Over the Hills and Far Away

by drox [Reviews - 5]

  • All Ages
  • None
  • Crossover

Note to my loyal beta-readers: Sorry I didn't test-run this by you. You might have tried to talk me out of it. Note to other readers: Please don't kill me. Disclaimer: The usual. I own none of this and I'm not making any money from it. The Doctor and related miscellany (TARDIS, etc.) are copyright (c) BBC, which thus far has been kind enough not to put a stop to our innocent fun. The rest remains nameless enough that I'm probably not in violation of any of Ragdoll Ltd.'s copyrights. I hope.
Over the Hills and Far Away

He'd been walking for what seemed like hours. "Seemed" was the operative word, he reflected - it couldn't possibly have been that long. He was losing track of time. A disturbing sign, especially for a Time Lord. Like so much of this place was disturbing.

Not in the usual way, of gurgling vats and hissing monsters. There wasn't a poorly lit corridor or drippy dungeon to be seen. If anything the landscape was too idyllic, the colours too bright. Emerald green hills undulated gently from horizon to horizon, interrupted only by clusters of flowers in reds and yellows that seemed far too intense to be natural. As if the sun over this world shone with a different sort of spectrum than his Gallifreyan eyes were used to.

Something else was off about the sun: He knew it was impossible, but from somewhere in the back of his mind came the insane notion that it was watching him. Surveilling him. He shook his head as if to dislodge the irrational fear and continued his walk.

Then he saw it: a slender tower in the distance. He increased his pace toward it. So there is intelligent life here, he thought. Or was. No way to tell how old the tower was from this far away. Maybe it was a relic of a civilization long dead. He put a hand to his forehead and squinted to try to make out details. Something seemed to be moving near the top of the structure.

When the tower was still distant he saw the first signs of animal life. Superficially the creatures resembled the rabbits of Earth, but as he approached he found that they were the size of bull mastiffs. He was relieved to see they were content to nibble the too-green grass and the too-bright flowers. Carnivores of that size with the speed of rabbits would be more than a match for a Time Lord alone and unarmed. The ground shook as one of the enormous bunnies hopped past at a leisurely pace.

Now he could see the tower more clearly. The motion he'd noticed around its top was the spinning of four pointed vanes. The tower was a kind of windmill. Just as he was beginning to wonder what it might be powering he came over the top of a ridge and saw the Dome, looming alarmingly close.

It sat in the valley like an ugly scab, and the Doctor felt his vague uneasiness about this place coalesce into a tightness in his gut. The Dome was disturbing in an entirely different way to the crayon-box colours of the hills and sky. A great bulging wart of vulgar technology scarring the too-perfect scenery. He wondered how it had come to be here. A crashed spacecraft was his first suspicion.

From inside the Dome came the sounds of an argument. High pitched voices chattered insanely. Though it wasn't clear what they were saying (where were the TARDIS's telepathic circuits when he needed them?) it was clear that there was a serious dispute under way inside; one that might conceivably lead to bloodshed. Even as every instinct in his body screamed for him to stay away from this horrible place, his mind insisted that he must intervene. However sinister their technology appeared, the people inside were in some kind of trouble. It was his duty to investigate, to help where he could before people got hurt. The Doctor took a deep breath and ventured in.

He walked past slab-like beds that reminded him unpleasantly of the alcoves Cybermen used when they needed to conserve their energies. There were four of them, and they were empty. He didn't fancy his odds if he rounded the corner straight into four Cybermen.

At least he knew what to expect from Cybermen. What he saw before him was completely unfamiliar. Four plump cybernetically-enchanced creatures turned to face him, dismay on their faces.

At least it wasn't hostility.

To call the creatures humanoid would be to stretch the word to its breaking point. True, they were bipeds, with the usual humanoid arrangement of two arms, two legs and one head, but there the resemblance ended. Their faces were markedly neotenous, with enormous eyes that seemed to stare into the Time Lord's soul. He found it impossible to tell where their clothing left off and their flesh began... or even if the unbelievably bright material covering them was clothing at all. They had more cybernetic implants than any beings he had ever met, short of the Cybermen. All of them had electronic devices embedded in their abdomens, and each of the four had an antenna grafted to the top of its head.

Despite the antennae, the creatures communicated with vocalizations, though he could comprehend very little of what they were saying. The big purple one approached cautiously, grumbling and gesturing at him. Even without understanding the language, he could tell the alien was distressed. The other three, green, yellow and red, were distressed too, chirping nervously at each other and repeatedly pressing a button on the sinister-looking machine that dominated the room. They then took turns running round to a slot on the side of the machine and gazing expectantly at it. All that emerged was the mournful clank and rattle of a mechanism too long neglected. The Doctor was about to offer them all jelly-babies when a shower of sparks erupted from the dying machine and a loud bang echoed through the Dome. He threw himself to the floor just in time to avoid being decapitated by a heavy metal panel blown free by the explosion, and reminded himself to never let the TARDIS fall into such disrepair.

Smoke poured from the ruined device, filling the room and making the four alien beings cough uncontrollably. At least it made them easier to find through the smoke thought the Doctor as he drifted through the haze tending to the stricken creatures. Amazingly there were no serious injuries.

The creatures were inconsolable. The green one kicked furiously at the burnt-out shell of the machine; the purple one stormed about frantically chattering, while the yellow one held the little red one close as they both sobbed and wailed. The dead device, however menacing it had appeared, was obviously very important to these strange people.

After he'd satisfied himself that no one was hurt, he decided to examine what was left of the mechanism. He moved slowly and made soothing noises as he approached -- the green alien hovering beside it was still very agitated. Eventually it turned and stumbled off, joining the others in a sad group hug. It was all very touching.

Sprawled on his back, as he did when he had to get at some of the more deeply embedded systems of the TARDIS, the Doctor dug into the machine's soot-coated innards to inventory the damage. He'd seen worse on his own ship and was confident he could lash up a quick 'n' dirty repair. He rummaged through his pockets for his sonic screwdriver. As four pairs of alien eyes studied him, he began his work.

Hours later -- it seemed like hours though his sense of time was still skewed by this strange place -- a tired and disheveled Time Lord emerged from the underside of the infernal machine. His fingers were grease-stained and burnt and his face was smudged with soot, but there was a look of triumph in his pale eyes. He bolted the panel back in place and stepped back, smiling.

The little red creature with the circular antenna walked to the button and pressed it. The machine rattled and shook, but the four colourful beings did not seem alarmed by the sound this time; rather they seemed comforted by it. Finally with a noise like a snapping spring, the slot dispensed a large pinkish disk, which the creature gleefully stuffed into its toothless mouth. The aliens hooted and danced with joy, crowding around the Time Lord and immobilizing him in a multicoloured embrace.

After sharing their feast of pink disks the Doctor said his farewells to the four aliens. They waved their arms wildly at him as he walked away from their Dome. He waved back. Once again he had saved the day -- the strange colourful beings would surely have starved without his timely intervention. As he made his way back across the too-green hills past the rabbits and the windmills he still couldn't shake the feeling that the sun was watching him. This time, though, it no longer felt menacing.