Doctor Who: The Internet Adventures - #9 REVOLUTION 9 Chapter 5 - "The Feminine Principal" by Becky Dowgiert Tim Matheson looked out into the night, shivering. The evening air was electric, alive with intimations of movement. Distant noises and faint moving lights were carried in on the breeze. Something happening over at the Institute, perhaps. He pulled up his jacket collar and turned back to his friends. Jill looked up. "Saw something, Tim?" "Nah." Plunking himself down on one of the benches ringing the fountain, he leaned back, his blond hair pale in the dim park lighting, and smiled at her and Hugh. "You going to make it to the concert this weekend?" "Yeah, I think so." "Thought you had a paper to do..." Jill pushed brown bangs off her forehead and snorted, narrowing her eyes at him. "You're a fine one to talk -- as I understand it, you're skipping a Biochem section right now." Tim grinned and shrugged. "Priorities, m'girl! I haven't seen enough of my friends lately." She rolled her eyes as she smiled, and he laughed, reveling in the warmth of their company. But moments later, he again shivered and glanced around uneasily. He couldn't get rid of the feeling that they were being watched... He stood up. "It's bloody cold out here. Let's go -- Evan and Carly've obviously stood us up." *** Nearby, brown eyes peered warily out from leafy cover. A slim woman was crouched behind the hedge running alongside the sidewalk, watching the chatting group of students. Sensitive ears picked up the distant crackle of com-links, the faint whirr of stealth helicopters behind her. They'd be here within minutes. She'd broken through the net her former captors were casting, but it was drawing close again. It was time to take a chance. *** "Right." Jill got up, sticking her hands in her sweater pockets. "They know where we're going -- they can meet us there." Hugh followed suite. They had taken several steps along the walkway, when the crackle of something pushing through the bushes nearby caused them to whirl. It was a woman. She stepped forth into the pool of light thrown by one of the park pathway's ornamental street lamps. Tim stared, astonished. She was young, but with tangled hair so pale it looked gray, and was wearing a simple light-green knee-length shift. Her legs, scratched and bruised, led the eye down to a pair of dirty bare feet. "Please," she said. "Take me with you." They gawped. She glanced over her shoulder, then back, her dark eyes widening in alarm. "Please! They're very close -- you must help me!" They looked at each other, then back at her. Hugh took a hesitant step forward. "Um, sure, miss. *Who's* chasing you?" The unease that had been growing in Tim began to peak. "Never mind, Hugh -- let's go!" Jill also looked unnerved. "D'you hear that?" she said, pointing into the darkness. "There's something out there!" For a moment the tableau held, as they stood frozen. Then Tim darted forward and grabbed the woman's hand. "Let's go!" he shouted again. They ran. *** The Brigadier checked her first impulse, which was to demand that the strangers explain who the hell they were and what they were doing interfering in a UNIT operation. This was definitely one of those 'Discretion is the better part of Valor' moments. The grizzled leader of the camouflaged band holding the UNIT soldiers at gunpoint strode up to Bambera and the Doctor. He then looked them up and down, paying particular attention to the man in the tan, multi-pocketed jacket. "Well, if it isn't the Great White Hunter," the man sneered quietly, stepping closer. "I've heard about you," he told the Time Lord. The Doctor looked back, his earlier anger subsumed in the intensity of his gaze. "Have you?" he said softly in return. "Somehow I was expecting someone taller." "Sorry to disappoint you." "Oh, no, not at all." Stepping back, the soldier raised his voice to carry around the clearing. "UNIT's participation in this search is no longer necessary." Even as Bambera opened her mouth to demand an explanation, he went on. "I just received word that the missing patient has been found and returned to a secure facility." He looked at Bambera, then pointedly at the Doctor. "As you now know, the object of your search was not who you thought it was." The UNIT personnel scattered around the clearing all looked to Bambera. "I see. And who do we have to thank for this information?" she asked very carefully, holding her emotions in check. "The patient was involved in a matter of Internal Security, and never was under your jurisdiction. The details needn't concern you." The Brigadier's eyes narrowed. M16? The Directorate? Black Air? "So that's it? Just 'go home'?" The un-named soldier looked stonily back at her. "Yes." For a few seconds she stared at him, expressionless, the thinning line of her lips the only sign of her rage. Even as she was opening her mouth to demand his name and rank, he turned and strode away, raising a hand. "Move out!" he snapped to his men. Bambera blinked. Five seconds later the commandos were gone as if they had never been, the clearing empty except for UNIT personnel. And one Time Lord, who was staring hard off to the northeast, towards