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Birthday/ Fic: Something's Out There

dw - ian/barbara, dw - One
Happy birthday to astrogirl2! Here's hoping you're continuing to recover well - and having a marvellous day! ♥

I had this 500 prompts fic nearly finished already, as it happened, so it's here doubling up as some sort of birthday fic:


Title: Something’s Out There
Author: lost_spook
Rating: All ages
Word Count: 1675
Characters/Pairings: First Doctor, Ian Chesterton, Barbara Wright, Susan Foreman
Notes/Warnings: None.
Summary: There’s something mysterious lurking in an alien forest…

For astrogirl2 in the 500 Prompts Meme #42 Something’s out there – First Doctor.

***


The Doctor made his way through the forest, clearing the path before him where needed with his cane. He stopped as he reached the rock face, looking up at it, his eyes alight with interest.

You know, he thought, that young woman was right – there is something there. He felt sure, too, that he knew now what it was.

*

“Oh, Ian, there you are,” said Barbara, catching at his arm as they half collided with each other outside the TARDIS; she on her way in, he on his way out.

Ian glanced at her. “I was just looking for you. What is it? Don’t tell me the Doctor’s in trouble again.”

“I hope not,” said Barbara. “That’s what I wanted to say. He sent me back to find out how Susan was, but – you see, I was sure I saw something in the trees, and he’s gone off to look. You know how he is, Ian. He just said that of course he would be all right, he wasn’t going far, and I should go and check on Susan and stop fussing.”

Ian gave a smile. “Yes, I can hear him. Look, don’t worry. You keep an eye on Susan, and I’ll make sure nothing happens to him. I suppose we should have known this bit of peace and quiet was too good to last.”

“How is Susan?”

Ian turned back. “She came round a few minutes ago. Seems fine – wanted to get up already, though I’ve told her not to.”

“Oh, well, that’s good news anyway. If she really is all right, we’ll come and join you as soon as we can.”

“One thing,” Ian said. “You said you saw something. What, exactly?”

Barbara pressed herself back against the TARDIS door and wrinkled her forehead as she considered the question. “I don’t know. I thought it was only the light through the trees for a moment, but it wasn’t. Something translucent – like a ghost.”

*

“Oh, Barbara it’s you,” said Susan. She was standing beside the food machine, waiting for one of its odd little rectangular ‘meals’ to emerge.

Barbara raised an eyebrow. “I seem to remember Ian telling me that he’d told you to stay lying down.”

“Yes, but honestly, Barbara, I’m fine now,” said Susan. “Anyway, I was hungry.”

Barbara smiled. “What is it you’re eating?”

“Fish and chips,” said Susan, unwrapping the little package. “Something Ian said reminded me.”

“Not quite the same, is it, though?” said Barbara, amused, though at the same time the idea of fish and chips made her feel homesick.

Susan laughed. “No newspaper. I know.”

“But how do you feel?”

Susan shrugged, and polished off the last of her food. “Quite well, thank you. Ian told me how you brought me back here, but I only feel as if I had a good night’s rest, that’s all. I don’t think they meant to hurt me at all.”

Barbara thought about the aliens they’d encountered yesterday. “I don’t expect they did. We were just a bit too different to exist together safely, I suppose. I think they were very relieved when we left.”

“Anyway, I don’t have to go back to bed, do I?”

“No, I don’t see the point,” said Barbara. “We’ll wait a little while – just to make sure – and then we’ll go and find the other two.”

Susan gave her a grateful smile. “Good. Where are we now? I asked Ian, but all he said was that it was somewhere quiet.”

“Well, that’s really all we do know,” said Barbara. “There doesn’t seem to be anything but forest out there. Miles and miles of it, as far as we can see.”

“Oh?” Susan said.

Barbara put an arm around her. “It’s very nice, though. Especially after that last planet.”

“I’ll find a coat,” said Susan, “and then we can go and find Ian and Grandfather – give them a surprise!”

Barbara nodded. “Yes, let’s,” she said, hoping that nothing else had given them a more unwelcome surprise in the meantime.

*

The Doctor, Ian saw, was busy pulling away weeds and moss from the rock face. Ian was used to the Doctor getting up to some pretty strange things, but he hadn’t expected to find him out here gardening. He edged nearer.

“Really, my dear boy,” said the Doctor without turning round. “Not very stealthy, are you? You may as well come over here and give me a hand.”

Ian stepped out into the clearing. “I’m sorry, but we were worried about you. Barbara said she saw something, and so I –”

“You thought you’d creep up on me and interfere, I suppose?” The Doctor surveyed him. “Dear, dear. I can assure you I’m no danger from anything other than one rather clumsy schoolteacher! That young lady worries far too much, if you ask me.”

Ian rolled his eyes. “Yes, all right, but – well – what are you doing, Doctor?”

“What does it look like?” The Doctor resumed his current battle with a troublesome creeper.

Ian helped the Doctor with pulling away the weeds, since it seemed the best way to eventually get some sort of answer out of him.

“There’s no intelligent life here, you know,” the Doctor said, as they stood back to survey the cleared section. “Only us, and all these trees.”

“How can you be so sure?”

The Doctor glanced over at him. “Because I know what this is – and therefore I know precisely where we are. Unfortunately for our purposes what I can’t be certain of is when.”

Ian turned around, hearing Barbara and Susan approaching and calling out for them. “Over here!” he shouted, and waved.

