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Doctor Who Companion Internet Adventure #05 - "Point of Destruction"


Chapter 8
"Wormholes"
by Cris Lawrence


---


THIRTY MINUTES AGO


As she saw the form of a balding, slightly overweight 40-something man with bright green eyes loping toward her, chanting "I am ready..." in a dull monotone, the worm-like host of an alien species bent on enslaving the entire American continent, only one thought passed through the mind of Elizabeth Shaw.


       This is why I left UNIT.


       As she tried to back away from the grotesque human form, a piercing scream was heard from behind it, toward the front of the church. Liz looked out, shocked.


       Alison! She must have come back inside with Keith... or whatever Keith was. She glanced over to where the young man, devoid of the presence of the H'Rongi Coordinator, the essence of the scout Josiah Eagleton, was standing, still transfixed by the alien mind control about the structure. She saw both the possessed man trailing her and the figure of Lorraine, the H'Rongi Planner, turn toward the shaking form of Alison Knight, and as one, they spoke.


       "She distracts us from our purpose. Take her."


       But her fear had given Liz the opening she needed. She turned away from the scene and ran toward the back of the church. There'd better be an exit here, or I'm doomed.


       She reached the back of the huge church structure, and suddenly skidded to a halt. Nothing. Not even an Exit sign.


       "Oh, bugger!" she muttered as she looked around wildly for a way out. She could hear the footsteps of her alien pursuers coming closer, closer...


       "Duck!"


       What? she thought, but still did it, just as a huge rock flew through the ornate stained-glass window behind her. She chanced a look out, and saw two people, a young man and woman, standing out there waiting. The young man had another rock at the ready.


       "Oi! You're not one of them, are you?"


       "Er... no." She looked to her left, and saw the possessed form of Keith coming toward her.


       "Okay, then. Come on!"


       She climbed out of the window's wrecked facade, trying to make sure she didn't cut herself on the still-standing shards of glass, and ran to where the duo were standing.


       "Thank you... I'm Elizabeth Shaw."


       "Firedemon. And this is Rogue." He indicated the young woman, who smiled. "You're the Elizabeth Shaw, from Cambridge?"


       She nodded, which seemed to make the woman even more excited.


       "I read your paper on meteorites when I was in school. Really got me started on the whole alien thing. Pleased to meet you."


       Suddenly, they heard a growl from behind, and watched in horror as the H'Rongi-controlled townspeople came toward them from the front of the church.


       "I think we'd better go. Which way?"


       "There. Into the woods." The one called 'Firedemon' turned and pointed behind him, into the forest at the edge of Eagleton.


       "Why there?"


       "Because of what we found. Come on, Miss Shaw!" 'Rogue' grabbed her arm and started running toward the woods. Liz chanced a look back to see if they were being pursued and... did the church just shudder?


* * *


THREE HOURS AGO


"Now why would a headstone be all messed up like that, you think?"


       Firedemon and Rogue were standing in front of the tombstone of Josiah Eagleton, which they saw as being slightly off-centre, tilting at a good angle away and to their left. The date of his death rubbed out... deliberately.


       Rogue swallowed nervously. "You don't think that... maybe Josiah Eagleton's not dead?"


       "Yeah, and he's been kept alive by the aliens of Eagleton all these years?" Firedemon uncharacteristically scoffed at the idea. "This place is just another hoax, a sham. There's been nothing in town that even resembles alien visitation. Just a bunch of people looking to fork over money for crap gifts." He looked at the tombstone a little closely. "Still... this is strange."


       "What is?"


       "This stone seems to be moved in a specific way. Almost as if whoever moved it was trying to tell us something."


       Rogue fidgeted with the X-Files chain around her neck. She didn't like this, not one bit.


       "You mean 'us' in the general sense of people at-large, like, or you mean 'us' in the sense of us personally?"


       "General. This stone is some kind of clue. But for what?" He looked the stone up and down, walking around it, looking for some kind of idea to strike. Suddenly, it hit him. Literally; he'd ran into the Indian arrow at the top of the stone. He fell down, groaning. Rogue ran over to him.


       "Vic, you okay?"


       "Yeah, just cracked my head a bit. Wait a minute..." His eyes had focused on the arrowhead. "Look at this, Madge. It's pointing into the woods."


