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Purify - Chapter 15 Return to Earth

The next day Tony reported to captain Danno in his quarters. “We have had some amazing finds down in trench one. An almost complete set of Guger Royalty paraphernalia has been discovered and it is being put on display in the finds room.”

“You mean Lisa has ’fessed up and is, as we speak, putting the jewels out in the mess for us all to see?”

“Yes captain,” said Tony disappointedly.

The captain made his way to the mess where he found a sheepish looking Lisa sitting next to the fabulous jewels of Guger on the dining table like so much crockery. There were items of intricate design and infinite delicacy sitting alongside items of brutal wealth. “Can we keep it though?” asked Lisa.

“What do you think?” replied Danno, “don’t you think that we have messed with this planet’s time line enough, to start nicking its prized jewellery?”

“Not even a little piece?” asked Lisa.

“Not even that piece that is still hidden in your room,” replied Danno, who had been fully briefed on the location of all anomalous metal concentrations by Tony, “please fetch that too.”

Reluctantly Lisa brought the remaining piece to the mess where Danno had, by now, been joined by Carrie and Tibor.

“That’s quite a haul, Lisa,” said Carrie, “Do you grave-rob all of our planets?”

“Normally there is nobody around to complain so I don’t see the problem,” said Lisa, “It’s only because we saved this one that there are people down there who are making a fuss about it.”

“Making a fuss is an understatement if ever I heard one,” said Carrie, “If they hadn’t fired all of their weapons earlier they would be using them now over this theft incident! Besides that, what about future archaeological expeditions? They’ll get only half the story if you have taken half of the evidence…”

“OK, ok, girls. Calm Down. We just have to figure a way to return these without violating the prime directive and allowing both continents to save face. Possibly helping them towards a lasting peace wouldn’t go amiss either,” Danno added as an afterthought, “Tibor, any ideas?”

“Well, we could just drop them back in Ilford but they would be wondering about divine intervention that could, as you have already said, put the Gugerians back millennia. So we need some means of them finding the Jewels for themselves.

“I could let the crooks, that helped me to steal them in the first place, find the rest of them in my quarters and then turn them in to the Ilfordians,” offered Lisa.

“That’s a bit mean,” said Carrie, “do they really deserve that – you know what the Ilfordians will do to them when they are captured.”

“What if we befriend some selected Gugerians and explain the honest truth to them?” asked Tibor.

“Too close to the prime directive,” said Danno, “why not let them find the jewels without incriminating the crooks?”

And so they concocted an audacious plan and it was put in train. Carrie returned to the planet and sought out prince Tooie.

He was pleased to see her again though still distraught about the jewel theft and not a little confused about why all the missiles went astray. Though still in the role of lowly jobbing cook she planted the idea of the missiles being re-programmed by peace activists working in collusion on all three continents. She decided to mess with the timeline one more time and took the plunge to prepare a cooked meal for him. He was delighted with the taste sensations. After that he would believe anything she told him and what she told him was that she thought he should look for the dog as the clue to the whereabouts of the jewel cache.

Once he had found the jewels she returned to the Tony Robinson – job done. Of course it meant that Lisa not only had to lose the jewels but also the dog but it was for the best.

Lisa programmed in the slide to Earth’s system and they returned the next day. They didn’t know if their message had survived its long-way-round trip to Earth and they were not sure that the radioactive material that they had recovered from the Gugerian moon was going to be effective in the cure for the sickness but they would wait to see if it was before telling the whole story of their early arrival at Guger.

“Get me Captain Danno here as soon as,” commanded Commander Stakus.

“He’s already on his way, commander,” replied Uli, “he’ll be here within the hour.”

“Good – have him brought to my office as soon as he lands.”

Captain Danno was travelling on the expressway to near Earth orbit and then put on a space elevator down to New London. The elevator tether point was not far from Time Command’s headquarters but the longest part of the journey was always the water taxi from the tether point to Commander Stakus’ offices.

“Come in, Danno, take a seat and tell me all about your last mission,” commander Stakus seemed to be in a good mood, “we got your message about the early arrival and had to double check it with the boffins over in Cambridge to be sure that it was possible – which of course it isn’t.”

“Except we did it,” said Danno who was always suspicious when Stakus was in such a good mood, “and we also know how we did it too.”

