On reaching the mound, the Doctor bent down to investigate further. He reached out, gently removed a portion of the rubble from the mound and held it to his nose to verify the smell. “Definitely weaponry residue,” he decided, “but from where and by whom?” The rubble was hard, as expected of the remains of a stone artefact, but it had the polished feel of an igneous rock, not weathered or eroded at all. This polished feel of the rock indicated to him that some very high and intensive heat had been applied to this site. Together with the residue smell, this indicated that the weaponry had actually been centred at this site, rather than the site just being the target of the onslaught. Lack of weathering of the “polished” rubble indicated that this had taken place quite recently too. The Doctor stood up and automatically placed the piece of rubble in one of the outer pockets of his leather jacket for later analysis in the TARDIS. He let out an audible sigh and said aloud, “Why here – in such a tranquil place of peace?”
Thinking he had better check if there were any traces remaining of the ion generation that this place was renowned for, the Doctor reached into one of his inner jacket pockets for his sonic screwdriver. Turning it on, with a wide field positive ion detection setting, he hoped for that faint whirring sound that would indicate the presence of positive ion generation. There was no sound. The positive ion generation was apparently dead. In many ways, this indicated both an environmental and a mechanical disaster, as the source of the ions was natural, albeit harnessed and channelled at this site from a central mechanism. Although this was rather what he had expected to have happened, he had been vainly hoping that for once he was going to be proved wrong. However, there were other sources of positive ion generation on this planet – but to detect those he would need the services of the TARDIS database and its stronger ion detection sensors.
The Doctor replaced the sonic screwdriver in his inner jacket pocket – so much better than in outer pockets where it could become damaged or lost if he were involved in some altercation which was more physical than expected. As he turned to slowly head back to the TARDIS, so that he could analyse the rubble, its fate and to verify existence of the ions with the assistance of the TARDIS database and sensors, he started to think about all he knew of the history and situation of this beautiful place.
The area surrounding the ruined archway had always been the strongest site of positive ions on the planet. Some entrepreneur from long ago had realised that these ions could be concentrated into a source for the benefit of passing wayfarers and had designed and developed the mechanism for channelling these ions into various outlets around the planet. This place always had the strongest proliferation of these ions, so the entrepreneur developed a more ornate than usual extrusion of the mechanism at this point. Whether this individual had actually seen medieval ruins on Earth or, more likely, had just had an appreciation of beauty of structure which resulted in a similar look, the Doctor did not know. What he did know was that the concentrated strength of the ions at this point, together with the beauty of the archway and its surrounding countryside, had led one of the galaxy’s most well-known poets and novelists to nickname the area the Eye of Orion – the haven of peace amidst the surrounding winds of destruction. The poet cum novelist had reported it back to some of his cronies at home – how and where, the Doctor could not remember – but he did recall that it was taken up by the local tour guides in their advertising and led to this place becoming a magnet for travellers. A visitor may arrive weary and even battle-sore, but always left feeling invigorated and renewed. At least that was what he had always found in his experience.
The Doctor reached the TARDIS doors and was just about to take out the TARDIS key from his inner pocket when a non-descript, but definitely military-sounding, voice spoke, quite close to, but behind him. “You are under arrest. Drop any weapons you have, now!” There was a pause, before the voice continued, “Turn around, slowly, with your hands behind your head.”
There was something about the voice which seemed to the Doctor unlikely to accept refusal or argument. He placed his hands behind his head and carefully turned around, as instructed, so glad that the TARDIS doors had not been opened. There was nobody there. The Doctor mentally corrected himself – there was apparently nobody there. Hundreds of years of experience had taught him never to assume the obvious.
“Where are you?” the Doctor asked, with a broad grin spreading across his striking features. He always operated on the assumption that if he flashed a cheeky, but friendly, smile at someone they were less likely to immediately want to either cut or shoot his head off. Mostly it worked. Although there had been those occasions when the aggressor had been very determined, so he had been forced to use more direct methods…..
“Here!” the voice responded crisply. Simultaneously to hearing the voice, the Doctor felt a sharp burning feeling behind his left ear, rather like someone stabbing one of his nerve endings with a hot razor blade. It was all he could do just to prevent himself from crying out in pain. However, there was never even a remote possibility that he was going to display his feelings or weaknesses to a potential foe. He was the last of the Time Lords and still recovering from his regeneration, but that did not mean he was easy prey for the first aggressor to cross his path since the demise of Gallifrey – particularly one who was not prepared to show itself openly to him.
“I’ll come quietly, but I don’t relate very well to disembodied voices,” the Doctor continued, with an apparent calmness he was very far from feeling. He was just starting to feel ever so slightly angry and irritated. “It’s so much easier when I can see who I’m being arrested by.” There was no response from the voice, but the unmistakeable feeling of a transmat beam drawing him away and separating him from the TARDIS…..
(* To be continued….. *)