-1Disclaimer: I don't own Doctor Who.
From the Mist
Chapter Eight: Hunting
As Venn (fruitlessly) tried accessing yet another file on the borderline dead holo-table, Donna crouched down beside the body of Miss Tharsis. Shifting around her, the Doctor knelt beside his companion, looking for the usual signs of distress.
She stared down at the body, seemingly mesmerised by the gruesome manner in which the woman's neck had been twisted around, at an angle at odds with the rest of her body.
"What was she doing?"
He stared at her for a moment. "What do you mean?"
"Her. What was she doing?" Piercing blue eyes met his. "Why would she take his bracelet thing off?"
"Well, whatever," she dismissed quietly, shaking her head.
He sighed and looked down at the metal device. Gently, he reached down and scooped it up, studying it with delicate hands.
"Time Agents, psychotics, lovelorn employees… Does make you wonder if anyone on this ship is who they appear to be."
Spade sniffed loudly as he walked around to them from the metal barrier. "I am."
Both Time Lord and human companion stared at him.
"Well of course you are, Spade," the Doctor enthused. "You're nice!"
Donna smiled, somewhat spurred on by the Doctor's grin. "Yeah. Good old Spade."
A groaning roar from somewhere outside the ship sucked out any goodwill. The Doctor looked around over his head.
"They're everywhere," he murmured. "And with Robert's emotions feeding them, they're going to be very eager beavers."
Something beeped from the holo-table, and the Doctor looked over, impressed that the good Commander Venn could actually get something working.
"They're corroding away the hull," Venn reported grimly, face set in a stern frown. "The engines are as good as dead."
"Although Tamar took them offline anyway, so it doesn't really make much of a difference," the Doctor noted, peering over Venn's shoulder to see the flickering readout on the table. As though to spite him, it faded to nothingness from lack of power before he could read anything.
The Doctor felt someone beside him, and turned to see Spade.
The miner looked to him expectantly. "What about this ship of yours?"
"What? You mean the one that's outside while we're stuck in here?"
To his credit, the sarcasm didn't faze the miner. "Yeah, that one. There's got to be a way to break though the hull and get out there before they get in here."
A smile crept across the Time Lord's wily face. "I do like a good plan. Even if it is a bit vague. But in all fairness, you're not me, so I can't really blame you for not-"
Donna's hastily cleared throat interrupted him, and the Doctor redirected his speech accordingly.
"-anyway," he mumbled, clearing his throat before continuing, "we can't really go anywhere until we're sure Tamar is out of the way."
"Whose to say he's not gone already?" Spade offered. "He's got the Vortex Manipulator, he could just-"
Venn shook his head. "No, he's here. Trust me. Any chance to kill something, he will take."
"So," the Doctor said apprehensively. "We know what has to be done, then."
Both Venn and Spade nodded, but Donna simply looked bewildered. She came forward to make an objection, but the Doctor cut her off, shooting her a warning glance as he spoke. He knew what she would say, and usually he would agree with her 99.9999999999999999999%, but in these circumstances? It was time to take a stand, even if it was something that chipped away at his soul every time he took part in it.
He took a deep breath. "Although it's a classic, classic movie mistake, splitting up is probably the best way to go. Do you have any weapons on this ship?" Glancing between Venn and Spade, he did nothing to hide the distaste that arose from using the word 'weapons'.
Venn shook his head. "Nothing. We'd never have got clearance to come to this planet with weaponry. The only thing we managed to sneak through was the metabolastasis bracelet, and that was only because-" he stopped himself, gaining a look in his eye that the Doctor knew all too well. The rush of realising something, of understanding some new solution to a problem. They were the moments he lived for.
It was fun and frustrating to see from the other side. "What? What is it?"
"I have a backup module for the metabolastasis field in my office. It's a little more cumbersome, but if we can get it around his neck…"
"A metabolastasis collar? Good, that's good." The Doctor was enjoying the suddenly new concept of not having to kill anyone after all.
He burst back to life. "Right! So, while our good friend Venn here makes his way to his office and gets the spare metabolastasis device, we should split up and try to get him cornered if we can."
"And just what the hell are we supposed to do without weapons?" Spade asked.
