katherine_b: (DW - Hurt Doctor)
posted by [personal profile] katherine_b at 06:29am on 15/11/2013 under , ,
Title: Redemption 43/50
Author: [livejournal.com profile] katherine_b
Rating: PG
Summary: When you have lost everything, what do you do to get it back?
Characters: The non-Doctor first glimpsed at the end of Name of the Doctor and a lot of old friends.

Part XLIII

The Vadlott frowns as he studies the ground, his heart pounding in his chest and his breath coming raggedly. He knows they are only a few minutes behind him. As he spots his target, he dives for it, scooping up the precious seed and depositing it in the depths of his pocket with those he has located so far before moving on to find another one.

He had come to this planet in the hope that it would give him some peace and quiet.

Instead he finds himself running ahead of a group of lunatic harvest rangers who seem determined to strip this planet of all its trees and turn it into a copy of Androzani Minor with its broad stretches of desert. As he continues to hunt for the precious seeds, he recalls his visit to that dreadful world and the catastrophic results from it: the near-death of Peri and his regeneration from his fifth to six self when he used the small amount of spectrox antidote he had to save her.

As the Vadlott continues to search, at the same time listening for the arrival of the rangers, he takes a few seconds to wonder just what number regeneration he actually is now.

Deciding that that is too complicated an issue to decide right now, he continues to hunt for the precious seeds, listening as the harvest machine gets closer. He can also sense the movement of the satellites in the sky above his head, preparing to send acid rain down on this planet to melt the trees.

Out of the corner of his eye he can just make out his tardis, standing some distance away, and he contemplates whether his time is up or if he will make it back.

But – is the harvester moving further away? Its former smooth, regular progress seems to have been interrupted, as if someone unfamiliar with it, or with driving at all for that matter, was now at the controls.

And then, all around him, the trees begin to move; their life-force, like a host of tiny stars, flees out of their former bodies and towards the only structure on the planet, a tall tower. That is his cue, since he knows the King and Queen of the forest will have called them home to be saved from the acid rain, leaving only the wood itself to be melted down.

The first drops from the satellites drip into the foliage, and he feels one splash onto his jacket with a hiss and a sizzle.

Keeping his head down and his hands inside his clothes to protect his skin, he makes it to the tardis just in time. Fortunately, as he is trying to find the key in among all of the precious seeds, he is protected by his ship’s shields from any further injury.

Once inside, he is about to head for the tower, where he knows that the energy will have gathered as the only safe place on the planet, when he decides to check and make sure there are no other people left behind and in danger.

He can’t be surprised to see several life-signs flashing on the screen, already inside the tower that was about to be his destination. And he is almost resigned to the fact that one of those people has two hearts.

“I try to stay away from you, Doctor,” he grumbles, cancelling the co-ordinates and sending the tardis into the vortex. “But you seem determined to make it difficult.”

Sighing, he reaches into his pocket, pulling out the seeds he managed to collect and counting them. Only thirty, but even that will be enough. He just has to get them to sprout and then he can find a new home for them. Once they reach a certain stage, their energies will return, drawn inexorably to the trees from which they came, and then life can begin anew for the transplanted Androzani forests.

He takes the seeds down to the garden where the trees from Cheem, which sprouted from the seeds given to him all that time ago by Lute and Coffa, wave their branches gently above his head, and kneels down to find the seeds a new home in a fresh patch of soil.

* * *

“Countdown,” the Vadlott says aloud to keep his mind focused. “Bombardment begins in three... two... one...”

He throws the switch of the transmat at the same moment as Dalek ship below him begins to attack the planet from which the Vadlott picked up the emergency message that has brought him here.

Turning, he fixes his eyes on the reception bay for the transmat, waiting impatiently to see who he has collected. He is unable to help recalling the last time this happened, when Luke Rattigan burst into his life.

Perhaps he will actually save the Doctor this time.

He frowns as the patch of floor remains empty. The light fades, suggesting that the tardis has completed the process, and the Vadlott returns his attention to the controls, checking each one to make sure they are working. Surely he has not missed his chance to save someone!

“What’s going on?” he demands of the tardis. “What have you done? Has it worked or not?”

“Hello?” calls a tremulous female voice through the speakers of the ship as if in response to this. “Is someone there? Where am I?”

The Vadlott looks around sharply, in the end walking over to the transmat reception bay and waving his arms through it to make sure he hasn’t picked up some invisible life-form. “Who are you?” he demands sharply.

“I am Oswin Oswald,” the voice says almost defiantly. “I fought the Daleks.”

“Nobody fights the Daleks,” the Vadlott retorts dismissively as he returns to the console and checks everything again to try and find out what is actually happening. “They just die! Who are you really?”

“I told you.” The response is impatient, almost angry. “Oswin Oswald. And I’m human!”

Unable to provide an answer to any of the questions flying through his mind, the Vadlott runs a scan of the tardis, searching for life-signs. And there, in one of the most distant rooms in the entire ship, behind levels of security he had no idea were even possible, he finds a flicker of life.

“What did you do, old girl?” he demands of the tardis. “Why put her...?”

The scanner screen changes without him having to do anything, activating a security camera he had no idea he owned, so that he can see the inside of a heavily armoured room. And in the centre of that room, its body tied down by massive chains, he spots his new arrival.

