do besides snoozing, but Sophie had always thought that sleeping on public transport had an awfully unflattering effect on people, and she was just a bit too self-conscious to want to pull sleeping faces in front of a busload of strangers. The bus would be pulling over for the night at a somewhat pretentiously named “sleeping station” in another… she checked her watch, the bright yellow plastic hurting her tired eyes… another ten hours. She had stayed in a similar establishment the previous summer, just after her graduation, on a celebratory holiday to Widja-Zuzu, and had been less than impressed at having to spend the night sleeping in what was barely larger than a coffin. It was more a storage facility for sleeping people than it was a hotel. Still, it was better than sleeping on the bus. It was a little after mid-day now, seven hours into the journey. She’d had to get up even earlier than she usually did for work, and the lengthy nothingness of the bus journey was not making her feel any more wide awake. Her father had been as excited about her placement as she had been, although he was sad at the prospect of not seeing Sophie for the next month. It would be the first time he’d have a house to himself, without any of the rest of the family there since he had last been away on work placement with the Forestry Commission. Sophie had secretly phoned her sister on the journey out, suggesting she take a weekend at home at some point during the next month to make sure he was managing fine and hadn’t somehow set the house on fire. Sophie checked her watch again. It was only 5 minutes since she had last checked. She sighed in defeat and turned herself into a more comfortable position, to hopefully sleep in as dignified a manner as she could.

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Sophie’s Bus arrived the following night. Due to damage to a bridge just before Velhadrogahn, they had ended up taking a sizable detour at the end, leaving them two hours late in arriving. Sophie, feeling exhausted, had made it to the police accommodation building, picked up her key from the night porter and stumbled to her allotted room on the first floor just and no more before dropping off to sleep, fully clothed, in the welcomingly comfortable bed. The following morning she had officially checked in at the main police headquarters next door. She had not had a very good look at the building the previous night, what with the darkness and her sleep deprived brain only taking in the most essential of information. Seeing it now, however, in the full light of day, it was one of the most impressive edifices she had seen. It towered above her in a monolithic structure, the stonework intricate and complex, clearly being very old. To either side, modern metal and glass constructed wings spread the building widthways, designed in a sympathetic manner so as to compliment the old tower at the centre, rather than swallowing it up. Inside, at the main desk of the entrance hallway, Sophie had handed her credentials to the receptionist, who had instructed one of his assistants to take Sophie round to DS Demi’s office. Since being assigned this placement, Sophie had been nervous about meeting Detective Sergeant Demi, also known as Officer 1 Demi or 01D. The detective Sergeant was one of the first two female androids on the force, after the sweeping reforms Donal Bryden had made in his first year in command. She, much like Sophie, had had a lot to live up to and had proven herself admirably, rising rapidly through the ranks and getting a permanent posting on the Velhadrogahn force. Sophie had never met the android officer, but knew her from reputation and very much looked up to her. The idea of meeting someone who had, in the past six years, essentially done exactly what Sophie intended to do filled her with a mixture of excitement and anxiety. She knew that if she did not meet with the Detective Sergeant’s approval it would be a crushing blow for her, both professionally and personally. The assistant receptionist stopped at the door to one of the small offices on the corridor and knocked. After a moment a friendly sounding female voice, with just a slight mechanical undertone asked her to come in.

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Sophie found herself sitting in a room remarkably similar to the office of Commander Donal Bryden. “I hope your journey here was a pleasant one.” Detective Sergeant Demi asked, with a friendly smile. “It was ok,” Sophie nodded, “a little bit too long, I was very tired by the time I got here.” “That is to be expected, I’m afraid, your home town is a very long way away.” The Detective Sergeant said sympathetically. “Still, you seem to have had a good night’s sleep, you are looking very alert and well rested. If you don’t mind I’d like to run you through the details of your placement.” Officer 1 Demi was not really what Sophie had expected. She looked very young, for one thing, and had the sort of looks one might expect of a movie star. As she went over the work placement details, essentially the same information Commander Bryden had given three days previously, Sophie found that there was something about 01D’s manner of speaking that was slightly unusual. It wasn’t so much the metallic undertone to the voice, because that was immediately noticeable, rather there was something harder to pin down. Everything Demi said came across as being stated fact. There was no uncertainty in what she said, no ifs or maybe. She spoke in a way that made it seem as if the words had been specifically chosen as the most suited to the situation. In fact Sophie imagined that if a situation came up that did perplex or confuse DS Demi, she would convey this in a very matter of fact way too. She put Sophie in mind of a boy in her class at school some years ago who had had Asperger’s Syndrome. The effect was not a strange one per say, it was more a sensation that DS Demi saw and interpreted the world around her in a very different way. After the more formal introduction was over, Demi took Sophie on a brief tour of the station, talking now in a less formal manner as they went. “How did you find the training program?” She asked, as they passed through the staff canteen. “It was very interesting,” Sophie replied, “We got basic training in police procedure and a sort of general education in language and maths and science, all those sorts of things. I had a lot of fun, I made quite a few friends. I was in the drama club, too, that was pretty nice.” The Detective Sergeant seemed interested in this. “The School leaver program hadn’t been set up when I trained; I suppose if it had I still wouldn’t have been eligible. The adult recruitment program is certainly adequate but I thought the training academy was an excellent idea when I heard they were bringing it back. I think, with organic lifeforms at least, the earlier you introduce ideas and concepts the better. A school leaver program allows the Force to find the best of those who are interested in policing at a young age and let them hone their skills as early as possible.” “I think you took tutorials in detective work for a while at the academy, didn’t you?” Sophie asked conversationally. The Android DS nodded, “Yes, I don’t think you were in the class I took, it was a second year course, I believe you would have been in first year when I took it. It was a required part of the promotion to detective sergeant, the KPPF like to have their officers versed in as broad a spectrum of expertise as possible, so teaching experience is needed for the DS program. You hope to enter the detective side yourself, I hear.” “Yes.” Sophie replied. Demi gave a nod, “you will end up doing some teaching work yourself eventually, in that case, something similar to what I was doing at the academy.” “I heard you were very good at it,” Sophie said, “our detective studies tutor wasn’t very interested in the class, the lecturer said he wished he still had you around.” The Detective Sergeant smiled at this, “Unfortunately, after I had had my promotion I found myself too busy with work to keep up the teaching role. I enjoyed it a lot, though, I suspect that is why I have been given the job of supervising your placement here, it is a chance to revisit my time as a teacher.”

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The tour continued in much the same way. It took most of the morning to see the entire station; Sophie had thus far worked from the police stations in Jaheeb and Vystral Paard and they had nowhere near the sort of size of building Velhadrogahn had. She could see now why it was known as the great city. Detective Sergeant Demi had turned out to be surprisingly easy to get on with, which Sophie was happy about. Although the Detective Sergeant had the necessary air of command she managed to come across as very friendly and genuinely interested in Sophie’s experiences on the force so far. Sophie had even found the time to ask her new mentor about the Velhadrogahn Police Department uniforms, which she had noted with a hint of envy were a rather more interesting blue shade than her own black uniform. DS Demi had had to admit that the reasons for this regional variation were unknown to her, as it was not something that she had ever given much thought to. Sophie made a mental note to put something in the suggestions box once she had returned to the KPPF HQ after her placement had ended. Although she was aware that she would be able to wear her own clothes if and when she made it to Detective Inspector, that was not going to be at any time in the foreseeable future, and Sophie would be the first to admit that she had a bit of a weak spot when it came to colourful clothing. The guided tour ended at the building’s Detective Investigation Department central control room, where Sophie found herself rather abruptly thrust into the action as her android mentor began darting around the room, checking sheets of freshly printed paper and speaking to various telephone operators. “I am sorry for the sudden start, constable,” she said with an apologetic smile, “but it seems things have moved rather quicker than I had anticipated on my current case. We are going to have to get out into the field a little earlier than I was intending. Are you going to be ok with visiting an active crime scene?” Sophie nodded, trying not to appear too nervous. “I have to start somewhere,” she reasoned, “There’s no time like the present.”

