Fandom: Doctor Who
Characters: The Eleventh Doctor, Amy Pond, Rory Williams
Edited By: the marvelous buckaroobob , aka dr_whuh
Summary: Things are not always what they seem. That's hard to remember, however, when one has been swallowed whole.
Author's Note: This was written for enochiansigils as part of the 2014 fandom_stocking fun. She likes a couple that I, too, am very fond of; Amy and Rory. I hope this little adventure makes her smile. (As a point of probably no interest at all, reference to the Second Great and Bountiful Empire proceeds from the very first fic I ever wrote, and is completely uncanonical. I hope no one minds.)
Disclaimer: As always, I do not own anything in the Whoniverse; its characters are solely the property of the BBC and their various creators. I take no coin and intend no copyright infringement. I simply love.
It was sticky. It was gelatinous. It was slimy. Worst of all, it smelled very, very bad.
And they were sitting in a great spreading pool of it. It — and them — having been recently expelled from the stomach of a very large, very ill, alien … beast … person … something, which had then lumbered off, leaving them in its weaving wake.
Amy was well over being horrified, although she still had had to actively prevent herself from joining Rory in intestinal infortuity. Poor Rory, she thought, as he was sick yet again. Normally her beautiful nurse could handle anything a patient could exude or expel. But being swallowed alive and vomited out again was several degrees above his nausea ceiling. Amy at least had her Star Whale experience.
“Come on then, Rory,” she said. “We’re alive. Let’s find the Doctor and the TARDIS. Once we’re home, you can puke as much as you want, in safety.”
“This is the worst I’ve felt since high school,” he managed to gasp, before retching again. Dry heaves by now, Amy noted, with a great deal of sympathy. “Since Mels fed me that brew of hers.”
Amy winced. He’d been really sick after that party.
“Here, lean on me.”
The two of them slipped and slid to their feet, and Rory finally got his stomach under control. “Do we know where the Doctor is?”
“He said he was heading for the zoo control room, to open the cages and free the prisoners,” she said. “ I don’t think he realized one of them was going to get themselves out and, uhm, eat us.”
“I heard the thing yelling. It was talking to the Doctor; it was intelligent! Why did it eat us?” Rory was getting better. He’d become indignant, in that way he had. Even beslimed and odorific, he was adorable, Amy thought.
And he was right. She’d heard the whatever-it-was — no, the whoever -it-was — yelling something to the Doctor, before that worthy loped off, telling them to stay where they were. And that was the point, wasn’t it, she thought; every creature in this monstrous zoo was an intelligent citizen of the Second Great and Bountiful Empire, having been kidnapped from their home worlds and enslaved here on the Charter Four Complex Colony, in direct contravention of every law of African Albion.
That’s why the Doctor had investigated in the first place. African Albion was destined to fall to xenophobia, but not for centuries. This “zoo” was far too early a manifestation of the parochially evil mistake to which humans were prone; the belief that intelligent beings had to look like them and, if they didn’t, weren’t worthy of human respect. Allowing it to continue to exist would accelerate the Empire’s destruction so quickly that billions of intelligent beings would not have the chance to escape its mutation into the horrific Commonwealth of Humanity. I can’t halt the Empire’s destruction, he’d said sadly, but I can prevent much needless bloodshed by eliminating this point of potentiality.
Well, she was down with rescuing prisoners and staving off evil, and she could definitely understand respecting other life forms. But couldn’t she and Rory have used a little respect from Prisoner X, Amy thought, finally becoming indignant herself, although it was mostly on Rory’s behalf.
It was only after the Doctor had careered out of sight around the corner that the huge blue-grey prisoner had banged its head repeatedly against its barred door, finally knocking it open.
She and Rory had stood there, gape-mouthed, as it surged out of the cage toward them. But their mouths were pretty poor imitations of the huge maw it displayed, courtesy of what looked like an abruptly unhinged lower jaw. Before they realized how fast it was, and how big the alien’s mouth had become, they’d been engulfed. In one wet, dark moment, they rode its tongue; in the next, and with a convulsive gulp, they’d been deposited in its stomach.
They might have been inside the alien’s stomach only 40 or 50 seconds, although it had seemed like slow centuries while its internal muscles pushed and shoved at them in spasm after spasm. One final violent spasm quite literally threw them up and out, back the way they’d came, depositing them on the floor.
But just where, exactly?
Amy looked around them, and realized that they were standing in the very same corridor they’d taken to get to the display hall. In fact, she was almost certain … She peered harder into the dim light, and laughed with relief.
“Rory, the TARDIS! Look, it’s down there, a few hundred feet! I can’t believe it, but the thing got us there!”
“Oh. My. God.” Her husband’s hollow tone didn’t sound very relieved.
“Rory, did you hear what I said? We’re—”
“It’s come back. We’re going to get eaten. Again.”
