Time for the third Short Trip by me to be shared in this blog-a-thon…
…‘The Space Car’ was the first Short Trip I’d written for ‘Bradley’s Basement’ after meeting Sophie Aldred who played Ace in ‘Doctor Who’ with Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor at the ‘Science of the Time Lords’ event in 2016. It was fun to write this story, which is a sequel to ‘The Space Hotel’, a Fifth Doctor story featuring the obnoxious Gordon Rotenhend. Mr. Rotenhend features in this story with Ace too.
‘THE SPACE CAR’
By Tim Bradley
Featuring Ace and the Seventh Doctor.
Set sometime after ‘You Are The Doctor and Other Stories’
Why are we here, Ace wanted to know!
Ace had had many adventures with the Doctor; that included fighting Daleks and Cybermen. She’d done plenty of travelling in the TARDIS. But she wondered what the point of it all was when they kept visiting these places as the Doctor never announced why they had come in the first place. The Doctor was never one for telling Ace anything about his plans.
Ace and the Doctor were now visiting an obscure, random and, to be honest, uninspired space-market in the heart of Aohan space. Ace saw the Doctor set the coordinates for their destination when they were in the TARDIS, but he didn’t bother to tell her the reason for it at the time.
This was always the problem for Ace when she travelled with the Doctor and it got her frustrated when it happened. The Doctor always had this master-plan of his. Whether it was for Ace or not, she never could really tell. He always told her he had something ‘brewing in the melting pot’ and it was all for the best for saving the universe. But he wouldn’t let her in on everything he had in mind for him and her when they visited particularly random places wherever they went in the TARDIS. Ace sometimes wondered if she trusted the Doctor entirely.
Well, enough was enough as far as Ace was concerned. She was determined to get the scoop out of the Doctor, whether he liked it or not.
They were now walking along the arcade of one street of shops in the space-market that Ace came to discover was called Erdna’s Place. It was fairly open air wherever they went at the space-market as they could see out into open space and the space-market was protected by an invisible force-field with an oxygen atmosphere suitable for most humanoid life-forms.
Ace carried her rucksack with her, as she walked with the Doctor down the street. She slung it onto her arm, before addressing him.
“Okay Professor,” Ace began as she joined the Doctor whilst walking down the street. “Now wouldn’t it be a good idea to explain exactly what you’re up to and why we’ve come to this alien dump of a space-market. Not much is happening here at the moment. It’s boring. There are hardly any people…or aliens…shopping, are there?”
This was true. Ace noticed the lack of shoppers in Erdna’s Place and it was probably this that had made her so restless and bored. If the space-market had been jam-packed with tourists, she would have been excited as something extra-special was going on. She could have gone for some of the local food and beverages they had at the space-market. Whether it’d be food to her liking, like chips and bacon sarnies is another matter.
The Doctor didn’t seem bothered by the lack of shoppers in the street where they were walking. He had that serious thoughtful look about him, Ace noticed, as he strolled with his question-marked umbrella and wore his panama hat on his head and dressed in his white jacket for the day.
“We’re on holiday, Ace,” the Doctor replied to Ace’s question. “We’re going to a space hotel!”
“A space hotel,” Ace said, getting excited and intrigued now. Then she became bewildered and frustrated all over again. “We’ve come to the wrong place then, Professor. You don’t find space hotels at a space-market, do you?”
“We have to do a bit of shopping before we make our way to the space hotel, Ace,” the Doctor replied. “It’s only a little bit of shopping. But it’s essential for where we’re going as we’ll need these items when we get to the space hotel itself.”
Ace frowned. “So this is more of a working holiday than a relaxing break for a change, is it? Shame! I was keen to find out what a space hotel is like and whether it’s as good as any Earth hotel that turns out to be a dump in the end.”
“Oh there’ll be plenty of time for that, Ace,” the Doctor said reassuringly. “You’ll have some relaxation time when we get to the hotel.”
The Doctor then stopped as he fumbled in his pockets to get something. He looked at Ace.
“Hold out your hands,” he said.
Shrugging, Ace took her hands out of the jacket she wore with the word ‘ACE’ marked on the back. She held them out, as the Doctor placed some thin strips of metal into her hands. Ace stared at the thin strips of metal admiringly and inspected them casually, treating them like they were some rare collectables from an antique shop.
Ace asked, “What are these then, Professor?”
“Money, Ace” the Doctor stressed the word. “Money!”
“What?!” Ace exclaimed, disbelievingly. “These thin strips of metal you’ve given me here?”
“This is the early thirty-seventh century, Ace!” the Doctor told her. “You can’t go walking about buying things from shops without carrying credits with you like those you’ve got in your hands.”
“Credits?” Ace asked, intrigued.
“About three hundred worth there,” the Doctor declared.
“Three hundred credits?!” Ace cried, astonished. The Doctor quickly placed her hand over her mouth to shut her up.
“Keep your voice down,” the Doctor admonished Ace. “We don’t want everyone else to know!”
Ace lowered her voice when she spoke next. “This must be a mega purchase you’ve got in mind for me to get, Professor.”
“The item is small, Ace,” the Doctor replied, “But its price is very expensive indeed.”
Ace’s interest in this matter grew, as she looked the Doctor squarely in the eyes. “What is it you want me to get, Doctor?”
The Doctor breathed deep before he told her. “An item called the ‘Good of Re-Life’.”
“The ‘Good of Re-Life’?” Ace repeated. “What is that then?”
“What it’s supposed to be,” the Doctor began, “I’ll tell you about it when you get it for me. What it looks like is an amber-coloured diamond. It’s shaped perfectly and beautiful in every detail. Cut to a perfect diamond design.” The Doctor then stopped and coughed slightly, a little embarrassed. “Well, almost perfect. I had trouble cutting the top part of the diamond before I could send it off to be hidden away.”
Ace suspected the Doctor had something to do with the crystal design. “So you sent it here to be hidden away.”
“Oh no,” the Doctor corrected Ace. “I arranged for the crystal to be picked up by Erdna from where I hid it originally. But that’s another story. And there’s no time to talk about it now.”
“Okay so,” Ace began, “where is this diamond…this ‘Good of Re-Life’ then? Where am I supposed to go and get it from?”
“Buy it, Ace!” the Doctor reproached her. “You must buy the ‘Good of Re-Life’. Not get it or take it.”
“Alright, alright,” Ace retorted impatiently. “Where do I buy it then?”
The Doctor used his umbrella to point at the shop for Ace to see. “At Erdna’s Jewellery Store!”
Ace staggered in astonishment to see the jewellery store straight ahead of her.
“What, there?” Ace asked. “In that place?!”
“Yes,” the Doctor replied. “Erdna should be there in his shop ready to greet you. Unless of course, he’s at his café. Or his robotics repair shop. That’s the trouble with owning so many places. He can’t always be in the place you want him to be. But his employees will be there to greet you if he’s not in there.”
Ace nodded, understanding the Doctor’s instructions and preventing him from giving her too much of an overdose of information.
“Right you are, Professor. I’ll go and fetch this crystal for you.”
Ace was about to head off for the jewellery store before the Doctor stopped her in her tracks, laying a hand on her shoulder.
“Ace, wait a minute,” the Doctor told her.
“What is it now?” Ace asked impatiently.
The Doctor lowered his voice for no one else to hear him but Ace. “You haven’t got the code.”
“Code,” Ace asked, puzzled. “What code’s that, Professor?”
“The code to give to the man or woman behind the counter so that you can buy the ‘Good of Re-Life’. It’s a very precious diamond and mustn’t get into the wrong hands of anybody. Do you understand? It has dangerous powers that nobody else must use. Except me, of course.”
“Okay Professor,” Ace understood. “What is this code for me to get…’buy’ the diamond from them?”
The Doctor said it slowly for Ace to hear the words clearly. “’Three bags full’,” he said.
“’Three bags full’?”
“Yes,” the Doctor said. “Then he or she will say ‘three blind mice’. And you have to say to them…” he said it slowly again. “…’I will huff and puff and blow your house down.’ Have you got that, Ace?”
Ace nodded. “Yeah,” she replied. “I say ’three bags full’; they’ll say ‘three blind mice’; then I say ‘I will huff and puff and blow your house down’. Easy!” she then said confidentially. “Should be straight-forward to remember.”
“Nothing is ever straight-forward, Ace,” the Doctor told her, as he patted her on the shoulder. “Good luck!”
“Same to you too, Professor,” Ace said cheerily. “Where do I meet up with you after I’ve finished at the jewellery store?”
“Back at the TARDIS,” the Doctor replied. “Where we parked it at the space port. See you later, Ace!”
The Doctor doffed his panama hat off to Ace, before turning round and walking off in the other direction. Ace waved the Doctor off.
“Yeah,” she said. “See you later!”
Off Ace went, as she made for the jewellery store to get the ‘Good of Re-Life’ for the Doctor. She lugged the rucksack on her back as she went off.
Inside the jewellery store, Gordon Rotenhend was not having a good day. He’d come to the space-market in Aohan space, hoping to find a gift for his wife. It was to be their wedding anniversary in a few days’ time and he hadn’t got his wife a present yet. He remembered how much she had told him off when he forgot about their wedding anniversary last time. Well, he wasn’t going to give her the satisfaction for a second time.
Gordon was now in the jewellery store, trying to get a special diamond. He had a stock full of money in his wallet. About eighty-five credits worth. If he was going to get something for his wife as an anniversary present he was going to make a meal of it, whether he liked it or not. He really hated it.
He’d found the diamond he wanted, sitting there on the counter waiting to be picked up and bought at the shop. What he didn’t expect was that the skinny; little shrimp of a man that he considered a numskull and an idiot; wouldn’t give him the dratted diamond when he asked for it. The little man called Hinders was adamant about it. But Gordon was determined to get that diamond for his wife.
“Come on, you stupid numskull!” Gordon bellowed in his loud, annoying voice. “Give me the diamond and I’ll give you the money! Isn’t that what you credit-pinchers want from us losers?!”
