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Untitled 20-Odd-Year-Old DW Fic (1/2)

Title: Untitled Doctor Who Fic
Characters: Fourth Doctor, The Brigadier, Benton and a number of Original Characters
Word Count 5927
Summary Stopping in to see the Brigadier, the Doctor realizes that history has gone wrong somewhere and tries to set it right.
Notes: This is my oldest surviving fanfic that I wrote with a friend somewhere around 1985. The framework plot is based on my story Flight of the Eagle. Teh characters you recognize are obviosuly the property of the BBC. Airdale Solo was created by Patricia Crozer (Hey Trish!) and Steven Taylor and his cronies are mine. The is also the first time this has been posted online.





Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart was sitting at his desk at UNIT HQ looking at three pieces of paper. A knock on the door made him look up. "Come in."

Sgt. Benton walked in carrying two cups of tea. "Any luck, sir?"

"No!" He smacked his fist on the desk. "Confound it! Why does he do this to me? He stood and began to pace the room. "Now, Sergeant," he said as he moved back to the desk, "which would you choose?"

Benton was trying frantically to think up a way out of answering, but found none. "Uh.... well, sir..." A sound of grinding machinery filled the air. Benton smiled. "I think I've found your answer." The Brigadier sputtered as he ran past Benton out of the room and into the one two doors down.

He stood outside the TARDIS and waited. "Tell me, Sergeant, which one do you think it will be this time?" Benton smiled to himself as he remembered the Brigadier's reaction to the Doctor's "changes", one right under his nose.

The TARDIS door opened and the Doctor stepped out. He was a tall man, near six feet, with a crop of curly brown hair, a hawk-like nose, and an air of electricity about him. His clothes could only be described as eccentric, consisting of an Edwardian frock coat, a felt hat that he carried in his hand, and an incredibly long multi-colored scarf. A young woman followed him. She pushed her long brown hair out of her eyes and looked around the room. "Why, Brigadier, what a nice surprise! And Sgt. Benton! How are you, old chap?" The Doctor reached out and shook his hand vigorously.

"Doctor." The Brigadier was trying to look stern, but didn't succeed all that well. He tried again. "Doctor, do you know how much trouble you've caused me?"

The Doctor played innocent. "Me? Why, I haven't done anything."

"Precisely. Because once you show up, trouble starts." He looked at the young woman. "Introductions, Doctor?"

She took it upon herself. "Airdalaine Elvirra Francesca Carolinia Solo. Everyone calls me Airdale." She politely shook the Brigadier's hand and nodded in Benton's direction.

"She is my new assistant"

"Ah, yes, Miss Smith told me she had been dropped off when she phoned yesterday."

"Really? How is she?"

"Quite angry with you. It seems you left her in Connecticut in the USA with no passport, money, nothing. I had to dispatch one of my men to help her." He glared at the Doctor, who managed to look guilty. The Brigadier glared at him then walked out.

"I guess I have to make sure I'm in the right place before you leave me, then," remarked Airdale.

"Don't worry, Doctor," said Benton as he led the way out of the room. "He really is glad to see you. The Brig just doesn't want to find your replacement."

"Replace me? That's beyond the realm of the possible."

They walked into the Brigadier's office and saw that he had returned to his official self. "Now, what are you up to, Doctor?"

"Oh, nothing much." He noticed a portrait of a king on the wall. Something was dreadfully wrong. "Tell me something, Allistair, who's the reigning monarch nowadays?"

"King James V with his father Prince Richard as Regent."

"What happened to Queen Anne II?"

The Brigadier looked confused. "She died about seven years ago. A tragic accident, as I recall."

"That can't be right." The Doctor sat down and thought for a moment, then hit his forehead with his palm with a resounding smack. "Of course! It hasn't happened yet!" He started to charge out of the room. "C'mon, Airdale." He stopped and whirled around. "Brigadier, Benton, keep yourselves ready. I might just need your help."

"I can't make promises, Doctor. Not just on your say-so. Everything is running peacefully. No giant robots, no Cybermen, no Yeti. Not even a _________."

"Try, Brigadier. The fabric of history has been tampered with. You may not be aware of it, but it has happened." He and Airdale headed back to the TARDIS. With its own familiar sound, the TARDIS disappeared, leaving the lab unnaturally quiet.

