Doctor Who: Red Right Hand – Episode Eight

strh

Well, here it is, ages later. Not the finale, but close, very close. If  you want to read the first seven chapters and prologue, you can find them by searching Red Right Hand on this site or going here.

8. Collisions

Hundreds of light years away from the Cotton Candy Nebula, and incidentally thousands of light years away from where the Doctor was staring dejectedly at two right red hands, an old Razor-class light freighter hung in space some distance from the asteroid holding the Kelvaxan Reliquary. If the freighter had not been sitting dead in space, there would likely be a cacophony of alarms assaulting its two occupants.

“Time?” Captain Light asked desperately.

After a moment, Penelope’s voice replied “Three minutes to full recharge.” Again, the downside to the ship’s jumpdrive capabilities was a complete power drain that effectively immobilized his ship’s systems for five minutes to five hours depending on the complexity of the jump.

The Captain pressed his lips into a grimace. “Any second now some idiot’s going to look through a window and see us floating here with our asses hanging out.”

“There are no windows on the structure that I can detect,” Penelope informed him.

Captain Light sighed and leaned back in his seat at the control panel. He didn’t feel like correcting her. In less than three minutes, they would be picked up on scanners and summarily disintegrated.

While any normal person would find this distressing, and possibly somewhat distracting, Captain Light merely fiddled with the two devices he held, one in each hand. He ran his thumbs over the buttons he would press in a few moments, telling himself over and over that he had to be sure to get the sequence right. He played his next moves repeatedly in his mind’s eye, and even then he still doubted himself. Any miscalculation, and both he and Penelope would perish. That was the worst case scenario. Less than worst would be the destruction of his ship and his capture by whatever nefarious organization was manning the Reliquary, whether it be TDI, Priests of Paradox …

“Why couldn’t it be Cybermen?” he mused.

“One minute,” Penelope chimed.

***

The Doctor stared at the screen before him, his face empty of concern or delight. He wasn’t seeing what he wanted to see. Good news would be nice, but bad news could be handled just as well. He was used to bad news.

All he could see on the screen was–

“Nothing.”

Abruptly, the Doctor pushed the screen away and walked back to the TARDIS console.

“You can take your hand out of the box now, Rory,” he said, waving his hand to his companion. “Just don’t touch anything with that hand, please. Risk of infection.”

Carefully, Rory pulled his hand out of the floating black box the Doctor had called the Kryptic Analyzer and held his red right hand awkwardly before him as he backed away.

“Absolutely nothing,” the Doctor mumbled, more to himself than anyone else.

Amy shifted in her seat near the console. She also held a red right hand awkwardly out before her, being extremely careful not to touch anything with it.

“How many did you say have the red right hand?” the Doctor asked as he began flipping switches on the console.

“Sixty million or so?” Rory replied imprecisely. “I mean, that’s what the adverts say. Sixty million subscribers, and I assume that means everyone of them got the implant.”

The Doctor turned to face Rory suddenly, and, with a stern look, questioned him for the latest of several similar instances, “Now, listen to me very carefully, Rory, because this is absolutely the most serious question that I will ask you today.”

Rory rolled his eyes. “More serious than the fifty other times you’ve asked me in the last thirty minutes?” Looking the Doctor directly in the eyes, Rory stated very slowly and deliberately, “We … did … not … steal … implants … from … the … Reliquary.”

“Amelia?” the Doctor barked, pointing in her direction, but still holding Rory’s gaze.

“It’s true, Doctor. Right after you dropped us off, we saw the adverts. It’s like Earth technology advanced fifty years while we were gone,” Amy replied. “But none of our stuff has changed. Everyone else went all Jetsons.”

“That’s right,” Rory confirmed. “Everything was the same except for the big gift-wrapped box on our table that had ‘Enjoy’ written on a card stuck to it.”

The Doctor shook his head, laughing softly. “I would never do something so cheesy as that. I mean, in the first place, why would I gift you the very technology that I had warned you would be bad for you to take back to Earth?”

