29 Aug 2013
The Problem with Death: Chapter 10 (Aleena)
‘Are you alright?’ I instinctively heard myself say.
‘Aleena,’ he said, crossing over to me and sitting down on the wall, ‘I’m sorry.’
I looked at Matthew. He nodded to me and wandered off, hands in his pockets.
‘Why are you sorry?’
‘All of this time…a lot has changed for you, and I should have realised that. And a lot of what has happened to you is my fault.’
I looked at him. I wanted to slap him. I wanted to beat the living dirt out of him. I felt like he was leading me into this. Leading me into making me say it was okay. But that wasn’t the Doctor’s way. That wasn’t what he was like. Maybe past Doctor’s would have been manipulative, but not this one. I was the first person he had seen after he had regenerated. As much as I wanted to hate him, I couldn’t.
‘Say something,’ he said.
A took a deep breath. ‘I’m sorry as well. I’ve had a lot of time to think about you - away from you - and I guess the longer you were away, the more resentment I felt.’
‘I didn’t mean to leave it a year-’
I held up my hand to stop him. ‘I know how temperamental the TARDIS can be. Didn’t you take one of your companions away for 12 months once instead of 12 hours?’
He looked a little uncomfortable at me mentioning that.
‘What I’m trying to say,’ I continued, feeling my resentment towards him start to fade more and more, ‘is that I understand you. I watched you for a hell of a long time. It’s just…a year is nothing to you, but to me, it’s a long, long time. When you didn’t show up after the first month I just let the anger fester inside.’
‘I can understand that,’ he said quietly.
‘When I saw you again, all smiles and chirpy optimism…well, it made me want to punch you in the face.’
He nodded. ‘I can understand that as well.’
‘Maybe I judged you wrongly.’ I grabbed his hand. It was cold and he was trembling slightly. ‘You are my friend and I miss you.’
He smiled weakly. ‘Friends again?’
I nodded. ‘We can always repair bridges. I never burn them anyway.’
‘We need to get a move on, you two,’ came Matthew’s voice from a few metres away.
‘Are you okay?’ I asked.
‘I feel weak,’ he said in an almost whisper-like voice. ‘I don’t know how much longer I can go on.’
‘Then we need to get you and Matthew to our scientists right now.’
‘No,’ he said. ‘I need to sort this Ireel mess out first.’
‘Matthew, come here,’ I called.
Matthew jogged over.
‘Give him a boost.’
‘You did it last time,’ I said. ‘You touched him and he felt better.’
‘What am I, jump leads?’
Matthew cleared his throat, reached out his hands and touched the Doctor on the shoulder. Nothing. We both looked at each other, frowning. Matthew composed himself and tried again. Still nothing.
‘I don’t know,’ said Matthew. ‘I didn’t feel anything.’
‘All this is irrelevant,’ said the Doctor, getting to his feet. ‘Even if you did take me to the scientists first they’d not have time to deal with me. They’re too busy with Ireel. Let’s go.’
‘You not well enough.’
‘Aleena, I’m fine,’ he said, wobbling slightly on his feet and then straightening himself up. ‘If the worst comes to the worst I’ll get a walking stick. It’s not like I haven’t used one before.’
We made out way through the streets. The Doctor hadn’t really told us his plan, but Matthew and I both had conferred and agreed that he must have had one. Every time we asked the Doctor just told us we were going to meet someone.
Eventually we reached the council offices. The crystal glass of the building shone down, a beacon of light in the night sky.
We walked through the main doors and into the entrance. There was one, solitary person on the main desk.
‘We’re here to see Mr. Rix,’ said the Doctor.
Matthew and I looked at each other.
‘I’m afraid Mr. Rix is busy.’
‘Then tell us where we can find him?’
‘What’s going on?’ came Rix’s familiar, smarmy voice.
‘Ah,’ said the Doctor, turning to face him. ‘I was wondering if we could have a word.’
‘A word about what? Don’t think you three have been forgotten.’
‘You know who Ireel really is, don’t you?’
‘Yes, she’s out God.’
‘Rubbish,’ said the Doctor. ‘It’s all a lie, isn’t it?’
‘How do you know?’ asked Matthew.
‘That’s just it,’ said the Doctor. ‘I can’t prove it. But Mr. Rix can, can’t you?’
Rix straightened himself up and crossed over to the man at reception. ‘Could you call security please?’
Before the receptionist could do anything, I ran over to the desk, jumped over and held my hand over his mouth. After a little struggling he fell unconscious.
‘Aleena!’ scolded the Doctor. ‘That was uncalled for.’
‘Let’s face it, Doc,’ I said, feeling a little guilty, ‘you weren’t gonna do it.’
‘Take us to your office,’ said the Doctor.
‘And no funny business,’ added Matthew, as he grabbed Rix’s arm and guided him towards the elevators.
‘You will all die for this,’ growled Rix.
‘I can’t wait,’ I chuckled.
A few minutes later we were on the top floor of the building in a large, sparse office. Weird, coloured blob-like paintings adorned the walls and there was a large window looking out over Nazar. A desk sat in front of the window with a number of computer monitors.
‘Now,’ said the Doctor, sitting Rix down on a sofa along the right hand wall, ‘tell us a little about Ireel.’
