"Really?" said the Doctor, raising one eyebrow in distaste.
The Sloon did a reasonable impression of a sack of worms deflating. The tentacles helped, though it lost a point for all the teeth.
Not without effort, the Doctor resisted the temptation to roll her eyes. Honestly. Give a species half a transkattal powering range and they think they're the Daleks.
The Sloon attempted to pull itself together in a show of tentacle-laced courage. "We will destroy the humans. We will destroy all your little pets!" Specks of green spit flew out of its mouths when it talked, hardening as they hit the air.
The Doctor gave it another withering look. "I don't know which of my selves you've met before now, but this particular model doesn't come equipped with, oh, what was it?" She made a show of picking some of the green spit from her coat and letting it drop onto the floor. "Ah, yes. Caring."
The Sloon's tentacles waved some more. "We will destroy the humans! The Sloona will rule over all!"
There seemed little point in not rolling her eyes. The Doctor raised one hand to shoulder height and snapped her fingers.
Behind the Sloon, there was a loud crunch as the TARDIS landed on the transkattlal powering range, turning it into a harmless pile of wires and membrane. The Sloon spun round, tentacles whirling around its head like they were in a particularly ill-advised Earth shampoo advert.
"Now," said the Doctor, "I'm going to ask you one more time. Really?"
"...right," the woman said, looking at Jane's clipboard with a mixture of disapproval and disappointment. She flicked through the pages quickly, and Jane half expected her to take out a red pen and start writing comments in the margins.
"But you mustn't worry," Jane tried. "The captain was here earlier. He says it's perfectly safe."
"Hm." The woman handed Jane back her clipboard, and started to examine one of the side panels, prying it up with a coin and then letting it flick back down. "That's my favourite kind of safe."
"Well," mused the woman, "that or actually safe. I never can decide."
Jane was suddenly struck by the fact that the woman, as well as being awfully rude, awfully dressed and awfully in the way, was also awfully young. "Are you sure you're meant to be here?"
The woman held her ID up to Jane again, not even sparing her a glance. For a second, before Jane could focus properly, the words specialist, expert and more qualified than you could possibly imagine seemed to appear, before settling down into the familiar stamps of an official pass.
"It's just--" Jane blinked. No, definitely still an official pass. With a photo and everything. "The sort of training it takes to f-- to fiddle with those controls, that takes years."
The woman sighed, pushed her hair back from her face and finally looked Jane straight in the eye. Jane flinched, then took a step back without really being able to say why.
"Yes," said the woman. "Quite."
Yanlin watched the man rummage through a box of junk he'd pulled down from her parents' attic. If it would save her mother, she could put up with any number of crazed doctors squatting on her floor and muttering to themselves.
"Boring," he said, pulling out something that looked like a cross between a bird cage and a jelly baby. He threw it over his shoulder; it landed with a squelch on the pile of junk he'd already examined.
"Boring," he said, letting an electric screwdriver follow it onto the the pile.
Next, he pulled out a bright green miniature canoe. "Ooh," he managed, but then his face fell. "No suboptic node." It flew onto the pile.
Yanlin fought the urge to offer him another cup of tea. It would only end up nestled between the screwdriver and the canoe.
The next three objects -- one metallic, one rubbery and one visible only to the man -- were respectively boring, broken and both.
"Right," he said, looking up at her for the first time. "Earth? Early twenty-first century? Developed nation?"
"Then I'm going to need three barrels of paint, an otter, seventeen batteries and some cement."
She nodded again. Sandra worked at the zoo, and Sandra's girlfriend's dad was in construction.
At that, he looked a little disappointed. "You're not going to ask me why I need the cement?" He looked at her expectantly.
"...why do you need the cement?"
"Oh, I don't," he said, grinning happily. "I just threw that in to make it hard."
The Doctor looked around the room with a bemused smile. There were soft furnishings, and several obvious, unguarded exits. The walls weren't screened against matter translocation, and there appeared to be a minibar in one corner. "This is your idea of a prison?" he said to his captors, who were glowing blue with pleasure.
They nodded their second heads frantically. "Good prissson?" one hissed.
"And, just to be absolutely sure on this one little point, I'm your prisoner?" he asked, tapping his screwdriver to his lips. They hadn't confiscated it, or anything else. They hadn't even clamped his TARDIS. Admittedly, there were seventeen of them and one of him, but then, he was the only one who came up to higher than his own knees.
They nodded again, just as frantically.
"And when you do that--" He indicated their nodding heads with a tilt of his own. "--that means yes?"
They nodded some more.
"Ah. You're going to have to say something for that one."
"Yessss." The same captor who'd spoken before -- whom the Doctor had mentally nicknamed Jack for reasons he was sure would become clear to him once his memories returned -- answered him again. "Thisss prissson. You prisssoner. Deeeath. Deeeath to Doctor."
The captors were covered in soft, downy fur. The Doctor resisted the temptation to ruffle Jack's heads. "Death to the Doctor, yes. Tell me," he said. "I'm having difficulty placing your species. The willful ignorance, the charming inability to conceive of more powerful life forms, the minibar. Are you humans?"
"Nobody panic!" shouted a woman's voice. "I'm the Doctor!"
Max looked up from his newspaper just long enough to check that no one else was panicking either. That confirmed, he fixed his eyes firmly on the latest news from the talks with Khrushchev and hoped the shouting would stop. Midday drunks could be so difficult sometimes.
"Really, I mean it. Nobody panic!"
This time, Max kept his face hidden behind the paper. There was no point in senselessly risking the embarrassment of making eye-contact with the woman.
"No hysteria! I cannot abide hysteria! Or weeping. And try not to throw up too much on that nice gentleman over there."
Her voice was like a foghorn. Honestly, Max was a modern man, but sometimes women did need to remember moderation.
"And above all," the voice continued, relentlessly ploughing its way into his lunch hour. "Above all, if you must weep and you must wail and you must clutch each other in some sort of tearful contemplation of the temporary nature of human life, do please try not to get in my way."
There was something unsettling about her voice, as if perhaps she could see something he couldn't. He looked up again, telling himself it was just to check she wasn't coming his way, and saw a plump, motherly looking woman walking towards him with a large, glowing stick.
"Right," said the woman, waving the stick in the air with a hissing noise. "Now we've established the ground rules, let me tell you a story."
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