Hanger bay number twenty-seven stood empty with the only sound coming from wind whistling through the cracked windows. The building belonged to, but was no longer used by Liectra Corporation's experimental complex on Meinlos Seven. Over the last few years, it was more home to occasional vermin and bits of trash than a place where scientists once studied and built experimental vehicles. The stillness ended when the TARDIS engines broke through the quiet as the ship materialised. The blow back from her engines sent trash skittering across the floor. The Doctor grasped Donna's hand, gave it a quick kiss and clicked his tongue more than ready to face whatever waited outside the doors.
"I could check the scanner?" he asked as he arched one eyebrow. He already knew how she would answer.
"Would it change anything?" she answered.
"No. Ready?" he asked as he reached for the door.
"Always," she answered with a smile.
They both took deep breaths before stepping outside to face the unknown. The sight of armed men pointing laser rifles sent a shiver of excitement through both. The last time they had laser rifle at them, they were on the Oodsphere. Instead of reasonable fear, they both sported genuine cheeky grins. His was particularly broad. This was his reality - his world. They both raised their hands.
"Gentleman, look no weapons." He ignored the clicks of safeties coming off the rifles as he waved his arms. "No weapons of any kind," he announced. "My ship came down in the wrong parking spot, and I do apologise. I came to talk to Elon Gaius. Just tell him the Doctor is here. Mention just one word - Deckla. You might also tell him that if I don't step back in that ship with my companion, unharmed, the ship will transmit an automatic holographic message to the Shadow Proclamation, the Deckla government and six other planets. They will shut Gaius Enterprises down."
The Doctor continued grinning as the rifles went down. He watched as the leader spoke into his earwig. Several minutes later, a portly turquoise humanoid pushed through the crowd of guards toward the TARDIS.
"Doctor - long time no see. Nice companion - like the hair," he smirked. An artificial voice box carried his words while his beady eyes brightened making up for his inability to form a smile with his oddly shaped mouth.
"Now Gaius, behave. This is my companion, Donna. Donna meet Elom Gaius. He is a Kamelioid. Great business people the Kamelioids. Gaius - we need to talk. Why don't you join us in the TARDIS where things we say will be kept private." The Doctor gestured toward the open door.
He stood back waiting for Gaius to decide between going out of business or doing business with the Doctor. The man's normal dark shade of turquoise faded a bit. "Come on Gaius, even I don't like wasting time," he said firmly. "The Deckla government is still looking for the inventor of the Trega engine, It was a spectacular failure. They lost a third of their pilots because of that engine. I never did tell them that - it came from you."
The man faded to grey.
"But I hate your ship, Doctor. It's always so - disorienting," Gaius protested as he entered the TARDIS.
"Tell me about it, mate," Donna said as she gave him a little push through the door.
"So Doctor, how can I help you?" Gaius asked as his eyes roamed around the control room.
"You can talk to me about the latest in perception filter technology, Gaius. I'm talking about something tiny enough that it's injectable and one that is powerful enough to disguise a ship."
"You are talking about something like the XM42. Two years ago, a Vot scientist stole an experimental unit. During the robbery, they killed one of my best scientists. Since it was not validated, I didn't report it. Then a year ago, I heard that someone stole an experimental transformation ship. The two together make things difficult not just for the law, but for my business as well. So I reported the theft to the Galactic police. They're easier to deal with than that self-righteous bunch at the Shadow Proclamation."
"I suppose the fact that some parts of your experiment might be frowned on had nothing to do with reporting the theft when it happened," the Doctor growled.
"How does - - this transformation ship work without the X-thingy?" Donna intervened to deflect his rising anger.
"Basically it's a very advanced cloaking system. It assumes the shape and signature of the next closest ship," the nervous man answered.
"And with it," Donna asked.
"It can look like anything from a house to an asteroid. It will make the ship nearly impossible to find."
"Nearly?" The Doctor straightened up.
"I still have the device's signature decoder."
"And you haven't turned it over to authorities because?" The Doctor was finding it hard to keep his temper under control.
"They didn't ask." Gaius seemed befuddled by the question.
"You idiot," Donna snapped. "People are suffering because of that device. What about the implantable filter, do you have that too?"
"I sold the prototype to the Vot government three years ago. They wanted a way to fit in at the Galactic union meetings."
