22 April 2007

Saskia's Trials - Chapter 3 Part 4

The three men made their way to the benches along the wall opposite the doors and took seats. The Doctor stretched out his long legs and crossed his ankles. His hands were in his trouser pockets and he looked quite at ease, but Jeff could sense an undercurrent of anxiety that gave the lie to his cheerful smiles. They watched and waited as various people filed into the chamber, most of them opting to sit near the doors.
Finally a group of self-important looking men and women filed in and seated themselves in the chairs opposite the screen. Then Luca was led in by a surly-looking guard whom the Doctor recognised from the group who had arrested Saskia the day before. John led Saskia in a few moments later. She gave the Doctor one swift, darting glance, to which he responded with a cheeky wink, then she dropped her gaze again. John nodded an acknowledgement to the Doctor, who was glad to see him with Saskia.
They watched as Saskia was led to stand in a spot near the helmet-topped chair. Then the President of the Council entered. He was six foot tall with white hair, although he moved vigorously. He wore a midnight blue robe edged in gold, which the Doctor thought looked ridiculously ostentatious. Everyone in the chamber got to their feet whilst the President picked up a small gavel that he banged three times on the arm of his chair.
"This court is in session," he announced in a ringing voice. He sat down, as did everyone else except Saskia and John. The Doctor could see that she was trembling slightly and her face was sheet-white.
Be strong, he told her telepathically. She glanced quickly across at him, but did not respond.
The President addressed her. "Saskia Scolere, you are here today to be tried in the matter of the deaths of Professor Jackson and five of his men on or about the 15th Secundus, in the Dasleere Viertel region. You understand that the charges are brought against you by Luca Leerling?"
"I do." The Doctor noticed that there was a microphone in front of Saskia; he doubted that anyone would have heard her response otherwise, her voice was so quiet.
"We have been advised by the Elder, Dr Karg, that at the time of the deaths of these men you were still suffering the after-effects of an attack by a telepathic being called the Devron. We have been told that its preternatural abilities left you with an unnaturally high level of rage, for which you are still being treated. Do you confirm or deny this advice?"
"I confirm it." Saskia's voice was slightly louder this time.
"We now require you to show us your memories of the attack of the Devron and its effects on you. Will you comply?"
"I will." Saskia sat down in the chair beside her and allowed John to strap her wrists and forearms to its arms, then her ankles and shins were strapped to its legs. The Doctor stirred angrily in his seat, but Dr Karg laid a restraining hand on his arm. "It's OK," he said quietly. "They're not to hurt her, just to hold her still whilst she is sharing her memories."

The Doctor glowered, but did not protest, watching as John adjusted the helmet device until it completely encased Saskia’s head. He flicked a switch on the back of the chair, then stepped back, close enough to reach Saskia if she needed assistance.
A white dot appeared in the centre of the screen, then a picture came into focus. The Doctor watched as he and Saskia galloped across the Oxfordshire countryside towards a distant barn. Even though he knew what was going to happen next, he couldn't help wincing when Saskia and her horse Charlie screamed as the Devron attacked them. Charlie bolted and Saskia was flung off his back. The screen went black and the Doctor knew that she had been knocked out.
The picture reformed and the Doctor saw himself and Saskia seated on the bench in the TARDIS Control Room, talking and eating fish and chips.
"I'm sorry," said the Doctor in Saskia's memory.
Saskia looked at him in surprise. "Why are you sorry?" she asked. "You weren't thinking it."
"No, but I brought you here, and I got you involved in this. I'm the one who exposed you to a telepathic being who's been seriously messing with your head," the Doctor answered, his annoyance and frustration obvious in his face and voice.
"And I'm the one who volunteered," snapped the Saskia in her memory. "You offered to take me back home and I said I'd stay with you."
"Yes, but you didn't know what you were signing up for," argued the Doctor.
"Well I knew it wasn't going to be a tea-party!" Saskia's annoyance was very clear as she stood up abruptly. "You don't have to mollycoddle me!" she shouted before she stormed out of the Control Room.

The picture faded as Saskia hurried down a corridor in the TARDIS, then returned to Saskia opening her eyes to look up at the Doctor who was sitting on her bed, bending forward to hold her head.
"Oh thank goodness!" exclaimed the Doctor on the screen.
"What happened?" asked Saskia, sounding bewildered. “And who hit you?"
"Well you did, actually," answered the Doctor as he straightened up and smiled in relief.
"I did?" asked Saskia. "Why did I hit you?"
"Well you weren’t really yourself," said the Doctor as he took Saskia's hands in his own. "That beastie came back and objected to – something I did."
"What did you do?" asked Saskia.
"Erm, well, I tried to deactivate that artefact. It's emitting Psionic waves and I wanted to stop it."
"And the beastie objected?" Saskia asked, clearly suspicious.
"Well I got a couple of shocks from it when I tried to deactivate it electronically," said the Doctor, "So I, uh, took a more direct approach."
"What did you do?" demanded Saskia on the screen.
"Hit it with a rather large hammer, which didn't really work." The Doctor jerked his hands away from Saskia’s as she sat bolt upright in bed. There was a look of intense anger on her face.
"You idiot!" she said scornfully. "Are you trying to get me killed?"
"I just saved your life!" the Doctor protested, standing up as Saskia got out of bed.
"My life wouldn't have needed saving if you hadn't decided to use brute force and ignorance." she answered pointedly.
Saskia stalked out of her room and along the TARDIS corridor as the Doctor hurried after her. "How was I to know it was linked directly to you?" he asked.
Saskia stopped dead, turned and glared at him until he stepped backwards from her. "After all I've been through in the past two days, you couldn't figure that out, Doctor?"

The screen went blank again, for a longer period this time, and the Doctor guessed that Saskia was finding the next relevant memory. He glanced around the room and saw that most people were watching fascinated. To him it felt very odd seeing bits of his life on a screen, as if someone had been filming him without his knowledge. He shifted uncomfortably. Then the screen came to life again, showing the appearance of the Devron, which caused some whispers and mutters from some of those present. He watched and listened as Saskia's memories of their conversation with the Devron and its subsequent attack on them both unfolded. He felt a little jolt of shock when he saw himself collapse onto the grass under the Devron's assault, but he felt proud of Saskia as she defended him from the Devron.
The President spent two hours requesting more of Saskia's different memories to be shown including, finally, her memory of her use of the psychic projection of the Doctor to mislead Jackson and his three men into touching the door of the Rock Palace so that they were thrown to their deaths.
After that the President called for a 15 minute recess. The Doctor was on his feet immediately, intending to go to Saskia who looked utterly exhausted, but Jeff and Dr Karg immediately stopped him.
"You can't Doctor. It's not permissible for witnesses to interact with the accused whilst the trial is still underway."
"The more I learn of your justice system, the less I like it," the Doctor said angrily. He shrugged himself free of their grasp and stalked blindly out of the room, Jeff and Dr Karg following more slowly.

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