“She’s up to something in there,” Nardole said, pacing up and down with a very perturbed expression. “Planning something, we’ve let our guard down.”
“It’s fine,” the Doctor said, sitting casually back in his chair and sipping tea, unconcerned.
“Sir! I spent four hours last night compiling and cross referencing lists of everything she has asked for on her shopping lists and there are some very concerning patterns. Take this seriously!”
“You really need a hobby Nardole - remember how we talked about you taking up sightseeing? Lots of sights to see in Bristol. Have a nice walk, get some air, maybe now would be the ideal time.”
“Doctor! She really is planning something this time - look!” Nardole said as he picked up a stack of paper and placed it down in front of the Doctor.
“I’m looking Nardole and I see shopping lists, all of which I approved. It’s fine, go to the gallery or visit the suspension bridge - bridges are always fascinating!”
“I know when you’re trying to get rid of me”” Nardole said.
“You do?” the Doctor asked, slightly put out. “Ah, new distraction tactics needed. I’ll work on that. Everything’s fine, I’d know if it wasn’t. Missy is quite content with a new hobby, leave her be and have the night off.”
Nardole shook his head and turned around, about to march out of the room when he noticed a box in the waste bin by the door.
“Sir,” he said, his tone suddenly serious and concerned.
“Ah,” the Doctor said.
“Is this her hobby?” he asked, pulling out the console box and staring at it in disbelief. “Not only have you given her technology but is this future technology?"
“Oh not really, just a slight game acquisition from a short hop in the future. Barely at all.”
“I can’t believe you got her a Nintendo Switch! Don't think I wont find out if that Sega Megadrive you got me for Christmas is far inferior to whatever you've lavished her with this time.”
“Oh it’s just a few years, nothing much.”
“What year is the game from?” Nardole asked, shaking his head.
“Ah, just 2020, only three years early. She’s tending flowers, making friends with animals and buying a collection of umbrellas. It’s good for her Nardole! No harm at all,” the Doctor said, picking up a pen and frowning at the first essay on his stack of unmarked papers.
“She could do anything with that console Doctor. Remember what happened to her toaster?”
“That was a one time thing, she definitely isn’t going to create a tissue expansion device again, she promised.”
“She promised?! The only reason she isn't is because you didn’t give her another toaster and took the microwave and she’s lived off of takeaway ever since!”
“Nardole, we got you a new arm, she said sorry, it’s all in the past now.”
“She expanded my arm to three times its size - it was terrifying!”
“She’s really very precise normally with her devices, but given what she had to work with it is quite impressive….” the Doctor paused and looked at Nardole’s disgusted glare. “But mostly appalling. Anyway - nice new arm Nardole!”
Nardole turned to leave in disgust, dropping the box back in the bin before calling out over his shoulder.
“Well I'm checking what she’s up to down there before I go..visit a suspension bridge.”
“Best not! She’s….immersed. Leave her Nardole, I'll check in tomorrow, it’s fine. Everything is absolutely fine.”
Nardole didn't listen.
Nardole headed straight to the vault.
“Missy?” he called out through the door, a heightened nervousness lacing his words. “Miss? Missy? I’m coming in...see if you need anything.”
He flinched when he heard her break into laughter from behind the door.
“What...what’s so funny”? He asked nervously.
“Oh nothing Nardy, come right in!” she replied jovially. “I’ll just stand..here….”
Nardole felt a flash of relief as the area inside the containment field illuminated green on the panel. She was safely inside, no problem. What could possibly go wrong...this time.
He patted his new arm, assuring himself it was securely attached, opened the doors and stepped inside..
Onto a lush green field.
“Oh...that wasn't here before,” Nardole mumbled, before startling as the doors closed behind him and something slammed down over his head.
Nardole panicked and flung his arms around, desperately throwing off what he now realised was a net, from his head and jumping back in fright staring at Missy who stood smiling with a large butterfly net, a flower in her hair and a very excitable look in her eyes.
“What...what WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?”
“Animal Crossing!” Isn’t it fun?” she said happily as she made a move to catch him with the net again.
He jumped out of the way and moved further into the room….the room that no longer resembled a room but now resembled an island...a beach in the distance, with two hammocks, lights and gentle waves lapping at the shore and houses dotted about the landscape.
