Identity Crisis session 3

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Identity Crisis Session 3 - Follow the Badger!: September 19th 2006, 11:30am - September 19th 2006, 6:00pm

With Ralph trying to get a grip on his identity by immersing himself in his work, Roberta searching away in the King's College Library for references to Golden Arches in signs and symbology, Tarquin decides it is time to go and brag to his fellow students about being a mass murder, Gabriel makes a few calls and looks through his digital camera files, and our mysterious cyclists goes to buy some mangos and old newspapers from the local Korean supermarket…

Whilst Roberta is reading through one particular book on symbolism through the ages, she comes across a flyer inserted into the book - evidently someone having used it as a bookmark fairly recently. Advertising a student production of 'Waiting for Godot', the title has been crossed out and replaced with 'Macbeth' - likewise, character names have been crossed through and replaced, and a couple of actors faces crossed out. One in particular catches her eye. A fairly young man, formerly in a main role, who reminds her of someone. Someone in the papers from a few years ago. Peter Wayfield MP, a rising star in the government, connected with the department of transport for London, tipped to have been next in line to get a front row seat in the next cabinet reshuffle, but who suddenly decided to resign for no apparent reason a couple of years back and faded from the media spotlight ever since. Upon closer inspection, the likeness seems to dissipate, but the recognition has made a lingering impression. Thinking there might well be a connection between this man and the events unfolding around her, she takes the flyer and heads for the door…

Meanwhile, Tarquin, having been showing off his blood splattered clothes to the fellow students in the college bar, is politely told by the barman to either refrain from freaking out the customers by shutting up, or leave. He decides to change topic and order more drinks. As he slides into intoxication, he notices a couple of acquaintances from the drama class wandering in, taking up a seat opposite him and practicing their lines from 'Macbeth'. The scene in question is Lady Macbeth convincing her husband to go through with the murder of King Duncan. As he watches, the lights begin to dim, people gradually start to wander out of the bar until it is only Tarquin and the man playing Macbeth himself, as he utters the immortal line 'Is this a dagger I see before me?' The actor, as it surrounded by a spotlight, an overlay of theatrical costume upon him in the glare of the light, looks up and locks eyes with Tarquin as he asks 'who do you serve?' Tarquin just blinks, drunk and confused, the lights begin to return to normal, people begin to wander in again and the scene returns to normal. He watches for a few moments more, but with little happening, he decides to head outdoors where he examines a small thin tube he discovered the previous night hidden in the lining of his coat. He pushes a button on one end and a very fine, razor sharp blade extends from out of the opposite end. He pushes it again and the blade retracts. Hiding it once more in his coat, he staggers to the library…

… just as Roberta is leaving. She spots him and shows him the flyer. Seeing his state, she proceeds to take him to the canteen and dose him up on coffee. A hyperactive-drunk Tarquin and perfectly sober Roberta decide to head off to the student drama hall to catch the next rehearsal of the play - which Tarquin explains was cancelled the afternoon of the first rehearsal from being 'Waiting for Godot' to 'Macbeth' with no apparent explanation. The two of them make their way inside and await the actors and stage crew to appear.

At the same time, Gabriel, looking through his photos on his digital camera has identified some images most certainly not taken by himself… as far as he can remember anyway. The images, most of which are just of back alleys, seem to be have taken by someone with an expert eye for surveillance who has been watching the homeless across North London. Whilst the vast majority of the photos are one of a different alleyway or underpasses, there are three photos of a place called 'The Palace Theatre', which he identifies as being just off Regent's Park. Coming full circle back to where he started, except this time above ground and not on the tube far below ground, he heads off at speed to the building.

Once upon a time it could have been a rather grand example of art deco architecture, but has long since fallen into disrepair. Finding the front double doors obstructed from the inside, he heads around to the back of the building and finds a stage door partially open at the top of a flight of steps. As a cold wind passes over him for a fraction of a second he steps inside and his nostrils are assaulted with the culminated smell of urine and other such bodily deposits piled and spilled in corners and randomly against and up the wall of what would otherwise have been a fairly grand walkway between dressing rooms leading to the stage. Away from the stench of the homeless habitation, he finds himself upon the stage standing before a makeshift throne that resembles that which he saw the previous night at the rave. As he looks into the darkness of the auditorium, from the balconies he sees a scattered group of figures sliding into the shadows, out of his gaze. He calls up to them, but none of them respond.

