Part 2 of a triology
The Doctor found himself in a wine cellar. It was quite ordinary looking and to the untrained eye nothing would strike the observer as odd. That was until the young man who had saved him from the police who had pursued him through the house of Dorian Grey, turned one of the bottles ninety degrees to the right and lifted another up. The rack in which the bottles sat swung open revealing that in fact it was a secret door. The Doctor followed the unremarkable looking young man into the room, the door closing behind them.
“Shush, one moment please.”
The stranger reached out for a device which looked like a cross between a telephone and a trumpet. He spoke into the funnel, his voice calm and controlled.
“Miss Providence, are our friends gone or are they still watching the house?”
“The Torch-,” she just stopped herself from muttering the words which her fiancé despised. Her voice was English but with a regional accent you couldn’t pin down. “We still have company…three of them.”
“Ah, thank you.”
“No. Just keep me informed.” He put the communications device down. “She’s a non-light sensitive lupine human meta-form, you know.”
“Who are you? And, not that I’m ungrateful, why did you save me,” asked the Doctor, his keen eye sweeping across the room soaking in everything, looking for an escape route.
“We are brethren of sorts. I merely wished to preserve your life in order to gain some help from you. Something I need plenty of these days. You do know you’ve gained a lot of attention for yourself.”
“Really I hadn’t noticed,” replied the Doctor. “You still have not told me your name?”
“You haven’t told me yours either, it takes two to tango.”
“I’m The Doctor,” he offered to shake hands. “I think.”
“Then if we are going to trade nom de guerre…I’m The Marquis,” he shook the Doctors hand and smiled. “But my friends call me Isaac Fitzgerald.”
“Where are we, Isaac?” asked the Doctor getting a feeling that that name was familiar to him for some reason.
“It’s Marquis to you. This is the HQ of Deep Shadow.”
“I’m sorry that means nothing to me.”
“We are an organisation set up to help people like you and me,” his tone rather solemn with a hint of anger. “Those who are different. Aliens, outsiders, eccentrics, inventors those who are targeted by certain organisations when unexplained happenings abound.”
“Do you work for the government then?”
“You’ve got to be joking. We’re totally independent,” he picked up a half eaten sandwich from a plate on one of the tables and took a bite. “It’s the establishment that’s the ones who persecute us.”
“I don’t understand,” said the Doctor, pacing the floor.
“Every force has and equal and opposite one. We are the equal to Torchwood. The police are easy to escape. It’s them outside that we need to worry about.”
Sitting at his usual desk was a man whom was not all he seemed. Henry Whitaker scratched his top lip where a thin brown moustache resided.
“Are they still in the building,” he asked, the bald butler who stood at the door.
“Yes, sir,” replied the Butler his Scottish brogue evident. “Our agents report they have not attempted to leave.”
“If they do, follow them. I want to know who’s been stealing those items and why.”
“Are you sure Deep Shadow are behind it, and that it’s a matter for Torchwood?”
“If the Shadow people are interested, we are interested. They may not be behind it, but they know who is and I don’t like people keeping secrets from me.”
“Why don’t you crush them? Her majesty I’m sure would not object.”
“The vermin would only bounce back doubling in size. It would give those namby-pamby liberal minded members something to complain about. No I wouldn’t crush them and give them the satisfaction of gaining support.”
“Of course, sir.”
“Forgive me for asking but who else is part of this organization you…run,” asked the Doctor, approaching one of the shelves of boxes and rows of filing cabinets.
“Were a very compact, efficient-,”
“How many? I can’t be expected to help you unless I’m fully informed.”
The Doctor began to shuffle though the filing cabinet, but as he reached in to pull out an interesting file he’d spotted the Marquis slammed the cabinet shut.
“It’s a need to know thing.”
“You’re the only one aren’t you? You and Miss Providence, you’re the entire operation,” he accused.
“We have many connections and informants. Just because we don’t have a staff of thousands doesn’t mean we aren’t influential.”
“You are a wannabe detective.”
“It’s Victorian Adventurer actually. And death follows you like a shadow, like a smell. Oh, you are not the only one to chuck insults around Doctor. I’ve done my research.”
“Then who am I? Who do you think I am,” he snapped, taking hold of the Marquis’ lapels his eyes pleading. “Tell me please!”
“But you just said.”
“I gave my word. That means something to me, I am a gentleman.”
“Who did you promise this to?”
“We bumped into each other and you swore me to secrecy. I’m afraid I cannot say any more,” the Marquis, sighed and looked away unable to keep eye contact. “I’m sorry, but you’ll understand eventually.”
“No. There are more important things to think about.”
“Like what? What’s more important than a man’s identity?”
“The fabric of the universe…and anyway we’ve got to see a man about a dog,” he grabbed a cloak and hat from the stand by the door. “You coming?”
“But isn’t the house being watched?”
“Not at the exit we will be using.” He activated the communications device. “Miss Providence, we are just popping out to you know where, don’t wait up.”
She acknowledged his message, and he switched the machine off. They both passed out of the secret room into the cellar, up the stairs and out the back door into a small courtyard area. The Marquis knelt down by a manhole cover, looking both ways to check he wasn’t being watched he slowly turned and lifted the cover.
