Chapter 1: The Bars
Author's note: Reviews welcome :D
I could barely open my eyes, so I settled for a squint. I didn't remember when I fell asleep, or unconscious, I couldn't recall which. I winced in pain, the simple movement of my eyelids reminding me of what happened. I couldn't see much, even though my eyes were open and I was awake. But I felt the solid form of a wall at my back, ground beneath my feet, and soft, cold breeze whispering over my wounds. The chill brought me to my senses, and I managed to open my eyes fully. All that met my eyes was darkness, apart from the occasional vertical glint like the shine on metal. My mind cleared and I recalled the torture I had endured, the suffering. With wide eyes I gasped for breath, relieved that refreshing, whole and sufficient oxygen filled my lungs. With a sigh of comfort I leaned forward, which turned into a sharp inhale of pain. My back, which was sticky from dried blood, stung intensely as my motion tore open my closed cuts slightly. Trying to avoid thinking of the pain it caused me, I looked about my legs and was comforted to see that my clothes, though slightly torn, were on my person. With a jerk of realization I frantically looked around for a familiar face, which was, to my relief, nowhere in sight.
But that didn't necessarily mean anything.
A golden shine caught my eye, so I turned back to observe the ground beside me. Sitting there was the choke-pear, the claws sharp and menacing. I moved myself away from it, swallowing and looking for something else to place my focus on. The mechanism still remained the most noticeable thing in my proximity, however. I shook as I drew my legs out from underneath me, trying to get as comfortable as possible. I kept glancing around at the darkness, part of me hoping the Master would come back, if nothing else to ease my loneliness. Without another living creature around, I felt as if I was going to go mad. It was like knowing you were the last of your species, or at least thinking so; but even worse. No one to talk to, no one to hold, no one to share wonders with and most definitely no one to save. I drew my legs to my chest, looking around expectantly. I don't remember how long I sat there, waiting.
Just before I decided to give up searching, I heard movement. I felt a lifting in my chest that almost made me want to stand, though I thought better of it. Lowering my legs, I scanned the darkness, finding nothing different about it. The lift in my chest sunk back down, and I kept my eyes focused on my close surroundings. Nothing had changed there, either. Was it the Master, deliberately trying to drive me mad or was it truly something else? I gave a little sigh, breaking the uneasy silence. My thoughts hadn't chosen a direction to travel, and neither did my eyes. So I just kept still, staring at the uneven surface of the stone under my feet.
Then I heard the sound again. Intrigued, I stood up on weakened legs, my back stinging with pain. Too aroused to notice, I kept listening. There it was once more, a quiet scraping followed by a brief brush of something on metal. I tried my best to keep the sound in my mind as I pondered the sound's properties. It had to have been clothing or fur that made the brushing sound. Whatever it was had quieted down again. After a long while, the sound came back, for longer and was closer to me; this time I heard a brief whimper mixed in. Worried now, I took a painful step forward. The sound ceased, leaving me standing there, my legs wanting to crumple underneath me. Eventually they did, and I sank to the ground with a cringe, trying to ignore the pain. The noise didn't come back.
Countless hours passed. They stretched longer than I even imagined possible, the nothingness tearing at my mind. I needed to do something. Never before had I stood that still for that long. I couldn't help but wonder how humans back on earth were able to sit on a couch for hours on end. Maddened by the lack of activity, in a fit of desperation, I reached for the choke-pear. It was colder than the stone, in my hands. I swallowed, thankful that I was the one holding the mechanism and not the Master. Turning it over in my palm, I found a slip of paper attached around the stem-like screw. There were a few symbols written on it in Gallifreyan that read: "To tide you over..." I sighed wistfully at the sarcasm I could imagine dripping from the Master's voice as I read it.
I flopped back against the wall, slowly curling myself up and pressing my side against the stone in an attempt to preserve warmth. I shivered slightly from the chill, and slightly from a foreboding feeling that was rising in my chest. I lay there, a churning in my stomach, a slicing pain in my back, and the coldness sweeping around me. I clung to hope on a thin, easily breakable thread. And all was quiet.
