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Doctor Who Internet Adventure #22 - "Clockwork Orange"


Chapter 10
"Going Down"
by Gregg Smith (with contributions from Alan Taylor)


---


Book Two


"I don't like the sound of this Maxim chap at all," concluded the Doctor as he buttoned his fly. "Mind you, he may just be the best of a bad lot. Sounds like we've landed up to our eyeballs in conspiracy, Luke. Have you ever seen 'The X Files'?"


       John was helping Luke back in to his heels.


       "No," he said. "I've heard of it though. I don't think it ever made it to Venus, even in syndication."


       "Oh." The Doctor seemed disappointed. "What about James Bond? You must have seen the James Bond films. Evil Mad Scientists in underground lairs?"


       Luke shrugged.


       "Carry On Spying?"


       Luke laughed softly. "Just tell me the plan, Doctor."


       "I want to take a look at this Adler chap, and then I'll find Kirena." The Doctor pulled at the uniform he was wearing. Though it had fit Luke perfectly, it seemed a little baggy on the Time Lord.


       "She should be in Maxim's office. Two levels up."


       "Right. And then down to whatever lies at the heart of this place. From your description, there's something quite alien here."


       "You think," said John.


       "Yes," said the Doctor earnestly.


       "But why are eyes so important?" said Luke.


       "Eyes connect with several very important parts of the brain, terminating in the visual cortex at the back." He circled his hands around the base of his skull and waved the up and back down again. "You could call them the gateways to the soul. One could drill through the skull, but that would be like trying to knock down a wall - the eyes are the front door, the easiest way in. I imagine whatever sort of technology is involved it requires access to the human brain. I can imagine the reasons for that, but don't want to speculate too much. The people here must have no idea what they're playing with."


       "So, this alien technology is consuming brains?"


       "Well, doing something with certain areas of the brain. Of course, different humans, and different aliens, have different capacities of visual memory and perceptual rationing. The Australian aboriginals have up to twenty-five percent more volume in their visual cortex than Europeans, and a much more highly developed visual memory. My people, the Time Lords, have a very limited visual cortex..."


       "Yes, they often can't see what's right in front of them," Luke deadpanned.


       "And I'm guessing the accumulation of terribly useful information can't leave much room for a visual cortex," added John, jabbing Luke lightly with his elbow.


       "The Alapax only have one sense," the Doctor continued unabashed. "Sight. So, the visual cortex accounts for ninety percent of their brains."


       "Could this be Ala... Alaxa... Alpaxan?" John shrugged, looking from Luke to the Doctor. Luke grinned at him in a 'welcome to the club' kind of way.


       "Oh, I doubt it's Alapaxian," said the Doctor. "They haven't evolved beyond the early industrial stage at this point in time. Besides, I don't think the size of the visual cortex is actually connected with the purpose of this technology. I don't think it's feeding off people's brains — that would be most easily accomplished by removing a section of the skull. It's much more subtle than that." He patted the pockets of the uniform absently, knotting his brow. Then he nodded his head lightly. "Right, I'm going." He met Luke's eyes. "I want you to lock the door after me."


       "Of course."


       "And if I'm not back in an hour, get out of here."


       "Of course."


       "Luke," the Doctor said sternly.


       "I'm hardly going to run away and leave you, no matter what the circumstance, so there's no point trying to convince me otherwise."


       "Very well. If I'm not back in an hour, come and get me."


       "Of course."


       "You two will look after each other?"


       "I'm sure we can manage that," said Luke. "We'll find something to keep us occupied."


       "If Kirena comes back, make sure she waits here with you." The Doctor checked the coast was clear and slipped the door. Luke closed and locked it after him.


       He and John sat in silence and near-darkness for a while, occasionally exchanging smiles and nods of reassurance. Finally, John broke the silence.


       "So, you really are from Venus?"


       "Yes."


       "You're not human?"


