CULT OF THE CYBER MESSIAH

Chapter Two

The Doctor stuck his head outside the door and looked around.

"Well, we made it New York, 2360," he said.

They stepped outside and looked around while the Doctor closed the door behind them. They wrinkled their noses when they smelled a foul odor. There was rubbish all around them and nearby a group of people huddled in front of a bunch of old TVs that were stacked on top of each other.

"This is the future of New York?" Jack said, looking around. "It looks like a pit."

"Yes," the Doctor said. "Well, that's because there's severe overcrowding and pollution, hence the foul odor. Civilization at this time is completely dependent on computers and technology; everyone is cataloged and has a computer file from the time they're born until the time they die. This is the dying out of Earth just before the first Great and Bountiful Human Empire begins and then the humans branch out and inhabit other planets. Until then, they have to live elbow to elbow and New York is one of the worse cities in the world."

He looked at Dex.

"Your friend wanted to come here?"

He shrugged.

"He figured it'd be a good place to hide, Father."

"How? Everyone is constantly monitored here. I figured if he wanted to keep a low profile he'd go somewhere where CCTV wouldn't be watching his every move."

"That's where he asked me to drop him off," Dex replied.

"What's his human name?"

"Mark Patterson."

"Right, on the other hand, we can just go look up Mark Patterson on a computer, find his address, convince him to go back to the TARDIS, use the chameleon arch and we're done. So, let's get to it, my family."

They followed him when he walked off. While they passed the TVs, they glanced over at the dirty, shabbily dressed people huddling in front of them. Nearby, an oil drum was on fire giving them some heat and respite from the chilly air. A man was talking on the TV screens; his face was filling the entire screen like he was only a few inches from the camera lens. They paused a moment and watched.

"This is Blank Reg," the man said with an Australian accent, "and you're watching Big Time Television. The network for the Blank Generation. Now we're gonna play another video block for all of you blanks out there."

He slid his chair back slightly and they noticed his head was shaved except for three strips of hair on the sides that were dyed red and a large yellow Mohawk on top. He had numerous piercings in his ears and nose and was wearing a battered black leather jacket and black t-shirt. He pushed a button and a video of a heavy metal band started. They stared at the group of people who were staring at the screen, mesmerized. The Doctor beckoned to his family and they continued on.

They walked down the street and saw more trash and dirt. There were other indigents huddled together and a few mentally ill people screaming at each other while they fought over a TV.

"Lovely," Rose muttered, "nice to know that eventually the world is gonna be one big slum."

"Not everyone lives like this," the Doctor said to her. "This really is just the slums. Over there in the big city, there's a lot less filth."

Rain glanced up at one building that towered above all the others. On the front in big bold red letters was NETWORK 23. Clustered around them were other large skyscrapers but even the next tallest one was puny compared to the Network 23 one. The only other one with lettering on the front was one several feet away that had ZIK ZAK on the front in yellow letters.

"I'm guessing Network 23 and Zik Zak are very important companies," Alan said.

"Seems so, maybe we should try one of them first," the Doctor replied.

Just then, a haggard woman lunged herself at Awinita and she let out a huge gasp when she seized her arm.

"Got any credits, Honey?" she said.

The Doctor spun around and took hold of the lady's arm.

"Back off," he growled at her.

"I only want some credits."

"We don't have any," the Doctor insisted.

Awinita finally wrenched her arm out of her grasp and stepped back to Alan who took hold of her arms in a protective gesture. The woman glared at them and muttered curses about being skinflints while she wandered off.

"I hated to do that, she only wanted some credits," the Doctor said, "but if I didn't, we would have been swamped with others wanting our credit sticks and it's best to just keep those to ourselves before other tramps start beating us up and taking them off us."

Alan squeezed his sister's arms before letting go and they resumed walking towards the downtown portion of the city.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

After thirty minutes, they reached downtown New York which was a lot cleaner and safer looking than the outskirts.

"I hope someone doesn't try to make off with the TARDIS while we're here, Bro," Awinita said.

"I don't think they will. The perception filter will help keep that from happening," the Doctor said.

"You hope," Mingxia added.

"Just have a bit of faith in me. It hasn't been nicked yet, has it? Besides what would people want with a big blue box? Technology is far more valuable here than a battered police box."

Rain noticed a couple of people nearby. They had silver earpieces like the ones the Cybermen used to control people. She pointed it out to the Doctor.

"No, Latara, I think that's their version of a mobile," he said. "It's not in both ears and they're talking to someone on the phone, not to mention that's not a cyber speech pattern, a gossipy speech pattern to be sure but not a cyber one."

He squeezed his wife's hand and they walked on towards Network 23. Reaching the building, they stepped inside, tried the inner door and found it locked. A CCTV camera focused right on them.

"Yes?" they heard a male voice say from an intercom next to the inner door, "what do you want?"

"Yes, hi, I'm the Doctor," he said, speaking into it, "we're looking for a computer we can use? We need to check something."

"There are no public computers here," the male said tersely, "try a cyber café or go home and get on your own computer."

"We don't have one," the Doctor said.

There was a sigh.

"What is this, some kind of stupid prank? Go away."

"But he's telling the truth," Donna said.

"Lady, who do you think you're fooling? Everyone has a computer. It's against the law not to have one. I wasn't born yesterday. Now go away before I summon security."

"Fine, we're going, thank you for your time," the Doctor said angrily.

They stepped outside.

"Okay, so where's a cyber café then?" Mingxia asked.

"I guess we'll just have to walk around and see if we can spot one. Come on," the Doctor said.

They walked away. While they walked, they noticed that almost every block had some kind of public TV screen which broadcast the news and there were people who were huddled around them watching intently.

"Boy, they sure do love their telly here," Donna said.

They crossed the street, noticing with some amusement that even though some of the technology they had seen was futuristic, the cars resembled those made in the 1950's, 60's and 70's. They made it across and continued on.

"Hopefully, we'll find one of these cyber cafés quickly," the Doctor said. "Once we do, we'll check for any mention of Mark Patterson and…"

"HELP! OH, GOD, HELP ME!"

They all froze when they heard a female screaming far above them. They jerked their heads up and noticed a man standing on top of the building holding a woman near the edge while he held a gun to her head.

"SHUT UP, BITCH, OR I'LL BLOW YOUR BRAINS OUT!" he screamed at her.

The Doctor glanced at his family.

"I guess we'll have to take a slight side trip on our way to the cyber café then," he said.

They quickly hurried to the front door of the building. The Doctor tried the door and when he found it locked, he whipped out his sonic screwdriver, opened it and quickly disabled the CCTV camera just inside it. Once that was done, all of them ran across the grey marble floor of the office building, taking notice that no one was around them and there was no one sitting at the reception desk.

"Why do I have a feeling this is a huge hostage situation we're walking into?" Jack said.

The door slid open and all of them crowded inside. The Doctor hit the button for the top floor and all of them readied their screwdrivers while the elevator took them up.

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