20 February 2007

New Companion, Old Earth - Chapter Four - Part 1

When Saskia woke up next, the Doctor was still beside her bed, and the book was open in his lap, but his eyes were closed. He opened them the next instant and gave her a big grin.
"Hello." Saskia sat up. "Have you been there all night?" she asked frowning.
"Yes. I wanted to keep an eye on you, to make sure the beastie didn't come back to bother you as you needed to have a good night's sleep if we're going to tackle it today."
"And do you know how we're going to tackle it?" she asked, still frowning.
"I thought we'd track it down – and then negotiate with it."
"And how are we going to track it down?"
"I'm hoping that you'll be able to do that since it's built a strong link with you."
Saskia's frown deepened. "This is going to be an interesting day," she said finally. "I'd better get dressed."
"I'm going to get some breakfast then."
Saskia watched the Doctor leave, still frowning. She wished that she shared his blithe confidence that this was going to be so easy. The rage of this creature was immense, terrifying even, if she was honest. Somehow she had never expected her people's natural talents would be a liability to her. She was beginning to consider asking the Doctor to take her back home again once this was over, assuming she survived.

She tried to shake off her uneasiness as she dressed, practising the technique for clearing her mind. She headed for the kitchen, thinking only about eating breakfast, convinced that if she thought about anything else, she would feel too sick to eat. She found the Doctor in the kitchen making a cup of tea.
"I didn't know what you wanted to eat," he said, "so I didn't get you anything."
"Neither do I," confessed Saskia. She opened a cupboard and took out a bowl, looking at the boxes of cereal that Rose had left behind. She closed the cupboard again and went to the fridge. The Doctor drank his tea as he watched her assemble a bowl of fruit salad.
"Banana?" she asked and offered him one. He grinned and took it from her. "Always take a banana to a party," she observed. "If nothing else, it's a conversation starter."
His grin widened. "Or you can use it to make banana daiquiris."
Saskia grimaced, then sat down. "Aren't you eating?" she asked.
"I had some toast whilst you were dressing," he said blandly.
She raised an eyebrow, but didn't comment, concentrating on eating instead.

About ten minutes later they headed to the Console Room and the Doctor programmed the co-ordinates that would take them back to Worminghall.
"There's still a strong energy signature around there," he explained, "so that's as good a place as any to start looking for the beastie."
Saskia nodded, tight-lipped, from her seat on the bench. The TARDIS took off and the Doctor sat down next to her.
"I know this going to be tough on you," he said, "but I'll do everything I can to help you and protect you. The TARDIS will be lending you her strength as well."
She nodded again, convinced that if she opened her mouth to speak, she would throw up. The Doctor put an arm around her and gave her a hug, before getting up to check the controls. A few moments later the Time rotor slowed and then stopped.
Saskia got up and pulled on her coat, then followed the Doctor outside. He fished in his pocket and pulled out the artefact.
"I don't know if this will be any use," he said, holding it out."
She took it, then shrugged. "Only one way to find out," she answered.
The Doctor took her hand as she placed the device against her forehead and concentrated. She could feel him giving her his support, then she sensed the TARDIS too, lending her strength. The device reactivated itself and Saskia staggered slightly as it did so.
"OK?" the Doctor asked.

