WHOM THE GODS DESTROY © 1992 Margaret Price
Author's Note:This is a 4th Doctor story, the second story in an arc with companion Jason Krystovan, who was introduced in the story "The Alliance of Death." Companions: Leela & K-9
IN NEED OF REPAIRS
The incongruous shape of a Metropolitan London Police Telephone Box sat amid the lush foliage on an unnamed planet. It was, in reality, a space/time vehicle known as a TARDIS. The interior was even more incongruous than its exterior owing to the fact that it was dimensionally transcendental; meaning simply that it was bigger on the inside than on the outside. It had only been in its present location for a short time yet the surrounding vegetation had already started to overtake it, creeping up the sides and across the top.
Inside the TARDIS's impossibly large control room was the Doctor, who preferred to think of himself as the ship's custodian rather than its owner, since his means of gaining possession were, to say the least, questionable. He was a tall man with large staring eyes and a seemingly perpetual smile on his face. His clothing had a slightly Bohemian air, which was evident by the fact that he customarily wore a long, frock coat and even longer scarf.
The Doctor was currently peering into the open side panel of his robot dog, K-9. What had begun as a minor adjustment had turned into a major repair. He had pulled several wires out of the little automation, each seeming to go in a completely different direction. He had also removed several circuit boards and other miscellaneous electronic objects, all of which were strewn on the table beside him.
The sound of thunder came through the open exterior doors to be followed several minutes later by the sound of a torrential downpour. The Doctor watched the rain in detached interest a moment before returning his full attention to his work. He had only just finished wiring K-9 into some testing equipment when his companions came dashing through the double doors. They had been exploring the forest outside and were too far away to return before the rain started. So, quite naturally, were now very wet.
The first through the door was Leela; a dark-haired warrior clad in a brief costume of animal skins. She was tanned and lithe, her movements almost catlike and her hand never far from the knife at her belt. She was flushed and out of breath from running and leaned against the control console to catch her breath. She then laughed as her fellow explorer fell through the doors a few seconds behind her.
Jason was also laughing and out of breath, but unlike Leela, he was completely drenched to the skin. He stretched out on the floor where he tried to catch his breath.
At first glance the two were completely opposite. Jason was slight in build, very young in appearance, and dressed in a more conventional style than did Leela. On closer scrutiny their differences became even more pronounced. Unlike Leela, who was human, Jason was Alterran; a non-humanoid, silicon-based lifeform possessing the ability to change form at will, which was why he currently appeared human. He was also of Royal Blood, a physician by trade, and happened to be one hundred and two years old; and if all that weren't enough, he also had the unique ability to scan anything he touched much in the same manner as electronic sensing equipment.
"Well, I'm glad to see you two finally had the sense to come in out of the rain," the Doctor remarked aridly without looking up from his work.
"We were…down by…the river," Jason gasped out between breaths. "And then this…crazy savage…pushed me in…and had the audacity…to challenge me…to a race."
"What does audacity mean?" Leela wanted to know.
The Doctor shot the young man on the floor a devilish grin before replying, "It means you were very clever to get Jason off his guard before he had the chance to transmute."
Leela was aglow with pride and smiled down at her companion in amusement. Jason, in turn, stuck his tongue out at her.
"Why do you stay inside so much, Doctor?" Leela asked innocently. "It's so beautiful here." She moved to stand at the open doorway and looked out at the rain, feeling the cool breeze on her face.
The Doctor was peering into K-9 again. "In case you hadn't noticed, I'm rather busy repairing K-9. Once he's put right, then I'll go out."
So there, Jason thought as he picked himself up off of the floor. He stood dripping for a moment and then his body shimmered a few seconds as he transmuted. Suddenly he was completely dry, a fact that seemed to surprise even him. "I did it!" he cried delightedly, receiving a sour look from the still wet Leela. Ignoring her, he went over to the Doctor, glancing casually at the tangled mass of wires on the table.
"You seem to be dismantling rather than repairing, Doctor," he observed mildly.
The Time Lord grunted his reply as he took a small spray can and aimed it in to the open panel. The cloud of mist hit the unsuspecting Jason in the face and he reeled back, coughing and choking from the fumes.
"Are you trying to kill me?" the youth asked indignantly once he was finally able to talk.
"A little more silicon won't kill you, will it?" the Doctor chirped brightly as he quickly returned the offending spray can to the workbench.
His companion gave him a savage scowl. "Very funny."
The Doctor cleared his throat and turned away, reaching for the button that would switch on the equipment wired into K-9. "Well, here goes," he announced, adding loftily. "Audentes fortuna juvat."
Leela was baffled. "Audentes what?"
"It's Latin," Jason explained. "It means, fortune favors—" There was a loud pop followed by an impressive shower of sparks. "—the bold." Trying not to laugh, he exchanged an amused look with Leela. "Not very favorable, was it?" he remarked.
The Doctor ignored them both, attacking the circuitry once again.
The Doctor was not the only one determined to complete the task at hand. On a planet light-years from where the TARDIS stood a solitary figure worked with steadfast determination. It was al ready well past midnight, yet the lone scientist was still making notations in his journal, double checking each reading as he recorded it.
One's first impression of the room might be that it looked like a mad scientist's laboratory out of an old horror film. Only one of the lights above the workbench was on, which scarcely illuminated the room. There were beakers bubbling into tubes that dripped into other beakers until they finally ended by dripping into a drinking glass.
With a satisfied grunt, the man at the bench put down his pencil and picked up the glass at the end of the long line of tubes. He studied its contents carefully, swirling the dark liquid and holding it up to the light. Stimulated by the movement the strange fluid changed color several times before returning to its original dark color.
"Perfection," he whispered triumphantly. "Perfection at last." So saying he promptly drank the contents of the glass.
Then, just as true to the old films from which his lab seemed to have come, the scientist started to choke. Violent spasms shook his body and he fell to the floor, unconscious.