Everyone was filing out as the Arcade began to close. The Doctor had wandered off slightly, observing the other visitors play their games in silence. Lights were now being turned off, and power was being rerouted. Piper was practically the last one playing, and she was taking an awfully long time in that VR game. As the Doctor walked back toward her, a Vinocci, a green man with spikes coming out his face, came up from behind him.
“Oh, um, excuse me, is she yours?” The Vinocci asked politely.
“Yeah, she is” the Doctor replied.
“My apologizes. The arcade is closing. We need her to exit the game. I was going to do an override…”
“Oh, of course! Yeah, do that.”
The Vinocci walked up the platform where the chair Piper sat was. He pulled up a tablet on the back. The Doctor noticed that Piper was sweating. Her hands were gripped tightly on the armrests. Her teeth were also clenched, and she squinted her eyes tightly in distress. The Doctor raised an eyebrow and approached the chair.
“That’s weird…” said the Vinocci, “It won’t let me override the headset.”
The Doctor pulled his sonic screwdriver from his pocket and pointed it at Piper’s headset. Nothing changed. He looked behind the seat where the tablet was and found a flash drive looking key plugged into a socket. The Vinocci stepped aside, surprised. The Doctor held the screwdriver next to the keyhole and turned it on. He eyed the tablet screen closely.
“Access Denied. Override 4117” the screen read.
“It’s already overridden” the Doctor announced, unnerved.
The Vinocci scoffed. “How can that be possible? This terminal hasn’t been touched all day until now, and security watches for unidentified signals.”
“Well, they weren’t watching close enough, were they?” The Doctor remarked.
He straightened and ran to the front and scanned Piper’s vital signs.
“Her heartbeats have increased dramatically. Something’s wrong.”
“Wait, who are you anyway? I shouldn’t have allowed you in the system, you’re a visitor!”
“I’m the Doctor,” he announced turning around, a more hardened, serious look on his face, “And if you if you don’t let me help, you’re going to be in a whole world of hurt!”
“What are you doing? Let me out!” Piper cried.
“I just couldn’t pass up an opportunity like this!” exclaimed Mr. Monroe, a sick kind of excitement filling his voice, “The universe has spend hundreds of years believing the guardians of the universe were no more, or just a myth! And yet, here you are!”
“I’m not a Timelord” Piper rejected, firmly.
Mr. Monroe scoffed.
“I’ve scanned your physiology from the avatar matrix, don’t try to lie to me! You have two hearts. No one has two hearts other than the Timelords!”
Piper winced, and couldn’t help but retort: “Well, now I feel violated. That’s just rude!”
Mr. Monroe landed on the same platform she stood on. Piper was about to take another step back.
“Any further, and you’ll fall off” Mr. Monroe warned.
“Someone will know I’m gone! And when they do, they’re going to be mighty cross with you!” Piper snapped.
“I’ve gathered that. I’m detecting fear, but also love. You’re not alone on this station. I suspect you don’t even belong in this time given how you’re dressed.”
Piper looked down, then growled.
“Come on, that’s creepy! What’ve you got!? Invisible screens? MRI scans on my brain? I can’t believe freely reading my emotions is considered legal in this day and age-!”
“-2008” Monroe cut her off.
“You’re from 2008. Interesting year. A lot of foolish economic decisions involving money, and America’s first black president. A lot of good pop music though.”
Piper folded her arms across her chest. “There doesn’t seem to be much point keeping me here if you already know everything!”
Mr. Monroe was suddenly becoming preoccupied with his observations of data, data that Piper couldn’t see. Piper rolled her eyes.
“Are you even listening to me? You’re giving very mixed messages, Monroe, mister evil lord of darkness!”
Then, Mr. Monroe gave her a surprised stare. He mumbled something under his breath, too low for her to hear.
Then, he announced: “It seems that I’m going to have to use different means of extracting information from you. Using force would be detrimental, and quite frankly foolish” he stated.
He waved his hand in a half-circular motion. Suddenly, the environment around her began to change. The council chamber of the Timelords faded away, and was replaced with dull, clay walls. They formed around her in a square box. Piper then realized what was happening. Before she could say anything else, or react, Mr. Monroe literally closed the lid of the room.
“Of course. A jail cell. Wonderful” Piper muttered, sarcastically.
She looked around. The room was barren, other than an open door and a window. She walked up to the entrance, and cautiously put her hand out.
“Ouch!” she exclaimed.
The entrance suddenly flashed an electronic flash.
“A force field barrier. Yep. I’m still in Gallifrey. Thankfully, it’s not cranked up high. Otherwise, I would have been knocked out cold.”
Then, she bit her lip.
“I hope you know what’s happened Uncle Doctor, and have a plan of getting me out.”
The station had entirely been closed at this point. but not just closed for the evening. It was in lockdown. All signals had been cut off from the arcade. No one else was allowed in or out. The Doctor ripped off the backing of the system on the platform, and pulled all the wiring out.
“What’s the meaning of this!?” exclaimed a voice.
A fat man with a comb over bald head, hobbled his way over. The Doctor got onto his stomach, and started to tinker away. The nervous Vinocci rushed forward.
“There’s been a security breath, sir. A young woman is trapped in one of the VR systems” he explained, nervously.
“So? Just use the override code, Mister Isaach!” The man bellowed.
“I tried that, Mr. Aikens. But it’s been overridden already. Deadlocked.”
“Call the police then!”
“No! No police please!” the Doctor called, nonchalantly.
Mr. Aikens was surprised he didn’t catch the being in strange clothing entangling himself in the circuitry. Suddenly, something clicked.
