The TARDIS drifted lazily through the nothing that was neither time nor space and yet at
the same time was both. Inside of it the occupants were resting after the dramatic
events at Space
City. They were exhausted and had only made love
three times before falling asleep in each others arms. Yin was fast asleep, dreaming
of owning a shiny sports car. Li Na however dreamed a little dream of an adventure
she’d had a very long time ago. A time when she’d been a man, travelling
with her Granddaughter Susan and two of her school teachers. It had been a very
difficult time for all of them.
Barbara shifted from one foot to the other as she looked
closely at the TARDIS’ external display screen. They had just landed on what could well be Earth. She was tingling with
excitement. She would miss the Doctor and Susan of course but she just wanted to be back home sitting in her favourite chair
reading the book she had just started the night before that fateful day.
“Is it Earth Doctor?”
“The readings are inconclusive Barbara. It is
a close match but it doesn’t feel right.” The Doctor shook his head slightly as he finished double checking the
“But look at the screen Doctor, rolling hills,
and forests and oh it just has that familiarity of home.”
“Yes, well we’ll have a look around to
be sure. I’ve learned not to dismiss your intuition Barbara.” It took a small amount of courage to pay his friend
such a high compliment. After he was a scientist, but what scientist argues with the facts? “Perhaps you can tell Susan
and Chesterton the news hmm?”
Barbara went next door into the recreation area. Ian
was teaching Susan about horse racing. When your student is far more advanced in your own subject what else can a general
science teacher do?
“Primitive Earth culture is so fascinating Ian.
Although their concern for the animal’s welfare leaves a lot to be desired. Has anyone asked the horses if they want
to run a mile and a half?”
“Oh Susan, horses are just...well horses. They’re
well looked after and treated fairly. Sometimes we should pay more attention to the homeless and starving in my book.”
“Come on you two, the Doctor could have just
done it this time.” Barbara smiled and picked up her cardigan from the coatstand.
“I just hope we’re not going to find another
group of cavemen.” Ian joked.
“Yes, or the Bastille.” Barbara replied.
Ian put his hand around her shoulder and escorted her to the main door.
“Come along Susan. Honestly child you should
be more prepared.” The impatient tone in the Doctor’s voice belied the tender affection he had for his grandchild.
Ferhans Fiu planted a small seed in the ground. He covered it with
soil and fertilizer before liberally soaking the dirt with a specially prepared water solution. “I now declare that
the city of Biopolis is planted. May fortune and happiness smile upon all those who live in it.” He received a thunderous applause
from the seventy or so bio-engineers who were ready to cater for any necessary adjustments.
“As we all know Biopolis is the first city in
a new age of structural design. From tiny seeds will communities come. The evergreen cities will provide a cheap and natural
habitation on countless colony worlds. Overpopulation and crowding will be a thing of the past."
“Grandfather, look! There are some people over there.”
The others strained to see what Susan had glimpsed.
“There’s nothing there Susan, you must be imagining things.” Ian patted Susan’s shoulder.
Don’t dismiss Susan out of hand Chestamint, if
my granddaughter says she saw something then I think we should investigate.”
“Ignore Ian, Susan, I believe you as well.”
“I think it’s starting.” Fiu stood back as a long branch emerged from the soil. It grew at a
massively accelerated rate and expanded at a fantastic rate. Soon it grew past the astonished crowd until it was ten thousand
square kilometres in size.
Ian ducked as something shot over his head at speed.
He was knocked to his feet by a blast of wind. When he recovered his sensors he was shocked to discover he was standing on
the outskirts of a city. A city that was made entirely from trees and other plants.
“Well Doctor, if this is Earth it’s not
nineteen sixty three.” Ian turned around but there was no sign of the others. He shouted out once more but there was
Susan woke up, she had been knocked unconscious by
something. There was blood on the side of her head and a large lump that throbbed painfully. “Grandfather?” She
saw her elderly relative nearby, he was also unconscious. Barbara was lying next to him. Carefully Susan checked the others
for cuts and fractures but she was worrying unnecessarily as they were both fine. Then she noticed Ian was missing. She called
out his name but all this did was wake the others up.
