Category: Crossover – Doctor Who/ From Eroica With Love (5th Doctor)
Warnings: You name it! Graphic everything!
Summary: The Major gets an assignment he is certain is a veiled attempt by his superiors to get him killed. Eroica gets the chance to be a legitimate art appraiser. The Doctor is given a routine task by the Time Lords in a not so routine location. Prince Jason attends a Medical conference on 27th Century Earth. Somewhere in all this, an alien presence is planning World War III.
By: Margaret Price email@example.com
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Illustration by Margaret Price
The soldier who had been misfortunate enough to be chosen to keep watch over an unrecognizable heap of a body stamped his feet in a vain attempt to ward off the cold. Why he had to freeze his ass off babysitting a corpse, he had no idea. It wasn’t as if the poor sod was going to run off before the proper authorities turned up.
Stamping his feet again, he was glad that it was still daylight. At least he could smoke a cigarette while he waited for someone—anyone—official to appear. He looked at the malformed mass of flesh at his feet and shuddered, moving closer to the wall and out of the biting wind. He had heard the rumors of maniacs roaming the streets, taking advantage of the war to wreak havoc on the city. Rumors that had been verified as true in a very tangible way that afternoon when he and his buddies literally stumbled across this poor unfortunate.
The proper authorities arrived after what seemed like forever. It was probably only half an hour, but in the bitter cold it might as well have been a month. The soldier stepped aside but could not help but linger, his curiosity aroused when he overheard someone say that this was the second body to appear under mysterious circumstances and in such a state.
Someone noticed the soldier hovering, and he feared he was about to be reprimanded for not leaving right away. Instead, he was asked to assist in crowd control. Crowd control? In this weather?
Nevertheless, his curiosity had been piqued and he was glad for an excuse to remain close at hand. Then further surprises came to light. The man’s clothing was of a type no one had ever seen before. Moreover, his identity papers were undoubtedly bad forgeries, as the year of his birth was given as 1944. Obviously, that should have been 1904.
That was until they looked at his other documents. His money. All with dates…decades in the future. Was this a joke? A body with false identity papers left as a taunt. Why?
When the body was finally loaded into a truck and taken away, the watching soldier was dismissed. He left the scene, heading straight for the nearest bar. He had the sudden urge to get so drunk that he couldn’t remember his own name. Then perhaps he would be able to forget what he had just witnessed.
It was difficult enough to accept death at the front lines. There, at least, it was expected. But this. This was very disconcerting, and he found himself thinking that returning to the front might not be such a bad thing after all.
* * *
ORDERS ARE BLOODY MAD
Major Klaus Heinz von dem Eberbach had been ordered to his Chief’s office for a briefing. Not an unusual occurrence. Nor was the fact that his assignment was secret in nature. He was, after all, a NATO intelligence officer. But this assignment was…was…
“Major?” the Chief said tentatively. “Do you have any questions?”
The Major did not reply. He sat staring into space, not quite believing what he had just been told. He went over the briefing in his head several times, coming up with the same, unbelievable conclusion. Fly to London, pick up a prisoner, take said prisoner to Moscow and hand him over to the KGB.
But not just anywhere in Moscow.
In KGB Headquarters in Moscow.
Finally, the Major turned his disbelieving gaze to the Chief. “You’re sending me to the Lubyanka?”
“I’m sure it might appear as though—”
The Major cut him off. “You are sending me, Iron Klaus, to the Lubyanka.”
“Major, calm down…”
“You’re sending me directly to bloody KGB headquarters and you tell me to calm down!” Klaus was trying very hard not to lose his temper, but knew it was a battle he would lose as he got to his feet. “God dammit, why don’t you just shoot me now and then send all of NATO’s secrets to the Commies? You’ll save time.”
“Times are changing. We must all change with them,” the Chief said placatingly. “You’re not escorting this prisoner alone. SIS is sending two top agents with you.”
“Top agents my ass! They’ll probably send that idiot Lawrence!”
“Major!” the Chief exclaimed, attempting to regain some control of the situation. “This is an extremely sensitive exchange. Moscow requested you, by name, as the only agent they would trust in charge of this mission.”
“I’ll bet. And once I’m there, I’ll be detained indefinitely,” Klaus retorted, taking a long drag on his cigarette. “You’ve been trying to get me killed for years. Looks like you finally found the perfect opportunity.”
The Chief could not prevent a smile from twitching at the edges of his mouth. “This time, Major, I had nothing to do with it. This came from the top.”
Marvelous, the Major thought. All of NATO is trying to get me killed.
“Your…concerns in this matter were anticipated,” the Chief went on. “NATO doesn’t want to lose its best agent. Or the secrets he possesses.” He pulled a piece of paper with an elaborate seal embossed on it from a folder. “In order to further the cause of Glasnost and Perestroika, you will be going to Moscow as the personal guest of General Secretary Gorbachev,” he informed startlingly.
The Major blinked, taking the paper and examining it. It did indeed state that Major Klaus Heinz von dem Eberbach would be entering the Soviet Union as a VIP with temporary diplomatic status, and as the guest of the General Secretary, Mikhail Gorbachev.
Iron Klaus, the personal guest of the leader of the Communist party. What is the world coming to?
“Surely they don’t expect me to escort a prisoner unarmed, do they?” the Major said, looking up.
“No, you have clearance to carry a single firearm,” the Chief said, holding out another document.
“A single firearm?” the Major repeated as he took the document.
“Yes. A single—”
“Then I’m taking my Magnum.”
“Major, I think you might be better served with something more…reserved.”
“If I’m to be limited to one weapon, I’m taking the one with the most firepower, not the least.”
The Chief sighed heavily and started shuffling more papers around on his desk. “At the time of the prisoner exchange, there’s to be a conference at the Lubyanka. It was decided that you and the other agents would be less likely to have…erm, difficulties leaving the country if you join this gathering after dropping off the prisoner.”
The Major’s eyes narrowed. “What kind of conference?”
The Chief gave a wry smile. “Security and surveillance.”
The Major could not help a smile of irony coming to his face. That’s all the KGB needs, more surveillance equipment.
“Your inclusion is strictly a precaution,” the Chief went on. “Once the exchange has been made, you’re to return to Bonn. I want you here when the Chancellor makes his announcement.”
The Major responded with a non-committal grunt as he looked at the papers in his hand. The higher ups had apparently thought of everything to get him in to Russia. They were scant on details on getting him out should things go wrong, however.
Orders are orders, but the Lubyanka!
* * *
Somewhere Over The Baltic Sea
Dorian Red Gloria, Earl of Gloria settled back into his seat, a sigh of satisfaction escaping him. He took a sip of the champagne in his hand, idly playing with one of his long blond curls. He looked around the cabin of the private jet he occupied, a contented smile coming to his face. Yes, this is how I should travel all the time. In style, he thought as he stretched out his long legs. Before he could say a word, the glass in his hand was being refilled. Yes, this definitely is how I should be traveling.
“Don’t pour so fast,” a voice admonished, breaking into the Earl’s contented thoughts like fingernails on a blackboard. “The glass will overflow and you’ll waste it.”
“James…” Dorian said coolly. “We’re not paying for this. Now, please be quiet and let me enjoy being pampered.”
“But, my lord—”
Before James could protest further, Bonham was beside him. “Why’re you worryin’ about a few drops o’ champagne?” he said, throwing a quick glance to the back of the plane. “What with lunch bein’ prepare an’ all.”
James was suddenly bolt upright, his eyes wide. “What! They’ll be cutting the crusts off the sandwiches, I just know it.” He stormed purposefully to the back of the plane.
“That’ll keep ‘im busy for a while, milord,” Bonham said with a grin.
The Earl grinned back. “Thank you, Bonham.” The sound of protests suddenly erupted from the galley. “Although, I’m not sure how thankful the crew is going to be.”
“With luck, that’ll keep ‘im busy ‘til we land.”
“Yes.” The Earl settled further into his seat. “You know, I could get used to being a ‘Respectable Art Expert,’ Bonham. Especially if everyone requiring my services is as lavish as our friends in Leningrad.”
Dorian giggled as a sudden thought struck him. “Perhaps I should have some new cards printed. I’ll have ‘From Eroica with love’ on one side, and ‘Earl of Gloria, Art Expert’ on the other.”
“I’m sure James’ll appreciate not ‘aving t’ print two sets o’ cards,” Bonham observed dryly.
“I think this champagne is going to my head,” Dorian laughed, going on to take another sip.
Bonham smiled, shaking his head as he returned to his seat. He had no doubts that the Earl could get used to this life of respectability—until one of the pieces he was supposed to be appraising struck his fancy. Then Eroica would come out of retirement in the blink of an eye. Bonham had seen it happen too many times to believe for an instant that the most successful art thief in the world would ever permanently give up thieving.
Eroica glanced out a window, reflecting on the bizarre chain of events that had led to his being on a private jet with the Alexander Palace in Leningrad as his final destination. A very motivated couple from the West was attempting to organize an effort to have the Palace itself renovated, as well as restore all the works that had previously been housed there. A pipe dream, Eroica had thought at the time. Then came the thaw in the Cold War with the introduction of Glasnost by the newest head of the Communist Party, Mikhail Gorbachev.
Out of nowhere, the Earl was being asked his thoughts on the restoration project and if he would be interested in assisting in identifying the artworks that were to be returned to the Palace. Since he had not heard anything about restoration work actually beginning, Eroica was understandably surprised by this request and hesitated in voicing any interest in actually becoming involved. Then came the offer that made up his mind and clinched the deal. All of his expenses, and those of his personal staff, would be paid if he would agree to appraise the condition of the artworks that had been stored in Leningrad. How could he say no to this? Just what treasures of the Czars lay locked away for him to discover?
Eroica smiled when he recalled the look on the faces of the men who had been sent to negotiate for his services. They had offered a great deal of money. He, in turn, countered with his own terms. As payment for his services, he would be paid their stated fee and be allowed to retain a single piece of his choosing. In addition, he would be given all the proper documentation attesting to the fact that the work was his personal property and he was returning it to England. This way, when he actually did return to England with said artwork, there would be no bothersome problems with Customs, Taxes, Tariffs, Duty—or Interpol.
After a few days of negotiation, in which the Earl refused to compromise, his terms were met. A wise move, Eroica thought, since he would’ve just stolen what he wanted anyway. In fact, there was no saying that he wouldn’t steal some other works while he was doing his appraisals. After all, that was what he did best. The agreement just made transportation simpler.
Eroica chuckled as he picked up a small pouch. It looked like a lady’s drawstring purse from the Victorian Era, which is what he told everyone that it was. In reality, it was a very cleverly disguised piece of alien technology. A souvenir from an encounter with...well, an alien.* Two aliens, actually. A mysterious time traveler known only as the Doctor and his deliciously handsome companion, Jason.
Eroica had twice encountered the pair.* In both instances, they had been acting as representatives of an ultra-secret group known as UNIT that specialized in alien incursions. The second time the Doctor had appeared, he had asked the Earl to assist him by doing what he did best. Steal. And from the KGB, no less. The Doctor had given Eroica the pouch, explaining that it was something called a pocket dimension. Despite its small size, it was capable of holding anything no matter how large. The opening would enlarge to accommodate whatever was being put inside. Eroica had even used it to hide himself once. His instructions had been quite simple. Steal everything that wasn’t nailed down, which he did. He was also told that he could keep everything he stole, which he also did. Including the pocket dimension.
* My stories – Do UNIT & NATO Spell Disaster and Espionage On Ice
There had been a few times when Eroica entertained the notion of putting the Leopard Tank he had stolen from Iron Klaus* inside the little pouch and surprising the German by returning it to him—in the middle of his study where the rest of the Eberbach collection was housed. He could just imagine the Major’s reaction when he saw the massive piece of steel sitting in the middle of the room with no indication as to how it had gotten there. Would the Major remember about the pocket dimension? Eroica wondered. Of course he would. He remembered everything. As tempting as the thought of annoying the Major in such a manner was, Eroica could not quite bring himself to part with the massive piece of polished steel.
* Iron Klaus
The sound of raised voices coming from the galley returned Eroica to the present with a jolt. He sighed heavily and wondered if a time would ever come when he would be able to enjoy a pleasant moment’s reflection without its being interrupted by harsh reality.
* * *
Little Hodcomb, England
Inside the impossibly large TARDIS control room, neither Eroica nor the Major would have recognized the slight, fair-haired young man who now called himself the Doctor. They had met him when he was in his more bohemian fourth incarnation. He had looked older then, with a riot of dark curls on his head. He was now in his fifth incarnation, with a fresh open face that revealed no hint of his nearly eight centuries of existence. He had given up his long frock coat and even longer scarf for the rather unlikely costume of an Edwardian cricketer complete with white sweater, striped trousers, open necked shirt, and a cream-colored frock coat that had a stalk of celery inexplicably pinned to the lapel.
The Doctor was currently scowling down at the mushroom shaped central control console. He had just had a nasty run in with an alien presence on Earth that had also invaded the TARDIS console room.* He wanted to make absolutely certain that all the systems had survived undamaged. And since Tegan, one of his two current traveling companions, wanted to visit her Grandfather while they were there, he felt it best to stay out of the way.
* The Awakening
The Doctor’s second traveling companion entered via the inner door and stood watching as the Time Lord pottered around the console. Turlough appeared to be just a boy, an escapee from an English public school, but the Doctor suspected from the first that the young man was older than he let on—and not from Earth. He had let information slip that no one from Earth should know in the year 1983…and there always seemed to be more going on behind his piercing blue eyes.
“How much longer are we going to stay here?” Turlough asked. He was trying very hard not to sound whiny. He almost succeeded.
“Tired of Earth already?” the Doctor replied without looking up.
“Doctor, I was tired of Earth when I left with you to begin with,”* Turlough replied coolly. “Why do we have to keep coming back?”
* Mawdryn Undead
The Doctor drew a deep breath and looked up. “We came back because Tegan wanted to visit her Grandfather.”
“I know that! I mean all those other times.”
Before what seemed to be an ongoing argument could continue, there was a loud beep from the console. The Doctor scowled down at it, a surprised expression coming to his face.
“It seems I’m being hailed by Gallifrey,” he announced.
“What?” Turlough gasped. “Are they trying to get you back?” The last time they had been to the Doctor’s home planet, he could not get away fast enough,* and Turlough suspected the Time Lords were more than a little annoyed about the Doctor’s disappearance.
“Let’s see what they want,” the Doctor sighed as he hit a switch. The shutters on the scanner screen opened, revealing a second surprise. The face on the screen belonged to Cardinal Wythe, a senior member of the High Council.
“Well, this is a surprise,” the Doctor remarked. “I rather expected Chancellor Flavia to be calling.”
Wythe’s eyes flickered. “Acting President Flavia is rather busy at the moment,” he replied tersely.
A ghost of a smile passed the Doctor’s lips but he did not reply.
“The High Council isn’t aware of this communication, Doctor,” the Cardinal then said startlingly.
“Really? You’re contacting me on your own?” The Doctor’s eyes narrowed suspiciously. “Why?”
“The majority of the High Council believes you wouldn’t respond if they tried to contact you. So they don’t want to even bother.”
“Indeed,” the Doctor said frostily.
“I thought otherwise. You are, after all, a Time Lord, Doctor. Whatever you may say to the contrary.”
Turlough saw the Doctor stiffened visibly. This was a bit of a sore point. Despite the fact that the Doctor continually insisted that he had renounced Time Lord society, he still spent the majority of his time ensuring that Time was not interfered with or changed in any way.
“Just what is it you want?” the Doctor demanded frostily. “I’m rather busy myself, you know.”
Wythe smiled thinly. “There’s a disturbance in the vortex.”
The Doctor scowled. Why tell me? “Disturbance?”
“Yes. A temporal disturbance that’s emanating from Earth in your current time zone. Approximately three years forward of your current position in the timestream.”
“What? But…that’s impossible. There are no time experiments at this point in Earth’s history.”
“From the temporal signature, we believe it may not be a time experiment at all,” Wythe informed. “It seems to be a malfunctioning transmat that’s opened a time corridor.”
“A transmat?” This was Turlough, who realized too late that he should not have spoken.
The Doctor threw a quick glance over to his companion before turning back to the scanner screen. “That seems feasible. There are quite a few matter transmission projects going on. It’s possible one might’ve gone wrong.”
“It seems to have gone very wrong,” the Cardinal agreed.
“Can you give me the exact space/time coordinates?”
Wythe reached down and touched a button. “You should be getting them now.”
The Doctor glanced down, looking up again when Wythe said, “Doctor, I know I don’t need to impress upon you how important this is…”
“No, you don’t,” the Doctor replied astringently. “I’m to contact you when this is resolved, I take it?”
“Don’t worry about that. I’ll be in touch.” With that, the transmission ended.
“Well, I never expected Wythe to be a member of the CIA,” the Doctor remarked in some surprise.
The Doctor looked over at his companion and straightened. “The Celestial Intervention Agency,” he said unhelpfully. “Looks as though Tegan may have to cut her visit short after all.”
“Can’t we just leave her behind?” Turlough asked.
The young man held up his hands. “I didn’t mean it like that!” he protested. Although it’s not a bad idea. “What I meant was, why have her cut her visit short if it’s just a project gone wrong?”
“Turlough, if I didn’t know better, I’d say you were being unselfish,” came the amused reply.
“I’m glad you know better.”
The Doctor grinned. “You don’t even know where we’re going.”
Turlough grunted, waving a hand in the air. “Anywhere’s better than here.”
“Don’t be so sure,” the Doctor said darkly.
“Why, where are we going?”
The Doctor met the young man’s inquiring gaze. “Moscow, 1987.”
“Not in the dead of winter, I hope.”
“No, August, by the look of it.”
“Good.” Turlough saw an odd look on the Time Lord’s face. “Where in Moscow, Doctor?”
* * *
A Luxury Hotel
“I hope everything is to your liking, Lord Gloria.”
The Earl looked around the vast hotel suite as the last of his luggage was deposited in his bedroom. He smiled, turning back to the man at the door. “Oh, yes, Mr. Romanov—” He broke off and giggled. “Forgive me. It’s just…your name…”
The man at the door gave the Earl a dark look. “I am aware of the irony, Lord Gloria. My name is a relic from the past.”
“Yes, of course. You’re a good little Communist, I’m sure, Comrade Romanov,” Eroica said breezily.
Romanov stiffened visibly but did not reply.
“Oh, this is splendid!” Eroica cooed as he looked into one of the bedrooms in his suite. “I didn’t expect such luxury.”
“We have many visitors from the West, sir,” Romanov said stiffly. “Especially now that the General Secretary in encouraging Glasnost.”
“Yes, yes, your openness policy is most—Oh!” Eroica gasped as he looked out the balcony window. “Just look at that view! It’s breathtaking!”
“You have the entire floor, sir,” Romanov informed. “You can take in the view from whichever room you choose.”
Eroica turned back and grinned. “I might just do that,” he said happily.
“Comrade Ivanov asked me to give you this.” Romanov held out a fat manila envelope. “He thought you might be interested in seeing some of the pieces that have already been photographed.”
Bonham was beside Romanov and took the envelope from his hand, crossing to the Earl.
Eroica’s eyes flickered approvingly. Very proper, Bonham. Good show.
Bonham gave a slight bow as he held out the envelope. “My lord,” he said coolly, putting on his best manservant voice.
“Thank you, Bonham. Would you see if everyone’s settled in, please?”
“Certainly, my lord.” Bonham gave another slight bow before he turned and left.
Romanov gave a slightly disapproving sniff at this display of Western class distinction. Eroica observed the man’s reaction with some amusement. He grinned and turned back to the window. “When am I to look at the real thing?” he asked conversationally.
“A car will be sent for you at nine o’clock in the morning.”
“Oh, good,” Eroica said mildly, waving a hand in the air and not bothering to turn around. “Let Bonham know for me, would you? I’d hate to oversleep.”
Romanov’s eyes opened wide. He had to fight not to object to being ordered around like a common servant. “Certainly. Good afternoon, Lord Gloria.” So saying, he turned and left, the door closing loudly behind him.
The Earl glanced back at the door. “Well, that’s you dealt with,” he muttered dismissively as he sat down. Before he could look at the contents of the envelope, there was a knock at the door. “Come in!”
The door opened and the Earl was surprise to see that it wasn’t Bonham returning, as he thought. “Why, John Paul,” he grinned. “I didn’t expect you to turn up so soon.”
“Mr. Bonham is seeing to the others, my lord,” John Paul replied. He held up a small device that Eroica recognized immediately. It was used to detect electronic surveillance devices. Obviously, John Paul wanted to check the room for bugs. “I came to make sure your room was to your liking,” he said mildly. “I know how you like everything clean and tidy.”
Eroica grinned. “I’m sure once you’re through I’ll have the cleanest room in Leningrad.”
John Paul grinned back and proceeded to check every room in the suite. Neither man was surprised when he located a listening device in every room, including the bathroom! After collecting the lot, John Paul pocketed the bugs, gave the Earl a knowing look, and left, stating that he would check all the other rooms on the floor.
“Give all the bugs you find to James,” Eroica instructed. “I’m sure he’ll be able to sell them for a tidy little sum on the black market.”
“Yes, milord, I’m sure he will.”
Now that that had been dealt with, Eroica sat back and pulled the photographs from the envelope. His enormous blue eyes grew even wider as he paged through them. “Oh…” he sighed. “Oh… Oh! Just look at you, my lovelies.”
The door to the adjoining room opened as he slowly paged through the photographs a second time. “I want you!” he sighed, clasping the papers to his chest.
James heard this last remark, came to the usual erroneous conclusion, and immediately started to whine. “Oh, my lord!”
Eroica looked up and sighed. He decided to ignore James’ usual display of jealousy and held up one of the photos. “James, you must see these.”
“No! I can’t bear another rival.”
“I think I’m the one who should be worrying about a rival this time,” Eroica replied knowingly, waving the photo. “This is an Imperial Russian Easter egg.”
“You’re looking at pictures of food?” the confused James replied.
“James, this is very probably a Fabergé egg.” Eroica groaned inwardly at the blank look this statement produced. “Peter Carl Fabergé was the one of the most famous jewelers to the Russian court. If this is one of his eggs—” He paused a beat. “—it’s priceless.”
“What!” James was suddenly beside the Earl looking from one photo to another. His eyes, well, his visible eye, grew wide. He started to breathe faster and faster.
The Earl smiled and sat back in his chair. “Mr. James, calm down before you hyperventilate.”
“Oh, my lord,” James sighed, clasping the photos to his chest. “Oh, you must change the terms. You simply must!”