“I hope we aren’t going down there,” asked the Doctor, wrinkling his nose up in disgust.
“Just don’t forget to close the door after you,” replied his new ally just laughed as he climbed down the ladder.
The Doctor could now see as he followed the Marquis that there was a small boat floating, tied to the bottom of the ladder. He climbed down and landed on the thwarts of the boat just as the Marquis had begun to untie the rope after lighting the lantern which hung from the bow.
“Do you want me to take the tiller,” asked the Doctor with a smile.
“No you row, I’ll take the tiller as I actually know where we are heading.”
“To one of your contacts I presume,” he replied swapping places and taking up the oars. He shivered slightly it was not because he was cold but because he had just experienced a kind of daja vu moment and it frightened him. Something bad was going to happen.
“Are you alright Doctor? You look a bit pale.”
The amnesiac Time Lord just shook his head dismissively. Then took a deep breath and began to row.
Butler- as he had come to be known by his colleagues- stood by the window, peering out of the upstairs window into the street below. He did not turn round when he spoke to the person who now joined him in the dusty room.
“Have you spoken with her majesty?”
“The correct form of address while you are in this building is ‘Butler’.”
“And has she been fully informed about the situation?”
“Yes,” the stranger hesitated a moment, “Butler.”
“Did she agree to my…suggestion?”
“You are to be given a chance to redeem yourself in her eyes.”
“She sends her warning that you should restrain your zealous fervor this time.”
“Will she never get over that little misjudgment of mine in the Lee-Shore case?”
“Anyone could have-,”
“Enough. Now is our chance. Inform your brothers that it is time to make a move.”
Dressed in her usual emerald green attire, Miss Providence left the house of her fiancé, a large basket on one arm. She had decided that while the Marquis and his gentleman friend were out she would go and buy some provisions. Unfortunately for her it was at this moment the three men watching the house received their orders. She walked along the street conscious of being followed, but that was not unusual as a member of Deep Shadow she had often been trailed. As the crowds thinned and the path she had taken become quiet she turned round sharply, one man bald with a flat cap pulled down so that his eyes were in shadow approached her. She heard more footsteps and glanced back round there was a very similar looking fellow behind her.
“Apologies madam-,” said one of the men.
“Why? What for,” she demanded trying to back away, becoming quite panicky.
“You must understand you will have to come with us. We have no quarrel with you it’s your fiancé and his accomplice we seek.”
“It’s the only way,” agreed the other.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she replied. “Now kindly step aside and let me pass.”
“I’m afraid we cannot allow that.”
Providence threw her basket at the first one then leapt into the road and began to run the two assailants following her. She cursed fate at not giving her time to morph into her lupine form or she would have been able to evade them much easier without the encumbrance of all her heavy attire. She quickly glanced behind her they must have been pretty fit because they were hot on her heels. Unfortunately in the split second her attention was not on the road ahead a carriage came thundering round the corner. Her attention once more in front she saw too late the conveyance bearing down on her. Frozen by fear she held her arms up in a futile attempt to protect herself and screamed. Her cries her drowned by the shout of the driver and the whinnying of the horses.
The Doctor brushed down his now rather shabby velvet jacket as he waited for the Marquis to close the manhole which they had just used to leave the sewers of Victorian London behind. They were in another small courtyard this one was at a back of a load of houses, a pile of junk sat in the corner against one wall. On the other side was a set of stairs leading up to a balcony of a building. The Marquis headed up the stairs the Doctor hot on his heels. He knocked confidently on the door. There was the sound of shuffling footsteps and the clinking of chains and locks. The door creaked open and two frightened eyes appeared in the dark gap that was between the door and the lintel.
“It’s all right Koral, only me. Is your father in?”
“He’s in the lab,” she replied her voice soft and timid. “Who’s he?”
She pointed at the Doctor.
“Oh, this is the Doctor, he’s one of us.”
“Hello,” said the Doctor with a cheery wave and a smile. “It’s nice to meet you-,”
“Hmmm…” she ignored his introduction. “Is this important?”
“Yes, I’m afraid so.”
“You’ll have to come in then.”
She pulled the door open just enough for them to enter. The hall was dark the only light came from where they had entered. The Doctor noticed that the girl had a tail hidden by her long skirts which closed the door behind them so she didn’t even have to turn round.
“A Half Human Geldrad,” whispered the Marquis, “Unfortunately the male of the species eats its mate.”
“Cannibalism? Is that what happened to her mother?” asked the Doctor a little alarmed.
“Oh no, she’s visiting relatives,” he assured the Timelord. “And Kradel is a strict vegetarian.”
The Doctor raised his eyebrows skeptically as he followed them up the stairs to a dank, dusty looking attic room. It had books and lab equipment piled all over the place.
“What’s the matter,” asked a voice from the depths of the dark corners. “You only come to me when there’s trouble.”
“You would know.”
“The disappearances of certain items and your friend here’s incarceration?”
“See I knew you had some information. I am afraid I must hurry you got to get back to the house before they figure out I’ve given them the slip.”