       "It's been suggested," Luke grinned. Then shook his head sharply, noticing John's frown. "No, I am human. I'm... I come from the future. From a time when Earth has colonised other planets and solar systems. I was born on Earth, but was living on Venus when I met the Doctor."


       "Humans can travel through space and time?"


       "Mostly space."


       "Really?"


       "Yes."


       "So, it's all true? All those books and films and TV shows about going to the moon."


       "TV never really gets it right. But we do go into space. And there are aliens, and federations, and lasers and rockets."


       John was frowning very deeply, so Luke stopped talking.


       "Go on, then."


       "What?"


       "Come on, spaceboy. Tell me what the future's really like."


       "Well, where do you want me to start?"


       "Do things get better?"


       "Great, an easy question. Some things do. Other things get worse. People are more free, live longer, but... actually, now that I think about it, compared to 1950s America everything does indeed get better. But life goes up and down. Britain is in a bad state at the moment, but in a few years time it will enter something of a golden age. That will last till the 1980s, when the Dark Blue Ages kick in. Things get better again a couple of decades after that, and then worse again when the private sector regains its global foothold and everything goes down the toilet again.


       "In 200 years' time, the Earth will be invaded. Millions will die, billions more will be enslaved. That's after my time, but I gather that once the invaders have been driven off, the world gets its act together properly and a world government is set up along Marxist ideals. Everyone on Earth lives happily and comfortably, free from tyranny, oppression, greed, discrimination. All needs are taken care of, and almost all wants. Every- thing works. Until that gets fucked-up by government concessions to the military in the twenty-sixth century. And then again, those 300 years of paradise are at the expense of Earth not interfering in the affairs of the powerful corporations that dominate human colonies - worlds gripped by suffering.


       "The ideal of spreading Earth's mutually beneficial set-up is sacrificed in the name of not being invaded and destroyed by private enterprise, and I imagine that haunts many people for a long time. It's never going to be a perfect world, or a perfect universe. There will be regular, heart-breaking and deadly setbacks, both from outside forces and from our own descendants. But there is a general evolution towards perfection. And, eventually, there will be so many colonies and new worlds that one of them is bound to get it right. When everything is totalled up, humanity gets better as it gets older."


       Luke stopped talking again, and John sat quietly for a few moments. Then he grinned.


       "You've been waiting to get that out for a long time, haven't you?"


       "Guess so. It's... it's not easy..." he trailed off.


       "It's not easy knowing the future and not being able to tell anyone. Knowing something that you want to shout from the rooftops, but that you have to keep secret."


       "You know what that's like, don't you? I've never really thought about it before. I mean, during my travels with the Doctor. What it must be like living in the past, living in a time as barbaric and backward as this one."


       "Better watch it, or I'll cut off your head and use your blood to paint on the walls of my cave."


       "You know what I mean. It's just... you always know that life used to be different, but it's sometimes hard to believe that it really was that different. Hard to understand how people in the past could have really thought a certain way, done certain things when those things seem ludicrous now. No doubt people in my future would think the same of my time. I'm even starting to after some of the things I've seen — and I was always painfully aware of the shortcomings of the world I lived in, of how much hadn't changed and was still miring humanity."


       "Would I like it?"


       "What?"


       "The future. Space. Venus."


       "Some of it. I guess you'd be happier in certain periods. More..." he trailed off again.


       "More myself?"


       "Erm. I think we might be..."


       "Skirting certain issues?"


       "Well, yes. OK. In a couple of decades time, homosexuality will be significantly more acceptable to the vast majority of people in the Western world. There will still be prejudice and discrimination, the odd witch hunt and moral crusade. But life won't be as dreadful as it is now. Would you be happier living then?"


       "I'd say so."


       Luke smiled. "Good."


       "So, is everybody equal in your time?"


       "No. Things have shifted about a bit, though. There's still poverty and racial discrimination - but some of the tables have been turned. There was a growing sect of fundamentalist Christians in my day, campaigning for the extermination of all gays, but they were widely dismissed as an in- bred, brain-dead joke. When I was born, Britain had just re-elected its second lesbian Prime Minister, and several Presidents of Earth have been gay." He grinned. "Homosexuality is almost compulsory in the American senate after the reformation of 2030."


