16 February 2007

New Companion, Old Earth - Chapter Three - Part 1

The Doctor stopped reading once he was certain Saskia was sleeping soundly. He looked at the young woman lying in front of him and wondered why he let himself care so much about his Companions just lately. Perhaps he was getting old, or noticing his loneliness more since he had lost his own people? Reinette had called him a lonely angel and to the Face of Boe he was a lonely god, yet he seldom travelled on his own. Not that travelling with anyone necessarily made him any less lonely. He shook himself mentally. Such introspection wouldn’t help him sort out what was happening to Saskia. He got up quietly and slipped out of her room, heading for the Control Room to see if the TARDIS had finished analysing the artefact yet.

As he entered the Control Room, the lights brightened and the TARDIS hummed a greeting at him. "What have you found, old girl?" he asked, looking down at the screen attached to the scanner. He pulled out his glasses and peered at it more closely. "Psionic waves? It's sending out and receiving Psionic waves! No wonder Saskia's telepathic powers are increasing." He pulled the artefact out of the slot in the console, then pulled out his Sonic Screwdriver. Adjusting the settings on the latter, he pointed it at the artefact, intending to shut down its transmissions. A spark of energy jumped out of the artefact and sizzled against his fingers.
"Ow!" He glared at the artefact. "Oh no you don't, sunshine," he growled, before shoving his stinging fingers into his mouth and sucking them to ease the sting. Removing his fingers again he readjusted the settings on the Sonic Screwdriver, convinced that this time he would be able to shut down the signal. Another, bigger spark leapt from the artefact and the Doctor yelped again, before dropping it onto the console. He sucked his fingers again, glaring at it in annoyance, then dropped the artefact back into the slot it had previously occupied. He adjusted some of the dials and levers on the console, then flicked a switch, confident that the artefact could not resist the power of the TARDIS herself.

This time an entire shower of sparks sprang up and the Doctor leapt backwards from the console, determined not to be stung a third time. He checked the screen on the scanner and saw, with a feeling of inevitability, that it showed that the artefact was still fully functional. He scowled in frustration, wondering whether to simply smash the device with a hammer. He ruffled the hair on the back of his head absent-mindedly as he peered down at the artefact. Deciding he had nothing to lose and much to gain if he did succeed in deactivating it, he pulled a large hammer out of the tool belt that hung from the console. He took the artefact out of the console slot and put it on the floor, before bringing the hammer down with the full force of his considerable strength. Even as the hammer bounced off the artefact as if it was made of rubber, a scream echoed down the corridors.

"Saskia!" The Doctor dropped the hammer and staggered to his feet, running before he was even fully upright. He hurtled down the corridors to Saskia's room and burst through the door, before stopping dead on the threshold. Saskia lay sprawled on her bed, shrieking and clutching at her head, but apparently still asleep, even as she writhed in pain.
The Doctor threw himself across the room, landing on the bed with a thump. He grabbed her hands and spoke soothingly to her, even as his fingers slid into position on either side of her ears.

"Shush, shush. It's OK. It's OK," he said, wondering if she could hear him and wondering if it really was OK. Then he spoke directly into her mind, finding that he had to shout over the voice that was loudly roaring in her head.
"Saskia! Saskia! It’s the Doctor. Listen to me, Saskia! Listen to me!" Even as he was mentally shouting at her, the Doctor was aware that her body was physically fighting against him. He leaned his weight across her torso in an attempt to stop her, wincing as one thrashing arm smacked into his head.
"Saskia!" The Doctor called to her urgently, aware that he was losing his sense of her as an individual in the maelstrom of rage that was whirling through her head. He concentrated on picturing her to herself: the serious look she so often wore, the way her eyes sparkled when she smiled or laughed, the compassionate way she spoke to him of Rose, the look of relief on her face when they had watched the last of the Rovian ships leaving her planet, her calm acceptance when they’d gone through the plasma storm to find themselves trapped in the Time Vortex.
"Come on, Saskia, I know you're in there. Follow my voice, Saskia. Listen to me. Come on girl."
"Doctor?" Saskia’s voice was faint and frightened but he was exultant when she answered him.
"Saskia! Come on, come back to me. Follow my voice," he urged, noticing that she wasn't trying to fight him any longer.
"I'm here, Saskia, I'm here."

