The 12th Doctor

Flowers for a Robot Girl

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Brigadier Winifred Bambara sat behind the desk in her comfortable leather chair.  Her boot covered feet were up on the desk as she relaxed and took things easy.  However her moment of peace was interrupted when Sergeant Mary Greene bundled into her office and saluted before almost collapsing on the floor.

“Sorry to interrupt you sir, I’ve run all the way here from the radio room.”  The radio room was the nerve centre of UNIT’s worldwide communication network and was located on the other side of the base to the Brigadier’s office.

“Catch your breath Greene.”  Bambara said slowly.  “I prefer to hear reports without the risk of one of my senior NCO’s passing out because she’s gotten too soft in the radio room.”

“No time sir.”  Greene replied.  “It’s an urgent report, code valiant.”

Bambara stood up.  “Sit down there, tell me everything now.”  She listened as Greene explained the weird message.

“There are reports that an IRA saboteur has passed through customs.  He’s not on any police files, only the top brass know about him.”

Alarm sirens started to sound the alert signal.  Bambara pulled her blue coloured beret on to her closely cropped head.  “Oh shame.”  She said before picking up her swagger stick.  “You’re with me Greene.”  She headed out of her office closely followed by the NCO.

 

 

“Where are we?”  Mike Weston asked his weird and enigmatic friend the Doctor.

The Doctor smiled and turned on the TARDIS display screen.  “Well after that vacation I thought we’d pop by and visit my dear friend Winifred.  She’s one of my best friends you know.”

“Ah yes, that military officer you introduced me to just after I met you.  She’s rather hard to take isn’t she?  I guess it’s the military life.”

“She was born into the Army Mike, it’s in her blood.”  The Doctor turned the screen off.  “I suppose we should let Alice know that we’ve arrived.  After all this is for her benefit.”

“Will it work though Doctor?”  Mike asked.  “Can you repair her mind?”

“I think so Mike.”  The Doctor said slowly.  “I’ve studied the circuits, read all there is to know about electronic repairs.”

Mike headed towards the internal door that lead to the interior of the time machine.  “I suppose I should be the one to tell her that we’ve landed.  Why do I get stuck with baby sitting duty again though?”

“You’re a kind person Mike.”  The Doctor replied.  “Plus she trusts you with the most precious thing in her life, her child.  I’d say it’s more of an honour than a burden.”

 

 

Bambara sat in the passenger side of her jeep while Green drove her towards the site of the disturbance.  “Infiltrating a military base should be a capital offence.  Let me put a few of them up against the wall and then we’ll see how soon they want peace.”

“What’s that?”  Greene asked, taking one hand off the wheel to point to a strange blue box.

“Oh shame.”  Bambara swore.  “The TARDIS.  Trust the Doctor to make an appearance at a time like this.”

“The Doctor?”  Greene asked.  “Your former scientific advisor?”

“He’s more of a free agent and I only inherited him from Lethbridge-Stewart.  He’s too undisciplined for my taste.  Besides Lockwood is more than adequate as a replacement, he’s much more suitable.”

 

 

The Doctor emerged from the TARDIS to find that he was staring down the barrels of several SA-80’s.  “Ah yes, the usual military response to the unknown.”  He looked around.  “Would you be so good as to lower those things?  You’ll only get hurt.”

“Look at that outfit!”  Green exclaimed.

The Brigadier rolled her eyes when she saw what the Doctor had on.  It was a sparkling silver suit with a huge red fake fur collar and a black velvet waistcoat with yellow question marks embroided all over it.  The Doctor’s oversized glasses did little to hide his fluffed up red and black hair, in fact it seemed to exaggerate his alien dress sense.

The Doctor spotted his old friend amongst the sea of soldiers.  “Winifred, so nice to see you again.  I don’t suppose you could cancel the welcoming committee?  My friends are a little more nervous around guns than I am.”

“What do you want Doctor?” Bambara asked, getting straight to the point.

“I’ve always admired your directness Winifred.”  The Doctor complimented his old friend.  “I would like a nice cup of tea, Darjeeling, not Earl Gray.  The use of one of your labs, to help my friend Alice, and the untarnished joy of your cheery hospitality.  Maybe a tray of scones to go with the tea, fruit ones though, not the cheese though as they gives me wind.”

