Wednesday 20 April 2011

A Task for Morgaine, by Matthew Clarke (my fan fiction)

Ganymede Correctional Facility, 2191

The cell walls were covered in inscriptions from some strange language. There were no chairs, instead the occupants were expected to sit on the synthetic matting that covered the floor. Two futons were hung from the wall. In the twenty first century, the furnishing might have been described as 'Asiatic,' but in the racially mixed 22nd century, in which humanity had pushed out into space, such geographical designations were irrelevant.

Two women sat on the floor of their cell. They both wore yellow prison pyjamas and bare feet. One of the women was an attractive woman in her late thirties with short blond hair. The other woman had an age that was impossible to identify. At times she looked young, at times she looked impossibly ancient, yet great strength was apparent in her figure. Her hair was long and and a rich red. Her eyes blazed with an emerald green fire. Both women had a dignity that refused to bow to the humiliation of imprisonment, but the red-haired woman had a haughtiness that spoke only of royalty, even sat in a prison cell.

The blond woman glanced at the stange markings on the wall. It looked like some ancient language and was not a little foreboding. She had been told that they were there simply because of the red-haired woman. Apparently, they created a magic field that stopped her using the sorcerous powers she was supposed to possess. It all seemed hard to believe, but then her cellmate was a strange character. At times she would be haughty and a little cruel, at other times she could be kind and compassionate and sometimes she could be filled with tragic melancholia. She often mourned for her deceased brother, who at times sounded more like he was her lover.

The cell door opened and a small man appeared; dressed in a linen safari suit. He greeted the two occupants of the cell. "Madeleine Issigri! Such a long time! And Ageless and Deathless Morgaine! What a pleasure!"

"Merlin!" greeted the red-haired woman with a broad smile. Merlin removed his straw hat and gave a bow.

The Doctor turned to the blond woman. "Madeleine, I do miss that metal cap you used to wear. What a shame they didn't let you keep it. You don't recognise me, but we have met. How much longer have you got left here?" he asked.

"Another twelve months," she answered. "That's half my sentence done and I'm hoping they may let me out early."

"I know it's not easy for you to be here, Madeleine, but I do admire you for giving yourself up and accepting justice. I have seen too many who can never turn back from wrongdoing," he said with a look of sadness.

"Thank you," Madeleine replied. "This place is not as bad as I had feared and it has been good for me to think hard about some of my priorities."

The Doctor turned back to the red-haired woman. "Lady Morgaine, will you come with me? We must talk." He bade farewell to Madeleine and left the cell. Morgaine rose up to follow him. Leaving the cell she slipped on her flip flops.

The Doctor took Morgaine to the plush office of the governor. Inmates who were lucky enough to be invited in there had to remove their flip flops before going in, and Morgaine felt the deep, soft carpet beneath her feet. In the centre of the office was a desk made of genuine wood, a rare luxury in the 22nd century. The Doctor sat down and motioned Morgaine to take a seat.

"Naturally, being a high-ranking official from the government, I am able to evict the governor from her office for an hour or so," he said.

"You are as crafty and deceitful as ever, Merlin. Though last time I saw you, in Holloway prison, you had taken on a different aspect," Morgaine said.

"I visited you in Holloway did I? I must remember to do that. I don't want to allow any temporal paradoxes," he replied with interest. "So how are things here?"

"The prisons of this time are stricter than what I experienced in the years after my capture, though they are kept in good order. I dare say that after a thousand years of incarceration, I will have sampled a great deal of different prisons," Morgaine commented.

The Doctor looked at her with a look of great seriousness. "I will be watching you, Morgaine. I will ensure that you are never ill-treated. But I can never allow you to escape and go free. You are simply too dangerous and you have caused to many deaths."

Moragine laughed. "Merlin, you will say that to me again in your new aspect. You change little. Though you have kept your word. Whatever my humiliations here, I have never been subject to cruelty and I have never had chance to escape," she said. "You must have known that many prisoners on earth escaped when the Daleks invaded. I suppose it was you that arranged for me to be transferred to the military fortress on Ganymede before the invasion."

The Doctor gave a mysterious smile before replying. "That was as much for your safety, Morgaine. You might not be so 'deathless' and 'ageless' if the Daleks had set to work on you."

"I appreciate your concern, Merlin. So what is it that you should like to say to me?" she asked.

"I have obtained permission for you to be temporarily received into my custody. I need your help," he replied.

Morgaine seemed amused. "Merlin seeks help from the evil witch Morgaine? This is a surprise."

