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Doctor Who Whoniverse Internet Adventure #01 - "The Cold Darkness"


Chapter 7
"Cold Storm Rising"
by David Trew


---


There comes a time in every conflict when armies pull away from another, a lull, a pause in the conflict. It was once remarked that war is a ninety percent mixture of waiting, preparation and boredom with the ten-percent fighting.

On Space Station Krios, Transmat Perceptors were placed at strategic locations to identify any unauthorised breaches. Technicians standing by the machines had contact with eight squads of Internal Response teams all heavily armoured and equipped with anti-Dalek weaponry.


       Civilians were informed of restricted access across the space station.


       The Defence systems were put on line.


       Station personnel were placed on double shift emergency rote.


       The hospital was expanded with the addition of 200 beds and ten emergency surgeries. Medics reviewed supplies and other equipment.


       Body bags were brought out from stores.


       Space Station Krios was preparing for war.


* * *


With the agreement of the Draconian Princes who were standing next to him and in view, Lan informed Commander George Zorzy of the Earth Space Fleet that his attention was to be diverted from the Draconians. To the threat of a possible large scale incursion by a Dalek fleet and that his counterpart in the Draconian Fleet had just been told the same.


       Incredulous, Zorzy asked Lan for re-confirmation of his order. Lan emphasised the danger they were in, but keeping quiet about Time Lord intervention. Instead he told Zorzy of information left behind by the recent small scale Dalek intrusion, captured thanks to a quick response by security personnel.


       Zorzy's fear was not lessened by a signal from the Draconian Fleet Commander requesting a pooling of information. The damned Draconian seemed quite blase about the whole thing, as if this was something trivial, worried Zorzy, as he listened to the alien. Draconians were one thing, a full Dalek fleet something else.


       As Commander Zorzy well knew from previous encounters, Daleks were unaffected by fear, by the desire to retreat, the need to find a hole and hope that the storm went on by. They were the storm.


       Across space the Draconian commander Vess examined the eyes of his opposite seeing the panic underlying in the human,


       "Commander, I suggest we do not worry just yet. Our scanners have sensed nothing. I have sent out a full complement of fifteen observer scouts to reconnoitre across the system to give us early warning. I suggest you do the same. The more area our combined scouts cover, the less of any surprise by the Daleks. I am sending details of the areas covered by our scouts scanning for your convenience so that your scouts can liase as efficiently as possible."


       Upon the bridge of the Vindicator, Commander Zorzy began to put away his fear into the back of his mind, letting his military training take over.


       Ordering his second in command to confirm Draconian Scouts flight patterns and consequently linking in the Earth scout ships into the same web of coverage across the system.


       On Krios, Lan saw the pleasure emanating from the Draconian prince, proud of his commander taking the lead.


       "Vess knows what he is doing, Administrator. He will have the fleets ready to pounce on any unwelcome intruders with a minimum of response time." A snap of his fingers emphasising the point.


       Lan bowed in response to the prince as the Draconian delegation prepared to retire. As the doors closed, the administrator let out a sigh of relief. One item dealt with, but so much more to do. There was the problem of seniority across Krios and the two fleets. Who should be in charge, and certainly following that decision, who was going to get upset by that. He could see that there would be much political game play in the days ahead.


       The external defence of the system being seen to, now was the time to hear from his incident team. A quick call to their leader, Sarah Cole to hear the latest, he thought was the next step.


       The incursion room as it was becoming known was filled with electronics and a team of ten white-coated humans analysing the evidence left behind. Just in case of another intrusion by Daleks, there were also a detachment of five soldiers spread out across the room trying their best, and failing miserably, not to get in the technicians' ways.


       Ducking under a badly taped wad of wires, Lan entered into this confusion, only to be spotted by Sarah, determined that nobody should walk across the fading evidence and marched right back out again.


       With a smile, Lan spoke, "I'd forgotten you get territorial over your labs."


