“You’re going to love this!” the Doctor beamed as he spun the temporal coordinate wheel with a flick of his wrist and then waltzed around the console to hit the handbrake delivering a burst of energy to the time rotor that pulsed up and down with a familiar wheeze indicating they were in flight.
“Where are we going?” Donna implored, his excitement was contagious, making her feel like a child on a day trip.
“Best party in the sector,” the Doctor announced confidently. “Maybe even in this galaxy.”
“A party?” Donna was sure that she must have misheard.
“Yep.” The Doctor grinned. He knew he’d picked well. When Donna had asked for something that was fun and didn’t involve running from monsters he’d thought of it first and was sure she’d have a fantastic time. Even if the party wasn’t exactly his cup of tea, she deserved some fun, what with Pompeii and the Ood. He’d spent some time on the planet in his fourth generation and it was a good place to head back to. He knew he could entertain himself, so this was the perfect place for Donna to recharge, have some fun, and meet some aliens not wanting to kill them, turn them into slaves, or generally wreak havoc with their plans for exploration.
“What kind of party?”
“It’s a celebration of life and birth and all things good.” The Doctor sounded wistful for a moment. “Like Christmas, New Year, birthdays, and Harvest Festival all in one but for the whole planet all at the same time with the coming of the rains.”
“Hang on a second? The rains?”
“Mendarix 4,” the Doctor commented pausing to make sure Donna knew the significance of the rain. “It’s a colony planet. It was terraformed, oooo a couple of thousand years ago now, and the colonists programmed the planet so that every 17th cycle the rain comes. It rains for a full cycle and that provides all of the water for the next 16 cycles, filling the reservoirs the irrigations systems and the water tanks across the planet. They have all kinds of water collection systems so the water is contained and saved, and it means it only rains once a year! The rest of the time it is tropically warm and sunny providing the perfect climate for agriculture and for tourism and…”
“Hang on a second,” Donna thought she understood. “You’re taking me to a planet that has tropical sunshine for 16 cycles, whatever a cycle is, and rain for one, and it is the rainy one you’re taking me to?”
“A cycle is like a month except there are 17 of them each year and there are 56 days in each. I’m taking you to the party Donna, believe me, you’re going to love it,” the Doctor insisted. His spirits were not dampened by Donna’s concern about it raining. At least the first half of the party was going to be held indoors. The TARDIS landed and the Doctor grabbed his coat from where he’d left it slung over one of the corals, pulling it on as he went to the door, pausing with his hand ready to open it. “Every year at the same time at the start of the 17th cycle the rain comes at high point and it marks the start of great annual feasts. There is a riot of colour, aromas and fragrances to die for, music that can either set the hearts pounding to its rhythm or move you to tears, the richest food, the sweetest of honey wines, and the dancing, and…” He could see that Donna was starting to get more engaged and his smile was as wide as his head as he pushed the door open.
They should have been just inside the foyer to the great hall the venue for the greatest aspect of the greatest party. If his friendship did not span a half dozen faces then his psychic paper would gain them VIP access and afford them all the luxuries Donna deserved. He closed his eyes as he opened the door, to give the initial view its full impact as he expected all eleven of his senses to be assaulted at once with the celebration. It was just past high point local time, of midday as Donna would understand it, and the rain should have been hammering down outside signalling the start of the party.
Instead of the golden hues and drapes and the tables laden with as much food and drink as could possibly be consumed and the minstrels playing harmonic chords during the meal the great hall was drab and dull and only dimly lit.
“Oh?” the Doctor poked his head out of the door and stepped out into shadows cast against the light streaming in through the upper level windows.
“So, where’s the party?” Donna asked curiously.
“Um, it should be here,” the Doctor was concerned. They were there at the right time, it was just? Where was everyone?
Sitting on the edge of a long central banqueting table was a man. He had his feet cocked up on the edge of one of the velvet covered chairs and his head in his hands as his elbows rested on his knees. The Doctor was unsure if he’d ever seen such a monument to loss and disappointment, not beyond the mirror anyway.
“Hello?” The Doctor approached him. It was not until he got close enough to him to see the tattoo above his right eye did he recognise the man, had it been so long since he’d been there? Age had tanned his skin and greyed his hair beyond the youth he’d come to know. “Cal?”
“No one has called me that for a long time.” The man sounded incredibly tired as he raised his head to look at the Doctor.
“Caluntangrax Colternsill High Regent of the Mendarix 4 Northern corridor,” the Doctor gave the man his full title just to show there was no intention of rudeness or disrespect.
“Have we met? I’m sorry, I, I don’t think I know you.”
“Oh, come now, Cal?” The Doctor smiled and slapped him on the shoulder. “It’s me, the Doctor. I look a bit different from the last time we met, but it’s still me.”
“It can’t be?”
“It is,” the Doctor offered. How many times did he have to go through this with people that failed to understand the process of regeneration, or, more fairly with people who had no idea or comprehension of regeneration because he failed to tell them that it might happen. “Remember, back in the day, when it was thought that the Taldrani stole the sacred stones and murdered your brother, but Sarah Jane and I discovered that it wasn’t the Taldrani at all it was an internal threat designed to bring about conflict between your two planets.”
“I remember.” Cal slid down off the table and turned to the Doctor. “Is it really you?”
“You dropped one of the sacred stones, the third stone in the concordance, it has a nasty chip on the bottom of it,” the Doctor whispered gravely. “Has anyone noticed the chip yet?”
“It is you,” Cal realised his astonishment plain to see.
“Yep, really me, and this is Donna. My travelling companion and friend,” the Doctor introduced Donna who had been standing somewhat patiently not fully understanding how anyone could not remember the Doctor, regardless if time had passed she was sure that no one else could be as skinny!
“It is an honour.” Cal bowed slightly toward Donna. It was so formal that it made her blush slightly.
“Um, thank you.” She was not sure how to respond to that. “The Doctor said you were having a party?” Donna wasn’t going to waste time beating around the bush. The Doctor had promised colour and food and music and dancing, not a sad looking man sitting on an empty banqueting table.
“There will be no festivities,” Cal announced and bowed his head in great sadness.
“What has happened?” the Doctor asked kindly putting his hand on his old friend’s upper arm. He could feel the fear and pain radiating from his friend as if it were tangible. It felt as if he was in the highest state of grief and mourning. The empty hall looked to have had the initial preparations for the celebration started and then halted.
“The rains have not come.”
“Doesn’t look like it is going to rain any time soon either, does it?” Donna commented and indicated up to the windows. “Blue skies up there; not a cloud in sight.”
“But?” The Doctor puzzled. “Have the satellites malfunctioned?” the Doctor asked Cal.
“Our science team are working on it,” Cal admitted. “But, they do not understand it. The satellites are functioning. There is moisture in the air. It is just as your friend indicates by the clearest of blue skies, the clouds do not form. Not a single cloud in the entire sky,” Cal sighed. “If the rains fail us? Our cities, our fields, our entire planet will fall barren in a single cycle.”
“And worse still, no great feast and party?” Donna prompted. Cal let out a tired chuckled and smiled at Donna. “I am sure that the Doctor would be willing to have a look at your satellites?” Donna prompted, offering his services, though the Doctor had already pulled his sonic screwdriver out of his pocket.
“Any assistance you could give us in this matter would be most grateful, Doctor. I fear that should the rains not come then we will be required to evacuate the colony.”
“Oh, I am sure it’s not that bad, is it?” Donna offered trying to sound positive. “They’re not going to have to leave the planet just because it doesn’t rain are they?” Donna asked the Doctor, but his expression was grim as he regarded her telling her that it was that bad, if not worse. “Seriously? Just because it hasn’t rained?”
“The planet was terraformed, Donna. That means a habitable surface was created on an otherwise uninhabitable planet. The systems are all kept in equilibrium, but that balance is delicate, if it goes too long without water then the dominant systems will present and the planet could revert quite drastically to its natural state,” the Doctor advised.
“What was it like before?”
“A toxic desert.”
“That doesn’t sound very appealing,” Donna offered. “You can help them though, right?” she checked with him. “It’s not like Pompeii is it?”
“It’s not like Pompeii,” the Doctor assured her. At least she was beginning to understand that if he could have stopped that happening then he would have. “I will see if I can do something,” the Doctor announced seriously. “But first!” He leapt up onto the top of the serving trolley at the side of the hall. “I will have to try to understand the problem,” the Doctor advised. He jumped from the trolley to a dressing table and then up onto a tall gilt cabinet. He clambered over the pelmet and onto a great wall mounting and then up to one of the high window ledges. He opened the window by hand so he could take samples from the atmosphere.
