Disclaimer:Doctor Who, the TARDIS and related characters are the property of the BBC and are used without permission. The X-Men, the New Mutants and related characters are the property of Marvel Comics and are used without permission. This is a non-profit making work of fan-fiction.
Mina Harker was created by Bram Stoker.
This story takes place after Angels and Devils.
By Duncan Johnson
An adventure of the eighth Doctor and Mina Harker
The camper van sidled gently into the car park, settled itself and then slept.
Charles turned round in his seat to address his passengers.
'I've got to go and pick up some supplies,' he explained. 'I won't be long.'
One of the passengers raised her hand.
'But what if someone comes looking for us?' she asked.
'No one can see you in here,' Charles promised, tapping on the blacked out windows. 'So long as you stay put you'll be safe. And once we get going again we won't stop until the coast.'
'And you're sure there'll be a boat ready?' another passenger asked, his voice a hoarse whisper. 'I mean, I know you said and I trust you, but it's everyone else I worry about.'
'The boat will be there,' Charles assured him. 'I have a way of persuading people.'
Riding shotgun, Amelia cleared her throat pointedly.
Charles gave her a pitying glance.
'I need some air,' she said, stepping down from the vehicle.
Charles got out on his side and hurried round the van to join her.
'Amy,' he began, 'I'd prefer it if you stayed here to…keep an eye on them.'
'Have you looked at them, Charles?' Amelia asked. 'I mean really looked? I just can't be in there another minute.'
'Amy, they can't help what they are,' Charles said.
'I know,' Amy replied. 'I'm not anti them. But the thing of it is that they still turn my stomach.'
'So what do you suggest we do?' Charles asked. 'We have a responsibility-'
'What responsibility?' Amelia demanded. 'We don't owe them anything. But you have to have your moral crusade, don't you?'
Charles looked away. There were a group of teens hanging around in front of the store. They were not doing anything obviously wrong, but Charles was getting a bad vibe and he had learned to trust his intuition.
He glanced back at Amelia.
'I thought it was our crusade?' he protested. 'You never said…'
Amelia ran a hand through her red hair and laughed.
'For such a big brain you can be incredibly dense, Charles,' she said. 'I love you. I want to spend time with you so when you go off on one of your crackpot schemes I want to be with you. But I never signed up for any of this.'
'Are you saying you don't think what we're doing is worthwhile?' Charles asked plaintively.
'Of course not,' Amelia said. 'What you're doing is important and noble, but…well, do we really have to be the ones to do it? We're risking our lives here.'
'Somebody has to,' Charles shot back.
'But not us,' Amelia insisted. 'We don't have to be a part of this…this crusade. We could be happy, Charles.'
'Could you really be happy knowing you could have helped save someone, but didn't?'
'We have helped,' Amelia said. 'They can get to the coast themselves from here. We can say our goodbyes and get out of here before it's too late.'
'It's already too late, Amy,' Charles said. 'It was too late on the day that we were born. Do you really think they are going to differentiate between us and the people in the bus just because we look more normal?'
'They might never find us,' Amelia replied. 'We could have a normal life.'
'I…I can't turn my back on them,' Charles insisted.
'Can't? Or won't?' Amelia turned her back on him. 'I can't be a part of this. Not any more. I'm going home.'
'Will you be there when I get back?' Charles stammered.
'I…' Amelia's voiced trailed off. 'I wouldn't count on it, Charles.'
Without looking back, Amelia walked hurriedly off into the distance. Charles watched her until she disappeared round a corner and out of sight.
He glanced back at the camper van. They'd be okay on their own for a few minutes surely? Then he glanced at the kids, still hanging around by the video store, sharing a cigarette.
He took another look at the van.
'Be safe,' he whispered. 'Please.'
Then he ran off in the direction Amelia had taken.
'Amy!' he shouted. 'Wait!'
The road had recently been resurfaced and gravel had scattered on to the sidewalk making footing treacherous. Charles skidded and fell to one knee. The gravel tore through both jeans and flesh, but Charles did not notice, instead getting right back up and carrying on running.
He grabbed a redhead by the shoulder.
'Amy!' he called.
The woman turned and looked at him quizzically. It was not her.
He had no time for apologies and sped right past her. Amelia could not have gone far, he kept telling himself, but her familiar figure, a figure he knew intimately, was nowhere in sight.
An explosion echoed down the street. The shockwave set off several car alarms and set Charles' ears ringing. Without waiting for the noise to subside, Charles turned and ran back the way he had come, even faster than he had pursued Amelia.
He stopped when he reached the car park, falling to his knees in shock and horror.
The van was on fire, the vehicle already little more than a blackened ruin.
