A/N: A bit of humorous AU for 'The Dominators' that grew out of my family's own repeated exclamations of how adorably cute the Quarks were and how they wished they could have one.
Just a Little One
"Shall we de-stroy?" asked the little robotic voice as it waddled after its master. "Shall we…?" It sounded so innocent and childlike. The tall, frowning man ahead of it disappeared over the ridge, apparently unmindful of the Quark's slower gait.
Zoe peeked out over the rocks. "Aww, Jamie," she said. "It's adorable."
"It's a beastly wee Dalek, that's what it is," glowered the Scot as he pulled her back down by the hem of her dress. She lightly smacked the back of his hand and peeped over the boulder again.
"No it isn't, it's just a robot. And it's so cute! Do you think the Doctor would let me keep one?"
Jamie stared at her. "Whatever would y' be wanting a robot for? Are you daft?"
She looked back down at him. "I like robots. They aren't all bad, you know."
"The last thing we need is a talkin' tea-kettle in the TARDIS, especially one like that."
"Why? The Doctor could probably fix it so it isn't dangerous for us."
"Oh, right," Jamie said, rolling his eyes. "An' the sky is made of little green apples. He'll probably get us all shot tryin' to take it apart."
"Oh, don't be silly. He's perfectly competent with robotics, you know that."
"I do, do I? It wasn't that long ago that…"
She shook a finger at his nose. "Jamie! Now you're just arguing for the sake of arguing. I think they're cute, I want one to come with us."
He considered her, honestly disbelieving. "You want it for a pet."
"Well, yes! Don't you think it would make a grand pet?"
"A robot pet!" Jamie shook his head. "If the Doctor wanted a wee robot pet, he would get one. He would've brought along a Yeti."
"You told me about those. They were big," she pointed out.
"All right, a small one then."
Zoe looked thoughtful as the Quark disappeared over the ridge after its master. "What if we were to catch one?"
"Oh come on, Jamie!" she said enthusiastically. "You could help me. It could be a surprise for the Doctor!"
"Oh, he'd be surprised all right."
"You are daft."
"We could rig up a trap."
"A trap? With what? We haven't so much as rope."
"No, not that kind of trap. It's a robot, not an animal. If we could get one to run itself down, we could just carry it."
"But they just come back up, we've seen it. They were a-wavin' their arms," Jamie imitated the strange flapping motion of the Quarks when they were recharging. "An' then they were shootin' again."
"So we need to keep it from moving its arms," she said brightly.
"Have I mentioned that you're daft?"
Zoe bopped him lightly on the head. "Are you going to help me?"
She shook his shoulder. "Oh, come on, Jamie! It'll be fun."
"Fun? You call riskin' our lives over a talkin' bucket fun? A talkin' bucket that could kill us, at that. Now look, the Doctor said for us to stay here….."
"And we will, we'll come right back as soon as we catch us a Quark. I have an idea."
"You run along that ridge, there. There's plenty of boulders, all you have to do it go from one to another. The Quark's master is out of sight now, but it'll still shoot at you."
"Aye, I know it!"
"So you just jump along. It'll wear itself out hitting rocks and once it runs down, we'll run down and get it, before it can recharge."
"I just jump along."
"Yes, I've seen you climb. You're very fast, and you're faster at running than I am."
He shook his head. "No."
"Yes you are."
"No, I mean no, I'm not doin' it."
Zoe's voice suddenly went up into an alarmed scream. "Jamie!" She pointed behind him.
He whirled around, reaching for his dirk before he registered that his dirk wouldn't help him this time.
"Shall we de-stroy?" asked the little voice. The points on the Quark's rounded head glistened in the sun as it shuffled closer.
"Run, Zoe!" Jamie said.
The two of them sprinted across the ridge as the deeper voice of the its mastering Dominator faintly came to them: "Yes."
Behind them the dirt and rocks exploded as the Quark obediently loosed its weapon after their fleeing forms. They ducked behind a rock, Zoe hiding her face in Jamie's shoulder as bits of gravel spattered them, another explosion hit the edge of the rock. Then they were off again, running hand-in-hand.
Another blast came, and another, and another. Panting, Jamie pulled Zoe up a steep edge, then pushed her ahead of him to protect her from flying debris. They reached a rocky ridge and hunkered down behind it.
Jamie ran a hand over his hair, brushing away bits of sand and rock and rubbed at a shallow cut on his leg. "An' you wanted one of those," he said.
"It stopped." Zoe gingerly edged up to look.
"Only to take better aim, no doubt." Again, he reached for her hem to pull her back.
"No, look Jamie! It's out of energy! It's starting to recharge!"
"Zoe…!" He reached for air. She was running straight for the Quark! Muttering imprecations only another Scotsman could have truly appreciated, he ran after her.
The little boxy robot stood at a slight tilt on the uneven ground, it's small rectangular arms waving in and out as if embracing itself. There was no sign of the Dominator, but Jamie figured the man couldn't be far behind. He made a jump to tackle his wayward companion, but missed. Zoe looked back at him with surprise and gratitude. "Jamie! Quick! I'll get that side!"
