1. At the Gates
Twelve hours earlier in the morning on the outskirts of Riseford, the TARDIS arrived on the planet Saron – an underwater planet. The ship landed on the sea bed, groaning as it made a loud thump to complete materialisation.
Inside the TARDIS, Jamie and Zoe stood around the console with the Doctor. He pressed switches and buttons, before looking to the screen to see what was outside.
“So, where have you landed us this time Doctor?” asked Jamie.
“I don’t know, Jamie,” the Doctor replied, puzzled. “Just checking the TARDIS instruments now.”
The Doctor looked to the console before looking up at the scanner again. His face beamed with delight.
“Why Jamie?! Don’t you recognise it? We’re back on the planet Saron!”
“Saron?!” Jamie said astonished. “That wee planet where it’s all oceans and sea. And underneath there are castles and villages.”
“Hence why we seem to have landed on the sea bed,” Zoe giggled. “For a moment, I thought the TARDIS sank into one of Earth’s oceans.”
“Yes Zoe, that’s the environmental controls adapting to its external environment,” explained the Doctor. “The TARDIS isn’t used to being somewhere underwater.”
“You said you and Jamie came here before?” she enquired.
“Aye! Twice we did,” Jamie answered. “We first came here when it was me, the Doctor, Ben and Polly. We were fighting those sword fish. The second time we came was when the Doctor, me…”
“And Victoria,” Zoe interrupted. “The girl that came before me.”
“Aye and Victoria,” Jamie said. “The three of us came here and we had trouble with that axe of madness. Do you no remember, Doctor?”
“Yes Jamie,” the Doctor replied. “And I’d rather not remember that occasion if you don’t mind. It was all rather embarrassing.”
“So this planet’s not so friendly then,” Zoe remarked.
“Oh no! Far from it,” the Doctor told her. “This planet’s absolutely splendid!”
“Aye, I heard that once before,” Jamie retorted wryly.
“Oh Jamie,” the Doctor scolded.
“I must agree with Jamie, Doctor,” Zoe said. “Since you two came here before, you’ve found danger, haven’t you. Like we normally do whether it’s Daleks; Cybermen; Quarks; Ice Warriors; Yeti…”
“Or any other wee beastie,” Jamie finished.
The Doctor checked the TARDIS instruments again as he heard them.
“Oh you two really are jumping to conclusions,” the Doctor told them. “According to the chronometers, we’ve arrived somewhere in the latter half of the planet’s history. It’s at its most harmonious and peaceful.”
“The last time we went somewhere peaceful we found ourselves bumping into the Dominators and their Quarks,” Zoe reminded the Doctor. “That won’t happen again, will it?”
“No of course non’t,” the Doctor rebuked. “Now I suggest we have a look around. Let’s go! There’s no time to lose!”
The Doctor pressed the door controls on the console and the doors opened. Jamie and Zoe reluctantly followed as the Doctor eagerly stepped out.
Once they were outside, the Doctor stretched his arms out as if to breathe in the fresh air.
“Ah!” he breathed. “Lovely; lovely; lovely!”
“You cannae no breathe fresh air down here, Doctor,” Jamie told him. “Only fresh water.”
“It doesn’t hurt to be polite, Jamie,” the Doctor said.
Then the Doctor recalled something. He excused himself and went back inside his TARDIS. Zoe and Jamie stood outside, looking around on the sea bed.
“It feels so strange,” Zoe remarked. “Yet incredible at the same time. It’s almost like being close to an underwater kingdom like Atlantis.”
“Aye, you’ve been to Atlantis then,” Jamie said knowingly.
“Oh Jamie!” Zoe rebuked him. “You know as much as I do that Atlantis is a mythical place. Isn’t that right, Doctor?”
The Doctor had just come out of the TARDIS. He was carrying some things under both his arms.
“What’s that, Zoe?” he asked her.
“Oh yes, Atlantis! Jamie and I went there once.”
“Aye we did,” Jamie added. “That was like my first proper adventure in the TARDIS.”
Zoe looked at the Doctor and Jamie increduosuly, seeing the sincerity on their faces. “You’re making this up, aren’t you?”
“Oh you nae believe us, do you?” Jamie teased her.
“When we get to one of the nearest cities, perhaps we might change your mind, Zoe,” the Doctor suggested.
“Do you not know where we are, Doctor?” Jamie asked.
“Oh not specifically, Jamie,” the Doctor said. “But I do think we’re close to one of the major kingdoms. The ocean we’re in isn’t deep blue as it should be.”
“Yes, the water’s also stale as well,” Zoe commented. “And a strange light’s being protruded in the opposite direction.” She then had a thought. “How exactly are we breathing, Doctor?”
“Oh that’s the TARDIS forcefield protecting us,” the Doctor told her. “I haven’t switched it off, Zoe. You and Jamie will need these to wear.”
The Doctor then handed Jamie and Zoe some scuba-diving head gear. They each took a helmet and began to put it on.
