Who? by mystica88
Summary: The Doctor and his three companions are trying to have a simple picnic when everything goes wrong. Before they know it they are swept up in the planet's politics and fighting for their own and innocents' lives. First story in A Passing Phaze series
Rating: All Ages
Categories: Eighth Doctor
Characters: Anji Kapoor, Fitz Kreiner, Original Companion, The Doctor (8th)
Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, General
Warnings: Explicit Violence, Swearing
Series: A Passing Phaze
Chapter 1: Chapter 1
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
Chapter 4: Chapter 4
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
Chapter 6: Chapter 6
Chapter 7: Chapter 7
Chapter 8: Chapter 8
Chapter 9: Chapter 9
Chapter 10: Chapter 10
Chapter 1: Chapter 1
Author's Notes: There is a new companion introduced and I swear that she will be explained by the third chapter so please be patient with her. This takes place between the books Anachrophobia and Trading Futures. It will be the first in a series with this new companion.
There was no one around in the desert as the trumpeting sound of a TARDIS materializing sounded in the canyon. A tall, blue Police box stood on there, fitting in as much as a sea bird with the desert landscape.
The Doctor stepped out of the TARDIS and took a lung full of fresh, though slightly arid air. He took a quick glance around before nodding his head to himself and strolled a little further away from his space-time ship so that his companions could follow.
Cassidy was the first to poke her head out. “So where are we now Doctor?” She looked out over an area that vaguely reminded her of the Painted Desert back home. Even though she had never actually been there, she had seen pictures and it made her slightly home sick. Travel through time and space had a tendency to do that to a person, but when your traveling companions are also not from your neck of the woods, it tended to make it that much more difficult. And that was true with the Doctor more than anything. Suddenly Cassidy shook her head to clear it of those memories. She had to be careful, she could easily get lost in them.
“Ghont,” he replied. “A rather unique planet. It has an unusually large number of plant and animal life for a planet as dry and warm as this one. The living organisms have developed to need less liquid then what most of the rest of the galaxy requires. Just take a look at the plant life,” he said as he threw his arm out, indicating their landscape.
By now Anji and Fitz had immerged and had heard the Doctor’s spiel. Fitz glanced around and noticed a small cope of trees near by. “Trees in a desert?” Fitz inquired.
They certainly had a resemblance to trees anyway. Though they also reminded him of very large cacti that were covered in a shaggy type of bark rather than needles. There were some small, narrow leaves covering it that were of a paler green than what he thought a tree should be, but it was mostly branches.
“Trees, bushes, a few flowers, it’s almost as if we found an oasis, just without the water,” the Doctor answered.
“The rocks are certainly nice looking,” Anji commented as she studied the rock formations. “Kind of reminds me of pictures of the Painted Desert,” she said echoing Cassidy’s thoughts. It was difficult to see very far since the lay was littered with huge rock formations with every color imaginable striating through their surfaces. It appeared as if they had landed in a type of gully as they were completely surrounded by the rocks.
“So why here?” Cassidy inquired.
The Doctor spun around and flashed them a brilliant smile before strolling by them once again and reentered the TARDIS. They stared after him for a moment, slightly baffled, before he immerged once again, clearly hiding something behind his back.
“I thought this would be a lovely spot for a picnic,” he said as he smiled once again at them and brought a large picnic basket from behind his back.
“No adventures today?” Cassidy asked mockingly.
“Nothing planned anyway,” Fitz muttered.
The Doctor chose to ignore Fitz’s comment and said to Cassidy, “I thought we all deserved a break today.” Walking forward, the Doctor linked his free arm with Anji and brought her along with him as he said, “Let’s take a look what’s over here.”
Cassidy and Fitz followed them, smiling at each other before imitating the Doctor and Anji. They walked under a rock formation, to just outside the gully that they had been in. There were still large rocks surrounding them in all but one direct besides the one they had come from. It was as if they had their own private room for their dining pleasure.
“This really is lovely,” Cassidy commented as they approached a little shaded area under one of the trees and a few of the large bushes.
“I thought you’d all like it,” the Doctor said as he sat down the basket and opened it up to pull a blanket out.
“Is there any intelligent life here Doctor?” Fitz asked as he strolled around while the Doctor, Anji, and Cassidy set up their picnic.
“Yes, but not for a long ways off. There aren’t any indigenous humanoids here, but a few cities worth of settlers. They have to remain near to the few bodies of water since they are not as adapted to the planet as the life that evolved here.”
The Doctor strolled over to stand next to Fitz as he watched the orangeish sun sink lower and lower in the sky. “How long until sunset?” Fitz asked.
“I’d say another two hours. Plenty of time to have a meal.” He said as he put his arm around Fitz and guided him back to the group where the girls had already pulled out their small feast.
Suddenly the canyon was filled with the echoing of motors and the harsh sound of male laughter. The girls jumped up as they all looked around quickly for the source of the disturbance.
The canyon began to fill with motorcycle like vehicles with a burly man on each one. The bikes were slightly longer than the ones that the three companions had seen. They made a slight crackling sound as they drew nearer, giving off a more acrid scent than gasoline fumes. They seemed to come from the canyon walls themselves as more and more drove in, circling around each other and working towards the small group of travelers. As they neared, they began to circle around the small grouping of plant life that the Doctor and company had set up under. The circling became ever tighter and tighter.
“What have we here boys?” one of the men shouted.
“Looks like a few sight seers.” Another laughed.
“With food and drink and everything. Must be pretty rich to afford all that. But how’d they get here?” another sneered.
“We’re just here for a day trip, we can leave if we have intruded,” the Doctor called to them as he tried to place himself between the men and his companions.
The men laughed back at them, still circling, still pulling in tighter and tighter. “In the middle of the desert, with no transportation and you think we can just let you go?” the apparent leader gaffed. “You know the rules. You enter Diablo territory, you belong to us.”
“I’m sorry,” the Doctor said coolly with a shake of his head. “We didn’t know the rules. But we will keep that in mind for next time.”
“What next time?” another laughed as he suddenly drove right towards them. The Doctor threw out his arm to push Fitz out of the way of the on coming biker, only to find that he hadn’t been aiming for Fitz at all. At the last second, the man swerved, expertly tossing out a thin wire rope with a small loop on the end. The loop slid over the Doctor’s outstretched hand and tightened, jerking him from where he stood and dragged a short distance along with the biker.
“Doctor!” Fitz and Cassidy shouted together as they lunged to grab him but were not fast enough. They both spun around as they heard Anji scream behind them as another flew by her, grabbing her from around the waist and hauling her away.
Two more came at them with another wire rope between them, catching them at just the right speed to not actually cut them, but knock them to the ground. Before they knew what had happened, rough hands were grabbing them and hauling them to their feet, forcing their arms behind their backs while they struggled furtively.
“Looks like we get a treat today,” the leader said as he jumped from his bike, dragging Anji along with him. “It’s been a long time since we caught anyone in our territory let alone four.”
Glancing around wildly, Cassidy and Fitz searched for where the Doctor had been taken. They watched horrified as a wire was thrown over a high branch of the tree and a second later the roar of a bike pulling away sounded as the Doctor was hoisted up by his still lassoed arm from the ground.
“Stop!” Cassidy cried out, but was only met with malice filled laughter.
More wire ropes were being flung up at the Doctor as they bikers continued to weave around and around below, wrapping him up in the strands.
“Bastards!” Fitz yelled as he broke one of his hands free and punched the man holding him. He was swiftly rewarded with first a lung emptying punch to his stomach, causing him to double over, then a foot into his face, breaking his nose and sending a stream of blood out of it.
“Fitz, don’t!” the Doctor called from where he was now helplessly strung up. The maneuvering had ceased as a few more of the men dismounted from their bikes.
“That’s good advice. But it doesn’t matter. Maybe in a little while we’ll string you up next to your friend, only with the loop around your neck instead.” The leader said as he kicked Fitz’s legs out from under him.
“What do you want?” the Doctor demanded, trying to draw the leader’s attention off of Fitz.
A maniacal smile spread over the leader’s face as he looked up at the Doctor. “Just a little fun. We’ll begin with you for now, but don’t worry, you’re friends won’t be left out.”
“Let them go!” the Doctor demanded. “You don’t know who I am. I might be able to help you with something or get something for you.”
The men all laughed again.
“It’s you who don’t know who we are,” the leader said. “We have no need for your help or your wealth. Whatever we need, we take; whatever we want, we take. But such a life can become rather boring.” Then, turning his attention from the Doctor he addressed his group. “Well boys, what shall we do with this one? Looks to me that he’s all ready to play our piñata.”
Wicked grins spread on several faces as a few of the men returned to their bike and began removing heavy clubs.
Immediately Cassidy and Anji began struggling to get free again. “You can’t do this!” Cassidy yelled impotently. This only brought about more laughs.
The men who had taken out the clubs were now all once again on their bikes, revving the engines. Cassidy, Fitz, and Anji were being dragged further away as the men began their circling once again, just underneath the Doctor.
As the men taunted him, the Doctor tried to remain cool as he worked at the bindings that bound him. There was not much else he could do about the painful noose around his wrist, but if he gained a little freedom of movement, there might be something he could do.
“Doctor!” Anji called out in fear for both him and herself. But there was nothing that he could reassure her with right then.
His stomach did a little flip flop as he suddenly was dropped a few feet for better range of the clubs. Next thing he knew, a rod impacted just below the back of his right knee as a biker rushed by under him. There was a sickening churching sound as a cry of pain was torn from the Doctor’s lips.
“Stop it!” Cassidy screamed, bordering on hysterics.
But the next biker wasn’t so lucky. By now the Doctor had managed to free his other hand and reached up on the wire, pulling himself higher and out of range of the next blow. Looping his tied hand around the wire and, holding himself there, he used his now free hand to loosen the rest of the bindings that still restricted him. But a sudden jerk of the wire from the other end caused him to lose his grip and fall back into their range once again.
As the next biker advanced, the Doctor swung himself at him, knocking the man from his bike with his uninjured leg.
“Enough!” the leader bellowed.
The men all pulled back, leaving a circle around the Doctor and their leader. “Doctor, is it?” he hissed.
“That’s me,” he answered, forcing himself to ignore the pain from his wrist, arm and leg.
“You’re ruining our fun,” the leader said after a moment with a sneer. With a quick nod of his head, the one who still supported the wire looped over the branch released it, sending the Doctor crashing to the ground. But before he could free himself, the wire was thrown back over the branch and caught by the leader, once again pulling it taunt.
Sprawled on the ground, the Doctor and the leader glared at each other for a few breaths until finally the leader broke the silence as he moved decisively. “I guess I’ll just have to show you what a drag you are Doctor.” And he was suddenly on his already running bike, throwing it in gear and taking off as he simultaneously secured his end of the wire to his bike.
With a wrenching lurch, the Doctor was pulled away and dragged along the cracked rocky ground after the retreating biker.
The men all laughed at the sport that their leader was making of this intruder as Fitz tried again to gain his freedom. He managed to stagger a few feet away from his captor, but found himself quickly surrounded by others who realized that he had gotten free.
Seeing how everyone was suddenly distracted by Fitz, Cassidy stomped down as hard as she could on her captor’s foot and on the rebound, kicked her foot back and up, right into the man’s crouch.
He quickly released his grip as his mind was otherwise occupied with the waves of pain. Leaping for the man’s bike, Cassidy jumped on. A split second later, she was spinning the bike around and barreling down on the man that was still holding Anji. The man released her as he caught sight of the bike and leaped out of the way, allowing Cassidy to reach out and haul Anji up on the bike behind her.
Spinning once again, Cassidy drove right into the group that was just starting to break up around Fitz as they realized that something else was happening. The men all bailed out of her way.
As Fitz saw what was happening, he too jumped away, but his aim was a little more direct then simple fleeing. He grabbed at the nearest unoccupied bike, swinging himself up and on. Before the others knew what was happening, both Cassidy, with Anji behind her, and Fitz were chasing after their leader on their bikes.
The leader had dragged the Doctor right out of the canyon and out into a more open part of the desert. He wasn’t going as fast as his bike could, but fast enough to make sure that this doctor felt every stone and crack that he ran over. He knew this new game would be relatively short since it didn’t take too long for this kind of punishment to end in the recipient’s death. But he smiled to himself with the pleasure he was going to get out of those two girls. He decided that his men could have the other male to do with as they please. And he might even let them have one of the girls, after he tried them both out of course.
Cassidy and Fitz pushed their bikes as fast as they could go and saw that they were gaining on the leader and the Doctor. Cassidy bit her lip as she watched the trail of dust billow up from where the Doctor was against the ground. Anji glanced over at Fitz and yelled over the roar of the engines, “How are we going to get him loose?”
Fitz just shook his head and pushed his bike a hair faster. Cassidy completely understood. They would worry about that when they caught up. But right now they just needed to get there as fast as possible.
The Doctor was barley holding on to consciousness when he realized that there were two more bikes on either side of him. A hand was reaching out and he instinctively reached for it, grabbing a hold of a small but strong hand. Somewhere in his mind he knew that it was Anji’s, but beyond that he couldn’t concentrate.
He found that he was being lifted off of the ground slightly, but his legs were still dragging. Another arm reached out and grabbed his collar pulling him a bit further up as another from his other side, wrapped around his waist. The two bikes were dangerously close together and he wanted to warn them of that, but it hardly seemed the time to argue.
Suddenly the hands on his collar and hand released, propelling him toward the one that held his waist. He felt himself being swung up behind the other and he instinctively wrapped his own arm around the waist as his hand was released.
“Stay with him Fitz!” Cassidy called, indicating the still oblivious leader as she edged her bike even closer to Fitz’s where the wire still attached the Doctor to the other bike. Fitz stayed right with him and eased slightly closer to relieve some of the slack. He glanced over at Cassidy and realized that somehow she had managed to grab the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver off of him when they hauled him off of the ground.
One handed, she fiddled with the setting for a second before reaching out and placing it against the wire. A second later, the wire snapped and they swerved off, breaking the direct pursuit of the leader.
“Hold on!” Fitz called to the Doctor as they suddenly banked away. He felt the Doctor’s arm around his waist cling almost too tightly as they moved but he noticed that his now freed arm did not reach to secure himself.
Fitz could feel the Doctor breathing heavily against him as his now single heart pumped furiously against Fitz’s back.
“Doctor?” Fitz called back to his friend.
“Just keep going Fitz,” a voiced wheezed at his ear.
Of course that was all that they could do. It had taken a while, but the leader had now realized that he no longer was dragging his victim behind him and he swerved after them from one direction. From the other, the other bikers who had quickly recovered from their humiliating defeat were approaching.
They flashed across the desert, probably pushing the bikes faster than they were meant to go because the expert bikers were falling further and further behind. As the leader joined his men once again in the pursuit, he realized that there was going to be an easier way to catch their victims again. He signaled a halt to his men.
“Those idiots are going to run those bikes down in a short while and the sun is almost set. Let’s return back to the rocks for the night. We’ll catch them still trying to make it across the desert on foot tomorrow and by then they will practically be begging us to take them back just for a drink of water.”
The men agreed with laughs and they retreated back to the canyon where they had come from.
“I don’t think they’re following us anymore,” Anji informed Cassidy.
The younger woman glanced over her shoulder and confirmed it. There was no sign of their pursuers. Glancing around, she spotted an extra thick patch of vegetation and gently altered her course to reach it.
Fitz followed and they soon came to a stop just inside of the foliage.
Jumping off of the bike, Anji ran to the Doctor, “Doctor! Are you alright?” she said urgently as she reached out and helped to support him as Fitz got off of the bike.
“I’ve been better Anji,” he managed to say before wincing from the way that she had grabbed his right arm.
“What is it?” Fitz asked him as he held him from the other side.
“I think it’s dislocated,” the Doctor muttered.
“Can you move? We’ve got to get further in here incase they are still looking for us,” Cassidy said worriedly.
Nodding weakly, the Doctor reached out his good arm to Fitz, who placed it around his shoulders. With grunts of pain and effort, Fitz managed to help the Doctor off of the bike and support him as they forced their way deeper into the dense vegetation.
“How’s your nose Fitz?” The Doctor inquired as he tried to concentrate on anything other than his pain.
“My wha…?” Fitz started. “Oh yeah, I almost forgot,” he said as he reached a free hand to where he suddenly realized his nose was throbbing. “I think it’s broken,” he said with a slight gasp when his fingers brushed it. He glanced at his fingers and saw that he was still bleeding slightly.
“I’m sorry Fitz,” The Doctor panted.
“I’ll be fine,” Fitz assured him.
The Doctor had to put nearly all of his weight on Fitz every time he brought his right leg under him. His injured leg completely refused to take any of his weight.
Suddenly, they broke into a small clearing in the plants where Fitz tried to sit the Doctor down as gently as he could but felt as if he had practically dumped him to the ground.
Glancing up, Fitz realized why the vegetation was so dense here. They now found themselves right next to a very small and weak spring.
“This is good,” Cassidy said as she turned from the spring she was just examining and back to Fitz and the Doctor. Anji was making sure that the bikes were better hidden before following them in and had not reached them yet.
Tentively, Cassidy reached out her hand and touch the Doctor’s shoulder. He was lying on his side, now barely breathing.
“Doctor?” she said urgently.
His eyes flickered as he muttered, “I’m alright, just… rest,” before he seemed to fade out again. Fitz glanced down and realized what was the worst problem. Reaching down he touched the back of the Doctor’s head and pulled his hand up to show Cassidy, it was covered in blood.
“Oh God,” she breathed as she firmly took the Doctor in hand and shook him. “Doctor!” she called. “You can’t sleep!”
His eyes flickered once again as he practically whispered, “So tired.”
“You can’t sleep, you have a concussion!” she called at him again. This time he managed to open his eyes and keep them open.
“Yes, I know,” he said with a little more clarity. “You’re right,” he said weakly. “Don’t let me sleep.”
Between Fitz and Cassidy they managed to sit him up. By now, Anji had returned with two canteens and a dirty blanket from the bags on the bikes.
Cassidy was shrugging off her t-shirt that she had on over top of a tank top and pulling it into strips. “Anji,” Cassidy said glancing up at her, “give your shrug to Fitz to tear up and douse these in the water there,” she said as she handed her strips of cloth to the other woman while indicating the spring.
Anji did as instructed as she asked, “How is he?”
“Concussed and pretty beat up,” Cassidy replied as she and Fitz struggled to help the Doctor out of his now very ragged and torn jacket and shirt.
The next few minutes there was little sound from their hiding place than the grunts and gasp of pain from the Doctor as they freed his clothing from his wounds.
Finally, they were able to see the extent of the damage. His back was riddled with gashes and gouges from the rough ground. His right arm had in fact been dislocated as well as torn up pretty badly. Blood was dripping from where the wire had bit into his wrist and his right leg was broken just below the knee. But what still worried them all the most was the obvious concussion.
Cassidy had Fitz sit so that he could support the Doctor as she used the now wet strips of cloth of clean and then bandage his head the best she could. Then taking a few more strips, she cleaned his back and wrapped that as much as she could as well as securely wrapping and tying his cut wrist. Using what was left of the Doctor’s tatter overcoat, Anji secured his arm in place to keep it from being jarred, but they didn’t know how to relocated a dislocated shoulder. None of them knew how to set bones so there was not much that any of them could do for his leg either. They had to either find help or make it back to the TARDIS; but since the TARDIS was obviously in enemy territory, there wasn’t a lot of hope in that.
By now, the sun had completely set and the night was becoming rapidly cooler. Spreading out the blanket, they laid the Doctor back down and Fitz put his leather coat over his still naked chest. Anji volunteered to take the first watch, which was a double duty. Not only did she have to keep an ear out for the bikers, but make sure that the Doctor didn’t go to sleep as well.
Cassidy and Fitz moved off to discuss their options quietly before attempting to get some sleep. Fitz was using one of the dampened strips to wipe away the drying blood from under his nose.
“We have to find help,” Cassidy said. “There must be someone else out there. The leader said something about this being their territory, which would imply that there is more than one group around. Maybe their enemies would have sympathy for us.”
“Or maybe they’re just another group of thugs out for a few kicks by harassing the tourists,” Fitz replied.
“Yes, that is also a possibility, but I don’t see how we have much choice. The Doctor needs medical help that we can’t give him. We can’t make it back to the TARDIS safely so the only option left is to find others.”
“And where do you purpose we look? It just looks like a lot of open desert to me. The Doctor said that there isn’t any one for a long ways off.”
“He also said that the people gather around water sources.”
“What good is that information?”
“The water from that spring, it is just getting soaked into the earth again, but as some of it pools, it runs off in that direction, that means that way is the water shed and that is the way that we’ll find a body of water.”
Fitz thought for a moment before saying, “Alright. I guess you’re right. We don’t have much of a choice.”
“Right, now I think that we had better try and sleep for a few minutes at least. We should leave before dawn and since I have no idea when that will be on this planet, we better not stay here for more than a few hours.”
“Alright. But I’ll take over for Anji right now and let her get some sleep,” Fitz volunteered.
Cassidy shook her head as she said, “I think that it would be better if we slept tonight. She can rest on the bike. I’ll take the Doctor tomorrow and you can take Anji. You’ll be a little steadier to keep her up if she begins to drift off. I’ll just have to make sure the Doctor doesn’t drift off. Not to mention, I have no idea what these bike run on, but it would be more fuel efficient to have equal weights and this division is going to be the most equal that we are going to be able to get.”