*************************

The room wasn't well lit, but that didn't matter for there wasn't much to see. Or so thought the man tied to the chair. "This just isn't my day," he sighed. Just then, a high-pitched mechanical wheezing was heard. He looked in the direction from which he thought the sound was coming, but saw nothing. Just another blank wall. He looked back only to see a worn, blue police-box just out of reach. It hadn't been there a minute ago. "Where were you when I needed you?" he asked it, his voice dripping with sarcasm. When a man stepped out of it, he stared in wonder.

He looked around, not seeing the man in the chair, and declared, "This isn't Metebelis 3!"

"Where are we?" The voice was feminine and so was the body that followed. She noticed the man in the chair. "Doctor, do you know there's someone tied up here?"

The man she called Doctor absent-mindedly shushed her. "Not now, I'm trying to figure out where we are."

She just looked at him. "Maybe we should ask the man tied to the chair."

The Doctor glanced in the direction she pointed, and then went back to his musing. Suddenly he moved closer to her. "Say," he whispered quite loudly, "Did you know there's a man tied to a chair next to the TARDIS?" They looked at him. "Maybe he can tell us where we are." They waited expectantly.

He looked back at them in total confusion. "If it isn't too much trouble, do you think you could untie me?"

"Of course, old chap, of course. Don't just stand there, Airdale, untie him."

She glared at him. "Is my skin darker than yours?" Then, as she struggled with the knots, she remarked, "Lincoln freed the slaves, ya know."

"Of course he did. I thought it was a good idea myself when I mentioned it."

The man stood, rubbing his wrists. "So much for the police not being there when you need them."

The Doctor only smiled and the girl called Airdale planted her hands on her hips and demanded, "Okay, when and where are we?"

The Doctor came back with, "Yes, that's a valid question, aaahhh...." He looked at the man, waiting.

"I guess introductions are in order. My name's Steven Taylor."

Airdale gave him a blank stare while the Doctor looked startled. "Steven Taylor?" He gave him a piercing stare, then sat in the chair. "You're not the Steven Taylor I knew."

Before Steven could reply, the door opened. They whipped their heads around and saw a short, dark figure walk in saying, "Now, Mr. Taylor--" He stopped short, seeing someone else in the chair. He quickly backed up and shut the door.

It locked before Steven could get to it. "We're trapped. So what else is new?"

"I take it this is normal for you, being trapped in cold dark rooms?" asked Airdale.

"Unfortunately, yes. You get used to it after a while."

Shouts were heard out in the corridor, and the Doctor stood. "Perhaps we should get out of here before we really are trapped." He opened the door to the police-box and stepped inside.

Airdale made to follow but noticed Taylor hadn't moved. "C'mon!" she yelled at him. "Don't you hear them? Whoever they are, they're getting closer!"

"You can't be serious about that thing! It's only a police-box!"

"You saw it materialize in front of you, right? So why argue? C'mon!" She reached for his hand just as the door opened and five guards came in, guns ready.

Airdale tried to run for the TARDIS but came face-to-face with the muzzle of a rifle. "A phone call won't help you," said the guard. They motioned for Taylor and Airdale out of the room.

Walking down the hall, Steven apologized. "If I hadn't been so stupid, we wouldn't have been captured-- again."

"Maybe after enough times, I'll be as used to it as you are."

"Low blow. If we're gonna be stuck with each other for awhile, we should at least try to be civil."

"Fine with me."

They walked the rest of the way in silence. They were ushered into a room where they saw the same small man from before. He was sitting behind a large desk and stood as they entered. "Ah, Mr. Taylor, how good of you to join me." He looked at Airdale. "I don't believe I've had the pleasure."

She gave him an even look. "You are in the presence of Airdalaine Elvirra Francesca Carolinia Solo, and don't you ever forget it."

"I won't, my dear, don't worry." The smile disappeared from his face, replaced by an evil look in his eyes. "But you should worry, for you upset a well-tailored plan and are expendable."

Taylor gave him a pained look. "You've got to stop with the puns."

"You will soon be expendable as well."

****************************************

Inside the TARDIS, the Doctor saw the two taken away. "My, we are in trouble this time." He stood and thought for a moment before heading outside. Just as he stepped into the darkened room, the outer door opened. The Doctor stepped back inside.

Two guards walked in. "I don't know why we have to watch this stupid thing. It's not going anywhere," whined one.

"That's true," the second agreed, "but are you going to tell Mr. Monk that?"

The Doctor sighed in frustration. This was not going to be as easy as he thought. "There's only one way to do this," he said as he began to flick switches and poke buttons. "I only hope this works." The column in the center of the console began to rise and fall.