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In the cruiser, on route to the crime scene, DS Demi filled Sophie in on the case she was working on. “It all started about six months ago,” she began, “we were finding a lot of the local criminals killed in suspicious circumstances. Of course had it just been one or two we would have assumed they had crossed the wrong person, made one mistake too many for their employer. Cases like that can go cold very quickly. But the number of these deaths was great enough that we had to press the matter. It had all the signs of someone pushing their way to the top of the pile, a new crime lord in the making.” “I heard there was a big underground crime community here,” Sophie said, “like there was in Vystral Paard when I was younger. Do you think it’s someone working from there?” “We did to start with.” The Detective Sergeant explained, “But we’d made big steps in recent years in reducing their strength, and the mood of the underground seems very uneasy, very uncertain. We’re thinking now that it’s an outsider, come to the city to capitalise on the decline of the underground community. We had an extensive raid on the safety deposit storage facility two weeks ago. It was carefully planned and meticulously carried out. Eight Billion credits worth of Azbantium and Diamonds were stolen, and every guard on duty at the facility killed in a very vicious manner. Since then we have been following several leads and they all seem to be leading us toward a small privately owned lock-up on the west end of the city.” “And that’s where we’re going now?” Sophie asked. “Precisely.”, the android DS replied stoically.

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Were it not for the police cordon that was being set up as the cruiser pulled up on the scene, the lock-up would have been a singularly unimportant looking place. Built into the arch of a railway viaduct, it was a little larger than the average garage, but far smaller than any sort of warehouse. A VPD officer, wearing gloves, was carefully prying the lock from the insubstantial wooden door as Sophie and DS Demi approached. Once inside, there were several things that struck Sophie; firstly, the feeling of excitement she had expected from her first proper crime scene was entirely absent, its place being taken by one of unease. This was largely due to the two other things that were jumping out from her first glance at the inside of the lock-up. The small confined space was surprisingly cold, far colder than a small brick enclosure ought to be on as sunny a day as it was. The most unsettling thing, however, was the contents of the space she found herself in. She had not been entirely sure what she had expected to find in the lock-up, but most likely it would have been a general detritus of car parts, other mechanical odds and ends, perhaps some dusty boxes of forgotten trinkets. If they had been really lucky it would have been full of holdalls containing stolen diamonds, with an unresisting criminal hiding amongst them, ready to admit defeat and come with them quietly. The latter, of course was highly unlikely and even Sophie, green though she was, knew that. It would, however, still have been a more expected sight than the one that actually met them. The lock-up was almost completely empty. Most of the space was shrouded with darkness, but it was an open sort of darkness, hiding no secrets from eyes adjusting to the change in lighting. In the centre of the room was an old television set, screaming silent static, and casting the only light besides that which seeped in from the doorway behind them. In front of the television was a chair, a rather dated egg-shaped swivel chair upholstered in a faded green fabric. Even from the door, Sophie could see that the chair was occupied, and that the occupant was sitting far too still. It only took Sophie a few moments to take this all in, but in that time her mentor had strode across the room and was inspecting the body. Sophie tentatively made her way over to join her. Sophie had seen death before, even before her police training had begun, when she had been barely more than a child, but the sight of it still distressed her. This unfortunate man appeared to have been strangled, attested to by the cable from the television, which wound its way tightly around his neck several times before disappearing into the darkness where it was no-doubt plugged into a power point. The effect was undone, however, by a dark wound in the man’s abdomen. From the quantity of blood resent, it was evident that the stab wound had killed him, with the cable added afterwards for effect. “I have arrested this man before.” Demi observed drily, “Gordon Colquhoun, he carried out some of the most outlandish heists of the last few decades before a lengthy prison spell. Not much more than a petty criminal after his release. Whoever was behind this obviously wanted an expert for the diamond job. A disposable expert.” Turning her head away, Sophie’s attention was suddenly caught by a bright green post-it note affixed to the corner of the television screen. Leaning in carefully so as to avoid touching either the television set or the note, she peered through the gloomy light to make out what it said. “Better luck next time” she read out. “What sort of person would do something like this?” she asked Demi. “We have no doubt about that, constable,” the Detective Sergeant replied, “We are dealing with a maniac here.” As the android DS inspected the body, there was a flare of inner light from behind her eyes. “This body is still quite warm…” she surmised, “His killer must still be very near.” The Detective Sergeant was suddenly more alert, and as officers began to fill the room with torchlight she motioned for silence. The sound of an engine no more than two streets away roared into life, before disappearing in a screech of tires. “Get city surveillance!” DS Demi ordered briskly, “that was a ground vehicle, an old one from the sound of it, leaving southwards from Mansfield Crescent. I want it traced and tracked by the time I get to the cruiser and I do not want any diversions until we have stopped it and apprehended its occupant.” She turned on her heel and made for the door, Sophie scuttling to keep up. “Be in no doubt, officers,” Demi concluded as they exited the lock-up, “the driver of that vehicle is the criminal we are looking for.”

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The ensuing cruiser ride had been far more intense, fast and solemn in atmosphere than the one to the lock up. It was immediately clear to Sophie from this situation why an android could do as well in the police force as Detective Sergeant Demi had done; the android officer interfaced seamlessly between the constant stream of updates on the movements of the vehicle below, and the operation of the cruiser. It was all the accompanying cruisers could do to keep up as Demi navigated the perfect route for the shortest intercept distance. Sophie watched from her seat in amazement as, seemingly from nowhere, a battered old sports car shot across an intersection beneath them, the Detective sergeant turning the Cruiser almost on the spot and shooting down the road after the rogue vehicle. Although the driver should surely by now have spotted the increasing swarm of police cruisers pursuing it, they showed no sign of slowing down; continuing to dart precariously around the tall buildings of the city’s south side, the high obstacles negating any real advantage that the flying police cruisers might have over the road vehicle. Were it to leave the high rise district and break away through the suburban outer belt of the city the cruisers would very quickly be able to outmanoeuvre it, however the thought of such reckless driving as this fugitive was displaying, through a quiet street filled with civilians and children, made this prospect widely unappealing. To Sophie’s surprise, from her high vantage point, she saw the car skid to a halt at the end of the long boulevard, next to one of the taller buildings in the area. As the police convoy closed in, a huddled figure emerged from the car and dashed across the short distance into the building. From the fleeting glimpse they got of him he appeared to be male, stocky but not especially tall. The man’s face was obscured by the hood of a grey hoodie, so there was no way to tell how old he was, but he moved quickly, and as the cruisers gathered around the abandoned car they could see that the door he had entered through was a heavy duty security door, and had been forced open. They had seen from the lock-up that this man was dangerously unhinged, but it was now quite apparent that he was also in possession of a dangerous physical strength. Detective Sergeant Demi rapidly assigned tasks to the officers. “Cruisers seven, eight and ten make a cordon around the building,” she instructed, “cover every exit. I want cruiser three to cover every floor, search for the fugitive, and seal off every room once it’s cleared. From the look of it, he is going up. I am going to follow and apprehend him.” One of the officers looked set to argue this point, but the Detective Sergeant cut him off. “This is not up for debate, Sergeant Blake,” she said, “As an android I am more resistant to injury and can recover more rapidly. You, along with the rest of cruiser four and cruiser five will follow close behind, to provide backup as soon as it is required.” She looked intently at a dark window part way up the building, “I believe he is headed for the roof.”

