TITLE: The Wreck of the Trimethian
SUMMARY: With new companion Jake Foley on board, the TARDIS responds to a centuries-old distress call. But how much of an advantage are nanites where alien technology is involved?
NOTES: Written for the Doctor Who Choose-Your-Own-Companion crossover ficathon - the 5th Doctor with Tegan, Nyssa & Adric, and Jake 2.0's Jake Foley.
WARNINGS: Crackfic. I make no promises to avoid the obvious in dialogue, plotting, fights, bad jokes, gratuitous mentions of Australian beer, and quite possibly teh sex. You have been warned.
DISCLAIMER: Not mine, no profit, yadda, yadda, yadda.
The Wreck of the Trimethian StarChapter 1
Tegan didn't know what to make of the new bloke, but then that was pretty par for the course when you were sharing living space with strangers picked up from 20 years in your own planet's future. Somehow that freaked her out more than sharing living space with aliens. Especially when this stranger could turn the lights on and off with his brain. That was a handy trick. Going into convulsions when the Doctor threw the take-off control on the TARDIS was less handy. And she really hoped he'd been joking when he made that crack about x-ray vision. She was fairly sure he'd been joking. But he had turned a funny shade of red, and still wasn't able to meet her eyes.
He was American, which Tegan thought probably explained a lot anyway. But apparently he had saved Nyssa's life from the alien cat-things that the Doctor had called a name like 'sminnigles' - unless it really had been 'smurfniggles', and who the hell came up with these names anyway?
She was reserving final judgement until he recovered the use of his larynx within her presence.
She wouldn't have pegged government agents as the type the Doctor would invite to hop on board for a ride, and even if this one was enough of a goof to counter the initial impression of suit-badge-gun and "come with us to answer a few questions", she strongly suspected an ongoing conspiracy against her, personally, because he liked maths and (obviously) computers, too - and if they didn't get someone normal around here soon she was going to go nuts.
Bad enough when Nyssa, Adric and the Doctor got together. She couldn't contend with four of them.
She stuck her toe into the swimming pool. The water was perfect. Her own running dive definitely wasn't, but what the hell. She wasn't sure how long she'd have to take advantage of the pool before the TARDIS managed to lose it again. It was big and circular and glitteringly pristine, and it had roundels on the sides (well, of course it did) and she'd found it off a corridor near her own room that definitely wasn't there last week.
Tegan hadn't been swimming about for very long when she almost jumped out of her skin as a familiar voice spoke up. "I wondered where you were hiding."
It wasn't really possible to cover up her reflexive jump, given the splash it made. She almost choked as she turned and saw the Doctor looking utterly ridiculous in some type of Victorian bathing costume. It had red stripes.
"You look like you should be carrying a big sack saying 'SWAG' on it," she told him. She hugged her arms over her chest and felt exposed.
Her comment didn't make a dint in him. She doubted he even noticed. "You are hiding from us, aren't you?" he asked, faintly perplexed, as he sat on the side of the pool and dangled his feet in the water. It didn't exactly give him any of his dignity back.
"I'm hiding from the science convention," Tegan clarified, "and I'll come out when you've all finished fixing robo-boy's nanobots so I can actually talk to someone without having the words 'artron energy' crop up in the conversation."
"Oh dear," the Doctor said. He frowned at his feet, wriggling his toes to make ripples in the water. Tegan gave up on modesty and pushed off from the side of the pool to swim another length - another diameter - perpendicular to him. "I suppose we have all been a little intense, haven't we?" She surfaced long enough to glimpse him flap his hands helplessly and sigh. "This isn't turning out to be much of a fun trip for anyone, is it?"
She halted where she was, treading water. "I don't begrudge you fixing the bloke. All I'm saying is that I'm not coming out until it's done."
"Of the pool?"
"Of exile." She rolled her eyes at him. "I'm not ready to turn myself into a prune just yet."
"Well, that's excellent." He beamed. "On both counts."
Tegan stopped moving and promptly sank. Emerged again spluttering water. "Robo-boy's fixed?"
"Indeed. Well, we've managed to block out the interference from the artron energy - sorry, Tegan - so as long as he keeps his brain away from the TARDIS's circuitry, he should be fine. As for the rest, I can't begin to catalogue the flaws in the technology the NSA filled that young man's body with." He tutted. "Call themselves scientists!"
She splashed water at him. "You couldn't have told me that first?"
"Oh." She heard disappointment in his voice as he watched her swim for the side and climb out of the water. "I thought we were having a swim." He half-heartedly flicked water back at her with his toes. He had better aim, but she was already soaked head to foot and didn't care. She stuck her tongue out at him.
"You swim," she said, averting her eyes again. "I think your swimsuit already did me enough permanent mental damage."
Aliens, Jake thought. Again.
His brain was having difficulty getting past the 'whoa' stage, even though a slightly irritated part of it that wanted to be much more aloof and professional was of the view that it should be getting old, not to mention boring, by now.
