|Doctor Who Internet Adventure #14 - "Endless Night"
"Closing the Circle"
by Matt Michael and Will Howells
"Every night and every morn
Some to misery are born
Every morn and every night
Some are born to sweet delight
Some are born to sweet delight
Some are born to endless night"
— William Blake
* * *
PART ONE: HOLDING BACK LIFE
Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
I have already come:
'Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
- — John Newton, "Amazing Grace"
"He is the closed circle. He is returning to the beginning."
- — Ulkesh Naranek
* * *
She was running, slower now. She couldn't keep it up much longer; her breath was coming in short gasps, she had a stitch, and she could feel a dull, throbbing pain in her lungs. Worse, she could hear them, their heavy footsteps as they chased her, hunted her down. A few streets back, she thought she'd lost them. She'd watched from a narrow side road as the patrol had hurried past. Their large eyes weren't really built for diurnal sight - they were night dwellers by nature and so they had missed her, dazzled by the afternoon sun. But she'd been careless, and they'd picked up her trail again. Now it looked as though all her
work, all her poking around, all the information she'd gradually obtained over the past six months, all of it was wasted.
They were closing in, she could hear their voices now, speaking in their own language, high and chittering. She zigzagged through the alleyways of the town, desperately hoping for somewhere she could hide, get her breath back. She turned another corner, and then she heard it, the sound she'd been praying for every night for the last two-and-a-half years. For a moment, she couldn't believe what she was hearing. It had to be a dream, a hallucination brought on by the stress of anaerobic respiration, a lack of oxygen to the brain. But it was real, getting louder, and it was somewhere near. The sound of ancient engines grinding and straining like an arthritic hip as the Ship forced itself into existence.
It was too late. Even as she heard the final thud of the craft as it solidified, even as it realised itself and the grinding ceased, the patrol was upon her. Delicate hands which belied their true strength seized her arms, slapped a drug patch onto the back of her hand. Long fingers wrapping around her, dragging her away.
Just before the drugs took hold of her, she managed to scream just once, a single, desperate word.
But no-one that cared heard, and no-one that heard cared.
* * *
And a Dream Sequence followed, as night follows night...
They were after him, chasing him through the streets like an animal.
They were after him, with their rifles, and swords, high-power disrupters, regulation blasters, spears, daggers, sickles...
What a Fool he'd been, to think he could outrun them, to think he could escape their wrath. Had he taunted them? He couldn't remember, but he didn't care. What was important was the here and now: they wanted his blood, his sinew, his life.
They were after him, and soon — oh so soon but I don't want to die not again someone help me anyone help me please please please — soon they were going to catch him.
He stumbled on the pavement, fell forward, scraping his knees on the rough ground. He sprinted on, desperate to find safety. The street went on forever, nowhere to seek solace. Nowhere to hide.
They were after him, almost upon him. Hunters. Bastards.
What had he done to them? What would they do to him? Don't even think about it just run keep running don't stop don't let them catch you
Someone was standing ahead, gesturing to him, glinting. Angela. He didn't recognise her face, but he knew it was her.
They were killing him now, slashing him with their swords, hitting him with the butts of their rifles, and firing blast after blast of searing energy into his chest.
He was lying face down on the dirty ground, blood dripping from his hair. There was no pain. He was dead.
There was no pain but it bloody hurt.
And then they rolled him over and he saw them. Two of them.
"I'm sorry," said the boy, laughing like a fool. The other —
Goddess, it was him! — just looked down at the corpse, expressionless.
And the Doctor was there, and there was a strawberry blonde at his side — who is she why do I know her where have we met
"No heartbeat or residual brain activity," the woman said. "He's definitely dead."
The Doctor shook his head sadly. "All of my nanites and all of my friends couldn't put Jadi together again."
...And thus the Dream Sequence was concluded. For now.
* * *
"Are you all right?"
"What? Course I am." Did that sound too harsh? He smiled and kissed Angela's cheek. "Just a bad dream."
"Again? You should get the TARDIS to find you a different diet."
"Look, it's nothing..."
"I was joking."
Oops, that one had gone right past him. Why not just tell her? It's only a dream.
"I've been having nightmares," he said. "Since Earth."
Angela nodded and wrapped an arm around his shoulders. "About anything in particular?"
He took a deep breath. "Death. Mine."
"Always the same?"
He nodded, glad to finally get it off his chest. "Same basic, er, plot. And I die at the end. Horribly."
"Then," she said, "don't worry about it. Literally. Remembering it before you go to sleep and worrying will encourage the same dream." She
hugged him more tightly and put on a childish voice. "No-one will hurt Jadi-Wadi while Angela's here."
He couldn't help smiling. "So, Sexy," he said, snuggling down, "what do you dream about?"