“Now, once you have the helmets on and fitted in the oxygen tubes through the mouthpieces,” the Doctor told them, “we should be able to breathe easily without the TARDIS forcefield. There’s an endless supply of oxygen in each headset you’re wearing. I’ve filled them up.”
“Aye we wear these like we’re walking on the moon,” Jamie remarked.
“Exactly right, Jamie,” the Doctor approved. “You remembered.”
The trio had their scuba-diving gear all in place on their heads whilst Zoe fired more questions at the Doctor.
“Doctor, what is the planet Saron? What’s it like? What are its people like?”
“Oh Saron used to belong to the Saronians,” the Doctor replied. “They were a war-faring race who fought against the Ventrax. Long ago, it was an ancient civilisation. Most of the Saronians died after their long-suffering war.”
“But Saron isn’t like that anymore is it, Doctor?” Zoe asked, curious.
“Oh no, Zoe,” the Doctor told her. “Not anymore. Saron by this time has been taken over and is populated by humans.”
“Humans?” Zoe said, surprised.
“What time are we in then, Doctor?” Jamie asked.
“Far out from your time, Jamie,” the Doctor replied. “About mid 23rd century I think. Or earlier. I’m never entirely sure. But it said something like that on the TARDIS chronometers.”
“Aye well, if you’re not sure what date,” Jamie began asking, “ought we to be going out if it’s not safe…?”
“Oh I’m sure it’ll be alright,” the Doctor tried to reassure him. “We can always ask the people of this planet where and when we are, can’t we? Besides your people are bound to populate this planet anyway. With the advances of science and technology Earth has had over the centuries.”
The Doctor double-checked to see that he, Jamie and Zoe had their headsets fitted in securely and that they were breathing the oxygen they had provided for them.
“So, we’re going to walk out onto this sea bed with this head gear on and make our way to one of the cities,” Zoe remarked.
“That’s right, Zoe,” the Doctor replied. “Once I’ve switched off the forcefield of course.”
“But we’ll get drenched,” Zoe pointed out. “You may have saved us from oxygen starvation, but our clothes will get wet.”
With that, the Doctor took out a remote control and pressed a button on it. There was a moment’s silence.
“There you are, you see,” the Doctor said cheerfully. “Forcefield’s off. Nothing to worry about. And as you can see, we’re completely dry. No clothes drenched.”
The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe felt themselves all over. They found themselves dry despite being underwater. They spoke to each other with the microphones on in their scuba-diving headsets.
“You knew this would happen didn’t you, Doctor,” smirked Zoe.
“Yes Zoe, I did,” the Doctor grinned. “Just wanted to give you the element of surprise. It seems I managed to succeed.”
“I should have guessed,” Zoe chuckled. “Jamie didn’t panic like he usually does when something terrible is about to happen.”
“Oh aye!” Jamie agreed. Then he gave a puzzled “Hey?”
“See I told you! It’s perfectly safe,” the Doctor said. “Look! The ground’s solid enough!”
The Doctor jumped up and down on the sea bed for emphasis. He then gave out a cry as he fell through the ground. “Oh! Ah! AH!!!!”
Jamie and Zoe quickly came round to the Doctor’s aid as they pulled him up from the ground. The Doctor breathed a sigh of relief once he was back on firm ground.
“Oh thank you, Jamie; Zoe,” the Doctor said relieved. “I was nearly lost then.”
“Aye well just don’t jump up and down like that again,” Jamie told him. “We’re not on normal ground, remember?”
Another thought then struck Zoe. “Won’t we get drenched when we enter a normal environment in a nearby city?”
“Well, we can always find out when we get there,” the Doctor suggested. “Now come on, you two! Let’s get there before closing hours are up!”
The Doctor walked on ahead with Jamie and Zoe behind him. They found themselves walking very slowly as they pushed through the water.
“Hey Doctor!” Jamie cried out. “This water’s…really hard to push through.”
“Yes Jamie,” the Doctor grinned. “It’s like walking and swimming at the same time, isn’t it?”
“Well, at least that’s normal,” Zoe said. “It proves we’re underwater.”
The time travellers trudged on as they made their way to the nearest city.
They don’t realise that someone was nearby. A man named Albert who was in his late thirties. He walked very slowly on the sea bed, looking out to see a underwater kingdom before him.
“Life never-ending, isn’t it,” he declared. “No random sights to be seen.”
Later on, as the TARDIS trio trudged their way through the waters, Jamie began to shiver.
“Ach Doctor,” Jamie began, “can we stop a wee minute? We’ve been walking for the past half hour. And my boots feel they’ve been filled with water.”
“No, no, Jamie,” the Doctor retorted. “That’s just your imagination.”
“Aye well,” Jamie replied, “my legs are still getting cold.”
“Serves you right for wearing a kilt underwater,” Zoe laughed. “You’re bound to get cold down here.”
