Sunday, 29 May 2011

Forged in Fire

So, here it is, the VERY long awaited Forged in Fire by Mr Russell Williams. This story effectively serves as the introduction into Russell's own series 'Reversed Polarities' which will launch later this year. This story features the 10th Doctor and Donna, though in a reduced role. Needless to say they'll be front and centre of Russell's series, and I hope you'll be good enough to support it once it does launch. For now, please enjoy his penultimate story for Consequences...

Forged In Fire
By Russell Williams

God that's an annoying noise! That was the first thought that passed through the Doctor's mind as he regained consciousness, registering the ever present noise of the Cloister Bell. Slowly opening his eyes, he gazed around at the devastated, fiery console room looking for Donna. Almost every part of the room, including the magnificent console itself, was ablaze.

Eventually, he found Donna sprawled across the seating with a gash across her forehead. Quickly getting to his feet he dashed over to his companion, checking her pulse and that she was still breathing. All was OK, thankfully. He shook her shoulders. "Donna! Donna can you hear me?"

Donna slowly opened her eyes and gazed in the direction of the voice calling her name. "Nice driving, spaceman," she said with a slight smile, before getting up. "I take it we got away then?"

The Doctor moved over to what was left of the main console and began bagging away at the controls. "From what I'm able to tell, but the poor girls just about had it." The Doctor looked sadly at his companion. "The TARDIS has an escape pod of sorts. She'll be a bit cosy for the two of us, but it's better than choking or burning to death."

Donna stroked the Doctor's arm and they shared a sad smile. "How do we get into this escape pod of yours?"

Without speaking, the Doctor activated a control and a piece of metal grating on the floor separated and revealed a slide leading to the escape pod.

"You've got to be kidding me!" Donna gasped.

"After you!" The Doctor indicated the chute.

"I'm gonna start claiming hazard pay soon, y'know," Donna joked as she summoned up her courage and descended into the darkness. The Doctor took one last look around the console room and, with a tear running down his cheek, he too jumped into the blackness beyond.


"This is Captain Emily Taub of the UES Pioneer. To any vessels in range, please respond. We have passed through a spatial anomaly, our navigational systems are fried and we have many dead and wounded. Anyone, please come in."

A cry from the dark permeated the radio and subspace channels as the UES Pioneer, a top-of-the-line Constitution-class starship drifted, dead, in the depths of space. This once proud vessel and her gleaming ivory coloured hull was now charred black and a pot-marked hull. Her engine nacelles, once glowing with energy, had dulled.

On the bridge of the stricken Pioneer, Captain Taub and her crew were struggling to hold the dying starship together. All of the maintenance hatches were open and all available hands were trying to hotwire the systems or spraying fire damaged consoles to put out the blaze. Sat at the centre of the chaos was Taub herself, hammering and banging the communications console in the hopes of getting a message out. From her expression it could be gleaned that she held out little hope of success.

"Mitchell! Report!" Taub shouted at her first officer, Connor Mitchell.

"Massive damage, Captain, and I mean massive. We've got hull breaches all over, warp drive, sub-light engines and thrusters are all offline, as well as the weapons and life support below deck 7. Security and medical teams are working to evacuate everyone to the saucer section, but it'll take time."

"Time is a luxury we don't have, Commander. We can't afford to use the emergency power to keep those decks going. Inform the crew that if everyone isn't evacuated in the next fifteen minutes then we'll have to cut the power."

Mitchell gulped and looked at Taub, before nodding his ascent, and attending to the damaged comm system to pass on the captain's message. Assured that her orders would be carried out, Taub manipulated the comm panel on the arm of her command chair and opened an internal channel to Main Engineering.


"MacPherson here, Captain." The Scottish chief engineer, Jack MacPherson, answered over the comm panel.

"Give me some good news, Jack."

"Cannae do, I'm afraid. The warp core is offline for the moment, but I cannae guarantee that the containment fields will hold. It's my professional opinion that we run like a bat out of hell before the whole bleedin' lot goes up."

Despite the severity of the report, Taub couldn't help but smile to herself. "Do what you can, Jack, and then get your ass up top. Good luck."

"To us all, Cap'n." MacPherson signed off.

Over the next ten minutes or so, Taub found herself just staring at the swiftness and professionalism of her crew as they struggled to hold the ship together, all in absolute silence. Unfortunately, that silence was soon shattered when klaxons started to wail and alarms rung out from the half functioning engineering console. Racing over to the console, Taub manipulated the controls and discovered the cause of the problem. Dipping her head in sadness, Taub looked to her crew who all stopped what they were doing and gathered around her.

