Tag Archives: Legacy

Kuang-Shi (2012) – Sneek Peak

‘Kuang-Shi’ is a story I wrote way back in 2002. It’s one of the Legacy stories I’ve been most looking forward to revising. Ten years is a long time, and there’s much about that story which needs fixing. Or more like beating into shape. And so this week I’ve started revamping it! The core story is the same, the events are, more or less, as people will remember them. Only this time it will all make sense, there’ll be some real depth to the characters, to the dark journey they all take in this story. And there will be loads of new material.

The book is due out at the start of 2013, but here’s a sneak peek at the revised first chapter…

Chapter One

The air frizzled and an outline of three people appeared. Within seconds they had solidified, standing in a circled off area under a large cedar tree. The Doctor was the first to act, removing his hands from his two young friends. He looked around, rubbed the bronzed amulet hanging from his neck and muttered to himself.

‘So, not Westminster Abby, then.’

The young man and woman looked at each, smiled and looked up at the sunny sky. Almost in unison they raised a hand to protect their eyes from the glaring sun.

‘This is Earth, isn’t it?’ asked the woman.

The Doctor turned to face her. ‘Yes, Alf, it certainly is Earth, but not where I expected us to materialise.’

‘Nice one, Doctor.’ Alf removed her sunglasses from one of the pockets of her combat trousers and placed them over her eyes. She looked over at Nick who was putting on a less advanced pair of sunglasses. ‘Nick, I’m home,’ she said, and the Doctor grinned behind her back.

After almost a year in the 26th Century it felt nice to be back on Earth. He had to admit he did miss the old place, but probably not as much as Alf. For her, she didn’t even remember her homeworld – the future Earth had been consumed by the Cybermen, and made uninhabitable as a result.

Nick subtly squeezed Alf’s hand, not that the Doctor noticed, of course.

He smiled to himself. ‘Well, we are in the correct year, although not in the place I wanted to be. We were supposed to arrive in Westminster Abby, just in time to witness Andrew marry Fergie. Still,’ he added, checking his watch, ‘we appear to be in the right temporal location. July 23rd 1986.’

‘This the Lebanon Circle, which means we’re in the East cemetery.’

He wandered off to look at the stone wall, overgrown with foliage. ‘Highgate Cemetery unless I am mistaken.’

Nick looked around. ‘How can you tell that?’

‘This the Lebanon Circle, which means we’re in the East cemetery.’ The Doctor looked over at Alf. ‘I brought us to Earth on purpose, for you. Neither Nick nor I have homes we can return to, but you at least deserve to see your home.’

Alf was still smiling. ‘Thanks, Doctor.’

‘Least I can do. After all it is my fault that you lost your memory. Kind of.’

Alf looked around, awkwardly. ‘Look, Nick, do you mind if I go off on my own for a bit?’

‘I…’ Nick clearly did mind, but the Doctor stepped in before Nick could say anything else.

‘That’s a good idea. Reacquaint yourself with London. Explore your roots a bit. Who knows, being here may spark some memory in you?’

‘Hope so. Remember that jacket I had? The one that looked like it once had things stitched to it?’

The Doctor nodded. ‘Yes. Whatever happened to it?’

‘Lost it during the war somewhere. Maybe in the Settii cluster?’ Alf shrugged. ‘Don’t matter. Point is, the last badge to fall off, when I was working at the internment camp, was this little black and silver thing that has “1987” embroided onto it. This is 1986, right?’

‘Hmm.’ The Doctor could see where Alf was going. He wanted her to find her roots, but if that badge came from 1987, then it followed so did Alf. What could he do, though? Could he really deny Alf this opportunity? No. This universe was not the one from which she originated, so maybe she never existed on this Earth.

The Doctor hoped so.

‘Okay, there’s an Underground station nearby. Archway, I believe.’ He reached into his deep pockets and pulled out a role of notes. ‘Money. Look after yourself. You can use the amulet to find us.’

Alf looked down at her own amulet. ‘Yeah?’

‘Yes, just hold it, think of us, and it will guide you. Low telepathic feild,’ the Doctor added with his brightest smile. ‘Not as good as the TARDIS, but…’

‘Works for me.’ Alf smiled and looked over at Nick, who was standing a little distance away from them.

The Doctor noticed a strange look pass across his face; disappointment.

Nick looked away.

Alf shrugged. ‘Fine,’ she said softly. ‘Cheers, Doctor, catch you in a bit.’

Nick watched her as she walked out of sight. ‘That was nice of you,’ he said, coming over to the Doctor. He didn’t sound so happy.

‘Well I owe both you and Alf a lot. Besides, you and I have to talk. We haven’t really spoken since you left for your mission to New Mars, and then, I seem to recall, we didn’t part on the best of terms.’

Nick scratched his head. ‘Yeah, keep forgetting that.’ He nodded. ‘Clone you on Nova Mondas.’

‘Quite.’ The Doctor sniffed. ‘Can you smell that?’

‘Yeah.’

It was a faint burning. The Doctor looked around the small circle, and with a cry of excitement pointed to a small build up of energy hanging before the cedar tree. They both walked over to it.

‘What is it?’ Nick asked.

The Doctor probed it with a chubby finger and pulled back quickly. ‘Ow!’ He sucked the tip of his finger. ‘That hurt.’

‘So, what is it then?’

‘The remains of some kind of temporal-spatial portal. At a guess I would say that it was this that pulled us slightly off course.’ With a pop the fissure closed up and faded into nothingness. ‘And now it is gone. Hmm.’

The Doctor looked around. It had been a while since he’d travelled through time, and his time senses were rusty. He concentrated. As a Time Lord he should have been able to sense disruptions in time, but that ability had weakened ever since the planar shift that had altered reality around him.

Ever since Gallifrey had gone.

He removed his amulet and waved it around in front of him.

‘Some kind of divining rod?’ Nick asked.

The Doctor was impressed. ‘Yes, actually,’ he said slowly. ‘I’m fine tuning the amulet’s temporal field to the portal; if it returns the amulet will let me know. There!’ He pocketed the amulet.

‘So, this talk then?’

The Doctor looked at Nick with a smile. ‘Yes. And I know just the place!’

*

Nick sat down as the Doctor went to fetch some drinks. They were in a small coffee shop just off Hampstead Heath, and Nick was in the best mood he had been in for half a year.

The Doctor is alive!

Things had happened so fast since the Doctor had walked into the shop of Alpha Centauri, carrying a teddy bear and a Ming vase. Nick had tried to slow things down, get some sense out of the Doctor, but it had been a whirlwind of activity and explanations. Nick did not doubt the Doctor, he never would, but he hadn’t had the time to truly process everything.

‘What about Falex?’ Nick asked as the Doctor sat at the table and passed Nick a drink.

‘He’s where he needs to be once again.’ Although he put on a smile, Nick could tell the Doctor was lying.

‘But you promised to look after him, we both did.’

‘I know that, Nick, but when I met his aunty on Taureas II she made me promise to return him home. I should have returned him straight away… but the war…’

A lot of things went crazy with the war. Nick could at least understand that. ‘But I should never have taken him to Chronos with me, I should have…’

The Doctor looked up from his drink sharply. ‘Chronos?’

‘Yeah, some totally screwed up planet. Void pirates, living sky barrels…’

The Doctor rubbed his beard. ‘Oh, a planet. I thought…’ He shook his head. ‘It doesn’t matter. Look, Nick, I understand what you’re saying, but Falex will be better with his own people. Remember what you told me about the Black Sun Station. What Falex did there. While the war went on, while I was in hiding so the clone could do his work, I looked into what Theahmin said. No, not said, implied. She told me it was not safe for “someone like him” to be off Taureas II. And then there was something Alf noticed; that there were no children to be seen anywhere in the capital city of that world.’

Nick didn’t like the sound of that. ‘Then why send him back?’

‘Because of what I discovered. Nice coffee, don’t you think?’ the Doctor asked abruptly, even though he’d yet to pick his cup up.

Nick knew this one. Deflection. He’d seen it practiced many times; heck, he’d done it enough with Falex, especially after he’d thought the Doctor had died and Falex continued to barrage him with questions.

He sat back and folded his arms. ‘This isn’t going to work on me. I’ve been without you for months; I almost died! Lost the use of my legs.’

Now it was the Doctor’s turn to furrow his brow. ‘What? But you’re…’

‘Implants.’ Nick sat forward again, and picked up his cup. ‘Let me tell you what happened on JS-439,’ he said, and outlined the events that led to him being crippled, and the subsequent implants given to him by the Martian surgeon Zylarx, and then the best Draconian cyberneticists who fixed them after the war. While he did this, he sipped the coffee. It was a strong taste, quite unlike anything he’d ever tasted before.

