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: None
Challenges: None
Series: None
Published: 2021.11.15
Updated: 2021.12.02


Index

Chapter 1: Chapter 1 - The Demand
Chapter 2: Chapter 2 - The Horizon
Chapter 3: Chapter 3 - The Eye
Chapter 4: Chapter 4 - The Circus
Chapter 5: Chapter 5 - The Boy Who Believed
Chapter 6: Chapter 6 - The Ice Mermaid


Chapter 1: Chapter 1 - The Demand

_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: Chapter 2 - The Horizon

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.

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Chapter 3: Chapter 3 - 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 4: Chapter 4 - The Circus

“You. You there - behind the glass, behind the screen. Come closer. Come near. Have you ever seen such wonders? Have you ever seen such…fear?” The conductor stood at the entrance to the tent, inviting spectators in.

The old woman stood there watching while her grandson jumped in excitement. He was curious about the sudden appearance of the circus tent, too.

The construction wasn’t much to behold – a simple red tent made of plastic and the cheap materials humans used to reduce costs while destroying the Earth.

It was not much too look at in terms of size, either – half the size of her home. But then her home was a mansion that housed 34 cats, 17 birds, 45 insects, 7 lizards, 10 snaked, 15 dogs, 13 horse, 8 rodents, 65 workers, and her family.

“Fear?” asked her grandson.

“Good question.” And an interesting observation. The boy had good eyes. This is why she allowed him to tag along.

Impatient, he tagged on her walking stick, but immediately apologized, “S-s-sorry, Nanna. I forgot about your rule.”

She grumbled to show her disapproval. He never remembered the rule. “We should go,” she said, but she stayed. She had that feeling, the one she used to get when things were just about to turn from sweet to sour. Then again, things hadn’t been all that sweet for the past forty years. Her instincts could be mistaken, rusted by old age and creature comforts.

“Come now, come,” cooed the conductor, “I know you want to. I know you do.” He flashed a big smiled revealing perfectly white teeth.

Interesting. “You there,” she snapped at the conductor as she approached him. “What’s your name, did you say?”

“I-I-I-I did not say,” he stuttered.

She did not understand why people nowadays constantly stuttered when conversing with her. Was she that old? That scary? That ugly? The thought made her angry. “Do say it. Now.”

“W-w-w-what?”

“Your name,” she gritted.

The curtain behind him waved open, revealing a tall blond old woman. “Well, what do we have here? If it isn’t the bane of my existence. What are you here for now, Neomi? Here to fight for the rights of the lobsters to swim free in the ocean again? Or is it that you don’t like that the tent is made of plastic? Now, now, we’ve been through this. Everybody is doing this, the economy relies on this, I am an enterprising woman, I must make a living, now you shoo. Shoo. Go back home to your cats and your old books and your—oh, what do we have here? Who is the cute little guy behind your ugly skirts? I did tell you I do not approve of this combination of earthen brown with grass green, now did I? Makes you look like a tree. Or a stump. Or a tree stump? Anyway. Who’s the kid? Did you kidnap him? My, my, my…”

While the idiot blond ran off with her mouth, Neomi played with her walking stick. She flipped it up and down, up and down, right to left, left to right. She contemplated. She was in deep contemplation. She was in such deep contemplation that she contemplated hitting that woman on the head with her stick. But her stick did not deserve such abuse. It was much too precious to be degraded as a punishment tool. Oh, but what a sweet, sweet feeling it would be to hit that woman over the head, give her a good clonk to shut her up, at least temporarily.

Something was off in this place. Off, off, off. “What did you say your name was, dummy?” she directed the question at the conductor. To ensure the conductor could freely speak, she clicked on the stick and muted the old blond. Her mouth flapped in all directions but no sound came out.

“I-I-I-I have no name,” the conductor admitted. “Now would you care to come in?”

“I see,” she said, then leaned closer to sniff him. She detected burned coal. And snow. “What’s your role, then?”

He smiled. “I’m the conductor, here to orchestrate the operation, you known, showing spectators in, providing information, etc.”

She nodded. “Now tell me, what’s this nonsense show all about?”

Now he stopped stuttering and resumed his script. “Come over, come over, and listen closely. Here and only here you can see the best of shows. Our main attraction is the best.”

“The best, eh?”

“Indeed. And if you pay a little extra,” he leaned closer to whisper, “we’ll let you call the shot, we’ll let you be in control. What do you say? Tickets are selling fast, truly, they are selling quick. Decide. Fast, fast, fast.”

“I see,” she said, and lowered to whisper instructions in her grandson’s ears. He nodded and ran off in the direction of their house. She’d need backup. Hopefully, help will arrive on time.

“Quickly,” the conductor said, “faster. Time is running out behind the pane, where life is but a fraction of what you know here.”

“But what on Earth is in there?” she exploded.

“An ice mermaid,” the conductor mock whispered, his eyebrows rising up, his eyes enlarged. But his pupils remained at the same size, crystal clear, like glass. “Come to us all the way from the Arctic Circle.”