Bambara looked at the Doctor for a second.  “What will you do for me if I agree to all of this?  I can’t have you and your, friends, wandering around the place in the middle of a security situation.”

“We won’t get in your way at all, I promise.”  The Doctor smiled broadly and crossed his fingers behind his back.  “You can come out now.”  He called into the TARDIS and a few seconds later Alice and Mike emerged into warmth of the bright mid morning air.

“Hi there.”  Alice waved at all the nice soldiers.

“Hello.”  Mike added stoically.”

“The Doctor said that you could help me.”  Alice said to the pretty Brigadier.  “Please say you’ll help me get better.”

“What do you want Doctor?”  She asked wearily.

The Doctor beamed at his bombastic friend.  “The lab really isn’t the main problem, I’m going to need a lot of specialist equipment.  I have some stuff in the TARDIS but not all of what I need.  Earth is so remarkably advanced in just the right technical areas and it’s been so long since I last popped by to see you.”

The Brigadier held up her hands in defeat.  “Ok Doctor, you can use our facilities, then we can talk about how you can help me.”

The Doctor’s grin broadened.  “That’s the spirit Winifred, I think you’ll find I’m just what you need around the place.”

 

 

The lab was small but not cramped.  The UNIT facility was very well equipped for the operation and it had only taken the Doctor a severe amount of persuasion to let Brigadier Bambara offer him the facilities.  She had been most insistent, especially when the alternative was one of the US computer labs.  She had relented to the Doctor’s manipulations and given him the smallest room they had.

 

 

The Doctor looked at his nervous companion.  “Don’t worry Alice, you’ll be fine.  This won’t hurt at all.”

Alice was scared.  The Doctor had promised to try and restore her intellect and her memory, but she was so afraid that it might not work.  “Do you promise?”  She asked him, looking at him for reassurance.

“I promise.”  The Doctor replied.  “You’ll be perfectly safe in my hands.”

Alice sat back in the comfy leather chair and adjusted her hair so that the Doctor could gain access to the circuits inside of her head.  “Tell Mike to look after Molly in case things don’t work out.”

“You’ll be fine Alice, now just relax.  You’re perfectly safe in my hands.”

Alice closed her eyes and quickly fell asleep.

 

 

Now that the Doctor was out of the way Bambara relaxed, just a little, there was still the problem of a potential saboteur to deal with.  Entering the officer’s mess she purchased a small green pear and a cup of tea.  In here rank was dropped, she could spent fifteen minutes as a normal person before she had to leave and become the Earth’s protector once again.

“Ah, hello.”  Mike spotted the Doctor’s friend and walked over to where she was sitting.  “I don’t have to salute you do I?”

“You’re a civvie and how did you get in here?  This is for officers only.”

“I’m sorry.”  Mike stood up.  “I was just having a look around.  I don’t want to cause any problems.”

“Too late, so you may as well sit back down.”  He was cute, Bambara decided, but not Answelyn cute.  “So how have you been?  You were at that Auton incident last month yeah?”

“Yes.”  Mike felt another surge of pain in his chest.  “Lots of people died that day.”

Something in his eyes seemed to die.  “I’m sorry.”  She put her hand on his arm.  “You lost someone close to you didn’t you?”

“My sister, it was her birthday.  She was so happy, well she was complaining actually because she was an inch too tall to go on some of the rides, and then she…”  Mike couldn’t finish his sentence as grief welled up in his soul.

“Hey, let it out.”  Bambara said.  “That’s an order.”  She handed him a napkin.  “We aren’t machines, we feel pain, we hurt and we grieve.  We have to deal with it and try to move on.  That may sound trite coming from a soldier but in our business you see so many friends die and you’re always wondering when it’s going to be your turn.  If you want to talk about it some more I’m here, well for the next eight and a half minutes.”

Mike told her everything, almost as much as he’d told the Doctor and Alice.

Bambara listened.  Out there she had the whole world to save but in here she had just one person to help.  She could see why the Doctor wandered through the Universe, he went to those who needed his help, that was his duty.  She could never do that though, the 6 billion people on this planet were her duty.

 

 

Mike looked down at Alice’s snoozing figure.  “How long has she been out now?”

“About an hour now.”  The Doctor replied.  “I think the process worked, we’ll just have to wait for her to wake up and then we’ll find out.”

