elisi: (Stepping Sideways)
[personal profile] elisi
Summary: How do you save people that don't want to be saved?

For notes etc, please see The Prologue, or just follow the tags.

Note: Gallifreyan will be indicated by the use of « and » any other language uses "". It seemed the simplest solution.

(Again, lots of thanks to luckweaver)


SherwoodBanner1


Chapter 7

Evening

The Seeker had been working late, as there were currently seven different versions of the main legal document - the final version still far off and dependant on the eventual outcome of the discussions - when there was a knock on the door to the control room.

Sighing, and wondering if he should quite simply lock the humans in their rooms all night, he asked whoever it was to enter.

The door opened, and then softly closed, but the person didn’t speak. Eventually he glanced up, hand pausing over the pad he was using.

It was a young woman, dressed in something which exposed not only her arms, but also legs and shoulders, and she was smiling. Evenings were cold, even within the old spaceships, and she had to be freezing. The oddness of her smile was so striking that for a moment he could only stare.

“What do you want?” he eventually asked, and her smile deepened as she walked across the floor towards him, eyelashes fluttering.

“The question is - what do you want? You seem… so lonely at night,” she replied, voice like honey, and it slowly dawned on him that she had been sent to seduce him. The clothing was silken, alluring (where had it come from? It had to be old and carefully preserved). Her hair was carefully arranged, her face made up, her feet bare.

For long seconds he merely watched her, incredulous. Were there no depths these people wouldn’t sink to? He could see the tiny tremor in the corner of her mouth, the carefully hidden chill that was more than just the cold; beneath the allure, she was frightened.

He closed his eyes, biting back the fury. She was merely a tool for them, and deserved his pity, not his fury.

“Go,” he said, as gently as he could, then adding, as he saw the rising panic in her eyes: “Let’s say you’re… not my type.”

He hoped that would settle the matter - she was objectively the most attractive creature he had seen so far, and surely rejecting her would mean they’d get the message?

Instead she stepped closer, a knowing look in her eyes:

“I have a brother,” she breathed as she leaned in, conspiratorial. “Only fifteen, even prettier than me…”

At her words, his patience finally snapped.

He could almost feel it, like an elastic band finally stretched beyond endurance.

One month, only one month, and he’d reached the end of his tether. But this was it, he’d had enough, no question about it.

Abruptly capturing her wrist in a vice-like grip, he spoke slowly and deliberately, his anger tightly coiled and focussed like a laser.

“You listen to me very very carefully, and you take this message back to those who sent you: If they think that prostituting children is something could sway me to their side or in any way incur my favour, they have very seriously misjudged what kind of man I am.”

Letting go of her before he did any damage, physical or otherwise, he stepped back, unbidden memories crowding his head.

(His father pinning his mother to the wall; Allison stepping away from him, terrified; Josh and Jamie at his feet, adoring…)

“When I said you are not my type, I meant humans. You are much, much too breakable.”

The implicit warning was more than understood as she turned pale, then fled.

Taking a deep breath, he sank back into the chair, eyes drifting past the legal documents he was working on and out through the windows. The dark skies above the planet were filled with stars, and he wanted nothing more than to just leave.

Well, he wanted to get thoroughly, completely drunk, and then leave.

He’d looked for a challenge? This wasn’t a challenge, it was a nightmare. How was he supposed to help people he despised?

Altruism was clearly a fool’s errand in his case. Too much of his father in him, maybe.

It should probably worry him, but right now he was still too angry.

Instead he sealed the knowledge away for future reference. He’d have to re-consider his approach to Empire. What the hell had this TARDIS thought, bringing him here?

‘Goddess’ Caan had said. It’d take more than a dozen goddesses to fix this mess, that was for sure.

(It was like the Matrix all over again. Somewhere, somehow, he’d made an error. A very serious error, but how? Where? How could he fix it, if he didn’t know what part was wrong? Unless it was just the humans, being… human.)

Right now, however, something seriously alcoholic and then sleep. Tomorrow he’d need a long chat with Roda. Something had to give, and it’d probably be him. It stung his pride, but he was going to have to admit defeat.

Although - where did she go at night? Would it be worth tracking her down now? He paused. That might not be fair though, letting her bear the brunt of his ire… Even if it’d come with an apology.