‘No other planet has ever come up with anything like coffee,’ the Doctor pointed out. ‘Oh, there’s worlds which claim to have drinks called coffee this and coffee that, but none quite have the right kind of beans. Remind me to take you the early 21st Century sometime. Coffee seems to be the taking over the Earth by 2011.’

Nick chewed his lip. ‘I don’t think Cybermen really have a taste for coffee,’ he said, trying to keep his tone light, but it was difficult when he remembered how many had died because the Cybermen.

‘Yes. I keep forgetting. Need to get used to this again.’ The Doctor finished his drink. ‘What about Alf?’

Nick nearly spilt his drink; such was the unexpected way in which the Doctor had changed the topic. He eyed his mentor. Had Alf been talking to him? No, of course not, she wouldn’t have had the chance. Unless it was before the war… only, there was nothing to tell the Doctor then.

Was there even something to tell him now? Nick wasn’t so sure. But he remembered the way Alf had massaged his shoulders before the ceremony on Draconia…

‘Erm, what about her?’

‘She’s only with me because I am the only link to her past. But she doesn’t belong with me, nor does she belong on Alpha Centauri. That life was forced on her by the Dommervoy.’

‘Seems to me, mate, the entire last year was forced on all of us.’

‘That is true.’ The Doctor pulled the amulet out of his pocket. ‘Nothing.’

‘What do you think that portal thing was?’

‘No idea, Nick. But whatever it was, it was powerful enough to pull us off course.’

Nick stood up. ‘Then maybe we should head back to the cemetery? Can’t sit here drinking coffee all day.’

The Doctor beamed at him. ‘That’s the spirit, Nick! Now we’ve cleared the air, let’s go and make ourselves useful while Alf is off recollecting.’

At the mention of Alf, Nick paused. The Doctor stopped in the doorway and looked back.

‘What is it?’

‘You don’t think Alf will want to stay here, do you?’

The Doctor thought about it for a second. ‘I don’t know, Nick, that’s up to her.’

Nick sighed inwardly. Yeah, it was…

*

There was definitely something familiar about the place, almost as if she were visiting somewhere she had grown up in and only had a vague memory of. Which, Alf considered, wasn’t that far from the truth.

She had distant snatches of London, as she was now realising. Passing through the various tube stations on the way from Highgate to Oxford Street awoke certain feelings in her.

There was nothing too specific, just a sense that she had been on a similar journey before. A child bored out her head, while a woman sat beside her, head buried in a magazine. Presumably her mother. Someone who encouraged strong feelings in Alf, either way.

She stepped out of Oxford Circus Station and looked around. So many people!

People like her. Humans! For so long it had only been her. Sure there were plenty of humanoid races in the Galactic Federation, those who looked almost human, but even Nick, the closest to human she had found out there, wasn’t really human. During their long mission to find those spies for the Cybermen, the Doctor had explained a little something about Nick. That he’d once been part of this almost-omnipotent race called the Millennium People, but something had happened that had turned him human. Or at least a close approximation of one. That should have bothered Alf, but living on Alpha Centauri tended to expand one’s horizons. Some of her best friends had been non-human. People she respected, and trusted. But at least being around Nick, and to some extent, the Doctor, made Alf feel a little closer to her own people.

Now here she was. Once again on Earth, surrounded by real human people!

She set off down Oxford Street…

She set off down Oxford Street, looking for somewhere to eat real greasy, unhealthy food. The kind only humans could make.

A number 88 bus passed her by, and she looked up at it. Snatches of memory came back to her. She could see herself as a young girl, with a bunch of other girls, on a bus as it drove up Oxford Street, intent on visiting Tower Records in Piccadilly Circus. She was sitting next to the window, looking down at the sea of people, while a brown girl chatted to her. They were laughing about something, although Alf could not remember what. She thought hard. That girl – her best mate. What was her name?

It was frustrating, but at least it was a memory. Alf smiled. Thanks, Doctor, she thought, a real trip down memory lane.

As she walked she noticed the bill-posts pasted to closed shop fronts. She had seen similar things on the trains. It was an imitation of the Kitchener posters used in 1914, a recruitment campaign of the First World War (she dimly recalled learning about this in History at Greenford Secondary School – more random memories!).

UNIT WANTS YOU, it said in bold letters, with JOIN THE UNITED NATION’S ARMY! GOD SAVE THE KING written underneath in a smaller font.

Ever since she’d entered Archway Station Alf had the feeling that something wasn’t quite right. These posters confirmed it. She had never heard of UNIT, and since when did Earth have a United Nation’s Army?

Then there was the mention of a king… Alf was pretty sure that the UK had a queen in 1986.

She shook her head and continued walking. Maybe the Doctor could explain it later. For now she wanted a good old fashioned burger.

*

A man walked a few feet behind Alf, unseen by her. Short blonde hair and eyes like blue steel, he followed her, unable to believe what he was seeing.

He smiled. He knew this was a different world from Styria, but it still felt familiar to him, as strange as it might be. Full of machines, carriages without horses, and people wearing the strangest clothes. It was, he thought, the perfect place to hide.

Until he saw her.

For a moment he thought the blood countess had followed him, that she too had discovered one of those magic doors, but as he reached out his mind he felt nothing. No presence at all. The young woman, although an exact double, was empty.

Yet, somehow, she looked just like the Countess Dorothea.

And so he followed her, intrigued, memories of their short-lived marriage filling his mind.

*

Nick buckled but the Doctor caught him before he hit the ground. Nick took a deep breath and steadied himself. He looked at the Doctor, and saw the sympathetic smile.

‘The implants?’ the Doctor enquired.

Nick wasn’t so sure.

Yes, pain from the implants was a constant, one his the pain-centre of his brain was getting used to. Like an itch he could not scratch. This was different.

‘Ain’t got a Scooby,’ he said, rubbing his legs.

The Doctor nodded, then blinked. ‘A what?’

‘A Scooby. Scooby-Doo. Clue. You know.’

‘Oh. Rhyming slang. Okay. Well, come on, let’s uni.’ The Doctor smiled at his own cleverness but Nick only looked confused. ‘University don, move on?’

Nick smiled through the pain, and raised his eyebrows. ‘You made that up.’

‘I did not!’

Nick laughed, folding his arms. ‘Yes you did.’

‘I… did, yes.’ The Doctor cleared his throat and glanced down to the pavement below him. He looked up with a cheeky grin. ‘Right. You fit enough to carry on?’

‘Thanks,’ Nick said, realising what his friend was attempting to do. He practiced running on the spot. ‘Yep, all systems go.’

‘Come on then.’

*

Alf bit into the quarter pounder with relish, and chewed. It was amazing! She didn’t even mind the sharp taste of the pickled gherkin; it just felt good to eat real Earth food again. The Doctor had done his best back on Alpha Centauri, but it hadn’t been the same.

She looked out of the window as she chewed. People continued about their business, unaware of the phenomenal moment Alf was having. To her, that only made things even more incredible.

For the first time in ages she felt truly alive. Vibrant!

She blinked. Across the road she thought she saw… She looked closer.

Nah, it couldn’t have been. Although it did look like Nick. Their eyes connected and the man looked away.

She closed the polystyrene burger box and picked up her milkshake. She could have sworn it was Nick – even though he was dressed in some ancient looking clothes, and his hair was short.

As Alf moved from the table she bumped into a McDonald’s crewmember. ‘Oh, sorry,’ she said, then stopped.

Beneath the cap there was no mistaking the rounded face. It was Alf. Younger, less worn, but Alf nonetheless. The younger looked at the elder with equal surprise.

‘Gordon Bennett!’ the younger exclaimed.

*

The rest of the walk to Highgate Cemetery was uneventful. They passed the obelisks that gated the shaded lane, and Nick pointed to one of the nearby tombs. On the wall next to the iron door hung an inverted torch.

‘What’s with the torches, Doctor?’

‘They are an ancient symbol of death. Indeed, according to old Earth mythology…’ He tailed off and pulled the amulet out of his pocket.

In the centre a sapphire glow emanated.

In the centre a sapphire glow emanated.

‘It’s back!’ he said, his bearded face lighting up. He set off at run.

Nick watched him hare off and groaned. Why does he need to run around so much? Bracing himself for the pain, Nick set off at a brisk jog after the Doctor. His route took him through the two rings of catacombs. As soon as he emerged from the inner ring Nick came to an abrupt stop.

The Doctor stood there, a look of total disbelief on his face. Nick looked beyond the Doctor to the portal that hung before the massive cedar tree.

A man was standing by the portal, looking around as if dazed by something. He was dressed in clothes from a simpler time.

A man from their past.

The Doctor stepped forward and held a hand out. ‘Bradley?’ he asked, his voice choked.

