XTC
by Henry Wyckoff
Crossover: XF, DW (4th Doctor), HL, ST:Voy, and the world of David Eddings



Chapter 17

Pain Through Comedy


Zedar and Chuck walked into the house, where the others still stood in horrified confusion. Chuck's mouth was set in a stoic frown, while Zedar looked sad. "I thought I felt as much."

"What did you feel?" demanded Methos.

"I felt a presence, you might say. A demon walked here."

Methos could identify with the 'felt a presence,' but the second statement shook him pretty hard. "What do you mean?"

Zedar shrugged, "Something evil happened, as you can plainly see, and its origin is not of this world." He looked at Chakotay. "Perhaps you might be able to illuminate the issue further? Where were you journeying while your body lay on the ground?"

Everyone turned their eyes to Chakotay, who muttered, "There's not much I can say about that." Then he raised his eyes to Zedar, "How would you know anyway?"

"I know what I know. As do you."

Janeway looked at him with her eyebrows raised, and he relented, "I was in the Dreamworld, and I was talking to the Vulture spirit. He didn't tell me a lot, but he asked me some hard questions."

Zedar nodded, "And so...?"

"He said that we should prepare for a confrontation, but he said that he couldn't say anything other than that, because it was against the rules. Apparently, agreements have been made, and if those agreements are broken, something bad will happen."

Duncan spoke up, "You're telling me that you take this seriously?"

"Yes, Mr. MacLeod, I do. I take it seriously because there are two obvious interpretations: one, it is my own subconscious mind making sense out of what I see and observe; or two, it is a true animal guide showing me the way. Either way, it is something to deliberate on."

At that moment, Jan's body began to convulse and flop about on the floor. An unearthly scream erupted from his body, and a hand suddenly punched out through the chest, in the region of the heart. It was a human hand and foream, and the closed fist opened up all the way. Blood flowed down the sides of the arm.

"What the hell?" Chuck had his gun out in a heartbeat.

Zedar put a hand on the man's arm, lowering the gun, "There is nothing you can do. The demons are doing things to Jan in a different place, and we see a reflection of that here."

He looked at the others, "The confrontation that Chakotay spoke of is beginning now. What you see here is but a foreshadowing of that, but there is nothing that you can do. You might kill Clovis' body, but the part that is him is elsewhere; therefore I must take the fight to him." He looked at each of them, "I will go, as will Chuck, but I need a third. Three are needed for this kind of journey."

They looked at him in bafflement, "What are you talking about?"

"They have entered another place with the aid of XTC. We must go to the same place and deal there." He looked sadly at Clovis, but whatever his thoughts were then, he didn't say.

* * * *

Pancho tried to shake out the confusion in his head, and failing that, barked at the others, "There's nothing more that we can do here, so we might as well go back!"

Scully protested, "We can't do that just yet! There are formalities we have to follow!"

"Then let the dunkaholics handle it!" he pointed at the two cops, who had managed to live through the chaos of the last hour without losing their sanity.

The cops were angered by that, "What did you call us?"

Pancho shook his head, "Look, what is it that we're going to accomplish here? Nobody's going to care if we take off!"

Silk spoke up, "What are we going to do then? Drink whatever liquor is left in the cabinet?" All the frustration that had been building up for the last few hours was suddenly bursting out of him. "We have all the answers we need right here! The Dagashi was hired by someone who lives in this city, so he can tell us where to find the people responsible for this!"

Powys smiled, "It has some possibilites..."

"Wait a moment!" Scully shook her head. "Why would he know any more now than he did before? When we put him in jail, he couldn't even speak English!"

One of the cops spoke up, "Excuse me, Agent Scully, but we took Ms. Callaway's statement, and she said that the man spoke reasonable English, considering that he's a foreigner."

That startled Scully. Now that she took a good look at the Dagashi, she could tell that there were some things that seemed different. Subtle qualities, for sure, that nagged at her brain. Screaming something. "You're a good actor, I'll give you that much."

He spat at her, actually hitting on target.

Scully slowly and deliberately wiped the spit off her forehead with a kerchief that she kept in her pocket -- for a totally different reason, of course, but it served. Mulder might have given the guy a good round of strangling by this point, but Scully didn't believe in that kind of behavior. However, she also understood when drastic measures are needed.

"Pancho," she spoke up, still looking at the Dagashi. "Does your truck have a tape player?"