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The elevator doors slid open silently on the top floor of the building. The office block was, at that moment, closed for refurbishments, so there were no civilians to evacuate, or potentially lose the criminal among. Detective Sergeant Demi had calculated that the elevator would get them up to the top before their quarry could finish climbing the stairs, giving them the element of surprise. Having not been given any instructions to the contrary, Sophie had gone up in the lift with her mentor. The backup had been instructed to follow up the stairs, to cut off the criminal’s route, should he choose to double back on himself. Sophie could not for the life of her think what he would want to go to the top of a building for, if he was trying to evade capture, but the idea of a desperate and violent criminal cornered on a rooftop made her nervous. She was determined to keep calm for her new mentor, however, and show that she could be brave and reliable in dangerous situations. The last stretch of stairwell, needed to get from the top floor to the roof, was cold and harshly lit by a single bulb and, stepping out onto the roof, the sudden increase of light was almost blinding. The air up here had a strange taste of ozone, and Sophie wondered in the back of her mind if there was a thunderstorm on its way. DS Demi did not seem affected by any of this, moving swiftly behind the stairway opening to wait for their fugitive to arrive. She motioned for Sophie to join her. “When he comes out, I want you to stay back here, Constable Bausch. Ideally you shouldn’t be up here with me, but there was not sufficient time to reassign you. You are to remain here unless otherwise instructed, is that understood?” “Yes Sergeant.” Sophie nodded. At that moment the door to the stairs burst open and the grey hooded figure strode out onto the roof with a confident swagger. “Come on then, officer, I know you’re out here, show yourself!” he bellowed. The android DS stepped from the shadow of the stairwell. “Sir, you are under arrest for the murder of Gordon Colquhoun, orchestration of the heist on the safety deposit storage facility, with further charges pending an investigation on your involvement in a recent spate of linked crimes.” “Oh, I don’t think so, love.” The man smiled “Much as I’d love to come back with you, maybe a few drinks, see where the evening takes us, I don’t feel like we’ve been properly introduced.” The man pulled off his hood, revealing a surprisingly youthful face- he was probably in his late twenties or early thirties- with a livid scar running under his left eye. “The name’s Roberts,” he announced, as he expected applause for this revelation, “You can call me Buck or, if you like, Mr Future Overlord of Velhadrogahn. Hey, why not overlord of Kashmir, no harm in dreaming big, right?” “Mr Roberts,” Demi persisted, unaffected by the man’s bravado, “You are under arrest. You will accompany me to the station. You will not resist.” “Well that’s the bluntest offer I’ve had all week.” Roberts smirked lecherously, “But here’s thing… I own the criminal underworld of this city. It’s not taken me long to get where I am. Give me a year and I’ll be running your police force too. So seeing as I’m going to be your boss in a little while, it’s probably not appropriate for us to get too intimate, eh sweetheart?” DS Demi ignored this and advanced on Roberts, pulling the handcuffs from the clip on her belt. “Please do not resist, Mr Roberts.” “Oh yes, very kinky, but I think I’ll have to pass.” Robert’s said, suddenly grabbing Demi’s arm, twisting it around with incredible strength and pulling her towards him. “Alright, Junior, out you come!” he shouted towards the doorway, where Sophie had been watching and waiting throughout this exchange. She had not been aware that he had seen her. “Is that really all you’ve brought up with you?” He asked Demi mockingly, “The work experience kid? Never mind, here’s how this is going to go down,” he turned to address Sophie again, as she stepped out from the shadows. “I want you to get on your little police radio and tell your station to send one of those nice police cruisers up here. It’s nothing personal, but I’m getting rather tired of hanging around up here with you two, you’re cramping my style. And those cruisers are really nice, every self-respecting criminal should get one. Come on then, chop chop!” Sophie looked to her supervisor for instruction, but the Detective Sergeant shook her head. “Leave the radio alone, constable.” She said, before twisting to look her assailant in the eye, “We do not negotiate with terrorists, Mr Roberts, and we do not just give out police cruisers to any hostage taker that wants one.” Roberts scowled at this. “Yes, I think we can dispense with your services, darling, let’s just keep this between me and Barbie here…” apparently from nowhere, Roberts produced a long pointed steel blade and drove it into Demi’s abdomen. Releasing her from his grip, he evidently expected her to drop dead at his feet, but to his clear astonishment, she merely staggered backwards from him, pulling the blade out amidst a shower of sparks. “You’re an android?” he said the word as if it were a slur, “They let androids run their police operations? That’s obscene, that is, that really turns my stomach. What gives a mindless machine like you the right to decide what real people like me should be doing? I was hitting on you too, I feel dirty…” Ignoring this rather bigoted tirade, the Detective Sergeant slid the knife away across the surface of the roof towards Sophie. “Constable Bausch, bag that as evidence,” She instructed, the slightest hint of waver creeping into her voice, “As for you… Buck, you are under arrest.” The next few moments passed almost as if in slow motion. As Sophie picked up the knife from her feet she fumbled and almost dropped it. Detective Sergeant Demi turned as the glint of the falling blade caught her eye and Sophie lifted it up to show that she had caught it. Suddenly, from the sky, a pulsing purple light arced into the knife, bursting into a glowing nova that engulfed the rooftop with a sound like a thunderclap. Within the smallest fraction of an instant, the world around Sophie was ripped apart in an implosion of reality.

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TO BE CONTINUED
Do you know who I miss? That guy with the potatoes, let's bring him back...

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DukeNukem 2417
Posts: 189
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2016 1:05 pm

Re: The Second Time Around

Postby DukeNukem 2417 » Sun Nov 12, 2017 5:19 pm

VERY nice! Well worth the wait, and a brilliant start to this spinoff. Can't wait for the rest. 8-)

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bad geminton
Posts: 244
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2016 1:40 pm

