be still, and wait without hope

by Brunhilde [Reviews - 2]

  • Teen
  • None
  • Action/Adventure, Angst, Character Study, Introspection

I am Romanadvoratrelundar she told herself imperiously. I am a Timelady and President of Gallifrey. I am more than a number and I am not a slave.

And yet Romana would always remember the day she was enslaved.

There were lingering memories of sights and smells and sounds so far removed from the reality of her imprisonment that, in the deepest moments of night when her mind refused to be silent and let her rest, she was sure they must have been a dream. A dream of sunlight (what was sunlight?) and chattering voices (the slaves here were silent) and carefree laughter (it had been years since she had laughed). Even in moments of complete rationality it was hard to reconcile the past with the present. It as all she could do to hang on to her sanity.

The first time the Daleks put her to work she sabotaged the machine she was building and tried to run away. She managed to run for almost ten minutes (her Time-sense was weakening) before the inevitable silhouette appeared on the wall beside her and one of those machines slid out in front of her, blocking her way with one word: "HALT!".

In her panic she turned and tried to run in the opposite direction but a burst of energy exploded in to her back and she fell to the ground in agony, pain blossoming the grimy corridor floor in to a hundred birthing stars. Through the overload in her brain she heard the Dalek telling her to get up and she pulled herself to her feet with grim determination. The Lady President Romanadvoratrelundar refused to be beaten by these monsters, she absolutely refused. If they told her to get up then she would get up and go back to work, and the next time she had an opportunity to escape she'd try again. And again, and again, using up all her regenerations if need be, but she would get out of this.

Staggering back to what was charitably called a cell, Romana wondered how long it would take to get away. It was a question of timing, surely, simply picking the right moment to make a run for it. Trial and error.

She was pushed roughly through the door. It closed with a bang behind her, and she fell in a tangle of aching limbs, the floor cold against her bare arms, goosebumps a spine-tingling contrast to the burning pain along her spine that the Dalek weapon had left. The darkness was absolute. With a groan, she dragged herself to a sitting position, shuffled across the floor and rested her forehead against the wall. Strength, she reminded herself. She had the strength of the Timelords; she could and would endure.

The next time they put her to work she repeated her actions but this time, instead of taking her back to her cell, the Daleks hit her over and over again with their energy weapons as she lay screaming on the floor. Out of her mind with pain, she didn't hear the command to get up, and at her disobedience more pain lanced through and through and through her mind, ripping chunks out of her mental defences, searing her neural pathways, until her brain gave up and she blacked out.

She awoke still curled in a foetal position in the corridor. A Dalek loomed over her, it's one eye ever-vigilant.

"YOU WILL WORK," it said, nudging her to her feet. Every muscle protested and it felt as if her very bones were coming apart but she held her head high and went back to her workstation. The pain was nothing, she told herself over and over again. The pain was nothing and anyway, it was an acceptable price to pay for a chance of escape.

Her hands shook too much to operate the tools and she was still sitting at her station hours after the others had been released to their cells.

Over the next few years Romana learned that there was almost no chance of ever getting out of this hellhole. The Daleks had taken to punishing her with ever-increasing harshness for her continued rebellion until one night, bruised and battered, one arm twisted at an odd angle, she had given in to the tears that had welled up, hot and fierce, in her eyes. She cried for herself; for her world that she would never see again; for her faith in the Doctor who had never come to save her; and then she leaned against the same cold wall she'd been leaning against for years and years and realised that Romanadvoratrelundar was defeated.

The next day she did her job as required and returned silently to her cell to be fed the cold water and energy bars she'd been eating year in, year out, for the duration of her imprisonment. She hated herself for every moment of co-operation, every obedient movement of her tools and every lost chance to run. But now Romana was fighting for her life, not her freedom, and so she endured the depersonalisation and the brutality and the feeling that her mind was slowly slipping out of her grasp and tried just to remember her name.

If she knew her name she had an identity.

If she had an identity then she had a life.

If she had a life then she had friends beyond this prison.

And if she had friends beyond this prison then maybe, one day, one impossible day, they would come for her.

Until then she would watch and listen, habits honed a lifetime ago on another world, and hope that she might learn something of importance. Defeated but not cowed, she promised herself.

My name is Romanadvoratrelundar....