Ms Darben was surprised at the size of Mixt's dwelling. Behind the overgrown gardens it looked more like an old municipal building, in the middle of its own park, than a private residence. The front porch was ancient, and the doorbell looked as if it might have been there for a hundred years or more.
Nakishdan answered the door in a startlingly bright yellow kimono. Mixt was right behind him.
'I've come about - ' began the head of the Historical Disturbances Department.
'We're arguing,' said Nakishdan
'Mixt is being unreasonable.'
'Unreasonable? There's nothing unreasonable about it.' Mixt looked at Ms Darben. 'Every time we're playing a game on the playstation and some female character appears, Nakishdan shouts 'fuck her!' He thinks it's funny. I'm fed up with it.'
'I don't do it every time.'
'Yes you do. And it's not funny.'
'It is funny sometimes.'
'It might have been vaguely amusing the first time. Now it's annoying. And it's not funny when you yell it at the Disney channel either.'
Nakishdan was unable to prevent himself from laughing at the thought, further infuriating Mixt.
'How can anyone play games of watch TV when some idiot keeps yelling 'fuck her' at the TV? It's like living with an imbecile.'
'You laughed in Lord of the Rings.'
'No I didn't. You laughed. No one else laughs.'
Mixt turned to Ms Darben.
'Wouldn't you be annoyed? I mean if you were playing Star Metal Planet and your Space Captain is just going to talk to the blue-skinned alien woman and suddenly the person on the couch beside you yells 'fuck her,' like it's the funniest thing ever?'
'You really need to go to the gig.'
'The gig. In 1978. You're needed there now.'
Mixt and Nakishdan both looked embarrassed.
'Right. The gig. We were going to go. But then we couldn't.'
'Because we decided we didn't want to,' said Nakishdan.
'So we came home.'
'Then we got into an argument.'
'Nakishdan keeps yelling stupid things at the TV.'
'Maybe I have Tourette's?'
'You don't have Tourette's, you're just an idiot. And immature. Which is odd, for someone who's 150 years old.'
'I think I'm still 18, really.'
Ms Darben's phone rang. It was Duluth. 'Rainith says she'll only go on the mission if Mixt and Nakishdan stop arguing like stupid infants.'
'Tell her we'll meet her at the station,' said Ms Darben. 'Everything's fine here.'
The tube train ran rather noisily along the elderly northern line.
'That was quite humiliating.' Mixt frowned. 'I wasn't expecting Ms Darben to come knocking at the door.'
'Me neither. It was like we'd been dodging classes at school or something.'
Ms Darben's appearance had made Mixt and Nakishdan forget their argument for the meantime. Search Unit Sigma was back in action. Rainith sat further along the carriage, ignoring them.
'I didn't go to school as such,' said Mixt. 'We didn't really have one. But we did have singing lessons at Stonehenge, right under one of the big arches. I liked that.'
Suddenly, and unexpectedly, Mixt looked overwhelmingly sad.
'What's the matter?'
'It was the same arch that - you know.'
'What arch? You've hardly told me anything about your life at Stonehenge.'
'So what arch? What happened?'
Mixt shook her head. 'I'll tell you some other time.'
They rode on in silence. The carriages rattled as they rounded an underground curve in the line. Eventually Rainith rose to her feet, standing quite steadily despite the swaying and deceleration as they arrived at Hampstead Tube Station.
As they exited the train, Mixt touched the naginata concealed beneath her coat, Nakishdan touched the pommel of his sword, hidden beneath his kimono, now black, and Rainith did the same with her sword, an action which, unspoken and unrealising, they had all come to share, at the commencement of each mission.
'So,' said Mixt, as they emerged into the dark, North London street. 'Raped. It's an odd name for a band. You'd have thought there would be public outrage.'
'Maybe there was?'
'Do you think they're going to be - eh - '
'I don't know what they're going to be. I'm prepared for the worst.'
They paused briefly outside the Moonlight Club. A few people were drifting in. There was no obvious sign of anything unusual.
Rainith sniffed the air. 'I can sense something.'
Nakishdan was troubled. 'Me too. In fact I can sense quite a lot.'