At this moment, both Amy and Rory shouted in unison, “We don’t know!”

“And you didn’t bother to think about it!” the Doctor quipped brusquely. Heaving a sigh, he turned back to the TARDIS console and ran a hand over his face.

“Can we go home now?” Amy asked, rising from her seat, being careful not to touch anything with her right hand.

“No, you can’t,” the Doctor said matter-of-factly. “Whatever it is behind this technology is most definitely on Earth. If I take you back to the surface, there’s no telling what it might happen to you. What I saw on Fallox was not pleasant. We’re all safer here in orbit within the confines of the TARDIS.”

“So, we’re just going to sit here then. You know, I’d like to put my hand down now,” Rory remarked.

“We’re not sitting here either,” the Doctor replied. Turning a knob, he nodded his head in satisfaction, and stepped away from the console. “We’re going back to the Kelvaxan Reliquary to see what Captain Light found there.”

“So, you two are friends now?” Amy asked incredulously. “No more chest-beating?”

The Doctor smirked. “We’re colleagues of a sort. Friends? Not quite, but we’re in this together, whatever this is. Now, let me just adjust the spatial controls and we’ll move to–”

The black interstellar ship that THWOMPed into orbit near the TARDIS was massive. The radius of its deflector shield was such that, though many kilometers away from the TARDIS, it briefly attempted to occupy the same space as the Doctor’s vessel.

The Doctor, who was in the middle of adjusting the spatial controls, was caught completely off-guard when the TARDIS, immediately compensating for the improbability of two temporal vessels attempting to occupy the same space, jumped spatially thirty kilometers closer to Earth. The force of the jump jolted the three occupants. The Doctor and Rory were slammed roughly into the TARDIS console, while Amy was dumped unceremoniously to the floor.

Shocked, but not without his razor-sharp awareness, the Doctor quickly checked his scanners.

“What is that?” he queried to no one in particular. His face crumpled from shock to confusion in a mere two seconds. “You can’t do that! Only I can do that!”

“What happened this time?” Amy asked from the floor, still holding her hand awkwardly in the air. “Why are you always doing that?”

“I didn’t do that!” the Doctor retorted. Bringing up a visual feed, he showed his companions exactly what did do that. “That massive ship did that! And it’s a temporal ship, which really makes me jealous you know, because look at the size of that thing. And, flat black, too! I mean, that’s classy, that.”

“Spaceship envy?” Rory chuckled from his position next to the Doctor.

The Doctor’s eyes, though immediately compelled to fall upon his male companion’s countenance in a death glare, instead fell upon Rory’s right hand.

Rory’s right hand was not held awkwardly in the air like Amy’s was.

Rory’s red right hand was touching the TARDIS console.

Before the Doctor could reach out and grab Rory’s wrist, the damage had already been done.

Before the Doctor could open his mouth and scream out to his companion that he was an idiot above all other things, all was lost.

Before the Doctor’s two hearts even had a chance to skip dual beats, the TARDIS was absolutely and completely compromised by the technology hidden within Rory’s hand.

Above the planet Earth, the TARDIS, without its signature wheezing groan, promptly vanished.

***

“Fifty seconds,” Penelope informed the Captain.

“Alright, once more, here’s the plan,” the Captain explained. Rising from the control panel, he held the two devices in front of him, one in each hand. “It will take ten seconds for the Reliquary’s defensive volley to reach and impact the ship once it detects our energy signature as power comes back.”

“Forty seconds,” Penelope replied.

“In my left hand, I hold a Mulligan Circuit, which I will activate as soon as the power comes back on. If it works as it’s supposed to, I should be able to jump immediately back to this moment in time and space from any other moment in time and space.”

“If it works as advertised,” Penelope reminded him.

“In my right hand, I hold my secret back door to the Reliquary which bypasses all security measures. I’ll activate this device immediately after I set the Mulligan, and jump to the Acquisitions Office maintenance closet.”

“Twenty seconds.”

