the jewels of sujjiz

by jack zarin-rosenfeld
Copyright © 2002 by the author. Reproduction of any kind is forbidden.

Christopher Rodonante Cwej was looking around with his jaw almost touching the ground. This place was packed with all different kinds of species, from great green slime monsters to regular humans like Chris himself. Next to him, the Doctor was constantly flipping his question mark umbrella around his arm. The umbrella finally slipped a little off his wrist and knocked his hat off the top off his head.

‘Where’d you say we are?’ Chris asked, giggling as the Doctor picked his hat up and placed it crookedly on top of his head.

‘The Harbex Spaceport.’ The Doctor did not seem interested in answering Chris’s questions; he seemed to be looking for something.

‘Ah, this is Harbex. I’ve heard about this.’ That was the truth, he had heard about Harbex, but he hadn’t believed all the people who told him it was this size! He looked up at the grand entrance sign:

Go wherever YOU need to be!

‘So,’ said Chris, still analyzing the sign, ‘what exactly are you looking for Doctor?’

‘Do you remember that message we got in the TARDIS a little while before we landed here?’

Chris nodded.

‘It was from a friend of mine, Lord Corgin, high councilor of Sujjiz. He said he needed to discuss a matter of security with us, well me actually, but I suggested you come along.’ Chris beamed at the Doctor, then said, ‘So who exactly are we meeting here, Corgin himself?’

‘No, the security risk would be too high. I would imagine some guards, hopefully in Sujjiz uniforms, so we can recognize them.’

‘So you can recognize them,’ Chris corrected. The Doctor was looking around Harbex, his silver blue eyes tracing everybody’s movements and reactions. Chris squirmed with discomfort; they had been standing for a long time. As if sensing Chris’s uneasiness, the Doctor pointed to a pair of open chairs next to each other, and he and Chris walked over to them and sat down. A couple of minutes passed, minutes where both Chris and the Doctor were eyeing almost everyone who walked by. Between them they covered just about everybody. Chris would take the young women, the Doctor everyone else.

‘Ah, this must be them!’ said the Doctor, pointing and standing. Chris’s head followed the Doctor’s outstretched hand and saw a two huge men walk towards them, clad in dark green suits. As they drew closer Chris could just make out a seal on their right side. ‘Probably some sort of official seal,’ thought Chris to himself. He looked up at the Doctor, who had a wide smile. He held out a firm hand, still smiling, and said to one of the guards, ‘Norris! Head of security now, I see!’ The guard the Doctor was talking to smiled as well and grasped the Doctor’s hand. Chris couldn’t help giving a little chuckle as he saw the Doctor wince in pain.

‘Doctor! It’s been so long.’

‘Yes Norris, around 350 years. You see, time is a very fickle thing. One moment you’re-‘

‘Doctor,’ interrupted Chris, who sensed a speech coming, ‘shouldn’t we get down to business?’ Chris knew it wasn’t his place to say such a comment, but he didn’t want to be left out of this. Since he was an adjudicator, matters of security were all he ever dealt with back on Earth.

‘Yes, yes I’m sorry Chris. Right away. Jeff Norris, meet Chris Cwej, my latest companion.’

‘Nice to meet you Chris.’ Chris shook Norris’s hand and smiled. ‘Now Doctor, Chris, if you’d just follow me. We have a private little room where Lord Corgin himself is on the telescreen. He will, as I understand it, tell you what this is all about.’

The three of them walked towards what looked like the emptiest section of the entire spaceport. There, Norris lead them threw a door marked “Private”. Chris walked in and saw a man on a large screen at the front of the room, plus some other guards, all of similar build to Norris, standing around. Chris saw that the Doctor had sat down, and did the same.

‘Doctor, how nice it is to see you,’ said the man on the screen.

‘And you my friend Corgin.’ Corgin was an old man, with a full head of silver hair, and a beard, silver as well, that drooped down to the top of his chest.

