We now return to the Doctor Who/Highlander crossover series!
The Resurrection of Evil
Episode Two: We Meet Again
“Time, flowing like a river
Time, beckoning me . . . .”
— “Time,” the Alan Parsons Project
With a shuddering groan, the TARDIS faded into existence, standing flush with the concrete pier of the Mendota Bridge. After a moment, the Doctor stepped out, pausing to lock the door behind him.
He looked around. The afternoon sun filtered gently through the trees. A mesmerizing hum rose from the cicadas, their pitch measuring the heat of July. Oblivious to the summer warmth, the Doctor straightened his velvet coat and began walking towards the trailhead at Fort Snelling.
–Terri will be furious, he thought. Terri Johnson was the Doctor’s latest travelling companion, a 29-year old human he’d met in Paris 1994. He had left her here in the Twin Cities to do a bit of shopping while he ran an errand for the Time Lords, an errand that he had to run alone: transporting the Master’s remains back to Gallifrey.
But the Master was a cunning old fox, and wasn’t as dead as anyone had thought. Like Morbius before him, the Master had survived disintegration. The ensuing battle had cost the Doctor a life, and nearly cost him the lives of his friends.
Now he was back to pick Terri up as promised. With the difficulties the TARDIS had been having since dropping off Grace and Lee, he supposed it was lucky there had been only a temporal displacement. Especially after that curious surge in the Vortex.
“Oh well,” he sighed, and picked up his pace. There was no chance of using the TARDIS to find Terri. He would have to find her the old-fashioned way. On foot.
Terri Johnson sat waiting on the terrace of the California Cafe, sipping at an iced tea and gazing out at the amusement park below. The restaurant was located on the third floor of the Mall of America, and its terrace was set far above the trees and spun sugar of Knott’s Camp Snoopy, the indoor amusement park. The roller coaster rumbled past. Terri smiled, watching the young people scream with unfettered joy.
–I wish I could still scream for joy, she thought. Travelling with the Doctor had changed all that. –Some things just aren’t frightening once you’ve seen a Dalek.
She sighed, wondering when her friend would arrive. After wandering the mall for a few hours, killing time before his plane flight to Seacouver, they had split up to do some independent shopping. –I hope he hasn’t gotten himself into trouble, she thought.
Terri shook her head, causing her red ponytail to catch on her collar. She flicked it back absently.
A thought struck her, and she worried about her friend even more. For her friend was Methos, a 5,000 year old Immortal who never explained himself to anyone. –What if he’s met another Immortal? Maybe he won’t be making his flight after all.
She shivered. Once, before she had met the Doctor, before she had learned what Methos really was, she had been a Watcher. She had seen the Game as something natural, as That Which Had To Be. Now it frightened her almost as much as a Dalek.
The roller coaster rumbled past again. She took another sip from her tea and closed her eyes.
She jumped, spilling tea all over her lap. “That’s the second time you’ve done that this week,” she said, standing up and wiping herself off with her napkin. When she looked up, Methos was looking at her with an apologetic look in his deep brown eyes.
“Sorry,” he said, sitting down across from her and scooping up the menu.
“So,” Terri said, sitting back down and attempting to sound casual, “what took so long?”
He looked up and shrugged. “I guess I got lost.”
“The Mall of America is a square.”
He dropped the menu. “So I got lost deliberately.”
Terri raised her eyebrow, but had no time to reply, for the waiter had arrived. After some deliberation, she chose a chicken and pasta dish. Methos picked an unusal pizza.
When the waiter had left, Terri leaned across the table and asked Methos again what had happened.
He met her gaze. She stared back, trying to gage the emotion in his eyes. But she failed.
“There’s another Immortal here.”
–Oh, crud, she thought.
“Oh, don’t worry,” Methos said. Terri bit her lip guiltily. –I didn’t know I was that transparent, she thought. “I know when to make a swift exit. I was late because I went round the long way.”
Terri found herself smiling with relief. “Sorry, Methos,” she said. “It’s just . . . I’d missed you, and now I’ve only had you back for a week. I didn’t want . . . .”
“Yes, mother,” he said. Terri felt her smile break into a broad grin and started to giggle.
