So far the trail was cold. The leads they
had checked out so far had all been rumour; conjecture or even just excuses to get the Doctor out of the Capitol while Cardinals
plotted and schemed. Today was just as slow as the Doctor sat behind her desk, she dressed only in an elegant but simple white
silk gown, with her fluffy brown hedgehog slippers resting upon its wooden surface. The Doctor, a time traveller, had nipped
off on a shopping trip to an Ikea store and bought some really good stuff with which to do up the office. A further trip to
a garden centre had provided some greenery to give the place some life and finally a trip to the 1970's had provided the five
lava lamps and brightly coloured silk cushions that were dotted around the office to add some real colour to it.
flipped through the pages of Hello before starting on Time Lady's Own before settling on Which TARDIS? She was reading an
interesting article on the new type 750 GTI when a Chancellery guard burst into the office closely followed by the Doctors
two young companions, Claire Mason and Hannah Sinclair, who were both dressed in exotically coloured swimsuits and some flip-flops
covering their feet, protecting their toes from the cold floor. Hannah, who was wearing the blue, yellow and green costume,
was also carrying a ball of some description under her arm.
"He burst in while we were playing volleyball." Hannah explained,
holding the volleyball in her hands as proof, if any was required. "I was on match point when he disrupted my serve and I
hit him on the head, quite by accident."
Claire laughed and Hannah joined in.
The guard's cheeks blushed slightly and
handed the sealed envelope to the Doctor and left having done his task to the best of his ability. He was sure it was no accident;
he had been nowhere near their game at the time.
The Doctor smiled slightly at the high spirits and then she opened the
letter with her silver katana letter opener. She read its contents slowly to make sure that she didn't miss a thing, it was
another sighting of the Valeyard, but why hadn't it come through regular channels? The use of a courier to deliver the note
was suspicious and the seal was just the regular Rassilon variety. It could have been anyone inside, or outside of the Capitol.
does it say?" Claire asked. She was wearing the yellow, white and pink costume and she had been enjoying a nice game of volleyball
inside the virtual reality suite in her and Hannah's shared rooms. "Is it a sighting of him?" Her face turned red with anger
at the though of that depraved, psychotic monster who pretended to be the Doctor.
"Will we have to travel far?" Hannah
asked. She had only been to a few worlds and she had hated each and every one of them. They were all so different and awful.
Even this place, which wasn't so bad, got her down; it just wasn't the planet she was used to.
"You'd both better pop off
and get changed into something hardwearing." The Doctor said before standing up. "I've got a bad feeling about this one. It
has an odd feel in the mouth to it, a sort of fizzyness that is not right at all." After her two friends had left to go and
get changed the Doctor read through the note once more before leaving for her own nearby rooms to put on something without
Clothes were strewn all over their rooms as Claire and Hannah pulled out outfit after outfit but nothing
seemed to have the right feel to it. Finally they came across a couple of dungarees in the last drawer they raided. They added
identical looking pink tops and even did their hair the same until they were dressed the same.
"This should give her food
for thought," Claire observed.
Hannah agreed as she fastened the buttons that held the blue denim straps in place. She
didn't want them to fall down at least in front of anyone but Claire. She snapped out of her romantic reverie as they left
to join the Doctor.
They met at the TARDIS bay, located in the very centre of the Capitol. It was a large room
filled with a wide selection of TT capsules of various types. To one side was the slightly battered police box shaped craft,
which was the Doctors very own type 40. It had become stuck in this shape shortly after arriving in early 1960's London just
before that incident with the two teachers of the Doctor's granddaughter Susan. Perhaps one of them caused the chameleon circuit
to fuse? Or did the TARDIS fall in love with the shape and melt her circuits deliberately? Despite several attempts to repair
the circuit, some more successful than others, the old girl had been in this shape for a long, long time.
