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Doctor Who Missing Internet Adventure #22 - "Verdant Carnage"


Chapter 1
"Willow"
by Kevin Michael Wilcox


---


The Doctor continued to explain about the Malus, but Tegan was no longer listening. She and her grandfather Andrew Verney, the man she'd gone to Little Hodcombe to see, were finally in the same room together without someone trying to kill them, and she wasn't about to let the moment slip by. She slipped away from the Time Lord's side and walked over to where the bemused older man was standing.


       "That's the last time I pay an unexpected call on you," she said, chuckling.


       Verney smiled. "As a rule, the villagers and I are much more welcoming."


       A few feet away, two of those villagers, Ben Wolsey and Joseph Willow, were having their own conversation.


       "There'll be lots of clearing up to do," Ben said, "in more ways than one." He held out his hand. "We'll need all the help we can get." A farmer, Ben had been one of the few to speak up against what had been happening.


       Joseph, a young land agent who had been one of the most enthusiastic participants in the war games, shook the hand gratefully. "And no recriminations?" he asked.


       "Not on my part."


       Jane Hampden, the village's schoolteacher, also shook Willow's hand. "Nor mine."


       "Well, that seems to be it," the Doctor said, clapping his hands. "We'll drop you all off and then we'll be on our way."


       "Umm, what about our young friend here," Turlough asked, indicating Will Chandler, whom the Malus had pulled forward from the seventeenth century.


       "Oh," the Doctor said, as if suddenly remembering. "Well, him too. 1643 isn't all that far away." He began adjusting the settings, then paused as Tegan interrupted.


       "Aren't you forgetting something?"


       The Doctor looked up at her. "Probably. It isn't unusual; I've had a very hard day."


       "Well, we came here to visit my grandfather. Be nice to spend a little time with him."


       "I must admit," Turlough said, "I would mind staying for a while."


       Jane rocked back on her heels. "Mmm, you're outnumbered seven to one."


       The Doctor pointed as he said, "I'm being bullied, coerced, forced against my will. I've had enough for one day."


       "If you are, agree, man," Verney said.


       "Alright, just for a little while. We have a great deal to do."


       "Good," Turlough chirped, "I quite miss that brown liquid they drink here."


       "Ale?" Will Chandler asked.


       "No, tea."


       "What be tea?"


       "Oh, a noxious infusion of oriental leaves containing a high percentage of toxic acid," the Doctor explained.


       Chandler grimaced. "Sounds an evil brew, don't it?"


       "True," the Doctor said, a smile growing on his face. "Personally, I rather like it."


       "Still sounds frightful."


       The Doctor nodded. "It's for the best, really. I ought to get you back to your own time as soon as possible." He turned back to the rest of the group. "I'll let you out, then take Will here straight home."


       "You really travel through time?" Hampden asked.


       "Through time," Turlough told her, "to other worlds, all over."


       "With the controls working again, 1643 is a short hop. Shouldn't take more than a few minutes," the Doctor added.


       "Then can I come?" Jane asked.


       The Doctor looked up at her in surprise and stammered, "Well, uhh..."


       "Oh, please?"


       "Even without a Malus, England in 1643 was not the safest place to be," the Doctor warned.


       "Even so," Verney said, "I'd like a chance to see it as well, even if just on that telly of yours."


       "But, Grandfather," Tegan whispered.


       "It's just for a bit, dear," he assured her, "to say goodbye to young Will. And we will still be together."


       "I hope you're right," Turlough said.


       "Tegan, Turlough," the Doctor said, "the TARDIS is working fine now; there's no reason to worry."


       "Famous last words," Tegan mumbled.


       "Brave heart, Tegan. Are you all sure?" the Doctor asked, grinning. He looked at Ben and Joseph, who merely shrugged. "Alright, let's go."


       He adjusted the temporal controls and started the TARDIS.


* * *


Deep in the ship's interior, something awoke.