‘Now Doctor,’ began Corgin, ‘please listen carefully. As you know, the famous jewels of Sujjiz have been treasured for as long as Sujjiz itself has existed. Every time a new Lord High Councilor is elected, they take the responsibility of protecting the jewels. In the past few decades the protection has been the giant security station, Grandike’s Meteor. But recently, a thief has attempted to get into the sector where the jewels had been locked away. While we don’t know for certain that he’s after the jewels, we can’t take any risks. I have decided to transport them back here, to Sujjiz, with me. They are to fly aboard the Golden Phoenix, a luxury space cruiser. Heavily guarded of course. If you wouldn’t mind, I would like you to accompany the jewels, undercover of course, on the journey back to Sujjiz. How about it, Doctor?’ The Doctor thought for what had to be around a minute, and then said to Chris and the guards, ‘If I could have a private moment talking to Lord Corgin please.’ The guards stood frozen until Corgin nodded, then they exited the room. Chris hadn’t got the message that the Doctor was talking to him as well, and sat quite still.

‘You too Chris,’ said the Doctor, not blinking. Chris gave an annoyed humph and stalked out of the room of the room. Outside Norris was leaning against the wall, and Chris, in order to break an embarrassing silence, started to talk to him. ‘So how did the Doctor help you, then?

•   •   •

A couple of minutes of pleasant conversation between Chris and Norris ended when the Doctor strolled out, grabbed Chris by his shirt sleeve, and said, “Back to the TARDIS Chris.’ They walked at a quick pace towards the TARDIS, which was in a men’s lavatory stall.

‘Why such a rush?’ Chris asked, struggling to catch his breath.

‘Don’t want to lose our reservation, do we Chris?’ The Doctor gave a wide smile. ‘We could walk, the ship is docked here, but I’d rather have the TARDIS on board with us.’ The Doctor opened the stall door, and he and Chris stepped inside.

‘So, what exactly is this ship like?’ As Chris’s question rolled off his tongue, he heard the familiar groaning sound of the TARDIS dematerializing. It stopped almost before it had started, and Chris realized that they had already arrived.

‘Well, after you,’ said the Doctor.

Feeling somewhat sheepish, Chris walked to the door and took one giant step out. As his right foot was catching up to his left, his nose collided with a wall in front of him. Chris looked around and saw total darkness. ‘Um, Doctor, I think you may have got the coordinates wrong.’

‘Push against the wall,’ mumbled the Doctor from inside the TARDIS. Without hesitation, Chris gave a strong push with his palm against the wall. The door flung open and Chris stepped out of the darkened room. He looked around and saw what looked like a hotel room. Two single beds separated by a narrow gap and a bedside cabinet, a TV facing the beds, a dining table, a refrigerator, and a bathroom. Chris looked backwards towards the TARDIS to see where it had landed. He gave a light chuckle, ‘Doctor, exactly why did you land the TARDIS in our closet?’ The Doctor stepped out, umbrella over his right arm, with a new dark scarlet tie on. He looked at Chris and said, ‘Wouldn’t want the maid getting alarmed now would we Chris? What would they think if they came across a big blue box right in the middle of the room?’

“Well Doctor,’ said Chris, ‘I’m going to have a look around the ship. Do you wanna come?’

‘No, that’s ok Chris. Just make sure you’re back in an hour; Corgin’s men say they want to talk to us.’

‘One hour Doctor,’ repeated Chris, as he walked out of the room.

•   •   •

Chris followed the signs placed all around the Golden Phoenix that led him to the nearest restaurant, as his stomach was growling loudly enough that people he walked by were giving him looks. He finally got to Landings, the ship’s café. Lava lamps and abstract paintings filled every wall and table. The lights were a kind of fluorescent greenish yellow, which set a mood that made Chris a little weary. The tables were clear glass; Chris found an empty one and pulled up a leather armchair. He took a look at the menu, which was conveniently placed on a touch-screen television, set in the middle of the table. He quite fancied the stuffed blue shark with chive and redcurrant sauce, but hesitated for a while, dithering between that and the pumpkin roulé. He decided to go with the shark and made the appropriate selection on the ‘interactive’ menu. Put his room number in and confirmed the order.

‘Your order should be ready in 15 minutes. Thank you,’ said a computerized voice, coming from the menu screen. It then slid back down through the table and disappeared.

