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Doctor Who Missing Internet Adventure #18 - "Festivals of Light and Darkness"


Chapter 5
"Daze of Future Past"
by Mark Newman


---


The Doctor hurried on. His speed increasing with his panic. He had been walking for... He had no idea how long he had been walking for or how far he had come. Such mundane concepts of time and distance seemed to no longer hold any meaning. If this was Earth, and the Doctor was seriously beginning to have his doubts, something was very wrong with the fabric of the local space time continuum.


       A disturbing thought suddenly occurred to him. Halting suddenly, the Doctor concentrated searching for that area of his mind that was in constant communion with the TARDIS. The image in his mind was distorted. He had a vague sense of the TARDIS's location, not far from the cafe where he had left Nyssa and Tegan but he had no concept of how to get there. He reached into his pocket for the TARDIS homing device. Once activated, instead of its usual rhythmic chiming, the device let out a series of ill defined squeals.


       "So that's it!" The Doctor said to himself. He realized that there was no point in carrying on walking. The way back to the TARDIS was no longer a question of geography. It was now a question of reality. Or what passed for reality in this distorted spacio-temporal environment.


* * *


Nyssa fell back as the eye surged forward, demolishing what remained of the window. Tegan, who was nearest the door bolted out onto the landing. The eye was between Nyssa and the door. Tegan, realizing that Nyssa had not followed her out of the room as she thought, turned to see what had happened to her. All she could see was the huge feline eye closing in on Nyssa's now prone form as she squeezed herself further and further into the corner of the room in a futile effort to get away from the eye. All she could hear were Nyssa's shrill screams and a low rumbling thundering sound which seemed to emanate from the eye.


       The eye finally completed the distance to Nyssa, the lids closing to engulf her body. Her scream was drowned by the ever growing thunder. Just as Tegan thought that her eardrums would burst, she suddenly felt the cacophony of sound reduce. The eye loosing substance as it began to fade from reality. With a surge of hope Tegan started into the room to rescue Nyssa, but there was no Nyssa. There was now no eye either. Both had vanished as if they never existed.


       The last of the rumbling was swallowed up by a curious, unpleasant sound. Chuckling, Tegan suddenly realized, chuckling that had a familiar ring to it…


* * *


Mrs Gormenghast came dashing up the stairs. Initially her flight had been an indignant one as she saw shards of glass followed by something indescribable destroying her carefully kept lawn. This indignance however quickly progressed through deep concern to near terror as she heard Nyssa's screams and then the rolling thunder. She nearly collided with Tegan who was running in the opposite (and more sensible) direction. "Tegan! Thank God! What's happening?"


       "I don't know! Some eye creature from that came out of that mysterious box has taken Nyssa! I've got to find the Doctor!"


* * *


The Doctor was sitting cross legged in the street. The TARDIS homing device, held in front of his face still squealing intermittently. His eyes were closed, his breathing shallow. falling upon all of his Time Lord resources, using the homing device as a beacon, the Doctor reached out with his mind in search of that specific reality that contained the TARDIS. Reality left the Doctor as all around him, the familiar landmarks of the street started warping, melting, becoming evermore insubstantial. There was not so much a sense of physical movement, more a sense of shifting probabilities as the Doctor moved, in a metaphysical sense, towards the TARDIS. Only the Doctor seemed to be a constant in this journey.


       Slowly the familiar form of what we would call reality began to reassert itself in the form of a cafe on a street corner. Not a hundred yards from the cafe stood a battered old Metropolitan Police Box. Still holding the homing device out in front of him as if in search of an underground stream, the Doctor made his way slowly, eyes closed, towards the TARDIS. As he finally reached the door, he neither slowed his ghostly pace nor appeared to even notice he had arrive as he passed straight through the blue walls of the Police Box exterior.


       Not until he felt the familiar hum of the TARDIS's telepathic blanket surround him totally did the Doctor allow himself to finally open his eyes and let out the breath that he didn't realize that he'd been holding. Moving to the console he began to operate the levers and switches in search of Tegan and Nyssa. Reality was indeed a very mobile concept it seemed.


       The scan took some time and when he finally did come up with a solution, it was only Tegan that he could locate.


* * *


Tegan and Mrs Gormenghast were rounding a bend in the street when Tegan suddenly heard the familiar wheezing and groaning sound of the TARDIS' materialization. They had both left the guest house in search of the Doctor. Tegan halted Mrs Gormenghast, informing her that she had already found the Doctor much to Mrs Gormenghast's confusion.


       The TARDIS finally solidified and the concerned face of the Doctor peered around the door. Tegan ran forward, explanations of Nyssa's apparent demise tumbling from her mouth far faster than she was able to articulate. The Doctor ushered them inside and closed the door.


       The TARDIS dematerialized.


