Title: Brave New World
It's all BBC...truly.
Rating right now is PG
The world was calm; her feet were firmly on the metallic floor and gravity existed.
Space was defined only as being…out there, separate. It wasn’t something to be interacted or experienced, just witnessed. Noise was at a minimum, discussions occurred.
The world changed; gravity diminished. Shouts and screams, pleads and promises. Her feet floated off the ground. Space was something through which they were being hurtled. No longer witnessed, it became their challenge.
Through the view screen, Tegan Jovanka watched the larger spaceship become smaller, watched the distance between where they were and where it was widen. Turlough’s hand closed on hers, a momentary grounding. Her heartbeat quickened, air was there; would it disappear? The Doctor grabbed her other hand and she was pulled to a seat; gravity returned…seatbelt, surface.
Streaks of debris and dust bounced against the view port; the larger spaceship was speeding away. Tegan’s breathing became quicker, harsher; her mind disembodied; the lump in her throat nearly suffocated her.
“No. Oh no.”
Her knuckles turned white as she gripped the seat. Her heartbeat was all she heard, louder and louder, faster and faster.
Then strangely she saw two planets: one grey rock, the other green and blue and brown. Immediately one was home, the other a wasteland.
“Pull on the controls!”
The Doctor’s voice was hard, insistent; she felt like there wasn’t enough air. Turlough pulled himself into a chair and strapped in as the Doctor mirrored his actions. Tension made their bodies hard; both of their arms shook from the force, from pulling on the controls. The rock remained dead in front of the ship; their course didn’t waver. “Little atmosphere, but…” the Doctor shouted.
“Slingshot!” Turlough cried. For a moment more Tegan watched the grey rock ball remain dead in their sights; the ship turned, but then the view port moved, the nose of the craft moved. The colorful planet came into full view and their speed had increased.
Nearer and nearer, the planet’s surface clarified. Mountains and streams, flat, dirt, ice and clouds. Desperation was shouted in body language of the males in front of her.
“Get in the back with Tegan.” The order was given, spoken harshly.
“But-“Turlough’s voice was louder, higher in pitch.
“Now! No arguments!”
Turlough looked at him for a moment more and then rose, half in shock, half in reaction. “I’m a pilot.”
“Then you know it’s safer in the back – go!”
She felt her seatbelt released and Turlough pulled her by the hand as he moved past her. Steam and red were everywhere on the view port.
Tegan was pulled to the back of the pod and strapped into the only support board. Turlough faced her, covered her body with his and attempted to tie himself to the board and her.
“Doctor!” Tegan could see his body against the red, all that red. She could see him clearly past Turlough’s shoulders. Turlough’s breathing was hard and fast, near her brow.
“Hold onto the board, Tegan,” he instructed.
“Doctor!” She reached out to him, past Turlough, past the board handles. The Doctor was blond and dark, a brooding figure against the burning, the flames on the view port. “What about you!?”
He glanced over his shoulder, a small sad smile on his face; the glance was slow and long and sad and… She could see the resignation, the pain, the understanding and the sorrow. “Brave heart, Tegan.” Words said quietly, yet it was like a shot.
“No!” She knew that look; she knew those words. “No!” She tried to reach for the supports. “No; let me go! Doctor! Come with us!”
“I’ve gotten you both into this.” Tegan could hear the power in the tone of voice, a power that wasn’t to be questioned. It was in symphony with the roar around them. “I’m truly sorry; forgive me.”
Clouds now against the view port, heavy bloodshot fireclouds parting to reveal a green planet dangerously close.
“Wake up, Tegan.”
Tegan heard the words as she rocketed upright out of a dead sleep. She was immediately enveloped in Turlough’s arms. The shaking followed and she drew a shaky breath as his embrace lightly held her. “No…oh no…”
“It’s all right, Tegan,” he reassured. His voice was deadened in the rock and cement that surrounded them.