As the astonished guards looked on, the TARDIS dematerialized right in front of them. The second guard turned to the first. "Not going anywhere, hunh?"

*************************************

They were tied back-to-back in another room. "So," Steven said, "what's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?"

"Cute, Taylor, real cute." Airdale glared in his direction. "I'd clobber you but I'm all tied up at the moment." He groaned. "You know, you still haven't told me when and where we are."

"You didn't ask." He sounded innocent and hurt.

"Taylor!" she yelled in frustration.

"The year is 1951 and we're in England, London, the Tower of, to be precise. Wait a minute," he tried to turn around and look at her. "Why should you be asking this? Where are you from, anyway?"

Airdale sighed. This was going to be a little trickier than she thought. "This is going to be really hard for you to understand, so if you're confused, don't worry, so was I." She paused. "I first met the Doctor on June 14, 1974."

"You're right," Steven said. "I'm confused."

"It gets better. In my long association with the Doctor, I have almost become a princess, been hailed as a goddess, almost been killed more times than I can count, and have been wet, cold, and scared beyond all imagination."

"So, that's nothing new to me." He sounded bored.

Airdale became annoyed. "Your medal's in the mail!" she snapped.

"Good! I can add it to my collection." He smiled.

The door creaked open and a tall man walked in. "Ah, James, how nice to see you comfortable. You even have company. She must be an accomplished climber to get up here."

"All cordiality aside, what do you want now, Mannering? Come to gloat?"

"Always direct and to the point, aren't you? Yes, I just thought I'd inform you that in a few hours I will be in such a position that I could have you arrested, maybe even killed, and no one would say anything."

"You wouldn't dare. Murder is murder no matter who commits it." Steven glared at him, but the man only smirked back.

"We shall see, James. We shall see. I'll give your regrets to your sister. I'm sure she'll understand." He walked out and they heard the bolt slam home.

Airdale released the breath she had been holding. "Who is he, and why did he call you 'James'?"

"That's my real name. I was born James William Richard Charles of the Royal House of Stuart. I grew up in the States under the name of Steven Taylor. That was Roger Mannering and he's convinced that I was the indirect cause of his brother's death."

"How did his brother die?"

"He committed suicide in jail. He found out the true identity of my sister and I and was determined to get us out of the way, as he was engaged to the then-Princess Elizabeth and my presence would ruin his chance at power. He was caught in the attempt. My sister and I were told of our past by Winston Churchill--recognize him?"

"Now I know what happened after that. I remember seeing the wedding on film. If we don't get out and stop him, the whole course of history will be changed. Too bad we're tied up." She felt the ropes tighten and loosen. "What are you trying to do?"

"It's an old trick I've perfected. I should be getting free just...about...NOW!" He stood and rubbed his wrists before bending down to untie Airdale. He walked to the door. "There are two things I need to know about you before I put this plan into action."

"And what might they be?"

"Do you know any self-defense and can you run fast?"

"After being with the Doctor, you learn."

"Okay. You take one guard while I take the other then run like hell. When you get out the front gate, head for St. Paul's. Do you know where that is?"

"Don't worry. I'll follow the crowds."

Steven grinned then knelt down and started a small fire that drew the guards' attention. When they opened the door, Steven and Airdale knocked them out, ran down the stone steps, and mingled with the tourists on their way out.

*************************************************

Once the center column stopped, the Doctor put on his hat, wrapped his scarf firmly about his neck, and then strode out of the TARDIS. He looked around but all he saw was two chairs and some rope. "Crumbs, too late. It's a good thing I gave Airdale that homing device when we were on Trantrum. I'll tune in on that."

He turned to go back into the TARDIS when a voice came from behind. "Thank you, Doctor. That will make finding them so much easier."

The Doctor spun around to find himself face-to-face with the same little man that had entered the room when he and Airdale had first arrived. "I should have known it was you. So what point of history are you meddling with now?"

The other Time Lord looked injured and innocent. "Me? Why, nothing of importance. Just setting the course of history straight. Making sure everything goes as it should."

"You?" the Doctor laughed. "Making sure that history goes right? That would be a first. You're probably here for your own profit."

"How perceptive, Doctor." The Monk pulled a gun from his pocket. "And this time you won't stop me."