“Oh, what happened? My arm hurt.” Barbara
pulled herself up and dusted herself down. “Are you alright Susan? How’s the Doctor and where’s Ian?”
“Grandfather seems to be fine but there’s
no sign of Ian.”
The Doctor sat up. “Who are you and what have
you done to me?” His voice was cold and angry.
“Grandfather it’s me Susan.”
“I don’t know you, I’ve never seen
you before in my life.”
Barbara put her arms around Susan’s shoulders
to comfort her. “He’s got amnesia Susan, whatever happened to us has caused him to lose his memory.”
“Nonsense I’m perfectly fine I tell you.
Now why have you detained me here hmm?” He looked at the two women with suspicion.
Ian continued to search the new city. It was a marvel of engineering skill, all organic looking and
fluidic even. Each building was unoccupied but fitted with all the essentials, tables, chairs, beds and even a stove.
“Look Doctor, don’t you recognise us at
all. Susan is your granddaughter look how upset you are making her.”
“I tell you, I have no idea who either of you
two are. Now kindly let me about my business.”
“Perhaps if he looks around the TARDIS, it might
jog his memory.” Susan tried desperately to think of a remedy.
“A TARDIS? I’m not qualified to pilot a
TT Capsule yet. My learner’s permit was revoked last week by Borusa, again.” A smile crossed the Doctor’s
“He’s reverted to his childhood Barbara,
this is very bad.”
Ian heard voices ahead. A conversation? No, a party.
He had walked miles but finally this was the first sound of human habitation he had heard. He left the cover of the last building
and walked over the exposed plaza. Several security people saw him and drew guns. Media cameras floated over towards him looking
for a story.
“Hello, I’m a bit lost here. I got separated
from my friends can you help me?”
An edgy security guard got too nervous and accidentally
pushed the control stun on his gun. Ian felt his body go numb as he hit the ground and blacked out.
Li Na awoke with a start. It had just been a
dream, a strange dream. It was a past memory, from long ago. All dreams were important though, especially to a Time Lady. Dreams
were one of the ancient forms of communication used by trees and other sentient plants.
She knew something was up, she was being called back to Biopolis, the giant biological city was reaching out with its
mind to summon her back. Naked and half in a trance she made her way to the control
room and set the controls for the return visit. It would be good to see the city
again, a perfect ecological achievement. The zero waste society where everything
really did grow on trees. Susan had been ever so delighted to see it. Another memory lurched inside her mind. These memories were
false. Biopolis was wrong, it had fallen.
Li Na remembered the truth as went to sleep on the sofa and dreamt the ending of that disturbing adventure.
"No!" Ferhans cried out as they took him away. "It
was the city! The city is evil!"
"I'm glad to see him taken away. He's a madman," said
"No." said the Doctor. "He's right."
"What do you mean Doctor?" Ian asked. He stood up and
looked around at the organic city. "How can a city be evil?"
Azur mopped his sweated brow and blew a puff of air
through his teeth. "Something must have gone wrong in the design stage. Every link in the DNA chain of the seed was changed
to some degree or other. It must have been then, a G instead of a C and the next thing you know the city is alive and it's
trying to kill you."
"Exactly my boy, exactly." The Doctor stood up. It
tried to get inside my head, turn you against me because it knew I was onto it. I'm sorry Barbara for anything I did while
under the city's influence."
"Yes well perhaps I was too quick to judge? I felt
there was something different about you but I thought I was just being silly."
"Hmph, not a bit of it Miss Wright, not a bit of it.
Once again your intuition has proved correct when science and logic have failed." The Doctor sat back down again.
"So what do we do?" Susan asked. "I mean it's not as
if we can just chop it all up into little pieces is it?" She started to laugh but stopped when she saw the gleam in her grandfather's
eyes. "But it's a whole city grandfather. It will take all of us a hundred years to clear it all away."