They waited in silence for a few minutes then Saskia sensed the presence of the beastie, becoming aware of it before it became aware of her. The Doctor squeezed her fingers and she knew that he was aware of it too.
She reached out with her thoughts, offering peace and calm, and sensed its surprise at her mental touch. She waited for its rage to erupt, wondering if she had astonished it into calmness. Moments later she knew this task wasn't going to be that easy after all as she felt its rage beginning to build. She swallowed twice, then reached out again even as it lashed back at her. She felt herself stagger, then realised that the Doctor was pulling her arm, getting her to sit down so that she wouldn't fall down under its onslaught.
"We can help you," she said. "We don't mean you any harm."
Another roar of anger and a stronger mental blow answered her words, and she felt grateful that she was sitting down.
"What do you want?" she asked in anguish. "Tell us what you want!"
"Saskia!" The Doctor's voice was urgent, so she briefly gave her attention to him and saw that he was looking at a figure who was approaching them. The humanoid was about 4 foot 6 inches tall, with mottled dark red skin. There were dark blue feathers in a star pattern on its head, rather than hair or fur. It wore a dark blue loin cloth, but nothing else.
"What is it?" she asked in surprise, hardly able to believe that this was the creature whose rage had nearly killed her. Before the Doctor could answer, however, the creature spoke into her head.
"We are the Devron."
"We?" she asked. "There are more of you?"
"We are many in one," it answered.
Saskia glanced at the Doctor, puzzled, and he shrugged. "Multiple personalities, perhaps?" he suggested, then flinched slightly as the Devron focused its attention on him. The full force of its rage was akin to standing near an inferno.
"Time Lord," the Devron grated, acknowledging the Doctor.
"That's me," answered the Doctor, although with rather less than his usual cheeriness.
"You are responsible for us being here."
"Me?" He sounded genuinely baffled by the Devron's assertion. "How?"
"Your Time War with the Daleks trapped us here," it answered.
Saskia sensed the Doctor's pain and sadness at the Devron's answer. "What were you doing here?" he asked, his voice sounding harsher than usual.
"We were exiled, cast adrift. When the Time War erupted we were thrown to Earth, but our timeship was damaged. We could not escape this planet. Only move through its history. Now we cannot move forward, and to go back is pointless. We are stuck at this point in history until we can find another timeship to take us away. We created a device to summon any passing timeship to us, so we could escape."

Saskia looked at the Doctor, who just shrugged.
"Why are you trapped at this point in time, though?" she asked.
"We do not know," answered the Devron.
"Don't lie to us!" Saskia said sharply. "If you want to leave here, if you want our help, then tell us the truth."
The Devron scowled, obviously unhappy that she had known it was lying. "This one is getting stronger," it said, then looked at the Doctor. "You were easier to manipulate."
The Doctor looked at it, puzzled. "You manipulated me?" he asked, suppressed anger in his voice.
"Tried to deactivate our summoning device," the Devron said, looking gleeful.
Comprehension dawned on the Doctor. "That was your doing? I suppose you were trying to overpower Saskia, intending to blackmail me into helping you?"
Saskia sensed the Doctor's anger, and that the Devron was pleased at his anger. "You still didn't answer my question. Why are you trapped here? Answer me or we will not help you," she insisted.
"The War," it answered reluctantly.
"The Time War?" asked the Doctor.
The Devron scowled at him. "Earth Wars, 1936, 1939," it clarified.
"What? Oh!" Saskia looked at the Doctor as she realised the implications of what the Devron was saying. "I think its emotions are feeding off the build up to the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War – all that increased international tension. Perhaps the Devron has never been taught how to shield its mind from others' emotions."
"We do not want your pity! We want only to escape. You will give us the timeship." Both Saskia and the Doctor flinched at its screams.
"We cannot give you the TARDIS," the Doctor said firmly. "But we can take you away from Earth."

"NO!" The Devron lashed out again and Saskia sensed that it was targeting her link with the Doctor, but she was unsure which one of them it wanted to hurt the most. Then it struck out again, repeated blows raining down on the Doctor's links to her and to the TARDIS.
"NO!" she yelled at it, mentally. "If you hurt the Doctor we'll all be stuck here. No one else can fly the TARDIS, not me, and definitely not you."
She sensed that the Doctor's link to her was weakening and she panicked; in that moment of panic she lashed out at the Devron herself, trying to protect the Doctor. The Devron reeled back from her blow, but did not lessen its onslaught against the Doctor. Saskia reached out directly to the TARDIS and used the TARDIS' strength to boost her own as she lashed out at the Devron again. The Devron immediately turned its full attention to her and Saskia found herself wrestling with it in a furious mental struggle. It was like trying to wrestle with an eel in the middle of a whirlpool. The Devron kept slipping from her grasp, its rage roaring chaotically through her head. She tried to find a firm place to stand mentally, then the TARDIS sent her another surge of strength. It was just enough and she lashed out harder than ever. The Devron collapsed into unconsciousness. Feeling relieved but far from triumphant, she turned her attention from it just as the Doctor also lost consciousness.
"Doctor?" she cried aloud.

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