|Doctor Who Internet Adventure #02 - "Six Sides to Every Story"
"Interludes and Exterminations"
by Alan Taylor
"So this is it," sighed Grace, pulling close to the Doctor. "I'm on a vampire world, with an alien who's hunting for hunks of perspex, sitting in a meat locker, preparing to die. Still, it could be worse. Brian wanted me to stay at home and look after the house, raise a family, breed whippets."
"Regrets, Grace?" asked the Doctor.
"I have a feeling that the rest of my life is too short for regrets, Doctor," smiled Grace — a thin, forced smile.
The hand had almost unlocked the door.
A shrill whistle pierced the air. The hand seemed to pause. The whistling grew louder, higher. The hand withdrew, suddenly, as though injured. The Doctor and Grace heard the vampires crying out as though in pain, their howls merging with the whistling in a painful cacophony.
"What's happening, Doctor?" asked Grace.
"I'm not certain — some sort of sonic device, I assume. I'd guess that the vampires are susceptible to certain sonic frequencies..." He pulled out his sonic screwdriver, and fiddled with it for a few moments. It started to emit a whistling noise in harmony with the noise from outside. Grabbing Grace by the wrist, he moved towards the door, unlocked it, and opened it.
* * *
There were about fifty vampires in total, and all of them were in pain. Some were writhing on the ground, hands over their ears, others were running away, trying to escape. They seemed to get worse as the Doctor and Grace approached them. Grace had to fight back an urge to help them. Inhuman, and hell bent on killing her as they were, she still could not bear to see them suffering. She squeezed her eyes shut, cursing her mixed emotions, and let the Doctor lead her on.
* * *
Merak was weak but unharmed. He had seen the obvious affection between Maria and Trevor and found it hard to think of the vampires as anything other than... human. They had (apart from bleeding him a little) not harmed him, and had given him food and water. He had been pleased to see Trevor recover, and the perfect smile on Maria's alabaster face had made him feel warm inside. He had thought, unaccountably, of Astra, and his loss of her had hurt him all the more.
He sat in one corner of the art museum foyer. Trevor and Maria were between him and the door, hugging. He doubted that he'd be able to escape. They seemed drowsy, almost asleep, but he suspected that they were too strong, too fast.
Maria's scream wrenched at his soul.
It was a cry of twisted pain, as though her soul was being ripped from her body. Trevor joined Maria after a few seconds, and then there was a third sound merging with the screams, a high pitched electronic whine. Merak took his chance to rush for the door, feeling a weak hand clutching at his ankle as he passed Maria. He felt almost guilty for leaving them, as
he ran out into the street and almost straight into the Doctor and Grace.
"Come along, Merak," tutted the Doctor. "Shall we make our way back to
At a leisurely pace they strolled back to the TARDIS. The Doctor
turned off the signal before they passed through the door.
"Those poor creatures," said Grace as they approached the console.
Merak nodded dumbly.
"Don't worry," the Doctor replied. "I believe that the effects of the sonic device are purely temporary. What interests me though is where did the first sound come from?" He turned to the console and started to program a scan. "I'll just scan the surface of the planet for appropriate energy signatures, and find our mystery benefactor." Grace collapsed in an armchair, slipping her shoes off. Merak wandered off to brew some tea. The Doctor cursed in High Gallifreyan and thumped the console.
"Playing up again?" asked Grace.
"I don't think so. It's just not finding anything. Whoever was transmitting that first signal is going to great lengths to hide themselves. I wonder why." And with that, he plunged the tracer back into the console and the TARDIS dematerialised.
* * *
She sat in her ornate chair, about half a mile above the surface of the planet, watching the sun rise. She was old now, so very old, her life extended beyond its natural span by her will, and the will of her people. But she could not endure for much longer. She wished that she could have seen the Doctor, or helped him more. She wished that she could have told him of the perils that lay ahead of him. But she knew that she was destined to meet him only once again — and then, just before her death.
She thought of home, and she was there.
* * *
Shoreditch, November 1963
Grace had never heard of Shoreditch. It came as a great surprise to her to discover that it was on Earth. The Doctor seemed very concerned about the fact.