“Ah, lovely!” he exclaimed.
“Who the heck are you!?” Mr. Aikens shouted.
The Doctor rose to his feet.
“Doctor John Smith. Master Engineer” he announced.
He immediately rushed back to the tablet. He managed to get past part of the override, and get into the Vital Signs Module.
“Gotcha!” He hissed.
He was relieved to see she wasn’t as anxious as she was before.
“You don’t want the police to help your daughter?” Isaach inquired.
“She’s my niece,” the Doctor corrected.
“Well, whoever you are, get away from those controls! You don’t work here!” exclaimed Mr. Aikens.
“Sorry Mr. Aikens but that’s not gonna happen.”
“You think you’re smarter than our technicians?” Mr. Aikens chuckled in disbelief.
The Doctor raised his head, and looked at the obese man with widened, irritable brown eyes.
Piper’s head nodded side to side. She had been sitting in the cell for what seemed like hours, and she was so bored. There was nothing she could do, or nothing around to entertain herself with. Nothing would be in the room that the administrator of the game wouldn’t allow. Piper wondered what her kidnapper might have been doing at that moment.
“He’s certainly not going to get any information out of me by making me extremely bored!” She remarked.
As she was saying this, she heard something. It was really close by; the flickering sound of electricity. It sounded like something short-circuited. Piper hopped back onto her feet and looked around. She approached the door, and reached out her hand. Surprisingly, she didn’t hit a barrier this time. Her hand wet straight through. Cautiously, she slowly stepped out into the open air.
It was dark, except for the illumination of the ringed planet above the atmosphere. The ancient city was barren, and cold, yet clean.
“I remember this…” Piper breathed.
She pulled her coat in tighter.
“The outskirts of the city were always like this during blackouts.”
She began to walk, slowly through the streets. Deep, buried thoughts started to resurface in her mind. Ashes falling, cities burning, forest falling.
Her head began to throb. She rubbed it as she progressed. She could hear the shouting of muffled voices in her head, screaming in terror, the sound of lasers, and cannons firing. One voice, one terrible hive mind chanting in unison with each other.
Suddenly, a shot flew past her and exploded near the end of the street. She whirled around. A domed figure emerged from the dark: a robot, with a single eyestalk. It almost looked like salt and pepper shakers, with a mixer and toilet plunger attached to its front. Anyone else who saw it would laugh at it, giggling over it’s humorous design. How could something as silly as this be threatening?
Only, it wasn’t funny to Piper. She knew full well the damage it could cause, what it did cause. She screamed in terror. The eyestalk turned and stared at her straight in the face.
“EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE!” It shouted in a screeching, angry tone.
Piper started stepping back quickly, then turned to sprint. Another laser flew past, hitting another building. As the rounded the corner, she could see dozens of people, sweating, stained with dirt, some armed with guns, and some not. The ones with guns fired at the robots. The robots fought back, shooting down almost all of them. Piper was being knocked around by all the terrified civilians cramming to get behind her.
“The Last Great Time War!” Exclaimed a booming voice, that echoed across the land.
The other people didn’t seem to hear the voice as they kept clamoring.
“Gallifrey Falls!” the voice cried again.
Piper was now too terrified to react. She froze in place, unable to move. Unable to contain herself, she shouted, “UNCLE DOCTOR! HELP ME!”
The Doctor could hear her, hissing and fidgeting, frightened in her seat. She panted, and whimpered, and shook. He turned his screwdriver up to full power, and pushed it into the control panel.
“Agh, come on! Come on!” He grunted, his voice quickly rising to furious-shouting.
The screen flashed “Access denied,” then fizzled into, “Access granted.”
“That game wasn’t supposed to be a horror game!” Mr. Aikens exclaimed.
“Well somebody made it that way!” The Doctor snapped.
He dug through the modules until he found the Running Data Module. Numbers and letters ran faster than anyone could read. That is, except for the Doctor.
“What?” He gasped in disbelief.
“What is it, what’s happening?” cried Issach.
“That’s not right” the Doctor continued to mumble.
The programs running in the game simulation had disturbingly familiar names. Two in particular, startled him.
He stared at it for a moment. Who was the maker of this seemingly innocent game that knows the word, Gallifrey, let alone what it was!?
“No wonder she’s so terrified!” He mumbled under his breath.
Then, he announced, “I’ve got to delete some of this programming!”
“Woah, woah! Hold on a second, mate!” Mr. Aikens exclaimed, “I understand you’re determined to get your girl out, but we pay good money, beta or not, to have these games on display in this station! If you delete files, we may have the chuck the entire game out!”
Those words stung the Doctor. This man just poked the hornet’s nest. Except that hornet’s nest was the Doctor. A flicker of light turned into a heated flame burning furiously his chest. The Doctor straightened, and looked straight into Mr. Aiken’s eyes.
“Would you rather word get out that a young girl was killed in your station because you would rather save a bucket full of numbers and code than a real live being!?” he snapped, “What’s worse is that you’ll have me to deal with! And you don’t want to make me angry!”
Mr. Aikens held his tongue.
Issach shuffled his feet nervously up to his boss.
“Er, sir, he has a point. If the young lady isn’t removed from the headset within the next twenty-one hours, she could suffer death, or serious brain damage. It would be damaging to Earth’s alliances with other species like mine if they hear there had been a death” he added, barely audible.
Mr. Aikens retorted, then sighed, defeated. “Do what you must.”
But the Doctor was already in the process of deleting the files of code. He wasn’t going to wait for a human’s authority to save Piper.
Thanks for reading! Leave a like and comment if you enjoy! Happy Holidays! 🎄