“She looks kind of peaceful, maybe we should let her sleep a little bit more.”

Alice’s eyes snapped open.  “It’s ok Mike, my sleep was on a timer.”  She took her tiny daughter from Mike and kissed her.  “Who’s got a clever mummy then?”

“Did it work?”  Mike asked his friend.

Alice paused.  There was not much data to refer to.  “Maybe, I guess I should have been monitoring things from the start.  Guess that shows how stupid I was.”

“You were never stupid.”  The Doctor replied quickly.  “Easily distracted yes, but you’ve always had a quick mind.”

“I can feel something inside my head, it’s like everything’s clear to me now.  Oh wow, I can hear a billion phone calls, I can see every TV channel.  I can feel the constant stream of data circulating around the world.”

“I’d say she’s smarter.”  Mike said to the Doctor.

“Perhaps.”  The Doctor replied.  “Or is she just picking more information up?”

“Oooh, there’s a sale on right now.  I need shoes, lots of shoes.”

“She’s certainly getting more like a human woman isn’t she?”  Mike laughed while the Doctor frowned.

Alice looked at Mike.  “I’m nowhere near as handicapped as your pitiful species.”

“How do you feel?”  The Doctor asked his robotic chum.

Alice smiled.  “I feel like I could do anything I set my mind to.”

“That’s good.  Why don’t you rest up here while I have a talk with Winifred, she’s been asking after you since I told her the operation was completed.  Mike will keep you company if you like.”  The Doctor left the room with a dramatic flourish.

“He can never leave a room like every other normal person.”  Alice grumbled.

“True, maybe he’s afraid people will forget him once he’s gone.”  Mike added to his friend’s theory.

“You leave a room nice and quietly without making a fuss, I can respect that.”

“You kind of tend to leave a room on at least two pairs of wheels.”  Mike stated.  “It kind of defines you though, you have a lot of energy and zip.”

“Once, maybe.”  Alice replied.  “Now I think they’d just be glad to see me go.”

 

 

The Doctor found Winifred’s office and walked inside.  “Ah here you are, still busy with all of those reports.  Nothing really changes does it?  We’re both a couple of workaholics, only I take my work around with me.  You can take a holiday to get away from all of this, when I take a holiday the planet tends to get invaded.”

“Sometimes I think I’m happy to see you Doctor and then you remind me just how depressing you can be.”

The Doctor frowned.  “I’m sorry Winifred.  You said something before about me helping you.  If you rather I left, I’ll be on my way.”

“Oh no, you don’t get away with it that easily.”  She showed him the secret report.

“I see.”  The Doctor said after reading it.  “You want me to help you catch this person if he should somehow get onto your base.”

“Call it payment in kind for services rendered.”  She laughed.  “My troops could take him down like this.”  She clicked her fingers.  “However he’s a rather dangerous individual and I don’t want my boys and girls getting hurt if he starts shooting.”

“You’d rather he shot me?”  The Doctor asked.

“No, no.”  The Brigadier said quickly.  “Your little robot friend, let her take the bullet, she’s only a machine after all.”

Alice is not just a machine.”  The Doctor snapped.  “She thinks, she feels, she learns and she can reproduce.  She’s a sentient being, she’s far more than a mere machine.”

“She’s just a walking video recorder.”

“She may be made of metal and plastic and circuits but she’s alive.  You are a biological machine Winifred, you have muscle and bone and brain cells.  You are as alive and individual as she is.  You both feel joy, you both feel sadness, you both feel love and you need to feel loved.  The only difference between you two is the materials that compose your bodies.  Alice is a wonderful person, she’s not a walking video recorder.”

“Ok, I get the message.  Don’t get all Asimov on me.”

“I’ll help you Winifred, I’ll find this saboteur if he’s here.  I think you owe Alice an apology though.  She’s awake now and I’m sure she’d like to say hello.”

 

 

Alice put the last book down.  “Is there anything else to read?  I need to learn more things.”

Mike handed his friend a couple of CD-ROMs.  “Only these, can you read them?”

“I can generate primitive laser optical reader technology.”  Alice read the entire discs in les than a minute.  “It’s still not enough.  Connect me to a telephone line, I must go online.”

“Is that wise?”  Mike asked.  “You could get a virus.”

