Doctor Who: The Doctor vs. Dracula - Part 7

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Doctor Who: The Doctor vs. Dracula - Part 7

Postby DukeNukem 2417 » Sun Dec 24, 2017 9:02 pm

The door to the office flew open (narrowly missing the Doctor's face).

“.....there's......a thing...up there, in the sky,” Sarah Jane breathed. “It's......just come and see it....”

Lauden, Danielle and the Doctor all exchanged glances. “....remember what I said about weird sightings?”

“No need to rub it in, Doctor....” Lauden shook his head. “Right, where is this 'thing' in the sky, then?”

With Lucia in tow, the group headed to the nearest exit---and were met by an eerie silence outside. The fog was still rolling over the streets of Exeter, obscuring most of the street from view...

“Up there!” Sarah Jane half-shouted. “Look!”

Even without her trembling finger pointing it out, there was no way the Doctor could've missed seeing what it was she was staring at.

“Dear God,” Lauden breathed, crossing himeslf immediately.

“How is that even possible?” Danielle murmured

Lucia merely scowled, as if she'd already made her mind up as to what she'd do when she reached it....

…..and the Doctor could only stare in silence.

The influence of the castles that had been “loaned” for use in the grand opening of a non-existent resort were barely visible in the structure that now floated, atop a massive landmass, over Exeter. Spires and towers stood out against the sky like black claws; even from a distance, the castle looked massive.

Somewhere within it, Emma was being held prisoner.

Somewhere, behind those castle walls, Vlad Tepes Dracula was waiting.

“Danielle, Lauden,” the Doctor intoned, “go get Father Wyngarde and Janos, and then get to the TARDIS.”

“What about---”

“Sarah Jane, you stay with Lucia. Make sure she doesn't wander off or anything.”

“What about you?!”

The Doctor took a deep breath. “Give me ten minutes.....after that, we're going up there to get Emma back.”

He turned on his heel and headed back into the building. “.....and then, we're going to kill Dracula.”

“As in 'all of us'?” Sarah Jane asked, more than a bit anxious at the prospect. “I mean...nobody here fits the profile of your run-of-the-mill vampire slayer---no offense,” she quickly added, noticing Lucia's scowl. “....like I was saying---”

“You're going to be helping me do the deed,” the Doctor clarified. “We're all involved in this for a reason....and we'll all have our parts to play in making sure Dracula's plan fails...and the first part of our plan is figuring out how to get up there without getting slaughtered in a matter of seconds.” He retrieved the fob watch from his coat pocket, scowling. “....and joy of joys, he put up a barrier around the entire castle, so we can't just have the TARDIS materialize at the front gates.....”

He stopped, noticing Lucia was giving him a look. “What? What'd I say?”

“There is a way through the field, Doctor. Your....TARDIS....it can fly, right?”

The Time Lord arched an eyebrow. “Are you suggesting what I think you're suggesting?”

Lucia started to reply, but was cut off when Janos and Father Wyngarde both emerged from the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary. “.....he's actually done it,” Janos muttered. “He rebuilt the castle....”

“And we will tear it down again,” Father Wyngarde added, his voice uncharacteristically cold.

“All well and good,” the Doctor agreed, “but we have a more pressing problem. The TARDIS can't get to the castle by the usual means, so we're going to have to do this....ah, manually.” He paused, waiting for what was sure to be an inevitable barrage of complaints...and heard nothing. “I'm going to have to fly the TARDIS towards the castle,” he clarified, “and find just the right spot to phase through the barrier Dracula put around it---that was what you were going to say earlier, right?” He glanced at Lucia.

“.....it was.”

“And you believe her?” Janos cut in. “She's working with---”

“I was working with my lo......with Dracula,” Lucia corrected. “Apparently, he's taken a liking to Emma, now.”

Janos' eyes went wide; Father Wyngarde immediately crossed himself, uttering a prayer under his breath.

“Whatever preperations you need to make,” the Doctor stated, “you've got five minutes. Once you're all ready, meet me at the TARDIS.” He turned on his heel and headed back into the building. “I'll be waiting.”

“We're actually doing this, then,” Sarah Jane murmured. “We're actually about to go fight Dracula----”

“We're not going to fight him,” the Doctor corrected, without looking back. “We're going to kill him.”
------------------------------
Far above Exeter, the castle waited.

Guests had already begun to arrive, transported by the mists; none of them knew that the castle was, in fact, on a landmass above Exeter, rather than somewhere in the countryside. None of them knew the truth about their esteemed host---for them, Baron Giles Lathos was exactly who he claimed to be.

Their ignorance would, in due time, be their downfall.

None of them seemed to care that the servants letting them in moved in a stiff, halting manner; none of them paid any heed to the fact that there was something....off, about the entire castle, both inside and out. Their thoughts were focused only on the good time that they'd been promised, and a night of excitement and intrigue at the “new” Castle Dracula. Anything “off” or “suspicious” about it could be chalked up to simple differences in architecture between Romania and the United Kingdom....

…..at least, for those too foolish to look beneath the surface.

Above all the commotion of guests arriving, Vlad Tepes Dracula watched from the highest of the towers, a grim smile at his lips. Nightfall would descend, soon enough....and with it, any chances of escape for the “esteemed guests” entering the castle. Their deaths would serve as the beginning to his new reign...

“They stride so eagerly to their doom,” he mused. “One could almost feel sorry for them....”

A deep, full-throated chuckle punctuated the remark. “....but how many butchers mourn over their beef?”

Still chuckling, he turned away from the window. This night was shaping up to be most rewarding indeed.
-----------------------------------------------------
Through the darkness of future past,
The magician longs to see....
One chants out between two worlds:
"Fire...walk with me."

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Re: Doctor Who: The Doctor vs. Dracula - Part 7

Postby DukeNukem 2417 » Sun Dec 24, 2017 9:04 pm

“......well, we're here.”

Lauden's remark did little to ease the minds of those who had followed him to the Doctor's TARDIS---the fact that he was wearing his full dress uniform (formerly only used for funerals and ceremonial occasions) served as a strange offset to the disarmingly casual tone of his voice. Danielle had also worn her full dress uniform, with a holstered pistol on her belt and a shotgun in her hands. Father Wyngarde, clad in a full black cassock and carrying an ornate wooden case, stood by Janos, who'd traded in his casual clothing for something more befitting a noble of his standing: grey frock coat, dress pants, a dark brown leather vest over a frilled shirt, and a tie done up with an ornate knot, pinned with a broach bearing the image of his beloved. The dagger he'd used to destroy the Elder was sheathed at his hip, with a sword resting in its scabbard slung across his back.

Lucia hadn't changed her clothing at all, nor had she brought anything with her to use against Dracula. By contrast, Sarah Jane had ditched her previous outfit for a green jacket, red jumper and camoflauge pants. At Danielle's suggestion, she wore a bandolier of tear gas grenades over her jacket, with a holstered revolver at her hip and a truncheon in one hand.

“Doctor?” Lauden called out, knocking on the doors of the TARDIS. “We're all here, and we're waiitng---”

Slowly, the doors opened, revealing the gleaming white console room beyond.

The Doctor was already at the console---still wearing the red-trimmed coat he'd had on since he first landed in Ealing a few days prior. The vest beneath it, however, wasn't the same---the red velvet waistcoat with gold buttons had been replaced with a darker red, almost burgandy one, sporting buttons of polished copper, worn over a dark brown shirt as opposed to the usual grey. Even his Oxford shoes had been traded out for black, well-worn boots.

More striking than all of that, however, was the look in his eyes....a fiery, almost haunted stare.

“Doctor,” Lauden repeated, “we're here, and---”

“Waiting, I heard.” The Time Lord didn't look up from the console. “Close the door behind you, and make sure it's secure.....if it's not, what comes next is going to turn really bad, really fast.”

Hesitantly, Lauden stepped back to pull the doors shut. “....they're closed, Doctor. Now---”

“RIGHT.” That shouted word, accompanied by a clap from the Doctor, startled every other member of the group. “Here's how this is going to go....in a few short seconds, the TARDIS is going to ascend---I'm assuming you all have some familiarity with VTOL?”

Lauden and Danielle nodded, followed shortly after by Sarah Jane.

Father Wyngarde, on the other hand, merely arched an eyebrow; Janos and Lucia were confused beyond reason.

“......Vertical Take-Off and Landing,” the Doctor clarified. “Usually used for aircraft that can go straight up and down without needing to taxi all over a runway---jump jets, for instance. Well, the TARDIS has that ability, too, which leads back to my original point: in a few short seconds, the TARDIS is going to ascend until we're roughly at the same height as Castle Dracula---”

“And then we can just dematerialize and rematerialize at the castle?” Lauden inquired.

“.....ah, sorry, but no. That thing I said earlier, about airplanes that need runways to taxi all over the place? It doesn't mean anything for our takeoff, but as for our approach.....”

The Doctor removed his glasses for a moment, wiping them with a handkerchif. “....that's where it gets tricky.”

“Define 'tricky', please,” Father Wyngarde replied, “so that we're all aware of just how dangerous this whole thing is going to be. If I'm going to be flung towards a bastion of evil, I'd at least like to know whether or not I'm going to survive the trip.”

“It's less about being 'flung',” the Doctor replied, circling the console, “and more about building speed---to use another military example, like how gun barrels have rifling on the inside, to help the bullet spiral and get faster while being pushed out....or something along those lines.”

“So, we're going to be.....spiraling,” Sarah Jane mused. “Towards Dracula's castle.”

“Right in one.” The Doctor briefly looked up from the console, the light from a monitor casting an eerie shadow on his face. “And if we spiral fast enough, the barrier won't hold up when we hit it----”

“We're going to hit this barrier?!” Lauden echoed. “You said we'd phase through it!”

“......that I did,” the Doctor admitted. “The thing is, the barrier in question is entirely composed of energy---not a 'force field', as so many films and TV shows have overused, but one that would probably qualify as 'magic' under different circumstances.” He flipped a few switches on the panel before him. “Time Lord studies of vampire offshoots have been...sporadic, to say the least---and Dracula's nowhere near a baseline level for a 'typical' Earth vampire. Whatever base abilities the Yssgaroth's corruption has given vampires of this planet, Vlad Tepes Dracula has supplanted and enhanced over the centuries---studies of the 'Dark Arts' are probably among the subjects he's been the most interested in.”

“It's true,” Lucia muttered. “He has entire libraries of books and scrolls, all filled with forbidden knowledge...”

“....but you said the powers of vampires are alien in origin!” Lauden protested. “How the hell does magic---”

“I said the Yssgaroth were the basis for all vampire archetypes,” the Doctor quietly corrected. “I didn't say they were the only sources of power vampires could obtain.”

An eerie silence filled the console room, broken only by the flicking of switches and the turning of dials.

“.....anyway, we know full well that Dracula has, at his disposal, abilities and techniques few other vampires would dare to utilize---teleportation, that little fireball trick he threatened me with before he took Emma, and the use of those mists to transport people from one place to another. I'd say with almost 100% certainty that he's going to use those abilities and plenty of others against us when we confront him...and by 'we', I mean myself, Father Wyngarde, Lauden and Janos---”

“You're not going to stop me from going after him, Doctor,” Lucia cut in. “Not after what he did to me!”

The Doctor turned to regard her, his expression inscrutable. “And would you be able to shield your mind, your very thoughts, if he tried to 'persuade' you to rejoin him?”

“.....I don't know.”

“Then I can't let you take part. Hell, bringing all of you with me is a massive risk---if even one of you were to be turned against the rest of us, or pitted against each other, it would give Dracula more than enough of an edge to pick us apart, one by one.” The Doctor sighed. “If any of you are thinking that I'm a cold-hearted prick for going on about this, I apologize—-but it's the absolute truth. Dracula thrives on sowing discord and fear in people, for bringing out the worst in those trying to destroy him....and I don't want any of you to succumb to that fate, or anything even remotely similar to it.”

Lauden glanced around, then back at the Doctor. “And you?”

“Time Lords are master practitioners of hypnotism---mind tricks won't bring me down any time soon.”

Without another word, the Doctor circled around to the final panel of the console, his back to the group. “We're about to ascend...and I'm actually going to need a bit of help for this part. Lauden, Danielle.....okay, you stand there, and you stand here.....Father Wyngarde, move to the panel to Lauden's right---just like that, thanks...and Janos, you take the panel to Danielle's left.....there. Good. Sarah Jane, take the panel opposite of where I am right now....” He nodded.

“What about me?”

“A good question, Lucia....I'd usually do this part myself, but you can take the last remaining panel at the console....there.” The Time Lord grinned. “Now, all of you should see a control or set of controls---buttons, dials, levers, what have you---on your respective panels that are flashing or glowing. Activate them now---if it's a dial, turn it to the furthest setting. If it's a set of buttons, push the first and last ones together. Levers, just throw the switch.”

Dials were turned, buttons were pushed and levers were thrown.....

….and the familiar VWROP, VWROP filled the console room.

“Now, this next part is going to be a bit different from the norm,” the Doctor stated. “We're going up even as we speak---well, as I speak, but the point still stands.....and once we hit level with the castle, that's where things get really interesting....”

“Define 'interesting',” Danielle shouted; the sound of the Time Rotor had become almost deafening.

“Well, for starters, we've got swarms of bats heading our way, if the monitor is any indication....Lauden, those buttons on the left will bank us right or left, depending on which---RIGHT!” Lauden slammed his palm down on the button the Doctor indicated, and the TARDIS slung to the right of an oncoming swarm of bats.

“....good job, very good job....” The Doctor grinned and clapped Lauden on the back. “Janos, Sarah Jane, I need you both to find the gyroscopic stabilizer controls on your respective panels....you're going to want to turn them to the extreme right and the extreme left, respectively---just like that, good! And now we begin to spiral towards the castle.....”

His grin faded as he noticed a shape on the monitor---small, at first, but accelerating towards the TARDIS at a rapid speed. “....Lauden, be ready to bank us to the right or left in a few seconds....”

“Doctor, we have a problem!”

Janos' shout confirmed the Time Lord's fears. “Would it happen to be something that looks like a giant bat?”

“YES!”

“Lauden.....get ready to bank to the right or left. Sarah Jane, Janos---deactivate the spiral.”

“But---”

“Just trust me, please......” The Doctor strode over to where Father Wyngarde had left the ornate wooden case when he'd been asked to take a spot at the console. “If this is what I think it is...” He knelt by the case, undoing the latch on its lid and carefully lifitng it up ...

The smile returned to his face as soon as he beheld what was in the case. “.....yeah, I'm definitley liking this.”

“Doctor!” Janos called out. “What now?!”

“Keep the TARDIS steady---I'm about to do something really stupid!”

Any protest Janos could've made was lost to a roar of wind as the Doctor flung the doors of the TARDIS open, nearly being flung to the floor in the process. The swarms of bats had parted on either side, almost to allow the massive, oncoming bat to get a direct shot at the console room.

“Not if I can help it....”

The Doctor slung his right arm out---uncurling the studded whip he'd retrieved from the case.

Almost as if to reply to the gesture, the giant bat let out a horrific screech.

“IT'S GETTING CLOSER!” Sarah Jane screamed. “DOCTOR---”

"I've got it all under control. Just.....promise you won't freak out about what I'm about to do----”

Before he could explain himself, the giant bat seemed to hover in place......

…..and, as the Time Lord watched, it launched itself at the TARDIS.

“Rassilon, if you're watching this.....oh, the hell with it.” The Doctor took a few steps back, muttering an old Gallifreyan prayer.....and then took a running start towards the opened doors of the TARDIS.

Before anyone manning the console could stop him, he jumped out, a war cry on his lips.

The bat dove towards him, ignoring the TARDIS entirely. Just like I planned it. Now, if I can just get the other ten or twelve steps of this brilliant idea to work....

Without hesitation, the Doctor grabbed at his left wrist---or more specifically, at the Vortex Manipulator that still encircled it. With a jaunty wink, he pressed the button----

---and was instantly back at the edge of the TARDIS' threshold, the whip still in his hand. “Sorry about that,” he apologized, glancing at the dumbstruck crew manning the console. “Didn't want to just announce my idea out loud in case Dracula was somehow observing this whole thing---”

“DOCTOR, IT'S COMING BACK!”

Sarah Jane's shriek was entirely unnecessary---the Doctor had counted on the bat making a u-turn in midair and flying up past the door of the TARDIS. “Good.” For the second time, he took a few steps back---only to be pushed aside as Lucia shot past him, diving through the door and directly tackling the underbelly of the massive bat. No, no, no, NO!

The sheer size of the giant bat had been merely impressive, at first glance---barelling towards the TARDIS, it was impossible to get a true grasp on how big the thing was. Once Lucia had jumped out and grabbed its hairy underbelly, however, it was far easier to see that the bat's entire body was about the size of an adult grizzly bear, standing tall on its hind legs. The wingspan was nearly twice as long as the bat itself was tall....

….and Lucia had grabbed onto it, screaming, tearing at it with an almost diabolical fervor. Chunks of bloody bat flesh flew past the TARDIS (remarkably, none went into the TARDIS itself) with every second.

“WE'RE LOSING STABILIZATION, DOCTOR!” Sarah Jane called out. “WE NEED TO....”

Whatever may have been shouted in the Time Lord's general direction after “WE NEED TO” was lost---for the Doctor, it was as if the roaring wind, the frantic sounds coming from the TARDIS console and the shouts and screams of his allies had all faded into silence.....

…..as he watched Lucia tear at the giant bat, all he could hear was the beating of his own hearts.

The bat's own heart was exposed, after what seemed like a full three minutes---as was often the case when someone had put their life in an insane amount of danger, time itself seemed to slow down as the catastrophe unfolded. The Doctor, as if he'd been riveted to the spot, watched as Lucia reached into the exposed chest cavity of the bat with her free hand, grabbing at its heart.....

….and ripping it out as soon as her fingers closed around it.

A cacophony of sounds rushed back into the Doctor's ears---the wind, the screaming, the klaxons---but his focus was still on Lucia, now falling away from the dying bat whose heart was now in her hand. Without even looking back at Sarah Jane or anyone else at the console, he grabbed at the Vortex Manipulator again---

---and within seconds of pressing the button, was falling right beside Lucia.

Before she even realized he was there, he wrapped one arm around her slender waist, carefully maneuvering his left arm to the point where he could tap the Vortex Manipulator with his chin.

Lucia barely had time to scream before she---and the Doctor---were both back in the console room.

“DON'T LEAVE THE CONSOLE!” the Doctor shouted, not looking up from where Lucia lay. “Just....just give me a minute.....” His gaze shifted to the giant bat's heart---already withering and crumbling to ashes---as Lucia finally stirred. “.....what....”

“Don't do that again,” the Doctor warned. “Or at least tell me before you do.”

“.....I killed it, didn't I?”

“After nearly getting yourself killed in the process...on your feet. Come on....” The Doctor pulled Lucia to a standing position, staring at her all the while. “You would've been flattened against the pavement in an instant if I hadn't been here.”

A scathing comeback was on Lucia's tongue....but try as she might, she just couldn't speak the words.

“We're at the halfway point, by now,” the Doctor informed her. “Of getting to the castle, at least---we may have lost a bit of time with the giant bat, but nothing too extreme. You should get back to your station at the console for now....”

Just as she turned away, he quietly spoke: “Lucia......thank you.”

She didn't look back, but acknowledged him with the subtlest of nods.

The Doctor managed a grin, then glanced at the TARDIS doors; without a word, he held up his left hand and snapped his fingers---the doors shut of their own accord, and the roaring of the wind ceased instantly.

With Lucia back at her position by the console, the TARDIS was stable once again, and spiraling towards Castle Dracula without any indication that it had ever slowed down in the first place. Under the Doctor's guidance, Lauden, Danielle, Sarah Jane, Father Wyngarde, Janos and Lucia were able to maintain a constant speed and as close to perfect gyroscopic stability as they could ask for. The bat swarms never let up (indeed, they seemed to increase in magnitude and frequency, with a dozen of them seeming to slam into the TARDIS at one point), but there were no further instances of giant bats hurtling towards the TARDIS at any point.

Five minutes later, the castle was finally within range.

“Right,” the Doctor called out, “this is the part where things get really tricky.”

“Did you really need to tell us that now?!” Lauden protested.

“To put it simply: yes.” The Doctor circled the console, nodding occasionally and politely suggesting a button press or a change in hand placement when he needed to. “The timing on this,” he explained, “has to be exact, down to the last second. If we're off by even a fractional amount, the best we can hope for is that the TARDIS just bumps against the barrier and gets flung back a mile or so.”

“And the worst?” Danielle asked.

“.....believe me, you don't want to know.” The Doctor took a deep breath, staring at the ceiling of the console room.....

….and from behind him, an all-too familiar voice: “You don't have to lie to them, you know.”

“RIGHT, everybody do exactly as I say, for the next few minutes, and we'll all get through this with only a few unpleasant memories and maybe a case of nausea.” The Doctor grinned, ignoring the fact that Maxil (or, more than likely, a psychic projection of Maxil) was staring at him. “And if it appears that I'm talking to thin air at any given point, just ignore me---if I address you directly, then don't ignore me.”

“Never one to miss a beat, Lord Doctor,” Maxil smirked. “You haven't changed a bit---”

“Neither have you, from the looks of things,” the Doctor replied. “Other than a swapped chromosome or two since your regeneration....”

Maxil scowled at the reference. “For your information, I've adjusted rather well to life as a Time Lady---”

“Stability controls at maximum, if you don't mind!” the Doctor shouted over his shoulder, before turning to grin at Maxil. “After the last time I saw you, I'm hoping you 'adjusted' a lot better....screaming like a lunatic and trying to pull your hair out doesn't really mesh with 'adjusting' in my book. Granted, your hair does look a lot better these days---”

“Is everything a joke with you, Doctor?!”

As if to respond, the Doctor gestured at the console. “This isn't. What we're doing right now.....there's no way I'd ever consider it a joke.”

“....and you've been doing this without Time Lord intervention?”

“Apart from being told, repeatedly, why they can't intervene....pretty much.”

