27: The Nethersphere

Shakira and Ursula gazed out of their windows as they shot through the Time Vortex in Ursula’s blue ‘Chevrolet’. As they were going to see Farrah, both of them were thinking about what they were doing for her this time, which often wasn’t easy because of her delicate health and complicated medical history.

“HEY!” Shakira was suddenly interrupted by lightning striking the Chevrolet and then a sensation of them being sucked out of the Vortex, much different to when she or Ursula flew themselves out of their own free will.

“What is going on?” Ursula said to both Shakira and herself as they checked for any problems with her ship. They found nothing except for some message about a distress call, and soon crashed into a city street. Neither of them were familiar with this strange place; it was a city resembling many of those on ‘developed’ planets inhabited by humanoids, but instead of a sky, the city just kept going on in every direction! Unlike every other planet they knew of, it was not on the surface but on the inside of a sphere. “Are you alright?” Ursula asked, as Shakira blinked several times, like she was trying to figure out if this was real or not.

“Yes, are you? Where are we?”

“I am alright, but I don’t know…I’ve never heard of this planet or any world that is inside out.” After Ursula parked her car/ship in a less disruptive and conspicuous place, both women stepped out to explore with the hope of finding out where they were and what brought them there. Certain types of emergency distress calls were known to suck people out of the Vortex into worlds they weren’t intending on travelling to, but neither of them knew for sure what was happening. What danger could possibly lie in a world so hard to reach?

“Salaam, my friend and I got lost in the Time Vortex, where are we?” Shakira asked a beautiful woman with blonde curls. Her hope of finding an answer was temporarily shattered, as the woman replied back with something in English and the translation software in Ursula’s ship was down. While she could speak Spanish, and even German, and communicate across the Middle East from India and her Pashtun ancestral lands up to Turkey, English was not something a Theran learnt unless they were living in one of only five countries that spoke it. Ursula then stepped in and repeated what Shakira had said in German.

“This is the Nethersphere!” was the answer, which Ursula translated back.

[“What? The world where many souls have been uploaded to, instead of being allowed to reach heaven? I thought it was just a myth!”]

“No, it’s real, but I don’t know how anyone living could get in here”, the woman replied.

“My ship said it was an emergency distress signal, some types can pull unsuspecting crafts out of the Vortex so they have no choice but to rescue the sender.”

“Okay now that’s just unbelievable, I’ve tried to contact Earth several times but nothing’s gotten through”, the woman folded her arms. “You’re probably just dead.”

Annoyed at her scepticism, Ursula turned around to the sound of a young woman with glasses running towards them, and a much calmer man with a short beard and ‘matching’ hair trailing behind her. She had her brown hair in a ponytail, and was wearing a white coat and bow tie; the man had no unusual features and was just in normal street clothes, but was quite handsome really.

“Excuse me, but was that your ship that crashed?” bow-tie woman asked.

“Yes it was, how did you know?”

Bow-tie shot out her hand. “Osgood, ma’am”, she introduced herself, shaking both Ursula’s and Shakira’s hands.

[“Was it you who sent the distress signal?”]

“Yes…I don’t know where I am!” Osgood replied after translation. “Someone killed me, I think, and now I’m here and I don’t know what’s happening!”

Ursula rested her hand on the strange woman’s shoulder, looking concerned. “You couldn’t call us so we could fly here and know what is going on?”

“No, it wasn’t strong enough to communicate and pull you in here, no one can pilot themselves into the Nethersphere.”

[“If communication is difficult enough then how do you know if we are able to leave this place?”] asked Shakira.

“Danny…he sent someone back to Earth with a bracelet…I don’t know what it was…but I know that we can leave, and even if we are dead we’ll have our bodies back as soon as we leave.” She gestured to the man behind her. “This is Danny, he wants to go home too, now that he’s just LEARNT SOMETHING REALLY IMPORTANT THAT HE SHOULD HAVE KNOWN EARLIER!”

“Salaam aleikum, Danny”, Shakira said as Ursula also greeted him.

Danny didn’t look very sure of himself. “Yeah, hi, I did send someone back to Earth when I found out that he’d be brought back to life.”

“And what were you told by Clara’s mother, who’s been watching her more than you have?”

“My girlfriend is pregnant!” he said with mixed emotions.

Ursula translated everything to Shakira. [“She is pregnant with your baby? I heard rumours that it was The Doctor’s baby.”]

“Nah, have you seen his face now? She wouldn’t go for that. Look, we want to get out of here as soon as possible, I don’t have time to talk about gossip.”

“That is okay with us”, Ursula replied, “neither of us want to be here either. We are parked in the alley, just down the road.”

The four of them walked back to Ursula’s ship, with the sceptical blonde looking on, then going off to someplace else.

“A Chevy? Nice”, was Danny’s reaction to seeing her ship. “I thought they just came as phone boxes.”

“I see Chevys are cool now too, like bow ties”, Osgood agreed.

[“My TARDIS is in the form of a mahogany Victorian closet, they can come in any shape, but Ursula’s ship is not a TARDIS because it is not bigger on the inside”] Shakira added, as Ursula hadn’t stopped translating.

“Victorian? I know someone who would have liked that.” Osgood was thinking of the eighth version of The Doctor, who she wanted to meet, because she thought he was the best looking and most romantic, but didn’t know what it would do to the time line.

Ursula started her ‘Chevy’. “Alright I need to reach a certain speed before we enter the Vortex, I suppose I will just fly around the inside since we cannot go into space.” Danny quickly found some appropriate music on her radio, the last few minutes of November Rain. As Slash prepared to start his wailing guitar riff, the Chevrolet began to reach the speed which would allow them into the Time Vortex. Closer and closer they became, until everything around them was a blur to the sound of Slash and the rest of the band giving it all they’ve got. “Everybody needs somebody, you’re not the only one, you’re not the only one!” Guns n Roses sang as the four entered the Time Vortex.

[“They are from Earth number 1963, if The Doctor’s companions are from the same planet”] Shakira told Ursula. She smiled back and said, [“I know that from working on Terminus, I didn’t need to read it in the Intergalactic Enquirer.”]

[“No, I read the article about Clara being pregnant and the Cybermen attacking in The Nebula.”] Shakira’s taste for trashy tabloids was a guilty pleasure she shared with her twin sister, and did not often discuss it with anyone else. Ursula refrained from explaining their conversation to Osgood and Danny, and just said that they knew where to go. Soon enough, they had arrived back on Earth, landing this time in the grounds of a primary school, an inconspicuous place seeing as it was the weekend.

“Do you know where to go from here?” Ursula asked them.

Osgood looked around, while Danny was still mentally freaking out over being a father. “Yeah this was my school! I can call UNIT anyway; come on Danny”, she said excitedly, snapping him out of his semi-coherent internal monologue. They got out of the Chevrolet ship, Osgood calling UNIT to get picked up once they were out of the school.

Shakira turned to her friend. “That was…interesting.”

“And now you know not to believe everything you see in tabloids.”

She blushed. “HEY! I don’t believe most of what I read in the tabloids! Me and my sister just read them to make fun of them.”

Ursula laughed. “Shall we go to see Farrah now or do you want to make sure they are safe?”

“I am sure they will be fine, the woman with the bow tie knows what she is doing now that she is home….and besides I want to see Farrah.” Despite time travel removing the issue of running late, she still didn’t want to be late on her time as she found it quite rude.

“Okay then.” Ursula set the co-ordinates and started the engines, trying to refrain from teasing Shakira about her love of tabloids. “And we are off…”