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Doctor Who Internet Adventure #14 - "Endless Night"


Chapter 8
"A funny thing happened on the way to the TARDIS"
by Rebecca Dowgiert


---


"It's just around this corner," Grace said, leaning forward in the hovercar and pointing.


       "Really? That's great." Sophie turned to look at Grace where she sat behind her.


       Then she shot her.


       Nuhral's head swiveled around, eyes wider than usual, if that were possible, to see that the dark-haired Elionan was again pointing the stunner at him.


       "Stop the car," Sophie told him. Gulping, he obeyed. "Why did you do that?" he asked. "Why did you sh--"


       Sophie smiled widely, enjoying the way the Paracastrian drew back a bit, unnerved by her larger human teeth. "She was trying to escape." Even as he frowned, and started to mumble, "But then why bo--?" she shot him, too.


       "Yt, you flit," Sophie muttered in disgust as she reached across to open the opposite door, rolling Nuhral's stunned form out of the car, "you better not be setting me up."


* * *


"Yt," the Doctor said, leaning forward in his chair. "This is all very interesting, but I have to wonder: Why are you telling us this?"


       The Paracastrian Liaison smiled thinly. "Why does anyone tell their antagonist their plans?"


       The Doctor smiled back, as Jadi frowned.


       "Now I have to kill you."


       The Doctor sat, alert but still calm. Jadi tensed, about to throw himself into action.


       Yt turned away, regarding the abstract native wall mural behind his desk as if seeking inspiration. "In fact, I'll have to kill you two just as soon as I turn around again..."


       When he turned to look, the room behind him was empty. He sighed heavily, composed himself, then began to broadcast. [Attention! The alien known as the Doctor has escaped, along with his accomplice.] He paused, sensing the acknowledgment, then added:


       [Both are extremely dangerous — do not make contact. Shoot on sight.]


* * *


Harsferd's guards hesitated.


       "I said to kill him!" Gerund snarled. "You don't actually believe this, this ragamuffin?!"


       Wil glanced up at Harsferd, his expression grim, even as he was trembling inside. If he was going to die here, after all his running, at least he wouldn't beg or grovel--


       "I mean, 'lost heir'! That's the oldest cliché in the book!"


       "That doesn't make it untrue," Wil said, his voice carrying clearly in the astonished silence. Harsferd sent a hate-filled look his way, quivering as if he'd have surged to his feet and clouted him, if he could move that quickly.


       Nothing to lose now; might as well let it all out. Wil glanced around, briefly catching the eyes of the remaining few landowners. "It's true. You all know it - you've heard the rumours."


       One of the gentry called out, "So have you, whoever you are! So has everyone! You'll have to do better than that!"


       Wil took a deep breath. "I can. DNA testing."


       A murmur rose up in the court. On the dais, Gerund, eyes narrowed in rage, heaved himself to his feet. "Dammit, do I have to do everything myself?! Give me that!" He snatched the ceremonial but still sharp sword from the nearest guard.


       "No, wait." The nobleman nearest Wil held up a hand, as he stared at the former jester. "The former king and queen left DNA samples?"


       Wil gulped internally. Here was where his bluff really started to thin out. "Of course. Everyone who disembarked here had to have done — it's in the official histories."


       Or so he had read. He hadn't actually seen the samples, but they should theoretically be around, somewhere, perhaps encoded into a data-crystal...


       "Compare mine to theirs, and you'll see a close match."


       More murmurs. It would be a blood-claim that none could deny.


       Gerund's eyes narrowed. The gentry were intrigued enough to start listening to Young — it was time to act. But then, he'd always been good at knowing when to take action. Gerund strode down the steps, raising the sword.


* * *


Shadowmaker-00 strode the halls of SID1, her presence ignored by the Paracastrians who were going about their tasks, except when they moved out of her way in order to avoid being trod upon.


       The Shadowmaker did not step aside for anybody. They accepted that without comment, as they'd accepted the dark stain that had crept irresistibly over their minds when the Nemesis had been freed.


       Many, especially those actively searching for the Doctor and Morok, spared a few thoughts for the Time Lord's bemusement upon hearing that the true nature of the Nemesis was unknown. Yt had offered him several possibilities.


       Not quite true, but the best translation they'd been able to supply. The Nemesis's nature was in the name. What more was there to know of it? It would drive them to whatever lengths it took to spread itself across the universe.


       Perhaps when all had been infiltrated it would stop.


       Or perhaps it would break through to the next universe and begin again, down the chain of creation.


* * *


"Wake up."


       Grace murmured uneasily, her head lolling to the side.


       "Wake up!"


       Something lightly slapped her cheeks. "Wake up wake up wake up!!"


       Grace's eyes fluttered. She blinked, her eyes slowly opening to see a blurred shape crouched in front of her, its hair jet black with violet at the ends.


       "Wha...?" she slurred. Then she remembered — not who she was, but what had happened most recently.


       "You shot me!"


       Sophie stared back at her without apology. "It was the fastest way to get you here."


