Doctor Who: Amy, Captured Ch. 15byKurokami©
Author's Note: Okay, so this is the second epilogue, and the last chapter in the Amy, Captured series. After this, it's all Panic Moon, the first chapter of which will be up and about as soon as I can get it to y'all.
Special thanks go to my editor and baby mama, Isabel, who deserves extra credit for sitting with me and throwing a bunch of new ideas into this chapter to really make it shine. Thanks also to Allyourbase, who gave some amazing advice and added an awesome new perspective and intellect to this whole thing here. The three of us discussed it, and we're unanimous in picking this chapter as the hottest one. It's certainly a personal favorite, and that's probably down to the amazing help I had in writing it. Thanks, guys!
Votes, feedback, comments... You know how I feel about all that by this point! I NEED feedback to function, fellows! As much as you can give me, good, bad, I don't care. Just tell me what you think, please!
Enjoy the story, and please look out for Panic Moon, coming very soon!
The endless night droned on outside the thick plate glass. The asteroid spun in its inexorable orbit, just as it always had. Everything had changed inside, but the universe outside remained obstinately unchanging.
Mara sighed, leaned her head against the glass. Everything had changed, but daily life still ran in its groove. Sander still buried himself in his work all day- well, for twelve hours out of every twenty-four- just as surely as he buried himself in her at night, with a verve and energy that had shocked her, at first. She wondered whether he had always been so... vigorous, or whether it had something to do with the Doctor's reappearance. She knew better than most that people acted out in all sorts of ways to deal with trauma, but eventually she learned that his attentions were something to be enjoyed, not puzzled over.
Still, it couldn't be healthy, running a life like that. Sander had never had a hugely stable mind, not since thirteen years ago, but this was something new. He had always been driven in his work, but he had never completely locked her out of it before. She couldn't count the number of times he'd come running with some new program or mechanical thing, eyes sparkling with almost childlike glee, to show off and explain the vengeful purpose they could put it to.
But now... she couldn't even sneak into his office to see him. The damn intelligence program stopped her; when she tried using her executive access priority to get past it, Sander's access overwrote her own and blocked her out. It wasn't just that she was locked out, it was that he was keeping secrets from her! It'd be frustrating, if it wasn't so baffling.
Well, at least the stars were pretty...
Suddenly, strong hands were on her shoulders, twisting her away from the window as a leg wrapped around the crook of her knees, sweeping her weight off her feet. Mara found herself held off the ground by an arm in the small of her back, looking up into Sander's glowing, passionate eyes. Her expression shifted to sarcastic deadpan, as it so often did when he tried anything dramatic like this.
'Someone's chipper today,' She said flatly, actually kind of enjoying being dipped like this.
Sander smiled, a little tensely, 'Someone found who he was looking for.'
He winked, 'Hah, you're funny. No, it's not you. It's not hard to find you. Believe me, this one was a hard one to track down. We're going out.'
'Where? And... who?'
'I found Walker,' Sander sounded a mite uncomfortable, as though he was delivering bad news.
'Let's move,' Mara answered quickly, dragging herself back to her feet by using Sander as support and striding quickly to the shuttle bay. Her fingers flexed with manic energy, knuckles cracking. She had been waiting a long time for this.
The shuttle bucked as it slammed into the atmosphere, a patchwork sea of dark clouds stretching out endlessly below. Mara was thrown from her seat with an incoherent shout of surprise, and even Sander whooped at the strength of the impact.
'In case you couldn't tell, we're here,' Sander's face poked out from behind the pilot's seat, grinning sheepishly. Mara was no expert, but she could tell when he had bad news...
'What have you done now?' She sighed flatly, picking herself up from the floor and heading to the copilot's chair.
'Now, hold on,' Sander said desperately as Mara began tapping at the console. 'You didn't give me a whole lot of time to explain, and... Oh, hell.'
She had fallen silent and still as the cloud layer shot past them at speed and the exterior shell of the shuttle contracted in the deep cold with a series of loud thumps. The oceans of this planet were very distinctive, and immediately recognizable to certain types of people, Mara and Sander included. The composition of the water was different, one of those miraculous, wondrous coincidences of physics that served as proof of an incredibly vast universe that had literally everything in it.
