Tentacles of Doom

Jean Airey

This story was first published in Companion in Zeor #10, senior editor Karen Litman. This online version was retyped into electronic form and then reformatted for the web. Typed by Karen Litman, converted to HTML by Mike Giroux


The Sime~Gen universe was created by Jacqueline Lichtenberg. This story or its setting may not be reused without her explicit permission. This story copyright 1990, 1997 by Jacqueline Lichtenberg. All rights reserved.

Editor's Note

A "Doctor Who" cross-Universe story. No copyright infringement is intended by the use of the "Doctor Who" references
Karen Litman

He had blindly hit the controls of his ship to return to the only place of safety he knew. Now he lay on the floor of the control room desperately trying to maintain consciousness. Between the waves of pain sweeping his body, he had nightmare visions of the impossibily moving creature coming toward him again. Attacking, urged on by some overwhelming hunger. It had caught him easily and then, tightly holding him, tried to draw something from inside him that was not there to be taken.

With a strength pecular to his race, he had fought free and, calling on his own unique stamina, got back to his ship. He felt the shuddering motion of landing and pulled himself up to the control console again to release the door.

It opened, revealing the familiar greens and browns of a forest. It wasn't where he intended to land, but it was safety.

With a determined effort, he walked out the door only to collapse in agony again outside. As he realized that the pain was stronger than he this time, he heard the door close.

There was a bitter taste in his mouth and a rough warmth against his skin. The pain still echoed, muted, throughout his body.

"What IS he, Terance?" A man's voice said.

"Not human - not any kind of human. He's conscious now."

He opened his eyes and looked around the room. It would have seemed dark to human eyes, but he could see clearly. A tall blond man was standing at the foot of the bed, hands on hips, scowling at him. Another man, thin, with dark eyes and black hair, was at the side by the head. He closed his eyes again, as fresh spasms of pain started up his arms.

"No Janis thorns," he said. That wasn't right, he thought. Janis thorns paralized before killing. He wasn't paralized. Ignoring the pain, he tried to sit up.

"Get some more fosebine, Rykard." The man - Terance? - pushed him back down. He didn't resist. He was shocked by the sight of the man's arm and hand brought into closeup view. Four tentacles extended from the wrist to the ends of the fingers. He could see the hollowed areas on the arm which would sheath the retracted appendages. On either side of the arm, he could see ridges where two more were withdrawn. While the hand still held him down, two of the tentacles moved gracefully to pull up the covering he had dislodged. The room blurred and he saw the creature coming at him again, waving its tentacles, clutching and holding with hands that were not hands. He felt himself shaking in the agony of both the past and the present.

"Here, drink this." He felt his head being lifted and a cup with liquid in it was pressed to his lips. "You've been badly burned. This will help." The bitter taste was familiar and he realized that they must have given him some before. He drank it without protesting, apparently these people knew what they were doing. He felt the pain blur into a numbness again. The two men were standing by the side of the bed.

"How is he?"

"Alive - somehow." Terance frowned. "I don't understand how. With the extent of the burns that's almost as amazing as he is. I don't see why any Sime would have attacked him."

"Too low field?"

"Oh, he projects that way. But if you zlin him, he's producing and using selyn. With extensive blocks against leaking or draw."

"Shen, Terance, is he an Ancient?"

"With two hearts? I don't think even the Ancients were that odd."

"Another mutation?"

"It's possible but unlikely. In spite of his appearance,Rykard, he's OLD."

"He's conscious. Can he talk?"

"He hasn't tried to yet. He probably can't understand us."

He was well accustomed to being a source of confusion and was almost tempted to let them dither on some more, but he really wanted them to be quiet and leave him alone. He smiled at them sleepily and said "I can understand you prefectly, and I'm sure we'll find lots to talk about later. Now why don't you be good chaps and run along."

"Who are you?" Terance asked in amazement.

"I'm the Doctor," he said yawning. "Have a jellybaby. They're in my coat pocket." The glow of delight in their astonishment cancelled the pain as he fell asleep.

When he awoke the next morning the first thing he realized was that his body had restored itself. The second was that the sun was shining and the third was that there was an argument going on in the hall.

This society and its people promised to be unique even for someone with his experience, and his curiosity was aroused. With the shortsleeved nightgown flapping around his ankles, he tiptoed to the door and opened it a crack. The voices became clearer and he recognized them.

"They'll see it as a concession, Rykard." Terance said. "Until your brother becomes King it would never have occurred to anyone in authority to receive an official delegation from the Tecton." The last word came out as a swearword.

"I am well aware of that, and you know that I would never have allowed such a thing to happen - had I anything to say about it."

"But your brother would not even allow you a place on the Council that is traditionally your right!"

"It's only been a tradition within the last forty years that the eldest Gen of our family serve as head of the Council. And Philart only observes tradition when it is to HIS benefit."

"YOU should have been King."

"Terance - you always want everything changed so that YOU get what you want."

From the laughter in Rykard's voice, the Doctor sensed he was trying to defuse his friend's anger.

"Rykard - does nothing matter to you?"