       Sarah responded, "It wouldn't be so bad, if those bloody soldiers didn't stomp around in their size fifteen boots erasing all the evidence. And one of them got a cold, too. Keeps on sniffling. Gets on my nerves."


       Lan watched take gum from her pocket and start chewing. Sarah was a small redhead frenzy of energy, never doing one just thing at a time. Even now, just chewing on the gum, Lan imagined that she was impatient to get back to the analysis and watching the soldiers lest they moved a muscle and destroyed yet more evidence.


       "So, Sarah, what have you turned up so far?"


       "It'll take a little while yet, but I think I can give you the rough out-lines of what ever went on, from the tracks in the dust, movement of molecules in the air, heat traces, body pheromones, and the bloody great big energy splashes on the walls."


       As Lan listened to Sarah's team analysis of events that corroborated Ronin's story of the fight, he was thinking of his next moves.


       "Sarah, what of the screen the Daleks were using?"


       "Aah, yes, well it seems that our beloved ex-head of security for reasons best known to himself had built in here a small set of wires for the use of anybody wanting a direct line to the reception hall."


       "To the security screens themselves."


       "Where the emperor was assassinated."


       "Lan, it's also where the hologram was set up."


       "Does that tie up with this? I've been given information that it came from elsewhere."


       "As I said before, Lan, I don't know. We haven't finished our analysis here, or in the reception hall. We also have teams looking throughout Krios to see what other systems were subverted, if any. It's a big job, Lan. Could take days."


       "We probably don't have the time, Sarah. What about the transmat?"


       "We've plotted the pattern of spacecraft across a 360 degree arc outside of Krios over the last seven days thanks to records here provided by the external security screens and from the fleets records of movement, supplied an hour ago since your alliance was formed. They were both so paranoid of suicide vessels leaping into their flagships that they were independently keeping track of everybody else in the system. When that vessel blew up the other day, you realise both sides were only moments from launching full-scale assault believing it to be the first of a group of kamikazes. Eighty odd ships a side, it's a wonder some idiot didn't set everything off then."


       "Cut to the chase, Sarah. What did you find?"


       "In short, the transmats were launched from one place. That we know from the trace elements embedded in the walls here. Given heat disruption of the molecules in the wall caused by the energy wave of the transmats. Like with magnets, it's easy to tell north from south when you know how. Add to that, your friend Ronin keeping note of the times of the 140-odd incursions."


       "So we have the times and the direction. Presumably you ran this all through your sim of the flight paths of the last seven days."


       "Oh yes, Lan. I can even give you the name of where the Daleks came from."


       "So what's the name, Sarah?"


       "Jika'more. Lan, they're on our moon."

* * *


       The Draconian princes gathered with their corteges. An intense argument was going on regards the limits of trust with humans. Even after having been shown evidence of Dalek incursions, some of the Draconians refused to take the potential threat seriously.


       "The only evidence we have seen so far is a surgical strike executed by the Daleks which was foiled by station personnel. Where is the evidence for a large scale assault? The fleets have been searching, but have not found anything. Show me evidence, then I'll show you trust," barked Ferrur, the security advisor to the princes.


       Aryl rose once again to reply. "Ferrur, Daleks are not in the habit of leaving bits of paper lying around with the word 'Plan' across the top. Dalek activity here is ominous. They do not do this on a whim."


       Ferrur jumped, "So, where are the biological packs left behind to infect us all? Nuclear bombs ready to go off? Canisters of nerve gas stored in the air system? None, and we will find none. We are all over-reacting."


       "Over-reacting? The Emperor assassinated, and you say we are waving our arms over nothing!"


       "My apologies, prince. I retract my statement. What I wish to state is that at the moment this is showing all the signs of an act of misdirection. Whilst we are to look one way by the casual wave of a magician's hand, the real threat remains where it always has. With the humans." With that statement, Ferrur sat down.


