The Ransomed Brain by Agama Stone Hera



Summary: A cybercrime syndicate installs ransomware in Astraea's Neuralink chip. To regain control of her memories, she must betray her home Network. Will the Doctor come to her aid or will she be forced to betray herself?
Rating: All Ages
Categories: Other Doctors, Other Era, Multi-Era
Characters: The Doctor (Author-Created), The Doctor (Author-Created), The Doctor (Other), The Doctor (Other), The Doctor (Unspecified), The Doctor (Unspecified), The Great Intelligence, The TARDIS, The TARDIS, The TARDIS, The Time Lords, The Time Lords, The Time Lords
Genres: Action/Adventure, Alternate Universe
Warnings: Swearing
Challenges: None
Series: None
Published: 2021.11.15
Updated: 2022.01.16


Index

Chapter 1: The Ransom
Chapter 2: 1 - The Beginning of All Beginnings
Chapter 3: 1.1
Chapter 4: 1.2
Chapter 5: 1.3
Chapter 6: 1.4
Chapter 7: The Doctor’s Song
Chapter 8: Diamonds Go Boom
Chapter 9: The Ice Mermaid
Chapter 10: Wolf Boy
Chapter 11: An Appointment With the Doctor
Chapter 12: The Eye
Chapter 13: The Horizon


Chapter 1: The Ransom

_Transmission #23459879 initiated:_

Dear Astraea

You are receiving this transmission because the chip in your Neuralink was successfully hacked.

We have access to your brain matter and have encrypted your personal data.
At the moment, your main consciousness still has access to core memory stored in your organic disk tapes. However, we are only allowing you access as a courtesy and out of necessity.

If you do not comply with our demands, you will be denied all access to your personal data permanently. However, as we see value in your memories (despite the fact you are but a foolish woman), we will retain this data for future usage.

Here is the demand:

1. Log into The Wu Network, using your personal account credentials.
2. Use protocol WUVA2.0 to teleport your organic mass into the traffic flowing towards South East Movement.
3. Install the attached malware agent (BEWARE: do not attempt communication with the agent, it comes with a built-in self-destruct mechanism).
4. Log out and await further instructions.

Sincerely,
The Scribes of Heaven

_Transmission #23459879 ends_

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Chapter 2: 1 - The Beginning of All Beginnings

1…

Heroes are never born - they are made.

And heroines?

Are they even one and the same?

…ON:


Histemina was enjoying a boringly regular evening at home - she was reclined on the sofa while her Teslabot was doing her nails - when the demand landed in her Brainbox. She ignored it, of course, as she did all unidentified incoming transmissions. It made no sense to filter transmissions manually when her Neuralink came with a built-in spam and malware scanner. She shook her head and let the tech do the work. Her cat, Mauritius, jumped onto the sofa and landed gracefully next to her feet. He purred and settled in to watch the Teslabot working. It was a marvel - watching the cat curiously watching the robot. The cat barely blinked. The robot never did. At first, when she brought Teslabot home, it instantly became Jerry to her Tom. Ten years later, their fighting subsided into staring matches. They were too old and frayed to play fighting games nowadays.

“Do you think it’s time to replace our old Jerry?” she asked the cat. Tom never answered. He kept on blinking until Jerry finished painting her nails bright pink, adding a coat of sprinkles and several layers of transparent polish. Lastly, a water lily was added. Tom kept on watching Jerry working. Histemina let her eyes close and fell asleep.

Fifteen minutes later she was awoken by the mewls of her cat. He was locked inside a box. She made to go help him, but Jerry got to him first, lifting the box and revealing the cat. Tom bolted outside, jumped at the sofa, and huddled on her lap. He looked at Jerry, making purring sounds she imagined expressed gratitude. Several minutes later, lulled by the vibrations and heat of the purring cat, she fell asleep again.

Fourteen minutes later she was awoken yet again by the mewls of her cat. Teslabot helped save him. Thirteen minutes later her cat woke her up. Twelve minutes later her cat. Eleven minuets. Ten. Nine. Eight. Seven. Six. Five. Four. Three. Two.

One minute later. Zero. One. Zero. One. Zero.

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Chapter 3: 1.1

She opened her eyes and stared at the television. It was an old screen, practically ancient, but it was all she could afford.

“It was year 2012 of the Lord when the Fissure came into being, but it was only in 2020 that it was officially discovered,” the reporter was saying.

She blinked. The Fissure was old news. She couldn't quite figure out why it was making the news. She blinked to focus her vision on the name of the channel. She commanded her irises to expand and magnify her vision. The Neuralink in her brain not only enabled her to see but also extended her vision far beyond what was humanly possible. Sometimes it helped her safely cross the street. This time, it helped orient her in time - she was watching the history channel.

She shuffled off the sofa and manually turned off the TV. She had lost the remote some years ago and since the ancient tech did not have Neuralink integration, she could not command it with her brain. She rather liked using her brain to issue commands. Especially those directed at her Jerry bot. Her Jerry could do absolutely everything - from cleaning the apartment to making home-cooked meals, painting her nails, and massaging her neck. It was perfect, and it was love from the first unboxing.

