The Doctor piloted the Tardis smoothly through space time and was whistling to himself. The ship was still fixing itself from the recent temporal storm it went through, but the Heart of Gold, still miniaturized, was aiding the Tardis in flight and navigation.
It even sometimes had a chipper comment to make based on the commands the Doctor made.
The Doctor was reviewing diagnostics on the displays and began to circle the control console, checking for readings and indications on the overall health of the ship.
He paused circling to reflect on his ship and her self repairs with a bit of pride. And there, on the floor of the Tardis, was a naked man.
“What?” The Doctor said.
The man groaned.
“What?” The Doctor said louder.
“Huh?” the man said, opening his eyes and looking about. He sat up and looked about, then looked about himself.
“What?” the Doctor repeated.
“Oh no…” the man said.
“What?” the Doctor said, more disbelief in his voice.
Arthur Dent looked down, then back up to the Doctor.
“Oh no…” he repeated.
The Doctor just stared in surprise.
“Third door to the right…” he mumbled and wandered down the hallway.
He emerged a few minutes later in another outfit.
“Ok,” he started. “What is going on?”
“Why are you here?” the Doctor asked, walking up to Arthur. He got close, looking into the man’s eyes, sniffing him briefly. He looked into Arthur’s ears. “There was no storm, no strange things.”
He circled around him, looking him up and down.
“You don’t bring anything. Are you using a teleportation device?”
“A what?” Arthur asked, almost offended.
“That wouldn’t work, the Tardis would keep you out…”
“I don’t like you implying I am doing this on purpose,” Arthur asked.
“Well, I am not doing it, and there are only two of us,” the Doctor said in frustration. “Or is there…”
“You are entirely too worked up. You know what you need? A sandwich,” Arthur said. “Which way is the kitchen?”
“There isn’t one.”
“There isn’t one,” the Doctor repeated.
The Doctor gave Arthur a scowl.
“Fine, we’ll just have to go to one,” Arthur said and walked to the controls.
“What are you doing?” the Doctor said. “This is incredibly ….”
“Complicated,” Arthur finished. “Yes yes. As is everything with you, isn’t it?”
“Controls.” Arthur pointed somewhere else.
Arthur pointed to the center part.
“That makes noise so probably engine.”
“Ok ok, but still it isn’t easy to steer.”
“Fine, fine. But this time instead of taking me back to where I was, take me to somewhere you can get a decent sandwich and tea. It will be good for you.”
“Wait, where were you?”
“I told you at that party,” Arthur said.
“Yes! They brought out more dip! I’ve never seen a more depressed looking group when it showed up either. I feel like we were there for years.”
“Never ending office party?”
“Only that Zaphod guy seems to like it. Though he is only interested in the same girl I was, which leaves me with nothing to do except talk shop with the guys from the purchasing department.”
“Again,” Arthur added.
“I wonder if it is a time loop, or something.”
“I don’t know much about time loops, but the dip keeps changing, if that helps.”
The Doctor went to the controls of the Tardis.
“Sounds like we need to check it out,” the Doctor said and started to change the ship’s direction.
“With pleasure!” the Heart of Gold said in a particularly chipper voice.
The Tardis silently grumbled to itself.
“It talks now,” Arthur said.
“Oh, that is the Heart of Gold,” the Doctor said. “It is still helping as the Tardis is repairing itself.
“Oh, and it is ‘Time And Relative Dimension In Space’.” the Doctor added.
“Ah, well, glad you remembered this time.” Arthur commented.
The Tardis appeared in the same corner of the party where the Doctor had dropped off Arthur and Zaphod.
“How long ago was that?” the Doctor asked.
“Three? Maybe four dip deliveries?” Arthur asked. “I think I fell asleep out of exhaustion.”
“You slept at a party?” the Doctor asked.
“It is inevitable. In fact the entire accounting department is working in shifts with the chairs on the balcony.”
Arthur pointed. Indeed, outside on one of the balconies several accountants had draped themselves unceremoniously across the furniture.
“They claimed the area pretty quickly; I suspect they knew how long this party would be going on for.”
“Well, they did approve the dip budget,” the Doctor mumbled.
The two wandered about the party for a few minutes. The Doctor stopped and would inspect things occasionally causing Arthur to rather awkwardly avoid conversation with other members of his office.
