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Doctor Who Missing Internet Adventure #23 - "False Life"


Chapter 6
"The Ending and the Beginning"
by Greg McCambley


---


On the surface of Paradise-2, a small group of buildings sat amongst the rocks. Inside, several people were going about their normal duties. For most of them, this involved monitoring those individuals sent to the planet. In the Central Lab, Dr. Vvoxx was anxiously monitoring the neural activities of his Time Lord subjects. Maffew stood by silently.


       Vvoxx slammed his fist down on the console. "I knew this would happen!" he said.


       "Problem?" Maffew asked.


       "Yes, there's a problem!" Vvoxx replied. "This Doctor fellow is playing hell with the system. His mind keeps fighting the reality imposed on him! I've never seen anything like it!"


       Maffew glanced at the screen. "Should we alert the Judge about him?"


       Vvoxx looked up at him. "And tell him what? That one Time Lord's brain is confounding our greatest scientific achievement?" Vvoxx snorted. "That would go over real well, I'm sure."


       "Well, what else can we do?" Maffew asked.


       Vvoxx stared at the monitor for a second, not saying anything. Then he stood up. "Maffew, get some of the guards together, and meet me at the main entrance in 10 minutes."


       Maffew nodded and turned to leave.


       "Oh, and Maffew?"


       "Yes?"


       "Make sure they're armed and ready to kill."


       Maffew blanched for a second, but quickly recovered. "Yes, Sir," he said, and he left. Vvoxx stared at the monitor again, then began preparing his equipment for the trip back to the TARDIS.


* * *


Romana rocked back on her heels and gave a small sigh of frustration. K-9 lay before her, his insides a jumbled mass of wires and seaweed. But no more crabs, she thought to herself. She had made sure of that. Now she had to finish digging out the seaweed. She reached in, grabbed the few remaining strands, and threw it on the small pile by the sand.


       "I'm sorry, K-9," she said, "but repairing you is going to take a while." She patted his head, and was relieved to see him just barely wag his tail in response. Standing up to stretch, she glanced over at the monitor, and watched the Roach creature outside continue its digging. The thing it was uncovering definitely looked like an escape pod, but not any sort that she was familiar with. She looked again at the creature, and shivered. It was definitely one of the most repulsive creatures she'd ever seen. Yet she couldn't take her eyes off of it. The voice behind her made her jump.


       "Don't stare, Romana. It's not polite."


       She looked to the doorway, where the Doctor stood. "It's hard not to."


       The Doctor nodded. "It does draw your attention, doesn't it? I wonder why that is?"


       "Pheromones?" Romana posited.


       "While we're in here and it's out there?" the Doctor asked.


       Romana sighed. "It was a silly suggestion, wasn't it?"


       "Unrealistic would be the better word, I think." The Doctor moved closer to the screen. "That looks like an escape pod it's digging up."


       "So it does," Romana said. She glanced around. "Where's our guest?"


       "In the Zero Room."


       "The Zero Room? But that's where..."


       "...we heal ourselves. Yes. I think it will do him some good."


       "But surely he's not a Time Lord?"


       "No, but he's the closest you can get to being one without being born on Gallifrey."


       Romana pushed her hair back over her ear. "How is that possible?"


       "I'm not sure," the Doctor said. "Hello, I think our friend outside has finished excavating."


       Romana looked back at the screen, and saw that the Doctor was right. The pod's remains lay totally uncovered. The creature then sat itself down on the ground, its legs folded underneath itself. It didn't move an inch.


       "Now what?" Romana asked.


       The Doctor shrugged. Then he went over to K-9 to examine his innards. After his examination was done, he patted K-9's head.


       "Don't worry, K-9. Have you sorted out in a jiffy," he said, and immediately set to work. Romana knelt down again, ready to help.


* * *


Inside the Zero Room, the man was undergoing a painful, but remarkable, regeneration. His first instincts after being locked in was to clamour for immediate release. These feelings gradually eased, however, when he began to sense the energy in the room. It was not dangerous or lethal. Instead, it was soothing. It comforted, as well as healed. He'd left the door and moved to the center of the room, where he sat and let the energy flow through him. It had hurt a lot at first, but the pain and shock had gone down considerably since he first entered. He closed his eyes, and he sensed the sores on his head and body were beginning to heal over.


