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Esprit de Corps

Steed's Tale - "Esprit de Corps" - Chapter 08

Journal of Prince "Major" Jonathan Steed of Amber:
Based on a Scenario by Rain Donaldson
Written by: R. Cal Westray, Jr. in 1996.
Steed's history was written in 1994.

"Extraordinary crimes against the people and the state,
need to be avenged by agents extraordinary..."

Episode A3-8 - The Agency That Mother Built
"With a special thanks to John Peel and Dave Rogers for the foreword."

In which Steed is en garde
... and Mrs. Peel is on target.

Jonathan Steed believed in living a life as close as possible to perfection as humanly possible. He had spent most of his adult years determining what that meant as far as his own tastes went, and then proceeded to surround himself with possessions that pleased his eye, his ear, and his palate. This had left his Westminster Stable Mews flat decorated in a variety of conflicting styles, but never ceased to bring him satisfaction. Some people thought, for example, that the upended tuba filled with fresh flowers was perhaps a trifle too avant-garde for an English gentleman, but no one would dare say it to his face. His well-known impeccable manners and attire labeled him firmly as belonging to that vanishing breed of eccentrics, and if he chose to own a flower-filled tuba - well, then, there must be something inherently British about it.
To accompany his rather off-beat decor, Steed had evolved a near-perfect lifestyle. Unless he was on a case, he rose at eleven in the morning and then took a leisurely bath and shave. He seldom ate breakfast, but if there was a busy day ahead of him, he might take a light snack with his noontime pot of Earl Grey. He inevitably accompanied the pot by reading the 'Guardian' - perhaps less traditional than the 'London Times', but he preferred the reporting style.
His afternoons would then be spent in the pursuit of either culture or young ladies - or, preferably, cultured young ladies. The evenings - well, that depended on his social calendar and the young ladies already mentioned. He rarely retired to bed before one in the morning, and frequently much later. All in all, a comfortable and enjoyable existence.
On the other hand, without the benefit of his work, such a lifestyle could rapidly bore one to death - particularly a man such as Steed, who was used to courting danger. Though Steed worked somewhat irregularly, when he worked he put his heart into it and enjoyed his profession - although he regularly risked grave injury to life and limb in the process.
It was his work that made all things enjoyable for Steed and broke the otherwise routine pattern of his life.
This continued after his return to Amber. King Random replaced Mother and One-ten, in assigning him challenging cases. Uptown Amber and the Golden Circle Treaty cities replaced London for night life. The 'Amberian' replaced the 'Guardian' for standard reading material. Flora has provided occasional delivery of assorted papers from Shadow Earth, so the 'Guardian' frequently finds its way to Steed's room. Wherever Steed is, he adapts the environment to his lifestyle...

-John Peel and Dave Rogers

Emma has returned, I would have preferred better circumstances. I remember clearly her last words; over twenty five years ago Shadow Earth time, only fifteen years ago subjective time. "Always keep your bowler on in times of stress - and a watchful eye open for diabolical masterminds!" She kissed my cheek and turned to leave to be reunited with her husband, Peter Peel. He was a pilot whose plane crashed in the Amazonian jungles, years earlier. He returned, almost miraculously; I lost a partner and a dear friend. Tara was sent by Mother, that charming but gruff gentleman I reported to, to replace her. I spent years burying myself in my work. I could have found another Emma in another Shadow Earth, but I knew it wouldn't be the same.
She is here and she hasn't aged a day, that in itself is odd. Well, that doesn't change things. I would be a cad if she wakens and I don't have tea ready for her in less alien surroundings. I was going to take her to the infirmary in the TARDIS but the Doctor decided to leave us all on these damnable rocks.
Merlin decided that his mother Dara will take care of the innocent Shadow dwellers. Good, as long as I don't have to ask her. She may not be forgiving after we barged through her domain and Creed tried to kill her. Merlin left to coordinate things and smooth things over with Dara.
Corwin decided to leave, not wanting to confront Dara again; they still are not getting along. He still has unfinished business with Eric, he Trumps out.
