Disclaimer - I don't own Crime Traveller, though if I'd had my way there would have been a second season.

A/N - Before anyone says anything about myself repeating myself and going over the same ground - don't. At the bottom of the chapter are examples of the loop of infinity and Marlow fading out of existence as he was beginning to realise something was wrong.


Marlowe's Opportunity.

As he raced up the stairs towards the laboratory the time machine was kept in, Stephen couldn't help but be disappointed; he had suspected for some time now Frederick Turner's time machine was still working, and Holly had inherited it from her father after he had gone missing (he realised now he hadn't had the opportunity to ask Holly anything definite about what could have happened once she had revealed the machines' existence to him, but now it was too late unless he wanted to go back to the cold storage facility to satisfy his curiosity), and she was continuing her father's work.

Marlowe frowned as he considered the flaws in what he was planning on doing about Holly; when she was found, though God only knew when since the cold storage facility was visited only periodically by different scientists and security guards, the connection between her and him was too obvious, especially since Jeff Slade knew about it.

Marlowe sneered as he thought about Slade, delighted he had managed to really humiliate the arrogant policeman. The time machine had worked like a dream once more in providing an alibi, but if Slade truly thought he hadn't thought of everything, well he didn't deserve to be called a detective.

When he walked into the laboratory, Marlowe slowed down his stride.

The door leading into the room the time machine was kept in was open.

Running into the room he saw to his growing anger the time machine clock was gone while he tried to think this through rationally. Someone was time travelling. For a moment Marlowe wondered if a version of himself was travelling through time, but he discounted it quickly as an option as soon as it popped into his brain.

He knew if it had been himself, he would have opened and closed the doors so the time machine was not exposed. No, someone else had found the machine and had used it, someone who knew about time travel. And it didn't take him long to guess who, especially when he remembered thinking he had seen Slade outside the cold store.

Slade.

NO! No, surely not….Marlowe's mind raced as he came to the realisation that Slade knew about time travel. He was very close to Holly, but why would Holly show him her time machine? Why, what did they use it for, but he realised they must have been using their time machine, or rather the people of scrap it was now since the machine's own electromagnetic crystal had been cracked and was now useless to them, for solving crimes.

God.

At least Haywood and Chapman had had the foresight of using the time machine for experiments which made sense, but why would Holly, a quantum physicist and an experienced time traveller, limit herself to solving crimes? She wasn't even a detective, for goodness sake.

Marlowe shook his head, that wasn't important right now; what was important was Slade who had time travelled was bound to be back soon. He didn't know how far back Slade had actually, but considering how determined the police officer was with getting him for something related to the current case being investigated by the police, and since Holly was involved, it was unlikely he had travelled back too far.

Thinking that, it did cross his mind Slade had travelled back quite a long way, perhaps even as far back as the first murder. It was certainly possible, and with the time machine more operational than the pile of junk he had seen in Holly's flat, it was possible he had gone back even further than Marlowe had, to find proof of what he had been doing.

Marlowe snorted as he walked around the time machine to think about what he was going to do. He wasn't worried. Good luck to him, if that was the case, though it would be hard for him to find any proof considering how well Marlowe had covered his tracks…

Suddenly his ears pricked when he heard footsteps running closer. He pulled out his gun just as the footsteps - two people, he realised - were now in the lab outside. He stepped around the door and he wasn't surprised when he found Slade himself with Holly running close behind him. They stopped instantly when he levelled his gun at them and cocked it.

"I had a feeling it was you at the cold store," Marlowe stated almost conversationally while he held the gun and glared at Slade, though he inwardly smirked when he saw the clock in the policeman's hands.

"I think your games up, Steve," Slade replied casually even though he only had a short amount of time left.

"I wouldn't say that, Mr Slade," Stephen said mockingly, using the same fake accent he'd used when he had travelled back in time for his meeting with Slade; it had been a slapdash thing he'd chosen for the job although it hadn't really worked since the irritating man had survived and had arrested him anyway. "In fact, if either of us was in trouble I'd say it was you."

Holly stepped out from behind Slade. "Stephen-," she tried to say but Slade pushed her back gently.

