The Mercury Room Chronicles- Generations- Chapter07 | Lightning | Nature

CHAPTER SIX STEADY HAND

The intense midday sun beat down on the coral. The Fifth Dr. licked his lips, his face set in deep concentration as he held the large rifle. Flies hung in the air over the pastures and cattle sheds that were dotted across the landscape. He narrowed his eyes at the best before him and steadied himself for what was to come. He shot an irritated glower at the people behind him who were supposed to be helping him. So far, they had been pretty much useless. Their lives were in danger simply so Raljex could have some form of sickening entertainment. That thought made The Fifth Dr. exceedingly angry. He found that he was angry for quite a substantial amount of time, most every day. He wasn’t certain if it was entirely because he looked like his former assistant. The gay one. That could have accounted for some of it, but he didn’t know why. When he had known dodge, he’d never had even the slightest problem with the guy. As far as The Fifth Dr. was aware, Dodge was in the top five for assistants, no question about it. He knew he had a very bad temper and no way to control it. He knew that he was regarded by most as a complete wanker. He knew it and he didn’t care. As he saw it, his lovey-dovey attitude in his previous incarnations had never gotten him anywhere good. It always led him to danger and the inevitable self-sacrifice. No feelings, no emotions, at odds with the Universe. That’s how number Five liked it. If he had nobody to love, he’d have nobody to miss when they died. Simple. But this self-analytical bullshit wasn’t going to win him this game. He found himself agreeing with The Manager that the games were labelled all wrong. This wasn’t a Physical game, this was a matter of Skill. A matter of timing, patience and, above all, a steady had. One wrong move and all would be lost. He cast another glance at the fence where his assistants looked on with curious expressions. Well, two of them did. The other one was bent on singing some horrific warbling tune that was supposed to be soothing the creature in the paddock. As far as The Dr. could see, all it seemed to be doing was irritating the creature even more. ‘You wanna give that a rest?!’ The Fifth Dr. scowled, swatting a horsefly away from his face. ‘But, my music will surely sooth the savage beast,’ Duffy retorted, retrieving a pip from the leather jacket he had promptly removed, due to the heat. The Dr. reasoned that this was the reason for Duffy being here, his affiliation with all things great and small. But the other two perplexed him. ‘You-need-to-be-really-quiet-and-junk!’ Alfie insisted, hopping from foot-to-foot in erratic excitement. ‘Y’know-like-be-really-dead-quiet-and-stuff-dude! Just-like-get-in-there-anddo-it-fast-but-be-like-really-slow-too.’ Surely the Link Hunter with the power of extreme speed was better suited for racing or, something that required fast reflexes. This game wasn’t something for rashness. You could take that approach, but The Dr. didn’t think that you’d last too long with that mind-set. ‘Shhh! be quiet!’ The Dr.’s third assistant hissed at the other two. ‘He needs silence.’ CooCooKaJoo flapped his wings at them and then rested quietly against the fence-post. The Dr. nodded approval to himself and then proceeded forward, musket in hand. ‘ACHOO!’ The Tenth Manager shouted from across the paddock. ‘Oi!’ The Fifth Dr. said angrily, standing upright and pointing at his adversary. ‘If you even think about trying to put me off, Nigel, I’ll come over there, rip out your eyes and shove them up your butt-hole so you can watch me kick your ass!’ ‘Big words, Dr.,’ The Tenth Manager shrugged and adjusted his necktie. ‘I’d quite enjoy watching you try to put them into practice.’ The Manager turned to his own assistants who glowered at The Video Lord. In reality, The Manager was at a disadvantage. The Dr. knew all of his assistants personally. He had travelled through time and space with them all. The Manager however