************************************************

As they ran through the crowd of happy celebrants, Airdale struggled to keep up with Steven. She lost him momentarily but spotted him as he ran across the street ahead of her. She caught up with him as he was forced to stop by police who didn't recognize him. He looked back and saw their pursuers. He grabbed Airdale and ran into an alley alongside the cathedral. As he began trying to pry open a window leading into the cellar, Airdale finally realized who he was. "You're the Eagle, aren't you?" The exploits of the Eagle as a jewel thief were legendary and only escalated when he joined the French Resistance during WWII. Since she couldn't see what he was doing and why he didn't answer, she asked again. Still no answer. "Taylor, answer me! Where the bloody hell are you?"

Steven ran to cup his hand over her mouth. "For God's sake, will you be quiet," he hissed into her ear. "These alleys echo everything."

"Why didn't you answer me?"

"I was trying to open a window so we could get in. It's too late. They're probably close now." He pulled her into a niche by a window. "When they get here, stay quiet. The slightest noise will draw them closer."

She nodded and whispered, "Just answer my question: are you the Eagle?"

"You just figured it out?" He smiled at her over his shoulder.

"History was never my strong point."

They could hear the men moving through the alley and pulled in closer to the wall. Unfortunately, they also moved into some boxes. Steven immediately began looking around for something--anything--with which to break the window. Airdale looked down the alley. "Hurry, they're heading this way."

Steven finally broke the window and cleared it of debris. "I'll climb in first then help you." She nodded as he started to work his way into the cellar.

He was halfway through when he heard Airdale call his name. "Um, Steven, do you think you could come out here right now?"

"Why?" He turned around. "What's wr--?" Steven saw that Airdale was now surrounded by several men, all holding guns. "I see the problem and think that the best solution would be to cooperate." He climbed back out and was grabbed by two of the men then he and Airdale were hustled out of the alley.

As they walked out, Airdale looked at Steven. "Ooops," was all she said.

******************************************************

The Doctor looked at the gun in the Monk's hand. This is getting serious, he thought. He had better watch his step. "Your regeneration has changed more than your physiognomy. You were never one to resort to weapons as such."

"Let's just say I've learned people cooperate more when they've a high energy weapon pointed at them." He held out his other hand. "The homing device, please, Doctor." The Doctor sighed and moved towards the desk. He pulled out his sonic screwdriver, a bag of melted jelly babies, some string, a yo-yo, a handful of assorted coins, an apple core, a book, and a necklace. The Monk looked at the collection and grimaced. "What do you want with all this junk?"

The Doctor was insulted. He absent-mindedly picked up the book. "Why, my dear fellow, you can do a lot of things with them. For example, take this book--" He looked at the cover which read 500 Year Diary. "I was wondering where this went to." He opened it, read something that made him smile, then set it down with a bang. He smiled at the Monk as he picked up the apple core. "You won't believe what Issac Newton taught me to do with this."

The Monk smiled, slightly amused. "Do tell."

The Doctor replied, "How about if I show you?" He then threw it at the Monk. The Monk put his hands up to bat away the fruit, dropping the gun in the process. The Doctor grabbed his screwdriver and the necklace before running into the TARDIS. The Monk recovered too late.

The police-box vanished with its familiar groan. As it disappeared, the Monk smiled evilly. "Don't worry, 'my dear fellow', you'll be back. Don't forget, I've got something you want."

****************************************************

They led Airdale and Steven through the crowd in front of St. Paul's. Steven realized now that there was no way he could stop Mannering. No way, unless the Doctor could do something. Soon they came to where the crowd was thickest. Steven lost sight of Airdale and her guards but heard them shout in anger. Steven saw her further down the road. She stopped running and looked towards him, confused. "Run, Airdale! Don't worry 'bout me! Get help!" Steven's own guards smirked and told him that no help would get to him in time. In time? In time for what? They led him to a waiting car and drove off.

Airdale watched from a distance. He said to get help, but where? Who'd pay attention to her? She could go to the Doctor, but he was in the Tower. She could try to see Steven's sister, but it would be a bit hard as she was just about to get married.

She puzzled over it as she pushed her way through the crowd. Just as she reached the base of the cathedral steps and was thinking of a way to get past security, the bells began to peal and the crowd began to cheer. The main doors opened and the couple walked down the steps to the waiting carriage. She was too late.

She watched din silence as they drove away. She let the crowd jostle her. She didn't care. Somebody had succeeded in changing history. She had to tell the Doctor! She ran up the steps to get a better vantage point but bumped into a man who was on his way down. She quickly recovered her balance. "I'm sorry, I was in a bit of a hurry."