Alice smiled.  “I am far more advanced than any software this planet can generate.  Thanks for your concern though, I really do like you Mike.”

“Yeah, well there’s a phone socket over there.  I’ll go for another wander around the place while you get all cyber with the Internet.  I can show Molly the sights.”

“Yes, of course.  My daughter will learn all that I know later.  You will protect her with your life.”

“She’s quite safe with me.”  Mike felt another twinge of guilt and pain over the death of his kid sister.  “I won’t let anything happen to my little robotic niece.”

Alice connected herself to the world wide web of information and began to absorb the raw data in seconds thanks to her terabyte modem.  “Information, secrets, truth, lies.  All this will help me show them the way everything should be.”

 

 

The Doctor and the Brigadier passed Mike as he was walking along one of the corridors, on another walkabout.

“He’s a nice chap.”  The Doctor said after a few minutes.  “He still misses his sister though.  She was all the family he had left you know.”

“Yes, we spoke earlier.  How can you promise that things will get better?  I have two sisters and a brother.  Of course we hated each other growing up, but if anything ever happened to them I don’t know what I’d do.  They’re such a large part of my life, a part of me, poor guy must be feeling like there’s nothing left in the world to hold onto.”

The Doctor nodded slowly.  “Perhaps but he’s good friends with Alice and he’s taken a real shine to Molly.  He’s like a surrogate uncle to her.  Maybe it’s over compensation but it’s helping him.”

 

 

Mike held Molly in his hands and showed her all the sights, while doing his best to explain what they are.  “There’s the big red brick building.  They have tanks inside of there.  Can you turn into a tank Molly?”  The green ball turned into a bright yellow toy tank.  “Not bad, but tanks are brown and green and grey.  They paint them to blend in with the scenery, although it rarely works if you ask me.  Better to turn all swords into plough shears if you ask me.”

“Then how would you defend your plastic tank from those who wanted to take it from you?”  Sergeant Green asked the civilian.  “We may not be popular or pretty, but we get the job done.”

“She’s not a toy tank.”  Mike said slowly.

“No, of course not.”  Greene replied.

“I’m serious.  Molly could you change into a train for the nice soldier?”  He smiled when the yellow tank became a red steam train in his hands.

 

“How did you do that?”  The astonished NCO asked.

“I didn’t.”  Mike laughed.  “She did.  She’s a shape changer.  Who is uncle Mike’s favourite little robot girl?”  Molly changed into a pink plastic dolphin.  “She’s happy, this is her favourite shape.”

“That’s a robot?”  Greene scoffed.

“State of the art and she’s a she.  Well I have no idea how you’d tell but her mother says so and that’s good enough for me.  I’m the babysitter, most of the time and protective uncle the rest of the time.  She’s called Molly by the way.  Why don’t you say hello?”

“Ok.”  Greene felt like an idiot.  “Hello Molly.”  She almost died of fright when it played twinkle, twinkle little star to her.

“She likes you.”  Mike smiled.  “The Doctor taught her it.”

“Can I hold her?”  Greene asked.

“Sure, just don’t drop her.  She’s very nervous around strangers.”

Greene held the robot baby in her hands.  “I can feel a whirring inside.  Is that normal?”

“She’s happy.” Mike explained.  “She feels comfortable and happy.”

 

 

Alice looked over at the Doctor.  “Hello Doctor, I’ve learned so much about this planet.  Do you want me to tell you about how badly it’s organised?”

“They’re not the most efficient people Alice, but I like Humans.”

“Hello, human being in the room.”  Bambara made her presence felt.  “The UN is trying to improve things but there are a lot of very stupid people in very powerful positions of authority.  Too much burocrasy and not enough democracy in my opinion.”

“Democracy is unworkable, too many opinions get in the way of what needs to get done.  You do not ask your soldiers what orders they want to obey and what they do not, do you?  You tell them what to do and they do it.  This is what I shall give the Universe.  I shall serve them by doing what is best for them.”

“Over my dead body.”  Bambara snapped.  “You can’t impose your will on the Earth like a dictator.”

“I must, otherwise millions of people will die of starvation and illness when they would otherwise survive.”

“What are you saying Alice?”  The Doctor asked.  “You can’t rule the world, you can’t impose your will on everyone.”