Gabriel has leaped to the lowest rock, staring down into the Abyss. He is concerned about his father. No one else is, but no one will say that to Gabriel. He decides to stay.
That leaves Morganth, Suehprom, and myself. The others are scattered to the four corners. I suggest that we Trump to my quarters in Chaos. It is the closest jump we can make with little difficulty. I would prefer Castle Amber, but we need more power to make a jump like that. Since both are Chaos lords, they like the idea of going to Chaos.
I lay Mrs. Peel on the ground once again. Sorting through the Trumps, I withdraw the Trump of my quarters in Chaos I had nearly seven years ago. It was designed to look like my Westminster Mews flat. I place others in my jacket pocket for easy access later, returning the others to the deck.
I pick up Mrs. Peel and concentrate upon the Trump. It becomes cool to the touch and a rainbow portal opens into Chaos. We step through. Instead of my flat we have entered an abattoir. The place is heavily sound proofed and decorated with humanoid body parts - charming. Some body parts seem to be still alive, including a sink made of arms and hands. "I can only assume that this is no longer the first class compartment." 
We could contact someone in Chaos. Since Mandor is hobnobbing with Fiona, I would prefer not disturbing them. I am still a bit annoyed with them for forcing us into the arena at the Corridor of Mirrors. That leaves Lord Sawall as a possibility. That would be like Trumping Oberon for a social visit. I think I can make my own accommodations.
"They have apparently redecorated my flat since my last visit. Possibly, I've been evicted." We decide to stay in Chaos for a short while, but we need quarters. I decide that I can create my apartment from Shadow. First, we move from the immediate area of the abattoir and I begin to mold Shadow with my will; using the same care I used earlier. I need a little more help to make the surroundings more real and complete in detail. I ask Morganth for a very slight Psyche boost.
A surge of mental energy flows through me. Out of the fog the apartment forms, like adjusting a lens to bring it into sharp focus. We are in the main living room with fireplace and mantle, sofa, coffee table, roll top desk, and the ever present flower-filled tuba. A hall leads to the kitchen. A spiral staircase leads upwards to my bedroom and bathroom. I gently lay Mrs. Peel on the sofa and rush to the kitchen. A pot of boiling water is on the stove. Taking the water off the burner, I place the tea ball in the water to steep. A tray is prepared with two cups. Lemon and lime wedges are on a plate; biscuits and scones are on another plate. Excellent! Within minutes the tea is ready and I pour it into the cups. 
I return to the living room with the tray. I sit the tray down on the coffee table and place a wedge of lime in my tea and a wedge of lemon in the other cup. I take a sip of mine. Splendid! It seems like it has been ages since I have had tea. It also reminds me that it is good 'not' to be a Pattern Ghost.
Morganth and Suehprom asked about Mrs. Peel. "Mrs. Emma Peel was one of my partners; fifteen years ago, my subjective time. She may not know why she is here, being from Shadow Earth. She will have to know that she is not in London." She is waking. 
I suggest to Morganth and Suehprom, that it may be best if they wait in the other room until I explain things to Mrs. Peel. After they leave, Mrs. Peel begins waking up. I give her my warmest smile. She looks at me first confused; then her expression changes to that wicked grin of hers and extends her hand to mine to be sat upright. I put the cup on the table and take her hand.
She sits upright and then stands in front of me. She slowly moves closer, then I find myself sailing over the sofa. I land rather ungracefully on my back. I roll and recover what little dignity I lost, to face Emma again in a casually defensive position.
"Mrs. Peel, this wasn't entirely my fault." 
"Who are you and what have you done to the real Steed?" She looks at me as the enemy.
"It is really me, this time."
"Prove it."
"I got rid of my personal Basil, if that is what you mean." She looks at me closer.
"When did you last see mother?" This is a different twist.
"When I resigned eight years ago." My subjective time, it was nineteen years Shadow Earth time. "How is he doing?"
"'She' is doing fine, as far as I know." 
'She'? Surely she means 'he'. I will get back to that in a minute. "What was the last thing you remember?"
