Doctor Who Internet Adventure #18 - "Ticket to Writhe"

Chapter 7
"Seventh Heaven"
by Rebecca Dowgiert


"If we don't get out of here soon," Angel says hurriedly, "we may not get out alive."

       She blinks, staring suddenly at nothing any of the others can see.

       Except the Doctor, perhaps. He peers at her intently, such focus incongruous, considering the miserable state he's still in. Most people in his condition would be, well...*dead*.

       "I mean you may not get out alive," she amends.

       Jadi's eyes narrow. He's finally starting to get tetchy, that unwelcome feeling of out-of-control as events degrade around him. "What're you going to do, then — fly away and leave us in the lurch?"

       A mistake. Angel looks at him, and her gaze arrows right through him.

       The Doctor coughs, distracting everyone. Blood trickles from the corner of his mouth as he says: "Perhaps at this point, discretion would be the better part of valour..."

       Instantly his companions bend over him, all concern. Except for Angel. She stands slightly apart, watching their ministrations for a few moments, then turning her attention to the distant whisper of the scurrying rats desecrating the tunnels of her domain.

       A few minutes later they're moving. Jadi has managed to lift the Doctor in a modified form of what most humans would call a 'fireman's carry'. The Time Lord doesn't protest when the bounty hunter tells him he's not walking anywhere. Jadi's sorry he couldn't rescue him; the least he can do is let the man carry him. He needs to concentrate on his thoughts, anyway.

       River follows, moving with coiled tension. Back together, after all this time... Right into the thick of things, as usual. Feels like she's never been gone, barring the new fellow companions and the new shell for her old friend.

       Angel drifts up ahead on bare feet, leading the way to the more protected areas of her domain.

* * *

Anatoli tilts his head, peering at the man who slumps before him, pale from shock, possessing rather fewer digits than he'd had when he arrived here at Club Feel.

       "Oh, dear..." the club's owner murmurs, as the blonde's bloodshot eyes blink up at him. "You are in a state, aren't you?"

       The stranger, whom Mammon now knows as Raymond, says nothing, merely breathes, determined to get in as much air in the remaining time before the pain comes again. "A word of advice, love," Anatoli offers. "In your next life, don't marry someone connected with a... person like the Doctor."

       The voice is roughened with over-use. "Y-you believe me?"

       Raymond flinches automatically as Mammon pats his shoulder. "Purity is an artist at this sort of thing; of course I believe what he told me you said."

       Ray blinks stupidly.

       "But I asked you why you came here."

       "I-I told you..."

       "To find and apologise to your wife; I know. Very sweet of you. But why? Tell me about her."

       Ray blinks again.

       "Well, if you don't want to talk about something as private as the relationship between you and your wife, I understand completely." The club-owner's voice is sympathetic as he turns as if to leave. "I'll just tell Ryan that I'm done here; I'm sure he'll know what to--"

       "Wait!" Raymond's voice has that cracked desperation of a man truly grasping at straws. "We first met in Olympus Mons..."

       Mammon turns back and listens with interest.

* * *

"Lena? Lena. Lena?"

       Finally recognizing her alias, Angela re-surfaces, opens her eyes to the light, blinks.

       Luke the Mysterious Journo-Pimp with the heart of gold is bending over her, concern evident in his eyes, his posture, his voice.

       "M'allright," she mutters, sitting up, then regretting it a moment later as she woozes. Luke steadies her with a hand to her back, a light touch.

       "What happened?"

       "You fainted."

       "I fainted..." Not her usual M.O. Deciding to save her suddenly limited energy for what lies ahead, Angela eschews embarrassment and takes a deep breath.

       "I'm fine. Look; I'm not waiting any longer. I've got to get back to the Doctor."

       Luke shakes his head. "Sorry; no."

       Angela blinks. "Excuse me?"

       "No, you're not fine, and no, you're not going back to Club Feel for this Doctor of yours."

       Angela opens her mouth--

       "I've just found you; I'm not going to lose you now."

       "You don't seem to have been listening to me! I'm inv--"

       "And I need to show you what I've learned about Mammon and the Pillar."

       That gets her attention. "Tell, then," she snaps. When he hesitates, she adds, "Or don't you actually have anything worth telling?"

       So he runs a hand through his hair as if stirring up his thoughts, and tells.

* * *

Everything's reversed on Cupid. Heaven's Hell, angels are ruthless killers, beauty is suspect, and good is mocked with filth.

       Angel's domain is a tangle of shadowed, grit-caked tunnels flowing with warm air. The four travelers make their way down into this Hades with the resignation of those who have Done This Before. Many times.

       River shivers, despite the heat. She wants information; wants to help. She wants to know more about this winged woman whom she senses is no more a human than herself.

       But something about the aura surrounding the self-contained form stalking up ahead forstalls her, the barbed-wire sensation of 'keep-away'.

       Finally, she feels the first slivers of anger pushing themselves up in her mind like ice crystals, and decides \\the hell with this.\\ River strides past Jadi and his burden and paces the winged blonde, ignoring the returning ache from the wound in her shoulder.

       "Why are you helping us?" Her tone is calm but implacable. The pain helps her focus, gives her voice a no-nonsense quality.

       Angel deigns to glance aside. "Who said I'm helping you?"

       River's eyes narrow. But she already knows this woman isn't threatening them, at least not in the conventional sense. The being's gaze meets hers, and a few seconds later, River does something totally unexpected. To her, anyway.

       "I've brought the Sepulchre," she says softly.

       Angel's eyes focus on her, as if truly seeing her for the first time, as she stops. Behind them, Jadi almost staggers into them, emitting a short, gasped profanity.

       Behind, the limply hanging Doctor breathes a sigh. Whether it is of relief, pain or disappointment, River does not know.

       Angel's expression is unfathomable. She turns away and wordlessly leads the way round a curve and into a huge, dimly-lit chamber.

       When the others see what is waiting for them in there, they stop in pure surprise.

* * *

Angela looks at Luke with new respect.

       The information he's just imparted to her not only matches fairly well with what few snippets she and Jadi'd been able to glean they'd searched for the missing Doctor, but additional details he's added indicate a sense of the bigger picture...

       It's not a pretty one. Bad News, but that's par when travelling with the Doctor.

       She looks up, resolutely. "He has to know. We have to go back, get him down, and /tell/ him this!"

       Luke purses his lips. She imagines he's thinking of his 'exclusive' expose, and prepares to ram her contempt for his 'career' when lives are at stake down his petty little throat...

       He smiles. "All right," he says.

* * *

"Welcome to Heaven," Angel tells them, her tone ironic.

       Her companions stand, staring out over a circular space, at the seething mass of something you can't quite call 'humanity. For an instant, River imagines she's back in Club Feel, so strong is the impression of chaotic life...

       "Cruk..." Jadi mutters. "They're all--"

       "Like me?" Angel says, unnaturally calm. She steps into the crowd as faces and hands reached up at her passing in clear acknowledgment. "The song calls us here. Prepares us."

       Dangling behind Jadi, the Doctor opens his eyes, wide and silent.

       Jadi recoils a bit as a man, wrinkled knots of scar tissue where his eyes used to be, turns his face to him as if staring, hard.

       River looks out across the sea of beings. "Prepares you for what?" Her voice is steady.

       Angel pauses, swivels her head to look back at River. "For the Ascension, of course. For the coming of our fellow Elohim."

To be continued...

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