       A couple of Draconians stood up, and the princes indicated that Aryl should speak once again.


       "It is a very poor bluff, if in trying to overthrow us they wake us up to the threat of war and have our fleet on full alert. A decent magician would have been far subtler. Any of the Great houses of Draconia could have come up with a better act of misdirection than this. No, Ferrur, the humans are scared. All this activity is not faked. They sincerely believe in the threat of some kind of increased Dalek activity here. We should get the princes out of here."


       The elder prince spoke quietly, "Our honour would not permit this, not until the identity of the Emperor's assassin is known."


       Ferrur jumped up and spoke quickly, "My princes, I have informed you of the threat on your lives. With this 'Doctor' and the 'Scalpel' on the loose, there is potential danger. If you are not leaving, then I can only recommend increased security."


       "Thank you, Lord Ferrur. It is good to know that security is aware of these planned assassins. Do we have any names?" queried the prince.


       Ferrur replied, "Not alive, no. With this lack of knowledge of when or where this assassin intends to strike, I have left the fleet and brought with me three extra squads of security to protect you in this time of crisis."


       "As you should, Ferrur. An assault on us would be another assault on the realm. We have negotiated peace, of sorts with the humans. It would be folly to let that all go now."


       "My prince, there is one final question. Is this a purely internal matter, this assassin? Is he acting on behalf of one the great houses, or is this linked with the Daleks?"


       "That is for security to find out. So far all the information I have received is nothing more substantial than the spirits of my ancestors here."


       "My apologies, my prince. This is a rather unique occasion. Usually Internal Security does not have to contend with Humans and Daleks in our own affairs. The possibility of outside control over the assassin remains constant, and therefore the situation is rather more complex than usual."


       The meeting dragged on with Lord Ferrur reluctant to dismiss the possibility of saving Draconian honour, by constantly insinuating that a brainwashed Draconian Assassin was the perfect tool for either the Humans or the Daleks to sow discord amongst the noble realm of Draconia.


       Eventually, the meeting ended. Aryl remained alone with the basic royal retinue.


       The lack of consensus on action brought Aryl to the prince's side.


       "My prince. We do have one final card to play." He motioned to one figure amidst a gathering of servants, note-takers and guards. The tall Draconian noble wearing a cloak that cast his face in shadow approached the debating table. He wore the traditional green robes, but on the fringes of the robe, was a thin azure line, denoting his role.


       "Aryl, what do you mean by this... outrage! This creature is not fit to be presented to the Princes! Guards!! Take him away before he contaminates us all," screamed the head Servant of the Cloth who was joined by several other leading members of the retinue in denouncing his actions.


       The senior prince casually waved to the guards to remain where they were. At once the hall became silent. "Yes, Aryl. I am mildly affronted at your show of... initiative. What need have I of one who has turned his back on his rank in society?"


       Aryl and the other Draconian made a major bow, indicating apologies to the realm and then Aryl spoke, "The traditional branches of security have not succeeded in their search for this assassin. I hope my princes will not be offended if I suggest the possibility that the assassin may have sat on our conversation at the Debating Table in this hall, just now."


       A nod from the younger prince, "The possibility did occur to us, but we dismissed the probability of evil intent upon us here. We took the decision to preserve the Empire from the chaos of poisonous tongues insinuating our fear and thus lack of honour if we appear reclusive from the very start of our reign. Imagine, as you will, what our enemies in the Great Houses would have made of that. "


       Aryl waited till the prince had definitely finished talking before resuming his explanation. "Therefore I took steps to seek the use of a section of security outside of the reach of the houses' influence. I approached and gained the services of one of the Fallen Lords. My reasoning being that security is perhaps blinded to the identity of this traitor, due to some malign influence from somewhere. Therefore who better to use than a noble's son with no chance of attaining influence." The elder prince nodded, "We are well aware of their usefulness. However they are a source to be used discreetly and as subtly as possible lest they lose their effectiveness. Aryl, do you think that now is the time to use one?"


