Doctor Who: Panic Moon Ch. 27byKurokami©
Author's Note: This is a sequel series to Amy, Captured. To get the full experience, please read through that one first.
Hey guys, no big announcements or anything this time, except to answer a question I've been getting a lot lately: yes, you will be seeing Clara in this series. It'll be fun, I promise. Other than that, enjoy! Votes, feedback and comments, no matter the kind, are entirely welcomed, so let me know what you think.
Amy dreamed odd dreams under the influence of the interfacers.
She dreamed of being naked, surrounded by indistinct, almost impersonal watchers, surrounding her in a ring. Their gazes rained down upon her, their voices reaching through her like licking tongues of pure sound, the sensation switching from pleasure to pain rapidly, at random. She was lower than her audience, kneeling or writhing on the floor, the two feelings becoming indistinct, blurring together into a symphony of light and shadow, bringing her closer and closer to a very familiar edge.
Her collar was tight around her neck, and here it was a fact as well as a physical object; it was a symbol of her submission, her possession by another. And that other was between her legs, spreading them, face enshrouded in shadow before he looked up to capture her gaze.
Of course, it was Sander...
'Come on now, wake up! Don't make me leave you behind!' The voice hissed, syllables cracking indignantly in the air, mercifully ripping Amy from her dream and into the waking world. Her eyes flew open, beholding Christina, leaning over her and illuminated only by the low light of the streetlamps outside.
'Ah, there you are,' She continued. 'Care to go for a little jaunt outside, Amy?'
From behind her back Christina withdrew a palm-sized white card emblazoned with the emblem of Nirvana, waving it before Amy's eyes. The brunette winked gleefully, before motioning behind her; Sally and Lorna were standing by the door, posture defensive yet clearly excited.
'Is that...?' Amy was still half asleep, but rising fast into consciousness as the implications of this sunk in.
'Don't ever fall asleep in front of a cat burglar, Miss Pond,' Christina sighed smugly. 'Especially one as skilled as I. You can thank me once we're clear, but you are coming, yes?'
'Hell yes I'm coming!' Amy nodded furiously, leaping to her feet just a little faster than the rest of her was ready for. Of course she was coming; her husband was out there somewhere, undoubtedly looking for her. This was her time to do something, take back the power... to stop waiting, for once.
Of course, the last time this had happened she had accidentally almost killed herself, not to mention Sander and Mara... but this would be different. There were more people on her side, for one.
Sally gave her a wide, glittering smile as she joined them by the door, as if everything had fallen into place all at once. Amy found that she was doing the exact same thing. It wasn't just the promise of freedom, but the fact that it was freedom of her own making; she would step outside this door and find the Doctor on her own power.
... Granted, Christina had nabbed the key, but at least they were no longer waiting to be rescued!
There was a moment of unbearable tension as Christina swiped the card across the reader, waiting for the door to slide open; a single sound may give the game away, wake one of the crew and bring them all tumbling back into captivity and, inevitably, punishment. Amy knew firsthand the cruel inventiveness of these people; she wondered just how bad it would be for newcomers like Sally and Lorna.
Thankfully, the door opened with only the slightest of mechanical noises, and though they all held her breath and waited for one of the sleeping forms to stir in the dark, but when none were forthcoming they slipped out into the hallway. Keeping quiet and not simply breaking into a run was one of the hardest things Amy had ever had to do.
The next trial was the elevator, but it admitted the group without issue, sending them down to the ground floor in but a few moments. Only then, speeding away from Sander and his cadre of kidnappers, did Amy allow herself to relax. All around her, the other girls were doing the same; even Christina's shoulders fell, a deep and abiding sigh escaping her like the release of a pressure valve. Suddenly, Lorna burst out laughing, a quick peal of silvery stress relief that lapsed just as quickly into one of her hushed, Gamma forest prayers; they all knew without having to ask that she was praying for a safe journey home.
