The Second Time Around *COMPLETED 17/12/17*

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bad geminton
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Re: The Second Time Around *PART FOUR ADDED 04/12/17*

Postby bad geminton » Mon Dec 04, 2017 10:42 am

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“Well that was a waste of time.” Sophie sighed morosely, as the two took an early lunch break in the otherwise deserted staff area, “I really thought if I could make him see reason, make him see why he was wrong, he might let us finish this. I suppose it didn’t help that I went in as angry as I did, maybe if I’d been a bit calmer, a bit more level headed, he would have been more inclined to talk to me. Perhaps if I was a bit more like you, we might actually have gotten somewhere by now.” “I am afraid I must disagree.” Demi said, patting a gentle hand on her friend’s arm, “I would be the first to admit that your overly emotive state was not inductive to success with Dolabra this morning, but it is precisely your emotions, your passion and conviction, which make you such a valuable part of our partnership. I have an analytical mind, I can see patterns and structure and work my way around them. But when it comes to people and unpredictable situations, I do not have the sort of initiative needed to get through them in the same way. Roberts has shown himself to be massively unpredictable, Dolabra is stubborn and cannot be got around with logical reasoning. None of the key players in this scenario behave in a way which I can plan for, whereas you have a natural aptitude with people. You can be temperamental at times, but you have a fundamental understanding of how to get on with people, and put them at their ease” “I’d never really thought of it like that Sophie admitted, “I suppose I kind of wanted to be more like you, the way you were able to work your way past the guards that morning in Jaheeb, you’re always calm in an emergency. I’d always been really inspired by your rise through the ranks, you were pretty much what I aspired to be.” “It is interesting.” Demi nodded sagely, “Because I should like to have the initiative and emotional drive to succeed that you possess. In fact you could say that I would like to be more like you” Before Sophie could really appreciate the sentiment of this remark, however, there was a knock on the door. When Sophie went to answer it, she was surprised to find Councillor Pitaressi standing on the other side, dressed primarily in a rather fetching shade of blue. “Corinne, what are you doing here?” Sophie asked, surprised to see the councillor again, so soon after the dismissal of her case. “Your sergeant told me you were in here; I came here to talk to you, because I think I’ve found some more information that might help. I was looking at Hutcheson’s personal logs and there seemed to be an area in downtown Jaheeb that he visited a lot, during work time, but entirely outwith of official business, I thought perhaps it might be a good place to look for any more information on whomever it was he was meeting, so I had the office pull up his call log and it turns out that each of these trips were preceded with a call from the same number. And that number is the same one that called me asking for Hutcheson the day he died” “You said that was his brother.” Demi observed flatly. “No, Hutcheson doesn’t have a brother,” Corinne revealed, “I thought it was strange that I’d never heard of one at the time, but the late councillor kept his personal life very much to himself, I never thought much about it until I recognised the number, that’s when I checked his files and sure enough, no brother. It can’t be a coincidence, with timing like that; it has to be the person who killed him. Or someone working for them at least. This meeting place in Jaheeb could be a good place to look” “I appreciate you taking the time to see us, Corinne,” Sophie said, “and it’s great to see you again, but I’m afraid that we’ve been ordered off the case, we’re not allowed to look into it any further.” “Oh.” Corinne looked rather crestfallen at this, “I must say, I was quite hopeful when the two of you came yesterday; I thought we might have been able to get to the bottom of it.” “Councillor, why are you so keen to see this case solved?” Demi asked abruptly, “I can understand your emotional distress at having found the body, given your working relationship with the victim, but considering that you yourself are inevitably going to be a suspect, and as a result have all manner of personal details investigated were this case to continue, I find your enthusiasm for its continuation somewhat hard to fathom.” “But that’s exactly why I want the case to be solved.” Corinne replied morosely, “I have nothing to hide, and I have done nothing wrong, but if the real killer is never brought to justice, if the case is never looked into officially then there would always be whispers, there would always be suspicion, and no-one would be sure if they could trust me as their councillor. I’m sorry, I know it’s a selfish reason to want the murder solved, it hurts me that that is my biggest concern, but when there is an unsolved death it is always the innocent who suffer the judgement of the people.” “I understand Corinne, it’s okay,” Sophie said, placing a comforting arm on the young woman’s shoulder- the councillor was looking so thoroughly dejected that Sophie was tempted to offer her a hug, but thought better of it, given her mentor’s talk on professional boundaries the previous day, “I still plan to catch the man who did this, we know who it was, and we’re going to stop him with or without permission from the people at the top.” “That much is certain.” Demi agreed, “And in all probability, we are unlikely to find him in this meeting place of yours, we know he will be in Velhadrogahn on Friday so if he is not already there then he will be on his way by now.” “I appreciate everything you’ve done.” Corinne said, with a slight sniffle and a watery smile, “I just hope you don’t get into any trouble for it.” “Don’t you worry about us,” Sophie reassured her, “as long as we can catch this guy then nothing afterwards is going to matter.” Before Sophie could elaborate on this, there was a second knock on the staffroom door and Sergeant Dunoon came in, looking distinctly worried. “I don’t know what you’ve said to Dolabra,” he said, his voice genuinely concerned, “But he wants you back up there right now, Bausch.” “Oh dear.” Sophie sighed, “I think I might have done more harm than I thought when I went up earlier.” She turned to Demi and whispered “You’d better take Corinne back to Jaheeb; if things get nasty then I don’t want her here getting tangled up in them. If everything is alright I’ll meet you at home after work, if it gets too crazy then I have enough left in this to get me back.” She pulled out the travel dial on its chain from the top of her jumpsuit.” Demi nodded stoically and ushered the Councillor out as Sophie set off towards the administrative corridor once more.

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When Sophie entered the office this time around, the blinds had been lowered, giving the room a dark and foreboding mood, punctuated by the desk lamp which was turned to cast its glare on the seat facing Dolabra across the desk. “Sit down, constable.” The commander said grimly, gesturing towards the seat in front of him. Sophie did as she was told, sidling silently onto the plastic chair - quite possibly the same one she had been in when she and Demi had been arrested nine years earlier - and waited to see what Dolabra had to say. “When you first came to see me in Jaheeb on Sunday, I had this niggling feeling that I’d seen you before. It wasn’t until you came bursting into my office this morning that I realised where.” Dolabra slid a case file across to Sophie, which she tentatively opened, knowing what she was about to see. Inside were pictures taken of herself and Demi nine years earlier, along with the details of Constable Brakosniev’s death on the rooftop. “Would you care to explain how you managed to be on a rooftop in Velhadrogahn nine years ago, and then somehow turn up a decade later looking no older? I wondered at first if you might have had an older sister or something, but you don’t. It was you all those years ago, you even have the same hideous watch on.” Sophie pulled her sleeve over the yellow plastic wristwatch self-consciously at this. “And you’re still going about with a damn android, I’m amazed that didn’t bring up some red flags sooner, it wasn’t until you came in shouting about Roberts, just like you had the last time, that was when I realised. But you barely look old enough to have been born nine years ago. So my question is this, Bausch; what is going on?” Sophie took a deep breath before speaking, weighing up exactly what she should say, and how much of the truth she should disclose. Her hand momentarily felt for her travel dial, feeling its shape over her chest through the fabric of her jumpsuit. But she thought better of simply fleeing, and given how much Dolabra had already pieced together, she decided it was time to open up and appeal to the man’s better nature. “I suppose by this point you might at least be open to the idea of time travel.” She ventured tentatively. “Go on,” Dolabra replied, his face still impassive. “Well a few weeks ago, at least from my point of view, my friend Demi and me were following Roberts - the same man who killed Hutcheson, as I’m sure you’ll have worked out - and we ended up on top of that building in Velhadrogahn. I can’t fully explain what happened, because I don’t quite understand the science myself, but we all ended up nine years in the past. As you know, he killed Brakosniev - that was where we met you - then once we’d been released we managed to find our way back to the present.” “That must have been very convenient for you.” Said Dolabra drily. “You’d think so, wouldn’t you,” Sophie responded, matching his tone, “But this isn’t the world as we knew it. Roberts caused too many changes in the past, it’s made the future almost unrecognisable, that’s why we need to stop him before he can go back again, it’s our only chance to put things right.” Dolabra leaned back as Sophie finished her explanation, and for a while he said nothing. “Tell me,” he said at last, “The way you remember things being, before this… time travel event, were they better?” “More than you could possibly imagine, sir.” Sophie nodded solemnly, “I was an officer in the police before this happened, and things were so much better, there was no criminal influence on what crimes we investigated, if someone committed an offence then we did everything we could to make sure they would be caught, no matter who they were. And it just sort of spread out from there, the world felt like a safer place than it does now.” “And all that from one man?” Dolabra asked, some incredulity still in his voice. “I know Roberts, of course, he’s a big hitter in the criminal underworld, a particular thorn in my side, if truth be told, the underworld has seized the upper hand far more than I would have liked these past few years. But his kind are a dime a dozen, if he wasn’t around there’d be plenty more like him to do the same job.” Sophie nodded slowly, unsure how he would take what she had to tell him next. “Well, yes and no really,” she explained, “Roberts set in motion a chain of events that led to the death of a prominent public figure, which in turn led to the survival of another who should have died…” “Damn it, Bausch, don’t mince your words,” Dolabra barked, “who are we talking about here?” “Well, sir…” Sophie faltered, “In my time the police force is commanded by Donal Bryden.” “Bryden?” Dolabra repeated, taken aback somewhat, “that’s a name I haven’t heard in a long time.” “That’s not surprising, sir,” Sophie relied, “He died around eight years ago, but in the world I knew he was very much still alive...” “And in this new timeline I am alive in his place.” Dolabra finished, surprising Sophie at his perception, “Oh, don’t look so shocked, Bausch, if it was anyone else that was supposed to be dead you wouldn’t be skirting around the issue so much.” Dolabra sighed, suddenly looking very old, tired and vulnerable, a state that Sophie would have struggled to imagine the commander in. “And there was me thinking that I should have listened to you all that time ago, tracked down Roberts before he got his nasty little roots down, now it turns out my very existence is at the heart of the mess the world is in. Are society’s problems really so much my fault?” he asked, looking positively dismayed at the idea, “I know that I’ve not done the police force any favours, I’ve instigated and perpetuated a broken system, but there’s really no way out once you walk down that path. What could Bryden have done that I’ve been so unable to do?” “I’m afraid that your fall from power was a big part of what caused the change.” Sophie said softly, “it was only when he publicised the details of your abuse of your position that the public demand for transparency could guarantee an end to the old ways. This all happened when I was about twelve, it’s part of history for me.” “And that’s my legacy in your world?” Dolabra asked, “A historical villain? The man who used his authority to make the world a worse place?” Sophie felt wretched sharing this, but nodded nonetheless, “You died a year later,” she said, “you never got the chance to redeem yourself” “Lucky me,” Dolabra said bitterly, “I’m living on borrowed time already,” Dolabra tapped the side of his head, “brain tumour, they gave me five to ten years, and that was seven years ago. What have I done with my remaining time? I wanted to make things better while I still could, I got back in touch with my son, I hoped he could take my place once I was gone, but all I’ve taught him is how to be as corrupt as I am, under the thumb of every bastard like Roberts, a puppet to the criminal underworld with delusions of power. Why the hell didn’t you just let me die? If the world is so much better without me, why save my life?” Dolabra shouted this last part, and as Sophie looked up she was alarmed to see tears in the man’s eyes. “I saved you because you still have good in you,” she replied gently, “before you became commander you were a good officer, you had integrity, and I believe that that part of you is still in there somewhere. Please, let me and Demi go to Velhadrogahn on Friday, let us stop Roberts from going back a second time. Commander Dolabra didn’t have the chance to redeem himself in my timeline, but you do.” The Commander nodded stoically at this. “Do what you must.” He said, “I won’t do anything to stop you. But I can’t help you either.” Sophie nodded in acceptance, and headed for the door silently. “Oh, and Bausch…” Dolabra called after her. She turned to see the commander offer a weak smile of encouragement. “Good luck” he said.