Charles crawled towards it. He could see a hand twitching in the blaze and he reached for it, ignoring the heat. His skin reddened and blistered as he clasped the hand. He put all his effort into trying to pull the hand's owner free of the wreckage, but he could get no purchase.
'Let it go,' a voice said in his ear. 'Let it go, man, they're gone. Nothing could have survived that.'
Strong arms wrapped themselves around him and lifted him away from the blazing wreck.
The hand twitched once more, then was still.
* * *
'Isabella, don't run so far ahead.'
Lisa Phillips watched her dog with a wry smile. The black Labrador ignored her, pounding furiously onward, revelling in her freedom from that confounding lead. A butterfly settled on Isabella's wet nose. She shook it off and then yelped at the fluttering insect. The dog leapt up, trying to catch the butterfly between her teeth, but the butterfly flew just out of reach, taunting the other animal.
Lisa paused for a moment, taking a deep draught of the damp morning air. She was an early riser and looked forward to her early morning run with Isabella almost as much as Isabella did herself. Lisa insisted on walking through the park, however. It was cut off from the busy main road and Lisa revelled in the peace and quiet. Everything seemed so much simpler here, peaceful and tranquil.
Isabella's frantic barking cut through the stillness.
Lisa looked up, but the dog was no longer visible. She must have run beyond the tree line. Lisa hurried forward, making her way through the small copse that shielded the children's play area from the wind.
'Isabella?' she called out. 'Where are you?'
Lisa wondered what could have spooked her dog. There were not going to be any kids around at this time of the morning, surely. As she forced her way out beyond the trees, Lisa had to correct herself. A small child was sitting on one of the swings. Isabella was tugging at the kid's pants' leg with her teeth, growling all the time.
'Isabella!' Lisa snapped. 'Come away from there.'
She rushed across to the swing. The play area was surfaced with loose bark chippings that crunched underfoot as she ran.
'I'm so sorry,' she said as she grabbed Isabella's collar and dragged her away. 'She didn't hurt you, did she? She's normally really friendly.'
Lisa looked up, offering the boy a weak smile.
Then she screamed.
* * *
'The peace of this community was shattered today with the discovery of the body of a child, tied to a swing and with his throat slit. As yet the child remains unidentified. Police refuse to comment on the possible circumstances of the boy's death, but this case shares similarities with six other deaths in the State of New York within the past fortnight. Detectives working on the case refuse to confirm that there may, in fact, be a serial killer at large. In the meantime, this area remains sealed while scene of crime officers continue there investigations and police are appealing for anyone who may have seen anything suspicious in the park last night, however small, to come forward.'
Governor Grayson disgustedly thrust the remote in the direction of the TV and shut off the picture.
'I see your people have done a good job in covering up certain aspects of this mess,' she said.
'You mean that these attacks may be racially motivated?' Adams asked.
'Are racially motivated,' Grayson corrected. 'So who do you think's behind them? FOH? Purity? The Third Way?'
'All of the above?' Adams suggested. 'The fact is, Kim, that we don't know anywhere near enough about these groups.'
'Still, so long as we can keep the public unaware of the situation we may still be able to prevent a mass panic.'
'It may already be too late for that,' Adams said. 'People are already starting to put two and two together and realising our numbers make five.'
He threw a pile of newspapers down on Grayson's desk.
'The New York Times, page six: Genetic War on our Streets,' Adams read. 'The Daily Bugle, page four: Are Humanity's Days Numbered? And I can quote another half dozen papers with similar stories.'
'No one's going to believe this stuff,' Grayson said.
'Why not? It happens to be true.'
'We'll deny it,' Grayson insisted. 'There's not one ounce of evidence to back this up.'
'And you think the public will believe us over the tabloids?' Adams asked.
'So what do you suggest?'
'I don't see we have much choice,' Adams replied. 'We tell them the truth. After a fashion.'
* * *
'Let me get this straight, Professor,' John Hammer said. 'You're telling us that we don't need to worry that people capable of firing laser beams from their fingertips are walking our streets. We can feel safe at night knowing that there are people out there who can walk through solid walls and into our homes. I'm sorry, Professor, but I don't feel safe at all.'
Charles Xavier leaned forward, steepling his fingers beneath his chin.
'Mr Hammer, you are blowing the issue out of proportion,' he began slowly. 'You are suggesting that just because a person is capable of something then they will do that thing. That's like saying that everyone who owns a handgun intends to use it to kill somebody. I don't see you campaigning to take away a persons right to own a gun.'
'But we license people to own guns,' Hammer went on. 'At the very least, there ought to be some registration in place for these 'mutants'.'
'For what? Being born different?' Xavier asked. He was consciously struggling to keep his voice level. He wanted to be seen as the voice of reason in opposition to Hammer's hysterical ranting. 'Do we insist on registration for athletes for being born faster or stronger than the rest of us?'
