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Staggering Stories Podcast #276: Whittaker Calling Orson
by Staggering Stories Podcast
Sun, 19 Nov 2017 09:15

Summary: Adam J Purcell, Andy Simpkins, Fake Keith and the Real Keith Dunn discuss Doctor Who subjects such as the Thirteenth Doctor’s costume, the 60s and 70s composer Dudley Simpson and director Paddy Russell, review the second season of Stranger Things, find some general news, and a variety of other stuff, specifically: 00:00 – Intro […]


Staggering Stories Commentary #204: Babylon 5 – And All My Dreams, Torn Asunder
by Staggering Stories Podcast
Sun, 12 Nov 2017 09:00

Summary: Adam J Purcell, Andy Simpkins and Keith Dunn sit down, inquiring, in front of the Season 5 Babylon 5 episode ‘And All My Dreams, Torn Asunder’, and spout our usual nonsense! Mollari is feeling left out, Lennier has some hot footage and G’Kar wants to guard Londo’s body. But enough of their problems, please […]


Staggering Stories Podcast #275: Business is Business
by Staggering Stories Podcast
Sun, 05 Nov 2017 09:00

Summary: Adam J Purcell, Andy Simpkins, Fake Keith, the Real Keith Dunn and Scott Fuller review Big Finish’s version of the Doctor Who stage play The Ultimate Adventure, the fifth and sixth episodes of Star Trek: Discovery and the new Red Dwarf episode Timewave, find some general news, and a variety of other stuff, specifically: […]


Staggering Stories Commentary #203 Doctor Who – The Pyramid at the End of the World
by Staggering Stories Podcast
Sun, 29 Oct 2017 10:00

Summary: The Doctor is trapped in an even more artificial situation than last week, Bill considers the meaning of consent and the Monks have gained god-like powers in the real world. But enough of their problems, please sit down with us to enjoy The Pyramid at the End of the World… Vital Links: Staggering Stories. […]


Staggering Stories Podcast #274: The Seven Keys to Starbug
by Staggering Stories Podcast
Sun, 22 Oct 2017 09:00

Summary: Adam J Purcell, Andy Simpkins, Fake Crumbly, Fake Keith, Jean Riddler, the Real Keith Dunn and Scott Fuller review Big Finish’s version of the Doctor Who stage play The Seven Keys to Doomsday, the third and fourth episodes of Star Trek: Discovery and the new Red Dwarf episodes Cured and Siliconia, find some general […]


Staggering Stories Commentary #202: Babylon 5 – Phoenix Rising
by Staggering Stories Podcast
Sun, 15 Oct 2017 09:00

Summary: Adam J Purcell, Andy Simpkins and Keith Dunn sit down, roasted, in front of the Season 5 Babylon 5 episode ‘Phoenix Rising’, and spout our usual nonsense! Byron is losing control of more than his flowing locks, Garibaldi has a word with Bester and the rogue telepaths are burning bright. But enough of their […]

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Hollycelestamelindar

Chapter Four - All You Need Is Love


Mizradal sat in her chair, not quite sure what to do when Holly and Kai leftthe room.  She looked at the open box of chocolates sitting on the tablewith fascination.  She had never seen such delicacies before, but thetruffles tempted her.  She had seen the way that Holly had enjoyed thetaste of the chocolate, slowly eating it, enjoying every single moment thatthe substance remained on her sensitive taste buds.  Mizradal supposedthe chocolate must be absolutely wonderful and something that people atepurely for pleasure.  However, she knew she must not take one, for todo so would surely get her in trouble with her new mistress who had not offered. She should have learned long ago not to take things that weren't offeredto her.  However, she was only a child and the chocolates had a sweet,pleasing aroma that was not easily ignored.  She waited for a few minutesthat seemed like an agonizing eternity.  Perhaps her new mistress wouldreturn and take them away so she would not be tempted.  Or perhaps shewould even offer her a chocolate.  Holly did seem nice.  She wasmuch nicer than any of the people with whom Mizradal had previously dwelled. Instead of expecting Mizradal to bring her things and clean things, Hollyhad presented her with a bedroom filled with all kinds of delightful toysthat she had never seen before.  And this entire place where Holly livedseemed to her to be absolutely fantastic, and even magical.  She wonderedif all of those fairy tales loved and adored had a ring of truth to themafter all.  Perhaps at long last, her wildest dreams and deepest hopeshad come to pass; she'd been rescued from a life of misery and been granteda room in the palace as a fairytale princess.  And she didn't want anythingto ever take that away from her - ever.  She must be strong and resistthe chocolates.  She couldn't succumb to the temptation to partake ofthe forbidden pleasure before her.  True Holly had not told her thatshe could not have a chocolate, but neither had she told her that she could. But she hadn't told her that she couldn't, had she?  The sweet aromawas intoxicating and everything about that box seemed to whisper, "Try me. You know you want one."