“I’m sorry,” Hinders insisted. “But this diamond is reserved for someone else. You can’t have it. It’s been paid for.”
“Paid for, is it?” Gordon bellowed angrily. “Then why hasn’t it been taken, hey?! Hmm! Why is it still sitting on that counter of yours doing nothing?! If it has been paid for, it shouldn’t be here should it?”
“I’m waiting for the buyer to come, sir,” Hinders replied. “Now please go and find something else. There are plenty of other diamonds better than this one for your wife to enjoy!”
“How dare you talk to me like that?!” shouted Gordon. “Don’t you realise who I am here?!”
“Yes,” said Hinders. “I know you’re Mr. Gordon Rotenhend. I’ve been told a lot about you.”
“Good,” Gordon sneered. “Then you know that whatever I want, I get. So you give me that diamond and I’ll give you the eighty-five credits that you want so much! And make it snappy! I want to get back home and eat crisps!”
Hinders was getting fed up of this man – this customer – who had berated and abused him so terribly. He wanted to get rid of him. But his code of business told him instinctively that he had to be polite.
“Please, sir,” Hinders said, breathing deeply. “You must understand! I can’t give you this diamond! You must respect my code of business!”
“Oh!” Gordon retorted, challengingly. “Must I indeed?!”
It was at that moment, they were saved by the jewellery store doors sliding open. Ace had entered the shop. The jewellery doors slid shut once she was in. This gave Hinders the excuse he needed, as he addressed Mr Rotenhend again.
“Now if you’ll excuse me, sir,” he began. “I need to attend to this customer. Come back later for another diamond that’s more to your liking!”
“You haven’t finished with me yet,” Gordon bellowed.
“Yes I have,” Hinders insisted, “for now! Now go and find another diamond please, sir!”
Hinders had only turned away to see Ace make her way to the counter for a few seconds. Gordon puffed and slammed his fist on the counter, getting Hinders attention again. Hinders was unhappy with Gordon’s fist-dent on his counter.
“That counter cost me three hundred credits, Mr Rotenhend,” Hinders said. “And you’ve made a dent in it!”
Gordon ignored Hinders, as he spoke with menace in his voice. “I will be back! Do you hear me, you little shrimp! I’ll be back! And don’t think you’ve seen the last of me! I’ll get my stinking lawyers on you! They’ll sort you out!”
Once Gordon had finished, he turned round to make his way out of the shop. He bumped into Ace, sending her falling back onto the floor. She looked up at Gordon, clearly annoyed by his crashing into her.
“Oy!” Ace cried. “Watch where you’re going, mate! You pushed me onto the floor here!”
Gordon looked down on Ace, giving her a look that matched exactly what he said to her next.
“Uh hello!” Gordon duly stated. “Do I look like I care?!”
He then stormed off, making his way out of the jewellery store. The doors slid open for him to leave, before Ace got back up to her feet and shouted at Gordon as he left.
“Towrag!” she shouted.
But Gordon didn’t care, as he stormed out and the doors of the jewellery store slid shut behind him.
Hinders had come from behind his counter to meet up with Ace and to check if she was alright. “Are you alright, miss?” he asked her.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” Ace reassured him. “Thanks for asking.” She then looked back to where Gordon had left the shop. “What was his problem?”
Hinders sighed, “He wanted to have a certain diamond I had in my shop. But I told him it was not for sale and he wouldn’t have it. I said for him to come back later to choose another diamond. But he wouldn’t listen.”
“Shame,” Ace said grimacing. “I thought there wouldn’t be any jerks like him in these parts.”
“Oh,” Hinders chuckled. “Mr Rotenhend is no ordinary jerk, that’s for sure.” He eventually came back to his senses and changed the subject. “Now then, miss,” he asked Ace. “What can I do for you?”
Ace thought for a moment, as she tried to remember what it was she came here for. Then she remembered.
“Oh yeah,” she began. “I’ve come to pick up some diamond that my friend wants. Would you know him? He’s called the Doctor.”
“Doctor?” Hinders echoed as he thought. “Hmm. I don’t think I’ve met a doctor here in my shop,” he said. “That must be Mr. Erdna’s territory. He would have dealt with your friend when I wasn’t on duty.”
“Oh,” Ace realised. “So you’re not Mr Erdna then.”
“I’m afraid not, miss,” Hinders replied. “I’m Mr Hinders, Mr Erdna’s second. But I’m sure I can help you out. A diamond, you say? What diamond is this we’re talking about?”
“The ‘Good of Re-Life’,” Ace replied.
Hinders clapped his hands.
“Why!” Hinders exclaimed. “That was the diamond Mr Rotenhend tried to get his hands on when he was in here. Fortunately I was able to stop him getting it.”
“So you have got it here then,” Ace surmised.
“Indeed I have, Miss err…”
“Ace. Just call me Ace. That’s great! I’ll take it now if that’s okay. With the right money, of course.”
“Err, hang on. Hang on, Miss Just Call Me Ace,” Hinders interjected. “I’m afraid I can’t give you the diamond just like that. I need to have some proof that you are who you say you are and that you were sent here by the Doctor.”
Ace was almost about to sulk, annoyed by this point. But then she remembered what she had to do.
“Oh yes,” Ace realised as she began. She cleared her throat and said, “’Three bags full’.”
“Ah!” Hinders remembered this ritual too as he had been instructed by his employer. “‘Three blind mice, is it’?”
Ace nodded and said, “’And I will huff and puff and blow your house down.’” Satisfied, she then declared, “There! We’re done, aren’t we?”
“We certainly are,” Hinders agreed cheerfully. “I’ll get you the ‘Good of Re-Life’ diamond now.”
Hinders went back to fetch the diamond for her. Ace made her way to the counter to receive the diamond from Hinders. She was keen to find out what this diamond would be like and whether it was as ‘amber-coloured’ as the Doctor had said it would be when she saw it.
What happened next was a moment of tension. Ace saw Hinders behind the counter. He was staring directly at the fist-like dent made by Gordon Rotenhend earlier on the counter. Ace saw how troubled he looked.
“Hey?” she prompted him. “Are you alright? What’s wrong?”
Hinders looked up from the counter to see Ace. He clearly wasn’t happy. “The diamond,” he announced. “It’s gone! Disappeared! Vanished! It’s no longer there!”
Ace was puzzled. “What do you mean it’s no longer there? You said it was on this counter!”
“It was on this counter, Miss Ace,” Hinders replied. “I’m sorry, but it’s no longer there where I put it. I put the diamond here especially for it to be picked up today by you or the Doctor.”
“Then where is it then?” Ace asked him.
“I don’t know,” Hinders panicked. “I can’t understand it! It can’t have vanished into thin air…”
Hinders stopped in mid-sentence. He thought for a moment. He then realised and looked at Ace with horror and astonishment. Ace didn’t like his look.
“What is it?” Ace asked. “What’s going on?”
“He took it!” Hinders announced, angrily. “He must have! He would have that diamond and I let him get away with it. I should have known that there was something wrong when he made that fist-dent in my counter.”
“What do you mean ‘he took it’?” Ace asked impatiently. “Who did? Who took the diamond?”
“Don’t you see,” Hinders stressed insistently. “Mr Rotenhend took it! He stole the diamond right under my nose when he slammed his fist on the counter. He grabbed the diamond before slamming the counter with his fist.”
“So,” Ace surmised, “he took the diamond and he’s out there with it heading back to where he came from.”
“Yes!” Hinders stated. “Back to the space hotel. Where he came from. Back at Rotenhend Hotel Number Sixteen!”
Ace ran back to where the space port was to hopefully find the TARDIS as well as the Doctor. She found the space-market a maze, as it was quite a job finding her way back from Edrna’s Place through ten streets to get out into the open air where the hub of activity was taking place. That activity was the number of people departing or arriving at the space-market. Ace noted that it was mostly people actually departing from the space-market.
Eventually, she arrived at the space port where the TARDIS was. But to her surprise, Ace saw that the TARDIS was being taken away on a loader into outer space as it was departing from the space-market. What was more surprising and a shock for Ace, was that the Doctor, in his panama hat and gear with umbrella in his right hand, was running frantically to get to the loader in a panic.
She could hear the Doctor shouting, “Stop! That’s my TARDIS you’ve got on there! Give it back! Give it back, I say!”
Ace saw the Doctor jump onto the loader just in time, before it took off from the ground. There were no people driving the loader as far as Ace could see. The Doctor clambered up to the loader to reach his TARDIS. He held tightly to the police box exterior. The Doctor gritted his teeth and pulled an expression that Ace could describe as frustration; annoyance and mild fear as he and the TARDIS were being taken away on the loader.
Running out towards the edge of the landing bay where the TARDIS was parked, Ace stopped to see the Doctor and the TARDIS getting further away.
She called out to him, “Doctor! Doctor!”
The Doctor saw Ace. He took his panama hat off his head and doffed it at Ace, calling back to her. “Ace! Ace!” he called. “Get yourself a lift to Rotenhend Hotel Number Sixteen, Ace! I’ll meet you there!”
“But where are you going? What are you doing on…on whatever that thing is?!” Ace called out to him.
“It’s a transport loader, Ace. For Rotenhend Hotel Number Sixteen! That’s where it’s going! It takes cargo to and from the hotel including food; drink and towels. Unfortunately the loader works by automatic and it assumed the TARDIS was a cargo container for the space hotel.”
“You mean it has no driver?!” Ace raised her voice.
“That’s what I’m saying!” the Doctor replied, impatiently.
“Well,” Ace asked anxiously, “shouldn’t I be with you?! I could find a way to get to you!”
“No, no,” the Doctor replied insistently. “I’ll be fine, so long as I stay with my TARDIS. There’s an atmosphere shell to protect the cargo on its flight to the space hotel. So it’ll protect me as well and prevent me and the food aboard going rotten.” The Doctor paused for breath. “Now do as I say, Ace! Get yourself a lift! And keep that diamond safe on you!”