“You know you could have simply used the door had you wished to venture outside,” Cal called up to the Doctor.
“Door?” The Doctor peered down from his position twelve foot above their heads. “When did you have the door fitted?”
“There has always been a door, Doctor, you have just never elected to use it,” Cal advised him with a tired sigh and looked to Donna. “He may have a different appearance but he has not changed. Must he always do everything the most complicated of ways?”
“Yeah.” Donna chuckled. “He will do what he can to help you.”
“Then we will be indebted to him twice over.”
“Is there anything that I can do? I am no good with the science stuff, but, I would like to help if I can?” Donna asked him not wanting to be left a spare part.
“I am afraid that unless the rains come there is nothing anyone can do.”
“Then I will remain here with him and direct him to the door,” Donna commented as they heard a series of ‘ohs’, ‘ahs’ and ‘of courses’ from above them as the Doctor hung out the window scanning the environment with the sonic screwdriver. He pocketed his screwdriver and then slid down one of the large hanging curtains, getting his foot caught in a golden tie back and almost landing on his backside at the bottom. Donna shook her head at him as he regained his balance, freed his foot, and then tied the cord back in place neatly.
“Can you take me to your laboratories?” the Doctor asked Cal.
“Do you know why it has not rained?” Cal asked him.
“Because there are no clouds, of course,” the Doctor commented casually. “So the question you should be asking is… why are there no clouds?” He paused waiting for Cal to ask him the question, but the man was worried and concerned about the future of his entire planet.
“Doctor,” Donna scolded with her tone as she was more sensitive to Cal’s fragile emotional state, but she humoured the Time Lord fairly sure his genius needed a platform to function. “Why are there no clouds?”
“It is funny you should ask that, Donna,” the Doctor started. “There are no CCN in the atmosphere. The air is too clean.”
“How can the air be too clean?” Cal didn’t believe that for a moment. “Our air purification systems were updated ten cycles back following some minor but long-lived volcanic activities. We upgraded to remove the ash cloud and restore aerial transport routes.”
“The system is too effective. That is why there is no rain. The air is too clean.”
“I don’t understand why clean air means it won’t rain?” Donna admitted. “I thought clean air was a good thing.”
“Clean air is a good thing as opposed to dirty air, but this air is too clean. It’s as if it’s been totally sterilised. There are no CCN in the atmosphere at all.”
“What are CCN?”
“They are Cloud Condensing Nuclei. They are the tiny particles in the upper atmosphere that are the core to every droplet of water. Without those nuclei the water vapour in the atmosphere won’t condense to form the clouds, and, if it won’t form clouds then it’s not going to rain. That is why the rain has not come,” the Doctor commented.
“Can you do something about it?” Cal asked.
“Yeah, course I can, easy.” The Doctor extruded confidence. “Show me through to the labs. We’ll have this fixed in a jiffy. All we need to do is turn the purification systems down, deliver some CCN to the atmosphere, and perpetuate a chemical reaction into the upper stratosphere that will replenish the CCN and keep the rains coming for your cycle,” the Doctor advised Cal. “So, show me through to the labs and then get those fires stoked, we came here for the best party in the sector and we plan to have it!”
“If you make it rain it will be the best party in the galaxy!”
Cal quickly showed the Doctor through to the laboratories. They were held in an adjacent building so there was not far to travel to get there. Donna and Cal both sat on tall stools at the side of a disused work bench as the Doctor introduced himself to the science team working on the problem as to why there was no rain. There was some brief exchanges of information and then the Doctor removed his coat, threw it toward Donna, and pulled on an offered lab coat as he got to work.
Four hours later Cal had excused himself to his duties as High Regent and to explain the delay in the rains. Donna was no longer sitting on the stool, her backside had gone decidedly numb after the first hour so she’d alternated between sitting and standing, but now she had given up on that too. She was sitting on the floor at the side of the lab, using the Doctor’s coat as a cushion - whether he liked it or not. Not that he noticed either Cal’s departure or Donna’s misuse of his favourite coat since he was so engrossed in the work they were doing.
“Doctor?” Donna groaned. “How much longer are you going to be? When is it going to rain?”
“Soon,” the Doctor mumbled around a bit of glass tubing that he was holding in his mouth as he used one hand to decant some liquid into a conical flask and was bleeping it with his sonic screwdriver with the other hand.
Another two hours passed. Cal had sent someone to make sure that Donna and the Doctor had food and drink and she graciously accepted a meal of broth, bread, and a honey sweetened lemonade which was tasty, but not the promised feast. So much for the party of a life-time? Here she was sitting on the tiled floor of a massive laboratory, which frankly was a bit draughty for her liking, watching the Doctor haphazardly mix chemicals do little tests and exchange results and using horrendously long words that she had no hope of understanding in full, though she had got a bit of a gist.
The first problem was that the filters in the air purification system had to be completely redesigned in order to remove toxic ash particles from the volcanic eruptions while not removing the CCN that they were going to reintroduce. Once again preventing the volcanic eruptions was not a plausible option so they had to work on the filters. Then they had to decide what the best molecules would be in order to create a sustainable supply of CCN. Then they had to decide how to get that into the atmosphere.
Eight hours after they had arrived on the planet and when Donna was sure she should have been so close to being partied out that it might possibly have been bed time, the Doctor straightened up from the bench where he had been working on an intricate looking device for some time.
“I think that is about it,” he commented. He didn’t sound as enthusiastic about the work or as confident as he had done when he’d walked into the lab eight hours previously. It had turned out to be a much more complex problem than he had first anticipated. Several times he had thought they had the combination right, but then simulations would either show that it failed to rain, that it rained once in a deluge that flooded the planet and overran the water collection systems, or, that the rain was tainted with dissolved minerals and poisonous.
“Are you done, Spaceman?” Donna asked him.
“I believe so,” the Doctor confirmed. He picked up a small spherical device. It was made of glass and in two halves. In one half there was a turquoise liquid and in the other side there was another liquid, but Donna could not describe the colour. It was as if they had managed to liquefy and capture a rainbow as all colours known swirled and marbled within the glass. It was quite beautiful.
“What is that?” Donna asked mesmerised by the shimmering oil on water patterning.
“It’s a complex mix of hydrocarbons,” the Doctor explained. “When this is launched up and triggered the liquids in the two sides will mix and start a chain reaction which will reintroduce suitable particles into the atmosphere for water vapour to begin to condense and form clouds.”
“And then it will rain again?”
“Yes it will,” the Doctor confirmed and then grinned. “And, then there will be a party to be had!”
“About bleedin’ time!” Donna exclaimed. “Do you know how long it has taken you to sort this out?!” She put her hand on her hips and gave him her best angry face.
“Amazing isn’t it?” One of the scientists misunderstood. “He has completed work that would take us a full cycle as a minimum to decipher in only one afternoon. The only puzzle remaining is how to supply his wonderful device to the skies.”
“Another puzzle?” Donna groaned and looked to the Doctor.
“No, not at all, I just need to speak to Cal again for this one,” the Doctor commented and then looked toward the head of the scientists. “Might I beg attendance with the High Regent? I believe he may still have the answer to our problems.”
“Why is it a problem?” Donna asked the Doctor.
“This device is extremely delicate. In order to fashion a device that would launch it into the atmosphere safely would risk it being set off at launch and at ground level, and while that would still have the desired effect eventually the higher we set the system off the better. If it went off at ground level then the initial cloud formation would be at ground level. It would take longer to form rain clouds and it would get very foggy,” the Doctor explained.
“So you need to get it as high as possible without being able to launch it?” Donna asked. “Can’t you just take it up in the TARDIS and lob it out the door?” she asked him.
“Hmmm, I’d not thought of that.” The Doctor looked at Donna and cocked his head thoughtfully. “That is a superb idea,” he agreed. “And, it would work well, but, there is the slightest of possibilities that the temporal emissions of the TARDIS engines whilst in actual flight could interfere with the mechanism. It is unlikely, and if Cal is unable to assist in another matter then it is worth the risk, however, there is an option that I think you will find quite spectacular.”
It was only a few minutes before Cal came back into the room. He seemed brighter than he had done when leaving the Doctor to try and sort out their planet risking problem. He’d dressed more appropriately to his rank now there were guests, wearing a royal purple gown over the top of sky blue trousers. It was bright but somehow not garish. He had chains of gold around his neck which reminded Donna of something a Lord Mayor would wear on parade, but was neither over bearing nor gaudy.
“You look quite splendid,” the Doctor complimented Cal as he came back in, obviously relieved to see his old friend more in keeping with his own self.