The young man turned to look at the Doctor. Nick took a step back. There was no doubt about it, the man before them was Bradley DeMars – one time companion of the Doctor, and a man who had died on Nova Mondas in 2101. Nick remembered it clearly.

This was not good.

‘Erm, hi,’ Bradley said.

*

Alf stepped back and looked herself over. She could not believe it. Then it came to her. Summer 1986, and with a month to go before her sixteenth birthday she had been doing work experience in McDonald’s on Oxford Street. She had hated it.

‘Ere, how come you look like me?’ asked the younger Alf. She peered closer. ‘You are me, ain’t you?’

‘Yeah.’ Alf was not sure what to say.

Young Alf grinned. ‘I knew it! Knew I wasn’t from Earth, no way I’d be from that naff family. Time travel,’ she asked.

All the name badge said was ‘trainee’. Alf shook her head. She needed to know something important. The most important thing ever. ‘What’s my name?’

‘What? You don’t know? But you’re me…’

‘From a future where you’ve lost your memory.’

Young Alf looked crestfallen. ‘Brilliant.’ She shook her head. ‘Well, I know what it ain’t. It ain’t Dorothy, that’s for sure.’

Dorothy. Yes, that sounded right somehow. Only there was something else that came with the name. A sense of disappointment.

‘Call me Ace, that’s what everyone else calls me.’

‘Ace?’ Alf repeated the name to herself. She thought back to the jacket that she had left in Earth’s Pride. There used to be a name on the back of it, but all that was left was an ‘A’. When Vasek had suggested she call herself Alf, she’d figured that made sense of the ‘A’. But now… She reached out for the girl. ‘Listen! You have to tell me…’

Alf’s hand connected with Ace’s shoulder and time seemed to stand still around them. They blinked in unison.

There was a crackle of energy and the two of them hit the floor together.

Ω

Kuang-Shi © 2002, 2012 by Andy Frankham-Allen, All Rights Reserved

‘Time Amulet’ design © 2012 by Mark Pilbeam/Frankallen Books

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New Legacy Title

Followers of this blog, and indeed my writing, will be aware of Legacy… But for those who new, here’s the brief lowdown.

Legacy began in 2001 as a fan fiction based on Doctor Who, it ran for the next five years until mid-2006 when Matrix Revelation was published. By the end it was well-known, with some of the best fan writers involved. During the course of it’s initial run, I became a professional author myself, having had published two official Doctor Who short stories and a Space: 1889 audio drama produced. Legacy has never really left me, and in 2010 I set myself a new task. To totally revamp the series, fix things (and there were a lot of things to fix, especially in the first two seasons!), and self-publish them, while at the same time raising money for Cancer Research UK. I was doing well with them up until September last year, when my professional writing took over. As a result it’s taken me almost a year to get the next book released – that’s quite a gap for those waiting on the end of season two.

Well, the wait is over.

I can finally announce that Legacy 2.3 is out. And an epic tale it is, too! The final battle between the combined might of the Galactic Federation and the Martian Empire against the most awesome army of Cybermen ever devised. Hanging in the balance, the fate of Nova Mondas (or, as it was once known, Earth!), and Mars. To win, a great sacrifice will have to be made, and it’s one only the Doctor can make…

The book is only £5.25, plus p&p, and available direct from Lulu Distributions. As mentioned above, the series is published to raise money for Cancer Research UK. No profit is made by me or anyone involved from this venture.

This is the fifth title in the series, so for those of you who’ve entered the game a little late, all titles are still available HERE

 

Here’s an excerpt from Cost of War;

Christmas 2001, Portland, Oregon USA.

The doctor walked into the room. It was a small cream box, with a tiny window and a single camping bed against one wall, the only other furniture being a small table, with a large pile of sheets on it, and a tiny metal framed chair. The cushions on the chair had been worn down by hundreds of people before it had been moved in here, and the colour was lost and the fibre of the cushions frayed.

The patient sat on the camping bed, watching the sky out of the window. The doctor walked over to the sheets of paper. He’d seen most of them before but some of them were new. They were still filled with endless scrawlings of nonsense. The symbols on the page made no sense, as though they were a mimicry of writing, without the basic understanding of the principles behind it.

And yet the patient still demanded more and more paper – he tried time and again to write out the story he told to the doctor every week, practising to see if the ability would return to him, to see if he would suddenly learn to write.

‘Hello, Roger.’ The doctor tried to attract the patient’s attention.

‘Hello, Dr Cooper.’ The man continued staring out of the window.

Cooper got irritated. ‘What are you looking at?’ He tried to keep his annoyance out of his voice.

‘The sky.’

The doctor moved in to look out the small window behind him. ‘It’s very cloudy today, isn’t it? Like a storm is coming.’

‘The sky knows.’

‘Pardon?’ This comment threw Doctor Cooper.

‘The sky knows that something is going to happen.’

‘What is going to happen?’

For the first time Roger turned to look at him. A look of pain shot across his face. ‘I can’t say.’

‘Okay then.’ The doctor had got used to Roger’s odd behaviour. He had been morose for weeks, as though he was aware of some great sadness no one else had realised.

‘But…’ said Roger, obviously not finished, ‘it’s important I finish telling my story today.’

‘Why?’ Doctor Cooper was intrigued. The patient was usually so concerned that he got all the details of the narrative right. To place a time constraint on his story telling was very out of character.

‘Because I won’t be able to soon.’

The doctor tried to keep the sympathy from showing on his face. ‘Why haven’t you written it down?’

‘Don’t you think I’ve been trying?’ Roger pointed in irritation at the sheets on his table. ‘Don’t you think I’ve wanted to? This brain wasn’t built for my mind. I’ve been trying to use it, to translate my thoughts onto paper, but I just can’t get the language centres to work right. On the page, it all comes out as nonsense.’

The doctor thought it was best to nip this in the bud – maybe he could try once again to point out a flaw in this man’s story, show Roger that he can’t be right?

‘Why did you “download” yourself into this body then?’

‘Because I wanted to tell the story – the story deserved to be told. I had to download myself into an empty mind, into someone who would be ready to receive me. I couldn’t wipe an innocent mind to tell my story. To tell their story.’

‘So are we nearly at the end?’

Roger nodded solemnly. ‘Very nearly. There’s only one bit left.’

‘So…’ Doctor Cooper examined his notes from last time. The story’s main character, the Doctor, was on the home planet of the monsters. An authority figure attempting to wipe out chaos; a typical delusion. It was the other characters and details in the narrative who were the interesting parts. ‘Is Nick still on Mars with Falex?’

‘Yes. Alf is with the Draconians in space and the Doctor is on Nova Mondas.’

Another interesting thing was the fact that Roger had included himself in the narrative at one point. However, his inclusion had resulted in him awaking in the mind of a human in a mental institution, ready to tell his story. It was unusual for a dementia like this not to place much more importance on his own role in the story. However, it was partially true. The patient had just woken up one day last year and insisted on being called Roger, and that he had a story to tell.

‘So. Where are we going to begin today?’

‘On Mars.’

‘With Nick?’

‘Yes.’

‘So where exactly are we on Mars?’

Roger looked pained again for a moment, as though trying to think of where to begin. ‘In something called the GodEngine.’

‘GodEngine?’

He looked uncomfortable again, as though he was sad at doing such a bad job of telling the story. ‘Yeah. Don’t worry, I’ll explain it all later…’

Mr Busy Returns

Okay. So I’m back…

Followers of this blog will remember how I said right at the beginning that I am rubbish at keeping up with blog entries. I think it’s fair to say that a gap of three months is all the proof needed. Although, in my defence, I have been very busy in the interim. Thus, this entry will be a bit of an update, bringing all you lovely readers back up to speed on where things are with my various projects.

First of all, ‘The Garden’ saga begins very soon indeed. What is it? I hear you ask. Well, essentially it’s a four-book urban fantasy/horror series, and book one (‘Seeker’) is being published in print and electronic formats simultaneously by Hirst Publishing and Untreed Reads Publishing. It is a series I was ‘clearly meant to write’, according to my editor at Untreed. Here’s the blurb…

Meet Willem Townsend: London-based entrepreneur; loyal friend; loving uncle. He seems to have everything going for him, but deep down Will is trapped by work, family, and the sheer mundanity of daily routine. Stepping outside his comfort zone he begins an internet romance and, despite the reservations of his best friend Jake, Will arranges to meet his lover for a weekend getaway.

The weekend passes, and not a word is heard from Will. Jake organises a search for his friend, fearing the worst, and as Jake’s frenetic hunt progresses, he begins to realise that Will may have meant more to him than he was willing to believe.

