|Doctor Who Internet Adventure #24 - "Remiel"
"The Eternal Soul Takes It on the Chin"
by Tyler Dion
"If I can discover what was done to Mavis and extract the foreign bio-data from her, I can do the same for your friend who jumped out of that window because he a suicidee grafted onto him."
"He's dead!" she snaps, advancing on him, hands balled into fists. "The person they put in his head killed him."
"Being dead isn't all it's cracked up to be," the Doctor smiles gently. "I should know, I've died often enough. But I've got friends working on that now, people I trust with my lives. Will you trust me with yours and your partner's?"
There's a long and terrible silence between them until she finally answers. "Yes. But if you've lied, about any of this, I swear to God you'll wish Purity had left you on that cross."
"I can live with that," he answers, opening the doors.
* * *
The Doctor and Ruth paused outside the TARDIS.
"Not exactly the decor you would expect to find in a sanctum sanctorum," he commented. A grey concrete box of a room, high-ceilinged and lit by buzzing fluorescents. The room was bare, except for a few cardboard boxes and a low dais in the centre of the room. It seemed the top of the dais was stained with something brown.
"Still," the Doctor continued as he strode towards the centre, "it has what we want." He picked something up off the dais. The fluorescents glinted off it. As Ruth came closer, she noticed how sallow and tired the Doctor's face appeared in this lighting.
"What is it?" asked Ruth.
"It's a biodata extractor," replied the Doctor. He turned suddenly and brandished a knife at Ruth. She tensed and almost jumped back, but didn't when she saw he was merely holding what she now realized to be the extractor up for her inspection.
It looked like any hunting knife. Serrated teeth on one side of the blade and a sharp edge of the other. The flat of the blade was covered in etchings too fine and detailed for Ruth to make out. They seemed to form channels leading in strange patterns from the tip of the blade to the hilt, where-- Ruth gasped. Five rivulets of blood were trailing from the Doctor's hand, where his fingers wrapped around the grip.
"Yes," the Doctor said through gritted teeth, "that's the problem with this sort of thing: it demands a little of yourself as well." With an apparent effort he pulled his fingers off the handle and dropped the biodata extractor. He quickly wound a handkerchief around his palm to stop the free flow of blood, and dexterously knotted it off with his other hand.
Peering down, Ruth could see five little mechanical mouths on the hilt, mindlessly opening and closing, hoping to catch something in their maws. She stared for a moment, captivated. It seemed as if the thing had been built for eating, not cutting. Even the blade appeared... hungry, somehow. But meant to eat what? Blood? Biodata? She tore her gaze from the extractor and focused back on the Doctor, who was rummaging one-handed through the boxes.
"--help me, why don't you?" he was saying. Ruth hurried over and was pawing through a box of undoubtedly equally alien and horrific odds and ends before she knew what was going on. She shook her head and stopped.
"Is that it?" she asked. "One little knife? What about all the equipment I've seen in the operating room during the procedure?"
The Doctor grunted in the affirmative. "Everything you saw in the operating room was the 22nd century equivalent of this particular extractor. These people may be foolish enough to go around giving away nasty ideas like retro-grafting to anyone, but they're hardly going to give them direct access to the technology, now are they? Not even the Faction's that stupid." He paused and shoved a bag towards Ruth. "Hold this. But what I don't understand is what they hope to gain here. Unless this entire situation was prepared to push Luke into creating paradox..."
"Hardly," said a new voice. "More like... plausible deniability. Make it look like it's the Faction's work, and we're in the clear."
The Doctor and Ruth whirled simultaneously. Standing in the only doorway was a woman. She had straight brown hair, cut short, and wore a simple grey dress.
"You!" the Doctor said, dropping the doodads in his hands in surprise."You-- Wait, I don't recognize you."
The woman sighed. "That was the point of putting me in charge, you silly git. Now gently put my biodata equipment down and step away from it." She waggled the staser in her left hand.
As Ruth slowly bent to set down the bag, the Doctor rammed his knee into her elbow. Thrown off balance, she staggered and the bag fell to the ground. Whatever was inside broke, loudly and thoroughly. The woman in grey, equally startled, let the staser drop to her side. Quicker than he had any right to move, the Doctor crossed between himself and the woman. Knocking the staser from her hand, he swept his foot behind her legs and she dropped onto her back, coughing as the air was forced from her lungs with the impact. Just as swiftly, the Doctor straddled the woman's chest and pressed the fingers of his injured hand into a spot above and between her breasts.
Ruth, taken aback, just stared while all this happened.
"Now," he said mildly, "because of you and your retro-graft technology, one of my friends has died and been put into someone else's body, while another one almost destroyed the universe trying to save her. And then I almost destroyed the universe trying to save it from destruction. Now all I've got to do is save 30-odd people from having their collective brains blown out." He paused. "I feel as if I've forgotten something important. Well, it'll come to me.
"In the meantime, you're going to tell me all about 'them,' why you're trying to resurrect Ryan Purity, and what the real purpose of the Azrael Institute is."
"Not likely," she retorted. "You think we haven't been trained to resist your techniques."
"I'm sure you have," the Doctor assured her. "That, and because I am running out of time before Mavis sleeps off the effects of the staser and Ryan comes out, you're going to tell me straight away. Or I will take advantage of that vulnerable cluster of nerves we all have right here."