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When Sophie arrived at her house that night, she found Demi waiting anxiously on the doorstep. “I was growing concerned that something might have happened.” The android admitted, “It occurred to me that if anything went wrong with your travel dial then you could be stranded in a dangerous situation.” “I didn’t need it in the end.” Sophie told her android friend, “I’ve persuaded Dolabra to let us arrest Roberts, although he’s not giving us any help. I guess it’s just us.” “I am impressed.” Demi nodded, “As I had said before, if anyone has the skills needed to persuade the commander you do. I only hope that we still have sufficient time to find him.” Demi added, “We do not have enough time to travel all the way to Velhadrogahn by public transportation, and there is only sufficient power between our two travel dials to get about a third of the way. Even if we make it there by Friday morning we will most probably have to go directly to the office block rooftop if we are to get ahead of Roberts. I would recommend gathering what supplies we might need and saying our goodbyes tonight, then rendezvousing with the bus at the Port Canonbie Sleeping Station, spending the night there and completing the journey by bus. That would get us to Velhadrogahn by tomorrow evening, giving us time to rest, if needed, and then seek Mr Roberts.” Sophie nodded silently in response as she turned her key in the lock of her front door, struggling to take in this complex itinerary that her mentor had apparently just came up with on the spot. When she opened the door, however, she very nearly hit her sister in the face.

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The first thing that struck Sophie, after checking that Monica was unhurt by her sudden entrance, was that her sister had indeed followed through on her plan to remove all of her hair; her head now entirely smooth, without any trace left of the dark hair that had dominated it that morning. “You went for it then.” Sophie observed nodding at her sister’s bare head. “Yeah, I got through all that drama, thought it would be nice to have a little treat to celebrate, since I’d kind of been wanting to for a few days.” Monica smiled slightly bashfully, “Do you like it?” “I do, actually,” Sophie nodded sincerely, “It suits you, a lot more than it suited me in fact. Anyway, what are you doing lurking behind the door?” Oh, yes, I almost forgot for a minute, Monica answered, lowering her voice as leaned in to speak to Sophie. “There’s a man in our kitchen who wants to speak to you.” She said, her voice a mix of confusion and concern, “He’s been here for nearly an hour, I’d just finished off doing this,” she gestured to her scalp, “when there’s a knock at the door, some older guy I’d never seen before, he said he was from your work.” Demi and Sophie exchanged glances, had Dolabra changed his mind about not giving them any help, and sent someone to assist them? Or had he decided they were a danger to him and that it would be safer to send someone to eliminate the problem entirely? Given that this man had come to her home and met her sister, Sophie very much hoped it was not the latter. “What was this man like?” Demi asked the younger girl. “He’s not very big, but he’s sort of imposing… he has the sort of voice that sounds like it would only ever say something important, I’ve been out here since I showed him through to the kitchen; I thought I’d best wait for you, he looked so serious that it was starting to make me uncomfortable.” Satisfied that she had relayed all necessary information, Monica started to make her way upstairs, before stopping abruptly and nodding down towards the hallway table, where a fairly cheap bottle of wine sat, “Oh and that’s for you,” she said, sounding rather pleased with herself, “You can’t say I don’t keep my promises.” And with that she disappeared up the last few steps and into her room, whereupon music came blaring out, perhaps not so loud and aggressive as the last time, and muffled somewhat by her door.

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Sophie and Demi made their way tentatively to the kitchen, but were immediately relieved upon entering to see that it was their mysterious friend from the diner. “I’m sorry if you feel I’m taking liberties just dropping by like this,” he said, his face kindly, but with a look that suggested he didn’t really care how they felt about this, “I did have to deceive your sister somewhat to get her to let me into your house, but this seemed the safest place to talk.” “At least that means we’re not about to hear a surprise revelation that you’re not some sort of secret police agent or something, if you’d been undercover this long then you’d only have revealed yourself now if you were planning on killing us.” “Really, Sophie, you have far too active an imagination.” Demi interjected. “In fairness,” The stranger argued, “in the current police set-up that would probably be true. Your actions are going to disrupt everything; if they had a sleeper agent trained on you then this would be the time to activate them. As it happens, that is what I have come to speak to you about. You have successfully convinced Dolabra to let you go to Velhadrogahn to apprehend Roberts, and provided you are able to stop him, time will revert to its original course. This, of course, is a good thing, and exactly what I’ve been moving you towards doing since we first met, but I want you to understand the gravity of what you will be doing.” “I do not understand.” Demi responded with a blank look, “The outcome of our actions will be the restoration of many lives and most probably the future of civilisation on this wold, I see no issue to consider here.” The stranger shook his head solemnly at this, “Your response tells me that you still don’t see the scope of the decision you face.” He said, “Of course, in stopping Roberts and restoring the original timeline you will save the lives of those who have died as a result of changes to the timeline, and there are so many of them, but there are those, albeit few, who were dead before but were spared by unforeseeable changes to history. Changes to time spread out like branches of a tree, moving off in chaotic directions, and after nearly a decade they have had the opportunity to spread out into almost everything in this world.” “If you mean Dolabra, I think he’s resigned himself to that now.” Sophie said sadly, “Or are you saying that if we stop Roberts other people will die?” she asked, aghast at the idea. “Not as such,” The stranger clarified, “They won’t be killed directly, rather their deaths will re-occur at their original time, and I must stress that they are far fewer in number than the lives that will be saved. However, it is a lot like the old hypothetical moral dilemma, to pull a lever and redirect a train that would hit many people, when doing so would cause the train to hit a single person who would otherwise have lived. Inactivity leads to the death of many, but action means being more personally responsible for the deaths of the few. It is a dilemma I have faced myself, and while my actions in the end may have proved justified, I would not want you to face such a choice without at least understanding the stakes.” “But by telling us that…” Sophie replied, struggling to speak over the emotional weight of what the old man was telling her, “We will have to stop Roberts in full knowledge that doing so will kill people.” “That or face living in this world, knowing that we could have put things right.” Demi finished. “It is a terrible weight to carry,” the old man said, his voice seeming to carry a great weight of his own, “But in the long run, it is better to know, better to make the right choice with conscience and a moral understanding of what you have done than to kill blindly without ever knowing. May I see your transport disks?” Sophie pulled her disk from under her jumpsuit almost reflexively at the unexpected request. Demi also passed her own across without complaint. The stranger pulled a silver tube from a bandolier beneath his leather jacket and pointed it at the dials, emitting a high shrill noise and a red light for a moment. The two dials lit up a greenish blue for a moment, before becoming inert once again. “I have fully charged both of your dials.” The old man said sagely, “You have enough power to travel directly to the rooftop in Velhadrogahn, so you can get a proper night’s sleep here before you have to leave, it will give you some time to take in what I have just told you.” The three people sat around the table in silence for a little while. Finally, Sophie spoke up once again. “If I ask you something, do you promise to answer truthfully?” she implored, looking deeply into his misty blue eyes. “You have my word.” The old man relied gravely. “Of all the people who will be dead when we’ve restored the timeline…” Sophie began, shuddering at the thought, “all the people that we will have to kill… Are there any of them that I know personally?” The old man looked very uncomfortable suddenly, breaking Sophie’s gaze. “You promised you would answer.” Sophie reminded him. The old man nodded and met her gaze once more, his eyes full of a reminiscent sadness, “Three years ago, in the original timeline,” he began, “During a Dalek invasion of Jaheeb, a young councillor, who I believe you have met, was killed while trying to protect a mutual friend of ours…” “No, not Corinne?” Sophie burst out, a wave of nausea washing over her. “I’m sorry.” The old man placed a hand on the young girls shoulder as her head sank to the table’s surface; the idea that she would be responsible for the death of one of the only people who had expressed any real friendship towards her in this strange broken world was just too much for Sophie. “Originally, the councillor she worked under was taken by the Daleks a few months before,” the old man explained, “his mind and body altered for their own ends, and ultimately killed. Miss Pitaressi took the job at that point, three years ago, and was killed shortly after. In this timeline, the old councillor was killed far sooner, for resisting Dolabra’s strong-arm tactics. Corinne was not working for the council yet, so the position was given to Hutcheson, who was too strong for the Daleks to control, and too self-interested to be killed in defence of my friend, allowing Pitaressi to live long enough to take on the position now.” Seeing the young officer’s red, tear streaked face, the old man gave her shoulder a comforting pat, “I really am very sorry.” He said. She swallowed back her tears and steeled her gaze. “Perhaps you’re right,” she said, her voice resolute but still wavering, “it’s better that I know.” “Sophie,” Demi said, sounding uncharacteristically concerned, “I know you developed a feeling of connection with the councillor over your brief contact…” “It’s immaterial now.” Sophie cut in, her voice suddenly cold, “What we need to do hasn’t changed, we just know the consequences now. Now I suggest we go to bed, we’ll want to be in Velhadrogahn as early as possible tomorrow, and we should get a good night’s sleep first. She turned her impassive glare from her android mentor to their mysterious benefactor, “Thank you for coming to see us,” she said to him levelly, “I’m sure you can find your own way out.” And with that, Sophie rose from her seat and left the kitchen, her footsteps disappearing up the stairs. Demi gave a brief look of apology to the old man, still sat at the table, and followed her young friend upstairs.

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The next morning, Sophie seemed remarkably cheerful, given the mood the previous night had ended on, chattering about a string of seemingly trivial things as the two got dressed. “We really lucked out getting our travel dials recharged,” she babbled, “I wasn’t looking forward to spending the night in a Sleeping Station, have you ever slept in one of those? It’s basically just a box on a shelf, hundreds of them stacked like a warehouse, no room to take any bags or anything in with you, no sheets, it’s just got fancy climate control to simulate the effect, essentially you have to spend the night lying in a little white coffin, in your underwear, with your clothes folded up as a pillow, it makes that fountain we slept at seem like the Vystral Paard Hilton. And I’m pretty sure I heard Monica leave for school a while back, so that removes the need for any awkward goodbyes, we really don’t need to be slowed down any more than we have been, I wish we’d gotten up a little earlier.” “Are you alright?” Demi interrupted, unsettled by the speed at which her companion was talking, and the rather forced blasé attitude. “Of course I am,” Sophie snapped, “why shouldn’t I be?” “Given your emotional response last night, the sudden change is troubling.” Demi responded carefully. “I think it’s time I put the emotional outbursts behind me.” Sophie responded sullenly, “I can see that now, if I’m going to survive in the career I’ve chosen I need to be calm and logical like you, and not let everything get to me all the time.” We have been over that before, Sophie, and as I said then I would swap my emotional detachment for the emotional intuitiveness you possess if I could. And if this sudden switch to cold disregard is your impression of me then I feel I should be offended. This is really about Corinne, isn’t it?” “It’s not just her…” Sophie sighed, sinking down on the bed, deflated, “This whole world, it’s a living breathing place, I could survive here, I already have a job, I’ve made a friend, possibly more, I don’t know, but… this world has to end today, and we’re the ones who have to make that happen. I keep thinking about my sister. The way I see it there are two of her now, the one I knew before and the one here. They aren’t different people, they’re the same person, sculpted by environment into two paths. And my love for my sister is unconditional; wherever her life had taken her I would have felt the same way. So now I have two sisters, two distinctly different people who I love dearly, and today I have to decide which one survives, and which ceases to be. I have to kill one of them. I have to abandon her, and Corinne and everyone else, just like we abandoned Svetlana before. I don’t know if I can face doing that again, and I just don’t know how to cope with that other than to put up a mental wall and ignore it.” “I appreciate your openness,” Demi said softly, “And although I lack the emotional experience to understand your feelings on a subjective level, I do know from my experience with organic lifeforms that suppressing strong emotion can be harmful for your mental wellbeing. For that reason, I will not force your hand on this issue. The decision must ultimately be yours. Whatever you choose I will stand by.” “Thank you.” Sophie smiled weakly through her tears, “I think that’s what I needed to hear.” And with that, she took her mentor’s hand in one hand, grabbed the travel dials with the other, and activated them, leaving the silent house in a flash of blue light.

