A/N: Whooo, for a minute there I thought this I wasn't going to be able to post because it wouldn't let me upload any documents...silly . Anywho, onto Episode 11 now (this is 11, isn't it? I keep losing count lol) Like I've said a bunch of times, Degeneration will come next. I'm making it work so it'll be in a kind of two-parter with the finale. Whoosh only 3 stories left including this one, and two of them are already half finished! I'm a bit sad actually, because nothing is ever the same after the finalés...
I thought I'd go back to the roots of DW with this one a bit. I don't think I've had enough proper aliens and stuff in my stories, so here's some spacey alieny type stuff. Not right away but it's there. Eventually lol. So enjoy! x
Having only ever seen the interior of one TARDIS in her time, Ashley was unsure to whether or not the Doctor's TARDIS was top of the range or not. It was impressive to her, certainly, but the most impressive form of transport she had ever been in was a candy pink Hummer that a friend had rented for her birthday one year. You could tell if a Hummer was brand new or ready to be scrapped. The TARDIS, well… it was hard to tell, but taking that they had broken down for the sixth time that week, she had to risk a guess and say that it probably had a few billion miles on its clock.
At least nothing had caught fire this time. There had been an explosion and a few sparks, but no need for the fire extinguisher. Which was a good thing really seeing as it was empty. A few levers had to be reconnected to the console but according to the Doctor it was nothing; apparently it happened all the time. That statement hadn't been particularly reassuring. Despite the console being fixed, they still couldn't carry on with their destination-less journey, as during the turbulence a closet door had swung open, sending a tidal wave of junk and trinkets to flood the console room floor. The Doctor had grumpily set about to tidying up, but Ashley had clambered up onto the catwalk to keep out of the way. She wouldn't have only put things in the wrong place anyway.
'This is ridiculous,' she announced loudly, turning the book over in her hands and squinting at the words on the page. 'This makes less sense than the Matrix. And it doesn't even have Keanu Reeves to blame.'
The Doctor glanced up from a last box that needed to be repacked and squinted at the book she held. 'What's that you've got?'
Ashley frowned, not sure how to answer. 'Well… I've figured out that it's a book. And then I'm kind of stuck.'
The Doctor pushed his glasses back up his nose and returned his attention back to the box, pushing in various shaped discs into the right sized slots. 'Well you are aware of what you do with books, aren't you?'
Ashley shot him a frown. 'No,' she replied sarcastically. 'Do you chew on them?'
'If you like the taste of re-recycled toilet paper.'
There was a moment in which Ashley couldn't decide whether or not to put the book down. She decided that it probably wasn't as disgusting as it sounded, but gently closed the book anyway. 'I've been reading it for about an hour now,' she explained, her brow slightly creased. 'And at first I thought it was about a young Krolexian trying to decide on which form to live his life in, and then it was suddenly about raising two headed children in the Fluxfife Nebula and… and then I was pretty sure I was reading a shopping list.'
'What's it called?'
Ashley examined the cover. 'Doesn't have a title.' She flipped open to the first page. 'But it does say that it was first published in a printing house in Croydon in 3054.'
'Ah, that explains it.' The Doctor beamed, hopping energetically to his feet and scooping the box up in his arms. 'They're always printing stuff like that in Croydon.'
Ashley watched him cross the floor to the cupboard. He pulled the door open quickly and tossed the box inside with a crash, and then slammed it shut again before everything could pour back out. 'You are talking about the Croydon I know, right?'
The Doctor looked at her in bewilderment as he dusted his hands. 'What? Oh, oh of course not. Although not a lot of good things have come out of that Croydon either…'
Ashley leaned on the bars running around the catwalk and dropped the book beside her. 'So are you all done then?'
'Yes, although without any help from you. You know, it's not like I ask much. I don't try and make you pay board or anything like that. Although I'm not sure why I would need to do that in the first place, it's not as if I have to pay any rent. Anyway, it wouldn't kill you to help tidy the place around once in a while.'
'Hey, I did the dishes yesterday.'
'For the first time in how long?' the Doctor shook his head and sighed. 'I'm going to stop now before this gets ugly.'
'Before it turns into a domestic, you mean?' Ashley smirked.
'I don't do domestic.' The Doctor replied with a frown. He prodded a button randomly on the console. 'Bad for my chi.'
Ashley chuckled. 'Your chi?'
He only shrugged. 'Sounds better than 'it gets on my nerves'.' He prodded another button, and with that he was suddenly grinning manically like his usual manic self. 'Anyway! Where were we before that untimely breakdown?'
Ashley slid under the bar and dropped off the catwalk, landing on the floor with a thud. 'I can't remember actually. You were saying something about berries?'