When she had gotten control of herself, she said, “Well. I certainly hope you eat your vegetables and drink your milk, young man.”
This provoked another round of giggles, broken only by the arrival of their salads.
“Johnson, Johnson, Johnson . . .,” muttered the Doctor as he thumbed through a telephone book in the north lobby of the Mall of America. A pocketful of change had persuaded the city transit to take him here.
A tuft of curly brown hair fell in his eyes and he brushed it back. –Got to get used to this hair, he thought. –Maybe I’d be better off cutting it.
“Johnson, Terence; Johnson, Terrell . . . aha! Johnson, Terri!”
His face fell.
There were six Terri Johnsons in the Minneapolis area. And he had no idea where she lived or even what her middle name was. Then it occurred to him that she might not even be listed. After all, she hadn’t been in the Twin Cities for the last three years.
He checked the date on the cover. “1997. Blast,” he muttered.
Sighing, he let the book fall back into its position under the telephone machines.
“Can I help you with something?”
He turned around. A rather frumpy woman in a red, white and blue uniform was smiling helpfully at him. Her nametag read, “Betsy — Mall of America Information”
“No, I don’t think so,” he said.
“Are you sure?” she said. “You don’t sound like a native.”
He grinned. “No. And I suspect everything will look better after a cup of tea. Do you know where I might find one?”
“Well,” she said, “were you thinking of dinner as well?”
He thought about this for a moment.
“What do you suggest?”
Edward Chevalier stood on the ramparts of Fort Snelling, gazing at something down in the river valley with a pair of binoculars. A woman in shorts and a t-shirt stood next to him. The tourists bustled around them, trying to get a better look at the historical reenactors, who were about to fire the cannon.
He didn’t care. Neither did the young woman at his shoulder. Her name was Nora Levitson. She stared across at her companion and fidgeted. He frightened her.
“So,” said Edward, lowering the binoculars. “You were right; the famous Doctor is here.”
The cannon fired. Nora jumped.
“Yeah,” she said, affecting calm. “But why the interest? I mean . . . I had to look everywhere to find his Chronicle. And it’s full of apocryphal junk.”
Edward turned and grinned. “Of all people, Nora, I thought you would be the first to know.”
–Why is it, she thought, that Edward can seem so cheerful and still scare the hell out of me?
But that was a silly question. She glanced down at the circular tattoo inside her left wrist and knew the answer. –Because he’s an Immortal and I’m his Watcher. Because he can kill me. Because I’m in deep shit for helping him. And I don’t even know why I’m doing it.
A cold, hollow feeling opened up in Nora’s stomach. It wasn’t the first time. She glanced across at her Immortal companion and knew that it wasn’t going to be the last.
Terri dug into a burnt cream with all the relish of a marathon runner on his twenty-sixth mile. “Uff da,” she said.
“Now, answer me a mystery,” said Methos, who seemed to be having no trouble at all with his tiramisu.
“You want to know what ‘uff da’ means, right?” asked Terri.
“No,” said Methos, shaking his head. “I know ‘uff da.’ Although I have often wondered why you don’t sound like a character from ‘Fargo.'”
“Travel broadens the accent,” said Terri. “You know, I really should see that. I even missed it winning the Oscar.”
“Oh, that’s right,” he said, “you were still off in limbo.”
“More or less.”
“Anyway, what I was wondering . . . .” He paused a moment and stared in the space above Terri’s head. “You’ll probably think it a bit odd to hear this question from someone like me, but I’ve asked this question of many different people and never gotten a satisfactory answer.”
“Yes?” said Terri. “You’ve got my interest piqued. What can a 5,000-year old man learn from me?”
“Age isn’t everything,” he said. “But I’m curious; what is it that makes a man attractive to a woman?”
She blinked again.
“Well . . . ,” she began, then stopped. –Dear God, she thought. I hate it when guys ask me that. But Methos asking it?
She sat there, mute.
“You can close your mouth now,” he said, smirking.
“Don’t even say it,” she warned. “Okay.” She took a deep breath. “Well, most of it is a sort of je ne sais quoi, if you know what I mean.”
“Well,” she said, “what a woman looks for is . . . well . . . poise, diction, and good manners. A sort of . . . .”
