The sparkling white walls of Hippocratus 4 were a blur for Andrew Finnegan. He was moving as fast as he could, battering his way through a pair of official looking double doors, stumbling from the sudden change of momentum but never allowing it to stop him from moving onwards. Ever since the new employees had come in he'd sensed trouble brewing, a milling about in the Rank and Vile, but everyone he'd talked to had told him to get his head checked. Maybe that was why he had been the only one ready for the inevitable. The others didn't see, they didn't want to see, but he saw. And when the Rank and Vile came for them in their beds, only he was able to escape.
Medical rubber soles squeaked on freshly wet tiling, Andrew flapped his arms and let out his own personal squeak as he tried to keep himself upright and moving. A complicated dance of limbs and a severely battered "Danger: Wet Surface" sign later, Andrew pushed off the wall, running on, just constantly running. He'd hidden earlier, when they had come for the human workers, hidden in the mess of highly magnetised machines that the Rank and Vile couldn't approach. He'd hidden when the screams had started, and he'd kept hidden long after the pleading had stopped. Where he was running too, that was something he hadn't thought of yet, that would involve stopping and thinking and he just couldn't do that right now.
As he rounded a corner, wet soles skipping up every now and then as his legs defeated friction, Andrew caught sight of something that made his heart change gears from full throttle straight into reverse. Before him stood the thin, passive looking metal frame of a Vile, the black screen of blinking LCD lights where a face should be displaying a pair of blankly staring eyes. It didn't look like a monster, but it wasn't designed to. Entirely non-threatening, that was the theme behind the skinny droid with the ridiculous head, comically out-dated facial hardware and soft, amiable tones of a serial killer. Nevermind if they could lift a ton in each manacled hand and had a multitude of programs specifically detailing how to disable a human with minimal force. So long as they looked friendly.
Andrew's feet tried to join the direction the rest of him was trying to go, but the more body weight he tried to throw back the way he came the less his feet obeyed. It didn't take much to spell out his fate... a twist, a skid, a rattling thud as Andrew belly flopped onto the immaculate tiles of Hippocratus 4, and a cheery bing bong as the Vile finally noticed him.
"Escaped patient located." Said the silky voice, the sound of soft treading getting closer as the Vile approached "Identity: Andrew Finnegan. Suffering from: Delusional Tendencies, Paranoia, Hypochondria..."
The Vile continued to list disorders, most of which lost on the engineer as he spun around on the floor to throw a kick at the approaching bot. There was a snap, and his leg was caught in the Vile's claw. If the next claw hadn't closed around Andrew's throat he would have screamed. He would have screamed like all the rest, all the others as they were dragged off in the night to whatever hell these droids subjected them to.
"Suggested recovery sector: High Security Psychiatric Ward."
"How long have we got left?" River Song asked, bent over the TARDIS controls, hands moving with purpose. The TARDIS was always an unruly beast, although technically it was simply a "Time And Relative Dimension In Space", it behaved like a person in its own right. It had moods, and right now it was definitely in a bad one. It probably didn't help that the person at the helm wasn't technically the owner of the ship, and the TARDIS tended not to enjoy that. The TARDIS preferred the Doctor's touch.
"They've been gone for an hour now, I didn't think we'd get that." Amy Pond muttered, half amazed and half terrified what the Doctor and her husband could be getting up to right now. She cast her eyes over towards the curly-haired woman of action that was currently flicking at an oddly plunger shaped device sticking from a console. "This will work won't it? I mean, you're not going to drop us into the middle of a black hole or something."
"Relax," River Song replied with a warm, easy going smile towards Amy, "I've flown the TARDIS plenty of times before, and in worse situations. And after all..." She straightened up, rolling back her shoulder and flicking a curl of hair out of her face as if threatening it to defy her again "I was taught by the best." Amy still marvelled at how River managed to smile in a way that was full of both pride and innuendo at the same time.
"All I have to do," River continued, coming back from whatever memory that smile had been around "Is flip this toggle... and..." She yanked at a large switch, the TARDIS lighting up, main consoles flashing and undulating and doing all those strange motions the Doctor loved to see. And then the console shut itself off with a defiant KA-THUNK.
