Part 23 - Gut Reactions
Part 23 - Gut ReactionsClick. Click. Click.
Clark didn't waste any time tackling Brotox after the Zygon's weapon once again proved impotent. He held the alien down with his clawed hands, pushed his head up and snarled at Brotox. "Thtay. The Hell. Down
!" Clark's tongue lashed around his very sharp teeth and in the matter of a few seconds, Brotox quit struggling.
Clark heard the Doctor's footsteps behind them: light, long, deliberate strides before the Doctor was crouching down next to them. Clark saw him reach over and pick up the gun, turning the ineffective instrument of death over in his hands. "Funny thing," said the Doctor in a low voice that failed to convey anything funny at all, "the TARDIS dislikes guns almost as much as I do. Probably one of the reasons we've gotten on so well all these years." With surprising competence for a man who professed to never touch the things, the Doctor unchambered the round, removed the magazine, and started popping the bullets out into his other palm. "But she's got this thing, call it temporal grace if you'd like, which means she can do something about it." The Doctor hurled the gun out through the still-open door of the TARDIS. Then he punctuated each word in the next sentence by throwing a bullet in Brotox's face. "Guns won't fire in the TARDIS unless she lets them." Brotox didn't even flinch at the hits, and no one else in the ship dared to breathe.
The Doctor rose to his feet. "Proxan?"
Proxan stood up straight. "Yes, Doctor?"
"I assume you have a ship of some sort hereabouts?"
Proxan hesitated. "Err, yes. We stowed it in the UNIT warehouse, back at headquarters."
The Doctor grimaced. "Right. We'll have to shift back there, it's not like they'll let you back through the gates without a body-imprint."
The Doctor glared at her. "There will be no more body imprints! You've caused enough mayhem here - you're going elsewhere. Promptly." Proxan's throat worked as she swallowed back any response and nodded. The Doctor nodded back and returned to his position at the console.
Martha cleared her throat. "Ah, Doctor?" she asked, a tentative hitch in her voice.
"What about John and the men from UNIT? Shouldn't we pick them up first?"
The Doctor paused in his manipulations and cast a look at Dawn, who was still a bit pale with fright and shiny with Skarasen spit. "Dawn, are they in any particular peril at the moment?"
Dawn blinked a couple of times before she smiled. "Uh, yeah. Not a problem. They can take care of themselves, and trust me, we don't want to see them until - well, we're better off waiting for them to get back to base first. I just need to make a quick phone call and everything should be all set." She frowned. "I need a phone though. Better make it quick." Everyone except for Clark and Brotox patted at their pockets. The Doctor came up with one first and tossed it to Dawn. "Right. Martha, do you know the direct line to the UNIT Command Center? I'm talking red telephone here."
Martha's eyes widened. "Yeah, sure, hand it here." Dawn handed her the phone to punch in the number. "It's ringing," said Martha, passing the phone back. Their hands brushed together in the motion, and both noticed the slight electric thrill of it, but they were too busy with their incipient doom to think about it at the moment.
"Thanks," Dawn held the phone up to her ear, licking her lips and biting her tongue just enough to savor the feel before the line picked up and she started barking before it could actually be answered. "Who the hell is this? Y'know what, I don't care. Let me talk to the officer in charge on the double, soldier."
Clark grinned down at the prone Zygon beneath him. "She's really good at this part."
A highly chastened corporal cleared his throat at the UNIT Command Center. "Capatain Magambo, you really need to take this."
Captain Magambo sighed, unhappy at the distraction while she was attempting to quell an alien threat. Major Price was on the other line, issuing the base-restoration orders, and they were working
, dammit, but if the call was coming through that phone, she had to take it. "Captain Magambo, here," she spoke into the receiver.
"Call the fighters off immediately, Captain Magambo," said the voice over the phone, stern and unforgiving.
Erisa pinched the bridge of her nose, "Ma'am, we're following the procedures contained in the Stampeding Foothold situation-"
"Soldier, I don't give a goddamn about your procedures This is Diane Goodall from the Environmental Agency and I'm here to put a kibosh here on your plan to blow apart the Oxfordshire countryside. There's an endangered species at risk here."
Captain Magambo blinked. She couldn't mean... "Which species are you referring to, ma'am?"
"The European Water Vole, of course. Finally have a breeding population out there, it's mating season, and I won't have your trigger happy yahoos distracting them from the tricky business of making more water voles. This is an order from the very top, Captain."
