The Curse of the Silver Pharaoh

Something ancient and evil is awakening under the sands of Egypt


17. Chapter 16

The TARDIS was spinning out of control high up in earth's outer atmosphere. Glowing red with the resulting friction, it was accelerating away from the Earth, making a beeline directly for her sun. The Doctor had made a wobbly dash from the console to the decking underneath. Ripping off the metal grillwork, he virtually plunged headfirst into the machinery powering the TARDIS.

"It's getting hot in here. Can't you do something?" Donna shouted impatiently, casting a nervous glance at the fiery glow projecting through the glass in the doors.

"Nah. Thought I'd change into my swim wear. Get myself a nice tan, before I die." The Doctor answered irritably. "Of course I can do something! Problem is...can I do it before we crash into the sun?

"Well, thanks ever so much for that rousing pep talk, Doctor." Donna retorted, with an annoyed bobble of her head.

"Cheers, Donna."

The Doctor's words were followed by loud clanking noises and the sound of a ratchet turning something. She heard him talking to his recalcitrant sonic screwdriver. "Let's hope you've decided to re-charge yourself. Come on, you beauty! Don't let me down now."

Thankfully, there came the reassuring sound of the sonic's warbling buzz. Donna leaned over the railing and stared down at the hole in the grating. She had to squint, because the control room was beginning to fill with smoke. Without her asking, the Doctor estimated that they were probably less than five thousand miles from the sun now, and drawing ever closer.

Not that Donna really wanted to know that. She watched him work, wishing she could see and understand what he was doing. It would take her mind off of the approaching disaster. The Doctor was scrunched up in an awkward position, bottom upwards, with the sonic in one hand and what looked like a handful of yellow wires in the other. Or maybe it was a fistful of pasta. She couldn't tell because, unfortunately, his backsides partially blocked her view of the Doctor's activities.

How could someone so skinny, have such an amble bottom? She thought. It looked like two balloons inside his trousers. Donna made a face and shook her head. Not his best angle. She hoped he'd not eaten any curries recently. She wasn't having any that. Donna started to ask him if aliens fart, when a gray metal panel near the Doctor's head began to rattle and make a funny noise.

"Does that thing normally sound like that, Doctor? What are you doing?" Donna called out to the Doctor.

"Somehow, the power generated by the amulet didn't just mess up the TARDIS' translation and navigational circuits. It's sent the gravitronic alignment off kilter. I'll have to recalibrate the quantum-phase power booster. Hang on. Wait just a tick. What's the retro-torque converter doing way down here? It's not supposed to be...Oh, no! Not again!"

"What's happened now?" Donna sighed.

"I've also just located a fault in the inter-spacial beam stabilizer. That hasn't happened in a very long while. Not since that time certain members of the Galifreyan High Council decided to re-route the TARDIS to Peladon. Without bothering to consult me first, I might add. Gah! Nothing but a mob of interfering busybodies, that lot."

"So, not at all like you then, were they?" Donna said, tongue in cheek.

"Not a bit." The Doctor responded, totally obtuse to her real meaning. "Never could stand control freaks."

"Yeah. Me neither. I had this blind date once. We'd not even got to the first kiss, and he's telling me if I wanted to keep on seeing him, I'd have to do stuff. Change my hair colour, for starters. I ask you, what's wrong with ginger hair? I also had to become a vegetarian and convert to his religion. Like that was ever gonna' happen! I'm surprised he didn't ask me to get a boob job while he was about it. I mean, how desperate for a man did he think I was?"

"Ouch!" The Doctor yelled, yanking his hand away from the now sparking gray panel. "The TARDIS' navigational matrix is definitely not supposed to do that." He said, sucking on his scorched fingers. There was another buzz from the sonic. Once more the Doctor jerked his hand away, as more sparks shot up. "Bad TARDIS! Behave! I know you're upset, but getting tetchy with me won't help." He scolded his ship.

"Is there anything I can do, Doctor?" She asked him.

"Yes, Donna." He replied tensely. "You can stop talking. I'm trying to concentrate. This is a very delicate operation. One wrong move, and it'll punch a hole the size of Northumberland in the space-time continuum."

"Oh." She shrugged.

The TARDIS suddenly gave a tremendous lurch, almost spilling Donna over the handrail, on to the floor below. She cried out in alarm, but somehow managed to hang on. Though her left arm slamming against the railing didn't help her mood any.

"You alright, Donna?" An anxious Doctor shouted up at her. He was holding some sparking wires with one hand, and more sparking wires plus the sonic, in the other.