"I can't," Mizradal replied to the box of chocolates, which of course wasn'treally talking.  But it might as well have asked with words, for itsurely knew what was in her heart.  "I haven't been offered.  BesidesI don't want to be thrown out again.  I don't want it to be like mylast place.  They weren't too bad there and I didn't think Grenda wouldmind if I played with her doll.  I didn't even break it.  It wasalready broken when Grenda told me I could play with it.  I didn't knowshe would blame me and then tell her parents she hated me so that they wouldsell me."  A tear started to roll down her cheek.  "I can't, Ican't, I can't!  I've already messed up and I can't mess up again becauseI'll never get a chance like this again as long as I live!"

"But Holly will never know if you take just one," the box of chocolates seemedto reason.  "Do you think she's going to miss one little chocolate? Look at this place.  She has plenty to spare.  She won't miss one,I tell you she won't."

So Mizradal slowly reached forward and took one tiny truffle from the box. She hesitantly looked all around her to see if either Holly or Kai were anywherenear returning to the room, but they weren't.  She felt the smooth textureof the chocolate in her hand and it smelled even sweeter the nearer her noseit reached.  She finally put the morsel in her mouth and slowly chewedit, allowing her tongue to taste every single bit in the same way she hadobserved Holly do it before.  Never before had she tasted such a wonderand at once she could see why the Time Lady was fond of them.  Thistaste was the most wonderful sensation that had ever crossed her limitedtaste buds.  She simply had to have another and she quite forgot thatshe was only going to have one.  She reached into the box and took anotherone and found with much delight that it tasted different than the one before. Perhaps each chocolate was filled with something different.  She testedher hypothesis and found it to be true, sampling each and every chocolateuntil...until the box was completely empty!  And then she realized inhorror that Holly would notice the missing chocolates because the box hadbeen full.

"No, no, no," she said as she stepped away from the box.  "I didn'teat ALL of them, did I?"

"But you did," the box seemed to answer.  "You were only supposed totry one, weren't you?  But you just couldn't control yourself. Oh well, you'll be sent somewhere else.  Maybe your next family doesn'thave to learn what a bad little girl you are..."

"No," Mizradal shouted.  "I'm never leaving here!  Holly doesn'thave to find me!  This place is big.  I can hide!"  And withthat she went off to explore the inner depths of the Time Lady's strangeTARDIS.  She would hide as far away from this place as possible. Didn't Holly say it had 522 rooms?  She couldn't be in all of them atonce and Mizradal could hide for a very long time.

* * *

"Look," Kai said, trying to be direct and ignore what Holly wanted. "I really must be going.  I can't stay."

"Why?" Holly asked.

"I have things to do," Kai answered.

"Such as try to survive in that awful jungle?" Holly inquired.  "I failto see why you would willingly leave my TARDIS to return to that place! You don't have a home, do you?  You don't even have a working ship Ihazard to guess or you would have mentioned it.  Am I correct in assumingthat you don't even have a broken one?"

"It's at the bottom of a swamp," Kai replied.  

"Oh," Holly replied.  "And is it the sort that's worth salvaging?"

"Not particularly," he answered.  "It was badly damaged or I wouldn'thave crashed it in the first place."

"Well then," Holly began, "what better things do you have to do than to hangaround here?"

"I don't suppose much," Kai answered, hating the way that his sensibilitieshad once again been reasoned against by the conniving Time Lady.  "It'sjust that you seem so strangely fascinated by Mizradal..." he began. Truth be told, that wasn't what bothered him near as much as his fascinationwith her.  He kept finding himself attracted not only to her beauty,but also her mysterious and alien nature.  But he could tell that shehadn't even noticed him as her mind was on a multitude of other things. In fact she tended to just shove Kai around and tell him what to do thatwould be useful to her.  He supposed he should object to being treatedas such, but he found that every time she looked into his eyes and smiledat him, he was strangely compelled to do whatever she asked.  And thiswas no exception.  He couldn't even finish his sentence describing justhow she was strangely fascinated by Mizradal because he'd quite forgottenit when she gave him that look.

"Of course I'm fascinated by Mizradal," Holly enthusiastically answered."I once spent the better part of thirty years studying the psychologicaldevelopments and life cycles of primitive humanoid races. I shall have toonce again resume my studies now that I have a genuine specimen..."

"Specimen?" Kai asked, perturbed by the term.

"Example," she corrected. "Don't worry, I don't intend to do anything thatwould harm her. Far from it, I intend to give her advantages that exceedanything she could ever have on this world. She shall never want for food,clothes, or shelter for as long as she shall live. Furthermore, I shall giveher an education far beyond anything she could ever dream..."

"May I ask you a question?" Kai interrupted.

"Of course," she answered.

"How old are you?" He'd been wondering that ever since he set foot in thiswondrous place. The way she spoke of decades of study as if it were a passinghobby or said that she would take care of Mizradal for the rest of the child'slife, implied that she thought of things on a much larger scale.

"Oh," she casually answered as if it were no big deal, "I am approximately222.97 of your years," quickly doing the math in her head.

"Is that all?" Kai asked. "A S'o'h Maiyuoom would think of something thathappened that long ago as ancient history."

"I'm sure you would," she answered in a matter-of-fact tone.  "You don'tlive all that long."

"And how long will you live?" Kai asked.

"If I take good care of myself I will live for several thousand years," shereplied, as if it were no big deal.

"We do not even know what the S'o'h Maiyuoom were doing ten thousand yearsago.  That was before we took our place among the stars," Kai sighedin a somewhat amazed tone. "Do you not find the prospect of living so longto be frightening?"

"No," she answered. "Why should I?  As long as there is more to learn,I don't think I shall ever grow tired of living.  And I am fascinatedby everything.  I seek to understand the highest of the high. As long as there are questions to be asked and answers to be sought, I shallalways have reason to live."

"Is that why you travel?" Kai asked her.

"Yes," Holly replied.  "So far, I've spent my entire life being educated. I learned many things in books and in classes and even through experiments. But I learned only what others taught me.  And while they taught mewell and I learned much, they only whetted my appetite for knowledge andgave me an insatiable desire to seek the highest possible truth and meaning. I want to understand the mysteries of the universe..."

"And you don't already?" Kai asked, looking around him in amazement. "I would think that a civilization that possessed such power to do the impossible,would know everything."

"No Kai," Holly answered.  "You do not understand the way science works. Every answer turned up by science invariably raises even more questions. So while one may obtain a deeper understanding of the cosmos, the cosmosbecomes much deeper.  Even Time Lords do not know everything."

"Time Lords?" Kai asked.  "Is that what your people are called? It sounds very important."

"It is," Holly replied.

"And yet with all these wonders that your race has achieved, have you notexperienced love?" Kai asked.  He hadn't meant to ask that questionof all questions, but it had been on his mind for quite some time. He realized that such emotions that most beings, even the Seldati that heloathed with a passion, experienced - seemed completely alien to this being,this Time Lord, who looked upon the common things of the universe with astrange sense of curiosity and wonder as if this were the first time shehad seen them.

"What do you mean?" Holly asked.

"Did you never grow up among people who loved you?  Did you never fallasleep in the arms of your mother as she sweetly sang to you and vowed toprotect you from all that is evil and unjust in the universe?  Haveyou never loved someone so much that you would give up everything you ownedor every privilege that you had if it meant that they would never have tosuffer again?  Have you never seen anyone that would?"

"I don't suppose I have," she replied in a strange tone.  "Such thingsare..."

"Alien to you?" Kai asked as he looked at her.  "Yes I can tell. Perhaps you have scientific knowledge beyond the wildest dreams of mortalminds, but despite all of this I pity you.  I can tell in the way thatyou look at Mizradal that you yourself have never experienced the one thingthat child needs more than anything else."

"What do you mean?" Holly asked.

"I mean I find it strange that you do not hug her or try to comfort her,"he replied.  Holly thought for a moment.  To be honest such a thoughthad never occurred to her.  She realized from her studies that mosthumanoid species experienced a certain level of affection towards one another. But to her, such affections were completely and totally alien.  It wouldnever have occurred to her in a thousand years to respond to anyone's painwith a hug or touch.  In fact she didn't suppose that she had ever beenhugged or told she was "loved" in the sense that most other humanoid specieswere.  She had been trained to detach herself from such emotions, ifthey ever existed in the first place.  And she was not without emotion- she experienced wonder, excitement, curiosity, delight, and fascination,but she did not experience love or affection in the sense Kai spoke. Nor did she particularly want to.  Not only was it illogical to developsuch feelings for beings that would wither and die before her very eyes,but she found the idea almost repulsive.  Not because they were mortal,but because she didn't particularly crave the sensation of having eitherMizradal or Kai touch her.  The idea of holding the child was not onlyfar from a natural impulse, but even a discomforting notion when suggestedto her.  

Time Lords were used to spending vast amounts of time alone, deep in thought. The only way they really knew how to relate to each other or to other beingswas intellectually and it was the only way in which she felt comfortable. To be honest, even though she wanted Mizradal and Kai with her, she alsodidn't.  She wanted to take a long walk in her TARDIS corridors andenjoy the solitude of pondering the many things that had happened to hertoday.  She wanted to deal with them later, at another more opportunetime when she had thought things through and perhaps had read a little moreto prepare her for the task of educating Mizradal.  And of course, sheneeded to run diagnostics and figure out how to make repairs so she couldleave this planet.  She didn't intend on staying here forever and shesaw no reason why Mizradal or Kai should want to.  After all, this wasnot the best planet in the universe and surely they would agree that travelingwith her was best.  But she didn't want to constantly be pestered withthem either.  In fact, she wanted them to entertain themselves whileshe did whatever it was that she normally did.

"Well Kai, I expect you know how to best take care of Mizradal for the timebeing and she does seem to like you," Holly answered.  "Why don't youplay a game with her or something?  I've got things I need to..."

"Right," Kai interrupted.  "Well someone has to go look after her. You can't just leave her alone."

"Why?" Holly asked.  "It's not a dangerous place."

"Yes," Kai replied, "but she's a child and she's in a new environment. She needs supervision.  I'll go see what she's up to and I'm sure we'llget along.  What are you going to do?"

"Things," Holly answered.  It was far too complicated to explain toKai the sort of things she normally did, particularly when she was so anxiousto start on them.

"Fine," Kai replied.  "I'll go see what Mizradal is up to."  Hewas somewhat annoyed by the strangeness of his companion and yet strangelydrawn to her yet again.  There was something in that look of hers whenshe said "things," that compelled him to stay on and do as she asked. So he went directly back to where Mizradal was.  Only he didn't seeher - he saw an empty box of chocolates.

"Holly," Kai yelled, not one bit excited about the prospect of searching522 rooms for the child.  "I think you should come here.  Mizradalhas run away and I don't even know where to begin looking."

"Run away?" Holly asked, as she entered the room.

"Yes," Kai said, as he held up the box of chocolates.  "She ate allthe chocolates and now I don't know where she is..."

"Well we should find her at once," Holly answered.  "I don't like theidea of her just running around lose in here."  Not so much that shewas concerned for Mizradal as that it made her uncomfortable to think ofsomeone just wandering around her private dwellings.  Kai and Mizradalwere the first non-Gallifreyans she had ever allowed in her TARDIS and shewasn't sure she wanted them poking around.  And she had no idea howMizradal would react to anything because quite frankly she had never seena child before and she was nervous if anything about how to treat Mizradal.

"Well of course we should find her," Kai retorted as he started down a corridor. "I'd hate to think what she might find that could harm her!"  He didn'twant to blurt it out, but it was what he thought.  The alien woman couldhave anything in here and he didn't think a child ought to be wandering aroundplaying with it.

Meanwhile, Mizradal ran down the corridor as fast she could, not sure whereshe had been or where she was going...she just wanted never to be found byanyone.

 

Chapter Five - Serendipity