Stephen ignored this; he could very well guess what Holly was about to say, though it was a waste of time since either by a bullet wound or being endlessly trapped within the loop of infinity, anything if he was rid of Jeff Slade.

"Interesting situation, don't you think?" Marlowe went on conversationally while he continued to aim his gun at Slade and Holly. "Do you know what happens if you don't get back in the machine?"

There was no doubt in Marlowe's mind Slade did know. Holly would never have allowed him anywhere near her father's precious time machine unless he was aware of all the dangers.

"Uh-ha," Slade said.

"You get sucked into the loop of infinity. Very convenient for me. It would as if you didn't exist at all," Marlowe gloated while he reached a decision which meant he was more or less home clear. Yes, Holly would be a problem, but nothing he couldn't handle.

Marlowe was so fixated on his plan and its possibilities that he almost didn't see Slade look down at the clock in his hand until he held it up. "I've still got one and a half minutes-," Slade's voice was quiet.

"Alternatively you could take one step forward and I'll shoot you dead," Marlowe interrupted as he took a step forward, shutting Slade up. Good. He'd had enough of the arrogant policeman, and in any case, he needed to make it clear everything was hopeless anyway.

Slade went still.

Stephen smiled. "As your time travelling now the effect will be the same. Either way, I won't have to dispose of a body."

"What about me?"

Stephen moved his eyes over to where Holly was. She was standing just behind Slade, looking around him almost like a small child hiding behind her father. He inwardly sneered at the comparison. That was all Holly was, really; a child hiding behind someone. She had done it with her own father, she had done it with him, and now she was doing it with Slade.

"You won't tell anyone," Marlowe replied to the question, knowing it was true; even if she spoke to someone about what had happened to Slade, she would never reveal the existence of her father's work into time travel. Not only would she not be believed although the machine in her flat, if she took things that far, was proof enough, it was also useless without the crystal.

"Don't tell me you really care for this….arrogant plod," Marlowe went on with a sneer before he reached a decision. "Holly," he said in a softer tone of voice even as time literally and metaphorically ran out for Slade. "You can still come with me."

He wasn't sure who was more amazed - him or Slade - when Holly actually thought about it, and she stepped around Slade and slowly walked towards him. Holly walked to a stop behind him while he held up the gun to Slade; he couldn't see her face, but that wasn't important right now, although he wondered what he was going to do with her later since there was a chance she would still betray him…

"See, the first time machine," Marlowe said, tilting his head so he could address Holly properly while keeping a watch on Slade who actually looked heartbroken by what Holly had just done. "We can present it to the world together."

"Stephen," Holly said.

"Yeah?" Marlowe asked, enjoying and savouring the moment where everything he had ever wanted was coming to pass. He would have wealth, fame, and if he was lucky, a gorgeous wife (he only hoped he could find some way of persuading Holly to forgive him)….

To his surprise, he was suddenly swung around so fast he barely had a moment to react before he felt a terrific pain to the groin. Marlowe groaned with pain, but he didn't have time to dwell too much about it when he heard Slade's voice. "MOVE!"

Suddenly Marlowe felt the other man's hands curled around his own hands, trying desperately to fight for the gun. Stephen tried frantically to get the upper hand, but Slade was too strong and he was twisting his arms around. Reflexively he tightened his finger around the trigger. But if he could just squeeze off a shot when the gun was turned onto Slade-

The bullet might not kill Slade, but it would disorientate him long enough before he reached the time machine and return to the present without being caught in the loop.

Marlowe would never know for sure what happened next. His best guess would be during the struggle, his finger squeezed the trigger when he had the gun pointed at Slade's chest, only for the stronger policeman to swing the gun around. But whatever happened, the worse thing that could have happened did happen; the gun went off and the bullet struck the time machine, causing electrical sparks as gas started to spurt from it.

"WARNING," the time machine's computer voice said calmly as though it hadn't been damaged fatally.

The machine! No, I can't let it be destroyed, not after all of this!

Marlowe tried to reach the machine but he was still struggling futilely with Slade as they fell against one of the desks - he caught a flash of bright light and then it disappeared too quickly for his pain-filled mind to catch, and he heard something heavy falling onto the desk - which was covered by equipment, he didn't know which because he had been disorientated by the blow to his groin and the fight had twisted him around causing his equilibrium to be screwed up so he didn't really know where he was as he tried to wrestle with Slade to get away from the policeman and regain control of this situation which had spiralled into madness.