“You said they agreed to let you choose one thing! Only one! You have to choose more!”
“They agreed to give me one of my choosing, James, dear.” Eroica gave a knowing smile. “They overlooked asking me not to steal anything.”
“Oh, my lord!” the dark-haired man cried gleefully. He clasped the Earl’s hand and started to kiss it. “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
“Why don’t you take those in your room and do a quick tally?” Eroica suggested. “Those are only the items that have been photographed. There’s a whole warehouse, yet.”
James let out a loud squeak of delight. The Earl suspected that if his accountant died on the spot, he would die a happy man.
James was gathering up the photos just as Bonham returned. Eroica looked up and shook his head, his eyes returning to his accountant, who scurried into the next room humming happily to himself.
Bonham watched this display in some bewilderment. “What’s got ‘im all merry?”
“I gave him the photos from the warehouse,” Eroica replied. “I thought he was going to have a fit of apoplexy when he saw them.”
“’e wants you t’ steal the lot, I’ll wager,” Bonham observed as he poured the Earl a drink and handed it to him.
A small smile passed over Eroica’s lips. “I’m sure if he thought I could manage it, he’d have me steal the whole warehouse. I rather suspect that our employers might take exception to that.”
Bonham chuckled. “So it’s small ‘n valuable this time ‘round, then?”
“Yes, small and extremely valuable.” With a grin, Eroica added, “And we begin at nine o’clock tomorrow morning.”
* * *
The contents of the warehouse exceeded Eroica’s wildest expectations. Obviously, the photographs he had been given were only a tiny fraction of the wonders the building contained.
The structure was divided into sections. His team took a quick tour before they started in, one section at a time. After unpacking their own equipment, they went to work photographing and cataloging the contents of the first room.
Since the work was being done under the watchful eye of some unfriendly looking security men, everything was made to look completely proper. Well, it was completely proper. They had been hired, after all.
Any items that “appeared” damaged were brought to the Earl’s attention for his meticulous inspection. In other words, to see if it was nice enough to steal immediately. During these times, Eroica would get updates on the team’s progress. Some of the objects actually did have to be repaired, and a separate area was set up to house them. None of the guards noticed that a few of the items never made it to the holding area.
It’s like a dream come true, Eroica thought as an exquisite statue was uncrated. Every new treasure seemed better than the last. I could get used to this art expert lark.
Each day when the group left the building, they were searched. Eroica was amused at the reaction of the security guards the first time he produced the pocket dimension, which he had taken the precaution of fitting with a false lining. The man checking it actually blushed when the Earl explained that it was an antique purse that had once belonged to his paternal great-grandmother. He went on to tell how she was distantly related to one of the Czarinas.
When the pouch was returned to him, Eroica stood clinging to the increasingly embarrassed guard. He complimented his uniform and asked several intimate questions about his obviously muscular physique before volunteering to be strip-searched.
After this, the Earl was kept at arms length and asked to simply hold the seemingly empty purse open so the guard could look inside, which he obligingly did. They never would know the treasures the tiny object contained that went completely undetected each time Eroica strode from of the warehouse.
* * *
Little Hodcomb, England
“That went surprisingly well,” the Doctor remarked as he strode into the console room, Turlough at his heels. He had expected Tegan to put up some kind of resistance to being left behind, possibly even pointing out the time the Doctor had left her at Heathrow,* which was still a bit of a sore point. But none of this had happened. Tegan was more than happy to spend more time with her Grandfather while the Doctor and Turlough went off to straighten out somebody’s “science project gone wrong.”
* Time Flight
Turlough watched as the Doctor stood silently at the computer for several minutes. He peeked over the Time Lord’s shoulder, seeing information flashing up on the screen at an impossible speed. It seemed that the Doctor was refreshing his memory on the time period in question, which he remarked on.
The Doctor gave a small satisfied grunt as he looked up, going on to set the controls. “You can’t expect me to remember every minute detail,” he remarked.
“You always seem t—” Turlough blinked. “Do you always look up the time period we’re going to?” he asked accusingly.
Rather than being embarrassed, the Doctor smiled broadly. “Top marks, Turlough.”
Before the Doctor could reply, the TARDIS was materializing at its destination. Turlough activated the scanner and then scowled. “Doctor…” he said cautiously, “I’m no expert on Russian architecture, but that doesn’t look even remotely like Moscow. In fact, that looks remarkably like Nelson’s column.”
“Top marks again,” the Doctor said happily.
“I thought we were going to Red Square, not Trafalgar Square.”
The Doctor reached for the door lever and stopped, looking his companion up and down. “You might want to put on a coat. It’s December.”
Turlough sighed heavily and decided not to argue. He looked at the navigational computer and caught his breath. “And it’s still 1984.” He looked up. “What’s going on?”
“Have you ever heard the name Mikhail Gorbachev?”
“Should I have?”
“He’s the number two man in the Soviet hierarchy and is meeting with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher—”
“I’ve heard of her.”
“—to deliver a message from Konstantin Chermenko.”
“I don’t know that one, either.”
The Doctor gave an annoyed sigh. “He’s the current General Secretary of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union. The third in as many years, actually,” he added offhandedly.
“All very interesting, Doctor,” Turlough said impatiently as he took his jacket from the hatstand near the door and put on. “But what has all that to do with a malfunctioning matter transmitter in 1987?”
The Doctor gave him a dark look. “While in London,” he went on, “Mikhail and his wife, Raisa, will go sightseeing.”
“And come to Trafalgar Square?” Turlough asked, throwing a glance back at the image on the scanner.
“And go to the British Library, where, among other things, they’ll see the seat Karl Marx used when he wrote ‘Das Kapital.’”
“I’m sure there’s a point to all this…”
“I’m going to wait there so he and I can have a brief conversation before you and I go on to 1987.”
Turlough blinked. This was pretty flagrant, even for the Doctor, and he said so.
“Actually, I’ve met him once already. I’m just going to renew the acquaintance.”
“Because in three month’s time, Mikhail will go from the number two man in the Communist Party to number one.” The Doctor gave a knowing smile. “I had a run in or two with the KGB when I was with UNIT. It never hurts to have friends in the Kremlin when one plans to go to the Lubyanka.”
* * *
It was three days after the Earl’s men started work that Mr. Ivanov finally came to see how they were progressing.
“We’ve just started on the second room,” the Earl informed.
“Excellent,” Mr. Ivanov said happily. “Your progress is amazing, Lord Gloria.”
Eroica gave a bright smile and absently twisted one of his blond curls around a finger. “I have a very good team, Mr. Ivanov.”
“That you have, sir, that you have.” Mr. Ivanov looked at the men busily packing and unpacking the artworks. After a piece was photographed and numbered, James would meticulously record it in a log. On the surface, it seemed that this was for the benefit of their employer, while in reality, it was so they would know the exact location of every valuable piece for later…appropriation.
“I have another little job for you, if you’re interested,” Ivanov said mildly, turning back to the Earl.
Eroica’s heart jumped. More Russian treasure! This is definitely a dream come true. “My goodness, you like to keep a body busy,” he remarked.
“There’s a private collection some distance from here that has never been appraised,” Ivanov informed. “One of my colleagues contacted me about it just before you arrived. He wanted the opinion of an art expert as to whether the collection has any actual value.”
“I’m not an expert in everything, you know. Especially when it comes to Russian art,” Eroica replied in an extremely rare show of modesty.
“Ah,” Ivanov lowered his voice, pulling the Earl aside. “This is a bit…touchy, sir. My colleague believes these are stolen works.”
Eroica had to fight not to laugh. Nothing like asking a thief to verify stolen artwork. “Stolen, you say?” he said archly.
“Yes. Supposedly, the man who owned them was rumored to have been a Nazi during the war.”
Eroica’s eyebrows went up. “Is it true? Or just local gossip?”
“At this point,” Ivanov replied, “it’s just gossip. The man appeared shortly after the war. He was German. So the locals decided he must’ve been a Nazi war criminal hiding in their town.”
“So, the art collection could just as easily be replicas,” Eroica concluded.
“Yes. That’s rather why I was hoping you’d agree to have a look at it.”
Eroica looked over at his men working so diligently on the treasures of the Czars. “There’s still such a lot to do here…” he said mildly. He was fighting to keep from jumping up and down. A side trip to the Russian countryside and a possible cache of lost masterpieces!
“I’m sure your men can get along without you for a few days,” Ivanov said calmly. “It will take a full day just to get there.”
“Lord Gloria doesn’t work for free,” James injected suddenly.
Eroica wasn’t sure if he should be annoyed or amused by this interruption. He decided on amused when he saw the disconcerted look on Ivanov’s face. “James is right. I do have my standards. If I start doing odd jobs for free, where will that get me?”
James nodded approvingly but did not take his eyes off Ivanov. Before he could start firing questions at the man, Eroica said, “I’ll do it if you double my current fee.”
Ivanov gulped and James let out a delighted squeak. “And a another piece of your choosing, too, m’lord,” the accountant said firmly.
“Yes, thank you, James. And another piece of my choosing,” Eroica said calmly.
Ivanov nervously looked from one to another. “Ah…er…um…”
“Those are my terms.”
After a moment, Ivanov nodded. “I’m sure I can get that for you, Lord Gloria.”
“Excellent,” Eroica grinned. “And where is this supposed treasure trove?”
“In a little village approximately one hundred and eighty kilometres to the south.”
Eroica nodded absently. “So long as it’s not Siberia,” he joked.
Ivanov smiled thinly. “Not quite.”
“And just when do we leave?”
“Will tomorrow be too soon?”
* * *
Illustration by Dori
A Luxury Hotel, Lobby
“Lord Gloria, I think you may have misunderstood,” Ivanov said as he took in the Earl’s entourage and luggage. “My request was for you alone to accompany me.”
Eroica’s eyebrows went up. “Was it, indeed?” he said innocently. He had understood perfectly what the man had said, but that wasn’t about to stop him from seeing what he could get away with. “Will there be someone to look after me at the other end of this frightfully long journey?”
Bonham had to fight not to laugh as Ivanov’s eyes crossed. How the Earl loved to play with stuffed shirts like this man.
“I’m sure my colleague will have all that in hand, Lord Gloria,” Ivanov replied coolly.
“Oh, well, that’s alright then,” Eroica replied breezily, waving a hand in the air. He turned to his men. “Bonham, have my things put in the car, please.”
“Yes, m’lord,” Bonham said crisply, giving a slight bow before waving a hand to the others.
“My Lord,” James moaned, “you simply mustn’t go alone!”
“I’m sure Mr. Ivanov will take good care of me, James,” Eroica replied mildly.
“What if they try to kidnap you and hold you for ransom?” James said firmly.
“I’m sure you’d wear them down to a good price.”
“Anyway,” Eroica went on calmly, “someone has to oversee things while I’m away. And who better than you?”
James paused, a perplexed expression passing over his face. This was true. The others would never catalog everything correctly. Nor would they keep a proper accounting of the time they spent on the job.
“I’ll be back in a few days,” Eroica said breezily, watching as the last of his luggage was loaded in the waiting limousine. Before James could object further, the Earl gave him a hug and planted a kiss on his cheek. “You can give me a full and private accounting of everything that went on while I was gone,” he whispered in his ear.
“Uh…uh, er…um,” James stammered. He was unable to see for the stars in his eyes, his heart soaring. “Yes! Oh, yes, my lord! Yes, yes!”
Eroica gave a bright smile before he turned on his heel and left the building. Bonham watched as he got into the waiting limousine, which drove of in the direction of the train station.
“Back to work, Bonham!” James called as he made his way back to the elevator. “We must get everyone back to work. I want to have a long report to give Lord Gloria when he returns.”
Bonham sighed and followed after the accountant. “You reckon that German’s collection really is a ‘oard o’ Nazi paintings?” he asked. “Or just another rumor?”
James gave a derisive snort. “So long as it’s nothing to do with that German machine maniac.” Then a sudden thought struck him and he looked up sharply. “He’s a Neo-Nazi expert! What if they’ve called him in, too?”
“That’s ‘ardly likely, is it?” Bonham broke in before James could begin whining in earnest. “The Commie’s aren’t likely t’ be callin’ in Uncle NATO, are they?”
* * *
The Major had taken Agents A, B and Z along to take care of any of the details that might have been overlooked in what seemed to him to have been a very hurriedly arranged exchange.
The men had scarcely left the gate when they were met by a member of SIS. The Major inwardly breathed a sigh of relief when he saw it wasn’t that idiot Bond wannabe Lawrence. He and his men were taken to a security area where two other agents with the ridiculously unoriginal code names of Smith and Jones were waiting with a handcuffed prisoner.
The Major looked the latter up and down and wondered what was so special about this particular individual that necessitated assigning Iron Klaus to escort him to Moscow. “Your code name?” he asked calmly.
“Siberian Shadow,” came the startling reply.
The Major’s eyebrows went up. Impressive. So this was the man who had managed to break into Buckingham Palace and get all the way to the Queen’s bedroom before being caught. The public had been told it was a disturbed individual, while the intelligence community was abuzz with the story. Siberian Shadow had been a thorn in the side of SIS security for nearly a decade, and very likely the one behind the half dozen security breaches at the Palace that year alone before he was finally caught. When was that? Klaus thought, searching his memory. July of 1982.
“You’ve been a guest of Her Majesty for some time,” he said finally.
“Five years,” Siberian Shadow replied. His eyes narrowed. “And you are the infamous Iron Klaus. Someone must think I’m rather important. No doubt I’ll receive a hero’s welcome when I return home.”
The Major grunted, thinking it would be more likely this poser would be packed off to Siberia to live up to his name. “Let’s go,” he said curtly, waving a hand to the others.
Klaus had the SIS men take the lead, the prisoner between them, while he followed behind. It was all too obvious that the prisoner wasn’t the only one who was slightly unnerved by this.
“Major, wouldn’t you like to walk ahead of us?” Jones asked apprehensively as they made their way through the terminal.
“I’d rather have him where I can see him,” the Major replied coldly. Especially since he was the only one being permitted to carry a gun into the Soviet Union.
Agent B had gone to make certain all the paperwork was in order so there would be no delays. Agent Z was sent ahead to the gate to give it a security sweep while Agent A stayed with the first SIS man, having been charged with calling ahead to Berlin, the first stop on the journey to Moscow. The Major and his subordinates would go to Berlin via a commercial carrier. After this, the Major, the SIS men, and Siberian Shadow would be transferred to a military jet that would take them directly to the Soviet Union. They would then be taken to the Lubyanka, where the so-called exchange would take place.
At the same time the Major and the others were in route to Moscow, a KGB contingent would also be taking a prisoner to an undisclosed location. After all this was concluded, the Major and his British counterparts would join the group of businessmen at the conference and leave the Soviet Union with them.
It all seems very straightforward. All the paperwork had been in order. Agent A had verified that a plane was already waiting for the Major’s arrival in Berlin. On top of this, the Kremlin had reiterated its desire for this gesture of openness to go off without a hitch.
When they arrived at the gate, Agent Z drew the Major’s attention to a familiar face among the crowd of relatives saying their goodbyes. The Major halted the others and turned to Z. “How long has he been there?”
“He was there when I came to check the area, sir,” Z replied in a low voice.
The Major nodded and then turned to the crowd, a cheerful expression on his face. “Now there’s a face I didn’t expect to be seeing me off,” he said happily, crossing to the KGB agent, Polar Bear.
Polar Bear scowled. How he hated when the Major greeted him in this manner.
“After what happened in Austria,* I thought you’d be living in Siberia by now,” the Major said.
“I think you have me confused with a different currier,” Polar Bear replied.
The Major’s eyes flickered. So somebody did go to Siberia after that cock up. Good. “Making sure your Comrade gets off on schedule?” he asked coldly.
“I didn’t believe it when they told me that Iron Klaus would actually be taking Siberian Shadow to Moscow.”
“Orders are orders,” the Major said dismissively. “Would I be correct in assuming there’ll be a similar greeting party in Berlin?”
“Perhaps…” Polar Bear said evasively. “I should think the greeting party in Moscow would be of more concern to you.”
The Major waved a hand in the air. “Didn’t you hear? I’m a personal guest of your General Secretary Gorbachev.” He could not resist the small smile that twisted the edges of his mouth at the astonished look this announcement produced. “With full diplomatic status,” he added smugly.
The conversation ended when the final boarding call came over the public address system. The Major turned to see his alphabets patiently waiting beside the nervous looking SIS men, who stood twitching and glancing towards the gate. Idiots. Do they think I’m gonna miss the plane?
Within half an hour, the plane was lifting off. The Major settled back in his seat and lit a cigarette. Despite the appearance of Polar Bear, things were going much too well for his liking. Even without his subordinates around to screw things up at the final destination, he was certain something would go wrong. But at least there was no possible way for Eroica to show up and make a mess of things. There was no way the Earl would go anywhere near the KGB.
* * *
Somewhere South of Leningrad, Soviet Union
“This collection I’m to be looking at,” Eroica said calmly. “Where is it, exactly?”
“Apparently, it’s been in storage since the war,” Ivanov replied. “The owner died a few weeks ago, and it was only just discovered when his heirs came to claim his estate.”
Eroica’s eyebrows went up. “I didn’t realize the Soviet government contacted family living outside the Communist block.”
Ivanov cleared his throat. “The heirs in question are from East Germany.”
“Ah!” Eroica nodded. That explained a great deal. There would be no problems contacting someone in another Communist country. Nor would they be very likely to argue should Moscow decide it wanted to keep whatever treasure this individual might possess.
The Earl noticed that his host had fallen into an awkward silence and wondered how best to begin the conversation again. He did not have to. At that moment, one of Ivanov’s assistants came to their compartment. After a brief conversation, he left.
“You’re surrounded by such handsome young men,” Eroica sighed. He leaned over to watch the receding figure move down the corridor. Ivanov shifted uncomfortably in his seat and the Earl gave him an innocent look. “Is something wrong?”
“My colleague is a man of the old school, Lord Gloria,” Ivanov began nervously. He met the Earl’s inquiring gaze and waved his hand to take in his colorful apparel. “Your…er, decadent appearance may be disconcerting for him.”
Eroica leaned forward, putting his chin in his hand and fluttering his eyelashes. “Only my appearance, Comrade?” he said breathily.
Again, Ivanov cleared his throat nervously. He pulled at his collar as he attempted to come up with the right words. Is it getting hot in here?
This reaction caused the Earl to laugh and he sat back in his seat. “Don’t look so worried. My man packed a very respectable business suit for me.” He indicated a garment bag hanging against the wall that had somehow escaped the other man’s notice. “I didn’t want to soil it on the train. It’s rather expensive, and Mr. James would never forgive me if I ruined it.”
“Don’t fret. I’ll change before we arrive.”
Relief flooded visibly over Ivanov’s face. “I appreciate that, Lord Gloria.”
“I want to make a good impression on your associate,” the Earl added archly, grinning at the disconcerted expression this produced on the other man’s face.
“If you’ll excuse me, I have to meet with my assistants.” So saying, Ivanov practically fled from the compartment.
Eroica giggled and glanced out the window. He pulled out the pocket dimension and smiled knowingly as he took a cigarette and lighter from it. He casually lit the cigarette and smiled again. How many treasures would this little wonder contain when he made the return journey to Leningrad?
* * *
Turlough sat quietly near the end of a long conference table while the Doctor happily chatted with several apparently high ranking Soviet officials. The young man had been introduced to all concerned and then hurriedly taken to a chair by the Doctor, who told him to stay put and not interrupt.
Someone came in with some very sweet tea and then, about an hour later, with some very strong Vodka. Fortunately, no one bothered to offer the boy any of the latter. He sat calmly sipping his tea while the Doctor and the others knocked back glass after glass of Vodka. Turlough could not help but wonder how they could possibly keep track of what they were talking about during all this…toasting.
After several hours, the Doctor got to his feet and thanked everyone at the table. Then it was bear hugs all around, slaps on the back, and kisses on the cheek.
Turlough got slowly to his feet and waited for all this nonsense to be over. Suddenly, the Doctor had him by the arm and was steering him out the door.
“Come on,” the Doctor said in a low voice. “That’s done it.”
“Done what?” his confused companion replied.
“Cemented my standing with the current regime of the Communist Party, as it were.”
Turlough blinked. “It did?”
“Yes. Apparently, my past exploits with UNIT did not go unnoticed by Moscow.”
“Is that good or bad?”
“Considering who one of the individuals was that I was working with at the time, not good as far as the KGB was concerned.”
“But not now?”
“No. The Kremlin is giving us a cover story,” the Doctor informed. “So, tomorrow morning, all the papers necessary for us to begin a complete and scientific evaluation of the matter transmission experiments in the Lubyanka will be ready and waiting.” He pushed open a door and continued down a long corridor.
“Yes. As I said. It helps to have friends in high places.”
Turlough nodded. Then it suddenly occurred to him that they were striding through the Kremlin unimpeded. It also occurred to him that the Doctor was still cold sober, which he remarked on.
“Ah. Well, my liver is currently working overtime to metabolize all that alcohol,” the Doctor said offhandedly. “Time Lord physiology does have its uses from time to time.”
I’ll bet. “There won’t be a repeat performance when we pick up your paperwork, I hope,” Turlough said dryly.
The Doctor gave him a disapproving look. “No.”
* * *
The Lubyanka, KGB Headquarters
Several hours after lifting off from London’s Heathrow airport, the Major found himself in a car on the way to KGB headquarters. He reflected back on the numerous failed attempts by KGB agents to get him to Moscow. Now, here he was going willingly. Well, not exactly willingly, but he was under orders. Goddamn, bloody, fucking NATO.
The Major was actually surprised that none of the agents he had encountered over the years were present to gloat. Polar Bear was undoubtedly still in London. Mischa the Cub had greeted him in Berlin. That was only two out of how many others over the years? Perhaps the higher ups at the Kremlin were attempting to make a show of things. Which only caused him to be all the more suspicious. If the Commies let Iron Klaus leave the very heart of KGB headquarters unscathed, then the intelligence community might be fool enough to let its guard down.
Idiots, Klaus thought as he started up the stone steps. The bloody KGB never does anything without an ulterior motive.
As in London, the Major followed after the others. He was stunned when the journey led to the third floor office of KGB Chairman Viktor Chebrikov.
If the KGB is going to make a move, this would be the perfect time, he thought as he went through the official motions of turning Siberian Shadow over to his superiors. A conference call was made to the United States and it was only then that the Major learned that his opposite number in the KGB had been delivering their prisoner to CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia.
Chebrikov spoke with CIA Director William Webster for several minutes. As far as the Major could see, they were just exchanging platitudes. The KGB Chairman made a small speech about the new reforms, which brought to mind his less than banal statements that had been on the front of Pravda that very January. The man had actually admitted that employees of the KGB had committed illegalities.
