'Never Say Never' the saying goes. That applies to fanfic writing as much as in any walk of life. When I wrote 'Where The Heart Is?' which was the final story of what might be pretentiously called 'The Kim Gideon Trilogy', I included brief references to various adventures that the speculative 12th Doctor and Kim had shared in their time together. I had no intention of going back to fill these out but, following a recent evening visit the hills in question, this story kept tapping on my window, demanding to be told. As for the other 'missing' adventures mentioned in 'Where The Heart Is?' I have no intention of returning to them. No way. Absolutely not. Never. No. Hmm...
A FIXED POINT: Chapter 1 : The Beacon
Sir Harold sipped at his tea and checked his watch as Big Ben struck the quarter hour.
His Whitehall office was grandiose and spacious, as befitting his status. He sat at a large mahogany desk and framed portraits of his predecessors stared down at him. Some it had to be said, seemed to glare at him disapprovingly.
Sir Harold sighed and opened the buff folder on his desk, breaking the wax seal reserved for such Top Secret documents.
The Malvern file.
He pursed his lips as he read the top sheet of paper. Ah yes. The Prisoner. THAT Prisoner. It had been agreed at ministerial level that the Prisoner would be transferred to Washington in the Spring.
This proposal was the nuts and bolts of how they were going to do it...
Kim Gideon sat and shivered in what was basically a hovel.
It was a rickety, low wooden building. At one end was a small counter with a tea-urn and a few biscuits scattered on a plate. Behind the counter Queenie was fussing over some cups in a sink, a perpetual cigarette drooping from her lips. There were a few tables and chairs dotted about and the room was filled with the composite smell of the gas lamp, which provided the light and a paraffin heater, which provided the heat. Both were not up to their respective tasks.
Outside was a panoramic view over rolling green hills and valleys.
Today, however, a freezing November mist had rolled in bringing with it the imminent threat of icy rain. The view across to Wales and the adjacent English counties, was blotted out.
Kim stared down moodily into her mug of tea. It wasn't as grim as this last time she came to Malvern. That day had been bright and sunny and full of cheerful children, excited to be out of the city on a school trip. Even Kim had been happy, but that had changed when someone had, hilariously, maneuvered a dog turd so that she sat on it. After that the others kept well away from her. The story of her schooldays really.
But even that experience could not dampen Kim's enthusiasm for the glorious hills and the mock-Canadian log-cabin cafe at the Beacon, their highest point. She had been back several times since.
Or would do, thought Kim. That was a good seventy years and more into the future.
The Doctor said that they had arrived in early November 1911. She was sitting in the ramshackle forerunner of that cheerful building drinking muddy tea out of a cracked mug and still trying to get her head around this time-travel business.
The door banged open and the Doctor entered, shaking his head like a wet dog.
He threw his duffle-coat carelessly over a chair and seated himself opposite Kim at the little table. She was amused to see that the Doctor's crazy morphing T-shirt now bore the legend: 'If found, please return to the nearest pub' in bold letters.
His hair was matted and hanging limply down his face. "It's blowing a gale out there," he said, stating the obvious.
"Any luck?" asked Kim, taking another sip from her cup, mainly for the warmth.
"Nope. It's definitely stopped transmitting. It was pretty weak when we picked it up, remember?"
Kim did. The distress signal had filtered through the Tardis' receptors like a half-remembered whisper. It was barely a couple of bleeps but the Doctor had locked on his instruments in a flash and followed it all the way here. To this place Kim knew, or at least would do.
"And it's definitely not natural?"
"You mean like a stray TV signal or something? In 1911?" The Doctor leaned back in his chair and looked down his nose at her. It was these occasional moments of superior sarcasm that sometimes made Kim want to slap him -
Her train of thought was interrupted as the door flew open again and a man entered, almost falling through the doorway accompanied by a gust of wind and slanting rain.
He was wearing a long gabardine overcoat which was heavily damp. He had a high-collared shirt, pork-pie hat and quite the bushiest moustache Kim had seen, outside of sepia-tinted period photographs. He brushed himself down for a moment, then looked around the room with darting eyes.
"In the King's name. Identify yourselves." His voice was laden with a Scottish burr and sounded to Kim as if it was used to being obeyed.
She felt the Doctor bristle.
"Pardon me?" he said, his jaw jutting.
"I said in the King's name -"
"Yes. I heard what you said." The Doctor sounded miffed. "Perhaps you would do me the courtesy of identifying yourself first and then providing some accreditation."