"Warp core integrity is down to 9%. Prepare to separate the saucer section immediately," Taub ordered sadly.

"Captain!" several of the crew shouted at once.

Before Taub could say anything, Mitchell took his place at her side. "Yes, ma'am! You have your orders people, carry them out."

After the crew exchanged a few worried glances, they both set to their duties. Taub looked to her first officer, barely holding her emotions in check. "And may God have mercy on their souls", she said to the crew that remained aboard the doomed drive section.

Minutes later, the explosive bolts were fired and the once great United Earth Starship Pioneer separated into two distinct sections. As the saucer section powered up its depleted sub-light engines, the drive section tumbled away into the darkness, as she faced her destruction.


Planet E-4721 "Farpoint"

Tecker township

One Hundred Years Later

Farpoint. Never a more clear example of humanity (and various alien affiliates) triumphing over adversity. When the stricken saucer section of the great Earth ship Pioneer smashed into the planet's surface a century earlier, the survivors vowed that they would survive against the harsh, ice age conditions present on the planet which they now called home. Using the wreckage of the Pioneer, the brave officers and crew constructed themselves humble little abodes, from which they went forth and multiplied.

A century later, Farpoint was home to over thirty thousand, many descendants of the original "settlers", but many more had been welcomed into the society as they too had been ensnared in the same trap as the Pioneer. As the population grew, so too did the settlement, branching off into various settlements, including the Tecker township.

The Tecker township pretty much resembled a frontier town from the time of America's Wild West period, albeit with metal buildings and snow and ice, instead of wood and sand and mud. The township had all the facilities that anyone could ever need: a surgery and attached chemist, a small general store, a post office, a train station and most importantly: a saloon. To the younger inhabitants of Tecker township, it didn't offer much, but even they could enjoy the alcoholic beverages and the bawdy shenanigans of Bullwark's Saloon Bar.

Bullwark's resembled its Old West counterparts more so than anything else, a long bar, a piano in the corner and even swing doors, although it lost something when you had to pass through the outer set of doors before passing the interior swing doors. At this time of the evening, Bullwark's was full of the usual patrons: people looking for "companionship" and those who wanted to get away from "the wife". However, the third type of patron that frequented Bullwark's were the disenchanted teenagers with nothing else to do. Two of which were entering the saloon now.

Adric and Kelin were both in their late teens and had been the best of friends ever since they were eight years old. Despite the years of friendship between, there was the usual ups and downs, and of course the almost sibling rivalry. Their entry into the saloon drew the odd look from various patrons sat at the tables, but basically their entrance went unheralded until the two young men arrived at the bar and were met with the stern face of Bullwark himself. How the Trevanian landlord had been in business for so long remained a mystery to many on Farpoint, but to those in the know, the large blue skinned man was praised for his legendary lock-ins.

"What'll it be?" Bullwark droned in a monotone.

Taken aback by the booming voice, Kelin stepped back, leaving Adric to face the full effect of the Trevanian.

"Two of your finest ales, please, my man," Adric said with a grin.

"Are you tryin' to be funny? I.D." Bullwark's face betrayed no emotion.

"Aw, c'mon, don't we look old enough to you?" Adric asked hopefully.

Bullwark took a long glance at the two teenagers, looking them over, and then looked Adric straight in the eye. "No."

Unfazed, Adric reached into the top inner pocket of his jacket and produced his identification card, before nudging Kelin and making him produce his. Bullwark looked both of the passes over, especially scrutinizing Adric's. "Alright. Two ales coming up."

Bullwark went away for a couple of minutes before finally returning with two large mugs of ale, placing them on the bar in front of the two teenagers. By this time, Kelin had worked up the courage and asked Bullwark for a packet of Clavrin tongues, which the bartender grudgingly served up.

"Is that all?" Still there was no emotion or inflection in the voice.

"Yes, thank you." Adric replied.

"Good. That'll be, erm..." Bullwark reached underneath the bar and pulled out a price list. Adric was amazed that Bullwark couldn't work out a simple equation like that, especially when he'd been in the business so long.

"3 crezits, 45 scrips." Adric offered.

Bullwark looked up in annoyance, his feelings now very evident. "Yeah, whatever."

Adric handed over the money, and the two teenagers went over to a table and sat down. After they had sat for a few minutes, sipping their drinks and soaking up the ambiance, much as it was, Adric turned to his friend.

"Y'know we've got to find somewhere else to go."

"Oh, I don't know. Its fun, coming here, winding Bullwark up," Kelin smiled.