She broke off. A man had just come up the escalator onto the third floor, in a straight line of sight from Terri’s seat. “. . . delicate bone structure, slender build, mid-thirties, wavy brown hair, silk cravat, and a velvet frock coat. And rather beat up shoes.”
“I beg your pardon?” Methos looked confused for a moment, then followed her gaze. “Ah.”
“Sorry,” she said, only slightly embarassed. “Just caught my eye.” Terri watched the tall stranger almost hypnotically, keyed to his every motion. Then the man turned. He looked straight at her.
“Um,” said Terri.
The distance of fifty yards seemed inconsequential. “May the earth swallow me up,” she muttered, and effected a tremendous interest in her dessert. She did not look up for fear of seeing Methos’ grin.
“Terri,” said Methos.
“Shut up,” she said.
“Ah, Terri, I think you ought to look up now.”
Reluctantly, she did. The stranger was gone. She breathed a sigh of relief.
The voice that spoke could be described as melodious, but Terri felt that such a description would fall far short of its goal. It was smooth and velvety, not unlike a good pinot noir. She looked up.
It was the handsome stranger. She looked down again. When she looked up, it was still the handsome stranger.
“Hello, Terri,” he repeated. He nodded to Methos. “And it’s good to see you again, Methos.” The tones of his voice were couched in a distinctly Liverpudlian accent.
“Um . . . .” was all that Terri could manage.
Methos was not so afflicted. “Who are you?” he asked.
The stranger smiled. The expression was like a wave breaking all at once across his placid features, washing away all hints of sorrow and pain. “No, you wouldn’t recognize me, would you?” he said. “I’m the Doctor.”
She blinked again.
“The Doctor?” said Methos. “That’s not possible. Besides, Terri thinks he’s dead.”
The stranger chuckled. “I did die. Well, sort of. But I’m a Time Lord; this is all quite normal.”
Terri regained her voice. “If you’re the Doctor, prove it.”
He scratched his head. “Hmm . . . .” He absently reached out behind him for a chair. His hand found one, which he pulled across to the table and sat on. There was a thumping noise.
“Hey!” A woman stood up, affronted. “My purse was on that!”
The stranger stood up hastily, scooped the purse up from the floor, and returned it to the woman. “I do apologize. Allow me to introduce myself: I’m the Doctor.” He bowed.
“Oh,” said the woman. She seemed quite flustered all of a sudden. “Well . . . thanks.” She took her purse and sat back down at her table.
The Doctor turned and sat back down between Terri and Methos. He frowned. “Now, where was I . . . .”
Terri was laughing helplessly. On an abstract level, she knew she should be annoyed with his tardiness, but she was laughing too hard to care. “Don’t worry, Doctor,” she said. “I think you’ve established your credentials.”
“But you still haven’t explained your appearance,” said Methos.
“Well, it’s a long story,” began the Doctor. “It all has to do with Gallifrey, and the Time Lords’ mission . . . .”
“All is ready,” said Edward, watching the sun as it sank over the cars on the roof of the Mall of America parking ramp. With a smooth motion, he hoisted himself up onto the ledge, ignoring the seventy-foot drop. “The players for my final act are assembled, and nothing can stop me now.”
“Um,” said Nora.
“Yes?” Edward turned to face her. She had been very helpful in the past two months, ever since the change that had brought his new state of mind. It would not do to damage her. Not yet.
“I asked around about the Doctor,” she said, “and nobody’s seen him.”
“Never mind,” said Edward. “The Doctor is not important. One Immortal or another; it makes no difference.”
Nora fidgeted. Edward hated that; he wished she would just for once stand still. “But there aren’t any others left here.”
His lips curled upwards. “There is one other here. I felt him.”
Edward smiled at Nora for a moment. Then he threw back his head and laughed at the sky and at any gods that might be listening. The laugh rang off the concrete walls of the Mall and billowed up into the darkening sky.
He didn’t know who the Immortal was. He didn’t care, either.
–What does one Immortal matter, more or less?
He stopped laughing and stared out at the distant skyline of Minneapolis. A smile more sickening than his laugh crept across his features.
–After tomorrow, what will any life matter, more or less?
Beside him, Nora shivered. It was eighty degrees and humid. But she couldn’t shake the cold that lay upon her heart.