The Buccaneer Chronicles:

Dreaming on the Spires of Immortality

By Andy Simpkins (despite interference by Keith Dunn, Karen Dunn, Adam J Purcell and Tony Gallichan)

Chapter Eight

“Today is different. Today is not the same...”

It was true. The body lying on the slab was that of a swarthy man in his early forties, with dark wavy hair and a heavy stubble on his chin and not the slim blonde man in his twenties who was viciously assaulted out in the streets. The only thing they both had in common was the fact that they were both deeply unconscious and, despite stimulants being administered by the grumbling Dask, the victim could not be roused.

Macfadyan stood there, looking at the supine body with a hand on his chin, pensively stroking his beard and with his face set in a look of deep concentration.

"I just don't understand it. All the records say that this is the man who was brought in last night and yet he looks nothing like the man who was assaulted."

"You can check with the proctor captains if you so wish." said Taarl."They would swear under oath that this was the same person that was brought in last night."

"There is nothing more that either myself or Dask can offer. This is the man who was brought in last night and we cannot help it of there is a ....divergence of opinion...." he continued.

Grating his teeth and whirling around and stomping out of the morgue, coat-tails flapping and his face set in a rictus grimace, Macfadyan stormed his way back out into the mist-shrouded streets and their secretive and furtive occupants. Instinctively cowering and moving out of the way of this blond-haired, bearded avenging angel-like figure, his face set in a scowl, the occupants could only wonder who this determined stranger was in their midst...

Macfadyan fumed silently on the walk back to their quarters. His mind ablaze with indignation, anger and a desire to pull this place apart to see what it was.

All too soon, he was back and he slapped his hand on the door annunciator.

Upon hearing the door open, Cre'at hovered up off of the couch where he was resting until he was at head height with Macfadyan.

+ We are gladdened at your return. The young female was growing ever more agitated at the time you have been away and is currently displaying signs of a malady for which I do not have an explanation. Perhaps if you would care to have a look at...+

"Can it, Cre'at! I'm not in the mood today!" barked Macfadyan

The Sot'm simply said nothing and merely hovered away to one side while Macfadyan stalked the floor like a caged tiger.

Turning around and jabbing an angry finger in the direction of Taarl and Dask, he demanded:

"Something simply does not add up. We all saw what the man looked like and you both stand there swearing blind that this is the man when he looks nothing like him!" shouted Macfadyan

His tirade could have continued indefinitely if it hadn't been for Blanche groaning out loud, clamping a hand over her mouth whilst loudly declaring that she was going to be sick.

Hastening to her side, Macfadyan crouched down beside he as she lay on the couch. Placing a hand on her forehead, her skin felt cold and clammy to the touch. With a look of concern on his face, Macfadyan gently said:

"What is it that ails you Blanche? We have all been feeling uneasy since we arrived here and you have felt this more than any of us. What is wrong?"

"I dunno, Bucky. Ever since we landed 'ere, I 'ave been feelin' uneasy. I put it to the back of my mind and managed to cope for the most part. It all came to a head last night when I got up to go for a jimmy. While I was sitting there, it was like a massive, invisible ripple or wave rolled across this entire city, subtly changing and altering everything in its path. This is what I sensed or felt and I don't feel bleedin' right 'cos of it...."

Upon hearing this, Taarl and Dask looked at each other with an alarmed look on their face, which was then quickly suppressed.

Glancing up briefly, Macfadyan was privy to the silent exchange between the two council elders and was determined to find out more.

"This whole bloody place looks the same but it feels different somehow....." her voice trailed off as she slumped back down on the couch, clutching at her head.

"Oh don't worry, Blanche. I can understand fully what you mean..." muttered Macfadyan, casting a veiled glance in the direction of Taarl and Dask.

"Our friends here are nursing some sort of grubby little secret and I fully intend finding out what it is...."



Hefting a roll of heavy cables over his shoulder, Curtis, his t-shirt stained with perspiration, started to feed them down through a hole in the floor to a position some twenty feet below where Macfadyan was working. He had shed his coat and with the sleeves on his frilled shirt rolled up, was working in a space adjacent to the city's main power converters. Off in the distance, Cre'at was entering commands on a console as Blanche read instructions to him from a data pad she held in one hand.

A space, had been cleared some days prior, from old living quarters and covering an area of approximately a thousand cubic feet, to accommodate the equipment, circuitry and super-conducting capacitors, replicated from the TARDIS memory banks, that were needed to shore up the city's malfunctioning power converters.

Looking at them some days previously, Macfadyan could only wonder at some of the superfluousness and redundancy of the power grid for the city.'City' being the only term he could apply to this place. Their hosts, despite their apparent friendliness, were still very tight-lipped about what this place was, whether it was a city, a continent or an entire planet.

Putting these thoughts to one side for the moment, Macfadyan paused to consider what had been achieved over the past couple of weeks.

'The Great Machine" from a half-forgotten late 20th century science fiction television series were the words that sprang to mind when he and Cre'at, Curtis and Blanche had been shown the power source some days previously.

"What was it called? 'Nebuchadnezzar 4' or something like that?" he mused to himself.

In that fact, he was correct. Advanced as this society was, their source of deriving power was archaic at best. A huge cavern, ten miles on a side and subdivided into various sections, full of machinery barely pulsing with power, was all they could show. Macfadyan had equalled and surpassed that with machinery that could fit into a space a fraction of that size and yet could deliver power, multiplied many fold, whist supporting and tapping into the city's ageing power supply, to keep their city running for thousands of years, if they so wished. Should they wish to make changes or reregulate the new found power coursing through the city's veins, to coin a phrase, all they had to do was enter certain commands on the keyboard on the newly installed console in the council chambers....

"All that remains for me to do is to plug the two connectors together, run some final tests and debug the software and that's it! Our friends have an almost infinite source of power to keep this place running indefinitely..."

Grasping the two aforementioned connectors in each hand, he flourished them dramatically before pushing them together.

A muted hum greeted his ears and a brightening of the lighting around him was apparent as the new power system kicked in

Smiling inwardly at this feat of engineering, he picked up his sonic screwdriver to do some final adjustments and stow some cabling away. However, as is the wont with all DIY jobs, however big or small, a man or woman never has enough limbs to handle all the tasks necessary.

As a result, Macfadyan's sonic screwdriver fell out of his grasp and clattered on the metal grating several feet from where he was standing.

"Blast and confound that thing. It has been a valuable friend to me and yet it can be like a bunch of keys...useful and yet jabbing into places I care not to mention while in my pocket..."

While holding, seemingly casually, onto a set of cables that were designed to carry many tens of thousands of volts, he tried moving his left foot along in an attempt to kick the sonic screwdriver back to within his grasp but to no avail. Lying out of reach, Macfadyan could either let go of the cables and deprive areas of the city of power momentarily to pick up the screwdriver, or plug the leads together and reboot the city's power supply.

Faced with that dilemma, he hung there, suspended, until his reverie was shattered as a slim feminine hand with coffee coloured skin and finely manicured nails appeared in his field of vision, casually holding the sonic screwdriver in her palm as a firm yet seductive voice said beside him:

"I believe this is what you are after...."

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Chapter Nine