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ArWen the Eternally Surprised
Author: Ria Time: 2007/11/22
Arwen encounters a strange monk and gains a little extra time.
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The Clash of Worlds: The Three Paths
Submitter: Date: 2011/10/30 Views: 390
Chapter 7

"No parent should have to bury their child." Kiron let the flower drop and stepped back, eyes closed. "I could forgive her stealing my mind, but not taking my last days with him. They pass too quickly even without cruel help."

"There's never enough last days."

He opened his eyes again and turned to his companion. "Do you have children, Doctor?"

He smiled and tilted his head. "Not any more."

The king nodded his understanding. "Too many people have had the days stolen away from them. Too many of my people. How do I protect them, Doctor, when war has come to our whole world?"

He rocked back on his heels and looked off into the distance. "You have to hide them. Take them to the forts and the caves, and hide them."

"It'll be like shooting fish in a barrel," Kiron argued.

"Maybe. Or maybe it'll be like a bait ball. The fringes get eaten away, but the heart escapes." He considered Kiron sadly. "They'll turn to you soon, and they will die."

Kiron looked away and moved up the path towards the palace. "We make for the forts. The palace will empty, and we'll take everyone from the plains. The mountains and the islands... there is little we can do."

"Make a target, the enemy will aim for it," the Doctor smiled. "Buy your people time."

The order was given for the evacuation of the city, and the Doctor moved through the chaos to the car park. Rick was fastening his fresh supplies to his bike when the Doctor pulled his own out of its space. "Going to make a nuisance of yourself?" Rick asked. "Or do you have some other mission in mind?"

"Go with them to the forts, Rick," the Doctor swung himself onto the bike and leaned forwards. "They'll need you before it's over. I have to find Adrastos, and possibly throw myself on the Master to distract him for a while, if I have time. Nine hundred years old and I never have enough time."

Rick stepped back to let him out and smiled. "That's probably because you talk too much."

He grinned and kicked the engine into gear, engaging the thrusters that lifted it off the ground. "Here we go. Geronimo!"

Darkness fell as the convoy was still trooping into the fort they'd chosen as their destination. High walls blocked off the end wall of the ravine, with a courtyard between the walls and the keep, which was built into the rock itself. Natural and artificial caves created a network of storage rooms for arms and vehicles, and more caves behind the keep were a living area for children, the infirm and the elderly to shelter in. The cave network, without a guide and a boat, was an impenetrable maze that would starve the lost and provided a natural protection for those sheltering within. Anyone not in the deeper caves when battle commenced would be trapped in the shallower caves if they had to retreat, but if the keep fell then all was lost anyway.

Anyone old enough and fit enough to carry a weapon was armed from the fort's stores, leaving grandparents caring for their terrified grandchildren on the journey into the caves whilst their parents were led to the armoury. Rick, Orlando and Martin sat at a table in the corner, checking and cleaning their weapons out of the way of the bustle. "They're not soldiers," Orlando muttered. "They're scared, and more likely to shoot each other."

"Say it a bit louder, Orli," Rick snapped. "I don't think they all heard you. I remember the first time we put a gun in your hand, and it wasn't that long ago."

He dropped his gaze to his gun, movements becoming precise and sharp in cleaning his gun. Martin snapped a fresh cartridge in. "He's right, Rick. This isn't an army."

Rick gritted his jaw and swept his things up. "And come tonight, if the defences are breached, it won't matter whether they're soldiers or not."

He pushed up from the table and stalked from the room, leaving Orlando and Martin looking at each other uncomfortably.

They found him on the walls, dragging on a cigarette and watching a group of workers piling rubble and soil against the walls for extra protection. He gave them a slow look over and returned his attention to the scene, letting them approach. "I'm sorry," Orlando said softly. "I shouldn't have..."

"You're not a soldier either," Rick told him shortly. "Either of you. You've just been not soldiers for longer."

"I know," he admitted. "I was talking about me, really." He sat next to Rick on the wall and stared out into the distance, where towns burnt in the darkness. "Has our luck run out?"

Rick squeezed his shoulder and sighed. "No promises. But maybe, if we make it through the night. Maybe we have a chance."

Martin was looking past them, frowning into the darkness. "Either the army's a lot closer than we expected, or..." They turned to follow his gaze and saw the headlights of a convoy coming up the road. "Friend or foe?"

"I have no idea," Rick admitted, pulling a radio out of his pocket.

Orlando snatched it out of his hand and scanned through the frequencies until he found the right one. "This is Fort Deep, please announce yourselves."

"Fort Deep, this is UNIT. Code 76326."

Rick clapped them both on the shoulders and ran to the gateway. "Open the gates! UNIT's arrived."

They clattered down the steps, united again, and Rick was the first to reach Brian at the head of the column. The CERN researcher laughed as he was embraced tightly, and patted Rick's back. "If only I were greeted so enthusiastically everywhere." He pushed Rick back and smiled past him at King Kiron. "Your majesty."

"What is this?" the king asked, watching the procession of highly armed troops into his fort.

Brian shared a look with Orlando and smiled. "I bring greetings from Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart, and from UNIT in Europe. The world is changing and growing smaller. It is time for Europe to stand together in the face of a new, larger universe. This is the first test of many, and a start to a union."

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