"It's a place I'd rather avoid for a number of reasons," he said. "But I guess we'll have to go there. We'll just need to be exceedingly careful. I've already been there twice, and I'd rather not bump into myself. Add to that the fact that it's probably swarming with undesirable megalomaniac pepper-pots, and it's really not a very sensible place to be."
He thought for a moment, before slipping his key off the chain and passed it to Grace, together with the tracer. "You and Merak will have to go on your own. The risk of meeting myself is too high. I don't remember meeting myself, therefore I must have stayed here. So you two will have to find the segment on your own."
"But, Doctor, if it's as dangerous as you say, surely we'd be better off if you came with us," said Merak, uncertainty and self-doubt in his eyes.
But the Doctor was not to be persuaded.
"Be careful," he said to Grace as he stood at the door, ushering them out.
"I will be," replied Grace, kissing him on the cheek. Then Grace and Merak stepped out into the chill fog of the London night together.
* * *
"Failure," said the figure standing in the corner of the warehouse, "is not an option that we should contemplate at this time. I have, therefore, identified a possible way to recover the segments which the Doctor already possesses." He pointed to one of the robed Time Lords standing in the dusty light at the centre of the room, then crooked his wizened finger,
"Come here," he whispered. The figure approached, kneeling before his leader.
"I obey, Great One," he said, simply.
"Let your mind be free, to find a new home," whispered the Great One, pressing his fingers to the Time Lord's temples, "to find a new home..."
* * *
"So this is Earth," said Merak. "It's a bit on the cold side."
The TARDIS appeared to be in a junkyard, looking as out of placeamong the collected debris as it ever did. Grace was completely under-whelmed.
"It's not all like this," she said. "Bits of it are quite nice."
Merak harrumphed, and Grace took the tracer from her pocket. It was clicking softly. She swung around, waving the tracer before her in a broad sweeping gesture. Eventually she decided which way to go and strode out of the junkyard, turning left into the street, unaware of the eyes of the young girl that were watching her every move. The streets of London were
eerily quiet, and Grace found herself peering back over her shoulder every few seconds, making sure that they weren't being followed. Merak was no help. He was even more nervous than she was.
There was a blast of a horn from behind them, and Grace had to pull Merak out of the way of a speeding van. It was black, unmarked, with twirling aerials on the roof. She found that oddly disconcerting, but she couldn't quite pinpoint why.
After a few minutes, they turned a corner and saw the van again. It had pulled to a halt outside a school. An imperious looking woman in a tweed suit was standing by the open back door, arguing with a severe looking military man. A younger, blonde woman was trying to mediate, without much success.
"Damn," muttered Grace, pushing Merak behind her, trying to keep out of sight.
"What is it?" asked Merak.
"Well, whatever we want is in that school," explained Grace, "and these people are between us and it."
"So what do we do?"
"Why don't you create a diversion, Merak? You get their attention, and I'll try to slip past them while they're worried about you."
"So what do I do?"
"Well, honesty usually works."
Grace watched from her vantage point as Merak walked out towards the van.
"Hello," she heard him say, "I wonder if you can help me? I'm looking for a segment of an extremely powerful... well something extremely powerful and important, anyway. I don't suppose you happen to know of any immensely powerful alien artefacts nearby, do you?"
Grace watched with a detached calmness as Merak was grabbed, slammed up against the side of the van and checked for weapons. Once she was sure that everyone's attention was elsewhere, she ran across the road, and into the side entrance to the playground.
* * *
Before it had shut down, it was lost. It had been sent to explore the alien craft, and find its secrets. It had travelled through endless identical corridors, mapping them in its memory, methodically searching for anything of importance. It had found mainly wardrobes.
When it had tried to retrace its steps, it found that the configuration of corridors differed from its map, that its map was not accurate. This was not possible. Either the map or the corridors were wrong. The map was right, therefore the corridors were wrong. It tried to
punch through a wall. It failed. It tried to comprehend the situation. It failed. It checked its perceptive circuits. Functional. It sent out a distress signal to its fellow units. No reply. It was in a paradoxical situation. It shut down.
Before that, it had striven to serve the greater purpose, to obey its leader in all things. To save the world it called home from inevitable destruction.
