Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Prognosticate! – A very last minute replacement

Ok, so this here story is a very last minute replacement for one that fell through from another writer. As such, no-one but me has read it, so if it's completely terrible, than I am very sorry! I'm hoping you enjoy it for what it is, my very own....


A dozen ships, armed to the teeth with weaponry, had formed a circle around the battered time craft of Grednine. His ship had seen better days, as had he, but since fleeing the destruction of the Valannti system, he'd been desperate but unable to use the ship for its true function. Instead, the small jumps he'd managed through hyperspace hadn't taken him far enough away, Galactic Law Enforcement quickly tracking him, leading to the dead end he now found himself in.
    He fiddled with the controls of the ship (stolen, his only means of escape from the destruction of the Valannti system after the shockwave began to take effect) hitting anything that looked like it may resurrect the one element he'd stolen the ship for in the first place.
    The ships outside his own looked to be readying themselves to fire. Their armaments would tear through the vessel he was in, of that he was certain. The control panel for the vessel seemed to be bleeping at him, a small screen stuttering into life. A pompous moustached face stared back at him, a superior and confident man staring back at him.
    "I believe, Grednine, this is it for you. How did that old Earth expression go....oh yes, YOU'RE NICKED!" The face grinned at him. "You have two choices, and only because I'm bound by law to offer them to you. If I had my way, I'd drag you back to the survivors of the Valannti system – not that there were many – and let them mete out their own brand of justice on you. So, you come peacefully OR we blow you to kingdom come. Any questions? Good. You have 30 seconds." The screen flicked off as quickly as it had come on.
    Grednine knew he had little choice. The craft had no weapons of its own and the time drive wasn't functioning. He couldn't run, but he had no desire to give himself up either. Frantically he hammered at as many buttons he could find, watching the last few seconds tick away.
    He could see the ships outside readying their weapons once more. The screen flickered back with the face that had appeared earlier showing itself once again. "Since you have made no decision, one has been made for you. Burn with your crimes Grednine. Execution will commence."
    Panicked, he hit more buttons with force as outside, several incoming objects sped towards the ship. A cry of frustration, a last desperate smash.
    Then Grednine was enveloped by the blinding white light.

"Ladies and gentlemen, roll up, roll up! The marvellous Mesmero will dazzle and amaze. He'll tell you your past, your future, your shopping list! Come one, come all, and enter if you dare!" The speaker bellowed at the gathered crowds, confident in his convictions. He'd been in this business for nearly 30 years, and was undeniably impressed by this act.   
    Inside the tent it was a different story. 'Mesmero' sat at a table, seemingly talking to himself. Luckily it wasn't loud enough for anyone else to hear, save for the small creature hidden under the cloth of the table, on which sat a crystal ball.
    "Was this my idea K-9?"
    Underneath the table, the robotic sounds of the Doctor's mobile computer answered, "Affirmative Master. The message found from future Master was very specific."
    The Doctor ran a hand through the mass of curls atop his head. "What kind of future me would slip a note in a bottle and throw it into the time vortex, eh?"
    K-9's ears whirred. "Activity is indicative of behaviour of the Doctor-Master based on the parameters defined by actions so far undertaken."
    "What? Well, I suppose you're right K-9. But why didn't I warn me about Romana? That would have saved us a lot of bother."
    K-9's ears whirred once more, his microprocessors once more calculating the answer. "Behaviour indicative of Doctor-Master's reluctance to disturb the 'web of time'."
    The Doctor waved a dismissive hand. "Pah! Must be getting too sober in my old age." The Doctor could see K-9's electronic mind trying to deduce the meaning of what the Doctor had said, so he quickly asked a question. "Any more signs yet K-9? Chronon particles laying around? Vespertac Time Drives? Zygma energy?"
    "Negative Master."
    "You know, I think maybe future me has a sense of humour. If I didn't know me better, I'd swear there was no method in this."
    Before he could say anymore, a nervous head poked through the curtains, and the Doctor dropped the tablecloth to conceal K-9 once more.
    He beckoned the newcomer – a man of no more than twenty – over to the table and affected a rather louder than usual booming tone. "I am Mesmero, I can tell that which you wish to know." Then, under his breath, and to no one in particular, "I hope Romana's having better luck, whenever she is!"

