As I am a professional writer and have work to do to get paid, I have decided to deal with these thudding plot bunnies in the traditional manner - I will inflict them on others. Please see my Profile for the Challenges of the Month. July Challenges are now available, and what a twist for one of them. If you'd rather do June's, instead, I'd love to hear from you. Thanks to all those who have participated thus far - we had an exceptional turn out for June II for example. The new challenges will run through the end of July. Please let me know when you respond to a Challenge so I can read and review.
This is a response to Kathryn Shadow's request for July Challenge II. She didn't want much, just all this...:
-The Doctor (preferably Four, but I don't really care) must meet and get captured with Arthur Dent.
-The phrase "This is it, we're going to die" must be used at least once.
-Really, really bad poetry must be used as a weapon. By the Daleks.
... and a bag of jelly babies. All I could think as I started writing this was the Youtube Dalek song... "Here's a Dalek, there's a Dalek, and a bloody lot of Daleks..."
There are no spoilers, as this is definitely a crossover, and definitely Four.
"This is it," said the man in the bathrobe, "we're going to die."
"This is NOT it," countered the tall man with the enormous scarf, "and we are NOT going to die." He crammed his battered hat back over his mop of dark curls and, with a stare, dared the bloke in the bathrobe to argue with him. "I had a very good plan for the day," he continued. "Dying was not on it."
"I bet getting captured wasn't on it, either," insisted the man in the bathrobe.
"No, but it's become a bit of a hobby of mine, so I always like to leave space where I can pencil it in. Who are you, by the way?"
"Dent," he said. "Arthur Dent. And you?"
"The Doctor," said the apparently very insane man who was now digging through his pockets, looking for god alone knows what.
Arthur had once doubted there could be actual degrees of insanity, but that was before he met Zaphod Beeblebrox, who was crazier than all of the other crazy people Arthur had ever heard of, put together. And now, there was this chap, who looked to be horning in on Zaphod's territory. "Doctor who? Doctor of what, precisely? Just any sort of doctor, or a specific doctor in particular?"
"Yes," said the Doctor, giving Arthur a quick, sparkling, blue eyed grin. Then, he went back to his rummaging.
"I don't suppose you've got a cup of tea in there?" Arthur asked, after watching the man produce and replace an alarming array of truly impossible things, including some rather dazed looking white mice. Arthur had rather gone off mice, since Magrathea, not that he'd been particularly fond of the rodents in the first place. Arthur had also long since stopped asking existential questions, such as "How can you possibly fit a three legged stool into your coat pocket?" or even sensible questions, such as "Is that at all comfortable to have in there?" He always opted, instead, for the only question he really wanted answered, anyway.
The Doctor reached into another pocket and produced a miracle. Arthur stared at it in undisguised covetousness, instantly desiring that one small item more than he could remember having wanted anything in his life, even the girl in the middle of his cousin's dirty magazines when he was thirteen.
Arthur shook his head to keep those two thoughts from colliding. It was no good if he gave himself any more psychological problems than he already had. He reached with trembling hands for the small, white, bone china cup and saucer. He could see it clearly, a rich, milky brown liquid, looking like a gift from gods who loved him. It was steaming gently, soft swirling curlicues of translucent white lovingly decorating the air above it. The cup practically glowed. Arthur snatched it before it could disappear and held onto it like a harpy holds treasure. He smelled it and another small miracle occurred, in that it smelled exactly like tea. He swallowed hard and then lifted the cup to his lips, tipping it back, an agony of anticipation tingling in his mouth.
"Exterminate," said a voice from a newly opened doorway, and a bright blue beam shot forth and hit the cup, shattering it into a million fragile, delicate pieces.
"My tea!!" Arthur shrieked, and threw himself onto the decking to weep over this devastating loss.
"No time for that now," snapped the Doctor, snatching at the back of Arthur's dressing gown, "run!"
The two fled along the winding, twisting corridors of the ship where they were being held, the Doctor occasionally flicking a small, wand-like device at the doors which, mercifully, never said a word. Arthur would like this ship if it weren't infested with tea-destroying barbarian pepper-pots.
"I thought you said this was a Vogon spacecraft," the Doctor shouted as they ducked into what looked like an engine room to hide.
"I thought you said it was a Vogon ship. I wouldn't know a Vogon ship from a... blue box in the corner."