The console room
was tidier than usual, the Doctor had been forced to relocate her cherished bonsai tea plants to an inner room so that their
precious bodies weren't damaged by the variety of technicians, cardinals and museum curators who demanded access to the Doctor's
ship on a variety of urgent matters. The Doctor had taken great delight in destroying each and every recording device they
had planted inside her home. This had stirred the anger of the Celestial Intervention Agency but one look from her had sent
their agent running back screaming for mercy. You didn't live for two millennia and not develop 'the look' did you?
and Hannah had made an effort, the dears had really tried but matching dungarees was really too much, and so the Doctor had
pointed them in the direction of the clothes rooms. She suspected that they just wanted to try on some of the designs from
some of the planets she had visited over the years. She too had raided its contents from time to time, even trying one of
Zoe's old skin-tight silver numbers for a few months. However she just adored this crushed velvet trouser suit and the plastic
bangles a la Jo Grant set it off very nicely.
Casually she set the destination co-ordinates into the databank and smiled
to herself as it took only microseconds. The technicians must have really sorted the TARDIS systems out this time. The green
plasma dome burst into its wild chaotic active state and they were off on their way to a possible showdown with the Valeyard.
after she readjusted her orchid buttonhole her two companions burst into the console room both wearing new outfits. The Doctor
stared at them for a few seconds before commenting. "So we're dressing as Columbia from Rocky Horror and Rambo today are we?"
Hannah put down the plastic
gun. "I'm dressed as Lara Croft, Doctor." She tried to look like the computer game heroine but it appeared more like Harley
Quinn dressed in a green top and brown shorts.
Claire tried to do a tap-dance routine but she tripped over her feet and
landed in a heap. "I think I'll try something more sensible ok Doctor?" She fled the console room dragging Hannah behind her.
"Come on." She uttered to the other girl.
"Wear something sensible, this could get rough," she called after the two young
women. Well they made an effort ...well one of them did, sort of. She might have to put her foot down if they didn't start
trying harder. The Doctor knew that Hannah had a bit of a problem with some of the worlds they had visited so far but this
wasn't helping surely?
They found the TARDIS wardrobe rooms, or the UN clothes mountain, as Claire liked to call
it after a brief visit to the late 1980's. Once again they tried on a number of outfits, some quite flattering and some very
revealing. One or two left nothing to the imagination at all, but they knew the Doctor wouldn't approve of them. Their choices
made, they stuffed the piles of skirts, blouses, lingerie and boiler suits back inside the cupboards. They had discovered
that the ship would sort them all out before the next raid, putting everything neatly on hangers or in drawers.
of science." Claire commented happily as they made their way back to the console room.
The Doctor began to warm
a pot to make some tea when the TARDIS materialisation chimed. "That was quick, and smooth. Very smooth. I must remember to
thank some one for it. Quick look at the readouts Doctor? Yes, why not Doctor. Oh and Doctor. Yes Doctor? Stop talking to
yourself dear; it's a sign of madness? Do you think so Doctor? I always thought it was a sign you were in control of your
"Who were you talking to Doctor?" Claire asked, standing in the doorway. "I heard voices. Do you like the new
outfit?" She strutted into the console room and did a twirl like a catwalk model.
"Very nice Claire. Although I'm not sure
that the black rubber t-shirt is you. I remember Jo Grant bought it when we stopped off once in 1977. It was all the rage
then for about three months or something. It was when we went to see the Brigadier at his new school after he had retired
from active service." The Doctor's mind returned to the present. "Sorry Claire, I was a thousand years and ten bodies away."
then made her entrance, she had swapped the Lara Croft look for an Ellen Ripley look, and she felt very Aliens. Just as long
as she didn't meet one of them, she'd probably do something highly embarrassing if she did. "How's this then? These pants
have to be more practical than cycling shorts." Being American she couldn't understand why the British insisted on calling
pants trousers. It was very baffling indeed.
"Very nice Hannah. Now if you're both ready we'll have a little look around."
The Doctor pressed the button on the console room that opened the double inner doors that lead outside.
"This is the part
I was so looking forward to." Hanna said. She gladly took Claire's hand; she made her feel a lot more secure.
immediate panorama was dominated by a whole variety of trees. Everywhere Hannah looked it was trees, trees and more trees.
