Doctor Who Internet Adventure #03 - "Altered State"

Chapter 2
"Confused Beginnings"
by Richard Auer


Be warned: you thought the last one involved innuendo? Ha! This chapter goes beyond mere insinuation.

Grace woke up in darkness. There was an immediate nagging feeling that there was something wrong, and it wasn't only that the room was spinning. *Great,* she thought, *First thing in the morning and I'm already getting bad feelings.*

       OK, they had left Gallifrey having sent the Black Guardian into hiding. She had been sexually harassed by the evil bastard, and was peeved. She had then spent the evening drinking heavily, when she had seen the Doctor dressed as a bunny hop by outside. Having learnt early on that following visions is dangerous but fun, she hopped after him. Eagerly, she got him to join her in her room, where they spent the evening emptying a bottle of Antarian wine and discussing anatomy.

       She jolted herself into a sitting position on the side of her bed. The nagging feeling was still bothering her. She had her pajamas on, and she definitely remembered that they had no longer been the evening before. But she was glad nonetheless, since the TARDIS was a bit chilly. She staggered over to an antique dressing table.

       After a moment of wondering where the Doctor kept the lamp on his mirror, she was pleased to find that he kept it exactly where she had kept it. *I guess it's a logical place to put a lamp*. She turned the light on.

       The room lit up revealing beautiful ersatz wood paneling and tacky curved supports pretending to hold up the ceiling instead of the clean white walls with inset roundels she was used to. *This is new* Grace thought, her interest level rising. The new decor was odd, but unexpected, though the Doctor had shown her the TARDIS's internal configuration systems. And yet there was still something bothering her.

       "Grace," said the Doctor in a tone of annoyance as he burst into her room. "Do you know why I decided to fall asleep in some other TARDIS? I don't recognize a thing."

       There was a pregnant pause as both parties tried to grasp the situation.

       "Would you be sorry if I told you that you should always greet me with a kiss at least?" Grace asked finally.

       The Doctor grabbed her in a whirlwind of passion. "No," he responded calmly, "but I think you aren't taking the situation seriously enough."

       "Well..." Grace continued in stunned confusion. "I don't know how to respond. Did you leave my room for some reason?"

       The Doctor's gaze swept around the room. "I don't know. The last thing I remember doing is setting the coordinates for Skaro since the Black Guardian said something about my father and the Daleks before my 'ex' chased him from Gallifrey. Then I put on that silly suit, which I have to return. Do you still have it here? I certainly don't know why I'd leave you and fall asleep in the weird-looking console room."

       "I'm going to go and have a shower," Grace said in confusion, "Do you want to join me and we'll discuss it?"

       The Doctor sighed. "I'd better have a look first," he apologized. It was going to be one of those days.

* * *

Still dressed in his usual costume of a dark waistcoat, deep red jacket and purple trousers, the Doctor was looking through the TARDIS data banks. This job was hampered by the fact that the filing system was chaotic to the point of randomness.

       He remembered that Mel had organized it ages ago, before he had thrown her out, but still it was orderly enough last night when he recorded his TARDIS log entry, so its current state of a scattered mess was a mild mystery.

       He was therefore having a great deal of trouble finding what he wanted. He had found out a lot of stuff that had never happened, though they would have been nice if true. The exile of his third incarnation for example supposedly was due to merely borrowing a TARDIS. It had been more than just that. There were other things that suggested that he had been what he considered a goody two-shoes. All crap, of course.

       Grace entered the console room. "What happened here? Wow! Looks pretty cool. Why'd you change everything?" She paused to take in the vastly altered chamber.

       The console room was significantly bigger than she remembered it. There was more of the wood paneling and curved supports. Instead of a square scanner screen that had always been mounted by the interior door, there were two monitors, one in the ceiling, and a pull-down monitor.

       The Doctor looked up at her with a look of worry. She had put on a black mini-skirt, red tube-top and a black mini-vest with long arms. She twirled on her high heels. "The wardrobe is great, though", she breathed as he took her in his arms.

       "You look great", the Doctor said gently. "What I've found in the data banks is quite disturbing, though."

       "OK, what's going on?" Grace leaned against the console.

       "Well, listen to this", he said with a slight smirk. "This is the entry I recorded last night, supposedly." The Doctor pressed a button with one hand while twirling his mustache with the other.

       "Grace and I have left Gallifrey after the Key to Time was redistributed, allowing Princess Astra to continue as a normal life form. The Time Lord who served as host for the Black Guardian died after the Black Guardian left his body, and Grace and I have decided to go on a holiday in France. I am going to take a seat now in my armchair and try to finish at least the next page of 'The Time Machine'. I'm beginning to believe that this particular book is bad luck, since something unusual always seems to occur upon my picking it up. Well, one can only hope for the best this time."

       There was a short squawk, and a loud Australian voice emitted from the console. "You can materialize the TARDIS on the freighter and save him," it pleaded.

       The Doctor kicked the console as the familiar voice of his fifth incarnation sadly countered, "Don't ever ask me to do that. I can't ..." With a second kick and a thump on a button or two, the Doctor managed to shut the machine off.

       Grace shook her head with something that went beyond disbelief and into the firm territory of incredulous denial. "It didn't happen like that."

       "Exactly," the Doctor nodded. "The entire databank seems to be inaccurate."

