It really was a lovely day for a run. The sun was high and bright in the sky. Clouds filtered the light, though, and the air was cool. There was even, she thought, a hint of possible rain, there.
She had to admit that Dalatass IV was a lovely little world. Good place for a run, yes.
Mind: she would have preferred that it not involve running from something.
"Of all the days," River Song groused to herself, "to not have my blaster with me!" She slid down an embankment and cut through a grove of trees at the bottom. "But no, he said," she deepened her voice in mockery, "'and can we have one day where you don't pack an alpha meson blaster or a six-shooter?'" She went back to her normal voice, "and I said, 'of course, sweetie,' because I'm an idiot!" The last was shouted into the treetops as she continued to run. "And of course," she muttered, "we're on a planet where they have weapons detectors at every entry, because they're so peaceful."
On the other hand, at least it meant that her pursuers would be unarmed, too.
River heard the sound of something cut through the air. She threw herself into a forward roll. As she came to her feet, she saw bark explode from a tree trunk as a razor-tipped spike thudded into the wood. "Oooh," she said, "that's just... cheating!"
As she got moving again, she cast a glance back over her shoulder. There were two of them, loping along on hands and feet. One paused and rose to a semi-bipedal position. He bared his teeth in a snarl and stretched out a hand. More spikes hissed from a projector strapped to his forearm.
River dove behind a tree and heard more spikes hit the trunk: thud! Thud! Thud!
She took a careful look around the trunk. They moved forward and stared at her. She ducked back behind cover. "Now," she whispered, "I'm no specie-ist, butwhoever thought it was a good idea to uplift baboons needs a punch in the face."
River dashed off at a dead run on a zig-zag path through the trees. She heard the uplifts hurtle in pursuit. "Alright," she muttered between breaths as she ran, "what do I know about baboons? Mediocre sense of smell and hearing, but really, really good vision. Not too strong, but..." She jinked to the right and heard more spikes hit trees. "...these two have been uplifted and evolved for greater size and strength. Okay..."
By now, she had run out of breath to talk to herself, and concentrated on swallowing the air she needed to keep moving. A moment later, she heard a shriek from one of the hunters. She gave her own fierce grin as she realized she outdistanced them enough that they lost sight of her amongst the trees.
River cut left and jumped. She caught a tree limb and dragged herself up onto it, then continued to climb. Finally, she paused, high in the tree. She held herself still and took slow, shallow breaths. One chance...
The two hunters appeared from the way she had come. They moved slow; their heads turned this way and that and that made animalistic noises back and forth to each other.
Atop her perch, River took a moment to look them over with the clinical eye of a scholar. They were larger than their ancestors, and could walk comfortably upright when they chose. Clad in basic clothing—little more than tunics and trousers—they were nothing like the sort of "cute" pet monkeys that people liked to dress up for display.
One carried a stout club, no doubt broken from one of the trees. The other had that projector strapped to his arm. River wondered how they had gotten it through the detectors when they landed on-world.
As they passed beneath her, River readied herself, then dropped down onto the one with the ranged weapon. Her thick, curly hair streamed behind her and the red sundress billowed up around her hips.
He howled as she landed on him. River smashed the hunter under her weight, then leaped on the other one's back. He went down under her and she twisted his arm up behind him and wrested the club from his hand.
She came up in a spin and caught the other one with the club across the head. He had just started to rise and went down again with a yowl. Back the other way, River caught the unarmed one with a thrust in the belly. He folded. She delivered a kick to the face and turned back to grab the other one by the throat and slammed him against a tree trunk.
He grabbed at her wrist and she slammed him against the tree again. "You..." River growled. She showed him her teeth and he bared his own.
"Release me, hairless woman!" he snarled.
"Oh, I don't think so, monkey boy!" She thumped him on the skull with the club. He winced. "Now, just why are you two chasing me?"
"Bounty," he growled out. "There is a price on your head!"
"What?" she asked, surprised.
"Money, much money."
"Why would someone put a price on my head?" she asked. "I'm already in Stormcage... well," she shrugged, "more or less in Stormcage."
"Private, private bounty," the baboon said.
"The Family... Simon."
"Who? Wait, hold that thought." Without turning, River swung the club back over her shoulder. She heard a hollow thunk as it impacted the skull of the other baboon, as he came up, then the sound of him hitting the ground. "Now, you were saying?"
"Family Simon. They say you responsible for the death of Alistair Simon on starliner Byzantium. They put reward on you."
