The Hunters of Gamedon
by Mary Alice Kropp
They were shown to suites of rooms on the second floor of the mansion. Like the rest of the house, the suites were ornately luxurious. Pitchers and basins were provided for washing, and more food and drink were brought. Meg found a wardrobe in her room full of clothing. She selected a simple, silky gown and pulled it on after washing up. She ate a little, and, finding she was tired, crawled under the covers on the bed. It was remarkably comfortable and she was soon asleep.
Downstairs, in the hall where they had first met Jer-El, their host was talking to Karil.
“I do not believe them, Karil,” Jer-El said. “Our planet is not well known. I think they are spies sent from the Federation to gather information.”
“Strangers are a rare occurrence here, it is true,” Karil said, with a nod. “What shall we do?” Jer-El smiled.
“We will simply have to arrange a suitable entertainment for them,” the leader said. “If they wish to gain information on our little hunts, we will just have to arrange one for them.” With a soft chuckle, he turned and left the room, followed by Karil. A few moments later, the servant who had been cleaning in the hall left, also.
Meg was startled awake by the hand shaking her shoulder. She opened her mouth to scream and a hand clamped firmly over it.
“Do not scream, please,” a voice whispered in her ear. “I come as a friend.” She looked up, and recognizing one of the manservants from earlier, nodded her head. He removed his hand.
“You must come with me, quickly,” he continued, urgently. “I must speak with you and your friend. You are in grave danger.” Meg climbed out of the bed and followed the man into the hall. They made their way silently to the Doctor’s rooms. The servant tapped lightly on the door and a few seconds later, the Doctor opened it and they slipped in.
“What’s going on?” the Doctor asked. “Is there some sort of trouble?”
“According to him, yes,” Meg replied. “He says we’re in danger!” Meg looked from the Doctor to the manservant.
“It is true,” the man said. “Jer-El sees you as a threat to his rule here.” He walked over to the foot of the bed and turned to face them again. “I am Savin. I was in the throne room after you left, and overheard Jer-El talking to Karil. They believe you were sent by the Federation authorities as spies. And they cannot afford to have the authorities find out what is going on here.”
“What Federation?” The Doctor looked puzzled. “We have never been here before. And if we don’t even know about this Federation, how can we be spies?”
“I believe you are not from the Federation.” Savin looked grave as he spoke. “I say that because I know the authorities are gathering information against Jer-El, but not through you. You see, I am the spy.” He then quickly outlined the government in their system. There were five planets, each with it’s own independent government, all united under one main authority, called the Federation. All five governments had to conform to one main Federation constitution, though they were free to choose their own method of carrying out its directives. The Doctor nodded.
“Well, what I don’t understand,” Meg said. “Is why that puts us in danger. We aren’t the spies. All we have to do is say so. And you can back us up.”
“I am afraid it is not that simple,” Savin replied, with a shake of his head. “You do not understand everything yet. We are almost ready to move against Jer-El, and I cannot let anything interfere. I cannot defend your claim without jeopardizing my own position.”
“I see,” said the Doctor, thoughtfully. “But just what has Jer-El done? It must be something very serious to warrant all this. And how does that put us in danger?”
“Jer-El had violated the most basic, most sacred tenet of all our peoples.” Savin looked at the floor for a few seconds. “We believe that all life is sacred and to be defended and preserved at all cost. This has always been our first and foremost concern. Jer-El has thrown that belief away because he is bored here. You have seen the planet we live on. It has very little to offer. But life is not bad here. Jer-El, however, craves entertainment and excitement. So he arranges his own “sport.” Every few days, he sends one of our citizens out into the desert, alone and with no food or water. A few hours later, he follows in a tracker. And the hunt begins.” Savin stopped to let his words sink in. Slowly, expressions of shock and disgust formed on the faces of his listeners. Meg was the first to speak.
“You mean, he actually hunts people- as if they were animals?” she said, incredulously. “And kills them? Just for fun?” When Savin nodded, she cried out indignantly. “That’s disgusting! It’s… it’s inhuman!” The Doctor put a hand on her arm and she took a deep breath and fell silent. But she stood tensed in anger at the thought of Jer-El’s hunts.