The receptionist gave them an odd look from the front desk as they crossed the lobby floor, but regardless of the Command Collars around their necks, she didn't reach out to stop them. Once outside, the four girls slipped around one corner, then another, and then another, until they could no longer see the hotel they had come from. In an alleyway just off of the main thoroughfare, Amy punched the air, suppressing a victory whoop by sheer force of will.
Christina felt around the edges of her collar for the umpteenth time, looking for a join, or a lock, or a hinge, anything that she might work on to release herself from the damnable device. She was no stranger to sealed things, and getting them open was kind of her forte, but all that assumed there was something to unseal; to her touch, the collar was a solid piece of metal.
Oh well, something to think of in the future...
'So, what do we do now?' Sally said, simply unable to wipe the smile off of her face. Amy reached out and took her hand, giving it an encouraging squeeze. Soon, both were grinning like mad.
'Now? Well, now I get myself out of here,' Christina said. 'Find some transport, possibly something that feels like my old bus, and... see what I can find.'
'That was far too many singular pronouns, Christina,' Lorna eyed the brunette. 'Surely you aren't saying-'
'Always been better on my own,' Christina nodded. 'I fear I'd get slowed down with the three of you on my heels, and besides... Imagine the kind of trouble one could get up to in this big wide universe. I'm not sure I'm so keen to go back to Earth!'
'What?' Sally said flatly.
'This is adieu, ladies,' Christina was already backing up, gifting the three remaining girls with a refined wave. 'I wish I could say it was a pleasure, but we were all there. We would know I'd be lying.'
They watched as Christina slipped around the corner and disappeared, running off into the night just as the daylight transition swept across the sky like the switching on of a giant cosmic lamp. Amy stared, no words coming to her; she had known that the noblewoman was... disconnected, in ways that Sally and Lorna weren't, but she had never expected that she would do something like this. Dead weight? Her?
'Unbelievable!' She said eventually, shooting a disbelieving look to Sally.
'Well, there's still the three of us,' Sally replied, trying to keep her spirits up.
'And we're still wearing these collars,' Lorna flicked hers, the metal glinting in the newly formed daylight. 'In a place like this, these things are dangerous markers to have. We need to be careful.'
'This is a place that Sander brought us, of course these collars are dangerous,' Amy sighed, Theros and her original visit to Nirvana and Shangri-La looming large in her mind. Her captor seemed to have a fondness for slave-friendly cultures; had he really grown up in a place like this?
That actually explained a lot...
'This isn't actually too far off from my own time,' Lorna said. 'I might be able to find us some kind of transport offworld, possibly even a way to communicate with my family. I think the... other version of me out there is a bit younger, but I'm sure they'll help.'
She looked out the mouth of the alley, where the occasional passerby looked inside, viewing the three collared women with varied expressions of interest and distrust. It was no wonder; Amy could see numerous men and women and aliens adorned with similar collars or tracking devices walking the streets, but they were all accompanied by an owner, some well dressed individual walking ahead in the expectation that their chattel would follow.
'But for now I think we should get off the streets,' Lorna added grimly. 'Come on, girls. Being seen doesn't serve our interests, right now.'
Selestene bristled with cameras. At any given moment one could be sure that, if they were under the arcology's dome, they were being watched. That was just an objective fact.
Oh, there were the obvious ones; the sleek black domes that stood guard outside private businesses, and the hovering drones of the law enforcement. And there were the stealthy ones too; the nanometer thick, transparent image strips that adhered to the walls, covered with tiny nanomachine camera cells and linked up wirelessly with a hard drive somewhere else.
But most people missed the omnipresent camera.
The Selestene Arcology was a miracle of technological engineering; the dome simulated sunlight with unerring accuracy, to the point that plant life could photosynthesize it. It could engineer cloud cover as needed. And all the while it protected the citizens under the dome from the worst of the storms and wild atmospheric conditions that ravaged the pole outside. But there were additional functions that the general public wasn't aware of; like, say, the observer cells arrayed across every inch of the dome's interior, looking down upon the city within it.
The system wasn't actively used most of the time, but it was there, and that was the point; the potential for it to be used existed, if it was ever needed. Most weren't even aware that it existed; of course, those that did were generally able to hack into it and bend it to their own whims.
