Doctor Who: Panic Moon Ch. 17byKurokami©
Author's Note: This is a sequel series to Amy, Captured. To get the full experience, please read that one first.
Hey everyone, how's it going. Real quick today, just thanking my team of supporters here: Isabel, D, Allyourbase, and LogicalDreamer. All awesome people! Oh, and you might be wondering about the apparently sudden timeskip forward here. What's going on? Check my profile, that's all I'll say on the matter. Please vote or comment if you enjoyed it, thanks everyone!
Mara pushed him into the room. He wished she hadn't. It made it look as though he had been pressured into coming here which... was true, strictly speaking. But in real terms, he wouldn't have needed the pressure of her hands on his back. He would have come anyway. He would've run.
Kanaria caught sight of him, waved weakly to Mara as she swanned away at top speed, and smiled. Tsugi's heart practically stopped in his chest. Entirely worth it.
Though if Mara hadn't been there to push him along, Tsugi might have taken a moment to think of something to say before he opened the door. He'd never been the most suave individual under ideal conditions, but what the hell was he supposed to say now? He was pretty sure very few people got into situations like these; what exactly did one say to the woman you had watched bleed out on the floor? What words wouldn't ring false, as hollow platitudes?
She deserved more than that.
She might have been the one without a voice, but Tsugi was the one unable to speak.
'You're okay...' Her new voice trembled as she spoke, and the words were tiny, silvery shadows that hung in the air, barely perceptible. Wisps of sound, nothing more, and yet they hit Tsugi harder than he would like to admit. His mouth was dry, and his heart skipped a beat every time his eyes grazed the thick wadding of bandages wrapped around her throat.
And where had he been when that had happened to her? Passed out on the floor.
'I'm okay?' He swallowed, tried to speak evenly. Failed. He hadn't cried in years, but right now his eyes prickled dangerously, 'You got it worse than me, kiddo. All I got was a headache, in the end.'
Kanaria smiled, and as the moonlight- planetlight, Tsugi reminded himself- shone on her face, she'd never looked more beautiful. It was something fragile, vulnerable and, yes... Worth protecting. He wished he could have taken her place, facing down that maniac in the hallway. There was no possible way Kanaria Syfte could deserve the pain she had been given.
Tsugi's eyes were drawn inexorably downward as she pointed to her throat, shaking her head with a silent giggle, 'Sore throat.'
He heard himself laughing. But it didn't feel like something he was consciously doing; he was far too busy watching the mirth in her. Her shoulders rose and fell, the silent absence of her laughter more than the equal of the delicate, pretty sound it replaced. Her joy was visual now, and he found himself watching it so closely. He reminded himself just how close she had gotten to never laughing again.
Tsugi tried his hardest not to imagine how she must have looked at the moment that cruel knife had cut into her neck; that hopeless, endless second filled with agony. Her eyes, welling with tears, hands clawing at that monster's arm... What must she have been thinking about. How alone must she have felt...
Useless! Useless fucking Tsugi! Again!
He watched her, committing every detail of her silent laughter to memory, so closely that he almost missed the tears falling from her shining blue eyes.
'Oh, no!' True, deep concern threaded his voice, and he rushed to her side so fast it must have spoken volumes about how he thought about her. He took her hand, almost smiling despite himself at the wonderful, reassuring warmth to be found there, 'Don't do that, please... Kanaria... I've got no idea how to deal with crying women.'
Her mouth, all soft and supple curves in the twilight, curved into a smile, despite her tears. Through her tears, as they fell in wet lines down her cheeks, pooling in her lap. Tsugi was forced to bend almost double as she threw her arms around him, pulling him close enough that he could feel her heart beating in her chest.
Alright, oh useless one. I'll do you a favor and we'll not be thinking about breasts for a moment, okay?
'You're alright...' She sniffled, and he resisted a powerful urge to say something back. Even if the words had come to him then, her proximity had almost certainly rendered him unable to properly say them without sounding like a mentally deficient person, 'I thought he would kill you next...'
'Hey, try not to talk. Doctor's orders,' He smiled. 'Honestly, it's almost as bad as crying, right now.'
