Author's note: The Androgums were created by Robert Holmes in the classic Doctor Who episode The Two Doctors.
Author's Note: The Androgum were a very nasty lot. There is nothing explicit in this story but there is implied graphic violence. Just an extra cautionary note.
"Doctor, we are definitely NOT at Madame Vastra's," Clara Oswald announced as she stepped outside into a gloomy, windy day. They were in the midst of some rocky outcroppings, surrounded by a few stubborn scrubby plants. A small stream ran nearby, giving the area an appearance of sweet, if bleak, serenity. It also made the temperature seem colder than it was.
"Know that already, Clara," an irritated voice came from inside the Tardis.
"Well, I'm just sayin', you might want to recheck your navigation. Recalculate, as it were." Clara said smugly. She tightened her short jacket; these Victorian clothes were long on bulk but surprisingly offered little resistance to the biting wind.
The Doctor came outside, wearing his usual ensemble, white shirt, vest, dark pants and red lined jacket, seemingly impervious to the cold. "We're on the moors of Dartmoor, looks like. Right time period though," he added, trying to salvage something of his dignity. He just knew his companion would have some sharp remark to make.
"We are so not going to walk to London, I hope?" Clara asked tartly.
Eyes scanning the landscape, the Doctor appeared distracted or hoped Clara would think him too involved to debate the issue. Therefore, he ignored her and brought out the sonic screwdriver to take readings.
Clara huffed. "You can pretend I'm not here if you like but I'm going to keep talking until I get an answer. How are we going to get to London, now that you've missed?"
The Doctor gave her a disdainful look. "I did not 'miss'. Sometimes the old girl takes it upon herself to direct where I should go. The Tardis hasn't done that in a while but I'm beginning to think this is one of these times."
"Yeeeah, sure, the Tardis did this." Clara scoffed. She couldn't help teasing him.
The Doctor looked long suffering. "Well, if we walk, you'd better change your shoes. Mini stilts are not needed for this. Now do I get some silence, so I can work this out?" Irritation flashed across his face.
Clara threw up her hands. "Fine, okay, know when I'm not wanted."
Rolling his eyes, the Doctor said, "That will be the day, Clara Oswald." Checking the readings of the sonic screwdriver, he made a show of being in Deep Thought.
"I'll just go look round then," Clara said haughtily. "Unless you'd like me to stay and-"
"No." The Doctor didn't even look up.
Clara shrugged. "Whatever. Going now. In my vastly inappropriate shoes."
Turning to stomp off, she suddenly stopped. Out of the proverbial nowhere, there suddenly appeared a group of the most imposing beings Clara had ever seen in her well-traveled life. They looked huge, all well over six feet tall at least and wearing leather like garments, adorned with various knives and blades. The group, about eighteen to twenty strong, stared at her, almost hungrily, Clara realized uneasily. They were humanoid, had orange eyebrows and something like huge moles on their faces. In today's age of political correctness, it wasn't cool to be judgmental but this…..
"Um, Doctor," she said warningly.
"Not now, Clara," the Doctor said, thoroughly absorbed the sonic's readings.
Clara grabbed his arm and turned him toward the newcomers. "Yes, right now."
The Doctor looked up and his look turned to distaste, with even a small hint of fear. "Oh no."
DW DW DW
"They are the Androgum," the Doctor said, while crowded into a small mobile cage their captors had evidently brought with them. They had been marched a considerable distance from where they landed, Clara lamenting more and more her choice of shoes. She was jammed up next to the Doctor, as the cage was filled with nine other local inhabitants.
"Figures," one elderly man said, "bloody foreigners."
A woman, perhaps his wife, was nearly hysterical. "They've come to kill us all!"
Clara waited for the Doctor to dispute that or offer some sort of reassurance. When he didn't, not even in his own abrupt way, she became very, very worried.
"Doctor," she asked urgently, "is that right?"
He rolled his eyes around to indicate they were hardly alone, everyone in the cage could hear his answer. Finally, he said reluctantly, "They have a history."
"Oh. Great." Clara thought quickly. "With you?"
The Doctor sighed; he would have liked to run his hands through his hair but there was literally no room to move. "Yes. We've met. Twice."
"And?" Clara prompted. She would have liked to take a step back, just to see his expression more clearly. Right now it was like she was wedged underneath his chin.
The Doctor almost shrugged. "I prevailed. Just barely."
Clara wasn't going to let him get away with being evasive, not this time. "Doctor, what are they? What do they want here?" She insisted.
The Doctor finally met her eyes. "Androgums live to eat, Clara. And they are not picky eaters."