Enter the Chrysanthemum Guild.
The Guild's headquarters was underground, the property extending to both sides of the dome. It was an immense, circular cavern, hollowed out and shod in light generating polymers, with rail tunnels attaching it to the various prurient establishments within the arcology's limits. The central chambers were mostly empty- Guild agents generally preferred to work above ground after all- but there was always at least one staffer. Today he leaned his weight heavily on the back of his chair, feet up on the console in front of him.
The litany of sobbing from the lower levels was clearly audible from his position. Luckily, he liked it.
His job was to watch the screen, or more accurately, to watch Watcher as it watched the city, visible through the screen. The silent A.I drifted through the observer cells adorning the Arcology dome, viewing Selestene through the multitude of eyes.
Looking for targets.
When it found one, the program immediately alerted the dispatcher, a small blinking symbol appearing at the corner of the screen. These days this was more of an annoyance than anything else; this job was so totally simple it was a wonder they hadn't automated it in its entirety. If not for Watcher's inability to interpret context with total accuracy, the dispatcher wouldn't have anything to do at all.
'Alright Watcher, pull it up,' The dispatcher sighed, pulling himself out of his recumbent position. Images flowed onto the screen, positional data overlayed over the top of them; the scene was captured from a near infinite number of angles, collated and presented in pristine clarity by Watcher. There had been more than a few false alarms lately, and a number of the console operators were beginning to suspect that the A.I needed to be replaced, but this time it was right on the money.
Four targets, all wearing fairly new models of Command Collar. A quick zoom in revealed the colour pattern was Three Red, but that hardly mattered; there was no obvious owner in the vicinity, and that made them free game, as far as the Guild was concerned. The dispatcher tapped his headset.
'Watcher, do we have any 'jackers out in that area?'
Two inset images appeared, showing a pair of distinct agents within effective range. At the press of a button, Watcher pushed the dispatcher's call through to them.
'This is dispatch calling hijacker agents oh-four and oh-oh-seventeen,' He intoned into his headset microphone. 'I'm registering four free range slaves within your operating area, wearing what appears to be a set of mark five Command Collars. All female, three grouped together with one striking off on her own. A redhead and three brunettes... I'm thinking pleasure models, at least.'
His tone had become distinctly unprofessional toward the end, but he leaned in and tapped a series of commands into his console.
'I'm pushing their coordinates to your heads-up displays. Bring 'em in, boys,' The dispatcher spun in his chair, sighing. 'Wouldn't want them to get snaffled up by someone else...'
The streets of Selestene were always bustling, day and night; the entire city seemed to work on a schedule so that it was never unmanned. Happily, the daytime people were outwardly friendlier than the night time denizens that the girls had been privy to during their trip to the Olivan.
There were more humans, for one, and though Amy liked to think of herself as more worldly- universally?- for having travelled with the Doctor, she still found herself more comfortable around members of her own species. The occasional alien still wandered the streets, but they were far less imposing in the daylight. Actually, that was true even of the humans; everyone was far more clean cut, sophisticated-looking and dripping with wealth. The upper class came out when it was light, apparently.
Lorna led them through the streets, Amy and Sally keeping pace behind her; Sally in particular openly marvelled at the scenery around her. Of course, she had never been off world before, and free from the pressure of being caged and contained by her captors she was able to indulge in the age old human tradition of gawking at new things. Amy remembered being like that herself in the old days, promptly realized that she did not want to be that jaded, and proceeded to be amazed at the very next alien to enter her line of sight.
It was tall, and very thin, lined with pale blue bioluminescence. It deserved all the amazement Amy could muster.
This was all tainted with a strain of nervousness Amy had never really felt before, though; the jaws of this planet threatened to close on her with every passing second. She was treading on a bear trap; the Doctor had never taken her to a place like Selestene before. Even leaving aside the casual way this place and its people treated slavery, Sander was a miracle worker, and she was beginning to think that there was nothing beyond his grasp, given enough time.
When he found they were missing, he would be coming for them...
