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Buffy - Willow and Tara

The Principalities - Episode 3.3 - Killing Time

Posted on 2008.06.26 at 13:36
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Episode 3.3 – Killing Time
(see the preface for information)

WARNING: Longest Prinicipalities episode thus far.


No recap for this one. The damn thing is too big to post if it’s included.

23rd July 1671
Yolaris, Charity and Princess Fenrir were crouched behind trees in the middle of a forest in Feudal Japan watching a version of Yolaris from the recent past and Hailie White who were on a date. It wasn’t an ideal way to spend a Saturday night but as it wasn’t a Saturday night nobody seemed to mind terribly. What they did mind was that time had just broken, rendering their transportation back home ineffective.
“Stuck?” asked Charity. “I can’t be stuck in feudal Japan. Even the nice Japanese dresses are so out of fashion that it isn’t funny any more.”
“Technically speaking we are in feudal Japan.” said Princess Fenrir. “Japanese dresses and so on are probably rather in fashion at the moment.”
“What?” demanded Charity. “Just because I’m stuck in the past you expect me to dress like I’m living in the past?”
“Well yes.” said Princess Fenrir. “Plus we’ll probably have to get jobs or something. Fashionable Japanese dresses don’t just fall out of the sky.”
“You’re acting like there’s no hope.” said Yolaris.
“There is no hope.” said Princess Fenrir. “Time has broke. We’re stuck. I would have preferred to get stuck after the invention of indoor plumbing but it could have been worse.”
“There’s still hope.” said Yolaris. “If we get Hailie back from the samurai that are going to come and kidnap her it’ll fix time and we can all go home back to our up to the minute fashions and running water.”
“I don’t think it was us that broke time.” said Charity. “I think it was probably that whole thing about Clone 315 not falling in lust with the right woman…”
“We can do this.” said Yolaris. “We’ll stealthily follow the samurai to wherever she’s being taken and then perform a daring midnight rescue.”
“Of course.” said Princess Fenrir. “You shouldn’t get your hopes up too high though. No matter who we rescue back here we’re not going to fix time. That’s up to Powergrando now.” Yolaris didn’t respond. He stared out across the town and waited in silence. It wasn’t long before a column of samurai warriors left the town and spotted Yolaris and Hailie drinking and laughing atop the nearby hill. They sneaked up on Yolaris and Hailie, which wasn’t that hard considering how inebriated they were then sprung. They grabbed Hailie immediately, and although she managed to flail around enough to make one of the samurai fall down she was unable to get away. Yolaris sped away, it was probably just by luck that he managed to stay ahead of the samurai. Actually it was probably just luck that he managed to stay upright. Present Yolaris, Charity and Princess Fenrir stalked the samurai in the darkness. Eventually they made their way to a white stone castle. It was heavily fortified with samurai guarding the gate and archers positioned along the rooftop.
“This could be a challenge.” said Yolaris. “I don’t suppose anyone’s got any experience of breaking an innocent woman out of a heavily fortified Japanese castle?”
“No.” said Charity. “But I did once break into Generosity’s house. I don’t think much of the experience will translate.”
“Don’t talk yourself down.” said Yolaris. “You must have picked the lock or kicked the door in or something. I’m sure there must be something that we can use.”
“Actually Generosity rather generously gave me the key.” said Charity.
“Probably not then.” said Yolaris. “Care to weigh in Fen?”
“Fen?” asked Charity.
“It’s a new nickname I’m trying out for her.” said Yolaris.
“Whatever.” said Charity. “Just don’t start calling me Char.”
“Fen?” asked Yolaris. He turned to Princess Fenrir, or more accurately to where Princess Fenrir had been mere minutes ago. “That isn’t a good sign.” He said somewhat worriedly. There was silence and he turned to Charity, or more accurately to where Charity had been mere seconds ago. “I’m worried now.” he said. “It’s probably not a coincidence that you’ve both gone missing.” Then Yolaris was grabbed from behind and knocked out.

24th July 1671
He woke up in a blacked out room in an uncomfortable wooden chair. His hands were cuffed behind his back and sat across the table from him was a dark silhouette.
“Yolaris.” the voice came from the silhouette. It was a woman’s voice and surprisingly light and childlike voice considering the situation. “Nice to meet you at last. You can call me the Baroness.”
“You’ll never get away with this!” said Yolaris defiantly.
“With what?” The Baroness asked innocently.
“I’m not sure, but you kidnapped my girlfriend so if there’s anything around here that you want to get away with I’ll stop you!” said Yolaris.
“How very well put.” said the Baroness. “You are with the Victorian girl then? I had wondered why this amazing gift would just walk right up to my doorstep.”
“Amazing gift?” asked Yolaris. He could see the silhouette shift and something was removed from a pocket. It was an orb that flowed with golden energy. The Baroness stuffed it back into a pocket.
“A device for travelling through time.” said the Baroness. There was a silence.
“You’ll never get away with this!” said Yolaris to fill up the silence.
“You know I thought I had a nice little empire here.” said the Baroness. “It wasn’t big but I was in control. People in my town didn’t sneeze without my say so. People lived their lives how I told them to and it was my little utopia. I thought it was my utopia of perfect order. Then you arrive; chaos poisoning the pool of order. And this: the Nyxalisk.”
“Excuse me the whatalisk?” asked Yolaris.
“I call it the Nyxalisk.” said the Baroness.
“As in obelisk?” queried Yolaris. “Surely you’re aware that it is spherical. Not in any way obelisk-like.”
“When it was your time device I’m sure you called it all kinds of shape appropriate names.” snapped the Baroness. “It’s mine now and I want to call it the Nyxalisk. When it arrived I saw the flaw in what I’d thought was my perfectly ordered utopia. It’s so small. So unambitious I might as well be ruling a colony of ants. I should be out there ruling over countries, over worlds. Spreading my gift of perfect order and I can do it. With the Nyxalisk I can do whatever I want Yolaris. You can’t stop me. None of you can. Not Powergrando or 315 or anyone.”
“How do you know about my friends?” asked Yolaris.
“I’ve been to the future.” said the Baroness. “I’ve seen what you’ve done to me; what you’re going to do to me. You know me Yolaris. You’re going to kill me.”
“Who are you?” asked Yolaris. The Baroness removed LF from her pocket fully and placed it on the table in front of her. It shone brightly and it illuminated her face. “Princess Hel?”
“One day I will be.” the Baroness replied. “Today I’m just Baroness Nyx.”
“But you’re dead.” said Yolaris.
“Not yet Yolaris.” said the Baroness. “Not for a long time yet and now that I know about it there’s so much I can do to stop it from ever happening. Think of it Yolaris. I could reach out for my Nyxalisk and within five minutes I could be killing you as you sleep before you even know I exist. Or I could kill your parents; I could stop you from ever being born.”
“No.” said Yolaris plainly. “You can’t do that. If you could you would be doing it rather than telling me about it.”
“You’re quite right of course.” said the Baroness. “But there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Killing people doesn’t solve anything. History needs to be eased apart to be changed. Killing people isn’t all I can do. You just wait and see, because I will save myself by any means necessary. One way or the other I’ll make sure you can never kill me.”
“I’ll stop you.” said Yolaris.
“Please do.” said the Baroness. “I’ll look forward to hearing how you managed to escape from my impenetrable dungeon and how you managed to travel to the future without a Nyxalisk of your own.” she paused. “But if somehow you don’t manage that then this is goodbye.” She grinned and reached for her ‘Nyxalisk’. “Guards, take him to the dungeon.” Yolaris felt a pain on the back of his head and he was unconscious again.

