CHAPTER FIVE THE AZTEC ZONE

Music played. Familiar Music. Familiar at least to some of the incarnations of The Dr. in any case. Certainly it was familiar to the Allucian Dr. and suspected its presence, coupled with the surroundings he found himself in when he exited Raljex’s portal, were for his benefit. As the challenger, Raljex had set up the games in a format that The Allucian Dr. would not only be able to understand, but would also know the rules without explanation. Even though something so enjoyable and light hearted was going to be the possible tool of his destruction, the idea of it brought a smile to The Dr.’s lips. ‘What the fuck are you so happy about?’ Fifth snapped at him angrily. ‘Nothing,’ Fourth said, waving a hand dismissively. ‘Then wipe that stupid fucking grin off your face,’ Fifth said, turning away to peer at their surroundings. The Dr.’s thirteen incarnations stood in a jungle clearing. The sun beat down on them harshly and the cries of animals filled their ears. A way off, in an identical clearing stood The Manager’s incarnations who were buzzing with activity. ‘Come on!’ Ninth shouted over his shoulder. ‘What are you all waiting for?’ The Dr.’s mulled forwards and saw that before them was a large stretch of calm river. It stretched off towards a bank in the distance where the form of Raljex could clearly be seen waiting for them. ‘Pissflaps!’ Fifth shouted, diving forward through the throng of his own incarnations where Ninth and Twelfth had already thrown themselves into the awaiting boat, taking up oars. ‘COME ON!’ He shouted over his shoulder to those who were lagging behind. The boat had already started to pull away from the bank, spurred on by Ninth and Fifth’s rowing, forcing the remaining Dr.’s to jump. A silent consensus passed between Third and Sixth who both took hold of the inept Seventh incarnation and tossed him like a sack of potatoes into the craft where he curled into the foetal position and sat chewing on his fingers. ‘GET ROWING!’ Twelfth cried, holding his ore aloft as all of The Dr.’s tried to squeeze into the impossibly tiny canoe. ‘Oh, this is intolerable!’ Third complained as he was squashed forwards. ‘Maybe it would be easier to swim,’ he suggested, peering into the gloomy depths. ‘Wouldn’t advise it,’ Sixth said, holding up his ore that had two large, angry-looking piranhas hanging on to it. ‘I’m still game,’ Ninth said, taking off his leather jacket. ‘And that’s why you don’t live to be a thousand,’ Eleventh muttered quietly. ‘What was that?’ Thirteenth asked angrily, shooting an angry glance up his incarnations. ‘Nothing,’ Eleventh said sheepishly. ‘We do not discuss our respective liv-’ ‘Lives or deaths, exploits or anything that may disrupt our practice, thoughts or feelings and cause possible stress, undue sorrow or give any kind of hint or advantage towards future endeavours,’ Eleventh groaned. ‘I know, I was kidding,’ he turned to Ninth. ‘Ignore what I said, you live to a ripe old age.’ ‘Don’t tell him that either!’ Thirteenth exclaimed, throwing his hands up in exasperation. ‘Why not?’ Eleventh shrugged. ‘You never know, I might be lying.’ ‘Get Sexterminated,’ Ninth said harshly. ‘Ha-ha,’ Eleventh said quietly. ‘You first.’ ‘CAN WE PLEASE GET BACK TO FUCKING ROWING?!’ Fifth shouted angrily, flailing his own ore at his other selves. ‘OR DO YOU WANT TOSS-FEATURES OVER THERE TO BEAT US?!’ That was enough to spur the twelve capable Dr.’s into action, rowing furiously towards the bank that still seemed to be a long way off.