"Quite so, my child, quite so. You must look for outside
help Mr. Azur, yes you must ask your neighbours and allies. This great evil can only be defeated by a combined force that
brings together all the individual skills and equipment into, into one concerted effort all at the same time."
"I'll see what I can do." Azur left and headed towards
the small communications pod that was inside a skimmer car.
"I think it's time we leave, don't you?" The Doctor
"But you don't know where the ship is Doctor." Ian
"Don't I hmmm? Don't I? This way, yes, come along."
The Doctor led the way through twisting streets, alleys and terraces until they came upon the familiar blue police box shape
of the TARDIS.
"Oh safe at last." Barbara announced to everyone once
they were safely inside the time machine."
"Yes Miss Wright, I'm inclined to agree with you."
Carefully the Doctor pressed buttons, turned dials and flicked switches.
Li Na left the console room. She wondered where
these ancient memories came from. Something had tried to trick her. No, they wouldn’t. They couldn’t. They shouldn’t! A second Biopolis? The thought was there, like bait. She had to investigate. She had to make sure. Plants dreamed
and if this dream was a message then the thought of Biopolis 2 was enough to induce nightmares. She entered the bedroom and started to dress. “Yin,
wake up, we’ve got work to do.”
“The car won’t start.” Yin
said in his sleep, before he awoke with a start. “What is it?”
“A feeling, as though someone has walked all over my graves.” Li Na replied and sat down on the edge of the bed to put her hold up stockings on.
The planet Homer was an expanse of oceans and lush green continents. It was considered a lush garden planet, the fruit basket of the galaxy.
However on the largest continent a brave new community was paving the way for future generations. Biopolis, grown from a single genetically modified seed, was the future of social environments.
The TARDIS materialised in an empty side street. Li
Na and Yin emerged a few seconds later. “Typical.” Li Na said to her husband. “They buried all trace of
the first experiment.”
“Probably literally.” Yin chuckled. “What with it being a weed and all.”
“This isn’t the time for humour.”
Li Na replied. “I sense something strange.” She put her hands on the nearby house. “It’s like
the original, everything is actually a part of the same plant. However I sense
none of the original hostility of the first version.”
“Maybe that one was the evil twin and this is the good one.”
“Please don’t make jokes until I’ve had my first cup of coffee.” Li Na sulked grumpily. “Speaking
of which, let’s get a cup each, talk to the locals, get the word on the street.”
Yin looked at his wife. “Where did you
learn those archaic phrases? Sometimes it’s like I’m in a bad historical
movie like Terminator 2.”
“Alice cried a lot at the end of that film.”
Li Na said casually. “So, do you fancy a latte, a mocha or an expresso?”
The squad moved through the shadows, keeping out of sight for now until they were all in position. They were like a pack of lions setting an ambush for a gazelle. The surprise was the main element of their success.
Yin took a sip of his coffee, it was smooth and had just a hint of nutmeg in it. “Not bad.” He pronounced verdict without the need
for a black cap. “Not bad at all.”
“I like it too.” Li Na agreed. “Maybe the owners will sell us a bag, if we ask nicely.”
“Go, go, go!” The command echoed
over twenty million headsets all at once.
The Solar Knights moved out of the shadows and into the sunlight, for all the world to see
and fear them. They opened fire on crowds and individuals indiscriminately. Many were badly wounded or killed outright in the first five seconds of the assault. Then the guns were silenced, as was planned.
“This planet is ours.” Knight Commander
Simon said to the frightened masses. “Any resistance will be met with lethal
force.” He spat on the ground. “That
is the worth of your lives unless you accept Solaria as your saviour. Life everlasting
is her reward for your devotion. A slow painful death if the punishment for heretics
and would-be rebels.”
“Not again.” Li Na said to Yin. “Not again.”
Yin sighed. “We have to do something about
them once and for all.”
“What do you suggest?” Li Na asked. “Genocide? I’ve already been
tried for that before. I got off on a technicality, next time I won’t be
A Solar Knight came over to them. “Follow
me or die.”
