|Doctor Who Companion Internet Adventure #05 - "Point of Destruction"
""Our identities are irrelevant""
by Cris Lawrence
14 October 1830
The night was black, darker than the feathers of a raven. So dark, in fact, that Josiah Eagleton was forced to admit to himself that it had been a bad idea to travel out from the base camp. But he was a scout, not to mention a stubborn, hard-nosed man. Accustomed to doing what he wanted, what he felt to be the right thing to do, he moved silently, surely, into the night, on the lookout for the natives, or as Josiah called them, "those red-faced killing bastards".
Josiah found himself taken completely into the dark blackness. All of a sudden, all light, especially from the high full moon, had disappeared to be replaced by thick darkness. Josiah could not see his hand in front of his face, but he could feel the ground under his feet, and so he continued in what he believed to be a straight line, moving his way through the rough wilderness surrounding the base camp. He was sure he hadn't gone too far away, so he figured that by using a circular motion, he would come upon something from the base camp in due time..
Time passed. Fifteen minutes, maybe a half-hour — Josiah wasn't certain exactly. His sure movement through the blackness and the wilderness slowed down noticeably, from a hurried walk to a more sedately pace, as he tried to figure out what was going on. Surely he should have found some sign of camp by now? He tried to look around him for anything that would determine his position, but all he saw was blackness — dead, thick blackness. It was as if something had swallowed the moon and all the stars..
More time passed, and Josiah began to worry. This surprised him more than he cared to admit, since, as the best scout west of the Mississipi, he couldn't believe he could get lost. It just simply didn't happen. He cursed to himself as he continued to pick his way through the darkness until, suddenly, he couldn't feel any more trees. What was going on? Were they cut, or was this some kind of natural meadow? Josiah was going to turn back the way he came, but he stopped as he heard a voice cut through the coarse blackness surrounding him..
//Please help us!//.
Josiah couldn't be sure where the plea was coming from; it seemed to be coming from all around him. Nor could he be sure of what the voice actually was, for it didn't seem to be any voice he could recognize. It was, he reflected, rather flat, toneless. But the words were easily recognized as a plea. Josiah stood there, unsure of what to do next, when the voice sounded again..
//We are... helpless...//.
Josiah could hear the voice much closer now, as if it were inside his head. As if in a dream, he moved closer to where he believed the voice to be coming from. Deeper into the dark meadow he moved, further and further away from all semblance of civilization. The darkness became almost stifling; Josiah believed that he was being suffocated by the oppressive blackness. Until, suddenly, the blackness was driven away by a sharp light from in front of him. Josiah pulled his hand over his eyes, shielding them from the harsh brightness. He could hear the voice in his head, louder, but more distinct, almost... human..
//Step into the light, Josiah Eagleton.//.
Briefly, Josiah wondered how they had found out his name, but he dismissed it as the dream-like feeling overpowered him again. He moved forward, feet shuffling along the ground, stiff and almost unresponsive. As he reached the edge of the light barrier, he could see, on the other side, figures in the gloom. They were tall, more so than his quite impressive six feet, and they seemed to be human in shape. Awestruck by just the sheer size of those figures in front of him, Josiah found his voice, finally..
"What... who are you?".
The figures were unresponsive; Josiah thought for a moment that they had not heard him. But, after a moment, the voices could be heard again, inside his head..
//Our identities are irrelevant at this time. We are in need of your assistance. Step into the light, Josiah Eagleton.//.
Josiah felt the dream-like state take him over again, and unable to stop the feeling of dread and fear rising in his soul, he shuffled forward again. As he stepped into the light, he saw the mysterious figures clearly. And, for the first time since he was but a child, Josiah Eagleton, famed scout of the frontier, screamed..
* * *
17 September 1980
"And in conclusion, the trajectory and relative speed of a moving celestial body of certain size and dimension can be calculated by the following set of formulae...".
All Elizabeth Shaw could hear was the sound of her own voice, her clipped British tones conveying almost a melodious quality to the numbers and variables that made up the equations she was discussing. Unfortunately, her students weren't that interested in her or the melodious quality of her voice; they were too much into quickly jotting down the information before the class wrapped up for the week..
As the Cambridge class bell rung, she smiled. "And that is all for the week, class. Remember to look over your materials for the first month's quiz on Monday. Class dismissed." Before she had finished her pronouncement, the classroom had emptied; in the spirit of students all over the world, they were eager to enjoy their weekend..
Elizabeth Shaw, Doctor of Philosophy, Professor of Astrophysics, College of Cambridge, smiled wanly and sighed. She hated her title, but she was happy that Cambridge had nearly a decade before so readily taken her back after her year-long sojourn with UNIT. Of course, that wasn't the 'official' line on her absence. All that the professorship of Cambridge knew was that she had taken an extended leave of absence to study unusual meteoric phenomena for the British Space Programme..
Not that I did all that, mind... thought Liz, as she walked out of her classroom and through the halls of the building, exiting into the brisk September evening. I also managed to save the Earth a couple of times, as well. Liz smiled again; she remembered her time with UNIT, especially the Doctor, quite fondly..
