Chapter 5

Come Into My Parlour...

Peri's lungs stung from the cold air as she ran over to the fallen statue. She saw the corner of the Doctor's cloak protruding from beneath the rubble. The material was splashed with a wet purple stain; red blood mingling with the blue cloth. A pale hand protruded from beneath the broken monument. Peri turned away from the grisly sight, her eyes wet with tears. The Doctor had died, just as he had predicted. She was now alone, and stranded on this planet.

Peri heard the sound of movement. She looked expectantly at the fallen statue, but it remained still.

A figure had appeared from behind one of the other statues. He wore an apron over his blue tunic, and wire spectacles on his nose. She noticed that his toupee was crooked.

‘Please help me!’ she begged the stranger.

‘Calm down, calm down, my pretty,’ Jobel said soothingly. ‘Someone as pretty as you shouldn't be all in a fluster.’

‘But you must help me. My friend has had a terrible accident.’

‘Well that's obvious,’ he said, studying the remains of the monument. He frowned with puzzlement because he did not recall there being a statue at the head of the pond.

‘Well can't you help me get him out?’ She couldn't understand why the man was not offering his assistance.

‘I'd break my back lifting that,’ he stated. ‘And besides, you wouldn't want to see the mess under there.’

‘He might still be alive,’ she said hopefully. But she knew that she was only kidding herself. No one, not even the Doctor, could have survived.

‘No, no, no. He's had it,’ Jobel said with certainty. He gazed into Peri's wet eyes. ‘Where as you, my pretty, are very much with us,’ he smiled. ‘I like pretty things - and you are very pretty, aren't you?’

His hand reached out and brushed a tear from her cheek. She flinched at his cold, clammy touch.

‘Get your hands off me, you creep!’ she cried.

‘Oh, it's sad to see that you're upset. Was he a close friend?’

Peri looked at the Doctor's hand, which seemed to be reaching out for her. Although they constantly argued there had been deep respect between them. They had travelled to many strange places and seen many strange things, from one danger to another - only to have it end like this.

‘Yes,’ she confessed.

Jobel sighed. ‘Life's strange, isn't it? You lose one friend, only to find another.’

Peri pulled away in shock as his hand touched her breast. ‘Are you some kind of weirdo?’

The man stood firm, his stomach pulled in tight. ‘I am Jobel. I'm very important here. I am the Chief Embalmer.’

‘Chief Embalmer!’ bellowed a voice that was very familiar to Peri.

The larger pieces of the fallen statue suddenly shifted as the Doctor pushed them away. On closer inspection, Peri could see that the statue had not been made from stone at all, but a lightweight plastic material. The Doctor brushed the dust from his clothes and beamed at her. ‘I am not dead yet.’

‘Are you all right?’ said Peri as she gave him a big hug.

The Doctor, clearly embarrassed by this act of affection, smiled. He nodded at Jobel. ‘Is he touting for business?’

‘Me? Tout!’ snapped Jobel. ‘I'll have you know that people come from all over the galaxy for my services.’ He studied the Doctor's figure. ‘Mind you,’ he pondered, ‘you're the first live client that I've tackled.’

‘He does go on, doesn't he?’ the Doctor whispered to Peri.

Peri pointed to the dried patches on the Doctor's cloak. ‘You're covered in blood!’

‘Well it's not mine,’ he reassured her. ‘Like the statue, and this...’ he nodded at Jobel, ‘...er... grotesque, it's all part of an elaborate theatrical effect.’

Peri smiled with great relief. If the statue had been a gag after all, it meant that the Doctor wasn't going to die here and, more importantly for her, neither was she.

‘Come on - we've got work to do,’ the Doctor said.

‘Where are we going?’

‘To find out who had that statue erected.’ He turned to Jobel. ‘Sorry I can't say it's been a pleasure to meet you.’

‘Humpf,’ growled Jobel. ‘You know - if the statue had been made of stone I'd doubt that it would have killed you.’

The Doctor raised his eyebrows. ‘Really?’

‘No. It would take a mountain to crush an ego as big as yours!’

The Doctor shrugged his shoulders. He had no further desire to talk to this man, and ended the conversation by walking off.