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The rooftop was exactly as Sophie had remembered it from that fateful day which seemed so long ago but had technically been today, albeit in a very different world. Checking her watch, she saw there was half an hour left until the anomaly was due to open up. There was no sign of Roberts as yet. As a wind whipped up, blowing Sophie’s hair out behind her, she returned her travel dial chain to its familiar home around her neck, passing Demi’s one back to her android friend. “Well well well,” a familiar voice rang out from door to the fire escape, “I had a feeling you two delightful young ladies might be here.” Turning around, the two officers saw Roberts pose himself dramatically against the doorway, a smug leering smile twisting the vivid red scar on his face. “Wait, you knew we’d be here?” Sophie asked in confusion, “How’s that possible? Who told you?” “I did” came a slightly deeper, rougher voice from behind Roberts. The doors flung open, and an older man emerged from behind Roberts. His hair was thinner and greyer, his face worn, with the faded trace of a scar across it. But the look of malice was unmistakable. This man was Roberts. There were two of him.

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TO BE CONTINUED
Don't worry, I'm not stopping here long...

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DukeNukem 2417
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Re: The Second Time Around *PART FOUR ADDED 04/12/17*

Postby DukeNukem 2417 » Mon Dec 04, 2017 2:24 pm

The more I read of this, the more I wish it were on BBC America in miniseries form.....it's THAT good! 8-)
Through the darkness of future past,
The magician longs to see....
One chants out between two worlds:
"Fire...walk with me."

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bad geminton
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Re: The Second Time Around *PART FIVE ADDED 09/12/17*

Postby bad geminton » Sat Dec 09, 2017 9:02 pm

Chapter 5: Everything Stays

The older Roberts sneered as he stood next to his younger counterpart, clearly pleased that he had gotten the desired response from the two officers. “You seem surprised to see me here, ladies, considering it’s me you’re here for. Or were you only expecting junior to come?” Roberts gestured to his younger self. “I don’t think you thought that through at all. I left you a little present a few days ago, a little calling card, I hoped that might catch your attention” “Hutcheson.” Sophie murmured. “That’s right.” The elder Roberts laughed mirthfully, “Did you appreciate the handiwork? I even set up a nice suspect for you, another lovely young lady, I thought you could exchange fashion tips, or whatever it is you do. I let my little acolyte handle the dirty work, good practice for him, I thought he did a rather good job of it. But no, I certainly wouldn’t send him off up here alone, one of me against two of you, that wouldn’t be very fair, would it?” “You don’t have to do this, Roberts.” Sophie said, unsure how to proceed now that this unplanned element had been thrown into the mix, “You’ve almost destroyed the world with your interference in history, why do it all again?” “But that’s just it,” The elder Roberts snapped, going from jovial to irate at an alarming speed, “I barely managed to scratch the surface. Once I realised you had left me stranded in the past I decided to put my knowledge of the future to good use, change a few things for my own benefit, make this world a more me-friendly place. I built up quite the little crime empire in the nine years since we last met, that fool Dolabra has no idea how much power I hold over the criminal underworld here. Or how much power I hold over him. But it’s not enough. As time went on, it became harder and harder to influence events with future knowledge, because things became more and more different from the history I remembered. I had gotten my foot in the door, but I was left just like everyone else within a few years, no idea what future political figures to get in my pocket, which horse to back, everything became unpredictable again.” “A simple cause and effect.” Demi observed coolly, “You used your knowledge of the past to change it, thus changing the past from what you knew.” “Shut up!” Roberts barked, a crazed look flashing in his eyes, “I didn’t ask for a lecture. But this time, this time things are going to be different. I’ve trained young Roberts here up, I got in touch with him soon after I arrived and made him my own little protégé. Every change that I made he knows to make. Everything that didn’t go my way this time, everything that I didn’t see coming, he will know to expect. He’s even more ruthless and pitiless than I was at his age. I’m so proud.” The eldest Roberts made a little charade of wiping away a tear. Seeing this as her first chance, Sophie made a move for the stun baton on her belt, but Roberts clearly wasn’t as distracted by his play acting as he seemed, pulling out his knife and sticking it into the back of Sophie’s hand before it was even half way. “Ah-ah-ah! Naughty” Roberts admonished, as Sophie clamped her other hand around the wound Roberts’ knife had inflicted, in an attempt to stem the alarming amount of blood that was suddenly spurting out. “I wouldn’t worry about that one, sweetheart.” Roberts laughed coldly, “A lot of mess, but fairly harmless, I have a great knowledge of human physiology, where to target to hurt, where to kill. Anyway, it’s very rude of you to try and interrupt Junior’s big moment. He’s finally graduating from apprentice to master, and the second time around, my empire will be even stronger!” The elder Roberts’ jubilation was cut off by the loud crack of a gunshot from behind him. Roberts, Sophie and Demi turned in shock to look at the younger Roberts, who had been silent throughout the elder Roberts’ speech, and now stood behind his older self, gun in hand. “You’re right, old man.” He said darkly, watching as the senior Roberts slowly fell to his knees as if the man was dirt on his shoe, “This is the day I graduate, but I have no intention of going back to spend nine years building up what you already have here. It’s time youth replaced experience, I think. I’m quite happy to run this pathetic reality just as it is. You must have been mad if you thought I’d build my own empire when I could just take yours. The criminal underworld knows and fears the name of Buck Roberts, with you out of the way that name belongs to me.” “You idiot.” The elder Roberts spluttered, as he slumped to the floor, “If you don’t go back then this reality will never come to be. The only reason we’re on top now is because I went back in the first place. Without going back to set it up you have no empire to run.” He gave a cruel laugh. “And it serves you right if you don’t; if this is how you repay my training then you deserve to lose it all, you pathetic ingrate!” He wheezed this last insult before slipping from consciousness, blood beginning to pool up under him. Demi’s eyes flashed briefly. “He is still alive,” She informed Sophie, who had been set to bend down and check the older man’s pulse, “But he will not last long if he does not receive medical assistance soon.” “Stop talking!” The younger Robert’s screamed, rapidly becoming agitated, “Neither of you move I need to… “ He threw the gun against the doorway in rage, then realising he had disarmed himself grabbed the knife from his older self’s bloodied hand, pointing it at the two officers before either of them could make any move to apprehend him. “Looks like we’re going to have to go back to plan A after all.” He intoned, “This time there’s not going to be any mistakes, if you two try to follow me it’ll be all the worse for you.” Everything suddenly happened at once; the door behind Roberts suddenly burst open, startling Sophie and Demi. Before they could see who it was, however, Roberts had darted across the rooftop and held the knife aloft like a wizard wielding his staff. An alarm went off on Sophie’s watch, indicating that time had run out for them. As the purple energy arced down from a seemingly empty sky with a deafening thunderclap and a glare of light, the two officers did the only thing they could think of and ran towards their quarry, hearing heavy footsteps behind them as they felt reality wink out around them.

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When Sophie opened her eyes again she was both surprised and confused to find herself staring straight into the face of commander Dolabra. Before she had the time to contemplate this, however, her instincts kicked in and she jumped to her feet, just in time to see Roberts staggering to his, clutching his right arm with his left, attempting to squeeze feeling back into it. Sophie remembered from the first trip back in time that this paralysis was only very temporary, and that this would be the best time to try and tackle him. Before she could get to him, however, the door to the rooftop burst open once again, and with a strange sense of déjà vous, Sophie witnessed constable Brakosniev step out, for the second time. This time however, before either she or Roberts could make any move towards this new arrival, Dolabra, who had now risen from the floor barked out at the young constable “Brakosniev, disengage immediately.” The young constable looked thoroughly perplexed, “Commander? I don’t understand.” He stammered. “It isn’t your job to understand, constable, as you should well know,” Dolabra barked, his tone somehow becoming even harsher, “disengage immediately and return to your precinct.” Brakosniev nodded, eyes wide like a startled deer, and scurried back down the stairs from the rooftop. “He’ll have a hard time explaining that in his reports,” Dolabra chuckled, dropping the angry front, “But it’s better than being dead.” “Commander, why are you here?” Demi asked, having merely observed in silence up until this point. “I’ve had enough dealings with Roberts over the past decade to know that leaving two people alone against him is not the advantage the numbers would suggest.” Dolabra replied, with a twinkle in his eye that made him somehow look younger than he had when the two officers had first met him, before his face fell slightly in shame. “To be honest with you, a part of me wanted to come and stop you, it shames me to admit, but there is still a selfish part of me wanting to cling to what little power I have, in spite of everyone else. But I think it’s time to put an end to that part of me, when I saw Roberts doing whatever weird science fiction thing that was, I knew if he made it back in time then I would be in the best position to get Brakosniev away from him. And given the choice between an eternity of Roberts or disappearing from history, then I intend to go out fighting.” “So what happens now?” Sophie asked, looking around her, “We’ve saved Brakosniev, does that mean time will bounce back again?” “You think you’ve changed things?” Roberts scoffed, circling the group, “You’ve changed nothing. I know where constable Brakosniev lived, I can easily find him myself. I could even cut out the middle man and kill Bryden myself; I could do just about anything I like. The future is my oyster.” “Give it up, Roberts,” Sophie replied, edging towards Roberts as she eased her hand towards the handcuffs on her belt. “Dolabra is right, there are three of us, you’re on a rooftop, there’s nowhere left to run.” “Don’t be so sure of that!” Roberts exclaimed, suddenly grabbing a piece of gravel from the rooftop and lobbing it at full force towards Sophie’s face, hitting her square in the eye. As she recoiled in shock, and before Demi or Dolabra could get any closer, Roberts grabbed Sophie’s arm, twisting it behind her back with one hand as he played the point of his knife across her body with the other, a look of sadistic playfulness in his eyes. “The old man thought I hadn’t listened to anything he told me, but he was wrong.” He said threateningly, “The best bit of advice he ever gave me, when you get to the rooftop, threaten the blonde. And how pleasantly threatenable you turned out to be.” He let out a cackle of pure malice as his knife hovered over Sophie’s neck. “I wonder where I could put this to give you the slowest end.” He mused, “Something really cruel and lingering, yet inescapable, that’s what’s going to happen unless you two let me leave without interfering. If you comply I might just send her back to you. I don’t know though,” he said, sniffing her hair in a way that made her squirm in disgust, even with the knife pressed to her throat. “I might just keep her, she’s rather pretty. Or at least she is just now.” Demi and Dolabra watched helplessly as Roberts dragged Sophie towards the doorway. From below, the sounds of sirens faded into audible range. “Brakosniev” Demi murmured to Dolabra, “He must have made his report on us being up here.” “If I know myself,” Dolabra nodded, “If I got it into my head there was someone here impersonating me I’d have sent the big guns in.” the commander’s eyes were suddenly caught by the glint of Roberts’ knife, catching the light as his grip tightened, evidently uneasy with the growing sound of sirens below. Before he had the chance to use his weapon, however, the aging commander barrelled across the rooftop towards him, with a shocking turn of speed. Caught off guard by this heavy set, middle aged man careering into him, Roberts dropped both the knife and his grip on Sophie’s arm, the former clattering off the edge of the rooftop as Sophie fell to the floor in shock. As she looked up, Roberts and Dolabra seemed to topple, almost in slow motion, following the dagger over the edge. By the time Sophie had gotten to her feet to look down from the roof, Demi was by her side, and the two men were nearly at the ground, seeming to disappear in a cartoonish cloud of smoke. As the cloud grew, however, Sophie could see that it was not smoke, but a growing field of white light, which rose rapidly to engulf the entire rooftop. Suddenly, Sophie and Demi were alone in a featureless, directionless white void. “What’s happening?” Sophie asked, alarmed by this sudden turn in events, her voice echoing in an unnatural way. “It would seem that the new timeline is unravelling.” Demi offered, “Time must be reverting to its original course.” “But it’s leaving us behind!” Sophie exclaimed, “How do we get out of here?” as the light glowed brighter and brighter, making it hard for Sophie to even see herself through it, there was a noise like jammed gears, screaming in protest against their motion, and a dark shape seemed to solidify in front of her. She thought she could see the face of the mysterious stranger who had been so keen to help them throughout their ordeal, and felt a half conscious twinge of amusement at the thought that he seemed able to freely visit every time she had been to, even this strange non-time, before everything blurred into nothing.

