Chapter 9: Complete and Consistent

The engine room door slid open, with a hiss of escaping air. The chamber
beyond was double the height of the other rooms on the ship. Its upper half
was almost entirely filled by what had to be the shunt engine, a colossal,
gently humming silver shape that looked as if it had been turned on a lathe.
A double line of pillars ran down the middle of the room, each pillar a
hollow frame filled with cables and ducts. Control panels clustered around
the bases of the pillars.

"The fourth panel on the right," Zoe said, hurrying between the pillars.
"That one. Sam, have you got the key?"

"Don't move," a familar voice said from behind them. "Turn around slowly."

Zoe and Samantha turned. Lieutenant Malmsten was standing beside the door,
a gun in her hand.

"Everyone else ran for it," Samantha said. "What are you still here for?"

"Drop the key and kick it towards me. Then both of you put your hands up."

Samantha let the key fall, and kicked it across the floor. Malmsten aimed
her gun carefully, and reduced the intricate device to a blob of molten

"Thank you," she said. "This is what will happen now: Miss Sheffield and I
will remain aboard this vessel. The oxygen reserves will keep the two of us
alive until we reach our destination. Miss Sheffield will then be conditioned
according to plan. Your friends will die when their air runs out, if I don't
get them first -- and you die here and now." She raised the gun, then lowered
it. "I'm very disappointed in you, Zoe. I was wrong to offer you membership
in the Guild. You're obviously completely irrational. Fighting against well-
ordered government for millions just because it might damage a couple of
parasitic aristocrats."

Zoe snorted. "Irrational? I don't think your Guild would know what
rationality was if it bit them in the brains. They aren't interested in good
government, only in power for themselves."

"So's your spoilt little rich friend. Why should you side with her and
not us?"

"Because she hasn't shown any signs of being prepared to do terrible things
to people's minds just for getting in their way. I take exception to that."

"So you can't even see past your own foolish prejudices."

"It isn't a prejudice, it's an axiom. Do you even know what one of those
is? Or do you just wear a cloak and a hood and chant 'Barbara Celarent' and
think that gives you an appreciation of logic?"

"Our axioms were bestowed upon us by the Founders. They are complete and

"Which means they're either wrong, or so weak you can't even do arithmetic
with them!"

Samantha looked from one to the other. "What's this supposed to be?" she
said. "Logical Girl anime?"

"Enough!" Malmsten's patience was obviously exhausted. "You may have come
close, but you've still lost. Do you have any last words?"

"Only four," Zoe said. She glanced briefly upward at the looming bulk of
the shunt engine. "Stellar chain logic crush!"

A column of white light, surrounded by glittering spirals, shot up from her
outstretched hands and smashed into the engine. Where it hit the metal
casing, it reached a brilliance that was almost painful to look at. Red-hot
sparks showered down. The metal bulged and then burst, with a deafening
staccato /crack./

The blast knocked Samantha to the ground. Groggily, she looked up, to see
Zoe still standing motionless at the foot of that pillar of light. Nearby,
Malmsten had been sent flying, and seemed to have hit her head; she wasn't
moving. Her gun lay close to her outstretched hand.

As Samantha struggled to her feet, the light faded. Zoe lowered her hands
and slumped to the ground, gasping for breath as though she'd just run a

"That really takes it out of you," she said.

Samantha looked up at the engine. Where Zoe's attack had hit it, there was
a scorched crater on its metal casing, and lesser lightnings were still
crawling across its surface. Around the room, warning light after warning
light blazed red.

"What in the name of Annie Titheredge's drawers did you just do?" she said.
"And how did you do it?"

"Think about it," Zoe said. "I got that sailor costume you've made such a
mess of by transforming into Sailor Wheel In Space. And once I'd lent it to
you, I had to stay transformed."

Samantha nodded. "'Cos if you changed back, this thing'd vanish and I'd be
starkers. Hang on a mo."

She crossed to where Malmsten lay and retrieved her blaster.

"Well, maybe it would just change back into my normal clothes," Zoe said.
"But I thought it would be safer not to risk it."

"So you were a Sailor Scout the whole time? And you could've done that
stellar chain thing whenever you wanted?"

"Well, yes, but usually when I try it on its own it doesn't work -- only
when I combine my powers with the other Sailor Scouts. So I didn't want to
use it unless I had no choice in the matter."