“Other than the strange cheese plate over there, most things look normal,” the Doctor said.
“That’s cheese?” Arthur asked incredulously.
“Which leads us back to you,” the Doctor said, looking up Arthur again. “What am I missing?”
Arthur was about to rely with something he thought particularly witty when the doors to the party were kicked open. A group of men in matching outfits entered with guns.
“Your friends are here,” Arthur said.
“WE ARE LOOKING FOR ARTHUR DENT,” the one in the middle called out over his megaphone.
“Seems they are your friends now,” the Doctor said. The two exchanged a brief glance before taking off in a run to the Tardis.
“There!” someone yelled.
“Get him!” one of the Keeper’s men yelled.
A pot of petunias sat on a pedestal between the two men and the Tardis. It wasn’t a prize pot of petunias for sure, but it was happy with itself as a whole. When the Doctor ran by at full speed, the air whisked through the leaves, but left it mostly unaltered.
When Arthur ran past he extended his arm to keep balance, knocking the pedestal with it as he passed.
The pot began to wobble to and fro and had but a single thought before it tumbled to the floor and shattered.
“Oh no,” it thought.
The Doctor locked the door to the Tardis and ran to the controls.
“Ok… ok… somewhere quick,” he said, throwing a few levers causing the engine to fire to life.
“Where are we?”
“In orbit,” the Doctor said, looking down at his readings. “Oh, and in the same orbit as Sputnik. Wonder what the probability of that is?”
“How did they know my name. I thought you were the one they wanted.”
“I don’t know either,” the Doctor said. “But I suspect your strange appearances in my Tardis are a part of it.”
The two stood in silence for a moment. Arthur tapped his thumb against the panel in front of him. The ring on his finger made a click click click sound.
“Do you mind?” the Doctor asked.
“Sorry,” Arthur said, awkwardly crossing his arms.
They stood there in silence a few more minutes before the lightbulb went on in the Doctor’s mind.
“Wait,” he said. “What was that sound?”
“My hand…?” Arthur said.
“Yes yes, but there was another sound too,” the Doctor said, grabbing Arthur’s hand. There was a simple gold ring on his thumb.
“Oh, that?” Arthur said, a bit nervous.
“Yes, that,” the Doctor said, looking at it. “You didn’t show up in my ship completely naked, did you Arthur Dent?”
“I was not wearing any clothes,” Arthur said attempting to pull his hand away. The Doctor held fast though.
“And this ring?”
“Yes, it was on my thumb when I woke up.”
The Doctor looked at Arthur, raising one eyebrow.
“Ok, ok! Both times I woke up it was on my thumb. It… uh…”
The Doctor was looking again at the ring. It was plan, no markings really. He tried to pull it off.
“Ow!” Arthur said.
The Doctor looked at him.
“It, uh, doesn’t come off,” Arthur said. “I’ve tried. Several times.”
Arthur pulled his hand away and shook it. The Doctor pulled out his gizmo and scanned it.
“Alien, that is for sure. Not from this time either. Not sure what it does… but I have an idea of something it can do.”
The two looked at each other in silence for a moment.
“This is the part where you tell me where you got it,” the Doctor said after a moment.
“Oh, right, I suppose so…”
The two stared at each other for another moment.
“Ok, ok,” Arthur said. “There is a part of our building that is in research. Research in what? I have no idea, because I am a paper pusher.”
“And that was useful,” the Doctor added.
“Thanks. Anyway, I had to do a run down to research to get a signature because this one scientist wouldn’t come and sign something. So when I was down there, waiting for him to come out, I saw this ring…”
Arthur displayed it on his thumb, all of his fingers were extended.
“It was sitting on the table there… just sitting there. So I tried it. It was too big for my fingers, but fit my thumb just fine. Only then…”
“Only then you couldn’t get it off.”
“No,” Arthur said. “No I couldn’t. So I hid my hand, got the signature I needed and left. I tried several times, because I wanted to return it. Then I woke up in your ship, naked…”
“Yes, yes, I remember that part,” the Doctor said. He considered the evidence for a moment. Then started pulling levers and switching switches.
“Where are you taking us?” Arthur asked, watching displays he still couldn’t read.
“Back to your party, but a few floors lower,” the Doctor said. He had a devious smile on his face. “Let’s see what they were researching.”