       Grace stood motionless for a moment. Frown lines stood out on her forehead. "A parallel universe?" She remembered the rather far-fetched story she'd read in school about a world where the Allied forces had won the Second World War. After traveling with the Doctor, that story almost seemed plausible.

       "Either that or someone hijacked the TARDIS, reconfigured the interior, rewrote the data banks and ripped our sojourn in your bed apart. Beyond a possible good laugh, I can't think of any motive for doing that. Besides, it would take a tremendous amount of power."

       "Ok, so it's a parallel universe," Grace said. "Someone must still have put us here for some reason."

       "Most likely to stop me from finding my father," the Doctor said, sunk in thought, "or perhaps it's my father trying to reach me for some reason. He's done it before. I dunno." The Doctor circled the console for a couple of rounds. On the way, he kicked at the supports. "I think the best plan is to keep going on the settings that have been programmed into this TARDIS, and prepare for the worst. These preparations will have to be extensive and performed, I believe, in my room. Come on, we haven't much time."

* * *

The TARDIS materialised on a grassy lawn in a park near the Seine. The city sparkled in the early morning sun which struggled to burn away the last vestiges of a light fog.

       The Doctor emerged first and surveyed the terrain. He seemed slightly out of breath and he smoothed his hair back with his right hand. He squinted at the early morning sun.

       "It's early in the morning", the Doctor announced as Grace joined him in a long dress and a cloth umbrella. "Paris, 17th century. Or was it 18th? Whatever. This is where the coordinates were preset to. Romantic, isn't it?"

       Grace looked around before pushing the Doctor up against the TARDIS and graunching just a bit. Then heartily agreed: "Yeah, but your mustache tickles."

       The two made their way through the ever-increasing bustle of carriages and vendors. The Doctor was conspicuously holding a device before him, waving it to and fro.

       "What is that?" Grace asked when she had the opportunity, when he slowed and stopped.

       "It seems to be a Chronon detector. Haven't seen one in ages. Mine broke down at some point, and I can't quite remember how it works. If I'd had one of these, I would have found Ulysses ages ago. As it is, this building seems to have rather high readings." He pointed at the stone structure in front of which he had stopped.

       He pocketed the chronometer carefully, walked up to the gate that served as entrance to the building, and knocked. After about half a minute of no response, the Doctor kicked at the lock. "Damn, open up!" he shouted at the silent door.

       "OK, where's an ax? There. Get me that bar, would you." The Doctor pointed at an iron bar lying on the ground.

       Grace went, picked up the bar, and returned. "Here you go," she said, "but try to keep it down, will you?"

       "Sure, hon." He turned, and began pounding on the lock.

       "Doctor. I think you'd better hurry." Grace pointed down the street. Several gendarmes were running towards them.

       "Just a sec." He kept on pounding on the door. Several holes had already been knocked in the door, and the Doctor tried to enlarge them.

       "Kind sir. Would you please refrain from your activity and step over here please" a voice said behind him. The Doctor turned around to see that Grace was distinctly in the custody of the gendarmes. He personally was being accosted by the head man who was holding a pistol in his general direction.

       "Now, now. We mean little harm. You see, I've lost something in this building, and am merely trying to retrieve it", the Doctor said with as much conviction as he could muster.

       "If that were the case, sir," the man holding the pistol said, "then there are many other ways of retrieving it. In any case this is a bank. And though many people leave a part of their belongings here, very few attempt to regain them in the wee hours of the morning with an iron rod. Now, please, before I need to use force, put down your weapon and keep your hands raised."

       The Doctor saw that it might be a bit hard to reason with the man in this case, and promptly dropped the iron bar he had still been holding. As he raised his hands, he saw relief fill the gendarmes' face. In a sad procession, they were marched down the street, presumably in the direction of the local jail.

* * *

They hadn't gone far when they passed a newsstand. The Doctor leaned over to get a newspaper.

       "Please sir", the gendarme behind him said, supporting any arguments he might have to make with the steady pressure of a revolver in the lower back, "don't try anything unwise."

       "French poetry!" the Doctor exclaimed. "But look at the style. Clearly a message from Ulysses. He's here!"

       "What, Doctor?" Grace exclaimed. "I don't know any French. Does that mean he's in Paris somewhere?"

       "Yes, you stupid girl. That's what I said. Now shut up. Why would he send me messages in poetic form? Perhaps he's being held by the Daleks. Bah! The Daleks couldn't keep him! Being the epitome of emotion, they would be too erratic to hold him. No, no. The mystery is deeper."

       "No doubt, sir. But before you continue in your madness, you have an appointment in the police office. So, if you would please continue on." Once again the policeman drove his gun into the Doctor's back, forcing him to move on.

       But Grace continued talking. "This is hopeless. Do you think you can get out of an attempted bank robbery charge within a couple of hours?"

       The Doctor didn't answer her question. Instead he was looking at a man at the street corner. He was holding a weapon-like object pointed in their direction. *Actually, the only reason one can recognize weapons,* the Doctor mused, *was that people were always holding them in a manner that spoke louder than words "I'm going to hurt you in half a moment"* since there were none of the usual markings on the device. As a screech of power engulfed them all, the Doctor continued to muse on how the weapon in itself could just as well have been a straw that was merely painted a strange color. Before losing consciousness, he realized that Grace had beautiful, long legs, and maybe he could manage to fall just a tad closer to her. The blackness that engulfed his mind at that point kept him from thinking or doing anything else.

To Be Continued...

To be continued...

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