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«They call it the Dead Frontier. It’s as far from home as the human race ever went, the planet where mankind dumped the waste of its thousand year ...»

-- [ Page 1 ] --

They call it the Dead Frontier. It’s as far from home as the human race ever

went, the planet where mankind dumped the waste of its thousand year empire

and left its culture out in the sun to rot.

But while one Doctor faces both his past and his future on the Frontier,

another finds himself on Earth in 1996, where the seeds of the empire are

only just being sown. The past is meeting the present, cause is meeting

effect, and the TARDIS crew is about to be caught in the crossfire.

The Third Doctor. The Eighth Doctor. Sam. Fitz. Sarah Jane Smith. Soon, one of them will be dead; one of them will belong to the enemy; and one of them will be something less than human...

Featuring the Third and Eighth Doctors, INTERFERENCE is the first ever full-length two-part Doctor Who novel.

INTERFERENCE

Book Two: The Hour of the Geek Lawrence Miles Published by BBC Worldwide Ltd, Woodlands, 80 Wood Lane London W12 0TT First published 1999 Copyright c Lawrence Miles 1999 The moral right of the author has been asserted Original series broadcast on the BBC Format c BBC 1963 Doctor Who and TARDIS are trademarks of the BBC ISBN 0 563 55582 3 Imaging by Black Sheep, copyright c BBC 1999 Printed and bound in Great Britain by Mackays of Chatham Cover printed by Belmont Press Ltd, Northampton Contents

FOREMAN’S WORLD: MORNING ON THE SECOND DAY 1

WHAT HAPPENED ON EARTH (PART TWO) 5

14: The Darker Side of Enlightenment (Sam learns about the birds, the bees and the remembrance tanks) 7 Travels with Fitz (VII) 21 15: Realpolitik (from London to the TARDIS) 25 16: Sacrifices, Episode One (what the aliens learned from Sam) 37 Travels with Fitz (VIII) 51 17: Rewired (it’s bigger on the inside. Aren’t we all?) 55 18: Sacrifices, Episode Two (could you then kill that child? Well, yes, actually.) 67 Travels with Fitz (IX) 81 19: The Nature of the Beast (Mr Llewis gets down to business) 85 20: Multiple Homecoming (six more short trips) 97 Travels with Fitz (X) 111 21: Nation Shall Speak Peace Unto Nation (Sam finally gets a sense of perspective) 115 22: Voodoo Economics (the final edit) 129 Travels with Fitz (XI) 143 23: Indestructible, Ms Jones? You Don’t Know the Meaning of the Word (finally, the Cold) 147

–  –  –

– Standard sign-off line from ITN Evening News, as of March 1999

FOREMAN’S WORLD:

MORNING ON THE SECOND DAY

There was an old riddle about a goose and a bottle. At least, that was what the riddle was about on Earth; the same idea had somehow ended up on any number of worlds across Mutters’ Spiral, from Gallifrey to the rim, and it often involved much more exotic things than geese and much stranger things than bottles. But it was the image of the goose that came to I.M. Foreman while she slept. Perhaps it was the human DNA in her that did it, or perhaps she had bottles on her mind, seeing that she was sleeping on the grass just a few feet away from the most valuable object in the galaxy (possibly).

The riddle went something like this. You take an infant goose, just hatched from its egg, and slip it through the neck of a bottle. The goose grows inside the glass, until it’s too big to slip back out again. The question is, how do you free the goose without breaking the bottle?

I.M. Foreman woke up early, long before the Doctor did. She spent an hour or so sitting on the hillside next to him, watching him sleep while the sun crept up over the valley. More than once, she had to bite her lip to stop herself giggling. Once he switched his face off, and let the muscles around his mouth relax instead of giving the world the full benefit of his gurning, he looked more like a proper person than a complex space-time event. You could see the wrinkles in his skin, and the way the flesh had settled on his bones. You could see all the details that made him human, or whatever he called himself instead of human. I.M. Foreman wondered whether that was the way she looked to him.

He woke up, eventually, and the expression on his face made her laugh out loud. The look of confusion and horror before he managed to get himself back in character again. And then there was that little twist in the side of his mouth, when he finally worked out how he’d ended up going to sleep on the side of the hill.