"Huh?" He'd been in his own thoughts. "Sure. Why?"

"Does it have good speakers?"

"Of course! Why do you want to know?"

She smiled, "I think I have an idea..."

A few minutes later the Dagashi was securely tied up inside of the truck, but not gagged, just immobilized. The tape was inserted, and the windows rolled up. The windows did an admirable job of blocking out the sound, but a little hint of what was going on inside was enough to make even those outside the truck cringe.

At first, the Dagashi was shocked, his eyes wide open, and then he began to writhe in his bonds, but to no avail. That's when he became truly frantic.

"My God!" exclaimed Pancho in pained tones, his eyes squinting. "What the hell _is_ that?"

The Doctor looked totally shocked for the first time in his life. His jaw even dropped. "Impossible! It can't be!"

Silk was totally disgusted, "If anyone made noises like that where I come from, they'd be burned at the stake!"

Sarah smiled, tapping her feet, "Sounds nice. Kind of familar too, but I can't place it."

The Doctor looked at Sarah in something bordering on disbelief.

Scully's grin was almost demonic, "It's Pat Boone in a metal mood. I think it's 'Crazy Train' right now." She looked thoughtful. "So let's see... He's survived 'Paradise City', 'Enter Sandman', and it's now... 'Smoke on the Water'."

The backup singers joined in for the chorus. Pancho remembered exactly why he'd hated the 70s. TV shows especially.

Powys was amused, "Interpol would kill for talent like yours, you know that? The question now is, how long can he last?"

The Dagashi began to scream and howl, but it was barely audible. It was something along the lines of, "...make it stop...!"

Pancho was about to run to the truck, but Scully stopped him, "Wait til the song is over? Remember that we're here too."

The two cops started to look nervous, "We got things to do . . ."

* * * *

The pimp was coasting on some opium. He didn't touch the XTC, but that didn't mean that he couldn't have a good time. His tastes ran in the kinds of things that weren't lethal. Opium highs were the stuff of paradise, and once you started opium, nothing else compared. Anything with alcohol was a trip to hell compared to opium.

"Ahhhhhh..." the long pipe slipped from his fingers and crashed to the floor. He was so lethargic that he didn't care.

* * * *

Clovis laughed loudly, "This is going to be fun!"

"That's the spirit!" the gentleman clapped him on the back.

Jan was beginning to heal, but the look in his eyes showed that the stuff inside would take more time to heal. It would heal, this time, but how many times could an immortal bounce back from the edge?

"So, tell me, Jan?" asked Clovis. "How do you like it?"

"Step a little closer and I'll show you," whispered Jan, still immobilized by the chains.

Clovis laughed, "I don't think you'll be doing anything any time soon." He picked up a surgeon's scalpel, holding it up in the air and looking at it from various angles. "You see, I think I'm going to stay here for good, and I think that you should too."

Jan laughed a painful, ragged laugh, "I don't know what this place is, but the drug is going to leave our systems, and when it does, I'm going to put you through my own gauntlet!" Blood flowed from his mouth. Nothing new. It had already flowed a great deal already.

"You really don't know what this place is, do you?"

Jan looked uncertain. "What do you mean?"

Clovis shook his head in wonder, "Didn't you pay attention to the way you were feeling as you came here? This isn't a drug trip! This place is even more real than the place we came from! More real! Here," he spun around once, his arms out, "is where dreams may become reality." He stared into Jan's eyes, which couldn't look away. "In the place from which we came, I was miserable. The reason that you don't understand my depression is because you never looked up. This is heaven: a place that gives those who seek it the ability to inflict pain on others. *That* is pleasure!"

* * * *

The Dagashi was pretty shaken, but he was still keeping his mouth shut.

Powys was disappointed, "A shame. I thought he was a raving maniac there for a moment."

Pancho snorted, "Get real. He's just softened up."

"Then what do we do?"

"How about Scully puts on some high heels and gives his special place a good stomp with a few twists?" Everyone stared at Powys, who shrugged, "It works! Of course, we have to wait for him to catch his breath, but the look on his face would be worth it!"

Scully threw her hands in the air, "This is getting nowhere! He's not going to talk, so we might as well throw him in holding."

The two cops, who had decided to stay after all, informed her, "He broke out of the cell where he was put the first time and killed everyone there. We finally found it out, 'cause we have widespread emergencies all across town."

