The Storyteller

Any Last Words?

It turned out poor Claude had secretly been a spy for Torchwood all along. And don't worry about the man hit by lightning: I exaggerated about his death. 9 out of 10 people survive a lightning strike and most of the blast hit the Tower anyway.

You might've noticed before how you contacted me via wireless telegraph which is not the same as a telephone. I should've noticed but sometimes I get my timelines all mixed up. That's nine hundred years of time-travelling for you in a nutshell. You get old.

Sometimes I just want to wipe my memory and start afresh and learn everything all over again. Read all Agatha Christie novels again. Now, there's a thought.

Let's go back in time a bit because in a short while that statement would've been irrelevant.

Claude brought you to the Père Lachaise cemetery which I mentioned in passing. Perhaps he thought he was bringing his secret colleagues something of value. Of course, they had been listening in on the situation for quite some time and recognised you immediately when you walked into the cemetery.

I've been there once before. Went there with... my aunt. I visited Jim Morrison's grave.

Are you sure it was your aunt?

Quite sure, why?

No reason. Now getting back to the story, and back into times when the singer hadn't even been born yet, the cemetery looked nothing like you remembered it. You probably thought it was supposed to look younger but fact is, you're not the first to underestimate the vastness of time, since the cemetery had been built there a hundred years previously.

You walked among the grey graves and tall tombs a stranger in a strange land and you suddenly remembered your decision not to put any real bullets into your pistol. It left you helpless but still you tried to look tough to the Frenchman, who was leading you straight into his trap.

Everything was smaller back then. Lots of empty graves and unplotted land left to fill with the future dead. And that's not even taking into account the two world wars yet to come.

"Oi!" you told Claude anxiously, terrified of being left alone among the graven statues. They seemed to watch you wherever you went. They seemed to ask you: why aren't you mourning?

What?

In a small courtyard of stone surrounded by the greenest of trees stood a man in a grey longcoat and a very thin moustache which could only have been grown on British soil.

Let's dispense with the names for the time being. He's unimportant. What is important is that instead of turning you into a hostage he asked you a simple question.

He was aware of the situation and when he spoke he kept turning his head in an amateurish fashion to see whether anyone was looking. And you thought they only did that in the movies.

Somewhere in the distance there were mourning widowers clad in black clinging to their grief atop the graves of their fallen idols.

"You look like you're lost, girl," the man in the longcoat asked. "Can I be of assistance?"

How very British indeed. And of course it tipped you off but by then it was already too late.

"We know who you are, Amelia Pond," he told you. "You fit the description."

They probably have files on us, going way back to Queen Victoria and the wherewolf in Scotland, even further back if they've done their research properly. They probably learned of our little encounter with the Saturnynians in Venice.

It's what they do apparantly. They keep a track record of all my dealings on Earth.

But they had no jurisdiction in Paris, especially not back then when the People were around. Maybe Italy has its own alien research department busy scavenging impossible technology fallen to Earth.

"What do you want from me?" you asked them.

They wanted Jack back. He had been recruited only six months earlier and had been snatched away under their very noses by the agents of the People. Betrayed. Having an immortal Time Agent in their possession meant having a serious advantage over the other nations of this world.

Foreknowledge changes everything. It changes the game.

And to think France and England were supposed to be allies.

The Torchwood agents spoke to you about the situation at hand and proposed to you a deal.

A very simple one. Your information in exchange for their resources.

You can't say knowing me doesn't have its benefits. But you have to be careful dealing with either of these organizations. When they bite they don't simply let go.

Jack found that out the hard way when he rematerialized right inside the headquarters of the People. Just when he thought he was free and out, for a single breath, he got one single digit wrong and he rematerializes in a flash in mid air right atop the general's model city.

He fell and crashed. Probably two hours earlier in the past as well. Just after I left. He got both time and space wrong. It was probably the temporal fluctations that messed with his vortex manipulator's ability to travel from point A to point B.

Timelines were crossing now that Jack had ventured into the past.

The model of the city buckled instantly and smashed to bits right in front of the poor man and the figure of the Eiffel Tower rolled against his feet.

No wonder he was so peeved when we spoke. Here's a man clinging to his principles for life. Probably hasn't set foot beyond that desk in ages before this happened. Never took it seriously until a man dropped from the sky and crashed his city.

"What happened to your squad?" the general asked and in between groans Jack told him about the pirates in the tunnels. There were pieces of wood sticking in his back, one of which was the Arc de Triomphe.

"They're coming," Jack said and he eyed Bernárd vomiting all over the slippery floor. Jack snapped his own neck back into place. I imagine every muscle in his body must've felt sore.

He was remembering the man they left behind but never caught his name. He had never said.

He requested a search party be undertaken or something at the very least. His wrist device told him it was two hours earlier relative to the time it had been previously. They could save him before he was even captured, but the general was unwilling to waste time and resources trying to find an unfindable man without a name. Those tunnels went on for miles.

"That man is dead," the general spoke reluctantly and he faced the window. He was facing bigger problems. "And so should you be. Why didn't they kill you, mister Harkness?"

Jack didn't answer. He didn't know.

"Technically, they did..."

"My city is under siege, mister Harkness!" the general cried out. "I need to know more! Who were these men? How can I even know you're telling the truth?"

"I can give you a name," Jack said. "But it's not going to tell you anything if you don't already know."

"Just tell me!" the general insisted.

That was two hours ago.

I'd been looking at it all wrong. My assumptions on the situation tainted my view of the situation. I didn't see clearly.

