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Doctor Who Missing Internet Adventure #24 - "Endorra"


Chapter 1
"Episode One"
by Jeff Beuck


---


"Homesick already?"


       Adric, hands behind his head and staring into space, turned to look at his friend, the Doctor, who was standing in the doorway to his new room. He made no movement to get up from the bed.


       "I was just thinking about Nyssa."


       "Ahhhhh," remarked the Doctor. "There's nothing like a good brood, is there?" He stood awkwardly for a moment or two, tugging his ridiculously long scarf back up onto his shoulders, then added, "I'm sure that she and Tremas will be fine now that the Master has been dealt with."


       "It's not that," replied Adric. "It's just... she was the first person my own age whom we've encountered since I left Alzarius, and... well... she was the first friend I've made since meeting you and Romana. I... think I miss her, a little."


       "Ahhhhh," repeated the Doctor. Discussing humanoid friendships and relationships had never been his cup of tea. Fortunately for him, a low chime rang out from the console room down the hall. He grinned an unconvincing tooth-filled smile that Adric always found slightly annoying. "It sounds like we've landed. Let's see where we are."


       "All right. I'll be along in a minute."


       The Doctor nodded and left Adric to wrap up his thoughts in silence.


* * *


A few minutes later, Adric walked into the console room to see the Doctor examining the readouts and running calculations on the TARDIS computer. "Endora," said the Doctor without looking up as he entered.


       "What's that?" asked Adric.


       "The name of the planet we've arrived on. I'm having the TARDIS run some calculations to see when and where we are in respect to Traken and Earth."


       Adric walked over to the console and turned the knob that opened the scanner. It looked like a pleasant enough planet. Huge trees, mostly conifers, as far as the eye could see; clear blue sky; no signs of vampires or evil statues.


       "The atmosphere is safe to breathe and the gravity is close to Earth/Alzarius normal," the Doctor reported. "High oxygen levels, indicative of a planet with large amounts of vegetation and little animal life. Looks safe enough." He threw the door switch and the large double doors at the end of the console room swung open with an even hum. Turning to face Adric, he said, "Might as well go outside and get a breath of fresh air. I'm sure it will do us a world of good."


       Adric smiled weakly, mostly to humor him. "All right."


       They stepped outside, and Adric had to squint as his eyes adjusted to the bright sunlight shining down through the trees. The Doctor looked up at the sun above them. "Type F star; a little brighter than you're used to." Adric nodded, and shivered at the coolness of the air. "A little cooler than you're used to, also. Never mind, a brisk walk will take care of that."


       They had begun to set out in a random direction when Adric heard what sounded like a rocket passing above them. "Look," he pointed, trying to make out something flying above them in the bright areas above the trees.


       The Doctor raised his hand to his forehead to shield his eyes from the sun. "Looks like a plane, or possibly a shuttle of some sort." They tried to follow it as it descended below the tree line. "It seems to have landed a few kilometers from here. Shall we take a closer look?" Adric shrugged. "That's the spirit," the Doctor grinned. "I'll make an explorer out of you yet."


* * *


A few kilometers from both the TARDIS and the landing shuttle, two men in neon orange uniforms — Sergeant Derek Drake and his junior security officer, Liam Pitney — stood on a rocky outcropping, looking down into a small valley covered with trees below. Both men were fairly young — Pitney was a mere 20 years old, and Drake was only a few years older. Drake raised a pair of infrared binoculars to his eyes and scanned the floor of the valley, or at least what he could see of it with so many trees covering its surface. Ten minutes before, during a routine patrol of the resort's perimeter, they had heard a whistling sound in the air and looked up to see a small fireball (probably a meteor) pass overhead and crash near the valley where they now stood. Because nothing exciting ever happened on Endora (they were lucky to break up a scuffle in the casino once a month), they thought they might as well have a look. If nothing else, it would mean that Drake wouldn't have to listen to Pitney whine on about his tempestuous relationship with that casino hostess. And at any rate, they were duty-bound to make sure the meteor wasn't anything dangerous like a piece of radioactive debris from a wrecked space cruiser or entrepreneurial aliens arriving surreptitiously to establish a resort of their own.


       "See anything?" Pitney asked.


       "No... wait! There it is." He could see a small orange and yellow blob set against the cooler blue and green of the trees a few hundred meters away. He dropped the binoculars and pointed in the general direction of the crash. "Just down there. Let's climb down."


