"This is brilliant!" the Doctor cried running around the console with a push of a button here and a pull of a lever there, "I don't know why I've never thought of this before!" with a sharp pull the materialisation lever he landed her. He fixed his jacket in place and straightened his bow tie, "Come along Song," he added striding briskly to the doors and pulling them both wide open. River hopped from her place on the console sofa and hurried after him.
"Oh Doctor!" she exclaimed, "It's beautiful!"
Brilliant White snow lay like a huge blanket in front of them, stretching as far as the eye could see. There were groups of log cabins, huddled together like a cosy little village, as River suspected this was.
"Christmas planet... The planet... Of Christmas... Planet Christmas... Very muddled language... Things often get lost in translation... It's Christmas everyday here... Automated snow... Cleans up all the yellow bits by itself... That sort of thing..."
Rivers eyes lit up in wonder. The Doctor usually couldn't find Christmas, and if he did find it there was always trouble. At least here he was guaranteed to catch Christmas. The snowflakes falling were the size of Earth English fifty pence pieces. When she stepped from the Tardis they immediately began to gather in her curly locks. The Doctor beamed stepping out to join her. He stuck his tongue out as far as he could; catching a few flakes of snow on the tip, before eating them happily.
"Minty," he grinned.
"It's flavoured too?" River gasped sticking her tongue out instinctively. The Doctor laughed at her failed attempts to catch even a single snowflake. When she finally did she exclaimed, "That one was orangey!"
He rolled his eyes turning to the Tardis to close the doors behind them, "Rules," he began shrugging off the snowflakes from his shoulders. River stared firmly at him, hands instinctively coming to rest on her hips, "You're right... It's Christmas... Forget the rules..." he mumbled looking out into the snowy village. Her stare began to unnerve him. He turned his attention back to her briefly, "What?"
"Why isn't it cold...?" she wondered with a slight frown.
"Like I said... Automated snow... Regulates... uh... Regulates everything"
River could sense the distraction in him as he shook his head. The snow was falling thick and fast yet something had caught his attention out there, in the darkness surrounding the bright and happy village.
"What is it? What's wrong?" she asked attempting to squint out into the dark, endless, snowy outskirts.
"I don't know... Probably something... Probably nothing... Most likely something... Never ignore a something... unless you're holidaying in which case... Always ignore a something..." he shrugged the snow from his jacket once more, "Come on," he grinned excitedly, "It's time for Christmas!"
Their footsteps crunched in the automated snow as they ran like excited children through the kind blizzard.
"In here," the Doctor laughed pushing open a large wooden door of the large central cabin, the main lodge.
Inside was just as magical as the outside. It radiated a warm Amber glow. River's bright eyes flickered with the reflection of the warm flames coming from a large welcoming fireplace to their right. Lining its surrounding walls were deep oak shelves filled with books which people had left behind. They could be taken and read and swapped as and when people felt like it, as often as they liked, day or night. As the lodge had employed an android as its receptionist, sleep was not required and so the lodge was open all 25 hours of the day.
As the Doctor checked them in River continued to pan her gaze around the room. In front of the open fire was an enormous fluffy white rug. Its current occupants were a young couple sat with a few open books and two very large mugs of what looked like eggnog. Their laughter was muffled by the privacy sphere generated around them. To the right of the lodge was a small lounge area, equipped with a more moderately sized log fire. Around it was a collection of very well used brown leather sofas, central was a coffee table covered edge to edge with magazines from across the galaxy. River wondered briefly as to how many archaeology magazines were hidden in the impressive pile. She gasped sharply as her eyes danced over the most spectacular Christmas tree she'd ever seen. The branches were thick and lush in the most perfect shade of deep green she'd ever come across. The golden tinsel sparkled and glistened in response to the warmth caressing it. The baubles contained miniature constellations from all galaxies. On the very top, River recognised it well, a weightless, bright ball. A star.
"All done" the Doctor's voice broke her moment of quiet. He led her back out into the soft blizzard. The snowflakes padded against him gently despite their sheer speed. The key jingled loosely in his hand as he strode on. River hurried to keep close to him, a few feet further and he'd disappear into the falling snow. He squinted down at the key number,
"Nine..." he murmured before looking up to peer at a cabin number to his right, "... Seven... Seven..." he glanced to his left, "Eight...," Turning once more to his right he spied the cabin. Cabin Nine.
"Ah ha," he jingled the key towards the lock.
"Oh Doctor," River sighed disapprovingly. He glanced up looking slightly confused before grinning boyishly.