the lights of the town center and the attendant University buildings. *** "AAAIIIEEEEEEE!!!!" Anticipating the scream didn't help, Angela reflected, wincing as the hotel patrons who'd been waiting for the lift, only to see the doors open onto a scene out of a cheap horror flick, scattered away down the red-carpeted hallway. "Kuldor, come *on*!" Angela shouted, taking charge of the situation and her alien comrade's disintegrating prospects. "Pull yourself together and let's go!" She threw out a hand and stalled the lift at that floor. Too late. Kuldor was literally going to pieces. Angela stepped back, nauseated, as the Rutan, unable to contain the struggling human, flowed down around him to the floor. The boy let out a strangled gasp, buckled forward as the Rutan fell away, and vomited out something gelatinous. Angela finally lost what lunch she'd been able to get down earlier that day. She managed to get most of it all over Morok's boots. Tipping forward, his face contorted, the boy fell sprawling onto the car's floor, then writhed his way blindly forward and out into the hallway. Angela peeked out. The boy's eyes were screwed shut and he was gasping for air. For a sick instant Angela wondered if much of Kuldor was still inside him, and shuddered, glancing behind at the reintegrating Rutan. Was there less bulk there than usual? She hesitated, looking quickly from the boy to the recovering alien and back again. Kuldor was shaken; now was a chance for her to make a run for it. She should go with the boy; help him. She owed him that; he was one of her kind. Even Morok would be a better companion than a renegade Rutan with obscure motives... Angela came to a decision and stepped out of the lift. The boy's respiratory distress seemed less as she crouched down at his side. "Hey, you okay?" His eyes opened, and he looked up wildly, not really focusing on her. "Wha--?" he croaked. "Don't worry. You'll be all right. I think," she added. He seemed to see her now, and his face contorted. "You--" Damn; he must remember her from when he'd stumbled into his room and been stunned by Kuldor. "You're... pretty..." Angela blinked, then rolled her eyes. "Great. Can you walk? We've got to get out of here!" "Whaa happened?" "You were inside a Rutan. You'll get over it." She helped the dazed boy to his feet. "What's your name?" she asked him. His head wobbled. "Wil," he muttered. "Wil Young." *A truer word was never spoken*, Angela reflected, taking a moment to indulge in cynicism. *Getting stinking drunk and mixed up with plotting Rutans...* She winced internally. *So what's _your_ excuse, Ferris?* "Misss Ferrisss..." Biting back a curse, she glanced over her shoulder, still occupied with helping Young stay upright. Kuldor had reformed and was approaching her, back in his previous gaunt form. "Goiiing somewhere?" "Just helping the boy," she shot back. What she got for sticking around, instead of leaving when she'd had the chance... "People will be here any minute -- we've got to leave!" "That is of no consequence. Our time here grows short -- we need you to perform the function for which you were hired. *Now*." Unnerved, Angela stared back at the Rutan's implacable dark 'eyes'. He must've been communing with his fellow conspirators. "Why? What happened?" "In a little under twelve hours, this planet will be sterilized of all organic lifeforms, presumably by the alien ships now in orbit above Paradise. News of this has been broadcast all over the planet. The people panic -- none will think now to interfere with us." Angela swallowed hard. "Look, Kuldor... Maybe you and your friends should just cut your losses and ge--" "No. We shall carry out our plan as we discussed. We go now." He didn't even glance at the two men. "Leave them." Wil slumped to the ground as she let go. He blinked up at the two figures as they hurried away and disappeared around the corner, the frighteningly-skinny gray man keeping a hand clamped around the right arm of the woman. Wil's head swiveled around as a groaned curse came from the lift car. Somebody tumbled out of it to land on the floor with a loud *thud*. The scruffy fellow, with a shock of brown hair and dressed in spacer leathers, levered himself up on his elbows, put his head in his hands, and let loose with a colorful string of epithets. "Ferrriiiis!" he then bellowed, raising his head. "You can run, but you can't hide!" *** "Anything, Nighthawk?" "Negative. Four-Six-One has not been sighted. Proceeding to sector 8--" There was a pause. "Wait -- picking something up on infrared. Four signatures; three human, and... This could be it; fourth reading matches with 461. Ground units move in and intercept. Sector seven." *** For all her disheveled condition, the woman seemed to be keeping up the pace easily as they sprinted through the park, heading for the more populated and lighted streets of town. And in bare feet, yet. Tim kept a tight grip on her hand as they ran. He glanced back at her, and brown eyes met his. "We need to get to a public place," she told him. "Those searching for me want what they're doing kept secret; that I know." "Where're you from, the Institute?" Hugh demanded, sounding