“How’s that?” asked Stakus.

“We met the rebels who have the Eric Laithwaite,” said Danno as calmly as if he had just admitted to having a drink with his mates down the pub.

“WHAT!” exclaimed Stakus. This was more the commander that Danno knew, if not loved. At least he would be able to deal with him now.

“Yes. They were brought to us by strange alien time guardians who I think were a bit pissed with us for violating the time lines with our early arrival.”

“Where are they now? Have you captured them? Where is the Laithwaite?” Stakus asked impatiently.

“All in good time, Stakus, All in good time, First I need to know, the material we brought back from Canus Seven, is it effective?”

“Uli – status report on the Canus Seven Purify shipment – go or no-go?”

“A very definite go Commander Stakus, this is the strongest curative yet. We can de-mettalise people using only a tenth of the material we have used before. I don’t know what you did, Danno, but this is good stuff you’ve brought us.”

“That is comforting to know because we were not sure it would work at all,” said Danno, “let me tell you why.”

And so Danno related the story of the source of the material. How it did not come from the destruction of many lives. How they were able, with the help of the Eric Laithwaite, to divert the missiles and pervert the time line. At first Stakus was dismayed that they had interfered and that they had jeopardised the potential curative effects of the material but, since it had all worked out for the best, he forgave Danno especially as he knew that he would not have been able to stand by either and watch the planet destroy itself for the selfish reason that we wanted, no, we needed, the aftermath for ourselves.

Danno explained about the purple people and how they brought the Eric Laithwaite to them and how they watched the Lyral Six planecide but were unable to purify it because they had to get back and try and save Guger and, anyway, the material having not come from the real planecide would probably not work in the cure. He left out the bit about Lisa’s larceny because that had all been undone with the help of Rex.

By the end of their meeting, Stakus had almost forgotten about the Time Rebels theft of the Eric Laithwaite. Almost but not quite. He asked Danno if he had any idea how they might get it back. Danno suggested that they don’t use Xen and Wen since they have no interest in an even more effective cure from the purify missions even if it didn’t come at the expense of billions of lives. Danno’s suggestion was to keep quiet about the extra strength of the cure for now until they could find a way to get to the real time rebels and not Xen and Wen who were obviously only in it for the money.

Lisa, Tibor and Carrie had also arrived back at Time Control to be fully briefed by Uli about what had happened with the Time Rebels back on earth and they relayed what they knew about the Time Rebels on the Eric Laithwaite. None of them could believe that their old friend TIO Rio was actually working for the Rebels but they were all pleased to learn that the material that they had brought back was, not just effective but ten times as effective as normal purify collections.

Stakus arranged a meeting for the crew of the Tony Robinson and Uli to pool what intelligence they had about the rebels. It wasn’t much but at least they knew now who had stolen the ship and they had confirmed how they were managing to make Time Control ships arrive early. So far Danno was the only Captain to have been affected but they were pretty sure that Lyral six was to be their next target if the purple people had not used it to show the catastrophic effects of meddling with the time line in so public a way as the whole universe gets to hear about it.

Of course, Stakus was interested to learn as much as possible about the purple time guardians as well but he knew enough about interstellar races to understand that if they wanted to be left alone and remain mysterious then there was little they could do except observe. They decided that they needed to turn TIO Rio to their side and so he was summoned to the meeting.

At first he tried to deny everything and Stakus let him play that card for a while but, when Uli confronted him with the evidence they have gathered in the restaurant he had nowhere to go. They told him about the material that they had collected from the Guger Moon and its relative effectiveness. He was more impressed that it had been collected without the need for a planet to die. This was what the time rebels had wanted all along.

Then they told him about Xen and Wen and how they were not being true to the time rebel cause. Their secret agenda disgusted him and it wasn’t long before he was coming up with ways to trap them. Stakus had turned agents before but none were as easy as TIO Rio.

Rio was under rebel orders to contact the Eric Laithwaite whenever it returned to the Solar System and he agreed to send them a message about the non-planecide material’s effectiveness and to tell them that Danno wanted to join them on a mission to the next system that they had detected. Of course, to do this they would have to come in and get themselves programmed for a String-Slide to the system in question.

Now all they could do was wait. Wait for news of the Eric Laithwaite.