"What is it, a riot?" asked the Doctor, looking around suspciously.

The one on the right shook his head, "Some new drug hit town, and it's killed thirty people today alone. They figure maybe sixty more. Everybody's scrambling around."

Everyone looked at one another.

Scully held in her frustration, "We really need answers."

The cop on the right looked at Scully, "You're the Feds working on the drug case?"

She nodded.

"We might be able to give you a hand then."

"Oh?"

They nodded. The one on the left said, "My brother is in narcotics. He has a few informants who know the whole town inside and out. All I have to do is make the call and he can get here in ten minutes tops. A few more minutes, and we're on our way."

Pancho nodded. For him, things were beginning to make a lot of sense. He couldn't help but feel worry, however.

* * * *

For the last few moments, Janeway had been suffering from selective vision. She'd seen Zedar, but hadn't noticed Chuck until now. She pulled out her phaser, "Stand where you are!"

Chuck smiled, holding up his hands lightly, "Nothing personal, lady. I was just doing my job. It wasn't my fault you dodged! If you'd only stayed still like you were supposed to, you wouldn't be complaining about getting shot!"

Janeway's jaw dropped and she tried to gain composure, but what came out was a shocked and indignant, "Your job? What, pray tell, would your job be?"

"It was to kill you all, plain and simple. My ex-boss didn't like you."

"Ex-boss?" Methos raised his eyebrows.

"Yeah. I figure that since I plugged most of you through of holes, and I got killed for my trouble, that I did the job. I don't plan to renew."

"You got killed?" Methos raised his eyebrows even higher.

He shrugged, "I got better."

"Does your boss have a name?" asked Duncan, stepping forward.

"Not that I can recall. He always turned off the lights and talked with a funny voice. I think he talked through a speaker."

"That's odd," muttered Janeway.

"It wasn't my job to make observations."

"But you observered how to get to where he is," Duncan hoped.

"Of course. How else was I to get paid?"

"Where is he?"

He shrugged, "What's it worth it to you?"

Duncan came forward, grabbing the man by the lapels, "Look here, Chucky!" He started to slam the biker against the closest wall, "I'm not --"

"--going to do a thing!" Chuck finished, looking down at Duncan, who lay on the floor with his right arm pulled out of the socket and blood seeping out his mouth.

Janeway reminded Chuck about a basic fact, "Try that again, and I'll fire."

"I was just defending myself, lady," he raised his hands again, "you saw it yourself!"

"And you provoked him! Don't do it again!"

He shrugged, "You're the boss."

Methos started to pace back and forth, "I think that we should go after this 'boss'. I just wish I could get hold of Agent Scully. I don't think we should ruin her investigation by acting without her knowledge."

Janeway smiled, "That's one problem easy to solve." She slapped her commbadge, "Captain to Nightman."

A few moments later, there was a short beep, "Acknowledged. Nightman here."

"Chuck is willing to tell us where his boss is."

"Funny thing. We're talking to a narco agent who has photos of all the recreational pharmacists in town. I wasn't surprised, but the Dagashi isn't on record here. So I'm pretty sure that he didn't have a base here first."

Janeway nodded. Funny thing about reflexes, "That makes sense. Any leads though?"

"The Dagashi isn't talking, and Agent Scully insists on following the rules. Powys came up with a pretty creative idea, but nobody'll have any of it."

"Is Agent Scully there?"

"I'm here," her voice was very faint. If sounds could look like anything, Janeway thought she'd see raised eyebrows. "I heard everything. We're about five minutes away, so we'll meet you there."

"What about your informant?"

"He'll come with us, and we'll make a plan after that."

"Captain out."

"Pretty nifty walkie-talkie," observed Chuck, raising his eyebrows.

Janeway looked at Zedar, who shook his head. It figured that Chuck was a clever man all by himself. Or maybe he had different suspicions.

Just then, when things looked like they were reaching some semblance of order, Jan started howling again. His body had evidently healed in the intervening moments from the last time they observed him, and the hand that had punched through his chest had retracted. He was flopping around in a seizure-like fashion, nearly ripping out his lungs with his screaming.

Nobody seemed to know what to do for him, except get in one another's way.

"MOVE ASIDE!" commanded Janeway, her voice cutting through the jumble of confusion. She had to repeat herself, "GET OUT OF THE WAY!"

Throwing Zedar and Methos out of the way with an adrenalin- fueled strength, she fired her phaser, set at stun. Jan stopped screaming and flopping.