The diamond! Ace cursed herself, as she realised she needed to tell this important thing to the Doctor as he was getting further away from her.
“Doctor,” she called out to him again. “The diamond! There’s something I need to tell you about that!”
“Tell me about it when you get to Rotenhend Hotel Number Sixteen,” the Doctor replied. “I’m getting further away and won’t be able to hear you. Just look after yourself and that diamond. It’s very important you don’t lose it!”
“See you there, Ace! See you soon!”
The Doctor doffed his hat again before he was out of earshot. Ace knew he was soon going to go out into the far reaches of space and disappear from sight. So there was little point in calling out further to him with this important development she had of losing the diamond and having it being stolen by someone. Besides which, she was getting funny looks from the other visitors to the space-market.
Ace turned away from the edge of the landing bay and walked back towards the entrance to the space-market. She felt lost, not knowing what to do and wondering how she was going to find the diamond again. Also she wondered how she was going to hitch a lift with someone to get to Rotenhend Hotel Number Sixteen and meet up with the Doctor. It seemed like she was stranded for a while whilst she had time to consider her options.
But as luck would have it, she saw the man who stole the diamond coming out of the space-market. He was carrying shopping bags in his hands and under his arms. Ace saw he wasn’t happy, as he was biting his lip and muttering some curses under his breath with the amount of bags he was carrying.
Now’s my chance, thought Ace. Now I can get that diamond back from that guy which he stole from the jewellers and see that it gets to the Professor.
Ace made a run for it, lugging her rucksack on her back, as she chased after the man who made his way to a space car park nearby.
“Oy!” Ace called out loud. But whether the man heard Ace behind him, he paid no attention.
Ace called again as she ran after the man. “Oy! You there! Stop!”
Gordon Rotenhend made his way to the space car. He fumbled for his card, annoyed that he had to carry both that and his shopping bags at the same time. What was the point of it all, he wondered to himself.
He swiped the card-key into the card-key reader of the space car door to get in. It didn’t glow the green light as he hoped. It glowed red instead. He tried swiping the card into the card-key reader. Same result. Gordon then kicked at the door in anger.
“Work!” Gordon boomed loudly for everyone to hear. “OPEN THE DOOR, YOU STUPID LITTLE CRETIN!”
Gordon kicked the door again. This time, the light of the card-key reader glowed green. The door clicked and the space car was open. Gordon slipped his key-card back into his trouser pocket, satisfied he’d got the darn space car to open.
“That’s more like it,” Gordon grunted to the space car. “You’re learning. If only you were a hare instead of a tortoise.
He opened the space car door to put his shopping bags inside before getting into it himself and sitting in the driving seat.
Gordon didn’t realise that Ace was running up towards him, calling out to him as she ran.
“Oy!” Ace cried to him. “Are you deaf or something?! I’m talking to you, bozo!”
But Gordon ignored Ace. Satisfied he put the shopping bags away in the back of the space car; Gordon made to sit in the driving seat. Ace caught up with him and pulled him back away from getting into the space car.
“Listen here, mate,” Ace began belligerently. “I’ve been trying to get your attention.”
Gordon fumed and it seemed like steam steamed out of his ears. He shook Ace off him.
“Get your hands off me, girl,” he shouted. “I don’t know who you are, but I can tell you’re one of that lot!”
“What lot?” Ace demanded to know.
“That riff-raff,” Gordon replied. “Heck, you could not have washed your hands before coming out of the toilet when you last visited one. How dare you touch me? I’ve probably got your diseases or some infection you carry.”
Ace was now fuming as Gordon was. “Of all the low-down; snobbish; racist…”
Gordon then interrupted her. “Now tell me! What is it you want so that I can be on my way?! I’ve got to get to Rotenhend Hotel Sixteen, you know!”
“That diamond you stole,” Ace demanded. “I want it back!”
Gordon looked at Ace incredulously. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, girl.”
“It’s Ace to you, mate,” Ace told him. “And you know what diamond I’m talking about. You stole the ‘Good of Re-Life’ diamond from the jewellers’ shop at Erdna’s Place. That big diamond you took when you slammed you fist on the counter.”
Gordon almost had a look of guilt on his face when Ace told him. But he quickly recovered his wits and looked superiorly at Ace.
“I know nothing of this big diamond you speak of which you accuse me of stealing!” he boomed. “How dare you suggest such a thing?! I’m a successful and highly respected hotel manager, in case you didn’t know. But you dumb hayseed of a girl would be quick to judge these things when you know nothing of what goes on around you in this sector of the galaxy!”
Ace couldn’t believe the obnoxiousness of the man. “You torag,” she cried. “You stole that diamond and I want it back! It belongs to the Doctor! He sent me to collect it. Now give it here to me or else I’ll do something to you that’ll make you regret ever meeting me!”
“Buzz off,” Gordon bellowed as he pushed Ace savagely to the floor.
Ace fell onto her back, startled by the sheer force and brutality that this…what she would call an illegitimate child in a rude word…would impose on her. She saw Gordon getting into the space car, sitting in the driving seat as he pressed a button to close the door on him. The door slid shut, with Gordon inside the space car.
Ace got up to her feet and approached the space car, banging on the door to call Gordon inside.
“Open up,” she called to him angrily. “Get out of that car now, you jerk! Give me back that diamond you stole. It’s very important I have it! The Doctor needs it! Give it back I say!”
Gordon looked up at Ace, clearly agitated. “Stop banging on the door,” he bellowed angrily. “You’ll ruin the paintwork. This space car cost me fifty thousand credits. I have to give it a space car wash every day to make it clean and shiny!”
“Open this door, will you!” Ace demanded.
“No,” Gordon retorted.
No matter how many times Ace banged on the space car door, Gordon would not open it. Ace staggered back, as she heard the engines of the space car gear into life. She realised that Gordon was going to get away and she couldn’t get in at him. Or could she?
Ace had to think quickly. She looked to the back of the space car. She saw her chance.
Without hesitating, Ace quickly ran her way to the back of the space car to reach for the boot. She hoped that the boot of the space car was open and not locked. It wasn’t locked and it was open. Thank God, Ace thought.
Ace quickly opened the boot of the space car to get inside. She was surprised it hadn’t been locked already when she tried to open it. She was equally surprised that Gordon didn’t stop the space car to get out and stop her from getting in, as he clearly didn’t notice. Fortunately Gordon didn’t stop the space car and Ace got into the boot just in time before closing the lid. The space car soon took off and made its way out of the landing bay and into outer space. It left the space-market with Gordon driving the space car and Ace inside the boot.
It took a while for Gordon to realise that Ace was in the boot of the space car he was driving. By this point, he was a fair distance away from the space-market and half-way towards making his destination at the space hotel named after him as Rotenhend Hotel Number Sixteen. The space car’s computer annoyed Gordon and it didn’t help as he determined to get to the space hotel in a hurry. Being late was one thing, but having to be scolded and berated by his wife was another.
The space car computer spoke in its dull; uninspired female voice. “Please steer right.”
Gordon slammed his fist at the space car computer. “Stop telling me where to go, you stupid brain box,” Gordon bellowed. “I know where I’m going, thank you very much.”
“Incorrect manoeuvring procedure,” the computer replied dolefully.
Gordon sighed, annoyed by the computer’s lack of understanding to his agitation.
Suddenly a warning alarm blared off from the instrument panels of the space car. Gordon thumped his fist at the instrument panels in agitation.
“Oh for booming buckets and dingy freighters,” Gordon swore out loud. “What the bing-bong dashing is it now?!”
The space car computer responded to Gordon’s out-spoken query.
“Heavy weight detected,” it said. “Please stop the vehicle to remove the weight.”
“You stop the vehicle, you bash-bong,” Gordon shouted angrily. “You’re the heavy weight as far as I’m concerned. You remove yourself, why don’t you?!”
The computer wasn’t threatened by Gordon’s outbursts. “Sorry,” it replied politely. “I didn’t get that.”
Gordon groaned, annoyed, as he grudgingly pulled the car to a stop at the nearest passing place marker post in space.
Eventually coming to a stop and landing at the passing place, Gordon activated the atmosphere shell around the car in order to give him the oxygen he needed when getting out of the car to investigate. According to the space car’s computers, the heavy weight was detected in the rear, most particularly the boot. Gordon pressed a button and the space car doors slid open. Feet first, Gordon activated his anti-gravity shoes in order to walk out into the vacuum of space whilst protected by the atmosphere shell around his car. He strode carefully, as he came out of the car from the driving seat and made his way to the boot at the rear of the vehicle.
Reaching the rear of the space car, Gordon assessed what he might expect to find when he opened the boot. He was sure he hadn’t opened the boot or put anything heavy in when he had left Rotenhend Hotel Number Sixteen or when he left the space-market after his shopping. Then he realised. Someone must have got into the boot when he wasn’t looking or failed to notice. He knew exactly who it was.
Gordon slammed his fist on the boot lid.
“Alright, you,” he shouted angrily to the boot of the car. “Get yourself out of my space car now! Get out of there, do you hear?!”
A voice spoke from within the boot of the space car. “Oy!” Ace shouted from within. “Don’t slam your fist on the boot of your car with me inside, will ya?! You could have knocked my brains out!”
“Get out of there, I said!” Gordon shouted loudly. “GET OUT NOW OR ELSE I’LL BLOW THIS CAR UP WITH YOU INSIDE!!!!”
The space car boot opened and Ace revealed herself inside for Gordon to see.
“Fat chance of that,” Ace retorted to Gordon’s latest remark. “And stop shouting so loudly! As well as knocking my brains out, you could give me a headache!”