~ X ~
Dragging on and on...
It was excruciating.
~ X ~
When I decided to move again, I was almost entirely numb. A clawing hunger had formed in my stomach, restless and unsatisfied. I had tried to sleep but the cold had prevented any wholesome rest. Quietly I stood up. My injuries felt better; I had probably been sitting there for over 24 hours. I looked around, and swallowed. My throat was dry and my voice unused. It was odd to hear a sound as I spoke. "Hello...?"
I waited for a reply, but there came no answer. I sighed and started briskly pacing. My legs were tense and numb, but I was determined to regain my strength. I decided it was best to be prepared for something, even if nothing happened ever again. For a moment I pondered if I might take up a habit of conversing with myself, since no one was there to converse with me. I hadn't tried it before. It sounded painfully boring. I shook my head, my thoughts clearing and my legs falling into a steady rhythm of movement. I smiled, for the first time in a good while, feeling my strength returning. The cold was ebbing away as I warmed up, and I was beginning to feel whole again. If only I just had someone to talk to...
After a good round of pacing I decided to exercise my thoughts as well. I focused my attention on the questions that had haunted me ever since I arrived there- what was this place anyway? Why was it always dark? Was there anyone else there but the Master and I...? The list went on and on. Suddenly I was in a different place, sucked back into a desperate memory. My TARDIS was shaking and pulsing in a red light as the cloister bell rung. I lost my footing multiple times, latching onto the console and hauling myself into a supported standing position. Expertly but frantically, I slid around the console, tweaking different controls in an attempt to calm her down. Nothing seemed to work, and I swiveled around on my heel to survey the walls as the lights of the TARDIS dimmed. I began to panic as the sound of the Vortex echoed through the room, making the realization that the soundproofing and most likely the shields were down as well. The ship jerked violently, and something in my chest dropped when I heard the sound of walls cracking as I fell again. Not knowing what to do, I stumbled over to the railing and hung on for dear life as the TARDIS flew unprotected through the Time Vortex. Colors blurred and the whole room shuddered, and then everything faded to black.
I snapped back to reality, finding with a sigh a similar darkness that I had begun to get used to. With an irritable lurch in my stomach I realized how desperate I was for someone to talk to. I also realized that I had forgotten to explore away from the wall, and curiosity as well as fear welled up inside me. With slight hesitance I pushed myself forward, stepping into the unknown darkness.
However, I was stopped abruptly as I came in contact with many long, cold, cylindrical pillars. Shaking my head, I reached out and around the bars, able to fit my hand and most of my arm out but not my whole body. I took a step back and walked along the outskirts of the dark, reaching out so my hand felt along a solid row of strong, thick metal bars. I was trapped, in my own little corner of shadows.
And nothing happened for what seemed to be like an entire week.
Chapter 2: The Comfort
Intense hunger sliced through me. After about two days of simply remembering and pacing, I had curled in the corner to conserve warmth and energy. After about three days I felt like I was going to die from dehydration. The fact that the air was so damp was probably why I had lasted this long. By the fifth day I could barely breathe, and was shivering from starvation. I almost didn't notice when the bars of my rectangular prison clanged against each other as my cell was opened, quiet footsteps following soon after. Luckily I did notice, and glanced upwards almost immediately. As I expected, there was the Master, looking down at me with almost genuine sympathy. But somewhere deep down I knew he was enjoying my suffering.
I forgot all of the evil, insane things he had done to me and got up with an extreme effort, flinging myself forward to hug him desperately. It felt so good to feel something warm again, to have someone near me. Happiness filled me up to the point that I almost forgot my clawing hunger and thirst. I felt the Master flinch almost unnoticably as I wrapped my arms around him. He obviously had been expecting a much different reaction, and with good reasoning too. Not many brutally tortured captives would hug their attacker after leaving them in an isolated cell for days on end.