* * *


The Doctor and Adric emerged from the wilderness of the forest to find themselves in an expertly-landscaped clearing, set before a ten-story, ultramodern glass and plasteel building with the words "CASINO ENDORA" spelled out in bright, flashing lights above. About 500 meters to the right stood a small spaceport where a few straggling tourists were still disembarking from the shuttle they had seen minutes earlier. A tree-and fountain-lined concrete path connected the mini-spaceport to the resort complex. The pair stood momentarily surprised by the incongruity of the manmade structures in the otherwise pristine and unspoiled nature of the planet.


       "Leave it to the humans to spoil an otherwise beautiful planet with a money-making holiday trap," the Doctor snorted.


       "What's a 'Casino Endora'?" Adric asked.


       "Well, judging from the word 'Casino', it's a holiday spot where people waste abundant amounts of currency on games of chance and other frivolous entertainment. Still, it could be fun. Shall we?" Before Adric could reply, the Doctor had set out for the front doors of the resort and Adric had no choice but to follow.


       They crossed paths with an kindly elderly couple attempting to drag too much hover-luggage at once through the front doors. "Can I help you with that?" the Doctor offered.


       The old gentleman smiled and gratefully handed a luggage handle to him. The man stared at the Doctor and Adric's apparel for a moment. "I say, are you part of the entertainment?"


       Adric scowled and was about to rebut the remark when the Doctor smiled that infuriating grin of his and pulled a bouquet of flowers from the sleeve of his gray coat. The gentleman chuckled as the Doctor offered the bouquet to his wife with a theatrical flourish. The Doctor then bowed and released a dove into the air from somewhere within the folds of his coat. As an encore, he pulled an egg from Adric's ear.


       "Oh, that's jolly good," the man exclaimed. "Can't wait to see the whole show." The Doctor and Adric helped push the pile of luggage over the threshold where the automatic door magnets were interfering with the anti-gravity fields of the suitcases, and then wished the couple a happy stay.


       "This place seems to be doing good business," the Doctor muttered to Adric, looking around the lobby of the building. The floor was carpeted with a rich, two-tone red fabric; the walls appeared to be fashioned from intricately carved marble, with statues, paintings, and other works of art creating the impression that the owners were men of extreme wealth. Small trees, flowers, and other plants from around the galaxy provided additional decoration. A young hostess in a revealing red blouse and black skirt accosted them as they entered.


       "Good afternoon, gentlemen. Welcome to the Casino Endora. May I have your names, please?"


       "I'm the Doctor, and this is my friend, Adric."


       The hostess looked down at her digital notepad for a few seconds and frowned. "'Doctor' and 'Adric'? I don't see your reservations on my list..."


       "What?" the Doctor replied indignantly, taking the digipad from her hands. "Let me see that." He scanned the list for a few moments. "Oh, of course, here we are — Doctor Reuben Montcalm and Adrianne Montcalm. They got the spelling on poor Adric's name wrong. You know how those reservation service professionals are." The Doctor winked to Adric.


       The hostess frowned suspiciously at them for a moment, but after considering that the shuttle had unloaded and the two Montcalms hadn't shown up yet, she resigned herself to accepting that they were who they said they were. "Yes, well, we apologize for the mix-up. You'll be staying in room 516; if you could press your thumbs to this pad, please, we'll scan your DNA for the room's biolocks." She held out the pad and the Doctor and Adric took turns pressing their thumbs to its surface. "Splendid. Well, enjoy your stay here. The hotel rooms are accessible through the elevators to the right; the casino is through the door to the left, and the restaurant is through the doors straight ahead. The other entertainment facilities are on the next floor, up those stairs over there. If there is anything else we can do to help you enjoy your stay, just ask."


       "Thank you, we will," the Doctor replied. Adric started to move toward the doors straight ahead, but the Doctor grabbed him by the shoulder and steered him to the left. "Let's have a look around first," the Doctor whispered. "See that woman over there?" He pointed to an orange-uniformed woman with sunglasses staring at them as she spoke into a mobile communications device. "Security. Let's make sure we know our way around in case we need to make a quick escape."


       Adric nodded.


       The Doctor reached into one of his voluminous coat pockets and withdrew a small canvas sack. "Hold out your hand." He pulled the drawstring and dumped a handful of gold and silver coins into Adric's waiting palm. "Grotzis. They should be legal currency here. Go enjoy yourself."