Ace came out of the boot of the space car, receiving no help from Gordon whatsoever. She stood upright and grabbed hold of the marker post when her feet touched the vacuum of space. She found Gordon looking straight at her, with a fuming look about him. Ace could see he had anti-gravity shoes on when walking in space and knew she wasn’t going to get a spare pair of shoes like that to steady herself easily in space.
“Just what do you think you’re doing,” Gordon demanded furiously. “What were you doing in the boot of my space car?”
“Taking a nap,” Ace retorted. “What do you think?” She calmed herself whilst steadying against the marker post. She continued, “I hitched myself a lift in your car. Since you were going to Rotenhend Hotel Sixteen yourself, I assumed you’d take me there.”
Gordon sneered at Ace cruelly. “Well think again, you stupid girl,” he said. “This space car only allows one occupant whilst driving. And since my needs are greater than yours, you can stay here whilst I go to Rotenhend Hotel Sixteen by myself. And if you don’t like it, then tough! Ta, ta”
Gordon turned back to return to the space car and sit in the driving seat. Ace maintained her balance at the marker post, horrified by Gordon’s lack of compassion and consideration.
“You can’t leave me here,” Ace shouted to him. “You’ll take away that atmosphere shell you’ve given us and I’ll suffocate here once you’ve gone.”
Gordon turned back to Ace and gave her a mock-dumbfounded look.
“Duh! Do I look as if I care?” he asked. “You can rot there as far as I’m concerned. Good day!”
Gordon sat himself in the space car in the driving seat, with the door sliding shut once he was inside. Ace struggled to maintain her balance at the marker post. She looked angrily at Gordon who sat himself in the space car, ready to drive off.
“You scumbag,” she shouted. “Don’t think you’ve heard the last of this! You won’t get away from it. Once the Doctor finds out you left me here to die, he’ll sort you out! You’ll see! He’ll sort you out!”
Whether Gordon heard Ace, he clearly ignored her as he was determined to get going and start his space car.
But as Gordon started the space car, the engine failed to respond. There was a persistent chugging and groaning, that Ace knew all too well what it indicated. The space car had stalled. Ace could hear Gordon shout from within the space car.
“Come on!” Gordon shouted. “COME ON!” he shouted louder. “COME ON, YOU STUPID PIG! COME ON!”
But despite Gordon’s shouts and demands to get it going, the space car refused to start. The space car’s computer announced, “Space car in breakdown. Please consult damage report.”
“OH SHUT UP, YOU STUPID BOX!” Gordon bellowed out loud. “I’VE HAD ENOUGH OF YOU! I’VE HAD ENOUGH!”
Ace could see that Gordon was constantly trying to press buttons within the space car to get it to work. But no matter which button he pressed, the space car wouldn’t comply.
The space car computer then said, “Your request has been noted. Please expect a note from Aohanian Car Company for further information.”
Gordon screamed from within the space car, as he thumped his fists on the control mechanisms from within. Ace saw Gordon get out of the space car. She then saw him point his finger accusingly at the space car like some naughty school child.
“Right,” Gordon cried. “That’s right! You’ve tried my patience once too often! I’ve had it up to here with the likes of you! I’m going to see to it that you can get towed away to the garbage planet of Mouxian-Onoueran-MacBomBom Three-Seventy!”
Gordon kicked at the side of his space car with his foot. He yelled out loud in pain, from kicking at the side of the space car with his foot.
Ace couldn’t help but laugh when she saw the funny sight of Gordon kicking his space car and getting his foot hurt. It was a great opportunity to mock and gloat at him for all the harsh and rude things he had said to her.
“Something with your car hey, Mr Rotenhend?” Ace asked mock-innocently.
“You shut up!” Gordon bellowed accusingly at Ace. “If you hadn’t made me stop my space car on my way to the space hotel, my life wouldn’t be as miserable as it is. My wife is going to kill me for being so late.”
“Yeah,” Ace replied challengingly. “Well, be grateful that you’re stuck with me to escape the wrath of your wife. I have to put up with your ugly mug whilst we’re stranded out here in space at this marker post.”
“How dare you call me an ugly mug,” Gordon shouted angrily. “I’ll wipe the smug look off your pretty; stupid little face until I’ll…”
“Save your breath, mate,” Ace told Gordon. “We’re in this together. So I suggest you hear what I have to say if you want us to get away from here and back on firm ground.”
“I don’t want to hear what you have to say,” Gordon retorted as he went off sulkily by himself, a few centre metres away from Ace and the space car itself.
Ace got fed up with Gordon’s persistent temper and outrageous bad manners. She was going to have her say whether he liked it or not. “I can help fix your space car, you know,” she said. “I’ve had some experience fixing cars back when I was helping out in the garage in my home town of Perivale on Earth.”
Gordon regarded Ace scornfully and laughed out loud. “YOU!” he laughed. “You? Fix my space car! You!”
Gordon kept laughing out loud, which really got on Ace’s nerves.
“And why not,” Ace demanded to know.
Gordon kept on laughing scornfully at Ace, as he continued. “You can’t fix my space car! You of all of people can’t. You’re only a girl.”
Ace saw now that Gordon was now a chauvinist as well as a fascist and a snob. “Yeah,” Ace retorted. “A girl who knows a lot better than you!”
Gordon shrugged, unwilling to take Ace’s word for it.
Ace too shrugged and said, “Fine then. We’ll just stick around here until the oxygen in this atmosphere shell of yours around this space car runs out. Otherwise I can fix this space car of yours and save a lot of time and bother in order for us to get to this space hotel of yours. It’s your choice. What’s it going to be, hey mate?”
Gordon continued to sulk despite Ace’s words. But during his sulking, Gordon began to consider Ace’s offer to help as he looked back to her leaning and maintaining her balance at the marker post where he’d left her. Seeing the options limited against him, Gordon thought that having this girl repair the space car wasn’t as bad as being ‘roasted alive’ by the dragon he called his wife.
After what seemed like a long time, Gordon snapped out of his sulk; got up and turned to Ace.
“I’ll get a spare pair of anti-gravity shoes for you then, girl,” he said quietly (surprisingly for Ace). “You’ll need to get under the space car if you’re so keen to repair it. Just wait there. I’ll get the spare pair in the back of the space car.”
Gordon opened the door to the space car and got in to fetch the spare pair of anti-gravity shoes for Ace to wear. Ace smiled and smirked at the triumph of her success of wits in getting one over Gordon. The Doctor would approve for sure. Now we’re getting somewhere, Ace thought to herself.
Ace got to work on the space car as soon as she had put on the spare part of anti-gravity shoes, given to her by Gordon. She was under the space car, fixing the cylindrical plasma inducers that were causing the trouble for the space car not to operate. She wasn’t really an expert on repairing space cars in the thirty-seventh century. But Ace had picked up a lot of things when travelling with the Doctor and visiting futuristic outer-space environments like this one she was in now. She also had the advantage (though it expelled her from school), for doing really well in O-Level chemistry (though she failed in that too) and created that powerful substance that she affectionately named as Nitro-nine. So, it helped with Ace repairing the space car for Mr Gordon Rotenhend, didn’t it?
It was fun getting her hands dirty when working underneath a space car and fixing the plasma inducers for Gordon. It wasn’t so fun to have Gordon watching her like a fierce dog as he was impatiently waiting for her to hurry up and do the job. Every time Gordon shouted to her, “Hurry up, will you!” Ace would have to skive him off and say “Stop bothering me, will you, you scum bag!”
Even Ace’s attempts to try small talk with Gordon didn’t help matters in order to pass the time and ease Gordon’s patience. When Ace asked Gordon, “So, you’ve been hotel manager at Rotenhend Hotel Sixteen for very long then?”
Gordon bellowed, “Stop talking to me, girl! Just get on with fixing my space car alright?!”
“Alright, alright,” Ace replied annoyed. “No need to be such a pushover!”
The repair process was long and hard and didn’t make life any easier between Ace and Gordon. Ace couldn’t wait to get into the space car with Gordon so that he could hopefully take her with him to the Rotenhend Hotel Sixteen and meet the Doctor there. She wondered what had become of him and whether he had arrived safely with the TARDIS being towed away on the loader back at the space-market earlier.
After what seemed like a half-hour, Ace finished the repairs to the space car underneath. She got out from underneath and called to Gordon, “There! It should be fixed! Try it now!”
Ace got to her feet, dusted herself off and walked steadily in her anti-gravity shoes towards where Gordon had taken his driving seat in the front of the space car. Gordon pressed the button to turn on the engine. The engine buzzed into life. Ace saw the warp engines glow brightly as the plasma inducers were working again.
Clapping her hands, Ace cheered. “Ace! Oh yeah! I can do anything! Ace can do anything, right?” She then turned to Gordon, “See, Rotenhend mate! I fixed your space car in the end.”
“Yes,” Gordon replied grumpily. “No thanks to you though, girl.”
He then pressed the button to close the space car doors with him inside. Ace was quick though as she ran forward and held the doors back from closing the space car shut. She stared sharply and accusingly at Gordon.
“Hey,” she cried. “Is that all the thanks I get?! After I repaired your space car you’re going to leave off without me?!”
“I told you before,” Gordon retorted bitterly. “This car is for one occupant only. It won’t take two. So if you think I’m going to take you along with me for the ride back to my space hotel, think again girl!”
“You can’t leave me here to suffocate,” Ace cried. “It’s monstrous. Inhuman!”
“Like I care,” Gordon snorted. “So you just bog off or else I’ll kick you where it hurts.”
“You just try it,” Ace replied challengingly.
But before Gordon could do anything, a siren echoed loudly in space behind them. Gordon pressed the button to open the space car doors wide open. He got up and out of the space car, pushing Ace to one side to see where the siren was coming from. Ace looked too and they both saw a group of alien space vehicles making their way towards them. There were five of them. The siren was angry and nasty, and it looked to Ace that the alien drivers inside the space vehicles were nasty-looking too like baboons.
“What are those aliens then?” Ace asked. “That siren on their cars? They must be some space police, right?”
