Part 2 – So the few took on the many… sort of.
After the Doctor’s exclamation, any weapons that had been holstered at his previous outburst had once again been drawn and were pointing at him and Donna.
“It’s not a bad thing, I promise,” the Doctor yelled, preempting the obvious question, “I just know that you are all very important and have a noble cause. See, this is why I hate guns, you humans use them to do your thinking for you.”
“You’re a prophet?” Chana asked, stepping forward.
“Umm, well, I’m a time-traveler, really. So if you mean prophet in the sense that I know what’s to come, then yes, I’m a prophet; but if you mean prophet in the sense of receiving divine knowledge from a higher power then, nope, sorry. Not a prophet.”
Matthias’ eyes narrowed, but he holstered his weapon yet again and communicated wordlessly with Chana for a moment.
“Come with us.” He gestured to the Doctor; “if you’ve been to the future then you have future knowledge and may be able to help us with this.”
On the way to the engineering deck, Matthias, Judith and one of Matthias’ other children, Simeon, explained briefly the current situation in their star system (Shalym Minor) to the Doctor, while Chana ushered Donna away to both interrogate her and show her around the ship.
It turned out that High Commander Paniapetos, years ago, had originally been one of the king’s main advisors, but when the king died suddenly of a foreign disease, Paniapetos and others on the king’s council had seized power, declared himself High Commander, and now the people were under martial law. Using the former king’s sickness as an excuse, the High Commander had begun an interstellar war against anything overtly foreign, forcing many of the people to escape to unsettled satellites and colonies on the outskirts of the Shalym System. Some ran because they looked different; some ran because they didn’t agree; and some had to run because they had fought and were branded traitors.
Unfortunately, being that far away from the central planets on worlds that hadn’t been ready for life on that scale yet meant that the refugees were not self-sufficient and relied on secret rebel ships to bring them supplies for survival. The ship that Matthias captained was one of these ships, but they didn’t only have to deal with the regular dangers of space travel and government spies and blockades, they also had to deal with pirates. Some of who actually were undercover working for the High Commander.
This was the scene that the Doctor walked into on the engineering deck. The aftermath of a pirate attack.
“So,” Donna began as she followed Chana, “must be an exciting life. Is it worth it?”
“Sometimes,” Chana replied. “We had just been attacked by pirates before you two showed up, so you can see why we were so suspicious. We don’t only carry supplies for refugees; we also carry weapons for the rebels who are hiding out among them. Matthias thinks that one day we’ll eventually be able to overthrow the High Commander and take back Shalym Minor.”
Donna had protested being sent off away from the Doctor, but he had explained that if she could better understand the people onboard, it would be easer for them to help and not be taken prisoner. (Again). Chana, who had taken a liking to Donna, offered to lead the tour. She explained that she was one of the cooks onboard while she showed Donna the different aspects of the ship.
“This is brilliant,” Donna commented once they were back where they had begun, “you really have it down to a system here. The Doctor never seems to know what he’s doing unless there’s trouble. It’s fun, but it’s also wild.”
Chana laughed. “We’re usually on a schedule, so everyone doing their job is important. Other people depending on us, you know? I’d love to travel, but I know what I’m doing here is important as well.”
Donna thought back to all the places she had been with the Doctor so far, and all the people they had saved.
“Yeah, I know.”
“Any ideas, Doctor?” Judith asked.
“You were right,” he said eventually, slipping his sonic screwdriver back into his pocket, “one of the fuel cells is damaged, but I can’t fix it. I’m so sorry.”
Matthias swore and clenched his hands, “these people are counting on us! We have around day of fuel left, but our destination is still over eight days of travel away.” He turned to face the Doctor again, “go find your companion and go, Doctor, there’s nothing else you can do for us here.”
The Doctor didn’t budge.
“What are we going to do, father?” Simeon asked, ignoring the Doctor.
“I don’t know,” Matthias sighed, “the nearest place we can stop to safely fix this is Altos IV, but that’s still at least a day away in the wrong direction, and it’s not a sure thing. No matter what, we’re going to be letting down people that are counting on us. They need these supplies.”
“Would it be possible to borrow a smaller ship from Altos IV and go ahead?” Judith put in, “I mean, take some of the supplies so the rebels aren’t completely out of luck?”
“You know,” the Doctor interrupted, “I may not be able to fix your damaged fuel cell, but I can still help.”