"Have you gotten them?" The war god, Nafanua, although proud and strong, kept well hidden behind his boulders. He was a god, but he was defying one of his brother gods, one who had a notoriously short temper.
"Yes and they are more precious than pearls, I'm told." Losi dropped his burden to the ground. The bag writhed, heaved and created a huge racket. He looked around, hoping the pounding surf drowned out the noise.
"They are noisy pearls." Nafanua studied at the sky. This island was far from the other, but not far enough in his considered opinion.
Tuli was not a god to annoy and they had just stolen a dozen of his finest and most loved birds for a feast to honor Tagaloa, the mighty God of Gods. Had they asked, Tuli might have just handed some over, but he wasn't known for his generosity. He would be selfish and surrender only a few birds and they would be sure to be skinny and old, not the succulent feast they now had.
It was only right that all the gods should share some of the delicious bird flesh for themselves. When it was steamed with coconut milk, it was indeed a feast worthy of the gods. And, after all, they were gods.
A bolt of lightning lit up the sky and a bush beside Nafanua exploded into flames.
Losi drew a breath. "I think he's noticed and I don't think he's happy about it." The tree to his left lit up like a giant torch. "Really really not happy."
Thus began the Great SamoanChicken War.
A three piece suit was not exactly the sort of outfit one would wear to a tropical island paradise, but Steel didn't very much care. The last time he visited such a place, he'd had his being re-forged down to his basic molecular pattern. That wasn't going to happen again. This suit signified his armor, his protection.
What are you afraid of, Steel?
He cast an eye over at his companion. Usually blonde, now her hair was jet black and festooned with flowers. Jet, the word alone made him uncomfortable, almost as uncomfortable as Sapphire's attire did. She wore a skirt, tied about her waist and nothing more. Her skin tone had darkened until her skin shone like bronze in the sun. A more unlikely pair you would never see.
"I am afraid of nothing, Sapphire." He said it out loud as if to give the words more strength. She merely smiled at him and he sighed inwardly. "Where are we, Sapphire?"
"American Samoa, although currently it's referred to Manu'a, as the United States won't exist as a country for a few hundred centuries yet."
"And why are we here?"
I don't know.
What? You were briefed or so I was led to believe.
That's the thing. They said there is a Time anomaly here and I am sensing nothing.
Nothing? Could it have straightened itself out before our arrival?
Sapphire laughed, a bright, mirth-filled laugh, and Steel scowled at her. He hated it when she laughed at his expense.
When have you ever known our old enemy to correct itself?
She had a point, but he refused to concede it to her; it was against his very nature to concede anything, even to her.
"Then why are we here? If there is no Time anomaly, why are we here, Sapphire?" He felt a thunk between his shoulder blades and turned. There had been a brief moment of pain, as if he'd been stung by a bee, but he heard no buzzing.
He turned and faced a man. He was holding a spear, the brother of the one that lay, splintered in two, at Steel's feet. There was a brightly colored bird perched on the stranger's shoulder and it flapped its wings defiantly at Steel.
The stranger was wearing a wrap of cloth similar to Sapphire's, with numerous necklaces of beads and shells around his neck and shoulders. His long dark hair was pulled back and tied with some sort of cord.
"Who are you?" The man's voice quavered slightly, but there was still a sense of defiance to him. "What are you that you break my spear? You who dress so strangely? Are you a god?"
You should always answer that question in the affirmative. He could hear Sapphire's laugh in her thoughts.
"Take me to your chieftain."
The man had recovered his bravado and pounded his chest proudly. "I am the chieftain here."
"And you might be?" Sapphire asked, extended her hand.
"I am Tule, the God of all birds." His eyes narrowed. "Who are you, mere woman, that you dare speak to a God?"
"You'll be sorry you said that," Steel muttered. Sapphire smiled and placed a hand upon his shoulder. Steel's clothes suddenly shifted and were instantly replaced with a wrap similar to Tule's. Must I? The loin cloth is very uncomfortable.
You must if you want to be taken seriously.
Tule had recovered his aplomb and scowled at her as she faced him and said, "I am Sapphire; this is Steel."
"Odd names; they mean nothing to me. You mean nothing to me."
"They will." Steel bent to pick up the spear. It must have struck him and shattered upon impact. There was very little that could penetrate either Element's skin. As long as she stayed in his protective range she remained almost as impervious to damage as he was. Small comfort at the moment. "Why did you throw this at me?"
"I am at war." He shook his fist at the sky. "I thought you were one of them coming to take more of my flock."
"Believe me when I say that we have no interest in any of your flock." Steel waved a bird away as it hovered, insect like, before him, studying him. "Is there anyone else here we might speak with?"