"You sold it to a planet that hires its warriors out to make a living," the Doctor said in disbelief, "They have had all this time to mass produce it. You -" The Doctor stopped short.
"Bloody bastard," Donna finished for him.
"I'm in business to make a living." Gaius protested. "This - - is what I do."
"And now - I have to stop them." The Doctor walked up to Gaius.
The Kamelioid's nostril flared in anger as he backed away from the Doctor. "You cannot interfere with business, Doctor," he declared.
"I am giving you one chance to help me. After that, what happens to your business is entirely on you."
"What do you want?"
"The signature decoder for both."
"There isn't one for the implantable filter. It's deactivated by removal. But I suppose I..."
"Gaius, give me the decoder," the Doctor ordered.
The TARDIS materialised on the sandy beach of a small cove edged by forest that came down to the edge of the beach. The first rays of the morning sun danced on the deep blue sea. Pelicans and a small flock of blackskimmers were busy feeding in the early morning. When the Doctor and Donna stepped out they found themselves on a stretch of coastline untouched by the future's pollution. The sight took their breath away. When they turned toward the forest, they saw the mouth of the Santee River opening into the ocean.
"I thought there would be a waterfall or something," Donna said as she headed for the slice of water coursing its way out of the forest to the beach.
"Not every river ends with a waterfall," the Doctor called as he began walking toward the edge of the beach. "That's where they anchor," he called over to Donna, "that little island out there."
"How does the X... " Donna looked at him questioningly
"How does it make a spaceship look like a clipper ship?" Donna asked as she joined him.
"Someone on board ship adjusts the projection wavelength to match the neural pattern of a planet's inhabitants. The correct wavelength interferes with their brain's ability to interpret what it sees. Since the brain can't register the image, it fills in with what it thinks is normal for the time and place. Here, in 1858 that would be a clipper ship. Like Gaius said, it is fearsome technology,"
"So now what?" Donna asked as she stared out at the waves lapping gently against the beach front. The cove's overwhelming beauty made it easy to forget why they were here - almost. She imagined that if things weren't so serious, she could stay on this beach forever.
"Now - you help me set up a sensor web. When that ship comes, and it will come, the decoder allows the web to interfere with its ability transform, and the ship's electronics from firing the engines. It's sort of like a very focused EMP pulse."
"So, they'll be stuck, good and proper." Donna grinned.
"At least long enough for the Shadow Proclamation to transport them off this planet. Then I will take the ship up and blow it."
"Doctor, that's a lot alien activity. How are we going to protect the humans from seeing things they shouldn't see?"
"I'll show you in the TARDIS, come on."
The storage area was, for the most part, a disorganised mess. Donna hated entering at all. Everything that they had used during their stay on Aurelia was neatly packed away. The rest she promised herself one day would be just as neat, but for now the Doctor needed the magna clamps just to move through boxes, trunks and crates. For an hour, they both worked to rearrange things until finally finding what they were looking for. A black case with twenty solar-powered sticks. "There you are my beauties," the Doctor murmured as he pulled the case out into the open area of the storage bay.
"They look like solar lights," Donna commented.
"Solar lights with an EM setting that will interfere with anything electronic of the sixtieth century and before. Between this and the decoder," he said with an arched eyebrow, "we will be in business."
"Doctor, what about the aliens? We can't have them recognised."
The Doctor closed the case. "We modify the sensors, so they only affect the ship. Come on, I'll show you," he said as he attached the magna clamp.
The anti-grav device made it easy for Donna to pass the case up to him once he was back up on the upper deck. By the time Donna was next to him, he was at the computer inputting unfathomable data. The screen soon filled with the long complicated equation made up of squiggles, numbers, boxes and circles that flew past. . A sensor lay on the console with two wires clipped to the head. He turned back with a grin and without looking at the console, hit the computer's enter button and stepped away. For several seconds, nothing happened and then the sensor began to glow a deep royal purple.
"What did you do?" Donna asked with her voice filled with awe.
"I upgraded. The sensor web will trap the ship, but not affect anything embedded in a humanoid including the Vot. Sam and the boys can hold the slavers while I go on board the ship to disable it. I'm not a bloody genius for nothing, you know."
"And yet, you're still humble." Donna laughed.