Maxil frowned, but nodded. “I'm starting to think I may have been wrong about you, Doctor. The wisecracks, the fancy clothes, the overly theatrical way you tend to explain things.....maybe there really is a method to your particular brand of madness.”

“Are you just saying that to do the whole 'inspiring' thing, or because---”

“Don't finish that sentence, Doctor. Just because I'm a woman now, it doesn't mean I won't punch you.”

“And I thought Time Lords had moved beyond the need for rash acts of violence....” The Doctor chuckled. “I can handle this, Maxil. Trust me.”

“I know you can handle it,” Maxil admitted, “but.....can they?”

“They're handling it now. Admirably. Human beings may have their flaws, but in times of crisis and chaos, the best of them showcase what's great about the entire human race.”

“Even the robot girl and the vampire?”

“Including them. You need to quit being so cynical, Maxil....maybe lighten up a little.”

Maxil tried to frown again, but faltered under the Doctor's stare---and his smile. “....you're lucky the psychic link still works even over long distances, Doctor....anyone else would see that look and think you fancy them.”

“And you know better, I suppose?”

“Doctor.....”

“I'm kidding. I can see your sense of humor is one thing that regeneration couldn't change....” The Doctor chuckled again. “Thanks for dropping in, Maxil. It's been nice talking with you.”

“And it's been....interesting....chatting with you as well, Doctor.” Maxil nodded, then vanished entirely.

“She needs to learn to lighten up,” the Time Lord mused. “Eh, best not think about that until after this is all sorted out----HOW'RE WE HOLDING UP ON THE APPROACH BACK THERE?!”

“Everything's stable,” Father Wyngarde replied. “As far as I can tell, at least....”

“We're getting closer to the barrier, Doctor...” Danielle leaned in to get a better look at the monitor. “If you've got some last-minute trick to get us through it, now's the time.....”

“Not a trick, as such, but it will get us through the barrier. Each panel of the console should have one, really big control mechanism on it---lever, dial, switch, button, you get the idea. On the count of three, I need you to all, at the same time, activate the big control on your panel---if we do this right, we'll be through the barrier. I don't think I need to explain why you shouldn't dwell on what happens if we do this wrong.” The Doctor sighed as he steeled himself for the inevitable. “Have you all found the big control mechanisms on your respective panels, yet?”

Six declarations of “yes” sounded from around the console.

“Good. Hands over those control mechanisms, people.....activate them on three. One......”

Around the console, six hands moved to twist, pull, press, slide and otherwise manipulate the needed controls.

“Two.....”

The tension in the console room was almost palpable. All were silent; the three who were capable of breathing did their best to not exhale too loudly, or cough. The slightest miscue could mean a very, very painful end....

“.........THREE!”

Several mechanical sounds---things being pressed, slid, turned, toggled and otherwise activated---happened at once.....and the console room was plunged into darkness. “NOBODY MOVE,” the Doctor shouted. “Nobody say or do anything......be silent and still......” Even though none of them could see him, he held his hands out, palms down, his gaze tracing the contours of the room.

The seconds passed.........

…...and just as quickly as they'd gone off, the lights returned to their full glory. The viewscreen revealed the truth: the TARDIS had successfully made it through the barrier around Castle Dracula.

“Couldn't have done it better myself,” the Doctor declared, nodding as his companions cheered and embraced.

Getting to the castle, as harrowing as it had been, was the easy part. The hard part was only just beginning.
-----------------------------------------------------
Through the darkness of future past,
The magician longs to see....
One chants out between two worlds:
"Fire...walk with me."

User avatar
DukeNukem 2417
Posts: 269
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2016 1:05 pm
Location: [REDACTED]

Re: Doctor Who: The Doctor vs. Dracula - Part 7

Postby DukeNukem 2417 » Sun Dec 24, 2017 9:05 pm

“They. Have. Arrived.”

Dracula frowned at the clockwork butler's statement; he'd sensed the TARDIS going through the barrier almost as soon as it had happened, and knew that the Doctor and his allies---pathetic though they were---had indeed managed to break through. “So they have.....go and tend to the guests.”

The butler bowed, stiffly, and turned to leave.

“Most disconcerting....the Doctor should not have reached the castle so soon.” Dracula cupped his chin in one hand, scowling; he'd dispatched several swarms of bats towards the general direction of the incoming TARDIS, including a monstrous specimen that, by all accounts, should've knocked that stupid police box out of the air altogether. Most of the lesser bats hadn't survived, of course....but that was to be expected. The worrying thing was that the larger, more dangerous one.....

“No.”

The mere thought that the Doctor had somehow slain the giant bat was ludicrous. He was a pacifist, and was unarmed, how could he---

A sudden, chilling realization came to him. “Of course.....”

The Doctor hadn't killed the bat (and indeed wasn't even capable of it)....but Dracula knew all too well who had done the deed.

He had, after all, abandoned her with the vermin back in Exeter......

Part of him wanted to believe that Lucia's betrayal was of no consequence...but he had seen such behavior before. Too often, he had been forced to discard his consorts over the years---some, he had grown tired of; others were too ambitious for their own good. Still others were simply incompatible with the way he did things, in any sense of the term....

Lucia was far more complicated than that.

The Doctor had been telling the truth---Dracula had, in fact, killed Lucia's original sire, just as he'd manipulated Graaf into killing his own sire, and talked Kevin and Ariel into betraying their own....consorts had become almost a new kind of status symbol, to him, like money, or priceless artifacts. Gaining, losing, acquiring and wasting---if he could only find other vampires at his level, he might even be able to trade followers with them, as a sort of game.....

….but all who had been at his own level were to be treated as threats, not merely “competitors”.

There was no doubt that Lucia had seen her abandonment as some kind of heinous betrayal. She wasn't wrong to consider it that way....but to Dracula, it was merely the way things went. She had been useful to him for a while---far longer than most---but the instant that blessed chain had touched her shoulders, it was over.

“Such a waste,” the Count sighed. “She had such potential, such beauty.....”

Of course, where old beauty falters, new beauty rises up to take its place. Lucia may have been stranded with the Doctor and his assorted vermin...but his new guest of honor could easily take her place. Emma would be a crown jewel on display for the honored visitors to Castle Dracula, and when the night was over and the guests were dismissed, she would ascend to take Lucia's place at the Count's side....standing over the Doctor's broken body. The possibility of letting her be the one to slay the Doctor was a tantalizing one indeed....but that would come later. For now, the Doctor and his pathetic friends would have to be tended to.

“Doctor,” Dracula intoned, “I swear to you now.....one of us will not leave this castle when the sun rises....”
-----------------------------------------------------
“...it's got a car park.”

Lauden's comment on Castle Dracula's exterior earned him a frown. “We're about to enter the floating castle of Vlad Tepes Dracula,” the Doctor mused, “and you're stunned by the fact that it has a car park.....”

“Well, it's just....it's unexpected!” Lauden replied. “I mean, it's Dracula—-”

“He did say he was going to open it as a resort,” Danielle reminded him. “Resorts have car parks.”

“Can we get back to the part about being at Castle Dracula?” the Doctor cut in. “Car park or no car park, we have more important things to focus on than...well, the stupid car park! Like how there are skeletons walking towards us, for some reason.....” His eyes widened at the sight of fully mobile, upright humanoid skeletons lumbering towards the group.

“Don't tell me aliens did that,” Lauden muttered.

“In all actuality,” the Doctor quietly replied, “I have no idea how he's doing this....”

“I do.” Again, Lucia moved to the forefront of the group. “And I know how to beat them, too---”

“Hit them until they fall apart?”

Lucia almost grinned at that. “I thought you were a pacifist...”

“Even a pacifist can guess that hitting a reanimated skeleton will make it fall to pieces. Janos, if you would be so kind....” The Doctor stepped back.

“Not a problem, Doctor.” Janos nodded, striding towards the skeletons with a confident smirk.

“This is starting to feel a bit video-gamey,” Sarah Jane mused. “A giant bat? Walking skeletons? Anyone else getting flashbacks to---”

“Castle Dracula has always been defended by the dead,” Lucia stated, sounding as if she'd once been proud of the fact. “Skeletons, spirits....even walking corpses. Dracula finds it amusing to use the bodies of those who intended to destroy him as his defenders.” The tone of her voice made it clear that she'd always found the idea disgusting. “He does it to those he thinks are.....'unworthy'.”

“Unworthy of siring?” the Doctor prompted. Lucia couldn't even turn to look at him as she nodded silently.

Lauden glanced at the crowd of skeletons---easily being picked apart by Janos---and frowned. “You don't think any of those could be---”

“Emma,” Lucia muttered, “is probably going to be the 'guest of honor' at every event inside the castle.”

The Doctor never looked away form Janos' decimation of the skeleton legions. “Including the grand finale?”

“Unless he decides to turn her.....yes.” There was a bitterness in Lucia's tone. “Otherwise....she'll be kept safe in the Guest House....” She pointed to one of the towers. “.....and 'prepared'.....”

The words 'like I was' died on her tongue; she chose to stare at the pavement instead of continuing.

“You can rest assured that we won't let that happen,” Father Wyngarde replied. “As soon as Janos is done with the skeletons---”

A skull shattered against the pavement, almost as a punctuation to the priest's statement.

“Which would be now,” the Doctor finished, barely fighting the urge to grin. “Right, now that we've gotten the cannon fodder out of the way---and before anyone yells at me for referring to these skeleton warriors by that term, I don't mean any disrespect to the dead---”

“We get it, Doctor,” Danielle replied. “Also, it's not like we knew any of them personally.....”

Lucia strode over to the bones, looking through the remains for a minute or two. “These were all brought out from unmarked graves,” she informed the group. “Some of them are....decades old, probably 80 or so.”

“Meaning no recent missing persons cases,” Lauden realized, the relief evident on his face.

“You're already forgetting about the clinic?” Danielle quietly reminded him.

Lauden's smile went away rather quickly after that.

“....okay, whatever's going on with the castle up there is really bugging out the fob watch,” the Doctor mused, instantly breaking up the awkward silence. “It's picking up non-Euclidian geometries in there---rooms and such that couldn't possibly exist if Dracula really did tear down just those six castles he claimed to have imported for the creation of his 'grand resort'....”

“So it's bigger on the inside?” Sarah Jane inquired. “Like the TARDIS---”

“The TARDIS has nothing in common with Castle Dracula,” the Doctor replied. “The room structure and design of this place....however the original castle was set up, there's no way it was anything like this.” He checked the fob watch again, frowning. “This place is way too big, for starters...and that's not even going into the whole 'floating landmass' thing.”

“So you're telling us that this castle shouldn't exist,” Danielle finished.

“Pretty much. And not just because of the whole 'Dracula is evil and must be destroyed' thing---though that's a pretty big factor in it, for obvious reasons....”

Sarah Jane frowned. “How exactly are we going to get to Dracula, in the first place?”

“He's in the keep,” Lucia replied. “Highest tower, all the way to the left...with the staircase trailing down from it, like that's the only thing connecting it to the building....it's his 'throne room', pretty much.”

“How is that even....it's defying the laws of gravity!” Lauden groaned.

“So is the landmass we're on right now,” the Doctor reminded him. “That can probably be explained by way of antigravitational technology---probably from the clockwork droids, since they're not exactly from around here, or did I mention that yet?”

Sarah Jane closed her eyes, trying not to picture where the automatons might've come from.

“What's our plan of attack, then?” Lauden asked. “We just storm the place, hunt down Dracula and kill him?”

Lucia rolled her eyes. “It won't be that simple. You don't just waltz into the castle and plant a stake in his heart or anything like that...the keep is the most protected part of the castle. Getting there means fighting through pretty much the whole thing.” She glanced up at the keep again, scowling. “I'm surprised he wasted the giant bat so early on....”

“Wasted it?!” Lauden echoed. “And 'early on'?! You knew about that thing---”

“Lauden,” the Doctor warned, “not now.”

“So we just have to get up to the keep,” Danielle mused, nodding as if it were as simple as heading up the street to Poundland. “How hard can that be?”

“....did you not hear the part about 'fighting through pretty much the whole thing'?” Lucia muttered. “Which I just said less than a minute ago?”

“You think I'm bothered by that?” Danielle countered. “I'm a police officer. This is my job.”

Lucia shook her head. “Not like this. Nothing you've ever faced on the job has been anything like this---”

“I don't care.” Danielle glared at the vampire, scowling. “Just so we're clear, this isn't the clockwork talking. I know my limits, and I know what I can and can't do...we all know what needs to be done. Standing around here arguing over who heard what and who is or isn't up to the task won't get us anywhere.”

The Doctor glanced at the towering structure in the distance. “Speaking of which....”

“How exactly do we get in there?”

Lauden's question was spoken before the Doctor could ask it himself. “My thoughts exactly, Chief Inspector,” he stated, sighing. “Dracula's challenge to us---to me---could count as an 'invitation' of sorts, if we're feeling generous about the term....but since we're not on the guest list proper, we're going to have one hell of a time just going through the front door—--or getting to it, for that matter. ”

“If all of the castle's defenders are as easily dispatched as these,” Father Wyngarde mused, gesturing at what was left of the skeletons, “we shouldn't have any---”

“Those were just cannon fodder,” Lucia cut in. “The defenses will be far stronger inside!”

The Doctor nodded. “Right....I was saving these for a special occasion, but I think that occasion might as well be now.” He reached into his coat pockets and pulled out several leather bracers with metallic devices sewn into the surface. “Your very own Vortex Manipulators,” he explained. “These are, for lack of a better term, 'slaved' to the one I'm wearing---I can key in a frequency here, for instance...” He pressed a few buttons on his own Manipulator. “....sine wave A, frequency B, vector PTM....and lock onto....for instance, your Manipulator, Danielle.” A light began to glow on the Vortex Manipulator he'd given Sergeant Tomlinson. “If I activate mine, and it 'teleports' me, for lack of a better term, you teleport with me.”

“.....and we're supposed to take comfort in this?” Lauden inquired, frowning.

“Seeing as how you'd be better off with me than stumbling around rooms on your own, possibly taking a fireball to the face or anything like that, I thought you'd appreciate the foresight....” The Time Lord shielded his brow with one hand as he glanced back at the castle. “You said Dracula would be in the keep, Lucia?”

“....I did.”

“Then we don't need to waste our time going room by room trying to get to him. Think of it as no-clipping our way through the castle, except there's no game engine to crash and no risk of getting stuck in walls or anything messy like that---we just use the Vortex Manipulators to go from room-to-room. We land in an empty room, we keep going. We end up in a room full of horrible things that want to eat our faces or burn us to a crisp, we fight them off and then keep going.” The Doctor grinned. “Nothing to worry about.”

“....you really think it'll be that easy?” Lucia asked, staring at him.

“Maybe not 'easy', but at the very least, definitely not as complicated as it'd be without this little 'trick'.”

“That won't going to help us against Dracula,” Lucia countered. “Tricks won't be enough to beat him!”

“Maybe not,” the Doctor admitted, “but at the very least, they'll help us survive.”

Lucia tried to glare at the Time Lord, but couldn't. “You'd better hope you're right, Doctor.”

“Unlike Dracula, I don't use anyone travelling with me as pawns. If I didn't think this would work, and that it would help us survive, I wouldn't be handing out Vortex Manipulators.”

“And we're not going to be...stuck in the walls, or anything horrid like that?” Lauden inquired.

“I promise that you're not going to get stuck in walls. A Vortex Manipulator allows you to hop through time and space---it's not literally like 'no clipping' through walls. Think of it as using the TARDIS without the TARDIS, if that makes any sense....though I only recommend it for short hops. Trying to use this to go back far enough to do something like, for example, prevent the Titanic from sinking, will probably end badly.” The Doctor briefly considered how River Song would react to his mention of the Titanic sinking---she'd probably laugh, he mused, or at the very least make a joke about me being a romantic, probably with a really stupid rhyme.

“.....Doctor?”

“Hmm?” The Time Lord realized Danielle was staring at him. “Right, sorry, zoned out for a bit....anyway, the Vortex Manipulators are the best tools for the job. Blending in is pretty much a no-go for all of us---Lucia and Danielle are too recognizable, for one, and we can more than likely add Janos to that....”

Father Wyngade arched an eyebrow. “And how do we use these, again?”

“Don't mess with it for now---the gate is open, so we don't need to use the Vortex Manipulator yet.”

“So we just stride through the open gates and mingle,” Lauden mused. “Until they twig and we have to run for our lives.....makes perfect sense to me.”

Danielle stared at him. “We're in full dress uniform.”

“Then we'll say we're on security detail.”

“We're wearing our badges. With our names on them.”

“Doesn't stop us from working security.” Lauden nodded. “Unless you have another idea, Sergeant?”

There was something in the way Lauden had spoken her rank that Danielle recognized: that same sense of not-quite-madness that emanated from the Doctor. “....I don't, Chief Inspector.”

“And Doctor?”

“....if you think it'll work,” the Time Lord replied, “I say go for it---unless every other officer who might be in there is dressed casually.”

“I'll just say that Danielle and I are dressed for the occasion.” Lauden nodded again. “No law against that.”

Danielle nodded her agreement, trying not to grin.

“Well, now that we've sorted that out.....let's get right down to it, shall we?” The Doctor glanced at his allies and their gear, then back at the castle before him. “It's time for us to break down the walls of Castle Dracula.”

Without another word, he strode towards the gates.

Lauden, Danielle, Sarah Jane, Janos, Father Wyngarde and Lucia all followed, without hesitation.
-----------------------------------------------------
Through the darkness of future past,
The magician longs to see....
One chants out between two worlds:
"Fire...walk with me."

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DukeNukem 2417
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Re: Doctor Who: The Doctor vs. Dracula - Part 7

Postby DukeNukem 2417 » Sun Dec 24, 2017 9:05 pm

“.....this sucks.”

From her spot at the head of the banquet table, Emma had a perfect view of the almost obscene wealth and opulence on display---Dracula's guests had clearly been chosen for their status as pillars of British society. A staggering majority of the men wore their finest watches and rings; those with war medals had pinned them to their shirts without a second thought. Women clad in silks, satins, furs and jewelry that would've been the focal point of any high street window display mingled, laughed and gossiped about pithy things. Everyone present had been immaculately groomed; colognes and perfumes gave off aromas that were almost pleasant enough to distract from the small matter of being trapped in the castle of a notorious vampire.

And they don't have a clue, Emma realized. None of them know who their “gracious host” really is....

The automatons were moving in a more believable manner, now---not quite as lifelike as Danielle, but definitely not the stop-start, theme park animatronic way they'd been moving before. Their speech, of course, was still clipped and halting, and they never bothered to make small talk, but they weren't being gawked at by any “guests” as they moved about.

The ballroom itself was massive---a band (Emma had no idea who they were, or what they were; she'd left the room for a minute to go to the toilet, and returned to see the full band on stage making the last preparations for a “set”) had been playing a waltz or two for what felt like the past hour and a half. I can't have been here that long.....it's not even possible---

“I assure you, every minute of your time here has been accounted for.”

The only thing that kept Emma from screaming profanities at the sudden sound of Count Dracula's voice was, appropriately, the fact that Dracula himself was sitting right next to her, in an immaculately-pressed 18th century suit and with his best gentleman's smile. “Could you at least warn me before you just pop up next to me like that?” she growled, her teeth clenched in a dangerously fake smile.

“My sincerest apologies,” Dracula replied, again giving her his most polite smile. “I was conversing with the caterers before I decided to join you at the table....you look positively resplendent tonight.”

Emma nodded. “Thanks....ah, how did you---”

“The Doctor would like people to believe he has the ability to read minds....one of the many benefits of the dark gifts I possess is that I can, in fact, read the thoughts of others, be they human or....my own kind.”

“Right, right....” Again, Emma nodded, feeling more nervous this time. “....and the, ah, caterers---”

“The banquet is being prepared as we speak. As the Guest of Honor, you will be making the first toast.”

“Lucky me...” Emma tried for a laugh, and to her own surprise, it sounded genuine---with heavy undercurrents of fear. “You really know how to make a girl feel special, Count.”

“And special you most certainly are.” There was something off about the Count's smile as he spoke.

“.....right....”

Even as she smiled at the “host” of the event, Emma was utterly terrified---she had no idea if the Doctor was on his way to the castle (or already there), she had no inkling of any plans he may have had to rescue her, and she was surrounded on all sides by Dracula's army of automatons and whatever horrors he had as servants.

As far as she knew, she was alone, in enemy territory, with no way to escape.

If you're going to sweep in for the big, dramatic rescue, Doctor....any time soon would be great.
-----------------------------------------------------
“....well, this is awkward.”

The Doctor's words echoed off of the stone walls of the foyer---the empty foyer, as opposed to a room teeming with monstrosities that sought his instant death. “You can all stand at rest for now, I think,” he announced, “and just take a minute to plan ahead for what we're going to do when we do run into the forces of darkness...”

“The foyer is never guarded,” Lucia muttered. “He wouldn't waste time with it....”

“Bad for him, wonderful for us. And where can we expect the first hint of resistance?”

“A few more rooms in. The room ahead splits off in a fork---one hall goes to the garden.” Lucia glanced at the Time Lord, frowning. “You're not thinking of splitting up the group, are you?”

“Wouldn't dream of it---especially since we have no idea what's up ahead....”

The Time Lord's claim was cut off by an all-too familiar sound of ticking and whirring. “Guess we know what's around the corners now, don't we?” Danielle scowled. “Did anyone else bring a sidearm---”

“Don't,” Lucia warned. “The walls are stone---it'll either echo or riccochet, and then---”

A single, upraised hand from the Doctor cut her off---the ticking was getting louder.

Janos hefted his sword; Lauden accepted the shotgun Danielle had given him, while Danielle unholstered the pistol on her belt. Sarah Jane held up the truncheon with the intent to beat any hostile entities across the head if they got closer; Father Wyngarde had his hands clasped in prayer, the ornate case he'd brought with him tucked under one arm. Lucia growled and struck a fighting stance, her fists clenched.

The Doctor merely held the Sonic Screwdriver aloft, pointing it towards the doorway.

A pair of clockwork automatons---a maid and a butler---entered the foyer.

“Nobody say or do anything until I give the signal,” the Time Lord warned. “Just let them give their spiel, and then follow my lead.....”