Ace looked to see Gordon’s reaction of horror and agitation. Gordon shrank back from the space car slightly, as the sight of the nasty aliens in their space vehicles put fear on his face. He then became angry.
“No!” he bellowed angrily. “No, no, no, NO!!!! They can’t have found me! They just can’t have found me like that! That’s not fair! I had them off my tracks!”
“What are they?” Ace demanded to know. “Who are they? Are they hostile?”
“Those are the Thudboon,” Gordon told her. “They look like baboons. They’re the police force in Aohan space. And they take no prisoners!” Gordon began to panic. “They’re after me those blooming baboon Thudboons! They’re after me! Gordon Rotenhend!”
Ace realised what was happening here and she was caught in the thick of it. She looked accusingly at Gordon again. “You’re on the run, aren’t you? For stealing that ‘Good of Re-Life’ diamond hey? Is that what this is all about? Well?!”
“No, no not that,” Gordon replied. “They don’t know about the diamond.”
“Then what is it then?” Ace asked. “What else have you stolen?”
“This!” Gordon pointed to the space car. “They want this space car back! I took it from some elderly chap who was too slow to get to it when I needed to get away in a hurry.”
“You stole this space car,” Ace cried, shocked. “What kind of a jerk are you?! You got into a lot of trouble in school, did you?”
Gordon ignored Ace, as he got back inside the space car and sat in the driving seat again. Ace put her hand to the doors to prevent Gordon closing them shut once he was inside.
“Where do you think you’re going then?” Ace demanded. “Trying to get away, were you?!”
“Get inside!” Gordon insisted.
“I said ‘get inside,” Gordon bellowed. “You want to get to Rotenhend Hotel Sixteen, don’t you?!”
“Yes I do,” Ace replied. “But…”
“Well I’m letting you come in to have a lift in my space car! Now get in quick, before I change my mind and leave you here!”
Ace wondered why Gordon was now being so courteous. She thought he’d leave her behind to answer to these authorities who were coming for Gordon. But Ace wasted no time and quickly did as she was told.
Running to the other side of the space car, Ace got into the passenger seat with the door already open for her by Gordon. Ace sat inside, just as the space car doors at her end slid shut. Very soon, the space car roared to life and began its take-off from the marker post and set off back on its course to Rotehend Hotel Sixteen which Ace could see clearly in the distance ahead. The Thudboon’s space vehicles chasing after Gordon and Ace in their space car continued in their pursuit.
Ace looked back to see the Thudboon’s space vehicles on their tail. They fired warning shots at them from their space vehicles’ missile launchers. Gordon was shrieking like a chicken when the shots passed them over their heads whilst inside the space car. Gordon swerved the space car from side to side as he drove it with him and Ace inside. Ace was starting to get space-sick already.
“You idiot,” Ace cried, as she thumped Gordon on his shoulder. She couldn’t help but feel a wince of pain after hitting Gordon. She wondered why.
“Don’t hit me there,” Gordon shouted back. “I cleaned that shoulder of mine yesterday! We must get away!”
Gordon swerved from side to side again in the space car. He got on Ace’s nerves.
“Stop swerving the car like that, you dumbbell,” Ace shouted. “That isn’t going to help us dodge those missiles. They can easily hit us, get it?”
“We must get away from those horrible smelly Thudboons,” Gordon cried incredulously. “They smell like the butt of four hundred hyenas!”
“We must get to Rotenhend Hotel Sixteen safe and sound,” cried Ace, “before the Thudboons catch us up!”
“What do you think I’m trying to do?” Gordon complained to her.
Suddenly the space car computer spoke out loud in its dull, uninspired voice. A warning alarm blared from the instrument panels. Gordon recognised the warning all too well.
“Heavy weight detected,” the computer declared. “Please stop the vehicle to remove the weight.”
The computer repeated the message over and over and it got on Gordon’s nerves. He thumped the instrument panels with his fists in anger repeatedly. Ace pulled him back.
“Don’t do that, you nitwit,” Ace told him.
“Me, the nitwit?!” Gordon bellowed. “You’re the nitwit! You see, what you’ve done now?! I told you this space car wouldn’t take two people. It’ll slow our journey to get to the space hotel. Now we’ll get caught by those Thudboons!”
“Serves you right,” Ace snapped back at him. “Thief,” she added.
But then Ace thought about it, as she realised that if she was found with Gordon in the space car that she’d be accused of being his accomplice in the theft. And not just of the space car itself…but also of the ‘Good of Re-Life’ diamond which he had stolen. Ace wished that she’d stayed back where she was at the passing place marker post. At least she would be able to prove she had no part in the theft to the Thudboons when they found her.
Ace groaned, annoyed. “Oh I wish I could use one of my Nitro-nine canisters in my rucksack to scare those Thudboon aliens off,” she declared. “It’ll put them off their pursuit of us. But we can’t do that without losing the aliens and suffocating in the vacuum of space with the car doors open.”
Gordon woke up to hear Ace make this announcement.
“What’s that, you said?” he demanded to know. “Nitro what?”
“Nitro-nine,” Ace told him. “Very powerful and highly dangerous explosives made by me. And only I can use them. They’ll make one nasty mess anywhere you go if you want to blow something up which I always enjoy doing.”
Gordon fumed and bellowed, “You have highly powerful, dangerous explosives and you didn’t tell me!”
“Oy!” Ace cried. “It’s not like we can use them now, is it? Not without killing ourselves.”
“These explosives of yours,” Gordon demanded. “Where are they?! WHERE ARE THEY?!”
“They’re here,” Ace replied. “In my rucksack, see?!”
Ace took her rucksack off the floor of the space car and opened it up to show Gordon the deodorant canister containers of Nitro-nine explosive inside. There were quite a few of them in Ace’s rucksack.
Gordon looked inside the rucksack to see for himself. He eventually looked up at Ace. “You said these explosives will make a very nasty mess.”
“Yeah, of course they will,” Ace replied. “Anywhere and anytime you like.”
“Right,” Gordon declared. “That’s decided!”
Gordon then took Ace’s rucksack and placed them in an open-air compartment. He stuffed the rucksack inside. Ace struggled with Gordon to get the rucksack back from him.
“Hey!” Ace protested. “Give me my rucksack back! What’re you doing?!”
But Gordon had pressed a button and closed the compartment with the rucksack inside.
“Garbage chute,” Gordon told Ace. “Every space car like this has one.” He then showed Ace where the next button he was going to press was. “I press this button and the garbage chute will send out your rucksack into space. Your explosives can then explode into space and blow up the Thudboon vehicles chasing after us!”
“No,” Ace protested again. “Don’t press that button!”
“And why not?!”
But before Ace could tell him, Gordon had already pressed the button. The rucksack was sent off into space by the garbage chute. Ace thumped her fist on the instrument panel and banged her head on it, angry and annoyed before she spoke again.
Ace gritted her teeth, “Because I haven’t set the charges of my Nitro-nine! You need to set them off before they can explode.”
Gordon became speechless now. He realised what he’d done. He’d never felt more stupid in his life. “Oh!” was all he could he say. He then added, “Oops!”
“You muppet!” Ace accused him loudly. “You dumb-brain! Can’t you use your head?!”
“Well how was I supposed to know,” Gordon protested in response. “Why didn’t you tell me you half-wit?! Why didn’t you tell me?! You blame me for this, you know!”
Ace hit her head on the instrument panels again, this time more gently. She started to think. The missiles fired by the Thudboons in their vehicles still flew over their heads. Thankfully they missed Gordon and Ace every time. Ace saw they were getting closer to it now. If only there was some way to speed things up.
Then Ace had it. She had the answer. It had been sitting with her in the space car all this time. She turned to Gordon.
“Mr Rotenhend,” she demanded. “Mr Rotenhend, give that diamond you stole from the space-market. Give it to me now, quickly!”
“What?!” Gordon bellowed. “After all this time, you still talk about diamonds…”
“You listen to me, you jerk,” Ace shouted angrily at him. “You want to live, don’t you?! Well you listen to what I say. That diamond could save your life if I used it. Now give it to me or else I’ll have to search for it myself.”
“You wouldn’t dare,” Gordon retorted.
“Watch me,” Ace replied and she began, not too gently, to rummage through Gordon’s clothes to search for the diamond. Gordon squeaked and howled as Ace searched him.
“Get off! GET OFF!” Gordon bellowed out loud. “Get your dirty hands off my personal belongings. I’ve spruced myself pretty well for this day.”
Ace searched in the pockets of Gordon’s jacket as he sat there in the driver’s seat. It was a struggle to try and keep Gordon still as she searched him. She then tried Gordon’s trouser pockets next.
Eventually, Ace managed to feel what she thought was a diamond inside Gordon’s left-hand trouser pocket. She rummaged inside Gordon’s left-hand trouser pocket to take it out. She held it in her hand to see. It was the diamond. Thank goodness, she thought. She at last had the ‘Good of Re-Life’ diamond in her hand that the Doctor had sent her to get.
Gordon wasn’t willing to let Ace take it from him so easily. He reached out for it in her hand.
“Give me back that diamond!” Gordon demanded. “It’s for my wife! Give it back, I say!”
But Ace shoved Gordon away, still keeping the diamond in her hand.
“You try and pinch this back from me and you’ll regret it, sunshine,” Ace told him.
She then held the diamond firmly in her hands, wondering what she should do next. She didn’t stop to think about what this diamond could do and what powers it had as the Doctor had failed to tell her when she asked about it at the time. Typical. Always kept in the dark as ever by the Doctor, she thought.
A Thudboon missile nearly hit the portside of the space car, giving a shudder to Ace and Gordon inside. Gordon panicked as he squirmed uncontrollably.
“Well,” he cried out loud. “What happens now?! What are you going to do, girl? Now that you’ve got that diamond in your hand! WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?!”
“I don’t know! Stop shouting at me,” Ace told him, as she held the diamond in her hands. She groaned and almost began to sob. “Oh I wish I could go back to where it all started. To how I got into this mess!”
