Notes: The characters aren't mine, and the story is! This is the sequel to "Red Sky, Take Warning," but the events of "Manchester Jones" and "Nesmith and Jones" are also relevant to this story. Expect a few cameos from some of my other fandoms, and just about anything could happen….
It was a warm, summer night in Malibu, California—not uncomfortably warm, but pleasant. Four musicians slept peacefully in their beachside abode, unaware of an old foe's sudden appearance downtown, outside a small antique shop. By all appearances, it was an ordinary man who stood there, but that was not the case. This being was not human.
At first glance, the shop didn't seem out of the ordinary, either. Run by an archaeologist, it was a place that one of the four musicians had been to on one occasion; he had, later, introduced to proprietor to his bandmates. But, like the being outside the shop, the inventory—and even the archaeologist arranging things inside—were more than what they seemed.
The being now sneered, attempting to enter. Finding the door locked, he unlocked it by waving a hand over the bolt.
"Working late, Professor Song?" he asked.
Professor Song froze, but quickly turned around to face the intruder, pointing a gun at him.
"I don't take very kindly to break-ins," she said, coldly.
"Most people don't," the intruder admitted. "But you're not like most people; I had to be sure. Now, put that away; that will do you no good!"
"I'll be the judge of that," she hissed in reply.
"Oh, let's just save ourselves the time and trouble," the being said. "I've come here for two items—the Harp of Ages, and the Book of Ages. I know they are both here, and I will now take them off of your hands."
"They're not for sale," Professor Song replied, simply. "Nor is this shop open at this moment!"
"Oh, I am aware of that," the being replied. "You see, it is imperative that I get my hands on those items. I own a shop myself—a nice little pawn shop, and they would go very nicely with my collection."
"I am warning you one last time," Professor Song hissed, stepping forward with the gun still in her hands. "If you do not leave this instant, I'll—"
Her threat remained unfinished as the intruder, with a simple wave of his hand, sent the gun flying from her grip. The archaeologist's eyes widened, and she backed away, slowly.
"Who are you?" she demanded.
"Someone with the ability to make your deepest wishes come true," the man said.
"And what would you know about my deepest wish?" the archaeologist asked, with a derisive snort.
"Everything. And in addition to knowing your every thought, I am also able to work the space-time continuum to my liking—that includes both creating fixed points, as well we making existing fixed points no longer fixed. You give me the harp and the book, and I will release your mother and father from the fixed point that traps them."
For the briefest instant, Professor Song's will faltered at the thought, but the moment passed as the realization struck her.
"You… You're…" she gasped. "…But you can't be!"
"I am," he said. "You may address me as Mr. Zero. And now that you know who I am, you might as well accept that I will leave here with what I want, and it is useless to try and stop me."
"I don't this so," she retorted.
By force of habit, her eyes flickered to the book and harp resting behind the counter. Both Professor Song and Mr. Zero grabbed for the items. Within seconds, each had one hand on each item, launching into a game of tug-of-war. Mr. Zero yawned, bored, and Professor Song knew that she was being toyed with.
That was when Mr. Zero suddenly strummed the harp.
A glowing circle appeared overhead, swirling with light like a tornado. The eye of the formation now split open, revealing the vast expanse of the Time Vortex. Professor Song gasped, willing herself not to look at it as the Vortex began to draw items into it with an irresistible pull.
As the archaeologist found herself being lifted off of her feet, she released the Harp of Ages, using her hand to grab onto the countertop to stand against the pull of the Vortex. Her other hand still grasped the Book of Ages.
Zero, unperturbed by the suction of the Vortex, smirked as he continued to pull back on the book. As the tug-of-war continued, several pages began to come loose from the book. Professor Song gasped in despair as the torn pages were drawn into the Vortex—she was absolutely powerless to stop it.
Mr. Zero now laughed, strumming the harp once again. The portal to the Time Vortex closed; the sudden lack of suction sent Professor Song crashing to the ground, pulling the Book of Ages with her—Zero had let go of the volume.
"Well," he said, smirking at her. "It seems as though I don't need the Book of Ages after all. The right pages were sent into the Vortex, and I have the Harp of Ages. At last, I will be able to wreak my vengeance upon Nesmith and his little band."
"Why him?" River asked, trying to catch her breath. "Why them? They're just—"
"I know exactly why you have a personal interest in ensuring Nesmith's well-being," Zero said, smirking. "Trust me; this isn't a vendetta against you; this is entirely about what he and his oh-so-precious friends have done to me!"
The archaeologist shook her head in despair and disbelief at the notion of the Devil being so obsessed.
"How is getting your revenge on them a testament to your strength? They never sought to humiliate you or have anything to do with you!"
"But they did. And, more than once, they undermined my power—you know exactly what they've done to me!" Mr. Zero said, his eyes flaring. "I cannot allow it to stand—I will not allow them to consider themselves the victors and let me remain the laughingstock of the Netherworld!"
Professor Song made a feeble attempt to grab the Harp of Ages from him as he was talking, but Mr. Zero knew she would try. He backed away so that the instrument was out of her reach, and then used his free hand to snap his fingers.
In an instant, a stone statue of an angel, its hands over its eyes, appeared in the middle of the shop. The archaeologist's shoulders went rigid.
"You recognize it, don't you?" Mr. Zero asked. "Of course you do—the very same one that sentenced your parents to death! …Think of it as a little parting gift—for you, and for the Monkees."
"No!" Professor Song gasped, but Mr. Zero vanished in a cloud of smoke, Harp and all, leaving her alone with the creature.
She allowed the tears to fall from her eyes—she knew she couldn't blink in its presence. But, this time, it wasn't for her parents she was crying for. No; her tears were for a young man in a woolhat, still asleep and blissfully unaware of the declaration of war that had been made against him and his comrades.
The next morning brought a beautiful sunrise over Malibu. The residents were taking advantage of the pleasant morning, and the Monkees, as well, were making the most of it. Peter was getting a start on washing the dishes after their breakfast. His mind was only half-focused on his task; the other half of his attention was directed to the alcove of the Pad, where Davy and Micky, sat, trying to put their heads together and write a song. They had managed to develop a catchy tune between them, but were at a complete loss for lyrics.
"We are not writing a song about chemistry, Micky," Davy insisted, as Micky now came up with tentative lyrics that involved a piece of potassium burning in a beaker of water.
"Aww, why not? No one's ever done it before; we'll be revolutionary!"
"For one thing, no one's ever done it because there's no appeal!" Davy said.
"And yet another song about falling in love does?" Micky countered, referring to Davy's lyrics of choice.
"That's why there are so many of them," the English boy said, with a nod.
"I dunno," Peter said, offering his two cents. "I'm with Micky; you don't wanna do what everyone else is doing. And we've got plenty of love songs in our setlist, too. Of course, this is your project; don't let me influence you."
"Can we just try the chemistry thing?" Micky asked, hopefully.
"Micky, your lyrics don't even go with the tune!" Davy pointed out. "The tune is slower than something that would be proper for a beaker with a fire in it!"
"…You may have a point there," Micky admitted, sighing. "Well, back to the old drawing board. What can we use this tune for…?"
"Hopefully, we'll figure it out soon," Davy sighed. "Let me tell you, though; Mike makes this whole songwriting thing look so easy!"
"What do you mean?" Peter asked.
"What do you think he's doing right now?" the English boy said.
"He's out on the beach, isn't he?" Micky asked.
"Yeah, but he's… Well, let me demonstrate."
Davy got up and went to the window, opening it. A catchy, melodic yodeling—mixed with equally catchy lyrics—issued from outside, tinged with a strong Texas drawl as a guitar played along.
"He said he woke up with a new idea for a song and headed out just after we ate breakfast. His new song is coming together already," Davy said, sighing in slight jealousy at his best friend's talent. "Meanwhile, it's taken Micky and me this long just to come up with the melody of our song, and we haven't even decided on a topic for our lyrics yet."
"Maybe we should play the tune for Mike," Micky said, with a lopsided smile. "He could come up with the lyrics in about five minutes."
"Nah; he'd probably tell you to keep on at it and figure it out on your own," Peter said.
"Yeah, he probably would," Davy said. He fell silent for a minute, quietly listening to his friend's singing.
"Davy?" Peter asked.
"I was just thinking…" the English boy said. "I don't really mind that Mike's able to come up with songs so easily. We're lucky to have him—both in the band, and… just… to have him with us…"
"You're thinking about that Golden Curse thing again, aren't you?" Micky asked him, softly.
Davy shuddered, but nodded.
"We almost lost him that time," he said, quietly. "We came so close to never hearing that voice of his again—to losing our friend." He clenched a fist. "And it would've been my fault."
"Hey, don't think like that!" Peter said. "Thanks to you, Mike made it!"
"Yeah, and he's made a full recovery—just listen to him out there!" Micky added.
"I know," Davy said. "He even says that he's made a full recovery, and he certainly acts like it, but… I still think that part of his mind is still a little heavy from it. I talked to him about it—when the nightmares kept me up for a few nights after it was all over. I know he had to have been shaken by what nearly happened to him, but… He keeps insisting that the scariest thing for him was seeing me nearly fall under the Forbidden One's spell."
