"All right," Sondherson said. "So how do we fight this thing?"
"We find it," the Doctor said.
He looked around the room. "We need maps."
The Doctor held down a straight edge on the map and drew a line, straight southeast from their position.
"Somewhere along that line," he said, studying the map. "From the information in Janet's readings, and what I was able to pick up with the sonic screwdriver, the energy is a standing wave that's always been here, it's not apparently done anything so you didn't pay it any attention.
But when it reacts, it leaves a directional bearing, somewhere along that line."
"What's this?" Rory asked, leaning over the desk. The map was a topographical satellite map of the jungle, crisscrossed with various lines indicating communications sectors and flight routes, the groves picked out in red, there were more of them than Rory expected.
He was pointing at a blue circled area that the lines all avoided.
"No Fly Zone," Sondherson answered.
The Doctor raised his eyebrows.
Sondherson explained. "No shuttles are allowed to fly there. They can't, the instruments go crazy. Some sort of electromagnetic interference."
The Doctor grinned delightedly. "Then that's where we need to go," he stabbed a finger down on the circle.
"We can't," Sondherson said, looking uncomfortable.
He looked at the Doctor, looked away, took a deep breath.
The Doctor's eyebrows shot up. "You don't strike me as a man who believes in ghosts."
Sondherson frowned at him. "I'm not. But I know my history. We've had research teams going in there to investigate the cause of the electromagnetic interference, ever since it was first discovered. Then rescue teams sent in to rescue them when they didn't return. Then rescue teams going in after them.
"Eventually we lost so many people that it was declared a prohibited area. They even listed the reason as "haunted" in the official records.
"Because the only two people who ever made it out of there, were mad."
"It fits all the criteria," the Doctor said, he stood and expounded to the crowd. They'd all gathered back in the visitor's hall, Sondherson, Emma, Dr. Harris, the whole safari group, everyone who had any official contact with the phenomena, and the Trelwins.
"What criteria?" Erik asked, crossing his arms.
"It's on the right bearing, it's a 'forbidden place'," the Doctor made quotation marks with his fingers, "It causes electromagnetic disruptions when we're looking for the source of an electromagnetic field, and it's haunted.
"It practically screams 'Here be monsters,' he tapped the circle on the map they'd laid out across two shoved-together tables.
"Well, I guess that means we'll need the heavy ordinance," Erik said.
The safari members were arrayed around the room, on benches or sitting on the edges of the alcoves. Jute and Nelda were making a big fuss over Aaron. Janet was standing by Dr. Harris at the bar, nursing an ale.
"Won't the phenomenon get worse the closer we are to its source?" she mentioned.
"We'll take the Trelwin to serve as early warning detectors," the Doctor said.
"So how do they know when it's going to happen?" Sondherson asked.
The Doctor looked over at Zeke who was sitting on a table by the cook, Pickles, they were sharing a ripper fruit. "They see the finger of god," the Doctor said.
"How?" Rory asked, beside him, staring at the elder Trelwin.
"I'm assuming it's a survival trait, developed over the eons," the Doctor said, hitching a hip on the table by the map, everyone's eyes on him. "They can actually see the potential of the energy. When a person's thoughts are on the right," he interrupted himself, "or wrong, depending on your viewpoint," he grinned, "frequency, it creates a bridge - a potential that they can see, that's what they call the finger of god, the energy that dampens people." He pushed a finger down on top of Rory's head. Rory jerked back and shivered. "Don't do that."
The Doctor turned to Sondherson. "That's why Zeke attacked Aaron. He could see the potential gathering. He was trying to distract him, or knock him out, to cut off the though any way he could, before it could form the bridge. But he was too late."
Dr. Harris rubbed his forehead. "Then why strike him afterwards? Why bite him?" he asked, trying to understand.
The Doctor shrugged. "Elementary life support. They must have discovered that striking a downed Trelwin on the chest could sometimes revive them."
"And the bite?" Sondherson asked.
"Same thing," the Doctor said. "Adrenaline response." He waved to Dr. Harris. "Adrenaline is often used to revive a patient."
