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Doctor Who Internet Adventure #02 - "Six Sides to Every Story"


Chapter 3
"Can't Hold Back the Years"
by Jeffery Beuck


---


In the warehouse, a tall black booth appeared, accompanied by a grinding sound. The boss sat in the shadows patiently, watching it materialize. A figure in a robe stepped from the box, and carried a glowing, crystalline object reverently to the boss. He set it at the mysterious figure's feet.


       "Well done," said the boss. He picked up the powerful piece to the Key to Time, and a smile lit his face.


       His minion then pulled a smaller, glowing piece from his pocket and handed it to the boss. "Here is the piece which I used to trace it. I encountered the Doctor, as you warned us we would, but I released the Time Shadows upon him and his companions. They will trouble us no further."


       "Excellent." The boss handed back the large piece of the Key to Time to his minion. "Take this back to Gallifrey as we planned. The others and I will join you as soon as all of the pieces are in our possession."


       "I obey." Carrying the glowing fragment before him like a holy relic, the robed figure strode majestically back to his black box and vanished inside. With a speedy trumpeting noise, his box dematerialised.


       The boss chuckled in the shadows. Only four more pieces to go.


* * *


The large fluttering shapes hovered menacingly above the Doctor, Grace, and Merak.


       "What are they, Doctor?" Grace shouted, as well as she was able to without the use of her facial muscles.


       "Time Shadows," explained the Doctor, moving his arms as quickly to his pockets as he could, which wasn't nearly quickly enough for his state of mind. "They're the next step down in the Chronovore food chain. They don't really exist in phase with our time — that's why they appear as indistinct shadows. But they can kill you just as well as a Chronovore can, by feeding off your personal life span." His hand finally reached his pocket, and he slowly inched his hand inward.


       "Can you stop them, Doctor?" panicked Grace.


       "Yes, doctor," the Doctor replied, removing the sonic screwdriver from his pocket. "It's a good thing I didn't trade this to Seth earlier," he muttered to no one in particular as he slowly, painfully raised the screwdriver skywards to where the Time Shadows were massing for an attack. One of the Shadows swooped downward to land on Merak.


       "Doctor!! Get it off of me!"


       "I'm trying!" the Doctor shouted, fumbling with the screwdriver's controls.


       "AARAAAARGGGHHHH!" screamed Merak as time began to drain from his body.


       "Got it!" exclaimed the Doctor as he flipped a switch and a piercing screech filled the air. Grace watched in a combination of awe and fright as the Time Shadows began to flap even faster and more chaotically, until they began to fade away and dissolve, losing contact with the Time-Space Continuum. Merak didn't watch; his eyes were firmly shut.


       The Doctor struggled to sit up, and with much wiggling and squirming, managed to do so. He stretched his fingers and arms, and the loose leather strands on his dark cowboy jacket waved back and forth. "Ahh, that's better. I can move again. Come along you two, we've got four more chances to save the universe." He strode back to the TARDIS, oblivious of the immobile state of his companions.


       Grace, frightened that the Doctor would leave them behind in a relapse of regenerative amnesia, called out anxiously, "Doctor! Wait! We can't move yet! We don't have your amazing Time Lord powers of recovery, remember?!"


       The Doctor stopped and turned around. "Oh, yes. You're still affected by the paralysis weapon, aren't you."


       "Duh!"


* * *


Some time later, in the cathedral-like TARDIS console room, the still-sore Grace and Merak watched anxiously as the Doctor plugged his ersatz Tracer into the TARDIS control panel. "Let's see where we're off to this time." The TARDIS computers made some calculations, and the next destination appeared on the small monitor hovering above the console. "The planet Dorito. Named for the religious figure Dorito who brought peace to the planet after a rather nasty war with invading Rutans."


       "Ironic that he shares his name with a 20th-century American junk food," remarked Grace.


       "Oh, the planet Dorito was around long before your culture developed its fascination for heavily-salted snack foods, according to the TARDIS data banks." The Doctor pulled some levers on the console and flipped some switches, and the TARDIS dematerialized. Merak watched in fascination as the little wooden blocks which pinpointed the TARDIS's current position in time rapidly rotated. Eventually, they began to slow down as the TARDIS approached its destination.


       "Dezazu 25, 2315, Tzun Era?" Grace read aloud.


       "Yes, this is during the period in your past in which the Tzun are running around half of your Galaxy in their great military conquest." The Doctor moved to hit the door controls, then remembered the misadventure during which his last incarnation had been caught in a hail of bullets after striding confidently from the TARDIS without first scanning the terrain. He moved to the outside camera control, and flipped the 'on' switch. The three looked up at the monitor as a picture appeared of a crowd of people, all dressed in white clothing, moving in the same direction. The Doctor thumped the console a few times for no apparent reason.


       "What are you doing?" Grace inquired patronizingly.


       "The blasted sound has gone again." The Doctor sighed, and grabbing Grace's hand, pulled her and Merak past the library, into the wardrobe area of the console room.


       As Dr. Holloway and Merak watched, the Doctor began rooting through piles of clothes until he produced a long white dress on a clothes hanger. "Here, put this on," he muttered while still rooting through the clothes. Merak reached out to grab it, but Grace stopped him. "I think he means me," she pointed out.


       As Grace slipped into the dress, the Doctor found two white Roman togas for himself and Merak to wear. "Put this on," he said to Merak. "I think this is a case in which discretion would be the better part of valour, especially considering the fact that the native population is dressed all in white."


