18 November, 188~
Orpheus conducted his patrol down by the port. Earlier that day he had done a sweep of Clockhaven and found the bombs at the power station. He knew better than to try to mess with those, so he returned to his ship to report it and then headed to the Port. Now he was here and ran into Johann Von Thesium. The two men began to talk of recent events and of Orpheus’s research into the various Aether Cracks. While they were talking, they were interrupted by an elderly woman with what looked like every one of her possessions on her
back. She spoke to them in riddles of clocks and tick tocks and light and darkness. It made very little sense to Orpheus. As quickly as she had appeared, she ran off.
It soon became apparent what had scared her off. Behind Orpheus and Johann stood the newly apparated form of Henri Metier, the ghost who had been causing as much trouble for many of the townspeople as he had when he was alive.
“You!” exclaimed Mr. Angkarn.
Henri chuckled and replied, “Oh, you’ve heard of me?”
“I have heard a worthless ghost has been given some people a hard time again”
Metier laughed again. “My efforts are so under appreciated. They didn’t even believe me about the tick tock.”
“Is it true that you have taken Arnold? He has been missing for many days,” inquired Mr. Angkarn.
Henri chuckled and said, “I did help him, yes.”
Johann jumped in, “Helped him how?”
“I helped rip him from existence and reality.”
“And that is helping him how?” asked Von Thesium.
“He has stepped outside of time. He’s no longer bound by time. He’s BEYOND time.”
Orpheus interrupted, “From what I have come to understand, people pulled into the rift cease to exist.”
The madman let out another chuckle. “That may have happened to him too.”
Johann slipped a small sphere from his ship and put it in his pocket as the ghost turned and walked off.
Orpheus took off running after the ghost, pausing only long enough to shout over his shoulder, “Hey Johann, follow me. Run!”
The two men ran down the street, past the Melnik’s bar, until they caught up with the ghost, who turned and waited.
“Following me, eh?”
“We want you to tell us how to get Arnold back!”
“Then you may miss the explosion. Didn’t you hear about Miss Hienrichs evacuating Clockhaven? It might have been better for the….”
Orpheus stopped paying attention to what the ghost was saying. He thought back to the chunk of Tardis sitting in his library and wondered what the ghost really knew. After all, it did look as if it had gone through an explosion of some sort. He shook off the feeling of dread and became aware of the fact that Henri had vanished again and Johann wanted to head to
the Power Station to investigate.
“Johann, I’ll follow the ghost, you double check the power station.”
Johann nodded and took off towards Clockhaven, while Orpheus headed west towards the train tracks. After a few minutes he found Henri again. Orpheus stopped a moment to catch his breath and then panted, “Let us drop this charade, Metier.”
“And what charade might that be?” asked the ghost.
Orpheus raised the sonic screwdriver he had been aiming at Metier. “I know what you really are. Now where… is … Arnold?”
“Oh really, you do do you? Then you might want to tell my friends. They still haven’t figured it out either,” responded Metier, a hint of indignation in his voice.
Orpheus reached into his pocket and put on a set of goggles, one lens tinted blue and the other red. “I can see it now. You are surrounded by rift energy, Timey-Whimey stuff… it is clinging to you, enveloping you.”
“On the contrary. It tries to hold me, but the dead are quite beyond caring about time.”
Orpheus became quite agitated at the arrogance Metier showed, even in Death. No wonder everyone wanted him gone. He wheezed, still winded from trying to follow him all over town. “Look, tell me or don’t tell me where Arnold is. I don’t really care. But you obviously seem to know a bit about the rifts. I have to know what caused them… I have to know.”
“Ah, but you already know, don’t you,” Henri said, trying to goad Orpheus into doing something he’d regret.
Orpheus turned to see if anyone else was around. Henri clearly knew what Orpheus was; there was no point hiding it from him. “I know that my Tardis is somehow trapped in the rift… exploding. I need to know, did the rift destroy my ship? Or did my ship create the rifts?”
Henri laughed loudly. “Ha! Do you really think that only one event could ever cause this chain of events? That is quite prideful of you. I did not expect this from you. I like it!”
Orpheus tried to explain himself, but Henri was beyond listening. He placed something into the box car he was beside and then took off again. Orpheus ignored the box car. He could not let Henri get away like that. Before he knew it, Orpheus stood outside the Hotel Excelsior, where a large crack had formed earlier.
“I can tell you this, if you really must know. This is where it happened to the cat. Listen quite distinctly to the sounds. Where is the scream coming from, truly?”
Orpheus stood his ground as he listened to the disembodied screams. “You are not going to get me into that crack. No way.”
Henri motioned closer. “Ahh, but if you really want to know about your destroyed ship, the one in the rift, I suggest you take a deeper look. You won’t know for long, but at least you’ll know!” He then broke into a fit of mad laughter and disappeared through a wall.
Orpheus looked at the crack. The filters on his lenses allowed him to see the particles escaping from the crack. Without realizing it, he took a few steps closer to the wall, dangerously close to where Arnold was when he was pulled in.
“That’s it, go ahead.”
Orpheus turned, startled at the ghost’s sudden appearance again. Henri laughed.
“You want me in there… You are going to have to force me.”
Orpheus could tell by how Henri’s hat was cocked that he looked at him with puzzlement.
“Force you? I haven’t forced anyone to do anything. They have followed me and found their own damnations all on their own.”
Orpheus kept taunting the former man, hoping to keep him distracted. While he talked, he secretly aimed his screwdriver at the man’s spectral cloak. A subtle flicker told Orpheus that a slight phase shift had occurred, and that Metier had momentarily gained a bit of substance. “You know Henri, you really are kind of sad in a way. I mean, look at you. You don’t even
a full spectral form. There is nothing there! Why won’t you just move on already?”
Henri took a step towards Mr. Angkarn. “Of course there’s nothing there. You’ve been to see the hole in the floor. You know there’s no point to anything.”
Orpheus stumbled, taken aback by the ghost’s words. “How… how did you know?? That was just… that was just a dream… you couldn’t know.”
“That was no dream, my friend. I hear it when I enter that place, all the time. It’s saying it all over this city for those who can hear.”
Orpheus lost his balance, almost falling against the wall, muttering “just a dream… just a dream…”
Metier continued, “And I listen, I agree! Shakespeare said it long before I ever lived or heard the words from him. Spoken the words of truth, we are all poor players struting on a stage. Fools.” He continued to step closer to Orpheus, reveling in the Timelord’s new found helplessness. “The whole world is our stage, now let’s give everyone a good show!”
Metier ran towards Orpheus, intending to go through him. He did not see, rather he did not pay attention to the device aimed at him. It chirruped and Mr. Angkarn saw the ghost shimmer again. Metier, in his new solid form, ran smack dab into the Timelord. Orpheus stumbled back, grabbing on to Metier’s cloak. As he did so, he dropped the screwdriver. “Let’s have fun!” shouted Henri. Orpheus could feel everything change as the two men fell
backwards into the rift.