The clockwork butler stiffly raised his right arm, as if to shake hands with the Time Lord.....

“Doctor, get away from him,” Lucia warned. “He's got---”

Danielle broke ranks and ran past Lauden and Janos, just as the butler's hand fell away to reveal a wicked gun barrel. Before the Doctor could react, the sergeant had shoved him out of the way---only Lucia's inhuman speed and timely intervention kept him from hitting the stone wall full force.

As soon as he turned and saw the gout of flame envelop Danielle, however....

“DANIELLE!” Lauden raised the shotgun and fired, taking off a quarter of the butler's head with a single shot.

Janos charged forward, ducking under the spray of fire and grabbing the clockwork butler around the waist; as Lauden fired again, the vampire noble managed to lift the automaton into a suplex position (once Lauden, Sarah Jane and Father Wyngarde were out of range of the flamethrower), depositing the butler directly on what was left of its head on the stone floor. The flame spurted, then died out entirely, just as the furiously ticking body of the butler went limp.

“You. Are. All. Tres-Passing,” the clockwork maid declared, oblivious to the butler's demise. “You. Will Be---”

A single gunshot cut her off.

“Do us all a favor,” Danielle Tomlinson declared---her voice sounding just a bit synthetic compared to its former lifelike tones---”and SHUT THE BLOODY HELL UP!”

The smoke from the fire that had apparently consumed her was gone, as were the flames----and, to Lauden's shock, Danielle's flesh had been destroyed as well. Her uniform was shredded in places, and strips of skin were still hanging off---but her face was completely gone....at least, her human face was. Whereas the heads of other droids had latices of steel, gears and wire under glass, Danielle's skinless face was, surprisingly, exactly the same as it had been before, her features recreated with painstaking detail in ribbons of brass, steel and bronze. Her hair, surprisingly, hadn't burnt off; her eyes now glowed with a furious electricity.

“You. Are. Damaged,” the maid declared. “You. Will. Be---”

Another gunshot cut her off, taking out her left eye.

“Like I just said,” Danielle repeated, “shut up.”

Lauden strode forward, dumbstruck. “......Danielle?”

“It's still me, Charles,” Danielle informed the Chief Inspector. “Just...well.....” She gestured at her metallic (and surprisingly still-expressive) face, looking almost apologetic.

“....right...”

Danielle rolled her eyes. “Shouldn't we be, ah....” She nodded at the clockwork maid.

“OH, yes! Of course, of course....” Lauden raised the shotgun, as Danielle aimed her pistol---

“You'll recall that I said not to do anything before I gave the signal,” the Doctor cut in, earning an exasperated groan from Lauden---and an arched eyebrow (or as near a recreation of one as her face could make) from Danielle. “Were you not paying attention when I was just set on fire?” she reminded him.

“......fair enough.” The Time Lord nodded. “You may fire when---”

The volley of gunshots from the two officers drowned out the last word of his sentence, becoming a cacophony in the stone-walled foyer. By the time Lauden and Danielle had finished firing, the clockwork maid had been cut in half by their combined gunfire.

“.....ready,” the Doctor finished. “Which you already were, apparently...oh, and thanks for the save, Lucia.”

“You're welcome.....” Lucia had already left the Doctor's side to examine Danielle up close. “How---

“I guess I was built tougher than the rest of them,” Danielle replied. “I survived a bullet to the shoulder, after all....didn't expect I'd have to get hit full-bore with a flamethrower, though!”

“And I assume this means we can't pose as security now,” Lauden mused. “Well, I could, but---”

“Charles....” Danielle gave him a look.

“If anyone was expecting me to split the party before this little development, they can forget it now,” the Doctor interjected. “I'm assuming the fire didn't cause any significant internal damages?” Danielle paced the width of the room a few times. “Not that I can tell, Doctor.” She finished with a short hop and a “ta-da” flourish.

The Time Lord nodded. “Excellent. Everyone else still feeling fit?”

“Apart from the fact that Janos has apparently left the group,” Father Wyngarde began, “we're all---”

Before the priest could finish, Janos was at the Doctor's side in an instant. “The garden door is locked,” he stated, “and the hallway is teeming with....well...” He glanced over his shoulder, just as groaning issued from the corridor. “You may want to reload....” He stopped when he noticed Danielle's skinless face.

“She's still on our side,” the Doctor assured him, “and still, ah, functioning at an optimum level.”

“What he said,” Danielle deadpanned.

Janos glanced at her for a second. “You're sure you're okay with not having any skin on you?”

“If it makes you feel any better,” Danielle replied, “I didn't feel it when my face got burned off.”

Father Wyngarde sighed. “As strange as her predicament is, Janos, she is still our ally. Her standing among us hasn't changed, even if her appearance has.”

“.....understood.” Janos nodded.

“Glad we cleared all that up.” The Doctor slapped Janos on the back, grinning. “Which means that we can start focusing on where to go next.....you said the door leading to the garden was locked?”

“And that the corridor ahead isn't empty. We may have to move quickly, Doctor---”

Sarah Jane's gasp cut him off---a shambling humanoid figure was entering the room, with what could only be described as the stench of grisly death emanating from its form. Remnants of what had once been clothes hung loosely from its frame. Three other figures, similar in appearance (and odor), were shuffling behind the first, barely able to raise their arms and grasp at what was in front of them.

Lucia's earlier remark, about “Dracula has always been defended by the dead,” suddenly made a lot more sense to everyone in the foyer.

“Please tell me those things don't infect others,” Sarah Jane whispered.

“Dracula himself is the one who reanimates the dead,” Lucia replied, her tone grim. “Their only job is to kill any intruders....what happens to them afterwards depends on how much of the corpse is left.”

Again, Sarah Jane nearly gasped, but the Doctor stepped forward. “Then we'll all have to do our best to not die,” he stated, as if it were the easiest thing in the world to not get killed by zombies. “Shouldn't be a problem at all, should it, Sarah Jane?”

Something about his smile, and the casual way he spoke of impending death, was surprisingly reassuring.

“No problem at all, Doctor,” Sarah Jane replied, nodding---even as Janos stormed past her, sword held high, to disembowel the shambling corpses.

“There's still the problem of which way we need to go after this is over with,” Danielle reiterated. “Right, or---”

“The garden is probably overrun, by now,” Lucia countered. “We'd be better off going left---”

The Doctor gave a cough that sounded suspiciously like “Vortex Manipulators”. Out in the corridor, Janos had sliced the arms off of yet the last zombie standing. “And you're sure those are safe?” Danielle asked, nodding to the Vortex Manipulator on the Doctor's left wrist.

“I used them in the hospital, to keep Janos from killing Mina Price. If they weren't safe, I wouldn't be here.”

“.....right....”

A sound like an over-ripe watermelon being crushed under the sole of a boot cut her off; Janos strode back into the foyer a few seconds later. “They won't be getting back up,” he informed the group, gesturing at what was left of the zombies. “I made sure of it.”

“So now all we need to do is figure out where to go,” Danielle finished. “Left, apparently---”

“I have a better idea,” the Doctor cut in. “The grand gala where all of the guests are going to be....I'd hazard a guess that this kind of thing would take place in a ballroom or a similarly-sized chamber, right?”

“The ballroom, yes.” Lucia nodded. “But why---”

“All of you make your way to the castle keep,” the Doctor advised. “Actually, not all of you---Lauden, Janos, Father Wyngarde, I'll probably need you to come with me.....okay, on second thought, we should all head for the ballroom first, to save Emma, and then we all head for the castle keep.”

“All of us heading to the ballroom at one time?” Father Wyngarde mused. “That....wouldn't exactly be subtle.”

“I'd rather ditch subtlety and get Emma back than go the sneaky-stealthy route...time isn't on our side anymore, and we can't afford to waste even a second.”

Danielle and Lauden glanced at each other, then nodded.

“And you?” The Doctor turned his attention to Father Wyngarde and Janos.

“We have no intention of seeing Emma corrupted by Dracula, Doctor. We stand with you.” Father Wyngarde nodded, as did Janos.

“You don't have to ask me where I stand on it,” Sarah Jane added. “The last thing I want is for someone's life to be ruined by Dracula, or any of this insanity....” She shook her head. “You can count me in. Whatever I can do to help get Emma away from here, and to stop Dracula....I'll do it.”

“I wouldn't go that far....but fair enough.” The Time Lord glanced at Lucia. “.....and you?”

The vampire stared at him. “You seem to think I'm still blindly loyal to him after he discarded me.”

“Are you?”

Lucia scowled. “He left me for dead, Doctor. Discarded me, in favor of Emma...” She stared at the floor. “I would like nothing more than to see him broken at your feet---and not just because he would sooner have Emma than take me back. He lied to me....lied to all of us....”

Her eyes were brimming with tears. “...no more.”

The Doctor nodded. “I'm sorry that this is all I can do for you---”

“It's more than enough, Doctor.”

Again, the Time Lord nodded. “So....now that we're all on the same page, any short-cuts we can take to get to the ballroom without any incidents?”

“I thought those Vortex Manipulators could get us where we need to go,” Sarah Jane mused.

“For instances when you need to get out of a tricky situation with little room for mistakes, yes....but using them wrong could put you into a tricky situation.” The Doctor sighed. “It's a lot more complicated than just pressing a button and....okay, well, that's most of what it is, but still---”

“I know the way to the ballroom,” Lucia cut in. “It's the shortest distance.....and the least guarded.”

“Sounds a bit too convenient for my liking,” Lauden mused, frowning.

“The security was moved to the entrance of the keep,” Lucia insisted. “At least it was before....it had been moved the last time I was here, and there's no reason they'd be moved back into position....”

The Doctor considered her statement. “....what's the catch?”

“Catch?” Lucia echoed. “What---”

“Shortest distance, least guarded way.....there has to be a caveat here. What is it?”

“.....how well can all of you climb?”

Father Wyngarde arched an eyebrow. “Pardon?”

“The fastest way from here to the ballroom is to break one of the windows up ahead and scale the walls,” Lucia admitted. “There aren't any guards on the upper floor, outside of the ballroom....none were ever posted at the windows. If we climb fast, without any mistakes, it'd take.....six minutes. I've climbed higher walls in at least three minutes---I'm sure Janos could do the same!”

“....and for the rest of us?” Father Wyngarde inquired. “Including those of advanced age?”

“....ah....”

“Vortex Manipulators.” The Doctor held up his wrist. “I sync mine with yours, and then when Sarah Jane, Danielle, Lucia, Janos and---of course---I all reach the upper floor, I use the Vortex Manipulator to beam you two up there, for lack of a better term.” He grinned. “Sounds like a plan, right?”

“.....if the Chief Inspector has no problems with it,” Wyngarde replied, “I can't see anything wrong with it.”

“But you're sure it will work?” Lauden insisted. “You're positive we won't have our genes recombinated or fuse together or anything like that?”

“.....seeing as how this isn't the teleporter booth from The Fly, I can assure you that you're in no danger of any 'recombination',” the Doctor replied. “It'll work, Lauden. Trust me---and before you ask, Sarah Jane, yes, I'll keep you from falling off the side of the building if you lose your grip, the same way I'll be able to teleport Lauden and Father Wyngarde to the corridor outside of the ballroom after we all get up there ourselves.”

“....I was trying not to think of that eventuality, but thanks for clearing it up,” Sarah Jane muttered.

“RIGHT, so now that we've got that sorted out....” The Time Lord grinned. “Who's going to do the honors---”

Glass shattered in the hallway, setting his hair on edge.

“Window's out,” Danielle called. “Didn't feel a thing when I punched through the glass...”

“......as I was saying,” the Doctor continued, “now that we've got this all sorted out---and with the window no longer being a problem, thanks to Sergeant Tomlinson---let's get a move-on to that upper floor, shall we?” He managed to smile without looking completely insane. “I'll climb first....whoever wants to follow, feel free---and please try not to lose your grip and fall, because even with the Vortex Manipulators, there are a lot of ways this whole thing can end very, very badly.”

Sarah Jane tried not to look too concerned. “I'll do my best, Doctor...I mean, after all, how hard can it be?”

Lucia rolled her eyes, but nodded. “Vampires can scale sheer walls without issue. You won't need to worry about me, Doctor.”

“Or me,” Janos added. “Though in fairness, I haven't scaled any sheer walls in a long time....”

“Glad to hear that two of you can handle this without my intervention...Sarah Jane?”

“....like I said, I'll do my best to not lose my grip and, well.....” Sarah Jane shrugged. “I won't be anywhere near as fast as them---” She nodded at Lucia and Janos. “....but I'll do what I can.”

“All I needed to hear. Sergeant---”

“I won't have a problem with it.” Contrary to his expectation of her still being in the hallway by the window, Danielle was standing at the Doctor's side. “Sorry if I startled you, or anything....”

“Not a problem.” The Doctor grinned. “I was just about to ask if you're feeling fit enough to climb...”

“'Feeling fit' won't be an issue.” Danielle stretched, as if warming up; no whirring could be heard emanating from her figure, other than the faintest hints of it behind her metallic face. “I'll try not to race Sarah Jane, Janos and Lucia up the side of the building, as well,” she added.

“Good to hear. And you two won't have a problem staying down here?”

“I've got a shotgun,” Lauden replied, “and Gary has---”

“I have all that I need to defend myself,” Father Wyngarde stated. “Nothing more, nothing less.”

“....what he said.”

“Once again, good to hear.” The Doctor nodded, throwing in a smile for good measure (and to mask the fact that he hated the prospect of scaling a wall, even if it was to rescue Emma and defeat Dracula). “Before we start our ascent, though....Danielle, you did clear away all of the broken glass from the window, right? Last thing we need is for anyone to get cut before we climb....”

Lucia nodded her agreement. “Even with all of the guests here, new blood would be noticed quickly.”

“By smell,” Janos added. “Especially yours, Doctor....”

“Figured that---hence my request for all of the glass from the window to be taken out before we go up---”

More shatterting sounds cut him off, these slightly less grating than the last had been. “....I'm guessing that's the signal for 'all the glass is cleared now, Doctor',” he mused.

Seconds later, Danielle shouted: “THE WINDOW'S CLEAR, DOCTOR!”

“Not quite what I'd said, but good enough for me---THANKS FOR THE HEADS-UP!” The Time Lord flashed a quick grin and a thumbs-up in the sergeant's direction. “And with that, it's time to climb.” A joke about the coincidental rhyming was on his tongue, but Lucia and Janos brushed past him without a word. He glanced at Sarah Jane, as if to silently ask “was it that bad?”; Sarah Jane merely shrugged before following the vampires into the hallway.

“....I need to remember to save the comedy bits for later,” the Doctor mused. “In any case, enough waffle. I have a friend to save, an ancient vampire to defeat, and....oh, the hell with it....”

He turned on his feet, nearly tripping in the process. “...damn it....Lauden, Wyngarde, you know the drill!”
-----------------------------------------------------
Through the darkness of future past,
The magician longs to see....
One chants out between two worlds:
"Fire...walk with me."

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DukeNukem 2417
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Re: Doctor Who: The Doctor vs. Dracula - Part 7

Postby DukeNukem 2417 » Sun Dec 24, 2017 9:10 pm

“At the very least, you could pretend to enjoy yourself.....the guests deserve to see you at your best.”

Dracula's suggestion---the latest, after what felt like hours of sitting around, giving fake smiles and trying not to look terrified at her possible, eventual fate---nearly prompted Emma to swear at him. She settled for another fake smile. “I don't look like I'm enjoying myself now?”

“You look like you desperately need to go to the toilet. A far cry from enjoying the----”

“Forgive me,” Emma replied, emphasizing the “I” in “forgive” to an almost obscene degree, “if I can't bring myself to act like being held hostage in the castle of a sodding vampire is a favorite hobby....why nobody else is whinging, I couldn't begin to guess----”

Cold fingers touched her chin, turning her head to face that of her captor.

“I insist,” Dracula intoned, “that you put the slightest bit of effort into your....performance....”

The scowl on Emma's face faded; something in the Count's voice, in his stare, compelled her to nod. Knowing that her actions were the product of low-level mind control did little, if anything, to make her feel any more at ease. “Right, right...effort....” She smiled again, almost feeling like she actually was enjoying herself---only to gasp at the thought, quickly turning away. “Stop it!”

“I cannot stop what I have not begun. Any semblance of enjoyment is entirely your own---”

“Like hell it is!” Emma wanted, more than anything, to glare at the Count, to scream at him and call him a liar and a monster.....or was it just an excuse to stare into his eyes again, those ancient eyes that had seen so much, offered so much.......

“Much better,” Dracula stated, smiling. “You are beginning to understand---”

Any human being wouldn't have seen the glinting of the steak knife until it was far too late, if at all---fewer still would've had the presence of mind, or indeed the reflexes, to stop the blade before it pierced their neck.

Unfortunately for Emma, Dracula---as he'd proven repeatedly---was no longer a mere human being.

“Most in my position,” he murmured, “would be disappointed by such a blatant act of betrayal....” Slowly, his iron grip encircling Emma's wrist, he moved her hand away from his neck; the blade had just touched the pale flesh, leaving the barest hint of a crimson dot. “The Elder would demand that I kill you this instant, for such a heinous attempt.....but he is no longer among us, and his word meant little to me in the waning hours of his existence.”

“Let me go,” Emma muttered. “Get your stupid dead fingers off of my stupid not-dead wrist, and---”

“You are in no position to command me......child...” Dracula moved back, and for a moment, he considered striking Emma for her insolence....

On the far side of the ballroom, the band struck up a new song---a waltz, this time. “.....I think the time has come for you to join the dance.” Dracula relaxed his grip on Emma's wrist, holding her arm as if inviting her to accompany him. “You are, after all, the guest of honor....and as the host of this event, I insist you share this dance with me.” Again, he smiled.

“.....fine.” Emma was surprised at how little of her anger made it into that one word.

Dracula nodded. “I take it you've danced before?”

Emma stared at the floor, doing her best not to even look up at her “host” as she walked.

The song was an old one---far before Emma's time, and far too old for even the most elderly of the guests to remember. This did little to impede the band, of course---from the moment they started playing, it sounded as if they'd performed it every night for the past few decades. The movement of couples on the floor was like something out of the Golden Age of Hollywood: not a step out of sync, not a toe out of time with the music.

“Allow me to lead,” Dracula suggested. “It wouldn't do if you stumbled over your own feet....”

Emma just nodded, still staring at the floor. There was a resonance to the Count's voice that...stirred feelings within her. She knew it was what the Doctor called “the whammy”, and that she had to fight it....

As if on cue, the music from the band grew louder---almost drowning out her thoughts in the process.

Now, Emma did look up---not at Dracula, but at the other couples dancing---she hoped, against all hope, that amidst the sea of faces around her, one of the crowd might turn out to be the Doctor. He had, after all, stood up to Dracula in the lobby when all of those officers were under “the whammy”, and he'd made an attempt to rescue her again when Dracula had abducted her from the Exeter police building---more than likely, if he wasn't already at the castle, he was on his way.

Hopefully, he would arrive soon....

“He will come for you,” Dracula whispered. “Already, his allies have penetrated the defenses of the castle....”

Emma tried not to look too hopeful at the news. “You're lying.”

“I have no need to lie, child...the Doctor is in the castle as we speak. I have no doubt of it.”

“So you don't even know?”

“I do.” The music did little to hide the sheer smugness in Dracula's voice. “His exact location is....difficult, to discern, but the beating of his hearts is impossible to ignore. The Time Lord is in the castle, somewhere.....and he will face me before this night ends.”

“And what if he doesn't?” Emma replied. “What if he decides he doesn't want to?”

Dracula's reply was chilling in its simplicity: “Then I will give him a very good reason to face me.”

At that point, Emma chose to look up, almost expecting Dracula to be sneering at her---but the smile on his lips was....friendly, almost disturbingly so. “I trust you will avoid interfering in my efforts,” he continued. “I would prefer it if my confrontation with the Doctor was....unsullied, by any sudden betrayals or counter-productive efforts on your part.”

“You're telling me to stay out of it,” Emma mused, frowning. “Why---”

“For someone who has never danced this way, you've proven quite adept at it....it would be most embarassing if you should suddenly falter....” Again, Dracula's smile was disarmingly friendly. “You'll find that I can be a more than agreeable dance partner, when the need arises....I ask only that you trust me.”

With every word, Emma could feel the “whammy” hitting her even more. “.....trust...you?”

“....you trusted the Doctor, did you not? To his credit, you have been kept safe, protected from all that would do you harm....but now, you must understand and accept that your fate lies with me.”

Emma nodded, and glanced out to see where the other couples were on the dance floor.

To her shock, the ballroom was---other than the band and a few clockwork servants---entirely empty.

“I told you earlier,” Dracula whispered, “that every minute of your time has been accounted for. I neglected to mention, however, that every minute of your time, within these castle walls, is also mine....the Doctor is not the only one who can manipulate time and space.”

“....it's a trick,” Emma gasped. “....you....you've only hidden them....”

“Perhaps I have. Or perhaps I truly have manipulated the flow of time in this room to accelerate the departure of every other guest.....this is, after all, my domain.”

Emma strained her ears to hear something, anything that would indicate the arrival of the Doctor, or even the presence of others in the room....but the music, the movement of her own feet (and Dracula's) and the frantic beating of her own heart were all that filled her ears.

“Do not trouble yourself with questions,” the Count advised. “Simply dance.....and enjoy......”

The music continued to build, and Emma tried, one last time, to look around the room for any signs of life.....

….only to look up and find herself staring directly into the eyes of Dracula.

All concerns about where everyone else had gone, or why they had apparently disappeared, vanished in that instant. All that mattered was the music, the dance...all she could focus on was not stumbling over her own feet, or somehow failing to meet the Count's standars. She was only vaguely aware that she'd been waiting for someone else, but any thoughts of who she was waiting for seemed to be fleeting, vague....maybe she hadn't been waiting for anyone, after all.

There was the distinct possibility, in the back of her mind, that she'd been waiting for Dracula the entire time.

It almost felt like she was floating above the floor of the ballroom, in the Count's embrace; whatever fears she'd had, whatever apprehension about her situation she'd harbored, had already started to melt away like ice in the sun. The music reverberated through the chamber, seeming to match the rhythm of her own heart....