‘Goodbye, my pretty,’ called out Jobel as he gazed longingly after Peri's departing figure. ‘Such perfection,’ he said, smacking his lips in delight.

As the Doctor and Peri moved out of scanner range, Davros switched off the monitor. ‘It is all as planned,’ he cackled. As anticipated the statue had aroused the Doctor's curiosity which, as the saying went, killed the cat. And this particular cat was one that Davros was going to enjoy seeing killed.

He turned to Tasambeker. ‘I think you should attend to the Doctor.’

Tasambeker gulped, hard.

It had been half an hour since Lilt forced Grigory to consume the entire contents of the flask. The surgeon now hung limply from his chains, babbling nonsensically. Natasha watched, a dazed expression on her blood-wet face.

‘Why won't he talk?’ Lilt demanded.

‘I didn't make him drunk!’ Natasha exploded.

Lilt delivered her a hefty punch to the stomach. She coughed up more blood. Lilt returned his attention to Grigory. ‘Talk..!’

Grigory just moaned...

WELCOME TO TRANQUIL REPOSE
ALL VISITORS PLEASE
REPORT TO RECEPTION

The Doctor looked up at the notice suspended overhead and grunted. He had no time for such formalities. He had business to attend to. He pushed open the large doors beneath the sign and stepped into the main parlour Hall. He removed his blue cloak and draped it over a nearby chair.

Peri took off her own cumbersome jacket and tossed it onto another chair. It was a relief to be free of the constricting garment. She pulled her maroon blouse into shape and looked around the room. She noticed it had been decorated with the same purple flower they had seen in the woods.

The Doctor made a quick scan of the room, taking in every detail including the surveillance cameras mounted on the walls. There was no one about. The place was as quiet as a grave, thought Peri.

‘It's creepy,’ she said, stating her anxiety.

‘And it'll get a good deal more creepier when I find out who erected that statue,’ came the reply. The Doctor had noticed the golden body resting on the raised dais, and ascended the steps. He studied the golden death-mask with admiration. The craftsmanship was superb.

‘They may not tell you,’ Peri said as she joined him.

‘Always be subtle,’ he pointed out. ‘Play it very loose, to use your parlance.’ The Doctor always made fun of Peri's accent and Americanisms.

‘May I help you?’ came a squeaky voice behind them which made Peri jump.

They turned to see a squat, dumpy woman. She was wearing a blue tunic and her face was heavily made up with blue patterns.

‘I don't think so,’ smiled Peri. ‘We're just looking.’

‘Actually,’ the Doctor cut in, ‘we've come to see about a funeral.’

‘I beg your pardon,’ frowned Tasambeker, a blank look on her face.

‘Er... a burial?’ Again she gave him a blank look. ‘Internment?’ he offered. ‘Inhumation? Sepulture? Obseque?’

‘Ah yes,’ she said, finally understanding. ‘What you mean is perpetual instatement.’

The Doctor grinned. ‘Yes.’

‘And for whom do you wish this service?’

The Doctor's smile faded. ‘Me.’

Takis punched his access code into the computer panel and waited for final verification. Satisfied that the user had full clearance, the computer bid Takis welcome in its computerised female voice. ‘How do you do, Mr Takis? And what is your pleasure?’

‘I want to know the E.T.A. of President Vargos's ship.’

‘The Estimated Time of Arrival is approximately fifty-seven minutes,’ came the emotionless reply. The shutter covering a video scanner slid open to reveal a star chart of the Pherra system. At its centre, represented by a blue circle, was Necros. A green dot flashed in the top right hand corner and slowly moved towards the middle. At the bottom of the screen appeared a red dot.

‘There are two transponder codes,’ said Takis.

‘The second is for an unscheduled craft,’ came the response.

‘Direction?’

‘The planet Necros.’

He smiled and thanked the computer. ‘You are welcome,’ it said, and the screen closed.

Takis had given the current situation a lot of thought. The Great Healer had to be got rid of. And there was only one certain way that it could be achieved. The sub-space message he had sent in the hope that they would receive it had gotten through. The solution to all their problems was due to arrive at the same time as the President - in less than an hour...