Most of them were green which gave her a slightly less apprehensive feeling. The grass was very dry and a tired, withered
light brown in colour. The heat coming down from the large slightly blue tinged sun was very hot and she was soon soaked in
sweat. She felt sorry for poor Claire roasting away in her rubber top and she wished she would just embrace nature and remove
it. However Claire was too stubborn to admit defeat and so the top stayed on. The local animals seemed to be staying away
which was nice.
The ship seemed to be in a natural sort of clearing now that they looked behind the blue box shaped time
machine. It was more trees in the near distance. "I think this maybe planet of the trees Doctor." Hannah teased the slightly
older looking woman. Well she may look the right side of thirty-nine she though but she's way older than many religions on
"Hmmm? Yes Hannah there is a definite arboreal feel about this place isn't there." She casually removed a coin
from a pocket, pointed in two different directions, flipped the coins, then pointed in one of the directions. She looked at
the coin again, turned it over and headed off in the other direction. "Come on you two, shake a leg."
Claire and Hannah
headed off behind the Doctor, both of them laughing at her method of choosing the direction they should travel in.
walk through the trees was quite pleasant really. It was much cooler under the canopy shade created by the overlapping branches
and water parched leaves. The ground was covered in a tight, clinging moss-like plant with small white five petalled flowers.
The walk turned into a kind of nature ramble as they took it in turns to find odd and peculiar looking stones and pieces of
trees. At a second clearing they found a patch of nicely perfumed flowers with bright red leaves. Claire picked a bunch of
these and spent the next half hour weaving them into Hannah's hair. The result was a bit of a shambles but not a total disaster
either. The Doctor even added one of the flowers to her buttonhole as its colour and shape went with the delicate orchids
she already possessed.
Their first sighting of the native fauna took place not long later, it was a small squirrel like
animal but with a short rabbits fluffy tail and the ears of a cat. Hannah quite liked this funny looking creature and she
even laughed as it tried to eat a large piece of fruit. Maybe she could get used to this time travelling thing after all she
mused to herself. The antics of the strange animal quite disarmed them and they threw caution to the wind as their journey
progressed deeper into the forest.
The next clearing was a mass of dried grass, it blew about silently in the slight breeze
that the clearing allowed. The Doctor's attention was distracted by something clearly out of place in the glade; it was a
person. "Valeyard!" She snapped. "So the report was right for once." She advanced towards him, intent on capturing him herself.
my dear Doctor! You are quite the na´ve fool, aren't you? Of course the report was real, I was the one who sent it to you.
I still have an ear and an eye inside the Capitol, sponsors if you will. They think that Gallifrey needs a strong hand to
take us out of the centuries of obstinate monotony. A new broom and all that."
The Doctor looked at the vile and corrupted
incarnation of herself. "Yes I imagined you would not have given up so easily. So you see yourself as Lord President do you?
Rassilon preserve us from idiotic despots. Didn't we learn from Borusa's example? Didn't you learn your lesson? Power corrupts
Valeyard, it corrupts absolutely."
"Ah the paragon of virtue. Three times President and still a fool." The Valeyard produced
a box of matches. "They say that fire is the only force that can truly purify. I think it's time we found out just how pure
you really are Doctor." He removed a single match and lit it.
"No Valeyard, don't!" the Doctor shouted, realising his intentions.
"Kill me, let my companions live."
"Too late Doctor, time to say goodbye once and for all." He let the burning match drop
to the ground before taking a step backwards. "My TARDIS is invisible Doctor." With that he shut the doors, appearing to simply
vanish to the three women standing outside the ship.
"Come on, this way." The Doctor herded her two companions back along
the path they had just followed.
"Run Doctor run." The Valeyard watched the three females disappearing into the
tree line before he dematerialised his ship into the vortex. "I love it when a plan comes together." He clapped his hands
together before taking a sip of tea from the tea service that rested on top of his ships central column. He turned to see
the homunculus figure of David Mason standing nearby. "Oh you want to go and have some fun? Well remember what I told you;
of course you will because you're programmed to obey, aren't you?" The Valeyard materialised briefly to allow the figure to
leave before dematerialising once more.
