For once, the Doctor managed to get to the right place at the right time. He threw open the TARDIS doors and held out his hand as River flew gracefully towards him. He caught her, but the force with which the air corridor was propelling her towards the police box made him stumble and they collapsed in a heap on the floor. Evie, not as graceful as her mother, crashed through the doors and landed on top of them with a thud.
"Doctor?" Amy asked, folding her arms and staring down at the tangle of people lying on the TARDIS floor.
"Amy!" Evie exclaimed, standing up with a wince and rubbing her wrist which had smashed into the grid-like flooring as she fell.
"Evie?" Amy replied, looking totally confused. "But you were just…"
"River?" The Doctor murmured, looking at the woman who was still sprawled on top of him.
She winked, before hauling herself up and turning to look through the open doorway. A spaceship was clearly visible, not to mention audible, heading away from them at speed; its engines roaring as extra fuel was added.
"Follow that ship!" She commanded.
At once the Time Lord was on the case, leaping to the console and kicking her into life. River and Evie joined him at the controls, ignoring the annoyed look on his face and moving around each other naturally.
"They've gone into warp drive!" River exclaimed, clinging to the scanner as the TARDIS shifted and lurched uncomfortably. Evie stumbled, annoyed at herself for losing her footing and clung on tightly. "We're losing them! Stay close!"
"I'm trying!" The Doctor snapped, not liking being told what to do.
"They're increasing their speed by four times a minute. We're gonna have to boost the power to keep up." Evie pointed out, looking around the central column expectantly. "Use the stabilisers?"
River nodded. "Use the stabilisers!" She ordered.
"She doesn't have stabilisers!" The Doctor argued. Evie rolled her eyes at her mother and shook her head, flicking several dials to the right and pulling hard on a large orange lever.
"The blue switches." River pointed out agitatedly as they were flung around violently by the motion of the time machine.
"The blue ones don't do anything, they're just… blue!"
"Oh, for fu–" Evie started, but a large jolt sent her flying into Amy. One of her shoes, which she'd hung off one of the cables which were attached to the central column detached itself and came straight towards her head. The young woman only just managed to duck in time, before the stiletto heel lodged itself in her head.
"Yes, they're blue!" River cried with a sigh, barely able to take her eyes of the controls. "They're the blue stabilisers!" She leant over and switched them on, much to the Doctor's annoyance. At once the TARDIS calmed down and they were all able to stand upright without clinging onto the console. "See."
"Yeah…" The Doctor shrugged, looking even more annoyed that she was right. River padded over to Evie, both of them barefoot, checking that she was alright. The girl rolled her eyes and retrieved her shoe quickly, returning it to the cable. "Well… it's just boring now, isn't it? They're boringers… they're blue boringers."
River shook her head and smirked, still using the controls to ensure they were on course to track the spaceship. Evie twirled around, tapping buttons and keeping the levels steady to ensure they wouldn't have the same problem again. Amy leant towards the Doctor so she could whisper in his ear. Apparently she wanted to know how they knew how to fly the time machine.
"You call THAT flying the TARDIS? HA!" He exclaimed furiously.
Evie giggled at his anger and carried on what she was doing without even glancing up. The Doctor moved to stand beside her, watching her actions over her shoulder and tutting every now and then to display his displeasure. She turned and fixed him with an irritated glare until he wandered away.
"OK… I've mapped the probability vectors, done a fold-back on the temporal isometry, charted the ship to its destination and..." River paused to hit the final button as Evie leant over and lowered the landing lever quickly, "parked us right alongside."
"Et voilà!" Evie exclaimed with a grin, folding her arms over her chest and fixing Amy and the Doctor with a satisfied smirk.
"Parked us?" The Doctor asked in disbelief. "We haven't landed."
"Of course we've landed. I just landed her."
"But… it didn't make the noise…" The Doctor pointed out in a quieter voice, looking between the three women.