Likewise at the factory, Kara and Vogel were watching the approach of the President's ship on her own scanner.

‘Oh, what a delicious sight,’ she purred.

‘I'd think it would be safer, madam, if we shot it down,’ suggested Vogel.

But Kara shook her head. ‘That would be like an advertisement. No, Orcini will do his work, and we shall remain anonymous.’ She switched off the scanner. Had she left it on for a few seconds more, they would have seen another ‘blip' approaching the planet...

Tasambeker took the Doctor and Peri to a small interview room. There she offered them refreshments. The Doctor politely declined but Peri, having sacrificed her lunch to the lake-monsters, bit hungrily into a green fruit which had a taste curiously similar to liquorice.

Tasambeker gave them a run-down of the services provided at Tranquil Repose. Peri found it all so boring but the Doctor took it all in with keen interest.

‘Now,’ Tasambeker was saying, ‘if you should decide to accept our unique service your body will be cryogenically stabilised until the time came to revive you. Needless to say, your resting consciousness will be constantly updated with information concerning social, cultural and technological developments of your choice.’ She leaned forward. ‘We wouldn't want you to wake up feeling that the Universe had left you behind.’

Peri stifled a yawn. ‘It all sounds so sterile.’

‘For an extra fee, a small cost, you may purchase our personalised communication service.’ Tasambeker pressed a button on a console and a screen lit up on the wall. With a musical fanfare, the face of the DJ appeared.

‘Hi there!’ he sang out. ‘This is the DJ. Now, if you're missing your resting ones and want to tell them just how much, then why not call on me. For I am the messenger who connects your hearts with their hearts. So, I'll be hearing from ya!’ Another fanfare sounded, and the screen shut off.

The sound of a familiar American accent perked Peri up. ‘Hey, that's great. It's a little like the DJ's on Earth.’

‘Precisely,’ frowned the Doctor.

The early afternoon sun cast long shadows over the Garden of Fond Memories as it passed over the statues and sculptures. Two weary figures tramped across the snow, burdened with the heavy cases they carried.

Orcini and Bostock had been driven by Vogel from the factory in a hover-car and then unceremoniously dropped off a few kilometres from Tranquil Repose. Vogel told them that this was as close as he dared bring them in order to remain undetected by Davros's spy cameras.

After walking a short distance the two assassins rested briefly near a small woods. Bostock had found a small mound of snow marked with a crude cross made from tree branches which he wanted to use for target-practice, but Orcini scolded him for having no respect for the dead.

Half an hour later they finally reached the outer skirts of their target's domain. Orcini stopped and put down his case. He pulled a flask from of his shirt pocket, and took a swig.

‘It's still a long way,’ moaned Bostock. ‘They could have brought us closer.’

‘The air will clear our minds,’ breathed Orcini, filling his lungs with the refreshingly chilly air. He swished his cane like a sabre, slicing at an invisible enemy. ‘Ever heard of a sword, Bostock?’

‘No, master.’

‘It was a weapon not unlike a large knife used on many planets for thousands of years.’ He stabbed again at his unseen opponent, yelling in triumph. ‘Even when it was superseded,’ he continued, ‘the sword was still carried ceremoniously.’

While Orcini continued his battle with the air, the squire studied the map given to them by Vogel.

Orcini thrust his cane into the heart of his imaginary foe. ‘The symbol of honour,’ he shouted in victory. ‘Something almost spiritual...’ Satisfied that the enemy was dead, Orcini ceased his theatrics and opened his case. He drew out a small machine-gun, and snapped the retractable shoulder-rest into place.

‘This is my sword, Bostock,’ he declared, cocking the breech.

‘You're using that?’ frowned the squire.

‘And why not?’

‘It jammed on you last time. The thing's obsolete.’

Orcini pointed to the medal displayed on his jacket. ‘You so easily forget. I'm a Knight of the Grand Order Of Oberon, and you are my squire. Where as I may have been temporarily excommunicated, I still try to live by the Order's rules.’

‘I know, master. But that gun's useless.’