“Hey, I’m a Highlander,” Jamie said proudly. “And the son of a piper. I’m happy to be wearing a kilt.”
The Doctor then looked up ahead to see. “Why look over there! Up ahead, both of you!”
They all looked and gave a gasp of astonishment.
“Hey Doctor!” Jamie remarked. “Look at the size of that thing!”
“Yes Jamie,” the Doctor agreed. “It is a big one!”
“A city!” Zoe exclaimed. “A huge city! Fantastic!”
“What a wonderful sight!” the Doctor declared.
“It’s like a castle with lots of stars pinned on its turrets,” Jamie commented.
“Can we reach it?” Zoe asked. “How far away are we from it?”
“Oh not far,” the Doctor said. “You know, I’m not sure whether it’s the city of Riseford or the kingdom of Decacious.”
“Aye well, let’s just get there as soon as possible,” Jamie suggested. “My feet are nearly chilled to the bone.”
“Yes, well come on,” the Doctor concurred. “We haven’t got far to go. Let’s walk down that path.”
The Doctor led on as he, Jamie and Zoe walked down the path to reach the city ahead.
After walking down the path for quite some time, the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe finally came to where the entrance of the city was. The Doctor stopped, looking ahead.
“Oh no!” he said, worried. “Oh dear!”
“What is it, Doctor?” Zoe asked.
“Gates,” he told her. “We can’t get into the city with the gates closed.”
“Ah well, it’s alright,” Jamie said confidently. “We just call out for the gatekeeper to let us in.”
“But there isn’t anybody here to meet us, Jamie,” Zoe told him. “No-one.”
“No,” the Doctor said thoughtfully. “Exactly. No-one is here to meet us. In fact…”
Jamie noticed the look on the Doctor’s face. “Hey, you’re worried about something, Doctor. Come on! Don’t keep us in the dark! Tell us what the matter is!”
Gradually, the Doctor asked, “Well, have you two noticed any signs of life since we’ve arrived here in this underwater world we’re in?”
Zoe was puzzled. “Well, not particularly, Doctor. Why do you ask?”
“Well, I was wondering,” the Doctor began. “Since we’re close to a city, we should be able to hear people’s voices nearby. Echoing from within perhaps.”
“Aye, but there is no sound,” Jamie remarked. “No people talking.”
“Perhaps they’re all asleep,” Zoe suggested. “Perhaps it’s early morning.”
“Possibly,” the Doctor said. “But…has it occurred to you two that it’s only us living in this ocean world at the moment? Us humans. No other creatures among us.”
“What do you mean, Doctor?” Zoe asked.
“Aye, I see what you mean,” Jamie realised. “No fish or whales. No sharks!”
“Oh I see,” Zoe began to realise. “We’ve encountered none of the underwater life we would expect in this ocean.”
“Exactly,” the Doctor said. “Now what could have happened to the planet’s underwater inhabitants other than humans?”
“Well, maybe Zoe is right, Doctor,” Jamie said. “Perhaps the fish, whales and shark are asleep as much as the people inside the city. It makes sense, doesn’t it?”
“I wonder,” the Doctor said unconvinced. “There’s something more to it than that.”
Zoe then let out a gasp as she saw something nearby. The Doctor and Jamie turned to her.
“Zoe, are you alright?” the Doctor asked. “What’s the matter?”
“Did you see something?” Jamie added.
“There!” Zoe pointed. “Over there! Behind the foliage! I saw something move!”
“A man? A woman?” the Doctor enquired.
“I don’t know. It could be,” Zoe said.
Jamie stepped forward as if to advance or pounce on what Zoe saw.
“Hey you!” he called. “Come on out of there! Wherever you are!”
“Jamie, be careful!” the Doctor warned him.
But the three saw the person that came out slowly from behind the foliage. The Doctor and Zoe joined beside Jamie to take a better look at this person. It was Albert. He’d been following them as well as hiding behind the foliage.
“It’s a man,” Zoe said. “I thought it was.”
“Aye and that proves it!” Jamie added. “We’re not alone!”
The Doctor stepped forward to greet Albert. “Hello! I’m the Doctor. And these are my friends, Jamie and Zoe.”
Albert didn’t answer.
“It’s alright,” the Doctor reassured him. “We’re friends. We mean no harm.”
But still the man didn’t answer. The Doctor and his friends were disturbed by this.
“Doctor? He is there, isn’t he?” asked Zoe.
“Oh yes Zoe, he is there,” the Doctor replied. “He’s just not answering.”
“Aye well, perhaps we ought to leave him,” Jamie suggested. “We must get those gates open!”
Jamie began to make his way over to the gates. But then the man Albert spoke out abruptly, causing the Doctor and his companions to jump on edge.
“Charoc!” he shouted. “Where did you go, Charoc? Charoc?!!!”
The Doctor and his friends then saw the man begin to cry and sob bitterly. They were puzzled by this strange outburst.