"Knowing Mike, he meant it," Peter said. "He always puts himself last."
"Not to mention that you two go back a ways before you met us," Micky reminded him. "So there's that, too."
"I'm really glad I could be there for him," he said. "Especially now that I know why he left New Gallifrey—his only friends at the time turned on him and treated him like dirt… And Rico insulting him all the time certainly didn't help his self-esteem." He sighed. "That's one thing I haven't been able to do in all the years I've known him—help him see that he really is a great person."
"If anyone can, it's you, Davy," Peter said, confidently. "And we'll be right there to help you out."
Davy managed a smile, still listening to Mike's singing.
If the conversation had been ready to continue, any attempts at doing so had been thwarted by the phone ringing.
"I got it!" Micky said, hoping that it would be news of a gig. "Hello? This is Micky. …Mike's out right now; I suppose if it's really important, we can get him. Who's calling? …Professor Song? Oh, you're that archeologist chick we met—we were just talking about that Golden Curse thing, actually! What can we do for you?"
Davy looked to the phone in interest; he had been the one to meet Professor River Song first during the course of the Golden Curse adventure. It was because of her that he had learned the secret to deciphering his grandfather's notes getting through the Forbidden One's temple—which had allowed him to break the curse on Mike. She had also helped lead the CIS to them to arrest the perpetrators of the crime.
"…So, let me make sure I've got this," Micky said. "Someone wrecked your antique shop and stole something, and you need us to help? Why? …The guy who broke in said he knew us? Who was he? …Oh, you'll explain when we get there? Well, we're not really too busy right now; we could probably be there in about a half an hour—is that okay? Great; see you in a bit!"
"Who'd break into her shop?" Davy wondered aloud, as Micky hung up. "And why would she need us?"
"Probably to identify the thief, or a picture of him," Peter said. "She said whoever it was mentioned us, so…"
"Well, I guess we could use a diversion from writing this song; we're no further than we were before," Davy said. "But what about Mike? He's still composing over there…"
"I'll handle it," Micky said, now sticking his head out of the window. "Mike! HEY, MIKE!"
The singing outside stopped and was replaced by an annoyed "Whaaaat!?"
"We've got things to do!" Micky called. "You remember that Professor Song who helped us out in Peru?"
"What about her?" Mike asked.
"Well, she needs us to come over to her shop right away—there was a break-in, and the thief apparently mentioned us!"
There was a pause.
"When did we get acquainted with burglars?" Mike yelled back. "More than that, why does she think we'd still be in touch with them?"
"Because she was there when we had the run-in with Rico!" Davy yelled back.
"…Touché!" Mike hollered.
"You'd better get up here before Mr. Babbitt yells at us for yelling like this!" Micky called down to him.
"Awright, awright!" the Texan drawled.
Within minutes, Mike was back inside the pad, gently putting away his guitar back in its case.
"So what exactly went on in there?" he asked.
"She didn't really say," Micky said. "She said that she'd explain everything once we got there."
"Huh…" Mike mused, shrugging his shoulders as he retrieved the keys to the Monkeemobile. "Well, guess we'll find out soon enough."
"There was something else, though," Micky added, now frowning slightly. "She… apologized."
"For dragging us over there on such a nice day, you mean?" Peter asked. "That was nice of her, but she didn't really have to; we don't mind—"
"No; it wasn't an I'm-sorry-I'm-inconveniencing-you apology; it was more of an I'm-sorry-that-this-is-happening-to-you," the brunet explained. "And she said it twice—like she really wanted to drive it home."
"Maybe whoever broke into her place mentioned us as the next target?" Davy asked, puzzled.
"What do we have that's even worth taking?" Mike wondered aloud, gesturing around their shabby, little beachhouse. "Even our instruments are old and beaten-up; no self-respecting burglar would step in here!"
"Well, we can stand here wondering about it, or we can head on over and find out about it ourselves," Micky said.
The unanimous decision was made to visit the professor. Mike case one last glance around their home before securing the front door. He didn't know what the professor needed to tell them, but even though he was sure that it didn't have anything to do with items in the Pad, he still felt nervous.
The Texan looked from each of his friends, and that was when the realization began to sink in.
There were three targets in the Pad worth taking—three that were worth more to Mike than anything in the world. And as the flashes of memories raced through his mind—of harps and contracts, courtrooms and trials, revenge plots and stolen memories—he suddenly realized that he had a pretty good idea of who the professor's intruder was.
And for the first time in a long time, fear began to fill his heart.