“Come on, old girl!” shouts the Doctor smacking the side of the central column of the Tardis’ console which is emitting an unpleasant screeching sound as it rises and falls.
“Is everything all right? Doctor,” I yell over the noise, gripping the edge of the console to steady myself as the Tardis bucks and pitches.
“Um, yes, just needs a minor correction.” He frowns at the column and flicks a couple of switches. The Tardis comes to an abrupt halt and all is quiet “Come on, let’s see what’s happening outside.” He motions me to stand beside him, then with a flourish he taps a button on the console. A large viewing screen flashes up on the other side of the control room.
The screen is blank.
“Ah,” he says tapping on the button repeatedly. Nothing happens. The screen is still blank.
The Doctor rushes over to the doors and flings then open.
All is black.
I follow him and peer out. “Oh,” I say. There is literally nothing there. I turn to the Doctor who is rubbing his jaw. “Where’s space gone?”
“That, Jemma, is space.” He leans out of the doors looking up and down. “Space. Nothing else.”
“But the stars and…”
“I better check the coordinates,” he says over his shoulder as he runs back to the console. “Close the doors won’t you?”
I pull the doors closed. My heart thumps. “What’s happened to Harris and Stevens? Are they all right?”
“I certainly hope so.” He pulls out his sonic screwdriver and disappears under the console.
The viewing screen flickers into life showing a view of my two shipmates sitting just where I’d left them on our spacecraft. Both have expressions of extreme concentration on their faces. In the background I can see what they’re staring at. I blink in surprise.
They’re playing the ancient arcade game ‘Space Invaders’!
The Doctor reappears from beneath the console. “That should do it. We should be able to see them now.” He glances at the screen as the Tardis shudders under a sudden impact.
“No, NO,NO, NO!” he shouts.
I turn to him, not understanding what’s happening. The Tardis shudders again; sparks fly from the console. The Doctor points at the bottom of the screen the boys are staring at. “They’re firing at us!”
We watch as the little white aliens descend towards the Tardis.
The boys are firing back.
“No Doctor, they’re defending us.”
Or at least they’re trying to…
Will the Harris and Stevens beat the aliens? Can the Tardis escape from the game? Tune in next week for the next episode of Space Cadets!
“That’s a black hole!” I stare in horror at the viewing screen. “How close is it?”
[FIVE MINUTES TO EVENT HORIZON]
The red light starts to flash.
“Your doctor friend,” cries Stevens. “Call him!”
I close my eyes and visualize the Tardis. Nothing happens. I empty my mind then start to picture every detail I can remember of the familiar blue box. To my relief I hear its arrival over the shrill wail of the siren. I open my eyes to see Tardis materialize. The door opens. It’s the Matt Smith version of the Doctor.
“Ah,” he says, “spot of bother?” He bounds over to the screen. “Oh, I should say so!” He looks round at us.
“Can you help us, Doctor?” I stare up at him.
[FOUR MINUTES TO EVENT HORIZON]
“Let me think,” he says, tapping his sonic screwdriver absently against the side of his head. He starts to pace about.
Suddenly he whirls around to face us. “Okay. I’m going to tether your ship to the Tardis, then we’re going to travel back in time to before that thing formed.” He points at the screen.
“But it’ll be a supernova, won’t it?” shouts Stevens.
“Good point.” The Doctor waves his sonic screwdriver at Stevens. “Back to before the star goes supernova.” He taps his head again. “I’ll just need to make a couple of calculations.”
[THREE MINUTES TO EVENT HORIZON]
“Who’s good at maths?”
The boys look at me. “Jemma!”
“Okay, Jemma,” he nods. “Come with me.”
The interior of the Tardis looks exactly as I thought it would. The Doctor runs around the control console flicking switches and turning dials. He hums to himself as he works.
Grabbing my hand he takes me to the other side of the console. “Watch this screen,” he indicates a monitor with seemingly random numbers flashing up on it. “When it reaches 367.984, hit that green button.” He points to the button. “Don’t take your eyes off that screen; we only have one chance at this!” He rushes over to the door and pokes his head out.
[TWO MINUTES TO EVENT HORIZON]
“Remember, chaps. You must believe this will work. Concentrate on nothing else!” I glance up and see him touch his hand to the side of his head in salute.
