22 April 2007

Saskia's Trials - Prologue, Chapter 1 Part 1

WARNING: This is a very dark story.


Saskia lay helpless and terrified on a bed in the brain surgery unit. They had injected her with a muscle relaxant earlier, just enough to ensure she couldn't resist them or simply get up and run away. Unfortunately the muscle relaxant didn't stop her from thinking and now she lay on the bed knowing that it was far too late for the Doctor to do or say anything to save her from this. When they finally let her go from here in a few days the Saskia he knew would be gone, wiped out by some very precise surgery.

She thought back to the moment, just a few days ago, when her life had suddenly been wrenched very firmly out of her control and wished she had taken Jeff's advice. She and the Doctor had just come from a marvellous live performance of Elgar's Cello Concerto in London, back on old Earth. He had insisted on taking her to a performance after they had missed out on the concert in Oxford, and she had enjoyed every second of the evening's performance. They had decided to come to Einfuhlung for a few days of rest and relaxation, intending to catch up with Jeff and have their postponed lunch with Dr Karg. And that was when it had all gone spiralling horribly out of control until events had led her to this position, feeling helpless, terrified, very alone, and about to have radical brain surgery.

Chapter One

A few days earlier.

A blue Police Box materialised wheezily in a quiet side street in Valentia, Saskia's home city. Through the doors stepped a tall, skinny, brown-haired man dressed in a brown pinstripe suit, a shirt, a tie that wasn't properly done up, a long brown coat and a pair of beige Converse shoes. At his side was a slightly shorter, black-haired woman wearing navy trousers, a cream linen shirt, black leather boots and a long black overcoat. They looked about them for a moment then grinned hugely at each other.
"Come on then," the Doctor said, grabbing his Companion's hand in his own. "Let's go and wake Jeff."
"I doubt he'll be asleep," Saskia answered as they walked up the street hand in hand. "He's not quite the lark I am, but he doesn't usually lie in bed for half the morning, even during holidays."
"Is this a holiday period then?" the Doctor asked.
"Oh yes. We've arrived at the start of the week-long Spring Festival. There'll be a traditional fair set up down in the Leisure Quarter, and later in the week they'll have a big procession in which all the school children will take part."
"A fair?" asked the Doctor, his eyes brightening.
"Yes, you know the sort of thing. Noisy and/or frightening rides and electronic games, overpriced snack foods that invariably make young children throw up, and an amazing variety of ways to waste one's money."
The Doctor laughed loudly at her comments. "Saskia, you're so – serious," he gasped. "You sound like a disapproving old lady." He glanced sideways at her face and saw she wasn't amused by his teasing.
"I don't know what you mean," she said stiffly, letting go of his hand and walking away.
He grabbed her shoulders and turned her to face him, then put a long finger under her chin, lifting her face up to his. "I'm sorry," he said. "I'm being rude again." His deep brown eyes gazed down into her bright green ones. "I just meant that you're nearly always very serious and adult in your approach to life. It's not a bad thing. It's just – different."
Saskia blinked, breaking their gaze. "You mean I'm not like Rose," she said.
"No you're not. Of course you're not. You're two very different people, and you're a decade older than Rose. You've had a decade's worth of extra life and experience than Rose. And you've certainly been working longer than she had when I met her. Working in an academic environment too, which is bound to give you a different outlook on life."
"Makes me boring and stuffy, you mean?" Saskia asked as she turned away and strode off up the street towards her apartment.

The Doctor hurried after her. "That's not exactly what I meant," he said, catching up with her and stopping her again. "I know you can have fun. I haven't forgotten our impromptu horse races the first time we were in Oxford. And I know you had fun at that concert we attended a few hours ago."
"Yes I did," Saskia said, her eyes brightening a little at the memory.
"There you are then," the Doctor said. "You just need to loosen up a little now and again, that's all." He looked at her face. "You should smile more often," he said quietly. "You've got such a lovely smile and it lights up your whole face, makes you look much younger."
Saskia darted a swift look up at the Doctor's face, then went back to staring at her boots. She swallowed the lump that had suddenly formed in her throat, then turned away, unable to speak. She knew she wasn't pretty and she'd never really cared about it. She had known from a very early age that she would be a scholar, and brains mattered far more than looks where scholarship was concerned. It was only in the last few days that she'd begun to think about the fact that she wasn't pretty. She thought of the moment, a couple of days ago, when the Doctor had seen her wearing an evening dress for the first time: he'd looked stunned but appreciative. Saskia scowled unseeingly at the street. There was no point in thinking about such things: it was a waste of her time and energy. She focused her attention on the city again and crossed the road towards the apartment building where she lived when she wasn't travelling through Time and Space with the man beside her. She went up the steps, the Doctor behind her, and tapped in the entry code on the keypad by the door. She pushed open the door and crossed the hall to the lift. They stepped inside and the Doctor broke the silence that lay between them.
"I'm sorry," he said, looking at Saskia's downcast face.
She looked up. "It's OK," she said. "You were right in what you said."
The Doctor shrugged. "But not very tactful," he pointed out. "I shouldn't have called you an old lady."
The lift doors pinged then opened, and the two stepped out onto the fourth floor.
"Maybe not, but it doesn't matter."
The Doctor didn't believe that Saskia thought it didn't matter, but he didn't contradict her. They had come to Einfuhlung for some rest and relaxation, not for a row. Perhaps they could go to the fair and have some fun, he thought hopefully.

Saskia knocked on the door to her apartment, deciding that it would be more discreet than just letting them in since Jeff wasn't expecting them. The door opened and a stocky young man dressed in a green t-shirt and blue casual trousers stood blinking in surprise at them. His surprise quickly turned to a look of consternation.
"Jeff?" said the Doctor, wondering why he looked so alarmed at seeing them.
"What is it?" Saskia demanded as Jeff reached out a hand and grabbed her wrist, before pulling her inside. The Doctor followed them.
"We were hoping you wouldn't come back for a few years at least," Jeff said.
The Doctor raised his eyebrows. "We?"
"Dr Karg and I. You two can't stay here – on Einfuhlung, I mean."
"Why not?" asked the Doctor, wondering why Saskia was looking so shocked. He suddenly realised that she must have read Jeff's emotions, maybe even his thoughts, when he'd grabbed her wrist, and wondered what was going on. He reached out and grasped Saskia's hand. "What is it?"
Saskia looked as if she might faint. "The Council," she said, "they want to arrest me."
"Arrest you? Why would they want to arrest you?" asked the Doctor, growing even more puzzled. He glanced from Saskia's sheet-white face to Jeff's unnaturally pale one. "Please would one of you explain why the Council wants to arrest Saskia?" he asked, frustration and alarm making his voice sharper than usual. He guided Saskia over to the sofa and pushed her to sit down, then sat down beside her, holding her hands in both of his own.

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