In Southend, a naked man is found in a garden, suffering from a trauma that he cannot recall. And when the memories come flooding back, they are borne by blood. He holds the key to a secret world where the price of entry is death…

The book launches on March 20th at The King’s Cross bar in Cardiff, and will be on general release (both in print and eBook) from Monday March 21st. You can currently pre-order the book directly from the Hirst website. Those of you wishing to attend to launch, can find out more about it on this Facebook page. Everyone who attends the launch and gets a copy of the book signed automatically gets entered into the prize draw, the winners of which will be announce throughout the Vampire Themed Night bash at the King’s. One of the prizes will be a coupon for a free copy of the exclusive eBook prelude being published by Untreed Reads…

 

Which brings me to, ‘Serere, A Prelude’.

The novelette will be released at the beginning of March, and will only be available online (it will not be available in print – at least not in 2011, if ever), and serves as a introduction to ‘Seeker’ specifically, with a few hints of things to come in book two (the title of which will not be announced until near the end of 2011, for reasons which will become clear to those who read ‘Seeker’). And, as a taster, here’s a small excerpt from ‘Serere, A Prelude’…

Isobel Shelley waited, as she promised she would, but it was getting dark and the rain had started to fall. Not that either thing bothered her personally, but it was terribly inconvenient. She lifted her lantern, which she did not really need, of course, but appearances were important, and looked out to the northern carriage way. The Green was quiet, most people safely indoors, sheltered from the cold, but Isobel could not be sure she wasn’t being watched. Newington Green, home to the free-thinkers and dissidents, had history, and the people who tended to gravitate to this place knew better than to take things for granted. Probably one of the many reasons she loved living on the Green.

The sound of hoof beats crunching gravel drifted over to her, and she focused on the approaching shape. A gig pulled by a single horse, two people jostling about in the carriage as the wooden wheels managed to find every ditch and trough in the path. Both figures were dressed in the finest cloth, one looking down, his head bobbling about as if he were asleep, but the second, holding the reins in his hands, was looking firmly ahead, mindful of the mood of the horse. The gig slowed, and stopped right next to Isobel. She smiled, finally able to see the countenance of the young driver.

Young and as radiant as ever, Hareton Wesley smiled down at Isobel, and tipped his bicorn hat. “Miss Shelley, you are still a diamond of the first water, I see. A pleasure indeed.”

Isobel curtsied slightly, with a smile of her own. It had been some time since she had seen anything of Hareton, and was not displeased to see him once more. “Young Master Wesley, an’ you and the gentleman like to follow me?”

The gentleman in question looked up, clearly not asleep. An austere looking man of some fifty years (which certainly meant he was older), he raised an eyebrow at Isobel and edged his lip in the form of a very slight smile, which looked somewhat strange on such a Friday-faced man. Hareton looked at him, no doubt awaiting instruction, and the gentleman nodded. “As Miss Shelley says, so shall it be,” the gentleman said, in an accent that sounded almost German, although it had a cadence that Isobel could not quite place. She was not particularly well travelled, but accents did not usually stump her so. “Do lead on, dear lady.”

“As you wish,” Isobel said and tuned away, lantern still held aloft, and led the way across the Green.

 

Next up, although announced elsewhere, I can finally announce it to all those who read this blog; at the end of 2010, after much hard work and much discussion, Untreed Reads Publishing have secured a licence to produce original eBooks based on Frank Chadwick’s Space 1889. This steampunk series will consist of two novels which bookend four novellas, written by well-known genre authors. I am the series Commissioning Editor and Creative Consultant, which means I’m responsible for putting the whole thing together. Quite a task it’s proving to be at the moment, but amazingly good fun, too. Further information will be released over the forthcoming months, including a definite launch date.

Due to the busyness of me, this does have a knock-on effect on Legacy which was being released at one book a month. So far three volumes are available, and can be purchased here, with all proceeds going to Cancer Research UK. Volume 2.2 will be delayed a little while, but as soon as I have time in my schedule I shall get on to it. Once again, I will keep you updated on developments there.

Legacy 1.1: Requiem

It’s here!

I am very pleased to announce that volume 1.1 of Legacy is now officially available in print. Requiem collects the first half of season one stories, from The Catalyst right through to The Flames of Chambrook. That’s 188 pages of Doctor Who action!

Followers of this blog will be familiar with a few of the stories, as I’ve run them on here recently. However, as an incentive for buying the print edition, it includes two stories not published on this blog. First up we Greg Miller’s The Ugly Bug Ball, a story which originally saw ePublication in 2006, and secondly we have The Flames of Chambrook from the imagination of A. R. Montacruz. This story is an exclusive to Requiem – although originally written in 2006, it never got finished in time and has thus never been seen nor read by anyone other than the editors.

Requiem is being published by Frankallen Books, and distributed by Lulu. It costs £5.25; but for the first week only it’s going for £4.99! As a labour of love, the contributors do not make a penny from the publication of this book, and all royalties go directly to Cancer Research. So, in effect, not only are you buying a series of interesting stories, but you’re also helping those suffering from cancer.

Edited by Andy Frankham-Allen, Greg Miller and Elizabeth Medeiros, Requiem features stories by Andy Frankham-Allen, Christoph Lopez, Niall Turner, Greg Miller and A. R. Montacruz, with an exclusive foreword by Montacruz and a cover by Andrew Orton.

You can buy it directly from the Requiem page…

A small note; I shall be running more season one Legacy stories in the new year, as a lead in to volume 1.2…

Legacy #7; ’70s Cutaway

Previously on LEGACY - Three Night Engagement.

Not for the first time that afternoon, Doctor Langton found himself wondering about drugs. He’d already seen two of his regular methadone patients and had handed out the usual scripts.  The man sitting in front of him now wasn’t obviously asking for methadone or anything like it, yet his behaviour certainly mirrored that of someone experiencing a chemical come down.

‘You don’t understand,’ said the man for the umpteenth time.

Yes, thought Doctor Langton, he’s finally going to come right out and say it.

He leaned forward expectantly, fascinated to see that his patient did literally appear to be wringing his hands. A drop of sweat fell heavily onto the blotter pad on top of the desk.

‘I can’t go to sleep you see,’ continued the man.

Okay, so maybe he wasn’t going to bare all, at least this was getting somewhere.

The man fixed him with an unnervingly intense stare, now speaking slowly and deliberately. ‘You don’t have to look at me like that, I know what I’m doing, you know? Doctors…’ He laughed, a short, harsh sound. ‘This decade is so lame, I’m glad I missed it first time round…’ He stopped dead, aware of what he’d just said.

Scratch the drugs, thought Doctor Langton, definite mental health case. Or maybe both. And I’m in here alone with him. Fantastic.

The man sighed heavily, looking distractedly at one of the watercolours on the office wall. Doctor Langton took the opportunity to ease his chair back a few inches from the desk.

‘Look, forget that,’ said the man, noticing the movement.

‘It’s okay,’ began Doctor Langton, in what he hoped was a calm and reassuring tone.  ‘Can you tell me how long you’ve been having trouble getting to sleep?’

‘What?’ snapped the man fractiously.

‘You said you’d been having trouble sleeping.’

‘No, no, I don’t want to go to sleep.  Sleeping is the problem.’ He fixed Doctor Langton with an impassioned look. ‘I can’t sleep.  Not now. If I do, I’m as good as dead. You’ve got to help me!’

Doctor Langton cleared his throat, trying to think of an appropriate response.  None came immediately to mind, beyond notifying social services.

The man stood up abruptly, coming round the desk to lean over the doctor. Without meaning to, Doctor Langton also stood up, backing his chair noisily into the wall.

‘Oh, come on!’ His patient was looking at him petulantly, and his eyebrows rose archly. ‘You think I’m crazy, don’t you?’

Before Doctor Langton could respond, the young man appeared to slip rapidly back into quite floridly psychotic speech.

‘They’ve probably got the Doctor already. I’ve got to do something and I can’t afford to go to sleep. Do that and they’ve got me.’ He looked up abruptly. ‘You must have some kind of one-shot system stimulant?’

Doctor Langton could only shake his head by way of reply.  He wondered what age the man was. Early to mid twenties? It was a sad case. ‘I can see you’re under considerable stress,’ Doctor Langton heard himself say eventually.

‘Oh go on, say it,’ muttered the man in a dejected tone.

‘Say what?’ wondered the doctor.

‘I’m mad,’ said the man, running a hand through his black hair. ‘I am, you know.’ And he smiled, a little unnervingly. ‘If I understand it right, I go to sleep now and the whole of reality buys the farm. Me too, come to think of it,’ he finished a little disconsolately. ‘Oh well.’ He held out his hand, which Doctor Langton took a little uncertainly. ‘It’s been fun. Have a nice life.’ With that, he turned on his heel and was gone.

‘Yes, well…’ Doctor Langton continued to lean against the wall for a moment, regaining his composure.  Eventually he sat down and pressed the intercom on his desk. ‘Jean, could you come in here a minute?’