‘Good morning,’ he said, once he’d found his bearings. He frowned after he said it, pretending he didn’t know why I.M. Foreman was sniggering so much.

They didn’t have breakfast. She’d been hungry, but the Doctor hadn’t even considered eating. Time Lords had more efficient digestive systems than most, 1 I.M. Foreman reminded herself. Anyway, she didn’t want him pottering off to the TARDIS food machine again. Space food was fine, but somehow it seemed to make everything much too easy.

They spent a while lying there on the grass, trying to tell the future from the shapes of the clouds. At one point, a cloud that looked exactly like the Grim Reaper rolled across the sky, so the Doctor accused her of tapping into the planet’s ecosystem and making the cloud herself (just to scare him). I.M.

Foreman didn’t remember doing anything like that, but then again, she had a lot on her mind.





‘The TARDIS knew something was going to happen,’ the Doctor said, at exactly the same moment that I.M. Foreman decided the game was wearing a bit thin.

She turned her head towards him, feeling the softness of the grass as it rubbed against her cheek. ‘What kind of “something” were you thinking of?’ ‘What happened on Earth. What happened to Sam. What happened to Fitz.

The TARDIS must have spotted it. She must have realised there was going to be a disturbance to my timeline. To our timelines.’ ‘Really,’ said I.M. Foreman, lazily.

‘I remember how erratic the TARDIS was. More erratic than usual, anyway.

It started a few months before we got to 1996. She kept landing on Earth.

Sixties London. Scandinavia. San Francisco. The Battle of the Bulge. We do have a habit of turning up on Earth, but four times in a row... ’ ‘Sounds like she was trying to tell you something,’ said I.M. Foreman. Something in her nervous system, something slippery and human, made her feel slightly jealous whenever he referred to the TARDIS as female. She had no idea why.

The Doctor nodded. ‘That’s just it. I think the TARDIS knew something was going to happen in 1996. Something that was going to change our lives. She was trying to work out what. She kept going back to Earth, landing near any disturbances she could find in the timeline. In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, especially. I think she was taking readings. Like a kind of fourdimensional telemetry. She was trying to gather information for what she knew was going to happen in the future.’ ‘So how come you weren’t ready for it when it happened?’ asked I.M. Foreman. ‘Unless you’re going to tell me that you ended up in that prison cell on purpose.’ ‘No. No, I didn’t. But I knew Sam was going to leave the TARDIS the next time we got back to Earth. I told you that, didn’t I? And I didn’t want to lose Sam. The TARDIS wanted to take us back there, so she could finish the telemetry, but she must have picked up on my anxiety. She must have known I didn’t want to go back to Earth. So she didn’t. The old girl could never resist 2 my subconscious.’ ‘So the TARDIS never finished her survey,’ I.M. Foreman concluded. ‘Do you interfere in everybody’s plans like that?’ ‘I didn’t mean to,’ the Doctor protested. ‘It just... happened.’ I.M. Foreman rolled on to her side, and draped her arm over him. ‘Nothing just happens to you. You’re too involved. Everything’s got a reason.’ The Doctor looked uncomfortable, although she wasn’t sure whether that was because of what she’d said or because of the physical contact. ‘Not a reassuring thought,’ he said. ‘Can’t I take a few days off every now and then?’ ‘Just finish the story,’ said I.M. Foreman. ‘I want to know how you got the goose out of the bottle.’ ‘Goose?’ said the Doctor.

3

WHAT HAPPENED ON EARTH

(PART TWO) We’re past the halfway point now. Most of the important pieces are still in play, but at this stage it’s hard to see where the game’s going. The board’s so cluttered up with rumours and counterplots that it’d take a grand master to spot the strategy behind it all, to work out how everything’s going to come together in the endgame. Well, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. The Doctor’s still trying to play chess, but the Remote are more interested in Trivial Pursuit. The two sides are playing by different rules, and it’s more a case of good-versus-postmodern than good-versus-evil. No wonder things are getting complicated.