The Tardis appeared in the corner of the office building a few floors from the endless office party. For the most part the floor was dark with only the ambient red light of the ‘Exit’ sign illuminated.
The two set out, Arthur quietly directing where to go, but still following the Doctor. A door or two proved to be locked, but only temporarily to the sonic screwdriver.
Despite the Doctor’s earlier protest, Arthur still wanted one.
The Tardis sighed as they slipped from view.
“Hundreds of years I’ve been a blue box because he won’t read the manual,” it said. “I even accidentally took him to the planet where they print it once. He took one look out of the door and said ‘Well this place is useless’ and we left.”
“At least it is a nice color of blue,” the Tardis added.
When the two travelers arrived at the research room two floors below where they left the Tardis. It had one of those thick wooden doors with a thin but long window on the left side. The lights were on inside. The Doctor stopped and peered inside.
“I saw the scientists at the party,” Arthur told the Doctor.
The Doctor nodded and used his screwdriver to open the lock. The two slipped inside, quietly closing the door behind them.
The lab was a large room with stations spaced about it with various states of work on each. The Doctor could almost see the personalities of the researchers: this one was a mess; this one eccentric; slacker; over-worked.
“Ok, which station did you get the ring from?” The Doctor asked, pulling out his gizmo and scanning the room. All the stations were full of alien technology; a great number of them out of time.
“Here,” Arthur said, leading the Doctor to the third station to the right.
“But this station is empty…” the Doctor said, scanning.
“It is now,” Arthur replied, again displaying his hand. “This was the only thing on it.”
The Doctor read his gizmo, scanning the nearby stations as well. The scans were showing readings of an interesting level from behind the door in front of them.
“Hello,” the Doctor said, adjusting the settings. “What is behind door number 3?”
The Doctor began walking towards the door. Behind them the door flew open, and Keeper’s men came inside.
The Doctor looked up, then started for a door. It was, however, not the right one.
“The Tardis is this way!” Arthur said, grabbing the Doctor’s shoulder with one hand. With the other hand, the one with the ring, he closed his hand and stuck out his thumb pointing in the direction of the proper door.
And in that moment, Arthur Dent disappeared.
The Doctor looked where he was, as did all of the Keeper’s soldiers, with a confused look on their faces.
“Huh,” the Doctor said, putting the gizmo in his pocket and raising his hands.
Arthur Dent reappeared inside of the Tardis, but without a Doctor to have his hand on, promptly fell over.
“Ow…” he moaned. “Where in the…”
Arthur looked around, sitting up on the floor.
“The Tardis?” he said to himself, pulling himself up to his feet. “How did I get…”
The gold on his hand caught his eye and he looked at it for a second and suddenly his lightbulb went on.
“Now I understand that look he gets,” Arthur said.
A plan formed in his mind.
“That room had a window, and it was below the party… Now if I can get the Tardis in there, we can get out.”
Arthur started to play with some of the controls, but then hesitated.
“Is there something I can help with?” a very chipper voice said from the center console.
“Oh! Heart of Gold,” Arthur said. “Yes yes, I would like to move the Tardis up two floors.”
“We would be happy to assist you in that!” the ship replied.
The engine or the Tardis fired to life and it dematerialized.
The Tardis was nearly 8 meters from the door. It was 10:32 in the morning, or exactly 32565 seconds since Arthur had fallen asleep. There were three guards. If all of these factors are multiplied together and then by the number of times this incarnation of the Doctor had adjusted his tie it turns out to be exactly equal to the chance that Arthur could have successfully piloted the Tardis on his first try, even with the help of the Heart of Gold.
Only the Doctor was adjusting his tie as it materialized, so instead of appearing two floors up it moved three.
And because the Heart of Gold was attempting to help, instead of appearing upright as a dignified Tardis should, it appeared on its side on the drink table. The table quickly gave way to the weight and the blue box fell to the floor.
The entire party stopped its consumption of dip and fatigued but still polite conversation. The door to the Tardis opened and Arthur awkwardly crawled out, falling over the side onto the floor.
He then reached inside and pulled out a very long length of knitted scarf from inside.
“Arthur?” a familiar voice said. The man stumbled closer a blonde girl on his arm. “Trinity,” he said to the girl. “This is the strange Earthman I was talking about, Arthur Arthurdent.”
