Exiting the TARDIS after re-materialization into an entirely new environment is often disconcerting, even for a Time-Lord. The floor sloped acutely relative the “down” in the TARDIS, there was a loud beating sound filling the air, and it was down-right cold. And it was completely dark. Rex quickly rolled off into the black to scout the environs while the Doctor engaged the chameleon circuit. He was reaching into his pocket to retrieve his sonic screwdriver when the light of an electric torch played on our faces.
“Oy, ‘O goes there!” said a voice from behind the torch.
“Now, don’ you move, Sir…Miss. I don’ want no trouble and the Chief will be by shortly, so please keep your ‘ands where I can see ‘em.”
“Excuse me, young man, but are we in some sort of trouble?”
“I wouldn’t be knowin ‘bout that, Sir. But you’re not ‘posed to be down ‘ere and we are havin a bit of trouble with the ship. The Chief’ll want to ask you some questions…maybe, the Cap’n, too. Now, why don’ you just stand there a moment while the Chief comes ‘round.”
“No problem, son. Sorry, we’ve caused such a bother. We just came down to check on our Dog and got a little lost. What problem has the ship encountered?”
“Dog, Sir? That don’ sound right…we don’t allow dogs on board. But, sure, we’ve lost trim and our nose is pointing toward the sky while our tail be dragging us toward the ground! Chief and we boys came down to check if the cargo shifted, but if you ask me it feels more like somat tied a whale to the tail all a sudden. If we haven’t taken on a few tons of extra weight in the last few minutes, I’m a duck!”
Another torch shone out way above our heads, and in its wash we could begin to make out a gangway with three shadows walking across it. There were boxes and crates all around.
“Down ‘ere, Chief. I got a couple of strays among the Cargo ‘says they’re looking for a dog!”
“Nonsense, Parsons. There are no pets allowed on this flight! Who are these people”
“Not that kind of dog, actually,” the Doctor called out as the Chief and his team came down the ladder. “We found this really cleaver man in the local market before we boarded. He made this most wonderful automaton in the shape of a Dog… does marvelous tricks for a machine! I can’t wait for Mama to see it. I thought he must have been stored near here somewhere…Could you kindly play your light around us, Chief. I’d really love to show him off before going back to my table.”
The beam swung to our right and almost immediately played upon Rex. Rex had wisely gone dormant in response to the Doctor’s verbal cues.
“If I may, Chief…” The doctor moved over to Rex’s side before the Chief could respond. He stiffly bent over and patted Rex on the head.
“Thank you, master!” responded Rex and immediately shut down again. There was a collective gasp from the four crew members.
“Isn’t that just marvelous?” said the Doctor. “My nephew is going to get a big thrill out of it.”
There was a moment’s pause, and then the Chief cleared his throat.
“Yes, Sir, it truly was, but this is most against regulations. Passengers ought not to be among the Cargo. We do our best, but Crates on an Airship are tricky things a best and it is dangerous for you to be here. I’m going to have to ask you to come up to the cabin with me…”
“Of course, Chief. I’m sorry for any trouble I’ve caused. Your crewman here says the ship is having trouble?”
“A little and nothing I like. Worse, the Second’s gone missing. I hope he’s not out on the skin without a gang. He’s a good lot, but tends to take it a bit on his own steam, if you catch my meaning, Sir?”
“You thing the trouble is outside the ship, Chief?”
“No, Sir, I think it is surely inside. That’s why me and the boys are inspecting aft. Your ‘Dog’ weigh much, Sir?”
“No, Chief. I’m sure you could pick him up by yourself.”
“Then that can’t be it. There must be something farther astern…”
“Chief, you’re busy right now, and I know you don’t have time to escort me back to the other passengers, so I promise to be good and toddle on with my daughter here and leave you to it.”
“I’d be grateful, Sir, if you would do that.”
The Chief left a torch with us and with his men move swiftly towards the rear of the cargo space. The Doctor knelt by Rex’s side as soon as they were out of earshot.
“Rex, Scan!” he whispered.
“There is a large energy signature 10 meters behind me, master. It appears to be masked against visible light. There is also a temporal rift near the energy source.”
“Any indication of the rift’s source coordinates?”
“Source Location, 2300 meters below us. Time reference, uncertain.”
“Can you disable the light interference?”