“Praise Solaria.” Li Na said quickly.
“Praise Solaria indeed.” Yin added
“Nice try, scum.” Knight Raphael
replied. “Until we’re sure you’re really true believers you’ll
both be put into the re-education centre.”
Li Na and Yin were given a shared room, because they were married. They tried to feel comfortable but the bed was too lumpy, the walls were too damp and the regime too evil. Shortly after their arrival their confessor arrived.
Knight Marie sat on the bed, out of breath after the long walk. “I get…all the…married…couples.” She
Li Na nodded. “We look forward to a lifetime
of devotion to Solaria.”
“It does have its rewards.” Knight
Marie replied. “Our breeding programme needs good healthy couples like
you two to keep the birth rate high, the more souls given to Solaria the better.”
“We’ve been discussing starting a family for a while now.” Yin said to Marie. “What better way to give that child
a good start in life than though the Order of Solaris?”
“Indeed.” Marie agreed.
“What steps does our training involve?”
Li Na asked. “We’re keen to start on the path to salvation
as quickly as possible.”
“The path is long but very rewarding.” Knight
Marie replied. “Most converts achieve a state of full devotion within a
year of accepting Solaria as their saviour. It’s such a waste when some
reject her calling, but we can’t allow dangerous heretics to question the will of Solaria now, can we?”
“No.” Yin replied. “Of course not.”
The city grew restless as it detected a growing disharmony within the community.
The re-education centre was little more than a concentration camp. Li Na was quickly separated from Yin as all the females were separated from the males. They were forced to wear ragged dresses and Li Na feared that it was only time before one of the guards
tried to force himself on her, again. Luckily however all the guards were female. That didn’t stop their cruelty however.
Any deviation from an order resulted in a beating. Two beatings and you
had to strip naked. Three beatings and they strung you up by the neck for five
minutes while you were whipped until your skin was red raw.
Many of the women quickly broke under this level of punishment. Li Na refused to break, she did this by following every single order, no matter how maniacal or deranged. She could see they were growing angry with her, she was playing them at their own
game and winning. That didn’t last forever however. One by one the women grew into a clique with Li Na always on the outside because she wasn’t like
them. Li Na was unbroken, she was untamed and that only reminded the others that
they were beaten, submissive and owned body and soul.
Li Na was forced to bathe in her own urine, then clean the boots of the guards with her dress. She was forced to eat her meals from the floor and sleep standing up. They tried even worse things, then even some more worse things, but Li Na used her own style of defiance
until finally the guards figured that if she was this obedient she must have broken before she had even arrived.
This earned her a reprieve, but the others knew, they knew she wasn’t one of them. Li Na was unbroken and they hated her for it.
Yin too had suffered. He’d been tortured
and beaten every day until he collapsed on the floor begging for death. This
was what the guards had been waiting for the formative beginning of a more accepting state of mind. Yin was given the full indoctrination treatment. Subliminal
messages at first, coupled with iconography to create a positive acceptance towards Solaria.
Minute by minute they ate away at who Chung Yin was and replaced all those missing pieces with a new identity: Knight
Only Li Na and one other remained unbroken and Li Na listened as the old woman prayed to her
god. “Please deliver me from this great darkness, that I might endure this
place of great evil. Let me pass out of the darkness and into your light. Let this false god be cast down as the lie it is.”
Li Na sighed as she tried to make herself comfortable on the cold stone floor of her cell. “You think your god will save you?”
“Yes.” The old woman replied instantly. “Unpin will save me.”
“Tell me more about your beliefs. I’m
“Unpin created the world in a day. He have
the secrets of the cosmos to humanity so that we might become stewards of his creations.
This city is a reflection of his power. By harnessing the forces of creation
we can learn the will of Unpin.”
Later that night two guards came and dragged the old woman away. Li Na heard her being whipped and beaten and the violence didn’t end with death. It continued well afterwards. She had done nothing to save
the old woman’s life, but she could save her memory and her beliefs.
