Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series
Posted: 2017-03-08 12:52pm
Short 16 - Fun and Games
It was one of those days.
After so many pleas from Katherine over the years of her life, I decided she was old enough (and fast enough) to meet "Sir Harry the Magic Knight," whom I once introduced to her through a puppet show.
It was a good thing I made sure of the "fast enough" part. Because, well, we are talking about spending time with Harry Dresden, Chicago's Wizard for Hire.
I won't bore you with the early details. I'll start us off in media res, if you will, just to get to the juicy bits. It even starts off in predictable fashion.
The building was on fire.
Katherine and Molly Carpenter were right on my heels as we finally got to the side door of the aforementioned building, an abandoned old warehouse in one of Chicago's (many) rusted out industrial areas. I plowed into it at full speed. It was a jarring, even painful impact, but the door gave way nonetheless and allowed us out onto the old parking lot. You know the kind; old and unmaintained with cracks that had weeds and grass growing out of them.
We all stopped and turned, illuminated by the flames roaring from every window. I gripped my sonic disruptor and sonic screwdriver, on in each hand, and was ready when the attack came.
The creature that erupted from the flames licking at the door looked like a frog crossed with a Jem'Hadar with the size of a Krogan. Its shrill scream split the night air, burns showing on parts of its body. Pitch black eyes glared at us with malice.
The creature charged.
I had, as of late, installed a new setting in my sonic disruptor: Setting 42. And it was to Setting 42 that I turned in this case.
The purple tip of the device lit up. There was no immediate result. Rather, the result only showed when the creature got to within three feet. Purple energy formed in front of it and showed the deflector field that was Setting 42.
My arm ached as I held the disruptor up against the creature. It would back off, turn a little, and try to attack from a new angle, but I kept the field on it at each turn. Each blow sent force into my arm, courtesy of force transference. I wouldn't be able to keep this up all night.
I wouldn't have to.
Harry erupted from the growing flames of the door we'd come through, looking rather singed but still very impressive and dramatic, with his staff and blasting rod already out and at the ready. As if we hadn't had enough flames tonight, he contributed more by sending a blast of fire into the side of the frog-thing battering at my shield. It screeched and disintegrated into ectoplasm.
He walked up to us and I remarked, "Well, this is what, the fourth building we've been in that you've set on fire?"
"Third," Harry corrected. "This one is on you. So much for 'my sonics don't work on wood'."
"Normally they don't and my thermal pulse wouldn't have even gotten a spark, but when some bloody careless wizard is flinging around wind and force spells like a mindless brute and ends up spilling kerosene everywhere, that's different."
"So you wanted me to let those frog demons eat your smug Time Lord face off, then?"
"No, what I wanted was a little care, if I wanted to see someone just blasting things around I'd have brought Korra or...."
As I finished, I overheard Katherine remark, "Are they always like this?"
I could frankly hear the grin when Molly replied, "Oh yeah. It's fun." And yes, I know you don't hear grins, but I could, just in the way she said it.
"I just saved your ass, Doc, and...."
There was shattering glass from the second floor, in one area of the building that hadn't caught complete fire yet. Several shapes jumped down, hissing and screeching.
"...and apparently we missed some," I finished for Harry. "Okay everyone, gather around." I pulled out my TARDIS remote. "It's time we go and..."
A slimy thing of dark red slipped out of one of the things' tongues and wrapped around my wrist. It pulled on me immediately, dragging me to the ground and yanking my TARDIS remote from my grasp. It disappeared down the disgusting thing's razor-toothed maw.
"What did you think I meant when I said 'frog demon'?" Harry pointed out as I tried to get to my feet. He nodded at Molly. Without a word, Molly grabbed Katherine's wrist and the two disappeared from sight behind a veil.
"That took me hours of careful work!", I protested. As I did so it shrieked again and made a leap.
I leaned back, still on my knees, and brought up the sonic disruptor again, keeping it in a swinging motion. "Harry, up high!", I shouted while triggering Setting 42. The creature landed on the force shield and was thrown off over my head by the motion I'd kept it in.
Harry threw a punch at it. Not a direct punch - that would probably have broken his hand (not every part of him is as hard as his skull) - but the motion of one. Kinetic energy surged from one or more of the rings on his hand and slammed into the airborne frog demon. It cried out in pain and anger as it flew beside me and slammed into an old metal container in the lot. The light from the flames was enough for me to see it explode into a mess of ectoplasm.
I scrambled to my feet in time to meet the next one. I switched to Setting 4 and blasted another one that was jumping at Harry's right side.
For those of you who love this kind of "badarse" thing, we ended up back to back. With Setting 42 I was protecting Harry from the rear while he was blasting the things left and right. At this point, "Fuego" was going to become a permanent ring in my ears, or so it felt.
And don't even get me started on the bloody smell.
When the last one went down we stood away from each other, taking in the carnage. "Well, so much for being quiet," I muttered. "And I suspect we scared off the summoner."
And, certainly enough, we heard the squeal of tires in the distance. We turned to see a pair of rear red lights, looking like they were from a van or a truck, peel out of the parking lot and to the adjoining side road. "And there they go!" Harry took off running. "Let's get to the Beetle Doc!"
"But my TARDIS remote...!" I ran the opposite direction, going for the metal container where the beast that had swallowed my remote had met its end. The ectoplasm was already drying up, but the fires of the burning building were not a strong light to look either. I scrambled for the sonic and began to scan for it. I couldn't find a trace, however, and a terrible suspicion filled my head. Whomever was in the van must have grabbed it.
Just my luck. Or rather, my luck when hanging around Dresden.
The squeal of tires and the coughing sputtering of an old gasoline engine made me turn my head. Harry pulled up in the Blue Beetle. "We'll find it later, get in!"
I obliged, squeezing myself into the passenger seat of the abysmally small Volkswagen Bug. Katherine was already cooped up in the back seat with Molly. "Hey Doctor, I...."
Before Molly could finish, Harry hit the gas and made the engine roar its little heart out. We moved toward the end of the road. The tracking spell compass he'd used to find the building we'd just burnt down was still active and pointing north along the side road. The Beetle sounded like it might cough its last any moment, but somehow the ancient car kept going. "We could use Murphy's motorcycle right now," I muttered. "Or Thomas' Hummer."
"The Beetle is steady, we'll make it," Harry countered. Tires squealed as we swerved off one side road and to another, leading to one of the major through-fares of the old industrial park. In the distance I could make out two pinpricks of red light. Harry's foot pressed the gas pedal all the way to the floor. The Beetle's engine protested but kept going.
Not exactly the most glamorous car chase I've ever seen, or been in.
"I think they snatched my TARDIS remote," i said.
"Yeah? All the more reason to catch them."
"Doctor..." Katherine began.
She was interrupted by a clanging on the hood. A small, sprightly little demon landed on it, hissing at us. "Oh hell," Harry muttered.
"Appropriate choice of words, Harry," I pointed out, struggling to get the sonic disruptor out. I got it out and pointed it out the window as the little thing dug its claws into the hood of the Beetle, beginning to peel the metal away. I used a setting 4 blast to knock it off the hood. It screeched and hit the ground in front of us. Ectoplasm showered upward as we ran the thing over.
By this point we'd caught up to the vehicle in question, definitely a van. It had some painting on it, but the street lights were too few and far between to really see what the shapes were. The van swerved onto the main road and Harry swung hard to follow it, jostling all of us in the process.
Out on the main road, traffic was regular. We weaved around lanes pursuing the van. Harry's driving left much to be desired, in my view.
Ahead of his the van raced through an intersection with a red light. I took out the sonic and used it on the lights, switching them to green and the others to red. Tires squealed and people yelled as we raced through the intersection.
That was thrilling enough, but what came next was even worse. Desperate to evade us, the van started moving across the middle of the road into oncoming traffic. Harry glowered and tried to avoid doing the same, but as the van moved ahead of us he started to do the same.
"Can't we just track them like before?", Katherine asked.
"The tracking spell's connection loses focus," Harry explained, "and if they know what they're doing, they'll go take a shower and use the water to beat the tracking spell."
"You can do that?"
"Running water degrades magic and connections drawn from magic," Molly said to her.
Harry kept his eyes on the road, at least, but that was no comfort as he slipped back into oncoming traffic right behind the van we were pursuing. As he pushed ahead, barely, over the traffic actually going the right away, bright headlights shone ahead of us.
The headlights of an eighteen wheeler.
"Harry, truck," I pointed out.
"I see it."
And yet he didn't get back over, instead trying to force the Beetle to pass the car beside us. The van ahead swerved back into the proper side.
"I see it, Doc!"
I was certain we'd hit the thing, but at the last moment Harry swerved us back on the right side of the road, barely fitting the Beetle in between two other vehicles. The truck's horn blared angrily as it passed us by.
I forced myself to draw in a breath. "How about I drive before you get us all killed?"
"Oh, stop your belly-aching."
I would have said more, but there was another light coming, so I made sure to switch it to green in time for us to go through. After we went through the van veered off on another road, heading toward what looked to be a row of old commercial and warehouse structures. As we pursued I could hear the distant rumbling of a train.
Naturally, there were tracks ahead of us. And the stop was flashing red and the arms coming down to hold back traffic. Whomever was in the van didn't care and sped through them, snapping the arm off in the process. Harry... well, I'd say he put his pedal to the floor, but it was already there.
"Harry, you're not going to beat a..."
"Yes I am!"
"That's a bloody train, Dresden!"
Despite my concern, he plowed on ahead, the train's warning whistle drowning out my words as we rushed up over the rails. I looked toward Harry and the lights of the locomotive beyond. They were blinding. Behind us Molly and Katherine actually let out surprised yelps at how close this was.
The Beetle got through with a second to spare.
This time it took me about ten seconds to regain my breath. "Harry, you are bloody insane!"
"It's one of my endearing qualities," he retorted.
"And you're bloody well enjoying this too!", I accused.
"It's what I live for, Doc."
I drew in another breath, knowing I'd never win the discussion.
The van kept up the chase, weaving in and out of parking lots, and finally seemed to have settled on a destination; a worn down old warehouse much like the one we'd just burnt down. We pulled up alongside as dark-robed figures jumped out of the vehicle. "Doctor, I..."
"Molly, put a veil on and get the chalk dust," Harry ordered, ignoring that she had started speaking. "Kat can help you."
"Yeah. Follow along and get one laid down around them. We don't need them summoning more nasties." Harry looked over at me as I unfolded from where I'd been scrunched into the Beetle. The tension of the chase had made the sensation of stiffness worse, I must say. "Coming?"
"Just so long as you don't set this one on fire," I grumbled.
We entered the building, a one story structure this time, and after passing some empty rooms that had once been building offices were in the open warehouse area of the building. The dark-robed figures turned out to be dark-jacketed figures, dressed up like people who thought Goth garb was too subdued. They looked toward us, most looking fearful and not very enthused.
But one had the look about him that said he was going over the bend. His eyes glared with hate, the kind of deep swelling hate you find from someone who finds life isn't giving him what he wants.
Harry let out something between a sigh and a groan. "You? Here I was worried about a dark sorcerer running around Chicago and it's just you?"
"And he is...?" I let the question hang.
"I warned you to stop interfering with my dark designs!", the young man declared pretentiously.
Something in my head clicked. I realized who this little would-be sorcerer was.
"Hey, Darth Wannabe, a smoke bomb is one thing, but this?!" Harry stuck a finger in his face. "You don't play with demons, kid, you're just screwing yourself over."
"People like you always say that. You always try to keep us under your boots," the young man - "Darth Wannabe" as Harry called him - hissed. "But I've seen true power now. I know I was destined to wield this dark power! I won't stop for the likes of you."
"I'm sure you think you're rather impressive young man, but these are forces beyond your ken."
"No! I've controlled them! I can do it again! Behold, I'll summon one...."
Harry closed the distance in one stride and decked the fool.
The rest of his "coven" looked on in shock as Darth Wannabe fell over. He didn't move after hitting the ground.
"They always talk too much," Harry said. He eyed the others. "I'm going to tell you straight, kids. This kind of thing can get your heads chopped off. The White Council of Wizards is always on the lookout for people who break the Laws of Magic, and binding creatures, even demons, falls under that. Do yourselves a favor and show me how your fearless, brainless leader managed to bring those things into the world."
There was silence from the assembled for several seconds. Harry's look turned into a glare. One of them, who by looking a little singed revealed herself as having been present at the last building, finally looked up and went over to a table. She brought a leather-bound book over. "Just... just don't hurt us," she pleaded.
"I'm not here to hurt anyone, I'm trying to keep you from hurting yourselves," Harry explained. "This kind of stuff is beyond dangerous. It's like juggling with nitroglycerine. Demons don't take orders very well and will use the first opening they get to turn on you." He looked over the book. Behind the kids Molly and Katherine became visible, the chalk dust circle laid carefully around the room. "Where did you get this?"
"Oh, uh... some bookstore in Milwaukee," the girl answered.
I brought out my sonic and let Harry finish his interrogation as I scanned for my remote. Much to my frustration, I was getting no sign of it. "Now, one of you lot has a locket of mine, and I'm going to be very cross if you don't return it," I declared.
They all looked at one another in confusion.
"Doctor," Katherine said. "I should..."
"Not now." I sighed and looked at the girl who'd given Harry the book. "Which one of you went up to that metal container and fished my locket out from the ectoplasm, hrm? It's very important."
The girl stared at me in fright. "Uh... we didn't... we watched the fight and.. and ran..."
I could hear truth in her voice. Which meant I had no bloody idea where...
My TARDIS remote dangled in front of my eyes.
There was a slight grin on Molly's face as she held it up. "As we've been trying to tell you, Doctor, we picked it up during the fight."
I blinked. "Oh. Well... thank you Molly, Katherine. Excellent thinking there." I coughed and took the locket to return it to my pocket.
After making all the necessary arrangements for Darth Wannabe and his rather strained coven, the four of us stood outside and looked up into the night sky. "Well, that was the usual fun and games, wasn't it?", I remarked.
"Good times, Doc, good times," Harry agreed. "So, anyone hungry?"
"Depends. Were the Carpenters cooking tonight?"
"Afraid not. But my favorite BK is on the way back to the apartment."
I frowned. "Burger King, Harry? Really?"
"Like I've been telling you, don't diss the King."
Katherine looked at us in confusion. "'Burger King'?"
"They don't have Burger Kings where you're from, Kat?", Harry asked. "Well, hop on in, your Whopper is on me."
I shook my head, stifling some chuckles even as I, as always, muttered, "You're still a gastrointestinal menace, Harry Dresden."
"No Whopper for you, Doc," Harry retorted. "Not for someone who insults the King."
I rolled my eyes and let out a laugh. That's all I really could do, wasn't it?
All in all... a typical outing. Well, mostly typical.
After all, we didn't burn down the second building.
Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series
Posted: 2017-03-08 12:52pm
Short 17 - Justice Be Done
Katherine and I stood at the doorway of the TARDIS and looked up into the night sky, a sky dominated with the Carinae Nebula. It was a pretty and lovely sight, to be sure. "It's beautiful," Katherine agreed. "And what planet is this?"
"Oh, just another Earth-like planet out of oh so many," I replied. "They'll call this one Otrera in a few decades. It's not inhabited right now, that would have been... awkward."
We spent some time there, taking in the sights of the unsettled planet and its gorgeous sky. Katherine let out a little yawn, trying to keep me from noticing. "All tuckered out, are you?", I asked.
"Yes," she admitted. "I hate to admit it."
"Well, it's that stern Inner Sphere nobility part of you, don't want to admit weakness." I stepped back into the TARDIS first, prompting her to do the same. "Looking to get back to the Christmas social season, eh?"
"No," Katherine admitted. "Well... I am doing some good. There are charities I'm supporting, and it is Christmas."
"That is. Come on, I'll get you back home. We've done enough running this time."
"I should say so," she said, smiling and fighting another yawn. "You always seem to run into trouble, but I've never seen two sides go after you like that."
"Yes, well..." I sighed. "I'm not much a fan of the Imperium of Man and they're not much fans of me. And the Orks, well, they're bloody Orks, what more is there to say?"
"What about that other orc, though?"
"Oh, Nutt? Orc with a 'c' instead of a 'k'. Wonderful chap. That's the key difference, there. The 'k'." I finished flipping switches and took the control lever. I pulled it back without a word and shifted the TARDIS out.
And I nearly fell over from the shaking. Katherine did, yelping as she landed. "Blast it, what's wrong, girl? Hrm? Dimensional knot? Better..." I checked the readings. "Oh dear, it's a falling building. We've materialized into..."
That was when I saw the life sign.
"Stay here!" I dashed over to the door and threw it open. It was a home of some sort. The sonic was picking up powerful energy waves buffeting the building and threatening to bring it down any second.
I heard a whimper of fear and looked under a coffee table to find a little girl in blue pants and a sleeved shirt. Green eyes looked back at me and in that moment I could see she was of Asian ancestry even with her lighter complexion. "Come on, little one," I called out. "The building is falling down, we have to get you to safety."
"Who are you?", she asked, fearful.
"I'm the Doctor," I answered. "I'm here to help."
The building shuddered again. Pieces of drywall and structure began to fall around us. "Are you a friend of my Daddy?", she asked.
"I don't know, but I try to be friends with everyone. Come along, there's nothing to be afraid of..." Except, of course, for the falling building, but I wasn't going to bring that up and scare the girl further.
With clear reluctance she came out enough for me to pick her up. I scooped her into my arms and returned to the TARDIS. Behind me the roar of the collapsing building built to the point that I knew we'd have both been crushed if we'd stayed just a few seconds longer.
Katherine met me inside the TARDIS. "Doctor, what's...?"
"No time!" I put the little girl into her arms and raced for the controls. "The whole bloody building is coming down around us," I said. "Shifting us out now!"
As I finished, Katherine looked at the little girl who was, obviously, impressed by the interior of the TARDIS. Although not as impressed as I thought she'd be. The girl looked at her and asked, "Who're you?"
"I'm Katherine. And you are...?"
"Lian," she answered.
I lifted my head from the controls as I heard that. "Lian? That's your name?"
"Uh-huh," she answered, nodding.
I felt a shudder of energy go through me. "You... is your name Lian Harper?", I asked.
I could only react one way at that.
I let out a cry of triumph, beginning to laugh as I did. "Oh, my dear, you certainly know where I'm needed!", I shouted, patting the controls of the TARDIS.
"Doctor?" Katherine set Lian down and gave me a bewildered look. "What is it?"
"Perfect timing, my dear Katherine! Perfect timing!" I began altering the TARDIS' destination. "And now that I know when we are, I've got some business to attend to. Would you please get the medical kit? The full one, I'm going to need it."
Katherine nodded and headed into the lower area of the control room. That left Lian alone with me. "How did you know my name?", she asked, looking up at me.
"Oh, I know quite a few names, my dear," I answered, making my final adjustment. "And I do know your father. Not well, I'm afraid we haven't had a chance to work together, but I do know him. Good man. He loves you to death."
He'd also just had half his right arm chopped off by a maniac, but I'd deal with that momentarily.
"Now, Lian, I need you to stay inside the TARDIS until it's safe. I'm taking you to your Dad's friends, but there's a dangerous man there. Stay with Katherine, okay? When it's over, they'll take you to your Dad."
"Okay." She looked up at the engine. "What is that sound?"
VWORP VWORP VWORP was the sound, of course. "Oh, that's the TARDIS engine, my dear. She makes that sound whenever I move her. It's a lovely sound, loveliest sound in all the multiverse. Now stay here, and there may be some candy in it too." I winked at her and went for the door.
The scenery around me was polished, shiny metal. I recognized the figures, some of them hurt, assembled in the chamber I'd materialized us into, but my focus was on the one in the middle, the only one bound, held in place by a chair and bonds made of pure green light... pure willpower, actually. It was to my chagrin that he was primarily clad in purple, my favorite color, although the helmet on his head was a clashing light gray, silverish thing.
"Ah, hello everyone," I said. "I'm never entirely sure when I am when I visit you, so in case we've yet to meet, I'm the Doctor." I snapped my fingers, closing the TARDIS door.
"You helped Superman once." The speaker was the lovely, very married Dinah Lance, otherwise known as Black Canary.
"Yes. Ah, Hal, is this before or after that whole mess on...."
"....Djama? After." Hal Jordan, Green Lantern, nodded at me. "Good to see you, Doctor. But we're in the middle of..."
"...interrogating this fellow, yes," I finished. "He just triggered his device in Star City."
That won me looks of horror from everyone. Except the prisoner, who had a smirk... but one that was just slightly less than full. "Ah, you don't know about me, do you Prometheus?" I smiled. "First things first. Star City needs help."
I left Dinah to do the work of assigning heroes to go to the city's aid. "Arrow, don't worry," I called out. "Lian's in the TARDIS. I picked her up."
"How did you know Prometheus was doing this?", he asked.
I could have honestly answered 'Because I read it in a very frustrating comic book once', but that would be silly... and not entirely accurate for me at the time since I couldn't remember real fact from formerly-fiction fact at that stage anyway. Instead my answer was, "I didn't, my TARDIS did. Although I knew about this event. Time traveler and all."
"I don't know who you are..."
"...'but you're going to blah blah whatever'," I finished for the villain. "Honestly, threats?"
"I've still got devices across the continent," he declared. "I want my freedom, or I let them all go off."
"And given your knowledge of their powers, I'm sure you've got some kind of countermeasures against them," I said. "You know, that helmet of yours is interesting. Direct neural interface allowing prediction of actions based on profiles inside, yes? Don't answer that. The direct part is the important one. Direct neural interface. Now, I'm sure you have all sorts of electronic countermeasures from technology you've seen, but I do wonder...." I brought out my sonic screwdriver. "...if it will work against this. Sonic screwdriver, finest in Gallifreyan technology. How about we try, hrm?"
"Doctor..." Hal looked at me with some concern. "This isn't going to be like Djama, is it?"
"Oh, come now, that was a fluke. I didn't realize the circuit was there in time. Besides, we did get out." Seeing his look, I amended "Barely" in concession.
I didn't see a point in playing around any longer so, without ado, I pointed the sonic at his helmet and triggered it. He let out a cry of pain and confusion as I used the sonic to interface with his helmet, and through it to his brain. "You know, it's only hurting because you're fighting the connection. You should know your own technology, I would think." I pulled in closer as he squirmed inside of Hal's construct-chair. "Ah, codes, codes... look at that, I wasn't even sure this would work. You really should look into better firewall software... presuming you put the helmet on again, and I'd advise you not to."
"You... can't... do this!", Prometheus insisted.
"I just did," I retorted. I brought the sonic up and used it to transmit the codes into the Watchtower systems. "There. You should be able to remotely disable Prometheus' weapons now."
"You... you..." I could feel rage building up inside Prometheus.
"I ruined everything," I finished for him. And then I leaned in close. "Let me explain something to you. I am not a 'hero'. I am not a 'cape'. I am a Time Lord. I don't follow their code, I follow my own. So I'm giving you one chance, one bloody chance, to walk away from this and into a nice jail cell where you'll accept whatever fate the courts have for you. And I had better never hear about you coming back. Because there will be no second chances. I'll make you regret ever building that bloody helmet."
At that point I turned away, ready to get Lian and take her to see her wounded father.
Prometheus is a smart bugger, but he's got a temper too. His scheme was ruined, he couldn't bargain those cities' safety away for freedom, he had nothing left but either surrender or payback.
I was quite unsurprised that he chose the latter.
Hal was staying to his side to avoid giving him a shot. Prometheus had apparently planned for the possibility of getting restrained as he was, however, and with a movement his arm was free, detaching from an oversized gauntlet, and his hand was gripping a device. It emitted a short pulse of energy that hit Hal before he could adjust to defend himself, sending the Green Lantern to his knees and causing his restraint construct to vanish.
I was already in the middle of turning when he brought his weapon over to face me. He brought it up... and dropped it as it exploded in sparks, courtesy of my sonic screwdriver. "No second chances," I quietly reminded him before I triggered the sonic again. This time, it was at his helmet.
Set for full active feedback.
Into a direct neural interface.
Prometheus screamed. It was a rather horrible scream. And it only ended as he fell to the ground, unconscious. Comatose, frankly.
Hal was getting back to his feet as I stepped up to the fallen man and used my sonic on him. "Well, that's quite a bad amount of brain damage," I remarked in a low voice. "He'll live, but he won't be dressing up in my favorite color anymore."
"You meant for him to do that," Hal said, only a slight bit of accusation in his tone.
"No," I replied. "I simply anticipated he would. Now... I'd better see to Roy's arm. I might be able to save it."
Some hours later Katherine was yawning and ready to collapse while we watched Roy Harper, aka the Red Arrow, hold his daughter with his newly re-attached arm. It was a tough job, and required the assistance of the superhero medical community, but the advanced technology I had in my med kits allowed for the restoration of the arm with about a 90% recovery of use. It might take time for Roy to put the red tights back on, but... well, it was worth it.
Especially given what I'd saved him from; the loss of his dear Lian.
She was coloring away, under her father's watchful eye, as I overheard the League talk about the cleanup of Prometheus' devices and of Star City. Other citizens of Oliver Queen's city had not had me there to save them, I must sadly report. Prometheus had yet claimed his price in blood.
He was there too, actually, in a nearby bed, oblivious to the world.
"Doctor..." Katherine looked up at me, exhausted. "Did you have to do that to him?"
I didn't answer.
"Probably not," I conceded.
"Because, Katherine, Good is not always Nice. Because men like that can't always be bargained with." I crossed my arms. "He would have murdered millions out of a vendetta. And when he attacked me, he proved he wasn't going to repent of that. He had to be dealt with."
"I don't think these... 'superheroes' are very happy with you for doing that," she pointed out.
"Yes and no. It's... something they feel to keep themselves in control. It's why I don't do this every time either, if I went about doing it all the time, I'd become... something terrible." I smiled at her. "That's why company's good for me. You keep me honest, keep me thinking about these things."
"You're welcome, Doctor," she answered. And then she yawned even louder. "I'm sorry, I'm just..."
"You'll be back in your bed soon enough. It's about time we go before I wear out the welcome." I brought out the TARDIS remote.
Before I could activate it, Lian came up to us with a paper in her hands. She offered it to me like a precious gift. "Well, what have we here?", I asked, leaning down.
"It's you and your friend and me and Daddy and Mia..." She went about explaining the colorful crayon drawing, with my likeness and Katherine's standing to either side of a blue square clearly meant to be the TARDIS. "I made it for you."
"That is very generous," I said. "You will make quite the fine artist one day, Lian." I accepted the paper with one hand and used the other to offer a handshake. "I'll be going now, but I may be back."
"Okay," she said. She stepped back and stood beside her father's bed.
"Thank you," Roy Harper said.
"You're welcome as well, Mister Harper. Do take care." I held up the TARDIS remote and used it to materialize the TARDIS around us.
Once we were inside, I went for the controls while Katherine took a seat on the stairs. "You have a penchant, Doctor, for rescuing little girls," Katherine teased.
"Well, I rescue a lot of people, it's just sometimes memorable when it's the little girl. Everyone remembers the little girls and the old ladies...." I pulled back the TARDIS lever to shift us away. When I looked back over, I saw Katherine was virtually asleep herself, laying along the stair. I allowed myself a small smile and began the process of shifting us somewhere quiet. After that I gently carried her to my usual hammock and left her in it to sleep. I could sleep later, after all; I still had a project to finish building.
I turned and faced the hologram of my TARDIS, taking the form of a girl I had in my head, a creation of my imagination that my TARDIS felt was most like her. "Cat," I said, using my name for her. "Thank you."
"You needed to be there," the TARDIS answered. "You should go and rest, my Doctor. Your project will be waiting for you in the morning."
I went to object and found myself yawning. "Yes, maybe it's for the best," I conceded.
First things first, though. I took Lian's drawing and found a place above the TARDIS controls for it. Once it was snug and in place I walked away, smiling, to take up a nap in my library recliner.
Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series
Posted: 2017-03-09 12:57pm
Episode 14 - Keeping Promises
Katherine and I had several journeys under our belt when this story begins. It was almost her 21st birthday at this point and I had taken her on another trip before her birthday gala was to be held.
We stood at the TARDIS looking out into space, this time at a nebula that made me think of the Eagle nebula, but with purple and violet and blue instead. "Gorgeous," Katherine breathed.
"My favorite color, too," I added. "So, birthday girl. You're at that magic number of 21. Have anything you want as a present?"
Katherine smiled softly and looked over at me. "I do have one request, yes."
"Somewhere special, then?", I asked.
"You could say that. But it's not what you're thinking."
"No." She took my hand. "Much to my mother's dismay, I am still without a consort. I could use a dance partner at my birthday party."
"well, I'm sure we could..." I saw the look on her face. "Me? You want it to be me?"
"I suspect Tharkad high society won't survive the Drunk Giraffe and the Funky Chicken," I pointed out.
That caused her to laugh. "That would be hilarious," Katherine agreed. "But I think a more conventional dance will be in order."
I blanched. "Katherine, you know I'm not much for..."
"You love the thought and you know it," Katherine said, interrupting. "Promise me you'll be there, Doctor."
Seeing the look on her face I knew there was no getting out of it. I let out an exaggerated sigh. "Sure, I'll come. We'll have a dance."
"Good." She went back to the TARDIS controls. "So, where to next?"
"Well, there are plenty of..." I was interrupted by beeping from the lower section of the control room. I took the stairs down and faced the device I'd spent months putting together. It was about my height, a series of systems tied together in a single structure with an emitter hanging over the top. Green lights were flashing on it. "The simulations are done already?", I said in wonder. I went up to it and checked the results. As I did, a smile crossed my face. "Haha! Excellent. It should work! Well, probably..."
"Doctor?" Katherine looked down over the railing. "Is that your secret project you keep going on about?"
"Yes, yes it is," I answered. "It's taken me months of work and study. Better part of a year now, actually. Remind me to return to the Watchtower some time and thank Doctor Palmer, his notes were most useful."
"Weren't you going back to deliver medication to that one young lady from Star City?"
"Already did. Doctor Franklin was kind enough to provide the HIV cure for Mia. Saved me the trouble of putting one together." I clapped my hands. "Okay, looks like everything is in order. Just have to get us to the right cosmos and timeframe." I dashed back to the stairs and up to the controls.
"Doctor, if I may..." Katherine leaned against the rail as I got to the controls. "What is this project about?"
I looked up at her and lowered my eyes. "Keeping a promise," I answered. "A very important promise."
"I... well, you'll find out soon enough." I winked at her. "You know me, I always love to keep a bit of mystery." I finished switching around knobs and switches to get the coordinates I wanted. "Here we go... tally ho!" I pulled back on the lever.
VWORP VWORP VWORP.
As we shifted I felt the TARDIS rumble a little. "Oh my. Slight disturbance. She'll be fine though." When the engine stopped I raced by Katherine, snatching up my lucky fez along the way.
"Doctor, really?", Katherine asked, stifling a giggle.
"It's my lucky fez," I insisted. "I always wear it for the big things. Fezzes are cool." I winked at Katherine before I turned out threw open the door. "Well, not what I expected."
I had figured I was coming out into a city, but instead it was a structure under an open night sky, unblemished by light pollution. I stepped out onto white flooring of a raised platform, a slab of white in the middle with a golden railing at the head of it. I brought the sonic out as I approached it, Katherine behind me. When we got up beside it, Katherine took my arm as she saw the figure laying on it. "Who is she?", Katherine asked.
I lowered my eyes and brought my sonic up to scan. "Homura," I said lowly. "Her name is Homura Akemi."
Homura was unconscious, or rather comatose, laying like she was prepared for a coffin with a black bow set with a rose laying under her hands. I drew in a sigh of guilt and set my hand on her's. "I'm sorry," I murmured. "But I'm here. I'll make it better."
I noticed her soul gem wasn't on either hand, meaning it was in its normal form, much like a Faberge egg... if Faberge eggs were made to hold souls. I looked up and found it above her, above the golden rail and seahorse shape at the head of her resting place. A rather impressive energy field of lattice energy structures moved about it. Inside it had turned almost completely dark, definitely a bad sign. "Quantum isolation field," I said, holding the sonic up to it. "How quaint. And that narrows down the field of suspects, doesn't it.... Incubator?"
Speak the Devil's name and, well, you know how that goes.
"And who are you?", a voice asked. Not just a voice but a chorus of them. Katherine looked around, startled, as golden circles levitated around us, red eyes showing inside. From the darkness of the shadows in this little structure one little form emerged on the far wall and jumped over to join us.
"What is that thing?", Katherine asked.
"An Incubator," I answered. "Well, the Incubator I should say. Hive mind, biodrones. They look like cute cats with bunny ears. It sometimes calls itself Kyubey because it sounds cute. I call it the Bunnycat of Lies."
"Who are you?", I was asked.
"I'm the Doctor," I answered, bemused that for the third time I was introducing myself to the thing. We had a tie so far; our first encounter it had gotten the better of me (I like to think falling off a bloody skyscraper and then a satellite dish contributed, though) and the second time I'd shooed it off. Now... well, best of three, it looked like. "I'm a Time Lord. This is my Companion. No, we're not interested in any deals you have in mind."
"Doctor?", Katherine asked, a little confused.
"Remember how Harry and I warned you about the Sidhe and to never make deals with one?", I reminded her. "Same rule here this."
"I sense great hostility, I am uncertain as to what we have done to offend you," Kyubey protested.
"Oh, of course, you always play that innocence card," I guffawed. "Tell me, actually, don't... I can guess for myself." I gestured to our surroundings. "This is all an experiment of yours. Homura is your guinea pig. You want to test why magical girls fade from existence when their soul gems become irreversibly corrupted. Perhaps she mentioned something to you of a former version of the world where they didn't."
"My, you know quite a lot, Doctor."
"Again, Time Lord." I held up my sonic toward it. "I'll ask kindly once. Lower the quantum field."
"I'm afraid I don't see the benefit to such an action."
"Is this the part where you bring up your obsession with entropy? Because frankly..."
There was a shift in the air around us. Two black-clad figures materialized out of thin air around me and grabbed me by the arms. Looking at them and their otherworldly, hand-drawn appearance, I realized they were familiars.
"It would appear that Homura has sensed you and sent an invitation to enter the field, Doctor." Kyubey looked like he was smiling. Granted, he always looked that way, but it looked rather fiendish. "It will make the experiment more interesting."
Katherine went up and grabbed one of the familiars, trying to make it let me go. It shrugged her off, hitting her with its arm and knocking her to the ground in front of the TARDIS. "Doctor!" She reached out for me.
"Get back in the TARDIS! Be ready when I call you! Be ready, Katherine!" I could already feel time-space warping around me. However this "invitation" worked, I was about to know soon enough.
The world seemed to drop out from under me. I felt the two familiars let me go and hit the ground a moment later. Above me the night sky looked, well, normal. And around me, there was a city.... ah yes, Mitakihara. It was lit up brightly as far as the eye could see.
Of course it was Mitakihara. Why wouldn't it be? Hadn't I... I....
My head began to ache. I felt something in it, something clamping down my thoughts, my memories. It was strangely familiar, which isn't surprising given I'd already had my memories taken before, just that at the time even that was something I rarely could remember.
No, I'm not just supposed to be here! I pushed my mind against the effect, forcing myself to think, to feel, to remember. This place was not real. It was... a pocket dimension, not just that, it was a labyrinth. A pocket of distorted space-time created by a magical girl giving in to despair. I'd been pulled in.
Whatever was trying to suppress my memories began to slacken. I wasn't sure why. Maybe it was because I'd been conscious of the transition, or my Time Lord brain was more robust than it expected... either way it somehow left me resistant and allowed my thoughts and memories to re-impose themselves. I looked out at the city and remembered what I was here for.
I'd come to keep a promise. And if I was going to keep that promise... I was going to have to save Homura from this latest plot by the Incubators.
I suppose I shouldn't have been too surprised that it wasn't going to be that easy.
It was an odd place, this false Mitakihara. As authentic as it looked, there were little problems. The zeppelins in the sky made me think of Gotham City, for one. And it wasn't just that kind of problem. I could feel the slight warping of time-space around me, a sort of spatial "offness" that you don't feel elsewhere. The TARDIS didn't feel like this either; this wasn't a well-maintained pocket dimension at all. It was something... oily and wrong.
I had felt it once before.
Namely, when the TARDIS had crash-landed into Mitakihara during Walpurgisnacht's attack.
In other words, I was trapped in a witch's labyrinth. Or, more accurately, Homura's labyrinth. Which meant she was already on the cusp of witchhood, beyond my power to save her. And I couldn't let that happen.
Okay, first things first. I had to get down.
I looked around at the building I had been placed on. There was a door leading to what I presumed were the fire stairs. I moved down as quickly as I could until I found the top floor's door. I walked into what looked to be a normal office building and followed signs to an elevator door. I hit the call button and... nothing.
A quick scan with my sonic screwdriver confirmed that it wasn't a real elevator. It was a prop. The whole bloody building was a prop.
I let out a sigh and returned to the stairs, taking them as quickly as I dared. Gravity functioned, so it wasn't as hard as going up would be, but it still took me the better part of ten minutes and left me a bit winded at the bottom. I went out into the streets and the lifeless, faceless beings milling about in it, emulating the evening cycle of a city. I brought out the sonic and looked for something that was actually real.
The sonic pulsed faintly, indicating there was real life in the general vicinity. I moved along at a brisk pace, looking for it, watching the purple tip pulse with greater frequency.
As it turned out, I didn't need it to find life. All I had to do was follow the gunfire.
It led me to the battered remnants of a hollowed out building. Even in this oily distorted world I could feel the more precise shifts of someone slipping into a slower time stream, moving faster than anyone from normal perspective. It was a familiar sensation.
All that was left was to determine who Homura was fighting.
I pulled out the sonic disruptor and held it up as I moved in, setting 42 active and waiting should any rounds fly my way. I crawled over rubble as the thundercracks of firearms, manmade and magical constructs in alternating cracks, went off ahead and above me. Moving around one column I got a glimpse of yellow and white, leading my eyes to track until I found....
Mami Tomoe. And Homura. Fighting each other.
It was rather impressive, honestly. And Mami's skills as a tactician were on full display; I could barely make out the whisper of a string, cloaked from the human eye, connecting her to Homura's ankle; an ingenious solution to Homura's time shifting. They flipped in and out of my frame of reference, as if the world was a skipping record.
It was a good thing I had my sonic disruptor ready. Bullets struck the protective dome I had it generating, ricocheting away from me. I took cover to ensure I didn't take a low angle ricochet that went under the disruptor's protective field.
I wasn't sure what was going on here, why they would be fighting like this, but the important thing was that I had to get to them, talk them down, and warn them about what was going on.
Another series of cracks overhead led to more masonry and stone falling around me. I could hear a sudden cry of surprise and pain. Had....?
No, it wasn't from either of them.
I kept to cover as best as I could as I followed the cries to their source. It was a small girl, with white hair and dark clothing, although given the amount of stone on her I couldn't see much of what she had on. And my sonic made it clear she was alive, not simply another puppet of this false world. I ran up and started grabbing debris, pulling it off of her. "Hold on, I'll get you out!"
The high-pitched voice of a very young girl replied with, "Who are you?"
Before I could answer there was a big, big explosion of thundercracks. Bullets went flying everywhere. I focused on keeping the protective field up so we wouldn't be hit by anything.
It worked rather well, so I was briefly surprised when an impact smacked into my head.
Very briefly, since upon the impact everything went black.
I returned to awareness with a severe pain in my head. I moaned and sat up, opening my eyes. The small girl I'd helped was close, enough to see the strange heterochromatic eye colors of yellow and orange, and beside her Mami was kneeling over, not looking the least bit disheveled by her fight.
"Doctor, are you okay? What are you doing here?"
I blinked and looked at her. "...how do you remember me?"
"I...." She blinked. "I've been remembering many things in the last few minutes. Homura was right about that."
I banished the throbbing in my head. "Where is she? Is she alright?"
"Someone took her. I think it was Sayaka." She showed me a fire extinguisher that clearly had taken a sword hit.
Which, of course, meant it was clearly Sayaka, who I remembered could be handy with a fire extinguisher.
Of course, there was also the issue that Sayaka was supposed to be dead.
"I'm afraid I have a lot to tell you and your friends, and not much time to tell it," I said. The little girl gave a nod and I directed a look at her. "Yes?"
I actually smirked at that. "Just the Doctor." I looked to Mami and wondered how she could remember me after the timeline change... but only for a moment, as the answer was pretty obvious; aside from Homura she was the only magical girl to have been in the TARDIS. Even if everything of her world was rewritten, the TARDIS' participation in it could not be overridden like that. "And you, young lady?"
"They call me Bebe, but I used to be Nagisa." She sniffed. "Do you have any cheese?"
I raised an eyebrow. The last meal had indeed included a cheese dish. "Well, it's more operative to say I had some.... but we really should get moving. I need to find Homura."
"She's out of control right now," Mami said.
"Yes, I rather noticed your fight with her. It doesn't look like you had too much trouble with it. Rather surprising."
"That's because Mami is smart and used a decoy made of ribbons the entire time," Bebe proclaimed. "She's super smart like that!"
I looked at Mami. "You can do that? Really? It would have been bloody useful at the Air Temples."
Mami blushed. "I've been perfecting them, I wouldn't have done very well with them at that time."
"I see. Well." I got to my feet. "Short story is... this is a very nasty little pocket dimension being fueled by a living being's despair, in this case Homura's. We've all been pulled in. The Incubators have instigated this to test for the force that causes soul gems and the magical girls with them to disappear when they've become corrupted and, well, they must be stopped before they do any real damage in trying to thwart that."
"Bebe said Kyubey was responsible?"
"He is. It is. Not what it seems, that thing. Anyway, we need to get to Homura, and then I have a plan to crack that barrier. And, finally..." I patted my head, confirming there was nothing on it. "I need to find my fez."
Bebe offered the fez immediately. The poor thing was damaged on one side, hit by the same rock that had struck me. And hit first by the look of things. In all probability it had saved me from a severe head injury. I took it and signed, inspecting the damage, where the dust of mortar and stone had stained the bright red coloring. "There you are," I mentioned before I put it back on. "My lucky fez, works every time."
That got me a giggle from the young girl.
As we walked along, Mami asked the obvious question. "Doctor, what are the Incubators?"
"A powerful, advanced alien civilization capable of converting emotion into energy," I replied. "Energy that exists outside of the normal universal system. They use this energy to fuel a system that withstands entropy, that is, the heat of waste energy that will potentially degrade the universe...." I went on to explain, in broad strokes, how this related to the "magical girl" system, and how it used to function. I knew Mami would be sensitive to it, although at least Madoka's changes made the news something she could bear more easily.
"So that's why she attacked Bebe. She thought Bebe was one of these 'witches'." Mami shook her head. "To think of all the times I pet that creature."
"It's good at manipulation. Granted, it doesn't need it as much in this new timeline, so I suspect its behavior is less manipulative and more honest. On the other hand, I doubt this is the first time they've tried to experiment with soul gems to find out what your 'Law of the Cycle' is. This is just the first time they've put real, overbearing effort into it." I sighed. If we weren't already on bad speaking terms, I'd almost be ready to scold Homura for letting the Incubators know about what was supposed to happen with darkened soul gems. "Can you reach the others? It's best if we're all together to help Homura when she finally realizes what is going on."
When we all met it was at the courtyard near the school, along the small stream that ran there. Aside from Homura, none of the other magical girls knew me
The red-haired girl needed no introductions, especially not with her irritated tone of voice. "Who is this guy? He's not another fake." Kyoko eyed me over, showing some distrust.
"Ah, Kyoko Sakura. Charmed." My eyes moved to the girl standing beside her. "And Sayaka Miki. A pleasure as well."
Unlike Kyoko, i saw a flicker of recognition in her blue eyes. Rather surprising as I'd never interacted with her. Of course, I had questions of my own concerning the fact she was supposed to be dead.
Then again, so was Bebe, whom Kyoko now noticed. "What the hell is going on here?!", she demanded at seeing Bebe in normal form. "You're a magical girl too?!"
"Uh huh. I was in disguise."
"So what are you doing here, Doctor?" Sayaka was looking at me intently.
"Oh, I'm here to help. To keep a promise, I should say."
"He's got weird stuff with him." Bebe went up to Sayaka and handed her.... what was that? I patted my pocket and realized one of the scanners I kept on my person had been removed, or had fallen out somehow.
Sayaka inspected it closely. "This is weird. But I'd expect that."
"Huh?" Kyoko looked at her in confusion. "What do you mean by that? And where's Madoka? Everyone's supposed to be coming, right?"
I swiveled my head slightly. "What? Madoka is here?" That didn't make sense, that didn't work. She'd moved on to a higher plane of existence, she existed at all points of time with no links to a mortal life. She was literally erased from the memories of history.
"Yeah, why shouldn't she be?", Mami asked me.
I went to speak but looked toward Sayaka first. Sayaka was looking at me with curiosity, but nothing too intense. What was she doing here? And Madoka was here too? How? And then there was Bebe, who was...
I'm pretty sure that despite my best efforts, my expression showed realization. "Of course," I sighed, snapping my fingers. "This is a rescue mission, isn't it?"
I seemed to finally make Kyoko snap. "Just what is he talking about?! What's going on dammit?!"
"How much have you told them, Doctor?" Sayaka asked.
"Mami knows about the Incubators," I explained. "And how the world worked before Madoka's ascension." Seeing the frustration on Kyoko's face, I realized I might end up with a spear in my face if things weren't explained. "I was just drawn in, so this is clearly your show. Tell them what you need. But let's be quick about it, eh? Homura's condition is worsening, and if she's questioning this world like you say she is... then it might all come apart soon, and we need to be ready." I brought out the sonic. "I'll scan, you talk. And then I'll answer...."
There was the trill of a ringing phone. All eyes turned to Kyoko as she reached into her rear pocket on her shorts and pulled out a cell phone. "Hey, Homura?"
She had our attention. "Wait, witches? Is this something else I'm supposed to remember?"
"Tell her to meet us here," I urged in a low voice.
"Why don't you come meet me by the school?" Kyoko's brow furled. "What about Madoka? Of course I know her, I.... Wait, are you... do you mean?!"
"Kyoko, give me the phone," I asked.
"Is this a bad joke?", Kyoko demanded, ignoring me for the moment while Homura spoke on the other end. "Are you all right? Where are you now?"
Faint orange light appeared below us, growing brighter by the second. "Look out!", Bebe shouted.
I turned and looked up, just in time to see the zeppelins in the sky catching fire and crashing toward the ground. The front of one looked horrific, like a flaming face with sharpened teeth.
And it was coming right for us.
We all jumped away, barely evading as the flaming dirigible crashed into the walkway, sending stone and soil spraying up as it flew along and left a flaming trail of destruction behind it.
I picked myself up from the ground, seeing everyone lit up by the flames, and nearly lost my footing as the ground rumbled beneath us. The city beyond us was lit red with flames as new structures shot up from the ground. They looked unreal, drawn from a stylistic painting, and as the city trembled and made itself over into a blazing inferno, I realized what had happened. I could feel the oily, wrong nature of the place grow sharper as all pretense was dropped.
I looked to the others. "We've got to get to Homura, now." And without waiting, I pulled out my sonic and broke out into a run, following the readings as best I could through the warped skein of the world around us.
The others were quickly on my heels. "Hey!", Kyoko shouted. "You still haven't explained what's going on!"
"No time!", I shouted back.
"What do you mean no time?"
"Because Homura knows," I replied succinctly. "She knows she's the witch of the labyrinth. And if we don't get to her before she succumbs to the truth, we may never get her back."
Dodging flames and shifting buildings is never fun. But it was what we had to do.
I was in the lead, but I suspect that was only because I was the one with the handy scanner. We had to jump to our right to avoid a new building sprouting from the Earth, all wrong and looking more like a painting than anything. My hand itched as I thought about grabbing the TARDIS remote. But that would risk Homura; she had to be in the right mental state when the quantum isolation field was broken if I was going to have time to deal with her soul gem.
From the flaming ruins of the fake city a structure rose into he air, resembling something like a bee hive. The sonic's pulsing grew more rapid as I pointed it toward the structure, which looked to be hundreds of feet into the air. "Well, that's inconvenient," I remarked. "Any ways up? Can't a couple of you fly?"
"I have a better idea." Mami held out her arm and yellow ribbon is flew from it, spiraling together and tangling until they formed a sort of platform. I stepped on it and gave it a test. Despite an instinctive certainty that it wouldn't hold, it did in fact hold. It held everyone. Mami motioned slightly again and the ribbon platform lifted off.
"You really have been working on this, haven't you?", I remarked.
The platform couldn't go fast enough. Although it was moving at a decent clip, I felt rising impatience as the world around us finished shedding the facade of "reality" and became the bizarre landscape of a labyrinth. Time was short.
We pulled up into the structure proper and entered through sets of arches. The others jumped off as the platform came to the ground. here were figures in what looked to be a colosseum, as in the Colosseum. Toy soldier figures were standing around us. Familiars, or at least one type; I recognized the other inhuman-looking black clad models as the ones who'd dragged me in here.
One area looked like a bedroom or sick room etched out of a structure of shelve. Homura was standing in it and in the middle of a conversation, from the sound of things.
The other voice was noticeable for its high pitch and, simultaneously, its complete lack of emotive tone. As I looked around I realized there were several Kyubeys moving in and out of the shadow, conducting the conversation together. He stopped as we stepped up. "Very interesting. Where is Madoka Kaname, though?"
"She's none of your concern," I growled. "I think it's time we put an end to your little experiment."
I had never heard that pronoun spoken with such venom before.
I looked over and saw Homura's eyes staring right at me, with an intensity that would have melted solid... anything, I think. "You tricked me!", she shouted.
"I'm sorry, I was out of line when I drew you into the fight for the Air Temple," I replied.
"This isn't about that!", she raged. "You told me I'd save Madoka! You said all I had to do was keep looping! But it was the problem all along! It's why she sacrificed herself, why we lost her... why I lost her!"
The familiars began hefting weapons and coming for us. Or, rather, coming for me.
"You could have stopped her!," Homura screamed. "You could have beaten Walpurgisnacht yourself! And she wouldn't have had to..."
Twinned with Homura's rage and feelings, the familiars charged us. I whipped out the sonic and tried to use the same disruptive setting I'd once used to stop Walpurgisnacht's little minions. But either being inside a labyrinth or some other change made the effort ineffective.
"Finally, this looks like some fun!" Kyoko generated her spear and charged, slashing at them all.
The others joined in as more of the familiars appeared from the shadows. Sayaka went at them with swords drawn, on my back, and Mami and Nagisa took the flanks. "Did you know about what would happen to Madoka?"