The next couple minutes went by with Chris looking at all the paintings within the café. His shark with chive and redcurrent sauce arrived a steaming hot plate. After lightly sprinkling salt onto it, he dug in. The shark was moist while the chives didn’t taste fresh. It took him only 10 minutes to finish off the entire shark, and he realized he still had 15 minutes before he had to return to the Doctor. He turned his head to look backwards and noticed a blond girl that looked around his age. ‘Why not,’ Chris thought to himself. ‘Hi. I’m Chris,’ he said, offering his hand.

‘I’m Isabel, Isabel Blaine,’ she replied, not taking it.

‘Nice ship eh? It’s actually my first time on a cruise.’

‘Really, I hope you enjoy it,’ said Isabel, utterly uninterested. It took Chris a couple minutes worth of stupid questions to finally have the courage to ask, ‘So, where do you live? Any friends with you? Guy friends?’

‘Well not exactly a guy, but I guess you could call him a male.’ She smiled a wide smile, and nodded her head, indicating Chris to look behind him. Chris hesitantly swung his head around. A giant with long hair and muscles bigger then Chris’s head was walking towards them. His face looked like it had been burnt and his attempt to wear normal jeans and a T-shirt was not exactly successful.

‘Is that . . . is that . . . human?’ asked Chris.

‘No, he’s a Cargan, a race that grows around 1.5 times larger then humans.’

‘Hey Isabel,’ growled the cargan, ‘who’s this bozo?’ pointing at Chris.

‘This bozo asked me if I had any-‘

‘Actually, I think I’m just going to be off now.’ Chris stood up and walked away, taking big long strides. He could have sworn he could hear the pair chuckling behind him.

•   •   •

The Doctor was waiting patiently in the room, fiddling with his tie and reading from the brochure that was provided in the room. ‘Casino,’ he said to himself, ‘I must go there.’ He looked at his watch and frowned. It had been an hour and two minutes, and the Doctor did not like tardiness. As he saw it, they were there on a mission, not to enjoy the ship, except of course some gambling.

There came a noise from the door, and Chris walked into the room.

‘Hi Doctor, sorry, I got caught up a little bit. Couldn’t find my way back,’ said Chris, saying that last bit a little softer because he knew it would amuse the Doctor.

‘Not a problem Chris, now, we should be off to look at the jewels.’

‘Aren’t they supposed to be hidden?’

‘They are, that’s why we’re having a guard escort us to them. Right then, we’re off,’ said the Doctor, rolling all the r’s off his tongue. He picked up his umbrella, swung it around his arm once, and then headed out the door, closely followed by Chris.

•   •   •

They met the guard at Landings – embarrassingly, it was the assigned spot. Thankfully, neither Isabel Blaine nor the cargan was still here. Then, from the restaurant, they were taken to a hidden room. A special key and a numerical combination were required for entry into the room. There was one guard, stazer in hand, standing right behind a small black box. The guard who had escorted them had pulled out a different key from the one he used to get into the room, and placed it into a keyhole on top of the black box. The top opened up to reveal 3 cobalt blue jewels. The two side jewels seemed to be the same size, but the one in the middle was obviously larger. The Doctor walked towards the box and leaned over to examine the jewels. Chris heard him give a couple of satisfied grunts, until finally picking the large one up. He held it in his hand for a couple of seconds, and then placed it back in the box.

‘Very good, you all have your instructions,’ he said to the two guards. They both nodded. The Doctor smiled and exited the room, followed by Chris and the guard who escorted them, leaving one man in the room all alone.

•   •   •

The Doctor and Chris had arrived back to the room, and were both lying on their separate beds. Chris was reading a book and the Doctor was lying down, hands placed neatly on his chest, eyes closed, but not sleeping. Chris looked over to the Doctor, a frustrated look on his face. ‘I don’t see what’s so great about this book. So what, the guy invents a time machine, big deal, you have a time machine as well.’

‘How far have you got in the book Chris?’

‘Actually, I just read the back cover. But you can tell the whole story from that. I mean it seems so boring.’

‘Chris,’ said the Doctor, disapprovingly.

‘Oh ok,’ said Chris, who turned over on his stomach and began to actually read. The journey was going to be 3 more days, and in Chris Cwej’s mind, a long 3 days.