She hesitated. Probably trying to pick a dream she wouldn't be embarrassed about. "I can never remember," she answered finally. Wow,
Jadi thought, she must have some really dodgy dreams.
* * *
A striking man with classical features, piercing blue eyes and rather bedraggled curly hair stepped into the wide, deserted street within which the TARDIS had grudgingly deposited itself. "Welcome home, Gwilym Young."
A shorter, innocent looking young man with shoulder-length brown hair stood at the doorway of the TARDIS, suspicious. He glanced around. "Well, it's certainly quieter than usual, Doctor."
"Peace and quiet will do us good!"
Wil shot the Doctor a worried look. "Are you sure these are the right temporal co-ordinates?"
"Absolutely. Don't worry, Wil. It's probably Sunday." The Doctor began to wander down the street, hands thrust deep into the pockets of his bottle-green coat. He looked at their surroundings with keen interest. "Except, of course, you don't have Sundays... That's odd."
Wil hurried after the Doctor. "What's odd?"
"These streets are far cleaner than they used to be — look, no litter anywhere."
"Maybe the 'Keep Paracastria Tidy' campaign has been successful after all. Stranger things have happened."
"Like that woman becoming Pope."
"And those suns achieving sentience."
"So you don't think there's anything too wrong about it all?"
"Oh, nothing we can't sort out, eh, Wil?" The Doctor grinned. "At least it's a nice day..." He began to hum a jaunty tune, leading Wil away from the TARDIS.
"What about Angela and Jadi?"
"We'll just go for a quick look around. We'll be back before they know. I didn't want to disturb the two of them." A moment later, he was off on a totally different track, bounding over to the other side of the alley.
"Interesting," the Doctor murmured, crouching
"What is it?"
The Doctor stood up as Wil reached him. He waved a red circle, rather like an old-fashioned sticking plaster, in Wil's face. "Slapper."
"I beg your pardon?"
"It's a slapper, a drug patch, used for supradermal administration of non-solid chemical substances." He licked the patch, and grimaced, wiping his tongue on his cuff. "It's some sort of anaesthetic, similar to chloroform. Strong too."
"So there was an accident here?"
The Doctor looked rather worried. "Yes, perhaps. I think we'd better be getting back to the TARDIS. Angela and Jadi will wonder where we've got to. I think-- Mmph!"
Without warning, Wil had grabbed the Doctor, and dragged him into one of the tiny yards that infrequently led off the alleyway.
"Shhh," Wil hissed. When the Doctor nodded, Wil removed his hand from the Time Lord's mouth.
"What is it?" the Doctor whispered.
Wil put a finger to his lips. "Someone's coming."
"Ah, maybe they'll be able to tell us what's going on." The Doctor began to head back into the alley, but was prevented from doing so by Wil's insistent tugging on his coat.
"Let's be subtle about it this time," Wil said.
The Doctor pouted.
The footsteps faded away as the figures passed the yard. Wil breathed a sigh of relief.
Suddenly the two of them were seized by heavy hands.
* * *
"No sign of them out here," Jadi noted as Angela joined him outside the TARDIS. She pulled the door closed.
"You know what he's like," she said. "He'll have gone out 'for a look around' and already be up to his neck in trouble."
"The Doctor isn't much better," Jadi half-heartedly quipped. He looked up and down the street again, biting his lip. "Do you think it's safe?"
Angela touched his nose and smiled. "For a trained bounty hunter and master criminal? I should think so. Come on."
They reached the end of the alley and stepped into bright sunlight. The street was wide and lined with houses, hovercars parked outside most.
"It's like a ghost town," Jadi said, half-expecting a tumbleweed to roll up to him. And, if this was another one of those weird planets they seemed to end up on, probably say hello too.
"Suburbia," Angela said, arms folded. "Nice enough place to visit..."
She started to walk along the street, away from the sun.
"Whoa," Jadi called. "We shouldn't go to far."
Angela stopped. She seemed about to argue, but, after a moment, started to walk back to him. "Though it depresses me to admit it, Morok, you're probably... Cruk."
She was staring past him. Jadi reached for his blaster, but Angela was shaking her head, warning him to leave it holstered. Slowly, he turned around.
* * *
"Ah, hello," said the Doctor, "I'm the Doctor and this is my friend Wil."
"Hi," Wil added.
A large, bearded man eyed the two of them with suspicion. "What are you doin' in my yard?" he demanded.
"Erm," Wil began.
"Ha," the man laughed heartily. "Hidin' from the patrols are you? Well, I can't say I blame you. Don't worry, my dears, I'm not going to tell the damn boggle-eyes about ya."
"Oh, thank you."
"You'd best join me inside though," the large man continued. "There was some trouble here earlier - I saw a woman tryin' to break curfew.