Fitz nodded. “Fine. But I don’t see how we’ll get much sleep out here. It’s getting pretty cold.” He said with a slight shiver.
“You’re telling me,” Cassidy muttered as she followed back to their hiding spot while running her hands over her bare arms.
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Chapter 2: Chapter 2Chapter 2
Cold hardly began to cover what it got that night. They finally decided that they needed to leave even earlier than they had planned just to keep their blood moving. Blearily, the Doctor offered Fitz’s coat back, but of course he refused.
“I’ll be fine. I can get up and move around. You need it a lot more than me.”
“I can stand g-g-greater c-c-old than y-you.” He chattered.
Cassidy came up along side him and laid a hand on his shoulder as she gently said, “You could. But you’re not exactly what you used to be. And even if you still had your second heart, you would still be just as injured as you are now and require the extra warmth anyway.”
The Doctor began to nod, only to stop himself with a wince of pain. Fitz, decided that it was time to get going anyhow.
“Come on,” he said as he gently took the Doctor’s left arm and pulled it around his shoulders. It was much like the evening before getting back to the bikes. Anji once again went first and uncovered them as Cassidy led Fitz with the limping Doctor back out.
Cassidy got on her bike and this time Anji helped Fitz place the Doctor behind her. “Alright then?” Cassidy asked over her shoulder.
“Let’s go,” he responded.
Nodding at Fitz and Anji, Cassidy started the bike and led the way towards where she hoped to find more people.
As they went, Cassidy talked to the Doctor, trying to keep him awake. “Do you think that looking for help is the best idea?” she asked.
“It’s the only idea,” he said. “We can’t very well stay in the desert and getting back to the TARDIS isn’t an option either.”
“I just hope our bikes make it. I have no idea what they run on, but eventually it’ll run out.”
“I doubt it,” he sighed as he tried to keep from wincing from being jarred by a rock under the bike.
“Why?” There was a pause where he didn’t respond. “Doctor?”
“I… What?” he said drowsily.
“I asked why do you think that the bikes won’t run out of fuel?”
“They’re electromagnet powered. Magnets in the wheels generate a charge that powers the bike. A starter battery gets it going, but the movement of the bike itself is what keeps it going.”
“I guess that we don’t have to worry about fuel then.” Cassidy said.
They were silent for a little while until Cassidy felt his grip on her begin to relax. “Doctor, you’re not falling asleep on me are you?”
“Doctor!” she said sharply as she turned her head slightly towards him.
“You were drifting again.”
“I’m sorry Cassidy. I’m just so tired.”
“I know. Just stay with me… Tell me about one of your adventures before I showed up.”
She cut him off, “Yes you can… How about Hope? I think Anji mentioned that you went to a city called Hope near the end of the universe. What happened?”
“I was an idiot,” he said.
“I pushed the TARDIS too far.”
“How? Give me specifics Doctor. Tell me exactly what you did, even if I won’t understand.”
He sighed before forcing himself to relate everything that he had done to get them to Hope and then got into what all happened there.
Meanwhile, Fitz was keeping an eye on the Doctor from behind.
“Have you ever seen him so weak before?” Anji asked him.
Fitz had been lost in his own thinking and missed Anji’s question. She poked him hard in the ribs.
“I said, have you ever seen him so weak before?”
Nodding slowly he answered, “yes, once. It was just before you and I met. I didn’t think that was going to live then.”
“And now?” Anji asked worriedly.
“Oh, this is actually not near as bad as then. He’ll be fine. He is the Doctor after all,” Fitz was quick to reassure Anji.
Anji shook her head and glanced behind them. The sun had risen to their right and was now just beginning to warm up the air. Anji squinted in the still not quite full light at something on the horizon. “Fitz,” she said. “I think that we’re being followed.”
Fitz looked back and saw what Anji was looking at. There was a plume of dust a long ways off in the distance. At first Fitz was reminded of a sand storm, but there was no wind. As he looked, he somehow knew that it was the dust kicked up from a large number of bikes moving quickly.
Pushing his bike to catch up with Cassidy and the Doctor, he pulled a long side of them.
“They’re behind us,” Fitz called to them.
Cassidy glanced back and saw that Fitz was right. “Doctor,” she said. “Yesterday we got away pretty easy, it was as if they didn’t want to push their bikes as fast as we were. Do you know why?”
“The faster you go, the more charge that is generated. Too fast for too long could overload the mechanisms.”
“So we were lucky yesterday.” Cassidy stated. “And now we need to go faster than them again. Do you think we can chance it?” she asked.
He didn’t respond right away and Cassidy was about to check him again for drifting off but he said, “Short burst maybe. Run it too long and it’ll overload.”
Nodding, she called over to Fitz. “Fitz, stay with me, we can’t run at high speed for too long so I’m going to be adjusting speed. Just follow my lead.”
He nodded back at her and let them accelerate a little ahead before matching speed himself.
“It’s me that they’re most angry with,” The Doctor said. “Leave me and they might not keep following.”
Cassidy snorted as she shook her head and said. “Doctor, you know we won’t do that and that is also bad logic. We’ll still have their bikes and I’m sure that they’ll want them back. Besides, it seemed that they were interested in all four of us, not just you. And it was we who humiliated them the most by escaping in the first place.”
He didn’t suggest it again but Cassidy forced him to continue on telling his story. She listened as more and more his energy lessened. She knew they needed to find him help soon but she made sure that she didn’t go flat out constantly as she wanted to. It wouldn’t be any good for her to damage their bikes. There was no way that the Doctor was going to be able to walk anywhere and the Diablos were sure to catch them then.
The heat was also beginning to become oppressive. They had arrived on the planet near sunset the day before and so it had already begun to cool. They had no idea how hot it could get there as midday grew closer.
Glancing back, Cassidy saw that the dust cloud was a bit smaller and further off than it had been. She was just about to slow and stop as the Doctor muttered absently, “This feels rather familiar, only backward.”
Cassidy had to smile slightly at that. Of course it did.
“Doctor, I think we’ll be alright to stop for a few minutes.”
But he wasn’t listening anymore.
Slowing to a stop, Cassidy found a small patch of shade under a large rock formation. The land was still littered with them, even if it was a bit more open than where they had landed.
Fitz followed behind her. As she began to get off, Fitz pulled up and asked, “Why are we stopping?”
Cassidy was holding the Doctor up as he wavered on the bike.
“We need to rest for a moment, get a drink. It’s getting too hot.”
“We need to keep moving,” Fitz said as he got off as well and came up along the other side.
“Doctor?” he asked.
He didn’t answer but teetered a bit further towards Cassidy. Catching him, she nearly fell over. Fitz reached out and pulled him back. “Doctor!” he said urgently.
His eyes flickered as he muttered something unintelligible.
Cassidy and Fitz exchanged a worried look between them as Anji came up beside them.
“What’s happening?” she demanded.
They were silent for a moment.
“Fitz!” Anji prompted.
“I can’t wake him,” Cassidy supplied as she and Fitz worked together to lower the Doctor off the bike.
“Can’t… slee…” the Doctor muttered.
“He’s not out yet,” Fitz said with a little glimmer of hope.
“Anji, get the water,” Cassidy said.
A second later, she was handing Cassidy one of the canteens.
“Doctor,” she said gently as she pulled out the stopper.
He opened his eyes a little and blearily looked up at her but said nothing.
“Here, drink,” Cassidy said as she brought the edge to his lips with one hand while supporting his head with the other.
Weakly he let Cassidy tip some of the liquid into his mouth. He swallowed some before a little of it slipped down the back of his throat and he began choking.
Cassidy winced as she pulled the bottle away. “Sorry Doctor.”
He very slightly shook his head once as he took a deep breath and leaned back again. He was sweating and Cassidy realized that it was more than just the heat.
“I think that some of his cuts are infected,” she said worriedly as she wiped a little sweat off of the Doctor’s brow.
Anji reached into her pocket and pulled out a piece of the cloth that they had torn yesterday and handed it to Cassidy.
Taking it, she doused it with a little water before handing the canteen to Anji. “Here, take a drink.”
“He needs it more,” Anji protested with a shake of her head.
“We all do,” Fitz told her.
Anji nodded as she reluctantly took the bottle.
Cassidy was dabbing the damp cloth across the Doctor’s forehead. “We need to get him out of the heat,” she said anxiously.
“There’s not much hope of that,” Fitz said as he took the canteen from Anji and took a quick drink of it for himself.
“We have to keep going,” Anji said. “There’s still not much choice in that.”
“I know,” Cassidy sighed as she watched the Doctor shiver slightly. In this heat, that was not a good sign. “We’ll rest a few more minutes, then keep going. Fitz, you can take the Doctor. He told me that our bikes are made so they don’t run on fuel so we don’t have to worry about that. We’ll probably have to tied him on so he won’t fall off.”
Borris was more than a little upset when he realized that his prisoners had not run the bikes down. As the leader of the most feared gang on Ghont he was feeling rather pissed off that four, seemingly minor people, were able to slip through his grasp.
He had lead his gang across the desert this morning, following the trail of the his two stolen bikes only to find where they had stopped and then left once again. He was sure that at the speeds that they had taken off the day before that those incompetents would have practically exploded their bikes in no time.
Now he was left looking like the fool. There was going to be hell to pay for this once he caught them. And they were headed right for Purespring where he would have no problem wrestling them from those pathetic townsfolk. They were going to suffer for this…
A few minutes later they were off again with a new sense of dread and urgency but not able to do anything about it but keep going.
The sun was just past it zenith when they finally caught sight of buildings in the distance. By now they had drank nearly all of the water and the Doctor was barley conscious for more than a few moments at a time.
They put on one last burst of speed and reached the small town in a few moments. It wasn’t very large and rather reminded them of an old west town with maybe a bit more metal than wood for the building materials.
As they pulled in, the streets were completely devoid of people. “A ghost town?” Cassidy said.
“Doesn’t look abandoned. More like just before a big show down,” Fitz replied
It seemed that Fitz was right as a man poked his head out of a door near by. They looked at him and he quickly retreated once again.
“Wait. Please!” Anji called after him jumping off the bike and went towards where he disappeared. “We need your help!”
Before she reached the door, he hesitantly stepped out again. Anji paused as he examined first her and then the other three. Finally resting his eyes on the Doctor.
“You’re not Diablos,” he muttered.
“No, we escaped from them yesterday. Our friend is very badly hurt. Please, can you help us?” Anji pleaded.
He stepped further out and looked around. Anji followed his eyes and noticed that others were beginning to appear from hiding as well.
“You escaped?” he said rather awed.
“Yes, can you help us?” she persisted.
He walked out further and towards the others. Cassidy was checking the Doctor over as Fitz was steadying him while untying the scraps of the blanket they had used to secure him. “Are they after you?” the man asked as he approached.
“We think so,” Cassidy answered.
By now another man was approaching them. “What happened?” He said with an air of authority as he gently nudged Cassidy aside.
“He was dragged behind one of their bikes for a ways before we got to him. His shoulder is dislocated, his leg broken and he has a concussion. I also think that he may have gotten an infection.”
The man spent a few minutes looking the Doctor over. He was currently out of it again.
He looked up at the first man and said. “He needs attention right now, Mathis.”
The other looked worried before saying, “You know we can’t hide them if the Diablos are after them. They’ll punish us.”
“You can stop them,” Fitz said. “You’re a whole town.”
“A town that they feel they own. They’ve killed before but mostly they terrorize. We are no match for them. We have nothing to fight back with,” Mathis explained.
“We can’t send them away,” the other argued.
“And we can’t keep them, Jap.”
“What do we do then?” Cassidy said angrily.
A woman was approaching, “They have bikes Mathis,” she stated.
He got a look of concentration before saying to them, “You could make it to Rushwater, the capital, and get help for your friend and us there. We haven’t been able to, it’s too far and we have no vehicles.”
“He needs help now,” Anji protested.
“Mathis, we can hide him if the Diablos think that we sent them away. Let the others go to Rushwater and, in exchange for their help, we can take care of their friend,” the woman offered.
Pondering for a second more, the Mathis nodded. “Alright,” he said. “We’ll take him, but you have to go on to Rushwater. They’ll help us and you. If you stay here, the Diablos will find and kill you and punish us.”
Fitz and Cassidy exchanged a quick look before Fitz said, “I guess we still don’t have much of a choice.”
Nodding, Cassidy turned to Mathis and said, “Fine, but Anji will stay here too, and we need more water. How far is it to Rushwater?”
“By bike, two days,” Mathis said.
Cassidy sighed. “We need food and water and something warm for at night. We didn’t leave with very much.”
“I’ll see to it,” the woman said as Jap signaled for some more help to carry the Doctor away.
Anji came up to Fitz and said, “Be careful and hurry back.”
“Take care of him,” he told her.
Jap let the other men who had come forward take the Doctor inside one of the buildings as he returned to the travelers. “He’s not in good shape, but I should be able to patch him. We may look rather simple here, but I’m the best physician around. I’ll make sure he recovers.”
“Thank you,” Cassidy said.
“You should let me take a look at that nose of yours before you go,” Jap said to Fitz. By now it had bruised and blackened on his face around his nose that was a bit flatter than it should have been.
“That’s alright. We need to keep going before they gain anymore on us,” Fitz told him.
“Alright, but make sure as soon as you get to Rushwater you get it taken care of.”
By now the woman had returned with several filled canteens and what looked like a small bundle of blankets.
“Here, there’s food in the blankets and this should be enough water for you if you’re careful. We don’t have much to give. Our spring isn’t as healthy as it used to be.”
“Thank you,” Fitz said as he took the items from her and began packing them in the bags on the bikes.
Mathis turned to Cassidy, “I’m sorry that we can’t be a bit more helpful, but there is nothing more that we can do,”
“We understand, thank you for taking him,” she said, nodding towards the house that Anji and the Doctor had disappeared into.
“When you get to Rushwater, tell them that Purespring is under threat from a new gang, they go as Diablos, and they have been terrorizing us for months.”
“Alright,” she answered. “How do we convince them that we’re telling the truth?”
“Take this,” he said, pressing what looked like a small copper coin into her hand. “It’s the seal of Purespring and they’ll recognize it as such.” Then Mathis gave her a sadly ironic smile as he said, “If they need more proof, then they’ll just have to come here and see what they’ve done to your friend.”
Cassidy nodded, “One more reason for you to take good care of him,” she pointed out as she got back on to her bike.
She and Fitz started them up again and prepared to leave. “Good Luck,” Mathis said to them.
Nodding, they lurched onward, back to the open desert.
Back to index
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
Author's Notes: Alright, I think I mentioned before that I don't have a beta for this though I thought that my regular one was going to do it for grammar but she very quickly lost interest. In my rough drafts though, I had written little side notes to her for clarification on cannon and whatnot, so if somehow these notes slipped into the posting, please let me know. Also, I have changed a few names from my original so if there is an inconsistency, again, let me know... Thanks :)
The first thing Jap set about doing was fixing the Doctor’s shoulder. Anji watched on as the Doctor hardly stirred other than a slight moan of pain when his arm was popped back into place.
“He’s really out of it,” Jap’s assistant, Toller, commented.
“All for the better. That leg is going to be worse and I don’t have anything for him to dull the pain,” Jap replied.
“He will be alright, won’t he?” Anji demanded.
“Yes. I’ll make sure of it,” Jap said firmly.
Toller took Anji aside as Jap went to get more antibiotic and splints. “Jap has never lost a patient. He’s too stubborn to give up on someone.”
Anji nodded with some relief. “Then the Doctor has a good chance considering he’s too stubborn to give up either.”
Right as Jap returned, they heard the roar of bikes outside once again.
“Mathis!” the leader called as the bikers filled the once again abandoned streets.
Fearfully, yet with as much confidence that he could muster, Mathis stepped outside to meet the Diablos.
“I’m here, Borris. What do you want this time?”
“We’ve followed the trail of two bikes here Mathis,” Borris said as he dismounted. “Four of our play things have escaped on those bikes. You wouldn’t happen to have seen them, would you?”
“Yes we did. But when we heard they were on the run from you, we refused to help.”
“We’ll, that was almost right,” Borris said. “But you should have held them here for us.”
“They had Diablo bikes. You’ve said that the bike is a sign of freedom. Besides, I couldn’t see how they could have escaped from you if you hadn’t let them. For all I knew, they were a hunt for you.”
Borris grinned, “Finally it seems like your beginning to understand Mathis. I’m glad to hear it. But I’m not sure I believe you.”
“Just see the tracks for yourself, two bikes left here.”
Borris had already seen this. “One of them would have been injured. Are you sure you didn’t take anyone in?”
“No, Borris. I would never have done something as stupid as that.”
“Of course not,” Borris grinned.
“Keller! Gairth!” Borris called. Two of the bikers joined their leader. “You’ll stay here and make sure that the scum aren’t still around or return. It looks like they went on to Rushwater and we have to stop them before they reach it. We’ll be back in no more than four days.”
“Sure thing Boss,” one of them said.
“They’ll be staying with you, Mathis,” Borris said shoving a finger at him. “And if you have lied to me, your family will be the ones punished this time. Got it?”
“Good. And you two,” he said to Keller and Gairth, “If you find anyone, kill them! If that… Doctor… is still here, just kill him. I don’t want him hanging around. If anyone else is with him, do what you want but make sure they’re dead before I return, got it?”
“Yes boss,” they replied in unison.
“Don’t fail me again. You let them escape in the first place on your bikes and you better pray that you don’t miss them again!”
They nodded as Borris walked back to his bike and led the others out with another roar.
“Anji,” Jap said, “help Toller hold him steady while I set his leg,” after he heard the group leave.
Anji nodded as she moved to the Doctor’s right side and held his shoulder.
Jap had a look of intense concentration as he took the Doctor’s right leg in hand and prepared to straighten it out. Anji braced both her muscles and nerves as Jap took hold of the leg.
With no warning, Jap pulled and twisted the leg back into shape. The Doctor suddenly tried to jerk away as a yelp of pain escaped his lips. Anji and Toller had to work to keep him from moving too much while Jap continued to pull and twist.
He continued to moan but still didn’t seem to come around. “Doctor,” Anji tried to call to him. “It’s alright, he’s trying to help.”
But he couldn’t hear her. He was on a level of instinct only and all his mind knew was that some one was causing him pain.
Just as Jap got the leg set and began to bind it to a splint, the woman who Anji had met outside, Clara, rushed in. “Quiet him!” she said in a harsh whisper. “There are still two here and they heard him.”
The Doctor was still moaning as Anji quickly moved and put a gentle hand over his mouth. She got down next to him and whispered into his ear.
“Doctor, it’s Anji. I know you can hear me. You need to be quiet, alright?”
He still didn’t wake, but he began to calm some. Clara nodded and retreated quickly calling Toller, her son, to follow her.
Anji heard her saying as they left, “it’s a good thing we put him in the back room. They’re about to come in here expecting you to be with fever. That’s what I told them. Mathis is stalling them a second while I get you set up.”
Anji stared fearfully up at Jap who was still calmly wrapping the Doctor’s leg as if nothing had happened.
“What do we do if they find us?” Anji asked.
“Not much we can do. But your friend still needs tending and I’m not going to worry about the what ifs unless they become fact.”
Anji immediately liked the man. He was the stereotypical physician that would do anything for a patient. For the first time, she was truly glad that they had run into this man. He was exactly what the Doctor needed right now.
Cassidy and Fitz were riding side by side as they crossed the desert. “I hope they believe Mathis that we left,” Fitz said.
“They’ll make sure that our tracks are visible. The Diablos will know that at least the two bikes left. I’m just hoping that they believe that we all left on the bikes,” Cassidy replied.
They rode in silence for a while longer before Fitz broke it once again. “You had the Doctor talking for a while when he was with you, did he have anything interesting to say?”
Cassidy smiled sadly, “For once, he didn’t. I had to prompt him with everything. He said a little about how these bikes work, that’s how I know about the no fuel thing, and then he told me about what happened with you three in Hope.”
“Hope? He brought up Hope?” Fitz asked.
“No, I asked him t…” suddenly she broke off.
“Wait,” Fitz said. “You know about Hope? How?”
“Um, Anji must have mentioned it at some point,” she answered vaguely.
“After what happened there, I seriously doubt she would bring Hope up to anyone.”
“Then it must have been you or the Doctor,” Cassidy said.
“I know it wasn’t me. And the Doctor… he rarely talks about past adventures unless they’re relevant to the current situation.”
“I don’t know. I know one of you must have mentioned it,” she insisted.
“When?” he asked.
Cassidy didn’t respond immediately and Fitz began to think of a time when maybe he might have said something, but he was having difficulty recalling anything specific to do with Cassidy.
“Come to think of it,” he said. “When did you start traveling with us?”
Cassidy began to get nervous as she said, “It’s been a while now. I don’t remember the date or anything. Traveling through time will do that.”
“It’s not that,” Fitz insisted. “I can remember everything that I’ve ever been through with Anji and the Doctor, but I can’t recall anything specific with you.”
Fitz began to slow and came to a stop. Cassidy did so as well, but she seemed to be very tense and nervous. “Fitz, we need to keep moving,” she said.
“Not until you tell me who you are,” he said, beginning to get angry and more than just a little nervous himself. Something was obviously not right here.
“Fitz, you know who I am. Cassidy Baker. I’m an American who has been traveling with you, Anji, and the Doctor. I’m your friend.”
