Doctor Who: The Mad God – Chapter Seven

[Things get far more confusing for the Doctor.. and an old familiar face leaves his mark.. Doctor Who characters are (c) the BBC, the story and some added elements are (c) me. ]

CHAPTER SEVEN

“Where did you get this?!” His voice was loud and sharp as it echoed in the chamber. His finger prodded the casing of the monitor accusingly as he glared at the vivid painted hologram. “Is this some sort of trap? Is that what this is about?”

“Of course not.” The voice was even, though hinted at confusion. “I asked you here. You are my guest, Doctor – not my prisoner.”

“This is Galifreyan!” He glared around the control panel with his newly irate eyes. “It seems to be a diagnostic piece. Measuring what though? Life signs? No, more then that – Biochemistry and genetics. And what’s this?” he tapped his fingers on the control panel, carefully pressed and revealed a few more monitors. Mixed symbols on this one and far more complicated. It had multiple layers of information seemingly layered on each other. It was a complicated but familiar system. It was the way many Time Lords would jot notes in classes. Gallifreyan shorthand, at it’s most rudimentary.

“Even if you scavenged it, you wouldn’t know how to use it.. no this isn’t something scavenged.”

“It was installed a long time ago. When the new benefactor of Ghal’Ex came to us.” Her image disappeared, and in it’s place a few flat screens appeared hovering above the control panels in bright flickering light. They showed the facility in it’s previous time.

“It had been a few generations since you had left. The peace was holding, but stagnant. By then there was speak of various wars throughout the universe that were far bigger and far more terrifying then their own had been. Resources became something to protect. When he came to them, it was suspected at first that it was you – returning to check on there progress.”

The images played back a recording of a large and heavily damaged rectangular stone box materializing inside the main residential building. Chilaru and Nephel alike gasped and scattered as it seemed there was tendrils of smoke escaping the damaged stone box. With a shuddered groan the top of the strange box parted somewhat and a robed figure emerged.

The Doctor raised his hand to absently cover his mouth in shock, eyes wide and staring at the image, then in turn those piecing eyes narrowing to tight slits as he tried to wring every ounce of detail out of the image hovering there.

The stone box wasn’t just an ordinary stone box. It was a sarcophagus. And it wasn’t simply a sarcophagus, but a TARDIS. An all too familiar one. One he had not expected to see again.

“The Monk…” he whispered. “The meddler himself.”

There wasn’t enough clarity in the image to see all the details he needed. He couldn’t tell what face the Monk wore. He couldn’t tell if he’d regenerated or been the same face he’d seen so long ago. He couldn’t even be sure it was the Monk himself. The recording stopped and the screen faded out to return the image of the girl once more.

It seemed impossible. Of all the people he expected to run into – this was certainly not at the top of the list. Mind you, it was quite a long list.

“He called himself Mortimus. He was injured and they did what they could to help him. He told them many things about this new war. This Time War. He filled their heads with fears they had never considered. Dangers they had been sheltered from. He offered them advances in science and medicine they could only dream of. In exchange for help.”

“Help? Help for what?”

“To save his life. He was dying. Injuries we could not understand. Things that we were too unequipped to handle. He spoke of many things, I assume you will be able to sort out his own notes. They could not. Even I could barely deceiver some of what he’s written.”

He paced uncomfortably, his mind racing with things. This visit had turned far more uncomfortable and far more dangerous then he thought it would. Normal danger he could handle. Send a few Dalek’s his way, or let him tangle with a few Cybermats.. but this. This made his very nerves ice over with dread.

“I don’t understand what this has to do with everything.” The facts jammed into each other in his ever crowded head. So many missing pieces made the whole puzzle impossible to see. “It doesn’t make sense! Where are you? I want to speak to you in person!”

He turned and thudded his hands down on the control panel, leering in so his large nose was inches away from the glowing lighted hologram. His brow crinkled in a stern glare. “And don’t even bother telling me that you are merely a computer interface. Been there, done that. I know the difference. You don’t speak on an algorithm pattern. You obviously aren’t scripted. And you don’t hesitate like artificial intelligence…”

“You are correct.” the voice said calmly, though a bit quieter now. “But I am not sure… in your state of distress that seeing me would–”

“Don’t.” His finger raised up, pointing to the short flickering image. “One thing you will learn about me, since you obviously don’t have that bit of knowledge in your head. I don’t like people assuming what may or may not be good for me. Only a few people have ever had the privilege of making choices for me. You aren’t one of them.”

“Very well…” there was a sigh, far less artificial then the hollowness of some of their conversation had been. “But I warn you. It may be a bit… distressing.”

With that the image shifted away and the control panel came alive with hums and tones. In the closest pools there was the sound of movement and a soft ring of light started to slowly glow under the dark water. It got brighter and brighter slowly as the Doctor moved closer and peered over the control panel.

It wasn’t the fact that the oval ring of lights got brighter, but that they were moving closer to the surface. With a gentle shloosh of parting water a small strange pedestal, about five feet long at it’s ends arose from the opaque liquid. On top of the odd curved table was a tangle of cords, tubes and wires.

As he leaned closer and examined the mess in the dim light it became apparent that amid the centre of the tangled mass, still dripping black water was the horrid sight of flesh and bone in the crude and barely reminiscent shape of a woman…

And as impossible as it seemed, this horrid mass of barely recognizable flesh had movement in it’s core. The barest outline of an exposed heart was beating.

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Doctor Who: The Mad God – Chapter Six

[ The story continues as the Doctor finally reaches the Fountain… ]

CHAPTER SIX

At the end of the stairs was a small hallway, and at the end of that hallway was a large arched door. It had no windows, no markings, and no handle. It was a large door and seemed far more opposing then he had expected. It seemed different then the one his mind vaguely remembered being here before.