    Romana watched the TARDIS vanish before her. "Ok, so he wants rid of me. A not very subtle way of going about it!" She pulled her sonic screwdriver from her pocket. "Unless..." The screwdriver began to hum gently, and Romana walked further along the path that lead out from the forest. The screwdriver increased in pitch rapidly, though Romana didn't notice the ship until she was right on top of it.
    "I thought as much." She stared at the craft half-buried in the ground, then looked back to her screwdriver to study what it'd found. "Chronon radiation from the crash. That must have caused displacement of the TARDIS."
    She went to look nearer to the craft, wafting smoke away as she moved nearer to it. She didn't recognise the design, but she could tell that it seemed to have been damaged prior to its arrival here.
    Hearing the noise of a person, she slipped further down into the crater, almost falling headlong through the open door of the ship. The footsteps she could hear seemed to be moving away from her, as if someone had fled just before she had stumbled into it.
    Venturing further in, she walked over to what remained of the control panels, now a mess of wires and circuitry. Pointing her sonic screwdriver over the components, the small screen set into them flickered back into life, displaying a diagnostic assessment of the various areas of the craft.
    "Life support 20% - I'm surprised it's even that high. Time drive 51% - enough to get it working again", Romana mused.
    "Do you know, you might be right!" The voice startled her, as did the change of scenery. She was inside what appeared to be a marquee, and seated at a small table dressed in a garish multi-coloured cloak, was the Doctor.
    "Another time-slip. When are you?"
    "Well how do I know? In relation to you? I know where I am!" The Doctor grinned.
    Romana sighed. "Yes, so do I! Where I was! But I've been displaced in time!"
    The Doctor frowned at this. "Well of course you have! You stepped out of the TARDIS, and then the TARDIS ended up here...and now!"
    Before Romana could protest against the Doctor's obstinacy any further, K-9 interrupted. "Mistress, sensors indicate that this unit and the Doctor-Master have been displaced by one week since your departure from the TARDIS."
    Romana knelt down under the table and patted K-9 comfortingly on the head. "Thank you K-9!" She looked back to the Doctor. "So, in one week the ship won't be here. Otherwise you wouldn't be sat here dressed as...what are you dressed as?"
    The Doctor affected the booming tone he'd used earlier for the young man. "I am a prognosticator, a soothsayer, a knower of all things unknown."
    "Correction Master. Common Earth language designates title as 'fortune teller'."
    The Doctor sounded disappointed. "Well, that's another way of putting it. Doesn't quite have the same majesty though, does it?" A thought suddenly struck him. "Romana, what ship are you...?" He looked up, but there was no sign of his companion. "K-9, I find that displacing oneself in time in the middle of a question is quite the height of bad manners, don't you think?" There was no reply. "Unlike you to be diplomatic, K...."
    The Doctor lifted the tablecloth, double checked K-9 wasn't there, then turned to no one in particular. "These time fluctuations are worse than I thought!"