Feisty little thing, I thought, but they caught her anyway. They always do," he finished sadly.
"We really should be getting back to my, ah, lodgings," protested the Doctor.
The fat man laughed, "I'm surprised you got here without being seen. The patrols pass here every few minutes."
"Maybe we should do as he says," said Wil. "After all, Jadi and Angela will be in even more of a pickle if we get caught."
The Doctor sighed, "It's your planet."
Wil and the Doctor followed the man through the small door into his house.
* * *
"Where are you taking us?" a blasterless Jadi asked, hands raised and now getting quite tired. Angela was silent as she walked along beside him.
"You will be taken to Standard Incarceration Department 3." The speaker seemed to be in charge of the group of creatures. They were all at least a head shorter than the two time travellers, their wrinkled hands clasping stubby energy weapons. Their eyes were white bulbs, hidden behind large sunglasses that looked rather incongruous perched on the tiny external prominences of the creatures' ears.
"Prison then?" Jadi said, plans of escape already germinating.
"Incarceration," the leader repeated. "Be silent."
* * *
The interior of the house was sparsely furnished, a few tatty-looking chairs, an old, red sofa, a battered coffee table with a few rather graphic books scattered upon it. Wil looked down at them, then glanced away again quickly, hoping that the Doctor hadn't noticed.
"Take a seat," said the man, gesturing to the sofa. "Would you like somethin' to drink?"
"Yes please," Wil said.
"I can't offer anything excitin', just your usual, y'know, tea, koko, coffee. Water, if you want."
Wil's eyes widened. "Koko? Real, home-made, Paracastrian koko?"
"Well, it comes from Io in jars, but 'part from that..."
"That sounds just fine Mister..."
"Tarrant," the man said. "What about your friend?"
"Tea please," said the Doctor. "White."
"Yes please. I feel like four today."
To Wil's dismay, the Doctor picked up one of the books on the coffee table and flicked through it. "Are naked male humanoids 'in' this year?" he pondered. "Art changes so quickly."
Tarrant grinned. "D'you like that sort of thing?"
Wil looked horrified. "I, that is to say we, well, we're just
Tarrant looked a little crestfallen. So did the Doctor. "Wil's my best friend," he said proudly.
"Ah," Tarrant said, knowingly, "I see. Best get those drinks." As he left the room, he tipped Wil a wink.
"I wish you wouldn't do things like that, Doctor," Wil said irritably once he was sure Tarrant was out of earshot.
A few moments later, Tarrant returned with the drinks. Wil sighed happily as he sipped his steaming koko.
The Doctor was standing by the single, small, grimy window, which was covered by some distinctly grubby net curtains. "Nice view."
Tarrant grinned as he handed the Doctor his tea. "I can see the world go by," he said. "And it lets a bit of daylight in. All I get, anyway."
"You mentioned a curfew earlier?"
"Seven 'til seven. Are you from one of the outer provinces? I thought everyone knew."
"Denurys," Wil said quickly. Tarrant snorted; Wil tried to ignore the slight. "It can't be after seven yet," Wil said. "It's still sunny."
"Seven in the mornin' 'til seven in the evenin'," Tarrant said. "'No-one - no human anyway - shall leave their dwelling durin' the hours of sunlight.' It's been the same ever since the boggle-eyes took over."
"What? The natives?" Wil looked distinctly unconvinced. "The Paracastrians have lived in harmony with the human colonists for centuries, why would they suddenly change now?"
"You might well ask," Tarrant said. "All I know is that for the past few months we humans have lived in endless night."
"So the Paracastrians have taken charge," the Doctor mused.
"No, it isn't possible," Wil insisted. "Why would they suddenly turn nasty, it just doesn't make sense."
"Everything makes sense, Wil," the Doctor said gravely, "once you know all the facts." He turned to Tarrant. "I think you'd better start from the beginning and tell us all about it."
* * *
Jadi and Angela had been lead to an older area of the city, into a one-storey building - presumably this was Standard Incarceration Department 3. They had been summarily locked up in a cell in the back of the department. Lying on one of the bunks in the cell was a
flame-haired young woman.
"Great," said Angela. "If we're really lucky, the bug-eyed
monsters are mates with the authorities on Alcestus. Somehow I doubt they're Wil's relatives."
"Yeah," quipped Jadi, "they're far more attractive." Angela didn't smile. "Don't worry. It shouldn't take too long to get out of here," Jadi said with more optimism than he felt.
The woman on the bunk snorted. "You don't think I've tried?"
"This is a holding cell, right? We'll be moved elsewhere."
"Don't count on it, friend. I've been here two months so far."
Jadi frowned. "What have you been charged with?"
"I haven't, not officially. But I'm in here for breaking curfew."
She proffered a grubby hand. "My name's Sophie."