Orcini smiled at his squire. ‘You must understand that this mission must be an honourable one. Nothing must taint or spoil it.’

‘I do understand, master.’

‘Only fools would take the risks I do...’

Orcini had been dismissed from the noble Order after he went through with an assassination that had been called off. Orcini feared that his reputation would be further tarnished if he didn't complete that job as originally ordered. Now on his own, he was determined to regain the Order's respect and rejoin them.

With the assassination of Davros, he believed he had the means to achieve his objective. ‘This will be my last mission,’ he said.

‘Yes, master?’ asked the loyal squire.

‘You may think that my judgement is clouded by the thoughts of honour. But my experience as a soldier has not deserted me.’

Bostock cared for his master and did not want to see him disillusioned. He offered Orcini a small hand gun. ‘Take this pistol - just in case.’

Orcini accepted the proffered weapon. He usually listened to Bostock's advice. His artificial leg was a good reminder of the one time that he had ignored the little man's intuition.

Suddenly Bostock tensed. ‘What was that?’

Orcini heard nothing. ‘What is it?’ he asked.

‘I sense something hostile.’ Bostock's eyes darted around. There it was again, a slight sound coming from behind a row of statues. ‘It's behind us!’ he yelled, hurling himself to the ground.

Orcini spun on his heel, and fired the machine-gun in a rapid burst. The Dalek sentry, almost invisible in the whiteness of the snow, exploded in a mighty fireball. Pieces of bonded polycarbide armour flew out like shrapnel in all directions.

Orcini was surprised by the damage caused by such a simple weapon. ‘The bullets are fitted with explosive heads?’

Bostock nodded eagerly. ‘Yes, master!’ he grinned.

Sensing that the explosion could attract other Daleks, Orcini grabbed his case and ran into the shadows of the statues, with Bostock following close behind him...

An alarm sounded in Davros's laboratory.

‘Alert! Alert! A-patrol-Dalek-has-been-destroyed!’ came the message.

‘So, it seems my agents were correct. Kara has employed assassins!’ Davros screamed. He ordered a Dalek to immediately open a channel to the treacherous woman.

The Doctor, like Peri, found himself yawning as Tasambeker droned on.

‘Look,’ he interrupted. ‘I'm finding what you are saying absolutely fascinating, but when I said I was interested in my own burial -’

‘Perpetual Instatement,’ Peri corrected him.

‘Thank you. Perpetual Instatement - I was in fact referring to something a little more specific.’

‘What was that?’ enquired Tasambeker.

‘There is... was a statue of me in the Garden of Fond Memories, and what I would like to know is, who did it?’

‘That is not possible,’ she said, ‘without the express permission of the Great Healer.’

The Doctor felt his hearts miss a beat on hearing that name. He recalled the mutant's hatred for this person. Was this Great Healer responsible for the statue?

‘I'd like to meet him,’ he said.

Tasambeker smiled at the Doctor's request. She knew that the Great Healer would be watching and would be pleased with her progress so far. She desperately needed to prove her loyalty to him.

The interview over, she lead them back to the main Hall. The place was now busy as Attendants made final preparations for the Presidential visit.

‘We are preparing for a lying in state,’ explained Tasambeker. ‘President Vargos has given his permission to attend to the mortal remains of his dear late wife.’

‘Understood,’ Peri smiled back. The Doctor was going to be busy with the Great Healer for some length, and scientific talk did not interest her at all. She turned to the Doctor. ‘I wouldn't mind meeting the DJ. I'm curious to find where he learned his patter.’

Jobel, who was adjusting the golden robe on the President's wife's corpse, saw them as they entered. ‘A-ha. There you are my pretty,’ he called out to Peri.

Tasambeker, thinking the compliment was intended for her, blushed. Jobel had never spoken to her like this before. ‘I'm taking this gentleman to see the Great Healer,’ she said.

‘That would be a contest worth missing,’ he mumbled. He smiled at Peri. ‘And what are you planning to do?’

‘Well, I'd quite like to meet the DJ.’

‘And why not,’ he said, clapping his hands. ‘Jobel will look after you.’ He took her arm in his.