“Professor Naylix suggested to me that you are close to solving our issue, but that you require my assistance? I am not sure what I am able to offer you, Doctor. I am to science as you are to diplomacy,” he commented with a smile hinted with mischievousness that made Donna chuckle.
“I’m not sure I know what you mean,” the Doctor feigned insult.
“What may I do to assist, Doctor?”
“I was wondering, Cal, I know it is several years since I was last here.”
“Twenty four,” Cal advised him.
“Really? That long? Doesn’t time fly,” the Doctor commented absently. “Do you happen to still have access to the Northern corridor tower?” the Doctor asked him.
“You mean my 1000 metre viewing platform?” Cal asked him.
“No, I’m sorry, Doctor. That was dismantled over a decade ago.”
“Oh, well, that is disappointing.” The Doctor sighed. “We will still be able to deliver the package or so to speak. I can do that utilising the TARDIS, but I would have liked to have shown Donna the view from the platform at the same time.”
“I don’t have the 1000 metre platform any longer,” Cal repeated. “But, I did commission a 1500 metre platform in almost the same spot.”
“On such a clear day you will be able to see right across to the Plaurest Peaks,” Cal commented.
“Then perhaps you would like to lead the way?” the Doctor prompted.
“How long will it take to rain after you have delivered your package?” Cal asked him.
“Half an hour, an hour at the most,” the Doctor advised.
“Wonderful.” Cal announced. “Then, I shall give the order for the festivities to commence on our return.”
As the High Regent Cal normally had to travel with a contingent of security officers to ensure his protection. With the Doctor and Donna there a single guard and two of the more senior scientists accompanied them. They walked through the palatial building and out the other side to a glass corridor that snaked down through impressive gardens and to a tower that extended up 1500 metres.
“I hope you’re feeling fit,” the Doctor commented as he linked arms with Donna. “1500 metres now you say, Cal? That has got to be, blimey, 6000 steps at a minimum.”
“6000 steps?! Are you kidding me?” Donna stopped in her tracks she was all for getting up high, but 6000 steps? That was going to kill her and they were supposed to be there for a party — not a sky hike!
“He pulls your leg,” Cal announced. “There is a draw shaft.”
“It’s kind of like a lift,” the Doctor explained for Donna’s benefit.
“The gardens are beautiful,” Donna offered. “Can you not get out into them separately?”
“Yes of course,” Cal offered. “I can arrange a guided tour for you and the Doctor if you wish. We only travel through the tunnel to the platform base as it is the most direct route. It is just ahead.”
They arrived at the base of the tower. The lift itself looked a little like a large glass and steel bullet. There were twelve seats around outside edge of the bullet, all of which had shoulder straps that clipped in as a safety harness. The safety aspects of it made Donna feel a little nervous, but the Doctor seemed keen and he jumped into a seat and fastened the harness by hooking his arms through it and then pulling it down and clipping it into the front of the seat between his legs and then pulling it tight. Cal did the same. Donna took the seat next to the Doctor. She put the safety harness on the same way as he had. The scientists sat across the other side of the bullet lift and put their harnesses on. One of them seemed to have taken a white knuckled grip on the arms of his seat as if he was afraid of what was about to happen.
“You ready?” the Doctor asked him.
“Ready for what?”
“To be shot 1500 metres upward.”
“Are we ready to go?” the security officer checked. He had not taken a seat but was standing at the controls. He seemed much calmer than he should have done if they were about to be shot upward. He entered the instructions to rise and then took his seat, calmly putting his harness on as they heard some mechanical action beneath the giant bullet. The glass around the bullet frosted.
“Oh, why can’t we see out?” the Doctor sighed.
“We learned that the additional height and speed caused sickness when passengers were able to see the structure clearly as they rose. The glass becomes clear again once we reach the viewing platform,” Cal assured him.
They started to move. It was clear they were moving quite quickly, but Donna was not sure why the scientist looked so scared or why the safety harnesses were so elaborate. She was sure she would have been able to stand and not have lost her footing. It took a couple of minutes to reach the top. Once the bullet lift had stopped the security guard got up first and operated the controls in order to secure it at the top and the windows became clear again.
“Oh, wow?” Donna unclicked her harness and went to have a look out the window opposite.
“You don’t need to stay in the capsule,” Cal advised and hooked it open. They walked up a narrow helical staircase onto a platform above them that gave them a wonderful panoramic view. The edge of the flooring was glass as well, though the area they walked on was solid to ensure that no one got the jitters when able to see straight down 1500 metres.
“Is that the sea?” Donna asked. She could see for miles and miles over coloured hills and forests and as far as what looked like it had to be the sea except it was the kind of turquoise that was only ever seen in a holiday brochure.
“Kind of, but you’d not want to go paddling there,” the Doctor offered. “It’s a result of the terraforming and a reservoir for the soluble toxins that were in the atmosphere. That is one of the reasons why it is imperative that it rains. If the ocean becomes too depleted then it will reach a critical point and start to release the toxins back into the air.”
“Our most recent surveys indicate that this would happen within two cycles if there is no rain fall,” the head scientist advised the Doctor and Donna as he joined their conversation. “We have been looking at ways of neutralising some of the toxins or creating stable non-toxic substances with them that we could utilise.”
“Maybe the Doctor could help with that too?” Donna suggested but then hastily added. “After the party.”
She had seen the way that the Doctor had worked in the labs and though it was way above her head and it had bored her to the point where more than once she had dosed off she had also seen the way that the Doctor had become so entirely engrossed in it. He had been challenged in a way that did not involve immediate danger and running and it had kind of suited him to see him crouched over texts with his glasses on and a pencil poking out the side of his mouth. She could tell that he felt good about what they had done. She hooked her arm through his. “If you want to stay a few days and help in the labs then I am sure there will be enough to keep me occupied,” Donna offered.
“You’d not mind?” the Doctor checked and Donna shook her head. He’d have liked to spend some time with Cal as well and he knew that once the issue was solved that Cal would be the most gracious of hosts and ensure that Donna was catered for and entertained. He turned to look at Cal. “Would we be able to remain a few days?”
“You are always welcome to remain as long as you wish, Doctor,” Cal confirmed. “If this works and causes it to rain then you will have saved our lands for the second time.”
“If it works?” the Doctor pouted. “Of course it is going to work.”
They spent a few more minutes looking at and discussing the view. It was beautiful and as Cal pointed out the features of the landscape to Donna, the Doctor looked out over the land with the scientists and they discussed the areas where there was evidence that the terraforming was beginning to fail. It might take more than a couple of days to ensure that the planet was safe. That was the problem with terraforming the harshest of environments, some systems just were not permanently stable. Two thousand years, each of 17 cycles, was the equivalent of three and a half thousand Earth years. It was a long time for the systems to last but they were going to need some renewal in order to remain sound.
“Okay, then, let’s get this show on the road,” the Doctor commented. He moved around to what he thought was the best point, though really there was no other reason than he liked the view over into the mountains. He walked out over the glass section of the floor. It was perfectly secure and safe, but Donna still felt nervous for him. He went right to the edge and used his sonic screwdriver to unlock one of the glass panels which then slid down. It was windy 1500 metres up. He had not taken that fully into account. The direction of the wind when he opened the window caused the air to rush in at them. He did not want to release the device in that direction after all or all the chemicals would just blow back at them. He wanted them to get released into the atmosphere not back in the viewing tower.
He closed that window and selected another, not directly opposite the one he had opened but on the other side of the platform. “How are you going to launch it?” Cal asked the Doctor.
“Any electronic launch system would risk the delicate nature of the device. So, we’re going to go for a natural launch system,” the Doctor advised. “If you would allow me the honour?” he asked Cal.
“The device is yours Doctor and the honour is ours,” Cal assured him.
“What are you going to do?” Donna asked.
“Oh, I am going to operate a sophisticated series of natural motions in the most basic of processes of projection and…”
“You’re going to lob it out the window?” Donna checked and the Doctor grinned and nodded.
“I need to get it as high and as far away as possible,” he offered. “And, I’m going to be able to throw it further than you Donna, I have a good arm; done a fair bit of bowling in my time, and Cal’s species have a slightly different skeletal musculature that would limit the length of their throws,” the Doctor advised. “So, here goes.”
“Just get on with it, already?” Donna chuckled as the Doctor shrugged his shoulders and stretched his neck from one side to the other.
He knew that he was showing off slightly, but everyone had to admit his work was impressive. If Donna actually knew all the things that had gone into the small device that nestled in his palm then she would have been more impressed as well. Still, he hoped she would be impressed when they immediately saw clouds start to form. He had to make it the throw of his life though. He had to angle it upward and get as much distance on it as possible.
