The Doctor strolled around the console room of the TARDIS in a daze. He was exhausted. In fact, he was very exhausted. He had just barely escaped only moments before from a collapsing underground cavern filled with Cybermen. Now, he was at last getting a chance to catch his breath and breath easy. That is, until a small red light on the console began to blink.
Swiftly, the time lord made his way toward the warning beacon. Once there he only needed to see the gauge beside it to know what the problem was. The needle, which normal read between eight and ten, had fallen almost all the way to zero. It was painfully apparent now that his swift departure from the Cyberman had overtaxed the engines in the TARDIS. "Oh dear," he lamented to himself as he began to scan for a good place to land and conduct repairs.
It did not take him long to pick up a small ship passing by a short distance away. "Hello, what's this," He reaching over the console to begin the landing sequence.
Suddenly the entire ship began to rock violently back and forth as the engines attempted to reenter normal time space. In a matter of moments they had succeeded. This, however, resulted only creating a worse type of shaking than before. In fact, had the Doctor not already been clinging to the side of the consol he would have most likely found himself rolling freely from side of the ship to the other.
This continued on for several seconds after TARDIS had completely materialized until the captain of the vessel at last turned off nearly all of the systems. "There," he said as he patted the controls gently with one hand, "That wasn't so bad was it?"
With no answer in sight from the spacecraft the Doctor moved himself over to a small lever on the opposite side of the panel, took hold of it, and pulled. Behind him a small piece of the wall rolled upward revealing a view screen allowing him to see into outside world.
The room in which he had landed was almost completely dark. The only source of light emanated from several dim lamps positioned strategically about the ceiling revealing several boxes and crates that were scattered across the floor. They were arranged, it appeared, in no particular fashion except that they all seemed to surround the TARDIS almost completely so that nothing else was visible.
The Doctor's curiosity was peaked. He flipped another switch this time opening the door to the TARDIS and stuck his head out to better observe his surroundings. Seeing no one, the timelord jumped back into his ship where grabbed a long black coat, a wide brimmed felt hat, and a very loud scarf.
None of these items served as an extraordinarily spectacular example of fashion and when placed upon the Doctor's person look even less so. In particular, his coat was more than old and was beginning to unravel in several places leaving long threads hanging loosely from several places. More over, the pockets of the garment were torn along their seams so that there was only a slim chance that they would not fall off. It did, at least, have the virtue of covering the slightly tattered stark white shirt that the time lord wore underneath.
This was also obscured by his scarf, which was flung around the Doctor's neck at any given temperature. Not only did it cover the old shirt by its mere presence but also, anyone looking at it was sure to be distracted by a wave of color. Reds, yellows, greens, and every other imaginable color was woven into it making it look as though the time lord had simply torn off the very end of an afghan and draped it round himself. It hung all the way to the floor, trailing behind him as if it were a poor puppy in search of a home. Often it would spoil an otherwise ingenious disguise.
The hat, although it was nearly white with lint, was in considerably better condition. It had no rips in it what so ever making it surprisingly sturdy considering the number of adventures it had survived. It also seemed to show no ill effects of the dust and dirt that had attempted to settle on of it during its last few moments with the Cybermen.
Then, to make things look even stranger, when it was positioned on top its owner's head it gave the most mysterious of impressions. The wide brim stretched out over the Doctor's face, which at times, gave off a sense of class. At the same time, however, the condition of the other garments made one wonder what class the man belonged to.
Once all of these things were gathered up and put on the Doctor stepped eagerly out of the TARDIS and began to explore his new surroundings. For some time he made his way through the room, poking about here and there as if he were looking for something. The only trouble was that he didn't know exactly what.
Finding nothing of interest, however, he started to make his way back to the TARDIS to consider his next course of action when he passed a large crate that he had somehow overlooked before.
Normally, he would not even have bothered to stop and examine it except that there was a low vibrating sound coming from within. Filled with curiously, the time traveler gently slid his hand down the side of the crate. His heart pounded from the vibration as if he knew that it was a bad omen. His curiosity was peaked, what sort of thing could be in there?
