Long time lurker, recent commenter, I wrote this last week in anticipation of the Doctor Who Christmas Special, even though I haven't/can't see it because I'm still catching up on Netflix. I love the show, but some things (especially with Tenant's almost rap-like ramblings) are a little too much. Enjoy.
The ship's deck was harsh and cold, and Captain Koya found himself lighting yet another cigar to stave off the chill building in his chest. All around him was the cool, thick fog of desolation. Even the powerful light beams coming off the mast of the boat could not pierce the coat that had surrounded them for days. In another time the Captain would have upped the energy going to the beams, perhaps even found a way to banish the disgusting fog all together. But these were hard times. When even the decadent fools in Babylon cut back on their extensive parties, you knew that something had gone very wrong.
He looked at the metallic (yet amazingly comfortable glove) that surrounded his right hand, checked the gauge for the thousandth time that day. Low. It wasn't surprising. They hadn't made a find in weeks, and while word on the street was that supplies were low across the entire quadrant a part of him still hoped that some other ship, hopefully one not caught in this treacherous fog, would find something they could send over. Apparently that was yet to happen.Blasted stories and their improved realism.
I mustn't let it get to me, Koya thought as he puffed his cigar and stared into grey nothingness. His crew was young. They had never experienced a shortage this long before, and their anxiety had started showing. If he even hinted that this was anything but normal all hell would break loose on the ship, and even their reserves would not be enough to help them then.Somebody will find something, he said to himself, staring at the blinking red light on his glove.Somebody must.
Footsteps reached his ears from the right and he turned to see his First Officer, Mbak, approaching rather hurriedly.He didn't materialise beside me, Koya noticed, the unease he had been fighting growing even more. Even Mbak had started scrimping on his own personal stash, and this was a man that enjoyed beaming his messages directly into the minds of the ship's crew for laughs. He looked around the deck to make sure no one else could see the First Officer's rapid approach; it wouldn't do to have the other crew members talking about this anomaly.
Mbak finally reached him and there was a glint in his eye, an odd mix of hope and disbelief that made the Captain's heart start beating faster.What had he found?
"Good evening, sir," Mbak said, saluting as he came to a stop before the Captain.
"Evening officer," Koya replied, his eyes fixed on the device in Mbak's hand.
"Fog seems lighter, doesn't it sir?" Mbak said, gesturing at their surroundings.
Typical Mbak, Koya thought, doing his best to remain calm in the face of uncertainty. The man was trying to make small talk in the middle of an emergency.
He shrugged noncommittally. "Seems the same to me."
Mbak chuckled lightly. "Must be me then. It's been a while since I've been on deck."
"Indeed," Koya muttered, his jaw clamping harder on the cigar in his mouth. Normally he enjoyed listening to whatever Mbak wanted to say, but not now, not today. He wasn't quite sure how to rush things though; the fact that Mbak had come to deliver this message in person meant that the man felt it was important. He didn't want to rattle him even further.
"You remember the mobile search rig I cooked up a few months ago, sir?"
Koya's face lit up. "Yes?" How could he forget? It had been the talk of the entire ship for weeks. Koya had even promised the man an official commendation when they docked. Of course that hadn't happened because the shortage had caused them to go into conservative mode shortly after, cutting off all but the most essential services.
"Well, I've been running some searches the past few days…"
"You've what?!" Koya all but shouted, his cigar falling out of his mouth as he looked at the glove in his hand. The gauge was unchanged.Had he missed the drop? Had Mbak found a way to circumvent him?Searches were expensive; someone of Mbak's rank should know better than to…
"Relax, sir. I used my personal supply. I understand the importance of conservation in these trying times."
Koya exhaled and glared at his First Officer. That at least explained the walking. Could the man not have led with that? "Well?" he snapped.This had better be good.
"Well sir, I did tiny checks on Star Trek, Star Wars, some comic books… you know, the usual stuff, but they'd all been emptied. But yesterday sir, yesterday I… I found something."
Koya's heart rate picked up again. "What did you find, Mbak?"
"I'm not sure, sir," the First Officer replied. "I've never see anything like it before."
He stepped forward and presented his display to the Captain. Koya took it from him and stared at it. It showed a man and a woman in front of some strange looking control panel.
"This is feeding off your supply?" he asked as he watched the duo move across the screen.
"Yes, sir. I cached some content to lessen the load, but none of it is powered by the ship."
On the screen the man, dressed in a suit and an odd pair of shoes, smiled at his female companion and shouted "Allons-y!", pushing a lever on the panel that made the entire place shake and rumble. After much fanfare the rumbling came to a stop and they stepped out of what appeared to be a police box. Koya's eyes widened.
"They were in a police box?"
Mbak smiled. "Yes, sir. It's bigger on the inside. Some kind of transdimensional engineering."
Koya nodded quickly, his initial amazement gone as scepticism set in. "Impressive, Mbak, but this will not be enough to…"
"Keep watching, sir."
The scene on the display changed to another where the man and his companion stepped out of the same box, but this time… "Is that 19thcentury England?" he asked.