The Doctor materialised the TARDIS safely back in her room. He wrapped Donna in his arms before leaving their little cocoon of safety. His passion was back, and his plan was taking shape. He kissed her long and hard, letting her energy flow through him, and leaving her breathless when she pulled away. Before he eased her out the door, he placed one more lightly place kiss her on the forehead.
"I will be back in one second, I promise," he whispered as he eased her out the door.
The worried look on her face twisted his gut, but he headed for the console, dematerialised the TARDIS, and then re-materialised in an empty broom cupboard. If anyone on the coloured wing of Roper Hospital noticed they ignored the strange sounds. He stepped out to an empty corridor with his sonic screwdriver already in his hand. A quick check of the results confirmed the location of his target. The man's office was just five feet from the cupboard. Not bothering to knock, he opened the door and walked in.
"Well, Doctor Roberts, that's... That's - - one way to examine a patient," he snarled as he pulled the doctor off an obviously frightened black girl. "Go on, get out of here," he ordered the girl while holding Roberts by the collar. "He will not hurt you again."
He heard the girl's running footsteps fade as the door slammed shut behind her.
"Who the hell do you think you are?" Roberts spit with rage while he struggled to free himself from the Doctor's grasp.
The Doctor said nothing as he drug the struggling man down the hall to the cupboard. He thrust the door open and shoved Roberts through the open doors of the TARDIS which promptly snapped shut and locked. The Doctor ignored the man's screams of terror as he put the ship into the vortex. He watched Roberts drop down in front of the door muttering something about drunken hallucinations for several minutes before he pulled the man back to his feet and shoved him toward the console.
"You are not hallucinating. You are in a spaceship - my spaceship - in space. How does it feel... kidnapped from everything you know? Forced to go to a place you cannot comprehend? Hmmm? My name - - is - - The Doctor and I am an alien. Well actually - - you are the alien here. This," he gestured around the control room, "is the heart of my ship. Come here," he growled as he grabbed the man and pulled him toward the doors. As he clung to Roberts arm he, flung one open to reveal the wonders of open space.. "That is the constellation Milky Way. You are in space."
The sound of someone wetting himself drew his attention to the growing puddle on the floor. "Really?" he shook his head in disgust and closed the door. "Tell me about Matthew Simmons. Tell me about your role with Matthew Simmons and tell me how you get messages from the Wildfire."
"I. I. I," he stammered incoherently.
"You what? I can stay up here a long time. The TARDIS has a remarkable effect occasionally. She can inhibit aging so I can dangle you out the doors as often as I want. Tell me about Matthew Simmons."
"None of this is real. I have gone..." he sputtered still in shock.
The Doctor ignored his words as he grabbed him by the arm and steered him toward the door's edge.
"No. Wait, please."
"Tell me what I want to know," the Doctor in a taunt, quiet voice.
"A couple of years ago, I lost a poker game to him. He insisted that I pay him back by providing medical care to this creäture who looked human, but wasn't. He yanked me out in the middle of the night to do it. He said that the creäture would make us rich. He left a strange stone with him. When he wants us to know that he's coming, the stone glows with a green light. He brings us creatures after he makes them look like darkies. We pay him with gold bouillon. Simmons sells the darkies on the slave market or uses them as replacements for the runways that he's killed. He sells a few of the females down in New Orléans. Please, he'll kill me if I help you," the man begged.
"This is your one only chance at redemption. I will destroy you if you don't. You will let me know every time he contacts you and when he tells you that a new group is coming you will send me word. If you betray me, I will throw you out those doors. "
"He's coming after you." Roberts blurted.
"Good. I was hoping he's catch me up. One more thing." He glanced at the man's wet groin. "Since you are incapable of controlling your self, you will never touch a black woman or for that matter, any woman outside your marriage again. Your - prior escapades have produced three children; you will find them and get them out of slavery. Send them safely up north somewhere. I've checked your accounts. You have more than enough to make sure that they lead good lives. Make sure that they do. Then sir, you will get the hell out of the south."
With one last disgusted up and down look at the man, the Doctor pushed past and headed for the console. "Sorry about the mess Old Girl," he said lovingly as he stroked her panels.
A moment later, the ship materialised back in Roberts office. The Doctor shoved the confused, terrified man out the door, and as the ship disappeared he watched the man on the scanner. "He really needs to stop drinking so much." He laughed softly as the ship materialised in her room at the mansion.
The Doctor was wrong. He was gone for thirty seconds.
Please review. Let me know what you think of my alien.