Re: The Second Time Around

Postby bad geminton » Sun Nov 19, 2017 8:31 pm

Chapter Two: Yesterday never comes

Sophie opened one tentative eye to find herself lying on the damp surface of the high rise buildings flat roof. Her right arm was spread out in front of her, Roberts’ knife resting a few inches from her outstretched fingers. She realised with some alarm that she could not feel any sensation in her arm, and hastily sat up to massage some life back into it. Looking around, as the feeling returned to her arm, she was able to take in the scene around her; from the flash that had hit them she had assumed some sort of explosive had detonated, or perhaps a large energy weapon had discharged. The rooftop area, however, appeared entirely undamaged, and DS Demi, although now looking decidedly unsteady, was still facing off against Roberts. Roberts, on the other hand, was looking decidedly spooked, and was backing his way towards the exit. As he passed, he caught Sophie off guard, pushing her to the floor and grabbing his knife from the ground next to her. There was a wild look in his eyes as he took a defensive stance in front of the exit. “That was all very impressive, ladies, I’m sure you put a lot of work into your freaky little light-show, but I don’t think that’s going to be enough to keep me here, so if you don’t mind…” Roberts was cut off as the doors behind him were flung open, and an officer that Sophie did not recognise burst through. “Everyone keep your hands where I can see them!” the new arrival – a young man – instructed. “Constable, you will stand down.” DS Demi replied calmly, “The situation is under control.” Before the young constable could respond, however, Roberts spun around, plunging his knife deep into his chest, causing the younger man to crumple to the ground. Without even a backwards glance, Roberts stepped over the body and disappeared down the stairs. Sophie ran to the aid of the young constable, trying to stem the bleeding somehow. The young man was unresponsive, however, and Sophie began to realise with a sinking dread that he was not going to make it. There’s nothing you can do, constable,” DS Demi said from behind her, “he’s already dead.” Sophie turned to face her mentor, but found the Android Detective Sergeant swaying on her feet. Before Sophie could ask her what the matter was, the DS collapsed to the floor. Sophie scrambled across the rough surface of the rooftop to help her. “What’s happening?” she asked, confused and concerned by her supervisor’s sudden deterioration. “Roberts’ knife has damaged some of my circuitry.” Demi replied, her voice far more robotic and modulated than before. “He hasn’t damaged anything vital, fortunately he was unaware that I was an android, a few inches to the right and he would have caused an irreparable systems failure. I can bypass the affected circuitry for now, until it can be replaced, but I’ll need something sharp to access the damaged area.” Demi’s eyes darted meaningfully towards the fallen body of the dead constable. Sophie felt slightly nauseous as she realised what her Sergeant wanted her to do. “Isn’t there anything else we can use?” she asked hesitantly. Demi shook her head “We don’t have time to argue, constable” she said. Sophie got up and walked to the body cautiously. Looking away as she did so, she tentatively outstretched a hand and removed the knife from the dead officer’s abdomen. After hastily passing the knife to the Android DS, Sophie crossed the rooftop, not wanting to watch her mentor’s self-operation, and looked out across the city, feeling a little bit faint. After a moment or two, a rather important thought occurred to her; she pulled out her radio and pressed the call button. “Hello, is that headquarters?” she asked, receiving no reply. She tried adjusting the dial “Hello? Headquarters? Cruiser seven patrol? Can anyone hear me?” There was not even a hiss of static from the little radio; it seemed to be entirely inoperable. Sophie turned back to her Sergeant, who seemed to be finished with her repairs for now and was looking around her. “Is your radio working?” Sophie asked her, “Mine seems to be broken.” The Detective Sergeant took out her own radio and switched it on; once again nothing happened. “Maybe we should try his one?” Sophie suggested, crossing to the fallen body once more and unclipping the radio, still feeling uneasy about doing so. When she pressed the call button, the little radio hissed into life. “Hello, officer 238, what is the nature of your call?” a voice crackled out of the speaker. Sophie was about to explain their predicament, when DS Demi, now back on her feet, knocked the radio from Sophie’s hand. “What did you do that for?” Sophie asked, confused. “Look around you.” The Detective Sergeant replied, “This is not right. I was not paying attention before, my systems were compromised, but now that I can see clearly… can you not see it?” Sophie looked around at the rooftop, but it all looked much the same to her as it had from the start. “The rooftop area was more weathered before, there was moss growing on the underside of that overhang.” The Detective Sergeant explained. “The flagstones in that corner were cracked, the paint on the door was a less vibrant shade of red… And this officer,” she pointed to the dead man by the doorway, “I know every member of the Velhadrogahn Police Department, I have never seen this man in my life. Even his radio is an outdated design. The only conclusion that I can draw from the evidence available is that, somehow, we have been displaced in time by approximately nine years.” “But that’s impossible… isn’t it?” Sophie asked. “I am not an expert on temporal physics.” Demi admitted, “But I would think that that flash of energy we experienced just before Roberts escaped was indicative of some sort of time fluctuation. The issue now is not one of what is happening, but what we are to do now.” “Surely we need to go out and capture Roberts?” Sophie answered, “I mean we needed to arrest him anyway, but it’s more important now than ever, if we have him running about in the past anything could happen.” “It is not as simple as that, constable.” The Detective Sergeant replied, “We have no authority here. Sophie Bausch is nine years old and O1D hasn’t even been constructed yet. We cannot make an arrest because in the world we have been sent back to, we’re not police officers yet.” Sophie nodded at this, grasping the general idea of what her Sergeant was trying to tell her, even if the more complex aspects of their predicament were somewhat beyond her grasp. “So what do we do?” Sophie asked at last. Demi appeared to give this a great deal of thought before replying. “KPPF protocols regarding officers stuck outside of their jurisdiction are quite thin,” she explained, “and are only really intended to apply to off world chases that pass out of Kashmiran territories. Nonetheless, the basic premise is the same; we are to return to our headquarters with the utmost speed to re-evaluate the situation and if need be arrange for an extradition, all while taking due care not to break any native laws.” Sophie gave a sigh and shook her head, “That’s all fine,” she said, “but we have no idea how to get home, we’re stuck here.” She looked at the radio that Demi had knocked from her hand, which now lay cracked on the ground “And now that I’ve called headquarters on the radio, they’ll almost certainly send someone over to investigate. They’ll find the body, what are we going to do about that?” Detective Sergeant Demi glared impassively at Sophie for a moment, as if waiting to see if she had any further questions. “The police will probably be here soon.” She replied at last, “I think we should co-operate, and tell them what we saw, in terms of the murder of this unfortunate officer. I think it would be best, though, to omit any mention of where we came from. Stories about time traveling police officers from the past are not going to be easily believed, and would be almost impossible to prove. But as long as we can give a thorough description of Roberts, they should be able to track him down themselves, stop him from causing any more damage. As for getting back, that may take longer. If we look into the anomaly that brought us here, do some research to find out if it is something that has happened before; we may be able to determine if a similar event could take us back. I’m aware that that is a bit of a long shot. However, we have a more reliable, if slightly more long term, back-up option. You are aware, I am sure, of the incidents involving the visits our world has had from the Timelord known as the Doctor, a few years ago?” “Of course I am!” Sophie replied indignantly, leaving out the fact that she herself had met the Doctor on his last visit. “Well that is now a just a few years into the future.” Demi explained, “In three years from now, the Doctor will arrive on Kashmir in search of the Dagger of Time. Should we fail to find a way back by then, we shall have to make ourselves known to the Doctor at that point, explain our predicament and request transit back to our own time.” “Three years?” Sophie repeated, in an incredulous tone, “What are we supposed to do for three years stuck in the past? I can’t just go home, I know for a fact that I didn’t have an older version of myself living with me when I was little, I’d definitely have remembered that. We’d need to find somewhere to live, get jobs, we’d need whole new identities…” “That’s enough, constable,” The Detective sergeant interrupted, “getting worked up isn’t going to get us anywhere.” “I’m sorry, sergeant,” Sophie said, looking reproachful, “I didn’t mean to speak out of turn.” “Not at all,” Demi said, her face softening, “In fact, really, when you think about it, while we are outwith of our own time period I have no real authority over you, I should not be giving you instructions, that was wrong of me” “If we’re going to get home again,” Sophie said, “and if we’re going to survive our time in the past, then we’ll have to work together. If not as Sergeant and constable then perhaps as friends?” she extended an arm to the android, giving her a warm smile, “Hello, my name is Sophie.” She said cheerily. “Demi.” The Detective Sergeant said, shaking Sophie’s hand, “Nice to meet you.” “I’d assumed Demi was your surname.” Sophie said pensively. “It is my only name.” Demi told her, slightly bemused. “Well, it’s a very nice name.” Sophie smiled. “Thank you.” Demi replied, before looking out into the streets far below them. “Now I wonder how long the police will take to show up…”

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As it transpired, it did not take very long at all for the police to arrive. For Sophie, being on the receiving end of law enforcement came as something of a surreal experience. Growing up, she had known several of her classmates who had been arrested for various minor misdemeanours, but she had always kept her behaviour inside the law; knowing as she did from an early age that she wanted to pursue a career with the police, she had not wanted to do anything that would harm her chances of getting accepted onto the force. Procedurally, the process was not quite as it was in her own time; once the police got there, very little dialogue was exchanged. Sophie and Demi were patted down to check for any concealed weapons – both had been carrying standard issue stun blasters which were both confiscated, much to Sophie’s increasing concern as to how this might affect the course of history. After this, the two were wordlessly marched down the stairs, noticing on the way that the office building was at this point fully occupied and in use. After a long trek to the ground floor, they were bundled into a police cruiser, the body of the dead constable being bagged and stowed into the back of a second, slightly larger vehicle. “I’m going to have to refer this straight to the top, ladies.” The arresting officer informed them, with an unpleasant grin, “Found at the scene of the crime with a dead officer and murder weapon, one of you covered in blood, doesn’t look too good, does it? The boss is going to want to talk to you.” The journey to the KPPF headquarters commenced, the passengers of the cruiser sitting in an uncomfortable silence for quite some time. Eventually, Sophie asked Demi, in a hushed whisper, “I don’t suppose it’s going to be Commander Bryden he’s taking us to see?” she asked, not feeling too optimistic. “No,” Demi confirmed, “At this point in history Donal Bryden was not working on the police force at all. He was dishonourably discharged after being blamed for a large scandal: that would have been about a year ago. He will not be seen in public again for another three years.” Sophie sighed and rolled her eyes at this, “why is it,” she said exasperatedly, “that everyone who might be able to help us is three years out of our reach?” “It is worse than you might think,” Demi added, “We are in Katar Dolabra’s tenure as commander, which means it will be him interviewing us. I never met him while he was still alive, he died not long after I joined the force, but if his reputation is anything to go by we are not in for a good time at all.