"Doctor." The sound startled me, and I remembered my situation. He sounded curt, like he was annoyed or angry with me. The Master pushed me away from him and part of me sank with sadness. He looked saddened too, but more than that he was disappointed. He gave a small sigh and a smile as he pulled a couple bananas from behind his back, handing them forward to me. I carefully took them, and surprisingly they seemed to be intact and healthy-looking. These sudden kindnesses felt all too good to be true; they were coming from the Master after all. Negativity overcame me again for a strange unexplainable reason. "Why didn't you just leave me to die?"
The Master smiled, tilting his head to the side. "If I left you to regenerate, I would've wasted countless decades of entertainment." It was an answer that I had expected. Even though I expected it, it still hurt that the Master only cared about my survival because my pain was his source of amusement. But as always, I continued to hold on to a spark of hope, somewhere deep inside me. Sighing, I sank to the floor and stared at the bananas. It felt wrong to be so distrusting of the Master, but I couldn't help it. He hadn't exactly earned my trust over the past week. A bit surprised, I watched the Master as he sat down next to me against the wall. He reached forward and pointed at the bananas. "You really should eat. Aren't you hungry?
The words sank into me like magic, and I unwrapped the banana as if I was hypnotized. The Master kind of had that effect on people. I took a bite, and it was the most wonderful thing I could remember tasting. After I had finished, the Master handed me a mug of water. I drank gratefully, but when I set the mug down, the Master was gone. He was nowhere in sight; simply vanished. He was good at that, too. At first I was afraid that he wouldn't come back; that he'd leave me alone for another week, maybe two, and return when I was on the brink of regeneration. I shuddered at the thought.
But he returned periodically, sometimes with a slight time difference. He didn't bring food every time, though. We talked, and it was hard to strike up a conversation at first. At least he hadn't left me to talk to myself. I talked about Gallifrey, and about our home. He liked to talk about me, and hinted at some of his plans. Eventually I got too curious, and started asking questions. "Master, weren't you... dead?" The question had been looming over me for quite some time now. The last time I had seen the Master, he had died in my arms. My eyes widened as a thought crossed my mind. Was I dead too? Was this what happened when a time lord died?
The Master chuckled, turning to look wistfully out into the darkness. "Yes. I'm almost certain that was what happened." He kept looking out into the distance, as if remembering past times. "At first everything was calm. Everything was dark and quiet; it was comforting for a while. But then I got restless, and I knew that this wasn't true death." He turned to look at me, and I saw the glint of his eyes in the dark. "Dead things don't get restless."
I opened my mouth to say something, but I couldn't remember what. The Master stood up and began to walk out, and I rose to my feet, reaching out to him. "Please, don't go!" I called, making him stop and turn to look at me. There was a long pause in which I could not think of anything to add. Silence chilled the empty space. Eventually the Master kept walking, closing the cell door behind him. It was only then that I remembered how to move; I ran to the bars and grappled them with shaky hands. Helplessly I watched him sink into the darkness, fully engulfed in black. The clang of the door faded away, and I was left in petrifying silence once again.
I swear he left me there on purpose. Maybe I shouldn't have shown how much I needed his company. With an inward sigh, I remembered; he probably thought this to be pleasurable. Over the long days ahead of me, I occupied myself by trying to scratch the stone floor. I used the handle of the choke-pear that was still in my cell, and it actually made a little dent after about an hour of digging. Once a few supposed days had passed, I had begun to worry. What if something had happened to him? More than anything, I wanted to be there by his side if nothing other than to help him when he needed it. Because no doubt, the Master needed help, with a lot of things. Some of which couldn't be fixed... although I tried my best not to think that negatively.
It was almost an entire week, once again, before anything happened. I was used to the starvation torture, so I went through it without complaint. I had curled on the floor and tried my best to catch some rest, even if it was uneasy. Surprisingly I sank into deep, refreshing sleep that I savored each moment of...
Moments that I knew would end all too soon.