"I want to hear you give the order, soldier. Now," demanded the voice.
Captain Magambo licked her lips and looked over at Major Price who was now listening in. Price shrugged: if it came out of that phone, it was always from the top of the chain of command. Erisa leaned into the comm. "Greyhound Actual to Hawk One."
"Roger, Greyhound Actual, this is Hawk One."
"Terminate the attack run and return to base, Hawk One. Repeat: terminate the attack run and return to base."
"Uh, roger, Hawk One, we're aborting the run. Just in the nick of time, Greyhound Actual, my finger was on the trigger."
A relieved sigh came through loud and clear over the hot line phone. "We're just that lucky today, Hawk One. Time to come along home. Over."
"Roger that, Greyhound Actual. Hell of a relief, actually, wasn't horribly keen on being the man to kill Nessie. Hawk One out."
Captain Magambo returned her attention to the phone. "Did you catch all of that, Ms. Goodall?"
"I did, Captain Magambo. In the future, I suggest you check with the EA first before you deploy your fighter jets all willy-nilly. Good day." There was a click and then silence. Wordlessly, Erisa handed the phone back to Corporal Benson. Something about that whole exchange struck her as wrong, but another part of her felt oddly relieved at this turn of events, like she'd been standing at a crossroads and made the right choice.
"What do you suggest we do now?" asked Major Price, her eyes glancing over to the satellite feed which displayed the Skarasen lounging in the grass, lazily turning over to sun its belly.
Captain Magambo straightened her uniform. "I'm heading out there with a platoon to go take care of this situation before the EA decides to put Nessie on the Red List too."
Three rounds of rock, paper, scissors later, Private Fuder was cursing his personal tendency to throw rock every time while scaling up Nessie's belly, whose scales provided a number of convenient hand and footholds. Her breathing was the slow and regular cadence of sleep, for which Bob was profoundly grateful. Hopefully she wasn't going to... emit anything else while she slept.
"You're awful quiet there now, mister," said Bob as he reached his goal. John Hart cracked one eye open a slit, just enough to glare at Bob, and he waved a finger towards his face. "Oh, I see. Open your mouth and some of that's going to get in it." John grunted meaningfully and Bob laughed. "Right, right, just one moment." Bob withdrew his knife from his belt and set to work on the ropes. "Good thing she rolled this way, if she'd favored her other side, you'd have been crushed immediately." The ropes fell away and John scrambled to move, but with his eyes still caked shut with... things, he rolled right off of Nessie's belly and fell to the ground with a thud. Down on the ground Arthur erupted into laughter. Bob crept over to the side and looked down. "Oh, you've gone and landed in-"
"Shut! The bloody hell! Up!" John crawled over to clean grass and rubbed his face against it, then crawled on a bit further and collapsed. "I'm going to take a bath for three days after this. Wrinkle up like a bloody prune, dry out and get back in the tub again. I'm going to burn through four toothbrushes, gargle with single malt scotch, and then I'm going to Karfaros 69 and the courtesans are going to bathe me and oil me and after that, after that, my friends, I might, just might, feel almost human again."
Arthur grinned. "Can we tag along? Feeling a bit crusty myself."
"So long as you agree to never mention this again, I don't much care, mate."
Arthur sat down next to him, not too close, and they were shortly joined by Bob who'd slid back down to the ground. "Do you think we need to head back, Arthur, or should we be guarding Nessie?"
Arthur was just about to reply when he heard the sound of an engine from the other side of Nessie. The three of them got to their feet and ran towards the sound, hopping over the Skarasen's twitching tail. A military truck came into view and screeched to a stop a few dozen yards away before a squad of soldiers hopped out, automatic weapons drawn and safeties released in a series of clicks. The passenger door opened and Captain Erisa Magambo slid out, looking terribly annoyed. "Privates Fuder and Kanon, is that you under all of that- that shite?"
The soldiers snapped to attention and delivered salutes while John rolled his eyes. "Yes, ma'am."
"Well, step aside, soldiers, we've got to deal with this alien threat." The other soldiers had lined up and were holding their rifles in the ready position.
Arthur and Bob exchanged horrified glances before stepping back together and holding out their arms. "You can't shoot Nessie," shouted Arthur.
"She's peaceful," said Bob.
