Without another word the emerald-clad Gatekeeper turned on her heel and strode across the lawn to a different path. Sinead and Moonsprite hastened after her. The atmosphere had changed. A cool wind blew across the grass and the trees began to quiver, casting showers of red-golden leaves onto the ground.
The Gatekeeper glanced over her shoulder and quickened her step. When Sinead and Moonsprite caught up with her she was standing before a pair of tall iron gates. A broad flight of steps, edged with tall green hedges, lay beyond.
Sinead took the Freedom Key from her tunic and held it out to the Gatekeeper, but the ageless woman shook her head.
‘These gates are not locked. All are free to pass through.’ She turned and pushed the two gates open with a grand, sweeping gesture. ‘Put the Key away and enter,’ she instructed. ‘I will not be far behind you.’
Image credit: ‘Iron Gate’ by flowerpowerstock on Deviant Art
The heavy door clanged shut behind her. Sinead wheeled around, drawing the Sword of Elshain for protection. The weapon glowed only dimly: no threat was apparent.
Sinead advanced through a lofty hallway, which opened into a still larger, circular atrium. Double doors swung open at the far side and a warm, fragrant breeze wafted in. Sinead hastened forward, filling her lungs with the scents of fruits and flowers, and tasting the honey-dewed air.
She stepped out into patchwork of verdant greenery, laid out in manicured magnificence. Was this really the place where Mother Earth was being held?
‘We’ve been waiting for you.’
A woman, neither young nor old, dressed in flowing emerald robes emerged from a blossom-filled orange grove. Moonsprite was at her side, whinnying gently. Sinead dropped her sword and ran towards them, burying her face in Moonsprite’s mane.
In that moment, their reunion was all that seemed important.
Image credit: ‘Alley Of Roses’ by Leonid Afremov on Deviant Art
The warning lights are still flashing on the empty flight deck outside the Tardis. The Time Rotor screeches and wails while the Doctor battles with its controls.
‘Look, Miss Jemma!’ Cee-Threepio points at the viewing screen. ‘I think your star-ship is trying to communicate with us.’
I peer at the screen. Line upon line of text is spewing across my work station monitor. It’s too small to read from here, but it must be important. Otherwise, why would it be there?
It’s my ship, and from the way the Tardis is bucking and rolling despite the Doctor’s efforts, we’re all in trouble. I head for the doors. My place is on my own flight-deck and if Harris and Steven’s are still on theirs… I squash that thought down.
‘Jemma, wait!’ I hear the Doctor call out behind me, but I’ve made my decision. I fling myself through the doors of the Tardis; they snap closed behind me and I stumble over to my seat. The sound of the warning sirens is almost deafening, far louder than I’ve heard them before, but my job is to focus.
I strap myself in and concentrate on my monitor. A series of complex equations scroll before my eyes. Something’s wrong. The equations are incomplete. Basic stuff is missing! I grab the old-style keyboard and my fingers start to fly over the keys. I might not be a gamer like Harris, but I know my basic quantum theory. I hunch over the keys, scrolling down the lines, fixing errors and omissions, and tidying up messy calculations.
It’s like one of the speed tests we used to have back in Cadet College! I finish and flop back in my seat, then look around. Everything has gone quiet.
No red lights, no sirens. I swivel around. No Tardis!
Then I hear low-pitched voices and laughter. Harris and Stevens appear from the back of the flight deck.
‘You should’ve come with us, Jem,’ says Harris.
‘The Rec Room here is awesome,’ adds Stevens. ‘It’s got a top of the range Holodeck. We had a tour of the Millennium Falcon with Han and Chewy…’
‘…and I got to fly a mission attacking the Death Star,’ adds Harris excitedly.
I’m confused. Hold on. ‘Rec Room?‘
‘Yeah, Jem’, says Stevens slowly, as if talking to a particularly dim droid. ‘Starbase 74, you know, it’s recently been upgraded.’ He gives a sideways glance to Harris. ‘Maybe she’s a little low on sugar.’ He tosses a crumpled chocolate bar over to me. It looks like a ‘Snickers’ but it says ‘Banquet Bar’ on the label.
Did I miss something?
Harris crosses to his seat, glancing at the calculations on my screen. ‘You plotted the co-ordinates then. That’s great!’ He rubs his hands together. ‘Our first solo mission.’