Before that, long, long before that, it had been something different. Something called Christine. That, however, was irrelevant. In the darkness, it jerked back to life. It had a new purpose now, a new goal. A new mind controlled its actions. Slowly at first, but gradually picking up pace, the silver giant lurched to its feet.
* * *
Merak felt rather undignified standing against the van while his fate was discussed.
"He's obviously mad. We should alert the Medical authorities," said the blonde woman.
"I'm not so sure, Alison," said the other woman. "His clothing isn't made from any fabric I can identify, and his accent — I can't quite place it, but it's not quite English. But of course I'm only a civilian. We really need the finely tuned opinion of the military mind — Captain Gilmore?"
"I don't really care if he's mad, sane or French," replied the Captain. "We can't lock him up, but we can't leave him wandering the streets either."
"Excuse me," said Merak.
"Yes?" asked Gilmore.
"Sorry for asking, but would it be awfully inconvenient if I moved? This position is terribly uncomfortable."
"I suppose so."
"I'm Professor Rachel Jensen," said the woman in the tweed suit.
"I am Merak of Atrios," he replied.
Rachel and Gilmore looked at each other. Rachel shrugged. Merak took the opportunity to run away.
* * *
The Doctor took a book down from the top shelf of the library, and blew dust from it. It had been a long time since he'd had a chance to sit back with a good record and just read. He eyed the cover — "A Brief History of Time" — before throwing it casually away.
Eventually he settled on a copy of "The Name of the Rose", settled back in his armchair, put a record on and sipped his tea. Something was flashing on the console, but the Doctor was too engrossed to notice it.
* * *
The school was empty. Grace had been surprised to find a door open. The tracer was beeping rapidly now, and she felt confident that she'd be able to get the segment and get out again without any problem. Then all she had to do was find and rescue Merak and get back to the TARDIS.
Then she remembered what the Doctor had said.
...it's probably swarming with undesirable megalomaniac pepper-pots, and it's really not a very sensible place to be...
Grace had not had much experience with megalomaniac pepper-pots, but she knew a description of a Dalek when she heard one. She cursed herself for not remembering earlier. She decided that it was definitely safer to move quietly, to stay in the shadows, not to draw any attention to herself.
She found the segment in a first floor Science lab. Under a lab bench, in an abandoned satchel was a copy of "The French Revolution" which shifted, blurring, crystallising, when she touched the tracer to it. Her immediate thought was that this was a mistake. As a book, she could have carried it more easily than as a rather awkward lump of whatever it was. But it was too late now, she figured.
And so she made her way back down to the door, staying in shadows, creeping as silently as she could, just in case.
She put her hand on the door handle, turning it gently.
"Halt or you will be exterminated. Turn around."
She turned around very slowly. In the shadows, she could make out a single Dalek, white and gold. Street lamps from outside cast an orange glow across it. Slowly, she raised her hands.
* * *
The first thing he noticed was that the record jumped. These days that was almost as reliable as the cloister bell. Carefully, he put the book down, inserting an autographed photograph of Mae West to mark his position. He stood up, pulling his waistcoat down, and turned around. The giant silver figure strode out of the darkness, gun pointed at him. Something was wrong.
He vaguely remembered when the Cyberman had wandered into the depths of the TARDIS and gotten lost. He had tracked it carefully. He'd thought that he had lost it during the reconstruction work. Obviously he had been wrong.
Something had changed the Cyberman, though. It's bearing was wrong, and its face had been twisted somehow. It looked more realistic, more human, but it was the face of a human in pain, exerting a great deal of effort. When it spoke, its voice was more human than any Cyberman he had heard before, and identifiably female.
"You will give me the key," it said, "or I will shoot you."
* * *
Everything happened at once, but seemed to happen in slow motion.
The door opened.
The Dalek opened fire.
She was knocked to the floor by the speeding body of Merak.
The segment slipped from her grasp, flying through the air.
She involuntarily raised an arm shield her eyes as the key was hit by the Dalek's fire, exploding into millions of tiny fragments.
And then she was aware that Merak was lying on top of her, groaning, the segment was gone, and a Dalek was bearing down on her.
"Shit," she said.
To be continued...
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