|Doctor Who Missing Internet Adventure #23 - "False Life"
Chapter 7 – Part 2
"Alpha and Omega"
by Tony Whitt
Maurrice still wasn't returning the smile. The Doctor hadn't seen him this angry since the Doctor had decided at the last minute to do that ridiculous book about the androids and the Kraals when he was supposed to be writing a Gothic horror tale.
The memory made the Doctor wince, and not just at the recollection of how bad that story turned out to be. He put a hand to his temple and remembered that it wasn't just some bad story he'd written when he'd gotten bored of the whole Gothic thing it was a bad story he'd actually lived through.
He again looked at the man across the room, wearing his daughter's clothes or was it his daughter's body? He was finding it hard to distinguish between the two, all of a sudden and had a brief flash of another room with bright white walls and a hexagonal console set in the centre. He recognized it as the TARDIS console room from one of his books, and he recognized his wife, the strange robotic thing he'd found in the garage, and someone who was watching him closely, with a slowly spreading smile. The vision of the console room faded away, and his comfortable, well-appointed home swam back into view but now he saw it for what it was.
"How extraordinary," he said, pushing back the hat on his head which had not been there a moment before and peering around the room as if seeing it for the first time. "So, this is my dream home, is it? Not much to look at, if you ask me, especially if I'm the main writer on a successful range of science fiction books. My publishers obviously aren't paying me a living wage." He turned and offered his hand to Maurrice, who refused to take it. "Hello! I take it you must be one of our captors, yes? One of those researchers that my new friend back in the real world has been telling me about?"
Maurrice bristled, but he kept his voice low as he asked, "How did you know?"
The Doctor shrugged and smiled. "Oh, well, when you've seen as many jail keepers as I have, you get to know the type. Obviously this Judge person always feared that someone would break out of his fantasy world, so he set you here as a permanent jailer to put things back on track. Must be a terrible job, playing a bit part in other people's false lives, eh? And I imagine that control pyramid in the cave must be getting terribly overloaded by now, what with all the people waking up from their dreaming."
Maurrice frowned even more deeply. "You knew about that too, I see."
"As soon as I saw it though I imagine our insectoid friends out there would love to have their toy back, don't you think?"
He turned to Tommathan and grinned broadly. "And you must be my unsuccessful defence attorney!" He rushed to him and shook his hands warmly. "Good to see you again, though I don't remember ever meeting you, which is all right, mind you, since I don't remember meeting everyone I've met. You understand, don't you?"
"N-no," replied Tommathan nervously.
"No, no, of course you don't," the Doctor replied, patting Tommathan's back. "I imagine that when you were sentenced here, your deepest desire was to find me, wasn't it? You know, I do so like a lawyer who follows up with his clients. And with your lot weakened by my gloriously disruptive presence," he added, pointing at Maurrice before turning back to Tommathan, "you were able to join us in our fantasy world." He gave a brief and disdainful glance at the room again. "Such as it is. And that would explain your charming attire, too!" He drew Tommathan close and whispered, "You really don't want to be wearing that frock, do you? It's not quite your colour, you know."
While the Doctor was talking, Tommathan slowly put the pieces together. He felt a force from outside his mind trying hard to take his newfound realizations away, but he ignored them. "No," he said again, his voice far stronger than it had been before. "No, Doctor, I don't."
"Good man!" the Doctor said, as Tommathan concentrated and reformed his body and clothing into his own form and into the suit he wore on court days. "And now you even look like a good man." He stopped for a moment and peered closely at Tommathan before whispering, "Erm, I don't think you have it quite right... Tommathan, isn't it?"
"Um, I don't know quite how to say this, but... you have a woman's bottom."
The Doctor cleared his throat and left Tommathan to complete his self-transformation, turning to fix Maurrice with a hard stare. The man had not shifted during their exchange instead, he glared at the two of them as if trying to strike them dead with a glance. Come to think of it, the Doctor reflected, that's probably exactly what he's trying to do, and it's not working. How frustrating for him, he though, and said so.
Maurrice responded by pulling out a gun.
"Ah, I see," the Doctor said. "The old saw about dying in reality if you die in your dreams, is that it? How terribly crude and mid-80's of you."
