The Storyteller

Network

You might not know this. You should.

There's over 190 miles of subterranean tunnels, a network of catacombs, 18 feet underneath the streets of Paris. Most of it's just tunnels except some of it isn't. Some of it's filled with dead people.

Now...In your time it's mostly an attraction of tourists, such as ourselves, and others drawn to the 'macabre'.

Such as ourselves.

But there was a different sort of man fleeing into those dark tunnels in the middle of the day that day. A man who preferred shadows to sunlight, a man who wasn't deterred by the dead, and in particular: a man who didn't want to be found.

And yet there was another sort of man hunting him. A prisoner in chains, much like ourselves, but it wasn't me.

Now bear with me because I wasn't actually there for this part of the story. I might actually make some of it up as I go along but I'll try to restrain myself.

He was a brave man, the hunter I mean, not the hunted, and a good man too, although he sometimes needs a good nudge in the right direction.

His name remains a mystery (even to me) but he lets them call him Jack.

Jack the hunter. Jack the mercenary. Jack the killer. Jack the prisoner!

"Keep moving," a prissy voice said which was a girl, a neat blonde with her hair stuck up, wrapped in a bundle. You know.

Let's call her Claire. Or better yet Michelle. Yeah, definitely Michelle.

She was winding up one of those wind-up flashlights in the dark trying to shed some light into the tunnels and just then it shines directly into the face of our new protagonist. Handsome man in a grey longcoat. American.

"You're not afraid of the dark, are you?" he said to her, or at least I imagined he could've said something as clichéd to her as that trying to flirt with her I suppose. Oh, humans never change.

"No, I'm afraid of whatever's in the dark."

Doctor, why is he chained?

I'm getting to that. You see, there's a lot of backstory you're missing out here, Amy. Or is it forwardstory? No, that isn't a word.

Jack was a man born in the future, trapped in the past, working for the British but obviously imprisoned by the French. They have their own Torchwood you know.

You do realize that I have no idea what you're talking about, right?

Yes. So the tunnels stretched on and on into darkness and most of them were hundreds of years old. Just picture it Amy, dragging your feet through a layer of muddy water through a system of dark catacombs knowing that when you get lost you die.

But there was a man out there. Jack and Claire were following his heat signature through the tunnels and they were, quite frankly, at the mercy of a tiny device in their hands.

"You know what they said would happen when the light goes out." Jack said to her and he was indeed referring to the device in her hand. As her prisoner he wasn't allowed to carry anything, not even a weapon, thankfully.

"The signature's stopped," Claire said.

"That's because we stopped moving." Jack rightly pointed out. He also saw how the bottoms of her designer clothes were drenched in water.

"This place is a maze, Claire," he said rattling the metal cuffs on his wrists. "If you would just give me my vortex manipulator I could use it to find a way out of this place!"

To answer his question, Michelle pressed a handgun in his neck. Ah, yes! There were two girls, I remember now.

Two girls. There was Claire. And there was Michelle. Claire's the prissy one. Michelle's the one with the gun.

"The moment you switch on your vortex manipulator you'll either teleport away or activate a homing beacon which will send the English straight to us."

"Hey," Jack objected. "You enlisted my help with this. You wanted my advice. I'm giving it. There's technology that can help us and I'm the only one who can use it. Do the math."

"Yes," Michelle said. "What is three minus one?" She might've had a tiny dash of a French accent. The TARDIS does that sometimes, I don't know why.

She cocked the pistol and Jack gave a weak smile.

"The teleport doesn't even work."

"We won't take your work for it." Michelle said and she pushed him on. "Let's go."

Claire agreed. "I can't get a signal down here. We have to find the others and tell them what we've found."

They hadn't found anything but their sense of purpose kept them going. Hope's a good thing, especially down there.

Of course, they didn't know that what they hadn't found was about to find them, but they weren't going to find that out until Claire had rewound the flashlight again.