       "Never stopped you before," Grace grunted, as she struggled into the dress which was a size or two too small for her.


       "This is a bit drafty," Merak complained, still feeling the after effects of the paralysis ray.


       "Stop complaining, you two. We have a universe to save." Taking Grace by the hand again, he led them back to the console where he gave Grace the dubious honour of opening the huge, gothic doors, and then led them outside.


       Grace and Merak blinked as they emerged into the sunlight. Hundreds of people dressed in white were walking down a dirt path, carrying small bundles or baskets, chanting and talking. They were walking towards an opening in a large stone wall. The Doctor pulled the tracer from his pocket and waved it around.


       It gave off more clicks in the direction of the wall than in the opposite direction. "This way, I think." Joining the mass of pilgrims, the trio headed in the direction of the wall.


       Abruptly, the tracer stopped clicking.


       The Doctor shook it.


       "What's wrong?" Merak asked.


       "Has the piece been captured already?" Grace chirped in.


       "No, I don't think so," the Doctor muttered, vehemently shaking the wand. Suddenly, the tracer began clicking again, although not as rapidly as before. "Remember, this is only an ersatz tracer that I cobbled together from the TARDIS' memory banks. I think its interior structure is already beginning to deteriorate. We'll have to hurry."


       The Doctor walked up to a middle-aged woman, dragging along a cart full of miscellaneous objects and rags. "Excuse me. Can you tell me why everyone is walking towards the wall up ahead?"


       The gap-toothed woman gave him a nasty grin and chuckled. "The great Colossus of Dorito is there! Everyone is making their yearly pilgrimage! What did you think was in there?" Shaking her head, she moved away.


       The Doctor tried the tracer again. It seemed to give out a constant amount of clicks all along the direction of the wall. "I can't seem to get a precise fix on the next piece. I think this tracer's locating mechanism is faulty." The clicks did get a bit stronger as they walked toward the wall, though, so they continued on.


       As they approached the gate, two guards armed with laser staves stood sentry as each pilgrim entered the gateway. "All glory to the mighty Dorito, bringer of peace to our humble world," each pilgrim chanted as he or she entered the wall. As the Doctor and his companions' turn came, the guards glared at their strange outfits suspiciously.


       "All glory and honour to the ... uh ... almighty Dorito, bringer of peace and love to our humble abode!" the Doctor chanted softly as he passed through the gate. The guards turned away, mollified.


       "All glory to the mighty Dorito, bringer of peace to our humble WORLD," Grace intoned as she passed through.


       Merak just scuttled through without saying anything.


       Once inside, the trio stood in awe. Towering hundreds of feet above them stood the most enormous statue Grace or Merak had ever beheld. Carved from stone, the great Dorito looked skyward, holding a flower in one hand, and a book raised to the gods in the other. Thousands of Doritans were prostrate on the ground, offering prayers of obeisance to their great religious icon.


       As Grace and Merak looked on, mesmerized by the great Colossus before them, the Doctor pulled the makeshift tracer from under his robes and held it out. The clicks remained constant as he pointed it at the towering statue, faded out as he pointed it away.


       "It has to be the statue," Grace observed.


       The Doctor nodded, a frown on his face. Suddenly, Grace looked away and pointed. "Look! Up there! The Master!"


       The Doctor turned to see a figure high up on the surrounding wall, looking out at the Colossus, holding something shiny and white in its hand. "No, I don't think it's the Master, considering how he met his oblivion in the Eye of Harmony," the Doctor explained, "but he is certainly wearing Gallifreyan robes as the Master wore inside my TARDIS on that dreadful occasion. I think our competition has arrived."


       Grace pushed him towards the statue. "Then hurry! Convert the statue to the Key to Time and let's scarper before he figures out what he's looking for!"


       The Doctor stopped and turned to Grace. "It's not as simple as that! This statue is an invaluable part of this culture! The entire planet's religion seems to centre around it and what it represents! Do you know how terribly we would devastate the morale of this culture if we were to interfere with it? It could begin unrest, riots, wars — even lead to the entire extinction of life on this planet! How could we be responsible for such unmitigated chaos?"


       Grace pointed back to the figure on the wall, who was grabbing hold of a rope connected to an archway above. "Well, would you rather let him gain possession of the piece and bring such unmitigated chaos upon the entire universe?"


       The Doctor hesitated, then sighed. Making his decision, he dashed up to the statue, over the cordon of ropes protecting it from overzealous trespassers, and touched the tracer to the base of the great Colossus. The crowd ahhed and trembled in fear as the great statue began to glow, metamorphosing into a small crystal which fit into the palm of the Doctor's hand. The figure in Time Lord robes upon the wall glared in anger at the Doctor's audacity. Grace watched as the Doctor came pelting back towards her and Merak. "Run!!!" he shouted.


       The trio was running pell-mell towards the gateway when a crowd of guards armed with laser staves flooded into the gateway, blocking off their escape and surrounding them. "They've destroyed the great Colossus!" several pilgrims in the crowd yelled.


       The leader of the guards strode carefully around the thieves, examining them closely, looking at the crystal in the Doctor's hand. Turning away, he growled, "Execute them."


       Grace and Merak huddled close to the Doctor as the menacing guards raised their laser staves and aimed them at the defenceless group of time-travellers.


---
To be continued...



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