“Grandfather!” said Susan, and run over to fling her arms around the Doctor.

Barbara came to a halt next to Ian, and looked at the pile of uprooted plants. “Whatever have you been doing?”

“That’s a good question,” said Ian. “Perhaps you’d like to enlighten us all, Doctor?”

The Doctor gave a small, private smile, a gleam of amusement in his eyes. “I shan’t need to. Now this is finished, it can explain itself.”

And Ian saw, suddenly, standing in front of the rock face, a figure made out of nothing more than light.

*

“So I did see something,” Barbara said, once they’d finished marvelling at the image of light (the Doctor called it a hologram) and listening to its recorded message.

“Indeed you did, my dear, and just as well, too. The undergrowth and trees were obscuring the – well, let’s call it a projector for the sake of simplicity. Which would never do. This was meant to stand for as long as possible – and so it should.”

Ian watched the ghost-like figure as it began its message again. (“This place is sacred to the memory of those who died…”). “A memorial. But what exactly happened here?”

“It’s Ienia, isn’t it?” said Susan, soberly. She pulled at the leaves of the nearest tree. “It’s terribly famous, Ian, all over the galaxy. Something like your World Wars, I suppose. Only much worse.”

The Doctor nodded. “It’s not just a memorial, it’s a warning.”

“The people of Ienia were involved in a war that spanned the galaxy,” said Susan, as if reciting a childhood tale. “And everyone built more and more terrible weapons, until an Ienian scientist created what they called planet-eaters.”

“Planet eaters?” said Ian. “We’re not in any danger, are we?”

The Doctor glanced around at their deceptively innocent sylvan surroundings. “No, no. And that’s why this is here: as a memorial, and a warning of what comes of such things – and a reminder that the old tale is no myth. The planet-eaters were intelligent, mobile weapons, capable of adapting to their situation. They won the Ienians the war, but then they didn’t go away. Their creators disabled several, but the last two remained here. They buried them first, but that did no good. They continued to wage a war long over, and in the end, the remaining Ienians gave their lives to destroy it.”

“I thought you’d still be able to see something, even now,” said Susan. “I saw those dreadful pictures of it when we were on Haru. I thought the planet must be dead.” She shivered.

The Doctor shrugged. “That’s nature for you, my dear. And of course, if even this memorial is unattended, it must be millennia after it happened.”

“You can’t work out when exactly?” Ian asked, but without very much hope. “If you at least know where you are – I suppose you can’t guess?”

“Guess! My dear boy, when you’re dealing with the whole of time and space – the whole of the universe, one’s calculations need to be precise. If I were to go around guessing –”

“We might wind up just anywhere?” said Ian, and winked at Susan and Barbara. “Well, we couldn’t have that, could we?”

“I’m not sure I like your tone, young Chesterfield!”

Barbara leant towards Ian. “I think I’d like to go and pick some of those flowers we saw before. It feels as if we ought to do something, doesn’t it?”

“Flowers?” said the Doctor, watching Barbara and Susan head away from them. “Whatever for?”

Ian smiled to himself. “It’s a memorial, Doctor, isn’t it? A grave, if you like. Leaving flowers is what we do. Well, some of us. It’s a way of showing – well, respect, I suppose, and that we remember.”

“Ah, yes,” said the Doctor. “Yes, yes. Of course you do.”

Ian turned his gaze away from the memorial to the Doctor. “Well, what do you do?”

The Doctor laughed, and tapped his forehead with one finger. “I keep it in here – I remember! All of it. You wouldn’t understand, my boy. You wouldn’t understand at all!”

“You?” said Ian, with a grin. “I don’t mean to be rude, Doctor, but your memory isn’t all that reliable these days, is it?”

The Doctor only shook his head as they followed the other two back towards the TARDIS. He’d known Ian wouldn’t understand. They never did, not really.

***


Crossposted from Dreamwidth -- Comments there: comment count unavailable

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
astrogirl2
Jul. 13th, 2014 01:08 pm (UTC)
Thank you! And this is lovely. Your One voice is just so very pitch-perfect. :)
lost_spook
Jul. 13th, 2014 08:13 pm (UTC)
Thanks!

Happy birthday again!!
eve11
Jul. 13th, 2014 02:12 pm (UTC)
This is really beautiful. Very vivid, with wonderful character voices as ever. I like how it is a small scene in a bigger world; conversations and history giving us glimpses of the whole.
lost_spook
Jul. 13th, 2014 08:13 pm (UTC)
Aw, thank you. :-)
persiflage_1
Jul. 13th, 2014 06:00 pm (UTC)
Lovely!
lost_spook
Jul. 13th, 2014 08:13 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :-)
paranoidangel42
Jul. 14th, 2014 07:25 pm (UTC)
I like this. And I love the memorial/warning
lost_spook
Jul. 14th, 2014 07:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :-)
swordznsorcery
Jul. 27th, 2014 08:09 pm (UTC)
Excellent! You write the First Doctor very well, and I like the scenes between the other characters too. Very nicely done, and a very neat little scene.

Are you going to post it at the_chestertons? The place could use a little love!
lost_spook
Jul. 28th, 2014 07:34 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :-)

And, since it isn't especially Ian/&Barbara-centric, I don't think I will - but you're right, I should get back to being more proactive about posting to comms. For a long time it was difficult, and then when I felt a bit better, the comms were so quiet. I should go post this to dw_hartnell or something (if it'll let me).
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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