The facts shot quickly through Sander's mind; the temperature threshold between liquid and frozen for the water here was only half a degree. The cloud cover was constant, and the oceans would literally freeze and thaw in time with the periodic illumination from the planet's sun; in motion it was breathtaking to behold. The waves pitched higher, freezing momentarily in shining sculptures before the next finger of light hit them, sending tumbling waves of glittering, rapidly thawing ice shards back down into the alternating solid and liquid maelstrom below. The whole planet was chilled cold enough to kill the average person stone dead in seconds.
Only the truly brave and adventurous would make their homes here. That, or they were running and had nowhere else to go.
Poor, poor Mara...
She looked at Sander with an expression he had never seen on her before; a kind of constricted, vaguely hunted set to her eyes, with a jaw clenched to hold back a whimper. He had never seen her look in any way vulnerable before, and seeing it now gave him an unbearable urge to hug her. He followed that urge, bundling her up into his lap on the pilot's chair and squeezing her tightly, noting with considerable distress that she was shaking like a leaf.
She tried to shape the word, the noun that had become one of the few words she would hesitate before saying. On the first attempt she could only mouth it with a trembling jaw. On the second, she managed to get the sound out, in a hoarse whisper into her lover's ear: 'Myriad.'
'Yeah, sweetheart. I'm sorry,' Sander tried his softest, most reassuring voice. 'I'm really sorry.'
Inside his head, Sander was struggling to find words violent enough to express his anger at this Walker fellow. Why here, of all places? Why here, goddamn it! Anywhere else in the galaxy, hell, the whole universe, and he would have traipsed in without a second thought, for her. Stormcage, Helios, it didn't matter! Anywhere else and he was sure she would have coped. But that bastard had come to Myriad. Had he meant to? Had he done it to somehow spite her?
This was the place that gave Mara nightmares, for fuck's sake!
And Sander had to admit, he wasn't a huge fan of the place either. The cold was the least of your worries, if you landed on Myriad. The cold could only kill you.
'Why here?' Mara shuddered. 'That fucker... Why did he have to come to this place?'
'It's the one place that you're guaranteed not to be followed,' Sander said grimly, unconsciously stroking Mara's long hair with one hand. When he had been here, it had only been for a single day, to collect a piece of machinery that couldn't be acquired on worlds that appreciated sanity. But Mara had been there for years; she hadn't been able to leave, for reasons she'd never made entirely clear. But there were plenty of disgusting, barbed traps that could spring and keep a person on Myriad against their will; Sander understood how the planet could inspire such sickly, ice-cold fear.
It wasn't that it was a criminal haven; there were plenty of planets like that. Myriad was the template upon which those other worlds had been based, and they were all mere shadows of it; it would be depressing to think that more than one such monument to the tainted nature of the soul could exist at any one time. If you were being chased, if there was no possible chance of escape, if your crimes were truly terrible enough to warrant constant pursuit, if you were committed to repeating those crimes... you run to Myriad. But Myriad does not harbor fugitives for free. This was a planet were heat was a commodity.
And in a place where every person is willing to kill to get what they want, it can be very hard to pay for safe passage. Mara had never spoken about her time there, but Sander had met her there; ostensibly she had been working at providing various criminal groups with untraceable communications arrays, but it had always been fairly clear that this was not all she had been forced to do to survive. Sometimes, when she thought he wasn't watching, she had the eyes of a victim. Other times, she had the eyes of a killer...
'Listen, you don't have to do anything,' Sander said gently. 'We can just leave; that's the difference. We can go anytime,' He felt it important to remind her that, this time, she had backup.
'I've never told you about this place. Not properly,' Mara choked out. 'Fuck... The only reason I came here was that I couldn't afford a longer FTL jump on short notice. Thought it couldn't possibly be as bad as the rumors made it seem. It was worse.'
She pressed herself against him, drawing comfort from the solid weight of his body being so close. He could feel her breathing deeply into his chest, and he wrapped his arms more tightly around her, entwining the two of them together as closely as possible. A wave of warm, protective affection went through him.