“That much I know. But why can’t I remember anything else? If I can’t remember what we’ve done, then how is it that I know that other stuff?”
Cassidy sighed in resignation before saying. “Alright, I’ll tell you everything, but let’s keep going. Alright?”
Fitz eyed her for a moment but said, “Fine, but I still don’t know why it is that I am still able trust you.”
As they went on Cassidy said, “It’s like this. I’m not really from Earth.”
“Somehow that doesn’t surprise me anymore, though I still feel as if I know that you are.”
“That’s a defense mechanism of my people. We are able to psychically convince others that they recognize us and that we are their friends. This way, no one feels the need to harm us because they trust us and like us immediately. As long as they don’t think too deeply about how they know us, they’ll just assume that they always have.”
“How long have you really been with us then?” he asked.
“I met you on the last planet you were at. Remember? Talthis.”
Fitz concentrated hard and realized that, even though his mind was telling him that Cassidy had been there from the start, another part of him knew that was where they had first saw her.
“Why?” he asked. “Why come with us?”
Cassidy shrugged. “You were interesting. I was able to get enough from your minds that you live very interesting lives and I wanted to see what it is like. Most of my kind are very boring. It’s part of our nature. We don’t have any enemies because they all think that we are friends and allies. We don’t go anywhere for fear that eventually we’ll come across a species who is resistant to us and will give us away. Even though we have space travel capability, it’s illegal for us to leave our solar system for that very reason.”
“So we show up and suddenly you see a way to escape your planet? You convince us that you’re a friend and fellow companion and off we all go?”
Cassidy nodded, slightly apologetically, “pretty much.”
“But, if you don’t know Earth, how come I think that you’re from America around Anji’s time?”
“Because Anji has been there and I rather liked the look of it as well as the time period.”
Fitz thought for while before saying, “I can understand how Anji and I could be taken in, but it seems like the Doctor would have at least suspected something.”
Cassidy sighed again, “I think it has something to do with his memory block. He doubts his own memories because of it and if he couldn’t quite remember where I came from but he was sure I was a friend, then he would just assume that it was his amnesia again.”
“Or you would convince him it was,” Fitz said rather bitterly.
“No,” Cassidy said firmly. “I never put that idea in his head. I don’t even know if it has crossed his mind. But, now that I am getting to know him, I would never hurt him like that. He’s already been through so much that I could never make him think he was losing it again.”
“So, if he can’t remember anything after Gallifrey, then you don’t know anything either.”
“Not much. I have been able to get a few things from his mind that he doesn’t realize are there. Such as a sense of how truly old he is and the feeling that he has changed a lot over the course of his life. Physically changed I mean.”
“So regeneration is true? Sam mentioned it to me once, but I don’t think I ever really believed her.”
“Yes, that’s the word that I saw. But he doesn’t know it’s there. He almost accessed some of those memories earlier today. He remembered the last time he was on a motorbike. He had been driving then and a girl was behind him. But that was all he vaguely recalled and that was all I could see as well.”
“Hmm, may have been Sam.” Fitz said. He was silent for a little while before saying, “So, why should I trust you?… or better question, why are you helping us? You could just convince those bikers that you’re a friend and escape like that.”
“For the second question, because I really do care what happens to you three. I could probably convince them to spare me, but I have no influence when it comes to others. I did use that when I escaped from the Diablos first. I had put a slight feeling in the one who had me that I wasn’t a threat before I stomped on him. That’s why I caught him completely off guard.”
“So why should I trust you,” Fitz asked again. “For all I know, you’re just saying all this.”
“Because I am helping. You and Anji didn’t have any idea what to do for the Doctor. I was able to get some ideas from him, though because of his injuries, he mind was rather scattered.”
“So that’s how you were able to understand these bikes so quickly… but why was I? I’m not usually very good with the alien tech stuff.”
“I suggested to you how to operate it after I learn from the Diablos. That’s also how we were able to coordinated the Doctor’s rescue so well, I was directing us.”
“And that’s how you knew where his sonic screwdriver was and how to operate it.”
Cassidy nodded and said, “It’s second nature for him, making it very easy for me to read.”
“So are you really going to see this through or are you just going to melt into the crowd of Rushwater once we get there?”
“I swear I’m going to make sure that you are all out of here safe,” Cassidy said emphatically. “Let me put a question to you; the Doctor has gotten you into a lot of trouble while you’ve been with him, why do you trust him so much?”
“Because he’s the embodiment of good. He’s there to right wrongs and set evil in its place. And he would give his life to protect any one of us,” Fitz answered readily.
“Ok, now think of this. You know this by seeing what he has done. I know that this is true because I can see it in his mind. Actions can be faked, thoughts cannot. That is what I saw when I met him and that is the reason I wanted to join you.”
Fitz was silent again while he took in what Cassidy was saying.
As he thought it all out, Cassidy put one more thought to him, “I know what I did seems wrong to you, and by your way of thinking, it was. But for me, it is what my people do; it’s how we are brought up and live. But I promise not to look into or influence any of your minds from now on. I haven’t for some time other than to help us; that’s why you were able to discover me now. I guess, on some level, I really did want you to know who I really am.”
The two Diablos actually believed that Toller was sick as Clara had told them when they looked at him. It helped that they believed he was highly contagious and wouldn’t get too near.
All of the town was on edge over the next two days. Anji stayed by the Doctor’s side the whole time as it was feared that she may be discovered and the Doctor was still yet to wake.
Jap confirmed that his cuts had become infected, but he was sure that they had caught it in time. Anji watched as the color began to return to the Doctor’s face and his fever broke. The only thing Jap was still concerned about was the concussion. He had no way of telling if it had caused too much damage or not. “Oh believe me,” Anji said. “he’s got a thick enough skull.”
It was nearly night on the second day after Cassidy and Fitz left for Rushwater when the Doctor finally stirred.
“Doctor?” Anji said as his movement woke her up from her chair beside him.
“Yes Anji,” he said wearily. “I’m awake.”
“Thank god,” she said as she came to kneel over him. “How are you?”
He winced slightly as he shifted and said, “sore, hungry, but better than I was. How long have I been out?”
“Two days.” She told him.
"Two days?” he said slightly alarmed. “Where’s Fitz? Where are we?” he said as he tried to sit up. But he was still in too much pain and too weak to manage it.
“Stay still. You’re not better yet,” she told him as she put a hand on his chest to keep him from trying to get up again. “We’re in a town called Purespring. The town seems to have been under siege from the Diablos for several months and they have been unable to send for help. They’re hiding us here while Cassidy and Fitz go on to the capital, Rushwater.”
“Who?” the Doctor said.
“Cassidy and Fitz,” Anji replied.
“Who’s Cassidy?” he asked.
Anji looked at him as if he had lost his mind. “Our friend… companion… been with us for a while… if it hadn’t been for her we probably wouldn’t have escaped from the Diablos… Cassidy,” Anji told him.
He was quiet as he searched his brain for memories that Anji seemed sure he should have. Yes, there had been someone besides Anji and Fitz with them when they got to Ghont, but he had no idea who she was. Was it happening again?
“I know she was with us here, but I don’t remember who she is,” he admitted.
Anji didn’t know what to say. She could clearly remember… wait, what could she remember?
“She… She’s been with us for a while…” she said as she looked for a specific memory of her friend.
Just then, Jap came in to check on his patient. “Well,” he said heartily. “Looks like our patient has finally decided to wake up! How are you feeling?” he asked as Anji moved out of his way, still racking her brains.
“I’m not sure,” the Doctor replied. “I feel better than I was. Still hurt of course, but it seems that I can’t remember one of my friends at all.”
“What do you mean?” he asked as he went through checking the Doctor over.
“Cassidy. I don’t remember her. At least, not as well as Anji says I should.”
“Well you took a pretty good blow to the head, Doctor,” Jap said.
“No,” Anji said from where she sat.
Jap and the Doctor looked at her. She seemed a little lost in her thoughts for a second before she looked back and said, “No it’s not just him,” she said. “I don’t remember her as well as I thought either.”
“I don’t understand,” Jap said.
“Neither do I,” Anji replied. “I know that she is a good friend of mine and that she has been with us for a while, but I can’t remember how we met or what we have done together.”
The Doctor nodded, “Yes, same for me. Though it wasn’t until Anji told me that I should know her I remembered her at all.”
“How can that be? She was obviously with you. She seemed to be the one that you and Fitz were looking to for the decisions,” Jap told Anji.
“I know. We completely trusted her… I just don’t know why.”
Jap sighed, “I don’t know what’s going on, but it looks as though all of our hopes are now hanging on a complete stranger.”
“We’ve got to stop for a few,” Fitz said.
Cassidy glanced over at him and nodded. She found a place where they could spend a few hours that night. She had hoped to keep going through the night, but it was obvious that Fitz needed to get some sleep.
“I guess your people don’t need to rest as much as human then,” Fitz said as he observed that she was not a tired as he thought she should be.
“Yes, that is true. But I’m sure that we are far ahead of the Diablos. We can afford a rest.”
Fitz gave a slight grunt as he flopped on a blanket he spread out. “You didn’t sleep at all last night either,” he said to her. “Just how much sleep do you need?”
“Only about eight hours every three or four days,” she replied. “I’m capable of putting myself in a waking trance which makes up for the lack of actual sleep.
“So all those nights that we thought you were slee…” but he suddenly cut off. “Wait, what?” he said confused.
“Sorry Fitz,” Cassidy said with a little chuckle. “Last night was our first night together,” she said.
“I know,” he replied. “But it’s really weird knowing that it wasn’t too,” he said confused.
“I think eventually that the feeling will wear off. It’s already getting easier for you to remember the actual events now, isn’t it?”
“Yes, I think so.”
Cassidy sighed, “I fear that Anji and the Doctor will also begin to realize that I’m not who they thought I was soon. I don’t know what they will think when they realize this or what fears they might instill in the towns people.”
Fitz thought about it for a second. “I suppose it wouldn’t look too good if they begin saying that one of the people who is supposed to be helping them is not what they had thought.”
They were quiet for a minute before Fitz said, “Well, there’s not much that we can do about that. We’ll just have to hope for the best and keep to the plan. I’m going to get some sleep now.”
Cassidy nodded and said, “Good. I’ll keep a watch. I’ll wake you when it’s time to go again.”
Back to index
Chapter 4: Chapter 4Chapter 4
Toller rushed into the room where the Doctor, Anji, and Jap were still pondering their recent quandary. Suddenly, the Cassidy problem didn’t seem as important anymore. “They’re coming,” he said. The way that he said they, everyone knew that he wasn’t talking about help, but the Diablos.
“How far?” The Doctor demanded as he once again tried to sit up. Anji tried to stop him again, but the look he gave her had her helping him to sit up instead.
“We’ve still got about an hour before they get here. They were spotted by telescope just a few minutes ago.”
“Is it all of them?” the Doctor asked.
“No, a little less than half is what Mark reported.”
The Doctor sat on the edge of his cot as he got his bearings and thought it out.
“Why?” Anji asked. “If they followed Fitz and Cassidy all the way to Rushwater, they wouldn’t be here yet. If they captured them, they would all be coming.”
“They must have figured out somehow that someone stayed behind. They’re returning for us, Anji,” the Doctor said.
“What are we going to do?” Toller uttered.
“Not panic,” Jap replied. He leaned over and helped to steady the Doctor before nodding to him, “I’ll get you a crutch,” he said as he left the room.
“First thing we need to do,” the Doctor said, “is get everyone who can’t fight to safety. Is there someplace where they can hide?”
Toller stared at the Doctor as if he were mad, “Fight? We can’t possibly take on the Diablos.”
“Toller, you’ve got far more people than them,” Anji said. “You’ve been living in terror of them for so long that you can’t imagine fighting back. But you can. They don’t expect it.”
“Anji’s right,” the Doctor said. “You’ve got to defend yourselves. It’s not the whole gang yet. We have got to give Cassidy and Fitz more time.”
Toller stared at them for a moment before Jap returned. “What’s the plan?” Jap asked as he handed the Doctor the crutch.
“They want us to fight,” Toller said.
Jap nodded, “it’s about time if you ask me.”
Toller turned his unbelieving stare on Jap. “Fight them?”
“It’s the only way that we can keep up our end of the bargain with them,” Jap said. “We promised to look after these two while the others got help. There is no indication that the other two have failed yet, so we are honor bound to look after them.”
“Thank you Jap, but we don’t want to put you in that position,” the Doctor said. “If it was a matter of giving myself up, I would. But they are going to want to punish your people for helping in the first place. That is why you have to defend yourselves.”
“Whatever the reason, it is time that we did something about them. Any idea’s Doctor?” Jap said.
“I think so,” he said as Anji helped him stand. “Let’s hurry, we have a lot to do and not much time to do it in. First thing, we need to take care of the two that are already here.”
“Fitz!” Cassidy called to him in a loud whisper while urgently shaking him.
“Wake up! We’ve got to go!”
“What’s going on? How long have I been asleep?”
“Not more than an hour, but listen.”
They sat in silence for a few seconds before Fitz heard it, the distant rumble of bike engines.
Suddenly fully awake, Fitz was up and getting ready to go again. “How’d they get so close?” he demanded.
“I don’t know. But whatever the reason, we have got to move.”
A moment later they were off again and risking pushing the bikes a little faster a little longer to try and gain some more distance on the gang behind them.
The moons were bright that night. Borris smiled at the thought since it gave him plenty of light to keep an eye on the tracks that they were following. Their prey would stop for the night, he was sure of it. He and his men could ride through the night and he knew how to get more speed out of their bikes safely than anyone. They were catching up.
Suddenly, he noticed that the tracks veered a little. Following them, he grinned again, thinking that he was about to catch them napping under the rock that they were now heading for.
He was a little disappointed to see that no one was there, but he decided to take a look around anyway. Getting off his bike, he went over to place where clearly someone had recently parked a bike and then left in a hurry. The ground was littered with evidence of their passing, but what Borris found most interesting about the campsite, there were only two sets of footprints.
Snarling he turned back to his men and yelled, “There are only two! The others must still be in the town. Harryl!” he called. One of the riders came forward. “Take some of the men back to Purespring and find those two. If Keller and Gairth haven’t found them yet, which I doubt, kill them and then kill those two incompetents. There is no room for screw-ups here… Got it?”
Harryl nodded. A moment later about a quarter of the group was heading back the way they had come and the others were off following the trail once again.
The sun had risen and the day was once again beginning to become oppressive as Fitz began to have trouble staying awake. He had run out of questions for Cassidy and now that her secret was known, she seemed a little reluctant to pick up their comradely where it had left off. He didn’t blame her, he still wasn’t sure himself where their friendship now stood; but he wished that they could chat some more if only to keep him from drifting…
Suddenly the rocks below him were right there as he fell onto them, jarring him completely awake again. The bike rolled a few feet and fell over, the motor cutting out.
“Fitz!” Cassidy called as she circled back around and stopped beside him, jumping off of her bike. “Are you alright?” she said with concern as she reached his side.
“Got a sore wrist and a few more bruises now to go with my still throbbing nose, but I’ll be alright,” he said, waving her off as he sat up.
“I think I fell asleep,” he said rather sheepishly.
Cassidy stood up and offered her hand to him, which he gladly took and used to help himself off of the ground. “Are you going to be alright?” she asked.
“Should be. Let’s keep moving,” he said as he reached his bike and righted it again.
Cassidy walked hers up next to him. As he glanced at her, he realized that she wanted to say something but wasn’t sure how. “What is it?” he asked.
“Fitz, I can help you stay awake if you’ll let me,” she aid softly.
“How?” he asked, a little skeptically.
“I can trick your mind into thinking that you don’t need sleep right now. It will only be temporary and it wouldn’t make you not need rest physically, it’ll just make you think that you’re wide awake.”
Fitz thought for a second as Cassidy was quick to say, “I won’t do it if you don’t want me to.”
Fitz nodded. “You better do it. Next time I fall I might hurt more than just my pride.”
Cassidy nodded as she swung her leg over her bike and started it. Fitz was wondering when she was going to do something when he realized that he was already feeling better. It was as if he had just had a refreshing nights sleep and had drunk his morning coffee already.
“Just like that?” he said as he got on his bike.
“Just like that,” she answered with a smile and took off once again, Fitz close behind her.
Borris was beginning to get really angry. This group of victims was far better than he would ever have given credit for. They were getting nearer and nearer Rushwater and they still had not caught up to the other two. He didn’t fear the Rushwater intervention, that wouldn’t be a problem, but there were going to be certain people in Rushwater who would not be happy with the discovery of this new gang.
Anji didn’t particularly care for her part in this little attack, but she had to volunteer to keep the Doctor from doing it. She was, of course, the bait. The two Diablos were inside Mathis’s house along with his wife and daughter. They needed to get them to come out, but they were perfectly content with their little reign of terror and consuming all of their food and water.
Anji knew that there wasn’t much to worry about. All she needed to do was pop inside, get the guys’ attention and then run back out for them to follow. Jab, Toller, and Mathis would be waiting for them. Clara was seeing to the discrete evacuation of the elderly and children to one of the sand storm shelters while others in were gathering what weapons they could. The Doctor was back in Jab’s place working on something or other that he didn’t feel the need to explain to them yet.
Still, Anji never liked being a lure, she always noticed how in fishing that it never worked out very well.
She watched as Jap and Mathis moved to either side of the door while Toller stood at the base of the porch steps. The men nodded to her that they were ready and she took a deep breath before returning their nod and marched up the steps.
The Doctor hobbled around the small apothecary, searching for the ingredients that he needed. He was sure that he could pull something together out of what was here that would make useful tear bombs.
He pulled all of his collected goods together and sat down at a bench, measuring and pouring the mixtures onto small squares of cloth before making little pouches out of them by tying them off with a bit of twine as he hummed some random tune while he worked quickly.
Suddenly he heard a gun shot ring out which was immediately followed by a scream. Jumping up he moved as fast as he could, ignoring the pain in his leg as he bolted outside to see what went wrong. He stumbled his way across the street, knowing that the scream had come from Anji, as three more shots were fired followed by another woman’s scream.
Praying that he wasn’t too late, the Doctor put on a fresh burst of speed to Mathis’ house.
Fitz couldn’t help himself, he kept glancing over his shoulder as they went, trying to see if that distant dust cloud was getting any closer to them.
“Fitz, they’re still the same distance back there,” Cassidy said. “We’ll be fine as long as we don’t stop.”
“I can’t help it. I’m used to being perused, but this is ridiculous.”
“We must be almost there by now,” she answered.
“Exactly. That means that they are either going to get desperate and possibly push the bikes harder than they should or they’ll just give up and in that case we could stop for a few.”
Cassidy shook her head, “I doubt they are going to leave us alone and even if that cloud suddenly began getting small, I don’t think we should stop until we reach Rushwater. There really is no telling what they are capable of.”
Fitz sighed, of course she was right, but he was getting so damn tired again. “I just hope we get there soon,” he mumbled.
…The men nodded to Anji that they were ready and she took a deep breath before returning their nod and marched up the steps…
Taking her nerves in hand, she reached out and tore open the door and, much more boldly than she felt, walked into the house. There was a short breezeway before she stepped out into the living room. To her left was a flight of stairs that went to the next floor and directly across from her was the doorway to the kitchen.
She paused in the living room and realized that the men were not in sight. She took a deep breath and called, “Hey! You dumbass bikers! You missed me! Been under your noses for almost two days and you couldn’t even find me!”
There was a moment of silence before there was a sudden scraping of chairs in the kitchen. Anji just saw the first man look through the doorway at her when she turned around and bolted.
But the man had been far faster than they had anticipated; before she had made it a couple of steps, the man brought his gun to aim and fired. Anji cried out in pain as her shoulder erupted in fire and collapsed just inches from the doorway. She could hear the heavy footfall of the biker coming up behind her.
“Got you now you dumb bitch!” he snarled.
Anji heard someone running down the stairs next to her. It had to be Mathis’ wife. She tried to move, to get out of the way but fear pinned her on her stomach as she waited for the man to fire again.
Suddenly a force rushed over her from the nearby safety of the door just as the biker fired three more shots. The air was knocked out of Anji as a weight crashed down over her. Her hearing was muffled as she heard Mathis’ wife scream and Jap and Toller were rushing past her, yelling.
Jap rushed the man who was still pointing his gun at the now inert form of Mathis that was draped over Anji’s body. Before the biker could react, the large man had knocked into him and tried to wrestle the gun from the man’s hand.
Toller went for the other man who was just now reaching for his own gun. The young man easily knocked the gun to the floor with one hand and threw a sucker punch to the man’s face with the other, knocking him out cold.
Turning around, Toller quickly saw that Jap was still struggling for control over the gun. He had just bent to pick up the other one when Jap finally got the upper hand and tore the gun free. He then used the end of it to knock the man on the back of the head, causing him to crash next to his companion.
There was a moment of silence where the two men starred at one another before everything suddenly came to life again. Mathis’ wife screamed in anger and grief once again as she flew from the stairs and ran to her husband.
Simultaneously the Doctor made it to the doorway and saw Anji lying on the floor under the man, blood pooling around her shoulder. “Anji!” he called as he dropped down in front of her.
Groaning, she moved just enough to let him know that she was still alright. Seeing that she wasn’t too seriously hurt and not in immediate danger he turned his attention to Mathis. He watched as Toller was pulling the over wrought wife away while Jap hefted the body off of Anji.
