This is a series of short stories about the year the Doctor spent trapped in a temporal stasis box, helping the CSI Las Vegas team to solve crimes. To discover how the Doctor was trapped in the box in the first place, please read my story, "The Book of Olparn."
"It's a party!" cried the Doctor. Catherine wasn't certain he should be sounding so triumphant about the whole thing.
Greg blinked. He examined the scene in front of him. A dead woman, her body lying limp on the ground save for one arm, which appeared to be glued to the wall in a vertical position. The lifeless hand was pointing towards a series of graffittied scribbles along the brickwork.
"I don't see it," Greg admitted.
"Well, it's not a party by your standards," said the Doctor. "Not all nibbles and music and tuxes and whatnot. It's a Verinaxian birthday party. The whole thing is a scavenger hunt, you see. The dead body just means that the birthday boy has worked out the clue."
"How many clues are there at these Veri-what's-it parties?" Catherine asked.
"Well, you see, that sort of depends," said the Doctor. He was using that reluctant voice of his which meant that things were far worse than he wanted to admit.
"Depends on what?" asked Greg.
"On how old the Verinax is turning," said the Doctor. "Sort of like birthday candles. One victim for one year. And one for good luck. Then they go off and have cake. Well, I say cake. It's actually more like this lumpy goo sort of thing…"
"Oh, well that's just great," said Greg. "So our crime scene is just a toddler's birthday party?"
The Doctor took a sharp breath. "Yeah, not really toddlers…"
"Doctor," said Catherine, crossing her arms. "How old do these aliens get?"
The Doctor paused. "Pretty old," he admitted. He gave a small sigh. "Really old, actually. The parties usually go on for at least a day."
Greg stared at the palm sized box that he was carrying in his hand. It was the box where the Doctor was stuck, doomed to live out his days in temporal stasis. But at the moment, being trapped in a box was sounding, to Greg, like an increasingly better option.
"There was this one Verinax party on the planet Flontasine," said the Doctor. "Nearly killed off an entire race."
"These are the times when I don't like having the Doctor around," said Greg. "When he starts explaining to me exactly how doomed we really are."
"Doomed? Nah. Never," insisted the Doctor.
Greg looked over to Catherine. "What would Grissom say? The evidence never lies."
"Ah, true," said the Doctor. "But you're forgetting our secret weapon."
Greg and Catherine waited for him to continue, but apparently, the Doctor had decided that he'd given them all the information they needed. Catherine tapped her foot, impatiently.
"Well?" she demanded. "What is it?"
"Me, obviously," said the Doctor. "Who else do you think stopped that party on Flontasine?"
Greg hit his head against the wall. "Great," he said. "And these aliens will just wet themselves in terror when they see you stuck inside that box, huh?"
"Yeah," said the Doctor, in that slow, thinking voice of his. "Still working on that one. Give me a second."
Catherine stared at the writing on the wall, snapping a picture of it with her Polaroid camera. "Wish we could read the clues," said Catherine.
"Huh?" asked Greg.
"The clues," said Catherine, pointing to the unintelligible writing on the wall. "If we could read them, maybe we could cut these guys off before they butcher too many people. Stop them in their tracks."
"That's brilliant!" said the Doctor. "Molto bene! Oh, Catherine Willows, you are a genius."
"And that's the cue for Crazy Doctor Plan Number One," said Greg.
"All we have to do," continued the Doctor, ignoring Greg, "is solve the puzzles before they do, find them, and convince them to break up the party."
"And cue the part where the plan falls apart," Greg said.
"We can't read the message," Catherine reiterated, in the same slow, shouty tone of voice that we Americans often use to communicate with foreigners.
"Of course not," said the Doctor. "You've never ridden in the Tardis. But you know someone who has."
"Yes, and he's locked in a box," said Greg.
Catherine had gone very still. "I think," she said, in a far quieter tone of voice, "he meant Lindsey."
Greg gawked at her. "Lindsey? She's a kid. She's not even part of the police force."
Catherine had already taken out her cell phone, and started snapping pictures. "It's just a picture," said Catherine, as she sent it to Lindsey with the accompanying text message: "Please read this aloud to me."