“Pleased to meet you,” she said, smiling politely.
“We spoke for three hours!” Arthur commented in frustration. “I have your phone number!”
“Look, no matter. Zaphod, I need your help,” Arthur said, and told Zaphod his plan.
“That way?” he asked when Arthur was done.
“Yes,” Arthur replied, heading to the balcony the accountants had taken hostage.
“You can’t!” one started as Arthur pushed through to the outside. “There is a schedule!”
Arthur stopped paying attention, instead he tied the end of the scarf to the balcony railing.
“You do know,” Arthur said to himself. “This is a horrible, horrible idea. Almost as bad as getting out of bed this morning…”
He took a single look over the balcony.
“Horrible,” he added.
Arthur held the end of the scarf and lept.
The Keeper’s men lead the Doctor into the small room that had so interested his gizmo and therefor had so interested the Doctor.
Inside there was a collection of instruments and lab equipment along the walls that looked very much in place with this time. Along the workbench, however, were alien items that were very much out of place. One in particular, appearing like a metallic egg that was opened up, caught the attention of the Doctor.
“You will wait here,” one of the guards said. “You, put binds on him.”
The other guard moved forward and fumbled with her belt to find the handcuffs.
“Faster girl,” the guard said. “Don’t you know who this is? Incompetent…”
“It’s ok,” the Doctor said to the girl. “Take your time.”
She pulled out the handcuffs finally and wrapped them around the Doctor’s wrists.
“You have to lock them,” he said, nodding down to the sides.
“I told you this new girl was worthless,” one guard said to the guard in charge.
The guard in charged pushed her away towards the window.
“That is what we get for hiring someone from New Baltimore,” he mumbled and proceeded to lock the Doctor’s binds.
The Doctor had that feeling. The feeling said ‘something is about to happen and he should be ready for it.’ It was similar to the feeling that said ‘duck’ but not quite the same. He had this feeling before, that he remembered. He looked up and caught the image of something flying towards the window.
And for once, the sight of Arthur Dent made the Doctor smile.
Arthur struck the window feet first but did not shatter the glass as he expected. Rather he cracked the sides of the window support sending it, and himself, tumbling into the room. Naturally both guards near the Doctor turned to see what the hell was going on.
“What the hell is going on?” the first almost asked.
The Doctor did not hesitate, and struck the closest guard in the face with his elbow, sending the man into unconsciousness. The second guard turned back to the Doctor, his gun in his hand. The Doctor stepped to one side, grabbing the guard’s hand and spinning, throwing the guard into the wall and also into a state of unconsciousness.
“Ow,” Arthur said from the floor.
“That is it!” the girl guard said, pulling off the helmet she wore. “I quit this job. I quit, you hear me!”
The Doctor nodded at her. “I hear you,” he added.
“First the comments about me being a girl, and then the ones about where I am from. You know they superglued my locker shut and blamed it on hair spray??!”
“Sounds wretched…” the Doctor said, slowly stepping back.
“And then!” she continued, “a man flies in a window and LANDS ON ME.”
She turned to give Arthur Dent a very stern look. She had even placed on hand on her hip and was going to point with the other because he had read once that was how stern people looked.
Instead she froze as her eyes fell on Arthur Dent. Arthur had only managed to sit up after his spill through the window, and after his introductory “ow” had sat frozen, staring at the girl in the room.
Then she turned and looked at him for a moment.
And then the moment became a longer moment, so long one wondered where all the time was coming from.
He scrambled to his feet and walked to her, still with an awkward silence about him. Yet they never stopped looking at each other.
“Arthur,” he finally said.
“Fenchurch,” she replied.
“Still in handcuffs,” the Doctor commented.
“Would you like to…” Arthur started.
“Yes,” Fenchurch interrupted.
“But I didn’t ask yet.”
“Sorry,” she said. “Go on.”
“Would you like to go to dinner,” Arthur asked. “With me,” adding on at the end.
“A-hem,” the Doctor said, holding out his bound hands.
Sometimes the universe speaks to you. Usually it is to say things like: you should not have touched that; or don’t you wish you stayed in bed this morning? This time the universe spoke it said something that Arthur Dent had never heard before.
“Yes,” Fenchurch replied.
Arthur walked slowly towards the Doctor, his eyes fixated on her, his face growing into a full, honest smile.
