Hey! Where'd all this plot come from? WHY ARE YOU IN MY CRACKFIC, PLOT?
BBC; My offer still stands. I would also accept photos of Christopher Eccelson in nothing but Doc Martins and a grin as payment. He needs to be holding a Sonic Screwdriver. That part should go without saying.
This is a really bad idea, and you know it.
Shut up, the Doctor sternly instructed the little voice far back in his mind. For some reason in this incarnation, whenever he was arguing with himself the dissenting opinion always appeared as his previous body, all ears and nose, northern accent and leather jacket, arms crossed and eyebrows raised.
They're soldiers. You could do this far better alone. They'll just muck things up and get hurt, or you'll get attached, and THEN they'll get hurt, and it will be all your fault.
Shut up. You should understand. I've been alone for…oh, too long. They've all gone on. All of them. Martha. Donna. And Rose…Rose has what she's always wanted. A life with me. I'm alone again, and you know what that feels like. And when there are people around, being loud and stupid and brilliant and HUMAN, it hurts less. You know that. And this lot…there are so many, and they're so human, and so very, very loud. Maybe they can drown out all the other things, for a little bit. Maybe I can forget how they move on, and leave me behind, and I'm left as I was before, so lonely, with just a little bit more pain to carry.
This is still a bad idea. It could all go so wrong.
Or it could be brilliant.
The group…the Doctor couldn't decide if their name was brilliant irony or simply unimaginative…G.I. Joe? Really?...were chattering to each other, busily laying plans in that triple-contingency, ironclad, foolproof, guaranteed to go belly-up within twenty seconds of actual contact with the enemy way that seemed to be a characteristic of every military ever. The Doctor listened with half an ear, picking out bits of information that might be important and filing them away for later reference.
Three couples. The clever couple, the poets. The mechanic and the big smelly clever one…and that's why she wanted to come, not because she thought that there would be engines to fix. She wanted to be with him. And the ninja and the redhead. The ninja…he doesn't talk. Always masked. Can't talk. Injury? Yes. The computer genius; so clever, so far ahead of his time, yet he's here, in a job that could kill him. The other ninja, Tomisaburo's son…pain there, lots of pain, not just his parents dying. Something's happened to him, something that's still hurting.
Destro. Lives in Scotland, but hops all over the place to stay hidden. Clever, that. Built a time machine…a year ago? He's brilliant, utter genius to have managed it. Took them all back in time. Found their way back. Clever little humans. He thought time was fixed…something kept interfering. 'Course something did; me. Ha! Oh, I'm VERY good. Then he disappeared with the machine, nothing since. Oooh, and he's clever, and he's a scientist. First trip goes wrong, he'll step back and run tests. All sorts of tests. And tinker. It's what I'd do. Well, I'd tinker and then jump in feet first, but that's me. But he'll figure it out, that Time is in flux and can be changed. He's a clever man.
Need to find out when he sent people, and where. Need to find out what he's planning. Need to stop his time travelling meddlers, and then stop him. I'd say shouldn't be hard, but last time I said that I ended up plugging my brain into the core of a living planet to reboot its memory. Won that bet, though. Ha.
Anyways…Cobra. Mad, the lot of them. Mad and dangerous. Just the sort of people I usually run up against. Why've I never fought them?
He eyed the humans around him, all fierce and stubborn and brave, all so obviously willing to do anything, even if they didn't know what anything entailed. All of them willing to die for their cause, all willing to die for their country and what they felt was right, but all of them clinging and fighting so fiercely to hang onto their mad, short, brilliant lives. Maybe because I've never needed to. Oh, clever little brave, brilliant humans, perhaps I misjudged you. So why do I am I here now? Unless there's more here than just a mad genius.
"TIMBER!" The red-haired woman named Scarlett yelled suddenly, shaking the Doctor out of his reverie. A very large gray wolf, lifting his leg against the side of the TARDIS, started and looked guilty."NO! Bad! Bad Wolf!"
His hearts skipped a beat, and Time seemed to freeze around him, just for a moment, tinged with threads of gold. Bad Wolf.
The Doctor spun to face Scarlett. "Why did you say that?"
She blinked. "Because he was…"
"But why did you use those words?"
