The Feast at Vaientaa, Part One

The three stepped out of the TARDIS onto immaculate, polished floors of white that gleamed like marble. In fact, all around them was white, gleaming white, almost surgical. Massive, fluted columns shot up to a dizzying height, forming an Gothic alabaster canopy above their heads. Looking down, the hallways seemed to stretch on forever in similar endless white and, looking closer still, it appeared that they: Russell Garamond, Colleen Ciradh, and the strange man known as the Doctor, were all represented by black, white, and varying shades of gray. Russell whirled around to look at the TARDIS, convinced that the old, familiar time machine would be its customary blue hue, but alas, it to was gray. As Russell turned back around, he noticed Colleen having much the same reaction. Russell opened his mouth to ask the Doctor exactly what was going on.
No words came out.
It wasn’t that Russell couldn’t breathe, or couldn’t feel the proper apparatus in his throat make the sounds for speaking, it was just…silent. As if all the sound was smothered out of the world and, try as he might, Russell wouldn’t be able to change that. He felt himself yell, stamp his feet, even bang on the TARDIS door… but still, nothing. No sound, and no color.
Just what was going on here?
He made his way to the Doctor, who was now several paces down the hall, in hopes of uncovering the answer. Forcibly, if necessary. Before he had a chance to get a hand on the portly man, the Doctor threw up an index finger with a look of mild aggravation. Russell stopped in his tracks, for no other reason than he had seen what havoc the Doctor could wreak with that hand before. A simple finger might paralyze him. Using his free hand, with the other still outstretched, the Doctor began digging into the pocket of the tuxedo jacket he was wearing. They were all dressed to the nines, the Doctor had promised them a sumptuous banquet. His words, not Russell’s.
The Doctor dug and dug into the pocket, deeper and deeper, far past his wrist and gaining on his elbow, which would have seemed patently impossible if it was not the Doctor. His face told an entire story:
no, not that one
not what I’m looking for
oh, I thought I’d lost that!
might use that later…
I really should fix that one
little further…
Colleen was just making her way to Russell when the Doctor finally removed his entire arm from the jacket. The Irish girl’s flouncy evening gown seemed to impede her progress, and she had originally frowned at the idea of such extravagance. Finally, through gentle coaxing from both the Doctor and Russell, she agreed to wear it, and looked absolutely stunning…even if she had had to eschew the high-heels after her third topple in the TARDIS wardrobe. The Doctor finally produced a small, worried looking scrap of leather which may at one point have been a billfold. He held it up and unfurled it, exposing a single piece of white paper. Russell shot the Doctor a look that fairly screamed "you really have lost it," but was forced to change his mind when the paper began writing on itself.
"It’s c–led psychic paper," the widget said, "It see- what you -ant to see."
Unfortunately, the paper looked a little torn, so "want" was missing an "a." The paper soon corrected itself.
"I don’t use it much anym–e. It absorbed mo-t of the blow from a nasty blade on Q—-S."
Again, a word was obscured. The Doctor looked at it, tapped it a few times, gave a sad little shrug and the paper carried on.
"We are on the pl–et known as Vaientaa, on the far end of the Horsehead Ne-ula, about 2000 light-years from E–th."
Russell folded his arms, obviously unimpressed with the geography lesson.
"Why don’t y-u try yellin- at me?"
Russell blinked and looked at the Doctor. The strange little man simply tapped a finger to his head and gave a sly wink. He pulled his sonic screwdriver out of the breast  pocket of his tuxedo, and positioned it in front of the psychic paper. The eerie gray light expanded the paper’s message to the size of an artists’ easel, making it easier to read. The paper continued.
"Vaie–aa is a planet -f monks who have ta–n the most severe -ow of silence. Not only do they not s-eak, but n–ther does their monastery –anet. No sou-d is issued by a single pa–icle within its atmosphere. In the o-d days, it was simply agreed upon, but as tourism has increased, the monks cons–ucted a sonic damper that m-tes everything on the planet. –ditionally, it was decided that color was -inful, and di-tracting from their mission, and a sun filter was installed."
