In Search of the Book
‘Roget's Thesaurus,’ read Romana.
‘British Book of Wild Birds in Colour,’ added the Doctor.
The search in Professor Chronotis' study was continuing. The Doctor and Romana were sitting on the floor amidst a clutter of books. The Professor had retired to the kitchen to fortify them with tea.
‘Alternative Betelgeuse,’ said Romana, raising her eyebrows at the odd selection of titles in the Professor's collection.
The Doctor picked up the Professor's most recent acquisition. ‘The Time Machine.’
‘Tandoori Chicken for Starters.’
‘Chariots of the Gods.’ Romana flung this title away in disgust.
‘And there's no sign of The Worshipful and Ancient Law of Gallifrey,’ added the Doctor ruefully.
‘Do you really think it is important?’
The Doctor looked surprised at Romana's question. ‘Of course it is. It's one of the Artifacts of Rassilon!’
‘But other than its historical value,’ Romana persisted.
‘Yes. Each of the Artifacts was imbued with stupendous power. The meanings of most of them have been lost now, but the powers remain - and the rituals.’
Romana shrugged. ‘I just mouthed the words like everyone else.’
The Doctor was interested. ‘What words?’
‘At the Time Academy Induction Ceremony,’ explained Romana. ‘You know - “I swear to protect the Ancient Law of Gallifrey with all my might and main and to the end of my days I will with justice and with honour temper my actions and my thoughts...”’
‘Pompous lot,’ declared the Doctor, getting to his feet. ‘All words and no actions.
‘Well that's not fair,’ argued Romana. ‘My history books always made the old days sound very exciting. What about Salyavin?’
‘Salyavin?’ repeated the Doctor. He frowned, and then a broad smile crossed his features as he remembered. ‘Oh yes, Salyavin! He was a boyhood hero of mine.’
‘Really Doctor? A great criminal your hero?’
‘Well, criminal, yes,’ admitted the Doctor, ‘but such style, such flair, such...’
‘Panache?’ suggested Romana.
‘Yes! A bit like me in that respect.’
Romana laughed. ‘Did you ever meet him?’
‘I certainly did not,’ replied the Doctor indignantly. ‘He was imprisoned before I was born.’
‘Do you know, I've no idea,’ he admitted, and then had a thought. ‘Professor!’ he called.
‘Yes?’ came the reply from the kitchen.
‘Salyavin was a contemporary of yours, wasn't he? Do you know where he was imprisoned?’
The Professor suddenly burst into the room in a state of great agitation. ‘I've just remembered!’ he declared.
The Doctor was impressed. ‘I've only just asked you.’
‘Where Salyavin was imprisoned.’
‘Salyavin?’ said the Professor blankly, ‘I'm not talking about Salyavin. Good riddance to him. We must find the book!’
‘Professor, what do you think we're doing?’ the Doctor reminded him patiently.
‘But I've just remembered!’
‘There was a young man here, earlier. Came to borrow some books. He took them whilst I was out of the room making tea. He might have taken it.’
‘What was his name?’ asked the Doctor.
‘Oh, I can't remember that. Oh dear, I've got a memory like... Oh dear, what is it I've got a memory like? What's that thing you drain rice in?’ The Professor shook his head as if expecting the action to clear his thoughts.
‘Professor, what was his name?’ urged the Doctor.
‘Was he old, young, tall, short?’ prompted Romana.
‘Ah, I remember!’ the Professor declared.
‘Sieve! That's what it is. I've got a memory like a sieve!’
The Doctor struggled to control his rising impatience. ‘Professor! Who took the book?’
‘Ah, I can't remember his name.’
‘Professor, please do try,’ Romana insisted.
‘All right,’ he agreed. ‘“A”? No, it didn't begin with “A”. “B”? No...’
‘“C”?’ suggested the Doctor and Romana in unison.
‘“D?”’ added the Professor.
Chris Parsons' friend Clare Keightley was an attractive young woman, with long dark hair done up in a severe bun which made her look more like a businesswoman than a post-graduate student.
She held the mystery book open in her hands. ‘Feels like paper,’ she observed. ‘Smells like paper, doesn't behave like paper. Plastic?’
Chris shook his head. ‘Not a single polymer in sight.’
‘Metal?’ she suggested.
‘No crystalline structure whatsoever.’
