Chapter Three: The Great Limus Empire
Molly dragged the Doctor after her, heading further backstage. In attempts to get some distance between them and the multitudes of marching metal monstrosities, she led them through another side door. She smiled at the alliteration, then returned to double-deadbolting the heavy metal door. She whipped around, throwing her back against the door and splaying her hands across it as if they'd offer any extra protection.
"You're a handful," she said from between teeth gritted in anticipation.
His mouth dropped open a notch. "I'm a handful? You're downright cracked!"
"Sticks and stones, Doctor." She grinned disarmingly. The broke away from the door as the sound of the approaching Cybermen increased.
"Molly," the Doctor said, rounding the corner at a run with her hand held tightly in his, "I have a confession to make."
"Oh cranberry sauce, you're gay, aren't you?" She pouted, breathing hard already.
His face contorted severely. "No! Well, I mean--No!"
"I knew it," she frowned, leading the Doctor down toward the green room. "This always happens to me. Meet a nice guy, he stalks you for a while, turns out he's gay."
"Technically I'm--" The Doctor tried, but found himself face to face with a solid door. "Molly, what's this?" The door they'd left behind them crashed open under the combined force of the squadron of Cybermen.
"The green room," she said. "It's where all the actors hang out and talk about how awesome they are before they go on stage." She shrugged. "I was a techie in high school." She yanked on the doors, and they didn't so much as budge. "Fluffernutters! Who locks a green room during a performance?!"
"Someone who thinks that a locked room is a safe room," he replied, fiddling with the device in his hand. Pressing a button, a light came on and a terrible whirring noised filled the air as he applied it to the lock.
Molly threw her hands over her ears, looking over her shoulder. The shadows of the Cybermen were approaching, and the sounds of the screaming crowd had quieted. Maybe they were all safe and away.
"All right!" He shouted, yanking the door open and ushering Molly inside. The room was large, with an old TV mounted on the wall and several opened pop cans littering the varied tables and chairs. Two actors, still in costume, shrieked at their appearance and ran into the dressing room, locking it behind them as well. Molly leapt over the old sofa to hide behind, leaving the Doctor in the center of the room, awaiting the oncoming enemies. Legs spread in a defensive stance, arms taught and fisted at his sides.
"What're you gonna say?" Molly asked over the ever-increasing sound of their metallic footsteps.
"Something clever," he replied, barely looking over his shoulder at her. "Molly, since you've gotten yourself into this, there's a thing or two you should know about me."
"I don't judge you based on your sexual orientation, Doctor," Molly shouted back, the marching now almost intolerable in the closed corridors behind the stage.
"I'm an alien!" He cried, throwing frustrated arms to the ceiling. "Cor, you're hard to talk around!"
Before either could shout another word, the marching ceased. The Doctor and Molly turned wide-eyed to the doorway, where twelve Cybermen stood in perfect formation, all with weapons trained on the Doctor. He held up his hands quickly.
"Where is the girl?"
Molly held up her fists from behind the sofa and twirled them like a turn-of-the-century boxer. The Doctor waved her back.
"Listen," the Doctor cut in, "there's got to be a civilized way to go about this. Two intelligent sentient beings like us." He winced. "Did I mention good-looking?"
"You are the Doctor." The lead Cyberman said in his mechanic voice.
The Doctor nodded emphatically. "Yes, that's me, I'm the Doctor. Now, I'm against mass destruction as a whole, but there's usually some sense to it, isn't there?" There came a pause, punctuated only by the weeping of the actors trapped in the bathroom. "So," he added, exaggerating his syllables and features, "why Grapes of Wrath?"
"I was forced to read the whole thing in sophomore year."
The Doctor and Molly exchanged a glance.
"Yeah," said a second cyborg, "Mrs. Robinson's class was completely lame. She gave us a quiz every day."
"And what's with that turtle chapter?" A third cut in with the same buzzing, droning voice. "It's a stupid turtle. Does it really need a whole chapter?"
"It's allegorical!!" Molly shouted angrily from behind the sofa, rising up and swinging her fists again in frustration. "Why doesn't anyone get the turtle chapter?!"