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It was the second time in less than a week that Sophie had been in the office of the Commander to the KPPF, at least from her point of view. The trip to get there had been quite an arduous one, as they had been split up into separate rooms for well over an hour while they were scanned more thoroughly for concealed weapons, had their photographs and fingerprints taken and generally been shouted at to follow every instruction given to them until, at last, they had been frogmarched up to the top floor corridor where they were reunited for a moment before being sent in to Commander Dolabra’s office. It was, at least in terms of its physical position relative to the rest of the KPPF Headquarters, the same room Sophie had been in for her meeting with Commander Bryden a few days ago, but Bryden’s office and the room she found herself in now could not have been more different. Bryden’s office had felt spacious and bright, the layout being open and comfortable with a large sofa taking up much of the back wall. This room was painted the same colour, and even had the same desk, but somehow it felt cramped and claustrophobic, the desk sitting in the exact centre of the room, partitioning it into two halves, one behind the desk and one in front. With the wall by the door being lined with imposing grey filing cabinets, this left only a narrow strip of floor space for anyone to sit while being addressed. Sophie noticed that the only seats available were three of the same uncomfortable plastic chair she had chosen before, now sat in a neat row, even more like a headmaster’s office than it had seemed when the idea had first hit her. Apart from the confined feel the layout lent it, the room was also much darker, with old-looking black venetian blinds closed over all the windows behind the desk, only allowing a small slit of light here or there where the blinds were bent out of shape. Between these windows and the desk sat the imposing form of Katar Dolabra. By all accounts he should have been less imposing than his successor, Dolabra was shorter than Bryden by quite a bit, and was rather stout in shape. In spite of this, a combination of the oppressive layout of the room and the large throne-like chair that Dolabra sat in on the other side of the desk, afforded him an image of absolute authority. Demi seemed unfazed by Dolabra’s steely gaze, but Sophie was beginning to feel extremely uncomfortable, and found herself fiddling absent-mindedly with the yellow plastic strap of her wristwatch. After glaring at the two officers for a painfully long time, Dolabra finally addressed them. “I’m sure you won’t be surprised when I tell you that you are both looking at potentially a lot of trouble here.” He said gruffly, without any indication that he wanted a reply, “At the moment, your presence at this crime scene has a very obvious conclusion that I could draw, and unless I am satisfied with what you have to tell me, you will find yourselves disappearing so deep into the judicial system that you’ll be drawing your pensions before you even see a trial, is that understood?” Sophie and Demi confirmed quickly and quietly that it was. “Ok, so first I want to know why you’re dressed like that,” Dolabra motioned to the police issue uniforms that the two were wearing, “I’m sure you are aware that impersonating an officer of the law is a serious offence in and of itself.” Sophie looked at her mentor hopefully, aware that they had not planned any sort of explanation for their presence or their attire. “My friend and I were at a party.” Demi responded, the lack of uncertainty that her voice naturally carried allowing this improvised lie to come across as unexpectedly believable. “They seem remarkably well made for fancy dress.” Dolabra rebuked, “That KPPF uniform… if I saw that amongst the ones the communications girls wear I wouldn’t be able to pick it out. And there are no women in the Velhadrogahn police, but your uniform looks of the same design. Where did you get them?” “Police surplus is easy enough to buy if you know where to look.” Demi replied, not missing a beat, “I fancied a little local colour so I dyed mine blue, my friend here isn’t quite so gifted at altering clothes so she had to leave hers as it was. I do feel that if you are going to go to a fancy dress party it is worth putting some effort in to the costume, I like to make an impression.” “Well you’ve certainly managed that.” Dolabra replied gruffly, “So with that triviality aside, would you mind telling me what exactly you were doing up on that rooftop?” Sophie, a little more at ease now that Demi had set the ball rolling, and feeling creative ventured a response “It was quite a wild party.” She said, “I don’t think I remember much of the second half, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the other guests weren’t strewn around other strange places in Velhadrogahn.” “So you’re saying that you somehow managed to find your way to the top of the building in the early hours of this morning, in some state of confusion following this party. I could accept that, although the fact that you were found without any handbags, money, coats or other useful things young ladies such as yourselves might want to take with you to a party is still more than a little suspicious. What I want to know is what happened once you were there that led to one of my officers being fatally stabbed.” “Well, sir, that ties in to why we don’t have our bags with us anymore,” Sophie answered, on a roll now, “there was a man who followed us there, and he mugged us. He had a knife with him, and the police officer came out onto the rooftop just after he had taken our things. I imagine he would have arrested the man, only he attacked him first, um, the officer that is…” Sophie trailed off, as she realised her pronouns were making the story rather unclear. Demi gave her a withering glance, suggesting that this was not the story she would have gone with, then picked up the tale “What my friend is trying so inarticulately to say,” she cut in, “is that our mugger stabbed your officer then left with our belongings. As you can see, I was injured by him myself in the process.” She motioned a hand to the area of her uniform that the knife had perforated, “I should perhaps add that we had not called for assistance from the police, so I would imagine that he was there on some other business?” Dolabra looked uncomfortable at the mention of this, and shuffled the unruly papers on his desk in a flustered manner. “Listen here, we find a dead officer on a rooftop with you two, you took the knife out of the body, and we know that was you, your fingerprints are all over it… For that matter, yours are the only fingerprints on it.” “”He was wearing gloves!” Sophie responded defensively. “Of course he was…” Dolabra scowled. “And you needed to take the knife out because…” “I had to run a few… repairs after the mugger stabbed me.” Demi admitted. “Oh great, you’re a bloody replicant.” Dolabra sighed, the slur causing Demi to wince slightly. “I just want you to know that I am really not happy about any of this. We have no other suspect, but on the condition that you keep the events of today to yourself, and I will expect you to sign non-disclosure agreements to that effect, I am willing to let you go.” “Really?” Demi was surprised at this sudden turn. Dolabra sighed. “Constable Brakosniev was on that rooftop investigating an explosion reported earlier this morning, one which we had expressly instructed him to not follow up.” Seeing the next question forming in the girls’ minds he quickly added, “The Velhadrogahn independence resistance movement have been causing similar expressions of unrest for a while, my police department have already come to an… agreement with them, which means if they blow something up we leave them to it.” Sophie was aghast at this, but more surprised to see that her mentor’s expression remained passive. “So we keep quiet and you can pretend there was no police investigation into the explosion, your agreement stays intact.” The android said dryly. “Precisely.” Dolabra agreed, “And constable Brakosniev gets a quiet posthumous dishonourable discharge. It all works out for the best really, it saves having to pay out his pension to his wife. All in all the day has gone slightly in our favour.” “But that’s horrible!” Sophie exclaimed. “That, young lady,” Dolabra replied, his voice raising, “is the way of this world, as you will no doubt know should you ever get to be old enough to see a little of it outside of your warm happy little bubble.” “And what about the man who killed your constable?” Sophie asked, trying not to let the remark about her age get to her, “What’s going to happen to him, he’s a dangerous criminal, you can’t just leave him out there, who knows what he’ll do?” “He was dangerous enough to overcome a teenage girl and a robot; I don’t think that translates into a broader danger to the public.” “You don’t understand, he’s got to be stopped, he’s already got the underground eating out of the palm of his hand…” “That is quite enough of that!” Dolabra barked, “I will not be told how to do my job by you or anyone else. Get out of my office before I throw you out, and take your android with you! I have Brakosniev’s widow outside, so I need to get her in, I haven’t the time or patience to spend all day listening to this rubbish. I suggest you spend a little less time out of your head at parties and get back to school, you clearly still have a lot to learn about the world!” by this point, Demi had risen and was trying to lead Sophie out of the room before she made any more trouble for them than they were already in, “Buck Roberts!” Sophie shouted as she was dragged out the door. “I’ve never heard of him.” Dolabra called after her. Sophie managed to push her head and shoulders back through the doorway one final time “You will.” She warned. “Big red scar across his face, you can’t miss him. And if he comes for you first you’ll wish you’d listened to me.” Demi finally managed to pull Sophie into the hallway, and the door slammed shut behind them.

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“I don’t look that young.” Sophie muttered to herself. She and Demi had been left sitting down the corridor from Dolabra’s office, having been instructed to do so by an officer who had come to investigate the commotion they had caused on their way out. From the office down the hall, they could hear the anguished cries of Constable Brakosniev’s newly widowed wife as Dolabra delivered the bad news, presumably in a manner that was anything but gentle. Demi turned to Sophie with a frown on her face, “You do look that young.” She observed, “You are that young, what was all that about? He was letting us go and you started kicking off, we were lucky he did not change his mind and have us arrested. I know about Dolabra from his records, just because he is not charging us with Brakosniev’s death doesn’t mean he would not find some other trumped up charges to pin on us.” “I thought we wanted Robert’s captured.” Sophie said, her voice filled with the exasperation that had built up in her since they had been arrested. She pulled up her feet onto the seat of the plastic bench and tucked her chin into the dip between her knees. “I thought that was the whole point.” She sighed, “If we leave Roberts running around the past then he’s going to do something crazy and break history. In fact once he realises he’s in the past he’ll probably make an effort to deliberately mess with history. From what I saw of him today, that’s exactly what he would do.” “I understand your frustration, Sophie,” Demi said, her voice now taking on a soothing tone, “believe me, I do, but there is a right way and a wrong way to do things, and shouting at the head of the planetary police force is not going to persuade him to make any effort to arrest anyone.” “You think I was being childish too, don’t you?” Sophie’s hear dipped lower, allowing her hair to cascade over her face, hiding it from view. “Not as such.” Demi replied, “But I think you need to look at this situation objectively, imagine anyone you’ve ever arrested speaking to Commander Bryden like that.” This got a small, half-hearted chuckle from Sophie, who looked back up at her mentor through watery red rimmed eyes. “What are we going to do?” she asked. Demi considered this for a moment, “For the time being, we are going to have to wait here.” She concluded, “Until such a time as the KPPF decide to send us back down to the planet’s surface. After that I would suggest making all possible effort towards finding a way home. I am aware that you feel strongly that we should try and apprehend Roberts by ourselves but the fact of the matter is we have no authority here. Our priority must be getting home. The wails from the office down the passage had now subsided to a softer sobbing, which somehow was even more heart-wrenching to listen to. “Poor woman,” Sophie said softly, “It puts our problems into perspective a bit, we’re stranded somewhere, but she’s just lost a huge part of her life. It makes you think.” Demi simply nodded in response.

