Chapter 7

A bell bonged loudly. Sounding exactly like Big Ben, it echoed through the TARDIS halls. The noise was coming from the direction of the control room. Crossing his legs more comfortably, the Doctor let out a long sigh. Yet another urgent message was coming in from the High Council on Galifrey.

'You have mail!' Demanded a computer generated female voice. She'd been nagging him all morning. The voice always made the Doctor picture a stern, sour-faced dinner lady. Like the one who had made him stay after school at the academy when he was six years old, for eating his pudding before he'd finished his lunch.

Relaxing in an easy chair before the fire in the TARDIS library, the Doctor deliberately chose to ignore her. Well, almost. He flipped to the next the page of Lost Horizons without realizing it, then resumed tapping his fingers restlessly on the arm of the chair. He knew that whatever his people wanted of him, it probably had something to do with the sudden communications blackout around the entire star system where the planet of Skaro resided.

Something had put the wind up their collective noses. He suspected—not without reason, that there was some dirty work they wanted him to do. Probably an unspeakable horror his people didn't want to dirty their hands with. And if it involved the Daleks and the Time Lords, that could only mean war.

The Doctor wasn't in the mood to become entangled with his worst enemy just yet. Nor was he in a hurry to go home. However, he knew in his hearts of hearts that sooner or later he would have to answer the summons. But, not quite yet.

There were times when he wished Grace had stayed on to travel with him. Probably not a good idea though, if the Daleks were on the warpath. The Doctor sighed again. The old grandfather style library clock ticked loudly from its place in the far corner of the room, its pendulum swinging in an ages old rhythm marking the passage of time that the Doctor could feel in his bones. He was in his eighth generation, now.

There was a time when he believed he'd be thousands of years old before that happened. The Doctor smiled sadly. He'd been a dreamer as a young man. Something frowned upon by his staid, ceremonious peers. However, the Doctor never imagined he'd do half the things he'd done since that day he fled Galifrey. An old man in appearance, having yet to regenerate back then, the Doctor had stolen an old Type Forty time ship from a used TARDIS lot. Showing off, he then proceeded to take his granddaughter Susan on a joyride a ride through time and space...and never stopped.

Though the companions he took along with him came and went, he had stayed on. Always travelling, searching for...he never could quite put his finger on exactly what it was he was actually looking for. Still, it was far better than settling down to the tedious, bureaucratic existence of a member of the Prydonian chapter of Time Lords. By now, the TARDIS had come to feel more like his home than Galifrey did.

At present, the Doctor had the TARDIS all to himself. He had temporarily parked in the middle of the Andromeda Nebula star cluster. That last regeneration had taken something out of him. Getting shot was never a pleasant experience. One of the many reasons he hated guns. He never would fully understand the fascination they held for some. Why there were those who could only feel powerful if they held something in their hands, whose only purpose was to take away precious life.

His right hand absently reached over and picked up a cracked mug from the table beside him. It bore the legend: 'Keep Calm and Carry On'. The Doctor took a sip, staring at the page before his nose, half-listening to a jazz track by Ethiopian pianist, Samuel Urga.

Without warning, a new sound came from the control room. Not the sonorous bongs of the Galifreyan email alert, though. This was an insistent hooting.

'Wooo-weeee-yoo! Weeeee-yoo! Weeee-yoo!' Shrilled throughout the TARDIS. 'Urgent message from me!" Came a man's voice over the tannoy. The Doctor's voice, a different Doctor, from another time and place. 'Emergency Protocol 378 has been activated. Report immediately to incoming coordinates. This is a code one emergency! Repeat, this is a code one! Time out, sixteen hundred hours.'

Raising an eyebrow, the Doctor slowly set down down his cup. Closing the book he rose from his chair, and placed it back on the shelf. After he made the holo-fireplace vanish, he stood there straightening the jacket of his Wyatt Earp fancy dress costume. Fussed a bit with the tie. And then the Doctor pelted out the library door. A smile which was both relieved and eager suddenly crossed his face, as he ran towards the control room.

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