       Inside, Tegan and the Doctor were seated on 2 comfortable chairs in the Console Room. Mrs Gormenghast, although a chair had been arranged for her was standing, her mouth open aghast as she stared round the impossible interior of the TARDIS. The Doctor ignored her astonishment, wishing to concentrate far more on the disturbing details of Tegan's story. The central column of the TARDIS console rose and fell with it's usual quiet hum.


* * *


Nyssa was nowhere, nowhen. One moment that terrible eye had been baring down on her, the next all sense of up, down, left, right, indeed time and reality itself had left her. She was travelling… yes she was fairly convinced that she was moving, through a void. A wind, that had no right to exist was sweeping past her face as she moved at who knew what speed towards a destination of which she could only try to imagine, if, indeed she would ever arrive.


       Her eventual arrival, she felt more than saw. All of a sudden she was standing on a rocky outcrop with a yawning chasm stretched out below her. She hastily turned away to walk down a path that she hadn't realized existed but as moment before. She hoped, prayed that she would meet someone, or something, other than that terrible eye, that could help her to get out of here, wherever here was!


* * *


The Doctor was at a loss. Nowhere in his vast experience had he the slighted inkling of what could have happened to Nyssa. The vastness of the TARDIS databanks could not help either and in utter frustration at not being able to do anything, the Doctor had set off for the TARDIS library in search of answers. Tegan had been left to try and explain how the innards of a London Metropolitan Police Box could contain a vehicle of Time to Mrs Gormenghast.


       The TARDIS library was vast in every sense of the word. Once one is released of the obligation of finite dimensions, the amount of knowledge one is able to store in such a library and the order in which it is stored become concepts that it takes a Time Lord to comprehend. Shelves lined with books stretched out until infinity.


       The entirety of the planet Earth's population could have been visiting this library for a quiet afternoon's study and you would have thought it to be empty. The Doctor stared around the mass of information wondering where to start. Tegan had described a huge cat's eye and where as this may have been merely a hologram or a disguise, the Doctor thought it a good point to start the search.


       Three hours later, around 50 books were strewn over the gleaming white floor of the library as the Doctor sat cross legged in the middle of the melee, reading intensely. He had found an obscure reference to a race known simply as the Cat People. He had no memory of ever encountering such a race but there were extensive notes pencilled into the column of the page so he assumed that he must have at some time visited them, probably in his own personal future.


       Much of what he had written was decidedly illegible but he was able to make out a few references as to what appeared to be a set of co-ordinates. The information was incomplete but with a little help from the TARDIS navigational computer, he may sort it out.


       Tegan was still trying to explain the TARDIS to Mrs Gormenghast — a concept of which she had none to firm a grip at the best of times —when the Doctor suddenly came dashing in, coat tails flying, brandishing a book that must have come from the TARDIS library.


       "Doctor, would it be too much to ask--"


       Tegan's question was quickly curtailed by an irritated shushing movement by the Doctor as he started punching what to Tegan looked like nearly every button on the console.


       "Doctor!" Tegan started again, now a little more annoyed. The Doctor realized that he wasn't going to get any peace until he had given a detailed account of what he planned to do.


       "I believe that Nyssa has been kidnapped!" he began. "By whom and for what purpose I would not even try to hazard a guess. What I do have though is a possible point to start looking for her."


       "Where?"


       "I don't know yet. That's what I'm trying to find out if you'd only let me get on with it."


       Tegan fell silent knowing better than to disturb the Doctor again.


       After a few more minutes work, the Doctor suddenly straightened up and the TARDIS hum changed ever so slightly indicating a new course.


* * *


Nyssa had been walking for an hour now and all she had found were a couple of rotting carcasses. The only thing she could determine for certain was that they were definitely not human or event humanoid. All of a sudden she thought she saw movement out of the corner of her eye. Glancing around she saw nothing. She continued on her way.


       Five metres on, she once again felt the sense of movement. Again she turned to discover nothing but the empty path behind her. She began walking yet again. Now she was sure that she was being followed.


       Followed or hunted.


       This time she turned without stopping and immediately saw a scruffy shambling humanoid figure behind her. She was alarmed at the state of the figure, but was even more alarmed when she looked into its feline eyes.


       The figure turned and ran, obviously terrified. So why had it been following her? Curiosity overcoming her fear, Nyssa called after the retreating figure. Her calls had the desired affect as the figure stopped turned and looked at her once more.


       "You speak," it said in a gruff voice. Male, if the timbre was any indication.


       "So do you," Nyssa replied.


       "Why should I not?"


       Nyssa had no good answer.


* * *


With a wheezing groaning sound, the TARDIS materialized on a rocky outcrop. The door opened and the Doctor emerged jamming his beige hat on his head as he stepped onto the rocky ground. He was quickly followed by Tegan and Mrs Gormenghast.


       "Doctor where are we?" Tegan asked for the umpteenth time.