“He’s crying, Doctor,” Zoe observed. “Almost as if he were in pain.”
“Aye!” Jamie agreed. “And who’s this Charoc he’s talking about? A pet?”
The Doctor addressed the man again. “We want to help you! If you will let us…”
“Let me out!” Albert shouted. “Let me out of this place!” He paused before he said, “Where’s Charoc? Where’s my pet?!”
Jamie nudged the Doctor. “I was right, Doctor. This Charoc is his pet.”
“Yes, yes, Jamie,” the Doctor said impatiently. “Don’t keep interrupting!”
“Yes what is it, Zoe?”
They all looked where was Zoe was pointing up at the sky. They became astonished at what they saw.
“Hey, isn’t that…isn’t that…?” Jamie struggled to say it.
“Rain clouds,” Zoe said it for him.
“Aye, rain clouds,” Jamie agreed.
“Underwater rain clouds,” the Doctor remarked.
“But that doesn’t happen normally, does it?” Zoe checked.
“No,” the Doctor answered. “Though in your world it would normally happen since rain comes from the sky rather than in the oceans themselves. This is pretty unusual. Rain clouds don’t appear in the water underwater.”
“Doctor, I agree with Jamie,” Zoe began. “We should…”
“Jamie, look out!” the Doctor cried.
But it was too late. Jamie got knocked on the head by Albert attacking him.
“Doctor; Zoe…” Jamie gasped.
What he attempted to say was cut short as he collapsed to the ground, falling unconscious.
“You’ve killed him!” Zoe said angrily to Albert.
But Zoe got knocked on the head by Albert too, collapsing to the ground, falling unconscious. He snarled like a wild animal. Albert eventually turned his attention to the Doctor who backed away from him.
“Oh my giddy aunt!” the Doctor cried.
Albert eventually lunged for the Doctor and knocked him out wildly on the head. The Doctor collapsed to the floor once this happened, falling unconscious like Jamie and Zoe did. Albert snarled as he attempted to make a final blow at the three TARDIS travellers.
Whilst the TARDIS trio were unconscious, Albert was suddenly stopped in his final attack by an approaching figure. It was his Charoc who growled ferociously like a lion. Albert was scared out of his wits as he ran away. Whilst Albert ran away, Charoc turned her attention to the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe.
Eventually, the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe woke up as they recovered from their attack by Albert. The Doctor checked on Jamie and Zoe.
“Jamie; Zoe? Are you alright?”
His two friends nodded their heads as the Doctor helped them to their feet. They then saw a lion-like figure standing in front of them. They became terrified once they saw her.
“It’s a massive cat!” Jamie remarked.
“It’s a lion, Jamie!” Zoe told him.
“A lion underwater, is it?!” Jamie said, disbelivingly.
“Ssh, you two!” the Doctor hushed.
The trio kept silent for a moment as they took in the lion-person’s presence. The lion-person stood there, growling ferociously.
“Hey, I don’t like the way it’s growling,” Jamie said. “Do you no think we ought to defend ourselves?”
“It’s a ‘she’, Jamie,” Zoe told him.
“Well you can see it’s a female! Not an it!”
“Oh aye, but look at her! She’s all hairy and wild!”
“Yes, it does look like some kind of a lion,” the Doctor commented. “But appearances can be deceiving. It might be some wild fish.”
“Well I’ve never seen a wild fish look like a wild lion before!” Jamie retorted.
The three TARDIS travellers were silent again as the lion kept on growling.
After a while, Zoe said, “She’s just standing there. Looking at us.”
“It’s making out whether we can be trusted,” the Doctor remarked. “Checking to see that we’re not her enemy or anything.”
“Or probably deciding whether to eat us or not,” Jamie suggested.
“I do hope not,” Zoe said. She then called out to the lion, “Hello! Can you understand us?”
“What are ye doing!?” Jamie admonished her.
The lion-woman then growled loudly. It wasn’t a fierce growl. It was more reassuring.
“I…I think she understood you, Zoe,” the Doctor said, pleased.
“Well, that’s a good thing surely,” said a hopeful Zoe.
“But that’s crazy,” Jamie said dismissively. “How can it understand us? Can it speak too?”
An awkward moment of silence ensued as the animal kept growling. The Doctor stepped forward to speak to her.
“Who are you?” the Doctor asked.
The lion let out a loud roar before she spoke, “I am Charoc! I exist in this reality!”
“Reality?” the Doctor enquired.
“The reality,” Charoc began to reply, growling, “that all men and women desire for!”
A moment of silence ensued.
“Hey Doctor?” Jamie asked. “What’s she talking about?”
“I don’t know, Jamie,” the Doctor said thoughtfully. “But at least we’re getting through to her.” He then asked Charoc, “What is it you want from us?”
“I am here to warn you!” Charoc growled.
“Oh aye!” Jamie said apprehensively. “Warn us about what?”
“Of the danger that lurks here!” Charoc growled. “You are close to it! Even now!”