•   •   •

The casino was a very spectacular sight. Filled with Picasso Paintings and laser lights, it was one of the biggest rooms on board the Golden Phoenix. Not unlike Landings, the lighting in the casino was a dark fluorescent color, but that was basically to make the laser lights look sharper. The Doctor and Chris were sitting at a blackjack table. Chris looked over to the Doctor and saw that he had 4 stacks up to his chin in chips, while Chris had one stack of 6 chips. He looked down at his cards and saw that he had a ten and a king. He somehow managed to keep himself from jumping up and screaming ‘yahoo!’ and told the dealer that he wanted to stay. What he hadn’t realized was that the dealer had a king facing upwards. After everyone at the table had got all their cards, the dealer revealed that he as well had twenty, like Chris, and returned Chris’s original bet to him. Chris cursed under his breath. But what made it even worse was that the Doctor was smiling. Chris looked down at the Doctor’s cards and saw that he had twenty-one.

‘Doctor, I’m just going to go over there and play slots for a little.’

‘I think I’ll join you, I’m a little bored with blackjack.’ They sat next to each other and both placed coins into the machines. Chris watched as his machine showed him three cherries.

‘Yes, jackpot!’ yelled Chris. He was eagerly looking where the coins came out when suddenly, three small, blood red cherries fell out. Chris looked horrified. The Doctor gave a wide grin and pointed towards the sign on top of the slot machine. Chris saw what the Doctor was pointing at. FRUIT SLOTS-GET FRUIT WIN FRUIT. ‘Try one, I bet they’re quite good.’ The Doctor smile was even wider now.

•   •   •

‘Will the Doctor please report to the front desk,’ said a voice coming from a loud speaker, ‘I repeat, will the Doctor please report to the front desk.’ The Doctor shot a curious look at Chris and they both got up and headed for the exit.

Norris was waiting for them at the front desk. He and the Doctor greeted each other once again and Norris informed them that someone had been caught trying to break into the room with the jewels. The robber was waiting for the Doctor to talk to him in a private office. They all headed to the office and Norris opened the door, revealing the robber. It was a man, around the Doctor’s height, with a black beard and mustache. His hair was also black and very fluffy and curly. He wore brown suede boots up to his knees. The rest of his attire was equally unusual. He had a sort of protective covering over his shoulder and his shirt was a ragged tan, ripped in some places. The Doctor gave a very disapproving frown. ‘Glitz,’ he said, obviously annoyed.

•   •   •

‘Glitz, I shall be very upset if you are lying to me.’

‘Honest Doc, I didn’t try to steal nothing from Grandike’s. Too high-security for me. I just got a tip that these here jewels would be on board this ship The Golden Phoenix and I booked myself a room,’ pleaded Glitz. He added, ‘You can get me off, right Doc?’

‘I’ll try Glitz, I’m not quite sure why though.’ Chris took an immediate dislike to Glitz. This was just the kind of scum he would have liked to be busting when he was on Earth with Roz. Although, for a thief, he didn’t seem that slick or cunning. The Doctor stood up and walked out of the room. Chris looked at Glitz and asked, ‘Where’s he going?’

‘Oh, trying to get me off,’ said Glitz with a smile; Chris didn’t find it so amusing. Glitz continued, ‘Good guy, the Doc. Always been nice and loyal. So, you’ve been traveling with him for a while now.’ Chris nodded. ‘Yeah, well, last time I saw him he was with Mel, short, loud girl. ‘Course I got stuck with her. But he took along Ace, you must know Ace?’

‘You mean Dorthee?”Yeah, I think that was her real name.’

‘Only met her once actually, at another friend of ours wedding.’

‘Nice occasion wasn’t it,’ said the Doctor, returning to the room. ‘Well Glitz, you’re very lucky you know. I’ve convinced Norris to let you off and not mention it.’

‘Oh thanks Doc, I definitely owe you one.’

•   •   •

The rest of the day passed fairly quietly, except for the fact that Glitz was annoying Chris more and more.

•   •   •

The last day arrived, to Chris’s great relief. It was right after lunch and Chris was taking a nap in the room, with Glitz and the Doctor sitting at the dining table talking. The phone ringing woke Chris up. He reached to pick up the phone but the Doctor was already there.

‘Hello,’ said the Doctor, ‘yes . . . what? How? … Very well, we’re coming right now.’