"Yes, that's my ship, the TARDIS," said the Doctor. "Leave it. This ship is on a direct collision course with the most populous starbase in nine galaxies. And it's full of Daleks!"
"What are Daleks?" asked Arthur, not because he wanted to know but because he thought someone ought to ask and there was no one else around to handle it.
"The single most evil race in the entire history of time."
"That's Vogons," argued Arthur.
"Vogons aren't evil," the Doctor corrected, rapidly flipping a series of switches that looked like they probably weren't meant to be flipped. "They're indifferent. That's not the same as evil. Evil kills everyone. Indifferent destroys the souls of anyone." Then, he pressed a button marked "Do not press."
Arthur didn't let it worry him. The Doctor looked like exactly the sort of person who would immediately press a big red threatening button that must never, ever be pressed. The ship rocked spasmodically. "What did you do?" Arthur demanded.
"Big red threatening button, labelled 'Do not press'," observed the Doctor. "I pressed it. It's very important to make sure buttons like that work."
"Total annihilation of Vogon Spacecruiser Red Tape Dictatorship in fourteen minutes, 56 point 241 seconds," announced the computer calmly. "Please exit immediately using only the approved escape methods."
"Well, yes, that's definitely Vogons," the Doctor said flippantly, and tossed a length of scarf over his shoulder. "Calculate to the last nanosecond how much time you've got, whether it's filling out a form or being blown to atoms."
"This is it, we're going to die," Arthur replied, since it was obviously true.
"This is not it," the Doctor insisted, and pressed the red button again, this time with the little wand he carried pouring blue light over it at the same time. "I do not have time to die right now, I've got entirely too much work to do."
"Total annihilation of Vogon Spacecruiser Red Tape Dictatorship in 9 minutes, 38 point 352 seconds."
"You made it worse!" Arthur screamed.
"Abandon ship," the Doctor agreed, and ran toward the blue box in the corner. Just as they reached to touch the doors, something sizzled and fizzed, and the Doctor jumped back, making a loud chuffing noise of obvious disgust.
A view screen came on on the opposite wall. "You are a prisoner of the Daleks," the mechanoid on the screen announced.
"Yes, yes, I can see that," said the Doctor. "Only, I think I'd rather leave. So, if you'll kindly deactivate the forcefield..."
"You are the Doctor," the Dalek observed accurately.
"Clever little Dalek," said the Doctor. "What gave me away?"
"You are the enemy of the Daleks," it continued, it's mechanical voice going higher and sounding angry now.
"Yes, but I'm the enemy of most evil little creeping horrors like you," agreed the Doctor. "It's nothing personal, you understand...'
"You must be exterminated. Exterminate! EX-TERM-IN-ATE!"
"... it's just that you like to kill everyone and I'd rather prefer everyone alive. They're much more interesting that way."
"It said it's going to kill you," Arthur reminded the Doctor.
The Doctor shot him an agitated look. "Yes, I know, thank you, Mr. Obvious in the Bathrobe. That's what they always say!"
"We have discovered a new method of extermination," the Dalek told them.
"No doubt," the Doctor agreed, running back to the control console and rapidly toggling buttons and switches. "How do I shut this off?" he demanded.
"Count down may be halted," the computer announced, "by filling out and presenting forms XRP-zed-9-alpha through ZYC-zed-11-Q to the commander of this vessel on the fourth Tuesday of every month beginning with the letter 'L'."
"That's no good," snapped the Doctor. "Any other suggestions?!"
"Please stand clear of the explosion. Estimated blast zone 437.86135 miles."
"The Doctor is our greatest nemesis," said several Daleks. "We've asked him to desist in this..."
The Doctor rounded on the view screen, gaping in horror. "No!" he yelled.
Arthur screamed. "It's Vogon poetry!!"
"I know," shouted the Doctor, slapping his hands up over his ears. "They've assimilated the Vogon fleet. Why?"
"He chases us through time and space. We cannot put him in his place."
"Argh!" Arthur fought back the urge to vomit.
"Just exterminate me," the Doctor demanded.
"Why can't we all just get along? He does not like our Dalek song."
The Doctor rewrapped his scarf around his head and fired blue light from his wand back at the console. It erupted in a shower of sparks.
"The Daleks want to reign supreme. The Doctor wants to thwart our dream."
"Computer, deactivate the forcefield!" the Doctor shouted.
"There is no forcefield," the computer replied.
"There is a forcefield!!" the Doctor yelled frantically.