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When Sophie came fully to her senses she found herself stood outside the diner where she had once worked. The building was a lot scruffier than it had been when she had visited it in the past, with a pile of old tables and chairs taking up the far end of the car park, waiting to either be removed by the council or otherwise taken away. Demi, seemingly unfazed by what had just happened – or possibly not happened, the past few minutes were mostly confusion in Sophie’s memory, with the idea of an infinite void, then a small door leading to a space that was somehow even larger than the nothingness outside it – and was a short distance away, talking in a very official tone into her communicator. Sat a few steps away, on a scuffed chair next to what was left of one of the tables from the refuse pile, was their mysterious ally, who motioned for her to sit with him. She complied, and was silent for a moment before speaking. “I know who you are now.” She said, looking deeply into his eyes, “Well I’m glad one of us does.” The old man laughed heartily, “I think part of me knew for a while,” Sophie continued, “but it was hard to quantify, you look so different. It is you, though, isn’t it? You’re the Doctor.” “That’s a name that I haven’t gone by in a very long time.” The Doctor said thoughtfully, “But I have, of late, come to accept it once again. I’m only sorry that I couldn’t help you any more than I did. Officially I’m not supposed to be here, I could bend the rules a little, help in an advisory capacity, but it had to be you that fixed this. And I must say you did so tremendously well, you didn’t really need me at all in the end.” “We’d still be stuck in that void if you hadn’t come and found us.” Sophie pointed out. “Yes, I suppose so,” the Doctor mused, “but let’s keep that detail off the record.” “So what actually happened?” Sophie asked, still feeling unsure about this, “One second Dolabra and Roberts were falling off the roof, the next everything had just disappeared.” “In killing Roberts in the past, before he could put his time-changing plan into action, Dolabra broke the chain.” The Doctor explained, “Roberts changed the circumstances of his being there so that they relied on his future self’s influence. Once you travelled back in time, the wheel came full circle, young Roberts became old Roberts, but since he was unable to send his own younger self back, the circle broke, and the new timeline, which was still not fully set, came apart. Interestingly enough, since it was Dolabra who broke the cycle, and his existence at that point was a result of the altered timeline, the destruction of the altered timeline caused a paradox and, combined with the fragile state the local causality is in, that is almost certainly what created the temporal anomaly that sent you back in time in the first place. Essentially the anomaly caused the paradox that caused the anomaly itself – which is, in itself, another paradox. Do you see?” “Not really.” Sophie admitted, “But thanks for trying to explain it. So is that world gone now? The alternative one, I mean, with Corinne and Dunoon and Monica, has it all disappeared?” “Would it be easier for you if I told you it hadn’t?” the Doctor asked. “I don’t know.” Sophie sighed dejectedly, “Either all those people I met and lived with have just ceased to be, or they’re all still there, only now Dolabra is dead, so the last hope for the police force sorting itself out is gone, and I’ve just vanished off the face of the earth so Monica and my dad are left wondering for the rest of their lives what happened to me, with no closure. And whatever is going on with Monica she has to just deal with by herself.” She sighed again. “Either none of it exists anymore, because of me, or I’ve left their world far worse than I found it, neither of those is comforting at all.” The Doctor nodded solemnly at this. “Sometimes there are no right answers.” He said gravely, “It takes a great deal of strength to choose any action in the face of options like those. You have my utmost respect.” The two sat in silence for a while before Sophie spoke again. “What happened to my clothes?” She asked eventually. “I left everything I’d been wearing at Svetlana’s house when I first went back in time, and now I’m wearing this jumpsuit from the altered timeline, how does that work?” “I hadn’t even thought of that.” The Doctor chuckled, “I suppose, given the scale of the paradox, a couple of sets of clothes are probably a small enough detail to sweep under the cosmic rug, they’ll probably just have disappeared into the ether. Who knows, perhaps they’ll drift through a temporal weak spot on some quiet m-class planet somewhere, give the local paranormal investigators something to talk about.” This made Sophie laugh, for the first time in a long while, at the image her brain conjured up of military organisations and baffled scientists cataloguing her lost underpants as evidence of extra-terrestrial activity. “I never did get the chance to thank you,” she said, once she had pushed this bizarre mental image from her mind, “Without your letter of recommendation I don’t know if I’d have made it onto the force at all.” “I’m certain that you would” the Doctor countered, “I saw potential in you all those years ago, but Bryden would have seen that potential just as clearly. You even managed to get a job from Katar Dolabra; I think some things are just inevitable. I’m only sorry I haven’t been able to follow your career more closely.” “It’s been pretty lively so far.” Sophie admitted with a smile. “Even before this I seem to never be far from trouble. The Academy was a lot of fun – I seemed to learn better in that environment than I did in high school, I met a lot of interesting people… I got to play Columbia in the Academy Drama Club’s performance of Rocky Horror Show at the end of my first year; that was pretty fun. And whatever you choose to think, I will always be grateful to you for giving me that opportunity.” The Doctor smiled warmly at this. “I always feel that opportunity is only what you make of it.” He said, pensively.

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The following few hours were rather chaotic. The Doctor made his excuses and departed before the backup arrived, giving reassurances that the Roberts in this timeline was the one who had been killed by his younger self, and as such was no longer a cause for concern, before sauntering off and disappearing into a dilapidated looking blue wooden hut. Sophie had been sad to see him go. After taking so long to recognise her friend, she had felt an overwhelming realisation of just how much this man was the same Doctor she had met before. Even through his world-weary face, and the sense that he had seen many terrible things since they had last met, in her eyes he was absolutely still the Doctor she had known. Soon after the Doctor’s departure, the two officers found themselves surrounded by patrol cars from central headquarters, who were very confused as to what had happened to Sophie and Demi. From their point of view, the two had gone up to the top of the building, there had been an explosion, and the two officers had disappeared by the time their backup reached the top. In the short time between then and Demi contacting them , the planetary force had gone into a state of panic, as there was no conceivable route of escape, no sign of any bodies, no residual trace of transport discs, long range teleport, disintegrator discharge, the notion that two members of the police force had apparently been wiped from existence without trace stirred up recent memories of threat from doomsday weapons, and Commander Bryden had been on the verge of initiating some very extreme emergency protocols when Sergeant Demi had gotten in touch. In total, from everyone else’s frame of reference, the two officers had been away for a total of three and a half hours, and for them to have turned up halfway across the world from where they had started, dressed in antiquated uniforms, was far beyond their comprehension. Sophie found herself struggling to give a concise account of what had happened to them that actually made any sense, and Demi, for her greater scientific understanding, was not doing much better. Fortunately, the latter’s reputation for calm and logic was enough to convince the officers on the scene that they had not gone insane, and the pair were taken back to Velhadrogahn in the fastest cruiser the force had at its disposal, to write up full accounts to be distributed to Chief Inspector Maertitch – head of the Velhadrogahn police department – and Commander Bryden himself. As Sophie was whisked across the landscape, she mused over something she had been told in an early class at the academy, that without fail, every operation they worked on would end one of two ways; with death or with paperwork.

---Three Days Later---

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, from force of habit more than anything else, rolled over in bed, swatting the snooze button on the top of her alarm with a bandaged hand – starting to heal now from the injury Roberts had inflicted - before turning back to her previous position. Moments later, however, Sophie sat back up and turned off the alarm entirely, hopping out of her bed with remarkable alacrity for that time of the morning. After her recent exertions, however, five in the morning did not seem nearly as ghastly a time to get up as it once had, and Sophie found she felt fully rested. Dressing with a similar degree of energy and speed, Sophie made a face at the formal vision of herself in the mirror. At the foot of the stairs, she found her eye suddenly drawn to the picture frame by the door. Walking tentatively over to it, she found herself overcome by an urge to turn it over. She was not sure what it was her subconscious had been expecting to see. From what she had gathered of the nature of the alternative timeline, there was no possible reason why her notes from Monica would still be there. Staring at the empty frame, however, and at the darker patch of wallpaper underneath where the sun had not faded it, there was something about the absence of the notes that reassured her that the ordeal truly was over, that the world she had lived in all that time really was a different place, a place that was now separate and distant from where she was now. It was the first time she really felt that she was home; she had not had much chance to depressurise after her return to her own world. She had returned from Velhadrogahn very late the previous night, after several days of paperwork, non-disclosure forms forbidding her to publicly disclose the details of what had happened – in the greater good of public wellbeing according to Demi – and several interviews with Chief Inspector Maertitch. The chief inspector had decided that in the circumstances it would be best to conclude Sophie’s placement early, much to the young officer’s dismay. As such, aside from a quick phone call to let her father know she was coming home, and as much of an explanation as she was allowed to give, Sophie hadn’t spoken to him, slipping straight off to bed when she arrived, given the lateness of the hour. She was, therefore, surprised to find not only her father waiting for her at the breakfast table, but also her sister. The younger girl’s hair was present and intact but looking relatively tamed – although knowing Monica, Sophie doubted it would be both for terribly long – and she was dressed in denim shorts and a flannel shirt, probably as much clothing as Sophie had seen on her in the past few weeks. “Monica?” Sophie exclaimed on seeing her, “What are you doing here?” “I’d be tempted to ask you the same question” the younger Bausch girl said with a cheeky grin, “but considering the crazy stuff going on in Velhadrogahn that’s been all over the news, and you coming back early a few days later, it’s not hard to work out you were wrapped up in whatever it was. News said it was a dangerous weapons scare that turned out to be a false alarm, so I’m going to assume someone saw that giant yellow alarm clock you wear on your wrist and thought it was a bomb.” “Hilarious.” Sophie replied half-sarcastically, throwing her sister a look of mock scorn. “And that doesn’t answer my question, why are you here?” “You told me to come home for the weekend, remember?” Monica pointed out, “You phoned me on Wednesday saying I should come back for a few days, make sure dad didn’t burn the house down trying to dry socks in the oven or something. I’m going to have to catch the 6:30 train if I’m going to be back at Vi-Edevan in time for my morning classes, that’s why I’m up so early, much as I’d like to take credit for being up at crazy o’clock just to see you before you go to work.” Monica stifled a yawn, “It is good to see you, though.” She said with a smile. “It really is.” Sophie agreed emphatically, overcome with a sudden wave of emotion and rushing to hug her younger sister. “Hey!” Monica protested, “Calm down, Soph, it’s not that good!” “Trust me, Monica,” Sophie said, relaxing her grip a little, “after the week I’ve had, seeing you safe and happy is just about the best thing I could have.” “I could say the same of you.” Mr Bausch Piped up, having been engrossed in preparing some toast which he now passed across to Sophie, possibly the least burned she had seen him make. “I could never be more proud of the work you do out there, Sophie,” he said sincerely, “but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t relieved every time you come home safe.” The girls’ father moved in, making a group hug, much to the protests of Monica who now found herself stuck in the middle. Sophie found herself welling up slightly in the moment. “Home’s never felt more welcoming.” She said, wiping her eyes, slightly embarrassed at her sudden wash of emotion.

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After walking Monica to the railway station and a further round of hugging, an activity the younger girl had eventually warmed to, Sophie stepped across the main city square and beamed across and up to the Planetary Police headquarters, where she was greeted by her old Duty Sergeant, Drinkwater. After all that had happened, the familiarity of this face was almost alien for a moment. Sophie reacclimatised quickly though, and greeted her Sergeant with a warm smile. “Commander Bryden wants to see you again.” The older woman informed Sophie, giving the young constable a slip of paper, “I shouldn’t worry, dear, as your line manager I’m one of the few privileged enough to have read the official report of what happened last week, and if the commander isn’t every bit as proud of you as I am then he needs his head looking at.” The sergeant gave Sophie a hearty pat on the shoulder and headed on her way. “Oh well.” Sophie said, looking at the note from Bryden, and making her way towards the staircase, “No time like the present.”