"No, this is my island! I command the land and the sea and the sky!" Tule lifted his arms and great bolts of lightning erupted from his fingertips and shot into the sky. "I protect all that flies!"
There was a suddenly blackening of the sky not above his head and then abruptly a shape appeared. It slammed into the ground with great force and sent up clouds of dust and a shower of debris upon impact.
Steel unconsciously took a protective step closer to Sapphire as they coughed and waved their hands to clear away the dust from their faces.
I don't believe it! She mentally gasped as she took a step closer to the fallen object. She turned back to Steel, exciting lighting up her currently dark brown eyes.
Don't you know what that is?"
A blue call box?
Not just a call box, Steel, a police call box. It's him. It's the Doctor.
Doctor? Doctor who?
ALL IRREGULARITIES WILL BE HANDLED BY THE FORCES CONTROLLING EACH DIMENSION. TRANSURANIC HEAVY METAL MAY NOT BY USED WHERE THERE IS LIFE. MEDIUM ATOMIC WEIGHTS ARE AVAILABLE: GOLD, LEAD, COPPER, JET, DIAMOND, RADIUM, SAPPHIRE, SILVER AND STEEL. SAPPHIRE AND STEEL HAVE BEEN ASSIGNED
The door opened and man struggled out, clinging onto the doorframe for support. He was tall and lanky, with a wild mass of dark brown hair. He was wearing a suit and a long brown top coat. "What?" he demanded of no one in particular. He looked around. "What?" and then spotted them. "What?"
Of a sort, but not exactly. He's from Gallifrey.
Nonsense, that's a story they told us as youngsters to frighten us and make us pay attention to our lessons.
No, you are looking at the last of his kind, Steel.
Sapphire, there's no such thing as a Time Lord.
"I'm afraid she's right, sailor. Love your skirt, by the way." The man was busy looking over the blue box as if scanning for damage. "Nice knees."
Steel started for a moment when he realized the man had read his thoughts. He glared as the stranger spun and pointed a long thin pen-like tube at him It hummed and the stranger shook it.
He's not the same one that I met. They don't die, Steel, they merely regenerate. "Which generation are you, please?"
"Ten, and neither of you are human, well, not entirely, well, sort of but, not… Sapphire!" The Doctor broke off and his grin grew even larger. He took a step forward to embrace her and then his gaze dropped and he hesitated. "I didn't recognize your…" His eyes stopped at her breasts and abruptly The Doctor spun to face Tule. "And neither are you, but you accessorize well."
The island rocked and seemed to shift. The wind started to rage and waves crashed mightily against the rocks, sending up columns of water. Above their heads the clouds darkened and swirled angrily.
"You think you can scare me by dropping garbage on me?" Tule shouted at Steel and the heavens raged back.
"Oi, not garbage! She's the last of her kind – a little respect if you please!" The Doctor protested. The ground in front of him heaved and he flailed his arms to keep his balance.
A sharp gale of wind caught Sapphire, pushing her, stumbling, backwards and Steel caught her, steadying Sapphire as he pulled her close protectively.
I've got you.
But who has you, Steel? Sapphire asked as even Steel was forced a step back as he fought the wind.
Tule shouted and lightning erupted from his fingers, hitting and exploding against clouds that raged back at him.
Suddenly there were strong lean arms clutching both of them, tugging them urgently. A sense of wellbeing suffused Steel even as The Doctor shouted, "Into the TARDIS, I think."
An earth-trembling moment later, they stood inside the small box. Both Elements looked around, curious, as the Doctor raced to a console and began pushing buttons and cranking dials.
"I've heard tell that these are as individual as the one who pilots them."
"I've remodeled a time of two." The Doctor reached up with a leg a kicked a lever up.
Steel shook his head. "I've heard of these holding boxes, but I thought they are the stuff nightmares were made of."
"Depends upon your point of view, I suppose, but I wouldn't go so far as to say that. More of a problem –"
"You are the problem, Doctor," Steel snapped.
"He's a fun guy, isn't he? I see why you keep him around" The Doctor said to Sapphire. As they had stepped through the TARDIS door, their clothes had reverted back to their normal choices, a blue dress for Sapphire, a steel blue three piece for Steel. "Although I have to admit that I much prefer the other outfit, for atheistic reasons only, mind you. So, tell me, Mr. Subtlety, why am I the problem?"
Sapphire crossed her arms and leveled a blue-eye stare at him. "Thank you, Doctor, but I'm afraid Steel is right. Why are you here?"