"I don't know…because he's a wolf and he's being bad? Why? What's wrong?"
I spread the words through time and space, to lead myself to myself.
"Nothing." He turned away. "It's nothing. Anyway! Here we go, the TARDIS." He unlocked the door and flung it open. "And yes, it is bigger on the inside."
Alvin Kibbey, better known as "Breaker" "You'd best stop popping that gum or else" or "I swear to God, I didn't do anything, it just stopped working, please fix it you can fix it right?" was the undisputed IT god of the Pit. His ability to take a computer that had been utterly fried beyond all hope of repair (damage that usually turned out to be rooted in user error) and somehow nurse it and baby it and possibly perform ancient black magic rituals until he managed to salvage important data made him absolutely indispensable, and he knew it.
Breaker could take a pile of random electronic parts and a soldering iron and end up with a fully operational, ten-years-ahead-of-it's-time CCTV security system that was backed up on compact laser discs instead of bulky, error-prone videocassettes. He could take thirty dollars worth of parts from Radio Shack and rig up a nigh-undetectable audio surveillance system. He'd written his own hacking programs that could finagle him access into almost any system ever built, and had an uncanny knack for guessing passwords that almost always let him get into a system that his access programs couldn't. Had he not enlisted in the army, he probably would have been a multimillionaire simply from patenting a few of his programs and systems.
But that wasn't the point; the point was helping his country and making a difference. He didn't need millions of dollars. He just needed enough to live on, though he had invested in a few new ideas such as lithium-ion batteries and a new company called Apple. It never hurt to plan for retirement, after all.
Breaker was, without a doubt, one of the foremost experts on computer engineering and electrical communication technology on the planet. He knew this very well, and ruled the IT and communications departments in the Pit with an iron fist.
And, right now, standing in the machine called the TARDIS, he felt like a caveman looking at a jet engine. Someone had once said that true wisdom came from knowing you knew nothing. Breaker knew enough about technology to know that what he was looking at now was so far beyond anything humans had ever invented that the caveman analogy probably wasn't the best. A better one would be a chimpanzee looking at a jet engine, and maybe wondering if any part of it would be good to eat.
"Oh, my God." He muttered under his breath. "Oh, my God."
He reached out and touched the console almost hesitantly, and with the same sort of respectful awe that someone might show before, say, the Shroud of Turin or a cutting of the tree that Buddha reached enlightenment under. The Doctor, sprawled in the battered jump seat by the console, all arms, legs, wild hair and lanky height, his sneakers propped up on the console, seemed pleased by his reaction.
"Ten million years of Time Lord engineering." He grinned, leaned forward, and patted the console affectionately. "Most magnificent ship in the universe, she is."
The lights warmed slightly, and Breaker could have sworn that the humming of machinery pitched up slightly in a way that sounded almost happy.
"Oh, you know it's true." The Doctor patted the console again. "No need to be coy."
"Are you talking to it?"
"Her, not it. TARDIS' are alive." The Doctor leaned back, looking up at the ceiling. "We used to grow them by the hundreds. It takes thousands of years for a TARDIS to grow…normally…but Time Lords were patient. At the Academy the brightest students were trained as TARDIS pilots. It took decades to learn how to fly a TARDIS, graduate, and be assigned to one as a Time Agent. Boring stuff. So I sort of skipped the whole process. Snuck into a storage facility, and there she was." He ran a hand over the console again, his touch as light and affectionate as a lover. "Most beautiful thing I'd ever seen, and the door was open. So I took her."
"You stole this thing?"
"Borrowed her. I always meant to take her back. Of course, it's been seven hundred years, and I've grown rather fond of her." A shadow passed over the Doctor's mobile, usually cheerful face. "And there's no one left to return her to."
"No one left?" Jaye echoed this softly. The Doctor's eyes-and they were old, old eyes, far too old for the face they were set in-went dark and haunted for a moment; Breaker had seen that look before. It was the same look that Storm Shadow got when someone brought up Mindbender. That was the look of someone who had endured unspeakable things, who'd done unspeakable things…
"Seven hundred years?" Flint sputtered. "Seven. Hundred. Years. You're seven hundred years old?!"