       He knew that when he opened his eyes, they would both be working again. He felt his mind strengthening, and began to think clearly again for the first time in a long while. And then he began remembering everything. His name, his life, his mission, everything.


       When the voice began talking in his head, he wasn't surprised. He'd remembered it too.


* * *


Maffew stood by with the other guards, each checking that their bio-suits were properly sealed. Vvoxx looked them over, much like a general would.


       "All weapons ready?" Vvoxx asked.


       "Yes, sir."


       "Good. Let's move out. Remember, we need only kill the Doctor. The female Time Lord is to be left alone. Understood?"


       Everyone nodded in response, and they all headed out into the wastes.


* * *


"Darling, are you all right?"


       The Doctor slowly opened his eyes, blinking several times. His vision was filled with Romana's face. He barely registered Maurrice standing off to one side.


       "A little woozy," he said, sitting up, "but physically fine."


       "Good," Romana said, and she slapped him hard. The Doctor recoiled in shock, rubbing his chin. "What was that for?" he asked.


       Romana's face was tense with anger. "Something is going on here, and you're the cause of it!" she snapped. She stood up, motioning to the pieces of K-9 on his worktable. "Is *this* what you've been doing with your nights, instead of being with me?"


       "Romana, it's not that simple," he began to say, but she cut him off.


       "Yes, it is that simple!" she said. "This junk, the books, the stories. They all mean more to you than I do! More even than your daughter does! And now your daughter is gone!"


       "Gone?" he asked, standing up. "Gone where?"


       "I don't know!" she screamed. "There's a strange man in her room!"


       The Doctor stroked his chin, lost in thought. What was going on here? "Maurrice, could you look after Romana?" he asked, but there was no reply. He looked around. Maurrice was no longer in the room.


* * *


Tommathan had stumbled across the study while looking for the Doctor and Romana. He was fascinated by everything he saw. It's all so ancient, he thought as he touched the computer keyboard. He walked over to the books and leafed through them. A cough sounded behind him, and he turned. A tall man stood in the doorway, dressed all in black. Tomm didn't recognize him, but he certainly wasn't the Doctor.


       "Hello," he said. "Here to see the Doctor?"


       The man in the doorway stepped into the room. "Who are you?" he sternly asked.


       Tommathan was taken aback by the menace in the man's voice. "I..." he started to say, then stopped. He had no clue what to say.


       Maurrice stepped further into the room. "You're obviously not their daughter, and they don't have a son. So I'll ask you again. Who are you? What are you doing here?"


       "He's a cousin once removed," the Doctor said, suddenly bursting through the door behind Maurrice.. He immediately went over to Tommathan's side. "Hello, young man. Nice to see you again. It's been awhile." He shook Tomm's hand.


       "Your cousin?" Maurrice asked.


       "Yes, my cousin," the Doctor said.


       "Then why is he wearing your daughter's clothes?"


       "Just a phase he's going through," the Doctor said, smiling.


       Maurrice didn't return the smile.


* * *


In the Zero Room, the man stood up. He felt cleansed, refreshed. He felt reborn. He remembered everything. He knew who he was, and what needed to be done. He moved to the door which opened up by itself. He stepped out in the corridor, and the door closed behind him. He turned and headed towards the Console Room.


* * *


"There we go, K-9. How's that?" Romana asked, a satisfied smile on her face.


       "Sensor functions restored, Mistress. Mobility still impaired. No offensive capabilities."


       "We'll take care of that later," the Doctor said, patting K-9's head. He glanced back at the screen. The creature was still outside, not moving at all. "Now what should we do about him, I wonder?"


       "We shall go out and meet him."


       The Doctor and Romana turned to see their guest standing in the doorway, and Romana gave an involuntary gasp. The man who had been virtually a pile of goo a while ago was now wholly healed. He was a man of medium height and build, with dark, dark eyes. His suit still bore the rips and tears from before.