In any case, Whiskey first.



~~~


Night

Whenever Roda needed to settle her thoughts, she returned to Sherwood Forest.

Of course, though it felt a lot like coming home, it wasn’t as though she could show her face amongst Robin Hood and his men. As far as they were concerned, the Redjay they had known and, she hoped, loved as much as she still loved them had died years ago. But that didn’t stop her from visiting old haunts and familiar places, spots amongst the trees where she could simply turn her mind off and think. She could be home, but much like Gallifrey, she could not be there. Today, she had broken that simple rule.

The whole mess with the Seeker and the Crinitus and the refugees had unnerved her in ways that over a month of hiding out and watching hadn’t done. She had snuck away not long after heading to bed, making the excuse to herself that she was a Time Lord; she could be back before anybody had even noticed she was gone. She had wondered how Robin, and Will Scarlet, and Allan a Dale, and all of the others would react not only to the fact that she was alive but that her face had changed, but they had welcomed her into the glen with open arms and laughter and… everything, to her, that the Seeker’s earthly comforts were to him. She had a bow in her hand, Allan’s arm around her waist, and a pint of ale on a tree stump beside her and for a moment, nothing felt wrong with the world.

They had taken the invaders to their forest in their stride. “T’is nothing but another of the sheriff's attempts to infiltrate our merry band!”, Robin had insisted, and he was right that they had always evaded his patrols before and would continue to do so again. But disaster had followed her across time and space.

The first screams had been Will’s, an ugly, hearts-stopping noise that ended as quickly as it had begun. Wondering if perhaps the sheriff's men had come better armed than usual Roda had sprinted towards his voice, an arrow held between two fingers and ready to notch at a moment’s notice, but she reached the body too late. It wasn’t Will’s, but a man, barely a teenager, rage all over his features and his clothes unlike any she had seen in Sherwood before. Standing over him, numb with shock and confusion, she had almost missed another cry, and then another, more familiar voice that stabbed at hearts and turned them to ice. Allan, his musical voice strangled with pain and he shouted out her name. She had tripped over roots and stones, cutting her feet in her haste to meet him, but when she finally found where his call had come from… it was the Seeker’s body painting the foliage red, his eyes open even as his life bled from him.

“But…” she pressed her hands to the ugly wound in his chest - no weapon from the twelfth century could do something like this? “You can’t be here. Why did you follow me?” But her thoughts were interrupted again.

“Lady Redjay…” Swivelling around her eyes settled on the little girl - Aisha? - she had met the day before. How could the Seeker have been so careless? “What will happen to us?”

“Run!” she swung her arm back into the dark of the forest, “it’s not safe here!”

Before Roda could act again a streak of light, sparking with fractured electricity, thudded into the tree beside them. She fell to her knees, shielding the child’s body with her own, trying frantically to understand how somebody had brought that weapon to Sherwood forest. She would know one anywhere… the Time Lords had distributed them in the last days of the war, futilely trying to equip the universe for the end of existence. What was it doing here…? Glaring up at the monster who had attacked her forest, people she had sworn to protect all of her lives and in the last few months. Something about the Shadow Proclamation was already on her lips - how could she have come so far to escape this madness, only to run back into its arms in her one safe place.

{ Thieves. Child killers. Killed us. Chased us here. Stole our home. }

Surprise choked her words out of her as their attacker discharged its weapon into the bushes and then loomed over them. Still speaking in its language, half telepathically inside her troubled mind, the Crinitus clicked and chirruped with anger as it tried to understand the superior technology it held.

{ Seek revenge. Kill. }

“I’m sorry!” the Time Lady shouted, exhausted, angry, on the brink of frustrated tears. War, war, war, everything was war. “You shouldn’t be here! I should have stopped them!”

As the world began to spin, blurring into Lincoln green and yellow sun and dark grey clouds and blood red, a hundred voices echoed through her mind, the pain and anger of Crinitus and humans alike threatening to overwhelm her.

“Our blood will be on your hands, Time Lady. You have brought ruin upon us.”

She awoke with a start, panting and sweat-soaked, with the horrifying realisation that it might have been a nightmare… but it was all too real. It had been a month, and the mental exhaustion was beginning to get to her.

The Seeker kept assuring her, during their daily meetings, that everything was on track. His plan was in motion, and the Shadow Proclamation was satisfied. And yet the low-level anger was not just palpable but growing wherever she went. The humans and the Crinitus weren’t satisfied, and neither was she.

She’d talk to him in the morning. And he would have to change.



~~~


Morning

Roda was standing by the big windows in what had been the control room, absently tapping a foot, before turning to face him as the Seeker stepped out of his TARDIS.

He could see that the issues that had been brewing had finally reached some sort of tipping point for her also.

Sinking into what had been the Captain’s chair he looked up at her, willing himself into extending his listening mode. He could do this. There was a hangover lurking somewhere at the back of his skull, but he forced it back.

The anger from last night was more difficult to banish, but he tried his best not to let it colour his words.

«Go on, spit it out. What’s bothering you? Me, I’m guessing. As usual. And what I do.»

«It’s not working,» she said bluntly.

«No,» he agreed, which seemed to take her by surprise. «But I’ll be damned if I know what to do about it.»

