The Doctor pushed open a bulkhead door. “Careful. Follow me.”
“Rather ironic, but this is very much in the spirit of Christmas,” Mr. Copper said. “It's a festival of violence. They say that human beings only survive depending on whether they've been good or bad. It's barbaric.”
Lilith bit back a laugh and said, “No offense, Mr. Copper. But I really need you to shut up or I’ll burst into laughter again.”
“Actually, that's not true. Christmas is a time of, of peace and thanksgiving and…” The Doctor stopped talking when Lilith raised her eyebrows at him. “What am I on about? My Christmases are always like this.” He found a Host under some metal plates. “We've got a Host. Strength of ten. If we can mend it, we can use it to fix the rubble.”
“We can do robotics. Both of us,” Morvin said.
Foon nodded. “We work on the milk market back on Sto. It's all robot staff.”
“See if you can get it working. Let's have a look.” The Doctor led the rest of them further up. They came to a pile of rubble. “It's blocked.”
“So what do we do?”
“We shift it,” Astrid said.
“That's the attitude.” The Doctor grinned at Lilith. “You always pick up the best ones. Rickston, Mister Copper, and you, Bannakaffalatta. Look, can I just call you Banna? It's going to save a lot of time.”
“No. Bannakaffalatta,” the red alien insisted.
“All right then, Bannakaffalatta. There's a gap in the middle. See if you can get through.”
“Easy. Good.” He squeezed himself through the gap. The ship shook and more debris shifted.
“This whole thing could come crashing down any minute,” Slade said.
The Doctor looked at him. “Oh, Rickston, I forgot. Did you get that message?”
Slade frowned. “No. What message?”
“Bannakaffalatta made it!” Bannakaffalatta announced.
“I'm small enough. I can get through,” Astrid said.
“Cuidado.” Lilith warned.
Astrid smiled at her. “I'm fine.”
“Thing is, how are Mister and Mrs. Fatso going to get through that gap?” asked Slade.
Lilith glared at him. “We make the gap bigger, dimwit. I believe you were told to shut up?” They kept moving bits and pieces out of the way until the space was big enough for Lilith to climb through. “We can clear it from this side. Just tell me if it starts moving,” she called down to the rest of the group.
Astrid looked to check on the small red man and frowned. “Bannakaffalatta, what's wrong?”
Bannakaffalatta put his finger to his lips. “Shush.”
“What is it?” she asked, making her way over to him. “Are you hurt?”
“Ashamed,” he admitted.
“Poor Bannakaffalatta.” He pulled up his shirt to reveal his metal chest with blinking lights.
“You're a cyborg,” Astrid breathed.
“Had accident long ago. Secret.”
Astrid shook her head. “No, but everything's changed now. Cyborgs are getting equal rights. They passed a law back on Sto. You can even get married.”
“Marry you?” Bannakaffalatta asked with a sort of smirk.
Astrid laughed quietly. “Well, you can buy me a drink first. Come on. Let's recharge you. Just stay there for a bit.”
“Tell no one.”
“What's going on up there?” the Doctor asked.
“Not sure. I think Bannakaffalatta and Astrid just got engaged,” Lilith said.
“Almost done!” Lilith heard Morvin shout.
“Good, good, good,” the Doctor said. “Mister Frame, how's things?”
“Doctor, I've got life signs all over the ship but they're going out one by one.”
The Doctor frowned. “What is it? Are they losing air?”
“No. One of them said it's the Host. It's something to do with the Host.”
“It's working!” Morvin yelled.
“Turn it off!” the Doctor shouted. There was a struggle on the other side of the wall of debris. Lilith’s hands clenched into fists, she couldn’t help the Doctor from where she was. “Rickston, get them through!”
“No chance.” Slade pushed himself through the gap.
Lilith helped him to his feet. “If I had my blaster, you’d be a dead man, Slade,” she growled. “Dad, what’s going on?”
“It's the Host! They've gone berserk!” the Doctor shouted.
Foon tried to get through next, but couldn’t make it all the way. “Now I'm stuck!” she cried.
“Come on, you can do it!” Astrid coaxed while she and Lilith tried to pull the woman the rest of the way through.