"Actually, I was coming to you for help."
"Well my dear, now that you are here, what kind of help do you need?"
"There's a problem in my home world."
"Your home world?" This is not the response I was expecting. That catches me off guard, I didn't expect her to be aware of other worlds.
"Come on, Steed. I assumed that you would have figured it out at some point. Oh! You haven't."
"Fill me in on the details, there may be things you may need to know as well. You said 'She' is doing fine." I am referring to the gentleman who ran the organization. 
"Let me say, I know a few things more about your past than you think I do. I assumed you would have put this together at some time. You never realized why the head of the organization was named 'Mother'? It was one of Flora's little jokes."
My chin drops ever so slightly at the mention of mother's name.
She paused to let that soak in. "Steed, did it never occur to you that, as a spy, you would have more mundane duties? Facing normal circumstances and cases? You had frequent cases with a beautiful woman on your arm. You never realized that Flora set the whole thing up? You lived and grew up on Shadow Earth, but sometime after you left the Navy to go to Amber, she changed the Shadow paths you used. You were diverted to a different Shadow Earth. It was very similar with everything you were familiar with one exception. It was my home Cineverse. You were recruited into the organization as an agent, spending eighteen years in your new Cineverse Shadow Earth. One that was set up by Flora to keep you busy."
Bloody hell! I felt the universe crumble around me. I suddenly had the feeling that everything I knew, was wrong. If anyone else told me this, I would not have believed it. However, it makes sense and explains many peculiar things. Long and closely held secrets. Flora, the mistress of secrets. Created a top secret organization to keep me busy and away from Amber during the Patternfall War, out of real danger. Mrs. Peel was in on it from the beginning, at least after she was recruited. I kept my Amberite heritage secret from her and she knew it all along! I was away from Shadow Earth for ten years, while I was in the Amber Army. Any differences I noticed, were chalked up to the cultural changes that would have taken place during my absence in the 1950's.
After a long silence from me, she continued. "Steed, do you remember our last mission? I was going to tell you. I didn't think what Flora was doing was right. I could stand it no longer. Flora would not allow me to tell you anything. Flora threatened that she would remove my memory permanently, if I didn't keep quiet. She arranged for a traitorous agent, George Burton, to use a memory erasing drug, shot from a gas gun to eliminate us professionally. Any agent out of touch for a specified time, became suspect. We were on the list and I was held prisoner in the old glass factory, under the influence of that drug. The old glass factory was one of our earlier training facilities. They kept shooting me with it whenever I tried to escape. The gun was designed to work very well in Amber, as well as in Shadow Earth. Didn't you think it odd that the drug affected an Amberite equally as well?"
I remember that it worked only too well, it took days to regain my memory. Part of the time, I was in hospital. I was listed as an amnesiac. Nasty stuff. Fortunately George gave himself away. He found the old glass factory in the dark, when I barely remembered the location. That proved he was the traitor.
She continued. "I decided that it was safer to leave. I couldn't go on in silence much longer. The drug was used to remind me of her threat."
"Flora wanted you to have adventures, yet she wanted to keep you in a safe environment."
"That explains why I was blocked access to Amber during the Patternfall War. I thought it was due to the black road and Eric's power plays."
"She always did look out for you and she was a little over protective of you, Steed."
"I see. Then did your husband, Peter, really return from the Amazonian jungle?"
"He never existed. He was a cover that Flora provided. I thought it was clever to have Peter look like you."
I admit that did baffle me, seeing Mrs. Peel ride off with a near double of myself.
There is a knock on the wall. Suehprom asked if they can come in now. I nod and they come in to hear the rest. No doubt they heard everything, not the sort of thing you would want others to know. Such is life. I've been remiss in my manners. I introduce Mrs. Peel to Morganth and Suehprom. All of them are amused at my discomfort.
She continued. "Pleased to meet you both. Steed, you never realized that the organization never existed on your original Shadow Earth? My reality is your current Cineverse Shadow Earth."