With much furious rowing, several choice words between Fifth and the other incarnations, it was only a matter of minutes before The Dr.’s were collapsing onto the bank, clambering over eachother and celebrating as they saw The Managers’ boat pull up a short while later. ‘HA!’ Ninth shouted to the assembling Nemeses as they calmly filed out of their own canoe. ‘WE WIN! SUCK ON THAT!’ Raljex looked over and shook his head. ‘You do not get points for getting here first,’ he said simply. ‘Say-what-now?’ The Sixth Dr. said angrily, grabbing tufts of his dyed purple hair. ‘You get no points for this,’ Raljex said with a slight shrug. ‘That was merely your entrance into the games.’ ‘Too bad there old sport,’ The Tenth Manager cackled, adjusting the tie of his tan suit. ‘Looks like you’ve gone and tired yourselves out over nothing.’ ‘Who … says’ we’re … tired?’ The Eighth Dr. panted, head between his knees with sweat trickling out of his mass of curly black hair. ‘Amateurs,’ The Fourth Manager sneered harshly at them. ‘Right then!’ Raljex said, twirling around on the spot theatrically and was suddenly clad in a long leopard-print coat, sunglasses, crocodile-skin boots and a fedora. ‘I suppose by now at least some of you know where we are.’ ‘The Jungle?’ The Seventh Manager said in his thick Irish droll and gave the foliage a look of disdain. ‘Shut up!’ The Eighth Manager snapped at him. ‘If you don’t know then say nothing at all, you’ll make us look foolish!’ ‘Well, it’s not like any of that lot are going to know if we don’t?’ The Seventh Manager snapped back even more sharply, gesturing at the assembled Dr.’s. ‘Oh contraire,’ The Sixth Dr. said with a smirk, stepping forwards. ‘I don’t think there’s a one of us lot that don’t know where we are … aside maybe from Seventh … but he think’s he’s a toaster.’ ‘Then they clearly have an unfair advantage!’ The Fourth Manager protested, his nostrils flaring over his thin moustache. ‘It’s hardly fair if The Dr. is familiar with these surroundings and we aren’t!’ ‘Calm yourself, Nigel,’ The Manager’s Thirteenth Incarnation cooed, resting a calming hand on the irate man’s shoulders. ‘We are not ignorant. I know precisely where we are … This is The Aztec Zone.’ ‘The Aztec Zone?!’ The Fourth Manager blinked. ‘Well, that still means nothing to me!’ ‘Nor me,’ The Eighth Manager confessed, cleaning his spectacles on the hem of his white suit jacket. ‘I must agree with Tenth and strongly protest against this nonsense.’ ‘Knowing where you are means nothing,’ Raljex said impatiently. ‘It’s all in good fun gentlemen.’ ‘Speak for yourself,’ The Thirteenth Dr. said brashly. ‘It’s not your life on the line, is it?’ Raljex didn’t reply to that, he simply hung his head slightly before looking up at them sharply, raising his arms and twirling on the spot again. ‘Dr.’s, Managers,’ he declared. ‘Welcome, to The Crystal Maze!’ The music flared again all around before being cut away sharply. ‘You may or may not be familiar with the concept,’ Raljex said and he beckoned for them to follow him down a Jungle path. ‘I’ll try to explain as best I can, but the prospect is very simple. There are four Zones in The Crystal Maze, each with games that link to that era, though I’ve been a little playful, I must admit and some of the links are a little stretched, but you’ll have to forgive me … you’ve no real choice on that.’ ‘So,’ The Second Dr. asked over the crowd of Video Lords as they mulled through the jungle. ‘Are you using the Industrial Zone or is this the later series when they replaced it with Ocean World?’ ‘Wait and see,’ Raljex said smugly. ‘In each Zone, we will play three games before progressing to the final duel in the centre of the Maze at The Crystal Dome. You have your choice of Physical, Mental, Skill or Mystery. One Dr. and One Manager will enter – the choice is entirely up to you which ones, but you can all only play once and you all have to play, except for the two originators of the challenge – The