"I'm not, at least not on purpose. I was headed to the Debentuan star cluster and, suddenly-" He spread wide his arms. "- here I am. Something snatched the TARDIS and dragged me down. I'm not here because I wanted to be. I had a hot date lined up with a super nova."
"Don't you usually travel with a Companion?" Sapphire's tone softened and Steel sighed. That was Sapphire, one giant empathetic sponge.
"I'm… ah…companionless these days. It's better that way." The Doctor's face grew somber and his eyes sad.
Steel looked away quickly. That was the way he'd looked before he was teamed with Sap… Focus!
Sapphire looked sharply at him and then her expression grew warm and her smile radiant. Thank you
Steel looked at her as if he has no idea what she was on about and turned to the Doctor. "Why are you here, Time Lord?" he shouted abruptly, angry that he'd been made to feel weak, if only momentarily. Now his mood was hard as his name.
"I don't know!" The Doctor shouted back. He rushed to something that looked like a mishmash of poorly assembled equipment. He pounded on the console and manipulated half a dozen buttons, levers, and something that looked suspiciously like a toaster. "I shouldn't be here!" The TARDIS shuddered. "Neither of us should be." He stroked the panel lovingly. "I wasn't even in this galaxy."
"I believe we just found your Time anomaly, Sapphire." Steel looked over at his partner and she nodded.
"I agree, but what is to be done about it?"
"Well, since our friend outside doesn't seem to want to talk reason, let's have a discussion with the party that started all of this?" The Doctor shoved up a level and the TARDIS groaned, shuddered, and fell silent. "What? No! That's not right!" The Doctor was suddenly a flurry of activity as before.
"What's wrong?" Steel came up to stand beside him, reaching out to steady himself. Steel touched the console and nearly jumped. He swore he could feel the TARDIS breathe beneath his hand as images exploded into his brain. It was not the thrum of mechanics, but a breath, as real as one he would take and as alive as he was. Steel looked up and saw The Doctor watching him.
"You can feel her, can't you?" The Doctor asked quietly. Steel nodded. "You're lucky."
"Not a machine?"
"No more than you. She's very much like you in that way. Living and breathing metal, capable of great things." The Doctor's voice was now just a whisper. "Capable of great love."
"Yes." Steel removed his hand and closed his eyes against the images that had assaulted his consciousness. "What's wrong with her?" he repeated.
"I don't know. We should be moving, but something must be wrong… but what?" The Doctor spun, fell to his knees and pulled up a section of grid work. Within a hair's breadth, he was on his stomach and rummaging around beneath and out of sight. A moment after that, he disappeared entirely into the belly of the ship.
Can we safely teleport out of here?
"No, you don't want to leave now when things are just getting interesting." The Doctor's voice was slightly muffled and his head popped back up. "Won't be a tick." He disappeared again.
"Isn't a tick something that lives off the blood of others? What an appropriate definition of a Doctor," Steel snapped, his mood of a previous moment broken.
"Ah, that isn't nice. I liked that other chap better, Sapphire. You know the sort of ginger one you used to be with? He certainly liked Jack."
Who? Steel demanded, looking at her.
It doesn't matter—
Who? He cut her off sharply, more sharply than he meant to.
Silver, he's referring to Silver. We met the Doctor before at a broken link in Time. He helped us re-forge it.
"It really is impolite to think in the presence of others, you know." The Doctor's tone was slightly chastising.
"But obviously not as much of a problem for you as it might be for others." Steel took a step back as the Doctor reappeared with two pieces of a linkage, one in each hand.
"Aw, now you are just being mean. I need to figure out a way to weld these two bits together and we'll be on our way."
"Steel…" Her voice was gentle, encouraging.
"No, Sapphire, absolutely not. That would be interfering with another culture."
"It's not interference. You are merely ensuring our survival."
"No, Sapphire." Steel tried to sound stern, but even he knew he was their best hope. He sighed and held out his hand. He was annoyed and slightly amazed at the power she held over him. "Give it to me."
The Doctor turned, holding the bits protectively to his chest as if he was a reticent child and the linkage was a much-loved toy. After a moment, he, too, sighed and he sullenly relinquished the linkage to Steel.
Steel turned away and examined the assembly in the light of the console. It was both simplistic and yet advanced, too advanced for an Earthling, no matter the time frame. Perhaps Sapphire had been correct, but a Time Lord? He shook his head to clear it and focused upon the pieces in his hands.
Metal to metal, atom to atom, he drew his energy inward to realign the molecules until he was able to join them. Then it was merely a matter of crimping them together. It took more energy and effort than he usually had to muster, but in the end, he was triumphant over the metal.
"Try this." He handed it back and let one corner of his mouth creep up into a self-satisfied smirk.