"Yeah," he smirked, "You're right," he tossed her the key and pulled out his trusty sonic, "Why break the habit of a lifetime?" He aimed and pressed, unlocking the door with a click. River took the initiative, turned the brass handle and pushed the door open. She strode in, behind her the Doctor flicked on the light switch beside the door.
"There's only one double bed?" the Doctor exclaimed.
"It'll have to do," River insisted in her businesslike manner as she strode to the window and pulled the heavy deep red curtains closed across the enormous window at the opposite end of the room. The Doctor let the door click shut behind him, careful to lock it with a quick flick of his sonic. He proceeded into the ensuite bathroom, admiring the pure white finish on everything, and the silver sparkle of the taps. He pulled a fresh towel roughly from the towel rail and buried his face into its soft folds breathing in deeply the wintery scents of the fabric conditioner.
"Pressed this morning," he confirmed throwing it back onto the rail in a creased heap. Stepping back into the bedroom River had turned on the bedside lights and was making her way briskly towards him. He turned the main light off with a casual press of his screwdriver.
"Thank you," she smiled stepping up to him and laying a shy kiss on his cheek. He watched her dazedly as she moved to the foot of the bed and began to unbutton her small jacket. Before taking it off she instinctively began to remove all weaponry from various concealed inside pockets. Her offensive weapons clattered onto the bed in turn once she'd securely fixed the safety catch on each of them. The Doctor's eyes danced over each gun in turn. Same old River. He nervously pulled the bathroom door shut beside him, rocking backwards and forwards in his boots.
"So," he grinned clasping his hands together, "Lot's of snow... We can go skiing in the morning... Oh and I heard that they oiled Santa up... He was getting a bit rusty... Well you know how... How... robots... Robots get.."
River's shirt fluttered onto the bed. She was currently sliding her tight pants off, wriggling the rest of the way out of them as they fell to the floor. Her underwear was not exactly what the Doctor had expected Professor River Song to wear. Red and lacy, a matching set. The bra caressed her full breasts perfectly and the bottoms hugged her exceptionally well shaped bottom very well.
"Left or right..?" she asked, hands firmly on her hips as she waited on his response.
"Left... Or... Right...?" he repeated slowly shaking his head.
River sighed in exasperation, "Which side of the bed do you want?" she demanded impatiently.
"Uhh... Um... Uhh..." he stammered glancing to the bed before immediately fixing his stunned stare on River.
She sighed loudly and chose the right hand side, closest to the window. She tore the cream covers back and slid gracefully between the sheets.
The Doctor shrugged slightly as he set his screwdriver down on the bedside table. River watched him intently as he reluctantly undressed in front of her. Stripped down to his Tardis print tight boxers and sonic themed socks he joined her in the surprisingly large, warm and incredibly comfortable double bed.
"Well then..." he piped up nervously, "Goodnight..." reaching up he turned both lights off with the single switch before turning to face away from River. Everything was silent through the darkness. The Doctor, as tired as he was, took a moment to appreciate the softness of the pillow and the warmth of the material against his skin, and the hand on his...
"River!" he snapped through the darkness clamping his hand firmly on hers to prevent any further groping. His cheek tingled feeling her gentle curls lick across his skin. He could feel her steady breathing close to his neck, then felt her lips caressing ear as she began to whisper seductively all the things he'd always wanted to hear.
Suddenly the whole room shook, from what the Doctor could gather the whole planet shook. The pair gripped each other tightly through the darkness finding comfort in each others close breath.
"What was that?" River whispered.
"I don't know..." He peeled back the covers and slid out of bed. He groped around for his screwdriver and continued to pad his way across to the window. The soft, lush carpet sank with each socked step he took. He crouched low, and tugged carefully at the heavy material. The Doctor's ancient eyes adjusted to the lack of light outside. He didn't like what he saw.
River hopped from the bed with a gentle thud and crouched beside him on the floor. She peered out through the gap he'd created with the curtain. The automated snow storm had stopped. Outside everything was clear.
"Visual impairments have been upgraded" the muffled yet unmistakable robotic voice confirmed.
"Oh" she breathed.
"Exactly..." the Doctor whispered.
River felt and arm curl around her. She stared at the Doctor's outline, "Doctor..."
"Ah... Yes... Sorry. Thought you might be cold," he snatched his arm away.
"Everything is automated..." she sighed impatiently.
"You can never be too careful," he smiled knowingly. There was suddenly an enormous crash at the door. The pair clung to each other hurriedly, "Out! Out! Out! We need to get out" the Doctor insisted rushing towards his pile of clothes.
"Doctor the door! What about the door?" River cried following suit.