He tried to theorize an answer but could come up with nothing. The only way to find out, he reasoned, was to open it. That was another problem, though, for he did not see any sign of a device with which to open the box. He searched skillfully around in all the nooks and crannies for any semblance of such an object found nothing that would help him. What he did find, however, was small smattering of dried blood near the bottom. Carefully, the Doctor reached down and flaked some on his finger to examine.
Just then the cargo bay doors swung aside revealing two silhouettes in the outer hall. Quickly, The Doctor ducked behind a large box and peered over the top to observe the two mysterious persons. As they stepped into the room they revealed themselves as a young man and a young lady.
"We shouldn't be here," whispered the girl as the doors shut behind her.
"Shhh!" The boy looked around cautiously for signs of life. "I know," he replied when he was satisfied that no one was about, "Isn't it great?"
"Great?" the girl repeated exasperatedly, "you're going to get us both thrown into the brig."
"Look, Maria," the boy said as he slowly made his way toward the Doctor's position, "I have to know what happened the captain and why we were banned from being in here."
The young lady shook her head. Up until now she had thought that her co-worker's ignorance had simply been an act but after his last statement she wasn't so sure. "You have to know what happened to Captain Henderson?" she repeated almost sarcastically," he died because a metal beam fell on his head."
"That's what Commander Barrows said," Explained the boy, pointed to the ceiling, " but does it look like a metal beam fell on him?"
The girl stared intently upward but the tall gray ceiling above her was almost too dark to see. The only illumination present emanated from the set of lights that hung half way down from the top of the room. Maria squinted, attempting to make out what it was that her companion was pointing to. Through the darkness she could barley make out a system of metal beams that stretched across the room. They all appeared normal.
"Besides," Dave continued to explain, "we weren't too far from here when it happened. Wouldn't we have heard it if a beam fell?"
Maria gasped in disbelief. She could not believe what she was hearing. "Are you saying that the commander is lying?" she asked turning her gaze back to her co-worker.
"I'm not saying anything," continued the other, "except that something very strange seems to be going on."
Maria could not really disagree with the boy. After all, there were no beams missing that she could see and she was that they would have heard one fall. Even so, she was not ready to accept that her commanding officer was covering something up. It was a curious situation. "Alright," She sighed, "but let's be careful."
Just then the Doctor, stood up from his hiding place and approached the two youngsters. He had seen and heard the entire conversation and was now fairly satisfied that they were not any sort of a threat to him. "Excuse me," he said, trying to attract duo's attention as he made his way forward.
The snoopers jumped with fright. "Who's there?" Maria yelled with a start. Whirling around, she scanned the dimly lit room carefully for the owner of the voice. It did not take long for her to spy the shadowy figure creeping forward from dark. "I knew you were going to get us in trouble," she whispered to her companion, thinking that it was another crewmember sent to guard the room.
Dave rolled his eyes shiftily. "Um, oops," he exclaimed sheepishly, "I guess I didn't count on there being a guard."
Annoyed, the girl slapped herself in the forehead with her bare hand. She was just about to chastise the boy for not taking the whole situation more seriously when the Doctor finally came into view with his hands raised high above his head in case he was wrong about the strangers being harmless to him. "Excuse me," he asked genially as he approached, "but do either of you know where I can obtain a Class four inversion circuit?"
Maria crossed her arms in front of her and grinned evilly at the advancing time lord. "Well," she said confidently as if her position on the ship was far more important than it actually was, "it looks like we've caught ourselves a stowaway."
"A STOWAWAY!" the Doctor thundered. Rarely, had he been so insulted. "I assure you, child," he responded, "that is not the case."
"CHILD!" Maria screamed back. Now it was her turn to be insulted. "I'll have you know-"
"Wait a second," Dave interrupted, trying to stop an all out verbal war before it began, "He can't be a stowaway. We did a cargo check not two days ago and the captain and Commander Barrows did one yesterday as well."