“So.” said Charity. “Let me get this straight. We’re trapped in a dungeon in 17th century Japan, with no means of leaving either the dungeon or 17th century Japan. Our time machine has been stolen by a woman who has already tried to kill us once in the future and she’s threatened to do unspecified unpleasant things to us before we even meet her. Does that about sum up our situation?”
“Yeah.” said Yolaris, rubbing his sore head. “That sounds about right.”
“And your hopeful of a quick rescue because why?” asked Charity.
“Because time is fixed.” said Yolaris. “Hel wouldn’t be able to use LF if it was still broken. And if time is fixed Powergrando will be back to rescue us at any second.” Yolaris was in one of the dungeons now. It was a stereotypical dungeon with bars across the windows and shackles on the walls and everything. There was even a man chained to the wall. He was lying on a thin mattress with Hailie sat at one end while Fenrir and Charity were lying on a mattress at the other side of the room.
“How does he know where we are?” asked Charity suspiciously.
“I wrote him a note telling him what had happened.” said Yolaris.
“There’s no escape you know.” said the man who was chained to the wall. The only way you could tell he was a man was because of his voice. He was completely covered in metal. Every part of him encased and anchored to the wall. Even his head was encased in a metal mask with just holes for breathing and eating. Printed in a heavy black font on his forehead was the number 17. “There’s no escape you know.” he repeatedly hopefully.
“Is there not?” asked Yolaris. “What a shame. Isn’t that a shame darling?”
“That is a shame.” said Hailie. “I’m going to have quite a bit of explaining to do to my parents when I get back.”
“That’s the beauty of it though.” said the man gleefully. “As there’s no escape you won’t be getting back, so I wouldn’t worry about having to explain anything to anyone.” he paused. “I’m 17 by the way.”
“Just because we can’t see you doesn’t mean you get to lie about your age.” said Fenrir. “From your voice alone you’ve got to be at least thirty.”
“I’m only twenty thank you very much.” snapped the man. “But I’m called 17.”
“Your name is 17?” asked Hailie curiously.
“No of course not.” said 17. “I can’t remember my name. I don’t really need to because everyone calls me 17.”
“Have you ever tried to escape 17?” asked Yolaris.
“No.” said 17. “Because there is none. It would be a total waste of my effort.”
“Surely it’s better than just hanging around all day?” asked Yolaris.
“I’m not just hanging around all day.” said 17. “I’m writing a novel.”
“That sounds like a good idea.” said Yolaris. “I bet you can imagine that you’re outside in the world when you write great fantastical, but still believable, adventures for your well rounded characters to undertake.”
“I sure can.” said 17. “It’s a great way to stop thinking about this dungeon, from which there is no escape.”
“So… what’s your novel about?” asked Yolaris.
“It’s essentially a story of action and heroism and adventure, but there’s plenty of juicy romance.” said 17. “The hero is a man called 17 who is trapped in a dungeon from which there is no escape.”
“Don’t you dare ask him where he gets his inspiration from.” said Fenrir.
“He’s just met some new friends who are also in the dungeon from which there’s no escape.” said 17 conversationally. “There’s Yolaris, a plucky young man who thinks he can escape but can’t, Hailie a kind young woman who thinks that she can escape but can’t, Princess Fenrir a logical young woman who isn’t convinced that she can escape and can’t and Charity. She’s 17s love interest.”
“I wouldn’t be so certain about that.” said Charity, she paused. “You better be right about getting out of here. I’d never be able to wear those stripy black and white prisoner clothes.”
“People don’t wear those any more.” said Hailie.
“That’s the point.” said Charity. “We are in the past you know.”
“What are you in here for?” asked Yolaris.
“The Baroness asked me out on a date and I said I’d have to think about it.” said 17.
“What?” asked Hailie visibly shocked.
“I know.” said 17. “It’s my fault really though. I was young and foolish. I don’t blame the Baroness for imprisoning me.” There was a pause. “I suppose she must have been rather fond of me though.”
“Nobody who locks you up and encases you in some kind of metal bodycage could ever be described as being fond of you.” said Hailie.
“Anyone else who didn’t say yes to her was executed.” said 17. “She must have been fond of me to light me off so lightly.”
“Yolaris…?” said Fenrir. “Shouldn’t we concentrate on coming up with an escape route from this dungeon?”
“Don’t bother.” said 17. “There is no escape.”
“No need.” said Yolaris. “Powergrando will be here to rescue us any minute now.” He paused. “Yep. Any minute now…”