‘I shall not,’ said Rix, refusing to make eye contact.
‘Come on,’ I said, raising my arm.
The Doctor grabbed me. ‘No more violence, Aleena.’
‘Doctor,’ I said, feeling the anger flare up inside me. ‘He knows something. All the councillors know something.’
‘I know, but threatening him isn’t going to help, is it?’
I was about to answer back when there was what sounded like a huge explosion from somewhere outside. The whole room shook.
‘What was that?’ asked Matthew, quickly running over to the large window.
Myself and the Doctor ran to join him, completely forgetting about Rix.
We stood, staring out across the expanse of the city. Towards the city gates there looked to be a plume of red smoke. And then there came another explosion. And more red smoke.
‘What is that, Rix?’ asked the Doctor. ‘Rix?’
The three of us turned, but Rix was gone.
‘I’ll get him,’ I said, already making my way towards the door.
‘Leave him, Aleena,’ said the Doctor.
‘He’s not going to tell us anything.’ The Doctor cracked his knuckles and then sat down in front of Rix’s computer. ‘And anyway, we have us computer.’
‘What good is that?’
‘We’ll find answers on there.’
‘Why would you he leave stuff lying around that could incriminate him? Surely he’d just remember it?’
‘How good are you at lying?’ he asked.
I was confused at this. ‘What do you mean?’
‘What I mean is that if you tell a lie, the chances are that you won’t always remember what you’ve said. Oh, you’ll remember the basics, but the lie will always change slightly because it’s not the truth.’
‘I get it,’ said Matthew, turning away from the commotion outside. ‘If you wrote the lie down, then you could keep going back to it to check that you’ve got your story straight, yeah?’
‘Exactly,’ said the Doctor, switching the computer on.
‘Not only that,’ I said, realising what the Doctor was saying, ‘but if all the councillors are in on it, then they’d all have to have a copy of the same story.’
The Doctor nodded, smiling. ‘Now, just give me a moment to crack his password, and we’ll get digging.’
There were two women. They had both passed their prime and their husbands had gone looking for new women. This angered the women. They sought out new men, but the men always turned them down for younger girls.
The women grew to hate. They had read about the Regenersis machine. A machine that could regenerate the cells of a body, making a person young again, but that the Regenersis machine had a cost. Such a cost. For every time that the Regenersis machine was activated and used, a person would die. The very life essence, plucked out at random and absorbed into the machine to renew the body of the user.
The Regenersis machine had been banned and locked away. Somewhere.
The two women tracked down a scientist and paid him all of their wealth to help them to find this machine. He did so, gladly, and soon they were in possession of the machine. They retreated to a cavern, deep underground where the machine was installed and activated.
On Xanji-For, a young couple died and the two women were renewed, young and beautiful again. The guilt of what they had done didn’t last long. But the Regenersis machine had a fault. After a few weeks the effects would wear off. They had no choice but to do it again. Except that there would be a problem. If they continued to do this, they would soon be found out by the government.
And so they made a plan.
Xanji-For was war torn. Battles raged outside the city walls and within them. All of the factions fought over religion. People died in their hundreds because of religion. The two women went to the central Government with their plan. They would stop the wars. They would do it by posing as Ireel and Deela, the God and Non-God of Xanji-For. The very people that the wars were fought over.
The Government, on their last legs, agreed.
And so the two women became Ireel and Deela. Ireel appeared before the people and, secretly using the Regenersis machine, proved that their was an afterlife by taking the souls of three mortally wounded soldiers.
The soldiers lay down their arms. Ireel was real. The afterlife was real. And peace fell over Xanji-For.
Ireel and Deela came to an agreement with the Government. They would take the life force of the near-dead or dying in exchange for helping them to seed the lie about the afterlife and thus keeping Xanji-For at peace.
And for centuries the two women continued their everyday lives, changing identity over and over again so as not to be noticed that they never aged whilst secretly living in the caverns far below the surface of Xanji-For.
‘Um, okay,’ I said. ‘I wasn’t expecting that.’
The Doctor switched off the screen and looked solemn.
‘Doctor,’ said Matthew. ‘It’s getting worse out there.’
‘It’s Deela,’ said the Doctor. ‘Or the woman pretending to be Deela.’
‘But why? The lie’s worked to keep us all in line all these centuries.’
‘Because,’ said the Doctor, swivelling around in the chair to look out of the window at the carnage below, ‘all the factions have started appearing again. The one’s who don’t believe. War is coming. The government know that and so does Ireel and Deela. So the two of them have made a rare appearance to prove to you all that they’re real. Deela puts on a little bit of a scare-show and Ireel swoops in to stop her. Xanji-For rejoices and all is well again. No doubters and no outsiders.’
‘That’s…crazy,’ I said.
‘It’s sick,’ said the Doctor, stern-faced. ‘And we must stop it.’
‘Somewhere on this computer is going to be the schematics and instructions of how to activate the staircase that leads up to the afterlife.’
‘But it’s not real!’ I said.
‘But I’ll made you 10,000 Shanix that if you walked up that staircase it’d transport you to the cavern. Where Ireel and Deela came from.’
‘And then when we get the staircase switched off?’
The Doctor’s eyes narrowed. ‘We put an end to this sick little lie for good.’