"Wait a second," the Doctor said, glaring hard at the Cybermen. "There isn't even a turtle in the play. Well--" He cut himself off, looking to Molly, "--we didn't really get to see it, so I don't really know if there was a turtle or not but, I can guess... But who doesn't like Grapes of Wrath? It's a brilliant book about the human condition!"
"Imperfect," the first Cyberman chanted again. "Just like Tess of the D'Urbervilles."
"Oh no, do not even get me started." The second chided in a flat robotic voice.
"Hold that thought!" The Doctor cried and joined Molly behind the couch as one of the Cybermen's weapons discharged. They all began firing into the green room.
"What a bunch of critics," Molly fumed. "Agreed, I didn't like Tess so much, but Grapes of Wrath! That's a classic!"
"Now, I know Cybermen, believe me," the Doctor said, watching the haphazard trajectories of the cyber weapons more keenly in the closed space. "They're good shots, at the least. And I don't know a single Cyberman who's ever troubled himself with Earth literature..."
"Something's rotten in the state of Denmark?" Molly ventured. The Doctor nodded slowly.
"If I could synch up the screwdriver with an amplifier--"
"Fancy alien technology and all you need is an amp that goes to eleven?"
He arched an expressive eyebrow. "You're taking it pretty well."
"The president was assassinated on live TV about a year ago, Doctor," she reminded him. "Besides, it's a short step from stalker to alien." Her eyes scanned the room and locked on the karaoke machine and its speakers across the room. "Doctor!" Her arm shout out, nearly catching him under the chin.
"Got it!" He cried. "Stay here! Get their attention or something. Doesn't look like they're a very good shot, whatever they are."
She flashed him a thumbs-up, then poked her head over the side of the couch. "Hey! Cybermen! I thought that Flaubert's use of imagery only heightened the effect of his work in Madame Bovary!" She hissed, "Go Doctor!" just as the Cybermen opened fire in her direction and she moved further along the couch, away from the Doctor's escape route. He stayed low and rolled to the karaoke machine. He turned the switch to ON, and a song came belting suddenly out of the speakers.
NEVER GONNA GIVE YOU UP
NEVER GONNA LET YOU DOWN
NEVER GONNA RUN AROUND AND DESERT YOU.
"SORRY!" The Doctor shouted.
"DELETE." The Cybermen chanted, turning to the Doctor. Molly threw her hands into the air and jumped up and down frantically.
"I think The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is the most influential piece of literature from the last 300 years!" She shouted loudly over the warblings of Rick Astley.
The Cybermen paused in their destruction and turned, aghast, back to Molly. "No way," one countered, "Coleridge was a stick-in-the-mud."
"Robert Frost's Road Not Taken was so much better," another fired back.
"I don't debate the long-standing aesthetic of the poem," Molly cried over the music, "simply that Frost's legacy isn't as deeply-rooted as Coleridge's work!"
"It is a classic piece of literature recognized everywhere," the head Cyberman argued.
"But Rime of the Ancient Mariner changed the direction of English poetry and eventually led to the beginnings of British romanticism!" Molly railed. "DOCTOR, ARE YOU QUITE DONE?!"
"GOT IT!" He shouted, and plunged the head of the screwdriver into the main speaker of the karaoke machine.
The unbearable pulsing sound transmitted from the speakers at tenfold volume, throbbing in Molly's ears and forcing her to the ground, hands over her head. Rick Astley's unnatural voice boomed from the speakers with the sonic sounds of the screwdriver, along with the tortured screams of the Cybermen as they reeled in pain.
One of the Cybermen's heads exploded in a shower of glittering sparks. The room felt as if it shook around them, and Molly tried her best to hide her head under the sofa cushions. Another Cyberman screamed and its head exploded as well. Soon, the room was like a microwave and the cyber heads like popcorn, and they popped to the last one of them.
"Hah!" The Doctor proclaimed loudly as he removed the screwdriver and shut off the karaoke machine. "Now, let's see what we've got here!"