“Hmmmm…if he lives up to his reputation I’m sure the Doctor has already figured it out. Why those objects are missing,” replied Kradel.
“If you lived up to yours you wouldn’t be speaking in riddles,” snapped the Marquis.
“Don’t tempt me boy, I am vegetarian by choice you know. You are not an intellectual person in the basic sense but extremely good in a practical situation. Stick to your strengths Ferdie.” The Marquis flinched at the use if this name. The Doctor suspected it might be the young mans true identity. “Now, Doctor what are your ideas on the subject of the missing items?”
“They all must be connected somehow unless the thief is a kleptomaniac,” suggested the Doctor, pacing the floor as he pondered the puzzle. “There seems to be no purpose to it. Some of the items are valuable others are worthless.”
“That is the point they are all valuable to someone, not necessarily for their monetary value. Take that beaker over there-,”
The Doctor picked it up. To his mind it seemed quite ordinary.
“Yes, nothing remarkable in the object itself except the person it belongs to a…friend of mine Dr Jekyll. Now do you see?”
“So it belonged to him what does that mean,” asked the Marquis a little puzzled.
“Its not the object but whom it belongs to,” shouted the Timelord suddenly giving the Marquis a pat on the back. “What a fantastic notion!”
“So the owners they are all linked somehow. What’s the connection?”
“Fiction,” replied Kradel. “In this world they are reality. But in another they are merely words on a page.”
“So maybe this thief wants to go to this-, no. Wait. He thinks these objects will help him travel to an alternate reality.”
“You are quite correct. The objects such as the blue frock coat work as a dimensional anchor.”
The Doctor paused for a moment hand on his chin as he tried to comprehend this revelation. Calculations swam through his head that he understood but he didn’t know why he did. The amnesia only allowing him access to his knowledge, but not his memories.
“But that would need enormous stores of energy-,”
Butler entered the gloomy room a corsage of mistletoe in his buttonhole. Providence sat on the old battered sofa by the empty fireplace, her hands bound with silver cord. She held her head aloof as he approached intimidating, his footfalls echoing around the spartan room.
“Well, well, well. What have we here? You nearly gave us a lot of trouble, my dear.”
“What do you want?”
“Your knowledge my dear.”
“Don’t talk rubbish. Take your chance kill me now. I will never tell you anything,” she snarled.
“I don’t wish to destroy you. We respect the wolf,” he said, stroking her hair.
She turned away in disgust, a deep growl of anger in her throat.
“You will tell me where your two collaborators are.”
“Never,” she stated.
“You will soon change…your mind.”
There was a knock at the door.
“Two callers, in quick succession is very unusual. Were you followed here?”
“No, I would never allow it,” replied the Marquis. “We took a roundabout route.”
There was another knock at the door this time heavier more aggressive accompanied by angry shouts of, “Open up! Open this door in the name of the-,”
“Koral, the door, check the locks and chains,” said Kradel, urgently.
She let out a little yelp. “The door, I forgot to bolt it!”
“Then we don’t have long, you know where to hide,” he replied, “And you two need to disappear.”
“The window,” suggested the Doctor.
The Marquis went over and helped him lift the sash window open. There was the sound of splintering wood from down stairs.
“Go. Go now,” said Kradel.
“Aren’t you coming with us?”
“No. You go and quickly. I’ll be fine.”
The both climbed out onto the window ledge, the Marquis pushed the window shut. Then he pointed at the drainpipe, the Doctor got the gist of what he planned. The Timelord glanced in through the window just enough so he could see without being seen. Koral ducked into an alcove behind a bookcase and Kradel emerged from the shadows. He was of indeterminate age and languid demeanor had short curly hair, and wearing a baggy dark suit. His tail poised ready as the two baldheaded men entered.
“Where are they,” one of them asked. “Tell us freak.”
“How dare you come bursting into my house, insult me and demand things,” exclaimed Kradel.
“Give them up creature,” said the other man, “or we will make you give them up.”
“Just you try,” replied the Geldrad.
With a flick of his tail a scythe like blade appeared at the end of the tail. The two men approached Kradel just as the Marquis beckoned him over to the drainpipe.
“I’m coming,” replied the Doctor.
They both shinned down the drain pipe; he looked up momentarily as he heard cries coming from the room they had just left. It seemed that Kradel might have had a relapse when it came to his vegetarian convictions.
Whitaker stormed into the room. Butler immediately leapt back and stood to attention. Miss Providence sat there her eyes closed in a trance like state.
“What is the meaning of this? I gave no authorization for an abduction,” blustered Whitaker.
“I received orders from a higher authority,” replied Butler.
“I don’t care. What have you done to her?”
“It is merely a simple trick taught to me by a Tibetan wise man who once visited the monastery. She will come out of the trance momentarily, sir.”
“What is the point of this foolish exercise, man?”
“Information, sir. With all due respect you are rather inept and I had to make sure things were done right.”
“You dare question my authority? You have witnessed what happens to people who cross me-,”
“It doesn’t matter. Now the brethren will take their rightful place and you can’t stop us.”
He untied Providence bonds and clicked his fingers. Her eyes snapped open face expressionless.
“Kill,” was the only word Butler uttered.
The End….for now