Quickly the surgeon looked over his town leader. Mathis was still alive, but only just.
“Jap?” the Doctor asked as he placed a hand over the hole in Anji’s shoulder, causing her to gasp in pain.
Jap looked back to the Doctor and shook his head sadly. “There’s nothing I can do for him Doctor.”
“No!!!” his wife screamed as she pulled out of Toller’s hold and collapsed by her husband.
“Mathis! Mathis you can’t die. You hear me!” she called.
Mathis wearily opened his eyes looked at her. “I’m sorry,” he whispered.
“You Bastard, you can’t leave us like this… can’t leave me!”
“Julie,” Jap said quietly. “There is nothing I can do. You’re going to have to say goodbye.”
“No, no… no,” she pleaded as she grabbed his hand and pulled his head into her lap.
By now the Doctor had torn off the cloth that he had been using as a sling for his arm and tightly bound Anji’s wound. He was carefully helping her to get up and Jap was pulling away from the man he could do nothing for to examine the one that still needed his help.
Anji looked back at the scene between husband and wife as tears filled her eyes. She moved towards them shrugging off the Doctor’s weak attempt to stop her, and sat where Mathis could see her.
Julie watched as this strange woman bent down and brushed her husband’s cheek and
said quietly, “thank you.”
Mathis smiled at her and then looked to his wife one last time before he struggled with
his last breath.
The Doctor came up behind Anji and helped her up. But as she stood, Julie cried out in anger, “He’s dead! He’s dead and it’s all your fault!” as she glared at Anji.
Anji felt as if she had just been slapped. Yes, she thought to herself, it was her fault.
But before she could begin to apologize the Doctor had stepped in between Anji and the distraught woman.
“No, the one to blame is the man who shot your husband. But if you are looking to place blame on anyone else, it should be me. If I hadn’t brought us here, none of this would have happened.
Julie stumbled to her feet in anger and marched up to the Doctor. She balled her fists and began to hit him in the chest. “Why?” she cried. “Why did you ever come here? Why couldn’t you just leave us alone?”
The Doctor just stood there and let her hit him but Jap pushed past and took a hold of the woman and practically dragged her further into the house. “He shouldn’t be here! Neither of them should!” she still cried.
The Doctor sighed heavily as he turned back to Anji. His companion was practically in tears over what had just happened. “Anji,” he said to her as he placed an arm around her to lead her out. “This wasn’t you’re fault.”
Anji nodded as she turned to go, “I know. But I can’t help but feel bad for her.”
“Julie! No!” Jap suddenly cried.
The Doctor looked back just in time to see that Julie had picked up one of the discarded guns from the floor and was aiming at him and Anji. He grabbed Anji and threw both of them to the ground just as a shot rang out.
“Doctor!” Anji screamed as they hit the floor. He had been behind her and she feared that yet another person had just given their life to save her. But she didn’t fear for long as he quickly was up and moving back into the house, helping Jap to gently get the gun away from Julie.
“Toller,” Jap said to the young man who had just finished binding the two unconscious bikers when Julie had gotten the gun. “Go back to my shop and get a sedative for her.”
He nodded as Jap got the gun and said to him, “and take this with you,” as he handed it over. Toller took it and left quickly.
“Doctor,” Jap said. “You can get Anji over there. As soon as I have Julie settled I’ll be there to look at her shoulder. But it looks like you did a fair job of stopping the bleeding so I don’t think she’s in any serious danger right now.”
The Doctor nodded but before he turned to go he looked sadly at a still irate Julie and said, “I really am very sorry,” and then turned to see to his injured companion.
Back to index
Chapter 5: Chapter 5Chapter 5
It was nearly dusk when Fitz and Cassidy finally spotted a gleam of the city on the horizon. “I think we’re actually going to make it,” Fitz sighed.
Cassidy glanced over her shoulder and nodded in reply. “Almost there.” She glanced over at Fitz and asked, “How are you doing?”
“I’ll be great as soon as I can get a nights sleep. But until then I’ll be alright,” he answered.
She nodded and turned her attention to the quickly approaching city. “I just hope that they are as helpful as the people of Pruespring think they should be.”
Anji sat on the edge of the cot, gripping the sides as Jap pulled the fragment of a bullet from her shoulder blade.
“I’m sorry about not having anything for the pain,” he told her again as he pulled the last piece free with a gasp of pain from her.
“You’re doing your best. I understand,” she told him as soon as she was sure she could speak without her voice shaking.
“I need to stitch it up and then I’ll be done,” he told her and went to get his needle and thread.
The Doctor passed Jap on his way in from the storage room with an armful of him impromptu tear bombs. Jap noticed how the Doctor still wasn’t using a crutch and how much he was limping. “How is that leg?” he asked him.
“Oh, it’ll be alright. I promise to stay off it as soon as all of this is settled,” the Doctor answered airily.
Jap shook his head as he said, “Somehow I doubt that you will. But please at least start using your crutch again.”
He nodded as he limped on as Jap turned, shaking his head, and continued on to get what he needed for Anji.
“How are you doing, Anji?” The Doctor asked as he paused by her.
“I’ll be alright Doctor,” she replied. There was a moment of silence where she looked at him and couldn’t help but comment, “I have to admit, it is strange to see you in the same cloths as the rest of the population, though.” He was wearing the same denim pants that most of the men wore with a light white cotton shirt on top.
He smiled at her as he said, “Yes, it feels strange, but since I pretty thoroughly rent my usual set, I’ll have to wait till I can get back to the TARDIS for a change.”
With a slight shift he quickly changed the subject, “I need to get these out to the other men,” indicating his bundle of bombs. “I have another idea or two to put into action as well,” he said as he began to drift further away to the door.
“How much time do we have left?” Anji asked.
He thought about it for a moment before saying, “probably about another fifteen minutes.”
“Are you going to be ready?”
“We’re going to have to be, aren’t we?” he said as he turned and limped outside.
Fitz was so relieved when the pulled up in front of the gate to the city. Apparently they felt they had a reason to keep their city well guarded since it seemed to be completely surrounded by a ten-foot wall.
The gate was currently closed. Cassidy went up to it and knocked as she called out, “hello? Please, we need to get in.”
A man poked his head out of a portal a moment later and said, “The gate is closed until morning. You should know that.”
“But we didn’t,” Cassidy argued. “We’re travelers and we don’t know the rules. Please, you have to let us in. There is a gang a ways back that is going to kill us if they catch us!”
“Gang? There are no gangs around here anymore. What kind of fool do you take me for?” the man scowled.
“If there are no gangs then I certainly would like to know who it was that gave me this,” Fitz said as he pointed to his black and blue nose. “And who it was that attacked us and nearly killed a friend of ours,” He said, quickly getting angrier.
“Sir, if this helps,” Cassidy said calmly as she pulled the coin out that Mathis had given her. “We’re not the only ones who have encountered this group. The people back in Purspring sent us on for help. The new gang who go as the Diablos have been terrorizing them for months. Their town leader gave me this as proof that they sent us,” she said as she reached up and showed him the medallion.
The man looked at it closely but did not reach for it. Finally he said, “Wait here, I will see what is to be done with you.” And before either Cassidy or Fitz could say another word he slammed the portal shut.
“Well now what?” Fitz said, turning to Cassidy.
“I guess we wait.”
“Great, we’re here, literally inches away from safety and we have to wait outside while the Diablos continue to approach. Sounds wonderful.”
“Fitz, there’s not much that we can do. Besides, I’m not so sure that the Diablos will even risk coming right up to the gate to get us anyway. It seems that they don’t want their group to be discovered and that is a sure way to prove their existence to the people of Rushwater.”
“I wouldn’t put it past them. They fit their names rather well.”
Fitz slumped against the wall and sat down. Head bowed as he began to take a much needed rest. Cassidy just stood there, watching the distant horizon for signs of the Diablos and waiting for someone to come back and address them.
Finally, the portal was once again opened and a new man, poked his head out. “Rial says you have the seal of Purespring, is this true?” he asked without ceremony.
“Yes it is,” Cassidy said as she once again held out the token to the man.
This time he reached out and took it. He examined it closely before nodding and then took it back inside with him, closing the portal once again.
“Hey, wait!” Cassidy called, suddenly waking up Fitz who had fallen asleep.
“Wha?” he asked groggily.
Suddenly the door began to creek as it slowly opened inward. “Hurry in,” the first man’s voice sounded. “Can’t leave this open all night.”
“Thank you,” Cassidy said as she quickly grabbed her bike and walked it inside. Fitz was a little slower, but he soon followed her into the safety of the city walls.
Just inside the second man stood, waiting for them. He was clothed in dark brown with an even darker brown cloak around his shoulders. He stood as if he knew that he was highly respected and held a certain amount of power. But Cassidy could sense that under the hardened exterior, this man prized himself on his fairness and attention to detail.
“Rial here tells me that you bring news of a new gang,” he said as he continued to eye the medallion. “And I see that you really have been sent here from Purespring. Who did you get this seal from?”
“Mathis,” Cassidy quickly replied.
The man nodded and said, “good answer.” He eyed them a moment more before saying, “Welcome to Rushwater, capital of Ghont. I am Ratha, Lord Protector of the city. Who are you?”
“I’m Fitz and this is Cassidy,” Fitz replied. “We have two other friends who we had to leave back in Purespring. One was nearly killed by the Diablos.”
“I am sorry to hear that,” the man answered. “Believe me, if this claim of yours is substantiated, then we will be taking swift action again this new group. But in the mean time, let me show you were you can stay for the evening. It is late and you will have to make a presentation of your case before the council in the morning.”
Cassidy sighed, “I figured as much, but I fear for our friends if the gang reaches here and is unable to get us, they probably will return to Purespring and possible find them there.”
“There is nothing I can do,” the man said firmly, though they sensed that he was somewhat sorry about the situation. “You may leave the bikes here, Rial will see to them. Follow me please,” He said as he turned and began to walk away. With his back to them he said, “And I’ll try and find a physician to look at your nose, Fitz.”
Cassidy and Fitz exchanged a look before they followed behind the Lord Protector. As usual, nothing could be done easily. “Thanks,” Fitz muttered.
The distant rumble of approaching bikers was just entering earshot when the Doctor determined that anything that he was going to be able to do for the town was now in order. He nodded to the handful of men that were there to take their places. Each one had one of his tear bombs in one hand and some type of weapon in the other. Mostly it was clubs or shovels, but Toller and another young man had the two guns off of the bikers. They all also had slightly dampened bandanas covering their mouth and nose so as the gas wouldn’t affect them like it would the bikers.
Each man got out of sight, hiding behind various boxes or railings, waiting for the bikers to get into the town before beginning their attack. “Now remember, you don’t need to kill them,” the Doctor reminded the men. “That makes you no better then they. The bombs and my little surprise will stun them enough that they shouldn’t be all that hard to incapacitate; and with any luck, Cassidy and Fitz will be returning with help from Rushwater to take care of them in your legal system soon enough.”
Some of the men grumbled about this, but Jap, who now was functioning as town leader with the passing of Mathis, backed the Doctor up on this. “There has been enough killing,” he said. “Anyone who purposefully takes one of these bikers lives will answer to me personally.”
With that, the Doctor and Jap took their places as the rest of the men filed out to find theirs. The rumbling was getting nearer, but it had not yet reached them. As the Doctor neared his location where his own little bag of goodies was stashed, he was surprised to find Anji there waiting for him.
“Anji, I thought we decided that you were going to make sure the women and children are all alright and keep an eye on Julie and her daughter,” he said to her.
“No, you decided that, not me. Besides, I think I would only cause Julie more grief than good, seeing how she still wishes me dead and the other women are perfectly capable to keeping their eyes on her. There are other children there to help Jenna and there are plenty of older men who are far more capable of taking care of everyone than I.”
The Doctor sighed. “I wish you didn’t always have to contradict me when I ask something of you. It is really for your own good that I asked you to go.”
“I know Doctor, but I’m here for your own good,” she replied firmly. “You’re still not in very good shape to be taking these guys on again and you’re going to need all the help you can get.”
The Doctor nodded reluctantly as he crouched down slowly and slightly painfully beside her. “You’re right Anji,” he admitted. “You can stay, but please don’t take any unnecessary risks, alright?”
Anji smiled, “You know me,” she said.
“Exactly,” he sighed.
“Fitz, you better get some sleep. Tomorrow might be a long day,” Cassidy as she walked by Fitz examining his tender nose in the mirror. The physician had arrived and set it but couldn’t do much else.
“Easy for you to say,” he grumbled. “You don’t have a nose that feels like it’s the size of a basketball and on fire.” He turned from the mirror and looked at the bed across the room. “You should sleep too,” he said. “You may be an alien that doesn’t need as much sleep but if I’m mistaken you haven’t slept in three days and you said that you need to get about eight hours in that time.”
“Preferably, but I can go longer if need be,” she answered.
“Well you don’t need to. We’re fine in here; there’s no need to keep watch or anything. You can take the bed, I can sleep on the floor.”
“Don’t be silly, Fitz. I’m fine. You can have the bed. If I do feel I need to sleep, I can sleep anywhere. This chair is quite comfy.”
Fitz rubbed the back of his neck looking a little uncomfortable as he said, “I really should let you have the bed,”
“Earth and that silly concept of chivalry,” she grumbled. “Fitz, really, I’m fine. Just go to sleep, alright?”
Too tired to put up any more of an argument, Fitz sighed and crossed over to the bed. No sooner had he laid down and pulled the pillow under his head than Cassidy heard him lightly snoring.
The Doctor was fiddling with his sonic screwdriver in the failing light of day as the rumbling of bikes drew ever nearer. “What are you doing?” Anji asked him.
“I’ve laid several lines of a certain mixture of elements, mostly magnesium, as well as a few others, in the dirt that I plan on exciting with specific sonic waves from the screwdriver to create a rather dazzling flash. With any luck, it will help to further disorient them,” he explained rapidly.
“Uh-huh,” Anji replied, suddenly wishing that she hadn’t asked. She gripped the wooden plank that she had for her piece of weaponry.
They waited in tense silence as the rumbling grew to an all out roar as the bikes flowed into town. The Doctor turned and peered through the cracks of the boxes he and Anji were hiding behind, screwdriver at the ready over what looked like a small pile of slightly discolored dirt.
Finally, just before he pressed the screwdriver into the powered, he whispered to Anji, “close your eyes,” as he turned his head slightly and closed his own. She did as she was told and no sooner had she done so than she was nearly dazzled by a flash of light from the other side of her eyelids. She was glad that he had told her to close them or she felt she would have been nearly blinded. As it was, when she opened them again, she was seeing spots.
With the flash, came a sharp popping sound with a cry of alarm and pain from the bikers who were now just on the other side of the boxes. Several bikes swerved, trying to avoid the flash and wound up running into each other. One man was so shocked he fell off of his vehicle.
Immediately following the blinding flash, light bundles of smoke came hissing out from windows and from behind boxes and barrels, flying at bikers. Another flash further obscured their vision as they began to cough and choke on the harsh fumes. Tears from the light and the smoke further blinded them.
As soon as they were almost completely enveloped in the smoke, the townsmen left their places of hiding, yelling their fury at their persecutors as they wielded the weapons that they had. The Doctor got up as quickly as his injured leg would allow and began to circle towards the back of the pack of men.
Anji watched as he moved to pull the cord that loosely held a stack of earth filled barrels to the top of the roof. Jap had already pulled his down, preventing the men from going any further into the town and away from the smoke. It was a hoped that with both sides blocked, they would contain the bikers much more easily and perhaps they would wind up knocking out each other in the close quarters.
As the Doctor neared the cord, his back was turned completely to the fighting that was now taking place. Anji saw one of the bikers emerge from the smoke, his arm covering his nose and mouth as he coughed up the caustic air. He spotted the Doctor and used his free arm to bring up and aim his gun at the Time Lord’s back.
“Doctor!” Anji called a warning as she took a step out from behind the boxes and raised up the wood that she held. Not knowing of another way to reach the man in time, she pulled back and threw the stick as hard as she could, knocking the man in the side of the head, dropping him to the ground.
The Doctor spun around just in time to see the man fall and his gun roll from his hand. He glanced back at Anji and saw she gripping her recently injured shoulder. “You all right?” he called to her.
She nodded as she said tightly, “Fine, now hurry up!”
He did just that and spun around, grabbing the rope in his hands and giving a swift tug. The barrels rolled down from the roof and crashed to the ground, cutting off the would be escape route of the bikers.
Anji watched as the Doctor now turned and went right for the now thick wall of smoke in the middle of the street. She didn’t have a clue what he thought he was doing as he plunged into the fray. It only took a moment for her to loose sight of him. She wanted to follow him in but her lack of weapon and the throbbing from her shoulder suggested to her that it would be far better to her remain on the sidelines for this.
Where she gripped her shoulder, she could feel warm liquid seeping from between the now torn stitches that Jap had so carefully put in less than a half hour ago. She began to wonder if it had been such a great idea to go throwing something with that arm like that, but she hadn’t even thought about it when it happened.
She watched tensely for any sign of the Doctor. Occasionally she would spot flashes of men in the swirling smoke. She was rather impressed that none of the bikers beside the one that she had taken out had bothered pulling their guns. Even now that the smoke was beginning to dissipate and they were able to see each other, they still didn’t seem to reach for their firearms.
It was then that she saw the Doctor stumble out from the smoke, one arm gripping a bundle of something to his chest, the other clutching his throat as he alternately coughed and gasped for air. He hadn’t yet cleared the caustic fumes when he collapsed on the side of the road.
Anji, forgetting about her injury, ran over to him, grabbing onto his shoulders and lifting him slightly from the ground. She saw that he was clutching what appeared to be nearly the biker’s entire assortment of guns. It was so strange to see the Doctor in possession of any firearm that she nearly dropped him. Then she realized that that was the reason he had plunged into the group. He had put his slight of hand to the test in the blinding smoke and removed the guns from the enemies, evening up the field.
But he hadn’t had the damp bandana to breath through like the others from the town. It was his idea for them to do so, and he didn’t even follow his own advice.
“Doctor!” she called to him as she rolled him over. He was still coughing as he reached out the arm that wasn’t holding onto the weapons to Anji. She grabbed it and threw his arm over her shoulders, pulling him up as best she could. He was working with her, but the violent hacking that racked his body stole most of his breath and energy away.
She wound up half helping, half dragging him further away from the fighting, right into the closest building, which happened to be Mathis’ house, and closed the door behind them.
By now she had inhaled some of the gas and was coughing a little herself as she propped him up against the wall. She watched him as he seemed to finish expelling all of the offensive air from his lungs and began to breath again, albeit, raggedly.
“That was pretty stupid of you to walk into a wall of smoke without anything to breath through,” she scolded him.
He nodded weakly, as he rasped, “I keep forgetting that I don’t have my repertory bypass anymore.”
Anji sighed as she leaned against the opposite wall. She was suddenly feeling rather dizzy from all of the excitement. But that didn’t quite feel right; she had been through far more stressful situations and hadn’t felt like this before.
She looked over at the Doctor who was leaning his head back, eyes closed as he caught his breath. All she could think about was closing her eyes as well. She leaned back a little more, ignoring the pain in her shoulder as she pressed it against the wall. But something about where it rested didn’t feel right. It was almost as if the wall was damp and a little sticky, but she didn’t really want to think about that right now.
Suddenly she felt arms grabbing her away from the wall as the Doctor’s agitated voice distantly sounded beside her, “Anji! Why didn’t you tell me you ripped your stitches?!”
She felt his hands pressing on her shoulder as he pulled her head up to his chest. She could feel the dampness that had soaked through her shirt as her fingers brushed against a puddle of liquid on the floor as the Doctor lifted her up.
She tried to protest that she was fine when she heard him wheeze slightly as he forced his still irritated lungs to work a bit harder while he carried her out of the house, but she couldn’t find the energy to do so.
The sounds of fighting had subsided and the smoke had almost completely cleared by now. “Jap!” she heard the Doctor calling as he walked quickly towards the physician’s house.
Anji began to drift further away as she felt her body changing hands. There was rumbling of talking over her as she continued to move quickly, but the bouncing and the rhythmic movements were lulling her to sleep. Slowly everything began to dim and the sounds became more and more muffled until she finally completely disconnected from the world.
Back to index
Chapter 6: Chapter 6
Cassidy realized that she must have dozed off in the chair where she had been sitting when she was suddenly awaken by the soft sound of their door being opened. It was still quite dark but a little bit of the light from the two moons was filtering through the shades across the window. There was just enough light for her to see a shadowy figure entering their room. The figure was moving quietly if a bit jaunty.
She sat there for a moment as it moved towards the bed where Fitz was lying on his stomach, still knocked out cold. She watched as it pulled something out and held it towards Fitz.
"Hey!" she called, jumping up.
The figure quickly turned and fled as it realized that it had been spotted. Fitz was immediately awake but by the time he turned over, there was no one else left in the room besides Cassidy.
"What?" he demanded as she was hurriedly moving to the door that was still slightly ajar.
"Someone came in here. I don't know what they were doing, but they had something pointed at you,” she explained quickly as she looked out into the hallway. There was no one in sight.
"I didn't see anyone," Fitz said.
"You were asleep," she told him. "It moved incredibly fast as soon as it realized that it had been spotted." She had stepped back into the room and closed the door.
"What do you suppose it wanted?" Fitz said as he got out of the bed and started turning on some lights.