Molly climbed over the back of the couch, her ears ringing and brain still thundering. "Don't you have any quieter weapons of mass destruction?" She asked.
Her question went ignored as the Doctor knelt next to one of the fallen Cybermen. The head was blown apart, and as he knelt closer, the center of its chest popped and hissed, releasing a mechanism and opening up to the heart of the cyborg. Both Molly and the Doctor reeled back.
A small glob of a creature was situated in a tiny control room of sorts in the middle of the Cyberman's chest, its huge eyes taking up most of its gooey body. The Doctor pulled out a pair of plastic-rimmed glasses and squinted hard at the creature.
"Woah," Molly muttered. "It's like... melted chocolate." She paused, pressing her lips together in thought. "Wonder what it tastes like."
The Doctor turned to fix her with a look of disgust, which melted into an honest shrug and he turned back to the fake Cyberman.
"They're Limuses," he said in a low, thoughtful voice. "Formless little parasite things," he clarified. "But what are you doing here? And dressed as Cybermen"
The limus glared at the Doctor. "The Cybermen and the Daleks are the only ones you take seriously," it complained in a voice that sounded eerily reminiscent of Mickey Mouse.
"Whaat?" The Doctor asked, squinting again.
"We thought that if we looked like Cybermen, you might take us seriously for once." The limus held up tiny little limbs, muddy and dripping, in what Molly supposed were fists.
"So we've met before?" The Doctor asked incredulously, his eyes going wide.
"Of course!" The limus crowed. It was joined in a chorus by the other limuses, who had escaped their cyber vessels. Together, they might have formed a cat. "You are our arch nemesis, Doctor!"
The Doctor ran a nervous hand over the back of his neck. "Sorry, don't remember ever infuriating a limus."
"So basically what you're saying," Molly cut in, "is that you're basically the Amoeba Brothers from space?"
"What are you going on about?" The Doctor asked.
Molly ignored him this time and knelt beside the head limus. "Hey, little limey dude," she began comfortingly, "did it ever feel that, even though the Doctor committed atrocious acts against you, all he ever seemed to do was fight with bigger baddies?"
"Yes," the limus said sadly. "We suffered through terrible literature because of the Doctor."
"What?" The Doctor complained. "What do I have to do with The Grapes of Wrath?"
"When you aided the Great Limus Empire and the Tiny Limus Empress," another limus chirped in a similar voice, "the government realized how it had been squandering its resources. When the Tiny Empress took over, it became vastly more efficient in several areas, including educating young limuses."
"The Great Limus Library expanded to include several million Earth volumes, including the much-hated Grapes of Wrath," the head limus finished.
"Let me get this straight," the Doctor said, whipping off his glasses for effect. "You blame me for your school curriculum?"
"Yes!" the head limus declared. "And because of your meddling, we've searched the galaxies for you."
"And," Molly cut in sympathetically, "every time you stood up to him, he ignored you."
"Hey! Whose side are you on here?" The Doctor protested.
"But they're so cute," Molly crooned.
"Listen," the Doctor said, "they've broken intergalactic law here, threatening the lives of innocent citizens of Earth."
"You mean... We've finally done something bad enough?" The head limus's huge eyes lit up several different swimming colors, like a lava lamp. Molly clutched her hands together and cooed.
"Yeah," the Doctor replied, dragging it out slowly. "I'm going to have to call up UNIT, see what they can do about you."
The Doctor patted his pockets as he stood. "Er, Molly, could I borrow your phone?"
She reached into her jeans pocket and pulled out an ancient orange Nokia. "I don't have too many minutes," she said. "Can you do some alien thing and reverse the charges?"
"Sure," he said with a roll of his eyes.
"You call your alien friends and I'll entertain your arch enemies," she said with a widening smile.
The Doctor sighed, shaking his head, but as he keyed in the number for the American UNIT base, he looked over his shoulder to where Molly leaned in, engrossed in the lead limus's tales of tribulations on seeking revenge against the Doctor. It was a stretch, but he managed the least little curve of a smile.