Peri tried to pull away but his grip was very firm. ‘No, it's alright. I'm okay.’ She forced a smile.

The Doctor held up his hand. ‘Excuse us one moment.’ He took Peri over to one side. ‘Go with him,’ he whispered. ‘I think from what we've learned, you'll be good and safe with Mr Jobel...’ Peri started to protest. ‘...more so than you will with the Great Healer.’

‘But couldn't we just go back to the TARDIS?’ She didn't like the idea of being alone with Jobel for any length of time.

‘No. I want to find out more about this Great Healer. Remember the mutant?’ Peri nodded in resignation. The Doctor was right, as usual.

The Doctor returned to Tasambeker. ‘Have a nice day,’ he called to Peri.

‘With me as her escort,’ grinned Jobel, ‘she certainly shall.’ He took her arm again and led her away. She turned and gave the Doctor a final exasperated look. Tasambeker watched them leave.

‘What a nice man,’ the Doctor said. He noticed her expression. ‘Friend of yours?’

‘What's it got to do with you?’ she snapped.

‘Absolutely nothing at all,’ he shrugged, somewhat taken aback by her sudden change in manner. ‘Only showing interest.’

Tasambeker turned and crossed to the doors leading to the freezing units. Her orders were to bring the Doctor to the Great Healer, and that was what she was doing. She opened the doors, and stepped aside to allow the Doctor to pass.

He smiled and stepped through - and found himself face to face with two Daleks. Their gun-sticks were pointing directly at him.

‘You-are-our-prisoner!’

‘You-will-not-resist.’

The Doctor spun around in an attempt to run back through the doors, but they were closed. His way was also blocked by two bearded men.

Takis stepped forward, raised his arm and chopped the Doctor across the back of the neck. The Time Lord dropped to the floor.

‘Bring-him!’ ordered a Dalek.

Takis took the Doctor's feet, and Lilt lifted him by the shoulders. The Daleks escorted them down the corridor towards the catacombs. They moved down several levels until they came to a corridor lined with doors. One of the Daleks operated a control and one of the doors opened. The Doctor was roughly shoved inside the room.

‘Secure-him!’ ordered a Dalek.

Lilt seized one of the Doctor's ankles and manacled it to a chain attached to one wall. He left the cell and the door closed behind him.

From the shadows Natasha and Grigory looked at their new cell-mate in bewilderment.

‘It is always a pleasure to speak to you, Great Healer,’ said Kara.

‘Indeed,’ intoned Vogel.

Davros leered at them from the video screen. Kara and Vogel had been waiting anxiously for word from Orcini. The only contact they had had with the assassin was his report that he and Bostock had penetrated the outer boundary of the complex. When the video signal chimed indicating that a communication was coming in, they immediately assumed it would be the Grand Master. Instead, it was the Great Healer.

‘A Dalek patrol has recently been destroyed,’ he informed them.

‘Outrageous,’ she said, trying to appear concerned. But inside she was laughing; no doubt this was Orcini's work.

‘I believe that assassins are attempting to infiltrate my base. It concerns me that those attempting to kill me might also attempt the same with you.’

Kara smiled. ‘I have every faith in my guards. A fine body of men. I personally selected each and every one of them.’

‘Experience has shown me that humanoid life-forms are susceptible to bribery,’ Davros pointed out. ‘I would be happier if you were protected by those incapable of corruption.’ Davros was one step ahead of Kara. Indeed he was familiar with the ease with which guards could be bribed. Most of Kara's guards were also on his payroll.

Kara realised what he had in mind. ‘You could only mean Daleks, Great Healer.’

‘Correct. I have already despatched a squad for your protection.’

‘Thank you, Great Healer.’ Again she forced herself to smile.

Satisfied, Davros closed the transmission and his image faded from the screen.

‘I think he only guesses, madam,’ said Vogel. He was a little worried.

‘He can guess what he likes. He won't live to learn that he was right.’

‘I fear, madam, that you are perhaps placing too much trust in Orcini.’

But Kara was not to be cheated of her glory. ‘Orcini will succeed. And when he does, not only will I be rid of that troublesome Davros, but I will control the food supply for the whole galaxy!’

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8