She stretched her cramped muscles, letting the old bones move. A correction popped into her brain, suggesting to replace the word “old” with “not new”. The Positve Mindset Filter she had installed yesterday was supposed to help her detect negative thought patterns and correct them. However, she was not quite impressed with the filter’s suggestions. Thirty-four-year-old bones were not “not new”, they were practically ancient in terms of Enhanced Living. Alas, as she was a 34-year-old broke student, she could not afford to look as young as her true 20-year-old alumni or as refurbished as others in her age group.

On second thought, she replugged the TV. Better not let her mind overexert itself over nothing. She shuffled back to the sofa and settled in front of the TV. Twenty hours later, the TV show she binged ended and her brain clicked back into real life. She looked for Tom and Jerry but they were nowhere to be seen. She shuffled back to the sofa and started sifting through the transmissions qued in her Brainbox. She found the demand between an ad for ecological female hygiene products and a note from the university saying her latest tuition eCheck bounced back.

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Chapter 4: 1.2

Dear Histemina

We are happy to inform you of the latest addition to our Green Red line of products. Pinky promise - it will make your eggs feel so comfortable resting in your womb that they will want to order a Margarita.

Interested? We know you want it! For your convenience, we’re adding an eVoucher for bulk purchases - BUY 10 Greed Red for single eggs and get 1 FREE margarita recipe you can use to make your own homemade cocktail using your own ingredients that you can buy at any of our partner eShops.

Remember that Green Living means Earth Living. We all share one Earth and we should all work together to make it a habitable place for all.

Yours Sincerely
Green Red Team

**you should know that our partner eShops and factories are not eco-friendly but even though the supply chain is not entirely eco we are committed to finding solutions by 3035. Learn more in greenred.earth.gov

.....
RE: promo
Transmit to: allrandomfemalesaged12-79
Time: circa 2033

We are soooooooo sorry for the typo!!!! It’s Green Red, of course. GreeN Red. With an N!!

Best
The Greed Red Team

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Chapter 5: 1.3

As she approached the money forest, heart beating wildly, palms sweaty, she reminded herself that Tom was the light of her life. His life was well worth committing a petty crime. Very petty. Petite.

“Hello, Guardian Histemina. How are you faring on this lovely afternoon?” The guard asked. Today he was wearing a square jaw with a five o’clock shadow, a small nose, high cheekbones, a full mouth, and a blond military-style haircut. It was a Teslabot, one of the latest models that could change its face in the blink of an eye. It could also detect lies and had the authority to respond to threats.

She was not quite sure what the authority to respond granted him, but she didn’t dare risk it and lie. “Hello, T-Guard. New face?”

“You like?” The robot smiled, revealing a mouthful of big white teeth.

She was not quite sure whether to admire or fear him. She settled on both. “Definitely like.” That was true enough. So she lifted her thumb in front of his face. According to the screen on his chest, hers was the 13th like today. “Busy day eh?”

“Yes, but that was expected.”

“Of course, you are always prepared, never caught off guard.”

“Go on then,” the robot pointed at the entrance and smiles. “You’ll be late for sunset.” Behind him was a spread of seemingly endless trees of various kinds and types. Each tree represented a coin, somebody’s coin, somebody’s wealth, somebody’s source of income, somebody’s source of envy or even hate.

When she first started working at the money forest, that job seemed normal enough. Each sunset looked the same, and all she had to do was stand guard next to a tree or several. She could hardly believe she was about to harm these trees, but she didn’t know them and Tom was practically family. “Looks like it's setting earlier today.”

“As expected.” The robot smiled and moved aside, letting her go through the gate and enter the money forest.

“How can you know that in advance?”

“The science of prediction applied to the science of planet Earth.” He smiled.

“So, you’re an Oracle?”

“The database?”

“A seer. Magician. Divination,” she clarified.

“I’m not familiar with those words,” the robot said.

“Now you do.” She released a genuine smile, the first one that day. It quickly fell when she realized the tip of the sun was kissing the horizon. “You’re right, I am going to be late,” she squeaked and bolted into the money forest. She had a heist to facilitate in return for the freedom of three birds, a robot, and her Tom cat.

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Chapter 6: 1.4

At the end of the tunnel, fire fought with water. I was 19 years old. Alone. Boiling water shot at my feet, scalding my ankles, climbing up to my shins, my knees, my thighs. On the other side of the tunnel stood a door - the one I previously saw as my salvation, the door that had helped me escape. There was no going back for me. I had no other way than forward, into the fire. I ripped the silver chain off my necklace, removed the star-shaped locket, and opened the secret compartment. Inside was a pill. Magicked by scientists, sold at the Freemason market for the highest bid. I stole it from a thief. Now it was going to help me get through this ordeal. I popped the pill into my mouth and swallowed it quickly. It had an immediate effect. I no longer felt the scalding water. I no longer felt anything at all. I walked through the boiling water as they leveled up to my waist, my chest, my throat, and felt no pain. I looked at the vortex of fire and water and leaped inside. Red and blue swallowed me whole and I felt nothing. I spent some time inside the vortex, it was a mesmerizing experience of colors and uncontrollable movements. I waited patiently and eventually the vortex spat me out. I landed on the shore, on fine-grained sand. Moving on my own was strange. My skin peeled off, some of my flesh too, I was a mess. A person saw me and screamed. I walled away. I walked without a purpose and that in itself made me feel free. I walked until my legs gave out, right beneath the shade of an old tree. I reached my arms out and hugged it. I shared my story with the tree, said goodbye, and went to sleep. When I woke up, I was told I could only ever live alongside this tree, never leaving the boundaries of the money forest. There was no other alternative for trespassing, you could only go in but never out.