The Doctor was looking at her disapprovingly. 'I wish you wouldn't jump off there. You're going to put a hole right through the floor one day, and I'm not going to pull you out again. I'll leave you down there.' He turned his attention back to the console before she could respond. 'Ah yes! Berries! And not just any berries; my second favourite berries.'
'What's your first favourite kind?'
The Doctor snorted. 'Ask a stupid question…' He blinked at her blank look. 'Bananas!' he cried. 'Do you know anything about me?'
'Bananas aren't berries.' Ashley frowned. 'They're just… bananas.'
'They are. They grow in groups called clutches. If you don't believe me, look it up. Now anyway, about my other favourite kind of berries. They grow on a lovely little island on the west side of the planet Harlamarataralopia. They turn your tongue rainbow coloured. I used to have a whole jar full but they got… well, eaten. By someone who wasn't me. So what do you think?'
'I think you make up those place names.' Ashley replied.
'Do you have any idea how many planets there are in the universe?' the Doctor replied defensively. 'You think I can remember all of their names? And trust me, its real name is much harder to remember.'
She smirked at him and sat down on the jump seats, putting her feet up on the console like he always did when he sat there. 'What are the locals like?' she asked, knowing from experience that it was one of the first questions to ask, along with 'Is there any oxygen on that planet?' Just by the way he screwed up his nose she knew the answer wasn't going to be a good one.
'Well, we'd avoid them of course,' he replied, slapping her feet down off the console. 'But seriously, these berries are amazing. The colours don't stay still you know, they ripple. It's great fun. And they have no calories, so you can eat as many as you like without getting porky.'
Ashley held a hand up. 'Now hold up there, pally.' She said, turning her flat hand into a waggling finger. 'Don't think you can distract me with tie-dye hippy sweets and the perfect diet plan. Why would we have to avoid the locals?'
The Doctor rubbed the back of his neck and squinted. 'Well… maybe because they don't really like humans all that much. Or humanoids. Or anything with two eyes, two arms and two legs. And they're not particularly keen on things with scales either. And when I say they don't like humans or anything vaguely human shaped, I mean that they are torn apart and devoured on sight.' He paused and shrugged. 'So I suppose to do technically like humanoids, just not in the sense that we would like them to.'
'No way. Sorry, but I'm not risking getting eaten alive because of a few berries.'
'I can land us right on the island! Seriously, there aren't even any of them on the island. They won't even know we're there. It'll be exciting.'
'There's a huge giant Pavarotti sized line between exciting and death wish. And trust your landing capabilities? I think not. Knowing you we'll probably end up in the middle of one of their wedding parties or something. No, I'm not going there.'
The Doctor looked away sulkily. 'Well it's your loss. Those berries are amazing.'
'Is there nothing nearby?' Ashley asked, getting up and joining his side at the console. She peered at the screen, which a while ago had meant nothing to her except a few pretty patterns, but now she knew the circles signified planets and the larger, hollow ones signified systems. A small white dot in the far corner caught her attention and she pointed at it. 'What's that?'
The Doctor pushed his glasses back on and peered at the screen. Then he grinned broadly. 'Oh, well done Ashley. Good choice. Very good choice.' He bounded off and began to perform his in-flight ritual of bashing the TARDIS with a hammer while Ashley watched him, worried.
'Why is it a good choice?' she asked. 'What is it?'
'I couldn't have picked better myself.' The Doctor replied as the column began to rise and fall. 'Actually, I probably could have. But… well, for your first go, you know, it's good.'
'But I didn't pick it! I just asked what it was!'
'Oh but we can't go by and not visit! We'll need invitations probably, but I'm sure the psychic paper can cover that one. And you'll have to dress a little smarter. I'll get my tux. It'll be great!'
'We're not going to get killed or eaten or dismembered, are we?'
'Of course not!' the Doctor grinned. 'The only thing there that can harm you is if you drink too much from the free bar.'
Ashley's frown disappeared and her eyebrows rose with new interest. 'Free bar?' she echoed.
'I thought you would like that,' the Doctor tutted. 'You should take it easy. I can picture you being an alcoholic at thirty.'
'When you say free…' Ashley paused. 'Where are we going exactly?'
The TARDIS came to a halt with an echoing thud, and the Doctor beamed at her from the other side of the console. 'Eleven Stars.' He replied.
Ashley blinked. 'What?'
'It's a hotel,' he told her. 'It's called Eleven Stars, because it's the only hotel in the universe to have a rating of eleven stars.'
'But hotel ratings only go up to five.'
The Doctor winked and grinned. 'Exactly.' He bounded past her, grabbing her hand and dragging her after him. 'Now come on. Dressing up time.'