“Ach it’s all riddles with her, Doctor!” Jamie grunted. “All riddles!”
“Take care of the warning I have just given you!” Charoc said, growling more fiercely. “I shall still be around to watch you!”
Charoc then began to leave.
“Wait, hang on!” The Doctor became frightened. “Where are you going?”
“I must leave!” she replied. “My time with you is over! I have already rescued you from the mad man! Your time must take place!”
“But what are you?” Zoe cried desperately.
Charoc answered, “I am what is of your past…and of your future.”
With that, Charoc was gone. The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe were alone again.
The Doctor became thoughtful again. “What is of our past…and of our future,” he repeated Charoc’s words.
“Hey? What did she mean by that, Doctor?” Jamie asked.
“I don’t know, Jamie,” the Doctor said. “It doesn’t seem to make sense at the moment. None of this seems to make sense.”
“She said she was warning us,” Zoe reminded them. “Are we in great danger, Doctor?”
“I’m not sure,” the Doctor answered. “I wonder.” He paused for a moment. “I think it might be best if we made our way further into this city and ask for answers from people. Perhaps somebody else might know of this…um…”
“Charoc, Doctor,” Zoe told him, spelling out the words of her name. “C.H.A.R.O.C.”
“Yes Zoe,” the Doctor replied. “I did know that thank you very much.”
“Hey Doctor,” Jamie interjected. “Had you no realised? We’re on the other side of those gates.”
“Yes Jamie,” the Doctor said. “I wondered when you’d realise that.”
“We were on the other side before then, weren’t we?” Jamie enquired. “We were attacked by that mad man. Aye! The mad man she called him! That Charoc! So where’s he got to? And how we get here on the other side of those gates? Did she carry us in here?”
“Well, to answer you questions in order,” the Doctor began, “Charoc must’ve scared the man who knocked us on the heads of course. She is a lion after all. And she must have opened the gates for us before carrying us in here. That seems likely, doesn’t it?”
“Aye but the man said that Charoc was his pet,” Jamie pointed out.
Zoe then interrupted Jamie and the Doctor as they talked, nudging the Doctor as she pointed in a far-off direction.
“Doctor!” she cried.
“Yes Zoe, what is it?” the Doctor replied.
“Look! There’s that rain cloud again!” she warned them.
The TARDIS travellers then felt the rain pouring down upon them as the cloud was over their heads. They were startled once they felt the cold water pour down on top of them.
“Oh!” the Doctor said wearingly. “This isn’t really good! I didn’t expect to be drenched today!”
“Aye, I should be used to this weather,” Jamie said. “Just as well it’s not Scottish weather where I come from.”
“And that’s not all the rain cloud brought along,” Zoe gasped. “Look!”
The three TARDIS travellers became appalled and horrified at what they saw. An army was marching towards them. But it was an army like no other.
“Doctor, what are they?” Jamie asked, afraid. “They’re skeletons! Walking skeletons!”
“Not just skeletons!” the Doctor told them. “They’re robots! Robot skeletons!”
“Robot skeletons!” Jamie scoffed. “Och, that’s ridiculous!”
The TARDIS trio then got a shock as they were fired upon by the robot skeletons.
“They’ve got crossbows,” Zoe cried. “One of them fired at us!”
At that moment, the leader of the skeleton army spoke out to them, gnashing its teeth. “Do not move! We are the Skeletrons! If you disobey, you will die!”
Jamie tugged at the Doctor and Zoe. “Come on! Let’s get away from here!”
“You’re right, Jamie!” the Doctor agreed. “Run!!!”
With that, they made a run for it. The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe headed for the city whilst the Skeletrons fired and chased after them.
The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe had been running for quite some time. They were still being chased by the Skeletrons. They began to feel drowsy.
“Doctor, please!” Zoe begged. “Can we stop a moment?! I’m so tired!”
“Aye!” Jamie added. “The rain is getting into my face! I cannae keep my eyes open!”
“No Jamie; No Zoe!” the Doctor cried. “Keep running! We can’t stop now!”
They nearly approached the city. They continued to be shot at profusely by the Skeletrons. The Doctor groaned and whimpered as he, Jamie and Zoe tripped and fell to the floor.
“Oh my giddy aunt!” he declared. “Oh crumbs!”
The Doctor helped Jamie and Zoe to get back onto their feet again before the Skeletron leader spoke out to them once more.
“You were warned! We shall kill you if you move again!”
The Skeletrons approached with the rain cloud above their heads as they attacked the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe. Eventually, the Skeletrons stopped marching. The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe became puzzled. It was then that the Skeletrons ran away.
“Retreat! Retreat!” barked the Skeletron leader.
The TARDIS travellers turned around to see a group of human soldiers in the city approach from behind. The soldiers fired upon the Skeletrons with their own crossbow laser weapons. The Skeletrons howled and shrieked as they retreated off into the distance.
Eventually, the human soldiers met up with the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe.