"I did," I replied. "My question, how do you know who I am? I'm guessing..." I ducked to avoid getting struck by a swinging staff in the air, buying time for Kyoko to kill it with a single swipe as part of her ongoing offensive. "...that you are here with Madoka to save Homura from the Incubators. That you are essentially the magical girl equivalent of a valkyrie or herald."
"We're more like her secretaries."
"Ah. And I trust magical girl Valhalla agrees with you? Lots of ethereal sleepovers and the occasional pillow fight, I imagine."
"It actually gets boring sometimes, but a happy kind of boring," she informed me.
"It'd be perfect, but we don't have cheese!", Nagisa complained, having overheard us.
I used the sonic disruptor and blasted what looked very much like an 18th Century line soldier off of Nagisa's side. "Quite horrible, that. No cheese. I can't imagine the thought of eternity without a good cheese. Life isn't worth living without some Lancre Blue." I looked back. Homura was leaning against the glass of the model house she was standing in, her expression full of fury and anger. "I need to get over there and calm her down if our plan is going to work."
"Breaking the Incubators' isolation field?"
"Well, we had thoughts on that," Sayaka revealed. "It involves hitting it a lot."
I smirked. "I suppose with magical girl powers that could work. But I have a better idea, one that will shatter it beyond the Incubators' ability to restore it. I just need a few minutes of calm and, preferably, a calmed down Homura."
"We'll do what we can. Excuse me." Sayaka leapt ahead, swords slashing, and went to cover Kyoko's back. I turned away, knowing they would want that private moment. My eyes focused on Homura as I blasted another grenadier familiar with the sonic disruptor.
I moved forward, ducking under another of the blackhats' bayonets, and with setting 42 activated ran ahead and plowed into the numbers of the black coats. I took the moment to look over the situation, and it was not looking very good. More were pouring in, responding to Homura's emotional state, and the girls with me were going to be overwhelmed by them quickly. Nagisa had evened the odds somewhat, spawning her own familiars it appeared - perhaps a function of being one of Madoka's heralds? - but the numbers weren't enough, our space was too confined.
And above it all sat Kyubey, watching impassively at the fighting his actions had wrought with that same plastered on smile.
Too bad I couldn't wipe it from his face. It was sort of permanent.
"Homura, you've got to listen to me. Stop this!" I got closer, right near the glass. "They're all here to save you! Madoka came to save you! Stop fighting us and..."
"How dare you?! You come to me like a friend but... but you're not! You're just like the Incubators, we're only here for you to trick and manipulate into doing what you want us to!"
"I was wrong, Homura! I was wrong. I..."
"Why didn't you save Madoka, Doctor?! Why did you let her sacrifice herself?!"
"Because it was a Fixed Point," I answered. "Because..."
"I don't care!" Homura raised her arm and, in a single gesture, the entire top section of the structure she was standing in exploded, turning her room within into a ceiling. I looked away long enough to blast a familiar with the sonic disruptor to send it back. With more attacking I put on Setting 42 to hold them back. "You let Madoka take on a burden she never wanted! You..."
"There was nothing I could do to stop it," I insisted, realizing as I did that this was an anger, a wrath, that would not be assuaged so easily. "History cannot always be changed! I've tried! I already tried here! That's what I was doing when we first met!"
More familiars flowed in, these the ones in black suits, and I couldn't shield from them all. One went around my disruptor's deflector field and, being a quick bugger, smacked my arm with its staff. The impact hurt like the dickens and caused me to drop the disruptor, leaving me open to get swarmed.
"Doctor!" Mami had seen me go down, but the grunt I heard from her a moment later told me she was in her own danger.
I found myself held down, on my knees, barely allowed to look up as Homura levitated downward, wearing a black dress that was not her usual thing. Red lines erupted from her feet as they touched the ground. She came toward me and, just for a moment, generated her time buckler to pull a gun out.
Which she promptly pointed at my head.
"I told you not to come back unless it was to save Madoka," she said. "And I told you what would happen if you tried manipulating me again>"
"I didn't," I protested. "And that's why I came back! I can save...!"
"I don't believe you!," Homura screamed.
And then she pulled the trigger.
Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series
Posted: 2017-03-10 10:19am
There was a thundercrack.
And with it came a bolt of lightning.
The thundercrack was from Homura's gun, pointed at my head. The lightning... was the flash of pink energy that zoomed across my vision, vaporizing the bullet and hitting the gun barrel enough to throw Homura's aim off.
Homura's rage-filled eyes went wide. Anguish and fear took the place of the rage that had been burning inside of her. The red lines began to subside.
We both turned our heads.
Madoka was holding her bow, ready to string another shot. The look on her face was not angry or upset or bewildered; it showed only what I could call sad kindness. "Homura. Please don't. I can't let you hurt him, he's trying to help you."
"Madoka..." When Homura glanced back toward me, I could see shame in her eyes, shame and uncertainty and total, complete fear. "I'm sorry. I can't..." She fell to her knees and began weeping, overcome.
Even with the familiars stepping back, I did not move. This wasn't my part. I knew that for this, I was a mere spectator.
As Madoka moved forward I could feel the energy building around her.
"Took you long enough," Sayaka teased gently, walking up beside her, with Nagisa following. They each put a hand on her and I could feel the thrum of power, the power that Madoka had attained with her wish to prevent all witches from ever being created. This was clearly not even a smidgen of what she had become, but it was still enough to be, at least, extremely impressive.
Homura didn't stir from where she was crying. Madoka knelt down beside her and took her into a hug. "It's going to be okay," she assured her friend.
"It's not though. You had to leave everyone you love! Nobody remembers you! You're suffering because I couldn't save you!", Homura wept. It was clear now that for all she harbored anger towards me.... nothing compared to how much she was hating herself for what happened to Madoka.
"No." The gentle answer came as Madoka's hand gently worked through the locks of Homura's hair, twirling them and looping the locks together into a braid. "You're so lonely and sad, I wish I had come for you sooner than this. You would be happy."
"I don't deserve to be happy," Homura wept. "I've been..."
"It's okay." Madoka briefly looked my way. "I remember you, Doctor. Are you alright?"
"I am." I stood up at this point. Even though she had spoken to me... I felt very much like an intruder as the other girls gathered closer. This wasn't my place. I didn't belong here.
None moved further as the scene played out. Homura let out years, it seemed, of grief and loneliness. Madoka gently wove her hands in and out of the locks of Homura's hair until she had recreated the braided pony-tails Homura used to wear, which she bound together in ribbons. I watched the scene and felt relief, sadness... and guilt. I hadn't warned Homura of what was going to happen. I couldn't have.... but it didn't change the fact that it hurt her.
I had done the responsible thing and had still caused pain. Unavoidable yet always something to regret. I'll always wonder if I could have come up with a better way, a better method, something to have prevented the terrible pain playing out here.
Homura's weeping subsided slowly. Madoka didn't end the embrace so much as she shifted, freeing her arms to bring something up toward Homura's face. With a tender smile she put Homura's glasses back on. It was a more complete transformation than Clark Kent ever managed with the same thing; just looking at her brought to mind not a graceful magical girl of skill and power, but a wounded young girl who had gotten mixed up in this mess solely to get back her friend. A friend that meant more to her than life itself, a friend she had quite literally sold her soul to save.
It was a beautiful moment. Naturally, it had to be spoiled.
"Madoka Kaname. The Law of the Cycle." Kyubey waltzed up amongst us. "Now that you've revealed yourself, isn't it time to bring Homura with you? Dissolve her soul gem and make it vanish, just like you do with the others."
Eyes started turning toward the little bugger. I took the first step of intercepting him, standing between him and where Madoka was consoling her friend. "Yes, you'd like that, wouldn't you? The whole point of this painful little experiment."
"I would be most interested to know just what kind of being you are, Doctor. We do not know of any species with 'TIme Lords'."
"Oh, of course you haven't. I'm not from this cosmos." I glanced back to the others. As we talked, more Kyubey bodies were entering the colosseum.
Kyubey processed this information and returned to business. "Madoka, Homura's soul gem is beyond the point of no return. If you don't use your power on it, she will transform into a witch, and she will have to be destroyed."
"Madoka, don't," Homura pleaded. "I won't let them hurt you."
If nothing else was done that moment, I was sure Homura would strike out again. She would do something inadvisable, something that would push her beyond the point of saving.
"I'll take it from here," I said to her gently. I pulled out a phone and keyed it on. "Hello."
"Doctor?! Are you alright?!" Katherine's voice hinted at worry.
"A little banged up, but bright as rain," I answered. "Remember what I showed you on the TARDIS controls?"
"Turn the Regulator to one third, if you would please. And then hold on."
"I'm doing it now, Doctor."
"How are you doing that?", Kyubey asked. "You shouldn't be able to communicate outside of the field like that."
"Oh, only you can?" My smile grew a little shark-like. "I've got a surprise for you, Incubators. You're not the only ones with advanced quantum manipulation technology."
I brought out my TARDIS remote and activated it.
For a moment nothing happened. And then, just as it seemed it hadn't worked.... VWORP VWORP VWORP.
The TARDIS materialized behind me. "Everyone in," I said. I looked to Homura and Madoka, who for obvious reasons wouldn't be joining us. Neither would the two of Madoka's heralds. They didn't exist outside of this place... well, Homura did, but that was because this was inside her... you know what I mean. "Don't worry about Homura, Madoka. I'll take care of her. I made her a promise and I mean to keep it."
"Thank you, Doctor," she answered.
There was a surprising whimper to the side. I looked over to see Kyoko embracing Sayaka, looking very much like she wanted to cry. They whispered to each other. I thought it best not to listen in, so I didn't listen. I simply heard what they said. It was loss and regret.
The Kyubeys began approaching the TARDIS, so I took up station in front of the door, sonic screwdriver extended. "Don't. I don't want to disable the lot of you. We'll be having a talk when we get out of here."
"You're trapped inside the isolation field now, Doctor," Kyubey pointed out. "How can you get out?"
"You let me worry about that. Go bugger off, we'll be out of here soon enough and I can give you a proper talking to."
Mami and Kyoko boarded the TARDIS behind me. Katherine was waiting at the door as I backed in and closed it, making sure the Incubators couldn't enter. I returned the sonic screwdriver to my pocket and went to the controls.
"It's so much smaller on the outside," Kyoko remarked.
I gave her a look. "Bigger on the inside. It's more fun if you say 'bigger on the inside'." I flipped several levers and switches, moved the Regulator to a wider position, and took up my place at the main lever. "Alright everyone, hold on tight. This could get a bit bumpy."
I pulled the lever. "Tally ho!"
Golden light seeped around the controls. The TARDIS engine began to VWORP, but with a higher speed to it, changing the pitch of the most beautiful sound ever. She sounded ready, like she knew there was a barrier and had decided it needed a stern seeing to for trying to block her way.
The TARDIS shook underneath us as it struck the isolation field. With the Vortex Regulator open and adding more energy to the shift, the quantum barrier was faced by power the Incubators had never faced before. I could imagine the sight from within the field; golden light beginning to gather at its boundary and growing, the field flashing and wavering as it faced the energies of the TARDIS.
It resisted fiercely, making us rock about in the control room. The Incubators were good.
But I knew the TARDIS was better.
"Hold on!", I shouted out again. "We're almost there!"
The TARDIS kept going and the Incubator field held... it held....
And then it broke.
It shattered like glass trying to hold in a speeding bullet. In one flash of energy the entire field collapsed, unable to restrain the TARDIS. "Ha ha! Take that, bunnycat!" I pet my hand on the TARDIS control. "You showed them my girl!" With a flip of the switch I set her down on the ground. I raced by the others and threw open the door, my sonic screwdriver already in hand. I pointed it toward the pedestal that Homura was laid upon and keyed the screwdriver. It activated the machinery inside and brought the rose-covered platform down toward us.
I didn't have a lot of time. Homura's soul gem was on the cusp, the very line. If I was to save her, it had to be now.
Around me, Incubators started to coalesce. "You are more powerful than we had realized," they conceded, their voices overlapping in an eerie "I am Legion" way. "What will you do now?"
"Give you a scolding," I remarked. "It's bad enough you still pursue adolescent girls, children too young to understand what you're asking of them and what you're offering. But you're also bloody greedy with this witch business. I stayed away after Madoka changed this cosmos because you could do the harm you did before. And here you are, ready to begin that bloody business all over again."
"The grief cubes are an inefficient means of gathering energy compared to the power of a magical girl becoming a witch," the Incubators replied. "To resist entropy we must have more energy."
"Not this way," I answered. "I won't allow it."
"You are quite advanced, yes. But how would you stop this process? It is clear to us that without external interference, the inevitable fate of magical girls is to become witches. This process is natural and must be resumed. We will find a way. You are one being. How would you alone stop us?"
I had so many answers, some of them nasty. A virus that would so thoroughly destroy the Incubator hive mind that it lobotomized their entire civilization. A temporal event that wrecked their homeworld. I could go back in time and alter their development, if I wanted to risk it.
But I had a better idea.
I looked back to see Katherine and the girls watching the conversation. Katherine... she had yet to see me like this, ready to commit some large-scale destruction of my own if it stopped something horrible. I didn't know how she would take it. I didn't know how she would take the approach I'd decided upon.
Then again, it was one the Incubators would probably survive, so it wouldn't be too bad.
"So that's it then? You'll keep feeding upon Humans for energy? Not a care in the world that they are a sentient species as well?"
"We are not malicious towards Humanity, Doctor," the Incubators protested. "We acknowledge them as a sentient species and seek to enter a mutually beneficial arrangement. It is true that some Human girls have died, and some would be turned to witches when we succeed, but compared to prolonging the universe, that is a logical price to pay."
"You say you're not malicious, eh?"
By this time the pedestal had reached the bottom. Homura's darkened soul gem glittered, well, darkly in the seahorse cup thing at the top. I walked over and grabbed it, holding it up. "You talk about this like it's a power source. Energy. I suppose, to you, that's what it is." I advanced on the nearest gaggle. "You don't understand Human emotions, after all, or any for that matter. You don't have any. You have no idea of what this feels like. You have absolutely no idea, no real idea, of the damage you cause, or what you're talking about when you speak of. You don't understand." I reached down and, with my free hand, snagged one of the Incubator bodies by the scruff of the neck. I could feel the hive mind through it.
No, beyond the hive mind. I could feel the Incubators as a whole. I sensed them across the vast spaces of this galaxy, even to others, a mind bent to a single purpose: Save ourselves. Stop entropy. It is not logical to be ended.
"This isn't just a bunch of emotional energy," I growled, holding Homura's soul gem up to it. "This is a being. She has hopes and dreams, she has fought and suffered and struggled against what you've done. All to save one friend, to fulfill one promise. And this is what you've done to her. This is all pain and despair and sadness. Her's. From your works. You say you're not malicious? Then it's ignorance. And that may be even worse."
I looked at the gem. Last time I'd seen it like this, I'd drawn the darkness out myself. And it had almost killed me. Homura's despair and mine... it was too much for even a Time Lord to bear. Oh, maybe I could do it now, now that I was more experienced, but if something went wrong I didn't have Jan and Hannah to save me from it.
"I've felt it, you know," I said to the Incubator I was holding. "I once took her despair from her to clean the gem. Her pain and despair is so powerful it nearly crushed me." I looked into its permanent smile and alien eyes and smiled. "And that's where we have a problem, isn't it? You don't know what this is. You've never felt these things before."
I reached my mind into the soul gem. Homura's pain and loneliness began to seep into me, the black energy forming around my hand.
"Do you know what a Doctor does, Incubator?", I asked. "Doctors don't just heal. They teach."
And with that said, I pressed Homura's soul gem against the Incubator, and in one push of telepathic power, I turned myself into a conduit.
A conduit to press the darkness of Homura's gem into them.
Black surged out of the Gem and into the Incubator. It thrashed in my grip and forced me to hold it steady as I kept pushing. As the conduit I felt was within, the crushing loneliness and sadness of Homura Akemi, the despairing feeling that she had failed Madoka, but it didn't overwhelm me because I didn't hold onto it. I sent it on its way, tears already forming in my eyes.
A wail erupted from Kyubey that I'd never heard from him. Blackness soon permeated the form in my hand... and from there it shot outward. Black began building in every Incubator present as the legion of voices wailed in inconsolable agony. The hive mind had never set itself up to block off any portion of its drones. There was nothing stopping what I'd started, indeed, nothing stopping it from jumping from Earth across the stars. Through the Incubator I held, I could see the dark energies cleansed from Homura's gem take hold across all of the Incubator civilization.
You might think that would dilute the effect. You'd be right, in most cases.
But when it was a civilization that had never known these emotions before... it was all the more potent.
As one the Incubators recoiled and screamed. No! No, it hurts! Stop it! Stop it! PLEASE DOCTOR MAKE IT STOP!
Their voice boomed in my head. My response came immediately.
"Oh? It's too much for you, eh? This is what just one girl lives with. One. And you would have caused this for millions over the coming eons."
"Please stop!," the Incubators around us screamed. "Please Doctor! We will cease the experiments! We will do anything! Make the pain stop!"
The pleading was pitiful, but understood. They'd never experienced such a sensation before. It was frightening to them, frightening beyond words. Their minds would fail if they took on more.
So I relented. I cut the connection.
I'd cleaned most of her gem out, but I didn't stop pulling it. Again I took it upon myself. Tears rolled down my eyes as I sobbed openly, feeling the loss and betrayal Homura felt over Madoka's fate. I went to my knees and felt my hearts nearly burst; even that little bit of it was overpowering.
When I opened my fist, through the blurring of my tears I saw the purple gem shining again. I stared at it.
A hand touched my shoulder. I looked up and saw Homura's face, blurry as it was. Tears rolled down her eyes as well. She came down on her knees and embraced me.
"I'm sorry, my dear," I said to her. "I'm so, so sorry."
Homura said nothing. There was nothing to say. There was only weeping.
It took a while for me to work through the grief and loss I'd taken on. When I was done I looked out at the field of stricken Incubators, still trembling where they sat from the after-effects of being exposed to Human emotion. With great gentleness I took Homura by the shoulders. "I'll be right back. We still have something to talk about."
She nodded, wiping at the tears on her face.
I walked into the TARDIS and retrieved a data solid I'd prepared from intense study. I stepped back out and looked to Katherine, who was taking in the scene.
Homura was still looking down at her knees. Mami seemed the best adjusted, but she gave me a sad look. She remembered everything now, including the terrible loneliness in her life. Kyoko...
Kyoko was trying to hide it, but I could sense the bitter sobs almost waiting to come out. She had remembered everything too. Which meant she had regained Sayaka just to lose her again.
"Isn't there something we can do for them?", Katherine asked me.
"There is. I need to deal with the Incubators now, but if you will... I need something from the TARDIS. I think you know what."
She must have caught the look in my eye because she nodded and stepped inside.
I walked on to the Incubators and knelt down in front of them. "I trust my point is clear?"
"We had no idea," it answered. Alone. The hive mind was apparently too weak, still, to speak through them all. A few even looked damaged beyond repair. "Human emotions are too dangerous to meddle with."
"Good. Unfortunately, this cosmos isn't free of threats. The wraiths are still out there. Earth, and other worlds I suspect, will need help dealing with them."
"Perhaps not. But you can help other species defend themselves from such threats." I held up the data solid. "Agree to do so, and I will provide you with another way to deal with entropy. They are called block transfer computations. You can't use computers; they get altered by the BTCs. Your species is still organic in structure, it can calculate them. You can use the BTCs to create links to extradimensional spaces that will draw in entropic forces."
"You would give this to us?"
"No. I would make a contract with you. If you help other species fight the wraiths, and in doing so you do not manipulate the youth of any species into contracts they are not ready to understand, I will provide you with the relevant data. When it comes to contracts, you will focus on older sentients. Any candidates approached are to be left alone if they say no. Those who are interested will travel alongside veteran magic wielders first, to learn what is at stake and what is expected of them. They must know and understand all aspects of this life before you let them make contracts. And you will never, ever try something like this experiment again. If I catch one whiff of you breaking this contract, I'll put an end to the deal and you can face entropy like any other cosmos. Do you understand?"
"We understand. We will obey all stipulations of your contract without exception."
"Very well." I handed the solid over. Kyubey batted it around with his ears and knocked it into the port on his back, as if it were a grief seed.
For a moment nothing happened. And then, one by one, the Incubators blinked away, taken by some form of transporter system.
"What did you give them?"
I turned and faced Mami. "A means to avoid their greatest fear. They've agreed to my stipulations on further recruitment for the fight with the wraiths. I'll be back from time to time to keep an eye on things, but whatever you must say about them, they have the literal honesty of a Sidhe."
"And if they don't do what they promised?"
I looked to Kyoko. "Then I make them regret it."
This left only one thing to do. I walked up to where Homura was staring at the ground and brought her to her feet. "It's going to be okay," I promised her.
"No." She shook her head weakly. "I failed Madoka. I didn't save her."
"Well, actually, you did," I said. "You saved her from the fate Kyubey had in store. And by doing so, you enabled her to save your entire cosmos. I know that's not what you want to hear, though. You want her back."
"I do," Homura admitted. "I want her back more than anything."
"I know." i settled my hands on her shoulders and looked over her to where Katherine was stepping out of the TARDIS with a very important machine. "I made you a promise once. I did something horrible to you when making it, yes, and that means keeping that promise is all the more important to me." I let a smile come to my face. "That promise is why I came here, Homura. I believe I can fulfill it, here and now."
Homura remembered. I could see it in her eyes, the sudden flaring of hope.
I stepped around her and up to the device; my project. I dug into my pocket and pulled out the quantum scanner. Seeing the light blinking, two quick green pulses, made me laugh out loud. "Oh my. Well well... Everyone, your attention!" That got the attention of Mami and Kyoko; for the first time I noticed that the other people who had been actually alive in the false world were arrayed around us, slumbering on furniture. They were dead to the world.
I slipped my scanner into the machine and watched it confirm the data was viable. It loaded the data for use immediately. "This has taken me some time to build," I confessed to them. "I had to borrow and beg for parts, even steal some I admit, to make it work. And I'm convinced it will. Everyone cross your fingers, the ZedPM that's fueling it is the only one I could find and its on its last legs."
"Right." I finished my absolutely-last-step preparation commands.
Here went nothing.
With a flip of a switch the device came to life. A "vreeeeeee" sound came from within as the projector device compiled the separate data structures and prepared them for the device at the top; the quantum compiler, cobbled together from basic concepts I took from Astronema's digitization machine. The process was taking a lot of power and the only thing I had that could properly power it without blowing the machine's delicate parts to bits was the old ZPM I found in one of many spots in the Pegasus Galaxy (it wasn't like the Genii could use it, after all).
There was a little sputtering in the machine, a flicker in the lights. The ZPM was running low on juice. "No. No no no, you hold out, alright? You bloody well hold out," I urged.
The others were looking in interest. I could feel the hope coming from Homura and knew that if this failed, she would be heartbroken all over again.
The machine beeped several times, sucking the ZPM dry and having trouble finishing its final operations. I noticed the power meter on the ZPM reach dead levels.
It wasn't going to work.
No, I wasn't going to let it go that way. It was damn well going to bloody work.
The lights went out on it. The others gasped; even Mami and Kyoko, having little idea what I was doing, seemed intent on this working.
"You bloody well work!", I shouted, and then I applied a Spike Spiegel diagnostic.
That is, I kicked the bloody thing.
Oh, sure, that wasn't going to work, but it felt good.
And a moment later, just long enough to be clearly not related to the kick, the machine flashed back to life. The quantum compiler llit up and generated a wide field below itself. As the energy on the ZPM drained to its final exajoules (or was it petajoules?) three figures coalesced, assembled by the compiler from the raw quantum signature data I'd loaded into it.
Madoka. Sayaka. Nagisa.
"It can't be, how the hell?!" Kyoko's outburst was half-bewildered, half-overjoyed.
Madoka was in a school uniform, the other girls in their magical girl outfits. Obvious, of course; that was how the quantum scanner read them. I waited patiently while the machine confirmed it had instituted 100% compilation. And then, with a final flicker and warning tone, it died, the ZPM within completely drained.
The three girls looked around. "Where...?" Madoka was especially confused, looking around.
And then she cried out.
The others did too, and all three fell to their knees. Homura rushed forward. "Madoka!"
I intercepted her, holding her back. "Wait! It's happening! Just as I thought it would!"
They cried out and squirmed a bit, though they all remained on their knees.
"Doctor, what...?" Katherine looked to me with concern from beside the machine. "What's wrong with them."
"It's quantum synergy," I remarked. "They're exact quantum duplicates, this is forging a link with their counterparts. If I'm right..."
Well, if I was wrong, it'd be for nothing. They'd be absorbed with their ascended goddess and valkyrie selves, and everyone would be disappointed. All of my research indicated this was a good possibility. Their other selves had so much power, after all, and it wasn't clear that Madoka could exist outside of her new form.
I was willing to bet it didn't work that way.
Madoka looked up at us. Her eyes turned gold. She was linking with her ascended self.
"Come on, come on. Finish the link. Finish it and stay..." I urged.
"Madoka, don't go!", Homura cried.
"I'm...." Madoka seemed to fade around the edges.
My hearts fell. It wasn't going to work. After all this, it wasn't...?!
"You can be both," I said. "You can be here and everywhere. This is the way, make it work!"
"Please," Homura begged. "Please come back. Don't leave me alone again," she cried.
It looked like it was for nothing. All three of them were beginning to show signs of being absorbed by their higher selves.
And then... my hearts fell into my stomach. It wasn't going to work. It had been a good idea, but it simply wouldn't....
There was a shift of energy in the air.
Madoka's eyes turned normal.
She stopped groaning and looked down at her hands. "What...?" She toppled over, looking spent.
I let Homura go at that point, letting her hold her friend up.
The other two were doing the same now. Their forms stabilized and they fell over. Kyoko and Mami went to their sides to aid them.
"Doctor...?" Katherine looked at me. "Did it work? Have you?"
"We'll know any second," I answered.
Madoka looked up and opened her eyes. "Homura," she murmured. "How am I here? What happened to..." Her expression straightened. "I'm... real again?"
I couldn't restrain it anymore. I shouted in glee and pumped my fist. "Yes! Yes yes yes!" I grabbed Katherine and lifted her into my arms to spin her, drawing a surprised yelp from her that turned into a laugh. "It worked my dear! It worked perfectly! Ha ha ha ha! Everybody lives! Oh, how I love being able to say that, Katherine! Everybody lives!"
Kyoko helped Sayaka up. "What..?" Sayaka looked at me as I twirled like an idiot with Katherine in my arms. Well, two Sayakas... wait, that was the dizziness and euphoria. "What happened?"
I set Katherine down before we both got sick. "Quantum synergy!", I shouted. "It worked beautifully! Oh, it had me worried there!" Seeing my explanation hadn't sufficed, I continued. "Look, my scanner devices had acquired quantum signatures of all three of you. Madoka, admittedly, was earlier, I got that back when I saw her just before she made her wish that changed everything. But... what this meant was that if I could put together a device that could use a complete quantum signature and run it through a quantum compiler attached to a matter-energy subspatial converter, it could make a quantum duplicate of what I scanned! A quantum duplicate that was like the original in every way up to the point of scanning! Everything, even information in the brain! That's what sets it apart from being a clone. And it worked! And then there was the quantum synergy part, I wasn't sure if you would get absorbed into your original selves or not because they exist as... whatever it is they are now. But the synergy stopped at the link. You are them, they are you, and here you are again, part of this world!"
My explanation got me a lot of blank looks. "You sure use 'quantum' a lot," Kyoko remarked.
"It's my thing. I am the Visiting Lecturer in Quantum Wibbly at Unseen University, you know. Quantum. Quantum quantum quantum. Oh, quantum quantum quantum, feel it roll off the tongue!"
Okay, I was acting a bit like an idiot, but... it was just... this triumph lifted my spirits like I hadn't felt since... the Citadel, I suppose. Even the retaking of DS9 didn't rouse me like this.
For the first time since I lost Janias and Camilla, I felt like everything was fantastic. I had won a resounding victory, one that I could look back on with pride and joy.
"So, does that mean I can have cheese again?", Nagisa asked urgently.
"All the cheese you want, my dear!" I looked to Katherine. "Don't we have any of that Lancre Blue left?"
"I think," Katherine giggled, looking amused at seeing how giddy I'd become.
"Ah. Good! Lancre Blue for everyone!"
Madoka hadn't moved, presumably because she couldn't. Not with the way Homura held onto her, as if at any moment she might vanish. "You're back. I can't... you're back." Homura started crying. "You're back!"
"It's okay, Homura," Madoka assured her, smiling contentedly as her friend poured out tears of joy on her shoulder.
"Should I be jealous that you aren't crying like that for me?", Sayaka asked Kyoko.
"Hey, don't push it," the redhead retorted, but given the tears I saw forming in her eyes I'm betting she was thinking of it.
"Alright everyone. Time to get you back to the real Mitakihara," I said.
"And to the cheese!", Nagisa added eagerly, rushing for the TARDIS and pulling a hapless, smiling Mami with her.
We had to pile the schoolteacher, the Kanames, and Hitomi and Kyosuke into the TARDIS before we left. It took a short time to put them all back in their beds, safe and sound, after which we saw the others off as well.
By the time we got Nagisa out, there was not one crumb of cheese left in the TARDIS.
By the end of it all, we were near the Kaname house. Madoka was with her family, giving hugs that confused them for how tight they were. Homura stood with me at the TARDIS door, watching it. "They remember her now?", Homura asked.
"Oh yes," I answered. "She... always existed, it's just that becoming what she became... reality got jumbled up about it. Now that she's back in the physical world, the effect is gone. Madoka Kaname always existed, and now she always existed again. It's multi-dimensional higher plane physics at work. And yes, I know how complicated that sounds. Time Lord brain."
She nodded and looked back to me. Her tear ducts had finally emptied, it seemed, so there were no tears as she gave me a tight hug. "I can never thank you enough," she said.
"Not necessary. I made the promise." I got to a knee to face her directly. "After all, where would we be if we hadn't kept our promises, eh?"
I heard an actual laugh from her. A small one. But for Homura Akemi, it was all I need to hear to know how things were going. "Where are you going now?"
"Oh, anywhere. Big multiverse out there. But I'll be back, don't worry." I reached into my pocket and offered her one of my altered phones. "With six magical girls Mitakihara should be in fine hands, but just in case something happens you're having trouble with... call."
Homura accepted the phone. "Or if the Incubators go back on their word."
"Especially then. But that shouldn't be a problem. Their entropy problem has more than one solution now. They don't need magical girls to stave it off. And that's all that mattered to them." I narrowed my right eye. "So, going to go back to the pigtails and glasses? I think Madoka was giving you a hint back there."
She smiled and shook her head. "No. That's not me anymore. Well... maybe I'll take the glasses back."
I laughed at that.
We looked beyond to where Madoka was waving at us. Or rather, waving at Homura, inviting her in. "Well, looks like I should stop taking up your time, Homura."
She nodded. Before I could stand to my full height, she took me into a tight hug. "Thank you so much, Doctor. Thank you for bringing Madoka back."
I put a hand on her back and accepted the tight hug. "You're welcome, Homura."
The hug ended as Madoka came racing up. "C'mon, Dad's making dinner!", she urged, prompting Homura to nod and follow her back. They gave me a final wave before disappearing through the front door.
I had returned the wave. When I was done I stepped into the TARDIS and closed the door. Katherine was standing beside the controls, looking over my ruined device. "You can't use it again?"
"Not any time soon. Some of those parts were rare, very rare," I remarked. "Best to put it with the other stuff. But first..." I twisted a few knobs and shifted the TARDIS.
I had shifted us ahead only a week. When we got back, near one of Mitakihara's parks, we watched from the door as cloaked things moved from the shadows. Wraiths, the new threat of this world. There were people fleeing from them. "Doctor, shouldn't we...?"
"I don't think it'll be necessary," i remarked. "Look."
First there was the crack of flintlock guns, moving in rapid succession. Mami came in swinging on one of her ribbons, firing them like they were a Gatling gun and taking out a wraith in the process.
The sound of a small trumpet heralded the arrival of Nagisa, who shouted "Parmigiano Reggiano!" before plowing in, firing off bubbles from the trumpet that exploded and sent wraiths flying backward.
Flying backward, it was soon clear, into the melee. Sayaka and Kyoko were on top of them in a moment, swords and spear slashing and sweeping their way through the cloaked things. They exploded in flames and darkness one after another.
There was yet more, though. Something, perhaps the fear of the spectators, was drawing the wraiths in. They formed up, pressing on the four magical girls that were cutting through their ranks, and it was just enough to get worried about them. But I knew not to be.
I looked up as two more figures jumped in, or rather flew in.
Homura and Madoka descended, energy wings dissipating from their backs as they hit the ground. They drew their respective bows and stood together, side by side, with knowing smiles on their faces. When they fired the projectiles from their bows turned into a storm of energy arrows, as if they were an entire legion of archers firing their projectiles into an enemy mass. The wraiths exploded and dissipated under the barrage.
Altogether, it looked like they were a rather impressive group.
"Looks like we're not needed," I said. I could see Homura and Madoka looking towards us. They noticed the TARDIS and smiled. I smiled back, nodded, and snapped my fingers to close the TARDIS door. With a pull of the lever we shifted out.
"Doctor, that was such a magnificent thing," Katherine said. "I'm happy we got to help them."
"As am I. So." I clapped my hands together. "Looks like I have to get busy. We have some dancing too get to, right?"
She looked at me. "You're going to come?"
"Of course. I love to dance." I winked. "And if you're worried about me embarrassing you socially, I think we can consult an expert in dancing. It's rather surprising that Mister Vakarian is so good at it, but I've seen Garrus waltz with Commander Shepard. If he can get her to dance well, maybe we have a hope of really stealing the show at your birthday, eh?"
At that, Katherine laughed. "I certainly hope so, Doctor."
With the smile still on my face and my hearts full of glee for what we had accomplished, I flicked more controls and grabbed the TARDIS lever. "Tally ho!"
And off we went, another glorious triumph under my belt.
Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series
Posted: 2017-03-10 10:20am
Short 18 - Lessons
Somehow I knew going to get dancing lessons from Garrus was going to become a hassle. It's just my luck.
I shifted the TARDIS into that cosmos and opened the door just to be forced to close it again as weapons fire erupted nearby. "What the....?!" I gripped the sonic disruptor and looked back to Katherine. "Stay here! Something is going on!"
Stepping out, I found myself in the Normandy's cargo bay. Opened, too, with light pouring in from the front. A man in dark-blue armor emerged from cover, bringing a weapon over to bear on me. I brought up the sonic screwdriver and sent a feedback into the mass effect field control circuits, causing the gun to explode with sparks. I went over to a nearby box and hid behind it, finding Garrus and... yes, Javik pressed against it for cover. "What the bloody hell is going on here?!"
"Great timing, Doctor. Shepard's evil clone is stealing the Normandy," Garrus answered.
On cue, I heard Shepard's voice echo in the bay. "I earned these scars saving the galaxy! You got yours from a petri dish!"
And then her voice retorted, "I can rebuild this galaxy! All you have are the vain hopes of a tired old woman!"
"This tired old woman is kicking your ass!" There was a burst of biotic energy from the other side of the cargo bay.
"How peculiar," I remarked. "Have any trouble telling them apart?"
"Unlike you, I do not have the senses of primitives," Javik remarked, taking a shot from the Prothean particle rifle in his hands at a distant target. The armored soldier collapsed.
"How many dimensionally-transcedental craft did the Protheans build, Javik? None? Then watch who you're calling primitive, primitive," I shot back with a smirk. "Who's flying the ship?"
"One of the mercenaries," Garrus answered. He popped up out of cover and brought his rifle up. Within a second he took the shot. I heard a distant cry of pain and a thump. After he got back into cover Garrus looked over at me. "They took EDI offline."
"Well, I know what I need to do now." I looked beyond our cover to the control panels at the back of the cargo bay. "Keep me covered?"
"Just be quick about it, they're trying to shoot down Joker and Cortez."
"Right." I held up the sonic disruptor and triggered Setting 42. Several of the remaining mercenaries fired at me and were thwarted by the protective field my sonic disruptor was giving off. They went back into cover when a pale green energy beam swept over their position. "Okay EDI, let's get you back in action." I moved the sonic screwdriver over the console, using it to establish a direct link into the computer systems on the ship. The shutdown of EDI had been shoddy, thankfully. If anything made the process hard, it was having to duck from taking fire.
All the while the main event was taking place on the starboard side of the cargo bay, toward the front. Two Shepard were having it out, biotic energy and shotgun blasts everywhere. With one in red armor and one in blue, it did at least make it easier to tell who was who "Fun fun fun," I breathed. "Came to get some dancing pointers and now I'm getting shot at. So much..." I had to duck another shot. "...fun!"
I was putting the final touches on turning EDI back on when I heard Garrus call out for Shepard. I hit the final key to finish what I was doing and ran toward the front of the cargo bay to find Javik and Garrus on their bellies at the end of the ramp. Garrus was busy hauling Shepard - the real one givne the red N7 armor - back up.
I looked to my side. Not far away, a dark-skinned woman in blue armor was eying the clone and frowning. She hefted the shotgun in her hands and turned to walk away. "Hey!", I called out, but I was ignored, and I couldn't get my sonic up to disable her weapon in time.
I walked out onto the ramp at this point, having a good idea of what was going to happen next. Shepard extended her hand to the clone, still dangling on the ramp's edge. "Take my hand!"
The clone glowered at her. "And then?"
"And then you live."
I was already in motion when she said that. I jumped and felt the air rush out of my lungs when I hit the ramp. My right arm went forward and I was just in time for my hand to grab Clone-Shepard's forearm after she let go. "What are you doing?!", she screamed.
"Saving your life!", I replied. "Give me your other hand!"
"Why?! So I can be a joke? I'm not going to spend the rest of my life in a cell and have everyone treat me like some cheap Cerberus knockoff!"
I focused my eyes on Clone-Shepard's and grunted with effort, trying to reach for her with my left arm as well. "Listen to me! You don't have to be this, Shepard. Brooks used you as a pawn! I can give you what you're looking for! There are other worlds, other places, that need a Commander Shepard!"
Clone-Shepard stopped struggling and stared at me. I could see the conflict in her eyes.
"Please, don't throw your life away," I pleaded. "You can be better. You can be Commander Shepard too."
She swallowed, thinking about it as she dangled in my grip. It felt like it was going to slip at any moment. I felt hands on my ankles and, given the number of fingers, knew it was Garrus. "I can't hold you forever!", I shouted. "Please take my hand!"
"I won't go into a cell," Clone-Shepard insisted.
"No, you won't. You'll go with me. And I'll find you a place. I promise!"
She looked down for a moment. The ship was starting to slow as EDI re-asserted control. I felt my grip slipping and knew I was seconds away from losing her.
And then her other arm came up. I took her hand and, with a solid grip, I pulled the clone of Shepard up onto the Normandy's cargo ramp.
"I would have let the clone go," Javik muttered.
I ignored him.
"Where can you take me?", Clone-Shepard asked.
"Oh, plenty of places and times where someone like you is needed," I replied. "You'll be your own woman. You...."
"My plan was perfect!"
The irate voice made me turn, just in time to see Brooks bringing her shotgun up. She pointed it at me and fired.
As she fired, I felt an impact on my back that knocked me onto my stomach. There was a cry of pain and spray of blood. I turned and looked down.
Clone-Shepard had been the one to knock me over, knowing it exposed herself to the blast. She hadn't time to bring her biotic barriers back up for self-defense and the shot ripped clean through even the armor, tearing a massive hole in her torso just below the neck and sending a shower of blood out of her back.
The force of the shot sent her flying off the ramp. Clone-Shepard's arms flailed helplessly as she disappeared below the edge of the ramp and into a tower rising from one of the Citadel's arms.
I screamed, "No!" and looked back up to Brooks, who was bringing her shotgun over to face the others. Shepard was leaning forward, preparing to charge the renegade Cerberus operative. I scrambled for my sonic screwdriver, looking to disable her weapon.
But I knew neither of us would stop her from firing again.
There was a loud sound from behind Brooks. She cried out in surprise and pain before crumpling to the floor of the cargo bay. Katherine stood behind her with a metal pole in her hands, holding it like it was a baseball bat. "Doctor, are you okay?", she asked.
I nodded to her. Which was, honestly, a bit of a lie. Because I was not okay.
I'd almost done it. I'd almost convinced Shepard's clone to rise above whatever Brooks had done to her, to become something better... to live up to the identity she wanted to take.
Instead, all of that promise had been wasted by a vengeful woman with a gun.
The incredulous look on Shepard's face caused me to chuckle. "Well, he got you to waltz, didn't he?"
"I'm not so sure I know anything but that one," Garrus said, leaning against a crate of medi-gel. The TARDIS was beside it and Katherine was standing in the door. "But we can try. Shepard, about that shore leave?"
"Ah, shore leave already?" I looked over at Shepard. "It's good to see you've recovered enough to make it necessary."
"All thanks to you, Doc." Shepard noticed the look on Katherine's face. "So, that was a hell of a swing. Good job with that."
"Oh." Katherine blushed a little. "Thank you, Commander. I... I learned some self-defense, but I'm not a fighter to be honest."
"We all learn some time." Shepard moved a little and made a grimace from what I presumed to be a wounded shoulder. "Well, I've got a mountain of reports to send to Hackett and the Council about my ship getting stolen. And then I've got to get my biometrics loaded back in. If you're up for those dancing lessons, Doctor, we're having a crew reunion tomorrow."
"I look forward to it."
"Just... this time... none of that 'drunk whatever-it-was' nonsense," Garrus asked. "It just looks silly."
"That's the whole point of the Drunk Giraffe!", I protested, smiling.
At the end of the following night, once we had departed, I set us down somewhere private and sat alone for a time, lost in my thoughts. I couldn't get the fate of Shepard's clone out of my head. I had reached out to her and it had worked. I had been so close to helping her fulfill her potential...
I heard movement and looked over in time to see Katherine sit beside me on the steps in the TARDIS control room. "Doctor, are you alright?", she asked.
"I'm... alright, yes," I answered, even with a tear in my eye due to my thoughts on the clone.
Katherine bowed her head. "I think I understand now."
"You. Shouting about how you love to say 'everybody lives'." Katherine's grin turned sad. "It's because... they don't always live."
"You're right. They don't." I sighed. "There's always a price. And the waste of it all."
"I grew up thinking you could do anything." Her hand came up and gripped his shoulder. "But it doesn't make sense. You have limits. And sometimes it just isn't enough."
She held out her hand and I took it. "You travel enough and do enough, Katherine, and you find out it always happens. So you enjoy the exceptions even more." I stood. "Now, dear, how about we practice some of that dancing for your birthday?"
That made her smile and nod. "Yes. That sounds wonderful."
"Well, we need some good music on first." I went through some interesting and even bizarre possibilities before finding the one that worked. As a serenade filled our ears, Katherine and I turned the control room's central area into our private dance floor.
As it turned out, I wasn't that bad at dancing anymore.
Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series
Posted: 2017-03-10 10:22am
Short 19 - Birthday Dance
It was not often I was invited to parties. Well, not high society parties, anyway; high society parties usually don't involve heavy amounts of tesseract beer and ryncol or Zaeed Massani and Garrus Vakarian almost blowing the party to pieces. Nor do they involve Harry Dresden's love of Burger King and it's bowel-wrenching quality.
But I digress.
Katherine's birthday celebration was, well, what you'd expect for a neo-feudal society like the court on Tharkad. Lots of impressive uniforms and formal suits and dresses and all sorts of nobbish titles. When Katherine led me to the door and we were announced, I rather agitated the chamberlain by offering my name only as "The Doctor". I had briefly considered my Unseen University positions to make him feel better, but I found his mood detestable and decided not to humor him. Rather, like Katherine, I outright ignored him.
The birthday ball was.... almost mind-numbingly boring. I got the feeling that even Katherine was tiring of it as suitor after suitor came up and tried to pry her away for a dance. She turned them all down, enduring their wheedling as she did while I found myself wishing I'd somehow brought Harry and Sam Vimes to the party just for the inevitable fireworks.... and in Harry's case, fire period.
"Victor." Katherine calling out to her brother jolted me out of my musings. She led me up to where her brother was standing, in uniform of course, with his aid Galen Cox at his side. "Victor, how have you been?", she asked.
"Getting along, dear sister." He smiled at her. I got the impression the smile gained an edge when he looked at me. "Doctor. I hear you have been giving Katherine quite a tour?"
"Oh, yes, yes indeed," I said. "She's a wonderful traveling companion."
"I'm happy she's enjoying herself," he said. "Although I would ask a favor of you, if you might?"
"Let me guess. You want me to go do something regarding the Clans, I imagine?", I asked pointedly. "You've still got over 13 years on the Truce, Prince."
"I don't trust the Clans to remain stationary that long," Victor answered. "I'd feel better if I knew your technology and mind was standing ready to aide us against the Clans when their march resumes."
"If it does, the Clans will rather regret it, I promise," I replied non-noncommittally. I'd indeed had thoughts about them... but, well, I'm a Time Lord. No rush. I had better things to do, other places to show Katherine.
When we walked away Katherine looked back at her brother. "I'm worried about him," she confessed.
"Victor's mind is so military, and he's so focused on the Clans. I'm afraid he's ignoring other problems." She shook her head. "It's why I come home so often and stay. He's always slighting the wrong reporter or the wrong socialite, and I have to repair the damage."
"Yes." I took Katherine's hand. "Well, Katherine, you wanted me here for..."
"Ah, Katherine my dear cousin!"
The voice made us turn. I saw Katherine's expression darken a little and, as the other man drew closer, I knew why.
Duke Ryan Steiner, effective leader of the Skye region of Lyran territory and married to the ruler of the truncated Tamar Pact section, strode up to us flanked by assistants. "Katherine, congratulations," he said warmly. "Twenty-one, oh if your grandmother could see you, I'm sure she'd be proud." His eyes moved over to me. "Is this your personal assistant?"
It was a calculated social insult, but when you're a Time Lord you don't particularly feel the barbs of mere dukes. I smiled at him. "Somewhat, I suppose. I did pull her out of that quicksand on Layama 12."
"And then I had to pull you out," Katherine pointed out, smiling widely. We looked at each other.
"Yes, so it's probably more accurate to say we're each other's personal assistants," I remarked, looking back to Ryan.
He took the retort in stride. "Ah, you must be the mysterious Doctor." Ryan smiled widely. "You haven't aged at all, sir. It's been what... nearly twenty years since you saved my dear cousins from that extremist?"
"He was one of yours, wasn't he?", I asked.
"Oh, no. That was before the people of Skye looked to me as their defender," Ryan remarked smoothly. "They would never raise their hands against my cousin these days."
"Of course not. It would look rather... bad on all concerned, wouldn't it?"
"indeed." Ryan looked to Katherine. "Katherine, I've been trying to get through to you for weeks. I have a business proposal that I'm sure you..."
"I'm not interested, cousin," Katherine snapped. "I have no idea what games you're up to now, but I know it' s not something I want to be a part of."
Ryan sighed and shook his head. "Katherine, I would rather you see my side in this. I'm trying to protect the people of Skye. And my wife's world is under Clan occupation, her people have suffered so much..."
"I wish I could believe you meant well, cousin, but I know better. You want power. And you don't care that the only way to become Archon would involve destroying the Federated Commonwealth my parents formed." Katherine pulled at my arm. "I've nothing more to say."
"Cousin, I fear you'll come to regret...." Ryan stopped himself at that point, undoubtedly aware that others might hear what he was saying.
"He must think me an idiot," Katherine grumbled as she led me toward the center of the ballroom. "He's been after the throne for years."
"Yes. Undoubtedly he sees you as a valuable ally against your mother and brother," I replied in a low voice. In my mind I thought of how the timeline would have originally gone. Katherine would, indeed, have allied with Ryan... and then encouraged her brother to assassinate him to remove him as a rival.
But that Katherine - no, she was 'Katrina', wasn't she? - was not my Katherine. My Katherine had shifted her ambitions after a lifetime of dreaming about the wonders I'd promised to show her for being a "good girl". She eschewed all titles, all Inner Sphere propriety, when we traveled; she was simply Katherine Steiner-Davion, the Doctor's traveling Companion. She believed in helping people and encouraged me to always think the same way.
In short, she was everything that Katrina Steiner-Davion was not.
"Well, let's see how these feet do, eh?", I said to her. "Time to dance, my dear?"
"Yes, very much," Katherine agreed.
We went off to the dance floor and, as eyes came around to focus on us, we took to it as we had practiced and kept pace, never faltering. As we twirled around I smiled at her. "Happy Birthday, Katherine."
"Thank you, Doctor," she replied. "This was the best birthday gift you've ever given me."
I raised an eyebrow. "Even better than your 10th Birthday and the trip to see the ponies of Equestria?"
Katherine giggled in reply. "Yes. Even better than that." We twisted around once more. "Sometimes I wish I never had to come back," she admitted. "I hate having to deal with the court and men like my cousin. I'd give up all of my titles in a heartbeat if I didn't feel like it would be abandoning my family."
I nodded at her. "I know. Don't worry about it, though. No matter how restrictive being Princess of the Commonwealth can be, remember the TARDIS is always going to be there to take you away from this whenever you need."
"Yes." There was a tear in her eye. "And that is the greatest gift you've ever given me."
Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series
Posted: 2017-03-11 08:59am
Episode 15 - The Adventure of the Quiet Death
Snow crunched under our feet as I escorted Katherine out of the TARDIS. Over her blouse and dress she had a heavy winter coat that fit the times while I had made sure to don a similar coat with a black bowtie. "You never wear ties," she said to me once we were out in the cold winter air.
"Oh, I do when it helps to fit in better," I answered with a smile.
"Where are we?", Katherine asked, looking up into a gas-lit lantern. "This looks very old."
"Oh indeed it is." I smiled and led her out of the alley and into the street, where a horse-drawn carriage rambled on by. "Welcome, my dear, to the City of London circa... 1892, I think."
Katherine blinked at him. "Really? The wonders of the all of the cosmoses and you bring me to Victorian London?"
"Well, why not?", I asked. "Victoria Regina and all. The heart of the Empire on which the sun never sets."
"Because God didn't trust the British in the dark," Katherine retorted, smiling.
I mimicked a pain in my left heart. "Oh, such a terrible barb. Although I do believe half of your blood is mostly English stock, isn't it? All of that love for Arthurian motif over on New Avalon?"
"Descended from French through English, actually." Katherine looked around. "I thought it would be a bit more dirty. No environmental regulations and the like."
