15 April 2007

Oxford Ostinato - Chapter 4 Part 1

The Doctor went to make himself a cup of tea once he and the TARDIS had finished analysing the data he had got from the dead cellist. He was half way to the kitchen when he realised that Saskia hadn't come back yet from her run and she had been gone at least an hour. He abandoned the idea of tea and went to the Control Room instead. He found that the scanner screen on the console was still showing the map of the local area that Saskia had been looking at earlier. He walked over to the doors and stuck his head outside, wondering if she was coming along the road. As he turned to go back inside, after failing to spot her, he caught a faint voice in the back of his mind.
Saskia? He strained his senses, but couldn't place her. He hurried over to the console and reached out again with the help of the TARDIS.
Doctor. Can you hear me? I've been locked up. Saskia's mental voice was faint and held an anxious note. The Doctor pulled on his overcoat and rushed out of the TARDIS, locking the door, then hurried along the road, pausing occasionally to listen again.
Saskia, I'm coming, but where are you?
Near the river, I think. Her voice was still faint, so the Doctor ran along the road then out onto the towpath. Saskia! Keep talking or I won't be able to find you.
I'm in a basement, she said. The same one that I saw in my nightmare.
I'm sorry, Saskia.
There are four men here. The boss is a bit odd. You shouldn't let the fact that he's nearly a cripple distract you from the fact he's also full of rage and hate. And seriously dangerous.
What's his name? asked the Doctor.
The Doctor noticed that Saskia's voice sounded stronger. I must be getting closer to you, I can hear you more clearly now, he said.
I think they're going to come back and talk to me again in a few minutes, Saskia said. Although they're having a blazing row at the moment. She listened intently to the babble of voices upstairs. Oh!
What is it? the Doctor asked.
They're talking about Marie's death. It seems to have made the boss really mad.
The Doctor spotted a gate and ran across to it. He tried it and it swung open. He went through the gate quietly, knowing Saskia was somewhere nearby and not wanting to advertise his presence.
I'm nearby, he told her.
Good. They're coming back downstairs, so the sooner you get here, the better. I'm not keen on being strapped to this hospital bed for much longer.
What? Why didn't you tell me they'd done that to you? The Doctor moved quickly and quietly across the garden into which the gate had opened. He saw a house ahead of him. I've found the house. Are you sure all Inglesham's men are with you now?
I think so, Saskia answered.
OK. I'm going to let myself into the house now. Just hold on. The Doctor reached out and tried the door he had found. It was unlocked, so he eased it open and crept silently inside.

Saskia looked up as Inglesham and his men entered the basement. Stan came to stand by the head of the bed, the man whom she had seen with him in her nightmare stood at its foot, and Inglesham slowly made his way across the room to stand near the head of the bed. The fourth man remained standing by the door, but looking into the room. Saskia quickly relayed the positions of the four men to the Doctor as Inglesham looked down at Saskia.
"What do you know of the death of the cellist last night?" he asked her.
"It was a sudden and unexpected death, yet she didn't have any symptoms of heart disease," Saskia answered. "What do you know of it?"
"That is no business of yours," Inglesham said coldly.
"I can't say that I agree with you," Saskia said.
"It does not matter whether or not you agree. The matter is no concern of yours, and once I have found out what you know, I will dispose of you."
"Oh I wouldn't do that, if I were you," said a voice from the doorway, causing Saskia a surge of relief that the Doctor had arrived.
Inglesham looked across at the tall, wiry man who stood in the doorway. He saw the man was wearing a blue pinstripe suit with a dark tie and a pale blue shirt, a long brown coat and beige coloured boots. He seemed to dominate the entire room, somehow.
The Doctor focused his gaze solely on the face of the man who was standing over Saskia. The man wore a look of burning rage and hatred, the intensity of which the Doctor had not seen on anyone's face for many years.
"You must be this doctor in whom this young woman has so much faith."
"That's me. Hello." The Doctor grinned cheerily and waved at the men standing around Saskia. He winked at Saskia, who smiled back, cheered by his irreverence. She knew Inglesham found it irritating and didn't hesitate to tell the Doctor so telepathically, knowing he would try to use it to keep Inglesham off-balance.
Inglesham frowned. "Where's my other man?" he asked abruptly.
"Just taking a nap, he was feeling a bit sleepy," the Doctor answered as he sauntered casually into the room, his hands in his trouser pockets. "My turn to ask a question. What did you do to Marie Roberts, cellist with the City of Oxford Orchestra?"
"What business is it of yours?" asked Inglesham, his tone icy again.
"She died of a heart attack last night, which she shouldn't have had since her heart was quite healthy. So what did you and your men do to her that caused her to have a heart attack? We know she was here."
"She helped me a little experiment I've been making," answered Inglesham. "Her death was an unfortunate side effect."
"An unfortunate side effect?" queried the Doctor, his previously cheerful tone now as icy as Inglesham's. "You really don't care, do you?"
"You are mistaken Doctor. I care that she is dead since I cannot repeat my experiment."
Saskia knew then that Inglesham had just lost any concessions the Doctor might have made for him. The Doctor's eyebrows had shot up and a look of disdain settled on his face. "And what is this experiment of yours?" he asked, his voice dangerously soft.

Inglesham shrugged. "I see no reason not to tell you. You have no power or authority to stop me. I am creating human clones."
A look of surprise and disbelief settled on both Saskia's and the Doctor's faces. "Impossible!" exclaimed the Doctor. "Humanity doesn't succeed in creating viable human clones for decades yet."
Inglesham frowned. "How could you know that?"
"I'm a Time Lord," answered the Doctor. "I know all about the future development of humanity. So who, or what, are you, if you've succeeded in cloning humans?"
"I am a Malquet from Ceritin."
"How did you get here?" asked the Doctor.
"I was travelling across this galaxy when my ship was caught in a plasma storm and knocked to Earth, several years ago. My stasis chamber was damaged, which resulted in my ageing process being accelerated unnaturally."
"So you've been experimenting in the hope of creating a new, younger and healthier version of yourself?" the Doctor said, with a look of understanding.
"But why did you clone a musician? Was she the only one you've created?" asked the Doctor.
"No. I've created two more."
"Steve and Martin," Saskia interrupted. "The clarinettist and the violinist who went missing for 24 hours."
"How do you know that?" demanded Inglesham, his expression darkening.
"Oh we talked to them last night, after Marie died," said the Doctor. "We were told they were all friends, so we spoke to them. They told us they had lost 24 hours of their lives. I suppose your man over there abducted them?" The Doctor nodded at the man at the foot of the bed where Saskia still lay strapped. The Doctor flicked her a glance. He knew she was desperate to be free, but she knew as well as he did that they had to find out as much as they could about what had happened to the musicians.

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