The Universe- a nonsensical void of particles and energy mindlessly drifting about and minding their own business. For some strange, befuddling reason, for hundreds of millennia scientists have felt the need to quantify it, to give a name to something that really didn’t need one. The people of Sol 3 in the Andromeda system have called it ; the metal-eating inhabitants of Teries 4 gave it the rather odd title of and the inhabitants of Gallifrey in the constellation of Kasterborous have named it after their great and powerful leader, calling it . The habitants of Gallifrey are, however, one of the only civilizations in the known universe to make use of the mathematical and biological aspect of this; from their time travelling technology and ability to regenerate, to the most crucial function for our discussion: their manufacture of the finest boots in the universe from the skin of the rare Gallifreyan Elk.
Romana slammed the book shut with a snort. “Ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. How can you possibly read such nonsense, Doctor?”
“You know, I believe hearing deficiency is quite common in OLD PEOPLE, due to the build up of earwax and a defective mental condition caused by the oxidation of nerve cells.”
The Doctor emerged from underneath the console with a sulky look and turned to K9. “Do you hear something, K9?”
“My sensors detects Master’s acoustic pattern echoing and dissipating from the walls of the TARDIS console room, the high frequency waves emitting from the TARDIS console, low energy soundwaves from the kitchen, the swimming pool, the first floor wardrobe, the primary heating unit…”
“Never mind,” said the Doctor with a sigh and turned to Romana. “What’s ridiculous?”
“Oh so you were listening.”
“Of course I was listening. I just wasn’t able to respond while engaged in this task of great importance. We do need to find the next Key, after all.”
Romana arched her eyebrows but choose not to comment. “I mean this book that you suggested I read, Doctor. The Cosmopolitan Traveller’s Guide to Fashion by Banto T Davis.”
“Well, what’s wrong with it? I’ve always thought it a most enlightening book Romana; I’ve had it in my possession since my first regeneration and I’ve always found it extremely helpful.”
“For one, Doctor, it suggests that dressing in multi-coloured clothing is a good way to show off one’s sunny disposition, and also recommends a mixture of patterns and textures to emphasize and contrast the aforementioned colours.”
“Like my scarf you mean?”
Romana glared at the offending scarf. “It also claims here that the Rassilon Root is responsible for making boots! I’ve never heard such nonsense. How can a concept that is the fundamental part of our civilisation be responsible for footwear?”
“Really Romana, as a Time Lady you should know the answer to THAT question. Rodan knew.”
“Rodan? You mean the girl that helped you during the Sontaran Invasion?”
“How did you-“
“Know? You’re forgetting Doctor,” she said a little smugly, “we learnt all about you at the academy. It was part of our studies of contemporary Gallifreyan history.”
“Contemporary WHAT? Really Romana, what tripe are they teaching at the academy these days!”
“It’s an Earth food,” said the Doctor with a dismissive wave of the hand.
“And what does the cuisine of a primitive civilisation have to do with education on Gallifrey?”
The Doctor shrugged noncommittally.
“Well, are you going to explain about the shoes Doctor?”
“What? To an triple first student like you?”
“Well why didn’t you say so in the first place Romana?” The Doctor, knowing he had won, flashed a wide grin. "The Rassilon Root, the mathematics of it anyway, gives our biological systems the fundamental basis to phargocytose and then regenerate our cells; in particular, it provides a conductive path for nerve cells to retain their electrical signature even while the actual structure of all the cells around it is changing during regeneration.”
“Yes, yes, I learnt that bit.”
“The Gallifreyan Elk, as you know, is a rare deer species whose natural habitat is the Mountains of Solace and Solitude. Back in Rassilon’s day, they were almost hunted to extinction for their hide, which produced the most supple, most forgiving boots. There was a general outcry within fashionable society when news came that there were only three elks in existence left. So Rassilon got scientists to use the Root of Understanding to incorporate the regenerative aspects of our biology into the gene of the Elk. So, they are now bred especially for the skin to make boots- and each elk can regenerate thirteen times to provide enough skin for thirteen pairs of boots.”
Romana looked at her boots. Then looked at the Doctor. Then looked back at her boots with a look of bewilderment on her face.
“Some stuffy old senators complained of course- animal rights and so on. But they wanted the boots as much as the next Gallifreyan, and after receiving a couple of free boots from Solace Elks Enterprises, they quietly ceased to oppose the legislation that allowed for the gene to be altered. And you know what the best thing about it is?”
“What?” said Romana in a small voice.
“The regenerative properties of the hides are not destroyed when they are made into boots. They change when the wearer undergoes regeneration. Which is a pity,” said the Doctor a little wistfully. “I really, really, like these boots.”