06 March 2007

The Desert of Einfuhlung - Chapter 1, Part 3

The Doctor stirred in his seat. "What are we going to do about the Devron?" he asked. "It seems fairly clear to me that it doesn't trust me one bit, and I'm not entirely sure it trusts Saskia either." He gave her an apologetic look.
"Not only that, but it clearly enjoys manipulating people's emotions," Saskia said.
"I think the Devron should remain here and I will do my best to win its trust," answered Dr Karg. "Why don't you come and see me again in a couple of days and you can tell me whether your telepathic powers are still increasing when you're no longer in close proximity to the Devron."
Saskia nodded.
"Doctor, you would be welcome too," Dr Karg said.
The Doctor smiled happily. "Thank you."
"Let's go and talk to the Devron, then," said Dr Karg.
"Before we do, there something I think you should know." Both men noticed a reluctant note in Saskia's voice, whilst Dr Karg could sense a reluctance to speak warring with her anxiety about holding back potentially important information.
"What is it, Saskia?" the Doctor asked.
"When I was fighting with the Devron mentally I found out a bit about it. No one's ever taught it how to shield its mind," she explained, "so I got flickers of information and images from it." She looked away from them both in embarrassment. The Doctor reached out and clasped her hand.
"It's OK. I know you well enough by now to know that you'd never deliberately rifle through someone's memories and experiences."
Dr Karg nodded agreement with the Doctor's words. "He's right. Just tell us what you think we should know if we are to help the Devron."
Saskia's squeezed the Doctor's hand, then took a deep breath before explaining that she had learned that the Devron's people had found a way to pass on their personal memories and experiences to another individual before they died. This meant, she said, that any one individual could have the memories of hundreds of individuals stored in its own memory.

The Doctor look curious and intrigued by her revelation, but Dr Karg seemed as horrified as Saskia. "How do they stop themselves from going mad?" he asked in wonder.
"I'm not sure that they do," Saskia answered.
Both men looked at her in surprise. "What do you mean?" asked Dr Karg, a breath ahead of the Doctor.
"You know how angry it always seemed when we encountered it?" Saskia asked the Doctor, who nodded ruefully. "Well I think its mind was breaking down under the pressure of its ancestors' memories, combined with the telepathic stress of the heightened international tensions on Earth. I think we removed it from Earth not a moment too soon. But I'm not sure whether we removed it too late."
Dr Karg patted her arm. "Only time will tell," he said. "But you can be sure I will do all that I can to help it." He stood up, and Saskia and the Doctor stood too. "Let's find our visitor."
"You did the right thing, telling us about the Devron," the Doctor told Saskia quietly as they followed Dr Karg out of his study. She bit her bottom lip, then nodded once, but the Doctor could sense she wasn't completely convinced. He squeezed her hand in his own.

They followed Dr Karg along the corridor and into the central part of the house where they found the Devron and Dr Karg's assistant waiting in a large, sunlit sitting room. Saskia immediately noticed that the Devron looked less sulky than it had and wondered if that meant that it would be willing to accept Dr Karg's help. It gave her a sharp look and she flinched as she realised that it had read her thoughts. She waited by the door with the Doctor as Dr Karg approached the Devron and spoke to it silently. The Doctor could sense that Saskia was anxious about the Devron and he briefly put an arm around her shoulders. She gave him a quick smile, then turned her attention to Dr Karg as he approached them.
"The Devron has agreed to remain here for the time being," he told them.
Saskia gave a sigh of relief.
"Would you two like to look around here before you head back to the city?"
She turned to the Doctor. "Doctor?"
"Another time, thank you," he answered. "Thank you for your hospitality."
"Thank you for coming to see me, both of you. Saskia I'll go and get that item I promised you."
"Thank you." She walked over to the Devron and the Doctor followed her.
"I am glad that you have agreed to stay and work with Dr Karg," she told it.
It looked at her for a long moment and Saskia could feel that it was trying to read her mind. She returned its gaze steadily, keeping all her emotions firmly masked. Finally it dropped its gaze.
"Goodbye," it said, then turned its back on them both.
The Doctor shrugged at Saskia's look. "Goodbye," he said, then took her arm and led her out of the room.

They found Dr Karg waiting for them by the front door and followed him outside at his gesture. He handed Saskia a small package which she slipped into her bag.
"I've given you a three month supply," he told her.
She looked at him in surprise. "Why so much?"
"Well I thought it best to err on the side of caution. You might need to increase the standard dose if your telepathic abilities continue to increase. Also I thought you might find yourself unable to get back to see me should something urgent arise." He smiled at the Doctor, who smiled back.
"I won't go looking for trouble," he assured Dr Karg.
"Perhaps not, but you have admitted that trouble has a habit of finding you, and if Saskia is going to remain as your Companion, I would rather she had the help she might need." He hugged Saskia, then shook hands with the Doctor. "Come and see me in two days," he said. "Come for lunch again."
"Thank you, we will." Saskia turned to leave, then turned back. "I almost forgot," she said and fished in her pocket, pulling out the artefact that she and the Doctor had discovered in Oxford. "You might want to get one of your techies to look at this."
"What is it?" asked Dr Karg, looking at the small device that lay in the palm of her hand.
"A very powerful transmitter and receiver. It broadcasts Psionic waves, and I think it also amplifies telepathic abilities. The Devron built it. Be careful about activating it."
Dr Karg looked at it thoughtfully. "I'll bear your warning in mind," he said. "I think I won't tell the Devron that I have it, at least not yet."
Saskia nodded. "We'll see you in two days, then" she said, then set off down the drive towards the gates.

