“Help me Nurse” cried the patient as his pleas went unheard in the still quiet of the observation ward.
Perhaps they weren’t making time for him because he’d had the tenacity to accuse them of being rude to him when admitted. Entirely conjured up by a tired mind trying to while away the hours with a little drama. Perhaps they saw it for what it was and would not entertain the matter with him.
“Please, I’ve spilled water on my bed” he uttered, again the nurses were too pre occupied with more urgent matters.
“Here, I’ll clear that up for you” came a saintly voice from behind him as a tall blonde with striking eyes came in with a sponge and a fresh pair of sheets.
As she set to work cleaning and redressing his bed, the patient realized he hadn’t quite seen her on any of the rotating shifts in the hospital.
“New to the practice?” he asked.
“Stand still, stick out your tongue, say ah” she instructed.
He did so, and she probed him with what looked like some sort of screwdriver contraption.
“Don’t mind me, just a night nurse doing Doctorly things before dawn, I want the place looking pretty snazzy for your guest tomorrow morning”
“My guest?” he asked.
“Sally Sparrow, word is she’s just met you, which means she’ll be here before you know it”
“And how exactly are you aware of this?”
“It took a while, no easy task”
“As is all of life”
“Life is short and you are hot” said the ‘nurse’, beaming at him with a precious and eternal smile.
The ‘nurse’ emerged from the hospital shortly afterwards, the long shift over, and the patient having slipped long into twilight. She headed over to where she had parked her vehicle.
The rain poured down, drenching her.
She glanced once more at the hospital, her hearts all a flutter, a look of nostalgic whimsy overtaking her, as well as a sense of accomplishment, before she turned around and headed back in.
Greeting her inside this veichle, the TARDIS, and headed to the bedroom chambers
There, she found Dan Lewis stretched out on a hammock, a toothbrush still in his mouth and a copy of tomorrow’s times on the mantelpiece of what resembled an Edwardian bedroom.
The Doctor held up an umbrella that looked like it’d been punctured.
“Untold number of incarnations, you would think one of me would have mended the hole in this by now. Good thing it’s not the one with the question mark handle, been preserving that since fall ’89. Start of my quiet phase. How are you keeping?”
Dan didn’t quite know what to make of that question, or this world.
“I’m fine” he said, lying, and The Doctor knew it. She crossed her arms and tapped the marble floor with her right foot
“Go on, say it” she insisted.
“You’re looking for a word?” Dan asked.
“Your face is a whole set of pictures right now, and even that can tell a thousand and one words”
“So it’s a…reaction? You want me to react? To all this?”
“Gets a buzz every time”
“I can’t give you one” he said.
The Doctor frowned.
“And why ever not?” she asked, pouting.
“…Just, well, it’s all new is all”
“Nah, this thing’s as old as they come, but it can always teach you new tricks” The Doctor replied, snapping her fingers, which caused the doors, all on their own, to close
“You try” she said, clicking her fingers again, provoking the doors to once again fling themselves open.
Dan pointed to the doors, then back to himself, silently mouthing a faint ‘me?’
“Go on” she insisted.
“…That’s magic. I’m no good with magic”
“Just try it for me. I promise I’ll explain later”
“She always says that. To everyone” came a voice from behind them as Yasmin Khan walked past the pair.
“Is that true?” Dan asked.
“Where did you pick that bit up?” The Doctor asked, a little perturbed by Yaz’s comments.
“I’ve been reading your diary”
“Hey, there’s a thing called boundaries, try to respect them detective Khan”
“You left it open”
“I was writing an entry”
“You didn’t mention me once in it, I was part of our last adventure too you know, you couldn’t stop squealing about your new friend”
“Ladies, it’s been a long night, could you just…” Dan began, but the almost quasi-volcanic tempers flaring between the Doctor and Yaz was already beginning to rise.
“Dan got us through some pretty big scrapes back there; I don’t forget favours like that in a hurry”
“So you forget me?”
“Ladies…” Dan continued.
“How can I forget? You’re always here”
“So that means you never miss me? Would you like too?”
“You think I want to be left all alone again? You’re all I’ve got left of the fam”
“Girls” Dan said, snapping his fingers. The chamber doors snapped shut, emitting a thunderous burst of sound that shook and unnerved both of the argumentative pair.
“Sorry, sorry, not the kind of magic you wanted me to make” Dan said.