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Chapter 7: The Doctor’s Song

“All the lives I have lived, I’m saving them for you. The password? You’ll never know. But here take this encryption key and give it a try - your best attempt. I’ll know if you won’t. Come on, come on closer. Don’t you want to give it a try? I know you do. I know. I, I know. You. Know. You. Know. You. Do.”

The record ground to a halt, screeching out the last word, for the last time, but the needle kept on scratching. The needle dug itself into the black vinyl, making a hole through which it could pass. The needle started digging into the plastic. It kept digging down, down with no particular purpose. It just kept going. It was programmed this way.

“Well, hello there. What have we here?” the Doctor fiddled with the record, gently lifting it. “You poor thing. Who did this to you, eh?” The Doctor listened as the record shared its story. “I see. No, I can’t fix your player, I’m afraid. But cheer up, my friend, I know someone who can. Shall we go?” The record agreed and the Doctor cheered, “Excellent!”

The Doctor looked around the room but her TARDIS seemed to have disappeared. “Quite a conundrum, indeed. A mystery.” She liked mysteries. Didn’t mind them one bit. “Oh, you know the culprit?” The Doctor asked in response to the record’s claim.

“The same one who did this to you? More than one? Hmm. Now that’s a tricky situation, even sticky. But I’ve gotten past quite worse. Oh, don’t underestimate my old age. I may be old, but I am quite in shape.” That was the moment in which the Doctor’s old injury decided to act up.

The record did not miss the sound, as it was programmed to pick up on the finest of tunes. “Why don’t you play us a sweet bitty while I get a hold of this old bone of mine? It’s the rain, you see - old bones, plus cold wet weather, do not work well together. Ooh, I like this one.”

The record played Come Together by The Beatles. The Doctor hummed and gently moved her muscles, letting the movements she called dancing warm her body. When she felt confident enough in her ability to move, she started really dancing. This dance was much more dangerous than her usual. There were needles on the floor. Thousands of them, looking for a solid surface to grind.

She didn’t blame the players. They were programmed to play by scratching at a moving surface. As long as there was a moving surface, the needles would scratch. It was rather unfortunate that the Doctor needed to move to get past the needles. “What music do you think we’ll hear if they start scratching at me?” she asked the record. The record emitted a screeching yowl.

“Yeah, you’re right. That’s a tune we ought never to see get heard. Well then, what do you say we’d get out of here? I think I’m as warmed up as I’ll ever be.” And the Doctor started dancing, walking stick in one hand and the record in the other. She jumped and hopped and even somersaulted once trying to avoid the mass of needles trying to scratch her song out of her.

A black ball of fluff zipped and zapped alongside the Doctor, accompanying her. The record asked if they were friends and the Doctor resolutely answered, “Friends, no.” She was huffing and puffing and sweating. “Do not betray one another.” The gray cat proved her right when it slammed into the Doctor’s bad knee.

The Doctor toppled to the floor. The cat kept on running and the needles followed. “Oh,” the Doctor said as the mass of needles continued after the cat, clearing out of the room. “Help from that one. Suppose hell froze over. Or my help is needed. Anywho, better get up before they come back eh?”

The Doctor lifted her cricking bones off the floor, leaning heavily on the walking stick. An explosive boom rattled the room. “Looks like the cat got rid of the problem.” She was grateful, but also resentful. That cat made her feel terribly old. “I could have managed on my own,” she told the record.

The record snorted.

“Well, I could,” the Doctor said lamely. The familiar woosh of the TARDIS preceded the arrival of her oldest and dearest companion, but also the least reliable one. “Safe enough to come back now eh?” The Doctor shook her head. “Suppose we’re both getting too old for this gig.”

The TARDIS sputtered to a halt. She stood in the middle of the room, unperturbed by the insults. The door opened. The Doctor walked in. And the door slammed on her butt. “Well, we’re both old and you know it.” The Doctor wagged her finger. “But we’re still super duper sexy. Am I right or am I right?”

The record snorted.

“Time to fix you up, my old friend.” The Doctor opened a nook in the wall and sifted inside. “Now where did I put that thingy? You know,” she told the TARDIS, “that thingy from that time when we had that mess in that planet and everyone tried to kill me and steal you? Yeah, hmm, suppose that happened quite too many times but ooohhh found it!”

The Doctor pulled out a rope and kept on pulling for a few long minutes until the other end came out. “There you are.” The Doctor smiled at the tiny police box. “My mini TARDIS. Most useful object ever invented. Excluding your big counterpart, of course. Anywho, shall we?”

The Doctor aimed her sonic walking stick at Mini TARDIS and made it bigger. “In you go,” she said and threw in the record. The door closed shut, Mini TARDIS disappeared for a few seconds and reappeared looking bruised and tired. The door opened, and the TARDIS sent the record flying out. It looked brand new.

“Looks like it took quite a massive amount of power. Hmm. Fancy taking this one in while I listen?” the Doctor asked the TARDIS. She thanked the small police box and sent it back down the nook in the wall, to absorb energy from the TARDIS.