       Kamelion came out of his regenerative cycle, slowly rose to his feet, and left the room. Though he knew it was dangerous for him to come into contact with organics — his vulnerability to their mental suggestions always ended in pain — he still had to exercise his systems. Fortunately, the TARDIS was so vast that he hadn't met anyone in a very long time.


       Sensing only the omnipresent consciousness of the TARDIS itself, he started down a corridor he hadn't noticed before.


* * *


The Doctor was true to his word. The time rotor only rose and fell for five minutes before it stopped, and the TARDIS thudded back into reality.


       The Doctor looked at the readout on the console which showed that the ship was right where it was supposed to be. "Perfect," he announced as he activated the scanner's viewscreen. "Well, umm..."


       Turlough grinned smugly, while Tegan looked ready to cry.


       "Doctor," Jane asked, "since when did seventeenth-century England have a tropical climate?"


* * *


Minutes earlier, the gnoorr had slowly sunk into a crouch and watched as the two male flyren fought. The long-toothed rodents circled each other warily, making occasional biting lunges that came nowhere close to connecting. After the fifteenth or sixteenth such lunge by the slightly larger flyran, the smaller one immediately made its own attack and sank its fangs into the top of its opponent's head. The large one convulsed once and died.


       As the victor began cracking open the other's skull, a female flyran dropped from a tree and began eating from the loser's flank.


       Meanwhile, the gnoorr continued to watch patiently.


       When, after twenty minutes or so, the exercise in cannibalism had ended, the two flyren began to scurry back toward the nearest tree. The gnoorr tensed and sprang, scooping up and swallowing the male flyran in one fluid motion. It then turned to look at the female, which was racing to another tree. Just as the gnoorr was about to bound after it, though, she felt a sudden overwhelming desire to simply be away. She immediately leapt backwards, landing two metres away.


       For a second, nothing happened. Then there was a series of crashing sounds so loud that every creature except the gnoorr fled as quickly as legs or wings allowed. Only then did the large shape fade into place, right where the gnoorr had been. Curious, the gnoorr settled into a crouch to watch this new arrival.


* * *


"That bain't right," Will Chandler said, looking up at the viewscreen.


       "No," Tegan agreed, "that's very wrong. Doctor, where are we?"


       The Doctor looked hard at the console readout, which stubbornly showed the coordinates for England in the year. After a moment's thought, he slapped the console just to the left of the figures. The temporal reading stayed the same, but the location was now in a different galaxy. "Ah."


       "Ah?" Turlough asked. "Ah what?"


       The Doctor slapped the console again, and the reading changed again, back to the Milky Way, about sixty light years from Earth. The Doctor hit it three more times. Each time, the location changed wildly, but the time also listed 1643. "We're lost, I'm afraid."


       "This is another planet?" Joseph asked.


       "Oh, definitely. I've just no idea where."


       Tegan peered at the screen. "Couldn't this be the Amazon?"


       The Doctor pointed at a plant with small yellow flowers. "See those?"


       "They're glowing!" Jane said.


       "Precisely. Bioluminescence, not common on Earth, and certainly not found in any plant that looks like that. Also, that plant over there is not native to Earth, and that one over there, and that one..."


       "We get the idea," Turlough interrupted.


       "Can't we just go back?" Verney offered.


       "We could if I had our present coordinates," the Time Lord explained, "but I don't even know what galaxy we're in."


       "How... how can you find out?" Ben stammered.


       "If there's civilisation here, I can use their star charts. Otherwise, a clear view of night sky should suffice."


       "Well, then," Tegan said, "let's go. The sooner we get this done, the sooner you can get us back home." She reached for the door controls.


       "Wait," the Doctor told her. "I want you and Turlough to show everyone where they can get something to eat and drink, freshen up. I'll be back in a bit."


       Tegan shook her head. "Doctor, it could be dangerous out there."


       The Doctor looked at her grandfather. "Precisely." Tegan followed his gaze and conceded the argument.


       "At least let me accompany you," Willow said. "I feel like I need to do something to make up for before."