winded. "Most recently. But I'm usually kept in another, more secure facility." Tim saw Hugh and Jill exchange worried glances, their pace slowing somewhat. "She's not crazy!" he surprised himself by blurting out, then blushed. The woman shot him a rueful look, then tugged on his arm, forcing him to halt. The other two students stopped, staring at her with wary expectation. "Look," she said earnestly, "we haven't much time, but I'll try to explain. I'm not certain where I truly belong, but I know it isn't in there. I'm not crazy! They're trying to manipulate my mind; control me!" Hugh plastered a placating smile on his face. "Okay... What's your name, miss?" She frowned. "They... come and go, my memories. Due to the 'treatments', perhaps. I've been known by several names. I recall... a promise..." She looked up, a faint smile gracing her lips. "Call me Beatrice. Bea if in haste." "Okay, Bea," Tim smiled. "We'll take you to hospital -- the campus infirmary. Then we'll sort this all out." "No -- that's one of the first places they'll look! It might help if I could get through to UNIT..." Her voice trailed off and she frowned as if confused, before her head snapped up again. "I need some proper clothes, and access to a phone. Come on!" Yanking on Tim's hand, she urged them into a run again. *** Camouflaged soldiers sprinted across the park grounds, closing in on the four running figures. One of the commandos raised a comlink. "Townies, this is Big Cheese. Come in." "Big Cheese, this is Townie One, over." "I want you ready in case 461 makes it out of the park." "Confirmed. Ready in town. Over." *** Jill broke stride and stopped, leaning forward and taking big gulps of air. "Okay, Tim--!" she gasped, as the others realized she'd fallen behind and stopped to look. "Enough's enough! It's been a great joke and all, but I've done all the running I'm gonna do tonight!" Tim blinked as Hugh looked at him darkly. "Look, I'm not doing anything! If it's a joke, it isn't being played by me!" "We haven't got time for this!" Beatrice shouted. "What I told you was no joke!" The next instant her head snapped up, and she stared into the night sky, her eyes wide with dismay. "Oh, no..." Following her gaze, Tim gawped. There was something hanging in the sky above them, a dark silhouette hovering there with the faintest *whirr*. The next instant he yelped, as Bea threw herself forward, almost yanking his arm out of its socket. Following the path of least resistance, he went with her. Hearing shouts behind him, he turned his head to see what was happening to his friends. Other shapes were emerging from the darkness behind them. He saw Hugh grab Jill's hand, saw them turn to follow him and Bea. Saw them crumple to the ground. And lie still. Every stride took him farther away from his friends. His head swiveled back around, as he drew in an exquisitely painful lungful of air, and screamed. *** Several figures halted by the two bodies as others sprinted on by. One raised a comlink, reported the event, then nodded. "Regular procedure sir; right." Bending down, he opened a pocket, removed a small plastic bag, then transferred it to the jacket pocket of one of the students. Standing back up, he said, "It was drug related. Arrange the usual cover story." They melted back into the night. *** Upon recovering enough to stand, Jadi Morok became *really* surly. "What's your involvement in all this?" he demanded of the dun- headed boy, who was scrambling to his feet, looking confused and frightened. The bounty hunter loomed over him, not that much taller, but much better-versed in the fine art of intimidation. "Right; I want to know where Ferris is, and I want to know *now," he growled, punctuating this with a steely glare. The boy raised hands in an appeasing gesture. "Look, I don't know who you're talking about -- I just got back to the real world myself!" "What in blazes are you talking about?!" "The last thing I remember is going back to my room -- then something hit me! And then I couldn't breathe, like something was all over and inside me!" He gave a mighty shudder. "Worst feeling in the world. Then I woke up out here, with you!" Jadi stared at him, eyes narrowed. He seemed genuinely distressed. Ferris and her alien accomplice with the built-in mule-kick stunner must've knocked him for a loop, too. "Which way did they go?!" The boy pointed down the hallway. "Thanks," Jadi grunted, then strode away in pursuit. "Wait!" Jadi looked over his shoulder. The boy was staring at him beseechingly. "Do you have a way to get off-planet?" he called. Jadi's eyes narrowed. "Yeah. Why?" "Oh, just that this planet isn't going to be around for very much longer!" The kid's voice had taken on a familiar hysterical quality, and Jadi suddenly realized where he knew him from. The kid in the bar... "Look, find somewhere to sleep it off, okay? I'm busy." He turned away. The boy's complaints continued to rise behind him as he made his way briskly down the hallway. "No, it's true! Take me with you -- I'll pay you!" Jadi didn't deign to look. "The Doctor wouldn't have dropped me off here if he'd known this was going to happen, but then he never came to