She felt the familiar cool of his shirt against her cheek. For a moment, she couldn’t breathe and her chest felt like it was going to explode. Then, as his hands slowly rubbed her shoulders, air became present for her to breathe again. “Hell’s teeth…” she complained in a whisper. The curse made his chest rumble with laughter. “It was bad enough living through it once. What bloody part of my mind wants to relive it over and over all the time?”
“The Doctor went for medication.”
“I’ve told him I don’t want those damned meds,” she responded.
“The Doctor has returned with said damned meds.” In the mostly dark the ruin afforded them, the Doctor looked taller. His voice was steady and calm, as per usual. Tegan frowned and shook her head forcefully. As the small fire in the corner of the room flared just a little, she could see the pinched expressions on their faces, the pain in Turlough’s stance, and the ragged look of the Doctor’s clothes. There was the hunger tightness of skin; the perpetual tiredness of just living was etched into their bodies. It made her take a deep breath; the nightmare became real, but she fought against that reality.
“It was just a nightmare. It’s easier than being awake any day,” Tegan groused. “But I’m not taking those meds. I know you can become dependent on stuff like that. No way. I’m not becoming an addict on a dead planet; that’s all I need.”
The Doctor opened his mouth and then began to laugh. By the time he knelt in front of her, his face looked younger and less stressed. “These are the equivalent of baby aspirin on Earth,” he said with a chuckle. “They aren’t habit forming.”
“They aren’t?” Tegan sighed.
“That’s why you’ve been fighting them?” Turlough continued to chuckle as he painfully moved away from her and all but collapsed back against the wall. He shimmied for a moment, moving his left side slowly and then relaxed. “I know many people who would welcome addiction in a situation like this. Why be completely conscious…”
It was at that moment that Tegan decided she wanted to kill them, again. That had to be the third time that week.
“They’re quite safe,” the Doctor agreed. His smile had faltered a little as she began to struggle out of the cocoon of the Doctor’s tattered coat and a blanket. Turlough reached out to stop her, but she was on her feet. He couldn’t reach her then.
She stumbled out the door into the chilly predawn air. Turlough’s call didn’t stop her. The scenery outside the door stopped her dead in her tracks; it always did.
It could have been suburban Brisbane. Or rather: suburban Brisbane after a war.
Hulking half there, half gone shells of homes…roofs and chimneys…trees and something like bikes in driveways. There were car-like vehicles, mailboxes, sidewalks and streets. Even street signs remained. The only thing that was truly missing was the people. In one driveway, there was a tricycle on its back. In another driveway, there was a swing… She always had a hard time looking at them, but made herself stare; if only to etch it into her mind. Tegan Jovanka had always been a realist; this was reality, now. She would force the lonely, the scarred scenery into her mind to make it solid; it was the only way she knew how to handle it.
The Doctor called the planet Andromeda Two. He had explained to her that it was like Earth, very like Earth. The populace had been humanoid, but lived longer than humans. He knew the planet well.
“It had been on course to become a galactic force to be reckoned with, but before they could sprout their space legs; they annihilated themselves. A genetic bomb along with conventional warfare. No, Tegan…don’t worry, it’s quite safe. The genetic bug died out after the population died. There were no survivors.”
“And,” she had asked. “…when did this all occur?”
He had found the answer by looking at nature-plant intrusion. “About a hundred years ago by this planet. Sociologists and archeologists will be here in about two hundred years, or was it two hundred and fifty years…good Rassilon, I should have brought my diary.”
The absence of any other life except plants and small animals always brought Tegan up dead. She leaned against the wall by the door and let the now familiar shaking begin. So Earth-like…so devastated. If she listened hard enough, she swore she heard children playing.
“Tegan.” The Doctor appeared near her; he looked in the opposite direction and then turned to see her. She could see the easing of the muscles in his shoulders. He sighed heavily.
“I haven’t gone far,” she stated. “But it would serve you right…make a joke out of-“
“You have to admit we need humor, Tegan,” he stated with a long exhale and a nod.
“You weren’t bloody good at it in the best of times,” she said.
The Doctor’s quiet breathing remained even; she hadn’t succeeded in a reaction from him. “Take the meds while I am gone, please?”
