06 March 2007

The Desert of Einfuhlung - Chapter 1, Part 2

They only had to wait a few minutes for a tram to arrive. For most of the half hour journey the Doctor plied Saskia with questions about the city, its design and its transport systems. The Devron asked a few questions, but it was mostly quiet. Saskia kept a tight rein on her thoughts regarding the Devron. Although it had been quiet and reasonably docile since she had offered to bring it to her home planet, she knew that it was still angry about what had happened on Earth and she felt that it would only be a matter of time before matters came to a head. She sincerely hoped that Dr Karg would be able to help it.

The tram dropped them off near the gates of an estate on the outskirts of the city. Saskia used the keypad at the entrance to alert Dr Karg of their arrival and they were quickly admitted. A short drive led up to an imposing house built in the 19th century Old Earth style known as the Italianate. Even the Doctor seemed impressed, judging by his uncharacteristic silence. Dr Karg opened the door to them.
"Enter and be welcome," he said courteously.
Saskia stepped inside first and shook hands with him before introducing her companions. Dr Karg was an imposing figure, easily as tall as the Doctor, and wearing a cream linen suit that was in stark contrast to his sun-tanned skin. He had grey hair and green eyes which held an expression of great wisdom.
"Come through," he said, leading them to a small dining room where a heavily laden table implied he was expecting them to eat heartily.
He seated the Devron on his left and Saskia on his right, with the Doctor at the head of the table. "Please help yourselves," he invited and began filling their glasses with iced water.
For a few minutes no one spoke, except to make the usual courtesies of passing food to each other, as they concentrated on their food.
"Who is to begin your tale?" asked Dr Karg.
Saskia looked at the Doctor, who nodded and smiled at her, so she explained as quickly and succinctly as possible her meeting with the Doctor, their trip to Earth and their encounter with the Devron. In spite of her brevity, it still took some time to tell the tale. Dr Karg listened intently, without interruptions, then invited the Devron to tell them about itself.
"We will not speak of ourselves to outsiders," it said stiffly.
Dr Karg raised his eyebrows. "Then how am I to help you?" he asked.
The Devron shrugged. Saskia did her best to stifle her irritation with it. "I invited you to come here so that my people could help you," she reminded it. "Why did you accept that offer if you don't intend to tell us anything?"
"We thought that you would kill us if we did not agree."
Dr Karg's eyebrows rose even higher. "Saskia would never do that!" he exclaimed.
"He might," the Devron said, pointing at the Doctor. "He killed his own people."
"Is that true?" Dr Karg asked in disbelief.
"Yes," the Doctor answered. Saskia could hear the grief in his voice and see the pain in his dark brown eyes. She reached out and put her hand on his arm.

"There's something here I don't understand," Dr Karg said heavily. "I've known Saskia almost all her life and I know very well that she would not trust the Doctor as I can feel she so clearly does, without good reason."
The Doctor shot Saskia a grateful look at Dr Karg's words and put his hand over hers. "Thank you."
She squeezed his fingers.
"Dr Karg, my story is a long and difficult one, but I will tell it as succinctly as possible," he said.
Dr Karg nodded at him, eyes alight with curiosity. The Devron shifted in its chair, drawing everyone's attention back to it. "We do not wish to listen to this," it said emphatically.
Saskia bit back an annoyed retort and was irritated with herself when she saw that the Devron was aware of her annoyance. The Doctor squeezed her fingers which still lay under his hand.
"It's OK," he told her. "Don't let it upset you."
Dr Karg looked from the Devron to Saskia and the Doctor. "Very well," he said and rang a bell. A young man came into the dining room. "Will you take the Devron to the guest wing, please, and remain there until we come for you?"
The young man nodded and waited impassively whilst the Devron slipped down from its chair. "We thank you for your hospitality," it said stiffly, before following the young man out.
"If you've both finished eating, we can adjourn to my study," Dr Karg said. The Doctor and Saskia nodded their agreement, getting up to follow him out of the room and down a long, panelled hallway into a book-lined room at the back of the house.