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Although it seemed that Sophie had been in the Commander’s office more times in the past week or so than she had in the rest of her career combined, the room felt at once unfamiliar, as she allowed herself the luxury of choosing a reasonably comfortable chair to sit in. The office was, of course, exactly as it had been a week earlier, when the commander had first informed her of the placement in Velhadrogahn. However, in the interceding period, closer to two weeks from her own perspective, she had been in the room four times under Dolabra’s occupancy, and the two commanders couldn’t have worn their office more differently. A simple rearranging of the furniture, and adjustment to the lighting made the entire room feel massively more spacious, lighter, airier and cleaner, and combined with the less austere Bryden behind the desk, an altogether friendlier space. As Sophie sat down, the commander opened up a thick folder on his desk, an amused expression on his face. “I must say,” he began, “having read the official documentation on the Velhadrogahn incident, Sergeant Demi’s written account and your own, yours was by far the most colourful read of the three. I don’t think I’ve read a more entertaining official document; you certainly have a way with words. If the police side of things ever fell through, you could probably knock out a decent writing career.” Sophie nodded sheepishly, unsure if this was some sort of backhanded admonishment for her informal writing style. “Don’t look so nervous, constable,” Bryden continued, sensing the younger officers concern, and cutting to the chase, “officially, this is just your debriefing, I’m afraid that, like you, I tend to be a little less formal about these matters. I’ll tell you one thing, the whole story would have seemed quite incredible a few years ago, you’d probably have been locked away in an asylum telling a tale like yours, not so long ago. Even now it’s quite hard to believe, you’re fortunate that there were two of you present to corroborate each other’s accounts. Even then… Well I was struggling to get my head around it until I had a little off-records visit from a certain mutual friend of ours to explain everything in layman’s terms. I must say, the Doctor’s high opinion of you is a very good character reference to have, probably the most prestigious in my book. Before I say my piece, do you have any questions? Everything will have been a bit of a whirlwind these past few days, especially to a relatively fresh young officer such as yourself, I’m happy to clarify anything that you need clarified.” “I don’t really have any questions about the paperwork side of things,” Sophie replied slowly, I do have some questions, though, regarding some of the people I met when, you know…” “Ah, yes, your report does mention quite a lot of people you interacted with during your experience,” Bryden nodded, “I imagine you have seen your father and sister since you returned?” “Yes sir, I caught up with them this morning. And I managed to get through to my mother eventually, which was something of a relief; I’ll have to resign myself to never knowing what happened to her in the other timeline. But there were two people on the police force who I worked with when I was there, I just wanted to know what happened to them, you know, in this timeline. One of them was Sergeant Dunoon?” “I would guess that would be Inspector Dunoon.” Bryden relied, turning to the filing cabinet behind his desk, “I remember him well, one of the few honest men working under Dolabra, and he’d hardened himself against the old ways, but took to the new regime I set up like a duck to water. As his title might suggest, he was given a few promotions over a fairly short period of time, he took early retirement about a year and a half ago to spend more time with his family, he’d put in enough years here that he’s living off a rather substantial pension down in Destril Paard.” Sophie sighed in relief at this, remembering how the old sergeant had implied that he no longer had any family. Despite his crustiness, she had felt there was something inherently good in the old man, so hearing that things had worked out for him in her native time pleased her. “I was also interested in what happened to Constable Brakosniev?” Sophie ventured, “He was married to a young lady called Svetlana.” “Ah, yes, I was reviewing one of his old case files quite recently.” Bryden replied solemnly, “I’m afraid that he was killed around the time I took over as commander, I believe his wife and infant son moved to Kharngorn shortly afterwards. “Oh, he had a baby?” Sophie reacted, not sure if this made Brakosniev’s death more or less upsetting, but dismayed to learn that he only survived three years after Dolabra had saved him “The other person I was wondering about was Doctor Dunn, the pathologist.” She continued, pressing through this new disappointment. “Ah yes, I remember you mentioning him in your report,” Bryden replied, “Well he is very much still under our employ, he was caught up in a rather unpleasant business down in Kharngorn, since then he’s been working with the forensic team down in Sernevi, I think that’s quite close to where you live, is it not?” Sophie nodded, “I live in Vystral Paard,” she expanded, “Sernevi is only a few hours down the road.” “I thought so.” Bryden said, “And in a few years’ time you may well get to work with him again, once you get your detective constable qualification, a years’ placement somewhere fairly close to home Sernevi is pretty common with new officers on the detective side.” Sophie’s eyes lit up at this, “Does that mean…” she managed to blurt out through the rising excitement at the implication of what the commander had just said. “That’s right, constable,” Bryden smiled, “Your placement in Velhadrogahn may have been curtailed, and rest assured that once the dust settles you will be given another one, but the work you did in a completely unprecedented situation was nothing short of exemplary. At this very moment, brand new protocols are being distributed to every police division on Kashmir, laying out what to do in the event of unexpected time displacement, based upon the reports you and your mentor have provided.” He began rooting around in his folder, “Sergeant Demi, by the way, has provided you with a glowing performance review, I don’t think I have seen a mentor commendation letter quite so enthusiastic, and from what I know of Sergeant Demi, that in itself is quite something. I still want you to spend at least one more year as a junior constable, to get the necessary experience, but after that the course is open to you. In fact I am prepared to sign you up now for next year’s course.” Bryden pressed a button on the intercom unit on his desk, “Harry?” He spoke into the device, “Aye Donal, I’m here.” The Detective Chief Inspector’s voice crackled back through the speaker. “I have constable Bausch here with me now, if you could bring the paperwork through when you have a moment, we’ll get some of these wheels in motion.” “Aye, alright man, I’ll be with you in a bit, Batt out.” The DCI responded. “You’ll be familiar with DCI Batt, I’m sure.” Bryden said to Sophie, leaning back in his chair once more, “he’s in charge of the crime detection side of the force, below me, so you’ll be working under him once you get your qualification.” “This is all so much…” Sophie replied, a little taken aback at this level of praise, and unsure of how to respond to it, “I mean of course I’m happy to accept my place on the detective constable program but… I mean I didn’t really do anything in the end, did I? After all that we tried to help, in the end it was Dolabra that stopped Roberts.” “I can’t disagree with that.” Bryden said, his tone suddenly solemn, “But that, Miss Bausch, is quite possibly the most important thing you achieved, from my own, admittedly sentimental, point of view. Back when I was your age, Katar Dolabra was my best friend, we really were quite inseparable. I believe to this day that he was a good man, but the system was broken before he came into it, and it chewed him up and ground him down. He did some terrible things, he betrayed my friendship, he betrayed the force, he betrayed this world, but worst of all he betrayed himself. And then he died before he ever had the chance to redeem himself. You gave him that chance, Sophie.” Sophie was thrown by this personal touch, the only time she had ever been addressed by her first name by anyone above the rank of sergeant. “Katar gave his life so that the world could heal, so that the force could have the chance to fight on the right side of justice, and so that I could live, and Hayley, and our unborn child, and DCI Batt, and countless other lives that were snuffed out in that alternative timeline. For that, I will always be grateful to you, and giving you the opportunity to prove yourself as a detective is the least I could do. You’ve already managed to be the youngest constable in the last fifty years, I believe the record for youngest detective inspector is thirty; I’ll be following your career with great interest, so I’m expecting to see that record broken.” “Yes sir, I’ll do my absolute best.” Sophie promised. “I don’t doubt that for a minute.” Bryden chuckled, “And if you have any suggestions for us, any ideas for how things could be improved around here, my door is always open, from your efforts working against the old system in this case you clearly have a good grip on fair policing.” “I certainly will, sir, I don’t seem to have a problem with putting my thoughts across to people in authority these days.” Sophie said. “Actually,” She interrupted herself, a thought suddenly striking her, as the door opened and DCI Batt entered, a ream of papers under one arm “now you mention it, I’d been thinking for a while about these uniforms…”

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And so Kashmir continued to drift its way through the depths of space, a planet that, over the past six years had seen so much turmoil and danger, from alien invasions, superweapons, and threats to time that lay almost beyond comprehension. As it spun peacefully through the infinite void, it would be conceivable at least to think that perhaps these traumatic events might truly be at an end.

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The End
Don't worry, I'm not stopping here long...

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DukeNukem 2417
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Re: The Second Time Around *PART FIVE ADDED 09/12/17*

Postby DukeNukem 2417 » Sun Dec 10, 2017 5:26 pm

Apologies for not posting sooner---definitely a great ending to the story (well, not counting the epilogue you mentioned), and a great close-out to the almost decade-long saga of Kashmir. 8-)
Through the darkness of future past,
The magician longs to see....
One chants out between two worlds:
"Fire...walk with me."

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bad geminton
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Re: The Second Time Around *COMPLETED 17/12/17*

Postby bad geminton » Sun Dec 17, 2017 1:43 pm

Epilogue: By DukeNukem 2417

A silence had settled over the sands of Kashmir. Where once there had been chaos, now there was only tranquility. Where battle had shook the land, only stillness. The cancer of corruption, so rampant within the Planetary Police Force, had been excised, replaced with efficiency and actual justice.

A lot had changed in three years. More than most could possibly suspect.

The most startling change, in all of that time, was that---barring some rather unique incidents---there had been no sign of any incarnation of the Time Lord known as the Doctor anywhere on the planet. Before the last “big one”, the Eleventh Doctor had made that point clear, on an orbital defense platform above the planet's surface: “After this, none of us are to ever return to Kashmir. No matter what the outcome, no matter who lives and who dies---when this is over, the planet Kashmir is off-limits to every Doctor on this station."

Those last five words, and their interpretation, became rather....significant......
--------------------------------
On the outskirts of Vystral Paard, a sound that Kashmir hadn't heard in a good long while filled the air: the unmistakable wheezing, groaning VWROP, VWROP of a TARDIS “landing”. Anyone catching sight of the craft may have been surprised to see the familiar blue police box....

….none more surprised than who emerged from within it, once it had fully “faded-in”.

“It's been....what, three years, now?” The young man who spoke those words looked to be in his late 20s, or early 30s---not one hair on his head was out of place, the buttons on his red-trimmed black jacket still shone, and his vest (worn over a dark brown shirt, this time, as opposed to the usual grey) looked as immaculate as the rest of his clothes. “I just got finished dealing with the Master, and now this....” He frowned. “And not even a welcoming----”

The VWROP, VWROP of another TARDIS cut him off.

“.....committee.....I have a feeling I'm going to regret even thinking I was the only one who got called out here.”

As with the first TARDIS, the new one---slightly taller, with a slightly more vibrant shade of blue to it, and the St. John's Ambulance logo looking a bit fresher on the door---faded in completely before its doors were opened, by a figure who bore a striking contrast to the first: 5'10”, with vauge hints of both Asian and Germanic ancestry in his facial features. A shock of vibrant red hair stood in contrast to the more natural dark hair around it. The newcomer's wardrobe was slightly more utilitarian, as well---a thigh-length coarse brown coat, with question-mark buttons over the pockets and darker-brown trim at the sleeve cuffs, pocket edges and lapels, worn over a dark green vest, white shirt and grey trousers---as was the faint hint of 5'o'clock shadow on his chin....

….but it was unmistakable. This man, just like the first, was a Doctor.

“....well, this is new. Or old. If I've been here before---” The newcomer stopped, locking eyes with the other Doctor, still standing by his own TARDIS. “Oh.”

“Yeah.” The first nodded. “You got the note, didn't you?” He held up a piece of paper.

“.....how did you....” The newcomer reached into a coat pocket, pulling out a similar---no, the exact same note.

“Found it taped to my TARDIS door. You?”

“.....taped to the viewscreen on the console.” The newcomer frowned. “.....which incarnation are you? How many regenerations?”

“Haven't, yet. You?”

“......twelfth incarnation.” All at once, the newcomer's eyes widened. “I was here before....”

“As me.” The First (by his own cycle, at least) Doctor chuckled. “Glad to see that I can still jog a few memories from my future incarnation....”

“....right,” the Twelfth Doctor replied. “And, ah, how far into your life are you, exactly?”

“I never thought I'd have to ask myself that question,” the First Doctor chuckled. “Post-Dracula, pre-Blackstar.”

“Right, right....” The Twelfth Doctor glanced at the gleaming cityscape before them. “The note says we're supposed to go into, ah...Vystral Paard, which I'm hoping is this city---”

“Hoping? The TARDIS wouldn't have landed you here if it wasn't!”

“...ah, well, the thing is, the TARDIS has been....a bit.....tempermental, over the past few.....months...” The Twelfth Doctor sheepishly glanced at the blue police box he'd emerged from. “It's been....interesting....to say the least. Ran into the Master myself, a few days ago.....”

