Notes: Mainly exposition in this chapter; the plot will start moving much more quickly in the next. Also, if you recognize any of the concepts in this chapter (aside from the call-backs to my other fics, of course), they aren't mine—borrowed from other fandoms. Also, here is where having read my "Nesmith and Jones" oneshot will help in making more sense as to how Mike got ahold of the key.
"You sure this is the right place, Davy?" Mike asked. Since the English boy had been the only one of the band to actually visit the professor's shop, the Texan had appointed him as their navigator.
"Yeah; it's right around here somewhere… There it is!" Davy exclaimed, pointing out the shop. He blinked as he noticed the spiderweb of cracks in the display window.
"It looks like it got hit pretty hard," Peter said, voicing Davy's thoughts.
Mike's mouth thinned as he parallel parked the Monkeemobile. Micky was the first one out and looked through the glass panel on the door.
"Yeah, it sure did," he said, sympathetically.
Though his mind was elsewhere, Mike did let out a low whistle as he saw the extent of the damage as they entered. Antiques were strewn everywhere—some of them broken beyond repair.
"I hope she was insured," Davy said, shuddering at the loss. His grandfather's lessons in history and archaeology had left enough of an impression.
"I'm sure she was," Micky said, picking up what had once been part of a Ming vase. "But, still…"
"What do you suppose this is, though?" Peter wondered aloud, staring at a hole in the back wall. "Look at the shape of this hole here—a person with wings. It's like a snow angel, only instead of being in the snow, it went through the wall."
Mike gave Peter a look.
"That's nothing like a snow angel," he informed him.
"Well, either way, it looks like an angel crashed through the wall," Peter insisted.
"You're right," Professor Song sighed, as she stepped into view. "An angel did crash through the wall."
"An angel did all this?" Micky asked, gesturing to the destruction.
"Two of them—a stone angel, and a Fallen one," she said.
"Then it was Mr. Zero!" Mike exclaimed. "I had a feeling when you didn't want to say who did it and just kept apologizing…"
The professor glanced at Mike and nodded.
"Wait, wait, wait!" Davy exclaimed. "Mr. Zero was the one who trashed this place?! Why?!"
"Why else? To get our attention," Mike said. "He told us it wasn't over, and now he's stirring things up to get us to take notice."
"There's more to it than just that, I'm afraid," Professor Song said. "This wasn't merely an exhibition of strength; he is actively setting a plan into motion. He got what he wanted—a harp."
"Oh, he's got a thing for harps," Peter said. "Trust me—I know…"
"He has no intentions of tempting anyone with this harp," the professor replied. "He stole this for his own use; it is the Harp of Ages—according to the legend, playing it can allow the space-time continuum to be shaped and reshaped according to the whim of the player. A specific combination of notes has to be played for a desired effect; random notes will only open and close the Time Vortex. But Zero has unleashed what he needs to rewrite time itself with the harp by means of this." She placed a damaged book on the countertop. "He caused several pages to tear out from this volume—the Book of Ages. Both the book and the harp belonged to a seer who lived centuries ago—the Oracle of Ages. Using the harp's music, she documented all of the fixed points in entire history of time—past, present, and future."
"All that in one book?" Micky asked, glancing at it.
"Only the fixed points," she repeated. "Time is complex and always changing, and there are some things that aren't written in stone. But fixed points are things that must happen, no matter what—things that cannot be changed without dire consequences to the space-time continuum. At its worst, changing a fixed point can cause the collapse of the entire continuum, if the damage is severe enough."
"Well, that sure doesn't sound like a good thing," Micky gulped. "And you say Zero took pages from the book, too?"
"The pages were lost in the Time Vortex—more than likely, they have all ended up in the era of history that concerns them. Mr. Zero, as you call him, has the power to determine what is and isn't a fixed point, and, as such, he can change anything in that book without completely destroying the continuum. But the changes he could cause would still be absolutely unthinkable."
"Especially since he'd be changing things to make us as miserable as possible," Mike said, quietly.
"But I don't understand," Davy said. "These fixed points, as you call them, sound like they're very important things. Why on Earth would four musicians have anything to do with something that important?"
"You would be surprised as to how important ordinary people can be," Professor Song said. "And the four of you are far from a band of ordinary musicians. You defeated the Devil—more than once. You broke the Golden Curse. You saved members of royalty from different countries. You stopped thieves and international spies. Your actions have had an effect on not only nations, but on the entire world."
"Wow," Peter said, his eyes wide. "I… I never really thought of it that way before. We just went along helping people out and trying to make them happy—usually with music. I mean, sure, we did get into all sorts of unexpected situations, but we never really dwelled too much on them."