"I don't know," she answered. "But I have a feeling it wasn't just to make sure that we were sleeping alright."
Anji slowly found herself coming back to awareness piece by piece. First thing she noticed was that she was lying down. Next was the pain in her shoulder. Finally she realized that someone was holding her hand.
She cracked her eyes just a bit and looked at the hand that held hers. She would know that hand anywhere; it was the Doctor's. She opened her eyes a bit more and saw that he was sitting beside her bed, leaning onto the unoccupied space beside her. He appeared to be asleep.
It was then that she realized that it was completely dark other than a very faint glow of a candle across the room. She stirred just slightly and tried to disentangle her hand from the Doctor's. She could feel that where his fingers had pressed into hers she had lost some circulation.
As she moved, the Doctor suddenly sat up and let go of her hand. He looked tired and slightly pale himself, but he gave here a huge grin when he saw that she was awake.
"Welcome back!" he told her.
She moaned slightly as she brought her hand up to try and reach her aching shoulder. The Doctor's smile quickly dropped as he reached out and took her hand and pulled it back to her side as he said, "you shouldn't move too much just yet. You managed to tear yourself up pretty good. Just lie still for now."
"What happened?" she asked as she found her voice again. He smiled gravely at her and replied,
"You went and chastised me for running into the smoke without protection after you threw a heavy object with the arm that had just received several stitches and then carried me several yards. You tore you stitches pretty bad and then didn't even tell me. I didn't realize it until I saw the blood that was running down your arm. You nearly died from blood loss."
Anji sighed. "I guess I just wasn't thinking," she replied. She was quiet for minute before she asked, "How are you? You were in pretty bad shape last I knew."
"Me?" he said startled as he sat back again. "I'm fit as a fiddle... well a fiddle with a broken leg, scarred lungs, and a missing heart. But I'm fine. And I'm glad to see that you’ve come around. I have to admit,” he said sheepishly. “You had me more than a little worried.”
“Well turn about and all that,” Anji replied airily as she tried to sit up some. The Doctor watched her for second as if he was trying to decide to help or stop her from moving. Finally he decided on the former and gently took a hold of her shoulders and helped her to sit up. He leaned her forward slightly as he reached back and pulled the pillows up to give her something to lean against, and then set her back against them.
“Thank you,” Anji said as he sat back down again. She took a moment to let the head rush pass before she asked, “So how did everything work out?”
“You mean with the bikers? They’re all secured in one of the sand storm shelters. None of them received worse than a few bumps on the head with some smoke inhalation issues that Jap has already cleared up for the most part.”
“And the town?”
The Doctor looked sad for a moment before he replied, “Most everyone was fine; a few more bumps and bruises and a broken arm… But a friend of Toller, Jeramy, was thrown into the barrels by the this group’s leader and broke his neck.”
Anji cast her eyes down as she said, “I’m sorry.”
The Doctor sighed before he said, “I am too. If it wasn’t for me, none of this would have happened.”
Anji looked at him sharply once again and said, “Not today, but eventually something would have. These people have been terrorized and they would have been forced to fight back eventually. If you ask me, it was better that they had you here to help them now than for them to have done it on their own later.”
“Maybe,” the Doctor said unconfidently. Suddenly he changed subjects and pulled himself out of his chair again saying, “I should let Jap know that you’re awake. He’ll want to check on your shoulder again I’m sure.”
Before Anji could stop him, he had hobbled out of the room somewhere into the house. She sighed again as she leaned back against the pillow and closed her eyes. Just what the Doctor needed, she thought, more guilt.
Lord Protector Ratha was eyeing Cassidy suspiciously. “And you can’t tell me what the intruder looked like?”
Cassidy sighed, “I told you, it was dark. Whoever it was, they moved really fast and were gone before I got a chance to get closer.”
“And you never got a look?” Ratha said, turning to Fitz.
“No; I didn’t see anything. It was a good thing that Cassidy is a light sleeper or I might have woken up in some unpleasant situation.”
“So you believe her story then?” Ratha pressed.
“What do you mean he believes me?!” Cassidy burst out. “Are you saying that you don’t? I know what I saw!”
Ratha didn’t back down, but he kept his voice cool and calm. “I’m sure that you think you saw something. But you were both very tired when you came in. Isn’t it just possible that you were dreaming?”
“No, it’s not!” Cassidy snapped.
“I never saw the person, but when I woke up, Cassidy walking towards an already open door. It was closed when I fell asleep,” Ftiz argued.
Ratha shook his head, “I just don’t see why anyone would want to come in here last night. You haven’t reported anything yet and nothing happened. There is nothing going on in the city right now to precipitate something of a violent nature. If anything, people are going to want to hear about a new gang so that we can put a stop to them before they become too powerful.”
Cassidy was getting very angry but Fitz decided that a slight change in subject might be best for the situation right then. “Have you had problems with gangs in the past?”
“Oh yes,” Ratha replied. “There was a time when all of the people on Ghont lived in fear of the different gangs. There were constantly gang wars going on over territory and water rights. It wasn’t until Rushwater banded together and formed our central government with grand council leading it and organized our militia that the gangs have been fading out. We thought that they had disappeared altogether in the last few years. That’s why I can’t see why anyone would want to try and prevent you from presenting your evidence that a new one may have arisen.”
“Well neither do we, but I know that there was someone in this room last night without permission and I’m sure that they were up to no good,” Cassidy stated. Ratha looked like he was going to argue some more before Cassidy sighed and continued slightly defeated, “But I see that you are not going to believe me until I have proof. So I will let the issue drop for now, but you should know that you should tighten your security and that I am going to be keeping an extra eye out for anything out of the usual.”
Ratha nodded in acceptance, “That is something that I can do.”
“Alright,” Fitz said. “Now, can we please get on with this. Our friends may need help back in Purespring and the people there are probably pretty anxious for word as well.”
Ratha turn to him and nodded, “Yes, follow me and I’ll take you to the council chamber. They will want to question you and here your evidence.”
They both nodded to the Lord Protector and followed him out into the hallway.
“What do we do now?” one of the bikers asked Borris as they sat some distance away from the city. He was furious with himself and those two that got away for them by beating him to Rushwater. They shouldn’t have been able to push themselves and those bikes as far and as fast as they had. But there they were, those two would probably be telling the whole council about them by now and there was going to be a certain council member who was no going to be very happy about this… That is if the two informants even made it to the council chamber alive. He had to sneer slightly at that thought before turning to question at hand.
“Our friend will be wanting a chat with me pretty soon I’m sure. We’re going to have to go to the meeting area and wait for him,” he grumbled.
“Yeah, how long will that be?” another sneered.
Borris spun around in his seat and glared at the speaker as he said in a deadly voice, “as long as it takes.”
“And is that all that you have to report to this council?” the tall man in the yellow robes asked Fitz and Cassidy. He had been looking down his nose at them the entire time that they had been speaking.
“Yes, that is what happened and what Mathis told us,” Cassidy said.
“Thank you for your report,” a woman in light blue robes from the other side of the table said kindly, if a little patronizingly. “You can return to your quarters while we deliberate on what you have told us.”
“Deliberate?!” Fitz bellowed. “What do you have to deliberate on? We told you what happened to us, we even told you that your own people are being terrorized. What more do you want? The people of Purespring could be attacked at any time because they sent us for help. Now is not the time to waste over rehashing the facts that you already know!”
“That is the way that we work,” A man in green robes snapped. “You come here as strangers asking for help and then criticize our methods? There is not any reason that we should trust you. We are not about to commit the man power to a two days ride into the desert on a whim!”
“This is no mere whim!” Cassidy cried. “We watched our friend beaten to an inch of his life and then found a town that was living in dread of these same people who had hurt him to the point they nearly wouldn’t help him! There is no time for talking about this, you have got to act now!”
“That is not how we do things here,” a much calmer voiced man replied smoothly. He wore robes of red and sat at the center of the table. His name was Horus and he was the Grand council chairman. “If you wish for our help at all, you must respect our processes. I promise that we will not hold your outbursts against your case, but we must make sure that we all understand the facts so that we may act accordingly.”
Fitz was about to give this man a piece of his mind as well when Cassidy calmed her voice but to a level that was much more intimidating, “I’m sorry to have offended you. We will await you decision as you ask. But please remember, there are lives at stake here, try to do this quickly.” With that she turned on her heel and marched out of the room past Fitz. He stared after her for a moment before he too turned and quickly followed.
As soon as they were in the hallway he caught up to her and grabbed her arm saying, “We’re just going to sit here while that group goes back for Anji and the Doctor?”
“Of course not!” Cassidy snapped in a stage whisper as she shook his hand off. “You’re going to wait here… I’m going to go back out and follow after them. I don’t know how they could, but I have a feeling that the council is not going to do anything. If it’s evidence that they want, then I will go get it for them.”
“What?” Fitz said, taken aback. “What are you going to do against that group? You saw what they did to the Doctor. Do you think that after the chase that we have put them through that they will be any more kind to you?”
“Yes,” she said simply as they entered their room. She let Fitz walk further in before she closed the door behind them. “I’ve got an advantage Fitz, I can literally walk into the middle of their group as if I was one of the guys. I can collect inside information and maybe even find out where this new group came from. I have a bad feeling that there is a lot more going on here than just a biker gang that is terrorizing an out of the way town.”
“You have got to be crazy,” Fitz said. “If they catch you, you’re dead!”
“Then I’ll just have to make sure that they don’t catch me,” she replied smoothly.
Fitz sighed angrily at her and said, “No wonder you thought the Doctor was interesting.”
“How is she?” The Doctor asked as Jap finished his examination of Anji.
“Looks like she’ll be fine after a few days rest,” he concluded. “And no more throwing heavy objects for at least a week young lady,” he said told her sternly with a twinkle in his eye while mockingly shaking his finger at her.
“I promise,” Anji told him as she sat back.
Jap walked over and poured her a glass of water and brought it back, handing it to her while taking one of the seats beside her bed. “Now that that is all settled, what are we going to do about your friends?” Jap asked Anji and the Doctor.
“I’ve been thinking about that,” the Doctor said. “It seems to me that we really have no idea who it is that we sent Fitz out with. And so there is no telling if we can even expect help to arrive from Rushwater.”
“And that wasn’t the entire gang,” Anji said. “We may well be expecting more before too long.”
Jap nodded, “That was my thoughts as well, but what can we do about it?”
“I think that I’m going to need to go after Fitz and Cassidy. Whether we can trust Cassidy or not, I still need to make sure that Fitz is alright and see that their message is delivered to the city.”
“Doctor, you are in no shape to be making a trip across the desert,” Anji scolded.
“If anyone should go it should be me,” Jap answered. “I’m in charge here now, it should be my responsibility.”
The Doctor shook his head, “You are needed here to keep things in order and to keep an eye on those bikers, both for their physical injuries and to make sure they don’t cause anymore trouble.”
“Toller is more than capable of doing that job. I have been training him since he was a boy and he has shown a huge amount of potential for leadership,” Jap argued.
“I still need to make sure that Fitz is alright,” the Doctor insisted. “I brought him here, he’s my responsibility.”
“And the well being of you and this town are mine,” Jap insisted.
Anji sighed loudly, grabbing both of their attentions, “Look,” she said. “Jap, I can tell you from experience that once the Doctor has something in his head to do there is no stopping him. But since I don’t think that he should be going out alone and I certainly shouldn’t be going anywhere in the near future, I think you both should go.”
The Doctor and Jap exchanged a look before they both grinned at one another. “Always a quick thinker, Anji,” the Doctor said excitedly.
“This doesn’t mean that I don’t think that you’re being silly for going, just that I know you are far too stubborn to be talked out of it,” she replied.
“Well Jap,” the Doctor said, ignoring Anji’s last comment. “let’s get ready to go, shall we?”
Fitz followed Cassidy out to find where their bikes had been put. “I should be going with you,” he grumbled.
“No, you shouldn’t. I can look after myself, but I can’t look after you. It’s the same reason that I had to help us to run when the Diablos first grabbed us. I wasn’t able to influence them for you three, just for myself.”
“I know, but I think that you should at least have someone nearby in case something goes wrong and you need help.”
Cassidy smiled as she said, “I’m glad you think so Fitz, it was just two days ago that you weren’t sure that you could even trust me. But you still should stay here in case they decided to go to Purespring’s aid.”
“They know where Purespring is, what good is me staying here to know whether they’re coming or not going to do.”
“Not much,” a voice suddenly said behind them.
They both turned and saw that it was Ratha. He wasn’t far behind and they waited a second for him to catch up to them. “I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help but hear that you are going back out.”
“So what of it?” Cassidy asked.
Ratha shook his head, “I know that we have gotten off to a bad start, but I think I am starting to believe that not everything is as I thought it was before.”
Fitz and Cassidy exchanged a look before Fitz said, “meaning?”
“Meaning I think there is some bad politics going on around here and they are now beginning to interfere with the well-being of the people of Ghont. I was sent to find you and inform you that they will not be pursuing the lead of your case.”
“Pursuing the lead…?” Cassidy said completely at a loss for words. “They think that we are just making this stuff up?”
“Apparently so,” Ratha confirmed.
“But you don’t?” Fitz asked.
He was silent for a moment before saying, “No, I don’t. I think that you are telling the truth and even if you are not, your claim is still worth at least sending a delegation out to Purespring to find out what is going on.”
“Finally, at least someone who is sensible,” Fitz said exasperatedly.
“Why are you telling us this?” Cassidy asked suspiciously.
“Because I’m becoming more and more sure that at least one of, if not all of, the council have become corrupt. I’m afraid that you may have been right about the attempted attack on your lives last night.”
“My how your tone has changed,” Cassidy commented as she turned and began walking away again. “But what does it matter?” she said over her shoulder as she walked, forcing Fitz and Ratha to follow her. “As you said, we are talking of leaving anyway. We won’t be in any danger from your council if we are no longer in the city and we are going to try and collect the proof that your people are unwilling to get. So why tell us all of this?” she asked again as she stopped and turned to face Ratha once more.
“Because I was hoping for your help in flushing out exactly who is working against our government.”
Fitz sighed, “Of course you were…”
“Are you sure that you want to come?” the Doctor asked Jap as they prepared to head out.
“Only if you are,” he said sidelong to the Doctor.
The Doctor smiled and nodded, “I guess we understand each other then.”
A few moments later Jap got on his bike and said to the Doctor, “Well, I think we’re all set to go. Do you want to pop in and say goodbye to Anji before we leave?”
The Doctor shook his head, “No, let’s just get going. I’ve never been very good at the whole goodbye thing."
“Whatever you want,” Jap said as he started his vehicle. The Doctor got on his own and started it up as well. A few moments later they were pulling out of the town and heading off in the same direction as Fitz and Cassidy.
Back to index
Chapter 7: Chapter 7Chapter 7
Fitz and a reluctant Cassidy followed Ratha back to the Councilate. “What exactly do you have in mind?” Fitz was asking the Lord Protector.
“I’m not sure yet. But there have been a lot of strange comings and goings lately in the council that I didn’t really pay much attention to until now. I’m sure now that several of the members have been keeping odd hours and have been leaving the building far more often then usual.”
“And you want us to help you track them when they go?” Cassidy asked.
“Yes, that is the idea.”
Cassidy shook her head as she said, “This could take far too long. I’m going to give you until the end of the day and then I am out of here. Fitz can stay and help you in your investigation, but I need to be out there and doing something.”
Fitz was about to protest when Ratha beat him to it, “What do you think you can do? You’re just one uninformed person against an entire armed gang. At least if you know what the motivations are behind these attacks you will have a little more to go on.”
“Look,” Fitz said to Ratha. “I get it; it would be better for everyone if we knew what was going on around here. But the matter is, no one else is going to go out and help our friends so it is up to us.” Cassidy opened her mouth to say something but Fitz turned to her and said firmly, “And don’t think that I am going to let you go out there alone. You may be good, but you still could need help.”
Ratha, not entirely sure what it was they were talking about, sighed and said, “I am sorry about your friends, but you have to look at the bigger picture here. Our entire government may be corrupted at the highest level. It was formed for the very purpose to get rid of gangs like this and if they are now working with them, we need to know!”
“Like I said,” Cassidy said. “I’ll give you to the end of the day.”
Ratha just shook his head at their stubbornness and continued on to the council building.
A short while later they were walking in as Horus, the Council Chairman, was walking out. “Good day, Ratha,” he greeted.
“Councilor,” Ratha said with a nod.
The man glanced at Fitz and Cassidy but didn’t acknowledge their presence as he continued on his way out. Cassidy had a shiver run down her spine at the look that he had given them. There was something that didn’t feel right about him.
As soon as Horus was out of the doors, Fitz turned to Ratha and Cassidy and said, “Well, it looks like we have our first investigation.”
“Doctor, you do realize how dangerous this is, right?” Jap asked as they drove across the desert.
“I always do,” he answered.
“Because we are following behind a murderous gang who could turn around and come right for us at any time with no promise of help following behind them.”
“We’ll just have to make sure that we aren’t caught then,” he answered
Jap just shook his head.
“Ok, how’d I get roped into yet another alien government political intrigue?” Fitz asked as he and Cassidy followed some distance behind Horus.
“It just seems to be your lot in life,” Cassidy said with a smile. “After all, that seems to come with the territory when you travel with the Doctor.
“All too true,” he agreed.
They watched as their target wove in and out of the crowds of just after mid-day in Rushwater. He was heading in the general direction of the gates as he went.
Cassidy allowed Fitz to keep an eye on Horus as they went while she decided to start looking at her surroundings. There seemed to be a lot of people around for the amount of heat that was filling the air. She would have thought that the mid-day of a planet as hot as this one would have had less activity during the peek sunlight hours. But here it seemed to be just the opposite.
Looking around, she also noticed how industrious this town appeared. The small little village of Purespring had a much more home stead feel to it where as this place was more like a beginning of an industrial revolution. It seemed that every other block had some factory on it. Another thing which seemed a bit out of place was the emergence of plastics. She hadn’t noticed too much of it in the Councilate, but out here there seemed to be several vendors who were sporting good that were either made of plastic or were contained within it.
Suddenly Cassidy saw Fitz make a quick adjustment in their direction and she nearly avoided colliding with another in order to follow after him.
“Where is he going?” Cassidy asked as she caught up to Fitz again.
“No idea. I had thought he was heading out of the city, but I don’t know now.”
Soon they found they needed to hang further and further back to not be noticed by the Grand Council Chairman. The amount of people in the streets was diminishing exponentially as they went and began weaving in and out of dark side streets and allies.
Finally, they came up to a corner that their target had disappeared around and were slightly taken aback when they saw that there was no one on the other side.
“Now where’d he go?” Fitz asked as he looked around. They had come to a dead end. The corner turned into a short ally that ended in the wall that encompassed the city.
“He can’t have just disappeared,” she answered as she walked up to the wall and began eying it.
"That’s not something you can always rely on when you travel with the Doctor either,” Fitz grumbled as he joined her.
“I wonder…” Cassidy said under her breath, not paying attention to Fitz. She placed her hands on the wall and began to fell around, running her fingers over and into the cracks of the bricks.
“What are you looking for?” Fitz asked her.
“Something…” she answered vaguely.
Fitz just sighed heavily at her as he decided to join her in the hunt for something.
Suddenly Cassidy pulled her hand back with a slight gasp of pain. She looked down at her finger as Fitz joined her to see what had happened.
“What?” he asked her.
She showed her index finger to him. There was a small drop of blood on the end of it. “I nicked myself on something.” She answered as she returned her hand to the general area where the wall had attacked her. She found a slight indent in between two bricks. As she gingerly pressed a finger into it again, she felt first the rough metal that had bitten into her skin. As she avoided the obstacle, she reached a bit further in and found something small, flat, and smooth. Having a pretty good idea what it was that she found, she gave the object a push.
Quickly she withdrew her hand again as the wall began to shake and rumble. She and Fitz took a sudden step back as they watched a whole section of the wall slide out and then to the left, revealing a slim gap towards the open desert.
“I think we found out where Horus went off to,” Fitz said after a moment.
“Apparently. Now let’s hurry before we lose him completely,” Cassidy said.
The Doctor and Jap road through out the day and stopped only for a brief time to get out of the sun and drink some water around mid-day.
“It’s amazing how refreshing a drink of water can be in areas such as this,” the Doctor commented as they sat under of a grouping of trees.
“Yes,” Jap agreed before sighing. “It is a shame that it won’t belong before our little town will have to move back to Rushwater though because of that precious water,” he said.
“What do you mean?” the Doctor asked.
“Our water supply has been dwindling lately. Purespring was founded at the sight of a very robust natural spring, but over the last year or so, it has been giving less and less water. Soon we’ll have no choice but to move back to the city where there is an abundance of water.”
“Do you know why the water is drying up?” the Doctor asked.
Jap shook his head, as he said, “No, best we can figure is it’s just natural. The water has run out.”
The Doctor thought for a moment before saying, “That is a possibility, but it seems strange that a natural spring should run out of water.”
“There is nothing else that we have been able to determine the cause,” Jap insisted.
“Well, it seems to me that it would be safer for your people in the city anyways.”
“It wasn’t always like this,” Jap told him. “There originally were many gangs that plagued our planet, but within the last several years they were all but eradicated and life outside the city was possible. That was when a group of us decided that the city life was not for us and moved out here as well as several other settlements that found their own water sources to gather around. That is why we were completely taken off-guard by this new gang.”