“From there, I’ll make my way to Heems’s office, secure the Priests’ vessels or destroy them, if necessary, and then use the Mulligan to jump back to ten seconds before the ship is blasted, fire up the jumpdrive–”

“Ten seconds.”

“And get the hell out of here.”

“Five. Four. Three. Two. One.”

***

The Doctor’s TARDIS, a Type 40, being the amazing vessel it is, is not exactly the most perfect time machine a Time Lord could ask for. Type 40 had been phased out well before the Doctor decided to steal this particular vessel, and it was definitely a bit cantankerous. While instantaneous temporal and spatial travel is possible in a TARDIS, it is not without a cascading series of fail-safes and redundancy checks that such a vessel can travel from one side of the universe to another, give or take five billion years in either direction.

It just so happened that while the Kelvaxan Reliquary was dialed in as their next stop, the TARDIS still needed several seconds before it could make its jump safely.

The nanite virus that was secretly residing in Rory’s right hand, having been cleverly hidden within a temporally-shifted sheath attached to one of the bones of the hand, didn’t care that safety checks hadn’t been performed, or that redundant spooling had yet to complete. The nanites infiltrated the TARDIS, shut down all its protections and security measures, and immediately forced the jump to the dialed-in location in time and space.

As a result, the TARDIS jumped about twelve time tracks before reorienting itself. Even then, the ship didn’t make its jump instantaneously. The ship lurched erratically, tossing its occupants in all directions. The companions and the Doctor held on to whatever they could find to secure themselves.

Both Amy and Rory experienced the wild trip in just a mere twenty seconds or so, but for the Doctor, the event stretched on. Time slowed around him and he was able to look at Amy, seeing the fear in her eyes. Even as his hand began to lose its grip on the TARDIS console, the Doctor turned and looked disdainfully at the boy who had absently done this to his ship. He remembered, for a moment, all the idiots he had suffered as guests: Ian, Ben, Harry, Vislor, Jamie … no, not Jamie, he quickly corrected. Ignorance does not equal idiocy. He then had time to look back at the scanner, at the image of the ship that had defied the rules and jumped into Earth’s orbit, and wonder if it was somehow connected. The Doctor didn’t even bother attempting to reassert his control over his vessel. He had recognized the purple energy that sparked from Rory’s hand. Whatever happened, they were now under the control of the Priests of Paradox, and wherever they went, it was where that particular evil willed it.

***

Exactly one second after the ship’s consoles lit up and the Razor-class light freighter roared back to life, Captain Drustan Light activated the Mulligan Circuit in his left hand.

Before he could depress the switch that would instantaneously transport him to the maintenance closet inside the Acquisitions Office of the Kelvaxan Reliquary, the Doctor’s TARDIS tore through the ship’s hull. Captain Light was ejected into space through the hull breach, and was propelled away from the vessel. As he began to suffer the effects of being suddenly in space, he remembered the back door.

His ship exploded just as his quickly stiffening thumb hit the switch that saved his life.

***

“We hit something back there!” the Doctor yelled above the cloister bell and the sound of explosions from several consoles all over the TARDIS. Having rematerialized, time was running normally for all three occupants. The Doctor ineffectively threw switches, turned knobs, and banged on the console with his fists.

“Where are we?” Rory questioned.

The Doctor ignored the question as it came from Rory, but when Amy repeated the very same question, he answered:

“Exactly where we were supposed to go. The Kelvaxan Reliquary, only instead of casually and coolly materializing somewhere near Curator Heems office, we, uh,” the Doctor hesitated, looking with concern at several flashing lights on several sides of the console.

“We what, Doctor?” Rory asked impatiently.

“We’re crashing!” the Doctor snapped. Turning to the gangling youth at his side, the Time Lord got right in his face, and for the most recent of many times he yelled, “This is your fault, Rory!”

***

Captain Light blinked into existence with a deficit  of breathable air in his lungs. He blinked his eyes quickly and felt the ice crystals newly formed there cutting his eyelids. Opening his mouth he inhaled noisily and collapsed in a heap, coughing.