The next day the women were given their armour, they were sworn in as Knights of Solaria. Li Na felt disgusted with herself but it was necessary to go with the flow for now. Then all thoughts left her as she was reunited with Yin. He was obviously a fanatical believer, she felt let down but couldn’t blame him for not being able
to resist as she had done. They made love but she was thinking only of her husband,
not the man currently inside of her.
The dream was strange, she was sitting in a large ruddy tree with emerald leaves all around. The tree was tired and upset because no one loved it anymore. The tree wanted people to love it and make it feel special, but no one did and that made it upset.
It was a month later and ‘Knight Li Na’ was in charge of indoctrinating new recruits. However she did not feel well at all, each morning she threw up her first meal. That didn’t slow her down though. She
took the time to work out who was a spy and who was a real prisoner. She gave
the spies the usual hard time, secretly taking delight in ordering them to do the basest of tasks. She did however pass on the old woman’s beliefs in Unpin to those who already believed in that faith. These few recruits grew in number as time passed and in the midst of great cruelty
and suffering a large rebellion was formed. Soon she was throwing up on the evenings
too. She knew something was wrong when she missed her time of the month!
The revolution began with the sound of a metal spoon being dropped. Li Na led the rebel band of women to attack the other Solar Knights, taking their weapons and uniforms
from them. They attacked with surprise and without mercy. Thousands died within seconds.
Li Na found Yin in a prayer hall. “We have
to get out of here.” She said to him.
“We have to spread the word of Solaria to other parts of the city. Besides
I could do with a walk. I have some important news to tell you, about us.”
Knight Yin smiled. He was sure he could guess. His wife had been ill with great regularity.
It could only mean one thing.
Li Na had had her scientific tools returned upon achieving her ‘knighthood’ and
now she kept them close to her at all times. They walked down one of the streets. It looked different somehow. The brightness
had faded from the houses, the streets were lacklustre. Biopolis was dying. She had to save the 698th wonder of the universe, if she could. First though she had more immediate news to tell Yin. “As
you know I’ve not been feeling so well, especially the mornings. Thanks
for holding my hair back for me by the way.” She held his hand. “The thing is, I’ve missed my last two periods. I
didn’t even notice the first one but the second and I’m dry down there when I should have been leaking like a
bad paper cut. The thing is, this can only mean one thing. Either I’m dying of a terrible illness and have moments to live or I’m pregnant and both options
means that you have to hug me now.”
Knight Yin hugged Li Na. “I’m so
excited.” He hugged his wife again.
Li Na scowled. “This great city is dying,
Yin. We’re sucking all the life out of it.
If I’m to bring a new life into this world, I want it to be in a city in the prime of its life. We have to let the city know that it’s wanted.”
“Why would we do that?”
“It’s a resource and resources should never be wasted. Besides this is a living city.” Li Na’s words
were cut off when the re-education centre exploded on cue in a huge ball of flame. “Now
we really have to live in the city.”
Hundreds of rebels surrounded the remains of the re-education centre and cheered as it was
totally destroyed by a second explosion.
“I guess that means there’s no point staying here.
The natives can repopulate the city, continue to love it and it’ll thrive under their care.”
“What are you saying?” Knight Yin
asked Knight Li Na.
“I’m saying that it’s just you and me now.” Li Na activated the TARDIS summoning device and hugged Yin as the ship materialised around them.
“You have betrayed Solaria.” Knight
Yin accused the Doctor.
“No, you have betrayed yourself and that’s my fault.” Li Na replied. “I’m sorry I couldn’t protect
you. Now though I have a chance to help you find the real Chung Yin again.” Li Na activated a control switch and her husband was held tight by a graviton beam. “The TARDIS has records of who you are, everything from emotion to intellect. All I have to do is push this red button and your memories and feelings will be reset
back to those of the man I love, my husband.” She pushed the button and
Knight Yin screamed then was no more. In his place was Chung Yin, the man she
loved with both her hearts.