She opened her eyes to see the Doctor's looking anxiously into her own from close quarters, an angry red mark across one cheek.
"Oh thank goodness!" he exclaimed aloud.
"What happened?" she asked, bewildered. "And who hit you?"
"Well you did, actually," he answered, sitting up straight and looking down at her with a relieved smile.
"I did? Why did I hit you?"
"Well you weren’t really yourself," the Doctor answered, taking both her hands in his. "That beastie came back and objected to – something I did." Even to his own ears, the Doctor's evasiveness was obvious.
"What did you do?"
"Erm, well, I tried to deactivate that artefact," he explained. "It's emitting Psionic waves and I wanted to stop it."
"And the beastie objected?" Saskia asked, sounding suspicious.
"Well I got a couple of shocks from it when I tried to deactivate it electronically, so I, uh, took a more direct approach." He was starting to feel a little sheepish now.
"What did you do?" she demanded.
"Hit it with a rather large hammer," the Doctor answered. "Which didn't really work." He jerked his hands away from Saskia's as she abruptly sat bolt upright, her rage practically scalding him.
"You idiot!" she said scornfully. "Are you trying to get me killed?"
"I just saved your life!" the Doctor protested, standing up quickly as Saskia got out of bed.
"My life wouldn't have needed saving if you hadn't decided to use brute force and ignorance," she answered pointedly.

She stalked out of the room and the Doctor hurried after her. "How was I to know it was linked directly to you?" he asked.
She stopped dead, turned and glared at him, until he found himself stepping backwards. "After all I've been through in the past two days, you couldn't figure that out, Doctor?" she asked scornfully.
He gulped. He should have worked that out for himself. He wondered why he hadn't. Was he losing his touch? He looked up and saw that Saskia had already disappeared towards the Control Room and hurried after her.
As he entered the Control Room she was picking up the artefact from the floor. She looked at it closely, then placed it against her forehead and closed her eyes. The Doctor swallowed an impulse to advise her not to do whatever she was about to do, realising that in this case she probably knew what to do better than he did.
There was an increase in the background hum from the TARDIS and he realised she was lending Saskia telepathic support. The next moment there was a loud pop and Saskia fell. He darted across the gap between them and just managed to catch her before she hit the floor. He ignored the artefact as it clattered onto the metal walkway.

"Saskia?" he said anxiously.
Her eyes fluttered, then opened. "Doctor?"
"What did you do?" he asked.
"Sent the Psionic wave back at the beastie," she answered hoarsely. "That should slow it down for a while."
"I, erm, I should apologise," he said. "I'm sorry."
Saskia didn't answer immediately.
"I should apologise also," she said stiffly.
"You should apologise? Why?" he asked startled.
"I hit you."
"Well yes, you did, but you weren't yourself," the Doctor answered.
"I also called you an idiot."
The Doctor nodded. "Quite right too," he said. "It was an idiotic thing to do."
She clasped his hand in her own. "Thank you."
"For what? Being an idiot?" he asked, a little bitterly.
"No. For coming after me when the beastie had hold of my mind. That was very brave."
The Doctor rubbed at his ear. "Well, if I hadn’t been an idiot, I would'’t have needed to do it," he answered.
"That doesn't mean I'm not grateful," she said, kissing his cheek. "What time is it?"
Grateful for the change of subject, the Doctor glanced at one of the console screens. "10.30 pm local time," he told her.
"I don’t think I want to try sleeping again just yet. Can we go for a walk?"
"If you want to," the Doctor answered.
"I'm going to go and get dressed again," she said. "Try not to do anything – rash – whilst I'm gone."
The Doctor watched her go, then bent and retrieved the artefact. He dropped into back into the scanner slot on the console and checked it. It was dead: no psionic emissions. He wondered if it was permanently deactivated. Perhaps Saskia would know. He shrugged before dropping it into his jacket pocket, then pulled on his overcoat. When Saskia returned a few minutes later, he held out her coat and helped her into it.

No comments: