Doctor Who_ The Eleventh Tiger Part 39
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'These men are good companions, not animals to be slaughtered,' the bandit pleaded. 'If you think differently, then it's you who deserves to be executed.'
Then, out of the corner of his eye, the abbot thought he saw something move on the ceiling. A light of some kind, but that was impossible. He started to look up, but remained conscious of the bandit.
There was a light there, rippling and glowing. He opened his mouth to call to his two comrades, but never got as far as emitting a sound. The light gathered itself, and leapt down at him, blinding and burning him so much that he couldn't stand it.
He tried to scream, but nothing would come. He tried to move, but couldn't feel his legs, or anything else.
Then there was a merciful blackness.
He was lying on the floor of the cave that the bandits had sheltered in. All of a sudden it was more brightly lit, and he wasn't sure that he was in the spot where he had been holding the bandit leader. His whole body ached with a deep, icy fire that he had never imagined in his worst nightmares.
Every limb felt as if it weighed a hundred tons and would need a thousand men to move it an inch.
The light stung his eyes, and the clothes he was wearing seemed to be entangling him. They weren't the monk's robes he had been used to since he was three, but finer, heavier garments. The robes of a noble, or government official, perhaps.
He tried to move his arms and groaned with the effort.
Slowly, as slowly and painfully as if his arms were trying to push a mountain across the land, he rose. Through eyes that were throbbing and out of focus, he could make out a mixture of Chinese and white men. Most of the white men were soldiers in uniform, apart from a man in strange clothes and an older, white-haired man.
'What happened? Who are you?' he asked.
The old man pushed the nearest soldier's gun down with his walking stick. 'I don't think you'll be needing that now, young man.' He stepped forward, looking the abbot in the eye. 'May I ask you your name, sir?'
'Abbot Wu.' He looked around. 'Where have the bandits gone?'
'My comrades and I...,' as if he had been called, Yen groaned, beginning to wake up, '...pursued nine bandits to these caves. They had robbed a caravan carrying supplies to our temple. We tracked them to here, and fought them.
Then...' His voice trailed off and he looked baffled.
'You don't remember anything after that?' the old man asked. It was as much a statement as a question.
'No. One moment we were binding the wrists of the bandits, and the next I woke up just now.'
The journey back to Canton would take a lot longer than the journey from it, Ian knew. He didn't mind in the slightest, if it meant that: a) the threat was over, and b) he and Barbara could be together.
It was a pleasant September day as they relaxed on the boat carrying them down the Pearl River towards the city.
Barbara leant against Ian, and said, 'I wanted to ask you something.'
'Anything.' He realised that the word probably sounded more soulful than he had intended it to, and thought about correcting this. 'You know you could ask anything of me,' he said, finally. 'What did you have in mind?'
'Oh, nothing much. I was just wondering if you'd marry me, if ever we get home.'
Anderson watched them from the wheelhouse and felt a certain warmth. It did a body's heart good to see two young folk so much in love. He let his lip curl, causing a couple of soldiers to look away hurriedly lest he take a punishing interest in them.
It was only when he was alone - in the privacy of his billet or, in this case, the wheelhouse, that Anderson could finally relax. A letter from his daughter had arrived today, and he could let his face show a smile as he read it in private.
Then one day, as the red leaves turned to the shade that was the most valuable form of gold in the world, Wong Fei-Hung, his wife - and that was a wedding the time travellers would long remember - his father and Major Chesterton said their goodbyes to the Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Vicki at the old temple, and watched them file impossibly into the box that was still there.
There was a strange roaring sound from the temple. The box faded away.
'Do you think we'll ever see them again?' Major Chesterton asked nobody in particular.
'They will always be with us,' Fei-Hung said. 'You can't kill what someone means to someone else.'
Inside the Ship the instruments ticked and whirred, and Ian felt at home for the first time in two years. Barbara sewing a dress for Vicki seemed a disturbingly comfortable sight, as did Vicki getting in the way.
The Doctor brushed an imaginary speck of dust off the console with a handkerchief, and looked paternally over the console room.
This, too, was a familiar and comfortable sight - a far cry from the days when Ian and Barbara had viewed the old man as a cold-blooded kidnapper who had abducted them for the sake of his granddaughter.
What sort of person wouldn't be capable of doing something stupid, in a moment of panic, to protect his family? Ian sometimes thought this particular fallibility was reassuring.
It made the Doctor less cold-hearted and alien than he might otherwise have seemed.
In many ways, it made him seem more human than many of the parents Ian and Barbara dealt with in the course of their work as teachers at Coal Hill School.
What made Ian feel most comfortable, however, and most complete, was the peace that had come with saying 'Yes'.
And there the Taoist priest stopped writing, with the rising of the sun. The cold night had indeed passed agreeably. But the priest's curiosity was not sated, and he asked the jade: 'What of the one you mentioned? What of his tale?'
'If you return this way another night,' the jade told him, 'that tale will pass that night as agreeably as this one, for it is another story.'
Translated by Major William Chesterton (retired) in 1890, from the surviving fragment of 'Mountains and Sunsets' by Ho Lin the surviving fragment of 'Mountains and Sunsets' by Ho Lin Chung (AD 1537). Chung (AD 1537).
NOTES, THANKS, ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS.
AND OTHER WAFFLE.
Bloody typical, isn't it? Just as I think I've completed the set, written for all the TV Doctors and can finally relax... they bring out another one! But I don't think any disappointment'
has ever been so pleasing.
This book was at one stage intended to be a more serious character-historical in the vein of Wages of Sin, Wages of Sin, but the amount that is known about Wong Fei-Hung's life is actually not very much. So, I hope you've enjoyed this Doctor Who/Golden Harvest kind of romp... but the amount that is known about Wong Fei-Hung's life is actually not very much. So, I hope you've enjoyed this Doctor Who/Golden Harvest kind of romp...
Special mention and thanks must go to: TP Chai, Keith Topping (he told me to keep that that joke in...), Warren Albers (who has infinite patience for emails about fiddly language changes) and Nick Wallace. A special 'hi' to all the folks on the Outpost Gallifrey forums as well. joke in...), Warren Albers (who has infinite patience for emails about fiddly language changes) and Nick Wallace. A special 'hi' to all the folks on the Outpost Gallifrey forums as well.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR.
David A. Mclntee has written more Doctor Who novels than he can count these days. A seasoned traveller, he is married to Ambassador Mollari and lives in Yorkshire with B'Elanna, Seven of Nine, a live Cannonball and a stripy git.
When not writing books he explores historical sites, researches Fortean subjects, teaches stage-fighting workshops and collects SF weaponry. His role models in life are the Fourth Doctor, Kerr Avon, Graeme Garden and Eddie Hitler, so members of the public should be wary of approaching him.
One of the statements on this page is untrue.
That's it, then. Go on, haven't you folks got no homes to go to? You can put the book down now, there's only the inside of the back cover left...
Doctor Who_ The Eleventh Tiger Part 39
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Doctor Who_ The Eleventh Tiger Part 39 summary
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