Harris and Stevens have both strapped themselves in. They look at me expectantly.
‘Take her out, Captain Jemma!’ says Stevens, grinning broadly.
As I reach across to take the controls, the comms device tumbles from my tunic pocket. The screen flashes on and the face of Matt Smith’s Doctor Who appears. He puts a finger to his lips, and a speech balloon appears over his head. ‘My reality is different from yours,’ it reads. The Doctor winks, then his image is replaced by a cartoon white rabbit disappearing repeatedly down a black hole.
Something is definitely not right.
And so, as Jemma and her crew head out into space again, so concludes series two of Space Cadets, leaving you, in fine tradition once again, with more questions than answers. But judging by the way this has ended,it looks like there’s going to have to be another series. Stay tuned!
The dwarves scuttled back across the cavern leaving Sinead alone once again. Why had they departed so suddenly, almost without a word? Was it the bridge that had frightened them? Or was it the waters over which it led?
Sinead stepped onto the bridge.
She held the Crystal aloft, its soft bluish light glowed a little brighter with every step she took, while the inky waters lapped menacingly on either side. She quickened her pace knowing better than look down into their murky depths.
The bridge ended at a narrow jetty, but its moorings were empty of boats. A single domed archway in the towering stone wall ahead beckoned her, reminding her of the entrance to the Maze of Mandoran.
Courage, Sinead. The words echoed in her mind, just as they had before. So close, so close now.
Sinead placed her hand on the hilt of her sword and entered.
‘Everyone into the Tardis,’ cries the Doctor herding us towards the open doors.
Artoo beeps excitedly and scoots across the flight deck. Cee-Threepio is less enthusiastic. ‘Surely we won’t all fit in there, sir,’ he says as he bustles after Artoo.
Cee-Threepio steps over the threshold, then steps back, looking curiously at the Tardis’ exterior. ‘Oh I see, Doctor. It’s bigger on the inside!’
Despite the urgency of the situation, I allow myself to smile; Artoo emits a low-pitched beep, which I’ve come to realise is his equivalent of an eye-roll.
The Doctor is already at the controls as I close the doors behind me. Artoo’s head is rotating anxiously and he’s waving his scomp link in the air. ‘Plug that in here,’ instructs the Doctor, pointing to a port on the console, ‘but don’t upload the coordinates until I say.’ The little droid beeps his assent.
‘What can I do, Doctor, sir?’ asks Cee-Threepio.
The Doctor flicks a switch giving us a view of the flight deck beyond the Tardis’ doors on the interior monitor. ‘Concentrate on that image, Cee-Threepio. Commit that ship to your memory banks.’ The Doctor whirls around and points his index fingers at me. ‘Now you, Jemma, get Mr Solo on the line. We need to make sure that Harris and Stevens are on board too.
I pull out the comms device. Han’s anxious face appears on the screen. ‘What’s happening, kid?’
I hand the device over.
‘So you’re the mysterious Doctor then,’ says Han.
‘That’s right. I’m the Doctor and everything’s under control.’ I glance down and notice that the Doctor’s fingers are crossed.
‘What’s the plan, Doc?’
Artoo whoops and beeps loudly enough for Han to hear.
Han looks taken aback. ‘Okay, I’ll just concentrate on keeping the Falcon steady.’
‘Thank you, Mr Solo. Lovely ship, by the way. Now, let me speak to the boys.’
I peer around the Doctor’s shoulder as the worried faces of my two fellow cadets appear on the screen. ‘Now listen. Harris, Stevens, I want you to get back on board the ship and strap yourselves in.’
‘But Doctor…’ Stevens moves the device so we can see what’s behind him. The bright red ship doesn’t look exactly stable.
‘Trust me, Stevens. Take the comms device, leave the channel open and get back on the ship. I’m about to do something very clever and a tiny bit against the rules of the universe.’
The boys look at each other.
‘Well off you go!’ He waves them away with the back of his hand and passes the comms device to me. ‘Right,’ he says, rubbing his hands together. ‘Let’s get to work, Artoo!
I watch as Artoo activates the scomp link. For a moment nothing happens. I glance at the Doctor who holds up a finger. A moment later, things start to happen very quickly.