23rd July 1672
“There really isn’t any escape you know.” said 17.
“I know.” said Yolaris. “How’s your latest novel coming on?”
“It’s great. I’ve decided to go in a different direction with this one. It’s about an inescapable dungeon that contains a man called 17.” said 17.
“It sounds like another masterpiece.” said Yolaris. “Where you get your ideas from I have no idea.” he paused. “I’ll see you next week then 17. If you need anything just talk to the guards. They’d be happy to oblige.”
“Thank you your majesty.” said 17. “I might even find a role for a kind and generous benefactor such as yourself in my latest novel.”
“I’ll look forward to it.” said Yolaris. He stood up and walked out of the dungeon. He’d wanted to let 17 go when he’d been made the new Baron but 17 had been curiously reticent. Yolaris supposed he’d been down there so long he was more comfortable in the dungeon. That the outside world would confuse and scare him. Yolaris made his way upstairs and up to his private chambers. It had been near the start of the year that it was apparent that the Baroness wasn’t coming back. The guards had let everyone go from the dungeons (except 17 of course). Charity took it upon herself to attempt to stage a coup using a stick of chewing gum, which she claimed was a futuristic weapon from the future. Surprisingly enough this had worked and now Yolaris was the Baron of this small town. Technically speaking Hailie was the only Baroness as she was the only one who was actually married to Yolaris, but since it had been Charity’s plan he made her and Fenrir baronesses as well.
As Yolaris walked up to his chambers he noticed the door was slightly ajar. Time seemed to slow down. He tensed up, drew a katana from his belt and silently pushed open the door, listening as he did so for any noises, any signs of intrusion. The living room seemed untouched but the door at the back, the door to the smallest bedroom was slightly open. He stalked, slowly and silently towards it and pushed open the door with his heart in his mouth. There was a man in a trenchcoat and fedora stood over the crib holding his son. Yolaris was about to lunge with his blade when the man turned around.
“It’s okay Yolaris.” he said. “It’s just me.”
“Powergrando?” asked Yolaris, sheathing the katana. “It’s about bloody time.” Powergrando’s face was shaded in the dark of an upturned collar and the brim of the fedora. There was a slight glow of silver.
“I can see that you’ve been here for a while.” said Powergrando. “Congratulations.” He put Yolaris Jr back into his crib and turned back to Yolaris who promptly punched him in the face. Powergrando fell backwards landing hard on the floor and Yolaris felt someone tap on his shoulder. He turned around and was promptly punched in the face by Powergrando. Yolaris hit the ground pretty hard while Powergrando just walked out of the room and into the living room. Yolaris climbed up and followed him. Powergrando had calmly sat down on the futon.
“How…?” asked Yolaris puzzled at Powergrando’s incredible turn of speed.
“I think I probably deserved that.” said Powergrando ignoring him. “I should have come for you earlier.”
“Damn straight.” said Yolaris, mentally shaking it off.
“I think you deserved yours as well.” said Powergrando. “So don’t get too high and mighty.”
“And why would that be?” asked Yolaris.
“Are you forgetting that you let LF fall into the hands of Princess Hel?” asked Powergrando.
“That wasn’t my fault.” said Yolaris.
“Maybe not.” said Powergrando. “But you should have been more careful. Time travel is a very powerful ability and not one that we can afford to fall into the wrong hands.” he paused. “You know, like the hands of Princess Hel.”
“I promise from now on I won’t give time travel devices to potential villainesses.” pledged Yolaris. The front door opened and Hailie walked in. “Good news Hailie! We’re rescued!” Hailie looked at Powergrando, sat in his fedora and trenchcoat and smiled.
“I knew Powergrando wouldn’t let us down.” said Hailie with a grin.
“Actually my name isn’t Powergrando any more.” he said.
“Pardon?” asked Yolaris.
“Call me Argent.” he said, removing his fedora and trenchcoat. It was Powergrando. He looked perhaps a year or so older than he had done before. But that was not the most striking thing about him. His eyes glowed silver. “Don’t worry it’s still me just from a slightly different time.”
“What happened to you?” asked Hailie.
“Do you know how time travel works?” asked Argent. “I’ll save you the long winded explanation that was inflicted upon me. Time travel is an innate ability of everyone. People generally don’t live long enough to perfect it. One way that people can live long enough to perfect it is to be accidentally banished to the void where you can live for eternity. A horrific torturous eternity but eternity nonetheless. This happened to LF. She was a person until she fell into the void. That which you know as Light Fast, that orb is her soul. The same thing happened to me. I’ve taken over the body of myself from an altered timeline.” There was silence.
“So LF is a person?” asked Yolaris.
“Yes.” said Argent. “Her name was Liquid Fox although she prefers to be called Light now. Or she will once she has a body.”
“And you were an orb?” asked Hailie.
“Yeah.” said Argent. “I spent a good few years locked in a vault in a castle in the Principality of Hel. And that was a highlight actually after the eternity I spent in the void.”
“So you can now travel in time at will?” asked Yolaris.
“Yes.” said Argent. “Hence how I punched you in the face a second after I’d fallen on my back before.”
“I had wondered about that.” said Yolaris. “Do you reckon there’s a way I could learn to time travel at will without having to spend a horrific torturous eternity anywhere?”
“I really hope not. I’d be incredibly annoyed if I did all that and later it turned out there was another way to travel through time that anyone could use without any ill effects.” said Argent.
“Yeah.” said Yolaris. “That would suck.”
“Anyway, I was thinking perhaps it is time to gather up your extended family and take the fight to Princess Hel?” asked Argent.
“Okay.” said Yolaris. “But we should take Hailie and Yolaris Jr somewhere safe.”
“Yolaris Jr?” asked Argent. “My father cannot be called Yolaris Jr.”
“And why not?” asked Yolaris defensively.
“Firstly because he isn’t called Yolaris Jr. He’s called Powergrando Jr.” said Argent. “And secondly if he’s called Yolaris Jr that would make me Yolaris the third.”
“You’re not using your name anyway.” said Yolaris. “Why not just be called Yolaris the third?”
“No.” said Argent. “You can’t go messing around with the past. You have to call the baby Powergrando Jr.”