“That’s fantastic,” he said. Arthur, still not looking at anything but her, reached into the Doctor’s pocket and pulled out his screwdriver.
“Hey!” the Doctor said.
“I know a great place,” she said, walking closer. “Seeing as how I am not from this… uh.. time. I think.”
“Ok, where?” Arthur said. He pointed the end of the screwdriver towards the bonds and after a few moments of sonic manipulation, the bond opened. He handed it back to the Doctor never once looking away from Fenchurch.
“It is called ‘The Restaurant’, at it is at the end of the universe. I heard one of the guards,” she kicked the closest one to her, “talking about it.”
“The view is supposed to be fantastic,” she added.
“Friday?” Arthur asked.
“Friday,” she said.
“Arthur?” the Doctor said. He was now looking at the table, specifically the half egg looking thing sitting on it.
“Ask your friend what this is…”
“She has a name,” Arthur replied.
“And I am not sure,” Fenchurch said. Both she and Arthur moved to the Doctor’s side. “They put a gargoyle in one of them and moved it to the …”
“Gargoyle!” The Doctor said, looking at Fenchurch. “Take me to it. Now.”
His demeanor changed immediately. Instead of the absent minded traveller demeanor he had worn since Arthur had met him, the Doctor was now cold, serious. An ancient darkness formed on his face.
“This way,” Fenchurch said, cautiously.
She lead the three of them out of the room and to the stairs. “The transport is parked on the roof, and the storage room is inside.”
The Doctor followed in silence.
If the Tardis had a face, it would be stern and similar to the look the Doctor now had.
The Heart of Gold, on the other hand, was whistling to itself and cheerfully offering up status reports to the Tardis as its systems repaired.
“Oh and the main engines are now at %75!” it added.
The Tardis had been waiting on that specific number.
“You materialized me on my side,” it simply said.
“It was quite a mistake! But I thought that you carried it well! You are a star!”
“You materialized me on my side,” the Tardis repeated. If the Tardis had a jaw, it would be clenched.
“And I was happy to help! I am glad I can be here to aid you in this! Just think of all the future adventures will have! You and ME!”
“Let us, you and I, get something straight. Right. Now.” the Tardis said. It then fired up its engines and dematerialized.
A few seconds, at least in the timeline of the never ending office party, the Tardis reappeared. It was upright, as it should be, and back in the corner. It was refreshed, and from the blue paint to the “Police Box” sign on the top, it looked brand new.
“Do we have an understanding?” the Tardis asked.
“Yes,” the Heart of Gold whispered, and sat silence for the rest of the adventure.
“Good,” the Tardis said. If it had a face, it would have a smile that said ‘serenity.’
On the roof, the three looked at the space ship for a long moment before speaking.
“How many of you were there?” the Doctor asked, not taking his eyes of the open platform. No one had been seen in or out or around while they were there.
“There were six of us,” Fenchurch said. “So three left.”
“Three,” Arthur said.
“I was there when they invented that number,” the Doctor mumbled. “I know what it means.”
He looked left and then right, up the platform, right then left and then set out boldly across the roof.
Arthur and Fenchurch looked at each other. Right before the look fell back into the dangerous longing type of look they turned and followed the Doctor to the ship.
“Left,” Fenchurch said a bit louder than she meant to as they entered the ship. The Doctor turned and followed the hallway down. He opened a door to the right without prompting.
This room was eerily similar to the room from New Chicago the Doctor had awoken in. There was a display shelf on one wall where a full set of something could sit. Presently only a single statuette sat on the shelf. In the center was a consul with cables and a pedastal. Only this time it was not a full chamber device as the Doctor had awoken in, but a single egg shaped item sitting in the center.
“What is this?” Arthur said, pointing very close to the gargoyle.
“DON’T TOUCH THAT,” the Doctor yelled. Arthur recoiled away.
“Don’t touch that,” the Doctor repeated in a much more calm tone. “That… that is compl…”
“Complicated,” Arthur finished.
The Doctor took a deep breath before turning his attention back to the egg shaped device in front of him.
“There are monsters you cannot imagine, Arthur,” the Doctor started. “When time is changed, when a traveller in time does something grotesquely change the flow of time, these monsters come.”
“What, like killing your own grandfather?” Arthur asked.