"Flora wanted you unattached. She thought you would like Tara, hardly the type you would have become permanently attached to. It was her concession. The only advice I gave Tara was, that you liked your tea stirred 'anti-clockwise'. She and that poor darling gentleman, 'Mother' had no idea that they were being manipulated so cleverly. I suppose that you now know who Rhonda was, I found out much later."
Flora knew that Emma and I were getting too close. "I see. Thanks, my dear Emma. I will have to thank mother for her kindness." Flora posed as Rhonda: a tall, attractive, powerful, and silent servant of Mother's. She pushed him around in the wheelchair and apparently ran the organization, mentally guiding Mother and watching everything. A perfect front. I never investigated my own organization, I never suspected. I spent my life being above suspicion. Ironic in a myriad of levels. Emma's final warning was about Flora, another diabolical mastermind. A very subtle set up, with me as the prime focus in this 'Cineverse' Shadow Earth.
"Steed, the reason why I've sought you out, is that we are having trouble with an invasion force. It is a group of cyborgs. They call themselves the 'Creed'."
Wonderful, as if things weren't bad enough. "I presume these cyborgs are more dangerous than the Cybernauts."
"Much more dangerous. The entire Cineverse is in danger. I thought to contact you. The last thing I remember is talking to you and getting knocked out."
"You were taken over by a demon called a Ty'iga. We eliminated them and brought you here. We need to get to Shadow Earth, 'our' Cineverse Shadow Earth, to deal with this new situation."
Now that we have that straightened out. I have come to terms with my altered past. Regardless, the Cineverse is still 'my' Shadow Earth. I also have some time to make up for. I finish my tea, Emma drinks hers. We smile.
I receive a Trump contact. Typically, when I receive one at an awkward moment, it is usually Flora. I might as well deal with her now, if she wants to discuss it. I open myself to contact. I motion to the others that I will be with them in a moment.
"Doctor! What a surprise. What can I do for you?"
:There has been a bit of an upset.:
"That is a bit of an understatement."
:Well, either Eric or Luke has gotten his hands on an alternate TARDIS. He has been slaughtering my relatives, ancestors, neighbors, and their family pets. I'm going to do what I can to stop this. Frankly, I don't have an idea how.:
"Doctor, I am sorry to hear that. I don't know if this situation is related. My partner regained consciousness and she has told me that Shadow Earth is being invaded by cyborgs known as the 'Creed'. They are attacking what Mrs. Peel refers to as the Cineverse Shadow Earth. Does it sound as though there is a connection? Could Eric have been involved in this as well?"
:I haven't a clue. Someone just acquired an alternate TARDIS.:
"I thought it would have disappeared when the time lines merged."
:He may have taken it during that time before it vanished. If you would like to come to lend assistance.:
"I think we should come through."
:Who is there?:
"Mrs. Peel, Morganth, and Suehprom. I'll check with them to see if they want to come too." After a brief discussion, Morganth decides to stay in Chaos for awhile longer.
I offer my arm to Emma, she takes it. Suehprom steps through first, then us. With a tip of my bowler, I bid my Chaosian quarters and Morganth adieu.
We step into the TARDIS. I introduce Emma to the Doctor.
We are in the control room of the TARDIS. I suggest that Mrs. Peel (old habits are hard to break; since she wasn't married to Peter Peel) explain the situation to the Doctor with as much detail as possible.
I discover from the Doctor that Kesa is roaming around the TARDIS. He doesn't seem concerned about this, considering that she helped Eric earlier. I also learned that Kat is still in the infirmary with no mental activity; she is still trapped in her eagle form.
She explains further. "The Creed are a race of cyborg or robotic creatures that are invading the different worlds of the Cineverse."
Suehprom jumps in. "Do we still have the blueprints for 'Project Creed'?" Good point. If there is a connection, there may be a clue in the blueprints.
The Doctor nods and Emma continues. "As near as we can figure it, they seem to be the product of a Doctor Plutonium."
The Doctor and Suehprom react rather badly to that. I ask who he is.
The Doctor tells me that Doctor Plutonium is a mad scientist who has been performing surgery on Creed; doing frequent repairs and grafting new body parts that were lost in combat.