From the other side of the stage, three figures emerge, one in front of two others, dressed in ragged sports attire. They stop on the other side of the stage and enquire as to what he is doing here. Gabriel explains that someone has been targeting the homeless, killing them off on the streets and that he came past here when he learned that someone had been paying a particular interest in the place, just to see if everyone was alright. The lead man, explaining that the place is very well kept and protected (as it is their home) assures him that everything is fine. Gabriel enquires about the throne, and is told that it was brought up from the storage under the stage when they first arrived. It's used occasionally, but he doesn't say who by. Looking at them in his own particular way, Gabriel is somewhat curious to say the least when he sees the overlay of suits of Athurian suits of armour upon them, the lead man being dressed more authoritarian than the other two. They suggest that if he's finished looking around, now that he's happy everyone there is okay, that he should be on his way. They offer to escort him out and lead him to the front doors through a lobby that looks like it is being refurbished slowly, where a makeshift portcullis hangs over a barred set of front doors. He steps out and the doors are shut and barred gently behind him. At the same time, on the other side of the road, a lady in a blue sports car, wearing a brightly coloured and decorated tie (depicting another sports car) winds up her windows, dons her sunglasses and drives off with a squeal of tires. Gabriel makes his way back to his own car, pulling out his phone to answer a call from the still as yet anonymous cyclist…

… who a short while before the call had returned from his shopping trip to his very elegant apartment, just off Tottenham Court Road, baring his fruit and newspaper. He puts in a call to work and explains he won't be in today, and asks what the general state of play there is at the moment. With the violence on the streets being as it is, they haven't wanted to take on much work for the moment, but are willing to take very urgent cases for a much inflated price - which he makes a point of requesting, should any come in. He then puts down the phone and gets down to business.

Proceeding to munch through a lot of mangos and swilling them down with bottled water, he cuts the newspapers up into strips and blocks of words, pulls over a pot glue which he scatters on the ceiling, takes a deep breath, pops a pill, closes his eyes and throws the cut up sheets skyward.

As his vision clears as he slowly opens his eyes, he finds himself looking back upon the eyes of a somewhat familiar face. A badger, crawling out of a photo from one of the sheets stuck to the ceiling sits there and looks at him for a moment, tilting his head from side to side slowly. Eventually, he straightens up and begins to walk across the ceiling, his clawed hands and feet tearing away layers of the newspaper as he goes. As he cuts through the middle of the glued mass, he uncovers a cartoon drawing of a man, dressed in ragged clothes, holding a sword in one hand and a plain crown in the other. He stands to the left of a huge headline proclaiming 'LONG LIVE THE KING!' To the right is another cartoon image of a woman in a business suit, day planner sticking out of her pocket, leaning on a cane, a briefcase in the other hand.

The badger turns, sniffs and starts to poke at seemingly random places on the canvas of cuttings. Sections revealed and falling away catch his eye.

A section of a photo of the LA Confidential film poster proclaiming 'Hush hush'. An advert for the Holiday Inn. Three letters in huge bold type - 'TNI'. Three numbers in a row: 101. A mask for an oriental exhibition that the badger scratches at frantically for a moment to reveal another mask beneath it, and another, and another, and another going on into the wall before just being left with a hollow outline of a face on the deepest level. A series of names: Wayfield, Erika, Bob, Charles, Mansfield, Fisher, Peter, 'Carl and Jolene', Todd, Moor, Smith, Matheson, Josie,

Finally, the badger, after dancing across the ceiling, shakes his fur and a cascade of loose cuttings falls like snow from the ceiling, joining those on the floor already to spell out a single word in skewed lettering: Godwalker.

Eyes wide and swaying as he sits cross-legged on the floor, notepad in front of him where he has scribbled down frantically the insights he has been granted by his guide, the Badger, the cyclist turns his attention back to the phone and dials Gabriel…

… who was returning to his car at the time. In a frantic rush he says the badger has shown him the patterns in the randomness and that he wants to see everyone at his place (and that is name is 'Bard'). Gabriel manages to get a word in edge-ways (just) and says he has seen some guys in suits of armour. Bard rambles on, trying to get himself into the Guinness Book of Records for the most sentences used in the shortest space of time with only the vaguest train of thought to connect them before he abruptly hang up… only to call back a few moments later asking if someone had called a second ago that made very little sense. Gabriel confirms this and relieved the man hangs up again and heads off to try and find his fridge as the badger sits on the worktop.