They ran as fast as they could. They ran for their lives past trees and
through briar patches. Surely these briars weren't here when they passed this way before? Behind them was the increasing heat
from the out of control inferno that burned behind them. They tried to stay together but thick choking smoke swept passed
them, it filled their lungs and made them feel sick. Soon they could hardly see which way to go in and it was not long before
the three time travellers were separated.
Hannah found her way into a smoke filled clearing but instead of the
plants and animals she was expecting she discovered a huge herd of various animals. She stifled a scream when a large spider
like creature looked at her and breathed putrid halitosis on her face. There were all sorts of creatures and many of them
scared her. They all just looked at her, which was the worst part of it. Gingerly she was forced to edge around the clearing
stepping over and around the bulk of the animals, scared that one of them was going to kill and eat her any second now.
struggled on through the dark smoke. She felt sick and her head throbbed like some one was inside it with a pneumatic drill.
She couldn't see where she was going at all, it was just all grey. All she could do was head away from the heat and hope she
was heading towards the TARDIS.
This wasn't good, Doctor, the erratic Time Lady complained loudly to her subconscious.
Her subconscious responded by putting an 'out to lunch' sign up in her psyche. On all sides there was fire. It closed in slowly
ensnaring her in a trap more final than any she had been in before. When the inevitability of her situation set in she stopped
looking around and simply sat down on the dried grass, crossed her legs and waited.
Hannah made it to the other
side of the animal and she started to set of towards the direction she hoped the TARDIS was at. Unfortunately the animals
started to follow her and she panicked. Setting off at a running pace once more she tried to flee their attention but they
easily kept up with her. "Shoo." She cried and waved her arms about but the daft creatures followed her still.
to a river, more of a stream really and Hannah used a couple of large rocks to ford it and looking back she was quite relieved
to see the animals unsteadily pawing the ground on the other side. This was better, only a few of the strange looking squirrels
dared to follow her and this was ok because she liked them.
Claire stumbled about, tripping over a large rock and
twisting her ankle. She shouted a large and varied vocabulary of expletives; several of them near impossible for a human to
speak in normal circumstances. It really was amazing what an innocent young traveller can learn on the back of loo doors on
a thousand different planets. She'd even added some of her own now and again just to add the human touch to planets her species
may never otherwise encounter. This of course had in time led to a few disapproving stares from the Doctor but Claire was
sure the Doctor was responsible for some of the more varied texts over the last few months.
Her thoughts snapped back to
the present when she put her weight on the ankle again and it screamed in protest. "Sod this." She said out loud before falling
back down to the ground, the ankle more painful than ever before.
The sound of a dry twig snapping was the first sign that
she wasn't alone. "Doctor? Hannah? I've gone over on my ankle and I can't stand up properly. She gasped when she saw it was
the robot duplicate of her dead brother. "What are you doing here? What do you want with me?"
"I will help you." The robot
David picked Claire up easily with one hand and slung her over its shoulder. "I will save you from this fire."
too tired and shocked to protest, the pain and exhaustion were too much and she blanked out.
This was not looking
good the Doctor observed; the fire was still closing in. The only thing she could do was hope that the air ran out and the
fire died with it. The air was becoming thinner but not quickly enough. To aid matters she shut off her breathing, drip-feeding
her body from the air stored inside her lungs. Then she recited the ancient meditation techniques K'Anpo had taught her long
ago and she sent herself into a deep trance.
"This is too dull." The Valeyard materialised his TARDIS to allow
David and the Doctor's brat inside before taking off once more. "I thought you were going to kill her?"
"I must save this
one. I don't know why." Carefully it put the girl’s body onto the floor before resetting the controls. "I must make
sure she is safe."
"Oh this is tedious, quite tedious. Have your control circuit melted or something? You're supposed to
obey me, kill her and be done with it." The Valeyard tapped his foot and waited for a reply. When none was forthcoming he
threw his hands in the air and sighed. "I've half a mind to dump the two of you in the middle of that inferno and see which
one of you melts first. My money's on the female but you can never tell."