"Crude it may be," Maurrice growled, " but dead is still dead, and now that we you¹re your Time Lord abilities we don't need you anymore, nor do we need the dreams of the producers. This is but a momentary set-back. As soon as the Judge pulls himself together, the time/space warp will be formed, and our glorious gestalt will move out into the universe, bringing"
"Oh, do shut up," said a voice behind him, as a book hurtled out of the darkness and hit him square in the back of the head.
Romana stepped over Maurrice's unconscious form and dusted her hands before grinning at the Doctor. "Perhaps we should be getting back to the real world now?"
The Doctor reached down and picked up the heavy volume she'd used to knock Maurrice out. He looked at the cover and smiled. "Ha! 'The Doctor Who Omnibus'! Who said science fiction had no merit?"
"Doctor," Romana said warningly, "I really do think we should get out of here. What he said about the Judge 'pulling himself together' didn't sound like a euphemism to me."
"Quite right," the Doctor said, raising a decisive finger. The gesture would have looked even more impressive had he not already opened the book and started scanning the pages with interest. Without looking up, he said, "Tommathan, you go with Romana. I imagine your real body is out on the planet's surface somewhere, but we'll come find you when it all blows over. Now that you're in the gestalt, you'll be safe from the heat."
Tommathan frowned. "Wait, when all WHAT blows o...?" He vanished in mid-sentence.
"Romana, be a good girl and send K-9 out after him when you get back to the console room, will you?" said the Doctor, still not looking up from the book. He laughed at something he'd read. "Oh, that really was quite clever of me. K-9 should be right as rain now that the convergence is falling apart. See to it, will you?"
"Of course, 'dear,'" Romana replied with a grin, before she too vanished.
The Doctor closed the book, still laughing, and looked again at the cover. "'Doctor Who,' indeed. Who comes up with this stuff?"
The book dropped to the floor beside Maurrice as the Doctor vanished.
* * *
Tommathan woke up in the blistering heat. All around him, on an uneven and rocky plane, people in various states of shabbiness and sunburn lay on the ground, some of them waking up, some of them muttering in their now troubled sleep. Despite the hideous heat, though, none of them were seriously burned, and Tommathan was amazed to find he didn't feel the heat as keenly as he normally would have.
"Objective located, Mistress," said a robotic-sounding voice from a rise just above him.
He looked up to see what looked like a robot dog peering down at him, standing beside a short woman with flowing blond hair. She stood there looking down at him, her hands on her hips and a cheeky grin on her face. Despite the fact that she was wearing what looked to be some sort of bathing costume, the heat didn't seem to be bothering her, either.
"Mr. Tommathan, I presume?" she said.
* * *
The roach-like creatures sensed they were no longer needed around the pyramid holding the gestalt together and began moving out of the cave. En masse, they moved towards the voice of their Master, the voice they'd been waiting for ever since the temporal convergence began. As they moved out onto the surface, they noticed several of the humans that they had sometimes used as food when the humans had died were now waking up and looking around. The humans had a variety of reactions to the creatures, but the creatures didn't pay them any heed. Slowly they made their way to the blue box standing in the middle of the hot plains.
* * *
Gorelli had given himself over to Them now, and as a result there was precious little of his human form left. In his place stood a energy creature, a mass of psychic energy created by the Judge's combined temporal splinters and by the power of the creatures who lived beneath what was left of his skin. As what was once Gorelli stretched out his arms, the televisions around the room exploded in a blaze of light.
- Now, Doctor,* the creature thought rather than said, *we shall put your gifts to good use.*
* * *
Inside the TARDIS, a similar transformation was going on. The man who was once a surveyor, once a Paradisian, once human, now shrugged off the last of his humanity as the creatures outside the TARDIS fed him with their combined strength. The Doctor, who was now in his right mind again (or as much in it as he ever was) watched the view-screen in awe as the roach creatures beamed psychic energy through the TARDIS's shields. The blazing light turned the console room into a vast white haze.
The Doctor cleared his throat. "Oh, don't mind me," he called. "I'll just sit here quietly in the corner till you need me, shall I?"
* * *
Tommathan's wife Arraina picked her careful way through the crowded and dangerous streets, trying to make her way to the court room where Tommathan had been tried. The few Paradisians on Paradise-1 who weren't scrambling for their lives away from Daleks and Cybermen, or tearing the courts apart looking for records of their banished loved ones, were looting the shops and creating havoc, so she was the only one who noticed the lights in the sky.