They sat in silence again for a while before the Doctor said, “Well, I’m quite refreshed now.” As he spoke he used the tree to help bring himself to stand. “We should continue.”
“Yes, the sooner we get there, the better.”
Cassidy and Fitz found themselves hiding behind a cluster of rocks and trees just within earshot of the gang of bikers who had so recently chased them here and the man whom they were intent on spying on.
“It seems you have not been doing your job,” Horus said to Borris.
“It wasn’t our fault. At least, it wasn’t mine. These people don’t belong here and weren’t as easy to intimidate as those who know us. Besides, I suspect that you were completely capable of taking care of those two and the other two are already being dealt with back in the city. No harm to your precious experiment done.”
Horus glared at the gang leader as he said in a deadly quiet tone, “Part of this experiment requires no outside influences on that town. If you aren’t able to keep four stupid travelers out of the town, then what use are you to me? You are not holding up your part of the bargain and I’m not sure that you even deserve to reap the benefits of our research,” he ended as he pulled a small box out from his robes. All the eyes of the men went directly to that box.
“You wouldn’t dare withhold that from us. There is no one else who is going to patrol the area for you without giving away your secrets and you know that we would kill you right here for that shipment,” Borris answered with his arms folded over his chest.
Horus smiled evilly as he said, “Just remember, I hold the control in this… I own you and your gang. Next time you fail me, there will be consequences. As it is, you are correct in assuming that there is no threat to the operation being discovered at present. I was unable to dispose of the two before they came to the council, but I was able to persuade the council to disregard what they had to say. I’m sure that by this time tomorrow, I’ll have eliminated those two and there will be no more trouble. But the others better have been taken care of.”
“I assure you they will be if they aren’t already. I am partially hopeful that I might get to lay my hands on the Doctor once more before we kill him.”
“Doctor?” Horus asked.
“That’s what their leader goes by,” Borris said.
Horus got a far off look on his face for a moment before saying, “Describe him to me.”
“About medium height, slight build, longish wavy hair, wore strange dress.”
“Hmm,” Horus thought as the far off expression prevailed. “Not what we remember, but still…” he said quietly. “Still,” he said slightly louder as he snapped his focus back to Borris. “If he isn’t already dead, I want to see him, alive and as unharmed as you can manage; got that?”
Borris scowled as he answered, “Yeah, got it.”
“Good. Now I have two people that I still need to see taken care of and so do you. I’m sure that you could do with a night’s rest by now. But make sure that you are off by the morning, alright?”
Borris just nodded, as his gaze returned to the box that Horus still held. Horus smiled again as he said, “oh yes, I suppose that I can give this to you, even if you don’t deserve it,” as he tossed it to Borris. “But make sure that you deserve the next box I bring you. Otherwise, you may come up with nothing.” With that, he turned on his heal and headed back to the city.
Fitz and Cassidy waited until Horus was out of sight before they followed after him. They snuck back into the city the same way they had left and went directly to Lord Protector Ratha. They had a lot to report and it seemed a lot of planning to do, not to mention a few more mysteries to solve.
“Hmm, you two have done what I have not been able to do for the past few months,” Ratha told Fitz and Cassidy as soon as they finished their report. “This is a lot of information to take in and frankly gives more questions then answers.”
“Like what this experiment is and who is really behind all this,” Cassidy said. “I got the distinct feeling that Horus is just another messenger. There is still a larger picture to put together.”
“And that group is going to be heading back to Rushwater in the morning,” Fitz reminded them. "There are still innocent people there that need help.”
“Yes,” Ratha sighed. “But I don’t know how to give it to them. We still need the Council to approve any action and if the Council are the ones who are working with the gang, then I don’t know what to do.”
“We let the others know what’s going on!” Fitz exclaimed. “We tell them exactly what we just told you and have them do whatever to Horus and give us the help we need!”
“But what if it is more than just Horus? And how are they going to believe you? You are strangers in this place and he has been their head since the development of the Council. I don’t see what good telling them this information will be.”
“But you believe us, yes?” Cassidy asked.
Ratha sighed as he said, “It is just to outrageous a story for you to make up.” He paused before nodded and said, “Yes, I believe you. But I don’t know what more to do.”
They were all quiet for a moment before Fitz said. Apparently there are two things that have to happen. One, we need to determine the loyalties of the rest of the Council and, two, we need to bring proof of our story.”
“How?” Ratha asked.
“I think that the further investigations will be left to you. But I think I have an idea of how Fitz and I can gather you some proof and possibly help our friends in the process,” Cassidy said.
Ratha stood and came over to her and asked again, “How?”
Cassidy smiled as she answered, “We bring Borris back here to tell you everything himself.”
Fitz and Cassidy were on their way out of the city once again just after sunrise with a fairly complete plan in mind as to how to get Borris back with them. Fitz wasn’t very happy about his rather small role in the operation as it was Cassidy who was going to be infiltrating the gang and getting Borris away form them when the opportunity presented itself. Fitz was just supposed to stay out of sight but within range to help when needed.
They parted company at the trees they had hidden themselves in the day before; Cassidy to slip into the group, Fitz staying behind for the group to leave and to follow after at a safe distance.
“Good luck,” Cassidy told him.
“You too,” he said as he watched her slip into the gang. As she went, he was amazed at how she just seemed to suddenly belong there. For a moment, it was as if he didn’t even know who she was as and didn’t remember a thing about her. But as he continued to watch the figure that had just parted his company, he was able to preserve the differences in her from the rest of the group and if he concentrated hard enough, he saw the now familiar figure that he knew. He shook his head to himself as he thought that maybe, just maybe, the plan might actually go the way that it was planned to go… provided that there were no surprises along the way.”
That night the Doctor and Jap decided to stop and rest. Really, it was Jap who insisted on the stop as he saw how worn the Doctor still was. He had pleaded fatigue of his own and the Doctor accepted it somewhat gratefully.
The Doctor did insist on being the first to take watch that night though. They found a good place that offered some shelter with a cluster of bushes and rocks to spend the night before they made a small camp. They drank a little more of their water and had a nibble, but the water was really enough after the long day of riding in the hot sun. Then they settled down, Jap lying on the ground on top of a blanket, and the Doctor propped up against a boulder.
It was nearing midnight when the Doctor finally couldn’t fight his fatigue any longer and finally succumbed to sleep. He and Jap slept soundly through the night. It wasn’t until the sun began to crest over the horizon that they were both very rudely awakened.
“How kind it was for you to come meet us, Doctor,” a malicious voice sounded, jarring the Doctor awake just before he was grabbed and hauled to his feet. He was pinned between two burly men with his arms held fast behind his back painfully.
“Borris,” he said as he saw the man who had spoken standing in front of him. “Good morning.”
“Good morning to you Doctor,” he answered as some other of his men were hauling Jap up off the ground. The physician struggled enough to receive a punch to the stomach.
“Stop,” the Doctor said calmly as he watched them pick Jap up again. “Don’t fight them, it’ll only make things worse.”
“You always are giving out sound advice, Doctor,” Borris sneered. “But this time there is little that can be done to lessen your abuse.” With that he also punched the Doctor in the stomach and as he doubled over, the biker swung his other hand to collide with the Doctor’s cheek.
“Borris!” a voice quickly said. “I thought you were supposed to bring him back alive.”
The voice had sounded familiar at first to the Doctor. If he had been asked right when he heard it, he would have sworn that it was female. But now, he began to remember a male talking and the voice that still sounded in his mind was not one he had ever heard before.
Borris glared at his underling who dared to interrupt the punishment he was dealing out. But the boy was right, they were supposed to bring the Doctor to Horus alive and relatively unharmed. But it was Borris who would determine how relative to make the unharmed statement. Still, his men expected him to follow Horus’s orders.
“Unfortunately, you’re right,” he growled. “I will take him back myself. The rest of you, bring Jap back to his little town and show him the punishment of trying to escape. Break both his legs and several others in the town as well for good measure. And since the other female isn’t here, I would assume that she is still back at Purespring. Do what you want with her but kill her before I get back.”
“Why are you doing this?” the Doctor asked as the men who held him began to viciously tie his arms behind his back.
“Because it’s fun. And because we are getting paid quite well,” was the answer as Borris pulled his bike over to the rocks where the Doctor was still standing. He pulled out his gun and aimed it at the Doctor as the other two men left his side and found their own bikes. They stood, staring at one another as the bikes all revved and roared away, across the desert.
“Well now, it’s just you and me, Doctor.”
“So it would seem.”
They continued to glare at one another for a moment longer before Borris suddenly sprang at the Doctor. He dived for the ground and rolled out of the way of the advancing man but was suddenly brought to a stop when the biker grabbed him by the hair and pulled him back.
“You don’t think that I’m going to let you slip away again, do you?” Borris snarled in his face.
Gasping at the pain from the back of his head and the suddenness of the assault, he saw the violence and hatred as well as the murderous state that burned in his captor’s eyes. “I thought you were supposed to bring me back alive,” he said.
A cruel smile spread across the man’s face as he said quietly, “Who says that I ever found you alive? It was always possible that my men had already killed you before I returned. That’s the only story that my benefactor needs to know.” With that, he violently threw the Doctor to the ground on his back.
The Doctor had managed to get his hands free but Borris had moved too fast to try and ward him off. Without a moment for thought, the biker had reached down with his hand and clamped it around the Doctor’s throat, lifting him from the ground one handed.
The Doctor thrashed and tried to beat off the arm that was crushing his airflow but his blows felt as if they were hitting plastic and just bounced right off.
“This is what I have been waiting for, Doctor, watching you slowly die in my hand. Watching as you turn various shades of color while your life seeps out from your eyes. This is why I do what I do, Doctor, for moments like this.”
The Doctor’s vision began to blur and darken as a roaring sound began to fill his ears. He tried desperately to pry the vice like fingers away from his throat, but there was nothing that was going to move them.
Suddenly a shot rang out and Borris released the Doctor with a cry of pain, sending him crashing back to the ground, jarring his still mending leg.
For a moment, the only thing that the Doctor was able to think about was taking huge gasps of air that in turned caused him to cough and choke. He felt a hand take a hold of his and he tried to pull away in reaction. The other let go and he looked up to see who his new attacker was.
At first he thought he saw another of the bikers but the vision seemed to melt into a female who was crouched on the ground beside him. She looked familiar and it took him a second to realize that this was the girl that he could vaguely remember being with him when he arrived.
“Cassidy?” he rasped.
“Good, you remember me then?” she said as she reached out to help him again, but he still pulled away.
“No, I just know that you were with me before, but I don’t know who you are. And by the company you keep, it doesn’t seem as if I can trust you.”
Cassidy hurriedly glanced up, the Doctor looked and followed her gaze. Borris was lumbering towards a rock outcropping, bellowing in anger and pain with his left hand firmly clamped around his right shoulder.
“Doctor, I can explain everything later. Right now you are going to have to trust me,” she said urgently.
“Where’s Fitz?” he demanded.
“Over there,” she answered. “Behind those rocks and if I don’t act soon, he’s going to be discovered. Now I need you to trust me. I have to get you out of sight before I act,” she said firmly as she reached out a hand to him.
It only took another second for him to make up his mind and placed his hand in hers.
Cassidy helped to haul the Doctor around a grouping of rocks and had him lie behind them. "You're going to have to trust me on this," she said again as she pulled out the gun that Ratha had given her and fitted a red tip on the end of it. "I suggest you close your eyes," she said as she took aim at the ground beside him.
He did as she suggested, though wondered how it was that he still trusted her. Then he heard the shot and felt himself being sprayed with a sticky liquid. When he opened his eyes, he found that he had been spattered with a red substance that looked a lot like blood.
He was going to ask about it when he realized that Cassidy was now leaving him.
Borris, not in pain so much as shock from his bullet wound, was furious as he searched through the bushes and around the rocks for the culprit. Suddenly, he heard another shot ring
out. He stood strait and looked in the direction that it had come from.
One of his own was standing beside another rock grouping, gun still aimed at the ground, spattered in blood. "What the hell are you doing?!" he demanded, suddenly even more furious that one of his own men would take his kill.
His second looked up at him and walked out from behind the rocks towards him, wiping the gun off on the underside of his shirt. "Doing exactly what you said, killing the Doctor before you had a chance. I knew you were going to kill him, so I stayed behind to make sure that you did. If he got away again, Horus would have all of our heads."
"Is he dead?" Borris demanded, as his rage slowly mounted.
"Think I'd be covered in this much blood if he wasn't? He nearly got away again."
Suddenly realizing why it was that the Doctor had nearly escaped again, Borris turned back around to begin his search, but somebody was there in front of him. Just as he reached out his hand to grab the boy, a needle plunged into his arm, pumping a cool liquid into his veins. He had just enough time to grab the man by the arm before he began to topple over, pulling Fitz along with him.
“Hey!” Fitz called as he fell to the ground with the man.
Cassidy rushed over, fearing that the drug wasn’t working as fast as promised and Borris had managed to attack Fitz.
Hearing him call out, the Doctor quickly got up with his hiding place and hurried over to them as fast as he was able.
“Fitz, are you alright?” Cassidy asked as she got beside him and saw him trying to pry the solid grip of the unconscious man away from his arm.
“Yeah, just can’t seem to get my arm back,” he answered.
The Doctor was suddenly there, sonic screwdriver in hand. “I have a feeling that this is not his real arm,” he said as he fiddled for a second with the setting and then placed it against Borris’s shoulder.
Suddenly the hand sprang open, releasing Fitz from its hold. “Thanks,” he said as he sat back, massaging where the hand had been on his arm.
But the Doctor wasn’t paying very close attention to him anymore. He was examining the shoulder that had recently been shot. There was not a drop of blood anywhere, only a hole in the man’s shoulder. As he pulled back the clothing, it looked as if the skin around the hole had melted and smoldered with the heat of the projectile. But search as he might, there was no trace of bone, muscle, ligament, or even some type of metal to give this arm structure. It was as if it were a large hunk of plastic. As he touched it, he realized that that was exactly what this arm was made out of. And somewhere in the back of his mind, this sounded familiar, but he couldn’t place it.
“Plastic…” he mumbled as he tried to recall what it meant.
“Doctor?” Cassidy asked as she knelt down beside him.
“This man’s arm is made entirely out of plastic,” he told her, still trying to figure it out. “I know this means something… something that I have forgotten.”
Suddenly, he remembered something more recent that had to do with his faulty memory. “I’m sorry my dear,” he said turning to Cassidy. “But I don’t think we have ever properly met; “I’m the Doctor, and who are you?” he said, extending his hand to her.
“Doctor,” she sighed. “I know that I promised you an explanation, but right now there is a lot that needs to be taken care of.”
“She’s right,” Fitz said. “The drug I just gave him will wear off soon and we have to get him back to Rushwater before it does.”
“Well someone has to go after the group and help Jap and make sure Anji is alright,” the Doctor said.
“That’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to have to have Fitz fill you in. I’ve got some distance to catch up with them before it’s too late. You two get this guy back to Rushwater to prove to them that this is all real.”
“You’re going after them alone?” the Doctor said.
“I’m the only one who can,” she answered cryptically as she got on her bike and started it. “I promise I’ll take care of Jap and Anji and the rest of the town if I can,” she said and drove away.
The Doctor turned to Fitz and said, “You’re going to have a lot of explaining to do.”
Fitz sighed and said, “Don’t I know it?”
Back to index
Chapter 8: Chapter 8Chapter 8
It was another day before Anji was feeling well enough to leave her bed. She was still sore and tired, but there was a lot that needed to be done and she felt that she would just be in people’s way if she lay in bed any longer. Besides, she didn’t like just lying there with nothing to do but think about how much trouble the Doctor and Fitz could be getting in without her.
Anji left the back room where she had been lying in Jap’s office and went into the next room where Toller was busy at work at the bench. “What are you doing?” she asked as she eyed the different canisters that were set out on the table.
Toller looked up and said, “You shouldn’t be up yet.”
“Well I am,” she answered matter of factly. “And I want to help out. What is it that you are working on?” she asked again.
He looked at her for a moment longer before shaking his head and returned to the work at hand. “The Doctor showed me how to make those smoke bombs that we used on the bikers so that I can make some more incase the others come back.”
“Can I help?” she asked as she took a seat next to him on the bench.
He eyed her a second before saying, “If you want, you can pour out what I have already mixed into the cloths and tie them up.”
“Great!” she said with a smile and set herself to work. “Is there anything else that you are doing to prepare for the other Diablos?” she asked as she began her work.
Toller nodded as he said, “yes, we have a few more tricks for them if they show up again. I think that we might finally be able to get rid of them and be able to live in peace, for a while anyway.”
“What do you mean?” she asked as she caught the hint that there were other problems in this town besides the obvious.
Toller sighed and answered, “I’m not sure really what we are fighting for since in a matter of a year or two, our spring will be dried up and we’ll have to move back to the city anyway.”
“Really? Clara said that the spring wasn’t what it used to be, but I didn’t realize it was that bad.”
“Not everyone realizes it yet. But they will once they aren’t as focused on the Diablos. Our town will soon be deserted and our work here will have been for nothing.”
Anji was silent for a moment before she asked, “When did you first notice that the water was drying up?”
“It’s hard to say. We first noticed not too long after the Diablos first started showing up; but natural springs are never constant in their flow as it is. So when it first started its decline would be hard to pinpoint.”
“Seems strange that a gang shows up about the same time as a water problem,” Anji commented.
“Guess that’s just our luck,” Toller said with an ironic smile.
“Tell me about it,” Anji muttered as she turned her full attention back to her task and they continued to work in silence for a time.
“So she’s a telepath,” the Doctor said once they had the large biker strapped down to the back of Fitz’s bike and they were headed back for Rushwater. As they had worked at this, Fitz had explained about Cassidy.
Fitz shrugged, “Guess so. I’m still not sure what to think about it all. It’s very weird knowing that my memories have been messed around with. I don’t know what is real and what is made up anymore. But, since she came clean, she’s proved to me at least that we can trust her now.”
The Doctor was silent for a moment before he nodded, “yes, I think you’re right.”
They didn’t talk for a while longer before the Doctor asked, “So what have I missed since you left?”
Fitz rolled his eyes and began telling him everything that happened in Rushwater…
…Cassidy smiled as she answered, “We bring Borris back here to tell you everything himself.”
Ratha and Fitz both stared at Cassidy in disbelief before Ratha broke the silence, “Are you crazy? He’s obviously willing and able to kill and surrounded by a devoted gang and you want to capture him?”
Cassidy nodded. “I know I can infiltrate the group, that’s the easy part, but what I need help with is how to get him out. I will obviously need to incapacitate him and be able to get him away from the others without their knowing.
Fitz was beginning to really like Cassidy right now. She had a way of just going in and getting something done that he really liked. Of course her ability to shrug off a dangerous situation was a little too much like the Doctor for his taste. “A tranquilizer of some kind?” he suggested.
Ratha looked between the two of them and finally registered that they were both serious about this. He saw the merit there would be if they were able to pull this off and after a moment he figured that if they failed, then nothing of his investigation would be messed up but if they succeeded, then everything could easily fall in place for him. Finally he sat down and applied himself to the thought of making this work.
After a moment he nodded and said, “I think I know of a drug that will help you. And with its use and a little bit of acting, you might be able to get the gang to leave Borris behind.”
“How?” Fitz and Cassidy asked in unison.
“The drug is a tranquilizer, but one that slows a persons vitals to almost non-existent for a while. If you can somehow make it look as if Borris is dead…”
“Then the others would have no reason to worry about him,” Fitz concluded.
Several hours later they had it all worked out, though exactly how Cassidy planned on infiltrating the group and in a position to publicly assassinate the gang leader in order to take his place, Ratha was still a little confused. But if they pulled it off, then everything would come out.
“So the original plan was for Cassidy to incite an argument with Borris and pretend to shoot him while injecting the drug?” the Doctor summed up.
“Yup,” Fitz replied. “I was to trail behind and when Cassidy led the group off, I was to get Borris and bring him back to Rushwater. Of course when you showed up, we had to improvise. But it still seemed to work out alright.”
“Except Cassidy didn’t insert herself as leader and may not be able to intervene on Jap’s behalf or anyone else in Purespring for that matter, including Anji,” the Doctor answered.
“But they must be ready for their return in Purespring. You said that you already took care of the other half of the gang, it can’t be that much more difficult to take care of this part.”
The Doctor shook his head and answered, “I hope you’re right, Fitz.”
Cassidy quickly caught up with the group again but was unable to make her way to where they were holding Jap. What became even more worrying, was the closer they came to the town, the more difficult it was becoming for her to concentrate on keeping up her mental disguise.
It had been a tremendous strain on her to keep it up with just the gang, but now as her mind was reaching out, searching for those who were just on the edge of awareness, trying to convince them that she was not who she appeared to be, the stress was becoming too great. She had worried that this would happen and had hoped that she would have gotten Borris to Fitz and convinced the gang to leave the town alone before it became an issue.
But now she was going to have to put herself to the test. She had never held up a disguise for this long for this many people at once and her fears for what would happen not only to her but those she was trying to help were becoming oppressive.
Fitz and the Doctor managed to make it back to Rushwater before the drug wore off on Borris. Fitz carefully led them to the secret side entrance that he had witnessed Horus use before and they snuck the unconscious gang leader into the city under the cover of darkness by wheeling him in on Fitz’s bike.