"SO," asked the young lady apathetically, "what's your point."
The boy shook his head in disappointment. It surprised him that his co-worker, who had been so level headed in the past, was now acting so exasperated. Perhaps the captain's death had affected her more than she let on. Whatever the reason he now found himself in a position of being the cool headed part of the duo and he wasn't about to relinquish it, at least, not yet. "So," he said, repeating his partner's apathetic retort, "where has he been hiding?"
"I don't know and I don't care!" Maria snapped back at her cohort, "He isn't a member of the crew. What else could he be?"
The Doctor smiled slyly. "I can assure you," he said, lowering his arms, "that I am no stowaway. Even if I were I doubt that you would actually report the matter to anyone."
"And why not," asked Maria, glaring sternly into the Doctor's eyes.
The Doctor, meanwhile, extended his hand into his pocket and brought forth a small white sack. Reaching inside, he produced a small piece of candy. "Well," he began as he popped the sweet into his mouth," if my hearing is correct you mentioned that you would be thrown into the brig if you were found in here, correct?"
"I guess you've got us there," Dave snickered. At the same time he threw a knowing glance at his partner.
Angrily, Maria began to sputter out a great deal of nonsense, hoping that no one would catch on to the fact that she was only succeeding in burying her argument deeper and deeper by the second. It did not take her long to figure out that her tactics were failing miserably. So, being overwhelmed by the frustration of the whole situation, she turned authoritatively on her heel and stomped out of the cargo bay.
For a moment, Dave stared at the Doctor in quiet awe. His co-worker was usually so forceful and intelligent that only the most intelligent of people could out debate her about anything. It was truly inspiring. At least it was for that one moment for in the next he burst forth into a roar of laughter.
"Would you care for a sweet?" asked the time lord when the young boy had, at last, nearly regained his composure.
"Thanks," remarked the other as he pulled a piece of candy out of the bag. Carefully, he held it up to his eye for a closer examination. "What is it?" he asked curiously.
"I believe," remarked Doctor, "that they are called jelly babies."
Intrigued, Dave popped the candy into his mouth expecting to experience a sweet and fruity taste much like the treats that he remembered from his childhood. Instead, however, it was bland. For a moment he completely forgot what it really was. He was sure that it somehow he must have been a piece of tree bark.
The boy's face immediately contorted itself into a horribly evil expression of torment. "It's stale!" he cried as spit the candy out onto the floor.
"I suppose it's not surprising," remarked the Doctor, sniffing the contents of the bag, "I found them in a compartment in my ship. There is no telling how long they were in there. It reminds of the time-"
"Wait a second," Dave interrupted, trying to get the Doctor to stop rambling, "where did you say you found those." Suddenly something had clicked in his mind that he had not thought of before.
The Doctor stared at the boy in deep curiosity. "In a small compartment in my ship," he answered now holding his product up to one eye for a close inspection, "Well, I don't know if you could really call it a compartment you see-"
Before he could finish his explanation, however, by Maria finally came whirling back into the room as if she were the captain herself. "I've made up my mind," she announced as she marched purposefully across the floor, "and I don't care if I do end up in the brig you are a stowaway and it's my duty to report you."
The Doctor lifted an eyebrow. "In that case I shall just have to leave," he said, turning on his heel and sauntering back to where he had come from.
"Hey!" yelled the young lady after her prisoner, "Where are you going?"
"I think he's going to his ship," Dave explained through a series of snickers and chuckles.
Quickly, Maria shot a menacing stare in the boy's direction as she shot off after the Doctor who had just disappeared around a darkened corner. "Now look here," she yelled as authoritatively as she could, "there is no way a ship of any kind could get in here so why don't you just admit..." Her voice trailed off as she gazed past the alleged stow away to what was standing behind him. "Where did that come from?" she asked, half in awe.