The being once known as Gorelli flew into the atmosphere and began to form the time/space warp. A stream of visible light connected Paradise-1 and Paradise-2 as the temporal converge between the two identical planets expanded and grew, forming the foundation of a new temporal anomaly. Or it should have.
* * *
The Doctor shielded his eyes with his scarf as the glow of the being before him grew ever more intense, but it was no good. The light was bleeding through the knitted wool, bleeding through his eyelids, and now he had flashes back to the man this used to be, and those horrible melted eyes. Just when he thought he could take no more, he felt some sort of change in the console room, like the shift in the atmosphere just before rain the proverbial calm before the storm.
- Thank you for all your help, Doctor,* he heard a voice say in his mind. *Now it's my turn.*
The sound blasted through his ears as if a full-scale hurricane had been set loose in the TARDIS console room, and the Doctor found himself clutching for any handhold he could find to keep from being blown away with it. Just as his hand grabbed hold of the hat rack in the corner, however, the winds subsided just as swiftly as they'd come.
Slowly, he took his hat away from his face and the scarf away from his eyes. The console room was completely empty. On the view-screen, the roach creatures were now staring upward at a trail of light which shot through the dark, arid atmosphere and out into space.
"Well," the Doctor said to no one in particular, "you don't get to see that every day, do you?"
* * *
Had the Doctor or Romana been at an adequate vantage point to see the two energy beings meet each other in space, they would have been reminded of the images their guest had shown them in the console room. The two creatures intertwined with one another, just as they had once before, wrestling for control of the warp which was now forming between the two planets. But one was far larger, far stronger, far more mature than its counterpart. Though last time it had been thrown to the surface of Paradise-2 where it bonded with a dying surveyor, it had had a century to prepare for this moment. The other creature had begun this, but the larger creature would finish it.
Instead of flying apart as they once had done, causing a planet to split into two separate time zones, the creatures fused together, becoming one as the larger one absorbed the smaller one. The smaller one fought as hard as it could, but the vast influx of energy it had had last time was now gone. The being that was once Bertram Gorelli gave a last very human-sounding shriek that was lost in the airless vacuum, and then he was gone.
The glowing column of light between the two worlds still hung impossibly in the darkness of space. The being now reached out its hands in both directions and pulled and just as impossibly, Paradise-2 began to move.
* * *
Romana, Tommathan, and K-9 had just made it back to the TARDIS as the trembling began. On the way there, K-9 had been caught by a stray falling rock and damaged, and as Romana carried him into the console room, the earthquake threw she and Tommathan to the ground.
"Hang on!" the Doctor shouted. He was still holding uselessly onto the hat rack in the corner.
* * *
The people of Paradise-1 were treated to a horrifying spectacle as they watched Paradise-2 barrelling down the column of light like a vast planet-sized comet. They screamed, wept, cried in fear as they watched their death racing towards them.
Then, at the moment which should have been the moment of impact, they turned to each other in puzzlement as Paradise-2 vanished completely.
On one of the few street corners not completely vandalized in the riots, a tall blue box silently appeared. The door opened, and the Doctor, Romana, and Tommathan stepped out. The Doctor took a deep breath, had a brief coughing fit, and then sighed contentedly as if the coughing fit had never happened. "Ah," he said hoarsely, "isn't togetherness wonderful?"
"I don't understand," Tommathan said. "What happened?"
"Romana, why don't you field that one?" the Doctor replied as he picked up a bit of glass from the street and examined it closely. "I think I've done enough explaining for one day."
Romana frowned at his back, but when she turned to Tommathan she treated him to that cheeky grin again. "It's really quite simple. Judge Gorelli and our guest... Doctor, did we ever ask his name?"
The Doctor grunted negatively.
"Oh, poo," Romana said. "That was really quite rude of us. Anyway, Gorelli and our guest turned themselves into psychic energy creatures and fused back together, which also brought the two time zones of Paradise, its present and its future, back together. I imagine that when Gorelli got that first infusion of energy during that experiment a hundred years ago, he was thrown forward into the future, and the roach creatures the evolved descendants of those that live in your soil now used their psychic energy to defend themselves. They accidentally split him into two aspects one half good and the other half evil, probably, since that's the way these things always seem to go and in doing so they managed to split the planet's time stream, as well. The good half ended up on 2, the bad half ended up here."