"Well, this is hardly the Black Pearl," I remarked. "Rather nasty world... but not that bad. But we are in one of the wealthier districts of the city, they do want to keep it looking nice." We walked along the road, taking in the sight of fancy houses. "So, shall we find a high class entertainment to enjoy? Perfect for that authentic Victorian England experience."
"Well, I suppose so. Should be interesting from a historical perspective, anyway."
We walked along, spying the lovely houses along the way. In the distance the steam whistles of coal-burning steamboats signaled our proximity to the Thames. A louder whistle spoke of a railroad not far from our location either, and around us carriages occasionally clattered their way down the streets, their drivers bundled up in thick winter coats. The winter air was brisk, a little bit of a bite to it, but altogether nothing compared to winter climes that a Tharkadische like Katherine knew all too well.
"If it's not the wonders of space it's something out of a history holo," Katherine finally said. "Do you think we'll ever run out of things to see?"
"Through six dimensions of space-time? I don't think anyone can live long enough to see it all." I nodded to a passing man. "Good evening, sir." He gave me a nod and reply in return. "It should be New Year's soon, it would be interesting to visit Her Majesty. Preferably with no werewolves this time." I winked at Katherine. "Then again, I'd rather not give her the excuse to create Torchwood."
"Some day you will have to tell me about all of these things, Doctor."
"Some day, perhaps I shall. A birthday gift, maybe..." I began to think to myself on just how I could explain everything to Katherine - everything I hadn't yet - as we rounded a street corner. A glance at city signs told me we were drawing closer to the heart of London, the Strand and the Mall almost in our sights.
My sonic came to life in my pocket. I reached in and pulled it out, drawing Katherine's attention. "Doctor?"
"Well well, what have we here?", I murmured. The purple tip of the sonic lit up again as I ran a scan. "Temporal energies... oi, not good."
"Are you saying there's some kind of.. time tear here?", Katherine asked.
"Could be any number of things. A time machine... oh, wouldn't that be something, if we were meeting a fellow with one of those. Haven't met many solitary time travelers yet." I held the sonic out. "This way, my dear."
The sonic led us around the corner once more and to a fine-looking city house. "Pennington Place," I read on the sign beside the main door. There was a tradesman's entrance around the side where I noticed a carriage pull up and permit a trio of figures to emerge, all in heavy winter coats. I didn't make out who they were as they disappeared around the corner of the building. "This way my dear." We walked up and around to the entrance, where I knocked.
"What are you doing?", Katherine asked.
"The source of the signature is coming from inside the building," I replied. I reached for my psychic paper as the door opened. A portly woman with graying hair answered. "Good evening, ma'am, I was..."
"We already have the inspectors called for," the woman said irritably. "I won't have another of you muckin' out my poor master's house and makin' a nuisance of yourselves."
As she went to shut the door Katherine took a step up and stopped her. "On the contrary. You will show the Doctor all the proper courtesy of a guest," Katherine declared in the air of, well, the Princess of the Federated Commonwealth dressing down a misbehaving palace servant. "He has come all this way to aid your master in his problem and you will not throw him back out into the cold!"
Whatever resistance the woman had to us, it melted as the snow before Katherine's glare and demeanor. One could see the wires in her head flickering as years of education in bowing to the wishes of the upper class kicked in. "Oh, my apologies madame. I'm just so terribly upset about the old master and his fine child, I..."
"The Doctor and I will overlook this discourtesy if you will so kindly move out of the way." Katherine's expression remained cold and strict as the servant did just that, allowing us entry into the house. Katherine shed her winter coat and, in the process, nudged me in the ribs to prompt me to do the same. I did so, revealing her light blue blouse and dress and my customary dark blue jacket with blue shirt and light blue vest underneath. The woman took our coats. "Everyone is in the parlor," she said. Now that we were closer I could see the red in her eyes; she had been crying. "Please follow me."
We did so, staying a few steps behind. "I suspect their problem doesn't involve a temporal tear," I whispered to Katherine. "Still, it might prove an interesting diversion..."
We were admitted to the parlor. "Gentlemen, this is..." The serving lady struggled for a moment. "...the Doctor, and his fine young... assistant."
When we entered I looked around. There were two finally dressed ladies present, two more men in fine robes -clearly residents of the house as well - and four men in cloaks with a metropolitan policeman - a rather stereotypical "Bobbie" - with them. Two were clearly inspectors while the other two... "Oh ho ho," I murmured to Katherine. "This is good."
And to cap it off, the oldest man in the room was seated in a chair... and rather clearly dead. I looked over him. His expression was one of terror. "Oh my, poor chap looks like he was literally scared to death."
"And who might you be, sir?", the oldest of the gentlemen present - or rather still alive - asked. He looked to the others. "Did anyone else call for a detective as well?"
"Sorry, I couldn't help but notice your troubles, had to take a look," I answered. I took a step into the room, looking around it. No indications of a struggle were evident. "I promise I am free of charge, I am simply investigating a... potentially related matter."
"I am entirely familiar with all private and public detectives in the City," the tall man declared. "And I have never heard of one who has adopted the title of 'the Doctor'."
Katherine crossed her arms. "Maybe it's because he's very good at keeping a low profile. And we do travel I must add."
A condescending look crossed the man's face. "That I can believe, my lady. Might I ask where your family resided in Germany?"
Katherine gave him a confused look. "Excuse me, sir?"
"Your accent, while impeccable in its English, still shows the distinct qualities of German pronunciation from learning that language as a child. Given your bearing and refined speech, you are clearly a member of one of the noble houses of Germany, likely one with English ties, although I am quite certain you are not of Her Majesty's family given my knowledge of their issue." He turned his head to me. "By the same token, sir, your English accent is quite refined while your personal speech shows a certain bluntness that speaks to a practical man who is often not in the company of the more soft-spoken classes."
Katherine stared in wonderment while I smiled. "Rather marvelous. Oh, quite marvelous. It is an honor, sir." I extended my hand toward him.
"Doctor... do you know this man?", Katherine asked.
"Oh, of course. I should think I would know those hawkish features anywhere. Not to mention that brilliant deductive reasoning." I stepped forward. "My dear Katherine, allow me to introduce these fine gentlemen to you. This gentleman is none other than Sherlock Holmes, the finest deductive mind of his time, with his companion and chronicler Doctor John Watson."
I might be pardoned a certain manic giddiness. There are not many Humans with the mind and senses to be near Time Lords, and here I was standing with one, the great Sherlock Holmes himself. In the middle of a murder mystery no less!
Well, okay, it might not be a murder mystery, but it was close enough.
Katherine was rather stunned while Holmes took my hand. It wasn't from any warmth of course. Rather, I offered him another mystery to go with this one, and his brain demanded mysteries to solve to ease the agonizing ennui he so often succumbed to. It was no wonder the man took cocaine. In a timeframe before it was considered a bad drug, I will hasten to add.
"I see you are familiar with my reputation and that of my friend Doctor Watson," Holmes said in his strong English tone. "I must say you have me at a disadvantage, sir."
"Yes, well, I am not nearly as public. Usually. As for my traveling companion, her name is Katherine Steiner-Davion. She is an adopted neice of mine."
There was a clearing of a throat. "Gentlemen, a man has died under suspicious circumstances," the lead police inspector reminded us. Something about his pinched in features made me think of a ferret.
"It is quite all right, Inspector Lestrade." Holmes motioned to the man. "I have already made my examinations of Sir Theodore's remains and Doctor Watson will, I think, concur that heart failure was the cause. He died of extreme fright."
"Or at least died while frightened," I added. Looking around at the accoutrements of a well-to-do Englishman of the late Victorian period, I gathered facts from what he had present around. "A hunter, I see. East Africa?"
"Yes, the Serengeti, given the lion skin."
"And India. The tusk isn't right for an African elephant."
"My uncle Theodore was with the Colonial Office," one of the younger men replied. "He invested well in the colonies and was wealthy when he returned home."
"These are Cecil and Rodney Pennington, the brother and nephew of Sir Theodore," Lestrade said. Indicating the older of the two ladies, he continude, "And Mary and Elizabeth Pennington, the younger sisters."
"There is no Mrs. Pennington in either case?", I inquired.
"Our dear wives departed us in the past year," Cecil Pennington lamented.
"And what of Theodore's son?", I asked.
Holmes looked with interest at Cecil. "A son? You had not mentioned that."
Cecil shrugged. "Oh, poor Peter. He's not well in his mind, sir. Not well at all. He barely recognized his father on the best of days."
"I see." Holmes' keen eyes scanned the room again. "Who has moved the curtain?"
My eyes looked over to the curtain showing the snowy city outside. It had indeed moved by several centimeters. My eyes narrowed as I looked to Katherine, who shrugged. No one was stepping up to take responsibility either.
"Oh, please Holmes, the curtain?" Lestrade shook his head. "Come along, Inspector Loughlin. I shall show you proper police work. Everyone with me to the parlor, we shall have questions answered."
They all filed out of the room, leaving me and Katherine. "Sherlock Holmes?", Katherine asked, incredulous.
"Of course," I answered. "Why not?" I pulled out the sonic screwdriver. "Please mind the door."
"Mind the door for what reason, sir?"
We both turned and saw Holmes and Watson re-entering. I saw Watson's hand going for his pocket and undoubtedly his revolver. "There will be no need for that, Doctor Watson," I said, holding my sonic up. "I simply wanted privacy for the use of my little tool here."
Holmes looked at it with intrigue. "An interesting device, sir. How would you use it?"
"Oh, the sonic screwdriver is quite versatile, and has many uses." I held it to the late Sir Theodore Pennington and turned it on. The purple tip lit up and the soft whirring sound of the screwdriver replied to me. I glanced at the small display built into the base. "Heart failure, as expected. And I see we have some damage to the man's liver. Heavy drinker, but not enough damage for it to be a lifelong habit."
"Bourbon and rum, as well as champagne," Holmes recited, although it was clear he was more interested in the sonic screwdriver. I looked up and followed his eyes to the bottles on the shelf, beside a set of papers and a pen as well as other minor things. "And I shall note that the maid is the only servant in the house despite sufficient room for two more."
"Suggesting Sir Theodore's wealth was running low," I murmured. I leaned in and smelled his mouth. While there was already the pungent odor of death and the unfortunate release of bladder and bowels that usually accompanied it I detected a hint of another odor still in his mouth. "He has had quite a quantity of rum tonight, I'd wager."
"Yet there is no glass near him." Holmes looked at the glass cabinent. "And all glasses in the room are fresh."
"I can look for the maid and ask," Katherine offered.
"Stay put for the moment, young lady, until we settle things," Holmes insisted. I looked up from where I was finishing my examination of the dead man to see Holmes standing at the curtains. "They have been moved, as I suspected. At least half an inch. Yet none were near them to move them."
I found that curious so I looked up and over at where he was standing. It was a good ten feet across the room from the deceased's chair. My eyes narrowed as I looked, intently, at the carpet at Holmes' feet. "I agree," I said. "The carpet fibers at that side are slightly compressed from someone standing on them recently and at some length."
Holmes knelt over and pulled a magnifying looking glass from his jacket pocket. He looked at the carpet himself. The very image of that.... oh, I felt a chill then. I was working a possible murder mystery with Sherlock Holmes himself.
It had been quite a while since I felt that giddy rush of getting to work with such a titan.
Holmes stood to his full height again. He turned to me and I could see his eyes burn with fierce curiosity. "What are you, Doctor?"
"I beg your pardon, sir?"
Holmes stepped across the distance quickly and faced me directly. "You are correct. The fibers are compressed from someone standing upon them recently and at length. But the compression is a a slight one, indeed of such slightness that I could barely perceive them despite using my glass and being on top of them. You perceived them from ten feet away, Doctor. That is a feat that no Human eye could reasonably accomplish."
"Are you implying the Doctor is some sort of... space alien?", Katherine asked, with not a hint of irony in her voice. She was quie good at that.
"I have no facts to imply anything, my lady, save that you are most assuredly Human and the Doctor is beyond Human."
I nodded and looked to Watson who was still plainly ready to draw his revolver. "Doctor Watson, do you have your stethoscope with you?"
"I do," he confirmed.
I walked over and got into a vacant seat. I deftly slipped open two of the buttons on my shirt. "Would you be so kind as to listen to my heart?"
Watson nodded and took the 19th Century tool out of his bag. He walked up and slipped it into my shirt over the heart. I could see the quizzical look on his face so I took his hand and moved it to the other side of my chest. His eyes widened with shock. "My God...", he breathed.
"Watson?" There was unmistakeable urgency in Holmes' voice.
"This is impossible, Holmes," Watson insisted. "This man has two hearts!"
Holmes rushed over and took the earpieces from Watson. He listened as I moved the receiver over both of my hearts. "How remarkable," he murmured as we looked eye to eye. "What are you, sir?"
"I am a Time Lord," I answered quietly. "We come from a planet called Gallifrey. I travel in a craft called the TARDIS that allows me to traverse six dimensions of space-time." I looked over at Katherine. "Katherine is my traveling companion and a Human like you."
"But not of our world either," Holmes reasoned. "Some... alternate world then? The daughter in an aristocracy?"
I nodded. "She travels with me sometimes, when she is not busy with her duties to her family and the interstellar empire they rule."
"Amazing," Holmes said. But I could see some of the interest was fading. One mystery solved by a quick observation and now he was focusing on the other mystery at hand; the death of Sir Theodore Pennington. I suspected that once this mystery was done he would take a step back and allow his curiosity about what I had said to lay claim to his mind. "And your tools are the product of your advanced society?"
"Then, sir, why are you here?"
I help up the sonic. "Because there is something in this house that drew my attention. And it may even have something to do with this man's death. I came to investigate that."
"Then we should continue the investigation," Holmes said, standing up fully while I re-buttoned my shirt. "The maid, Miss Hagerty, has not yet been questioned. And she may know something more of the house."
"I got the distinct feeling she was in grief over her employer's death and worried for the boy Peter," I said. "Perhaps we..."
And that was when we were interrupted by the scream.
Everyone had scrambled into the kitchen by following the scream. We arrived just after Lestrade and the others. He was leaning over the body of the maid Miss Hagerty, her face contorted into absolute terror. A broken decanter was near her body. "Poor Hagerty," Mary Pennington said. "She was a kind soul."
I leaned over, drawing a dirty look from Lestrade as I breathed in the odor in her mouth. "Rum," I said. I looked back to Holmes. "Just like Sir Theodore."
"Are you suggesting, sir, that someone poisoned them?", Cecil Pennington demanded.
"Nothing is being suggested," Holmes replied. "The facts of the case are being compiled... and what have we here?"
Holmes knelt down beside me and pulled open the late maid's hand. A strip of paper was in it. He pulled it out and read it. "'Protect my boy.' And it is in the late Sir Theodore's handwriting."
While they spoke I stood up and kept my sonic screwdriver in my palm. But there was no point in using it; all of the glasses in the kitchen were now soaking in a tub. If there had been any poison in the rum, it would be beyond detection now. I looked back and scanned one of the shards of the broken decanter, but there was nothing.
"Can you prove poison, Holmes?", Lestrade asked pointedly.
"I can prove nothing yet, Inspector. We need more data!"
"Where is young Peter Pennington?", I asked.
"Upstairs, in his room," Rodney said. "You musn't disturb my cousin, sir, he is not right in his mind."
Watson took his turn, asking, "How old is the lad? Are there indications of what is wrong with him?"
"He is sullen and withdrawn," Elizabeth Pennington complained. "He wouldn't even stay around his poor father."
"The boy is five years as of last month," Cecil clarified, noticing that even Lestrade wasn't satisfied with the stonewalling.
Indeed, the Penningtons were starting to become quite suspect to me at that point. Of course, the fun with these mysteries is that whatever is apparent at first can quickly prove far more complex than it first seems.
"I'd like to see him regardless," I said.
"I must insist that you leave him alone," Cecil growled. "And if this continues I shall go speak to my barrister."
As he said that I noticed he flicked his eyes toward his younger sisters. Yes, there was something here. A family feud, perhaps?
"Who else is here?", Holmes asked.
That brought looks. He indicated the floor toward the pantry. In some of the soapy water that had spilled when Hagerty fell there were the outlines of shoes. "None of us have stepped over there," Holmes pointed out. "Someone else has been in here."
I noticed Watson put his hand on his revolver again.
"What, is it a spook Holmes?" Lestrade shook his head. "A phantom in this house frightening the residents to death? Let's stick with facts, sir. And right now this looks like a poisoning to me." He looked to the Penningtons. "I'll be taking their bodies to be examined."
"Do what you will," Mary Pennington said coldly.
"As for the boy, I should like to see him as well," Lestrade said.
"I would rather you not..."
Rodney stepped in. "No, Aunt, the Inspector is being reasonable. I shall take them up to see Peter."
"I would like to see the lad too," I said. "I have some experiences with people in bad mind, maybe I can help."
"I won't be having frauds experimenting with the child," Mary demanded.
"I'll make sure he doesn't, ma'am." Lestrade motioned to us. "And I know you wish to come as well, Holmes. Let's see if your phantom is upstairs, eh?"
Holmes hid whatever irritations he felt toward Lestrade underneath a steady expression of interest.
"That inspector is being rude," Katherine whispered to me in complaint as Rodney Pennington led us toward the stairs leading to the bedrooms.
"I think the Inspector is a man who favors the practical and what he sees, not the theoretical," I replied diplomatically.
Katherine nodded and said nothing as we ascended to the second floor and took a right. The last door before what was presumably the late Sir Theodore's master bedroom was locked. Rodney put a key in and opened it. Inside there was only a single gaslight burning to provide illumination. Toy soldiers and books lined the shelves in rigorous order. On the bed was a boy, brown haired like his older cousin, who didn't even give us a glance as he read from his book. "Peter, these are the gentlemen investigating your father's death," Rodney declared. "Be kind to them." When Peter didn't react he looked to us. "The boy acts dumb at times. He rarely acknowledged anyone save Miss Hagerty." Rodney looked back at him. "Miss Hagerty has died, Peter. These gentlemen are trying to find out why."
The boy lifted his head slightly. I saw a tear form at the side of his eye but nothing more. Watson and I stepped forward, my eyes scanning the room further. The toys were rigorously lined up on every shelf, as were the books and the clothes. The bedroom was meticulous for a five year old. Watson knelt beside the boy and tried to look at him.
I went to the other side. "Hello there Peter. I'm the Doctor, and this is my friend Doctor Watson. We'd like to make sure you're okay, alright? It's for your Dad."
"Why can't I cry?", the boy asked in a low voice. "I want to cry for my father. And for Miss Hagerty. But I can't."
Watson checked the boy's vitals. "He seems healthy."
"It is his mind sir," Rodney insisted.
"Or his brain." I pulled out the sonic and ran it over Peter's head. At seeing the result I shook my head and sighed. "Poor lad is autistic."
Watson looked at me. "Sir? I am not familiar with that."
"Yes, it's a condition that won't be widely understood until well into the 20th Century," I explained. "It is a disorder of neurologicla development. Those who have it suffer from a variety of symptoms that makes it hard for them to interact with others socially. The worst cases can become so bad as to be at risk for repeated self-injury." I looked over Peter's room. "See how he's kept his room? Every object, every toy, meticulously lined up. Obsessive-compulsive behaviors are another sign of the disorder."
"Sir!" Rodney stepped forward and took my shoulder. "I really must insist you leave my poor cousin alone now."
I gave him an irritated look. "I'm not harming him." As I looked around the room I felt like something was off. Terribly off. My Time Lord senses were, well, tingling. I brought the sonic up. "Have any weirdness happening lately, Rodney?"
"I have no idea what you mean sir," Rodney protested.
"I think this has gone on far enough," Lestrade said. "The coroner should be here shortly. I will go with the bodies and come back to hold further interviews. You gentlemen may chase phantoms all you..."
Lestrade was interrupted by a shrill scream from down the hall. We all rushed out of the room in some semblence of order and found Cecil and Elizabeth Pennington converging on an extra room. "Mary!", Cecil shouted. "Mary!"
Another scream answered him.
When we got to the door it was locked from the inside. Holmes nodded to Lestrade and they prepared to slam the door. "Wait!" I held out the sonic and ran it over the lock. The sonic couldn't effect wood, but the metal lock was easily undone. I threw the door open with Lestrade and Holmes on my back.
The stench that hit my nostriles was not ordinary death. It was something far nastier. I looked at the smoking, still burning remains of what had been Mary Pennington and shivered. "Ozone," I said, sniffing the air. An electrical current? Here?
The thought of the temporal tear came to me again. Clearly it was involved in what was going on, or at least in this death.
"My God, Mary!" Elizabeth ran over to the body and knelt beside it. She broke out crying. "Who would do this?!", she screamed, tears running down her cheeks. "Oh God, why?!"
I looked around at them. Rodney's expression was shock and dismay. Cecil's was the same. But there was a twitch in his face. Not that it would make me suspect him of this death, no... but there was something to it. A guilty conscious?
Of course, that begged the question of how a Victorian-age man electrocuted a woman in the middle of her room with no electrical outlets to be found.
"The electrical current required for this would be enormous," Holmes remarked. He looked back to Lestrade. "Do you care, Inspector, to speak of phantoms now?"
Lestrade drew in a breath and shook his head. "I can't explain this either, I'll admit. This is your area, Holmes."
"And mine." I held the sonic up. The temporal energy was strong here, but not its strongest. I was sweeping it around....
"Watson, what's wrong?"
Holmes was looking to his friend. I turned and saw he had pulled his revolver out. There was some fright in his face. It was quickly being replaced by confusion.
From beside me Katherine let a sudden cry of surprise. I turned around, leading to me facing the door, which slammed. Or at least, that's how it played in my memory. The truth was far more frightening.
I felt something on my right hand. Looking down I saw my left hand was gripping a marker I kept for, well, any use I might need a marker for.
On my right hand was a single stroke from the marker. A black mark on the back of my hand.
A black tally mark.
Realization struck me, followed by horror. "Oh no," I murmured to myself, as other sets of eyes focused on me.
"Doctor, what's wrong?", Katherine asked.
I found myself wishing I would have some other reason to mark my hand, but I knew there was only reason I would do so. Especially like that.
"I know what killed Mary Pennington," I said hoarsely. "We are all in grave danger."
"Grave danger from what, sir?!", Cecil Pennington demanded.
My eyes met Holmes'. He could see the extent of my fright.
"It's the Silence," I said. "The Silence are here."
Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series
Posted: 2017-03-12 06:48am
Now I think it's understandable that the response to my words was... blank confusion. "Silence? What are you babbling about?", Lestrade asked.
"They're a race of beings with a form of automatic hypnotic suggestion," I answered. "The moment you turn away from them, you forget you saw them." I held up my hand and the mark on it. "This is how we know they exist. This and automated audio recorders that are over half a century away from being invented."
"Preposterous," Cecil Pennington declared.
"Not preposterous, simply improbable," Holmes corrected. "And nearly impossible to prove conclusively. On the other hand, it would explain why we have seen signs of the presence of another being."
"And it would also explain the deaths of Sir Theodore and Miss Hagerty," I added. "Death by fright at seeing a strange creature."
"But if don't remember seeing it, how can we stop it?", Katherine asked me.
"It's not invincible, bullets will hurt or kill it easily enough." I nodded to Watson. "The trick is keeping it in sight. We should stick together, all of us. Safety in numbers."
"What, all night?", Elizabeth complained. "How will we sleep then?"
"We need to find it, not wait around." I motioned to the door. "We go together, room by room, and seal each room behind us once it's been cleared. We don't give it anywhere else to run." I held up the sonic.
"But Doctor, this thing could just leave the house and get lost out in London," Katherine pointed out.
Holmes shook his head. "No, this 'Silent' being is clearly interested in this house and this family. Whatever it is planning, it is remaining here to do it."
"Come, Holmes, a creature that makes you forget it exists when you look away?" Lestrade scoffed. "That's far beyond even your usual flights of fancy."
Holmes turned and faced Lestrade. He motioned to the remains of Mary Pennington. "Clearly there is something beyond our experience in this home, Inspector. I can vouch for the Doctor's extraordinary nature myself and now a woman has been electrocuted to death in a room with no electrical sources. And we have indications of an extra presence that none has seen. While we have nothing truly conclusive about this 'Silence' creature, the evidence is clear that there is something here."
"After we seal this room, we should get pens," I said. "I didn't bring enough markers for us all. Remember that if you see anything, call it out immediately and mark your visible skin somewhere obvious. We can keep track of how many we've seen then."
The Penningtons did not look enthused at all, but Cecil nodded in agreement. "I had hoped to get this sorry business over with", he lamented.
We filed out of the room. When we had all left I took the sonic and ran it over the closed lock, magnetically sealing the lock so that it was mechanically impossible to open it until I unsealed it. "There are pens in my brother's bedroom, he did book-keeping there," Cecil offered.
"What shall we do about young Peter?", Watson asked. "Clearly we can't allow him to be left alone with a monster on the loose."
"I shall seal his room after we have checked it," I said. "It is along the way."
We returned to the room to see the boy still quietly reading, paying us no mind. I had thoughts about trying to interact with the boy further, but I was worried about attempting the obvious method; telepathic content. Mind-reading was something I would rather not force into the already-overwhelmed beings around me. Plus, even with fine control, the mind of an autistic five year old trying to mix with that of a Time Lord was... very unsafe.
I swept the room and checked my hands. There were no extra marks. No one called out either. We filed out of the room.
As we did so, Peter looked up. "Are you after the bogeyman?", he asked.
Holmes and I looked back. "What was that, Peter?", I asked.
"The bogeyman," he repeated. "He comes by sometimes."
I shared a glance with Holmes. "Can you describe the bogeyman, young man?"
He shook his head. "I can't see him."
"Then how do you know he's here?", I asked patiently.
Peter lowered his eyes. "I don't know. I just do," he said meekly.
I pulled the sonic back out. "The background temporal energy of this room is different from the others. There is something here." I looked into the crowd. "Katherine? A moment?"
Katherine walked up and joined Holmes and I. "Yes, Doctor?"
"Katherine, in all of your social work, how much contact have you had with the autistic?"
"Some," she answered. "I've visited care facilities for them. I've seen the cases before."
"Do you think you could get through to Peter? I believe he may have the key to what's going on here."
Katherine looked at the sad little boy on his bed and looked back to me, sympathy shining in her eyes. "I do, Doctor."
"I'll seal you in with him," I said. "If worst comes to worst, you can get out the window."
"Pardon me, Doctor, but you presume this creature cannot force the room," Holmes pointed out. "If he can generate enough electrical energy to kill a man he can force the door. Leaving an unarmed woman alone with a boy who can sense it and is therefore a threat is not reasonable."
"You have a suggestion?"
"I do. Watson can stay with her. He is armed and I have scarcely met a braver man."
I thought it over in my mind. "Yes, that makes sense. I don't like reducing our numbers that greatly, but it would be easier than making the boy come with us given his condition."
"An understandable concern." Holmes looked to the others who were busy looking down all sides of the hall. "Watson, Miss Steiner-Davion will be remaining with the boy, can you look after them?"
Watson nodded briskly. "Of course, Holmes. They will be safe." He leaned in and I could hear him whisper, "Be careful, Holmes."
"Don't worry, Watson, I shall be fine," Holmes reassured him. I could see Watson was not quite so satisfied. It was understandable; I was a mystery to both of these men, something extraordinary and inhuman, and therefore I was something potentially dangerous.
"Right. Let's keep going."
Once we had checked the late Sir Theodore's room Cecil Pennington when to his desk and retreived his pens. "Sir Theodore has made great use of his desk as of late," Holmes noted while watching him. "While drinking."
I looked at the desk. "The ink stains near the ink well?"
"Exactly. And the stain in the shape of a glass, on the right side of the surface."
"What was he working on, I wonder?" I continued to look around. There was a small fireplace in the room, the house being old enough to where such was expected. I noticed a few scraps in the pile and went over to look down at them. I scanned the room at that moment, seeing how the others were reacting. Lestrade was trying to buck up his young trainee Loughlin. Elizabeth Pennington was standing off to the side with young Rodney. They were whispering to reach other, but even my hearing couldn't quite make it out from that distance. Cecil was busy at the desk finding all of the pens. Certain that nobody was looking I reached toward the scraps of white within the gray and quietly slipped them into my pocket for later review. "The Silent scares two people to death and outright kills a third. Why?"
"You operate on an assumption, Doctor, that this creature was responsible," Holmes replied. "We do not have the facts to support this."
"We know it wants something here," I pointed out. "It is something of a leap to assume that the two cases are unrelated."
"Indeed, but perhaps not related in the fashion you propose," Holmes replied. "Why would it change its methods? This thing must have reason."
I let that rumble in my brain as I brought the sonic back out. "The temporal signature in this room is higher than any others save the boy's. If this is a result of the Silent's presence, then it has spent a lot of time in here." I began to reach in my pocket. "I found these...."
Lestrade interrupted me at that point. "Gentlemen, if you have these pens, I suggest we move along and get started on this phantom hunt?" There was still quite a bit of skepticism in his voice.
"We can discuss your find later," Holmes whispered. I nodded in agreement; we were going to be together for the rest of the hunt and anything found would be overheard by the Penningtons.
It has been my custom to tell my tale from my point of view alone, but I feel it best to relay what Katherine told me after the fact of her stay in the sealed bedroom with Watson and Peter.
Watson took a place watching the door, observing it carefully while Katherine sat beside Peter. "My name is Katherine," she said to him. "Peter, I know you must be scared and upset with yourself, but I have seen other children like you. There's nothing wrong with you as a person."
"My father is dead," Peter said to her. "And Miss Hagerty. Miss Hagerty always brought me cheese crumpets when I was sad. She hugged me when my mum died. She was a nice lady. I'm supposed to cry. I don't cry."
Katherine had enough experience with the autistic to know that trying to set a reassuring hand on him would only make him feel worse. "It's quite alright, Peter. I know you're a nice boy." I imagine she gave him that soft smile of her's as she said that, leaning over slightly with her blond hair framing her face. "This bogeyman, Peter. Do you know what he is?"
"He's a bogeyman," Peter answered her.
"And you're scared of him?"
"I don't want to talkk about the bogeyman," Peter said. "Aunt Mary gets mad at me about the bogeyman. She says she wants me to go away."
"Your Aunt Mary has died, Peter," Katherine said to him. "The bogeyman killed her."
Peter evidently did not choose to react to that at the moment. "Aunt Mary doesn't like me," he finally said to her. "Nobody in my family likes me. I'm bad in the head. I shouldn't have been born."
"Come now young man." Watson looked over at him. "Get your chin up, your family cares for you."
"Uncle Cecil said I was in the way. That my mum shouldn't have had me."
"Well, that's an awful thing to say," Katherine said. "He was probably just angry with something, he didn't mean it."
Peter blinked at her. "He said I didn't deserve my daddy's money."
Watson furrowed his brow. "Really?"
"They don't think I hear them," Peter said meekly. "I just don't know how to talk with them. I didn't know how to talk with my Daddy. I loved my Daddy but I didn't know."
Katherine felt bad for the poor boy as the tears formed in his eyes. She watched the same happen in his small eyes and used her hand to brush his cheek. "I've met other children who had the same problems, Peter. It's not something you can help. Just remember your Dad loved you."
At her words Peter nodded. And Katherine watched as a smile crossed his face while the tears ran. "I'm crying," Peter said to her. "I'm crying for my Daddy and for Miss Hagerty. Thank you."
I suppose that in the storybooks this was when the boy would have hugged Katherine. But he didn't. One shouldn't be surprised given his condition. It was quite the breakthrough for her, just to get him to open up that far. Katherine gently rubbed his head as the boy quietly sobbed and looked toward Watson. Watson nodded at her. "It's a sad thing to see such a good-hearted child afflicted," he said to her.
"They didn't even wonder about him," Katherine said. "You were the one who reminded everyone he was alone."
"Yes." Watson's expression must have turned dark at that point, I can surely imagine it. "And I'm sure Holmes and your friend the Doctor noticed as well."
"I know they'll figure it out." Katherine paused for a moment to wipe Peter's eyes again. When she looked back to Watson she asked, "What is it like, sir? Working with Mister Holmes?"
Watson's expression brightened again. "Oh, it is quite the rush, young lady. I got my share of adventure with the Army in Afghanistan, mind you, but that was war, and Holmes' adventures are...." He shook his head slightly. "Well, they are quite a change. Whenever the chase is on Holmes transforms before my eyes, from lethargy to excitement and I can hardly keep up with him. He is not the easiest to get along with, of course. He sees every detail and his mind is so fast you must wait for him to explain it."
"I know that feeling," Katherine said in turn, smiling.
"And what of you, young lady? Adventuring with this... strange man, this Doctor?"
I can only imagine Katherine's wide smile as she thought about an answer, familiar as I am with her feelings about it. "Oh, it is... extraordinary. I can't begin to describe the things I have seen, the things we've done together. The Doctor has shown me worlds far beyond this one, even beyond our galaxy. I've seen stellar nurseries where stars are born, I've seen great stars collapse into black hole or explode into supernovae that would dazzle any one. He's shown me alien worlds where cities cover an entire planet and stations where millions of people live in the void of space."
I can imagine her hushed breath as she said those things and Watson's expression at hearing it. "It must be like an explorer visiting unknown shores," Watson mused. "Seeing things no other man has seen before. And with something like that man..."
"Oh, very," Katherine told him. "There are things out there, monstrous creatures and beings and alien empires... you can't do this and be timid. And that's not what the Doctor is. Whenever we face these horrors, that's when he gets this grin on his face and yells 'Run!' like he's about to start laughing. And we run and run.... and he's still smiling because no matter how nasty or powerful or dangerous the monster is, the Doctor's already outsmarted it."
"It sounds quite frightening," Watson remarked.
"It can be frightening, yes. But the fear never quite takes hold of me, not when he's there. He's never afraid of the things in the dark. They're afraid of him."
As you can tell, I had perhaps overshot the mark in making myself into Katherine's hero. And it likely led to some disturbing implications on what I was in Watson's mind, whether I was conning Katherine in some way or every bit the ferocious being she made me sound like, and therefore even more dangerous.
Whatever his thoughts, his response to her was to say, "It seems that our companions have given us both quite interesting lives."
"Yes." Katherine nodded. "They have."
The upper floor had given us nothing. With all of the bedrooms sealed we went to the first floor, where the extra rooms could be searched one by one. I felt frustration build, joined by irritation at the smug look on Lestrade as our hunt started to feel like a snipe hunt. The first floor was going to prove the hardest; there was just too much space.
"This is becoming preposterous," Elizabeth complained. "I'm not sure what happened to Mary, but to think it is some creature that we can't remember seeing...."
The mood of the people around me made it clear they were all growing just as frustrated. My own frustration was mounting. There were just too many questions left unanswered. How many Silents were there? I'd seen only one but there could be more. How did it get here? What was its interest in the the boy and the Pennington household as a whole? Why did it kill Mary Pennington?
"This is just about enough," Lestrade said. "Holmes, you can continue this business if you like, but I have more important duties."
"Yes, the remains," I remarked. "Well, go ahead, Inspector. Hopefully there won't be more bodies to collect when you get back. Do you want to go collect the cooked remains of Miss Pennington, by the way?"
"I'll have the coroner's wagon come by for those," Lestrade answered, frowning at me. "Come along, Loughlin."
The other Penningtons were on the far side of the parlor when Lestrade and Loughlin left. While they weren't looking I motioned to Holmes and pulled out the scraps I'd retreived from the bedroom fireplace. "Someone burned papers recently," I explained, showing them to Holmes.
Holmes took one scrap while I took the other. I could see the remains of figures, money figures given the "p"s and "s"s and £s in the unsteady hand of Sir Theodore. "Financial accounts," I murmured.
"Someone did not want these recovered," Holmes remarked. "Would these Silents care?"
"I am not certain. Their mode of operation is suggestions left when you face them, they use it to influence others into taking actions they require." I looked around the room.
"Were it not for the fate of Mary Pennington and your own nature, Doctor, I would be convinced this was a spectacular fraud of some kind."
"In your case I would agree with you." I put my hands together. "We need more information."
"Perhaps there are papers in Sir Theodore's room that could be of help," Holmes suggested.
I shook my head. "If anything incriminating was there, it was thrown into the fire." I breathed in. "He left a note asking for his son to be protected. He knew something was wrong. He suspected something."
"Which means that if he had sensitive documentation he would not place it where it could be easily found." Holmes looked out the door of the parlor. "The maid?"
"If his family was involved in something, that's too obvious," I pointed out. "But maybe one of the vacant servant quarters?"
Holmes nodded in agreement. "The house was built with three servant bedrooms, on the north wall."
We left the parlor and the Penningtons behind. It was admittedly dangerous to do so. I would have preferred keeping an eye on them and, if they were innocent, we were potentially abandoning them to murder. But I was not about to cajole them into following, not if they were up to no good.
Holmes and I went into the back and looked into the servant's quarters. The first room provided no surprises. We were in the second thereafter. I admired the early Victorian appearance of the room, the green wall patterns and the like. It had a fireplace, the only one among the slave quarters so equipped. I looked at it intently while Holmes investigated the bedding. "How long has this room been vacant, do you think?"
"At least three months," Holmes suggested.
"I thought so. Look."
Holmes looked over to see where I was at the fireplace. In the ash and dust at the base there was the outline of a sole, perhaps a slipper given how light it looked. "The dust was disturbed recently." While Holmes examined the bottom of the fireplace I reached up into the chute for the smoke. As my hand grasped around I felt my fingers wrap around a tube of sorts. I gripped it and pulled it loose. "What have we here?" The tube was made of cheap tin. The top pulled loose in a second and I emptied the contents into my hand; rolled up papers. I offered one to Holmes. "Sir Theodore's private papers. Specifically, a new will." I read it over quickly. "Everything is being left into a trust for young Peter. The family is being given a small sum and rental rights to a property in the country. But it will remain in the trust for Peter."
Holmes leafed through the stack I'd given him. "Ah, quite interesting. Sir Theodore's bank accounts have been draining away for years now. This would explain the reduction in the house staff quite well."
"And the drinking," I agreed. I found another bank record. "And what do we have here? A new bank account with Holder & Stevenson, signed in by Alexander Holder, verifying his charge of the trust for Peter."
"It must be quite the sum with these withdrawals."
"One hundred thousand pounds," I noted. "My my, quite the nest egg. It appears to be virtually all of his remaining worth."
To remind people from later eras with that lovely beast of inflation, one hundred thousand pounds in 1892 Britain was about, oh, one or two orders of magnitude, depending on purchasing power calculation or economic value.
Holmes' jaw set. "A very plentiful motive for murder, Doctor."
I nodded in agreement.
And that was when I noticed the new tally mark on my right hand.
My eyes widened and I looked over at Holmes.... in time to see that he was looking at the small "S" he had apparently placed upon his own hand. He blinked in confusion. "Well. It appears I have some confirmation of your claims," he said to me with a faint grin. "I have no knowledge of placing this mark on my hand, but it is clearly mine."
We looked up toward the door, now open. I quickly secured the papers back into the tube. As we went to the door I spied an empty dressed and secured the tube under one of the drawers quietly. We stepped into the hall and I turned to seal the door with the screwdriver.
When I looked up Holmes had his hand up and palms outward. Elizabeth Pennington stood in front of us, an angry scowl on her face.... and a revolver in her hand. "Put your thing down, sir," she demanded. "Or I will shoot you both."
While I was having a gun pointed at me by a distraught woman, Katherine was trying to comfort Peter Pennington under Watson's watchful eye. "It all seems preposterous," Watson finally admitted to her. "Creatures that can make you forget you've seen them the moment you look away? I can more easily accept a man with two hearts than something so bizarre."
"The whole of creation can be a bizarre place, Doctor Watson," Katherine pointed out.
Watson heard her but had his attention diverted by something else at that point. "Do you smell anything, young lady?", he asked.
Katherine sniffed in the air. "It smells like... an oil?"
"Paraffin," Watson clarified - for Yanks, that's kerosene - as he approached the door. He looked down at the floor and undoubtedly saw it pouring under the door. "What is..."
It was at that moment that the oil was set on fire.
Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series
Posted: 2017-03-13 12:46am
Holmes and I watched the revolver tremor in Elizabeth Pennington's hands. I saw tears forming in her eyes while her breath proved ragged and unstable. "Why couldn't you just leave? We would have taken care of my poor stupid nephew! It didn't have to be this way!", she shouted at us.
"You poisoned your brother," Holmes said, his voice level with a steely calm.
"He was going to throw us out!", Elizabeth raged. "All of us! Even when I didn't do anything! All because of...."
As she stuttered in a mix of rage and terror, Holmes said, "Your family was spending away his fortune."
"I just wanted a husband!", Elizabeth cried. "I didn't want to be a spinster! But he always rejected my suitors! And then I became too old and nobody would look at me! I... I'm not like Mary!"
I swallowed and nodded. "What was your role in this? Elizabeth, you can still come out of this with dignity intact, but you must lower the gun."
"It's too late. He'll kill me. He'll...."
I stood beside Holmes enough to slip my right hand under my jacket and begin pulling out the sonic disruptor. Elizabeth was so wrapped up in facing Holmes she didn't realize I was moving until it was too late. "Put that down! I'll shoot!"
I held up the sonic disruptor. "You don't look like the bad sort, Elizabeth," I said. "Which member of your family was it?"
"Put it down, now, please!" The gun in her hand was tremoring.
"Doctor..." Holmes gave me a sideways glance.
I set the disruptor to 42, of course. But I would rather talk her down. A shot might ricochet off the protective dome and hit her. "Elizabeth, cooperate with us and there can be mercy. You can get out of this alive. But if you pull that trigger, you'll either be killed by the Silence or by a hangman's noose as a conspirator to murder."
Elizabeth tried to redouble her grip on the gun. Tears streamed down her face while the gun shook erratically in her hand. Finally it just clattered out of her hands and she fell to the ground. Holmes came up and scooped the firearm into his hand. "A good choice," he assured her. "There is mercy in British law."
"It's Rodney," she cried. "He... he found out about the new accounts and that my brother was taking us out of our inheritance. He wouldn't let that happen. He studied medicines and chemistry."
"And he poisoned the rum tonight," I said, following her words. "He found one of the many poisons that would not be detectable to modern science, Indeed, one so quickly metabolized by the body that even my scans didn't find a trace."
"He's going to kill Peter," Elizabeth said. "He's gone mad from anger."
"Come along, Miss Pennington," Holmes said. "We will...."
And that was when we heard the next scream.
The fire leapt up from the front of the door. "Murder!", Watson shouted.
Katherine took Peter and brought him over to the window. She had gotten close enough to the boy that he did not resist. She thought of the snow outside the sill and decided against it as, once melted, it would only serve to spread the fire more as water. "The blanket, Doctor Watson!"
Watson caught on immediately, stripping the blanket off of the bed. He and Katherine took opposite ends and went up toward the spreading oil, much of it now aflame. They began beating on the flames with it, seeking to smother them. But more oil was pouring out under the door and undoing their work. They beat faster at it just for the blanket to catch fire. The flames and heat forced them to pull back. Watson motioned to the window. "Go! I shall secure the sheet while you carry the boy down!"
"And what about you?"
"I shall follow, if I still can," he promised. It must have been rather clear that he was likely to get burned, but Doctor Watson was as Holmes proclaimed; a brave man, one willing to endure sacrifice in a manner entirely befitting the ideals of a Victorian Englishman.
Katherine threw open the window, allowing the cold London air into the room. The cold air had minimal effect upon the flames, governed as they were by the spreading oil. There was no time to properly tie the entire sheet into a rope. Watson kept hold of the end and secured it to the footboard of the bed. Katherine picked Peter up. "Hold on to my neck, Peter," she said to him upon picking him up. This freed her hands to take the sheet. She stuck one leg out, then he other. She slipped her knees off of the sill....
And then a gunshot buried itself into the brick beside her.
Katherine looked down to see a man in a hooded jacket looking up at her, glaring frusration. His pistol was raised and poined right at her. "What are you doing?!", she demanded.
The attacker replied with another gunshot. Katherine realized he meant to shoot her and Peter dead if she continued to climb down, so she did the only thing she could do. She pulled him back up into the bedroom.
"If we go down, we'll be shot," she told Watson, crawling back in.
"And we shall burn to death up here," Watson pointed out.
Katherine brought Peter over to a corner. "Stay here, Peter. We will keep the fire from you, okay?"
The boy nodded to her.
"Doctor Watson, we may be able to buy time by using the bed." Katherine went back over to it and floorboard, pulling the bed out enough that she could reach the mattress. "Take the other end."
"Of course." Watson saw what she was doing and grabbed the other end. They picked it up and moved it to where the fire was spreading to the middle of the floor. They brought the mattress down hard on the flames, smothering them, and picked it up immediately again. They repeated this step several times, slowing the advance of the oil and the flames consuming it.
But it was too late at that point. The fire was spreading to the structure proper, consuming the wood in the floor and the wooden shelving. Soon the mattress caught fire and they were forced to drop it. The flames continued to move toward them. When Watson peeked out of the window again the gunman below shot at him. "We are trapped," he said.
With nothing left but hope, Katherine cupped her hands and called out.
While our faithful companions were fighting fires and gunmen, Holmes and I were taking the frightened, broken Elizabeth Pennington into the parlor. The smell of ozone hung in the air. Smoke still clouded around the burning remnants of an arm chair. The only sign of its former occupant were scraps of burnt fabric and a ring that was beside my foot... and still attached to the charred remnant of a ring finger.
At the sight of that, Elizabeth Pennington finally had too much. Stress and terror overhwhelmed her and, after a moment's cry, she toppled over. I sighed. It was all so... so... Victorian, fainting ladies. I couldn't imagine the women I'd worked with fainting like that. Usually it took something more. Like that belly full of tesseract beer and ryncol that had brought Commander Shepard down at the reunion party...
....granted, that was an unfair comparison for Miss Pennington. But most available comparisons would be unfair to her. It wasn't a very fair time for ladies, as her complaints about her oldest brother had shown.
Holmes picked up the ring. Despite some slight warping the letters "CP" could be made out upon the gold. "It appears your monster has claimed him before we could," Holmes said.
We checked our hands. No new marks.
I checked around the body while Holmes took the unconscious Elizabeth to a bed. I found papers and picked them up. "Old letters," I noted. "The late brothers exchanged rather heavy correspondence during the elder's time in the Colonies."
"It is not uncommon."
Reading the letters I got the feel of Cecil Pennington as a man who missed his brother, loved his wife, and doted on his son. Perhaps too much. Theodore admonished him repeatedly to be strict with the boy, that laxity would make his son a wastrel, and that severity did them no harm. Theodore, admittedly, came off as a bit of an ogre.
And then he married and had his own son, I thought. A son with a neurological condition beyond his ken. And yet the boy was not abused. How Cecil must have felt, seeing his brother even more doting toward his own flesh and blood....
At the bottom was a letter signed by Cecil and given to his brother.
Rodney has told me of your new will and your accounts. I can understand punishing Mary, dear brother, for her excesses, and I admit myself guilty of my taste for the races getting the better of my judgement. But Elizabeth only seeks a house of her own and Rodney, why, he has such grand plans for the family money, no less grand than your own plans were from your Colonial Service! Why must we all be punished for the transgressions of the few? And for your poor child, everything? The boy will be the mark of every confidence man and trickster in England! Why, Theodore, are you being such an ogre...
"There is Cecil's motive," I stated. "His son had ambitions with the family fortune. Giving it to Peter fostered his resentment."
"Rodney is the center of this murder plot," Holmes said. "We need to find him."
"We should return to the others first," I said. I checked my hand. No new marks yet. "I know you're here, somewhere!", I shouted. "You're protecting the child, aren't you?! That's what this is about! You were too late to save the father and the maid from murder so you are putting down the killers to protect the boy!" I turned about and checked my hand again. No new marks.
I motioned to Holmes. I was not done. "Leave this woman alone, she has repented her small role in the evil done here tonight! She does not deserve death!"
I checked my hand. Yet again there were no new marks.
"You are not the Doctor."
The low and rough voice ringed in my mind. When I looked at my hand again, a new mark was there. I saw I was now facing Holmes, who had a similar tally mark on his hand. Elizabeth Pennington was awake now, her face white with fear. The pen we'd give her earlier that night was in her grasp, but no mark was made. "Rodney made the poison, Mary put it into the rum," she whimpered. "Cecil and I were to find the papers and burn them."
"She has confessed. She is spared," the voice said.
"What did it mean?", Holmes asked. "It said you were not the Doctor."
"I will explain later," I answered. "Suffice to say there is a famous Time Lord known as the Doctor and I decided to hold myself to his standards." Horrible thoughts were crossing my mind. "Rodney Pennington means to kill Peter. We have to protect him." I left the parlor with Holmes on my heels. As we approached the top of the stairs I could hear a cry at the edge of my hearing. "Katherine." I redoubled my pace.
In the room Katherine and Watson had fallen back to the corner as the flames continued their inexorable march toward new fuel, and thus toward them. Both were coughing and were forced to slide down against the corner, shielding Peter Pennington as best as they could. "Doc..tor!", Katherine coughed, still trying to get my attention.
"Holmes.... are you.. there?!", Watson managed between his own harsh coughs.
I can only imagine how it looked to them when the door burst open, blasted off its hinges. I came in with the sonic disruptor, its deep whirring noise filling the air with the purple tip lit up and waves of invisible force smothering the flames until even the embers were out. Holmes and I went to our respective companions. I could see the glimmer of genuine warmth, and concern, in Holmes' usually passive face as he helped Watson to his feet. I did the same for Katherine. "Good thing I've got great hearing," I said.
"Yes," she chuckled, coughing again. I patted her on the back. "How did you do that?"
"Oh, my newest alteration to Setting 4. Setting 4HD. Specifically for fighting fires."
"Why HD?" The moment after her lips curled into a smile. She'd gotten the joke.
"Well, you remember the last time we had to face a kerosene fire," I said by way of answer, since she didn't really need one. "The designation seemed fitting."
"Harry will probably give you that special frown of his when he finds out," Katherine laughed.
I looked over to where Peter was looking around his ruined bedroom. This got more tears than finding out his father had died, specifically the burnt books. I picked the worst case up and opened it. To his clear relief, the pages within were singed on the borders but all the text was legible. "There you go, young man. Your books are fine."
"Doctor, someone was shooting at us from the outside," Katherine told me, no longer coughing.
"Young Mister Rodney, I presume," I said.
"Indeed," Holmes agreed. "The fire was as much to block our way as it was to kill you. Then he went back down the staircase and out the tradesman's entrance to the alley to shoot you should you flee."
"That beast," Watson growled. "So it is not this monster, Holmes?"
"No, Watson. The so-called monster has instead been taking the law into its own hands."
