I don't think I've updated a fic this quickly in…well…a long time. The bunny for this one seems to have six-inch long barbed metal spikes instead of teeth. If only the bunnies for my original works would bite this hard and deep.
Just a note, BBC…pictures of Tom Baker in nothing but the scarf are also acceptable. Call me.
The humans were planning again.
"We know the lab in Australia has been abandoned, and we know from that reconnaissance mission that Snake Eyes and Scarlett ran last month that it's not in Destro's castle." Jaye was pacing. "We almost had it in Africa four months back, but it was gone when we got there and we've not heard a peep. He could be anywhere. We've been trying to gather intel for months, but there's not a whisper of him."
The Doctor, still sprawled on his jump seat, nudged a lever with the toe of his trainer and tweaked a dial.
"That machine uses a massive amount of power. I've been running checks for unusual power drain from power grids worldwide for the last four months, but there's nothing." Breaker shrugged. "I've also been tracking purchases of generators and large quantities of fuel from known Cobra subsidiaries, but nothing. I'm guessing that wherever he is, the power system is self-contained. Solar panels, probably. Possibly wind power. Or they're acquiring fuel through a source we've never heard of."
The Doctor pulled the keyboard over, typed in a string of numbers and symbols with one hand and flipped three switches.
"We've got access to satellite surveillance." Flint, who'd recovered from the shock of learning that the seemingly young alien whose spaceship time machine they were on was actually pushing a thousand, was tapping one toe. "We could look for solar panels or wind farms that aren't supposed be there."
"Couldn't he also be running it off of an internal nuclear reactor?" Covergirl was leaning against one of the coral supports.
Scarlett pursed her lips. "Possible, but unlikely. We've managed to keep Cobra from acquiring any useful amount of radioactive material so far. Because otherwise we'd be facing down nuclear warheads with Cobra Commander painted on them by now."
The Doctor tapped several icons on the display screen.
"How long would it take ya to look for solar or wind farms that ain't supposed to be there?" Beach raised his eyebrows at Breaker.
The Doctor examined the readout on the display screen.
"Depends. A couple of weeks? I can tweak one of my scanning programs…"
"He's in Siberia." The Doctor interjected. Everyone in the room, as one, turned slowly to stare at him. He grinned and spun the display screen around. "See? Right here where the little blinking dot is."
"...How in the…"
"That's incredible." Breaker looked like he was about to fall to his knees and start genuflecting.
"Not really. Just ran a simple scan for power spikes laced with vortex energy." Ooh. Condescending. That's rude. "But you were all being very clever too! All good ideas! No doubt would have found it if given enough time! So, shall we be off, then?"
"…NOW? Just like that?" Covergirl's voice had risen in pitch a couple of octaves.
"We need equipment! Communicators, weapons…don't care what you say, Doctor, we aren't going in unarmed…gear, supplies…"
The Doctor sighed. "And now I remember why I don't normally take on soldiers. You won't need the half of that. Food won't be a problem; leave that to the TARDIS, and we can always make a quick stop somewhere. And I know better than to think any of you are unarmed right now, even if you all thought you were being very clever at hiding it. Those two right there," A gesture at Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes. "Probably have enough on them to outfit the lot of you, and you won't need it anyway because we won't be killing everyone. And do you seriously think that I can't manage to whip up a basic radio if required?" He snorted. "I was building radio equipment at the age of three out of the toys in the nursery."
He jumped to his feet and started fiddling with the controls. "So, where would you like to go first? Horsehead nebula? The center of the Andromeda Galaxy? The debris fields around Cestis Twelve? Or a little closer to home? Who fancies seeing a lightning storm on Jupiter? Or the Apollo Eleven landing site?" He leaned closer to Flint. "Good old Michael Collins. Everyone always forgets him. Splendid bloke. I took him a bottle of champagne when he was on the dark side of the moon. We played squash in court six. Fantastic poker player. I still technically owe him four million dollars." He frowned. "Turns out I'm a really bad poker player when I'm drunk."
Hmm. And there were those disbelieving, blinking stares again. Rassilon, he hated starting over from scratch.
"Don't we kind of need to, you know, go stop Destro from killing us as babies?" Covergirl ventured.
"Time machine! We've got plenty of time to deal with that, and honestly what kind of a first trip is a quick hop over to Siberia? We need something brilliant to start off. I know just the thing!" He spun the date/time dial, entered a string of coordinates, flipped several switches, and hit a button. "And here we go!" He grinned wildly, and pulled the lever.
The TARDIS lurched as it dematerialized; Jaye yelped as she pitched into Breaker, knocking both to the floor. Beachhead just widened his stance and braced himself against the wall. Flint grabbed onto the railing. Covergirl grabbed the support column she was leaning on. Scarlett, Snake Eyes, and Storm Shadow just flexed their knees slightly, riding out the turbulence easily.
The Doctor eyed them as they rematerialized. "Ninja. Always showing off."
