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The Locksley Dagger

The Locksley Dagger, Part 4

Posted on Apr 18, 2009

[Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3] I didn’t wake up so much as I was jolted back to consciousness by the pounding in my head. Opening my eyes was torture. Any movement beyond that was simply out of the question. “At least have the decency to pretend to be hung over,” I croaked. Sprawled in a chair across the room, the Doctor stretched his legs out before him, cupped his chin in one hand. He wore only his boots and his leggings and the bloody bandage around his middle. He smiled at me, and I closed my eyes again and groaned. The chair scraped across the floor, and the Doctor’s bootsteps crossed the room. Water splashed, and then a damp cloth pressed itself to my forehead. The bed shifted as the Doctor sat on the edge. “Any better?” he asked, wiping the wonderfully cool cloth across my face. “Mmm…” “Ayren,” he whispered, leaning close, “I know who stole the dagger.” I could hear the grin in his voice. “Mmm?” He was dramatically silent for a long moment. “I did.” My eyes flew open — his face was just centimeters from mine. “What?” “Well, I will.” He shrugged. “You and I are going back to Souverane, to the night before we met Efass, I’m going to steal the dagger, and we’re going to bring it back to Earth.” “Why?” He jumped to his feet. “I’ve been thinking about it all morning,” he explained, pacing to and fro. “This” — he fingered his bandage — “helped me make sense of it. The time rift is a big rip in the fabric of space-time, like a wound in flesh. The Time Lords sewed up that wound, but then they took an integral part of that wound away — they took the time hook away. That’s like trying to stitch this up with a huge hunk of flesh missing.” He slapped his belly — then winced and let out a gasp. “…With the time hook gone, instability built up over the eons, enough so that the rift snapped open.” Indisposed as I was, I still saw the flaw in his argument. “But you said the time rifts were natural and stable. How could something technological, something artificial, be integral to that?” “We don’t know anything about the time rifts before the hooks were created for them. What if the hooks actually imposed stability on unstable phenomena?” “Okay.” I tried to think through the thunder in my head. “But the time hook is here. Will Scarlett has it.” “Right. Will had it in 1991, when we first materialized. That’s why the time rift seemed to be stable at that point. But the dagger won’t always be here. At some point in the future, post 1195, perhaps even post 1991, the Time Lords will collect it, and it’ll end up on Souverane. I can repair the time rift from the TARDIS, but the hook has to be in the vicinity for the rift to stay...

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The Locksley Dagger, Part 3

Posted on Apr 18, 2009

[Part 1] [Part 2] Ayren I was shivering with excitement as Will Scarlett led us down the wide stone steps to the great hall of Nottingham Castle. This was history come alive, the past made present. People were living here in this castle: those men in chain mail standing guard over there would go home to the soldiers’ barracks; the young scullions rushing back and forth with trays heaped with steaming chickens and loaves of bread would probably sleep among the dogs and goats tonight, and be thankful for the warmth of other bodies. People lived like this. I had studied Earth history all my life, had participated in re-creations in virtual reality, and still I was unprepared for the realness, the nowness, of it — the stench of humans and animals living together, of tons of burning wax illuminating the castle’s crevices and nooks, of the food aromas that permeated the very stone. I let my fingers run along the rough walls as we descended, hoping that the feel of it would etch the memories more deeply into my brain. The Doctor caught my glance and knew what I was thinking, and he smiled. There was music in the great hall, and laughter, but our bootsteps on the stone drew all eyes to us nevertheless. “Will!” a man called — he was at the long table on the dais at the other end of the room. “Where’ve you been?” We followed Will, weaving through the tables arranged throughout the hall, until he stopped at the dais. “I was attacked by outlaws in Sherwood,” he said with a snide grin. A chuckle rumbled through the room. The man on the dais only smiled and put down his tankard. “And who have you brought with you? A knight in Arthur’s colors? Can this be the high king come again?” It was a joke, and the Doctor smiled and bowed gracefully. “I am the Duke of Gallifrey, renegade from the king of France and traveling through your fair country. This is… my wife, Erin of Yorkshire.” Wife? How quaint. I bit back a smile and bowed. “I… met them on the road,” Will said — of course he wasn’t going to tell the truth, however he saw it, “and if your lordship has no objection, I invited them to Nottingham for the night.” The man scowled at Will’s “your lordship,” but he smiled at the Doctor and me. “Of course, they must stay. Welcome to Nottingham, my lord, my lady. I’m Robin of Locksley, and this is my wife, Marian.” He nodded at the woman seated next to him, then indicated the empty chairs at their table. “Please, join us.” Will was waiting before the dais — waiting to be invited as well, I realized — and when Robin ignored him, he stomped back through the hall, up the stairs, and out. “You’ll have to excuse my brother,” Robin said as serving maids placed wooden plates before us and poured wine...