"Oh," River said, taken aback. "Well, that's understandable, I suppose." She looked speculative. "How much?"
"Ten thousand New Rigellian credits."
She glared at him and the baboon tried to jerk away. He succeeded in bouncing his head off the tree, and winced. "That's just insulting," River said, "only ten thousand? I'm worth ten times that, at least!" She dropped the baboon and reached down to pull the projector from his arm. She gestured with it and he scuttled over to his companion. "How did you get this through the security, anyway?" she asked.
"Air compressed, fiber carbon spikes with diamond tips. Not show as metal, or chemical."
"My word, that's ingenious!" River dropped the club and strapped the projector to her own forearm. "Oh, I see, the trigger is this loop around your finger? And you just lift your wrist to..."
The baboons squealed and scurried back as a trio of spikes thudded into the ground at their feet.
"Let us go, hairless woman!" one growled. "We leave you alone!"
"Oh, no, no, no," River said. She shook her head and a finger at them. "Do you have any idea what you've done? I look an utter mess... and you two!" She stalked forward, arms at her sides, and they whimpered and scampered back another meter.
"Mercy, hairless woman!"
"'Mercy,'" she asked. "Do you know who I am?"
"River Song, wanted for..."
"Ha!" River drew herself up and put her hands on her hips. "Listen to me, you little... monkey-faced assassins of joy!"
They responded with squeals of fear.
"My father is the Last Centurion. My mother is the Girl Who Waited. My husband is the last of the Time Lords, the Oncoming Storm.
"I am Professor River Song.
"And you two. Are. Ruining. My. Special. Day."
He stuck his head out of the blue box. His face was plastered with one of those endearing, dopey grins. It made him look even more the boy. "Is this the place, then?" he asked.
"Hello, sweetie." He stepped out of the box and swung the door closed. River looked him over. Same long, shaggy dark hair. Same shirt, same trousers and suspender combo, tweed jacket, ugly shoes... and the bow-tie "You're late," she told him.
He straightened the bow-tie as he walked over and sat down on the red and white checked blanket spread out on the grass. "A Time Lord is never late, nor is he early, he arrives precisely when he means to."
"No, that's wrong," she said, "you're thinking of wizards." She handed him a glass of red wine. "Beaujolais Nouveau '25?"
"Oh, thank you." He looked over the plates of cold tapas and snacks. "This is... amazing, River."
"Thank you. There was a problem with what I had planned, so I made a quick stop."
She gave him an innocent look and began to place items on a blue and white bone china plate. "The warden's private larder at Stormcage."
"Well, it looks like a lovely spread," he said.
"Oh, this is just the appetizers," she told him with a smile. "If you want to get right to the main course, we can."
He gave her the boyish grin, again. "We could skip straight to dessert..." He leaned closer. His pucker missed as she shifted to put the plate down and he fell face-first to the blanket. He came up with a chagrined expression.
"If you want dessert," River said, "we can go to that." She clapped her hands.
"I like your outfit," the Doctor said.
"Oh, thank you, sweetie! I mean, it's a bit retro, but I saw it and I just had to have it." She stretched and showed off the light-weight white sweater and blue summer dress.
"Did you get that from the warden, too?" he asked, jokingly.
"He is such a dear little man," she said with a wide smile. "I don't think the lipstick was really his color, though." River clapped her hands twice. "Dessert," she called out, "we're going off course, a bit."
"Who are you..." A pair of baboon uplifts came out of the trees. They carried silver trays and presented them with a flourish. One held a chocolate cheesecake and the other, a selection of mini eclairs.
"Ooh, chocolate!" River said with delight.
"Who are these two?" the Doctor asked.
"Just some... helpers I picked up."
"Did they get beat up?"
"Hm? Oh, baboons will be baboons." She surveyed the choices. "The cheesecake, I think." One set it down, and they began to back away into the trees. "You two go off and do... things." She fluttered her hand at them.
There was a hiss of compressed air and the hum of a dart as it cut through the air. Something struck the cover of the other silver tray that was still in the baboon's arms. The baboon stared at the neat hole in the lid and passed out.
"What was that?" the Doctor said, as he started to jump to his feet.
River grabbed him by a suspender and jerked him back down. "Nothing important!" She planted a hard kiss on his mouth. When she drew away, he had a dreamy look.
"Wha... what was I saying?" he asked.
She gave him her widest, brightest smile. "Happy anniversary, my love."