|Doctor Who Internet Adventure #14 - "Endless Night"
"Fools Who Should Be Kings and Other Clichés"
by Brad Trechak
Okay, I admit it. After a quick conversation with my editor, who is kindly holding an atomic napalm neutralizer to my spheroids, I admit that I took a few 'liberties' in Chapter Two. I was once told that readers prefer happy endings. I wanted you, dear reader, to think that I turned out all right. My mistake. Sorry. I didn't marry a woman named Angie (who I named for my dear Ms. Ferris, of course), nor did I settle on Earth to become a great entertainer. I'd tell you what I did, but the Doctor once told me that what you do in the present affects the past as much as the future. Only perception works in a forward fashion, so you never notice. (Makes for a great pick-up line, really. "Honey, if we don't have sex tonight, the entire space-time continuum will collapse."). In that respect, I'll leave my future as a mystery to you. After all, nobody knows the future.
Except for the Doctor, who makes it happen.
The Doctor...he once told me something. During that Timewar fiasco, he told me that the Dark One said that I was 'the Fool who should be King'. I knew what he meant, of course. I just didn't want to face the truth. I was a Fool. Fools were not Kings.
Let me tell you a story... Once upon a time, there was a King named Roland who ruled a kingdom named Denurys in a realm called Paracastria. He had a Queen named Shanna and a single son, who would become King upon the King's death. However, a member of the royal court named Gerund wanted the throne for himself and arranged for proof to be discovered that the royal family had betrayed Denurys to one of its enemies (in a feudal society, such things did not need much proof for the people to believe it). As a result, a civil war ensued. In fear, Roland gave his only infant son to a peasant family named Young for safekeeping. The family gave the child a peasant name and kept it as their own, a secret from the rest of Denurysian society. Shortly afterward, the King and Queen were publicly executed, and Gerund became Lord Protector of the Province of Denurys. Gerund never learned of what happened to the child, and he never knew that the sole inheritor of the throne of Denurys was still present in the royal court.
It's cliché, isn't it?
* * *
The Doctor and Hal were being taken to Standard Incarceration Department One for interrogation and experimentation. Following normal procedure, the natives contacted the administrator named Yt. It should be noted that they didn't need to use any sort of communication device.
[We have the Doctor,] said one of the Paracastrians, unheard by the Doctor or Hal.
[Good. What about our agents?] answered Yt, unheard by Jadi.
[We have one, the male. The female is waiting at the Doctor's time machine.]
[Good. We have no further use for the male. Kill him.] It should be asked why the Paracastrians would bother to carry a weapon that could only stun rather than kill. The answer is simple: they prefer to kill using their bare hands.
In a flash of movement, Hal woke and wondered why his neck was suddenly sore, then he never wondered anything again. Had the Doctor been conscious, he would have been appalled.
* * *
"Why should we talk?" asked Jadi.
"Because I know where the woman you seek is. The gun I am holding might also be enough to convince you."
"So what do we do now?"
* * *
Nuhral led Sophie and Grace (who couldn't remember her name for the life of her) to the hovercar they took to SID1. Once again, Nuhral drove with Sophie's gun pressed in his side. Getting out of the SID complex proved as easy as getting in and around had been. Sophie was concerned that there might be a group of armed Paracastrians awaiting them as they left. Surprisingly, there was nobody. This is a little too easy, thought Sophie.
"So where do we go now?" asked Sophie. There was no place on the planet that was really safe. It would be light soon and then they would be discovered for certain.
As they sped away from the SID1, they passed another hovercar. In the transport were several Paracastrians and the Doctor (the body of Hal had been disposed of before they got in the car). The Doctor's head tilted slightly and he was suddenly awake upon passing the other hovercar. There was a single message broadcast from the Doctor to Grace.
(Go to the TARDIS.)
Grace, who didn't know her own name, wondered what a TARDIS was.
"The TARDIS," she said.
"What?" asked Sophie.
"We must get to the TARDIS."
"You know where this TARDIS is?"
"Yes." Grace gave impeccable directions for one who had lost a huge chunk of her memory. Sadly, the Doctor wasn't able to mention to her about the fire-breathing child awaiting them there.