A few seconds later his secretary, Jean Brooker, entered the room, smiling enquiringly.

‘Is everything all right, Ian? We could hear raised voices in reception.’ She lowered her voice confidentially. ‘He left in ever such a hurry you know.’

‘That’ll be reality running out,’ said Ian Langton, nodding sagely to himself.

‘Oh.’ Jean looked flummoxed.

‘I’m sorry, Jean.’ He rubbed his eyes tiredly, aware he still had another six patients to see. ‘Chap was definitely a few cards short of a full deck.  I need to put a call through to social services before I see anyone else. What was his name again?’

‘DeMars,’ said Jean with a frown. ‘American I think. He didn’t give a first name.’

‘Okay, thanks, Jean.’

‘No problem.’

As he began to dial, Ian Langton smiled wryly to himself. He’d only agreed to see the chap as a favour; he wasn’t even on the books.  Ah well, no peace for the wicked.  He stared out into the reception area.

*

Unseen by Doctor Langton, Jean Brooker or the bored patients in reception, a needle limbed creature hung upside down from the reception’s wall mounted clock by its feet.  Button eyes stared as it mouthed a soundless ‘Tick’ then ‘Tock’ in an absurd call and response.  Swinging serenely to and fro, a malignant pendulum, it grinned a rictus grin.

*

Mooching dejectedly down the road Brad reflected that his doctor’s appointment could, on the whole, have gone better.  Trouble was he’d never particularly liked or trusted doctors, with the one honorary exception. So why he’d actually come up with such a stupid plan in the first place was a moot point. Desperation perhaps? Yep, he thought that pretty much covered it.  Those last minutes in the TARDIS had been pretty surreal. Well, more surreal than usual.

He’d been headed for the control room, intent on talking to the Doctor about Jacen. In fact, he’d got to the control room, he was sure of it. The Doctor had grinned a greeting, no, scratch that, they’d even started talking.

Then it had happened.

There was an ear-splitting shriek and buzzing globules of what looked like TV static had started spilling from the scanner. Operating controls frantically the Doctor had engaged ‘Emergency Materialisation’, stuffed a bag of unfamiliar notes and coins into Brad’s hands and literally bundled him out of the doors.

‘Construct bounty hunters,’ he’d said in a stage whisper, then raised a theatrical finger to his lips.

‘Construct what? Doc, what the hell’s happening here?’

‘Construct bounty hunters, they’re trying a time jump.’ He’d paused, looking up and down the unfamiliar street.  ‘I’ll try and put them off the scent.’ Then he had given Brad the ‘deadly serious look‘. It was so absurdly pretentious it couldn’t be anything but deadly serious.  ‘Whatever you do, don’t go to sleep.  Reality’s liable to break down without you and I’ve not got the leads for a jump-start.’

‘What?’

The Doctor just grinned his enormous half-moon grin.  ‘You’ll be magnificent, Bradley, I know you will!’ With that he was gone, the TARDIS vanishing with its familiar asthmatic trumpeting.  A final sentence seemed to hang on the air.  ‘I’ll be back!’

And that had been it.  Now, having spent nearly forty-eight hours in London, 1975, Brad had had enough.

Who were these bounty hunters? Would they be coming for him too?

Finding himself standing outside a newsagent, he rummaged in his pockets, stuffed with various denominations of legal currency. Plus, he noted forlornly, a TARDIS homing device. Much good it would do him.

Locating a crumpled one pound note he pushed open the shop door.

*

Inside it was dark, cool and blissfully quiet compared to the street outside.  Garish racks of confectionery jostled for space alongside newspapers, magazines and sundry household items.  Wondering vaguely how a packet of dusters might help him save reality, Brad’s gaze settled on the rows of chocolate bars with their various unlikely names.

‘You got ten pence mister?’ Looking down Brad saw an Afro-Caribbean kid in denim, all of six years old, staring hopefully up at him.

‘Hey you!’ growled a white haired old shopkeeper from the back of the store.  ‘I’ve warned you before. Hop it!’

‘Hey, it’s cool.’ Brad raised his hands in a placating gesture, found a coin and gave it to the boy.

‘You shouldn’t encourage ’em,’ the shopkeeper rumbled.

‘Hey, seeing as he’s going to spend it in your shop, I don’t see why you’re complaining,’ Brad said tartly.

‘Smartarse.’

‘Yeah, right, whatever,’ Brad muttered as the shopkeeper proceeded to serve the boy.

He grabbed himself a random handful of chocolate. Definitely needed the sugar. Coffee would be good, too. ‘Hey, do you sell…’ He tailed off.

The shopkeeper had the boy’s coin and was inserting it into some sort of indentation on top of the cash register. Weird looking cash register come to think of it.  A look passed between the boy and the man.

‘Definite match?’ the boy asked.

‘Definite.’ The shopkeeper nodded. ‘DNA strand’s unmistakeable.’

They both turned to face him, eyes glowing a luminescent green.

Brad dropped the chocolate.

How come it was he who got to walk into the only trapped alien newsagents in the whole damn world?

‘Hope you’re not thinking of going anywhere,’ said the shopkeeper, turning a weirdly glowing ball of energy in his hand.

‘Big price on your head, man,’ added the boy nonchalantly.

‘You’re Construct bounty hunters, right?’ Brad saw a grin pass between them.

‘Well,’ said the old guy, tossing the ball from hand to hand.  ‘We are. But the contract’s changed.’

Brad didn’t need to hear the rest. As the ball of light hurtled towards him he wrenched at the central rack of shelving. Stumbling backwards out of the door he saw the middle of the store was now a mess of items encased in a web of viscous light strands.  He ran.

*

Soon he was aware of shouting from behind him.  The old man and the boy were in pursuit. In the middle of the air, balanced like surfers on futuristic skateboards, zipping in and out of the traffic.  They were gaining fast.  Brad went to catch at the arm of a traffic warden, but his hand went straight through the warden.

‘Don’t know you’re there, man,’ mocked the boy.  ‘Playing by different rules now.’

Brad stared wildly from side to side. The boy swooped overhead, turning for an attack, another ball of energy to hand.  Brad ducked sharp left, into the stairwell of a multi-storey car park. The familiar smell of urine and rubbish hit him. Lifts or stairs, lifts or stairs? One of the lifts was opening.  Brad stared.

It was the Doctor.

‘Well, come on!’ his friend boomed.

Brad needed no further encouragement.

*

Inside the lift he turned to the Doctor and stared again.  He was in the console room. The Doctor grinned triumphantly.

‘Yes, the chameleon circuit’s operational!’ He nodded to himself. ‘I would have done it sooner but necessity often proves the mother of invention.’ He grabbed Brad by both hands. ‘It’s good to see you, Bradley!’

‘You too, Doc, you too.  Now can you please tell me what’s going on?’

The Doctor beamed, plucking the homing device from his jacket pocket. ‘A small matter of splitting our resources. I had to throw the Construct off the scent, so I dropped you off and –’

‘You did what?’

‘I dropped you off and –’

‘You were using me as a decoy!’

The Doctor nodded, eyes gleaming. ‘If you like, yes. And a very good one too! Well done, Bradley!’

Brad sighed. ‘Great.’ He noticed the central column was moving. They were in flight again. ‘So what are the Construct again?’

The Doctor waved a hand. ‘Oh, creatures of pure causality.  With the causal nexus unravelling, and me being at the centre of it, those that watch such things have doubtless declared open season on us. The two you just met are Bartholomew and Anotyne.  Very dubious company.’

‘It just gets better,’ said Brad.

‘Yes, yes.’ The Doctor grinned in delight.  ‘It’s wonderful to feel wanted, isn’t it?’

‘No,’ said Brad pointedly.

The Doctor gaped. ‘I’m sure you can’t mean that. Oh, that’s interesting.’

‘What is?’

‘We’ve arrived somewhere else already.’ The Doctor operated the scanner. They were on top of a multi storey car park. In 1975 judging by the two figures hovering a good ten feet above the roof.

‘Tranquillisers,’ said Brad.  ‘I should have asked that guy for tranquillisers.’

‘Bradley, be a star and distract them would you?’ the Doctor asked. He was staring thoughtfully at the central column. ‘If they’re operating a linear inductor the only option’s to bypass it with a randomiser.’ He met Brad’s gaze. ‘It’ll take a minute. It won’t take them too long to get in here and I hate interruptions when I’m working.’

‘Right,’ said Brad.  ‘I’ll go and do the distracting thing.’

*

He found himself getting out of the passenger seat of a chrome blue Land Rover. This chameleon thing seemed to be working.  Turning he saw the bounty hunters hovering over the far wall of the car park. Brad backed around the Land Rover and looked over the rim of the wall. At least a hundred and fifty feet down. The boy was approaching at alarming speed, a shimmering ball of energy crackling in his hand.