I woke abruptly to complete darkness, some sort of fabric shielding my eyes. My knees were bent and cold from being in contact with the chilled floor. I felt warm breath on the back of my neck, and forced myself not to shiver. "Koschei, is that you?" I asked quietly, keeping my voice as level and calm as I could. A surprising, stinging blow hit me on the side of the head, knocking me off balance. Instinctively I pulled my hands up to my face, using the moment to try to untie my blind fold. This time, I wasn't going to put up with the Master's games. I ripped off the fabric, blinking a few times to readjust my eyes to the slightly less complete darkness. I turned and steadied myself on my elbow, leaning upwards to rise to my feet.
Suddenly an electrifying shock sliced through me, making my legs crumble and sending me crashing to the ground again. I looked around in surprise, my breath quick as I tried to figure out what had happened. A familiar face approached me through my confusion, grappling my collar and heaving me up off the floor. Forced to do so, I stared into the Master's face; a smile was plastered across it that was twisted and devilish. "Kosh, what's wrong?!" I exclaimed with overwhelming worry- I hadn't seen him act this insane in more than a month. I knew something bad was coming when the Master's smile turned into a maniacal grin at the mention of his name. With powerful arms he flung me backwards, letting go of my collar. Upon impact, I let out an involuntary shout of pain, the force of the throw sending me sliding across the stone. I breathed carefully, my body slowly curling inward on itself as I tried to forget how my entire back and shoulder were aching terribly. My head pounded as I tried desperately to gather my thoughts, which had been scattered by the sudden cascading waterfall of torture. Almost silent footsteps approached me, stopping a foot from my side.
"You want to know what's wrong, Doctor? The Master chuckled mockingly. "I'm terribly bored. So if you want to help me, you'll just have to not cooperate."
I looked up slowly from the arm covering my face, making eye contact with the Master and almost immediately wishing I didn't. His chestnut eyes were filled with fire, which I knew wasn't going to burn out any time soon.
His foot kicked out harshly, striking me in my stomach and forcing me to wince, my body almost folding in on itself from the point of impact. I looked up weakly at the Master's grin, still wincing from the pain starting to renew itself. "So... what happens if I do cooperate...?" There was a brief moment of silence before the Master replied.
"I'd advise you listen to my recommendations."
And he left it at that- and then saw it fit to proceed.
*next chapter on its way*
Chapter 3: The Abandonment
I must have gone unconscious, because I came awake some time later with aching muscles and bruises all along my body. There was no comforting wall at my back- only the cold, stone floor at my feet; which I was lying on in an awkward, bent position. The Master was nowhere to be seen; not a trace was left to even hint at him ever being present. With a quiet moan of pain, I slowly leaned up on my elbows, squinting as the careful movement sent shoots of pain up my sides. I glanced around, hoping my new vantage point would tell me whether the Master was near- but everything was dark, as always. The depths of the blackness seemed more frightening than ever; it yawned deeply into endless nothing on all sides.
I figured the Master would tire of watching me sit there, crippled. So I flopped back down on the ground, and waited.
It had to have been more than two hours before I felt well enough to move, and even then it still hurt to walk. The Master had been using that shock collar he had found earlier- rather the opposite of sparingly. Maybe that's why I went unconscious. As I heaved myself to my feet, I wondered if all of these blackouts would have negative long-term effects on me- but I quickly replaced the thought with more important ones. Like, why wasn't the Master reappearing, for a second round? It wasn't like him to quit just because I was knocked out from a 0.15 amp. electric shock. Considering a 0.2 amp. shock is fatal... I wasn't surprised that I went unconscious.
I was worried. If the Master was done with me, he would've thrown me back in my cell. There had to be some reason that I was left out in the open- it had never happened before. In fact, I was barely let out of my cell, as if the Master was afraid that I would figure something out about this place if I was granted the ability to explore. I felt a burning curiosity rise inside of me, but it was crippled by my weakness from the previous session of torture. Angry, I gritted my teeth and pushed myself up onto my knees. My whole body felt numb from the after effects of the electric shocks. Quickly I realized that the collar was still around my neck, but my disoriented fingers couldn't undo the latch. I looked around disdainfully, slumping forward with defeat. The Master had purposefully weakened me, that was for sure. He had left me out in the open to confuse me. And most importantly, he had latched the collar in such a way that it was almost impossible to remove. As I drew these conclusions together, I heard a sudden movement in the darkness.