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The Locksley Dagger, Part 2

Posted on Apr 18, 2009

[Part 1] Ayren The TARDIS gave a little shudder. I leaned over to check the navigation panel — everything fine — and then turned back to the data cubes. The Doctor had a definite head start on me: I half woke in the middle of the night to see him sitting up in bed, pillows propped at his back, the icy blue light from the cubes glinting off his half-rim glasses. I struggled to wake fully, but he lay a hand gently in my hair and pressed a kiss to my forehead. “Go back to sleep, love,” he whispered, “and dream of Robin Hood and Sherwood Forest.” I thought I’d dreamt the whole thing till just a few minutes ago, but here it was in the cubes. All right: One end of this time rift was in Nottinghamshire, England, in AD 1195. And the time hook we were looking for was called the Locksley Dagger, a family heirloom. And I did know — and the TARDIS computer confirmed — that if Robin Hood had existed, he may have been one Robin of Locksley… or Lockesly, or Loxley. Or Robert of Huntington. Or Sir Robert Hoyd… Anyway, it would be fun. I got to dress up again, like a medieval woodsman this time — in woolen leggings and tunic, and leather jerkin and boots, all in mossy greens and earthy browns. And I’d even convinced the Doctor to play along… The inner door opened, and the Doctor stepped in, and I gasped in delight. He was taking playing along seriously. From his hooded surcoat to the belt draped around his hips to his knee-high boots, he was drenched in vermillion and rusty red and cream and sandy brown — darker cousins of his cricketing colours. He walked toward me, the surcoat swaying and his leggings pulled taut, tantalizing me with hints of the lean body under all that leather and muslin and wool. His fingers under my chin returned my mouth to its usual closed position, and he leaned down to kiss me softly, quickly. “You look wonderful,” I breathed. A whisper: “Thank you.” “Except for this.” I tapped the long sword slung through the Doctor’s belt. “Strictly part of the costume, Ayren. I have no intention of using it.” “I hope not.” He smiled. “Are we on course?” “Central England, late medieval period. Arrival imminent.” I smiled then. “You don’t really think we’re going to meet Robin Hood, do you?” His eyes searched my face for a moment, then looked upward, remembering. “Absolutely ages ago, I had a little holiday in Palestine with King Richard the Lionheart, and he did mention to me a Lord Locksley whom he considered a trusted ally — even if he was Saxon.” I tugged playfully on his belt. “But just because there was a man named Locksley doesn’t mean he was Robin in the Hood.” He considered this. “Ayren, there are places and times where Time Lords and TARDISes are considered myths, fiction.”...

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The Locksley Dagger, Part 1

Posted on Apr 18, 2009

This story was written in 1991-2, and appeared in my fanzine ‘The Cricketer: Tales of the Fifth Doctor,’ published in 1992. Ayren The Doctor was trying to get the maitre d’s attention. Planet Souverane was very much in the centre of this era’s multicultural, interstellar society, so it was not that unusual that humans were a minority at the bar — where everything from Aldebarian brandies to Romulan ales were served — and that it was necessary for the Doctor to tell the android maitre d’ that we would like to be seated away from the methane breathers, please. I signalled the bartender for a refill on my wine. “Perhaps it’s developed a short,” I suggested, but the Doctor was twisted around on his bar stool and he didn’t hear me. I shifted my position, crossed my legs, and took a sip from my replenished glass. I was feeling a little lightheaded with the wine and a little sensual in my new frock: it was short and shimmery and loose and smoother than silk and seemed to flow over my skin like cool water. It was all the rage here, and the Doctor had insisted on buying it for me. “You’ll need it for dinner,” he’d said with a smile. “We have reservations.” He wouldn’t tell me where he had gotten the credit chit that was paying for it all. He was dressed in black, like a softly cut tuxedo, and he looked wonderful, but as he turned back to me, skimming a hand through his fair hair, all I could think of was getting him out of it. “I think it’s hopeless,” he said with a sigh. He was a little drunk, too, so I dared try a little more intimacy than he was usually comfortable with in public. I leaned closer, touched his knee, gently kissed his mouth — the musky alien scent lingering on his skin made my insides quiver. “We could just go back to the TARDIS.” His sapphire eyes got as bright as twilight’s first stars. “That we could,” he said with a grin, and then his gaze was distracted by something over my shoulder, and he rolled his eyes. “Oh no.” I glanced back. Silhouetted in the glaring light of the entryway, a large, muscular, humanoid figure turned its head to and fro, searching the room. Too tipsy to be worried, I giggled. “What trouble have you caused now?” The Doctor shielded his face from the searcher with one hand. “It’s not what trouble I’ve caused, but what trouble I’ll be asked to get into that I’m worried about. Perhaps we can slip out the back– Oh good lord, she’s seen us.” She? I looked back. She waded through the crowded room toward us, a mountain of gray skin in a blue uniform. Her forehead bulged hugely with what looked like vertebrae — as if her spine had continued up and over the back of her head and didn’t end until the bridge...

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