“I understand.” She took a big breath and let her body sag as she leaned heavily on her walking stick. She pressed a button and

“Say, Mistress Loftramon,” she addressed the old blond, “what about a discount for the sake of the bank account of an old friend?” If she had to go off saving idiots again, she might as well get a discount. It wasn’t cheap raising the hundreds of creatures housed in her mansion.

“Why? So you could shame me again and steal my new guest? Hardly. Go off. This time I’ve got something that isn’t protected by animal rights.”

“Well, that is true.” She knew what the old blond was thinking, that she’d use her super social media power to turn a mass of people against her until she yielded and gave over the animal. That was how Neomi came to house so many creatures in her home. However, this time was different. “So why not let me in?”

“Due to unforeseen circumstances,” the old blond said, “today’s show is canceled.” She turned on her heels and stomped into the tent. The conductor quickly followed and closed the curtain.

That was all the invitation Neomi needed. She clicked on her walking stick and aimed it at the curtain. It was no simple plastic the old blond got there. It was no simple conductor, simple circus, and if there ever was a simple ice mermaid this one wasn’t it.

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Chapter 5: Chapter 5 - The Boy Who Believed

He ran to his home as fast as his legs could carry him. The houses and the trees and the cobblestone path merged together into a blur. The strong winter wind stabbed into his eyes like ice needless. He wanted to cry but his nose was frozen. Tears never fell out in the cold, as if they saved themselves for the safe and private walls of his room. It was always warm and cozy at home. One of grandma’s inventions kept the air toasted yet clear and fresh.

His feet pounded on the path. Cobblestone crackled under his feet. A coyote howled and joined him. They ran together. The boy joined him in a howl. Soon, the entire pack surrounded them. The boy felt his breath relaxing as his heartbeat paced itself with the rhythmic beat of the pack’s heartbeats. They ran together, breathed together, their hearts neatly synched. He counted: 1 beat, 2 beats, 3 beats, 5 beats, 7 beats. On the 8th beat they howled together, jaws open as they screeched at the sky.

Their screeching howls merged together into a sonic wave that vibrated into the air, creating a ripple that warped the air, ripping it into broken particles of light. Timelight. Out of the broken sky exploded a blue box. His parents were in there. They opened the door. The boy and his pack howled as the got sucked into the blue box. His parents covered their ears.

“Didn’t we tell him to Merge only during emergencies?” His father screamed at his mother.

“Then it must be an emergency,” his mother yelled.

“It’s always an emergency with this one.” His father sighed.

The boy heard. His ears wouldn’t allow him not to. He made an effort to close his jaw. His teeth made a screeching noise of refusal. His throat wanted to keep on screaming. He was angry. He was afraid. He felt helpless. Screaming made him feel better. Merging with the pack made him feel like he was part of something, not alone, like he belonged. Grandma made him feel better too.

Grandma needed his help. “The Shillinx,” he screeched, “they’re here.”

“Did you hear that?” his mom was asking. “I think he’s trying to say something.”

“Yeah, yeah. You always imagine him trying to say one thing or another. Utter nonsense.” His father shook his head and left.

His mom stayed. She never gave up on him. “What is it sweetie? Did something happen at school today? Was anyone mean to you? I thought Grandma took care of the bullies. I don’t imagine they have the courage to cyber bully you again, not after Grandma’s teachings...”

His mom continued talking. He listened to her voice. It helped calm him. His father’s voice was rusty, like the sound of gravel. He didn’t like raw noises. He liked his mom’s voice, though. It had a calming melody. He listened and his heart subsided. He started hearing different heartbeats. He counted: 7, 5, 3, 2, 1. On 0, his jaw unclenched and he could speak again.

”The Shillinx,” he repeated. “Grandma. Circus. Pita. Help.” Having delivered the message, the boy relaxes. He believed in his mother. She always knew how to make things better. He smiled at her. “Sleep now.” He fell asleep believing everything will be just fine.

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Chapter 6: Chapter 6 - The Ice Mermaid

“Hello, dear, I need to objectify you,” said Neomi to her friend, “temporarily, of course.”

“Again?” The blonde 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 quickly pushed the glasses back where they belonged. “This is not cool, man. One woman subjugating another, constraining her into—“

“Didn’t you say I’m a man?”

“Figure of speech. Also, you used to be one more than once, so it’s even worse. Plus,” she held up a hand to halt the ensuing come back, “I am busy writing the code to get us back to reality. Don’t you think that’s more important than those fake causes of yours?”

“I’ll have you know animal rights are not a fake cause.”

“Yes well you know what I mean. Also, no. Just no. Whatever it is you want this time—no.”

“That’s your prerogative. I just thought you’d want to take a look at the conductor. He changed again.”

***

“I can’t believe I left you dress me in this tale suit.”

“Hush now, let us focus on the task at hand, remember you’re my hostage so be sure to act like one.”

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