My head snapped upwards, and I stared at the place where the sound had come from. It sounded familiar, but I couldn't pinpoint when or where I had heard it before- my thoughts were too jumbled. The sound slipped away until I only registered it in my subconscious. Frustrated and still disoriented, I pulled myself to my feet. Desperately I glanced around, making a face as if it would clear my vision somehow. The collar chafed uncomfortably on my neck as I stood; the fabric was thick and crudely stitched together. I let out a long, quiet sigh, like I was testing the sheer emptiness of it all. I could feel my hearts beating faster, and the small yet barely noticeable twinge of pain that accompanied my quickened pulse.
Something was calling me from the gloom. I felt it, tugging at my mind, begging for me to find it. There was a strong connection, hidden away. So I stepped forward, and stumbled blindly into the Deep Darkness.
It engulfed me in a welcoming sheet of freezing air.
For a while, that was all I felt. Cold, humid air, making my clothes damp. The call kept getting stronger, but it never seemed to get closer. There had been no sensation of touch other than my feet on the ground, until I finally collided with a wall. I hadn't realized how quickly I had been moving until the impact, which was most definitely painful. But I was just about to thank the wall, if nothing else than for reassuring me that I was in an enclosed space. And not an endless void. Because if it were an endless void, I would have kept walking until I died of starvation. Where had the Master gotten food from, anyway?
That was a question for another time, another place. If I ever did see a place other than this dark cavern-of-sorts.
I ran my hands along the wall, searching for nothing in particular. A ridge, a crevice? Something to tell me that this wall was somehow different from any of the others? I really didn't know what I was looking for...
Until I found it.
There was a small hole in the wall- it was perfectly round, and it had blunted edges that were incapable of inflicting injury. I stuck my hand through, and it fit just perfectly, like the opening was made for my arm. The tips of my fingers collided with a grated surface. I closed my eyes as I felt around, stopping when my hand found a button. Hesitantly, I pressed down on it.
A sound of rejection was loud and surprising in my ears. Whatever this was, seemed to be password protected. Still slightly shocked from the sudden noise, I pressed the button again- four times, in a familiar rhythmic pattern. It was the only logical action to take at the time. Of course, it was the only pattern I would consider, knowing that it seemed to be only me and the Master in this endless cavern. And, as I expected, there was no sound of rejection this time.
The fact that I still couldn't see much of anything was not very comforting. Apart from the fact that the collar, the cold air, and the humidity weren't exactly helping my comfort levels either. I turned and leaned against the wall, crouching halfway down and starting to work at the collar again. My strength was returning, and I was confident that I would be able to take it off this time. I stopped at the sound of metal sliding on rock. Faint blue and yellow light flooded towards me, as my eyes slowly adjusted to the new discovery.
My confidence melted away, swirled into the darkness, and was completely forgotten.
Because there stood my TARDIS. She was half torn apart, and I had not been present to fix her. Slowly, carefully, I walked closer, as if any misstep would shatter this dreamlike reality. I reached a gentle hand forward, and touched the handle. The metal seemed to lean back into me, begging for me to come back inside, to run away again. I swallowed and prepared for the worst as I leaned into the door, swinging it open. If the Master had kept my TARDIS in a locked vault, away from anywhere I would have traveled had I been allowed to roam freely, it meant that something was being hidden. If not hidden, then kept secret. If the TARDIS wasn't lost in the time vortex, then I wasn't dead. I was somewhere, and more importantly, sometime. This was very delightful news to me. But, what was left of the old time machine, wasn't.
The TARDIS had been wrecked because of that ordeal in the Time Vortex. I paused on the threshold, and my breath hitched at the sight of it. The console looked as if half of it had been charred from a fire, and the grated flooring had been torn up- it seemed extremely hazardous to walk on. The emergency lights were on, which I sighed in relief at the sight of. That meant that she was still alive- and that was most definitely good news.