"WARNING."

Marlowe ground his teeth together as he glared angrily at Slade. This fight was getting out of hand, and he desperately needed to get to the machine to see what had happened to it.

"The machine!" Marlowe heard Holly shout just above him, and he twisted his head to see just what had happened. His eyes widened with horror when he saw the time machine on fire. It was burning out!

"NO!" Marlowe screamed, a wail of rage and despair, but he groaned in pain and looked around to see Slade twisting the hand holding onto the gun until it fell, and he realised he had loosened his grip on the gun when he had seen the time machine he had spent so many years plotting and scheming to be built with greater resources than Turner ever had.

Marlowe felt himself being pulled up, and the first thing he tried to do was to reach the time machine to see if there was something he could do to stop the fire. He no longer cared about Slade or Holly, all he cared about was the time machine. Slade held onto him just as he tried to reach the time machine, and Marlowe only had time to see a flash of Slade's jacket and he felt a terrific pain in the face.

Marlowe fell backwards, but he felt hands reach out and grab him just as he fell against the wall, and he saw Slade's face in front of him. Marlowe tried to muster the effort to get back into the fight and end it quickly so he could check on the machine - Holly wouldn't be the problem, but Slade would - but he felt a terrific blow and pain in his face which dropped him to the ground near the door.

"WARNING," he heard the time machine's computer say, but from where he was lying on the ground he couldn't see what was happening to it.

Desperation over the need to see just how badly burnt out the time machine was made him try to push aside the pain he was feeling but he was so shaken by the fight he couldn't even stand up properly.

He heard footsteps which sounded like they were miles away.

"Slade, be careful. It's burning out," he heard Holly say. "SLADE!"

"WARNING," Marlowe heard the time machine say once more, but he heard something that made him curse angrily. "INITIATE TIME TRAVEL."

Marlowe stayed where he was, accepting the fact it was hopeless to expect the loop of infinity to be triggered as he heard the sounds of the time-travelling process locking on to the new coordinates and timezones, although a part of him was hopeful the damage which was consuming the time machine would cause the loop anyway.

Marlowe took a deep breath and he pushed himself off of the ground and tried to drag himself up into a standing position by using the wall when he felt a pair of hands take hold of him.

"What about him?" Holly asked as he felt himself be dragged out.

"….with us," he heard Slade say, and Marlowe realised with horror the fight had really knocked him around, but he didn't pay it much heed.


The fire alarms were going off though he wasn't surprised, and he saw all the scientists and technicians from the different laboratories streaming out of the corridors. God, his head really did hurt. He felt it throbbing with pain after being spun around so many times in the lab, not helped by the blows he'd felt to his face when he had tried to break off the fight and get to the time machine to see what he could do to stop it from burning out completely.

But there was little he could do in his current situation, which was why he was biding his time and waiting for the right opportunity, though he knew he couldn't get too far.

He knew he must not be taken out of the building, not unless he really wanted the time machine he had plotted for years to be constructed which would usher him into wealth and fame to be destroyed for good.

Slade had pulled him up so he could walk on his own, and it had done him some good and now Marlowe felt his strength returning although he still felt disorientated by the blows he'd received during the fight despite recovering.

"I've got to get back….the machine, I can't let it burn," he said while Slade pushed him through the corridors of the building while the policeman had his arms pinned to his back.

"There's no time," Stephen heard Holly say behind him as she followed him and Slade down the flight of stairs.

Stephen felt a burning rage go through him as he listened to Holly; he had had to listen to Frederick Turner, Chapman, and Haywood speak about their experiments with time travel while they tried to tinker with the past here and there, only to discover when they returned it had already happened, but they had all preached about the laws of time as if they were the gospel truth. And he had grown tired of it, but now he was having to hear Holly say something like that as if it were set in stone.

Didn't the stupid woman realise they could do anything?

As he felt himself go down the stairs, Marlowe felt his head starting to clear, but he continued to play the disorientated villain, and he continued to mutter as they walked down the stairs.

"It means I can go back and change the past," he went on, "I can make it all right."