"It'll hold them for now... Trust the Sonic," he panted throwing his jacket on over his open shirt. He fumbled with his bowtie realising he had nowhere to put it. After stuffing it into his jacket pocket he scrambled into his trousers and slid his boots on unfastened. He ran his fingers through his bed styled hair as another enormous crash landed on the door.
"Gang of Cybermen at the front door... There's not even a back door! There isn't a manual for this!" he paced backwards and forwards along the bottom of the bed. The door crashed off its hinges and landed on the floor, "Nobody panic..." the Doctor insisted. In the doorway stood a very lopsided looking Cyberman. The clothes it wore made River's face screw up in confusion.
"Hello... And who are you then?" the Doctor asked pointing his screwdriver at the zombie like Cyberman, "Cyber... slave," he confirmed eying it suspiciously, "A human body... Flesh changed entirely into metal by a nanovirus"
"Muuuust... Deleeete," the Cyberslave drawled taking a very unsteady heavy step into the room.
"River... Up the chimney..." the Doctor insisted sidestepping towards the open fire at the end of their bed.
"But the flames!"
"Automated!" he replied impatiently, "Now! River quickly!"
River wiggled her foot the rest of the way into her boot. Moving across to the fireplace she managed to tie her small jacket around her waist, "Quickly," the Doctor urged pushing her through the cool flames.
"Muuust deleeeete," the Cyberslave droned once more as it grew closer to the bedraggled Doctor. He brandished his screwdriver menacingly at the converted soul.
"Stay where you are!" he demanded though he suspected the slave didn't do reasoning very well, if at all. It continued to stagger towards him, "River! Climb faster! I'm coming up!"
He dived into the fireplace. The flames lapped coolly at his naked chest. Though he'd known that it would be cool he had not expected such a tingling sensation. He stopped momentarily, examining each hand as the flames licked away at his fingers.
"Doctor!" River's voice cried from above him. He turned to see the Cyberslave in the fireplace entrance, hand outstretched ready to seize him. The Doctor scrambled up into the chimney after River. Her gasps and mild screams made him panic as the machine made wild, uncalculated snatches at him. A brick in the wall crumbled and fell under his foot; he held on desperately, fingers jammed painfully into cracks in the structure. His boot swung inches away from the grabbing hand of the Cyberslave. He stared upwards in panic; River's wide eyes met his. Each sensed the desperation in the other.
"Keep moving!" he yelled.
"You have to do this!" he cried angrily as he kicked fiercely at the erratic hand below him. River scrambled the last few feet to the top of the chimney stack. A few pieces of brick tumbled from their resting places, scattering over the Doctor's head. He shrugged the dusty particles from his hair and continued to climb. At the top River's strong grip found his hand and dragged him fiercely from the hole.
"Well!" he exclaimed dusting off his jacket, "That was a bit close"
River smiled knowingly at him, taking a sly glance at his revealed body. Grinning he began the tedious task of buttoning up, tucking in and tying. The final touch was clipping in of the bow tie.
"A clip on," River teased, "Oh Doctor..."
"There's lots of things I can't do River," he replied casually pulling his white shirt collar down over the deep red bow tie. River edged towards the chimney, "Don't go near it," the Doctor warned abruptly, "It only looks stupid..."
He strode past her and began to rip up the power cables attached to the television aerial.
"What are you doing?"
"You'll see," he grumbled tugging the aerial itself away from its place on the chimney stack. With his free hand he withdrew his screwdriver.
He stuffed the aerial with difficulty down the chimney, promptly sonicing the wiring, and amplifying the power. A loud robotic cry echoed up to them. Electrical flashes lit up their faces as the Cyberslave was short circuited. Something the Doctor had not anticipated was the whole town being plunged into darkness.
"Oops," he murmured stupidly, sonic still aimed at the wiring, "Think anyone will notice?"
River rolled her eyes shaking her head in despair.
"Non-human lifeform detected. Potential matches confirmed"
She grabbed the Doctor's sleeve and pulled him down to take cover beside the chimney stack.
"What are they doing?" River whispered.
"I don't know yet but I'm working it out..." the Doctor peered down to the snowy ground through his trusty mini binoculars, "They didn't just march in here in broad daylight... I'm assuming there's reason... Cybermen don't like to keep Cyberslaves for anything other than to do all the heavy lifting... I can only see those four Cybermen... Where are the others?" River took the binoculars from him and focused on the Cybermen below.
"I thought there were more..." she whispered.