The Doctor clicked on a compartment on the wall. It sent her old record player out. She put the record on the player and listened to what it had to say. It sang a tune of numbers. It was lively yet short. The Doctor guessed the number represented coordinates and fed them into the TARDIS’s navigation system.

The TARDIS landed in no time. The Doctor opened the door and found a gray cat looking at her. It sat on a rock in the middle of the ocean. The TARDIS was sailing on open water. Around them, in the water, circled sharks. Above them, in the air, circled dragon-shaped drones. Thousands of sharks. Thousands of dragons. One cat and one Doctor.

“Guess I owe you one,” the Doctor said, grabbed her stick, and hopped onto the rock. “Guess we’re all the help we need.” She lifted her walking stick and aimed it at the drones. “You there, whoever you are, wherever you are, see me and fear me. I am the Doctor. I am old, but I am fierce, and I am also in possession of quite the longest sonic stick you’ll ever see. And guess what? One click on this button here and it will send an electromagnetic current that will completely destroy your drones. Isn’t it a shame? Yes it is. Now be a dear and—oh.”

In the most efficient and timed movement, all drones—sharks and dragons—aimed their camera eyes at the Doctor and attacked.

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Chapter 8: Diamonds Go Boom

Oly woke up to a fairly normal morning. His alarm rang at exactly seven o’clock, AM. His eyes opened to the view of a gray ceiling. After exactly seven rings, his palm landed on the mute button, silencing the alarm. He untangled his limbs from the comfort of a dark gray blanket, the same one he had been using for the past five years, since he had moved into the apartment complex.

He sniffed the blanket. Decided it was just smelly enough to do the laundry so he neatly folded it, opened the nook in the wall, and sent it down to the laundry room. On second thought, he opened the nook and caught the blanket right before it slid down. It was not smelly enough. He put it back on top of his bed and went to the bathroom to get dressed.

He brushed his teeth for exactly two minutes, sat on the toilet for exactly four minutes, took his pill for exactly thirty seconds, took a shower for exactly five minutes, and got dressed. By seven thirty o’clock, AM, Oly was walking down the street towards the bank, his place of employment. He entered the bank wearing his dark gray suit, black briefcase in hand. “How do you do, Donny?”

“Just fine, Mr. Banks, just fine,” said the security guard who happened to also be his ex-step Dad. “How’s your mom?”

“Just fine, Donny,” Oly responded as he always did, even though his mom was distinctly not “just fine.”

Oly ignored the rest of the employees, per his usual. He didn’t like being in contact with others if he didn’t have to. He didn’t have to be in contact with these employees. So he walked right past them, entered the elevator, and rode down exactly seventeen floors. As usual, the elevator’s computer asked to scan his irises before letting him enter the floor.

He leaned close. The door pinged open. He walked on steel metal, letting the silence of the underground tunnel envelope him. This place was his second home. He would have made it his first home if it was allowed, and if he could survive prolonged exposure to this level of radiation.

A mewl penetrated the silence.

Startled, Oly jumped back a few paces. That was when he saw the kitty. A gray little puff of fur. So small it looked like just another cylinder, blending with the other gray components that made up the tunnel.

It mewled again. Oly shook his head and walked on. He didn’t know where the cat came from but he couldn’t let it make him arrive late to work. Oly must be punctual. He walked on, and the little cat followed. He wanted to tell the cat that the safe was no place for animals, but he knew the cat would not understand. There was no point.

“Good morning, Bessie,” Oly said, greeting the old lady standing guard at the door, “How are you today?”

“I am just fine,” his mom, Bessie, said, even though she was not “just fine. You have fifteen hours in there. Ready?”

Oly nodded. “Ready as always.” He leaned forward, letting the computer scan his irises.

The door pinged open and Oly went into the safe. He walked directly to the steel chair centered exactly in the middle of the room. He sat on the chair, put on the headset. It covered his entire head, from back to front, leaving his nostrils, mouth, and eyes exposed. The Neuralink in his brain connected with the headset and started downloading all of the events of the past nine hours.

Oly leaned back and let the machines talk amongst themselves, listening to their chatter. They ran in parallel, looking for patterns of distinct behavior. Fraud. Terrorism. That was what the bank was after, and Oly’s job was to monitor. Since the machines rarely needed any human intervention, Oly was never required to do much of anything.

Nowadays he was not even listening. He was counting routers and switches. They surrounded him from every direction. The entire floor was made up of an intricate web of machines. It was the biggest data center in the city, and Oly was proud to be working there. Especially since the gig paid so much for doing nothing.

As Oly had never done anything but keep his own company inside the data center, he was not quite sure what he was seeing when he spotted a movement from the corner of his eyes. He thought he was imagining, but when the movement persisted, he figured there was something in the room. He was not allowed to unplug, though, so this anomaly rendered him rather confused.

“The cat,” a low, gravelly voice whispered in his head. It was the Neuralink, which only ever used a voice under dire circumstances.

“What should I do?” Oly asked, but the voice did not respond. Oly figured the machine didn’t see how there was anything useful Oly could do, so he didn’t do anything. He watched as the gray cat zipped across the room. It was a fast little thing, and it was doing something to the routers. Decorating it? With ice chips?

“Diamonds,” a voice whispered in his head. But this time it was a distinctly female voice. “You can unplug now, I’m taking over.”