“Oh thank you! Thank you so much!” the Doctor said. “You don’t know how grateful we are! I’m the Doctor. And these are my friends, Jamie and Zoe…”
But the Doctor was interrupted as the leader of the human soldiers stepped forward and raised his weapon at him and his friends.
“You’re coming back with us! Don’t try anything or we’ll shoot you! Do you hear?”
The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe reluctantly raised their hands up in the air as they realised they were prisoners.
“Oh very well,” the Doctor said glumly. “If you insist.”
“Peaceful you said, Doctor,” Jamie scorned him.
“I knew this was too good to be true,” Zoe said unhappily.
Eventually, the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe were escorted by the human soldiers back into the city.
The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe soon found themselves inside a submarine. They were held under guard by the human soldiers, led by their captain who they later found out was called Carey. They noticed the submarine was journeying along the surface of the city.
“So where do you think they’re taking us?” Jamie asked.
“To the centre of the city I think,” Zoe said. “Where their leader is.”
“Aye, I wonder who their leader is,” Jamie remarked.
“It depends whether it’s a king, queen or emperor,” noted Zoe.
“Ach well, I hope it isn’t any one of them Duke of Cumberland types. Had enough to deal with him and his redcoats back in Scotland.”
“Ssh, Jamie,” the Doctor interrupted him. “I’m trying to concentrate.”
Jamie and Zoe saw that the Doctor was worried.
“Doctor, is something worrying you?” Zoe asked.
“Hmm? Oh I’m contemplating what’s been going on here,” the Doctor replied. “In this city and on this planet.”
“What were those monsters chasing after us then?” Jamie asked. “They looked like skeletons, but you said they were robots.”
“That’s right, Jamie,” the Doctor said. “Half skeleton-half machine. They were called Skeletrons, Jamie remember?”
“Have you met them before Doctor?” Zoe asked.
“No I haven’t,” the Doctor replied. “But they worry me. They appeared as soon as that rain cloud was above our heads.”
“Hey, you think they’re connected somehow,” Jamie wondered. “The rain and these Skeletrons.”
“Tell me, Jamie; Zoe,” the Doctor BEGAN. “What did you feel when the rain hit your faces but not your clothes?”
“Well, wet of course,” Jamie replied.
“Yes but…was it just that or was there something else?” the Doctor wanted to know.
Jamie and Zoe thought for a moment. They were unable to make out what the Doctor was on about at first.
Then it struck Zoe. “Yes! I remember now! The rain! When it touched my skin, it made me drowsy! Almost as if I wanted to go sleep.”
“Aye, I felt like that as well,” Jamie concurred. “When we were running, I didn’t want to keep on running anymore. I wanted to stop and fall to the ground. Not something that I would normally want to do.”
“That’s exactly how it felt for me,” the Doctor told them. “Although the effects may have been stronger on you two than they were on me. I was able to resist the temptation to sleep thankfully.”
“But how does this connect to the rain and those Skeletrons?” Jamie asked.
“I don’t know,” the Doctor replied. “Perhaps it doesn’t. Perhaps it could mean anything.”
“Doctor,” Zoe became puzzled. “That lion woman, Charoc. She mentioned something about existing in some reality that men and women desire for.”
“Aye, she came to give us a warning,” Jamie added. “About the danger we’re in. That we’re very close to it.”
“What did she mean by that, Doctor?” Zoe wanted to know.
“That made me wonder too, Jamie; Zoe,” the Doctor told them. “I wish I had all the answers.”
“You mean you don’t know,” Jamie said.
“No, not yet,” the Doctor replied. “It’s like…it’s like something’s being blocked to me from knowing it. I can’t imagine what that something is mind.”
They were then interrupted as Captain Carey addressed them aggressively.
“Hey, you three!” he barked. “Quit your twittering! We’re nearly there! Prepare yourselves to come before the king!”
The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe waited for the inevitable as the submarine was about to dock at one of the city’s closest docking ports.
At the king’s castle in Riseford City, the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe were brought forward to meet the king of all Riseford – Rowan. He was slight in built, deep chested and very tall. He looked at the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe with a disapproving glare. He turned accusingly towards Captain Carey.
“What are these three strangers you’ve brought into my house, Captain?” the king demanded. “Are they my feast?”
“We found them at the rim edge of our city, your majesty,” Carey replied. “We were attacked by the Skeletrons!”
“Skeletrons!!!” the king bellowed. He turned to the Doctorm “You brought the enemy here!!!”
“Certainly not,” the Doctor answered. “We just arrived. I’m the Doctor by the way. And this is…”
“Be silent!” Carey barked. “The king has not given you permission to speak!”
“Now look here,” Jamie protested.
“Be silent, I say!” Carey shouted. “Or I shall slay you on the spot!”
“Ach well if it’s fighting you want…” Jamie responded.
“Jamie!” the Doctor restrained him before they turned back to address the king.