"Is it? You have never delighted in needless destruction, even if you have caused plenty of deaths through your petty feuds. You once summoned a terrible demon that could have destroyed the planet earth. There are other demons that threaten this universe. I need your help in defeating them," he explained.

Morgaine's curiosity had been aroused. "Demonology has ever been one of my interests. I have had little opportunity to study it in here. Tell me of your demons, Merlin."

"This universe is very different to yours, Morgaine. Your universe is full of magic and chaos. This universe is different. When it was still young, my people the Time Lords imposed on it order and reason. We fought against the forces of chaos and unreason, banishing or destroying them," he explained.

"Forces of chaos like me. You imposed your order on me quite successfully. You are true to the history of your people, Merlin," Morgaine interjected.

The Doctor seemed a little taken aback, unsure how to respond to this accusation. However, he continued. "The most powerful and dangerous forces of chaos came from another universe that we accidentally accessed. This universe was not like yours, but a hellish place, filled with torment, cruelty and madness. The creatures from this universe were called the Yssgaroth."

"I have some knowledge of this demon realm, though there are many such worlds. I have no fondness for them, though I have trafficked with them," said Morgaine.

"You took risks in doing that, as you know from that incident with the Destroyer," the Doctor chided. "There have been many worlds on which the Yssgaroth have been worshipped as gods. Depraved and deluded beings have followed them throughout history. Occasionally, these fools gain the power to open up access to their universe. In eight years time, one of these monstrous cults will attempt to open up a gateway to the Yssgaroth universe. I need your help to close it. I know that you have the power to do so."

Morgaine considered what the Doctor had said. "This is a task that is to my liking. But what can you offer me in return, Merlin?"

The Doctor sighed. "You are in prison, Morgaine. There are limits to what I can do for you. I can obtain any delicacy you crave. I can probably smuggle in a bottle of wine. They might let you keep a canary if I ask them nicely. I could get you a larger cell all for yourself if you like. Or perhaps it was male company you're missing in here; I doubt you're in want of any female comradeship..."

"These are mere trifles, Merlin," snapped Morgaine. I will do what you ask, but there is something you must do for me.

"I will hear what you ask, Morgaine, but you must give me your word that you will return to prison once our work is done," replied the Doctor.

Later, the Doctor signed the papers of release for Morgaine and showed her to his TARDIS. Morgaine was quite fascinated with the vessel. "Ah, your ship of time. Oft I have desired to see it and many times I have craved to have it for myself," she said.

"Don't count your luck, Morgaine," said the Doctor coldly.

In the console room sat a trunk. He opened it up, revealing a brilliant suit of golden armour.

"I brought your old armour for you to wear. I had an old friend who used to like yellow pyjamas, but I doubt you will want to go into action dressed in those," he said, indicating Morgaine's prison uniform.

"Thank you, Merlin. It is almost two hundred years since I wore that armour. It will please me to wear it once again," said Morgaine.

Khnum 2, 2199

The TARDIS arrived in a patch of woodland. The Doctor and Morgaine stepped out warily. The woodland was deathly quiet. The planet's moon projected a sickly green light over the landscape.

Through the clearing, they saw the ruins of a temple built by the previous inhabitants of the planet. The Doctor explained something of the history of the place to Morgaine.

"Khnum 2 was one of those worlds influenced by the Yssagroth. Thousands of years ago the sentient creatures who lived here worshipped them and knew ways to contact them. Recently human colonists have discovered these secrets. Knowledge can be a dangerous thing," he explained.

As they approached the ruins, they began to hear the sound of eerie chanting. The ruins were not so desolate as they appeared. The sound of the chant seemed to evoke a darker time; a time of war, bloodshed and cruelty. Morgaine was not at all disturbed by these sounds. She had raised up armies and seen all of them wiped out by their foes and had offered return in kind. She had summoned and expelled the foulest of demons. She had no fear of evil gods.

The stone work of the temple was ornately carved, showing depictions of the original inhabitants of the world engaged in various acts of violence and depravity. They also featured monstrous winged serpents with many eyes and huge, bat-like giants.

The Doctor and Morgaine proceeded into the temple courtyard, the source of the terrible noises. They saw a group of about a dozen hooded figures waving their arms in a frenzied fashion. They had erected a monstrous effigy of a serpent astride a globe. The sound of their chanting seemed to having an effect. Dark shadows were forming in the courtyard and the very air itself seemed to be drawn towards it, as though some great vacuum had been accessed.

The Doctor shouted at the participants in the ritual. "This ceremony must stop. You have no idea what you are playing at."