The Doctor took a few steps backward so that he could have a run up. He checked the device one last time and set the timer on it to get it to activate in ten seconds time. He then took a run up and with all of his effort and strength he threw the device.
They all watched the device, listening to the Doctor roar with the effort of his throw. Donna had to admit he got an unbelievable distance on it. She wasn’t sure what was supposed to happen and she thought that it had all gone wrong when the device simply broke up in the air. She was about to offer her condolences to the Doctor who had taken to kneeling on the floor to watch it. She assumed because he was aware that it had failed. Except the two scientists appeared to be celebrating and jumping around.
Neither Cal or Donna truly knew what to expect, but it looked like there was a wisp of smoke in the air as the fractured device broke up and then started to fall down to the ground 1500 metres below them. The smoke wafted away on the wind, but then there appeared to be more smoke. It bubbled up out of thin air, and only then did they realise that it was cloud formation. White wisps of cloud stretched out on the wind, they darkened and swirled as the chemical reaction got going and more and more water from the humid air condensed into the clouds.
“It’s getting cloudy,” Donna realised.
“You’ve done it!” Cal exclaimed. The two scientists hurried over to their High Regent. “The rains are coming!”
Donna grinned at the Doctor, but she was surprised to see that the Time Lord was still kneeling on the floor at the edge of the platform, watching the clouds forming more and more rapidly. The atmosphere had been laden with water vapours that needed to release and now it was going to quickly be raining in their location. The wind would carry the CCN across the globe and the water vapours would condense and within a day or so it would be raining across the whole planet as required. It was a success.
“You did it,” Donna congratulated the Doctor.
“Yes, I did,” the Doctor agreed without looking round.
“I thought you would be more pleased,” Donna commented. “Is it working as it should?”
“Yes, it seems to be,” the Doctor offered in a short clipped sentence.
“Are you okay?” Donna checked with him.
“Yes, yes, I’m fine,” the Doctor insisted. He attempted to bounce up to his feet but he seemed to be moving somewhat gingerly to Donna.
“Are you sure you’re okay?”
“I’m fine,” he confirmed. “I think it is time we got going,” the Doctor suggested. “It’s going to be rainy pretty soon,” he announced. He went back in from the viewing platform and started to work on the controls on the bullet lift. He worked casually, a single hand dancing over the control panel confidently. “Are you all ready to go?” he checked with them. They all went back into the bullet lift and took their seats. The security guard went over to the Doctor to take over the controls. “I’ve set them, take your seat, I’ve got it.”
The security guard took his seat and the Doctor operated the lift. He didn’t go and sit down and harness himself in but he remained at the controls during the journey down. Cal spent the trip down talking to Donna about how brilliant it was that it would soon be raining and that as soon as the first drops fell it would be the start of the party and that they were going to have a wonderful time and that the Doctor had rescued them. Donna was only half listening. She watched the Doctor where he stood in the centre of the lift. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but something was wrong, she knew it. He looked pale. She hoped he wasn’t sickening for something.
When they got back down to ground level the Doctor secured the bullet lift and then just started to walk out without waiting for the others.
“You seem troubled?” Cal commented as he caught up with the Doctor. “Has it not worked as you planned?”
“It has worked exceptionally well,” the Doctor assured him. “It has triggered cloud formation without a catastrophic cloud burst. It should begin to rain within the next half an hour locally and then spread across the planet to restore the natural processes. The chemical reaction set is such that it will continue to produce CCN in the atmosphere to permit for the rains to come in the coming years. The science team have access to all my notes for future reference if there is further issue, but there shouldn’t be now the purification filters have been altered,” the Doctor explained.
“High Regent, if I may interrupt?” the security officer asked. He had his finger to his ear as if he was receiving some kind of message. Cal left the Doctor keeping pace as he went to discuss formal matters for the coming festivities with the security officer.
“It sounds like it is going to be one Hell of a party,” Donna commented as she fell in beside the Time Lord.
“Usually is,” he agreed though it was without his former enthusiasm.
“What is wrong?” Donna asked him.
“Nothing.” He remained focused, looking ahead of him, striding forwards and not looking toward Donna despite feeling her gaze burning into the side of his head. They had made it through the glass corridor in the gardens and the skies were turning grey with rain filled clouds ready to drop their load.
They walked through the grand hall again, this time there was a hive of activity as large spiralling chandeliers were brightly lit to illuminate the activities as the banqueting table was rapidly being set ready to accept covered dishes of exotic vegetables, grains, and hulks of rich roasted meat. The smells from the kitchen brought saliva to Donna’s mouth and she realised just how hungry she was. The sandwich brought to her a few hours previously had done little and the Doctor had not stopped to eat at all.
“Is that making you as hungry as it is making me?” Donna asked him. It was odd that he was not jabbering away to the point of distraction, and, he didn’t seem to be taking in any of the festivities. He was heading straight through the hall and toward the foyer where the TARDIS was. Surely he didn’t intend on them leaving before the party after all of this? They were only having a party because of him, because he had fixed the problem of it not raining, and, he had fixed it. A roar of merriment and relief rose around them as the first splatters of rain hit the high windows.
“It’s raining! You did it!” Donna exclaimed. “Doctor?” Donna got a couple of strides ahead of him and turned to face him just before they got to the entrance into the foyer. “We’re staying for the party aren’t we? You’re not just going to fix the rain and then leave? What about your friend? Cal will be disappointed and I’m starving, and you promised a party?”
“Donna.” The Doctor sighed. He paused as she faced him. “Just… come on, would you?”
“No, we’re here to have a party,” Donna argued. “Your friend is expecting you to stay for the party. You can’t just up and leave now.”
“Why are you so moody all of a sudden?” Donna demanded of him. “I don’t get you sometimes. You’re all best party in the galaxy, you fix everything, and then now there is going to be a party you’re all moody!”
“I’m not moody.”
“Then what are you?” Donna asked him.
“I’m…” he started, but then sighed. “I’m going to the TARDIS.” He went to walk around Donna to get back to his ship. Donna was annoyed with him. He knew that and he supposed he didn’t blame her. She was not finished with her argument though, and as he went to bypass her, she caught his arm to stop him.
He’d got all the way down from the viewing platform, he’d got all the way along the glass corridor, and he’d got all the way through the grand hall, and now, in the start of the foyer where his TARDIS was right there? The Doctor hollered in pain as Donna grabbed his arm. She released him instantly, horrified and immediately upset that she’d hurt him, and he tried to slam his defences back down again.
“Doctor? What did I..?” Donna wasn’t going to let him get away with that. “You’re hurt?”
“I’m fine,” he snapped at her which was quite ridiculous. He could not get his defences back down and his body had taken over and he was now holding his right arm clamped across his middle, guarding it with his left over the top, rather than letting it hang loosely at his side in the hopes that no one would notice.
“Doctor, please?” Donna didn’t know where to touch him again.
“I’m going to…” He tried to stride around her to get to the TARDIS, but the unhindered pain seared through him. It made his senses swim and start to sparkle at the edges.
“Whoa, easy?” Donna switched from angry, to concerned, to maternal in a flash as she saw him pale even further. He was swaying like he was about to keel over. All around the foyer to the Grand Hall there were plush velvet covered gold lacquered chairs and two-seater settees. “Come and sit down.”
“Donna that is really not…”the Doctor started to protest, but then he groaned and allowed Donna to guide him to the closest pew, which happened to be one of the two-seaters. “Just for a moment, then,” he accepted as he sunk into the soft cushions.
“What’s wrong, Doctor? Now I know you’re hurt so you better just tell me or I’m going to prod you all over until you yell,” Donna threatened.
“Not so good at cricket,” the Doctor commented weakly. He groaned, trying to adjust the position he was sitting in, but it was no good.
“Doctor?” Donna rubbed his leg. It was his arm that was hurting him.
“I’m pretty sure I dislocated my shoulder.”
“What? When did you do that?!”
“Throwing that device. Obviously not got such a good arm as I thought.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Donna was appalled. “Dumbo.”
“I didn’t want to worry you. I could control the muscle spasms and get back to the TARDIS and see if I could get it back.”
“You wanted to try to put it back yourself? Can you even do that?”
“I don’t know…” the Doctor admitted. “…not now. Spasms have kicked in, and, blimey, Donna?” the Doctor grimaced and bowed his head but that stretched his neck which stretched his shoulder and that caused the muscles to tighten further and his arm to be wrenched even more awkwardly away from the socket.
“Do we need to fly off and go and get Martha, or, is Cal going to have a proper doctor who can fix it?” Donna asked him. “Do you want me to get you in the TARDIS and call Martha?”