“No.” said Hailie. “He’s called Yolaris Jr because I love Yolaris. I’m not naming my child after someone I’ve never even met.”
“Okay fine.” said Argent dismissively. “There’s more important business at hand but we’ll deal with this later. I need to take you and Yolaris Jr back to 1886. It’s not going to be safe for you where we’re going.”
“No.” said Hailie. “I want to come with you. I love Yolaris and I would follow him anywhere.”
“I understand that you love him but you just can’t come with us.” said Argent. “You need to be alive to take care of little Yolaris Jr here because he’s going to be my father one day.”
“Not if I have to leave Yolaris.” said Hailie.
“You have to do what he says Hay.” said Yolaris. “I won’t see you in harm’s way and that’s the end of it.” Yolaris walked into Yolaris Jr’s room and brought him out to his mother. Yolaris kissed her. “I’ve got to do this Hay. I’ll be back with you soon.”
“Okay.” she said. “I love you Yolaris.”
“I love you too Hailie.” said Yolaris. Argent took her hand and they blurred and vanished. Just a couple of seconds later he was walking through the door with Charity and Princess Fenrir following him hand in hand. They were wearing matching red kimonos, cut incredibly short, with their massive army boots. It gave them something of a disjointed look.
“Turns out you were right Yolaris.” said Charity. “Powergr… I mean Argent has come back to rescue us. Better late than never I suppose…”
“Okay yeah you’re right.” said Yolaris. “I’m really thankful that you’ve come and we’re getting rescued and everything. I guess I just resented that I was stuck back here and I blamed it on you and it wasn’t fair.”
“It’s no problem.” said Argent. “Although, at risk of having you resent me again I’m afraid you can never see Hailie again.”
“What?!” demanded Yolaris.
“It’s clear that my grandmother’s love for you is going to get in the way. Changing the past is dangerous and Hailie is part of the past. Part of my past.” said Argent quickly. “To not intervene now would be foolish. If something goes wrong you two could accidentally erase my whole existence.” Yolaris drew his katana.
“You might want to rethink this Yolaris.” said Charity. “He’s…”
“You will not prevent me from seeing my wife and child.” Yolaris interrupted her angrily.
“I’m sorry but I have to.” said Argent. “If something went wrong it would not only negate my whole existence but create one of the biggest and most complicated paradoxes in the world. This paradox with 315 is bad but it’d be nothing compared to what could happen if you stay with Hailie.”
“No.” said Yolaris. He swung towards Argent but found himself slicing through empty air.
“There’s a thing called the Time Agency.” said Argent from behind him. “Do you know what they do?” Yolaris brought his katana around in an arc, but it did nothing Argent was gone again. “They fix paradoxes. I don’t approve of their methods and I’m guessing if Hailie got caught up in their methods you wouldn’t either.” said Argent, he was now lying on the futon. Yolaris swung his katana again but he only ended up ruining the futon. “They kill everyone involved you know. That’d be you, me, Hailie, your son. Everyone. Even that nice prisoner Mr 17.” Yolaris swung again. “That would be what they would do, and they would do it until you were all dead. But right now it isn’t their decision.” Yolaris lunged at Argent hitting only empty air again. “Right now it’s your decision.” Yolaris’ blade stopped in mid arc. “If you want to carry on seeing her and all those people die it’ll be your fault.” Yolaris hesitated and lowered his blade.
“Can’t I even say goodbye?” he asked eventually.
“Yes.” said Argent. “Of course, but not yet. We have pressing work to do.”
“Hey Yolaris.” said Fenrir. “Here’s an idea, next time we’re being rescued from a year of being stuck thousands of years in the past don’t start a fight with your rescuer. Especially not a fight that could potentially kill your rescuer.”
“Yeah I guess I wasn’t really thinking…” he admitted awkwardly as he sheathed his weapon.
“I didn’t know you were so adept with a blade Yolaris.” said Argent. “You could have had me there. Had I not had control of time and space.”
“He’s been learning to swordfight to kill Hel.” said Princess Fenrir. “He doesn’t see the problem.”
“You know how Princess Hel dies Yolaris.” said Argent, sitting down on the ruined futon. “If she dies before 315 kills her at the millennium then it creates a paradox, and as we know how the Time Agency abhors a paradox.”
“They’ll kill everyone?” asked Yolaris. “These Time Agency people are really starting to get on my nerves.”
“Indeed.” said Argent. “We have to stop Princess Hel without killing her and we have to force her to go willingly to her own death.”
“How do you propose we do that?” asked Princess Fenrir.
“I’m still working on that.” said Argent. “We just have to hope something comes along.”
“You know how monumentally unlikely that would be?” asked Yolaris.
“There’s a better chance that we’ll all suddenly discover we came from the same orphanage but forgot because we were affected by time radiation from time travel.” said Argent. “But if you have a better idea then I’d be very grateful to hear it.”
“Could you take over her mind with your powers or something?” asked Charity.
“Not a bad idea but at this point in time my psychic powers are still rather rudimentary.” said Argent. “I can just about implant an emotion into someone’s head but that’s it.” Argent paused to consider something. “We do have one advantage though. In 2000 when she died she sealed up her tower in an inescapable void. Hel’s younger self would have been unable to enter the void or the tower without drawing attention to herself. She’ll be unaware of the actual events that led up to her death.” Argent paused to consider something. “She’ll try and do whatever she can to stop us from killing her.”
“Yeah, that’s the problem.” Yolaris said.
“But that’s what she did the first time, when she made me swear an oath and then she had that antifashion thing on you.” said Argent. “That’s what she’ll be doing. She’ll go back to 1989 to after I publicly announced the invention of time travel and trick me into forming a pact with her. That happened, so that’s okay. But we can go there and follow her to prevent her from doing anything else that might compromise us.” He looked up and looked at each of them in turn. “Hel cannot know we are there. That’s the only place we know where she’s going to be. If we’re spotted it’s all for nothing. Ready?” They nodded and then the world around them blurred and unblurred somewhere new.

