The Pan-Galactic Song Contest


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2. Chapter 2

Kliv dropped the pen he had been trying to hold. “I-will-ex-ter-min-ate-the-Doc-tor!” he yelled, as he took aim and fired.

    “Doctor! Duck!” The Doctor had barely taken evasive action when the Dalek’s ray exploded the seat he had been sitting on. The performers, with the exception of Quyg, advanced towards Martha and the Doctor.

    “This way!” called the Doctor, as he and Martha crawled below the level of the seats. The TARDIS stood at the end of the row. Almost there. Martha looked up and screamed. A Cyberman was blocking their way. “Back!” hissed the Doctor. Martha turned around. Kliv was advancing towards them along the row. A number of aliens were approaching them over the rows of seats in front.

   “Ex-ter-min-ate-the-Doc-tor!” yelled Kliv, taking aim. Martha and the Doctor barely had time to duck. The Cyberman didn’t and exploded.

   “Come on!” called the Doctor. They ran into the TARDIS amid Dalek ray-gun fire and marauding aliens.

   “Now what?” asked Martha.

   The Doctor thought. “I have an idea how we can rescue Sir Terry, but it needs me to be able to repair the camouflage circuit on the TARDIS.”

   “The what?”

   “The camouflage circuit. TARDISes are supposed to change their external appearance to fit in with their local surroundings. Mine stopped working on a visit to 1950s London and has been using the image it placed in its memory banks then ever since. Trouble is you can’t get the spare parts, unless you cannibalise another TARDIS.”

   “Does the Producer have a TARDIS?”

   “He will have – it’ll be around here somewhere, disguised as something….”. He paused to think again.

 

   “Ladies and gentlemen. Welcome back to the Pan-Galactic Song Contest. Now we reach the most exciting part of the evening, when the participating planets feed back their votes to us….”

 

    “Feedback! That’s it!” yelled the Doctor, to Martha’s bemusement. “That large loudspeaker in the middle of the stage, behind the performers. If that was a working loudspeaker, it’d be feeding back through the sound system.”

    Martha glanced out through the door of the TARDIS. Kliv and the other aliens still stood guard outside. “How can we get to it?” she asked.

    “Simple,” replied the Doctor. He punched some numbers into the controls of the TARDIS. It lurched into life briefly then stopped.

     “Open the doors, Martha.”

     Martha looked out. Their TARDIS was inside another TARDIS. “I did it,” yelled the Doctor excitedly, rubbing his hands together.

      “Where are we?” asked Martha.

      “Inside the Producer’s TARDIS,” replied the Doctor. “Unless I’m very much mistaken it’s a model KZL12468321B, although I suppose it could be a KZL12352489E or even an HGL4319887M.  The important thing is, I can use its camouflage circuit.” He withdrew his sonic screwdriver and opened a panel.”

       “Can I do anything to help?” asked Martha.

       “Not here,” replied the Doctor. “Do you have your camera phone with you?”

       Martha produced it out of her handbag.

       “Good,” continued the Doctor. “Go and take as many photos of the coffin as you can. Then see if you can move it away from its current position, and bring the photos back here.” Martha nodded and slipped out. Outside, the votes from Skarow were coming in. Ten points for Mars, eight for Andromeda Beta Four. Martha found the stairs leading down under the stage. There was the coffin on its hydraulic platform, ready to be raised up through the stage again. Martha ran round it, taking pictures from every conceivable angle. That done, she tried to move it off the stand. It wouldn’t move. She realised she couldn’t do it on her own – it would need several pairs of hands to shift it. Of course! Zark! Martha ran back upstairs to where Zark was sat.

   “Zark! I need your help.”

   “Anything for a friend of the Doctor’s.”

   Zark followed Martha back down the stairs, as the Martians announced  their vote for the Jovian entry. By the time the Jovians had voted for the Martian entry, Zark had moved the white coffin. Martha thanked Zark and turned to leave.

    “So that’s what you’re up to.” Quyg was barring Martha’s way up the stairs. He reached to grab her, but Zark extended one of his arms and caught Quyg’s. Quyg tried again, but again Zark parried him, until the two of them were caught in a bizarre arm-wrestling tournament, Martha caught in the middle. She wriggled free and up on to the stage, then rushed into the Producer’s TARDIS.

     “Done it!” she called, breathlessly. The Doctor slid himself out from one under one of the panels.

      “Just in time,” he nodded, taking her by the hand and dragging her into his TARDIS. He clipped a circuit board into one of the panels. A long lead led from the circuit board. “Pass me your phone,” he said to Martha. Martha did so. The Doctor connected the lead to the phone and pressed a button. Lights flashed on and off on the circuit board.

      “What are you doing?” asked Martha.

      “I’ve downloaded the pictures you took into the TARDIS. The camouflage circuit is constructing an exterior based on the photos.” The lights finished flickering. “Done!” exclaimed the Doctor. “And just in time by the sound of it.” Outside, the final scores were being read. The Doctor keyed some fresh coordinates into the TARDIS’s navigational system and pressed another button. The TARDIS moved briefly, then stopped. The Doctor opened the door and looked out. They were on the hydraulic platform, and the TARDIS had indeed taken the external form of the coffin. Above them, the winning entry was performing for the final time.

      “And so, from the Pan-Galactic Song Contest, I bid you good night until next year,” announced Wogan disappointedly. The Earth woman had failed to rescue him. Back to the coffin for another year. As soon as the cameras were off, the coffin rose up through the stage again. The Producer and Zorb grabbed Wogan and pushed him backwards into the coffin. At the very last moment, the Producer realised that the coffin was not a cryogenic chamber, but a TARDIS.

      “It is a TARDIS!” yelled the Producer. “The Doctor is helping Wogan to escape!”

      “I-will-de-story-the-TAR-DIS!” screamed Kliv, and fired. The bolt went through the closing door of the TARDIS and hit one of its circuit boards, which exploded.

      “Stop!” shouted the Producer. “If you destroy the TARDIS, you will kill Wogan. Zorb and I will give chase in my TARDIS.” The two of them ran for the giant loudspeaker.

      “Any damage?” asked Martha.

      “The camouflage chip’s been destroyed,” replied the Doctor, sorrowfully. “Still, easy come, easy go.”

       “Does this mean the TARDIS will look like a coffin forever?” asked Martha.

       “No,” answered the Doctor. “In the absence of a camouflage circuit, the TARDIS takes the most recent form from its memory banks. I didn’t have time to connect the camouflage chip to the memory so the TARDIS has no record of ever being in this form.” He turned to Wogan.

    “When exactly were you kidnapped?”

    “27th November 2007,” replied Wogan. “Children in Need day. Oh my, I hope this hasn’t affected the children. If they don’t get the money…”

    “Don’t worry,” replied the Doctor. “The Children won’t be affected. I’ll make sure of that.” He punched some more coordinates into the control panel.

    “What if the Producer follows us?” asked Martha, concerned.

    “He won’t,” answered the Doctor, as the TARDIS began the journey back to the 21st Century. “I hardwired the new coordinates for the outside of his TARDIS while you were taking the photographs. It’ll turn up somewhere he won’t expect and it’ll take him a very long time indeed to sort it out.”

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