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


Chapter 9
"Why wasn't I invited?"
by David Robinson


---


"Stop wasting time, Doctor!" shouted the Cthulhu, a creature so devastatingly powerful that it existed in the nightmares of Time Lords. It was in possession of Merak's body, and had threatened to kill Merak if the Doctor didn't take it back to the Doctor's dimension.

     The Cloister Bell tolled again, the long macabre sound echoing around the cathedral-like console room.

     The Doctor looked at the creature. He looked at the unconscious body that lay on the wooden floor by one of the support pillars. He looked at Grace as she sat on the lounge and hugged a pillow. He looked at the ship's control console as a shower of sparks continued to fly from it.

     "I'm a Time Lord; I don't waste time." Then the Doctor decided what he must do. "Grace!" he shouted firmly.

     "Yes, Doctor?"

     "Close your eyes and hug that pillow."

     Grace closed her eyes and hugged the pillow. The TARDIS hugged her in return. They needed each other -- it was the only way they were going to survive long enough for the Doctor to do whatever he was about to do. They both knew that.

     The Cloister Bell tolled again. The Doctor directed his full attention at the creature, not at Merak but the Cthulhu within. The Cthulhu took an involuntary step backwards.

     "You may well be the master of your dimension," the Doctor stated, "but whilst we are in my TARDIS we are not in your dimension, we are in mine!"

     Way below the unconscious, deep down in the Doctor's psyche, a creature stirred, the monster the Doctor had fought long and hard not to become. It was a being that lived in the depths of all Time Lords, a being so powerful that it was safe to think of it as myth. Most Time Lords believed that it was a myth, a legend, and so it had become one. But the Doctor knew it was real; he knew it was what the Time Lords really were, and every now and then he called on it for help.

     It was not something that he liked to do. To control it required the collective concentration of all thirteen of his selves, but sometimes he didn't have a choice. He readied his mind to let the monster out.

     The Cthulhu was growing impatient. "Fool, I am the ruler of all the dimensions."

     "Then why do you need me to transport you from one dimension to another?" the Doctor smiled.

     The Cthulhu didn't like being insulted. It charged at the Doctor. The Time Lord stood his ground. The Cthulhu saw the change happen. The small insignificant mortal was replaced by a being that the Cthulhu had not the understanding to describe.

     The Doctor reached out his hand and grabbed the Cthulhu by its neck analogue. Merak's body fell to the floor. The Cthulhu, with tentacles flailing, tried desperately to escape. Suddenly the great Cthulhu, a being that feeds on fear and lives in nightmares, knew what it was to live in fear. It didn't like it.

     "Show me the way out of this dimension," boomed the monster that had come out of the Doctor, "or I'll kill you now!"


* * *


In a dark warehouse, a single beam of light illuminated a black booth. A tall man in a long black Gallifreyan cloak stepped out of the box. He glanced around the empty warehouse checking that all was in readiness. Walking over to an instrument panel on the opposite wall of the room, he touched a few buttons and dashed back to his TARDIS. Moments later, the warehouse was empty.


* * *


Dr. Grace Holloway was curled up on the lounge, her eyes firmly shut, hugging the pillow as tightly as she could. She could hear what sounded like a storm, and the air rushing around her felt like one. She didn't want to know what it was - the TARDIS kept telling her that she really, really /didn't/ want to know what was going on. Grace believed it.

     The Cloister bell rang out, an echo of the destruction that was soon to come.

     The Cthulhu's tentacles were thrashing about wildly, trying to grip onto something, anything, but it was useless. It screamed. It was too scared to think. It knew that it could not win, not against a being so strong. As it's fear increased, it lost all other aspects of its mind; it even lost its survival instinct. Its tentacles dropped to its side, and it was ready to face death.

     The Doctor's thoughts tore apart its mind, searching for the information that would enable the TARDIS to leave the dimension it was in. But the Cthulhu no longer had a mind. It no longer had knowledge; it no longer had self. What the Doctor searched for was not there to find.

     The Cthulhu felt itself flying through the air, and knew that it was over; it had lost. Then it landed on the ground analogue of its own dimension. In front of it, the blue box began to melt.


* * *


There was a loud crash of thunder, and a roaring gust of wind, and then the storm seemed to be gone. Grace kept her eyes shut. She didn't dare look.

     Something tapped her shoulder and she jumped. She looked up to find the Doctor sitting on the lounge beside her.

     "It's only me," he said. He took his handkerchief from his pocket and wiped the tears from her checks. "All the monsters have gone."

     She hadn't even know she had been crying. She sniffled and accepted the hanky to blow her nose.

     "So what do we do know?" she asked, but she knew the answer. The TARDIS had told her.

     "Nothing," the Doctor replied. "Without the key we have no power over the dimension outside. We just wait until the outside breaks in, then we just fade out of existence."

     "Oh."

     "Not exactly comforting, is it?"

     The Cloister bell echoed through the TARDIS.


* * *


The Cthulhu looked at the melting blue box, which was now no more than a puddle on the ground. It thought about the Doctor, and why a being with the ability to kill had spared it.