With hesitant, saddened steps I picked my way across the ripped-up walkway. It sagged slightly under my weight, which almost made my hearts skip a beat at the thought of falling- and making a sound that might alert the Master of what I was doing. Just to be safe, I made a little leap over the wreckage once I was close enough to the console. Still stunned that the TARDIS had been with me the whole time, I gingerly reached forward to touch the controls.
An all-too-familiar electric shock shot up my arm from where I had touched the console, causing me to stumble backwards. It was then that I noticed a network of wires that had been spread across the floor, the console, and parts of the walls. The cords extended from the opened hatch that contained the heart of the TARDIS, which was now a golden orb of dim, pulsating light. I made a whispered sound of distress; I could not find the willpower to speak aloud, which I had become adjusted to not doing. It usually resulted in a bad reaction from the Master, unless conversation had been asked for directly. This had happened before- the Master tampering with the TARDIS. I didn't know which was worse- what he was doing to her now, or what he had done to her then. But I could tell she was in pain; constant torture. Like I had been.
For a few seconds it dawned on me how cruel the Master really was, and I felt like a bloody idiot for ignoring this fact. But there I went, reminding myself that the Master's cruelty "wasn't his fault", yet again. He never really seemed to cross the line, no matter how awful he acted.
The TARDIS had been rigged up to repel me. Every time I neared the console, a sort of static filled my mind, broadcasted by the TARDIS' telepathic field. And of course, she electrocuted me when I dared to touch any of the controls. It seemed that I was incapable of repairing the damage, as well as incapable of using the TARDIS to escape this dark chasm. Apparently, my sudden surge of hope had been in vain. Frustrated and unwilling to accept defeat, I found a corner of the TARDIS and sat in it. I sensed that she didn't really want to repel me. This was only happening because the Master had rewired the TARDIS' main source of power to act against her will.
The thought of it gave me a twinge of sadness. Both me and the TARDIS were stuck here, and in similar situations.
The Master had been using us.
*finished* a Chapter 4 is planned
Chapter 4: The Trouble
(...with tribbles ^-^)
Author's note: (...with tribbles ^-^)
I had wandered the infinite hallways of the TARDIS for longer than I could remember. Struck with painful hunger, I made my way to a kitchen, scavenging for food. I settled for a bit of stale bread, which I had discovered in a locked cabinet. It was gone quickly, and I set out of the kitchen to continue the pointless search.
The hallway in front of me stretched onward for farther than I could see. The end of it was engulfed in daunting blackness, in much too close resemblance of the blackness I had been imprisoned in for so long. I let out a quiet, weary sigh and paused in my stride. For a moment I stared out at the darkness, wondering if I should continue my pointless journey. I sunk to the floor in defeat, with hunger still a crawling sensation in the corner of my subconscious that refused to leave me in peace.
For a while I sat there, almost on the brink of tears. There was nowhere to go; nothing to do- and the Master was still missing. I began to feel as pointless as my wandering, what with me sitting in a half-dead TARDIS and having nothing to do. This whole situation was complete and utter rubbish; it frustrated me terribly. My face screwed up in rage and I was just about to pound my fists on the TARDIS floor when once again I was interrupted by a familiar scuffling sound. It was quiet; barely noticeable compared to the sheer volume of my contorting thoughts. My anger was forgotten and replaced by overwhelming desperation. The sound had been following me for months, coming back to my ears every now and again yet never staying long enough for me to find out where it was coming from. But this time I had another clue- this time, I knew it wasn't the Master. And this time... I had nothing to hold me back.
I came to my feet as quickly as I could, stumbling slightly, but keeping my focus. The sound came to me again, and I followed it, soon after breaking into a run. It was getting closer, and with the distance shortening between me and the sound, my excitement rose. Whatever this was had to be alive. If nothing else an artificial intelligence. But intelligence meant a possible friend; something I could communicate with. I wouldn't be alone anymore- and that's what mattered.
(adding more shortly!)