|Doctor Who Internet Adventure #30 - "The Memory Game"
"Things Best Forgotten"
by Cameron Mason
The enormous snake danced above Tegan, oblivious to her screams. Nyssa, grabbed her arm and started to lead her back inside TARDIS when the Mara faded away.
"What the heck is going on Doctor?" Tegan asked as she looked around. It appeared to her as though the TARDIS had landed back on Manussa, in the marketplace. Only problem was, it was quiet and deserted.
"Something about this isn't right," said the Doctor. "The co-ordinates are nowhere near the temporal location of Manussa."
Nyssa saw a figure approaching, strolling casually down the main street of the market. "Look, perhaps this person can tell us what's going on."
"They'd better be able to tell us what's going on, or I'll give them a piece of my mind," said Tegan, now over the shock, and more angry than scared.
The figure, a man, was now close enough so that they could see what he was wearing. "Those are Time Lord robes," exclaimed Nyssa. "Are the Time Lords concerned about the Mara?"
"I don't think so Nyssa," replied the Doctor. "This isn't the Matrix. Someone, or some organisation has recreated a location from my past, no, more than that, a location of great significance to not only myself, but to Tegan."
The man raised his hand in greeting, and spoke to them. "Welcome Doctor, we've been expecting you. I see that typical for this incarnation you have materialised where you didn't expect to. My name is Mikhel."
Tegan spoke up. "Enough of the pleasantries. I want to know why you've brought us here, to this horrible place."
"Horrible?" queried the man. "I thought it was an exact replica? If you can tell me where mistakes have been made, I'll the corrections started right away."
Tegan frowned. "That's not what I meant. Why have you 'replicated' Manussa of all places? Why not somewhere that was a little more pleasant, like Cranleigh Hall?"
The man looked at her apologetically. "You were meant to arrive somewhere a little more... pleasing. This replica is just about ready for the game."
"Game?" asked the Doctor. "You've brought us here and frightened one of my companions half to death for a game?"
"It's not an ordinary game," explained Mikhel. "In fact, it's like nothing you've ever experienced before. Now if you'll follow me, I'll take you to where the others are waiting."
* * *
The Doctor drove the jeep at a breakneck speed, with Chris calling out enthusiastically, Roz holding on grimly, yet showing no fear and Benny being awkwardly bounced around on her seat.
"Why the bloody hell are you driving so fast?" she asked as the jeep sped over an open field.
"The quicker we go, the quicker we'll get to where we need to be," replied the Doctor. "I have no idea of where we are and why, and the sooner we can rectify that..."
"The sooner you can find out where, when, how and then who we have to fight." finished Roz. "How do we know this isn't just one of your little schemes; drop us in somewhere without giving us an idea of what we need to do?"
"You should know by now Roslyn that I tell you exactly what I want you to know before I let you out of the TARDIS," replied the Doctor. "I hate being manipulated, I much prefer to know what I'm about to get involved in."
"While only telling us the bare essentials so that we don't cause too much damage to your plans by just blundering into situations," remarked Benny rather caustically.
"My dear Bernice, I take it that you have a problem?" asked the Doctor.
"Well, I don't know about the rest of you, but I have been gazing out on the countryside we're driving through."
"And?" prompted the Doctor.
"It's changed. Changed from green fields and English countryside to a muddy battlefield."
The Doctor looked out at the landscape he was driving through, taking it in, rather than just concentrating on where he was going.
"This looks very familiar," he murmured to himself. "I have a feeling we've been here before," he said much louder to his companions.
Chris, who had been studying the landscape outside his window suddenly gasped. "Q'ell"
"What?" said Roz, before she turned to see what Chris could see. "He's right."
To the left of the jeep something was making its way across the battlefield towards them. Something with six legs, cylindrical body, and a large exhaust billowing out smoke. It was a steam-tank engine.
"Oh dear." the Doctor said glumly.
"Now what?" asked Benny. "Don't tell me, we've run out of fuel."
"Yes, we have." replied the Doctor. "I was hoping to fill up, but we didn't pass anywhere to fill up before the landscape shifted."
The jeep shuddered to a halt. Roz got out of the jeep, and looked from the jeep to the steam-tank engine several times before making a decision. "There's one thing we can do, take control of that engine, make our way to Recruiter, and stop it once more."