….and this moment, this incredible moment, was hers, and only hers. It belonged to her.

“Let your mind embrace this moment,” Dracula's voice intoned, seemingly from all around her. “Let your heart soar through the night skies, and your soul cry out in ecstasy as you savor this.....the cares and troubles of the world are beneath us both. Nothing, and no-one, can take this from you.”

“No-one,” Emma repeated, her eyes wide.

“You are a jewel, a treasure of the highest value....none can match the splendor you possess.”

“A jewel,” Emma murmured, “a treasure.....”

“.....and most importantly of all......you are mine......”

Emma's eyes closed, a languid sigh leaving her lips. “.....I am yours.....”

The smile on Dracula's lips finally turned sinister. At last, at long last, one of the Doctor's friends was about to fall. Nevermind the fact that the room was, in fact, still full of “guests” dancing, conversing, laughing, partaking of the catering and doing what guests at fancy parties tended to do---they were meaningless. Emma, finally beginning to succumb in the grip of the count, was all that mattered.

With any luck, the Doctor would be just late enough to burst in as Emma was turned....

…..and his screams, as she died before him, would be the sweetest music of all.
-----------------------------------------------------
“How much further?!”

Sarah Jane's shouted question almost went unanswered; the Doctor, for the first three minutes of the climb, hadn't had a problem with it. The masonry was almost perfectly suited for climbing the wall, and it didn't seem like it had been that long since he'd started from the ground floor. Everything was going swimmingly....

…and then he'd made the mistake of looking down.

Time Lords, as a rule, weren't known for having problems with things like vertigo. The Doctor personally had no problem standing at the open door of the TARDIS as it hovered over mountain ranges, or a picturesque villa, just to admire the view. He'd climbed before---the gantry around the Thal rocket on Skaro had been a particularly harrowing example---and felt no ill effects...but something about Castle Dracula galled him to his core when he glanced down, trying to reassure Sarah Jane Smith that it wasn't that much longer to the window outside of the ballroom.

He managed to shout “Won't be long now!” with a forced grin, looking away before Sarah Jane could see him muttering under his breath about how stupid an idea this had been.

Lucia and Janos, of course, had already reached the window, and taken out the glass with little (if any) effort at all. Calls of “WATCH IT!” preceeded their throwing down of the panes, which meant that nobody took a glass shard to the eye or anything horrible.....which did little, if anything, to comfort the Time Lord.

“At least it's not a radio tower,” he reminded himself. “This is definitely not as bad as climbing a radio tower...”

His fears about ascending the wall had nothing to do with wind, and surprisingly little to do with falling off; the problem he had with climbing the wall was that there was no way it was from one of the six castles that “Baron Lathos” had torn down to create a new castle. Something about the texture of the bricks, the feel of the masonwork beneath his fingers....it just felt off.

Questions for later. Right now.....

Without looking back down to see if Sarah Jane and Danielle were following him, the Doctor moved further up the wall, slowly but steadily. His muscles were just starting to ache, and the biting cold air of the night was more than likely the only reason he hadn't worked up a sweat on the way up.

The window to the upper floor seemed just far enough out of reach to be impossible to get to....

Screw it. If Dracula's not playing by the rules, then neither am I.

“Sarah Jane! Danielle!”

“YES, DOCTOR?!”

“WHAT NOW?!”

“Hold tight to the wall, and count to....five, at the very least!” The Doctor moved his left arm just enough so that he could hit the Vortex Manipulator's activator with his chin. Five....four....three....two....one....

The tip of his chin hit the activator, and the wall winked out of existence before him.

Before anything else happened, a brightly-lit corridor winked into existence in front of him---and he nearly fell face-forward onto a stone bench. A few feet to his left, Sarah Jane was standing, arms held in a climbing pose, before a tapestry; Danielle was standing in a doorway, her hands barely touching the frame around her.

Janos and Lucia exchanged confused looks. “I thought you were climbing,” Lucia mused.

“We were,” the Doctor admitted, “but I got sick of it---you can open your eyes now, Sarah Jane, we're in the corridor.” Sarah Jane glanced around, realizing that her feet were, in fact, on solid ground.

“Danielle, you may want to move out of the doorway, while we're here---otherwise we might get spotted early, and this whole thing will end rather quickly.” The Doctor nodded as Danielle stepped back, glancing at him with a frown. “You used the Vortex Manipulator,” she surmised. “I thought we were climbing the wall---”

“We were,” the Doctor repeated. “I just figured I'd spare you the trouble of having to go the whole way---”

“I could've handled it.”

“True...but could she have?” The Doctor nodded at Sarah Jane. “Everything all right?”

“....other than some mild aching of every muscle in my body, I'm fine, Doctor.” Sarah Jane shivered under her jacket. “....and a bit chilly.”

“The cold was starting to get to me, too....” The Doctor sighed. “At least we didn't try to get Lauden and Father Wyngarde to climb up here with us....which reminds me.” Without another word, he pressed the activator on the Vortex Manipulator again---

---and clapped Lauden on the back as soon as the Chief Inspector appeared before him. “Sorry to---”

“DON'T DO THAT!” Lauden thundered, nearly dropping the shotgun. “Doctor, how in the---”

“Vortex Manipulator. Long story, don't have time to explain---Sarah Jane, Danielle, Lucia and Janos are on the upper floor, which is where you two need to be soon.”

Father Wyngarde nodded. “Do we need to hold our breaths or anything similar?”

“Not for this. Just let me make sure the Vortex Manipulators are synced up....” The Doctor hit the activator switch on his Manipulator again---

---and the ground floor disappeared for a femtosecond, replaced just as quickly by the upper floor where Lucia, Janos, Danielle and Sarah Jane waited. “....that was entirely too quick,” Danielle mused, frowning. “These Vortex Manipulator things are almost like cheating, really....”

“I have a feeling Dracula doesn't care about cheating,” the Doctor replied. “The powerful rarely do...”

Before anyone could comment on his remark, he paced the length of the corridor. “Right, Lucia---which door leads to the ballroom, and how secure is it?”

“...the ballroom is in the center of this level of the castle, Doctor. We need to---”

“Start moving now, then. The quicker, the better.” The Doctor was already heading for the doorway Danielle had appeared in after using the Vortex Manipulator. “And while we're on the move, feel free to tell me what exactly we're dealing with in terms of security---”

“It's not that simple, Doctor,” Lucia cut in. “The castle isn't just guarded by creatures---”

“The castle itself is its own security,” the Doctor finished. “I expected as much, as soon as I felt the walls during our little climb....I think it's safe to say that we can add 'consumate liar' to Dracula's ever-growing list of titles...” He smirked at the thought. “This castle wasn't build from six other castles---it wasn't even made from one other castle....”

He glanced at the walls around him. “...this place wasn't even made by human hands.”

“You're not suggesting this place was made by....aliens, or something?!” Lauden protested. “He said himself that the castle---”

“He's telling the truth,” Lucia cut in. “This place was designed by Dracula, but built by those....things.”

“The clockwork people?” the Doctor prompted.

Lucia nodded. “It was part of their 'arrangement' with Dracula....they built him a castle, he gave them flesh. I think he took maybe...one stone from each of the castles he 'tore down'.....he showed me where each one was placed.”

“I assume he told Graaf all of this?”

“Graaf didn't care. As long as he was allowed to slake his thirst when he wanted....”

The Doctor shook his head. “Leave it to Dracula to use ignorance to his advantage....but anyway. It's like I said, this place needs very little in the way of external or extraneous security.....because it secures itself. The walls around us? Feel them, just for a second.....”

Lauden, Father Wyngarde and Janos felt the walls. “....this doesn't feel like stone,” Janos murmured.

“Doctor.....what is this?” Lauden gasped.

The Time Lord was staring at Lucia. “Tell them.”

“.....it's bone.” The vampire was staring at the floor. “Every wall, every floor, every ceiling---all as heavy as stone, with the same consistency, but they're all bone.”

“This castle,” the Doctor stated, “isn't just a fortress of extravegance or anything like that. As much as I hate to compare it to the TARDIS....there is one similarity between the two---and no, it's not that this castle can travel through time....at least, I hope not.” He shuddered at the thought. “The thing is....whether you want to believe it or not, Dracula's castle is alive.”

He waited for Lauden to shout “That's absurd!”, or for anyone else to tell him the idea sounded insane.

Nobody spoke up against it.

“.....that would explain,” Father Wyngarde quietly remarked, “why I've felt as if we're being watched.”

“So it's actually alive, then,” Sarah Jane murmured. “The castle....the building we're standing in right now...is alive.....” She pulled her jacket tighter around herself, shivering.

“You're not telling me this castle has internal organs,” Lauden intoned. “You can't expect---”

“It has a heart, at the very least.” Lucia was staring at the floor again. “It's in one of the towers....it was almost crystalized, when I first saw it, but it....changed, over time---”

“How big?”

The Doctor's question actually startled the vampire. “....what?”

“This heart, in the tower, the one that started out crystalized and changed into something more organic as the days went by. How big was it?”

“....bigger than a human being. Big enough to fit in a full-sized room.”

Sarah Jane's eyes went wide; Danielle exchanged a worried glance with Lauden, and Janos let out a sharp hiss of a breath. “Big enough to fill a room?” Father Wyngarde echoed, frowning. “What kind of---”

“A Great Vampire.”

The Doctor's hands were at his sides, clenched into fists. “So Dracula really did kill one...and he's using its heart somehow.....” He shook his head. “I have a feeling we're going to have to destroy the heart before we can get to Drac---”

“No!” Lucia grabbed his arm. “Doctor, you can't---”

Danielle, Lauden and Janos all reached for their weapons, preparing to strike the vampire down.

“I can't what?” the Time Lord quietly asked.

“.....the heart.....if you destroy the heart before we reach Dracula.....the entire castle could go down, with us still inside of it!”

With quick glances at Danielle, Lauden and Janos, assuring them that they could back off, the Doctor gently pulled away from Lucia. “So we have one group find the heart of the castle, and another group take down Dracula. If we can coordinate our actions closely enough, Dracula would be defeated right when the heart is destroyed---”

“How, exactly, does the destruction of a Great Vampire's heart take out the entire castle?” Lauden cut in.

Lucia didn't immediately reply; as Lauden watched, she strode towards one of the windows, staring at the spires beyond. “Dracula is attuned to it,” she quietly explained. “If someone manages to gain the upper hand in a fight against him, he can shunt off the pain to the heart. As long as there's some sliver of life remaining in the heart, it can heal itself at the first light of dawn.”

“And if the heart is destroyed before Dracula?”

“.....I don't know what would happen,” Lucia admitted. “Dracula swore that the destruction of the heart would be the end of the castle....none of us ever saw a reason to argue with him.”

The Doctor cupped his chin in one hand. “....it wouldn't work.”

Lauden arched an eyebrow. “What wouldn't work, Doctor?”

“......taking out the heart wouldn't be enough to destroy the entire castle,” the Doctor mused. “Even if it was storing energy like some kind of massive battery...damaging the heart enough to destroy it wouldn't be enough to wipe out a castle. There's something we're not seeing, or not getting, about this---”

“Whatever we're 'not getting',” Danielle cut in, “we're about to 'get' some company.”

Sarah Jane finally unholstered the revolver at her side. “More automatons?”

A chorus of squeaking and rustling was the only reply she received.

“......that'd be a 'no', then,” the Doctor mused. “Weapons at the ready, don't get bitten, and---”

Every other window in the corridor shattered in unison, followed by the unmistakable sounds of a swarm of bats converging on the Doctor's group.

Scattered gunfire and screaming filled the corridor. Every three seconds, more bat corpses littered the floor.

This is good, the Time Lord realized. This is great....we're actually making an impact here---

Hands closed around his throat, even as bats continued to swarm.

“No tricks this time, Doctor.” Graaf's unmistakable growl cut through the din of the melee. “Now, you die!”

“....nice to...see you too...Graaf,” the Doctor gasped. “You're looking.....well, the same---”

“Shut up,” Graaf snarled. “The master wanted you delievered to him intact.....but I see no reason to---”

A savage blow to the side of the head cut him off, sending him to the floor.

“.....you,” he groaned, staring up at his attacker. “You traitor!”

“Dracula betrayed me first, Graaf---and he'll do the same to you.” Lucia helped the Doctor to his feet, her stare never leaving her former ally. “Leave now---”

Graaf let loose with a scream and charged, fully intent on ripping Lucia's throat out—but the female vampire ran at him just as he ran at her. The battle between the two was lost to the swarm of bats, still being cut down by Danielle, Lauden and even Sarah Jane. For his part, the Doctor stayed low, trying not to get hit by friendly fire or trip over his own feet---or, for that matter, step on any dead bats.

It took a few more minutes for the swarm to disperse---by that time, a few dozen dead bats littered the floor.

“Good job, everyone,” the Doctor declared, glancing around to make sure all of his allies were still alive. “Now we just need to---”

A scream from farther down the corridor interrupted his remarks---Lucia was smashing Graaf's face into a wall.

“....the hell did he come from?!” Lauden gasped. “All I saw were bats---”

“He probably flew in with them, and then, well...” The Doctor shrugged. “For the record, I only noticed him when he tried to strangle me, so----”

Another scream served as the unintended punctuation for his remark.

Seconds later, Graaf hit the floor in front of him, his face bloodied and his clothing torn to shreds.

“....you whore....” He made an attempt to glare at Lucia, only to collapse. “.....siding....with these vermin...”

“They're not vermin,” Lucia coldly replied, kneeling down to grab the defeated vampire by the hair. “They could've killed me fifteen times over by now, and they haven't---”

“---so they can.....kill us both?!” Graaf spat. “IDIOT---”

Lucia slammed his face into the floor; Sarah Jane winced at the sight, and even Danielle had to turn away.

“That's enough.” The Doctor managed to place himself between the two vampires before Lucia could strike Graaf again. “I'm pretty sure he gets the point....”

Any hope of being thanked by Graaf vanished when the vampire deliberately coughed blood onto his shoes.

“Don't do that again,” Lucia hissed, yanking Graaf's arm behind his back.

“I don't take orders from traitors---”

“Dracula is using you, Graaf! He used both of us---”

“You think I care?!” Graaf pulled away from Lucia,backhanding her across the face. “We were 'used' by our old sires, before Dracula came along---”

“My sire never 'used' me, Graaf!”

“Lucky you.” Graaf practically spat the second word. “Dracula is the future, and these pathetic worms are the past.....you're betraying our kind just to---”

“We were human, before this! You can't have forgotten what it was like to live.....”

Graaf stared, in absolute disgust, at Lucia, before turning his attention to Wyngarde, Lauden and Sarah Jane, all of whom were watching the exchange with looks ranging from apprehension to fear. “You would really throw away everything we've been given to protect....these?”

“Dracula betrayed me, Graaf! He abandoned me!”

“And you repay him by joining them---”

A gunshot cut off Graaf's rebuke. “We have names,” Danielle cut in, her metallic features giving an unnerving impression of disdain as she stared down the vampire. “We're people---and that includes me, so don't bother trying to tell me I'm just a thing.” She glanced at Lucia; “Like it or not,” she continued, “Lucia has already made up her mind on what she wants to do, and who she's going to side with---”

“She's made the wrong choice,” Graaf spat. “This is a mistake, Lucia---”

“And your continuing to antagonize her is also a mistake,” the Doctor declared. “You've made it clear that you have no intention of joining us to stop Dracula, so either leave now or take on all seven of us.....”

The faintest of smiles crossed his lips. “....your call.”

Half of a profane reply was all Graaf could utter; if it were one on one, one on two or even one on four, there was no doubt in his mind that he could've cut them all down. One on seven, however, was pushing it.

“Next time,” he growled, “you all---”

Lucia broke ranks, lunging at him with every intention of throttling him where he stood. For a split seccond, her fingers touched solid flesh---until Graaf seemed to melt into smoke, dissipating before her eyes.

“....well, that was....a thing that happened,” the Doctor mused, adjusting his glasses. “Everyone okay?”

“Other than having wasted ammo on bats,” Danielle replied, “I can't complain.”

“Good to hear. Lucia.....”

“......we should get moving, Doctor. Graaf will be on his way to Dracula as we speak....if he finds out we're still here, he'll send reinforcements---”

“Then let's not linger any longer.” The Doctor grinned. “We should get to the ballroom as soon as possible, and hope that it won't turn too ugly too quickly...everyone, check your ammo and make sure you weren't scratched by the bats or attacked by Graaf during the melee...” He briefly rolled up his own sleeves to examine himself—-as expected, he bore no wounds from the scuffle.

“....and if we're all done with the self-inspection, upwards and onwards!”
-----------------------------------------------------
Through the darkness of future past,
The magician longs to see....
One chants out between two worlds:
"Fire...walk with me."

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DukeNukem 2417
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Re: Doctor Who: The Doctor vs. Dracula - Part 7

Postby DukeNukem 2417 » Sun Dec 24, 2017 9:10 pm

“You dance well, Emma. I cannot deny that I am impressed.”

Dracula's compliment wasn't entirely insincere---his mental manipulation over Emma was only keeping her in his thrall and unwilling to run away. Her graceful movements were entirely her own doing—-unexpected, for someone so young and from such a modern age.

“Thank you,” Emma murmured, staring into the Count's eyes.

“Our moment...this very moment....can last as long as you desire it,” Dracula continued. “I ask only that you stay by my side, so that our dance may continue...” He lowered his voice: “Is it safe for me to assume, at this moment, that you have no desire to leave the ballroom?”

“Wouldn't dream of it,” Emma whispered, resting her head against his chest.

“Excellent.....” Gently, the Count lifted Emma's head so that her gaze met his own.

As appealing as it was to wait for the Doctor to arrive before he turned her, there was no denying performing the deed now would be far easier. “Closer, my dear,” he intoned. “Let us steal a kiss, basking in the light of a full moon....”

“Yes......” Emma's eyes closed, as if she was enjoying the mere anticipation of the moment.

The cruel smile on Dracula's lips went unnoticed by all around him. You have failed, Doctor----

“I GOT CORN PISS!”

The four words, shouted from outside of the ballroom, were loud enough to be heard by all still inside of it; on stage, the band nearly paused, but continued to play. Emma, still in Dracula's arms, looked mildly confused; “What was that?” she murmured, her eyes briefly opening.

“....nothing. Just a passing maniac, or someone with a fondness for liquor.”

“.....right, right...” Again, Emma's eyes closed; Dracula glanced over at the far door, then back at Emma.

…..you will not save this one, child of Gallifrey. This victory is---

I GOT CORN PISS!

Now, Emma was staring at Dracula, then at the door. “....there it was again,” she muttered. “....you said we were alone in here---”

“And alone we most certainly are,” Dracula assured her. “The night is still young, and still ours....” He stared into her eyes, the full force of his will bearing down upon her own. “....and nothing will spoil it for either of us,” he finished. “Nothing.”

“Nothing,” Emma repeated, her confusion replaced by a dreamy smile. Her lips parted in a languid sigh.

With one final glance back at the far door, Dracula turned his full attention to Emma. The decision to turn her right then and there, on the dance floor, was a difficult one to make---but it had its merits. Any “noises” from her would be interpreted as....deeply enjoying the dance, and ignored as such; this interpretation of events would also make for a convenient excuse to carry her off to a spare room, and fully turn her in private.

Seeing the Doctor's reaction, when he arrived to “rescue” her, would definitely be worth the wait.

“Now, Emma,” the Count whispered, “you are mine---”

Over by the far door, a few people were muttering; the band had slowed to a halt in confusion, and were now staring at the door with everyone else, frowning. Dracula barely noticed, at first---the tips of his teeth had just touched Emma's neck when he realized the music had stopped.

A femtosecond later, the waltz was replaced by the most disgusting sound anyone in the ballroom had heard.

It sounded, at first, like a growling stomach, amplified somehow by a microphone (or perhaps by the ballroom's own architecural acoustics). What followed, however, was something unmistakable---amidst the shocked cries and shouted protests of those at the far door, a long, wet, decidedly biological noise filled the ballroom, with the occasional grunt or groan of protest from whoever's body was creating this unholy sound. After a solid two minutes of this, something hit the floor outside the room with a horrible wet squelch....

….followed, immediately afterwards, by the smell.

To the human “guests”, it was merely unpleasant. They shouted for the servants to deal with it, or at least for someone to close the door.....

….but to Dracula, it was unbearable.

Emma's eyes had opened again. “....what....what's going on—-”

“Stay here,” Dracula commanded. “Do not leave the ballroom until I return.” Without another word, he strode off---towards the far end of the room, muttering angrily all the while.

Slowly, it dawned on Emma that the ballroom was still full of people---a few minutes ago, they had all seemed to vanish without a trace...yet here they were. All of them, moving, dancing, around the room, alongside her, enjoying the night with her and with.....

Her stare focused on the retreating figure of the Count....of Dracula.

“.....what.....”

“Feeling a bit light-headed?” A dancing couple---seemingly unbothered by the commotion near the far door of the ballroom---had stopped a few feet away from Emma. “You might want to take a seat for a few minutes...”

“He...he told me to stay here,” Emma replied, not looking at the pair. “He....told me....”

Her eyes widened in shock. “Dracula told me....”

She glanced around the room, then at herself, and the expensive-looking dress she was wearing. “.....what in the hell is going on here?!”

The female of the couple nearby approached her. “You've been hit with the whammy, dear,” she explained. “I wouldn't blame you for being a bit out of sorts....” She motioned to her dance partner. “Got anything to help her clear her head, Jack?”

“I assume you want non-alcoholic, then...”

The woman put an arm around Emma's shoulder, steadying her. “Dracula's had you under his thrall for the last few dance numbers,” she explained. “Fortunately, our...little distraction over there has paid off in spades, and you're coming back to your senses.”

Jack handed over a flask, which the woman presented to Emma. “For your health---mental health, at least.”

After a second's hesitation, Emma drank from it. “Thanks.....but what distraction---”

“WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!”