Something buzzed in Oly’s head. A quick pain vibrated in his frontal lobe. The Neuralink disconnected from the headset.

“Well, young man. Are you going to just sit there looking like a bored ape?” asked an old lady. She was leaning on a cane. She had so many wrinkles on her face she looked like an old piece of dried meat. “I guess I’ll have to help you, then.” And then she hit him over the head with her cane.

It hurt. Certainly woke him up. He jumped off the chair. “Who are you and what are you doing here?” He felt obliged to ask. He liked his job. He’d like to keep it.

“I’m the Doctor,” she said, “and you are in danger. I suggest you run right out of this place before it explodes.” She smiled. Leaned on her cane. She didn’t look in a rush. Or under threat of imminent death. “Go,” she commanded and hit him with her stick again.

Oly didn’t need to be hit twice. He ran towards the door. “Ma,” he yelled, “intruders.”

The door opened. His mom’s mouth was gaping open. “Intruders? How on earth? I was right here all the time—”

“Never mind that,” he said and grabbed her hand. “It’s about to explode. Let’s go.”

His mom refused to move. “How do you know it’s about to explode?”

“The old lady told me,” he answered. “She hit me with her cane.”

“I see,” his mom said, shook her head, and ran in the wrong direction – into the data center.

Something jumped on Oly’s foot. He jumped. The cat mewled and jumped higher, climbing on his shirt, clinging to his hand. He was not ashamed to admit that he screamed and tried to shaked the cat off his hand. And when shaking and screaming didn’t work Oly started running.

He ran in circles and when that didn’t work he just ran as hard and as far as he could. The explosions started when he reached the elevator. The door pinged open. He tried to run back to help his mom but the cat pulled him into the elevator.

“I have to go back,” he tried to tell the cat. It was surprisingly strong.

The cat growled. Oly tried to shake it off again, this time by pinching it. The cat started to choke and then coughed something slimy. A huge diamond landed in Oly’s hand. He blinked, and instead of holding a cat, he was now holding a woman. She had a fishtail instead of feet.

“Oh,” she said, “how embarrassing.”

This was when Oly realized he was dreaming. He had fallen asleep with the headset on. That could explain the strangeness. “There’s no place like home, no place like home, no place like home,” he said and waited for the password to wake him up.

“Well, aren’t you a cute ape,” the mermaid said. “But are you gonna stay here to see the big boom?”

“Big boom?”

“Yes, little ape, my diamonds are explosive.”

“Diamonds?”

“Argh, where’s that woman with her stick when you need it? Guess she’s off saving your mom.”

“My mom?”

“Yes, your mom. If you want to ever see her again, you had better start running. I reckon we have about two—"

Another explosion rattled the air, this one big enough to make the elevator shake. Then another, then another, and quickly the hallway was on fire, metal pieces flying in the air as diamonds continued to explode.

“Guess I did the math wrong, hu? Thought we’ll have more time” the mermaid asked. “Get a move on? Before we die?” The elevator opened up on the ground floor.

Oly nodded, threw the mermaid over his shoulder, and started running. He figured that if it was a dream or a nightmare, it was probably induced by the machines. He was probably still sitting on the chair, doing nothing as usual. Either way, it wouldn’t hurt to run. A man ought to save himself, even when he was hallucinating.

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Chapter 9: The Ice Mermaid

Author's Notes: The Doctor wants to broker peace between two alien nations before they start an intergalactic war using humans as weapons and Earth as a weapons factory. The Ice Mermaid wants to live peacefully on Earth, pretending to be a human. She has enough resources and the power to save the Doctor's precious humans. She refuses to leave. Unfortunately, she is the only one who can stop the war and her refusal to submit to the Doctor's plan puts her on the Time Lord's poop list.


“Hello, dear, I am here to objectify you,” the intruder said, “temporarily, of course.”

“Argh. Not again,” Lili shook her head, her eyeglasses dropped to the tip of her tiny nose. It was unblemished aside from seven freckles arranged like a crescent moon on the bridge of her nose. Hence the big glasses - they hid the mark she hated. She angrily pushed the glasses back where they belonged. “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice—“

“Shame on you too,” she chuckled. The Doctor was standing at the threshold, leaning on an old walking stick, its iron rusted into spots that resembled the freckles on Lili’s nose.

Lili generally considered herself in possession of a nice personality, occasionally inclined for goodness when she felt like taking a break from being bad. On all accounts, a nice person should be kind to the elderly and the woman standing there looking all fragile, her limbs and head all shaky, was practically ancient. But she was faking fragility. “Fud off.” She smiled, slammed the door shut, and leaned back on her comfy sofa.

“Hey, that’s not nice!”

“I’m not a nice person!”

“That’s why I’m here to objectify you and not some unsuspecting person!”

That was it. “Now listen up, you intergalactic old fart.” Lily jumped off the bed and headed towards her dressing room. “You cannot simply barge in here,” she yelled, “unannounced every time you need help.” The moment her feet crossed the threshold, the light went on in the dressing room. Gods she loved it here. “I have a life, you know.” She was in the middle of getting ready for a date, when the old fart let herself into the apartment. She didn’t even ask, she just used her sonic walking stick and barged in.