He dug his fingers ever so slightly into the woman's chest. She inhaled sharply, trying to remain stoic. The effort only lasted a moment before the Doctor pressed harder. She cried out before saying, "Fine, fine!"
* * *
In the waiting room of the Capadoceous Prime cloning facility — "Done in under an hour or we'll take your double back" — Luke and Zeke-Kirena sat and idled the time as multiple credit checks were performed by the tripartite receptionist, whose three selves were manning an equal number of terminals in concert. The muzak du jour seemed to be the product of some unholy union between James Taylor and Less Than Jake.
"Kirena," Luke said, "remember that friend of the Doctor's we met at Jadi and Angela's wedding? The old German?"
Shi put down the magazine she hadn't really been reading. "Yes. What about him?" shi asked flatly, hir tone clearly announcing shi already knew where this was going.
"The Doctor said he had been 'remembered,'" Luke continued, blissfully unaware of Kirena's mood. "That he had died, and a near-perfect copy created. And the old man told me that sometimes he felt sad for his other self, the one who had died. Is that--"
"Is that what?" Zeke-Kirena snapped. "What happened to me? Do you want to know if it's occurred to me yet? That I'm not that Kirena, just a new entity with all her memories that responds to the name who's riding around in a stranger's body? Well, yes, as a matter of fact, it has, Luke. And there's nothing I can do about it."
"...Oh," Luke said, lamely. "I was just wondering."
The receptionist — the part that dealt with the customers, a blue tripedal being — rang the bell. "Mr. Barnes?" it said. "The director is ready to see you now."
* * *
"This is twice you've failed the Objection, Mr Holmes," said Holy Joe. "First the minister, then the witness. We're beginning to doubt your devotion to the cause."
Holmes leapt out of his sagging armchair and began to pace frantically. "Look, I've had it. I want out," he said. "I thought I could do this. I thought we were right, and the Institute was wrong. Look what they did to Mavis! She's why I was doing all this. I wanted... wanted..."
"Vengeance," Holy Joe said quietly. "You wanted to make the unbelievers pay for their heresy against God and what they did to poor young Mavis." He stood up suddenly and grabbed Holmes by the shoulders. "Look. Look at me, Hiroshi!" he said harshly. "Do not give in to cowardice." Josiah shook the young man.
Reluctantly, he raised his eyes to meet Joe's. Hiroshi was astonished by what he saw there. Something cold and hard. It was burning faith, or even anger. It was something and implacable, determined to follow the course whatever the cost. To have such resolve... Holmes thought.
"You still can, Hiroshi," Holy Joe said, his tone moderate now. "This is what you must do..."
* * *
There is something coming. What it is remains unclear. It is like a storm front that overshadows all others, too large to be seen clearly. We can only glimpse small portions of the whole. Some of our number believe it is a brewing conflict, one that will touch a hundred million worlds. And ours will be the epicentre of the onslaught.
Others contend it is something far deadlier, and far more personal. Rather than just another Dalek or Cyber campaign against the cosmos, they say it will be our battle alone. And our people will lose, so completely and utterly that they will never have existed.
We cannot allow that to happen. While we determined that we cannot save our home, it is possible to save ourselves. We shall hide. Not among the peoples of the universe, but inside them. Through retro-grafting, we shall become their memories, and as memes spread across space. We shall not die in the conflict and eventually be forgotten. We will live on and become immortal.
* * *
"That's silly," the Doctor said flatly. "It wouldn't be you at all, just a copy of you. She would remember life as you, the transition from death to awakening in some poor person's body, but you, the you this moment would have died."
She grinned. "Close enough, Doctor. Some part of us must live on. We're already close to completion. And once we have, our agent in the field will ensure no trace remains of our activities."
* * *
The automobile, an elderly model that was missing a bumper and seemed to have escaped enforcement of the clean air laws, pulled to a stop alongside the curb in front of franchise eatery. A young man got out of the passenger side seat. He reached back in to pull out a rucksack. Leaning down, he appeared to be listening to the driver. A moment later, the car pulled back into traffic and disappeared around the next right. The young man hefted the rucksack onto his shoulder and navigated his way across the street to the Azrael Institute.
* * *
"But what about Purity? Why resurrect him?" the Doctor persisted in his questioning.
"I can tell you why."
All three froze, the Doctor, the woman in grey, and Ruth, who had been listening in half-disbelief, half-horror.
The Doctor twisted around to see Mavis stepping out of the TARDIS. "No," he breathed. "The staser didn't have enough charge to knock her out for the full hour."
"Indeed, Doctor," said Mavis. "In fact, being stunned unconscious helped me wrest control from her. I don't know how you knew I was inside this woman, but that doesn't matter. You killed me once. Now let's see if you can do it again."
"Ruth, grab the staser," the Doctor shouted. "I can't let her go. You're going to have to stun Mavis. Ruth!"
Shocked out of her immobility, she scooped up the strange gun that seemed more like a cheap toy than an actual weapon and pivoted to face Mavis-Ryan. She sighted along the barrel, aiming at Mavis-Ryan's chest. Apprehending a suspect. This was something Detective 1st Class Ruth Armstrong was familiar with. She could do this.
"Stop or I'll shoot," commanded Ruth. Mavis-Ryan continued walking steadily towards the Doctor, who was preoccupied with trying to keep the woman in grey pinned down.
"I said stop!" hollered Ruth.
"Ruth, just shoot him!" the Doctor called. "If you don't stop him, it'll engender paradox all over again!"
To be concluded...
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