Even from across the room, there was an undeniable ugliness in the Count's voice that, mere minutes ago, had been entirely absent. “YOU INSOLENT, PATHETIC.....YOU HAVE BEFOULED THE HALLS OF THIS CASTLE WITH YOUR....YOUR FILTH----”

“THIS THA TOILET! I HAD TO GO POTTY!”

The woman at Emma's side glared at Jack. “What the hell did you give her?!”

“Just an over-the-counter diarrhetic, nothing too strong---bringing her here was your idea, River!”

“Don't pin this on me...” River rolled her eyes, then turned her attention back to Emma. “You're going to want to run, sweetie---Dracula's not going to be a happy camper after he's finished dealing with....well, her.”

“And for the record,” Jack added, ignoring a profane shout from Dracula across the room, “that Lindsay girl took the entire bottle, instead of the dose I'd put in---I gave her the recommended level from the box, but---”

“You're with the Doctor, aren't you?” Emma regarded River and Jack with a wary look. “You know him?”

River couldn't help but smile as she nodded. “We figured he might need a bit of a hand for this one.”

“Unfortunately, we can't stay,” Jack admitted, “otherwise we'd attract, shall we say, unwanted attention...but we can at least get you back to him----”

“Hell yes,” Emma replied, kicking off the high-heeled shoes she'd been wearing for the last few dances with Dracula. “And I am not running in those damned things!” With a last glare at the shoes, and her mind fully cleared of the “whammy” Dracula had laid upon her, she now had a firm grasp of the situation---and the small problem involving her position in the ballroom and the location of the nearest exit. “....so, how do we get out of here and not get caught by our obviously ungracious host?”

Jack rolled up his sleeve. “Vortex manipulator. Never leave home without one---”

“And always have a spare,” River finished, retrieving one from the handbag at her side. “All we have to do is zero in on the Doctor's location, and---”

“Ah, whatever you two are going to do, you may want to do it quickly....” Emma nodded at the far door.

A pair of clockwork servants were hauling off Lindsay, and three more were cleaning up her....distraction, as the guests carefully made their way past to get to the door. Dracula himself was shaking his head with his usual disdain, turning away from the scene---

---and at that moment, he spotted Jack and River standing next to Emma.

More to the point, he saw the Vortex Manipulators on their wrists.

Even from across the room, Emma could see the Count's lips mouth the word “no”.

“Sorry to spoil the dance,” Jack called out, “but she's leaving with us!”

“And if you've got a problem with it,” River added, “we've got two words for you---”

Whatever words she was about to say were lost to Dracula's enraged scream.....

…..seconds before the ballroom winked out of existence altogether.
------------------------------
“.....a room full of clocks. We escape Dracula's minions and Vortex Manipulate our way through the castle, and we end up in a room full of clocks.” The Doctor sighed. “Either this is one big coincidence, or---”

Lucia held up a hand to stop him. “.....do you smell that?” Her nose wrinkled in disguist. “....oh, that...EW!”

Without another word, she ran to the corner of the room, dry-heaving with every step.

“I don't smell anything,” Lauden mused. “It's a bit musty in here, but hardly unpleasant---” He stopped when he noticed the look on Janos' face—-as if someone had just shoved a plate of rotten eggs under his nose. “...I assume you can smell the same thing she did?” he quietly asked.

A muttered “yes” was the only reply Janos made---he seemed to be on the verge of being violently ill.

“Vampires have a far more refined sense of smell than humans,” Father Wyngarde pointed out. “Something from three floors up might be as distinct to them as a bed of roses in a windowsil garden would be to us---”

A flash of light, and three figures appearing in the center of the room, interrupted his statement.

“HOLD YOUR FIRE!” one of the new arrivals called out. “We come in peace...nobody shoot us....”

The Doctor smirked. “'We come in peace'?”

“You don't get to laugh about that one, Doctor,” the female of the newly-arrived group remarked. “You've used that term yourself more than once....nearly been shot at for it, too, as I recall—-”

“No need to rub it in, River....” The Time Lord rolled his eyes. “Good to see you too, Jack.....”

He trailed off when Jack stepped aside to reveal the third member of the group. “Emma?!”

“Doctor?!”

“We provided a bit of a distraction to get the Count away from her,” River explained. “It....wasn't a clean one.”

Lucia's wretching in the corner earned a frown from Jack. “She didn't even say what it was—-”

“She's a vampiress,” Sarah Jane explained. “Female vampire, whatever...and on our side, ever since Dracula dumped her.”

Jack arched an eyebrow, only for Danielle to pre-empt the obvious question: “So she was with Dracula?”

“Prick put the full whammy on me,” Emma sulked. “Had me dancing for....what, thirty minutes?” River nodded, and Emma continued. “Had me dancing with him for thirty minutes, in flipping heels....and wearing this, the whole time!” She gestured at the extravagent dress the clockwork servants had “picked” for her.

“To be fair,” River mused, “it does flatter your figure....makes you look a bit like---”

“If you say 'a princess',” Emma warned, holding up a clenched fist, “I'll give you a pair of shiners.”

“It was a compliment----”

“Ah, not to ruin the banter here,” the Doctor interjected, “but....'full whammy'?” He glanced at Emma.

“Dracula was keeping her by his side, dancing with her the whole time,” Jack explained. “River and I got there just in time to see him going for her neck...if he hadn't left her alone when he did, we never would've been able to get to her. Thankfully, Lindsay was more than enough of a---”

“LINDSAY?!” The Doctor glared at Jack. “YOU BROUGHT LINDSAY INTO CASTLE DRACULA?!”

“....well, she was our, ah, distraction,” River explained.

“She needed a bit of prompting, to be honest,” Jack admitted, “and, ah....”

River rolled her eyes. “She did a whoopsie on the floor. Right outside of the ballroom.”

Over in the corner of the room, Lucia emptied the contents of her stomach. Janos clamped a hand over his mouth; even Sarah Jane, Father Wyngarde and Lauden looked as if they were going to be sick.

“......I don't know whether to thank the two of you, punch the two of you or just tell you to get the hell out of here right now,” the Doctor stated, “so I'll settle for this: NEVER involve Lindsay in any of your plans again, no matter how high the stakes are or how dire the situation is.....” His expression softened. “....and, ah, thanks for getting Emma out of there before Dracula could 'turn' her, or whatever he was planning to do---”

Lauden held up a hand. “Ah, apologies for interrupting, Doctor, but....you're actually saying Lindsay---”

“Made like a dog and did her business right there on the floor.” River nodded. “Yes, she did.”

“.....and you're okay with this.”

“Chief Inspector,” River replied, “sometimes, in our line of work, you have to do...questionable things, to save lives and stop the baddies from getting a victory---”

“And just so we're clear,” Jack cut in, “she took the whole bottle of diarrhetic instead of the dose on the---”

“THE POINT IS......” River took a deep breath. “Lindsay won't get hurt---even if Dracula wants her thrown to the wolves or whatever, we'll do our best to get her and every other actual guest out of here before we leave. I mean, we did smuggle her in, after all....” She ignored a groan from the Doctor. “....anyway, we got Emma as far away from Dracula as we could, we're all together now....so unless anyone has any objections, Jack and I can set about getting the rest of the 'guests' out of here before we---”

“Actually,” the Doctor corrected, “there's a bit of a complication about that....LUCIA!”

The female vampire approached the group, a dour expression on her face. “...what now?”

“Tell River and Jack what you told me. About the heart in the tower.”

Jack and River exchanged confused looks. “Heart.....in a tower---Doctor, what are you---”

“There's a massive heart in one of the towers,” Lucia explained, “that's...connected, to Dracula. If someone attacks him, he can redirect the pain from that attack to the heart.”

“And we need to take the heart out at the same time as Dracula himself falls,” the Doctor finished.

“.....so we're staying,” Jack sighed. “Right, which tower is this heart in, and---”

“When did you suddenly become the leader?” River inquired. “There are people after us, Jack---”

“And they can sod off. The Doctor needs our help, and we have to stop Dracula from raining down death upon London from this godless fortress of his.....I, for one, can't think of a better way to spend a weekend. Well, I could, but you probably wouldn't want to hear it....” Jack grinned. “Tell us where it is and we'll do the rest.”

River rolled her eyes. “So much for this being a 'quick, in-and-out visit'.....”

“The tower with the heart in it is near the keep,” Lucia explained. “Dracula probably retreated to the keep after you two saved Emma, seeing as how it's his 'grand throne room'.....” She rolled her eyes at the use of a term that, a few days ago, she would've spoken with reverence. “....anyway, it's where he'll be, now.”

“Lauden, Father Wyngarde and Janos are going with me,” the Doctor added. “Jack, if you feel like it---”

“I'll go,” River cut in. “Jack can take the rest of the group with him to destroy this...heart in the tower---”

“Ah, before we go any further about that....” Emma paced around Danielle, frowning. “What exactly happened with you?”

“I took a flamethrower blast to the face,” the sergeant replied, as nonchalantly as if she were describing what she'd had for breakfast. “Didn't feel a thing, when it happened. Turns out being converted to clockwork made me fireproof.” Her glass eyes rolled in their brass sockets. “Lucky me....”

“...and you're positive it didn't hurt?”

“Completely. I mean, I felt the heat of it, but....it wasn't painful, or anything.”

“So nobody has a problem with Jack, Sarah Jane, Emma, Lucia and Danielle taking down the heart in the tower, then?” the Doctor inquired. “Just making sure we're all on the same page before I split the party.”

Jack glanced at his soon-to-be teammates. “Any of you have a problem with it?”

All four replied in the negative.

“Good to hear. Lauden, Janos, Father Wyngarde....you won't mind River joining our assault on the keep?”

“As long as she's not a liability,” Lauden replied. “If you trust her, Doctor, then so do I.”

River arched an eybrow, grinning at the Time Lord. “Well, Doctor....do you trust me?”

“I do.”

“With your life?”

“You know I hate it when people get dramatic like that..but yes.”

Lauden nodded. “Then I trust you as well---and I'm sure Father Wyngarde and Janos agree with me...” He glanced at the pair, both of whom nodded. “....so, we're all settled on what to do next, then?”

“Unless something incredibly stupid happens in the next few minutes that utterly ruins everything....yeah.”

“So this is it, then,” Emma mused. “We're actually about to go fight Dracula....”

“Normally, I'd argue semantics about which group will be heading for the tower and which will actually take on Dracula,” the Doctor admitted, “but....yeah, we're actually about to go fight Dracula.” He grinned. “Y'know, when this whole thing started, I never really pictured how this part would go....”

River rested a hand on the Time Lord's shoulder. “You can do this, Doctor.”

Jack nodded his agreement. “We're all with you, 100%.” He shook the Doctor's hand, then pulled him in for a hug. “You've got this.”

After breaking the embrace, the Doctor nodded. “Right....everyone, sync up your vortex manipulators!”
-----------------------------------------------------
Through the darkness of future past,
The magician longs to see....
One chants out between two worlds:
"Fire...walk with me."

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DukeNukem 2417
Posts: 269
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2016 1:05 pm
Location: [REDACTED]

Re: Doctor Who: The Doctor vs. Dracula - Part 7

Postby DukeNukem 2417 » Sun Dec 24, 2017 9:15 pm

From his vantage point in the throne room of his castle, Dracula scowled.

Two outsiders---only a fool would believe that they weren't connected to the Doctor---had, only minutes ago, absconded with Emma from the ballroom, and were probably responsible for that appalling mess in the corridor outside of it. The Doctor himself was in the castle, more than likely making his way to the keep to fulfill his mission to slay Dracula.....

….and Lucia---formerly Dracula's myrmidon---had disclosed the secrets of the heart in the tower.

Time was no longer on the Count's side. Even moving his plans ahead to facilitate the arrival of the “guests” and the long-awaited performance of the Rondo wouldn't be enough.

For this to end, in anything close to a victory, the Doctor had to die.

“This dance of ours will end soon, child of Gallifrey,” Dracula intoned, rising from the throne. “The corridors of my castle will be bathed in blood....the Rondo will ring out over London....”

The light of the moon spilled through the throne room's window, casting grim shadows upon the walls....

“....and I shall rip your hearts from your chest!”

A maniacal laugh echoed through the throne room, reverberating through the castle corridors.....
-----------------------------------------------------
Several floors below the keep, the Doctor heard what might've been a laugh from far above. The faintest hint of a shiver coursed through him, and he pulled his coat tighter around himself.

“You're not getting cold feet now,” River remarked, half-sarcastically.

“Wouldn't dream of it.” The Doctor smirked. “I'm just thinking....Dracula probably knows I'm on my way to kill him, right now....” His smirk faded slightly. “....and I have this sinking feeling that he's waiting for me.”

“Then let him wait,” River replied, planting a quick kiss on his cheek.

“I'd be telling you off for that if we were at the head of the group,” the Doctor remarked, shaking his head. “I'm just glad Janos is taking the lead---”

The sound of the vampiric nobleman drawing his sword cut the Time Lord's chat short. “Rain check....”

“Isn't it always?” River sighed, rolling her eyes.

“ARMS AT THE READY,” Janos commanded---just as a group of vampires emerged from a door at the far end of the corridor. “Stake them through the heart, then move aside for me to land the killing blow---”

“Way ahead of you.” The Doctor pulled a pair of stakes from his coat pockets. “River...a hand, please?”

“What are you---” River noticed the Doctor nodding towards Lauden and Father Wyngarde, standing before him. “....oh, for the love of....” She rolled her eyes, realizing all too quickly what the Doctor's plan was, but nevertheless moved to stand behind the pair, her back to theirs and her gaze locked on the Time Lord. “Ready when you are, dear---”

“What's going on back there?!” Lauden inquired. “Doctor---”

“Don't turn around. And just stay perfectly still.” The Doctor took a few steps back. “Trust me.”

“I'd trust you more if you told me what the hell you're about to do---”

The vampires let loose a feral cry and charged towards the group, fangs bared......

…..just as the Doctor screamed, charged at River---and stepped into her waiting hands, onto the shoulders of Lauden and Father Wyngarde, and jumped, hurling the stakes in his hands at two of the vampires, both of whom went down almost instantly.

Janos stared, in shock, at the downed bloodsuckers---

“GO!” The Doctor nearly kicked him forwards. “CHOPPY CHOPPY, ALREADY! COME ON!”

With a silent nod, Janos rushed forward, disappearing into mist---then reappearing between the two vampires before they could stop him. With a quick “one, two” stroke, he decapitated the pair, just as another of the group staggered backwards with a stake in his chest. It took less than a second for Janos to whirl on his heel and behead the third vampire---but those who hadn't yet been staked were now turning their attention towards him. One was already grabbing at his arms, and the others were preparing to tear him to shreds---

“DUCK!”

Janos dropped to the floor---and, almost instinctively, closed his eyes.

Seconds later, the blinding flash of a “sun gun” filled the corridor, followed soon after by the screams of the remaining vampires.

Two dull thunks confirmed that the Doctor had at least two of them with more stakes. “NOW!”

Before Janos could react, the sound of a cracking whip filled his ears.....and a thud next to him confirmed what he'd suspected. He rose from where he'd been kneeling, opening his eyes in time to see a headless vampire drop to the floor and collapse into ash, right next to where its head had landed. A few feet away, Father Wyngarde was weilding the same whip that the Doctor had almost used on the giant bat during the TARDIS' approach.

“You're welcome,” the priest dryly remarked.

Any reply Janos could've made was drowned out by a feral roar---and a vampire tackling him to the floor, intent on ripping his head in half.

“LAUDEN, NOW!”

The Chief Inspector stepped forward, pumping the shotgun Danielle had given him.

“FIRE!”

Lauden squeezed the trigger, and the vampire sitting atop Janos was thrown at least three feet backwards, screaming her head off all the while. Before Janos could stand, River was striding past him, holding what appeared to be a water pistol. She glanced at the Doctor, as if waiting for confirmation....

….receiving a silent nod in return.

With a dead-serious expression on her face, River aimed the squrit gun at the wounded vampire, squeezing the trigger hard---and watching as the undead shrieked in agony, steam rising off of her from every inch of skin touched by the water.

“I suggest you stand back, Janos,” Father Wyngarde advised. “I blessed the water myself.”

Janos quickly scrambled backwards, nodding all the while.

Within a few seconds, the screaming vampire was reduced to a charred skeleton, her pale flesh sloughing off the bones as if River's water gun had been firing a stream of concentrated acid. “Wasted a perfect opportunity for a Wizard of Oz joke, there,” River mused, rolling her eyes---

---and wincing as Lauden fired the shotgun again, causing the vampire behind her to hit the floor.

Lauden, Father Wyngarde, Janos and the Doctor converged on the injured vampire; the Doctor already had a stake in each hand, and Father Wyngarde was holding a crucifix aloft, chanting in Latin and making the sign of the cross in midair. Slowly, the Doctor knelt down to place a stake over the vampire's heart....

….and, seconds later, he rose---only to stomp, hard, on the stake, driving it all the way in.

Blood spewed from the vampire's lips as he screamed in agony.

Father Wyngarde's chanting never slowed. Lauden stood by, his shotgun at the ready.

Silently, the Doctor glanced at Janos and nodded; the vampiric noble gestured for the others to stand back as he raised his sword, dropping to a kneeling position to achieve a clean cut.

“....in the name of the Father....” Wyngarde touched his forehead with his right hand.

The dying vampire stared at Janos, his lips curled in defiance.

“....and the Son....” Wyngarde's hand touched his chest.

Janos returned the vampire's stare, his own features inscrutable.

“....and the Holy Ghost....” Wyngarde touched each of his shoulders in turn.

The blade fell. Lauden, River and the Doctor didn't look away, even when a gout of blood hit Lauden's shirt.

“.....amen.”

All that was left of the slain vampire crumbled to ash, bones and ragged clothes.

“Either cover those with something or move them away from the windows,” the Doctor advised. “If they get hit with moonlight, they might get back up....actually, I have a better idea.” He pulled a road flare from his coat pocket, ignoring the stares from Lauden and River as he lit the thing. “If you're about to tell me that I'm going to set the carpet on fire, we have more pressing matters to attend to at the moment....”

“It's not that,” River replied. “You've just...ah, got a bit of red....” She gestured at the Doctor's face, moving to wipe it off.

“...okay, okay, I think you got it.” The Time Lord rolled his eyes. “Now, back to the regular proceedings...”

He dropped the flare onto the vampire's remains, standing back as the fire consumed them.

“Right, we should probably get moving---going on foot will take way too long, so everybody check your Vortex Manipulators....” A few seconds of inspection revealed that the Manipulators were in sync, and still working.

“All good? Good.” The Doctor nodded. “Now let's be on our way...”

With one last look at the corridor, the Doctor activated his Vortex Manipulator.

Seconds later, he---along with River, Lauden, Father Wyngarde and Janos---vanished.
------------------------------
“.....okay, so the only way to get across is to jump on the pendulums. Not that hard, really....”

Emma glared at Jack. “You're conveniently neglecting to mention that the pendulums are swinging over pits,” she reminded him. “Pits that just so happen to be filled with SPIKES.”

“...well, you noticed the spikes, so at the very least, it's not like wer're---”

“Can't we just use our...Vortex Manipulators, or whatever these are, to get over the pits?” Sarah Jane asked, trying not to be unnerved by the prospect of leaping over razor-sharp spikes. “I mean, the Doctor is the one who came up with that idea....why can't we just---”

“Energy field. Extends through the entire room, but not the entrance or exit...” Jack frowned as he tapped a button on the Manipulator. “If we try to Vortex Manipulate our way out of this, the end reuslt could get a bit messy....we've got to do this the old-fashioned way----” He flinched as Lucia ran past him, leaping over the edge towards the pit.....and dissipating into smoke. “....well, some of us will have to do this the old-fashioned way,” he muttered, watching as Lucia's mist form drifted across the spike pits to the exit. “Right, who's---”

The scrape of shoes on stone was enough of a signal for him to get back---followed soon after by Danielle saying those exact words. The sergeant had dropped to a runner's stance, ready to make the jump.

“....guess we know who's going first,” Jack mused. “Just say the word, and---”

Danielle broke into a run, just as the nearest of the pendulums had reached the apex of its swing away from the ledge. Right at the foot of the ledge, she jumped.......

…..and, as Jack, Emma and Sarah Jane watched, they realized the pendulum wasn't close enough for her to grab midway through her leap.

“She's won't make it,” Sarah Jane gasped. “She's going to fall...”

Emma nearly grabbed Jack by the neck. “DO SOMETHING---”

The next sound they heard wasn't clockwork wrenched apart by spikes, or even Danielle screaming her last; instead, they heard the sounds of Danielle's feet touching stone. “....the hell?!” Jack strode over to the ledge and peered into the spike pit---where Danielle was standing between a pair of spikes, waving. “How did you get between the spikes?!” Jack half-shouted.

“Whoever designed the pit didn't account for the fact that the pendulum was entirely too thin for more than one person to stand on,” Danielle replied. “I decided to see if this would work instead---”

“YOU COULD'VE DIED!” Emma shouted back---right next to Jack. “....err, sorry about that....”

“Not a problem. Just...don't yell next to my head again, please.” Jack rolled his eyes and motioned for Sarah Jane and Emma to carefully lower themselves into the pit. “The spikes aren't coated with anything, are they?” he inquired, turning his attention back to Danielle. “Or, ah, can you smell if they would be....”

“They're not coated with anything. There's room enough to walk between them, carefully....”

“And the whole reason the pendulums are here is.....a trick?” Sarah Jane mused.

“What better way to tempt foolhardy adventurers to their deaths than to appeal to their sense of pride?” Jack replied. “Get them to make the jump on their own....the pendulums probably slow down just enough to make it look good, and then the last of the group tries for the jump....” He didn't finish the sentence.

“Right.....” Sarah Jane nodded. “All the more reason to use this method instead....”

Once Jack, Emma and Sarah Jane had lowered themselves into the pit, they followed Danielle across, slowly threading their way through the spikes and making it to a large stone structure meant as a “midway point” for anyone who'd actually decided to jump from one pendulum to another. “It's not too tall to get up to without making a human ladder, is it?” Sarah Jane called out.

“I can grab the edge from a standing jump,” Danielle replied. “Shouldn't be too hard....”