'Maybe. Maybe something else.'
Nakishdan shrugged. His psychic powers were lighting up, but he didn't know why.
'Raped is a really bad name for a band,' said Mixt. 'If I meet them I'm going to tell them.'
Search Unit Sigma walked into the Moonlight Club.
'You know, there are a lot of pretty girls here.'
Nakishdan scanned the audience. 'You're right, there are.'
'Isn't that odd? With the band being called Raped? Why do they have female fans? Shouldn't they be protesting outside or something?'
Nakishdan shrugged. He didn't know.
The fairy had disappeared. The Moonlight Club was not packed, but there was a decent sized crowd in to see the band. The small stage was laden with Marshal amps and speakers, a sight Mixt had become used to since their missions began. Again, the room was full of smoke, and the aroma of beer; it was noisy, as friends spoke loudly to each other over the music from the PA.
'I think there are some secret agents here. Or policemen, or something. Look.'
Mixt followed Nakishdan's gaze towards a table at the back of the venue. The three men sitting there did look out of place. They were older than anyone else, and more smartly dressed.
'They're not doing a very good job of blending in. Can you sense anything?'
Nakishdan nodded. They didn't belong in this time period.
Rainith appeared, clutching some paper.
'What's a gig review?'
'What does gig review mean?'
'It means a journalist goes to see a gig and then writes what he thinks of the band.'
'Oh.' Rainith pursed her lips. 'Could I do that?'
Given the unexpectedness of the question, and the fact that it was unusual for the unfriendly Rainith to speak at all, Nakishdan and Mixt were stuck for an answer.
'Could we have more context?' ventured Mixt.
'I talked to a girl who makes this.' Rainith brandished the paper. 'She says it's a fanzine called Sticky Glitter.'
Sticky Glitter fanzine was made up of four sheets of A4 paper, folded over to make eight pages. It was black and white, and looked as if it had been photocopied on a machine which was running short of ink. Studying the almost illegible handwriting on the cover, Mixt felt some surprise that anyone would want to present such a thing before the public, but Rainith seemed keen.
'I told the girl how much I liked X-Ray Spex and she said I should write a review. 'Can anyone do that?'
Rainith, while eager, seemed to be labouring under the impression that writing a review was a specialised form of work, perhaps requiring some sort of qualification.
'I'm sure anyone can write a review,' said Mixt. 'But why would you want to?'
'Because stupid people like you didn't like the band enough,' said Rainith.
'They really weren't that great,' said Nakishdan.
'Yes they were, you're just too stupid to realise it.'
Nakishdan bridled at being called stupid.
'Who's stupid? You're stupid. We're meant to be here on an important mission and you're running off talking to people about fanzines. It looks rubbish anyway.'
'No it's not, it's good.'
'So what? We should be concentrating on our mission.'
'Concentrating? You spent the whole tube journey talking about Lara Croft's breasts.'
Nakishdan defended himself. 'I just don't like the way they made them smaller. There was no need for it.'
'They're modernising the game,' said Mixt. 'Don't want to alienate female gamers, probably.'
'Would they really be alienated? Her breasts were iconic. You shouldn't just go round messing with them for no reason.'
'You're sounding more stupid all the time.'
'Mixt, tell Rainith to stop insulting me. It's bad for the mission.'
'How would you write a review?' Mixt was curious. 'We don't live in this time period. This is more than thirty years ago.'
Rainith frowned. She hadn't considered the practical difficulties. 'I could send it back. The Department could do it.'
'It sounds difficult. I'm not sure they'd want to be sending back communications through time. It might make paradoxes or something.'
'I don't care. I'm writing a review.'
They were interrupted by a loud guitar chord. The band had arrived on stage. The singer, young, thin and shirtless, took hold of the mic.
'Oh, he's quite good looking,' said Mixt.
'Mixt, these three men at the back are coming this way and one of them has some sort of knife in his hand.'
'This song's called Moving Target,' shouted the singer.
'There's a flying snake at the door,' growled Rainith. 'A big one. There's another one behind it.'
Mixt looked at the band, the audience, the armed men, and the flying snakes.
'This is going to get ugly,' she muttered.