"Forcefields are regulated by the forcefield control board. No forcefield has been authorized. There is no forcefield."
"The Daleks are the superior lifeform. The Doctor is a creeping time worm."
Arthur fell to the ground and began to twitch. The Doctor raced around the room, thudded into the side of the TARDIS, and bounced back toward the view screen. "Stop!" he insisted. "I demand that you stop at once."
"The Daleks never will obey your clever tricks to save the day."
The Doctor looked back at the TARDIS. The TARDIS glowed bluely at him behind the forcefield.
"Total annihilation of Vogon Spacecruiser Red Tape Dictatorship in five minutes, 38 point 116 seconds," the computer announced brightly.
"The Daleks will soon rule you all and then we'll have a Dalek ball."
"This is it," the Doctor admitted grimly. "We're going to die."
"I can't die today!" Arthur wailed. "I haven't had any tea!"
The TARDIS made a strange, wheezing, chirping sound.
"That's the spirit!" shouted the Doctor, dragging Arthur to his feet. "Computer, deactivate the unauthorized forcefield!"
"There is no forcefield," the computer replied.
The Doctor cursed vehemently. It wasn't translated, whatever it was, and Arthur scratched at his ear in surprise. The babel fish had never failed him before.
"There's a forcefield," the Doctor shouted. "See, look, I touch this, I get a..."
There was, apparently, no longer a forcefield.
The Doctor stuffed a key into the door of his ship and, dragging Arthur behind him, closed the doors. He raced to the console, his ship made an incredible amount of loud, strange noise and listed slightly to one side. Then, it righted itself and there was silence.
The Doctor flipped a switch and a view screen opened, showing the outside of the Vogon cruiser as it casually shrugged and then blew itself to hell.
"How did you do that?" Arthur demanded. "Why are we here?"
"I've often debated that question myself," said the Doctor. "I usually decide that it's something unbelievably simple, so I miss it. Like a simple number, I suppose, the answer to everything."
"It is," said Arthur. "It's 42."
The Doctor stared at him. "What?"
"The answer. It's 42. I don't suppose you know the question?"
The Doctor blinked, flipped the switch to close the viewer, and turned toward a corridor. "K-9," he shouted.
A small robot appeared. It didn't seem to be in a bad mood, nor did it seem overly cheerful, nor particularly vindictive, nor did it look like it was likely to say "whop" or "exterminate" and start killing things. Arthur was rather relieved, as it was obviously a vast improvement on any robot he had met since he left the earth behind all those months or years or whatever ago. "Master?" said the robot.
"The answer is 42," the Doctor said. "What's the question?"
"For precise calculation, a computer the size of a planet would be required. The TARDIS suggests implementation of a living interface."
"Well, she would," the Doctor said. "And the panatropic net's not good enough for you, either, I suppose?"
"It would take time," said K-9.
"How long?" asked the Doctor.
"Nine hundred years," the robot dog answered. "And the acquisition of both would immediately replace the Universe with something even more bizarre and inexplicable."
"Really?" said the Doctor, eyes wide and incredulous. "Is that even possible?"
"I am unable to calculate that."
"Yes, well you would be," the Doctor answered grumpily. "Well, think about it and get back to me. Arthur!"
Arthur, surprised to have been remembered, turned toward the Doctor and his console. "Hello? Yes?"
"Somewhere we can drop you?" the Doctor asked.
"Anywhere with tea," Arthur decided.
"Done," said the Doctor.
There was a sudden, huge shift and the ship rolled and bucked and spun.
"What just happened?" Arthur asked when up and down sorted themselves out again.
"I've no idea," said the Doctor. "But I can tell you this. Some force is at work in the Universe, a powerful force whose sole purpose appears to be to prevent you from acquiring tea." The Doctor grinned. "Let's find out what's this is about then, why don't we?"
Arthur groaned. "No, thanks."
"It isn't any trouble," said the Doctor, invitingly.
"Oh, come on Arthur Dent, where's your sense of adventure?"
Arthur thought about it and came to a rather startling conclusion. "I left it in my other robe," he said.
The Doctor grinned. "Well, let's go fetch it then and we can get started."
Arthur pinched his nose and sighed. He was never going to have any peace, was he? "Fine, Doctor, whatever you say."
The Doctor's grin widened. Arthur rolled his eyes and felt around for his towel. It looked like he might need it.