The Chairman then stunned the Major again by personally thanking him for leading the team that returned Siberian Shadow to the Soviet Union. For the sake of diplomacy, Klaus grudgingly accepted the handshake, but was not about to give the man a bear hug.
Finally, the little gathering ended and the Major and his SIS counterparts were being taken to where the businessmen were gathered to discuss security and surveillance systems. Klaus lit a cigarette as the group made their way down the corridor. He looked completely relaxed, but his eyes were never still for an instant.
“I didn’t think we were going to get out of there alive,” Jones said nervously, throwing a quick glance back at the now closed door of the Chairman’s office.
“Neither did I,” Smith replied. He breathed a sigh of relief as they boarded the elevator.
Klaus moved to the back of the lift and watched in some annoyance as the SIS men relaxed visibly. “We’re not out of the Lubyanka yet,” he said aridly as the doors closed.
* * *
INSIDE THE LUBYANKA
Security & Surveillance Conference
“You must be our late arrivals.”
The Major turned to the man who had spoken, thinking this was so ridiculously obvious it did not even require a reply. Instead, he settled for a piercing look and gave a small smile when the man flinched. “Hans Keller,” he said, shaking the man’s already outstretched hand.
“Ah! You’d be with the German contingent.”
Again with the fucking obvious! Bloody Yanks. “Ja, zhat I vould,” Klaus sing-songed in a caricature German accent.
The SIS men gave him a stricken look before they were suddenly being accosted by the man who identified himself as Jeff Miller, one of the organizers of the conference.
“Well, let’s get you settled,” Mr. Miller said happily. “We’re just about to get back underway.”
“I’m still a bit muddy on the details,” Jones said mildly.
“Oh, just brainstorming today. We’ll take everyone’s ideas to the Commies when we’re done. Run it up the flagpole and see who salutes,” Miller grinned. “We’ll teach ‘em what Madison Avenue is all about.”
“Oh, jolly good!” Smith said in an exaggerated tone. Miller rushed off to get the leaders of the other groups. “I have no idea what the bloody Yank just said,” Smith said under his breath.
“I think the KGB would be preferable to that idiot,” the Major replied aridly.
“At least the Commies have better taste in suits,” Jones agreed, taking in the American’s garish clothing. The majority of the assembled businessmen were dressed in the standard three-piece suit and tie. Only a few, such as Miller, had chosen “business casual.”
“When are we supposed to get out of here?” Smith asked quietly as the three waited near the door. “Now wouldn’t be soon enough for me.”
Klaus mentally agreed with him. The sooner they were out from behind the Iron Curtain, the better. “Tomorrow,” he replied in an equally quiet voice. “We’re only supposed to be at this little gathering as a cover. My agents already verified the details. You’ll leave the building with the British contingent. I’ll be with the German group. Your airline tickets should already be at the front desk of your hotel. And a car will be waiting to take you to the airport at seven o’clock tomorrow morning.”
Jones nodded. “My thanks to your agents, Major.” He groaned as Miller waved a hand in their direction. The idiot was speaking with some men at the front of the room. “Happy faces, Mr. Smith,” he said as he plastered a grin on his face.
“Yes. Happy faces, Herr…um?” Smith’s voice trailed off when he turned to the Major.
“Yes. Happy faces, Herr Keller.”
The Major gave a snort. “I’ll leave that to you two jolly Englishmen,” he said as he lit another cigarette.
“You lucky bugger. The stoic Teutonic fits you like glove, Major,” Jones said as he acknowledged the man grinning inanely at him from the front of the room. “I hate playing the ruddy jolly Englishman.”
The Major’s eyes flickered but he did not reply as someone from their respective groups came to collect them at that moment. They joined the others as the conference finally got underway.
* * *
“I feel like I’ve been on that train forever,” Eroica said as he stepped onto the platform and stretched. As promised, he had changed from his customarily outlandish attire to a very respectable Armani suit and tie. He had even managed to procure a rosebud for his buttonhole.
“If you’ll come this way, Lord Gloria.”
Eroica turned to see Romanov a few feet away. “Comrade Romanov!” he said brightly. “I didn’t know you would be coming with us. Oh, how positively delicious!”
Romanov did not reply, giving the Earl a cold, disapproving look, which went completely ignored.
You call that intimidating? Eroica thought dismissively as he looked around the platform. The Major could eat you for breakfast. Then he giggled as his own words struck him. Several images in his own desire to be eaten for breakfast by the Major came to mind, all of which he knew the officer would object to violently.
Keep your mind on the job, Eroica reminded himself. You can’t afford to let your lechery run away with you. Especially in Communist Russia!
“This looks like a rather large city,” he remarked, trying to get his mind back on the subject of art…and thieving. “I thought this collection was in a small village.”
“I’m sorry. My English. It isn’t what it should be,” Ivanov said apologetically as he came up beside him. “The man who died lived in a small village. His collection is stored here.” He held out a hand to the waiting car.
“Isn’t it a bit late to be looking at these?” Eroica asked as he got into the car. “We’re losing the light,” he said, glancing up to the fast darkening sky.
“There’s plenty of light in the studio, Lord Gloria. No need to worry about passing summer thunderstorms stealing the sunlight.”
Eroica nodded. “Natural light is always the best.” Except when I’m the one doing the stealing, then pitch dark it best.
Ivanov settled back in his seat. “If you feel you need to see them in better light, we’ll return tomorrow,” he said amiably. “First, we’ll get you introduced to everyone.”
“Oh, if you must…” the Earl sighed dramatically.
“Then we’ll get you to the finest restaurant in the city for dinner. How does that sound?”
The Earl brightened considerably upon hearing this. “That sounds lovely.”
* * *
Security & Surveillance Conference
Klaus listened as the businessmen bickered back and forth about technological advances and current “state-of-the-art” technology, all of which would be considered outdated by the intelligence community. He nodded when others did, deferring to someone else with “better knowledge” when asked his opinion. He preferred to chain smoke and observe. When he first heard of this conference, he feared the Soviets would be getting hold of ultra-modern or top secret equipment. Now that he’d seen what was being presented, he realized his worries were groundless. If the Reds were going to get their hands on modern technology, it certainly wouldn’t be from this lot.
There was a break in the afternoon, and Klaus decided to take advantage of the lax atmosphere and slip out. He might never get another opportunity to walk around the Lubyanka again. After all, he held only temporary diplomatic status. As soon as he returned to Germany, it would be null and void. He left the conference room with a few others heading to the Men’s room. No one would pay any attention to him, nor would they be looking for him to return with any specific group. He took care of business, and then took his time washing his hands as one group of men was replaced by another. He casually lit a cigarette as he left the room, and then quickly headed in the opposite direction of the conference room, vanishing around a corner before anyone noticed.
Considering where he was, the Major was surprised at what little security there actually was. He expected to see at least a guard or two somewhere along the line. He kept a mental note of the turns he made, keeping to a specific pattern so he would be able to find his way back to the conference room.
A door opened up ahead of him followed by voices. He ducked around a corner and strained to listen. Scientists discussing technical mumbo jumbo, he concluded. Then again, any scientific information he could gather would be of value to someone, even if he himself didn’t understand a word of it. With this in mind, he decided to follow them.
Klaus had barely started down the corridor when he realized he wasn’t alone. Someone had obviously spotted him and was following. He continued until he was within a few feet of the door that had opened before he casually lit a cigarette and turned. The corridor was the empty. So, he waited. After a minute, he heard the man shift position and a ghost of a smile came to his face. Amateur.
“Well, don’t stand around in the shadows,” he said calmly. “If you don’t want to lose track of me, you’d better keep up.”
A man Klaus did not recognize stepped into the corridor. From the insignia on his uniform, the Major recognized the man’s rank as Lieutenant. So I only rate a junior officer. How low has Iron Klaus sunk?
“You’re a long way from the conference, sir,” the Lieutenant said as he came forward.
“I was looking for the john” the Major replied coolly.
“Really? You weren’t looking for other things?”
“It’s a security and surveillance conference. I was checking the security. Not very efficient, in my view.”
A door near the room the Major was heading toward opened and another man he did not recognize stood on the threshold. He exchanged a look with the Lieutenant, who said simply, “Comrade Borodin.”
Borodin acknowledged the greeting with a nod and turned to the Major. “I can only assume you’re trying to collect intelligence information to take back to Bonn, Major Eberbach,” he said knowingly.
The Major’s eyes flickered. Dammit, I was set up. They let me wander this far into the building. Why? He waved his hand dismissively. “There isn’t anything here that I don’t know already.” He made a point to stubbing out his cigarette on the portrait of Mikhail Gorbachev that was on the wall behind him.
Borodin stepped back in the doorway, holding out a hand. “Please, Major, come in. I’ve a feeling you’ve never seen this before.”
The Major threw a quick glance back at the armed officer blocking his escape. The threat was obvious. When no one made any move to search him, he wondered if they realized that he was armed. That was definitely a piece of information to keep to himself. At least for the time being.
Klaus gave a non-committal shrug and entered the room. Whatever he could glean, he reminded himself, and then get the hell out as quickly as possible. He’d head for the nearest Embassy of a NATO country and contact Bonn. After that, the politicians could fight out the details of getting him out from behind the Iron Curtain.
* * *
Inter-Galactic Medical Conference
“I hope your first visit to Earth was enjoyable, your highness,” Rosewood said urbanely as he led his royal guest through the enormous building.
When Rosewood originally learned he had been assigned as aide to a visiting Crown Prince of a planet he had never heard of, he had foreseen a week of ego stroking compounded by lengthy explanations of all things human. He soon learned that his royal charge was nothing like the other aristocrats to whom he had been assigned. The Prince was extremely intelligent and very knowledgeable about inter-species medicine. In fact, he was a self-sufficient individual who appreciated candor and had absolutely no illusions about himself whatsoever.
Prince Jason gave his aide a small smile. “Actually, this isn’t my first visit to Earth, Rosewood,” he said mildly.
Rosewood gave the Prince a startled look. “Really, sir? I was sure the Ministry said this was your first visit.”
“Well, it’s my first as Crown Prince. And the first in this century. They just didn’t go back far enough.”
This was enough to stop Rosewood in his tracks. “This century? ”
“My dear Rosewood, I’m Alterran, not human. I’m almost three hundred years old.”
Rosewood’s eyes grew wide as saucers. “Three hundred? ” he gasped, looking the Prince up and down. He looked very human. Average height and build, curly black hair with not a speck of grey anywhere. In fact, he looked like he was in his late twenties.
Jason grinned. “I should’ve realized they hadn’t told you all the facts when I first arrived.”
“Sir, all they told me was your title and that you were a highly qualified physician.”
Jason laughed at this. “At least they have me as highly qualified. That’s something I suppose.”
Rosewood’s next question was forestalled when a uniformed individual appeared with a message requesting that the Prince come to Transmat 12.
Jason raised an eyebrow, exchanging a baffled look with his aide. “I’m not being deported from the planet, am I?” he asked jokingly.
The officer gave him a puzzled look. “No, sir,” he said seriously.
Rosewood chuckled. “His highness was joking, Corporal.”
“Yes, sir,” the Corporal replied stiffly before turning to lead the way.
Jason shook his head. Why is it military men never have a sense of humor?
When the Prince arrived at the transmat room, he found more serious expressions. Then he learned why. Transmat 12 had been experiencing intermittent power fluctuations. Since all the other transmats were functioning perfectly, the fault was thought to be isolated to this single unit. And all efforts of the technicians to trace the origins of the fault had proven fruitless.
“I’m sorry, I’m not following this,” Jason interrupted. “Why did you want me? I’m not a transmat technician.”
“No, sir,” lead technician Barnes replied. “But I understand that you have considerable knowledge of temporal mechanics and time-travel.”
Rosewood made a small startled noise, causing the Prince to throw him an amused sideways glance. The poor man had been his aide for more than a week, and only on the day he was scheduled to leave was he learning about his considerable experience and background. What would the poor man think if he learned he was what many referred to as a “shape-shifter?” Vulgar term, the Alterran reflected with distaste. He much preferred the term, “transmute.”
“True. But I still don’t see how it’s relevant,” the Prince replied.
Technician Barnes motioned the Alterran over to the computer screen. “We just discovered the energy fluctuation is external.” He pointed at the wave pattern being displayed. Before he could say anything further, he heard Jason catch his breath.
“Good Lord, do you have any idea what that is?” Jason asked, turning his now wide sapphire blue eyes in the technician’s direction.
“Not exactly, sir. That’s why I sent for you.”
“It means you have a transmat sitting on top of a temporal anomaly!” the Prince announced. “I think you should start from the beginning, Mr. Barnes.”
* * *
The Major kept a bored expression on his face, but as usually, his eyes took in everything. The room was large and very functional, the back wall covered with gauges and dials. A massive computer, perhaps? There was a kind of podium or control panel a few metres in front of it that had an angled surface. He wondered if an operator was meant to be standing behind it.
Klaus turned his gaze to the other side of the room and frowned. There was a large square platform that had a tall, clear plastic enclosure on it. No, not even an enclosure. It only had three sides. Another platform stood against the far wall, but had only loose equipment and wires piled on it. He turned back to Borodin, who had an expectant expression on his face. “Don’t tell me. You’ve discovered how to make a bullet proof telephone booth,” Klaus said blandly.
“Very amusing,” Borodin replied.
“Enough of this crap,” Klaus snapped impatiently. “What the hell do you want? I have a conference I’m supposed to be attending. My Chief expects a full report.”
Borodin waved a hand. The Lieutenant who had been following the Major took him by the arm. Klaus had to fight not to pull away as he was dragged further into the room and finally thrust against the wall. Find out what they’re up too, he reminded himself. Don’t tip your hand too soon.
“We both know that Iron Klaus isn’t here to attend a conference,” Borodin replied coldly as he came to stand in front of him.
“If you know who I am, you also know I’m here as a guest of your General Secretary,” the Major replied coldly. He gave the man an angry look. “Your own Director admitted there were…illegalities within the KGB. Does he know they’re still going on?”
Borodin growled and slapped the Major across the face. “Insolent dog!”
The Major touched his hand to his face and looked up, his eyes blazing. “That was a mistake.”
* * *
TRANSMAT OR TIME CORRIDOR?
Technician Barnes had only just finished his rundown of events when the transmat systems came to life on their own. He gave a low groan, looking at the readings in despair. Beside him, Prince Jason had a different reaction. His eyes flashed over the readings and then to the monitor atop the control desk. “That’s not an anomaly,” he announced. “It’s a time corridor.”
“Time corridor?” Barnes replied. “How’s that possible?”
“I’ve no idea.” Jason’s fingers were already clattering on the keyboard. “It’s fluctuating all over the place. Moving forward and backward in time. The transmat must pick it up whenever it moves into this time zone.”
The Technician glanced over to his equally bewildered co-workers. When he had insisted on sending for a temporal engineer, his superiors had simply scoffed at him, something he feared the Prince would also do. He was greatly relieved that this was not the case, and equally relieved that his decision to send for the Prince had not been in vain.
“Um, sir? What can we do about this?”
Jason looked up, a puzzled expression on his face. “Do?”
“To shut it down?”
“Ah!” Jason grinned. “Nothing, I’m afraid. It has to be shut down at the source, wherever—whenever—that is.”
Barnes groaned and closed his eyes. “Great.”
“Don’t despair, Mr. Barnes. I’ve a friend who’s an expert in these matters. He’ll be able to deal with the source.”
“A temporal engineer?”
“Better? What’s better than a temporal engineer?
Jason looked the technician in the eye, his smile widening. “A Time Lord.”
* * *
The sound of voices coming from the hallway brought a knowing smile to Borodin’s face. “Now we’ll see why you’re really here, Major,” he said cryptically.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” came the confused reply.
A split second later, the door behind the officer opened. “My colleague is just in here,” came Ivanov’s voice.
The Major’s eyes widened when a very familiar English voice replied, “This isn’t exactly the type of storage facility I was expecting.”
The Earl entered and stopped dead as he took in the room. Then his eyes fell on the equally astonished Klaus. “Major!” he gasped, not quite able to take it in. He looked around himself, become more frightened and confused by the second.
“What is this?” Eroica demanded, turning to Ivanov. “Where have you brought me?”
“You idiot, this is KGB Headquarters,” the Major snapped.
Eroica blanched visibly. “What?”
“This is my colleague, Comrade Alexei Borodin,” Ivanov informed, holding a hand out in the scientist’s direction.
Before the Earl could think of a reply, he found himself being pulled away from the door by one of the two Soviet Army men who had been part of his “escort” into the building. He was roughly shoved over to where the Major stood glaring at him. He fell back against the officer and turned quickly to face him, a startled expression on his face. He looked the Major in the eye, his eyes flashing down to where he gun was and back up again.
The Major’s eyes flickered in response. Obviously, the Earl had felt the gun when he collided into him. Moreover, he was smart enough to keep this information to himself. Or so Klaus thought. Suddenly, the idiot was hugging him!
“Oh, Major, I’m so glad you’re here to protect me,” Eroica cooed.
“He’s got a gun!” someone gasped as the Major’s jacket was pushed open far enough to reveal his shoulder holster.
“Trust me, Major,” Eroica said quietly before the admonition could get any further.
Klaus growled and continued to glare at the thief as he was searched. The man searching him was surprised to find the officer unarmed. As was the Major, who suddenly realized that Eroica had taken his weapon when he was making a show of hugging him.
“Really, Major,” Eroica chided. “Must you always wear that thing? Even when you’re not allowed to carry a gun?”
“You never know when you might find one,” the Major replied aridly, giving the armed guards at the door a knowing look.
“Search the Earl, too,” Ivanov ordered.
The Major rolled his eyes. “That will make his day.”
Eroica gave him a bright smile. “Jealous, Major?” he said archly.
“I wouldn’t waste my time searching you for a gun. You’re a lousy shot. Completely useless with firearms.”
“Oh, that hurt!” Eroica moaned. He grabbed the Major’s lapel and gave him a quick shake. “I demand an apology!”
Klaus was momentarily thrown. “You what?”
“I demand an apology,” the Earl repeated firmly.
This time, the Major was fully aware of his weapon being returned as the Earl made a point of running a hand over his chest when he withdrew it.
“You’ll get a fat lip if you don’t take your hands off me,” Klaus growled threateningly.
“Enough!” Ivanov roared. He waved a hand and the pair were roughly separated.
“What the hell did you bring this bloody bugger to Moscow for?” the Major demanded.
“According to our records, Major Eberbach, there’s a long standing relationship established between the two of you,” Ivanov informed smugly.
“Christ, you idiots can’t get anything right! How many times must I tell you I want nothing to do with this bloody nuisance!”
“What do you expect, Major?” Eroica said dismissively. “They can’t even get your name right.”
The Major gave a disgusted snort in reply.
“I think it’s lack of breeding myself,” Eroica went on coolly.
The Major’s eyes narrowed. Although he could not deny being amused when the Earl went on to say, “First there’s the obvious lack of manners on Comrade Ivanov’s part. No formal introductions on my arrival. And we don’t even get Comrade Borodin’s patronymic.”
“Perhaps the bastard doesn’t have one.”
Eroica’s eyes widened in surprise. Was the Major actually going along with this frivolity? Then again, he would go along with anything that came at the expense of the KGB. “I do believe you may be right,” he drawled, looking Borodin up and down.
“Enough!” Ivanov thundered again before addressing the Major once more. “Do you deny the Earl’s involvement in your mission just this spring in Austria, Major?”*
“Yes, God dammit!” Klaus said vehemently. “He wasn’t involved, he was in my bloody way. Again. Fucking the whole thing up, just like he does every time he shows up.”
While Ivanov had been struggling to regain control of the situation, Borodin was activating the equipment. The plastic “telephone booth” started to hum. A moment later, the interior seemed to distort, gaining the attention of the Major and Eroica.
“So it wouldn’t matter to you if we used Lord Gloria to test our equipment, would it?” Borodin asked calmly.
The Major waved a hand in the air. “You can carve him up for Christmas dinner for all I care.”
“Major, that’s not funny,” Eroica said nervously. “Anyway, Communists don’t celebrate Christmas.”
“Then you’re safe from being turned into Christmas dinner, aren’t you?”
“Maybe I should ask to watch when they take you into an interrogation room and torture you,” Eroica fired back angrily.
“Yes, you’d like that, wouldn’t you?”
As with all the other KGB agents before him, Ivanov was completely thrown by the pair’s by-play. The reports couldn’t have gotten it that wrong. He waved a hand and one of the guards took hold of the Earl.
“Major, you’re not really going to let them throw me in there, are you?” Eroica demanded fearfully.
The Major did not reply directly, turning instead to Borodin. “Since this is a demonstration,” he said in a bored tone, “it might help if I knew what was being demonstrated.”
Borodin grinned. “Are you familiar with the theory of matter transmission?”
“You mean as in, ‘Beam me up, Scotty?’” the Major said in a mocking tone.
“A transporter!” Eroica gasped. “Like on Professor X?”
Everyone in the room gave him a blank look. “Oh, really,” Eroica moaned. “Professor X. On the BBC! The mysterious traveler who roams the universe in his pillar box fighting evil.”*
“Sounds like the kind of drivel you’d enjoy,” the Major snorted dismissively.
Ivanov sighed heavily. If there was a relationship between this pair, it was mutual disdain as far as he could see.
“We’re wasting time,” Borodin injected.
“Quite right,” Ivanov replied. He waved a hand at the guard. “Throw him in.”
“What! No!” Eroica exclaimed. The Lieutenant who had been following the Major came over to help the man already holding him. He struck the struggling Earl hard across the face before taking him by the arm.
“Major, do something!”
The Major stood in a stunned silence as the horrified Earl was thrust into the box, and then vanished completely.
“You idiots!” Ivanov thundered. “Your orders were to let him struggle! All that time and effort, wasted!”
“I take it I was supposed to stop that happening,” Klaus said blandly. He received an angry glare in reply. “Where’s he gone to?”
“No idea,” Borodin replied dismissively. “We’ve never been able to get anything to rematerialize properly.”
“What?” The Major turned a disbelieving gaze back at the booth. “Are you saying he’s dead?”
“He will be when he materializes at the other end, wherever that may be,” Borodin replied coldly.
“And if you don’t want to be next,” Ivanov rejoined, “you’ll tell us what your mission is.”
The Major blinked. “My mission?”
“Don’t play dumb, Major. It doesn’t suit you.”
“My mission was to deliver Siberian Shadow and return to Germany.”
Ivanov gave him a dark look. “And…?”