       "Doesn't mean anything. Besides, it's getting dark, and I'm starting to get a little..." She realized she was talking to herself: Firedemon had already started off in the direction the arrow was pointing.


       "Freaked out, Vic. Damn." She ran after him, telling him to wait up.


* * *


They walked through the woods for what seemed like forever, Rogue thought. It had gotten dark, and the torch she carried in her ever-present knapsack wasn't doing a very good job of lighting her way. More importantly, it was getting harder and harder to see Vic in front of her. He kept fading in and out of her sight, there, not there...


       "Will you please wait up? I'm really starting to get pissed here, Victor Pember..." She didn't get to finish her tirade, because suddenly, she heard a yell.


       "Vic?" She ran to where she had heard the yell, and found herself in a clearing. Not that you could tell, with it being pitch, but she could barely make out the trees along the edges of the clearing. She looked around, walking slowly across the grass.


       "Vic? Vic, you there? You better not be playing games with meeeee..."


       Her last words were drowned out by her falling through a hole in the ground.


       Not a hole, she thought, as she landed softly some distance down. A shaft. An old mine? No, this is too well built, and not deep enough. An entrance, then? But from where?


       "Where am I? Vic, you about somewhere?" She picked herself up off the floor (and it was a floor, not the ground or something like that; it had been built) and started walking to her left, down a passageway. Or a corridor...


       "Vic, you better not be playing any stupid games with me, or I swear to God, I'll--" She stopped with a shriek as a hand grabbed her shoulder. She turned to face Firedemon.


       "What the hell do you think you're playing at? Where have you been? Where are we? How are we going to get out?"


       Firedemon tried to calm her down. "It's okay, Madge. We're not hurt, are we? I think we're underground, in some kind of bunker or something. Must have been here quite a while, by the looks of it; there are so many corridors, it's like a rabbit warren. And no, I don't know how we're going to get out. Unless..."


       "What?"


       "We look to see if anybody's home."


       "Anybody's home? Are you nuts? What if it's some crackpot's hideout where he mails letter bombs to unsuspecting politicians?"


       "Then we ask him nicely to help us find the passage out of here. Come on, this way. I think I found some light down here." He grabbed her arm and dragged her down the corridor he'd just appeared from. She couldn't help but grin; her man was in his element. If it's half as cool as he thinks it is, he'll have tons to tell Ripper when we get back to England. And a nice long letter to Spooky, too, she thought, then gaped as the corridor ended... at a huge cavern.


       Both of them just stood there, looking agape at all the equipment standing against the walls of the cavern. There was no doubt now; someone did live here. Or had lived here, Rogue amended. They could have been dead by now.


       Firedemon ran around the room, looking at the different shelves of stuff. 'Hey Madge, I bet this stuff's been around since the founding of the town. I wonder...' He looked more closely at the equipment.


       "What?"


       "I was just wondering if we were wrong, if there aren't aliens in Eagleton after all..." He stepped back, lost in thought, and stopped in the exact centre of the room.


       Suddenly, all the equipment came to life. Monitors came on, lights became brighter, a hum could be heard beneath their feet. Rogue ran toward Firedemon, more than a little frightened.


       "Vic, what did you do?"


       "Me? I didn't do anything. I just stood in the centre of the room and..." He stopped speaking as he looked to his left. A hatch had opened in one of the walls of the cavern, and something popped out. It was some kind of tall, thin capsule. It was covered in a kind of film, and there was a computer display on the bottom of the capsule. The two walked over to it, and Firedemon began to inspect it.


       "Looks like some kind of escape pod..." He touched it and just as quickly pulled his hand away. "It's cold."


       "Some kind of quick-freeze unit, like they were saying the other day about the astronauts... what did they call them? Cryostasis units, that's it. One of those."


       "You mean someone... or something... could be inside there?"


       "Only one way to find out." He cracked his fingers like a piano player waiting to do Carnegie, but Rogue stopped him.


       "You're not seriously considering opening it, are you? You don't know what could be in there. It could be an alien murderer, or their version of a letter-bomber."


       "Or it could be a freeze-dried hunk of Swiss cheese, Madge, but I've got to try. It's the only reasonably close sign of life we've found here, and I want to know if it's for real so we can find our way out of here and back to town."


       "I don't know about you, but I've got a bad feeling about this..." Rogue began, but Firedemon stopped her with a kiss, a nice long one. She smiled, blushing.


