The Doctor was facing a complete disaster. The King he had sworn to protect was about to fall to the opposing side in the war and he was trying to work out some desperate way out of this mess. Then he got it. Picking up the vital tool he needed, he placed it on the board and proudly declared 'Check!'
'Correction, Master,' K9 replied on the other side of the chess board, 'Your King will be mated in three moves.'
'What!' The Doctor exclaimed, examining the board. Seeing that K9 was absolutely right, he slumped in his chair and muttered, 'I used to be so much better at this you know.'
He looked around the white control room of the TARDIS and realised something. He was bored. Things had been fairly quiet since he dropped off Romana for a quick holiday. He had bypassed the Randomiser to drop her off at the Braxtiel art collection and he had promised to pick her up in a week, not wanting to stay and look at the art pieces there himself, since they were, in his opinion, rather boring. However, he was now regretting his decision, as the only thing he could think to do in the meantime was play chess. Apart from fending off a time parasite in the vortex, an excitement that had lasted precisely five minutes, nothing interesting was happening at all for the Doctor.
The problem was that since he had installed the randomiser, he had no real choice in what he did. Whenever he tried to have a holiday, some disaster cropped up to ruin it, and whenever he was in the mood for some dashing about, there seemed to be no great dilemmas for him to resolve. And right now, he was in the mood for some dashing about. Yet the Time Rotor in the centre of the hexagon-shaped console kept going up and down calmly, with no indication of stopping, thereby making it obvious that they had landed. The TARDIS was still travelling down the vortex, with the Doctor bored near out of his mind. What he really needed was something to distract and exhilarate him, something to keep him occupied, something like…
He suddenly realised that the telepathic circuits on the console were flashing. Jumping to his feet, he rushed excitedly to the console and placed his hands on the two roundels on the control panel. The message that came through was fairly jumbled, but it was fairly clear what it was.
'An S.O.S!' the Doctor exclaimed in delight, 'Just what I need.'
'What is the precise nature of the distress signal, Master?' K9 inquired, his mechanical tail waggling enthusiastically. He himself was getting bored of continuously beating the Doctor in game after game of chess.
'Oh well,' the Doctor said with a note of uncertainty, 'some sort of telepathic message saying something about alien abduction. Seemed almost like a Time Lord message. Anyway, it shouldn't be too difficult to trace back to the original source.'
'Should we retrieve the Mistress first, Master?' K9 suggested.
'Oh no, I wouldn't dream of dragging Romana away from her art visit, she might have found something that caught her interest there,' the Doctor said, 'I'm sure that you and I can sort this out ourselves. After all, as Jeremy used to say, how hard can it be?'
It was not until some time afterwards that the Doctor would remember that the phrase "How hard can it be?" often led to complete and utter chaos.
"Donna… Oh, Donna Noble, I'm so sorry. But we had the best of times. Goodbye."
Donna awoke with a start and instantly wished she hadn't. She found that in the time that she had been unconscious, she had been developing the headache from hell. And she seemed to have had a really bad dream, set in a room that looked like coral, with a strange man in a suit, looking so sad. And she was there as well, crying like she had never done so before in her entire life.
Donna shook the image out of her head and took a look around her surroundings. The room she was in was the size of a small infirmary, with the floors and walls all built out of what looked like white metal. The ceiling seemed to have no obvious lighting, yet it was humming with energy and giving off luminescence that made the room clear as daylight. Donna was lying on one of a number of metal benches in the room, which were all arranged in small rows. Most of these benches were occupied by various human figures, all of whom were as unconscious as she had been. 'How the hell did I get here?', she thought to herself, 'Last I remember was that creep in the park and…'
It all came back in an instant. 'That scumbag shot me!' she roared. He had kidnapped her and stuffed her in a room with a whole load of other kidnap victims. He was going to hold them to ransom, or sell them as slaves, or...
'Oh stop it,' Donna said to herself, 'You're becoming paranoid again!' Getting a grip on herself, she looked for a door. There was none, or a least not one that she could see. There was, however, a window in the room. Perhaps she could make herself heard through that. Dashing to the window, she opened her mouth to bellow out, but when she got there, the words died in her throat.
Out through the window, was open space, a vast black emptiness surrounding her. Although it wasn't really quite that empty. Donna could see hundreds of stars standing out from the darkness, gently glowing in the scene of nothingness, like hundreds of Christmas tree lights. And in the centre of it all, she could see a multi-coloured nebula constantly shifting its shape in the vastness of space. It wasn't an image on a television screen or a painted backdrop. It was real. After all these years of missing those alien encounters, Donna suddenly finds herself caught up in the middle of one! And something about the view reminded her of something, like…
A groan came from one of the tables, making Donna jump. Spinning around, she saw that one of the victims was coming around. Dashing over, Donna helped the man sit up on the bench. But when she saw his face, her jaw dropped. The man was rather short in height, about 175 cm, and he seemed about the same age as her Granddad, with white stuck-up hair and a long white moustache covering a rather friendly-looking and wrinkly face. It was a face that Donna had seen before, in various magazines and TV shows. But it couldn't be him, could it?
'Oh thank you my dear woman,' said the man in a definite German accent as she helped sit up, 'Could you tell me where I am, please?'
'I'm afraid I don't know, mate,' said Donna slowly, 'Excuse me, but who exactly are you? I mean, are you who I think you are?'
'Oh forgive me. Where are my manners?' said the man, 'I am Albert Einstein.'