'It was all I could think about, Tsugi,' Her voice had a coolness to it that hadn't been there before, almost an audible metallic sheen. But it was cracking, as she forced herself to continue speaking, 'I wou-'
'Hey, stop it,' He tried to sound gentle, and was so afraid of the possibility of failure. 'You'll hurt yourself.' She was still so close, still clinging to him... It was a wonder he could speak at all.
'I need to say it,' She pressed on, losing volume with every syllable. Her voice was dwindling away right in front of him, 'It was worse than what... that man did to me, seeing you-'
Okay, you heard it too. Screw it.
She stopped talking. Tsugi stopped thinking. Probably, so did Kanaria. They were so close together, for a moment, they even breathed as one. One of his hands was at the small of her back. The other rested on her thigh through the thick blanket that covered her. He heard her swallow nervously.
He kissed her under countless shimmering stars, in her hospital bed, on a moon with only eleven people on it. But in that singular moment, there was only the two of them.
'So, like... her name is Lorna Bucket?' Ren tilted her head to one side eyeing the newcomer in all her camouflage-printed glory. 'That's... not a name that people have.'
'It's the name that she has,' Mara pointed out.
'She is sitting right here...' Lorna said, sitting back as far as possible from the strange group of people who had ended up crowding her cell. Mostly, it was the man she had thrown back in that strange machine that worried her, and the way he kept scowling at her. The blonde woman with the bouncy step was also problematic, in that her gaze was far too transparent in its desires to be entirely healthy. And, of course, Ren, who... Well...
Never get locked in a room with a person you've only recently punched in the face. It never ends well.
'So, what happens now?' Sander, predictably, scowled.
'Is that even a question you have to ask, at this point?' Ren deadpanned. 'I mean, didn't you invent this stuff, anyway? I have some interesting ideas, even if you don't.'
For the first time, Lorna realized just how adrift in a world full of enemies she was; she was locked in a room with two people she had only recently attacked- with varying degrees of success- and a woman clearly well liked by both of them. She got the feeling that the Collar was the least of her worries.
'Yes, I think we've all had those ideas,' Sander rolled his eyes. 'But frankly, I'd like to get a little background before we make her less than inclined to talk to us. Lorna, exactly how dead was I, in your time?'
The Gamma native frowned at the implications there, but spoke up, not wanting to antagonize these people further, 'The archives all say you've been dead for thirty years, though rumors persist that you didn't actually die in the first place. So glad to see those were true,' She hadn't meant to, but she slipped it in anyway.
'Heh, I'd be in my fifties, by that point,' He didn't smile. Rather, he turned away, rubbing absently at his shoulder. 'Because no, I didn't die. I'm like a roadrunner, I'm very hard to properly kill.'
'I'm still not really getting what all this has to do with me,' Lorna said flatly.
'Oh, well, let me explain th-' Mara stopped, blinked, ran her hand through her hair. She frowned, 'Hey Sander? Is it just me, or did we pick up the two girls least connected to the Doctor all in one go?'
'Huh, never thought of that before...' Ren frowned too.
'I did,' Sander shrugged. 'But then, I also don't really care, because a win is a win. What I care about is how this is affecting my machine, since it could, y'know, tear a hole in spacetime. That needs fixing. So, can we get this show on the road so I can go... do that?'
'Alright, yeah,' Mara giggled. 'Lorna dear, be a good girl and take off your clothes. Don't make me use the Collar!'
The soldier jumped to her feet, eyes locked to Mara's. Her gaze shifted, alighting on Sander and Ren in turn, before she rolled her eyes in exasperation. Her hips swayed slightly as she threaded her thumbs into the waistband of her pants, allowing them to slide down well muscled thighs and onto the floor. She sighed, preparing to do the same with her shirt as her observers watched in with varying degrees of surprise.
Stripped completely, Lorna stood expectantly, mousy brown hair falling loosely down her back once freed from her cap. Mara pouted; not a trace of embarrassment registered on Lorna's face. The crew stood in vaguely disappointed silence for a moment, their perverse gazes still drawn down the naked woman's generous curves appreciatively. Seemingly tired of the quiet viewing party these three were having, she spoke up.
'As you can see, no weapons, nothing hidden, nothing at all,' Obligingly, the Gamma native turned on the spot, affording the crew a three-hundred sixty degree view of her body. 'Clean. Unless it was a quarantine scan you were thinking of, but I haven't been anywhere but the Clergy barracks on Demon's Run, I promise. That place might be... distasteful, but it's not exactly contagious.'