As Gabriel heads off towards Tottenham Court Road, he calls Roberta…

… who is still with Tarquin, but after a short, but odd set of events having unfolded at the drama rehearsal. Not long after they arrived, the first students began to file into the room and take their places, the actors seeming to be in dress rehearsal mode, which confuses Tarquin especially since he states that this is only the second actual get-together to go through the play. When the director arrives, one of the drama department lecturers, Tarquin steps in front of him and in his hyperactive state rattles off words like a machinegun blast (that would have made the cyclist proud) saying that:

apartanypartwilldoIcanreaditquickgetreadyandbeonstageinnotimeatallsiryessir!

The director, somewhat taken aback, takes a step in the same direction as his natural response and hands a script to him and points him the direction of another couple of the actors who are sat off to one side - one leaning back in his chair, legs spread in front of him and snoring loudly, the other nodding forward and jerking back as he tries to focus on the script that keeps almost sliding out of his hands. Tarquin marches over to them and sits down and speeds through the script as the actors on stage are getting ready.

A few moments later, the director calls for quiet and they begin with the scene leading up to the visitation of Banquo's ghost… except it is not a Banquo that emerges from the back of the stage, but a young lady in a business suit, leaning on a cane and carrying a case who walks over to the long table where the court is holding it's feast and simply asks 'so, what is on the agenda for this meeting?' The actors, director, audience and stage hands all look similarly confused, and Tarquin shakes his head noticeably, pointing to the script indicating she has the wrong lines. She begins to look confused herself and wanders back off stage the way she came in. Tarquin and Roberta head around to meet her where she is looking over the curtain controls, almost in a dazed state. Face-to-face, Tarquin recognizes her as one of the stage hands, not an actress. They enquire if she is feeling alright and when she replies that she doesn't know, they decide to lead her away for some coffee.

She explains her name is Caroline Mercer and that she is a Business and Politics student who like doing the behind the scenes work at the productions. Saying she has a bit of a headache and that she's sleepy, they are interrupted by the ringing of Roberta's phone as Gabriel calls them…

… as he is on his way to Tottenham Court Road. He explains about the call from their cyclist companion at which point the girl clicks her fingers as she apparently remembers something. A lecture she has to go to, the guest speaker she cannot possibly miss. They enquire who as Gabriel listens on the other end of the line. Erika Fisher, THE Erika Fisher, she explains. None the wiser, Tarquin and Roberta ask where they can meet up with her later if they need to, to make sure she is alright. She says, as she gathers her things and hurries off, that they can find her generally in her room, East wing of the student halls, third floor, room 33. '333…' Roberta comments, almost ominously, '… again'.

They watch her go and then begin to make their way across central London to Tottenham Court Road, Tarquin trying to sober up as much as he can along the way, but finding as the coffee wears off he is becoming more miserable as he does. The joys of an average student hangover.

Gabriel gets to the apartment a little while ahead of the students, but waits outside to head up with them. Bard buzzes them through and greats them at the door. They are somewhat confused that someone with his outward characteristics has a high class apartment like this. A peculiar odor fills the room, they notice and Gabriel, after some quick mental arithmetic states that they could lock people up for a little over 200 years for possession of such quantity. Bard proceeds to offer them some tea, water, etc. Roberta accepts the water, as long as it's bottled, which the cyclist says he'll go and get for her - as soon as he works out where the fridge has got to. He gestures to panels that all look the same around the room and that he has frequently put his washing in the freezer before because of that layout.

He sits them down and shows them the fruits of his labours (not the mangos, but they are certainly other fruits that they notice). Roberta quickly catches on to 'Erika' and 'Fisher', remembering what Caroline said and repeats it for the others. She gets out her laptop and plugs into a phone-line to do some quick research.

Erika Fisher, high flying businesswoman in the world of corporate America. Author of the book 'To Go' detailing her rise to success.

Roberta changes direction for a moment and enters '333'. Amongst the enormous amount of results that come back, she finds a title for a page marked 'le Comte de Saint Germain'. The page isn't so much about the mythical figure, but more about a book by once-renowned author Dirk Allen by the name of '333'. The page is part of a conspiracy-theory-esque site that lists other entries for books where popular culture has blurred the facts of whether such tomes were ever actually written, such as the Necronomicon, etc. The book, if it ever existed, was rumoured to have dealt with the secret history of the universe and the role that this 'first and last man' plays within it. Somewhat perplexed and wondering if this had any relevance to the number keeping forcing itself back in front of their eyes, they return to the list, the badger shrugging perplexed on the worktop.