       "What?"


       "Oh, America has a second civil war twenty-five years or so into the next century. Eventually, the right-wing militias manage to seize control of the federal government. When they start trying to massacre certain sections of the community, foreign powers intervene, swiftly and secretly removing the backbone of the coup before the nuclear deterrent can be used. It all gets sorted out in the end, and Britain gives America its independence again in 2030."


       "You have to be kidding me."


       Luke started to shake his head, then grinned. "Might be. You'll never know for sure, though."


       John laughed quietly. And Luke thought that it might just be the best laugh he had ever heard.


* * *


Peret was talking with two soldiers when Horowitz arrived. The two soldiers saluted and replaced Horowitz in the lift. Peret smiled warmly as the scientist joined him in the corridor.


       "I have been looking for you."


       "I was interrogating the prisoner. Cray is with her now."


       "Mmm. Any progress with the woman?"


       "Kirena Morok." They began to walk along the corridor, Horowitz taking the lead tacitly, Peret's stick tapping in time with their progress.


       "Curious name."


       "Yes. She seems to have specialist knowledge of unusual matters."


       "Really? A spy?"


       "I don't think so. Interloper is probably a better word. She doesn't seem to have known Maxim before - she said that their paths crossed and they found they had something in common. And she doesn't seem to be affiliated with any foreign groups, though her accent is a little hard to place. Could be Chicago, could be Eastern Europe. Perhaps a second generation immigrant — that might explain the name, too."


       They turned the corner and went through the double doors towards the infirmary and wards for used and future subjects, where Peret had first expressed such an interest in the project. They passed another soldier coming the other way, his uniform dishevelled and his helmet jammed onto his head, the brim protruding over the bridge of his aquiline nose. He saluted poorly and hurried away.


       "I shall have to speak to Cray about that. Very tardy," said Horowitz.


       "I do hope your military staff have not been taking advantage of the subjects. Particularly not the dead ones. That would be completely inappropriate."


       "I hope not. But you know what soldiers are."


       "Quite. The, ah, interloper — do you think she was alone?"


       "I'm not sure. She claimed she was always alone, though I think that might have been more philosophical rather than anything else. She did mention someone, a Doctor. No, no that's not quite right. She was most insistent that he was 'the' Doctor. Apart from that, she wasn't particularly forthcoming. Quite resilient, actually."


       Peret had stopped walking and was staring at Horowitz. His knuckles were turning white around the handle of his black walking stick.


       "The Doctor? The Doctor?"


       "That's what she said."


       "I should have known. I should have known! You must sound the alert immediately, have the men search every inch of this facility, top to bottom."


       "Monsieur Peret, what...?"


       "I have encountered this Doctor before. He is a most dangerous individual. He will destroy all of your work here if we do not catch him."


       "But monsieur, how can you be sure it's the same person?"


       "Believe me, I am certain. He has a habit of finding his way to paces like this, of involving himself in the legitimate confidential affairs of others. Our paths have crossed several times over the years, and the encounters have always ended in disaster."


       "Well, what does he look like?"


       "He... well, it's a little difficult to explain. He has... He is a master of disguise, able to mask and change even the most intrinsic of features. He is best recognised by his egotism and pestering. He will probably make straight for the heart of the operation, and attempt to throw, how you say, a screw in the works?"


       "Well, all the sensitive areas are heavily guarded. Cray himself will be at the ship soon, so that should be safe."


       "I thought you said Cray was with the Doctor's woman?"


       "He is. I sent them down to the ship. I wanted to get her opinion."


       "That was most unwise. Especially if she is working for the Doctor. Bring her back up immediately."


       Horowitz narrowed his eyes. "Yes, perhaps you're right."


       "I will accompany you. I have not seen the ship yet, and would like to inspect it."


       "The ship?"


