The atmosphere was one of fear, of tension and of hope. Several of the medical staff crowded around the bed containing a woman of middle age, her body soaked with sweat, her face contorted into a mask of pain, her body writhing and thrashing. The sound that issued from her throat was like a cry of a feral beast. Nurses attempted to calm the woman whilst doctors, their surgical gowns splashes with blood, attempted to carry out their tasks.
Suddenly, a new sound joined that of the others, this one cry but unlike the wild and agonised cry of the woman, this sound was pure and almost innocent. The crowd of onlookers collectively gasped and held their breath, the noise died away until the calming words of the nurses urging the woman to take slow, deep, natural breaths and the doctors informing her to push could be heard. After a short while one of the doctors held up a small baby and turning to the woman said:
'Congratulations, Jane, it's a girl.'
The wave of joy that spread over the woman's face was mirrored in the reaction of the crowd, some shouting their congratulations, others crying and some laughing with wonder and relief.
'Typical.' Sam muttered to himself. Half of the colony was gathered at the infirmary to support his sister through her labour and here he was patrolling the damn perimeter. And all because of some stupid blip that had shown up on the radar scanners last night. Regulations said that it had to be checked out even though it was probably just a glitch in the computer's software or a meteor that had, like most, failed to burn up in the thin atmosphere of this remote colony world. After all, it was the fifth one this month and non of the others had turned out to be anything exciting.
All of a sudden the radio inside the helmet of Sam's environmental suit clicked into life and a voice said: 'Sam, this is Dr. Fred Bates over at the infirmary. Your sister's had a baby girl and they're both fine. She says she's going to name her Minardi.'
Sam flipped on his transmitter and replied, 'Thanks for letting me know Doc. Listen, could you tell Jane congratulations and that'll be over just as soon as I finish this patrol.'
'Sure, will do, Sam. Oh and Sam, congratulations on becoming an uncle. Bates out.'
Sam let a smile spread over his face as a wave of excitement and joy swept through him. 'Me!
An uncle!' he said to himself. Typical of Jane to get caught up in the history of it all and name Minardi's first native after the planet itself.
Sam was just thinking about this when he caught sight of movement by a rock wall about a mile ahead of him. He began to walk towards the wall flipping his transmitter on as he went. 'This is Sam to base, can you read me, Jim?' he asked.
'Yeah, this is Jim, what's up, Sam?'
'I just thought I saw something moving out here, Jim, right by one of the rock formations near marker fifty-one. It could just have been a dust cloud but I'm going to check it out.'
'Okay, Sam, just be careful okay? With that blip last night...'
'Come off it Jim, you know as well as I do that that was just a fault with the radar.'
'Yeah, sure thing, Sam. Listen, just keep in touch. Oh and Sam, congratulations.'
'Thanks, Jim. Sam out.' he said flipping off his transmitter.
It took a while to arrive at the rock wall but when he got there he couldn't see any sign of life but that wasn't surprising as the barren surface of Minardi Prime consisted only of rocks with a little dust for good measure. There was no mud for the racks to be left in or bushes to be disturbed. Sam began to make his way around the wall.
As he did so, a large metallic object came into view. 'Oh Christ,' muttered Sam, as he flipped his transmitter on. 'Jim, this is Sam again. Listen, there's something out here, it's a ship of some kind. I'm going to investigate...'
As Sam crumpled to the ground, his chest feeling as though it were on fire due to the fact that his rib cage had just been shattered and his lungs crushed by a fist of steel, his last thoughts were of how he would never see his new niece,
'Sam, Sam are you there? Sam can you read me?' Jim called frantically into his microphone. He flipped to another frequency and said in a slightly calmer voice: 'Harry, this is Jim. Listen, Sam's not responding. He was telling me that he'd just found something that looked like a ship when he was cut off in mid-sentence. His transmitter's still on, but he's not responding. Take Squad B over there and see what's going on.'
A voice with an unusually strong Scandinavian accent came over the radio, 'Okay, Jim, we'll get right on it. He's probably just tripped over in the excitement and knocked himself out.'
'Okay, Harry, but arm the Squad, just in case. Jim out.'
'Professor,' Ace moaned, 'Where are we going?'
'I thought I'd already told you.' the Doctor replied as he dashed around the main console of the TARDIS.
Ace sighed to herself thinking how absent minded the Doctor had been lately before she continued: 'No. You said that you'd tell me where we were going when we were sure that we were going to get there alright. Since then, you've been fiddling with the controls.'
'Fiddling!' the Doctor spun round and glared at her. 'I don not fiddle, I have been making precise adjustments to our course. Arriving at exactly the correct time and place is very tricky business!'
'Alright, calm down, Professor, I was only joking.'
Good!' said the Doctor as he turned back to the console and began pressing buttons and studying dials seemingly at random.
Ace watched him for a few minutes before saying, 'Well?'
The Doctor merely said, 'Hmmm,' as he continued with his calculations.
'Professor! Don't you ever listen to what I say?' Ace cried in exasperation.
The Doctor looked up from the console, rolling his eyes. 'Alright, we're going to the planet Minardi to see an old friend.' he said as returned his attention to the console.
'Where's that and who's that?' Ace asked.
The Doctor stood up sharply and glared at her. 'Really, Ace, it's impossible to work with you around. Alright then I suppose we may as well sit and chat until we arrive.' He moved over to one of the armchairs that he'd recently moved into the control room.
Ace followed flopping into the chair promptly, 'And?', as the Doctor leant his head back and closed his eyes.
'Hmmm? Oh yes, the planet Minardi. It's a remote colony world established in 2693 with three thousand colonists. They mine tribarium there which is highly volatile explosive, used to make various weapons like bombs and missiles. Really, humanity does seem to have a fascination with destruction. If they only took the time to research things thoroughly, they'd also find that tribarium, if refined correctly, makes a very careful cure for Pilvarin, a very nasty virus that keeps popping up on a lot of their trading colonies.'
Ace interrupted him before he could start a lecture on the sins of humanity. 'Your friend, Professor?'‘Ah yes, my friend, Jane Davis. I met her twice both a very long time ago. The first time I was taking a holiday on Earth. I met a remarkable young woman, very intelligent and also very pretty-' he broke off as Ace smiled. 'That was merely an observation, Ace! We had many stimulating conversations.'
'I bet you did,' Ace replied sarcastically.
'Really, Ace, I thought that you had a better opinion of me than that.'
'Come on, Professor, we're all human.'
'Oh, now you really are being insulting. We were friends, that's all, and besides, she was in a serious relationship.' he said wistfully before continuing, 'I met her several years later - well, two to her. It was when the medics arrived with the transport to carry them onto Minardi Prime that she found out she was three months pregnant. I promised to drop in when her baby was born and that was six months ago. Or longer, depending on your perspective.'
'So, that's why we're going then?' Ace asked, turning to look at the control console as the TARDIS landed.
The Doctor stood and walked to flip on the scanner saying: ' Yes, today is the day Jane's baby is born.'