06 March 2007

The Desert of Einfuhlung - Chapter 4, Part 3

The Doctor was surprised when Saskia grabbed his hand and pulled him down towards the ground, just as a mighty thunderclap resounded around the courtyard. Four abruptly cut off screams followed as the four men were thrown across the courtyard and through the archway.

Saskia leant back against the wall, her face grey and her eyes dull with exhaustion.
The Doctor knelt beside her, gripping her shoulders. "What did you do?" he demanded furiously. He shook her in his anger and fright. She reached up and gripped his wrists, but didn't try to pull his hands away.
"Psychic projection," she whispered.
"I created a psychic projection of you, to fool them into thinking you knew how to get into the palace without anyone getting hurt. But because it wasn't really you, and because they were greedy, the Guardian threw them out."
"You killed them!" the Doctor protested.
Saskia looked at him defiantly. "Their greed killed them," she answered.
"But they wouldn't have approached the doors again if you – if I – hadn't encouraged them."
"They would have eventually. Jackson would have made each of them try the doors in turn. Then he would have forced you to take him inside. This was the only way to stop him and to protect the Grimoire."
The Doctor gave her an unfathomable look, then got to his feet. "I'm going to put the Grimoire back," he said flatly.
Saskia nodded. "I'll wait for you out there," she said, gesturing at the archway.

The Doctor turned away without answering. As he headed back to the central chamber of the palace, his emotions and thoughts were in turmoil at what had happened. He hadn't suspected Saskia could be so utterly ruthless. He thought of Rose and the way she had stood up to his previous self over the lone Dalek they'd found. Then he remembered how she had destroyed the Daleks at Satellite 5. Was Saskia really so different from Rose? And if she was, could he accept it? As he replaced the Grimoire in its hollow, the Doctor remembered his previous self ordering Mickey to fire a missile at Downing Street, wiping out all but one of the Slitheen. Then he remembered his own destruction of the Krillitane.
He made his way back out of the palace and across the courtyard in a thoughtful mood. As he stepped out of the archway he saw Saskia waiting for him, leaning against the TARDIS. He stopped dead, his mouth hanging open yet again. He snapped it shut, opened it again to speak, then shut it again, unsure which question to ask first.
"We'd better go inside," he said finally. He walked across the sand to the TARDIS and pulled out his key. He didn't speak to or even look at Saskia as he went inside and headed for the console. The TARDIS hummed a friendly greeting at him. He stroked a hand across the console, then turned to look at Saskia, who was leaning against the TARDIS doors, giving him a look that combined fear and misery.

"I need a cup of tea," he said abruptly. "Come and explain everything that's happened since I left you with Jeff.
Saskia pushed herself away from the TARDIS doors and trailed after him to the kitchen. She found him filling the kettle.
"Sit down," he said, his manner still abrupt. He began getting out the mugs and other things necessary for making tea.
Saskia slid into a chair, folded her arms on the table, and rested her head on them.
The Doctor made the tea in silence, his emotions in turmoil yet again, and his head full of questions. He badly wanted to shout and rant, his sense of confusion and frustration were so strong, but he restrained himself. He made the tea and placed one mug in front of Saskia. He sat down on the opposite side of the table and folded his arms across his chest.
Saskia looked up and he saw her gulp when she caught sight of his face. She clasped the mug of tea in both hands, then began to explain how she had waited with Jeff for the Doctor to return with the TARDIS until she realised that she couldn't sense the Doctor, but she could still sense the TARDIS. She told him how she had called the paramedics, then gone to the TARDIS, who had shown her the Doctor being ambushed.
"She showed me that you were being taken to Eupatoria, and as I was wondering how to get here to find you, she brought me here," Saskia said, her eyes still fixed on the mug she clutched.
"Go on." The Doctor's voice was harsh.
"We arrived here before you, but we landed a few miles away from where Jackson set up camp. I waited, then trekked across the dunes until I found the camp. I was able to find your mind even though I couldn't sense the minds of Jackson or his men. They're not native Empathians, so they aren't empathic nor very sensitive to telepathy. That's how they were able to jump Jeff and you." Saskia glanced up at the Doctor, whose face was impassive, then went back to staring at her empty mug.
She explained that she had realised that she could overhear Jackson's conversation with him, and that she could see "through" the Doctor's eyes. She had gone back to the TARDIS as soon as they had all gone through the archway, and brought the TARDIS to Jackson's camp, determined to intervene.

