Everything rocked at the whim of cosmic imbalance, floating impartially and being no longer subject to the gravitational pull of planetary objects, but that was only temporary.
There stood Captain Nemo. The name was obvious now we met face to face.
But the thing is, first impressions never do live up to our expectations. Or was it the other way around? Circles. Like a snake eating it's own tail. Ourobouros. What was I saying?
There stood a man wrecked by a thousand lives; a hunter, a gatherer, a monster and most of all a mortal and there was one man who knew him more than any of us. Because there's history and then there's history (well, there's always history) and then there's this.
The pirates bowed before the whites of his eyes, which seemed to eye the Tower more than they inspected his captives. Clearly a thoughtful man. I appreciate such a quality within a man.
Of course you would.
Without a doubt I recognised the black leather strap around his right wrist embedded with three sparkling diamonds in a diagonal row. I had seen such a strap before.
"Captain!" I said. "How's the Time Agency these days? I hear they pay well...possibly enough to buy your own ship?"
Now in return he was trying to read me. He changed not a single muscle in his expression. Oh, he was good. And definitely a Time Agent.
"Yes, I know about the Time Agency," I said reading his stare. "And I know about the ship that crashed in the Mediterranean. We're standing on it right now, am I right? Now how could I possibly know that? Think about it."
We were off on the right foot. I clapped my hands together and dared a smile and for a moment I saw the face of Simon de Leeuw peering back at me from the crowd of hostages. Talk about a captive audience!
"Have I got your attention now?" I said. "Good, very good."
Nemo was a quiet one. That should've been my first clue to how dangerous he really was.
Then he suddenly started laughing and the pirates joined in.
A good hearty belly laugh. I was almost expecting them to break out into song. Perhaps an old sea shanty. I know a few.
And they were still laughing. I smiled but didn't get the joke. Too late I realized the joke was on me.
"You'll make a fine addition to the crew," Nemo spoke as a blackened yellow dwarf planet spun into view.
The bony fingers, pale skin and pronounced cheekbones revealed malnutrition and there was hunger in his eyes. Bernárd didn't recognise him but more peculiar than that was the fact that Nemo didn't recognise him.
He couldn't have been the one who killed future Bernárd. There would've been a reaction, a hint of recognition, anything at all, instead there was nothing.
Something was out of place. Maybe it was yet to happen, but then where was the future version of the killer? Had he escaped justice in Paris?
"You think you know, little man," Nemo spoke and he had this soft, well-spoken mannerism hidden within a haunted whisper. I wondered whether the laugh had been genuine at all. His change in demeanor had changed within seconds.
He wasn't even interested. How could a man care so little? It seemed all he cared about was the Tower...
"Soon I will give you a choice," Nemo said and he thoughtfully brushed his black beard as he paced around us. "You can join my crew, or..."
My eyes were drawn to the dwarf planet that had come into view. The first ever planet (or whatever passed as a planet these days) these fifty captive humans would ever see beyond Earth. Most of them anyway.
"...you will be marooned upon Pluto," Nemo concluded, impatiently. "I take no prisoners."
"Have mercy, please!" one man cried out and Nemo shot him down with a single crazed look.
"You will find no mercy here, nor anywhere in this universe. You have your choice ahead of you."
The pirates enclosed the circle around the captives once again when their captain had turned their backs on them.
"This isn't a choice!" I yelled. "This is slavery!"
"We are all slaves. Death comes to all in the end," Nemo spoke without turning. "Sooner or later does not matter."
"Life matters!" I said.
"Then you know your decision."
I couldn't believe what I was hearing.
Back on Earth the floor was scattered with umbrellas, all exhibitions and market stands were abandoned and all troops gathered at the fountains. Sea gulls circled the air where the Tower had once stood, probably just as baffled as the humans were.
They sensed the energy more than any creature in the vicinity, except perhaps the flies and bugs who flew towards the anomaly only to be ripped from time and be scattered into atoms.
The troops were clinging on to the general's words: it being the only thing that stopped them from running as the civilians did. They gathered at the large fountains which no longer stood in the shadow of the Tower, instead there was a clear sky from there all the way to the Tracadéro Palace.
They begged for orders. The general had none. He was trained to deal with tangible events and physical challenges. Give him an alien invasion and he'd have saved the world. But against this he was powerless, clueless, just another primitive mind in a primitive world. Blinded by superstition and fear in the face of this natural supernatural event.
You weren't impressed with the top hats, uniforms and guns. You were one of few capable of resisting the hypnotic effects of the shattered air above. The sky around the anomaly was slowly turning dark around it as if a cloud of night was seeping out of the cracks and tainting the late afternoon.
Echoes of the past and future started to affect the tiniest actions and motions blurred into ghostly glitches. In the end there would be no telling which was the present.
Visions of prehistoric forests and flying cars were fading into being until there were dinosaurs eating spaceships and Neanderthals discovering modern machinery in the 'Machinery Hall'.
People find inspiration in the most strangest places.
"There's no time," the general said. "We're doomed."
Marie slapped him in the face. You loved that.
"Sir, with all due respect," she said, straightening her pose and dress with a curtious clearing of her throat. You rooted for her to slap him again."You're better than this."
She was literally shaking in her boots. She did that thing where she bit her lower lip in silent objection.
"I'm sorry. Someone had to do it."
You couldn't agree more.
"The world's not going to end on your watch, general," she concluded, yet he still begged to differ.
He had always known mankind wasn't ready, he had never held any delusion about this, because the message from the top brass had always been clear. But with every alien technology they managed to scrape together from the burning wreckages of crashed ships he had come to realize it was all pointless.
If and when an alien force planned to invade this primitive world of primitive minds they wouldn't stand a chance.
"Give Jack Harkness his freedom," he told Marie and he turned to tell you: "If he wants to join Torchwood he's free to do so."
The tone of his voice clearly added, sighing: "but what's the point?"
"That's it, then?" you asked. "You're just going to stand here and watch the Earth die?"
"WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU HAVE ME DO?" he bellowed and lost for breath he clutched his head. The world was ending on his watch. Ever since he lost his son he spent his days watching everything spin out of his control.
Then a man stepped forward.
"Oh, I don't know..." Captain Jack Harkness then said. "We could try and save it."
Now there's my type of bloke! Handsome and practical. Could you make him and me kiss?
Hey, I'm telling the story here.