"Time travel too, eh? Not bad. But it still won't be enough Mbak. This shortage is everywhere. There is no way this is going to fix…"
"Sir, I may be young but I'm not foolish. I would not have brought this to you unless I felt it warranted your attention. Keep watching."
There was another scene change, and this time they saw two soldiers facing a tiny armoured man with a large head. Koya watched as the tiny man ordered one of the soldiers to fire at him, but when the soldier pulled his trigger nothing happened. He glanced at Mbak, who simply gestured to screen before he could ask.
"The room is contained in a cordolaine signal exciting the copper surface of the bullets," the little man said. "…rendering your guns useless."
Koya's eyes widened. "What?!"
"I know sir. 'Cordolaine'. I was as stunned as you are. But there's more."
He turned to the screen to see another scene, this time with the suited man from before scratching his head in front of another control panel. "… Difficult," he said, "Charlotte doesn't have enough memory space left." He smiled suddenly and shouted: "Easy! I'll hook myself up to the computer; she can borrow my memory space!"
Koya stepped back. "What did he just say?"
Mbak smiled. "He will share his memory with a computer."
"Did… did he do it?"
"No, sir." Mbak replied. "Some other woman did; apparently it would have killed him. But it was possible sir; I think that's the important thing. Here a human can share memoryspacewith a computer."
"This is incredible," the Captain said as scenes flicked on and on on the little screen. "What… what's that thing he's always carrying?"
"Sonic screwdriver," Mbak replied.
"Sonic screwdriver, sir."
"What can it do?"
"As you can see," Mbak said, flicking shots across the screen. "Anything. Open doors, control computers, damage Cybermen." He paused. "But it doesn't work on wood."
Koya could not keep his mouth closed. "This is amazing. And how does it work?"
"I have scoured shot after shot, sir. Essentially, it just works."
"Haha! What… What's this now?" The screen showed a man transforming into a hideous scorpion-looking monster.
"Oh that sir. That is the result of the Lazarus Experiment. Apparently one can manipulate DNA to make oneself younger, but the DNA becomes unstable…" he acknowledged Koya's look with a slight nod, "…and transforms the subject into one of humanity's 'unused evolutionary paths'."
"Wait!" Koya lifted his hand. "Now there're two of them. Why are there two of them?" As they stared at the screen the suited man explained in his usual fast-paced voice something about human contact with Time Lord energy causing an 'instantaneous biological metacrisis'. Even Mbak was stunned into silence. "Well, I've never heard that one before."
"That is the name of his race, sir."
"Hold on… what's going on? Is he okay?"
Mbak looked at the display. "Oh. He's absorbed an excess amount of radiation. He'll be dead in a bit."
"Hmm," Koya grunted. "Too bad. At least we have enough to…"
"You'll want to stay for this, sir."
They watched him walk into his bigger-on-the-inside police box, saw him look sadly at his now-glowing hand.
"What's going on?" Koya asked, glancing between Mbak and the screen in his hands.
"I don't want to go," said the man in the screen, and suddenly his entire body was glowing a bright golden yellow.
"What… what's happening Mbak?!" Koya tried not to shout. "His face… it's … it's changed!"
Mbak smiled. "He's regenerated sir."
"Regenerated. Happens whenever he's about to die."
"No." Koya said, handing his First Officer the display and turning to face the fog. His fingers were trembling. "No no no no no. He… he can't die?"
"No, sir. Not to my knowledge."
"No." The Captain pulled out a device from his pocket. Mbak stepped back. "Sir… using the Anything-o-meter will take at least 10% of our reserves!"
"I have to be sure Mbak!" Koya snapped as he held it against the display in Mbak's hand. He flicked a button on the meter, and waited a few seconds. Around them the lights grew a little dimmer, the fog a little thicker, as the Anything-o-meter dug into their reserves. And then Koya's eyes widened and he started laughing.
"What, sir? What is it? How does he regenerate?"
Koya, still chortling like a drunken idiot, held up the meter to Mbak's eyes. Mbak stepped back in disbelief. The tiny display on the rectangular device read: "Something something Time Lord DNA."
Koya turned around and pocketed the Anything-o-meter, lifting his gloved hand to his face and pushing a button on the metal.
"Lift the sails!" he bellowed, his voice carrying across the entire deck. "Extend the wings!"
"Sir?" Mbak asked, dropping his display on the dash beside the Captain.
"What is the name of this man, Mbak?"
"The Doctor, sir."
"Well then," the Captain said as the steering wheel rose from the ground before him. "We are going to find ourselves this Doctor. Doctor who?"
"Just The Doctor, sir."
He lifted his gloved right hand and gave a little wave and suddenly the fog had vanished, the light beams casting their intense glow across the starry skies that surrounded them.
Beside him Mbak's display showed an android connecting with his implanted memories and stopping the 'Oblivion Continuum' inside him from detonating because, as the new Doctor put it, he (an android!) had found a reason to live.
This universe is a gold mine!the Captain thought as his zero-point hyperneutrino-powered space whale began to move. The new-fangled storytellers could keep their realistic blockbusters. This regenerating time-travelling Doctor with a sonic screwdriver had all the handwavium he needed.
(First published on Thoughts From A Distant Land)