"How did you…? The Doctor turned the linkage over in his hands. "That's pure Hydroxilated Testem from the Borlack region. You shouldn't have been able to –"
"It is repaired, sir.…" The TARDIS shuddered under another attack. "Now get us out of here!"
"Nonsense, she'll be fine. She can withstand…" A shower of sparks rained down upon him and he looked around wildly. "Let's say we get out of here." The TARDIS groaned to life and took rocky flight.
"Marvelous," Steel muttered and then caught Sapphire's eye. She was smiling at him in a most patronizing way. "What?"
You acting like a jealous suitor, Steel, I should think you would know me better than that.
I have no idea what you are talking about, Sapphire. I merely fixed his broken whatever it was to permit us—
Yes, Steel. The tone was slightly patronizing, but the accompanying smile was genuine.
The TARDIS came to an abrupt stop and Steel reached out to steady the two of them.
"Wait here just until I have a look round." The Doctor opened the door to the vehicle, and cautiously looked left then right, then left again.
"Are you afraid of street traffic, Doctor?" Steel pushed past him and was promptly struck with a heavy club. Steel staggered from the blow and fell to his knees, more from surprise than injury.
"Rather that." The Doctor fumbled on a pair of glasses.
Sapphire gasped. "Are you all right?"
Steel stood slowly, his eyes very angry. He seized the club and easily broke it into two pieces, tossing each in opposite directions. "Why do they keep hitting me with things?"
"You're a tempting target, all gray and such?" The Doctor was scanning again with his tube.
"I would very much prefer you refrain from pointing that instrument of yours at me or it will go the direction of that club," Steel snapped and turned to face the club-wielding man. "As for you, - talk NOW!"
The man appeared terrified and Sapphire swept forward, her attire once again just the parau. "We would very much like to help you, but we need to understand what has happened."
"I would guess that has happened." The Doctor touched her arm and pointed at the sky. Above their heads, a whirling mass of clouds and darkness spun.
"Is it a cyclone?"
"No." Sapphire's eyes grew very blue and her voice became mechanical. "Mass is falling in on itself as the gravitational pull becomes greater. As matter becomes compressed, no light will be allowed to escape. Projected density will equal ten suns; the radius is about nineteen miles, which translates into a critical circumference of one hundred and eighteen miles." Her eyes and voice became more normal. "We have a bit of a problem..."
"But that means…" Steel started.
"We are seeing the birth of a black hole in Earth's sky. But how?" The Doctor looked from her to the debris-sucking clouds and back.
"We were told of a Time anomaly here." Sapphire exchanged a knowingly look with Steel. "You, Doctor, you must have been the catalyst. When Tule reacted to your arrival, it must have added the last missing element. This planet is collapsing into itself."
"How do we stop it?" Steel dodged as a clump of brush swept by and up.
"You can't," The Doctor muttered, aiming his sonic screwdriver at the sky. "Nothing can stop them once they start."
"We can," Steel muttered as he turned to the gathering men. "What started this war?"
One young man stepped forward, "I did. I… we stole some of Tule's birds. We were having a celebration and needed-"
"Why didn't you simply ask him politely?" Sapphire interrupted him, her head cocked to one side.
"You don't know Tule. We didn't think –"
"That he would be angry? That he wouldn't retaliate? Are you an idiot as well as a thief?" Steel snapped. "What will mollify him?"
"I don't know." The stranger looked from them to the sky and back. "He doesn't have a sensible side once he gets going like this."
Sapphire shook her head and sighed. "What would satisfy you?" She asked the man in return.
"For him to stop trying to kill us."
Steel, one of us needs to return with the Doctor to Tule and talk to him. Find what will appease him.
Are you sure it's our only option?"
The wind was increasing and small object was carried skyward.
"We don't have much time." The Doctor looked from one to the other. "If you can stop this, you need do it now."
Steel looked at her and nodded. "Go."
"I think you had better go instead, Steel." Away from you, I do not have the same level of protection. Here I am still safe.
"I don't…" A tree exploded into fragments and he nodded. "Doctor, are you ready?"
Tule was pacing, more worried than angry. "What do you mean, what would please me? For them not to steal from me. Why do they steal from me?" Tule's gaze going from one to the other. "Is that too much to ask?"
"No," The Doctor said, gently. "Every man has to know that he is safe and his home safe from threat."
"I would gladly have given them, but these birds are my children."
"And your children are being sucked up as feathery appetizers, Tule!" The Doctor watched as a flock of birds were dragged into the black whirling mass in the sky. "If we don't stop this now, there won't be anything left of this planet, much less you or your enemies."