The Doctor's gaze flickered to Donna, almost ignoring Spade as he answered. "I'm sorry, but it's the best chance we've got. You'll just have to think of something as you go."
The groan that escaped his throat came from years of experience working with too many dim, dense or otherwise obtuse humans. "I don't know! Improvise! It's what humans do best! Bluff, challenge him to Scrabble or Monopoly, whatever, just find him!"
Spade's expression was somewhere between anger and agreement. But, once again to his credit, the miner nodded silently.
Satisfied that the argument was over, Venn tapped away on the almost completely offline holo-table.
"All right," he announced, "I'm using the last of the emergency power except life support to unlock the doors inside the ship. That should give you access to everything, even if it will be a bit difficult to open them."
"And that means Tamar's got the same freedom as well," the Doctor added. "So be careful. He could be anywhere."
The doors slammed open loudly, and another groan echoed from outside, reverberating through the ship. After a quick glance around the room, Spade nodded grimly and headed for the door.
"Boggle!" the Doctor yelled. "I love a good game of Boggle, me. No-one can say no, try that!"
After one last stare of complete confusion, the miner turned and stalked off into the hellishly lit corridor.
Venn headed for the door, but stopped beside the Doctor. "How will I find you when I've got the metabolastasis collar?"
"Well, I don't know how you'll find us, but you should be able to lock onto the Vortex Manipulator if you redirect some of the life support power to the internal sensors. If not… I'm sure Tamar will find you. You're quite popular with him by now."
A twitch of a smile passed over the Commander's face before he stormed out of the room, leaving the Doctor and Donna to themselves. Metal groaned around them, and the Krell hummed violently in the distance.
"Doctor," Donna uttered finally. "Are we going to kill him?"
The Doctor took a deep breath and fiddled absently with the now offline holo-table. "Well, I don't know. If the metabolastasis field works all right, we should be-"
He sighed and gazed over at Donna, trusting her enough to look her in the eyes as he spoke, to show her what this decision was doing to him.
Sliding her hands into her jeans pockets, the best temp in Chiswick slowly nodded. "All right, then," she whispered. "So long as we're clear."
Venn had always hated his office. So clean and spotless, the cleaning microbes in the air keeping everything so damn perfect. It made him nervous. He much preferred the workmanlike grey of his old post at the Inner Orbit Complex. But then Mr Night had to come knocking with his irresistible offer.
'One more chance to stick it to the Time Agency'.
Even though the Time Agency were all but gone in this day and age. Didn't stop them from completely ruining his life from sixty years in the past, however. True, he had committed his crime in that time period and then escaped to the future, but still… that guy needn't have been so rough with him. Although the guy seemed like he was enjoying it. Truth be told, Venn didn't really mind. Tall, dark hair, classy smile…
He shook the thought away as he managed to squeeze himself through the door. With only a quick pause to look around the office (he wasn't used to seeing it so dark), Venn made his way around the desk and to a secure panel in the floor beneath his chair.
It ran on an independent power supply, so his DNA code should still…
A wave of his hand opened the compartment, and Venn reached down and pulled out the collar. He smiled.
Got you now, Tamar.
No sooner had the thought flashed across his synapses than two light, stealthy hands whipped past his head, latching onto the collar, opening it, and yanking it up around the Commander's neck.
A firm boot to his back sent him sprawling to the floor in front of him. Venn turned over, his neck movements severely inhibited by the large metallic collar.
Tamar stood over him, head tilted in that curious animalistic manner he did so well.
"Oh, well. This is interesting, isn't it?"
Thick fingers struggled to get underneath the collar to no avail.
The Krillitane above him continued on, bringing up the Vortex Manipulator in his hand. "I think I saw you using this enough to figure out which buttons to press."
In the darkness, Venn couldn't see it. But he knew Tamar was smiling as he spoke again.
"And what buttons not to press."
Letting out a breath through his nose, Venn forced himself to his feet. He locked his hands behind his back.
"Stop this crap and just do it."
Tamar twitched, and tilted his head again. He smiled, baring his jagged teeth.
He pressed the button, and Venn suddenly felt like he was underwater. His ears thrummed as though under pressure. His body was locked. The panic rose up in him from the unnatural sensation of not being able to move anything, like being trapped in a vice.
His vision, though, was perfect.