As if on cue a door at the back of the room slid open, letting the Doctor walk backwards through, talking excitedly to Amy's husband, Rory.
"-and you see," the Doctor was motion at the air between himself and Rory, as if trying to conjure up an image of whatever he was talking about out of thin air "It turned out to be complete and utter fact, just merely untested and so completely dangerous to undertake that I knew it must have come from experience! Well, you may ask, how did it happen from experience if I was the first person to ever actually attempt such a thing?" The Doctor seemed to have not noticed it was pitch black in the control room, in fact there seemed to be a lot of things he missed, apart from the stairs. He knew the inside of his own TARDIS back to front, it would take a lot more than the room being dark to make him miss a step.
There was a break in conversation, and for a moment both Amy and River were terrified that the Doctor had finally noticed that they had been attempting to fly the TARDIS. Finally the pregnant silence was broken with a tired sigh from Rory.
"Go on then," he said, in a voice heavy with regret that he was encouraging the Doctor "how did anyone know what to do if they'd never done it before?"
"It was me!" the Doctor couldn't be seen but his actions were clear, he'd probably just spun in a circle, flapped his large hands in Rory's direction and gone in every direction his gangly body would allow "I don't often like leaving little indicators for myself but I rather did it before I knew I did it, if you get what I mean? So, yes, I had to head back to the early twenty second century, stuff the manuscript under the right publisher's nose and- hang on." Oh. There it was.
"Does someone," the Doctor spoke aloud to the completely dark and silent room "want to tell me why the TARDIS is off?" He took a few steps forward, reached for the controls, and received a squeak from River Song in return. It didn't sound like a reluctant squeak, just one of surprise, and then a little chuckle from that direction.
"Uhhh... guys... still here..." Amy said from the darkness, trying to break the awkward moment she was having, mostly with herself.
"Right, yes." the Doctor hit something in the dark and the TARDIS lit up again, illuminating an uncomfortable looking Amy, an exhausted looking Rory and a rather rumpled and grinning River for the Doctor to gaze accusingly at "What were you all doing? You know you're not meant to touch the TARDIS without me being here. It's not nice to touch people's things while they aren't there. Especially when you're distracting them by asking them to tell you about their favourite books." Rory gave a smile that said that the experience had hurt him more than it had hurt the Doctor.
"Nothing suspicious happened sweetie. Amy... leant on a button." River said, making the Doctor whip around, point an accusatory finger at River, then turn to aim it at Amy instead.
"I did not-" Amy began to say before noticing River giving her a meaningful look behind the Doctor's back. She caught on in a split second and gave a firm nod to the Doctor, pursing her lips as her mind whirred to come up with words. "Yes!" she said, returning the finger pointing at the Doctor, refusing to back down from the new lie they'd made up "Yes, exactly. Leant on a button. Complete accident. You know, you should really label what some of these do so I know what not to accidentally lean on in the future."
She could see in the Doctor's eyes that he didn't believe her, but she stood her ground like only she could. She stared him out until he turned away, the Doctor twisting a few dials and generally twiddling with the controls. "Nonsense." he muttered as he basically began to show off at the controls. "It's all perfectly easy to understand. Just set the time with these, set the galactic co-ordinates with those," his motions could have encompassed either a set of carefully tuned instruments, or a plant pot half growing out of a teapot, "make sure the shields are up," the Doctor rotated something viciously for a half second, then clicked something that went clack, "do some maths..." Here he was really showing off, yanking out a screen of complex wavelengths, readings and dimensional stability reports, letting the others see, then yanking the screen away again "And press go."
Everyone held their breath, watching the Doctor, waiting for him. The pause went on however, becoming an awkward silence as the three companions anticipated a sudden lurch of the TARDIS springing into action. Nothing came however, the Doctor didn't move, Amy, Rory and River Song didn't move. Finally, with a headache already pounding along his brow, Rory got fed up. "Which button is go?" he asked, bold facedly asking the question the other two were two tense to ask.
"Oh, well, you do this." The Doctor said, flicking the exact same toggle as River had earlier, and making the TARDIS jerk and shudder towards River Song's input destination. You always did things the long way round with the Doctor, but you got there in the end.