“The Doctor’s right,” Zoe told the king. “We only came just about an hour ago.”
“These are insolent creatures!” the king bellowed. “Why did you bring them here, Carey! They have no respect in my court!”
“I assure you we have the utmost respect,” the Doctor began to protest before he was interrupted again.
“Who exactly are you?!” King Rowan demanded.
“Like I said, I’m the Doctor and these are my friends Jamie and Zoe. Jamie and I came to this planet twice before when it was ruled by the Saronians.”
“The what?!” the king exploded.
“Aye, it’s true!” Jamie added. “We’re old friends of…”
“The Saronians have not lived on this planet for a thousand years,” Carey interrupted them. “You cannot have known them. You are lying to us!”
“That maybe so,” the Doctor answered, “but we happen to have been here before. We came here when the king of Saron was Duna and his high-ranking officials were Brendian and Barbarin.”
“Brendin?” King Rowan brightened up. “Did you say Brendin?”
“Yes,” the Doctor said. “Brendin and his son Craiger.”
The king became astonished. “Craiger?! You know of Craiger?”
“Hey Doctor,” Jamie whispered in his ear. “Isn’t Craiger that wee boy we met with Brendin last time we were here?”
“Yes Jamie, I believe it was,” the Doctor replied. He then asked King Rowan, “Is he alive, your majesty? Has he grown up since the last time we saw him?”
“This is obviously a trick!” the king said angrily. “Saronians and Ventrax no longer exist on this planet! Humans rule here! And you are trespassers!”
“Trespassers?!” Zoe was shocked. “But we haven’t done anything!”
“You shall be punished for your crimes against me!” King Rowan declared. “Against the humans of Saron! You have brought the Skeletrons to our city with the intent to kill Craiger, last of the Saronians.”
“So Craiger is still alive then,” the Doctor remarked.
“I…I said nothing of the sort,” King Rowan stammered.
“Aye but you did though,” Jamie challenged him. “You thought we came here to kill Craiger, last of the Saronians. You can’t deny that, can ye?!”
King Rowan got up from his throne. “Enough! You are to be sentenced to death! Captain Carey; guards! Take them away!”
The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe protested.
“You can’t do this to us!” said the Doctor.
“We’re innocent here!” Jamie added.
“This is a mockery of justice!” shouted Zoe.
“AWAY, I SAY!!!” thundered the king. “AWAY!!!”
Carey grabbed hold of the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe. “Right you three!” he said aggressively. “Come on! Come with me!”
With that, Carey and the guards escorted the TARDIS trio away.
The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe were back in the submarine again. Captain Carey and the guards kept watch over them as the submarine travelled on its way to the place of execution.
“You should be lucky, you three” Cary said mockingly. “Executions are usually so quick and painless. We send you to drown for real in one of the empty containment rooms. You know how it is. We just flood the rooms until you drown.”
“How lucky we are,” Zoe said wryly.
Jamie tugged at the Doctor who was deep in thought.
“Doctor,” he whispered. “Why don’t we make a run for it? I can take these guards out with my bare hands.”
“Brute force will get us nowhere, Jamie,” the Doctor told him. “Besides these guards will be too much for you. There are too many.”
“Well at least I can try,” Jamie said. “It’s better than sitting around doing nothing.”
“No Jamie, I think I’ll stay here if you don’t mind,” the Doctor said.
“What for?” asked Jamie, horrified. “We’ll all be executed.”
“You’re expecting something to happen, aren’t you?” Zoe observed.
“Yes,” the Doctor replied. “It’s something that Charoc said.”
“About us being a part of our past and a part of our future,” Zoe recalled.
“Yes Zoe,” the Doctor said approvingly. “And something about watching over us. If my theory’s right, she’s expecting us to take part in some event happening on this planet. And she’ll be determined to save our skins and not let us be harmed.”
“But Doctor, supposing this is supposed to be how it is,” Zoe theorised. “Suppose our execution is meant to happen.”
“Aye, and we ought to find a way of getting out,” Jamie interjected. “That king nae no like us.”
“That is another reason why I’d like to stay, Jamie,” the Doctor said. “I’m puzzled by the king’s manner. It’s most odd.”
“No more than usual,” Jamie retorted.
“He’s afraid of something,” the Doctor said. “And so are his people. It’s something to do with the Skeletrons and the rain. I’d like to find out what it is.”
Just then, the submarine shuddered. Thunder and lightning struck as it started to rain outside the submarine. Everyone muttered and panicked whilst the Doctor and his friends were completely baffled.
“Hey!” Jamie exclaimed. “Thunder and lightning in an underwater kingdom?!”
“That’s not usual is it?” Zoe wondered. “It must be the rain cloud again!”
“What’s happening, Captain Carey?” the Doctor demanded. “Are we under attack?”
They then got a shock as the submarine shuddered again. This time, the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe looked out of the window to see the Skeletrons attacking the submarine. They clung onto the walls from the outside. They were attempting to break in as they smashed their weapons onto the submarine windows.