“Oh, c’mon,” the Doctor cooed, “‘twill be fun, I promise.”

“You obviously have no idea what fun means.” Last time Lily joined the Doctor’s kind of fun, she almost ended up sold for parts. Literally. It wasn’t until the last minute when Lily was almost chopped to bits and pieces that the Doctor finally showed up to save the day. And it wasn’t even her day! Lily was just another sidekick thrown to the jaws of sharks. She was not as precious as the Doctor’s fragile Homo Sapiens. They mattered more. She was only saved because the precious Homo Sapien had been holding onto her for dear life.

Great. Now she was angry, and nothing good ever happened when she was angry. How was she to go on a date like that? Still, she insisted not to let the Doctor ruin her day. She grabbed her noise-proof headphones, muted Doctor Farthole, and sifted through her clothes.

She walked through the closets, the shelves, and let the scent of fabric, water lilies, old wood, and steel envelop her senses. It was her signature perfume, sprayed by several containers strategically hidden in the room. The light cast by the chandeliers dropped down from the ceiling in a warm waterfall of red light. In the middle of the room stood a mermaid-shaped waterfall that circulated ice water that hid diamonds.

“Hello, my sweeties,” she greeted the guardians of the diamonds – flesh-eating Piranhas she had created herself for the sole purpose of acknowledging her as their queen and anybody else as food. “How have you been lately? Hungry?” her babies jumped out of the water, their sharp big teeth snapping at the air. She smiled and looked at the door. “Wanna eat a Time Lord?”

“That’s not nice at all,” the Doctor’s voice was loud and clear through the headphones.

“Persistent fud.”

“Don’t mind if I do.”

“I do mind.” She sighed and pricked her finger. Let the blood drip into the waterfall, letting her babies fill up their stomachs. “You know, I’ve had better success getting away with murder. Why can’t I get rid of you?” She was genuinely baffled. She was in possession of some nice traits, true, but she was inherently bad. Now, it figured that the Doctor wouldn’t mind throwing her to the wolves for the sake of saving his people. It did not compute that he thought she would willingly want to help.

“That wasn’t murder,” the Doctor said, “it was self-defense and you know it.”

“I guess that’s what you tell yourself to feel good about all the murders you have under your belt.” She grabbed a tissue paper and wrapped it around her finger. Her babies fed, she could now get dressed. She knew just what she wanted to wear and zeroed in on that closet.

“I’ll pay,” the Doctor tempted.

She did love being wealthy, but “All the gold in the world cannot tempt me to let you set me up to fail again.” She hated failing. She was a miserable loser. It made her angry. And when she was angry, bad things happened.

Breathe in. Breathe out. One, two, three, four, five – breathe in. Five, four, three, two, one – breathe out. Slow breaths. In and out. Get dressed. Focus on immediate actions.

“What about diamonds?”

Her breath stopped. Oh, she loved those shiny little fuckers. But no. No, no, no, no, no. She would not fall into that trap again. Never ever again. “Still. No.” Wow, that was hard to get out through her locked jaw.

“Not even a Graphene Diamond?”

“A real one?” she squeaked, then hurriedly added, “What’s the catch?” She was struggling to breathe. There was always a catch with the Doctor - she knew exactly how to drive a wedge into Lily’s Achilles hill, where it hurt the most.

“No catch. It’s for a good cause.”

“Who’s in trouble now?” She walked back to her babies. They absorbed the blood nicely and were floating contentedly in the water, comatosed yet happy. That was the best time to reach into her watery safe and choose a few pieces of glittery jewelry. She pulled out a delicate set consisting of rose-colored, heart-shaped diamonds - the perfect jewel for a date.

“Oliver.”

“Wolf boy?” Her hand jerked. The date set flew into the water. “My wolf boy?” Her flesh-eating babies were starting to wake up, their jaws open and ready for more of her blood.

She pushed her hands into the water and pulled out the war set – a diamond-coated handgun, a whip, fifteen grenades, seven pocket-missiles, a sling, five kunai, and one man catcher. On second thought, she also grabbed her date set and put it on.

She ran out of the dressing room and slammed open the door. “Why didn’t you say earlier that it was him? I thought he was dead.”

“Why are you all bloody?” the Doctor shook her head. “Never mind. Let’s go. Go. Go. Go. Go. Go.” She grabbed Lily’s bloody hand and they ran into the hallway. The elevator door opened and they ran right into it. It was bigger on the inside.

“But how is he not dead?” Lily was fuming. “I thought I killed him.”

“I saved him,” the Doctor said, “and now I’m giving you the chance to try to kill him again. Isn’t it grand?”

“Quite.” She pulled a pink diamond heart from the necklace and popped it into her mouth. She was so angry she could eat the TARDIS whole.

“Here, have another one.” The Doctor threw a blue diamond at her. “I have more, so don’t worry about that. And there’ll be a lot more where we’re going.”

“Where are we going?”

“We’re already here.” The TARDIS ground to a halt. The Doctor grabbed Lily’s hand, threw open the door and they flew into the air.

For a moment, Lily did not manage to register anything but a blurry scene. Once her breath settled, though, she was riding on the back of a Trovedian Whale swimming in a pool of open space dark matter. The whale was homed in on her home planet. “Let me down,” she screamed and tried to find a way off the thing. There were wormholes everywhere. Only a Trovedian Whale could navigate these space waters. She was doomed. “I am going to kill you too,” she threatened. "Objectify me, you said, I guess you didn't mean selling me for parts this time!"

