He was seven feet tall and all naked. His people, the Margtig, did not believe in clothing and Martha prided herself on taking this in stride. She couldn't resist tightening the belt of her coat, though.
He spoke. "Welcome to the Caverns of the Margtig! My name is Zess and I'll be your guide today." He took a protective face mask out of his chest strap and put it on over his peach-sized eyes. Martha could see him smiling behind it. "First, of course, I'm going to guide you through the gift shop."
The Doctor grinned and Martha groaned. She had to fake her own death to get him out of the shops on Ackk Prime and even then he left reluctantly. They followed Zess's enormous naked rear into the cave, shuffling obediently along with the other tourists down a narrow stone corridor and around a bend.
Everyone gasped and Martha put a hand to her mouth as the corridor opened up.
Good god, the colors! The brilliance! The prisms as huge as elephants reflecting the sunlight as it streamed in from the heights! Rainbows... no, 'rainbows' didn't do this justice. Martha felt as if she could shower in the incredible beams. She held out her hands and was almost surprised there was no weight to the wonder. Lovely. Lovely. Lovely.
As her first shock wore off she looked around closely and noticed that right smack in the middle of the room were several shelves, barrels and tables full of merchandise. This was the gift shop?! The commercialism and the immense beauty was a wild contrast and, appropriately, Martha wanted to laugh and cry at the sight. Everything was in white. Bags, boxes, tables, shelves, even the food was white. The better to reflect the radiance she supposed.
The Doctor was smiling up at the glittering stalactites and Martha admired the way the light fell on his hair and played along the sharp angles of his face. She dropped her eyes. "Amazing," she breathed.
"Yes," Zess was smug. "This is one of the minor side-rooms. All the Caverns are holy but this one isn't so holy that we can't have a lovely selection of souvenirs in it. You'll be truly astounded by the rest," he promised.
"Breaking us in easy?" Martha asked and Zess smiled again.
"Just so. You're not the type that faints are you?" Martha shook her head. "Good, you wouldn't believe how many people I've had to carry out of here." She chuckled and he raised his voice. "We'll be here for six bips!" he announced to all.
"Guh!" said Martha eloquently and turned to her escort. "Doctor, if this is a minor cavern a major one is going to kill me."
He had wandered over to a large rack of wind chimes but he turned back and smiled. "I don't want to spoil the ending...well, actually, I do. I don't want you to be disappointed," he said. He sidled over to her, looked around, and bent down to whisper in her ear. Martha felt his breath and hid a pleasant shiver as best she could. "The center of the Caverns, the very Holiest of Holies, is a plain, grey stone chamber. Inside is a dusty pit called the Chasm of Righteousness and the bottom is covered with brittle, old bones."
"People bones. The Margtig, uh, used to be sticklers for being correct in the eyes of their gods and the ruling Council. Drafty place. Drafty, dull place. Drafty, dull, depressing, despicable place. Drafty, dull...!"
"Drafty, dull Doctor? I'm not!"
"You said you'd never been here before?" Martha asked patiently. Good thing she often wanted to climb the tall, maddening alien like a tree. Otherwise he'd drive her daft. Daft Doctor. Daft, dizzy Doctor. Daft, dizzy, delirious, delightful Doctor. She realized he was answering her question.
"We weren't here, no, but there. Staring down into the Pit. We wanted to see THIS but all we got was a tour of THAT. Disappointing. Despicable. Dangly..."
Martha cleared her throat. "We?"
He nodded absent-mindedly. "It's a good story. I'll tell you later. Anyway, the journey is what's important here, not the destination, believe you me. And I think we have only 4 bips left!" He quickly took off towards what looked like confections. Smiling, Martha began to explore, too.
She looked over the heaping mounds of food and sweets but she didn't take any. The Doctor usually loaded himself down with goodies and he shared freely. She also disregarded the shelves of historical tablets and the dust catchers; crystals, carvings of the current Council etc. She wandered into what looked like the children's area.
There were dolls there, representing the heroes and villains of the planet, and she looked them over eagerly. None had clothes and she shook her head. Half the fun of dolls was dressing them up! But that was not proper among the Margtig. Ah, well. She examined the soft 'n fuzzy Dragon Guardian of the Fifth level, several warriors dripping with weapons and the Sorceress of Peeeel. Strangely a quartet of pink humanoids in chains seemed to be very popular. She idly read the names on the holo-label (Soozin, Een, Dogder and Barbah) and was reaching for them when she was distracted by a flicker of motion out of the corner of her eye.
She turned and saw a far shelf full of goggles. They were all rimmed with whirling, blinking lights and, like a moth to a flame, they easily attracted her. She picked one. Its label read: See everyone as righteous! See what they ate for lunch! See their bones! Only five rezrs for this educational marvel! Martha blinked and then laughed out loud. A nearby Vorpi, a species that didn't laugh, took the bizarre sound as threatening and scuttled far away from her. Martha slapped a hand over her mouth but laughed harder until she slowly controlled herself.
X-Ray glasses! Or goggles, actually. Oh, that brought back memories. When she was four years old she used some of her precious Christmas money to buy a pair of X-Ray Eyeglasses at a joke shop. She was going to see! See everything! She was going to see guts and bones and the inside of ant hills and the differences between boys and girls and what her Grandmummy kept in that enormous handbag. All the secrets of the world would be hers.