“Cal’s physicians should… be more than capable.”
“Then you just sit there and I will go and get him. Do not think about going anywhere. If you end up falling over then it is going to be even worse,” Donna warned him. “Do you want one of those cushions to rest your arm on?” Donna asked him seeing the way that he was trying to hold himself. She went and grabbed a cushion before he’d had a chance to answer and she eased it into his lap. “See if that is any easier. I’m fairly sure you should be trying to relax.”
“I am trying.”
Donna kissed the Doctor lightly on the top of his head and then went back into the Grand Hall. There were more people gathered there now than there had been previously and it seemed that Cal was the centre of attention. Being the High Regent many of the invited guests wished to converse with him in order to gain some kind of social standing, a fact that both amused and frustrated him. That was one of the reasons why he was so relieved to see Donna. It meant the Doctor had not simply left as he had feared. He was a friend that gave very little regard to his rank and standing and while that troubled the courts it felt somewhat liberating.
“Donna!” Cal raised his hand to her, managing to excuse himself from the throng of men and women attempting to curry favour. “Great news! The scientists have confirmed that the rain is here to stay! And it is reaching the usual level. The ground is already bearing signs of saturation and our local collectors have activated. Where is the Doctor, I must bring the news to him. He truly is a marvel. I am relieved to see you. I feared that he had simply left, though I must admit to not understanding his apparent change in heart.”
“He hurt himself,” Donna commented. “When he threw the device out the window,” she elaborated to Cal who now looked highly concerned. “He thinks he dislocated his shoulder. Fool didn’t want to worry anyone, but it has got too painful for him to hide now. Do you have a physician who could come and tend to him?” Donna asked.
“Where is he?”
“Just through the door there,” Donna advised.
Cal hurried through with Donna. They found the Doctor grimacing and rocking slightly, still holding onto his right arm with his left and unable to relax into the cushions. When he realised that they had returned he attempted to appear less pained than he was but it did not wash with either of them.
“High Regent, I beg audience with…” a man followed them out. He stopped in his tracks and looked at the Doctor. “He is seated as a Colternsill!” he exclaimed indicating towards the Doctor. “How dare he?! I shall call security at once.”
“Halt,” Cal instructed. “This man is a member of my family in life if not in blood and it is in my sight and by my judgement that he be permitted to remain seated as such,” Cal advised the man. “Now be gone and do not disturb me again.”
“Sire,” the man bowed slightly and backed out though he still seemed unhappy.
“Do… I need to… move?” the Doctor asked. He did not want to cause Cal any trouble if he was sitting in the wrong place.
“No, of course not,” Cal assured him. “Why did you not say you were injured?” He shook his head slightly. “I shall fetch the Colternsill family physician,” Cal advised. “He will require sight of your shoulder, Doctor. Perhaps Donna could assist you in removing your jacket and shirt?” Cal suggested.
“Okay,” the Doctor breathed. Cal hurried back out.
“So, we need to get your jacket and shirt off then?” Donna checked as she knelt down in front of him rather than taking a seat beside him. “You’re hurting quite a lot now, huh?” She rubbed his thigh. “Let me help you take your jacket off?”
“I’m not sure I can?”
“Yes you can, come on, you got all the way here without anyone even noticing. I am so sorry,” Donna sighed. “I should have made you stop straight away.”
“It’s not your fault.”
“Of course it’s not!” Donna exclaimed. “It’s yours for being a stubborn dunce. I bet if you’d told Cal when you’d done it you’d be all fixed by now.” She knelt up and she loosened his tie for him, unhooked it from under his collar, and then took it off over his head. She set it on the seat beside him. “Let’s get your good arm out of your jacket?” Donna suggested. “Let your arm rest on the cushion?” She rubbed his thigh as he did that, but grunted and whimpered as his shoulder moved slightly. Donna took hold of the cuff of his jacket sleeve on his left side. “Pull your arm out and then we can unwind it,” Donna advised. She did it as gently and as easily as she could. He pulled his good arm out of the sleeve and then Donna stood up and eased it from around his back and then down off his injured shoulder and then along his arm following the natural line that it took to move him as little as possible. He grimaced and hissed but did not cry out.
“Let’s do the same with your shirt then,” Donna instructed as she carefully undid the buttons along the front of his shirt. Pulling the tails up out of his trousers before she did anything more. She undid the buttons on both of his cuffs so he’d not get his hands stuck. “I made that mistake with one of my dad’s shirts the first time I helped to undress him,” Donna commented. “Got the shirt all the way off. Took it over his head from the back and then he was left with an inside out shirt stuck on his hands. It was quite a task, but we figured it out together in the end. Now I’m a dab hand at getting shirts off,” Donna advised the Doctor. Hoping that talking to him would take his mind off it for a while.
“You never really talk about your dad,” the Doctor offered.
“Pft, I can never get a word in edgeways when you’re around,” Donna accused. She didn’t take his shirt off over his head as it would pull up into his armpit slightly as she did it, so she held the cuff and he withdrew his left hand and then she unwound it from him again. “How many layers have you got on?” Donna teased as he was wearing a T-shirt underneath. “This needs to come off as well.” She untucked it from his trousers and then she held it so he could draw his good arm out of the sleeve and then she eased it up over his head and then down over his right arm.
“Oh, Doctor?” Donna sighed. She could clearly see his shoulder was not looking good. It made her feel a little bit sick. He was incredibly slim, but, he was not all bone as she had suspected under his shirt. She was actually surprised to see that he had some well-defined musculature over his chest and his abdomen. His left shoulder was muscled and smooth, his right? There was a dent in the front of his shoulder and then a bony bulge across the outside of it. The muscle of his bicep was there but it looked like his arm as actually bent as it hung at the wrong angle. There was some bruising starting to show across the front of the joint and the muscles across the top of his shoulder were so taut they looked like cables beneath the skin.
The Doctor tried to turn his head to see what his shoulder looked like. It was clear from Donna’s expression that the dislocation was visible, but as he tried to turn his head the pain shot up even further and he cried out.
“Keep still, Doctor,” Donna suggested. She wanted to sit beside him and put her arm around him, but she didn’t want to risk hurting him further or cause a scene if she was not welcomed to sit on the settee which was apparently reserved for members of Cal’s family, which from what she gathered, meant that it was reserved for members of royalty. “Is Cal the king?” she asked him as she hunkered down in front of him. She put her hands on his thighs, to balance herself but also to make sure that she was in contact with him.
“High Regent,” the Doctor explained. “It’s kind of like King and High Priest at the same time. He’s the highest authority and it is…” He paused and grimaced. Donna rubbed his thighs. “…it is passed down through his family. Cal was second in line, but his brother was murdered, that was the last time I was here. It was made to look like a species from a neighbouring system had done it. They had taken the sacred stones and killed Cal’s brother, but it turned out…”
“You don’t have to tell me if,” Donna assured him. “Just sit quietly if it is easier?”
“It’s okay,” the Doctor offered once he’d got his breath back. “The attack had been launched by a member of another clan family actually here on Mendarix 4. The action almost triggered an interstellar war, which was their intention, but Sarah Jane and I discovered the plot and managed to convince Cal, who was thrust into the role of High Regent due to his brother’s death that war was not appropriate. We spent some time here. Cal was too young and he was grieving his brother and having leadership forced on him was hard for him, but he is a good man and good men make good kings,” the Doctor offered.
“Or High Regents.”
“Yes, or High Regents,” the Doctor agreed.
“So, you’re mates with the king of this planet?” Donna checked.
“Not of the whole planet. The planet is divided into four corridors. Four areas with equal land mass. And Cal is High Regent of the Northern Corridor.”
It was only a couple of minutes more before Cal returned with his personal physician. He was the best medic in the corridor and had plenty of contacts if more specialist care was required, but Cal knew that he was skilled in returning bones to the correct positions either through dislocation or breaks. His own exploits had led him to need such care in the past and his security officers all engaged in their training with high levels of excitement and frequently required such intervention.
“Doctor, this is Himonax,” Cal introduced the man in his company. “He’s the palace doctor. Himonax, this is the Doctor and, it is fairly plain to see his shoulder needs attention.” Cal commented as he regarded the Time Lord who was now sitting with his chest bared.
“Ah, the famous Doctor,” Himonax commented. “Cal has often told me details of your last visit and now he tells me that you are responsible for ensuring that the rains come,” Himonax advised. “At an apparent cost to yourself.” Himonax put a large leather bag down on the ground and unclipped the top so that it fell open. “I understand that you are not of this world, what can you take in the way of analgesia?”
