02 February 2007

New Companion, Old Earth - Prologue - Part 2

He nodded. He had seen that she was fit and strong. "Are you human? You look it, but then so do I."
The Doctor looked startled for a moment. "Mostly?! Are you going to elaborate on that?"
"I'm human but I have enhanced mental abilities and what some primitive people would consider supernatural powers."
"Such as?"
"I'm a full empath – I can read the mood and emotions of any sentient being. I'm also capable of reading people's thoughts – but I have to actually touch someone to do that. I can learn any language in about 60 minutes and I can accurately recall any data I've read 98% of the time. Oh, and I keep my brain in a jar by the bed at night."
The Doctor gaped. "You do what?"
She managed to keep her face straight. "I keep my brain in a jar by the bed at night." The Doctor looked slightly appalled. "Please tell me you're not serious?!"
She giggled. "I'm not. I just wanted to see the look on your face."

After a moment, he burst out laughing. "I'm relieved. Still, your abilities are quite remarkable. Even I can't read someone's moods or emotions unless I'm reading their mind as well. Are your mental abilities natural to your species?"
Saskia nodded. "The strength of abilities varies from one individual to the next; both my parents were strongly gifted, however, and I am more strongly gifted than most."
"So if you can learn any language in 60 minutes, you can probably read almost anything in the TARDIS library?" Saskia nodded again. "Including Gallifreyan?"

The Doctor began pacing around the TARDIS console. "I suppose you can understand her, too?" he asked, indicating the console.
"Oh yes. I can read her mood as easily as I can read yours."
"Well there's no doubt I've got a talented woman on my 'crew'. So what am I going to do with you?"
"Have you considered that I might not want to be on your 'crew'?" she asked mildly.
The Doctor stopped pacing abruptly, his face a mixture of surprise and consternation. "Erm, no, I hadn't. I must apologise, again. I –"
"You assumed that having rescued me from imminent death, and incidentally, my planet from those invading aliens, that I'd like nothing better than to wander through Time and Space with you."
The Doctor looked sheepish. "Um, yes?"

He resumed his pacing and ruffled the hair on the back of his head, as he always seemed to do when he was pondering things. It was a gesture that Saskia had observed him making more than once in the past week when he hadn't been aware that she was watching him. She sensed he wasn't really aware that he was doing it. He stopped his pacing and shoved his hands into the pockets of his blue pinstripe trousers.
"Saskia Scolere, would you like to wander Time and Space with me?"
"Since you ask so nicely, I don't mind if I do," she answered with a grin.
"Really, really."
"Fantastic!" He immediately began fiddling with the dials and levers on the TARDIS console. Then he looked up and grinned at her, and she grinned back. "So, Barcelona?"
She nodded. "Barcelona."

A few minutes later, the Doctor had set the controls and they were finally moving through the Time vortex. "Are you hungry?" he asked.
Saskia looked surprised. "Now you mention it, I am. I've no idea when I last ate anything."
"Well you've been perched up on that bench for the past 5 hours, either reading or talking to me. Let's find some food."
Saskia slipped down from her seat and followed the Doctor down the yellow lit TARDIS corridors. "It's lucky I'm an empath," she observed.
"The TARDIS can easily direct me to the kitchen or to my room, when I need them, otherwise I'd probably spend hours wandering the corridors since she has a tendency to shuffle rooms around at random."

The Doctor stopped and looked back at Saskia. "You know, I hadn't thought of that…"
Saskia rolled her eyes.
"Oi! I saw that!"
"Well for such a compassionate being, you're a bit thoughtless on occasion."
"Am not!" the Doctor exclaimed.
Saskia just looked at him.
"Well OK, maybe now and again. Am I really thoughtless?" he asked in sudden anxiety.
"Sometimes, yes. You tend to get so absorbed, you just forget the rest of us are mere mortals, not 900 year old Time Lords."
"Oh. Well, I'll try to remember…"
Saskia grabbed his arm and got him moving towards the kitchen again. "Please do try. I don't expect you to always succeed, but trying would be a small concession."

They prepared some lunch and sat down to eat.
"You still have some questions left, you know." Saskia said, into a pause from eating.
"I do?"
"Well you didn't ask me 20 questions earlier," she said.
"Oh, no I didn't, did I? Can I continue?"
"I don't see why not."
"You said earlier, before mentioning that you keep your brain in a jar - and thank you for that image, by the way - that you can accurately recall any data you've read 98% of the time. Why not 100%?"