Jadi shook her hand. "I'm Jadi, and this is my friend Angela."
* * *
Yt nodded, chittering nervously. "Routine tests produced the expected results, sir. We have ascertained dietary and exercise requirements." He handed over a hard copy. "There was one anomaly though."
"Yes, sir. In the metaspectrographic class, extreme band." Yt activated the main holoscreen. "Her. The one on the floor."
"Does she have a name?"
Yt flicked through the papers on his clipboard. His large eyes peered at the handwriting, trying to make out and translate the words.
* * *
It had taken one hour and three cups of koko for Tarrant to bring the Doctor and Wil up to speed on events on Paracastria. It seemed that for the last seven months, the aboriginal Paracastrians had started to become more aggressive, demanding more and more concessions from the humans. It all came to a head one night when the Paracastrians just marched into key facilities, and simply assumed control of the planet. By the next morning, everything was under their control — resistance would have been futile and bloody.
"The thing is, they haven't actually done anythin' to harm anyone," said Tarrant. "They imposed the curfew, but other than that, life goes on pretty much as normal, just at night instead of durin' the day. I mean, there was some talk of resistance at first, but it frankly seemed pointless."
The Doctor rubbed his chin, thoughtfully. "I do like your carpet," he said.
"I'm sorry," Tarrant replied, rather fazed by the Doctor.
The Doctor looked up, "No time for tittle-tattle," he proclaimed. "Something is obviously very wrong, and I owe it to my friend" — he gestured vaguely at Wil - "to find out what. Now, there's something here that doesn't add up. Why would the Paracastrians suddenly take over?" His eyes lit up. "The crystal statues — the Rawd. The indigenous Paracastrians worshipped them as idols. The last time I was here, the statues came to life and stormed through the cities before being destroyed. Could that have prompted the natives to become more aggressive?" he finished, breathless.
"I doubt it," Wil interjected. "The natives are more civilised than that, and their religion is far more complicated than worshipping a load of purple crystals. The concepts would have remained even after what happened."
"And," Tarrant added, "that was all nearly three years ago."
Wil frowned for a second before glaring at the Doctor. The Time Lord looked slightly guilty. "I was only slightly out," he said. "Anyway, there must have been something sufficiently traumatic to cause such massive disruption in this society."
"What about Russia?" said Wil. "The revolution there was brought on by the war."
"Yes, yes, yes, but there were far more deep-rooted reasons for that," said the Doctor. "No, what has happened here must have been caused by something immediate."
"Don't look at me," Tarrant said, "I haven't got a flenkin' parpip how it happened and I live here."
* * *
"Where are you taking her?" Jadi asked as three of the Paracastrian natives man-handled Angela from the cell. The creatures ignored him, locking the heavy metal door behind them.
"Political activist, your lady friend?"
Jadi shook his head. "We only just arrived here."
"Don't you know Paracastria is off limits to interplanetary
travellers?" Sophie's hair seemed browner now. Jadi blamed the lighting.
"I... I didn't, no." He sat down next to Sophie leaning his elbows on his thighs, his head in his hands. "I wonder where the Doctor's got to."
Sophie had to apologise for spluttering over him.
* * *
Wil and Tarrant had waited with an impatient Doctor until seven in the evening, when the curfew ended, before leaving Tarrant's seedy abode. The Doctor had spent the time pacing up and down, deep in thought, occasionally pulling a book off a shelf and flicking through it. Now,
as they headed back down the darkening streets towards the TARDIS, they came across more and more humans who, finally liberated from the stifling heat indoors, were going about their nightly business. The Doctor was more subdued than usual, clearly musing on the current situation on Paracastria. Wil was more surprised than anything, unable to fathom the sudden change perceived in the natives.
"This way," said the Doctor, hurrying down the alley he and Wil had first traversed earlier that day. "We have to get back to the TARDIS and warn Jadi and Angela."
The Doctor breathed a sigh of relief as he fumbled with the key in the lock — the Ship was exactly where they had left it. "I can still remember Deremar," he muttered. "I don't want *that* happening again..." He pushed the door open and stepped inside.
A moment later, he emerged, a look of dismay apparent on his face. "They've gone."
* * *
Angela had been driven through the city in a military hovercar and was dismayed to discover her destination: Standard Incarceration Department 1. She wondered why the natives had decided to move her, what they were going to do with her, whether Jadi would be all right, where the Doctor had got to when she needed him...
She was further disheartened when she was imprisoned in a cell identically to the one she had left half an hour earlier. She had been processed - which consisted of signing her name and being relived of any possible weapons - along with another young woman (was Wil the only human male from this planet?) with whom she was locked up.
"Hi," Angela said, "I'm Angela."
"Hi," said the strawberry blonde, "I'm Grace."
To be continued...
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