John scowled and walked over to Captain Magambo, ignoring the betrayed looks that Bob and Arthur threw at him. "You won't hear any objections from me, Captain, I've got no fond memories here." Her nose twitched. "Hey, you wouldn't happen to have a towel, would you?"
"It's going to take a long time to get to the Albireon system with a malfunctioning hyper-drive," said Proxan as she led the Doctor , Clark and Brotox through the warehouse, Dawn and Martha having remained in the TARDIS to clean off the Skarasen spit and change.
The Doctor remained grouchy about the whole shooting incident and grunted. "It's the closest uninhabited world I can think of with a suitable climate - after a bit of terraforming, anyway. I suppose I can look at the drive while we wait for the rest of your crew to rendezvous with the ship." He glanced back at Brotox, who was being manhandled along by Clark. "The quicker I can get him off of this planet, the happier I'll be."
"Understood, Doctor, and you have my word that you won't be hearing from us again any time soon."
"I certainly hope so," said the Doctor. Proxan signaled them to a halt and pulled out a key card. "This is our stop." She swiped the card in the reader and punched in a code which opened the door automatically.
Clark groaned. "I don't thupothe your thhip has a cloaking device that you left on while you thtored it?"
Proxan stared at the empty space where she'd left her ship. "No."
"Tho, someone'th thtolen a thhip equipped with highly dangerouth and unthtable Void-traverthing technology from UNIT headquarterth while you had theithed control of UNIT and you had no idea it wath gone, much leth who might have thtolen it?"
Proxan directed a pointed look at Brotox, but he looked just as shocked as she was. "I guess so."
The Doctor didn't say anything, just walked over to the wall and started whacking his forehead against it.
Dawn stepped out of the shower, steam pouring out of the stall as she opened the door. "Clean is so much better than covered in Skarasen saliva," she announced to Martha, who had beaten Dawn out of the showers. She was standing in front of the sink, her lean, athletic body wrapped in a towel and brushing her teeth. Dawn noticed a droplet of water trailing down the other woman's flawless skin, down the graceful lines her neck and back. It was ever so very tempting, and before Dawn knew what she was doing, she found herself catching the bead of water with her tongue before sweeping upwards to collect the rest of its trail. Martha tasted fantastic, Dawn thought absently, even as the other woman spun about to stare at her.
"What are you doing?" asked Martha in a breathless voice, but she hadn't pulled away, was instead clutching at Dawn's upper arms. There was just a bit of toothpaste clinging to her lower lip.
"This," said Dawn, dipping her head down to kiss the toothpaste off of Martha's so very soft lips. She sucked at it as she pulled away. "What's going on?" she asked, feeling a bit helpless as she ran her thumb along Martha's jaw.
Martha's eyes were wide. "I don't know! I- I have a fiancé. I love him. I hardly even know you."
Dawn nodded. "Yeah, I'm not even sure I like you, and I didn't see any of this when I looked ahead. Guess I didn't look far enough ahead , because there's no way I'd forget the way you taste." She leaned down again to claim Martha's mouth again, this time in a deep, heated kiss. Martha stepped back until her back was pressed against the counter but she was responding to the kiss, her tongue massaging Dawn's and her hands moving down from Dawn's arms to caress Dawn's sides through the terrycloth.
They didn't break the kiss until they were both running out of breath and even as they broke it they continued to cling to each other. "I think there might have been something in the Skarasen saliva, an aphrodisiac or something," murmured Martha as she nibbled up Dawn's collar bone.
Dawn thought on this with the rapidly disappearing bits of her brain not focused on the points of contact between her and Martha. "Only if she's about to go into heat, and I'm going to guess she is. Skarasens can become highly volatile when they're in heat."
"We need to stop," said Martha, her fingers slipping under Dawn's towel.
Dawn bit back a moan at the feel of Martha's touch on the sensitive skin of her stomach. "We absolutely should. We need to warn the Doctor, need to rescue John." Her hands fumbled at the knot holding up Martha's towel while she went in for another series of kisses. "Problem is, Martha, I'm not sure we can stop ourselves and we're alone here in the TARDIS."
Martha groaned as her towel fell away. "Oh, yes, that's going to be a serious problem."
~*~And as noted, this is when Booster decided he needed a drink and a three-year nap to figure out his next step. Come on, old friend, let's have some new adventures. (And once again: Booster only receives notifications for chapters he posted, the last of which was Chapter 20. Give 'em hell, kids. -MM