     It knew the concept was called compassion, but what was the point and why did it feel that it now owed the Doctor something? These were all very new concepts to it, and it didn't like them, but they wouldn't go away.

     The Cthulhu decided that there was only one course of action for it to take. It waved five tentacles in the direction of the puddle. The puddle dropped back into its own dimension.

     The Cthulhu had the sensation of having fulfilled its debt. It bounced off in the direction of someone else's nightmare and forgot all about the Doctor/Monster.


* * *


Half-way up the side of a mountain on the planet Gallifrey, home planet of the Time Lords, stands an ancient and gnarled cluster of buildings: the Prydon Academy. It's a twisted and dark edifice in an otherwise pleasant countryside usually a lovely place for picnics.

     Not literally in the centre but obviously the central building was the not very creatively-titled Prydon Academy Tower.

     One of the least-used rooms in the tower was an warehouse.

     It seems that bad guys have a liking for empty warehouses.

     It was in this room that the Circle had gathered and were trying to assemble an ancient and fabled artefact, the Key To Time.

     They weren't having much luck.


* * *


Inside the TARDIS, Merak was now sprawled on the lounge, with Grace kneeling beside him. A pillow propped up his head. The Doctor was carrying the other Time Lord over to the other lounge.

     Grace stopped and thought. She couldn't remember at what point the TARDIS had implanted the knowledge that the other person was a Time Lord, nor could she remember when the other lounge had arrived. She guessed, correctly, that the TARDIS was responding to her thoughts.

     The Cloister bell tolled again.

     Merak had a large bruise on his left temple. Grace grabbed a few items from the TARDIS medical kit and waved them over Merak's face. She was amazed by the way the bruise just vanished, and by the fact that she knew how to use the equipment. The TARDIS again.

     She was about to ask the Doctor how the other patient was when the Cloister Bell stopped ringing.

     The Doctor and Grace looked towards the console. A final cascade of sparks exploded from one of the panels and then the lights returned to normal as the ship resumed normal operations.

     "I wonder what happened?" the Doctor said, more to himself.

     "We're back in our own dimension," Grace replied.

     The Doctor stood beside the console, hesitant to touch the controls. The emotional bond that he had forged between the TARDIS and Grace was getting stronger. It was the sort of thing you had to be careful with.

     "As the TARDIS and you are on such good speaking terms, would you mind asking how we got back?"

     "She doesn't know."

     "Hmm," he said to himself.

     He glanced at the free-floating monitor. When in flight it normally displayed their destination. At the moment it simply said "HOME".

     "Hmm."


* * *


For a brief moment the Key To Time formed a perfect cube, each separate piece blending together so that the divisions didn't exist.

     Then, just as every other time they had tried it, the key fell apart again, back into six pieces. It wasn't supposed to work that way. The Key should have joined together and given the holder power over all of Creation.

     The bad guys were getting just a little annoyed.

     They tried assembling the key in yet another order.


* * *


Grace and Merak were walking in the TARDIS. The Doctor had pushed them out of the console room, telling them that he needed to think, and that he mustn't be disturbed.

     Merak was walking around the Cloister Room, trying very hard not to think about Astra and how much he missed her. The way she smiled, the way she poked her tongue out at people she didn't like when their backs were turned...

     Grace was sitting on the steps opposite the Eye of Harmony. It was the first time she had been in the Cloister Room since that rather nasty battle with the Master. On the previous occasion she hadn't really had a chance to look around.

     Now, she did.

     The room calmed her. It was a place of relaxation, which nicely juxtaposed the power she could feel in the Eye. It was also the only place in the TARDIS that had a feeling of 'anticlaustrophobie'. The rest of the TARDIS didn't feel claustrophobic; it was just that this room felt 'open'.

     She looked up and saw what the TARDIS told her was the Cloister Bell.

     So that was what the darned thing looked like. It didn't look like the sort of thing that would make a doom-laden sound; it was an almost invisible, transparent torus of glass.


* * *


The Doctor was worried, and for the first time ever he was worried about the fact that he and his companions were still alive. His as yet un-named foe should by now have assembled the Key To Time, the most powerful artefact in the universe. So, if his foe had successfully assembled the Key, why was he still alive? It would be easy for the holder of the Key just to wish him dead.

     Then there was the question of the identity of his foe. He knew that whoever it was, was a Time Lord, or at least he hoped it was.

     He knew that the Master was involved, but how could the Master be alive? He knew that vampires were involved, but why? Very few Time Lords would have the mental strength to reach across from one dimension to another to steal the pieces of the Key from him.

     In total he could think of three possible Time Lords that could pull this sort of thing off: Rassilon, Omega, and the Other. No one was really sure if the Other had ever really existed, or if Rassilon had invented him as a scapegoat for the death of Omega.

     The adventure was getting complicated.


* * *


Merak was looking even more nervous than before, so Grace walked over to him, linked arms with him and suggested that they go back to the Console Room and see if the Doctor would let them in yet.

     They were both rather surprised when they walked into the console room and found that they were on a balcony level looking down over the room.