Green patches were spreading across the surface of the engine now. Radiation
alarms wailed, and a massive-looking blast door dropped into place across the

"No, I suppose you didn't." Samantha tucked the blaster under her arm, dug
in her pockets and pulled out her recall discs. "That thing's going to blow
any minute. We need to get out of here."

Zoe looked across at Malmsten.

"She's still bleeding," she said. "That means she's alive. We can't just
leave her here to die."

"I could." Samantha thought about it. "But yeah, we ought to try and save
her. So she knows just how badly she's lost."

"How vindictive of you," Zoe said. "Can you help me up, please?"

They crossed to where Malmsten was lying, pulled her to her feet, and
supported her between them. Then, with some difficulty, they contrived to
get the recall discs into their hands.

"On a count of three," Samantha said. "One. Two. Three."

As instructed, they touched their recall discs, centre to edge. The discs
sparked, but there was no other visible effect. By now, the mottled green
patches covered most of the engine, darkening as they watched, and an ominous
rumbling filled the air.

"Come on, Doctor," Samantha muttered. "Get a move on..."

The shunt engine blew apart. The shockwave of the explosion tore through
the room, reducing everything in its path to sharp-edged metal fragments. A
wave of devastation rolled towards Samantha and Zoe.

And froze in place, inches from them. The engine room faded away, to be
replaced moments later by the familiar setting of the Round. It looked as if
minutes, at most, had passed since they left; the Doctor was still standing
at the controls of the Time Scoop, Rose and Rory by his side.

"Ah, there you are again," the Doctor said. "I hope it was a good party."

"You could say that, yeah," Samantha replied.

Rory hurried across to the party and made a hasty examination of the
unconscious Lieutenant.

"I think it's just concussion," he said, hoisting her onto a table. "I'll
get her bandaged up. Who is she?"

"Her name's Lissa Malmsten," Zoe said. "She wanted to kill us. Actually, she
probably still does."

"Why'd you bring her back here, then?" Rose asked.

"If we hadn't, she'd have died. And it would have been my fault."

"Fair enough. What do we do with her now?"

"Dump her back in the future," Samantha said. "Wherever it is the Logicians'
Guild hang out. Maybe with a dunce hat on her head, and a traffic cone

The Doctor raised a warning hand. "Briggs!"

"Well, OK, then. Not the traffic cone. But she's really not a nice person."

Malmsten's eyes opened, and she looked around with utter incomprehension.
"What is this place?" she mumbled.

"Don't worry about anything," Rory said. "You'll be fine. The Doctor's going
to send you back to your home."

"The Doctor?" Malmsten looked at the bowtie and tweed jacket, and seemed to
deflate. "Public Enemy Number One." She looked up at Samantha. "If I'd known
you were mixed up with him, I'd have..."

"Surrendered at once to save time," Rose said. "If you've got any sense."


The intercom beeped.

"Hello escape pod," Isobel's voice said. "Are you there?"

"We're right here," Jamie replied. "What's going on?"

"The shunt engine's off, so we're back in normal space. Gia says, can you
launch the pod? She needs to use it as a relay. Once you've launched, turn
on the communicator panel."

"Right away--" Jamie broke off as a shudder ran through the vessel.
"What's going on?"

"Explosion in the engine room. I don't know what's happened to Sam and Zoe.
Get that pod launched, quick as you can."

"Did you hear that?" Jamie caught Victoria by the arm. "Come on, into the
pod now!"

The two dived into the pod and hastily read through the instructions.

"'Seal the door,'" Victoria read. "'Remove the locking pin from the launch
button. Ensure all passengers are strapped in. Press the button.'"

She pulled the pin out. Jamie slid the door closed; it latched with a heavy

"What about this strapped-in thing?" he asked.

"I suppose it means fix those straps around yourself," Victoria said. "Hurry
up, because -- oh!"

Another vibration ran through the ship, knocking them off their feet. Jamie
caught hold of one of the straps; Victoria stumbled into the launch button.
A hissing roar filled the pod, and both Jamie and Victoria were pressed
against the walls by the acceleration. Fortunately the thrust, painful though
it was, soon lessened, leaving them weightless.

"Now we need to turn yon communicator thing on," Jamie said.

Victoria glanced around. "That must be it. Let's see if I can reach it."

She launched herself across the capsule, made a grab for the communicator,
missed, and ended up slowly bouncing about, rotating the while.

"Help me, Jamie!" she called.

Jamie, who had managed to fasten a strap around his waist, reached out and
caught her by the leg as she drifted past.

"Thank you." Victoria made another lunge for the communicator, this time
reaching it. "Here we are. Isobel, can you hear me?"

