The Second Time Around *PART FIVE ADDED 09/12/17*

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

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DukeNukem 2417
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Re: The Second Time Around *PART 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-)

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

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DukeNukem 2417
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Re: The Second Time Around *PART 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-)


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