"You know the…" He proceeded to do an impression of the wheezing noise that the TARDIS emitted when he attempted to land her. Evie snorted with laughter, unable to help herself.
"It's not supposed to make that noise." River told him accusingly. "YOU leave the breaks on."
"It's really not healthy for her." Evie chipped in, patting the console and pushing past the Doctor. He looked far from happy at being lectured on his own spaceship by these women.
"Yeah, well, it's a brilliant noise… I love that noise."
"Such a child…" Evie muttered shaking her head and retrieving her shoes.
The Doctor glared at her. "Come along, Pond. Let's have a look."
"No! Wait, environment checks!" River shouted quickly, pulling the scanner towards her. Evie moved around to look at the scanner screen as well. Amy shot her a strange look as Evie rested a hand on River's shoulder. The younger woman noticed out of the corner of her eye and quickly removed it.
The Doctor stopped on his way to the door. "Oh, yes… Sorry! Quite right… environment checks." Then he turned and opened the doors wide, sticking his head outside. "Nice out."
"We're somewhere in the Garn belt. There's an atmosphere; early indications suggest that–" River started.
"We're on Alfalfa Matraxis." The Doctor cut in, almost lazily. River stopped and stared at the screen in front of her, clearly reading the words that he had spoken. She looked somewhere between astonished and annoyed. "The seventh planet of the Dundra System; oxygen rich atmosphere, all toxins in the soft band, eleven hour day and… chances of rain later."
The three women at the console turned to stare at him. Amy looked confused, River looked put out and Evie was doing her best to control her features and not show that she was impressed. The Doctor didn't need his ego inflated any more than it already was.
"He thinks he's so hot when he does that." River told Amy in a low voice.
The red-head laughed softly. "How come you can fly the TARDIS?"
"Oh… I had lessons from the very best." The woman said, looking meaningfully at her. Evie raised an eyebrow, moving slowly around the console and trailing her hand over the controls. She had put her shoes back on and her heels clicked softly on the floor beneath her feet.
The Doctor looked pleased with himself. "Well… yeah."
"It's a shame you were busy that day!" River called over her shoulder, causing the Doctor to pull a face and look slightly abashed.
"And you!" Amy pounced on Evie, folding her arms over her chest and raising an eyebrow. "You were standing next to me one minute and then you were flying through those doors!"
"Eh?" Evie looked confused.
Amy sighed. "Where did you disappear off to after that whole shooting the other you business? All the Doctor told me was that you'd had a message and had to leave. That was about two months ago."
The brunette smirked. "Things to do, people to see."
"Seriously, Evie. Where've you been?" Amy pressed, looking genuinely concerned. Her eyes flicked to River, before returning to her friend. Evie glanced down. "Who's that?"
"You know… here and there." She replied evasively, not commenting on the second question Amy had asked.
Sensing that the conversation was about to get difficult, River cut in. "Right… why did they land here?" She headed towards the doors, her bag in one hand and her shoes clutched in the other. The Doctor followed, leaving the two younger women to bring up the rear.
"They didn't land." He said, almost smugly.
"You should've checked the Home Box." The Doctor told her, almost imperially, finally feeling as though he were back in control of the situation. "It crashed."
River and Evie exited the TARDIS first. The younger woman's mouth dropped open at the sight that greeted her eyes. River gasped slightly, but then caught herself and pulled out her hand-held computer, taking readings from the massive scene of devastation that stretched out in front of them. The Doctor had been right; the spaceship had definitely crashed, apparently into some kind of building cut from the rock itself.
The sound of the TARDIS doors slamming shut as they stood in silence made them jump. Evie turned to see if the Doctor and Amy were behind them and saw no one. She sighed, but turned back to face the rubble that stretched away into the distance. Flames were licking around the ruined ship and billows of acrid black smoked poured from it.
The parts of their bodies that were facing the wreckage were hot, the heat from the flames keeping them warm. Their backs, however, were freezing; the wind that whipped at their hair and dresses chilling them to the bone. It was an odd sensation.