was rather lacking on people he could count on. He had no friends and his only real companions had been The Rancid and Buster. Though, after what happened at Nazzivian, The Dr. didn’t think he’d be seeing Fred ride to The Manager’s aid any time soon. Unless, of course, a version of Buster showed up from before the double-cross, that was likely. Afterall, Ranette had appeared from a time before The Manager had shot her in the head. It had been this very incarnation of The Manager who had done the deed. Right before executing The Dr.’s first real assistants, Craig and Fiona. All of it over the Quantum Dislocator. A device that turned out to be a fraud. The Fifth Dr. wondered if The Tenth Manager knew about that incident, whether it had happened for him yet. This whole business was a wealth of confusion. He was surprised the resulting Paradox from having all of them together in one place hadn’t completely shattered tha space-time continuum beyond all recognition. The Manager shifted behind his three assistants and took out a cigarillo. The three aliens glared over the fence at The Dr., all three of them wishing the most painful of deaths upon their adversary. Their ears twitched in the blazing heat, their hooves tapped together as they plotted nasty, horrific things to do to the person that had destroyed their plans for galactic conquest over and over. Even that one time when they had combined forces with The Manager, which was probably the only reason they were here now. Creatures from a time before the Dinosaurs. A species so advanced that they completely ravaged the world of all its natural resources before falling into a necessary hibernation for millions of years while the planet regenerated. Unfortunately, they had awakened and wanted the planet for themselves. They wanted to destroy these evolved monkeys and take back what they saw as being rightfully theres. They were the Shetlurians. Creatures that looked like very angry Shetland Ponies stood on two legs with blazing red eyes and anger management issues. No doubt, they would be invaluable to The Manager in this game if they chose to help him. But the Dr. was quite sure that, if their assistance meant helping to destroy The Dr., they’d be all for it. The Dr. brought his attention back to the present, this was no time for daydreaming. His was no time for thinking. He’d have to disengage himself from the moment and enter a Zen-like oneness with the creature before him … or some other hippie nonsense that Twelfth would have come out with if he were here. ‘Bugger it,’ The Dr. said as he slid the musket through the loop on the saddle of the creature. Slowly he eased the gun into its mooring, balanced it with perfect precision, then stepped back. He’d been holding his breath this whole time and only now released it when the animal made absolutely no movement. He wiped his forehead with the back of his hand and retreated quickly away from the mule that was now so loaded up with supplies and goods that you could be forgiven for thinking it was some sort of mutant tortoise. ‘Damn it all,’ The Manager huffed, setting down his cigarillo and grabbing his next item to put on the animal. As long as it didn’t suddenly decide to buck it’s load whilst it was his turn, that’s all he asked. The Manager had never been good with animals and he was astounded that the beast hadn’t thrown its cargo just to spite him. ‘You would be wise to retain eye contact with the creature,’ The lead Shetlurian commented as The Manager took up the oversized cowboy hat. ‘Do not let it know that you fear it.’ ‘I don’t fear it!’ The Manager huffed. ‘You stink of fear!’ another Shetlurian snapped. ‘It’s not fear!’ The Manager insisted. ‘It’s this blasted heat, it’s making me sweat. ‘Fear smells like fear,’ the Shetlurian scoffed. ‘Sweat smells like sweat. We know the difference.’ ‘I may be slightly concerned and tense,’ The Manager huffed. ‘But I am The Manager, I fear nothing.’

