TARDIS Index File

Outsourcing (short story)

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Doctor: Sixth Doctor
Main setting: Fecundatis Base, the Moon, 11 July 2040
Key crew
Writer: Marc Platt
Release details
Part of: Short Trips: 2040
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Short Trips short stories
Carpenter/ Butterfly/Baronet Anteus

Outsourcing was the eleventh short story in the Short Trips anthology Short Trips: 2040. It was written by Marc Platt. It featured the Sixth Doctor.

Summary Edit

Vishesh Abeyesekere is working at his screen. He works for Signpost, an information service with a base on the Moon. He takes calls and notes the status of the search engines. At first he doesn't notice the increased humming of the search engines.

There are several hundred calls waiting for the search engine, and all of them are withholding their numbers. Vishesh answers a call from one of them, an irate blond man who complains about the music. He asks about Signpost then hangs up. When Vish takes another call, it's from the same man, who asks what year it is. The third call he takes is from the same man, but the line goes dead. Vish tries to contact the search engines and notices that his co-worker, Pearl, is late for her shift. He figures she is at the bar. He gets calls from people complaining that their screens are showing a strange mountain in an orange sky.

Vish gets an email from the blond man, who signs it as "The Doctor". When he tries to pinpoint the location of the email, he gets the repeated code T Four Zero. He hears back from the Doctor, who asks Vish to stop his machines from attacking his TARDIS.

Suddenly, the blast shutters close. Strange things appear in his head, and important things slip out of reach. He sees a message from the Doctor on the screen, and snaps back to normal. He tries to type on his keyboard but it crackles with electricity. He notices that his virtual cricket game is playing on screen, and the Doctor is one of the players. He and Vish talk. Vish tells the Doctor that the search engines are giving him trouble, and the Doctor says they're doing the same to his TARDIS. The Doctor suggests Vish take a walk outside. Vish can sense that the search engines are deciding if he is necessary, and heads for the airlock. He notes that Pearl's surface suit is still here; she can't be at the bar. He opens the door, for some strange reason expecting there to be a red-knobbed lever.

On the Moon's surface, he gets a message on his PAN from the Doctor. As they talk, Vish starts to understand more than he should about the Doctor and the TARDIS. The Doctor tells him that something keeps drawing him and the TARDIS back to this year, and the system's are now frozen. He is stuck in space between the Earth and the Moon. Vish tells him about the T Four Zero code, and the Doctor realises it means Type 40.

The Doctor sends Vish back into the complex. He tries talking to the search engines, which let him through but not the assembled maintenance workers and security officers. Vish recognises the mountain on the screen as something Gallifreyan. He opens one of the engine housings to find Pearl huddled inside. They are able to communicate with each other without speaking. They realise that the Doctor had previously requested a diagnostic for the TARDIS the last time he was here, and it's an endless task. The TARDIS will just keep coming back for updates. Vish and Pearl now know how to handle the situation and help the Doctor's TARDIS get free.

Characters Edit

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