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‘Nice work, man,’ The Fourth, Allucian Dr. congratulated his Eighth incarnation as he emerged victorious from the hatchway. ‘Well, it was obvious really when you thought about it,’ The Eighth Dr. shrugged nonchalantly. ‘Everybody was somewhere else in the house, but Elysium heard a scream … Mr Body stabbed himself.’ ‘Suicide,’ The Second Manager snapped his fingers. ‘That fool Eighth should have seen it!’ ‘You didn’t,’ The Tenth Dr. laughed as he tossed aside a now empty bottle of whisky. ‘You were all stood around here, yakkin’ and cheerin’, thinkin’ your boy’d solved it outright!’ ‘It was a brilliant conclusion!’ The Seventh Manager barked in his deep Irish tones. ‘If my future self had been given all the facts, he would have solved the case.’ ‘He was given the same facts as our guy,’ The Ninth Dr. said smugly, shrugging in his massive leather jacket. ‘And we won,’ he bounced on his heels as The Eighth Dr. accepted another crystal from Raljex and disappeared with a Pop. ‘So now,’ Raljex said haughtily. ‘Three crystals for The Dr., only one for The Manager. We’ve played four games, gentlemen, let us press on, time is, as we are all aware, slipping away. Dr.’s, it is your time to choose the type of game we play.’ The Dr.’s huddled together and discussed the matter, all apart from Seventh who was staring dumbly at his own reflection in a dulled piece of silverware on the floor. ‘A Skill Game,’ The Ninth Dr. announced finally. ‘And I am to play.’ ‘A Skill Game you say?!’ Raljex shouted gleefully. ‘And which of The Managers wishes to play this Skill game?’ ‘Will it actually be a Skill game?’ The Seventh Manager drolled. ‘Yes,’ Raljex nodded. ‘Alrighty then,’ The Seventh Manager coughed. ‘Second’s going to do it.’ ‘I am?’ The Second Manager balked. ‘You most certainly are,’ The Seventh Manager winked. ‘Put that brilliance of yours to work.’ ‘Well,’ The Second Manager said, folding his arms. ‘It’s true I am brilliant … okay, I will play this Skill Game.’ ‘Very well,’ Raljex bobbed lightly on his heels as he rolled his dice. ‘Oh, how interesting,’ he said, replacing the dice in his pocket. ‘Six assistants again, a double roll … that should mean something … something should happen with a double roll …’ ‘You should double the number you’ve rolled,’ The Second Manager suggested with a grin. ‘No!’ The Ninth Dr. shouted. ‘No, I’m not having twelve more people put in danger!’ Raljex considered the point. ‘No, I like this better. Gives it more drama.’ ‘Drama?!’ The Ninth Dr. fumed. ‘This isn’t for your amusement! You’re playing with people’s lives!’ Raljex rose up to his full height and squared up to The Ninth Dr. ‘You are the one who wanted this contest, Dr. … learn to live with the consequences of your actions … now,’ Raljex threw open the door. ‘Go play the game.’ The Ninth Dr. glowered at both Raljex and The Second Manager who was smiling maliciously. ‘So ironic,’ The Second Manager commented as they both entered the room. ‘You’ve spent your life making all these friends, protecting them from harm … now it’s your fault they’re all going to die.’ The Dr.’s lip curled and it looked for a moment like he was going to punch the other man. The Ninth Dr., like the Third and the Fifth, was not known for his diplomacy, it was normally his fists and his guns that did the talking for him. Instead, he lowered
his eyes and shrugged. ‘It’s a good job I’m used to the feeling,’ he said, returning the smile forcefully and entered the game. Raljex closed the door behind the pair. ‘Oooh, I’m having fun!’ He declared airily to those that remained. ‘Is everybody else having fun?’ The Ninth Dr. strode into what appeared to be the boiler room of the sunken vessel they were occupying. The air was thick with the smell of rotting wood and sea water. He caught sight of The Manager’s assistants. Aliens again, angry, vicious aliens at that. They were the Psygoats. Evil creatures that had nothing at all to do with goats, it was merely a name. They actually resembled large, fierce-looking shrimps, but with enlarged craniums that often caused them to overbalance comically. They had limited psychic abilities that were of no threat to sentient life forms, but they had an annoying habbit of bringing inanimate objects to life. There were eleven in total, and at their head was a creature with whom The Dr. had battled for many centuries. It stood and regarded him with a manic, gleeful grin. ‘Ah, Dr.!’ The creature smiled, grinning with large fangs as it tipped its top hat at him and adjusted its monocle. ‘I was wondering when I would be given the honour of renewing our acquaintance.’ ‘Monkey,’ The Dr. glowered, staring down the tuxedo-clad simian. ‘That’s Wacky Monkey, if you’d remember correctly, Dr.’ Wacky Monkey hissed. ‘Your nemesis. The Moriati to your Holmes! Your deadliest enemy!’ ‘Yeah,’ The Ninth Dr. nodded noncommittally. ‘You keep dreaming.’ Even The Manager snorted with derision at the simian’s statement. ‘I’m so happy that we meet here on the battlefield,’ The Monkey continued as its Psygoat hoard looked on, giving The Dr. evil looks. ‘You will finally pay for destroying The Shrimpverse.’ The Dr. nodded slightly. He hadn’t done it yet, but The Shrimpverse was the home of the Psygoats, a never-ending stream of minions at Wacky Monkey’s disposal. If they weren’t doing evil deeds for the highly-advanced ape, they would be off causing their own chaos. They must have done something truly horrific to tick The Dr. off enough to destroy their Universe all together. He shuddered to think what devastation would drive him to it. The Shrimpverse was a small parallel dimension, but still, it was a Universe unto itself. Strike off one more act of genocide for The Dr.’s resume. ‘Dr.!’ The Dr. turned to face a large band of Allucian members and his heart sank. He was playing for these people’s lives. They were in danger because of him, because his Fourth Incarnation was trying to save himself, all of The Dr.’s … it was the only thing that could be done. Without The Dr. around, The Manager would no doubt conquer the world before long. Still, all these people were going to die if The Dr. didn’t do his utmost to prevent it. So much pressure. The Ninth Dr. didn’t like pressure at all. It was an annoyance, it got in the way of his clear thinking. He like to have a clear head, it helped him to aim better. ‘Jazz concludes that this fails epically,’ Jazz commented angrily, looking through his pockets for his Cancer Ray. He growled angry when he couldn’t find it. ‘It fails even more!’ He roared. ‘That Jazz was forced to hand in his Cancer Ray to the guards at the door to the Awards Ceremony! Jazz could have used it to give the enemy Cancer!’ ‘Well, since you’re in such a good mood,’ Steffman mused. ‘I think we’re all relieved you haven’t got it with you.’ ‘Jazz will remember your insolence,’ Jazz thundered. ‘Guys!’ Will-ko said loudly. ‘This sucks, I know, but we’re here to help The Dr.!’ ‘If it wasn’t for The Dr. bringing his enemies to us, we wouldn’t have these problems,’ Jazz muttered. ‘I’m so glad Jazz is here,’ Jaymz grunted. ‘It’ll make everything so much more enjoyable.’ ‘Won’t it just?’ Richy, the giant Domo agreed miserably. ‘You should be thankful,’ Jazz said, examining his nails. ‘The awesomeness of Jazz is enough to overcome any adversary.’ ‘Did you tell that to the Pathe chicken when it sat on you?’ Vash smirked.
‘THAT!’ Jazz roared. ‘That was an exception … Jazz was unprepared.’ ‘Unprepared?’ Vash frowned in mock confusion. ‘The illustrious Jazz unprepared for something? No, surely not!’ ‘PEOPLE!’ Welshy, the living carton of milk shouted, holding up his tiny hands. ‘Please, we are not assisting if we are squabbling amongst ourselves. This is not time for us to be irrationally attacking eachother.’ ‘The milk’s got a point,’ Devil’s Aracde nodded. ‘I r not knowing to what is happening anyhows,’ Lazy shrugged. ‘I r no argumenting.’ ‘You are all useless!’ Jazz said haughtily. ‘Jazz is awesome! Why are there others here when Jazz alone is all anybody would ever need, not that Jazz is willing to help for anything less than full asking price. Jazz’s awesomeness is highly sought after, a precious commodity.’ ‘BAI-TUO, AN-JING-EEDYEN!’ The Ninth Dr. barked suddenly, balling his fists. He glared around the group, wondering what on Earth possessed Raljex to send him this assortment. ‘Well said,’ Asawin nodded approvingly from under his giant green and white hat. ‘Though your Chinese is terribly pronounced.’ ‘I’ll worry about that if we live through this,’ The Dr. grunted. ‘What did The Dr. just say to Jazz in that silly language?’ Jazz demanded. ‘Unless he was declaring Jazz’s awesomeness, we’re going to have words.’ ‘BACK OFF!’ The Dr. thundered at Jazz, malice showing in the Video Lord’s eyes. ‘We’re going to die if we don’t beat The Manager, so for two minutes, shut the hell up or … or … gun HOE-tze bee DIO-se!’ Asawin chuckled, so did Welshy, Jazz simply glowered. ‘Hey, guys,’ CAD said, pushing his way through the group. ‘If my limited wrath can help at all, then it’s yours to use.’ ‘Thanks CAD,’ The Dr. nodded appreciatively. ‘That goes for all of us!’ Will-ko shouted from where he had fallen to the back of the crowd. ‘Just get me a stick or a pen and I can do some real damage!’ ‘Let’s find out what the game is first, shall we?’ The Dr. grunted with a shake of his head, noticing that The Manager, Wacky Monkey and the Psygoats had proceeded on to the other side of the room. The Dr. followed them and soon found himself standing before a large glass structure, clearly not a design feature of the original Titanic. The cylinder rose up from the floor, funnelled out in the middle and then back to its original circumference as it carried on up to the ceiling. Giant poles stuck out at odd angles in the funnelled section and inside, The Dr. could clearly see giant glass balls, balanced on the criss-cross web the poles made. ‘Do you know,’ The Second Manager said as he examined the structure himself. ‘It has been such a long time since I played Ker-Plunk.’ ‘EXPLODING KER-PLUNK!’ Wacky Monkey shouted with insane joy. ‘The crystals will explode if they’re dropped … very nasty! Though they’ll bounce a bit first, hopefully into your little band of followers! NOW YOU WILL ALL PAY FOR THE SHRIMPVERSE!’ ‘Go-se,’ The Dr. mumbled. ‘Yeah,’ Asawin nodded in agreement. ‘Crap.’