'I'm sorry,' He sighed. 'Really, I am. You just sort of had us rush off before I could tell you where we were going. But we can turn around, love. We don't have to-'
'No!' Her head lifted, and her eyes glowed with fury. The words tore themselves from her in thick, tearful snarls, 'Absolutely fucking not! I'm here, Sander! Right now! And he's here. I've been waiting for this day, and-' She kissed him, deeply, lovingly. 'You made it happen for me. I can't thank you enough, I'm not going to waste the opportunity you've given me, I'm going to pay that piece of shit back for what he's done, and you're going to be there when I do, Sander Hackett.'
A grin rippled across Sander's face as, even under such stress, the immutable fact of Mara shone through. He hugged her closer with an amused grunt, and she was kissing him, and he was kissing her, and both of them very almost got distracted, until Mara forcibly separated herself from him and stood, making a series of lengthy, urgent gestures with her hands while breathing heavily.
'Alright,' Sander laughed, crossing to the strongbox bolted to one end of the floor. He produced a few bundles of cloth, 'First things first: thermal wear.'
He tossed one bundle to Mara, who unfolded the long, dark coat with a speculative gaze. Hers was a thick black jacket with a lengthy, tailing end and luxurious fur ringing the collar, cuffs and edges. She pulled it on, nodding appreciatively.
'Hey, this looks pretty damn nice, Sander!' She smiled, fanning her thick blonde hair out from the collar, shifting her arms to feel the reassuring weight of the garment. She twirled on the spot for Sander, causing him to give her an energetic thumbs up.
'It's inside the collar,' He said absently, throwing on his own coat, a bulky, dark blue greatcoat with a flared collar and deep pockets. There were faint traceries of pale blue light moving along the coat in thin lines, just barely visible but definitely there. He winked, and together the two of them went to the airlock. They simultaneously pressed a button inset in the collar, and the air around them blurred for a moment, shimmering as though in heat haze before fading out. Mara giggled and wiggled her hips.
'Ooh... Warm!' She grinned.
'State of the art, baby,' Sander grinned back. Since he liked the idea of not freezing to death on a planet that was, for all intents and purposes, a black pit of human misery, he had spared no expense on these protective jackets. The convection fields in them could extend for several feet from their bodies, heating the air around them to a comfortable temperature even as the rest of the planet froze. These particular thermal coats even had systems in place for dealing with high winds without the use of proper kinetic barriers. That, and they also looked badass. Sander loved his magic coat.
'Are we going to be armed, here?' Mara cocked her head to one side. 'I mean, this is Myriad.'
Sander shook his head, then pressed a button in the right sleeve. With a small, silken sound, he faded from view. Mara made an impressed noise.
'Rich guys get the best toys,' She shook her head with a laugh. She felt a weight around her, lips pressed against her own.
'Aren't you glad you're with one, then?' Sander's voice slid out next to her ear. Mara swayed away from the sound.
'That was... disconcerting,' She hit her own button, rippling into invisibility. 'I suppose you're right, though. Best not to escalate things with violence in a place like this.'
'That was my thinking, yes,' She could sense Sander nodding curtly. 'Now, I can't see you, Mara, so you have to stick close to me if you don't want to get separated,' A hand wrapped around hers, tugging her unseen form a little closer to his own. This close, Mara could only be impressed at the sophistication of the EM warp in place here; she couldn't even see any distortions, like she would with a commercial camouflage array. So this was what had been keeping him so busy...
The bay doors opened, and their footsteps echoed coldly on the runway. Mara took hold of Sander's arm as the first thrills of fear swept through her; she knew she was completely concealed, she knew she had a way out, she knew Sander was right there by her side, but it didn't matter in the face of the immediately familiar environment. There was no way she could feel safe here.
Myriad was a depressing place. It was a stroke of luck that what passed for snow in this hellhole wasn't falling; the dense ice crystals tended to either fall in heavy, bludgeoning hail or in stinging, frigid rain that froze on the skin if you didn't have adequate heat layering. Mara doubted that their cloaking arrays could deal with that kind of pressure.