The Doctor sketched a farewell then caught Saskia up in a few strides. "Now there's a thoroughly decent bloke," he said.
Saskia grinned at him and he grinned back. "Are you sure you don't just hanker after his library?" she asked teasingly.
He poked her shoulder. "You're getting cheeky," he said, pretending to be stern. He grabbed her hand and began to swing her arm backwards and forwards. Saskia's smiled broadened.
"What?" he asked, catching sight of her face.
"The last time anyone did that with me, I was six," she said.
"Oh. Sorry." He stopped swinging their arms, then suddenly pulled his hand free of hers and shoved it into his trouser pocket.
"I wasn't complaining," Saskia protested.
"I know," he answered shortly, then lengthened his stride and walked rapidly away from her.
She stopped abruptly and closed her eyes, sorting through the feelings she had got from the Doctor, even though she had been doing her best to block them out of her mind in case he felt she was intruding.

Guilt. He felt guilty that he had been enjoying her company, because she wasn't Rose.

Sighing, she shook her head then followed the Doctor down the drive and out to the tram stop. He was standing at the stop, with his hands thrust into his trouser pockets, rocking from his heels to the balls of his feet and back again as if he had been waiting there for several hours instead of just a few minutes. She stepped to his side, but before she could speak to him a tram arrived. She got on first, since she had their tickets, and made her way to a free pair of seats, but she wasn't very surprised when the Doctor took a seat near the driver instead of joining her. She watched him, wondering if he was always going to be so moody.

When the tram stopped in the centre of town, the Doctor was up and leaping off before it had barely stopped moving, earning a reprimanding "Oi!" from the driver, which he ignored. He didn't stop or look back as he headed towards the Museum and the spot where they had left the TARDIS. Saskia got off the tram, watching his tall figure striding away and wondered whether or not to go after him. She decided she wanted to go home first. If he wanted her, he knew where to find her. She let herself into her apartment and checked her messages. She smiled when she saw there was one from Luca. She keyed in his work number, knowing he would still be in their shared office.

"Saskia! Thank the gods!" Luca's good humoured face broke into a relieved smile when he saw her.
"Hello Luca. Did you miss me?"
"We all did," he answered. "Where are you?"
"At home, now. I've just got back from seeing Dr Karg."
"Are you OK?" he asked anxiously.
She nodded. "I'm mostly just tired," she answered truthfully.
"Can I come and see you? Tonight?"
Saskia bit her lip indecisively. "Yes, why not?" she said finally. "What time are you finishing work?" She checked the clock on the videophone display.
"About 5," Luca answered. "I'll come straight to you. I'll cook you dinner and you can tell me all about your adventures."
"That will be nice," she said.
"See you in about an hour, then." He blew her a kiss then terminated the call.
She thought about that kiss as she went through to the kitchen. There had been a time when they had first started working together, when she had thought she and Luca might end up as a couple, but it hadn't happened. She scribbled a quick shopping list, knowing that if she didn't go and get some groceries, he'd only get melodramatic with her about her lack of interest in food. She went downstairs to the street entrance and wondered what the Doctor was doing. Since she had to pass the TARDIS on her way to the store, she decided to call in on the way back to see if he wanted to come and have dinner with her and Luca.

When she walked down the side street near the Museum she was relieved to see the TARDIS was still there. She didn't think the Doctor would just leave without saying goodbye, but she wasn't positive about it. She pushed the door with her elbow, since her arms were holding a box of groceries. She half expected the door to be locked, but it wasn't, so she went inside. A quick glance around the Control Room confirmed what her other senses were telling her, that the Doctor was elsewhere. She put the box down by the door and walked over to the Console.
"Hello," she said, smoothing a hand across it. "Where's the Doctor?"
The TARDIS hummed softly at her, then showed her an image of the library. "Thank you."
She made her way down the corridors to the familiar room, then knocked on the door and waited.
The Doctor opened the door slowly and Saskia could feel his reluctance to do so even before she saw it in his face.
"Hello. I wondered if you wanted to come and have dinner with me?"
"I thought you didn't cook?" he asked.
"I don't."
"Are you inviting me to dinner so that I'll cook for you then?"
Saskia shook her head. "No. My colleague from the Museum, Luca, is coming over to catch up on my news and he'll cook."
"I don't think so, thank you." The Doctor's voice was stiffly courteous.
"Please yourself then," Saskia said, suddenly annoyed at his moodiness.
He flinched at her tone, opened his mouth to speak, then shut it again.
"What?" she demanded aggressively.
"Enjoy your meal," he said indifferently, then shut the door in her face.
She just managed to stop herself from flinging the door open and storming into the library after him. She glared at the door furiously, then turned and stalked back to the Control Room. She snatched up the box of groceries and hurried out the TARDIS, slamming the door behind her.

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