‘Your pride will loose you this ridiculous contest!’ The lead Shetlurian barked. ‘You can fool yourself, but you cannot fool our noses or that of our brethren in the enclosure. Calm yourself or all will be lost!’ ‘What do you think they’re talking about?’ CooCooKaJoo mused as they watched The Manager argue with the Shetlurians. ‘I’d expect they’re talking about who looks most like a horse,’ Duffy smiled. ‘Can you see The Manager’s nose? It’s huge!’ ‘Huge or not,’ The Fifth Dr. shrugged. ‘I learned long ago not to underestimate any of The Managers. Know your enemy, respect your enemy and then, even if you loose, it’s not through lack of trying or through arrogance. Then you know for certain who the better man is.’ ‘That’s pretty profound,’ Duffy nodded sagely. ‘Yeah-I-thought-you-were-supposed-to-be-the-one-who-always-went-in-with-gunsblazing-and-never-thought-about-the-consequences-of-his-actions!’ Alfie cut in. ‘I didn’t say I practice what I preach!’ The Dr. snapped. ‘Good god, give me some fucking credit. That Bruce Lee bollocks might work for some, but I’ve always found putting a bullet between my enemy’s eyes is far more effective then hoping they’ll listen to reason. Fuck me. I mean, look at the Dr. that you lot know, Fourth, what a complete tosser he is! Waltzing around trying to be everybody’s buddy! Always hoping that people will come round if you talk to them nicely enough! Ha! Yeah! Look where it gets him in the end!’ Fifth looked down at his hands sadly, before quickly shoving them into his coat pockets without remarking further. He had been bracing himself from the questioning that could have come from what he said – or rather, the lack of it – but he was fortunately spared that by the last of the Roostars. ‘Damn, he got the cowboy hat on!’ The Dr. slapped his forehead in despair and grimaced as he took up the large bundle of rope that was slung over the fence of the pen. This was getting too tense now. The mule had barely moved at all, but The Dr. suspected that it was getting close to bucking the giant stack of surplus items that covered its saddle, its body and the extra bags that had been added to it. ‘Do not worry, Dr.,’ Duffy said, brandishing a flute. ‘I’ll play a merry tune to lull the creature again. The Dr. nodded to himself, grabbed the flute and snapped it over his knee. ‘Here’s a thought,’ he snapped. ‘Why not try just being fucking silent for a change!’ He snorted at the Elf from the future. ‘If I loose this contest, I won’t be around to come save your planet in my Ninth incarnation! Just think about that!’ The Dr. strode off into the paddock, muttering to himself. ‘He-really-is-a-douche-ain’t-he?’ Alfie asked quickly. ‘Yeah,’ CooCooKaJoo said, tucking his wings in tighter. ‘But he’s still The Dr. … somewhere in there.’ ‘I-think-you’d-have-to-dig-pretty-deep,’ Alfie mused. ‘Well, he must be,’ CooCooKaJoo continued quietly as Fifth approached the mule cautiously. ‘If he goes on to be all the other incarnations, The Dr.’s still there, even if he doesn’t act like it.’ ‘I never knew that it was him,’ Duffy pondered, drumming his fingers on his chin. ‘Him what?’ CooCooKaJoo asked, wincing as The Dr. lowered the large reel of rope over the animals head, so that it hung around its neck. The creature shook its head and ruffled its mane a little, but otherwise it remained as placid as it had been throughout the competition. ‘I didn’t know it was The Dr. that came to save us,’ Duffy said in a whisper. ‘I mean, there were stories about a traveller from space that came to help us stop the GEPS. But my department took no notice. We were too busy getting our time machine and the bomb ready to listen to false hope and rumour.’ Duffy smiled to himself.’ I remember when I first came to this time-’ ‘You-mean-when-you-tried-to-blow-up-the-world?’ Alfie chimed in.