       "You worry too much, pet. Now, stand back, and watch the master operate." He began to press keys on the keyboard, muttering to himself.


       "Okay, a quick GOTO loop here, a nice little rewrite here, a little bit of code there... And, voila!" He grinned at Rogue, and then stepped back as the pod began to open...


* * *


TEN MINUTES AGO


Alison struggled to break free as she was held in place by the possessed sheriff and Keith, her darling Keith...


       "Keith, come on now! The fun's over; wake up!" She was crying hysterically as the woman Lorraine, who had called herself the Planner, came up to her. Alison looked once again at Keith, and thought she noticed something there, a spark...


       "Come on, love; get it together!" she screamed. "You don't want the love of your life to be worm dessert, do you?" Keith shuddered a bit, and when he looked back at Alison, the green was gone, just a bit.


       "Alison..." he managed weakly, but then he shuddered again, and the presence returned.


       "You will not succeed, child." Lorraine spoke softly to the girl. "He will be one with us, in time."


       Outwardly, Alison kept her composure, but inside, her heart leapt. But not yet, lady! He's still in there, which means I can still get him out. Hang on, Keith; I'll find a way!


       Lorraine looked again at Alison, deep into her eyes. Then she stood back, smiling. "Shaw may be gone, but this one may yet be suitable for our needs. Prepare the place of joining for the transfer of souls." A half dozen townspeople moved away, and began to move pews away from the front of the church. Lorraine looked up and smiled.


       "Soon, very soon, it will be time. And this time, unlike a half-century ago, we will not fail you, my lord." As she spoke, Alison could almost swear she could hear the church move...


* * *


FIVE MINUTES AGO


Liz struggled to keep up as she ran after the two young people. Into the woods, past the tombstone of Josiah Eagleton, into the woods... Until finally, they reached a clearing. She caught up with Firedemon and Rogue only because they stopped, panting, near collapse. She wasn't in great shape herself, but she managed to get out a coherent sentence.


       "Where are we?"


       Firedemon looked at her, and smiled. "Planetfall."


       "Yeah." The girl, Rogue, agreed, nodding her head. "Where they came for the first time."


       "The H'Rongi."


       "The usurpers." Again, as in the church, Liz got the feeling that there was someone else talking through the words. Like the sheriff and Lorraine and Keith... She thought for a moment of Alison.


       I hope she's okay... I wish I didn't have to run away. Oh, Doctor, where are you when I need you? Nevertheless, she plodded on. "Usurpers? Of what?"


       "Of my power," Firedemon said simply, as he waved his hand. Liz looked on, agape, as the ground simply split open, to reveal a passageway into the earth below.


       "Come, Elizabeth Shaw. You are required."


       "Why? Why am I required?"


       "To take your place. To stop the usurpers before their plan becomes truth." As they walked down the passage, Liz looked for signs of escape. After all, you...


       "Can't be too careful, eh, Liz?" Rogue's voice startled her.


       "Isn't that what the Doctor used to tell you?"


       Liz frowned. "Don't presume to go mucking about in my head unless I give you permission."


       "But you wear your emotions so readily, my dear Elizabeth. Tell me; do you really enjoy your job? Or, deep down inside, do you miss the freedom and excitement that came with UNIT? Or maybe... you just miss the Doctor?"


       Liz looked the young girl in the eyes, staring into the blue recess, hoping to catch a glimpse of the presence sharing it. "Shut. Up. You don't have any call to judge me or my life."


       "Especially when that life has been spent first gathering intelligence about beings like us, and then using your troops to destroy them."


       "They were a threat to humanity. Spreading plague, disease, attempting to take over the globe. I was doing my duty."


       "You humans have a saying... 'If that helps you sleep at night...'" They entered the cavern.


       The first thing Liz saw was the pod open on the far side. Cryostasis, probably. Any reasonably humanoid society would need one, theoretically, if they wanted to travel long distances. The second thing she noticed was the control panel on the far right wall. It had a view of the town; specifically, of the church. The third thing she noticed was the elderly Indian man sitting, in full regalia, in front of the screen, tapping in commands. At their entrance, he turned to them, and smiled.


       "I'm sorry to have kept you waiting, Doctor Shaw. I am Murclan. The true Coordinator of the H'Rongi."


---
To be continued...



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