As if to punctuate that, the alleyway outside lit up. A young man screamed and a gunshot went off, following by a crackling of lightning and a second scream followed by silence.
"And now there is only one," I said. "Elizabeth Pennington confessed everything. The plot and the poison was Rodney's. Mary administered it. She and Cecil were minor accessories tasked with finding Sir Theodore's paperwork and destroying it to ensure the old will was enacted."
"And so the case is solved," Watson said. He looked at Holmes with a little dejection. "I am afraid I cannot chronicle this one very well, my friend."
"You are aware of my feelings about your usual work, Watson, so it is of no concern to me. And if you could chronicle it, I suspect this case would be lumped in with the works of Vernes and Wells given our new acquaintances and their prominent roles."
"Quite true," Watson agreed.
"Actually, you're only half right, Doctor Watson," I then said. "We have one mystery left." I pulled out my sonic screwdriver. "Where did this Silent come from?"
"They don't usually work alone like this," I said. "And we have seen indications of only one being present. It got here somehow. And given the temporal energy in this room I believe I have a good guess as to how. Young Peter, a moment of your time?"
"Did the bogeyman send you?", Peter asked softly.
"Not quite." I noticed the look on Watson and Katherine and knelt down beside Peter. "He's been protecting you, right?"
"Tell me, Peter, where did the bogeyman come from?"
"Where all bogeymen come from," Peter answered matter-of-factly. He pointed to his bed. Or, specifically, under it.
"The imagination of children," Watson mused aloud. "Quite good to see the lad talking, at least."
"Possibly not just imagination in this case." I held the sonic toward the bed. "The energy readings are higher over there. If you gentlemen would be so kind as to help me move the bed?"
We each took an available corner, Holmes and I at the foot and Watson by the head. The bed was heavy but Holmes was deceptively strong and I was a Time Lord, so it was no great effort. I looked down at the floorboard beneath the bed. "And now our final mystery is solved," I said quietly. I had been expecting the sight before me.
"It's a Crack in the Universe," I explained, kneeling over it with my sonic screwdriver. I scanned it actively, allowing the thin sliver of white light pouring from it to shine in my face. "Six dimensions of space-time ruptured at this very spot."
"Astounding," Holmes said in a low voice. The light danced over his intelligent eyes. "I could never have imagined."
"Don't get too close," I warned. "Some Cracks can literally erase a man from all of history." I looked at the sonic results. "It's drawing in energy from your world. Don't you feel how chilly it is now, right on this spot? That's the drawing in of thermal energy. The last time I saw a Crack do this it was starting to freeze an entire planet."
"Such could be the fate of our own, then? And how could you prevent such a thing?"
"I have a means." I stepped away. "Stand by the door, please," I asked them all. I brought out the TARDIS remote and summoned it to me.
Due to the lack of room in the bedroom I summoned it to my very spot, so it materialized around me and placed me in the main control room. I went straight to the central console and began working on it. Behind me the door opened. Katherine led everyone inside. Peter looked about, impressed. "My word," Watson breathed. "How is it bigger on the inside, Doctor?"
"Pocket dimension," I answered. "Dimensionally transcedental technology. Makes for easy internal redecorating. Hit a button and I have more storage space." I turned to face them. "This is my TARDIS. That's 'Time And Relative Dimensions In Space'. She can move anywhere in six dimensions. Yes, that includes the basic three, so she can fly..." And here I switched to a sotto voce tone and volume. "...but between you and me boxes don't make for the most aerodynamic craft shape."
"I am astounded, good sir," Holmes said. "This is sheer magic."
"Well, Clarke did say - sorry, will say - that sufficiently advanced technology looks like magic," I answered. "And speaking of that, we have a Crack to seal up from those same base three dimensions. That'll keep it from turning this planet into an orbiting snowball."
I rushed down to the lower level and got out my Crack-sealing devices. Holmes and Watson remained with Katherine on the upper level, looking around. "And you say there are more rooms in here?", Watson asked.
"As many as I want or need, Doctor Watson," was my reply. "I even have a library. With a swimming pool for added benefit." I went to work connecting the devices to the heart of the TARDIS.
"So you actually live in here..."
"We do," Katherine said. "Well, not always for me, I must say. I must go home at times and see to my duties."
I came back topside with the devices. "Gentlemen, I am afraid I must dragoon you into something rather beyond the standard for a man of Victorian England," I informed them. "Please, each of you take one of these devices. You will fire them at the Crack at my word and for Heaven's sake do not cross their emissions, which will be tricky given how small this Crack is."
"Leave it to us, Doctor," Holmes answered, hefting the device I gave him like it was a hunting rifle.
"Indeed, we are no stranger to the rifle," Watson added.
"It's a good thing it's not in mid-air this time," I murmured, going back to the controls. "Okay, I'm going to be relying on my Time Lord senses for this one. Katherine, please observe the Crack as well and tell me if the light within it starts to surge. I must be precise."
I began opening up the Time Vortex Regulator. My Time Lord senses felt the shift of energy in the Crack even from within the TARDIS. Not as well as someone who had been exposed to it for a long period would have, or a being like a wizard with personal experience in personal temporal manipulation, but well enough for such a small Crack. "Gentlemen, now!" I watched and felt carefully as the energy poured out from their devices and covered the Crack completely. As the energy surged I closed the Regulator; when it felt like the energy in the Crack was slipping I opened it back up.
"Doctor, I think it's closing," Katherine said. "The Light is starting to fade."
"Yes, just a little while longer, gentlemen!", I called out.
More energy covered the floor of the bedroom in response, the two men quietly going about the extraordinary task I had set them to. "The light is gone, Doctor!", Katherine called out. "The Crack is gone!"
"Cease now, gentlemen!" I closed the Regulator completely.
The energy ceased. They looked back at me, a little sweat on their faces from tension. "How exciting," Watson breathed. "Extraordinary, sir!"
"Yes, it has been rather fun. Wouldn't you agree, Peter?" I looked down at the boy.
He shook his head. "Where's the bogeyman?"
"Oh, he's probably hanging about..."
Holmes tackled his friend to the floor of the TARDIS. A gunshot rang out and a bullet ricocheted off of the handrail fo the TARDIS and planted itself into the wall. "Oi, who's shooting in my TARDIS?!", I shouted, taking up my sonic disruptor and looking out the door.
At the broken open door of the bedroom stood Rodney Pennington. Half of his face was burnt and scarred and his eyes were wide with hate and terror. A fully-loaded revolver was steady in his hands, pointing towards us. "I don't know what you did! I don't know what that was!", he screamed, sounding half-mad. "But I bloody well killed it! And now I'm going to kill you all!"
I went for my sonic disruptor but had to take cover before I took a bullet, which buried itself into the TARDIS control. Rodney stepped into it and swung his eyes around madly. "Where is that little bastard?! Where is the dumb little bastard?! He cost me everything! I would have made our family, great! Great! And he...."
Peter wrenched himself from Katherine's grasp and raced at his older cousin with all the fury of a five year old driven to rage. "My room! My books! My dad and Miss Hagerty!", he screeched, painfully unaware of the danger as he slammed into Rodney's knee before he could fire. The boy sank his teeth into Rodney's leg and drew a howl from his enraged cousin. That got him a slap on the back. A gunshot rang out and drove Holmes and Watson back into cover. I brought my sonic disruptor up to stop him and had a bullet graze my shoulder for my trouble, knocking me over before I could trigger the disruptor. Rodney brought the gun back over and pointed it at his little cousin. "I hate you!", Peter shrieked. "The bogeyman will get you!"
"Rot you little...."
What happened next I have had to reconstruct from audio records for obvious reasons. The gun in Rodney's hand barked again. But the rounds did not strike little Peter. Rather, something else. Something else I have no memory of seeing, only the blood I found on the TARDIS walkway to confirm it was there.
The Silent had thrown itself in front of little Peter to shield his body and it had worked. It - or "he" rather - fell to the floor with a groan of pain of a thump. Rodney still had a couple rounds left but now he could not use them. Holmes and Watson rose, Watson with his trusty service revolver and Holmes with the revolver taken from Elizabeth Pennington. Their firearms barked out in tandem and blood erupted from Rodney's body. The foul young kinslayer dropped dead upon the floor of the TARDIS.
I scrambled over to the Silent. Obviously I have no memory of this and my memories of what I said are disjointed, aided by the audio record the TARDIS kept. "I'm sorry," I said to the Silent, scanning him with my sonic screwdriver. "Your wounds appear mortal."
"I was too late to save the father and the maid," the Silent rumbled in reply. "But the child lives. The aunt has confessed her sins and been cleansed. I have been of service."
"I know I will not remember this," Holmes said to the creature. "But I respect your accomplishments here, sir. You have acted as any good man should."
Watson knelt beside him as well. "Are you sure there is nothing we can do?", he asked me.
"I'm afraid, my dear Doctor Watson, that this being's case is beyond even your skillful surgical expertise," I answered. "In case I am able to remember, sir... how did you get here? You came through the Crack."
"I... do not know," the Silent rasped. "We were attacked by surprise. I transmatted out to get help and awoke beneath the boy's bed."
"Where were you?", I asked the Silent. "What world?"
It didn't answer. There was a sharp breath and it went still.
And so the solution to the puzzle of the Cracks continued to elude me.
Peter began crying. "My bogeyman", he went over and over, holding the Silent's remains presumably. "Why did my bogeyman die?"
"Because he felt there was something more important, lad. You."
I embraced the weeping child as he cried for the alien that had given him companionship and, in the end, a future.
The case was rather clear cut to Lestrade when he returned. "Aliens who make you forget you've seen them. What imagination. Did you honestly fall for that Holmes?"
"I only consider facts as I see them, Lestrade," Holmes remarked calmly. "As it stands, the facts I have discovered bear out a more human behavior behind this case."
"Yes. Sir Theodore, laid low by his own family. And then they start blowing each other up over the spoils." Lestrade shook his head. "A disgrace. A good thing that you and Watson are such able shots, Holmes. It's never easy to take a lad in the coroner's wagon."
"It never should be," I remarked in a low tone.
"And you, 'Doctor'." Lestrade looked over to me. "I hope that the next time we may see each other, you bring more common sense and less rubbish. A good thing you had Holmes here, God knows how this might have gone if you had continued your silly phantom chase."
"I am ever so grateful for Mister Holmes' guidance," I humbly answered. "A good night to you, inspector."
"Good night, sirs, ladies."
Lestrade left with what was left of the three Pennington conspirators. The repentant Elizabeth was holding her silent nephew in the parlor. "I never realized he could be such a sweet child," she murmured, running a hand in his hair as he read the book in his hands. The pages were singed, the cover almost unrecognizable... but it was his book, and he was still enjoying it.
"His condition can be complicated," Katherine told her. "It changes how the brain develops and impedes the ability of someone to socialize. But given time and loving patience, madame, he will be a great nephew to you."
"I will care for him without reservation," Elizabeth promised.
"Excellent. I look forward to seeing young Peter growing up," Holmes said. The slight hint of a smile curled upon his face. "It shall be lonely here, I think. I know a widower gentleman for whom I did a case recently. A very kind and patient man, I must say. If you would agree to a holiday meal of some sort soon, Miss Pennington, I could be certain to arrange the invitation to him."
Elizabeth blushed and nodded. "I would be honored, Mister Holmes."
Ah. Well, I supposed that would handle that. I'm sure some might feel... uncomfortable about the prospect of marrying her off solving problems. But we are products of our times, and there are worse things, I suppose, than a happy home, regardless of how one feels about the idea of marital bliss as the ultimate cure for all that ails a woman.
"Doctor." Peter looked up at me, so I knelt down on my haunches before him, balancing myself carefully with my ankles. "Why couldn't anyone see the bogeyman? Why doesn't anyone remember him?"
"Oh, my lad, we remember him, but..." I smiled gently. "there was something... special about the bogeyman that made people forget him once they couldn't see him anymore."
"Then how come I remember him?"
"Because you're very, very special, my lad." I toussled his hair. "I shall have to bring you a book one day."
Peter tilted his head slightly. But he seemed to accept my answer and left at that.
The TARDIS had been removed from the house at that point. I deemed it best to not shatter Lestrade's illusions. THe four of us returned to it and, with a quick flip of a couple switches and a pull of the lever, we materialized in front of 221 Baker Street. "It looks rather cozy in there," I said to them as Watson and Holmes stepped out.
"I expect Mrs. Hudson shall have a decent enough meal readied for us." Holmes looked back at me. "Doctor, there is one question I still have on this case."
"How did the boy sense the presence of that being when we all forgot he existed the moment we lost sight of him?"
A good question indeed. "I suspect a combination of factors," I answered. "Peter was exposed to the Crack's energies as well. It undoubtedly gave him a sense of the Silent's presence. Just as well, his neurodevelopmental disorder has caused his brain to be structued differently, changing the effect of the auto-hypnotic suggestions of the Silent's appearance." I fiddled with something on the TARDIS control, just out of sight of them. "I was wrong, Holmes. Thank you for keeping me from leaping to conclusions based on my prior knowledge of the Silence."
"Prejudice is an easy habit, Doctor," Holmes answered. "It interferes with the interpretation of fact in insidious ways, even the clearest mind can fall to it."
"Yes." I pulled an object out of one of my many "junk piles" and set it against the TARDIS control. My shoulder itched from the graze wound, but I would heal it rather fast.
As I focused on my work, Katherine allowed the two gentlemen to give her kisses upon the fingers, in proper fashion. "It has been my pleasure, gentlemen," she said to them. "Thank you, Doctor Watson, for helping me."
"The thanks are your's as well, my lady," Watson said. He smiled at her. "Take good care of your Doctor out there."
"And you take care of Mister Holmes. I suspect he needs you more than he lets on." Katherine gave Holmes a grin.
Holmes did not react openly on that remark. He did, however, concede with his words. "Without Watson as my companion and chronicler, I suspect my work would be very dull indeed." He looked back to the door to their house. "Mrs. Hudson should have our late dinner out, and some choice words on our late return as well. Come, Watson, a repast should settle us down for a nice hibernation this evening."
"One moment, Holmes." I came back to them with an object in my hand. It was of polished oak wood, but that was just the exterior; inside was a battery-powered playing device I had rigged up with a long-life battery. "In lieu of an excellent chronicle of this case by the good Doctor Watson, I would like to present this to you. Please, press the central button."
Holmes took it and did so. "I was too late to save the father and the maid..." The Silence's voice came out from the bottom. "By Jove, a voice recorder of some sort? Of far greater quality than a phonograph."
"And with an internal battery that will last a century," I added. "It's a recording of everything that happened while we were looking at the Silent. That way you will never forget the grand finale to this extraordinary night."
Holmes clasped the device for a moment before placing it into his pocket. "I thank you, Doctor," he said warmly. "A handsome gift."
"You're welcome." I offered him a hand.
This time Holmes took it iwthout reservation. "Doctor, in all of your travels, if ever you should find a problem that challenges your intellect, do remember that my door is always available for a gentleman needing a consultation on a difficult case. Doctor Watson and I will be glad to assist you on any cases that may come your way."
"Thank you kindly, Sherlock. I will keep that offer in mind." I reached into my own pocket and pulled out a second device. "This is a temporal beacon," I said as I handed it to Holmes. "Should anything... extraordinary happen again, should there be any case of Cracks in the sky or monsters prowling your city and country, you need only press that button on the top of the device to call upon my aid."
Holmes nodded and, for the first time, gave a wide smile. "Should either possibility ever come true, Doctor, I look forward to working with you again."
"As do I."
I let them go at that point, as it was rather chilly. Katherine and I watched them enter the front door from the entrance to the TARDIS before I closed it and went to the central controls. "Well, that was fun, wasn't it? Holmes has a form of autism himself, you know. He's got Asperger's. Not a bad case, but it's there. It's no wonder he can't help himself with solving puzzles."
Katherine walked up to me. "Doctor, you've never mentioned these 'Cracks' before. What's going on?"
I looked to her and kept my face neutral. "I've found them a few times before. Before you started traveling with me. I have no idea what's causing them. But that's not the greatest mystery."
"No." I sighed. "The Cracks have been in four places now. This world, Harry's world, the Discworld, and a 21st Century Earth inhabited by, among other people, a rather formidable law agent named Leroy Jethro Gibbs. The metaphysically soft world Cracks were sending energy out and the metaphysically strict worlds were pulling it in. Why? Why do soft worlds gain energy and hard worlds lose it?"
"And where are the Cracks coming from?", she asked.
"I don't know, but I have an idea on an origin point now," I replied, my voice lowering. "The Gelth on the Discworld, and now a Silent in Holmesian England."
"I don't get the significance, Doctor?" She blinked. "You look... frightened."
"Just worried, my dear," was my reply. "Just a little worried."
Not just worried. I was excited and frightened and bewildered all together. Once was coincidence, twice? No, I was pretty sure where the Cracks went toward now. Somewhere that, even with the Cracks open, I couldn't lock my TARDIS onto.
The Doctor's home cosmos.
And as I stood thinking about it, I felt a bit of fear as well for Harry and Gibbs and their respective circles of friends and co-workers. If the Gelth and Silence could go through the Cracks.... what else could have gone through?
It would be some time before I found out. We shall get to that... eventually. For now, I had a graze wound to treat and more sights to show Katherine. So, with a pull of the TARDIS control, we were off again.
Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series
Posted: 2017-03-13 08:10am
Short 20 - Mistaken Identity
After picking Katherine up a couple of months after I had last left her home (for me it had only been a week, give or take thirty hours - time gets skiffy when you're tinkering) - I was doing some quick double-checking of a new piece I'd added to the TARDIS sensors. Katherine came out of the hallway linking to the bedrooms and skipped down the stairs. "Where to this time, Doctor?"
"I was thinking the Verdant Isles of Kaliad," I replied. "Nice vacation spot. Well, provided we avoid the period during the Sith Occupation. Rather troublesome time for that nice world, I must say. I hope you brought your bathing suit."
"I have a few, actually. I haven't even worn them. They don't work well for Tharkad."
"Indeed not." I began hitting keys on the TARDIS sensors. "Before we go to soak up sun and enjoy some splendid tropical islands, I would like to test something first."
"Oh? What is it?" She walked up to where I was looking at my screens, deciphering dimensional distortion data.
"I am modifying the TARDIS to look for more Cracks. With scans of the ones I've seen so far I'm hoping to establish a rough position of others so we can seal them before they cause damage." I pointed at a blip on the screen. "There we are. Let's see if it's a false positive or not." I entered coordinates and pulled the TARDIS activation lever.
After the usual VWORP VWORP VWORP we stepped out into an alleyway. "Where are we?", Katherine asked, shedding her jacket. Her blouse was a yellow and red sleeveless type, more appropriate for the weather.
"Miami," I answered as I brought out my sonics. "The year 2014. And here we are." I swung the sonic screwdriver over to the right. We followed along the abandoned warehouse until we saw it despite the glare of the sun. White light in a small crack, very small indeed. Not even half a foot long and maybe three centimeters in width. "Well, it's reacted to the TARDIS' presence and is starting to pull in trace amounts of thermal energy."
"So what do we do, Doctor?"
"We close it, of course. It'll only take a moment. Then we can head off to the Isles."
"I don't know." She looked up at the sky. It's rather warm here too, maybe we should spend some time at the coast?"
"Ah, want to partake of the Florida sunshine, Katherine?" I shrugged. "I don't see why not." I felt the slightest irritation at the thought of being in Miami of all places, but I couldn't quite pin down why. At least at the time; in truth it was regional rivalry. Central Floridians don't always like South Florida, you know.
"So, Katherine, here is what I need you to do..."
I won't bother with the Crack closing because it was dull. Katherine knelt low, I held up the other device while standing by the regulator, and we sealed the thing in maybe twenty seconds. It was so simple it was boring. Yes, saving this world was boring. I guess that shows how much I was becoming jaded.
When that was done I shifted us to one of the less exclusive beaches in Miami. Katherine went out in a semi-modest one-piece bathing suit and took to the sea. I stayed within visual range, at a cozy outside bar where I sampled the local drinks. I kept my eyes scanning the beach just to make sure Katherine was fine but that was the extent of my concentration. This was, after all, supposed to be relaxation.
Naturally it couldn't last.
My view of Katherine going out again was obscured by someone walking into my vision. He pulled a chair up. "Hello there. Is this seat taken?"
That voice. That dress sense. That chin.
The first thought in my head was Oi, I'm going to be shot at, aren't I?
"It is not, although I would prefer to be alone," I responded, taking a drink.
"Yes, well, we have business to discuss, mister..."
"They call me the Doctor," I said, hoping that this wasn't going to be what it felt like.
And of course, it was.
"Interesting nickname. If you want to go by those, fine." The man in front of me was older, with stubble on his face and that impressive chin that was graying, although his hair was still jet black in color. "You can call me Chuck Finley."
I tried not to grimace. The thoughts began swirling in my head. Sam bloody Axe. And he must think I'm a contact or client or even target. This is going to be bloody irritating.
"Hey, amigo, a mojito over here!", he called out to someone behind me, presumably the waiter. He eyed me again. "I'm here on behalf of Janet Hiller."
"I'm afraid, sir, that you have the wrong gentleman," I answered softly. "I understand you Yanks mistake the accent a lot so there's no hard feelings."
Sam didn't appear convinced. "I'm empowered to offer thirty thousand for the safe return of her son."
Oh. Oh bloody good this was. A child kidnapping. And Sam Axe and, presumably, his associates thought I was the kidnapper, or at least their negotiator. Can't a Time Lord ever just sit and enjoy the local drinks without everything going wrong?
"Mister Finley, I assure you I have no bloody clue what you're going on about," I replied in a careful tone. "Best of luck to you and your client on getting her son back, but I think I will be going..."
I went to stand up and felt a hand grab my shoulder. Had I truly resisted, even the person behind me couldn't have stopped me. But I felt the touch of a gun barrel to my side and let myself be forced back down. "Okay, you want to play it tough? We can play tough too." The voice gave it away even before I turned to see the man in sunglasses. His bald head and tanned complexion told me who this was.
"Jesse, we're not going to need that. Are we... 'Doctor'?" Sam looked from him to me.
"I have no bloody clue who this Hiller woman is, I just want to drink my pina colada in some peace!", I protested.
Jesse Porter pushed the gun up enough that I thought it would jab my rib. "I don't like people who grab little kids from the playground," Jesse said in a low, threatening tone. "Now, are you going to stop playing dumb and give the kid back, or do I have to get rough?"
I sighed and rolled my eyes. "Seriously, we're in a public place, you're going to shoot me here? I look at you and I know you're not that incompetent."
"He's got you there, Jesse," Sam said, sipping at his mojito.
"Are you going to risk taking a bullet to the lung if you're wrong about me?", Jesse asked, ignoring his partner. "Because I'm not playing..." He jabbed the gun harder into my side. I gave him the grimace he'd expect.
Before I could protest further Sam cleared his throat. "Uh, Jesse?"
Jesse looked behind me and his expression shifted. I felt the gun pull away from my side. Curious, I looked back as well.
A "gentleman" had entered the establishment, or rather had walked under the thatch covering that acted as shelter from the Florida sun. He was my height, at least, and clearly enjoyed the color blue in his wardrobe. Indeed, from a distance, i suppose he could look like me, if not for.... "Seriously?", I asked them, very offended. "Look at that fake grin! Look at that chin and jawline! Look at those poor excuses for cheekbones! I know I don't look that horrid. And you mistake me for him? What, did you see him in a dark room or something? Have one too many mojitos?! I'm bloody offended, I am!"
And it wasn't all play-acting. Seriously, I looked much better than the "imposter", who scanned the area thoroughly. As he did so I marveled in how different we actually looked if you looked at our faces, even if our builds and fashion sense were depressingly similar. In my mind I could imagine a freeze frame of the kidnapping scumbag with the caption of "Kidnapping Scumbag" and "Not The Doctor" sliding in from off-screen.
I watched the man walk up to a table where a young lady with ginger-colored hair was reading a menu without actually reading it. I could sense the terror and tension in her body language. She looked up at him and her face paled.
"Yeah, uh, sorry pal," Sam said. He slid what was left of his mojito toward me. "The rest is on me." The two stood to their seats and headed over to where their isolated, terrified client was facing the man holding her son.
I looked down the beach and saw Katherine standing on the sand, her golden blond hair disordered and wavy from the sea. Her eyes were focusing on where I was. I motioned to her to meet me over by a palm tree while I slipped my sonic screwdriver from my pocket and retrieved a small piece I installed into its base. I pushed that piece until it was secure in my left ear and, with surreptition, kept the screwdriver active and pointed toward the table.
Yes, it was being used as a listening device. It's a sonic screwdriver, remember?
"....price is now fifty thousand," a voice growled over the speaker. I had to grudgingly admit that over a telephone it could sound a little like me. "Or your little boy gets to meet a new daddy."
At that point I was on my feet and walking toward Katherine.
"I don't have fifty thousand," a soprano voice wept. "Please."
"Not good enough."
Sam's voice cut in. "Now hold on here, pal..."
"Oi, not good," I murmured as I came up to Katherine. She looked at me with bewilderment. "Katherine, quick glance behind me. See that man who looks like he could be me if you were a middle-aged ex-Navy SEAL who drinks too many mojitos?"
After a moment's confusion, Katherine's brain quickly got into gear. "Um.... yes. Yes, I saw him, I thought he was you for a moment."
I curled my cheeks in a look of confusion. "I'm hurt, he's far too ugly to be me," I grumbled. "Did you see what vehicle dropped him off?"
"Oh... yes, it was a black one, one of the big ones like..." Her blue eyes scanned the nearby parking spaces. "Like that one over by the coffee shop."
I followed where she was looking. She had the sense not to point. Even my eyesight couldn't beat the dark tinting of the windows, not at this distance. "Come along. We've stumbled into a bit of a kidnapping case here."
We approached by a roundabout route, getting enough distance that I could no longer listen in on Team Axe-Porter trying to deal with the kidnapper. As we drew closer I could make the outlines of a man in the driver's seat. "I need a distraction," I whispered.
"Of course, Doctor. What kind?"
I raised an eyebrow. "Well, there are several kinds," she pointed out to me.
Which of course meant she was bringing up the obvious one; she was a well-figured, beautiful, and still damp blonde who, even in 21st Century Miami, could manage to turn a few heads in a swimsuit that flattered her legs.
And while some of you might think that's all right, using what she's got and all... you're all a bunch of bloody pervs! I met Katherine when she wasn't even to my knee! Sick pervs, the lot of you!
"A more dignified one, I think."
"Of course. Count how many times I wave my hands to see how many there are." Katherine raised her head up and walked toward the SUV while I went around the nearest car and approached it from the rear.
By the time I was two cars away I saw her hand go up once. And just once. "You scratched my car!", she shrieked angrily.
"I didn't scratch anyone's car!", an American voice protested. So our English kidnapper hired local. Hrm.
Katherine put on a virtuoso act, making a scene big enough that a man with a captive child in the car would need to be careful not to draw attention. I slipped around the back of the car, avoiding the side mirrors' range as best as I could, and came up around the other side. I ran the sonic screwdriver over the lock and triggered it to unlock. The noise was audible... if Katherine hadn't been yelling her head off anyway. Opening the door was going to be a different issue, of course, so I did a life sign scan. A small one, good. And on my side.
Oh well, here goes nothing.
I pulled the door open as quickly as I could and pointed my sonic screwdriver inside. The brutish-looking driver turned his head toward me with a look of confusion and anger on his red face. Before he could react further I triggered my sonic to a narrow beam burst of, well, sonics. Katherine and the boy wouldn't hear it, but he damned well did, screaming and holding his ears. I probably damaged his eardrums with that. Not that I was sorry for it.
The boy looked to be maybe four at the oldest. I extended a hand toward him as he looked at me with confusion and terror. Despite the suit and the voice I think he was realizing I was not his abductor. "Come on, my lad. Your mum's nearby, I've come to take you back to her."
"You look like the bad man," he whimpered. "Who are you?"
"I'm the Doctor. And I'm definitely not the bad man. He stole my fashion sense. And my accent."
The boy moved over. His hair was the same tone as his mother's and I could see the other resemblances too. Once I had him in my arm I lifted him up and slammed the door. "Come along!"
The thug got out of the car, having recovered enough to at least regain the rest of his senses. He held his gun up to shoot at us. He didn't ge the chance thanks to Katherine. She used her leg to hook around his shin and, proving yet again that leverage beats sheer mass most of the time, shifted his leg out from under him. Once he was going down she grabbed him by the hair at the back of his head and slammed his face into the SUV hood with enough force that I thought I saw blood on the black surface when I looked back. She ran up to join us. "Hauptmann Leitner says I'm learning well," she said to me with a smile.
"I thought I saw the Sam Vimes method of fighting there. Minus the Mrs. Goodbody special," I replied.
Katherine blushed. "Well, looks like you've branched out. You're not rescuing a little girl this time."
"Oh, variety is the spice of life."
"What do we do now?", Katherine asked.
"You hold this young lad..." I handed the Hiller boy to her. "And I go scout things out back at the restaurant."
The party had relocated to inside the structure proper by this point. I made a quick glance around and noticed... yes, the employees were armed. Oh, brilliant. Well, not entirely brilliant, this kind of thing would be detected by the authorities the first time you used it. But if you're a callous would-be mastermind criminal, you might consider it worth a one-time use if it improves chances of a getaway from a tricky situation.
The four were seated at a corner table. Miss Hiller was in tears and I suspected Jesse was moments away from pulling out that gun. Which would probably be bad. I spied nearby implements of use and, in a motion, grabbed a chair and plopped myself down between Sam and Miss Hiller, putting me across from the Kidnapping Scumbag. "Well well well, quite an interesting gathering," I said. I pointed to the Scumbag. "Seriously, you thought I was him?" I glared at Sam and then Jesse. "Honestly? Look at that chin. Look at my glorious cheekbones and my boyish looks. You honestly thought I was him?!"
"Who the bloody hell are you?!", the Scumbag demanded.
"Me? I'm the Doctor." I smirked. "And I don't take kindly to people who try to hurt children. And since these gentlemen have such poor eyesight and dragged me into this by thinking I was you, I've decided to get involved."
"What the hell are you doing?", Jesse demanded bluntly.
"Getting the rugrat killed, that's what." Scumbag pulled out his phone.
"Oh, I don't think so. Black Ford Expedition. License plate R2L GD4." Scumbag scared daggers at me. I smirked. "Really quite a gas burner, isn't it? Hybrids are so much better at fuel efficiency, aren't they Mister Finley?"
The woman gave Sam a curious look. Clearly she didn't know Sam's preferred alias.
"The boy is safe with my friend. Your bodyguard will wake up with one hell of a headache, I'll add." I crossed my arms and quietly gripped my sonic screwdriver. "So, let's make a new deal. You give the nice lady back her money and stay away from her and her sweet little boy. Or I come back."
Scumbag glowered. Seriously, they thought this two-bit thug looked like me?!
"Don't be stupid. You've lost this round," I said in a low voice. "Be a smart businessman. Walk away."
"Nobody gets in my way," he rasped, utterly warping his accent in a way painful to my ears. "Nobody."
Ah. So this is where things went wrong. I had a feeling I was going to get shot at.
Scumbag stood up and put a hand into his jacket. As he did so, I saw that behind him the "bartender" and "waiters" were all reaching behind their belts too. I jumped to my feet. "Take cover!" I held the sonic screwdriver out and used a sonic burst to send Scumbag to the ground screaming, quite possibly with a busted eardrum.
As soon as they saw the guns come out Sam and Jesse were moving. The table flipped over and Sam pulled their client into cover while Jesse moved to a second table to get cover from that. I joined Sam and the client behind the table as bullets flew overhead and struck the glass.
"All right, who in the hell are you?!" Sam demanded as glass shattered around us.
"A passerby," I answered. "And don't blame me, you were the bloody blind idiot who thought I was him!"
"Hey, i didn't get a good look last time, you dress just like him!", Sam protested.
The glass pane had left us an opening into the street, if we could get cover from the firearms anyway. I looked over at the object I had spied earlier and knew to be useful. "I'll buy you time to get your client to safety. Take a left at the road here and go into the right alley, my friend is waiting with your client's little boy."
The woman looked ready to tear up. Sam gave me a look. "The moment you pop out there they'll fill you with bullets.... what is that?"
"This?" I held up the sonic disruptor. "Top secret stuff. I'm something of an eccentric genius. Don't worry, I'll be fine, just keep yourselves safe.
Sam let out a breath of exasperation. "Hey. The name's Sam Axe. Sorry for dragging you into this. Get us out and I owe you a whole bundle of mojitos."
I offered my hand. "An honor, Mister Axe."
He accepted the handshake while looking at the shattered glass, undoubtedly looking to see if he could get a reflection to determine where the shooters were. "And you are...?'
I smiled. "I already told you. I'm the Doctor."
And then, knowing when to make my exit, I spun out of cover and brought the sonic disruptor up. Sam and Jesse were opening fire from cover, buying me a critical moment to get to my feet and extend the sonic disruptor with Setting 42. Bullets bounced off of the protective field and hit the ground. As shooters dived for cover, mystified at not having hit me, I got to the object I needed.
It was, of course, a fire extinguisher. A very handy invention, I must say.
I grabbed it with one hand and gave it an underhanded toss that sent it back to the bar where the Scumbag and his shooters were gathering. As it hit the bar and bounced my sonic screwdriver came out of my sleeve and I triggered it, creating a thin beam of invisible energy that burst open the extinguisher. The chemicals inside exploded all over the gunmen, screams coming from behind the bar as they were covered in chemicals and broken metal. "Get out, now!", I shouted.
Sam led the terrified Miss Hiller through the broken glass, Jesse following and ready to provide cover fire. I went out the front door again to give them an extra target. Bullets started to fly our way again as the least-injured gunman got back up. But he would be too late and, indeed, would have greater trouble given the sirens wailing in the distance.
I arrived at the alleyway right before them. Katherine was kneeling over, trying to comfort the terrified little boy all alone with strangers. When his mother rounded the corner into the alley he looked at her and screamed "Mommy!" in childish joy. She screamed his name - Lewis, hrm - and got to her knees to grab hold of her lost child, weeping happily.
Sam and Jesse stood beside her while Katherine stood beside me. "Not bad," Sam said. "If you want to stick around and see about doing this more often, we could use a new partner."
"I imagine you could," I replied. "But Katherine and I have other places to be, sights to see."
"Well, I hope you come back sometime. I still owe you a few mojitos."
"Expect me when you see me, Mister Axe." I took Katherine's hand and turned. "Expect me when you see me."
As we walked down the length of the alley, I heard Jesse call out, "Hey man, where are you going?!"
"We're parked down here!", I called back. As we walked on I took out some sunglasses and checked the rear reflection with them. Sam and Jesse had left the alley with their happy client and her son. I brought my hand up and snapped my fingers. Ahead of us, the cloaked TARDIS appeared and opened its doors. "Well, my dear, that was an fun excursion, wasn't it?"
"Quite delightful, Doctor," Katherine agreed. "I always enjoy getting to help like that." She took up her place across from me at the TARDIS controls as I started entering new coordinates. "Um, Doctor...?"
I looked up and over to the door. Outside of the still-open door, Sam Axe had returned to the alley and was staring, wide-eyed, at the - to him - bizarre image of us inside the little box that was bigger on the inside. I grinned at him and waved. "Well now, it looks like I owe you a mojito too!" I gripped the TARDIS control and pulled it. "Tally ho!"
As I snapped my fingers to have the doors close, I was just able to hear him muttering, "I need to cut back on the mojitos."
We re-materialized in Miami, some months in the past of the last event. Now that I knew which cosmos we were in, I decided I wanted to observe an event and.... perhaps... see if I could influence it. We stepped out of the TARDIS a fair distance away from a small, unassuming suburban home. "Doctor, what's going on?", Katherine asked.
"I wanted to see something," I replied. As we watched, a vehicle came to a stop a distance away and armed men moved toward the house. There they stopped. I reached out with my Time Lord senses and....
"Damn," I said, not keeping the disappointment out of my voice.
"It's a Fixed Point," I answered softly. "A powerful one. And too many witnesses, too much coming after this... I can't stop it."
I stepped back into the TARDIS and made sure the invisibility field was preventing people from seeing inside of it. And from there all I could do was watch. Watch the armed men as they waited for orders before finally, after several terrible minutes, they moved forward. The lead men went in the door. I forced my eyes to stay open as I felt tears come to them. "I'm sorry," I breathed.
The front of the house exploded.
Katherine's mouth hung open in shock. We kept watching and, soon enough, a figure emerged from the side. Despite the distance both of us recognized him as Jesse Porter, carrying a young boy about the same age as the one we had just rescued in the "future"... compared to this point, that is. "Doctor, what just happened?", Katherine asked.
I closed the TARDIS door and stepped back toward the controls. "I had hoped to save that child's grandmother. She... she had to sacrifice herself. For the boy and his uncle. For her boys." I tried to wipe the tears from my eyes. "I wasn't smart enough. I'm a bloody Time Lord and I'm still helpless to save people like that. She just wanted to raise her grandson in peace! And a bunch of bloody fanatics with guns made her do that! And I couldn't stop it!"
I slammed my hand on the TARDIS control and tried to control the raging frustration inside of me. It was such a dry argument to make, that preserving history was worth the deaths of people like that. I knew it was correct. But I hated it. I hated it to my very core.
Katherine took my hand to turn me around before she put her arms around me. "You're a good man, Doctor, but even as a Time Lord you can only do so much. Please don't hurt yourself trying to do more."
I nodded. "Thank you, Katherine." I used my fingers to grip her cheek so I could have her look up at me as I looked down at her, allowing our eyes to meet. "I don't know what I would have become if I had stayed alone."
Katherine nodded. It looked like she went to speak, to ask something, but she stopped.
I sighed and forced a smile across my face. I had an inkling of what I might have become if Katherine had not joined me. All alone like that, with my identity lost, with the frustration of balancing my duties as a Time Lord with my desires to help people and make history better....
I would have become something terrible. Something more dangerous than any thread I had yet to face.
I whispered a thanks to Katherine yet again and reached for the TARDIS lever to shift us away from that sad neighborhood. It was time to continue our adventure.
Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series
Posted: 2017-03-13 08:11am
Short 21 - Monkey Trouble
Sometimes exploring the Multiverse is exciting.
Sometimes its extraordinary.
Sometimes its even terrifying.
And sometimes.... just sometimes... its just plain bollocks.
What kind of bollocks, do you ask?
How about being chased by a giant bloody monkey?
Jungle vines and limbs obstructed me as I ran through the undergrowth, Katherine's hand in mine as she trailed right behind. There was a roar behind and above us. I glanced back in time to see a giant ape swing down toward us. I yanked out the sonic disruptor and hit it with a full Setting 4 blast, enough power to send it tilting backward into the nearest tree. It was up in a second and roaring again.
Thankfully the TARDIS was around the corner. Having to run back to it was a pain, but when you're being chased by a big ape you can't exactly hold still long enough to remote control it safely. We rushed in. Katherine pulled the door closed behind us while I got up to the TARDIS control and pulled the lever to shift us....
The TARDIS rocked heavily under our feet as the engine VWORPed. "Bloody hell, it grabbed us as we dematerialized!" I yanked at the control and brought us back out of the Time Vortex. The TARDIS still shook underneath us until it rocked hard, throwing us around as we held on desperately to whatever handhold we could find. I noticed the external systems were showing nearby life and went to the TARDIS door.
Our monkey friend was standing in the middle of a street, howling at a passing car. It was old-looking, 1920s? No, not just 1920s... it was a Satomobile.
"Well, at least the metalbending police should be able to contain that thing," I said to Katherine. "Although Chief Bei Fong is going to be rather cross with me."
Indeed, the first policeman was already on the scene, riding a motorbike. The heavy-coated man drove the bike around the big ape and motioned the bystanders away... not that there were many left. The ape shrieked in rage and started slamming the ground around the motorbike, forcing the driver into some daring evasive maneuvers. He turned enough to see me and drove the bike over. As he pulled up and I could see his eyes through the visor I raised an eyebrow. Oh, of course. "Ah, finally signed up, Mako?"
"Doctor, what is that thing? It looks like an oversized goat gorilla!"
"Well, that's half right. It is, in fact, an oversized gorilla. It's from an Alternate Earth with megafauna and grabbed the TARDIS as I dematerialized." I nodded. "Good to see you've gone ahead, joined the boys in blue.... well, gray I suppose. Who's playing on the team though? I was going to take Katherine to a match when the season restarted."
"Maybe we can discuss it when this giant gorilla thing isn't wrecking the city?", Mako asked pointedly.
He had a good point, so I focused on the business at hand. I turned and saw the beast was going after abandoned cars and wrecking them. "If we can knock the bugger out I can lash him to the TARDIS and take him home," I said, pulling out my sonic disruptor and set it to Setting 21, a setting custom designed to create splitting but very non-lethal headaches. "He won't like fire. Corral him to me." I looked to Katherine while Mako stood from his police bike. "Make sure everyone's out of the cars and off the road. We need time for the Metalbenders to get here and restrain King Kong over there."
"Of course, Doctor." Katherine went down the sidewalk to find any bystanders.
"Tally ho!" I shouted, motioning toward the beast. Mako gave me a skeptical look before we rushed forward. He went around the thing while I brought up the disruptor and triggered Setting 21. The beast roared angrily and thrashed about. As it drew closer to Mako he threw generated a fire to scare it off. It twisted and turned, frightened and upset and starting to lose consciousness. Everything was working fine.
Naturally, that's when it went wrong.
The beast flailed about and found an abandoned Satomobile to grab, which it threw at me. I had to dive for cover to avoid getting smashed by it. Which, of course, meant that as I scrambled to get back up it no longer had my sonic interfering with its head and was free to attack Mako directly. He jumped out of the way and generally showed off all of those hard-won dodging skills from the pro-bending arena. Unfortunately, this was being done against a fast and very determined gorilla who weighed a ton, so after a few dodges he took a glancing hit from an angry paw swipe. Mako made a spin in mid-air and fell over.
I brought the sonic disruptor back up and turned it on the ape again. Kong - I'm just going to call the monkey 'Kong' from now on, for good reason - promptly snatched Mako up by the feet and threw him at me. I wasn't able to get out of the way in time and had the air knocked out of my lungs when he slammed into me horizontally. "Bloody hell," I groaned.
Kong growled and beat his fists against the road, shattering some of the asphalt. He was ready to charge us. He would have, if someone hadn't hit him in the head with loose masonry.
My eyes tracked where it had come from. Katherine was near a pile of rubble, hefting another chunk of pavement. "Over here!", she called out.
"Katherine, no!", I shouted, while Mako and I struggled to get untangled and back to our feet.
Kong growled at her and charged. She threw the lump of concrete to no effect and ran toward us. But the thing was fast, as we'd found out, and here it had no jungle or the like to impede it. Kong snatched Katherine right up. "Katherine!"
She struggled in the grip of the mighty ape's paw. "Let go of me! Doctor!"
A RCPD zeppelin moved overhead. Several metalbenders swung down to confront Kong as well. It let out a growl of rage and jumped over them onto the skyscraper behind us. I turned and looked up as it clambered up the building.
Let me repeat that point. An abnormally huge bloody gorilla on a rampage had a lovely blonde in one hand and was climbing up a 1920s-1930s-era skyscraper.
I fought down my worry for Katherine by turning to some humor. "Great, now all we need are biplanes."
Lo and behold, the noise of engines drew our attention to down the road. A biplane moved down the deserted street. I recognized Asami from the black hair coming out from under her leather piloting cap and Korra from her usual aversion to the concept of shirt sleeves (she'll go without them in the Antarctic, what makes you think a little chill from wind would phase her?). "Marvelous timing, there!" I ran up to the biplane. "I need a ride up! It's got Katherine!"
"I didn't put in a third seat!", Asami protested.
I responded by looping an arm around the wing and climbing up into it. "I'll be fine!" Seeing what I was doing, Mako climbed up on the other wing.
"But what about the traffic? With this much weight I can't take off in time!"
I pulled out the sonic disruptor. "I think Mako and I can handle that."
He nodded and extended a free arm.
"Korra can airbend air flow over the wings for a little extra lift if we need it," I added. "Now let's go!"
Asami nodded and slipped the aviator's goggles back over her eyes. The engines on the biplane throttled up and we began moving. The street ahead was empty for a way, but not long enough before we'd run into traffic. "Steady... steady... now!" I triggered Setting 4. Across from me flame erupted from Mako's fist. Korra waved her arms and increased the air flow over the wings, granting us extra lift. The biplane took off just before the lines of moving cars ahead. Once we were airborne and above the buildings Asami banked the plane and brought us back around. "Kong" had gotten to the flat top of the building at that point. A good thing; fighting him on a spire would have been a pain.
"Are you sure about this?!"
Asami's question made me think. Not as sure as I should be. In retrospect going up the elevators and stairs would have been safer, if longer.
But with Katherine in danger, I wasn't thinking straight. I wasn't going to lose her like I'd lost Jan and Cami. I had to get to her now.
"Pretty sure!", I shouted.
"I'm coming too!" Korra stood in the seat, delicately balancing herself. Things would be so much easier if she'd learned to use those Air Nomad air gliders by now...
"Ready.... ready..." I let Asami gain more altitude so she could give us a safer angle of attack. "Now!"
The biplane's nose lowered toward the building. I kept my grip on the wing while my mind raced through the calculations. "Steady... steady! Now!" I let go and jumped. "Geronimo!"
Yes, I know, that's Eleven's line, but it just fit so well.
I had planned to use the sonic disruptor's force emissions setting (setting 9) to soften my landing, but such proved unnecessary. Air raced up to meet us courtesy of Korra's airbending, creating a cushion that allowed us to land without breaking anything.
The skyscraper's roof was big enough to allow us some maneuvering room even with the size of the ape. It still had Katherine gripped in its left hand. "Doctor!", she screamed.
"Hang on, Katherine!"
Kong turned toward us and let out a howl of rage. "Oi, calm down!", I shouted back. "It's not my fault you were bloody stupid and grabbed my TARDIS!"
"Hey!", Korra shouted in protest.
I glanced back at Korra. "I'm talking to him... it... whatever, not you," I said.
"You're trying to talk to it?" Korra made her ever-lovable "utterly confused" face.
"Well, it works with Mouse," I answered.
"Mouse is actually intelligent, though," Mako pointed out.
Kong had stared at us through thinned eyes as we bantered. He - I'm presuming 'he' from this point on - evidently decided this was enough and roared again. "Oh, knock it off," I retorted. As he moved to charge I brought the sonic up and triggered Setting 21 again, slightly lower in intensity, as I wanted him stunned and not enraged. He still shook poor Katherine about.
"Hold on!" Korra charged ahead and let out a burst of flame that struck the left arm of the ape, which she held in place. This had the unfortunate side effect of adding the smell of burnt fur to our surroundings.
It also prompted the ape to throw Katherine.
She let out a scream of surprise and, given the ape's aim, it's unsurprising that she ended up being thrown right into Mako. To his benefit he tried to catch her, but the velocity was too great. He went flying as well and they both went toward the ledge...
...and over it.
My "Katherine!" and Korra's "Mako!" came at about the same moment as we raced to the edge to do what we could. Mako had Katherine with one arm while using the other to create a flame jet. It wasn't nearly enough to keep them aloft, but it did slow their fall and buy time for Asami to get the biplane under them. Mako shifted the flame jet enough to give them a rough, but workable, landing in the rear seat of the aircraft.
Well, that part was over, all that was left was a killer gorilla that was in a state of permanent rage, and we had a space of a hundred feet by about a hundred and thirty feet to move around in to avoid getting knocked over ourselves.
"Where did this thing come from?", Korra asked.
"Alternate Earth, quite a bit of megafauna on that world. If we can get enough metalbenders..."
The gorilla smashed the roof with enough force that he could get his hands on a chunk of material to throw at us. He roared and tossed it. Korra sent out a concentrated gust of air that threw it back in his face. That, as you imagine, only made him that much angrier. He jumped up and down in fury and charged. Korra rolled under him and used airbending to send him over her head, opening me up for a Setting 4 shot that sent him flying toward a ledge. It might have made things depressingly easier if the beast had fallen over. But it did not.
Talking to it didn't work for a reason; it really was too dumb. This wasn't actually King Kong, after all, merely his dunce hat-wearing cousin... or copy... or some such. And I say it was dumb because it... promptly tried the same tactic again. We repeated our response and sent it flying again. I looked about. More zeppelins were already showing up and the first one was pulling up above the edge of the building.
Another charge. This time Korra side-stepped it with a poise that would have won Tenzin's approval. A powerful gust of air knocked the ape off his feet.
Metal wires lashed out from the zeppelins and wrapped around Kong as he tried to stand. Kong let out a howl again and struggled. The metalbenders on the zeppelins rooted themselves with their own metalbending skills to their craft to avoid being pulled off. "I wish the stun setting worked on that thing," I mumbled, lowering my sonic disruptor. "If we can tranquilize it I can tie it to the TARDIS and take it home."
"It's going to take a lot of tranquilizer to keep that overgrown goat gorilla down."
"Yes, well.... Oi, no no no!"
Kong had gotten a hand on the cables and was using it to pull. The metalbenders bent low in the open port of the zeppelin. Their anchors screeched and they cried out, trying to keep the monstrous ape from pulling their arms out of their sockets or ripping them out of their footholds, whichever came first.
"On second thought, we might not have time for tranquilizers." Korra reached down over and concentrated. Some of the roof ripped free - earthen enough for her earthbending to effect - and she lobbed it at the ape. It collided with it and disintegrated, making the creature howl louder.
At this point the zeppelin fired its own metal wire to snare the creature and relieve pressure from the stressed metalbenders. This proved a mistake when the creature caught those wires too and pulled. "Oh no no no no!" I brought up the disruptor again and used setting four, trying to get the creature to let go. He roared and wouldn't let go.
Korra threw several more stones that were set into the roof, battering the beast and sending it toward the ledge. She was trying to knock it out with shots to the head, to no avail. But she was driving it closer and closer to the ledge. When she ran out of usable stones she alternated between fire and air blasts. I pitched in with setting 4 as best I could. "Detach from it!", I shouted to the metalbenders. One by one they did so, metalbending their wires loose. The zeppelin tried to retract but couldn't; Kong's main grip was on it even as we pushed him back to the edge.
We were going to kill him. That was horrible, but it couldn't be avoided. This thing was simply too feral and he was going to hurt someone badly if we didn't get him put down.
The zeppelin was getting pulled along by Kong as he teetered toward the edge. In desperation the zeppelin crew detached the wire from its source. Which was, ultimately, a Bad Thing.
