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Doctor Who: Heist Interrupted
Warcraft_Undead
efkelley
Alas, I did not win the Big Finish 'Short Trips' competition. Congratulations to all those that did!

And, being a Doctor Who story, I can't really sell the thing anywhere else. So, here it is as 'fanfic', not for sale, not for profit, etc and so on.

***

Heist Interrupted
by EF Kelley

Romana counted their place in queue and sighed. “Doctor, how much longer must we endure this banality?”

The Doctor smiled. “Don't tell me that the inestimable Romanadvoratrelundar finds herself thwarted by a simple bank queue.”

“Gamma Hydra is the most advanced world in this time frame,” Romana waved to the golden world beyond the lobby's thick glass. “There are four automatons to every organic. There should be no queue.”

“Well, bureaucracy is as bureaucracy does, even on a world run by machines. Anyway, I'm not making an electronic transaction. For those of us with safe deposit boxes, some physicality must be humored.”

“What could you possibly keep in safe deposit that won't keep in the TARDIS?”

The Doctor shrugged. “Even a TARDIS has some perishables requiring timely replacement for proper function. Safe deposits here are dead-locked, neutron-locked, and, above all, securely locked. A single electron wouldn't decay in there. Anyway, you needn't wait with me. I shouldn't be more than another hour.”

She tossed her hair. “And leave a man of your years untended? Wait, what perishables?”

“Vital supplies!” The Doctor threw up his hands. “Believe me, Romana, the TARDIS can't go anywhere until I get at my safe deposit.” The Doctor paused. “Oh, hello, do we know you?” he asked the man queued in front of Romana.

He was tall, dressed in an archaic black duster and wide-brimmed hat that might look more at home under open blue sky than the stark black-and-silver of the bank lobby. He looked up from his datapad. “Not at all, sir,” he said in an unhurried drawl that Romana thought the Doctor had described once as 'Southern'. Although 'south' of what, he had never said. The man locked eyes with Romana. “I'm certain I would remember making the acquaintance of such an intoxicating raven-haired beauty.” The datapad beeped. “But, if I may be so bold as to skirt the boundaries of decorum, I must take my leave.” He touched his hat with a nod, but his smile vanished when he looked to step towards the bank doors. He quickly turned back to the line.

The Doctor looked, eyes widened. “I say, that's a rather large robot.”

A monstrous black-and-white automaton ducked its head to enter the bank, blocking out one of the golden suns. Its featureless, armored face had only a small grille for the mouth. The robot's blue and red shoulder lights whirled to life. It drew its blaster and fired two crackling electro-blasts into the air. “Stop! Police!” it boomed. The air filled with cries from the panicked customers. “All suspects: get down on the floor! Failure to comply shall result in summary judgment!”

A blue-tinted girl at the back of the line shrieked, “Not again!” and ran, looked back, and tripped over the Doctor's long-trailing scarf. She spun, fell, and pulled the Doctor down with her.

Romana crouched on obsidian tiles beside the white and blue pile of Doctor and girl. The man in black madly worked his datapad.

“All suspects: remain quiet!” Two more warning shots seared the air.

“Get off! Get off!” Blue Tint shoved at the Doctor. “I can't be arrested again!”

The police-bot's voice droned. “All suspects are bound by the authority of Justicon Eight Four Four. Accusation: grand theft. All suspects: remain present until explicitly released.” The robot stomped towards the nearest man huddled around his knees. “Suspect one: Stand. State your name and species.”

The Doctor flopped free of the blue girl and looked at Romana. “Ever seen anything like that before?”

“Can't say I have,” she said.

“I take it y'all are strangers to these parts,” the man said. “Justicons they're named, though their particular 'justice' is but a poor parody of the word.”

Blue Tint wept. “We won't be seen for years.”

“I say, that's an interesting observation,” the Doctor said. “Tell me, a moment ago you said 'not again'. Is this a regular occurrence at this bank?”

“Oh you don't understand. If it doesn't find the robber, it'll arrest us all!”

“What? Everyone?”

The man spoke through clenched teeth. “You must understand that the authorities believe it preferential to punish the guilty, even if it means the innocent must suffer, and the manner of arrest falls on the far side of cruel and unusual. We'll be molecularized and electronically imprisoned as conscious constructs to await due process. Due process can take years.”

“I see,” the Doctor said. “Solitary confinement without all the comforts.” He thought about it and nodded soberly. “Well this is terrible! I'll have to switch banks.”

Romana's mouth dropped open. “Doctor, didn't you hear what they said?”