Slade brought them to a halt on a landing. "You obviously don't know the first law of time, Marlowe; you can't change the past."

Oh, and what would know you pompous plod? Marlowe mentally sneered, but there was something in Slade's voice he picked up.

Experience. Something told Stephen Slade had tried to change history, or at least bend time around so it suited him. For a moment, Marlowe admitted to himself there was something else he and Slade shared beyond an infatuation with Holly; both of them had ideas of how to use time travel to suit them, but he honestly didn't know if Slade was saying that to appeal to Holly, or if he had genuinely learnt from his own mistakes.

Stephen didn't have time to consider what Slade could have done with the time machine to influence the past because he heard a voice yell from above which only served to make his throbbing headache even worse.

"MARLOWE!"

Stephen looked up, and for the first time, he could honestly say he was pleased to see his boss. Mr Webb was on the top floor landing, yelling his head off, but Stephen didn't pay any attention to what his red-faced boss was bellowing.

"Marlowe's under arrest-," Slade said, adjusting his hold before Stephen decided it was time; with a terrific effort he managed to break free of Slade, and push Slade down the next flight, before he raced up past Holly and past his boss, ignoring whatever enraged babble was coming out of his boss's mouth - he had yearned for a long time to be wealthier than his boss, maybe wealthy enough to actually buy Webb out of his business.

There was still, hopefully, time for that.


He raced down the corridors back to the laboratory, and as he took a good look at the time machine, he looked on in horror as he saw the state the time machine was in. The fire had erupted around it, and he could see sparks of electricity shooting out of as it grew worse. He ran towards it and examined the controls desperately. To his relief, the control systems still seemed to be functional, though how long it would hold he didn't know.

Marlowe placed his hands on the control pads and pushed down on them while he tried to think of a good, round time he could use which would give him enough time to prevent the recent mess where he had lost control of the situation from happening. He decided ninety minutes would be more than enough time, although he was aware he would need the time to properly think about what was happening. He pressed his hands down on the pads.

"AUTO INITIATION SET….ENTER TIME COORDINATES…..30 MINUTES," Marlowe listened impatiently as the time machine calmly went through its time coordinate entry procedure, and he pushed the pads down harder to select the right number, knowing from practice and experience the harder the pressure the more time the computer would select though, in this case, he would need to be right. "NINETY MINUTES. PROCESSING... INITIATE TIME TRAVEL."

Marlowe waited tensely for the tachyon bombardment to generate the necessary wormhole to engage while the machine was on fire while he thought through the options he had available for preventing the bullet from damaging the machine in the first place. He knew from his own expertise he couldn't stop his past self from carrying the gun, but surely there was some way he could knock out his younger self or finding a way to stop Slade from getting back….

At last the time travel process stopped and he checked the time. He had definitely gone back in time ninety minutes, just like he had hoped. The machine was still burning out - and he felt one of his hopes fade as he was presented with another quirk of time travel, the time machine which brought him here would be as heavily damaged as the one which sent him here.

No matter.

He pulled out the clock, checked the time, and he turned around to start commencing the plan he would need to put things right….


Marlowe placed his hands on the control pads and pushed down on them while he tried to think of a good, round time he could use which would give him enough time to prevent the recent mess where he had lost control of the situation from happening. He decided ninety minutes would be more than enough time, although he was aware he would need the time to properly think about what was happening. He pressed his hands down on the pads.

"AUTO INITIATION SET….ENTER TIME COORDINATES…..30 MINUTES," Marlowe listened impatiently as the time machine calmly went through its time coordinate entry procedure, and he pushed the pads down harder to select the right number, knowing from practice and experience the harder the pressure the more time the computer would select though, in this case, he would need to be right. "NINETY MINUTES. PROCESSING... INITIATE TIME TRAVEL."

Marlowe waited tensely for the tachyon bombardment to generate the necessary wormhole to engage while the machine was on fire while he thought through the options he had available for preventing the bullet from damaging the machine in the first place. He knew from his own expertise he couldn't stop his past self from carrying the gun, but surely there was some way he could knock out his younger self or finding a way to stop Slade from getting back….