And, as he learned when Tamar bit into his neck, he could feel pain every bit as much as he could without the metabolastasis field.
He just couldn't scream.
The Doctor paced himself as he strolled far too easily around the corner of the corridor. He stopped himself when he realised what he was supposed to be doing. The old 'walk around like you own the place' attitude wasn't going to get him very far when he was hunting down a creature that could hear a pin drop in the middle of an explosion.
He toyed with the idea of fishing out his sonic screwdriver, but decided against it; if he did come across Tamar, he didn't want his ace in the hole being revealed so soon. If it was an ace in the hole. It could just as easily turn out to be useless.
Bit like most of his plans, then.
He turned another corner and came to an ominously open door. Every door thus far had required a not insignificant amount of jostling and pushing to get open. Light flashed inside, as though something were spinning in front of it like a fan. Stepping inside with his eyes on as much of the room as possible, the Doctor found that it was in fact a fan that was causing the flashing effect; he was in the ventilation chamber.
A huge cylindrical chamber spread out in front of him, a walkway leading to the far side, a control panel happily beeping away at the end. Two fans above and below him worked diligently on emergency power to keep the air flowing into the ship, drawing the oxygen from the recycling tanks below the surface of the planet.
There was nowhere obvious for Tamar to hide in here, but the room was incredibly dark, only some inexplicable blue hue that shone from above the fan at the top of the chamber affording him any visibility. He considered turning back and waiting for Donna to return from her search on the other side of the deck.
Sighing, he shrugged and stepped inside.
The Doctor looked from side to side, then took another step.
His caution gradually replaced by curiosity, the Doctor's pace picked up speed as he walked along the walkway, getting closer and closer to the control panel controlling the air flow. Upon reaching it, he found nothing strange. No poisonous compounds introduced, no sabotage of any kind.
Then why was the door open?
A metallic thud behind him answered his question.
"Ah," he said loudly, turning on his heel to face the newly landed Tamar. "So it was just a trap."
"Yes," Tamar sighed, "regrettably, even my species requires air once in awhile. Turning it off wouldn't have worked out well for me."
The Doctor hummed his agreement, nodding. He slammed his hands in his pockets. "You… do know that Venn is still here? And that he has a backup for your little metabolastasis-"
Tamar brought up Venn's severed head.
His eyes locked to the strangely nonplussed looking expression on Venn's face, the Doctor just nodded.
"Ah. Well. That would slow down the whole backup metabolastasis plan."
Smiling serenely, Tamar tossed the hand overboard, letting it tumble down into the fan below. His eyes remained on the Doctor as the head hit, the sickening slicing barely audible of the gyrating fan. A moment of silence passed between them, as one waited for the other to make a move. The Doctor's eyes flashed to the Vortex Manipulator in Tamar's other hand.
That was enough for Tamar, it seemed.
The Krillitane lashed out a hand at the Doctor's head, which he just barely managed to duck. A desperate hand tried to get a grip on the Manipulator. Tamar crushed it with a single squeeze of his hand, and grabbed onto the back of the Doctor's jacket with the other.
With so little effort it made the Doctor wonder just how strong the Krillitane was, Tamar tossed the Doctor back against the control panel. The Time Lord slumped to the ground, groaning.
Tamar's light shoes barely made a noise as he stepped forward until he was staring down at the Doctor.
Trying to keep up the 'victim doubled over in agony' thing a little bit longer, the Doctor slowly reached inside his jacket, pulling out the sonic screwdriver. Tamar's lithe fingers grasped him by the scruff of his neck, yanking him up off his feet and into the air. The Doctor brought the screwdriver around, aiming for Tamar's arm.
Far too fast for a Time Lord's reflexes, Tamar grabbed the screwdriver wielding hand. Staring at the tool, he smiled.
"A sonic probe? What were you going to do? Unscrew my eyes?"
Giving the Doctor's hand a painful squeeze, he made the Time Lord relinquish the screwdriver, allowing it to drop to the walkway at his feet.
"Well… you'd be surprised at what a sonic screwdriver can do."
Tamar's hand shifted slightly so that it was firmly clasped around the Doctor's neck. He croaked out a grunt, but that was all he could manage.
The smile on the Krillitane's face wasn't really helping much, either.