Fitz left the Doctor with Borris while he went and informed Ratha of their success. While he was gone, the Doctor continued to examine the wound that Fitz had given the biker. It still baffled him and yet felt so very familiar. He was certain that there was something about this that he should be able to remember, but it continued to elude him.
It wasn’t long before an excited Ratha turned up and led them into the consulate and to the prisons below. They put Borris in one of the cells to sleep off the rest of the drug before they questioned him. In the meantime, Ratha brought Fritz and the Doctor back to his study.
“Well, I have to say that I am quite impressed,” Ratha told Fitz. “I really didn’t think that you were going to meet very much success. I even doubted that you would come back alive.”
“Fitz does have a tendency to surprise.” The Doctor said as he carefully sat down on one of the plush chairs in Ratha’s office.
Fitz flushed slightly before saying, “Well, I had help. We couldn’t have done any of it without Cassidy.”
“Hmm, so it would seem,” the Doctor muttered as he seemed to be lost in his thoughts again.
Ratha decided to change the subject at that point, “And you, Doctor, I’m sure you were a great help to the success of the mission. I have heard nothing but good things about you since Fitz and Cassidy arrived here.”
The Doctor looked up, “Well, I have my moments, but I’m afraid that I wasn’t much use for this operation other than a distraction. Which, I suppose is no small part,” he said with an ironic grin. “But my question to you, Ratha,” he continued. “Is, now that you have the Diablo leader, what do you plan to do with him?”
“First of all I would like to get some answers from him about what is going on around here. Fitz and Cassidy turned up some baffling bits of information. I want to know what is happening out there and who is behind all of it. Luckily, it would seem that Borris has those answers.”
“And how do you plan on getting those answers from him,” the Doctor asked.
Ratha sighed. “I hope that he will give them in exchange for leniency. I do not condone methods of torture and I hope that I will not have to resort to things as base as that.”
The Doctor nodded, “good man,” he said. “And what about sending help to Purespring? Surely you now have the proof you need to authorize that.”
“Unfortunately, I don’t. Not until I get information from Borris about who is behind all of this.”
The Doctor began to stand to put in his protest, but Ratha raised his hand and continued. “I know what you would say, but the problem still exists that I don’t know who I can trust. I alone cannot authorize the men to help with the situation; I must have consent from the Counsel. But we know already that at least the leader of the Counsel is behind this, we just don’t yet have the proof. And it is possible that there may be more involved than we already know.”
“But they need your help!” Fitz protested. “Cassidy certainly can’t do it all!”
“I agree with Fitz. I believe that you should go to the Counsel now with what information you have. Bring them together without Horus and present what you have, get him removed and then seek for the help that Purespring needs.”
“But I don’t really have any evidence and if I point a finger at Horrus then I’m likely to end up dead before they make any decision, particularly if another on the Counsel is working with him.”
The Doctor sat forward in his chair with his fingers pressed together in front of his lips. “There is nothing that can be done then to get aid out there?” he asked.
“No, not without more solid proof that we can confidently go to the Counsel with.”
The Doctor sighed before he sat back and said, “Then I guess we’re just going to have to help you gather that information quickly. I can see that there are still many unanswered questions here.”
“Doctor!” Fitz cried. “Anji and the rest of the town need our help, not to mention Cassidy. We can’t just sit around here.”
The Doctor shook his head, “They are all very capable of taking care of themselves now, Fitz. Anji and I showed the people of Purespring that they don’t have to live in fear and have helped to prepare them as best we can. They should be alright.”
“Then should we go and check on our prisoner?” Ratha asked as he stood up. “He should be mostly awake by now.”
The Doctor grabbed his crutch and used it to stand up. “Yes, let’s go,” he said with forced enthusiasm.
“You two go ahead, I’m going to catch a quick nap,” Fitz said with a barely suppressed yawn.
The Doctor smiled at him as he said, “Weren’t you about ready to go rushing off back to Purespring a second ago?”
“I was, and would if you said we were going to, but since we’re not, I might as well catch up on some much needed sleep before I am needed again.”
“Yes, you should rest Fitz,” the Doctor said. “We’ll tell you what we find out, if anything.”
Despite their secrecy, Fitz, the Doctor, and Ratha failed to notice a dark figure watching them from the shadows where they had brought Borris in. It didn’t move an inch until they were gone and then it followed after them, into the consulate.
“Are you certain?” the figure’s master asked as it finished its report.
The figure nodded.
“Borris has become a liability, but he may still have some uses. And this new man, he must be the Doctor that Borris spoke of.” The man stood silent for a moment before saying. “Bring me both Borris and this Doctor. I want them both alive, for now.”
The figure nodded again and quickly left.
Ratha and the Doctor went down to the prison cells and found Borris was awake now. “Hello Borris,” the Doctor greeted. “It seems that we are meeting again under reversed circumstances.”
Borris glared at the Doctor from behind the cell bars. “I’ll kill you yet,” he threatened.
“Possibly, but certainly not probable at the moment,” the Doctor said with a wave of his hand. “Right now we want information from you.”
“Yeah, well you’re certainly not going to get any.”
Ratha stepped forward and said, “Borris, you have been captured as a leader of a new gang, you know that you are facing the death sentence.”
The Doctor looked at Ratha, rather shocked, but held his tongue. Borris sneered back, “Only if you can prove it, and without my cooperation, you have no proof. Just the word of a few foreigners and that isn’t going to convince anyone. You haven’t even seen this so call gang.”
Ratha wasn’t sure what to do. The Doctor was about to take up the line of questioning when there was a sudden crash at the prison door entrance.
“Well, it seems that my pardon has just been handed down,” Borris said as the Doctor and Ratha turned to see what was happening behind them.
They watched as an arm that had smashed through the door reached around and unlocked the inside, shoving the door open. What appeared to be a man walked in, but his movements were jerky and robotic. As the Doctor looked closer, he could tell that the skin was made entirely out of plastic.
“What is that?” Ratha said as he backed up a step.
“I, don’t know,” the Doctor said but again, something about it seemed familiar.
Borris laughed as both men backed up a few more steps until they were against the bars of his cell. He reached through and grabbed the Doctor, pinning him.
As the Doctor struggled with the gang leader, Ratha pulled out his gun and began firing at the thing coming towards them. The bullets seemed to have no effect as it kept coming. It reached Ratha and brought its arm up and crashed it down on the man’s head, causing him to crumple in a heap on the floor.
Borris in the mean time had gotten a hold of the Doctor’s throat and was trying to strangle him again. The thing stood by and watched as the Doctor’s movements became weaker and weaker and finally he went limp. It was then that the thing pulled the Time Lord from Borris’s grip and laid him on the floor. Turning back he broke open the cell door.
“He’s not dead yet,” Borris growled as he examined the Doctor. “Why didn’t you let me kill him?”
“He is to be kept alive,” it replied.
“That’s all you Autons are good for, isn’t it? Following orders.”
“Come with me,” it said as it picked up the limp Doctor and left the prison leaving Borris to follow behind.
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Chapter 9: Chapter 9Chapter 9
The Diablos were just outside the town of Purespring when Cassidy was beginning to become desperate. She was feeling the strain of holding up her disguise and knew she had to get them to turn back now or she was going to break. Picking up the pace she caught up to the most likely candidate for being charge with Borris gone.
“Do you think we should do this without Borris?” she asked him as they continued to advance on the town.
“We have our orders. We can carry them out without him,” the man replied.
“But don’t you think that it would be better if we let him have his say? You know how he is. He’ll want to get his kicks in too.”
The man looked at her and shook his head. “We get this done now. We’ve spent enough time on this.”
They were just entering the town by now. “But shouldn’t we at least…” she began, but just then she felt something snap. The biker who was still looking at her saw her features shift from some nondescript fellow biker to the girl that they had been looking for and back again.
He suddenly slammed on his brakes and demanded, “What is this!”
Cassidy knew she had been busted and refused to stop. She barreled ahead of the others, allowing her weakening hold on her disguise to drop completely.
“Stop her!” the man screamed to the few that were still ahead of her. They looked back and saw a fellow biker suddenly become a woman. They drew closer together, preventing Cassidy from passing them. She swerved to try and avoid the bikers but she turned a little too tight, too fast, and tipped the bike over, sending her sprawling across the ground.
“Keep going, I’ll take care of her,” the biker she had been talking to told the others as he pulled up and stopped next to where Cassidy laid on the ground.
She was trying to roll over while ignoring the pain from the minor injuries that her fight with the ground got her. The biker leaned over and hauled her up by her hair saying, “I don’t know what you did, but you’re not going to be able to do it again.” He pulled a knife from his belt and displayed it before her.
Just then the air was filled with little balls of smoke. The attack from the town had begun and the smoke was quickly filling the air and blinding everyone. Cassidy struggled against her attacker in the gloom, trying to break his hold on her. But the best she was able to manage was to knock the knife from his hand.
Deciding that he didn’t really need the knife to kill her anyway, he grabbed a hold of her throat and slowly began to squeeze the life from her.
As much as she wanted to, Anji wasn’t going to get involved in this fight. She had found a house with a second story window at the very edge of town that she was going to watch from. She knew that she wasn’t in the best of shape to be out there fighting but she hoped that maybe she could help by being an eye in the sky.
The townspeople had set up another ambush just on the edge of town. It was planned much like the last, only they had had more time to prepare and they knew what to expect. They had spotted the dust cloud from an even further distance this time and they had been ready for several hours now, waiting for them.
As Anji was able to get a better look at the group coming, she could tell that they were larger then the last but she didn’t feel that they were going to be too much trouble. But what worried her is that she couldn’t make out the leader. Surly Borris should be with them. Anji shook her head, hoping this didn’t mean more trouble.
The group was almost in position now for the ambush when Anji saw a commotion near the front of the gang. One biker was trying to pass a few in front. The others moved to block him and the bike suddenly tipped over. As the dust cleared, Anji watched as another biker reached down and hauled the fallen on up by his/her hair.
Anji gasped as the injured biker suddenly wasn’t a biker anymore but Cassidy. The last sight that Anji had of them before the smoke bombs obscured her vision was the man pulling a knife on the girl who she once called a friend.
She didn’t know if she could trust this girl or not, but she was pretty sure that if the biker was trying to kill her, then she was probably still on their side. Running down the stairs, Anji took just a second to grab a cloth and douse it with a bit of water before heading outside in the direction that she had seen Cassidy and her attacker.
She ran towards where she thought the two should be with the cloth clamped over her mouth and nose, hearing sounds of the ambush around her. She knew it probably wasn’t all that smart to be out here where it would be difficult for anyone to tell if she was friend or foe, but she hadn’t thought about that until it was too late.
She practically ran into the man in all the smoke. She was just able to make out Cassidy as she clawed at the man’s hand that was firmly clamped around her throat. Not hesitating another moment, Anji rushed the man, coming up on him suddenly and delivering a solid kick to his groan and an elbow to the face as he doubled over.
He quickly let go of Cassidy as Anji caught her hand and began to lead her back to the house. She practically had to drag Cassidy as she choked on the air around her that her lungs were gasping at.
It wasn’t until they were both back inside the house with the door closed that Anji let go of Cassidy’s hand and looked back at her. “Now, tell me why I just did that. Because I’m not even sure who you are anymore.”
Cassidy sank to the floor, coughing for a moment before she was able to answer. “I’m sorry Anji, I didn’t mean any harm. It’s something my people do. I was able to tell your memories that you knew me. But I’m on your side. You can still trust me.”
Anji just looked at Cassidy, not sure what to think, “You’ve been messing around with my head?” she said.
Cassidy was beginning to lower her head to her hands as if she were in pain as she tried to shake her head. “I didn’t cause you any harm. I didn’t change anything or remove anything, just added a few memories that weren’t there before.”
By now her voice was becoming strained as breathy. Her hands were clutching at the side of her head.
“What’s wrong?” Anji asked as she knelt beside her.
“I was…was trying to,” she was beginning to gasp with pain now. “…To convince them to go away. I was in too many of their heads for too long.”
“What does that mean? What’s happening to you?” Anji watched as Cassidy’s hands began to shake.
Suddenly the girl lashed out at her, knocking her away as she yelled, “Phaze! My name is Phaze!” her face was a blur of rage for a moment but it quickly crumpled into one of fear and guilt.
“Anji, I’m sorry. Please, call me Phaze. I need to hear my real name again.”
Anji sat up and asked, “What was that?”
“I’m loosing myself. I need… I need…”
“What Phaze, what do you need?”
Phaze curled into a ball as she began to cry, “Help me. Get Jap, please.”
Anji reached down and touched Phaze on the cheek. That was the wrong move because she snapped again and bellowed at her, “Go! I don’t need you sympathy you bitch!”
Anji jumped up and quickly left to do as she had been asked when Cassidy, no, Phaze, was herself.
It wasn’t until she was outside that she realized that Jap wasn’t there. He had left with the Doctor. And then another thought hit her, if the bikers were here now, then it was possible that they had run into the Doctor and Jap on their way.
Quickly scanning the area, Anji looked for someone who might be able to help. Her heart suddenly went to her stomach as she looked across the street and saw Jap wrapping a bandage around another’s head. If Jap was there, then where was the Doctor?
Anji ran over to him, calling as she got closer, “Jap! What are you doing here? Where’s the Doctor?”
Jap looked up as he had just finished what he was doing and took a few steps to meet Anji. “As far as I know, Borris was taking him to whoever is really in charge of this lot. They brought me back with them.
Anji put her hand to her mouth as she contemplated what that could mean. Either the Doctor was getting himself in far more trouble or Borris had already killed him.
“Anji,” Jap said as he took her by the shoulders. “They want him alive. He’ll be alright.”
Anji nodded as she shook of her moment of panic. How many times had she seen the Doctor walk away from any number of dangerous and life threatening situations? For that matter, how many times had she seen him turn up after he was supposed to be dead?
“You’re right. But that’s not why I came to find you. It’s Cassidy, though I guess her real name is Phaze.”
“Cassidy, she’s here too?”
“Yes, I think she also came with the Diablos. She’s over there and something is happening to her. I think she is some type of telepath and she was trying to turn the Diablos away from the town. But something went wrong. She said she’s loosing herself and she would suddenly switch from a scared girl to a violent bitch.”
By now Jap was already heading the direction that Anji had come from as he listened. Anji caught up with him and led him to the right house. “I’m not sure what to do, but she told me to find you,” Anji concluded as she opened the door for Jap.
No sooner had Jap stepped inside then there was a scream and Phaze launched herself at him, trying to claw at his face. Jap calmly grabbed her at the wrists and held her away from him, allowing her to thrash ineffectually. “Phaze. Phaze calm down,” he said to her.
She thrash for a few moments before she suddenly looked up at him with fear again and said pleadingly, “Jap, help me.” She then promptly passed out.
Letting go of her wrists, Jap grabbed her and lifted her from the floor. “We should get her further away from the Diablos I think. My house should be good.”
Ajni nodded and followed him out and through town. They brought her to the medical room and laid her out on a bed. “Anji, would you go find some strong scarves? I think it would be best if we were to restrain her for now.”
Anji nodded and left the room. Jap busied himself for a moment making up a sedative for Phaze while Anji was gone.
When she returned, Jap helped her to secure Phaze to the bed. “Alright, there are still a lot of people out there that are going to need me and there isn’t much more that I can do for her,” Jap said.
“I’ll stay with her,” Anji said.
Jap smiled as he said, “I hoped you might.” He reached around and grabbed a syringe from the table beside them. “This is a sedative, give it to her as soon as she comes around. If she becomes violent again, you can give her another dose. But no more than that, alright?”
“Yes, I’ll watch over her. Don’t worry, Jap. You go and help the others.”
Patting her on the shoulder he said, “Good girl. I’ll be back soon.” He grabbed a few things and then headed out again.
Anji sighed as she sat down in the chair beside Phaze. Now that she wasn’t doing anything again, her mind began to wander to the questions and worries from before. Both Cassidy and Jap had returned, but Fitz and the Doctor hadn’t. She couldn’t help but worry about what kinds of trouble the two were getting themselves into.
“What do you mean, the Doctor’s missing!?” Fitz demanded as he jumped out of bed. Ratha had just woken him up and was slumped in a chair across from him, holding and ice pack to his head.
“I came to and that thing, Borris, and the Doctor were gone,” Ratha explained again.
“Great… Just great!” Fitz exclaimed as he began to pace his room. “We risk our lives to bring you the evidence that you need and then you go and lose both that and my friend! Now what are we going to do?”
Ratha sat forward as he said, “We find them. There has to be some way to track them. They must have left some trial, some clue, some lead. There has to be something!”
Fitz stopped his pacing before he replied, “I hope you’re right, because they may want the Doctor alive for now, but he has a tendency to make people angry pretty fast.”
Ratha sighed as he said, “I think I noticed that.”
The Doctor groggily came to in a dimly lit room. He found that his hands were tied behind him to the chair that he sat on. As his senses began to solidify again, he began to flex his hands to attempt to work his way out of his bindings.
Suddenly the room was flood with light, nearly blinding him, as a shadow stepped into the room. “I see you’re awake. Good.” A tall man said as he walked closer.
“Yes. Now could you be so kind as to tell me why I’ve been invited here? It’s not very good manners to leave your guest in the dark.”
The man chuckled as he asked, “Do you know who I am?”
“No, but I’m sure you’re about to tell me.”
“To the people of this world I am fairly well known as the Horus, the leader of the Grand Counsel. But since you are not from this world, that shouldn’t mean much to you.”
“And who told you I’m not from here? I may just have traveled from a long ways off.”
“Because you are known as the Doctor, are you not?” Horus said.
The Doctor smiled, “Only among friends. Well, a few enemies too. I supposed a few passing acquaintances call me that from time to time. So I guess, yes, I am.”
Horus smiled at him and said, “Then, supposing that you’re the Doctor we suspect you are, you will be brought before my master to answer for what you have done.”
“And what is it that I’m supposed to have done?”
Horus shook his head as he said, “I can’t believe that you haven’t figured out who we are yet. The stories say that you were always so intelligent.” He took a step back and signaled to someone outside the room. Two Autons stepped in and stood to either side of him. “Tell me Doctor, don’t these look familiar to you?”
The Doctor looked at them before saying, “I admit that there is a certain familiarity about them, but I’ve recently had some memory problems. A few things seem to have gotten lost up there in my head.”
“Well, that is unfortunate. My master won’t be very pleased to hear that when he punishes you, you won’t remember what it is that you’ve done.”
“Then perhaps it would be better to just let me go.”
“No, I don’t think so, Doctor,” Horus said. “Let me fill you in. On more than one occasion you have thwarted our kind’s attempts to take control of some lower life form or other. The Nestine has become more and more angry with you. It is because of your interference that we have come to this planet to experiment. But, perhaps with you taken care of once and for all, all of this will just have been a fairly useful, but unnecessary endeavor.”
“What are you researching? What are you doing here?”
Horus chose not to answer and waved to the two Autons. They walked up and grabbed a hold of the ropes that still bound the Doctor to the chair and snapped then effortlessly. Then, grabbing an arm each, they hauled him up and dragged him to the door. The Doctor wasn’t even given the option to walk for himself as they dragged him away.
Fitz and Ratha met a few minutes later in Ratha’s office to discuss the problem at hand.
“Alright,” Fitz said. “What do we know? What did this thing look like that attacked you?”
Ratha thought for a moment before answering. “It was mostly a man. At least it had all of the features of a man. But its movements were stiff and jerky. Its skin didn’t look quite natural either. There was almost a sheen to it and the features were fixed. It gave no expression.”
Fitz thought a moment. “Could be a robot of some kind, I suppose.”
“Yeah, a machine that is made to look and move like a man.”
“Why? Why make that? And who has the technology here to do that?”
“Well, if it’s something that is beyond you, then I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that we’re not the only aliens here on your planet. As for why, well you saw the evidence. It is harder to stop then a man and obviously a lot stronger.”
“But where does this get us?”
Fitz stood and began to pace. He obviously was beginning to pick up some of the Doctor’s habits. “Has there been any sudden advances in technology lately? Any thing that might point to these robots?”
Ratha thought. “No, there hasn’t been any machinery advances that I’ve heard of.”
“How about can you think of someplace that they might be able to be hiding? Someplace they could be working on these things?”
Ratha shook his head. “No, most of the city is pretty well supervised and if these things were coming and going, my guards would have been alerted.”
“That’s supposing that your guards are still your guards…” Fitz muttered but pressed on without waiting for a reply. “What about any new materials?”
“Yes, actually.” Ratha replied quickly and a little excited. “Plastics have recently been rediscovered and the processes of making them have practically sprung up over night. And now that I think about it, I think that the skin of that thing was plastic!”
“Now we’re getting somewhere!” Fitz said as he sat down again across from Ratha. “Now we just need to know where the plastic factory is.
“Factories.” Ratha frowned. “There are two.”
“Alright, sound perfect. You can go to one and I can go to the other.”
“It would be better if we go together.”
“Probably, but it would take more time. We’ve already wasted enough getting this far.”
Ratha tried to protest some more but Fitz wouldn’t hear it. Of course it wasn’t until Fitz sat by himself on a catwalk in one of the factories watching an army of those plastic robots swarm below him and a pair of them beating up the Doctor that he regretted his choice…
Jap returned very later that night to the house to check on Anji and Phaze. He found both girls sleeping. Anji was curled up in a chair and Phaze was twisting and muttering in her sleep on the bed. He walked over and lightly touched Anji on the shoulder.