She turned slowly on her heel, and groaned. Yes, there was the alien again, every single inch of it: six legs, two multi-digited tentacles, and that gigantic head.
And the Doctor, riding atop the head.
“Hello, Ponds! Good to see you! Eyll Parrhl Amph here wants to assure you that you didn’t hurt her; she’s just fine.”
He grinned down at them. They looked up at him in disbelief.
“That we didn’t hurt her? ” Rory sputtered. “Are you mad? She — wait, it’s a she … I mean, she’s … she bloody ate us ....” he trailed off, choking again, obviously unable to speak and be enraged at the same time.
“Ah. Well, that’s not exactly what happened. Watch out, Amph, I’m jumping.”
The Doctor landed on his feet with the catlike grace that occasionally got in the way of his usual giraffe-like maneuverings. “Amph told me she’d get the two of you back to the TARDIS.”
“What?” Rory stared first at the Doctor and then at the being apparently yclept Eyll Parrhl Amph. “When did it — she, I mean — when did she do that?”
“After she gave me directions to the control room.”
“Was that what all the yelling was about?” Amy tilted her head, replaying the scene in her head with this new information.
“I … am afraid … my vocal cords do not … handle ancient … Anglic well.” The deep rumbling voice was melodious, but it was indeed hard to make out, even now.
“I thought the TARDIS could translate everything for us,” she said.
“Well, there are a few, a very few, races in the Universe that the TARDIS doesn’t, or can’t, translate. Eyll Parrhl Amph’s species are distantly related to the Judoon —”
“Very distant,” the alien growled.
“Yes, sorry, very distantly related and a great deal more civilized and intelligent, but you do share a linguistic tradition. And the TARDIS doesn’t translate them, either.” The Doctor seemed anxious to apologize.
“Who the hell are the Judoon?” Rory whispered.
“I have no idea,” Amy whispered back. “Not anyone I’ve heard of.”
“ Anyhow , the point is that she told me she’d get you to safety. I, uhm, didn’t stop to think that she’d decide the best place to keep you safe while she got you to the TARDIS was inside her gestation pouch.”
“Her what?” Amy wasn’t sure she’d heard that correctly.
“Gestation pouch,” Rory repeated, then clapped his hand to his forehead. “OK, that makes sense. I mean, we’re not covered in stomach acid.”
“ I misjudged … your size. I thought … you were children. Like … my own. I often carry … them. The pouch is … warm and safe … inside me. But you … were too big for me,” Eyll Parrhl Amph explained. As she spoke, her tentacle arms waved and fidgeted in what, Amy quickly comprehended, was embarrassment. “ I had … to … expel you. I couldn’t keep you … safe, so I … went back and … got the Doctor. I … am sorry.”
To Amy’s ultimately unsurprised delight, it was Rory who walked over and gently took Eyll Parrhl Amph’s left tentacle-hand. “No, don’t apologize. I, uh … I apologize for … uh … you know, being too big. I’m glad we didn’t hurt you. I’d hate to think we did that to someone who was trying to rescue us.”
Of course Rory wouldn’t want to hurt anyone, especially a mother, Amy thought; the pang of love that shot through her was painfully, beautifully fierce. I am so very lucky. I don’t tell him nearly enough how lucky I am that he loves me.
“ I am … glad we didn’t … hurt each other,” Eyll Parrhl Amph said. And she started to laugh; at least that’s what Amy thought the sound of small bubbling mud geysers was.
“Now, we have to go, and Amph needs to oversee the evacuation. Second Empire ships are waiting to take everyone home,” the Doctor said. His smile vanished as he continued, eyes and mouth grim. “They have already taken the perpetrators away.”
“Where?” Amy couldn’t help asking.
“That’s not my business,” he said, very coolly. “I don’t care what happens to them.”
The zookeepers were fortunate he wasn’t in charge of them, Amy knew. She didn’t question him further. Instead, she approached the alien woman and reached up, as Rory had, to gently grasp her tentacle-hand. “Thank you. Thank you for getting us back, or nearly back, to the TARDIS. I’m glad I met you.”
Eyll Parrhl Amph inclined her massive head as far as it could go. This close, Amy noticed her eyes; a clear, delicate rose color, and fringed with lush blue lashes. “And I … you.”
With that, she maneuvered herself around and began walking (far more elegantly than she’d walked just after throwing them up, Amy thought) back the way she and the Doctor had come.
The Time Lord in question came up and draped his arms over their shoulders, hugging them.
“Come along, Ponds, I imagine you’d like a shower or three,” he said, letting go of them and wiping at his jacket sleeves. “Her attempt was noble, but clammy.”
“And some ginger tea, eh, Rory?” Amy said, thinking of his queasiness.
“Nope. Not necessary. I’ve discovered that being rescued does wonders for a shaky stomach,” Rory responded.
“Shower, then.” She grinned. “Together.”
His eyes lit up. “Together.”