       The Doctor looked the young man in the eye for several seconds before nodding. "Alright. The rest of you wait here. We shall return shortly."


* * *


Malvux clenched the nutrient bar in his teeth as he raced back to his station. He flopped into his chair and spun around to see what had set off the alarm systems.


       He verified and reverified the readings, and there was no doubt. There, almost in the exact centre of the Salasiad rain forest, the largest untouched tropical jungle in Sweezon space, there was an object of technological origin. Only the sensors aimed at the ground had been activated; the atmospheric ones had shown nothing. It was as though the object had simply appeared there.


       Whatever, the mystery wasn't his concern. Silencing the alarm, he called the bridge and reported the object to the captain. Minutes later, he felt the subtle shift as the hive changed direction.


* * *


The gnoorr was still watching the TARDIS when the two creatures emerged. The taller one with the lighter coat looked up.


       "I can't see the sky past the foliage," it said. "Let us see if we can find a clearing, shall we?" Then it moved off, followed by the other.


       A few feet behind them, padding silently through the undergrowth, came the gnoorr.


* * *


"A beast!" Will shouted.


       Tegan turned suddenly. "A what?"


       Will pointed at the screen. A large creature resembling a green cat was just disappearing into the brush.


       "Tell me that's not the way the Doctor went," Turlough said.


       "We have to go after him," Tegan said.


       "And do what? You have lion taming experience, do you?"


       "I can at least warn the Doctor and, umm..."


       "Joseph," Ben supplied. "I'll come with you."


       "And me," Jane said.


       "Me too," Andrew added.


       "No, grandfather. I want you to stay here." Tegan put her hand on his shoulder. "For me?"


       Andrew smiled. "For you, dear. Good luck."


       Tegan and the others left, and the doors closed behind them. Turlough looked over at the screen, but there was no sign of them.


       "Where they be?" Will asked.


       Turlough rotated the scanner until it showed them pushing their way into the jungle.


       Andrew sighed with relief. "There they are."


       "They're going the wrong way," Turlough said. He looked at the others' faces and groaned. "And now we're going to go after them, aren't we?"


* * *


The Sweezon guardian hiveship hovered hundreds of metres above the jungle canopy. A tiny hatch opened on its underside, and a metal claw was lowered out of it, connected to the ship by a heavy cable. The claw descended through the foliage until it got close to the ground. It clamped around the alien object, and pulled it back up and into the hiveship.


       Once the object was in the bay, the winch rotated and the claw dropped it to the floor. After several seconds, security troops came into the bay and surrounded it. One of the officers approached and examined the object. She prodded it cautiously with her weapon, and a door opened inward.


* * *


Kamelion was surprised to find himself back in the console room. It was empty, though, so he didn't leave right away.


       He was thus caught completely by surprise when the grey-skinned soldiers burst into the room.


* * *


"I thought there'd be no recriminations," Joseph said.


       The Doctor spun around to face him. "I never agreed to that, Mr Willow. What you did to Tegan was unforgivable."


       "But the Malus..."


       "Others resisted," the Doctor told him.


       "Did you agree to let me come with you just so you could dress me down?"


       The Doctor turned back around and resumed his trek. "No," he answered without looking at the other man, "I may need some help. It looks like the only way we'll even be able to learn if it's night or day will be to climb." He stopped beside a massive tree trunk. "This one should do nicely."


       "You want me to climb it?"


       "No, I'll climb it myself," the Doctor said, "but if you could give me a hand reaching that branch there, it'll be most helpful."


       Joseph knelt down and formed a stirrup with his hands. The Doctor stepped into it, and Joseph lifted him up so that the Time Lord was able to wrap his arms around the branch and swing himself up onto it.


       The Doctor stood up on the limb. "Perfect. Just wait there, and I'll be down in... Look out!"


       Joseph Willow turned around just in time to see the creature, which looked like a green-and-black tiger, leaped out of the bushes and slammed into his chest. He fell onto his back and barely had time to scream before the gnoorr's jaws closed on his face and bit off the front half of his head.


---
To be continued...



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