"A great deal my friend, but I'm very careful about what I spend my caring on. If something cannot be bought - or is too expensive..."

"Our guest is up."

The Doctor grimaced. Apparently Terance had senses beyond the normal human span. At any rate, beyond human as he knew them. He heard their footsteps moving toward his room and ran back to the bed, sliding quickly between the covers.

"So you are awake. Terance is not usually wrong." Rykard was smiling as he entered the room.

"You are an odd one," Terance said, moving over toward the bed and frowning.

"Really?" The Doctor opened his eyes wide and beamed at Terance. In his experience this usually had the effect of disarming a human. But this human was not watching his external appearance. He quickly set up mental defensive blocks -- it wouldn't do to take chances with these unknowns.

"Interesting -- you just shut off part of your nager."

"Well, you said he wasn't ‘normal'," commented Rykard. "You seem better this morning." He smiled at the Doctor.

"Better," snorted Terance. "He's fleckin' well. Some residual swelling around the blocks. What are YOU?"

The Doctor maintained his smile and surveyed the two. Rykard, blond and bulky of frame, stood to one side, maintaining an almost ‘projected' aura of calmness and control. Probably the ‘nager' that Terance had referred to - but with a curious underlying power he wasn't used to sensing in a human. Terance on the other hand, lacked that power but seemed to have some expanded sensory ability. Quite a pair. And definately a PAIR. There was an interlocking of the two that made them a curious whole.

"Perceptive, aren't you?" Terance smiled, his dark face lighting up. "You're not human, and you're..." his eyes narrowed and the Doctor felt something sweep across and into him. Some deep recess of his core self - that part which remained continuous throughtout his regenerations - seemed to shrink and gibber at the alien touch. "Seven hundred fifty-seven years old."

"Zlinning without permission? Terance I would have thought better of you. And you're one year off." He widened his smile still further to take any sting from the repremand. No sense in antagonizing these people - yet.

"Terance! I warned you that one day you'd try those new tricks of yours on someone who'd sense what you were up to. My apologies, sir, my friend does not often find anyone enough to react to a deep probe. I can assure you that it will not happen again."

The Doctor sensed again the pecular meshing. Odd - Terance was in many ways stronger, but Rykard had the real power.

"You certainly speak well for someone else, Rykard. And please, just call me Doctor."

"Oh yes, he talks well for others, but he lets others speak for him." Terance glanced ruefully at his friend. "But where - and how - did you learn to speak Simelan so well?"

"Simelan? Is that what I'm speaking?" Terance looked ahocked and the Doctor grinned delightedly. He suspected that this one was not often taken by surprise. "Let's just say that it's a gift - shall we? And have you seen my jellybabies?"

"I believe that they are in your coat pocket." Rykard responded. "You tried to give them to us yesterday, but we weren't sure what their purposes was." He gave the Doctor his coat.

"Oh, they're sweets - from Earth. Quite a delicacy." The Doctor quickly found the white bag of candy and popped one into his mouth.

"Earth? But this is Earth."

"Rykard - he could be a Tecton spy."

"Spy?" The Doctor stopped chewing the jellybaby and swallowed it whole. "I'm not a spy." But they won't believe me, he thought. It's happened too many times. And they'll arrest me and something dreadful will happen and I'll have to save them, and all I want is a vacation.

"That's an unwarranted accusation. I hardly think even a Tecton spy would let himself be burned so badly."

"There have been rumors." The Doctor did not like the look in Terance's eyes. It reminded him of...well, he'd think of it later. "And there are supposed to be strange mutations in the Tecton." Terance continued.

"Terance! Zlin him again if you have to. I'm not a Sime, but I can see that he can be trusted."

The Sime paused for a moment and the Doctor felt his core self tighten at the throught of that ‘probe' passing over it again. Then Terance seemed to relax. "You're quite right, Rykard. My apologies, Doctor."

"Oh, no harm done." The Doctor beamed at them with genuine delight. "Why I've been suspected of much worse. Why on Pelador they thought I was..."

"Doctor." Rykard interrupted. "As much as I enjoy your babbling, it would be much more helpful if you would try to explain a few things to us."

"I'm not very good at explaining things Most of the time it just makes things more confused."

"I can well believe that!" Terance suddenly laughed. "Would you answer some questions?"

"Of course. May I get dressed? I answer questions much better when I'm dressed."

"If you feel well enough, certainly. There's a room across the hall where we can talk comfortably." Rykard glanced at Terance and added, "Don't rush. You may find yourself a little shaky when you get up and start moving around."

After they left the room the Doctor dressed quickly. An odd pair, he thought, but he rather liked them. At least they seemed more sensible than most people he'd met. And as much as he disliked answering questions he supposed he'd have to answer theirs if he was to get his own answered. He wrapped his long scarf around his neck and checked his appearance in the mirror on the wall. At least he hadn't regenerated. Still the same beak-like nose that he'd had for so long now, and his curly hair was still its solid brown. This body was really working out quite well. He bounded out of the room and across the hall to where his new friends were waiting.

From Companion in Zeor #10

Last modified on 29 June 97 at 1030