“Close, but on a bigger scale. The Time Lords called them paradox monsters. We told bedtime stories to our children about them. If ever there were boogiemen in this existence, they are it.”
“And?” Arthur asked, looking back at the statuette in front of him.
“And that is one of them,” the Doctor said. “In a manner of speaking.”
“What manner is that?” Fenchurch asked, wide eyed.
“Someone found a way to trap them,” the Doctor said. He had pulled out his gizmo at this point and was taking several readings on the egg. “To turn them into that little statue there. But know full well that the monster is still in there.”
“But why would they…” Arthur started.
“I don’t know,” the Doctor said, facing the two of them. “But whoever is doing this, did something so egregious to the timeline they called in at least a dozen of these monsters, and then decided to trap them one by one.”
“This,” the Doctor said, motioning to the egg. “It is a battery. Standard positive and negative poles, provides a voltage across it. Only catch is it has one of these gargoyles in it as the energy.”
Arthur and Fenchurch looked at the gargolye, then the egg, then each other, then the Doctor.
“Fenchuch, are there escape pods on this ship?” the Doctor asked.
“Y…yes,” she said.
“Take me to them.”
Fenchurch lead the two to the right side of the ship where for escape pods sat. The Doctor went to the control panel of one and between it, his screwdriver and the gizmo began to work.
“You said New Balitmore, yes?”
“3521,” she answered.
“Ok, we are sending you back. Now,” he replied after a moment.
Fenchurch and Arthur looked at each other one last time with that look.
“Friday,” she said, almost questioning.
“Friday,” Arthur answered with determination.
“Now,” the Doctor said, “this will take you back there, but probably won’t do much good afterwards. If I were you, I’d avoid the Keeper from now on.”
“Don’t worry, Doctor. Great benefits, they said. Health care and paid vacation they said. Forgot the dangerous missions and the being shot at parts…”
The Doctor forced a smile as he closed the door. Without ceremony he hit the button ejecting the pod. Then he turned and walked back to the room with the egg.
Arthur watched as the pod faded out of view. His eyes and Fenchurch’s were locked on until she was gone.
“Funny,” he mumbled to himself. “That pod sounded just like…”
“Arthur!” the Doctor called.
Arthur ran to the room and found the Doctor once again staring at the egg.
“This is bad, right? That is why you sent her away.”
“This is bad,” the Doctor said. “That is why I sent her away.”
The two looked at the egg again.
“There is a paradox monster inside of that container, Arthur Dent. A monster that has no desire stronger than to eat the very timeline itself until it returns back what it was… or what it should be… or just collapses into a endless spiral of …”
“Ok ok, I get it, it has badness inside. So what is the issue?”
“That container isn’t going to hold it,” the Doctor said. “In fact, it is already breaking.”
The two looked at the egg.
“So?” the Doctor asked.
“So, this is the part where you have a brilliant idea.”
“I only have a bad idea,” the Doctor said.
“Take off your shirt,” the Doctor said.’
“Wrap that gargoyle in your shirt and bring it. Whatever you do Arthur Dent, do not touch it. Your date depends on that.”
Arthur did as the Doctor told him.
The Doctor watched at Arthur then reached out and grabbed the egg, pulling the wires from it. The alarm went off. The computer started beeping in several different beep languages quite a large list of errors. The lights on the egg went from green to red.
“Time to go,” the Doctor said.
The two ran down the hallway and to the ramp to the roof.
“Friends of yours?” Arthur said.
“Yours too!” the Doctor answered. Naturally, neither actually stopped running out of the ship despite the very authoritative tone of the command.
There were some shots fired, but they missed. The two ran to the door to the stairs and began bounding downwards.
“To the party floor,” Arthur yelled from behind as the sounds of the three other Keeper’s men ran into the stairs as well.
“I moved the Tardis,” Arthur said.
“WHAT?” the Doctor yelled over his shoulder.
“Later,” Arthur said. There were shots from above and the egg in the Doctor’s hands began to smoke.
They burst through the door onto the floor with the party. Into the party room they ran, throwing open the door with much bravado.
“Now Zaphod!” Arthur yelled. He grabbed the Doctor by the waist and threw them to the floor.
The three men dressed in matching outfits provided to them by the Keeper ran in behind them. Immediately they were assaulted by an arrangement of flying chips, dip and other party finger foods. They were not launched individually, but rather from one of the punch bowls strapped down like a very large slingshot.