       "Thank you." If nothing else, maybe some games would take his mind off his adventures with Nyssa. "Where are you going?"


       "Nowhere in particular," the Doctor replied as he headed toward a door marked "DO NOT ENTER - STAFF ONLY." "Nowhere in particular."


       Adric sighed and went into the casino.


* * *


The communicator on Drake's belt beeped. "Drake here."


       "Drake, something tripped the perimeter alarm. Seemed to be two tourists in funny clothing. Not sure if they're legit visitors who went for a walk and got lost, or something else. We'd like you back here ASAP."


       "Acknowledged. Give us a few minutes — I think we finally found that meteorite and I want to look it over."


       "Okay. I'll hold down the fort here. Out."


       Drake returned the clip to his belt as Pitney tentatively reached out with his booted foot to touch the meteorite. "Looks organic."


       "Can't be," Drake replied. "Nothing organic could have survived a trip through space. Could it?"


       "I dunno," Pitney admitted. "Looks like a giant nut or something, though."


       "Well, let's take it back with us; Shannon wants us back at the resort to look into two suspicious touries."


       "Okay." Pitney touched the meteorite with his finger to make sure it wasn't too hot, and then lifted it and put it into his backpack.


* * *


Lady Elizabeth Axori squealed in delight as the sapphire ball slotted into place on the hyper-roulette wheel to match the third number of her bet and a pile of credits were pushed towards her. She quickly scooped the excess credits towards her, and placed a pile onto another triad of numbers on the 3-D gaming board.


       Technically speaking, Elizabeth was a princess, daughter of the ruler of the planet Axori, but being the youngest of five daughters and considering her father had bought the planet (and his title) with earnings from his entertainment empire, it wasn't a title that carried much significance. She preferred being referred to as "Lady" when out in the galaxy at large, which somehow made her seem more ordinary and accessible while still retaining the aura of wealth and power.


       Gianna, one of her entourage of sycophantic friends — daughters of executives who worked for her father's conglomerate and who also lived in the great palace on Axori — tapped her on the shoulder. "Get a load of this guy." Elizabeth turned and saw a young man, a few years younger than herself, walking lonesomely across the casino floor. He was dressed in yellow patchwork clothes, like someone from a backwater colony planet, and he had an almost medieval haircut. He seemed entirely out of place in the exotic surroundings of the casino. Gianna and a few of her other friends were beginning to laugh. The young man looked over at them, and his face turned red as he realized he was the object of their laughter.


       "Hey, cool pajamas! Did you lose your mommy in the big, bad casino?" Gianna called, mockingly. He turned away, crushed.


       Elizabeth slapped her in the arm. "Hey, that's not nice. He could be the son of someone important on the other side of the galaxy." Elizabeth stood up and walked over to him. "Hello. Ignore my friend. I'm Elizabeth; we're from the planet Axori. What's your name?"


       "Adric."


       "Adric." Elizabeth rolled the strange name around on her tongue. "Where are you from, Adric?"


       "Alzarius."


       "Alzarius. Is that near Earth?"


       "No, actually, it's in E-Space--"


       "Oh, never mind. Come join us! Are you any good at hyper-roulette?"


       "I've never played it before."


       "Well, here, have a seat; we'll teach you how to play." For all his backwardness and strange clothes, she found him cute, in a weird sort of way.


* * *


Pitney nearly jumped as his backpack moved.


       "Um, Sarge, I think this meteorite is alive."


       "What?!"


       Pitney hastily slipped the backpack straps from his arms and set it on the ground. Kneeling next to it, he cautiously opened it up.


       The meteorite appeared to have cracked open.


       "What's it doing?" Pitney asked.


       "Dunno. Maybe it's an egg of some kind."


       As they watched it, the meteorite split into three pieces, and a green tendril like a plant vine snapped out and whipped Pitney on the arm.


       "Ouch! That stung!"


       "Get away from it," Drake ordered. Pitney scooted away from it. Drake removed his blaster and irradiated the pod with a high-temperature energy burst.


       "Well, that's the end of that," Drake muttered. "Let's take a look at your arm."


       Pitney held out his arm. The veins in his arm near where the plant had stung him were beginning to turn a greenish-black.


       "That doesn't look good. Let's get you back to infirmary."


       Pitney nodded. He was beginning to feel dizzy.


       As Drake put his arm beneath his shoulders, Pitney heard a whispering noise... as if the plants were talking to him...


---
To be continued...



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