“No aspirin, no opioids, and no barbiturates,” the Doctor advised.
“Well, that doesn’t leave me much in my standard arsenal,” the medic suggested.
“Do you have anything in the TARDIS that you can take?” Donna asked him. “I can go and get it if you do?”
“In the pharmacy. The TARDIS will tell you which ones,” the Doctor commented.
“I’ll be as quick as I can,” Donna assured him.
“How are you for standard sedation? I’ve got some liquid carisoprodol here. Are you familiar with that drug and can you tolerate it?” the medic asked the Doctor.
“Yes, it’s fine.”
“And, it will work the same way? It will have a muscle relaxing, slightly sedative, and a light analgesic affect?”
“Okay, in that case I’m going to deliver a local dose,” the medic advised. “We can see if we can reduce your shoulder here and then get you through to my treatment rooms for follow up. If not, then we will take you through and have another go there.” He got a syringe out and attached a long needle while he talked to the Doctor. He drew up a large dose of the clear fluid. He put that on the side and then he got a cotton wool ball and soaked that in a strong antiseptic alcohol and rubbed it lightly over the front and the back of the Doctor’s shoulder and then across his bicep. The Doctor tried not to acknowledge the increase in pain. “I’ll give you the drugs now. Try to remain as relaxed as possible.”
“Hang onto me if you need to,” Cal offered and plonked himself down on the settee beside the Doctor.
“I’m okay,” the Doctor murmured hoping that if he said it quietly enough that it would be believed.
“Sharp scratch,” the medic advised.
“Why is it that regardless of the planet a medic is going to tell you that there is going to be a sharp scratch moments before they plunge a needle into the flesh and… aaarrrghhh!” the Doctor cried out as the medic had to hold his shoulder and deliver the drugs into the joint. Cal gripped his hand. The medic gave him three injections, one into the front of his shoulder, one into the top of it, and then one into his bicep.
“There we go, we will just let that work for a moment and the muscles should loosen up,” Himonax advised. “Rest your arm down on the cushion,” he tried to ease the Doctor’s elbow down onto the cushion on his lap but he didn’t want it to go that way yet and there was an instinctive tension that made him cry out again. “How about we try this instead?” Himonax offered. He carefully and slowly eased the Doctor’s elbow away from his body. “Take deep breaths and relax,” he encouraged. He eased the cushion up under his arm. “Try and just let your arm rest down onto the cushion,” he advised. “I am just going to have a feel around your shoulder.”
“Aren’t you going to wait for Donna?” the Doctor fretted not just because the drugs she would bring but because she made him feel stronger and more able to deal with it.
“The sooner we get this back in the better, I just want to see how far you’re out,” Himonax insisted. He put his hand gently over the top of the Doctor’s shoulder, squeezing the tense trapezium muscle in an attempt to encourage that to relax. He used his other hand on the outside of the Doctor’s upper arm in order to try to locate the head of his humerus in relation to where it should have been. It was out by well over an inch and it had moved downwards and forwards in what looked like an awkward anterior dislocation. “You did this with a throwing motion?” he checked.
“Yeah,” the Doctor groaned.
“Were you already injured?”
“Have you dislocated this shoulder before?”
“Okay.” Himonax felt along his collar bone with his thumbs checking for local tenderness and that it was intact beneath his touch. It was only when he got right into the apex of his shoulder that the Doctor cried out at the touch. “I don’t think you’ve fractured the clavicle which is positive, but your shoulder is completely dislocated and with quite a significant displacement,” he advised the Time Lord. “How is your arm feeling? Are you experiencing any numbness or tingling in your arm?”
“No, nothing, it’s okay.”
“And can you feel me touching you here?” He rubbed the back of his arm just above his elbow.
“Here?” He moved to the front of his forearm and got an affirmative. The Doctor could feel all the points along his arm and he could grip his hand so there was no apparent nerve damage associated with it. “I’m going to raise your elbow a bit,” Himonax warned the Doctor. “I just want you to relax. Rest back against the cushions behind you,” he advised. He slid his arm up under the Doctor’s so that his palm was against his upper arm in his armpit. He then put his other hand so that it cupped the Doctor’s elbow. “Take deep breaths, Doctor, and relax the best that you can.” He needed to see how easily it was going to move. He slowly increased the traction that he was apply on the Doctor’s upper arm, trying to pull his shoulder back apart again as he raised his elbow to try and ease the head of the humerus back toward the joint. Even with the muscle relaxant he could feel quite a strong resistance to the movement and the Doctor cried out.
“What are you doing to him?!” Donna demanded as she came out of the TARDIS. “I’ve got his painkillers here!” The TARDIS had provided her with a syringe loaded with an appropriate drug at the right dosage. It was a needleless delivery and she’d been told just to press it to his skin at the top of his injured arm. She had to press it down until the primed syringe clicked and then press the button and it would give him the painkiller. It would not kill the pain totally, but it would reduce it to a bearable level for him. “Let me give it to him.” She made the medic stand away. “I’ve got your painkiller, Time Boy,” she offered. He was white and breathing quickly with the pain in his shoulder. She put the syringe against his upper arm as the TARDIS had told her. She had to press down until it clicked. It was enough pressure that the Doctor ground his teeth and screwed his eyes up as she gave him it. She pressed the button and the drugs whooshed in through the skin. “That should work quickly.”
“Thank you,” the Doctor whispered. “That is starting to feel better.”
“Okay, well, we do need to try to get your shoulder back in for you,” Himonax advised him. “I am going to give it one go here on the off chance that it will go straight away, if not we’ll be heading to the treatment room.”
“Donna, I would quite like your help,” Himonax suggested.
“What can I do?”
“I want you to kneel in front of him. As close as you can get and I want you to hold him?”
“Give him a hug,” Cal prompted.
“I am going to need to pull quite hard on his arm,” Himonax advised her. The Doctor groaned at the thought. Donna wasn’t going to let them do that to him without him having a hug. She knelt in front of him, tapping his knees so he shifted them apart to accommodate her. She wrapped her arms around him.
“That is perfect,” Himonax advised. “Don’t let him move,” he instructed to Donna. He then nodded to Cal as well who also slid his arms around the Doctor to provide a counter traction. “This is still going to be painful, even with the drugs,” he warned.
“I know,” the Doctor muttered. “Just do it.”
“Alright then,” Himonax put one hand on the Doctor’s elbow and the other around his wrist. He slowly eased his elbow up and outward so that his arm was raised at his side. The Doctor groaned and moaned as he did it. His arm did not want to move at all, but the muscle relaxants had worked and the pain relief was helping. Himonax straightened his arm out and then held it up and out with one arm hooked around him above his elbow. He brought his arm forward slightly. Then he used his body weight to pull along the length of his arm. The Doctor cried out.
Donna instinctively tightened her embrace to keep him secure as Himonax tried to wrench his shoulder apart so that he could get it to come back together in the right place. He changed his grip and he rotated his arm so that he was palm up. His shoulder wasn’t going. Himonax angled his arm back down again and tried to lift his shoulder back into joint but the Doctor’s cry escalated as the pain increased. He tried once more, pulling his arm forward and lifting it from behind. The Doctor’s cry stopped and he momentarily sagged against Donna.
“It’s not going to go and he’s fainted,” Himonax advised as he stopped pulling on his arm. The Doctor groaned and whimpered as he started to come round almost straight away. Himonax got Donna to step out of the way. He eased his arm across his chest. “Hold his arm in that position for me, Donna?” Himonax asked keeping the Doctor’s friend involved in his treatment so she would not feel too useless if she only had to stand and watch an undoubtedly painful experience.
Himonax got a roll of crepe bandage out of his kit. He tied one end of it around the Doctor’s wrist and then he passed it around the back of his neck. He took it down the front of his chest and looped it around his arm just below his elbow. He then took the roll of bandage from there back up and over his uninjured shoulder, then down around his back and across his chest. He wrapped it around his arm just above his elbow and then back around him so that it went around his chest his upper arm. He then took it back to his forearm, wrapped it around, knotted it and cut the excess off. It secured the Doctor’s arm completely.
“Just sit there for a moment, Doctor, and get your breath back,” Himonax instructed. He put his things back into his bag. It was clear that his shoulder still wasn’t in position and it was very clear that the Doctor was in pain. He was white as he rest back against the cushions. He was trying to keep his breathing calm and he had his eyes closed. There were tell-tale signs of stress in the pinpoint beads of sweat appearing on his brow. Donna remained kneeling in front of him. She was no longer holding his arm but she gently ran her hand along his forearm. “I am going to go and fetch a wheelchair to transfer him through to the treatment area,” Himonax advised. “Once there we can introduce a more powerful procedural sedative and secure his shoulder.”