“Let's all hope you're right,” Jack muttered. “Last I checked, we're not the ones meant to end up on the ends of really pointy things around here.”

Emma and Sarah Jane gave him a look that more than likely translated to “please stop talking now.”

“.....I'll just shut up, then.”

With Danielle safely atop the ledge, it didn't take long for Jack (who insisted he go first so as not to accidentally stare up Emma's dress), Emma and Sarah Jane to reach the top of the structure. “Right, so we just repeat the process with this set of pits,” Jack declared, “and then get to the door at the far end of the room....how hard can it---” A combination of Emma elbowing him in the side and Sarah Jane gasping cut him off.

The “pit” before them had no spikes in it...which only made sense considering it didn't have a floor, either.

“...okay, this is just cheating,” Emma groaned. “The pit of spikes was one thing, but this?!”

“That's not the worst of it,” Danielle pointed out, nodding ahead. “Look.”

Even as she followed the sergeant's finger, Emma nearly swore---several platforms were, by some means as yet unknown, suspended over the pit at intervals just great enough to make jumping over them a perilous prospect. Sarah Jane nearly threw up at the sight of it; Jack, for his part, merely frowned. “Someone's been having a go at a SNES once too often,” he mused. “Mind you, I never had a problem with platformers---unless they were in first-person, which is ironic considering our---”

“Jack,” Emma snapped, “shut up.”

Danielle eased Sarah Jane away from the edge of the structure. “Yelling at each other isn't going to get us any closer to the exit,” she stated. “If we're going to do this....”

Just as she'd done with the pendulums and the spike pit, she backed up and took a runner's stance.

“You're sure you want to jump from here to a floating platform?” Jack quietly asked. “If you miss---”

“Then you'll know how not to jump.” Danielle counted to three, nodded....

...and sprinted towards the edge of the structure she and the others were standing on.

One foot effortlessly pushed off the edge of the structure as the other ascended, propelling her entire form towards the nearest platform---and at that exact moment, she realized that there was no way in Hell she'd be able to clear the jump. Jack, Emma and Sarah Jane had probably reached the conclusion at the same time as she did---Emma was screaming, Jack was trying to keep her away from the edge of the structure, and Sarah Jane was either dry-heaving or emptying the contents of her stomach.

As her feet descended towards empty air and the inevitable long fall, Danielle found herself wondering just how much force it would take for her clockwork body to be irreparably destroyed---a bullet to the shoulder had done little to slow her down, but a fall from a great-enough height would be a far different story.

At the very least, she mused, if I fall on my face, I won't feel it for long---

Her musings ended rather abruptly when her foot seemed to catch on something, sending her into a forward fall that, as her own bad luck would have it, planted her directly on her face---without any evidence of a floor (or, for that matter, the object she'd “tripped” on) to speak of. A muttered swear from Jack, a confused “What?” from Sarah Jane and several utterances of “oh, my God” from Emma confirmed that the sergeant wasn't, in fact, hallucinating---in apparent defiance of the laws of physics, she'd tripped in mid-air and fallen on her face in the middle of a floor that didn't even exist.

“.....okay, this is just....” Jack pulled out a small cloth satchel and retrieved an American quarter. Without a word to Emma or Sarah Jane, he knelt at the edge of the platform, placing the coin at his feet, and pushed it over the edge with his hand---at least, he would have, if the coin had actually fallen over the edge of the structure. Instead, it merely slid forward as if there was a floor beneath it----far enough, in fact, to stop right next to Danielle's feet.

Jack rose, nodding at the sight.....then stepped over the edge of the structure.

Emma nearly tripped, trying to stop him---and caught herself as she watched him, for lack of a better term, walk on air to meet Danielle at the platform. “....so,” he mused, “that just happened.”

Danielle repeated the coin “trick” from the platform---predictably, the space around where she stood, despite appearing to be nothing but air, was in fact solid. With a shrug, she headed for the next platform over, with Jack following.

“....oh, the hell with it.....” Emma rolled her eyes and stormed off after Jack. “C'mon, Sarah!”

“....it's Sarah Jane, actually....”

After a few harrowing minutes of walking (and fearing that the “floor” would suddenly drop out from under them if they so much as blinked), the group joined up again at the exit---met by a thoroughly cross Lucia. “Just a quick question,” Jack began. “Did you---”

“Yes, I knew about the floor trick all along, and no, that's not what's getting on my nerves.”

“....I have a feeling that would be on the other side of the door behind you, then,” Danielle replied.

Lucia glared at her. “This part of the castle is taking us in the wrong direction. We were supposed to get to the tower and destroy the heart.....that door leads straight to Dracula's keep!”

Emma, Danielle and Sarah Jane glanced at the door, then at Jack.

“.....might as well tell you all that the energy field I sensed before is no longer present,” he stated, “or at least isn't strong enough to stop us from using the Vortex Manipulators to get the hell out of here---and you, Lucia, are going to need to tell me how exactly Dracula pulled off that invisible floor trick after this is all over with.”

The vampire actually managed a smile. “It's not as complicated as you'd think....”

“Explanation later,” Emma groaned. “Vortex Manipulator escape now!”

“Right, right...” Jack rolled his eyes. “Everybody make sure your Manipulators are synced up properly before we leave, otherwise this could get....really not good, for lack of a better term.”

Nobody could argue with him there (though Emma did mention that he could've picked a better term to use than “really not good”), and the group bade their farewell to the pendulum corridor before Jack punched in a new set of coordinates.

Within seconds, the corridor (and the door to the keep) winked out of existence.....
------------------------------
Through the darkness of future past,
The magician longs to see....
One chants out between two worlds:
"Fire...walk with me."

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Re: Doctor Who: The Doctor vs. Dracula - Part 7

Postby DukeNukem 2417 » Sun Dec 24, 2017 9:16 pm

“.....okay, a room full of clocks is one thing. But this....” The Doctor shook his head. “We're in a castle, on a floating landmass, and there's an underground river---”

“Underground stream,” River corrected him. “While I'm here, it's a stream----”

“Semantics aside,” Lauden cut in, “how exactly are we going to get across? These....Vortex things you gave us don't seem to be---”

“Vortex Manipulators,” the Doctor corrected. “And what do you mean, they're not working?”

“He means they're not working.” River pulled the Doctor closer, taking a look at the Manipulator on his wrist; “If I had to guess,” she mused, “there's some kind of energy field interfering with their frequency---we could use them, but there's a very strong risk that we'd be reduced to atoms afterwards.”

A shudder ran through Lauden. “....I think I'll stick to walking, then.”

“That still doesn't explain how we're going to cross this....stream, then,” Father Wyngarde interjected. “If we can't use these---” He stopped, noticing Janos staring at the water with an apprehensive look. “.....I don't think this qualifies as 'running' water,” he informed the vampire, “so you should be fine---”

“It's not that. There's....something else here.” Janos sniffed the air. “We need to move quickly.”

“And yet we still don't know if we can cross by just wading through,” the Doctor reminded him. “What I wouldn't give for a ten-foot pole right about now....” He noticed River giving him a thinly-veiled lascivious look. “And whatever you're about to say,” he quickly added, “don't say it, otherwise you'll be our test buoy---”

“I should push you in for even suggesting that, Doctor,” River replied---still smirking at him.

“Can we not argue right now?!” Lauden snapped. “Janos said there's something else in here, and that we need to move quickly....so I say we get a move on already!”

The Doctor held up a hand. “Just give me a second to get my bearings, here....we're in uncharted territory and have no way of knowing what's waiting for us if we just fall in or something....these things take time.” He reached into a coat pocket for a moment, then stopped. “River....that rock by your foot---”

“Don't try to tell me it's moving, or that it has an eyeball---”

“Just pick it up and hand it to me....please.”

River rolled her eyes. “There'd better be a point to this, Doctor....” She knelt down to pick up the rock, gingerly handing it to the Time Lord. “Okay, you have the rock. What now?”

Without a word, the Doctor examined the rock....then turned his hand over and let it fall into the water.

Before River could complain, he pressed a single finger to her lips, gesturing towards the water with his other hand: Listen. Silently, River, Lauden, Janos and Father Wyngarde listened, waiting to hear the rock hit

After twenty seconds, they hadn't heard a thing.

“....okay, so that puts swimming right out of the picture, then,” the Doctor intoned. “And I'd love to know where the bottom of this waterway is, on a floating landmass.....unless it just drains out over the Thames or another body of water...” He rolled his eyes at the thought. “Whatever the case, we're not getting across that way, so we need a raft---”

“Something like that?” Janos cut in, gesturing at something in the distance.

The Doctor frowned, turning to see what the vampire was referring to. “Something like what.....” He stopped himself short; a stone platform of some kind was moving towards the stone ledge in a perfectly straight line, as if being pulled by an invisible rope or chain (or at least one hidden under the water).

“A bit too convenient for my liking,” Father Wyngarde muttered. “It's almost obviously a trap....”

“An obvious trap is, in and of itself, counter-intuitive,” River replied. “This whole underground stream---” She paused to give the Doctor a poignant glance. “---seems to be a kind of transportation system for goods and such, to keep them out of the public eye while the 'guests' are moving about above our heads. You wouldn't rig your own car to go up like a November 5th bonfire to make sure nobody else stole it....”

Lauden arched an eyebrow. “....so the stone raft is safe?”

“Only one way to find out.” The Doctor stepped forward onto the raft, which had just drifted to the ledge. “The rest of you, get on the raft two at a time after me---”

Another set of footsteps sounded behind him. “After us, dear,” River whispered, grinning.

“.....and if the raft goes down with both of us on it?” the Doctor replied, not smiling.

“It won't, sweetie.” River hugged his shoulders. “We'll make it across, and the rest can join us---”

The Doctor glanced back over his shoulder. “Speaking of 'the rest'....”

“You and your dignity. Let them think what they want.....” River glanced back and waved as the raft began to move again. “Y'know, for all my complaints about staying here earlier,” she mused, “I'm definitely not regretting the choice---remind me to thank Jack for making his mind up so quickly earlier.”

“You think I couldn't have handled it myself?”

“I think you needed a hand, Doctor....and the fact that Jack and I were 'just passing through' gave us the best chance to lend that hand.” River sighed. “You're not Superman, y'know....even with the TARDIS, regeneration, the Sonic Screwdriver and all your other tricks, you can't everything done on your own.”

“Believe me, this is one thing I didn't want to 'get done' on my own,” the Doctor sulked. “And the Time Lords keep sending their psychic messages about how they can't interfere on my behalf, and everything's at stake, and on and on and freaking on.....” He pulled his coat tighter around his shoulders. “Ever since Borusa first projected himself into my TARDIS to tell me about all of this,” he muttered, “I've had this....feeling about what's going to end up happening.”

“....you think it's all going to go wrong?” River quietly asked.

The Time Lord couldn't look her in the eye. “I think that when it comes down to me against Dracula, I'm not going to be able to kill him.”

River gave him an incredulous look. “.....so this whole thing is just a---”

“I said I'm not going to be able to kill him,” the Doctor clarified. “I never said anything about not being able to beat him....” There was a dangerous gleam in his eye as he turned towards River---an almost evil look that, to her, made him look more alien than he ever had before. Coupled with the lighting of the underground cavern casting weird, frightening shadows everywhere (including a particularly menacing one upon the Doctor), it was almost as if another man was standing before her....but just as quickly as it had appeared, the gleam left his eye, the shadow passed from his face, and the Doctor was (for lack of a better term) the Doctor again.

“.....I can beat him,” he murmured. “I have to.....I just need to figure out how.....”

Again, River hugged his shoulders. “I have a feeling you'll do what you do best, Doctor.”

“What, blunder through it, trip over my own feet and get one lucky hit on him that sends him careening to his doom?” the Time Lord replied, rolling his eyes. “Gee, thanks....”

“What you really do best,” River replied. “You'll find a way.”

The Doctor couldn't help but grin. “When you put it that way, it doesn't sound nearly as bad....”

“I learned from the best, sweetie.” River briefly massaged the Doctor's shoulders. “I don't doubt that you'll be able to defeat Dracula. And as for the rest of the Time Lords...whether they can help or not, in the end, it's on you....and even if all of Gallifrey thinks otherwise---”

“Gee, thanks.”

“Let me finish.....” River didn't bother trying for a full glare. “Even if everyone else on Gallifrey thinks you can't pull it off, I know you can.” She nuzzled his shoulder. “You always do.”

“And I don't suppose you're going to tell me how I 'pull it off' this time,” the Doctor mused.

“You know I can't....”

“Right, right....'spoilers'.....” The Doctor rolled his eyes. “Still....thanks.”

“Any time, sweetie....though I think we should stop.”

“....just when the conversation was getting good?”

“I mean, we should stop because the raft stopped....we need to get onto the ledge, before it pulls away and we're stuck going in the wrong direction?” River nodded at the ledge that, unbeknownst to the Doctor, the stone raft had drifted up to.

“Ah, right.....my bad.” The Doctor grinned and stepped off of the raft, gesturing to help River off of it as well.

“Such a gentleman....too bad more Time Lords don't have your manners.” River watched as the raft pulled away, just as both of her feet were on the ledge. “I wonder what the rest of them will talk about on their ride over here.....a priest, a Chief Inspector and a vampire.” She nearly chuckled at the thought. “Sounds like a setup for a really bad joke, doesn't it?”

“.....it does,” the Doctor admitted, stifling a laugh. “Look at us, about to face Dracula and making bad jokes the whole way through.”

“It's better than panicking,” River reminded him. “A lot better...which begs the question---”

“Lauden's a Chief Inspector, Father Wyngarde's a priest---who spent multiple years traveling the world to seal away Dracula's power—-and Janos has faced Dracula before.” The Doctor counted off the names on his fingers. “Between the three of them, I'm pretty sure they've got a handle on things---and before you even think of asking, so do I.”

River shook her head. “You're no fun sometimes,” she teased, smirking.

“And will that be the case for every incarnation after this one?” the Doctor inquired, grinning. “Or is it safe to tell me if that particular character trait will be 'unique to me'?”

The only reply he received was River's finger pressed to his lips, and a whisper of “Spoilers.”
------------------------------
“......judging from the arrangement of the seats, the setup on what I can only assume is a stage and the fact that everybody here looks to be awaiting a performance of some kind....” Jack frowned. “Unless I'm sorely mistaken, I'm pretty sure that this is where the Rondo of Blood is going to be performed.”

“Pretty bad crowd for a big show,” Emma remarked. “There's hardly anyone here!”

“Good thing we got balcony seats.” Danielle leaned over the railing, her mechanical features inscrutable. “And I have to agree with Emma.....this is a pathetic crowd, for the 'command performance' of the Rondo---”

“He's here.”

Jack arched an eyebrow at Lucia. “I thought you said Dracula would be in the keep---”

“Not him.....Graaf.” She nodded towards the lower area. “He might not know I'm here.....”

She stopped when Jack slipped something around her neck. “Another blessed chain?” she muttered.

“Seeing as how those aren't my kind of thing....no. It's a perception filter---it won't turn you invisible, but it'll make you unnoticable, as long as you don't step into a fire or anything....” He handed similar amulets to Sarah Jane and Emma. “Same goes for you two....and for Sergeant Tomlinson---”

“Pretty sure I have a disadvantage on being unnoticable,” Danielle reminded him.

“And why is...” Jack let the question trail off---Danielle's metallic features wore a look that screamed “You're joking, right?”, complete with her own arched eyebrow to rival Jack's. “.....point taken.” The ex-Time Agent nodded. “You're sure you don't want it as insurance?”

“....you're forgetting that I'm a police officer....I don't need magic to be unnoticable.”

Emma and Sarah Jane exchanged worried looks. “What if Graaf gets the drop on you?” Emma queried.

“He'll wish he hadn't---”

Lucia gestured for her to be quiet; someone else was approaching Graaf on the floor below. “Ariel...” It didn't take much to guess what phrase would've followed that name, if it hadn't been for Jack cutting in: “She doesn't exactly look thrilled with the way things are going...probably not thrilled about the low turnout for the Rondo, if I had to guess---”

“Wait....she's gesturing at....the stage?” Lucia frowned. “....why is she.....”

“She's angry about the band leaving.” Danielle leaned ever so slightly further over the railing. “She's angry because the band that was supposed to play the Rondo....left, somehow...”

“Which would make perfect sense, if we weren't in a castle set atop a floating landmass,” Jack reminded her.

“That should've made it impossible for anyone to leave,” Sarah Jane mused. “Unless Dracula has stashed planes around here....” She paused, glancing at Lucia. “.....does he have planes hidden around here?”

“Sorry to interrupt, but the discussion below is getting a bit more...ah, heated....” Jack frowned; as Ariel ranted about the band having vanished, Graaf was apparently in no mood to hear any of it---and showed just how little he cared when he grabbed Ariel by the throat and threw her into a row of chairs. “Yeah, I have a feeling this is about more than just the band no-showing...and he's going for a chair---” He couldn't help but wince as Graaf hurled the chair; Emma had to turn away when it hit Ariel in the face.

“He always did have anger issues,” Lucia muttered, not smiling. “Dracula barely kept him under control....”

Danielle gestured for her to stop talking---Graaf was advancing on Ariel again, muttering angrily all the while. “I think he's saying something....art? Or....heart....”

Lucia frowned. “He's going to tear out her heart....just like at the filling station---”

“No, I don't think....'on their way to the heart'....” Danielle nearly told Jack what she'd just realized—-but Graaf was talking again. “....'can't survive without it....the heart....'.....”

Slowly, Graaf's ranting began to make sense---in a very horrifying way.

“What is it?” Emma prompted. “What's he saying?!”

“.....the Rondo of Blood isn't just meant to be performed at Dracula's great victory as a sign of his triumph,” the sergeant slowly replied. “If what Graaf just said is true.....the Rondo will do a lot of things at once: drain every last drop of blood from the audience it's performed for, empower the heart in the tower and fill it with the blood from the crowd, amplify Dracula's power to the point where it can't be sealed away....and, unless I'm mistaken, a successful performance of the Rondo will serve as an anchor between this world and 'others'.”

Lucia stared---not at Danielle, but at the figure of Graaf on the floor below.

“Did you know about all of that beforehand?” Jack moved in front of Lucia, almost forcing her to look him in the eye. “Did any of what Graaf just said---”

“Dracula never gave me the full truth about the heart in the tower,” Lucia spat, turning away. “He only told me that it was 'vital', 'important'....he never went into the specifics. Apparently, I wasn't 'prepared'...” With every word, her focus shifted from Graaf to Emma. “I have a feeling he'd already planned to abandon me...to replace me....”

“....you say that like you think I wanted to take your place,” Emma replied, still watching the fight between Graaf and Ariel play out. “The only thing I wanted was to leave.”

“And why didn't you?!”

“You think I didn't try?! I wasn't about to climb down through a sodding window, from a castle floating above London! Not to mention this stupid dress....” Emma tore at the frills of her expensive dress, shredding them below the knees until the thing was reduced to a more managable length. “...throwing this on me, making me look like a sodding princess....putting the 'whammy' on me every five minutes just to keep me from scarpering whenver he turned his back....I've hated every minute of being here.”

The remark stunned Lucia into silence, but Jack spoke up before she could reply: “Anyone here with a weak constitution might want to look away for this part....Graaf is, ah....” He let the words trail off---the vampire, fed up with Ariel's constant shrieking at him even after he'd thrown a chair at her head, was now dragging her behind the stage and messily tearing her throat out.

“....he'll do that to me,” Lucia muttered. “Or he'll try to, the next time we 'meet'....”

“Which means we have to play keep-away to make sure that doesn't happen,” Jack replied. “Since the band somehow flew the coop...or the castle, in this case...we don't have to worry about them performing the Rondo after all. Unless Graaf is a musical prodigy who can play all of the instruments himself...”

The suggestion changed Lucia's mood instantly. “....you obviously haven't heard him try to sing.”

“And I'm guessing he's as bad at playing instruments as he is at being a lead vocalist?”

The vampire actually giggled. “......worse.”

“Let's just hope he doesn't hear you mocking him,” Sarah Jane chided, “otherwise....wait, where's he going? I can't see.....he's gone behind the stage, now---” A sound of something large (and probably expensive) being kicked to the floor cut her off.

“He's having a tantrum,” Jack muttered, shaking his head. “We're up here, hiding from him, and he's having a tantrum....never thought I'd see the day...” He glanced over his shoulder; Lucia was practically doubled over with supressed laughter. “....I'm guessing you two weren't exactly besties while working under the Count, then?” he inquired.

“It's not that,” Lucia admitted, between chortles. “I found his journal, once.....he was always like this....”

“A vampire with an anger management problem,” Emma mused. “Sounds like a bad sitcom....”

Lucia bit her lip, trying to keep from laughing too loudly. “He used to be in a band...saved the demo tapes. I listened to a few songs, from one....” She fell sideways, her eyes closed. “.....they were terrible!”

“And he's fuming because he can't fill the part himself,” Jack realized, grinning. “Convenient.”

“Ah, not to break up the bad mood,” Sarah Jane interjected, “but did anyone notice that Danielle disappeared from our midst a few minutes---” She nearly screamed in fright as a hand grabbed the balcony railing from the other side, only to see Danielle pulling herself up and over, back onto the balcony. “Brought you a present,” she deadpanned, handing Jack a bundle of sheet music. “Graaf was too busy throwing a strop to notice me on the stage, so....”

“You stole the Rondo?” Lucia gaped, awe-struck at the sergeant's “acquisition”.

“Even if they get another band, now, they'll have to stick to Smash Hits instead of their originally intended set list....unless Dracula decides to have them all play from the back of the painting.” Danielle's metallic “lips” curled in a remarkably humanlike smirk. “And Graaf got a lovely parting gift from Ariel, too.”

Emma frowned. “While he was tearing her throat out?”

“She actually fought back---scratched the hell out of his face. And not like that poor girl at the filling station, either---she tore into him. Left a big, nasty scar over his right eye, all the way down to his mouth.”

“At least she went out fighting,” Jack mused. “Speaking of going out, it's time we do the same---well, when I say 'going out', I mean 'leaving the room', not 'getting killed'...” He sighed. “Right, everybody check your Vortex Manipulators....” He nodded as each member of the group checked their Manipulator. “I assume we're all set and ready to depart, then?”