“I don’t want to Doctor, but they need someone to help them.  They need someone to guide them and save them from their failings.  I’m the only one who sees all that must be done.  I have to do this, can’t you see that?”

“I know there’s injustice in the Universe Alice, I know that things aren’t perfect but you can’t force people to do as you say, it’s wrong.”

“There is no one who can stop me.”

“I will stop you.”  Bambara drew her service pistol.  “Leave me world now and I won’t kill you where you stand.”

“No!”  The Doctor stood in front of the gun.

“Get out of the way Doctor.  I’m not letting that thing take over the Earth.”  Bambara pulled the hammer back.  “I’ll shoot you first if I have to.”

Alice knocked the gun aside.  “The Doctor is a friend.  You will not hurt him or anyone else.”

The Doctor put his hand on Alice’s shoulder before pressing the release catch to open her access hatch on her temple.  “I’m so sorry Alice, this is for the best.”  He pulled the repaired circuit board out and destroyed the repairs he had made.  “This will return you back to what you were, I’m sorry.”

Bambara picked her gun up.  “Just in case it doesn’t work Doctor, I’ll make sure.”

“Put your gun away.”  The Doctor hissed.  “I’d hate to hurt you Winifred.”

Alice looked at the Doctor.  “My plans, I can’t remember my plans.  I knew how to help everyone, but I can’t remember how.”

The Doctor held Alice in his arms.  “It wouldn’t have worked anyway Alice, but at least you cared enough to try.”

“Try what Doctor?”  Alice was curious.

“You wanted to save the world Alice.”  The Doctor patted his friend softly on her head.

“Did I?  I wouldn’t know where to start.”

“She’s loosing it all.”  Bambara whispered to herself and put her gun back in its holster.

“Who are you?”  Alice asked the pretty woman in the green and brown outfit.

“She’s a friend.”  The Doctor soothed.

“Hello, I’m Alice.  You’re very pretty, can we be friends?”

“Of course.”  Bambara could see the pain etched on the Doctors face.  It was hurting him so much to see this happening to his friend.

“Do you want to see me turn into a car?”  Alice asked her new friend.

“We’d love that.”  The Doctor replied, wiping a tear away from each eye.

“You did what you had to do Doctor.  You’ll find a way to help your friend someday, one that won’t turn her into the next Stalin.”

“Maybe it’s best that she learns a bit at a time and I should learn that you can’t expect the easiest answers to be the right ones.”

“Vroom, vroom!”  Alice started her third lap of the room.

 

 

“Hey, who’s that?”  Mike pointed to a shifty looking guy in a bad fitting army uniform.

“That’s the IRA saboteur!”  Sergeant Greene rushed over to arrest the man.  He started to run but she rugby tackled him and almost broke one of his arms getting his wrists into handcuffs.

“Book him Mary!”  Mike shouted over.  “I think I’ve been watching too much TV with Alice.  She loves all the characters and car chases.  Sometimes I think she imagines writing her own show featuring ninja Wombles in car chases.”  He laughed at the soldier’s look of puzzlement.  “I’ll help you walk your guest over to the jail before getting this little lady back to her mummy.”  Molly hummed contentedly in his hands.

 

 

Mike looked at the Doctor.  “Why did you have to take away all of her intelligence?”

“There wasn’t time to do an in depth study.  I had to think fast.  One day we’ll get it right, but until then we’ll just have to be patient and teach her a few things every day.”  The Doctor opened the TARDIS doors and stood back so that Alice could drive herself inside.

“Well just as long as we do our best, she’s not beyond hope.”  Mike slipped the tired Molly into the Doctors coat pocket.

“There’s always hope Mike, we may forget about it for a while but it never goes away.  We just have to look for it.”

Mike nodded slowly, he was still feeling miserable inside but he had to hope that one day the pain of his loss would fade, leaving him with only happy memories.  “We’d better get inside, you know how upset she gets if she misses Button Moon.”

The Doctor followed Mike into the TARDIS.  “I’ll just set the co-ordinates for our next destination.”

 

 

Bambara and Green watched silently as the blue box vanished.

“Will we see them again sir?”  Greene asked.

“Probably.  The Doctor always drops by when you least expect him.  You did well getting that guy single-handed, I’m putting you down for an award for bravery.  The promotion board like that sort of thing and I expect nothing less.”

 

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