He shuts the door and returns to the console. “The monitor, Jemma. Concentrate!” I hear him flick some more switches
I stare at the screen. The numbers continue to change. I concentrate, willing 367.984 to appear.
“What’s that noise?” yells Stevens over the resonating sound.
“Sounds like the Tardis.” I reply, still wondering what happened to the Borg Cube which a moment ago had been poised to assimilate our space craft.
“It’s the doctor.” I say confidently. “That’s who I just thought of. You know how it works.”
“Doctor who?” the boys turn to be, puzzled expressions on their faces.
I roll my eyes. “Yes, that’s right. Doctor Who. From the British TV series. You know, late 20th, early 21st century? Goes around space and time saving people.” I raise my eyebrows. “Like he might be able to get us out of this mess..?”
They shake their heads. Then their eyes slide past me, widening. I spin around in my chair to see the familiar blue box start to materialize. Relieved, I try to jump up from my seat, but the safety belt restrains me.
Suddenly the ship is rocked by a huge explosion. Over my shoulder the viewing screen flashes on, showing a ball of flames and massive pieces of dark black debris scattering across the void.
“Gotcha!” cries Harris, punching the air.
“Way to go!” cheers Stevens, leaning across the console to give Harris a high five.
So that’s what’s happened to the Cube. “How did you do that?” I ask.
“Hit the red button,” Harris indicates the joystick in front of him.
I turn back to see the Tardis start to fade. “Come back, Doctor!” I cry. “We need your help!”
“We don’t need help from some old doctor. We’re fine,” says Harris smugly. “I just blew up The Borg.”
“Er, I’d not be so sure,” says Stevens pointing at the viewing screen.
How will the Cadets escape from the Black Hole? And who imagined that??
Tune in next week for the next episode of Space Cadets!
The music fades out as we leave the planet’s atmosphere. The viewing screen blinks.
[STARDATE: 2607.7 – DESTINATION: SECOND STAR ON THE RIGHT]
The letters dissolve. The screen is filled with huge rocks, hurtling towards us.
“Asteroids!” yells Stevens.
The warning siren starts to wail and the red light flashes.
“Does this thing have shields?” I wonder out loud.
A medium-sized asteroid glances off the screen; the ship slews. Only our seat straps save us from being thrown to the floor.
“How do we steer?” shouts Harris.
A joystick, with a large red button on the top, sprouts from the console in front of him. He grabs hold and his eyes fix on the screen. His tongue pokes out of the side of his mouth; his gaming face. The control is hyper-responsive. Harris dodges nimbly through the asteroid belt, blowing rocks to smithereens with a dab of his thumb.
Then we’re through. The asteroids are behind us and all we can see is the inky blackness of space, peppered with bright pinpricks of light which are the stars.
All is quiet. We sit back and admire the view. My thoughts wander.
A huge black cube appears on the left of the screen. It glitters menacingly.
[You will be assimilated]
Stevens peers at the screen. “The Borg Cube!”
The ship is being pulled towards the vast angular vessel. Sirens wail, warning lights flash.
“But that’s not real!” Harris protests as he wrestles desperately with the joystick.
The ship judders ominously.
[Resistance is useless]
Stevens turns to me. “Hold on. Remember what the Zyborgatron said?”
I think for a moment. “Something about the ship being ‘guided by your imaginations.’ “
“Okay, who imagined The Borg?” Harris growls.
“Never mind who’s responsible. Just think of something else; something friendly!” I yell. “Hurry!”
The Borg Cube fills the screen. Harris jabs the red button repeatedly.
With apologies to the creators of Star Trek and Doctor Who
The doors to the holodeck swooshed closed. Ensign Marcus Bain felt a warm breeze ruffle his crew cut and the midday sun on his skin. Dressed in appropriate time-period leisurewear he plunged into the fairground crowd.
Garish colours, distorted sounds and the smell of fried food assaulted his senses. He checked the handful of notes and coins which had been issued to him with his slippery pale blue nylon outfit. There had been some orientation information on the pre-entry briefing screen, but he’d barely skimmed it in his impatience to visit late-twentieth century Earth.
He stared about at the crudely-made mechanical rides from which music blared and people screamed. The young ensign selected a ride at random and proffered a handful of coins. The operator raised his eyebrows and laughed, saying something Marcus didn’t catch, before showing him to one of the little rubber-rimmed cars which people were driving around the smooth oval-shaped rink.