He raised his hand close to it but before his fingers could graze the surface of the cool metal – a hum and click echoed and the door simply slid aside, escaping into the grooved archway.

He grunted to himself, pausing to adjust the edge of his sleeve as he took stock of the dim lit room beyond the doors gaping entrance. The dimly lit underground chamber immediately smelled of salt and water. It was heavily oxygenated and smelled clean and fresh. Perhaps it was a bit damp and humid to his tastes, but not overly uncomfortable.

He could smell the minerals of this place. The salt, the quartz, the nebula sandyne and liquid protofluid. This rock was still rich with the nutrient healing soup it had been known for. Yet the messenger’s words echoed in his mind, “The fountain of Asheran is being poisoned…” It made him cautious.

The room blossomed like a fossilized flower. The room was once an open and softer place but now hardened and abandoned. The dim lights left vast spaces of the room in darkness. Although the two large soaking pools were still full, their waters which were once a pale clear blue were now apparently black and silent in shadow.

“Doctor. Welcome.”

The voice was distinctly the same, but now instead of resounding in his mind it seemed to emit from a specific location. He turned his head and perked his ear. There was a raised platform of panels and monitors which sat overlooking the large pools. It appeared to be coming from there.

“You really need to work on your lighting. It’s dismal.” He cautiously walked a fair distance away from the pools as he headed towards the control panel. The last thing he wished to do was to take an unplanned swim.

“My apologies. I have little use for extra light. One moment.” And gentle the hum rose slightly and the lights brightened.

It did little to relieve the Doctor’s mind. Although there were no evidence of life surrounding him, there was evidence of turmoil. Strange equipment and devices were strewn around the room. Ripped panels, restraints, broken chairs. It looked as if this place had seen more then one prison riot.

Upon the far walls were scrapes and tables of torturous things. Chains and metal braces. Knives and medical equipment.

His stomach shifted slightly. A rock tumbled into the bottom of his gut.

Perhaps this might not have been so out of place in other prisons in other systems. No, in all his long and busy years the Doctor had seen far more horrors then this had eluded to, but it was never something he got used to. He never wanted to get used to that kind of thing.

“What have they done here?”

“Many things, Doctor.” the voice cracked slightly, faltered a moment before it strengthened. “This was once the healing Fountain of Asheran. A place that eased the suffering of many. A place of healing and growth.”

He took a few wide steps and stood among the curved control panels. As he did a vivid coloured hologram, merely about eight inches flickered into life on the panel in front of him. It was a girl he recognized. Her lavender eyes peering back into his own.

“You!” he nodded. “I assumed that.. where else would the image have come from.”

It was the same girl, dressed in the same outfit that greeted him in his TARDIS. Her wide eyes seemed bland however, as if the life had been drained out.

“Interesting. I was unaware she could take my form. But then… I suppose she was a desperate act. I did not know fully if she would even find you. The information on quantum thought-forms was rough at best. I managed out some of the details but the experiment was quite daunting.” There was a flicker in the hologram, it reminded him of the messenger. Was there a look of sadness in the vivid images eyes? No, perhaps not. She seemed hollow once again. “I digress. She brought you here – and I am eternally grateful for that. I am sorry if there are memories here that you would rather have forgotten.”

“If you know of me, then you know why I initially came here – many years ago. I helped them create this place to clean up after their silly little war. All I did was helped them see how pointless it was to try to slaughter each other off. I helped them devise a treaty and build a new state together.” He waved his arms around, and then exhaled with a slump of his shoulders. “The bad memories? The bad memories here were for them to remember what they did. So they didn’t make the same mistakes… so they could live in peace and make amends! All I did was help out and hope for the best. Obviously that was too much to hope for.”

He rubbed his brow, traced the hard ridge of his nose. “I don’t know what happened here, but I can guess it’s not good.”

“The history banks did speak of you. They mentioned you intervened in their treaty process and you helped found Ghal’Ex and the Proclamation of Shared Rights. You were spoke highly of… and for a while it seemed there was peace. You succeeded in that Doctor. You should not be ashamed.” It didn’t seem very sincere with the hollow tone of voice, though the wording seemed kind.

“Oh? Then what happened here? Why the goose-chase, and the mystery, and the ‘Great Resurrection?’ What happened to the Chilaru and the Nephel? Where did they all go, and where do Malik and his people fit into all this? And why am I even here?!”

The Doctor had a habit of being impatient when he was concerned. It edged his voice and made him louder then he wanted to be. He didn’t even realize he was shouting at the hologram until he realized how his voice made his own head hurt in the silence of the large room.

He glared at the controls, glared at the hologram, and then spun around to again look over the large room. Something did not add up. His flash of anger was soon replaced by a familiar feeling of ice along the back of his neck when something was not quite right. It edged at him and itched at him until he could figure it out.

“It’s wrong. The room is wrong. The technology is wrong.” He pointed to the right side of the control panel. There were monitors there that should not be there. It caught his eye and refused to let go.

That panel had been small and the lights were low. Amid all the other distractions he didn’t notice it at first. Yet now that he saw it he could not get past it. It was clearly not Chiliru or Nephel technology. There was a clear section of glass which flashed a few small shifting symbols.

It was a language that would never have evolved here naturally. No, it was something far worse. With the colour draining from his face he peered closer, looking it over far more carefully – hoping by some grace of luck he was wrong.

But of course he wasn’t. After all, the language on the monitors was far too familiar.

It was Galifreyan.