Unfortunately, she had not heard from UNIT or the Doctor in nearly five years. In fact, she was blissfully unaware of the dangers that had been repelled by the Taskforce and its not-quite-human 'Scientific Advisor' over the years, and she preferred it that way. My time as a world-saver is over, she ruminated as she entered the large brick building that housed the offices of the Sciences section at Cambridge. I'm much happier now, as a teacher... aren't I?.
Preoccupied by her thoughts, Liz almost didn't hear the receptionist as she passed by her station. "I say, Doctor Shaw!".
Liz turned to face the elderly woman manning the station. "Yes?" she enquired..
"I thought you should know, Doctor, that there are two men in your office. Tall men, in black suits. Sounded American to me, but then again, they have so many different accents...".
Liz nodded. "Of course. Thank you for the notification. Do you have any idea why they're here?".
"All they said was that they needed to speak to you about a matter of some urgency that needed your expertise.".
Suddenly, Liz's mind was thrown back nearly a decade, to a clipped British voice telling her nearly those exact words... Lethbridge-Stewart, recruiting her for that Nestene business, starting her on the road with UNIT, and the Doctor..
Oh, not again... she thought wildly, but she pulled herself together quickly. "Very well, then. I suppose I should find out what they want, then.".
Liz walked up the stairs to her third-floor office, and opened the door. Inside, seated but still at military posture, she could determine were two men in identical black suits and ties. One was in his mid-forties, and the other a bit younger, but neither of them showed any sign of expression as Liz entered. They simply stood at attention, and as Liz moved to her desk, she couldn't help but smile.
"At ease, gentlemen. No need to stand on ceremony for me." As the men reseated themselves, she continued. "I am Doctor Elizabeth Shaw. What can I do for you?"
"As your receptionist no doubt informed you, Doctor Shaw, we are here about matter of some..." Liz cut the older man off.
"Yes, I know all that. Tell me what's going on here; I don't have all day." She thought idly that she seemed to have developed the Doctor's disdain for the military psyche in the past several years, but pushed the thought away as the younger man spoke.
"I am Mister Keller, and this is Mister Newton. Of course, these are not our real names, but we must be secretive. You will no doubt understand this, due to your own experience with covert operations as scientific advisor to UNIT years ago."
Liz was mildly shocked, but presented a calm face to her visitors. "I am surprised that you know of that, Mister... Keller. My involvement was extremely short-lived, and extremely classified. Let me guess... CIA?"
For the first time, Keller showed expression, as he smiled at Liz. "No, Doctor Shaw. We are, rather, agents of a bit more secretive group. The Bureau of Paranormal Investigation."
Liz couldn't keep her surprise from showing this time. "I should have known... but what do the 'Men In Black' want with me?"
"We require your expertise in paranormal and extraterrestrial phenomena." Newton handed the packet he was holding to Liz. "Most unusual occurrences have been reported in a small town in Iowa. Eagleton, about an hour north of Sioux City, as you can see on the enclosed map."
Liz hmmmed to herself as she studied the map. "What kind of occurrences?"
"That's the thing, Doctor... we're not really sure. There's what appears to be evidence of extraterrestrial activity..."
"You mean these?" Liz pointed to a picture of indentations inside what appeared to be a wheat field. "Looks like just your ordinary crop-circle hoax to me. What makes you suspect ET's?"
"Well, there's also the history of the town to consider, Doctor. The town ledger states that the town was founded 150 years ago by the famed Indian scout Josiah Eagleton. But the town legends give a different account. It's been said that Eagleton had an epiphany to settle there, inspired not by God, but by alien life-forms."
"As such, it's become quite the little hotspot in recent years, a real Roswell. But despite the tourist attractions, we believe that there may actually be something there worth looking into."
"If there is, Mister Keller, then why doesn't the Bureau look into it themselves? Surely this is more your turf than mine."
"Honestly, Doctor, we're short-handed. The Bureau has its hands full with the myriad other functions we perform, such as--"
Liz waved her hand. "Forget it; the less I know, the better. But you still haven't answered one question: why now?"
"The anniversary of the town's founding is coming up, Doctor. And recently, some of our... early-warning signals have been getting jittery. We want to look into it, but we don't have the time or the manpower."
"So you look for someone with experience in tracking alien lifeforms, but with no current ties to a government to complicate matters. Very slick." Liz thought for a moment. "You know, I would like to contact a friend of mine, ask him for advice..."
"I'm afraid, Doctor, that the Doctor is off-planet at the moment."
"How did you know that I was talking about the Doctor, or even that he was off-planet?"
"Let me just say that we've had our eye on the Doctor for quite some time." Keller smiled, but had no humour in it. "So, Doctor Shaw, will you take our case?"
"I don't know... what if I refuse?"
"Then you won't even know we were here." As Keller spoke, he pulled out a small tube-like device. Liz smiled.
"That looks like a sonic screwdriver."
"It isn't. It's a neuralyzer. It reconfigures the neurons in the cerebral cortex that govern short-term memory."
"Oh, I see what you meant... 'won't even know', indeed." Liz put her hands onto the table, and looked at the two men in the black suits. "All right... I'll do it. I'll take a look. That is what you're asking of me, right?"
"Yes, Doctor Shaw. Just a troubleshooting mission in the name of science."
Liz sighed heavily. "It's been my experience, Mister Keller, that things like this are never that simple. Oh, well... when the alternative is brain-frying, what do I have to lose?"
To be continued...
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