     Without looking up from the console the Doctor said: "Ah, you're back at last. I was starting to think you had got lost."

     Grace started down the steps.

     "No, we were just walking. What have you been up to?" she asked him.

     "Trying to work out why we are still alive."

     "Because of the hours of practice we put in at not getting killed by megalomaniacs that are trying to take over the Universe?"

     "Not this time."

     Grace walked over and checked on the other Time Lord. He was still unconscious. Merak walked over to the console.

     "Grace, about the link between you and the TARDIS..." the Doctor said.

     She walked over and sat on the lounge facing him.

     "I can't disconnect it; doing so would kill both of you. Only you and the TARDIS can decided to terminate the link. And it has to be a mutual decision."

     "But now that we're back in our normal dimension, there isn't a need for it, is there?"

     "Well, you will both be able to live with out the link. But you may find it very lonely, especially at first."

     "Doctor." Merak's voice had a note of concern. The Doctor was at his side by the console in a matter of moments.

     When Grace got there she discovered what it was that had their attention.

     The tracer was still clicking quietly.

     "That's very odd," the Doctor looked at his companions. "This tracer thinks there is another piece of the key somewhere. Shall we go and see? Grace, if you wouldn't mind."

     At Grace's request, the TARDIS changed course.


* * *


On the town green in the small English village of Cheldon Bonniface stood two Police Boxes. A third materialized. Out stepped Dr. Grace Holloway.

     She glanced at the other two Police Boxes and abruptly understood what the Doctor had meant when he said that it might be embarrassing if he went.

     She closed the door and headed in the direction the tracer indicated, towards the church a little way up the hill. When she got closer, she realized that there was a party going on. She also realized that the key seemed to be right in the centre of the party. She walked into the reception hall praying that there would be so many guests that no one would notice that she shouldn't be there.

     As unobtrusively as possible she swung the tracer around, and saw that it suggested the direction of the buffet. Weaving her way quickly through the crowd, she made her way over to it. Very quickly she found the item the tracer was interested in, a suspicious looking yellow dip.

     Someone bumped into her and she dropped the tracer into the dip. "I'm so sorry," said the person behind her.

     The dip morphed into a strangely-shaped piece of crystal that looked oddly like a strangely shaped piece of perspex. Grace picked it and the now silent tracer up.

     She turned and found herself face to face with the Doctor. Not her Doctor -- his previous self, the one she had killed, would kill.

     Whatever.

     Grace swallowed hard.

     "That's all right; no harm done." She put the key segment and the tracer into her pocket, but not quickly enough for him not the see them.

     "Let me guess," he said in a Scottish burr that sent a shiver down Grace's spine. "It would be better if I didn't know anything about this."

     "Much."

     "Goodbye then, until we meet." He doffed his hat and then disappeared into the crowd.


* * *


"Well?" asked one of the Time Lords.

     "I don't know. It should work," replied another.

     "You said it would give us power over all Time and Space," added a third.

     Nobody said anything more.


* * *


Grace came skidding into the TARDIS, having run all the way back. She walked straight up to the Doctor and hit him.

     "You could have warned me. It's bad enough travelling around with you and always being reminded that I 'killed' you, but to see you before it happened... That's just creepy." Grace shivered again.

     She watched as the Doctor fiddled with all the buttons and knobs that she knew to be the de-mat sequence.

     "Where are we going?" she asked.

     "Well, while you were away, our friend over there," the Doctor pointed at the unconscious Time Lord, "gave us the location of our foes."

     "Ah," she said as she disappeared into the TARDIS to make a good strong cup of hot chocolate.


* * *


"I have an idea," the voice came from the back of the room, from one of the less significant members of the Circle.

     She walked towards the pieces of the key and touched one. Then she whispered quietly, "Find the Key."

     The six pieces glowed for a moment and above them appeared an image of a blue box spinning through the Vortex.

     "Oh, shit," she said quietly.


* * *


Grace came back into the Console Room feeling much better. She glanced at the free-floating monitor to get an idea as to their destination. All it said was 'Bad Guys' Hide Out'.

     "Well, that's helpful," she said.

     A moment latter they had arrived, and the Doctor was already standing at the door that lead out to their destination.

     "Are you two coming?" He tapped his foot in mock impatience.

     Merak and Grace joined the Doctor by the doors.

     "What about him?" Grace indicated the other Time Lord.

     "Leave him; he can't get up to too much trouble."

     Together they stepped out of the TARDIS and into a trap.

     "Oh, bugger!" shouted the Doctor.

     "What happened, Doctor?" asked Merak.

     "We're caught in a trap." For a moment it seemed he wasn't going to elaborate. "You know how the inside of the TARDIS is in a different but relative dimension. Well, the inside of this trap is in a different but non-relative dimension."

     "Which means?" asked Grace.

     "We can't get back!"

     Grace sat down on the ground and crossed her legs.

     The Doctor was muttering to himself. "There was a lecture on how to get out of this sort of problem at the Academy."

     "So how do you get out?" asked Grace.

     "I don't know. I skipped that class."


---
To be continued...



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