"I was hoping you were going to suggest 'take control of the engine, use it to get back to the TARDIS and leave this place', but that's a far better idea," said Benny.
Roz strode off determined as Chris leapt out of the jeep enthusiastically. Both had taken out their Z shaped weapons. Benny and the Doctor were the last to leave.
"Something's really worrying you this time," observed Benny.
"Yes," replied the Doctor. "I think the mystery of the situation has something to do with this." He pulled out of his pocket a yellow card with a gold logo on it.
"Come on, we'd better get a move on before Chris drives that tank over here to pick us up." Benny quickened her pace after the 30th century duo.
The Doctor followed, putting away the card. He muttered under his breath, very softly. "Whoever is behind all of this is going to find themselves in all sorts of trouble by the time I'm through with them..."
* * *
The woman, named Venda led the two Doctors and their respective companions through a maze of bookshelves.
As they walked on, the Second and Sixth Doctors chatted.
"So what have you been up to?" asked the Second Doctor.
"Peri and I have been trying to have a holiday, but we keep running into trouble." replied the Sixth Doctor. "Blackpool, Tranquela, Singapore, Hong Kong — but not a moment's peace to be had at all."
"It's not like we go looking for trouble, just a chance to relax and unwind," added Peri. "Does the TARDIS always zero in on monsters and villains, or did you break a lot of mirrors when you were young?"
"To be fair Peri, that happens to us too," said Jamie.
"So, how are things going with your missions?" asked the Sixth Doctor.
"Not according to plan, well my plans anyway," evasively replied the Second Doctor.
"Aye, something always goes wrong, just as things are looking fine," chipped in Jamie.
"However, the Time Lords seem to be pleased," said the Second Doctor.
"So did they give you a yellow card?" asked Peri. "Sent you on a mission to find out about this place?"
"No, actually," replied the Second Doctor. "I found it on the console after Jamie and I returned to her after a big galactic conference. I set the co-ordinates and arrived here, in the library."
"What makes you think you weren't sent here, by 'them'?" asked the Sixth Doctor.
"When the TARDIS materialised, the remote control the Time Lords fitted stopped working. It's as if they don't exist in this temporal location," the Second Doctor said.
The Sixth Doctor was about to comment on this when Venda led them to a set of ornate double doors.
"Here we are at last," she said. "The place where you'll meet up with the others before we begin: the piazza."
* * *
Japa sighed as the terminal flashed red and started bleeping once more. She sighed and put another notch on her clipboard. Right on cue the young technician he ran in, and she commented to him "That's the eighth time now."
He frowned. "That's not right."
Japa became concerned. "What's not right?"
"The problem is registering, but the item hasn't shown up in our scans."
Japa tutted. "Remember the last arrival took a little while to track down. It's getting smarter at trying to avoid landing where the scoop is aiming for. There's still at least another two to arrive."
The technician turned pale. "At this rate, two more arrivals will crash the system."
"Well then," said Japa, "Let's hope that they arrive all at once."
* * *
The Ninth and Tenth Doctors watched their predecessor and his companions make their way over to them. Suzzane smiled.
"Why are you so happy?" asked a curious Rose.
"All is proceeding as we had hoped. The Doctors and his companions are arriving as planned, and are making their way to the piazza. By my calculations, we should have the ten of you here for the commencement of the game," replied Suzzane in smooth tones.
A subordinate ran up to Suzzane with a note. She took the note and read it, commenting "So he's making his way here under his own steam. No problem." She dismissed the subordinate and tutted quietly.
"What's the problem?" asked the Ninth Doctor.
"It seems that your TARDIS is proving to be as unreliable as records suggest. Some of your previous selves are arriving 'off course', and in areas that are just about ready for the game. It's a good thing that the TARDIS during your incarnation and the next is fairly reliable--"
"Bar the odd time slippage." quipped Rose.
"Quite," replied Suzanne. "Now where was I? Oh yes, It's good thing that during your incarnation that the TARDIS is usually reliable, otherwise your Tenth form would have ended up at our recreation of Bad Wolf Bay."
The Tenth Doctor didn't say anything, but the look on his face told a story of great loss and pain.
Rose's curiosity got the better of her. "What happened at Bad Wolf Bay? Better yet, why aren't I still travelling with you?"