"What's the matter? No more little jokes? I had thought after your quiet little threat to me in the holding cells that you would be more of a challenge than this. Where's the fight? The fire?"
He jerked the Doctor about violently. "WHERE IS IT?"
The Doctor suddenly returned his smile, and tried to get out his response. The hand wrapped around his throat interfered with the process somewhat. Tamar tugged him down, bringing his head closer to his.
Tamar loosened his grip a little.
An already sizeable Time Lord smile grew even bigger.
Tamar took in that little nugget of information for a few moments before giving the Doctor the biggest 'do you think I'm an idiot' look the Time Lord had seen in some time. And after travelling with Rose, that was saying something.
Then Tamar heard the hissing noise. Looking down, he saw the great Donna Noble pressing the sonic screwdriver to his back. She appeared a little puzzled as to why the screwdriver was hissing rather than it's usual whirring. The puzzlement was quickly replaced with fear when she saw Tamar's feral glare.
He dropped the Doctor to the ground and turned on her. Bringing up an arm, he made to strike her. She cringed in expectation of the blow.
And then Tamar disappeared, vanishing in a literal puff of smoke.
Or puff of steam, as it were.
Donna stared at the cloud that drifted up into the air before rushing to the Doctor, who was steadily pulling himself to his feet by a guardrail beside him.
"Doctor? You all right?"
He nodded, coughing as he turned to the control panel.
"Where's Spade?" he croaked. He was going to have a sore throat for awhile, he realised. Shame. He liked talking.
"On the floor below us. I ran into him on his way down."
"Go and get him."
"All right, I- wait, what? No! Doctor, what the hell was that?"
"That!" she shouted, pointing to the spot where Tamar had once been standing. "With the… hissing and the… the puff of smoke or steam or whatever!"
He sighed and turned to her. "You remember in the caves, when the Krell first came for us?"
"And I was doing something with the sonic screwdriver?"
"Well, I was collecting a sample. And I noticed over time that when the Krell touched organic matter, they didn't just evaporate it, they absorbed it, spreading across the entire body, and the way they moved, it became obvious to me that they weren't just gaseous in nature, there was something more biological going on; they were multiplying on a cellular level, so when you injected Tamar with some of the Krell, BAM! They spread across him like Marmite on warm toast."
He steadied himself on the control panel and took a breath.
Donna stared at him, stunned for a moment. Then she just nodded, red hair shaking about all over the place.
"Um… yeah, yeah, fine."
"Then get Spade, move, move!" He clapped his hands for emphasis.
Donna turned and started to leave.
She stopped. "What?"
"That, give me that," the Doctor shouted, pointing to the sonic screwdriver.
She threw it to him, and she was on her way.
It didn't take her long to find Spade. Or it maybe it did, and it just didn't seem like a long time since the Doctor was engrossed in his work trying to fix the crushed Vortex Manipulator on the floor.
The miner, breathless, looked around the ventilation room. "Where's Tamar?"
"Steam," the Doctor said absently, waving the sonic screwdriver up down on the Manipulator.
Donna did a double take at that. "You what? You didn't tell me that!"
"Right-A!" He shouted, shocking both of his companions. Holding out the precarious looking device in front of them, he nodded for them to place their hands on it.
"Come on, don't have all day."
Slowly, they reached out and grabbed it.
"Right, okay." Rushing around like an excited three year old, he went to the control panel. "Just let me work some magic on the ventilation system…"
"What are you doing?" Spade asked.
"Changing the input valve. Most of these ships come with massive sample collectors. And if you're brilliant, which I am, you can set it to vent the air from the outside atmosphere into the ship."
Even with his back to her, the Doctor could tell Donna was less than pleased with that explanation.
"Wait, so you're sucking the Krell in here?"
"But we're in here!"
"Well, yes, but we won't be for long!"
He pressed one final button before darting back to them. The fans ground to a halt before chugging along in the other direction.
The Doctor tapped away on the Vortex Manipulator. "Right then, here we go."
"Um, Doctor?" Spade said.
"This looks pretty broken."
"Are you sure this is going to work, then?"
The Doctor paused. "No."
He pressed the button, and they disappeared in a flash of folding white light. Suddenly, with a violent push, the Doctor found himself outside, the searing heat from… well, everywhere reminding him of just how pampered those human ships could make one feel. Looking around, he saw the similarly disoriented Donna and Spade stumbling about in the blinding light.