He walked around, utterly stunned into silence and disbelief at the vast number of trees and flowers, fruits of different varieties growing on many of the trees...very unnaturally large fruits. He decided not to try and eat one..just in case they were bombs, or some form of fruit metamorphosis or maybe the early stages of mass hypnosis by fruit consumption. Whatever was wrong with that fruit, one thing was certain - he was right. Missy HAD been up to something.
He stared, completely thrown as she sat down at a picnic table, smiling as she picked up a cup of tea and sipped casually as butterflies and blossom petals danced in the air around her.
“Sit Nardy, you're spoiling my lovely world with that shocked disapproving expression,” she said as she added cream and sugar.
“I am NOT having tea with you in your...your….what IS this?”
“Animal crossing!” she said with an exasperated sigh. “Pay attention! And do calm down, you’ll upset my animals. Although they do get quite excitable about eggs. Can't say I share their enthusiasm.”
“Your animals...you have animals in here?! The Doctor has completely lost his mind!”
“Oh Nardy do calm down, or I will have a stern word with Isabel about you.”
Missy giggled and then clapped in delight.
“I shall have to have that chat with her later if you keep that tone up. Ah! My delightful friend is here, don't be rude now Nardy, say hello to Bangle.”
Bangle shook with fear.
Missy jumped up, flinging her arms around the tiger-like creature wearing a pink and green dress covered in an egg shell pattern that stood and hugged Missy back as she stroked his head and made soothing noises, saying deliberately loudly that they would tell Isabel all about the mean egg man who made him cry.
“YOU HAVE A TIGER IN HERE I KNEW IT!”
“Shush! You gave him a fright, and it’s late, the others are all sleeping and you'll wake them with all this fuss.”
“Others? There are more tigers in here...walking about..like people?”
“No, don't be ridiculous, Bangle is one of a kind,” she patted the tigers head and poured him a cup of tea, whispering her apologies about the mean egg man. “There’s a chicken in the blue house and a cub and a rabbit, and a few others. There's also an anteater, but we don't like, he's far too smug. Now, don't you think you have something to say to my dear friend Bangle?”
“Err...what are you?” Nardole asked.
“I think sorry is the word you're looking for!” Missy said with great indignation.
“Er...sorry...didn't mean to scare you...Missy? Did you create these….”
“Now choose your words carefully, he only just stopped crying,” Missy said with a tone of chastisement.
“Ah, yes,” he said awkwardly, “sorry I gave you a fright. I...Missy….IS THAT AN AXE? You have an axe in here! DOCTOR!” Nardole yelled as he turned and ran for the door in a complete panic.
Just as they reached the doors, they opened and the Doctor strolled in, smiling as he dropped down into a chair and glanced round, waving his hand dismissively.
“It's ok Nardole. Just a project - we worked on this simulation together - a very successful harmless and non lethal activity,” the Doctor said, sounding quite happy.
“She hit me with a net and..she has a tiger..and an axe!”
“Nardole, calm down, it’s a simulation - a very realistic simulation.”
“Doctor!” Missy whispered, her eyes widening as her hands covered Bangle’s ears. “Not in front of him.”
“Missy...we talked about this..”
“A simulation then...that axe, not as real as the net?”
“Of course not Nardole!” laughed the Doctor and Missy looked at the Doctor and pouted.
“Well, that’s alright then - it’s rather elaborate...can't say I approve, but it’s not a quest for universal domination. Just a bit of trans dimensional engineering and simulation. Right then...I'll leave you to it. Clearly there are two hammocks over there on the beach for a reason.”
Nardole shook his head as Missy placed her finger on her lips and cast a conspiratorial glance toward the Doctor.
“Unbelievable!” Nardole said, continuing to shake his head as he left the vault. “Least it’s not a real tiger this time.”
“Missy,” the Doctor said, as he sat down at the table and joined her and Bangle. “One more week and I have to take him home. Having the appearance of a character from a video game...is not a good reason to abduct anyone from their home planet and keep them in a simulated world with you on earth.”
“Oh you are such a spoilsport Doctor, but fine and just to show you how very good I am," she coughed and looked quite serious. “I am sorry for sneaking out and searching the galaxy for creatures that looked like my favourite characters and abducting them for my own amusement. Proud of me?”
“Actually...I am,” the Doctor said as he sipped his tea. “You left the planet intact. One thing though.”
“Oh? What's that my dear Doctor?”
“I am taking that axe. Nardole would have fainted if he knew that was real.”