Behind the blasted piece of wood, came a very loud sound: the kind of sound that would occur if a large clump of noise was rolled into a ball, and smashed into another ball of noise. Whereupon, both balls of noise would promptly explode. Basically… it was very very loud.
‘What was that!’ screamed Madison.
The Doctor sprang upwards and began pulling piles of books of the nearby bookshelf. ‘Uh…’ he said, ‘well, it sounded to me like a very loud sound.’
‘It was an explosion!’ the Doctor shouted at her, ‘I understand you’re getting a lot of them at the moment!’
‘Well… yes! We’re at war! But, what exploded?!’
The Doctor shook his head and began to open books at random, flickering through the thick, glossy pages.
Fyffe pulled herself upwards and drifted towards a nearby window that was framed with disfigured and twisted lumps of glass. As she stared out of it, she said; ‘that building next door, the one that was already on fire… it looks like a factory. It’s been hit again.’ Unseen by the other two, she narrowed her eyes at the burning building and glowered, ‘they must be trying to hit any kind of big building, anything that could be an easy target.’
Wrenching her eyes away from the frantic Doctor, Madison gave a concerned look at the back of Fyffe’s head. It was the first thing that the girl had said that hadn’t sounded insane and, like the Doctor had done, she realized that there was more depth to Fyffe than she had previously thought. She briefly wondered why the girl had a sudden hardness to her voice as she spoke about them…
From behind, there came a loud thump as the Doctor snapped shut a large book and threw it away over his shoulder, muttering to himself.
‘Hey!’ said Madison.
‘Listen, Madison,’ the Doctor said rapidly, ‘I need to find out about this place, this planet, this city, other cities… you must have books with that kind of stuff, surely?’
Madison nodded, ‘well, yeah I suppose. I don’t know where they are though.’
The Doctor shot her a pained expression. ‘Okay… fine. Just grab some books and get searching then!’
He began racing around in front of Madison with such energy, that Madison was sure he was going to have a heart-attack. She rubbed her eyes and, once again, tried to make sense of what had just happened. From somewhere behind her, a leather bound journal came happily wizzing over hear head and was smoothly caught by the Doctor. He opened it at random, ran his finger over the page and closed the book with a thwack.
‘Nope,’ he said, ‘no good,’ and he lobbed the book back through the air. Madison spun around and saw Fyffe catch the book with the same fluidity and ease as the Doctor. Both had an incessant look of determination about their faces and she wondered again if they weren’t somehow related. It dawned on her that this strange pair was still in her house, and after all the confusion they had caused, they were now littering her floor with piles of books and papers. She had spent hours filing them…!
As though the world was trying to push Madison’s patience to the limit, a large chunk of her ceiling abruptly decided to collapse onto the floor. Dusts as debris were suddenly thrown into the air and engulfed the room in a cloud of white powder. After dropping his book in surprise, the Doctor gritted his teeth and snarled at the fresh pile of rubble before glaring up through the hole in the ceiling.
'Stop trying to drop things on me!’ he shouted in the general direction of the sky.
Coming to an abrupt decision, and once again allowing her temper to snap, Madison took thee long strides forward and snatched up the book from the floor, holing it threateningly.
'Get out of my house!’ she demanded furiously.
The Doctor raised his eyebrows at her and glanced again at the pile of rubble. ‘It’s ruined your carpet,’ he commented.
‘It’s a nice carpet,’ said Fyffe.
The Doctor nodded. ‘Made from Erreep wool, is it? That’s nice, that is. Using your own recourses… no need to waste all that pollution through long distance trading and all that, who needs all that bargaining and wasted time? Nah, you just need to nip down to your local market and get some freshly grown Erreep wool. I like that: self sufficient.’
Fyffe nodded earnestly and looked down at the carpet. ‘Shame…’ she said. Madison followed her gaze and shrugged half heartedly.
‘It wasn’t a particularly expensive carpet,’ she said truthfully, ‘it’s the most simple design you can get and…’ she trailed off as she realized that both the Doctor and Fyffe were completely ignoring her. In fact, they weren’t even standing next to her anymore. Madison turned and saw them once again rooting through her book self in search of information.
She growled. Never in her life had she found a pair that was so utterly and confusingly rude! Every time she tried to get some form of understanding or control over the situation they just… they just… completely changed the subject and reverse psychology-ied her! It was even more vexing than having a conversation with Ryan’s beard!
'You, you! You…!!!!’ Madison began.
Fyffe shook her head at the older woman and nodded towards the Doctor. ‘He’s muchsmarter that you.’
‘…so he knows what he’s doing.’
Under the calm surety of the girl, Madison glowered. ‘Doing what? What’s he doing?’ she said.
Fyffe’s face suddenly beamed. ‘He’s going to save the world,’ she stated with complete conviction.
Madison frowned at the girl and fought to regain some control. ‘He can’t save the world, don’t be stupid…’ something Fyffe had said suddenly filtered back her mind. ‘Wait, how d’you know he’s smarter than me?’ she demanded. ‘You don’t even know me!’
‘Sorry,’ said the Doctor, still leafing through large books, ‘but I am.’
Madison turned and scowled at him. ‘Prove it,’ she said.
The Doctor looked up at her. ‘You what?’
‘Prove it,’ Madison said again stubbornly. ‘Prove you’re smarter than me.’
The Doctor looked bewildered and glanced at Fyffe, who shrugged at him. ‘Uh,’ he said, ‘look, can’t we just drop this?’