“All right,” the Doctor said. “Now we know why Jer-El is so anxious not to have anyone from the Federation find out about his little sports. But why does that put us in such terrible danger?” He suspected he knew the answer, but had to be sure. Savin’s next words confirmed his fears.
“Jer-El has decided if you are spies, and are here to find out about what is going on, he will give you a firsthand demonstration. You are to be the objects of the next hunt.” Meg started and looked at Savin with shock on her face. She turned to the Doctor and opened her mouth to speak. The Doctor held up his hand and turned his attention again to Savin.
“What can we do?” the Doctor asked. “You must have some idea, or you wouldn’t be here.”
“Yes,” Savin replied. “I have a network of friends, some of whom work here, as I do, and some from a village not far from here. I am arranging for you to be taken to the village and from there back to your ship.”
“But what about Jer-El?” Meg asked, taking a step toward Savin. “Surely, these terrible hunts cannot be allowed to go on?”
“No, they cannot,” Savin said quietly. “But as I said, we are nearly ready to move against Jer-El. We will take care of this ourselves. I have contacted the Federation and am waiting for a reply before I act. Now, you must stay in your rooms and wait for me to come for you when all is arranged. Can you find your way back to your room?” When Meg nodded, he continued. “Good. I have already been away from my duties too long. I do not want to arouse suspicion. I will come for you soon.”
After the door closed behind him, Meg turned to face the Doctor.
“Now what,” she asked.
“I suppose we do what he said: just wait,” the Doctor replied. “And trust that he will be able to get us out. If we can get back to the TARDIS, we’ll be safe.” He began to reach for the door handle, then stopped. He crossed the room to where his jacket hung over a chair back, and began rummaging through the pockets. When he came back, he handed Meg a small metallic sphere. “Here, take this in case we get separated.”
“What is it?” Meg asked. She turned the sphere over in her hand.
“Homing device,” the Doctor replied. He showed her how to use it to track the location of the TARDIS. “If we should get separated, this will help you to make your way to the TARDIS. Just go there and wait for me, if I’m not already there. Here, better take a spare key, also.” He pulled a key out of his pocket and handed it to her. “Now, go on back to your room and try to relax. We’ll be out of this soon.” He opened the door to let her out and gave her a smile. She shook her head and made her way quickly back to her room. Despite the Doctor’s words, she didn’t feel very confident.
And her confidence wasn’t boosted any when, several hours later, three guards, armed with rifles, came into her room and ordered her to get dressed. They waited while she did, and led her out of the room and down the stairs. A serving girl who had been coming up the staircase turned and hurried back down when she saw them. A few moments later, there was an urgent knock on the Doctor’s door. When he opened it, Savin stood there, an worried expression on his face.
“Come quickly,” the manservant said. “I must get you out of here immediately!” The Doctor picked up his jacket and joined Savin in the hall.
“What about my companion?” he asked, as he pulled the jacket over his sweater. “Have you gotten her yet?”
“No,” Savin said, gravely. “One of my informants saw her being led away by guards a short while ago. We will come back for her after we get you to safety.”
“No!” said the Doctor, emphatically. He grabbed Savin’s arm to stop him from heading off down the hall. “I will not leave until we know she is safe, also. I brought her here by mistake and it’s my fault she is involved in this. I won’t leave her.” Savin shrugged and led him back in the other direction.
“I suspect they have taken her to the prison level,” he said as he opened the door to a narrow, back staircase. “We will see if we can find her, but it won’t be easy. The cells are well-guarded.” They crept down the stairs to the lowest level under the house. When they reached the heavily barred door leading to the prison area, Savin motioned the Doctor into a side corridor.
“You wait here. I will arouse less suspicion, especially if they have discovered you are gone from your room. I have an associate here who will tell me what is happening.” He walked up to the door and knocked on it. A small window in the top opened and Savin exchanged a few words with the guard on the other side. The door opened and Savin disappeared inside.
The Doctor waited in the corridor impatiently. Every time he heard the door open, he peered anxiously around the corridor’s end, expecting to see Savin returning. Just as the Doctor decided to try the door himself, Savin reappeared.“The news is not good,” he said. “My contact says she was brought here briefly, but taken out again. He suspects the hunt will begin shortly. Come; we must find out.” Savin led the Doctor back to the staircase and they climbed up two levels. They went through a door and entered the kitchen. A serving girl met them.
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