That's why I need you, Amy. A second opinion. A soundboard. Fresh eyes. Sometimes I cloud my own perception. It's an old man's folly to cling to their own assumptions of the universe, thinking you've seen it all. I never try to but it just slips in from time to time.

But the universe always has a way of surprising you when you least expect it.

Because there you were Amy Pond: walking straight into an area as well-guarded as the mightiest fort without a weapon on hand as if you owned the place. I couldn't have been more proud of you than I was then.

You faced the general and told him to buzz off and let the grownups handle it.

"You're off the case, sonny boy," you said and you put your arm into mine. "Come along, Doctor. We have work to do."

I noticed you found your own wardrobe again. You found strength in your own skin.

As we passed Marie I held up my hand and waited. She smiled, pulled out my screwdriver from her purse and handed it over without a complaint.

"Thank you," I said and put it in its proper place again on the inside of my jacket.

The general seemed more at ease now bereft of all responsibility. A giant weight seemed to have lifted from his shoulders, but despite all that he was still restless. He ordered his men to start looking for Torchwood operatives. The Prime Minister would hear of this.

"Your move, Doctor," he told us. Now we had the upper hand.

"I take it you're all out of lightning bolts?" I whispered into your ear. "Next they'll start worshipping you as a god."

You didn't respond and instead you immediately skipped the small talk and went straight to business.

"Look what I found," you said and showed me the file. "It says there was a crashed spaceship off the coast of Narbonne like ten years ago. Look at what they built out of the debris. Look!"

I did look. I looked up.

"The Eiffel Tower," I gasped and the dossier slipped from my fingers.

Your eyes were twinkling with excitement.

"The Eifffel Tower's a spaceship!" I beamed like a child in a sweetshop. This was Christmas.

The last pieces of the puzzle were finally falling into place and the Tower was just staring back at me. A memorial to a dying vessel that once traversed the stars shaped into such beauty.

"Do you really think we're going to give up this easily, miss Pond?" the general asked. It was of his opinion that just because we might save the world didn't mean we got to elude its justice.

Yet, by what should we be judged: our bad works or our good works? If saving the world isn't good enough, what is?

You turned to face the general just as fed up with him as I was.

"This is my world too, you know. If we want to save it, we have to set aside what differences we may or may not have. Why is that so hard for you to understand? We have to work together on this. Isn't that right, Doctor?" you said. "Doctor?"

Sorry Amy, I was halfway up the Eiffel Tower by then. The square was emptier since I last saw it. Despite all the ruckus in the city there were still those completely unaware of the situation or either pretending all was well. They relished in the sights and sounds of the World Fair and completley trusted their local clueless police force.

Maybe I should've warned them coming up. Maybe I should've said something or even shouted, but I was just too focused and too locked up within this mystery to think about the collateral damage. I thought figuring it out would have been enough. Or maybe being at the eye of the storm would save them. I just needed to know.

I found the bulkhead where the message had been left behind but it was completely cleaned now. Not a trace of it left where it had been scratched it into the metal. Nobody. No-one.

A message lost in translation. Was it vandalism? I couldn't stop thinking of vandalism, because maybe that's what I would've done. I just couldn't shake this image in my head of graffiti, of a rebellious statement, a message to me. A puzzle for me to solve.

They said they'd found a tool beside Bernárd's body. A knife. Maybe the killer made him write it or maybe this was Bernárd's final note.

But why would the killer have done such a thing? After doing all this he escaped into the sewers and for what? What did this mean? I mean, could it have been an accident? What did this seek to accomplish?

No-one. What did it mean? What did the bulkhead originally say? And I started thinking why the TARDIS would screw up such a simple translation job when it hit me. What if he'd written the name of his killer?

I touched the metal where the marking had once been and felt it with the palm of my hand but all that touched my fingers was rust.

Future Bernárd must've written down the name of his killer before he died. It fit. But what did it say?

"Nemo."

I turned to see Bernárd standing behind me (blocking the magnificent view) and I couldn't help but fall silent.

"What?"

"Nemo," he repeated. Tears were filling his eyes. "Nemo Nemo Nemo Nemo Nemo!"

I moved to approach him but he backed away. Anything I could've said would've been meaningless by now. It's all been said. Words of hope (like all words) become meaningless when repeated over and over again.

"NEMO! Is that going to be my final word, Doctor? The last word I'll ever say, write, think, before I die? Is it, Doctor? Tell me!"

Screams blotted out any thought I might've had at that point. Different screams. Men were shedding off their cloaks on the other side of the Tower's first floor platform while grabbing for their guns and daggers. This was a mutiny!

The pirates' plan had been set in motion. Caught me completely by surprise. They had been hiding under the very noses of the People the whole time. Hiding in the catacombs.

Then came a bang exactly like the sonic boom of an aircraft that filled up the Parissiene sky. This time it wasn't a ghost.

I ran towards the edge of the platform and instead of looking down I looked up and saw the gut of a giant spaceship hovering over the Tower. Its shadow was literally buzzing; laden with electricity and tremendous amounts of heat. Basking in its very glow felt like standing next to an open furnace.

"Captain Nemo," I said to myself before I ran back to Bernárd.

"Hang on tight Bernárd!" I told him just before the very ground seemed to shake beneath our feet.

The entire Eiffel Tower was being lifted off the ground by technology yet unknown. Some sort of tractor beam ripped the structure from the Earth and nulled its weight and mass.

The pirates were taking back what was theirs and they didn't care whoever was on it.

Before we knew it we were flying through the air and high up into the clouds until we pierced the vacuum of outer space, heading for the dark side of the moon. No point holding your breath.

"GERONIMO!" I yelled, holding on for dear life.

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