* * *
The Doctor wondered for a moment why Grace wasn't on Earth. She was supposed to end up there. He knew that. Irving Braxiatiel had been supposed to take her there. He sighed aloud. The time stream was such a fragile thing. So many possibilities, yet only one universe.
They arrived at SID1, and the Doctor was taken inside to the being called Yt. The Paracastrians took the Doctor into an interrogation room and placed him in a chair, the Doctor still feigning unconsciousness. With a glance, Yt ordered the armed natives out of the room, and then waved Jadi out of his hiding place behind the door as it shut behind them.
"Doctor!" said Jadi in surprise. The Doctor's eyes popped open.
"Jadi!" the Doctor said in return, which surprised Jadi even more. They both smiled, and then the Doctor turned his attention to the third person in the room.
"And you are...?"
"My name is Yt. I am an administrator in this place, as well as a translator between the native and the non-native populace. Are you the Doctor?"
"Good. Because what is happening here is your fault."
* * *
Gwilym Young ran.
With several bounty hunters in pursuit, he hid behind the corner of a building to catch his breath. It was easy to hide in the darkness. A pale, fluorescent light shown throughout the alleyways, just enough for him to see. It created many shadows within which one could hide.
(Okay, where do I go now? The Timid Boy needs to run.)
On the ground was a broken mirror, discarded by someone at some earlier time. Wil picked up one of the sharp, dusty shards, and looked at his own face. It seemed different, somehow. It seemed older.
(Well, nanites would do that. A handy trick, regeneration.)
Gwilym thought of one night, early in his apprenticeship. He had been alone in his room, practicing juggling, and Gareth had forced open the door in a drunken stupor.
Gareth pointed a quivering finger at Gwilym.
"What is it, Gareth?"
Wil began to shake. He didn't recall Gareth ever being in this state before, but he was certain it meant another beating. With a shout, Gareth grabbed him by his throat and threw him on his bed. He held the apprentice down by the shoulders and placed his mouth close to Gwilym's ear. Wil nearly passed out from the intense odor of the alcohol on the old Fool's breath.
"I know who you really are. They told me at the pub. I didn't believe them. It was impossible."
"Gareth, you're hurting me."
"You little fool. You could save us all."
"What do you mean?"
And Gareth had told him. He told him the whole story as he had heard it in the pub.
No beating had followed, but it had been the worst scarring he'd received in all his time with Gareth. When Gareth finally left his room, Wil shook in rage and fear.
Rage at the cruel twist of fate that was his life. Fear at the possibilities in front of him. He didn't want the esponsibility. If Harsferd knew, he would be killed, make no mistake about it. Nobody would help him. Who could he turn to? His parents? That was a laugh. Gareth? An even bigger laugh. He then resolved with himself to become the Fool, andtry to forget who he was. And he had hated himself ever since.
(But I'm not the Timid Boy anymore, am I?)
He turned around. Dakota Armanta appeared in front of him, brandishing a revolver. He raised his hands in surrender.
"Take me to Harsferd. There's something we need to discuss," said Gwilym.
* * *
"My fault? How do you figure that?"
"You brought the woman here. She was your companion. Her experimentation allowed the Paracastrians to be conquered."
"Let's back up. Exactly what happened here?"
Yt told the Doctor of Grace's experimentation on the Paracastrian corpse.
"How did you find out about that?" asked the Doctor. "When it was done," answered Yt, "all Paracastrians knew it."
"We're not certain exactly what happened. Paracastrians share a hive mind. As a result, they are telepathic with each other. After Doctor Holloway tampered with the corpse, she released the Nemesis."
"What did she release?"
"We do not know for certain. It may have been a telepathic disease, or an invasion from an enemy race. We gave it the name, since we do not know its true nature."
"It wouldn't happen to be a large statue made of living metal would it?"
"Never mind. The change took place over a few months then?"
"It crept into every native mind on the planet. Soon it controlled all."
"But that's not enough, is it?"
"The Nemesis must grow. Must expand. That is the crux of its existence. When it finished with the Paracastrians, it needed more minds to grow in. However the non-natives, for the most part, weren't telepathic."