“Really? Does he still do the whole Moriarty thing?”

“.....to be honest, she's been a bit more actively insane this time around. Nearly lost a good friend because of her last scheme, to be honest.”

“Sorry to hear that....ah, before we go on, quick question. At any point before you showed up here, were you injured in such a way that would've forced you to regenerate, but had a fit of pique and decided you just weren't going to go through with it?”

“What?! No! I....why, are you?”

“Like I said, pre-Blackstar. I know better than to fight my own fate.”

“.....right. Yeesh, the Blackstar....from my perspective, that's....ancient history, almost---”

“I'm hoping that I'm not considered ancient history!”

The Twelfth Doctor arched an eyebrow at the First. “....we weren't summoned here to argue about who has the better regeneration or anything, were we?” he muttered.

“....unless the Monk is messing with me, probably not.” The First Doctor chuckled. “You mentioned that the note said we were supposed to land outside Vystral Paard.....and oh, joy, the text is changing.” He rolled his eyes. “Psychic paper strikes again.....”

“You don't carry your own?” the Twelfth Doctor inquired.

“Jack tried to talk me into it, but I told him that he could have that gimmick.” The First Doctor grinned. “Back to the matter at hand, though.....” He glanced at the note. “We're supposed to go to a diner in Vystral Paard, apparently. There's no address.....wait, hang on, that's showing up now.” He arched an eyebrow. “....I have a feeling that we're going to need to be as inconspicuous as possible,” he mused. “The, ah, hair thing may be slightly counter-intuitive to......”

He let himself trail off; the shock of red hair on the Twelfth Doctor's head changed to match the rest.

“....please tell me you don't use up any regenerative energy just for that little trick,” he intoned. “If it's some kind of dye job, that's one thing, but to use up part of your possible regenerations just to get your hair to change color---”

“It's thought-sensitive dye,” the Twelfth Doctor assured him, finally grinning. “A gift from a friend.”

A few minutes later, the pair were well on their way into Vystral Paard, stopping every so often to check the street signs and make sure they were headed in the right direction. Nobody seemed to pay the two any mind; indeed, most of the talk was about a “strange incident” that had apparently occurred a few days prior. The First Doctor initially paid no heed to the remarks---until someone mentioned “nobody vanishes for three and a half hours without any explanation!”

“....I think something big happened here,” he mused, nudging the Twelfth Doctor's arm. “Something we've only just missed.”

“You think that's why we're here? To tie up a loose end?”

“I hope not. Having to clean up after someone else has never been a favorite past-time of mine....”

The pair eventually found the diner---a slightly run-down establishment, just off the main bypass road of the city. “And we parked at the wrong end,” the First Doctor sighed. “Lucky us....” Tables and chairs had been piled on the backs of transports within the car park; the windows had been blacked out with tar paper, and a red scooter rested conspicuously against the building. “....this doesn't look ominous at all, does it?” he mused.

“Perfectly safe,” the Twelfth Doctor lied. “Empty building, on the far side of town...nothing to worry about.”

“Glad to see my sarcasm hasn't improved with age,” the First Doctor chuckled. “This is the address from the paper, though......guess we might as well go inside and see what's what.”

The Twelfth Doctor frowned. “....all the chairs are out here,” he mused, “and you want to go in there.”

“....the note said to go into the building,” the First Doctor reminded him. “Not hang out in the car park.”

“....fair enough.” The Twelfth Doctor sighed. “We'll open the doors together, on three.”

“Assuming they're not locked.....one.” The First Doctor planted a hand on one of the door handles.

“Two.” The Twelfth Doctor followed suit.

“THREE.” Both Time Lords pushed inwards.....

…..and were stunned into silence by what they beheld.

The interior of the diner looked nothing like the exterior---whereas outside, everything was grimy and out of use, the inside was completely clean and spotless. Every table, chair and utensil had been polished and washed, and nothing was out of place---including every neon-purple hair of the metallic-skinned head of the gynoid waitress behind the counter. “Table for two Doctors?” she inquired, grinning.

“......yeah,” the Twelfth Doctor replied, somewhat thrown off. “Can we just, ah....sit anywhere?”

“Not a problem.” The waitress winked. “Just have a seat, and I'll be with you in a sec.”

The Twelfth Doctor glanced at the First. “.....this place has been closed for a while, hasn't it?”

“Pretty sure it was closed the last time I was here,” the First Doctor replied. “Yet here it is, up and running like it's been this way all along.” He made his way to a table near a window. “....one of them was here, too....one of the other Doctors, I mean. Native to this reality.”

Without waiting for an explanation, he tapped the side of his head. “Psychic link.”

The Twelfth Doctor took a seat, glancing around. “Was it as clean as it is now, when the other one was here?”

The First Doctor nearly replied, but the waitress' appearance next to the table cut him off. “....ah, right,” he began, “I have no idea how we're even going to pay for anything here, so---”

“Seeing as how neither of you complained about me not looking like a native,” the gynoid replied, “anything you want off the menu is on the house.” She grinned again. “And for the record, I'm not even an actual employee of this place---and you can leave the Sonic Screwdrivers in your pockets,” she quickly added, before either Time Lord could move. “I do work for the person who called you both here, and you can definitley count him as an ally....”

“...fair enough.” The First Doctor sighed. “I actually remember you, now...from the whole thing at Kestroth's Arena.....Galatea, right?”

“Correctamundo.” The gynoid grinned. “The uniform was his idea...'authenticity'....” She rolled her eyes.

“So now all we have to do is wait for your employer.” The Twelfth Doctor leaned back in his seat, staring up at the ceiling. “Hopefully, he won't keep us waiting here for long.....” He glanced at the table, where a glass filled with soda and ice had appeared without being placed down. “....did you do that?” he asked, turning his attention to Galatea.

“I might have. Or it might've been the scaled-down transport discs built into the table. Fun stuff.”

The First Doctor said nothing, instead sipping from the glass that had appeared out of nowhere in front of his own seat. “So we're just supposed to sit here and wait?” he inquired, after another sip. “Kind of boring....”

“I'm still wondering if us being here has anything to do with what people were murmuring about in the street,” the Twelfth Doctor added. “Some big disappearance, or something....” He glanced at Galatea. “That is why we're here, isn't it?”

“I plead the Fifth,” the gynoid deadpanned. “And please don't go into the 'we're not even on Earth' argument.”

“Seeing as how this planet has dealt with time-altering weapons, planet-destroying superweapons and an alliance of villains intent on destroying this reality's Doctor, 'I plead the Fifth' isn't really enough for me,” the First Doctor replied, not smiling. “And unless I'm sadly mistaken, one of Kashmir's moons was destroyed at some point...and yet everyone who had been on the orbital platform was transported to that exact same moon before said orbital platform had been wiped out.....”

He stopped. Noticed the booth on the far end of the room, near the window, was occupied.

“.....he told me not to draw attention to the booth,” Galatea apologized. “I didn't think you'd notice this soon---”

“Nor did I,” the occupant of the far booth called out. “Might as well let them see who 'your employer' is, now.”

The First and Twelfth Doctors glanced at Galatea, then each other, before rising from their seats and heading to the far booth. “You obviously have plenty of questions for me,” the voice continued. “Had cirucmstances been kinder, I would've told you all the details before you arrived....alas, that luxury is one that I couldn't afford, even considering the role you played in this planet's salvation. Things here have only just begun to settle down, again....I'd considered calling more of you in, but Galatea talked me out of it—so many of you landing outside of a major city, so soon after last time, would've prompted....speculation.”

“So you just called me,” the First Doctor mused. “Well, us....” He glanced at the Twelfth Doctor.

“Indeed. And again, I apologize from the bottom of my heart for not telling you both more details sooner...but in times like these, one can never be too careful about disseminating information.”

Both Doctors stood before the booth. “You'll want to sit down, for the majority of this discussion.”

After a moment's hesitation, the First and Twelfth Doctors sat down opposite the individual who called them to Kashmir. “You were expecting someone different?”

“.....you're me,” the First Doctor realized. “An incarnation of me, from this reality....”

The weathered face of the other man, partially hidden by a grey beard, was at once alien and familiar to both Time Lords seated across from him. “I am. And I had just finished dealing with some....unpleasantness...that required tending to, with no other Doctors present for the task.” His voice, despite sounding as weary as his face looked, was warm---a stark contrast to the leather jacket and boot covers, bandolier and somewhat shabby velvet waistcoat he wore, all of which gave him the look of a soldier, or a mercenary. “Thanks to one of my incarnations making the decision that no Doctors present at the start of the last mission would be allowed to return here,” he continued, “I was the only one 'allowed' to aid the people of Kashmir---”

“But what happened?” the Twelfth Doctor prompted. “What did you help them with?”

“....a small paradox,” the older Doctor replied. “A minor criminal sought to change his own history by taking advantage of a time distortion, but his plans fell apart due to a lack of foresight, the actions of two officers of the Planetary Police Force---phenomenal individuals, both of them---and a small bit of...influence....from me.”

The Doctors in the other seat stared at him.

“The criminal in question was named Roberts,” the older Doctor explained. “When the time distortion opened, it sent Roberts and the officers back in time....it all gets a bit complicated after that. Essentially, the distortion caused a paradox that caused the anomaly itself---creating another paradox in the process.”

Both Doctors across from him nodded. “And I thought it was going to be complicated,” the First muttered.

“It probably sounded even more insane to the two cops who were in the middle of it all,” the Twelfth reasoned.

“One of them understood far sooner than the other,” the older Doctor admitted. “Her nature as an android was a factor in that, of course....the same factor that allowed Galatea to grasp the basics of it.”

“As flattered as I am to get brought up here,” Galatea mused, “this discussion is between you three....”

“Indeed. And there's still the matter of the individual who allowed me to intervene in the first place....”

The doors to the diner opened, and the older Doctor sighed. “My exit cue,” he murmured. “Gentlemen...”

He rose from his seat, nodding to the as-yet unseen newcomer. The two exchanged words in the aisle; the new arrival said something that caused the Doctor to bow his head, but after a few seconds, he nodded and made his way to the exit. The doors closed, a strangely dissonant tingling of bells breaking the silence....

….and a second later, the new arrival to the diner took his seat.

Galatea rolled her eyes and made an exaggerated throat-clearing noise. “May I present the individual who asked me not to mention the booth, told me that the waitress uniform would look 'authentic', and who asked that both of you be called here for this conversation....”

She shook her head, trying not to giggle. “.....can I just get the introduction over with, already?”

“Might as well. No sense in keeping them waiting.”

“Thanks. Doctor, and Doctor.....meet the man who brought the Doctors together to save Kashmir three times.”

She gestured to the seat opposite them. “Formerly known as Oberon.....currently known as Kilroy.”

Apart from his attire being a contrast to that of the Doctor who had just left---every bit of clothing on him was colored white, with either gold or silver trim---the man called Kilroy looked to be many years younger than the Time Lord---except for his eyes. There was a sense of tiredness, of weariness, in those eyes....and something that may have been sadness, as well. “SO. You're here, I'm here, after nearly getting lost on a side-street....”

He glanced at Galatea, who was shaking her head. “Right, right, not the best time to mention it.....”

“Is now a good time to tell us why we're here?” the First Doctor inquired. “And why we're here, specifically?”

“While we're at it,” the Twelfth added, “why is the inside of this place new, and the outside—--”

Kilroy held up both hands. “One at a time, please.....getting here took a lot out of me. Elizabeth was otherwise occupied, so I had to resort to....alternative methods.....” Both Doctors noticed that he was wearing a glove on his right hand. “Three years is a long time, for a planet like this.....the Dagger of Time, the Destroyer of Worlds and even the Oblivion Imperative were all stopped by eleven Doctors, but a low-life criminal who was in the wrong place at the right time---possibly the right place at the wrong time, or some other permutation of that tired old cliché---anyway, some low-life criminal who took advantage of a convenient time distortion very nearly changed the entire history of the planet.....”

He sighed. “....and the only Doctor on hand was the one who just left, who will very shortly regenerate and, in less than five minutes, forget he was ever here to begin with.”

Neither Doctor could think of anything to say in the face of that.