After several deep gulps of air, his senses reoriented themselves and he felt cold floor, he heard the subtle hiss of air conditioning, he smelled cleaning supplies, he tasted the blood in his mouth from biting his tongue in the blast, but he saw nothing at all.

Fearing blindness from his brief sojourn in empty space, Captain Light pushed himself up off the floor and began to frantically search for a light switch. He could almost see a dim glow, and he immediately wondered if perhaps the lights were already on.

His hands found purchase on a doorknob, but the Captain hesitated. He had no idea what lay beyond that door. A passing patrol might be walking by. An employee of the Reliquary may see him and immediately report him to security.

“Or I may be blind …” he whispered to himself. Taking a deep breath, he purposefully removed his blaster from its holster and turned the knob.

Pushing the door open swiftly, Captain Light was blinded by intense fluorescent light from the hallway just outside the maintenance closet he had jumped into. He cowered momentarily, pressing his hands to his eyes and rubbing vigorously. He needed to see what was there, what was coming.

Wincing through the pain, he forced his eyelids up.

The hallway was empty.

Heaving a sigh of relief, he slumped against the closet door and began to laugh. He distinctly remembered the flash of blue streaking through his hull before feeling the embrace of deep space. “I’ll whip you for that, Doctor.”

The laugh subsided and then abruptly ended. Regardless of the Mulligan device he still carried, he knew at that moment in time and space, his ship and Penelope were gone.

The Captain breathed deeply through his nose and stood up straight. He checked the charge on his blaster, and slid it back into its holster. Looking down the hallway, he quickly oriented himself and began to stride with purpose toward Curator Heems office.

***

The environmental shield over the landing pad at the Kelvaxan Reliquary had fared just as well as Captain Light’s freighter against the unstoppable force of a TARDIS out of control.

The TARDIS itself lay on its side, doors down, as thirty-six armed guards in spacesuits cautiously formed a circle around the crashed police box.

Inside the Doctor rattled the doors violently, trying to get them to open. Behind him, a guilty Rory and a wary Amy waited for what came next. The doors suddenly opened and the Doctor, losing his grip, collided backwards into his companions. Before them was a concrete wall, or floor, more accurately. A landing pad, to be precise.

“Well, that’s unfortunate,” the Doctor exhaled.

“Can’t you just dematerialize and rematerialize right side up?” Rory asked hopefully.

“No, Rory,” the Doctor mocked. “Because the virus has hijacked the TARDIS and I don’t … have … control of her … anymore!”

The three of them sighed collectively and stared at the door. A full minute passed before any of them moved. Finally, the Doctor walked back to the doors and pressed his face close to where the door jamb met the floor.

“Uh, excuse me!” he shouted, hoping to attract the attention of someone outside. “Hello?”

Outside the TARDIS, thirty-six guards looked at each other, unsure of what to do.

“Is anyone out there? Hello?” the Doctor repeated.

Nervously, the captain of the guard, lowered his weapon and turned up his external speaker so that he might be heard.

“Uh, hello, uh, sir,” the guard stammered. Looking around at his men, he suddenly realized what a fool he was appearing to be and cleared his throat. His voice dropped huskily and he continued, “I’m Captain Jamph Fillbotten of the–”

“I’m sorry, could you say that again? You’re who?” the Doctor called out.

“Captain Jamph Fillbotten of–”

“Captain what?”

“Jamph Fillbotten, I’m the Captain–”

“Can you spell that?” The Doctor’s last word ended in a grunt as Amy slapped him hard on the shoulder.

Amy’s glare turned the conversation immediately.

“Oh nevermind, sorry,” the Doctor said with mock apology. “So, yes, Captain Flimbottom, we’ve breached your environmental shield, and crashed onto your landing pad without appointment or clearance and we’re really very sorry, but you see, our TARDIS was out of our control. So, really not our fault, so you can skip with the recitation of our infractions and just help us, alrighty?”

Captain Fillbotten looked at his men blankly before saying, “Alright.”