“In our line of work Dan, the only constant is chaos”
“I think you’d best call it a night Ms. Khan” The Doctor suggested.
Yaz took her leave, The Doctor glanced back at Dan.
“…She’ll be fine; we just had a rough day is all, well, ’till you popped up. Thanks, thanks for being there, for helping us.”
The Doctor opened a small drawer seated to the right of the bed, taking out a long ball of yarn and a pair of sewing needles.
“How were your days anyway? Before all this, before me?”
“What are you doing?” Dan asked.
“I’ll knit, you speak, and I’ll listen”
“So are you a Doctor of psychiatry?”
“I could be many things, but if I were, I wouldn’t be a Doctor. That’s my name, that’s why I chose it. It’s a duty of care, and she’s wrong, you know, Yaz, I don’t really blame her for the way she is, she’s had…issues, issues you’re going to have to find a way of dealing with if you’re to continue adventuring with us, but she’s still wrong, the only constant in the world isn’t chaos”
Dan wondered if lightning could strike twice, he raised his right hand high and snapped fingertips just once more. The lights dimmed, the colours glowed a bright hue of gold and blue, the room was then flooded by a powerful orchestral chorus, a cosmic form of whale song,
“You going to tell me how the trick works?”
“The TARDIS has telepathic circuitry; it’s also empathic, and alive. It knows me, and I know it”
“So it’s singing to you? At my command?”
“It sensed I was upset over the spoiled spat I had with Yaz, you thought of something that could cheer us up in that moment, something traditional for you types back on Earth, something emotionally satisfactory”
“It wanted to know what was in my head?”
“It wanted you to know what was in mine. So I’m not some mountain you happen to just glimpse in the distance”
Dan leaned over to her, delicately placing a hand over her tense, cold wet shoulders. He massaged her back gently.
“This constant Yasmin was so unsure about…what’s the alternative?”
“I figured out far too long ago, and always act on it far too late…for Sarah, for Rose, for Donna, for Jack, for River, for Graham…if I’m not careful, even Yaz”
She leaned over to Dan and gently stroked his face, his own fingers coursing through her golden locks of hair.
“Love Dan, the only constant is love”
They leaned in, their lips nearly connecting, before Dan pulled back.
“No, no I can’t, it’s early” Dan acknowledged.
“Too early” The Doctor responded in agreement.
“I mean, I’d love to, but…you know, it’s new. All of it, it’s so new”
“It’s OK, new can be scary, always is with me”
“You seemed into it though, didn’t even hesitate” Dan said, complimenting her on her readiness.
The Doctor beamed.
“What can I say? I’m a romantic”
The cloister bell would then shatter this most tranquil of tension and the ship was rocked from side to side by a tumultuous force.
“This here a constant in the universe Doctor?” asked Dan.
“Normally we don’t plan on it if we can help it” The Doctor responded, clambering on to the bed as it titled to one side, underpinning her. With some of that Liverpool resilience, Dan cracked his knuckles, flexed his branches and gently hoisted the huge piece of furniture off of The Doctor.
The Doctor dusted herself off and led Dan out of the room and towards the console room, where Yaz was already waiting on them, ever attentive and awaiting instruction.
“Alright, my man Dan, let’s see how you cope with the constant of pressure”
“I thought you said the only constant was love”
“It is, everything needs to be handled with love, a little to a lot, you love your garden, you love your house, Now I love my mates me, but you know what else? I love my motor, so I’m counting on you to take care of it. Good lad”
The Doctor pinched Dan’s nose and led him to the console.
“So, what do I do? Clean out the exhaust?”
“I might have to jettison a load of exhaust, you just make sure nothing from them comes pouring out into this room, otherwise we’ll all enjoy a nap on our way to oblivion”
Another hit rocked the room, everyone clutched on to the console as quickly as they could.
“Right, Yaz, keep a look on the radiophonic frequencies; try to cut through the noise they’re jamming us with”
“What noise? I don’t hear anything” Yaz noted.
“Still noise, it’s not detectable to humans…”
“But it is to you?”
“Time sensitive, the noise can be channelled only through the vortex, it can disrupt the equilibrium of the TARDIS. Nasty stuff. High Council’s done it before…”
“You have the council on your tail? I can just imagine how late you are for meetings…” Dan remarked.