       A cold stare from the prince deeply affected Aryl who looked anxiously at the princes to see their reaction. One word of banishment and he was lost. Therefore he was grateful to receive the smallest possible sign to continue from the princes, a languid wave of the lesser hand.


       "My prince, I do not believe that the security has properly liased with the humans. I fear that we remain too reclusive and therefore I propose we send one of the Fallen. To act together with the human's special operative."


       "Granted."


* * *


Lan Henricksen soon afterwards met up with Aryl and another Draconian and was promptly presented with an Imperial Data Seal from the princes threatening withdrawal of co-operation unless their operative joined up with Ronin. Confronted with the ultimatum and with no real reason to decline, Lan agreed and gave directions to the Fallen Lord.


       In return the Draconian lent some of their forces to the internal defence of Krios.


* * *


Even hooded, he was a Draconian, she could tell. The azure bands on the edges of the garment tickled at the edge of her memories, but she could not recall where she had last seen one. Her sword, balanced as ever in her hold, weaved from side to side in preparation of any attack.


       The Draconian stood at her now open front door, blocking any form of escape. Being in a cabin, on a space station, one had to put up with the fact that quite inconveniently for those quick escapes, there was never a back way out. His arms went up and lowered the hood.


       He smiled at her, "Ronin, I believe. The honour is mine," all with a moderately shallow bow.


       The sword did not move. "What are you here for?"


       "This," timed with an underhand flick of the wrist showing a data seal and a sealed envelope with Lan's name on the front, "read it, if you will. It will make this meeting so much... more friendly"


       A quick scan of Lan's message and a feel of the data seal told her what she needed to know. Both messages speaking of co-operation with this Draconian. The hand-escorted messages were confirmation, any electronic note to her could easily have been intercepted. The cabin screens were not exactly heavily shielded and since recovering from her exertions against the Daleks she had not the time to do so herself.


       "Your name, then."


       The Draconian nodded, "Jer'an Ste. Please carry on with what ever you were doing. I am sure that very soon, though, we will be called into service of our Empires so I would prefer that you do not leave this room."


       "Makes perfect sense. You do not know if our source will be Human or Draconian, so if we were separated, only one half of us would receive any message."


       "Time may well be of the essence in this oncoming crisis," acknowledged Jer'an, pleased that the Human female was no novice. Even without her battle-readiness, the moment he had opened the door, her defences had never been down. He wondered reflexively, if a quick move from him even now and she would be swinging that rather useful looking close combat weapon.


       Ronin scanned the alien sitting in her chair. Sitting upright, hands placed just above the knees, and looking straight at her, he reminded of nothing less than a Samurai waiting for the call of battle. His mode of speech and attitude had been quite different a minute ago when in conversation. Those of the upper class much like the Ancient English dukes and lords.


       Then, in a flash, it came to her. On a battlefield some years ago whilst stalking Daleks back to their POW camp, she had seen a Draconian take out the three Daleks with a well-timed ambush. In her fury she had attacked him for ruining her plans. Amazingly, the Draconian had fended off her initial assault and with Terran Marine sign language calmed her down enough to apologise. They had subsequently managed to rescue not only humans, but also some Draconian nobles who were less than pleased, she remembered.


       What had they called him, apart from the insults? Something about falling...


       "Fallen Lords!"


       Jer'an broke into her reverie. "You've seen one of my kind before, then."


       She told him of that episode in her life. Ronin would later recall that he told her of his family history and anecdotes, but said nothing about the duty of a 'Fallen Lord'. He was perfectly charming, but knew exactly what to say and what to keep quiet about. Whatever, it helped passed the time.


* * *


The entrance of the Administrator interrupted their interlude. He then quickly briefed them of the presence of 'Scalpel', the assassin after the Princes.