But Aliens. Real ones. He'd always kinda thought that if there was anything out there, it wouldn't look like the X-files' big-eyed Greys. And now he knew, since he was travelling with three of them (and an angry Australian woman from twenty years ago who had apparently been abducted and had already made three loud demands in his hearing to be returned to Heathrow), and they looked exactly like humans did.
Then there were the other things, the cat things, and the kid who'd said he came from the planet Alzarius in a whole other universe had crowed as he bragged about all the other shapes and sizes of beings that they'd met along the way. Most of them apparently unfriendly, although Nyssa, an alien from a planet called Traken that didn't exist any more, had spoken up in quiet defence of a handful of their encounters.
Terrorist plots, dirty bombs and electromagnetic pulses wouldn't get a bat of an eyelid out of these people, Jake figured.
He wondered, briefly, how Kyle had explained away the cat things to Lou - not to mention the loss of a half billion dollar agent full of nanites - when the team got back without him. But then, he reminded himself, and the thought sprung out onto his face as a grin big as a dinnerplate, the Doctor had promised to get him back to Washington DC yesterday once he'd seen enough of the universe. They'd never even know he'd been gone.
He should probably feel guilty for dropping his responsibilities so quickly, but when an alien offered you a ride in his time-machine-slash-spaceship, no self-respecting geek was ever going to pause to give thought to the day job, no matter what the day job was.
It was the ship that Jake couldn't get over. Well, the ship and the aliens. But on balance the ship likely had been on his mind a bit more, ever since they took off and the nanites seemed to explode inside his skull. The next twenty-four hours had seen their trip across time and space halted indefinitely for an emergency stop while the Doctor tried to figure out how to shield off the nanites from the energies that flowed through the TARDIS in 'flight'. That had been a bit embarrassing - on both their sides, Jake suspected, from the earnest fervour with which the Doctor had apologised.
But the ship itself, now that all of that was fixed... hopefully fixed... Whoa.
It was the first time he'd had chance to really look around, and 'bigger on the inside' was one thing, but this wasn't just a flight deck with a couple of corridors leading off it. This was a craft the size of a freakin' city, maybe a state, inside an eight-foot-tall box.
He followed his nose down another corridor, nervously taking the Doctor at his word and keeping faith that the TARDIS intercom would prevent him from getting himself too lost. His head ached dully, after-effect from the rampage of the artron energy through it, and he hadn't slept in two days, but there wasn't anything in the universe could make him relax and try to sleep right now. He was on a spaceship. And a time machine.
He had asked what the round things on the walls were for. Nyssa had opened her mouth, blinked a few times, and turned her own ponderous gaze onto the round panels in deep contemplation. He'd tried to ask the Doctor, too, but all he'd done was to airily say they provided good feng shui as he brushed off in search of the frighteningly loud Australian woman.
Jake paused where he stood as a door he'd been passing seemed to creep ajar of its own accord. It had to be a coincidence - the Doctor might talk about his vessel as though it were alive, but nobody else did. Still, now the open door was staring at him like a challenge, and he couldn't help but to investigate.
He couldn't have anticipated anything less than the sight that greeted him as the door pushed back.
The room was full to the brim with arcade games - Earth technology. Earth classics. They practically sang at him through the nanites' supposedly quiescent interface, after being surrounded by so much alien technology that either evaded contact or actively hurt to touch.
And despite being on an alien spaceship, despite his excitement at so much that was new, he spent the next two hours locked in joyful contest with the familiar, right up until Adric stuck his head around the door.
The boy chastised him in brusque teenage fashion for being late for dinner and thus causing he, Adric, to have to wait longer for food while he ran stupid errands to fetch silly humans - then guided him back to rejoin the rest of the irregulars on the TARDIS's crew.
The planet had only a number instead of a name in the TARDIS databanks, and it didn't seem that anything of interest had ever happened there, or ever would happen there either. But it did have nice grass, and trees heavy with fruit that tested as safe to eat, and the weather was sunny. All in all, it was a perfect place to sit outside the TARDIS and have a picnic. The Doctor all too evidently thought so, and set about organising them all enjoying themselves with his usual enthusiasm. But as it happened, Nyssa thought so too.
She could use some rest and peace. She frowned down at the bandage on her arm where the srinoglesh warrior had struck her, before a human government agent enhanced by primitive technology had saved her life. Yes, she could certainly use some peace.
She looked up from cutting sandwiches into neat triangles and stacking them onto plates when the TARDIS door opened again, and smiled at Jake Foley as he stepped out.
He paused as though struck. Stared around as if suddenly, inexplicably shocked by what he saw. Puzzled, Nyssa followed his gaze around the expansive grasslands to the distant red and purple trees.