“And nothing. What do you morons think I’m doing here?”
Ivanov waved a hand. “I think, rather than waste the power for Comrade Borodin’s device, we should try…other means.”
“I don’t think so,” the Major replied. There’s no way the KGB, or anyone else, is gonna take Iron Klaus alive. He pulled his Magnum and pointed it at the Lieutenant just as he was reaching for him, stopping the man in his tracks.
“Don’t just stand there! Get him!” Ivanov screamed.
No one moved.
The Major’s eyes flickered. “Your men have more sense than you do.”
Ivanov pulled a gun and was shot down for his trouble.
Klaus took advantage of the diversion, decking the Lieutenant. “I’m the only one who hits that bugger,” he stated coldly. He stepped into the booth, a smug expression coming to his face. He turned and gave a small salute. “Do svidunia, Comrades,” he said as he vanished.
* * *
Jason was checking over the newest readings when someone across the room said, “Mr. Barnes, there’s something in there again.”
Jason looked up sharply. “Again?”
“Yes, sir,” Barnes replied. “We’ve noticed…er, I don’t know. Debris, I suppose. In the anomaly.”
The Prince returned his attention to the monitor, his fingers flying over the controls. After a few seconds, his eyes grew wide. “That’s not debris! There’s someone in there!” he exclaimed. He waved a hand at the transmat booth. “Somebody close that door. Quickly. I might be able to retrieve them.”
“What?” This was Barnes, who came over to see what the Alterran was looking at.
Jason did not even look up, his attention glued to the controls. “Got ‘em!” he said happily and finally looked up, seeing a form slowly materializing within the booth.
Everyone in the room seemed to be holding their breath as the crumpled form solidified, the individual’s long blond hair covering their face.
“Goddess, it’s a woman!” someone exclaimed.
“Barnes, keep an eye on the readings,” Jason ordered as he crossed the room. He pulled the door open and knelt down, carefully turning the unconscious arrival onto her—his!—back. Jason felt his heart miss a beat when he saw the familiar face, his eyes growing wide. “My God, Dorian…” he breathed, his fingers going to the unconscious man’s neck where, to his relief, he found a weak pulse.
It had been more than a century and a half since Jason and Eroica had crossed paths; long before the Alterran would learn he was to the Crown Prince of his home world. The last time Jason had seen the Earl was in the Earth year 1983 during an adventure in Iceland when he was still traveling with the Doctor.*
Jason quickly checked the unconscious Eroica over. He didn’t appear much older than the last time the Alterran had seen him, so he must have entered the time corridor more or less in the same decade as the events in Iceland. The thief had a bruise forming on his face as well as a few others on his arms. Someone had been slapping him around.
Jason looked up as another thought struck him. He could think of at least one person who would not hesitate to strike the Earl. This thought had scarcely passed through the Prince’s mind when Barnes called, “Sir, there’s…someone else in the corridor.”
“I can probably guess who,” Jason said softly. He lifted Dorian into his arms and carried him from the booth, placing him gently on the floor. “Somebody call for medical help,” he ordered as he rose to his feet. He returned to the controls, his eyes flashing over the readings again. “Now… let’s see if I’m right.”
Less then a minute later, the Major’s unconscious form was materializing within the transmat, bringing a knowing smile to Jason’s face. “Bingo,” he said happily. “Somebody get him out of there,” he then ordered. “Then I can shut this thing down.”
Barnes gave him a stunned look. “I thought you said you couldn’t shut it down.”
“Ah. Yes, well…no. But I can throw it off-line for a while.”
Jason looked up, watching impatiently as the Major was removed from the booth. The moment the door was closed, he sent an energy pulse along the corridor. To his delight, his plan worked and the time corridor vanished. An alarm sounded at the same time and he quickly silenced it. I thought I took care of that, he thought as he reset the controls.
“Sir, that alarm means…”
“I am well aware of what it means, Mr. Barnes,” Jason snapped impatiently. “I’ve already taken care of it.”
The technician’s eyes narrowed. The alarm meant that whoever had just materialized had been carrying a weapon, which the transmat would have removed. How, he wondered, had the Prince “taken care of it?”
Before Barnes could enquire further, Jason was turning his attention to the men he had just plucked out of thin air. The time vortex was not a place to be without adequate protection. They would’ve suffered severe cellular damage, even in the short time they were inside the time corridor. Medical assistance arrived just as the Prince was making his way across the room.
It was all too obvious that no one knew the first thing about treating the injuries caused by the temporal vortex. The Alterran Healer took charge of the situation. He knew that if his friends did not receive the proper treatment, and fast, they would die. It was as simple as that. And they were the only ones who could tell him the location of the entrance to the temporal corridor.
* * *
Borodin’s mouth hung open as he stood staring at the booth where the Major had been only seconds before. Suddenly the console in front of him started to throw out sparks. He looked down at it in shock, turning to look at the dials covering the back wall.
Before the man could come to any conclusions, several circuits blew up, throwing the entire system offline and shutting down the power flowing to the booth.
“Damn, damn, damn!” Borodin screamed, thumping his fist on the console several times. He looked over at the guards, who were staring down at Ivanov’s body. “Don’t just stand there,” he thundered. “Get that carcass out of here.”
The guards looked at him and recoiled at the man’s sudden, manic behavior. He always seemed to get this way when someone…disappeared in the transmat room. Just how many enemies of the State had entered over the decades never to been seen again? Many of the hardliners of the Communist Party were extremely unhappy with the “softening” of the party line. Just how many more people would disappear?
“Er, Comrade Borodin?” the Lieutenant said hesitantly. “How are we to explain this?”
Borodin looked over at the booth, a low growl rising in his throat. It would have been so simple to dispose of the body with the system online. Now they would have to take more conventional means. “I’ll take care of the questions.” He glared at the men, adding, “I’m sure I can rely on you all to keep what just happened to yourselves.”
This obvious threat sent a collective shiver down everyone’s spines.
“I fear the Comrade Director will be distressed,” the Lieutenant said calmly, “when he learns how Comrade Ivanov misunderstood the purpose of your demonstration to our honored guest.”
Borodin smiled approvingly. “Yes. He’ll be most distressed. As will the General Secretary.” I, on the other hand, am delighted. Damn fool got what was coming to him.
* * *
GUESTS OR PRISONERS?
ARGO Flight Deck
Jason stood with his arms folded across his chest while his pilot Sully activated the communications system and took a seat at the console. Sully was a thin, smallish individual with sandy-blond hair that always seemed to be falling into his eyes.
“Don’t you think you should be the one doing this?” Sully asked apprehensively.
“The Time Lord’s are positively anal when it comes to protocol,” Jason replied knowingly. “Just remember to called me your highness.”
“If I call them directly, they’ll just—” Jason broke off when the face of a Time Lord he did not recognize appeared on the communications screen in front of his pilot.
“Your security clearance code, please,” the Time Lord said without preamble.
“Um…” Sully threw a nervous glance over his shoulder. “I don’t have one.”
“You’re on a security—”
“Oh, for Pete’s sake!” Jason snapped impatiently. He tapped Sully on the shoulder and the man vacated the seat, the Prince dropping down in his place. “Look, whoever you are, I’m Crown Prince Jason of Tel-Shye in the Alterran Empire,” he stated coolly. “I have a priority message that I need relayed to the Doctor. I have no idea where or when he is, so you lot are going to have to find him for me and relay the message.”
The Time Lord gave the Alterran a stricken look, turned to speak to someone off screen and then turned back. “One moment, please, your royal highness.”
The screen flickered and another Time Lord whom Jason did not know appeared. “Your royal highness, my name is Gilgavik. How may I be of assistance?”
“I need to have a messaged relayed to the Doctor,” Jason repeated. He explained about the time corridor and was surprised to learn that the Doctor was already on Earth in the time zone from which it originated. “Would I correct in assuming the origin is in Moscow some time in the latter part of the Twentieth century?”
Gilgavik’s eyes grew wide. “How did you know that?”
Jason grinned. “I retrieved two men from the time corridor. The last time I saw them was in the Earth year 1983. They don’t appear to be very much older, so logically…” And then there’s the dates on all their personal effects.
“You’re quite correct, sir. The point of origin is the Earth year 1987.”
Jason nodded. “If you’d be so kind as to let the Doctor know that I’m here, I would appreciate it. I’m going to try to lock the time corridor at this end so I can travel down it. I’ll be able to meet up with him at the other end.”
Gilgavik’s mouth dropped open. Even a Time Lord would think twice about traveling down an unstable time corridor. “Just how do you intend to lock the corridor?” he asked.
“One of the transmats here keeps picking up the signal whenever it enters this time zone. It’s probably near the site of the one in 1987 and they simply overlap.”
Gilgavik nodded. “That’s feasible,” he agreed. “If I may, I might be able to assist you in the mechanics of locking the time corridor.”
Now it was Jason’s turn to be surprised. Usually the Time Lords did not volunteer anything, especially help. He listened as Gilgavik explained exactly what he needed to do, only having to ask a few questions for clarification.
Finally, the conversation ended and the communications screen when dark. Jason sat thoughtfully a few minutes before turning to his perplexed pilot.
“Now what?” Sully asked.
“Now I get my other paperwork in order.”
Sully nodded absently. “Jason, was that conversation as weird as it looked?”
Jason gave a low grunt. “Weirder. I think I was talking with a CIA agent.”
“Is that good or bad?”
“It depends on whether or not the Doctor knows they’re involved.”
“Swell.” Sully threw a look across the room, suddenly remembering something else. “Uh, speaking of weird. While you were gone, something…odd came through on our own transmat.” He waved a hand, indicating a box across the room.
“Ah! Yes, thank you, Sully. I forgot about that.” Jason jumped to his feet and crossed to the box.
“Dare I ask…?”
The Prince looked up and smiled. “It belongs to a friend.”
“Jason, if you don’t mind my saying so, you have some very strange friends.”
Jason laughed. “My dear Sully, I will not argue with you there.”
* * *
After his disconcerting contact with Gallifrey, Prince Jason returned to the main offices and spent several hours sorting out the proper paperwork that would allow him to remain on Earth. He also made certain all the proper paperwork was filed that would allow him to more fully assist Technician Barnes and his team with Transmat 12. This would clear the way for him to take charge of the two men—the two friends—he had plucked from the time corridor. It was morning before he was finally able to make the journey to the infirmary to check on their progress.
“How are the patients?” Jason asked his aide as they made their way through the building.
“According to Dr. Topov, they’re responding quite well to the treatment you prescribed, sir,” Rosewood replied.
“Good. With any luck, I’ll be able to…” Jason’s voice trailed off as he pushed open the door to the infirmary. Further within, he heard a single raised voice and could not help but smile. Responding well indeed. Poor Topov. He threw a knowing look over at his confused aide. “Somebody isn’t happy. And I don’t even have to guess who.”
Following the voice, Jason pushed open a door to find Dr. Topov attempting to separate his patients. The Prince had to stifle a laugh when he saw the Major wrapped in a sheet and screaming at Eroica at the top of his voice.
“How many times have you interfered in my life, you Goddamn faggot?” the Major ranted.
Eroica was sitting up in bed, his arms crossed. “You can’t blame any of this on me, Major.”
“Then what the hell are you doing in the Soviet Union?”
“I told you. I went to Leningrad on legitimate business. It was your bloody spies who dragged me to Moscow under false pretenses.”
“I can’t believe that you were stupid enough to trust the KGB!”
“I didn’t know it was the KGB,” Eroica countered forcefully. “I thought I was dealing with a legitimate art broker. You don’t think I’d willingly work with those barbarians, do you?”
“Idiot! The KGB watches every westerner who sets foot in this country.”
Eroica gave a derisive snort and turned away in annoyance.
Dr. Topov seized the opportunity to intervene. “Gentlemen, please…”
The Major glared at the physician, who flinched away from his cold, hard green eyes. This allowed Jason to seize the opportunity himself and he cleared his throat loudly.
The Major turned, seeing the Prince and his aide at the door. He drew himself to his full height, eyeing them suspiciously. He took in the Alterran’s royal finery with a distinct air of distaste.
Jason watched this display in admiration, an amused smile coming to his face. You’ve got to give the man credit, even wrapped in a sheet, he can be damned intimidating. Thank God he doesn’t have a gun.
Dr. Topov had a different reaction. “Your royal highness, thank goodness!” he cried, crossing to the amused Prince Jason. “I’m at my wit’s end.”
“Not too long a journey,” Klaus snorted.
“I can see a trip through a temporal corridor hasn’t affected your charming disposition,” Jason observed mildly.
Klaus continued to eye him suspiciously. “Are you the one in charge?”
“So it would appear, Major Eberbach,” Jason replied mildly, a small smile coming to his face at the stunned expression this produced. He turned to the overwhelmed Dr. Topov, asking, “Doctor, are your patients fit to be released?”
“Yes. Yes!” Topov replied gratefully. “More than fit.”
Jason looked up, seeing the Major pull the sheet further around himself. “Dr. Topov, I think Major Eberbach would be more comfortable in his own clothes.”
“What about me?” Eroica called from across the room. It was unusual for him to be ignored and he was feeling distinctly put out by it.
The Alterran gave him a steady look. “I’m sure you’d be more comfortable in the Major’s clothes, too, Lord Gloria. But you’re going to have to settle for your own.”
Eroica blinked, his mouth dropping open.
The Major’s face darkened, his eyes narrowing suspiciously. “Who the hell are you?” he demanded. “What exactly is this place? How did we get here?”
“I’m afraid the answers to those questions aren’t all that simple, Major,” Jason replied evasively. “And they’ll take quite some time to explain.”
The Major snorted, waving a hand in the air. “Typical KGB response.”
Jason gave him a dark look. “I’ve been compared to quite a few things in my life, but never to one of those thugs.”
“The Major thinks everyone is KGB,” Eroica said matter-of-factly.
“What else would you find in KGB Headquarters, you idiot! Boy Scouts?” the Major countered fiercely.
Jason sighed heavily before he turned to Dr. Topov, saying quietly, “You’ll need to give the Major some privacy when he dresses, Doctor. He’s quite the homophobe when Lord Gloria is around.” Seeing the hundreds of questions about to spring from the man’s mouth, the Prince said quickly, “Don’t argue. Just do it. I have to get the last of the paperwork sorted out so I can officially take charge of my…um, guests. I’ll have someone come to collect them in a bit.” So saying, he turned on his heel and left.
* * *
The Prince made straight for the administrative offices where his paperwork was supposed to be waiting. He soon learned that there had been one delay after another. He finally had to resort to contacting Gallifrey again. Once more, the CIA intercepted his communication. He explained the situation and was pleased when the Time Lord on the screen asked to speak with the person in charge.
Jason could not prevent an amused smile from coming to his face as the stodgy Earth official that he had been dealing with was effectively dressed down. Somehow, it made the delay worth it.
* * *
Within half an hour after the Prince left them, the Major and Eroica were dressed in their own clothes and waiting for the promised escort. Dr. Topov had made himself scarce in the interim. A uniformed officer eventually appeared at the door and took in the pair in obvious distaste. “You men, come with me,” he ordered.
Klaus looked the soldier up and down, crossed his arms and leaned back against the counter that was behind him. “Where?” he demanded.
“I ask the questions around here.”
“Oh, this is starting out well,” Eroica said aridly from his place across the room.
The officer glanced down at a document in his hand. “Which one of you is Major Abberbatch? And which is…” He paused and frowned before asking, “Lordglory?” He looked from one to the other.
Eroica saw the Major roll his eyes as their names were mangled. Then the German turned a conspiratorial look in his direction. The Earl gave a slight nod, being inwardly grateful that for once he wasn’t dressed in his usual, flamboyant style. He had been thrown into the transmat still wearing his very respectable Armani suit.
“Who wants to know?” Eroica asked, trying to make his voice sound official.
“Captain Stavin,” came the succinct reply.
The Major gave a derisive snort. “Not Stalin?”
The Captain gave him a cold look. “Just come with me.”
“And if we refuse?”
The Captain put a hand on his weapon. “I wouldn’t want to have to use this.”
“I’ll bet you wouldn’t,” Eroica said caustically. He could tell that the Major was already sizing the man up. Iron Klaus had considerably more experience in these situations than he did. So, as in all the other occasions when this happened, Eroica simply followed the officer’s lead.
Klaus gave the Captain a dark look but did not respond. This man’s appearance only seemed to confirm his suspicions that they were still being held by the KGB and everything that had gone before was an elaborate charade. Why, he did not know. But he was not about to let anything slip and, fortunately, Eroica was intelligent enough to go along with whatever he said.
* * *
After several minutes walk, the Captain indicated a door. “In there,” he ordered.
Eroica threw a quick glance in the Major’s direction, receiving a non-committal shrug. With no other alternative, he pushed open the door. The pair found themselves in a kind of control room. There was a console covered with dials and buttons set before a large window overlooking a room containing nothing but an odd looking relining couch.
Eroica scowled, puzzled by what he saw. He heard the Major catch his breath and glanced over at him, seeing a startled expression on his face. He looked back into the room, the obvious question leaping to mind. However, since Captain Stavin clearly did not know their identities, Eroica was not about to give anything away. He gave the officer a steady look, mouthed the “M” in Major before saying quietly, “Klaus, do you know what that is?”
Even though he knew what Eroica was doing, annoyance briefly flashed across the Major’s face. “I’ve seen the plans for something like it. This must be the prototype.”
“I’m guessing that’s not good.”
“You guessed right.”
“Enough chatter,” the Captain snapped. Since the Major was closest to him, he took him by the arm and pulled him toward the door leading to the next room. To his astonishment, his prisoner forcefully pulled his arm out of his grasp.
“First we’re your patients, now we’re your prisoners?” Klaus observed coldly. “The hot and cold treatment. Is that how this works?”
“Actually, this is how it works. I ask the questions. You give the answers,” the Captain replied, taking hold of the Major’s arm again.
“Like hell,” Klaus snarled back, pulling his arm away a second time. He stood glaring at the dumbfounded officer, wishing he knew what had happened to his gun.
Four men suddenly seemed to appear out of nowhere. Eroica actually jumped when someone abruptly took hold of him and dragged him across the room. He was thrust up against the wall and manacled to in, his hands at his sides.
A smallish individual took a seat at the control desk while two others assisted the Captain in bodily dragging the protesting Klaus into the next room where he was forced onto the couch and strapped down.
Eroica watched in an appalled silence as a bizarre helmet was placed on the struggling Major’s head. It seemed to have dozens of wires coming out of it. There were thick pins sticking out of the sides that allowed it to be locked into place. “What is that?” he asked in a horrified whisper as the Major’s head was immobilized.
The operator looked at him as if he were stupid. “Haven’t you ever seen a mind probe before?”
Eroica felt all the blood drain from his face. “Mind probe…” he repeated dully, his eyes returning to the scene in the next room. The Major was completely strapped down and struggling for all his was worth.
“This will be a lot easier if you just cooperate,” the Captain said blandly, dismissing the others with a wave of his hand.
“Go fuck yourself!” Klaus snarled back.
The Captain controlled himself with visible effort as he returned to the control room. He looked through window at his struggling prisoner and then threw a quick look over at the aghast Eroica before ordering, “Activate.”
The same instant, Klaus caught his breath, his body going rigid as the helmet came to life, power stabbing into his brain.
“Now, we’ll start this off with an easy question,” the Captain said blandly, leaning close to a microphone that was attached to the control desk. “What’s your name?”
From his position in the room, the Major could see into the control room. He glared defiantly at the Captain, choosing to reply with several more carefully chosen obscenities.
“Come now, it’s a simple enough question? What’s your name?”
“I thought you already knew who we were.” This was Eroica, who was trying very had not to show how completely terrified he was. He flinched when the Captain turned an icy stare in his direction.
“What makes you say that?”
“How else would you know to ask for someone called Major?” came the logical reply.
“Shut up, you stupid limey!” Klaus called from the next room.
The Captain’s head snapped around. “Now, we’re getting somewhere,” he said happily. Then to the operator, he ordered, “Increase the power.”
“But, sir, I’m still not getting anything,” the operator protested.
“Then increase the power!”
Klaus responded with a scream that was a combination of pain and rage, and strained against the straps holding him down.
“Stop it!” Eroica screamed, pulling unsuccessfully at his bindings. “Why are you doing this? We’re perfectly harmless.”
“Then why won’t he tell me his name?” the Captain demanded.
“Because he’s a thickheaded Prussian, that’s why!”
The Major gritted his teeth, staunchly refusing to answer any questions. The power was increased again, tearing another enraged cry from his throat. He writhed in his bonds as the device clawed savagely at his brain.
“Name! What’s your name?” the Captain demanded.
“He won’t tell you because you want to know!” Eroica cried out desperately.
The Captain saw the anguished expression on the thief’s face and gave a wry smile. He crossed to him, slamming him forcefully back against the wall. “Then you tell me his name. Why are you here? Who are you both? How did you get past security?”
Eroica’s mouth dropped open in astonishment. “You mean…you really don’t know?”
The Captain ground his teeth and struck Eroica hard across the face. “What is his name?” he snarled, slamming his captive back against the wall and pinning him there. “You will tell me.”
A hand suddenly seized the front of the Captain’s uniform and forcefully yanked him back.
“No, I will tell you,” an angry voice replied as the officer was slammed into the wall beside Eroica with such force that it practically knocked the breath out of him. “His name is Klaus Heinz von dem Eberbach. He’s a Major with NATO Intelligence. And you will release him this instant!”
MY GUESTS, I BELIEVE
When the stunned Captain recovered his breath, he saw an enraged Prince Jason holding him against the wall with one hand, a look of thunder on his face. Rosewood was just outside the door trying his best to stay out of the way.
“On whose authority?” the Captain finally demanded, trying and failing to sound forceful.
“And just who the hell are you?”
The mind probe operator cleared his throat nervously. “He’s Crown Prince Jason of Tel-Shye, Captain.”
The officer looked the Alterran up and down. “Prince Jason left yesterday.”
“Obviously not,” Jason replied coldly. He turned to the operator. “Turn that abomination off. Now!”
A low growl rose up in Jason’s throat. With his free hand, he took the weapon from the astonished Captain’s belt and fired a laser bolt into the control panel. The operator dove for cover as the device exploded into a show of sparks, instantly ending the Major’s torment.
Jason turned back to the officer still in his grasp. “What the hell do you think you’re doing to my guests?” he demanded as he finally released his grip.
“I’m following orders,” the Captain replied coolly, making a show of straightening his uniform.
This was never the answer to give to the Alterran Prince. He stiffened visibly, his eye narrowing as his face darkened further. “Following orders?” he repeated coldly.