‘Yes,’ Duffy relied with a shameful expression. ‘Then. I remember that The Dr. promised me that he would help when he had a spare moment. I didn’t actually think he would do it. I thought he’d forgotten long ago.’ ‘That’s the thing about us,’ The Dr. said as he suddenly reappeared next to Duffy’s elbow. He tapped his head without looking at the trio. ‘Like elephants. Never forget.’ ‘What are we going to do if you don’t win this contest, Dr.?’ CooCooKaJoo asked quietly. The Dr. regarded him stiffly for a brief moment and then looked up into the cloudless blue sky. ‘You pray, Billy,’ he said simply. ‘Damn it all!’ The Manager huffed furiously as he took up a little large wooden crate of apples. He was quickly running out of small things to add to the animal’s load. ‘We could attempt to communicate with it again,’ The third Shetlurian clucked. ‘It didn’t work before,’ The Manager said, waving a dismissive hand as he took another drag of his cigarillo. ‘That creature is so beneath us, I doubt it comprehends anything at all,’ The lead Shetlurian brayed. ‘It sickens me to see our descendents have fallen so far from greatness. ‘Maybe if we tried speaking slower and louder,’ the second Shetlurian suggested. He was ignored. ‘Though, communication may not be such a dead end afterall,’ The Manager said as an evil smiled played upon his lips. I think I’ve got a cunning plan forming. So cunning it could cun your socks right off without even undoing your laces!’ ‘You speak nonsense, Video Lord,’ The lead Shetlurian commented irritably. ‘All will be revealed,’ The Manager said as he hopped th fence with his small crate. ‘Watch and see.’ ‘Here we go,’ The Fifth Dr. said, rubbing his hands together and The Manager approached the mule. ‘Look at that crate he’s got, there’s no way he’ll be able to balance that on the thing!’ ‘What’s-he-doing-now?’ Alfie questioned as they all watched The Manager’s eyes light up. ‘I AM THE MANAGER!’ The Tenth Manager shouted at the Mule, his eyes burning bright green. ‘YOU WILL LISTEN TO MY VOICE! YOU WILL HEAR MY VOICE AND NO OTHER! WHEN I SPEAK YOU WILL OBEY! YOU WILL GIVE YOUR WILL TO ME! YOU WILL OBEY! I AM THE MANAGER! HEAR MY VOICE AND OBEY MY WORDS!’ ‘THAT FUCKING CHEATING BASTARD!’ The Fifth Dr. shouted, standing on the fence with a furious expression. ‘YOU CAN’T HYPNOTIZE IT NIGEL! THAT’S FUCKING CHEATING!’ ‘All’s fair in love and war, my dear Dr.,’ The manager cooed as he dumped the crate of apples on the hypnotized mule’s back and casually walked away. ‘I think you’ll find it isn’t,’ CooCooKaJoo shuddered as the light blue sky above was suddenly filled with thunderclouds that flashed with purple lightening. Bolts of lightning struck the ground near to the mule, causing it to buck its entire load in a loud crash as the animal sped across the enclosure, leapt the fence and disappeared off into the wilderness of the desert. ‘MANAGER!’ Raljex’s voice boomed all around them. ‘YOU HAVE USED YOUR POWERS TO GAIN AN UNFAIR ADVANTAGE IN THIS GAME!’ ‘Oh, cock!’ The Manager huffed to himself. ‘I DECLARE THAT YOU HAVE CHEATED! THEREFORE, YOU FOREFEIT THIS MATCH!’ ‘YES!’ The Fifth Dr. shouted, punching the air. ‘Suck on that Nigel!’ ‘Oh, that’s brilliant,’ CooCooKaJoo observed as the blinding white light enveloped them all. *

‘CHEATING?!’ The Fourth Manager shouted in utter disbelief at Raljex as The Fifth Dr. emerged from the game with a smirk. ‘WHAT THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN SMOKING?!’ ‘Like it or not, Manager,’ Raljex said plainly. ‘I said from the beginning that I would not tolerate cheating of any kind from either one of you.’ ‘You’re helping him!’ The Ninth Manager exclaimed at Raljex, nodding towards The Dr.’s. ‘You’re playing favourites! All you’ve done so far is help The Dr. to win!’ ‘How have I done that?’ Raljex asked, holding up his hands. ‘These games were yours to shape, Manager. You decided the conditions of play. It is not my fault that your First incarnation was unlucky, and your Tenth decided to cheat. My advice is to think before you act,’ Raljex handed a crystal to The Fifth Dr. who promptly vanished with a loud POP. ‘BUT IT’S NOT FAIR!’ The Manager’s Second incarnation thundered. ‘Manager,’ Raljex groaned. ‘Should you continue to complain and argue I shall penalize you for causing me grievance. The matter is ended. You cheated in that last game and were suitably punished. Now, it is your turn to pick again, I suggest you choose wisely.’ ‘Oh, don’t worry,’ The Fourth Manager sneered as all of his incarnations huddled together. ‘We shall.’ ‘Oooh, I’m all scared now,’ The Sixth Dr. said mockingly as The Dr.’s all gathered together on the other side of the Aztec village square.

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