Marcus had only just wedged himself into the seat of his little green car when someone bumped him hard from behind. He swivelled around, but the car had already reversed away. Then another slammed into him from the side. “You drive like a Klingon on Rackta,” he yelled at the driver who gave him a thumbs-up sign before driving off to bash a little blue car. Marcus clutched the steering wheel and depressed the single pedal on the floor. The car moved forward, describing a graceful arc.
He cruised around the rink, skilfully avoiding attempts by other cars to bump him. It was a bit like steering a star-ship through a meteor shower; not that he’d actually done that other than on a simulator. Marcus was oblivious to the hostile looks from the other drivers as he evaded their challenges and failed to make any contact himself. Then three cars came at him at once, one behind and two on either side, driving him edge of the rink. There was nowhere for his little green car to go. Marcus swung his car around to face them and stopped. He could feel the pressure from their cars push against his, which was tight up against the rim of the rink. The electric charges from the poles mounted on the back of the cars crackled brightly on the conductive mesh above their heads. The three guys scowled at Marcus. All were dressed in tight cut off t-shirts which revealed hostile-looking tattoos on their arms. He saw the man on his right crack his knuckles.
Marcus was up and out of the little green car before they had a chance to move. He hesitated for a few seconds, then seeing them hoist themselves out onto the busy rink and advance towards him, he set off at a run. The nylon fabric of his clothing slid unpleasantly over his skin as he looked around for somewhere to lose his pursuers.
Marcus noticed a door flapping open at the rear of one of the flimsy buildings. He dived through the door slamming it behind him. It was very dark. Marcus felt his way along a narrow corridor. His stomach knotted as he heard his pursuers enter behind him. Marcus groped his way along the passage until he found another door; he opened it cautiously and slipped through.
It was suddenly very bright; the walls around him were lined with mirrors which distorted and multiplied his reflection. He rounded a corner, hurrying past the grotesque versions of his reflected self into a mirror-lined corridor which twisted and zigzagged before opening into a large, triangular-shaped room. He heard a shout: ‘split up, get him.’ Heavy footsteps pounded on the wooden floor; the mirrors shook. Before Marcus could decide which way to run, three figures appeared each from a different doorway. Marcus was trapped.
‘Exit!’ shouted Marcus, remembering the escape command.
‘We’re not going anywhere,’ one of them grunted. The three men closed in on the now desperate Marcus, who knew he was not immune to blows from holographic foe.
‘Exit!’ Marcus yelled again. Why didn’t the program end?
Vworp! Vworp! The three men stopped and turned to see a large shape materializing in the middle of the room. Marcus sighed with relief. But what appeared wasn’t what he’d expected. Rather than an archway, it was a big blue box, taller than a man and a little wider than the double doors in the side which faced him. Perhaps this was a new version of the Arch? He wished he’d read the briefing more thoroughly. One of the doors opened and a figure in a long brown coat and an even longer stripy scarf appeared. He raised his broad-brimmed hat revealing a shock of unruly, curly hair.
‘Good afternoon, gentlemen,’ he said. He looked at Marcus, ‘You’d better come with me ensign.’
Marcus hesitated; his three would-be assailants stood open-mouthed.
‘Come along Ensign Bain, hurry up now,’ the man said, beckoning to him. ‘This way.’
Marcus hurried toward the blue box. ‘Who are you?’ he asked his rescuer as he drew level with him at the doorway.
‘I’m the Doctor,’ he replied, offering Marcus a toothy grin as he ushered him inside.
‘Doctor who?’ asked Marcus.
‘Have a jelly baby,’ said the Doctor, offering him a crumpled paper bag.
Marcus stared around him.
‘Welcome to the Tardis! Bigger on the inside, yes, I know,’ said the Doctor, beaming wide-eyed at Marcus. ‘Now let’s get you back where you belong,’ he said as he pushed buttons and pulled on levers at the central console.
Before Marcus could take stock of his surroundings, the Tardis materialized in the engine room of the USS Enterprise. ‘Home,’ said the Doctor, helping a dazed Marcus out.
‘Aye, another one, is it Doctor?’ said Scotty, the Chief Engineer.
The Doctor nodded. ‘Your virtual reality toy keeps causing a tiny rift in the space-time continuum. You need to fix it. I’ve better things to do than scoop up young ensigns on their day off.’
‘Aye, Doctor,’ said Scotty, ‘we’ll get onto it right away.’