“Perfect! Good chap!” The Doctor responded happily. “Now, I happen to know that you’ve got a rather spiffy crane in the vicinity that you use to move large museum pieces. Do you know the crane I’m speaking of?”

The Captain did know the crane. “I know the crane,” he said.

“Well, it’s not going to work, we need something bigger,” came the Doctor’s reply.

***

Captain Light stood before the ornamental wooden doors that led into Heems’s office. For the third time he tried the handle, and then banged on the door. It was not exactly the stealthy entrance he had envisioned, but having seen three separate patrols rushing in the direction of the landing pad, Captain Light assumed the stealthy approach might be given a pass.

A few seconds elapsed, and a few impatient breaths were heaved by the Captain, when suddenly there was a click and one of the doors opened on its hinges.

Drawing his blaster, Captain Light entered Heems’s office, shutting the door behind him.

The office was darker than usual. The lightglobes that more often than not illuminated the room and Heems’s personal collection were turned off. Only the glow from the monitors that accessed the database lit the room, and the shadows were long and ominous indeed.

“I must admit, Drustan, that you were my favorite relic hunter.”

Heems was seated at his desk, which was now empty of everything but the Speak ‘N Spell he had so recently received.

“About that,” the Captain began cautiously. He moved slowly towards the desk, keeping his blaster out, barrel up. “There are a couple of pieces I’d like to borrow, if you don’t mind.”

“Oh?” was all that Heems said in reply.

“Unfortunately, I won’t be so much borrowing them as taking them and destroying them.”

Captain Light looked around the room for the egg-shaped vessels, but didn’t see them. He noticed, instead, that many of the pieces that were long-standing residents of Heems’s personal collection were missing, though he couldn’t recall exactly what they were.

“Captain,” Heems spoke evenly. “There will be no good end for either you or the Doctor after this. And you’ve already lost so much.”

“Don’t worry about my ship,” the Captain replied, leveling his blaster at the Curator. “Turn over the Priests’s vessels, and I’ll just flit away like a bug that once annoyed you.”

“I don’t mean your ship, Captain,” Heems said coyly. Slowly, the Curator rose from his seat.

In response, Captain Light overcharged his blaster, causing the chamber to glow slightly.

“Please, Captain. I’m not a violent man. I’d just like to share something with you. It’s something you’re sure to find very interesting.” Curator Heems moved around his desk and approached one of the database nodes. “You know, I resisted these computers in my office for the longest time, preferring instead to peruse the tedious volumes of bound indexes when searching for information.”

Casually, Heems took a seat and brought up the Reliquary’s search function. Instead of typing in a search, he turned to Captain Light with a somewhat whimsical smile on his face.

“Do you remember the first piece you brought me, Drustan?” he asked.

“Cut to the punchline, old man. I don’t have time for games,” the Captain returned. “Unless you’re looking for those vessels, you can just step away from that console.”

Before he could read what the Curator’s next move would be, Captain Light caught movement in the shadows of his periphery. Reflexively, the Captain spun and fired, more to illuminate and reveal than to kill. The blast found a mark, regardless, and harmlessly ricocheted into a wall.

The dalek whose shield had deflected the blast moved forward aggressively. “Drop the weapon! Now! Drop the weapon!”

Horrified, the Captain fired three more times uselessly, each blast deflected by dalek shielding. There were five of them moving towards him, and the closest fired its weapon. The dalek ray struck the Captain’s blaster precisely and the struck weapon burned his hand before disintegrating.

“Cease your hostilities, or you will be exterminated!” the dalek screeched.

Grasping his hand in pain, Captain Light turned on the Curator. “Daleks? How could you? Why would you do this?”

Heems rose quickly from his chair and marched towards the Captain, stopping inches from him. “Answer my question, Captain. What was the first piece you brought me?”

Shaking his head, the Captain refused. “This is ridiculous!”

“Answer! Answer him! Answer now!” the daleks screeched in unison, lurching toward him menacingly.

The Captain rolled his eyes before answering, “A clay bowl.”

“And where did you procure this particular bowl, Captain Light?” Heems pressed.