Methos was aghast, "What did you do that for?"

"I only stunned him. Maybe now he won't hurt himself. Not much else we can do, is there?"

Duncan got to his feet, popping his arm back in its socket. He was thinking there was a whole lot that he could do, but he knew that he'd asked for it this time around, so kept quiet.

* * * *

Scully ran in through the door, stopping cold when she saw Jan. "What happened?" The blood drained from her face, showing quite clearly how much makeup she put on her face.

"We're trying to figure that out ourselves," Methos answered. "It appears that Clovis and Jan went on a wild adventure without us, and as you can see, some interesting things are going on."

She observed that Clovis had turned bone-pale, sitting in a tranquil full lotus, while Jan lay on the ground, unspeakably grotesque, blood pooled around him. "What kind of wild adventure?"

Zedar answered, "Jan believed that he wanted to understand the nature of Clovis' condition, but Clovis took Jan into his own domain. Jan is learning a hard lesson, I think."

"What do you mean?" she tilted her head.

"Have you ever wondered what this XTC is? I have seen many drugs in my years, and have seen nothing like it."

The Doctor made it through the door. "I believe I can answer that question. Do you have any?"

"There is some left." Zedar produced a small sandwich bag full of the stuff.

The Doctor took the bag, "This will take a few moments."

"What do you mean?" protested Scully. "A lab would take hours to analyze it!"

"I have something much more refined," he grinned, opening the door to the TARDIS, which had behaved and remained still. Out of habit, he entered his TARDIS alone, but perhaps he wasn't used to making sure that nobody slipped in after him. Or maybe he thought that the female body behind him was Sarah.

Scully was totally shocked at what she saw. "I thought that you had some secrets in here, but I didn't expect to see this!" Nacquainted with an object that played with spatial scaling, she began stammering, "It can't be possible!"

The Doctor sighed wearily, "I really should be more careful . . . But I suppose you had your suspicions. Some of them anyway."

The outside must have been the same size as any phone booth big enough to fit three or four, but the inside was almost as big as a whole house. It was square, and the walls were lined with a white plastic with some kind of uniform lighting behind it. In the center of the room rose a column covered with panels. A cubic frame resting on a cylinder in the center of this column rose and fell. Instrument panels on the column faced every directions.

"I can't believe this..." Scully whispered again. She wasn't about to enter some mental state, however. She spun around to face the Doctor, who was pulling out a briefcase from a cabinet that she hadn't seen before. "Don't tell me the British have this kind of technology!"

"The British don't. None of your race will until the next few centuries, and even then it won't be reliable, or anything approaching this." He opened the case. It looked like any other instrument panel from the '70s -- mostly gray, and covered with knobs and switches.

" . . . your race . . . " she stared at him.

He smiled, holding out his hand, "I'm a Time Lord, not that it means much."

She shook it by habit, confusion evident in her face, fighting with a strong skepticism. "Time Lord?"

"We're kith, who happened to evolve in just the right ways to learn how to manipulate time." He whispered, leaning closer, "But if you ask me, your race beat us to the perfect ice cream sundae by at least thousands of years!" He turned and laid the briefcase out on the table, and said, "Now, let's find out what this XTC is made of..."

Scully looked at the panel with interest. "What is this?"

"It's a chemical analyzer with three tracks. Any solid powder, like this, is deposited, and it splits it evenly. Track one crushes it into a crystal form where the absorption is measured from infrared to ultraviolet. Track two is flame emission and absorption. Track three is Inductively Coupled Plasma emission with a Mass Spectrometer."

Scully was shocked into flatfootedness. "All that in this briefcase?"

"You sound shocked, Agent Scully."

She was stuttering, almost waving around, "It's impossible! An ICP alone would take up a tabletop and need a helium tank! And to crush that much powder into a crystal, you'd need a press and a vacuum pump!"

He smiled with a soft laugh, "Of course you do. This just happens to be more refined technology. You're used to the Enniac, and I'm used to the . . . let's just say something much smaller and faster. It's microscale, so it should run faster too."

She walked around the large room, "Frankly, I'm surprised you're telling me all this."

"You expect me to tell you it's all a dream?" When she didn't answer immediately, he continued, "It is a bit inconvenient when I have to deal with unexpected visitors like yourself, but I've always believed it's better in the long run just to be honest about myself. Mostly they're people like you who are just trying to keep informed about what's around them. I believe that you won't betray my secret."