       "Yes."


       "Monsieur, I... Of course. I expected you would. Cray tells me you already have some personal agents stationed here."


       Peret was silent for a moment.


       "I thought it was prudent, professor. That isn't a problem for you, is it?"


       "I quite understand."


       "I merely wish to ensure that everything goes smoothly and efficiently, and according to plan."


       "According to plan, yes. That's where we might have a little problem."


       "Professor?"


       "You see... ah, Krebs, there you are."


       Peret turned and found Krebs framed in a rectangle of muted orange, standing in a doorway two metres down the corridor. He immediately stiffened, uncomfortable in the German's presence. And then he noticed where they were.


       "This is where you keep the unfortunate Adler, is it not?"


       "Indeed." Horowitz took Peret lightly by the arm and steered him down the corridor towards Krebs. "Krebs, I was just explaining to monsieur Peret here that we may have a little problem. You see, monsieur," he spoke into Peret's ear. "My plan is a little bit more detailed than previous reports may have indicated."


       "But, professor, your reports were most clear. When you suggested continuing Adler's studies..."


       "I had, I must confess, something of an ulterior motive. When we captured Adler after his little jaunt into LA... you know, I can't believe that was almost a decade ago now. Anyway, it was at that time that I realised what the Hydra really was. He must have known, too, though he hadn't told me. Hydra is much more than just another piece of alien technology for us to tear apart and use to our own devices. It's a machine of the gods."


       "Machine of the... Professor, what is the meaning of this?"


       "The meaning is simple. I needed funding to continue my research, to find out all I could. But I think I am almost ready. And I'm not going to let you spoil my plans now. CLOCKWORK is not for you, or your pathetic ideals. This planet is a sewer, and all the wretched vermin that live on it can rot in their own filth for all I care. There are no secrets here for the salvation of humanity, no great cures, no weapons that will guarantee peace for all mankind. There is just my manifest destiny, my escape from the chains of this grey little world. I understand Adler. I know what he sees. And I will see it myself. Only I'm going the whole way."


       "You're insane."


       "On the contrary, I am the most sane man you have ever met. I alone know what CLOCKWORK can show us. I alone am ready to see it."


       "But all the research, everything you have discovered..."


       "Has merely helped me to fathom the workings of this great engine. It is not the secrets inside the ship that matter, not the technology or the science. You seek to make man live longer, happier lives, to spread this weak and feeble race all around the Earth, and even beyond it. That is not evolution, it is stagnation. I will go beyond this worthless shell. I will see what lies all around us but is hidden from view. I will see the truth of the universe." He slammed Peret against the wall and screamed in his face.


       "And I'm not going to let you stop me!"


       "But you are a man of medicine, a famous surgeon." Peret tried to bring his cane round and hit Horowitz, but his shoulders were gripped too tightly.


       "The promise of the Hydra was part of my life long before anything else that even remotely matters. I made a career pampering to the weaknesses of the human body, the self-deceptions of the human mind. I have enjoyed what they call 'the good life', a life away from the grotesque mediocrity of most people. And all I had to suffer was the deluded mutual adoration of self-important morons who think they rule this cadaverous country, of facile starlets and ignorant businessmen clinging to some ghost of glory and power. This life is a trifle, a distraction from the great reality I shall experience. Is he ready, Krebs?"


       "Yes," said the German around a slim grin.


       Horowitz pulled Peret in front of the breach of the door, swinging him round. He struggled in the younger man's grip, and then he looked into the room. In a metal chair in the middle of the room sat Adler, his head shaved, his blue overalls clean and pressed - they were changed daily. His arms were on the armrests, fingers digging into the metal on either end - he had torn out his fingernails long ago. And his eyes, of course, were hollow red sockets ringed by pale, scarred flaps of skin. Just as Peret had seen him before.