"It's where I know you're safe." the Tenth Doctor said quietly. "It's where I kept my promise to Jackie. I can't tell you any more than that." He turned away, a tear forming in his eye.
* * *
Inside the TARDIS, the Doctor turned over the yellow card, studying it intently.
"What's wrong with it Doctor?" asked Jo.
"I'm not sure, but where ever it is we are meant to go, we are just about arrive," replied the Doctor as the Time Rotor came to a stand still.
The Doctor turned on the scanner. The image displayed was indistinct; it was dark, yet blue at the same time.
"We've definitely left Inter Minor then," said Jo brightly.
"Let's go outside and take a look," suggested the Doctor. He flicked the control to open the TARDIS doors, with Jo leading the way out.
Briefly looking around, the Doctor could see that they were in a cave, a cave full of blue crystals. "This is Metebelis Three." he said. "But why would anyone want us to come here?"
Harsh, loud, female laughter echoed in response to the Doctor's question. "Welcome to my domain two legs. Welcome to the home of the Great One, the last place you'll ever see before death takes you."
Jo screamed as she and the Doctor turned around to locate the source of the voice. Sitting in the middle of a giant web made entirely out of blue crystals was a giant spider.
* * *
In the piazza, various reunions and introductions were taking place. Five Doctors and six companions were exchanging greetings and comparing notes. For the companions it involved some friendly hostility, especially from Rose; this was proving to be a real eye opening experience for her. Jack, meanwhile, was the life of the party, openly flirting with Luke and confusing poor Jamie. Suzzane stood back and watched.
The Doctors, were quietly discussing the situation, which each filling in his fellow incarnations on how they got there. Soon some sort of consensus was reached.
"I think that one of us, having gone through this the most times should be able to fill us in a bit more on what's going on." Commented the Second Doctor, turning to face the Tenth.
The Tenth Doctor scratched his head and said "Technically, I should be remembering nine different versions of this now, unless the invitations were encoded with a temporal null-field, in which case we're all now experiencing this for the first time. That or we survive this and our memories are wiped."
The Sixth Doctor snorted. "How many times is that now?"
"I stopped counting. It's best to when you have to take into account that you have to multiply each occurrence by the number of incarnations involved," explained the Tenth Doctor.
The Ninth Doctor stood quietly, scanning the area with his sonic screwdriver.
"What does your sonic screwdriver have to say?" asked the Eighth of the Ninth. "I've always been meaning to build a new model."
"There's a lot of technology wired around us. It's hard to tell, but it seems to be Time Lord based, or at least, Time Lord influenced," the Ninth grimaced. "That's not as much information as it usually would give; there's a type of interference blocking its link to the TARDIS."
The Eighth interrupted. "Speaking of which, where is my TARDIS? It materialised right on the edge of the piazza and now I can't see it."
Suzanne promptly interrupted them at this point. "It's been moved for safe keeping, for security reasons. Don't worry about getting them confused, each has been tagged so that the right Doctor will access the TARDIS at the correct point in her timeline."
Another subordinate ran up to Suzzane, with another note for her. This time Suzanne spoke directly to the subordinate.
"Now that is most inconvenient, he's arrived in a recreation based on his own future. Send in an orientation guide and bring him and his companion here as soon as possible," she instructed. The subordinate ran back in the direction they arrived from.
Rose interrupted the Doctors, grabbing the Ninth. "So I'm not, you know, special. I'm just the latest in a long line of..."
"Of?" Ninth prompted.
"Of random people you meet on your travels."
"Rose, everyone I travel with is special. Not everyone I meet is cut out for the life we lead. Look at what happened to Adam." He paused. "You are the first companion I've had for a long time, and it's been utterly fantastic. Never forget that. I may have had companions before you, and there may well indeed be companions after you, but here and now, at this point in my life, it's you who I want to share my travels with."
Rose smiled. "Yeah. Well what about Captain Jack then?"
"You wanted to leave him on his doomed ship?" Ninth asked with mock shock.
"No, what I meant was--"
A loud electronic bell rang, interrupting Rose.
"What was that?" asked the Sixth.
Suzanne smiled thinly. "It seems that everything is ready. While one or two of you might not be quite in the right place there's enough of you here to make a start." She clapped her hands once. "Let the games begin."
To be continued...
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