“Just a sec....” Emma tore the frilly sleeves off of her dress, casting them over the edge of the balcony. “Okay, now I'm ready,” she declared.

“That thing cost $650,000,000,” Lucia intoned. “And you just tore the sleeves off.”

“....what's your point?”

Lucia turned away, shaking her head...and grinning. “....you're starting to remind me of someone I knew when I was still alive...”

“Not to be the buzzkill here,” Jack cut in, “but we really need to be off...in three, two, ONE!”

Right on the “one”, the group vanished....just as Graaf found Emma's dress sleeves below the balcony.

An enraged, profanity-ladden scream left his lips. The Doctor and his friends would suffer for this...and soon.
------------------------------
Through the darkness of future past,
The magician longs to see....
One chants out between two worlds:
"Fire...walk with me."

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DukeNukem 2417
Posts: 269
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2016 1:05 pm
Location: [REDACTED]

Re: Doctor Who: The Doctor vs. Dracula - Part 7

Postby DukeNukem 2417 » Sun Dec 24, 2017 9:18 pm

“......well, if this doesn't scream 'final approach', I don't know what does.”

Even as the Doctor spoke---his voice raised slightly to drown out the howling winds around him---he knew that his attempt at humor was more to keep himself from feeling the twinges of fear at what he now faced. A stone staircase, its apex shrouded in fog, extended from the end of the ledge the Time Lord stood upon.

“Unless I'm mistaken,” he murmured, “this is the path to Dracula's keep.”

“It's got to be,” River stated. “The Vortex Manipulators aren't even showing our coordinates anymore!”

Lauden shielded his brow with one hand. “You're sure this leads to the keep? It looks...a bit dangerous....”

“He's up there,” Janos intoned. “I can sense him.”

Father Wyngarde's hand rested on his shoulder. “You won't share the burden of facing him alone, Janos....”

“....I know.” The vampire nodded. “I only wish to strike him once....”

“You'll get your chance soon enough.” The Doctor stepped off of the ledge and onto the staircase. “Let's go!”

The night sky was slowly beginning to turn a dark, foreboding red as the Time Lord ascended the stone steps, with Lauden, Wyngarde and Janos in tow; at her own insistence, River was keeping pace with him at the front of the group. Janos had unsheathed his sword, while Lauden still held the shotgun he'd been given by Danielle in his grip; Father Wyngarde, meanwhile, had left the ornate wooden case behind and was carrying only the whip, coiled under his arm.

River, by means as yet unknown to the Doctor, had acquired a Sonic Blaster, which she now held aloft in the standard “sweep and clear” manner used by military and police forces on most civilized worlds.

Predictably, the Doctor had no weapon in his hands---even the Sonic Screwdriver remained in his coat pocket.

“You could've borrowed Lauden's pistol, you know,” River quietly reminded him. “You won't want to take him on with just a Sonic, after all....”

“Your blaster's Sonic,” the Doctor mused, grinning.....

….only for the smile to melt from his face as he saw what was swarming down the stairs towards him.

“DUCK!” Lauden's shout was entirely unnecessary---as soon as the Doctor and River heard him pump the shotgun, they both dropped to their knees to give him a clear shot at the swarm of bats. The ensuing gunshot left their ears ringing---and, to Lauden's credit, took out a vast majority of the bats before they could cause any significant damage. “.....nice,” the Doctor stated, grinning. “And thanks for the heads-up---”

“STAY DOWN!”

A muttered “Oh, my God” from River convinced the Doctor to heed the Chief Inspector's advice---just as Janos charged forward, his sword held overhead.

The Doctor chanced a look up...and couldn't tell whether to be horrified, captivated, or both.

Humanoid female figures---at least, humanoid above the waist, and ignoring the wings that took the place of their arms---were diving from the clouds, their fair features contorted in screams of rage. Some were staying back, their birdlike legs and taloned feet ready to rip and tear at human and Time Lord flesh below....

…..a task which would've been far easier, had it not been for Janos Ruthven.

With every movement, his sword cut one of the harpies out of the sky---at least, it felt that way, from where the Doctor stood. One of the winged horrors seemed to fall with every flash of the blade, even as they broke away only to dive again, their talons anticipating the chance to rip and tear.....

….but no Time Lord or human blood was shed at the talons of the harpies that night.

River did her part to pick a few of the monsters off, aiming down the sights of her Sonic Blaster and, at one point, even shooting a harpy on the wing just before it could grab the Doctor's head in its talons. “You owe me, sweetie,” she whispered, blowing the Time Lord a kiss---and then whirling on her heel to pick off another harpy.

Lauden was doing even better with the shotgun than he'd done against the bats; buckshot was just as effective as the Sonic Blaster at taking the feathered fiends down. Father Wyngarde, on the other hand, stayed back, never once uncoiling the whip he held.....but as the Doctor ducked and dodged out of the way of the flying horrors, he noticed that Wyngarde had been praying ever since the harpies had first descended, and that for all their near-misses and close calls, the harpies never got close enough to actually draw blood.

In the span of seven minutes, the flock of harpies had been cut down to three---two of them shrieked and flew towards the top of the stairs, while their “sister” eyed the Doctor and his allies with malicious intent.

“She's going to dive,” River warned. “Stay back---”

“You're not the only one carrying a firearm, Miss,” Lauden reminded her. “If that thing even counts---”

“Are we really having this discussion right now----”

A scream cut them off---Janos charged forward, holding his sword like a javelin. Before River or Lauden could stop him or even think to ask what he was doing, he threw the blade----just as the harpy dove at him, shrieking all the while.

With all the abrutpness of a gunshot, the sword pierced the harpy's skull, going in until only the hilt was visible.

Janos ran towards the falling harpy, with the Doctor, River, Lauden and a still-praying Father Wyngarde close behind him. By the time they caught up, Janos had one foot on the harpy's corpse to keep it down as he pulled his sword from its skull.

“It'll take me ages to clean the blood off of this,” he muttered, scowling.

River and the Doctor exchanged incredulous looks, but said nothing.

“Please tell me we're nearly there....” Lauden looked back over his shoulder, almost dreading the sight of the ledge the group had arrived on. “If this is some kind of....infinite staircase or something....” The Doctor silently nodded upwards---the apex of the stairs was finally visible.

More importantly, the Keep loomed over the group, its ornate doors framed in shadow.

Lauden nodded, pumping the shotgun and striding up the stairs, closely followed by Father Wyngarde.

“We're almost there,” River breathed. “Doctor....” She stopped, noticing the Doctor hadn't spoken since the harpies' attack. “.....Doctor, are you okay?”

“Other than the fact that I'm standing outside of Draucla's throne room,” the Time Lord replied, “I'd say...yeah.”

“And you weren't injured by the harpies at all?”

“Seeing as how my head is still firmly attached to my neck....I'd have to say 'no'.”

River nearly punched him in the arm. “Don't scare me like that.....I thought you'd been wounded!”

“That makes two of us,” the Doctor replied, keeping pace with her as he ascended the steps. “I almost thought I'd get my head pulled off for sure, a few times....but between you and Lauden, I had nothing to worry about.”

“So you do have a plan to deal with Dracula, then,” River prompted. “Care to explain it, or....”

The Doctor glanced at her, completely stone-faced....and winked. “Spoilers.”

He didn't flinch away from the punch to his shoulder. “Barely even felt that one...”

“Keep talking, I'll knock you off the bloody stairs...” River failed to hide a grin. “But you really do have a plan to defeat Dracula, don't you?”

“I do. And no, I'm not going to go into the specifics, because if those two harpies pass by again, I have a feeling they'll go speeding back to Dracula and tell him....anyway. I'm hoping that Jack and his group can get to the heart in the tower soon enough---I kind of need them to be there, and if they're not....well, let's not think too much into what happens if they're not there on time.”

“And the Rondo?”

The Doctor nearly tripped over his own feet. “....ah, the Rondo.....I'd, ah---”

“You forgot about the Rondo of Blood?!”

“Well, we were trying to get Emma back, and then you and Jack showed up, and---” The Doctor's protesting was cut off by a trilling sound from his pocket; he actually muttered the words “saved by the fob” just as he retrieved the fob watch. “....and it's Jack,” he mused, arching an eyebrow. “He and his group just got to the courtyard where the Rondo was going to be performed---”

“'Was' going to be performed?” River mused.

“....long story short, they stole the sheet music for the Rondo of Blood,” the Doctor replied, grinning. “Also, by some miraculous set of circumstances, the band set to play the Rondo 'left' before they ever got onstage.”

“We're on a floating landmass, Doctor. How could they have---”

“Let's not ask 'how', right now,” the Time Lord advised. “Let's just focus on the positives: we're at Dracula's doorstep, and we're about to put an end to his reign once and for all.”

“.....really puts things in perspective, when you say it like that,” River mused. “'Once and for all'.....”

The pair rejoined Lauden, Father Wyngarde and Janos (still complaining about the harpy blood on his sword) at the apex of the stairs. “....and if it---oh, Doctor, there you are.” Lauden nodded. “We were debating on whether or not prying the door open would be a good idea.....we can't even tell if the lock is active or not---”

As if on cue, the double doors to the Keep swung were pulled open from the inside.

“.....you were saying?” the Doctor inquired.

Lauden, Janos and Father Wyngarde entered the Keep, with River following. “Did you ever think you'd see the interior of Castle Dracula's keep, Doctor?” she whispered. “Hard to believe we're finally here....and you're checking the fob watch. Of all the---”

“I'm just making sure Jack and the others got to the heart,” the Doctor assured her. “They have to be there...”
------------------------------
“When this is all over with, remind me to give myself a note: 'Dear Jack, never get into a shootout in a tower, it's a right pain in the'----OI!” Jack ducked behind a railing (or tried his best to duck---the rails were far too short to allow for proper cover) and returned fire at the clockwork servant that had nearly shot him in the head.

“Just get to the heart and let Lucia take the lead,” Danielle called out. “I'll do my best to cover for you---”

Another volley of gunfire cut her off---the half-faced clockwork man from the Exeter & Devon Crematorium had spotted her, and was apparently hell-bent on mowing her down at every available opportunity. “Damn it...”

Emma, for her part, was trying not to get shot while she threw stones at the automatons, mostly to distract them and let either Jack, Danielle or even Sarah Jane pick them off in a crossfire. “So what exactly are we supposed to do to the heart, anyway?” she called out. “Just poke it with a stick, shoot it, or---” Bullets raked the wall behind her, prompting a shouted swear-word and a precisely-thrown rock that hit a particularly unfortunate automaton right in the eye.

“Lucia will handle it!” Danielle assured her. “Just---” A bullet streaked over her head, skimming through her hair. “The hell with this....”

Sarah Jane, midway through reloading her revolver, saw the sergeant about to leap over the railing. “WAIT---”

Danielle had already jumped off of the railing, even with bullets peppering the air around her. “What is she doing?!” Jack groaned. “I go through all the trouble of organizing a plan involving tactical firing positions, and she just jumps over the railing---” He stopped, noticing that Danielle had managed to launch herself directly at the half-faced clockwork man, and was proceeding to beat the ever-loving hell out of the automaton with only her fists and feet. “.....as long as she doesn't get us all killed,” he muttered, turning his attention back to the task at hand.

While Jack and Sarah Jane provided covering fire for Danielle, and Emma did her best to confound the other automatons with constant barrages of rocks, Lucia had retreated to the highest point of the tower. Had she been “planted” in the group by Dracula, the situation would've made for an excellent ambush....but her days of taking orders from the Count were over. Her vantage point was more for scoping out the heart.....

….and, by proxy, how best to destroy it once the last of the automatons fell---

The shattering window behind her did little to distract from the melee below. “I was wondering when you'd catch up with me again, Graaf,” she muttered, not bothering to look his way.

“You should be slaughtering them, instead of helping them! You owe the Count your life---”

“He abandoned me, Graaf!” Now, Lucia did turn to glare at her former ally, her unwavering stare locked onto him like a gunsight. “He would've done the same if you'd been in my place....he used me, like he's still using you!” She took a tentative step towards him; the rafters of the tower were too narrow for a brawl. “We can settle this without violence, Graaf---”

“Did the Doctor teach you that?! You're starting to sound as pathetic as him!”

Lucia's eyes narrrowed to slits. “I'm not going to let you stop them, Graaf. Dracula has been lying to us since we first met him—-”

“I was lied to my entire life,” Graaf countered. “You think I give a damn about all of this?!”

“You should. Until Dracula is stopped, innocent people are going to die....and I'm not just going to sit back and watch London fall to him.”

“Then you'll be joining Ariel soon enough,” Graaf snarled. “Your final reward....as only a traitor deserves!”

Even on the narrow beam, his stride was quick---and anyone else in Lucia's position would've been lucky to block at least two or three blows before Graaf's savage strength wore them down.

Not surprisingly, Lucia had other plans.....

….but the volley of redirected gunfire from below put an end to them rather quickly. The beam beneath her feet (and Graaf's) splintered almost instantly, sending the pair of them plummeting towards the heart.

Jack had barely heard the shattering window above, and was about to climb further up the tower to get a better vantage point when he realized that the shots intended for him a few seconds prior had hit a beam above---the same one Lucia had been “camped” on for the past few minutes. A second (and far more horrifying) realization hit him just as quickly: the beam had been positioned directly over the heart....

…..which Lucia and her assailant were now directly on top of.

Looking up at the thing wasn't exactly an option, due to the near constant stream of gunfire from the clockwork servants and the fact that having a massive, pulsing heart several feet overhead was a nauseating prospect, to say the least. It didn't help that even Lucia didn't know the full specifics of what the heart was for---Jack had his suspicions about the “need” to destroy it when Dracula himself was killed, but until now, he'd decided not to bring it up. With that in mind, it made little sense that the servants were waiting for Jack, Lucia, Danielle, Sarah Jane and Emma to arrive---

“Of course.”

Even as a clockwork servant plummeted from a higher level of the tower, Jack couldn't help but laugh at the obviousness of the whole thing. Lucia had mentioned, off-hand, that the castle was “alive”, and it would only make sense for its “heart” to be at the center of the castle---which was where the Rondo of Blood had been slated to be performed. Moving it to one of the towers was a far more reasonable idea---keeping the heart away from any wandering fearless vampire killers definitely made sense, compared to having it as some kind of macabre centerpiece for the Rondo.

“Right, time to tell the others what's what---EMMA! SARAH JANE! CHANGE OF PLANS, WE'RE----”

Jack's “announcement” ended before it began; the beams and supports that kept the heart suspended in the middle of the tower had buckled, and were beginning to give way. “That,” he muttered, “is really not good...”

Seconds later---faster than he could even blink---he watched as the last of the supports gave way.

A femtosecond later, the heart was plummeting to the bottom of the tower.

Every clockwork servant in the vicinity froze at that exact moment---one of them, near a railing, took a thrown rock to the head from Emma and wobbled for a bit before following the heart to the tower's ground floor. Any fears of Danielle having frozen up at the heart's destruction were mitigated when she yelled something rather unprintable at the half-faced clockwork man, giving him one last, solid kick before turning her attention to the heart---or rather, where the heart had been mere seconds before.

Before she could ask Jack what had happened, a loud, wet squelch from the ground floor said more than any words could've conveyed. At that exact moment, every frozen clockwork servant bowed at the waist and stopped moving.

“.....we should probably get down there and make sure Lucia's okay....” Jack glanced around, hoping that both Emma and Sarah Jane were also okay---both were, though Emma was busy stealing the pants from one of the downed clockwork servants because “this stupid dress is getting on my last damned nerves!”

Nobody tried to talk her out of nicking the trousers after that.

Once Emma had donned the pants and thrown away what was left of the dress (the “top” of it, covering her torso, was still more or less intact---the actual dress itself, with the frills and ruffles and overall “princess” look to it, was the bit she'd discarded), the group made their way down the stairs to the ground floor of the tower.

“So the castle isn't going to start falling out of the air or anything now?” Sarah Jane quietly asked.

“Hopefully not. If it does.....” Jack shrugged. “I'm pretty sure it won't, though.”

“You're a bastion of positivity, mate.” Emma rolled her eyes.

Danielle already had her sidearm at the ready when the group reached the horrid, pulpy mass at the ground floor. Jack, too, was retrieving his Sonic Blaster and preparing to open fire on any hostile entity that might emerge from the sanguine pile of viscera.....

“Lucia? If you can hear me, ah.....” Jack paused for a moment. “If you can hear me, then----”

A figure rose from the remains of the heart, covered in gore.

“.....Lucia?”

After a few seconds of standing there, silent and still, the figure moved towards the group---in a full-on sprint.

“I don't think that's Lucia,” Emma breathed. “Jack, Danielle---”

The screaming, blood-soaked figure was within jumping distance of the group---specifically, Emma---when a second figure shot up from the pile and tackled it to the ground.

Before Jack or anyone else could speak, the second figure turned, brushing a thin layer of slime from its face.

“That,” Lucia declared, “was.....” Something that might have been a vowel left her lips before she fell forward; Danielle's reflexes (enhanced as they were by her clockwork state) were all that kept the vampire from getting a face-full of heart pulp. She eased Lucia to a sitting position near the ground-level door; “Better?” she asked.

“.....a little.” Lucia half-heartedly craned her neck to glance at the gory crater. “Graaf.....”

“Something tells me that even if he gets up from that, he's not going to be walking straight....or just walking, period....” Jack paused, glancing through the gore. “...actually, scratch that. I'm pretty sure he won't be getting up ever again.”

In the center of the gory mass, Graaf's unmoving body rested a few inches above the ground. What seemed, at first, to be a defiance of the laws of physics turned out to be far simpler---and far more lethal: Lucia's running tackle had landed Graaf right onto an upturned, jutting piece of wood---one that, as luck (or fate) would have it, had gone right through his heart. Lucia had been spared that fate thanks to the specific move she'd used to bring her former partner down: a running clothesline, which kept her off of Graaf when he'd been impaled.

“....the Doctor said we had to stake them and cut their heads off,” Sarah Jane began, only to stop as Danielle strode past her, picking up a large shard of glass from the one of the shattered windows. Without pause, she walked into the gory crater and stood over Graaf---

“Wait.....” Lucia eased herself up, and made her way to the crater. “Let me.” Danielle silently handed over the shard, stepping back to let Lucia do the deed.

The faintest whisper of “goodbye” left her pale lips.....

….followed, soon after, by the glass shard being slammed down, straight through Graaf's neck.
------------------------------
Through the darkness of future past,
The magician longs to see....
One chants out between two worlds:
"Fire...walk with me."

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DukeNukem 2417
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Re: Doctor Who: The Doctor vs. Dracula - Part 7

Postby DukeNukem 2417 » Sun Dec 24, 2017 9:19 pm

“Doctor.”

Had it come from River Song, Charles Lauden, Gary Wyngarde or Janos Ruthven, the utterance of his name (or at least, his preferred title) would've been nothing out of the ordinary....but the word (or title) of “Doctor” being spoken by Vlad Tepes Dracula was not something he wanted to hear.

“Count.” The Time Lord smirked (if only to keep himself from saying something that would get his friends killed where they stood). “Well....here we are.”

“Indeed......I have awaited your arrival for quite some time.” Even from the throne,it was obvious that Dracula's smile was hideously thin; he took a long sip from the champagne flute he held between his pale fingers, regarding each of the Doctor's allies in turn. “The heart in the tower has fallen,” he stated---as casually as if he'd been talking about the weather. “Destroyed, thanks to the hubris of Graaf and his hatred of.....Lucia, I believe her name was....yes, my former consort.” The Count paused; “Graaf has fallen, as well,” he intoned. “A pity.....I was hoping to see him face you---”

“Enough.”

River Song strode forth, glaring at Dracula. “We didn't come here for idle chit-chat,” she declared. “The only reason we're here is to see you die.”

“And die you shall,” Father Wyngarde added, his voice uncharacteristically angry. “You have shed the form and flesh of man to become a monster......you no longer have a place in this world!”

A low, throaty chuckle left the Count's lips. “....oh, but this world invited me. It was not by my own hand that I have once again been given form and flesh---your own kind summoned me forth, offering me praise and tribute!”

“Tribute?!” Janos Ruthven stepped forward, his sword at the ready. “You're nothing but a thief---a stealer of souls! You enslave all in your path....you lie to them, and strip away their lives---their freedom!”

Dracula scoffed. “The same could be said of all religions....freedom is always sacrificed to faith, after all....but are you----any of you---truly here by choice?”

Charles Lauden pumped the shotgun Danielle had given him. “All we're here for is your descruction.”

Father Wyngarde nodded in agreement. “We have heard enough of your heresy, Vlad Tepes! Your words are as empty as your black heart, and as dead as your soul. This world ill needs a savior such as you.....”

“....because,” the Doctor finished, “you, Count Dracula, are nothing but a blight on mankind.”

Dracula took a long pull on the champagne flute, a lone drop of its contents still on his lips. “Mankind,” he whispered. “Mankind..” He rose from the throne and hurled the flute at the Doctor's feet.

The Time Lord didn't flinch as the glass shattered on the stone floor.

“WHAT IS A MAN?!” Dracula's shout rang through the Keep, as thunder crashed and lightning split the sky outside. “A miserable little pile of secrets, scrabbling for even the smallest scrap of power in this miserable cesspit of hatred and lies......” He glared at each of his assailants in turn, sneering; it had been far, far too long since anyone had confronted him with the intent to fight, and even longer still since the last time anyone had made an organized effort to destroy him....

….whatever transpired from this point forth would be....interesting....

He focused his stare on the Doctor. “.....but enough talk-----”

Lightning flashed in every window of the keep, temporarily illuminating the entire room with its brilliance. Even Dracula had to shield his eyes, just for a moment....

….and when his attention returned to those who had gathered to kill him, the Doctor had vanished----

Something cracked, and a burning pain seared across one side of Dracula's face.

The Count lifted a hand to his cheek, and felt a small, raw slash. How.......

From above, a voice: “HAVE AT YOU!”