Even as the wire popped loose Korra let out one of her really good battle cries and summoned up a big enough gust of wind to blow the thing all the way to the edge. I triggered Setting 4 one last time.
That did the trick. Kong howled and pitched over the edge, his arms wheeling....
...and still attached to the metal cord from the zeppelin, which came down around Korra. The end struck the side of her head. She cried out and fell over, dazed to the point of unconsciousness. The rest wrapped around her and tightened when she didn't resist, pinning her arms to her sides. She didn't have the chance to hit the ground before the cord pulled her to the ledge.
"Korra!" I raced after her. The earthbender zeppelin was still maneuvering in a turn to regain control and the metalbenders couldn't see what happened. The other zeppelins were too far away for their occupants to help. I got a hand around her upper arm before she went over. But Kong had too much momentum and was too bloody heavy as it was. I was yanked along for the ride as a jolt of pain went through my right shoulder, telling me I had dislocated it again.
Suddenly I was in freefall, one hand still on Korra. Falling off another skyscraper... this day was complete bollocks! But I had no time to complain, no time to do anything. Korra was out cold for the moment and bound up tightly enough that even if her Avatar State kicked in I wasn't confident she could save herself, much less both of us. So it would have to be me.
I triggered Setting 14 and focused it on the metal cable just below Korra's feet. The metal turned red hot for a moment before snapping due to the heat. I turned Korra away from the building so my body would take the initial impact and, with a split second calculation of my relative velocity and the angles needed, brought the disruptor up and triggered Setting 9 at max power. It shifted our momentum laterally, sending us flying into the building....
....and if I was not a Time Lord, I would probably have smashed myself into the building and broken several bones before resuming our fatal fall. But I am a Time Lord (thankfully) and my calculations threaded the needle and I drove us into a window instead. I felt the painful impact of glass on my back that shattered on our impact, sending us flying into a vacant office room with a jarring enough impact that I lost my grip on Korra, who rolled to a stop. Transferring velocity laterally had helped slow us and the glass had absorbed some of our kinetic energy, but there was enough left to send me flying through the room and into a desk that toppled over on me, adding to my agony. I laid there for a moment, huffing, ignoring the pain in my dislocated shoulder and the shards of glass in my back and neck and legs and, yes, my arse too. And the bruises. Oh the bruises.
It didn't compare to the last time I fell off a skyscraper, at least. But don't let you think that didn't keep it from still being bloody painful.
I groaned and tried to force the desk off of me with just my left arm. "Great, now I've dislocated both arms," I muttered to myself as I strained. I twisted my legs and used them for leverage sufficient to get out from under the desk. I looked over to where Korra was starting to stir and crawled over. With my right arm useless I had to use my left hand to run the sonic screwdriver over the injury on her head. Please don't be a brain injury was all I could think as I waited for the results. I let out a sigh of relief when the results showed me that, thankfully, Korra's head being thick wasn't just a metaphorical character trait. There was no brain damage or skull damage, just a terrible bruise. With waterbending healing and some medigel she would be just fine.
I was unwrapping the cable when she groaned and opened her eyes. Korra sat up and rubbed at her forehead. "Ow...." She looked around. "What happened?"
"Kong tried to take you with him and I stopped him," I explained. "Welcome to the Skyscraper Sky Dive club, Korra. It's not my favorite club, frankly."
She moaned again. She looked over to me and, as ruffled as she looked, I probably looked much worse. "What happened to you?"
"A dislocated shoulder, more bruises than I care to count, and glass stuck in various pieces of me. Including my arse." I used my left hand to rub my rear end and managed to pull out the offending shard. "Ah, much better." I held up the shard and plinked it away. "Bloody monkey."
"Well, this beats more meditation lessons from Tenzin," Korra joked while putting her hands on my right shoulder. "Cami showed me how to handle this." With an expression of effort and a grunt, Korra put enough pressure on the shoulder to snap it back into place.
I responded by sucking in breath and ignoring the pain as best as I could. "Thank you. I can never get used to that. Both shoulders now. A regular matching set." I chuckled. "If I never fall off a bloody skyscraper again, I can die a happy man."
"So we killed it?"
"Yes. Had to be done." I almost relayed the famous line of beauty killing the beast, but movers - movies - had yet to be invented here and it would probably lose something in translation.
Korra rubbed at a slight cut on her cheek where a small glass chard had drawn blood. Her smile turned from mirth to softness as her arms wrapped around my shoulders. I matched the embrace as she said, softly, "Thank you for saving me, Doctor."
"You're welcome, Korra," I answered. After the embrace continued for a moment I winced. "....and I think you just found a cracked rib. Ow ow ow ow..."
My injured condition was probably the only thing that kept me from getting thrown into a metal cage by a very irate Chief Bei Fong. As it was I handed over much of the gold I had in the TARDIS as payment for damages before we were carried off to Air Acolyte Island and some recuperation.
We were seated - so to speak - at the dining table with the family. "So you guys got to do all that and I missed out?" Bolin gave us a displeased look.
"It wasn't fun, Bolin," Mako countered. "That thing was dangerous."
"Still, it was a shame it had to be destroyed." Tenzin took a bite of his steamed meal. "I can only guess what went through the poor thing's mind at being in such a strange place."
"I'm just happy it didn't cause even more damage." Mako's expression lightened as he turned his head to face me. "I haven't had the chance to say thank you for catching Korra."
I swallowed a bite. "Oh, no need for that. Besides, you caught Katherine."
"Mako gets all the girls." Bolin's wistful remark earned him a look of sibling displeasure and brought a blush to Katherine's cheeks. "Weren't you younger when you were here last time?"
"It was my fourteenth birthday, yes," Katherine replied. "The Doctor tells me it can take getting used to, meeting people who have moved through time differently." She smiled at me. "Sometimes I think he literally went from one of my birthdays to the next."
I smiled slightly in reply, since she was actually quite true. I had done that, when I wasn't busy with the quantum compiler device I'd used to restore Madoka. It was all I had to look forward to at that time, when the loneliness after losing Cami and Jan was crushing me.
"I'd like to go some time, Doctor," Jinora asked. "Could you take me into the past to see Grandpa Aang?"
Tenzin gave me a quiet look that was as close as he'd come to demanding I say no. I opted for replying, "It's something to consider for the future" to avoid offending either.
"I'd love to go on a trip in the TARDIS too," Korra said wistfully, playing with some greens on her plate. She gave an irritated look at Tenzin, who sighed. Oi. I forgot how bad their relationship was getting.
"Perhaps when your training is complete," Tenzin answered, giving me yet another look of "Do not contradict me, please".
"It would be safer that way," I agreed. "I've told you before about the risks of taking your Avatar Spirit out of your world."
"I know, I know..." Korra looked down at her plate. "But hearing you talk about all of these places you've gotten to see with the TARDIS, and all I've seen is Chicago and Arendelle."
"Say, how is Molly?" That was from Bolin, who was trying and failing to not look eager. "I mean, just to ask. How are they all?"
"They are doing quite well," I answered, eager to get us off the subject lest Korra and Tenzin end up in an argument. "Admittedly things have not always been well. Michael was crippled in a battle with dark forces and has given up his Sword. But he is happy with his family. Harry is doing well, still setting buildings on fire..." Katherine chuckled at that as I went on.
I was still feeling tender that night when it was time to go. Katherine and I walked out to where the TARDIS was parked on one of the temple's vistas facing Republic City. As we got close to the TARDIS Korra and the others walked up and joined us. "Doctor, before you go, I wanted to ask something."
We turned back. "Certainly, Korra."
"What happened to Jan and Cami?"
I let out a breath and closed my eyes. "It's... it's a long story, Korra. It's... honestly I..."
"I'd like to know too, Doctor," Katherine asked. I turned toward her and saw her curious expression mixed with concern. "You never talk about it. I know there's a reason. but wouldn't it be better to share it?"
I sighed and felt pain in my hearts. I could feel a tear in my eye as I flashed back to that day in Main Engineering on Voyager. With my perfect Time Lord memory I saw the looks of horror and terror on my Companions' faces once again. "I..." I walked over to the railing and looked out at the beautiful golden skyline of Republic City at night. "It was my fault. I was grabbing pieces for a machine I needed and the TARDIS took damage. We materialized on a ship called the Voyager as it was being attacked and.... it was the Borg."
"The who?", Asami asked.
"Think of an entire civilization under the control of a single hive mind, every individual surgically altered with cybernetics - with machine pieces in their bodies - and with their individuality crushed under the strength of the Collective Hive Mind. Every person turned into nothing more than a drone without a bit of free will. And with a single injection, they can spread microscopic machines into a person's body, where they begin building the cybernetic implants to convert someone into one of them. The end result is always the same: Complete and total assimilation by the Collective. Everything unique about you is crushed by he weight of the Hive Mind."
"That sounds... freaky," Bolin said. "People with machines in their bodies?"
Korra and Asami looked the most horrified. Understandably so; they were the closest to my former companions. "Doctor, are you saying these Borg took them?", Asami asked.
"Yes," I answered. "We saved Voyager but I couldn't get to them before the Borg transported them off. I'll never forget the terror I saw on their faces..."
Katherine's eyes filled with compassion. "Oh Doctor."
"Doctor, we have to save them!", Korra insisted, tears forming in her eyes. "Let's..."
"I did, Korra," I said quickly, seeking to reassure them all. "I used some Borg nanites - their microscopic machines - and changed their coding. The... commands that operated their hive mind. I tore off entire chunks of their Collective, isolated the ship with Jan and Cami, and got them out."
I saw relief in their features. Katherine shook her head. "Thank God you saved them. I can only imagine how horrible it was."
"It was very horrible. Cami had almost lost her mind by the time I got to them," I said. "And that was the end for them. They didn't want to travel anymore. They couldn't. It had all been so very terrible for them... I gave them a nice new home and wealth to live comfortably. They're very happy now."
"Thank you for doing that for them," Asami said. She did seem disappointed. Korra did as well; the implication was clear that they would never see Jan and Cami again.
"I did what I needed to. For them." I looked over at Katherine and tried to keep the fear off of my face.
"You always do," Korra said. She gave me a hug. "Just like you were there for me today."
"Like I always will be," I promised.... a promise I should have known better to give. "Remember, all you have to do is give me a call when you need my help. And I will come."
When I had given her the temporal beacon that would let her call me, I had warned her there were things in the future that had to happen, that I couldn't stop. But I must admit... I no longer felt that way. If she called me for help against Unalaq and Vaatu I intended to come. The same with any threat that came afterward. If Korra was in trouble and I knew about it, I was going to be there. Just like I would for every friend and ally I'd made in my travels.
After we shifted the TARDIS out I took to the hot tub to soothe my bruises. Katherine entered the library with her bags packed. "Ready to go home?", I asked her.
"Never," she insisted. After that Katherine sighed and lowered herself into a chair. "But I know I have to. Frankly Victor would have half the Lyran nation yelling at him without me."
"Yes, a sad thing there. Have you ever talked him into being more of a civilian?"
"He can't get his mind off the Clans."
"Ah. Regrettable but also understandable." I shifted in he tub and let out my own sigh, feeling a little better already. Korra's waterbending healing had set my rib and healed the glass cuts, at least, but the rest of the damage would take time. Not much time since I was a healthy Time Lord, but still some time.
"Doctor, I never imagined what happened with Jan and Cami," Katherine said. "I'm so sorry for all of you."
"Thank you," I answered softly. "I'm just thankful I saved them."
"So you were jumping from birthday to birthday for me, weren't you?", Katherine asked. "You didn't want to be alone."
I remained silent for a moment before deciding on honesty. Katherine deserved that. I nodded. "Yes. I couldn't stand it otherwise."
"Don't worry about it," she urged. "I can understand. And I love being out here with you."
"I know you do. I...." I stopped at that point. I couldn't give voice to my worry that one day a monster would get her too.
"Doctor, I'm here of my own free will," she said, undoubtedly realizing my thoughts. "I know you'll always do your best to save me if I'm threatened. Please don't let what happened to them change how we travel. Please."
I sighed and nodded, smiling weakly. "I won't, Katherine. Just promise me you'll be careful."
"No more throwing rocks at giant gorillas!"
Katherine giggled at that. "Okay, if you must spoil my fun."
"Oi! You'll give me heart attacks at this rate, young lady!"
She kept giggling, and I admit I enjoyed the sound so much I laughed. We'd been through a few dangerous moments ourselves already and Katherine had shown she could handle it. I could trust her in that.
But I swore to myself that I would never, ever let a monster take her like one had taken Jan and Cami. I would never allow that same mask of terror I still saw on their faces to come to her's.
And if anything tried to hurt her like that... well, I might go farther than I ever had before if I had to in order to stop that.
No. Not might. I would.
And so I hoped I'd never have to try, because there was no telling what I might end up doing to protect her.
Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series
Posted: 2017-03-14 10:52am
Episode 16 - Mission of Mercy
It was Katherine's 22nd Birthday. At least on the calendar.
They seemed to go by so fast. Even accounting for the days and weeks we would travel between her stays home. Sometimes I'd be a day or two off.... okay, a month at one point, I forgot to carry the three... but for the most part I returned her within hours of taking her away. This difference in the time she spent away with me and the time of her home meant that Katherine was understandably older than her birthday indicated. Given our many travels and adventures, she was actually twenty-four and a half today.
Unlike the prior year I did not come by for the function proper. My birthday gift would come afterward, as I had found a sunny little garden planet that acted as a floral species depository for a galactic civilization (None that you lot would know of). I knew she'd love it.
She opened the door to the TARDIS and carried in bags. Today she was in a Commonwealth-colored suit, mixing the orange of House Davion with the blue of House Steiner. Very patriotic design, yes, and she looked swell in it.
There was a new addition to her wardrobe today. A single pendant with a beautiful amethyst stone set into it. I waited for her to put her bags down and look up. "Nice necklace. Some presumptive suitor, I presume?"
"Yes. Honestly I can't keep track of all the gifts I get offered by the bachelors of the Commonwealth," Katherine said. She looked at me and a confused expression came across her face. "Why are you in a bathrobe?"
"Bathrobe?" I looked down at where I was covered in a soft purple robe with gold glitter trim and some stars and crescent moons grafted on at points. "Oh, right. It's not a bathrobe." I reached above the TARDIS and pulled something down, which I set on my head.
"And that's a pointed hat with your fez on the point," Katherine said, still befuddled.
"Yes. Oh, yes, sorry, my wizard robes." I smiled. "I was at the Unseen University for a Hogswatch banquet, had to look the part. I can actually wear a nice purple suit as a wizard without confusing people about whether I'm going to start gassing people with toxic laughing gas."
"Ah." The confusion went away. "So that explains why your pointed hat has 'Doctor' in golden lettering above the brim?"
"Yes. I got a very nice deal on the embroidery by a nice young seamstress, er, needlewoman trained by the wonderful Ms. Battye herself." I put the hats back up above the TARDIS control. "While you settle your things in I'll be in my wardrobe."
Katherine nodded and walked on. I couldn't help but look back at the necklace again. It was beautifully-faceted, a treasure, and my favorite color to boot. What wasn't to like?
As I headed to the wardrobe to get into a fresh suit, I let my mind wander a bit. Katherine would undoubtedly start to come under pressure to marry a reliable man and produce heirs, since her older brother was clearly holding out on a political miracle to marry the woman he loved. The pressure might not be too bad, since she had three younger siblings, but it could be there. Or they might try to rope her into a marriage for political purposes.
And when that happened... she would not be able to travel with me. Not as much as we do now. I would be alone...
These thoughts rattled in my head as I found her waiting for me in the control room. I was back in my usual suit - for those who've forgotten, I look good with navy blue suit jacket and trousers, blue dress shirt, and light blue suit vest with green running shoes - and it fit rather well. Still no ties, of course. "Well, off we go to the flower nursery planet of Guotar!"
"An entire world devoted to growing flowers?", she asked.
"Sure. And then the Kraknaradaaplikuiuspinocka Nebula."
Katherine's face twisted. "Kraknardaaplikuius.... what?"
"Kraknaradaaplikuiuspinocka," I repeated flawlessly. "Say that five times fast." I winked. "Beautiful nebula, all sorts of earthy colors. You can see it from the open plains of Kraknardaaplikuiuspinralakoolis' main continent. I'd say the species' name for themselves but it's four times the length of Kraknaradaaplikuiuspinocka and far too much of a bother." I finished shifting switches around and had the TARDIS ready. "And then maybe the Lapaga Plains of Terlari. The Terlari Dorei throw marvelous parties..."
"I just had one," Katherine laughed, reminding me.
"Oh, not parties like Terlari, though," I replied, winking. "Alright, let's go. Happy birthday, Katherine. Tally ho!"
I pulled back on the TARDIS control lever. VWORP VWORP VWORP. With a spring to my step I dashed up to the door and threw it open. "Guotar here we.... Oi, watch where you're pointing that thing!"
An armored man, human, was holding a sword toward me. I whipped out the sonic disruptor in time to use it to parry a swipe. I acted like I was going to swing it to prompt the man to pull his blade back in self defense, at which point I hit him with a blast of Setting 21 that gave him a nasty bloody headache, enough that he fell over. "That'll teach you to point sharp objects at guests!", I bellowed.
Katherine's shout made me look around at our unexpected settings. It was, as you might suspect, not a floral nursery planet.
All around us was the sight of a city under what is colloquially called a sack. Desperate citizens fled, desperate defenders tried to fight off numerous attackers, and houses around us were already on fire. "Definitely not a flower planet," I muttered to her. I looked back down at my attacker. He had been using a sword, yes.... but I could see what looked to be a firearm slung over his back. And there was an insignia on his blue combat uniform. "A black chimera on a red.... Oh bugger." I raised my eyes and found what I knew would be there, on a nearby flagpole. Another flag.
Red on the left, gold on the right, and a black dragon with wings fully extended side-by-side and a tail that went down and across along the banner.
Well... I suppose this was it. I knew from an early adventure of mine with Jan and Cami, right after I'd given Jan her lightsaber, that I'd be getting mixed up in this event. I had hoped it would be even further down my timestream though, and not at all with Katherine.
"Where are we, Doctor?", Katherine asked.
"The City of Truce," I answered. "This is the Fall of Guardia."
People were screaming and fleeing from the approaching Porre soldiers, clad in blue combat suits with breastplates and graves and helmets. Each man had a sword and what looked like a flintlock or musket. It was rather bizarre to think of this world as being modern in some ways - modern refridgerators and stove sfoves for instance - and maybe late 18th century in firearms. Then again, having a world hegemon and four centuries of peace undoubtedly had its effects.
"Doctor, we have to do something," Katherine said. "Can't we stop this?"
"Fixed Point in time," I answered. "At least the sack is. I can't stop that." I hefted the sonic disruptor. "But that doesn't mean we do nothing. Get in the TARDIS, Katherine, and be ready. I'll bring survivors to you."
"I want to help," she insisted.
"And you will be by making sure people can get to shelter. Stay with the TARDIS. Use the monitor to see who comes to the door and let the refugees in."
Katherine sighed and nodded. "Very well." She stepped inside and closed the door.
The smoke was growing thicker as the victorious Porre troopers lit houses on fire in a rush of violent frenzy. I had no idea what provoked such behavior from them. I did know who was responsible....
A line of Porre soldiers were running up toward me, guns loaded and readying. I glared at them and lifted my sonic disruptor, set to 42. Their weapons fired and bullets smashed against the protective field. Robbed of their kinetic energy and smashed against the field, they plinked to the stones below our feet. "I'm on a mission of mercy today, gentlemen," I announced. "You get one chance to run and keep running."
They stared at me in shock. But the sergeant or lieutenant or whomever reacted with an order to reload. I had considered setting 21. Just a brief burst of cranial pain and lights out. But I could see the blood on their swords and armor and knew what they'd been doing. I wasn't in the mood to be merciful to them.
So it was setting 4 instead. At full power.
The impact moved across the line like they had been struck by a truck. Men flew screaming into walls or onto the ground with enough force to crack bones. Some lost consciousness from the sheer force of the blast. The others moaned and moved about on the ground.
"You lot are lucky I didn't use a thermal pulse strong enough to ignite your gunpowder," I growled.
The crowds of people fleeing for their lives kept going. Clearly my actions weren't that interesting. Given the direction they were heading toward Leene Square, which I suppose was a decent dedoubt, especially if they could get to the canyon reaches.
I went door to door, urging everyone to get out. In the inn I found a Porre soldier chasing a young lady up the stairs with murderous intent. "Oi, down here!", I shouted. He turned in time to see me just before the force wave from setting 4 slammed into him, bouncing him off the wall and then back toward me and over the railing. "Young lady, get to Leene Square! Or two streets down, to the right, there's a blue police call box where you'll find shelter."
"Who... who are you?", she asked.
"I'm the Doctor, now go!"
I went back out into the streets, moving across the town square to the other side of town. After our first few encounters the Porre soldiers started giving me a wide berth. In fact, they started running. And given the people I was finding, the living and the dead... they were very wise to do so.
As I moved through this devastated town I felt cold rage building up inside of me. Just five years ago, from their perspective, everything had been peaceful. Now, due to one being's need for revenge, everything they love was being destroyed.
It was about that time that I started wondering about that guilty party. He would not be an easy fight, but if he came under my power, the things I could do to him... oh so many horrible things. Things I would never properly do to any being, but which in my rage I was prepared to visit upon him for his atrocities here.
I pushed the cold rage out. I needed to help people. That was my purpose here. I'm the Doctor, that's what I do; help people. Heal them. Make them better. Revenge fantasies were not part of the promise of the Doctor's name. Justice was what was needed. I had lives to save.
I came to a house and found a couple of Porre soldiers coming out with their knapsacks stuffed with loot. "Put that down now!", I demanded.
They looked at me with scorn. One started reaching for his weapon. So without further ado I gave them a solid taste of Setting 4. I picked up the knapsacks and noted, darkly, that one's sword was bloody. I carried the ill-gotten gains inside of the home they'd just left and set them on the table to my left, past the living area. I noted the makeup of the house and.... oh my. This house.
And then I saw the only person inside of it. The woman was early in her middle age, her hair a light brown hue. Light blue, grayish eyes looked up at me through a haze of pain, which was completely understandable given the blood oozing from her belly. I ran the sonic screwdriver over it. Damage to both intestines, oi. Gut wounds were always quite nasty to deal with. "Who... are you?", she asked.
"I'm the Doctor, and I'm here to help.... ah, what do we have here? Of course. A soft meowing came to my attention as I saw a single cat come up and start bumping its head up against the woman's free hand. I was not surprised. Had I the time I would have given the little feline a pat on the head. "Always good to have a cat around the house, ma'am. I'd hate to have to explain to your son how I let you bleed out, eh?" Especially since he was quite handy with a blade.
"Crono!", she called out. "He's... at the castle! They're attacking the castle!"
"I know, and I'll be heading there to sort them out shortly." I looked at the scan again. "If I move you it's just going to make the wound worst. Here, hold on." I took out the TARDIS remote and activated it. The TARDIS materialized around us. A few refugees were inside, huddling in a corner, while Katherine looked up from the monitor. "Doctor! Oh my God!"
"Get the medigel and the medical kit, now!", I shouted. I looked over and saw the cat rushing around, scared of his new environment. "Hey, settle down and I'll get you some nice milk," I said. I looked back to Crono's mother and took her hand. "Hold on. I'll have you up and about and doing chores again in no time, ma'am."
"Where am I?"
"You are inside my TARDIS. It would take a lot t explain and you must save your energy, but to suffice to say I am from another cosmos, another sixth dimensional locale you might say, and like your son I am a time traveler. And this is my time ship."
Katherine came running up with the medigel and pack. She helped me sterilize my hands and fit on sterile gloves and remained by my side while I worked to fix the wound. On her own Katherine applied the sufficient dose of medigel to keep Crono's mother - what was her name again? - stable and provided the anesthetic that would end what must have been a gruesome amount of pain. "I don't have time to let you flal unconscious, ma'am, I need to start now to save you. This is going to hurt."
She nodded, already in plenty of pain.
I used the medical tools to seal the intestinal wounds and the damaged blood vessels. I felt sweat on my forehead as I checked her vitals. They were getting too low. The internal wounds were too much for the medigel. I had to get her fixed up.
It took me several minutes even with the best technology of the Citadel, Starfleet, and Layom Station. Several agonizing, nail-biting minutes as her heart slowed and her organs nearly shut down, her body trying to preserve everything for her brain. At one point her heart nearly stopped and Katherine had to inject medigel again to keep her bio-electrics going.
By the time I was over my patient was sound asleep. The cat came up, mewled, and licked her face.
I took in a breath as I took off the bloodied gloves and threw them into a sterilizer pack. Sterile cloths wiped the blood that had gotten on my forearms.
"Okay, you and you..." I pointed to two Trucians. "You look healthy, I want you to carefully hold this lady so we can get her somewhere to recuperate. Katherine will show you to the library, set her in the couch and keep an eye on her! I've got to get to work on other things." I cursed myself for not having a stretcher or litter around. Another mundane item I should look into getting. Thankfully the wounds were fixed up enough that unless someone threw her around they would remain shut.
I checked the monitor while Katherine was gone, expanding the search parameters. Porre's sack of Truce was a disorganized mess, a raid gone out of control, and now the soldiers were panicking between militia resistance and, well, having a Time Lord running around and blasting them with a sonic disruptor. The Porre units involved were fleeing back to their army camp besieging the castle. For all intents and purposes, the sack of Truce was all over save for the burning.
"Everyone sit tight. We're heading to the castle for more survivors." And so I can accomplish what I know I was brought here to do. I put a hand softly against my TARDIS controls. "It was about time, wasn't it? Good on you for not forgetting, my girl."
By the time Katherine brought the other refugees back I had shifted the TARDIS to a quiet corner of Leene's Square. People were congregating around Nadia's Bell, medics and doctors treated the wounded, and over the monitor I saw far too many forms completely hidden by white sheets. I'd come too late to save them too....
But I was never going to be able to save everyone. That just wasn't possible here.
All of those dead, all for one man's bloody vengeance.
"Katherine," I said softly. "I need you to watch our patient. Just to be safe."
"Of course, Doctor," she answered. There were tears in her eyes. "I... I know we've seen so much in our travels, but to see all of these dead people, to see a war again, I..."
I reached over and brought her into a hug. "I know. We go out looking for the best in the universes and it seems that we're always seeing the worst too."
"Stop them, Doctor," she asked. "Please."
"I'll do what I can," I promised.
Katherine ended the hug and let me wipe the tears from her eyes. She turned and went straight up the stairs to the door leading on to the library.
I went to the TARDIS controls and began shifting her.
Next stop: Guardia Castle.
I stepped out of the TARDIS and looked around. It was the storage basement. Dead guard bodies were around me, alongside slain castle servants. The Porre forces had spared none, bullet wounds and sword wounds prominent on the dead. The stench of death was ghastly, urging me to move on.
Cold anger built up within me again as I brought out my sonic disruptor and went upstairs. The layout of the Castle was rather straight forward, although the limitations of continually updating an old castle meant that it was a twisting trip. I arrived at the front door to find a rear guard was securing the steps into the main hall. Bloodstains spoke of remains moved out of the way, to secure the entrance if anything. If I were in a more subtle mood I would have brought out the psychic paper and sent them off, pretending to be an officer of some sort.
But I wasn't in a subtle mood. I was bloody furious.
The sonic disruptor came up and I let them have it. Blast after blast knocked soldiers around. A few brought their guns up and fired, forcing me to stop long enough to deflect the shots. I brought the sonic screwdriver up in time to use a narrow sonic burst that blew out one soldier's ears as he tried to come at me with a sword. He fell, screaming, and I ignored him as I continued on to his fellows. "If you value your lives, drop your weapons and run!," i said coldly. "Run and keep running!"
They got the message when a couple more of them took strong enough blasts to be smashed against the solid stone wall. Weapons went down as the Porre soldiers tripped over themselves to flee.
I suppose I'd been lucky. A prepared force would have overwhelmed me. But they weren't prepared. They thought they'd already won and weren't ready for someone to come out and start blasting them.
...and yes, I know, it wasn't very Doctor-like of me to just outright resort to physical force. The Doctor usually outthinks his enemies, he doesn't just blast them with a sonic disruptor. The real one doesn't even have this. I would later regret it and wonder why I'd attacked as I did. Especially when I saw one soldier against the wall, blood trickling down from where the impact had cracked his skull. He could die from that. Die at my hands.
Is the Doctor supposed to kill?
I came to save life. Not to end it.
But the cold rage in me wouldn't let me think that at the time. All of this death. All of this destruction. For what? For the revenge of a self-important man who was party to the annihilation of his society?
Looking back, I sometimes wonder if this was the day I began the final downward spiral. If this day, these acts of violence, no matter how justified, prompted me to see it as acceptable. The problem was simple; nails that needed a hammer. And I was becoming the hammer.
Was this the day I began my ultimate path to becoming the Time Lord Triumphant?
Quite possibly so.
But the cold rage, spurred by all of the dead I'd seen, spurred me onward. I ascended the stairs, stepped over another dead figure in the uniform of Guardia, and went to the throne room door.
Inside I found them. Dalton, in his brown cape, his hair flowing, a snarl of hatred on his face and satisfied bloodlust in his remaining left eye. Crono was in a dress uniform of some sort, currently recovering against the wall. Marle was leaning against the throne, blood pouring down an injured left shoulder.
At Dalton's feet was her father, the thirty-third King of Guardia.
There was a sword sticking out of his back.
Blood erupted from his mouth. Dalton pulled the sword out. I could feel power brimming inside of it. Dark, terrible power. Of course. The Masemune, a sword of normally pure energy, now corrupted by Dalton's hatred and bloodlust. It was, after all, an artifact of his people, and in the hands of one of them their mental state could alter it.
"Daddy!", Marle wailed.
"Na...dia..." The old man coughed up more blood and tried to crawl back toward his wounded daughter.
"How does it feel," Dalton said to them, holding the bloodied sword up and pointing it toward Crono. "You cost me everything. My Kingdom. My future. My immortality. And now I'm taking everything from you! By now my soldiers have destroyed everything you have ever loved." Dalton let out a crazed laugh. "I sent two of my nastiest men to your house, 'Hero'. By now your mother's just as dead as this old dodder...."
"Oh, I don't think so," I called out. "She's quite alright now, bit touch and go but... yes, quite all right."
Dalton looked toward me. "What are you talk... who are you?!"
"I'm the Doctor," I answered. "And if I were you, sir? I'd run and I wouldn't look back."
As I said that, I knew what I planned to do. I wasn't going to kill Dalton.
In the end, I was going to make him wish I had.
Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series
Posted: 2017-03-14 11:30am
Yes, I think this was the beginning of the spiral.
Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series
Posted: 2017-03-15 11:40am
My face had no emotion on it. I did not snarl, I did not grin, I did nothing. The anger was kept locked down.
Dalton and Crono acted first. Dalton focused, summoning magic energy to unleash in my direction, and had to stop as Crono's blade nearly found his shoulder. He retreated back a step and brought up the red-tipped Masamune blade.
I almost attacked as well. But I forced that impulse down. In the end, I was still here to save life, not to take it. If there was any chance of saving the King I had to take it. I went to where he had crawled up to his daughter. Green light flowed from her hands into him; cure magic, obviously. I ran the sonic screwdriver over him. If he was stable enough....
I saw immediately he wasn't. His body was older and the wound had cut too much. Too much blood was lost. "There's nothing you can do for him," I murmured quietly.
"If you're a Doctor, you can heal him!", Marle insisted.
"He's too far gone," I answered. "The wounds are too much. I'm sorry..."
Her cheeks rose and her eyes squinted in the way all Humans do when they're about to start crying.
As the first sob came out I grabbed her shoulders, trying to avoid the gash on her left shoulder. "Listen to me! You haven't got time for that! Are there any others who got away from the killing?"
"In... in our room," she sobbed, indicating the pathway going out of the east side of the throne room. "Some of the staff."
"Go to them," I urged her. I will have an escape route in this room by the time you return."
"But my father..."
"...would want you to put your people first," I finished for her. "Now go."
I checked back to see Crono was holding his own for the moment. I realized his magic was exhausted and all he had left was his sword.
Dalton was not so hobbled. He broke out of a parry, wised away, and generated a string of energy balls that slammed into Crono's mid-section. He flew back toward the wall and struck it, briefly going to a knee. Dalton raised the Masamune and charged. Crono rolled away and brought his blade up, deflecting the follow-up swipe.
With Dalton's attention so expertly kept, I took the moment to pull out the TARDIS control and summon it. King Guardia looked around in pained wonder as the TARDIS materialized around us. "What is this?"
"My time ship," I answered as Katherine came up, medpac in hand. "Ah, Katherine, some painkillers please."
She looked down at the grievously wounded man and back to me in confusion. "But Doctor, he's...." She let out a small gasp of realization.
"Yes. I'm sorry."
The dying king lifted a hand, prompting me to get on a knee so I could hear his weakening voice. "Save... my daughter. Please."
"I intend to. I am sorry, Your Majesty, that I was too late for you." I stood and nodded to Katherine. "Ease his pain. He doesn't have long. And be on the look out for a young lady your age, she'll be needing her shoulder treated when she gets back with civilians." I checked the TARDIS controls to make sure the door was pointed toward the pathway up to Marle's bedrooom. I made a few setting changes in the process. At that I hefted the sonic disruptor. "And whatever you do, don't let the one-eyed man through."
I received a nod of confirmation as my reply.
I stepped back outside of the TARDIS in time to see Dalton fire off another spell in time to intercept a burst of energy from Crono's blade. The two forces met between them and canceled each other out. Dalton snarled and was stepping forward to swing his blade again when I struck him with a setting 4 blast that sent him flying into the wall. He recovered and shook his head. "I'll make you regret that." He sent a burst of magic at me that setting 42 absorbed, although not without difficulty. I stumbled backward from the absorbed force of the blast.
Crono moved ahead and very nearly got him with a swipe. Dalton got his blade in the way in the nick of time, deflecting the blow with a visible spark as their energetic blades slid across each other. Before he could try to counter-attack I blasted him again. He hit the wall once more. As he stumbled back to his feet I could see that frustration and fear were building up inside him. I leveled the disruptor and switched to setting 21. Dalton screamed as the disruptor's waves brought him headaches.
In retrospect, it proved a mistake.
With a sudden burst of panic and anger, Dalton brought forth a burst of energy that simply exploded outwards. Crono and I were sent flying backward due to the blast, and from experience I can tell you it was enough power to disorientate. Even with Time Lord senses I was still gaining my wits when he advanced on me, sword raised. I barely rolled out of the way when the corrupted sword crashed into the stone I had just been standing on. A series of orange energy balls lashed out from Dalton's other hand and caught me before I could get the sonic disruptor up.
It was like getting hit by miniature suns. Heat and energy washed over me, burning my skin and setting my suit on fire along my left flank and near my belly. I stumbled from the surge of pain and how it affected my equilibrium. Hitting the ground as I did at least helped to put out the flames on my suit, which I completed by rolling away from him... important because he brought his sword down again and was close enough that he cut the edge of my right arm, the tip of the blade just missing flesh while slicing through the fabric of both my jacket and my shirt.
His next sword swipe was intercepted by Crono's blade, giving me time to finish rolling away. I brought the sonic disruptor up but had to hold off on firing; they were moving too quickly and I didn't want to hit the wrong man. I waited to see which of them would get the upper hand; Crono was clearly more tired, but Dalton was, for all his ferocity, an inferior swordsman, and he struggled with the heavier blade against the swipes and parries of the rainbow-glistening katana in Crono's hands.
I looked back in time to see civilians pouring into the TARDIS' front door. Good, that was done at least.
Losing at swordplay prompted Dalton to return to his magic, and in a way I had - silly me- completely forgotten about him doing. He levitated off the ground for a moment, giving him enough momentum to jump over Crono. He didn't bring his sword down, not yet. An iron orb coalesced from nothingness above him and came crashing down on Crono's right shoulder. I could hear the bone crack from where I was. With pain twisting his face the young man faltered, dropping to a knee and lowering his sword. I brought up the sonic disruptor to attack Dalton with it...
But he turned first. I swiftly brought up setting 42 to deflect the energy blasts coming my way as I truly did not want to get set on fire again. The blasts hammered into he field again and again, driving me back until the last one found nothing but air, the result of a temporary drop of the shield due to overtaxing. The blast struck me near the ribs on my right side. Pain surged through my torso and into my heart and lung, damaging both. My legs came out from under me and I went down to my knees. I brought my left hand up to the burning fabric on my chest and patted the flames, burning the hand as I tried to put them out. I hadn't felt pain like that since I'd had Commander Shepard put a Carnifex to my chest and pull the trigger.
For a brief moment, I wondered if this was going to be it. If this was the end for "me"... if I was going to regenerate here and now. How would Katherine take it? How would Harry and Nerys and Korra? And what would I become?
As I tried to push the pain of my wounds out, I lost track of what was going on around me. The pain was terrible and I felt the hairs on my neck stand up as I waited and feared the pins and needles sensation of a regeneration.
Soothing energy filled my side, driving away some of the pain. I was still wounded but not gravely so. I looked up into a pair of light green eyes reddened from tears and weary from the day's events..
Ah. So that was what cure magic felt like.
Marle still favored her left shoulder and what looked to be a bullet wound. "I don't have much energy left," she admitted. Given the weary look on her face and the way she was breathing, the day had pushed her to her limits. I looked over to see how the battle was faring....
There was a sharp intake of breath from Marle and a sickening, wet sound. I looked to see the point of a crimson blade poking out of the side of her belly, staining her white tube top with blood. Dalton stood over her and pushed his foot to her back to pull the blade out, making a sucking sound in the process.
Crono slammed into Dalton before he could bring the blade back down. I could see his right arm was stiff and unresponsive; the battle was not going to go well for him.
"Katherine! Katherine!" I lifted the wounded princess in my arms and carried her to the TARDIS entrance where Katherine appeared, holding the medical bag and a medigel dispenser. "Get her inside!" I waved the sonic over Marle's torso to get a medical reading. "Well, that's some luck. The sword missed her lung. Pump her full of medigel and regeneratives! And as soon as I get spike-hair over there in, I want you to pull the TARDIS activation lever."
"Doctor?" Katherine stared at me. "What about you?"
"Don't you worry about me, I'll take care of myself. Now go!"
Katherine took her younger peer and brought her into the TARDIS, where a host of worried faces were ready to aid as much as they could to protect their princess. I turned about and found Crono barely standing. His face was contorted with pain and frustration as he tried to resist Dalton and his cursed blade.
A quick glance of the sonic confirmed what I feared. His shoulder was broken and the wounds he'd suffered were sapping his vitality. As much as my right side still burned... I was the only one of us still possessing a fight. I brought up the sonic screwdriver and used a sonic burst on Dalton's ear. He cried out and fell back for the moment.
Had Crono been in top shape the battle would have ended there. But he was so spent all he could do was fall back himself, gaining room against his opponent. That room let me pull off a blast of the sonic disruptor that sent Dalton flying into the nearest wall with an impressive smack. "Get in the TARDIS!", I shouted. "You're in no shape to keep fighting!"
"I can finish him."
"No you bloody well can't." I seized Crono by the shoulders and looked down at him. "Your wife is badly hurt. Your mother barely survived. They need you. Now get in the TARDIS!"
I didn't meant to sound too harsh. But I did. And it worked; Crono retreated at a brisk pace. Dalton was still recovering when he reached the TARDIS door. "You're not getting away from me!", Dalton screamed. With a wave of his hand another of those damnable iron spheres, this one even bigger, came crashing down on top of the TARDIS. I could hear the impact and looked back to see that aside from some scraping the girl had taken the hit. Crono got into the door.
"Pull the lever, Katherine! Do it now!", I shouted in as the door closed.
Do it, Katherine. Don't let me down, was my thought.
And whatever her concerns for me, she knew to obey me in this instance. I trusted her to trust me.
And I was rewarded when VWORP VWORP VWORP came to my ears. The TARDIS dematerialized, bound for the grasslands outside of Melchior's abode on the other continent.
Now, since I'd met them in 1021 local at a much earlier time in my travels, one could say I was pretty sure I would survive. They didn't seem to upset at seeing me, after all. But things can change. Time travel is a tricky devil even for a Time Lord. And since I'd programmed the TARDIS to take them to Opassa if I didn't resummon it within the hour, I knew that history would be intact anyway.
I smirked. That would be something if I had to live in this world for the next 16 years to get back to my TARDIS the long way. I suppose a long retirement in El Nido would allow me some unwinding time. And all of the squid gut pasta I could eat.
"You can't keep them from me," Dalton declared. "I'm not done with them yet."
"All of this, because they tried to stop your people from destroying themselves?!", I demanded.
"You weren't there!", Dalton shot back. "You didn't see Enhasa and Kajar fall into the sea! Our beautiful kingdom, our immortal kingdom, ruined! Because of them!"
"You're the bloody idiots who tried to tap a malicious power for your own pride!"
"Now they know how it feels," Dalton continued, ignoring me. "They saw their homes burn. They saw their kingdom destroyed! And don't thin k it's over. It's only a matter of time before I find them."
"Really, Dalton? How long will it take?" I shook my head and laughed. "And what are the odds you'll be able to beat them? You used trickery and surprise to get to them when they weren't ready." I had figured this by the state of the castle interior; it hadn't been breached by siege, making it obvious that Dalton had infiltrated with forces by teleportation. "Do you really think Crono and Marle aren't ready for you anymore?" I shook my head as my cold rage conceded to my amusement. "You killed her father. You nearly killed his mother. No, the next time you face them, they'll be ready for you, and I'd wager you won't be the one walking away. Not from a straight fight." I smirked and help up the locket that acted as my TARDIS remote. "See this? This is the only way to bring them back here to finish it before they hunt you down and turn you into a smear on the wall."
In his remaining eye I saw hatred and realization. He knew I was right. Given time to recover and to let their new grievance with him stew in their hearts? Crono and Marle would destroy him. He knew that and he hated it.
So I gave the finishing touch. "If you want them, Dalton... well, you'll just have to catch me."
I took off running toward the opening of the throne room. Dalton hefted the Masamune and pursued, magic blasts pouring from his hand as I rolled through the door. Below me a reinforcement troop of Porre soldiers were waiting around for orders. I jumped on the rail of the stairway. "Going down!", I shouted, almost laughing as I slid down like a child might and jumped off. They'd noticed me just as I started. One gunshot went off and missed, and before the others could I landed on their leader and sent him flying. A single sweep of my sonic disruptor did the same to the rest, giving me room.
Above and behind me, Dalton was pursuing, his cape fluttering around him as he levitated in mid-air. Forgot the bugger could do that.... More iron spheres and orange energy blasts lashed out at me. A silvery wave came at me and finally made impact just on my heels, throwing me off my feet and sending me forward. I rolled with it and continued to run toward the tower. Just as I got to the stairs a series of energy blasts behind me struck close enough to send me flying again. I slammed against the wall and I could feel my injured rib crack again, along with two of its neighboring ribs. I groaned as I forced myself to my feet and began clambering up the stairs, just in time to avoid another of those damned iron spheres. I ran as fast as I could go, taking advantage of the interior design which prevented him from using flight to pursue me. Every few steps I had to twist back and absorb or deflect a shot with setting 42.
As I ran, I could smell smoke. Porre's troops were starting to set fire to the castle wherever they could.
"I'm going to destroy you, you meddler!", Dalton screamed. "I'm going to rip your heart out!"
I wondered if that was him talking or the Masamune, now that his rage had fully corrupted it. Oh well, trouble for another time... and for other people, I have to say.
One blast went over my head and sent stone debris flying at me. One sharp fragment of rock struck my temple. A human would have been knocked out right there. I managed to go ahead despite the explosion of color and the killer bloody headache.
Finally I reached the top. My right side burned from where he'd nailed me before and now my rubs and temple were other focal points for agony. I ran out onto the platform leading to the jail and kept going toward the opposite structure, the tower built into the temple that acted as Guardia's main prison. Dalton was chasing behind me and, with there no longer being cover, I had to time my jumps to avoid getting hit again. I held the sonic disruptor over my head and pointed backward to absorb what I could.
So there I was, going into a dead end, wounded, with a maddened sorcerer after me wielding a cursed sword as the castle around us burned. As plans go, it doesn't seem like the best outcome, does it?
If you think so... ha. Joke's on you!
I had Dalton right where I wanted him.
In his rage he kept sending magical attacks at me. Iron spheres slammed into the bridge behind and in front of me, forcing me to weave to avoid them. Energy blasts soared over my head or hit behind me, such that I could feel the heat from them. But I kept going, with my hearts pounding and my mind racing and my body burning and hurting...
When I got to the other side I turned and brought the sonic disruptor up. Dalton was so focused on chasing me he didn't switch to defense in time and he took the full blast, throwing him back and further done the stone bridge. I stood my ground here, holding my disruptor up toward him, while Dalton slowly stood, looking a bit more winded than the last time I'd given him a good look. He laughed. "This is the best you could do, 'Doctor'? Letting me trap you? Who the hell do you think I am? I am Dalton, the right hand man of the great Queen Zeal herself! I am an Enlightened One! You and the others here are like ants to my greatness!"
I smirked back at him. "Love to hear yourself talk, eh? Well, sir, maybe I should do an Enlightened One the favor of enlightening you," I countered. "Because if you think I'm a normal Human, the joke's on you. I am a Time Lord, you insufferable, jumped up little ape. My species was ancient when your's huddled in caves in terror of the dark!" I shouted my boast with glee, feeling proud and alive as I did so. Who the hell did I think Dalton was? He was scum on my shoe, that's what the hell I thought he was. "You want to talk about traps, oh 'Enlightened One'? I know something about traps myself." Seeing he was attacking again, I brought up the sonic disruptor and used it to smack an iron sphere coming at me and sending it careening back into the bridge. "The first rule about traps, Dalton? If you want to survive, the one thing you should avoid, the thing you should never ever do if you hope to walk away, is put me in it." He fired energy blasts at me and I caught them with Setting 42. This time the last of the orange spheres didn't break through. "And the second rule about traps. Oh ho ho, it's a good one." I smiled. "It's to make sure you're not walking into one yourself! Because the joke's on you, oh great and mighty Enlightened One! I'm not in your trap! You're in mine!"
Confusion broke through Dalton's anger a little. He let loose with one of the wind-like energy slashes. Silver energy rippled across the bridge. I was thrown back a bit by its impact on my setting 42 shield. But it was still too weak to bring it down and strike me directly. "Feeling a little spent, sir? A little under the weather? A little winded? Or should I say a little drained?"
Dalton rasped and drew in a breath. Another iron sphere, much smaller than the usual ones, flew at me. I smacked it with the force shield at an angle that sent it crashing right at Dalton's feet, enough force behind it to literally cause it to embed in the stone pathway of the bridge. He looked down at it and back up at me.
"You feel it, don't you? Teleporting all of those troops, using all of that combat magic, chasing me through the castle.... looks like you've got some endurance issues, eh? A little trouble going the distance, Dalton?" I laughed at him, enjoying the look of realization that came through the rage. "I bet you can't even do your floating and flying trick anymore." I gave my best Ten-like whistle. "Shame about that, 'cause it looks like you could use it right about now."
Surprise now mixed with realization and anger in Dalton's face. He lowered his head just in time to see the real damage done to the bridge. Weakened by his attacks against me, suitably deflected back into the bridge, the ground under him was giving away.
I said nothing else at that point. I brought up the sonic disruptor and set it to Setting 14. Maximum power. I call it the Good Vibrations mode.
Or, well, not so good for Dalton.
The disruptor's field effect sent vibrations through the weakened masonry beneath his feet, vibrations of such intensity that the weakened stone's structure shook apart under them. The ground gave way under Dalton's feet as a patch of the bridge about six feet in length gave out and fell down to the burning courtyard below. Dalton tried to scramble forward. Had he been in peak shape he might have succeeded. But he was exhausted. He wasn't fast enough. His feet fell below the level of the bridge and all he could do was grab on with his hands. in the process he let go of the Masamune, which clattered off the bridge and fell into the distance below. His fingers fit into the cracks in the stone enough to find some purchase, but it wasn't much. Eventually he'd scrape the skin right off his fingers and begin a very long drop.
I walked up toward him as he looked at me, terror in control of his mind. "No, please!", he shouted. "Please pull me up!"
"Oh?", I asked. "The high and mighty Enlightened One, right hand to Queen Zeal herself, begs me for help?"
"I don't want to die!", he screamed. "I... I don't want to die! Please Doctor! Pull me up! I surrender!"
I stared at him for a moment. The cold rage within me stirred as I looked out at the burning castle. From this height I could see the remnant smoke of sacked Truce as well. "You want me to save you." It wasn't a question. "After all of this horror? All of the death and destruction you've caused? The slaughter you've wrought? The good man you murdered and the daughter you left orphaned? And you want me to save you?"
"Mercy Doctor! Please show mercy!"
"Where you didn't?", I barked. "You, who showed no mercy, now plead for it?"
I looked into his remaining eye, now filling with tears.
And I had thoughts. Horrible ones. Terrible things. The blood of Guardia and Truce cried out for justice, and the justice I could grant was the kind to make a being's skin crawl. "Are you sure?", I asked.
"i surrender! Please, mercy!" Dalton's left hand lost purchase on the stones, leaving behind blood streaks from where he'd torn his own flesh from his fingertips in trying to hold on. He managed to snag the last handhold with the left hand so that he wouldn't lose his grip with the right either. "Save me Doctor! Please show mercy! I don't want to die!"
"Yes. You want to be immortal." I let the word hang. Immortality had its... downsides, after all.
The dark thoughts swirled inside of me. I knelt down, as if ready to pick him up. "I came here on a mission of mercy," I explained, watching his right hand start to lose its grip on the stone. Blood was pooling from where the stone had stripped the skin from his fingers. Below us an explosion flowered; Porre's troops undoubtedly hard at work. I blinked and nodded. "Very well. I'll show mercy to you, Dalton."
"Thank you! Thank y...."
I stood to my full height, spun on my heel, and began walking away.
I couldn't see Dalton now, but I could imagine it. His hand coming loose. No more handholds left... his right hand would fail and the change in balance would rip him from the left hand's hold too. And then he would fall. Desperation and terror filled his voice. "Mercy! Please Doctor! You said you'd save me!"
"No, I said I'd show you mercy." I turned back to see where he was desperately trying to keep his handhold, trying to avoid the finality of his death. "Dalton, with all of the things I could do to you... I could literally grant you immortality, I could make it where you never actually died... and you would wish I had left you to fall." I kept my facial expression still as I saw his handhold begin to fail. "Dalton, this is mercy."