Mr. Copper levered the debris up with a metal bar and Foon made it through. “Rickston, Vot damn it, help me.”
“No way!” Slade refused. Lilith restrained from wrapping her hands around the snob’s neck.
“Morvin, get through!”
Lilith could hear the Host’s mechanical voice chanting, “Kill, kill, kill, kill.”
“Doctor, he's stuck!”
The Doctor shoved Morvin through the hole. “Information override!” he shouted at the Host. “You will tell me the point of origin of your command structure!”
“Dad! Get your skinny ass over here!” Lilith yelled.
“Information: Deck thirty-one.”
“Thank you.” The Doctor launched himself through the gap. “Let go!”
Mr. Copper let the bar go and the debris smashed down on the Host's head. The group continued down the debris filled hall until they came across another computer station. A trolley of sandwiches was nearby.
“Morvin, look. Food,” Foon said.
Slade rolled his eyes. “Oh great. Someone's happy.”
“Don't have any then,” Morvin snapped.
Astrid handed Lilith a plate of food. They sat. “So if he’s a Time King from Gaddabee, what are you?”
Lilith grinned. “I guess that would make me a Time Princess. Not as impressive, but I’ve got a good hundred and twenty five years to my name.”
“Look good for it.”
“I moisturize.” She laughed. “You should see me in the mornings.”
“Okay.” Astrid smiled.
Lilith choked on a bit of sandwich and blushed as the Doctor sat down next to them. “M-must be past midnight, Earth time. Christmas Day.”
“So it is.” He squeezed her hand. “Merry Christmas.”
“This Christmas thing, what's it all about?” Astrid questioned.
“Long story,” the Doctor said. “I should know, I was there. I got the last room.”
“But if the planet's waking up, can't we signal them?” Mr. Copper asked. “They could send up a rocket or something.”
Lilith frowned. “It’s 2008, Earth doesn’t officially know about life on other planets, let alone have spaceships.”
“No, I read about it. They have shuffles. Space shuffles.”
“Mr. Copper, please.”
“This degree in Earthonomics, where's it from?” the Doctor asked.
Mr. Copper sighed and sat down. “Honestly? Mrs. Golightly's Happy Travelling University and Dry Cleaners.”
“You, you lied to the company to get the job?” Astrid gasped.
“I wasted my life on Sto. I was a travelling salesman, always on the road, and I reached retirement with nothing to show for it. Not even a home. And Earth sounded so exotic.”
“Hmm. I suppose it is, yeah,” the Doctor agreed.
Astrid looked at him. “How come you two know it so well?”
“I was sort of, a few years ago, we were sort of made, well, sort of homeless, and, er, there was the Earth.”
“My best friend lives down there,” Lilith said, quietly.
“The thing is, if we survive this, there'll be police and all sorts of investigations. Now the minimum penalty for space lane fraud is ten years in jail. I'm an old man. I won't survive ten years.”
Something started banging on the door.
“A Host!” the Doctor yelled. “Move! Come on!”
The Doctor led them through the next bulkhead to catwalk and a narrow fallen beam forming walkway across a massive empty space in the middle of the ship.
“Is that the only way across?” Slade asked.
“Look at it this way,” Lilith said. “It is a way across.”
“The engines are open.”
“Nuclear storm drive. As soon as it stops, the Titanic falls.”
“But that thing, it'll never take our weight,” Morvin protested.
“You're going last, mate,” Slade said.
“It's nitrofin metal. It's stronger than it looks,” the Doctor assured him.
“All the same, Rickston's right. Me and Foon should—” Morvin stepped forward and the metal under his foot gave way. He fell towards the engine furnace.
“I told you. I told you!” Slade shouted.
Lilith punched him in the nose. “Shut up, you hear me? Shut up!”
“Bring him back!” Foon cried. “Can't you bring him back? Bring him back, Doctor!”
“I can't. I'm sorry, I can't. I'm sorry, I'm so sorry.”
“Doctor, I rather think that those things have got our scent,” Mr. Copper said.
“I'm not waiting.” Slade stepped out onto the beam. The ship shook and Slade fell onto the beam. “Oh, Vot help me.”