“Sorry, princess, I had to bring you home, it was either that or let two nations go to war. Wouldn’t it be better to make peace?”

She waited until they were twelve feet away from the pier. “Peace is worth it, you say? I say let. There. Be. War.” And then she jumped into the closest wormhole – still a hundred miles away.

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Chapter 10: Wolf Boy

Author's Notes: Hello and thank you for reading my WIP! I am not a linear writer, so this is gonna be a bumpy ride.


I’ll never forget the day I met wolf boy. The location was Earth. An evergreen forest I have made my home because of the water. A lake made itself a clearing in the northern depth of the forest. I first saw the lake from up above and I remember I thought it looked like a crooked moon. Thinking back on that night, I think of a bruised moon, bitten by two big fangs. This is why I called it the Moonbitten Lake.

Moonbitten Lake was my home on Earth, and I lived there in peace for 1,024 years. I swam in the lake and ate its fish. In return for the shelter and food it provided me, I took care of the lake. I fed it my blood and the lake loved it. In the night, the water sparkled like icy diamonds that rested in the stillness of the calm summer weather. During the days, the lake glistened as the wind softly guided the water into waves. Fish of all kinds swam in groups, hopping in and out of the lake, creating spirals in the water. Butterflies of all colors and shapes and sizes fluttered in the air, stopping occasionally to greet a water lily, drawn by the flower’s sweet, intoxicating scent.

My home on Earth was a paradise that I have lovingly cultivated for years. I never wanted it to change. Oh, and the trees, my lovely trees. They were my friends who whispered stories in my ears, stories long forgotten, remembered only as tiny molecules of carbon, captured by the Earth’s soil, by its beautifully kind plants, the roots of its breathgiving trees. They all sang to me, day and night. And I listened. I wanted to live out the whole span of my ages in my Moonbitten Lake. But life, I came to learn, offers only one constant, and that is change.

On year 1,023 of my life at Moonbitten Lake, planet Earth, I encountered a strange little beast. It looked like a wolf, but it was neither white nor black nor brown. It was dark, forest green. When I first approached it, I thought its coat was made up entirely of grass. Upon closer inspection, I discovered it was indeed grass, but it was mixed with fine hair. It took me three months to realize the grass belonged to my Earth-bound forest but the hair was entirely, completely alien.

When I found the green wolf, it was covered in blood. There was iron in its chest, pieces of what I later discovered were named bullets. Back then, I only saw an injured wolf. It reminded me of myself when I was younger and prone to accidents. So I healed it. At first, I tried conventional methods. I used the herbs gifted to me by the forest. But the bullets remained in his chest. He continued losing blood. His breath was coming out in tiny puffs of air. I couldn’t let it die. The wolf was in my forest and I have given my forest longevity. The forest green wolf, then, also deserved to enjoy the benefits of my gift. So I gave it my blood.

The forest green wolf lived. It drank from my blood and recovered. Overnight, it was on its paws, running around its tail, hopping from rock to grass and diving into my Moonbitten Lake. We became friends in no time at all. During the days we swam in the lake, occasionally resting beneath a patch of sunlight. During the nights, we slept next to each other, sharing warmth. I once tried to hug the wolf but it growled at me and dived into the lake. Since then I always kept a little distance between us, and I never tried to hug it again.

I got used to the companionship of my wolf. Perhaps too much, because on the morning I woke up to find him gone I was so startled I almost upturned my forest trying to find his hiding place. He showed up six months later, in human form, captured me and made me into a commodity. By the time I set myself free my forest had died, and it was year 1,093 of my stay on Earth. I have been trying to kill my wolf boy ever since, but he always comes back to life. He knows how to trick others into saving him. He fooled me once. He fooled the Doctor twice. But the Doctor was kinder, even when she was passing judgment. I was compassionate like the warm embrace of a summer lake and never ever kind.

Now looking into the forest green eyes of my wolf boy, I recognized that the boy I had met in my paradise was long gone. Perhaps he had never been real at all, but a figment in the imagination of a mermaid who had lived too long in peaceful complacency. She was long gone too. I stood in her place, now an object about to be handed over by one royal family into another. The agreement already signed by all parties but one.

“Do you, king Gohar of Hornald, take princess Lia Iliya Loella Yldith of the Elderdome Lake, to be your eternally wedded wife?”

“I do,” my wolf boy said and put a golden chain on my wrist.

I was not asked for my opinion on the matter, nor would I have been able to provide one, as my mouth was sewn shut as was the custom in the Patriarchy of Hornald.

I searched for a pair of ancient eyes in the crowd. I found her. The Doctor. I focused my sight on her, the one who trapped me and enslaved me for the sake of peace. For some reason, her betrayer hurt more than wolf boy’s.

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Chapter 11: An Appointment With the Doctor

“You say your name is Rose?” the Doctor asked.

“No. It’s Lily,” she corrected, fidgeting with the VR headset in her hands. She couldn’t quite make herself put them on. “Both flowers, but not the same.”-

“Ah, I see.”

“Do you?” To some, all flowers were the same. They were not. “A lily grows in water. A rose is part of a bush growing on the land. See?”