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Several hours later, the two of them were still stuck waiting in the corridor. Mrs Brakosniev had, by this point, been turned out into the corridor herself, to await transport back to her home. Sophie and Demi had been assured that they could leave on the same vehicle, provided they got off at the same place. In the mean-time, they found themselves consoling the young widow, who as they had suspected, had been given the bad news from the Commander in an entirely unsympathetic way. The young woman, Svetlana - as they eventually managed to learn her first name was, was no older than Sophie, and this made her situation all the more tragic to her. “Dmitri had so very big plans,” Svetlana explained, her English slightly broken and heavily accented with what would have been a Slavic accent, were she on earth, “he would work hard, maybe get promotion early on, we hoped to get good position, he was a good man.” She told them. “We thought maybe when his wage was higher we could start a family, we had dreams to move to the mountains, maybe Aveigh Mor or Kharngorn. Police jobs in that area are not so many, but it is a much nicer place for raising childrens.” Svetlana sighed, seeing this potential future of her idyllic family life evaporate in front of her. “I will have to leave my home soon,” she informed them, “Mr Dolabra has explained that Dmitri has been… posthumously dismissed. Our apartment was leased from his work so I am no longer allowed to live there.” “That’s appalling!” Sophie exclaimed. “Perhaps it is not so bad.” Svetlana replied, “Maybe I will go after all to live in the mountains, find new life there. There is not much here for me anymore.” At this, she began to sob again, and Sophie put an arm around her shoulder to comfort her. After quite some time, the sobbing subsided once more, and Svetlana looked up at Sophie and Demi as if seeing them for the first time. “I am sorry, I have not yet asked who you are,” she said, “do you work here also? Perhaps you knew Dmitri?” “Oh, no, we’re not actually police officers,” Demi interjected quickly, for Svetlana’s sake omitting to mention their brief encounter with her husband, “These are costumes for a party.” “Hey, that’s a thought…” Sophie said suddenly, “we don’t have anything else with us to wear, if we’re going to be stuck here for a long time we can’t just go about dressed like police the whole time.” “Oh, do not worry about this!” Svetlana said, “I have many clothes at my home, I can give you some when we are there if you like!” “That’s very thoughtful of you.” Sophie said. With their new companion seemingly cheered up by this opportunity to make herself useful, they waited a while longer in silence for their transport to arrive.

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The sun was well on its way back towards the horizon by the time the police cruiser dropped Sophie, Demi and Svetlana off at the latter’s apartment building, and dusk was setting in rapidly. Sophie could scarcely believe that she had spent the entire day being either en-route to, at or coming back from the police headquarters. She wondered if this was what it must be like as a criminal, finding whole days being swallowed up in detention. Svetlana let them in, and it was quickly agreed that the two should remain at her flat for the remainder of the night. Svetlana did not want to turn her new friends out into the street with no-where else to go, and Sophie and Demi both agreed that after such a big shock, with no apparent family members to turn to, Svetlana should probably not be on her own. They busied themselves helping their host make up the spare room, Demi conceding to sleep on the floor, as she reasoned Sophie would probably have more need of the one bed in the room. Demi’s own recharge cycle, although visually like sleep through personal choice, and generally timed to coincide with acceptable sleeping hours, did not actually require the physical comfort of a proper bed. For that reason, she quite happily made up a bed for herself on the floor by the window. Svetlana had seemed somewhat preoccupied with the idea that she should begin packing straight away to vacate her flat as soon as possible, but Sophie and Demi had quite firmly stopped her, as she seemed to be upsetting herself with her frantic bustling. After Sophie had made her a cup of peppermint tea, Svetlana brought a large plastic tote bag full of various items of clothing for her two guests including, Sophie was glad to see, a variety of assorted clean undergarments. Sophie was not in the way of wearing a stranger’s clothes, but given the circumstances was quite happy to pick out some sleepwear and a change of clothes for the next day, having rummaged through the selection until she had found something that best suited her personal sense of style. Demi, seemingly less fussed by aesthetics, had pulled hers from the bag at random before going to her makeshift bed. Sophie climbed into her bed and switched off the lamp. Lying in bed, with the warmth of the darkness closing around her in the pleasant embrace of sleep, she could scarcely believe that three nights previously she had been in her old bed at her family home in Vystral Paard, in her own time. This led her mind to wander to thoughts of what the other her, the her from this time, would be doing. Even with the slight time difference, she realised, the chances were that she was in that same bed right now. Finding this idea oddly comforting, Sophie drifted off to sleep.

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The daylight spilling through the thin curtains woke Sophie up early the next morning. Demi still appeared to be asleep, the daylight not disturbing her, so Sophie decided to get washed and dressed before waking her. Having folded her borrowed pyjamas under the pillow, more from habit than for any real purpose, Sophie went through to the small en-suite bathroom to get herself cleaned and brush her teeth and hair, but found when she came out that her mentor had managed to get up and dressed in that short time. Feeling that this made her own morning routine seem rather slow and inefficient by comparison, and feeling more than a little underdressed, Sophie quickly pulled on the leggings and top that she had received from Svetlana the night before. Once the two were fully dressed, they headed through to the kitchen, only to find Svetlana was up and about, and clearly had been for quite some time, having set out a breakfast that was really quite a bit more than the three of them would have needed. Before either of them had the chance to ask how she was doing, however, she produced an ivory coloured envelope from the countertop behind her. “This came through the post this morning.” She announced, “It is addressed for both of you.” She passed it over to them without further comment. Demi took the envelope and stared at it as if she couldn’t quite understand what it was. “That’s not possible.” She said, her voice carrying a strange tinge of uncertainty that Sophie had not heard before, “No-one could possibly know we would be here, how can we have a letter?” “The police know we’re here.” Sophie pointed out, “Perhaps it’s from Dolabra, he might want us to come in again.” Demi shook her head, “No,” she argued, “if Dolabra wanted us back in at the station he would send a car round to arrest us, probably in the night while we were asleep, he certainly would not write us a letter. We have not been here long enough for a letter to get to us.” “It’s certainly weird.” Sophie agreed, “But there’s only one way to find out what’s going on, and that’s to open it up and see what’s inside.” Demi gave a curt nod, and sliced the top of the envelope open with one finger, as precisely as if she’d cut it open with a knife. The letter inside was the same marbled ivory colour as the envelope. Demi read the message aloud; “Detective Sergeant Demi and Constable Sophie Bausch, I am aware that this letter may have caused you some confusion, but I write to tell you that I wish to help with your current predicament. There is only so much I can safely include in a letter, knowing the issues your postal service has in this time period, but suffice to say I have the answers you are looking for. If you could meet me at 5pm at the Bosworth Diner in Vystral Paard I will explain all.” “Vystral Paard?” Sophie repeated, “but that’s got to be at least a thousand miles from here, where are we right now? Somewhere near Newtown Unthank?” “My apartment is just on the outskirts of Newtown Unthank.” Svetlana ventured helpfully.” “Vystral Paard is one thousand, six hundred and twenty two miles from our current location.” Demi informed her. “How are we supposed to get to Vystral Paard, then?” Sophie asked, frustrated at this influx of useless information. “If you let me finish, Sophie, there is more.” Demi said levelly, “P.S, You’re no doubt wondering at this point how you are going to get to Vystral Paard, to that end I have enclosed two tickets for the 11am turboshuttle, that should give you plenty of time to finish your breakfast and get to the bus station.” Sure enough, Demi tipped the envelope upside down, and two yellow tickets fell onto the floor. “What I do not understand is why it needs to be Vystral Paard, not somewhere nearer our current location. What is so special about that diner?” “I used to work there.” Sophie said, “I don’t know if that’s relevant, but I had a weekend job there when I was in school. Who sent the letter? Maybe they knew that.” “It does not say.” Demi replied, passing the letter to Sophie to read for herself, “It just says ‘a friend’” Sophie skimmed her eyes across the text, not sure exactly what she was looking for, but sure she should be looking for something. Not finding anything to satisfy this intangible itch at the back of her mind, she passed the letter back to Demi and glanced at her watch, before realising that she had not reset the time since arriving in the past. Between the jump from present-day afternoon to early morning in the past, and then crossing several time zones going to and from the Police headquarters, her watch – which was usually incredibly reliable at keeping track of changing locations and daylight savings – had given up, and was now displaying a row of zeros. Checking the clock on Svetlana’s cooker for reference, she managed to fiddle with the little yellow buttons on the side enough to get it showing approximately the correct time. “So we’ve got over two hours until the turboshuttle leaves,” she said at last, “I doubt it’ll take us all that long to get to the station, I think we should have some of this lovely breakfast that Svetlana’s put together for us, it’s going to be a long journey, even by turboshuttle, I don’t know about you, but I like to have a good meal before I travel.” She turned to Svetlana with a friendly smile, “Would you like some tea, Svetlana?”