    Grednine's first thought was that he was dead. The weaponry pointed at him was far in excess of what was required to obliterate him (in fact the amount used would have destroyed a small planet); he felt that this was the natural conclusion to reach.
    He looked around himself. He was still in the ship. It was smoking, granted, but still in one smouldering piece. He unclipped the belt he'd put on earlier (despite committing near-genocide, his safety precautions were second to none), and staggered out of the chair. The hatch had opened, and through the dense smoke all around him he could just make out signs of life: vegetation, the hint of a blue sky.
    He whirled round, hearing a noise. Footsteps. Had they followed him? Surely not, he reasoned, they'd think me long dead. And that would be their downfall. His dreams of revenge were cut short by a coughing fit, and the need to breath in fresh air. He hoped that the atmospheric density was similar to home, that the outside pressure wouldn't compact his body as soon as he stepped outside.
    He closed his eyes and ran through the smoke, only opening them when he could feel cool air on his face. He looked around. Greenery surrounded him, the craft having landed in the middle of a field. No-one seemed to have witnessed it, and the place was deserted. He walked further away from the ship, towards what looked like a road lined with trees on either side. Something caught his eye – a poster in a language he didn't understand. He pulled a translation device from his pocket, shook it, and it hummed into life.
    While he waited for it to decode the information, he snuck a glimpse behind him. He couldn't see anyone, but out of the corner of his eye could swear there was something blue flickering. It seemed to be fading in and out of existence, as if it couldn't settle. Like a ghost of an object, a shadow of a time gone past.
    Grednine turned his attention back to the sign. Standing right next to it was a tall thin man, dressed in a rather gaudy cloak. Grednine flicked a switch on the translator, setting it to 'aural' rather than 'written' language in anticipation of the man beginning to speak.
    "Ah, you have seen our sign! Travelling performers are we. We shall be here within the week to entertain and amuse. Can I persuade you to attend our spectacle?"
    The man was looking at Grednine hopefully. A sale was a sale no matter how small. Grednine stared back at the man in a manner that didn't seem as if he was in the least bit interested.
    "Amusements you say? Amusements? I have no time for the cheap tricks of circus performers, unless any of you are skilled in temporal engineering...?"
    The man smiled nervously. "The great Mesmero is skilled in all manner of methods sir. Is it prognostication you require? Something from the future foretold?"
    Grednine sneered at the man. "Fortune telling? You propose to amuse me with this trickery! I'm tired of your prattle already." He pulled out a small yet threatening device from a holster hidden by his tunic. "Tell me, oh Great Mesmero, did you foretell this?"
    The fortune teller closed his eyes and held out his hands. "Please, mercy sir! I did not wish to cause offense!"
    Grednine looked contemptuously at the figure in front of him. "Sorry, but mercy doesn't enter into my vocabulary."
    He pressed a small button on the top of the device, threw back his head and laughed.


    Romana found herself back in the ship, in the exact spot she'd left it. She looked over the controls once more, trying to fathom some kind of method by which to halt the disruption caused by the craft. The – admittedly very crude – engines were in a bad way, ripping a hole in time as it had arrived. "That is what is causing me to bounce around all over the place like a Time-tot on a perigosto stick!" She knew no-one could hear her, but felt the better for saying it.
    She started to remove a panel, poking her sonic screwdriver inside and clicking here and there at broken wires to re-attach them.
    "No, no, no! If you attach that wire to that one you'll short out the ship!"
    Romana sighed. "Well Doctor, what do you suggest?" She turned around to see him grinning once again.
    "Oh, you know, this and that. Trouble is before I can do much to it I'm shunted back to a different point in time. Poor K-9!"
    Romana studied him carefully, taking in his oatmeal-coloured coat and the dark hat jammed atop his head. "When did you have time to change?"
    He didn't hear her for a moment, continuing with his tale of woe. "His circuits weren't what they were and...change into what?"
    "Well, the last time I saw you, you were dressed like..." she caught a glimpse outside of two men, one dressed in a garish multicoloured cloak. "Well, like him?"
    "So, that's what the note meant! He must be our fortune teller! Wait here Romana." The Doctor bounded out of the ship, through what remained of the smoke and towards the two men.

    The Doctor could see that something was amiss. One man pointing a weapon at another was a situation he'd run in to on countless occasions, and not once could he simply walk away from it. "Excuse me!" he shouted. "Could one of you fine gentlemen possibly tell me the time? I seem to have misplaced it – or rather one of you has!"
    The one holding the weapon turned and pointed it in the Doctor's direction. "The blue craft I saw. It is yours. Another time vessel, no?"
    "Very perceptive of you, but it can't have been here for what, more than a few seconds? You've certainly got some skill at detecting time fluctuations then!" The Doctor attempted to gesture to the other man to run, but it was noticed immediately.
    The man carrying the weapon turned and pointed it at the other, laughing as he did so. The other man had no time to scream, his body dust in seconds, only the cloak left where he'd stood.
    "Was that really necessary?" asked the Doctor, stepping to pick up the cloak. "What threat did he pose to you? Hardly the aggressive sort was he, eh?"At that, the weapon was pointed in the Doctor's direction, but it didn't stop him. "I've had things pointed at me throughout the whole of time and space, and do you know what? I'm rather good at...what's that?" The Doctor pointed over the shoulder of the man, who actually turned and looked.
    The Doctor was about to wrestle the weapon from him, in complete disbelief that anyone still fell for that rouse (though pleased it had worked), when he promptly disappeared.