“With all due respect, that’s not your concern,” the Captain replied, added in a condescending tone, “Sir.”
Jason gave another low growled. “I disagree.” He threw a glance in Eroica’s direction, ordering, “And get those things off Lord Gloria.”
The officer grudgingly removed the manacles from the bewildered and still terrified Eroica. “This is an Earth matter, sir. Not really your concern,” the Captain said, turning back to the Prince.
“This is no time for xenophobia, Captain. Not with a temporal corridor operating unchecked.”
The Captain gave a derisive snort. “You can’t possibly believe that story about these two being from the Twentieth century.”
“It happens to be true.”
“It would explain the lack of any reading on the equipment, Captain,” the mind probe operator injected from his place under the control desk. He flinched back when the officer gave him a dark look and snarled, “Shut up!” before turning back to the Alterran aristocrat.
Jason pulled a document from inside his jacket and held it out. “This is the authorization giving me complete autonomy in this matter. In other words, Captain, you are to follow my orders. Is that understood?”
The officer decided on a different tact. “With all due respect, sir, do you think you can handle something like this?” he asked contemptuously.
“Are you questioning my abilities now?”
“You’re from a race of pacifists, aren’t you? Non-violent? Do you really think you can get better results than a trained professional?”
“Trained professional?” Jason’s eyes narrowed, his expression hardening as the officer continued to glare smugly at him. “Don’t try my patience, Captain. You do not want me to lose my temper,” he said warningly.
“Oh, I’m scared.”
This was the final straw. Without warning, Jason took the officer by the throat and slammed him back into the wall. The Alterran’s bright blue eyes were practically glowing with his outrage. “You should be, you condescending bastard!”
It was all too obvious to the watching Eroica that Jason was controlling himself with considerable effort. It seemed as though the Prince had to force himself to release his grip on the man’s throat.
“Now, get out!” Jason’s voice dropped in pitch as he added coldly, “Get out before I kill you.”
The Captain blanched visibly. This was no idle threat. This supposedly non-violent Alterran Prince had a grip like iron and had been within a hairsbreadth of snapping his neck. He also still had his gun in his hand. Without another word, the officer fled the room.
Eroica felt a chill run down his spine as the Prince ordered the man out, his voice sounding as if it came from the depths of hell. The glowing blue eyes were slowly turned in his direction and he flinched, afraid of what this demon was about to do to him. The “demon” seemed to sense his panic and closed his eyes, taking a moment to get control of himself. When he opened his eyes again, they were no longer glowing and his face had softening considerably.
“Did he hurt you?” Jason asked gently.
“Yes…no…I…I’ll recover,” Eroica stammered out shakily.
Jason smiled and then turned to the mind probe operator, who was still cowering on the floor. “Out,” he ordered, sending the man scurrying to the exit.
Jason looked at his bewildered and awestruck aide, who was still standing outside the door and feeling very grateful that he had not been on the receiving end of any of what he had just witnessed. “Rosewood, have someone not connected with that…barbarian sent up here. I’m going to need an escort.”
Rosewood gave a slight bow. “Yes, sir.” He gave Eroica a questioning look. “And this gentleman?”
“Lord Gloria is staying with me.”
Eroica gave the Alterran a frightened look. “I am?”
“Would you rather go with the Captain?”
“No. But am I any safer with you?”
Jason could not help but smile at this. “Considerably.” He turned his attention to the next room, where the Major lay unconscious on the couch. He made certain the mind probe console was completely deactivated, firing another laser bolt into it and then finishing up by ripping the control circuit from its slot.
Eroica reluctantly followed his rescuer as far as the door and then stopped, uncertain as to his status. Was he really this lunatic’s guest? Or his prisoner?
Jason carefully removed the mind probe helmet and then checked the unconscious officer’s condition. “Talk to me, Major.” He put a hand under the Major’s chin and slapped him on the cheek. “Come on. Come back to us…”
Klaus opened his eyes slightly, muttered something, and closed them again.
Much to the amazement of the watching Eroica, Jason suddenly switched from English to German. “Klaus! Come on, Klaus, talk to me!” He commanded, slapping the officer’s face harder. “Better yet, swear at me.”
The Major continued to mutter incoherently.
Jason threw a quick glance over at the control room, seeing the concerned and frightened Eroica still hovering reluctantly in the doorway. “Dorian, talk to him,” he said, effortlessly switching back to English. “He knows your voice.”
Eroica was torn between demanding to know how this individual knew so much about them, and helping to revive the semi-conscious Klaus. He chose the latter, concluding that the Major would no doubt be demanding answers the instant he was lucid.
Crossing the room, he asked, “What do I say?”
“Tell him that you love him,” Jason replied startlingly.
Eroica stopped dead. “What?”
“He needs to fight his way back.”
“He’ll do more than fight his way back, if I tell him that. He’ll take a swing at me.”
“Then it’s a good thing he’s still strapped down, isn’t it?” Jason said aridly. “He needs to fight and the best way to do that is to get him mad. That isn’t too hard with him, as I recall.”
“How do you know that?” Eroica demanded. “Look, just who are you? How do you know us?”
“Not now, Dorian!” Jason snapped impatiently, turning his attention back to the Major.
Eroica wasn’t sure if it was the tone, the phrase, or just his general manner, but suddenly he knew who the Alterran Prince was. “Jason…” he said in a small voice. “They said…you were Prince Jason.”
Jason looked up, a small smile on his face. “Does that mean you’re going to start hitting on me now?”
“Bloody hell, it is you! But…it can’t be.”
“I didn’t think I’d changed that much.”
“Changed! The last time I saw you, you looked like an overgrown porcelain figurine.”
“Can this wait until after we’ve revived the Major?” Jason asked practically.
Eroica blinked and then pulled himself together. He sized up the situation and drew a deep breath. “You really want me to make him angry?”
“The madder, the better.”
“Alright. But you’d better tell him this was your idea.” Eroica sat down on the couch and leaned close to the Major’s ear. “Major, can you hear me? Will you hit me, if I tell you I love you?” He received an unintelligible grunt in reply.
Eroica stroked the Major’s cheek. “You really are a work of art. Shall I kiss you, my sleeping beauty?”
The Major opened his eyes slightly and gave the thief an unfocused look.
“It’s working, keep going,” Jason encouraged.
Eroica leaned down to give the Major a kiss and was stopped by a firm hand on his shoulder.
“I said talk to him,” Jason said warningly.
“I’ll let him hit you.”
Eroica laid across the Major’s chest and continued to gently stroke his cheek. “It’s too bad we’re in Russia. The summer would be so much nicer at Castle Gloria, don’t you think? Or Schloss Eberbach. All that lovely mountain air…” He had to stifle a giggle at his jib at the less than mountainous location of the Schloss, but it had the desired affect.
“What foppish nonsense…” the Major muttered groggily.
A delighted grin spread across Jason’s face and he motioned for the thief to keep going.
“Major Klaus Heinz von dem Eberbach. The infamous Iron Klaus. Bane of the KGB, Neo Nazis, and international spy networks,” Eroica whispered seductively. “Finally, I have you where I want you.”
The Major struggled to focus his eyes, finding the weight on his chest to be Eroica lying on top of him. He stared at the enormous blue eyes in horror, his mind unable to take in what he was seeing.
“I have you in my power, Major,” Eroica cooed softly, fluttering his eyelashes.
Klaus stared for a full ten seconds before he finally exploded. “Get off me, you bloody faggot!” When he tried to push Eroica away, he discovered he was still strapped down and started to struggle. “Let me out of this thing so I can kill you!” He went on to issue a stream of curses in German.
Eroica grinned and looked up at Jason. “Success, I think.”
“What are you talking about?” the Major demanded, still struggling unsuccessfully to free himself. “And get off of me, you Goddamn pervert!” A sudden thought struck him and stopped struggling, giving Eroica a stricken look. “What have you been doing to me while I was unconscious?”
“Nothing unseemly, Major,” Jason replied calmly as he started removing the officer’s bindings. “A mind probe can scramble one’s brain permanently. Dorian was just helping me bring you back to reality.”
“How? By having him molest me?”
“No, by getting you angry, which in your case isn’t all that difficult.”
Jason finished unfastening the restraints and took the Major by the arm, pulling him to a sitting position before he knew what was happening. He gave the officer a moment to regain his equilibrium and then looked him in the eye. “Major, I’m telling you right now, you’re not going to be able to walk on your own. So, you have one of two choices. You can either let me help you, or let me carry you.”
“Or I could,” Eroica offered happily.
Klaus threw an angry look in Eroica’s direction. After what had just happened, he did not want the faggot anywhere near him. He turned back to his rescuer. “Who the hell are you?” he demanded as forcefully as he could manage.
“I’m Jason Krystovan,” the Prince replied simply. “I used to travel with the Doctor in the TARDIS. The last time we met was in 1983 in Iceland.”
“Iceland?” Klaus put a hand to his head. His mind was still fuzzy, but he recalled the incident vividly. Jason had saved his life and he had gone on to return the favor. “The mission on the glacier?”
The Major gave the Alterran an unfocused look. As with Eroica, the last time he had seen Jason, he was recovering from a sonic attack and was snow white from head to foot, his body covered with tiny fracture lines. “Why…? How…?”
Jason grinned. “One step at a time. First, let’s get you two somewhere safe.”
“Then take us out of this building.”
“We aren’t safe anywhere in KGB Headquarters.”
Jason nodded. “A fair point,” he agreed. “But you’re not in KGB Headquarters. Not anymore.” He did not wait for a reply. He put one of the Major’s arms over his shoulder and then pulled him to his feet, having to support nearly all of his weight.
Klaus wanted to protest, but realized he was too weak to give any kind of effective resistance. He was having a difficult time just focusing his thoughts, his legs felt like rubber, and he desperately needed a cigarette. He chose instead to simply go along with what his apparent rescuer said until he was strong enough to fight back.
Jason looked up to see Eroica staring in horror across the room. He followed his gaze, seeing Sully standing in the doorway, an enormous grin on his face and an even more enormous laser rifle in his hands.
“Don’t panic, Dorian. That’s my pilot,” the Prince said mildly before addressing the man at the door. “Sully, what on Earth, literally, are you doing here? And where the hell did you get that cannon?”
“Rosewood said you wanted someone not connected with Earth security. Well, that’s me. He also said you needed an escort. I figured that meant you’d be heading to the ARGO.”
“You figured right,” came the relieved reply. “To the ARGO, if you please.”
The pilot flashed a bright smile before turning on his heel to lead the way out of the room.
“What is the ARGO?” the Major asked as forcefully as he could. “Where are you taking us?”
“The ARGO is my ship. I’ll be able to check you over better once we’re there.” Jason felt the Major’s body stiffen in response to this and could not help but laugh. “Major,” he said quietly, “I’m a Healer. My interest in your body is strictly professional.”
“That doesn’t make me feel better,” the Major replied shakily. “So was that Captain’s.”
Eroica gave a small cry. “Major, was that an actual joke?” he gasped playfully.
The Major gave him a dark look. “Idiot.”
“No such luck,” Jason replied amusedly. “I think his brain is still too scrambled.”
“That doesn’t make me feel better, either,” the Major rejoined. This time, he allowed a small smile to come to his face.
* * *
A SAFE PLACE
Director Chebrikov’s Office
The Doctor and Turlough arrived at KGB Headquarters to find it in chaos. The death of Ivanov and disappearance of Iron Klaus had turned everything on its head and the powers that be were scrambling to keep a lid on things as well as cover their political asses.
The Doctor and his companion were taken to the Director Chebrikov’s office to learn that he had already been informed as to the reason for their visit—more or less. The Doctor found it amusing that, in order not to raise the suspicions of the already suspicious KGB, the Director had been informed that the pair had been moles within the British scientific community who had recently been extracted so as not to “rock the boat” in the furtherance of the General Secretary’s new policies.
Then the mess with Iron Klaus had gone and upset the apple cart.
“You’re a day late, Comrade Doctor,” the Director said gravely.
“I don’t understand?” the Doctor replied, exchanging a bewildered look with Turlough.
“The equipment you came to investigate has already been shut down.”
“There was an…accident.”
The Doctor’s eyebrows went up. “Accident? If you could be a bit more specific?”
Director Chebrikov sighed heavily. “There was an agent here. From the West. A guest of the General Secretary, in fact. He was being given a demonstration of the equipment when one of my people…intervened, shall we say.”
“I’m going to assume there was an altercation.”
“To put it mildly. My man was killed and one of the West’s top intelligence officers was pushed into the matter transmitter,” the Director said darkly.
The Doctor’s mouth dropped open. This would not sit too well with the West. And considering the volatile political state… “What was the reaction of the West when…?” His voice trailed off when a disconcerted expression came to the Director’s face. “You haven’t told them yet, have you?”
“No. I haven’t even told the General Secretary yet.”
The Doctor’s eyebrows went up. “You’ll pardon my saying this, but you will have to tell them sooner or later.”
“I am rather hoping for later. After you and your associate have verified that the equipment is faulty and there was nothing we could do to prevent Iron Klaus from—”
“Iron Klaus!” the Doctor gasped. “Major von dem Eberbach, that Iron Klaus?
“Yes. You know his reputation?”
“To say the least.”
“Then you also understand my…concerns.”
“Only too clearly.” The Doctor knew all about the ongoing campaign of the KGB to get hold of the NATO officer. He could not help but wonder at the events that had transpired that would see the Major willingly entering the lion’s den, as it were. “We won’t say anything, Comrade Director,” the Doctor said finally. “The General Secretary wishes that we investigate the equipment. We’ll give our findings to you once we’ve finished and you can pass them on to the appropriate agencies.”
The Director nodded approvingly. “If you would like to get started, I’ll have someone take you to the experimental section.”
“I’m supposed to be having some equipment delivered, too,” the Doctor informed.
“It will be taken to the experimental level when it arrives.”
* * *
Hanger Bay 287
The journey to the ARGO was not a lengthy one, but it was still long enough to completely exhaust the already exhausted Major. Jason could feel the officer growing steadily weaker as the journey progressed, taking more and more of his weight as they went. The elevator taking the group to the hanger level gave a slight jolt when it arrived at the correct floor, which was all that was necessary for the Major’s knees to finally give way.
“Alright, that’s enough walking for you,” Jason said calmly as he swept the officer into his arms. The doors opened at that moment and he strode swiftly toward his waiting shuttle.
Klaus was almost grateful when he was lifted from the floor and caught himself on the verge of relaxing. No, don’t relax! It’s too dangerous. Don’t relax. The Earl’s a civilian. He won’t know it’s a trick. Don’t let your guard down! Think, dammit!
The Major struggled to concentrate his still scrambled brain. He attempted to protest, but was too weak to manage more than a few growled words before his strength finally failed him and he passed out.
“Major!” Eroica gasped when he saw the Major’s head slump against Jason’s shoulder.
“Don’t panic, Dorian, he’s alright,” Jason said calmly. “Between the trip down the time corridor and the mind probe, he’s completely tapped out.” He threw a quick look over to his pilot. “Sully, the hatch, please.”
Sully jogged ahead, opening the ARGO’s main hatch.
Eroica took in the Prince’s shuttle in an awestruck silence. It was the first alien space ship he had ever seen. Well, yes, he’d seen the Doctor’s TARDIS, but that wasn’t what one would call a normal space ship. After all, it looked like a Police Box, for pity’s sake. And it was bigger on the inside than on the outside—and a time machine. Then again, he had seen the space ship that was trapped in a glacier in Iceland, but that was only large enough to hold a single occupant. The ARGO was enormous by comparison.
If this is a shuttle, what does a normal space ship look like? Eroica wondered as he hesitantly followed Jason inside.
Jason made straight for the sickbay, placing the Major on an examination couch that was against the far wall. He touched a button and a display came to life above the table.
Eroica watched in a combination of fascination and ill ease as Jason checked the Major’s condition. Then the Alterran went to the computer where his fingers practically flew over an entry pad, punching in information faster than Eroica ever thought possible. It wasn’t until a small silver cylinder appeared in Jason’s hand that the thief became suspicious. Is this for real? Or is it as the Major said? A KGB trick.
“What is that?” Eroica heard himself practically demanding.
Jason turned, the Earl’s suspicious tone surprising him. “It’s a deranger drug, if that tells you anything.”
“Yes. The Major’s brain chemistry is out of whack, thanks to that horror of modern technology. This will help it get back to normal.”
Eroica hesitantly drew nearer, giving the officer a closer look. He was out cold. “What…?” Looking up, he asked, “What happens if you don’t give it to him?”
Jason’s eyes narrowed. “Dorian, don’t you trust me anymore?”
Eroica met the inquiring gaze. “I trust Jason. I’m…just not sure…”
“—if that’s who I am.” Jason completed with a small sigh. “Fair enough. You’ve had an awful lot thrown at you in the last couple of hours.” He threw a quick glance at his patient. “If I don’t use the medication, nothing will happen. It will just take a lot longer for the Major’s system to get back to normal.”
This seemed reasonable. “How much longer?” Eroica then asked.
“Days instead of hours.” Jason turned to the bed and injected the medication before Dorian could object further. “And I don’t have days.”
Eroica took a small, fearful step back. This could not be the same Jason Krystovan that he remembered. He couldn’t image the mild mannered Alterran with that look of unbridled rage he had seen in the mind probe room. He had seen the Major with that look in his eyes. The look of a man who could kill without a second thought.
Jason started to remove the Major’s jacket, returning Eroica to reality and regaining his full attention. “What’re you doing?” he asked in as even a tone as possible.
“What do you think I’m—” Jason broke off, recalling who he was speaking to. “Check that. It’s not what you think,” he replied. “He’ll be out for a while. I’m just making him more comfortable.” He went on to remove the officer’s tie and loosen his shirt, finishing up by removing his shoes. “That should do,” he said as he covered his patient with a blanket. “He’ll be back to his bad-tempered self as soon as he wakes up.”
Eroica gave a weak smile when the Alterran glanced at him.
Jason hung up the Major’s jacket and turned to face him. “And now you…” he said mildly.
“What about me?”
“Will you at least let me have a look at those bruises on your face?”
Eroica’s eyes grew wide. “What bruises on my face?”
Jason could not help but grin at this. He directed the thief to a mirror, watching in an amused silence as Eroica appraised the damage the Captain had done to his face, which only compounded the damage done by the Lieutenant in the Lubyanka.
“Bloody hell!” Eroica gasped. He looked down at the spots of blood on his suit coat. “This is an Armani suit. And I’m bleeding all over it. Look at me.”
“I have been.”
“James will have a stroke when he sees this,” Eroica said as he tried unsuccessfully to dab up the blood with his handkerchief. He looked up and said accusingly, “Why didn’t you tell me I looked like this before you waltzed me through that building?”
“What would you’ve done? Changed your clothes and put some makeup on?”
Jason’s eyebrows went up. He knew Dorian was vain, but didn’t realize he was that vain. He shook his head, indicating another examination bed. “Hop up there and I’ll take care of that cut for you.”
Eroica’s eyes narrowed. “How?”
“I have a few tricks up my sleeve,” the Alterran Healer replied with a grin. “I have something I can put on the bruises that’ll conceal them until they heal.”
Eroica considered before agreeing and climbing onto the table. “Alright,” he replied, having to stifle a yawn at the same time. “Oh dear, pardon me.”
“I think after we’re finished here, I should get you to bed.” Jason saw an all too familiar look flash across the thief’s face and quickly added, “To sleep.”
* * *
The Doctor’s TARDIS was delivered to the experimental section within minutes of his arrival. It was placed in a room not too far from where the experimental matter transmitter was housed.
“Alright, Doctor,” Turlough sighed. “We’re here. Now what do we do, exactly?”
“First, we take a few readings,” the Time Lord replied as he unlocked the TARDIS and entered. “We need to see if there’s any temporal leakage.”
Turlough scowled. “Temporal leakage?”
“Yes. A device like that can cause all kinds of damage to the—” The Doctor broke off when the communication system gave a beep. “Now what?” He gave his companion a long suffering look. “Go to the workshop and clear my workbench, will you? I’ll meet you there after I’ve seen what they want now.”
“Gladly,” Turlough replied as he vanished through the inner door.
The Doctor acknowledged the incoming hail and then listened in amazement as Jason’s message was relayed to him.
* * *
As Jason applied the artificial skin to Eroica’s face, he noticed the thief seemed to be relaxing slightly. “Do you still think I’m not the real thing?” he asked mildly.
Eroica gave the Alterran a steady look. “I don’t know what to think. You…look like the Jason I knew. And you certainly sound like him.”
Jason’s eyebrows went up. “But…?” he prompted. “How am I different than before?” he asked, adding quickly, “Other than the clothes, that is.”
“Clothes! Bugger the clothes. You’re a Prince. I don’t remember that ever coming up.”
“Well, that’s because I wasn’t a Prince then.” Jason drew a deep breath. “My planet has a very strange act of succession. Our King died rather suddenly, and without issue. Unlike your country, where they just pluck up the next available relative, on my planet, the oldest member of the Royal Bloodline is successor. Unfortunately, that happened to be my father.”
Eroica’s eyebrows went up. “Unfortunately?”
“I make a lousy Crown Prince.”
Eroica could not help but laugh at the downcast expression on Jason’s face.
“My God, Dorian, was that an actual laugh?”
“I haven’t been that serious, surely?”
“You haven’t exactly been flouncing around the room, either.”
“Jason, I did get beaten up,” Eroica pointed out darkly. “That Captain hit me. In the face!”
“Jason!” the Alterran squeaked. “Finally.”
Eroica sat up and made a show of pushing his blond curls over one shoulder. “I can’t exactly call you ‘Hey, you,’ can I?”
“No, but if you really thought I were someone else, you’d call me ‘your highness,’” Jason pointed out.
Jason flashed a broad smile. “Hop down from there. You can sleep in the guest cabin.”
Eroica stiffened slightly. “Can’t I just…sleep here?” he asked nervously.
“Here?” Jason replied guardedly. He threw a meaningful glance at the peacefully sleeping Klaus across the room.
“It’s not like that!” Eroica said defensively. “I just… I’d rather not be alone.”
Eroica shifted uncomfortably. “It’s a bit embarrassing, actually.”
“Dorian, if you want me to leave you alone, in the same room with the Major while he’s incapable of killing you should you decide to crawl into bed with him, you’d better give me a damn good reason why.”
“Christ, you really are Jason, aren’t you?”
“Yes. And you’re avoiding the question.”
“Alright.” Eroica drew a deep breath, explaining about his encounter with a statue that seemed to move on its own.* Its subsequent disappearance after apparently saving his life. How this was followed by his inability to sleep alone, fear of the dark, of shadows, of…practically everything.**
Jason was taken aback by this admission. “When did all this happen?”
