It had been two weeks since the vortex first appeared. Two weeks of being stranded in one city in one linear timestream.
Over the past few days Mornington and Charlies Wilson had been back and forth to Steelhead to contact the one person who might be able to figure this mess out, Mornington’s old rival…Cardinal Patrice.
It was Wednesday the 19th when the old steamership ‘Invincible’ pulled into Port Babbage in the early hours of the morning. A cold, and very put-out Patrice walked off the gangplank in what could be described as ‘engineers clothes’…he was almost covered in head to foot in oil and soot. As he walked off the captain of the old steamer shouted down at Patrice…
“Thank ye kind sir! If it werent fer ya, we’d be stranded in Steelhead sounds!”
Patrice looked up and waved at the Captain, but Vic could tell in the old Cardinal eyes that he wasnt used to being in such dirty clothes, and he wasnt used to the manual labour which had covered Patrice in the oil in the first place.
Patrice walked alongside Vic and Charlie as they made their way to Morningtons old Lab in Clockhaven. It wasnt long until old Patrice started to complain.
“Idiot of a captain, not checking the oil levels for the bilge pumps before we departed from that Stellhead tree place. Of course we would end up running aground on the shoals off of the port, and could any one of his hapless morons fix the damn pumps?!”
Mornington started to chuckle…
“Of course they couldnt! I’m surprised that old heap of a steamship even makes it out of Steelheads port without blowing a boiler…”
The usually 10 minute walk from Port Babbage to Clockhaven took more like 30 minutes this time, Mornington purposefully walked slower than normal as he and Charlie had a right good laugh with, and at Patrice as he continued his diatribe on the technology of the era and how half the ‘Captains’ of these old steamships wouldnt know a compass from a sextant if someone drew them a labelled picture…
Once at the old Lab, Patrice started flicking all sorts of switches and dials on Morningtons old console trying to force a landing anywhere possible, no matter what old Patrice tried, he was met with the same thing…
“Well mornington, you are correct, this is a full 120 lockdown, i havent seen a code 120 for…well..years. This must be something serious, what caused it?”
It was at this point that Vic held over a transcribed version of what the automaton in City Hall was writing, covering everything from the end to the latest page.
Old Patrice looked up at Vic…
“You realise if this is all true, you have broken the cardinal rule of all timelords…you not only became involved, you participated and may have actually caused this code 120 lockdown of the entire city?!”
Mornington looked at Charlie, and Charlie nodded. It was then Charlie produced a small fragment of the ship which exploded on that first day of the lock, it was a small fragment, but enough for Patrice to have an even deeper worried look on his face.
“This sort of material with this sort of time signature could only mean one thing…”
“Yes Cardinal” Vic answered.. “It looks like either the Van Creed, Moriarty, or whatever caused the original Timelord lock of this city…has re-appeared”
Patrice shot a look at both Charlie and Vic and simply said “God help us”
Mornington walked old Patrice back to the Port so he could get the next ship out of Port Babbage and on to Steelhead. He met up with Charlie in Brunel.
“Well Vic, what did the old boy say?”
“He said Charlie, that whatever that automaton is writing, is a probable outcome of this city, either in this set timeline or a different dimension. As such, and with the imminent destruction of this city at hand, the High Council have recinded the ‘no involvement’ rule.
Charlie smiled… “So you can get involved then?”
Vic looked at the transcribed notes from the automaton in City Hall…
“I think I already am involved..in some way”