The last was said in a light tone, but Scully knew that it was said with a very serious intention. "How long do you think you can keep this a secret?"

"In the long run, I know already that it's a secret where it counts, and will remain so. If people hear about this TARDIS and don't see proof, they'll accept it as more tabloid nonsense and forget about it. Those who see it and believe . . . let's just say that they'd find out about this on their own anyway."

Scully couldn't help but nod. She wouldn't have believed if she hadn't stepped inside, and Mulder already believed without having known about this. Pretty ironic, how she was the one who unexpectedly saw proof with her own eyes. She wouldn't tell a soul either.

Something occured to Scully, "There's no way that we can get any warrants based on this analysis."

He nodded, "You're right, but it will satisfy my own curiosity, and give us information to act on. I'm sure we can get it analyzed more quickly if we tell the analysts what to look for."

The results came out after a few more mintues. The printout was in English. The Doctor smiled at that, "I end up doing this for UNIT more than anyone else, and they got mad when it was in Gallifreyan."

Scully looked at the various printouts... functional groups, isotope frequency distribution, elemental measurements, metal concentrations...Strangely enough, there was a significant concentration of arsenic, but that wasn't what startled her. The XTC was almost indistinguishable from opium. Dirty opium, that is. She looked at the Doctor. "The symptoms don't look like opium symptoms! It can't be right!"

"Why?"

"Opium puts its users into a calm, dreamlike state. XTC puts its users through a round of hell!"

"But I thought that XTC was like a trip through heaven, and they don't even mind the fact that they're vomiting their brains out."

Scully nodded, "You have a good point. Clovis mentioned as much. He said that it was so wonderful that he almost didn't want to come back. Something like that, anyway. Then he died."

"Maybe there's something hidden here. Doesn't this look like soot to you?"

She looked at it. "There's a lot of carbon sludge there, it looks like, but it's not on the IR or UV scan."

"There's a lot of C-60 and C-70 here."

"Fullerines?"

"It looks like it. I think we might have to see if the fullerines are hiding anything. That isn't going to be as easy of a trick."

* * * *

It was a few moments later when the Doctor and Scully emerged from the TARDIS. Both looked disturbed. By now, everyone else had come in; Pancho, Silk, the prisoner, the two cops, and the narcotics agent. The newcomers had been filled in on the details. The cops were so inundated with these chaotic events that they didn't blink, and the agent was so shocked that all he could do was shake his head. Powys' Interpol badge convinced him that it was an official case, but still...

"So, what is it?" demanded Methos.

The Doctor frowned, "It's a wolf in lamb's clothing. At first, it looks indistinguishable from opium, but it's dirty opium with a lot of soot. The soot is loaded with fullerines that are carrying something."

"What is it?" asked the narcotics agent.

"We don't know," the Doctor and Scully answered at once. They looked at one another with bad feelings gripping their stomachs.

The narcotics agent took a look at the printouts that Scully held. "You're right. It makes no sense. But I can help you for sure now." He smiled, "There's only one person in town who would even think of working with opium. You can help us out too cause the guy is as spotless as Mr. Clean's white suede shoes."

* * * *

Jan managed to break free from the contraption holding him prisoner... after tearing off his left arm. He managed to run ten feet before the monk noticed. Clovis and the British gentleman had gone off somewhere else, so it was just Jan and the monk.

The monk was silent, even as he chased Jan.

//Gotta get back...//

Jan discovered that the monk didn't need to say anything, or even do anything. The spiked chains came from everywhere. From nowhere. Even in the best of conditions, he would have a hard time dodging those chains. As it was, he was knocking on death's door.

The monk stood silently as individual chains wrapped around each of Jan's legs and remaining arm, constricting tightly. Then came the snakes. But not quite snakes; they were more like living electric cords with power drills that moved of their own accord. Drills with quarter-and-half-inch drill bits attached.

The drills all enagaged, whining loudly.

This time, Jan didn't have his mouth gagged. Yet. As it was, he started to writhe and scream, hoping to somehow avoid the thirty-some drills starting to slowly bore into his flesh.

* * * *

In the real world, Jan, even though he had been knocked out by the stunner -- that is, whatever part of him was not elsewhere -- began to scream and howl once more. This time, it was coherent, "Help me! Somebody help me! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA--"

* * * *


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