'Last time I checked, Michael Jordan couldn't turn me into a popsicle,' Hammer remarked.
This drew laughter from the studio audience. Xavier frowned.
'People have a right to feel protected,' Hammer continued. 'How can they feel safe when they're constantly wondering if their neighbour might blow up their apartment block next time he loses his temper? Answer me that.'
'I couldn't agree with you more,' Xavier replied. 'People do have a right to feel safe. However, what you seem to be forgetting, is that mutants are people too. They should have the same rights as every one else. How would you feel if the government stepped up and insisted that all human beings had to be registered?'
'Now who's missing the point?' Hammer asked. 'We're talking about people who could kill you just by looking at you here.'
'I think you'll find that non-mutants are just as capable of murder,' Xavier responded. 'Physical differences don't make one any more or less enlightened. Don't forget that the number of mutants is tiny compared with the non-mutant population. With all the fear and hatred around at the moment, who do you think has more right to be frightened?'
'I'm sorry, Professor,' Hammer said, 'but I find it hard to believe that someone who can make me think what they want is going to be scared of little old me.'
'If mutants can do that, Mr Hammer,' Xavier said, 'then ask yourself this: why haven't they?'
* * *
Sebastian Vaughan stood at the window, looking down on the people scurrying like ants below. His gloved hands rested on his silver-topped cane. His right leg had been grotesquely twisted since birth and the cane helped, though not nearly as much as Vaughan would have liked.
'Did you see the debate on television last night, Ashley?' he asked.
Ashley Campbell was perched on the corner of his desk. A glass of Scotch sat untouched next to him.
'Yes, I did,' he replied. 'That Xavier makes a pretty convincing case.'
'He's a natural orator,' Vaughan agreed, 'but it doesn't matter. People will believe what they want to believe and that usually means the worst.'
'Usually? Usually's not good enough, Sebastian,' Campbell complained. 'The mutant question is the biggest single issue in this election campaign - Grayson's made sure of that - and I need to know I can beat her.'
'Don't worry yourself so, Ashley,' Vaughan told him. 'Grayson has badly misjudged the mood of the people. She wants to be seen as the supporter of human rights, an icon of tolerance and a paragon of virtue. She wants to play the hero.'
'And that's wrong, is it?' Campbell asked.
'It's been less than twelve months since they went public regarding the existence of mutants,' Vaughan explained. 'Do you really think that's enough time for people to get used to the idea. They're not worried about such complexities as the legal status of mutated humans; they only want to know how it will affect them. Grayson may be the mutant's champion, but you…well, play it right and you can be the people's.'
'You really think so?' Campbell fumbled with a cigarette packet, finally managed to remove a cigarette and lit it.
'Should you really be smoking, Ashley?' Vaughan asked with a wry smile. 'I thought your latest poll showed that eighty-seven per cent of voters preferred their candidates not to smoke?'
'Ah, yes, well…'
Ashley wafted the cigarette around ineffectually.
'Relax, Ashley, your secret's safe with me,' Vaughan promised. 'Besides, if that's your only vice then I think the voters are getting off lightly. As for your campaign, you really have nothing to worry about. Thanks to Vaughan Industries' generous support, you have a solution to the mutant problem.'
'How is the Guardsman Project?' Campbell asked.
'Progressing nicely,' Vaughan said, checking his watch. 'The first prototypes should be rolling off the production line any time now. We can have them ready for you press conference on Friday if you want.'
'That's probably a good idea,' Campbell agreed, 'it's just…'
'Hmm? Not getting cold feet, are we, Ashley? And I thought you wanted to win.'
'I do,' Campbell insisted. 'It's just that we're pouring a lot of money into this thing-'
'Actually, I'm pouring a lot of money into this project,' Vaughan corrected him. 'Don't worry about paying me back, though. At least, not until you're firmly in office, anyway.'
'Er, quite,' Campbell responded. 'As I was saying, you're spending all this money, but what if the mood of the public changes? We seem to be putting a lot of faith in their continued fear of these mutants.'
'Not at all, Ashley, not at all,' Vaughan said. 'In fact, I've taken steps to ensure that that fear will only grow.'
'Now hang on a minute, Sebastian,' Campbell began, 'I'm not sure I like where you're going with this.'
'Which is why I'm not going to tell you about it, dear boy. Plausible deniability. And by the way, we're renaming the Guardsman Project.'
'Guardsman sounds so…weak,' Vaughan continued. 'We need something more dramatic, something the public will respond to. I'm thinking…Sentinel.'
* * *
And some distance away, on Staten Island, a blue box wheezes and groans into existence.