‘Hey, so who are you?’ called Brad weakly.  ‘Bartholomew or Anotyne?’

A grin was all he got by way of reply. The skateboard sped closer. Heart pounding Brad took a step forward. The boy brought his arm up, bowling underarm.  Brad grabbed for him.

Confusion.

Brad fell heavily, very heavily, at first he thought the kid was on top of him but it was the skateboard thing.  It was incredibly heavy for something so small, an absolute deadweight.  Struggling up Brad saw the boy prone against the wall.  The light ball had exploded around him. A tracery of luminescent lines seemed to be eating in to him.

With an electrical fizz, boy and light disappeared.

‘You got Anotyne! You’ll pay for that!’ The old guy was incredulous.

So was Brad to be honest, but his shoulder and side were aching too much to think clearly.  Now white hair was coming for him.  The driver’s side door was opening.  The Doctor leaned out.

‘Bradley, strap yourself in!’

Brad stumbled to the passenger door.  Buckling himself in, his stomach lurched as the Doctor performed what felt like a three hundred and sixty degree turn. Bartholomew was very close now; Brad could see him in the wing mirror.

‘Time for the unstoppable force to meet the immovable object!’ announced the Doctor. And drove straight for Bartholomew.  Head on.  At the last minute Bartholomew seemed to realise the Doctor was serious and tried to swerve.  It was too late.  There was a clang of impact from the roof and the bounty hunter went sailing over the edge of the car park, complete with skateboard. There was an unnatural silence.  Brad shook his head.  He wasn’t sure if he felt like crying or laughing. The Doctor placed a hand on his shoulder.

‘What the hell is happening?’ said Brad.  ‘Did we kill them?’

The Doctor shook his head. ‘Not a chance. They’ll have reverted to causal particles. They were over confident, that’s all.  We were lucky.’

‘Right.’ Brad became aware he was sitting in the front of a Land Rover. ‘Hey, the TARDIS?’

‘Emergency reconfiguration,’ said the Doctor simply. ‘Inserting a randomiser is a devil of a job, Bradley. We need to lie low for a while, let the temporal trail go cold.’ Gunning the engine he headed for the exit ramp and the next level. ‘So,’ he said, his eyes sad and his smile serious.  ‘Tell me about Jacen.’

Brad looked down, noticing a newspaper in the well by his feet. He picked it up and looked it over; apparently something called UNIT was due to make a world shattering announcement tomorrow.

‘Bradley?’

Brad squirmed in his seat.  Before the Doctor had chucked him out to be decoy, Brad was all for telling the Doctor about Jacen; he even had a plan of how to save his friend. But now… He sighed.  The Doctor wouldn’t let this one go, he had that look on his bearded face.

‘Okay,’ Brad said, and began talking.

*

Brad talked and the Doctor listened.  As he talked, he felt a weight lift from his mind. Nothing changed but he felt easier just for having talked it through out loud.

A good two hours later they were parked high above the suburbs to the south west of the city.  The Thames sprawled lazily far below them.

‘You know, it’s weird,’ said Brad, ‘I can’t even remember the sound of his voice, y’know, what he was like. That’s got to be wrong.’

The Doctor seemed to smile at a private memory.

Brad sighed.  ‘You can’t take me back can you?’

The Doctor shook his head.  ‘I might be able to take you back in the normal course of things but I still couldn’t change what happened.’

It was Brad’s turn to shake his head. ‘But look what’s happening to you.  I mean, if that isn’t someone messing around with time…’

The Doctor laughed a short, uncharacteristically mirthless sound. Brad looked closely at his face in profile. There were anger and passion and questions there to match his own.

The Doctor continued to stare ahead, into the dying evening.

Neither of them spoke again for a long time…

To find out what happens next, look out for the soon-to-released collected stories of LEGACY season one, volume one, Requiem. It will be published by Japaf Publishing and distributed by Lulu Distributions. As ever, LEGACY is a non-profit series and the cost of the book covers printing and postage only – the contributors do not make a single penny from it. As an incentive for buying it, though, there will be two exclusive stories to volume one; The Ugly Bug Ball by Greg Miller (previously only available in the limited 2006 e-anthology, The Other Side of Reality), and The Flames of Chambrook by A. R. Montacruz – a never before released season one story!

Edited by Andy Frankham-Allen, Greg Miller & Elizabeth Medeiros.
Cover & Artwork © 2010 by Ewen Campion-Clarke.
'70s Cutaway © 2001, 2010 by Niall Turner,
Legacy © & ™ 2001, 2010 by Andy Frankham-Allen. 
Doctor Who © & ™ 1963, 2010 by BBC Worldwide. All Rights Reserved.

 

The online LEGACY adventures will resume New Year’s Day 2011 with The Millennium People, which follows on from the events of Requiem. But until then I shall be running a new weekly serialised novel, exclusive to this blog, called Vampire Knights. The novel will be an experiment, modelled on the early days of LEGACY. It will be written week-by-week with no absolute direction to follow. The story will grow organically, and along the way will feature guest authors – some of whom will be known, others will be fresh new talent.

 

Legacy #6: Three Night Engagement

Previously on LEGACY - Once Upon a Memory

‘Look at me

I opened a door I cannot close

I feel strange winds

Walk into here, open your door.

This is an introduction…’

 

Another night offered Brad a chance. ‘Philosopher’s Stone (or Lapis Philosophorum)’ was about to set up for their first night’s performance at Dante’s.  Formerly a Mongolian grill, Dante’s was a very small bar and musical venue. A plain bar counter, a stage raised about two meters, and about a dozen tables comprised the establishment.

The group was just about getting their drink on. Jacen was a whiskey sour man, Tobias a White Russian swiller. Brad didn’t sit well with hard liquor since he was in fact a dark beer and cannabis aficionado. Jessene, the sessioning violinist, didn’t show.

‘Guess what, man?’ Jacen chirped suddenly over the subdued din of the early bar crowd.

‘What?’ groaned Brad who was pretending to be dim for the moment.

‘I’m a whale!’ Jacen sprayed a mouthful of whiskey all over the table through his pursed lips.

Tobias slugged him forthwith in the bicep.

‘You want me to smack you in the ass, man?’ Jacen leered.

‘Oh, you wish!’

‘Yeah, well screw you, people. Jessene ain’t here and we’re going to have to do an improv show. Bitch’s probably tweaking anyway.’

Bradley was on fire and he didn’t care one whit.  This was it.  He swallowed the last of his beer and cruised over to the bar to check the time.

*

The flimsy curtain parted. With much gravitas stood Jacen with bass strapped on.

‘It’s so nice to see so many faces.  Good evening,’ he drawled, resplendent in his pressed business suit and neatly coiffured platinum blonde hair. His handsome features creased into a scowl behind the microphone as he began.

‘One thing I have to ask. Is it loud enough for you?’ The question was asked as a shrieking exclamation delivered in his baritone voice.

Thus commenced ‘Philosopher’s Stone’s’ first night at Dante’s. The set began with the stage being bathed in a lunar blue light which seemed to cool the feverish and smoke filled club.  Jacen began with a droning yet staccato series of electronically processed chords.  Then he began a simple Latin chant.

Ignit natura renovatur integra.’

Brad initialised a short series of pre-programmed samples as he also began an improvised synth fugue.  Tobias did his part in the proceedings by commencing a shamanic drum beat interspersed by a mighty gong strike.  Later, he would try out his set of Tibetan singing bowls.

Tobias was rude and often painfully surly in his interpersonal dealings.  On stage, his peculiar brand of magic was expressed in his percussion. Brad and Jacen, however, manifested total sublimity – something that pleased Brad no end.

Look at me.

I opened a door I cannot close.

I feel strange winds. The path I chose

This, but an introduction, no more.

Walk into here, open your door.

This is an introduction…

 

Brad sang one of his own songs that first night as well.

What dream has come

Where time has gone?

Stunned, unsummoned and still

Again, I tried to lift up my eyes

And not shield them from the sun,

Again…

*

A fetching and somewhat muscular young woman in an overly decorated bomber jacket turned to speak to her companion.

‘Professor!’ She had to shout over Dante’s PA system as the band played through a delirious second night. ‘Can I get a drink?’

‘Ace, I didn’t procure your ID so you could “catch a buzz”, or whatever you’d call it! Keep a clear head, please.’

Ace glowered at the Doctor.  A thought came unbidden to her of chucking a bar ashtray at him.  It would serve him right just to knock his silly hat off his head.  The Doctor had been so maudlin recently, ever since giving that little bit of life force away to his past self.

‘What are we looking out for, anyway?’ she asked. ‘I thought we were tracking the Master.’  She looked around at the dancing crowd.  ‘I don’t think this is his scene, Professor,’ she pointed out with a smirk.