“A few months ago.”
“And you still—”
Eroica held up his hands. “No, no. I’m cured. Well…for the most part.”
“For the most part?”
“What good is a thief who’s afraid of the dark? Anyway, when the opportunity to act as a legitimate art appraiser came my way, I jumped at it. Just in case I relapsed or something.”
“You don’t believe me,” Eroica said sulkily.
“I might…” Jason countered. He pulled a small pouch from his pocket. “If you hadn’t been carrying the pocket dimension the Doctor gave you in Iceland. Complete with a false lining and loaded with some very impressive trinkets.”
“I’m not retired yet.”
Jason gave him a disapproving sideways glance.
“Anyway,” Eroica went on defensively, “the Doctor said I could keep everything I stole.”
“I don’t recall his including this in the deal.”
“He didn’t not include it, either.”
Jason rolled his eyes, accepting defeat. There was no way he would win a logical argument against Dorian’s convoluted logic. He held out the pouch. “Okay, here. You might as well have this back.”
Eroica grinned and quickly pocketed the pouch. “So, can I stay here, then?”
“Dorian, if you don’t behave yourself, I’ll take the concealer off your face and make you walk around—”
“I promise to behave myself,” Eroica said quickly, holding up his right hand. “Swear on the Bible, cross my heart, whatever you say.”
Jason gave him a steady look and finally relented. He already knew that it would be impossible for Dorian to get near the Major. He had placed an energy field around the officer to assist in the healing process. It was only a matter of pressing a few more buttons to turn it into a force field. If Dorian did try to touch the Major, he would be in for a very nasty shock. Which would serve him right for lying to me, Jason thought, a knowing smile coming to his face.
“Give me your jacket,” the Alterran said suddenly. “I’ll have it cleaned while you’re sleeping.”
“You’ll never get the blood out,” Eroica pouted as he removed the stained garment.
“Oh, you’d be surprise.”
Eroica gave the Alterran a steady look. “After all that’s happened, I doubt it.”
Jason exchanged a blanket for the suit coat. “I have to contact a few people. I’ll be back to check on you both in a couple hours.” He watched as Eroica wrapped himself in the blanket and kicked off his shoes before laying back on the padded surface. He received a nervous look and gave a small smile. “You will be safe aboard the ARGO, Dorian. I hope you believe that.”
Eroica nodded but did not reply.
Jason chose not to press the issue. He headed for the door, turning down the lights in the room before he left, the door closing noiselessly behind him.
Eroica pulled the blanket tighter around himself. He looked across the room where the Major was still sleeping soundly. It was strangely comforting being this close to him, knowing he might awaken at any moment. Of course, he would probably yell at him for being in the same room, not that that mattered. At least it would be something familiar in the midst of so much alien technology, Eroica thought as he lay watching the lights flashing on the panel above the Major’s bed. Within a few minutes, and without even realizing, he dozed off.
* * *
“Curiouser and curiouser,” the Doctor muttered as he moved from panel to panel, checking the readings on the control console.
“Something tells me this is more than a matter transmission experiment gone wrong,” Turlough observed darkly.
The Doctor straightened, thrusting his hands into his pockets. “Top marks again,” he said mildly. “There are some very strange energy readings emanating from locations other than where that prototype transmat is.”
Turlough scowled. “You think they’ve got more than one?”
“No. That’s the odd thing. The energy readings aren’t strong enough to be from the transmat.”
“Yes. We’ll need to get the scanners set up. See if we can trace the source.”
Turlough nodded. These seemed logical, and unlike most of the things the Doctor got himself involved in, it also seemed rather tame. As far as Turlough was concerned, the building they were working in was far more dangerous than tracking down the source of some lingering energy readings.
Later he realized that he should have known better. Nothing connected with the Doctor was ever as straightforward as it seemed. It was always dangerous. Always.
* * *
The Doctor spent several hours fiddling with several bits and pieces of technology before he was satisfied he had exactly what he needed. He had his companion assist in the calibrations, and then synchronized the scanners with the TARDIS console.
“Do we really need to go to all this trouble?” Turlough wanted to know.
“Always best to be thorough in the face of temporal leakage.” The Time Lord looked up. “You wouldn’t want to walk though a stray time eddy and age a few decades, now would you?”
Turlough’s bright blue eyes widened considerably. “No, I would not!” he stated flatly. “That’s not a possibility, is it?”
The Doctor gave his companion a sly grin. “Not really.”
“Doctor, that’s not in the least bit funny!”
The Doctor held out one of the scanners, pocketing the second. “Just keep your eyes open.”
Turlough took the scanner and frowned down at it. “What am I supposed to do with this?”
“Nothing yet. We’re going to take some readings from that prototype,” the Doctor informed. He moved to the console and entered some information into the computer before turning to the exterior doors. “There. Now the TARDIS will monitor what’s going on out there and record it. With luck, we’ll be able to pick up a pattern.”
Turlough nodded, glancing down at the little device in his hand before following the Doctor out the door.
* * *
ARGO Flight Deck
For the third time in a twenty-four hour period, Jason found himself contacting Gallifrey. As before, he was put in contact with Gilgavik. This time, however, he received the news he had been hoping for; his message had been delivered to the Doctor.
“Did you tell him I’m going to try to lock the time corridor at this end?” Jason wanted to know.
“Yes, your highness,” Gilgavik replied. “I told him everything you asked me to.”
Jason had his doubts on this one but did not remark on it. “Do you think you’ll be in contact with him again?”
Gilgavik’s eyes flickered, his only visible reaction. “I couldn’t say at this time.”
Jason sighed heavily.
“Is there another message?”
“Not so much a message as information,” Jason replied. “I pulled two people out of the time corridor.”
“Yes, you did mention that…”
“One of them is rather important, given where he entered the time corridor and the touchy political climate in 1987. The ramifications of his disappearance could affect the timeline.”
Gilgavik’s eyes widened. “How great would these ramifications be?”
“I’m not sure. I haven’t had the chance to question him fully. He’s still recovering from the trauma and some mishandling at this end.” Jason pause before asking, “Is there any way I can contact the Doctor directly?”
Gilgavik frowned. “You are six hundred years in the future from his respective time zone, your highness.”
“Gilgavik, I used to travel with the Doctor,” the Prince informed coldly. “I know how a TARDIS operates. That time corridor should act as a real time interface.”
“It will also interfere with your communications array, unless you have a temporal damper set up,” the Time Lord said. “Do you?”
Jason heaved an exasperated sigh. “No.” He knew perfectly well that if the Doctor called him, there would be no problems. But try telling that to the smug bastard on the screen. “Fine. Just tell the Doctor that Iron Klaus is alive and well and will be returning with me.”
“A code name. The Doctor will understand.”
Gilgavik gave him a dubious look. “I’ll make sure to pass this along, your highness.”
“Thank you.” Jason then cut the link. He sat back in his chair and closed his eyes. All he wanted to do was sleep for a few hours.
Sully had been listening the whole time and shook his head. “You need some sleep, if you don’t mind my saying so.”
“No, I don’t mind your saying so. I just wish I could.”
Sully gave him a disapproving look. “You’ve been awake more than twenty-four straight hours. There’s no reason why you can’t get some sleep while your guests are asleep in the sickbay.”
Jason gave his pilot a steady look. “Are you volunteering to play babysitter while I take a nap?”
Sully grinned. “I don’t think I’ll get into too much trouble watching a couple of sleeping humans.”
“It’s not when they’re asleep that you’ll have the trouble.”
Sully’s smile widened. “That’s when I’ll come wake you.”
Jason gave him a sideways glance. “Fine.”
* * *
The Doctor and his companion spent several hours taking readings in various locations. Turlough soon discovered what he felt was the real reason the Time Lord wanted to do this. Whenever they encountered someone, the Doctor would ask a general question or two. Then, within a few minutes, he was happily chatting away and gleaning a wealth of information.
One of the things they learned was that the lead scientist in the matter transmission experiments, Alexei Borodin, had gone missing. Considering all that Turlough had learned about the KGB and the Soviet Union during his time on Earth, this fact was not exactly shocking. However, as they continued to gather information, it seemed that Borodin had fled on his own.
Something else they learned, although the Doctor was uncertain how much faith to put into it, was that there had been several reports of spectral sightings. Ghosts in the Lubyanka? Turlough had joked that it was probably all the people who had disappeared within the walls of KGB Headquarters attempting to get out. Since the reports had come from what one man called, “the peasant class,” the Doctor was torn between dismissing the stories and investigating further.
“Doctor,” Turlough moaned, “you can’t believe these people actually saw ghosts.”
“They may have seen what they consider to be ghosts,” the Time Lord replied. “I’ve seen similar phenomenon in the presence of a time fissure. Timelines overlap briefly, and someone in tune with it will see into the…well, the crack in time. To them, they’ll be seeing a ghost, but it’s just a glimpse into time.”
Turlough considered this. “Alright, that seems to make sense. It would explain why people can describe the period clothing a supposed ghost is wearing.”
“And why said supposed ghost is unaware of being observed. The observer is normally telepathic,” the Doctor said as he led the way back to the TARDIS to correlate that day’s data.
“If that’s so, then there are an awful lot of telepathic peasants in this building.”
The Doctor cleared his throat. “Turlough, the Soviet Union led the world in paranormal research in the Twentieth century.”
“Great. Any speculations on our paranormal research?” Turlough asked as they entered the console room.
“Too soon to tell.”
Turlough looked over at the console and sighed. “The communication panel is blinking again,” he said as he continued on to the inner door. “I hope you don’t mind if I don’t stick around. I’m going to get something to eat.” With that, he vanished into the impossibly large interior of the TARDIS.
The Doctor nodded absently. He looked at the blinking light and frowned. “And they wonder why I don’t answer all the time,” he moaned as he acknowledged the transmission. The instant Gilgavik appeared on the screen, he snapped impatiently, “I have nothing to report! I’ve only just started.”
Gilgavik’s eyebrows went up. “Thank you, Doctor, but that isn’t why I called.”
“Oh. Sorry. It’s been a long day.”
“Apparently. I have another message for you from Prince Jason.”
The Doctor blinked. Another message from Jason? What the devil was the Alterran doing at the other end of that time corridor? “Yes…?”
“I’m to tell you that Iron Klaus is alive and well, and will be returning with his highness as soon as the time corridor is locked into place.”
The Doctor’s mouth dropped open. “Say that again.”
Gilgavik repeated the message. “From your reaction, I can only assume that this man is as important as Prince Jason believes.”
“Actually, I’m shocked by the ‘alive and well’ part of the message.”
“Well, his highness did mention that this…Iron Klaus was recovering in his sickbay. He also indicated that his disappearance from your time zone could have serious ramifications on that timeline.”
The Doctor nodded. “If he weren’t still ‘alive and well’ that would indeed be true.”
“Then it’s fortuitous that Prince Jason retrieved him from the time corridor.”
“Yes. Jason does have quite the knack for performing miracles,” the Doctor observed knowingly. “If he contacts you again, tell him I’ll do what I can to stabilize the prototype at this end. It’s rather primitive, but I’m sure the lock will hold when it’s established at his end, too.”
Gilgavik nodded. “I’ll pass that along.” So saying the transmission ended.
* * *
The door to the room occupied by the sleeping Earl and Major opened noiselessly and the Prince stood at the threshold a moment. “I can’t image you just sitting around watching them sleep for several hours,” he said over his shoulder.
Sully gave a low chuckle. “I’m going to work on the new ship’s design.”
Jason gave a small sigh. His pilot had been nagging him for nearly ten years to get a new shuttle and had taken it upon himself to design the replacement. Every time they encountered the slightest problem, out came the design for the new ARGO. “I doubt you’ll be able to figure time travel capabilities into your new design,” he chided quietly.
“No. But I can add a temporal damper to the list of options,” he replied, adding, “And I’m going to have the sickbay right off the flight deck. Enough of this traipsing back and forth.”
Jason shook his head. “You’re impossible,” he hissed quietly as he entered the room. He hung up Dorian’s jacket, now completely clean and spotless. Then he crossed to the Major, his eyes sweeping over the monitors. Still a few more hours, he thought as he took in the readings. He glanced down at the apparently peacefully sleeping figure before turning back to his pilot.
“Looks like you won’t have—”
Jason got no further. To his astonishment, the Major suddenly sat up and had one arm locked around his throat, his other hand pressed up against the side of his head.
“Don’t move or I’ll break your neck,” the Major growled in the Prince’s ear.
Jason wisely froze and held his hands out to his sides. “I’m unarmed, Major,” he said calmly.
The stunned Sully took a step forward. Jason held up a hand and commanded, “Don’t!” stopping him in his tracks. “He means it.”
“You’re smarter than you look,” the Major said approvingly.
“What is this place? How did I get here? Who are you?”
“Well,” Jason began slowly, “this is my sickbay. I brought you here to be safe. And I’m your doctor. So I don’t suggest you go snapping my neck any time soon.”
The Major responded with a low growl. His eyes flashed around the unfamiliar room, falling on the still peacefully sleeping Eroica. “What’s that bloody bugger doing here?”
“Recovering, same as you,” Jason replied.
The watching Sully saw Jason’s eyes glow for a second and knew he had just done something to protect himself. He also knew that the Major would be completely unaware of it.
What happened next was a blur. Jason reached up, took hold of the arm at his throat, and pulled it away, spinning around to face the officer at the same time. His other hand flashed up to the Major’s neck. The officer’s eyes grew wide for a split second before they rolled back into his head, a small sigh escaping him. He went limp, falling back into Jason’s waiting arms.
“I am sorry, Major,” Jason said mildly as he carefully laid the man back onto the bed. “But you obviously still have more recovering to do.”
Sully suddenly realized that he was standing with his mouth hanging open. He got hold of himself and crossed to the Prince’s side. “I can’t believe you actually did that.”
Jason looked up and grinned. “Gets ‘em every time.”
“He could’ve killed you!”
“Yes, I am aware of that, Sully.”
Sully looked at the Major and shook his head. “I thought you said these two were friends of yours.”
“Ah. To be honest, I’m not sure the Major has any friends.”
“I’m not surprised.”
Jason actually laughed. “He’s an intelligence officer from the Twentieth century. A time of spies, counterspies, and all that. Paranoia seems to be part of the job description.”
“Oh, terrific,” Sully moaned.
“You’re the one who volunteered to baby-sit while I took a nap.”
“And you didn’t think the fact that one of your so-called friends is a paranoid schizophrenic with homicidal tendencies was important enough to tell me?”
Jason laughed again as he turned to the monitors beside the Major’s bed. “He likes to say he’s a professional. Although professional what, I shudder to think.”
“Any other comforting thoughts?” Sully looked at the sterile field surrounding the Major’s bed and jerked a thumb in its direction. “Can you set that thing to keep him in instead of keeping others out?”
Jason chuckled but did not reply. He made a few entries into the computer before finally turning back to his pilot. “There. Now you’re safe from a repeat performance.”
Sully’s eyes narrowed. “What did you do?”
“Just my usually magic.”
“Ha! I know how your magic works. It’s all smoke and mirrors. You tell people all about themselves, but never bother to mention that you can scan their bio-reading just by touching them. Or that you have total recall.”
Jason grinned. “A good magician never gives away his secrets.”
Sully merely snorted in reply.
“This particular trick will have the computer keep him under until his brain activity normalizes.”
“Was it ever normal to begin with?”
“Funny. He probably won’t even remember what just happened. He’s on automatic pilot, so to speak.”
“And what about him?” Sully asked, nodding in the Eroica’s direction.
Jason gave the Earl an affectionate look. “Dorian’s harmless. He’ll steal your back teeth if he takes a fancy to them, and make it sound as if he’s doing you a favor.”
Jason gave Sully a sideways look. “And don’t be surprised if he tries to proposition you when he wakes up.”
“This just gets better and better.”
Jason giggled as he crossed to the sleeping Earl, activating the monitor at his bedside. “He’s still harmless.”
Eroica stirred and moaned, partially opening his eyes. “What’s all the commotion?” he asked groggily.
“Oh, just the Major issuing death threats in his sleep,” Jason replied quietly. “Go back to sleep.”
Eroica smiled. “How very like him,” he sighed happily and curled up in his blanket. He was back to sleep within seconds.
Jason turned to see his pilot watching him with an odd look in his eyes. “Now what?” he asked as he made for the door.
“You have very odd friends.”
“I hope you’re including yourself in that observation.”
“Naturally,” Sully grinned. “Now go get some sleep, yourself.”
“Nag, nag, nag.”
* * *
WHO ARE YOU?
ARGO Conference Room
Sully led Eroica and the visibly recovered Major into the ARGO’s conference room. In the center of the table were two trays, one with coffee, tea and an unidentified beverage on it: the other with a selection of various foods. At the far end of the table was an open laptop computer. Jason was just placing another tray on the table and looked up as the men entered.
“Your guests, your highness,” Sully announced.
“Thank you, Sully.”
Sully gave a slight bow. “I’ll be on the flight deck if you need me, sir.”
The Prince gave a small smile. How Sully loved to be formal at times like this. He waited until the door was closed before addressing his guests. “Can I offer you something to eat?” he said, indicating the trays. “Major? You must be starving.”
“He won’t eat a thing without a food taster,” Eroica said knowingly, pouring himself a cup of tea. “And if the coffee isn’t Nescafé, he won’t touch it even with a food taster.”
“It is, actually.” Jason flashed a smile, turning to the glowering officer. “And everything else that I recall you approved of is on that tray, Major. I did cook for you both a few times.” He poured himself a cup of coffee and then sat down in front of the laptop.
The Major eyed the coffee pot and then lifted his suspicious gaze to the Prince. He was dressed in the same elaborate royal finery he had worn when he first laid eyes on him. The officer threw a sideways glance in Eroica’s direction. “You say you’re Jason Krystovan, but you look like you raided the Earl’s wardrobe.”
“I’d say be nice, Major, but I know I’d be wasting my breath.” Jason studied the officer’s set expression. He could just see the wheels turning in his head as he analyzed every aspect of the room. “You haven’t even asked me where you are.”
“I already know where I am,” the Major replied firmly. “KGB Headquarters.”
“Ah. Well, not quite. What year is it?”
The frown on the Major’s face deepened and he wondered what game the Prince was playing. “It’s 1987. August.”
Jason shook his head. “Not anymore. This is where Lubyanka Square once stood, about…six centuries ago,” came the startling reply.
“What?” the Major and Eroica said in unison.
“You’re more than six hundred years in your future. It’s the year 2620. November. You’re in the Twenty-seventh century.”
“Impossible!” the Major gasped.
“What’s impossible? Time travel? You were in the TARDIS. You know time travel exists.” Jason sat back and looked at him. “You still don’t believe me, do you?”
“You are a very hard man to convince, Major Klaus Heinz von dem Eberbach,” Jason said, the German’s name rolling as impeccably off his tongue as it had the first time he had spoken it. He turned to Dorian, seeing uncertainty was now clouding his striking features. “Do you doubt who I am?”
“I didn’t.” Eroica replied hesitantly.
“But you do now?”
Eroica threw a quick sideways glance in the Major’s direction. “Iron Klaus has a lot more experience with this cloak and dagger stuff than I do.”
“Alright, fine,” Jason sighed heavily. “Take a seat, will you? We have a long afternoon ahead of us.”
“Why do you say that?” the Major asked guardedly.
“I thought you had some questions you wanted answered. I know I have several hundred myself.”
“I thought you might.”
There was an edge to the reply that caused Jason to look up again. “Major, I’m not interested in any of the secrets you may have in your head. They’re not secret anymore.” He noticed the officer searching his pockets and gave a knowing smile. “If you’re looking for your cigarettes, they were removed by the transmat.”
The Major looked up. “Transmat?”
“It’s how you got here. It identified them as being hazardous.”
Eroica groaned and put a hand to his head, sitting down at the same time. “Wonderful. Now we have to put up with paranoia and nicotine withdrawal.”
Jason gave a wry smile. He reached into his inside pocket and produced a pack of cigarettes and lighter, which he slid across the table in the astonished Major’s direction. “You’re not really supposed to smoke in here. But I’ve reset the safeties to allow it.”
The Major eyed the pack of cigarettes as if they would jump up and bite him. The lighter, however, he recognized as his own. He picked up it up and proceeded to take it apart. It was obvious he was looking for bugs and equally obvious that he did not believe a word the Alterran was saying.
Jason sighed heavily, leaning his elbow. “Major Eberbach, you are without a doubt the most suspicious man I have ever met.”
The Major met his steady gaze with an icy stare. “I’m a professional. I haven’t lived so long being gullible. You expect me to believe that I’m six hundred years in the future and that you are someone I last saw four years ago just because you tell me?”
A smile came to Jason’s face when the officer’s nicotine craving overrode some of his paranoia as he cautiously lit one of the cigarettes.
The Major was surprised when he discovered the cigarette was identical to the brand he smoked. He stored this piece of information away, as it only seemed to confirm his suspicions. He looked around the room, checking for any obvious surveillance equipment, not that he expected to actually see any. The KGB was much too clever to make things that obvious.
“Fair enough. The last thing I would do is call Iron Klaus unprofessional,” Jason said when the officer looked at him again. He sat back in his chair and folded his arms. “Why don’t you believe me?”
The Major took the compliment with no more than a flicker of his eyelids. He drew himself to his full height and began laying out his misgivings. If he was to believe what Jason was telling him, then he and Eroica were thrown into the device in the Lubyanka in 1987 and had somehow been retrieved more than six hundred years later. Unharmed.
“I never said you were unharmed when you arrived,” Jason injected knowingly. “You weren’t in the infirmary simply for observation. Anyway, go on.”
The Major gave him a sideways look, taking a drag on his cigarette as he continued to get his thoughts in order. He remembered nothing until waking in the infirmary. “How am I to be certain that the memories of these events are true?”
“Major, what are you saying?” Eroica asked nervously. He was getting more and more unsettled by the minute. Why did the Major always have to turn everything on its head?
“I think he’s saying that what you remember is a false memory that was somehow implanted by the KGB,” Jason replied succinctly. “And that I’m not really who I say I am, but someone you were told to believe I was.” He paused and scowled. “Wow. That didn’t make sense even to me.” He looked over at the Major who was silently watching his every move. He’s trying to read my body language. Good Luck, Major. I’m not even remotely human. “Is that what you think, Major? You’re seeing me, Jason Krystovan, as a result of post-hypnotic suggestion?”
The Major did not reply, but Eroica did. “Is that what this is?” he gasped, getting to his feet. He moved away from the table, positioning himself slightly behind the Major. “We’ve been brainwashed?”