       "I beg your pardon?" the Doctor asked.


       "We must go to him, Doctor," he said, "we must leave here at once."


       "Leave?" Romana asked. "Why? And where can we go?"


       "Men are coming here to kill you, Doctor. We must go where they will not find us. We must go where we are needed," he said, and with a gesture, the TARDIS doors opened.


       "Bring the machine," were his last words before he disappeared out the door. The Doctor and Romana looked at each other.


       "Looks like we don't have much choice," Romana said, reaching for a hat of her own.


       "Looks like," the Doctor said, picking up K-9.


       Stepping outside the TARDIS, they saw their guest moving away across the rocks, the cockroach creature scuttling along behind. The Doctor and Romana rapidly set off in pursuit.


* * *


The creature had been quietly sitting under the blazing sun when its quarry had suddenly reappeared. It was about to charge again when it suddenly realised that its quarry was different. The creature's antennae quivered as it studied the person in front of it. This person, like the pod, was steeped in the heady scents of Pasttime, as well as something else. Something familiar. It immediately recognized that this was no longer its quarry. This was its Master. The time had come. It was the Ending.


* * *


The group from the monitoring base moved slowly across the surface of Paradise-2, the biosuits doing something to alleviate the heat on the surface. Maffew groaned silently. Doing this run across the surface once had been bad enough, but twice? He was beginning to think this wasn't the glamour job he expected. When he had signed up, he'd envisioned a job protecting Paradise from scum. He hadn't expected to be hiking through this wasteland. He glanced across the surface, watching the heat haze rising off the ground. They couldn't have chosen a more perfect place to put a prison if they'd tried. That seems to be all this planet is good for, he thought. He was so lost in thought, he almost ran into the guard ahead of him.


       "There's the Doctor's ship," Vvoxx said. Maffew blinked. The ship looked the same, but now...


       "What's that?" he asked, indicating the escape pod.


       "Something left from a previous forced landing, I suppose."


       "But where'd it come from? It wasn't there before, and we haven't had any more landings."


       "Well, check it out if you like. You two guards come with me." As they moved to the TARDIS, Maffew edged cautiously towards the uncovered wreckage.


       Definitely an escape pod, he thought, and it looks very old. Maybe it even predates the prison. He tried to shift one of the pieces, but it was too large and bulky for him to get a proper grip.


       "You get that end," he said, motioning to the remaining guards, "and you get the other." The guards went over and, reluctantly, grabbed hold of the metal.


       "OK, ready?" he asked, and they nodded. "Then one, two, three, lift." The wreckage came up slowly, as the guards tried to get a better grip. Gradually, they managed to get it up high enough for Maffew to see the underside. Before he could examine it, he heard a curse from Vvoxx.


       "Damn! He's gone!"


       Maffew turned to look at Vvoxx. "He's not in there?"


       "He could still be in that damn ship, but if he is we'd never find him! Those corridors go on forever." Vvoxx then saw what Maffew was doing. "Oh, drop that


       thing, will you?"


       "In a minute," Maffew said. "OK guys, flip it over." The guards heaved, and the piece of metal hit the ground hard.


       "Careful, you idiots!" Maffew said, testily. He bent down to check the metal. Despite the drop, it appeared intact.


       "Hey, I think there's writing here," he said. He began to gently brush the dirt from the wreckage. Gradually, he saw he was right.


       "It is writing," he exclaimed. Vvoxx came over, curious despite his initial annoyance at losing the Doctor. Vvoxx read off the letters. "DISE EXPLO POD 1." He looked at Maffew. "Paradise Explorer, do you think?"


       "I think you're right. Then this comes from the original survey of the planet."


       Maffew looked at the wreckage with new appreciation. "That makes this over a hundred years old." Vvoxx nodded in agreement.


       "But if this pod came from the original survey ship, why did they need to jettison it? Surely they got back to Paradise-1 alright. Why was it hidden?" Maffew started looking around nervously. "And who uncovered it?"