Saskia sat down on a large, comfortable sofa, watching whilst the Doctor roamed around the room, peering at the bookshelves.
"This is an impressive collection," he told Dr Karg enthusiastically.
"Thank you, Doctor." Dr Karg smiled in genuine pleasure at the Doctor's enthusiasm. "Shall we begin?" he asked.
The Doctor nodded, then crossed the room to sit beside Saskia. She could feel the tension in his arm as it brushed against hers and she also felt the turmoil of emotions in his mind. She knew that he had yet to forgive himself for his role in the destruction of Gallifrey and the Time Lords, and that talking about it was going to be very painful.
He took a deep breath which he let out slowly, as he centred his mind, then explained as dispassionately as possible the origins of the Time War, and how he had come to destroy his home and his people. Saskia and Dr Karg listened attentively, without interrupting. When he finished speaking over an hour later, Saskia sensed that he seemed more relaxed and even a little relieved to have told his story.

Dr Karg spoke finally. "Thank you for sharing this story with us," he said. "I know that was a difficult thing for you to undertake."
The Doctor inclined his head. "Thank you for listening," he answered. "Both of you." He clasped Saskia's hand in his own.
"You two seem to have formed a very close bond in a very short space of time," Dr Karg observed. "What haven't you told me yet?"
Saskia didn't need to look at the Doctor to be aware of his willingness for her to tell Dr Karg more about their experiences, so she explained how the Devron had knocked the Doctor unconscious and how she had entered the Doctor's mind to save him.
"Can you show me your memory of this?" Dr Karg asked.
"Yes." She turned to the Doctor. "I think you should see this too," she said.
He nodded, a look of curiosity in his eyes. Dr Karg moved his chair in front of them and reached out his left hand to Saskia, who took it in her right hand. The Doctor still had a firm grasp on her left hand.
He looked at Dr Karg. "Shall we - ?" he asked and waggled his free hand.
Dr Karg nodded. "The images will be clearer for all of us, if we are all physically linked." He took the Doctor's left hand in his own right hand, so that they made a triangle, then closed his eyes. The Doctor noticed that Saskia had already closed her eyes, so he closed his own eyes and concentrated.
Saskia focused on her memory of entering the Doctor's mind, carefully unfolding the experience for the two of them as if she was playing back a film. Once her mental film had finished, they sat back in silence. Dr Karg steepled his fingers against his lips before speaking.

"In 80 years of assisting Empathians to control their empathic skills, I've never known anything like that," he said thoughtfully. "And you said that your telepathic skills are growing stronger?"
Saskia nodded. "I can read anyone's thoughts now unless I actively block out their minds."
"Hmm. And you say that your race is only mildly telepathic, Doctor?"
"As a rule yes. Although I've never met anyone from the Devron's race before, I suspect that its innate powers are stronger than Saskia's, even though she told me that she is very strongly gifted amongst your people. I think that the Devron's own skills are amplifying Saskia's, but whether it's only a temporary change, or a permanent one, I couldn't guess."
"Nor I," answered Dr Karg.
"Then I suppose we'll just have to wait and see," Saskia said in a pragmatic tone.
"You know that if it becomes too hard for you to block out other people's thoughts, I can give you something for it," Dr Karg said.
"A suppressant?" asked the Doctor.
"An inhibiting drug, yes," answered Dr Karg. "Very young children who are strongly gifted, like Saskia, sometimes take it at night to allow them to sleep and rest. We work with them to teach them how to block the minds of others naturally and they can usually stop taking the inhibitor once they reach puberty."
"Did you take it, as a child?" the Doctor asked curiously.
Saskia shook her head. "My grandmother taught me the necessary mental disciplines at a very early age, so it was never necessary."
"I'll fill out a prescription for you," Dr Karg said.
Saskia opened her mouth to say that she wouldn't need it, but then left the words unsaid. "OK."
"You may not want it now, but you might find it necessary later on if your powers continue to increase," he pointed out.
"I know," she answered.

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