Soul's Shadow

by TardisGhost [Reviews - 79]

Printer Chapter or Story
  • Teen
  • None
  • Action/Adventure, Character Study

We ran.

Through corridors and through doors that seemed to find no end. I stumbled, catching myself just in time before I could fall flat on my face. My legs burned, the muscles protesting against the effort they weren't accustomed to. My lungs stung and I panted, hoping I would be able to catch up with the others. They were ahead already, storming towards a huge two-winged door. Behind us were the sounds of running boots and a gunshot here and there, never hitting.

And then we were through. The Master caught my arm and swung me inside the room, then slammed the doors shut with the help of Donna and Jenny. Some mechanism sealed the lock with an audible click.

"Oh, that was close," Jenny panted, her back still against the door.

"I thought you liked running," the Master grunted. He stroked a finger over the plump mechanism of the door and checked if it was shut properly.

There were still enough noises coming through from the outside to tell us that the soldiers hadn't given up on entering. And they wouldn't. The door - strong as it might be - would give in, eventually.

Donna stepped over to me and patted my back, smiling. "You'll get used to the running."

I groaned. "I don't want to."

Besides, by now I had been long enough with the Time Lords to know that this wasn't a life for me. The part with the adventures at least. Well, some of them. Or maybe just the running part. The rest wasn't so bad.

I got a smile from Donna and she nodded ahead, making me look around properly for the first time. The room around us was enormous, the ceiling hovering so far above our heads that it vanished in a layer of fog. The sudden space made my head dizzy for a moment, but it faded quickly.

"It's not what I'd call a temple." Donna had her little notebook out again, now roaming the place.

Indeed. This was more as if we had suddenly stumbled into a jungle. Everything was covered in grass and moss and other plants. They spread over the floor and the walls. Trees and shrubs grew along the walls, only partially hiding the mechanic constructions behind them. The temperature had changed as well. Where the corridors had a chilly feel to them, this place was warm and humid, although, luckily, not exhaustingly hot.

"Now that's impressive," said the Master, a smile in his voice. I turned around to face him and he grinned at me. "I thought they were having a transistor bomb from the Hath Refugium. That would have been quite the feat. But this…"

"It looks more like…" Jenny hummed thoughtfully. "I'm not sure."

"Fusion drive transport. It's a spaceship," explained the Master. "A bit too new, though, if you ask me."

"What, the original one?" Donna tapped against her notebook with the pencil. "The one the first colonists arrived in?"

"It's not impossible." The Master shrugged, searching the environment for something of use. "But  the power cells would have run down after all that time. This one is still powered-up and functioning."

"They could have built another one?" I suggested. "Maybe this is the source? A way to escape."

The Master hummed. "Let's see if we can find a ship's log or something like that. This place suddenly got hellishly unimpressive."

I chuckled. "Because there's no weapon?"

"Mhmm… And there the Hath have such wonderfully constructed gadgets of chaos." He winked at me, smiling brightly when I couldn't help grinning at his stupid words.

We walked up a flight of stairs, halting briefly when another door came into view, one that was clearly under attack from the other side.

"It's the Hath," breathed Jenny. "That door's not going to last much longer. And if General Cobb gets through down there, war's going to break out."

"Ah, there we go." The Master pointed ahead. "I think we found the log." He took a few wide steps and was in front of a control table, typing something on the screen until he found what he was looking for. "First wave of Human/Hath co-colonisation of planet Messaline. Core subterranean deployment successful. Online and active. Phase one initiated. Construction drones deployed. Construction of sections 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, 3C & 3D complete. Phase one in progress. Construction drones active. Construction of sections 1C, 1D, 2C, 2D, 3A & 3C complete." His fingers moved over the screen. "Not that interesting. No mentions of weapons… or of this source."

"So it is the original ship," concluded Jenny. "But then why is it still powered?"

"What happened?" Donna stepped next to the Master and watched the screen.

He repeated some of the text without voice, mulling over it for a moment. "Phase one, construction. Sounds like they used robot drones to build the city."

"But does it mention the war?" probed Donna.

"There's more."

I had to smile as I watched him skim over the entries. When there was a puzzle to solve he was a different person all of a sudden, not caring about questions that would usually annoy him and showing a patience that seemed utterly impossible for him at most times.

"Phase One in progress. Construction of western quadrant complete. Phase two initiated. Commencing colonisation protocol 0.7. Designated pioneer progenation in progress. Mission commander quarantined due to eruption of byzantine fever. Prognosis negative." He looked up and met Donna's gaze, then even looked at Jenny. "See? You were never meant to be soldiers. Your machines were meant for populating this place."

The girl stuck out her bottom lip. "Doesn't matter. With the war came a new purpose."

He scoffed and continued reading. "Final entry. Mission commander dead. Still no agreement on who should assume leadership. Hath and humans have divided into factions." The Master stabbed a finger at the passage. "That must be it. A power vacuum. The crew divided into two factions and turned on each other. That's when they started using the progenation machines to get soldiers." He chuckled. "You created your own little armies of tin soldiers to fight a proper war, instead of just smashing a few heads in. Oh, the height of human violence. And then they call me the bad one."

"Deserved," muttered Donna, earning only a proud grin.

Jenny hopped from one foot to the other, her head turning constantly to look between the doors. "Two armies who are now both outside."

