Chapter 17

The new equations that the Aegis had just given the Doctor were esoterically intricate. Under other circumstances he would have been delighted. But the machine was attacking him with each hesitation. He could barely concentrate. It was like trying to catch a handful of snowflakes and give a detailed description of them, before they all melted away. Symbols and patterns began to swirl around like a whirlpool inside the Doctor's mind, drawing him inexorably down into the darkness of the unfathomable.

Only just able to come up with a solution, the Doctor struggled to pose his own problem for the Aegis to tackle. Unfortunately, the Aegis quickly countered the Doctor's maths. He could almost feel the Aegis' smug triumph as the man's mind came up with the longest, and most complicated formula yet. The Doctor finally faltered, completely unsure of the concept being posited to him.

Feeling his mind slipping away, he knew that if he lost the match there'd be little hope for his survival. The Doctor's temples throbbed with the twin drumbeats of his hearts. He fought to grasp the flurry of previously unknown concepts being fed to him. As he struggled once more to work out an answer, the machine worked against him. Suddenly, it sent a needle-sharp jolt directly into the nerve centre of his brain. The Doctor gasped. It was like the inside of his head was being burned by a white-hot piece of iron, fresh from a blacksmith's fire. He heard a someone crying out in miserable agony. Nearly a full second passed before the Doctor became aware that the voice was his own.

The end was near, now. As more time elapsed between his last answer, the machine sapped more of his strength. He could die at any moment. And even on the slim chance he did regenerate, at best he'd be left with all the self-awareness of a Galifreyan yumbapear. And he hated pears. Without being aware of the look of the disgust crossing his face, the Doctor thought about their gritty texture in his mouth, eating the bland tasting, mushy fruit, which felt as if it were made up of minute grains of sand...

Without warning, something happened he'd not expected. Inside his head, the Doctor saw the Aegis' face also take on a distasteful expression. At that same instant, he realized something. The equation given to him by the Aegis had something familiar about it. Something which had seemed so impossible to fathom before, now appeared ridiculously obvious.

The Doctor had to stop himself from mentally slapping his forehead. Carefully, almost reverently, he secreted away the idea behind one of the few last locked doors inside his mind. And then he began to sing.

"O would you like to break down in a car, keep your teeth at night in a jar, or pick up biker chicks in a bar—or would you rather be a Dalek?"

The pain abruptly ceased. The Doctor felt his mind begin to clear. In his head, he saw the superior look on the Aegis' face slowly turn to one of bafflement. Sensing he was finally getting a mental toehold the Doctor didn't let up, swiftly launching into a different tune. In his mind, he began singing a rude rugby song.

"What is this?" The Aegis roared. "You are not adhering to mathematical equations, Time Lord! The rules! The rules must be strictly followed!"

"I should've known you'd be the rod-up-your-bottom, blinker-visioned conservative type." The Doctor grumbled as he finished with the last few bars of the song—which are quite unrepeatable in mixed company. "I am following the rules. You're just not paying attention. Haven't you ever heard of thinking outside the box? Which I have to be very good at, because I have box, and I can't always be I inside it every hour of the day."

"This is your only warning, Doctor." The captain said. "You are not giving mathematical formulas. The Aegis is right. Please follow the rules, or I shall be forced to kill you."

"With all due respect, captain, I quite agree that there are times when obeying rules and procedures is vitally important," the Doctor replied. "The rules of what to do if your spaceship is about to crash, for instance. Though quite frankly, I should think getting hit by my carry-on bag would be the least of my worries. There's the rules of etiquette when meeting The Queen. The rules of time—very bad to muck about with those. And, most especially, the rules of donkey-snooker...take it from me, you don't want to know what they make you use as billiard balls if they catch you cheating."

Though he was still very weak, the Doctor managed to give the captain a cheeky grin. "I think too many rules are being made by people with no life whatsoever, if you ask me. And even if you don't ask me. I am not breaking the rules here, because I gave a valid answer. Technically speaking, music isa form of maths. Look it up, captain. The Aegis just gave me an equation which has a direct counterpart in many musical scores."

His fingers fluttering over the surface, the captain swiftly consulted his data pad. "It appears that you are quite correct, Doctor. I hereby validate your answer. You may continue with the match."

"And on that note—get it? Note?" The Doctor's quip was met with a mixture of disapproving looks and blank stares. "Meh. Everyone thinks he's a critic nowadays. I knew I should have stopped them from inventing Twitter," the Doctor muttered. Clearing his throat he continued, "As I was saying, on that note, it's time for me to give you a new equation. Come on! Do try and keep up, your Aegisness! "

So saying, the Doctor began mentally whistling Chopin's 'Moonlight Sonata'.

Angry at this unexpected turn of events, the Aegis took longer than usual to counter the Doctor's musical choice. What he came up with was bland and somewhat off-key It reminded the Doctor of one of his little pet peeves: those annoying human males who go about tunelessly whistling as they browse along supermarket aisles. Them and impatient shoppers who queue up in the ten items or less line, with more than ten items. He wondered if the Aegis was a queue jumper.

As the Aegis finished his turn, the Doctor switched gears and mentally belted out his favourite Proclaimers tune. The Aegis struggled mightily. For the first time, his face began growing red. His hair was damp with sweat that rolled down his forehead, making it seem as if he'd just come in from the rain.

After a long pause, the Aegis sang a Bilbot hornpipe. Pausing again, he then delivered a weak variation of a Venusian lullaby. Which each moment he lingered searching for a correct answer, the machine gave him a jolt. Now, the Aegis was the one gasping with pain.

The Doctor took a second to think, then softly sang, 'Oh Shenandoah', before launching into a Kaiser Chiefs tune.

Summoning his strength, the Aegis came back with the Zygon National Anthem. Then he tried a Vespiform ceremonial hymn. Which came out sounding rather like a Gregorian chant sung by a dying wasp.

The Doctor easily countered this with 'Good Vibrations'. Without hesitating a beat he quickly offered up a rousing rendition of 'The Locomotion.'

The Aegis was nearly doubled over. His mental projections were growing ever weaker. He sang a short Logarian drinking song. The Doctor smiled before singing a song by American indie band The Takeover UK, "Ah la la, la-la-la-la-la..."

For his counter challenge to the Aegis, he tried an old American pop song, 'Girls Just Wanna' Have Fun.'

Crying out with an yet another spurt of pain, the Aegis tried to think up an answer. He finally came out with the Sontaran Battle Opus in D flat. But he was clearly in trouble now. The man's face and robes were soaked with perspiration and he could barely breathe. As a last resort, the Aegis tried to stump the Doctor with the forth movement of The Great Symphony of Kraddicus Prime. But the song came dribbling out like drool from the mouth of an idiot.

This was the moment the Doctor had been waiting for. Inside the Aegis' head he watched helplessly as the Doctor stood up and began to dance. His eyes bulging, his face turning purple, the Aegis could only observe the scene playing out in his head as the Doctor sang and danced. It was impossible! Yet, he could think of no solution. He could barely think at all, now.

Mentally dancing for all he was worth, the Doctor pictured himself with his hands clasped behind his head, his elbows akimbo, pushing his bottom out towards the Aegis while singing, "Heeeyyy—Macarena!"

That's when the Aegis let loose with a long scream. A moment later he vanished in a bright shower of multi-colour sparks and a white puff of smoke.

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