Russell looked around, marveling at what he saw. It wasn’t long, though, before he was called back to the Doctor and his funny paper by Colleen nervously tugging at his french-cuffed sleeve.
"The-r mission i- a search for G-d."
Russell again looked from the makeshift presentation screen to the Doctor, who merely nodded.
"You might -hink having -pulen- banquets and tourist inc-me would -egate their pursuits," the paper displayed, "But it is the only way the monks of Va–ntaa can fur-her their s-arch."
The Doctor turned off the screwdriver, and the screen vanished. He dropped the psychic paper back into his pocket, and Russell almost expected to hear it tumbling and crashing down the Doctor’s literally deep pockets. However, it occurred to him that he wouldn’t be hearing anything. This silence…it was almost maddening!
The Doctor replaced his sonic screwdriver and did a little hitch step, extending the crook of his arm to Colleen. She gave a nervous look to Russell, who quickly interceded and took the Irish girl’s arm. Undaunted, the Doctor slid effortlessly on the polished floor, his two tone spectator shoes gleaming as he took Colleen’s other arm. Colleen’s cheeks turned a darker shade of gray. The Doctor stuck a strong hand forward, proclaiming mutely.
And the three continued down the hall. As they traveled, the massive, Gothic halls gave way to epic, arched windows. Outside, a simple black sky sparkled with countless stars, and three gray moons hovered near the horizon.  They met up with a few other outsiders, some of whom had the prescience to hold signs with their names on them. The Doctor tried fishing for his psychic paper, but Russell stopped him before it began to look lewd. A smile and a kind gesture would work just as well. As they walked, Russell could see people going this way and that about their chores and lives, all dressed in simple black robes with smooth, featureless white masks. He even spotted some which appeared to be using some form of sign language, which was completely utilitarian and without flourish. Each encounter was met with and ended with a small bow with hands clasped, and as the three got closer to the equally stunning banquet hall they started to get the hang of it: moving the mouth toward the face for "food," making a large, expansive gesture for the banquet hall, and simply pointing in the correct direction. It all seemed to work well, but then again this was a world without luxury.
…Until the meal was served.
Gray it was, yes, and without sound, but taste and smell had not been affected. A good hundred paces from the banquet hall, Russell’s mouth began to water, and the directions given by monks began to seem more and more irrelevant. The nose knew the way, and the stomach spurred them on. The silence was proving more and more frustrating, so Russell soothed it by singing the Rolling Stones in his head as much as possible. He was on the second chorus of "Get Off of My Cloud" when they entered the banquet hall.
Spectacular. High, seemingly endless white ceilings with massive chandeliers adorned by countless white, flickering flames. Tables of black wood stretched for what looked like miles, polished to such a glimmering sheen that the candles shone twice. Monks bustled this way and that, setting up a feast that, although unappealing in color, smelled so wonderful as to be irresistible. Upon entering the room, both Colleen and Russell goggled at the scope of it, while the Doctor rummaged in his pockets again and pulled up a small silk purse, which he dropped, unclasped into the hand of a diminutive monk. The monk popped it open and, upon seeing the contents, began to wriggle with a pleasure that it dares not give a name to, lest it be sinful. Instead, it busied itself shooing the Doctor and his companions to a seat near front and center, obviously a spot of some significance. As the three still sat down, Russell and Colleen were shocked to see the cards at their seat immediately display their names:
Dr. Russell Garamond, Physician.
Chicago, Illinois, United States of America, Earth.
Colleen Ciradh, homemaker
Ireland, Earth.
They both exchanged a look, and then looked to the Doctor who, with a cheeky smile, showed them his card, which read:
"Where do you think I got the stuff from?"
He set it back down onto the table, where it reverted to simply "The Doctor." Russell wanted to correct him on a few bits of information presented, but monks soon began whooshing this way and that, bringing out platters and trays and tureens and goblets and piles and piles and piles of the most delicious food you could have ever smelled.
The Feast of Tisina had begun!

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