9th January 1989
Helmarket is part of the slums even by the Principality of Hel’s standards and the Principality of Hel has some pretty lax standards. For example it is always nighttime there, and not just nighttime but an eternal night. It’s primal in nature and carries with it the fear that death might lurk around any corner. Hel’s night is the kind of night that things go bump in. There are also constant meteor showers battering at the land and occasionally jets of flame will shoot up through the ground for no discernable reason. Half of Helmarket is populated by sentient plants that get their kicks on giving kickings to any humans that look at them funny. The other half of Helmarket is comprised of thieves, smugglers and other miscellaneous ne’er-do-wells. Argent looked right at home in his slightly suspicious trenchcoat and fedora combination. Yolaris reckoned he probably looked enough like some kind of dangerous mercenary to keep any would be attackers at bay. Fenrir and Charity on the other hand had attracted a small crowd at first, right up until Charity had punched out a man who’d tried it on with Fenrir.
“What were you doing here anyway?” asked Yolaris.
“Selling something I’d just invented.” said Argent. “Pirated HD DVDs.”
“Pardon?” asked Yolaris.
“They’re the format of the future. Like regular DVDs but more HDier. I guess I should probably have realised that they wouldn’t sell very well until someone invented a HD DVD player.” said Argent. “Nevermind, we did manage to sell a couple as shiny drinks coasters.” They were sat around a table outside a bar discreetly overlooking a past version of Powergrando and Chastity. A venus fly trap was drinking at a nearby table and glancing over to them every now and again in a way that made Yolaris slightly concerned for their safety. Argent was the first to notice Princess Hel heading through the crowd. She was wearing a large embroidered cloak as part of her disguise that she was a psychic who had seen bad things in the future.
“She said she had important information about the future.” said Argent. “That she wanted to share it with me but that she needed me to swear an oath that I would not let her come to harm. If I’d been half as clever as I claim to be I’d have wondered about the wording of that oath.” They watched as the past Powergrando and Princess Hel talked. Princess Hel turned and started making her way through the crowd. “I actually trusted her. I thought she was putting her life on the line so I believed her.” Argent said thoughtfully.
“Argent, she’s leaving.” said Yolaris, who was poised and ready to go.
“It’s only that I was suspicious of her that I retrieved Clone 315 from 2012 rather than 2010.” said Argent thoughtfully. “I wonder why I was suspicious of her.”
“Does that matter?” asked Charity. “Aren’t we supposed to be following her?”
“Maybe.” said Argent. “You go. I need a second.” Yolaris exchanged glances with Charity and Princess Fenrir and shrugged. They stood up and made their way into the throng. Yolaris spotted Hel vanishing into an alleyway and started to push his way through the crowd. Yolaris accidentally barged into some stinging nettles who started shouting abuse at him. As he ran on a vine from a large Otyugh plant grabbed him. The vine hoisted him up into the air over the crowd. Charity and Princess Fenrir paused to look up at him.
“Go!” he shouted above the hubbub of a crowd that was rapidly turning into a mob. Charity half turned to run after Hel, but stopped and looked at Fenrir.
“Go.” Fenrir insisted. “I’ll be right behind you.” Charity nodded and ran on through the crowd after Princess Hel.
“Okay!” Yelled Yolaris to the crowd. “I don’t want any trouble. If you’ll just let me down then there won’t be any and we can all go about our business!” He looked out across the crowd. The humans were starting to pull sharp objects and guns out of concealed pockets. The plants all seemed to be preparing their spines or spores or whatever it was that they tend to fight with. Yolaris sighed. “Fine.” he said, pulling his katana from it’s scabbard and slicing through the Otyugh vine in one swift movement. There was a moment of silence then the whole crowd erupted. Yolaris grabbed Princess Fenrir’s hand and followed her, ducking through the scrum of plants and humans. Mixtures of sap and blood were flying through the air along with dismembered vines, petals and the occasional limb. They ducked through the crowd heading into an alleyway. They turned around to look out at the crowd, which was now in full riot mode. It appeared that the cause of the riot had been forgotten and the plants and humans were just enjoying this opportunity for needless brutality.
“Your money or your life?” asked a bristly voice from behind them. They looked back and saw that the alleyway was blocked by a mass of creeper vines holding a large knife.
“You wouldn’t happen to accept Japanese Yen from 1672 would you?” asked Princess Fenrir.
“What do I look like, a bureau de change?” asked the creeper vines.
“Hello Mr Creeper Vine.” said Yolaris impatiently flourishing his katana. “If you don’t move aside in the next five seconds I’m going to hack at your vines until this alleyway looks like it’s suffered from a spaghetti explosion.”
“Call me Vinnie.” said the creeper, extending a portion of vines for a friendly handshake “Mr Creeper Vine is my dad.”
“Don’t care.” said Yolaris. He brought his katana around in an arc slicing through the vines, then pushed his way through any vines that remained rigid.
“He seemed like an alright kind of guy.” said Princess Fenrir. “You know, aside from the fact that he was mugging us.” The alleyway was a dead end and it was empty. Fenrir looked worried and hurried to the end of the alley.
“She should be here.” she said panicking. “Charity!” Yolaris turned and spotted Argent at the mouth of the alley being chased by a giant black rose, it’s razor sharp petals chomping at the air seconds behind him.
“Argent!” Yolaris yelled. As Argent looked at him Yolaris drew his katana and threw it, point first towards Argent. At the last second Argent flickered forward in time allowing the katana to pass through the empty space where he’d been and bury itself in the giant black rose, which stumbled and fell to a halt with an ear piercing screech. Argent pulled the katana out of the dead body of the rose and walked up to Yolaris and Fenrir.
“Good job at staying undetected.” said Argent sarcastically. He passed the katana to Yolaris. “You might want to wipe that with a rag first. It’ll be covered in rose pollen.” In terms of sentient and malicious plants the word pollen can be equated to the word venom, but worse.
“Charity is missing.” panicked Fenrir. “She should be here.”
“It’s okay.” said Argent. “We’ll find her. Don’t worry.” he paused. “Hel must have time travelled.” He licked the tip of his finger and held it up as though trying to discern which way the wind was blowing, and stared off into the distance. “Outskirts of Jormungandr… 2007… October… the nineteenth… Just before Midnight.” He wiped his finger and then looked at Yolaris and Fenrir. “Presumably Hel saw Charity following her and to get rid of her grabbed her and time travelled with her. She will be unaware that I can follow her through time so there is a chance that she will have headed straight on to her next destination however she probably wouldn’t want to bring Charity there. She’ll likely have just travelled to this time to dump Charity a long time away from where she actually wants to be. If we make sure to arrive after Hel has gone we’ll still have the advantage as she won’t know how easily I can follow her through time.” Argent paused. “Ready?” Fenrir nodded impatiently, her eyes glistening.
“What happened before?” asked Yolaris. “With all the being suspicious and everything?”
“I said before that my psychic abilities only extend so far as to implant an emotion into someone’s head.” said Argent quickly. “I couldn’t understand where my sudden suspicion had come from back then but it became clear to me just before that I had implanted that suspicion so I wouldn’t do exactly as she asked. A move that saved us as I wouldn’t have got the 2012 version of Clone 315 otherwise.” He paused again. “Ready now?” Yolaris nodded and the alleyway blurred.