"How did you know where the Grimoire was?" the Doctor asked.
"After you went to fetch the TARDIS, I telepathically linked with Jeff. I wanted to see if I recognised his attackers. When Jackson mentioned Delmoro to you, I realised I knew everything that Jeff did about the Grimoire. He'd passed on his memories to me, without either of us being aware of it."
"You said that's what the Devron's race does," the Doctor said suddenly. "They pass on their memories to their descendants."
Saskia nodded. "Yes they do. It seems that the Devron passed on a lot more than just its increased telepathic powers when I was fighting with it."
"Including an ability to create psychic projections of people."
"Yes, that too," Saskia answered wearily.
"I need to think about this," The Doctor said, getting to his feet. "You should go and get some rest. We'll talk again later." He strode out of the kitchen towards the Control Room.

Saskia got up slowly and went to her room. She lay down on her bed and sobbed for some time, convinced that the Doctor would not let her travel with him again. Eventually she fell asleep. When she woke up several hours later, she found the Doctor sitting beside her bed. She sat up.
"Better?" he asked softly.
She nodded, surprised that he was there, and equally surprised by his softer manner. He moved to perch on the edge of her bed, and held out his arms to her wordlessly. She leaned into his hug. He kissed the top of her head. "I'm sorry about earlier," he said.
"It's OK," Saskia answered, her voice muffled because her face was pressed against his chest. She moved her head and rested it on his left shoulder. "You were shocked."
"And angry. And frightened," he said.
Saskia lifted her head to look at his face. "Frightened?"
He nodded. "Your new – abilities – frightened me rather. As did you ruthlessness towards Jackson and his men. Your actions reminded me too much of some of my own actions over the years, and it was painful. And I didn't know you had it in you to be that ruthless."
"But I'll learn to live with that, with you, if you still want to travel with me, that is."
"Do you want me to? I thought you had gone off the idea a bit."
The Doctor cupped her face in his hands and stared into her green eyes. "I'd rather have you than almost anyone else," he said.
"Thank you."

"We should go and see Jeff," the Doctor said.
"And Luca," Saskia said.
"Luca? Why him?"
"He's the only other person who knew we were interested in Jackson. I think he told Jackson we were at the Museum, and that's why Jackson's thugs attacked Jeff. And kidnapped you. Luca must have known we'd see the papers about Jeff's research and that we'd want to talk to Jeff himself."
The Doctor nodded. "Then we'll go and see them both." He got up.
"I'm just going to get changed," Saskia said.
He turned at the door. "Not fond of desert gear?" he asked, grinning.
"Not really!" she answered. He went out and she changed back into her usual linen shirt and black trousers.

The TARDIS dematerialised in the same side street near the Museum as before. Saskia stepped out through the doors and the Doctor followed.
"Is it too early?" he asked. "I've lost track of time."
Saskia shook her head. "It's 8 am. Luca will be in the office by now."
They went down the street to the Museum and Saskia let them into the corridor that led to her office. They walked down it quietly, then she grasped the Doctor's hand.
"Luca is in Philip's office," she said.
"Do you want to speak to him on his own?"
"No. Philip needs to know what sort of man he has working for him," she answered.
They paused outside the door to Philip's office.
"Any word yet?" Philip asked.
"None," answered Luca. "It'll probably take them a while to find the Grimoire, then they have to get back here – that's a three hour flight. I'll only start to worry if we haven't heard from them by tonight."
Saskia exchanged a swift look with the Doctor, then threw open the door.
"It's too late to worry," she snarled.
Both men looked up in surprise at her abrupt entrance.
"Saskia! I was just saying to Philip – "
"I know what you were just saying Luca, I heard. And I repeat, it's too late to worry. Jackson's dead, and so are his men. The Grimoire is safe in the rock palace still. And you are in very deep trouble. Both of you."
The Doctor suddenly found himself very glad that Saskia was on his side. He glared at the two men, both of them looked very silly with their mouths hanging open in surprise.