Thoughts of how the Doctor had reached the rafters of the Keep, how he'd gotten hold of the priest's whip, or even how he'd timed his “vanishing” with the lightning passed through Dracula's mind in quick succession; at the moment, none of them mattered. What mattered was the fight.....

…..and, more importantly, destroying those who stood before him.

Before the Doctor could strike again with the whip, Dracula raised one hand and was enveloped in a column of fire. Seconds later, it dissipated---taking Dracula with it....only to appear behind Father Wyngarde and fade into the all-too familiar figure of the Count.

“DIE, VERMIN!” Three fireballs, “stacked” atop each other, formed in the palm of Dracula's upturned hand---

---only for another blast of pain, this time hitting his right leg, to cut him off.

“The only vermin here is you, Count!” Janos spat, ripping the blessed dagger he'd used to slay the Elder out of Dracula's leg. “And you will die tonight----”

A savage backhand sent him reeling---just in time to give Lauden a clear shot.

“Bullets, against a vampire?” Dracula scoffed. “What nonsense---”

The roar of the shotgun coincided with another searing pain---this time, in Draucla's left shoulder.

“I hear your kind isn't particularly fond of garlic,” Lauden stated. “Figured I'd let a few shells soak in garlic juice before I left....let them really absorb it into the buckshot---”

The column of fire rose up around Dracula again, just as Lauden prepared to squeeze the trigger.

“It'd be a really great help if we knew where he'd land with that stupid trick,” River muttered. “Otherwise we'll be running around this room all night, trying to hit him----”

A sudden surge of heat in the center of the room cut her off; the column of fire had reappeared.

“Cheeky blighter must've read my mind....” River smirked as she readied her Sonic Blaster. “Say goodnight, Vlad Tepes---”

Before she could utter the name “Dracula”, a fireball shot out of the column and knocked the blaster from her hands. “GAH!” River shook the pain out of her trigger hand; the blaster hit the floor a few feet away, reduced to nothing more than a smoldering pile of metal and components.

“Such foolish tactics,” Dracula intoned. “You truly believe that any of you could possibly destroy ME?! I AM DRACULA, LORD OF THE NIGHT, KING OF THE VAMPIRES....SOVEREIGN OF THE DAMNED!”

A ring of fire appeared around River, as the Count smiled. “....and you, my dear, will soon be damned---”

“NO, SHE WON'T!”

The Doctor charged forth, tackling River out of the ring of fire just as pillars of flame rose up on either side of it; Dracula merely sneered at his efforts. “Such a valliant gesture, Lord Doctor....and a foolish one.” Again, he held out one hand, palm raised, as a fireball swirled to life within it. “And now, Child of Gallifrey,” he intoned, “you will burn.....”

Even as the Count taunted him, the Doctor's thoughts drifted.....images of Jason David May, and Arianna swam through his mind, as if their travels with him were playing out like a movie before him. Borusa's wisdom, Maxil's backhanded compliments, Romana's kind words, and Susan's ever-present smile.....

….and one image, clearer than the rest, surged to the forefront of the Doctor's mind....

….the smiling face of Emily Grace Quinn, giggling and as she spoke: “You are so weird, Doctor...”

Dracula was shouting something else, now, but the Doctor didn't hear it. Images, and memories of his friends and allies---Jack Harkness, River Song, Alysha Coleman, Hannah Darvill, Derrick Carter, and even Lauden, Danielle, Janos, Father Wyngarde and Emma---coursed through his synapses, filling him with a renewed vigor. He was all too aware that the fireball in Dracula's hand had grown to the size of a basketball, and that the Count was preaparing to launch it at him....but somehow, it didn't seem nearly as threatening as it should have.

They're counting on me, the Doctor realized. Every single one of them.....

Again, Emily's voice sounded in his ears: “...yes, Doctor, I trust you. With my life, even.”

A smile formed on the Time Lord's lips. “That's all I needed to hear.”

Even as Dracula reared back to throw the fireball, time seemed to slow down, to stretch. The thing was aimed directly at the Doctor's head, and would more than likely have killed any other organic being on the spot....but in that one moment, the Doctor didn't care. He'd said it himself, in his lecture: the power of belief was enough to repel the evil of a vampire.

Hopefully, it's enough for what I”m about to do......

The fireball was mere inches away from him, now; the heat was just starting to singe his coat sleeve.

This one's for all of you....everyone who put their lives in my hands...everyone who trusted me......

Without hesitation, the Doctor swung out his right arm, hitting the fireball (and feeling it; the thing somehow had the mass of a basketball to match its size). The blinding flash of lightning that filled the room was all the cover he needed; even Dracula wouldn't be able to spot him activating the Vortex Manipulator and retreating to the rafters of the room.

As the flash dissipated, and everyone's eyes adjusted, it appeared that the Doctor had been reduced to atoms from the impact of the fireball.

“Yes.....YES! See, now, the futility of your efforts---the hopelessness of your struggle!” Dracula conjured up another fireball in his hand, returning his attention to River Song---who, at that moment, looked as if she was on the verge of tears. “His sacrifice, his pathetic gesture, was merely a waste....and now you will join him in death!” He held up his other hand, laughing as a fireball swirled to life above his palm.

“This night,” the Count intoned, “belongs to me.....this battle, this victory.....is MINE....” His tongue played across his lips as he stared River down.

“...even without the Rondo,” he sneered, “I will bathe the streets of London in BLOOD----”

A scream from above him cut off the remark---just as lightning filled the room once again, and blinded all within it. When it cleared, Dracula still had a fireball in each hand---only to feel a lashing blow strike his back, tearing through his cloak to rend his flesh. A gasp left his lips, and the fireballs dissipated in his aplms.

“DOCTOR! IF YOU ARE STILL ALIVE, I WILL RIP YOUR HEARTS FROM YOUR CHEST FOR THIS!”

Again, Lauden fired garlic-laced buckshot at him; again, Janos dodged and attacked with the dagger. Father Wyngarde was circling the room, leaving religious sigils on the floor and chanting a prayer of some kind, and River Song (who'd regained her composure almost instantly) was proving to be a persistent aggressor even without her gun---vials of holy water, thorns from a holly bush and other well-known “anti-vampire” measures seemed to be in endless supply within her jacket pockets, and each one hit the Count in quick succession.

After what felt like half an hour or so of enduring these attacks, however, Dracula was in no mood to humor the fools any further.

“ENOUGH OF THIS!” A single sweep of his arm sent Janos and Father Wyngarde flying across the room. “If you intend to destroy me, then DO IT---this pathetic assault is an insult to me, to my lineage and to the name of Dracula---”

Another vial of holy water hit him in the face, steam rising as it trailed down his cheek.

“.....okay,” River admitted, “that was just bad timing---”

In a heartbeat, the Count was at her side, one hand wrapped around her throat. “I think,” Dracula intoned, “I will turn you, as he watches....your death could be what finally breaks his spirit.” His lips parted to reveal the dreaded fangs; “It will be slow,” he continued. “Your pain, your anguish....I want him to feel every second of it, as I end your life....”

“You....won't.....”

Dracula's smile faded. “You are in no position to command me, woman....”

“....but....he....is.....”

“.....what?!”

Even with the Count choking the life out of her, River managed a half-grin. “You....didn't....even...see him....”

“See him what?!”

“....see....him....leave.....”

Dracula hurled River to the floor, ignoring her grunt of pain. “DOCTOR! Whatever trickery you intend to use against me, I assure you it will not work! Many have tried to best me before---Brauner, Cronquist, Kagan, Krolock, Lothos, Valek, Yorga......” With each name, his smile returned. “...they and many besides them stood against me---they sought to strip me of my title as ruler of my kind, depose me from my own domain...every last one who stood in my way was destroyed, as YOU shall be destroyed, Lord Doctor!” He glared back at River; “Would you allow her to suffer?!” he sneered. “Would you merely stand back, and watch, as I drained the blood from her body....as she joined my kind?!”

His words rang throughout the keep, echoing endlessly.

“ANSWER ME, DOCTOR! HOW MANY OF THEM MUST I KILL BEFORE YOU FACE ME?!”

“None of them.”

Those three words seemed to drown out all other sound in the Keep---at least, until another sound filled the room. River nearly laughed; Lauden, Wyngarde and Janos, on the other hand, were slightly confused....

...but Dracula knew all too well what the VWROP, VWROP that filled his ears meant.

“All this time,” the Doctor's voice stated, “you were planning this moment like it was your great triumph...your final victory. You had it all figured out, in your head---right down to how you would be standing over me, in the end, my hearts in your hands....my dead body at your feet.”

The room around Dracula began to fade, seemingly into black. “....what is this?!”

“What you didn't realize,” the Doctor continued, “is that this was never your fight to win, or to lose. All along, from the moment I was first told that I had to stop you....this wasn't your battle.”

The last of the VWROP, VWROP sounds faded, leaving Dracula standing in a foggy, black void, alone---

No. Not alone.

“....everything leading to this moment was yours,” the Doctor admitted, from what could only be the center of the void. “But this.....this 'great triumph', this 'final victory'......is mine.”

“No......Lord Doctor, this will not be your triumph.” Dracula raised a hand, palm upturned. “This will be---”

“You can just stop, now, Count. It won't work.”

“....what?” Dracula stared at the Doctor, then at his hand---the expected “stack” of fireballs had yet to appear.

“If we were still in Castle Dracula, or whatever you call that monstrosity you had the clockwork droids create for you, you'd be flinging fireballs left and right,” the Time Lord admitted. “But since we're not in Castle Dracula, right now----”

“Do not try to confuse me, Doctor,” Dracula spat. “Your tricks, your pathetic illusions will not---”

“This is no trick,” the Doctor shot back. “This is the end, for you.....and it's way overdue.” He raised his own hand, two fingers together as if he were pinching something between them.....

...and, as Dracula watched, he snapped his fingers.

“....you have done nothing,” the Count intoned. “All of this, mere.....” He stopped; something wasn't right.

“Starting to feel a bit light-headed?”

“.....this is nothing,” Dracula insisted. “You are.....you have done......” A throbbing, pounding feeling began to make itself known behind his eyeballs---it wasn't the same kind of blinding, searing pain as the whip or the dagger, but.....in some way, it was almost worse. “.....what is this?!”

“So you are feeling it.....good.” The Doctor nodded. “See, I was hoping this would work, otherwise this next bit would be a lot shorter and a lot more violent....well, shorter for me, more violent for you, but I digress...” He glanced at the walls around him, nodding. “Impressive, isn't it? A made-to-order 'nowhere room' that looks exactly like you'd think an endless void looks....except it's not endless, and---for me, at least---it's not just a void....but I'd prefer to let you get the picture yourself.”

Slowly, Dracula realized that the “blackness” around him was no longer black---it was light.

More to the point, a rather specific spectrum of light......

“You kind of brought this upon yourself,” the Doctor continued. “when you overplayed your hand and went on your little tirade about the sun not being enough to kill you.”

“Whatever you are doing to me,” Dracula intoned, “I order you to stop---”

“You don't give the orders around here,” the Doctor thundered. “I do.” A smile---thin-lipped, and bordering on sadistic---formed on his lips. “Even if you could do something to me in here,” he continued, “it'd be the last mistake you ever made; if you somehow got out of this room, you'd be wandering around for ages, trying to find a way out and never reaching it..”

“This room?!” Dracula echoed. “A single room cannot contain---”

“This room,” the Doctor stated, “is not just 'a single room'.....” The lights that made up the walls of the room began to increase in brightness---or at the very least, in the intensity that only Dracula would feel. “As I was saying before you so rudely interrupted me.....you messed up big time when you said the sun wouldn't kill you, so I decided to do some reading---oh, speaking of which. One of the names you mentioned....Cronquist, I think. He was a vampire---like you---travelling through Wallachia, with 'scores of knowledge and dark wisdom' to impart.....had something called the Crimson Stone with him---”

“The Stone was but a bauble!” Dracula countered. “A trinket, for my ever-growing collection!”

“True. But Cronquist had no intention of trying to conquer Wallachia himself, or depose you as ruler....you let him live. Told him to take a new name, even.....Matthias Corvinus. Under that name, he 'fled' the country and spread the tales of cruel, barbaric acts committed by one Vlad Tepes III.....also known as Vlad the Impaler, currently known as....well, you.”

“...you have learned well, Doctor,” Dracula admitted. “But---”

“I'm not done.” Again, the lights seemed to burn brighter; every bone in the Count's body ached, now.

“....anyway, back to the topic at hand.....I did a bit of reading, about you, your kind, the Yssgaroth---and don't even act surprised at the mention of that name, because I'm pretty sure most of the 'magic' you possess came from them in one way or another....but I digress. I did some reading, and I found out that, over time, a vampire with your power level would be immune to even the light of the sun.....” The Doctor chuckled. “A concentrated, focused blast of pure, unfiltered ultraviolet light, on the other hand----”

“You are here in this room with me,” Dracula protested. “Blocking the light....”

He stopped. Noticed that the Doctor wasn't casting a shadow.

At that exact moment, a ripple ran through the Doctor's figure.

“.....caught me red handed,” the Time Lord admitted. “I'm not actually here, in this room, at the moment---I was in the Keep, with the rest of them, if you're wondering....but if you were wracking your brain trying to figure out how the light was hitting you from every direction....” The figure of the Doctor vanished---only to appear a few feet away from Dracula, shaking his head. “Holograms are truly amazing things....something that 'your kind' never really had an appreciation for.”

Even as he spoke, the lights around the room became more intense, forcing Dracula to his knees.

“SO, obviously, I had to go through the whole 'get to the castle, save Emma, destroy the heart in the tower' plan before I could even hope to get to this part,” the Doctor (or the illusion of him) continued. “So far, so good...but then there was the obvious problem....”

He turned to stare at the kneeling, enraged figure of Dracula. “.....what to do with you once I'd trapped you?”

“Trapped me?!” Dracula echoed. “TRAPPED ME?!” He rose, almost seeming to fully regain his strength---

---except the floor and ceiling suddenly began to glow, dropping him to all fours almost instantly.

“.....yes, trapped you. See, this room isn't just some one-off prison cell created just to hold you.....it's part of my vessel. My ship, as it were....the TARDIS. You know all about TARDISes, don't you? What the name stands for, what they're capable of.....the Great Vampires you've killed probably spilled their guts, in more ways than one, before you cannibalized them to lay the foundations for your 'grand castle'.” The Doctor shook his head at the thought. “Brilliant trick, by the way...trying to fool people into thinking you'd really tear up five castles just to build one. Must've taken a good long while before you found the secrets of building yours....too bad you wasted all that time.”

As if to anticipate another protest from Dracula, the floor and ceiling lights increased in intensity.

“....so I did the whole spiel with getting to the keep, I let you give your little speech, everybody got a move or two in, and then it was time to ensnare you within the TARDIS. So far, so good.” The figure of the Doctor paced back and forth, sighing. “But what to do with you, now that I've trapped you?”

The lights cut out, the figure of the Doctor vanished---and at the far end of the chamber, a pair of doors opened outwards, to an utterly alien world.

Dracula, still weakened by the bombardment of ultraviolet light, staggered forth. “.....what?”

Beyond the doorway was a world unlike anything he'd ever seen---the surface of the planet was composed entirely of diamonds. Under other circumstances, it might have been beautiful.....

“Welcome home, Count.”

The Doctor---now clad in a thick, armored suit of somekind that covered his entire figure, complete with a glass-domed helmet over his head---stood by a tree-like structure. “Hopefully, the trip didn't take too much out of you....”

An angry growl was the only reply Dracula could muster, seconds before he collapsed.

“It's called Midnight, if you're wondering,” the Doctor continued, walking up to and around the Count as if his collapse wasn't anything to worry about. “The whole planet is made of diamonds....beautiful place. And a bit eerie, if you're here for too long.....which, in your case, is going to be....well....” He chuckled.

“.....how.....”

“Time And Relative Dimensions In Space.” The Doctor tapped the exterior of the TARDIS. “While you were getting the sturm und drang routine in there, I searched the cosmos for a planet that was: 1.) Uninhabited, B.) as far from Earth as possible, and finally, unlikely to ever be inhabited in the near or distant future. Granted, I hear they're going to have a tourist train running through this place eventually, but no permanent settlements, so for now...” He shrugged.

“.....you.....you cannot do this to me---”

“I can,” the Doctor corrected, “and I have. It's over, Dracula. Your 'honored guests' are being evacuated from the castle as we speak, the castle itself is being dismantled....and you're so far away from the place, your body hasn't figured out how to cope, hence the inability to throw fireballs or do your little teleport trick....”

He strode over to Dracula, kneeling by him.

“I suggest you get used to it.”

Dracula tried, desperatley, to push himself up and lash out at the Time Lord....but he could barely move. “You will not win, Doctor,” he insisted. “Someday, my acolytes will---”

“Unless your 'acolytes' intend to spend a small fortune on space travel and are willing to risk getting arrested or worse, nobody's going to come looking for you. It's over. You're done. For you, Vlad Tepes Dracula, this is the end......” The Doctor turned and walked back to the TARDIS. “And even if it isn't,” he added, “I officially wash my hands of you.”

“The Time Lords will know!” Dracula shouted, turning to glare at the Doctor. “They will know you failed---”

“Oh, I don't doubt they'll know that I didn't kill you,” the Doctor admitted. “I was going to tell them myself, to be honest....but they're well aware that I have a strict 'no-kill' policy. And hey, you've lived for...what, a thousand or so years already....what's a few decades of solitary confinement on a planet without any other organic life, eh?”

“.....I will escape this place,” Dracula muttered. “If it takes me a thousand years...if it takes me ONE MILLION LIFETIMES....I will leave this accursed world and find you, Lord Doctor.....I WILL FIND YOU, AND I WILL MAKE YOU SUFFER!”

“......yeah, well......” The Doctor chuckled. “Good luck with that.”

He stepped into the TARDIS, snapped his fingers, and watched as the doors closed.

The last he saw of Dracula was the vampire screaming, vowing vengeance against him, and against all Time Lords, for this punishment.

…..like that'll ever happen.

The lights in the console room kicked on as the TARDIS disembarked; slowly, the Doctor extricated himself from the spacesuit, eventually sitting against a wall near the coat rack. It had been a long, arduous fight to get to Dracula, and now.....it was over.

“I did it,” he muttered. “I finally, really did it....didn't I?”

“In your own way,” the voice of Borusa replied, “you did.....and contrary to what Dracula claimed, you didn't fail us.” The Doctor chuckled as the projection of his teacher sat down next to him. “Stranding him on this planet was....unexpected, of course, but far more favorable than destroying him---and allow me to explain, please, before you judge me for that remark.”

“By all means.”

“A force....a being as powerful as Dracula must be balanced out by an equally powerful....or influential being, such as yourself. Your avoidance of killing him was....anticipated.”

“And as for why I had to do this all without direct Time Lord intervention?”

Borusa stared at the floor of the TARDIS. “....there has been another attempt at political upheaval on Gallifrey, Lord Doctor. Rassilon's enemies grow more desperate, more insidious....some of them even hoped that you would fail in your mission against Dracula, so that his allowance of your 'freedom' from Gallifrey might be used against him for their own reasons....”

“So some of my own people wanted me to screw up,” the Doctor muttered. “Great....”

“As the people of Earth are so fond of saying, it was 'nothing personal'.”

“And every other Time Lord was trying to keep Rassilon from getting kicked out of office?”

“They were trying to keep the peace, to keep you out of the whole sordid affair....despite your apparent refusal to believe it, you do still have friends on Gallifrey.” Borusa glanced at the Doctor with a bemused look. “I find it strange, Lord Doctor, that you constantly bemoan your status among Time Lord society, despite the fact that we have never formally charged you with any crime...”

The Doctor rolled his eyes. “I steal a TARDIS, and you still haven't charged me....”

“A TARDIS that was scheduled for decommission, if you recall. The quadrigger in charge of that assignment wasn't exactly fond of your 'interference' in his work.....”

“So I'm not in trouble, but there are still plenty of Time Lords who'd drag my name through the mud for their own purposes...Susan said she was on the other side of the galaxy when she contacted me, so I'm hoping she wasn't involved in this whole mess.”

“.....not that I was aware of.”

“Was she involved or not?” The Doctor frowned. “Seriously, I want to make sure she gets away from the kind of Gallifreyan politics that I left behind....”

“She wasn't involved, Lord Doctor. She specifically cited your influence as a reason for not getting involved.”

“Glad to see I'm making such a positive impact...” The Doctor sighed. “I guess you have to get back to the usual business on Gallifrey, then,” he mused.

“I do. And before I leave, I would just like to say, Lord Doctor, that you've handled this....admirably.”

“....you paused before you said 'admirably',” the Doctor noted, frowning. “Where did I screw up?”

“You didn't 'screw up', Lord Doctor. Granted, some of the deaths that occurred could have been prevented---”

“One more thing,” the Doctor cut in. “.....Lindsay. Why was she even involved in any of this?!”

Borusa arched an eyebrow. “.....I was unaware that Lindsay was 'involved'.”

“.....well, she was. She was the first one I saw when I landed in Ealing....hit me over the head with a plastic gun, just like the first time.”

“Her presence here is.....strange, to say the least,” Borusa admitted. “Still, she has not caused any significant imbalance in the course of events. If anything, she was...a distraction, more than anything else---but the Time Lords will investigate her interference in these events, Doctor, and do their best to understand the scope of her involvement.”

“Right, right....” The Doctor fought to stifle a yawn. “.....I need to get back to Earth, sort out the aftermath of, well....this.....and then get a good nights' sleep.” He closed his eyes. “And then, I'll pay Emily a visit.”

“In that case, I wish you safe travels, Lord Doctor.” Borusa's projection rose. “Farewell, for now.”

The Doctor nodded. “Happy times and places, Borusa.”

With a final nod, and a smile, Borusa turned away...and vanished on the spot.

“And now, to get back to Earth,” the Doctor muttered, raising himself up from where he'd been sitting and half-staggering to the console. “Everything after this is going to be.....hopefully, not boring.....”

He chuckled. “Hopefully, it's not too 'not boring'.....
-----------------------------------------------------
Through the darkness of future past,
The magician longs to see....
One chants out between two worlds:
"Fire...walk with me."


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