Suddenly, and without warning, Ace disappeared.
Gordon saw this with shock if not with surprise. He blinked a number of times to make sure he wasn’t seeing things. He wasn’t. Ace had vanished before his eyes. He was the only one left inside the space car. And what’s worse, Gordon thought to himself, is that she took that beautiful diamond with her as well. And he took a lot of time and effort to get that diamond from the jewellers so that he could give it to his wife for their wedding anniversary. What could he do now?!
“Where’s she gone?!” Gordon demanded to know, out loud. “Where has that girl got to?!”
He pondered on this for a while, before realising that the Thudboons were gaining on him. He’d never felt more afraid in all his life.
Ace felt so strange. She wondered if she saw swimming through the air or having such a vivid waking dream. As soon as she had touched the diamond in her hands, she had this strange sensation as though she was connected to it. Then, with one thought, with one word uttered from her lips, her wish had been granted. She was re-living her life.
That’s exactly what the ‘Good of Re-Life’ diamond is all about then, Ace thought whilst she was swimming or walking through the air. I’m ‘re-living’ everything that’s ever happened to me since I travelled with the Doctor.
When she said ‘Oh I wish I could go back to where it all started; to how I got into this mess’, she was thinking really about how she and the Doctor ended up in the space-market in Aohan space. But the diamond took her words literally as when she was thinking about the Doctor, it assumed she meant to when it all started with her first meeting with the Doctor.
Ace saw herself back on Iceworld where she had been ‘spirited’ away by her botched chemistry experiment that she was conducting back in her home in Perivale. She was re-living everything she did being a waitress at that dump of a café she had worked at on Iceworld. She re-lived interacting with the Doctor as well as meeting him for the first time. She also interacted with Mel who travelled with the Doctor at that time as well as Sabalom Glitz who was on Iceworld already.
Pretty soon, it dawned upon Ace that she was fast-forwarding through her life every time she thought about the adventures she had had with the Doctor since joining him in the TARDIS for a ‘quick’ turnaround of the galaxy. This happened every minute she spent keeping in contact with the diamond in her hands. She re-lived her first encounter with the Daleks in Shoreditch, London in nineteen sixty-three; facing the Cybermen in nineteen eighty-eight; seeing the Psychic Circus; meeting Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart; Fenric; the Cheetah people; the Ice Warriors; Raine; the Metatraxi; the Fearmonger; Daleks again; Nazis at Colditz castle. Everything that Ace had been through with the Doctor was re-lived before her eyes, including her adventures with Hex whom she dearly missed having around in the TARDIS.
Once she realised what was happening in her experiences of re-living her life and fast-forwarding to certain travels she had had with the Doctor; Ace believed she had got the hang of how to use the ‘Good of Re-Life’ diamond. She knew what she had to do. At least she hoped she had. Please, Ace prayed inwardly. Please, let me be right about this.
With one thought, Ace willed herself to be back to where she was in the space-car with Gordon before he threw out her rucksack containing the Nitro-nine explosives inside. The diamond granted her wish.
Ace found herself sitting back in the passenger’s seat beside Gordon. She repulsed at the superior; craggy; dismissive look Gordon had when she sat next to him. It was very strange for Ace, as whilst she connected to the diamond, no words were spoken out from Gordon’s mouth when he talked. It was a relief really and a nice change to have some peace and quiet for Ace.
Seeing the rucksack between her legs as she sat in the space car, Ace knew what she had in time to do. It was going to be tricky and she didn’t want to make any mistakes. She felt she had to be in contact with the diamond whilst she did this.
Taking one of her hands off the diamond, but still holding it in the other hand, she reached for the rucksack and unzipped it to reveal the canisters of Nitro-nine explosive inside. There were three canisters inside the rucksack. Ace took out two canisters from the rucksack, leaving one inside. Ace had meant it when she said she’d used only one canister as she knew that three would mean big trouble and kill not only just the Thudboon in their vehicles but also her and Gordon too. She wanted to scare the Thudboon off, and one canister of Nitro-nine was enough compared to three.
Knowing how to set the Nitro-nine explosive off, she turned the screw of the canister inside the rucksack to prime it ready. She knew there would be a twelve second delay for the fuse before the canister exploded. At least she hoped it was twelve seconds. She would have to take her chances and hope for the best.
After setting the Nitro-nine canister to explode, Ace waited until Gordon had grabbed her rucksack as before and placed it into the garbage chute to set it out into space. Seeing herself re-live her actions that led to her snatching the diamond from Gordon from his left-trouser pocket, Ace waited a few seconds for the final moment. Seeing Gordon’s surprise and shock on his face, Ace guessed that he must be wondering where she’d got to when she disappeared so suddenly before his eyes. With that, Ace dropped the diamond on her lap…
…and was back in the space-car with Gordon in real-time. Gordon staggered back, once he saw Ace return after her sudden disappearance. He looked at her accusingly.
“Just a minute, just a minute,” he bellowed loudly. “What’s going on here? You weren’t here a second ago. Where did you go to, hey?”
Ace ignored Gordon’s question as something else was troubling her.
“The Nitro-nine canister,” she cried. “Where’s the rucksack?!”
Ace looked out of the space car window to see the rucksack containing the one Nitro-nine canister a fair distance away in space. It was between her and Gordon and the Thudboon’s space vehicles pursuing them.
Gordon rolled his eyes. “What are you getting so worked up about your rucksack for?! Nothing’s going to happen is there, hey?!”
To his surprise, Ace returned from looking from the window and pushed Gordon against the control panels of the space car.
“Get down!” Ace shouted.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Gordon began to complain.
“I said ‘get down’, you dumb-bell!”
Ace and Gordon got down, as that moment an explosion occurred in space. They didn’t see the explosion once they’d ducked down and hid their faces on the control panels. But they felt the impact of the explosion’s shockwave, as the space car shuddered with Ace and Gordon inside. The shuddering lasted for quite a while in seconds. Gordon couldn’t help feeling queasy whilst the impact of the explosion’s shockwave hit them in the space car.
“I’m going to be sick,” Gordon declared.
“No,” Ace insisted. “Don’t you dare?! DON’T!”
It was too late, as Gordon opened his mouth to vomit all over his side of the control panel to the right. Ace repulsed at the sight she saw.
But to her surprise, Ace saw that nothing came out of Gordon’s mouth when he vomited. It was just the action he took to being sick that happened. Nothing else after that. The control panels on Gordon’s side were clean. Not even a dribble of salvia touched the control panel. Ace thought this very odd indeed.
“What?,” she cried disbelievingly. “You weren’t sick at all then, Mr Rotenhend?!” Ace sighed with relief. “That’s good then. It saves you removing the sick off the control panel with a hygiene bag and sending it off out into space with the garbage chute thing of yours.”
“This hasn’t been a good day for me,” Gordon said gloomily.
Ace ignored Gordon’s gloomy mood, as she looked out into space again through the space car windows. She could see that her Nitro-nine explosion had caused some of the Thudboons’ space vehicles to either be heavily damaged or be adrift in space. There were still five of them. That was a relief for Ace. She knew the Doctor wouldn’t approve of her blowing up vehicles containing weird aliens she’d never even met before and ones she didn’t know were hostile or not. Gordon seemed to imply it, but Ace came to believe that he wasn’t a reliable witness.
She then looked back to the ‘Good of Re-Life’ diamond in her hands and held it gratified that it did what she wanted it to do. Ace quickly slipped the diamond into her ACE jacket, knowing that she shouldn’t think of anything in her head in order to give the ‘Good of Re-Life’ diamond encouragement. She also didn’t want Gordon to get his hands on the diamond after she’d just managed to get it from him so successfully.
Ace was right. As soon as she’d slipped the diamond into her jacket, Gordon eyed her immediately and tried to snatch it back from her.
“Give me back my diamond,” Gordon insisted.
Ace smacked Gordon’s hand off with hers. He reacted in pain.
“Keep your hands to yourself, mate,” Ace bit back. “Be grateful that I saved your life with that diamond. I was able to re-live my life and unscrew one canister of Nitro-nine in the rucksack and take these two out of it.” She showed Gordon the two remaining canisters on the floor before continuing. “It was able to explode in space and send those Thudboon ships adrift in space and to slow them down from catching us up. I’m glad I’ve still got these two Nitro-nine canisters left. But I’ll need a new rucksack, won’t I? I was so used to that rucksack of mine. It’ll be very tricky to get a new one.”
“I’m not interested in your rucksack,” Gordon retorted bitterly, “or how you to managed to use that diamond to get us out of this mess!”
“Fine, be that way,” Ace scoffed. “Don’t say ‘thanks for saving my life to me’ if you don’t want to.”
Gordon ignored Ace’s scoffs, unbothered by how she regarded him being ungrateful to her. “I just want to get back to my space hotel and see my wife!” he said. “Is that too much to ask?!”
“We’ll get there alright,” Ace told him. “And this time I’m driving!”
Ace assumed control of the space car as she pressed buttons on the control panel in an instant.
“How dare you take control of my space car,” Gordon protested. “It’s my space hotel we’re going to, you know!”
“This isn’t your space car though,” Ace challenged back at him. “You stole it remember? Besides I know where we’re going! And I’ve driven one of these before!”
“But we won’t get there in time,” Gordon protested. “Remember it’s a single occupancy vehicle we’re in. It won’t take two people.”
“It’ll take a while for those Thudboon aliens to catch us up, remember?” Ace reminded Gordon. “Besides the computer said ‘heavy weight’. I suppose it meant the Nitro-nine canisters I was carrying in my rucksack. Now that one canister in the rucksack is gone and that there are only two left; it’ll lessen the weight won’t it?”
Gordon shrugged, ignoring Ace’s theories.
“Besides I know I’m not heavy, since everybody calls me ‘small’,” Ace said before she got cheeky. “But I do know someone who is and I’d be very happy to get rid of them.”