       "I have security watching out for him, but everybody has half an eye on Daleks popping out of the woodwork, so they're too scared to do a proper job. I don't know if the Daleks weapon used by the assassin is a coincidence or not. I don't know if there is one combined plot by the Daleks and renegade Draconians. I don't know if we happen to have two separate plans after the same target with subsequent anarchy in the Draconian Empire as their aim."


       Lan paused in his walk up and down the room, "Frankly, with all respect Jer'an, I don't care. My task is stop Scalpel. With that in mind I want you two to plot to kill the princes. Get into his mind. Think like him, figure out where he'll be and then stop him."


       In front of the two wild cards he had just thrown into play to save Krios, Lan stood up and walked out of the room.


       Ronin looked across to Jer'an and sighed, "Why is it I always get the easy jobs?"


       Jer'an smiled and called up a blueprint of the layout of Krios, from the mini computer left behind by the Administrator, and waved a languid hand through the hologram, "Well, which end do you want to start from?"

* * *


       Time was of the essence. A quick call to Alyr confirmed that everybody had now arrived in Bay 15. Grabbing some food on the way, Lan pondered what to say.


       Upon entrance he was struck by the presence of fifty Terran Marines and fifty Imperial Army Troopers who were amazingly not fighting with each other. The Daleks, he thought, brought together some strange bedfellows. The Draconian princes waved him over. "We have informed our troops of the need for co-operation. You may now inform them all of their role."


       Lan turned to face all the troops in front of him and the rebuilt transmat from the incursion room. "As you all know, Krios was recently attacked by a small group of Daleks. This space station is now on full alert. But we are not going to wait here until they attack again. Instead we will travel to their base via this transmat and deal with them there. We need to know if it's just a simple factory, or something else. But your primary task is to destroy it. Shoot to kill, and then ask questions later."


       Laughter from the Earth Troops gave him space to pause and wonder just how many would still be alive in a few hours time.


       "Our sonar probes, have identified the layout of what may only be top level."


       He pointed to the mock-up on the screen behind him. "As you can see, it's in the shape of a capital H. We are sending two parties of fifty to each intersection, with orders to hold. Confirmation of your success via the code words given will then, only then, instigate the second wave. "Any questions? No. Good. Prepare to attack in fifteen minutes. Fall out."


       Only the two commanders of the assault force, one for each group had been told exactly where they were going. Secrecy was paramount, as so to remove any chance of information being passed to the enemy.


       Fifteen minutes later as the first troops began their transmat journey, Lan talked to the princes, indicating gratitude on behalf of Krios for the loan of top class troops from the Draconian Empire.


       "Administrator, the assassin is another matter entirely even if he is controlled by the Daleks. The destruction of a Dalek Base takes priority. I do not see any opposition even from my rival factions in the Empire on that score!"


       Lan bowed in appreciation of the Princes help. He reflected that sometimes diplomacy did work between the two great powers.


       Now there was nothing to do, but wait. He'd shuffled the pack and dealt the cards. The only question now was had he given himself a winning hand?


* * *


The fighting at the intersection died down, and the heavily armoured Terran Marines began to relax, pausing for breath. The dead soldiers were stripped of their soul tags and the wounded hauled onto the transmat, result of some clumsy handling with a frag grenade. Thumper cannons were set into the corridors with fire and forget orders on any movement greater than ten metres from the guns themselves. A small complement of Marines threw rubbish into the corridors in front of the cannons and took up defensive positions themselves awaiting any counter-attack.


       Commander Faraday stood in the middle of the hanger surveying the wreckage of destroyed Daleks and assorted machinery, awaiting like everybody else the Dalek reaction and wondered how the Draconians were getting on.


* * *


Baron Marat surveyed his triumphant troops. The shock assault of highly trained Draconians troops, as always, had carried the day. He quickly ordered a defensive perimeter to be set up to repel the Daleks response and then went around the dead soldiers with the priest to pray for their souls and their joining of the ancestors. The Draconians had never varied in their long history from paying respect to those who had died for the Empire, and never would. It was what separated them from the Humans, after all.