Almost on cue, a message began to play: “After this, none of us are to ever return to Kashmir. No matter what the outcome, no matter who lives and who dies---when this is over, the planet Kashmir is off-limits to every Doctor on this station."

“Eleven said that,” Kilroy explained. “The Eleventh Doctor, I mean....Eleventh from this reality.”

“.....and why did he say it?” the First Doctor inquired. “What had happened---”

“The Oblivion Imperative,” Kilroy replied. “They wanted every Doctor in this reality to be destroyed....and to get them all here, they basically removed Kashmir from its proper place in time. The last time the Doctors had been summoned, time itself had been 'stolen'---before that, the Dagger of Time was going to be weaponized by whoever could get a hold of it first. Three instances where groups of the Doctor's most dangerous foes---and a few of my own---had gathered, to cause havoc and battle the Doctor.....with innocent lives in the balance each and every single time.” His voice dropped to a whisper. “....not all of those lives were spared, or saved. A few were altered, irreparably, and too many were lost.”

Galatea's hand reached out, gently touching his shoulder.

“Katar Dolabra---formerly the corrupt chief of police, reduced to manning a Lost and Found station until the tumors in his head were made to expand and grow just enough to kill him,” he intoned. “Officer 2 Brandon, an officer who schemed to use the Weeping Angels to his own ends, until they turned on him. Jark Lesthaa'l, Nelth and Lakitya---all of them, inhabitants of Altrax Beta, and all of them killed over the course of the Dalek occupation of that moon. Kid Zero, real name Elliot Falken....displaced from his native reality, but determined to be a hero even to the end of his life....Corrinne, Geoffrey, Dahlrhoon.....and far too many others to count, all of whom lost their lives each and every time the Doctors came to Kashmir. And Georgie, left brain-damaged by the Master's psychic projector.....”

He took a deep breath. “All of those casualties were caused when many of the Doctor's enemies gathered to sow destruction and mayhem. All of them died when eleven Doctors were here....”

Again, a deep breath. “.....and one man nearly changed Kashmir's history, with no Doctor here to stop him.”

The First Doctor stared at the table. “.....you're saying we have to take the job, now?” he quietly asked. “That my enitre regenerative line will have to---”

“You,” Kilroy stated, “have yet to step aboard the Blackstar. Any attempt to change your fate would do untold damage to your timeline....and his.” He nodded at the Twelfth Doctor. “Most would be willing to dismiss what happened with Roberts and the time distortion as a one-off, but I know all too well that it, or something similar to it, could very easily happen again. The Eleventh Doctor was serious when he swore that no incarnation of his on the station with him could visit this planet again.....”

He paused, waiting for the Doctors to “get it”.

“......there was another Doctor here last time,” the First Doctor mused. “I think he was the Twelfth, from this reality.....” His eyes widened. “.....of course.” A grin spread across his face. “Of course....it was brilliant!

“Clever,” the Twelfth Doctor agreed. “Really, really clever....he didn't even realize it at the time?”

“Not until the very end. Without even being aware of it, he'd left himself a loophole ensuring that, even with his promise, Kashmir would always be able to rely on the Doctor.” Kilroy sighed. “And all of that was nearly undone by some lowlife idiot named Buck Roberts.”

“From what we've been able to gather,” Galatea explained, “this Roberts character managed to alter history after traveling to the past, allowing Katar Dolabra to stay in power as the head of the Planetary Police Force, among other things. The officers sent back---Sophie Bausch and Demi---had very little to work with in terms of taking down Roberts and setting things right....but with just that one Doctor on their side, they were able to sort it all out---”

“And we all know how that turned out,” Kilroy finished. “Distortion causes paradox, et al.”

“So where do we figure into this?” the First Doctor inquired.

Kilroy leaned forward, his fingers steepled. “You were the first 'unbound' Doctor---”

“Wait, 'unbound'?”

“....unbound by this reality. It's a term I found useful when referring to those Doctors who weren't 'from around here'. In any case....you were the first of the 'unbound' Doctors to reach Kashmir, and I have a feeling that the Oblivion Imperative didn't just select you at random. You were....singled out, possibly.”

“Meaning that my future incarnations will be the ones to protect Kashmir?”

“Meaning that any 'unbound' Doctors will be able to fill the part, in addition to future incarnations of the Doctor from this very reality. And before you ask about all the other planets and star systems and space stations out there, it would do you well to remember that Kashmir has suffered through no less than three incidents of megalomaniacs, time-altering weaponry and planet-destroying devices being fought over....and the third time nearly ripped the entire planet out of its temporal allignment altogether. This reality's Doctor has many more battles ahead of him.....”

He paused. “....or her, as the case will soon be.....”

“I've already been a woman,” the Twelfth Doctor stated. “Twice. First time, it was interesting...second time, too busy trying not to get dragged into something I wanted nothing to do with to care.”

The First Doctor glanced at him. “Ah, spoiler warning, maybe?”

“I left it vague!”

Kilroy cleared his throat, getting both Doctors' attention once again. “As I was saying, this reality's Doctor has many more battles ahead of...her, as the case will soon be, meaning that she and her future incarnations may not always be available to defend the planet. As such, the protection of Kashmir by outside forces will be delegated, on a case-by-case basis and only if the need is absolute, to 'unbound' Doctors, up to and including either of you two or any incarnations between.”

“.....I guess that's fair,” the First Doctor mused. “Even with the whole Blackstar thing still looming over me---”

The Twelfth Doctor glanced at him, frowning.

“.....though I guess I already know how that one turns out,” the First admitted. “And who exactly gets to make the call to bring in 'unbound' Doctors?”

“Not me,” Kilroy admitted. “Not anymore. The reality I currently call my home is.....” He sighed. “Things have become far more complicated there, since I last set foot on Kashmir. A jaunt like this is taking me away from far too many matters that need tending to, even with my current status....”

“You're welcome to come back any time you want,” Galatea assured him. “What happened was in the past---”

“You say that as if I was someone else,” Kilroy countered. “No excuse---no possible reasoning can justify what I did, what I tried to do.....” He turned away. “....I should've stayed out of it all. I should've just stayed away, wandered the Earth, all that nonsense....”

The Doctors exchanged concerned looks, but neither felt like asking what, exactly, had happened.

“.....anyway. Back on point. My situation is complicated, Galatea is in charge of....well, she's got my old job, pretty much, and I can't just keep popping off to here whenever I feel like it. As such....” He chuckled. “The irony of this is incredible, if I do say so myself.....there's a waystation, set up at Kestroth's Arena. Any threat to Kashmir---be it from this reality or another---will be monitored and analyzed to determine whether or not you, or any other 'unbound' Doctors, should be summoned here to deal with it.”

“And who's going to be doing the monitoring or the summoning?” the Twelfth Doctor inquired.

“Another upstanding officer of the KPPF,” Galatea replied. “Jennifer Bracewell---a gynoid, like me. Well, she prefers to go fleshtone, rather than metallic....but that hair. Bright green! I mean, seriously---”

“I had bright green hair a few incarnations ago,” the Twelfth Doctor cut in. “Seventh, I think it was....”

The First Doctor stared at him. “You'd better hope I forget that before we both leave here,” he muttered.

“It's not that big of a spoiler!”

“If I may interject, for a moment....” Kilroy drummed his fingers on the tabletop, staring at the two Doctors. “As Galatea just mentioned, Officer Bracewell will be manning the waystation at the Arena to ensure that, if the need is great, Kashmir will in fact have a Doctor 'on-call' to protect it. You two, and the incarnations between your own, will be among many from alternate realities and universes---and before you ask how one waystation on a desert planet could possible be able to contact any of you....” He grinned. “Let's just say a few old friends gave me a parting gift the last time I was here, and leave it at that.”

“Gee, that doesn't sound ominous at all,” the First Doctor muttered. “The only reason I'm not more creeped out by that is the fact that you're on our side......you are on our side, right?”

“You'd have found out rather quickly if I wasn't.”

“.....okay, that was ominous,” the Twelfth Doctor mused. “But thanks for clearing it up.”

“While we're on the subject of 'clearing up',” the First Doctor mused, “the other Doctor---the one who left here earlier—-said something about telling us all the details, and such....why he was here first, instead of you, and all that. I've....well, we've been wondering that ever since---”

“You don't know if I've been wondering that,” the Twelfth Doctor lied.

“.....Time Lord psychic link. I couldn't not know if I wanted to.” The First Doctor shook his head. “Anyway...”

“If I were to say 'I can't tell you' or go back into the 'it's complicated' excuse, you'd either want to throttle me or just up and leave,” Kilroy admitted. “Even though it is, in fact, complicated and in all honesty, I wish I didn't have to tell you....” He shook his head. “There are forces at work in the multiverse,” he intoned, “far more dangerous than the Oblivion Imperative. Forces that would not hesitate, even for a second, to turn this planet into a charnel house, a testing bed for some insane scheme, or any horrific scenario in between. Ever since the destruction of the reality I once knew, I have tried to keep those forces at bay---all three missions to Kashmir being the most...high-profile attempts in that regard....”

He closed his eyes. “....yet every time I've been to this planet, I have seen not only how relying on the Doctor has worked so far, but how badly it could fail. And if anyone else were to realize that.....”

“We couldn't tell you all the details directly,” Galatea explained. “Even with the Imperative gone, there are still a lot of powerful idiots out there who would love to add 'I killed the Doctor' to their resume, and if either of you wound up bumped off before you returned to your reality---”

“Metacrisis and regenerational paradox,” the Twelfth Doctor finished, his tone grim. “Yeesh....”

“Thus, the cloak and dagger routine,” Kilroy finished. “Summoning just the two of you, with the psychic paper, explaining what has gone on and how I hope things proceed in the future. Anything more, and we'd be risking multiple casualties.” He glanced out the window (which, despite the exterior blacking-out, was inexplicably clear and allowed a perfect view of the street) with a sigh. “I thought sorting out all the nonsense with Fazbear Entertainment and Afton Robotics was enough of a headache,” he murmured.

The Doctors both noticed the view from the window (and how impossible it was) at the same time. “Ah, about that window,” the First Doctor mused, “and, really, this entire building---”

“A minor, localized and controlled time distortion on my part,” Kilroy admitted. “Perception filters would've only disguised the interior---a close inspection would've shattered the illusion completely. As soon as Galatea and I leave, the place goes back to its original....well, current state. Nothing sinister about it at all.”

“I can live with that,” the Twelfth Doctor mused. “And as for the two of us?”

“You two,” Kilroy replied, “will be allowed to go on your merry way---you'll remember meeting me, here, but not each other. Nor will your past self remember any 'spoilers' inadvertently revealed by your latest incarnation, thus preventing paradoxes that could range from minor to massively annoying. The locals won't have any particular memory of either of you two being here, thus maintaining the secrecy of my efforts.....I've planned for everything, to ensure that no paradoxes and uncontrollable time distortions will occur, once we all leave.”

“Including the red scooter out in the parking lot?” the First Doctor queried.

“....that was there when the two of you got here,” Galatea mused. “I thought it looked funny.”

“Funny is good,” the Twelfth Doctor admitted. “Funny doesn't get you killed....most of the time.” He grinned. “I think it's safe to say that the future of Kashmir is in safe hands....whether those be my hands, yours---” He glanced at the First Doctor. “---or any other Doctor's who may end up here.”

“.....a bit clunky,” the First Doctor mused, “but it works all the same.”

With that, the two shook hands---first, with each other, and then with Kilroy. “Thanks for calling us out here to explain everything,” the First Doctor stated. “If you need me at any point between now and the Blackstar, I'll do my best to be here.”

“Same here,” the Twelfth Doctor added, “minus the bit about the Blackstar.”

“No need to rub it in,” the First reminded him. “Still, if the call ever comes in, I'll show up.”

“Glad to hear it, from both of you. Oh, and about me being the one who called the Doctors here three times: it was technically Major Tom's job, the first time....” Kilroy chuckled. “He'll probably get annoyed if you try to bring it up. In any case, you two had best be off---timelines to maintain, worlds to save, all that good stuff.”

“And as for us remembering what we've heard here?” the First Doctor inquired.

Galatea and Kilroy exchanged a bemused look. “You won't remember it,” Galatea reminded him.