"It's me," Gia's voice replied. "Press the 'Relay' button, then turn your
transmitter to full power." She paused, while Victoria carried out the
instructions. "Sending distress signal. Don't go anywhere for now."

"We won't," Victoria assured her.


Isobel, Gia and Emmi leaned forward as the communications system crackled
into life. Its screen showed only the image of a police badge, with a green
padlock superimposed.

"/Vanguard/, this is police cruiser /Hathaway/. What is your situation?

"Our shunt engine's blown up," Isobel said. "So's the oxygen recycler. The
crew took the escape pods and we're trapped on the bridge." She paused,
waiting for a reply, and realised she'd forgotten something. "Oh -- Over."

"Is Miss Emmi Sheffield still on board? Over."

Emmi leaned forward. "Yes. Yes, I'm here."

"Over," Isobel added.

The police logo disappeared, to be replaced by the image of a conference
room. A middle-aged, silver-haired man was standing beside a jumpsuited

"Emmi, what the hell have you been playing at?" he growled. "You're supposed
to be on Lorn VII, not fooling about with that pup from GCI and writing my
ships off on joyrides. Well, every credit of it's going to come out of your

"Dad!" Emmi protested. "It wasn't my fault! The Logicians kidnapped me!"

"I don't want to hear your excuses. When I get my hands on you you're going
straight to the shop floor. Cleaning out waste recyclers on Ceti Colony. You
can work your way up from the bottom of the business or not at all. And what
the hell have you done to your hair?"

Isobel tried, unsuccessfully, to smother a giggle. Emmi's father seemed to
notice her and Gia for the first time.

"I wouldn't laugh if I were you," he snarled. "I'll make sure they throw the
book at the pair of you, whoever you are. Leading my daughter astray. Just
wait till I get my hands on you."

"Can't wait," Isobel replied.

The police officer glanced at a screen in front of him. "/Vanguard/, we are
now locking on. Stand by for boarding."

There was a distant clang, and the bridge shuddered.

"Righty-ho," Isobel said cheerfully. "/Vanguard/ out."

"Victoria, did you hear all that?" Gia added.

"I did," Victoria's voice replied.

"Thank you for your help. You and Jamie can go back to the Round now --
there's nothing more to do here."

She shut the link down. Isobel, still in the captain's chair, leaned back.

"There you are," she said. "You're safe, Emmi. The police will take you
back home. And I think we'd better be making tracks. Have you got those gold

"Here," Gia said, producing her recall discs.

Isobel laughed. "You kept them *there*?"

"No pockets in this costume."

"No, I can see that." Isobel got to her feet, and extracted her own recall
discs from the pouch on her belt. "Well, goodbye, Emmi. It's been a lot of

"But you can't-- I need you to back up my story." Emmi drew herself up. "I
demand that you stay!"

"What, and get the book thrown at us? Sorry. Places to go, people to see,
you know how it is."

Gia patted her on the shoulder. "And we wish you the best of luck in your
new career."

"Oh, go to hell!" Emmi shouted, looking for a moment just like her father.

"I don't think so," Gia said, and tapped her recall discs together.

"Too warm at this time of year," Isobel added, following suit.

Emmi's outraged visage faded from their sight.


The escape pod drifted through space, already far enough away from the
/Vanguard/ that, if the pod had had portholes, the ship would not have been
visible to the naked eye.

"Well, that's that," Victoria said. She switched the communicator off.
"I don't think I care for Miss Sheffield's father."

"Are you ready to go back now?"

"I find it quite enjoyable out here." Victoria tried to move towards him,
but once more ended up flailing helplessly in midair. "Could you help me
again, please?"

Jamie caught her by the leg, and pulled her to the floor -- or wall, or
ceiling -- he was anchored to.

"You like it, then?" he said.

"Well, not all the bouncing about. That makes me feel ill. But when we're
together like this, it's relaxing. So quiet and tranquil." She leaned over
him and brushed a speck of dust off his tuxedo. "And considering who you're
dressed as, strangely appropriate."

"Oh, aye. I suppose you mean when James Bond's just blown up the enemy's
base, and he's escaped in a boat wi' only a beautiful lass for company?"


"You are very beautiful. Victoria... can I ask you something?"

"Of course you may."

Jamie ran his finger down the remains of the Trill makeup on her neck. "Do
those spots go all the way down?"

Laughing, Victoria floated into his arms. "Oh, *James*..."


Back to Contents Page