“Is it going to take long?” Donna asked quietly.
“No, it should not do,” Himonax commented. “And, once it is relocated it will be much less painful for him,” he assured her.
“Oh, I’m not bothered about him,” Donna advised trying to sound like she meant it. “We’re missing the party.”
“You can go if you want to,” the Doctor told her.
“Shut up, Dumbo.”
“Cal, if you need to go to entertain your guests then you should,” the Doctor advised him.
“Shut up, Dumbo,” Cal repeated what Donna had said and then laughed. “My guests bore me, Doctor.”
“And my malady is your entertainment?” the Time Lord teased slightly, but then groaned as a muscle spasm visibly caused his shoulder to shift and set his bicep twitching. Himonax returned with a wheelchair having bypassed the great hall and the festivities going on in there. There would be too many prying eyes if he had brought the chair through that way.
“Let’s get you sorted out then, Doctor,” Himonax advised. He clicked the brakes onto the wheelchair. “Do you think you’re going to be able to stand to get in this?”
“I am sure I can walk,” the Doctor looked at the wheelchair with disdain. “It is my shoulder which is injured not my legs.”
“Well, let’s air on the side of caution,” Himonax suggested. “Slowly, let’s have you up and then all you need to do is turn and sit back down.” Himonax was at his left side to assist him as the Doctor gingerly got to his feet. He genuinely thought that it would be fine but the mix of the pain and the drugs left him feeling rather dizzy and light headed. Himonax caught his arm and guided him toward the chair as the Doctor near enough collapsed back into it, groaning as he leant forward and put his hand to his head. Donna busied herself setting his feet up on the footplates rather than on the floor so that he could be pushed through to the treatment area. She then gathered up his clothing. She knew he would not want to lose anything that he had in his pockets.
It was not far to the treatment area. Himonax had already briefed two of his company of nursing staff that there was a man with a stubborn shoulder dislocation coming in. They would assist him in getting it back in. He helped the Doctor to get up on the bed in the room. It was slightly elevated at the head end, but it was more secure than the Queen Anne style settee he’d been on previously.
“High Regent, Donna, I need to ask you both to wait outside,” Himonax advised them.
“No way, Buster, I’m not leaving him,” Donna argued.
“Donna,” the Doctor groaned slightly. “It’s okay.” The Doctor knew that Himonax was going to have to be brutal to him and he did not want Donna to be witness and worried about it.
“Come.” Cal took Donna’s hand. “Himonax is the best physician in the land. He will take care of our friend.”
Donna and Cal went outside and Himonax pulled the door shut. He went to the Doctor’s bedside. “I appreciate your friends’ concerns. Your shoulder is out significantly and your musculature is making reduction difficult. I am going to give you some more of the muscle relaxant. Enough that it is going to make you feel quite drowsy in the hopes that will make this easier. We are going to have to do it though.”
“I know,” the Doctor accepted. He laid on the bed and tried to relax as much as he could. The more he relaxed the easier it would be. Himonax gave him a massive dose of the muscle relaxant and he felt it starting to work on his senses. It felt quite unnerving, as if he was going to melt through the bed, and that he was falling. His eyes started to sink closed, even if he wasn’t going to go right to sleep, it was quite nice just to relax.
“How is that feeling?” Himonax asked him.
“S’berrer,” he slurred.
“Okay, we’re just going to put your shoulder back into joint now then,” Himonax told him. “Then we will get some scans and make sure you’re all in the right position. You just need to lie still and to relax. I’m going to reduce the angle of the bed so that you’re lying flat for the procedure.”
The bed end was reduced so the Doctor was lying flat. Himonax removed the makeshift bandage shoulder strapping he’d put on the Doctor to keep him secure on the way to the treatment room. The Doctor moaned slightly as Himonax eased his arm down so that it was at his side and on the mattress. It made the dislocation in his shoulder more visible and pronounced. He got two long pieces of fabric which his nurses had folded over lengthways. He passed one under the Doctor and up through under his arm so that it was braced against his upper chest. He passed that to one of the nurses who stood on the opposite of the bed. She took the ends of the sheet but did not apply any traction yet. Himonax then took the other piece of fabric and thread it through his arm pit. He passed the ends of that one to a nurse who was standing behind the head of the bed. He was going to be dragging his shoulder up together, but again he did not apply any traction yet.
Himonax took hold of the Doctor’s arm. He eased it out to the side and rotated it over so that it as palm up. The Doctor groaned his discontent but did not cry out as the drugs kept him away from its entirety. Himonax took a good grip of his arm, holding him with both hands above his elbow. He nodded to the nurse on the other side of the bed and she pulled on the sheet as he leant back, pulling on his arm. He pulled and then he held it and then he pulled a little harder and then held it allowing the Doctor’s body to relax further each time. The drugs were working well and there was little in the way of resistance. Himonax pulled hard on his arm and then he nodded to the other nurse. He pulled on his sheet up into the Doctor’s armpit as Himonax reduced the angle in his shoulder without reducing the traction. He brought his arm down so it was almost closer to his side again. He bent his elbow up, and while his colleagues were applying their traction he rotated the Doctor’s arm outward. Twisting his shoulder up and trying to bring it together. The Doctor was starting to complain more verbally at the strength of the forces being put into his shoulder.
“It’s not going to be long, Doctor,” Himonax assured him. “Just one last, change,” he indicated. He got the nurse with the strap through his arm pit to change his angle and step away from the bed slightly. He then pushed his arm down as if he was starting to reach behind him and twisted his elbow outward. There was a sudden jerk and the Doctor screamed, but then immediately groaned. “Everyone just hold for a moment.” Himonax insisted. “Gradually reduce your traction Tronax,” he advised the nurse with the strap in his armpit. Himonax very carefully unwound the Doctor’s arm, putting his hand on the front of his shoulder, as he eased his arm back across his chest. He raised the Doctor’s arm up and down slightly, but did not open the joint up or take his shoulder more than 10 or 20 degrees in any direction. There was going to be a lot of soft tissue damage for it to come out as far as it had, but as far as he could tell it was back in. Scans of his shoulder confirmed it but also showed that ligaments were torn and that his rotator cuff was pulled. Nothing required surgical repair, but it was going to take some time to heal and he was going to have to have his shoulder immobilised for a few weeks.
Himonax got a proper shoulder sling on the Doctor. It held his arm at 90 degrees across his chest, and had a cuff around his wrist so he could not move within the sling. It also strapped his shoulder so that it was perfectly still. He was not going to be able to remove his arm at all. If the Doctor had been awake then he would have complained about it bitterly, but without the pain of his shoulder vastly reduced the drugs had allowed him to slip off to sleep and he was resting comfortably on the bed.
“Is he alright?” Donna asked as Himonax came out of the room to find her and Cal sitting waiting.
“His shoulder is back in place and it has been secured in a sling. We have scanned and confirmed that it is reduced appropriately and there are no fractures. There is however some significant soft tissue injury and he must wear the sling at all times until the ligaments in his shoulder heal or the risk is that the slightest of movements will cause it to dislocate again,” Himonax advised her. “You need to make sure that he does.”
“I don’t think he is going to be able to fly his ship one handed so we can all make sure that he does,” Cal suggested. “I will get some rooms made ready for you,” he advised Donna. “You of course are welcome to remain here until he has healed. For longer if you both wish, but until he is recovered at least.”
“Thank you,” Donna nodded. “Can I come in and see him now?”
“The drugs we have given him have sent him to sleep,” Himonax told Donna. “But, he should wake within ten or fifteen minutes. The majority of the drugs that I have to minimise his pain levels while he recovers are not suitable for him, but I trust that you are able to give him more of the drug that you brought from his ship?” Himonax asked Donna and she nodded. “He will need it for a couple of weeks I should think. The tissues are all over stretched, bruised, and swollen so he is going to be uncomfortable. As long as he takes his pain relief, icing the joint may also assist with that, and he keeps the shoulder support and sling on I expect he will make a full recovery. We shall keep an eye on him with regular updates and if you or he has any concerns then you should seek me out immediately.”
“Thank you,” Donna accepted. She went into the room where the Doctor was. He was sound asleep on the bed. His bare chest was covered with the sling and the straps that secured his arm. It did not cover his actual shoulder, she supposed that would be too painful, and it meant she could see the dark bruising coming out over his shoulder and his arm. He still looked a little pale, but not as he had done before, and in sleep his features had smoothed from the pain which had etched its way them before. “You donut.” Donna sighed quietly and rubbed his uninjured shoulder as he slept.