In another part of the ship, a sound like a groaning organ reverberated through the corridors and the TARDIS faded into view, its blue colour standing out from the dark cream walls. Once the Time-Space ship had fully materialised, the door opened and the Doctor stepped out and smiled broadly, taking in his surroundings. The corridor was shaped like the inside of a tube, curving around in a bend, with pipes and wires of various sizes running along the walls. The colouring of the walls was creamy, although this was not immediately obvious due to the low level that the lighting system was set at.
'Ha ha, dark corridors, certain setting for trouble,' the Doctor declared happily. In his experience, dark and gloomy corridors always lead to something dangerous. Just the thing to keep himself occupied. K9 also exited from the TARDIS, his antenna raised.
'Master, the signal is coming from the right of us.'
'Right. K9, you go and locate the source of the signal and then assure whoever sent it that help has arrived. I'll see if I can find whoever is in charge here, and see what all the fuss is about. Now remember, keep out of trouble, alright.'
'Affirmative Master,' replied K9, already heading for the right side of the corridor, towards the source of the distress signal.
'Good. Don't forget, stay out of trouble,' the Doctor reminded his metal dog. He then turned to the left, took about ten paces forward, and walked straight into a Movellan trooper.
'Oh hello,' said an embarrassed Doctor, glad that K9 didn't see what just happened.
'You,' said the Movellan flatly.
'Me?' asked the Doctor, feeling that he had gone through this once already.
'Who are you?' asked the Movellan, before adding, 'You are an intruder.'
'Well if you already know who I am, why do you ask me who I am?' the Doctor asked in puzzlement. It seemed an entirely reasonable question. Unfortunately, the Doctor had a feeling that the Movellan was not going to be reasonable.
Although the whole notion of meeting long dead scientists in outer space seemed utterly absurd, Donna found that she had no trouble believing what was happening. Strangely, she seemed used to it, as though this kind of thing had happened to her before. 'I must really be losing it,' she thought bitterly to herself, 'That or I'm having some kind of nightmare!'
'I was in my laboratory,' explained Einstein, 'when a strangely dressed silver-haired woman in a white suit appeared out of thin air and sent some kind of lightning flying at my face. The next thing I knew, I woke up here with you.'
'That's exactly what happened to me,' replied Donna, 'except I was in a park and I was shot by some bloke in the same outfit. And just wait till I get my hands on him. He'll be wishing he had never been born.'
Einstein looked at the other beds in astonishment. 'But… that looks like Leonardo da Vinci,' he exclaimed, 'and that looks like Isaac Newton. But, they and all these others have been dead for years!' Donna looked closely at each of the figures and realised with some alarm that Einstein was right. The entire room was filled with geniuses from throughout Earth's history, all laid out on the various tables like unmoving mannequins.
Donna was about to point out that Einstein was dead as well, but she stopped herself for two important reasons. One, it would be terribly bad mannered of her to say so in Albert's face, and two…
'Does that mean,' Donna said slowly, with growing horror, 'that we're dead too?'
'Oh no, no, no, no,' said Einstein in a 'I know more than you do' tone of voice which really annoyed Donna, 'I suspect that we have all been snatched out of time and put together here for some reason. I have been working on a time machine of my own, you see, but I have been unable to get it working, but perhaps if I had reversed the magnitude of the…'
But Donna wasn't listening to his theories and speculations. She was thinking of what he had suggested. Time travel. There was something about that, something important. If only she could remember what… But then her head started to ache and, after shaking it, she asked 'So what, is this some great kidnapping of scientific geniuses from Earth's history?'
'So it would appear my dear,' agreed Einstein, before asking, 'May I ask what your field of research was?'
'Me?' Donna said in surprise, 'I think they just made a mistake. I'm no great genius, I'm a temp from Chiswick. I'm no one important, certainly not worth kidnapping, except for the lottery money.'
Before she could elaborate, one of the walls slid open and two of the strangely dressed hippies stepped in. They looked virtually identical to the guy who shot Donna, the same clothes, the same braided hair, and the same blank, emotionless expressions which made them look less than human. Of course now, Donna knew that they were not human at all, they were real live aliens! They were both armed and pointing their guns at Donna and Einstein. One of them addressed Donna, again in the same flat tone of the first alien.
'Our scans are complete. Yours appears to be the superior intellect. You will be connected to the battle computer.'
'You what!' exclaimed Donna, 'Are you guys completely dim? I'm not any kind of intellect, in fact I'm not good for anything! And what's that about connecting me to a computer! I'm not going to be plugged into anything, mate!'
Einstein would have been backing up Donna at this point, but his interest in what the Aliens (as they clearly were in his opinion) had just said distracted him.
'A battle computer you say?' he asked with fascination, 'You have created a machine that can somehow use human brain power? That sounds ingenious!' Einstein's scientific curiosity was always a weakness of his, and at the moment, it was distracting him from the seriousness of the situation.
The second alien made no reply. Instead, he raised his weapon and shot another stun bolt at him. Einstein had just enough time to say, 'Oh dear, not again' before he crumpled to the floor, unconscious. Without a word, the nearest of the two aliens knelt down to Einstein's prone body and lifted him up as though he was as light as a feather. With careful handling, he then put Einstein gently back on the table he had previously occupied, like a child that is carefully being lowed into a cot.
The first alien spoke again to Donna, 'You will come with us willingly or we will stun you and carry you with us. The choice is yours.'
With a final harrumph, Donna reluctantly marched out of the room, with her captors following closely behind.