Clara stared at him, wanting to hear more and, in other ways, dreading what else the Doctor might say. The other captives stirred uneasily and the Doctor surreptitiously reached for his sonic screwdriver. He could get them out of the cage easily enough but the problem was there was nowhere to run after they were free. The Androgum guards were very attentive and looked … famished.
DW DW DW
A short while later, the Androgum took four people from the crowded cage.
Normally, this would have been cause for some happiness; at least Clara was no longer almost standing on the Doctor's feet. (On the other hand, she missed being that close; she was warm crammed into his chest.) But it was seeing their fellow captives herded into another cage, even smaller, that disturbed her greatly.
"Wait a minute," the Doctor said with that kind of take charge attitude that worked so many times for him no matter what the situation. He waved his hands through the bars. "We need to talk. And now would be an excellent time."
One male Androgum gave him a disdainful look. "No talk. Feast. We have gone wanting for too long."
"You see, that's where you're wrong," the Doctor breezed on, seemingly oblivious to the threatening atmosphere. "You don't belong on this planet. Obviously you're here by mistake. Let me get that corrected for you and you go back to, well, wherever you gluttons hang out these days."
"Keep talking and you can join them," a young female snarled, pointing to the other captives. She continued sharpening her knife.
The other Androgum turned away and the Doctor finally used the sonic screwdriver on the door, quickly pulling it open. Clara wasn't sure of the wisdom of this, especially when he called their captors attention to it. "Look, I really don't like it when people walk off when I'm talking. I mean, it's fine if I do it to you, because you really don't know anything anyway, outside of a buffet. But when I have something to say, you should-"
Clara, who had followed him out the door, screamed a warning when an Androgum came from behind some rocks, unseen to the Doctor. The alien smashed a piece of something metallic he'd picked up nearby across the Doctor's shoulders. Then he landed a second blow alongside the Time Lord's head. The Doctor crashed to his knees and fell to one side. The sonic screwdriver fell to the ground beside him.
The others inside the cage made a break for freedom, only to be clubbed down in the same brutal way by nearby Androgum rushing over.
Clara quickly snatched up the sonic and put it in her pocket while moving to the Doctor's side. There was a vivid, ugly red mark on the side of his face and he looked stunned. To Clara, his eyes already appeared a bit glassy.
"Ohan! I did not give you permission to leave your duties. You are not called to feast. Get these prisoners back inside instantly!" An older male called angrily. "You were to be guarding these beings. They must not injure themselves; it mars the taste."
The young male looked stricken. "Yes, Leader. I crave your pardon. May all of my food spoil into eternity for my error."
The stern male called Leader looked unimpressed. "That is not enough. You will not feast tonight with the others. You will remain here, to do the duty you failed in miserably."
The younger Androgum looked crushed. He roughly slung the dazed Doctor back into the cage, Clara following quickly. She still got a hard shove in the back though and fell on top of the Doctor. The others were herded in behind them.
By the other cage, the remainder of the Androgum produced several kinds of wicked blades and hooked implements that all looked razor sharp in addition to their other assorted knives. They surrounded the cage and looked very bloodthirsty to Clara's eyes. They also talked incessantly of cooking and seasoning.
Rising, she knelt next to her friend. The Doctor was groggy but coherent. "Please tell me they aren't going to do what I think they will?" Clara asked worriedly.
Her companion did not add a false sense of security. The Doctor said in a near whisper, "Their motto is 'the gratification of pleasure is the sole motive of action.' I expect they are getting ready to please themselves." The Doctor got to his feet with her assistance, and shouted, "Hey! I still think we need to talk. I can help you; I've done it before." Wincing, he put a hand to his head. Evidently shouting was not what the Doctor needed right now.
"Have you really helped them?" Clara asked softly. Somehow she couldn't quite see the Doctor assisting these people, even though he had a long, varied history with other aliens.
The Doctor flashed a shark like smile. "Like I said, Clara, defeated them, more like. Hopefully this lot will be unaware of that fact."
Several heads turned over to them but no one wanted to lose their place at the cage. The largest male, the one who called himself Leader, barked an order. Blades and hooks were raised, to the sheer terror of those locked inside, unable to move.
Leader barked another order and a frenzied hacking began.
Clara found herself spun around and her face held against the Doctor's chest. "Don't look. There's nothing we can do for them," he said urgently.