* * *


After a half an hour or so, the Doctor and Romana had been led to a cave entrance located high amongst the rocks. They were now walking through a tunnel, moving ever deeper, gradually leaving the heat of the surface behind them.


       "Where are we going?" Romana asked the man. He had not said anything since the TARDIS, and he still remained silent.


       "K-9, can you determine where we're going?" the Doctor asked. They heard the whirring of his ears. "Detecting large fissure in rock ahead, Master. Over 90% probability that is our destination."


       "Good boy," the Doctor said. "Romana, are you seeing what I'm seeing?"


       "If you mean the slight phosphorescence, yes," she said. "Are you sure we shouldn't try escaping?" she whispered.


       "Do not try to escape, please," the man said. "All will be revealed shortly."


       "Oh, good," the Doctor said. "One can only carry on being mysterious for so long before it becomes ostentatious." He heard Romana quietly harrumph. "Well, there are exceptions, of course."


       They finally reached the fissure K-9 had detected. It was wide enough for the Roach, but the creature stopped outside, as if on guard. The man continued through the hole, the Doctor and Romana following behind. They emerged into a very large cavern which stretched off into the distance. The ceiling was several hundred meters above their heads, invisible in the faint glow. Looking down, stalagmites were barely visible, and trundling among them were hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Roach creatures. Standing in the centre of the cavern sat a large building. It looked like a pyramid with the top cut off.


       "Impressive," said the Doctor. "Home?"


       "Home," said the man and, after waving his hands, they began floating across the cavern towards the building. A few moments later, they touched down. The man turned to face the Doctor and Romana.


       "You have my thanks, Time Lords, for saving me."


       "You're welcome," the Doctor said. "Now perhaps you could explain exactly who it is we've saved."


       "Of course," the man said. "I was, once, a member of a planetary survey team, sent to explore this planet. We examined this planet completely and reported back to our government. In response, our government arrested us, sent us here, and crashed our ship. All survey team members died. Except me."


       "That's very lucky," the Doctor said. "That was your escape pod, I assume."


       "Yes. The government had disabled it, but I got it free."


       Romana spoke up. "But why would your government want you dead? You were a survey team."


       "There are a couple of reasons. This is the best way to explain it, I think," he said, and some images appeared in midair. The Doctor and Romana watched as the images passed by quickly. They saw a planet, green and luscious. They saw it grow less green and more red. As the red rapidly covered the planet, the image zoomed in. It showed the rocky surface of Paradise-2. It then focussed on two entwined energy creatures, darting amongst the Roach creatures. Suddenly, the image shook fiercely, and it showed the energy creatures flying apart. The image zoomed out again, showing two planets where there had only been one before.


       The image faded.


       "You saw the images, Time Lords. Do you understand?"


       The Doctor and Romana looked at each other. "Did you understand that, Romana?"


       She nodded. "Of course. Did you?"


       "Yes." He looked back at the man. "This isn't Paradise-2 at all, is it?"


       "Correct. This planet is, and always has been, Paradise. Only we are the Paradise of the future."


       "Which is something that, I gather, was not in the government's best interests to reveal to the Universe."


       "No."


       The Doctor chewed his thumb thoughtfully. "But what I'm not entirely sure of is what caused the Space/Time disruption in the first place."


       "The Disruption was caused by my twin."


       "Your twin?"


       Above them, one of the energy creatures from the images appeared. "My twin," it said. "I am the Ending, and my twin is the Beginning."


       "I see," said the Doctor. "Now why would he do that?"


       The man spread his arms wide, indicating the Roach creatures. The energy spoke again. "These creatures were, for centuries, the only source of our subsistence.


       Psychic energy. From them, we got the power to do virtually anything."


       "Aha!" the Doctor said, snapping his fingers. "So if you have the power to create a space/time warp from the remnants of energy that these creatures must give off..."


       "Then your powers must be increased immensely by using fresher psychic energy," Romana concluded.


       "This is why you must stop my twin, Time Lords. Because if it is not, it shall drain the psychic energy from every living being until the Universe itself is dead."


---
To be continued...



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