Chris shrugged. ‘If it is, our Mr. Dalton's got a lot of explaining to do,’ he remarked, referring to the atomic theorist John Dalton. ‘That's what I mean. Yes, I think it is a crystal, no it can't be a crystal. Half of it is stable all the time, half of it none of the time. It behaves like a super-conductor one minute, and blows up my equipment the next.’
‘What's it about?’ asked Clare.
‘The book,’ she smiled. ‘What's it about?’
Chris shrugged again. ‘Well I don't know, do I? Reads like a cross between Chinese and algebra.’
‘Why don't you ask old what's-his-name,’ she suggested.
‘Well that's the brooms thing to do, I suppose,’ replied Chris.
‘Is that why you haven't done it yet?’ she suggested teasingly.
Chris grinned, and reached for his coat. Clare went over to the sink and started to fill the kettle for a cup of tea.
‘Make yourself at home,’ Chris invited.
‘Thanks,’ replied Clare cheerfully, and Chris left with a wave.
Neither of them could have known that it would be many eventful hours before they would be reunited, and even then under very different circumstances.
The Professor was still running through the alphabet in an attempt to jog his memory. ‘“N”... “O”...’ He paused after each letter, and then shook his head before going on to the next. ‘“P”... Parsons, Christopher!’ he declared suddenly. ‘Born 1956, graduated 1978. Honours Degree in Chemistry, currently engaged on Post Graduate studies in Sigma Particles...’
‘Where would he be now, Professor?’ asked the Doctor, greatly relieved.
‘Physics lab, I should think. Turn left at...’
The Doctor held up a silencing hand. He had visited Cambridge University on many occasions, especially during his exile on Earth some years earlier. ‘Yes, I know. And be careful crossing the street, certainly. I'll be back in two minutes or so.’
The Professor nodded, and wandered off back into the kitchen.
The Doctor went to the front door, silently motioning Romana to join him. ‘If I'm not back in an hour, both of you get in the TARDIS and lock the doors,’ he instructed quietly. ‘Put out an All Frequencies Alert and wait for the cavalry.’
‘Cavalry?’ Romana inquired.
The Doctor shook his head. ‘Never mind.’
The Professor came back into the room just in time to see the Doctor depart. Romana sighed, and sat down on the Professor's sofa.
‘More tea, my dear?’ he suggested.
‘Lovely,’ replied Romana. ‘Two lumps, no sugar.’
Chronotis nodded, and started back into the kitchen. He paused, and turned back to Romana. ‘Don't worry,’ he said kindly. ‘He'll be all right.’
The stranger returned to the bridge of his spacecraft. He had changed his outfit, and was straightening his tie as he entered the chamber. The clothes had once belonged to the man who had given him a ride.
He finished with his tie, and picked up the brown jacket, which hung over the back of one of the couches. The carpetbag containing the sphere was also on the seat.
Once he had donned the jacket, he spoke. ‘My appearance?’ he asked.
‘Perfectly correct in every detail, my lord,’ replied the Ship.
The man picked up the carpetbag. ‘I am going to retrieve the book. I shall return immediately.’
‘Very well, my lord.’
‘Have you disposed of the carrion?’ he inquired, referring to the unfortunate former owner of his outfit.
‘As you directed, my lord.’
He nodded, and turned to leave. The door opened ahead of him and he strode down the passageway and activated the exit hatch.
Outside, in the field, he gradually appeared in mid-air, feet first, as he descended the invisible ramp way. Once he reached the ground, he walked over to the car, carrying the carpetbag.
With some persuasion, the Doctor had got Wilkin to agree to lend him a bicycle. Wobbling from lack of practice, the Doctor rode off down a busy street. Narrowly avoiding a nasty collision, he stuck his arm out to indicate a turn and swerved into another road, almost colliding with another cyclist coming towards him. The Doctor dodged swiftly, and gave the man a cheery wave of apology before continuing on his way with considerable haste.
Chris Parsons screeched to a halt and looked back over his shoulder at the strangely attired man who had almost crashed into him. Shaking his head, he dismissed the incident, and rode on.
Wilkin had just returned to his office from arranging a bicycle for the Doctor when the stranger who had been so rude to him before approached him once more.
‘Is the Professor alone now?’ demanded the arrogant man.
‘The Doctor left a short time ago, sir,’ said the porter punctiliously. Without another word, the stranger strode off towards the Professor's rooms.