"Well," the Doctor began, leading Molly down the front steps of the auditorium as disguised UNIT vans rushed up around the building to contain the alien forces within, "that was a bit anticlimactic, wasn't it?"
"I dunno," she answered, her arm cradled in his. "Sort of fun for my first alien encounter. Boy, those chocolate things were just about the most adorable things I've ever seen." She watched the advent of several UNIT officers concernedly. "What exactly did you tell your alien friends was in there?"
"They're human," he groaned. "And I just told them the truth. I've got my arch nemeses trapped down in the green room. I'm sure wherever they're going, there won't be an abundance of Earth literature." He scrutinized her for a moment. "That bit about Rime of the Ancient Mariner... You really think all that?"
She shrugged. "Dunno. I haven't read it yet."
The Doctor laughed, something bright and clear in the autumnal night. "Well, Molly Shae Callaghan, you have a bit of humor after all."
"I'm hilarious," she argued, her face hurt and deadpan.
He ceased his laughing nervously, then attempted to bring back his enthusiastic smile. "Look, I've got a bit of a dilemma, and since you already know I'm an alien, I suppose it can't hurt to ask."
"This is about stalking me, isn't it?"
"Yes. Well, no. Well, it wasn't really stalking, was it?" He paused, then in a low, strained voice, he squeaked, "Wellll..." He shook it off. "I'm a bit of a traveller."
"A hobo," she clarified.
"You could say that, I guess. Gypsy, maybe."
"If you don't tell fortunes, I'm not interested."
A slight glare to hold in his eyes. "If you don't stop that, I'm not asking you to come along with me."
She perked up immediately. "Go where?"
"Oh, here and there," he trailed off, tossing his eyes to the sky. "I've usually got someone to come along with me, but I've been alone for a while. Time I picked someone else up for the ride, I suppose. Life of a hobo can get pretty lonely sometimes."
She giggled. "And you picked me on accident."
"Basically," he admitted with a sigh.
"What about exams?" She asked. "I'm a straight-B student right now. A four-point-oh in my major, Doctor. I'd like to keep that up."
"Not a problem," he said cheerfully. "I'll have you home in time."
She leered over the top of her glasses. "You're sure?"
"Oh, positive," he said with a dashing smile.
She grinned happily, clasping her hands together. "Sure!" She did a short little dance that seemed to have no rhythm or sense of movement. "I'll be the Short Round to your intergalactic Jones, Doctor. Can I call you Doctor Jones?"
"Why Batman?" He questioned, eyebrows lowering.
She paused, scratching at her ear in thought. "He's awesome?"
"Just the Doctor," he amended.
They linked arms again and headed off into the darkness. They returned to her dorm quickly, where she burst into her room without warning. Jenny looked up with an alarmed expression.
"The play over already?" Jenny asked as Molly sorted through her clothes at random.
"No," Molly said. "Well, kinda. Aliens came and interrupted it. I basically saved the day with a literary argument." She stuffed clothes into one of her bags almost without looking at them first. "Just the essentials," she reminded herself.
"Going somewhere?" Jenny asked, writing off the alien story as another of Molly's obscure inside jokes.
"Yep. The Doctor's taking me on a trip," she said with light shining in the back of her eyes.
"The hobo? You just met him!"
"Yeah, well he just met me, too, so we're in the same boat."
"You're gonna get raped," Jenny warned in a low, serious voice.
"Don't worry," Molly said, throwing the bag of clothes over one shoulder. "I think he's gay. Be back for exams!" She said before waving and dashing out the door as quickly as she'd come.
AN: Hello folks! Or, the few of you who are reading this... This one's longer! And I reveal the true intentions! And I still love writing Molly! And you got Rick Roll'd! There will be plenty of TARDIS in the next chapter, along with some strange new destination!! Let me know what you think of the little nemeses, and how my Doc characterization is going so far. I've been watching a lot of the Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) so I hope his influence hasn't gotten too far into Ten's characterization here (even if they are pretty similar! My two faves!!) Also, point of interest, limus means mud in latin (or so one of my latin-class friends has told me). Anyway, let me know what you think, leave us some love, and stay awesome!