Saskia smiled at the memory of the Doctor's expression when she'd made that quip. "No human brain is infallible. I have trouble with numbers sometimes, I'm much better with words."
"I suppose you must be, with all those languages in your head. Is there anything you're bad at?" he wondered.
"Well I can't sing or play a musical instrument, although I love music. And I can't cook – I mean I can heat things up, but the idea of cooking from scratch bores me. Actually, I'm pretty useless at all the 'domestic arts'. And Art itself is a puzzler. Whomever said 'A picture is worth a thousand words' was an idiot, as far as I'm concerned! I usually manage two or three, at most."
"Like what?"
"Oh – 'That's pretty', or 'What's THAT?'," Saskia answered with a grimace.
The Doctor grinned.

"What's your planet like, when it's not being invaded by aliens?"
"Quiet and pleasant – we get a fair number of visitors who come for a holiday and later in life come back to retire. Being empaths, violence is rare in our society."
"I suppose it must be. It looked like a nice place – rather Earth-like."
"It was settled by humans before the destruction of the original Earth because it resembled Earth quite strongly," Saskia answered.
"I didn't have time to find out, what's it called?"
Saskia looked momentarily surprised. "You don't know?"
The Doctor looked surprised in his turn. "Should I?"
"I suppose not. I just assumed that you would know where you had landed."
"Not always. It's more fun that way."
"It's called 'Einfuhlung' – it's an ancient Earth word meaning 'Empathy'."
"Does that make you an" The Doctor paused momentarily "– Einfuhlungian?"
"No. We are the Empathia collectively and I am an individual Empathian."
"Another name meaning 'Empathy'?" asked the Doctor.
"Yes. My people were already developing their empathic abilities when they settled the planet and a scholar suggested the names were appropriate."

The Doctor nodded. "Your last name is descriptive too, I notice."
"Yes. Family names tend to be descriptive of the family's occupation. Since my family, apart from my sister, are all scholars, we have always been Scoleres, another ancient Earth word."
"And what's your branch of scholarship?"
"I'm an archivist, historian and document restorer. Specifically I specialise in ancient Earth documents."
"That sounds interesting."
"It is." Saskia sounded sincere. "I've spent half my life doing it."
The Doctor looked surprised again. "Hang on. Half your life? That means you started when you were in your mid-teens?"
"Certainly. Having an interest in history and literature, and an affinity for languages, I was drawn to the work at an early age. I began my training at 15, though I continued to get a general education until 18."
"Is that normal for your people?"
"Oh yes." Saskia answered. "Most of us are tested at 10 and again at 15 to discover our aptitudes and strengths. After that we can begin specialist training in a field of interest."
"What if you don't have a particular aptitude? Or if you have more than one?" The Doctor looked intrigued.
"We receive guidance in choosing a career. But some simply continue their general education until they are 18, and then find congenial work."
"It all sounds rather idyllic," said the Doctor, wistfully.
"It is."
"Do you want to go back? I can take you back at any time, you know. To any time…"
"No. I've signed up for this," she gestured widely. "I'll stick it out for a while at least. Besides, you shouldn't be without a Companion. You need mere mortals around to keep you grounded."

The Doctor looked startled, remembering that Donna had said something similar recently. "Are you suggesting I'm prone to flights of fancy?" he asked.
"Not at all. I just think that without ordinary mortals around, you might become a bit too self-absorbed."
"Humph." The Doctor looked far from convinced.
"Doctor, you're the last of the Time Lords, a very, very old –"
"Oi! I'm not that old!" he said, affronted.
"You are compared to the rest of us." She looked at him to see if he was going to interrupt again. " - a very, very old being, who's vastly superior to pretty much everyone you meet. And since you lost Rose, I get the impression you're not quite as engaged as you used to be."
"Have you been reading my mind?" The Doctor looked outraged.
"No, of course not, not without your permission. But you and the TARDIS are deeply linked and she has conveyed to me her concerns for you."
"Typical women, ganging up on the men, gossiping," muttered the Doctor, sotto voce.
Saskia poked his shoulder. "Don't be rude. Anyway, it's your own fault for bringing an empath on board."
"How was I supposed to know you were an empath?" the Doctor demanded.
"You could have asked! We've been hanging about inside the Time Vortex for a week whilst you were repairing the TARDIS – plenty of time to talk," Saskia pointed out reasonably.
The Doctor had the grace to look ashamed. "I'm sorry. We should have had this conversation a week ago."
"At least we're having it now, before anything drastic happens."


Kelly said...

Love this:

"You assumed that having rescued me from imminent death, and incidentally, my planet from those invading aliens, that I'd like nothing better than to wander through Time and Space with you."
The Doctor looked sheepish. "Um, yes?"

Very funny :)

Michele said...

Thanks !! You should see his "sheepish" look, though...