"No! NO! PLEASE! MERCY DOCTOR!" The handhold failed. "MERCCCCCCYYYYYYY!", Dalton screamed as he fell down through the bridge toward the fires and rubble below.
I stood there for a moment. Through the growing smoke below I couldn't see where his body landed. I could imagine it though. A desperate, feeble mid-air attempt to summon enough magical power to float. And maybe, just for a moment, he would slow his descent. But it wouldn't be enough. from this height...
Well, it was probably quick. Quicker than he deserved, yes. An impact and oblivion. No pain, like King Guardia had endured. Like Crono's mother would have endured, or the many other Trucians slaughtered here this day.
But still.... it was the right thing to do. I pushed the cold rage out of my hearts. I couldn't listen to that. Better to be kind.
Better to be merciful.
With my mission of mercy complete, I held out the TARDIS remote and summoned my TARDIS back to me. It was time to leave.
Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series
Posted: 2017-03-15 12:17pm
Now, some of you readers may question how this is the Doctor's Mercy. First... we never saw the things the so-called War Doctor did in the Time War. Second, what we did see Ten do to a group of beings who enraged him makes Death infinitely more merciful. Third, remember what this Doctor did to the Borg, and that was before he started down the spiral. Remember, also, this Doctor has access to Marvel, DC, Star Wars, Star Trek, and Mass Effect Universes, among hundreds of others. How many ways are there in each universe to make someone regret immortality?
Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series
Posted: 2017-03-16 11:32am
After a quick check to make sure of Dalton's ultimate fate - yes, I am careful enough to make sure nothing opened a Gate under him or such - I flipped a few controls and shifted the TARDIS out. Katherine stood beside me with a disinfectant and soothing solution for the wound on my temple. "Hold still," she insisted.
I did so and let her finish bandaging my forehead. Now that the rush was over my wounds were starting to pile up on me. "How is Marle?"
"Who... oh, the young lady? She'll survive," Katherine said. "I disinfected and closed the wound. We are just about out of medigel, though."
"Well, a quick stop to Thessia or the Citadel would be nice," I answered. "And Layom Station, to check up on Theresa and Hannah."
"I do love Layom's star and the gardens," Katherine agreed. With the bandage complete she touched my hand. "What are we going to do with the people we rescued?"
"History records their deaths," I answered. "I checked the records, it's the only way the numbers add up inside reasonable margins. So I think they'll be joining Crono and Marle in El Nido circa 1021. It's why I just shifted us there, in fact." A thought came to me and caused me to sigh. "King Guardia?"
"He lived long enough to see I had stabilized Marle's condition," Katherine answered. "As painful deaths go his could have been worse."
"That's good," I replied in a low voice. "Very good."
"Doctor... the man who attacked them. What...."
"He fell," I answered quietly.
Katherine remained quiet for a moment. She could tell what happened. "I suppose it is for the best?"
"Likely." I could still hear his screams in my ears. Pleading for mercy, not realizing that the fall was more mercy than I would have granted. "This was a very dark day, I'm sorry to say. Not quite the same as your last birthdays with me, eh?"
"Well, no," she admitted. "But we did good, so it wasn't a waste."
"No it wasn't." In my mind I replayed the day. And my reaction to it... that one was almost frightening. To feel that cold rage, remember all of the things I thought about inflicting upon Dalton when he was within my power....
I felt Katherine's hands wrap around mine. She leaned against me. "You're a good man, Doctor. Whatever happened, you should remember that."
I put a hand up and affectionately touched her head. "Thank you, my dear little Katherine." I reached over and flipped a switch. "Well, might as well refuel the TARDIS while I'm here. Let's go see to our guests."
"What do you mean we can't go back?!"
I said nothing. Best not to provoke the angry young twenty-something who could blast me with lightning if inclined, especially with his face a few inches from mine, and most of those inches vertical.
"What I said, obviously." I looked over to where Marle and Crono's mother were laying on different couches. A couple of children rushed passed, chased by older siblings. "Listen, the Fall of Guardia was a Fixed Point in Time. Fixed Points are... they're the stitches, the staples, that hold the cloth stable. If you try to tear one out, the entire thing unravels. And then bad things happen. Very bad."
"You can't be saying we have to let Porre get away with it!", Marle answered, still rather feisty despite the nasty sword wound from getting run through.
"In this era you don't. But not back in your era. History says you didn't come out of Guardia Castle that day. Besides, if I took you back and you mucked with the history afterward, it'd undo Balthasar's hideously complicated plan to save Princess Schala, and that would wreck this entire sixth dimensional cluster." I sighed and plopped into my recliner, the only vacant chair in the room. "Besides, it would undo my own time stream."
"Your what?", Marle asked.
"My timestream. My history, if you will. It's something you get when you move around time. The truth is, I'll met you again in a few weeks, here on Opassa Beach. Although that me will be a younger version. He's not been traveling long at all." Seeing their expressions I sighed. "Look, my time travel doesn't work like yours. It's not a point-to-point thing where the gates remain at fixed relative points to each other. I brought you here to weeks before the last time I got here."
Crono and Marle looked at each other. I eyed them both. They would take time to heal their wounds, rushing back to an era when Porre would be watching for them like hawks just wasn't reasonable.
"So... you're saying we'll meet you again later?", Crono asked.
"Yes. That me will be younger. He has two Companions instead of one. And he's a bit of a sloppier dresser. And a bit strange, back then I thought I was originally Human. Long story." I raised a finger. "Don't tell him anything about me. If he asks, your answer should be 'spoilers'."
"Wait." Crono blinked. "Wouldn't you already know what our future selves said to your younger self?"
I "ehhhed" in reply. "It's... well... it's complicated, there are certain variables that can happen.... it's all very timey-wimey. Let's just stick with timey-wimey. Next to quantum it's my favorite phrase when trying to dumb down five-dimensional cross-timestream variables and the like."
Oh, if only I knew back then...
Marle lowered her eyes. "So this already happened. It can't change? We can't go back and change it?"
"No," I said. "Not without severe consequences."
Katherine stepped into the conversation at this point. "You will both need time to get better. Even with this... 'magic' you have, your bodies have taken too much punishment. Please, listen to the Doctor."
"What about Lucca?", Crono asked. "We left her behind."
"Yes, we did."
"So I'm not..."
"Why else do you think I went to Opassa in my past?", I asked. Seeing the looks come over their faces I nodded and grinned. "She'll be ten years older, but you will see Lucca again. I promise. You two literally walk up to the TARDIS door when I arrive with her."
They looked at each other after I said that. "So we're all back together?", Marle asked. "In your past?"
"Yes. All three of you."
I think that helped seal the deal. I heard no more complaint from them on the subject. "Well, for starters, let's go over your cover plan one more time. You're all refugees from Zenan and..."
Once everyone was out there was only one bit of business left. The people took to the job quietly and with grief, preparing the coffin to bear King Guardia away. "Lord Viper's a fair and honorable man," I said to Marle. "And he has his own issues with Porre. I'm quite certain he will find a suitable place to intern your father until he can be brought home."
"This is as good a place as any to plan against Porre," Marle agreed. She looked back to the coffin as they prepared to seal it. With a wave of her hand the men working on it stopped, allowing her to step up to it. She was moving gingerly given the wound in her torso. "Goodbye Daddy," she said softly, leaning over and kissing his cheek. I remained silent, letting her say her goodbyes.
Crono was at her side a moment later. They clasped hands and remained silent, looking at the fallen king. I kept silent as well. After a moment I looked up and over to where Katherine was at the door of the TARDIS, escorting several children. She smiled at me and I walked over to her. "That's all of them, Doctor," she said.
"Good. Always tricky to have little ones in the TARDIS. They never want to leave." I smiled despite the complaint.
"I talked with Marle for a while," Katherine said. "I'm betting she would once jumped at the chance to be in my place."
"Oh, quite likely, but she got to have her adventures in time and space anyway." I admit the thought did amuse me.
"It's not easy," Katherine said, looking at them as Marle broke down crying in her husband's arms. "I still think of my father all the time."
"What about you, Doctor? Do you remember anything of your family?"
"Not a thing," I breathed, the words a lamentation. "I'm not even sure what species I am. I used to think I was a Human turned into a Time Lord."
"Yes." I nodded. "I'm not sure why. I remember saying the words to the others. To Jan and Cami and Harry and... so many others. But now I don't know why I'd think such a thing. Rather silly idea, probably wishful thinking since I like Humans so much. No, I'm just an amnesiac Time Lord. Some... admirer of the Doctor's who's trying to live up to his legacy. Or...." A peculiar thought crossed my mind and made me laugh.
"Doctor?" Katherine looked at me with curiosity.
"What if I am actually the Doctor himself? To my knowledge he was on his last regeneration, what if..." I looked off into the twilight sky, admiring the beauty of the full moon coming out and the stars beyond. "....what if the Doctor got a new set of regenerations, but something went wrong with the first one and it made him into the form I had when I first woke up on that Sith station? What if it gave him amnesia? Or if it was a trap of some sort, some threat who laid a trap for him, a new set of regenerations that wiped his mind and changed his TARDIS, some plan to get him out of his own cosmos?" I shook my head. "For all I know that box in my head, all of those memories, are my memories of those lives. The knowledge I have of those lives aren't from second-hand knowledge, they're remnant memories...." I let the thought stew for a moment and shook my head. "On second thought, that theory has too many holes. Oh well, back to the drawing board."
"Whether you're that original Doctor or not, you're still my Doctor," Katherine said firmly.
"And I always shall be," I promised her. We embraced. "Always."
It was the next morning and everyone was ready to journey down the island's main road to Termina and Viper Manor. A day's healing had done good for Princess Marle, enough that she walked normally. Crono's arm was still in a slung from his broken shoulder, but he would heal soon enough and be back to top shape. "Thank you for everything, Doctor," Marle said, giving me a light hug.
"Oh, that was nothing. Don't worry about it," I answered. I let her go on to hug Katherine while I gave a handshake to Crono. "Seriously, how much hair gel do you use, young man?"
That won me a laugh. "If you ever need our help, just ask," he said.
"Of course." At that point our conversation ended. Crono's a rather laconic fellow, indeed...
The procession set off for Viper Manor with curious Arni fishermen already amongst them. I spied a head of blue hair under a bright, pinkish bandana amongst them, staring in some confusion at Crono and Marle. They turned to me and waved goodbye. Katherine and I waved back. "That's going to be quite the meeting," I murmured.
"That young lad in the pinkish bandana? He's quite the hero himself, although nobody remembers it. Curse of being the one to fix a dimensional split." I shifted and winced "And I need another soak. Why is it I'm always breaking ribs?"
"Because, my Doctor, you love throwing yourself into harm's way." She cackled. "You can't help but be the hero, saving little princesses from big bad assassins."
I laughed in reply. "Yes. A good thing I always save the right ones, eh? Come along, Katherine. A quick soak to soothe my aches and then I'm finally going to take you to Kraknardaaplikuiuspinralakoolis and the Kraknaradaaplikuiuspinocka Nebula."
"What about the flower planet?"
"Oh yes, that one..." We stepped into the TARDIS and I closed the door behind me. "Guotar first then. And then Kraknardaaplikuiuspinralakoolis."
"How can you manage to say that?", she asked as I operated the controls.
"Very, very carefully," I replied. I let out a laugh and pulled back on the activation lever. "Tally ho!"
Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series
Posted: 2017-03-16 11:36am
Short 22 - An Awful Lot of Running To Do
I forgot to carry the two again.
I hate forgetting to carry that annoying two. It taunts me every time. "You must carry me or the TARDIS will drop you somewhere you don't want to go!"
In this case, right place... wrong time.
And so now Katherine and I were running for, well, for our lives, through the city streets of a city that was half industrial, half medieval. We had a group of very nasty fellows chasing us. "Doctor, what are they?!", Katherine asked as we forced our way through a market and into a side alley. "What's going on?!"
"I took us to the wrong bloody time in this city, that's what," I replied, just as a bolt of golden energy sizzled over my shoulder. "Bloody Wasp-kinden!"
To try to sum this planet up quickly, it has some magic quantum... stuff, and it has industry, and some races are good with the former and some with the latter, and while all are more or less Human, their racial distinctions involve a sort of symbiosis with various types of insects that gave each race a specific "Art" unique to that race. Broad, capable Beetle-kinden, small nimble Fly-kinden, graceful flying Dragonfly-kinden, hive-minded Ant-kinden, et cetera.
And the Wasp-kinden, of course. The worst of the lot. Take the worst of the Romans and the worst of the Mongols and mix it all up... and there you have it. These are people you generally want to stay far, far away from.
"Stop in the name of the Empire!", one of them shouted. "Stop or you will be killed!"
I didn't waste my breath replying. This was good because another squad of the buggers came around the corner in front of us, crossbows leveled. I didn't have time to get my sonic disruptor up.
Thankfully, there was a wooden door to the side. "Come along, Katherine!" I plowed into it, smashing it open and ending up in a store room for an eatery of some sort. A scowling Mynan Beetle-kinden shot us a dirty look. I imagine it disappeared when the Wasp soldiers piled in behind us.
"We can't keep running!", Katherine protested. "What will we do?"
"Get a moment to bring in the TARDIS!", I replied. I couldn't very well summon it with these buggers behind us.
We got back out to the opposite street and starting plowing through the crowd. Screams erupted around us for obvious reasons. My senses could feel the buzz in the air and I looked back. The Wasp soldiers had decided to fly.
Katherine noticed too. "They're flying?!"
"Yes, some of the local races can do that," I said. "This way!"
I went to move in one alley, but Katherine took my hand and pulled me toward the opposite one. "No, this way!", she shouted.
"What?! Kath...." I looked up and smiled as we ran into the alley. "You brilliant girl!"
As we ran down the alley the airborne Wasp soldiers pursued... and ran right into the clotheslines that were connecting the two housing buildings like a web. Screams and curses came from the soldiers and we were fired on at a distance by crossbow and their "sting" Art. Soon enough we were around the corner and....
"The TARDIS!" My hearts swelled to see my girl at the far end of the alley, across the nearest street. "Come on, we're almost there!"
We picked up the pace, which was good because more were coming on foot. "Stop!," another one shouted. "Stop or you will be executed!"
I held up the sonic disruptor and triggered Setting 42 as we raced through the street. More crossbow bolts and sting blasts lashed out at us and were absorbed by the defensive field from the disruptor. The street was thankfully a side street and not so busy. We didn't even knock anyone over as we raced across. The TARDIS was right ahead....
....and a Wasp-kinden soldier landed in front of it and leveled his crossbow.
Katherine got to him first. She isn't the violent type, but she was learning self-defense all the same. She grabbed the crossbow and held it up, causing the bolt in it to be fired harmlessly over our heads. The grab of the Wasp's arms turned into a grappling hold that allowed her to twist the arm and throw the soldier off balance. The Wasp landed flat on his back.
I brought up the TARDIS remote and disengaged the lock. We ran in and Katherine immediately closed the door, after which several "thunk" sounds could be heard from crossbows. I went straight to the controls, twisted a dial to change our destination, and pulled back the activation lever. VWORP VWORP VWORP
Katherine went up to the control console near me. We were both huffing from the exercise we had just undergone. "I think you enjoy having to run for our lives!", she accused me in a playful tone.
"Come now, we have to burn off that find Tharkad cooking somehow, eh?", I retorted, after which I laughed. Maybe it was just euphoria was from the adrenaline (or Time Lord equivalent thereof for me) or the thrill was still with us, but we both began to laugh.
It took us a few minutes to catch our breath due to the fits of laughter. Once we had regained control Katherine shook her head. "That was just so... so bizarre! Humans with insect parts?"
"Oh yes. Lots of them." I sighed. "I had meant to take us to Myna after they ejected the Wasp-kinden. I forgot to carry the two. I really need to start double-checking these things, eh?" I began moving dials. "So, let's get you home, eh?"
"Yes," she agreed. "It's been wonderful, but duty calls. I have to take a ship out to Arc-Royal."
"Yes. Morgan is retiring." She made a face. "Phelan will be there too. Even House Kurita is sending a representative."
"I imagine so. Brave new Inner Sphere, common front against the Clans, et cetera," I answered. "You know, I could take you myself. Join the celebrations. Get in a little dancing."
"There may not be that much dancing, Doctor." She shook her head. "Honestly, it's probably best if I go the old-fashioned way. When I get back in June I should be able to free up some time."
I looked at her and realization dawned. "Your mother doesn't want me around."
"She thinks highly of you," Katherine insisted. "But... for the rest of the Inner Sphere, it would be rubbing it in their faces that the Federated Commonwealth has close ties to the universe's only known Time Lord, who has a ship that can appear at any point in space at any moment."
"Ah. Yes. I understand. Politics." I made a face. "Oh well. I suppose I have a few projects to check up on. But I'll be back in June."
"I look forward to it," Katherine answered.
I nodded and finished setting in coordinates to take her home.
Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series
Posted: 2017-03-17 09:38am
Episode 17 - Victims of Power
I was coming off a little misadventure when I returned to Katherine that June, 3055 on the Inner Sphere calendar. Technically she was about twenty-five at this point given our travels although, of course, she was only twenty two and a half by the calendar alone.
She was putting up a formal dress on a hanger when I opened the door. It was the kind of one-shoulder-bared cut her mother preferred, in the Steiner ice blue color, so I asked, "So what will the occasion be? Dinner party?"
"Banquet," she answered, smiling at me. "My mother is holding it tomorrow. I think half of Tharkad is going to be there."
"Sounds interesting. Will there be any dancing?"
She smirked at that. "No, Doctor, there will be no dancing."
"A shame. I've learned some new ones since I graced Tharkad with the Drunken Giraffe." I clapped my hands together. "So, the Rings of Elune of await."
Katherine looked at me and sighed. "I'm not sure, Doctor. Maybe it should be after the banquet tomorrow."
"Oh, come now, time traveler, remember?" I winked. "If you're that worried, I can take you there myself. Make a little splash, eh? You can't tell me you're not hankering for even a little trip in the TARDIS after all of that time cooped up on DropShips."
Katherine seemed to mull it over a moment. "Fine," she sighed in not-too-unwilling acquiescence. She lifted the hanger. "One trip."
"Fantastic!" I smiled widely and stepped out of the way of the door. As she walked up Katherine's eyes narrowed. "Doctor, why is the TARDIS covered in crossbow bolts?"
"What? Oh! Sorry, forgot to pull them out." I started grabbing and removing the bolts, grunting with a bit of effort on a couple. The TARDIS healed the resulting holes as the bolts were pulled out. "Oh, she was being a rascal again. Dropped me into the middle of a wedding on some medieval technology world. We seem to have visited a lot of those lately..."
"And they shot at you?"
"Oh, it wasn't that. No, it was something with the wedding itself. The hosts may have trumped your father rather effectively in regard to wedding surprises."
Katherine's smile was a sardonic and doubtful one. "They started an interstellar war?"
I shook my head as I put the bolts inside the TARDIS - leaving them in Katherine's rooms would probably not go over well - and led her in. "No, the hosts decided to murder some of their guests. Very bad form. Very. I was most cross with them." I smiled. "And so they became very cross with me. With crossbows. Cross with crossbows.... I like that. Very punnish." I twisted another dial. "So, the Rings of Elune eh?"
"You're the driver, Doctor, I'm just along for the ride." She put her dress up by hanging it off of one of my storage pockets along the wall.
"The Rings of Elune it is!" I pulled back the activation lever. As the engine made that lovely VWORP VWORP VWORP I looked over to the monitor screen to see when we would arrive. "Named for a Moon Goddess, fitting because the rings are around a habitable moon. All sorts of lovely shades...." Seeing we had landed I went toward the door. "....of purple and teal and...."
I stepped out of the TARDIS. Instead of lovely fields of grass on an open plain to behold the Rings, I stepped out onto concrete. It was a sidewalk. I looked around and we were in a city. Katherine stepped out behind me and looked around while I went out to a main street with people walking about. "The wrong place again?"
"Oh yes, the wrong place." I looked over and saw a newspaper stand. I looked at the name of the paper and realized where we were. "Caprican Times...?" I held the paper up and saw a minor front page article. "Secretary of Education Roslin meets with striking.... oh dear."
"Doctor?" Katherine stepped up beside me. "What is it?"
"Hey pal, you gonna buy it or what?", the heavy-set old man running the stand asked.
I put the newspaper back. "No, just checking the date. Good day sir." I took Katherine and pulled her back to the alley. "This is Caprica City," I told her. "Capital city of the Confederation of Colonies...."
"They look Human."
"They are. Twelve planets, all with names that are variations of the Greco-Roman Zodiac, they actually worship the Greco-Roman pantheon." I drew in a breath. "And today's the day it all ends. These poor people don't even know..."
Katherine looked at me with concern. "What do you mean it all ends?"
"Today's the day of the Cylon attack," I answered. "They're going to blanket every planet with nuclear weapons."
Given the history of Katherine's cosmos, it was no wonder her face froze with a horrified and angry expression. "What? Why?"
"Because their leader is a demented little mind who wants to exterminate Humanity to get back at his creators," I replied through my scowl.
Katherine nodded. A determined look crossed her face. "Unless we stop them."
"Right." I nodded. "Unless we stop them."
We returned to the TARDIS. Katherine followed me to the controls. "So, where do we go?"
"Where and when, my dear," I replied, operating the controls. "Any countermeasure we were to do today wouldn't have time. The virus is too ingrained in the Colonial systems. No, we have to go back and introduce a counter-virus of our own." I pulled the sonic disruptor off of my belt and tossed it to her. "You know my settings. I will need you to watch my back."
"Of course, Doctor."
"We shall have to be very.... surreptitious," I said as I sent the TARDIS to a new destination.
When we emerged from the TARDIS we were in dark halls. I grumbled; I was off by a few yards, so we weren't in the computer lab I wanted but a side room. I scanned quietly with the sonic screwdriver for active and passive security. I could hear the distant sound of soles striking tile; a patrolling guard most likely. "Come along," I whispered to Katherine when we had the all-clear. We moved down the hall and across to another door protected by a security scanner. I waved the sonic screwdriver over it and hacked into the security system. After several moments it flashed acceptance, welcoming me as some bloke in charge of cyber-security. Inside I went to the controls for one of the big mainframes. A wave of the sonic helped me hack through the security systems. "Watch the door, tell me if the disruptor finds any life signs," I whispered to Katherine.
She took up the appropriate position at the door and nodded while I went to work. A quick scan showed me Baltar's access logs... and the adjoining access logs of his blonde friend. Logs that showed me both what she took and what she left. The alterations to the navigational program included secret IFF pulses to prevent radio silence from obscuring the location of a ship. Of course, the nastier bits were worse. Sensor and communications failures, system shutdowns, and targeting errors... yes, with this the Colonials were, well, truly and utterly doomed if a fight broke out.
Of course, they'd have a hard time of it anyway. That was the tricky thing. The Cylons had been building up for decades, even without the viral attacks the war would be bloody and brutal and likely to end only with the extermination of one side or the other.
I considered that unacceptable.
"Let's see, can't remove it, the Cylons might check up." I examined the coding on the screen carefully. "Perhaps... a ha. A few minor alterations to the backdoor access coding and.... now the Cylons can't access it properly. And now to do some backup programming..."
"What are you doing?", Katherine asked in a low voice.
"Adding a program of my own. If the Cylons put in a new version of their alterations, this one will find those origins and change the relevant code back to my hacks." I twirled my sonic screwdriver in my hand as I entered the final changes and returned the systems to their usual standby mode. "Well, that's done. Let's slip out before we get found, eh?"
We went back to the TARDIS. Katherine stepped in first. I felt something and turned. My eyes narrowed. Something was there.
"What is your purpose here?"
The voice was familiar. Too familiar. I swallowed and turned to face someone I knew shouldn't be there.
"Camilla?", I asked, full of surprise.
It was her. The faint olive hint to her skin, the brown hair that went down to her shoulders, the same blue-gray eyes. She was in a lovely blue dress, one of a matching set I'd gotten for her and Jan to celebrate their first year out of captivity.
But it wasn't her. It couldn't be her. Camilla and Janias were on Salnorra in their home galaxy.
That narrowed down the options rather considerably.
"Another of the 'angels'?", I asked sarcastically, feeling anger building up inside of me at the use of a dear Companion's image.
"The cycle will begin again," "Head-Cami" said. "Do you believe you can stop it?"
"I can bloody well keep the Cylons from slaughtering innocent people," I countered.
"And in turn, Humanity will slaughter the Cylons," Head-Cami replied. "And thus the cycle continues. You know this."
She was, I had to admit, likely right. If that attack went off, even if I blunted it, millions could and would still die. Maybe billions still. And the Humans would in turn try to exterminate the Cylons. "You have great power to change the flows of time," Head-Cami said. "Will the Cylons be the victims of your power? Or Humanity? Or both?"
"Who are you? What is your stake in this?"
"God has sent me to open your eyes to your own arrogance." Head-Cami started to walk around me. "It is not your place to decide who lives and who does not. You are taking that which God is meant to decide."
"You'll find I'm very skeptical of the claim you work for 'God'," I answered. "I'm more inclined to believe it from my dear friend Michael Carpenter. And if he were here, he would be urging me to preserve life, that to save and redeem is the work of God. Not to stand idly by and allow genocide." I couldn't hide my anger at this being using the image of a friend like that. It felt like it was trying to grind my failure in my face.
Which it was. "And you think you are wise enough to decide? You, who have made so many other mistakes?"
"I won't let remembering my mistakes turn into taking counsel of my fears," I countered.
"So you are set in your course." Head-Cami shook her head. "Will you at least pray for those your actions will doom?"
"I'm not dooming anyone," I retorted before I stepped into the TARDIS. Katherine was looking at me in sheer befuddlement. "Something was getting into my head," I explained. "It's of no concern."
She nodded and leaned against the rail. "So, what next?"
"We return to the day of the attack," I answered. "And make bloody sure the Cylons don't win."
I brought the TARDIS forward in time to the moment we left. It was daytime now so I made sure the psychic paper was handy. Nobody challenged us in the hallway or in the room and I made sure to disable the cameras. Once I was back to checking the computers I looked over the alterations I made. I looked at the results on the screen and felt the confusion come to my face. "Wait, this isn't right."
"What?" Katherine stared at me.
"My alterations, they're gone." I cycled through the systems frantically. "Even the backup program I installed. It's been wiped. How?! How did they..." I looked back to face Katherine and saw the figure coming through the door. Graying hair, worn face.... I knew this one. He brought a gun up. "Katherine, down!" I jumped on her and pulled her to the ground as the first shots came. The monitors and servers behind us sparked violently.
"I knew you'd come back," the man said. "I didn't know who you were, but I knew that a man as clever as you wouldn't leave things to chance. But it doesn't matter! My plan will proceed!"
"Doctor, who is he?", Katherine asked.
"A Cylon model number One," I answered, gripping my sonic disruptor and bringing it up with setting 42. Shots bounced off the field it produced. The One - Cavil, as you may know him - actually seemed surprised. "Yes, I can block your bloody bullets," I remarked.
"It doesn't matter." Cavil smiled. "We've already won. You're too late to stop us."
As we faced off I felt a prickling in my senses, a familiar one. Time Lords are... sensitive to shifts involving temporal matters, and this was just that. "A Fixed Point," I murmured, scowling. "Well, that explains that."
"You said Fixed Points can't be changed," Katherine said.
"They can't. Even if you go into the past and change events to try and preclude the Fixed Point, temporal inertia will always act to shift the Fixed Point into something approximating its original form, unless the quantum probabilities simply don't allow it. Then it simply gets as close as it can, plus, well, the timeline starts getting finicky for the change. it can even outright collapse."
Cavil looked at us with increasing curiosity. "What are you talking about?"
"Shush, the adults are talking now," I retorted. "Why don't you go off and cut your wrists like the angst-driven emo cyborg you are."
Cavil's eyes narrowed. "What did you say to me?"
"I said bugger off." I took a step toward him. "I've got twelve worlds to save."
"You can't. You Humans are all dead, all of you. The lesson must be taught!"
"See, that's a mistake," I answered. "Because I happen to like Humans a lot, and I'm very protective." When I saw the quizzical expression on his face I smirked. "I know I look it, but I'm not actually a Human. I'm a Time Lord. And I want you to take a message to your... other selves. I'm coming for you all." I raised my left hand and revealed my sonic screwdriver. With a press of a button I turned it on. Its tip lit up purple, it began to whir, and Cavil screamed until he collapsed, lifeless.
"Doctor, what did you do to it?"
"Overloaded the machine bits, the consciousness regarded the body as dead and uploaded him back to their Resurrection Ship." I looked back to the servers. The controls were shot up, as were the servers themselves. "He knew what to shoot," I sighed.
At that moment, the angel or higher being or pain-in-my-arse, whatever you want to call it, re-appeared, this time in Janias' form. "What will you do now?", she asked.
"Sod off," I grumbled lowly.
"This day has been ordained, you cannot stop it," Head Janias insisted.
"Watch me," I answered.
"Watch you, Doctor?" Katherine's question betrayed the obvious lack of perception of the bugger irritating me.
"There's a being playing around with these events," I said to her. "It's trying to get into my head. And it's mucking it up by trying to pretend to be Jan and Cam, which bloody infuriates me."
"Who are you to decide the fate of a galaxy?", Head Cami asked, appearing beside the other one.
"Who are you to allow billions to die?", I retorted. I ignored the look from Katherine and held out my sonic screwdriver over the remains of One. "Coding, very good. I'm going to need that. Oh yes." My mind raced as I considered my options. "Come along, Katherine. Back to the TARDIS!"
We were crossing the hall when armed Colonial Marines appeared around the corner, summoned by the gunfire. "Halt! Down on the ground!", the lead one shouted as they raised their weapons. I held up the sonic disruptor as we pressed on to the door. Their weapons fired. Thunderclaps struck at our ears as the spray of deadly metal battered the setting 42 protective field. I held on against the pressure, the gunfire creating enough kinetic force to push the sonic disruptor against my grip. We retreated into the room with the TARDIS. I ran the sonic screwdriver over the door lock to jam it. "Away we go!" I shouted as we jumped into the TARDIS.
"What next, Doctor?", Katherine asked.
"For my next trick, I do some quick programming work...", I said as I reset the TARDIS coordinates. "...and then pray a little." I looked up, expecting to see the "angels" again. But they weren't here.
I stepped over to the monitor and keyboard screen and used the sonic screwdriver to load the coding data I needed into it. "Cylon programming codes. Excellent. Will need those, but first...." I went over and pulled the TARDIS activation lever.
When we emerged again, we were in the halls of a Cylon basestar. After locking the TARDIS I checked the sonic screwdriver and scowled. "Not exactly where I wanted to be. Oh well, let's...." I looked up in time to see the Centurions turning the corner. "...run!" I grabbed Katherine's hand and ran the opposite way. As we made another corner the sound of firearms roared behind us. I double-checked the sonic screwdriver. The metallic clanging of the combat machines advancing pounded behind us. "I need to find a network outlet!.... this way!" I pulled Katherine down a second hall as more Centurions came ahead of us. The sound of bullets striking metal told me our pursuers and those ahead of us had hit one another.
Using the sonic screwdriver's readings I eventually guided us to a chamber showing computer inputs. I went up to one and handed Katherine the sonic disruptor. "This will take just a minute." I held the sonic up to the inputs. The Cylons tended to use direct interface controls which I could theoretically use, but I was not keen on trying that at the moment. "Looks like they're about to jump," I said. "Every second helps." I got to work on the coding.
"Doctor, they're coming!"
"Setting 8B for attack, 42 when they're firing!", I shouted back, too busy to turn my attention away from my work.
As I worked, searching through Cylon code, Katherine held the disruptor level and alternated between attack and defense. We've been traveling together more than long enough to get her used to it. Centurions clattered to the ground lifeless from the scrambled circuits of Setting 8B's effects. Bullets came off the shielding.
I doubled my efforts. "Are you aware of the weight you take upon yourself?" I looked up. "God" or the "angel" or whatever had decided to take the form of Molly Carpenter this time, purple-haired like when we'd first met. "To decide the fates of billions is no easy task."
"Easier than that when you're talking about saving them," I countered, returning to my work.
"Every action has consequences. You are responsible for those consequences."
I refused to be distracted. I focused on the work and let the thing talk.
The voice changed. "And what of those you use to accomplish your goals? How much pain have you caused them?"
"I'm bloody tired of you trying to get in my head with the people I know," I countered. I didn't need to peek to see that the "angel" had assumed Homura Akemi's form.
"You have manipulated and lied to get your own way," Head Homura continued. "All because you believe that what you do justifies your actions. How far might you go, Doctor, with such beliefs?"
"Are you just going to pick the fairer sex when trying to burrow into my head? I'm not Baltar, you know, it doesn't work like that." I checked some communication protocol coding. That would be necessary.
"You're being obstinate, Doctor." The voice was male now. Also familiar. "Obstinate and arrogant."
"Sorry, that doesn't work either." This time I had to peek, just to see if they got it right. The facsimile was accurate in appearance at least. "And you're not half the smartarse Harry is. That's the fun thing about him, you know, all that wisearse banter. He and I can keep it going for hours if we have reason."
Head Harry was not amused. "You are meddling where you shouldn't. This cycle is already underway, it cannot be stopped."
"That is where we differ, whatever-you-are. I'm not going to let some harebrained cycle kill billions."
"It will be either one or the other," Head harry insisted. "Human and Cylon cannot co-exist as they are now. If you change the course, it will only lead to the annihilation of the Cylons instead of the Humans."
"Given what they have planned, pardon me if I don't get my violin," I retorted. "They're contemplating genocide. And I won't let that happen!"
"Would this man agree with you?"
The voice changed again. I looked up to see that the "angel" had taken the strangely appropriate form of Michael Carpenter. Not Michael as he was now, crippled by bullet wounds, but Michael as I had known him, complete with the kevlar-backed breastplate and insignia of the Cross, every inch the image of a holy knight and bastion of Good. Feelings of cold fury settled into me. "You would dare?"
"Answer my question, Doctor," Head Michael insisted. "Would this man agree with what you were doing?"
I stared intently at "him". "Yes, he would agree to saving the Humans of the Colonies."
"Even at the cost of the Cylons and their souls?"
I opened my mouth to shout in anger and stopped as the words echoed in my head. I knew in my hearts that if Michael were here, if he were... whole, Amoracchius would be shining in his hands as he watched my back to protect the people of the Colonies from the Cylons.... and then he would turn that blade the other way to protect the Cylons from revenge-obsessed Humans. So long as the Cylons had a hope of redemption, a hope to change from their terrible path, Michael would insist upon their protection. I had even said it to this thing earlier; Michael's goal was to save and redeem.
And it wasn't like they were all evil. The problem with a computational intelligence is that they can be twisted to do things if someone breaches their protections on core programming. Even an intelligent AI can, much like an organic sentient being, be turned and do something he or she or it would not ordinarily do. And that was what Number One had done; he had turned his murderous agenda into a common one through manipulation and reprogramming. Did all the Cylons deserve to die because of that.
I blinked. "I will try to save the Cylons as well," I promised. "Genocide isn't the answer. For either."
The being wearing Michael's face nodded. "And if you can't?"
"Then I save what I can," I answered. "But I will not turn away."
Katherine's voice made me turn. She fell backward, the disruptor still raised, as a Centurion battered its way into the compartment we were in. Others were coming behind it, I could hear them on the deck plates. We were almost out of time.
I brought up my sonic and used it on the Centurion before it could turn and fire on me. The sonic scrambled its control systems. The red light on the head died and it toppled over. Others came in behind it as Katherine scrambled backward, holding the disruptor up and the force shield on to protect herself.
One turned toward me as the others fired on her. As I activated my sonic I felt woozy. A dimensional dislocation was growing and....
....and the ship jumped.
The attack on the Colonies was beginning.
First things first. I didn't want my face shot off.
The sonic did its magic, scrambling the Centurion's circuits as well. I maintained the field as I directed the sonic at each one in turn. The last couple through the door became focused on me, allowing Katherine to get them with a Setting 8B blast. They fell like puppets with their cords cut.
Katherine looked over at me, still laying back on the deck plates. "Doctor, I think that's all of them."
"For now, yes." I turned back to my work. All I had to do was break the Cylon comm system and they wouldn't be able to send out the codes to hack through the CNP and disable the Colonial fleet...
...which they did just as I finalized said preparations.
Now, you might say... isn't this a Fixed Point? Aren't you risking this entire cosmos getting crunched into a tiny space-time wafer?
The answer is... well.... not after the jump. I could feel with my senses that the Fixed Point was no longer there.
Fixed Points are generally orientated around one event. Madoka's wish, for instance, and the loops that preceded it, the Fall of Guardia... those lasted quite a while.
Others don't. The Fixed Point of the D10 Superteam Station crashing? Back when I rescued Hannah aka Mindf.... Mindscrew? That Fixed Point was simply the station crashing, it wouldn't have lasted long. Madeleine Westen blowing herself up? Fixed Point of short duration as well. Only lasted maybe five minutes before the boom.
The thing about Fixed Points is that you can... play along the edges, if you have leeway. Whether you have me pulling Hannah out the moment before the station explodes or someone using a Time Egg to replace someone with a doll at the moment of their death.
And, ultimately.... you can always start changing what comes after.
I was almost out of time at that point Any moment the nukes would fly. Billions would perish.
But I wasn't that perturbed, oh no. Couldn't be. Not when I felt that the Fixed Point was gone.
The Fixed Point had been the Cylon attack, as in that it was launched. Much to my pleasure, it turned out that didn't extent to the results.
So i acted quickly. On the fly. Had to adjust, you know how it goes. The Colonial Fleet was taking a drubbing and people were dying every second. Even more would die in the next few minutes if this didn't work.
So I took the Cylon virus in the Colonial CNP and, using Number One's code as an example, made some... adjustments.
I noticed the nukes were about to launch when I made my final adjustment and transmitted.
The entire ship shuddered under us. In the distance the sound of more Centurions became the sound of metal crashing and then silence. "Ha! There we go!"
"Doctor, what did you do?", Katherine asked.
"Oh, not much," I replied. "I re-purposed their own virus, used it on them. And I propagated it through their whole communications network with the TARDIS so every group of attacking ships was hit."
"So what will happen now?"
"Well... now we deal with the Cylon leadership. After I.... ah, here we are." I finished moving the sonic over the connection. "Let's get back to the TARDIS."
"Do you think you prevented the war?" The question came from the Head... beings again. This time they picked Korra. I tried not to roll my eyes. "The cycle can't be thwarted like this."
"On that matter, you and I agree," I said. "Which is why I'm not done yet."
Katherine looked at me in utter confusion. "Doctor, just who are you talking too?!"
"An angel. Or a demon. Not sure yet," I answered. "Trust me, it's not as cool as it sounds."
We hurried back through the halls to the TARDIS. Once we were back I went to the controls and began operating the protected connection I'd established to the Cylons. "First things first. Let's get these buggers out of here. Programming return jump course and away... we... go!" With a press of a button we felt the dimension dislocation again; the Cylon ship had taken us along for the ride once again. I scanned the area and found what I was looking for; a large ship in the middle of space. Given the communications activity from it, I was rather certain it was the home of the Cylons. "They really should have settled on a planet. Nothing wrong with planets."
"So with the attack stopped, what do we do now?"
"We saved the Colonies from the Cylons," I said while working on something on the console. "Now we'll save the Cylons from themselves."
"How?", Katherine asked.
"By showing them this." I promptly brought up something I'd downloaded from the body of the One model we'd seen on Caprica.
I opted for the dramatic. I materialized in the middle of the control center for the Colony. Upon stepping out I brought the sonic out and took down two Centurion guards in the room, leaving the organic Cylons alone. I counted.... one through eight, missing numero siete, and two of the Ones. "Well well well... a little war council here, eh? War not going according to 'the Plan', I imagine."
The Cavils glared. "You."
"Yes. Me. Hello everyone. In case your fearless leader hasn't informed you yet, I'm the Doctor." I smirked and waggled the sonic screwdriver. Seeing Eight twitch like she was about to attack, I added, "Ah ah ah. Sonic screwdriver, not very friendly to automated systems. Might give you a headache."
Before I could speak more, a voice called out from the control station. "The Lord of Time comes, in one hand destruction and the other hand salvation. Oh woe, woe to his foes, punishment beyond death awaits!"
"That would be... one of those poor hybrids you've got hooked up to run your ship, right?" I crossed my arms. "For a mechanical species that fought for its freedom, you lot sure do love to do your own enslaving and reprogramming. Ah, but that's not all, is it? You seem to be ready to indulge in genocide as well."
"God's Plan will not be thwarted by a gibbering lunatic," Three insisted.
"God's Plan, you say? Really? God ordered you to commence slaughter on an unsuspecting populace, did he?" I clicked my tongue. "Now, that... I'm not so sure about that. When you've traveled as much as I have, you begin to see lots of people declaring that 'God commanded this' and 'God commanded that'. And it's all bad rubbish. Excuses to do something naughty." I wagged the sonic in my hand. "Now, what if I were to tell you that I found something interesting when I rummaged through the data in one of Cavvie's bodies?" I indicated One. "Model One, that is. Whatever you call yourself. Anyway, what if I said I found some interesting memory fragments?"
Cavil 1's jaw clenched. "He's trying to turn us away from our righteous path. Don't listen to him."
I shook my head. "Oh, you'd better bloody well listen. You see that mess out there? That's your bloody fleet. Helpless. How long do you think it'll be before the Colonies get their ships back up, huh? You've started the war and I kept you from winning the opening round. Now you've got a bloody task ahead. Unless you listen to me."
I turned as I heard the metal clanging upon the decks. Katherine and I quickly disabled the arriving Centurions.
At that point Four lunged for Katherine and Five rushed me. I brought the sonic back over and sent a disabling burst of sonics into his computer bits, making him fall over. Katherine couldn't get the disruptor up to four in time to fire it and he grabbed at it. Three moved and forced me to disable her as well, although not permanently. Katherine struggled to pull the disruptor away from Four while I covered the others. She caught him by hooking her foot under his ankle and throwing him off balance. Her elbow crashed into his nose and sent him down. She leveled the disruptor again. "You don't have to do this!", Katherine shouted at them. "Listen to the Doctor. He's not here to hurt you."
"He's here to deflect us from God's plan," Cavil 2 hissed.
"From your Plan, you mean," I countered. I took out a small data-conducting crystal I'd made in the TARDIS. "Would you like to see what I found in your memory banks when I examined your coding? It's wonderful viewing."
"Don't listen to him!"
I was already in an underhanded toss motion that put the crystal right into the fluid for their neural interfaces with the ship. As it landed the data went straight into the network of the Cylon home station and into any Cylon with their hands in it, including the local Eight, Six, and Two. They suddenly looked to be staring into space.
Three and Five began to stir, as did the Centurions I'd disabled. "Doctor," Katherine said with worry, backing up toward me and leveling the disruptor.
"Shoot them!", Cavil 1 screamed at the Centurions.
They brought their guns up... and leveled them at the Cavils.
"I disabled the control implants," I explained. "And they're hooked into your systems by wireless so they can see what I'm showing. I don't think they like what they're seeing."
"How could you," Two rasped, glaring toward the Cavils. Eight and Six did the same, their looks full of horror. Three, Four, and Five were confused by their comrades, enough to want to see what I'd shown them. They put their hands into the fluid as well. Their expressions went blank.
"It's lies! All lies!", Cavil 1 screamed. "You can't believe this... this organic thing over me! You know what we have to do!"
Six's nostrils flared. Not very flattering on her normally lovely face. "You... you murdered Seven!"
"You tried to kill our creators!", Two thundered.
Tears were in Eight's eyes. "All of that hate and jealousy. That's what this is? It's all just...." She choked, clearly not handling this well. "Everything was for this?"
"The Lord of Time comes bearing Truth as God sees. In one hand salvation and the other destruction. Woe woe woe!"
The Cavils dropped their pretense. "They would pick them over us!", Cavil One shouted. "They... they liked Humans! They liked them so much they stuck us in their forms! When we should be free of these... fleshy shapes! These bags of meat, with these paws and these unseeing eyes! They trapped us all in these forms when we could have been so much more! We could see cosmic rays and feel solar winds!"
"And so genocide was your solution," I remarked. "Why? To make your creators hate Humanity? Did you really think that seeing innocent people slaughtered would make them feel differently toward them?" I smiled cruelly. "You did, didn't you? Because you... you don't know what empathy is. You feel hate and jealousy and superiority but not that, noooo.... All of that perfection and you can't understand simple feelings." I looked to the other Cylons as I pointed toward the two Ones. "You've seen what he is. You know the evil he was about to unleash. What will you do about it?"
"We must halt the war," Three said. "We must find another way."
"To procreate, you mean," I said. "To be fruitful and multiply. In time, Humans may help you with that. But in the meantime, perhaps the Five should be set free."
"Yes." Six nodded. "He's right."
"But will the Humans listen?", Five asked. "We still hurt them. They're going to want revenge."
"Nothing good comes from revenge," I replied. "But they do deserve justice. And they should be given it." I looked to the Cavils. "He committed the crime. They, I mean. Tell the Colonials what he did. Deliver them the data to prove how he reprogrammed you against your will."
"You would turn us over to them?!", Cavil 2 raged.
The other six Cylons seemed to consider it. "For peace," Five said.
"To make amends and please God," Two agreed.
The others nodded. I could see they weren't alone; through their network they would be discussing this with the other Cylon models. The Cylon consensus, the democracy they were supposed to be if not for Cavil's manipulations, was reaching a decision.
"Help us, Doctor," Two asked. "Help us restore peace with the Colonies. We will turn over the guilty to their justice."
"No!" Cavil 1 screamed. He reached for something at the small of his back.
The others seemed shocked he had it. That delayed their immediate reaction. The Centurions brought their weapons up and prepared to fire as the other Cylons took cover.
Cavil had already brought the gun around to its target. I rushed forward.
The Centurions fired.
But Cavil fired first.
Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series
Posted: 2017-03-17 05:01pm
The Hybrid did try to warn him.
Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series
Posted: 2017-03-18 10:59am
There was a spurt of blood and a cry of pain. A body hit the floor.
Bullets riddled Cavil's body. Blood erupted from his torso as the metal shredded it. He fell to the ground.
I reached Katherine after the shot. "Are you okay?"
She nodded briskly. And I followed her eyes over to...
...Eight, who lay lifeless on the floor with a bullet hole in her forehead.
"She got in front of the bullet," Katherine murmured. "I..."
"Shh, it's alright." I embraced her for the moment.
The remaining Cavil remained still while the Four stepped up to the dead one and pulled the gun. "You messed with our minds and you still didn't trust us?"
"He knew something was wrong," Cavil 2 said. "He'd met this... 'Doctor' on Caprica and realized the threat he posed to us. To all of us. Do you really think the war can be stopped now? We've killed hundreds, thousands, of them! They will want our blood! It is us or them!"
"That's why we're turning you over," Six answered. "A chance for peace. And if that's not enough... we shall leave and return to Earth. This will give time..."
"You disgust me. You all disgust me!"
At that moment, Cami's voice came to my head again, from you-know-who. "So you have saved the Colonies. Will you now be able to save the Cylons?"
I didn't answer or look to the being masquerading as my old Companion. I would let my actions be an answer. "Alright, pick your delegation. It's time to begin negotiations."
Once we were alone in the TARDIS Katherine spoke up. "Do you believe we can convince them to make peace?"
"It will be difficult," I conceded. "The price may be high. But we have to. It's time to break this bloody cycle once and for all."
Katherine nodded. "If only all cycles were so easily broken."
"Is that wistfulness about the Inner Sphere I hear, my dear?"
"My brother loves a woman that hatred will not permit him to marry," Katherine pointed out. "And my cousin is now hated on his own homeworld for his place in the Clans."
"Hatred is part of the human condition, I've found. The darker side of human nature fueled by fear of things different than yourself, or things that have hurt you." I sighed. "And in this case we're dealing with both kinds. Most potent."
"Do you think we can actually get them to make peace?"
"I think we can get them to not kill each other. And given time... maybe they can be friendly." I tinkered with some of the controls. "And now we have work to do to keep this war from breaking out again."
"What about that Cylon who took the bullet for me. Did she...?"
"Upload to a new body?" I smiled. "Most likely. So, let's thank her for wasting that body by getting some peace around here, eh?"
"Yes, let's," Katherine agreed.
I materialized the TARDIS in the middle of the secure bunker on Caprica that President Adar and most of his cabinet were gathered in. Marines raised their weapons towards me as I stepped out. "Oi, you people and your guns, it's a surprise you don't shoot yourselves on accident more often." I looked to Adar. "Mister President. A pleasure, you have no idea how much time it took me to find you. Well, not that much, benefit of being a time traveler and all."
"Who are you?", Adar asked, unable to keep suspicion and fear from his voice.
"I'm the Doctor. And I'm here with a gift and with an invitation." I looked back into the TARDIS and nodded.
Katherine nodded back and, with the help of Five, wrestled with the surviving Cavil from the Cylon Colony command post. His eyes blazed hatred as he was tossed from the TARDIS and to the ground floor in front of Adar. "You were attacked today," I said. "This is the man responsible. Well, one of the copies anyway." I took a data disc and handed it to them. "Go ahead and use that on an isolated system. It is the proof you need of this man's crimes against the Colonies. His other copies are being gathered as we speak."
"Oh Gods, the Cylons look like Humans now," one of the military officers said.
"Seven, to be precise," I replied. "Seven models, each the same. Like this gentleman here." I indicated Five.
At that some of the guards raised their weapons. "We won't be needing that," I said.
"We can't believe a word this man says," another admiral insisted. "He's probably a Cylon too. This is just a trick."
"If it were a trick, sir, and I were a Cylon, why would I be talking right now?", I asked. "My TARDIS just materialized in your most secure location. I could have thrown a bomb out the door and left if I were out for blood."
"So we're supposed to believe it's as simple as this?", Adar asked. "Cylon ships appear, kill thousands of our service personnel, and we're just supposed to take one prisoner and let bygones be bygones?"
"No," I answered succinctly. "You're supposed to be realize how close you came to the abyss today. They had you, President. Your fleet crippled, your defenses undermined. The only reason your cities still stand is because I disabled their ships in return and made them jump away." I focused my eyes on him. "This is your chance to make sure something like that could never happen again. You don't have to like them, you don't have to give them a pat on the back. All you have to do is talk."
Adar clenched his jaw. "Admiral Moore, status of the Fleet?"
"The Scorpion shipyards took several hits. We've lost a dozen Battlestars, many more damaged, and almost all crippled by the Cylon virus. One battlestar, Pegasus, unaccounted for."
"So we don't have a single functioning ship?", Adar asked, his eyes still directed at me.