“You’re a Dalek!” exclaims, jerking back from the screen as if a shot from the Dalek’s weaponry could reach him through it.

“And you’re judgemental!” the girl’s voice retorts. “You don’t know anything about me!”

“But – how are you doing that?” He approaches the console again, fascination overriding his fear. “You don’t even talk like a Dalek!”

“Oh, I think that’s your ship,” she replies. “I mean, in my head I sound like me, like Oswin Oswald always did, but when it came to the Doctor – well, I got the impression that he only knew for certain I was a Dalek once he saw me, but it took until that moment for him to be positive about it. So maybe, when I use communication devices, my voice sounds the way it always did. Or else your ship is just clever. Or possibly both.”

“So you admit you’re a Dalek?” he demands incredulously.

“Only on the outside.” On the screen, the Dalek twitches a little, making the chains creak. “I can accept that, just so long as I can believe I retained my human mind.”

“That’s – very sensible of you.” The Vadlott, meanwhile, is finding it difficult to believe he is having a conversation with his deadliest enemy. Particularly this conversation. And perhaps the tardis realises this, because she turns off the screen, leaving him to back away from the console and try to comprehend what has just taken place as Oswin speaks again. He admits to himself that it is easier to accept when he is not staring at the all-too-familiar shape.

“Thank you!” she says cheerfully. “I admit it took me a little while to adjust. But then I had to save the Doctor, so I couldn’t keep wallowing in misery, could I? I just had to deal with it. If I don’t, all of that Dalek programming and draining emotions nonsense might take over after all.”

“Presumably that’s why the tardis has locked you in a room that is completely Dalek-proof,” the Vadlott replies, having realised this from the information his ship provided. “No way for you to get out and, you know, misbehave.”

“Or kill you or anything, exactly.” Oswin’s voice is surprisingly light as she mentions this. “No, I’m not going anywhere, or not physically. But this space is incredible. What did you call it? The tardis?”

“Time and Relative Dimension in Space.” As he says the words, the Vadlott suddenly remembers that his ship is still hovering in the sky above the Asylum and sends them into the vortex before he can be confronted with any other surprises, also checking that the transmat is off to ensure that he has no additional guests appear on his ship. “Bigger on the inside than she is on the outside.”

“Ooh, I do love a good bit of transdimensional architecture.” Data flows across the screen, and the Vadlott has the suspicion that it’s Oswin rather than the tardis who is retrieving it. “The police box is an interesting choice for the exterior, though. Why that? I mean, your records don’t show you’ve spent any longer in 1950s England than any other time or place so it’s not as if it would fit anywhere else.”

“I like it,” the Vadlott admits. “And a perception filter keeps it out of sight when I don’t want people to see it, so most don’t even notice. Now,” he resumes control and clears her search for information, “it’s time we looked at getting you home. I’m sure your family will be worried sick about you!”

“What, like this?” Oswin sounds surprisingly uncertain. “As a Dalek? Do you have any idea how badly that will go down when I arrive?”

“Ah.” The Vadlott scratches his chin. “Yes. I take your point.”

“Besides,” Oswin adds, “the tardis will keep me safe. And you safe from me. I can’t get out, as you so brilliantly noted, and if I was to give in to some of my more Dalek-like tendencies, she could shut me down. Or at least break communications until I was, well, myself again. And then,” a longing tone creeps into her voice, “when I was back on that planet with the Daleks, I had to imagine everything. But here,” one of the switches flips up and down without the Vadlott touching it and he eyes it askance, “I can actually change things! Do things! Be, you know, in control of things again!”

“Just as long as you don’t try to send me crashing into the nearest moon or something,” the Vadlott complains, cancelling the order that would have sent them on an unplanned trajectory out of the vortex and into whatever planet happened to be passing. “This is my ship, Oswin, so please ask first!”

“Sorry.” She sounds truly apologetic and he softens, looking down at the information he is finding about Oswin Oswald and seeing that she was converted by the Daleks a year earlier. No wonder she is thrilled at the chance of being able to be in control of things again.

“Still,” he says slowly, “I’ve never had a Dalek as a companion before. It might be fun. It will certainly be different! And even if you can’t leave the tardis, I admit I would enjoy the company.”

“So what do I call you?” Oswin asks, and the relief in her voice is obvious.

“I’m the Vadlott.”

“Not the Doctor? But I thought, from what the tardis showed me...”

“It’s complicated,” he interrupts. “I’ll save the story for another time. Or you can find out for yourself.”

“All right. Vadlott, may I ask a favour?”

“You are welcome to ask,” he teases.

“Would you mind awfully,” her discomfort carries across in her voice, “not mentioning that I’m a Dalek anymore? I’d like to forget for myself, and it’s difficult when you keep saying it.”

He smiles, understanding. “I can do that,” he promises. “Besides, Oswin is a lovely name. I would much rather use that anyway.”

“Oh, good! And Vadlott?”

“What now?”

“You have a kitchen, don’t you?”

“Four, at least count,” he says rather proudly. “What about it? Or them?”

“May I cook something? A soufflé?”

He realises that he will be the only one eating it, but decides not to mention the fact. “The kitchen – whichever one you choose to use – is at your disposal, Miss Oswin Oswald. Knock yourself out.”

Next Part

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