    Romana had made a few more minor adjustments to the ship's controls, when she thought she'd better check on the Doctor. Stepping outside, she saw a figure wearing a cloak similar to the one that Doctor had moments previously (well, a week hence, but relative to her own timeline). The Doctor was stood there too, and another figure, who seemed to have some sort of weapon. The weapon was fired, the Doctor looking away in disgust. All that was left was the cloak. The Doctor picked it up and...vanished.
    Romana smiled. The death of a (presumably) innocent man was no laughing matter, but she'd now realised how the Doctor had acquired his sartorial faux-pas from earlier (or later, depending on perspective).
    In the blink of an eye, everything changed. The man with the weapon was pointing it at the man in the cloak once more, and the Doctor was nowhere to be seen. It was as if time had slipped back, the other man having another chance to live. A chance that wouldn't amount to much without intervention, she reasoned.
    She began to head towards them, unaware how much time she had before the murder occurred once more. As she was about to intercede, from nowhere appeared K-9.
    "Hostile act in progress. Defence mode activated." A beam of red light shot out of K-9's nose, hitting the armed man square in the chest, causing him to keel over, stunned.
    Romana watched as the other man stared disbelievingly at K-9, then at her, nodded his thanks and then fled as fast as he was able. The other man lay unconscious on the floor, and Romana grabbed him by the arms and began to drag him towards the ship.
    "If he moves, stun him again K-9."
    He trundled after her. "Affirmative Mistress."
    As they entered the ship, Romana hefted his prone form onto the flight chair and strapped him securely, using the safety straps in an unorthodox fashion. Once the straps were tightened, the figure seemed to be rousing. Romana raised a hand to K-9, urging him to hold fire now that there was no immediate danger.
    The man opened his eyes, then flexed his muscles, attempting to free himself. "What is this? Who dares to bind Grednine, destroyer of the Valannti system, dictator of Augon V, slayer of Kendrick the meek?"
    "You see K-9, first impressions are often correct."
    K-9 whirred round to face the prisoner. "Affirmative Mistress. Should I inform the life-form designated 'Grednine' of the consequences of hostile action?"
    Romana looked at Grednine for a moment. "No, I think he has a pretty good idea of what you're capable of. Now," she addressed the prisoner, "I've managed to fix your time-drive enough to get you off of this planet and back to wherever it was you were when you came here. Have you any idea of the chaos you've caused?"
    Grednine was staring at K-9, snarling at the machine. K-9 in return did his best impersonation of a real dog, snarling back.
    "Come along K-9, there's no point trying to reason with him." He followed her from the ship, Romana closing the door with a quick buzz from her sonic screwdriver. Another press, and the ship vanished from view.
    "There, time should snap back just like..."

    The blackness of space as he looked on all sides. Galactic Law Enforcement ships surrounding him once more. No, not once more. The same as before. Only this time he was strapped to the chair, no arms to pound the controls.
    No escape.
    He watched in vain as the shots were fired, no hope left to him.
    A blinding white light, and justice was served.

    "...that!" finished the Doctor. "Though I think we'd better be off, don't you?"
    Romana looked at him, still wearing the ridiculous outfit that he'd taken from...she remembered – he wasn't dead this time. She turned her head to see the real fortune teller glowering at both of them from the doorway to the tent. He clearly didn't recognise them, and from over his shoulder Romana and the Doctor saw a burly strongman heading towards them.
    "Did I ever show you the back door to this tent?" the Doctor asked, as K-9 blasted a small hole in the fabric.    
    They hurried through, into the open doors of the TARDIS that lay beyond it, closing the doors as soon as K-9 motored over the threshold.
    "Doctor," said Romana, "please promise me one thing?"
    The Doctor looked up from the controls after setting the craft in flight. "What's that?"
    "Don't ever dress like that again!"
    The Doctor's eyes widened. "All those clashing colours? Of course not!" He smiled. "Not my style at all!"

No comments:

Post a Comment