"It's quite all right. No broken bones." He forced a smile then looked at the receding carriage.

She looked at him. He was good-looking and reminded her of Steven in some ways. He was maybe an inch or two shorter (about 5'9"), with sandy brown hair and brown eyes. When she realized she was staring, she looked down at her clothes and pretended to brush them off.

"Are you okay?" he asked. She nodded. "Did you come for the wedding? You don't seem to be in a very jovial mood."

"Well," she hesitated tot ell him too much. "We--I came here for a vacation and the wedding was taking place. What about you?" she asked, hoping to change the subject. "You were in the wedding party, yet you don't seem happy either."

"No. I felt she shouldn't have married him. There's something just not right."

"Such as?" Airdale was eager to know since she had found someone who shared Steven's doubts.

"For starters, he invited the duke of Edinburgh to lunch two days ago, and no one's heard from him since."

"I have," she said softly.

"You have?" He became excited. "When? Where? Can you take me there?"

"You expect me to take you, a total stranger, somewhere alone? We haven't been properly introduced," she said, putting on an air.

"Of course. My name's John Fitzgerald, a good friend of Steven's. You can call me Fitz."

"My name's Airdale." Fitz raised a questioning eyebrow. "It's short for Airdalaine."

"Well, where is he?"

"He's in the Tower of London. At least he was. They may have taken him somewhere else."

"They? I thought it was just Mannering."

"There's a man who seems to be the leader. They call him Mr. Monk. Steven and I escaped, but he was caught just in front of the cathedral." She looked at him expectantly.

"So?" Fitz shrugged his shoulders.

"Look, you." Airdale was getting slightly annoyed and her Irish temper was showing. "I've had enough sarcasm from Steven to last me three lifetimes! I don't need anymore from you! If you won't help me, I'll find someone who will!" She turned to stalk off when Fitz grabbed her arm.

"C'mon, will ya? I mean, who else in England do you know who'll help?"

Her shoulders sagged. This was true. "You're right."

Fitz smiled encouragingly. "I think I know of someone who might be able to help us," he said as they started down the steps. "He's saved Steven's skin more than once."

***************************************

The Doctor returned to UNIT headquarters to pick up the Brigadier and Sergeant Benton. He needed a few more hands. He stepped out and headed to the Brigadier's office. "Ah, Lethbridge-Stewart, you took my advice and waited."

"Waited? You only left a few seconds ago. Where is Miss Solo?"

"Yes, well, I guess I should fill you in. As I said before, history has been changed. I need your help to set things right again. Come along."

"What? Go with you in that rickety old monstrosity? Never again!"

Benton smiled and headed for the TARDIS while the Doctor grabbed the Brigadier and pulled him towards the lab. "Oh, come on, Allistair. Where's your spirit of adventure?"

"I left it with Omega."

By now, they were in front of the TARDIS. The Doctor pulled the key out of his pocket and tossed it to Benton who then opened the door and stepped inside. The Doctor shoved the Brigadier, still protesting, inside. With a groan, the TARDIS dematerialized.

**********************************************

Steven woke tied to a chair. He looked around and couldn't believe it: he was in the same room as before. "You'd think they'd have a touch of variety."

"Sorry our accommodations disappoint you, your Grace, but when one is living in another's home, one must take what one can get." Steven turned his head to see Mr. Monk lounging in the doorway, a gun in his hand.

"Why did you help Mannering get me out of the way? Did you do it for advancement?"

"In a sense."

"Well, what are you going to do with me? You can't keep me here indefinitely."

"Oh, no? If people forget about you, there will be no problem at all, especially when they find out you're dead." He noticed the look on Steven's face and grinned. "Not that I'd really kill you, you're much too valuable. As we speak, a car--your car--is hurtling over a precipice in Wales. The body will be so badly burned that no one will be able to prove it isn't you. Therefore, if your friend manages to say anything, no one will believe her. I'll leave you with your thoughts."

"Let me know about the funeral!" Steven called after him as the door slammed.

He was alone again. He had been so close to stopping the wedding. If only Airdale hadn't-- He stopped himself. Why should he blame her? It was as much his fault as hers. Just as he accepted the fact of being locked up for a long time, a weird groaning filled the air. "Oh, great, here we go again."

The police-box appeared as before and a man walked out brushing orange dust off his pressed army uniform. Another soldier of a lesser rank also covered in dust followed him. The Doctor followed them out. The officer said, "I never knew Cyrus VII was so...orange."