'Where are we going, Lorna?' Sally piped up, eventual curiosity as to the practicalities of their situation overriding her wonderment.
'Someplace secluded,' Lorna answered. 'None of us exactly fits in, but I know places like this at least a little better than you two. You can hide while I find us some help.'
The hero in Amy demanded that she argue with this plan, but she wasn't with the Doctor right now; that kind of blind, action-oriented thinking would ill serve them. What Lorna was planning made sense; one girl in a collar could surely slip by more easily than three, the pretence of going about her master's business more believable as a single agent. The thought that it wouldn't be her, that Amy Pond wouldn't be striking out on her own, left a sour taste in her mouth, but she had to admit that she wouldn't know the first thing to do in this scenario.
'Ah, here we are,' Lorna tapped a duo of odd, rippling symbols drawn onto the archway of a building in some kind of wax. She nodded, 'Phi-sign. We can come in, ladies.'
'Phi-sign?' Sally asked, following Lorna as she opened the door.
'From the neighbouring forest,' Lorna nodded. As she continued, she frowned, 'But... well, it burned down. The Phi foresters spread out, and their sigils became nomad signals. This one means the building is open for squatters. The Phi are community minded, at least.'
It wasn't the most opulent of places- by comparison the lodgings Sander had provided had been positively palatial- but it would serve its temporary purpose. In many ways it reminded Amy of the abandoned house on the outskirts of Leadworth; a well maintained exterior masking the desertion within.
The floor was bare concrete, the walls stripped of paint, and but for a ring of armchairs and couches the large, open room was empty. It was clear just from looking that this wasn't a residence, but a stopping point, a place to stay when none others presented themselves. A squatter's quarters.
'Selestene's a slave-positive city, so I'd stay away from the windows so long as you're wearing those collars,' Instead of coming in with them, Lorna stood by the door, looking out into the street beyond. 'Just sit tight, I'll try to get into contact with my family, and we'll get offworld.'
'Be careful, okay?' Amy tried not to frown, but feared that she was failing; the idea of having to send someone else out into this city in her stead was intensely dissatisfying.
'I'm a soldier, Amy,' Lorna added a smile to her brave face. 'Anyone tries to give me trouble, they'll find that the Church isn't just for praying.'
Amy had a few interesting responses to that lined up, but she decided to avoid them all, simply nodding before allowing the Gamma girl to slip away, out into the intimidating world they were now adrift in. Where would she go? What would she do? The Eternity Engine had landed them out of their own time with only the clothes on their backs, all personal effects sloughed off into whatever timeless realm Sander had relegated their existences to; no identification, no money... nothing.
Just their collars.
Closing the door, she sighed and tried to find a place that was the least visible from the windows. Sally had already found it; a frayed couch nestled in a corner, right next to a high window with a deep blind spot that kept them hidden from the outside world. There was just enough room for the two of them to sit side by side; close enough for Amy to pick up that Sally was shaking.
'I wonder where we'll go once Lorna gets back,' She said, casting about her mind for something to distract the brunette. This couldn't have been an easy transition for her; dragged from a single encounter with the vastness of the universe, to being kidnapped and bundled right into the heart of a brand new world. Amy had been lucky; her time with the Doctor had served to acclimate her to all this beforehand, something Sally didn't have.
'If I had my phone I'd just call out to Rory,' She continued, rocking on her haunches. 'The Doctor fixed it so I can call anywhere in space and time. No fees, either. Of course, it's gone now, but maybe once we're out of here we can hook you up with one so we...'
Looking over, Amy saw the extent of Sally's perturbation; the girl was pale and wide-eyed, tremors rippling through her with almost rhythmic frequency. Every few moments her eyes would skitter over to some corner of the room, apparently alighting on some illusory thing, before moving on.
'Are you okay?' Amy said gently, moving to continue before Sally shook her head slowly.
'You lost them?!'
'Oh, am I the only person in this room, Ren?' Sander snapped. 'Am I talking to my fucking self? Or... No, actually, you're all in here too! We lost them.'
'What difference does that make?' Ren glowered.