clocketpatch: A small, innocent-looking red alarm clock, stuck forever at 10 to 7. (CLOCKETPATCH!)
[personal profile] clocketpatch
This time for [ profile] lycoris:

The EMP had cut all power to the research facility. The hallways would be pitch black except for the deadly strobe lighting of Federation blaster fire. A blast scored the wall inches above Cally's head. She returned fire, but with her power pack depleted the best she could hope for was stun. The continued volleys of energy volts told her that her that even that was now probably straining the bounds of optimism.

A Federation shot hit her dead on. Cally yelped, a stupid, unprofessional response which only succeeded in calling more fire towards her location. She ducked and retreated around a corner, clutched her arm. On regular strength, the hit would probably have killed her, but the Federation weapons had also been effected by the EMP, a fact which gave Cally a grim satisfaction, but not, unfortunately, a fact which would save her.

It would give me great satisfaction to kill you. Cally thought at the Troopers, blundering around in the darkness trying to find her. You are afraid of me; one small woman stumbling in the dark? You are right to be afraid. I will kill all of you if I have to.

There were hundreds of Troopers running in this maze of a research complex. Cally thought she might be able to take down half a dozen before being overwhelmed, but doing so would not serve any greater purpose. The original mission – to find and destroy (or commandeer) a new bio weapon being developed by the Federation – had been scrapped and turned into a rescue mission after Blake and Avon had managed to get themselves arrested. Vila and Cally had been sent down to get them out, but then the EMP had happened and they'd been separated in the chaos.

Liberator wasn't responding. Cally didn't know if that was the fault of her bracelet, or if the ship had been in range of the EMP. She had no idea how far reaching the attack's effects were. She had no idea even who had initiated the attack. Avon and Blake, somehow escaped on their own, were the most logical option, but from what she'd been able to glean while making her way through the black and dangerous research complex, they were still in captivity.

Blake! Avon! Vila! Cally projected, feeling her way down a new hall, through doors, and away from her pursuers. Away from the lightning flash illumination of the fire fight, it was substantially more difficult to navigate. Predictably, none of Cally's absent comrades answered, and she regretted, not for the first time, her separation from her people, and her present companion's lack of telepathy.

I am here.

Cally paused, hunched in a doorway, cradling her injured arm.

I am HERE.

It was a feeling, more than a voice. The message was clear even if the words weren't words but more of a singing pulsation.


It was telepathy, but not of the Auranor style. Cally's experiences on the Liberator had taught her to be careful of alien presences with psychic abilities, but the signals she was picking up didn't seem threatening. Not that the voice (which wasn't a voice) didn't have the potential for threat. She could feel power in its message, a deep, unrestrainable power that was, in its way, more dangerous than anything she had ever faced. But the power was tightly controlled, restrained, curated. It felt somewhat like (though not at all like) Zen. The message it was projecting was one of mild concern; like a broody hen tutting at one of its chicks.


Cally winced at the strength of the call. Shouting then, rather than tutting. The message, she knew, wasn't meant for her. Its recipient was probably wandering about oblivious to the call in the dark, just as Blake, and Avon, and Vila were wandering about oblivious to her calls. One only had to shout so loudly when dealing with non-telepaths.

Who are you? Cally asked, warily.

Trapped. Was the reply she received, along with a mental roadmap to the voice's physical location. Cally weighed the pros and cons of following the instructions.

We are both lonely as we wait. The speaker projected softly, adjusting its volume to Cally's more attuned senses. She could feel its separation, how it, she – the voice was undoubtedly feminine – had also felt the pain of exile.

I am nearly the last as you will be nearly the last. Cally didn't understand that message. It was in future tense and wasn't phrased as a threat, though she wasn't certain what else to take it as.

Who are you waiting for? Cally asked, and received in response a flood of images of different men (but all the same man?) fighting various battles, laughing, and running across the universe (and through time? Cally wasn't certain she understood). He was the cause of the EMP, Cally understood. He had come here for the same purpose as the Liberator – to destroy the Federation's new bioweapon (the images in Cally's mind became grim and bloody, showing her the devastation the weapon would have wrought) – and he had succeeded.

But he cannot find me, cannot free me, I am stuck.

The EMP damaged you? Cally asked.

Yes. No. No. Boxes within boxes. I am always trapped. But now my box is in a box and he cannot find me.

And in return, what will I receive? Cally asked.

Help. The voice said, and Cally could tell that it was being deliberately ambiguous on whether that was an answer or plea.

Cally's arm ached and she could hear a new batch of Troopers coming up on her location. She could smell them. Their unwashed bodies encased in hard leather, sweating freely. Their metal guns and the strange minty odour of their air recyclers. They were foul and Cally wanted to kill them. It would be easy.

Instead she crept away, following the instructions of her unseen guide until she'd reached a smooth, metal door. With difficulty she jammed it opened and wedged herself through before it shut.

It was an out of service lift, cave dark, and crowded by a large crate. Cally pressed against the object and felt it hum. Then it opened.
The Liberator was a fantastic ship which defied conventional explanation. The TARDIS (the voice dropped the knowledge into Cally's mind) defied conventional existence. It made Cally uncomfortable.

This is a wrong place.

But she didn't retreat. The wrongness was not the presence which had brought her here, but rather the shell in which it was housed. The box was infinite in size, but it was still a box, a prison as far as Cally could see, but the TARDIS thought otherwise.

It is as I am, as you are as you are. A shell, a body, a prison, or a vehicle.

It's not how you're meant to live. Thought Cally, feeling a warm ocean, an infinity of space, a swirling vortex she could barely comprehend. That was this TARDIS's natural environment, not this… whatever this was.

It is not how you are meant to be either, but, given the choice, which do you prefer, and where do you do more good?

More knowledge dropped into Cally's mind. She attached wires to the TARDIS's central console, pulling them out of the box into the lift, and attaching them to the call buttons. She executed a series of commands on the TARDIS console, sparks flew, and the lift lights came on. The lift started moving, the numbers illuminating its progress as it climbed, then, with a final ding, the door opened and a man in a brown suit with wild hair stepped inside.


The man (the Doctor) used the TARDIS circuits to recharge his sonic screwdriver, which he then used to heal Cally's arm and fix her teleport bracelet, which he seemed fascinated with (he refused, however, to bestow the same favour on her power pack). Moments later, Avon, Blake, and Vila were all angrily bickering to the Liberator and asking for teleport (apparently, whatever the Doctor had done to Cally's bracelet had somehow remedied theirs as well).

Cally paused for a moment, listening to their voices. The Doctor was smiling at her.

"She likes you, you know," he said.

The TARDIS danced across Cally's consciousness for a moment, regaling her with all of the things that might happen if she took the unspoken offer and stayed.

And if I go? Cally asked. The TARDIS was silent, and there was a warning buried in itself quietness: Something would happen, but something that couldn't be told, lest something worse take its place.

But given the choice… Cally thought. She felt the TARDIS's sorrow lapping against her as she pressed her bracelet and called for teleport.

During the scattered seconds while she floated through the ether, Cally felt TARDIS flying alongside her.

These are our lives, our boxes where we are free.

She thought she almost understood.


Prompt was: Cally and the TARDIS, trapped in a lift

Plus the H/C bingo prompt "Cages" for thematic inspiration.

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