Claire awoke and coughed. She was lying
in the middle of the clearing, next to the TARDIS. Even here it was smoky, a sure sign that the fire was close by. Had she
imagined David before she blacked out or was it real? She couldn't tell but eagerly she pulled her key out of her pocket and
unlocked the doors, stepping inside for a gulp of fresh air and a glass of ice-cold water.
There was a sudden knock
on the door of the Doctor's buried mind. It was her subconscious, back from where ever it had been. Hello Doctor it seemed
to say, sorry to worry you but the fire has all but died down. The bad news however is that your boot is on fire and it's
only a matter of time before your trousers catch alight too. "Wha?" The Doctor's eyes snapped open and she looked down to
see that the tip of her boot was on fire. Quickly she put it out and bushed the fine ash and broken grass off her outfit.
She looked around at the scorched landscape, a tear rolling down her cheek at the vision of blackened earth and the smouldering
stumps of the once magnificent trees. She started to pick her way through the burnt remains until she came upon the seared
remains of a number of small rodent-like animals. They must have huddled together here, panicking and afraid, as the fire
got ever closer. She shook her head before continuing through the incinerated remains of the forest.
as fast as she could now, the fire was very close behind and there was a slight wind feeding it, whipping it up into a hotter
and hotter wall of flame. She carried one of the small animals in her hands, she didn't wonder why; she just knew she had
to rescue it. If she could save this animal then she could save herself. It was maybe twisted logic but it gave her all the
hope she needed to keep running.
The heat was pretty bad now and her back felt like a slice of bread slowly toasting over
an open fire. At least it dried the sweat out of her t-shirt and it could be worse, she could be freezing to death on some
ice planet, surrounded by killer penguin spiders and reptile polar bears like last week. She cursed her the whole planet under
her breath before redoubling her efforts to survive anything it could throw at her.
It came as a relief when she ran into
a clearing and charged head first into the Doctor. "Doctor, get up, the fire's right behind me."
"Hannah? I'm glad to see
you. Yes I've seen the damage, hurry this way, there's a bit that's already been destroyed, and we should be safe there."
The Doctor and her companion hurried towards the black and charred ruined section of forest. A cloud of pallid smoke hung
over the stumps adding to its already bleak vista. "Have you seen Claire?" The Doctor asked at last. "I do wish you girls
wouldn't wander off like that, you always get into trouble." She saw pain and anguish on Hannah's face and started to apologise.
"Oh don't worry it's not you, I'm just concerned about Claire. I'm sure she'll be fine it's just I do prefer it when I know
you're safe and secure. Come on, the TARDIS is this way." The Doctor set off walking towards her home.
Hannah was impressed
and a little baffled. How did she know? Was it magic? The Doctor didn't look like a woman who was interested in magic. Finally
resorted to asking questions to get answers. "How can you tell Doctor? Is it magic?"
"Magic?" The Doctor stifled a laugh.
"Clark's law may suggest that it is to you but it's really just a signal the TARDIS constantly emits
that my hearing can detect on an unconscious level. Remarkable man Arthur, I must take you to meet him one day. He's in for
a bit of a shock, the last time he saw me I had the most awful taste in clothes."
law Doctor? Hannah asked the quirky Time Lady.
"Oh just that anything suitably advanced will appear to be magic to someone
who doesn't know how it works. It's a bit like television really. Your average caveman would think that he was seeing great
magic as he sat down with his popcorn and diet coke to watch a video of last nights Star Battle. Could you explain how it
works to him so that he understood it?" The lecture over the Doctor slipped into moody silence mode and scanned the nearby
woods for any trace of unpleasantness regarding Claire. She hoped that she was fine but in this inferno all bets were off.
had walked for quite a while now and wherever Hannah looked it was all burned trees and the charred bones of small animals.
Then there was a movement in her pants pocket as something uncurled and stretched its tiny legs. Quickly she pulled the small
animal out of it's make shift nest and hugged it gently.
"Looks like someone's made a new friend." The Doctor tickled the
animal's stomach gently. "What's his name?" She asked.
"I can keep him?" Hannah asked excitedly.