"So they started placing implants in the non-natives."
"Yes. The two you met in your ship were already altered."
"I deduced something like that. What about Grace?"
"Doctor Holloway? Hers was a strange mind. It wasn't telepathic, of course. But it showed remnants of sharing a bond with... something. Something powerful. The Nemesis wanted to find out what, but Doctor Holloway went insane, which tainted her mind."
"And why haven't you been affected?"
"Who says I'm not?"
"You're not homicidal."
"No. I oversee the experiments, among other duties. The latest subject is the one you call Angela."
Jadi jumped up. "What did you do to her?"
"We placed a weapon within her. We tried to place it in Doctor Holloway, with no success. However, Angela's existing implants adapted the weapon far more readily. For some reason, the Nemesis cannot function properly in sunlight. As a result, a curfew began for non-natives, to keep them inside during the day."
"When the Nemesis was weakest," said the Doctor.
"Yes. With the weapon, however, sunlight is no longer a factor. The weapon is called Shadowmaker-00, and it has already been implemented. There will be no sunrise on Paracastria."
The Doctor paused. "This is a hunch, but when you tried to control Grace, er, Doctor Holloway, she suddenly lost her memory, didn't she?"
"Yes. How did you know?"
"When I departed Paracastria without Grace, her link to my TARDIS was severed. Yes, that was the 'something' that Grace shared a bond with, my TARDIS. I had thought Grace had gone back to Earth with Braxiatiel, and that my returning here would cause no problems. For some reason, that didn't happen. I'd better contact Irving to take her back, otherwise the Vortex could unravel again, and recreate the colossal mess that happened the last time. Anyway, after the TARDIS returned, the link began to re-establish itself, but it was severed again when Grace lost her memory. So long as Grace doesn't return to the TARDIS...D'oh! I just sent Grace there! The link could re-establish itself!"
"This is a bad thing, then?" asked Jadi.
"Don't you see? The Nemesis has a link to Grace, and Grace has a link to the TARDIS. If Grace regains her memory, she regains her link. Then, the Nemesis could have access to all of time and space."
"But her implants were deactivated," chimed in Yt.
"Somehow, I suspect that the Nemesis will find a way around that."
Jadi seemed to think for a moment, then spoke. "That's so cliché."
"The universe is cliché," retorted the Doctor. "Deal with it."
* * *
Some time later...
"Ah, young Gwendolyne," said Harsferd. The bounty hunters had collected their fee and departed. Wil was in chains with armed guards on either side of him. The assembled royal court, what remained of them, surrounded the former jester. They awaited his public execution.
"Gwilym, actually. Gwilym Young. Still fat, I see, Lord Harsferd," quipped Wil. Harsferd shifted in his throne, uncomfortably.
"Still unfunny, eh, young jester? You put on a merry chase, but in the end you lost."
"Believe me when I say that I was only caught because I let you catch me. If I wanted to, I could have disappeared forever. But my travels made me realize that there's only so long you can run, and there were issues that needed to be resolved."
"Sadly, young fool, they will remain unresolved. Do you have any last requests before I have you killed?"
"Well, there is one."
"What is that?"
Harsferd stared at him, uncomprehendingly.
"The truth," said Gwilym, "is that you're an unfit ruler, Lord Harsferd. The truth is that you framed the King for a crime that you committed and took his throne upon his death. The truth is that Denurys has been in decline as a kingdom ever since you began your rule of lies and murder. I want to hear it from your lips."
"An interesting tale..." muttered Harsferd.
"Not all of it. The King had an infant son that escaped your clutches. The child was raised as a peasant, but was ever present in the royal court." Gwilym's voice began to get louder as he continued his tale. Harsferd cocked his eyebrow, waiting for the climax of the jester's speech.
"Lord Harsferd, I am that boy. I am the child of the King and the sole heir to the throne you stole." Harsferd stared at Gwilym and nodded his head. The remainder of the royal court was silent. After a pause, Harsferd finally spoke.
"Guards, have this Fool killed."
(Well, as plans go, that one certainly did suck.)
To be continued...
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