One of the robed and hooded figures ceased his chanting and turned to the new arrivals. "You dare to disturb our ceremony? You will die, but not before the old gods arrive!" he cried.

Morgaine raised her hand and the man crumbled into dust. His fellow cultists moved backwards in fright. Yet they quickly turned around when strange eerie sounds pierced the night. The chanting had done its work. A terrible sound like the beating of huge wings could be heard.

The very air in the courtyard seemed to open up, allowing a gaping maw to emerge, revealing the menacing red light of an alien skyline. The maw was engulfed by a massive shape.

The thing which had appeared from the alien world was something that could not be completely captured by the human eye. It seemed definitely serpent like, though its shape seemed to shift slightly with every glance. It had wings, though sometimes it appeared their were two, sometimes four. Its body was covered in countless eyes. It seemed to have a head, graced with horns, though it was difficult to discern where the long coiled body ended and where the head started. Once in a while, it looked less like a serpent and more like a sea of eyes with no definite form at all.

Morgaine approached the monstrosity without fear. "What are you, demon?" she asked it.

The thing spoke in a surprisingly soft voice. "I am the vanguard of the Yssgaroth host. We are coming for this world. It belongs to us. We shall take it and do with it as we please."

"No. It shall not be permitted. Merlin and I stand against you," Morgaine declared.

The thing noticed the tiny figure of the Doctor. It roared at the sight.

"A Time Lord! The ancient enemy! And what are you, puny woman?" it asked.

"I am Morgaine, Dominator of Thirteen Worlds and Battle Queen of the S'rax and of the blood of the Elder Folk. And your enemy!" she cried.

"None in this world can stand against us," the thing boasted.

"I am not of this world. I am born of another world and wield the powers of chaos! Be gone, demon!" she shouted. She pointed her hand at the thing, conjuring up a ball of emerald green lightning and casting it out. The thing seemed to retreat.

The energy that Morgaine wielded seemed to intensify. The blazing emerald light spread to her whole body, casting it in a terrifying green halo. Again she cried "Be gone, demon!" The thing seemed to get smaller and disappeared into the red maw, which faded into shadow.

"Well done, Morgaine," cried the Doctor.

"Morgaine's body continued to pulsate with green fire. She seemed intoxicated by the magic power. "I am Morgaine! I have vanquished demons and foul gods! I can rule this entire universe! No one in this world can stop me now!" she roared.

The Doctor jumped back and his face contorted with anger. "You gave your word!" he snarled. "You promised to surrender, Morgaine! You must give yourself up and return to prison. Remember what we agreed?"

Morgaine looked shocked and the emerald fire faded. Her body slumped as if through fatigue. "Yes, I gave my word," she said. "Let us return to your ship of time.

Back in the TARDIS, Morgaine sat down in a chair, weary after her battle with the horror. She looked at the Doctor "I have done something to pay off my debt to this world, Merlin."

"Yes, you have," he replied. "I am sure you will have other opportunities."

"You needed me because I am not like you, Merlin. I see this very well. You are a creature of order and reason. I am born of chaos. You needed that power of chaos in your battle. Yet you fear me and thus you return me to captivity," said Morgaine.

"Yes, I fear you, Morgaine," he replied. "Yet I respect you to. I only wish there were another way."

Morgaine looked at her magnificent armour. "Shall I change back now?" she asked

"No," the Doctor replied. "Let them take that armour off you when you get there. It'll make a more impressive entrance."

The TARDIS soon materialised in Ganymede Correctional Facility. When Morgaine and the Doctor left the ship, a guard approached, looking a little startled by Morgaine's golden armour.

"I've brought her back to you safe and sound. Make sure you look after her," he instructed.

As a guard gently took Morgaine's arm to lead her to the booking area, she pointed to the Doctor, "Remember your promise, Merlin."

Some time later, the Doctor arrived at his destination. It had taken him weeks to work out coordinates to enter Morgaine's universe. Even for a TARDIS, entering another universe was seemingly impossible. Yet he knew it could be done. He knew that one day he would go there and take on the role of Merlin for real. There he would be defeated by Morgaine. But not yet.

He let the TARDIS, gazing at the incredible landscape before him. Mountains stretched out into infinity, covered in endless forests. He saw dragons fly across the vast skies. He heard a sad singing from the air; the sound of the stars in their lament.

The Doctor knelt and dug a grave. A grave for Mordred, a foe he had faced in battle. Not dead by his hand, but by the sad ravages of time which all mortals faced.

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