"At least the natives were happy to see us," replied the Doctor.

The sergeant nodded his head in agreement. "Yeah, after they stopped trying to kill us."

Steven, again feeling ignored, coughed discreetly. The Doctor looked about and noticed him sitting there. "Why, Steven, how good to see you again."

"Then you won't mind untying me again."

"Again? This is becoming a habit for you, isn't it?"

"What can I say? Some people just can't get enough of me."

The Brigadier, looking quite puzzled, asked, "You mean we're really there?"

The Doctor, untying the last knot, gave him an exasperated look. "Of course. I told you."

Lethbridge-Stewart harrumphed and walked over to Steven. "I take it your the fellow we're here to rescue?"

Steven smiled and shook his hand. "I suppose so. Steven Taylor."

"Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart." The sergeant coughed politely. "Oh, and my aide, Sgt. Benton." As Benton and Steven nodded to each other, the Brigadier turned to the Doctor and said, "We've rescued him. Now I suppose we can go back to our own time?"

"We haven't rescued him, we've merely untied him. Anyway, you've forgotten Airdale."

"That's all very well and good, but can we get on with this?" The Brigadier moved purposefully towards the TARDIS. The Doctor nodded and motioned for Steven and Benton to follow.

*******************************************

Airdale and Fitz took the next available taxi to Scotland Yard. Fitz walked up to the sergeant-on-duty while Airdale looked around. She went back to Fitz who was arguing with the sergeant. "Where are all the scruffy men in trenchcoats?"

The sergeant laughed. "You've seen too many films, miss."

When Fitz saw the man in a better mood, he asked again to see John Dolittle. "I must see him. It's urgent."

"I'm sorry, sir, but he left instructions not to be disturbed."

Airdale put on her most beguiling "little girl" expression. "Oh, please! It's extremely important. A matter of life or death!"

The desk sergeant gave in almost at once. "All right, all right. I'll call, but it had better be as important as you say." He picked up the phone as Airdale fluttered her eyelashes at him before turning to wink at Fitz. The sergeant looked up and said, "Right. You can go up, but don't be long. He's not in a good mood." He gave them directions.

After they turned the corner, Airdale smiled at Fitz. "Never fails."

They walked into an office with sparse accommodations. Sitting behind the desk was a busy-looking man. It was impossible to tell how tall he was, but he had a muscular build and looked to be about 35. He ignored them for a moment, and then looked up. "Yes?"

Fitz moved in front of the desk. "This girl has seen Steven Taylor."

"Really? In what parade?" He was unimpressed. "Look, I'm in no mood for jokes."

"But I'm not joking! I saw and spoke with Steven when we were tied up together."

"When did you last see him?"

"No more than half an hour ago outside the cathedral."

"You must have mistaken somebody else for him." Dolittle looked down at his desk and picked up the report he had been reading. "We just got word from Wales. It seems that Steven was in an auto accident. Fell into a ravine. Both car and body were badly burned."

"Can the body be positively identified?" asked Fitz.

Dolittle lowered his eyes and looked a bit sick. "Not really," he said and gave his head a shake. "But that's all incidental now," he said gruffly.

"How can you be so callous? An individual, a hero, has been killed and you're talking as if he were a...a...a library assistant!" yelled Airdale in frustration.

Fitz walked over to the window and gazed out at the Thames. "If the body were too badly burned and can't be identified," he said slowly, "then there's a chance that Airdale is right."

"I suppose," Dolittle agreed. "Let me check it out."

While Dolittle placed a call, Airdale pulled Fitz aside. "Quick, what could I tell him that could verify that I saw Steven?"

Fitz thought for a moment then snapped his fingers. "Did the body have any rings on the left hand?" he asked Dolittle.

After hanging up the phone, Dolittle looked down at the report. "No."

Fitz turned on Airdale. "Tell me, did you see a ring on his left hand?"

"The wedding ring or the other?"

"The other."

"It was a gold square with three shields, one inside the other, a lion in the center."

Fitz looked at Dolittle. "Did they find jewelry of any kind on the body at all?" Dolittle shook his head. "Steven never went anywhere without his wedding or signet rings."

Dolittle nodded. "I know. I saw that very ring on his finger not three weeks ago." He stood. "If the duke of Edinburgh is in danger, then we'd better get going." He grabbed his coat and hat and went out, not even bothering to see if Fitz and Airdale were following.

Following in his wake, Airdale commented, "I told you so, but does anyone listen to me? No!"

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