Perversely, Clara turned for a peek and then rapidly buried her face in the Doctor's white shirt. Blood sprayed everywhere, combined with the screams of the victims and the delighted laughter of the Androgum. There was a sickly sweet smell in the air; partly the coppery smell of blood and partly something else, a smoke of some kind. She felt the Doctor's arms tighten around her. The others in their cage turned away in horror and covered their eyes.
An eternity later, it was mercifully silent again.
Clara risked another look; an oily smoke filled the cage now swinging over a small fire. Nothing remained of the victims, nothing that she could see that is, which was probably a mercy. Androgums chattered happily beside it, seemingly taste testing.
A tall, aloof female of the Androgum who had been in close consultation with Leader during the feasting, finally approached their cage and pointed at the Doctor. "Bring him," she grunted.
"What? No!" Clara was panic stricken and clutched the Doctor closer.
"Keep it together, Clara," the Doctor instructed in a low voice. He addressed the Androgum. "Look, instead of having another mass killing, we need to talk. I could probably help you if I knew what the problem was."
"I am called Engineer," the tall woman said. She held what seemed to be some sort of recorder. "Your scan indicates you are not of this planet." She gestured to the others. "Get him out!"
"Doctor," Clara said warningly. She turned her body so Engineer could not see her slip the sonic screwdriver back in his pocket.
"Maybe I can make some sort of bargain with them. At least find out what their problem is and why they are here," the Doctor replied, but even his tone lacked conviction.
The Androgum opened the cage door and a fellow captive, a young man frightened out of his wits, darted out, running for freedom. Clara watched as a male ran over and effortlessly clubbed the young man down. The Androgum produced a huge, multi bladed knife, which he raised briefly the air, before slamming down into the young man's chest. The alien twisted the knife. Clara turned away before she saw the rest.
The other Androgum roughly manhandled the Doctor out, much to her distress.
"Doctor!" Clara yelled, acutely aware of how helpless they both were in this situation. She wanted to scream, 'don't take him' but that would be pointless. A colossal loss of control without benefit.
"Don't panic," the Doctor ordered, as he was marched off to where the Leader sat nearby, with the Engineer and a guard walking beside the Time Lord. The Engineer was a good five inches taller than he was and the guard even taller.
"I can't find any good reason not to panic," Clara whispered, watching helplessly.
The Doctor disappeared into the rocks where Leader had moved, being served by the others, it seemed. Evidently the Leader only would only partake of the choice bits. The Androgum guard and Engineer stayed close behind the Time Lord the entire way.
DW DW DW
Facing a circle of hostile faces, the Doctor knew the odds were against him. Naturally, he chose the strategy he always did: full steam ahead.
"I am really curious as to how you got here," he said briskly, ignoring the disdain on Leader's face and the contented gluttons around him. "Time travel is not in the Androgum playbook; piloting a spaceship isn't either. So why are you here?"
"Time Lords have always coveted time travel to themselves. Our great leader Chessene thirsted for the knowledge of the Time Lords and she was cruelly struck down. Since the demise of Gallifrey however; such knowledge is more readily available, particularly on the frontier rim." Engineer informed him, while fiddling with her scanner.
"Oh, I'll bet that's quality stuff then," the Doctor scoffed. Inwardly, he winced. This lot knew of Chessene?
"We do not answer to you," Leader replied with some heat. "Our ship brought us to this planet and this time. We have sampled the local cuisine and find it pleasing to our tastes. We may stay. Our scans indicate this world has a nearly unlimited food supply, of many different species."
The Doctor sighed, glancing up to the darkening sky, where the first stars could be seen. He belonged up there. But there was always something else in the way. "I'm sorry; you cannot stay here."
Leader shrugged. "We cannot leave now in any event; our ship has malfunctioned. Our time chronometer has failed to activate. But we Androgum are a hardy race; we shall flourish here on this primitive planet."
"Look, I can help you with that," the Doctor said urgently, waving his hands. "Let me take a look; I can probably cobble something together that will allow you to leave. At any rate, you cannot keep on killing the local inhabitants. The authorities really do frown on that here, you know."
Engineer, who had been studiously working with her scanner, walked closer to Leader and wordlessly held out the device for him to see. Then they both turned to the Doctor, hatred in their eyes.
"Seize him," Leader snapped.
DW DW DW
Darkness fell and later two Androgum brought in three more captives. A terrified young couple and an old woman who kept talking of dark spirits and witches.
Clara spent her time looking for the Doctor but they had taken him out of sight. She had finally noticed in the rocks a short distance away a very alien spaceship, looking like it was about to be scrapped by the exterior at least. Pitted and blackened, it was in desperate shape and she now knew where the guard had gotten that chunk of metal he'd used on the Doctor earlier.