The Host’s voice permeated through the closed door. “Kill. Kill. Kill.”
“They're getting nearer.”
The Doctor soniced the doors closed. “Seal us in.”
“You're leaving us trapped, wouldn't you say?” Mr. Copper protested.
“Never say trapped, just inconveniently circumstanced.”
Slade made it to the other side. “Yes. Oh. yes! Who's good!”
“Bannakaffalatta, Lilith, you go next.”
Bannakaffalatta nodded. “Bannakaffalatta small.”
Lilith eyed the beam warily. “What I wouldn’t give for my old hover shoes,” she muttered.
“Slowly!” the Doctor warned them. The Host were hammering on the bulkhead door. Lilith dimly heard the Doctor order Astrid across as she worked her way forward. Astrid tried to argue, but she could feel it when the other woman stepped out onto the beam.
“Doctor? The door's locked!” Slade shouted. “Doctor, I can't open the door. We need the whirling key thing of yours!”
“I can't leave her.”
“She'll get us all killed if we can't get out.”
The Doctor followed the others across the rickety bridge. It started to creak. “Too many people!” Bannakaffalatta protested.
“Oi! Don't get spiky with me. Keep going.”
Bannakaffalatta got across the weakest bit in the middle, followed by Lilith, then Astrid. “It's going to fall.”
“It's just settling. Keep going.” Then, the Host went quiet. “They've stopped.”
“Gone away?” Bannakaffalatta guessed.
“Why would they give up?” the Doctor wondered. “Where have they gone? Where are the Host?”
“I'm afraid we've forgotten the traditions of Christmas.” Mr. Copper said, shakily. “That angels have wings!”
Host glided down and surrounded them. “Information: Kill.” They removed their haloes.
“Arm yourself, all of you!” the Doctor ordered.
Everyone on the bridge grabbed a bit of pipe and used it as a bat to send the haloes flying, but one cut the Doctor's arm and another injured Copper's side.
“Dad! Mr. Copper!” Lilith shouted.
Bannakaffalatta threw down his pipe. “Bannakaffalatta stop. Bannakaffalatta proud. Bannakaffalatta cyborg!” He lifted his shirt and sent out an energy pulse. It short-circuited the Host, sending them plummeting down into the engine core, except one that landed on the catwalk behind the Doctor.
“Electromagnetic pulse took out the robotics. Oh, Bannakaffalatta, that was brilliant!” the Doctor crowed.
Bannakaffalatta collapsed. Lilith and Astrid went to his side. “He's used all his power.”
“Did good?” he asked.
“You saved our lives,” Astrid said.
“We can recharge you. Get you to a power point and just plug you in.”
“No, but you got to get me that drink, remember?”
“Pretty girl.” Bannakaffalatta whispered and then died. Astrid started to fasten his shirt, but Mr. Copper reached for a component.
“I'm sorry. Forgive me.”
“Leave him alone,” Astrid whimpered
Lilith put her hand on Astrid’s shoulder. “It's just the EMP transmitter. He'd want us to use it.”
“I used to sell these things,” Mr. Copper said. “They'd always give me a bed for the night in the cyborg caravans. They're good people. But if we can recharge it, we can use it as a weapon against the rest of the Host. Bannakaffalatta might have saved us all.”
“Do you think? Try telling him that.” Slade pointed to the Host that had landed behind the Doctor.
“Use the EMP!”
"It's dead. It's dead."
“No, no, no. Hold on!” the Doctor yelled. “Override loophole! Security protocol ten! Six, six, six! Er, twenty-one, four, five, six, seven, eight! I don't know, forty two?”
“One!” Lilith shouted.
The Host froze. “Information: State request.”
“Right,” she said, taking a breath. “You've been ordered to kill the survivors, why?”
“Information: No witnesses.”
“But this ship's going to fall on the Earth and kill everyone. The human race has nothing to do with the Titanic, so that contradicts your orders, right?”
“But why do you want to destroy the Earth?”
“Information: It is the plan.”
“What plan?” Lilith demanded.
“Information: Protocol grants you only three questions. These three questions have been used.”