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Several hours later, Sophie and Demi were sitting on the Turboshuttle, well on their way down the road. Sophie had felt a pang of guilt about leaving Svetlana on her own, and had promised that they would come back and see her again as soon as they could, something which prompted a frown from Demi. Svetlana had reassured her that she would be packing up with a view to leave in the next few days, but Sophie wasn’t entirely happy that a sudden move so soon after losing her husband would be good for Svetlana’s well-being. There was little time by then to argue the point, so Sophie made a mental note to return as soon as the meeting with their unknown contact was over. Demi seemed rather uncommunicative on the lengthy journey, so Sophie spent most of it gazing out of the window watching the world as it was when she was a child fly past. She personally liked to listen to music on a long road trip, but her music player was still in her room in Velhadrogahn, in the future. She realised with an amused smile that even the most basic music players like hers would not be available for another year. Remembering wistfully the cassette player she had listened to music on back when she’d been 9, Sophie found herself being drawn back into the world as she remembered it from her childhood, as the shuttle drew in to the Tri-city ring road, and along the final stretch towards Vystral Paard.

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Stepping out into her hometown, Sophie found herself experiencing a sense of familiarity that was, in and of itself, familiar. When she had been younger, there had been a large and fast-growing tree that had seeded itself outside her house. Her mother had not wanted to do anything about it at first, but between two of her father’s business trips it had doubled in size to take up almost all of their small front garden. Her father had removed it before his next assignment, and the space where it had been was tidied up so that no trace of the tree was left. While the tree had been there, however, the family had had a photo taken of them outside the house, with the tree in the background. The picture had remained on the hallway ever since. The thing was, even though the tree had only been there very briefly, every time Sophie saw the photo it felt as if the tree were still there, and had always been there. This was the same sensation that she got seeing the city centre, as they left the bus station. Several shops had come and gone in the past nine years, many buildings had been demolished, built, redressed, but the high street as she saw it now felt so familiar that it was like it had never changed. After stopping to stare wistfully at a toyshop that had been her favourite place in town to visit until it had closed when she was eleven, Sophie became aware that Demi, entirely unfazed by the sights around her, had continued on without her and was now several yards down the road, leaving Sophie running to catch up.

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Sophie hadn’t set foot in the Bosworth Diner since the time the Daleks had invaded, an incident that she had found herself thrust into the middle of after saving the Doctor from a taxi that was being flooded with toxic gas. That had been three years ago, or alternatively was six years into the future. Unlike the rest of the city, the diner was exactly the same as the last time she had last seen it, the building and signage looking grimy, greasy and extremely neglected. Pushing open the glass door, Sophie scanned the room to see if any faces seemed familiar to her. The diner was busier that afternoon than it usually had been during her time as a waitress, but she didn’t recognise any of the patrons. As she glanced across the crowd, however, an old man sitting near the door looked up at her from his menu, and nodded towards the two empty seats at his table. Without any words between them, Sophie and Demi sat down at the man’s table. Even though Sophie could have sworn she’d never seen this man before, there was at the same time a strange sensation of familiarity about him, not unlike the feeling the city had given her on her way over. The man had a craggy, weathered face, partially obscured by a ragged grey beard. He must have been at least seventy, but the tiredness of his eyes suggested a far longer life, one with many hardships. At a guess, Sophie would have said the man was a soldier of some sort, or perhaps a bounty hunter, his leather gators and bandolier giving a militaristic edge to his attire, which also included a worn velvet waistcoat and a leather jacket which seemed almost as weathered as his face. The stranger gave Sophie and Demi a smile of recognition as they sat down. “Detective Sergeant Demi, Constable Bausch, I’m glad you could join me at such short notice.” He announced in a voice as warm as his smile. “I’ll admit that bus timetables are not something I have a great deal of experience in. Would either of you care for a bite to eat?” “No thank you.” Sophie replied shaking her head, “I used to work here, I’ve seen the kitchen.” “Ah.” The stranger mused, “I suppose I should have thought of that. I was rather over concerned with choosing somewhere that would make the flashiest gesture, kitchen hygiene wasn’t really something I considered.” “Look, sir,” Demi interrupted, “we could exchange pleasantries all evening, but my colleague and I are in a very taxing predicament, so if you have any information that could help us, we would be happy to hear that, otherwise we have other things that we would be better off attending to.” “Alright.” The man conceded, “Where would you like me to begin?” “How did you know where we were?” Sophie asked, before Demi could say anything, “Even we didn’t know we would be there until we got there.” The stranger laughed heartily at this, “I am fortunate enough to have a little more insight than most, at least in concerns to your current situation.” He explained, “I had been studying a time anomaly which had existed at least in potential, for quite some time. A few years ago, from your point of view at least, there was a large temporal convergence on this planet, an incident where multiple possible timelines coexisted, for a very short time. That sort of thing can leave a stress in the time-space continuum, and from what I can gather that stress has splintered to form the time anomaly that brought the two of you here, though what caused that to happen I don’t know” “But how did you know we were going to be brought here?” Demi interjected, “that letter had to have been sent before we got here.” The stranger nodded in agreement, “It was,” he replied, “my equipment is very effective, so I had advance knowledge of your arrival. The problem is, I can’t directly intervene. Otherwise I could have waited for you on the rooftop and sent you straight home again. Time has been damaged; the entire future you know is dangling on a thread. Any paradoxes could cause that thread to break, and unravel time itself. And I have it on good authority that that would be very bad.” “So what do we do?” Sophie asked, “I mean can we get back, is that even possible?” at this question, the stranger fished a pen from his pocket and started drawing on a paper napkin. “Imagine that this circle is… well, everything, our localised little ball of time and space.” He said, drawing a circle, before adding a line from end to end. “Now this is the anomaly that brought you here, you started at the top in what you call the present, then moved down to the bottom, nine years into the past. But the anomaly isn’t a line, in a 3 dimensional space it would be more of an inverted cone.” The man drew a second line through the circle, forming a narrow cross with the first. “Everything inside the two smaller triangles is contained within the anomaly, but it is only the points at which the anomaly touches reality – that’s the circle here – that you can gain passage through it. So if you imagine this shape in three dimensions, and then I suppose imagine it in five dimensions, you sort of have an approximation of the time-space anomaly. Are you following me so far?” Sophie was staring at him blankly “This is more the sort of thing my sister would understand; she’s really good at physics and stuff…” she said. Demi looked thoughtful. “I do not understand the underlying theory,” she admitted, “but I think I follow the implications, if we travelled here along one edge of the anomaly, does that mean we can travel back along the other edge?” she asked, looking at him inquiringly. The old man responded with a grim smile. “Yes, I rather thought you would get to that point. The answer is yes, from the spread of the time disruption, it is possible to calculate the angle of the cone and from the length of displacement, which we know, we can work out the size of the area the anomaly is contained within, and as such work out the point where the other side breaks through. As you can see from my drawing it’s up a little and slightly to the left… in time and space.” “Well, sir,” Demi replied, “in that case I respectfully ask that you tell us where and when exactly this intersection will be.” The stranger sighed at this, looking almost disappointed. “It’s not so much a matter of where and when, you’re still seeing this in two dimensions. The intersection of the anomaly with reality is more of a four-dimensional ring circling an area of the planet across various points in time. If my calculations are correct, then the rooftop in Velhadrogahn is the focal point, you came from there and to there. So any other point along the intersect would lead back to that rooftop. The radial span is seven days, so I would suggest going to the rooftop then.” “Unacceptable.” Demi stated, “That is over five days away, and the police will be on high alert, there’s no way we’ll be allowed back up there. Where is the nearest point where we can access the anomaly?” The stranger sighed again “It will cross over with our current reality in just under twelve hours, at the top of the Chrarevel Plaza.” He replied, “But I’m afraid that that simply doesn’t give you enough time.” “But that’s in Vystral Paard.” Sophie countered, “I’ve been there before, it’s only an hour’s walk from here.” The old man nodded solemnly, “It doesn’t leave you with enough time,” he repeated, “to find the other member of your party and bring him back with you.” “The other member?” Demi probed, “Oh, you mean Roberts. Yes, Sophie has brought this up already, but as I told her then, our priority is to return home. We have no authority to arrest anyone here, so the arrest of Roberts will have to be left in the hands of the contemporary police force. Given his behaviour up until this point, I cannot see it being very long until he becomes a wanted man in this time zone.” “I really must insist that you reconsider.” The stranger said, sounding pained, “Your fugitive has already killed once, who knows what damage he could cause to the timelines if he is left unchecked.” Demi rose to her feet. “If you are so concerned with what Mr Roberts does, then I would suggest you liaise with the police and try and apprehend him yourself.” She answered tersely, “I am grateful for your assistance, and should you still be alive nine years from now I would be happy to see that the police department reimburse you for your efforts. Come on, Sophie, we are leaving.” And with that she turned on her heel and left the diner. Sophie got up and gave the elderly gentleman an apologetic look. He leaned over towards her. “Before you go” he said, “you might want to take these with you. First rule of time travel – don’t leave anachronistic technology behind” he passed a canvas bag to Sophie, in which she found both her and Demi’s stun blasters, radios and transport disks. “How did you get these?” she asked in bewilderment, “The police confiscated all this stuff when they arrested us. “I have my methods.” The old man smiled conspiratorially, “You’ll find they won’t work until you are back in your own time, the resonant frequencies they operate on are out of phase with the current reality.” “Is that why my watch isn’t working properly?” Sophie asked. The stranger nodded, “It’s just as well our friend Demi is entirely self-sufficient, or she would have been rendered inoperable too. Oh, and one final thing.” He added in a lower voice, “I know it will be tempting to you, but I must ask that you avoid interacting with anyone from your own past while you’re here. Let’s not have any more paradoxes than we already have.” Sophie nodded and smiled. “Thank you for helping us.” She said sincerely, “I don’t think I could have managed to stay here forever, making a life for myself in the past.” The old man nodded. “The past is another country.” He mused. “It’s nice enough to visit, but you wouldn’t really want to live there.” His face became solemn once more. “Goodbye for now, constable, let us hope for both our sakes that we do not need to meet again.” Sophie nodded silently and made her way out of the busy diner.