She was exhausted but there was no room to sit in the cage and Clara declined to lean against any of her companions, all of whom looked upon her with acute distrust, assuming she was aristocracy and therefore responsible.
The long wait came to end at dawn.
First, the Androgum took the four more out of the cage, pointedly skipping over Clara, and marched them to the gory looking cage of the slaughter. They sharpened their knives or iron hooks, exulting over their good fortune. The attack began. She gathered by the remarks that the Androgum were starved for fresh food from a long journey in space and weren't standing on ceremony, to the sorrow of some of the group, who wanted proper preparation time.
Clara tried to turn away but some perverse compulsion kept her watching with road accident fascination until later a member of the Androgum relit some ceremonial smoke pots and the cage was swung over the flames once again. Clara kept staring, for the indelible images of violent death were now seared into her soul, while the Androgum feasted happily.
She choked from the smoke that now drifted into their cage, wondering when her time would come. More importantly though, was her acute fear for the Doctor's safety. What was happening? What had they done with him? With any sort of rational race, she would bet he could talk his way out of danger or at least stop the insane killing. But the Androgum did not seem rational in the least.
Suddenly, shouting and sounds of a dispute erupted after the latest feast. 'Maybe it's not him. Maybe they just got into a fight of their own,' Clara thought wildly. But of course, it was him. She could finally see the tops of heads over the rocks and, not for the first time, she wished she was taller.
"You are responsible for the deaths of Chessene and Shockeye, of the ancient clan Quanzine Grig. You will pay with your life!" The Leader shouted, his voice carrying while he deliberately incited the other Androgum to a killing rage. The aliens, it seemed, were capable of getting emotional over other things rather than just food.
One of the elder Androgum however, was not impressed. "He's far too skinny to make a good meal!" He yelled. "Such a meager offering would shame my table."
"If you had a table," the Doctor shot back. "Instead, it looks like feeding time for sharks here. Whatever happened to the great chefs of the universe?" He glared fiercely as the Androgum taunted him.
"He's killed clan members, he doesn't deserve the honor of feeding us," one young Androgum male opined, posturing to the obvious admiration of a young female, who licked her lips contently.
Amidst much jeering and cursing, the Doctor was led away to the clearing, his hands bound behind him. True to form, he was still yelling at both the Leader and Engineer, until one of the executioners darted out from alongside the gruesome cage, a four bladed knife in hand.
He looked at Leader, who nodded benignly. The young Androgum plunged his knife into the Doctor's side.
"Death to all enemies of the Androgum!" Leader shouted, raising his arm. The others roared their approval.
Clara screamed and pushed up to the bars, reaching through them futilely.
The Doctor staggered and fell to one knee. The other Androgum rushed to roughly pick him up and shove him into the execution cage. He stood, leaning to one side on the slippery floor, gasping for breath.
Clara was shouting, crying and cursing, everything she could do just to get his attention. Or anybody's attention. If the Doctor were to die, then she should die with him. It was her destiny and it was what she wanted. "Oi! I wouldn't want you to go on a diet on my account! Take me with him. You gluttons can pig out on the two of us!"
The Androgum did not deign to hear her but the Doctor glanced her way, regret on his face. "Only bad choices, Clara," he shouted. He glared at the gloating faces surrounding him. "Androgums always were treacherous. And stupid. But you stay there!" He added, giving his friend a final look.
"No!" Clara yelled back, only to be ignored by all. Hot tears burned her eyes as they prodded the Doctor through the sides.
Evidently, he was to be given a different send off from the others. The Androgum affixed another cable through the top and then began to raise the entire cage up the tall rock face.
"Oh, the poor soul," the young woman beside Clara said sadly. "The bog is on the other side of those rocks."
"No. This can't happen. Not like this," Clara said firmly.
An older man looked at her like she was daft. "Looks like it is, yer ladyship."
The cage swung wildly and the Doctor fell to his knees, unable to retain his balance. The cage crashed into the rocks several times and the Androgum took great delight each time the Doctor rolled into the side of the cage pounding the rocks.
At the top, the door swung open, the cage tilted and the Doctor fell out, unable to break his fall. The Androgum roared their approval. Some indicated they would walk over to see where he fell, after they ate, of course.
Clara watched dry eyed until the stupid ceremonial smoke pots started up again. She couldn't and wouldn't cry. Not here, not now.
This cannot be happening. First Danny, now the Doctor. Was she destined to lose all of the men in her life?
She still didn't cry though, not even when they came for her in midmorning.