|Doctor Who Companion Internet Adventure #06 - "New Traken"
"The Road Not Traken"
Nyssa heard a second metallic click just after the first, but a bit further away from her. A raspy male voice accompanied the click.
"I suggest you put your piece down slowly and carefully. We wouldn't want to upset Gabrel any more than we have already, and adding a second body to the first, and subsequently a third, might just do that." Nyssa heard the click of the safety on the gun beside her ear being returned to its normal spot as the cold pressure of the weapon's barrel was removed. She took a calming breath.
"Now, I suggest you take a nice walk. Better yet, you could visit the pub around the corner. On me." The ching of a coin being tossed sailed through the air and was momentarily followed by the dull sound of heavy footsteps receding through the sand. The only sounds remaining were the Sarabiss woman's quiet sobs and the rasping breath of the man still holding his weapon. She waited until she heard him reholster his piece before she turned around.
"Thank you. I did what I could for him, but his wounds were just too great."
"And you decided to end his suffering for him. I quite understand. I've seen it done often enough before." The man stood before her, wearing a half-smile. Two small fangs poked out at the edges of his mouth. He was well-built,with a scraggly beard and dark hair that blended with the shadows of the early evening and fell to just above his shoulders. His arms were folded in front of him, and she could see battle scars tracing the natural lines of his face. "Welcome to Sarabiss, little lady. You can call me Theon. You certainly didn't choose the best time to visit us."
Nyssa took a regretful look at the corpse still lying on the ground and bent to pick up her equipment. "I am Nyssa, and this place isn't exactly as they stated in the brochures. What happened here?"
The man took a step closer to her. "For that I'll have to show you around. You look like you're in need of a tour guide anyway."
"But my ship..."
"...Isn't going anywhere at the moment. They'll wait for you. Besides, there's someone who wants to see you. And you look like you could do with a drink."
* * *
A man and a woman strode through a metal hallway, the heels of their patent shoes echoing dimly on the tile floor. The silver walls around them reflected their images a hundred-fold around them, making them look like an army walking in unison. The woman parted her lips in a frown. "You don't have to like what we're doing here," she pouted.
"I know, but I'm trying to understand just why you do it."
"Isn't it enough to know that we do it to preserve life? Just like you used to do before you came to us?"
"It could have been at one time, Lynalla, but now... some would call it an abomination. In fact, quite a few on this planet do. I call it an invasion. Even theft."
"Theft? But we aren't stealing anything here. We're helping a once-dying race to become more than what they were." A tear slid down her cheek. "You just don't understand. We did what we did to help you."
"I know, but you stole my life in a way, without asking me."
"But would you have gone through with the procedure if we had asked you?"
He paused, the sound of his clacking footsteps abruptly stopped. His lab coat swirled around him drooping in folds around his body. "No, I don't believe I would have. And I suppose I would have been the worse for it."
* * *
Luen placed a consoling hand on Gabrel's shoulder and led her out. He would have to take care of Metam's body later. He would receive a proper burial with an elaborate ceremony of state, though now all that would amount to would be the interment of the body as soon as possible with a minimal amount of fuss.
That newcomer would be trouble. She was the one they were waiting for. He could see it the moment he clapped eyes on her. Still, it would have been easier for all of them if Markam had been quicker to shoot her. And he could have done it legally in retaliation for the death of their leader. He would have other chances. He'd see to it, just as he would see to it that Gabrel wouldn't suffer long.
* * *
Theon had led her into the town, in the opposite direction of the ship. He still hadn't told her whom they were going to meet, but he led her to the front of a dingy saloon. "I really must get back to the ship. The others..."
"...Can wait a little longer," Theon finished.
Nyssa gazed around her. It certainly wasn't how it was described in the holo. She supposed it could have been called rustic in a way. But it wasn't what she would have described as picturesque. The town was muted in brown and dingy grey colours and gave off a musty smell like that after a rainstorm.
They walked along the main dirt road, kicking up clouds of dust in front of them. The buildings all ranged between two to three stories, all seeming to lean inward, as if they were having silent conversations with their partners across the street. Each and every one of them showed weather damage and was coated in a thick layer of dirt ingrained into every crack and hole. Scared faces peered at them from behind drawn curtains, while men and an occasional woman lounged on porches clothed in thick black leather and metal, sometimes looking up to watch them while cleaning their weapons.
A group of boys with chains hanging from every limb of their bodies stood off in the shadows watching them. One pointed at Nyssa and nudged the boy next to him. They whispered together for a second before erupting in squeals of laughter. Theon shot them a pointed glare and ran a hand over his weapon, prominently showing it off to the boys. The group dropped back into the shadows, leaving Nyssa and Theon to the watchful eyes of the adults.
"From the looks of the weapons, this place has Level Three technology. We were led to believe it was only at Level Two. Development couldn't have occurred that quickly here."
"Let's just say that not everything here is what it seems and just leave it at that." Theon commented, glancing down the road.
"I'd rather not."
"Doesn't matter, because we're here," he announced. He pushed open the doors of a dingy pub and led her inside.
The interior wasn't any more appealing than its exterior. The floor and walls seemed to be covered in mildew and the bartender grinned at her with a seedy expression. Theon led her to an empty table and motioned to the bartender to bring two mugs. The man reluctantly ducked behind his bar, leaving them in the near deserted room.
Light chatter filtered over to them from the couple sharing at the bar. The woman nodded and laughed. She seemed like the only ray of brightness Nyssa had seen since she had arrived on Sarabis. But on closer inspection, Nyssa could see dark circles under the woman's eyes that told of many sleepless nights, and the tell-tale signs of gunshot wounds along the woman's arm. Whatever had happened to this planet, it hadn't just happened overnight.
The bartender set two drinks of red liquid down in front of them before walking back to the couple at the bar. "You said the answer to my question could be found by walking through the town." Nyssa, sipping lightly at her mug, turned to Theon.
"So I did. But if you can't see it, you're blinder than they are. This whole town is falling apart. It has been for quite a while. Quite a few people don't want to admit it. And most want to fight it, but they only end up fighting each other. But I'm not the one with all the answers. I'm just the messenger. And here comes your dinner date now."
Theon pushed aside his seat and got up. A man stood in the doorway looking around uncertainly. Nyssa had seen that face before in some other time and some other place. Sandy blond hair messily covered his eyes. He lifted a hand and pushed it aside, revealing two very blue eyes complimenting his lightly blue-tinged skin. He gave a small smile at the sight of her and joined her at the table. He took one of the mugs and sipped at it, making a face as he swigged it down. His lab coat looked a bit worse for wear, but he hadn't changed a bit.
"Arden, what are you doing here? You were at the Foundation when we left."
"Yes, Nyssa, I know. And I am still at the Foundation now."
"You should. After all the adventures you told us about, whiling away the hours over a cup of trefel in the breakroom, unwinding after a long day's work, you should understand this better than anyone. Which is why I brought you here."
"But... So, that was a clone then."
"Precisely." He fidgeted with his hair, again, pushing it uselessly out of his eyes. "Just as I am. And I'm dying, just like him and everyone else on this planet."
To be continued...
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