And the moment was gone. The Doctor spun around, that usual manic grin back in place. "Nope! Nine hundred, actually. Well. Nine hundred and five, if you're counting."
"But…" Flint sputtered again.
Scarlett eyed the Doctor. "You can't be older than thirty five."
The Doctor's grin widened. "I moisturize. Nine hundred and five. Cross my hearts. Time Lord, me. Can live practically forever, barring accidents. And even in the event of accidents, there are ways to cheat."
"…you're nine hundred years old." Flint seemed to be stuck on this point. "Nine hundred."
"Whatever skin cream your people use, I want some of it." Covergirl was eying the central control console with much the same sort of expression that Breaker knew he was wearing.
"You're nine hundred years old."
The Doctor eyed Flint with some concern. "Somebody want to give him a jostle? I think his brain got stuck."
"He'll be fine." Jay patted Flint on the shoulder. "Just give him a minute."
"So when you were born, we were still in the eleventh century." Shana paused. "No, wait…you're a time traveler. So it wouldn't be linear, would it?"
"Oh, very good. Nasty bit of history, the eleventh century. The castles! Don't get me started on the castles. Yes yes, all impressive and scenic, but terribly damp and drafty and you'd think no one in them had ever heard of bathing. They never tell you that bit when you read the stories; "William the Conqueror, who smelled like a wet dog that died and was left in the sun for a bit too long and who only changed his shirt once a week." Just once, I want to read a history book that leaves that bit in." The Doctor grimaced. "And you couldn't find decent chips anywhere."
"…William the Conqueror." Jaye repeated this, slowly. "You've met William the Conqueror."
"I still don't know what he did with the soap I gave him." The Doctor sighed. "Probably ate it. Judging by his smell, he'd never seen a bar of it before in his life. Oi! No touching!"
Courtney, not looking at all guilty, replaced the deck panel she'd slid aside to get a better look at the machinery underneath the console.
"Right. Ground rules. Rule number one; no one touches anything unless I tell you to. No offense, but there's not a one of you lot who'd have the faintest idea what you were fiddling with. So that little voice in the back of your head that says 'oi, I bet if I took this apart I could figure it out'? That voice is not your friend. On the other hand, that is a brilliant way to figure things out, but not when it comes to my TARDIS. Understood?"
"I still dunno why you don't have laser cannons."
"Rule two; no asking why I don't have laser cannons."
Beach gave the Doctor a long, considering sort of look. "Ah'm sayin' his arms would give out by forty. Any takers?"
Snake Eyes' hands moved. *You'd just stand on his back and make sure that they did.*
"Rule three; the Doctor does not do pushups, even if he's being shouted at by loud smelly rude drill instructors. Especially not then. Never was good at taking orders." The Doctor propped his feet back up on the console. "And rule four; anyone who tries to get the Doctor to do pushups gets left behind. Rule five; anyone who waits until halfway into the adventure and then tries to make the Doctor do pushups gets left on Tygian Six until the rest of us are done saving the world." The Doctor raised his eyebrows at Beach. "They call it the 'planetoid of eternal boredom'. Located on a large asteroid. Beings of crystal with silicon brains. Natural computers. They specialize in accounting. One hundred years ago they had their most exciting day ever." He spun slightly on his jump seat, hands in his pockets, eyeing Beach over the top of his glasses. "A decimal in the price code got moved one place to the left on a shipment of six billion tons of aluminum ore."
"Ah don't like this guy." Beach grimaced.
The Doctor grinned happily and spun back the other way. "Right! Bedrooms are down that way. Just pick whatever room suits your fancy; might be a bit spare at first but the old girl rather likes spoiling guests, so don't be surprised if she redecorates a bit for you. Kitchen is down past the bedrooms. Library is that way. I'm not sure where the swimming pool went, but last time I saw it was down past the library. It might turn up, it might not. Wardrobe room is down opposite the library. Any questions?"
A pause. Then "You lost the swimming pool?" Covergirl raised her eyebrows.
"Didn't lose. Just didn't use it much, so she put it in storage. Or moved it further back. Not really sure which. She doesn't always tell me where she's stuck things."
"You lost a swimming pool. A whole swimming pool."