pick me up, and..." Jadi froze, then spun on a heel to stare. "Did you say 'The Doctor'?!" he demanded. "The one with the blue box?" "Y-yeah, the Doctor. Why, do you know him?" Jadi strode back to the wibbling boy, and stared at him, paying more attention this time. "What's your name, kid?" "Wil. Gwilym Young." "What do you have to do with the Doctor?" "Well, I've been traveling with him; he gave me a lift, uh, after I--" He was interrupted by Morok's guffaw. Traveling with the Doctor? No wonder the kid was so messed up. He looked at Young with a tad of sympathy. "So, he said he'd meet you here, but never did?" Wil peered at him suspiciously. "How do *you* know him? Who are you, anyway?" Jadi grinned proudly. "Jadi Morok, bounty hunter. I once caught him in the Deremar system, him and a friend of his, one Grace Holloway. She was quite a looker. She still with him?" "Erm, no. She went off with some other guy named Braxiatel, I think." Wil peered at Morok skeptically. "He agreed to pay me triple the original amount of the bounty if I didn't bring him in. Never did get my money, though..." He grinned, and clapped Wil on the shoulder as the boy winced. "Maybe you should stick with me, kid -- then, when the Doc shows up, I can remind him how he owes me those mazumas..." "That's just it -- he was supposed to pick me up days ago. He never showed. I know something's wrong." Wil spoke with flat certainty. "And this planet is going to be destroyed." "Oh, yeah? How do *you* kno-- Oh." "Actually, he didn't tell me -- I read it in one of his books." Jadi opened his mouth, a strange expression on his face. "*After* he dropped me off." Jadi blinked. "Oh. And him a no-show. Tough break, kid." He started to walk. "So you'll give me a ride?" Wil asked, keeping pace at his side. Jadi looked sidelong at him. "I'm not a taxi service. I tell you what -- you help me bring in Ferris, and I'll give you a lift." Wil gaped. "Forget the bounty -- let's just get out of here!" "That's the deal, kid -- take it or leave it. No help, no ride." *** Brigadier Bambera cursed. The Doctor had disappeared, fading into the darkness immediately after the mysterious commandos had, leaving behind only the cryptic "Not now, Brigadier -- I've some hunting to do!" *** Timothy Matheson ran blindly, his eyes screwed shut against the nightmare around him. Beatrice led the way now, her steps fleet and sure, her grasp on his hand firm but cool. They burst out of the park's gates, startling a couple of evening strollers as they sprinted across the street without slowing. A horn blared in protest as they darted in front of a car, then plunged into the town proper. One of the strollers watched them go, noting their direction, then raised something to her mouth. *** "Stop... Please..." Beatrice slowed to a trot. By this time, they were in the small district of restaurants and take-away shops that bordered the University grounds. The light cast by the occasional streetlamps and warmly-lit shop windows accented the darkened streets as townsfolk and students passed by on their evening errands. Craning her neck and peering all around, Bea finally slowed to a walk. "We've made it this far," she exclaimed, turning to Tim, her eyes shining. "Now we've got a fighting chance!" Tim was gasping and shaking his head. He stopped, yanking his hand out of her grasp. "What...have you *done*?!" Beatrice took a step towards him, then stopped as he held up a hand. "No," he rasped, his face twisting. "I don't know who you are -- those people, whoever they were, just *killed* my friends back there, I know it! My God!" He stared, eyes wide in shock, no longer seeing her or his surroundings. The next moment he blinked as his companion took his head in her hands. He found himself looking deep into sympathetic brown eyes. Such a young face, surrounded by waves of steel-gray hair. And those eyes... "Tim, I share your grief for your friends. I was so hoping that this sort of thing could be avoided." She removed her hands, and he blinked again, shaking his head slightly. His incipient hysteria had mysteriously drained away... She took his hand in hers, and began to lead him down a quiet side street, past an Indian take-away shop from which the smell of curry wafted. Dazed, he went with her. "But we have to keep moving," she continued. "I'm afraid that you're in great danger, now that they know that you've helped me. They don't dare pursue us as openly here in town, but they're still out there. They may use the constabulary, or your campus security..." A figure appeared at the end of the street, blocking the way, then began to advance towards them without haste. Beatrice halted, staring with narrowed eyes at the darkly-garbed man. "Or quite ordinary-looking people. Come on." They retraced their steps back to the restaurant, and Tim followed Bea up the steps and inside. Several patrons' heads turned, taking in her odd clothing and bare feet. "Oi!" the twenty-something Indian behind the counter exclaimed. "No bare feet in here!" Beatrice flashed a charming smile at him. "I'm sorry, but we're not staying to eat. Could you show us the back exit, please? It's a matter of life and death."