I ask if he is the person who infected Creed with those nanites that Creed was concerned about during the TARDIS dinner.
He wasn't sure where the nanites came from.
Emma offers. "That would explain a lot. They have a tendency to take over those who are fighting against them, turning them into more members of the Creed. The nanites would explain that, it must be infesting others."
The Doctor, struggling with his thoughts, decides. "It looks like this does take priority. I will have to deal with other business another time."
"What other business?" I momentarily forgot about the stolen TARDIS and the killing of the Doctor's family.
"The rest of my race was eliminated." I am sure he is anxious to deal with the person who took the TARDIS and correct the situation. I believe I would like to go along on that journey. "Hopefully, we will be able to reverse that. By the way, Suehprom, either Eric or Luke has a copy of the TARDIS."
Suehprom is stunned by that.
Hearing it for the second time didn't make me happier either. Luke having it concerns me, but doesn't worry me. The Luke from my time line would use it to prevent Coral's injury. I don't want to think about what that would do to the time lines. A lot has happened as a result of the taking of the Jewel of Judgment; correction, still happening. The Luke from the other time line was angry about the killing of his father, Brand. Let's not even go into that discussion, we have enough to worry about.
Eric concerns me more. He could have spent time eliminating anyone, using the TARDIS to protect him. I doubt if he still has it. My guess and I repeat guess, is that he did everything while in Oberon's disguise. While we were tracking down the Jewel through Chaos and the Abyss, he had full possession of the TARDIS. He had the opportunity to do virtually anything before returning it to us in the Abyss, to recover the Jewel. I doubt if he used the alternate TARDIS, it wouldn't be necessary.
Other possibilities are Dalt or Delwin. Dalt left the TARDIS with us but later disappeared. Delwin disappeared before we left for Chaos. Too many variables and uncertainties. I express my concerns to the others.
The Doctor makes a decision. "We have many things to prepare for. I have a few things to do, to make sure we are nanite proof. Mrs. Peel, I need to talk with you for awhile, let's go to a fast time dimension." The Doctor takes us to his personal Shadow called 'Time Beach'. It sounds lovely. A small reprieve before we go into the breach. I would like some time with Emma to discuss our lost time and unasked questions.
The Doctor sets the controls, the engines whine, and we are on our way. In a short period of time, we reach our destination. There is a beautiful view of the Time Beach in the monitor. A stroll later will be perfect.
The Doctor shows us our quarters in the TARDIS. Beautiful and spacious rooms with all the conveniences. I give Emma a limited tour of the TARDIS. It's easy to get lost. The kitchen is the highlight of the tour. All of us are famished, it seems like weeks since I had a decent meal. I doubt if my body's previous host took good care of my body. Now that I am back, it is time to correct that. It will include exercise, specifically some fencing with Emma.
We occasionally have brainstorming sessions to deal with our problem. Doctor Plutonium is just another 'tomorrow the world' maniac after all.
The Doctor plans on providing any weapons, equipment, or supplies we may need. Anything we feel that may help in our upcoming battle.
I suggest we carry gauss guns, like the Doctor used earlier; fortunately, there are enough to go around. He encourages us to make any necessary preparations. He has some work to do that will take days. "If you see something hideous, don't be alarmed; it will probably be me. We need something to even the odds."
We discuss using hunter seeker nanites that can destroy the nanites in the Creed. Some delivery methods are discussed as well. Some options are: hypodermic rifles, flying mechanical devices that can deliver a sting, shrapnel grenades, assault vehicles, and other feasible devices that the Doctor would be able to build.
He plans to inject us with the anti nanite nanites as a vaccine. I wasn't keen on the idea, but it is preferable to being infected with Creed nanites. My Carnation may provide some protection, but the others may not be as protected. He was reasonably sure that he could remove them later. Reasonably sure? He was going to work on that.
Another gadget mentioned was holographic decoys. This sounded particularly nice. It projects a holographic image of the wearer, the decoy is convincing enough to be real. After an impressive demonstration, I decided to equip myself with a modified device, to project multiple images; so that I can control the number and position of the images. A horde of Steed decoys, while the original attacks from the crowd with a gauss gun or sabre.
