Chapter Eight

When Rose was put into the chamber and the door was shut, there was complete and utter darkness like there was out beyond the artificial light of the city. She had been left to float in the water inside the container but then she felt it whooshing out beneath her feet and the water rapidly drained out. She put her feet on the floor of the capsule and opened her mouth as the water drained past her mouth. But then the water stopped draining when it got past her neck and she was left to stand in the water.

"Whatever you're going to do to me, you better not do it because you'll be sorry when my mate gets here!" Rose yelled out.

Then suddenly the floor of the capsule lit up with a bright light, so bright Rose couldn't look at it as the water glowed brightly. Then there was a hum and a burst of electricity pulsed through the water, going up her legs and body and back down again and then back up in an agonizing rhythm. Rose was glad they lowered the water past her mouth because she screamed out in agony, her screams echoing off the metal around her. She tried to get away from the shocks but somehow she'd been immobilized. She screamed louder when she felt her legs being forced together and merging into each other. The pain was so intense that Rose managed to scream out the Doctor's name once before she slipped into a merciful blackness and knew nothing more.


Amy and Rory stood before a long wooden table in the center of a large room. Behind them were several long wooden benches. The townspeople sat on them while the elders sat at the table. The Asian man, who introduced himself as Zan, was sitting with five others. All of them were elderly, two Caucasians, a black man, an Indian man, a black woman and Zan. Zan was sitting at the middle of the table while the two Caucasian men and the black man sat to his right and the Indian and woman sat to his left. Rory and Amy explained the situation to the townspeople while Tania sat on the bench directly behind them.

"Are you from one of the sister planets in this galaxy?" Zan asked when they finished speaking.

"No," Amy said, "we're from Earth."

She could tell from their confused looks that none of them knew where that was.

"Trust us," Rory said, "it's very far away from here."

"And you wish to help us?" the elderly woman said.

"Yes. We have a daughter here with us called River and two good friends, the Doctor and Rose."

"And your daughter and your friends are willing to risk their lives to help us?" the elderly black man said. "It is foolish to go on the ocean now since some of our townspeople have been taken."

"But we've handled threats like this before," Rory said. "And we accept that risk if we can solve the mystery of the kidnappings."

The elders leaned in and conferred quietly among themselves while some of the townspeople whispered to each other. Then the back door swung open and Adelaide entered with the Doctor and River.

"Ah, the meeting has started," the Doctor said as they walked up to the Ponds.

"Where's Rose?" Amy said.

"She was taken," River said, sparking off more whispering from the townspeople.

"Who are you?" Zan asked.

"I am the Doctor and this is River."

"The ones who were out on the ocean?" the Indian man asked.

"Yes. We met someone. His name is Circady and he's a merman," the Doctor said. "He's been taking your people because you have been disturbing the merpeople's hunting grounds. They live in a place called Sheshandalla and we're trying to get them to come and speak with you. But they'll only agree to negotiation if you go to them."

"Merpeople?" Zan said. "That's a myth."

"No, there are such things. I saw Circady with my own eyes," the Doctor said. "Your fishing boats encroached on their territory when you went out further to sea and they've been taking the townspeople of Seashell in retaliation."

"Then we should kill them!" a woman yelled out behind them.

The Doctor turned to face the audience.

"Oh yes," he said dryly, "and that would just solve everything immediately. Kill them and they'll kill you and you kill them and they'll kill you and on and on it goes until no one remains."

He looked at the audience, his eyes challenging them to say something and he turned back to the council when no one spoke up.

"My mate has been taken by Circady," the Doctor said. "He pulled her under the water and took her away from us."

"Then she is drowned?" the elderly black man said.

"I don't think so. She was encased in some sort of bubble the acted as protection. She was alive and I think it's because they're holding her hostage so we'll negotiate with them on their own terms. If Rose, my mate, is alive then I'm willing to be your people are as well."

There were more whispers from the townspeople. Zen silenced them with a raising of his hand.

"Do you have a way to contact this…Circady," Zen asked the Doctor.

"Not yet. But I have an idea that might work," the Doctor said. "If he did take Rose as a hostage, I'm sure he'll return soon. And when he does, we need to talk with him first before anyone tries to kill him. He is a prince and if you kill a royal, I guarantee there would be war between your people and theirs."

The Doctor was studying the council while he spoke, gauging their reactions, and he noticed a lack of surprise among the council when he told them there were merpeople off their shores. He wondered if they already knew about their existence and if so, how much did they know. He guessed Zen was the head of the council and he made a mental note to try to talk to him privately and find out the truth.


When Rose finally regained consciousness, she felt a heavy weight around her neck, something that felt constricting. She reached up and felt a large iron collar. She sat up and gasped when she saw herself. She was out of the capsule and had been stripped of her swimsuit. But what really disturbed her was her lower half was now the lower half of a fish. From her waist down there was a beautiful purple fish tail with iridescent scales that shimmered from the glow ball suspended above her. She reached up to her face and noticed the breathing tube was gone but she was breathing without trouble even though she was underwater. Her hand went up higher and the metal band was off her head. She looked around and noticed a long chain was snaking out the back of the collar into the metal wall beside her. She grabbed it and tugged on it four times but the chain didn't give and she sighed angrily. She studied her fish body, running her hands down it. The fins at the end of it were a slightly darker purple than the body and seemed very delicate but when she got onto her belly and tried moving it, the fins moved easily through the water and she went up as far as the collar let her and then she allowed the back of her body to drop so she was basically standing up just above the metal floor. The room she was in was small with one doorway that had no door. She was chained up and she couldn't reach the doorway so she just looked around at her prison.

The walls were all smooth without any imperfections. The only other thing in the room was the glow ball suspended from the ceiling by chains similar to the one holding her at bay. She felt her forehead again. She figured now she could communicate telepathically without the headband and she wondered if she could reach the Doctor. Her lover had telepathic capabilities and the TARDIS link she shared with him gave her a small taste of that ability but it was more a sensing of his nearness rather than being able to have a conversation with him. She decided to try though and she closed her eyes and concentrated, calling to him in her mind in the hopes he would hear her.


Meanwhile, the Doctor and his friends had been escorted to a bedroom on the first floor of the council house. The room was small with a couple of simple wooden beds on either side of a large window. The window had shutters for protection, rather than window glass so with the shutters open, a light breeze blew into the room bringing with it the smell of the salty ocean. Amy and Rory sat down on one bed while the Doctor and River sat down on the other.

"So now what?" Amy said.

"I think the elders know more than they're letting on," the Doctor said. "I think they knew about the existence of the merpeople before we said anything and I want to talk to Zan and learn just how much they know. But for the moment let's hope they're agreeing to help us and…"

He trailed off and an odd look came over his face.

"Doctor?" Amy said. "What's wrong?"

"Rose. I think I hear Rose," the Doctor said to them.

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