When last we left our heroes, Methos had been abducted by a group of humans working for the Daleks, and the Doctor found a strange native boy named Iktha, here on this planet that should be totally uninhabited. But Methos is in for still more surprises….. As always, if you’re just joining us now, I highly recommend starting at the beginning.
THE SHADOW OF THE DALEKS
EPISODE FOUR: Ulterior Motives
The sullen gray skies of Riga 3 slowly dimmed as its sun, Riga, sank behind the distant horizon. It was nearly night when the Doctor and Iktha reached the settlement. It was a collection of twenty simple earthen huts, made of sod cut from the grasslands and roofed over with a complicated thatch that didn’t simply lie across the roof beams, but which seemed to have been woven tightly into layers of matting and insulation.
Iktha had followed the ravine to find his way back to the settlement, cheerfully beckoning for the Doctor to follow whenever the Time Lord paused for breath. –Children, thought the Time Lord. –Always full of such wonderful, boundless energy.
It was the joy of timelessness, he supposed. Children were too young to have a good idea of time, and thus any measure of time longer than a day could seem like forever. Plenty of time to rest later. Right now, the moment needed to be enjoyed.
The Doctor chuckled lightly as he surveyed the village. According to Iktha, these people were called “Tolloc,” and they were the indigenous people of Riga 3, although they had no name for their world and therefore called it nothing more complicated than “here.” But the Doctor felt that there was something missing. This world did not have the resources for a race as highly evolved as the Tolloc to have come into being. No, the Doctor felt they came from somewhere else originally.
There was something about Riga 3, something the Doctor should have remembered…. He dismissed the thought. If it was important, the information would surface later on. If it didn’t, he would take the situation as it came and everything would work out in the end. It always did.
And anyway, it was more important that the Doctor find out if these people knew where Methos was.
The Doctor looked around for Iktha. The boy was standing well inside the boundaries of the settlement, beckoning to the Doctor. The Time Lord entered and followed Iktha to the clearing in the center of the loose collection of huts. Still there were no other Tolloc present.
In the center stood a large stone table, obviously quite old. Probably made well over a thousand years before, the Doctor realized. That would imply that the Tolloc had been living in this spot for at least that long. He wondered where the rest of their race was; no race this small could survive that many generations without suffering some serious inbreeding problems. And Iktha seemed too healthy for those sorts of conditions.
As Iktha approached the table, he dropped much of his youthful excitement. The energy was still there, the Doctor could tell, but now he was moving with a great deal more respect. Perhaps this was the altar of the Tolloc deity, or some other structure of religious significance.
Iktha picked something up off of the altar and turned, holding the object close between his hands. “People of the Tolloc!” he called out. “Iktha has returned! It is Time!”
The Doctor became aware of movement coming from the huts around the village. The Tolloc were emerging. They were dressed much the same as Iktha. There were men, women, children, and three very elderly individuals, two men and a woman. The Doctor estimated that there were thirty four people surrounding the altar now. Including Iktha, that made the Tolloc number thirty five. They all appeared calm and relaxed, but the Doctor could sense a background hum of energy behind their cool disposition. They were clearly anticipating whatever it was that Iktha had to say.
Curious, the Doctor turned to face Iktha once more. The boy smiled at him and then opened his hands to show the object he was holding.
The Doctor’s hearts skipped a beat.
“The Shadow Walker has come to the Tolloc,” said Iktha, as he raised the carved bone knife and pointed it at the twilight sky far above.
“So,” said Kallan, “what brings you to the Riga System?”
Methos was sitting in Kallan’s office, watching Kallan warily as he leaned back in a deep, comfortable chair. Methos had been given a similarily comfortable chair, but he refused to allow his guard to drop. The two of them were quite alone, and the ancient Immortal was acutely aware of the fact that he did not have his sword. It had been taken from him along with his coat and until now he hadn’t been sure how to ask for it back.
“Mister Pierson…or may I call you Adam?”
Methos allowed a grin to curl the corners of his mouth. –Time for the poker face, he thought. “Please do,” he said. “You may not believe me, but I came here by accident.”
Kallan chuckled. “You’re right, Adam. I don’t believe you.”
Methos brought his eyebrows together in a perfect blend of innocence, confusion, and wounded pride. “What don’t you believe?”
The other Immortal leaned across his desk suddenly, looking Methos right in the eyes. There was a strange glint there that Methos could not read. “I think you came here for much the same reason I did.”
Methos cocked his head to one side. “Why would you think that? I’m not an explorer, nor am I particularily interested in scientific research.”
Kallan was grinning widely. “Is that so? Well, would it help if I explained just what I’m doing here? Perhaps then you’ll trust me.” Kallan laughed loudly. “I mean, it’s not as if I want your head.”
Methos allowed the jovial poker face to drop a little into total seriousness. “Even so, I’d still like my sword back. Call it insurance.”
“Ah yes,” said Kallan. “I apologize; I was being remiss. We’ll get your things back to you in just a few minutes. I’d like to give you a tour of the facility.”
Curious, Methos turned his head to one side. “Facility? Just what are you studying on this research mission? I was under the impression that Riga 3 was unpopulated. I mean, you certainly aren’t here for the view.”
