Chapter 27

"Don't do it!" The first Doctor yelled from inside the TARDIS, waving his cane about. He watched the fifth Doctor's hand slowly reach into his pocket. "Don't you do it my boy!"

"He hasn't much choice, I suspect." The eighth Doctor observed gravely, staring at the screen on the wall. "It's Tegan's life or the TARDIS."

"Hmm—yes," the second Doctor nodded. "talk about making a bargain with the devil."

"I always knew I might lose the TARDIS, someday." The sixth Doctor commented, heaving a melodramatic sigh. "Only I thought I'd be retired by then. Someplace sunny and tropical. No Cybermen, no Myloki, no Great Carnivorous Maw. Just me, a beach and a good book."

"Sounds like my worst nightmare." The eighth Doctor shuddered, "Bleurgh!"

"We can always procure another TARDIS, somehow." The third Doctor said to him. "But we certainly can't replace that young lady there."

"Speak for yourself." The tenth Doctor sniffed at the third' Doctor's remark. "My TARDIS is one of a kind."

"Yeah." The ninth Doctor agreed moodily. "And I don't fancy hanging around a Welsh quarry for the next fifty years, trying to grow another one."

"Oy!" Shouted Donna.

The Doctor's heads turned from the wall screen to her.

"Remember us?" She asked, gesturing with her hand to include herself, Amy, Sarah Jane and Captain Jack. "We're not just part of the décor, you know. How 'bout cluing us in on what's going on?"

"Donna." The tenth Doctor spoke to her in a soft, warning voice. "Not now."

"Yes, now." She insisted indignantly, "Tegan is one of us humans," she pointed to herself, "In case you've forgotten that. And as such, I think we've a right to know what's happening out there."

"Quite right, Donna." The third Doctor agreed. "We've been observing their body language. And I'd say our counterpart out there has just been given an ultimatum."

"You see, we've deduced that the chap with the kill-bot doesn't just want—us, he wants the TARDIS, as well." The second Doctor explained to Donna, smiling like a kindly professor attempting to enlighten a particularly dim student.

"Greedy little chap, isn't he?" The forth Doctor said.

"At least he doesn't dream small." The tenth Doctor added ironically, "He's not out robbing a pound shop. He's going for the whole enchilada. Putting all of time and space under the hammer to the highest bidder."

"All or nothing." The forth Doctor agreed.

"And I'm guessing the nothing means that he will kill Tegan if he doesn't get what he wants?" Jack concluded.

"How awful!" Sarah said to the forth Doctor. "Surely there must be something you can do?"

"How?" The sixth Doctor rounded on her. "How can we do anything, when we're trapped inside here, for all of eternity?

"He's right, Sarah. Even if he is being a bit of a drama queen."

"What!" the sixth Doctor exclaimed indignantly. "Are you calling me a..."

"True, we could go into flight." The forth Doctor ignored him, saying somberly, "But there's still no way to undo that lock and chain. We're stuck fast."

"Super-glued to the TARDIS." The tenth Doctor confirmed.

"Can't you contact someone?" Amy suggested. "Get them to come here and open the lock somehow?"

"And whom should we call on, young lady?" The first Doctor asked her. "I fear it would take more than just your ordinary locksmith to undo that lock."

"I guess that means there's no outer space auto club you can ring." Donna said, rolling her eyes. "All this super-alien brain power, and none of you can figure a way to get out of here?"

"Not to put too fine a point on things," the seventh Doctor interrupted quietly, nodding pointedly to the wall screen, "But right now I don't think that's our most pressing issue."

On the wall screen, the fifth Doctor had taken a few steps backward. His hand was slowly withdrawing the key from his pocket.

Rogerious spoke into his wrist com, sending orders to the kill-bot. "Step back. Unchain the girl. But keep her in sight."

With obvious regret, the fifth Doctor held out the oddly-shaped TARDIS key in his hand. It dangled from its chain, glinting silver in the moonlight. Faintly illuminated were its strange, triangular Galifreyan markings, as the key swung gently on the night air.

Eagerly, his dark eyes glinting with satisfaction, Rogerious' furry hand stretched out for it.

"At last!" Came his delighted murmur.

Suddenly, the Doctor's ears picked up a faintly familiar sound. Immediately realizing what it was, his face became incredulous. Out of the corner of his eye, he could still see the chain wrapped, deadlock bolted TARDIS of the seventh Doctor. He knew the other Doctor's were stuck inside, the remainder of them away from their own TARDIS'. So what was that...

Seemingly out of nowhere, a secondary wind kicked up a miniature cyclone of dust just behind Rogerious. Holding up his hands against the unexpected gale, the bounty hunter quickly drew back. As he did, the wheezing, grinding noise that had first caught the Doctor's attention swiftly grew as loud as a trumpeting elephant. Another TARDIS was slowly materializing before their astonished eyes.

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