"…Yeah. Look. TARDIS. Time And Relative Dimensions In Space. If she sees that a room isn't needed or isn't in use, she just tucks it away until she needs it later. And if she needs a new one she just pulls one up. More efficient use of energy, see. She doesn't bother keeping rooms about that aren't used often. " The Doctor eyed the console. "She seems to particularly like moving the swimming pool around. Not really sure why."
"…That is so cool." Covergirl grinned happily. "So she can generate any room, for any person or alien or whatever and make them comfortable, and then just tuck it away in a drawer when they leave. And if they come back or you need it, hey, just pull it out again and good to go. That is so cool! I wish I had a garage that could do that. I could fit all the cars I wanted in it."
"…That's actually not a bad analogy. Oi! No touching!"
"What's this bit do?"
"I said no touching!"
Beach just grinned proudly.
*Half a world away*
The lab was dark. Destro had gone with the Baroness for dinner and wine and, in all probability, mating., Chhlll'kti, better known as James Brown, Viper Number 24, squad 111, had thought he'd never leave. Destro had the irritating habit of working far into the night whenever he had a project going.
He dialed the stolen clearance code into the laboratory keypad and the door slid open. He padded through, shut the door, and triggered his shimmer field with a sigh of relief.
Humans were so…soft. All soft pink skin and soft clawless fingers and these weak, useless little teeth. It was hard to see how, in a few thousand years, they'd have insinuated themselves so thoroughly into almost every corner of the galaxy. Spreading, always spreading, mingling with other species and then spreading some more, infecting every culture they touched with their…their…humanity, all soft and trilling of exploration and progress, weak words, words that proper empire-builders saw for the weakness they were. And yet, those same soft little humans could become so prickly when threatened, as Thillani-kind had discovered when they'd attacked the soft little apes. And, for the first time in four million years of ruthless military expansion, they had lost.
Lost, to a race with no natural weapons, a race who'd taken to the stars not to seek honor and glory in battle, but just because it was there. It was a humiliation that could not stand. The Thillani-kind had fought back, had tried to go back and sterilize the human threat before it could spread. But they'd be stopped, defeated by the rogue Time Agent, the one they'd kill a thousand times but who would not die, by the Travelling Man, the strange man with the box, and by the yellow girl, the Travelling Man's Woman.
He clacked his mandibles in rage. The Travelling Man, the Man Who Would Not Die, and the Travelling Man's Woman. They'd broken the mighty army of the Thillani-kind, had thrown them back to their own time and destroyed the time-ships, but they hadn't been quite thorough enough. Some of the great time-ships had been powered down for repair on the ship-docks of their homeworld's moon, and they'd survived the cataclysm. Six time-ships had survived, and now they orbited in this backwater system, sun-side of the tiny inner planet, invisible against the massive nuclear fire that was the star designated Sol. They were relying on massive energy shields to keep them from burning in the heat of the star, which, conveniently enough, were powered by massive solar panels. A perfect, elegant system.
This wasn't just destroying an enemy before they could become an enemy, not any longer. This was revenge. This was for honor. Failure was unthinkable.
Earth. The world of the Travelling Man, the Man Who Would Not Die, and the yellow girl, the Travelling Man's Woman. And it would burn.
What's more, it would burn at the hands of its own children. Chhll'kti had found the perfect instrument of the Earth's destruction; an organization of madmen, who wanted everything for their own, and who were not afraid to take it with fire and blood and iron. Under other circumstances he might have admired their goals, but they were human, and therefore the enemy. So he'd infiltrated, given the right little push here and here, and sent back regular reports to his commanders.
He examined the time machine quickly, and chirruped to himself, pleased. Destro was coming along better than he'd anticipated. For a race so stupid, humans did produce the occasional genius. He detached a small metal oval from his belt and quickly recorded an image of the machine to send to his commander, and clicked and chirruped a message.
"The human is nearly finished. Plan on schedule. He will dispatch time agents within a day to kill his enemies. Recommend aiding this venture; the humans designated G.I. Joe are potentially problematic. Then we can proceed. No sign of the Travelling Man."
Message transmitted, he triggered his shimmer field, grimacing as it smoothed and softened his features back into the flat, formless little face of a human. He'd be glad when this was over.