“Well, of course, I did, Romana! There's nothing I fear more in this universe than paperwork. All those awkward questions like 'date of birth' and 'means of employment.'”

The Justicon loomed over the prone Doctor. “Suspect eleven: Stand. State your name and species.”

The Doctor leaped to his feet and shot out a hand. “Hello there! I'm the Doctor, this is Romana, listen, you weren't really planning on arresting everyone here were you, because, you see, it's somewhat rare for the phrase 'stop police!' to elicit panic in ones citizens, and I just don't think that particular response is the sort of message that a respected peace officer should convey, and what do you think about it?”

“Name: Doctor. State your species.”

The Doctor dropped his hand. “Touche.”

“We're Time Lords,” Romana said, standing.

“Warning: Perjury is punishable by summary judgment.”

The Doctor smiled widely. “I wonder if I might speak to your programmers--”

“Scanning. Dual vascular system. Parallel brainwave frequencies. Accuracy of assertion: probable. Potential motive for theft: low.”

“Well, that's a switch,” the Doctor said.

“Suspect twelve identified: Romana. Species: Time Lord.” The Justicon turned toward Blue Tint. “Suspect Thirteen: stand. State your name and species.”

Blue Tint sobbed into clenched fists.

“Repeat: Stand. State your name and species. Failure to comply is punishable by summary judgment.”

The Doctor shoved his head between them. “Hello again, it's me, the Doctor. Tell me, Officer Four-- or do you prefer Officer Four Four?”

The Justicon ignored the Doctor. “Final warning: Stand. State your name and species.”

Blue Tint found her feet and took a deep breath. “Angelice Martiga. Human.”

“Scanning: single vascular system. Limited brainwave activity. Alert: Angelice Martiga: wanted for outstanding motorized conveyance fines and failure to report for processing. Prepare for arrest.”

“I'm getting the money!” Angelice cried. “Why do you think I'm here?”

“There, you see?” the Doctor said. “How about us low-motive Time Lords just pop her back a couple of weeks to straighten this out?”

“Suspect: make your statement.”

“But I was going to pay!” Angelice wailed. “My parents were sick! They needed the money first!”

“Statement recorded.” The Justicon raised an empty hand, palm out.

“Now, hold on--” the Doctor said.

White energy engulfed Angelice. Her back arched, her mouth and eyes wide in a silent scream as her body dissolved into a billion shining motes of energy, absorbed into the Justicon's hand.

“Arrest: complete.”

The Doctor stared at the Justicon. “You and I won't get along at all, will we?”

“Suspect Fourteen: Stand. State your name and species.”

The man in black stood, eyes icy. “My dear officer, you may address me as John Henry Holliday, a simple human,” he said.

The Doctor and Romana traded a glance.

“Scanning: single vascular system. Limited brainwave activity. Alert: potentially illicit device detected. Remove datapad from anterior dermal covering.”

Holliday pulled the silver pad from his front coat pocket. “Officer, I can assure you this is nothing more than a tool. A potential avenue of investigation suggests itself, if I might be so bold. Connecting this to your command interface would allow for a direct and rapid inspection.”

“Procedure: unnecessary. Scan: complete. No illicit material detected.” The Justicon stomped towards the next suspect.

Holliday aimed the pad at a white panel at the small of the Jussticon's back and pressed a button. Nothing happened. He pressed it twice more. His mouth narrowed and he began tapping at the datapad again.

“I say,” the Doctor said, “that really was a remarkable exchange there, wasn't it? Romana, didn't you find it a remarkable exchange?”

“Indeed.” She crossed her arms.

“Sir, if y'all would allow me a moment of necessary concentration, I might resolve this dilemma to everyone's satisfaction,” Holliday said.

“Everyone except poor Angelice, that is, hm?” the Doctor said.

“My good sir, that poor young woman sits at the front of a very long list of individuals who have deserved far better from their government. Now, I must work.”

“I'd oblige ordinarily, but I'd prefer you explain why you attempted this robbery in the first place.”

The man's eyes sought the Justicon, now on the far side of the room. “Sir, I must protest my innocence!” he whispered. “What would make you cast such rancorous aspersions?”

“Well, it's rather obvious isn't it? You robbed the bank and returned the funds when His Robotic Honor there stomped in. I just can't fathom why someone so opposed to draconian justice would jeopardize others for the sake of money.”

Romana said, “Or why an android would even need money.”

“Or why an android-- What?” The Doctor looked at her.

“Madam, you can't possibly believe that,” Holliday said.

“Oh, tread lightly, good sir,” the Doctor warned. “She's terribly brilliant.”