       "Tegan for the last time," the Doctor replied impatiently "I don't know. All I have is the co-ordinates, and even that was more luck than judgement. The TARDIS databanks do not seem to contain a name for this planet."


       "This is where Nyssa will be?"


       "I don't know that either" The Doctor answered, frustrated at how weak that sounded. They set off down the path in search of clues.


* * *


Once Nyssa and the cat creature — whom Nyssa had found out was called Axtir — had each realized that they weren't out to kill one another, they began to talk. Nyssa trying to find out where she was and how she got there and Axtir trying to find out where Nyssa was from and why she bore no resemblance to himself.


       "The overseer rules here, " Axtir told Nyssa. "He controls we do."


       "Why?"


       "That is the way of it!"


       "But who is this overseer? Is he like you? Where does he live?"


       "Why do you ask the obvious?"


       "To me it is far from obvious."


       "You will see the overseer when he deems it necessary. It will not be long as we have yet to receive our tasks for the day. You shall also be required to work."


       "Now hang on a minute"


       "You are here with us in the Overseer's kingdom. You will obey his will. That is how it is!"


       Nyssa was non-plused. Could it be this mysterious overseer that had brought her here? She couldn't really see Axtir accepting a huge terrifying red eye as a leader considering how timid he had been when she first met him. But then again who really knew what made these people tick?


       Axtir led Nyssa back to a make shift camp, the only sign of life that she had seen since she got here. The camp was made up of a scattering of wigwam-like dwellings with cat people similar to Axtir running in and out, preparing food, lighting fires and generally getting ready for a day's work. Axtir lead Nyssa to a wigwam to the eastern side of the encampment. This was apparently his home.


       The resident population treated Nyssa initially with great fear although seeing Axtir with her did go someway to allaying their fears. Axtir presented Nyssa with a rough wooden bowl filled with what appeared to be some kind of stew. He also presently sat down and started lapping at his own bowl. Nyssa followed suit.


* * *


The Doctor and his party were trudging down the path. They still had not seen any sign of life. The Doctor suddenly stopped so suddenly that Tegan walked straight into him followed abruptly by Mrs Gormenghast who walked straight into her. "Doctor where are we? Where's my guest house gone?"

"Your guest house hasn't gone anywhere Mrs Gormenghast and as to where we are I refer you to the answer I gave Tegan when we left the TARDIS"


       "What have you stopped for?" asked Tegan


       "Look at the ground" The Doctor replied mysteriously.


       "So?" Tegan was not convinced


       "The grass has been flattened. Someone has stood here for a reasonable period of time and quite recently assuming that the grass here obeys the tensile rules of most of the other grasses that I know around the galaxy"


       "Doctor what's that smell?" Mrs Gormenghast asked, her nose ruffling as she breathed in.


       "Smells like cooking of some kind of meat to me" The Doctor replied "Come on!"


* * *


Nyssa felt sated after her bowl of warm stew. She turned to Axtir, the question 'What now?' written on her face. The reply to that silent question however did not come from him.


       A bell suddenly rang out in the encampment and people quickly started scurrying around and then loosely congregating at a central point in the encampment. Axtir followed suit and Nyssa, having nothing better to do and her curiosity on fire, followed suit.


       The central tent they gathered around seemed to be of a grander design, relatively speaking, when compared to the other wigwams in the encampment. The populace were waiting attentively for someone to emerge, presumably their leader. Or maybe, Nyssa thought, this mysterious overseer?. She didn't have to wait long. A figure emerged from the tent who initially, to Nyssa, looked like many of the other occupants of the camp. It wasn't until the figure drew back his hood that a horrible sense of realization gripped her .


       Firstly the figures eyes were an exact miniature of that terrible red eye from the box back at the guest house, but that wasn't the most recognizable feature about this new and terrible character. The overseer looked down at Nyssa and chuckled to himself.


       A chuckle that Nyssa knew only too well.


* * *


The Doctor's party finally came in sight of the encampment from which the smells had originated. There seemed to be something going on. This was apparent even from a distance as the large group of what only the Doctor's keen vision could identify as feline-like humanoids surrounded some central point. Finally they came close enough to hear individual voices. One in particular was raised and seemed to be giving out a task list for the day's work. There was no sign of Nyssa anywhere and as the Doctor's party drew nearer, the crowd fell back in fear and amazement. The throng of feline faces parted giving the Doctor and his companions the first good look at the person who was the reason for the gathering.


       The eyes were a hideous red version of the eyes of the cat people, the clothes were also of a similar if a little grander style but the face and the chuckle that suddenly emanated from the figure where unmistakably that of The Master.


       Making the few steps to bring himself eye to eye with the Doctor, the Master chuckled once more.


       "Oh my dear Doctor, you have been Naive!!"


---
To be continued...



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