Mara, pouting in a cartoonish display of sadness, tugged at Sander's sleeve, 'Sander... why isn't she doing the thing? The blushing thing? I like it when they blush. What's wrong with her?'
'Wrong with me?' Lorna said archly. 'What?'
'She's a Gamma kid,' Ren sighed. 'Bein' in the buff doesn't mean shit to her.'
'Really now?' Sander said. He hadn't met anyone from the Gamma forests before, though he had the same inbuilt, uneasy sense of curiosity that most people from the nominally "normal" planets had. Gamma had always been a sort of untamed, wild place when viewed from the outside, although he'd been led to believe from people who had visited the forests there that it wasn't nearly as exciting as the facts that everyone knew made it out to be: Gamma was heaven-neutral, the people were just a little odd and, yes, they would walk around naked like it was nothing. Tree huggers, they were. Communed with nature , which was always said as though it was somehow unnatural to do so.
Well, those were the preconceptions folk talked about in polite company. There were the other things, too...
'Hey,' Mara began slowly, looking over Lorna's increasingly confused face. 'If she's a Gamma girl, does that mean she's never... Y'know... Hey Lorna, have you...?'
'She's asking if you've been a good girl,' Ren cut in, grinning.
'Yeah, exactly,' Mara nodded. 'Have you done as all good little foresters should and saved yourself?'
Lorna blinked, 'Yes, of course. Completely.'
Immediately, Mara's face lit up with the kind of dark glee Sander hadn't seen in quite a while. She made a little squeaking noise in the back of her throat, apparently finding this last piece of news one of the best things ever. She bounced on the soles of her feet, gesturing excitedly to her sister and her boyfriend before leaping to Sander's side, grabbing him by the shirt.
'Oh, please can I keep her!' She squealed, giving him her most winning smile. 'Please, please, please!'
Sander couldn't help but grin, such was the infectious nature of Mara's enthusiasm. He could see where she was coming from; the Gamma folk had a very specific idea of what saving oneself meant, so a strict practitioner of their particular brand of semi-religion was quite a find. It'd be an entirely new kind of discovery, and he was loathe to give it up, but Mara was the one person alive he would walk through fire for. If she wanted her that badly...
'You can have her,' He began, tousling her hair fondly. 'But you have to share eventually. Don't be too greedy, okay? Leave some for the rest of us.'
'Ooh, thank you, thank you!' She whooped, throwing herself into his arms. She gave him a wry little smile, 'I love you, Sander...'
'I love you too, but don't push it, okay?' He leaned in to kiss her. 'Have fun.'
'Aw, what?' Ren grumbled as Sander turned and attempted to usher her out of the room. 'I don't get to stick around?'
'This is Mara's game,' Sander shrugged as the cell door closed and locked behind them. 'She'll let us know when she's ready to play multiplayer, Ren. Give her some time, she deserves a little fun too.'
'Yeah, whatever...' Ren growled, shooting him a scowl that contained just a little too much venom. She walked away, and Sander found himself leaning back against the door with an odd expression.
If it had just been Ren's moods swinging that wildly, he wouldn't have minded as much. Getting Ren in a good mood was as much about luck as it was anything else. But it wasn't just her; he could see it in the others, too. Only an inkling, a vague- but very real- sense of distrust and anxiety.
Three years of safety and comfort, and all it took was one bad day. Just one madman with a posse and an axe to grind, and suddenly home was no longer safe. Suddenly, all those familiar corners became alien, the little creaks of the roof settling gestured at dangerous outcomes. The untouchable crew had been reminded of their vulnerability, and there was no going back to the way things were.
There was a lesson to be learned here, about preparation and taking the current state of affairs for granted. But it could hardly be applied with his friends jumping at shadows, with tensions constantly increasing. They were hurting, and it was only a matter of time before the pressure built too high, and then what happens?
'We could all do with a bit of fun...' Sander sighed, closing his eyes. Who would've thought the first threat to the stability of his crew wouldn't be millennia old Romans or Time Lords, but an asshole like Walker?
'Ah, fuck this...'
'So,' Mara said brightly, now alone with the newcomer, smiling like a child with a new toy. 'Lorna Bucket...'