She ran, her ridiculous short dress billowing around her. They were too close to the robot to avoid it again if it succeeded in recharging; Jamie reluctantly switched from catching Zoe to catching her 'pet.'
Skidding to a stop beside it, Zoe grabbed the Quark's right arm on the outward swing, Jamie grabbed its left - but it was stronger than they were and both nearly had their fingers jammed as it pulled the arms back in again. Jamie grabbed up a chunk of flat slate and rammed it in between the Quark's arm and its body, into the slot that it was apparently receiving its charge from.
"Sha….weeeeeeek?" the Quark said in a questioning voice. "Ob…..iiiiiip?"
"Zoe!" Jamie called in warning as he stuffed another chunk of rock into the opposite slot. "Watch your hands!"
"Bnaaa….aaa….aaa…." The little robot fizzled and wobbled, then suddenly stopped.
Zoe and Jamie looked at one another and gaspingly laughed in sheer relief.
"You shouldn'a come after it."
"But it worked! It's dead," she said. "Help me haul it!"
"But…" he groaned as the headstrong girl tipped the quiescent robot and began bodily dragging it along.
"The TARDIS was over that way, wasn't it?" she asked.
"Y…nooo," he said, squinting at the surrounding barren hills. "That way."
"Oof. Lend a hand!"
"Oh, all right. But you promise me you'll leave it lie if more of 'em come."
"All right. As long as we come back. We'll have to think of a name for it."
Jamie rolled his eyes and not trusting his tongue, simply put his back into it.
"Jamie! Zoe!" came the familiar voice from behind them as they struggled to wrestle the heavy Quark towards the waiting blue box. "What have you got there?"
Jamie tipped the robot upright and dashed sweat out of his eyes, waiting for the Doctor to get a little closer. He didn't think he had enough breath for shouting.
"Doctor!" Zoe cried, apparently not hampered at all. "Look! We caught a Quark!"
"What's this?" The Doctor said as he came up to them. "Jamie! What were you thinking?"
"Me?" Jamie protested. "I had na' to do w'it!"
"It was my idea," Zoe said quickly. "Jamie was just helping. Isn't it just the most adorable thing you've ever seen? Can we keep it, Doctor, please?"
The Doctor rumpled up his hair in consideration and walked around the silent robot as it listening for something. He finally reached out and poked at a small recessed button on it's chest. There was a click, the lights on its head flashed a moment and went dark. Jamie and Zoe watched as he pried open a panel on its chest and leaned down to peer inside it.
"Mmm. Hm-mm. Hum," he said, prodding the wires. "I'm sorry, Zoe. I think it's hardwired to be obedient to the Dominators. It's a part of the power system. It would be quite a bit of work to get it to listen to anyone else."
"But you could do it, couldn't you?" she asked. She came up to his elbow and joined him in examining the Quark's innards. "I'm sure you could. I could help."
The Doctor straightened up and gave the robot a little pat. "Well…. If we were to replace the power, but then it would need manual recharging to remain useful. Possibly every day."
"What, like milkin' a cow?" Jamie asked.
"Or like winding an old-fashioned clock," the Doctor said. "If you wanted it to keep proper time."
"I'll charge it every day, I promise!" Zoe said. "Just let me keep it, pleeeease? It's just a little one."
"It would need to be disarmed, and it might still have some discharge problems… Might not be necessarily dangerous, but it could be a little messy," he mused.
"I'll take care of any messes, I'll fix anything it breaks. I promise."
He looked at her with some surprise. "Goodness, Zoe. Have you developed an affection for it? It's only a robotic device, you realize that."
"Yes, I know. It's just, well, it's so….cute!"
The Doctor looked at Jamie, who shrugged helplessly. "She wanted to name it," he supplied.
"Name it? A Quark?"
"I'll keep it in my room if you want, you won't even know it's there."
The Doctor smiled at her, humoring her. "And have it do what? It's not dexterous enough to perform any useful chores. It's a military device. There are other constructs…"
"But, I like it," she said stubbornly. She put her arm around the Quark's head. "I've never had a pet."
"The TARDIS is big enough."
He glanced at the waiting box. "Well, that it certainly is…"
Jamie groaned. "Oh no, you're not really thinkin'…."
"Shall we de-stroy?" a tiny, innocent voice asked. "Shall we?"
The Doctor's head jerked up from where he'd been rummaging underneath the TARDIS console.
"No no no no no!" The Doctor cried, lunging up so quickly he caught a loop of wire with his foot and went down again. "No no no!"
He scrambled up, forcefully shoving the diminutive robot across the floor with a squeal of metal.
"Bad Quark! Bad, bad, bad! Oh dear, oh dear, look at this mess! Dribbling little energy bolts all over my brand new transtechtricometer! Zoe!… Zoe! Your Quark is out, you left the door open again! Oh drat that girl. Promises, promises."