       Except that, now, Adler was completely silent, and a light frown had replaced the priapic contusions that had so marked his face before. And then Peret noticed Adler's arms flexing. The heavy metal restraints on his wrists were hanging loose, as were the ones that had held his ankles. And, as Peret watched, Adler pulled the intravenous drip out of his arm and pushed himself to his feet. He hadn't walked in almost ten years, and though his limbs had seemingly not withered he was unused to putting his weight on them. He pushed with all his might, smiling simply as his legs straightened with a click and a crunch. Then he stumbled back into his chair, frowning and grunting with frustration.


       "Out of the way Krebs. Let's get this over with."


       Peret swung his stick round and caught Krebs across the left temple. The German staggered against the doorframe and crumpled to his knees. Peret weighed the stick back to the floor, leaning on it and clutching at his chest.


       Adler struggled to his feet again, clutching the sides of his chair for balance. He pushed himself forward and staggered a few steps, stretching his arms out as if walking a tightrope.


       "It's all a matter of balance," said Adler deeply. "Delicate balance." His head was lolled to one side, his hands raised, the fingers flexing and twisting and gripping themselves. Once he was steady on his feet, he crossed quickly to the door, muttering to himself: "Aristotle wishy washy works outing cyclamen get forficulate smartish."


       Peret was transfixed by the newly animated form of Nathan Adler. But Adler's swift approach roused him and he turned away from Krebs to make good his escape. Then he felt Horowitz's hands slam into his back, and then he was staggering forward, tumbling in Adler's outstretched arms. He struggled in the monster's embrace, his heart pounding and his lungs burning for oxygen. The momentum of Horowitz's shove carried them both further into the room Adler giving ground as he hands closed around the old man's back.


       "Let me go. Let me go!" Peret's walking stick slipped through his fingers as he wheezed and strained against Adler's grip. He could hear Krebs, giggling faintly in the background, and then a metallic grind as Horowitz closed the door. A thicker metal gate slammed down from the top of the door, ensuring Adler would not break through and completely trapping Peret.


       Peret's eyes flashed around the room as he struggled in Adler's arms. He could smell soap and disinfectant on Adler, and even in the orange half- light he could see perfectly each little, aged scar in and around the eye sockets. The sudden clarity of his senses frightened the old man. After all these years, after everything he had seen and done, was this how it would end? How could he have misread the situation so fatally? He was too old for this. Altogether too old.


* * *


John was attractive. Muscular, yet small and lithe enough to be Luke's type. And he had the cutest nose.


       You had to admire the way he was dealing with all of this. He was cute, and strong, and intelligent - acutely self-ware. Politically idealistic, but pleasantly cynical. Despite one-hundred and fifty years and a world of social difference, he and Luke had a lot in common. The shared experience of secrets and escapes, even if for different reasons. Luke told John general half-truths about the future, and John told Luke about the living irony of Hollywood and America, of his home and his dreams.


       Luke was really getting on with him. Liked him. A lot. Even a lot more than he normally liked people — and he was very friendly and sociable by nature. He thought it was mutual. Hoped like hell it was mutual. This was a different feeling. This was new.


       "I hope you don't mind," said John.


       "Don't mind what?" asked Luke.


       "Don't mind if I do this," replied John, taking Luke's hand between his own two hands, squeezing it.


       Before he could stop himself, in the middle of a secret underground complex, surrounded by corpses and in danger of being discovered at any moment, Luke was pushing John against the wall and kissing him across the neck. John didn't hesitate, kissed Luke back, gripped him tightly.


       Luke unbuttoned John's shirt, ran his tongue over John's chest, licked a nipple and chewed it ever so slightly. Sure, maybe there was an enclave of insane military scientists in the next room, obscene experiments underway downstairs. But, despite where he was and what was going on, the only thought in Luke's mind was 'John'. He couldn't help himself. This was what Luke would do in a situation like this, thought Luke. And, though it was so very, very wrong, it was the rightest thing in the world.