‘What happened Doc?’ asked Glitz before Chris could.

‘The jewels have been taken.’

•   •   •

They arrived at the scene and what Chris noticed that there were now 4 guards, one on the floor. He didn’t look badly hurt, just shaken and stunned. A professional, Chris concluded: but that was hardly surprising.

Norris was talking to the Doctor, Chris, and Glitz. ‘Johnson had just started this shift when he says he heard a noise outside. He looked through the peephole and no one was there. Then he says he got knocked out, we guess someone from above. And, by the empty box, we found this.’ Norris reached in his pocket and pulled out a small card. The Doctor took it and read it out loud, ‘Sorry about this. Too much of a resistance, you know how I work. Booked a room, did the regular ventilation shaft thing, and that guard was almost too easy. Jewels look nice around my neck by the way!’ And instead of a signature, there was a paw, a Cat’s Paw.

‘Ah, yes, the Cat’s Paw. Heard of him, supposed to be the best. Bet he has a nice little collection.’ Sabalom Glitz’s eyes were twinkling.

‘Do we have enough time to search the rooms?’ asked Chris.

‘I doubt it, the Cat’s Paw is probably far away by now.’

•   •   •

The Cat’s Paw sped away from the Golden Phoenix in a stolen speedster taken from the all mighty King Sylvester of Stallone. Cat’s Paw

•   •   •

‘So, basically, they’re gone,’ said Chris. The Doctor frowned. All the guards, Chris, Glitz, Norris, and the Doctor, who was supporting the injured guard now, walked out of the room. Chris looked back and could’ve sworn the Doctor had whispered something to the injured guard.

•   •   •

Chris, the Doctor, and Glitz went back to the room.

‘He really must be something eh? This Cat’s Paw. Stole something I couldn’t!’ said Glitz. He was walking and looking around the room. He came to a halt at a chair and saw Chris’s adjudicator’s armor.

‘Now, now, what have we here. Real nice color,’ said Glitz, running his hand over the armor, ‘good feel. Hey Doc, who’s is this? I bet it could go for a nice little profit.’

‘It’s mine,’ said Chris, taking it away, ‘and it isn’t for sale I’m afraid.’

‘Well Glitz, there’s not much we can do here anymore; so I think we’re going to leave. C’Mon Chris.’

‘Bye Doc, been nice seeing you again. So long Chris.’

‘Bye,’ said Chris, very quickly. Chris and the Doctor walked into the TARDIS. Glitz was about to walk away when the Doctor poked his head out. ‘Glitz, do take care of yourself.’ He smiled and closed the TARDIS door behind him.

•   •   •

Lord Corgin of Sujjiz was sitting in his private office, reading over some papers. He heard a faint wheezing, groaning sound get louder and louder. He knew exactly what it meant and without looking up he said, ‘Hello Doctor.’

‘Hello Corgin, here are those jewels you wanted.’ The Doctor reached in his pocket and pulled out the three jewels that Chris had seen on the ship.

‘Thanks Doctor, knew you’d come through.’ Chris’s jaw dropped. All he could manage to say was, ‘Doctor, how’d you … did you? …’

‘Did I what? Steal the jewels? No. But I wasn’t as careless as I seemed. Think Chris, you know me. Do you think I would leave two minor security measures and one inept guard to stop a master thief? You know better then to think that Chris.’

‘So, you mean those weren’t the real jewels in there?’

‘Nope,’ said Corgin, ‘never were. I told the Doctor where the jewels were hidden when I talked to him privately at Harbex. He just picked them up on the ship and hid them in his room.’

‘I told the guard who was in the room,’ the Doctor continued, ‘to let the jewels be stolen if someone had tried to break in. Worked very well wouldn’t you say Corgin?’

‘I think I would Doctor.’ Corgin smiled. Chris couldn’t believe that such a simple plan had worked so effectively.

‘Well Corgin, we’re off.’

‘Good-bye Doctor, and thanks for your help.’ The Doctor and Chris walked back into the TARDIS. Corgin could hear the Doctor say, ‘You know Chris. I’ve had cleverer plans. For instance, once I had this thing called the Key to Time.’ But the Doctor’s voice was drowned out as the TARDIS started to de-materialize and fade from view.