       Grace glanced around, groggily. It looked like a dim, shuttered bedroom in an average Oryxan home: the simple bed she was on, a rush matting on the floor, the Ytlon-stand in the corner, the tome open to a relevant passage. "Where's here?"


       "Somewhere in the city. We should be safe here - it's curfew now."


       Grace looked up at the Elionan and went to sit up, but was jerked to a halt by the handcuff connecting her left wrist to the bed frame.


       She jangled the restraint. "And what's this*?" she snapped.


       "A precaution. I don't trust you."


       Grace gave her a wordless look of accusation.


       "I didn't like the way you were babbling. You've been in there a long time. Nothing personal." Sophie got to her feet and stretched, yawning as she did so. "So the Doctor's here again, huh?"


       Grace stared back at her blankly.


       "Come on! The Doctor! You said you used to travel with him!" Purple flared up the journalist's hair from the bottom.


       "I don't remember," Grace said flatly. "I don't remember anything." She pulled at the cuff, then sat back.


       "Well, you'd better start remembering - this planet is going to hell in a handbasket -- again!"


       Grace bent forward, her grown-out shoulder-length hair swinging forward over her face. "Go away."


       Sophie leaned forward. "Not until you tell me what they did to you in there."


       "I don't remember."


       "Yeah...Funny how you suddenly 'don't remember." Sophie's voice turned hard. "You make a deal with them?"


       "No!" Grace put her free hand to her head. "They did something to me. Then they turned it all off." Her head swivelled around to stare at Sophie. "I could ask you the same thing."


       "Implants." Sophie scratched absently at the back of her neck. "No, they left me alone. I'd know if those flits had done anything to me..."


       Behind them, the door to the room creaked open a crack. Sophie immediately strode over to the door and pulled it open. Grace blinked at the influx of light. A paracastrian woman stood in the doorway.


       "Some escape," Grace mumbled, her mind too numb to really feel anger. "You sold me back to them?" She looked up without recognition as the native approached the bedside. A pale face, wide violet eyes and swinging brown hair.


       Sophie stood a little behind the newcomer, hands on hips. "Don't remember her, huh? This is Kali-Essen. You know, the 'Chosen', the one who was supposed to carry the Glyph?"


       Grace stared, eyes narrowed. "I..." she said, "remember a little about something happening when I first came here... Some state of emergency..." She looked away, resigned. "Still, she's one of them."


       "No."


       Grace glanced at Kali-Essen again.


       "I am no longer Kali. Just Essen. My people do not... 'hear' me. And they do not 'see' you through me."


       Essen moved away to the Ytlon. She stood over it, turning several leaves of Krujn reed paper, their movement marked with a dry crinkling.


       "What happened to you? Why are you not 'Kali' any more?"


       The native turned back. "It was my choice to resist... my experience as Chosen that allowed me to leave the Mind."


       Grace's head slumped forward again. Essen came back to the bed and knelt down next to it, putting herself on eye-level with Grace. "Stefre Holloway."


       Grace looked up, and the native reached forward and laid a palm on her forehead, then closed her eyes, concentrating.


       "The Nemesis has been in you," she said. "But its way in is blocked, for the moment." She removed her hand, her pale face troubled. "You're still in great danger."


       "That's why I need to get back to the TARDIS — We'll be safe, there. That's all I know."


       Sophie and Essen looked at each other, uncertain.


* * *


"What the hell was that all about?!"


       Jadi was fretting. The Doctor glanced aside as they trotted down an empty corridor. The bounty hunter's right hand flexed uselessly, reaching for a blaster that was no longer there.


       "You depend on that too much."


       "What?"


       The Doctor nodded at the empty holster.


       Jadi's eyes narrowed. "I'm a bounty hunter! What do you expect me to do — hypnotize them all?"


       The Doctor considered, gaze thoughtful, hand on chin, and Jadi realized with annoyance that the Time Lord had totally missed the barb.


       "If you... were to save it only for the direst emergencies," the Doctor said then, softly, turning a blue gaze on his companion, "there are many uses for mesmerism."


       Jadi stared back mulishly. So he had 'gotten' it... Both Angela and he had felt the pushing and prodding of the Doctor's will, though only during times of great peril. That didn't make it any easier to forgive him.


       The next instant, the Doctor grabbed the bounty hunter's arm with one hand, and motioned ahead with the other.


       They stopped and waited. Several unseen somebodies passing by at an intersection just ahead, by the sound of it. When the sound had died away, the Doctor leaned forward to peek.


       "All clear — let's go. We've got to find Grace and prevent her from linking with the TARDIS, as well as find out exactly what this 'Nemesis' is."


* * *


As sunrise broke over Oryx, sunlight piercing the morning fog, the human residents were surprised by the simple, continuously-repeated announcement on the radio that the curfew had been lifted.


       Immediately, pundits began to discuss the possible reasons; the Para-Net bulletin boards were soon swamped. The local news crews wasted no time in scrambling and heading gleefully out into the clean morning streets.


       And as the announcement went out, the Shadowmaker-00 and her escort left SID1.


---
To be continued...



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