The Curse of the Silver Pharaoh

Something ancient and evil is awakening under the sands of Egypt


20. Chapter 19

Walking purposefully towards the gas-filled hole in the ground, the Doctor heard Donna wish him luck.

"Cheers, Donna." He answered, backhanding a wave in her direction.

In the last second before he clambered down to Pharaoh's ship, the Doctor drew in a deep breath of fresh air. Holding it, he quickly jumped into the hole. Slimy red clay clung to his trainers and trouser cuffs like cement. The Doctor nearly fell several times in the slick ooze of the steep, uneven sides of the pit.

Negotiating the ragged hole of the crash site, was not unlike trying to ski downhill on ice with with a pair snowshoes. The Doctor recalled that snowshoe racing on ice wasn't the best idea he'd ever had. However, a bet was a bet. Which he'd won, of course. A whole year's supply of Jelly Babies he reflected, was worth nearly breaking both legs when he'd hit that boulder. It was a stupid place to put a rock, anyway. In the middle of a frozen glacier.

The Doctor's attention was abruptly arrested at sight of some bronze-coloured metal, caught in the glare of the setting sun. The glowing green gas was so thick here at the bottom of the crash site, that he could barely see the ship's partly open door. The force of the crash had buckled the sliding door, pushing the bottom of it outward.

He'd made it to the ship all right, only to find that he couldn't quite fit his skinny body through the narrow opening. Tears streamed down his face as the gas stung his eyes. The Doctor mentally forced back the urge to breathe. He could hold his breath far longer than any human, but even his expansive alien lungs would require air, eventually.

Using his shoulder, the Doctor pushed on the door with all his strength. It moved about two centimeters before it stuck fast again. A frustrated growl rumbled in his throat, as he strained to budge it further. His eyes were blinking rapidly, because his vision was becoming blurred from the effects of the gas. Which is why the Doctor didn't notice the problem, right off. A smooth, rounded rock, about three times the size of his fist, had become wedged against the bottom of the door.

Seeing the obstruction, the Doctor rolled his eyes. In ancient Low Galifreyan, he silently swore at every single rock in the entire universe. Using his toe, he tried rolling the thing out of the way. It wouldn't move. Growing impatient, the Doctor gave the rock a good, solid kick. And quickly stifled the reflex to open his mouth in a shout of pain. For the Doctor's toe, unprotected as it was by the flimsy trainer, had come up the loser in that little battle.

With a throbbing right toe, and scowling fiercely at the offending object, the Doctor palmed the sonic screwdriver with vengeance in his eye. He was going to shift that blinking thing, if his life depended upon it—which it did. High sonic vibrations made the dirt and stones tremble. It loosened the rock's hold on the floor of the crater enough, for the Doctor to gently nudge it out of the way...with his other foot.

Once inside the downed craft, the Doctor was confronted by, not only more gas, but smoke from the damaged equipment. In the dark red glow of the emergency lighting, his stinging eyes struggled to find the life support panel. A full minute passed. One breath of that gas and he'd be finished. Maybe even before he could regenerate. And the The Doctor wasn't prepared for that eventuality, just yet.

However, he was all too aware of the fact that he was definitely nearing the end of his lung reserve. Finding what he was after, the Doctor's hand shot out. Gripping the sonic, he used it to trigger the ship's ventilation systems. Then waited with the faith of the desperate, hoping that they were still working.

There was an audible click, followed by the loud hum of a motor. An overhead blower began to suck out all the gas, while another blew in fresh air. The cockpit was clear of the poisonous gas and smoke in less than thirty seconds. The Doctor to breathed a sigh of relief, expelling the used-up air from his lungs.

Life support was about the only thing left working on board. Looking about him, the Doctor observed that the cockpit was a wreck. A tangle of intermittently sparking wires hung from ceiling over the pilot's chair. The view screen on the front wall was completely shattered. A few minor fires still flickered from weapons control, and the computer which navigated the craft was completely dead. Even the pilot and co-pilot's chairs had been violently overturned. There was not a single indication that there were any survivors.

There were no signs of life on board, because the ship was completely empty.

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