So, to resume:

The Doctor’s trapped in a prison cell, a long way from anywhere he might want to call home. He’s running out of options, he’s doing his best to hold on to his sanity, and he’s being slowly tortured to death for no good reason at all. Meanwhile, Sam’s being led to the central transmitter of Anathema by the Remote, who are even now insisting that torture and imprisonment aren’t techniques they generally use. Still, you’d expect them to change their minds about that from minute to minute. And Fitz? Fitz is stuck on an Earth-built colony ship six hundred years in the future, along with the ancestors of the Remote and the representatives of Faction Paradox. How the Remote got back to the twentieth century in the first place, we can’t say for sure. Oh, and let’s not forget Guest, or Compassion, or Kode, the three agents of the Remote who seem determined to do something to the timeline of present-day Earth... but again, the details haven’t exactly been forthcoming.

Then there’s Sarah. Good old reliable Sarah Jane Smith, twenty years older and twenty years more cynical than the woman the Doctor once left on Earth with nothing but a stuffed owl for company. (Although we’re sure she can’t have changed that much; that’d spoil things.) Sarah’s investigating a man called Llewis, whom we’d have to describe as a mere pawn, if we were going to stretch the ‘game’ metaphor to breaking point. The Remote are trying to supply Mr Llewis’s company with the Cold, though, so maybe he’ll be promoted to a more important piece later on.

Ah. The unmistakable sound of a metaphor snapping.

This is what they call ‘the story so far’. In the old days, we’d just reprise the last scene of Part One, the cliffhanger ending where time froze and the characters went into stasis. In today’s world, however, things tend to be a little more complicated. For better or worse.

14 The Darker Side of Enlightenment (Sam learns about the birds, the bees and the remembrance tanks) It was like a set out of Frankenstein. The old black-and-white one. But coloured in by the man who painted all the sets for Star Trek back in the sixties.

The transmitter building was the same kind of shape as the Eiffel Tower, the outer walls smooth curves, rising to the tip of the building hundreds of metres above the surface of Anathema. And the thing was hollow. From down here on the ground floor, Sam could see all the way up to the top, and she couldn’t make out any joins in the structure of the walls. The ground floor itself was surrounded by archways, one enormous arc on each side of the building’s base.

There was a single shaft of... steel? Plastic? Whatever. A single shaft in the middle of the floor, stretching from here to the peak, a cylinder of pale blue as wide as a decent-sized house. Science-fiction blue, thought Sam. Cybernetic blue. Looking up, she could see discs of transparent might-have-been-perspex impaled on the shaft, ‘floors’ of varying sizes. Many of them were full of Remote people, reclining on see-through furnishings and (literally?) soaking up the vibes. There were no railings around the edges of the discs, though, so either the people around here were remarkably well balanced, or they simply didn’t care if they fell off. See-through veins ran up the sides of the shaft, conduits for the lift platforms that carried the locals from level to level.

The floor of the building was easily the size of a football pitch, albeit the kind of football pitch where a local team might go to play at weekends. There were white room-sized domes clustered around the shaft, a lot like the domes on the floating platforms, although there was no particular pattern to the way they were arranged. Baby buildings, sheltering under the sloping walls of the tower.

And the walls were covered in hardware. Thick cables wound their way up to the top of the building, threading between gigantic receiver dishes and smooth-edged pieces of technology the size of tractors. Sam could imagine lightning striking the roof, and trickling down to ground level, lighting up 7 each piece of machinery in turn. Like the world’s biggest game of Mousetrap.

She spent a good three minutes just standing there, turning round and round, trying to work out what was supposed to be happening. There were people moving from dome to dome, in through the archways and out of the lift tubes, across the floor and across the higher levels. But none of them seemed to be doing anything, much. A lot seemed to be taking a casual stroll, listening to the signals in the air.

Perhaps they just liked being here. Close to the main transmitter, close to the heart of the culture, but shielded from the full strength of the signals by the architecture. This place was like a shrine to them, Sam concluded. Here inside the building, she’d managed to get her head together again, but you could practically feel the transmissions from the top of the tower, humming in the walls, vibrating through every part of the structure.

Again, Sam wondered whether there was any way she could get out of here without being seen. Or, indeed, whether there was any point running for it at all. She didn’t even have the first idea where Anathema was. Bearing in mind its downright peculiar relationship to the rest of space-time, for all she knew the whole city could have been on board the – She suddenly realised she was on her own.



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