"Doctor?" Donna muttered, reaching out for him desperately.
He grabbed on, smiling. "Ah, you're getting better at this."
Spade groaned. "I… banana…?"
Then he slumped to the ground.
"Looks like Spade isn't," Donna gasped, still breathless from the sudden shock of the heat.
"Come on, help me with him, there's the TARDIS."
The Doctor could see Donna smiling at the sight of the old girl, and something in him was pleased at that. It made him feel that there future was all the more secure. Latching onto an arm each, they heaved Spade up and started running for the blue box.
Glancing over his shoulder, he saw the rocket steadily bulk out, separate sections of the ship inflating from the inner pressure. By now, Tamar's consciousness would have merged with them. The Doctor could only imagine the kind of rage they were feeling right now. The idea that he had inflicted Tamar's personality on them for the rest of time made him ache.
But in the end, it just joined a long list of other aches in his soul.
Join the queue, no pushing.
As they approached the TARDIS, the Doctor fumbled for his key.
Something occurred to him.
Reaching out, he snapped his fingers, and the TARDIS doors swung open.
He grinned at Donna. "Oh, go on, my son! How good is that, honestly?"
She just rolled her eyes as they plunged through the doors. The Doctor released Spade almost straight away, sending him tumbling to the floor with Donna.
"Sorry!" he yelled, slamming controls and yanking levers down as he sent the ship hurtling through space and time and simply away from the planet Krell.
As the TARDIS engines thrummed to life, the Doctor watched through the monitor as the rocket exploded in a balloon of steaming energy, white metal and debris flying out in all directions.
The TARDIS made one final rumble before the Doctor opened a comfortingly squeaky door for Spade. None of that 'sliding around so smoothly the door's barely there' guff. Give him a squeaky door in desperate need of oiling any day.
Stepping out, Spade looked around in wonder.
"It's a space station."
"A Til'Hoon space station, to be precise," the Doctor said, strutting out with his hands in pockets towards a large viewport in front of him. "Should eventually be someone along to help you get wherever you want to go."
Spade nodded, smiling, although the expression gradually faded as his gaze fell on the stars ahead of him.
"And what about… everything that just happened? What am I supposed to do?"
Taking a breath, the Doctor nodded his head from side to side, keeping his eyes on the view. "Up to you, I suppose. You could always tell all, expose the NIGHT corporation for every little dirty secret you've learned in the past few days…" His eyes travelled to Spade. "Or you could disappear. But I know for a fact that they're going to keep on doing what they're doing, and nothing anyone does right now is going to do much to dissuade them."
"So… I should do nothing, right? I mean, if nothing I say is going to make a difference."
"Ah," the Doctor said loudly. "I didn't say that, did I? I said right now. Wait, oh, I don't know… ten years, three months, one week and two days? Should be the right time then."
Looking no better off for having heard that, Spade just nodded. "Uh… sure."
The Doctor thrust out a hand. "Good to meet you, Spade. Thank you."
"You as well. And uh," he nodded to the open door of the TARDIS. "Say thank you to her from me. I said it before I left but… I think she's a little out of it right now."
Chewing the inside of his cheek, the Doctor looked at the TARDIS. "Yeah…" Taking a loud breath with his nose, he smiled. "Right! Got to be off. Things to do, people to annoy, places to annihilate by my very presence… that sort of thing, you know."
Spade smiled. "Sure. See you around."
The Doctor thought about it for a moment. "Um… yeah. Sort of." Hands in pockets, he sauntered back to the TARDIS, closing the door behind him.
A few moments later, the door opened again. "Oh, by the way; make sure it's nine o'clock in the morning."
A wink was the only response. "You'll know at the time."
With the supremely confused look on Spade's face to amuse him, the Doctor closed the door and walked back to the controls. Donna sat on the chair on the other side of the console as he sent the TARDIS groaning on it's way. She stared blankly into the central column as it moved, her eyes reflecting the blue-green in an almost haunting way.
"So. On our way then? Allons-y, onwards and upwards, hi-ho silver, away?"