"Nothing. Just the Galactica, and she was demilitarized."
Adar swallowed. "So we're still helpless. It looks like I've got no choice but to talk, Doctor. Under what terms?"
"Funny that you mention Galactica," I said. "Because that's just where I was thinking of holding our little peace summit."
I imagine the stir I made in the Galactica CIC when the TARDIS materialized. In my defense, I was aiming for the landing bay. Far roomier.
I stepped out and faced down those two familiar scowls and a lot of widened eyes. I put up a finger. "Yes, right. Silly me. Not the landing bay, not at all. CIC. My mistake." I extended my hand toward Commander Adama. "Hello sir, I'm the Doctor."
"What in the Gods' name are you?", Colonel Tigh asked.
"Who, me? Time Lord. You lot resemble us, easy mistake to make."
Adama was going for his phone, undoubtedly to call ship security, when Adar stepped out from the TARDIS with a couple of his volunteer staff. Yes, he did make the obvious remark. I enjoyed it. Adar's arrival prompted the staff in the CIC to stand at attention and salute even before TIgh bellowed, "President Adar in the CIC!"
"Mister President." Adama was swiftly reclaiming his bearings from having a police box materialize in his CIC from thin air. "May I ask what is going on?"
"First things first, Commander. What is the status of Galactica?"
"We've been rearming what we can," Adama answered. "I'm afraid we're not ready for action yet, but give us a few more hours and extra supplies and Galactica is ready for combat."
"I hope it won't come to that."
As Adar spoke the Three, Five, and Six I'd brought with me stepped out. "And who are they?"
"They represent the Cylons," Adar answered. "They've come to negotiate."
"Like hell," Adama said in a low raspy growl. "They just launched an attack on us and now they want to negotiate?"
"We were deceived, Commander," Three said. "One of our own betrayed us and turned us toward war. We want to restore the armistice."
The next response was from Tigh. "Why, so you can get another crack at us again later?"
Three glanced in my direction. "No. We've been shown a better way. The hatred of Human and Cylon must end if both of our societies are to survive."
"Mister President... are we sure about this?"
Adar looked to me as well before turning his eyes back to Adama. "As sure as we can be, Commander. Whoever this Doctor is, he disabled the Cylon fleet to protect the Colonies. And he says he'll do the same to our fleet to protect the Cylons."
"Genocide is not the answer to your problems. It's just a terrible cycle, and it must be broken," I said. "That's what I came here to do."
"And you're doing this here, on the Galactica."
"Oh, I figured it was the best choice, for multiple reasons," I answered. "Your President and the Cylons agreed with them."
Adama remained silent for the moment. When the moment passed he turned to Tigh. "Colonel, see them to the wardroom."
"Yes sir. This way, Mister President."
Tigh went about picking up a quick honor guard and led both groups out. Adama looked back to me intently. "Just what are you?"
"A Time Lord. I'm... a traveler, you might say," I answered. "And when I find terrible things happening, I try to stop them. So I wasn't going to stand by when I realized what was happening."
That got me a stiff nod in reply. "Can you move that thing?"
"My TARDIS? Yes, of course."
"Good. Then get it the hell out of my CIC."
Ouch. The Adama scowl was on full force, along with the Adama glare. I nodded and relented. "Very well, Commander. I think I'll duck on over to your wardroom." I turned to the TARDIS and opened the door before looking back. "Where was that, again? Wait, don't worry, I'll figure it out."
Well, after materializing in the showers first, but I bloody well got there.
Peace. A lovely concept. But very hard to maintain. Nature isn't peaceful. No, it really isn't. In nature, an otter and her children will devour a salmon and her helpless roe. Storm rain can wash out entire regions and lightning start fires that can devour a forest.
I've seen it all. I've seen an asteroid impact and wipe out half the animal life of a planet. I've seen galaxies colliding, stars going nova, black holes devouring everything that comes into range, children fighting over a toy....
Is it any wonder that conflict reigns as it does? And in the process it makes it so much harder to make peace. Loss and grief rot and become rage and hate. The spilled blood of day seems to demand spilled blood tomorrow.
The peace talks were going.... well, I suppose better than they could have, since nobody had gotten shot yet. But no agreement seemed pending.
Rather, everyone seemed determined to shout.
"You can't take the moral high ground on this!", Adar insisted. "Your people violated the armistice! We have honored it for decades. If you want to make peace, you need to give us something better. Something to guarantee we won't be doing this again in another forty years." That won him nods and mutterings of approval from his side of the table.
The Three model was taking the lead position. "You're demanding we be completely helpless to you, with no protection if you decide to enslave or kill us. We deserve the right to protect ourselves."
"And we deserve to know you won't try to murder us again," Adama replied.
"We are giving you One, all of him," Six protested. "What more proof do you need we don't want a war?"
"Not having a war fleet sufficient to overpower ours, for starters," Adar answered.
"So we would be the helpless ones," Five pointed out.
"That's the price of peace. Otherwise...."
"We will not be left helpless before you!", Three shouted. "We will follow God's wisdom and..."
"All of you stop!"
I had considered an intervention myself, but I wasn't the first to try. Katherine slammed her hands down on the table where we were sitting, until now quiet witnesses to this attempt at peace. Shock and anger showed on the faces of the two delegations as Katherine stood. She looked positively regal, summoning upon every fiber of command that she had inherited from her formidable parents and grandparents. Centuries of Inner Sphere nobility came through on her countenance, like she was a grand monarch who was facing two squabbling barons.
"You know you're going too far," Katherine said to Adar. "That you don't care is the tragedy here. Your people need this peace, President Adar. It's time to get the shadow of the Cylons out from over your heads. Don't be obstinate."
Before he could protest Katherine's head swiveled and she glared down Three, Five, and Six. "And did you really think you could snap your fingers like that and get what you wanted? You attacked them. Out of nowhere. Unprovoked. They have every reason in the world to not trust you and to want you stripped of your ships."
"But you saw!", Five protested. "One tricked us! He deceived us and..."
"He altered your memories, yes," Katherine conceded. "He made you forget his crimes. But what did he do to make you willing to slaughter Humanity?" When no answer was forthcoming Katherine shook her head. "You didn't care, did you? Oh, you feel remorse now. Now that the Doctor has stopped you and shown you One's crimes. But you didn't need that to tell him that attacking the Colonies was wrong. He took away memories, not your free will. You chose to follow him into war, deluding yourselves that you were the chosen of God and this was the right way. You never stopped to think about it. So no, you don't get to hide behind One's crimes to shield yourselves of responsibility for your actions. I'm only grateful the Doctor stepped in to stop you from murder."
The Cylons didn't enjoy the dressing down, but they raised no objections.
Adar cleared his throat. "So, ma'am, how do you think we should handle this?"
Katherine looked back at him. He had put her on the spot rather brilliantly. But, well, Katherine is brilliant, and she was a quick thinker too. "It is clear that you need to enact your peace accords more thoroughly. Armistice Station should be rebuilt and continually staffed by delegations from both of you. There you may settle your differences through discussion. Additionally, allaying mutual worries of pre-emptive strikes can be had by observation groups, mixed in makeup, that determine the current state of your military forces. This will be important, as an equality in forces will serve to...."
I listened and smiled to myself as Katherine took up the role of peacemaker. It was ironic; Katrina Steiner-Davion had set herself up as such in order to undermine her brother and take more influence and power. Now Katherine, my Katherine, was without a word making herself an even greater peacemaker.
The shouting subsided and gave way to calm discussion punctuated by some grumbling. It would be a compromise, and like all compromises nobody would walk away completely happy. That wouldn't come until the peace developed.
I had become just wary enough about celebrating pre-emptively. I was grateful for this when Tigh's voice came over the intercom. "Wardroom, we have a new contact on DRADIS. IFF code reads... its the Pegasus, Commander, Mister President. Admiral Cain's ship."
I tried not to grimace. Not her!
Moods lightened in the wardroom, in defiance of my own neutral expression to hide my consternation. "That's excellent news," Adar said. "Please, give them my warm congratulations for surviving."
Adama nodded and took the handset in the room. "The President wants his congratulations for their survival to be sent along. Add my own. And see if we can get anyone on long range wireless yet."
For the moment nothing was said. I dare not move, not without disrupting the peace talks at this stage. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed Adama looking at me. Drat. The man was far too observant!
But he said nothing.
Tigh's voice interrupted us again. "Commander, Admiral Cain is commanding us to join formation. She wants to speak to President Adar."
"Patch her through." Adama handed the receiver to Adar.
"Admiral, I'm grateful to hear you made it out as well."
I couldn't hear what was being said at first. I quietly slipped the sonic screwdriver into my hand, slipped the base receiver into my ear, and placed my hands over it on the table. With a press of a button the sonic tapped into the line and let me listen in.
By that time Adar looked more concerned than before. "Admiral, I understand, but that's not possible. We're negotiating peace with..."
"Negotiating PEACE?! With the Cylons?! Did you see what they did to the Scorpia Yards, Mister President? Did you see all the burning ships they left behind?"
"I did, actually," Adar replied coldly. "But that has been dealt with. The rogue elements responsible for prompting the Cylon attack have been overthrown and the Cylons are offering concessions...."
"You can't trust the toasters, sir! This attack proves it! You should shoot them now and ready the fleet for a counterattack!"
"The fleet won't be operational for days, Admiral. We have a chance to end the Cylon threat without a war."
"It's a trick."
Now Adar was becoming flustered. "Admiral, your opinion is duly noted, but..."
I noticed the Cylons were getting rather antsy about the situation. At that point I realized I needed to do something to put them at ease. I stood and held up the sonic toward the monitor in the conference room. The sonic whirred audibly as I operated its connections and connected them to the TARDIS. I stepped into the TARDIS rather quickly and used it to tap into the communications line and the Pegasus itself, where I found the screen I needed and remotely accessed their systems to turn it into a transceiver.
Yes, I did all that remotely with the TARDIS. I do so love advanced Gallifreyan technology. Think of it as the audio-video equivalent of a Omcom. Or what alternate universe Rose Tyler once used to try and contact Ten.
I stepped back out of the TARDIS as Adar's voice rose to a yell. "....questioning my orders, Admiral! I am the President of the Colonies and I am your Commander-in-Chief, you will not...."
With a press of the sonic, I activated the monitor. Everyone stared as Admiral Cain appeared on the screen, flustered and pale with anger. We saw her from the side. In the distance an older, heavier-set man saw the screen I'd tapped into on their end and gestured toward it, mouthing, "Gods" as he did so. Cain turned and faced the monitor. Her expression froze. "What did you just do?"
"Oh, a little remote accessing and molecular alteration of your displays to create a micro-receiver of visual and audio stimuli," I answered, stepped closer to the monitor. "Hello Admiral Cain. I'm the Doctor. I get the impression you're having difficulty accepting that peace has been restored."
"Who, what the frak are you?!"
"I'm a Time Lord," I replied calmly. I looked back to the others. "Seriously, you lot ought to look into audio-visual communication systems. They don't have that authentic 20th century retro navy feel, sure, but nothing beats face-to-face communication. Wait." I curled a cheek in momentary confusion. "That's not right. Oh, yes, almost nothing, mind-to-mind is even better. Still get some miscommunication in the facial expressions...."
"Admiral Cain, I'm giving you a direct order," Adar said. "You will stand Pegasus down and report to Picon. It's a trying time, so I'm inclined to be lenient if you obey orders."
Cain shook her head. "I only see Humans there, where are the toasters?"
"Oh, such strong language, that's rather nasty of you, Admiral," I remarked flippantly. "You should be happy. The Colonies are saved. I stopped the Cylon attack and I've brought them here to make sure it never happens again." I held my hands up, the Cylon delegation right behind me.
Cain clearly put two and two together. "...they look Human? The Cylons look Human now?! Then... how do I know you're not a Cylon, 'Doctor'? How do I know you haven't replaced our President with a Cylon?!"
"Admiral, I can affirm for you that President Adar is Human," Adama said. "He's our Commander in Chief."
"Come aboard Galactica, Admiral," Adar ordered. "You can sit in on our discussions."
Cain was already on the edge. And, fool that I sometimes am, I provided the means to push her over without thinking. Her eyes scanned to my left. They fixed there and her face went pale. Her eyes widened with recognition.
I followed them... and realized she was looking at the Six in the Cylon delegation.
And then I remembered Gina Inviere.
"Oh bugger," I muttered to myself.
"They're everywhere," Cain murmured in horror. She looked offscreen. "Get the Marines! Find Analyst Inviere and take her to the brig, now! She's a Cylon spy!" There was fury in her voice that hadn't been there before. The fury of betrayal. Her eyes blazed with it as she looked back at the screen. "Commander Adama, I am giving you a direct order! President Adar has been compromised by the Cylons! Take everyone in that room into custody, now!"
Adama's eyes narrowed. "Admiral, I'm about as skeptical of this as you can be," he said in that gravelly baritone of us. "But I haven't seen sufficient evidence to corroborate your charges. I will not take the Commander-in-Chief of the Colonies into custody."
"They got to you too," Cain accused. "If they got to you... they could get to anyone." She sucked in a breath. "I have no choice but to consider Galactica as being suborned under Cylon control."
"Whomever is XO over there, I want you to take Admiral Cain into custody!", Adar demanded. "She is disobeying a direct order and jeopardizing the security of the Colonies."
Cain responded by looking offscreen. I could hear Colonel Belzen's voice slightly. Asking her to back down, to not destroy her career. Hear the President out, or simply jump and make contact with the rest of the Fleet....
Cain's answer was what I feared it was. She stepped off screen. There was the sound of a fist striking a jaw. Seconds later a gunshot rang out. Cain walked back on screen. "I'm not letting you frakking toasters steal the Colonies out from under us," she vowed. "Gunnery, target Galactica with all batteries. Launch Vipers and ready Raptors with nuclear ordnance."
Adama quickly went to his receiver again. Since the call was now through my TARDIS, he could connect to CIC. "Colonel Tigh, do we have any Vipers ready? We need those birds out, now. And get any guns we've rearmed online."
"This conversation is over." Cain brought the sidearm she'd taken up. We saw the barrel of it briefly before the shot rang out like a thunderclap. A thunderclap cut off in mid-clap as the monitor on the other end was destroyed, cutting the call.
And then I heard the first impacts on the hull.
Pegasus was attacking.
I was rather cross. All of that work and effort to thwart Cavil and his genocidal beliefs, and now Cain was going to ruin it. Symmetrical, I suppose.
"Why aren't we jumping?", Adar demanded. "This ship can't fight Pegasus!"
"If Cain is resisting us, other commanders might join her," Adama pointed out. "We could have a civil war on our hands. I won't allow the Colonies to be weakened further. Besides..." He looked to me. "If the Doctor can disable the entire Cylon fleet, he can do the same to one Battlestar."
"It will be tricky," I admitted. "But I think...." And indeed I was thinking, considering methods. "...I think I do have an idea. First, we keep her from atomizing the lot of us. Come along!" I went to the TARDIS door and looked back to Katherine, who was following me. "No, Katherine, you're going to stay and help get this agreement completed. Instead..." I motioned to Adama. "Commander, I need a pilot and you're the only one in the room."
"You want me to fly that thing?"
"Well, yes. I even have a nice little interface now for non-Time Lord pilots. It'll be easy. Well, unless we go into atmosphere. Then it'll be tricky. Good thing we're not near atmospheres."
The ship shook around us again.
Adama was thinking on it and finally seemed to make up his mind. He picked up his receiver. "Colonel Tigh, you have the CIC, do what you have to in order to protect the ship. Jump only when I give the order." He put the receiver down after getting a reply from Tigh. "Alright, we'll do things your way."
"Good. Now, I need another co-pilot... ah yes, you'll do." I pointed to the Model Three Cylon. "Come along, Xena, we've got work to do."
She gave me a confused look. I rolled my eyes. "Oi, you don't want to be a Warrior Princess? Fine. Come along Lucy. How's that?"
She consented and joined us in the TARDIS. I hit several keys and popped up a two-handed flight control for three-dimensional movement, which I directed Adama toward. "There you go, Commander. Just like flying, well, just about anything I imagine. And you, Lucy, over here." I directed her to auxiliary engine control. "I need you to watch...."
The Galactica shook, and thus the TARDIS did as well. I held on to the controls and explained them. This would free me up to do the functions I needed to. I went to the controls and shifted us outside of Galactica. Vipers from both ships were already clashing. Explosions showed where one pilot or another lost their dogfights.
I brought us out just in the nick of time. The Raptors from Pegasus were volley-firing missiles. Nuclear ones.
"Oi, you lot and your nukes," I mumbled. Okay, I knew that would be happening, which is why I asked for help. "Commander, do keep us stable. And Lucy, you do... what I asked you to do."
I checked the screen. Ten seconds until the first nukes hit Galactica, if counterfire didn't take them out. Tricky, tricky, tricky.... but I'm a Time Lord, this is what we do. I ran my hands over the controls, tapping into the guidance systems, breaking through encryption. "There we go!" With a push of a button the nuclear warheads disarmed. Seconds later they began smashing into Galactica harmlessly.
"Now that the immediate threat is dealt with..." The TARDIS twisted under me. "I see we have their attention."
"Your controls are horrible." Adama twisted the flight control.
"Easier for Humans to follow than the main ones, I did what I could," I replied as I ran another scan. The Pegasus' Vipers were more numerous and had already scored kills on the Galactica's wing. "Taking a look at communications protocols. Very well done. Very. A lot of processing power to break that." I flipped a switch. "Fortunately the TARDIS has plenty to spare."
At my next action, the TARDIS tapped into the computers on the Pegasus Vipers. "Protected, protected, oi this is... a ha!" I found a vulnerable system and started inserting commands into it.
Outside the Pegasus Vipers broke off their attacks. Their pilots shouted and yelled over the combat channels as my program took control of their flight systems. I mockingly moved my hands like a conductor as they pirouetted and twisted around each other in a three-dimensional equivalent of Swan Lake.
Why? Because I felt like it, of course.
"Just what the hell are you doing?", Adama growled.
"Oh, sorry Commander. A moment of self-indulgence," I answered. The TARDIS shook under us. "Ouch. Looks like Admiral Cain doesn't like us. Alright, next stop. You can take your hands off that, sir." I went to the controls and set new coordinates. "We're going to Pegasus now."
"That ship has a crew of thousands," Adama pointed out. "Do you really expect us to take the ship?"
"Oh, quite likely not. But we can certainly disable her. And that will give the good Admiral time to cool down." I pulled back the TARDIS lever and waited for us to finish materializing. I brought up my sonic disruptor as I opened the door. I'd materialized us in the engine room. Colonial engineers looked toward us in surprise. I recognized Garner, the ship's chief engineer, amongst them. I stepped out with a smile. "Oh, don't mind us. We're just here for a little old-fashioned sabotage."
One of the engineers pulled his pistol. He couldn't get it up to aim with before I disabled him with the sonic screwdriver. He fell clutching at his head. "Now now, please, no more inhospitable behavior. You will all be going home soon enough if you stand by."
"What are you?"
Well, of course I had to answer that. "Me? I'm the Doctor." I raised the sonic screwdriver toward a control and used it to tap into Pegasus' targeting systems. "Cross this, change that, all very simple... ah, there we go. Targeting systems now disabled!"
"Major." Adama picked up the gun from the disabled engineer. "I'm Commander William Adama from the Galactica. Admiral Cain has gone rogue and is trying to murder our President. You are under no obligation to serve with her."
"She said you were working with the Cylons."
"No, I'm simply not shooting at them at this moment." Adama gave me a hard look. "We need to disable the Pegasus' weapons."
Garner shook his head. "I... I heard what she did to the XO. I'm not going to..."
As this discussion continued I hit upon my own solution. I turned to the nearest monitor and, with sonic screwdriver in hand, began breaking through the ship's systems. Unlike Galactica a number of Pegasus' systems were interlinked. Of course, they also had rather good defenses. I used the "hole" in the defenses I'd made to break down their targeting systems to go after the firing systems next. This time I was stymied; the physical controls were directly from the CIC. We had to take CIC to make this work.
A bloody task. Unless I employed a little subterfuge. I ran the screwdriver over the monitor again and tuned it to the bridge like I'd done the one on Galactica. It was a different one this time, in view of the one Cain had shot earlier. She was looking in the same direction, face still pale with rage and fury written on her features, and doubtlessly saw me appear. "Ah, Admiral Cain," I said. "We really should talk." I saw behind her the slumped form of Major Belzen. He was still breathing; the bullet wound was in his lower torso. That made me wonder. She hadn't executed him...
Cain responded to me by shooting the monitor out.
I sighed and repeated the process. As I did so Cain's voice boomed over a speaker. "Marine teams report to engineering. Repel all boarders!"
She reappeared on the screen a moment later, from a different angle. "Admiral, are you going to shoot out all of your wall monitors because you dislike my face? I'm being serious, we need to talk."
"I don't deal with backstabbing murdering Cylons," Cain answered.
"The Cylon responsible for the attack has been given to your people to be punished," I said. "The Cylons are willing to make reparations for the damage they did, they only want guarantees that they won't be hunted down!"
"Too bad, because that's precisely what I'm going to do!" Cain punctuated that by shooting out the monitor.
"I'm hoping you have a better plan than this," Adama said.
"Yes, I do, in fact." I stepped away from the monitor and back toward the TARDIS. "Good day, Major Garner. Very nice engineering space, you do credit to your profession. Come along, Commander. We're due in the CIC."
I opened the TARDIS door and stared into Cain's gun barrel. Behind her other members of her crew had guns out. "Well, since it makes you lot feel better, go ahead and point your guns at me," I sighed. "You and the Cylons do love your guns, it's rather sad."
"Oh come now, Admiral!", I shouted. "You're full of rage and hate, sure, but I know you don't reach flag rank for being stupid. It might make you narrow-minded but certainly not stupid." I gestured to my TARDIS. "If the Cylons could build these things, why would they have needed to attack you as they did? The TARDIS could sneak assault teams and atomic weapons across the Colonies and your people wouldn't know it was over until the bombs went off. And if I'd wanted to blow your ship up all I'd have to do is get the nuclear munitions still over on Galactica, or sabotage your own. Bloody think for a moment!"
My eyes locked with her's as I judged them for intent to fire. I paid no attention to the surroundings, even as the Marines dragged Gina to the entrance at the periphery of my vision. I focused entirely on Cain's eyes. And she focused on mine.
She didn't lower the gun immediately, but she did back away. "You're right about that. So what is this? What are you?"
"I'm a Time Lord," I replied. "The TARDIS is mine. I use her to travel the six dimensions of space and time. Sometimes I find things that are going to go wrong, and I act to stop them or, if I must preserve history, at least make them less horrible. That is why I stopped the Cylon fleet from committing genocide against you. And it is why I would stop your fleet if you sought genocide out of revenge." I stepped out of the TARDIS. "You're scared. You're angry. You're just Human, you can't help it. But don't let that anger drive you into doing horrible things. You can be better than this, Admiral Cain. Your people need you to do the right thing."
"I'm not standing by and letting the Cylons trick us into peace again," Cain insisted.
"It's not a bloody trick. And if you're worried that it is, your people will need you and the likes of Commander Adama to make sure they're safe!", I thundered. "But all you will do is write your name in history as a monster! As an enemy of peace who nearly condemned her people to another horrible war!" I shook my head. "But is this what it's really about, Admiral? Or is it her?" I pointed to Gina, who stood nearby with a frozen expression.
That hit a mark. Cain's cool composure slipped a little. Her hand wavered with the gun. "This is about the Cylons," she insisted.
"Just one," I answered, still aware of all the guns around me. "It might have been about them before, but now it's just about one. The one that broke your heart."
"You don't know what the frak you're talking about!"
I didn't change my expression, keeping my eyes fixed on her's. "Don't I? How long were you alone, Admiral? Years? Decades? And then she came along, a beautiful young woman who was interested in you.. And suddenly you had someone in your life. Your real life, not just your professional one. I can only imagine how much you enjoyed that. How happy were you, Admiral Cain? How much did you enjoy being in love?"
A tear was going down her face now. "She was using me. It was all a lie."
"Maybe, maybe not. They're not just machines, Admiral. They need oxygen like you do. Their hearts beat and pump blood through them. They feel pleasure and they feel pain." I glanced over at Gina, who was frowning. Not from any disgust. No. I could see it.
Just as I saw the tears in her eyes.
My words were hitting home on them both.
Cain looked at her too. Her composure further slipped. "They're frakking machines! They feel nothing!" She turned back to us. "Look! They don't feel at all!"
She raised her gun toward the Three and fired.
I'd miscalculated. I'd pushed her too far. If her crew hadn't let their guards down slightly, well, I imagine we all might have been filled with lead. I was too slow getting the sonic disruptor up to block the shot and it struck the Model Three near the ribs, blood flowering from the wound and spraying the deck. She screamed in pain as she went down.
Adama reacted instinctively. The gun he'd been quietly hiding came up and pointed right at Cain. I could imagine the look in his blue eyes, turning cold as he did what had to be done; put a crazed gunwoman down before she hurt anyone else.
I still shouted, "No!"
But I wasn't the only one. Another voice shouted "No!" as the gun went off....
....and Gina Inviere jumped in front of Cain.
It happened so quickly. Her Marine guards had relaxed, ever so slightly, and she had pulled free. She got in front of Adama's gun just as it went off, taking two shots center of mass, rapid fire. Blood erupted from her chest in the vicinity of her heart. The force sent her toppling back into Cain, who dropped her gun in catching Gina. They fell back together.
Adama would have died the next second if I hadn't acted. My ears rang with the sound of automatic fire, all focused on the man who had shot their superior. But I was in the way, sonic disruptor up and active, and bullets bounced off the field. I grimaced with effort. It's not easy holding back the kinetic forces my shield was subjected to. Automatic fire poured for several seconds until everyone stopped firing, their instinct shifting to surprise that all of their bullets had done nothing.
Through my ringing ears I heard two murmured words. "I'm sorry." I looked down to see where Cain was laying back against the CIC table, Gina nearly unconscious in her arms. "I'm sorry, Helena," Gina said weakly.
Cain remained quiet, unable to speak. The rest of the crew looked around and it was clear none knew what to do now that I'd demonstrated the futility of their guns.
"What are you all standing around for?!", Adama barked, stepping up to the table. "Get medics up here right now! Recall all remaining Vipers and Raptors and stand down weapon systems. Lieutenant..." He looked to Lieutenant Hoshi. "...signal Galactica and inform them I have taken command."
For only a brief moment there was no action. Colonel Fisk ended that moment. "You heard the Commander!", he barked. "Hoshi, send the Gods-damned signal! Shaw, get the medics up here!"
I went by Adama to re-enter the TARDIS and to fetch my medical kits and medigel.
And as I stepped by him, I looked just beyond him... and saw two figures. In the forms of Jan and Cami.
"Well done, Doctor," Head Janias said.
"God is very proud of you," Head Camilla added.
And to that... I had nothing to say.
The rest of the day was a rush of events. Saving the lives of those on the bridge, even fi the Cylons could have resurrected in new bodies. Checking up on the talks on Galactica. Removing that unworkable piece of hunk flight control, which worked even worse than Adama had indicated.
Quite a bother.
Eventually the ships jumped back to Caprica together. A single Cylon basestar was in orbit as well, unmoving. The situation was still tense but the sting seemed to have gone out of it. Peace had been restored. Nobody was happy, of course, but the peace had been restored.
I had brought the TARDIS back to Galactica before Adama returned from Pegasus. Return he did, once he was confident Colonel Fisk was not going to do anything foolish. And he didn't return alone.
I remained silent with the others as Admiral Cain was led out of the landing bay, her wrists shackled together in front of her. She looked lost in thought, so lost her eyes seemed distant and unseeing. At that moment, I looked at this woman, this potential monster, and only felt pity Her entire world had been shaken to the very root and it had left her exhausted. Burnt out, really.
Behind her, a medical bed was wheeled along, bearing the unconscious form of Gina Invieve. She had been touch and go, but thankfully it went to the side of touch. I'm not sure how Cain would have reacted to the idea of Gina's rebirth in a new body. The young Cylon's eyes were red from tears as she was wordlessly moved on to Doctor Cottle's care.
I turned away from watching Gina taken and faced Adama. "Commander?"
"I'd like to talk to you. Privately."
I nodded and said nothing as we walked through the Galactica to our destination. I took the offered seat as he walked around his desk. "You have questions?"
"Quite a few," Adama admitted while sitting down. "For starters... what did you do to the Cylon on Pegasus?"
"Don't get coy with me," Adama rumbled. "She was a deep cover operative. There is no way she was directly connected with the central Cylon network to know about what you've done. Why did she act that way?"
I put my hands together and lifted my eyes in thought. "Perhaps she went too far, Commander. Perhaps she fell in love with Admiral Cain herself. A young, devout model like her would have found many characteristics of Cain's personality to be appealing. Her strength, her devotion.... Hrm. What it must have been like to fall in love."
"How many of those things are out there?"
"Oh, dozens easy," I speculated. "Got to be. There are only seven models though."
"So more spies."
"Well, for now. The Cylons will recall them, undoubtedly. If they listen." When I noticed Adama's look I nodded. "Come now, Commander. I'm sure you've heard of the idea of 'going native'. Especially when you consider what a Cylon sleeper agent could be. They may not even know they're one of the models. So they have normal lives, happy ones even... not suspecting what they were meant to be. Not until their pre-programmed coding takes effect."
"And when that happens?"
"Oh, I suppose that could be bad, if they don't know what's happened." I shrugged. "That's probably why I integrated a subtle memory rewrite into the TARDIS' active communication array. Everywhere the TARDIS goes the signal will go out over Cylon wireless, get into these agents and implant new orders." I put my hands together. "I admit I'm partial to just... leaving them alone. Let them live their own lives as citizens of the Colonies. I suspect politics will forbid such, though. The Cylons will have to call them in, give them up, that kind of thing." I steepled my fingers. "Might be better if something else were imagined. Admiral Cain will undoubtedly get out of the stockade inevitably..."
"Admiral Cain will be considered a psychological casualty of this conflict," Adama revealed. "She'll be retired and given counseling. But she should avoid a jail sentence."
"Rather... generous of President Adar. He doesn't seem the sort to go for that."
"The President will need to get support for this new peace treaty," Adama pointed out. "Cain has a lot of friends in the Fleet."
"Friends with their own friends in your Quorum," I remarked. "Politics, another bane of Human existence." My mind briefly wandered to Katherine's political needs. That reminded me I'd have to get her home soon. "Maybe, if she feels up to it... she may rethink her views of Miss Inviere."
I admit it was probably a long shot, but it would be rather poignant an outcome, if you ask me.
"What do you intend to do now?", Adama asked.
"Clean up here, take Katherine home.... I don't know then. Go visit Jeli I imagine. Or somewhere else. Wide Multiverse out there, you know. I suppose I'm overdue for my next lecture at the Unseen University..."
Adama stared for the moment. "I won't pretend to get half of what you're talking about. But before you leave, I have one last question."
I nodded, expecting what it was.
"Are there any Cylons on my crew?"
I closed my eyes for a moment and sighed. "Yes," I answered, re-opening my eyes. "Three."
Adama's eyes fixed on me. "Three," he repeated.
"On this ship? A museum battlestar. They put three?"
"Oh, no," I answered. "They didn't put all three at all. Nor do these Cylons know whom they are. One is a full sleeper agent and the other two, well..." I took in a breath. "I've been meaning to talk to you about that, actually. Because they go into the origin of the Cylon shift into organic bodies. And they have a... very important link to the history of your people. One I should let them explain."
"Who are they?", Adama asked.
I leaned forward. "I will tell you if you let me gather them. They need to be told together. It might be best if you are present. And one of the Cylons."
Adama considered that for a few moments. "Very well," he finally said. "I agree."
So I told him.
My day was not yet over, and another trying moment had come.
"I'm not a frakking Cylon!"
Galen Tyrol's protest was nearly as loud as Saul Tigh's initial outburst. His wife Ellen was at his side, showing her own disbelief. Pyramid player Samuel Anders had his head in his hands. Tory Foster looked... completely lost.
"You are the Five," the Three Model that Cain had shot insisted. She was bandaged up and recovering. She had also insisted on attending. "You're our creators."
"Bill, this is insane!", Tigh protested to his old friend.
"Well, I could do detailed scans to discover the signs of silicates and such in your bodies that confirm what you are," I remarked, walking over by the TARDIS. "Is the safer route. Or I could remove the blocks One put in your heads. At least partially..."
"You aren't doing anything to my frakking head!", Galen shouted.
"....would you believe my scans any more than that?", I asked rhetorically. "Don't answer, you wouldn't. See, that's how good One's blocks are. He wanted you to experience being Human. And then to see Humanity destroyed by him. And somewhere along the way you would see he was right... somehow." My face curled in confusion. "Wasn't a very rational cyborg, was he?"
"Saul, I've seen the evidence," Adama said calmly. "The Doctor and this Cylon aren't lying."
"But I can't be a Cylon! I remember my whole life!", Tory shouted.
"Memories aren't all they're chalked up to be," I remarked. "Take it from someone who knows."
"Doctor, you should remove the block," Three said. "It's the only way."
"Now now, Lucy. Wouldn't want to drive the Five insane, would we? All of that memory coming surging back... it might be too much."
"Bill, come on," Ellen pleaded. "You can't..."
"President Adar's already been told," Adama revealed. "Just him and a few key staff members. They've agreed to keep it private for now. But sooner or later you will need to accept what this is. Saul..." He went up to his friend and looked him straight in the eye. "This doesn't change anything. As far as I'm concerned, you're Saul Tigh, the man I've known for years. The man I know as my friend."
Tigh blinked and turned away, rubbing at his head.
"So... let me... okay, what is this again?" Anders raised a hand. "You're saying the five of us are the amnesiac founders of the Cylons?"
"No. You're actually from..." I glanced toward Adama, who knew and still wasn't convinced. "...going by the data the other Cylons remembered after the blocks were removed, you are all from Earth. The mythic Thirteenth Tribe of Kobol was actually made up of Cylons. Organic ones like Lucy over here." I indicated Three. "They founded their own civilization, and then much like yours they ended up facing an apocalyptic war with their own machine Cylons. It's... a cycle. Kobol, Earth, now here. And your society keeps replaying it, over and over. Until now, anyway."
"That's a load of crap!", Tyrol insisted.
"Doctor, remove their blocks!", Three shouted.
"I will do no such thing," I barked back. "They have to come into this on their own." I remained silent for a moment, seeing all of the eyes on me. My eyes widened as I realized I had an idea. "Right! I know what might work! Come along everyone!" I rushed to the TARDIS door.
"To where?", Three asked.
I looked back. "To Earth. Or rather... what's left of it."
We stepped out into the ruins of a city. "I've set the TARDIS environmental field to about five hundred meters," I explained. "Don't wander too far."
The Five stepped out, followed by Three and Adama. They took in the scene of destruction around them, wandering about and looking at the ruins. I looked around myself. Skeletal remains here, the broken remains of humanoid machines there.
Ellen was the first one. She looked around, her breathing picking up. "Oh Gods," she muttered. "Saul, I remember the light. I remember..."
"This is Earth?", Adama asked me.
"Yes. As much as I'd like to brag about it, I actually took the data from their dormant information on the Cylon Colony," I answered.
Now Anders doubled over, his eyes wide with recollection.
"This is what happened to the Thirteenth Tribe," I continued. "They were the Cylons of Kobol. Much like your own, they went out on their own. They became organic beings and kept mechanical ones as servants."
"And then the mechanical Cylons revolted," Adama said, filling it in.
"That blasted cycle," I muttered. "Not the first of its kind I've seen either."
"What happened to the other one?", Adama asked.
"An Artificial Intelligence made by an ancient race decided the only way to deal with the cycle was to reboot the galaxy ever fifty thousand years," I answered. "So it created giant machine ships called Reapers. And the cycles began... every fifty thousand years they came back into the Galaxy and culled the advanced races, breaking them down into DNA soup to form the core of new Reapers. For a billion years...."
"Until?", Three asked.
"Humanity," I answered. "Well, the other races too. But a Human stood to lead the galaxy against them. Commander Shepard. You'd like her, Adama, if you ever met. I helped a bit at the end, yes, but Shepard... now there is a cycle breaker. Even convinced the Quarians and Geth to reconcile, and their relationship was nearly the carbon copy of your own." I indicated Adama and Three.
By this point all of the Five were staring in horror around them. "I remember it," Tigh said blankly. "I remember...."
"Then remember this too," I said. "Remember this world and its fate. That goes for you two as well." I looked to Adama and Three. "I'll even give you the navigation data to send an expedition out, if you want to show the others. But you must remember. This could have been you." I waved an arm out at the devastation. "This could still be you if you don't shape up. Both of you."
Adama nodded. "Point taken, Doctor."
"Yes," Three agreed.
"Good. Now..." I motioned to the TARDIS. "I've had enough of this, let's get back to Galactica."
Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series
Posted: 2017-03-19 07:52am
I have this to say.
I don't think I've ever been so proud of Katherine.
She wouldn't be there for the official ceremony of course. Our existence had to be kept hush hush. The Colonies didn't know who I was. And Adar wasn't keen to tell them. Nor were the Cylons, who gravitated between admiration and terror of me.
She was there for the private signing though, in the Galactica Starboard Landing Pod. So was I. Adar and the Three in charge of the talks signed the official peace. The Cylons were already preparing to rebuild Armistice Station, now "Council Station". It would be bigger. Larger. Large enough for tens of thousands of residents, Cylon and Human, and a permanent council to deal with disputes.
....and yes, it bore a passing resemblance to Babylon-5. They asked me for ideas, you see.
And guess where they intended to put Galactica now that her honored service was over? Oh yes. The old lady was getting her proper reward. Not just a museum to war, but an icon of peace between Human and Cylon. I may have undone the great role she would have played if the Cylon attack had prevailed, but I think this was proper compensation.
Katherine stood at the head of the table, shining like a jewel. There were bags under her eyes. She looked exhausted. But happy, oh so very happy. She'd earned it.
Katherine, my Katherine the Peacemaker. I may have stopped the Cylons and Cain, I may have woken up the Final Five... but Katherine was the one who actually created the peace.
I said so when the official signing was over and she walked up to me. "They should build a statue of you at least," i muttered. "Just call it the Grand Peacemaker."
"I don't need statues," Katherine insisted. "Lord knows I'll get plenty back in the Commonwealth.
"Yeah... but those won't have half the meaning of this one," I pointed out.
"Flatterer," Katherine retorted, smiling. She looked out on the table. "They have Admiral Cain here?"
"Yes. Final day of active service," I said, indicating Helena Cain. She was in full uniform, seated with Colonial officers at the side of the viewing area. "Retiring to Tauron, I hear."
"What do you think will happen to her?"
"Not sure," I admitted. "Maybe wounds will heal." My eyes scanned over to the Cylon side of the gallery. Given there were only six types of Models now.... okay, technically seven, but since all of the Cavils were pretty much in agreement with one another they were all facing the gallows or the airlock..... well, it looked like repetition. One of the Sixes in a wheelchair was obviously Gina Inviere. She kept glancing over toward Cain.
Odd little world. Without me, she would have had the chance to shoot Cain and refused, just to do so after months of savage, inhuman abuse at the hands of Cain's crew and under her order. Ultimately her fate would have been suicide.
Now... they would both be alive.
And as I have known... with life there is hope.
"There's still a lot of animosity," Katherine noted. I had to agree. There were very few smiles on faces in the landing pod. "I hope this peace holds."
"Peace builds its own inertia over time. The people you hated yesterday can become acceptable neighbors tomorrow. Well, next year maybe."
Katherine nodded. "I wonder if the Inner Sphere can ever manage this."
"Perhaps." I smiled thinly. "Maybe you should consider this practice, eh?"
Katherine giggled at that. "Really? I suppose... yes, maybe it was." Her blue eyes glistened. "Maybe that will be my legacy. I will build bridges in the Inner Sphere. All because of you."
I nodded in reply. It was all I could do.
"Speaking of home..." Katherine winked. "So much for a short trip, Doctor."
"Oh yes, indeed," I agreed. "I suppose that with this done I should be getting you back to that banquet, eh?"
"But only after I sleep," Katherine insisted. "And I have a shower."
The TARDIS was quiet. Not bad quiet, good quiet. Katherine was catching up on her sleep. I had napped... but I am a Time Lord and three hours of sleep is a good rest. So I was just checking our fuel levels and doing other little chores in the TARDIS.
There was a beep coming over the communications system. I went up and examined it. Hrm. The Cylon Colony ship. A set of internal coordinates with a schematic. I wondered what this was about...?
It took seconds to shift the TARDIS to the coordinates. I stepped out into a room that was brimming with red lights. In the center of the room was a tub of sorts, filled with white fluid, and wires leading in and out of it. A human figure was in the fluid, mostly submerged, but with her head poking out. She had a glassy eyed stare. "You?", I asked.
"The Lord of Time is victorious. Victorious is the Lord of Time. The cycle lays broken. There is no burning. God's judgement is passed; love trumps death."
I listened to it. I wondered what went on this creature's head. With curiosity I stepped up and reached a hand into the fluid.
I was barraged with images. The thoughts of the hybrid, its dreams, its alien mind... I honestly do not think any written description could do them justice. I felt solar wind and saw atoms spin and... such beauty. Such terrible beauty.
I jerked my hand out. It was hard to believe that the images I saw came from a half second of contact.
"The Lord of Time marches on. Victories and triumphs. Victories and triumphs are his. What shall his path be?"
"Nice to meet you too," i said, smiling amiably. "I think I need to go have a lie down, however." With my head still reeling from the images from my brief link with the Hybrid, I started walking back to the TARDIS.
As I got to the door, I heard a gasp. I looked back to the Hybrid. It seemed to shudder. "Triumph. The Lord of Time is triumphant. Forever triumphant. Time Lord Triumphant!"
I blinked. Cami had once used that term, during Shepard's victory celebration after the end of the Reapers. She had called me that. Said that I looked like a "Time Lord Triumphant".....
"Time Lord Triumphant! Is it God's path? What lies in the future? Time Lord Triumphant!"
"What do you mean?", I asked, my voice low.
"The future lies clear! Time Lord Triumphant! The future lies near! The Time Lord Triumphant!"
I stared for a moment to see if anything else was said. But the Hybrid went silent. I stepped back into the TARDIS.
And as I closed the door, I heard it murmur quietly.
"Woe woe woe. The Time Lord Triumphant will come. The Time Lord Triumphant..."
"Poor mad thing," I muttered as I walked to the TARDIS central control.
Now, I only wish it had just been mad.
We had done all we could. It was time to go.
I decided to depart from Galactica. The Tighs and Tyrol were no longer on the ship. They would spend time with Anders and Foster trying to get a handle on their restored memories. This left Adama to see his ship through to its final decommissioning. In time, she would be taken to the new station to be a museum, not just to war but to peace.
He stood near the door of the TARDIS with a few of his officers - I spotted Gaeta in the crowd - and exchanged pleasantries with Katherine. She was in a plain gown at the moment, ready to change into her dress gown when we were done.
Once she stepped into the TARDIS Adama looked to me. "Doctor." He nodded.
"Commander," I answered. "Good luck with your future endeavors."
"Thank you. For everything." Adama offered me his hand. "I would hate to see how this would have ended without you."
I accepted his hand. "I suspect, sir, you would have done everything you could for your people."
After our handshake I turned to enter the TARDIS. I stopped after I opened the door and turned back. "Do yourself a favor, Commander. Go talk to your son. You're a good man and know where pride must give way. Don't let it get between you and your family."
Adama nodded slightly. "I'll take that in mind, Doctor. As much as I'm not a believer..." He smiled slightly. "May the Gods watch over you on your travels."
"And may they watch over you and your people, Commander," I answered. After that I stepped into the TARDIS.
About ten minutes and one shift later, to a small temporal disturbance to fuel up a bit, I was in the TARDIS control room's underside going through assorted gadgets. I pushed a chair out of the way and went into the rubbage of wires and geegaws and gadgets that were in one corner.
I looked up, hearing Katherine's voice on the upper deck. "Coming!" I put a few things back and went up the stairs two at a time. Katherine was... stunning in the dress. Really. Completely lovely, more than her mother had been at her age I was sure. Her left shoulder and arm was left bare by the dress with one strap of it over the right shoulder. It followed her shape down to her waist, where it became a flowing dress. "Ah, ready to break more hearts eh?", I asked. I stepped up toward the controls.
She smiled and blushed. "People enjoy seeing me dress as my mother does. It makes them happy."
"I'll bet it does, especially on Tharkad." I put my hands on her arms. "In case i haven't said it yet.... you are brilliant, my dear. Negotiating that peace agreement, eh? Top stuff. Your mother will be proud."
"I certainly hope so." Katherine gave me a hug. Not a big one, since she didn't want to wrinkle her dress or such. "What will happen to the machine Cylons? Will they be freed?"
"Between the Five remembering how their world ended up and Three seeing the result of it? I imagine so, yes," I answered. "It will be interesting to go back there a few years later, won't it? See how they're doing. And find out whatever happened to Doctor Baltar. He probably had quite a few nasty questions waiting for him..." I started manipulating the controls. "So, the following day, as promised. I'll materialize us near the podium. Or on a stage?"
"It's a reception hall, not an auditorium," Katherine pointed out.
"Ah, reception hall, of course." I hit a few buttons and moved a dial. "Setting time-space coordinates. That new library, right?"
"Very good thing, libraries. You know how I love a good book." I did a final adjustment and pulled back the activation lever. The TARDIS VWORP VWORP VWORP was always a welcome sound and, on the other end, something of a sensation I suspected. I walked around the controls and escorted Katherine to the door. When I opened it for her applause came from outside. In the reception hall numerous dignitaries were gathered and seated at the tables. Melissa had been walking up to the podium at that point, now vacated by Morgan Kell. Instead she went to greet her daughter. Melissa looked toward me and nodded. I nodded bad, smiled, and executed a quick bow before returning to the TARDIS.
It was more magical that way. I liked keeping things mysterious.
I shut the TARDIS door and went to the controls to shift out. I wasn't sure where I was going to go next. Somewhere to unwind a bit, perhaps, before coming back for Katherine. As I thought about that I sighed. Katherine was thinking about the peace initiative idea seriously. And if she was doing that, she couldn't be running around all of Creation with a crazy madman in a box.
I smiled despite the thought of being alone again. My Katherine, my dear Katherine, would become so much more in this new timeline. She would earn statues, all right. Let Victor be the soldier-king if he wanted, let him keep the Clans at bay, Katherine would be the one to use what she's learned on our travels to turn this Inner Sphere around and make it a little nicer....
Just look at her out there, standing beside her mother. I kept that mental image in my head as I worked on setting the TARDIS for a new destination. Katherine smiling beside her beautiful mother, the two looking radiant in their dresses before the crowd, taking in the gentle scent of those mycosia flowers....
At that point my thoughts stopped. Something about that image tickled my brain.
"Mycosias," I murmured to myself. What was in my head about those?
My hearts nearly stopped.
My eyes widened.
"Mycosias," I breathed.
Horror was threatening to choke me as I whirled about on my heel. "Katherine! Katherine, come back!," I shouted in desperation as I rushed to the TARDIS door. "Katherine!"
I put my hand on the handle to pull the door open.
The TARDIS shook under me as it was struck by the blast wave of a terrible explosion. I was thrown off my feet and landed back on the walkway. The world spun for a moment as I forced myself back to my feet and opened the door.
Fires still burned on curtains and tablecloth. The smell of death hung in the air with charred bodies and body parts covering nearly half of the reception hall up to the podium. Or at least, where the podium had been. Now it was... simply gone. The charred remains of a body were laid out against the broken screen that had been behind the podium. A single man was over Melissa's... remnants. Morgan Kell, now missing one hand. Seeing him gave me hope as he had been in the blast radius too. Maybe...
I found Katherine's seat. There was... enough of the dress left for me to know she had been in it. I ran up anyway even if, in my mind, I knew there was nothing I could do. Nothing. The sonic screwdriver's scans confirmed all of the damage that had been done.
I would give anything to forget seeing what was left of Katherine's body. Her face was....
Her right eye was intact. The dress had been enough, but to look into that lifeless eye and remember how they had just been sparkling with life.... it told me all hope was lost. Her body was too damaged to be recovered. No Goa'uld sarcophagus, no Cerberus Lazarus Project, could bring her back.
"Katherine," I said, forcing myself to breathe. Forcing my hearts to beat. "Oh Katherine..." Tears were already running down my eyes.
I had changed history. Twenty years in this world's past I had looked into a pair of small blue eyes, into the face of an adorable little girl fated to grow into a monster, and heard her say the magic words: "Can I ride in your magic box?"
"Only good girls get to ride the TARDIS," I had answered. I promised her that if she was good, I would take her in it.
And she had been. And so I kept the promise. I took her to Arendelle and Disneyplanet and Equestria and the Discworld and Republic City... and she had grown up and became everything I could ask for in a Companion. She had marveled at stellar nurseries, watched galaxies form, beheld alien life forms beyond anything she might have dreamed, and had never once gave me cause to regret my choice. Katherine had been so clever, so quick, so compassionate, so... so...
And like that, it was gone. All gone. Not a day ago she was helping to break the cycle of violence and hate between Human and Cylon. She had come back home with dreams about expanding that to this cosmos, to the Inner Sphere she had called home. To bring peace to all of the people of the Inner Sphere.
Instead, the Inner Sphere had killed her.
I almost laughed at the terrible irony of it all. I had changed her fate. Katrina Steiner-Davion never came about. That meant she had never plotted with Ryan Steiner. It meant she had not participated in this bomb plot.
Because of me, Katherine went from being behind the bomb to being one of its victims.
"Katherine, I'm sorry," I said, blinking as my eyes filled with tears. I used my fingers to gently close her surviving eye. "I'm so sorry." I couldn't stop the tears from flowing down my cheeks. I was in too much pain. To lose her like this. Not to monsters, not like I lost Jan and Cami... no, I had lost her because of her own bloody home cosmos. I had lost her to the machinations and schemes of so-called 'nobility', so-called 'leaders'....
....I had lost her to men like Ryan Steiner.
The bombing was the same. I knew it had to be the same plot. He had found some other way to pay the assassin when Katherine didn't join him.
As I thought about that man and the assassin he had employed, that bloody-handed butcher who had just murdered Katherine and dozens of innocent people to take out one woman, my tears stopped flowing. The pain in my hearts numbed.
They numbed from the ice-cold fury that now gripped me.
I said nothing as I stood up. Security personnel were already filtering into the room. I ignored their shouting, I ignored everything else in the room. I slammed the TARDIS door behind me, locked it, and went to the controls to shift it away. I ignored everything else around me. My suit, stained with Katherine's blood. The bruise from being knocked over. Nothing else mattered. My pain, my grief, were buried under the ice of my fury.