"What of real children? Your human children, don't you want to protect them?" Steel looked into the nearby bushes to see if he detected any other humans lurking in the shadows. They were a cowardly race as a whole.
"I have none – there are no women here, only me and the birds."
"Then, Tule, the ball, as they say, is in your court." Then The Doctor smiled, a bright, I know something you don't smile and Steel scowled. "I know exactly what you need."
A woman, Steel, are you sure?
The Doctor is, although delivering a woman into a life of servitude doesn't appeal to me. Yet, The Doctor insists that it's what Tule needs. He wants a mate. Steel made a face and shook his head. "The world is ending and he wants to procreate."
"It's a powerful urge, even for gods." The Doctor murmured as he returned from his discussion with the other gods. "I might even add for Elements as well." Sapphire's cheeks pinked prettily and The Doctor returned his gaze to the men. "However, I don't see anything ladylike over there though."
"You won't know until you ask." Sapphire approached the warrior god. "Those are his conditions. Are you willing to comply?"
The group closed ranks, murmured softly even as dirt and leaves were carried skyward. "Yes, we are willing. Nafanua, your daughter? Will she?"
"She will do as she is commanded."
"So much for romance." The Doctor's coattails flapped in the wind. "They'd better hurry."
A young woman was brought forward. She was dressed very much like Sapphire. Her dark eyes were very large and very scared, yet there was a sense of strength and pride to her bearing.
"Ila, my daughter…" Nafanua drew the girl close to him. "We ask you to do this to save our world."
She pulled away from him slightly. "I know my duty, my father. I go willingly and with a calm heart."
The Doctor gestured to the TARDIS. "Madame, your chariot awaits."
He ran a hand through his thick, permanently mussed hair. "Sorry, wrong century."
"Give or take a few thousand years," Sapphire said. She moved to Nafanua's side and placed a long-fingered hand on his arm. "We will take care of her. He will take care of her."
"Then go and bring peace back with you."
They stepped out of the TARDIS and Tule spun, his weapon raised. He lowered it as he beheld the woman, his mouth slightly ajar.
"I am Ila, your wife." The young woman walked forward and held out her hands. "Take me and let us bring peace to our islands."
"You are so lovely," Tule whispered, stroking her hair and Ila blushed. "I have never seen anything so wonderful in all my life."
"There's your romance, Doctor. Love at first sight."
"And I think it's time for us to let Nature take its course and leave." The Doctor looked up, grimacing, at the sky.
"Not us, Doctor, you." Steel pointed to the TARDIS. "Take your machine and go now. We will complete our assignment here."
"But the Black Hole..."
"Will be attended to, but it can't be done while you are still here. Go." Steel pointed towards the TARDIS.
"He's quite the charmer, isn't he?" The Doctor asked Sapphire. She let her sight drift from the two humans as they joined hands and drifted away, blissfully ignorant of the storm that raged above their heads.
"He has his moments, but he is right. Now it is time for you to take your leave of us."
"Sapphire, a pleasure, as always."
"Doctor." Her eyes glowed and she smiled as her clothing assumed a more traditional outfit. "There is someone for everyone, Doctor, even you. Keep searching; it is well worth the effort. You will find her and your heart will sing again."
He hugged her briefly and then turned to her solemn partner. "Steel, I'd say it's been a pleasure, but…"
"We'd both be lying. I can read your mind as well, Man from Gallifrey. Go!"
"Alright, alright, I can take a hint! I still liked the ginger one better." He climbed into the TARDIS and it groaned to life. As it faded from view, the wind began to lessen and the clouds began to drift apart.
This is as it is supposed to be. Sapphire thought as she watched the couple move out of view. According to Samoan legend, the God Tule fell instantly in love with Ila and she him. He changed his name to Atu and became the islands' version of Adam to Ila's Eve.
Above them the skies began to calm, the wind to lessen. Within another minute, clouds had parted and the sun peeked through.
And the great chicken dispute?
Plagues this island to this very day. They are overrun with chickens and have implemented an eradication program to rid themselves of excessive chickens.
Not always as pleasant as it might be.
And the Doctor?
He is as he is to be. The last of his kind.
But he exists? Truly exists, Sapphire? Not a legend, but as a real being?
Oh, yes, and a greater protector this world will never know.
Steel snorted. He very nearly destroyed it. We saved it.
Yes, but that wasn't his fault. He just likes to watch. And, no, we didn't save it. Ila saved it. We merely facilitated the match. The couple had dropped to their knees, speaking now with their bodies instead of words, ignorant that they had an audience watching their every move.
Steel offered her his hand. "Perhaps, but I, on the other hand, prefer privacy."
With that, they faded from view.