"No no... You just expect that there are more... Maybe these four have come to get the party going" the Doctor breathed, "I've seen a conversion like this before... They were digging a crashed Cybership out from under the ice..."
"What if they're doing it again...?" she asked untying her jacket and slipping it on.
"No... No I don't think so... This planet was built from nothing... Someone would know if there was a Cybership buried in the heart of it"
They paused and turned to stare at one another.
"No," River said bluntly, "There's no way I'm snooping with you... Again"
"Come on," the Doctor insisted, "We've not had a good old run in ages..."
"You are compatible"
The voice was very loud and very close; it made the hairs on his neck stand on end. River's wide eyed stare did not need interpreting twice.
"... though I didn't think the running would come around so quickly..." he added pointing a knowing finger at her, "Right... Well then... RUN!"
Riding a wave of snow they slid down the roof.
"Whoaaa!" the Doctor cried scrambling to maintain a grip on the roof as his feet skidded over the edge. River flew over his head almost plummeting to the ground. He snatched at her, finding her hand through the cold rush, "Arrgh" he groaned as the strain of their weights on his arm increased. Above him he could hear the heavy, metal, air pressure controlled steps of the Cyberman. Its frame was silhouetted against the navy sky, "River...!" the Doctor yelled over his shoulder. His wide and frightened eyes were fixed on the enemy above him.
"Do it!" her voice cried back.
"I can't let you die here!"
"Just do it!"
The Doctor shut his eyes tightly.
Then he let go.
A sharp white light blinded him. He fell to the ground with a shakey metal thud. As his eyes adjusted he realised what had happened. He smiled across to River; she was already kneeling up, brushing off the dust from her clothes.
"That was good yeah?" she grinned finding her feet, "Shame you didn't think of it..." River unzipped her jacket and threw it over one of the familiar metal rails. The Doctor stared after her open mouthed as she strode up to the console.
The Doctor would have loved to have taken the credit for obtaining a companion with such vast knowledge and who was so sharp she could out think even him. However the credit wasn't his, River was not a woman who could be 'obtained' she was the most free spirit he had ever met. River did as she pleased, went where she pleased, with whomever she pleased.
"Vortex manipulator..." he stated rising from the floor, "What are you going to do when stops working?"
She glanced up casually from the controls; "I'll think of something" she shrugged looking down once more to tap a few more keys on the typewriter. The Doctor joined her in watching the Cybermen on the screen, "What are you thinking?" she asked calmly stepping back to give him thinking space. The Doctor did tend to get quite animated when he was onto something brilliant.
He frowned at the moving image, "I'm not sure yet... But I'm working on it"
"Something isn't quite right..." he puzzled watching the four Cybermen, "It's not adding up"
River watched the screen carefully.
"The Cyberslave... " the Doctor said thoughtfully, "Wasn't dressed... Festively... So... It wasn't converted here..."
"Doctor," River said suddenly.
On the screen the Cybermen were marching towards the Tardis.
"Well then... Plan B... Let's just ask them" he hopped excitedly to the door. Opening it a fraction he slipped outside. He was greeted by four enormous Cybermen. Now he was closer, and in the regulated light of the Tardis he could see how badly damaged they were.
Holes, scorch marks, dents.
"Hello..." the Doctor said suspiciously. For a moment there was silence. The only sound was from the wind whistling between them. The most damaged robot spoke first,
Inside the Tardis River tried to change the angle on the screen. All she'd managed to tune in was the image of the tops of the Cybermen's heads. The Doctor facing four Cybermen... The odds were not good. Not good at all.
"Oh Hello... Recognise me then," the Doctor smirked darkly tucking his hands into his pockets, "And what can I do for you...?"
It raised its arm to the Doctor's face. He edged back against the Tardis. Instead of the typical Cyberarm gun, the damaged device took a scan of the Doctor's face.
"Image scanned. Data processed"
The Doctor dipped out of the way as the Cyberman projected images on the Tardis doors. The Doctor watched with fascination as full size images of every incarnation he'd been through flashed in front of him.
"Records indicate Eleventh incarnation... Time Lord... The Doctor"
The Doctor frowned in confusion, glancing backwards and forwards between the projection of himself and the Cyberman producing it.
"What's all this? How did you get those images?" he demanded firmly still flicking his stare between the two.
What followed shocked him.
The Cyberman began to leak oil from its eye. A single drop smeared down its metal cheek. It was crying
"I did my duty... I did my duty... For Queen and country"
"Yvonne?" the Doctor stammered wearily turning his whole body towards the Cyberman, "Yvonne Hartman?"