* * *


       Out on the fringe of the perimeter the two fleets had set up, the scout ship _Valiant_ like all the others kept an eye on the drones it had sent further away into the depths of space. Seeking to gain any small advantage it could in getting any sort of signal from the supposedly oncoming Dalek fleet.


       First officer Kara Maurin shuffled in her seat, trying to regain some feeling in her backside. Still nothing on the screens from _Valiant_'s electronics or from the three screening drones out in front of her. How much longer, she griped before we get the stand down order?


       "I hope so," spoke her colleague, "I mean the Daleks must know we've got these two fleets here. If they're coming, they must think they've got some sort of advantage. Only what?"


       "Who knows? Just as long we're not in the thick of it all..."


* * *


On Jika'more the leaders of the two forces conferred over their head sets, to confirm latest events.


       "Baron, we've repulsed Dalek activity here. How about you?"


       "Commander, all goes well here. The Daleks litter the corridors. Do you want to send the signal to Krios?"


       "Yes, I think we should. Okay, linking up now with Krios"


* * *


In the command room, the voice of Commander Faraday sent relief through those waiting, "Forest cleared."


       "Okay, acknowledge it," remarked the co-ordinator.


       Everybody looked at each other, upon hearing the agreed code words for the Humans signifying success. One down, one to go. Happily they did not have to wait long. A minute later came the other awaited message, "Glade cleared."


       The room erupted. Seconds later with calm restored, the co-ordinator spoke into his mike, "Picnic hampers on way. Repeat — picnic hampers on way."


       A small distance away there was the hum of a transmat working, twice.


* * *


Commander Faraday grinned at the two soldiers holding by the handles a box between them, "Watch out guys, for the wasps here. They have one hell of a sting."


       The two soldiers carefully laid down the box. The one on the left grinned savagely.


       "Don't worry sir. This little baby here soon sort 'em out," and patted the yellow/black circular emblem adorning the top of the box. "Yes, sir!"


* * *


       Baron Marat wasted no time. "Activate for a delay of ten minutes. Tell Krios we are ready to return in five."


       The priest looked at him. "The dead return with us. I will not have their bodies left in this abomination of a place."


       Marat signalled his agreement.


* * *


The Krios command room acknowledged the Draconians message and then transferred their attention to the Humans.


       "Commander, what's happening? Why no countdown start from you?"


       Waiting for that neutrino buzz to bounce back from the moon took it's strain on everybody, "Command Room. Sorry for delay, a burst of Dalek activity here. Have dealt with and am preparing to initiate count..."


       Frantic activity from the command room as they lost the signal. Until....


       "Sorry about that Krios. I've just received a message from Corporal O'Mahoney here. Seems we've found something. Am going to investigate."


       Baron Marat rolled his eyes at hearing this. Confound the insatiable curiosity of those Humans! "Delay countdown," he ordered to his troops as he continued to listen to the Commander's breath over the link.


       "...Approaching room..."


       "...This has better be good, Corporal, or you're peeling potatoes for a month..."


       Another voice, fainter, obviously the Corporal. "In here, sir. We thought you ought to see this."


       Then, an exclamation, "...oh my god..."


* * *


First officer Kara Maurin shuffled once again in her seat, desperately wishing for her shift to be over when suddenly through her discomfort she saw on her screens the signs of ships entering the radar zone of one of her drones.


       "Captain! I'm getting activity here! There are five... ten... twenty ships here! More, sir, it's an entire fleet. It's the Daleks!"


       "Hell! Very well. Pilot, be ready to return Valiant to main fleet. Comms, send message to the fleets and Krios. Send 'em the warning code words."


       Comms flicked his long-range communications switch on. "Calling Krios. Calling Fleets. Hear this. Cold Storm coming. Repeat: Cold Storm coming..."


---
To be continued...



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