'Godwalker' seems to definitely strikes a chord with Tarquin, who blinks and seems to sober up pretty quickly upon hearing it mentioned. Bard spots the reaction and leaps upon the opportunity it presents by repeating the word over and over (recording it whilst Tarquin is disorientated and running it through his computer into a trance-dance repeating rhythm), trying to force whatever happened to Tarquin to manifest fully. Eventually, as each utterance of the word seems to hit his senses like a punch in the face, he begins to calm and describes what he thinks he saw.

A black man in a business suit, in an office inside a skyscraper reaches forward for a wallet but knocks a set of keys from the desk behind it. The slow in mid air and stop, motionless, erupting in a bright white light that shrinks into the eye of a beautiful woman, naked on top of a similarly naked man underneath her. Cameras focus on the pair in the midst of their lovemaking from all angles as the light erupts once again, this time from her eyes, nose, mouth, ears and finally skin. When it fades, she is gone and the man is left wide eyed and breathless beneath her. The look of shock is almost one of terror, like those in the eyes of a woman looking towards billiard balls flying from a table straight towards her. A handsome man with an arrogant smile holding a hollowed out skull cup in one hand commands the flying balls as another man, angry, stands shouting in a doorway. Another woman cowers in a corner, head in her hands.

As he relates his story, Gabriel mutters and points towards the words 'Peter' and 'Wayfield'. He explains that a while ago, he was a cop. He tried to bring Wayfield down after he murdered a girl in a back alley but all he got was people telling him he was mad, all the evidence going missing, his colleagues turning against him and eventually him being kicked off the force. He explains that the image of the man commanding billiard balls to fly across a room reminds him of Wayfield, except he was using bricks, firing them out of a wall like a cannon to stone the girl to death.

Roberta and Tarquin explain about the play, the flyer and the Wayfield connection that has arisen there. Gabriel furthers this by saying he thought he saw him at the rave last night and that the MP used to be on the board for the transport of London, and that this all started in Regent's Park on the underground. This is no coincidence.

They focus on the initials 'TNI' and Roberta runs another search on her laptop. After a few minutes she comes up with a screen from a beta site with the three letters, with a set of login and password boxes. With nothing else seemingly leaping out at them, they return again to the list and Bard, reading the next line out backs away from them and begins to shake, raising a finger to his lips.

'Hush hush' he comments quietly. The others try to ask him what is wrong but the only thing he writes is 'The Thought Police' on a piece of paper and nervously looking around says he can't say anymore. Looking over to the workspace, the badger seems to agree this is a good idea as he curls up next to a fluffy tiger and brings a finger of his paw up to his lips and lets out a long 'Shhhhhh'.

Tarquin, for no apparent reason, turns around and holds out the slim tube he grabs out of his pocket and freezes for a moment. Roberta grabs him by the wrist when she sees the blade. Tarquin twists his wrist around and slices at hers reflexively and narrowly misses a major artery. She leaps back from him as Bard jumps forward holding a pillow above his head, which is neatly cut in two by the blade. However, a direct hit to his head with a mango from Gabriel sends him to the floor and he is tied up a moment later.

As he grows calmer, he explains he heard someone behind him and turned to see a woman on a desk with a sword having been run through her, held by a figure dressed in a crown and robes. As the others stand listening, Gabriel looks out of the window at the sound of an approaching car and sees two familiar looking faces and an equally familiar looking car - except this time he isn't looking down at them from the top of his apartment building. The man and woman in black suits, white shirts, black ties, walk forward, the latter carrying a large pilots case and proceed to break open the front door. Bard simply buzzes them up and the others start to panic. Roberta unties Tarquin and then joins Gabriel as he is legging it out of the fire escape. Tarquin decides to stay around for a minute or two, until he sees them lingering outside the door, then runs too.

Bard is left alone in his apartment. He opens the door…

… as the others down on the street let down the tires of the strangers car and shove a mango up its exhaust pipe. Roberta runs off to the library again, the one place where she feels safe, Gabriel runs off with her, and Tarquin stays hidden around a corner to keep an eye on things.

After a few minutes the strangers leave and after having seen the mess that has been made of their car, replace the two front tires with spares from the back and attempt to make the car limp away to the nearest garage - only ending up having to push it once the mango causes their exhaust to rupture. When they are out of sight, Tarquin goes back up to the apartment where there is the definite smell of smoke and the cyclist is burning the cut up newspaper.

He explains that he's found out what TNI means: The New Inquisition.

Tarquin shrugs. "Well, they certainly weren't expected, were they," they comments.

Bard calls the others to let them know that the coast is clear…