Lorna frowned, but didn't bother to make a move. With the Command Collar around her neck, anything she did do would undoubtedly be reversed if the woman in front of her ended up disliking it. So she stood in place, pale skin gleaming in the artificial light.
She had left the forests because she had found them terribly boring, but standing here naked, she had to admit that her home planet did have one thing she missed; there weren't so many opportunities to be bare skinned in the marines. She would have preferred the open air, with the heavy scent of earth and life all around her, but even in an enclosed space she could derive some comfort from the feeling of air, unrestricted, on her skin. There was such a lovely freedom to this that the Clergy's uniforms could never match.
But of course, she couldn't fully enjoy this in her current predicament. She was no stranger to the way Mara was looking at her, but other than that Lorna couldn't help but feel she'd gotten quite the wrong end of the stick, here.
'I feel like I've gotten a bit lost, here,' She said tentatively, as Mara edged closer. 'Why is it that I'm here? You don't want me to fight?'
'Your not fighting is kind of the problem,' Mara pouted. 'If you're properly a Gamma girl, then I'm going to have to do some work on you... You're really a virgin?' Her eyes gleamed with enthusiasm, especially when it became clear the question made Lorna uncomfortable.
'I am,' She said. 'It's only proper. I've not been married, after all.'
She'd been bored enough at home to leave the forests completely, but some things died hard. Lorna knew that men found her attractive; even in the forests she had felt their gazes upon her, though that kind of thing had certainly increased- and become more overt- when she had gotten offworld. At least the men of her home could be relied upon to contain themselves, and limit themselves to their wives. At eighteen, she herself had been too young to wed when she had decided to leave, and her years with the Church had left her little opportunity to find a mate outside the forests.
Oh, she had been propositioned for something less... long term, on many an occasion, but she had always turned them down. It would have felt wrong; man or woman, it wouldn't have really mattered to her, so long as she could do it right, and wed them first. Sex was for married couples, and although that definition was limiting, it was what she had been brought up to believe. It wasn't going anywhere now.
Lorna watched as Mara mulled the concept over, and found it satisfying. Still, there was curiosity in her eyes, a look that Lorna was not unfamiliar with; the minute people found out that she was a Gamma girl, she got the questions. Mostly it was about the nudity thing, and Lorna still found their shame at their own bodies just as strange as they found her lack of same. But sometimes, generally when her questioners had been drinking, and their inhibitions were down, she would get asked about the other thing...
'Tell me about the Maiden's Water,' Mara's quicksilver eyes gleamed at the prospect. Yes, that was it. The Maiden's Water: everyone knew the name, but very few knew what it actually meant. Or at least, they wanted to hear it from her personally. The world outside the forests was far more sexually promiscuous than Lorna had expected, and she could see why the concept of the Water would be so odd to outsiders, but to her it was a deeply held belief. The first few times she had been asked about it, she had only been able to articulate it by quoting scripture; it was so deeply ingrained, it was like having to explain away an arm.
'The Maiden's Water,' She began, voice taking on a breathy, profound tone. 'part of the Forest Water, the River that connects all life that dwells within the forest. That which is inside us all, but that which spills from woman, when she is cleaved to her wedded partner. To do so otherwise is sin, promiscuity and disrespectful to nature. It is wasteful, and I can't imagine why so many of you outside of the forests are fine with committing such an act, for a few moments of fleeting pleasure.'
Not that she would know...
Honestly, she never meant to proselytize like this, but the lessons, the teachings of the Gamma forests, had been so ingrained in her psyche. It was hard to talk about them without at least a little judgment. Though Mara certainly didn't seem to appreciate it.
'I'd always sort of hoped that term was a metaphor for something else,' The blonde seemed deeply disturbed by this news. 'But you guys mean it literally?'
'We do,' Lorna frowned.
Mara closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose between two fingers. She was having real trouble properly processing this information, 'And you're telling me you've never spilt your Maiden's Water?' Her voice actually shook with excitement as she asked. 'You've never... cum?'
To her delight, this made Lorna blush and look away, her fingers threading together seemingly unbidden, hiding her crotch from Mara's view. It seemed an automatic response to this line of questioning, and Mara wondered how many men, tempted beyond reason by the sight of this woman walking naked around the forest, had asked a similar question, and gotten this endearingly modest gesture in response. It was the first time Lorna had viewed her nudity as anything other than merely the state of not wearing clothes.