The Doctor shows us where the various workshops are. I may look through the gear to see what else is available.
I receive a Trump contact. It could be an attack, so I withdraw my sabre from the umbrella sheathe and strike an en garde, and opening myself to the contact. "Who is it?"
:It's Morganth.:
I relax my guard. "Morganth, what's up?"
:I am done with my experimenting. Can I come through?:
"Certainly." I reach through the rainbow effect and pull him through to the TARDIS. I give him a quick explanation of the situation. He wants to talk to the Doctor. We find an intercom and locate the Doctor for a rendezvous at his workshop.
The Doctor explains his work on the nanites to Morganth. "The Creed are utilizing microscopic robots to assimilate other races. I have created hunter seeker nanites. It would be nice if you could lace these anti nanite nanites with magic, to insure they can function where technology may not be ideally suitable. To give them an edge." They have further discussions and make plans for additional work.
I make my exit for the kitchen. My contribution will be tea and brainstorming ideas.
Over tea, I propose to the Doctor another idea. Earlier, the Doctor used a Trump which released a lightning bolt. "Would it be possible to use a Trump connected to a huge electromagnet?" He liked the idea and mentioned that, like the Trump which leads to a lightning Shadow, it would be essential to hold it away from you. The magnet would work to attract and pull cybernetic creatures into the Trump. He was going to prepare the necessary Trumps.

Over the next few days, Emma and I find some opportunities for private discussions. She was working for Flora at the time she was in the organization. Her feelings changed after her long association with me. She was always flirtatious and seductive, but we kept our distance. I had, because she was married and I respected her beyond measure. I assumed that she was always hopeful that Peter would return and that she valued honor. I must say that it made for very frustrating times.
It seems as though I should find out what she would like to be called. I can't keep calling her Mrs. Peel, if she is not married. Her maiden name was Emma Knight. After a brief discussion, she tells me her real name is Diana Rigg. In the Cineverse, Mrs. Emma Peel is just a 'stage' name. In front of the others, she prefers to be called Emma. Very well, Emma it is.
Now, it seems that she had other reasons for avoiding romantic entanglements; Flora. Emma found herself losing her objectivity, and had to resign the organization as well; so to speak. Things could have turned out differently, and possibly still can. After this mission. Damn, it was 'always' after this mission. I suppose that is another reason why I left the organization, besides returning to Amber.
It had also occurred to me that she may be an impostor, I am not a complete nit. I used my Pattern awareness and scanned her. There is no trace of Pattern or Logrus within her. That is a good sign. I also scan her for artifacts, shape shifting, and magic. I do not detect any shape changing abilities, another very good sign. However, in her purse, she is carrying some sort of artifact. It is a magical item that is ring shaped. Curious - if it is a magic ring, why is she not wearing it? It is probably not fashionable or it is something that would be too obviously noticeable to wear.
The Doctor made a Trump deck for Emma and gave us Trumps of Emma. We may lose track of each other and Trumps are the best way to get back in touch with others. When they work, that is. 
Emma told me about one of the many casual conversations she had with Flora. Emma learned that I was looking for my father at one time. She mentioned to Flora that it wouldn't be the end of the world if Steed met his father, would it? Flora said that it might be, and refused to discuss it further. I wonder what that meant? Another secret of Flora's, the mistress of secrets.
It looks like everyone was keeping busy in their own fashion. Suehprom provided swords for all of us. "Steed, these swords are very sharp; yes, with scabbards. They may be helpful." He made fencing sabres for Emma and myself.
In a discussion with the Doctor; I mention that the Shadow Earth we met and worked together on, was the Cineverse that Emma is having us defend. He is having as much difficulty as I had, accepting that we were in the Shadow Earth Cineverse for those years. To us, they seemed too real. We must have been so deeply woven into that Cineverse, it was too 'real'. I try not to dwell on it too much with the Doctor, he needs to find his own way to accept it.