Adric took another sip of his ale, grimacing slightly at the bitterness. "I suppose. But don't you just want to get out of here, away from boringsville and back to civilization?"

Kelin looked up at his friend. "What, move into Polis city, y'mean?"

"Maybe. Or even get off of this planet altogether." Adric gesticulated, narrowly missing knocking over his drink. "There's a whole universe to explore out there y'know."

Kelin sighed. "Yeah, and run straight into the Brotherhood or some other bandit out for profit."

"You can't think like that, Kel. At least the Professor is actually trying to do something to improve the conditions on Farpoint. What is everyone else doing? Nothing. They get up, go to work, come home and go to bed."

"He still having trouble with the lawgivers?" Kelin asked politely.

Adric shook his head. "Not anymore. The mayor overturned the charges and agreed to allow the Professor to continue his research. Ever since, he's been like a man possessed. We used to have a few laughs, y'know, but lately he's been all work, work, work."

"Be fair, Adric, he's getting on a bit now. Probably just wants to finish his work before it's too late." Kelin drained the last of his ale, then thrust his glass down on the table in a triumphant gesture.

Adric followed suit, and both boys stood up, heading back to the bar. "I know that, it's just he's been so distant lately, not letting me in on any of the research. I'm worried."



"Professor! Professor Ethers!"

A loud voice penetrated the beautiful silence, followed by a rather loud rapping noise. Shaken out of his trance, Ethers slowly opened his eyes and checked his surroundings: He was back in his modest abode on Farpoint. How disappointing. Sighing, the elderly gentlemen stiffly rose out of his chair and moved over to the door to see what the commotion was all about. Taking a quick peak through the little view finder, the Professor sighed and opened the door to find his old friend, Padraig and his son, Kelin, carrying the prone form of a teenager who was clearly the worse for ware.

"Adric." The Professor complained wearily. "Padraig, I'm sorry that you've had to do this again. And you, Kelin. Oh dear. Please just bring him in and put him on the chair."

The two men stuggled in with Adric and did as the Professor asked. As the teenager was deposited in the chair, he slumped down, a small snore escaping from him. The Professor looked on, ashamed. "How much trouble did he get into this time?"

"Oh, Tam, there isn't anything to worry about. He was quite well-behaved, just had a bit too much ale as you can clearly see," Padraig replied.

The Professor looked down at the snoring young man. "Well, I shall be having a few words with him in the morning, that's for sure."

"I wouldn't be so hard on him, Tam. The problem around here is that there is nothing for these youngsters to do. Unless you like skiing. I had trouble enough with this one here." Padraig indicated Kelin, who just glared back incredulously.

"I wasn't that bad." Kelin finally answered.

"Oh no. What about that incident with ole' Trendleworth, the sealant and a box of Crellis fireflies?"

Kelin blushed slightly and chuckled. "Aye. But she did light up a treat, didn't she?"

Padraig chuckled and shook his head, before looking back to the Professor. "Well, Tam, we'd best be off."

"Yes of course. Thank you very much, both. I'm only sorry that this had to spoil your evening."

Seeing Padraig and Kelin out of the front door, the Professor returned to the main room and found Adric had curled up and was now dosing quite peacefully in front of the fire. Tutting, Ethers made his way into the study. At least I can get some work done.


Departing the Professor's house, Padraig and Kelin made there way down across the village square. This time of the year, like most of the year really, the ground was covered in the purest white snow, with just a few footprints and wheel marks left by coaches. As the pair travelled along, they shared a laugh and a joke as only a father and son can. However, the laughter soon died down as Kelin noticed a brilliant flash light up the night sky. For once, the skies above Tecker township were actually clear and the stars could be seen, a rarity on this frozen iceball. Kelin noticed the flash first and slapped his father on the back as he pointed up.

"Did you notice that, dad?"

Padraig began staring up at the sky in the direction that his son was pointing. "Ah, don't be daft, lad. I can't see anything."

"It was there, in the sky! There was a flash, honest." Kelin was determined that he'd convince him of the what he'd seen.

"Ah, probably just a shooting star. Quite a regular occurence, y'know. Either that, or some poor souls have fallen into the same trap our ancestors did. God bless their souls." Padraig looked wistfully up at the sky.

"I don't know." Kelin sighed uncertainly, still gazing upwards.

"Well, whatever it was, it doesn't change the fact that your mother will kill me when we get back." Padraig paused before tapping his son on the arm. "Come on, lad."


"Morning, Professor." Adric said warily as he entered the smallish kitchen.

The Professor, who was preparing a modest breakfast of bacon and eggs, turned and watched his protégé enter.