"Why?" Saskia asked. "Why did you send Jackson's thugs after Jeff?"
"Why do you think?" Luca asked, contempt in his face and voice. "I didn't want him blabbing to you."
"Luckily for you, Jackson's thugs didn't kill him, so I was able to find out what had happened. Which means I'm not going to kill you."
Luca got to his feet. "You?" he sneered. "You wouldn't dare – "
Saskia snapped a punch at him with her right hand, and sent him crashing to the floor. Philip suddenly reached for his videophone, but the Doctor was quicker. He pointed his Sonic Screwdriver at the videophone and it popped loudly, then began to smoke.
"You're both history," Saskia said. She turned to the Doctor. "We should tie them up, then I'll call the Council."
The Doctor looked at the two men. "Ring the Council from your office," he said. "I'll keep an eye on them."
Saskia nodded, then went next door to her own office.
"You're lucky I'm here," the Doctor told Philip. "You've made a real enemy of Saskia."

Saskia came back into the office. "They're on the way," she said. "I called the Museum's security staff too. As soon as they get here, we'll get going. I can't stand to spend one more minute with scum like this. I never knew you were so greedy."
The Doctor saw Philip wince at Saskia's contemptuous words. There was a knock at the door and Saskia opened it, speaking to the men outside. They came into the office, and Saskia went out into the corridor, the Doctor close behind. "Let's go and see Jeff," he said.
Saskia nodded. She walked a few paces up the corridor, then turned to the Doctor.
"Am I as bad as them?" she asked miserably.
The Doctor looked at her in puzzlement. "Of course not," he answered. "Why would you think that?"
"Because I resorted to anger and violence," she said.
The Doctor pulled her into a hug. "You did what was necessary, but no more. I know you could have seriously hurt Luca, if you'd tried, but you didn't. So don't beat yourself up over it." He rubbed her back. "Come on, let's go and see Jeff, then we'll go and look for somewhere quiet to spend a few days."
"OK." Saskia brushed away her unshed tears, and they left the Museum hand in hand.

They didn’t stay long at the hospital. Jeff seemed quite surprised to hear that Luca and Philip had been indirectly responsible for the beating he'd received, and was subdued when Saskia told him that Jackson and his thugs were dead. She suggested that he move into her apartment once he was out of hospital, so he could keep an eye on it for her.
"Are you sure?" he asked in surprise.
"Quite sure. It's much nicer than the lodgings you've been staying in. And I want to know that someone I trust is looking after it for me. I'll let Mrs Ponder know you'll be staying there. She'll probably want to mother you."
Jeff smiled faintly. "That might be nice."
"Take care of yourself, then. I'll be back at some point, I promise." She leant forward and kissed him.
Jeff looked dazed as they left.

"I notice you didn't tell him how Jackson and his thugs died," the Doctor said as they headed to Saskia's apartment so that she could pick up a few things.
"He didn't need to know," she answered. "He doesn't need that on his conscience, not when it's already on mine."
They took the lift up to Saskia's apartment and the Doctor stood out on the balcony as Saskia packed a bag, and wrote a note for Mrs Ponder. Then she rang Dr Karg and put off their lunch date, giving him a brief explanation of events. She joined the Doctor on the balcony, slipping her arm through his.
"I just spoke to Dr Karg."
The Doctor looked down at her, sensing that she was sad about something. "What is it?"
"The Devron is dead."
He blinked. "Did he say how it died?"
She nodded. "It broke into the pharmacy last night and took an overdose. Dr Karg thinks it knew that its mind was breaking down."
"Even though it caused us a lot of trouble, I wouldn't have wished that on it," the Doctor said.
"Nor me."
They stood in silence for a few minutes.
"Ready?" he asked.
She nodded. "As long as you're sure you want me to come with you?"
"I want you," the Doctor answered.


Anonymous said...


I'm trying to be objective and not overly critical.

This still has potential. You write well and show the ability to build a good plot but you are still straying into the realms of soap opera and daytime TV drama.

This is an improvement on story one and hopefully that improvement will continue into story three.


Michele said...

Funny you should mention straying into daytime TV drama and soap opera since I stopped watching either kind of show a very long time ago...

Story 3's not the best I've written - though I've tried to continue to develop Saskia's character in it. I rather rushed to finish the third one as I wanted to get the fourth story out of my head. I'm planning to go back and re-write the end of the third story at a later date.