She tilted her head back to look skyward.
“That’s what these dreams are about,” he specified. “Reliving our crash here; they’re increased in frequency since we’ve made the decision to survey the area.”
“I still say we all ought to go- not. Just. You.” Tegan groused. She had a headache; it was right between the eyes. The Doctor mirrored her stance, his hands flat against the cement of the wall, and his arse resting firmly on his palms.
He shook his head before he spoke. “No, no, Tegan. Turlough is improving; he will improve; he will and is recovering from his injuries. But bouncing him across rugged terrain now might reverse that situation.” He laid his hand ever so lightly on her shoulder.
“I’m not worried about him or me, you know—I’m worried about you.”
The Doctor bit his lip and levered away from the crumbling wall. Sunrise was peeking over the horizon; not that it would make the scenery any less…troublesome to her. “Come on…” he urged. “I have to get the maps together.”
“Do you need to leave today?” She asked the question as she started to follow him. The path was a well-known one now, but the rubble made it slow going. At the end of the small street, she and he turned right. The almost whole chemist shop stood on the next corner; it was across the street from a large brick building. Almost daily, it seemed the pile of bricks in front of it increased. As she slowly climbed over the pile, he responded.
“I should have left earlier. Weather may be an issue.”
She humphed as he reached to lift her down from the last of the bricks. Tegan tried to tell him no, wincing as he stretched his arm muscles, but he did it anyway. “Are you still planning on being gone three weeks?”
“Tegan.” Ah, she thought, there was the old exasperation; it warmed her to hear it and she made a mental tally note in her favor. It reminded her of days gone by -- a lifetime, a month ago. “If the maps are correct, the coast is less than 100 miles away. Then there is locating the science center north of here. I think three weeks is pushing it a bit.”
She sighed heavily as they started on their way again. As they passed the cistern that she and the Doctor had improvised, she commented: “It’s the last of the snow, I think; it’s getting warmer. I’ll have to put in what snow I can find today.”
He nodded as he strolled on down the lane; it might have been Piccadilly with all the attention he was giving their surroundings. “There’s additional small game and berries in the root cellar,” he offered in response. He stopped and wearily looked at her. “Are you proficient with the bow yet?”
“I’m not going to starve,” she said. “Something else will have to kill me, but not lack of food.”
His smile was faint, but heartfelt. “So…”
“We’ll be fine,” she stressed. Truly, in her mind, it wasn’t the arrows or the bows or anything; it was them separating.
“The arrows aren’t…well…if you run across a thick skinned or very large animal, Tegan…”
“I know; and that’s the last of our worries.”
“Hmm,” he sighed as they came to one of the few buildings left completely standing. Some of the façade had disappeared, the face of the guardian gargoyles still stared at her from the top of the piles of rubble.
The gas was still good, she thought numbly as they trotted up the steps; the cars still went. The planets were free from trouble; household gardens were all around, now back to their roots. Clothes stored indoors were remarkably well preserved. The landscaped except for some bomb damage and natural degradation, was untouched and animals still roamed. All in all, it could have been much worse. But to her, being surrounded by ghosts of civilization was worse than anything. And being separated from the TARDIS was even worse.
“Not too far off of the shipping lanes by light speed, but about six months by sub-light propulsion.”
“Which is all that they would have had,” Turlough had offered one night by the fire.
The Doctor was standing at the large oak table just inside the large foyer of the library. She stared at his left shoulder as she drew near.
Consciousness, blessed thing, had come rushing at her like a train. She blinked her eyes open, only to see Turlough lying in a growing pool of blood at her feet. The front of the pod, ship, whatever, was gone…completely gone. Through her tears, she realized she was relatively, miraculously untouched. It was just a bit of time to staunch Turlough’s bleeding. She couldn’t tell the extent of his injuries, but his left leg seemed useless. A tourniquet was applied as quickly as she could and his color grew no paler. He moaned; he was alive. She stumbled through the wreckage, disoriented, out of sorts. She remembered calling for the Doctor, pleading that he was alive. Then she saw something through the wreckage: skin. A bare shoulder. His right arm was pinned by instrumentation, orange blood was everywhere, but he was conscious, moaning in pain.