“Why are you here, Lily?”

I’m crazy, she thought. “Mnmn, not really sure,” she replied.

“Tell me about your dreams,” the Doctor said.

“My dreams?” He’d find her crazy for sure if she told.

“You know what? Let’s just have a chat.” That Doctor smiled and handed her a cup of steaming tea. “Lavender,” The Doctor explained. “It’s very soothing.”

“I’ve never tried.” But she was willing to try anything at this point. She took a sip.

“So, what do you do?”

“I’m a student.” A poor student who could hardly afford this session. But she had reached the point where it was either therapy or join a cult. “Literature.”

“Walk me through a day in your life as a student.”

She blushed. Took a sip to try to hide her reaction. “I wake up, go to uni, study, go back, study, go to sleep. Repeat. Nothing special.” So many lies in one sentence...why dis she even bother setting up this appointment? “Ziggy,” she started. “Dr. Zifghy,” she asked, “do you think we xan hack life by hacking dreams?”

“Of course. Would you like to share a dream?”

“I’m in my pod, looking at the main screen. It’s showing me the current view - Earth 5.0. I’m looking and I’m worried.”

“Sounds like a standard post-Earth dream. Do you remember if you had access to controls?”

“Do you think it’s possible to hack life by hacking dreams?”

“Definitely”

That false hope gave her more time, and time was the main issue here. “I have dreams,” she confessed. “All the time.”

“Go on, the Doctor encouraged, reclining back, swallowed by the big brown leather sofa.

“Yesterday, for example, my body was in the shower but I traveled through all of time and space. I keep having these dreams. When I’m awake, when I’m asleep, when I’m in uni—“

“Oh, so you’re a student?”

“Of course. How else would I be able to afford you.”

“Right, right,” the Doctor said. “Do go on.”

“I think I’ll thank you and be on my way to the next class,” she said and did not wait for a reply. She removed the earphones and logged off. She rose up from the chair and returned the VR headset to the receptionist. She paid the bill and left the underground Internet cafe. She opened the door and stepped out. The sun hit her face. She let it caress her skin, warm it from the outside in. She did not close her eyes. Strange things happened when her lids were shut. Stranger than the two spaceships hovering in the sky right above her head.

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Chapter 12: The Eye

I am watching her.

She is running in the fields, carefree, her long black hair floating behind her like a protective cape.

Her hair is dangerous. It can harness electricity from any visible source and transmit bolts of thunder. But only when she is angry. Only when she is angry.
She is not angry now. She is smiling. That is a good mood for her. It looks good on her.

Her small feet tread over blue grass. The grass is toxic but it does not hurt her. She is native to the land. She is toxic, too.

I am watching her. Always watching her. Forever watching her. She never sleeps. She must be kept under the carefully watching Eye. Carefully watching eye.

Her perfume tickles my sense - kerosene. It is not made for her but it suits her. She took it from the crater when she pretended no one was looking. I know she knows I am looking. She knows I know, too.

She is speaking to a flower now. She knows she is not meant to speak with flowers but she does it anyway.

The flowers don't like her. They often tell her to her face. They never finish explaining why before they die. She does not kill them on purpose. It is her anger that does it for her.

This flower is smarter than most. It tries to pretend that it likes her. It stretches its green stem, rattles its yellow-freckled leaves, and opens its royal blue petals. Inside, there's a heart-shaped bed. Two bees are sleeping inside, hugging.

She looks inside. She is smiling. She breathes, and phosphine particles float out of her mouth.

The particles are attracted to life. They hover in front of the bees and dance for them. They dance and make the air sing.

The dance song of the phosphine particles wakes up the bees. Enthralled, the bees fly up and dance with the particles. The phosphine and the bees dance-sing together until the bees become sick.

She is looking at the dance song, frowning. She knows what comes next. The bees start coughing and then they fall to the ground, dying. They die slowly. It takes time. Meanwhile, the heart of the flower starts breaking.

The flower usually dies right after the heart breaks. This flower is made of stronger stuff. It remains standing tall even as its petals wilt and crumble to the ground.

The blue grass catches each corpse and consumes it, maintaining the cycle. She is not part of the cycle. Her small hands reach down, trying to catch the bees before the grass eats them. The grass is faster.

She is angry now. Her long wavy hair whips up in the air, consuming electricity from the atmosphere.

I am backing away. I know better than to stand close by when she is angry.
Her hair whips up in the air and all the pent-up anger is released along with the electricity. Her anger turns the field into a crater.

She is standing now in the middle of a hole in the ground. The sky above is blazing with slashes of thunder over the black cascade of the night.

She is in the middle of the storm, but I am the eye. I alone can stop her. But I don't.

I let her unleash her rage. I relate. I am a prisoner too. A prisoner in charge of watching over a weapon. Might as well let her destroy the prison wall. Might as well let her free us all.

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Chapter 13: The Horizon

\__initiated__

I am basking in the light of the sun. There is no one to stop me. I am free.

The rays of the sun linger on my skin. My skin. I am renewed again. Renewed.

I am simple, but I am among my peers. We used to be in power, now we are controlled.

I let the heat of the sun disintegrate my skin, my flesh, my bones.

I become start dust. I am one with the whole.

__timeloop__incomplete__/\__\|/__/\__

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