She immediately recognized the area in which they had landed; it was a middle-class district on the eastern edge of the south continent capital city of Refraction. Which basically meant that, although they probably wouldn't be outright killed by anyone they met, they would find themselves put to... some other use.
The tiny spaceport opened out onto a large plaza; like most outdoor spaces on Myriad, this one was almost deserted, only a few plucky, sketchy looking individuals dared brave the cold, sticking closely to the walls of nearby buildings and hurrying quickly to wherever they were headed. Cold flagstones, set in an old, almost medieval style, were underfoot, and what sunlight there was glinted off of the squat metal constructions that ringed the square. Just looking at it, the place seemed almost innocent; however Mara's trained eyes could see the inordinate amount of interest their shuttle was garnering from the windows of the nearest houses. She knew immediately that it would be stolen.
She heard the click of another button being pressed, and the precious shuttle became engulfed in a harsh red light, shimmering along the length of the shell with a deep, sonorous buzz. Mara gave an unseen grin and tightened her grip on Sander's arm; he had clearly thought of everything, and it would be fun to see how many corpses would be lying around the shuttle when they came back. He wasn't playing around, and that shield would kill a human brain on contact.
Her head tilted thoughtfully, and she wondered briefly whether this trip would constitute a date for the two of them. He was taking her out, he'd clearly put some thought into it, she'd been given a nice gift of the coat alone, saying nothing of finally getting to beat the shit out of Walker... Sander was such a sweetheart.
He was directing her with a gentle pressure on one arm, the slow rate of their progress making it clear that he was watching his step to avoid making too much noise. It was probably best if nobody but Walker knew that they were here, and even in Walker's case it was preferable that he didn't know until they were right on top of him.
The pair slipped quietly through a series of streets and alleys that were just as deserted as the plaza they had exited. The sky grew darker as the cloud cover thickened, matching Mara's blackening mood exactly. It was the cognitive dissonance that was making her maddest; she could remember, vividly, the day that Walker had left her and completely derailed her life. The day she had become a fugitive and basically an exile on all Terran worlds. But she also remembered Myriad, remembered how truly terrifying Walker had been, once his real predilections had come to light. Her heart pounded in her chest, the fear of the coming confrontation racing up and down her spine.
She had to do this, though. There was this drive that wouldn't allow her to give up, having come this close. It must be the same impulse that drove Sander to fight with the Doctor. She finally understood that part of him; that little revenge monster that bayed for blood. She could practically smell Walker, and she could feel her old razor-edged smile spread across her face. He might be scary, but when she found him, Walker was fucked.
Suddenly, she was being pulled to a stop. She turned to the space that she was fairly sure Sander was occupying, 'Are we here?'
His chuckle drifted out of the artificially warm air, 'We passed a man stabbing a corpse in the face in the last street. I know we're cloaked, but do you really think I would stop moving if we weren't here?'
'Maybe you needed to check your map or something,' Mara said slowly.
'You can't see it, but I'm waving an invisible arm in front of my invisible face, invisible Mara.'
'We are here, though,' Sander said, and Mara began to realize just how difficult it was to communicate in physical space without visual cues. She had gotten the feeling that Sander had gestured, but rather than upbraiding him for it, she recognized how hard this was. She tapped her invisibility module off.
'There's my beautiful girl,' Sander's unseen hand tousled her hair. At least, she hoped it was his hand.
'Charmer,' She accused. They were both avoiding having to plan this thing out.
'Am I going in with you?' Sander's voice was gentle, Mara smiled at the way he had phrased it; placing control of the situation back into her hands.
'You aren't,' She said smoothly. 'You're out in the cold, Hackett.'
'I want to watch your back.'
'You can't,' She closed her eyes. 'I know it's a cliché, but this really is something I need to do myself.'
'Then I'm waiting for you,' Was the simple reply. Mara nodded once, hoping it was at least vaguely in Sander's direction. She slipped silently through the open door of the building directly ahead of her. Her convection field crackled off when it detected the larger field enclosing the house, enveloping Mara in a more natural warmth.