She touched that shoulder, her fingers feeling the rough sewing job she had done of the skin and the clothes.
“It’s healed,” he reassured. She withdrew her hand as if burned. He still shied away from touch in his own way. “Now, I’m leaving the map with less of the topographic nuances with you and Turlough. If I’m not back in six weeks time, I want you and him to travel inland.”
“To that…antenna thing.”
“That’s right.” He puffed a breath and subconsciously rubbed his shoulder. “It’s a bit of a hike through deciduous rain forest, but that plateau would be our best second chance.”
“You really think there’s a rocket on that launch pad? At that science center?”
He nodded as he looked at the map once more before he started to roll it. “Turlough’s bandages should be changed every third day unless dirty. If he spikes a fever, use the willow bark extract.”
She reluctantly took the rolled map. The Doctor tapped her on the top of her head with his copy. “Have him walk on that leg every day.”
“I know.” The response was hotly said.
“The first row contains books on edible plants. Lots of pictures. You ought to be able to match them with plants self-propagating around here.”
“We’ve discussed that,” she said with bite. “Really – if – “
“I trust you implicitly, Tegan,” he said gently. At her look, he shook his head forcefully. “Take care of him. I’ll be fine. You can’t take care of us both…”
“It’s suicide to do what you’re doing.”
“No, it isn’t.” He turned to her fully. “It’s common sense. I’m the perfect one to go. If something happens to me physically, I rest for a day or two and am right as rain-“
“You’re not a tool.”
He stared at her for a moment and drew a deep breath. His youthful face was slightly lined now and a shock of white hair was tucked about his temples. Blue eyes once sky blue were now dark and troubled. It had been a month of nursing Turlough back to health; a month of recovery for him; a month of her wondering if they were both going to die and leave her alone; and a month of working sunrise to night just to find basics: food, water, shelter, and clothing. All this, she thought, in a shell of technology that was useless.
“I am responsible for this, Tegan. It was me that argued with Colonel Tirn; it was me that got us put on that pod and ejected. He didn’t care if we lived or died.” There was a warning in his voice. “No matter how loudly you yell; it won’t change my thoughts in the matter.”
She closed her eyes in exasperation. “And if you never come back?”
“Go to that antenna, get it working. I have faith that Turlough can manage that. And wait. We can’t do that right away; our best bet of escape or power is near a water source and that science center is near the ocean.”
“And if nothing works?” Her voice was tighter; she could feel anger bubbling through.
“I do not accept that possibility,” the Doctor replied harshly. He gathered up his map. “Regardless, something will work out – brave heart. It won’t be easy for any of us, but we will survive.”
Tegan put down her map and stepped forward. Her embrace was quick, almost sneakingly quick. As before, when he hadn’t initiated the physical touch, he started: physically jumped. Within a heartbeat, he relaxed and he returned the embrace with an avuncular one of his own. “Take care of yourself; I wish you wouldn’t go. We should stick together.”
“Then we are at odds,” he said with a chuckle. His arms tightened and then released. She could feel the mental push, the urge, for her to take a step back; again a familiar feeling. She had needed touch since the crash; needed the reassurance of them living, breathing. Turlough was fine with returning and initiating the touches; the Doctor avoided them. Still, he gave her a half smile and then let it crumple as tears spilled down her cheeks. He reached out and caught one on the tip of his forefinger.
“Oh Tegan…I need my coordinator. Turlough needs you. Don’t cry, please?” He said quietly. “It makes this…very hard indeed.”
An explanation, not a chastisement. He stepped back and stared at his finger- wet with her tears as she sniffed hard. His thumb rubbed the wetness into his skin with much attention and then he turned, gathered up the maps and slowly walked across the floor. The morning light was now above the ruins outside; for just a moment, he looked unbearably old, yet so young. “Come on,” he called back and held out his hand to her.
She pulled the map from the table and joined him.