Dr. Harris nodded. "Usually by injection, though. A bite would only work if the patient was still responsive enough to produce his own."
The Doctor shrugged. "If they managed to stop the bridge by knocking someone out, biting them would probably revive them." The Doctor looked up, sad eyed. "When trying to revive a loved one, anything that works..."
Sondherson nodded. "Okay, so he was trying to help. Can't say I wouldn't have done the same if I'd known about this 'monster' then."
"So the Trelwin go with us as native guides and lookouts," Janet said.
The Doctor nodded, stood, and leaned over the map. "We don't know what bit of local knowledge might be vital until we get there. And, I think, they want to be there." He looked up at Sondherson. "The Trelwins have suffered under this thing for far longer than you have."
Sondherson nodded. So did Erik. There was a general mumbling around the room, everyone had some relative who'd been affected.
"So," Erik said, leaning over the map, studying it. "It will take us four days to reach the no fly zone. What then?"
One side of the huge double doors yanked open. Axel stuck his head in.
"Dr. Harris!" he called urgently. "We've got another two down! One of them's a Trelwin."
Harris grabbed his satchel, then looked up in surprise, he was already running for the door. "What?"
Axel held the door open for him, he looked back at all the curious faces inside, including Sondherson's. "Alexis got hit by this thing while she was milking the Sunsails, one of the Trelwin slapped her and they both went over. Fortunately they got snagged in a branch, I think 'Lexi's leg is broken, and the Trelwin is out too."
He turned back to the doctor. "I've got men hauling them up."
Harris turned to the Doctor, his eyes flickering between him and Aaron. "The Trelwin?" he asked, obviously out of his depth.
Aaron shifted himself higher in his bunk. "The devices should work on them too," he said urgently. "As long as it's still alive. Their cardiovascular system is similar to a humans." He signed something urgently to Nelda. She straightened up abruptly, signed back, and swung up the wall and out the transom window using the pegs beside the bunks.
Harris breathed out a sigh of relief, "Thanks." He and Axel left, the door slamming behind them.
The Doctor looked around at all the silent, shocked faces. He caught Rory's eye and Rory nodded back, understanding the implications. He and Amy detached themselves from his side and insinuated themselves into the other sides of the group, where they could help him keep a lid on things.
"This isn't over," the Doctor said quietly. "The ipods are only a stopgap measure. And humans seeing Trelwins attack humans aren't going to believe there isn't a connection. Not against the 'proof' of their own eyes."
He looked around the group with very old eyes, they all watched him, unblinking, a little bit lost.
"Neither humans nor Trelwins are safe until we find the source and stop it. We need hunters," he nodded at Erik. "We need ipods and life support units." He nodded at Emma. "We need transport to the No Fly Zone.
"And we need to move now."
"To get there you'll have to take one of the shuttles," Sondherson said, all business, leaning over the map. "That's several hundred kilometers from here. You'll have to set out from the mines," he tapped a black circle on the map. "That's the closest settlement."
"You've got mines?" Rory asked.
"Of course." Sondherson looked up. "We have to get our ore from somewhere."
"But I thought living on the ground was too dangerous?"
"It is. But the mines are under ground, naturally fortified. They mine and do the metalwork there and we ferry in supplies and gather the metal parts. And do personnel transfers as needed."
Sondherson scratched the back of his neck. "We can probably scrounge up half a load of produce. I'll get Axel on it. And I'll see who's due out for rotation. We can send along as many life support units and the Doctor's earpod units as we can spare." He looked around at the safari group. "Each of you will need to carry a life support unit and ipod as well, as well as your regular supplies and weapons."
Aaron spoke up from his bunk where he was still too weak to go home yet. He held up the stack of flimsies he'd talked Emma into getting for him. "I've studied these schematics, if all we need to do is streamline them for local materials, I think I can do that. Seaharbor Grove has that new deposit of crystals they found, they might work to provide the oscillation needed to tune the frequency. There are other things we can try. We'll figure something out."
"Thank you, Aaron." Sondherson said. "I'll get you anything you need." The old inventor nodded.
They were in the air before dawn. Erik, Janet, Bill, Jute, Pickles and Eula had agreed to come with them to form a jungle party. The rest of the safari team stayed behind to help protect the grove.
