Chapter 6

The TARDIS had just left U.N.I.T. behind. It was out in space, circling a moon the Doctor claimed was sentient. He told his companion that it was listed in the star charts as Jardon III, but that it preferred to be called, 'Harold.'

Sarah Jane Smith smiled. She never knew when the Doctor was being serious. He would have that twinkle in his wide blue eyes and his teeth would flash that same delighted grin, whether he was meeting Charles Darwin or being threatened by a Zygon. Which was all part of the fun of travelling with him, she supposed.

Though his sometimes quirky and cryptic conversational style could become a teensy bit annoying, at times. As she was about to find out.

The ship was hovering over an asteroid belt circling the moon. The Doctor had put the ship at a safe distance from it. Or so he'd thought. Until one of the asteroids smashed into the TARDIS. Sarah was flung bodily against the octagonal TARDIS console. The red glow inside the churning central column dimmed, as it slowly ground to a halt.

Two hours later, the Doctor was still busy underneath the white central console. His long multi-coloured scarf, floppy brown hat and gray tweed coat were hanging on the coat rack near the TARDIS door. The Doctor was lying on his back. He was in his shirtsleeves, but still wore a burgundy four-in-hand tie, plaid vest, and brown corduroy trousers over a pair of sturdy boots. The Doctor had one of the lower panels off the console, and Sarah could hear the faint hum of his sonic screwdriver.

Sarah had gone to her room in the TARDIS to bathe and then relax by catching up on some reading. Say what you will about the Doctor, she thought, as she lay on her bed with an thick leather bound book propped up in front of her, he had a marvelous library. She was reading Lives

by Plutarch. Reading ancient biographies wasn't dull for her. Besides the fact that she was genuinely interested in history, Sarah knew that while travelling with the Doctor, she might actually some day meet such legendary figures as Theseus, Marc Antony, Cicero or Alexander.

While taking a time out, Sarah also changed into something more comfortable than the white frilly Victorian ball gown she'd been wearing on their last adventure in Colonial India. An alien ardvark disguised as a mad rajah had tried to take over the world. But the Doctor, with the help of the Brigadier and other memebers of the United Nations Intelligence Task Force, had stopped him.

Now she came back into the control room refreshed and ready for another adventure. The Victorian get up had been a little restrictive, so Sarah decided to put on a pair of bell bottom jeans and a colourful peasant blouse. She was about to ask the Doctor when he thought they might get underway again, when there came a polite knocking at the TARDIS door.

The Doctor's head suddenly shot out from under the console panel. "There's someone at the door!"

"Who's there?" Sarah puzzled.

"You forgot to say, 'knock-knock'." The Doctor smiled cheekily at her, getting to his feet. As he did so, the knocking came again, more insistent this time.

"Oh very funny, Doctor." Sarah sighed. "You could give Benny Hill a run for his money. What I meant was, how could anyone be knocking at the door? We're in space!"

"Let's see who it is, shall we?" The Doctor said, going over to the door switch on the console.

"It's not Harold, is it? Though how a moon could knock on a door is beyond me." Sarah pondered.

"Maybe it's an intergalactic encyclopedia salesman." The Doctor grinned at her. "My set is hopelessly out of date. It ends at the Xylodian's Forty-first Dynasty."

Putting his hand on a tall lever set into the control panel, the Doctor thrust it back. A wide, white panel with glass roundels swung open in the TARDIS wall. Into the console room shot a small white box. Without hesitation, it flew right into the Doctor's chest.

"Ooaff!" The Doctor breathed out in surprise. "Now that's what I call a speedy delivery."

As the Doctor held the box, its lid suddenly opened. The white box gave off a warm, golden glow from the inside, as a message began to play. Sarah stood behind him, unable to make out a single word. It all sounded like gibberish to her ears. Which was odd, because she'd recently discovered that the ship automatically translated nearly every language ever spoken, inside her head. So that Sarah could easily understand everything from Renaissance-era Italian to alien languages like Sontaran.

"Where'd that come from?" Sarah asked inquisitively.

"I give up. Where did that come from, Sarah?" The Doctor quipped.

"Get serious, Doctor!" Sarah rolled her eyes. "What's this all about?"

"This is serious, Sarah Jane." The Doctor said, his face suddenly quite somber. He pushed forward the lever that shut the TARDIS door. "Terribly, awfully, dangerously serious." He added in an ominous tone of voice.

"So, what is that thing?" Sarah queried, curiously staring at the box which the Doctor was holding in the palm of his left hand.

"Special delivery from Galifreyan Express." The Doctor informed her. "When your package absolutely, positively must get there before you mailed it."

"Oh." Sarah said. "What's the message?"

"Time Lord distress call."

"You mean it's a message from another Time Lord?" Sarah speculated.

"Well it isn't from Postman Pat, Sarah."

"Are we going to continue this party game, Doctor? Or are you going to tell me who it's from?" Sarah asked, shaking her head at the Doctor.

"Ah. Well, you see Sarah...that's the tricky bit." The Doctor hedged.

"You do know who sent you the message?"

"Oh yes. Of course I do! Erm...I just don't know which one." He shrugged offhandedly.

"Still doing our party piece, I see. OK, I'll bite. Which. One. What?" She asked, crossing her arms as if to hold in her patience.

"Which one of me." The Doctor replied simply. As if that answered everything she wanted to know.

"Which one of...oh, wait a minute. I understand now! At least, I think I do. You mean one of your other selves has sent you a distress call?" She surmised.

"Congratulations, Sarah. You've gone on to the bonus round." The Doctor said, flashing her a pleased smile. "Yes, it's a message from one of my past...or future, selves." Setting the cube down on the console, he knelt down and swiftly sonicked the panel back in place. Then he got up and began fiddling with the controls.

"OK, don't leave me hanging after all this. What's it say, Doctor?"

"There's a companion in serious trouble, and the universe is in danger of collapsing, and I'm needed rather urgently."

"Correction, Doctor." Sarah told him firmly. "We're needed rather urgently." As the Doctor opened his mouth, presumably to protest her going with him, she added, "Assuming the companion is human, than who better to help than another human companion?"

"Sarah Jane, how could I possibly argue with that bit of logic?" He said, with half-hearted sarcasm.

"You can't. I'm going with you, and that's that." She answered firmly. "Now, where are we off to?"

"I'd fixed the damaged circuits so we can take off, and put in the coordinates that the cube gave me." He replied, watching the TARDIS' central column light up and begin to rise and fall. "We're already on our way."

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