Donna glared up at a wall nearby, her pencil tapping a thoughtful rhythm. "Look at that." She nodded up to another of the small plates. This one showed the number 60120724.

"Everything is numbered. So?" The Master shrugged. "Not helping much here."

"No, no, no, no. But listen, I spent six months working as a temp in Hounslow Library, and I mastered the Dewey Decimal System in two days flat. I'm good with numbers. It's staring us in the face."

Jenny looked up as well, but seemed to understand as little as I. "What is?"

"It's the date!" Donna announced. "Assuming the first two numbers are some big old space date, then you've got year, month, day. It's the other way round, like it is in America"

The Master tilted his head, humming. "Not bad, Donna Noble. Not bad at all… for an ape."

"Why, thank you," she quibbed.

"That was actual praise. Appreciate it, human, because you won't get more of it. And that -" he pointed at the number plate - "It's the New Byzantine Calendar."

"And you needed a human to find that out. How petty."

The Master rolled his eyes. "It's still not useful."

"Think so? Listen. I'm sure the codes are completion dates for each section. They finish it, they stamp the date on. So the numbers aren't counting down, they're going out from here, day by day, as the city got built."


Donna sighed. "And there you think you're so clever. But you're still not getting it. The first number I saw back there was sixty twelve oh seven seventeen. Well, look at the date today."

"Oh seven twenty….. four.  Nohooooo… What?" Suddenly the Master laughed. "Oh, this is good."

"I don't get it," I admitted. Numbers and maths had never been my strength.

"Seven days," said the Master.

"That's it." Donna nodded. "Seven days."

Jenny nudged her. "What do you mean, seven days?"

The Master stopped laughing and gestured towards the doors that wouldn't hold for much longer under the constant attacks from outside. "Seven days since the war broke out."

"This war started seven days ago. Just a week. A week!" Donna exclaimed excitedly.

I was confused. "They said years."

"No, they said generations." Donna smiled. "And if they're all like Jenny, and they're products of those machines…"

The Master nodded. "They could have twenty generations in a day. Each generation gets killed in the war, passes on the legend. Hold your breath, ape, I'm afraid I have to call you smart again. Bravo. If you tell anyone, I'll have to kill you."

"Oh, don't worry, space boy. No one would believe me anyway."

I giggled. It was great to see the two bicker instead of fighting. And I liked seeing the Master so swallowed up by a mystery, even if he probably still searched for a way to use this all for his advantage.

"What's there to smile, little one?" he asked, bending down to look me in the eyes.

"I… I'm just glad that you're having fun," I smiled even wider. "It's rare to see you happy and not brooding."

His face fell, the grin melted into a look of surprise, confusion even. Within a moment I could feel a wave of barely concealed pain emanating from him, but then it vanished and the smile was back, soft and only meant for me. "Could get used to this, yeah," he admitted. He cupped my face with one hand, leaning closer.

"Can you stop flirting while we're in the middle of danger? That would really be helpful."

I huffed and took a step back, sharing his grin. The Master hurled around, pinning Donna with a death glare.

"I'm just sayin'." She shrugged. "We still need to get out of here."

"I'm not flirting."

"Yes, yes. Keep telling it to yourselves. I have eyes, you two."

The Master scoffed.

"Oi, don't do that. It's nothing bad to like someone, you know? Do you know, actually? Maybe don't tell the Doctor though…" She trailed off.

The Master cast me a look that clearly said, 'this is a lost case. I won't even bother.'

He did anyway. "Just consider, little ape, that there are connections that don't require whatever you want this to be. Maybe you should listen to your grandpa more often. Now let's move."

I followed him, looking back briefly to catch Donna's eyes and giving her a short grin. She only shook her head and followed, Jenny too.

The girl seemed rather oblivious to the content of the conversation. She still was in thoughts and when she caught up with us she asked, "This can't be that new. All the buildings, the encampments. They're in ruins."

"No, they're not ruined." The Master jumped down on a patch of thick moss. "They're just empty. Waiting to be populated. Thinking of it, they've mythologised their entire history. The Source must be part of that too. Come on. Maybe there is still something more here."

Our way led to another room, bigger than the one before and completely overgrown to a point where it was hard to even walk. But we managed to make our way through until there were noises nearby. Noises of someone else fighting the flora.

We stopped and exchanged quick glances. It couldn't be the soldiers or the Hath. This sounded like a single person. The Master held a hand up, signalling us to stay quiet. His posture was tense, alert and still showed that he was in control here. It was easy to believe that he had fought in a war.

The Master made a gesture to show that we should crouch down and so we did, careful not to make any noise. My heart beat wildly in my throat. Whoever was there could present any possible kind of danger. And if they were hiding more people somewhere then we were horribly outnumbered.

The steps came closer, moving carefully through the plants. Again, the Master symbolised us to lay low and not move. And then he jumped.

Like a fox after a mouse, he leaped out of the bushes and tackled down the other person. Donna and I shot up, whilst Jenny stayed on the ground. I needed only two steps to see them wrestling on the ground for only a few moments, before…

"The heck are you doing here?" screeched a female voice. "Let go of me!"

The Master did. He stepped backwards and looked down at the dirty woman on the ground, tossing a perplexed look in my direction.

It was Martha Jones.