Thirty seconds later, Catherine's phone rang. Catherine put her daughter on speaker phone.
"Read it yourself," Lindsey said, without so much as a hello. "It's in English."
"Ah," said the Doctor. "Not so much, actually. The Tardis has telepathic translation circuits. Since you've ridden in the Tardis, you can read any language as if it was English. Well, so long as the Tardis is still around."
Lindsey gave a small sigh. "You know, you could have given me a heads up before I went to French class," she said.
"Yeah, probably should have done," the Doctor admitted.
Catherine cleared her throat. "Lindsey," she said, in her best stern-mother tone of voice.
"You're not going to be happy about this," said Lindsey. "It says, 'the gupta glasses of traxofa have no eyes, while the haxor nupta of yiporta has no nose.'"
"Didn't get a word of that," said Greg. He turned to Catherine. "You?"
"Oh! Oh!" shouted the Doctor. "It's that place. You know—in the downtown area. What's it called? Bright lights. Big sign. Neon. I think it's a casino."
"That describes about half of Las Vegas," said Greg.
"Hang on a moment." The Doctor paused. "Yes!" he cried. "The Tangiers. It's right outside the Tangiers."
Greg and Catherine looked at one another. For whatever reason, most of the crimes they solved in Las Vegas seemed to revolve around the Tangiers.
"So that's our night?" asked Catherine. "Hunting aliens across Las Vegas."
"Sounds like my kind of evening," said the Doctor. "Allons-y!"
They found the ten creatures gathered around the second clue, a dead body already in their hands. Catherine found the aliens a bit disturbing. They looked a little like a children's stuffed animal come to life—big fluffy heads, large beady eyes, round squishy bodies. Except, of course, that they were carrying the kind of weapon you never wanted to lay eyes upon. Greg had described it as the "swiss army knife of weapons", and Catherine couldn't help but feel this was a fairly accurate description.
"That place you found my Tardis when I first landed here in 2008," said the Doctor. "Remember? That's the second clue."
As they drove off towards the next clue, Greg asked the Doctor, "Won't they just catch up with us while we're there and kill us off?"
"Nah," said the Doctor. "Probably take them a while to work it all out. Plenty of time to spring our trap."
"Trap?" asked Catherine. "What trap?"
"Oh, didn't I tell you?" asked the Doctor, in an innocent voice. "I've worked out a plan."
The plan mainly involved transporting the dead body they'd found at the first clue to the third clue. When they arrived, they arranged the body below the message just the way they had seen it before—with its hand pointing up at the words on the wall.
"I have no idea what this is supposed to do," said Catherine.
"Very proud race, the Verinax," the Doctor explained. "They have one rule at birthday parties—no one upstages the birthday boy."
Catherine began to realize where the Doctor was headed with this line of reasoning. "You mean, they'll see this body, and think that someone has gone on ahead and started solving the clues on their own."
"Oh, yes!" cried the Doctor.
But before he could continue, Catherine heard the chattering of Verinaxian voices approaching. She shushed the Doctor, grabbed Greg's arm and dragged him behind a nearby dumpster.
The Verinax party approached with cheerful voices, but the moment they saw the body, they stopped. The Verinax at the front—the birthday boy, Catherine figured—looked mortified. He turned on his fellow party-goers, and started growling something angry sounding at them. The other party-goers, naturally, growled back. Pretty soon, it was a full blown argument, and they'd started hitting each other and punching each other and occasionally shooting at one another with weapons. No one was seriously hurt, but it was obvious even to Catherine that the party was over. The whole thing began to fall apart, with Verinax stomping off in different directions, in a complete huff.
When they had gone, Catherine and Greg snuck out from their hiding spot to make sure the coast was clear. "You don't think each of them is going to go out and kill one tenth of the population of Las Vegas?" asked Greg.
"Course not," said the Doctor. "You heard them. Party's over. Time to go home."
Greg looked over at Catherine, who just shrugged. She hadn't understood them either.
"You know, even for Las Vegas," said Greg, "this was a weird night."