Tommathan shook his head. "And you call that 'really quite simple'?"
"Oh, yes," Romana smiled. "When you've spent as much time with the Doctor as I have, almost anything makes sense."
The Doctor ignored her comment and pretended to peer into the glass more closely.
"But why didn't they come together sooner?" Tommathan asked.
"Not enough power," Romana explained. "Gorelli was down here trying to raise enough power to form a new time/space warp to carry his gestalt into space, but it was never enough for his good twin to heal himself and force them to merge back together. "
"But then you came along," Tommathan said, finally getting it.
"But then we came along," Romana said. "Gorelli must have seen us coming and thought we'd provide enough power to finally form his warp. Instead, all we did was warp local space-time enough to give ourselves some ludicrous ideas both in the present and in the past, disrupt the gestalt so that Gorelli and his followers couldn't use it properly, and bring our guest back to his right mind."
Tommathan grinned. "'All you did,' eh?"
Romana blushed. "Well, it does sound like rather a lot, doesn't it?"
"So, where is the energy creature now?" Tommathan asked.
The Doctor suddenly sprang to his feet. "Look, do you expect us to know everything? If it weren't for your ham-fisted defence in the first place "
"Besides," the Doctor said, refusing to look at Tommathan directly, "you appear to have someone waiting for you." He gestured towards the street.
"Tommathan?" a voice cried. Tommathan looked up to see Arraina rushing towards him, a huge smile on her face and tears streaming down her cheeks. Forgetting the Doctor and Romana for a moment, he ran into the street and swept her into his arms. All around them, friends were greeting friends, lovers were greeting lovers, brothers were greeting sisters as all the former prisoners of Paradise-2 reappeared on the streets of Paradise and found themselves free. Several technicians, dressed in outfits looking like a cross between doctor's outfits and military gear, also appeared, looking around themselves in puzzlement. They started chattering loudly and happily to each other, and Romana could just hear one call the other "Vvoxx" or something.
"Let's get out of here while we can," the Doctor muttered, still looking at the piece of glass.
Romana got on tip-toe and leaned towards his ear. "You didn't want to admit we didn't know what happened to the energy creature, did you?"
"Certainly not," the Doctor replied, finally throwing the glass into a nearby refuse bin and dusting his hands. "I'm confused enough as it is already."
As he turned to open the door, Romana said, "Speaking of confusion, Doctor, why did the gestalt put us in a dream world where we were married? And why was it influencing us to think in terms of a relationship between us?"
She heard the Doctor cough. "Ah," he said. "Well, we'll have to talk about that, won't we? Preferably after a good vacation. Honestly, first Argolis and now this."
But Romana was no longer listening. She was looking across the street at a little girl who was looking back longingly at her. A hazy memory of a comfortable home, a loving husband, and a darling daughter played through Romana's mind for a moment, and she found herself starting to move away from the TARDIS and into the street.
But at just that moment, a voice called out, "Kris! Kris, my baby, Kris!" A middle-aged man and woman ran from the opposite corner towards the little girl, who turned her attention from Romana and burst into tears. She ran for the couple in turn, shouting, "Mummy! Daddy!" The three of them met in the middle of the street and held each other tightly, as if afraid they'd be separated once again.
"Romana!" shouted the Doctor from inside the TARDIS. Romana came to herself with a start and blinked. Something was clouding her vision. She reached up, touched her cheek, and looked down at her damp fingertips. Odd, that, she thought.
"Romana!" the Doctor shouted again. "Are you coming or not?"
Romana wiped the tears away from her eyes and cleared her throat. "Yes, I'm coming!" she shouted. She moved quickly to the doors, but before she went into the TARDIS, she looked back. The happily reunited family were walking away down the street now, but the little girl was looking back over her shoulder, a smile on her own tear-streaked face. Her smile broadened, and she waved.
Romana smiled, returned the wave, and hurriedly got into the TARDIS, before she could allow herself to start missing something she could never have. A groaning, wheezing sound filled the air, and the TARDIS vanished into time.
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