Oh, her bitter disappointment when they didn't work. The lenses were just colorful celluloid film that distorted her vision. Bah! Humbug! Her father had to buy her a gelato from Sanguini's to stop her crying. Being robbed was still a pain that lingered. She ran the goggles around and around in her hands and smiled at the wrath of a bilked four-year old girl. Who's to say that wasn't the inspiration behind her deciding to become a medical doctor? The thwarted desire to see into everything? To know?
She grinned and slipped the goggles over her head.
The Doctor was talking animatedly to Zess about the historic fall of the 7th Council of the Margtig, who had lost face when four prisoners made a spectacular escape (the Doctor tried and failed to look modest) from their death sentence, when the two became aware of a heavily breathing Vorpi behind them. Zess stepped away as if a rat had run over his foot but the Doctor leaned down. "What is it?"
"Your woman is causing a most devastating furor!"
"My woman? I don't have a...OH! You mean Martha! Martha doesn't cause furors, what are you talking about?"
A crash sounded from the far end of the gift shop. There was a shriek and then whooping laughter. The Vorpi bristled at that and turned to complain some more but the Doctor and Zess were already gone.
Zess had longer legs but the Doctor arrived in the children's section first. They were met by a sight that made the Doctor boggle in wonderment. At least a dozen adults were wandering through the toy department with glowing goggles over their eyes. They were staring at each other or falling over toys or squealing or giggling or all of the above. Martha was right in the middle of them, her goggled eyes just inches away from the chest of a huge, furry being that could've removed her spine with one swipe. It was looking down at her head through goggles of its own. "I CAN SEE YOUR BRAIN!" it shouted and Martha laughed with sheer joy.
A small green woman walked head on into a crystal pillar and bounced off into Zess's arms. "Oh! Oh! Pardon me!" she chirped.
"No injuries. But what's happening?" Zess asked pleasantly, making a show of dusting her off.
"Actinic Spectacles!" she gasped. "That work! The tall lady found them." Her goggles blinked furiously as she caught sight of the Doctor. With an "Ooooh!" she adjusted the focus. She grinned. "Hello there!"
"Er. Hullo. MARTHA!"
She turned towards him and made a standing leap of delight. Right off hand he couldn't remember anyone ever doing that at the sight of him before. "Doctor! Everyone! Look at the Doctor! He has two hearts!"
Her fellow tourists turned their blinking, glowing faces towards him. Many general equivalents of "Ooooh!" went up from them. They were a veritable firing squad of curiosity and the Doctor clutched at the lapels of his overcoat as if to pull it closed against their wonder and approval. He stopped himself just in time. Martha stepped close, her goggles so bright he blinked at them. She raised her hands and placed them gently on his chest with a smile of sheer bliss. Then her gaze traveled down. Suddenly "What is that?!" she exclaimed, pointing at his groin.
"The corkscrew looking thing! It looks like a pig tail."
"It does NOT." Belatedly he remembered a Gallifreyan vestigial thingy matching that description and located in that general area. He gasped in relief. Martha was examining his internal organs. "Oh, that! It's just there, like the human appendix."
She took a step backward as if to take him all in at once and went sprawling over another, not so neurotic, Vorpi. The fur-covered behemoth also took a step too far and landed heavily on top of her. Right before the Doctor's marveling eyes there was quickly a five alien pile-up next to the toy sword section and he and Zess waded in to disentangle everyone.
"The danger of these toys," Zess explained to everyone, "Are the tricks they play with your perception. You think you can see everything but..." There was a terrible jingle, jangle, jingle as the green woman got tangled in the wind chimes. "Please remove them for your safety," Zess finished as he went after her.
"Take 'em off!" the Doctor yelled as he dove to the rescue. A few reluctantly obeyed but others only took them off one eye. They resembled blushing pirates with luminous eye patches.
The Doctor dug and dug and, pulling the huge muppet up, hit gold at last. Martha was unmoving on the floor. Worried, he gently removed her goggles. She snatched them back without even opening her eyes. He stopped worrying. She drew in a ragged breath, "They work. They actually work," she groaned. She took his arm and slowly crawled to her feet as well as she could while clutching her find to her chest. "What a fantastic diagnostic tool! I could wear these in the emergency room. The time saved taking X-rays!"
"Too advanced for the Earth of your time. And you'll look pretty silly with flashing pince-nez strapped to your head."
She held a finger to her lips. "They'll think I'm an eccentric genius."
"No, they'll think you're mad. Mad, I tell you!" he answered. She nodded. He shook his head. She nodded harder. He threw his body from side to side. "NO!"
"They're coming with me nevertheless!" She laughed. "They're a dream come true."
The Doctor grinned back. He was used to Dependable drifting into Disappointed Martha but Delighted Martha was a rarity. Delightedl Martha! Delightful, dependable Martha. Delightful, dependable, delicious, desi...she was blushing now. Oops. He dropped his eyes to the goggles.
She put them back on and adjusted the focal settings. "Now turn your head and cough."
"Get away from me!"
"No! Stop that!"
"Six bips! Let's go!" Zess called from the entrance. The Doctor ducked under his arm and eagerly ran in where once he ran out.
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