Dumping the Diadem
Week 4, Loose Ends, Holmes
We left our heroes on the pantope, having just recovered Wu and having decided they could leave Fogi to become the founder of Toon Town.
Tom now advocates going after Simpson the Teldai. Tom has a scheme for rescuing him despite all the evidence of his demise -- it involves a fake corpse and some very tricky pantope navigation in worldbender territory. The Captain suggests that we not attempt this until we have let some kind of time pass, so as to let the worldbenders discover we no longer have the diadem.
Chris then suggests dropping in on Sherrinford Holmes, to give him the full story, as we promised. No one can see any objection to this. "By the way," Chris asks the Captain, "what did those red marks in the log mean? We found them next to the period a generation or so before we arrived."
"Those meant the worldbenders knew I was in that area. Or that they knew Henderson was there. By the way, did you like Henderson's robot?"
What robot? we ask. It turns out the decrepit-looking saurian with Henderson was actually a robot disguised as a saurian. We never noticed.
Chris then suggests to Tom that we could take steps to improve worldbender relations and spread the word on the state of the diadem by returning that guard, along with a short, snappy message, like "Too late."
We refine this plan a bit, then do the following: Tom writes the worldbenders a note, only slightly longer than "Too late," and repeats the written message by binding a telepathic one to the paper. Cantrel then binds a programmed TK to the same paper. We open a door on that rooftop in Tombstone, Arizona, and toss some medieval-style clothes, a knife, and the note onto the prone form of the worldbender guard. Then, keeping only a window open on Tombstone, we slip a door under the guard, dropping him a few inches onto the lawn near Rhodri's family estate in Gwennedd. (Remember Rhodri?) The programmed TK slam-dunks the guard through, then cushions the landing, so the whole operation only takes a few milliseconds. With any descent luck the guard will get back, with the note. And perhaps THAT will take some heat off us. ("You aren't allowed to leave Armageddon without a note from your nemesis," one observer quipped.)
Tom then asks the Captain what we might do about the two genocides we've more or less accidentally committed. The Captain suggests that we not wrack our consciences too much about the saurians -- they were pretty certainly doomed by their own excess psi-power and excess aggression. After all, their analogs didn't survive in the Jonathan/Holmes line, did they?
The Eilythry, on the other hand, are a different matter. (The Captain, by the way, suspects that world was artificial, but made by someone else, not worldbenders.) There were only a few thousand when he dropped the segment off there, and he didn't give it to the Eilythry; a pity for them that they got hold of it. We argue the ethics of the situation. Eventually, everyone agrees to let Tom drop off the tissue sample with KaiSen, somewhere in the 25th century, along with all the information on the Eilythry he can muster. It will take him some weeks to prepare the report.
Meanwhile, on to 221B Baker Street, London, on Jonathan's line. Chris, Sophie, Tom, and Pfusand decide to go, and Gene is curious to meet the "real life Sherlock Holmes." We put on Victorian clothing and start looking for a good entry point.
For time, we select winter, early in 1898, 3.5 years after we left. By then, we figure than most of the excitement in which we took part will have died down. We step straight from the pantope onto the steps, leaving trackless snow behind us as a little amusement for the Great Detective.
Mrs. Miller lets us in and shows us to Holmes' study, where we also find Watson. As introductions are made all around, Gene mutters to Tom, "Do we really want Watson taking all this down and turning it into a story." Tom replies, "We can rely on their discretion. After all, the world is still not ready for the story of the Giant Rat of Sumatra." Watson overhears, as he was meant to, and colors somewhat.
Chris tells Holmes that Musgrove "fell into a volcano while playing with the Eye," leaving out the bit about apotheosis. Holmes tells us that Colonel Morran followed us to Erytria six months later, lost several men on the (apparently fruitless expedition) and reappeared in London later.
We then start getting weird. We invite Holmes to look out the window. He sends Watson to do so, but Watson's exclamations bring Holmes to the window. He is, indeed, amused. Tom then gives his right name and drops his glamour; that DOES rattle Holmes just a bit. He gives his true date of birth: 2463.
Holmes had deduced time travel as a possibility, shortly after running into the temporal effects around Braithwaite's house (though not entirely BECAUSE of those effects, which after all only altered rate, not sequence).
Pfusand then introduces herself and does her bear transformation. Tom also shows an image of her original form. By now, Watson is burning his pencil with the speed of his writing.
Chris: "And my name is Christopher Marlowe. So far as I know, I am not the Elizabethan playwright." He then gives a terse and somewhat abstract summary of the diadem campaign. He mentions the Captain under his alias of Lee van der Gehr; Holmes has heard of him. He also recalls Jonathan, who is going to come back here; the pantope makes him timesick, with is weird geometries.
Holmes met Victoria after we left London, was able to follow our travels, and so knows that all of us vanished from Boston.
Holmes believes us, in part, because of the findings of a scientist of his acquaintance, one Ashleigh Sinclair. He even showed Ashleigh Cantrel's parting gift (an infrared spyglass). Ashleigh said it was well beyond current theory, but not unexpected, in the light of Ashleigh's own time-travel researches.
Holmes says we might like to compare notes with Ashleigh. He's known Ashleigh "almost forever" (we cock eyebrows; don't tell US about "forever") and is certain Ashleigh is not, for instance, a plant of our enemies'. For one thing, Ashleigh's technology is so well integrated with the current scene (as contrasted to OURS...). We feel Holmes' recommendation is at least as good as any checking we could do, so we agree.
A chance remark of ours causes Holmes to instantly figure out timelock theory. He HAD been thinking of a meeting with Ashleigh as useful to US, but now he wants us to warn Ashleigh of the potential dangers of time-travel, such as timelock.
Ashleigh is in India just now, exploring in a privately invented dirigible. Holmes writes us a letter of introduction, written directions for tracking Ashleigh down, a map, and the exact time and place of the last wire he sent to Ashleigh. (Holmes catches on fast.)
Sophie has a parting gift for Holmes -- an elven cloak (elven Inverness?). We leave and, following our tradition, Chris throws a Second Sight viewpoint back into the study. Watson, who gave up writing things down some time back, is looking dazed, going over his notes, and seems a bit put out. Holmes is at a writing table, simply radiating "go away" (which Watson ignores) and writing in a journal, in cipher. He then slips the journal into his jacket so slickly it would seem that even Watson does not know he keeps such a thing.
Lee picks us up, and we settle down to tracking this Ashleigh person.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.