20th July 2007
When the world unblurred they were stood waist high in a pool of cold water. The only illumination was coming from the full moon hanging in the night sky. They appeared to be in the courtyard of a hotel complex. Sunbeds and umbrellas were arranged around the pool. Creepily even though it was night and, judging from the coldness of the air, the off-season most of the sunbeds still had towels laid out on them. Drinks sat untouched on tables. Here and there were signs of a struggle, or a panic: a glass lay smashed on the floor, a couple of sunbeds that had been knocked over. An abandoned lilo was floating in the corner of the pool.
“Don’t you look where you’re going when you’re time travelling?” asked Yolaris as they made their way to the side of the pool and climbed out.
“When you can navigate through four dimensional space then you can complain.” said Argent. “Besides the cold is bracing.” Yolaris snatched a towel of a nearby sunbed and started drying himself off.
“Did Hel do this?” asked Fenrir anxiously.
“If it was then we’ve been underestimating her somewhat.” said Argent. “No, I think this happened a long time ago.”
“That doesn’t make this any less creepy you know.” said Yolaris. “In fact it makes it worse.” Argent shrugged.
“It’s probably nothing.” said Argent. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” A scream rang out across the courtyard coming from the direction of the hotel. “Well fear itself and whatever it was that did that.” Argent corrected himself.
“Charity!” Fenrir said quickly. “We have to help her.” she turned and ran past the sunbeds, up a short flight of stairs and to the hotel proper. Yolaris started to run after her, but stopped when Argent was still examining the pool.
“Argent!” he exclaimed.
“There’s temporal energy around here.” said Argent. “I should investigate it. You go and find the girls. I won’t be ten minutes.”
“Come on Argent. I don’t want to spend a year here in the world’s creepiest hotel.” Argent raised an eyebrow at him. “Okay, not fair. Right so you know in horror films how they split up and then everyone dies.”
“That’s just films.” said Argent. “We’re not in a horror film. We’re just in a creepy hotel that has been abandoned for some unknown reason…” he paused. “Okay I get your point, no splitting up.” They turned and ran after Princess Fenrir, climbing up the steps and ran around to the reception of the hotel. A massive sign on the otherwise glass front of the hotel proclaimed this was the Silent Halls Hotel. They walked through the glass doors taking a moment to survey their surroundings. The reception desk had been knocked over and the floor was covered in torn scraps of paper. Yolaris drew his katana from its sheath and made his way across the reception, a heavy wooden door at the other side of the lobby stood slightly ajar. Yolaris and Argent slowly made their way across to the open door and looked inside, it appeared to have been a dining room at one point, but all the tables had been shoved unceremoniously against the walls. The ground was covered in broken plates and unfinished scraps of a meal. In the middle of the room stood Princess Fenrir and behind her Charity. Fenrir was stood back as if in shock at what she had seen. Yolaris sheathed his katana as he and Argent ran in. Charity was holding a steak knife tightly in one hand. The knife was dripping blood as were her other arm and her exposed legs. She was also wearing a weird black hat with a circular top and a small visor.
“Charity?” asked Fenrir nervously. Charity carried on staring into nothingness as though she couldn’t see or hear Fenrir. She sliced the knife along her other hand, causing blood to stream out, but not even flinching. Fenrir dashed to her and attempted to grab the knife from out of her hand, Charity seemed to focus on her then, jamming the knife into Fenrir’s arm. Fenrir screamed and fell back onto the floor.
“Mine!” Charity said angrily. Fenrir scrabbled backwards away from Charity, ignoring the pain from her wound.
“What’s going on?!” she cried plaintively. Yolaris turned to Argent expectantly.
“I don’t know!” said Argent. “I’ve never been here before. For all I know it’s that creepy hat she’s wearing somehow controlling her.”
“You’re right!” exclaimed Fenrir. “She’d never wear a hat like that. Hats like that were never in fashion.”
“No come on.” said Argent. “You can’t possibly think she’s being mind controlled by a hat is a good theory?” Yolaris shrugged.
“It is rather an ugly hat.” he said. Argent sighed.
“I don’t know how ever coped without me.” said Argent as he flickered behind Charity. “Look!” he said as he removed the ugly hat. “It’s not the hat.” Charity screamed and fell to the ground sobbing. “Okay maybe it is the hat.” Argent reconsidered and cast it aside. Fenrir rushed up to Charity and held her in her arms. Yolaris noticed something moving out of the corner of his eye. He turned to the door and saw people in the door. Actually people might not have been the best word. They were all thin, as though they were slowly starving. Their skin covered in a patchwork of scars, most with fresh blood still coming from fresh cuts. Their eyes hollow and dead and all of them wearing the ugly black hats and carrying blades.
“Erm… Argent.” said Yolaris. “I think we have something of an issue.”
“Hat Zombies!” Argent exclaimed seeing the crowd.
“Hat Zombies?” Yolaris asked incredulously.
“Not struck on Hat Zombies?” asked Argent. “How do you feel about Hombies? Or possibly even Zats?”
“I feel we should spend more time running away from them than discussing what they are.” said Yolaris.
“Fine.” said Argent flickering over to Fenrir and Charity and helping them to their feet. “Through the kitchen.” he continued. “I want to go back to the pool. I think Hel cleverly doubled back on herself in order to try and throw me off the scent.” Yolaris unsheathed his katana and held it ready to use on any of the hat zombies that got too near. Argent opened the door to the kitchen, prompting a hat zombie in a chef’s uniform (minus the hat obviously) to leap at him with a butchers knife. He flickered behind the hat zombie and punched it in the face as it turned back to him. The punch opened up some barely closed facial wounds but didn’t much help otherwise.
“Yolaris!” Argent yelled. “Little help.” Yolaris finally turned his back on the crowd of hat zombies and rushed into the kitchen. He thrust the blade into the body of the hat zombie and pulled back. For a second there was no reaction at all. It didn’t collapse or die or anything. Then a large thorn speared through it’s chest and vines started to emerge from the cuts all over it’s body, rapidly growing and rooting the hat zombie in place. The hat zombie threw it’s head back as a large black rose blossomed out of it’s throat, and then it went limp, although thorns continued to pierce through it’s skin. There was a pause.
“That was awesome!” said Yolaris more than a little shocked.
“Yes it was.” said Argent evenly. “Now let us never speak of it again.” Yolaris spun around to note that the rest of the hat zombies were making their way towards them and kicked open the kitchen door to a path at the back of the hotel complex. Argent led the way, followed by Fenrir, who was still supporting Charity and with Yolaris at the rear watching out for any hat zombies following them. They made their way back to the pool area. Fenrir and Charity sat down on a sunbed while Powergrando was doing whatever it was he was doing in the pool. Yolaris stood guard with his katana drawn.
“Right.” said Argent emerging from the pool. “We can go now.”
“You sure?” asked Yolaris. “Only I just thought of the best hat-zombie pun and it’d be a shame to leave without ever using it.”
“Yep.” said Argent looking at Charity who was sobbing. “The trail is pretty weak now, so I can’t guarantee we’ll get there at the same time as Hel.”
“The pun was Zomburg.” said Yolaris.
“How long are we talking?” asked Fenrir. “Minutes? Hours?”
”You see it’s like a combination of zombie and homburg.” explained Yolaris.
“Maybe a day or two before or after.” said Argent. “Can’t be certain.”
”Because a homburg is a type of hat.” Yolaris persisted.
“Shut up and get over here Yolaris.” said Argent. Yolaris sighed and walked back over to Argent. The world started to blur.