"Aha, you're awake then. Hurry up and eat your breakfast and then we can go out to the Pointed Peaks and take some readings."

"Look, I'm sorry about last night." Adric apologized sheepishly as he sat down at the table.

"Yes, well. I'll chalk it up to youthful exuberance, but it is getting to be quite an occurrence of late, young Adric." The Professor attempted to make eye contact, but Adric shied away.

"Come on, even you were young once, Professor," said Adric, still avoiding the older man's gaze as he sat down to eat .Then he dared to look up at his mentor. "Don't tell me you never indulged?"

The Professor looked thoughtful for a minute. "Yes, I suppose I did once upon a time. In fact, my old best friend and I often used to sneak out of..." The Professor's expression suddenly darkened for a second, before he shuddered and went on preparing breakfast.


After eating a hearty breakfast, Adric and the Professor got all of their apparatus together: back packs full of scanning equipment, rations and some additional warm clothing in case conditions on the Pointed Peaks were even worse than they usually were. The journey up was strangely quiet, Adric still nursing a sore head and the Professor far too busy taking some readings from the portable scanners that they had previously planted up the mountain path.

After they had been travelling and checking for a couple of hours, the Professor noticed some smoke billowing out from around a rocky outcropping. Naturally intrigued, he indicated the smoke to Adric and then set off in that direction, surprisingly sprightly for a man of his advancing years. As the pair grew nearer and nearer, Adric could make out some kind of jade-coloured box at the centre of the smoke.

"What is that, Professor? Some kind of caravan or something?" Adric asked.

"I wouldn't have thought so, my boy. No one in their right minds would go on a camping trip up here." The Professor asked, absolutely fascinated at the sight of a jade box with an elaborate Oriental roof pattern on the top. "It seems somewhat familiar, but I can't place it."

"Maybe there's someone in there, Professor. We've got to have a look." Adric ran forward, and the Professor tried to grab him and pull him back. Adric however was too quick for the old man.

Approaching the jade box, the smoke got a little thicker, but Adric pressed on, holding his left arm up to his face. Suddenly, the door at the side of the box opened and out stepped a woman. She was unlike any woman that Adric had met before: flame-haired, and from the look on her face, she had a fiery temper to match it.

Not noticing Adric, the woman looked back into the box and shouted. "Nice landing, spaceman! We've no idea where we are and it's bloody FREEZING!"

A male voice then came from inside the craft. "I can take you back to the TARDIS if you like. Toasty warm up there."

As Adric stared on in amazement, his presence was noted by the woman, who seemed surprised that someone was watching her. Her expression softening, she made her way over to Adric.

"Oh, hello. My name's Donna. What's your name sweetheart?"

Adric was aghast. "Er... erm. Adric."

"Don't be scared, Adric. I won't hurt you. Me and my friend are travellers, we just got a little lost that's all."

Before Adric could answer, the Professor had finally made his way up to the area and was just as surprised to encounter Donna as Adric was. After introductions were made, Donna made her way back into the jade box and seconds later, emerged with her friend. He didn't appear to be that much older than Adric, maybe in his third decade, but sported a dull brown pin-stripe suit underneath a lighter-coloured brown coat. Immediately upon noting Adric and the Professor, he bounded over and shook hands with them both, grinning inanely as he did so.

"Hello, I'm the Doctor. Sorry to surprise you like this, had to leave my ship in a bit of a rush. Haven't used the Jade Pagoda in years, I guess the coordinates were off a bit. And you are?" The Doctor indicated Adric.

"I'm Adric," Adric said, uncertainly.

The Doctor looked confused for a minute, deep in thought, before he finally shrugged whatever it was off, flashing him another smile before turning to the Professor.

"Now you look like a man who can help me. Professor?" He grinned in anticipation.

"Ethers. Tam Ethers. Of course, anything I can do to help you. But, tell me, Doctor, Donna. How did you get to be here on Farpoint?"

"Well, it's a long story and very cold. Is there somewhere we can go to warm up a bit? The Pagoda's not as roomy as the TARDIS." The Doctor make a show of stretching his limbs as if to indicate the confined space they'd been occupying.

The Professor stammered at the Doctor's directness. "Of course. Our home is just down there. It's humble, but we can offer you a nice cup of tea and a warm meal."

"Sounds good to me," Donna said, visibly getting more cheerful at the mention of food.

That decided the foursome headed on down the mountain.

The Doctor remained at the back of the party, wary of his surroundings and of his host. Something wasn't quite right, but he wasn't sure exactly what. He shrugged it off, and continued on his way, having no idea of just what lay ahead.

Unknown to him and beyond his control, everything was about to change...




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