Gordon didn’t get Ace’s remark at first. But when he thought about it, he fumed and puffed like he was a goldfish inside a bowl. He tried but couldn’t get the words out in his protest at Ace. But whatever Gordon had in mind to say, it was forgotten immediately as Ace drove the space car forwards on its way to Rotenhend Hotel Sixteen. Ace saw that it was not so far away now and she thought they’ll be there in at least ten minutes.
An hour later, Ace and Gordon arrived at Rotenhend Hotel Sixteen. To Ace, the hotel looked like a cube with a large cylinder in the centre. They made for the space car park that was situated on the side and built between the fiftieth and fifty-first floor of the one hundred-floored space hotel. Ace saw how busy it was with space cars; spaceships and freighters zooming in and out to and from the space hotel. She found it surprising considering the lack of good manners that she had witnessed from the space hotel’s manager and owner.
Ace saw where to land in the space car park at the space hotel. She had to slow to impulse speed with the space car and carefully make to land. She wasn’t used to driving space cars all the time, and up until now she had this surge of confidence inside her. If she made one fatal mistake, she could end up killing herself as well as Gordon too inside the vehicle. She breathed deep, as she prepared for the space car to descend.
“What do you think you’re doing,” Gordon protested angrily. “Hurry it up! You see the space car park there! Just land!”
“Don’t bully me,” Ace told Gordon off. “I need to do this right, okay?! Can’t rush into these sorts of things, you know?!”
“Oh for goodness sake,” Gordon sighed, very annoyed. “Give it here, will you?!”
“No,” Ace shouted.
But it was too late. Gordon had pressed buttons on the control panel where Ace was and the space car jolted forwards. It made for the landing ramp of the space car park. The space car crashed with Ace and Gordon inside, juddering as they went. It zoomed forwards past many other space cars parked alongside them. They were making for the wall up ahead.
Gordon sat back in his driving seat, realising the mistake he’d made. Ace thumped Gordon on the shoulder.
“You idiot,” she said to him. “Now we’re going to crash into that wall up there! Happy now, are you?!”
“What are we going to do?!” Gordon panicked abrasively. “WHAT ARE WE FLIPPING GOING TO DO NOW?!”
“Jump out of the car, you dumbbell,” Ace shouted. “Jump out now!”
Before Gordon could protest, Ace had already pressed the button and the space car doors slid open on her side. She jumped out of the vehicle, crying out as she went. Hesitating for a moment, Gordon quickly realised and pressed the buttons to open the space car doors on his side too. He jumped out of the space car too and screamed in a panic as he went.
Once out of the vehicle, Ace saw the space car charging forward towards the wall up against the space hotel where the space car park was situated. Very soon, the space car hit the wall and crashed into it through and through. An explosion went off, before the space car settled in half-way through the wall and presumably Ace thought into the space hotel itself.
Ace sighed with relief, glad that she was out of that mess altogether when it happened. She was worried though, as she wondered how many people were hurt or injured from the impact of the crash through the wall. She could hear people’s screams and shouts of concern as some in the space car park gathered to see the crashed vehicle inside the wall through the space hotel.
What Ace didn’t expect to see, was Gordon getting up to his feet and running towards where the space car was, buried in the damaged wall against the space hotel’s exterior. What else she didn’t expect to see, was Gordon pointing at the space car accusingly and fuming like mad as he did so.
“Right,” he shouted furiously to the space car. “That’s it! This is the last straw! You’ve tried my patience and this is where you’ve reached your limit! You get it, mate?! I’m going to teach you a lesson, do you hear?! That’s right! I’m going to give you a darn good thrashing!”
Ace then saw Gordon disappear, before he returned with a metal pole in his hand. He then began to thrash his space car with the pole in his hand, angrily cursing it as he did so. A few alarms went off in the car as Gordon hit it with the metal pole. This included engine failures; oil leak warnings and security protocols embedded within the car’s circuitry. But Gordon didn’t care, as he was really letting it rip with his anger and fury on the space car as he hit it again and again with the metal pole in his hand.
Seeing this absurd display of violence before her, Ace slowly got up to her feet and dusted herself off from the impact of getting out of the space car just in time. Regaining her strength and determination, Ace made her way towards Gordon who continually thrashed the space car that was half-way through the wall and into the space hotel itself.
Gordon was really enjoying letting out his anger on the space car as he thrashed it with his metal pole. He kept on cursing it profusely and didn’t even notice Ace coming up behind him as he did so. Ace tapped him on the shoulder. Gordon did a reflex action and nearly hit Ace with the metal pole in his hand, before she held him back and prevented him from doing so.
“Stop doing that,” Ace told Gordon sharply. “That won’t do you any good, you know!”
“I don’t care,” Gordon grunted bitterly. “This space car has ruined my life! It’s such a vicious pig! I’m going to smash it into pieces! Like so!”
Gordon kept on at it with smashing and thrashing the space car with his metal pole. Ace backed away from him, astonished and frustrated by his relentless absurdity.
“I’ve never seen such a stupid scumbag in all my life!” Ace declared out loud. “Don’t you ever stop to think, you moron!”
“He doesn’t understand Ace,” a familiar voice spoke behind her. “He can never understand. His mind is focused on one thing at a time. A case of long-term obsession disorder.”
Ace turned round to see the Doctor standing behind her. He smiled pleased to see her, as he doffed his panama hat to her.
“Doctor,” Ace cheered delightedly. “There you are!”
She ran over to him, leaving Gordon to smashing the space car to pieces. Ace met up with the Doctor and he received her in an embrace by placing a comforting arm around her shoulder.
“Hello Ace,” the Doctor said cheeringly. “I’m so glad you made it safe and sound.”
“Same to you too, Professor,” Ace replied, grinning brightly at him. “Is the TARDIS safe?”
“Yes Ace,” the Doctor replied reassuringly. “The TARDIS is safe. I explained the circumstances to a member of staff at the hotel and she understood and apologised for any inconvenience caused.”
“Well, that makes a change,” Ace remarked. “A hotel staff member being nice to you. It’s a good thing this upstart of a hotel manager doesn’t pass on his bad manners to anyone at his so-called space hotel.”
They saw that Gordon had had enough of smashing the space-car to pieces, as he’d let his anger out on it to a point and dropped the metal pole to the floor. All Gordon did now was huff and puff, feeling exhausted from letting his anger out on the space car.
“I’m afraid his days of being a hotel manager are numbered now, Ace,” the Doctor told her.
Ace looked puzzled, “What do you mean?”
“Look, Ace,” the Doctor pointed in the distance in outer space. “The Thudboon forces are arriving.”
Ace looked and saw. Sure enough, Thudboon space vehicles arrived on the landing ramp of the space car park at Rotenhend Hotel Sixteen. Gordon saw the space vehicles arrive too. Very soon, the Thudboon aliens stepped out of their vehicles and made their way towards Gordon. Ace saw now that they did look like baboons when they stepped out from their vehicles.
Gordon stood by the damaged space car buried in the wall of the space hotel. Whether the Thudboon police officers noticed the space car had crashed into the space hotel as they approached Gordon, they did not regard it highly as expected. Gordon didn’t seem bothered by the Thudboon’s approach, as he appeared confident and smiled graciously in a gesture of welcome to them.
“Good to see you, officers of the Thudboon,” Gordon greeted cheeringly. “Welcome to Rotenhend Hotel Sixteen. As you can see my hotel has been damaged by a thug who drove his space car into the wall. I’m afraid he managed to escape…”
But the Thudboon weren’t listening to Gordon. One of the Thudboon took out a mid-length pole and struck it at Gordon’s neck. Gordon gasped once struck in the neck, as the Thudboon chief spoke severely to him. Ace could hear the deep tones of the Thudboon’s chief’s voice as he spoke.
“You are Gordon Rotenhend, are you not?!” the Thudboon demanded.
“Err…” Gordon replied hesitantly. “Yes, yes, I am.”
The Thudboon chief spoke again, “You are under arrest for the theft of the Mayor of Aohan’s space car. You have the right to remain silent…”
“The Mayor of Aohan’s space car?!” Gordon sounded surprised as he interrupted. “That space car belongs to the Mayor of Aohan?! I didn’t know that! Why didn’t anyone tell me that before…” He stopped mid-sentence.
But the Thudboon chief had sussed Gordon out already. “You admit you stole the diamond then, do you?”
“I…” Gordon stammered. “I said nothing of the kind.”
“But he did though,” Ace confirmed. The Thudboon turned towards her as she continued. “I heard him admit it in the space car when I was with him. I tried to get a lift from him and he refused.”
Gordon’s face was purple now. “You cheeky little minx,” he shouted. “How dare you lie like that about the greatest hotel manager in all of Rotenhend Hotel history…”
“I should advise you not to call my young friend a liar, sir,” the Doctor interrupted, scorning Gordon bitterly. “Ace is never known to be a liar. At least I hope not. She’s always been a good girl in my experience.”
“And he stole the ‘Good of Re-Life’ diamond from the jewellers back at the space-market,” Ace went on. “It belonged to the Doctor. I was meant to collect it. But the man at the jewellers told me who stole it and he said it was Mr Rotenhend!”
“Lies,” Gordon crowed out loud. “All lies this is!”
“I have the diamond here with me,” Ace insisted. “Look!”
She took the ‘Good of Re-Life’ diamond out of her jacket pocket to show it to the Doctor as well as the Thudboon aliens. The Doctor took the diamond from Ace and held it up high for all to see.
“Thank you, Ace,” the Doctor said delightedly. “I’m sorry you had to go to great pains to get it back from this criminal.” He then glared at Gordon disapprovingly. “You stole this diamond when it belonged to me? What kind of a man are you?”
“A desperate one,” Gordon retorted. “I worry about life, you know. I have a wife who can easily kill me if I don’t give her a present for her wedding anniversary. A diamond was the best thing. I saw that one and took it!”