He sighed and walked around the console. Slowly sliding his hands from his pockets, he sat down next to Donna, folding his arms and crossing his legs. Not yet feeling the courage to look directly at her, he stared at the central column as well.
"For what it's worth… I'm sorry you had to do that."
"I'm not. He deserved it. He killed Tharsis and Venn and was about to kill you… and I had the sonic screwdriver and I saw that you were trying to use it against his arm, so I thought I should do that, and… I wasn't sure what it was going to do to you, so I just… I…" Glassy eyes looked at him. "I didn't…"
He finally looked at her, her teary eyes piercing his own. He wrapped an arm around her. "I know." That was all she needed. Her head fell onto his shoulder, tears staining his jacket.
They both stared at the console for awhile, letting the thrum of the TARDIS surround them.
The Doctor looked down at her. "So… how about we go somewhere a little more relaxing?"
She sniffed. "Yeah. Yeah, all right." A small laugh burst out. "If you know how to do relaxing."
"What do you mean? Of course I can do relaxing. I'm the definition of relaxing, me. Every time I play Pictionary and get the word 'relaxing' I draw a picture of me."
"No. You don't do relaxing. It's just not in you."
"Oh is it not, Miss Noble? Well," he shouted, jumping to his feet, "I'll show you! I'll give you the most relaxing time of your life. After I'm done showing you the next place, you'll be so relaxed, you won't want to relax ever again in your entire life!"
"I mean, honestly," he said, leaping around the console, slapping buttons and whirling dials, "it's as if you think I go looking for trouble."
With a final yank of a lever, they were away, the TARDIS pulling them along to another time, another place. And somewhere, the Doctor hoped, just that little bit more quieter.
As far as the Doctor was concerned, if anyone deserved it in the entire space-time continuum, it was Donna Noble, the best temp in Chiswick.
One hundred words a minute.
(A/N: And that's all, folks! Thanks to everyone who's stayed on board for the whole fic. I hope you've enjoyed it.
This has proven fairly popular in the past, so I thought I'd give you a little rundown of the various iterations this story had before I finally came to this. At first, there were two separate stories at work.
The first would have been a modern day Earth story about houses on a street exploding, with the police confounded by the cause. It would have ended up being steam creatures, but instead of the Krell, it was the Krillitane from the episode 'School Reunion', having been evaporated as a result of the explosion at the school. And instead of Tamar, the main villain would have been an initially amnesiac Headmaster Finch, who, since he took on human form permanently in that episode, survived the explosion. Confused and with little to no memories of his Krillitane activities, he would have been placed in an old folks home.
Harry Sullivan would have been involved in the story as a doctor for the care home. The Doctor and Donna would have become embroiled in the plot when they return back to Earth for some relaxation time for Donna.
The second story was very much inspired by the Tom Baker story 'The Ark In Space' (one of my personal favourites), and would have been the equivalent of a murder mystery in a space station, with most of the characters from this story involved. Again, Robert Allen would have ended up being the murderer rather than Tamar.
But as I went along, I couldn't think of a good reason for psycho Tamar to be there, and the first story didn't feel different enough from other modern day set stories I had read and seen. So I put them together, and made something that I feel is different yet still similar enough to evoke memories of old Who. Inspired by Steven Moffat's tendency to take the most everyday things and make them terrifying in Who, I heard the rumbling that old radiators make and thought that was a pretty ominous noise in itself. Unfortunately I think the move to a space station dulled the impact of such an everyday horror, but I'm mostly happy with how this turned out.
By the way, all the mentions and hints the Doctor has dropped all over the place is referencing another story idea I had midway through writing this, whereby a past incarnation of the Doctor meets Mr Night (head of the NIGHT corporation) after the events of this story. It would have been Five or Eight, although I was leaning more towards the latter since a) Eight is far more of a blank slate than Five, and b) I haven't written a solo Doctor story before, and Five was never by himself.
However, I've since come up with an idea for a solo Ten story that I'm far more excited about, so I think I'll be sticking with that. Sort of my own addition to the 2009 specials, set pretty much just after 'Journey's End' and before 'The Next Doctor'. An abundance of other fanfic projects are coming first, though (Half-Life abound, for those interested), so it'll probably come sometime next year.
Anyway, enough of my ramblings. Thanks again, folks!
Don't forget to review!)