She shot him her best frustrated look:

«Look, have you actually tried talking to any of them?»

«The humans?” he asked, fighting to keep the distaste out his voice, last night’s encounter still much too fresh in his mind. “I’ve tried to ascertain what they want, as best I can-»

«But have you talked to them? Any of them? Personally?» she interrupted.

«I’m not here to be their friend,» he snapped, defensively. «I’m reorganising their whole society and trying to find a way for them to peacefully co-exist with the species they turned into slaves. I’ve told them that if anyone wants to leave, I’ll make sure they are safely resettled in a human society elsewhere. So far there have been no takers.»

Wrapping her arms around herself, Roda shook her head.

«That’s not what I mean. I hate what they did, but you can’t – can’t discount their viewpoint. And you can’t just lump them all in one group.»

«Sure I can.»

«But it’s not working!» she repeated, and he threw his hands in the air.

«You think I’m not aware of that? Last night-»

He stopped. Something was wrong. Roda looked like she wanted to say something, but he held up a hand as he tried to work out what it was.

It took a little while, but then he realised – he couldn’t sense the Toclafane. The possible implications of this were still sinking in when the door burst open and dozens of lethal weapons were aimed at them.

Clearly the humans were now opting for ‘Plan B’ after last night’s fiasco.

«Seems like the time for talking is over,» he said dryly, as he saw Roda reach for her sonic.




Chapter 8

(no subject)

Date: 24 August 2017 10:08 pm (UTC)
enevarim: (hourglass)
From: [personal profile] enevarim
One month, only one month, and he’d reached the end of his tether.
– “And if I did go the whole way, I would just end up murdering my cabinet like dad did. Probably not on the first day, but I’d get there. Please - don’t ever suggest that again.”

Letting go of her before he did any damage, physical or otherwise
– Yes, that’s clearly what he thinks, and what he’s trying to do. Probably not accurate from her point of view.

And, oh, the montage paragraph. Yes, I just went back and re-read chapter 23. Obviously. (“Just ask. It’ll be fine, he’ll laugh it off and tell you you’re being paranoid…” … “Can you take me home now please?” she asked carefully, not hearing much over the oddly loud beating of her heart, and he nodded silently, face like a mask.)

Altruism was clearly a fool’s errand in his case. Too much of his father in him, maybe.

It should probably worry him, but right now he was still too angry.

– He’ll remember it later. Poor lad.

What the hell had this TARDIS thought, bringing him here?
– “No, but I always took you where you needed to go.” He needed to learn this. Or, perhaps, re-learn this: he already understood it back in Dating chapter 13. It hurts like hell, but, as the other poem says, “What would that matter, if it made a good book?”

How could he fix it, if he didn’t know what part was wrong? Unless it was just the humans, being… human.
- As someone who is an engineer instead of a dancer, in a world that needs people to be more instinctive dancers, not more thorough engineers, I have a lot of sympathy for the first part of this sentiment.

Tomorrow he’d need a long chat with Roda. Something had to give, and it’d probably be him. It stung his pride, but he was going to have to admit defeat.
– He is so completely not stupid. Not wise yet either, but you can see him getting there.

Okay, didn’t really follow the Sherwood section, but it was certainly vivid. And obviously the Time Lords would distribute stupidly powerful weapons before what they were afraid might be their final departure. Like dynamiting bridges behind the retreating army...

«But have you talked to them? Any of them? Personally?» she interrupted.

«I’m not here to be their friend,»

– both valid points…

I’m reorganising their whole society and trying to find a way for them to peacefully co-exist with the species they turned into slaves.
– Has this ever worked, in human history, on this short a time scale? I see that apartheid in South Africa was officially 1948-91, so the answer is technically yes. But throughout this story I keep thinking of Jefferson, who has the elevated lines about “eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man”, and you think, brilliant, he thinks slavery is bad, though it didn’t stop him keeping slaves, and then you read further and find that while he thought the Blacks shouldn’t be slaves, but should be freed, he also thought that they should then be deported so that they didn’t have to co-exist in the same space, because that would be too hard. I still don’t get why the Seeker didn’t just take the humans away shortly after he arrived. Aside from the fact that he wanted to run the experiment. As Joan said to Ten: “Answer me this. Just one question, that's all. If the Doctor had never visited us, if he'd never chosen this place on a whim, would anybody here have died? (no answer) You can go.” And yes, the Seeker is doing this to learn, and figure out how to do it better, and he will eventually get better at it, and his father would doubtless point out that he is a Time Lord and he has that right, I’m not sure that the rest of the universe agrees with that assessment.

Hmm. No idea how the humans could knock out the Toclafane, but no, this doesn’t look good, does it?

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