"I'm on another planet," he said, and she understood. His face transformed from shock to absolute joy in a moment as he spoke. His sparkling eyes found hers, and she laughed, enjoying his enthusiasm, which was almost as enthusiastic and wide-eyed as the Doctor's. Like the Doctor, he could seem so innocent. But she'd seen him kill. Just as she knew that the Doctor was no real innocent. She did not allow her expression to change. He had saved her life.
Behind him, ungracefully sitting in the grass with her knees bent up and elbows rested upon them, Tegan rolled her eyes.
Adric emerged from the TARDIS behind Jake, completing their party. He ducked around the tall human and stole a sandwich almost from under Nyssa's fingers before she could stop him. "Adric," she began, with fond exasperation.
"Now, now, Adric. Manners," the Doctor said, disapprovingly yet without paying the events any great attention. He was just walking back, absently juggling the fruits he'd collected. He tossed the fruits one apiece to each of them without losing the rhythm of the spinning yellow spheres. When he was left with only one, that too continued to rise up and down in his hand as he sank back into the deckchair he'd earlier pulled from the TARDIS store.
"Food," Adric corrected indistinctly, smirking around the sandwich he'd stuffed whole into his mouth.
Jake, distracted, had fumbled his catch. While he gave chase down the gentle slope, Nyssa handed around the sandwiches to everyone else. When Jake came back, yellow fruit in hand and looking a bit flustered, and seated himself on the grass to join them, she handed him his sandwiches, too. The scratch marks that had been on his arm, she noted again as he took the plate, were long gone. So maybe 'primitive' technology had its uses after all. She should not scoff.
The meal was pleasant, and Nyssa delighted in the flashes of blue and yellow as bright and fast little native birds flitted about the trees, venturing out once the group had fallen silent to eat. That was why she was tempted into doing a very foolish thing. As she peeled the skin from the remaining piece of her fruit, she said to the Doctor, "We should stay here awhile. Can you think of any better place to recover?"
"It is idyllic," the Doctor agreed. "But you do realise there's nothing here more than what you see? Nothing but grass, and trees, and yellow birds and yellow fruit as far as the eye can see - or more pointedly, as far as the TARDIS can see, and she sees a lot further than you or I. There isn't much to explore."
"That," Tegan said a bit abrasively, "I think was her point, Doctor."
His face fell.
"I could use the time to collect some samples of the vegetation," Nyssa prompted. "The readings the TARDIS took suggested some interesting medicinal properties in the fruit. Perhaps that extends to other specimens here. It's clear no spacefaring race has found and utilized this planet. Perhaps we might discover something."
"Well," the Doctor said reluctantly, "If you're all keen to stay..."
Jake looked as though he'd be happy anywhere that wasn't Earth - she could practically see the thought 'Alien planet!', complete with exclamation mark, still written loud upon his face. Tegan's expression spoke about as plainly as it could do that she couldn't care less so long as they weren't being chased by anything nasty or, more relevantly to her friend's most recent experiences, being held and questioned by government troops. Adric was eying the fruit trees like they were dessert. Nyssa couldn't see any obvious objections, and nobody made any.
"I think it would be a good idea to take a few days to regroup," she started to say, firmly stating her decision.
And that, of course, was when they all heard the warning siren from inside the TARDIS.
More like a claxon, really, it blared out through the open door and made them all jump. In the Doctor's case, it made him jump up from his deckchair like he'd been offered a reprieve, and dash back into the TARDIS.
Nyssa sighed, and copied the others as they picked up themselves and their scattered things, and followed him inside.
"What's happening?" asked Jake, wincing. Tegan actually had her hands over her ears, and Nyssa didn't envy him his enhanced hearing.
"It's not the TARDIS!" the Doctor shouted back with too-cheerful brisk efficiency. "Or rather, she's receiving somebody else's distress signal!"
"A distress signal, out here?" Adric scoffed. "Nyssa said it - there's nothing out here. If there was, this planet would have been colonised long ago."
"It's distant," the Doctor said with a touch of short temper, "But it's most definitely there. Maybe you should consult your ears, Adric. I suspect it's been there all along, but it's so distant that even the TARDIS's sensors have taken this long to detect the signal amidst the background cosmic interference." He stabbed at the controls, and the noise faded to a memory. "Ah. That's better."
"Should we go to help?" Tegan's question held obvious trepidation but no real doubt as to their presumed course of action.
The Doctor hesitated, surprising Nyssa. "It's likely the signal's old," he said, "But there may still be someone in need of aid. We must try to provide it."
"A rescue mission?" Jake Foley asked, a keen spark igniting in him. Missions, Nyssa remembered, were his vocation. Not merely something that circumstance and a crotchety time/space machine kept throwing him into.
"Indeed!" exclaimed the Doctor, his face equally alight.
Two of them, thought Nyssa, with a contradictorily sinking feeling of wonder.
She also wondered, not for the first time, if the Doctor's asking him along had really been such a very good idea.