The Doctor's brow furrowed
sharply. "You can see to his needs. Remember all life is sacred and no one can own another's life. That sort of thing makes
me a little tetchy."
"I think I'll call him Lucky." Hannah announced, holding the newly named Lucky up in the air.
it is then. I'm sure I can recreate his natural habitat inside one of the TARDIS's green rooms. Just a matter of getting the
ecosystem balanced, then he can run and play to his little hearts content. Of course he's going to need a lot of love."
love him like he was my own child and Auntie Claire will love you too, yes she will." Hannah started to tickle Lucky's stomach
The TARDIS was in a curiously unaffected patch of grassland. A circular patch, no more than a metre from
any edge of the TARDIS had been left quite alone by the fire. The Doctor pushed the doors open and a cloud of thick greasy
smoke spilled out of the doors. Fearing the worst she rushed inside. However she was greeted by the sight of Claire who had
set up a gas stove in the room and was busy frying some bacon in an old frying pan.
"Ahem." The Doctor coughed. "Feeling
quite all right are we? Thought we'd turn my home into a kitchen did we?"
Claire put the frying pan down and hugged the
Doctor and Hannah. "Oh I'm so glad you're both alive. I've made some food if you're both hungry."
The Doctor inspected
the contents of the pan and felt a priest was of more use but she was too polite to say it out loud. "Mmmm, looks delicious
Claire." Sandwiching the least burnt slice of bacon between ketchup-coated slices of bread the Doctor sampled Claire's cooking.
"Not bad, a little well done but it's edible, which is the whole point of cooking."
Hannah showed Claire her newfound pet,
Lucky. "He's going to need an Aunt and I hope you'll help me look after him."
Claire held the small bundle of fur in her
arms and fell in love with it. "Oh he's so cute, yes, you are aren't you?" Maybe we can build him a few things, so he can
get some exercise. Maybe a little tunnel he can run through?"
"Go on you two, I'll tidy this lot up." The Doctor started
to clear away the cooking equipment.
Andred sat behind his desk and listened to the Doctor's report. The Valeyard
had managed to contact someone inside the Capitol either by communication or in person. The sheer audacity of the man's arrogance
was too much and he intended to apply to the President of a restriction on communications and closer monitoring of all channels.
He probably wouldn't get them but it would lead to more resources instead. In the long term this might be more suitable to
the security of Gallifrey. There were rumours that the Daleks might one day try a second offensive against the Time Lords
for the finer secrets of time travel. If that led to another Time War then he would need all the guards at his disposal, as
he could get them.
"We managed to survive the holocaust somehow but he got away. There was no trace of his time path at
all. I think he may have found a way to hide it from the sensors of other capsules." Her report finished the Doctor relaxed
and picked up the photograph of Leela, Andred and their young son. "How is the little one?" She sat down on the edge of the
desk and relaxed slightly. "I meant to pop by for the birth, I'm sure none of you knew how to deal with it."
was there, she had been to Earth and learned some of their barbaric practices. I can't thank her enough for it." Andred broke
out into a smile. "Seeing as you're going to be around here a while longer, I insist that you and your two friends come round
for a meal this evening. Leela can do this amazing dish with live animals; I've never had anything quite like it before. She
calls them kebabs I think."
"An ancient and traditional Earth dish. Ok then, I accept. I can't speak for Claire and Hannah
of course but I'll be there and I'll bring a bottle." The Doctor stood up and turned to leave. "Oh one thing, the guard who
brought the message to me, you may want to start your investigation with him."
"Thank you Doctor, see you later." Andred
returned his attention to the mountain of paperwork carefully hidden below his desk. It never paid to look overworked in his
experience, they might never think of calling him out to some of the crime scenes if they really knew how busy he was.
Doctor stopped by Claire and Hannah's quarters and was about to knock when she heard the sound of laughter and realised they
were having fun with their new friend Lucky. She changed her mind and headed off to the TARDIS, she knew just the shop in
Paris where she could get a gorgeous dress from, and there was a great little
wine shop nearby. If she hurried she would get there before it closed.