“On Fallox, from the ruins of the ziggurat,” the Captain replied evenly. “You already know this.”

“Do I?” Heems teased. “The extent of my knowledge is mirrored in this database here,” he continued, gesturing towards the console. “I wonder what it has to say about that bowl. Why don’t you sit down and see for yourself?”

Captain Light glanced at the five daleks, and back to the Curator before grudgingly taking a seat at the console. He hesitated, looking at the empty fields for place of origin and description.

“Well, Captain Light,” Heems prodded. “We’re waiting.”

Quickly, Captain Light typed in the search terms and initiated the query. He knew the terms to use, there was no need to try different iterations. After a few moments, the reply came back.

Item Not Found

“It’s not there,” the Captain said, with some concern.

“That’s right, Captain. It’s not there. In fact, it’s not anywhere. It has been erased from existence, along with your homeworld, along with your people.” Heems was beaming.

Captain Light laughed. “That’s impossible. If it’s gone, then why am I still here?”

“Yes, how interesting. I have an answer for that, but you won’t like it. And I’ll wager, after you hear it, that you’ll have one less friend.”

“Explain, Heems. You know I don’t like mysteries.” The Captain rose from the console and faced Heems.

“The you that lived on and was born on the planet Fallox that only recently disappeared from this universe, died some time ago. In fact, you killed him. Now, don’t worry too much, you didn’t realize it at the time. In fact, that particular you didn’t realize it either, he just simply ceased to be, which incidentally is exactly how several versions of you have perished in several universes.” Heems waited for Captain Light to put it all together, but it wasn’t happening.

“What are you saying?” the Captain demanded.

“We’ll get back to that. For now, let’s direct your rage to a better target.”

“Rage? What rage? This is nonsense. You’ve told me nothing.”

“Oh, it’s coming Captain Light,” Heems said as he turned and walked back to his desk. “You see, neither I, nor my associates, are responsible for the erasure of your homeworld. This Reliquary is timelocked, what is as we experience it here only is as the flow of time from both past and future collide. Your planet was destroyed five million years ago, by the Doctor, in less than an hour from now.”

***

Even as the breach in the environmental shield was sealed, a freighter fired its landing engines in quick bursts as it lowered its cargo to the landing pad by the massive chain attached to it. The TARDIS, the cargo in question, wobbled slightly before satisfactorily thumping down.

Almost immediately after it was back safe on the ground, right side up, the Doctor burst from the doors, with Rory and Amy timidly in tow, their hands up.

“Thank you, gentlemen! At least, I’m assuming you’re all gentlemen, because you are after all brandishing plasma rifles at me, and that’s very manly, I’d say.” He quickly counted the number of rifles pointed in their direction. “I mean I suppose one of you could be a woman, but then you’d need to ask why I’d even not assume that one of you might–” He stopped and quickly counted again. “Shouldn’t there be thirty-seven of you? I only count thirty-six.”

“She’s on holiday,” one of the guards replied.

“Aha! I see what you did there. Do you?” The Doctor confidently strode forward.

“Curator Heems wants to see you,” the Guard Captain barked. “And, we’re taking your ship.”

“Oh, well, it’s not exactly my ship at the moment, so feel free,” the Doctor replied.

The three companions were roughly forced into a line and marched off the landing pad. After long moments of marching through winding halls and expansive exhibits, the group arrived at the doors to Heems’s office. After a few seconds, the doors opened wide and the Doctor and his companions were marched right up to Heems’s desk.

The Doctor’s impish smile, the one he had worn all through the Reliquary as he quipped barbs at the guards, quickly faded as he realized who sat behind the desk.

“Hello, Doctor,” Captain Light said to him. “Amy, Rory, thanks for coming.”

The Doctor didn’t reply.

“We need to talk,” the Captain said seriously.

Before the Doctor could make a delayed but witty retort, a side door opened and the five daleks rolled into view followed by a grinning Curator Heems.

As the companions gasped in fear, the Doctor merely sighed.

(to be continued)

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