The Doctor is preparing the TARDIS for travel. Something seems different about him. Morganth is staring at him and smiling. I use my Pattern awareness to see what Morganth sees. Fascinating, the Doctor is wearing an armored suit composed of organic and cybernetic materials. That was what the Doctor was working on. He is also using a holographic projector to change his appearance, so others don't see the biosuit. He seems to have quite an arsenal in that suit. "Good show."
The Doctor prepares the injections of nanites for the group. I receive mine after briefly removing the Carnation. I check to make sure everything is in place. I strap the umbrella to the scabbard that Suehprom provided on my left hip. Both hands will be free to use either the gauss gun, the sabres, or my seldom used Walther P5 Compact. The gauss gun has a shoulder strap, so it hangs on the right side. The Walther is in the holster under my jacket on the left.
The Doctor gets a Trump of Doctor Plutonium from Kesa. He places the Trump into what appears to be a computer Trump scanning device.
To our collective surprise, before the TARDIS is activated, the sand underneath gives way and the TARDIS falls through a long shaft. Lights are flashing all over the console and the Doctor is quickly manipulating the control panel. It doesn't seem to be responding properly. We fall for quite some distance.
We hit bottom and we are tossed a bit, but not damaged; something to do with shielding and buffers between the dimensions. You see, the TARDIS is a police call box on the outside; on the inside, it is incredibly vast. It is very similar to something Amberites call a pocket Shadow. The bottom line is, we are somewhat protected from damage that may result from the TARDIS being knocked about.
The Doctor announced that the shaft is approximately 30 miles long; based upon a calculation of time and movement of an object at terminal velocity. Emma nods her head, verifying the results of the calculation, but indicates it is also over 48 kilometers. We are all incorrigible showoffs in our own fashion.
We are making final preparations for tracking down and eliminating the Creed. Along with the items I usually carry, I will also sport the modified holographic decoy, a gauss gun, the extra sharp sabre from Suehprom, and various Trumps provided by the Doctor. I adjust everything into place, after being buffeted about from the fall. I sniff my Carnation and tap my bowler into a more secure position.
The Doctor has kept very busy, even the new K9 has been assembled. Now, K9 is assisting in monitoring the controls.
Emma is sporting a gauss gun and one of Suehprom's extra sharp sabres.
Some of us are ready to step out of the TARDIS. We see two directions we can take. The Doctor retrieves his sonic screwdriver and scans the area.
He announces. "There are life forms behind us and an energy field jamming the TARDIS ahead of us. Suggestions?"
Never at a loss for options, I begin. "If we can remove the source of the jamming, we can deal with the rest easier. Possibly give us an edge with the TARDIS as well."
"Agreed. Who will go and who will stay?"
I volunteer.
Kesa decides to stay with Kat.
Morganth and Suehprom decide to stay and guard the TARDIS.
The Doctor seems satisfied. "Well Steed, it looks like it's you and me. Mrs. Peel?"
Looking determined and holding the gauss gun across the front of her body. "I'm going with Steed." Bless her, just like old times.
The Doctor smiles. "Oh. Shall we be off? The British going into the breach and the Chaosians guarding the TARDIS."
Using high powered flashlights, we move in the direction of the scanning device. The shafts seem to be cut out of sandstone. A clever bit of engineering, but not very stable. There must be a powerful energy source keeping this together and solid. Someone knows we are here. Welcome to my lair, said the spider to the fly. The Doctor looks around, examining the details. "This is apparently a trap, I hope we can work our way out of it." Dirt and dust falls from the walls of the tunnel as we move on.
We hear a deep grinding of rock shifting in the distance. We exchange furtive glances; 'of course' we know exactly what we are doing. We move forward a couple hundred yards down a twisted tunnel. More rock is shifting behind us. The TARDIS may be in the area, so we check the Trumps of others. They are warm, no contact occurs. Trumps are blocked and the retreat is cut off. So, we continue our march; into the breach.
The three of us are quite definitely on our own.

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R. Cal Westray, Jr.
Copyright 2001 [Westray.org].
All rights reserved.
Revised: October 23, 2007 .