winner of each game will get a Crystal which will then go towards helping The Fourth Dr. and The Thirteenth Manager. ‘Though, it’s the winner of that battle which will decide things overall. The Dr.’s could win every game, but if Fourth looses the final battle in The Crystal Dome, well … that’ll be curtains for all of you,’ Raljex gave a little chuckle. ‘So then,’ he said as they came into the centre of an Aztec temple. The sides rose high on all sides while pillars and statues devoted to Aztec gods leered over them. ‘What’ll it be gents? The Manager gets first pick, The next time The Dr. and so on and so fourth, etc, etc. So, Mister Martin? Physical? Mental? Skill? Or Mystery?’ There was a huddle from The Managers before a quick decision was made. ‘Skill,’ The Thirteenth Manager declared. ‘A Skill game?’ Raljex said, holding his chin. ‘Interesting … and who is to play this Skill game?’ ‘I shall,’ The First Manager said, stepping forwards. ‘First come, first served.’ ‘We can’t send in our First,’ Thirteenth said as The Dr.’s formed their own huddle. ‘He’s too inexperienced!’ ‘Really,’ The First Dr. whimpered. ‘I seriously have, absolutely no freakin’ idea what the hell’s goin on here!’ ‘Fucking hell,’ Fifth snapped. ‘Can some of us take him to one side and give the little shit an education, like, pronto?’ ‘I’m no little shit!’ First protested. ‘Hush up,’ Ninth scolded him. ‘You’re a weak link we need to fix or we’re all screwed.’ ‘So, who’s going first then?’ Thirteenth hissed. ‘I’ll do it,’ The Second Dr. said, standing up straight and brushing his fringe from his eyes. ‘You sure?’ Thirteen raised an eyebrow. ‘You? Skill?’ ‘I’m handy me, mate,’ The Second Dr. said with a tooth grin. ‘You should know that. I’m the best guitar player here. I’m the best at pool. I’ll kick anybody at Wii Sports. I’m our man for Skill games!’ ‘Yes, but you can only play once,’ Fourth reminded him. ‘And I doubt they’ll have Wii Sports in an Aztec-themed Zone.’ ‘I’ll chance it,’ Second said with a shrug. ‘It’s Aztec, right, so it can’t be that hard!’ ‘Don’t underestimate The Supreme Being,’ Thirteenth said warningly. ‘It’s that kind of attitude that’ll loose us this whole contest. He’s wily, he’s creative and above all he’s the most evil bastard this Universe will ever know. Remember, eyes front, don’t take your eyes of Nigel for an instant, and do not, I repeat, do not, fuck this up.’ ‘You say that like you’ve got no faith in me,’ The Second Dr. smirked, taking the newly uncorked spare bottle of Whiskey from Tenth and taking a long, hard swig. ‘Now I’m ready,’ he beamed and walked over to join the First Manager where he stood next to Raljex by one of the many stone doors that led inside The Temple.’ ‘You ready boys?’ Raljex said, almost giggling with glee. ‘Yep,’ The Second Dr. nodded. ‘Of course I am,’ The First Manager puffed. ‘Alright then,’ Raljex nodded, taking a dice from his pocket and rolling it across a small stone table by the door. It came to rest on a number one. ‘One Assistant for each of you,’ Raljex declared. ‘Can’t tell you who, as I’ve yet to decide. There’s no time limit, the game ends once there’s a victor. I won’t tolerate cheating, and no punchups, but I will look the other way on verbal abuse.’ ‘Can’t say fuckin’ fairer than that,’ The Second Dr. smirked. ‘Well then, gentlemen,’ Raljex said, throwing open the door for them. ‘The very best of luck to the pair of you.’ ‘Well,’ The Second Dr. said, politely offering his hand to The Manager. ‘May the best man win, egh?’ ‘Don’t worry,’ The First Manager said, knocking aside The Dr.’s hand. ‘I will.’ ‘Oh, blimey,’ The Second Dr. replied, rolling his eyes as he followed his quarry into the dark room. ‘This should be easier than I thought.’ ‘How do you figure that?’ The First Manager snapped.

‘Cause you’re playing with a disadvantage,’ The Dr. said simply. ‘Can’t be easy to do anything with a stick that size up your arse.’ Raljex closed the door on the pair while their other incarnations filed forwards to observe through the windows. ‘No conferring boys,’ Raljex said warningly as the first game began.

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