At last the time travel process stopped and he checked the time. He had definitely gone back in time ninety minutes, just like he had hoped. The machine was still burning out - and he felt one of his hopes fade as he was presented with another quirk of time travel, the time machine which brought him here would be as heavily damaged as the one which sent him here.

No matter.

He pulled out the clock, checked the time, and he turned around to start commencing the plan he would need to put things right….


Marlowe placed his hands on the control pads and pushed down on them while he tried to think of a good, round time he could use which would give him enough time to prevent the recent mess where he had lost control of the situation from happening. He decided ninety minutes would be more than enough time, although he was aware he would need the time to properly think about what was happening. He pressed his hands down on the pads.

"AUTO INITIATION SET….ENTER TIME COORDINATES…..30 MINUTES," Marlowe listened impatiently as the time machine calmly went through its time coordinate entry procedure, and he pushed the pads down harder to select the right number, knowing from practice and experience the harder the pressure the more time the computer would select though, in this case, he would need to be right. "NINETY MINUTES. PROCESSING... INITIATE TIME TRAVEL."

Marlowe waited tensely for the tachyon bombardment to generate the necessary wormhole to engage while the machine was on fire while he thought through the options he had available for preventing the bullet from damaging the machine in the first place. He knew from his own expertise he couldn't stop his past self from carrying the gun, but surely there was some way he could knock out his younger self or finding a way to stop Slade from getting back….

At last the time travel process stopped and he checked the time. He had definitely gone back in time ninety minutes, just like he had hoped. The machine was still burning out - and he felt one of his hopes fade as he was presented with another quirk of time travel, the time machine which brought him here would be as heavily damaged as the one which sent him here.

No matter.

He pulled out the clock, checked the time, and he turned around to start commencing the plan he would need to put things right….


Marlowe placed his hands on the control pads and pushed down on them while he tried to think of a good, round time he could use which would give him enough time to prevent the recent mess where he had lost control of the situation from happening. He decided ninety minutes would be more than enough time, although he was aware he would need the time to properly think about what was happening. He pressed his hands down on the pads.

"AUTO INITIATION SET….ENTER TIME COORDINATES…..30 MINUTES," Marlowe listened impatiently as the time machine calmly went through its time coordinate entry procedure, and he pushed the pads down harder to select the right number, knowing from practice and experience the harder the pressure the more time the computer would select though, in this case, he would need to be right. "NINETY MINUTES. PROCESSING... INITIATE TIME TRAVEL."

Marlowe waited tensely for the tachyon bombardment to generate the necessary wormhole to engage while the machine was on fire while he thought through the options he had available for preventing the bullet from damaging the machine in the first place. He knew from his own expertise he couldn't stop his past self from carrying the gun, but surely there was some way he could knock out his younger self or finding a way to stop Slade from getting back….

At last the time travel process stopped and he checked the time. He had definitely gone back in time ninety minutes, just like he had hoped. The machine was still burning out - and he felt one of his hopes fade as he was presented with another quirk of time travel, the time machine which brought him here would be as heavily damaged as the one which sent him here.

No matter.

He pulled out the clock, checked the time, and he turned around to start commencing the plan he would need to put things right….


Have I done this already? Marlowe thought in confusion as he placed his hands on the control pads and pushed down on them while he tried to think of a good, round time he could use which would give him enough time to prevent the recent mess where he had lost control of the situation from happening. He decided ninety minutes would be more than enough time, although he was aware he would need the time to properly think about what was happening. He pressed his hands down on the pads.

"AUTO INITIATION SET….ENTER TIME COORDINATES…..30 MINUTES," Marlowe listened impatiently as the time machine calmly went through its time coordinate entry procedure, trying to push aside the uneasy feeling he was getting that he had done this before already, and he pushed the pads down harder to select the right number, knowing from practice and experience the harder the pressure the more time the computer would select though, in this case, he would need to be right. "NINETY MINUTES. PROCESSING... INITIATE TIME TRAVEL."

Marlowe waited tensely for the tachyon bombardment to generate the necessary wormhole to engage while the machine was on fire while he thought through the options he had available for preventing the bullet from damaging the machine in the first place. He knew from his own expertise he couldn't stop his past self from carrying the gun, but surely there was some way he could knock out his younger self or finding a way to stop Slade from getting back….