"Yeah. Fine." She answered breathlessly, coughing and trying to wave off the heavy smoke coming from the console and other parts of the TARDIS. "Have you ever thought of installing seat belts and air bags in this thing? Health and safety would have a field day in here."

They'd left the outer atmosphere, and were closer to the sun than ever before. The heat inside the control room was getting intense, as small fires broke out. Straightening upright and clinging to the railing for dear life, Donna mopped her dripping brow with her sleeve.

"I hope you know what you're doing, Doctor. Cos I don't fancy ending up my life as barbecued human." Through the smoke, the control room now glowed cherry red, as the light through the windows grew ever brighter.

"I just need to find the correct temporal resonance frequency!" The Doctor said frantically. She heard the sonic give off a loud buzz. It ended abruptly, and he gave victorious shout. "There! That's got it! Molto Bene! You may want to cover your ears for this bit, Donna. Give it, oh, roughly fifty years to reach the earth, and those folks down there at SETI will get quite an earful."

Donna clapped her hands to her head and cringed, as the console room was abruptly filled with a high-pitched, staccato squelch. "Its 'not doing my ears much good, Doctor."

The noise ended as quickly as it began. The TARDIS miraculously righted herself and began flying normally, away from the sun. Hidden exhaust fans automatically clicked on, clearing the worst of the smoke away. The air conditioning also kicked in, bringing the room's temperature back down to a more comfortable level.

The Doctor bounded out of the maintenance hatch. Not bothering to replace the grating cover, the metal decking rang with the pounding of his trainers, as he ran back up to the main console floor. Grabbing a fire extinguisher from under the jump seat, he'd put the few small fires out in a matter of seconds.

Once more back at the console, the Doctor began manically spinning, twisting and flipping things with a flourish. Rubbing her bruised arm where she'd banged in on the railing, Donna stood back and watched him.

"I found a trace of his ship, using a binary feedback loop of five point two-oh, on a temporal refractory scale of nine thousand metzohertz. Meaning," he added, before Donna could ask, "Pharaoh's gone back in time, but not far. Even equipped with the energy inside that amulet, he's not got nearly enough power. About fifty to eighty years either way, is about all he should be able to achieve. Which can still be very bad, if I don't stop him. Let's see where he's going, shall we?"

The Doctor stared at the a map he'd brought up on the console screen. "The trace appears somewhere over North America. Looks like..." He glanced down at a reading, "the early nineteen-sixties. I'll see if I can get a better fix on it."

With that said, the Doctor's frantic pace increased even more, as he tried to pin down where Pharaoh's ship went.

"That's it! Nineteen sixty-three. Somewhere over Manitoba, Canada. No, wait." Scrunching up his face, he stared at a blip on the monitor, making tracery line over a map of North America. "He's headed east and south, towards the United States. Near Lake Superior. I can programme the TARDIS to follow his ship wherever he goes." He grinned delightedly, watching the central column rise and fall, as he flipped some more switches."Off we go, then! Away from the sun, hot-footing it after Pharaoh. Get it? Hot-footing...?"

"Yeah." Donna sighed unenthusiastically. She frowned at him. "How can you stand there, making jokes? Now's not the time to audition your stand-up routine. Aside from the fact that the whole world's in danger, what about that nice boy, Ahmed? He's dead. And Havensworth just had his brain cut open. He's been turned into one of those...cyber-thingy's."

"Er—yes. Right." The Doctor nodded somberly. He tugged on his ear, suddenly looking uncomfortable. Like a mourner who'd only just realized he'd laughed too loudly at somebody's wake. "Sorry."

"Well, you should be." She gave him a forgiving smile. "Alien boy."

"I haven't forgotten them, Donna. I never forget anyone who's died or...been lost." He told her pensively, shoving his hands in his pockets, and turning away. "It's just that sometimes I get caught up in the moment and I...well, I shouldn't, I suppose..."

"Oh, never mind all that!" Still smiling up at him, she nudged the Doctor. "Let's go get that silver nutjob, before he turns the whole world into kilt-wearing Re worshipers."

Turning back round to look at her, he raised an eyebrow at Donna.

"I mean, some people really shouldn't be seen wearing short skirts. Know what I mean?" She snorted derisively.

"Uh...not really Donna, no." The Doctor began to say something more, then shrugged in resignation. He decided his best course of action was to just shut up and fly the TARDIS. They had to stop Pharaoh before he ended up turning every human on Earth into Cyber-slaves.

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