“How else would anyone know who we are six hundred years in the future?” the Major replied logically.
“Actually, I’m the only one who knew who you both were,” Jason informed. “And even if I wasn’t, it was easy enough to identify you, Major.” He opened a box that was beside the laptop and slid it down the table. “Among other things, you were carrying your NATO ID and a very impressive document from Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, the General Secretary of—”
“I know who the bloody bastard is,” the Major snapped impatiently. He looked in the box, quickly retrieving his property. He made particular note of the fact that his gun and shoulder holster were conspicuous by their absence. He pocketed the documents and looked up. “But not the Earl. I happen to know Lord Gloria never carries any identification. His subordinates take care of all that.”
“Why, Major, I didn’t know you cared,” Eroica said sweetly.
“Not now, Dorian,” Jason reproved sharply, receiving a startled look in reply. Again, his tone only seemed to reinforce that he was the same man Dorian had first met seven years earlier.
The Prince tossed another paper on the table. “You’re correct, as always, Major. But he was carrying his calling card.”
The Major looked at the card upon which was written, From Eroica with love. He turned to glare at the thief. “You idiot!”
Jason ignored this outburst. “I would like to point out that I haven’t made a single threat to harm either of you. In fact, if you’ll recall, I’m the one who rescued you.”
The officer turned back to face him. “A very convenient rescue.”
“Meaning what? It was a set up by the KGB?”
Jason sat back in his chair. “Why would the KGB choose an obscure person such as myself as a dupe?”
The Major met the Alterran’s challenging gaze steadily. “Who better than a person we would trust.”
Jason’s eyebrows went up. “Trust? Major, I’m touched. From you, that’s high praise.”
“It wasn’t meant as such.”
“For what it’s worth, Jason, I believe you,” Eroica said mildly.
“You would believe anything, you stupid limey,” the Major snapped.
The Alterran Prince jumped to his feet and banged a fist on the table, causing the unprepared officer to jump. “God dammit, Klaus, that’s enough!” he thundered in flawless German. He met the Major’s angry glare with the same cold look he had used on the Captain in the mind probe room and Eroica was startled to see Iron Klaus actually flinch. “I do not have time for your petty bigotry and intolerance,” he went on in the Major’s native tongue. “Whether you believe me or not is irrelevant. There is a rogue temporal corridor operating out there, and somehow you two got caught up in it. And, unfortunately, you’re also the only ones who can help me figure out who activated it and why!”
Jason dropped back into his seat, switching back to English as he said, “Now, can we get on with this without any further petty squabbling?” He did not wait for a reply, turning his attention to the computer before him.
Eroica was thunderstruck by this enraged outburst. Again, he found himself questioning himself. This was not the mild mannered Jason Krystovan he had once known. He shifted his position to see what the Alterran was doing. To his amazement, a wealth of information was scrolling across the screen. “What is that?” he asked finally.
Jason looked back at him. “What? This?” He nodded at the laptop, receiving a nod in reply. “It’s a computer. I’m pulling up all the information on you both and your arrival.”
“That’s a computer?”
“Yes. A bit smaller than the ones you’re used to seeing, I’ll bet. Considerably faster and with several hundred times more storage capacity.” With a grin, Jason added, “It’s wireless, too.”
“He’s already trying to decide how to steal it,” the Major observed blandly. To his surprise, Jason did not snap back at him. Instead, he nodded in agreement.
“I wouldn’t advise it. It’s equipped with a tracking chip. I can find it anywhere.” Jason looked up, meeting Eroica’s fascinated gaze. “And I mean anywhere.”
Eroica did not reply, being too enthralled by the compact device. The implications of the technology were staggering.
Jason glanced at the screen and then looked over at the glower Major. “I do have one question you can answer for me, Major,” he said mildly.
Klaus gave him a suspicious look. “What makes you think I’m gonna answer any of your questions?”
Jason flashed an amused smile. “This won’t breach NATO security. It has to do with your surname.”
The Major’s eyes narrowed, the interrogation in the mind probe room returning to mind. “I thought you already knew that.”
“Let me put it this way, what is the proper way of addressing you?” Jason nodded to the computer screen. “The reports have you as Major Eberbach and Major von dem Eberbach. Which is correct?”
“The latter is correct, not that that will make a difference,” Klaus replied, blowing smoke into the air. “Just call me Major.”
“Nobody gets it right outside of Germany,” Eroica said knowingly.
Jason nodded. “Then I apologize for having gotten it wrong before,” he said mildly.
“Are you trying to soften me up?” the Major asked coolly.
“Perish the thought. How does one soften up iron?”
“With heat,” Eroica replied playfully, fluttering his eyelashes at the officer.
“Dorian, please, not now,” Jason moaned impatiently.
Eroica flinched when the Alterran turned a disapproving look in his direction. His bright blue eyes caught the light from the computer screen in such a way that they actually glowed. Once again, the Earl found himself thinking that perhaps the Major’s current misgivings might not have been so misplaced after all.
“What’s wrong?” Jason asked suddenly.
Eroica threw the Major a quick sideways glance, seeing him studying the Prince closely. Did you see it, too? What do you know, Major? He turned back to see the striking blue eyes still staring at him with an incredible intensity that was completely unnerving. “Nothing.”
“Don’t kid a kidder. Something’s—” Jason broke off and put a hand to his head as he realized that Dorian was still having misgivings about who he was. “Look. I’m Jason Nigel Peregrine Alexander Krystovan. I’m an Alterran Healer, a surgeon. We met in 1980—I think—when I was still traveling with the Doctor.* I pulled a bullet out of the Major’s chest that should’ve killed him. And you, Dorian, were a jigsaw puzzle that I put back together leaving that flawless skin of yours still flawless.” He paused, wondering how his next piece of information would be received. “By 1987, that would be seven years ago for you. But for me, it’s been about a hundred and fifty.”
“A hundred and fifty years?” Eroica gasped, returning to his seat at the same time.
“Give or take a decade or two, yes.”
“Why aren’t you with the Doctor now?” the Major asked pointedly.
“Long story.” Jason looked off into the distance, recalling the day he had parted company with the Doctor. “Very…very long story,” he said wistfully.
Eroica exchanged a mystified look with the Major, who shrugged and drew another drag from his cigarette.
Jason seemed to return to reality with a jolt and gave the still skeptical pair a searching look. “Am I ever going to convince you that I’m telling the truth?”
“You’ve convinced me,” Eroica replied.
“No, I haven’t.”
The thief frowned. “What makes you say that?”
Jason leaned on his elbow and gave him an innocent look. “Because you haven’t hit on me once since you woke up in the infirmary.”
The Major gave a derisive snort. “You should be grateful.”
“Actually, I’m shocked.”
“I thought you weren’t flattered,” Eroica injected.
Eroica slapped a hand on the table. “I knew it!”
Jason’s face brightened and a smile started to blossom. “Still think I’m someone else?” he asked challengingly.
A long silence followed. Klaus stood smoking his cigarette, thoughtfully appraising the situation. He went over all the information he had gathered and analyzed it, comparing what he recalled of the Jason Krystovan he had encountered only twice with the man sitting before him.
“Perhaps there is a way you can prove what you claim,” he said suddenly.
Jason’s eyebrows went up. “Really? What could I possibly do that would convince Iron Klaus?”
Klaus stubbed out his cigarette before meeting the Alterran’s inquiring gaze. “Revert to your true self.”
THE PRINCE’S MISSION
Jason’s mouth dropped open and it took him a few seconds to find his voice. “What?”
“If you are who you claim, it will be no problem. There’s no record of Jason Krystovan’s true appearance anywhere for the KGB to get hold of.”
Eroica gave him a startled look. “You didn’t report it?”
“Report it?” Klaus replied, waving a hand in the air. “And have my Chief use it to get me relieved of duty for mental incapacity?”
“Ah.” Eroica nodded. “Point taken.”
The Major’s challenging expression did not change as he turned back to the Alterran. “Well…?”
Jason met the officer’s gaze steadily. “If it’s the only way I’m going to convince you…”
The Alterran nodded and rose to his feet. He moved slightly away from the table positioning himself closer to the Major. His body shimmered as he transmuted, and in a split second, he was in his true form, which had at one time been described as looking like a cross between a jellyfish and a nest of snakes. His main body was large and bulbous with sapphire blue crystals evenly spaced around the circumference. Below this were dozens of tendrils, which did not support his weight. Instead, he hovered in the air, his tendrils scarcely brushing the ground.
For Eroica, his first encounter with Jason’s true form had come when he was pulled over a cliff and into the ocean in order to escape the KGB.* There had been no time for a warning, so the Alterran’s true form had been a complete shock.
The Major’s first one-on-one encounter came three years later during the mission in Iceland. After being shot and left for dead, he regained consciousness to find himself entwined in the Alterran’s tendrils.* Now the creature that had saved his life was before him again and he stiffened visibly, taking an alarmed step back. He had forgotten the Alterran’s true self was so large, more than two metres in height. Being tall himself, he was unused to anyone looming over him, let alone an alien such as Jason and he found himself wondering what had happened to his gun as a tendril gently wrapped around his wrist and then threaded itself between his fingers.
“Do you believe me now?” the creature that was Jason asked calmly. “Or is touch an illusion too?”
Klaus swallowed hard, recovering his English at the same time. “I believe you.” He was annoyed with himself when he heard the tremor in his voice. The Alterran’s true form was unnerving at close range, there was no doubting it. He could handle counter-agents without batting an eye, but this incredibly powerful alien was another matter entirely. He had to fight not to pull his hand free and was relieved when the tendril quickly released its grip and withdrew.
In a blink, Jason was back in his smaller, less imposing human form. He stepped back, studying the officer’s stunned expression. “From your reaction, I can only assume you didn’t think that would happen.”
Jason resisted the urge to gloat. Despite his suspicions and paranoia, the Major was a trained professional and deserved to be treated as such. After all, as far as he knew, his life had been in danger from the word go. “Thank you for believing me, Major.” He threw a quick glance in Eroica’s direction, seeing his bright blue eyes staring at him in wonder. “Well…?” he asked pointedly.
The thief leaned on his elbow and smiled, fluttering his eyelashes and causing the Prince to roll his eyes. “It starts,” Jason muttered darkly, causing Eroica to laugh.
Jason returned to his seat, his expression becoming serious again. “Now that we have all that cleared up, can we get on with sorting out this temporal anomaly?”
* * *
After less than an hour, Eroica was decidedly bored.
The Major sat silently smoking a cigarette, listening as Jason went over all the information that had been compiled and what had happened since the pair was retrieved from the temporal corridor. The officer had expected to be asked a battery of questions and was mildly surprised when the Alterran began laying out the facts unbidden.
When Jason looked up, he saw the thief’s eyes were starting to glaze over. “Not very romantic, is it, Dorian?”
Eroica seemed to return to reality and looked over at the Alterran with sparkling eyes. “Oh, no, this is fascinating,” he drawled, stretching his arms dramatically.
Klaus rolled his eyes. Even he found this type of work tedious, although he would never admit it openly. He chose to take a sip of his coffee and sat back to watch, feeling rather relieved that for once he was not the one having to deal with the Earl during a mission. This thought had scarcely gone though the Major’s mind when he realized the implications of his own thoughts. During a mission. With a bit of a jolt, he realized that he had somehow become embroiled in the Prince’s mission. There was no other reason he could see for the Alterran to share so much sensitive information. Then he realized he was being spoken to and looked up, seeing an inquiring look on Jason’s face. “Was…?”
Eroica laughed. “He didn’t hear a word you just said,” he informed knowingly. “Lost in thought, weren’t you, Major?”
“Shut up!” the Major growled. “Am I not permitted to think?”
“Actually, Major,” Jason broke in, “I would like to hear what you think.” He watched as a thoughtful look passed behind the German’s dark green eyes. What on earth is going on inside that head of his? Humans can be so inscrutable sometimes. And this one doubly so.
“What do I call you?” the Major asked finally.
“Excuse me?” Jason was completely thrown. “I don’t understand. You used to just call me boy.”
“Or idiot boy,” Eroica injected.
Klaus shot him a disapproving sideways glance before returning his attention to Jason. “You want me to help you in this…mission of yours, correct?”
“Well…yes, I supposed I do. I’m not sure how that—”
“You are in command,” the Major stated flatly. “I cannot call you boy.”
“And you can’t call me your highness, either,” Jason said knowingly. “I hate titles, and you hate aristocrats.”
The Major nodded approvingly, taking a drag on his cigarette. “You see my dilemma.”
Eroica was looking from one to the other. “I don’t. Since when have you had trouble calling someone by name, Major?”
Jason gave him a small smile. “When was the last time he called you by name, Dorian?”
“Does idiot count?”
“With you, yes,” the Major snorted, blowing smoke in the Earl’s direction.
This was not the first time, nor would it be the last, that Jason found the officer’s professionalism intriguing. “Major, what you call me is inconsequential as far as I’m concerned. If you must use a title—” He broke off and sighed, waving a hand in the air. “No, forget titles. I detest the things. I prefer to be called Jason.”
The Major nodded. “If that’s what you prefer.”
“Now I am getting bored,” Eroica moaned loudly.
Now it was Jason’s turn to roll his eyes. He glanced over at the Major, seeing a long-suffering look on his face. His expression clearly stated, “Now you see what I have to put up with.” Jason threw a glance over at Eroica, seeing him stretching languidly in his chair. Then he put his legs up on the conference table and closed his eyes.
Jason was momentarily annoyed by this display. Then a devilish expression came to his face and he threw a conspiratorial look over at the Major, whose eyes narrowed in response.
“Alright, Major,” Jason said calmly, “now it’s your turn to tell me how you got into the time corridor in 1987.” He turned his gaze pointedly in the direction of the disinterested and apparently napping Eroica. “Or should we start with his lordship? Since he’s the one I pulled out first.”
The Major’s eyes flickered and he looked over at the thief, who was completely oblivious to the silent conspiracy going on around him. “Agreed. I think that would be best.” He gave Eroica’s chair a sharp kick, almost knocking him to the floor. “Wake up!”
Eroica was so startled that he gave a sharp cry and actually did fall from his chair. “What the hell was that for!”
“Get off your lazy foppish ass!” the Major snapped in mock impatience. “You want to get back to 1987 to steal what isn’t nailed down, don’t you?”
“What the Major is saying, in is own inimitable style, is that I need you to tell me how you got into the time corridor,” Jason replied mildly.
“He can tell you that,” Eroica protested, waving a hand in the Major’s direction.
“Why should he when you can do it yourself?”
Eroica’s blue eyes grew wide and he looked from one to the other. The Major was idly taking a drag on his cigarette, clearly enjoying himself. Jason was looking at him with an amused smirk on his face. “Bloody hell, I’m having a nightmare! You two are actually teaming up against me!”
“No, really?” Jason snorted. “Why would we want to do that?”
The Major blew smoke into the air and actually smiled before taking another sip of his coffee. The Prince was very good at this, he noted. He had obviously learned a great deal in the century and a half since their last encounter.
“Jason, this isn’t funny!” Eroica whined.
“I’m glad you think so, because I don’t have time for your spoiled-brat routine,” Jason stated flatly, sounding very much like a displeased parent. “Save it for a wider audience.” He gave the stunned thief a stern look. “As much as I like you, Dorian, I have to admit that there are times when you can be the biggest pain in the ass!”
“He’s always a pain in the ass,” the Major injected coldly.
Jason ignored the remark. “Now, I know you can be serious. So stop looking at me like an injured two-year-old, get up off the floor, and tell me how you almost got yourself killed in a temporal corridor.”
“You don’t love me anymore,” Eroica pouted as he picked himself up off the floor and made a show of brushing the nonexistent dirt from himself. “I’ve been thrown over for Iron Klaus.”
A low growl rose in the Major’s throat and Jason put his head in his hands. Klaus gave him a sympathetic look. The Prince was one of the few people he knew that stood on equal footing with himself when it came to the Earl’s unwanted advances. The only advantage the Prince had was the fact that he could return to the future where the pervert could not dog his every step.
“Why me?” Jason moaned, not lifting his head from his hands.
“Because he believes everyone is a pervert like him,” the Major said matter of factly.
“Well, I’m a bloody odd pervert then,” Jason replied forcefully. “I’m getting married in six months.” He gave Dorian a look that was so piercing he actually flinched. “And if you make one single off-color remark about my fiancée, I will not hesitate to do you an injury.”
Eroica knew better and returned to his chair. He gave the Alterran a steady look and finally became serious. “May I offer my congratulations on your forthcoming marriage, your royal highness,” he said in his most aristocratic of tones.
A small smile came to Jason’s face. “Thank you, Lord Gloria. Now…about the time corridor?
Eroica drew a deep breath. “Where do you want me to start?”
“I have no idea.” Jason turned to the Major, startling him a second time when he said, “This is your area of expertise, Major. Where do you think he should start?”
* * *
“Doctor, I don’t understand how these readings can fluctuate like this,” Turlough was saying as the Doctor stood before the control panel of the prototype transmat. “With that offline, the readings should be dissipating.”
“Agreed.” The Doctor looked up and smiled. “Interesting, isn’t it?”
Turlough moaned and rolled his eyes. “What do you know that you’re not telling me?”
The Doctor’s eyes widened. “What makes you think I know anything?”
“Because you always know everything,” Turlough replied forcefully. While he had not meant this as a compliment, the Doctor took it as one and beamed back at him. “So…?” the young man prompted. “What aren’t you telling me?”
The Doctor drew a deep breath and then started to manipulate the controls. “I don’t know anything for certain,” he said calmly. “I do have a few theories, though.”
“Let’s hear them, then.”
The Doctor looked up. “Are you really interested?”
“Yes. Why wouldn’t I be?”
“Ah! Don’t mind me.” The Doctor waved a hand dismissively. “I’m too used to Tegan objecting to everything.”
Turlough nodded knowingly. This was indeed true. If Tegan were there, she would be asking dozens of useless questions and not waiting for any of the answers. Thank goodness they had left her in Little Hodcomb. “Well, I am interested, Doctor,” he reiterated. “First, you can tell me what it is you’re doing over there.”
By this time the Doctor had his back turned and was scrutinizing the wall of dials. “I’m trying to get this excuse for technology to lock on to a fixed point,” he informed. “Jason’s at the other end and is supposed to be locking it there.”
“Jason!” Turlough gasped. “You didn’t tell me he was involved in all this.”
The Doctor threw a quick glance over his shoulder. “Didn’t I?”
“Ah, well… Must’ve slipped my mind.”
Turlough ground his teeth in some annoyance. This was rather an important piece of information to just forget to mention. What else had slipped the Time Lord’s mind?
* * *
ARGO Flight Deck
“And this is the flight deck,” Jason said as he led his guests through the door. Sully was in the pilot’s seat and turned, rising to his feet as the Major and the Earl came through the doorway.
“Taking the grand tour?” Sully asked in amusement.
“I’ve never been on a spaceship before,” Eroica replied.
Jason’s eyebrows went up. “What do you call the TARDIS?”
“A Police Box,” Eroica replied brightly.
The Major gave an annoyed sigh. “Idiot.”
“That’s pretty much the whole ship,” Jason concluded. “What do you think?”
“I think it’s badly designed,” Klaus stated bluntly.
Sully slapped a hand on the main console. “There, you see! An unsolicited opinion.” He turned to the Major. “I’ve been telling him that for ten years.”
Klaus turned to Jason. “You should listen to your pilot,” he stated flatly. “The layout of this ship is a security nightmare.”
“Yes!” Sully replied excitedly.
“And the main…hatch, is it?” Eroica injected. “Is too far from the flight deck. Someone could be in and out and you’d never even know it.”
Jason held up his hands in surrender. “Alright, alright, enough!” he said helplessly. “I have to go get that transmat locked on to the time corridor. The Doctor is supposed to be at the other end doing the same thing.”
The Major and Eroica exchanged a look of mutual astonishment. “The Doctor?” they said in unison.
“Yes. I managed to get a message to him through some very annoying channels,” Jason replied. “Whether he got all of my messages, I don’t know.”
“Then what?” the Major wanted to know.
“Well, if all goes well, I should be able to enter the time corridor at this end and exit at the same point where you two entered.”
“KGB Headquarters,” Eroica said darkly.
Eroica threw a look over at the Major who suddenly seemed lost in thought. “Do you think Borodin and Ivanov will be waiting for us, Major?” he asked nervously.
Klaus came out of his daze and met the Earl’s inquiring gaze. “Borodin, perhaps. Not Ivanov.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“Because the bloody fool tried to shoot me,” Klaus replied coldly.
Eroica’s eyes widened a moment. “I can only assume you shot him first.”
“Damn right. I’d say I sent him to hell, if I knew whether the bloody Godless Commie believed in it.”
Jason felt a chill run down his spine at the man’s cold, matter-of-fact attitude. He had just admitted to killing a man as if he were talking about reading a newspaper. Was he really that heartless?
“Um…I’ll be back as quick as I can,” the Prince said as he headed for the door. “Look after my guests, will you, Sully?”
“Certainly, sir. Any orders while you’re gone?” Sully asked.
Jason turned, giving the Major a piercing look before turning to his pilot. “Yes. If the ship is attacked, give the Major that cannon you had before and hide.”
* * *
Jason opened the door to Transmat Room 12 and was relieved to find it empty. It had been ordered sealed and posted as being off limits, but that didn’t guarantee that some curious individual would not venture in anyway. Jason crossed to the controls, his eyes flashing over the readings. “Active again,” he muttered approvingly. “Well done, Doctor.”
He reset the controls, entering a long stream of information into the system, following the instructions the Time Lords had given him. Jason waited for the computer to register success before he finally set the time delay. He crossed quickly to the booth, returning to his true form at the same time.
After a few seconds, the transmat started to glow and in a blink, he was in the temporal corridor. Jason expected to be disoriented and was somewhat surprised when he wasn’t. He could see a light at the far end that he hoped was the booth the Major had described. The Lubyanka end. If he had done everything correctly, the corridor was now fixed at both ends, temporarily connecting the time zones.
Jason reflected on the centuries he was passing through in a matter of seconds as he moved toward the far end. Six centuries in about six seconds, and without the aid of a TARDIS.
Jason was very near his destination when, to his utter astonishment, he saw a humanoid female not far from the opening. To his added shock, he saw she was tied to what could only be described as a whipping post. The back of her dress was torn open, revealing her equally torn flesh, obviously the result of a beating. Possibly more than one. She was hanging limply from her bonds and Jason’s first thoughts were that she was dead. Then he wondered why his sensors had failed to detect her presence, and concluded that they must have been overwhelmed by the temporal energies surrounding him.