"But that means that if Zero makes changes to those missing pages, even if he can prevent the space-time continuum from collapsing, a whole lot of people will be very unhappy," Micky said. "And that includes us."
"But if he took off with that harp, he's probably halfway through his edits by now," Mike said, cynically.
"We would have known if he had started," Professor Song assured him. "Because the pages were scattered to their proper times, he has to retrieve them first; he can only rewrite a page if he's close enough to the page itself."
"So, we've still got a chance!" Davy said.
"Yes, but we absolutely cannot delay," she replied. "You need to get the pages back before he does! I know that you have the TARDIS key—and that you found where the TARDIS was hidden."
"The what?" Micky asked.
"Mike calls it the El Dorado," Davy explained.
"Oh, that thing!" Micky said. "Yeah, he showed it to us once. Davy was the one who got to actually go for a spin in that thing with Mike. He said that he wanted to keep it hidden in case Adam Cartwheel came back—oh, wait, you don't know who he is, do you? Well, he wants the El Dorado, and Mike's trying to hide it from him."
"Very wise," Professor Song said. "But you'll need to bring it out of hiding now; it can home in on the loose pages, and you should be able to retrieve them fairly easily."
"No," Mike said, calmly but firmly. "We're not going to."
Everyone in the room turned to stare at Mike in shock.
"You must be joking," the English boy stated. "Mike, do you realize what you're saying?!"
"Yes, I do," the Texan said. "Look, you think Mr. Zero did all this without expecting us to go chasing after the pages he tore? He's banking on us going after those pages; we'll be walking right into his hands!"
"I don't think you quite understand," Professor Song said, as stunned as Mike's bandmates were. "Not just anyone can time travel—if not you, then who?"
"Well, not for nothing, but you seem to know a whole lot more about all this than we do anyway," Mike said. He took off his woolhat and pulled the key to the El Dorado from within its folded band. "Take it; you'll find the El Dorado parked on the beach out behind our Pad—1334 North Beechwood."
The archaeologist sighed.
"You can keep that," she said. "I have my own key."
"Well, then it looks as though our problems are solved," Mike declared. "I'm really sorry I had to refuse, but you gotta understand—I can't put my bandmates in this kind of danger. We're sure to be walking into a trap."
"You don't need to apologize," she said. "What I asked of you was a lot, and I really didn't have a right to ask you to put yourselves in such danger."
"Of course you had a right!" Davy said, coming to her defense. "You went out of your way to help us with the Golden Curse; it was only natural that you came to us to try to help against Zero!"
"Mike, can't you just think about this for a second?" Micky asked. "Other than the five of us, there really isn't anyone else. Are you seriously going to let the professor do this all alone?"
"I only just said a few minutes ago that helping people is what we do," Peter added. "I know you want to keep us safe, but—"
"Look, fellas… I want to help," Mike said. "But have y'all forgotten what Zero did to us the last time we walked into his hands? Do you really want to risk going through something like that again—losing our memories? Being torn apart and thrown into lives that aren't really ours? Being manipulated?"
"Of course not," Davy said. "But if Zero gets those pages first, he'll do far worse than make us forget about each other. There's no limit to what he could to—he could rewrite Peter's trial so that he wins. He could rewrite my duel with Archduke Otto so that I get skewered. He could rewrite Micky's impersonation of Baby Face so that it goes terribly wrong and one of the gang silences him for being an impostor. And he could rewrite so many terrible things happening to you—like making me unable to break the Golden Curse that had been cast on you, leaving you golden forever. Worst of all, he could rewrite everything so that not only would he throw us back into those alternate lives, but rewrite so that becomes reality. Think about it—the one thing that got us through that was because we knew the lives we were living weren't really ours, and that we kept remembering our real ones. He could make it so that our real lives now never existed."
"And we wouldn't be able to tell that anything was wrong," Micky added.
"You bring up some very good points that we can discuss in a band meeting once we get home," Mike said. "And may I emphasize the word 'band,' please? We are musicians, first and foremost. Our mission is to bring joy through music, not stop the plans of the Devil—that's a job better suited for monks, not Monkees."
He looked at his bandmates, who were clearly not in full agreement, and he then turned back to Professor Song.
"Look, um… I'm sorry for bailing out on you like this, but—"
"You don't have to explain," she said, with a sad smile. "But I do want to reiterate how very sorry I am."
"…You know something that we don't," he realized.