17th March 1999
Suddenly they were stood in a busy upscale restaurant. Everything looked very fancy, the kind of place that you could only get into if you’d made a reservation a year or two beforehand. Luckily, because of the general busyness of the restaurant nobody seemed to notice their sudden apparition. Fenrir helped Charity over to a chair at an empty table and began examining her wounds. Argent and Yolaris joined them.
“Are you okay Charity?” asked Argent. Charity nodded slowly. “It’s okay Charity. If you’d like we could go and rest a while.”
“No.” said Charity. “Back at the hotel. When we got there we fought. She dragged me all the way inside and forced that hat onto my head.” she paused. “She did this to me. I want to go after her.”
“Let us sort you out first though.” said Fenrir. “You’re in pretty bad shape.”
“Okay Princess.” said Charity. There was a pause.
“So where and when are we Arge?” asked Yolaris.
“Arge?” asked Argent raising his eyebrow meaningfully.
“Fine. I won’t give anyone any nicknames then.” said Yolaris grumpily. “Where are we Argent?”
“It’s the 17th of March 1999.” said Argent. “And we are at…” he glanced at the menu on the table in front of him. “The Bad Wolf Restaurant.”
“Bad Wolf?” asked Yolaris. “I’ve heard that before. I’ve been hearing that a lot lately. Everywhere we go, two words following us: Bad Wolf.”
“Are you sure?” asked Argent. Yolaris paused and looked dramatically thoughtful.
“Now that you mention it I don’t think I’ve ever heard those two words in the whole of my life.” said Yolaris. “And that could possibly be even more frightening.”
“No, it’s not more scary.” sighed Argent. “It’s just you being an idiot.” he nodded towards a table at the other side of the room. “Look there you are.”
“Oh yeah.” said Yolaris. “That’s where I recognised it from. I knew I’d heard it somewhere.” A waiter with the face of a raccoon approached the table.
“Good evening.” said the waiter. “Can I take your order?”
“I’d like…” started Yolaris.
“No wait hang on.” interrupted Argent. “I’ve dealt with people who look like animals before. What we need to establish is whether he’s actually a raccoon pretending to be a waiter, whether he’s a waiter with a pet raccoon or whether he’s just a waiter who looks like a raccoon.”
“Why?” asked Fenrir.
“Because we can’t continue the story until this joke has been covered.” Argent explained. “It’s just the way the universe works.”
“Actually.” said the waiter. “The answer is none of the above. You see I am serving this face of a raccoon to the lady on table 12.” He indicated the plate he was carrying, on which was the face of a raccoon.
“Ahh.” said Argent with a grin. “See. It was a clever subversion of the joke.” he paused. “Okay I’m done now. Order what you want.”
“I’d like…” Yolaris began again.
“I’d like to order some bandages.” interrupted Fenrir, “Rather quite urgently in fact.”
“Don’t be stupid.” said Yolaris. “They don’t serve bandages.”
“Actually this is a really upscale restaurant.” said the waiter. “We do serve bandages.” he turned to Fenrir. “What would you like on the side? Ointment or rubbing alcohol?”
“Rubbing alcohol definitely.” she said.
“Oh and before I go I have to enquire as to why one of you is dressed in a soaked to the waist trenchcoat and fedora combination, another of you is dressed like a soldier and has a very large katana from the seventeenth century if I’m not mistaken, and the other two of you are dressed in kimonos and army boots are covered in blood.” said the waiter.
“We’re at a fancy dress party.” said Argent.
“No, I believe you are in a really upscale restaurant.” said the waiter.
“This isn’t fancy dress night?” asked Argent shocked. The waiter shook his head. “So why are you dressed like that?”
“I thought it was fancy dress night too.” said the waiter. “But it turns out there’s no such thing as fancy dress night and they’ve fired me on grounds of mental instability.”
“Good to know.” said Argent. “So if you could just get those bandages.”
“Coming right up sir.” said the waiter as he turned and walked away.
“And some gammon steak would be nice too…” said Yolaris hopelessly. “I never got to order the last time I was here either.” he added thoughtfully.
“That’s a point.” said Argent. “You never mentioned what you were doing here.” he paused and gestured towards Past Yolaris at the other table. “I mean what you are doing over there.”
“I came here on a date.” said Yolaris. “Back before I became a big time fashion superstar I was briefly dating a girl called HELen.” Yolaris coughed. “Sorry I appear to have placed an undue amount of emphasis on the first half of her name for some reason. Anyway as I recall she liked to be called PRINCESS.” he coughed again. “Do you think she has some kind of connection to Princess Hel?”
“Did you bang your head while you were in the past?” asked Argent. “No don’t answer that.” he paused. “Right so Hel is trying to forge a relationship with Yolaris here so that he won’t kill her when it comes down to it. Hence we need to split them up.”
“You’re up then Argent.” said Charity. “Go and convince Past Yolaris that Hel is your wife and she’s cheating on you.” Argent nodded and walked over to the table where Past Yolaris and Princess Hel were having a romantic date complete with romantic candles and everything.
“How could you Helen!” Argent wailed theatrically. “Doesn’t our love mean anything to you any more? When you said you loved me and you would never leave were you lying the whole time?” he paused. “What about our children eh? Did you even think of little Hans and Abigail when you went out and broke my heart? How are they going to react? How could you do this to poor Hans. You know he’s blind and has no legs and a heart condition. The news that his mother is a cheating whore who can’t be trusted might just kill him!”
“Okay Powergrando.” said Hel. “You’ve made your point. I’ll leave Yolaris alone.” she paused. “It’s actually kind of a relief. If I had to hear one more anecdote about a celebrity wearing a fashionable piece of clothing I’d be ready to let myself die.”
“In that case have you heard about what Princess Jormungandr is wearing at the moment?” asked Argent hopefully. Hel sneered at him, grabbed her coat from the back of the chair and turned to exit the restaurant. She paused.
“See you soon Powergrando.” she said, blowing him a kiss. Argent caught Present Yolaris’ eye and gestured towards the door.
“Wait.” said Past Yolaris. “What just happened?”
“You dumped her.” said Argent. “Really liking the rainbow pinstripe suit by the way. Not a lot of people could pull that one off.”
“Oh I know.” said Past Yolaris. “I’ve been nominated for this really prestigious fashion award. They say it can totally change your life. I’m not so sure. I mean sure it’s shiny and shiny things are nice but I don’t think it would have any impact on my life whatsoever.”
“Yeah you’re probably right.” said Argent. “Nice meeting you.” he turned and headed for the door out into the street meeting Present Yolaris there. Princess Hel was leaning against the wall just outside the door.
“Hello Yolaris.” she said. “Always a pleasure to see you. And Powergrando as well, aren’t you are looking mysterious nowadays.”
“Okay Argent.” said Yolaris. “Now would be a good time for something to just turn up.” Hel raised an eyebrow.
“Why do you boys have such a vendetta against me?” asked Princess Hel. “I’m just trying to save myself. You’ve seen my methods. I’m not trying to kill any of you. I’m just trying to stay alive. Is that really such a terrible thing?”
“Yes.” said Argent. “You aren’t trying to kill any of us, but only because you know it wouldn’t do you any good.” He paused. “You understand the rules of time travel. You can change your future so long as you don’t significantly impact on someone else’s past. If you could save yourself by killing us all then you would in an eyeblink.”
“I would.” said Hel. “And I will. There’s nothing you can do that will make me willingly go to my own death. You can’t kill me. In the end you’ll have to let me go and when I do I’ll make sure I survive our encounter and I’ll make sure that you don’t.”
“I doubt it.” said Yolaris. “It wasn’t that long ago that you were lecturing me on how you were going to build a utopia of ultimate Order. I’ve been out there and I’ve seen the Principality of Hel. It’s no shining monument to Order.”
“Order is boring dearie.” said Hel. “Get with the program. I had Order. Order was stagnation with a pretty name attached to it. Ultimate Order is hellish. Hel on the other hand is my expression of Ultimate Chaos. It’s the true utopia. Rest assured I will survive. After all I am a princess. I always get what I want.”
“Not this time Princess.” said Argent.
“Thought of a way to stop me have you?” asked Hel. “Look at you Powergrando, a new name and a new look. How very chic. How very mysterious. It suits you.” she paused. “I’d fuck you. You know if you weren’t such a boring square intent on my death I definitely would.” There was a pause while Argent fumed at her.
“I will stop you.” he said.
“So, am I free to go now?” Hel asked innocently.
“Go to Hell.” Argent said. Hel grinned, gave Argent a peck on the cheek and walked away.
“Is that really such a good idea?” asked Yolaris. “Just letting her walk away?”
“It’s the best idea we’ve got.” said Argent. “Lets get Fenrir and Charity and get out of here.” They headed back into the restaurant and to their table where Fenrir was bandaging up Charity’s wounds.
“How are you feeling?” asked Yolaris.
“I’m fine.” Charity said. “Just a little woozy.” She paused. “Well? Aren’t we chasing after Hel?”
“I want to.” said Yolaris. “I want to make her suffer for all that she’s done, but we can’t.” He paused. “We had her there in the street outside and there was nothing we could do. We need to rethink things.”
“No.” said Argent. “Something will turn up.”
“Blind hope isn’t going to stop her.” said Yolaris. “We need a concrete plan. A way to manipulate her into doing what we want her to.”
“No.” said Argent. “Trust me, something will turn up.”
“What?” asked Yolaris.
“I can’t tell you.” said Argent. “You won’t like it. But it will work.”
“Fine.” said Yolaris. “We chase her then. Where to? More importantly when to?”
“July 23rd 2010. Clone 315’s house.” said Argent.