She jumped but quickly over came her freight when she saw who it was. “Sorry, it’s been a little rough here,” she said to him.
“I’m sorry to have startled you. How has she been then?”
“We’ll at first she was alright when I gave her the first dose of sedative. She was actually able to explain a little more to me. But then she became violent again. It was very difficult tp watch. Kind of reminded me of Jekyl and Hide.”
“Never mind. It’s just an old story where I come from. But there is definitely two different people over there.”
“I think that it might be worse than that. If what she told you is true, then she was in all of the Diablo’s heads. She has taken bits and pieces of all of them.”
Anji nodded. “Yeah, when she’s violent, it’s not like she becomes someone else. She still keeps a bit of an idea of who she is, just takes on traits that the bikers display.”
“What did she tell you then?”
Anji shook her head, “Nothing good, I’m afraid. She said that this does happen to her people from time to time. But when it happens on her planet, it’s not so serious because another can help purge the residual traits from their mind. But here, there is no one who can help her.”
Jap sat down and thought about it. “Can’t you just bring her back to her people?”
“That’s what I asked,” Anji sighed. “But apparently her coming with us has made her an exile. Their highest law is not to interact with outsiders and especially let them know what they can do. By jumping in with us and then explaining about her abilities, if she returned home, they would execute her, and probably us for what we know now.”
Jap shook his head. “So best we can do is hope that it works itself out?”
Anji nodded before saying, “But she doesn’t think she can. It is getting worse rather than better.”
They sat silently for a while before Anji sighed again and said, “She asked me to do something for her…”
Jap looked up questioningly, but said nothing.
“She doesn’t want to loose herself completely. She wants us to end her life before that happens.”
Jap looked as Anji as she stared at Phaze for a while.
“And what did you tell her?” he asked softly.
“That it wouldn’t come to that,” she replied softy.
“Then it won’t.”
The Doctor was dragged onto a factory floor where all of the workers seemed to Autons. He was brought before a large vat that had a view window in the side. He could see as the gelatinous stuff inside swirled and swished inside on its own volition.
“What is this?” he asked.
“This is the Nestine consciousness,” Horus told him.
“Nestine consciousness…” the Doctor muttered. His memory was slowly niggling him. The name brought back a sudden memory of choking, but that quickly passed.
“But what is it?”
“That is our master, our leader, and our god. It is all those things and it is also us. We all have a portion of it in our minds, leading us, driving us, pushing us to better ourselves and to take power from those who don’t deserve it.”
“Rederic… What is it?”
“Living plastic, Doctor,” a voice echoed in the room.
“That’s better. I would rather talk to the one in charge then through their lacky,” the Doctor said to the vat in front of him.
“You know who and what we are, Doctor. What do you play dumb?”
“My lord,” Horus spoke up. “He has suffered some kind of amnesia it would seem.”
“Lies!” the Consciousness growled. “He is devious. I don’t know what he hopes to gain by this, but he knows much more than he’s letting on.”
“For once I’m not,” the Doctor replied.
The Auton to his right turned and knocked him hard in the back, sending him sprawling to the floor. “You will stop your lies, Doctor. I know you.”
“Well, that makes one of us!” the Doctor snapped back as he half raised himself form the floor. “Because I still have no idea who I am! What I’ve done in the past and who I’ve done it to!” he spat.
The Auton kicked him in his side, sending him a few feet to the left. The Doctor curled up on his side, holding where he was just hit. He was looking slightly up when he saw a bit of movement on a catwalk just overhead. He blinked and realized that he had just caught a glimpse of Fitz’s leather Jacket.
“Alright,” he said as he sat up painfully. “You’re right. I know all about you. I know that you’re living plastic and I know that you are a gestalt entity that has gone around the galaxy attempting to enslave other races and that I have been a main reason why you can’t accomplish that goal!”
By now he had gotten himself to a stand and was walking towards the Consciousness. “I also know that there is one thing that plastic should fear above others and that’s fire!” the Consciousness roared with the comment, shaking the building.
“Fire is our enemy, but there is none of that here. You can do nothing, Doctor.”
“Yes,” the Doctor said. “If only I had a lighter in my pocket, but sadly, I don’t smoke.”
He turned around and seemed to be talking to the air above him as he said. “I wish that I did know someone who always kept a lighter in his pocket. There’s enough accelerant in plastic to cause quite a bon fire if only someone had a light!”
Horus began to laugh at the Doctor as he said, “But no one does. So now what are you going to do?”
Suddenly there was the tell tale sound of metal against metal as a lighter flipped open. Fitz had maneuvered to be right above the Nestine Consciousness before igniting his zippo. Doctor and Horus watched as a small flame fell from above and fell directly in the vat.
The room began to shake with screams from the Consciousness while the Autons all began to crumple to the floor. Horus began to scream as he grabbed his head in pain.
“Fitz! Get out of hear!” the Doctor yelled. “This whole place is about to go up in flames!”
Fitz was already running across the catwalk to an exit as a wall of flame erupted from the vat to where he had just been standing.
He dove through the exit and raced down the metal stares to the ground floor. As he came out the door, he had to remind himself that he really shouldn’t be surprised that the Doctor managed to get himself in trouble again in the few seconds that he was out of Fitz’s sight.
Horus and the Doctor were struggling with each other. Horus had a gun and was trying to bring it level with the Doctor. It was all the Doctor could do to keep the weapon aimed at the ceiling. All the while bits and pieces of the factory were falling apart and crashing to the floor around them. The fire was spreading rapidly as Auton after Auton began to erupt in flames.
The Doctor caught sight of Fitz across the room as he hesitated. “Fitz! I told you to get out of here!”
Fitz shook his head and began running towards them. He ran up behind Horus and knocked the man to the ground. The Doctor kicked the gun that had fallen out of the way.
“I told you to leave,” he told Fitz as he punched Horus in the face, knocking him out.
He stood up and said to the Doctor, “You’re welcome.”
“I do appreciate the help, Fitz, but now how are we supposed to get out?”
Fitz looked around the room. All the exits were behind walls of fire. “Well, any ideas, Doctor?”
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Chapter 10: Chapter 10
Author's Notes: Finally, it's done. Thanks everyone who stuck with me and keep an eye out for the sequel.
Ratha stalked outside of the factory, wondering how he was supposed to get in. There didn’t seem to be any obvious guards here, but he could make out figures just inside the doors through the windows and, now that he knew what to look for, they weren’t the form of a typical human. Having seen what one of these robots could do, he wasn’t very interested in meeting them up close again and by himself.
And so he patrolled around, looking for a different way in that didn’t have a robot hiding behind the door.
He was just about to give up when there was a commotion inside. There were sounds of equipment breaking and grinding to a halt as the nearest door swung open. A robot staggered out, moving even more jauntily and stiffly than what he had witnessed before. It staggered a few feet in an erratic path before it slowly collapsed to the ground. There it twitched for a moment and finally became still.
Cautiously, Ratha approached the robot. It remained still and inert as he tapped it with his toe. Feeling emboldened, Ratha went to the door that was still partially open and looked inside. He saw several of those things already inert on the ground and a few others either twitching their last or quickly heading that way.
Whatever had been powering the machinery also seemed to be dying as Ratha watched sparks fly form gears grinding to a halt and bits of metal falling here and there.
Several of the sparks landed on the robots and began to smolder. Ratha realized that if he didn’t contact the fire patrol quickly, this whole building was going to go up in flames. He turned tail and ran from the building, heading for the nearest com-link.
Anji and Jap were still sitting with Phaze when Toller came in quickly. “Jap, I don’t know what’s going on but all of the Diablos that we caught the first time are coming down with something.
Jap quickly got up as he demanded to know the symptoms while putting together a bag of supplies.
“They’ve all got a fever and the sweats as well as tremors and a few of them are becoming delusional.”
Jap nodded to each new symptom as he grabbed things from his shelves.
Anji spoke up and asked, “Couldn’t they just be faking? They are criminals and they probably want to escape.”
Toller shook his head. “No, they really are sick. I’ve looked at them myself.”
Jap nodded. “Yes, it doesn’t sound like something that can be faked, though I’m not sure what it could be.”
“Do you want my help?” Anji asked, getting up.
“No,” Jap said as he made for the door. “You stay here and watch after Phaze again. Toller will be plenty of help.”
Anji nodded and said, “Just send for me if you need me.”
“Thanks, Anji,” Toller said as he followed Jap out.
“You’d think that a fire department would show up pretty soon,” Fitz said as he and the Doctor tried to find a way through the flames. The room was becoming a literal inferno and increasingly more and more difficult to breath.
Fitz began to choke on the burning, caustic air. “We have to keep low to the ground,” the Doctor said as he pulled Fitz into a crouch with him, he was beginning cough as well.
Suddenly the Doctor stopped moving and pulled Fitz to a halt as well.
“What?” Fitz asked.
“Do you hear that?” the Doctor said as he turned his head.
“I can’t hear much over the fire, Doctor.”
“There’s someone else in here, yelling for help,” he replied as he began heading the direction that he heard the cries from.
Not having much other option, Fitz followed the Doctor. As they neared what appeared to be a wall, Fitz could hear what had caught the Doctor’s attention. There was a man shouting and knocking from the other side of the wall.
“Can you hear me?” the Doctor shouted back.
“Yes! Let me out of hear!” the man yelled back.
“Where’s the entrance?” the Doctor asked as he began to run his hands over the wall.
“There’s a hidden panel just to the lower right. Flip it up and press the switch.”
The Doctor found it and did as he was told. A door shaped panel in the wall swung out towards them and a man stumbled out.
“You!” the man said as Fitz tried to pull the Doctor away from him.
“Borris!” Fitz exclaimed.
“Look, I’d love to reminisce about our past experiences, but I don’t think now is the time,” the Doctor said.
Fitz and Borris glared at each other before Borris reluctantly turned to the Doctor. “For freeing me, I’ll show you another way out of here,” he said shortly and quickly headed towards another wall. As they reached it, they watched him flip up another hidden panel and press a button, revealing a door to a dark hallway that sloped downward.
“This will take us directly to the Consulate,” Borris said. Hurriedly, they all made a break for it out of the firestorm and down the tunnel.
As the door closed behind them, the Doctor pulled a torch from his pocket and turned it on, lighting up a small section of the passage.
“The power must be out,” Borris said. “Normally the lights come on automatically.”
“Well I suggest that we get moving, that door might burn down anytime and send a nasty heat wave our way,” the Doctor said, leading the way down the tunnel.
They hadn’t gone very far before the Doctor began to ask questions. “Why were you in that room without anyway out from the inside anyways?”
Borris growled as he replied, “They decided that I failed too many times and were trying a new experiment on me.”
“Yes, Horus mentioned that they were experimenting, but what was the experiment?”
Borris snorted before saying, “At first we just thought that it was on the townspeople. But apparently it was a two-fold experiment that included my gang as well. Though I’m surprised that I didn’t see it before.”
“See what?” the Doctor asked.
“The Nestine is a race that enslaves others and so they are always looking for a more efficient means of controlling their slaves. I guess our planet has some mineral in the water that they wanted to experiment with.”
“A mineral, what kind of mineral?” Fitz asked.
“Hell if I know. All I know is that they think it is the reason that Ghont has so much life for so little water.”
“Hmm,” the Doctor mused. “Some kind of protein or stimulant than.”
“Yeah, stimulant is what they called it. Any ways, they said that it was because of this in the water that the people could even survive with less water than they believed. That’s why they wanted the Diablo’s help… at least that’s what they told us. We were supposed to keep the town of Purespring isolated and prevent any of them from leaving while we slowly dwindled their water supply.”
“They were trying to see how little they could survive on,” The Doctor said with barley-suppressed anger. “They were going to push the town to the brink of death, just to see what would happen. And you were helping them,” he turned sharply and shoved a finger into Borris’s chest.
The gang leader seemed unimpressed as he just glared back at the Doctor. Finally the Doctor sighed and turned back, leading them again. “But getting angry at you won’t change anything. You probably don’t even realize what you did was wrong… But you said that the experiment was two fold, what was the other part?”
“It was supposed to have been our payment, but was really their means of control over us,” Borris grumbled. “They had refined the mineral and distilled it down into a drug that they offered to us. It had the effect of making us stronger, faster, and gave us more endurance. But what they didn’t mention when they first gave it to us was we would become dependant on it.”
“So they had their perfect little soldiers who wouldn’t dare refuse orders for fear of missing their next fix.” Fitz summed up.
“So what was the new experiment with locking you up?” Fitz asked.
“Well they hadn’t yet allowed any of us to completely detox. They wanted to know if the levels they were giving us would become lethal without fresh supply.”
“And of course they would want to make sure that it was, because then they would have an even greater hold over you,” the Doctor said. By now the tunnel was beginning to curve upwards again.
“Yeah,” Borris said.
“So they locked you up to see if you would live or die when you began to come down? Some friends you had,” Fitz sneered.
“They weren’t my friends. They gave me power that I was unable to get without them. Unfortunately I didn’t read the fine print.”
“And now you’re facing a death sentence because of them,” the Doctor said as he stopped at the end of the tunnel. They stood just outside of a door that presumably lead to the consulate.
“Borris, I’m going to offer you a bargain,” the Doctor said. “Give yourself up, tell the Counsel everything, and I will convince Ratha to spare your life and the lives of your gang, provided that you all survive detoxing.”
“And why should I do that?”
“Because your friends in high places have all been eliminated. You don’t really have any other option.”
Borris glared at the Doctor again for a moment before he said, “I guess it doesn’t really matter. We’re all going to die form that drug anyways. I might as well make sure that the few who had a part in this that are left are brought down.”
“There are more?” Fitz asked.
“Of course there are, Fitz,” the Doctor answered. “There would have to be quite a few people that were involved in keeping something like this a secret. And you know who they all are?” he asked Borris.
The biker nodded. “I at least was smart enough to know who was working for who in this deal.”
“Good. Then let's go find Ratha.” With that, the Doctor turned and opened the door, leading them just outside the entrance to the prison cells from where he had been abducted.
“Well, that was convenient,” he said before heading upstairs. Fitz and Borris followed him.
It wasn’t until early morning that Anji was awaken again by Jap coming back. “Is everything alright?” she asked him.
He sat down wearily in a chair beside her and said, “As much as it can be. Turns out that they are going through withdraw. They’ve all been on some type of drug and it took this long for it to begin to work its way out of their system. There’s not really much that I can do for them.”
“Will they be alright?” Anji asked.
“I can’t be sure. But I think that the majority of them are already passed the worst of it. But a few are a little worse than others. Best I can do is keep them as comfortable as possible and treat the symptoms while the drug works its way out.”
Anji nodded. They sat in silence for a little while before Jap asked, “Any change with Phaze?”
Anji shook her head as she said, “She woke up once, screaming as she tried to tear herself from the bed. Scratched me pretty good when I tried to get her to calm down.” Anji held up her self-bandaged arm as evidence. “But she quickly passed out again and hasn’t woken since. She still mummers and thrashes in her sleep though. I think that she is still getting worse.”
Jap got up to examine Anji’s scratches. When he finished he nodded and said, “You did a good job with them. As for Phaze, I guess we can only wait and hope, just like with the men. I supposed she’s going through her own type of detox as her mind tries to purge the foreign thoughts from itself.”
Anji shook her head and said, “I only wish that I was as confident about her chances as you are for those bikers.”
Ratha arrived back at his office some time later after helping to direct the fire patrol. It turns out that while he had them keeping that building from burning down, the other factory that he had sent Fitz to did. There was no sign of Fitz, or the Doctor in either case. There was just one body that was found at the other fire and it was burned too badly to be recognized. Ratha just hoped that it wasn’t Fitz. Afterall, that building may not have burnt down if he hadn’t pulled all of the fire patrol to his building.
He entered his office wearily, expecting to just fill out a little paper work before finding his room to sleep off his fatigue. He had search parties out looking for Fitz and the Doctor and there wasn’t much else that he could do.
As soon as he walked into his office though, he was wide-awake. There, sitting in his chair was the Doctor and sitting across from him was Borris. Fitz was lurking in the corner.
“Ok, I think I should be surprised,” Ratha said as he walked in. “But somehow nothing with you two surprise me anymore. How did you get in here? And why is he here?” Ratha asked indicating Borris.
“We came in by a back way, which you’ll probably want to close up considering it goes right to your prison below here,” the Doctor said. “As for him, he’s going to confess.”
“Might I ask why the change in heart?”
“The Doctor tells me that you’ll let me and my men live if I do. Not that it matters much. But mostly because there are a few that I want to bring down with me now that it’s all over.”
“What’s he talking about?” Ratha asked the Doctor.
“He means that the people and aliens that were in charge of the conspiracy that you have been suspecting have been dealt with,” the Doctor replied.
“The fire?” Ratha asked.
“Yes. We took out the control force behind it all. Now there are just a few small fries to dig out and expose and you can get back to the way things were.”
“Horus?” Ratha asked.
The Doctor nodded as Fitz said, “He’s toast… literally. He probably was still in the building when it went up in smoke.”
Ratha nodded. “Yes, we found a body there. I feared that it was one of you.”
“Well, luckily the reports of my death, as usual, have been greatly exaggerated,” the Doctor said with a smile.
“So you’re sure I can’t persuade you to stay another few days and help with all of these reports?” Ratha asked as the Doctor and Fitz prepared to leave the next day with a portion of the militia to bring to Purespring.
The Doctor shook his head. “No, we have friends back there and, hopefully, we are all going to be able to get back to my ship and leave. Our little picnic turned into a lot more interesting trip than I had planned.”
“Usually does,” Fitz muttered.
The Doctor turned to him and gave a wink as he got on his bike. “We’ll be off then,” he said to Ratha. “Good luck with wrapping up your investigations.”
“Thank you, Doctor. And take care.”
Two days later they rolled into Purespring with far more people than was needed apparently.
The first half of the bikers had recovered from their withdraw and the other half were just starting it. The militia took them all into custody, taking the first half back to Rushwater then and bringing the other half after they finished with their own detox.
After it was all straitened out and stories explained, Anji met the Doctor. “Doctor. There is one problem,” she told him as she led him to Jap’s house and into the back room while she explained. “Phaze, Cassidy that is, Phaze is her real name, is very sick.”
“What happened?” the Doctor asked as he saw a very pale and wane girl lying stilly on the cot, still strapped in place.
“She said before she fell into a coma two days ago that she had pushed herself too far. She had what she called a bleeding over effect from all of the bikers that she was manipulating.”
“Bits and pieces of them stuck in her and began taking over,” he summed up.
“That’s what we think, yes,” Anji said.
“And there’s nothing we can do?” the Doctor said as he picked up on of Phaze’s hands. It was could and lifeless.
Anji shook her head. “She said the only cure is for one of her people to help her purge the other minds. But if she goes back there, they’ll kill her.”
The Doctor studied Phaze’s face for a while before he said almost to himself, “I wonder…”
He reached down and placed a hand over her forehead. “If this doesn’t work,” he said distantly to Anji. “Get us both back to the TARDIS. But this might take a while.”
Anji was about to ask what he was going to do, but his eyes closed and he seemed to be concentrating intensely. She didn’t want to mess up whatever it was he was trying to do.
And so she sat and waited. Fitz came in and asked what was going on. “He’s trying to save her, I think,” Anji replied.
Fitz took a seat beside her and waited too. Jap also joined them and kept them supplied with hot tea and snacks. The day faded to evening and then into night before the Doctor stirred.
He suddenly heaved a sigh that caught all of their attention as he sat up and took his hand from Phaze’s head.
He looked drained, but none the worse for wear as he turned and smiled at them. “Did you do it then?” Anji asked.
He nodded, “Yes, I think so. It was surprisingly easy to connect with her mind. She is far more compatible with me than any one else I’ve met.”
“That might have something to do with the fact she has already been inside your head,” Fitz said.
“That might be true,” the Doctor admitted.
“But she’s better now?” Anji asked.
“Yes, she’s sleeping naturally now. I think that I was able to show her what was her and what wasn’t and together we purged the others form her mind.”
“Wonderful,” Jap said as he stood up. “Now, I suggest that we all get some rest. It’s been a very trying couple of weeks and I’ve still got to help with the work on the spring in the morning.”
“You think that you can reverse the damage that they did to it?” Anji asked.
“It shouldn’t be too difficult, just a bit of manual labor,” the Doctor assured them.
“How about sticking around and lending a hand?” Jap said.
“No, I think that we’re going to leave in the morning. We’ve spent far more time here than I intended,” the Doctor said.
“I understand,” Jap said. “Well good night.”
Another day later all four of them stood together outside the TARDIS. “It looks just like it did when we arrived,” Anji said.
“It’s hard to believe that so much has happened since then and how much change we’ve made here,” Phaze admitted.
“You’ll get used to it,” Fitz replied.
Phaze glanced at him and then at the Doctor. “You’re going to let me stay?” she asked with barely contained excitement.
“Well, from what you say, I can’t exactly bring you home and I’m not about to strand you in the middle of the desert,” the Doctor said with a smile as he unlocked the TARDIS.
“That’s his way of saying, welcome on board,” Fitz said as he wrapped his arm around her shoulders and brought her inside following behind Anji and the Doctor.
There was no one around in the desert as the trumpeting sound of a TARDIS dematerializing sounded in the canyon, leaving the desert in silence once again.
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