It had never occurred to him that she had managed to escape the closure of the void. Yet here she was, with seemingly full control over the metallic body she had been upgraded into.
"Rogue Cybermen... Well... You always did lead a team well," the Doctor said quietly staring up at the accompanying Cybermen. They very much reminded him of the Dalek Cult of Skaro. If they each had control over the suits then they all would indeed respond to names. It saddened him to think of the lives they should now be living. On Earth, not in suits of metal but in the bodies they were supposed to have. He could remember Yvonne clearly with her beautiful flowing hair, her carefully applied makeup, and the black suit and heels that she felt powerful wearing. She couldn't have any of that now. The Doctor could feel the emotion welling up inside him. They must be able to feel everything. That had been enough to destroy ordinary Cybermen. It must be like a lifetime of torture for these four rogues.
Inside the Tardis River watched in shock. She'd thought for certain that the Cyberman would have deleted the Doctor on the spot. If only she could get the sound working...
"We travel through stars. Every day we are a little more human... For you Doctor..." from inside its chest plate the Cyberman removed a metal rack of six small vials. Taking hold of it the Doctor began to examine the vials carefully. The contents were shiny and golden. In the dim light they illuminated his face.
"I don't understand. Where did you get this? How... Did you get this?"
"Goodbye Doctor. Cybermen do not belong on a planet so full of emotion"
In shimmering blue beams the four Cybermen vanished before his eyes. His hands shook, causing the glass vials to rattle against their metal holdings. The door of the Tardis swung inwards; River's curly hair bobbed out, her expression concerned.
"What was that about?" she asked stepping out to join him. As she did so the automated snow began to fall once more and the lighting was restored to the buildings. River's eyes fell on the glowing items in the Doctor's shaking hands, "What are those?" she asked.
The Doctor looked across to her sternly, "Come on," he insisted leading her back into the Tardis.
"Doctor..." River murmured as he set the rack down on the console.
"It's impossible," he shook his head and took a step back to take a good look at them.
"What is it?"
"Regenerative energy...," he raised his hands turning them over to examine them, "I could stay this way... channel my regenerations into each vial... Or..." he turned to River, "You could take one if anything should... if anything happened to you. You could regenerate like me. Each one of these..." he removed a golden vial and held it up, "One regeneration... Time Lord Technology... We were always looking for ways to survive"
River stepped up to him, putting her hand around his, holding the vial of Regenerative energy together. She took it from him and placed in gently back down amongst the others.
"We'll see," she said calmly.
He looked at her through hurt and confused eyes. A soft hand on his cheek washed it all away.
"Do all your vacations end this way?" River asked laying down on soft white rug. The Doctor slowly sat himself beside her, a glass of wine in each hand.
"Well actually there was Brighton beach... No... Wait... Hang on... That ended badly. Then there was... Yeah... That ended in disaster too. Trouble seems to just follow me around"
"I noticed," River carefully lifted a glass from his hand. He watched her lips carefully as they caressed the edge of the glass.
"I have something for you," he said suddenly setting his own glass down and reaching into his pocket. He withdrew a small brown package, the paper held on by thin string, "I'm not too good at wrapping..." he added edging closer to watch her open it.
Her fingers tugged at the bow, the paper fell away revealing a very familiar blue book. The leather was brand new, the Tardis imprint was fresh. Opening the pages she found that they were crisp and clean and new. With a rush of emotion River grabbed hold of his collar and pulled his face roughly towards hers. For a moment they paused; his fingers tangled in her soft curls. His eyes closed, his lips parted until they came to rest against hers.
Parting, he savoured every second of it, savoured every taste. Opening his eyes he met with River's delicate gaze. Her eyes shone in the amber glow, every flickering shadow across her face made her look even more beautiful.
"River..." he began quietly, "Who are...?"
The stared blankly at each other, the Doctor winced slightly.
They turned, coming face to face with a towering red Dalek.
Their screams filled every inch of the lodge. The Doctor's even more so than River's. She gripped his arm tightly as she slammed her hand down on her Vortex Manipulator.
"Doctor! " River yelled in frustration, "We're in the Tardis! Why are you still screaming!"
"Oh... Right... Ah... Yes... Well then..." He stood up beside the console.
"Doctor... Please... Forget the holiday... Let's go..." River begged.
"Alright, alright... How about we take a short holiday in...?"
Author: Yvonne Hartman was in charge of the 'Ghost shift' in the 'Army of Ghosts' episode featuring David's Doctor. She was converted into a Cyberman but retained enough humanity to be able to control the Cyber body. She helped the Doctor to escape - whether she survived or was sucked into the void not was not addressed.