I'll be out of town for the holidays - sans internet, unfortunately. The next update *should* be posted on Jan 2nd. Happy holidays everyone and enjoy watching the Christmas special for me!
The Doctor and Rose return to the Shrine....
Rose continued to drift in and out of blackness. The pain in her head had ceased for the most part, but she felt completely drained. She was vaguely aware of a gentle rocking sensation, and a sense of descent. Turning her head, she felt her cheek brushing up against damp, smooth fabric. A faint but steady double heartbeat pulsed against her temple. Although the dampness wasn't entirely uncomfortable, it kept her from snuggling up as much as she'd have liked.
"In here. You may lay her down on the bed."
That was Sister Ohica. She'd recognize that voice anywhere. She could smell the fragrant oil of the burning torches - they must be back at the Shrine! Rose tried to struggle - tried to open her eyes, but she was fighting a losing battle. She was lowered down onto something very soft and extremely cushy. She tried to resist the urge to burrow into the downy material beneath her, to cling to the source of the double heartbeat instead, but she found that her limbs were leaden and lethargic, and she was unable to move.
"What's this room for then? You running a hotel now? Little gift shop on the main floor, is it?"
That was the Doctor. He sounded angry. Rose was getting incredibly sleepy again and she fought against the blackness.
"Nothing of the sort, Doctor. It is tailored to Time Lord specifications, for recovery after extraction. It will suffice for your companion for now."
Rose desperately wanted to start shouting at Ohica - she even considered giving her the patented 'Tyler slap' that her mother was so fond of - but weakness and lethargy prevented her from doing so. The bed was so comfortable that she couldn't help drifting off, despite the voices she could hear raised in argument a short distance away.
Rose's consciousness again resurfaced. She found that if she concentrated, she could lift her hand a bit. Her eyes fluttered open to reveal a small room with rock walls and plain, rustic furnishings. A rough-hewn wooden table stood beside the bed, a water-filled glass carafe resting on a golden tray on top. A fire flickered in a fireplace cut into the stone wall opposite the bed and was putting out a fair amount of heat. Her clothes had dried and were no longer damp and uncomfortable. Warmth and drowsiness seeped through her body as she lay listening to the voices that she could barely pick up outside the door to the room.
"You can't do this - please! Let me go back to the TARDIS since your collective is too weak to bring her here. I'll get the equipment I need to fix your Sacred Flame - properly."
"No, Doctor. We do not have time to waste. Since your arrival, we have lost more of our number. I have no doubt that you would eventually be able to restore the Flame, but it would take time. Time that we do not currently have to spare. I cannot lose any more of my sisters."
"But - my artron level - it's going to be dangerously high - it could kill you rather than extend your lives...."
"That is a chance I am willing to take. We of the Sisterhood may not possess the genetically-engineered bodies of your people, but we are similar enough to each other that it should not be as dangerous as you believe. I have confidence that Sister Valna will be able to refine your levels, once the artron is extracted."
"I want to see that Rose is okay."
"She will recover fully without ill effects. If you do not cooperate with us though, we will be forced to use her again as a means to persuade you...."
"No! You can't do that - she's human! Her mind is fragile...."
"Then cooperate. Do not resist us."
There was a long pause. Rose kept trying to roll to the side of the bed to no avail - she was too weak. She had to let the Doctor know that she would be strong - that he didn't have to cooperate with the Sisters to save her. She tried to cry out, but found that she had no voice.
"If I submit - to your extraction, you will let Rose go. Lyra too - I haven't seen her since we left. What have you done with her?"
"Lyra is to be punished for her traitorous act."
"No. I want your word - no, swear. Swear on the blood of your sisters that if I submit to your extraction, both Rose and Lyra will be freed - unharmed."
"I so swear."
Her stomach clenching, Rose found the strength to claw her way to the side of the bed. She tried to swing her legs out, but found that they would not support her and she crashed to the floor in an ungraceful heap. Blackness claimed her again.
"Here, sit up. Let me help you."
Rose felt herself being slowly eased up into a seated position. She was still on the floor of the room, and a dull ache in the region of her left temple was beginning to register. Her throat was parched and she was so very, very thirsty.....
"Water - please," she managed to whisper. She felt cool glass pressed to her lips and she tried to drink, but swallowing was painful.
"Here. Just sips."
The voice sounded familiar, but Rose couldn't quite place it. The liquid burned as it hit the back of her throat and she choked briefly, sputtering and gasping for breath.
"Shhhhhhh. Not so fast. We don't want to spill a drop."
Rose sipped again at the liquid. It wasn't water - it was cloyingly sweet, almost syrup-like in consistency. It tasted vaguely of the heady aroma of masses of flowers. She took another sip, but still couldn't place what she was drinking. She sipped at the last bit of fluid, and realized with some disappointment that it was finished.
"Good. Here, drink this."
Another vessel was pressed to her lips. Rose took a tentative sip, realized it was water and began to drink greedily. She finished with a satisfied sigh, a trickle of water dribbling down her chin. "Where...where's the Doctor?" she managed to rasp out.
"He is well. You need not be concerned - you must rest."
Rose felt two sets of hands hauling her up and pushing her back down on the bed. Her eyes fluttered open briefly long enough to see reddish orange robes with glimmers of gold over her. Rose wondered if Lyra was there as she allowed herself to sink back into the soft bedding. She drifted out of consciousness with a worried frown on her face.
Rose awoke again, feeling even more disoriented than before. The once blazing fireplace across the room from her had died down and was now only imparting a dim orange glow to the chamber, yet Rose felt extremely overheated. She shifted on the bed and gasped - her skin had somehow become exquisitely sensitive. She swore that she could feel every point of contact of her garments with her skin - especially over her breasts and abdomen. As she lay on the bed, the sensation grew more and more disconcerting until she was unable to ignore it any longer. Her hands grappled with her clothes as she decided that being wrapped in the satiny sheets beneath the soft bedding would surely irritate less than the air-dried stiff jeans and hoodie that she wore. Biting her lip to stifle a moan, she stripped down to her undergarments and slid quickly between the ivory-colored silken sheets. Momentary relief coursed through her, but was short-lived. She shifted again, trying to relieve the pressure building in her core and whimpered as molten heat shot through her body, concentrating at the junction of her thighs. Realizing that she could once again hear raised voices outside the room, she tried to ignore her body's increasing distress in order to listen.
"And why is it that I can't see her? What have you done?"
"The new soporific that Sister Valna has created is untested. We needed to make sure that it would not harm you. We will not risk the last remaining Time Lord."
"So you decided to test it on Rose, did you? You will let me see her. Right. Now."
Rose could hear the barely leashed anger in the Doctor's tone and shivered, the slight movement sending another jolt of heat coursing through her. She whimpered, biting her lip again to try to remain quiet. She didn't want him to see her like this.
"Doctor, I do not advise...."
"I said NOW!"
By the time the door had been unlocked and the Doctor ushered in, Rose was beyond trying to be quiet - or caring about her appearance.
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