“Doctor!” Zoe exclaimed, horrified. “The Skeletrons are back! They’ve come to get us!”
“Aye they’re trying to break into the submarine!” Jamie pointed out the obvious. “They’re trying to smash yon windows there.”
“Jamie; Zoe!” the Doctor cried. “Get down!”
With that, the TARDIS trio ducked as the Skeletrons broke the glass windows and rain water began leaking in. Carey got up to his feet and began to call out to his troops.
“We have a leakage!” Carey called out. “We’re going to sink! Abandon ship! Everyone to the escape pods!”
“You have escape pods here!” the Doctor exclaimed, astonished. “Well, that’s splendid!”
The Doctor clapped his hands together as Carey trained his weapon upon him and his friends.
“You three are coming with me!” Carey said threateningly. “You shall not resist!”
“Look here!” Jamie protested. “If the Doctor said…”
“Jamie!” the Doctor interrupted. “We’d better do as he says!”
Everyone aboard the submarine made for the escape pods. The rain continued to leak in with the Skeletrons smashing their way through.
Down the passageway, the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe led by Captain Carey found themselves at the airlock for the escape pods. Carey saw his soldiers struggling to open the mechanism for their escape pods’ airlock.
“What’s going on here?” Carey demanded. “Why haven’t you men got into the escape pods?!”
The men explained to Carey that the locking mechanism was jammed. Rain had seeped through treacherously.
“Well, that’s marvellous isn’t it?” Carey groaned.
“Captain, I think I might be able to help!” the Doctor offered.
“You stay out of this!” Carey barked.
“But I have instrument to get us out of here!” the Doctor told him.
He took out from his coat pocket a small cylindrical device and showed it to Carey.
“What’s that?” Carey asked.
“It’s a sonic screwdriver,” the Doctor told him. “Now if I can unscrew the screws…”
“If this is another trick…” Carey interrupted.
“Look, we’re wasting time,” Jamie interrupted Carey! “Let the Doctor open that door or we get drowned in here! Which is it going to be?”
The guards encouraged Carey to listen to the Doctor and Jamie. Carey relented and sighed. “Alright, Doctor. Do what you have to do.”
“Thank you,” the Doctor said happily.
“But be warned,” Carey said. “I shall keep watch on you if you try to do anything!”
The Doctor took heed of Carey’s warning before he made his way over to the airlock door. He fitted his sonic screwdriver to the airlock’s locking mechanism whilst Jamie and Zoe observed what he was doing nearby. The Doctor pressed a button on the screwdriver and it buzzed to life. It took a few minutes for the Doctor to work on the airlock’s locking mechanism.
Eventually it clicked. The airlock door rolled back to reveal the escape pod hatches inside. The Doctor beamed with delight with Jamie and Zoe at his side.
“There you are, you see!” the Doctor declared. “I told you I’d manage to do it. Now we can all escape.”
“Take them into custody!” Carey commanded.
The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe soon found themselves captured by the guards again. Much to their annoyance.
“Aye and that’s the thanks we get,” Jamie moaned.
“Inside all of you!” Carey barked. “Inside!”
At that moment though, the ceiling above cracked. Rain leaked through! It became powerful. Without getting a chance to get into the escape pods, the guards got caught in the rain. They immediately writhed as they got caught.
“Doctor, the rain!” Zoe cried. “It’s come through the roof! And it’s killing the guards!”
“Aye, they’re writhing in pain!” Jamie exclaimed. “How can rain do that to them?!”
“No I…” the Doctor stammered. “I don’t think it’s killing them. I think it’s them reacting to the shock of cold water. They’re not used to water falling on top of them so quickly you see.”
“The captain,” Zoe cried. “Look!”
They looked to see Captain Carey writhing as he got caught in the rain too. He collapsed to the ground, fainting.
“He’s fainted,” Jamie pointed out. “Now’s our chance to escape!”
“No wait, Jamie,” the Doctor called out to him. “Wait!”
“What?!” asked Jamie, confused.
“The moment you run into that airlock, you’ll get caught in the rain too!” the Doctor told him. “You’ll end up like the guards. As I’m sure we all will. Now both of you! Keep well back!”
“Doctor, look out!” Zoe shouted.
The trio looked up to see another part of the ceiling crack as rain began to fall in on top of them.
“Run, Jamie; Zoe!” the Doctor cried. “RUN!!!”
But it was too late. As soon as the rain hit Jamie, Zoe and the Doctor, they began to collapse to the submarine floor. But instead of writhing in pain, the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe groaned drowsily.
One by one, the trio fell to the ground and were knocked out unconscious. Almost as if they’d dropped to sleep. They lay on the floor with rain dripping in through the ceiling of the submarine. Looking down through the cracks of the submarine’s roof was the mysterious lion woman called Charoc. She growled ferociously as she watched them.
© Tim Bradley, 2020
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