At last the time travel process stopped and he checked the time. He had definitely gone back in time ninety minutes, just like he had hoped, but the nagging feeling he had that he had lived through this moment already. The machine was still burning out - and he felt one of his hopes fade as he was presented with another quirk of time travel, the time machine which brought him here would be as heavily damaged as the one which sent him here.

No matter.

He pulled out the clock, checked the time, and he turned around to start commencing the plan he would need to put things right…. If only he could get over the nagging sensation he was getting that he had done this before.


Something was wrong. Marlowe hesitantly placed his hands on the control pads and pushed down on them while he tried to think of a good, round time he could use which would give him enough time to prevent the recent mess where he had lost control of the situation from happening. But at the same time, he had the worrying feeling He decided ninety minutes would be more than enough time, although he was aware he would need the time to properly think about what was happening. He pressed his hands down on the pads.

"AUTO INITIATION SET….ENTER TIME COORDINATES…..30 MINUTES," Marlowe listened impatiently as the time machine calmly went through its time coordinate entry procedure, and he pushed the pads down harder to select the right number, knowing from practice and experience the harder the pressure the more time the computer would select though, in this case, he would need to be right. "NINETY MINUTES. PROCESSING... INITIATE TIME TRAVEL."

So far so good, he thought to himself, trying to fight off the uneasy feeling he was getting that he had been through this before.

Something about it was just too familiar.

Marlowe tried to push the feeling away, but as the time machine started to generate the wormhole and his nose wrinkled and his eyes began to burn from the fumes coming from the burning machine, he could not shake off the feeling he had already gone this.

Marlowe waited tensely for the tachyon bombardment to generate the necessary wormhole to engage while the machine was on fire while he thought through the options he had available for preventing the bullet from damaging the machine in the first place. He knew from his own expertise he couldn't stop his past self from carrying the gun, but surely there was some way he could knock out his younger self or finding a way to stop Slade from getting back….

At last the time travel process stopped and he checked the time. He had definitely gone back in time ninety minutes, just like he had hoped. The machine was still burning out - and he felt one of his hopes fade as he was presented with another quirk of time travel, the time machine which brought him here would be as heavily damaged as the one which sent him here.

No matter.

He pulled out the clock, checked the time, and he turned around to start commencing the plan he would need to put things right….

Stephen was about to walk away when he caught sight of the ghostly image of Jeff Slade, standing there in the laboratory, looking at him in horror. What, how was it possible for him to be here when-?

Suddenly a horrifying thought caught Marlow.

The time machine was so heavily damaged it had…. No, not that, anything but that. But as he looked at his enemy, he became aware of other versions of him walking around and going through the same motions he had only just now, all of them determined to go back into the past, all of them were moving exactly the same.

Marlowe's eyes widened with horror as he realised what was happening. The time machine was so badly damaged from being hit by the bullet from his own gun, it had burnt out too quickly for him to use after Slade had re-entered the present time zone. Now it was so unstable it had placed him in the Loop of Infinity. With the time machine unusable there was nothing he could do, but Stephen was forced to watch as more and more versions of him going through the same motions time and time again, all of them not realising anything was wrong for God alone knew how many times before they spotted Slade's temporal ghost.

"NOOOOOO!" Marlowe screamed, but then he felt a burning pain inside of him. It started out as a tingling sensation that spread across his entire body, and he watched as his hands and arms started to fade away in a manner reminiscent to the Back to the Future movies when time was altered and someone's timeline was thrown out.

But this was real.

He doubled over in pain as he felt himself literally cease to exist….

Was this meant to happen with the loop of infinity? Marlowe didn't know; he had never heard of anything like this when Frederick Turner lectured him about the loop, but maybe it was possible this was a side effect of the damage to the time machine, but he would never really know for sure. He collapsed to the ground in pain, unable to do anything but watch as his body faded away completely. He panicked when he felt another tremendous pain in his chest which made him fall to the ground.

Stephen had tried to become wealthy through the discovery of time travel while at the same time using it to cover his tracks, and a superstitious part of his mind which still existed wondered if this was times' revenge for what he had tried to do, but he faded away as soon as the thought occurred to him.