“But it didn’t belong to you,” the Doctor retorted. “Can you seriously justify the diamond belongs to you when you have no claim over it. Have you no consideration for other people and their property?”
“I don’t care about other people, you silly little man,” Gordon growled dismissively. “What have other people ever done for me?! They’re a nuisance in my life. And if someone says that diamond belongs to someone, then tough luck. I have as much right as anyone else has to have that diamond for myself!”
“You scumbag,” Ace hissed. “You petty; old…”
The Doctor stopped Ace and calmed her down, as he addressed Gordon again. He held the diamond out to him. “So, you’d do anything to get this diamond back would you? This ‘Good of Re-Life’ diamond? Even as it’s held high in my hand like this?”
“Yes,” Gordon bellowed as he ran forward and took the diamond out of the Doctor’s hand.
Ace was gobsmacked. “Doctor! He’s just snatched that diamond off you again! Of all the nerve…”
But Ace noticed the Doctor wasn’t bothered by Gordon’s snatching the diamond from him. Gordon turned back to see the Thudboons advance on him.
“Don’t let him get away,” the Thudboon chief announced. Then he spoke to Gordon, “Stay where you are, Gordon Rotenhend. You’re under arrest!”
“Oh no, you don’t,” Gordon retorted bitterly. “You can’t catch me with this in my hand. I can do absolutely anything. If that girl can use the diamond for herself, then I can too!”
Ace realised what Gordon was on about. She looked despairingly at the Doctor. “Oh Professor, I’m so sorry. I used the diamond to help us escape from a sticky situation. Now that scumbag’s…”
“It’s alright, Ace,” the Doctor reassured her. “It’s alright. Everything’s under control.”
They all watched as Gordon held the diamond in both his hands, grinning delightedly at what he hoped was his next move.
“This should be easy,” he said. “I think I know how this works.” He then said out loud, “I wish to go back to where all this started. Take me back now, diamond! Take me back now!”
Suddenly, without warning, Gordon’s chest exploded. Everybody staggered in shock at this. Gordon, still clutching the diamond in his hands, looked down to see the damaged circuitry inside his chest. He couldn’t believe it. He didn’t understand it. He looked up to the Doctor and Ace; then to the Thudboon police; then back to his chest. He noticed how gobsmacked Ace and the Thudboon police were. But the Doctor wasn’t.
“What’s…?” Gordon started, stuttering strangely with an electronic sound as he spoke. “What is…what is…what is happening…to…to me?”
“Sorry Mr Rotenhend,” the Doctor began. “But the ‘Good of Re-Life’ diamond doesn’t work on androids. It works for organic living species like humans and the Thudboon here. It can’t work for you. Androids aren’t organic.”
“But…but…but…” Gordon stuttered, “I am not an android…I am not an android…I am not an android…”
“Oh but I’m afraid you are,” the Doctor told Gordon sadly. “You are very much indeed an android. And the ‘Good of Re-Life’ diamond short-circuited you as soon as you used it. It didn’t recognise your technology and couldn’t connect to you as a real person who has real life experiences. So sorry, Mr Rotehend. So sorry, indeed.”
The Doctor took the diamond from Gordon that was still clutched in his hand. Taking it, he pocketed the diamond in his jacket pocket. He doffed his panama hat at Gordon, who was dazed and confused.
Gordon, aghast by what he turned out to be, didn’t notice the Thudboon aliens led by the chief coming up behind him. They grabbed his arms and dragged him away with them to the space vehicle which was their police car.
“You are to be taken into custody,” the Thudboon chief told Gordon. “Please do not try to resist arrest. It’ll only prove as more evidence of your folly in a court of Thudboon law.”
Even as Gordon was dragged away, he couldn’t stop complaining out loud.,
“Alright…alright…” he stuttered angrily. “No need…no need…to be so…to be so…pushy…pushy…”
Gordon found himself forced into the Thudboon’s police car.
“My wife,” he then said. “What…a…bout…my…wife. And…our…wed…ding…”
But Gordon’s words were cut off, with the door slammed shut on him when he was inside the Thudboon’s space vehicle.
The Thudboon chief turned back to address the Doctor and Ace. “We appreciate your cooperation in this matter, Mr Doctor and Miss Ace. Your statements will be required. We request you remain at Rotenhend Hotel Sixteen to give your statements or else we will hunt you down should you resist co-operating.”
“Thank you, chief,” the Doctor said, doffing his hat to the Thudboon. “We shall do as you have requested.”
The Thudboon chief grunted, before going back into his police car with Gordon sitting in the back. Very soon, Ace and the Doctor watched the Thudboon police take off in their space vehicles and leave the space hotel’s car park behind them. Their engines roared loudly as they zoomed off into space.
Once they’d gone, the Doctor turned back to Ace, feeling very pleased with himself. “Well, Ace. That went well, didn’t it?”
Ace smirked, as the Doctor tapped her nose. They then went off inside the space hotel to enjoy a cup of tea and biscuits.
In the lounge area of Rotehend Hotel Sixteen, on Level Two, the Doctor and Ace had tea and biscuits given to them by the waiter. Ace welcomed the biscuits. She felt she hadn’t eaten for ages and sitting in the lounge area was better compared with the cramped environment she had to share with Gordon Rotenhend.
The Doctor held the amber-coloured ‘Good of Re-Life’ diamond in his hand, examining it carefully to make sure that it wasn’t dented or damaged in any way after exploding Gordon’s circuitry. Thankfully it wasn’t and the Doctor was satisfied.
Ace then asked him, “We’re not really going to stick around to give statements to those Thudboons, are we Professor?”
“No, of course not,” the Doctor replied reassuringly. “We’ll just finish our tea and biscuits and make our way back to the TARDIS.” He then lowered his voice to Ace to make sure they weren’t overheard. “Luckily the Thudboon police don’t know where I have parked the TARDIS.”
Ace was relieved that they didn’t have to stick around, although she was looking forward to staying at a nice hotel like the Rotenhend Number Sixteen. But there’ll be other occasions, she supposed.
“So come on then,” Ace prompted the Doctor. “Why is that diamond so special? And how did it gave me the chance to re-live my life when I wanted to in that space car with Rotenhend?”
The Doctor smiled an all-too-knowing smile. “Because,” he explained, “it comes from Time Lord society, Ace!”
Ace was astounded, “It’s from Gallifrey!” she exclaimed a little too loudly for the Doctor’s liking. He had to hush her.
“One of the artefacts from the Panopticon Archive,” the Doctor said quietly to Ace. “It was taken out of the archive by me to be hidden away from some invasion force that came to Gallifrey.”
“Invasion force,” Ace enquired.
“Hmm,” the Doctor mused. “Gallifrey doesn’t often get invaded. But this was a very special case. I was president of the Time Lords when it happened.”
“You a president?!” Ace exclaimed disbelievingly.
“Yes, yes,” the Doctor said, “another long story for another time. Anyway, I hid the diamond away in some remote planet before I needed to find it again. I left it for too long and I felt the time had come for me to take it back to Gallifrey.”
“So you set yourself a reminder,” Ace suggested. “An alarm clock to remind you to find the diamond.”
“Yes,” confirmed the Doctor. “So I asked Mr Erdna of Erdna’s Place at the space-market (a friend I’ve known for a long time) to pick up the diamond for me to collect. He went off to this remote planet to pick it up and took the diamond back to his jewellery shop at the space-market. He sent me a message to tell me the diamond was ready for me to collect.”
“And that’s why you sent me!” finished Ace. “To act on your behalf and collect the diamond.”
“Exactly,” the Doctor replied. “Sorry I put you through all that trouble with collecting the diamond. But I had to cover my tracks to make sure I wasn’t followed. To make sure no-one (an enemy of mine) was trying to catch me and take the diamond for him…or her.”
“No worries, Professor,” Ace assured him. “I’m glad to have helped you out. And that I got the diamond for you. I wish I hadn’t met Gordon Rotenhend though.”
“Yes,” the Doctor mused. “That was rather unfortunate. But still, the most obnoxious people are often the best allies or pawns.”
“Yeah well he was beyond obnoxious,” Ace told the Doctor. “I don’t even know what to call him. Even though I know he was an android.” Ace thought more about Gordon Rotenhend before asking, “Did you know who he was, Professor? Before I met him?”
“I’m afraid I did, Ace,” the Doctor replied. “I’ve had the displeasure of encountering Gordon Rotenhend a number of times in his travels in time and space.”
“Was he always so rude and priggish,” Ace asked.
“Most of the time,” the Doctor replied. “The Gordon Rotenhend you met today was an android duplicate based on the original human that instigated the branching of space hotels under his name. Gordon Rotenhend had a troubled past…and an even more troubled future. Four hundred hotels exist in his name with four hundred android duplicates of himself running each hotel in turn.”
“Four hundred!” exclaimed Ace.
“Yes,” the Doctor said sadly. “Who knows what happened to the original Gordon Rotenhend. He’s probably very elderly now. More elderly than the Mayor of Aohan is.”
“Well I hope I’ll never see another one of those android duplicates of Rotenhend again,” said Ace. “One Rotenhend was enough for me.
“Yes,” the Doctor mused. “But you never can tell, Ace. Life is full of surprises.”
Ace shrugged. “Yeah, I suppose so.”
A moment of silence ensued between them. Ace then looked up at the Doctor and smiled.
“Thanks for putting your trust in me, Professor,” Ace said.
The Doctor eyed Ace warmly. “I always do, Ace,” he told her. “Thank you for collecting the diamond for me.”
“No worries,” Ace replied. “Any time.”
The Doctor and Ace soon finished their tea and biscuits. After sitting for a while, they got up and made their way back to the TARDIS. No one was following them.
“Come along, Ace,” the Doctor declared. “Let’s see where we go to next.”
‘Ace’ originally created by Ian Briggs
‘Gordon Rotenhend’ created by Tim Bradley
© Tim Bradley, 2016