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Sophie found her mentor waiting for her outside, looking as irate as Sophie had ever seen her. “What was that all about?” the android enquired, “I thought we were leaving and you two were still chatting away.” “He wanted to give me this,” Sophie threw the canvas bag at her Demi, feeling exasperated with her attitude, “and he was telling me not to try and meet my younger self. Which is very good advice, like all that stuff you decided to ignore.” “I did not ignore it,” Demi argued, “Our priority from the start has been to return home. Now a means to return home has presented itself and intend to take it.” “We still have twelve hours.” Sophie said glumly, “We could use that time, to…” she trailed off “Use it to what?” Demi probed, “Find Roberts? We last saw him thirty-six hours ago, he could have travelled anywhere in that time. Our chances of finding him and getting to him with no resources at our disposal, in twelve hours are less than point zero zero nine.” “At least we’d be trying!” Sophie countered, her voice rising in frustration, “What about Svetlana? We brought that man here, he killed her husband. She let us in to her home, we ate her food, we slept in her house, we’re wearing her clothes right now! Now you want to just leave her, and leave her husband’s murderer running loose? She took us in and now we’re literally stealing her pants!” Sophie pulled the pink lace material of her borrowed underwear out over the waistband of her leggings as if to emphasise her point. Now having exhausted all her energy in the argument, she leaned against the wall and slid down until she was sitting on the pavement. Demi silently sat down beside her. For a few minutes neither of them spoke. “You know, I doubt she was really expecting you to give her her pants back when she lent them to you.” Demi said, in a more conversational tone. “I understand how you feel, but there’s nothing more we can do for her. In all probability she’d have moved away before we could have gone back for her. All we can do now is go to the Chrarevel Plaza and wait for the anomaly to take us back home. In fact…” she rose to her feet and held out a hand to help Sophie up, “I would suggest going straight there, we would be better to be early in case our friend’s calculations were a little off.” Sophie looked back through the window of the diner to the table where they had met the enigmatic stranger, but there was no sign of him. This was curious, as they had been near the door this whole time and he had not came out past them. Brushing this mystery off, Sophie followed her mentor into the city centre once more, as they made their way to the plaza.

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Sophie awoke on a cold granite floor, her neck and shoulder sore and her hair damp and bedraggled. She sat up to see Demi a few metres away, stood next to a fountain and gazing out over the city. “How long have I been asleep?” She asked, rubbing her neck with some discomfort. “About six hours.” Demi replied. “I thought in the circumstances it was best to leave you to it, I do not need to recharge for a while yet.” They had reached the plaza around seven the night before and made their way to the top as fast as the painfully steep steps would allow. Chrarevel Plaza was a large towering octagonal stone structure, with a small paved square and fountain at the top. It was reputedly older than the whole city, and was constructed from one single enormous block of stone. People didn’t come up to the top very often, so they had been left in peace for quite some time, allowing Sophie to nod off for a while. She was greatly regretting this now, however, as a smooth stone floor with no pillow, downwind of a fountain, was easily the most uncomfortable place she could think of for a sleep. Stretching the worst of the pain out, she looked at her watch, which seemed to be working reasonably well since she had reset it the morning before. It was four in the morning, although the sun was up high enough to light up the whole city in front of her. “Just an hour to go, then.” She noted glumly. “I suppose it’s for the best really, we had nowhere to live, no money, we couldn’t have lived like this for very long.” The world felt sufficiently deserted for Sophie to peel off her sodden t-shirt and wring the worst of the water out of it before putting it back on. She noticed that it was the same colour as her watch, but could no longer remember if that had been intentional or not. The sensation of the passage of time had felt very strange, ever since she had arrived in the past. Sophie had always felt that time had passed faster as she had gotten older, but that had always just been one of those things everyone said, it was a psychological thing, the longer you have been alive the shorter any given period of time will seem by comparison. But just for a moment, lost in the past and standing above the city she had grown up in, at a time when she was still growing up, Sophie could quite easily believe that time did pass slower in the past. “I suppose we’ll have to start getting used to being Detective Sergeant and Constable again.” Sophie ruminated. “Yes,” Demi nodded, “once we are back in our own time again, we shall have to resume our professional working relationship, Constable; I suggest that we do so from this point onwards.” Sophie did her best not to look too crestfallen. She had rather enjoyed being on first name terms with her mentor, it has made their predicament easier imagining they were working through it as friends instead of as boss and underling. Suddenly, Sophie felt an odd sensation, like the hair on the back of her neck was fighting through its damp and heavy condition to stand on end. She sniffed, and smelled the same peculiar smell that she had noticed on the rooftop before they had been sent back in time. “Sergeant, I think the anomaly is going to break through soon.” She announced. The Detective Sergeant nodded, “You’re right, I am experiencing a similar high static charge to the one I detected at the time of our initial transference.” Sophie looked around her expectantly. “Do we need to do anything?” she asked. “Last time the anomaly arced to the knife you were holding.” Demi replied, “Perhaps we need something metal to focus it.” She pulled a metal fork from the pocket of her jeans. “Where did you get that?” Sophie asked, “Did you take that from Svetlana’s kitchen?” Demi did not reply, looking sheepishly at the ground. “You did, didn’t you, you stole her fork! Why would you do that?” “I thought it might come in handy later on, and I think I am about to be proved right.” Demi replied levelly, “Besides, I doubt she’ll miss it.” And without further discussion, she threw the fork into the air, where it warped out of shape and burst into light, drawing out an oval shaped hole in the air in front of them. Through the swirling light beyond, Sophie thought she could almost see the rooftop in Velhadrogahn. Just as they were stepping through, Sophie heard a voice from behind them shouting something, as she turned, she could just about see the man from the diner reach the top of the stairs, waving his arms at them with a look of great concern on his face, before the world turned itself inside out once again and Sophie was plunged into darkness.

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TO BE CONTINUED
Do you know who I miss? That guy with the potatoes, let's bring him back...

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DukeNukem 2417
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Re: The Second Time Around *PART TWO ADDED 19/11/17*

Postby DukeNukem 2417 » Sun Nov 19, 2017 9:08 pm

Another intriguing installment---as always, I look forward to more! 8-)


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