"Tell me about it." Beach rumbled. "The scrawny little pain-in-my-ass over there is still on KP duty for the Dinner Roll Incident last week."
Storm Shadow raised his eyebrows. "That was training. Also, Red isn't a ninja."
"I can still give you a black eye." Shana smiled sweetly at Tommy, a look that fired every alarm system in the Doctor's hindbrain. "Want me to demonstrate?"
Snake Eyes snapped his fingers for attention. *Ten dollars on Shana.*
"No bet." Breaker shook his head.
"…Right." The Doctor interrupted loudly. "Anyway." He bounded over to the doors and pulled them both open with all the theatricality he could. "Saturn! You know, there are several civilizations that use Saturn as a tourist destination. Cruise liners settle into orbit for a few days, everyone oohs and ahhs andtakes pictures, maybe go for a spin past Jupiter, and on home. Sometimes they even go past Earth. Not supposed to interfere with the locals, though. Class five planet. Zoning regulations. Mind you, that doesn't always stop them, and then I have to."
For the first time since this lot of mad, noisy humans had trooped onto his TARDIS, there was profound silence behind him. Smiling to himself, the Doctor moved aside and let them crowd around the door to stare. He always liked this bit; the wonder and awe and joy of seeing such sights for the first time. He'd seen Saturn like this a hundred times; when he saw other people seeing it for the first time, he remembered exactly how magnificent and splendid and awe-inspiring the sight really was.
"Oh, my God." Jaye whispered this at last. "Oh, my God."
He'd parked them close to the orbit of Titan. Outside the TARDIS, the massive gas giant spun in the profound velvet blackness of space, the stars burning brilliantly against the profound darkness. The planet hung there before them, a great ball of muted oranges and pinks and creams, with a few high white clouds. The rings arched away on both sides, banded in brown and white and yellow, tan and cream and orange. They could see several moons; larger dots of brilliance against the endless velvet dark. Several were full. Others were just silvery crescent slivers against the black.
"We're in space." Covergirl said this in utter wonder. "Outer. Space."
"How are we still breathing?" Tommy tentatively waved a hand outside the door.
"The TARDIS is protecting us." The Doctor leaned against the wall, tucking his hands into his pockets.
"I've seen pictures." Scarlett's eyes were round. "In books and magazines. But…"
"Nothing ever becomes real until it is experienced." The Doctor murmured.
"John Keats." Flint nodded, never taking his eyes off the planet slowly spinning before them.
"So." The Doctor sauntered back over to the control panel. "On with the mission, then?"
No one paid the slightest bit of attention to him. The Doctor's grin widened, and he leaned against the console, looking out the door over the heads of the little group.
"Is it all like this?" Breaker asked at last.
"Oh, yes." The Doctor smiled. "Terrible sometimes. Terrifying, on occasion. But always marvelous." Unseen, he slipped the Sonic Screwdriver out of his pocket, aimed it at the tall menacing ninja in black, and did a quick medscan.
He examined the readings and raised his eyebrows. He swiveled the display screen over, slid the keypad closer to himself, and typed for a few seconds. When the full medscan readout popped up on the screen, his eyebrows climbed a bit further.
"Oooh." He muttered under his breath. "That must have hurt."
Burn scars over eighty percent of the left half of the face; lesser but still significant scarring on the right side. The damage continued down to his collarbones; whatever fire had caused the damage, his scalp and the skin below his neck must have been protected. Probably by a helmet and body armor. The vocal cords were almost entirely gone, and what was left was twisted by scar tissue.
The TARDIS had a medbay, but it wasn't set up to handle anything like this. Had the injuries been new, there were ways to stimulate the tissue to heal quickly and without scarring, but this…the medscan judged the injury to be older than five years…this he couldn't do anything for. He shook his head and closed the medscan. A Time Lord suffering such injuries would have lapsed into a healing coma to repair the damage. For a human…the recovery must have been excruciating. The Doctor eyed Snake Eyes with a new measure of respect. He's a strong man, to have endured that. Not all could.
"So!" He shoved his hands in his pockets and bounced on the balls of his feet. "Ready to go save your own lives now, or do you want to gawk a bit longer? If you really want a sight, there's an electrical storm in the Orion nebula right now, a storm a billion times the size of your earth in a cloud of gas surrounding a baby star. Or we could go see the Cygnus Omega system! Seven stars, with one planet. Most complicated orbit you'll ever see. It's made generations of astrophysics students cry when their professors set them to reduce the orbit to orbital mechanics equations. I should know. I was one of them."
Beach reluctantly tore his eyes away from the splendid view. "Ah don't particularly like the idea of my ma trying to protect little baby me from some jackass Cobra troops. Best go take care of that."
"Well then." The Doctor started flipping switches and adjusting the destination coordinates. "Off to Siberia! Oh…best close the door. Really don't want those open in the Time Vortex. You think being carsick is bad, you've never travelled the Time Vortex without protection."