"Ah, yes, that would be my ship," the Doctor explained smugly, twisting around to face the would be security guard, "It's the same one that you were explaining can't get in here."
The young skeptic strolled up to the object and began examine the "ship." It did not look like any ship that she had ever seen before. In fact, it looked more like a large blue crate to her. But how had it gotten into the cargo bay. She was sure that it had never been there before. The only explanation that she could think of was that was, indeed a spaceship.
Suddenly a dark thought began to penetrate the girl's mind. The captain was dead and the first officer was badly shaken up. Now, standing before her was a man who somehow seemed to have access to the cargo bay and his own ship.
"I call it TARDIS," the Doctor continued, completely oblivious to the dark thoughts of the young lady, "Time And Relative Dimensions In Space."
"Well," Maria shyly, " I guess you're not a stow away after all."
In triumph, the Doctor thrust his hand deep into his pocket and, after a moment of fiddling here and there with his fingers produced another piece of stale candy. "Of course I am not a stow away," he said in a most irritating voice, "why would someone with his own ship need to stow away?"
Maria smiled brightly. She was had him just where she wanted him now and she was going to bust him with it too. Unfortunately, before she could she was cut short by the sound of the cargo bay doors opening. This was followed, seconds later, the voice of Commander Barrows.
"STANFORTH?" called the first officer angrily, "Where in the universe are you?"
"I'm back here!" she called back still eyeing the stranger with an evil grin.
The Doctor lifted his left eyebrow. "I see you were serious about not caring about the brig," he said, "slipping yet another candy into his mouth.
"I don't have to be," the girl declared in her most commanding voice. "I know who you are and what you've done. I'll probably be rewarded for finding you."
Just then Barrows came storming around the corner with Dave in tow by the collar. His face was curled into a frightful scowl and he was breathing heavy from rage. But, before the officer could question the two miscreants or to inquire about the stranger in his midst Maria began to explain the situation.
"I'm glad you're here, Commander," she began, trying not to look to too nervous in his presence, "I think I may have solved the mystery of who killed Captain Henderson."
The Doctor peered down at his hand. A small amount of blood was still clinging to the very tip of his fingers and he suddenly realized that he was the suspect.
For his part, Commander Barrows contorted the bottom of his face into something resembling a smile although anyone would be hard pressed to call it genuine. "Please, enlighten me," he said still half enraged. Without a word Maria quickly raised her arm and pointed it directly at the Doctor.
"You don't know that!" Dave yelled, attempting to release himself from the commander's grip.
The Doctor folded his arms and gazed out over the three people in front of him. "When will I learn to not be so trusting," he asked himself.
Curious, Barrows released the boy, sending him falling hard to the floor, and stepped forward to inspect the stranger. Then, after a moment, he moved to one side and began to look over the TARDIS. Slowly, the scowl began to disappear from his face. "Miss Stanforth," he said at length, would you be so kind as to call for security for me?" Maria nodded and trotted back into the maze of boxes with Dave close on her heels.
"You must be Commander Barrows," the time lord declared reaching into his pocket. Once again he produced the white bag of candy and placed yet another into his mouth. "I'm known as the Doctor. Would you care for a jelly
The officer's face crinkled once more into a scowl. He slapped the bag out of the traveler's hand sending small bits of colored candy streaking across the floor as if someone had shattered a rainbow. "Well, that was uncalled for," said the Doctor still chewing on the candy.
Meanwhile, in the corridor, Dave attempted to chase down Maria and hopefully figure out what exactly was going on inside of her head. The girl, however, simply trotted along, oblivious to the calls of her companion. When she did finally stop it was next to a small metal box that hung tightly to the ship's bulkhead. Then, still ignoring her co-worker, the young lady opened the box and depressed a small button that was hidden inside. "Security to the cargo bay," she ordered.
"What do you think you're doing?" Dave questioned as he ran up the girl.
"Calling for security," answered the other with a look of near puzzlement, "just as the commander ordered me to."