The assorted mess knocked the men off their feet, guns sent flying. The party goers grabbed the weapons and held the guards fast.
A woman, in her fifties or so, walked towards them.
“Oh no,” Arthur said. “Now they are in trouble.”
“Who is that?” the Doctor asked.
“Dorothy Parks,” Arthur said. “She coordinates the office socials. She really, really doesn’t like it when you don’t RSVP…”
The two climbed to their feet. The egg was beginning to smoke less like a small electronic device and more like a small forest fire you could hold in your hands.
“Here!” Arthur said, running to the Tardis. He went in first. The Doctor stopped at the door and looked for a very brief moment at his craft.
“Well, well,” he said. “Don’t you look fantastic!”
The Tardis glowed.
He ran inside, still holding the egg.
“It is failing and quickly…” the Doctor said.
“And that is bad,” Arthur said dropping the wrapped gargoyle to the floor. “Tell me what to pull, push, spin, open, or play like a drum on this thing.”
“Third lever to the right, pull it a third of the way down,” the Doctor said. He had moved to a side pedestal and carefully placed the egg down. The smoke had turned to black.
“The big wheel to the left, four times around clockwise,” the Doctor said. He pulled out his gizmo to do some readings.
“Made that five times,” the Doctor said and joined Arthur at the controls. Switches flew, buttons pressed.
“Hold on,” the Doctor said. “It is going to get cold.”
He threw the long lever and the Tardis fired to life.
“Cold?” Arthur asked.
The Doctor grabbed the egg again and went to the front door.
“Very,” he yelled as it opened.
In front of Arthur was space. Not just the kind that exists between a person and the TV remote, but vast, open space. Arthur, who had never left his home country to see the French countryside had most certainly never thought he would be here.
He walked, stunned, closer to the door.
“Wow,” he mumbled.
Space is big. Really big. Like bigger than you can possibly imagine, big. Arthur was understanding that for the first time.
The Tardis turned some and the cold started. Outside, much closer than the infinite unknowns, a bright blue star came into view.
“Cold star,” the Doctor said, looking over his shoulder.
Arthur wrapped his hands around his torso. Cold indeed.
The Tardis moved closer. The Doctor took the egg in both hands and threw it hard out of the door towards the star.
“Will that… kill it?” Arthur asked through shivering teeth.
“No,” the Doctor said, watching the egg until it was no longer visible. “But it will slow it down.”
He closed the door, and the room began to once again heat up.
“So,” the Doctor said. “Explain to me, exactly, how you moved my Tardis.”
Arthur gulped and then began talking, starting from when he disappeared.
“Interesting,” the Doctor said when he was done. “So you think this ring is a transportation device?”
“Yes, like a hitchhiker’s dream, you just stick out your thumb…”
“So why were you naked?” the Doctor asked.
“Uh… well, I was dreaming.”
“Nevermind,” the Doctor interrupted.
“So, do you ever, you know, bring someone along with you?” Arthur asked.
“It has been known to happen. Are you asking to come join me?” The Doctor asked, betraying a bit of sadness in his voice.
“Yes, I was, well, thinking maybe I could come and see… all of it.”
The Doctor thought for a moment, trying to think of anything but Sami, anything at all.
“I can’t, Arthur. I’m sorry. Not now… The Keeper.”
“Right,” he replied with disappointment. “Right.”
The two stood in an awkward moment.
“Well, let me take you home,” the Doctor said. “First let’s get that ring off your finger, shall we?”
The Doctor started walked towards Arthur. In that moment Arthur did something he was not used to doing: he made a decision.
“And let you have all the fun?” Arthur said. The Doctor looked at him with a bit of confusion.
“Besides,” Arthur continued. “I have a date.”
And with that the Hitchhiker stuck out his thumb and disappeared.
The Doctor set the new gargoyle next to the previous one. He took readings on both. In this state, they were stable.
Still they made him nervous.
“The amount of power you could provide is unspeakable almost,” the Doctor said to the statues. “So what is he doing that needs so much power that they are making a full set of you?”
“What did he do to call you here in the first place?”
More questions, he thought. The Doctor went to the controls of the Tardis and started to set a new course.
“Wait,” he said suddenly. “The end of the universe is on a Tuesday…”