‘Geronimo!’ yells the Doctor.
The Time Rotor in the centre of the console begins to move and I feel the floor shudder. Artoo extends his stabilisers, rooting himself in position.
‘Oh dear, oh dear me!’ Cee-Threepio cries out, tottering on his feet.
The alert’s coming from my ship. I wheel around and check the viewing screen. Red lights are flashing all over the flight deck.
The red lights continue to flash and the Time Rotor begins to screech.
‘Is something wrong Doctor?’ I shout over the din.
The Doctor’s hands race over the console, flicking switches and adjusting dials. I snatch out the comms device. ‘Stevens! Harris! Come in!’ But all that comes back is static.
What’s this Quantum Error? Has the Doctor’s plan misfired? And what’s happened to the boys on the other ship? Tune in next week for the final episode in the current series…
And if you we’re wondering what on earth (or off-earth) is going on, you can catch up with the entire first series of Space Cadetshere
The Prophesy Book remained silent as to where Sinead might find the shackled Mother Earth. She and the two dwarves stood contemplating the key that lay in her hand. Then Dorrin spoke:
‘The key is the key! See the picture on the bow.’ He traced a calloused finger over the head of the key.
Alric nodded. ‘It’s the Cavern of Stalactites! Come, my lady.’
The dwarves each lit a torch from the dying flames of the forge and hurried down the passage next the spring. Sinead strode behind them. It was not long before it opened out into a broad cavern, the roof decorated with sharp stalactites. At the far end was a bridge leading across an inky lake.
The dwarves came to a halt.
‘We must leave you here, my lady,’ said Alric.
‘We may not cross,’ added Dorric.
They both bowed deeply and scurried off without another word.
The Tardis door bursts open and Matt Smith’s version of the Doctor bounds over to me. ‘Jemma! Thank goodness you’re safe!’ He looks around the ship and spots the two droids. ‘Don’t I know you..?
Cee-Threepio and Artoo exchange glances. Artoo emits a series of excited whoops and beeps, while Cee-Threepio raises a golden arm to his forehead as if he is searching his memory banks. ‘Sorry, sir, I don’t quite…’
Artoo mutters something in beep-talk.
‘Okay, never mind that now,’ the Doctor turns back to me. ‘The Tardis has detected a quantum disturbance in this galaxy and it seems to have something to do with your ship, Jemma.’ He looks around, puzzled. ‘Where are the boys?’
I explain as briefly as I can.
The Doctor taps his sonic screwdriver against his head. ‘The Millennium Falcon, eh? Always wanted to have a go on that,’ he says with an envious grin.
‘That’s right,’ pipes up Cee-Threepio. ‘That’s where we’re waiting to go, isn’t it Artoo?’
Our surroundings flicker like they need re-tuning again.
‘This doesn’t look good,’ says the Doctor.
Artoo’s head spins agitatedly and he emits a stream of tech-babble in beep-talk.
The Doctor obviously understands. ‘Golly,’ he exclaims. ‘The ship has divided into two, you say!’ The Doctor whirls around, brandishing his sonic screwdriver in Artoo’s direction. ‘That would explain a lot.’
Artoo scoots over to the console and inserts his scomp link. He projects an image of a starship docked in the familiar cargo hold of the Millennium Falcon. If that’s our ship, it doesn’t look quite how I imagined it, but then I’ve never seen it from the outside. Even so, a bright red fighter was not what I’d envisaged.
‘Are you sure that’s right, Artoo?’ asks Cee-Threepio. ‘I was under the impression that Miss Jemma’s starship was a rather pleasing shade of blue.’
The flight deck suddenly becomes less gloomy and comes more sharply into focus. Was it something Cee-Threepio said?
I look more closely at the image the little droid is projecting. The boys are on the ramp at the rear of the spacecraft and Han Solo is standing on the cargo deck holding something in his hand. All three of them appear quite animated.
Two ships, multiple dimensions…Harris’s version and mine…
The comms device in my tunic pocket buzzes urgently. Han Solo’s picture appears on its screen. ‘Jemma? Jemma are you there?’
‘Yes, Han, Jemma here.’