“Well, you could have warned me,” she muttered.
“Information: Now you will die.” As the Host raised its halo, it was lassoed from behind.
“You're coming with me!” Foon yelled, jumping over the side and dragging the Host after her.
“No!” the Doctor shouted. “No more,” he growled, sonicing the door open and kicking away some debris. “Right. Get yourself up to Reception One. Once you're there, Mister Copper, you've got staff access to the computer. Try to find a way of transmitting an SOS. Astrid, you're in charge of this.” He gave her the EMP transmitter. “Once it's powered up, it'll take out a Host within fifty yards but then it needs sixty seconds to recharge. Got it? Rickston, take this.” The sonic screwdriver. “I've preset it. Just hold down that button, it'll open doors. Do not lose it! You got that? Now go and open the next door. Go on, go!”
“All right!” Slade ran.
The Doctor handed a first aid kit to Mr. Copper. “Mr. Copper, you're going to need this. I need you fighting fit. Astrid, where's the power points?”
“Under the comms,” she answered. They plugged in the EMP transmitter.
“See, when it's ready, that blue light comes on there.”
“You're talking as if you're not coming with us.”
“There's something down on deck thirty one. Lilith and I are going to find out what it is.”
“What if you meet a Host?” Astrid asked, worriedly.
Lilith shrugged. “Well, then we'll just have some fun.”
“Sounds like you do this kind of thing all the time.”
“Not by choice,” the Doctor said. “All we do is travel. That's what we are, just travellers. Imagine it. No tax, no bills, no boss. Just the open sky.”
“I'm sort of unemployed now. I was thinking the blue box is kind of small, but I could squeeze in it, like a stowaway.”
“It's not always safe,” Lilith warned
“You two are reckless, you need someone to take care of you. I've got no one back on Sto. No family, just me. So what do you think? Can I come with you?”
Lilith looked at her father, who nodded, then back at Astrid with a smile. “Yeah, I'd like that. Yes.”
The ship shook. The Doctor shot up and grabbed the comm. “Mister Frame, you still with us?”
“It's the engines, sir. Final phase. There's nothing more I can do. We've got only eight minutes left.”
“Eight minutes to save the world. Lovely,” Lilith muttered.
“Don't worry, I'll get there,” he Doctor assured him.
“But the bridge is sealed off.”
“Yeah, yeah, working on it. I'll get there, Mister Frame, somehow. All charged up? Mister Copper, look after her. Astrid, look after him. Rickston, er, look after yourself.”
“I'll see you again,” Lilith promised Astrid.
“Hold on! There's an old tradition on Planet Sto.”
The Doctor was bouncing on his toes. “Lilith, we have really got to go.”
“Just wait a minute.” Astrid leaned in and lightly kissed Lilith.
Lilith blushed and rubbed the back on her neck, embarrassedly. “Yeah, that's a, ah, very old tradition, yeah.”
“See you later.”
She nodded vigorously. “Oh, totally!”
Lilith and the Doctor ran back across the bridge while the others carried on upwards. “Really, Lilith?” the Doctor asked.
“Shut up,” she mumbled, still blushing.
They made it to the kitchens before running into four Host. The Doctor grabbed a large pan for a weapon. “Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Security protocol one. Do you hear me? One. One! Okay, that gives me three questions. Three questions to save my life, am I right?”
“Information: Correct,” the Host said.
“No, that wasn't one of them. I didn't mean it. That's not fair!" the Doctor complained. “Can I start again?”
“No! No, no, no, no. That wasn't a question either. Blimey. One question left. One question. So, you've been given orders to kill the survivors but survivors must therefore be passengers or staff, but not us. We’re not passengers. We’re not staff. Go on. Scan us. You must have bio-records. No such people on board. We don't exist; therefore you can't kill us. Therefore, we’re stowaways, and stowaways should be arrested and taken to the nearest figure of authority. And I reckon the nearest figure of authority is on deck thirty-one. Final question. Am I right?”
“Brilliant.” The Doctor grinned. “Take me to your leader. I've always wanted to say that.”
Lilith groaned. If they survived, he was so dead.