The newcomer looked the Doctor up and down for a moment. "I am Captain Euan Mack, late of the Gordon Highlanders and I am here on the King's business."
"Well, Captain. You are not in uniform now and we are not under your orders."
Captain Mack pulled a document from his pocket and held it in front of the Doctor.
"I am, sir, on secondment to this organisation. You are required to cooperate. As you can see by my warrant I am answerable directly to His Majesty."
The Doctor's eyes widened as he read. "The Torchwood Institute," he breathed. "Captain Mack of Torchwood! Well, well..."
The Captain put away the warrant. "You have heard of Torchwood?" He looked surprised.
The Doctor shrugged.
"Well I haven't!" said Kim, looking from one to the other.
"Torchwood , madam, exists to investigate and repel diverse threats to the British Empire. Established at the instigation of Queen Victoria herself."
"I bet she was not amused by something," said Kim, brightly.
The Doctor groaned. "Don't you start..."
Captain Mack looked at the Doctor directly. "Now, I have identified myself perhaps you would be good enough..."
"I am Dr John Smith, assistant director of the Royal Ornithological Society. This is my secretary, Miss Gideon and over there you will find Queenie, dispenser of the tea and biscuits in this majestic establishment."
Queenie jiggled her fingers. "Hello, Dearie. Fancy a cuppa and a nice piece of shortcake?"
Captain Mack shook his head and turned back to the Doctor. "And your credentials, sir?"
"Of course." The Doctor produced his psychic paper, which Kim had seen him use many times before in such circumstances.
The Captain examined it for a while before returning it.
"That seems to be in order, Dr Smith. May I inquire as to your business on the hills in such inclement weather?"
"MacQueen's Bustard !"said the Doctor, enthusiastically. "A rare sight in Great Britain and rumoured to be nesting in these parts."
"And you have come here in this weather to investigate a rumour? Without binoculars?"
The Doctor's eyes flickered momentarily. "Indeed. More of a first reconnaissance. My equipment has been left at my lodgings in the town. Observation is impossible today."
"I am also involved in a quest of sorts. We are investigating a report of a falling star two evenings ago. In this vicinity."
"We?" asked Kim.
"I have a squad from my old regiment scouring the hills. I suspect a meteorite but as yet, nothing."
"I'm sorry. We've seen nothing unusual," said the Doctor.
Captain Mack rubbed the condensation from a window and peered out. "The rain seems to be easing. I must resume my search before the light fails." He crossed to the door, where he paused. "Please take care if you venture outside in the dusk. My men are armed. I would hate there to be any...unpleasant accidents."
The door banged shut behind him.
"Was he threatening us?" asked Kim.
The Doctor stared at the door for a long time before answering. "I don't like it, Kim. He's sharp that one." He turned back to his friend. "You heard what he said about the falling star. That could tie up with the distress call we picked up."
"Fancy a cup of tea, Dearie?" Queenie's voice rasped across the room.
The Doctor nodded and Kim approached the counter. "That'll be tuppence."
Kim found the coins from her purse and took the steaming mug back to the table where the Doctor was fiddling with his nails, lost in thought.
"Penny for 'em." she said, pushing the mug across the surface.
The Doctor looked up, frowning. "Penny..." he echoed. His face suddenly cleared and he took a long sip from the mug. "You know, Kim. I'm a bit of a clot."
Kim raised her eyebrows.
The Doctor raised his voice. "When I said earlier that I had found nothing outside that wasn't quite right. I did find something, although I didn't appreciate its significance at the time."
"What was it?"
"A sign. Giving the opening hours of this place. It also said 'closed throughout the winter months.' "
"But this is November..."
"Precisely. Now I invite you to observe our friend Queenie. Notice the cigarette in her mouth. Never burns any lower does it. Probably because it is holographic."
Queenie had stopped washing cups and was staring at the Doctor, stock still.
"Then there's the fact that she accepted your payment for the tea, Kim. With decimal coinage. Sixty years too soon."
The Doctor leaned back in his chair. "Now I could scan for Alien tech with the sonic probe. Just to make sure. But I don't think that's really necessary. Tell me, Queenie. Dearie. Just where, exactly, did your spaceship come down?"
There was a momentary silence then Queenie suddenly tapped her belt with her right hand.
There was a high-pitched whine as her outline fluttered and blurred.
(End of Chapter 1)