"Yes, I do," she admitted, with a solemn nod. "And before you ask me to tell you, I might was well let you know that I can't—spoilers. What I can do, though, is see that you are prepared for whatever lies ahead. So, if something happens that makes you change your mind…" She drew a strange-looking device from her pocket and handed it to Mike. "Make sure you hold onto this."
"What is this thing? Some kind of groovy pen?" an intrigued Micky asked, leaning over to look at it.
"It's the Sonic Screwdriver; I can't explain much right now, but I will when the need arises."
"Look, ah… I already told you that we're not going on this little time trip here," Mike said. "If this is some sort of bribe—"
"It's not," she replied. "It's to offer you some sort of defense since, as you aptly pointed out, this is the Devil himself we're talking about. I have something for each of you, actually…" She took an ocarina from behind the counter, which had managed to escape the destruction of the previous night, and handed it to Davy.
"This feels like it's rather old," the English boy said. "You sure you're okay with just giving it away?"
"You're a musician, as Michael pointed out; it suits you—the breaker of the Golden Curse," she said. "Think of it as a thank-you gift for stopping what could've been an outright disaster."
Davy nodded, and then looked to Mike, as though silently pleading him to change his mind and let them be more proactive about the current situation. Mike said nothing, but he did slip the screwdriver and the El Dorado's key into his pocket.
Professor Song now removed a strange device from around her wrist and handed it to Micky.
"Keep this close by," she said. "In fact, I'd wear it at all times. And now, Peter, for you…" She picked up the Book of Ages and handed it to him. "You have the responsibility of making sure that no more pages are lost from the book."
"Uh… are you sure you don't want to give that to Mike? He'd do a better job of… not messing things up."
"Nevertheless, I'm giving it to you," she said. "I must ask you not to be tempted to read it, or let anyone else read it. Some of these fixed points haven't happened yet, and having prior knowledge of them could create a paradox if things don't go exactly as written. Just keep the book safe; I have full faith in your ability to manage that."
"Glad someone does, because I sure don't," Peter said, quietly, as he clutched the book close to him.
"I don't quite get something, though," Mike said. "You say you're preparing us in case something happens—and your tone of voice suggests that it's not a matter of 'if,' but 'when.' So how exactly are a screwdriver, an ocarina, a weird wristwatch, and a book supposed to prepare us against a plot by Mr. Zero?"
"I will explain how they work in due time," the archaeologist said. "In the meantime, the best I can do is offer you one more word of warning. Zero isn't the only thing you have to watch out for. I mentioned to you about the other angel—the one that did that." She indicated the hole in the wall.
"Oh, yeah. You said it was a stone angel that did that?" Mike asked.
"Yes—a Weeping Angel. It's only stone when you look at it," she warned. "If you don't, it comes alive—and pursues you. You only have to look away for a second—they can even do it in the blink of an eye. If it touches you, you get thrown into the past—and the Angel feeds off of the years you would have lived."
"How do we stop that from happening?" Micky gulped.
"You can't," Professor Song said. "All you can do is keep your eyes on them long enough to get away."
"And this thing is loose somewhere in Malibu right now?" Davy asked, his eyes widening.
"They can move obscenely fast as long as nothing is looking at them—there's no telling where it could be by now," she said. "I don't know what Zero intended for it to do—just cause mayhem, I suppose."
"Do you have a picture of this Angel thing so that we know what to look out for?" Peter asked.
"No!" the professor exclaimed, in such haste that everyone stared at her. "A picture—a drawing even—would be too dangerous. They can come alive through images. You'll know it when you see it—trust me. And when you do see it, you'd better not stop seeing it until you're far enough away." She sighed. "That's all I can offer you right now. I understand the reasons why Michael refused my request, but please give me a call in the event that he changes his mind."
"I don't intend to," Mike informed her. "Sure, we're going to have a discussion about this, but my mind is made up. Even if it's agreed that we do something, it'll be me going solo while they stay where it's safe." He held up a hand as the other three began to protest. "I refuse to put them in any danger or let anything happen to them on my watch."
River gave him a sad smile, but nodded.
"Of course," she said. "I understand completely."
"Well, I'm glad," Mike said, shaking her hand. "Now if you need some sort of benefit concert to raise money to fix all this damage, we'll sing for you free of charge. That's what we do."
"Perhaps I'll take you up on that."
She said nothing as the Monkees turned to go. They were silent as they left, but the moment the shop door closed behind them, they immediately started arguing—Davy was pointing an accusatory finger at Mike, who stood stubbornly with his arms folded. Micky was waving his arms on the verge of panic, and Peter was desperately trying to keep the peace.
"I truly am very sorry," she softly whispered.