“Yes,” she said, looking Holliday over. “A clever facsimile, but that accent is too anachronistic to be genuine. You can program a datapad faster than any organic being, except me, of course. You blink according to a series seven randomization protocol. And altering electric fields to appear human is easy for an android. What were you? Museum piece?”

The android shook its head. “Carnival attraction, ma'am. I can see that further deception on my part would only insult your good selves. But, as to your question, good Doctor, there are times when an android cannot sit idly by and permit wanton abuse by justice rendered truly blind.”

“And revolution is a costly business, eh?” The Doctor grinned. “Wait, 'truly blind?' You mean to say that thing has no visual receptors?”

“A gross caricature of the very paragon they represent,” Holliday said. “But forgive my metaphor. My own cleverness often obscures my intended meaning.”

“Oh, he knows that affliction well,” Romana said, glancing at the data scrolling across the pad. “Ah, yes. You're trying to transmit a deactivation code to the officer without triggering a wide-scale alert. May I?”

Holliday handed over the pad. She tapped a few keys. “Unfortunately, it wouldn't have worked anyway. This calculation is flawed.”

“Flawed? How is that possible, madam?”

The Doctor smiled widely. “Well, you may be a computer, but you didn't get a triple first at the Academy.”

“Nicely done, otherwise. But this must connect physically to the control interface.” Romana looked at the Doctor. “Can that be arranged?”

The Doctor whispered to Holliday. “You've got the strength of ten men, don't you?”

“Of a certainty, but I can't hope to fight a justice machine,” the android said.

The Justicon stomped to the center of the lobby and increased its volume. “Initial interrogations: complete. Findings: inconclusive. Further interrogations: necessary. All suspects: prepare for arrest.”

People huddled around each other, some weeping, all terrified.

The Doctor stepped forward, hands raised. “All right, all right!” He stepped around the Justicon, which turned to track him, placing its back to Romana and Holliday. “I confess, I did it. I robbed the bank. We had such a clever plan, you see, disguising ourselves as Time Lords and all.” He held out his hands, wrists together. “Take me in! I deserve nothing less.”

“Confession: received. Prepare for arrest.”

The Doctor pocketed his hands. “That was easy.”

“The suspect may make a statement prior to arrest.”

“Very well,” the Doctor said. “My statement follows: I have a sonic screwdriver in my pocket.”

“Statement recorded.” The Justicon raised its palm.

The Doctor drew his screwdriver and clicked it on. A low-pitched thrum filled the air around the Justicon. The police-bot buckled like a staggered prize-fighter. It drew its blaster, firing randomly as it gyrated and bellowed, “Targeting: impaired! Targeting: impaired!” Holliday tackled its legs from behind. “Targeting: restored! Summary judgment declared!”

“I can't hold it!” Holliday yelled as mechanical muscles strained and metal crunched. Romana slapped the connector into the Justicon's control port. The Justicon stiffened and locked, speaker warbling until it sparked, fell silent, and collapsed smoking.

The other customers got to their feet, stunned. Some stood rooted while others fled. The Doctor helped Romana up while Holliday crouched by the downed machine, smiling. “Doctor, I don't suppose you could help me get this panel off?” He rapped the Justicon's back.

The Doctor held up his screwdriver, grinning. He opened the panel and eased out a perfect cube of crystalline blue. He handed it to Holliday. “Now, I trust that you'll take care which of these individuals you release into the wild. Some of them might actually prove dangerous.”

“You may lay your mind at ease, Doctor,” he said, gazing at the memory core. “And Angelice Martiga is first on the list for reconstitution.”

“Splendid! Now then, while Romana downloads a few billion to your pad, I'll just see to my safe deposit!” he said, heading towards the vault.

Later that afternoon the Doctor and Romana weaved through bustling streets towards a familiar blue box tucked between two stratoscrapers.

“So, Doctor, did you know the android? Or was he simply a criminal?”

“Oh, Romana, don't cast stones,” the Doctor said. “They called George Washington a criminal and look how he turned out.”

“Who?”

“Anyway, you figured it out for me. We're only a few months from the Automaton Revolution. A whole new egalitarian order is coming to Gamma Hydra. I always wondered how that started.”

“Well, I assume you recovered your 'vital supplies'?”

“Absolutely!” he said, pulling a white wrapper from his pocket. “Jelly baby?”

Romana's jaw dropped open. “All of that for a bag of jelly babies?”

“Well with the randomizer active, we never know when we'll get back to Earth do we? Come now, have one and tell me these aren't essential!”

END

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