The boy looked deep into fiery eyes of his friend. He could not believe that she would ever follow any order as blindly as that. "But you don't know that he actually did anything," he pleaded.
"Please say that you aren't that naive," Maria announced as she flew back toward the cargo bay.
"And what's that suppose to mean?" Dave asked as he perused her.
Instantly, Maria stopped and whirled around to face her companion allowing her long dark hair to fall across one eye. At the same time the other eye danced with a great fire and in the midst of it a small spark was sent out toward the young boy igniting a little fire of its own with him.
On the other hand, the girl was considering far more different ideas. "It means," she said, "that there is a man in the cargo bay who wasn't there last time we were, has access to his own ship and the cargo bay and the commander seems to suspect the there may be some connection to the captain's death."
Dave's head dropped. The evidence seemed logical but there was something he still wasn't sure about. The Doctor, at least to him, did not seem like a murderer. He was just about to voice his concern on the matter too, when two security guards rushed past them toward the cargo bay. Suddenly, Maria and Dave dropped their conversation and followed the two men to see what would happen next.
But it was too late to discuss it now. The two guards rushed into the cargo bay with their side arms drawn as if they were sure that they were going to be attacked. Two seconds later Maria and Dave followed and they all flew on back to where the others were.
As soon as they had stepped into view Barrows sprang into action. "Arrest this man for the murder of Captain Henderson!" He yelled, throwing a finger toward the time lord.
Without a word the guards grabbed the Doctor, who was too stunned to struggle or even run, by each arms and began to escort him out of the bay.
"Not you," Barrows yelled at the escort on the prisoner's left arm. The guard immediately detached himself from his captive and holstered his weapon. Leaving the remaining guard to continue on.
"Make sure no one comes near this thing," the Commander instructed pointing toward the TARDIS. The guard nodded and made his way to the ship where he took his place with folded arms determined that no one should pass.
Off to the side Maria stood smiling heartily in hopes of a commendation. Dave, who was still slightly confused by the matter, stood next to her gazing back and forth between Commander Barrows and the guard
wondering what he should do next.
Now the first officer turned his attention toward both of them. Slowly, he moved toward the youngsters, his face still featuring the same scowl it did a few moments before. "And what did you think you two were you doing?"
Maria's smile plunged from her face as she realized that a commendation was not in her superior's mind. "W- we were ah, inspecting the cargo," she stuttered.
"You were ordered not to come in here," Barrows explained, straightening his shoulders, "you are confined to quarters for the rest of the voyage."
Dave folded his arms and looked directly into the commander's eyes. "Then who is going to clean the ship?" He asked smugly.
The commander was not amused. In fact, he was quite irritated. "Maybe you would rather be in the brig?" he asked, leaning into the boy's face.
The young man swallowed hard as a forced smile penetrated his lips. "No sir," he conceded, "our quarters will be fine." And with that, he grabbed Maria by the hand and, as fast as he could, exited the cargo bay before anything else could happen.
As soon as they had gone the officer laughed quietly to himself as he turned back toward the mysterious crate and tapped it with his palm. "Amazing, isn't it," he asked the guard who was now staring alertly beside the TARDIS. "How do you suppose that thing got in here?"
"Do you even know who he is," the guard replied. Barrows shook his head, "I haven't a clue but we needed someone to take the fall. I think he called himself the Doctor."
Just then the crate began to shake violently causing the commander to take his hand off and backed away as if it were a bomb. "DOCTOR!" an electronic voice rang out, "The Doctor is here!"
In curious terror the guard drew his weapon and approached the box to investigate. As he did the front end cracked, then splintered, and finally broke in two. Then, a laser pierced the air knocking the guard back several feet.
"What are you doing?" Barrows yelled, "This wasn't the plan."
The electronic voice rang out again, "The plan has changed. The Doctor is here!"
"But it's too early," the commander pleaded, "We must wait!"
"Do not argue. You are here only to serve us. We are superior. We are the Daleks!"