The woman did not appear to be wearing anything to protect her from the temporal forces within the corridor. Another shock. As Jason drew nearer, his sensors picked up the presence of a forcefield around the post to which the woman was bound. Could this be what had hidden her from his sensors? He cautiously moved in front of her, taking in her appearance at the same time. She was tall and slim, her long dark hair pulled over one shoulder. She wore unusual flowing garments that floated and twisted around her, moved by the temporal winds.
Jason saw a sight movement that verified this individual was still alive, if just barely. He reached out a tendril, gently brushing the hair from her face. Not to his great surprise, the instant she opened her eyes she gave a weak cry of terror and flinched back.
“Don’t be afraid,” he said calmly. “I’m not going to hurt you.”
The terrified woman did not seem to hear him. “If you’ve come to kill me, just do it,” she said in as defiant a tone as she could manage. “I’m not afraid anymore and I won’t help you.” She closed her eyes as if to brace herself for the inevitable.
Jason was taken aback by this. “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he replied in as gentle a tone as possible. “And despite what my appearance may suggest, I’m not a monster. I’m an Alterran.”
“Alterran?” The woman opened her eyes and finally looked at Jason properly, recognition flashing across her face. “You really are an Alterran,” she said in a relived tone.
“Yes. I really am.”
“Will you help me?”
“Who and what are you?” Jason asked cautiously.
“My name is Muriel.”
“What are you?”
“You can see what I am,” Muriel replied evasively.
“I see a humanoid female in a temporal corridor without any protection, yet unaffected by the ravages of time,” Jason said succinctly. “I repeat. What are you?”
“If I tell you, you may not help me.”
“I won’t help you unless you do tell me. How do I know you don’t deserve to be here?”
Muriel gave the Alterran a quizzical look. “Are you always this aggressive?”
“You call it aggressive. I call it cautious. And the answer is yes. I don’t exactly conform to my race’s norm.”
“I thought Alterrans were supposed to be—”
“This conversation is over,” Jason stated flatly and started to move away.
“Mythryn!” Muriel called out, causing the Alterran to stop short. “I’m a Mythryn!”
“Mythryn…” This was not the reply that Jason expected. Unlike the Time Lords, who had a strict code of non-interference, the Mythryn were the exact opposite. They were notorious for interfering with other races for their own amusement.
“I refused to change events on Earth.”
Jason found himself stunned a second time. Then he recalled her words before she even knew who and what he was. He wanted to press for more details but was uncertain as to how long he could remain in the corridor before his energy field would fail. “Look, I can’t stay in here much longer…”
“Please, don’t leave me!”
“I didn’t say I was going to.” As soon as he said this, Jason saw relief wash visibly over Muriel’s entire body. “How long have you been here?”
“I don’t know. Since I refused to change the timeline…”
“I didn’t think changing timelines mattered to the Mythryn,” Jason said condescendingly.
“Minor changes are one thing, but changing established history…”
Jason’s sensors flared. “Established history?” The current political climate was paving the way for… “Like the collapse of the Soviet Union?”
Muriel caught her breath. “Yes. How did you—?”
“I used to travel with a Time Lord. I know the implications of what you’re saying.”
“A Time Lord?”
“Yes. In fact, he’s supposed to already be at this end of the corridor,” Jason informed. To his surprise, the Mythryn said, “Good. Then he can put a stop to the interference.”
“That’s an odd remark coming from a Mythryn.”
Muriel gave him a small smile. “You’re not the only one who doesn’t conform to their race’s norm.”
“Touché,” Jason replied, his amusement creeping into his voice. “Is that why you were beaten?”
“Yes.” Muriel closed her eyes and gave way to an involuntary shudder. “I said I’d rather die than help him…terrorize the world. He didn’t believe me.” In a small voice, she said, “Nobody believes me.”
Jason thought a moment, only to realize that there was no way he could leave Muriel in her present condition, even if she were lying through her teeth. As far as he could tell, she did not have the strength to do more than speak. She should have been struggling against her bindings when she first saw him, but she barely seemed to have the energy to flinch. “How do I turn off the forcefield?” he asked finally.
Muriel looked up sharply. “You’re going to help me?”
“Do you believe me?”
Jason paused. “I don’t know,” he said truthfully. “I only know I can’t leave you like this. If I do, you’ll die and it will be my fault.”
Muriel was genuinely stunned. “You’re just…letting me go?”
“Not quite. You’re in no condition to go anywhere on your own.”
Muriel gave the Alterran a frightened look.
“I’m not going to hurt you,” Jason said mildly, an amused tone creeping into his voice again. “Nobody believes I’m not a monster, either.”
“Touché.” Muriel nodded toward a gray box near the base of the post. “That’s the control unit.”
Jason found the control switch and deactivated the forcefield. When he released the Mythryn from her bindings he had to catch her as her legs gave way. “You’re definitely in no condition to travel.”
“I’ll be alright once I’m out of here.”
“No you won’t, but I can deal with that. I’m a Healer.” Jason felt Muriel’s body sag and entwined her completely, lifting her off her feet.
Muriel marveled at him a moment. “You haven’t even told me your name.”
Again, the Alterran’s sensors flared. “Sorry?”
“You have blue eyes. That means you’re a member of the Royal Bloodline. You must have at least one title to go with your name.”
Jason sighed heavily. “Actually, I have a fistful of titles. Would you like to hear them all?”
“Which is the most prominent?”
“Crown Prince of Tel-Shye.”
Muriel gave a startled squeak. “You’re related to the Emperor!”
“Yes, I am. I didn’t realize it was common knowledge among the Mythryn,” Jason remarked. He stretched a tendril toward the exit shimmering a short distance away. “Is it 1987 on the other side of that?”
Jason moved closer, looking through the portal into the apparently empty room beyond. He saw the wall full of dials the Major had described during their briefing. “Good.” So saying, he turned and started back the way he came.
“Wait, aren’t you going through?”
“Not yet. I have a couple of friends to take back with me. I was just making sure the corridor was locked.” Jason paused before adding, “Just relax. I’ll look after you.”
“I think I’m dying.”
“Not if I can help it.”
Before Muriel could think of a suitable reply, she saw the opening to the transmat room and tightened her grip. “I don’t think I have the strength to make it through.”
“You’re protected by my energy field. I can get us both through,” Jason replied calmly. “Just hang on.” A moment later, they were passing though the portal and materializing in the transmat room.
“You did it!” Muriel cried out, hugging the Alterran.
Jason exited the booth and then returned to his human form, Muriel still in his arms. “Now, let’s get those injuries seen to.”
Muriel laid her head on Jason’s shoulder. “Thank you, Healer Jason, Crown Prince of Tel-Shye,” she said quietly, wiping a tear from her face.
“You’re welcome, Muriel, Mythryn of the Time Corridor.”
Muriel smiled and closed her eyes. When she opened them again, she found herself in a strange room. She was completely naked and lying face down on a table. Something was touching her back and she caught her breath.
“Welcome back, sleeping beauty,” came Jason’s calm gentle voice.
Muriel turned her head, seeing the Alterran Prince beside her. He had some kind of device in his hand and she gave him a frightened look. “What are you doing to me?”
“I’m treating your injuries. What do you think I’m doing?”
“I don’t…” Muriel rubbed her eyes. “What happened? Where am I?”
Jason pulled the sheet covering his patient’s lower body up over her back and sat down beside her. “You passed out. And you’re in the sickbay of my shuttle.”
“I told you. I’m a Healer. You asked for my help, and I’m giving it,” Jason informed. “I’ve treated your injuries and patched you up as best I can. Now all you have to do is rest.”
“That’s it?” Muriel said suspiciously. “No catch?”
“Well…” Jason gave her a small smile. “Kind of a catch. Don’t tell anyone that I’m the one who got you out.”
Muriel frowned. “Why? Are you ashamed that you helped me?”
“Actually, I was thinking you might have more leverage against whoever put you in there if they thought you had the power to escape on your own.”
The Mythryn gave the Alterran a startled look. “You have my word, your royal highness.”
Jason winced. “Please, Muriel, no titles. My name is Jason.”
“You saved me, Jason. I won’t forget it.”
Jason gave her a small smile and rose to his feet. “You rest. I have to get some things ready before I go meet my friend at the other end of that corridor.”
“Are you leaving me alone?” the Mythryn asked fearfully.
“Only for a few minutes. My pilot will look after you while I’m gone.” Jason gave her a steady look. “Will you be okay on your own a few minutes?”
“I think so.”
“You’re quite safe here, Muriel.”
“What about your friend? The Time Lord?” Muriel asked fearfully.
“What about him?”
“Are you…going to tell him about me?”
“No. I’m not sure he’ll understand.” Jason started toward the door, adding under his breath, “I’m not sure I understand.”
* * *
The Doctor and Turlough were following a guard who had come to get them only minutes before Jason looked out into the now empty transmat room.
“This is something new, you say?” the Doctor asked as they moved deeper into the building.
“Yes, sir,” the guard replied. “The man was most insistent that the statue he was cleaning...” He paused, sighed, and said hesitantly, “He claims it…moved.”
“Moved?” This was Turlough, who was beginning to wonder about the sanity of those occupying the Lubyanka. “You mean it just got up and walked around?”
“No. He said it followed his movements.”
“Like when the eyes on a painting seem to move?”
The guard threw a quick nervous glance over his shoulder to the Doctor. “You did ask to be notified of these occurrences…”
“Oh, yes, yes, you acted quite correctly, Corporal,” the Doctor said quickly, seeing relief wash visibly over the man’s face. He gave his companion a disapproving scowl. “Keep your scanner out,” he said sharply. “I’ve a feeling you’ll be picking up some readings when we arrive.”
* * *
ARGO Flight Deck
“Well, that’s all set!” Jason announced happily as he stepped onto the flight deck and clapped his hands together.
Eroica let out a startled cry, a hand going to his chest. The Major automatically reached for his weapon, which, fortunately for Jason, he no longer had.
Sully was the most vocal. “Damn, do you have to do that!”
Jason was taken aback. “Sorry.”
“I told you this ship is badly designed,” Klaus grumbled.
Jason rolled his eyes. “Fine. When we finish with the problems in 1987, you can come back and help Sully with his design of my new ship,” he replied in a petulant tone.
“He’s already been helping me,” Sully informed. “And so has Lord Gloria.”
Jason’s eyebrows went up. “You actually got these two to cooperate in something?”
“Security and thieving seem to go hand in hand,” Sully replied mildly.
Jason nodded absently. “I’ve got the time corridor locked. If you’re both ready, we can make the trip to 1987.”
Eroica threw a nervous glance over at the Major, who gave a shrug. “I suppose now is as good a time as any,” the thief replied.
“Good.” Jason turned to his pilot. “Sully, I need you for five minutes and then we’ll be on our way.”
* * *
RETURN TO THE PAST
Jason opened the door to the transmat room and held out a hand. “Here we are, gentlemen,” he said brightly.
The Major gave him a sideways glance before entering. He looked around the room, his eyes falling on the transmat booth. “That looks very much like the booth in the Lubyanka,” he said suspiciously. “Except this one actually has a door.”
Jason picked up the edge to his voice and sighed heavily. “Major, the design hasn’t changed in centuries.” He received a dubious look in reply. “Are we back to that again?”
“I’m not sure you’re ever going to convince him this is real, Jason,” Eroica said mildly.
The Major gave him a dark look. “Jason hasn’t given me reason to doubt him…”
“Yet,” Jason said the same time as the Major. His only reply was a long, steady look. Shaking his head, he crossed to the controls, his eyes taking in the readings. He gave a satisfied grunt when he saw the readings had not changed.
“I locked the temporal corridor at this end so it won’t fluctuate anymore.” He looked up, a serious expression on his face. “You’re sure you want to go through this again?”
You mean I have a choice? Eroica’s eyebrows went up. “What? Why?”
“Because I can’t guarantee that I’ll be able to protect you the whole time. And there won’t be any way of stabilizing your system at the other end.”
A panicked expression came to the Earl’s face. “But...how else will we get back?”
“The Doctor will be able to come get you once he knows where…er, when you are,” Jason informed.
“We’re going through,” Klaus stated flatly.
Jason met his steady gaze. “In that case…” He reached inside his jacket and pulled out the Major’s Magnum and shoulder holster, holding it out to the astonished officer. “I think you’d better have these back.”
“Have you had this with you all this time?” the Major demanded, taking the gun from Jason’s hand and checking over.
The Major’s eyes narrowed. “Then why give it back now?”
“Because that time corridor ends in the Soviet Union of 1987,” Jason replied calmly, handing over the ammunition that he was also carrying. “And I’ve seen how well you handle that thing.”
“Are you expecting trouble?”
“Inside KGB Headquarters?”
The Major nodded. “Good point.” He pulled off his jacket, putting the shoulder holster back on, a satisfied smile coming to his face. He had felt far too vulnerable with the weapon missing. “Will it still work properly after going through that thing?” he asked as he put his jacket back on.
“I don’t see why not.”
“I would prefer to test it before having to use it again.”
“No time, I’m afraid.” Jason’s looked over the readings. “Oh, and just so you know,” he said without looking up, “I’m going to have to revert to my true self when we do this.” He finished his entries and finally looked up. “That’s not a problem, is it?”
“Not if it gets us back to 1987,” Klaus replied firmly.
“Then I suggest you both step inside.” He waved a hand in the direction of the transmat booth. “I’m setting a time delay so I’ll have enough time to increase the size of my energy field.”
Eroica pulled open the door and gave the interior of the booth a dubious look, “I could always wait here with Sully,” he said mildly. He hesitated on the threshold too long and was shoved inside by the Major.
“Just get in, idiot,” the officer growled.
“Alright, alright. I’m going,” Eroica protested. He then turned to Jason. “It appears I’ve decided to go with you.”
Jason had to fight not to laugh. He activated the system and went quickly to the transmat, returning to his true form as he crossed the room. He pulled the door shut and carefully entwined the two men. “You may feel disoriented,” he said warningly.
“I don’t think I needed to know that,” Eroica said, adding quickly, “And don’t you dare say it’ll be over soon.”
“How about…it’ll be over before you know it?” Jason replied.
The booth started to hum and Jason tightened his grip slightly. “Just hang on,” he said as the interior started to glow.
“To each other?” Eroica asked brightly, turning a dazzling smile in the Major’s direction.
The Major replied in predictable fashion. “Keep your hands to yourself, you pervert, or I’ll test my gun on you.”
Before Jason could think of a suitable response, they were in the temporal corridor. The swirling energy within the corridor was stronger than he anticipated and immediately overwhelmed his human passengers, knocking them senseless. He increased the strength of his energy field before he moved steadily toward the far end. The Lubyanka end.
* * *
The scanner in Turlough’s hand started squealing for attention so suddenly that the young man almost dropped it. He looked down at the device in shock and then back up at the Doctor. “It’s never done that before!”
The Doctor took the scanner from his companion, made a quick adjustment, and handed it back. “Here, now you should be able to track where it’s coming from.”
Turlough gave him a dubious look. “Great. More ghost stories,” he muttered as he left the room.
* * *
The Time Corridor
Jason passed the post that Muriel had been tied to, seeing it unchanged. The bindings were still in a heap on the ground, the control unit just as he’d left it. Hopefully, this meant that Muriel’s captor had not yet learned she had escaped.
In less than a minute, the Alterran was passing though the portal and into the prototype transmat in the Lubyanka. He exited the booth, carefully laid his passengers on the floor, and returned to his human form. He checked his friends over, a satisfied smile coming to his face as he verified that they had come through this journey along the time corridor unharmed. Rising to his feet, he crossed to the door and listened a moment, giving a nod of satisfaction. All was quiet.
Jason heard a low moan and turned, seeing the Major stir. He had barely returned to the officer’s side when he came awake all at once, his green eyes snapping open. Jason watched in fascination as the Major’s body tensed. He looked around, seemed to get his bearings, and then turned his intense gaze upward.
“Was ist los?” Klaus asked, switching back to English with his next sentence. “Is this the Lubyanka?”
“Yes.” Jason pulled the officer to his feet. “And before you ask,” he said quickly, “you’ve been unconscious less than a minute. There wasn’t anyone here when we materialized. And I haven’t heard a sound from out in the hall.”
The Major nodded approvingly at this concise report of the facts. Jason was definitely not the frivolous boy he had once known. He had matured. A change for the better, as far as Klaus was concerned, especially since he was currently the one in command.
Eroica gave a low groan and opened his eyes, a hand going to his head. “That was bloody awful,” he moaned.
“Don’t start whining,” the Major snapped impatiently.
Eroica sat up slowly. “Don’t start with me, Major. I’m too hungover.”
Jason helped the thief to his feet. “You’ll be okay in a minute or two. Your system just needs time to normalize.” To his own surprise, he suddenly felt very dizzy and put one hand against the transmat booth to steady himself, his other hand going to his head. This didn’t happen when I brought Muriel through. Why should it happen now?
The Major was at the door listening for any sounds of activity. To his relief, all was quiet, just as Jason had reported. He turned back to issues another insult and saw the Prince wavering on his feet. “Hey!” Waving a hand, he called out, “Lord Gloria, catch him!”
“What?” Eroica had only a second to register what was happening. He managed to catch Jason as he collapsed against him and gently laid him on the floor. “Bloody hell, Major. We’ve killed him.”
The Major was across the room and kneeling beside Jason in a blink. He put his fingers to the Alterran’s neck, finding a steady pulse. “Don’t be an idiot,” he snapped, trying not to show how worried he was himself. The unconscious Alterran moaned at that moment and the officer gave Eroica a steady look. “Dead men don’t breathe.”
“Now do you believe him, you thickheaded Prussian?” Eroica snapped angrily. “Or does he have to die first!”
“Shut up! And don’t start fawning over him again!”
“I’m not fawning!”
“Maybe I should just turn you over to the KGB for reeducation. See if a few thousand volts to the groin will turn you on.”
Eroica’s face darkened in anger. “That’s not bloody funny, Major. Now you’re just trying to scare me.”
“Why do you think I keep telling you to stay out of my business?” the Major shot back. “You couldn’t last ninety seconds in the dark.* How long do you think you’ll last with the KGB?”
“You’re all a bunch of blood sadists, do you know that? The whole lot of you.”
The Major’s angry retort was forestalled by the sound of a voice coming from out in the hallway. His head snapped around, his body tensing. “Scheiße!” He was instantly on his feet, gun in hand. “Don’t move,” he ordered.
“Where the hell am I gonna I go?” Eroica whispered back bitterly.
“Shh!” the Major hissed through his teeth as he crossed to the door. He hit the light switch, plunging the room into darkness. The only light came from the interior of the transmit booth, which Eroica and the unconscious Jason were currently beside.
As Eroica looked down at the Alterran’s motionless form, it suddenly struck him that their protector was now the one in need of protection. Would they be able to provide it? One look at Iron Klaus standing like a coiled spring beside the door, Magnum in hand, was confirmation enough that the answer was a resounding yes. The next person to step through the door was in for a very nasty surprise.
* * *
Turlough moved quickly down the corridor, his eyes fixed on the scanner in his hand. “It’s getting stronger!” he called, not even bothering to look back to see how far behind the Doctor was. He knew the Time Lord would catch up eventually.
The needle nearly jumped off the scale as Turlough passed the room containing the prototype transmat. He stopped dead in his tracks and scrutinized the reading. Moving the scanner back and forth to make certain he had located the source. “I’ve found it!” he called, hearing a vague reply echo back at him. “I said I found it!” he called again.
Not waiting for the Doctor to arrive, he opened the door, his eyes still fixed on the scanner. He reached in to turn on the lights, receiving the shock of his life when his arm was grabbed and he was suddenly forced face down onto the floor. Then his arm was twisted painfully behind his back and someone very large and heavy was holding him down.
“Who are you?” his unseen assailant demanded.
To Turlough’s added surprise, the accent wasn’t Russian. “Let go of me!” he protested. To his horror, he felt want could only be the muzzle of a gun press against the back of his head and immediately stopped struggling.
“Verdammt, another Englishman,” Klaus muttered darkly.
“Not even close,” the boy replied coldly. “And you’re not Russian, either.”
“Who are you?” the Major demanded again.
“Turlough, as if knowing that will make any difference.”
“It makes a difference to me,” came the Doctor’s calm voice from the door. He reached in, turning on the lights and taking in the scene in some amazement.
The Major increased the pressure of his knee against Turlough’s back to keep him on the floor while he turned his attention, and his gun, in the Doctor’s direction. Now it was his turn to be amazed as he took in the Time Lord’s appearance. “Mein Gott, we’re not in the Lubyanka. We’re in a lunatic asylum!”
The Doctor stared at the man pointing the gun at him. Alive and well, indeed. He looked over at the Earl, his eyebrows going up. No one had mentioned that Dorian had also been in the Lubyanka. Or that he had accompanied Iron Klaus into the prototype. Then his eyes fell on the figure beside him. “Oh, no…”
“Who are you?” the Major demanded, bringing the Doctor back to reality.
“I’m not sure you’ll believe me even if I tell you,” the Time Lord replied calmly.
“Oh, bugger, not again,” Eroica moaned.
The Doctor gave the officer a steady look. “I would appreciate if you didn’t put a bullet into my companion,” he said coolly as he entered the room.
“So would I!” Turlough agreed wholeheartedly.
“I’d also appreciate,” the Doctor went on, “if you’d put the gun away. I’d rather not be the bull’s eye on one of your targets.”
The Major’s eyes narrowed. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means you’re a dead shot, Major.”
“Doctor, do you actually know this lunatic?” Turlough demanded from his place on the floor.
“Yes,” the Doctor replied.
“No,” the Major countered.
By this time, the Doctor was less than a foot away from the gun that was still leveled at his chest. “You are Major Klaus Heinz von dem Eberbach of NATO intelligence,” he stated evenly. “You’re also supposed to be dead.”
Klaus gave a snort at the last remark.
The Doctor nodded in Eroica’s direction. “That is Dorian Red Gloria, Earl of Gloria, also known as Eroica, an international art thief.”
The Magnum did not waver. “And you are?”
“I’m the Doctor.” The Time Lord’s voice hardened as he said, “Now do put the gun away.”
“This proves nothing.”
What happened next was a blur to the watching Eroica. The Time Lord gave a small sigh. Then his hands flashed up, taking hold of the weapon and pulling it from the astonished Major’s hand with conspicuous ease. The Doctor twisted his body, sending an elbow into the Major’s chest, knocking him off of Turlough and onto the floor. He ended up sprawled on his back, staring up at the Time Lord in astonishment.