“High council of time lords” The Doctor replied, the correction unsettling Yaz who had all too recent memories of dealing with the shadows of her best friend’s past.
“Your own people? But I thought Gallifrey was destroyed…”
“The still noise they’re jamming us with is of a far cruder capacity, this is early in their history, I’ve got my suspicions but we’ve got no time to spare, we’ve got to course correct and try to shake off the pursuing craft…”
“Pursued? You mean the council’s trying to catch and nick us?” Dan needled, beginning to irritate The Doctor with continuous comparisons to his more local life.
Yaz, however, always knew when to be blunt enough to sharpen her tounge and assert herself, they needed answers to what The Doctor was concealing from them.
“You’re not being fair to Dan, he’s only just joined us. If your only constant is love, then that means duty of care, so care enough to tell us what’s going on”
“We’re being pursued by another TARDIS.” The Doctor revealed.
“Prisoner 11231963 ‘s craft is in view, net is tightening” exclaimed one of the Judoon platoon to their superior.
“Prepare for transmat interception” the superior ordered.
Flaking her to the left and right were members of the elite Time Lord guard of the outpost planet of Jewel, conversing among one another on the situation at hand.
Overhearing them was their Governess, a most uncustomary character, she wore a feathered peacock headdress, a seies of tiny infra red circles dotted her eyes, the remainder of her body draped in a stygian robe. She kept her hands bound in a clenched bind, occasionally fidgeting with them the more the appetite of apprehension seeped in.
Apprehension that would cause her to break her silence.
“She cannot elude us for long, be patient” she said, picking up on the mutterings of those she was charged with commanding. They did not believe someone of The Doctor’s calibre could easily fall into their lap.
“Patience was never a virtue one could attach to a description of the Fugitive’s character Governess”
“You forget your place General”
“My apologies, it’s just…you know what happened to Gante”
The Governess permitted herself a smug smile.
“The protocols will be made public one day, when they are, only then shall she be welcomed back among us”
“Until then, the Fugitive must answer for Grat’s loss” The General insisted.
“What The Fugitive said…about Gallifrey, can it be substantiated?” The Governess asked.
“It has been, it will not be disclosed, you know how this all works”
“We are to confine knowledge of our very end only amongst those at Division?”
“We are best keeping unruly panic amongst the public at bay, correct”
“But you have no way of knowing if our assured destruction is fixed or not, the Fugitive has been known to say, in times old and new, that any linear line can be rewritten”
“They have also been known to say the exact opposite, especially when the history of recorded Earth is at stake. The Fugitive is a sensation amongst our people, some are drawn to their sense of wonder and are pulled into their appetite for adventure, they will say anything to weave together a command for respect from those who follow them”
“So they lie?”
“Sometimes necessity compels them to alter their views to fit the facts, least they turn to fiction at the most inopportune time”
“It sounds like they have gotten away with all this for far too long”
“For many years I wondered why we weren’t allowed a prize catch, but the fixed nature of our present history makes the reasons all too clear. They needed to be free to tell us all about what fate will befall Gallifrey, now that they have, their place will be amongst the dead”
“Renegade capsule entering time zone designation 202108” alerted one of The Judoon.
“That’s two million down from the last zone” The General observed, “They’re falling backwards through time, but where are they leading us?”
The answer to The General’s question was exclusive solely to the travellers aboard Division’s quarry, as the TARDIS touched down inside a tidy cavern.
“According to the readings we’re knee deep in the Mesolithic Period” Yaz confirmed.
“Queens of the Stone age, that’s us” The Doctor remarked in a jovial mood.
“No sign of that other TARDIS, you reckon we threw them off course?” Yaz asked.
“If they’ve landed somewhere near us, they must be a long way’s off, there’s no reading of them over long distance” The Doctor verified.
“Good, gives me a chance to take down some notes on stone age Britain for the guided tours” Dan replied.
All three disembarked from the TARDIS and headed off to explore. The Doctor decided to pick out a familiar heirloom, her old recorder.
“Fancy a tune? I hope I remembered to stay in practice in my last few lives” she replied.
A little later, while merrily playing a tune on her recorder, The Doctor’s hearing picked up a noise.
“That’s deafening” she said, “Almost like thunder”
It wasn’t long before the source of the thunder made a move as swift as any lightning strike, their long shadows looming large over the travellers as it came into view.