       He worked his way back up and kissed John fully, closing his eyes, slipping his tongue through the other man's lips. He fumbled with the buckle on John's belt, but soon had the trousers undone and pushed down over John's thighs. He worked his fingers inside the waistband of John's briefs and pushed them down too. John stiffened as Luke traced the indentation left by the elastic on John's back, round the base of his spine.


* * *


In the corridor outside, Krebs listened intently at Adler's door for any noise of Peret's death. "A waste," he rasped. "I could have studied Adler in action."


       "It is time we progressed to the final phase," said Horowitz blankly. Ten subjects are already under anaesthetic downstairs. Prepare them for full implantation and bring them to the ship."


       "And Adler?"


       "He can't get through that door. He should be catatonic again in two hours or so. Have him fed, cleaned and placed back in his restraints."


       "Where will you be?"


       "With the ship. Oh, watch out for a man calling himself 'the Doctor', no description. He may be dangerous, and he may be here. Let the men know." He started to walk away. "I'm going down."


* * *


Kirena swayed gently, holding Cray's arm and stifling giggles. She was in the lift with the general, and three passing soldiers who had been press- ganged into accompanying him. After three squares of dim light had flashed past the windows in the door, the lift had hummed on in with darkness outside.


       Whatever the ship was, it was buried deep, in the bowels of the mine.


       "They doped you up a little bit too much," said Cray gruffly. "Don't know how Jerry expects to get anything out of you."


       Kirena giggled and stumbled to one side. One of the soldiers caught her, helping her balance. She turned to smile at him, and immediately recognised the Doctor's angular face and concerned frown. She flashed recognition and reassurance, and saw him nodding slightly in recognition. Careful not to let her charade drop, she slumped back against Cray, drooling for effect.


       It was relief to know she wasn't the only outsider going down.


* * *


"I can see clearly again. My mind is like ice."


       Adler started to laugh like a child, pushing and twisting Peret around as if playing blind man's buff. He slapped the old man across the face and hauled him into the metal chair at the centre of the room, locking the restraints in place. His tongue played at the corners of his mouth, licked over his lips, and then he stroked Peret's forehead and began to undo the winged collar and dapper silk tie.


       Luc Peret was breathing hard, swinging his head round, straining against the restraints. He did not scream and he did not beg — he knew neither action would do him any good. He could feel a stream blood trickling from his nose, over his mouth and chin and going down.


* * *


John stiffened as Luke's fingers tingled on his skin, the unfamiliar but welcome hands now moving around his hips and over his buttocks. Luke crooked his knees forward and brushed his crotch against his latest lover.


       The new taste and sweet smell, the raw strangeness of each other's bodies was exciting for both of them. And Luke was feeling something he hadn't felt in a very long time. Feeling close to the person he was with on every level of sense and soul. Luke felt himself straining painfully against his trousers and, still touching John with one hand, unwilling to let him go, he undid his own fly.


       He pulled his head away and both men opened their eyes. They stood in the dark, chests heaving quietly. Then, with a quick grin but no second thought, Luke was going down.


* * *


Adler pushed at the heavy metal barricade that blocked the door, punched and kicked it. It was impossible to breach. He walked slowly back to the centre of room, his progression accompanied by a faint electric hissing that grew louder as he reached the chair. He smiled at Peret's dead face, straddled the corpse as the buzzing reached a crescendo and the air vents on either side of the room tore open.


       "My friends are here. Acolytes of the glorious darkness. Seekers after vision and perfection."


       Metal snakes came through the vents - six writhing, shining, snapping, sizzling tubes steel. They slithered across the floor, dancing around Adler. He reached out and stroked the nearest, tickled it under the chin. Then the snakes rose together and shot down to the floor, twisting. They punched into the aged, stony surface, tearing at iron struts and flaking concrete, digging to the floor below.


       "People spend so much time building up the walls and barricading the doors, never thinking about what's under foot. That's how earthquakes cause such chaos, and floods too. And what this degenerate, grey world needs most of all, is a new flood."


       When the snakes' work was finished, Adler escaped through the hole.


       Going down.


END OF BOOK 2


---
To be continued...



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