‘Ah,’ said the Doctor, ‘alright. I’m smarter than you because…’ he gestured wildly, as though trying to pull an idea out of the air, ‘… because I can name every planet that ever existed.’
He looked at Madison, who slowly raised her eyebrows.
‘Right…’ she said in complete disbelief. ‘And you just have that knowledge in your head do you? Or did you get given it as a Christmas present from you great auntie, the tooth fairy?’
Fyffe let out a short laugh and the Doctor shook his head in impatience. What he wanted to do, right now, was to find out as much as he could about Pericolo so he could help. Not be bombarded with stupid questions and sarcastic comments from a random person who seemed more likely to bite his knees off than to be helpful. He briefly wondered what happened to the times when he would stumble into a situation, and people would just tell him what he wanted to know without all the tedious attitude…
‘No,’ he said slowly, ‘I learnt it in school. That’s where we had to learn it; otherwise we wouldn’t be able to pass the lower-level exams.’
‘Look,’ said Madison as the Doctor returned to the books, ‘there is no way you could have learned every planet and whatever at school. You wouldn’t even be able to learn it in your life time.’ She looked the Doctor up and down. ‘And you’re… what? Thirty two? Thirty six?’
He glanced up at her and saw her blink and stop, her mouth slightly open.
'I’m not human,’ explained the Doctor.
Madison gaped at him. ‘Well… obviously! After what you just said…! Course you’re not a bloody human, you think I’m that stupid! I’m not even human!’
‘You’re not?’ Fyffe smiled quizzically, ‘then what are you?’
Madison paused, suddenly thrown of her train of thought. ‘Well… my ancestors were kind of human, I suppose, but I never really counted as pure human because I’m descended from bio-genetically engineered flesh,’ she gave the Doctor a hopeful look as though wanting praise for saying something clever, but the only response she got was for him to straighten up and frown deeply.
Fyffe grimaced. ‘That doesn’t sound pleasant,’ she said.
In response, Madison shook her head and frowned. ‘Stop distracting me!’ she shouted. Fyffe shrugged and returned her attention back onto the books. The Doctor stood still, looking expectantly at Madison.
‘I was just trying to work out what you are,’ Madison continued sullenly. ‘There are no other life forms that have ever come to Tendra that have had that long a life span, or can apparently walk through smoke, or ramble on, or act as confusingly as you two,’ she shot Fyffe a quick glance, ‘or are as weird as you…’ she sighed and looked at the Doctor, ‘go on then, what are you?’
‘I’m a Time Lord.’
‘Right,’ said Madison, ‘what’s that then?’
The Doctor looked confused. ‘It’s a… lord… of time,’ he said.
Madison shrugged and turned to Fyffe. ‘And you’re a…a Time Girl?’ she asked.
Fyffe suddenly looked appalled. ‘No!’
The Doctor groaned and ran his hands roughly through his hair.
‘Okay... as much as I’m loving this conversation… I really, really need to just find out about this place.’ He turned to look at Madison. ‘None of these books are going to help are they?’
The woman shrugged and gave her head a quick shake. Fyffe lowered the book she was holding and let it drop to the floor. She watched the human and the Time Lord intensely but kept her mouth firmly shut. Through what the Doctor has said, she knew that information that she so desperately wanted, was what he was so urgently trying to find, and if she just went along with whatever happened… she would get her answers.
In front of her, the Doctor took two steps towards Madison, and spoke to her gently.
‘Look, I understand about your confusion and hostility, and I’m sorry we barged in here and started demanding things. But I’ve learned that the quicker I find out what I need to know, the faster I can help to fix problems… I just need information. I’m trying to fix this,trying to help.’
Madison sighed and fixed the Doctor with an expectant look. ‘You did save me…’ she said, as though trying to convince herself to help him. ‘But, how can you possibly think that you’re going to fix all this? We’re at war and you’re just one man, what can you do?’
The Doctor flashed her with a genuine grin of triumph. ‘I’m the Doctor,’ he said, ‘and if there’s one thing I’m good at, among my other countless thousand of talents, it’s fixing problems.’
And he sounded so certain, so sure of himself, that Madison nodded her head slowly. Other than being rude, she had seen no other bad intension from him; it was more like bad timing. She decided to look past the demons in his eyes and help the lonely, desperate man.
‘Okay,’ she said, ‘I better not regret helping you, or you’ll be sorry,’ the Doctor held up his hands in mock surrender and Madison allowed herself to smile for the first time. ‘What kind of things do you want to know?’ she asked.
The Doctor lowered his hands and buried them deep into his pockets. ‘Anything and everything,’ he said. ‘Neighboring planets, neighboring cities, exchange rate, when you were founded, list of rulers, family trees, weather patterns, the extent of your ecosystem, phosphate levels in your soil, percentage of oxygen in the atmosphere, planetary anomalies, history, geography, biology, psychology… just something to get me thinking along the right lines.’
Madison gaped at him.
‘I think it would be best if I just took you to the library or something,’ she said, ‘I’m not even sure I got half of what you just said.’
There was a sudden shuddering of more explosions and the house shook again, creaking in protest. The Doctor glanced up at the ceiling and frowned.
‘As much as I love books,’ he said, ‘I don’t think we have that much time to go through a whole library.’
Madison hurried over to the door and peered outside. ‘Our library isn’t full of books,’ she said over her shoulder, ‘its all in a giant data base on a computer… the only problem,’ she whipped her head back round the door to look at the Doctor and Fyffe, ‘is that it’s on the other side of the city.’