“Move, they’re Mammoths, they’ll grind us under foot”
But to their surprise, the Mammoths were instead quite docile.
“I think your music soothed their savagery Doctor” Dan observed.
The Doctor elected to test Dan’s theory, and put together a small melody. Sure enough the Mammoths reacted pleasantly to it, and began to even lower themselves, as if to offer the travellers willing transportation.
“I think we’ve earned ourselves some very useful pets” The Doctor noted.
After a while or so travelling across the terrain on the backs of the Mammoths, The Doctor instructed Yaz and Dan to wait by a clearing for a while, as The Doctor set out to make doubly sure that their pursuers weren’t anywhere around them.
After what appeared to be initially a fruitless hour, The Doctor’s worst fears were confirmed as she stumbled upon a valley containing the enemy TARDIS.
She disembarked from her mammoth companion to take a closer look from atop a nearby clifface.
The enemy TARDIS stood out, it’s chameleon circuit wasn’t even turned on to help it blend into surroundings, perhaps they weren’t too overly concerned with that, they were here on a quick and final mission.
It was shaped darkly shaded monolith, the kind you would expect out of a Kubrick picture, and from it emerged a platoon of Judoon.
The Doctor tuned back towards her Mammoth, intending to turn back and head north towards her friends and the TARDIS, but the Judoon were quick to spot her, and downed the cliffs where she stood with blasts from their disintegrator weapons, the resulting shots picking it apart piece by piece, The Doctor fell from a swift height and struck her head hard against the dry and rock hard ground, rendering her temporarily unconscious.
“Prisoner 11231963 will be catalogued and confined to place of termination” the Judoon Captain instructed.
When The Doctor awoke, she found herself strapped to a conveyer belt, she was inside a section of the enemy TARDIS, a chamber of execution, the belt was active and she was headed for a rendezvous with what appeared to be an atomiser just up ahead.
Observing the unfolding predicament behind a glass box overlooking the installation was the Governess, flanked by her young General.
“See? It all works out, we cannot touch the Fugitive down their path, but we can keep her from spilling all our secrets by following our own. We can avenge Gallifrey, just not necessarily in the right order”
The Doctor’s mind raced through all possibility of escape, but all she could muster up was an earworm that she had conjured up playing her recorder.
And then it struck her, she knew just what to do.
She was able to move her arms deep into her pockets and pull out the recorder, dialled its long-range frequencies up a notch, put it to her lips, and proceeded to play it.
“What sort of ritual is this? Why wasn’t that thing confiscated?” The Governess asked demandingly.
The Doctor’s gamble proved fruitful, as her loyal mammoth picked up on the sounds, only rather than sooth it, recognising its friend was in danger drove it into a sudden and harmful fury. It tore through the exterior shell of the rogue TARDIS, pulling it apart and tipping The Doctor over the conveyer belt.
“Use our secondary TARDIS escape craft, we must return to Outpost Jewel immediately” The Governess ordered, only for her box to break apart and crash to the floor, where her stricken body was crushed underfoot by the rampaging Mammoth.
To The Doctor’s relief, she found Yaz, Dan, and their own respective mammoths had arrived also, and they joined in, stamping and crushing the Judoon platoon.
The General reached the emergency TARDIS just in time and set the co-ordinates for Planet Jewel. It swiftly dematerialized as the carnage overtook the stricken craft.
The mammoths and the travellers, combined as a force of one, were enough to overcome the many, but that was not to say they weren’t casualties on their side, some of the Mammoths had fell victim to the Judoon’s disintegrator, any sort of war, even one waged on a minimalist scale, always comes with cost.
Yaz approached The Doctor, she placed a hand delicately on her shoulder, wondering if anything could heal her hearts, as she always took on the burdens of the battle.
“Tea at my place?” she asked.
The Doctor patted the back of Yaz’s hand with her own.
“I’m good, real good. You are too, and you Dan, you’re all such brilliant mates”
“Maybe more than that” Yaz said.
“Yeah, someday” Dan added.
“Get n line” Yaz said rather cagily.
The Doctor laughed, and mounted her own loyal mammoth once again.
“Before we head off to the TARDIS, fancy seeing all nine wonders of the world at once Dan?” asked The Doctor.
“So long as I get to see Chyna” Dan replied, meaning the sport entertainer, not the country.
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