July 22nd 2010
Suddenly they were stood at the top of Clone 315’s street.
“Technically speaking this is the 22nd.” said Argent. “But that’s the only way to get into Clone 315’s house nowadays. The Time Agency have put up what amount to huge space-time roadblocks all around the site of the paradox.” They walked in silence into Clone 315’s house, ignoring the resident mole and making their way upstairs into the main bedroom. Yolaris nipped into the bathroom and got some bandages out of the first aid kit for Charity. Argent advised Yolaris to write a note and stick it to the door saying occupied as there would be more people heading up here before the night was through. Charity and Fenrir shared the bed, but just lay in each others arms uneasy about the developments of the day. Yolaris sat slumped against the wall thinking about what this mysterious thing that was going to turn up would be. Eventually he drifted into an uneasy sleep while Argent sat on the edge of the windowsill staring out into the night.

July 23rd 2010
“Wake up.” hissed Argent. “It’s about to start.” Argent unlocked and opened the bedroom door. “Tread carefully. 315 is asleep with Lust Potion down there.” Yolaris stood up and stretched. He ached from sleeping in such an obviously uncomfortable position. Fenrir and Charity got out of bed and they all made their way downstairs and outside into the cool morning air.
“So what is it?” asked Yolaris. “Even if I don’t like it it’s got to be done right?”
“Don’t worry about it.” said Argent. “And don’t worry I’ll take care of Charity and Fenrir.”
“I wasn’t worried. I am now though.” said Yolaris. “Just tell me.”
“Here she comes.” said Argent. He nodded towards Hel who was walking towards the house. She was wearing a chequered shirt, plain grey pants and odd socks. She looked just like she would when she was killed in 2000. “Confront her.” said Argent. Yolaris walked out in front of her and for a second they just looked at one another.
“Got a way to stop me yet?” she asked nonplussed.
“Nope.” said Yolaris.
“Hey guess what.” she said enthusiastically. “I found a way to prevent you three,” she gestured to Yolaris, Fenrir and Charity, “from killing me and I don’t even need to go out with you. Which let me tell you is one hell of a relief. I call it Antifashion. It’s the exact opposite of fashion. You’ll be rendered impotent by it. You won’t even be able to look at me, never mind kill me.” She paused. “Nothing?” she said. “No dramatic oaths of vengeance? No claims that ‘I’ll never get away with it’? No unveiling of your masterplan?” She paused again. “You’re no fun! I’m going to go and wake up Clone 315. Once he falls in lust with me he’ll never be able to kill me. I’ll have stopped you all. I will have won.”
“Hello you two.” said a cheerful voice emerging from the darkness. “Nice night for it. Whatever it is that you’re out here for that is.” Yolaris spun around to see that Argent, Princess Fenrir and Charity had vanished. ‘I’m not going to like this’ he thought. “Nice to meet you both. I’m The Doctor.” Yolaris turned to look at the man walking out of the darkness. He appeared to be formed from purple and black light. He was wearing a long brown coat and glasses. “On behalf of the Time Agency I’d like to offer you both a job.” He clicked his fingers and suddenly the world was engulfed in a searing white light and Yolaris was unable to move. He could see that a purple and black block of light behind Hel had frozen her with some kind of white beam of light. The blockish thing proceeded to hoist her up, Hel was seemingly of no weight, and carry her off to a large black and purple box. “I’d like you to meet Tangles Mecha-Chi and Mecha-Psi.” said the Doctor gesturing to the large blockish thing behind Hel and to one that was presumably behind Yolaris. As he was brought into the massive box he was shocked. “Yes I know.” said the Doctor, responding to a question that hadn’t been asked. “It’s bigger on the outside than it is on the inside.” The box had been the size of a shed from the outside, inside there was barely enough room for them all to stand up. “It’s supposed to be the other way around but I’m not 100% sure how to work the damn thing. Company cars are the same whatever time you come from, even if they are more of a time machine than a car.” The Doctor started fiddling with some of the switches on the wall. “It’s called a TARDIS. It stands for Time Agency Relaying Device of Immediate Speed, which I don’t think actually means anything more than it moves people from one place and time to another. We’re just going to go on a quick jaunt to the Time Agency Laboratories. No need to worry. You’ll be part of the Time Agency family in no time flat. Here we are.” He turned to the frozen Hel and Yolaris and grinned massively. “Allons-y!” He pushed open the door and stepped out into a sterile white laboratory.

13th December 2086
The blockish things carried Yolaris and Hel out into the massive sterile laboratory. The room was filled with TARDISes and Tangles doing various tasks. Yolaris could see several more people being moved by the paralysing white light. The Doctor shepherded them towards a dark room that offset from the massive laboratory. In this room there was a large circular outline in the middle of the room encompassing a chair. A large sphere hung from the ceiling over the chair. Several sharp silver points protruded from various orifices on the sphere. Further silver points protruded from the circular outline on the floor. Hel was being moved and forced down into the chair by the Tangle that was moving her. Once in the chair there were several clicks and straps had engaged to lock her down into the chair. She started shouting and screaming, primarily at Yolaris as though he were somehow the architect of this situation. The silver points extended trailing wires behind them. They swung down and stabbed into Hel’s back, into the base of her spine. Yolaris wished he could turn away or close his eyes but the paralysing white light made him watch Hel’s agony as the wires plunged into her body. Then suddenly she stopped and her emotion seemed to drain from her body. Her eyes flickered purple briefly and the wires disengaged.
“Don’t worry Yolaris.” said the Doctor. “She’s at one with the Tanglemind now.” The straps that had locked her down into the chair unlocked and Hel stood up and walked to the Doctor’s side. Yolaris was manhandled to the chair and forced into it. It locked shut on him before he could even react. He looked at the Doctor and Hel, now stood placidly by his side, and sighed inwardly.
“This better be worth it.” he said.
“Don’t worry. You won’t feel a thing.” lied the Doctor as the wires drove themselves into his nerves and into his spine.
“Now would be a good time for a rescue.” he screamed. Then suddenly it stopped and the world was a much clearer place. The Doctor was only doing this to help him, Yolaris realised. He realised a lot that moment. That the world would be a lot better place without all these damn paradoxes, that the Time Agency were providing a difficult and vital service and that Argent was the real enemy.
“Welcome to the Time Agency Tangles Omega-Delta and Omega-Epsilon.” said the Doctor.

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