“I am sure he will recover quickly.” Cal brought a seat in for Donna to sit.
“I hope so,” Donna commented. Cal excused himself to go and ensure that his staff readied quarters for Donna and the Doctor. He stipulated that they should be adjoining suites and furnished to the highest of standards. He did not know if Donna and the Doctor shared a bed, but with adjoining rooms it would suit them either way. He ensured that the staff knew to provide them with anything they needed or desired. He would have liked to have returned to the quiet of the room with the Doctor and Donna, but he had to engage within the party. The rain was still falling and while the celebration was wondrous he did find it hard to revel with so many people who seemed to want to gain status rather than just enjoy a celebration and knees up.
It was a few minutes before the Doctor started to wake up. He was a little groggy with the drugs and he wasn’t entirely sure what had been going on. He tried to sit up too quickly and his head swam and his shoulder hurt and he groaned collapsing back onto the bed. “Careful, Spaceman.” Donna tenderly fingered some of his hair out of his face. “How are you feeling?” she checked with him.
“Better, I think,” the Doctor accepted. “Tired.” He looked down at the impressive looking sling holding his arm in place. He wasn’t going to be able to get that off in a hurry, all the straps were fastened way out of his own reach. He wondered if that had been done deliberately.
“Your shoulder is back in place, but Himonax said that you’ve pulled a load of ligaments so you need to keep the sling on for a few weeks or it is going to come out again, and I’m fairly sure that none of us want that to happen,” Donna advised. “Because you’re not going to be able to fly the TARDIS like this Cal is getting some rooms set up for us and he’s said we can stay as long as we need or want,” Donna assured him.
“Okay,” the Doctor accepted.
“Okay?” Donna looked at him incredulously. “I thought you’d be going mad about now?”
“I don’t want to go through that again,” the Doctor admitted. He sounded tired and worn out.
“Aww.” Donna rubbed his uninjured shoulder. “I’m sorry that you got hurt.” She kissed him on the cheek. “But, you should have said as soon as it happened,” she scolded.
“I know,” he admitted quietly. He gingerly moved to sit up on the bed, not rushing, but getting up and making sure that he was stable and that it didn’t hurt too much as the weight of his arm settled into the sling. He was going to be hating it within a few hours, but it was comfortable on his shoulder and that was a relief.
“Himonax said I should give you more of the painkillers from the TARDIS. I have got them still, so you need to tell me when you need them and when you can take them,” Donna told him. “How often can you take it?”
“Up to every five hours,” the Doctor advised her. Donna helped him to put his T-shirt on over the top of his slung arm. He wasn’t going to be able to put his shirt on and he couldn’t be bothered with his jacket. He could take them back to the TARDIS. “We’re missing the party,” he commented, but there was no excitement or enthusiasm in his voice.
“You don’t want to go to a party.” Donna didn’t bother asking him. He knew that he didn’t. She wasn’t entirely sure he had in the first place, but was happy for him to take her. Now he definitely didn’t want to. He was tired and he was hurting and that wasn’t a fair thing to ask him to do. She was hungry though and she didn’t know how long it would take for their rooms to be ready. “How about we go and get something to eat and then find out if the rooms are ready. You can settle down and get some rest. Your poor shoulder is going to need it.”
“What about you?”
“Well, once I know you’ve eaten and are settled into bed, if I fancy coming down again I will. It’s safe for me to be here on my own isn’t it? I mean Cal is the king!”
“It’s safe,” the Doctor commented. “I’m sorry, Donna, this isn’t what I intended.”
Donna put her hand on the Doctor’s uninjured arm as he got down off the side of the bed, just in case he was unsteady. It took him a moment to find his balance, but once he had he was okay. As they left the treatment room one of the nurses directly them to the Great Hall. Once in there Cal hurried over again. “Good to see you up, Doctor. How are you feeling?”
“Much better, thank you,” the Doctor acknowledged.
“He’s tired,” Donna offered. “We’re going to get something to eat if we may and then I was hoping the rooms might be ready?”
“If you wish to go up to your rooms now I can ask someone to bring some food up?” Cal suggested.
“That’s not necessary, Cal, you have been kind enough as it is,” the Doctor commented. “While I might not be able to stay long, I would like to see the celebration.”
“Course.” Cal nodded and smiled. He went into the Great Hall and nodded towards some artisans up on the stage. They hit a gong to indicate that the feasting was going to start. There had been some murmurs of discontent that it had been delayed, but no one was prepared to argue with the High Regent. Nor were they going to comment when his two unknown companions were guided toward the head of the table and were invited to dine with Cal directly.
They very quickly learned that the Doctor, despite claiming to be entirely ambidextrous, was in fact right hand dominant and was going to find many aspects of life with his right arm strapped to his chest difficult. Cutting his food was the first obstacle, but Donna helped him out with that. He wasn’t really hungry and while he had always found the harmonies played by the minstrels alluring, his head was aching and the drugs still blurred the edges of his consciousness and they felt harsh and as misaligned as his shoulder had been.
“You just want to go and rest don’t you?” Donna commented.
“Don’t be.” Donna turned to Cal. “I’m sorry, is there any way I could take him up to rest?”
“Of course.” Cal nodded and then stood. As he stood everyone else at the 30 metre banqueting table also stood despite them all tucking into the meal. Cal waved them all to sit down and waved one of the servers over. He whispered an instruction. “Aranax will show you up to your rooms,” Cal advised.
“Thank you,” Donna acknowledged.
“I’m sorry, Cal,” the Doctor apologised.
“I shall get some food brought up for you both and Aranax will remain dedicated to ensuring your comfort.”
“Come on then, you,” Donna hooked her arm through the Doctor’s and they were led up through the palace towards the accommodations. Aranax showed them into a large suite that contained two main rooms, a large lounge area with plush settee’s and up to date entertainment systems and then an equally large bedroom with a massive double poster bed in the middle of it. Off the bedroom was a room which was half the size again. It was a bathroom with a huge round bath in the centre, a separate shower, two types of toilet, a bidet, and a wash basin Donna believed was as big as her bath at home.
“Wow, this is amazing,” Donna commented. She could quite happily take the sofa and let the Doctor take the bed, but Aranax showed them to another door which opened through into a different bedroom and a second suite of rooms that mapped in a direct opposite. “Two rooms?”
“Yes ma’am,” Aranax confirmed. “I shall attend shortly with some food. And, is there anything else you would like brought up?”
“Some ice if possible?” Donna commented. “For his shoulder?”
Donna took the Doctor straight into the bedroom. He didn’t need much persuasion to sit on the bed. He looked rather forlorn as Donna knelt down and unfastened the double knots he’d made in his laces and then pulled his shoes off. She pulled the pillows from both sides of the bed and fluffed them up against the headboard and got him to sit back against that with his legs up on the bed.
Aranax arrived back with a trolley of food for them both. Donna went and sat on the bed next to the Doctor and insisted that he ate some more. There was a bucket of ice but there were also some cooling gel packs. Donna thought they’d be better and she carefully put one over the top of his shoulder. He winced as the weight of the pack and the coldness bit down into his damaged joint, but it gradually began to ease off.
“I’ve ruined your party,” the Doctor grumbled.
“Yes you have,” Donna agreed with a cheeky smile. “And, when you’re healed and able to fly I expect to get something good like the beach.”
“The beach,” the Doctor agreed. “Okay, I can do that,” he offered.
“With no man-eating sand crabs,” Donna insisted.
“I think I can do that.” The Doctor smiled.
“Come on then, if you’re not going to eat, you can lie down and get some sleep,” Donna insisted. “Do you need a hand to get your trousers off?” He didn’t and he stripped to his boxers and then got into the bed. It took him a while to get comfortable and he couldn’t bear the weight of the thick quilted bedspread over the top of his shoulder so Donna tucked it down under his elbow for him. “I’m just going to be in the other room, so if you do need something then shout, okay, Time Boy? No need to be shy when you’re hurt.”
“I’m sure I’ll be fine once I’ve had some sleep,” the Doctor assured her. “We won’t be stuck too long.”
“When we’re stuck in a proper palace and you’re mates with the king and we have our own dedicated butler, trust me Doctor, you don’t need to rush to get better, and when you are better you will probably still need to take some time to rest and recuperate, won’t you?” Donna asked and winked. “You can take all the time in the world.” She caressed his head as he drifted off to sleep, hoping that even if it took him weeks to recover in the lap of luxury that the pain would be gone by morning or he would not enjoy any of their time there. In the meantime, and while he rested, there was no reason why she could not try out that wonderfully deep bath filled with fragrant bubbles, was there?