Romana busied herself waiting for the Doctor's return by clearing the floor of the study of the mountain of books. Now that the room was back in some semblance of order, she sat toasting crumpets on a long toasting fork over an electric heater. She looked up as the Professor came back into the room.
‘Oh dear,’ he began apologetically.
‘What's the matter?’ inquired Romana, expecting the worst.
‘I've run out of milk.’
Romana smiled. ‘Oh, I should think that's the least of our problems,’ she observed.
Professor Chronotis nodded. ‘I do feel so stupid about losing that book,’ he confessed.
‘Don't worry,’ Romana assured him. ‘We'll find it.’
‘Oh, I do hope so, I hope so.’
Romana shuddered, despite being close to the heater.
‘You're shivering,’ observed the Professor. ‘Are you cold?’
Romana shook her head. ‘No, it's just a feeling. The sound of those voices unnerved me.’
The Professor nodded understandingly. ‘A hot cup of tea will make you feel better.’
Romana nodded in agreement.
‘Ah, no milk, of course,’ recalled the Professor. ‘I'll just pop out and get some.’
‘I don't think that's a very good idea, Professor.’
The Professor hesitated on his way to the door. ‘Why not? It's the only way I know of getting milk. Short of keeping a cow,’ he added.
Romana thought quickly. She knew that the Doctor thought that there might be danger in going out while he was away fetching the book. ‘We've got plenty,’ she said suddenly, pointing to the police box in the corner.
The Professor smiled. ‘Oh yes, of course! Splendid.’ He watched as Romana got up and fished out her key. ‘Type Forty, isn't it?’ he inquired, following her over to the TARDIS. ‘First came out when I was a boy. That shows you how old I am.’
Romana unlocked the police box door. ‘I won't be a moment,’ she promised, and disappeared inside.
‘Oh yes you will,’ the Professor called in after her. ‘One of the main complaints about the Type Forty was that its kitchens were an intolerable distance from the control chamber.’
Romana popped her head back out of the doors. ‘I've never known the Doctor to use them, anyway,’ she added, and disappeared once more.
Chronotis patted the side of the police box, and then moved away, reminiscing to himself. ‘Salyavin? Yes... Good riddance to him.’ He moved back towards the kitchen. ‘Good riddance. Pah!’
A number of chattering voices could be heard, outside his door. ‘Undergraduates,’ he muttered.
There was a knock at the door, and the voices grew correspondingly louder. ‘Come in!’ called the Professor, going into the kitchen.
The stranger entered the room, carrying the carpetbag, from which the babble of voices could be heard.
‘Have to be lemon tea, I'm afraid,’ called the Professor from the kitchen. ‘No milk at the moment. Girl's gone to get some.’
The stranger unclipped the carpetbag, and the voices grew louder still.
Hearing the voices, the Professor called out, ‘How many are there of you, for heaven's sake? I haven't got many cups.’
When there was no reply, the Professor came back in to see for himself. He paused when he saw the strange man standing in his living room.
‘Professor Chronotis?’ he asked.
‘Where are the others?’ inquired the Professor, looking around.
‘Professor Chronotis?’ repeated the stranger.
‘Who are you?’
‘I have come for the book.’
‘Book? What book?’
The man was not taken in by the Professor's deception. ‘You know what book. The book.’
‘I don't know what you're talking about,’ insisted the Professor adamantly. ‘I don't have any book. That is, I have lots of books. What book do you want?’
‘The book you took from the Panopticon Archives.’
The Professor was caught off-guard by the stranger's knowledge of Gallifrey. ‘What do you know of the Panopticon?’
‘The book, Professor!’ insisted the man. ‘You are to give it to me.’
‘On whose instructions?’ Chronotis challenged him.
‘Who are you?’ the Professor asked again.
‘My name does not concern you. Give me the book.’
The Professor shook his head. ‘I don't know where it is.’
‘If you will not give me the information voluntarily, I will deduct it from you,’ said the stranger threateningly. ‘I am sure there is much else in your mind that will interest me.’ He held his carpetbag open, and the sphere rose out of it.
The Professor watched in horror as the sphere hovered towards him. ‘What are you doing? No!’ he protested, but the sphere attached itself to his forehead, and the Professor sank to the floor.
‘Do not fight it, Professor,’ advised the stranger with a smile. ‘Do not fight it, or you will die!’