The Doctor passed Ace a napkin with something scribbled on it.  Two names stood out in the message, whatever it had been.

Brad DeMars and Jacen J. Lewis.

‘What’s this, then?’

‘I’ve no idea. I found it a few hours ago before we got on that Tri-Met bus. It’s coated in temporal residue.’

‘But who are they?’ Ace had to shout again over the chorus of electronic damnation. The Doctor simply pointed at the stage in reply to Ace’s question.  The one with the dark hair caught Ace’s eye. A corner of her mouth twitched into a half-smile. That familiar feeling went through her body again. He was cute. It had been such a long time since she…

‘Can we meet them later, Professor? After the show maybe?’

‘That’s what the intention is.  Not that I really enjoy this sort of music, Ace.’ The Doctor’s tone was that of one discussing a particularly messy surgery. ‘It reminds of me a Ninhana symphony orchestra.  It’s like an incompetent dentist attacking a cavity with a rusty nail,’ he added while gritting his teeth.

*

The ambulance arrived at half past two in the morning. The stressed out bar staff had been looking forward to going home for drinks and bed.  But Jacen had ‘collapsed’ while descending the stage steps.

‘I just tripped, man!’ Jacen screamed at a paramedic.  ‘No! I don’t have any damned insurance! Let me be!’

*

In the narrow alley behind Dante’s, a pool of turgid shadows formed in defiance of the nearby streetlight’s attempt to stand sentry against such things.

‘Tock tock tick,’ said one Dommervoy to its featureless mates.  In unison they softly clapped their stiff semblances of hands together and disappeared back into that portable umbra of theirs.  A solitary thread of violet tinged blackness congealed into the receding anomaly.

A homeless man, who happened to be crouching behind the dumpster, simultaneously went blind.

*

‘What the hell was that?’

The Doctor narrowed his grey eyes, and stepped gingerly into the alley, holding a hand out before him. ‘Temporal disturbance of some kind.’

‘And those puppet things?’ Ace asked.

‘I’m not sure,’ the Doctor growled, pulling his hand back sharply, as if stung. He sucked his fingers, and said around them; ‘thhs pase ss ahive wff tempul ennery.’

‘Come again, Professor?’

The Doctor removed his fingers. ‘This place is alive with temporal energy. Those things must feed off it.’

‘Are they following the Master, too, then?’

‘I have no idea, Ace! Will you stop asking all these questions!’

Ace stepped back in shock. She hadn’t heard him sound so angry since the army barracks in 1941. ‘Sorry!’ she snapped back, and noticed the homeless man stumble from behind the dumpster at the other end of the alley. She pushed past the Doctor. ‘I’m going to help that poor sod over there,’ she said and made her way to the blind tramp.

The Doctor watched her, and raised the handle of his umbrella to his lips. ‘Bradley DeMars, he’s at the epicentre. We musn’t get too close to him again.’ He turned from the alley and called back. ‘Come on, Ace, we need to find the Master another way.’

*

‘I can’t believe this… sea-change,’ groaned Jacen, sprawled on his studio day-bed.

His head had been shaved by the neurosurgeon’s nurse. He wore an eye patch since he’d lost muscular control over his left eye. During the past four months, he had suffered from several more seizures. An MRI scan revealed that a tumour the size of a golf ball was resting on his brain. Subsequently, Jacen endured radiation therapy and ultimately surgery to excise most of the growth.

Brad’s mouth was painfully dry.  He had to say what was on his mind.

‘I just want you to know that I love you. You’ve been my greatest friend and collaborator.’ A bead of sweat trickled behind his ear as he spoke.

‘I know, Bradley Boy. I know. Sorry I can’t return it. Shit, I had enough of a time dealing with Jessene before she went to rehab.  God! You need to give it up.  I hate to see you so frustrated and pissed all the time, man.’

They locked eyes and Brad took Jacen’s weak hand in his own.

Brad knew exactly what Jacen was referring to. The love he held for Jacen was so much more than platonic, sometimes it hurt, and sometimes it lifted him above the clouds.  But most of the time it just hurt ‘cause Brad knew that he could never have Jacen, but at the same time he didn’t want anybody else, either… it was a tough path Brad walked down.

‘It’ll be all right. You’ll be back to your old self soon. Look…’ Brad stopped speaking and took a deep breath in a concerted effort to slow his heart down a little. ‘I have to go before I break down again.’

His chest began to heave as the tears came.  Jacen tousled his hair and rested his good hand on Brad’s shoulder and said; ‘Remember, Requiem; Ignit natura renovatur integra.  The whole of nature is regenerated by fire.’

*

Almost two months later, in the TARDIS, Brad opened his eyes.  Regenerated? Yes! He had it…

*

The Doctor looked up from the console just as the inner door flew open and Brad entered the console room. He couldn’t help but notice that Brad had been crying.

‘Doc, I need your help. I have an idea about how to save Jacen.’

The Doctor was, not for the first time today, quite puzzled.  ‘Jacen? And just who is Jacen, Bradley?’

Next Time

‘You think I’m crazy, don’t you?’

Before Doctor Langton could respond, the young man appeared to slip rapidly back into quite floridly psychotic speech.

‘They’ve probably got the Doctor already. I’ve got to do something and I can’t afford to go to sleep. Do that and they’ve got me.’ He looked up abruptly. ‘You must have some kind of one-shot system stimulant?’

Doctor Langton could only shake his head by way of reply.  He wondered what age the man was. Early to mid twenties? It was a sad case. ‘I can see you’re under considerable stress,’ Doctor Langton heard himself say eventually.

‘Oh go on, say it,’ muttered the man in a dejected tone.

‘Say what?’ wondered the doctor.

‘I’m mad,’ said the man, running a hand through his black hair. ‘I am, you know.’ And he smiled, a little unnervingly. ‘If I understand it right, I go to sleep now and the whole of reality buys the farm. Me too, come to think of it,’ he finished a little disconsolately. ‘Oh well.’ He held out his hand, which Doctor Langton took a little uncertainly. ‘It’s been fun. Have a nice life.’ With that, he turned on his heel and was gone.

‘Yes, well…’ Doctor Langton continued to lean against the wall for a moment, regaining his composure.  Eventually he sat down and pressed the intercom on his desk. ‘Jean, could you come in here a minute?’

A few seconds later his secretary, Jean Brooker, entered the room, smiling enquiringly.

‘Is everything all right, Ian? We could hear raised voices in reception.’ She lowered her voice confidentially. ‘He left in ever such a hurry you know.’

‘That’ll be reality running out,’ said Ian Langton, nodding sagely to himself.

‘Oh.’ Jean looked flummoxed.

‘I’m sorry, Jean.’ He rubbed his eyes tiredly, aware he still had another six patients to see. ‘Chap was definitely a few cards short of a full deck.  I need to put a call through to social services before I see anyone else. What was his name again?’

‘DeMars,’ said Jean with a frown. ‘American I think. He didn’t give a first name.’

‘Okay, thanks, Jean.’

‘No problem.’

As he began to dial, Ian Langton smiled wryly to himself. He’d only agreed to see the chap as a favour; he wasn’t even on the books.  Ah well, no peace for the wicked.  He stared out into the reception area.

*

Unseen by Doctor Langton, Jean Brooker or the bored patients in reception, a needle limbed creature hung upside down from the reception’s wall mounted clock by its feet.  Button eyes stared as it mouthed a soundless ‘Tick’ then ‘Tock’ in an absurd call and response.  Swinging serenely to and fro, a malignant pendulum, it grinned a rictus grin.

To Be Continued… Sat 6th November

Edited by Andy Frankham-Allen, Greg Miller & Elizabeth Medeiros.
Cover © 2010 by Ewen Campion-Clarke.
Three Night Engagement © 2001, 2010 by Christoph Lopez,
Legacy © & ™ 2001, 2010 by Andy Frankham-Allen. 
Doctor Who © & ™ 1963, 2010 by BBC Worldwide. All Rights Reserved.

 

Legacy#5; Once Upon A Memory

Previously on Legacy; Reality Bomb

The haunting melody echoed throughout the corridors of the time ship.

*

In the console room the Doctor sat to one side of the console, the steady hum of the TARDIS engines keeping a continuous rhythm with the steady rise and fall of the time rotor. He was sitting in his shirt sleeves, legs crossed, a deck of cards laid out in a tableau before him. He was playing Accordion Solitaire and making good time with it, pondering the oddness of his recent trip to Ossobos.  He still couldn’t work out why he had taken Brad there, but he was sure it was something a little more important than to sample the local amenities. The music wafting through the room, however, continued to distract him from both his cogitations and his game.