They were taking half a load of provisions and supplies as well as a couple of replacement workers to the mines, since the Yblins didn't believe in wasting fuel even for an emergency.
Amy giggled in her seat.
"What?" Rory said.
She shook her head. Sondherson had explained that there was a tradeoff between how big a shuttle they could fit in the shelter, and how big a load it could haul.
The result was a medium sized cargo shuttle - but with added collapsable cargo pods that could be towed along behind.
"I just feel like we're in a Winnebago - hauling a camper van," Amy snickered.
It was a six hour flight to the mines.
After about two hours the Doctor had exhausted all the curiosities of the atmospheric shuttle and sat in his chair for ten minutes. Kicking his feet.
"Well, this is boring," he said.
Amy and Rory grinned at each other. It was a miracle he'd actually managed to sit still for 10 minutes.
Zeke had managed to stay in his chair longer. But the Trelwin was now pressed up against the windows with Chitchi and Nelda. The Trelwins jumped from side to side of the craft comparing views. They weren't flying very high. But it was higher than the Trelwins had ever been before, their world spread out below them.
"Perhaps we could play a game of cards?" Janet suggested, seeing imminent disaster looming. Apparently she'd learned how to deal with the Doctor after being paired with him on safari.
"Excellent!" the Doctor said. "I'm excellent at Go Fish!"
The rest of the safari crew were in the next compartment, cleaning equipment or napping as suited their temperaments.
Erik brought in a carafe of lemonade from the tiny canteen behind the pilot's cabin. He settled in to join the game and pass the time.
Zeke, seeing the humans congregating in a circle, climbed over the chairs to watch them. He leaned over the Doctor's shoulder from his perch on the back of a chair and poked a long suedy finger at one of the Doctor's cards, the faint smell of cherries, butterscotch and leafmold wafted over them.
The Doctor spread out his cards and pointed to each one, then pointed around at the group.
Nelda was still glued to the windows at the front of the cabin. More smells wafted over them as Janet finished dealing the cards.
They all stopped to watch the Doctor apparently explaining the game to Zeke. He didn't say anything, but he leaned over and plucked a card out of Rory's hand.
He showed it to the Trelwin, running a finger over the multiplied pattern on its surface. The smell of raindrops wafting off him.
The Trelwin took the card, there was a brief sharp scent of black licorice, then the old Trelwin handed the card back to Rory, extending his long arm over the Doctor's shoulder, reaching easily across the table.
The Trelwin stared down at the Doctor, there was another blast of licorice, and the Doctor ducked his head at the scolding.
"You can talk to them?" Janet asked. "I mean, really talk to them, not just sign language?"
The Doctor looked up. "Yes. Their language is made up mostly of smells and body language. I'm usually better at languages, this is taking a while."
"You're speaking to him with smells?" Amy asked, confused.
"Yes, it's a bit like ventriloquism of the nose. I'm not really designed for scent speech, don't have the glands. By their standards I'm probably whispering."
Zeke tapped a heavy finger on his shoulder, there was the scent of violets, which Rory somehow took as a question. The Doctor looked up at the Trelwin and smelled of bark and leaves. The Trelwin sat back to watch, apparently satisfied.
Erik stared at him. "Is there anything you can't do?" he asked, disgruntled.
The Doctor grinned at him. "I can't make a decent meringue."
"We're coming up on the mines," the pilot's voice came over the intercom. "Everybody get strapped in."
Amy and Rory jumped toward the windows. There had been nothing but endless, unbroken jungle to see for hours, so they'd lost interest. Rory had even said he understood now why they hadn't been able to use the shuttle before. With all the trees, there was no place to land.
But now they crawled over the seats like a couple of kids, craning their necks to get a look. The Doctor leaned in behind them, looking over their shoulders.
Amy pressed her cheek to the window.
Rory stared, then turned and looked at Janet, where she and Erik were taking down the table and folding it away. "That's your mine?" he asked.
Janet grinned at him, obviously enjoying his response.
Amy pressed her cheek harder to the glass, eyes wide. "Oh my god!"
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