Kallan tipped his head to acknowledge that Methos had a point. “True. But Riga 3 is not unpopulated. It’s populated by a very small group of humanoids. They’re called the Tolloc.” Kallan’s eyes glittered. “My employers want the Tolloc for a very specific purpose. But that’s not why I’m researching them. I believe they hold the key to a very old question, a question that is of great importance to me.”
Kallan leaned forward again. “I think that question is of great importance to you too, Adam. If you came here for the same reason, we can either work together, or not. Once I’ve shown you what the Tolloc have to offer us, I think you’ll want to cooperate. Are you interested?”
Methos smiled. “I’ll tell you when I’ve seen it.”
Kallan leaned back again and regarded Methos carefully. “Of course, if you don’t want to cooperate, I might just take your head.”
The Doctor stared apprehensively at the bone knife Iktha had raised into the air. But, much to his relief, the boy did not seem to see it as a weapon. Iktha reverently lowered the knife, turned it so he was holding the blade, and handed it to the Doctor.
“Take this, Shadow Walker,” he said. His voice was surprisingly soft and gentle. There was also a curious maturity to it, which led the Doctor to wonder just what Iktha’s position was in Tolloc society. Was he some sort of religious figure like the Dalai Lama, raised from early childhood to symbolize the spirituality of these people?
“Take,” said Iktha again, holding the knife out. The Doctor grasped the handle and Iktha gently withdrew his hands. “You are now friend to the Tolloc.”
“I’m flattered,” said the Doctor, smiling politely, “but I’m afraid I don’t understand.”
“I am Iktha,” said the boy as if that answered everything. He gazed up at the Doctor, the height difference seeming irrelevant as he met the Time Lord’s eyes with total understanding. “I am the Watcher of the Tolloc.”
“But what do you watch?”
Iktha smiled. “Dreams.”
The boy laughed, a light and joyful sound that was neither condescending nor derisive. Then he laughed again, and this time his voice was full of childish energy once more. The Doctor looked around at the assembled Tolloc and saw that they too were smiling. Iktha stopped laughing and the Doctor turned to look at him once more. “Iktha, whose dreams do you watch?”
The boy’s eyes twinkled merrily, but he did not answer.
“Did you hear about the newcomer?” asked Savrek. He was visiting Vorna in her quarters again, although this time he was the one looking out the window, wishing he were out there instead of trapped in this steel box of a research station.
“Of course I did,” snapped Vorna. “I was the one who unloaded him from the drone.”
“Yes,” said Savrek, “but do you know what happened after that?”
Vorna sighed. She knew that the stranger was being shown around the facility by Leader Kallan, and that no security precautions had been taken. But she had bitten her tongue and not raised her complaints to Leader Kallan. And she certainly hadn’t mentioned it to Communicator Tosk. Kallan’s startling disobedience of the security protocols would only aggravate the customers. And if the customers were aggravated, they might call off the project altogether. If there was one thing Vorna hated, it was to leave a project unfinished.
She said none of this to Savrek. Instead, she raised weary eyes to meet his irritated gaze and gently shook her head. “I know he’s been given the run of the place, but I haven’t been following the situation. I’ve had other things to do.”
“Really,” said Savrek, unconvinced.
“Really!” she replied. “I’ve been going through the notes on Tolloc rituals. It seems to me their work in the past year has been very different than what we observed before, but I want to establish precisely what that difference is before I bring it before the team.”
“Well,” said Savrek, ignoring everything Vorna had said, “you’ll be surprised to hear that not only has the newcomer been given the run of the place, but he’s also been given his belongings back.”
“What?!” Vorna snapped to full attention. “Including that ridiculously huge blade we found on him?”
“Yes,” replied Savrek.
“So now we’ve got an armed intruder wandering about the facility, with no security clearance or escort?”
“Well, Kallan is with him right now.”
Vorna shook her head. After the interminable slowness of the first six years, things were suddenly moving very quickly. Either Kallan had inexplicably gone mad, or Communicator Tosk was right — there was an ulterior motive at work. “Tosk will burst an artery when he hears about this.”
“Already did,” said Savrek. “I told him before I came to visit you.”
Vorna’s eyebrows shot up. “Savrek, are you sure that was neccesary?”
“Well, it’s a security issue, and I thought….”
“The first thing Tosk will do is contact the Daleks. And unless he can give them a full explanation, they’ll send an investigative team. And you realize what that will mean.”
“Yes,” said Savrek. “It means that someone will finally shut that bastard Kallan up. I’m sick and tired….”
“Stuff it, Savrek!” Vorna glared at him. “I know you want to get home, but you haven’t worked with the Daleks before. If something is wrong here, they’ll abandon the project altogether. And they may decide to kill us all first.”
He scoffed. “I cannot believe they’d do a silly, pointless thing like that. I’ve worked for military groups before. They never waste lives if those lives could potentially be useful.”
Vorna gave him a good long look before responding. “Savrek, the Daleks are the most spiteful, impulsive creatures I’ve ever worked for. They’re not just another military group. They’re psychotic. If they come to Riga 3 to investigate our apparent failure, there’s a good chance we’ll end up dead.”