‘Look, kid. I don’t know where you’ve gone, but you need to get back to this ship of yours. Right now! There’s some sort of…’
I return my gaze to Artoo’s projection. Han is running anxious fingers through his hair, while Harris and Stevens cling to the sides of the hatch. The bright red ship is flickering, like it’s about to dematerialize.
‘Look, Doctor!’ I gasp, pointing to what’s happening. Artoo whistles loudly and cuts the image. The little droid turns to the console and starts to wave his clasper arm over the controls.
‘This really isn’t good at all, Jemma. We need to get the two versions of your ship back in sync.’
I turn my attention back to the comms device. ‘Don’t worry, Han, the Doctor’s with me. We’re on our way.’
Doctor who?’ I hear Han ask, but I leave the question hanging.
Cee-Threepio peers over my other shoulder. ‘Yes, sir, don’t worry, we’re coming!’
The comms link goes dead.
The Doctor starts to pace around, tapping his teeth with his iconic implement. Suddenly he stops. ‘That’s it!’ He waves the sonic screwdriver with a flourish. ‘Come on Jemma, there’s no time to lose!’
What’s happening back on the Millennium Falcon? Will the Doctor get Jemma there in time? And what exactly was Artoo up to at the console? Tune in next week for episode 9…
And if you we’re wondering what on earth (or off-earth) is going on, you can catch up with the entire first series of Space Cadetshere
I hesitate, wondering why the two familiar-looking droids have just walked past the ship without a glance. Then I remember; Captain James T Kirk and his landing party couldn’t to see our ship when they encountered it on a similar bleak planet.
I’ll have to go outside.
The rear hatch obligingly opens as I approach and I hover in the doorway as the ramp descends. It connects with the sandy surface of the unknown planet with a thud. Artoo’s head spins around to face me, and he utters a surprised ‘bloop’.
‘What is it, Artoo?’ asks his golden-coloured companion, barely glancing in his direction.
The little droid’s head spins around again, making a series of excited beeps causing his companion to turn around.
‘Oh!’ Cee-Threepio’s eyes light up. ‘Master Luke must have sent you to rescue us,’ he says.
And here I was hoping that they would rescue me!
Cee-Threepio’s arms jerk from side to side as trots eagerly towards me. ‘I take it there is a space-craft of some kind behind you?’
Before I have the chance to reply, Cee-Threepio has stepped onto the ramp. He glances over his shoulder. ‘Come along Artoo, don’t dawdle. You don’t want to get left behind again, do you?’
Artoo whoops with mild irritation and clambers onto the ramp.
‘It looks very dark in there, Artoo; you’d better activate your head torch,’ fusses Cee-Threepio. He turns to me. ‘I suppose it’s just a standard transporter?’
I need to take control of the situation.
Once inside, the two droids look at me expectantly. Cee-Threepio is right. The flight deck has become rather gloomy. I glance around at the walls, but they seem solid enough.
‘Is something wrong, Mistress? asks Cee-Threepio. He puts his hand to his mouth. ‘Sorry, we haven’t been introduced! Where are my manners?’
‘I already know who you are.’ I say, managing a grin. ‘I’m Jemma Kirk.’
Our surroundings flicker like a badly-adjusted monitor and the ship lurches disconcertingly. I slide into my seat, gripping the arms. I need help!
Artoo utters a surprised beep and shunts over to the ship’s console where he plugs his scomp link into one of the desktop ports. A moment later he utters a low whistle.
‘He’s says he’s picking up some very strange readings from your ship,’ Cee-Threepio interprets.
Artoo tweets and beeps. Cee-Threepio cocks his head and nods. ‘He says there’s a quantum anomaly, whatever that is.’
With a high-pitched screech Artoo pulls his scomp link from the port. A series of anxious bloops and whistles follow.
‘I don’t know what you’re talking about, Artoo,’ says Cee-Threepio crossly. ‘Somebody’s cat? It sounds like you’ve got your wires crossed.
Then I hear a reassuring sound behind me. I spin around in my seat as a familiar blue box appears.
‘Well I never, what can this be?’ wonders Cee-Threepio.
Artoo makes a chuckling sound followed by what sounds very like a wolf-whistle.
What exactly is a quantum anomaly? And what’s all this about a cat? How will the Doctor fare in this galaxy far, far away? Tune in next week for episode 8…