Music was not a common occurrence in the TARDIS, and certainly not something she tended to play through the communication circuits, but then his ship had been acting oddly in many ways recently. Not unlike the universe itself, come to think of it.

Still, he had to admit, it was a lovely tune.  Made him feel all thoughtful and relaxed inside. Mellow. Reminding him of times past, and friends lost.

He got up and walked over to the console. ‘Well, old girl, where did you get this tune from?’

In answer the scanner screen activated. It was an internal image that showed Brad in his room, sitting on the bed, wearing the kilt he’d become so found of, playing his keyboard.

The Doctor smiled.  ‘Ah, Bradley.’

He left the scanner on, and turned up the volume, then returned to his card game, mindful of his own thoughts.

*

Brad closed his eyes, and let the music surge through him.  It was like a journey through time, the melody carrying him right back to the day he and Jacen had first composed the tune.

… Brad finishes playing the overture, and looks up at Jacen, who is sitting opposite. ‘What do you think?’

Jacen opens his eyes and nods. ‘Sweet, man, yeah.’ He takes a puff of the joint.  ‘What you calling it?’

‘Not sure yet, but I was kind of thinking Requiem. There’s something haunting about it.’

‘The repose of the souls of the dead.’

‘Dude, that’s pretty sound.  Where did you get that?’

‘Catholic upbringing, man. A requiem is a mass for the repose of the souls of the dead.’

Brad nods knowingly, not that he has ever been a church goer.  ‘That’s perfect,’ he says, accepting the joint off Jacen and taking a deep drag of it.

Jacen reaches down and picks up the bass guitar. ‘Play it again, man.’

Brad does so.  And while he does, he never once takes his eyes off Jacen.

Jacen closes his eyes and starts swaying his head to the tune.  He strums the bass then lets the music take over.  Within moments they are both playing in unison.  As the key changes they both adapt, taking the tune to the next level. They do not need words, nor do they need eye contact.  Making music together is a deeply spiritual thing for both of them.

For Jacen it is a sign of total unity of friendship, but for Brad it is a time of intense love. He knows that he can never have Jacen, so the union through making music is the nearest thing he ever gets to truly being one with Jacen, and Brad knows it will have to be enough.

With his eyes closed Brad continued to play, remembering the good times.

*

The card game was forgotten by the Doctor who now sat there with his eyes closed.  He was remembering something important, only he didn’t know where it’d had come from.

… ‘This ends now.’

The small man steps out of the trees, and approaches the scene.  One soldier lays in the grass, unconscious, a second stands nearby, pistol pointing at a man who is kneeling by the unconscious body of a fourth man.

The Doctor recognises this lanky man; it his him, in his third body, a scar on his head from where the soldier’s bullet had grazed his skull.  There is much blood over his chest, spreading across the useless hospital gown. He doesn’t think the soldier did that; rather it was the man kneeling next to him, holding the rifle. There is something distinctly familiar about that man.  Not his form, for the Doctor is certain he has never seen the man before. Time Lords have a way of recognising each other no matter the incarnation, and this one is known to him.

His old friend Koschei.  Only he seems so dark now; eyes as yellow as a cat’s, sharp canines dripping with blood. What had happened to him since the Doctor last saw him?

Koschei looks up; hatred for the Doctor dripping from his pores.  ‘No,’ he growls, ‘it ends when I say so. I told you, Doctor, I now have the power to kill you.’

‘You think you control that power?’ the Doctor’s diminutive future self asks.  ‘No, that power has you. You’re becoming an animal.’

Koschei licks the blood off his teeth, and smiles.  ‘Yes, an animal that has killed you,’ he says.

The Doctor’s eyes snapped open.

Things were becoming clear now. That version of Koschei was from his future, the same future that had brought the other Doctor to him. But why? What had happened to twist Koschei in such a way that he’d travel back along his own time stream to kill the Doctor?

Koschei had always been a slightly off-kilter character, never quite playing with a full deck, the Doctor thought to himself ruefully, glancing at the cards on the floor.  Even his nickname, Koschei, was a hint to his less than noble principles.  Koschei was a man from Slavic mythology, often called Koschei the Deathless, an evil person who menaced young women.  It was the name his classmates had chosen for him during the early days of the Academy, and he’d happily taken it on as his real name after graduating, a final insult to his noble family who represented everything Koschei hated about Gallifreyan society.  Although the Doctor had agreed with much of what Koschei said, he at least held to some of the strictures of Gallifreyan law. Throughout their time at the Academy they became fast friends, drawn to each other by their inherently rebellious natures.

Until the war planet.

It was his reunion with Koschei there that precipitated the events leading to the Doctor’s forced second regeneration and exile by the Time Lords. Koschei had allied himself with an alien race intent on creating the strongest army ever, by kidnapping people from various Earth wars, watching them fight until only the strongest survived. Koschei had been the alien’s war chief, giving them time travel technology so they could kidnap and brainwash the humans. It was a despicable plan, one the Doctor had to stop, even if it meant betraying Koschei in the process. The last the Doctor had heard, Koschei had been gunned down by the aliens, presumably dead. But no, it seemed he had regenerated and escaped. Surely that was not enough to bring this thirst for the Doctor’s death? He felt sure that somehow this other Doctor was several regenerations ahead; so much time had passed. But how much time? Did it matter?

The Doctor needed to know.

The Doctor let himself relax and sink into the music.  His future had touched his present, and somewhere in his memories was the information he needed.

*

He was no longer aware of his hands moving across the keys.  It was pure instinct.  The music continued, and Brad found himself standing beside Jacen’s grave.

… The wind blows his hair into his eyes as he stands there all alone.  The sexton has just left, having covered the hole with dirt and mud.  Brad shakes his head, at his own inability to face the facts.  Hole, indeed.  Why he could he not just admit it? It was not a hole it was a –

He looks up, hearing the music. Requiem, the final piece played by the band, and the one tune Brad had so wanted to play while they lowered Jacen Lewis into the ground.

It is a sad touch of irony, that they had composed such a moving tune only a week before their last gig, just before Jacen’s ‘accident’.

Again Brad scolds himself.  Such pointless words; hole and accident.  In his mind he can hear Jacen singing the last words of Requiem, like it is some kind of coda of his own life.

We all choose our time to go.

And none went as well as I,

Eternity open up for me.

He kneels down and places a hand on the dirt. A tear lands, muddying the dirt between his fingers, and he squeezes his eyes shut.  ‘Goodbye, Boo,’ he says, using his private name for Jacen, a name that even Jacen never knew.

He swallows hard, stands and turns away from Jacen one final time.  He takes his first step on the long journey to his destiny…

A month later and once again a single tear fell from Brad’s eye, this time hitting the ersatz-ivory key between his fingers.

*

The Doctor opened his eyes as soon as the music ceased. He frowned.

The little insight gave him some clues.  The future Doctor had saved him, stopped the future Koschei from killing him. It had brought on regeneration, but he had lived nonetheless.  His future had wanted something of him, but the what still escaped him.  The Doctor shook his head; it didn’t matter now.  All he knew for sure was that he had to find that dark twisted future version of his old friend.

He got up and walked over to the console.  Since the TARDIS seemed to like that tune so much the chances were that she had made a copy of it. The Doctor accessed the TARDIS’s memory and sure enough there it was.

He put the tune back on and closed his eyes.  He would find his old friend somehow.

Next Time…


In the narrow alley behind Dante’s, a pool of turgid shadows formed in defiance of the nearby streetlight’s attempt to stand sentry against such things.

‘Tock tock tick,’ said one Dommervoy to its featureless mates.  In unison they softly clapped their stiff semblances of hands together and disappeared back into that portable umbra of theirs.  A solitary thread of violet tinged blackness congealed into the receding anomaly.

A homeless man, who happened to be crouching behind the dumpster, simultaneously went blind.

*

‘What the hell was that?’

The Doctor narrowed his grey eyes, and stepped gingerly into the alley, holding a hand out before him. ‘Temporal disturbance of some kind.’

‘And those puppet things?’ Ace asked.

‘I’m not sure,’ the Doctor growled, pulling his hand back sharply, as if stung. He sucked his fingers, and said around them; ‘thhs pase ss ahive wff tempul ennery.’

‘Come again, Professor?’

The Doctor removed his fingers. ‘This place is alive with temporal energy. Those things must feed off it.’

‘Are they following the Master, too, then?’

To Be Continued… Saturday 30th October

 

Edited by Andy Frankham-Allen, Greg Miller & Elizabeth Medeiros.
Cover © 2010 by Ewen Campion-Clarke.
Once Upon A Memory © 2001, 2010 by Andy Frankham-Allen,
Legacy © & ™ 2001, 2010 by Andy Frankham-Allen. 
Doctor Who © & ™ 1963, 2010 by BBC Worldwide. All Rights Reserved.