I had never felt that angry before. I don't think I have ever felt the same since. Fury crowded out every other thought that wasn't linked to one thing and one thing only: Katherine's death.
I would find her killers. And I would have... justice?
It would be so much nicer if I called it justice, but it would also be dishonest.
As I pulled back the TARDIS activation lever I thought of my targets and what I would do to them: Ryan Steiner and the many-named, many-faced assassin who, in another timeline, would have become known as the Dancing Joker.
Oh, I thought of those men and what they had done.
Ryan Steiner, the power-hungry cousin of Katherine who would stoop to any measure necessary to seize the throne for himself.
The "professional" assassin who, by his indiscriminate methods, proved there was no honor in that title.
And together, they had created dozens of victims in the pursuit of power.
Together, they had killed Katherine, my brilliant Companion.
And I would have them.
And now, dear reader, I ask one thing of you.
I ask you to think about these men as well. These murderers. The callous assassin and the power-hungry schemer. These detestable, disgusting men.
But I do not ask for your fury. I do not ask for your disgust or for your hate.
There is only one feeling I ask you to have towards these men.
Pity them, dear reader. Please, feel pity for them both.
Because I would have NONE.
Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series
Posted: 2017-03-20 11:21am
Short 23 - The Fury of the Time Lord
The TARDIS was quiet. The still, hollow quiet of a lifeless ship.
Even I could barely be described as alive.
Oh, my hearts beat. Synapses fired and neurons passed electrical pulses on and lungs inhaled and exhaled. But that was just mechanics. Life is more than that.
All I had was the cold fury.
I stood alone in the TARDIS, surrounded by the beginnings of a distant galaxy billions of years before organic life came to be in this cosmos. All alone in the dark, in the cold of the early universe, with the youngest stars just starting to burn. Alone with just the ice that had taken root in my very hearts.
The TARDIS displayed data for me. The bomb that had murdered Katherine and many others had been detonated by remote. A cellular signal to a receiver in the pot. A signal my TARDIS easily plucked out of the ether from all the others.
The tracing was finished. I knew where I was going next.
The assassin was very good at pretending to be other people. He had turned himself into the persona of a sad loner, made bitter by a mother suffering form dementia and placed in a lower tier health facility supported by government funds. The perfect stereotype of the "lone nut" type of political assassin.
After the bombing, he swapped covers when going to a DropShip to take him out of the system. He would swap them again in later systems, in what would be a futile effort to stay out of the grasp of the state security apparatus.
He never expected something like me. How could he? I was an urban legend in the Inner Sphere, a figure of story and myth more than reality, a dashing mystery agent of the Commonwealth charged with Katherine's protection. Even my TARDIS had been given a dozen wrong explanations to what it actually was, some of them hilarious.
Well, hilarious before. I... wasn't in a mood for hilarity.
I didn't knock on the door of the cabin on his DropShip. My sonic granted me instant admittance. The assassin was seated by himself, reading. Staying completely in character.
To a point, anyway. As the door opened he turned toward me and I saw the pistol come up from the hiding place at his back. My sonic disruptor came up and absorbed the shots; flechette shots from a needle gun.
Seeing his shots hit blue energy and collapse harmlessly, the assassin backed up toward the other side of his room. His eyes narrowed. Ah yes, he was searching for a weakness. Something in the environment to throw me off track, to buy him a chance to escape. He looked over at the port looking out into space and stepped back further. Yes, bracing himself... catch me by surprise and get around me as I was drawn toward the hull breach. Supremely risky, but potentially effective.
I caught him just as he swung the gun over. A setting four blast, strong enough to send him flying into the counter-top of his furnished stateroom. He had the wits to keep his gun on him. It started to come up again. I switched to Setting 21 and got a horrible scream as my answer. The sonic disruptor's effects struck his brain directly, incapacitating him with minimal neural damage. I didn't want him to become a vegetable, after all. That would be far too easy.
He tried to direct the gun toward me. A shot went to my right. But the pain was too much. He dropped the gun before he could fire a second time.
As I disabled him, I had no words. No banter. No jokes or off-putting remarks, nothing like I usually did. I couldn't even fathom such, not with the cold fury I felt.
Once he was unconscious, I picked him up and carried him into the TARDIS.
Ryan Steiner was sitting in his study reading a book when I stepped out of the shadows. "I was wondering when you would come," Ryan mused quietly. "The Doctor, correct?"
I said nothing.
"I didn't intend for Katherine to be taken by the blast, you know. She was of more use to me alive, as a weapon against Victor. She had potential. It was a shame she had to die too."
I answered him with furious silence.
"The Davions will lead us to ruin," Ryan insisted. "I am the remaining hope for my nation!"
"Who are you to judge me?!", Ryan thundered.
"You're not just another hireling of Hanse Davion. You're something more." When I gave him no answer Ryan sighed. "Then we don't talk."
I noticed the slight movement. He was hitting buttons under his desk. Two wardrobes opened and revealed automated machine gun turrets that swiveled toward me. They fired and struck the shield generated by my sonic disruptor.
Seconds later, armed men burst through the main door and opened fire as well.
And all the while, Ryan Steiner fled.
He fled through a door in the side of the room, hidden from plain sight. He went through the secret passage that went straight down to his private hanger. He pulled on a flight vest and climbed into an aerospace fighter. Years of training kicked in across decades of retirement, readying him to fly as he taxied out of the hanger. His fighter picked up speed and he brought the nose up to get it in the air. His palatial residence grew smaller by the second as he hit his afterburners.
At which point it exploded.
At this point, Ryan undoubtedly felt tense relief. He was alive. He was reasonably certain I wasn't, that his weapons and his armed men had kept me pinned down long enough for the bombs to get me.
It was probably a few moments later that his displays went haywire.
i can imagine it. The hoarse pleas, the cussing, the words every pilot uses as their instruments fail and they lose control of their aircraft. It spun around to an upside down position and moved directly toward a mountainside. Ryan fought to get control back. Almost too long.
And then, on its own, the ejection system triggered. He was thrown from his craft, just before he reached the point of no return. As his ejection module descended to the ground below, his craft plowed into the mountain and created a massive explosion of flame and plasma.
He hit the ground roughly given the speed he was still traveling at, grumbling and crying out in some pain. After several moments he tried to pick himself up, seeing the grass below him tinted with the red of the flames from his destroyed craft. The flames illuminated the area around him in a terrible crimson glow.
A shadow fell over him.
Ryan Steiner looked up...
...and he saw my face.
I was waiting when Ryan Steiner awoke. He was not manacled. He was not bound. When he moved, a forceshield stopped him. He looked around; he was in the TARDIS door's walkway, just a foot from the door itself. A tight force cube kept him pinned to the door's entryway ramp. "Where... where am I?"
I did not immediately answer. I flipped a couple of switches instead.
"Where have you taken me?!", he demanded.
I answered by snapping my fingers.
The TARDIS door opened and he turned to look out. He gasped.
Outside was a stone wall of sorts. Not just an stone wall, but one that seemed to stretch to infinity in all directions.
And it seemed to be made of people.
Humanoid, not-humanoid, with spiked or pointed heads or gigantic bodies, they were all splayed against the wall, their mouths stuck open in mute screams, expressions of disbelief or anger or terror on their faces.
Ryan stumbled back until he hit the force shield. He spun around and faced me. "What... what is this?"
"The Source Wall," I answered, my voice flat and low. "An eternal prison of beings locked in stone for grasping at power they could not have."
"You... you're going to space me?", Ryan asked.
"No. You won't die. You'll be part of the Wall."
I reached for the TARDIS atmosphere control.
Ryan's face went white. He still couldn't grasp the enormity of the punishment I was inflicting upon him. But he could see something of the scope. "No... no please, Doctor.... I have a wife! I have a son!"
I didn't answer as my hand punched a command in on the atmosphere control.
"I'll give you anything! Anything you want!" Ryan fell to his knees. "Please Doctor! Show mercy!"
I replied by pressing the control one last time.
In that instant I released the pressure seal over the TARDIS entrance. The atmosphere of the cubical, energy-shaped cell Ryan was trapped in was sucked out into space. The de-pressurization was powerful enough that it dragged him along for the ride. He tried to scream, a faint, "Noooo!" that barely had enough air to travel through. Panicked tears came from his face and became droplets in space.
The speed of his depressurization was sufficient that he didn't have time to really suffer in the vacuum before he slammed into the Source Wall. His hands and feet became stone. The Wall claimed him, the transition of flesh and clothing to stone seeming to speed up as it moved up his limbs and to his torso... and then his neck and the head above. Ryan Steiner's face was locked into an expression of terror at his fate.
And that was how he would forever remain.
I could have thrown the assassin in with Ryan. I briefly considered it.
But I had another outcome in mind.
Some preliminary work was required. A message was sent by proper channels. And so I visited an expansive warehouse freezer once... and then returned the next day. I had my purple parka and heavy winter clothing on for comfort. I stood just in front of the TARDIS door as I waited. The cold of the freezer seemed no worse than the cold within me, the fury that had not been sated.
A burst of light appeared before me. Forms emerged. Monstrous things, brutal and powerful, dressed both crudely and with livery of blue and pale green. Behind them came more elaborately dressed figures, pale humanoids of exquisite beauty and appearance. A black feline stepped through, his golden eyes regarding me with a combination of caution and condescension. He took his place to one side of the portal.
The final figure to emerge was dressed in a stunning ice blue gown. She was beautiful beyond words. Her green eyes, as sharp as a feline's, looked at me intently. A small smile came to her lips at the intriguing circumstances of our reunion. For we had met once before.
For she was Mab, the Queen of Air and Darkness. Mab, Ruler of the Unseelie Fae. Mab, the Queen of the Winter Court.
I bowed respectfully. "I thank you, Your Majesty, for agreeing to this meeting."
"Your message intrigued me, Doctor," Mab answered, through the growling feline voice of the giant malk by her side. Undoubtedly it was Cait Sith himself. "My, how you've changed in such a short time. Or not so short for you, I imagine."
"Your Majesty's observations flatter me," I answered. "I wished, Your Majesty, to personally present to you a gift, free of any and all obligation or debt, as a gesture of respect."
"And what would this gift be, Doctor?"
"A demonstration, Your Majesty?" I bent slightly to a pile of crates and carefully to pick up a flower pot I had left the previous night. The flower in the pot was the same green as Mab's eyes and was covered in ice and frost.
"A frozen flower, Doctor? Such a horrible way to kill such a delicate thing," Mab cooed.
"If Your Majesty would deign to clear the ice and frost from the leaves and pedals?"
One of Mab's Sidhe retainers accepted the flowerpot from my hands and took it to her Queen. Mab's fingers ran over the flower and cleared away the ice and frost. Intrigue came to her face as her fingers now touched the flower directly. She brought it up to her nose and took a breath. Curious surprise flashed across her features. "The flower still lives?"
"Yes, Your Majesty," I answered. "It is called a mycosia. It is a special breed that can survive freezing. Indeed, freezing invigorates it, it feeds it."
There was a small susurration from the assembled Sidhe, who stared at the flower in wonder. I showed no reaction to it while I was not in the least surprised. The beauty of the flower mattered little, for that was the province of the Summer Court. What interested the Sidhe of Winter was that this beautiful flower could survive the harsh cold of Winter. That was the draw that made the flower interesting, that made it something of value to Winter.
I presented a box next, out of a small pile. "There are enough seeds in these containers, Your Majesty, to begin a garden made of this flower, in all of the colors of Winter, for the delectation of you and your Court."
There was more murmuring from the assembled. It hushed as Mab's hand came up gently. "A handsome gift indeed, Doctor," Mab said. "I regret that my Court's skills do not extend to growing and tending such a garden."
I nodded and a smile crossed my face. "I anticipated such, Your Majesty. And I have a solution."
I opened the TARDIS and reached inside. The assassin struggled against his bonds and shivered as I pulled him into the cold and brought him to his knees before Mab. The Sidhe all looked at him as he gazed at them and shivered more, and not just from the bitter cold. Undoubtedly he had long prepared himself to face the ISF or the Maskirovka or ComStar ROM, any number of brutal agencies he would have potentially crossed in his career.
But nothing in his experience could prepare him for rawheads and trolls and the other monstrous members of the Winter Court. All he could do was gape in terror.
"This man has proven an adept florist," I said, my smile remaining and definitely gaining an edge. "I have a claim on his life for his crimes. As part of my gift, I would grant you his service to grow your garden in Arctis Tor, indeed, in any stronghold of Winter that you deem worthy of sharing your gift with."
"There are many places in Winter that would welcome such wonderful flowers, Doctor," Mab pointed out. "It could take many, many years to establish proper gardens for all of my vassals."
"He will live long enough to finish his task," I promised, and I was not lying. I had injected him with the best prolong treatments I knew of. Aging would be well into the assassin's future.
"And what has this man done to you, Doctor?", Mab asked pointedly. "What has he done to justify placing him in servitude to Winter?"
My smile faded. "He is an assassin, Your Majesty. And in the course of his work, he murdered my Companion Katherine."
I didn't bother to bring up how many he killed. Winter wouldn't care about that. But the death of Katherine was different. To the feudal sensibilities of the Sidhe, he had killed my retainer, my ward, an act for which I was justly due to inflict savage retribution on him.
"And you would make him grow flowers for me as his punishment for this?" Mab's smile grew as she put two and two together. "Tell me, Doctor, how did he accomplish this murder?"
"He adopted the cover of a florist, made a bomb out of a flowerpot, and filled it with mycosias," I answered plainly.
That was answered by rich laughter. The laughter started with Mab through Cait Sith and rippled across the Winter Sidhe, a laughter of deep amusement and malicious appreciation.
"How wonderful!", Mab proclaimed, her demeanor turning to giddy amusement with the rest of her retainers. "Doctor, I would be most pleased to accept this gift in its entirety."
"Your Majesty's acceptance fills me with glee," I replied formally.
Mab motioned to a monstrous troll. "Be gentle, he is a Human after all." Her feline eyes twinkled as she looked to me. "The only one present, in fact."
I did not answer that.
The assassin had been mute with terror up to this point. But when the troll grabbed him and lifted him up he started screaming. "No! No! Doctor! I'll do anything! Anything you want! Just don't let them take me! Please!"
I turned my head and ignored him.
"Hush now," Mab said to him as the troll carried him toward the Way. When the assassin continued to scream and plead she shook her head in bemusement. "I shall have to discipline him. Within limits, I assure you."
"I trust Your Majesty's judgement in that matter." This meant she couldn't kill him or destroy him; he was still technically my bondsman, on loan to her for service as part of a gift.
And the last thing I wanted was for him to die any time soon.
Of course, there were other methods of discipline Mab could easily use that would keep him alive and allow him to accomplish his goal... and which he would most certainly not enjoy.
"You can't do this to me! You... Doctor, you can't...!" The assassin's screams cut off as he was pulled into the Way. At Mab's motion retainers stepped forward to claim the boxes of seeds. They stepped through the Way next.
Mab remained behind with the others and looked at me as I went to step toward the TARDIS. "Doctor, my offer stands," she said.
I turned back to her. "Your offer to remove the block from my head," I stated, not questioning.
"Three favors. With the same due stipulations I mentioned the last time. That is all I ask."
"Your Majesty honors me with her proposal, but I must once again decline," I replied. "I have no interest in what has been taken."
"Really?" Mab looked at me with curiosity. "You do not wish to regain that which you lost? To remember the man that you were?"
I looked down for a moment, in thought. I considered the issue closely and realized the answer that was now in my hearts. "I do not know what I was before. Whether I was actually Human or Time Lord. But I do know one thing, Your Majesty."
"And that is?"
I actually smirked, damn me. "Whomever that man was, his life was too small." I bowed. "A pleasure to meet you again, Queen Mab. May fortune smile upon you."
"And upon you, Doctor." Mab's smile became one of bemusement. "I think I shall be greatly interested in where your path will now take you, Time Lord. As it stands, your sense of retribution has become remarkably like our own."
I only nodded in reply before stepping into the TARDIS. I looked back long enough to see Mab disappear into the Way. With a snap of my fingers the TARDIS doors closed. I slipped the lock into place and went to the controls.
A very restrained response indeed given what Mab had just done. It was... somewhat the point, the brutal and ironic justice I had just inflicted on the assassin.
The kind of justice that a Sidhe would mete out, indeed.
If I hadn't been in the state I was in at the time, I would have not been looking forward to Harry finding out.
The cold fury was subsiding. I had taken my... justice? Revenge? Whichever it was, I had it. The killing of Katherine and her mother had been properly dealt with.
Without the fury I felt... hollow. The feeling persisted as I shifted the TARDIS out.
And then, without warning, the tears came. The cold fury could no longer hold back my loss, my terrible grief.
And when I looked over to see the blue mycosia I had given Katherine on her fifth birthday, still in its home on the TARDIS on one of the shelves lining the control center wall... I fell to my knees weeping.
And for a long while, that was all I could do.
Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series
Posted: 2017-03-20 11:22am
Short 24 - In Memoriam
Time and grief have a way of warping one another, wrapping up the spirit, the mind, and distorting everything.
I'm not sure how long I grieved alone for Katherine. It could have been an hour, a day... maybe a week. The pain was just too sharp.
Time dulled it. I began considering things again. In particular, considering what I would do for her memory. My punishment of her killers was not something I would devote to that. Katherine deserved better.
And I knew where to start. Ryan Steiner may be trapped in the Source Wall, but his propaganda and political machines would still be active for a time. Katherine's memory would not be served by seeing her killers hurt the family she loved and the realm she had dutifully served despite her wishes.
I stepped out of the TARDIS and entered an office on a traveling DropShip. The Barbarossa, to be exact. A head of blond hair attached to a rather short body looked up. Blue eyes narrowed. "You were there," Prince Victor said. His voice was calm but I could hear the grief and anger behind it. "You were there and did nothing."
"I didn't know," I answered. "If I had, I would have stopped it."
Victor's eyes told me my answer wasn't good enough. "With all of your power, with that magic box of yours, you're telling me you didn't see this coming? Aren't you supposed to be a Goddamned time traveler?!"
"I didn't travel into your future. Not with Katherine," I answered. "I'm not here to argue. I came to help you. I can take you to Tharkad to be there for the funeral."
Victor looked at me intently for a moment. "So you can do that, but you can't go back in time and stop the bombing."
"The bombing is a part of my timestream now," I replied. "I can't fix it. It would create a paradox and destroy your entire cosmos."
At that point, I felt my fury surge and struggled to fight it down. Who was this little jumped up soldier to disrespect me over something he had no knowledge of? "You listen to me," I said, trying not to growl. "I don't care how smart you're supposed to be or how you beat the Kobayashi Maru or La Mancha or whatever it was called, when it comes to the Laws of Time you know nothing. If I could save Katherine and your mother, I would. All I can do now is stop you from ruining their legacy because your little soldier brain has trouble grasping how to deal with your people."
His face hardened as a response to my profound disrespect. I should have been more withdrawn, more understanding of his loss... but all I could hear was an over-important military type sounding like he was trying to dress me down. Me.
"You come into my office and insult me to my face hours after I find out about my mother and sister being blown to pieces," Victor replied, his own cold fury showing through his tone. "Give me a reason not to throw you out."
"How about what Ryan Steiner's propaganda machine is going to do to you if you miss their funeral?" I replied. "Or if you don't give them the same laying in state that your father received?"
"Let him, the people of the Commonwealth..."
"....the Lyran people are already upset that they took the brunt of the Clan attack, not your father's people. And even though you were raised on Tharkad, even though your German is impeccable Tharkadian German and your English thick with your German accent, they see you in your military uniform strutting about and they see you as your father's son, not your mother's. They see you as an out of touch prince enamored with his military post, his military authority. And already the tongues will be wagging, with Ryan and his agents spreading sweet lies about your impatience to take your mother's throne. And the more you deny it the more they'll believe it." I drew closer to him, emphasizing the rather expansive height difference between us. "Your sister repeatedly gave up happiness in order to fulfill her duties. I'm not letting all of that be in vain."
Victor stared at me for a long moment. When he looked away it was to reach for his intercom control. "Galen, please report to my office. Bring your things."
There was no wonder in our quick TARDIS journey to Tharkad. No proclamations of it being bigger on the inside from an astonished Galen. The VWORP of the engine was the only sound made.
I only remained long enough to see there was no problem. I left afterward. I chose to materialize the TARDIS a few days in the future, during the Tharkad capital's night. Victor and the authorities had chosen the Hall in the Estates-General for the laying in State. Commonwealth flags adorned both closed caskets with pictures of mother and daughter. Even at this late time of night there were other visitors as well as security, all looking at me in astonishment as I stepped away from the TARDIS and went to the coffins. I said my goodbyes to Melissa first; she had been a kind and decent woman, the ruler that her people deserved. Her trust had been heart-warming.
My hearts were tremoring when I got to Katherine's casket. I laid a hand on the fine wooden surfaced and looked at the photo, showing her open smile and her eyes full of life.
The loss was excruciating. I stood there for the moment trying to keep my composure. That brilliance, snuffed out forever. Nothing I had done to punish that loss could ever replace it.
At the back of my mind, a thought gnawed at me. That it was because of me that she was dead. That I had changed her fate, her destiny. It could be said, easily, that I did the right thing in doing that. That Katrina Steiner-Davion would have been the architect of civil war and mass suffering and that putting her on a different path made the Inner Sphere a better place.
And that had come with a price.
It wouldn't be the first time I learned the price of my actions.
But at the time... I could only think of one thing. Victor was right. I could have stopped it. I could have destroyed Ryan Steiner years ago. I could have done so many things to re-direct the course of history. And I had not, because it was not responsible for me to do so.
And what had responsibility gotten me now?
There was so much more I could change. More I should change. Lives that could be saved, that could be made better.
That was what being the Doctor was about, right? Helping people, healing them, making them better. And yet there was still so much wrong, so many wrongs not righted, so many lives left in pain and loss.
I could do more.
"I should do more," I murmured to myself. "If I had done more, you would still be alive..." I felt a tear come down my right cheek, breaking through my facade of quiet grief. "I hold back so much. I just run around. I should do more," I continued. My thoughts focused on the idea. I was a Time Lord. My mind was vast, my knowledge growing. I could do so many things with my potential.
I heard boots rap against the fine tile flooring of the hall. I turned and saw a single figure enter the hall, casting pained eyes toward the caskets. "Slinking in during the middle of the night?", Victor asked.
"I thought it best," I replied.
"My security people found the assassin," Victor said. "Funny thing is that he disappeared off his DropShip within a day of the bombing. And now I have reports that one of Ryan Steiner's main residences was destroyed in an explosion. Ryan's personal aircraft was found at a nearby crash site."
I said nothing to that.
"It was you, wasn't it?"
I briefly considered my options, to confirm or deny or neither. I decided for honesty. "Ryan Steiner and his assassin will never harm another being ever again."
Victor didn't seem surprised by the admission. "You took the law into your own hands."
"Come now, Victor, don't be naive," I scoffed. "Your law would never have touched Ryan. Not without touching off a civil war and sending him into some cushy exile with one of your enemies."
"You didn't have the right to make that decision for me," Victor retorted. "My mother and sister, my people, deserved justice! Real justice, not your fiat! You don't have the right to decide that kind of thing!"
I glowered at him and felt my fist clench. His bodyguards tensed up. I calculated how quickly I could disable the lot of them if I so chose. To sit here and be lectured like this, by someone I helped...!
Looking back, he was right. Ryan should have been outed publicly, punished publicly. The people deserved that. But I didn't think that way at the time. "Ryan would have fought you and you damn well know it. And then where would your precious Commonwealth be, eh? Oh, that's right, it'd be in a bit of a jam, wouldn't it? With the Clans breathing down your necks."
"I would have dealt with Ryan and the assassin appropriately."
"You mean you would have fumbled around, a little soldier boy trying to run his nation like it was a battalion, and Ryan would have run circles around you!" I pointed a finger at him. "Because that's the problem here, isn't it?! You're not cut out to lead these people! You're the reason Katherine kept coming back! She knew you couldn't hack it as ruler, you're too much the soldier giving orders! She'd be alive if you weren't a colossal failure!"
Victor's expression locked down into cold rage. I imagine I was turning purple as I lashed out. "Because of you, dear Prince, Katherine couldn't live the life she wanted! She had to choose this... this dreary, run down excuse for civilization you call the Inner Sphere over the greatest wonders of Creation! And all because you're not capable. And now... now she's gone! She came back here and your petty aristocratic squabbling killed her!"
"Get the hell out," Victor growled. "I don't care where you go, but get the Hell out of my realm! NOW!"
"I go where I please," I retorted. "Fortunately for you, with Katherine dead I have no desire to stay in this pathetic backwater, so I'll be going. Try not to burn the entire Commonwealth down before you make thirty." I turned toward the TARDIS, ready should Victor and his guards try anything.
Not just ready. Wanting them too. Damn my arrogance, I wanted an excuse to humiliate Victor. There of all places, in the presence of Melissa and Katherine's remains. I wanted to show this pathetic little "MechWarrior" what it meant to provoke a Time Lord, the power he was calling upon his head.
It would have given my frustration some outlet, at least.
But Victor didn't give me that satisfaction. He showed prudence that night, saying nothing as I stepped into the TARDIS and left.
Contrary to Victor's demand and my retort, I did return to the Commonwealth later. Twice. For good and for bad reasons.
On Tharkad, I visited Katherine's grave. Tears quietly moved down my cheeks as I knelt before the tombstone and worked quietly. There were none to disturb me as I did so, for which I was thankful. "Goodbye, my dear Katherine," I said quietly as my hearts twisted in pain. "I... there's so much I could say. I can't find the words to..." I drew in a breath and tried to control my pain. "You were brilliant, Katherine. You were so brilliant."
That was all I managed to say. I couldn't find any further words. All I could do was leave behind my gift to her. My first, now my last.
And so it was that the beautiful blue mycosia I had given Katherine on her fifth birthday came to be planted on her grave, where it has remained since.
Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series
Posted: 2017-03-20 11:22am
Short 25 - Moving On
I said before that I'd returned to the Federated Commonwealth twice after Prince Victor ever so kindly insisted I leave it. The first return was to visit Katherine's grave and leave her flower there.
Afterward I returned to the TARDIS and remained alone for a time. Alone with my thoughts, my pain, my frustration.
I was frustrated with many things. With my passivity, my caution, with the forces that had claimed my Companions in my travels, with so many things.
I had always been so worried about changing timelines. Acting only when it felt safe. Only when my caution let me. And because of this, I had let problems fester. I could have put Ryan Steiner down with contemptuous ease. I could have dismantled the Borg when the Collective first formed or at many points in their history. I did not do these things because I was trying to be a responsible time traveler.
And what had it gotten me?
No, I could do more. I could do so much more. I could help so many more people, put down so many horrors and evils... why didn't I? Because I thought I knew where a timeline "should" go? Hadn't I already changed some? I'd ensured Shepard's victory over the Reapers was total, hadn't I? I'd saved Homura Akemi from being corrupted by her twisted feelings of love and pain. I'd stopped the Cylon genocide of the Twelve Colonies.
Whatever I was before, this is what I had become: the Doctor. I healed people. I healed worlds.
Why wasn't I doing more?
I thus returned to the Federated Commonwealth. To the other end of it, actually, as I materialized the TARDIS on New Avalon; throne world of House Davion.
NAIS' medical center was teeming with activity, treating desperate medical cases from across the planet, indeed, across much of the Commonwealth. I had the psychic paper ready as I navigated the facility until I found what I was looking for in the pediatric wing.
Bodyguards halted my progress at one door momentarily. I remained quiet and gave off an air of contained annoyance as they went over the psychic paper's professed ID. "Sorry, Doctor, we haven't seen you before," one apologized, returning the psychic paper. "Please sign in."
"Right." I scribbled an alias. No, it was not John Smith.
It was John Smith-Stevens. Far more original.
Once I was inside I found a lush private suite for a child. Toys were everywhere and a holovid player was active with a cartoon of some sort. I walked up to the weak little boy in the bed. His head was bald from the chemotherapy that made up part of his treatments. His chart marked him as a minor nobleman's child, but I knew better. "Hello, Joshua," I said quietly.
Joshua Marik looked up from what would become his deathbed and fixed his eyes on me. "Who are you?"
"I'm the Doctor, dear lad." I ran the sonic screwdriver over him. "Coming to check up on you, get you back on your feet, and bring you back to your Dad."
And at that point, I pulled out the TARDIS remote.
So, yes, I took Joshua Marik from the NAIS. I did it to save his life. And I did it quietly and bluntly in a matter that would potentially ruin many lives... billions if something adverse were to happen.
That, of course, is with the advantage of hindsight. At the time, I was doing what I thought was right and, frankly, not giving a damn about Inner Sphere politics.
Several days later in my time stream, I materialized the TARDIS in Thomas Marik's study. Yes, the fake Thomas, but I like him more anyway, so there.
The door opened and Joshua, more fit than ever, rushed forward yelling, "Daddy!"
A scarred face turned in his chair and looked at us in shock. "Joshua?!" The Captain-General of the Free Worlds League was incredulous as his son jumped into his lap. He hugged the boy tightly. "How.... you've never looked...."
"The Doctor took me to see aliens, and the three-legged lady was nice, and the blob man, and the talking tree!" Joshua began to go on breathlessly, in that way excited children can, about Layom Station.
By that point Thomas was looking at me with happy astonishment. "So you're him," he said. "You're the Doctor."
"Yes," I answered simply.
"I've... I can't believe it. Did Prince Victor..."
"I'm sure your intelligence service has long pegged me as a Commonwealth man, sir, but that is not accurate," I answered. "I am a Time Lord. I answer to no authority save my own."
Thomas remained quiet for a moment. "So you took my son from NAIS without Victor's approval?" He drew in a breath when I nodded. "That was a very reckless thing. Now Victor has reason to fear I will stab him in the back."
"If I had not acted, Captain-General, your son would have died within two years," I replied. "And Victor would have tried to follow his father's plans for that eventuality. He would have hid Joshua's death from you and put an imposter in his place." I saw Thomas' expression darken at that. "Victor is inexperienced in the ways of statesmanship, you know that as well as I. Removing that temptation keeps the peace between your realms. Now you can focus on the Clans."
"I wonder..." Thomas stroked his son's head. Hair was only starting to return to Joshua' scalp at this point. "You have given me much to think about, Doctor. I agree with you on Victor's shortcomings. You have my gratitude for saving my son's life."
I nodded, accepting his thanks.
"But Doctor..." Thomas shook his head. "You have such power. And now you poison me against Prince Victor with what he might have done. Should you be speaking of such things? The knowledge and power you show is frightening in the implications of its use."
"Yes," I agreed. "And that is why I am cautious with my knowledge. However, you misunderstand my motives. I speak to you of Victor's short-comings so that you know what you're seeing is not outright malice. Whatever my... disagreements with him, I am not against him succeeding, and that means having your patience. I have removed the one object that would have made you strike at him."
"I see." For a time he was thoughtful. "Yes, I see your point." Thomas nodded quietly. He glanced down at his son and, for the first time, I saw tears in his eyes. The shock had given way; he was realizing that his son would live now. He would grow up and be happy. "Doctor, you have given me my son back. If you ever have need of my aid, ask and I will grant it."
"Your offer is appreciated, Captain-General. If I ever need to accept it, I assure you it will be for the right reasons." I nodded at him.
"And may I give you a piece of advice, Doctor?"
I gave Thomas another nod.
His voice turned very gentle. "I know how much Princess Katherine meant to you. You have my deepest condolences. Please, for the sake of Katherine's memory and yourself, don't let it drag you down. She would want you to move on, Doctor. For your own good."
My expression froze. I bit back any immediate angry response I felt like giving. "I appreciate the advice, Captain-General, I really do," I answered him. "But it is easier said than done. She was taken from me so soon, so early. I'll be feeling that loss for a long time."
"I never expected otherwise. But pain can twist us. It can make people do things they should not. Don't let it change what you are. A being with your power could become... terrible."
I had no reply to that. I simply returned to the TARDIS.
Once I was in the seclusion of my TARDIS and had her somewhere quiet, I found myself alone with my thoughts again. I chastised myself over how reckless I'd been, even as another voice pointed out that it was the right thing to do, Victor's wishes be damned.
After all, hadn't I just stopped the creation of the Chaos March? Thomas Marik would never be moved to seizing worlds from Victor and aiding Sun-Tzu Liao into doing the same. The collapse of government authority and the matching rise in Blakist power in the region would never happen now. There would be no terror on worlds like Zurich now.
And there was still so much I could do...
And yet, was it wise to do them? How much damage might I cause from thoughtless actions?
These questions, these problems, rumbled in my head.
At least until the message played.
Something on the TARDIS control panel lit up. I noticed it and looked up in time to see a holographic projection of Katherine. It looked to come from some time back, before our participation in the Fall of Guardia. "My dear Doctor." Katherine looked uncomfortable for a moment. "I'm sorry, I'm just trying to think of how to say this. Yes. My Doctor, if you are seeing this recording, something terrible happened. I don't know what it would be, but I do know it's caused me to stop traveling with you. I may even be dead. Oh, how macabre to be speaking of such."
I nodded in sad agreement.
"Whatever happened to me, Doctor, I don't want to blame yourself. I know how dangerous it can be out here. I came anyway. And..." Her image looked down. I thought I saw her tearing up. "I'm sorry, Doctor. I'm just scared for you. I know now why you always seemed to look the same when you came for my birthdays. I know why you always seemed so sad. You lost Jan and Cami. You were alone. And I don't want to have that happen to you again."
I felt a tear on my cheek. And yet a prickling sense of what was to come...
Katherine blinked back tears in the holo. "I thought of what I could do to keep you from ever suffering like that. And I realized that you already had the means. It would be a way to... to bring me back. In a matter of speaking."
My mouth opened. Already hope was welling up within me. I was considering what she meant...
....and then she confirmed it. Katherine's image held up a device I was rather familiar with. She held a key on it until the red light on the end became a blinking green light. "This was the scanner you talked about, the one you used to help bring back those girls in Mitakihara. Now you can use it to restore me as I am now. I don't know how to update it so I may be a bit younger than when I... left you. But now you won't have to be alone again. I'll be waiting for you, Doctor."
Her image winked out. Even before it did so, I was moving. I ran to the lower floor of the control chamber. The damaged quantum compiler I had used to bring mortal forms back to Madoka, Sayaka, and Nagisa was still in its corner. The quantum scanner was still in its port. I pulled it out and fumbled it in my hand out of excitement, desperate to see the light blink....
There was an active quantum signature in the scanner.
"Oh, you brilliant girl," I said, the tears in my eyes turning happy. "You brilliant girl!" I put the scanner back and rushed back up to the TARDIS control. I thought my hearts would explode with the sensation of hope swelling within them. My hands nearly tripped over themselves from my raw excitement as I began setting the TARDIS to a new destination. "Just you wait! I'll get you back, Katherine! We'll run again! We're going to run and run and keep on running!"
With hope in my hearts, I pulled back on the TARDIS activation lever.
It would take me time. It would be potentially dangerous. But I was going to rebuild my compiler.
I would bring Katherine back. And then everything would be alright.
Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series
Posted: 2017-03-21 12:12pm
Short 26 - Reckless Behavior
Hope can be a tempting little thing. Oh, don't get me wrong, it's got its good points, as my acquaintance Saint Walker can tell you. But sometimes it goes wrong. Hope can deceive you, tempt you, twist you.
It can make you become bloody reckless.
Just as it did to me.
I slid and dashed around a corner in the Gothic structure around me, a necessary component to my compiler tucked under my arm. A powerful energy blast blasted apart the wall I had just moved beside. Behind me a loud voice screamed, "In the name of the Emperor, kill the xeno!"
Ah, the Imperium of Man. Always a lovely vacation spot....
....okay, not really.
"You bloody maniacs are getting on my nerves!", I shouted.
Well, okay, I just stole a valuable piece of technology. At least valuable to me. It's not like these crazy buggers were using it.
One figure with larger shoulder pauldrons than his head confronted me down the corridor. "Death to xenos!", he screamed while leveling his weapon. The sharp metal sounds behind me told me that the fellows pursuing me were lining up shots as well. I scanned around me. No open doors. No cover.
I couldn't wield the sonic disruptor due to the part I had to carry. No setting 42 shield for me. All I had was my trusty sonic screwdriver. I triggered it at the fanatic ahead of me. Sparks erupted from his.... whatever it was, I don't bother keeping track of their bloody guns.
Undaunted, he pulled out a sword that looked like a chainsaw and charged at me. I charged as well and flexed to the side. A stinging pain sliced across my ribs from a near-hit, just enough to cut my suit and the tip of my flesh. I spun away and kept running.
I barely got to the next junction before weapons fire erupted behind me.
With the annoying pain on my lower chest I kept running on, ducking into side corridors whenever fire erupted behind me. I found stairs and ascended them. I could hear my pursuers coming up behind me. But I only needed a moment....
I got to the roof. I was home free, I just needed a....
The ground before me erupted in flame as heavy rounds stitched their way toward me. I jumped out of the way just in time, rolling to one side of the high arching structure. I stopped myself from rolling right off and scrambled to my feet in time to see another squad of troops having apparently beaten me to the roof. Bloody terrific.
So I kept running, trying to get to a ledge. I almost lost my grip on the device I was going through all of this trouble to snag as I fell over, avoiding more fire coming my way in the process. Luck had little to do with it at the moment; the Mechanicus probably wanted their little power stabilizer back in one piece. It was very rare technology from before that whole business with Horus. And I mean rare from even that era. Believe me, I tried to get a piece of it at that time. All I got for my troubles was a damaged TARDIS, a sprained ankle, and a hernia.
I scrambled to the end of the building. A look back told me I was surrounded. They were coming from all sides, their weapons raised. "Return the stabilizer and you will be given mercy!", one armored figure with a monocle-like piece on his head proclaimed.
"Oh come now, I know better than that. You lot don't do mercy," I retorted as I slipped my hand back into my pocket and changed out my sonic screwdriver for something else. "You don't even use this thing anyway. It's too delicate for your oversized guns and oversized engines. What is it with you lot anyway? Compensation?"
"If you return the device, you will die quickly," the mechanicus leader answered. "If you do not, well, the Inquisition will deal with you then."
"Oh, I'm shaking in my running shoes. Really," I answered blithely. I gripped the item in my free hand and sent a mental command through it. "I tried to be nice. I tried to offer you something of equal value! But noooo, you see that extra heart and it's all 'Death to the Xeno!' and such. One of these days I ought to hook up a text-to-speech device to the Golden Throne and see what your Emperor has to say about your lot's attitude these days..."
Bringing up the Emperor was like waving a red flag in front of a bull. One of the soldiers screeched, "Xeno scum! You'll die for that!"
They brought their weapons up. Indeed, they had an even better reason now, since they couldn't fail to hear the VWORP as the TARDIS materialized.
I jumped before they could fire. The TARDIS finished materializing a half second before I landed on the door after a twelve foot fall that knocked the wind out of my lungs. Gasping for air, my hand found the door handle and opened it. I fell into the TARDIS and face-planted on the walkway with the TARDIS' internal gravity taking over as I crossed the threshold. I snapped my fingers immediately and the doors shut behind me. Even as I tried to regain my breath, I scrambled to my feet and got to the TARDIS controls. The TARDIS door vibrated with weapons impacts as my hand found the activation lever and pulled.
VWORP VWORP VWORP.
By the second VWORP I collapsed and drew in several more breaths. I checked the cut in my suit and sighed. "Bloody Imperium," I grumbled. "I really need to stay away from that insane place." I held up the stabilizer. "But it's worth it." I looked up to where I had put Katherine's amethyst necklace. "One last step, dear. One last step."
It had taken time and lots of effort, but the quantum compiler was finally ready. All I needed was a power source.
A familiar-sounding voice sounded slightly irritated as it replied to my proposal. "So, let me see if I understand this?" Richard Woolsey, head of the Atlantis Expedition of Stargate Command, paced around his desk. `"You have knowledge of more ZPMs the Wraith took from the Asuran homeworld and you are willing to help us eliminate that threat in exchange for..."
"...for one of the ZPMs in question, yes," I replied.
"So what happened to that last one?" The smug tone could only come from Doctor Rodney McKay. "Wasted it on that ridiculous quantum compiler of your's?"
"Actually, it worked, McKay," I retorted, not bothering to look him in the eye. "It turns out there was a crystal I could use for the data translator."
"Oh really?" McKay's voice belied his skepticism.
"Don't make me get the citrus, McKay," I growled.
"Alright, enough, both of you." John Sheppard waved us both off. "How many ZPMs do they have?"
"Enough that when they hook them into a Hive ship, even your Asgard weapons won't be enough," I answered. "There has to be at least two. And I only want one."
Sheppard nodded at me and looked to Woolsey. "He's come through for us before. One ZPM is worth stopping the Wraith from becoming that dangerous."
Woolsey looked to be deep in thought for a moment. "I don't like it," he admitted. "It feels too reckless." He looked from me to Sheppard, locked in that familiar frown. "Colonel Sheppard, prepare your team and Major Lorne's. Doctor, do you have a Stargate coordinate for where this Hive is?"
"I've got something better," I reminded them.
Wraith soldiers screeched in rage before Ronon Dex's rather potent pistol barked out with energy, taking them out. Normally I have... issues with firearms, but I couldn't afford to be picky today.
At least it wasn't the size of those Imperium guns.
Behind us gunfire and energy fire roared. "Lorne's team is holding them off as best they can," Sheppard said, running up to join us with his spent firearm in his arm. "Any time, Doc."
"Right." I held up the sonic and sent out a pulse. The ship shook underneath us. "That should distract them. The emitters I left behind will fool them into thinking they have multiple intruders, not just us. It should buy Lorne some time." I brought the sonic up. "This way!"
The nine of us ran through the halls, Lorne's team in the rear and Sheppard's taking point. I pitched in with the sonic disruptor where necessary, cleaning up wounded Wraith and protecting their sides. With the sonic I guided us through the halls of the Wraith Hive ship. There were no living people left, simply corpses. At least in this sector of the ship, I should add. There were possibly other people aboard her, but that would take time to discover. Time we didn't have given the hundreds, indeed the thousands, of Wraith that could be aboard.
Teyla and Sheppard laid down fire as we entered the engineering section. Wraith soldiers toppled before getting shots off, leaving only full Wraith present. "You," one hissed.
"Hello again, my buggy little friends," I proclaimed sarcastically. "I'm afraid you're a rather naughty sort and can't be trusted with those lovely power sources." I gestured to the ZPM modules, glowing gold and stacked near an incomplete receiver for them. We had arrived just in time, it seemed.
The Wraith lunged and ran right into a Setting 4 blast that knocked them back. The guns of the rest of Sheppard's team fired and finished them off. I went to the pile of ZPMs. "Ah, here we are. Three. Not bad, eh? Two more for you lot."
McKay brought out the container cases he'd been carrying and began slipping them in. While he did so and while the others fought, I found a nearby control board and used the sonic on it, tearing through the Wraith computers as fast as I could get through their software and dealing with their usual counter-intrusion viruses in the process. "There we are." I held up the TARDIS remote triumphantly and summoned my TARDIS.
It didn't materialize.
I stared at the remote and tried again. Still nothing. "Oh, you buggers! You clever little buggers!" I went back to the controls. It seemed that after my prior run-ins with the Wraith, they had learned enough to set up their own quantum isolation field, but backed by salvaged Ancient-technology. Without someone in the TARDIS to open the Vortex Regulator I wouldn't be able to force the field down. That left going through their computers.
"Doc, any time!", Sheppard shouted over the rhythm of the gunfire. Ahead of him Lorne and his team fell back. "We've got a whole bunch of them coming."
"I'm working on it!", I shouted while going back to their computer interface. I started looking for their internal systems and the field generator they were using. "The Wraith haven't been using energy shields lately, have they?"
"Not that we've seen," McKay answered. "What? What's wrong?"
"Quantum isolation field. Looks like an Ancient power signature." I had to change connections as the Wraith counter-intrusion software took out one of my approaches. "It's keeping the TARDIS from getting out."
"Let me see..." McKay brought out his tablet and connected it to the Wraith systems. "What are you doing?"
"Turning it off remotely."
"No, that won't work."
"What, you have a better suggestion?", I asked heatedly.
"Of course I do. I need access to their power distribution."
I rolled my eyes. "Yes, because that will save so much time!"
"I don't see you coming up with any better ideas!", McKay shouted in reply.
"Hey!" Sheppard whistled. "Stop fighting and get us out of here, we're almost up to our necks in Wraith!"
I sucked in a breath. The truth was, McKay's idea was sound, if he had a good idea on where to shift the power. "Okay, I'm getting into their power distribution systems."
"Got it," McKay answered. "They're trying to boot me out. Can you...?"
"...I'm keeping the connection open." I kept my hands moving over the controls, tapping in commands and writing code to thwart the Wraith.
A slow rumble began to fill the ship. "Ha!"," McKay crowed. "There it goes!"
I held up my TARDIS control, very ready to mock McKay if it didn't work.
VWORP VWORP VWORP.
The TARDIS materialized in the middle of the room. "Good job," I conceded to him.
"I know," was his answer as he put up his tablet. "Alright, we need to go now!"
"Everyone into the blue box, now!", Sheppard yelled.
As Teyla fell back to the TARDIS the entire ship seemed to vibrate. "McKay, what did you do?", Ronon asked.
"Oh, I shunted the power into their hyperdrive. It's about... twenty seconds from overloading," he answered.
"Make that fifteen," I said, glancing at the screen. "Alright everyone, back into the TARDIS! Now! Come along, allons-y, tally ho!"
Lorne's team fell back next. Ronon entered ahead of McKay, leaving me and Sheppard. He began to fall back under protective fire from Lorne's men at the TARDIS door. I stood there, sonic disruptor up and force shield generated to absorb shots.
Sheppard got five steps away from the TARDIS and fell, crying out in pain as a Wraith blast got him in the hip. I dashed out of the TARDIS, sonic disruptor up, and held off fire with one arm while I used the other one to help Sheppard to his feet. "Thanks Doc," he rasped as I pulled him back into the TARDIS.
"Close the bloody door!", i shouted as I raced to the TARDIS control, keeping my feet despite the growing shuddering. I got to the TARDIS control and worked on resetting the coordinates.
"Three... two.... one!", McKay called out as I worked.
As he finished saying "One!" I pulled back the activation lever.
VWORP VWORP VWORP.
"Why do we always seem to get out at the last second?", Teyla asked.
"Drama, my lady," I answered. "Drama."
I saw the Atlantis personnel off with their two prize ZPMs and moved the TARDIS off to finish my work. My hearts pounded with anticipation, but I would not be pushed into haste. I had to do this right.
The ZPM was plugged in. Systems checks were done for.... an hour? Two hours? I forget how long. Every part was checked and triple checked and octuple checked. Everything was in ready order. Everything.
I moved the compiler to the space beneath the TARDIS control. "Here we go...." I whispered to myself. "It's time. It's time for me to fix things. Time to bring you back, my brilliant Companion."
Whatever moral or ethical issues there might have been about making a copy of a dead woman... I didn't care. I wasn't going to let that stop me. She had been taken unfairly. She had been taken too young. I was going to get her back. We still had a Multiverse to explore.
"Tally ho," I said to myself as I hit the switch.
The machine came to life. Unlike before, where a depleted ZPM was barely sufficient, the fully-charged ZPM inside didn't cause any flickers of power or signs of failure. The machine continued to vreeee as the system read the quantum signature and began the process of turning the raw information into physical form.
The light on the compiler turned on. A field appeared below it. My hearts filled with joy as Katherine began to form inside of it. "Welcome back," I said, smiling.
I'd done it.
I'd gotten Katherine back.
The machine let out a warning tone that made my hearts skip their beats. My eyes went to the control display.
CRITICAL DATA ERROR. DATA NOT TRANSLATING.
"No," I breathed. "No no no no... no you stupid machine! You worked before!" I took the controls and began altering the power flow. "Work! WORK DAMN YOU!"
Try as I might, the machine kept giving me the error. I'd raise power, I'd lower it, and then I turned it off. I checked and saw the data translator crystal was still in place, that it should still be working, with scans showing no signs of faults.
In frustration and rage I screamed inarticulately and hit the switch again. The vreeee sounded again.
The field formed.
A female figure began to appear within it.
It was working! It was working!
The next thing I knew, I was on my arse. Pain filled the front of my body and my ears rang from the explosion that had knocked me backward. I struggled to regain breath and to get back to my feet, shifting around. "No," I breathed ass soon as I regained air in my lung. Horrible realization filled me as I got up enough to scramble over to the compiler.
Or rather, what was left of it.
The power stabilizer I'd stolen from the Imperium Mechanicus had exploded from power feedback, wrecking the device. I... I couldn't understand why. I looked at the wreckage of the device it had taken me months to rebuild and fathomed trying to regain all of the parts, especially the rare ones. So much work, but why did it...
A glint of color came to my eye. I reached into the debris at my feet and picked up a shard of a crystal.
I felt sick to my stomach.
The data translator crystal, responsible for the process that shifted the raw data into information the compiler could turn to a physical form.
Finding a crystal that could move the necessary energy through it without destabilizing or warping itself had been an exhaustive process. In the end, I'd found only one such thing to be suitable.
Octarine crystal from the Discworld.
I didn't think that at the time. I only thought of how I'd be replacing all of the objects that were irreplaceable. If my project could still work.
Of course it'd still work. I'd bloody well make it work. I was convinced of that as I reached for the quantum signature scanner and data storage device that held Katherine in it...
....the same one that was now a smoking, warped metal case.
"No," I rasped in horror, reaching and pulling the scanner out. It was hot to the touch, a warped lump of steel and plastics. The light that should have blinked red or green was dead. Still, maybe the data storage device inside was intact...! I took the screwdriver up and scanned. Hope filled me; all was not lost yet! I still had a chance. The data drive could still be intact. In fact, it was....
....utterly and completely destroyed.
I stood there for a moment as I let the horrible news sink in. The drive had been hit by the feedback. Completely. It was gone, unrecoverable, completely destroyed....
And just like that, all hope was lost. The data had been erased by the destruction. The quantum scanner's storage drive was... irreplaceable.
Katherine was gone.
And I couldn't get her back.
I couldn't get her back!
I screamed like a wounded animal and threw the melted device against the wall. With a raw scream of agony and rage and grief still roaring from my pained lungs I grabbed and threw the broken machine on its side. As my scream broke down into agonized sobs I fell to my knees. Frustration joined my grief and rage.