Michelle lit a match. The signature they'd been tracking all over Paris, starting at the newly erected metal tower at the World Fair, was out of their reach, but in the light of her match she saw a hand reaching toward her. A big hand. A big, hairy, fleshy hand attached to a big and hairy, fleshy face with yellow eyes and yellow teeth.

Human, don't worry. And he wasn't alone. Yet, neither was Jack.

The organization that had sent them on this mission was bigger than anyone could've imagined. More powerful and rich than any other corporation in France, with people everywhere and technology years ahead of its time. Because of them Paris deserved to be called the capitol of the world at that time.

Yet they didn't stand a chance against me.

I was a prisoner all right. A prisoner of my own mind! Something was staring me right in the face, something that was happening right underneath the surface but I just couldn't see it.

No-one. What did it mean? Was it a message? A warning? A threat?

They took us from our cell one at a time and divided us into different rooms. Mine was large and shiny with a large mirror on the wall, like a ballroom. One where you could practice ballet. And they had me waiting there for what felt like hours.

It was completely empty with no tables or chairs. Just two giant barred windows from which the bright afternoon shone down on us. Time was running out.

I'd demanded to speak to Gustave and his young footman again because I knew they had to carry the pieces of the puzzle I was missing, or at least some of them.

"I was told you identify yourself as a doctor," Gustave told me.

I wondered if he was a member of this French Torchwood, like Freemasonry, a secret organization, but it didn't matter if I didn't sort out what was going on. There was danger. I could feel it. I could smell it. Something was afoot.

"Thé Doctor," I corrected him and I stopped pacing in circles for a moment. I love introductions. "My friend's Amy Pond. I need to know if she's okay!"

"She's well taken care of," Gustave replied courtly with a hand on the young man's shoulder. The kid was slightly taller.

Bernárd. That was his name. What did he have to do with it? Why him?

"You're supposed to be dead," I said to him and I took a step toward him. I had to see his face. He didn't like it up close and personal but no-one did. No-one.

It was rude but someone had to do it.

Eyes normal. Seemed to be the right age. Right skin, right ears. Why was he a perfectly normal average human being? Sadly, he was a perfect match for the body we found atop the Tower and there was one simple explanation, but I needed to be sure.

The boy looked away and stepped back and Gustave stepped in to shield him from my sight.

"Did you examine the body?" Gustave asked me, taking articulated deep breaths. They were both getting annoyed by me. They'd been interrogated and prodded enough that morning.

'Doctor', that's the first thing he had said. He wanted to know my medical opinion. Didn't they have their own doctors? Didn't he trust them? Maybe he wasn't part of it. Maybe he was just helping the boy...

"Yes, I did. Did you touch it?" I asked.

"I'm sorry?" Gustave asked.

"Not you, Gustave, I'm sorry," I said. "I'm asking Bérnard."

The boy swallowed as he didn't know what to say (or perhaps he didn't want to say it) and I waited. Come on, boy. Speak up. Don't be afraid. I probably should've used those words.

I watched the boy struggle. Perhaps he was superstitious. Or even worse...

"Touch it?" Bérnard asked.

"The body. Did you touch it?" I asked and before he'd even answered "Yes." I had my next question ready.

"What happened? Was there a spark?"

"There was," Bérnard said. "How did you...?"

"You need to let me out of here!" I told Gustave. "Paris might be in serious danger. The world might be in serious danger. The future hangs in the balance!"

I'd startled Gustave. It wasn't supposed to sound so dramatic, but if I'd known the truth I would've been much louder.

"I can save this boy's life," I added and Gustave's teary eyes perked up to look at mine. I could see the secret right there and in the grip he'd had on the boy's shoulder.

"How do we know we can trust you?" he asked.

I thought for a bit as I peered into his eyes, smiling, knowing that the truth had already dawned on me before I started thinking about the answer to his question.

"You don't," I said.

Gustave took a deep breath, contemplated a decision and then walked away.

He was going to ask for my release and yours. I just knew it.

"The British regard him as the most dangerous man in the entire universe," Gustave told the police constable. "But we are going to need him. Mon dieu, we need him."

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