“So why work for them if they’re so insane?”
Vorna shook her head sharply. “It’s a long story and I’m really not in the mood. And anyway, we need to find out what’s happening with the newcomer.”
“What do you suppose the Daleks will do with him?” asked Savrek.
“For his sake, let’s hope we don’t have to find out.”
Methos was being led through the brushed steel corridors of the Finder station. Kallan had asked him questions about relatively trivial matters, but fortunately nothing had been very difficult to answer. He had successfully skirted the questions about where he was from and where he was going; strangely, Kallan did not seem interested in Methos’ past. Only in securing his cooperation. He had even returned Methos’ sword to him.
“So,” said Methos, attempting to shift the conversation away from himself, “just who are your employers?”
“You’ve probably heard of them,” said Kallan, “but they’re not as bad as most people think. They’re the Daleks, and they’re in a very difficult position right now.”
“Well, their war with the Movellans has been going very badly,” explained Kallan. Methos exercised the wisdom of his centuries and decided to forgo the question of what Movellans were. “As you know, they’ve been trapped in a stalemate for quite a long time. They’re desperate for a solution.”
“I can see where they would be,” said Methos. He wondered what sort of war could produce such a longterm stalemate in the future, when weapons of mass destruction were surely far more powerful than at the close of the Second Millenium. It didn’t sound anything like the Hundred Years War.
“The past few decades, they’ve been hacking one another’s battle computers,” said Kallan. “So naturally the next move was to develop a computer the Movellans couldn’t break into. Or, at the very least, a completely secure data storage device.”
“Good idea,” said Methos. So computers were still around in two thousand years…. Interesting. And they seemed to have the same security issues as in the twentieth century.
“The Daleks hired me when I brought forth the notion of a purely organic data storage system. I knew already that I could get the components for this system on Riga 3.”
“But how?” asked Methos.
Kallan stopped. They had reached what looked like a lift. The doors opened smoothly and Kallan stepped in. Methos followed. “When I contacted the Daleks, I was the only person in the Universe who knew the truth of Riga 3. In 2498, a colony ship bound for the Riga system was lost.” Kallan pressed a button and the lift began descending. “It was believed destroyed. Its final message was an automated warning announcing that all life support for the colonists in suspended animation had failed.” The lift stopped and its doors opened. “I suspected that the ship had crash landed on one of the planets in this system. When I reached Riga 3 in the initial scouting mission, I discovered that my suspicions were correct. The colony ship had come down on the surface of this planet.”
“So?” said Methos. “I still don’t see how a ship full of dead colonists could populate this world. Or did their livestock survive the journey?”
Kallan chuckled. “You really have no idea, have you, Adam?” Methos shrugged. “Very well. Follow me.” He set off down another corridor. “The colonists were not actually dead; they only seemed to be.”
“Ah,” said Methos, understanding. “So the ship reported home incorrectly?”
“Not exactly,” replied Kallan. He stopped outside a pair of double doors. “The ship reported home perfectly. But there was something the authorities back on Earth weren’t counting on. For one thing, there was a massive invasion of the planet Earth. They weren’t able send the second mission that was supposed to follow, once basic terraforming was complete. The original colonists did not die in the crash, and no one was ever able to discover the fact.”
“Are you telling me there are humans on this planet?” asked Methos.
“Yes,” said Kallan. “They call themselves the Tolloc. But they’re not ordinary humans. For one thing, they are powerful telepaths. The plan I gave the Daleks was to adapt their shared minds for use as an organic data store that only particular organic brains, such as those of specially modified Kaled mutants, could access.” Kallan pressed a key to a panel beside the door and Methos heard a faint click as it unlocked.
“This *was* the plan?” asked Methos, mildly disappointed that the door was locked by so primitive a method. He had expected a little more out of the 44th Century.
Kallan grinned at Methos. “That’s what the Daleks think we’re working for. I’ve got something quite different in mind.” Kallan put his hand on the door. The grin on his face was becoming quite disturbing. “In this room is a Tolloc woman. Once you see her, you’ll know why I’m interested in them.”
The Immortal Finder pushed the door open. Methos walked through it. And just as Kallan had promised, he knew exactly what was special about the Tolloc. The rushing, whirling sensation at the base of his skull was a dead giveaway.
The woman sitting on a cot at the far side of the room looked up and met his eye. She smiled. “I am Nala,” she said, “Librarian of the Tolloc.”
Methos blinked. He turned to Kallan. “Yes,” said the other man, quietly. “She is one of us. But she knows nothing of the Game.”
“Nothing?” asked Methos, astonished.
“Nothing,” repeated Kallan.
“So let me guess,” said Methos, “she became Immortal sometime after the colony was first founded, and is now the primary keeper of information for the colonies’ descendants?”
Kallan shook his head. “No.”
“What, then? And why are you so interested in the Tolloc other than Nala?”
“They are all like her.”
Methos’ eyes widened. “You mean….”
“Yes. The Tolloc are all Immortal, every one of them. They became Immortal when the colony ship’s life support systems failed, and they have lived with no knowledge of the Game for nearly two thousand years.”