“Twelve might,” Kilroy added, “but you probably won't.”

“Gee, thanks...”

“Eh, maybe we'll meet each other again somewhere down the road,” the Twelfth Doctor assured him. “For now, though...looking back, on what I did when I was you, I can't say that I have any regrets.”

The First Doctor nodded. “I'm just glad knowing that my future will be in safe hands.”

The two Doctors grinned, shaking each other's hands again. “I guess we'd better be off, now,” the First Doctor mused. “I don't really have an estimate for how much wiggle room there is in my timeline...”

“Wiggle room?” the Twelfth Doctor echoed, arching an eyebrow.

“You know what I mean....”

The two headed down the street, still conversing; Kilroy couldn't help but nod and smile as he watched them leave. “Between them, and the rest of the 'unbound' Doctors,” he mused, “I think Kashmir will be a lot safer and more secure in the coming years than it's ever been before.”

“So....where does that leave us?”

Galatea's question earned her a bemused look. “You have a position at the ALPA to get back to---”

“And you're going to walk the Earth? Again?”

“Replace 'Earth' with 'multiverse', and you've got it. I haven't rescinded that offer yet, you know...about you going with me.” Kilroy turned away. “There are a lot of places that don't have a Doctor, after all. Evil doesn't confine itself to just one planet.....Faceless is still out there, for one thing.”

“One day, he won't be,” Galatea quietly replied. “We won't have to keep chasing him forever.”

Kilroy smiled. “I think we're both looking forward to that day....but for now, it's time to close up.” He headed to the back of the building, motioning for Galatea to follow him. “Remember, the building will maintain its current interior state until we both leave,” he reminded her. “Pretty sure you won't want to be in here for that bit.”

“Right behind you as always, oh fearless leader,” Galatea deadpanned. “Time for us to head home....”

THE E---

WAIT!

Galatea groaned, and Kilroy exhaled a grunting, exasperated breath. “Oh, for the love of....”

A red-and-black clad figure was clearly visible through the windows, trying (and failing) to unchain his scooter from something or other. “You two always do this,” he called out, sounding more annoyed than anything. “You do the big final speech, and then you do the setup for the grand finale, and I'm off doing my thing and I almost get stuck here while you're on your spiel!”

“It wasn't my fault last time, Wade Wilson, and it's not my fault this time,” Kilroy replied, sighing. “What was it this time? Pit-fighting? Trying to expand your market to take on contracts here? Or just volunteering to spoil every movie released between when your film came out and December 31, 2020?”

“Can you not call me that when we're out here?” Wade Wilson, better known and....acknowledged, at the very least, as Deadpool---scowled behind his mask. “And for the record, the sequel to 'my film' is out next year, and I haven't offered to spoil that to anyone---and don't say it's just because the filming for it isn't done....OH, COME ON!” He pulled on the scooter again, only to lose his grip on it and fall backwards onto his rear end. “Is this thing glued in place, or what?!”

“Why did you even bring that here?” Galatea cut in. “You have a teleporter---”

“Not in the movie,” Deadpool corrected. “At least, not yet....and don't act like you didn't know this is here just to give me a convenient excuse to show up for the fake-out ending!”

The gynoid rolled her eyes. “You know, not everything needs to be explained by breaking the fourth wall.”

“But it's more fun that way!” Deadpool insisted. “The author can vouch for that---”

“He's got more than enough on his plate,” Kilroy stated. “You should know that by now.....in any case, we're about to leave, and whether or not your scooter is with us, I can assure you that you most definitely will be.”

Deadpool tried, one last time, to free the scooter from where it had been lashed to the building, and gave up after he nearly fell face-first into the glass window. “.....fair enough. I concede my defeat at the hands of a superior motor vehicle, blah blah blah....” He went around the scooter, giving it a savage kick as he passed by it. “And for the record, that thing isn't even mine. Pretty sure it's a rental, or---”

“You stole it.” Galatea stared at him, frowning. “You stole a scooter just to---”

“I DID NOT STEAL IT! It's a rental! I mean, I don't know if they take Canadian money here, and they may have been yelling at me to finish filling out the insurance paperwork, but still---”

“Just leave the thing where it is.” Kilroy shook his head, not even trying to avoid smiling. “I'm guessing you heard every bit of our conversation with the Doctors, while you were waiting for the 'fake-out ending', then?”

“.....maybe.”

Galatea groaned again. “You really suck at lying, Wade.”

“Do not. And it's Deadpool. Would've been Captain Deadpool, but everyone's favorite star-spangled man who was never an Agent of HYDRA already had a lock on that rank, so....yeah. And who are you to tell me I suck at anything? Last I hear, your big featured role is being part of our favorite writer's headcanon for WWE 2K17's Universe Mode, as the SmackDown General Manager---he didn't even remake you as a Create-a-Wrestler this time, and the GM never even shows up!”

“For the record, I have no problem being headcanon,” Galatea replied. “And don't turn that into a joke.”

“BOTH of you,” Kilroy interjected, “are missing the entire point of why we're here. Kashmir will never be left unguarded from this point on, even if this reality's Doctors aren't there to do the job....which means, hopefully, that we only have to make periodic visits from time to time---'we' meaning Galatea and I---”

“And deprive the fanbase of my ending cameos?” Deadpool countered. “Perish the thought....”

“You weren't even in 'The Second Time Around',” Galatea reminded him.

“And the War Doctor was, so why did he show up here? OH, right, bridging narrative gaps, and all, of course that makes sense....”

Kilroy smirked. “You want to talk about lame roles in 2K17, Deadpool,” he mused, “maybe we should go into detail about your feud with Jason David Frank for the ECW Television Championship. He's actually trying to fight Jean-Claude Van Damme in real life, you know....”

Galatea stared at him. “You're really going to stoop to his level?”

“Of course not. Just thought it'd be funny to bring it up....anyway, it has no bearing on the plot of this epilogue, and we really need to get going.” Kilroy glanced at the interior of the diner. “Y'know, I may actually miss this place, after we leave....the building will still be here, of course, but it won't look like this---”

“At least it isn't a TARDIS,” Deadpool chimed in. “I mean, cliché, much?”

Galatea and Kilroy both stared at him as if he'd just proclaimed himself to be the King of the Squirrels.

“....okay, probably a bad time to reference that episode. Still---”

A tear in the fabric of reality opened in front of the three, cutting off Deadpool's whinging.

“Rain check?” he offered.

“Not if we can help it,” Galatea teased. “Anything you need to get done before we leave, do it now....”

“....you know, for once, I can't think of anything that would be a great comedic punctuation for this part of the story,” Deadpool admitted. “I mean, if someone else picks up the whole 'Kashmir' concept and they do their own version, maybe I'll get a cameo in that ending---”

“That,” Kilroy cut in, “is highly unlikely.....at any rate, we need to be off.”

Galatea nodded. “So....this is it, then? Our last visit to Kashmir, ever?”

“End of an era,” Deadpool declared. “Fade to end title card, roll credits, all that jazz.”

Kilroy gave him an annoyed look, but couldn't help cracking a smile. “Don't think of it as an end....for our story here on Kashmir, it may very well be one. But for the people of Kashmir---their stories will go on long after we leave, after we've all been forgotten. For them, every new day is a new story.”

“You know, when you put it that way....it sounds a lot better,” Galatea admitted. “A lot more hopeful.”

“And a lot more like a sequel hook!” Deadpool quickly added.

Kilroy tried to glare at the masked mercenary, but couldn't bring himself to. “....I think it's time we left Kashmir to its fate.....and to its people.” He nodded, walking into the tear as Galatea and Deadpool followed him.

THE END (seriously!)


AUTHOR'S NOTE |
--------------------------
Never let it be said that Kashmir wasn't an ambitious project. Yes, there were missteps, and yes, parts of it were a bit clunky (specifically the parts I wrote---I hadn't yet “found my groove” as a writer), but at the time of its writing and posting, it was the single most ambitious thing I'd ever done.

Until Kashmir 2: Destroyer of Worlds, that is.

I can count, on the fingers of one hand, the number of people who stuck around through the entire trilogy who are also still on-forum: two. I, DukeNukem 2417, am very obviously still here, as is bad geminton, whose first submission for Kashmir was the Third Doctor's chapter. Throughout the history of the Kashmir series, he and I have worked together with other writers to craft this epic....and when it came time to end the series with Kashmir: The Oblivion Imperative, it was shaping up to be more of the same...except what was going to be a seven (give or take a few)-way split was, instead, basically divided up 70/20 between myself and bad geminton with help from TV21, CJP and Melkur in the end. I ended up writing or finishing eight chapters, with three done by bad geminton and one handled by Melkur. (The Second Doctor's chapter was started by TV21, picked up by CJP and then finished by, well, me.)

Thus, when bad geminton proposed writing a final chapter to the Kashmir saga, a spin-off featuring characters he'd written in his Third, Fourth and Ninth Doctors' chapters from K3 as well as a few from K1 and K2, I was only too happy to give him the seal of approval. The end result was the story that this very work serves as an epilogue to, The Second Time Around---a truly fitting conclusion to the tale, if ever there was one.

I do have a few regrets with the series as a whole: I never got to see what The Time Lord had in mind for the Eleventh Doctor's K3 chapter, for starters. Also, I'll admit that I completely botched the First Doctor's chapter in the original Kashmir---I haven't reread it since I posted it, and I probably never will. When I thought that a few writers (including bad geminton) were taking too long to get their chapters done, I went off on tirades and sent them angry PMs demanding they hurry the hell up. There was no excuse for me to lash out at any of them, and I wouldn't have blamed them for quitting or intentionally butchering their chapters as a result...

…..but through the fire and the flames, we carried on---all the way to 2014 (and 2015 for the repost).

The Kashmir story is done. There will be no further spin-offs, no “HD remakes” where I rewrite all the bits I had problems with, no retcon-filled prequel/reboots or anything of the sort. The Second Time Around, as well as this epilogue, are the definitive final chapters of the Kashmir saga.

Hopefully, for all of you here on the forum, it's been well worth the wait.

DukeNukem 2417.
Fan Fiction Moderator
Don't worry, I'm not stopping here long...

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bad geminton
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Re: The Second Time Around *Completed 17/12/17*

Postby bad geminton » Sun Dec 17, 2017 1:44 pm

Acknowledgements (By Bad Geminton)

And that's it, everyone! I hope those of you who have managed to read the story enjoyed it, and perhaps even a few people will be inspired to turn their own hands to writing for our fanfiction board, we could certainly do with a few more people contributing there.

I'd like to make a couple of special mentions, firstly I'd like to thank DukeNukem 2417 for writing the epilogue, I had the story as I wrote it planned out since the summer of 2015, but it was always my belief that, if this was to be the final instalment in the Kashmir saga, then as creator of the series, he should have the final word. It also seemed nice for it to be tied into the broader canon of the series. I am also grateful to him for creating the series in the first place, all of the Doctor Who related writing I have done over the past seven years has stemmed from that first Kashmir series in one way or another.

Secondly, I'd like to dedicate this story to the late John Hurt, a marvellous actor, who played a wonderful doctor, taken from us far too soon. He seemed the perfect choice of Doctor for this story, unfortunately marking the second time that the actor playing a Doctor Who character I'm using in one of my stories has died while the story was being written. So, as was the case with Nicholas Courtney in the Third Doctor's chapter of K2, The Second Time Around is presented in memory of Sir John Hurt.

Thirdly, on a lighter note, if anyone's interested in who I personally envisage playing our protagonist Sophie Bausch in this story, I've always seen her as being played by Bebe Cave, a very talented young actress, I'd recommend checking out some of her work. Of course as readers you are welcome to imagine anyone you like in the role, but (un)officially, that's who plays her.

Finally, I want to thank you, for reading this story, it represents two and a half years of work, albeit sporadically, and I put a lot of effort into making the characters and the world they inhabited as rich and complex as possible. Whether or not I succeeded in this is not for me to say, but hopefully you will have enjoyed the story I have tried to tell.

That is all I'd like to say, so consider this my final word on the story, officially signing off

Bad Geminton
Dec 2017
Don't worry, I'm not stopping here long...


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